Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 65 / the alternative music tabloid
Young guv – 12 The go-betweens – 14 Cat’s eyes – 16 Tobias jesso jr – 18 matthew e. white – 20 10 years of L&Q – 23-30 did I love 2005? by rory attwell Modern history: all you need to know about the last decade Ink & Paper: A commemorative board game an A-Z guide of how to publish a music magazine
Sound savers – 32
Contr ib u tor s
A dve r tising
i n fo@lou dandq u ie t.com
Am y P e ttif e r , au stin l a ike , Chr is Watke ys, daisy j o ne s, dav id za mmitt, Danie l D y l a n- W r a y , dan ke ndall, Danny Cante r , Elinor Jone s, Edg ar Sm ith, Fr ankie Nazar do, j ack do he r ty , JAMES f . Tho mpson, ja m e s w e st, Janine Bu llm an, j e nna fo x to n, joe g og g ins, josh su nt h, le e b u llman, Gab r ie l G r e e n, Gem har r is, Mandy Dr a ke , Nathan We stle y, Owe n Richa r ds, P hil Shar p, Re e f Y ou nis, Sam cor nf or th, samu e l ba l l a r d, Sam Walton, T im Cochr a ne , tho mas may, to m f e nw ick
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Lo ud And Qu ie T PO Box 67915 Lo ndon NW1 W 8TH
c o v er i l l u s t rat i o n M a t t J o h n s t o ne www. m a t t j o h n s t o n e. c o . uk
We thought, briefly, about letting the 10th Anniversary of Loud And Quiet go by unmentioned. After all, there aren’t many things that other people are less interested in than your birthday, apart from “the strangest dream” you had last night. When your MO is what’s coming up, to bang on about what has been seems particularly reductive. Of the magazines I’ve regularly read in the past, I’d always be disappointed to find out that their new issue is some kind of ‘special’. I was looking forward to this month’s regular features and all the things I was expecting, now I’ve got this – a lazy compendium episode of Friends, based around Joey’s dumb bits, which I’ve already seen. As you can see, we changed our minds. It seemed callous and dumb not to make a little song and dance about being in print for 10 years. It’s something I’m very proud of and thankful for. And it’s allowed us to run this special front cover, illustrated by Matt Johnstone. Still, as we don’t expect anyone to feel quite as chuffed about all this as ourselves, we’ve limited our commemorative content to 8 pages (plus a Party Wolf ‘best of’ spread – he is, after all, the closest thing we have to Joey), and tried to make it as un-self-indulgent as possible. Rory Attwell has recalled his 2005 for it (a year in which his joke band, Test-Icicles, did better than anyone who was trying), and I’ve written an A-Z guide to publishing a music magazine, in the hope that someone might find it of some use to give it a go themselves. Based on the history of the magazine, we’ve designed and printed a board game, too. And we’ve mapped out the last decade in pop culture, if for no other reason than to remind you that Leroy Jenkins and Deal or No Deal were big in 2006. Everything else is as it should be. We’ve still got 6 features from the modern day, and album reviews for the future. Thank you for continuing to enjoy what we do. Stuart Stubbs
Ed itor - Stu ar t S tu b b s Art Dir e ctor - Le e Be lche r Sub Editor - Ale x W ilshir e fi l m e ditor - IAN ROEBUCK
T his M o nth L &Q L o ve s J a m ie w o o l ga r , J o n l aw r e nce , K e o ng w o o , ke n l o w e r , kr is gil l e s pie , l ucy hur st, M a tt J o hnsto ne , N a tha n be a ze r , r o r y a ttw e l l , so und save r s The views ex pressed in Loud And Quiet are those of the respective contributors and do not necessari ly reflect the opinions of the m agazine or its staff. All rights reserved 2015 Loud And Quiet LTD. ISSN 2049-9892 Printed by S har man & Comp any LTD . Distributed by loud and quiet LTD. & forte
09. Party Wolf L&Q 7*. November 2005
10. Solange L&Q 49. June 2013 11. tUnE-yArDs L&Q 16. April 2011 12. Metronomy L&Q 27*. September 2007
13. Warpaint L&Q 21. September 2010 -
14. Future Islands L&Q 17. May 2010
15. David Lynch L&Q 50. July 2013
16. Edward Leeson aka Ed Larrikin L&Q 15*. September 2006
20. HEALTH L&Q 9. August 2009
21. Goat L&Q 62. October 2014
18. Kwes L&Q 34. January 2012 19. Gold Panda L&Q 9. August 2009
17. Mica Levi L&Q 39. June 2012
22. Fair Ohs L&Q 12. November 2009 23. Dizzee Rascal L&Q 25*. August 2007 24. Arctic Monkeys L&Q 6*. September 2005
01. The Horrors First featured on the cover of Loud And Quiet 5 (vol. 3). April 2009 02. John Lydon L&Q 37. April 2012 03. Katy B L&Q 25. February 2011 04. Bat For Lashes L&Q 12. November 2009 05. Patrick Wolf L&Q 20*. February 2007 06. Connan Mockasin L&Q 53. October 2013 07. Swans L&Q 23. November 2010
On The Cover Over the last 10 years weâ€™ve been lucky enough to meet and interview a lot of the musicians we admire the most. Illustrator Matt Johnstone grouped some of them together for our special front cover /
25. Fever Ray L&Q 21. September 2010 26. Loud And Quiet Editor Stuart Stubbs L&Q 1*. January 2005 27. Test-Icicles L&Q 9*. January 2006 28. Mac Demarco L&Q 38. May 2012 29. Pete Doherty L&Q 1*. January 2005 30. Erol Alkan L&Q 10. September 2009 * vol. 1 All other issues from vol. 3
08. The xx L&Q 5. April 2009
books + second life
I’ll Be Back! Reef Younis investigates what rock stars do next No.7: Terminator X and his giant poultry / Farmer X was lured back for his first album in sixteen years. Well, almost. The apocalyptically-titled ‘Judgement Day’ hinted that the reasons he left music in the first place were neither forgiven nor forgotten: “The music industry corporate executives destroy these sacred elements that Hip Hop and Rap were developed on,” the album release said, “Judgment Day is here to counter the chaos and mayhem that the current state of Hip Hop has caused to besiege our community.” Determined to reinstall some of hip-hop’s lost arts, ‘Judgement Day’ got shifted in the calendar and never saw the light of day. Instead, Terminator X moved onto the airwaves with his own radio show. “The original Hip Hop has been lost to the music business,” he said in an interview last year. “It was done out of love of Hip Hop music and culture. The DJ was one of the most important elements of Hip-Hop. Now, DJs in Rap music are almost irrelevant.” It makes a second comeback as unlikely as the first but as a man who was once at the forefront of a musical movement – even with all those years on the ostrich farm – he was never going to stick his head in the sand.
In a different life, a more revolutionary-minded Norman Rogers promised to ‘Fight the Power’, ‘Bring the Noise’ and ‘Countdown to Armageddon’ amidst a slew of other politically-charged, punbased Public Enemy album and track names. Better known as Terminator X, he was the man behind the decks on some of the most influential hip-hop albums ever made – from ‘ItTakes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back’ to ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ – right through Public Enemy’s incendiary challenge to white America. In the end though, it didn’t take millions to hold Terminator X back, just a motorcycle accident that shattered a leg, and growing discontent with the greed and cutthroat nature of the music industry. After a handful of solo albums in ’91 and ’94, and a decade of helping soundtrack the societal rage of the black community, Norman relocated to a 15acre farm in North Carolina. Finding solitude in an out-of-the way location on his family’s ranch, he quickly turned his hands towards a different purpose: raising African black ostriches. Swapping turntables for talons proved to be surprisingly profitable with a typical ostrich commanding around $1,000, yet despite farm life earning that scratch, retirement didn’t stick, and
by ja nine & L ee bullm a n
Girl In A band by kim gordon faber & Faber
As a member of Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon defined for a generation what New York Cool looked and sounded like. As part of one of the counter-culture’s golden couples she offered credence to the belief that you could have it all. To offer her take on her life and career thus far, Gordon has written an anti-rock memoir as steeped in the visual arts, where her background lies, as it is in the swirl and drama of Sonic Youth’s music, the rise and corporate takeover of grunge, and her relationship withThurston Moore. Girl in a Band reveals Gordon as insightful, smart and thoughtful and the book captures beautifully the downtown artistic atmosphere of the only city in the world that could have spawned Sonic Youth.
Journey to the Centre of The Cramps by Dick porter
Robert Doisneau by Jean Claude Gautrand Taschen
The Cramps grew out of Poison Ivy Rorschach and Lux Interior’s shared obsessions: driving cross country to score wild rockabilly 45’s and sixties surf instrumentals, Creepy Worlds comic books, trashy b-movie ephemera and unhinged psychedelic chemistry. When they finally got a band together and got their first gig at CBGB’s, they thought they’d made it. In Journey to the Centre of The Cramps, Dick Porter lovingly tells the story of a band who resolutely stuck to their machine guns from day one. He follows The Cramps from their surprisingly hippie origins on the West Coast all the way to the bottom of the black leather lagoon, as true believers in a savage faith.
Robert Doisneau is acknowledged as one of the most extraordinary photographers of his generation and judging by this beautifully bound and artfully presented collection of over 400 of his images, it’s easy to see why. Almost exclusively shot in black and white, the photographs capture Paris in the 1950’s, framing entire stories and extraordinary characters, life, death and all points in-between. The Paris recorded here is a very sad and beautiful world, filled with ballet dancers and funerals, nightclub singers and chain-smoking romantics. Gautrand’s book offers the most comprehensive overview of the photographer’s oeuvre yet assembled, capturing its joy, its melancholy and its defiant, irrepressible humanity.
getting to know you
Courtney Barnett Courtney Barnett’s new album, ‘Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’, picks up where her breakthrough 2013 double EP release left off, combining deadpan wit with perfect garage pop melodies. We asked the Melbourne-raised band leader to fill in our Getting To Know You questionnaire / The best piece of advice you’ve ever been given “Beer before wine, you’re doing fine.”
Your biggest disappointment Coming runner-up in a colouring competition in grade 3.
Your favourite word Possum.
The worst date you’ve been on I’ve n ever really been on a date…
Your pet hate When people use my felt tip pens and make them blunt.
what is the most overrated thing in the world? “Ratings”
The best book in the world is... Roald Dahl’s The Twits.
If you could only eat one food forever, it would be… Breakfast. The worst present you’ve received It’s the thought that counts.
The characteristic you most like about yourself My inner child.
The thing you’d rescue from a burning building My tiny box of photos.
Your biggest Fear Stepping into a relaxing hot bath and realising it’s actually a pool of sharks.
What talent do you wish you had? Being able to talk to animals.
The film you can quote the most of “grease”
The worst job you’ve had Office job.
Who would play you in a film of your life? “maggie gyllenhaal”
Your hidden talent Playing the drums. Your guilty pleasure Coca Cola.
Favourite place in the world Clovelly pool. Your style icon Trent from Daria. The most famous person you’ve met Steven Tyler Your favourite item of clothing My Kurt shirt.
What would you change about your physical appearance? I’d have less clammy hands.
The one song you wished you had written ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ by the beatles
What is success to you? Being alive.
The biggest misconception about yourself That I’m good at gardening. What would you tell your 15-year-old self? Lighten up Barners.
What’s your biggest turn-off? Negativity.
Tell Me About It
Young Guv James F. Thompson meets Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook to let him do the talking about his solo pop project, hardcore punk and sounding like Paul Weller naked on the Thames Photogra phy: Sonny Mc C artney / writer: james f. Thom p son
Ben Cook is a morass of contradictions. The 31 year-old has been in the music business since he was 15 but still looks as though he’s barely out of high school as his cherubic face greets me in the living room of his great-uncle’s apartment. “I look like I’m 12 years old now and back when I was 15 I looked like I was six,” he sheepishly explains later, his chosen outfit of a sleeveless red hoodie and black jogging bottoms not doing much to help his cause. As long-time misbehaving guitarist for Fucked Up and founding frontman of No Warning, Cook has been involved with two of the most seminal hardcore punk outfits of the last decade and a half. He also spends his time running punk label Bad Actors back home in Toronto. Yet here he is today to talk about Young Guv, his nascent power pop side project. New album ‘Ripe 4 Luv’, out on Slumberland Records this month, has been described as “Big Star produced by Prince,” into which you might mix any number of other power pop luminaries from the Knack and Cheap Trick through to eighties disciples the dB’s and the Plimsouls. The record would be a striking leftturn for any avowed punk rocker but for Cook, expanding beyond the genre’s boundaries is nothing new. For years now the Torontonian has forged a career ghost writing for the likes of Sum 41 and Taylor Swift and what becomes abundantly clear throughout our time together is an abiding love for pop music in its simplest form. “Ultimately it’s all Beatles-derivative,” he declares some way into our chat. “Everything is.” “Punk is where I come from”
I came up in hardcore, DIY and that kind of culture. That’s kind of how I met the Fucked Up guys – we all came up going to shows with this kind of anarchist collective called Who’s Emma? in Toronto, when I was like 15 or 16 and doing hardcore bands. I just kind of fell into it through kind of other misfit people. I grew up in a neighbourhood in the East End of Toronto, which was just volleyball
jocks and lacrosse players and stuff like that.There were maybe three or four of us who were just like, we kind of had little chips on our shoulders. I’ve tried to hold on to a lot of things that were important about that; like the community thing and just trying to release shit on your own. “I was the bad kid in Fucked Up”
When I first joined Fucked Up and we were touring Europe for the first time, I was stealing everything. I was stealing all my food and stopping at all the gas stations and just constantly stealing. I don’t know why, I was just an idiot. I think it also had something to do with, like, I’m only getting this much per diem, I need to save this so if I steal I can save a bit more money. But Damian [Abraham, Fucked Up’s frontman] is a guy who’s been brought up really respecting the rules, and he got super pissed at me and we had a huge blowout fight about me stealing. Then I stopped because I realised it was making people feel uncomfortable and kind of maybe jeopardising the tour. I guess when you grow up in a neighbourhood and you’re so bored, you get into the habit and it’s just something to do at night to shake things up a little bit.
weird run of things, got into drugs and a lot of shit and kind of fucked up a bit. It was money to help with lawyer fees and also to help him with his daughter. After we did that one song for him we pressed a thousand copies and we sold out in like 40 minutes so we thought, you know what, this was a really easy and pleasurable experience. Plus, everything seems like watered down at this point and I want to make an aggressive, brutal statement about some things artistically. I’m not like a writer, I’m not going to write an article so it’s the only way I can express my distaste and disgust with things, to perform with that in mind. “Punk cuts through the shit”
I love the simplicity of punk and the really straightforwardness; almost like the confidence. Just shitting out music. I know the music that I’m doing on the Young Guv record is like this glistening, glamorous pop with guitars and stuff like that, but I do feel like the simplicity and just the stripped-down song-writing is still very rooted in where I’ve always written songs. I’ve done hardcore and very heavy shit and I really love that kind of stuff, but I’ve
“No Warning was always my baby”
I think within the hardcore community, No Warning always had a weird story. We were these kids from Canada who did this specific brand of New York hardcore, released our, like, important hardcore record, sold out to Warner Brothers, then did a weird nu-metal pop punk record – ‘Suffer Survive’ – which I fucking think is kind of terrible. We never did a last show and I don’t know, it was just a weird timeline for a band. We experienced so much through it. The reason we did the new music last year [the ‘Resurrection of the Wolf’ 7”] was that our old bass player, he got into some deep shit with the law and he was in jail. He had a
always loved pop music. The other thing is that I think especially in 2015 there are so many sub-cultures and sub-sub-cultures, so why can’t I do like the hardest record of the year and also a glistening pop record that sounds like Paul Weller naked on the Thames? “It’s Big Star produced by Prince”
I’m a huge fan of Ned Doheny, Dwight Twilly, Phil Seymour, which are kind of like these low-key power poppers from the late seventies. People are saying the new Young Guv record sounds like Big Star produced by Prince, which is so sick because those guys are some of my favourite shit ever. But really it was more like, I love mid-eighties and late-seventies power poppers who got signed to a major label and failed. And, like, they have one record, which is just like gold; they’re just gold classic songwriting from these weird songwriters who just disappeared. They might have charted at the bottom of the Billboard 200 or something like that. The guy who produced this with me, Tony Price, he kind of saw where I was going with it.
been through it – they haven’t been to school for it but they’ve actually been through it – and who can just be like, you know what, these are the little steps you can take to avoid fucking industry dinosaur douchebags. You don’t need to go in this direction, you’re an amazing artist, you’re the powerful one. I don’t really care about Bad Actors as a label; I really use it as a way to meet young artists and help them navigate their way through things and not make the same mistakes I have in the past. “It’s such a shit show, music now”
Press is everything. You hand stuff off to these blogs and these press people who give it maybe 5% of their brain and it’s just like, here’s the thing you’ve worked on for two years and it’s like post of the day. It’s fucking bullshit. I’ve gotten a taste of that through Fucked Up and we’ve definitely benefited from it – the Pitchfork phenomenon – and I’m not trying to be a brat about that, I’m really thankful for it and I’m lucky to have music as a career. But I know tons of talented people who are unable to navigate their way through this shit show. “I know how the game works”
It’s a machine. If you have $5,000 for a press agent you’re gonna get all this blog hype whereas if you’re an amazing, talented artist with none of that and you send it to them, they’re not gonna touch it. It’s just weird, but it’s almost the only way for a lot of people to get known now. In hardcore and punk, you would just release a 7-inch into that community and then you would go tour. For me that’s a really cool way to do things – it’s a very natural way. “I wish I’d never quit acting because I’d probably be rich” “There’s something really satisfying about writing a corny pop song”
I don’t care what anybody says. If you’re a musician, you want to write a hit pop song, 100%. I can go up on stage and do a no wave noise session for 20 minutes but can you go up on stage and perform 20 minutes of hit pop music and write that music? Good luck. It’s hard as fuck. If you’re an artist at a certain level, unless you’re the Beatles, it’s writing by committee. Look at a Katy Perry song – there are like 17 writers on ‘Teenage Dream’ and it’s one of the best songs ever, I don’t even give a shit. Taylor Swift, writing her own songs? There’s no way. Maybe
she has some lyrics. Ghost writing was just kind of a weird opportunity that I took and I’ve just kind of finessed that into other opportunities. I would love to do it more but that world, like the writing world, the American Idol world and all that shit, I don’t know how to fucking navigate that at all.
story about the Lennons. My mom was hiding under some leaves for some reason and then it was like either Sean or Julian Lennon pissed on the leaves. So now she always jokes that I have Beatles DNA, because my mom got pissed on by a Lennon!
“I’ve got Beatles DNA”
“Fuck them, you’re better than this”
For the first part of my life I grew up in England. My family’s not really musical at all so the only thing my mom would play would be The Beatles and so through osmosis I absorbed that. My mom actually grew up near John Lennon, once he’d moved to Surrey in the mid-sixties. She has this funny
I read this interview once with Savages, and they were saying there should be more people in the industry helping each other. It’s true. When I was 15,16, going to shows, a lot of people helped me and put me on and guided me in a cool direction. I feel like there should be more people who have actually
I went to a canoe camp when I was, like, 10, and I ended up capsizing another canoe. I was like a little shit and ended up smashing all these other canoes. This other kid fell into the lake so I got kicked out and put into acting camp, then I got a commercial through this acting camp and it kind of went from there. I think I was on [children’s ‘horror’ TV series] Goosebumps three times. I was also on this old Canadian period thing called Road to Avonlea with Ryan Gosling before he blew up. His band Dead Man’s Bones played a festival the next day after Fucked Up did once and I left him a note for his dressing room like, “Dude, it’s Ben!” Then he sent me a t-shirt and a CD of his band. It’s shit.
Photogra phy: G raham A isthor pe / writer: daniel dylan wray
f all the musical trajectories that took place during the 1980s, there are few that match that of the GoBetweens’. Forming in Brisbane and then relocating to London, from the late ’70s to their break-up in 1989, they grew from a melodic and primitive post-punk outfit to a fullyfledged pop group. However, whilst electronic instrumentation and datestamp production took over much of the ’80s, The Go-Betweens went further the other way. The music of their former peers was becoming swathed in synthesisers and drum production techniques that remastering engineers have since been trying to eradicate from reissued material, but The Go-Betweens’ sound took in strings, viola and oboe, pushing earnest songs about love rooted in pop traditionalism, eschewing the conventions of the decade and carving out a unique path of their own. Despite many critical successes and a retrospective adoration, at the time nothing quite synced-up for the band who found themselves going from record label to record label before bowing out due to debt and feelings of futility. Recharged and energised, the group returned in 2000 with strong new material. They then continued forth with momentum, until sadly, in 2006, founder and one half of the vital songwriting duo Grant McLennan died. It left Robert Forster no option but to call an end to the group for good. An expansive, limited edition boxset of their first four records, complete with another four albums worth of rarities and outtakes, is out now on Domino. It also contains a book with extensive linear notes from Forster, guest essays, unearthed photographs, hand-written lyrics and the first six hundred orders were even sent a signed book from McLennan’s personal library. Studying at University in Brisbane in the late 1970s, Forster recalls to me a “very conservative government,” where the atmosphere was that of repression and “Christian fundamentalism was in play.” Live music existed, but it wasn’t as prominent and explosive as it was in other major cities across the world. “It wasn’t like forming a band in London or New York and thinking we can launch the band into the world from here. It was a good place for an apprenticeship but you always had to leave to further you career.”
Brisbane was, however, free from the fashion-focused, narrow-minded musical tastes that came (and continue to come) from larger cities. It proved to be somewhere to dip into music that in, say London, would be deemed sacrilege; there was an opportunity to cross-pollinate, absorbing the Velvet Underground and The Voidoids but also Fleetwood Mac and Bob Dylan. McLennan’s love of cinema proved vital in the group’s early days – Forster would school McLennan on the works of Dylan and McLennan would show Forster the world of the French New Wave. The duo would form a deep-set friendship, and a creative partnership that formed instantly. “I’d known him for two and a half years before we started the band,” says Forster, “but as soon as we started the group it was an instant click. It was right there from the beginning.” They recorded their debut album, ‘Send Me a Lullaby’, in Melbourne in 1981, where they were joined by drummer Lindy Morrison. “Built into the design of the band was to have a female drummer,” says Forster. “An obvious inspiration was Moe Tucker from the Velvets; others were the two male/one female cast of [favourite Forster and McLennan TV show] The Mod Squad and the charismatic triangle of [François Truffaut’s 1962 film] Jules and Jim.” As a trio, they moved to London. “We knew then that we’d done our apprenticeship,” says Forster. “We’d done everything we could.We travelled like a lot of young Australians do; it’s a right of passage. We flew to London and had a walk around, went to lots of shows and just took it all in.” It was whilst doing this in London that a spectacular piece of luck struck: three Scotsman turned up in London to flog their latest single, called ‘Falling & Laughing’. They were two members of Orange Juice, along with their manager. Whilst in Rough Trade they spotted an imported Go-Betweens 7” hanging in the window (Judy Crighton, who worked in the shop, had an Australian husband who brought back some copies of the group’s single) and decided to buy it, having heard them played on John Peel’s radio show a year earlier. Crighton told Orange Juice that the band were in town and were staying in a hotel just down the road, so down the road they went. The Go-Betweens were out, but they left a copy of ‘Falling & Laughing’, along with a note, offering for the band to come up to
Scotland and record a single for their label, Postcard Records. Forster notes: “There’s a fairy-tale aspect to it. That was a piece of luck; it was great timing and good fortune for the band. “Orange Juice were the first great group that Grant and I saw up close – they were just incredible, Josef K were very good, also, and [Postcard founder] Alan Horne was charismatic and filled with ideas and we could see it close and be a part of it.The music of Orange Juice was something that was very inspiring.” Forster feels that there was
something in the air during that period (1980) overall. “It felt like there was a great record coming out every week. Everyone was on fire. There was a lot going on, great records and a real crackle in the air – you could really feel it.There would be bands that would make great records and then just disappear.” When back in Australia, The GoBetweens had found themselves in the same studio as The Birthday Party, and the two parties formed a one-off group called Tuff Monks. They recorded a track called ‘After the Fireworks’ and the bands would hook up again in
Between Everything & Nothing Robert Forster’s group spent the 1980s chasing a hit single that constantly outran them. To Daniel Dylan Wray, he recalls the frustrating, nearly-there-but-not-quite history of The Go-Betweens
London (a city the Birthday Party loathed). “They were about the only other Australian group that we knew at the time,” says Forster. “The first gigs we did when we came to London were with the Birthday Party, in June 1982. That was our introduction, to play with them; we were friends and interacted during our time there.” (Go-Betweens track ‘Cattle and Cane’ was written by McLennan on Nick Cave’s acoustic guitar when the two briefly lived together before McLennan kicked Cave out for being a pig). Now signed to Rough Trade the
group released their second LP, ‘Before Hollywood’, a record that smoothed out some of the primal, scrappy expulsions on their debut. More critical success ensued but Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis couldn’t commit financially to keeping the band on, so he helped get them set up with Sire Records for their third album, ‘Spring Hill Fair’ (1984). Again, the label declined to release a second record for the group and this hopping from label-to-label became a creative hurdle for the band. “It stalled momentum,” says Forster. “It kept dragging us back to
the starting line. We were watching bands that had started around the same time as us, of similar ability – The Smiths, R.E.M, U2 – but they were all on the one label. So they were all working as part of a system, one that made people know that in 18 months another Smiths album was due, another Echo & the Bunnymen album, etc. These people could work on these records knowing that it was a continuing thing, where we had to keep reintroducing ourselves to a record company and people that might be interested in our music” As the decade went on, the group became more polished and structured. Pristine pop was sanding over the rough edges of their post-punkinflected initial output. It was a balancing act between trying to chase an ever-elusive hit single and retaining a sense of individuality. “We would have loved a hit record because it would have eased our financial situation, which was desperate,” says Forster. “There was always a bit of a tug between the art you want to pursue and the money that you need to pursue your art. The solution was to sell more records and to sell more records was to make more commercial ones. To have hits you needed to be on Warner or Sony. This was a time when the major record labels were a lot more powerful than they perhaps are today and so knowing that we weren’t on any of those labels, we knew we were a bit behind the eight-ball. We were out of the game.” In 1988 they released their sixth album, ‘16 Lovers Lane’, a stringladen, pop-strewn masterpiece, and whilst it produced their biggest hit in ‘Streets ofYour Town’, it wasn’t enough to keep momentum going and the group disbanded a year later. “Grant and I had had enough. He’d only ever been in a band with me and he’d had enough of being in the GoBetweens. I’d had enough too. We weren’t making any headway and just going further into debt, it seemed like a good time – it was right at the end of the ’80s, let’s just stop now.” McLennan and Amanda Brown (who’d joined the band in 1986 – one of 20 musicians to play in the group in its lifetime) had also been romantically involved, something that was ended by Brown on the day they decided to dissolve the band, putting an end to that incarnation of The GoBetweens forever. Forster and McLennan followed separate solo careers, getting together
to play the odd acoustic show here and there. “I thought Grant and I were great with two acoustic guitars,” says Forster. “When it just came back to two guitars and two people singing it sounded really good.” Also getting their relationship further back to basics was a decision to write a film together. “We’d been talking about doing that in the late ’70s,” says Forster. “Grant was a film nut and that was just something that we did. I had an idea and we went for it. It was enjoyable to do something together and sit down that wasn’t based around music and that took Grant and I back to the beginning of our friendship.” The group returned in 2000 (Forster and McLennan the only returning original members) with ‘The Friends of Rachel Worth’, working in Portland with members of Sleater Kinney a group that had made one of Forster’s favourite records during the time that the Go-Betweens were inactive. “I very much liked ‘Dig Me Out’,” he tells me. “I just thought that was an amazing album. It just knocked me out, it was the first rock record – 1997 when it came out – in a long time that really knocked me out. It had a postpunk drive that no one had done for years. All those other bands sounded ham-fisted and blurry, Sleater Kinney just came in and sliced it all down – I just loved it and thought ‘this is a great rock band’.” The Go-Betweens carried on with momentum, releasing two further albums, the last being 2005’s ‘Oceans Apart’ but suddenly McLennan died of a heart attack in 2006, aged 48. “I felt like up until Grant died we were getting better,” says Forster. “I was very happy with what we were doing. I thought we were in good shape to honour our past and we were doing work that would have a similar arc to what we were doing in the ’80s. “Grant was an educator… I think that is the piece that I miss most, almost more than the musician, and I know that sounds absolutely weird – the friendship side of it and someone who was an inspiring character, almost outside of the music but within the music too. Outside of that he was just someone who ate up books and movies, so to be around someone like that is fantastic because they just have all this knowledge and enthusiasm. “Our final moments together were spent doing what we always did – we’d just chat and play, then chat and play.”
Sound and Passion Peter Strickland’s latest, third movie is set in a world without men, removing the question of gender as its central, erotic relationship plays out. London based duo Cat’s Eyes are hoping that their accompanying soundtrack is complimentary enough for you to hardly notice it Photogra phy: phil shar p / writ er: ian ro e bu c k
Sound has played a key role in filmmaker Peter Strickland’s small but impressive body of work. Not just within the garish giallo world evoked so meticulously by Broadcastghost for Berberian Sound Studio but also amidst the Transylvanian landscape of his debut, Katalin Varga. His third feature, The Duke of Burgundy, continues to value the importance of sound design and of course the soundtrack. A sensual and striking looking movie, Strickland has developed into one of Britain’s most original Directors. He enlisted the help of Cat’s Eyes – Faris Badwan of the Horrors and multi-instrumentalist and classically trained soprano Rachel Zeffira – to assist with his new movie’s score and the result is an astonishing journey that’s as bold and tender as the movie’s premise – a sadomasochistic, erotic
tale of passion and the death of an affair. At The Rio Cinema, Dalston, London, I met the duo to unearth some of The Duke of Burgundy’s secrets ahead of its release.
it an awful lot. Faris has watched it maybe twelve times and myself about fifty and I still love it. I still find things in it and think of things differently and everything is so beautiful.
that would be like with gender out of the equation. Maybe we’re making it sound quite dry but it’s actually very funny. It’s very subtle, though, like it isn’t Laurel and Hardy or anything.
Do you spend a lot of time at the cinema? Faris Badwan: We don’t tend to leave the house very much. I have been recently though – I went to see all the blockbusters, well, all the Oscar contenders anyway. I went to see Foxcatcher and American Sniper, so only twice actually… twice in the last 5 years. It felt like a lot as they both came at once.
How would you summarise the film? Rachel: It’s set in a world without men and it’s a relationship set in this world, but it’s not a lesbian one. Faris: It is a world without gender; a world where there have never been men and the question of gender doesn’t come into it. It is a normal mundane, day-to-day relationship and they’re trying to spice things up. Rachel: That’s what I was trying to avoid, the grotesque. Faris: Anything that alludes to foodstuff. Seriously, though, it’s the normal problems that people have in relationships and it examines what
Did Peter Strickland contact you directly to ask you to write the soundtrack? Faris: Peter got a message to us that he wanted to meet up and so we did. I had already seen Katalin Varga, which I loved, and he just wanted to talk generally about music and what we liked. He runs his own record label, which no one really knows – he gave me a load of his records and they are really good.The labels called Peripheral Conserve so people should check it out. He was vague and talked a lot about Bjork and Russia and he said maybe would you like to work together in the future.
I recently caught the trailer for Duke of Burgundy, is it as stunning as it looks? Rachel Zeffira: We have watched it over and over again, it’s made up for all the films I haven’t seen as we have seen
Rachel: It was way better. I’d had some experiences of soundtracks before that were nothing like this. He gave us tonnes of trust and freedom. Faris: He didn’t give us any film references, which was probably a good thing, and most references he gave us musically we hadn’t heard so that was refreshing too. Rachel: We were sending demos back and forth to each other and his music matched what we were making so it was hopeful and we knew we were heading in the right direction. Peter was clear he wanted oboe – oboe was clear right from the beginning. He said he really wanted mournful, melancholy so harpsichord came next. You mention Peter didn’t supply any film references, but were you both thinking of any movies as you were working? Faris: No, it was so tied to the images that we were using which worked well. Rachel: It is much better that way, to work with the film in front of you. Faris: The Duke of Burgundy is so visually rewarding. When you’re watching such great scenes it’s hard to think of anything else. It is inspiring enough.
Rachel: Not with Bjork though. Then he sent a script about a month or so later. Faris: I find it’s really hard to convey how good something might be by just reading a script but that’s what was so different about this one, it was immediately exciting. Rachel: His script made it really fascinating about how he was going to bring something like that to life. There were layers and layers to it, you could interpret that script in so many ways and still not expect what he achieved on the screen. Watching it slowly come to life, they started filming and then we’d get rushes of a scene sent to us – it was really interesting to see it take form. Even the casting was perfect. Did Peter’s process match any preconceptions you both had about building a soundtrack?
Have soundtracks informed any of your work in the past? Faris: I can think of plenty of decent soundtracks but I don’t know how relevant they would be. I mean, Paris Texas is a wonderful soundtrack, although I have never made it to the end of the film. I have watched it three times and I always fall asleep at the same point. They’re not influences, though. Rachel: I don’t think they influence you when you’re writing a soundtrack if I’m honest. Faris: There are songs that stick in my head for sure, for example Midnight Cowboy when you hear Harry Nilsson’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ for the first time, you know it is iconic and you identify with it. Rachel: For me it has to be Nino Rota, The Godfather, big time. [To Faris] You like the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, though, don’t you? Faris: I have never seen the film, I just
like the Ronettes! I don’t even know what’s on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, you’re thinking of somebody else. Rachel: You would so love the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Faris: Maybe I should watch the film. Is it liked by the same sort of people that like Ghost? Rachel: Ghost is corny but Dirty Dancing isn’t that corny. Ghost just takes it too far. Back to the Duke of Burgundy, Peter asked you to replace Mozart’s Requiem, which he had been using in pre-production for one particular scene, that’s quite a responsibility? Faris: They got very attached to Mozart’s Requiem, which is obviously used for hundreds of things every week. Rachel: Peter really liked it but he asked me if we could write a requiem, just in case. Faris: This was with two days to go, can you write a requiem, but that is kind of Rachel’s thing – under pressure – otherwise she doesn’t do anything. Most people know that’s how she works but Peter didn’t so she stayed up all night working on this requiem and I didn’t do a thing, when I woke up it was done. It is always the case that the ones I don’t end up working on are the ones that I like the best. How do Cat’s Eyes work together, then? Faris: It varies. We could end up with 4 or 5 songs that I don’t take part in and another 4 and 5, which I write and produce so it’s very different. Rachel: It is like a band, it generally is 50/50 and it is shared. Now that release is imminent are you nervous about an audience enjoying the film? Faris: Not so much. It helps that we really love the film. Even with Berberian Sound Studio, I mean, I struggled with parts of that. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it just wasn’t as much as my thing as The Duke of Burgundy is, so I would have found it a different experience. There is a bit in Berberian Sound Studio where the film almost folds in on itself. Are there any such moments in The Duke of Burgundy?
Rachel: The moths, definitely the moths. Faris: There is yes, in that there are clear atmospheric turns which I guess are important in Berberian Sound Studio. There are fascinating visual elements to this film too, which you just don’t expect. I think The Duke of Burgundy is the strongest plot Peter has had and the strongest story out of the three. Now that you have created a soundtrack, will you approach the cinematic experience differently? Faris: I have always looked at things by pulling them apart. With soundtracks or even people. Especially if a film is not very good you snap out of it and start noticing all the things. A really great film you just don’t pull apart, you naturally go with it, like when you listen to records, the second you start thinking oh this is a guy in a room with a mic it snaps you out and it isn’t what music or anything creative should be. It should be immersive and you shouldn’t have to think about it – this film is like that and it’s in its own world. A great example would be Carmine Coppola in The Godfather Part III where it turns into this TV movie soundtrack. Rachel: Rota didn’t do it for that one and it shows – the music is just really over the top and sentimental and all that amazing atmosphere that was created for the first two movies was all of a sudden this puffed up saccharine thing. Like a soap opera. Has working on The Duke of Burgundy inspired the next Cat’s Eyes album? Faris: Well I wouldn’t say it’s heavily influenced any of the new album, we’ve been thinking about ideas for a long time. Rachel: When you’re doing a soundtrack you’re just thinking about the film and it’s coming from a different place. You’re doing it for a whole other reason and we were doing it for Peter.
obias Jesso Jr. has a friend back home in Vancouver, Canada, called Fraser. He’s a true friend. When Jesso, dejected and embarrassed, moved back home after a failed attempt at success in Hollywood, it was Fraser who was first round his house. Four years had passed and Fraser was no longer the man he’d left behind. He’d started his own removal and box company, which, if anything, exemplified how little Jesso had changed. He’d gone to LA to become a songwriter and take his piece of The Big Orange. But he was back, and no one was going to believe he was a musician nowadays, because, clearly, he wasn’t. “When I went back to Vancouver I was no longer an artist,” he tells me. “Y’know, you can’t go back home. ‘I’m a songwriter now!’ ‘Really? Then why are you back?’ ‘Because!’” He folds back into the sofa and laughs his high pitched, friendly laugh. Fraser employed Jesso on the spot, and the following day the two of them were hauling furniture. “It was depressing, for sure.” Jesso felt like Bill Withers, a man who, in the late ’60s, resigned himself to being a musician for his own pleasure, having struggled for years to be noticed, again in a new home of Los Angeles. (Famously, Withers refused to quit his job assembling toilets for an airline company even after the release of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, reasoning that the music industry is a fickle one, and soon enough he’d be out on his ear). “Do you still play music,” Fraser asked Jesso as they loaded an upright piano into the company van. “Errr, I don’t know, not really.” Jesso’s sister had recently bought an upright piano. That evening he sat down at it for the first time. The guitars that were going to make him rich were still in LA, and he still wanted to write songs, even if no one else would hear them. Music would be his hobby while he worked his way up Fraser’s company, maybe as high as Manager.
“It was depressing, for sure.” Jesso woke the following morning, having had a vivid dream. In it, he was a new father, just as the apocalypse was upon us. What a waste. He felt out just enough piano chords to write ‘Just A Dream’, and went to work. He told Fraser about the dream and the song, who asked Jesso to play it to him. “I went to work the following day and told him I’d recorded the song for him on my 4-track, and that we’ll listen to it after work. “At the end of the day we pull up in the truck and go in, and I put headphones on him and I press play, and I can’t wait, and he’s sat there listening to it, and about a minute in he stopped the tape and he goes, ‘Man, this is… this is pretty much, like… garbage.’ I was like, ‘What!?’. He’s like, ‘It’s not for me, man. It’s too long, it’s too slow and you need singing lessons.’ “That’s definitely a true friend, because he was giving me his honest opinion, but here’s where the turning point was – it was the first time in my life where somebody said something negative to me and it didn’t affect me at all. I had listened to the song maybe 20 times before I went to bed the night before, and I was happy and proud of it. When I gave it to him I couldn’t wait, and when he hit stop, I just went, ‘No! Man, it’s meant to be that way!’” He shipped the tape off to former Girls member and Producer Chet ‘JR’ White who, on hearing ‘Just A Dream’, disagreed with Fraser also. It’s White who is accredited with getting Jesso to where he is today, not unfairly considering it was he who invited Jesso to record with him in San Francisco, and it was White who shopped Jesso’s early, unmarked demos to a number of label heads, including True Panther Sounds’ Dean Bein. Over the past two years, Jesso has run with the template of ‘Just A Dream’ to produce ‘Goon’, his debut album of rudimentary piano ballads, released this month via True Panther Sounds. He never did go back to the guitar,
instead embracing the limitations of a new instrument that he’d envied since seeing Cat Power perform ‘I Don’t Blame You’, her ode to Kurt Cobain, on ‘…Letterman’ in 2003. He estimates that he’s currently of a standard around Grade 2. He’s a lot of fun to talk to, grateful for his newfound, nearly undiscovered appeal, and self-effacing with a smile and warm nudge of your arm. Still, Grade 2 sounds about right when you listen to ‘Goon’’s simple, well struck piano chords and slow-to-mid tempo that Jesso insists is all down to his inadequate skills. Of the particularly hesitant ‘Hollywood’, he attests its notable dead space and heavily pregnant pauses to his trying to remember what chord to hit next. He concedes, too, that slow piano songs will always have trouble sounding anything but sad, and ‘Goon’’s overarching narrative is indeed one of heartache. In ‘Just A Dream’ a new father faces the end of the world; in ‘Hollywood’ Jesso laments his real life broken dreams of the big time; ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’, ‘How Could You Babe’, ‘Without You’, ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ – you can guess what they’re about. “But I’m not going to be a sad song artist,” he says. “I don’t want to be that guy. “It’s more that I gravitate more towards sad chords, because they sound more beautiful. I don’t sit down at a piano when I’m feeling happy – I’m not like, ‘Woo-hoo, today’s a sunny day, I’m going to go down to the beach, but first I’m going to sit down at the piano and write a song about it.’ Sometimes that’ll just come out, but when I land on a good sad song, it just gets me more.” Jesso likes the way The Beatles did it – a sober ‘Let It Be’ followed by a giddy ‘Lady Madonna’. He just needs to learn how to play quicker to complete the pairing. In the meantime, his music trades off of an inclusive naivety and an aspirational simplicity, meaning
Instrumental Change Tobias Jesso Jr. is a pianist. But he hasn’t always been Photography: gabriel green / writer: stuart stubbs
unfussy lyrics like ‘Nothing’s as hard to do, as saying goodbye’ are what they are, and Jesso’s musicality feels attainable. In that sense, ‘Goon’ is a perfect DIY album – a can-do record that allows you to think that you could make one just like it. His voice (homely and as if singing to itself) follows suit, although Jesso is definitely a stronger vocalist than he likes to think. Comparisons to Randy Newman are not unfounded, and Jesso, too, has a natural knack for vocal melodies. “When I was writing songs on guitar I would never sing along, but when I switched to piano, I think the difference was that I felt like I had lot more support from the piano – I could play these lush chords that could fill out a whole sound a lot more, and my little, crackly vocal that went in the middle of it would just be surrounded by the sound. “I have such a small range of singing – I can’t go very high and I can’t go very low – and since I have a very limited range I have to find interesting melodies that go in the middle. With guitar, that’s very hard, with piano you can hit a big chord and sing a little melody that goes over six notes – it can sound a lot more interesting. When I found that out I was really excited that the chords could lead the melody. “Sometimes you’ll play with singers and their voice is everything. They lead everything and you’re just helping them out. I’d say mine is pretty even – the chords and the vocals are as important as each other. I could be a one man band with a piano; I couldn’t with a guitar.” I saw Jesso play his first official show in November of last year, three days before he performed at Pitchfork Festival, Paris. It was to forty odd people in a flat in Hackney, London, found on Air BnB. Unamplified, he sat at an upright piano facing a bare brick wall, with nearly all of us standing behind him in a semi-circle, staring at the back of his head. We were hearing
“I could be a one man band with a piano; I couldn’t with a guitar”
a majority of his songs for the first time, and it was the hymnal ‘Hollywood’ that seemed to get chins wagging the most. It’s hardly a track for the Los Angeles Tourist Board, and by all accounts Jesso’s relocation to the Entertainment Capital of The World appeared to defy science as it featured more troughs than it did peaks. He spent four years living on sofas, failing at relationships and waiting for writing jobs to fall into his lap. At his lowest point he was hit by a car whilst on his
bike. The car drove away and in the time it had taken him to stand up, the most opportunist thief in the world was pedalling away on his vehicle. Lower, perhaps, was the time he was a fake bassist in a fake band for a fake popstar called Melissa Cavatti. (Millionaires in America often indulge their teenager’s dreams in such a way, and hardly any of them turn out as well as Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’). “It was kind of grinding,” says Jesso, “but it allowed me to reinvent myself. Whenever you go somewhere
new, you can say whatever you want and people have to say ok. It’s like a witness protection program. From the minute I went there, I was a songwriter. People would be like, ‘who’s the guy?’ ‘Oh, he’s a songwriter’. It’s easier to get a start somewhere new, as opposed to seeing an old school friend and telling them you’re a songwriter and them going, ‘no you’re not, you’re the chubby guy’. “Looking back on it, I’d say if you’re going to do something, do it fully. I was writing songs but I wasn’t
getting out there. When I went back to Vancouver I was handing out demos everywhere, at every show. If it’s not going to work out naturally – like, someone like Sam Smith, he doesn’t need to hustle his music; he’s got a beautiful voice, his songs are great, it’s an obvious path – but if you don’t have an obvious path, you’ve got to pave it for yourself. When I was in LA I wasn’t paving a path, I was sitting at the end of it going, ‘who’s going to come up to me and ask me to write them songs?’ It doesn’t work out that way.”
True Blood “If you ask one new question I will be very excited.” Sam Walton meets a straight-talking Matthew E. White Photogra phy: jenna foxton / writer: sa m walton
From across a small table opposite a recently vacated chair, Matthew E. White sees me enter the back room of the pub and makes a peace sign. In hindsight, though, White could just as easily have been surrendering: as I sit down on the still-warm seat, he reveals that our impending conversation is the last one of a promotional trip that’s taken him from his home in Richmond, Virginia, through six European countries in as many days and placed him in front of a parade of approximately sixty interviewers who all want to know the same things. “If you ask one new question I will be very excited,” he tells me, with warmth but also weariness. With White’s busy schedule in mind, and taking into account boring things like magazine lead times versus the easy, instant proliferation of online Q&As, the chances are that if you’ve gotten even this far into a print article about Matthew E. White, it’s not the first you’ve heard of him. You’ll probably already know about his early upbringing by Christian missionary parents in the Philippines, and how his sleeper-hit first album, ‘Big Inner’, was initially conceived as a demonstration record to show off the dexterity of his Spacebomb studio and label before unexpectedly blossoming into a perennial of 2013’s best-album lists. It’s likely you’ll also have heard about how Spacebomb is built in the mould of Stax and Motown, with a strict recording ethos and on-call house band, deliberately making oldfashioned soul music the expensive way, with live ensemble musicians and full horn and string sections. Hell, you might even have read about his physical appearance – bear-sized and bespectacled with hippie hair and straggly beard – that leaves him resembling something between charismatically eccentric university English professor and bizarro pseudoreligious cult leader, and which dovetails eerily well with his predilection for venerating Jesus in his songs. You’ll probably know all this because White dutifully plays the interview game: “It’s okay,” he begins, as I look down at my open notebook of questions, wondering if this is going to be a long hour for us both. “I really like to talk, and I don’t mind talking, and I can fill up your recorder with way more than you’re ever going to need, and I like music writers…”
– then he trails off, suddenly selfaware, perhaps realising he doth protest too much. So instead of making White do all that again, I let him steer the conversation, asking him simply to tell me the story of how he came to make his second album ‘Fresh Blood’ – a mellower but more purposeful older brother to ‘Big Inner’’s naïvely excitable reading of 1970s Curtis Mayfield soul that contains, as he puts it at one point, “higher highs and lower lows, lighter lights and darker darks” – alongside whatever tangents arise in the telling. Obligingly and, one suspects, not for the first time, he starts at the beginning, with his childhood and his university training on a respected jazz studies music course. However, when handed the conversational rudder, White seems far more engaged with the bigger picture than the finer details, preferring to talk less about the album he’s flogged round Europe for the past week – at one point he even suggests that albums don’t really do it for him anyway, and that he’d rather be making one-off singles – and more about all the attendant distractions that surround being a musician and “the way you make records”. Indeed, that phrase crops up so often in our allotted hour together that it starts to feel didactic: while White is never anything less than loquacious and courteous, with the kind of bonhomie – earnest but friendly – that defines the classic US Southerner, he also has strong, often contrarian opinions on how musicians should operate, and what labels you should apply. For a start, he insists that despite his status as an alumnus of the jazz studies programme at Virginia Commonwealth University and the undeniably jazzy flourishes in his work, he’s no jazzer. “It’s an insult to jazz musicians everywhere when people call me a jazz musician, because I’m not one,” he says, flatly, when the topic of what music he thinks he plays arises from talk of his university course. “Jazz shouldn’t be this fluid term,” he says. “It’s tempting for journalists to use that label when someone knows the nuts and bolts of how music works, or writes things on paper. But there’s a level of improvisation, and of harmonic, melodic and rhythmic knowledge, and the ability to interface those all together, that makes you a jazz
musician, which I can barely do. I’m not saying it’s a higher-level art, but it’s a deep craft that takes an extraordinary amount of time, energy and nuance to master, so it’s disingenuous to jazz musicians everywhere, who have given it that time, to have journalists say about me, ‘oh, he’s a jazz musician’, because that’s not true.” While White might feel that way about how he plays and about his technical ability, and be fine with it (“I’m very comfortable with never being the best player in my band – I think that’s the way it should be,” he says subsequently), listening later to him explaining the exacting way he likes to make and record music certainly has a lot in common with the “deep craft, extraordinary amount of time, energy and nuance” that he so reveres in jazz musicians. Because for all the easy charm that a record like ‘Fresh Blood’ exudes – all the cosy pillow-talk vocals, lolloping groove, inviting informality and classily casual, what-this-oldthing presentation – it turns out that White tackles his own projects with the sort of approach normally reserved for obsessive professional sportsmen. “If you hear a problem in the mix or the performance and just go, ‘oh that’ll be okay’, then you’re going to end up with average shit,” he says, like some hard-nosed head coach, as we discuss his self-imposed rules for making ‘Fresh Blood’. “Actively encouraging yourself to be frustrated about inconsistencies you hear in the music is extremely mentally unpleasant, but if you solve them then you’re going to make yourself better. “But it’s hard work,” he laments, softening his teacherly tone, “and that’s why people make bad records when they’re fifty: they’re fucking tired! It’s tiring! I mean, I’m mentally exhausted, because I’ve just spent the last six months going, ‘how do I fix that’, ‘this isn’t right’. But that’s what making a record is all about.” Indeed, a sense of objective rightness seems to guide the way White works. Repeatedly, as we talk, he frames his working practices as being informed by measurable improvements, which makes for a refreshingly candid approach when set against the tedious, oft-expressed relativist mantra of ‘I’m just making music for myself and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus’. “Something I’ve said over again is that I wanted
‘Fresh Blood’ to be better, not just different,” he says at one point, emphasising the b-word with a rap of his fingers on the table. “Each element – the songwriting and the communication with the team, and the vision that I lay out and the writing of the arrangements, the recording of the band, and all the other shit that you do, and the mixing – each one of those elements can be better. It’s not subjective. ‘Big Inner’ was not the best record that’s ever been made, so there’s plenty of room for improvement in all those areas.” But without, thankfully, any universal scoring system for creativity – no objective measuring stick or goal line beyond saying whether or not a note is in tune – doesn’t all this talk of making things objectively better really just come down to personal taste? White’s not convinced: “But some people just have better taste, and that’s just the truth,” he counters, with a smile. “I mean, I could hand my song to Bob Dylan and he would say, ‘nah, uh-uh, nah, flip it around, that’s better’, and he would be right, because he’s a better songwriter than I am.
Sure, some of that taste is fed by innate subjective feelings, but not all. It’s also fed by understanding of tradition and context, what worked historically, the form, the rhyme scheme, the voicing of a chord…” – he pauses when I raise my eyebrows at the idea that one arrangement of notes in a given chord can be objectively proved to be best – “some people voice chords better than other people!” he insists. “You can look at that throughout history, read about it, analyse someone else’s writing. Sure, there are a lot of things that feed your taste, but that’s what makes making records hard.” One consequence of this sort of striving for assessable perfection is that while ‘Fresh Blood’ is undoubtedly an easy listen on first play, full of playful melody and engaging songcraft, it opens up to be quite a record of extremes: in essence, White’s approach means that when he wants to write an uplifting song, it has to be the apotheosis of joy, and, by the same token, a song like ‘Tranquility’, about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s heroin overdose, is precision engineered to provide the most sombre experience
possible. While technically impressive, the effect on the listener is to be constantly buffeted in opposing directions, but White isn’t fussed: “I just wanted ‘Fresh Blood’ to cover more, and have a greater emotional dynamic range [than ‘Big Inner’], so it would be more worthwhile to the listener. I wanted people who were going to invest in these songs to take away something. Whether that was happiness and escapism, or a seriousness and embrace of the hyperrealism of life, I don’t care, but I wanted it to be a deeply worthwhile experience. “But that is hard,” he concedes. “I mean, you can’t put dub music and EDM and symphonic pop on one record, because it won’t work. But I try to get the spectrum as wide as possible, because for me, that’s the sort of record I like. And, at the end of the day, there’s never been a bad record that had ten good songs on it.” There follows a discussion of the virtues of the album as a vessel for “good songs” and whether average songs can appear on great albums, of why the music industry is still built
around album releases despite consumers favouring singles, and White’s bafflement at people buying Taylor Swift and Beyoncé vinyl LPs. Our hour’s nearly up, and having veered off topic one more time, and with White glancing at his nearly finished pint, I decide to ask at least a couple of the questions I came in with. Would White call himself a Christian? “No,” he says, bluntly. Does he ever go to church? “No,” he says again, and asks me why I’m interested. “Because I was wondering,” I reply, “with the multiple mentions of Jesus in your songs, what your relationship with Christianity is.” “Are you wondering,” White asks back, pointedly, “Or are you asking?” I explain that I’m asking, but also understand if he’d rather not discuss it. “No, I’m fine talking about it,” accepts White, a glazed look replacing the flicker of prickliness. “I don’t think of the term ‘Christian’ as something offensive, because people call me that, but I know people who do call themselves Christian who live in a certain way with a certain faith that I don’t have.” One suspects that as
rehearsed speeches go, that’s one that White’s wheeled out a few times in the past week. “It’s basically a part of my past. It’s not something that I’m ashamed of, but when I do have the opportunity to clear things up, I tell journalists that while I use that vocabulary, I’m not writing from a place of faith. Like, the last journalist,” he says, pointing at me, “was straight away, ‘so, you’re a Christian’ and I had to be like, ‘okay, stop there!’” There’s a pause while White drains what’s left of his drink, and plonks the empty on the table. “Cool, well let’s wrap it up sometime, you know,” he says amicably but also slightly pleading, anticipation of the week’s end written across his face: he’s come here, worked hard, done what he needs to do in the best way he can, and now wants to rest. “You work on the songs, bring them to the team, write the arrangements, record the band, record the arrangements, do some other shit, mix it, and call it a day,” he explained of his creative process, earlier in the interview. For White, it seems, it’s an approach that he applies to more areas than just making records.
The Gospel According to Matthew: – “I’m interested in working hard, and I’ve worked as hard as I possibly could to make this record, and working hard is hard work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it’s just hard.” – “I work to a schedule. It was like, ‘okay, record-making starts last week of February, songwriting starts at 10am and ends at 6pm.’ You go to work, and you work hard, and repeat as much as you can.” – “I’m more of a singles than an album man. But my contract says that I need to deliver a ten-song record, and I’m talking to you because I’m in a ‘record cycle’ – if I only release one single every two months, you wouldn’t want to talk to me.” – “I’m a streaming guy, except for music that I can’t find there. If I can’t find this weird Brazilian record from the 50s, and I’ve got to go and buy the LP for $50, then fine – but I’ll listen to Kendrick Lamar on my phone.” – “I like the Spacebomb ‘commune’ myth, but afraid it’s not like that! It’s a fucking business! We pay people to come and play on the records, sign artists to contracts, print the records and sell them to the distributors. It’s very square.”
10 years of Loud And Quiet
10 years of
Loud And Quiet 02
Ten years ago, in January 2005, I printed 150 copies of the very first issue of Loud And Quiet, on a desktop home printer in Southend-on-Sea. I was 22, which was plenty old enough to realise just how much it looked liked a Year 9 school project (B grade), and yet I was either oblivious or in complete denial. The cover featured Pete Doherty, who’d recently been kicked out of The Libertines and into Babyshambles. I had no access to interview him, so
01. issue 01 – jan 2005 02. Issue 09 – Feb 2006 03. Issue 27 – Oct 2007 04. Issue 01 (vol 2) – may 2008 05. Issue 01 (vol 3) – Dec 2008
instead I filled four sides of A5 on which of the two bands I thought was best. Four sides! Over the other 24 pages, I wrote about bands like Black Wire, Art Brut and The Radio Dept. under a handful of made up names. That was going to be the reason why this wasn’t taken seriously – lack of personnel, not the breaking news that producer Owen Morris was going to be working with The Paddingtons. In 2015 – and since 2008 – I feel like my original goal for Loud And Quiet has been realised, which is largely down to our designer, Lee Belcher. I’d wanted to create a music magazine exclusively about new, underground music that didn’t scrimp on the kind of schooled design values of magazines like i-D, Dazed and The Face. Issue 01 was definitely not that. Most of the images were stolen from Google and printed as smudges once I’d blown them up too big. Still, I thought it was a sure fire hit and that my retirement to the south of France was imminent. It’s a good job too – I’d be far too self-conscious to share that first issue with anybody today. I’m sure people of any age other than my own would disagree, but 2005 was fortunately a good year for independent music. The success of Franz Ferdinand encouraged groups like The Rakes and Bloc Party and TestIcicles, and the Libertines hangover delivered Arctic Monkeys, Good Shoes
and Larrikin Love. M.I.A., Tom Vek and The Horrors found their inspiration elsewhere, but it was in 2005 that they and so many others arrived. Then it was Klaxons and Crystal Castles and Jamie T and The Maccabees and Patrick Wolf and more. For better or worse, it makes you miss Myspace. Loud And Quiet has been printed and self-distributed ever since, more or less every month of the year. There was an incident in 2008, where I thought it would be a good idea to relaunch the magazine on thick card stock, but after just two issues of that I was practically bankrupt. We came up with our current newsprint format at the death of that year. My theory on personnel has meant that I’ve been saying ‘we’ from the beginning, even when the only other contributors were in my head; even when speaking to people who knew that Tony Soy wasn’t real. But the unexpected survival and modest success of Loud And Quiet has been down to real life people – the writers and photographers and occasional illustrators who have given their time and talents to this paper. Even over 10 years, it’s been a reasonably small and very loyal team. I’d like to sincerely thank every one of them, and especially Lee Belcher and Alexandra Wilshire. Stuart Stubbs
10 years of Loud And Quiet
Did I love 2005? Rory Attwell remembers the year his joke band – thrash-disco trio Test-Icicles – was taken more seriously than anybody else, despite their best efforts w ri te r : as told to stu ar t stubbs
There was so much potential for people to hate that band, and I actually can’t believe that we didn’t get more stick than we did. And afterward I thought, surely I’m going to get some stick now, but I never really have. It’s weird, because it could have been really hate-able, couldn’t it? I think people liked it because it wasn’t… uncontrived might not be the right word, because it was contrived… but there was no pretence. It was just three people dicking about, and we weren’t even really making the music we liked, we were just making some music. There was no agenda at all – it was like, ‘let’s do this because it’s funny’, or, ‘let’s do this because it could be interesting’, and the finished product wasn’t really anything that any of us thought was something really worth doing. And people could see that we didn’t really care. We wore really stupid clothes, because we knew people who worked in shitty second hand shops, so we’d wear the stupidest clothes we could find. We always said that we were only going to make that one album, and I like that about it. It was like an experiment, and when all these people got excited about it, it was quite odd. I was living in the same room as Sam off a quid a day. We didn’t have any money and were just jumping on trains and sneaking into clubs. The band was just a stupid thing for three people who didn’t have anything else to do. And then suddenly we had all of these people like Virgin offering us these massive record deals, and even though we were broke we still told them to sling their hook, because it was really funny to. Maybe we should have taken the cash, but it was funnier to tell the head of Virgin Records that you didn’t care. We went there and took a bunch of CDs, came back and talked some more about it, and then said no. And this guy got so angry and so upset about it. He was shouting, “We signed The Sex Pistols! We signed Devo!” And then he said to Sam, “You, the weird one, what do you think about all of this?!”, and we just left. I don’t think he’d ever
been told no before. It was really funny, and I think it’s almost worth missing out on all that cash for that moment. We had lots of meetings with labels, even though we weren’t sure we wanted to even release a record. Domino got it to an extent, and I really liked them anyway. I don’t think we would have even released it if I hadn’t been so obsessed with Domino. We told them at the start that we only wanted to do one album, and they didn’t really believe us – they thought we’d go on tour and have a great time, but if anything, it had the opposite effect. Sam especially, it totally did his head in. He was struggling with it. He hadn’t found it funny for a long time. In the beginning he did, but as it got more popular and serious, I think he felt like he was doing something wrong, like, he shouldn’t be doing this silly thing and it doing well. The problem was that we were three quite unusual people. Sam is a really creatively intelligent person and
talented musician and a little bit barmy, as well, as most people like that are. And Dev is similar as well – he’s a talented guy, but he’s got his own things going on in his head – and I suppose I’m probably a bit like that as well, and having three people like that in a band is not really healthy. If you have someone like Sam in a band – who is bordering on genius, I think, and is one of the most talented people I’ve ever met, but he really struggles to keep a lid on it – you need one person like that and three other people to look after them and make sure they’re doing
“Other bands used to get upset with us, because they could see that we were fucking about”
alright. Whereas we had three really destructive people in the band, which started off as really funny, but after 6 months of that it just got more and more destructive. We didn’t hate each other but we were driving each other mental. The thing I liked about it most was that we weren’t putting any thought into it and we did really well, and there were loads of bands trying really hard who didn’t get anywhere. I think that’s really funny. If there were more bands doing things for the sake of it – for it being funny, or an experiment, or a means to an end, as opposed to worrying about where it’s going to get them – they’d probably have a better chance of doing well. There needs to be more kids doing things for the fuck of it, because everyone is so well versed in everything that’s going on now. Other bands used to get upset with us, because they could see that we were fucking about. We’d play a gig with someone who was quite good, who we really liked, and it would be quite embarrassing because you could tell that they hated you, but you could also tell that they were a little bit jealous that you were doing so well with something that was so crap. My lasting memory of 2005 is… as funny as I think it is now, at the time it was horrible. I had a terrible time. I hated it. At first it was funny, but it got progressively more and more horrible. And I don’t want to be that guy, because I know to the outside world it looked like really good fun, and at times it was, but at the same time, it was really difficult for me to deal with for quite a while afterwards. I think I really regretted it. I didn’t like to be associated with it, whereas now I think it’s quite funny, and I’m glad I did it. It was just the right amount of stupid and the right amount of whatever. We did it until it wasn’t fun and then we stopped doing it, and that’s how you should look at things. Especially when you’re young, you shouldn’t be worrying about your career and where you’re going to be in 10 years.
10 years of Loud And Quiet
Modern History 2005 – 2015 And people say the world’s gone to shit!
Biggest selling Album
Coldplay ‘X&Y’ (8.3million)
High School Musical - OST (7m)
High School Musical 2 – OST (6m)
Coldplay ‘Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends’ (6.8m)
Susan Boyle ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ (8.3m)
Eminem ‘Recovery’ (5.7m)
Adele ’21’ (18.1m)
Adele ’21’ (8.3m)
One Direction ‘Midnight Memories’ (4m)
Taylor Swift ‘1989’ (3.7m)
Loud And Quiet coup
Trapped In The Closet
Charlie bit my finger
Tom Cruise’s Scientology video
David after Dentist
Buttery Biscuit Base
Fenton the Dog
Ice Bucket Challenge
Reality TV Star
The cast of Googlebox
Highest grossing film
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire ($890m)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1b)
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End ($1b)
The Dark Knight ($1b)
Toy Story 3 ($1.1b)
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($1.3b)
Transformers: Age of Extension ($1.1b)
Hyped indie Band
DIY garage & punk
Post-Dubstep / Night Bus
’80s soul pop revival
Friend request me!
Inspire a nation
Von Dutch caps
‘Distressed’ classic rock band T-shirts
Thick rim glasses
Coke Moss: What?! Super models take drugs??!!
MELicious intent: Mel Gibson is a racist
Not So Goodie: Jade, have you been talking to Mel?
The Snake of Wall Street: Bernie Madoff get’s 150 years
West Vs Swift: The start of Kanye’s Award Show ‘bit’
You’ve got a friend in me: Tiger Woods is a friendly guy
Phone Hacking: Hugh Grant has fish fingers for dinner!
Jimmy Savile: No, it wasn’t a horrific dream
LiveSTRONG: What?! Cyclists take drugs??!!
Dapper (no) Laughs: No, it wasn’t a horrific dream
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Avengers Assemble ($1.5b)
10 years of Loud And Quiet
The Rules 1. You’ve got your own dice, right? 2. Pick a beard counter and join the other beards on the starting line. 3.
Have a fight over who’s going to go first, although any player with a real-life patchy beard HAS to go last.
4. Follow the board in a clockwise direction.
If you land on ‘Chance’ or ‘Community Chest’, role the dice and match up your number with the lists below.
Day jobs are a common part of getting a music magazine off the ground. You may need to get one once or twice. Roll a 6 to get back in the game.
7. Enjoy it, for god’s sake!
1. Break the Internet
You coin the term ‘plop-core’ and overhear someone you’ve never met use it at ATP Iceland. Advance 3 spaces.
An ill-timed lie-in causes you to miss news of a surprise Radiohead release. It’s on all the blogs apart from yours. Go back 2 spaces.
2. Educating Fulham
2. Phone hacking
You successfully name every track featured in the season finale of Made In Chelsea. Having proved all your old teachers wrong, advance 2 spaces.
You invest poorly in the new craze of phone hacking, your biggest scoop being that The Cribs are on at 9:30 tonight, not 9:00. Go straight to day job jail.
3. Just say no
3. Christmas party!
‘Something’ you ‘ate’ makes you feel paranoid in the Healing Fields at 3am. You’ve shat yourself too. Miss a turn.
You’ve been invited to a record label’s Christmas party, which has a free bar. Drink yourself sick; you deserve it. Swap places with any other player on the board.
4. Monkey love Your 7” of ‘Five Minutes With Arctic Monkeys’ sells on eBay for £100. Save the money to get out of day job jail, should you fall on hard times.
5. Hey! No fair!!!
4. Tape That! Cassettes come back in fashion. Move forward 2 spaces, for holding onto your Walkman for all these years.
What’s this?! You’ve been flown to a European festival with all expenses paid and given a VIP wristband, BUT there’s a different coloured one that gets you into an identical bar. Miss a turn as you argue with festival security.
5. Superstar DJ
6. The Law won
Slow advertising month. Go straight to day job jail.
You get sued by popular board game Monopoly for something you publish. This is the big one – go back to the start.
Someone tips you £10 for playing ‘Fuck Forever’ at your club night in a disused public toilet. Now we’re cooking! Save the money to get out of day job jail, should you fall on hard times.
An A-Z guide to publishing a music magazine by stuart stubbs
It’s not false modesty to say that if I can start printing a music magazine in 2005 and still be printing it in 2015, you most probably could, too. My biggest asset back then was my naivety as a university leaver, followed by the relative comfort and discomfort of having moved back home to Southend-on-Sea, and the boredom caused by my situation. I started printing Loud And Quiet in what had been my older brother’s bedroom, and have refused to stop since. Ten years suddenly feels like a long time, and certainly time enough to work out the dos and don’ts of self-to-independent publishing, at least to an extent where you’re still enjoying yourself. We’ll take a bunch of stuff as read, shall we? ‘Believe in yourself ’; ‘Do it for the right reasons’; ‘Make something that is, first and foremost, for you’. It’s all true, but you already know that, and so I’ve omitted these and other such phrases of psycho-babble from my A-Z to publishing a music magazine. And please, anything you do find of use here, please do apply it to zines and publications on an infinite number of subjects beyond music, also. I mean, for god’s sake, just make something that speaks to you.
Let’s get this out of the way! There aren’t many things that are less ‘indie’ than money, but with all the good will in the world, you’re not going to be able to print a magazine for long without at least a little of it coming in. Our policy at Loud And Quiet has always been to never trade editorial space for advertising deals, which has meant, in the past, turning away money that could have been put to very good use. How you do it is your call, but when the time comes that someone finally returns a call to say, ‘yes, I do want to put an advertisement in Loud And Clear, please’, whatever you do, don’t pluck a figure out of your arse when you’re asked how much it will cost. Chances are you’ll feel too embarrassed to quote any figure above a pittance, and believe me, once you’ve charged someone £50 for a full page, you’ll never get them to pay more. So what you’ve doubled your print run – that figure will be burnt into their brain FOREVER! And they’ll tell their friends.
Crunchy guitars; squelchy synths; ethereal vocals. Clichés are a plenty in the world of music journalism, and y’know what, sometimes synths do sound squelchy. Maybe try to find a different word for it, though, as it’s the equivalent of a tabloid describing Rowan Atkinson as “Rubber-faced funny man Rowan Atkinson.”
is for Advertising
is for Bands Presumably you’re doing this because you like bands and music so much, and the good news is that, overwhelmingly so, bands are a good lot, who appreciate that you are a fan more than anything else, which is why you’re at the venue four hours early to ask them how it feels to have an admirer in Alex Kapranos. Still, you can never tell them you love their record now and have them believe it. You are an evil, snooping journalist and no one likes you.
is for Cliché
is for The Emperor’s New Clothes There are worse things than missing out on an interview with Grimes, like running an interview with We Smoke Fags.
is for Format
is for Distribution I’m a 32-year-old with a paper round, but while that was borne out of necessity (I had no money, and even if I had there wasn’t and still isn’t a company that distributes to all the stockists we like to be in), distributing as much as you can by yourself has its benefits. I won’t pretend it’s any fun, but at least you can keep an eye on what issues go down well and where they’re picked up, and you can constantly tailor how many you drop off in any one shop or venue. As the job gets bigger, upgrade your sports bag to a tartan shopper, and your shopper to a car or van. Eventually build up a team of trusted hands for places further afield (we now have help from record distributors Forte, and friends in Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds), but always do as much as you can yoursel
A very practical one, this, but I’d highly recommend thinking very hard about the size of your new zine.There’s the simple, often overlooked fact that bigger pages call for more words (personally, I found that two sides of A5 was plenty for my thrilling prose entitled We Salute Carl Barat in 2005), but a smaller format will also more easily find a home in stockists low on countertop space. It’s also much easier to drop them out the bottom of your trouser leg in those stores that haven’t given you permission to stock them in, yet.
is for Grammar you wouldnt belief the amount of writing we have been sent that with almost no grammar. Or terrible grammar.
10 years of Loud And Quiet
is for Holidays The music industry is a very predictable one, and it loves strategic dates more than anything. “Release a record in the summer? Are you kidding!? It’s Glastonbury! Put out something in December? With all those ‘Now That’s What I Call Christmas’ records? C’mon!” After seven years of pulling teeth to put together copies of the magazine over these stringently fallow periods, we now don’t bother with January and August issues, and feel much better for it.Trust me, you would enjoy reading them even less than we would making them.
is for Be Impulsive If The Emperor’s New Clothes is on one side of the tightrope, being impulsive is on the other. It’s a key part of popular music, and if everyone spent too much time analysing if something really is any good, and really isn’t going to be something you might be embarrassed by a little further down the line, nothing would get done and we’d all be writing exclusively about PJ Harvey and The Walkmen. If Sleigh Bells turn up and give you a genuine thrill, however fleeting it may or may not transpire to be, tell the world about it and say you were really high if anyone asks.
is for Jokes All successful publications have more than their fair share of humour. Take The Daily Mail… please.
is for Keep Printing Delusions of grandeur are a huge asset when you first start dropping your zine into local shops and onto beery pub tabletops. Harness that for at least the next 10 years. How else will you justify your mounting credit card debt over your first 3 years and your paper round at 32, as you regularly print issues, because all of this work couldn’t have been for nothing. If an airline fleet is grounded for more than a week it goes bust; if you put out an issue once every 8 months, you’ll stay bust.
is for Office
is for Logo How does your magazine’s logo look? And how about shrunk down to 50 pixels wide so it can fit on the bottom of a flyer for a ‘festival’ in a Shoeburyness car park? And massive, for your stage at the festival? If things go as well as you hope, you too could wrestle with such logistical nightmares.
is for Money Money again, and just a note that printing a music magazine and giving it away for free is not a very good way of making any. On the contrary, it costs a hell of a lot in the beginning, which is where your delusions of grandeur – not to mention your love for these bands that now hate you – will come in handy.
is for Name Your magazine will become your life sooner than you think. You’ll tell your friends about it, be introduced to their friends via it; you’ll write down what it’s called a million times and say it aloud a million times more. All of this is made a lot more enjoyable if you don’t hate the name of your child. (And if the .com domain is free, even better). Personally, I’m not sure if I’ve ever loved ‘Loud And Quiet’, although it’s safe to say that those three words in that order don’t really mean anything to me anymore, like how I imagine Noel Gallagher feels about the terrible word Oasis. I never disliked it though, and if you find that you’ve made a mistake on that front, change it quick, or forever be mumbling out of the side of your mouth whenever someone asks you what you do. I am sorry to report that the names Vice and Dazed are both already being used by other people.
It can be (and probably will be) a cleaning cupboard on the unfavourable side of town, but after you’ve completed Q on this list, get yourself a cheap workspace where pants and a T-shirt are not considered suitable attire. This isn’t just for the good of your self-esteem, but also to help curb your borderline unhealthy obsession with your magazine that you’ve now said aloud around a billion times. Working from home for too long actually means the opposite of doing fuck all and watching Deal Or No Deal all day.You’ll probably have a lie in until 9, check your emails in bed, blink to find it’s 2pm, shower, eat, work until 8, eat again, call it a day, remember there’s something that you really should be doing, work again until 2am, which is why you’re going to lie in until 9 tomorrow. Take everything to a cupboard on the other side of town, where you can leave it until tomorrow.
is for Pseudonyms Alex Young, Tony Soy, Caz McBain, Danny Canter, Niall Trent, Sam Little, Jane Doll. They wrote the very first issue of Loud And Quiet, and none of them exist. Not even Jenny Pencil. Disregarding just how awful the thing was, I figured that nobody was going to take seriously a music magazine (I had the audacity to insist it wasn’t a fanzine) that was written by one person, which is something I stand by. Until you’ve found some contributors (I started by emailing the faculties of University Journalism Degrees and asked them to forward on my plea to their students) just make up some names. A majority of the music industry is smoke and mirrors, so you’re in good company. And while you’re at it, erase ‘I’ from your vocabulary where your mag is concerned. It’s ‘we’. You, Alex, Tony, Caz and the others.
is for Quit Your Job Obviously, don’t be too hasty on this one – it’s your job that’s kept you in print all this time. There’ll come a time, though (it was two years, for me), when you’ll be too knackered keep your hobby up, but not yet disillusioned enough to admit defeat and throw in the towel. Chances are you’ve not been enjoying your job anyway (because it’s not your hobby, and you’ve been operating on 4 hours sleep for 2 years), and so, when one or the other has to go, make it the job. A simplistic, hippyish view, perhaps, but if it doesn’t work out you can always get another job, whereas if you don’t give the mag a fair shot, what the fuck have you been doing these last two years?
is for Rivals I’d say this is my golden rule – do not entertain the idea of rivals. I won’t be so disingenuous to say that it’s not disappointing when you notice that another magazine or website features a band or artist you wanted to, or when they do a better job of something than you, or when they simply get there first. But constantly looking at what everyone else is doing is the quickest way to prevent yourself from doing whatever the hell you like, and that’s why you quit your job just now. I’ll check out Pitchfork once in a while, and I enjoy some of the features on The Quietus, but I don’t read any other music sites or magazines, for fear of it influencing what we’re doing (or not doing) in Loud And Quiet.
is for Social Media Simon Cowell has 11.4 million followers on Twitter, and he’s not once tweeted about music. Just think what you could achieve!
10 years of Loud And Quiet
You’re definitely going to need a hand if you want to do this for any substantial amount of time. Form a small team of willing contributors and then, more importantly, show them some respect. You definitely won’t be able to pay them to start with – perhaps ever, is the sorry, true fact of it – so the least you can do is honour their work. We give our photographers carte blanche and insist that reviewers’ scores run as they are received. It can mean that records I love get a rougher ride than I was hoping they would, and that albums I can’t stand get a big thumbs up, from time to time, but if you’ve entrusted a review to a member of your team, and they’ve bothered to write down their opinions for your free music paper, the very least you can do is respect their judgment.
I know you’re a physical magazine, which yes, in itself, in 2015, tells me everything I need to know about what you think of the digital world. But I’m sorry, you do need a website, too – a half decent one. If nothing else, you can archive all of your past issues there, and tell people where they can go to pick up your real life publication, and when the next one is out. From my experience, you might even start to enjoy having a complimentary digital presence, as long as you continue to embrace the limits and craft of ink and paper above anything else. How else will new friends you make at parties be able to ask you what you think the role of traditional print media is in our modern digital world?
is for Team
is for Unique Content Okay, so ‘unique’ is pretty much unattainable in the world you’ve chosen to inhabit, but you can at least attempt to feature artists and articles that aren’t currently all over the place. The sole interview with Wild Beasts’ bassist is better than the seventh with FKA Twigs… You know what I mean.
What Do We Know, Anyway?
is for Website
Due to a combination of E and I, and plain and simple poor taste, hands up, sometimes we get it very wrong. Having pawed over 10 years of Loud And Quiet this month, it seems that we actually said the following…
“If Yeti are John Hassall’s Babyshambles, there is no doubt that they are less exciting, but far more likely to do something in 2005.”
is for The xx It’s nice to have a brag or two up your sleeve after all these years, and mine is that The xx performed at our very first club night to around 20 of us. Surely it’s no coincidence that they went on to sell hundreds of thousands of records after this event?
“[‘First Comes First’, the debut album from The Paddingtons] is a top class album that brings much promise for the future.” “Jakobinarina look set to be the Interpol of 2007.”
“More powerful than their peers Radio 4 and The Rapture, We Are Scientists provoke a reaction.”
is for You
is for V.I.P. Bars Now that you’re molding the minds of fellow music fans, you’ll occasionally be granted access to the V.I.P. bar after gigs and at any number of music festivals. It’s a pretty special place – like the non-V.I.P. bar, only twice as busy and where tradition dictates that all conversations happen as the two participants look over one another’s left shoulder to see if that actually is Huw Stephens. It is. You’ve made it!
“Sit tight for a week or two and await the arrival of the most thought out debut album since 1984.” [Larrikin Love’s ‘The Freedom Spark’]
You might want to try all of this with a friend, and god knows that there’s been times when it would have been nice for me to turn to a partner and say, ‘can you believe it, that our shitty little fanzine has now become this, and here we are so close to Huw Stephens?!’, but that would have undoubtedly meant compromise and lingering on every little decision. Whether you do go it alone or buddy up, you owe it to your mag to be a bit of a Nazi. You could easily be made to think that a photo series on the life of Ian Beale is not such a hot idea if you ask for a second opinion.
“Milburn seem to have survived the Sheffield scene blacklash with less damage than even Arctic Monkeys.” “Don’t be surprised if the peculiar names of Late of The Pier become known in every household.” “Twisted Charm should be considered the Velvet Underground of the their time.” “‘The Life Pursuit’ is quite simply Belle & Sebastian’s greatest work to date!”
“Don’t be fooled by the worst band name in history.” [The Wombats] “Fortunately, Kasabian have zero chance of getting anyone to listen to their records. You’ll never hear from them again.”
is for Zero Pounds After all your hard work, you’re now going to have to give it all away for nothing. It’s a cruel reality at first, but there’s no beating the Internet. I’ve got a friend who doesn’t even buy music anymore! Just get your thing out there.
“It was starting to look like Hot Hot Heat had been forgotten.”
What’s happened to East London’s DIY community? Put simply, it’s shrunk. Considerably so in the past 3 or 4 years, so it’s a good job for SOUND SAVERS, a new DIY studio and practice space that’s adapting to the gentrification of Hackney Ph o to g rap hy: g e m h arr i s / w r it er : do mi n ic h a le y
“Most people round here seem to pay us no mind,” laughs Mark Jasper as we huddle around the drum kit at Sound Savers on a cold Monday night. “I did have the church from across the road come over and record a couple of their hymns a few months back; I just sat in the booth with the tape running while they sang for two and a half straight hours. It was actually pretty amazing.” Located behind a Nigerian restaurant on Homerton High Street, in east London, it’s easy to see why the neighbours might have passed them by. It’s definitely not what most people imagine a recording studio to look like. Consisting of a large live room and small control room, there’s no chill out room with a pool table for band’s to relax in between takes – instead, all you get is an admittedly comfortable sofa to wait out your turn and a selection of herbal teas. It’s a pretty Spartan place, but it’s an environment that fits in with the owners’ ideology. When Alex Clegg, Mark Jasper and Henry Withers decided to start a studio in an old warehouse next to Homerton station, the DIY scene in east London was arguably at its zenith. Built out of a shared love of lo-fi, punk and experimental records, and a vision to create a place where bands could record and practice for cheap. “We all had been in bands and run studios in the past, so we felt that we had a pretty good understanding to what band’s actually needed out of a studio – hence the name; Sound Savers,” explains Withers when I ask them how it all came together. “Originally we wanted to call it Ultimate Value,” says Jasper. Jasper and Withers have long been involved with local bands (Witching Waves and Human Hair, respectively) but the guys are keen to point out that there is no driving principle or defining sound to the work they do at Sound Savers. “We’re more about trying to help people get their ideas
than trying to impose a system of doing things or a certain aesthetic,” clarifies Clegg when I try to tease out the studio’s philosophy. Jasper sets me straight. “We’re that bridge between the big studio where you get the super-polished Jesse J stuff and the guys trying out ideas on a laptop or an 8-track recorder,” he says, leaning over his knees, intently. “I get a lot comments about other people’s recording experiences where they ‘made me play to a click-track’, or they ‘made choices for me that I didn’t want’. I guess the difference is that we have always tried to be sympathetic to the needs of any band that comes in here – we try to put the band first, which, for me, is what DIY is about. It’s about supporting each other.” Despite having no stated aims or agenda, Sound Savers has become an important cog for up and coming London bands, with Joya, Primitive Parts, Primetime, Dignan Porch and Trash Kit all recording at the studio recently. “I’ve always enjoyed simplesounding music,” offers Withers when I mention that a lot of these bands share fairly lo-fi sensibilities. “Those bands don’t seem to make lots of money, so you need places like this to be able to do music. Don’t get me wrong, I like big, expensive studios as well, but the music I make and like to be involved with doesn’t need to be in spaces like that, so you just end up where you end up.” The perceived notion these days, is that east London’s DIY scene has its best days behind it. A quick look at my Facebook wall, with its litany of venue closures, bands breaking up and pictures of empty shows, seems to confirm it, so it’s refreshing to find three people who are still optimistic about the future of Hackney’s music scene. “There are still bands that people are keen to see,” says Withers, looking a bit puzzled that I even asked them the
question in the first place. “I mean, when Sauna Youth play the Shacklewell Arms, they still seem to bring a couple of hundred people down to see them.” “There’s still a good DIY scene that has come together recently and there’s some younger bands leading the way; it’s just gotten a little bit harder to find,” asserts Jasper. “Last month we had two bands in playing stuff I’ve never even heard before and both were really good. Obviously the area is changing and it’s weird to think what the future of Sound Savers will be, as we’ve based ourselves on something that was easier to do a few years ago, but we seem to be doing alright at the moment.” They have a point; the idea that music scenes coalesce, grow, become stale and die is an easy narrative for people like me to spin, but it’s rarely the case in real life. Music scenes don’t grow and decline like empires but rather edge forward like learner drivers, jerking forward suddenly when they find gear for a bit, while
periodically stuttering to a halt while people frantically search for another gear. Yeah, the Stag’s Head might be a bit cruddy now, The Buffalo Bar is gone and the Shacklewell Arms might seem a bit old hat, but try telling the people throwing themselves around to Lowest Form at Power Lunches that there is no scene left in east London. In some ways, the relative lack of attention is helping east London’s musicians to find their feet again. With the pressure of having to be the next big thing easing off, the scene is starting to regenerate, with a small cottage industry of practice studios, promoters and venues allowing bands and artists to find and develop their sound and followings at what feels like a more natural pace. Thanks to places like Dalston café/ venue Power Lunches and Stoke Newington’s creative space Total Refreshment Centre, the small, ramshackle gigs that Hackney used to be famous for are starting to make a bit of a comeback. They may be niche
shows, but they have a spirit of adventure and sense of discovery that the area has been missing for a few year’s now, and in their own way Sound Savers are adding to that by allowing bands to play free shows at their studios on an ad-hoc basis. “There seemed to be a lot of warehouse and weird shows around here four or five years ago, and I really enjoyed that and wanted to try and recapture it.There are four or five spaces that everyone plays and I think it’s nice to have somewhere that’s a bit different,” says Jasper, who has been the main driver behind these intimate shows. “The connection with Power Lunches is pretty strong. We both try and support grassroots stuff and build a community. That was why I wanted to do the shows here, so that there are more spaces for people to play, especially when you consider that everywhere is getting more expensive and it’s getting a harder city to live in if you’re in a band or doing something creative.”
For Clegg, these open studios are as much about demystifying the recording process as they are a chance to show off some of the bands they’ve been working with. “It just gives more people the chance to be involved,” he says. “Most studios are like these ‘secret places’ where only the band and the engineers get to go – we just wanted to make this place open to anyone who wants to hang out.” It’s hard not to get excited about all
this talk of emergent movements and regenerating art scenes, but the walk from the studio back to Homerton train highlights the uncertain economic situation that they all face. Everywhere is new build flats, bringing their affluent residents and rising rents. Like it or not, Hackney is changing. Even before the interview had started, the guys were discussing how a new block of flats might mean that they would have to shell out to soundproof one of
their practice rooms. “It’s really hard to find units like this,” says Withers when I ask if it’s getting harder for Sound Saver’s to exist in Homerton. “We’ve tried to find places for an extra practice room or something like that, but it’s hard to find somewhere that you don’t have to soundproof because there’s posh flats next door, or have to have crazy security because it’s in a super dodgy area or whatever. Also, it’s getting more difficult to find places that you can keep going for a long time and feel safe to invest in; it seems a lot of things going are for six month periods until they get converted into apartment buildings.” Luckily, it doesn’t seem like the guys will be going anywhere soon. Like many of the people still managing to cling on in the fast rising river that is Hackney’s rental market, Sound Savers seemed to have lucked out with their landlord. “He’s a pretty unusual guy,” observes Clegg. “He has all these units and he could easily sell the land and convert them into flats or whatever, but he seems to like to have this little business empire and has a pretty chilled out attitude to what we do.” Rather than struggling into the economic headwinds caused by Hackney’s redevelopment, Sound Savers is, in fact, thriving. Both Jasper and Clegg are eager to mention that they’ve begun to carve out full-time careers as sound engineers and the studio has just enjoyed its busiest January ever. Gentrification might be bringing with it an arm full of challenges, but it is also opening up a lot of opportunities, as Mark identifies. “Maybe with all this urban growth, there is more and more demand for these kinds of spaces.” Besides, it’s not like music is wedded to an area. Even if Hackney just becomes a massive warren of wine bars and expensive loft apartments, there is always going to be something going on somewhere, so Sound Savers will always have a niche to fill. Henry sums up the trio’s attitude of breezy optimism perfectly: “There’s always going to be one or two places around and as long as there’s places like this, we’ll survive. I mean we might have to move out to Tottenham one day, but all the punk kids would be living out in Tottenham by then, so what’s the difference?”
Reviews / Albums
LoneLady Hinterland War p By S am Wa lt on . In sto res Ma rch 23
In March 2010, Julie Campbell emerged fully formed as Lonelady from apparently nothing more substantial than two brief EPs and delivered ‘Nerve Up’, a monochrome debut album built from barely a drum machine and a telecaster. Stark, steely and sombre at first, ‘Nerve Up’ became more welcoming with every passing listen as its frost thawed, its microscopic cavities opened up to reveal fascinating intricacy and its dry, purposeful production nagged at the ear; by the time Campbell had played a handful of low-key festival shows that summer, it was proving itself a worthy contemporary of records like the xx’s equally bewitching and publically adored debut. But then, just as quietly as she had emerged, Campbell disappeared. Exactly five years on, Lonelady has resurfaced with a follow-up that on first inspection could have been
written immediately after ‘Nerve Up’: the teutonic minimalism endures, as does the arid production and Campbell’s desperately fragile, quivering vocal. Indeed, the two records are more similar than they are different, and unarguably built from the same deliberately simple blocks of programmed drums and two-note riffs. Repeatedly, however, ‘Hinterland’ brings a new richness to its arrangements that allows its songs to develop from spiky bursts into longer, more addictive grooves – ‘Nerve Up’’s palette of a plectrum over a guitar string is augmented by earthy, plain cello on the title track, and the stunning ‘Groove It Out’’s panoply of cowbells and synths playing one-finger motifs help generate a sense of a roomful of instruments all gyrating as one, like a robotic reimagining of Parliament at their most expansive. The effect is
frequently mesmerising – serene and simultaneously invigorating – and Campbell’s ability to maintain this feel across virtually the entire album makes for a terrifically fluid record. Even when ‘Hinterland’ breaks free of the unerringly precise percussion for the haunting and darkly beautiful ‘Flee!’, the sudden rush of looseness remains just as engrossing as the previous strictures. Five years to follow up a record is an awfully long time in the currently fevered, grabbing climate of posteverything pop music – but by the same token, countless second albums are made hurriedly and limply, and end up taking their authors down with them. With that framing, the longer you listen to ‘Hinterland’ the more you realise how wisely Campbell has used that time to make a second album with its own independent substance. “Put a
record on, make a connection”, implores Campbell on ‘Bunkerpop’, making the phrase jump out of the song with a vocal shake, and in doing so provides perhaps the plainest example of how much of a progression ‘Hinterland’ actually represents from her debut. ‘Nerve Up’ made for lonely listening during fidgety walks at yellow-grey dusk past dim building sites and fly-tipped mattresses, and ‘Hinterland’ is without doubt still in that post-industrial postcode. But it also carries a more muscular and inclusive warmth to its outsiderness, and hints repeatedly at a sense of community brought together by dance music. Campbell’s progression is slight, but nuanced all the same: with ‘Hinterland’, Lonelady remains music for abandoned car parks – but this time, you sense people might just be dancing in them, together.
Courtney Barnett Sometimes I sit and think, and Sometimes I just sit Hous e An x i e ty / M a ra tho n By Ch r i s Watk eys. I n sto res Ma rch 23
The foggy strains of early single ‘History Eraser’ announced Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett as an artist worth watching in 2012; the similarly hazy vibes of songs like ‘Avant Gardener’ confirmed her as a distinctive songwriter with a pretty idiosyncratic approach to indie rock. A huge part of Barnett’s appeal lay in her lyricism. Here was an artist who, in the vein of Mike Skinner and early Arctic Monkeys, filled her songs with relatable real-world events; taking everyday personal experiences and making their mundanity relatably entertaining. Barnett’s twist on this is an underlying self-deprecating humour (“I’m not that good at breathing in,” went ‘Avant Gardener’).
Continuing in that vein, much of the lyrical content of ‘Sometimes I Sit….’, her first album proper (2013’s ‘The Sea of Split Peas’ was a combination of her first two EPs), is based on very personal observations and can sometimes feel like a genuinely funny friend reading out their diary to a backdrop of overdriven guitars. And there’s also the character-based storytelling of opener ‘Elevator Operator’, which, like Blur’s ‘Tracy Jacks’, relates the tale of an office worker driven to a breakdown by the pointlessness of it all. Its punchy, staccato guitar stabs are infused with Barnett’s now-clear gift for melody. Single ‘Pedestrian At Best’ is
then explosively raw, with a hectic vocal line delivered over a pleasingly heavy verse riff most closely reminiscent of Rocket From The Crypt’s ‘On A Rope’, and fittingly the album is permeated with a strong nineties vibe – witness the rag-tag melodies of ‘Debbie Downer’, which recall The Breeders: probably the record’s catchiest moment. Then there’s ‘Small Poppies’, which sits firmly in the slacker rock camp; ponderous and stoned of tempo, seven solid minutes of bludgeoning, two-note lethargy. Occasionally Barnett veers away from her half-sung, half-spoken vocal trope and towards a contrasting sweetness of delivery, as in the
sweet chorus of ‘An Illustration Of Loneliness’. Meanwhile a musical departure comes with the quietly reflective atmosphere of ‘Kim’s Caravan’, which starts out like a lament sung in a partly submerged cave, while gathering waves of guitar echo around the rocky walls. The song builds and builds via torrents of squally guitar toward a primal, visceral climax that you don’t want to end, and neither does Barnett by the sound of it, who populates her songs with lines like “Don’t stop listening, I’m not finished yet”. She’s having a lot of fun doing what she’s doing, and that attitude is half of the reason why this is a debut album with such massive appeal.
For a while now, Matthew E. White has been going about his work with a quiet confidence. Diligently, and without fanfare, he’s been sculpting a distinctive sound, forming a movement of approximately one in reprising Gamble and Huff’s classic brand of Philadelphia funk-infused soul for a 21st century audience. White’s strength – and the attribute that has conversely kept him from registering on the mainstream radar – is his subtlety, last seen on his genuinely acclaimed 2012 debut
album ‘Big Inner’. The leaves of his songs unfurl gradually, morphing with a restrained grace so that by the time you arrive at their euphoric climaxes you wonder how on earth you got there. From opener ‘Take Care My Baby’, with its stabs of violins and underpinning of sumptuous brass, White always feels in control; his gentle, whispered vocal somehow managing to hold firm in the eye of the funk storm. But there is also a deceptive diversity to the songs on
‘Fresh Blood’ and that’s the key to its success. It’s easy to discard White as a 70s soul throwback but throughout he touches on a range that includes blues, smooth jazz, folk and fully-fledged classic rock. ‘Fruit Trees’, for example, shifts seamlessly back and forth between lush RnB and out-and-out Average White Band funk while the menacing ‘Holy Moly’ does California Rock as well as The Eagles ever did. Labels aside, however, ‘Fresh Blood’ is a joyously melodic journey.
0 7/ 1 0
Matthew E. White Fresh Blood Do m i n o By davi d zamm i tt. In sto res m a rch 9
Albums 0 7/ 1 0
0 5 /10
Young Guv Ripe 4 Luv
Clarence Clarity No Now
Chastity Belt Time To Go Home
Moon Duo Shadow of The Sun
SL um b erl an d
B e ll a U ni o n
H a rdl y a r t
S a cr e d B o n es
By s amue l C ornforth. In stor e s M arc h 9
B y j o e g o gg i ns . I n s to r e s M arc h 2
By al e x w i sg ard. I n s to r e s m a rc h 2 3
B y h a yl ey s c o t t . I n s t or es m a rc h 2
Side projects fall into two distinct categories, members conjuring up a similar fare to their usual band with subtle differences or them experimenting with sounds that are the polar opposite to their usual bag. Young Guv – Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook’s solo project ¬– falls noticeably into the latter. ‘Ripe 4 Luv’ is a world away from sludgy hardcore punk. Instead, Cook for the most part has penned a mini-album of ornate and glistening pop music that evokes the starry-eyed sensation of getting mesmerised by a sparkling glitter ball, best shown on the woozy disco tracks ‘Aquarian’ and ‘Wrong Crowd’. Elsewhere, he kindles the dreamy reveries of Deerhunter and Big Star with added va-va-voom, while ‘Crawling Back To You’ is a power-pop blast reminiscent of Starships’ ‘We Built This City’ that somehow he manages to pull off. It might not be the most cohesive listen, but the Canadian punk certainly isn’t short of ideas and ‘Ripe 4 Luv’ hints that his pop hooks are more than just an experiment. He has, after all, ghost written for Taylor Swift before now.
You know your first record has probably been in the works a little longer than perhaps it should have when you find yourself hitting the New Year’s tips lists two years running, but perhaps we can cut Clarence Clarity some slack; the Londoner quite clearly specialises in controlled chaos, with pretty much every moment on this lengthy debut LP seeming to simultaneously be both pain-staking in its construction and on the verge of falling apart at any moment. Clarity channels his eccentric pop sensibilities through a wonky, funk-driven lens, and when it works, it really works; the groove on ‘Let’s Shoot Up’ is irresistible, and ‘Porn Mountain’’s screechy, eighties guitar works uncannily well as part of what sounds like Blood Orange’s pop influences taken to a particularly druggy extreme. Perhaps predictably, though, ‘No Now’ is ultimately patchy; the constant stylistic twists and turns torpedo any aspiration of cohesion, and it’s often painfully apparent that Clarity didn’t have anybody of an editorial bent on board. There’s promise, then, but only if Clarity picks a lane.
Eighteen months on from ‘No Regrets’, Chastity Belt’s second album sounds like a gang of blearyeyed friends tiptoeing over the last of the stragglers and looking for the way out of the party. Shorn of slack punk throwaways reimagining Gregor Samsa as a giant vagina, ‘Time To Go Home’ deals in dusky indie pop.The sub-Vivian Girls STDthemed thrash ‘The Thing’ (chorus: “everyone’s infected!”) tries to raise the pulse, but fortunately it’s an exception rather than a rule. Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund’s smokering guitars shimmer and sprawl hypnotically on ‘On the Floor’ and ‘Lydia’, which should satisfy any impatient Real Estate fans. Meanwhile, the tempo changes on ‘Cool Slut’ pull as few punches as the striking message of its lyrics. At their least marble-mouthed, Shapiro’s vocals have the commanding presence of Sharon Van Etten, but for most of the album, the Seattle quartet sound too casual to bother trying to match her defiance. By the end of ‘IDC’ – which, of course, stands for I Don’t Care – even the tape gives up.
From the ceaseless drone of psych rock revivalists still on the rise are Moon Duo – a San Francisco twosome with a predilection for all of the essential elements of psych: repetitive, fuzzed-up riffs, suppressed and barely-there vocals, and a persistent, near-apocalyptic organ underpinning it all. Recalling the cosmic, sonic explorations of their homeland with a more present take on the Bay Area sound, here they resemble a contemporary version of Jefferson Airplane, while sounding altogether more concise than ever, with new addition John Jeffrey applying some deftly propulsive drumming for heightened hypnosis. ‘In A Cloud’ is the album’s prevailing moment: Sanae Yamada’s hushed vocals are enough to induce spacedout slumber, while its languid guitar lines interplay effortlessly. In all, ‘Shadow of the Sun’ serves as the scope of Moon Duo’s artistic ability: unchanging but ultimately triumphant. There’s not much here to differentiate from 2012’s ‘Circles’, but that’s often the limitations of psych rock. The medium is tedious, but they sure do it well.
In recent years, Dan Deacon has been flirting with a potential problem that you could very well argue is of his own making – with his once prodigious rate of return having gradually slowed a little (he turned out eight releases between 2004 and 2009), the weight of expectation now increases with every record he does put out. The situation is only amplified by the rapturous critical reception that his last album, 2012’s ‘America’, was met with, and so ‘Gliss Riffer’, his
second LP for Domino, arrives with no shortage of scrutiny. It’s to Deacon’s credit, then, that he’s carried it off with such confidence, even if there’s a sense that not every idea quite comes off on this hugely experimental record. Stylistically, it veers away from ‘America’’s expansiveness and replaces it with plenty of polish and variety; twinkling opener ‘Feel the Lightning’ hints that he might be taking cues from Krautrock, whilst ‘Meme Generator’ chops up vocal samples and layers
them incongruously over blissed-out synths, to quite glorious effect. The political voice that Deacon demonstrated on ‘America’ is also eschewed, with ‘Gliss Riffer’ largely lacking coherent vocals. If there is a narrative, it seems to be communicated in terms of a creeping sense of things spiralling out of control; the album’s closing two tracks are chaotic affairs. It’s by no means Deacon’s most accessible work, then, but long-time fans will likely be thrilled.
Dan Deacon Gliss Riffer Domi n o By Joe g ogg i n s . I n store s Fe b 23
Fawn Spots From Safer Places
Colleen Green I Want To Grow Up
Ni n j a T un es
H ard l y ar t
s o ftwa r e
By r eef y oun i s . In sto re s Fe B rua ry 23
B y J ame s We s t . In s t o re s M arc h 9
By d avi d z ammi tt . I n s t o r es f eb r u a r y 2 3
B y T o m F enw ic k . I n s to r es Ma r c h 2
However you play it out, ‘Projections’ simply grooves. A debut that pays homage to vibrant African rhythms, jazz, funk, and soul, it’s a vindication of Archie Fairhurst revelling in his influences, and applying the cut’n’paste style of the collagist from whom he took his moniker. Opener ‘Nina’s Charm’ has a busy charisma with its playful handclaps and scampering hi-hat, ‘Work Song’ shifts from shuffling electronica to the HonkyTonk piano and wailing sax of a basement speakeasy, and ‘Motherless Child’ is a probing blend of soft electronica, off-beat percussion and a screeching hook. None of it should work but it’s curiously perfect, and the album’s standout track. Elsewhere, there’s the lip-curling cool of the strutting ‘Prison Blues’, wheezing Moog goodness (‘The Drifter’ and ‘La Petite Mort’) and the summer anthem in-waiting (‘Rainbow’) but no track captures the groove quite like ‘Roots’. A dynamite clash of tribal percussion, mangled bass, Detroit spirit and an irrepressible house lick, it’s one of the reasons why ‘Projections’ works so well.
The name of this first album from noisy York threesome Fawn Spots stems from the idea that the security of youth is lost as soon as we’re thrown into the big, wide adult world. Fittingly, for the most part, listening to ‘From Safer Place’ is like being thrown headfirst into the choppy deep blue with a vexed Great White. Or, in the case of the shed-recorded LP’s most wildly erratic excursions (‘I’m Not a Man, I Never Will Be’, ‘Natural Vision’, ‘A Certain Pleasure’), it’s akin to being repeatedly clubbed around the face by Mike Tyson. First single ‘New Sense’ kicks off the aural kicking, but there are flashes of hooks at play too, which hint at Fawn Spots’s lighter side, like the album’s title track, which indirectly nods to Joy Division’s dark eye for melody and adds an earworming refrain that happily co-exists with early Hüsker Dü. Elsewhere, Fawn Spots are a ringer for ¡Forward Russia! but with an extra injection of angst and the angular riffs replaced with a Fucked Up-like racket. It’s consistently abrasive stuff, but ‘From Safer Place’ is at times exhilarating.
From the photo of the artist in sunglasses and party hat that adorns the cover of Colleen Green’s third (how?) LP, to its final note, this is a self-conscious, vapid, and utterly pointless pastiche of better music and better ideas that has no place on any record shelf, hard drive or streaming service. The best way to describe it is that every song on the album is a bit like something else, except much worse. Opener ‘I Want To Grow Up’, for example, sounds like the production and vocal of Loomer came to an 8-year-old Kevin Shields when he was grounded for not tidying his room. ‘Things That Are Bad For Me (Part 1)’ is a bubblegum punk number à la Fountains of Wayne’s ‘Stacey’s Mom’, only bereft of the humour. And the hook. If this is what punk sounds like in 2015 then Strummer will have an awful lot of turning to do down below. It’s rebellious all right; in the way that not doing your homework or refusing to eat your veg can be seen as making a stand. Perhaps when Green eventually does grow up things will improve but for now this genuinely feels like satire.
With his 2014 debut – ‘Remembrance’ – still ringing in our ears, Suicideyear (aka nineteen year old Baton Rouge native James Prudhomme) seems to have wasted no time in releasing a follow-up. But ’Japan’ is no speedy sequel. It’s actually a re-packaged mixtape originally released in 2013, and will feel like familiar territory if you’re aware of his work on Yung Lean’s ‘Unknown Death 2002’. While it lacks some of the subtlety, refinement and sanguine emotion of ‘Remembrance’, it makes up for that deficit with a disjointed, brooding malevolence. ‘Dropp’, the album’s highlight, reverberates with queasy menace, undulating quasi-religious organs see-sawing over skittering breaks, while tracks such as ‘Scarr’, ‘Hurry’ and ’Over’ simmer with gloomy, clamorous intent. Prudhomme layers dense harmony, lush electro and Trap beats into a compelling work, which may not supply the same clarity of his more recent output, but remains a prodigious prequel. So if you’ve been sleeping on his career it’s time to wake up, because 2015 might just be Suicideyear’s…errr…year.
‘Supergroup’ is a wholly contemptible adjective that conjures up images of pseudo-masturbatory side-projects. But in an effort to buck that trend comes Future Brown – a pancontinental/pan-global collective of underground dance luminaries; comprising of LA duo Nguzunguzu, Kuwaiti born Al Qadiri and NYC based City Trax label boss J-Cush. And in keeping with such a diverse line-up, they’ve produced a debut that’s disengaged itself from the conventions of a single genre. So we
get eleven tracks, each with the vocal talents of a different MC; ranging from Rap/R&B (‘Room 302’/’Vernaculo’), to Grime (‘Asbestos’), Reggaeton (‘No Apology’), Juke and Trap (‘Big Homie’ and ‘MVP’). On paper, this might seem like a schizophrenic approach, but when it works it flashes with moments of dazzling brilliance. The quartet’s taught minimalistic rhythms and dark capacious beats underpin a refreshing abundance of
female MC’s amongst their exhaustive list of collaborators, with Tink, Timberlee and 3D Na’Tee turning in the album’s standout performances. Of course, some tracks are more successful than others and the constant shapeshifting can jar; ’Danger zone’ and ’Killing Time’ seem distinctly by-the-numbers. But that aside, it’s hard not to admire the audacity of a debut that has such bone-rattling, booty shaking ambition.
0 7/ 1 0
Future Brown Future Brown War p By Tom F en wi c k. In sto re s Februa ry 23
Purity Ring another eternity
Lighning Bolt Fantasy Empire
Fantasma Free Love
Krill A Distant Fist Unclenching
Th ri l l J o c k e y
s o und way
S t ea k CL ub
By al ex wi s gard. I n store s Mar ch 2
B y JAm e s F. T ho mp s o n. I n s to r e s Mar c h 1 6
By r e ef yo uni s . I n s to r e s M a r c h 9
B y D a n iel D y la n Wr a y . I n s t o r es MAr c h 2
Ignore the 4AD logo and the ethereal artwork for a second. Purity Ring’s second effort is, above all else, a proper pop album. Much of ‘another eternity’ (the track titles being alllower case is, we’re told, important) could sit comfortably on Top 40 radio – all glossy synths, stuttering RnB beats and vocals processed into the stratosphere. Sure, that may fly in the face of their self-described futurepop, but with production this rich and textured, at least it makes ‘now’ sound better. ‘push pull’ lurches its way out of the box, with queasy drum patterns declaring war on themselves, and ‘sea castle’ somehow makes Pixies’ quietLOUD-quiet trick work in a synthpop setting. The problem with ‘another eternity’, though, is that, for all its pop production savvy, it rarely has the songs to back it up. Only closer ‘stillness in woe’ sounds like it was written with the vocals in mind, allowing Megan James’s vulnerable voice to take centre stage. For a duo who didn’t record a note of their debut album in the same room as each other, this follow up all sounds oddly detached.
No wonder there have apparently been at least three versions of ‘Fantasy Empire’ recorded and shelved since 2009. For anybody not yet familiar with Lightning Bolt, the Providence, Rhode Island duo play a bone-shatteringly intense composite of Boredoms-influenced noise, thrash metal and stoner rock that’s all but impossible to capture on record. Album number seven – the first Lightning Bolt release in three years but first batch of new material in six – sees the twosome decamp to a professional studio but somehow still do a stellar job of boosting fidelity without dialling down their energy or idiosyncrasies. Drummer and vocalist Brian Chippendale once again spends an entire record wailing non-sequiturs through a telephone receiver microphone attached to his head, while the bottom end of Brian Gibson’s bass is still as murky as a witch’s brew. On the other hand, Chippendale’s drums now punch the chest with enough force to cause an aneurysm and Gibson’s squealing, dive-bombing riffs on ‘Runaway Train’ could melt any railway track. Approach with giddy trepidation.
As hapless music hacks, we’re often accused of coining genres when our limited word banks fail, so it’s a welcome gift when a group like Fantasma does it for us. Selfproclaimed pushers of Guzu, a restlessly progressive amalgam of African sounds and hip-hop sensibility, it’s a diversity that plays up to the vibrant eclecticism of the collective’s roots. The brainchild of rapper Spoek Mathambo, ‘Free Love’ is a futurist blend of traditional South African styles routed through more familiar forms. Delving into Bacardi house, maskandi rhythms, shangaan electro and hip-hop, the radio-ready ‘My Wave’ sits alongside blipping psych-rock episodes (‘Sophiatown’), and the trusted chorus/rap structure that characterises tracks like ‘Cat & Mouse’, ‘Fire & Smoke’ and ‘Damn’. But buoyed by that township energy and a borderless effervescence, it’s moments like the glorious Dirty Projectors via Jo’burg key change on ‘Higher Power’ and the purple drank drawl of ‘Breaker’ that really make ‘Free Love’ what it is: a bustling party mix that deserves to be explored.
The influence of Built to Spill always radiated through much of Modest Mouse’s work and Krill are a group that strongly carry on that lineage of influence, except they perhaps sound closer to an amalgamation of the two bands rather than a direct continuation of one. Wiry, intense, sharp vocals that can shriek and pierce float above off-kilter guitar lines that weave and meld between pop sensibility and twitching experimentation. Tempos vary greatly, going from slow-brooding jams with flashes and sparks of wild guitar to moments of propulsive explosiveness. There’s an enjoyable drag-you-along-with-it momentum to the record – at times feeling like a slightly grungier Ought – with yelps fitting in between sharp bursts of guitar and drums that hammer skins and cymbals with equal, unrelenting vigour. ‘A Distant Fist…’ speeds furiously towards the end, until the closing ‘It Ends’, which slows things down once more. It never manages to fully shake off the feeling of the ’90s, but it succeeds in bringing to life some of the more fun and immersive guitar music from that decade.
Does David Ivar love to boogie? Liberated from the reserved sound of French trio-turned-duo Herman Dune, and now manning all of the instruments himself as Black Yaya, it certainly sounds like it, especially on debut solo record opener ‘Flying A Rocket’. From the frivolous walking bassline to the fuzzy guitar jabs, those inaugural four minutes herald a joyous new lease of life for its project creator – the sort that Marc Bolan encountered after he put down the acoustic guitar and wheeled in
the Vampower cab. It’s a formula that rears its glitter-spangled head elsewhere too, like on ‘Gimme A Gun’, which struts with carefree exuberance, despite being lyrically preoccupied with (from what I can tell) deeds of heinous revenge. Yet Ivar’s first time striking out alone is an eclectic affair. ‘Vigilante’ is a brooding, spaghetti western soundtrack, and the first time where we truly get the sense of this one man band’s solitary working environment. It’s occasionally
magical, but overshadowed by another lush slow burner, ‘Save Them Little Children’. Here, Black Yaya hits the dizzy heights of the great singer-songwriters, while the album’s centrepiece is his ‘Nights In White Satin’, born out of a hallucinatory state in a hotel room in Norway. It sounds like his former band in Technicolor, blown up and projected on a widescreen. So dreamy in fact, it makes you wish he’d channelled this otherworldly energy the whole way through.
Black Yaya Black Yaya Ci ty Sl an g By james wes t . I n store s march 2
Reviews 0 7/ 1 0
Arthur Dreams and Images
Songhoy Blues Music In Exhile
Bad Guys Bad Guynaecology
L i gh t I n th e at t i c
Tr ans gre s s i ve
Ri o t s e a s o n
S o n i c Ca t h e d r al
By rac h el r edf ern. In sto re s Ma rch 2
B y sam ue l c o rnfo rth. I n s to re s F e b 2 3
By Da ni el D y lan Wra y. I n st o r es M A r c h 1 6
B y Sam wal t o n . In s t o r es f eb r u a r y 2 3
Like pretty much everything released on crate-digging US label Light In The Attic, Arthur Lee Harper’s story is biopic-ready, hopelessly romantic and with a tragic final scene. ‘Dreams and Images’ is Arthur’s came-tonothing album from the late ’60s, produced by and for Lee Hazlewood and his label LHI. The fact that you have no idea who Arthur is should tell you how well it turned out, and its follow up in 1970, which caused Harper to ditch music and become a rocket scientist. In 2002, Harper’s wife tragically died in a car crash – he died the same night, of a heart attack. There’s something beautiful about that even if you’re not currently in love, which sounds as hokey as ‘Dreams and Images’’s references to “brothers and sisters” and “children once were you” might in cynical 2015, but it’s not. Strongly resembling the slower tracks of another LA band of the time, Love, Arthur’s soft-touch orchestrations and even more sensitive voice is so distinctly of its time that it seems to carry extra pathos now. It’s idealistic, unsullied by the modern world, and if unrealistic, at least unquestionably lovely.
Imagine if music was outlawed, sounds dreadful doesn’t it? Well, Songhoy Blues faced this problem when Islamic militants took over Timbuktu and banned music-making. After fleeing and appearing on the Damon Albarn-curated Africa Express album ‘Maison Des Jeunes’ in 2014, they have crafted a powerful and joyous reaction to the illegalisation of music in their native Northern Mali. The appropriately named ‘Music in Exile’ merges traditional Malian blues rock with expertly constructed eclectic guitar sounds. The group buzz of Garba’s nimble playing. His guitar lines encourage the rumbling rhythm and Aliou’s soulful voice to give chase, leading to frenzied climaxes best demonstrated on ‘Nick’ and ‘Al Hassidi Terei’. Just like the Swedish tribal group Goat, Songhoy Blues’ real dexterity is the ability to emit potent and contagious body-shaking grooves that are impossible to ignore. ‘Music in Exile’ is a fascinating sonic insight to the culture of the Songhoy ethnic group. Luckily for us, the Songhoy Blues members didn’t give in and be quiet.
“Recorded in a snake pit, in a quarry, on top of a mountain, in the desert, at night, during a thunderstorm.” London-based, multi-national fourpiece Bad Guys sure know how to spin a yarn, and humour wraps around ‘Bad Guynaecology’’s greasy, rotten core like engine oil. You can taste the sweat that comes oozing off this album; it’s a dive bar, basement brawl of a record, like Pissed Jeans’ ‘Honeys’ with more jokes. Frequently hilarious in lyrical content (the opening – and fucking fantastic – ‘Crime’ is about shoplifting a Tonka Truck from Toys ‘R’ Us), sonically it’s swaggeringly grotty and full of grime and grit, moving from ’70s traditional metal to its primal stoner core, to almost Les Savvy Fav-esque pop-noise. It’s refreshingly lacking in selfawareness and Bad Guys are clearly a band led by nothing more than primal instincts and a desire to rattle your skull with monster riffs and crack your ribs with ridiculous lyrics. The closing ‘No Tomorrow’ is a nonstop twelve-minute psych-rock powerhouse, ending the album riotously, just as it begins.
While pointing out that Spectres wear their influences rather outwardly is no greater an observation than noting the Pope’s penchant for silly hats, what makes the Bristol quartet’s debut album so engaging lies in spotting what they’ve done with what they’ve pilfered. Accordingly, ‘Where Flies Sleep’ is a Dinosaur Jr-style pummelling with Dirty-era Sonic Youth inflections, ‘This Purgatory’ flashes the sinister tonality of BEAK>’s dirgy, driving Krautrock around its surprisingly radio-friendly hook, ‘Lump’ lifts vocals straight from Spiritualized’s ‘ComeTogether’ and the closing epic ‘Sea of Trees’ culminates, almost predictably, in a MBV-style “holocaust” of sustained white noise before reaching a drowsy, drained conclusion. That’s not to say that ‘Dying’ is merely a Spotter’s Guide for nerdy noiseguitar-act devotees though: plenty here revels wonderfully in its own industrial ugliness, full of ferocity and delicate texture that elevates it above simple homage. For the most part, this is impressively doomy, monochrome stuff.
The tracklisting forTobias Jesso Jr’s debut ‘Goon’, littered as it is with unequivocally heart-sore titles like ‘How Could You Babe’, ‘Without You’ and ‘Can We Still Be Friends’, almost literally screams: “I’VE GOT A BROKEN HEART! IT REALLY, REALLY HURTS! I’M IN PAIN, PEOPLE!” Thus Tobias Jesso Jr, a young man who, incidentally, bears a striking physical resemblance to Nick Drake, sets out his stall early on: this is going to be an album with a truly ancient lyrical theme.
For the most part though these songs sound much less doleful than the words they surround (see opener ‘Can’t Stop Thinking About You’ – a pleasingly simple piano-struck melody with a gentle hook – and the mildly T-Rex-ey glam stomp of ‘Crocodile Tears’). Stylistically, Jesso Jr has abandoned any thoughts of breaking new ground and instead plays to his obvious strength: a classic simplicity in songwriting approach. And so this album is largely comprised of mostly
piano-based strolls like ‘Bad Words’ and the distinctly Lennon-esque ‘Just A Dream’. It’s all very straightforward, but despite this (and because of it), ‘Goon’ is an exceptionally pleasant listen. Don’t approach this record with a jaded mindset which rejects its unoriginal theme and unchallenging style – instead, stomp down those weary-minded objections and soak in the genuinely engaging strength of the songwriting and its skilful, less-is-more delivery.
0 7/ 1 0
Tobias Jesso Jnr. Goon Tr u e P an t h er S oun ds By c h ris wat keys. In sto re s ma rch 16
Laura Marling Short Movie Vi r gi n By h en r y wilki n so n. In sto re s ma rch 23
It’s almost impossible to think that Laura Marling is still only 24. A near constant name on BRIT and Mercury award shortlists over the past six years and now on the cusp of releasing her fifth album in only seven, she’s come to be an artist you can rely on; an ever present musical companion offering hushed spiritual counsel. With such a prodigious output though, it’s easy to see why she suffered burnout shortly after 2013’s ‘Once I Was An Eagle’. Used to doing things earlier than most, it was a kind of mid-life crisis a full 15 years ahead of schedule. Luckily though, it didn’t last long and new album ‘Short Movie’ was not shelved forever. With it we see Marling
rediscover her love of music, shed any lingering anxieties and come out the other side with a new found stoicism. Written and recorded while on a lengthy and uneasy sojourn in L.A., Marling has produced a quietly selfassured album while struggling to come to terms with America in all its immensity. Far removed from her rural Hampshire home, she sings of isolation in the sprawling metropolis and explores notions of identity. The aptly named opener ‘Warrior’ is a paean to anonymity within a crowd and the dehumanizing effect it can have. She sings: “I’m just a horse with no name/Somewhere there are some other beasts who think the
same,” defiantly, blocking out the roar of the city – embodied here by a spiralling Faustian whirl of krautrock style reverb – and plucking away as she always has. For all the inner and outer turmoil, though, we see an artist chiselling away at her aesthetic and emerging from the dust with her most bold and resolute effort yet. Much could be made of the songs being written primarily on an electric rather than acoustic guitar, but really the song structures remain the same and the muted roar of the opening track is quickly banished as business resumes largely as usual. What is impressive, though, is the added poeticism and confidence in her vocals.
‘Don’t Let Me Bring You Down’ is delivered cock sure and fauxshambolically like a less grating Courtney Barnett, while ‘Strange’ draws on Allen Ginsberg and the Beats as literary inspiration. ‘Howl at The Moon’ continues the analogy of alienation in a gorgeously introspective electric lullaby, breathy and twinkling as it establishes communion with nature from the heart of the city. It provides the headspace necessary for the resolution reached in the album’s title track too: “It’s a short fucking movie, man,” Marling reminds us. It may be short but, thankfully, she still has a big part to play.
Interestingly, ‘Shedding Skin’ throws Ghostpoet’s oeuvre into relief as indicative of an artist willing to explore new textures whilst maintaining a general aesthetic that’s immediately recognisable. From the opening bars of ‘Off Peak Dreams’ Obaro Ejimiwe handles these contradictions well. The resolution to record live with his touring band marks it as a decisive step away from his preceding two album, 2011’s ‘Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam’,
and its more organic sounding follow up, 2013’s ‘Some Say I So I Say Light’. Ghostpoet’s distinct urban drawl and heavy handed approach to lyrics are as unmercifully bleak as ever, though, as he details the emptiness of a one night stand on the Lucy Rose collaboration ‘Sorry My Love, It’sYou Not Me’ (“It’s just you’re forgettable / I think that’s the issue babe”). Musically, there’s a heavy midnineties influence that calls to mind Radiohead, Tricky, and Portishead. The latter can be perceived most
clearly in the narcotic haze of ‘That Ring Down The Drain Kind Of Feeling’ as Ejimiwe’s speaker encounters his ex with a new lover. There’s never a weak moment and Ghostpoet has excelled in crafting a musical storybook filled with downtrodden and spurned outcasts, but the lyrical cynicism and introspection rarely relents, and with his instrumentals adding nothing strikingly original, ‘Shedding Skin’ can occasionally be quite a sapping listen.
0 7/ 1 0
Ghostpoet Shedding Skin pi a s By t i m h akki . In sto res Ma rch 2
Reviews / Live
King Creosote Union Chapel Angel, London 0 3 / 0 2/ 20 15 wr i ter : C h r i s Watke ys Ph otogr aph er : Daniel Que sada
The Union Chapel is almost perfectly suited to ensconce and enhance King Creosote’s pure folk simplicity and musical complexity; every subtle nuance clear to the ear, each and every musical strand enhanced and amplified.There are seven players on stage with Kenny Anderson tonight, foremost amongst them a string section, which elevates the very good to the truly memorable. Anderson is a relaxed and accomplished performer, given to offhand, self-deprecating banter, a
lot of which is tonight brilliantly funny. By contrast the songs themselves carry an intensity and seriousness that is incredibly moving. His is a voice given to storytelling, and this music – much like the best part of 2014’s ‘From Scotland With Love’ – is folk storytelling in a very traditional sense: tales that illustrate the personal struggles of ordinary people within a wider historical context. Listened to tonight, in these surroundings and in an atmosphere
of this reverence, they carry even more emotional heft, and it’s especially evident in the heartbreaking and cathartic lament of ‘Pauper’s Dough’, where Anderson’s vocals soar amongst stirring and powerful three-part harmonies. ‘Carry On Dancing’ is then sombre and stunning, its vocals floating over a single plaintive cello. What makes tonight feel especially unique is that King Creosote refuses to simply reproduce his vast studio output in
the live environment. Each song a variance from its original that feels alive and spontaneous, even if it is highly polished. Before the set-closer, Anderson encourages the audience to go arm in arm with friend and stranger alike, and he’s clearly done a good job, because almost everybody indulges him. ‘Cheerfully engage’ is not normally something to level at a London audience, and so the gig ends with the pews swaying, under a groundswell of collective joy.
White Fence 100 Club, Oxford St. London
Waxahatchee St. Pancras Church, London 2 6 / 01 / 2 01 5 w r it er : T im H a kki
29 / 0 1/ 20 15
P h o to g r a p h er : D a n ie l Qu es a da
wr i ter : E dgar S m ith
Katie Crutchfield’s musings often light upon Waxahatchee Creek, the Alabaman stretch of water her indieAmericana project is named after. Tonight her voice effortlessly conveys boundlessness, and an emotional reticence in human relationships. There’s a deep and lyrical subjectivity in her songs that’s juxtaposed with the sublimity of the American landscape, perhaps befitting comparisons closer to D.H. Lawrence than Kurt Cobain. It’s these rural leanings that she plugs, armed with only an electric guitar and a piano. Delving into her 2012 debut ‘American Weekend’, she resurrects ‘Catfish’ and ‘Bathtub’ while teasing upcoming LP ‘IvyTripp’ with piano ballad ‘Half Moon’. When her sister Allison emerges, their harmonies transport this small church to the Crutchfields’ porch overlooking the Creek.
Tim Presley, the 8-track, plectrums and oblique agenda behind White Fence, is another maker of fraggle-y LA/SF psych-punk so consistently inquisitive and prolific that he’s grown into an unassuming giant of garage; crowned ‘prince of fanzines and merch stands’. Touring his most audible record yet, two small details signal the studio butterfly apparently shedding its lo-fi cocoon: a shirt as spangly as single ‘Like That’, and a transatlantic folk-rock hook-up that sees Cate Le Bon clawing elegant jangles from beneath her fringe, stage left. The band sacrifice the glowing tape bypoduct and abrupt left turns of ‘For The Recently Found Innocent’ for a feverish spontaneity, nailing ‘Fear’ and ‘Sandra,’ and reprising songs from 2013’s ‘Cyclops Reap’ with big ol’ ten-minute freak outs erupting out of their middles.
Ex Hex Oslo, Hackney, London
Alvvays The Scala, King’s Cross, London
10 / 0 2/ 20 15
28/01 / 2 0 1 5
wr i ter : sam walton
wri te r: S amue l Ba ll ard P ho to gra p he r: Ro y J . Bar on
Touts outside Oslo crowing to passers-by about their fistful of “tickets for the xx, buy or sell” couldn’t be more wrong about tonight’s attraction: this is no moody soul-bearing show for sensitive bedroom types, but a joyous, raucous hurtle through the kind of music that’s always playing in house-party scenes of John Hughes films – rattling, brassy, overdriven powerpunk to play beer pong to or wind up your daggy parents. And what fun it is: Ex Hex’s flawlessly lean formula of chugging rhythm section, earworm melodies and ‘My Sharona’ guitar solos might be a simple one, but when delivered by the one-two punch of Mary Timony, perfecting the punchdrunk-stagger stage walk, and Betsy Wright, with classic rock poses and a sleeveless leather jacket, it’s a hard heart that would fail to be won over.
Having captured young hearts and the nation’s airwaves with their catchy hit ‘Archie, Marry Me’, and their subsequent 2014 debut LP, Toronto-born five-piece Alvvays were never going to struggle through an evening with a packed-out Scala. “Is it me or does this place look like the inside of a boat?” innocently asks Molly Rankin, the group’s leader, before triumphantly navigating the band through the sometimes-stormy waters of a London crowd. ‘Adult Diversion’, ‘Party Police’ and ‘Next of Kin’ proved popular renditions of perfect, saccharine-laced pop, written while a depressed Rankin was waiting tables in Canada. “I was feeling pretty down about life and how it had turned out up to that point,” she explains, before setting the crowd alight with the band’s most famous song. Clearly, it was a different time.
Jason Williamson had a point when, in an interview we ran with Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods last year, he said that mods aren’t what they used to be. A red, white and blue Fred Perry from Debenhams makes you a mod these days, but to Williamson it remains “something different, something street, something gnarly.” Mods have lost their danger, while Sleaford Mods process enough for everyone, and it seems like they’re going to have to share it out tonight. The Miles Cane fans have got the messages and stayed away, but now that the rooms have gotten as big as this, for every cab driver frowning at the stage in agreement withWilliamson’s genuine distain, there’s an estate agent tittering at every curse word – so all the bloody time, then. That’s not the band’s fault, and for Williamson’s part he stays true to his cause, stoic in even his most witty of observations, while his right hand swats at his ear the whole time, keeping him focused. With the audience as big and flat as this, though, you have to wonder if Sleaford Mods can get any bigger without half their crowd thinking it’s just a bit of fun.
Sleaford Mods Electric Ballroom, London 3 0 / 0 1/ 20 15 wr iter : Rach el R edfe rn Ph otogr aph er : Dani e l Q ue sada
Viet Cong The Deaf Institute Manchester
Richard Dawson Audacious Art Space Sheffield
Natalie Prass The Lexington, Angel London
Naomi Punk The Albert Brighton
0 5/ 0 2/ 20 15
10/0 2 / 2 0 1 5
2 7/ 0 1 / 2 0 1 5
02 / 02 / 2 01 5
wr iter : joe gogg ins
writ e r: dan ie l D yl a n W ra y
wr it e r: Sam Wal t o n
w r iter : Nat h a n W es tley
Back in the days before the encore was pre-planned, the songs set in stone before the show began, it was in the interests of those opposed to the concept to leave nothing in the tank by the end of the set. Tonight, Canadian’s Viet Cong play for roughly an hour and leave because they have no more songs to play, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There was no possible way they could have topped the gargantuan rendition of ‘Death’ that closes the show – a vicious exercise in tight, simmering post-punk and some enormous, krautrock riffery (one of just 7 track’s that make up their only record). As on the recently released ‘Viet Cong’, it’s a monumental way to finish things, but the rest of their brilliant debut is relayed smartly tonight, too. Behind the thick cloak of guitars and distortion, there’s no shortage of sonic variety.
Of all the artists to have quietly broken through during the final moments of 2014, the avant-garde folk musician from Newcastle, Richard Dawson, was by far the nicest surprise and perhaps the most musically revelatory. This show is bumped up from a DIY space to accommodate his ever-swelling appreciation, for which he seems incredibly humbled by tonight. Dawson is an affable and funny character, bumbling around on stage telling terrible-but-endearing Dad jokes before launching into bellowing, vocal-only folk tales based on local history from the 1700’s.The forceful and gut-thumping juggernaut that is ‘The Vile Stuff’ borders on the incendiary and Dawson looks as though he may explode as his vocals tear and his guitar shrieks. A performance as unique as it is remarkable.
Tonight is Natalie Prass’ first ever London show, and only the second with her current band – not that you’d know it from the composure and easy charm with which the quartet rattle through the highlights of Prass’ effortlessly soulful debut. The only giveaway of any nerves is Prass herself, filling the inter-song gaps alternately with effusive thanks for the support and bafflement at the pin-drop obedience of a midweek London room, although even that diffidence carries a goofy charisma that helps bridge the gap between her clear delight at playing for such a receptive crowd and the discomforting memories stirred up by singing her break-up album of songs. Then again, this isn’t a night for histrionics – Prass’s band are too classily competent for that, and Prass is an engagingly understated presence.
There can be no denying that Washington has played a major part in shaping today’s DIY rock scene and on their maiden expedition to Europe there are plenty of signs that Naomi Punk have warmly embraced the independently-minded spirit of the musical forefathers of their home State. The trio may have chartered themselves a set that sails through a rolling sea of discordance in this intimate live room, but shallowly buried beneath this avant-garde top layer is a dense sea of hooks and melodies. With tracks such as the rhythmically stop/start ‘Burned Body’ and the post-punk-touched ‘Voodoo Trust’, Naomi Punk strive to offer something distinctively new rather than present a series of recycled ideas. Frontman Travis Coster declares that he’s grateful for being here; everyone else knows that Naomi Punk are just getting going.
Cinema 10/ 10
And the Oscar goes to... Whiplash
by Tom Fenwick
director : D amien C ha z elle S tarring : Miles T eller , J . K . Simmons , M elissa Benoist
With the Academy Awards imminent, Tom Fenwick runs through the big 10 categories and his tips on who will be triumphant on February 22, versus who should be.
Best Picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes Anderson’s finest film, it skilfully balances the needs of a huge ensemble cast with a story that overflows with humour and pathos. It’s the culmination of Anderson’s 20 year career in idiosyncratic world building, visual wonder and quirky storytelling. . What will win: Boyhood
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) Iñárritu’s career is full of highly regarded but unrelentingly bleak films. Birdman is the exception – a perfectly pitched black comedy, whose central conceit/crowning achievement is to appear as though it’s shot in a single take, Iñárritu deftly switching between the ensemble cast, a story-within-astory narrative and the central character’s psychosis with astonishing flair. Who will in: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Best Actor: Michael Keaton (Birdman) It wasn’t long ago that Keaton was in the middle of a 15-year fire sale on his career but in Birdman he pulls off a nuanced character study that is sad, touching and hilarious, occasionally all at once. A broken man in the midst of an escalating breakdown. Who will win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon (Wild) I had my doubts about Wild. On paper its narrative smacks of a mawkish Lifetime movie, but the end result is a compelling tale of resilience and redemption. And at the centre of that story is Witherspoon, who despite an absence from the mainstream, imbues all of her performances with a magnetic and relatable charm. Who will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons (Whiplash) JK Simmons’ performance in Whiplash will divide audiences. Some will think he’s pure evil; a nightmare made flesh who drives his pupils to the edge of sanity. Some will see him as an obsessive perfectionist who pushes at the boundaries of psychological endurance for the sake of art. The truth is he’s both. Who will win: JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Best Supporting Actress: Emma Stone (Birdman) Stone sheds her skin to play Riggan Thomas’ ex-addict daughter. It’s a performance that could have easily be overblown, but she manages to elicit a unique, broken tenderness. Even more surprising, is that Stone filmed her parts for the movie inbetween breaks on the set of The Amazing Spiderman 2, so at least we can now say something good came out of her time in New York. Who will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Best Original Screenplay: Nightcrawler The exclusion of Jake Gylenhall’s performance in Nightcrawler from
the Best Actor category is one of the year’s biggest snubs. So it’d be nice to see Dan Gilroy’s script walk away with a consolation prize. Gilroy draws us into a twilight world of sleazy ambulance chasers. Nightcrawler gives sharp, smart, funny and horrifying – yet utterly non-judgemental – insight into what monsters lurk behind the smile of a desperate man. What Will Win: Nightcrawler
Best Adapted Screenplay: Inherent Vice It’s been said that Thomas Pynchon can’t be translated to the screen, so the fact that Inherent Vice exists at all is an achievement. It’s a polarising film, but it holds an undeniable touch of PT Anderson magic; retaining the spirit of the source material, but being just accessible enough for it to not be one big inside joke. What will win: The Theory Of Everything
Best Documentary: Citizenfour A fascinating, frontline documentary about the most important whistleblower of this – and possibly any – century, the access to Edward Snowden is astonishing and the shocking revelations that he uncovers somehow even more sickening when they’re presented onscreen. What will win: Citizenfour
Best Original Song: Everything Is Awesome (The Lego Movie) In a dastardly twist, The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Film. So if this acid coloured rainbow of a Tegan & Sarah track doesn’t win we can only assume the Danes will impose a trade embargo on future Lego sets shipping to the USA. What will win: Glory (Selma)
Whiplash is the best film you’ll see in 2015. Now, I’m aware how that might sound; bestowing such a lofty title on any movie this early in the year seems like the worst kind of jumpthe-gun stupidity. But director Damien Chazelle – in only his second feature – has crafted something truly special. An astounding, visceral thriller that is by turns gripping, powerful, life-affirming and – most surprisingly of all – about jazz drumming… no, wait… come back. The plot is startlingly slight. It follows the story of Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), a preternaturally skilled music student with the ego to match, who wants to win a place on the finest band in his college. But in order to do that he needs to gain the approval of the group’s hard-nosed conductor, Terrance Fletcher (JK Simmons), who works to an impossibly high standard. And that’s about it. If that sounds a little dry on paper, then it’s brought to life in the most thrilling fashion imaginable. Chazelle wisely ratchets up the tension in increments through taught solos, bloodied drumsticks and the towering elation/disappointment that comes with the pursuit of perfectionism. It helps that he has two astounding leads, who push boundaries in the name of artistic endeavor, Teller’s star making turn butting up against Simmons career best performance. The latter gives a flawless portrayal of sociopathic obsession, sure to be played to acting students through the ages; mouths agape in awe as he repeatedly intones “Not my tempo!” Whiplash is a nightmare, that drags the characters through the relatable hell of human fallibility. At time’s it’s uncomfortable, at times it’s elating, but above all it’s tremendous. And it will leave you with a feeling few films provide; that you are truly alive.
FOR PAST ISSUES & MORe Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 60 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 63 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 56 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Charles Bradley How is this man still smiling?
From Leeds to Letterman
+ Martin Creed Planningtorock Wild Beasts Simon Raymonde Liars Angel Haze
Plus Erol Alkan & Daniel Avery The War On Drugs sylvan Esso Molly Nilsson Mark E. smith Jonathan Poneman Rustie
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 64 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 57 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
EMA Daniel Miller Slint School of Language 65Daysofstatic Lizzo Lorelle Meets The Obsolete
It must be love
A z e A l i A
b A n k s
+ Slowdive La Sera Trash Talk Luke Abbott Olga Bell Matt Berry
John Grant in Iceland
Run The Jewels Arthur Russell Virginia Wing Ariel Pink Weyes Blood Alan McGee
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 61 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
DFA 1979 Don’t Call It A Comeback
Girl Unafraid + Viet Cong Ought Ghost Culture Silver Apples PCPC Paul Smith & Peter Brewis Albums of the Year
Plus: Vashti Bunyan — Banks — Chris Lombardi — Protomartyr Shura — Sleaford Mods — Peaking Lights
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 62 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 58 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 59 / the alternatIVe musIc tabloId
Karen O They Don’t Love You Like I Love You
+ Tom Vek Sharon Van Etten Jeanette Lee The Space Lady Little Dragon Resident Advisor Quilt
Edwyn Collins Iceage Suicideyear Kindness Cooly G Peter Thompson
Party wolf thought sport Inside the minds of tennis fans
Part y Wolf Best Bites 2005 - 2015
Yes, these really were the highlights
Get the look Waasssaaaaaauppp! A friend once told me that denim doesn’t catch fire and ever since then I’ve worn nothing but the stuff when rocking out in the kitchen! Safe and stylish, you can get it in all sorts of colours (light blue, dark blue) and it never goes out of fashion. When Tony Blackburn first saw me in this jean waistcoat, for example, he said, “Blimey, you look like you’re in Skins!” We fell about. I mean, can you imagine it!? Me in Skins!!!?? They could never afford me. You’ve no doubt noticed that the denim shirt under the denim waistcoat is tucked into some denim jeans, which, again, looks good, sure, but it’s also another safety measure – you don’t want loose clothes dangling in your carbonara. But c’mon, enough of this foreplay! You know my ultimate accessory can’t be picked up off of a rack. That’s not how is works with tans. Mine is, believe it or not, completely natural, but if you can’t afford a villa in Portugal, get to a sunbed. Summer is coming and no one wants to pull a raw sausage. You don’t want to be on the shelf at 83 do you? Naaahh, it’s alright really... True!
1. Well, this was a mistake. 2. Chloe has such fat arms. Bless. 3. Millie’s so brave wearing a patterned maxi at her size. 4. Do I still love this man? 5. Blending in nicely, John. Happy face.
Famous people are just like you! Les
45, looking for the top answer Area: Children: Diet: Employment:
FYI, Thorpe Park was brilliant! Didn’t need anyone to come with me in the end, so there! about 1 hours ago from device
Whatever, I didn’t like that one anyway. And I’ve got loads more. And I’ve got cars. And I did sex... loads... with girls! about 6 hours ago from device
Just queuing for Loggers Leap. Deciding whether to take off my trilby or not about 6 hours ago from device
The height restrictions here are a joke!
London Yeah Memories Quiz host
Bruno has this to say about Les: We asked a hundred people to name one thing they’d like to do to Les, given half the chance, and they said... well, it doesn’t matter what they said – some people were definitely just trying to be shocking. I know what they meant though, ladies – they meant they’d like to cosy up with him in front of the telly with a bottle of vodka and a pipe of Pringles to watch Challenge TV on weeknights between 7.30 and 8.30pm. And they’d be in luck, because that is exactly what Les loves to do... every week! Les responded by saying: No, it’s 7.00 til 8.00pm now. They’ve moved it forward by half an hour. Blame Catchphrase.
about 8 hours ago from device
Bonza! Just got in Thorpe Park as a child
Photo casebook “The inappropriate world of Ian Beale”
Games!!! Do you two like games?
Girls? You still there?
photo casebook “Ex Factor: Pt 1”
Spot the difference
The thing is, I do really like you, PW. But I do think you could benefit from a singing partner
One of these two Ricky Wilson pictures has been altered, but can you spot the difference?
Hmmmm, Okaaay. I hear what you’re saying, Tweedy. I’ve got a mate who’d be perfect actually
We were going live to the nation in 30 seconds and Bruno Brookes couldn’t find the head to the costume. The studio was a scene of total chaos and Tony [Blackburn] was in a right panic about a custard pie stunt we’d rehearsed but just the one time. 20 seconds: Bruno is still headless and sweating like a sausage in the sun. Tony is crying. 15: “I’ll go on without it!” Bruno shouts at the costume department who by this time are sticking ping-pong balls to a pink pillowcase as a back up. 10... 9... 8: “There!” I yell. “It’s there, next to the gung tank!” 7:Tony is sick. 6: Bruno grabs the head and runs up the stairs of the set, which was in fact modeled on Dave Lee Travis’ summerhouse. 5... 4... 3: I pull on a particularly loud looking jumper and toss Tony a hanky. 2: Tony is sick again. 1: We’re on! Behind the scenes, House Party was nearly always this exciting, and yet we always found the Mr Blobby head; Tony always got hit by the custard pie at the right time. And then it was over, just like that. I mean, I knew I’d be alright, I’d been working on an idea called Touch My Box, and you know how well that turned out...
I think it is, aye Fuck me! Is that Rod Stewart?
Answer: The second hat is green
to be continued...
Idiot tennis Game. Set. Twat.
A real tom tit
A Rodney sized plonker
For too long now you’ve been out of the frame. But just because the dizzy heights of yesteryear have passed it doesn’t mean that you’ve been left out in the cold completely. This month, as the moon ends its cycle-athon, you’re due to discover a new sense of hope. An old hairy friend will rear they’re head once more to let you know you’re not alone, and the letter ‘W’ is important. I don’t wanna give too much away but it’s basically Wolf from Gladiators. He’s behind you. Awwooogaaarr!
“Get the facking shooters, dopy bollocks!”
“Anything in a convincing American accent”
TO SAY IDIOT
Check out Statham’s IMDB page
Nice one bruvva!
GAME, SET & MATCH
This is how killers start
“Any old iron”
“Anything that’s convincing Dyer did once tell a NUTS reader to “cut his ex’s face”
10 Years of Loud And Quiet / Matthew E. White / Tobias Jesso Jr. / Young Guv / The Go-Betweens / Cat's Eyes / Sound Savers
Published on Feb 20, 2015
10 Years of Loud And Quiet / Matthew E. White / Tobias Jesso Jr. / Young Guv / The Go-Betweens / Cat's Eyes / Sound Savers