FREE | ISSUE 21
At The Top Of Their Game
YOU BLEW IT!
78 ALBUM REVIEWS
Expansive & Strictly Effective
RUN THE JEWELS | CLOUD NOTHINGS | NIN | IRON REAGAN | THE FLAMING LIPS | MENACE BEACH | FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES | OCEAN GROVE | AFI | UNIFORM
At Their Best & Still Innovating
SUPERJOINT Back In The Groove
S L L E B H G I E SL A NOISE POP AFFAIR
Empowering & Confrontational
PETROL GIRLS Songs With A Mission MANNEQUIN PUSSY Challenging & Liberating
DARKTHRONE HELMS ALEE FE VANISHING LI RI A IK SH R TE EN TH U O M ER GUTT NEWMOON TAXIWARS ES THE REGRETT R A 2016 THE YE IN REVIEW ... & MUCH MORE
Still Downright Essential
PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS
Enthralling, Harrowing & Epic
Loud, Fast & Urgent 1
music&riots magazine musicandriots.com
FREE | ISSUE 21
EDITOR IN CHIEF
Fausto Casais (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andreia Alves (email@example.com) Tiago Moreira (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ART EDITOR // DESIGNER Fausto Casais
Nuno Babo, Nuno Teixeira, Ricardo Almeida, Sergio Kilmore, Dave Bowes, April Fox, Teddie Taylor, Euan Andrews, Luis Alves, Mark Sutton, Joe Doyle, Miljan Milekić, Steven Loftin, Andi Chamberlain, Justin Kuntz, Eliza Britney, Mark McConville, Anastasia Psarra
80 // SLEIGH BELLS - We caught up with Alexis Krauss that talked us through Jessica Rabbit’s writing process and so much more... NEW NOISE ROUND UP
08 // BIG PICTURE 12 // UPCOMING RELEASES 12 // KING WOMAN 18 // XIU XIU 22 // WHILE SHE SLEEPS 26 // PISSED JEANS 30 // SPLASH YOUR CASH
14 // GUTTERMOUTH 28 // ENTER SHIKARI
16 // HELMS ALEE 20 // MANNEQUIN PUSSY
HOT NEW BAND
10 // NEWMOON 24 // VANISHING LIFE
2016 - THE YEAR IN REVIEW 32 // TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2016 36 // BEST MOVIES & TV OF 2016
40 // CREEPER 42 // THELMA 43 // VERY FRESH 44 // THE REGRETTES + Q&A 46 // BRUISING 47 // DREAM WIFE 48 // I’M GLAD IT’S YOU + Q&A 50 // CHARLY BLISS
Andreia Alves, Ricardo Almeida, Mark Sutton, Teddie Taylor
52 // SUPERJOINT 56 // SLOWCOACHES 60 // SUPER UNISON 66 // YOU BLEW IT! 70 // IN FLAMES 76 // PETROL GIRLS 88 // PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS 92 // TAXIWARS 96 // KORN 100 // DARKTHRONE
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musicandriots.com All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without our permission. The views expressed in MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff.
106 // ALBUMS 128 // LIVE REPORTS 138 // CINEMA & TV
WORDS FROM THE EDITOR 2016 was a strange and turbulent year, from Brexit to the US elections, from the shameful situation in Syria to the overwhelming migrant crisis. During the year, we lost legends who will be greatly missed and certainly not forgotten. Carrie Fisher, Alan Vega, Fidel Castro, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Mohammed Ali, Alan Rickman, Prince, Sharon Jones, Gene Wilder, Debbie Reynolds, Johan Cruyff, Alphonse Mouzon just to name a few… We’re starting our year with another new issue, that we’re quite pleased with. Having Sleigh Bells in our cover story, awesome features with Darkthrone, Superjoint, Planes Mistaken For Stars, Korn, You Blew It!, Mannequin Pussy, Super Unison, Run The Jewels and much more makes us damn proud. So, we’re going to put 2016 behind us and enter 2017 in the best way possible, with high hopes that 2017 will be a challenging year that will bring a change for the best. Happy new year to you all! Your Editor, Fausto Casais
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Southport Music Hall New Orleans Picture by Teddie Taylor
HOT NEW HOT BAND NEW BAND
FRESH, LUSH & DREAMY
Belgian dream pop five-piece Newmoon are a fucking gem. Their debut album Space was one of the most magical records of 2016 and we couldn’t miss the chance to talk with frontman Bert Cannaerts to know a little more about it. Words: Tiago Moreira// Photo: Cecilia Alejandra
here’s no secret that your band’s name was taken from Elliot Smith’s posthumous compilation album. Is there a deeper connection between you and this specific album? Elliott Smith is one of those artists that never released a bad song. We’re all really big fans of his. I always thought New Moon was such a hopeful, yet cynical name for an album that got released posthumously and it just stuck with me. When we started the band it felt like a good fit. Everyone really likes Elliott Smith, and the idea of a new moon as something sad yet new and adventurous kind of fit the whole vibe. You guys have played in other bands before forming Newmoon. Does
Space, your debut LP, feel like, in a weird way, your proper debut as creative minds? I’ve thought about this a lot and I think that’s a pretty accurate description of where we are. Newmoon definitely forced us to take a step outside of our comfort zone. We are all really familiar with playing heavy music, so everything was, and still is, very new to us. At the same time this gives us so much more room to be creative and experiment with different things. The process of writing this album was new, which was scary yet liberating at the same time. It gave us so much room to be creative, but at the same time we were constantly walking into this unknown territory without really knowing if what we were doing was actually good or not. So far the response to Space has been
above and beyond, which is something we’re really grateful for. You went through a metamorphosis that started with a more straightforward hardcore punk sound to a now more complex, layered, sonically rich sound. How was that process? How do the both sides connect for you? Playing hardcore and punk was a very cathartic thing for me. The cliché of needing it to express yourself and “let it all out” was definitely true. I loved every minute of it, and still really like listening to heavy music. But when I got into my early 20’s I started paying attention to a lot of other kinds of music, maybe a bit out of boredom? I remember going on tours and not listening to a single hardcore or punk record in the van. So when we started
you had to grow as a band, mature, and figure out the next steps way faster than you would have imagined or even envisioned? When we were writing our EP we definitely laughed at the idea of touring, playing loads of shows and even just finding an audience. As soon as the EP was released it became clear that a lot of people were interested in this band. It’s so crazy to think that we played to a sold out Electric Ballroom in London for our 6th show. Or going on tour with Touché Amoré. We did not think that would happen when we started Newmoon. Between all those tours and the recording of Space we had so much going on. At times it felt like we couldn’t keep up with everything that was going on. The past year we really took the time to write and record Space at our own pace. And now that it’s out we feel like we’ve finally caught up to everything that has been happening for the past few years. We are very ready to get back into the swing of things.
Newmoon we just started to take things from all these bands that we love like Radiohead, The Cure and Oasis, and pretty soon we started to sound like Newmoon. I think the most important connection between punk and what Newmoon does is honesty. Every song needs to be an honest reflection of what we feel, think and sound like. There always has to be an honest connection between the music and who we are as people. Things moved pretty fast after you shared your early demo online – signing with Touché Amoré’s label Secret Voice/Deathwish Inc to release your debut EP, Invitation To Hold, and now two years and a half later the release of your debut full-length. Is it fair to assume that
As the press release states, “the themes for Space were partly conceived whilst travelling in Japan”. Could you please enlighten us on the importance of that visit to Japan and in which specific ways did it affect the album? Japan was probably the first country that left me really disoriented. The culture and language were so incredibly different from everything I knew. It really gave me this feeling of isolation. I started working on some of the lyrical content for Space on that trip. The isolation, not being able to understand other people, and having to just let go of control and see what happens are themes we explore on Space. It seemed like a good metaphor to try and look at things I have experienced in the past. Bert’s vocals, in tracks like “Head of Stone” and for the most part of the album, are extremely well mixed with the other instruments almost like attempting to not stand out in any way to give a better chance to the song come off extremely unified – something like an instrumental band with vocals, if you know what I mean. Was that a concern throughout the creative and recording process of Space? Throughout the process of recording the album we really wanted the vocals to be something that would accentuate the songs, rather than be this thing that needs to be up front at the attention of the listener. We consciously decided to mix the vocals into the music so they can be discovered and reveal something
deeper than just a vocal melody. It forces the listener to pay attention to the songs. There will be things they won’t pick up on in their first listen, but maybe only after 5, 10 or even 50 listens. My favorite kind of albums are the ones where I’ll listen to it over and over again and hear tiny details that I didn’t really hear before. Adding multiple layers to the songs was definitely a conscious decision. The music that you’re currently playing lends itself to some melodramatic reads from the audience, just because how massively profound the music sounds. On the other hand, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Is that an important countermeasure to have for Newmoon? Some of the lyrical content on Space is very dark and cynical. As I said before, we try to be as honest and ‘real’ as possible in our music. We also take this band very seriously. We’re always striving to play shows the best we can, write the best songs, etc. Everything has to feel absolutely right for us to back it. At the same time we’re also just five guys who are playing music. We don’t want to be these broody and unreachable artist types. That’s just not who we are. We love to play with people’s expectations of what Newmoon should or should not be. Being sarcastic and cynical at times is one of our favorite ways of trying to break down that illusion. You’ve released, so far, two videos for songs taken from Space – “Helium” and “Head of Stone”. I was wondering how much creative control you’ve had over these two? We always try to work with people who we trust and support in their artistic field. For both of these videos, we chose people who we knew we could trust. “Head Of Stone” was directed by one of our closest friends Hannes M Meier. He’s a photographer from Berlin and we knew that whatever he had in mind would look stunning. We gave him some info and just told him to do whatever he wanted with it. I still really like the way it turned out. “Helium” was the same way, but we had some more input for this video. At the end of the day, when we work with other people we pretty much rely on their expertise and knowledge. We consider everyone we work with an artist in their own field, and we won’t take that away from them.
SPACE IS OUT NOW ON PIAS/MAYFLY RECORDS
UPCOMING RELEASES 13.01 THE FLAMIMG LIPS Oczy Mlody CODE ORANGE Forever THE DRIP The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability SEPULTURA Machine Messiah THE xx I See You YOU ME AT SIX Night People BLACK ANVIL As Was 20.01 AFI AFI (The Blood Album) AUSTRA Future Politics JOAN OF ARC He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your... FOXYGEN Hang 27.01 CLOUD NOTHINGS Life Without Sound PRIESTS Nothing Feels Natural JAPANDROIDS Near To The Wild Heart Of Life FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES Modern Ruin SLEATER-KINNEY Live In Paris 03.02 IRON REAGAN Crossover Ministry OCEAN GROVE The Rhapsody Tapes THE MENZINGERS After Party 14.02 MARILYN MANSON Say10 17.02 RYAN ADAMS Prisioner NIKKI LANE Highway Queen
Dutch “post-everything” sextet,
GOLD, have today confirmed details
24.02 CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH The Tourist XIU XIU Forget LOS CAMPESINOS! Sick Scenes PISSED JEANS Why Love Now KING WOMAN Created In The Image Of Suffering HARK Machinations UNEARTHLY TRANCE Stalking The Ghost
of their third full length album entitled Optimist. The LP will be released on February 24, 2017 via Ván Records. Thomas Sciarone comments: “Our activism and socio-criticism is strongly rooted in self-reflection and improving our selves. We do not only intend to break down walls and bridge gaps between scenes and genres, but also – more importantly – between people. And if it’s necessary to call out those who want to stand between us, we artistically will. It’s no coincidence that the last shot of the last video we took
KING WOMAN DEBUT ALBUM ARRIVES IN FEBRUARY
ormed in 2009 by Kristina Esfandiari, the Bay Area’s King Woman began as a solo project then later developed into a full band. Over the course of the last seven years, King Woman have crafted a sound thoroughly their own – a sound that harnesses the elastic textures and temporality of drone and metallic shoegaze alongside the transcendental, melancholic power of doom. Their forthcoming full-length Created in the Image of Suffering (due out February 24th via Relapse Records), picks “where their debut EP, Doubt (2014, Flenser), left off while expanding on their sonic palette with a profoundly crafted opus of dirgey, ethereal doom-rock.” Created in the Image of Suffering was recorded with engineer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Wreck & Reference, Oathbreaker) at the Atomic Garden in Palo Alto, CA. “Each song evokes rich, gloomy imagery with crumbling washes of blurred, billowing distortion densely layered atop hazy, psychedelic atmospheres that call to mind a surrealistic Black Sabbath fronted by Mazzy Star. Complete with deeply personal, introspective lyrics that serve as a catharsis for years of religious and mental torment, King Woman truly suffer to create their art.” The band will tour throughout 2017 in support of Created in the Image of Suffering, being already confirmed King Woman’s performance in this year’s edition of Roadburn.
from No Image shows an awkwardly confident Donald Trump.” Blood Command makes their return with Cult Drugs, the follow-up to their excellent sophomore album Funeral Beach, and will be released via Fysisk Format on April 27th. Blood Command’s reappearance “shows a band that has never sounded as good as now. Singer Karina Ljone is angrier and more accurate than ever, the ninja-riffing is smoother and drummer Sigurd Haakaas sets new standards in action-drumming. It all comes with a relentless sting of murderous hooks. If this sounds strange, that’s because you have not
CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF SUFFERING ARRIVES ON FEBRUARY 24TH VIA RELAPSE
heard the album yet!” Beachheads will release their debut on Fysisk Format on February 3rd. The album was recorded in Beachheads’ hometown Stavanger and mixed by Øystein Frantzvåg in Oslo studio Nabolaget. Formed in 2013 on Norway’s west coast by members from Kvelertak and friends, Beachheads play power pop with a touch of Scandinavian social realism. The band’s main influences are the “punk and power pop bands of the 80’s and early 90’s”. Boss Hog are fucking back! Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer return with their first new album in 17
years, entitled Brood X and emerging from the dirty streets of New York City after 17 years gestation — “is a futuristic brew of 21st Century blues, toxic punk rock beat music, and hyper-focused, outer-space psycho assaults”. Brood X arrives on March 24 via In The Red Records. Sleater-Kinney have announced Live in Paris, a new live album recorded at historic venue La Cigale on March 20, 2015. It will be released on January 27th via Sub Pop. Live in Paris marks Sleater-Kinney’s first live album. Their last studio album was 2015’s No Cities to Love.
LISTENING POST KING WOMAN Created In The Image Of Suffering Relapse Available on February 24
RUN THE JEWELS RTJ3 Run The Jewels Inc. Out Now
IRON REAGAN Crossover Ministry Relapse Records Available on February 2
BOSS HOG Brood X In The Red Records Available on March 24
AFI AFI (The Blood Album) Universal Available on January 20
CLOUD NOTHINGS Life Without Sound Wichita Available on January 27
UNIFORM Waked In Fright Sacred Bones Available on January 20
FRANK CARTER & RATTLESNAKES Modern Ruin International Deathkult/Kobalt Available on January 20
OCEAN GROVE The Rhapsody Tapes UNFD Available on February 2
DECADE Pleasantries Rude Records Available on February 24
PUNK ROCK AS IT’S MEA
Controversial for doing whatever they want, but respected Guttermouth have always been like that since their beginn they returned with new music in 10 years and we couldn’t legendary frontman Mark Adkins about all sorts of things Words: Andreia Alves
t’s been 10 years since you released yor last effort, 2006’s album Shave the Planet, and this year you released a new EP Got It Made and now you’re about to release a new one titled New Car Smell. Why so long to release new material? Part of it was the changes in the record industry with everything going digital and the collapse of the record stores, you know, everything that happened. It just didn’t was the time to releasing records, it just didn’t seem appropriate at all because there wasn’t a market especially in the Unite States, it’s gone. I don’t even know where to buy a compact disc anymore in the US, unless it’s ordered online. You can’t find them. [laughs] Then after having 10 years of thoughts in your mind and experiences that you had, it was like they needed to come out at a certain point. Bird Attack Records and Rude Records approached us to do something and I had some songs in my head, it just happened like that. People just push me a little bit to exercise my brain and use it of just packing up all these memories inside. What was it like getting back into writing and releasing new music? It hasn’t changed, even though the technology has changed digitally, but it’s easy and didn’t changed a bit because I’m still the same person I was way back then when we were writing the previous records. The adult silent syndrome that we all have as band members and it never goes away. [laughs] It was easy. [laughs] You’ve gone through some lineup changes since your last album.
ANT TO BE
d for being true to what they are, nings as a band. Early this year miss the opportunity to talk to the s, with no bullshit attached.
How much did that affect the band’s writing and recording process? Overall, you have someone that didn’t fit, because you have to mash with all personalities after mash and that kind of mashes with me [laughs] which is pretty easy to do because I’m a super easy going character. I’ll tell you that it hasn’t been negative and most of the guys that I’m with now, I have been working with them for five years. Throughout all these years on Guttermouth and having released nine studio album, what experiences were more important for the band’s core during these years? I’ve never looked at it like anyone is supposed to read in anything and get something out of it or I just do it because it’s fun and I’m not trying to make a difference by writing records and songs, I do it because I like to do it. I know a lot of people say “Oh, you’re in the band and you’re supposed to have a voice and use it and change the world” but I say it’s a
complete bullshit because the hippies bands in the 60s didn’t stop the Vietnam War and I’m definitely not going to change the course of American elections by singing some stupid song and put it on a t-shirt. It’s not gonna happen and it’s just not realistic to think that way. For me, it’s just fun and it’s something that I do. It’s something that’s in my blood which is to write songs that make me giggle a little bit, but all stand from something that has happened, that’s the thing. Every song has a little something there that has happened in my life and so the reviewer reviews my record and says “Oh, he’s misogyny pig this or that.” They don’t have the smarts to say “Well, where was he coming from that song?” or contact me and ask me and do a question like that, so I don’t get enough reviews. [laughs] What did inspire you while writing New Car Smell EP? I’ve never been married or had kids or anything like that and that sounds too dreadful to me so I had no relationships that crumble and that’s what New Car Smell is about. You have this pretty great girlfriend and you think she’s the best thing on Earth, but you know what? It loses its luster over a little bit of time, it doesn’t keep going... As they say, when you buy a new car, that new car smell wears off pretty fast. [laughs] People don’t ask questions like that and I’m glad you did. [laughs] There’s something different in every song, they’re an experience. Any plans of releasing a full-length in the near future? The full-length will come out sometime early next year, like February or March. It’s been non-stop. [laughs] It’s crazy. We’re back 100%. We’re gearing up for proper tours with proper people. We’ve already started a tour in the States and parts of Canada, and then the rest of the world. We haven’t put a record out in 10 years, usually you’re not going to get response and so we put out new material for people to hear it and people are liking it. How’s going the process of getting the full-length complete? All the music is written. I write the lyrics after the songs are done and I always wait until the last second to do it all, because when I’m under pressure my brain just kicks in and I pour everything out into the lyrics. [laughs] You never have a set list for any live show, which is pretty awesome and it makes each show unique. Why do you guys never pick up a set list? Because I hate watching bands who we are on tour and every four song
they have a break and then the singer says some intermission and talks about whether straight edge or whatever the hell they are. They say the same thing every night, do the same four song and then in between those four songs the guitarist is tuning and then the singer is preaching some bullshit... It’s just so contrived and those are the bands that are trying to change the world. [laughs] That’s what cracks me up. Those bands have choreographed jumps and I’m just like “Fuck that!” Just keep the spontaneity and something real to it and not just a bunch of bullshit. With everything shitty that’s going on in the world right now and with Donald Trump as president of the United States of America, which is quite scary and revolting, what are your thoughts about all of this? Here’s the thing, there’s something I do on a regular basis. I go to restaurants, clubs and bars and I start conversations with people that are 20 or 25 years older than me. 25 years ago or whatever, I think we were fucked up back then and now it’s just a different method, you know? The world has always been a fucked up place full of tyrants, dictators... The world has always been like this, it’s just that the media is focused on so much more these days because the media is essentially a circus now, and so I think we’re just exposed to more. I think it has always been a world of shit and we’re just exposed to more. It’s unbelievable everything that is happening. I hate to say, but it’s almost funny because Hillary Clinton is a fucking demon crook, she’s a fucking criminal and Donald Trump is going through the same path, so what are we going to do? [laughs] What can I do? There’s a lot of real serious punk rockers that are like “You’re supposed to change things through your songs” and I’m like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna become the soundtrack and teaching U.S. President” Get serious, dude! I’m sorry that doesn’t happen. [laughs] I’m really concerned with what will happen next, everything is so uncertain and scary right now. Who knows what’s gonna happen? You have no idea and that’s what keeps it exciting, you know? If we knew exactly where the world was going, imagine if we all lived the 1950s lifestyle... You would go to college, get a job, get married and have a bunch of kids and a dog and then you would die. If we all lived like that, it would be so much boring as you might kill me now. [laughs] Just keeping it exciting. [laughs]
NEW CAR SMELL EP IS OUT NOW ON RUDE RECORDS
INVENTIVE, STRANGE & ADDICTIVE
Stillicide describes the continual dripping of water. A rhythmic pattern which leaves an imprint whereve song title and also the title of the latest Helms Alee record, is suited perfectly for the band whose mas unforgettable. We sat down with Ben Verellen and Dana James and talked about their oceanic inspira Words & Photo: Teddie Taylor
hat specifically about water [draws you to use it for album covers, lyrics, etc.]? Ben Verellen: The first thing that comes to mind is just where we live. Seattle/Tacoma is surrounded by the Puget Sound and the ocean and all that, so it’s in our face every day. At some point, you get a little older and you start to appreciate it and get inspired by it. All of the stuff that doesn’t matter when you’re a kid. Then at some point it’s like, this is actually incredible and it’s right here and it’s been here the whole time and has probably had something to do with your outlook, your perception of things. Especially when you travel around the country and you see all the people who live in landlocked places. It’s just different. It’s a different feeling. You can’t put your finger on
what it is and why. It’s just a subtle, different thing. It gets in you and it’s interesting. Does the water inspire your sound at all? Do you hear waves and think, I need to make a song that sounds like this? Ben: I wouldn’t say that literally... Dana James: I think so. I think that Hozoji [Margullis] would, if she was here, that she would say yes. Ben: Now she would. Absolutely. Dana: I mean, she listens to the sound of bubbles. Like diving. The bubbles that rise from the apparatus. She listens to that to go to sleep at night. And whales and stuff like that. I would say directly. Ben: And she’ll talk about a drum beat and be like, I just want to make it sound like rolling waves. It blows my mind. Dana: She is the sea. She is the sound.
The Puget Sound. Wasn’t it just about two weeks ago that you got finished with the Melvins tour? Or a week ago? Dana: Exactly two weeks ago. Okay, so after you’re done with this tour, are you going on another one? Or taking a break? What are you doing after this next thing? Dana: We’re definitely taking a break for a minute. I mean, we’ve got nothing on the books. Ben: We’re going home. We’ve all got things, other life aspirations, waiting for us at home. It’s a good time to not be on tour in the dead of winter and get home and try to get back at all of the other things going on. Dana: Paying off the bills and saving more money to go on tour again.
sense. Inherently, the songs are probably all different from each other because it’s that sort of band. Dana: We don’t ever really think about anything like that. Did you go into this album wanting to do things that you had never done before? What was different about this one than anything before? Ben: I feel like it’s pretty unintentional and there’s not any conversation about what are we going to do differently this time? I would say what ended up being different is that we ended up spending a lot more time on the details. Things like vocal harmonies and kind of complicated arrangements. Stuff that we would just bang out. And we still are just kind of banging it out, but it’s a little bit more. Dana: It was a little more focused. Ben: Yeah, a little more, let’s dive into that and tighten it up and figure out exactly what we’re doing there. Dana: We learned how to do it better from record to record. This one seemed a little more dialed in as people working together in general. Ben: Part of that, too, is we went to record out of town for the first time, across the country, and we had a real short time-frame to do it. The pressure was on to have our ducks in a row and know what we were trying to accomplish and do it in a week-and-a-half. We couldn’t go in with a real vague idea; we needed to be prepared.
er it lands. The word, which is a ssive, deep and dense sound is ation and going with the flow. Ben: Right, regroup. But hoping to, during the springtime, do it again. I feel like this album was really... like, one song to the next song it was completely different so many times. There was a lot of contrast. Did you purposely lay out the songs like that? Dana: When we get the songs all done and mixed and everything, we all take it home and listen to it and we come up with the songs that we hear next to each other. Then we come together and discuss it and eventually end up at something. Ben: The songs don’t have any sort of preconceived idea about a composition for a record. We just spit out whatever comes and, at some point, compile what we have and try to piece something together that makes
When you write, how do you decide who sings on which songs? Ben: Whether it’s a riff or a beat or something, we’ll come together and have a sketch for a song at some point and somebody will be like, “I have an idea for vocals for that”. Dana: It’s almost whoever’s first. Ben: First-come-first-serve. Or, I’ve got an idea for that but I’m not quite sure and someone’s like, “I can’t come up with an idea for that. What’s your idea for that?” And then they show it and we just do that. Dana: Sometimes we combine efforts, too. Or sometimes we use one and mix them. When you’re writing, when do you decide that a song is done? Ben: I think it depends. There are some songs that are done the day we come up with them. Then other songs we have a riff or part and we spend sometimes a couple of months, sometimes over a year. Dana: It gets kicked around a lot, just put with other things. Ben: At some point some other idea comes up and it’s like, “Oh! What about that old thing?” Dana: I feel like all the answer to all of
our questions are like, “Uh I don’t know, we don’t plan it, we don’t know! It’s not planned, it’s not planned! That’s even better though! If it’s this good and not planned.” Ben: It’s better that way, you know! Dana: That’s what’s fun about it to me, I guess, is that we get to go do that and we get to play! We just get to have fun and hang out with our friends and play music. This whole show none of you seemed forced. Some shows it seems like people are like, “I’m going to play this the exact same every night.” Dana: Definitely not us. Ben: We wouldn’t be able to do that. We prefer not to. Is there a song on this album that you’re the most proud of? Or one that you think you spent more time on than all of the others? Dana: Honestly, I feel like every single time I listen to the record or play a song, a different one sticks out to me every time. Like, I really like that song tonight and the next night it’ll be something completely different. I just find little things I like about them. Ben: I’m trying to think... in terms of a song we spent more time on or spent more effort hashing out the details on... I don’t know. Dana: I feel like we did with all of them. Ben: Yeah, all of the songs. I don’t think there were any songs on this record that came together [snaps] in an instant. They were all hashed out over long periods of time. One of the Saturn employees brings up the topic of football, which derails us momentarily. Dana mentions that Ben has to bring up football in every interview. We talk about the Seattle Seahawks, of which I know nothing, and compare tattoos. Ben has the Seahawks bird logo on his arm and I have a realistic seahawk on mine. Again, Helms Alee are always linked back to Washington and the sea. Are there any groups that aren’t so well-known that you think should be more well-known? Dana: I’ve just been listening to Trevor Dickson a lot for the last couple of weeks. Ben: Yeah, he’s not in the same genre by any means. He’s a guy from Tacoma who’s been in Brooklyn for about ten years now and he moved out there and started a family and got a job and made a life for himself. Brilliant musician and has been since the Tacoma days. He has a solo record and it’s really good.
STILLICIDE IS OUT NOW ON SARGENT HOUSE
NOISE POP TERRORISTS XIU XIU ARE BACK TO MAKE YOU FORGET... Decade sign to Rude Records and announced the release of Pleasantries, the long-awaited follow up to their debut album, on 24th February 2017. Speaking about the signing, the band says: “We’re loyal guys so it’s not always been easy for us to go through changes in personnel when it comes to the team behind the band. But getting things moving with the guys at Rude Records has been truly great. We’re pleased and grateful to be working with such a passionate team, particularly on a project that we ourselves have been so personally invested in for so long.” Recorded and mastered across several legendary recording studios including Real World, Rockfield and Abbey Road studios, overseen by producer and friend Romesh Dodangoda, “Pleasantries marks
MORE ROUND UP 18
a defining turning point in Decade’s tireless creative journey”. Said The Whale are back! As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, out on March 31 via Hidden Pony Records, was recorded during a time of significant change. Previously operating as a five-piece, the current trio - made up of frontmen Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown - entered the studio with no preconceptions and no concrete plan. With the help of We Are The City’s Cayne McKenzie on production duties, the finished product is Said The Whale’s most collaborative, focused album to date.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ROUND UP UPCOMING // LETLIVE.
oise-pop provocateurs Xiu Xiu have announced their newest album, Forget, due out February 24th on Polyvinyl. The album was produced by John Congleton (Blondie, Sigur Ros), Greg Saunier of Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu’s own Angela Seo. It features guest appearances by fabled minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine, LA Banjee Ball superstar commentator Enyce Smith, Swans guitar virtuoso Kristof Hahn and legendary drag artist and personal hero
of Xiu Xiu, Vaginal Davis. Forget was recorded during a period of epic productivity for Xiu Xiu. While writing Forget, they released the lauded Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, collaborated with Mitski on a song for an upcoming John Cameron Mitchell film, composed music for art installations by Danh Vo, recorded an album with Merzbow and scored an experimental reworking of the Mozart opera, The Magic Flute. Regarding the album title, Xiu Xiu
singer Jamie Stewart said, “To forget uncontrollably embraces the duality of human frailty. It is a rebirth in blanked out renewal but it also drowns and mutilates our attempt to hold on to what is dear.” Xiu Xiu have also shared the dates for their extensive North American tour following the release of the album. The tour includes a stop at the acclaimed Big Ears Festival.
Jens Lekman has announced his new album, Life Will See You Now, due out February 17th via Secretly Canadian. As the title suggests, “this new effort represents a significant move forward, as if across a threshold. I Know What Love Isn’t (2012) was informed by a painful relationship breakdown that pitched its author into something of a crisis and so necessarily put him at its center, using a muted sound palette.” ADULT. (Detroit’s Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller) have announced details of a new collaborative album, Detroit House Guests - their first for
Mute - out March 2017. Detroit House Guests is a collaborative project, conceived by ADULT. in the early 2000s. The concept became a reality in 2014 after receiving a John S. and James L.Knight Foundation grant. Based on the visual artist residency model, each musician came to ADULT.’s studio for a three week period with the parameter that they all live, work and collaborate together. The result - a total anthropological sound experiment and a full length album. The album features collaborations with a whole host of musicians and artists – Douglas J McCarthy from
Nitzer Ebb, Michael Gira from Swans, Shannon Funchess from Light Asylum, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe aka Lichens, Austrian thereminist Dorit Chrysler and multidisciplinary artist Lun*na Menoh. Detroit House Guests arrives on March via Mute. Modern Baseball, Thin Lips and The Superweaks have announced a three-way split, coming out on Big Scary Monsters and Lame-O Records! The split will be digitally available on January 20th, 2017 and physically available exclusively on the bands’ tour together in the UK and Europe this winter.
FORGET ARRIVES ON FEBRUARY 24TH ON POLYVINYL.
CHALLENGING & INTROSPECTIVE
Irresistibly confrontational, Mannequin Pussy’s new effort is fast, chaotic and very effective. We spoke with frontwoman and founder Marisa Dabice about their ace new full-length Romantic, social media, US Election and much more… Words: Fausto Casais // Photo: Scott Troya
ou and Thanasi Paul started the band as a duo. What did lead you start Mannequin Pussy? Oh, you know, the crushingness. How did Kaleen Reading and Colins Regisford join the band and what did they bring to the band’s dynamic? Kaleen and us had a mutual friend who basically set us up. [laughs] Like a romantic matchmaker but for musicians. Kaleen ended up playing like two shows with us and then we all left together for a month long tour with us on our first full US tour. That was two years ago and we haven’t stopped making songs together since then. Bear we met after he wrote us a very long email asking us to play his annual 420 Philly show. He promised to make us cookies if we played the
show and we played the show and there were no cookies. A month or so after that, we just started asking around to see if anyone might wanna play bass with us to see how it felt and he was one of the first people who seemed to really want to. How’s it like the writing process like within the band? It varies from song to song. Most every song starts with a guitar part and we jam on that until the song feels right. We probably have anywhere from 3-6 songs at any given time that are still in that woodshedding stage. Each practice we go back to them and try to figure it out a little bit more every time. Sometimes Thanasi or I will bring a finished song to practice but for the most part we all work together to finalize the dynamics and feel of a song.
You have such a diversity of genres in your music that fit so well together, which you go from erratic hardcore tunes to more noisy punk rock songs. What bands or records did inspire you while shaping your songwriting? We really don’t talk about much about specific bands when making music. I make a very serious effort when in the songwriting phase of an album to not be listening to music because I don’t want too much to seep into my subconscious, you know? We just focus on what we’re doing and don’t use too many outside references. Your new album Romantic is fierce, fast, loud and really catchy and introspective as hell, and it’s 17 minutes long!!! How was the whole creative and recording process for the album? We recorded it in Philadelphia at Big
really make you feel that level of comfort and trust in them. What does “romantic” mean to you? Acceptance of your emotions; displaying them openly and honestly. Marisa, your lyrics deal with a lot of emotions and moods that we all can really relate to and get inspired by. How do you approach the writing of your lyrics and what did inspire you this time around for Romantic? Writing lyrics is my L’esprit de l’escalier. You know, that French term for coming up with the perfect response just too late? When I find myself in certain situations I freeze up and can’t think of anything to say until the moment has passed. It’s my chance to say what I wish I had so I’m usually speaking directly to a person or to a situation in my songs. Opening Romantic you say “I am not ashamed to be lonely, but I’m afraid to feel it so deeply,” this sentence really strikes me, and after listening the album countless times, Romantic had this strong power on me, it gives the listener a cathartic experience, but at the same time brings a clear feeling of introspection. It reminds you that you’re human, that’s normal to have emotions and that’s normal to have ups and downs. Do you agree? Yes, I agree.
Mama’s Recording with Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo. We took a week in the studio, two days to live track the album, and then maybe a day or so of guitar overdubs and one synth and some shakers, and then the rest of the time was recording vocals and mixing. For me personally, this was the first experience I had truly making a record. Our first record was kind of haphazardly thrown together and I didn’t have the prior experience to feel as active or comfortable in that situation, so this was the first time where I felt both ready to make the record and really able to contribute and learn from everyone else around me. I don’t want to make a record with anyone else, Chris and Evan were the best. They really understood us and what we wanted to bring out of our music onto a record and it can be a tricky to find engineers who can
Henry Rollins says America “tied a rock around its neck and threw itself into a river” by electing Donald Trump. What are your thoughts over the whole messy US election and how do you see the rise of someone like Donald Trump taking over? Rivers are generally kind of shallow. Not to mention they’re always moving, if one was to take this rope from whence it’s came from upon their neck and instead tossed it to their side one would simply stand up and walk out of the river. This peak of the rise of Donald Trump implies that his fall will soon follow. Equality, tolerance and decency are values that somehow will be put on hold or they will ignite some sort of consciousness awakening? Equality, tolerance, and decency were put on hold throughout this entire election. We failed to defend these values every single day the corporate media blasted us with images of Donald Trump and played out his disturbing rhetoric. The only positive that could possibly come of this is exactly that consciousness awakening and I already see it playing out around me. More and
more artists are using their platforms and local shows as a means to spread awareness about organizations that are defending the rights of people who are threatened by this new administration, and to have benefit shows to maintain a steady flow of income to those same groups. This is an important moment where people need to ask themselves what they’re willing to defend and fight for and figure out for themselves the best way to go about being active. Personally, with the downfall of media, the social media constant stupidity we almost feel like we are just a passenger in this world, because these people steer their boat wherever they want to go, but the current moves in a direction that is beyond their power. On the other hand, there’s inspirational people like for example DeRay Mckesson (Black Lives Matter), that somehow might can force a change, because it feels that the only way it’s fighting for each other. Is it fair assessment? Yeah, I definitely agree. It’s too easy to let yourself feel powerless when you’re basically living at the bottom. I, and so many of my friends and peers, don’t have the kind of wealth and power required to get the government to pay attention to so how can feel like we’re being effective and not just yelling into the echo chamber? You usually have to focus first on the micro - the personal communities that you actually live in. Start small and then focus on seeing it spread. What are your thoughts about the current Philadelphia music scene? Don’t move here. In few words, how would you describe 2016 for Mannequin Pussy? An incredible year for us personally in an otherwise depressing and trash year. I feel grateful for all that’s been happening for us but we’ve also worked very hard on art. What plans do you have in store for 2017? I know that a January/February tour with Joyce Manor and AJJ is already on the menu. Yup, doing our first support tour with Joyce Manor & AJJ. Then in May/June we’re going on our first European tour to play Primavera in Barcelona and then doing a month in the EU/UK. What have you been listening to lately non-stop? Natural white noise and new age meditation music.
ROMANTIC IS OUT NOW ON TINY ENGINES
WHILE SHE SLEEP “YOU ARE WE” IN S
heffield’s While She Sleeps have announced that their forthcoming third album is titled You Are We and it’s set for release on 21st April, 2017. While She Sleeps have also announced a UK headline tour throughout April and May of 2017 in order to bring their new music to their loyal and dedicated fanbase up close and personal. While She Sleeps have chosen a fitting way to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band – by becoming totally independent. It’s a bold and impressive move that both reflects the decade
gone by and hints at what the future has to offer. The band converted an empty warehouse in the heart of their native Sheffield into their own multi-purpose studio. It’s not the first time they’ve had their own space – 2010’s debut EP The North Stands For Nothing was recorded at a home studio called The Barn – but with this new space, which was built with the band’s own money, they’ve taken things to the next level. “There’s always been a very DIY aspect to this band,” explains vocalist Lawrence ‘Loz’ Taylor, “so going it alone a bit more now just reiterates that to everyone. The Barn was a very
important place for us – it’s where we grew as friends and it was where we hung out and could be creative – so the idea with this new space is that it gives us a lot more creative space. There’s a studio and live room, and we have space now to achieve what we want to achieve as a band. This place is going to house us for a good few years.” As part of the new record’s PledgeMusic campaign, fans were able to head to the studio and take part in the video for “Hurricane”. “That was absolutely crazy,” beams Taylor. “I’m still aching from that! But the special thing is that every kid who came down
PS RETURN WITH N APRIL for the video shoot actually helped make the album happen. And to that extent they made this warehouse capable of living.” “Now more than ever,” adds Sean Long (guitar), “our fans know that it’s them making all of this possible for us. The divide between artist and fan is ridiculous, because there are no fans without the artist and there’s no artist without the fans. They go hand in hand together as one absolute thing, and I really like that we can see that in play with what we’ve been doing. It’s very reassuring to see that support right in front of us.”
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES SCHEDULE FOR 2017 AT THE DRIVE IN
SPRING/SUMMER 2017? At The Drive In’s new album is going to be produced by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Rich Costey, due out on Rise Records. It will be their first album since 2000’s classic Relationship of Command. In the meantime, go listen to their brand new track, “Governed By Contagions”.
BEING AS AN OCEAN JUNE 9
The new outing will be titled Waiting For The Morning To Come and is slated for a June 9 release through Equal Vision Records.
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN MARCH 24
The Jesus and Mary Chain are back with their first new album in 18 years, Damage and Joy. Due out March 24th via ADA/ Warner Music, the long-awaited follow-up to 1998’s Munki was produced by Killing Joke co-founder Martin Glover, aka Youth.
MIXTAPE THE VERY BEST NEW TRACKS
1. FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES “Wild Flowers” 2. SLOCOACHES “Living Out” 3. MANNEQUIN PUSSY “Romantic” 4. AFI “Snow Cats” 5.CLOUD NOTHINGS “Internal World” 6. KING WOMAN “Utopia” 7. PISSED JEANS “The Bar Is Low” 8. CREEPER “Hiding With Boys” 9. DREAM WIFE “FUU” 10. THE REGRETTES “Marshmallow World”
AMBICIOUS, RAW & SPONTAN
11. GONE IS GONE “Gift”
Fronted by Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicksa (...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead) Bad Religion drumm Against), Vanishing Life have just released their amazing debut alb answered to all our questions regarding this exciting, awesome, and
12. THE xx “Say Something Loving” 13. UNIFORM “The Killing Of America”
Words: Tiago Moreira// Photo: Cecilia Alejandra
14. OCEAN GROVE “Intimate Alien”
15. THE MENZINGERS “Bad Catholics”
ho approached who about starting this project? Autry approached me at Groezrock Festival in 2014, seemed like fun to do a project with someone outside my New York circle of musicians and friends. Also, I knew Jamie from touring with Trail Of Dead so I knew the musical quality would be really high.
16. MENACE BEACH “Give Blood” 17. NINE INCH NAILS “Dear World” 18. LOS CAMPESINOS! “I Broke Up In Amarante” 19. PRIESTS “Jj” 20. NIKKI LANE “Highway Queen” 21. CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH “Fireproof” 22. CODE ORANGE “Bleeding In The Blur” 23. RYAN ADAMS “To Be Without You” 24. RUN THE JEWELS “Talk To Me” 25. WHILE SHE SLEEPS “Hurricane”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time you are 100% focused on just singing. Was that always your intention with Vanishing Life? I did play guitar on the album and wrote my share of the songs but I am primarily focused on the singing, most of the music was written by Jamie. I wrote all of the lyrics. In the love setting I just sing, which I’m enjoying. In taking on the project it was important to me that I not have to carry a guitar to the airport and lead singing is the best way around that.
Being just the vocalist, was it more challenging than you were expecting? Does it allow you to have a different perspective on the creative process? Creatively it’s great, I definitely approach singing differently when I don’t have to worry about playing the song. That’s the approach I took with Quicksand, which made it much tougher when it came time to play live. Having only done 8 shows with Vaninshing Life I’m enjoying being the lead singer but there are different challenges. Staying healthy is an important one, no voice,no show and as lead singer it’s on you in a much bigger way. I love the challenge of it though. What about performing with only a microphone in your hands? At least must be fun not having to carry all the gear. Not carrying a guitar rules. So far I’m a singer with the mic stand type guy. In
HOT NEW BAND
East Berlin. The East German secret police (Stasi) were masters of surveillance and creating paranoia as a means of control. The methods were derived from psychoanalysis, Edward Bernays, the KGB, the nazis, you see the same techniques being used today in advertising, at Guantanamo Bay and Facebook. The Stasi were all James Bond about their methods as well, very futuristic. You’ve been involved in many bands/projects throughout the years. Is there something different to Vanishing Life? Vanishing Life is unique in that I’m working out of my usual circle of New York friends, the creative process also took place mostly over the Internet. Lastly, I was asked to join rather than starting the band myself, I liked the idea of joining something. That and the chemistry within the recording band and now with the live band (including Nathan Aguilar [Dead Heavens] and Don De Vore [Ink And Dagger]) has a sound all its own. Can we expect more albums from Vanishing Life or was this just one off? We’d all like to keep going, playing live is a challenge but we’re making it work. We’re hoping to get a new single out in the Spring, there’s definitely a lot of great ideas hanging around.
and) and featuring Autry Fulbright II mer Jamie Miller, and Zach Blair (Rise bum, Surveillance. Walter Schreifels d brand new project.
the last few shows I got to talking to the audience a little and that was good, was too shy at first. It’s fun to have to develop a new skill set/frontman identity on the fly, so far so good. Talking about the creative process. What was that like for Vanishing Life? The creative process is very smooth, the songs were written individually for the most part, but I don’t think it’d be easy to tell who wrote what, we all understood the musical style. As for the vocals I developed a voice that I thought was aggressive in a way but thoughtful and comfortable for me to sing, the lyrics are about the struggles of living in our modern world. I know you recorded your first seven-inch in two days. Was the recording process for Surveillance also a fast one? The album was tracked in 7 days, wetook a while with the mix and our record company went out of business,
which also set us back, but the actual recording was very intense but also fun, productive. From the band’s name to the title of the album to even the subjects of your lyrics, there’s some heaviness and deep analysis of the current state of affairs. Was always your goal to go down “this road”? The subject matter seemed to fit the music which has a heavy edge to it. In going after contemporary life there’s a lot of tough news to report but I also made sure to find the humor and hope in it. Our first song “People Running” kind of set me in that direction, our society is in flux, panic, music can help one to deal. I know the new album was also inspired by a visit you took to the Stasi museum. Can you please talk about that? The Stasi museum in Berlin is on location at the former Stasi HQ in
I know you were one of the many persons that weren’t expecting Trump to win. How have been these last few weeks for you? I know Jill Stein is currently raising funds for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania... I was as surprised as anyone. I know there are many fearful people, some with very good reason. Having experienced Bush and Reagan I know what bad presidents are like and it hasn’t been the end of the world yet. This wave of xenophobia etc. is something that has always existed in the country, maybe it’s a good thing to have it play out in the open at this point in history. I’m doubtful that Jill Stein’s effort will bear fruit but I approve the idea of questioning authority. Meanwhile I’m keeping my eyes open, looking out for my fellow man, choosing love. I’ve got to ask. Any chance of a new Quicksand record in the future? I’d love to do a Quicksand record, but Vanishing Life is my focus now followed by Dead Heavens, I’m working over here.
SURVEILLANCE IS OUT NOW ON DINE ALONE RECORDS
Tau Cross, the veteran punk / metal collective revolving around Amebix bassist / frontman Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, and members of cult crust outfit Misery and War//Plague, have recently completed recording their sophomore full-length tentatively titled A Pillar of Fire. Recorded across many different locations in the same manner as their eponymous debut, the drums were tracked Montreal, guitars in Minneapolis, bass in Seattle and Minneapolis), vocals on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Vocalist Rob “The Baron” Miller elaborated on the new material: “This approach can be challenging given the location of the band members, but it is a necessity that we have tried
MORE ROUND UP 26
to turn into a strength. Video conferencing and messenger services have been helpful in guiding the process to completion. engage with.” New York City sludge/doom/drone trio Unearthly Trance re-emerge from the shadows with Stalking the Ghost, their six full-length recording and first album in over seven years. Recorded at Menegroth/The Thousand Caves Studios by Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts, Panopticon) and featuring cover art by Orion Landau (YOB, Red Fang, Graves At Sea), Stalking the Ghost restores misery to a gentrifying city. February 24th, 2017 will see the
PISSED JEANS ANNOUNCE “WHY LOVE NOW” P
issed Jeans have announced their fifth album, Why Love Now, out in February 24th on legendary label Sub Pop Records. On their new album they aim the mundane discomforts of modern life—from fetish webcams to office-supply deliveries. “Rock bands can retreat to the safety of what rock bands usually sing about. So 60 years from now, when no one has a telephone, bands will be writing songs like, ‘I’m waiting for her to call me on my telephone.’ Kids are going to be like, ‘Grandpa, tell me, what was that?’ I’d rather not shy away from talking about the internet or interactions in 2016,” says frontman Matt Korvette. Why Love Now picks at the bursting seams that are barely holding 21st-century life together. Take the grinding rave-up “The Bar Is Low,” which, according to Korvette, is “about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a shithead. It seems like every guy is getting outed, across every board of entertainment and politics and music. There’s no guy that isn’t a total creep.” No Wave legend Lydia Lunch shacked up in Philadelphia to produce Why Love Now alongside local metal legend Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Goat Semen). “I knew she wasn’t a traditional producer,” Korvette says of Lunch. “I like how she’s so cool and really intimidating. She ended up being so fucking awesome and crazy. She was super into it, constantly threatening to bend us over the bathtub. I’m not really sure what that entails, but I know she probably wasn’t joking.” Ebruy Ildiz
worldwide release of Stalking The Ghost via Relapse Records. Nuclear Blast have announced the signing of Arkansas doom quartet Pallbearer for the territories of UK, Europe, Australia & New Zealand. Pallbearer commented on the signing: “We are very excited to be working with Nuclear Blast on this record, as so many of the bands that have helped to shape our own artistic pathways have before us.” Pallbearer have also revealed that their highly anticipated forthcoming third record titled Heartless is due for release on 24th March 2017. Pallbearer
WHY LOVE NOW ARRIVES ON FEBRUARY 24TH ON SUB POP RECORDS
commented on Heartless: “This album finds us exploring new territories; instead of staring into to the void – both above and within – Heartless concentrates its power on a grim reality. Our lives, our homes and our world are all plumbing the depths of utter darkness, as we seek to find any shred of hope we can.” Heartless will be released via Nuclear Blast Entertainment in the UK, Europe, Australia & New Zealand and via Profound Lore in North America. Philadelphia’s SHEER MAG have announced their first 12” vinyl release, Compilation LP due 31st March on London’s Static Shock Records. The
record features the band’s three 7-inch EP’s, released between 2014 and 2016. All 12 songs were recorded onto the same vintage 8-track tape machine, as it was carted to various locations around Philadelphia. The first two were produced in a makeshift studio wedged between two bedrooms in the band’s former South Philly house. The third came out of a practice space in the Port Richmond neighborhood. Sequenced chronologically, the newly remastered songs reveal a young DIY band finding its sound. The compilation was mastered by Josh Bonati and all three EPs were mixed by Hunter Davidson.
RISING RISING RISING
STILL RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE Off the back of their impressive UK arena tour, and the subsequent release of their Live At Alexandra Palace album, Enter Shikari are demonstrating an ambition to take their live shows to new technical heights and it’s clear that the work is paying off. Singer Rou Reynolds spoke to us about the difficulty in bringing this vision to life and the importance of staying positive on tour and in life. Words: Dave Bowes // Photo: Tom Pullen
ou went from doing that arena tour to a more club-based tour in the US. Did you feel you could relax a little bit doing those more intimate shows? By the end of the tour, we were just so happy with it. The first few nights, the odd thing was going wrong, it was a bit more stressful because we’d be programming all day and our soundchecks would be about three hours long and then there’d be extra programming, but by the end of the tour it was just enjoyable. It was a bit disappointing we had to leave it all behind for the US tour, but on the other hand it was nice to go back to the more punk side and just play straight-up rock shows. You’ve got a few Shikari Sound System dates coming up in December. How big is the difference in your headspace when you do shows like that? Huge. The DJ sets are just a little bit on the side; a bit of fun, really. We all love all kinds of electronic and dance
music, and DJ’ing is something me and Rob have always done, be it aftershows or things for mates. I do a bit of MC’ing and it’s a bit of a laugh. Actually, right before speaking to you I was reading an article about how not to piss off a DJ, which I guess will be happening a lot with the Christmas nights out coming up. Do you have to deal with a lot of drunks and the like when you do those shows? A little bit, I guess it depends on the layout of the venue. Sometimes there’s just a little booth where people can come up, and the majority of them are lovely. We enjoy meeting them but there’s always the drunken oaf who’s going to keep asking you to play a certain song that you don’t want to play. What we got a lot of is people who maybe are just embedded in rock culture and we mainly play drum & bass, a little bit of everything – future house, Motown, all kinds of stuff – but don’t expect us to play our own tracks. We’re not just going to sit here and play CDs of our own music, that’s a bit weird. You brought out some more Johnny &
the Snipers stuff a little while back. Are you thinking of revisiting that any time soon? Yeah, it’s just finding the time, really. It’s not really a type of music that I listen to a lot but my brother, when he and I still lived at home, used to really love jazz and would play lots of big band-esque stuff, so I guess I got a bit of an education from him. He was in a jazz big band – he played the trombone – and this is the guy who does all the brass with me. It’s always been there in my life, just using that style of music for comical effect and to have the covers is always a lot of fun. I love character comedy, and I think it’s quite important for us because we’re a band that sings a lot about such serious subjects that it’s good to keep that side of us that delves into satire and parody. To be wallowing in the world’s more serious subjects can get a bit much so it’s good to have some light relief. Well, not to bring you down but in the past while since we spoke, we’ve had the situation with Trump in the US and Brexit and the Labour leadership
fiasco over here. Any thoughts there? It’s mad. To tie everything in together, everything that’s going on in Europe with Brexit and also in the US, it feels like there’s a general push to the far right. It’s like people are being genuinely interested in nationalism again and isolating themselves, whether it’s Trump going on about his wall and Muslims and Mexicans, and in Europe we’ve got Marine Le Pen and the National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, and in Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands, they’ve all got their far-right parties on the rise. In the UK we’ve got UKIP and some of the nastier reasons for voting for Brexit, the rise of racism and xenophobia... yeah, it’s kind of frightening really and it’s quite disappointing as well. I can’t really comment on why it’s happening; I don’t really know enough, there’s lots of different theories but hopefully people will always realise that you’re never always going to get what you want. The problems lie within the structures and economy, capitalism and it’s always a lot wiser to hope, and look to love and unity to find the answers instead of looking to artificial division and segregation. It’s very petty. Trump is just insane. Hopefully we’ll never have to speak about Trump again and this is the last we’ll have to speak of him but the guy is just a brat. He’s a bully with no sense of how to be a decent social person. He’s got his way his whole life, he’s been spoilt by his family and his money to get what he wants. I think he’s a bit fucked up, basically, and instead of getting help and trying to be a better person, he’s trying to lead the most powerful country in the world, which is really frightening. I think what’s more frightening is the amount of support he’s got, which shows what a misled, angry and desperate country the US has become. It’s looking to saviours who are definitely not saviours out of desperation. On the upside, though, it has gotten a lot of young people interested in politics, especially on the left. Do you think that this is a more politicised generation that we’re seeing on the rise? Possibly. It’s always hard to tell whether these people were politicised anyway and have just spoken out more. There’s still a lot of apathy. I think some of what’s happening is more and more people are having a reason to become politicised. Things are gradually becoming worse and worse. Over here a few years ago, there was the Tories and their disability cuts and that going to politicise
a few people who either care for the disabled, are disabled; next comes the closing down of youth centres and councils getting less funding, venues being shut down to build flats for fucking oligarchs... that’s going to politicise some people, and so on and so forth. As things continue to spiral out of control, going back towards a Thatcherite era, you’re going to see more people being forced into politics. I guess Enter Shikari does follow a trend of protest music that stretches back decades, and on that note I guess you’ll have seen that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I think a lot of people felt it was long overdue. Yeah, I was surprised at the Marmite reaction. Some were absolutely shocked; “This isn’t literature! It’s songs!” Really snootily looking down on his work and others were completely overjoyed and said it was a long time coming. I think he was kind of ambivalent. I haven’t been a dedicated fan of Dylan’s music but I appreciate it and think he’s definitely a bit of a genius when it comes to lyrics. I kind of stayed out of it; I didn’t have an interesting opinion either way. I guess it’s good that protest music and social commentary within music is recognised as something worthy of praise, and worth encouraging, especially in this climate where there’s so little of it, particularly in pop. When you go back to his time and to other periods of pop music, you had Dylan, John Lennon and Bob Marley, Motown and Northern Soul, Marvin Gaye and into Afrobeat, there was a huge amount of political music that was actual pop music, but now I can’t really think of anything. Taylor Swift occasionally says one thing that could possibly be perceived as social commentary and that’s it. I don’t think there’re any good role models in that respect. People are too busy singing about girls on dancefloors, or going to the club, popping champagne – there’s a narcissism, a glorification of greed; a negativity, really. Not really positive messages so I think it’s a good thing that pop music that had something to say is being celebrated. Back to what I had mentioned at the start – “Hoodwinker”. You seemed to be targeting religion this time around, which seems a different avenue for the band. What made you head in this direction? There’s been a couple of songs touching on this, like “The One True Colour” was about losing your religion, which is something I have a vague memory of when I was very young from talking to others and reimagining it. At first, it can seem like a nerve-shattering
experience because you’re losing a stable belief system that has been part of your life but then I tried to turn it around and make it a celebration of losing dogma and replacing it with science and exploration, the beauty of nature – all the amazing things that the human race is good at. A huge amount of music throughout the history of civilisation has been made for the glorification of various deities so a lot of The Mindsweep was about the glorification of science, and creativity and human ingenuity. Saying that humanity has to get back in line with nature and rid ourselves of this religious view that other species and this earth are there for us to be used and abused. “Hoodwinker” follows on from that in a more facetious, cheeky and slightly silly way. You’ve got me bellowing like an utter madman at the beginning, playing God or someone who thinks he’s God, depending on how you want to take it, and telling everyone to stay in and lock their doors – making him out to be an absolute fruitcake. In the chorus, you have this early 20th century authority figure saying, “Excuse me, do you have documentation to prove that you’re a deity? I don’t believe you are.” It’s calling out the various gods that are still worshipped as hoodwinkers or frauds. As much as I identify as an atheist, I get a bit bored by the stringent atheist communities out there who are needlessly bashing at every chance they get. I understand why people become religious, it gives people a lot of comfort but I thought it would be nice to do it in a more quaint, almost Monty Python-esque way. One last question – you tour pretty relentlessly so how do you stay healthy? In terms of physical health, it helps that onstage is a lot of physical exercise and I try to jog when I’m on tour as well. A lot of the time you’re in the grimy spot of the city so it’s not always nice but I try and get out. I hate using labels but I’m pretty much a vegan, though I don’t go about singing about it, but that helps as well, especially when you’re touring in places where food can be dodgy. It means I get food poisoning less than everyone else, usually. Mentally, being on tour can be taxing, and when you’re sleep deprived your anxiety goes through the roof so I find meditation and yoga helps. Also, finding time to do your own thing, be it reading or watching a series – just getting yourself out of the mad world that is being a touring musician and finding something that is habitual, that you can do every day that feels normal.
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2016: THE YEAR IN REVIEW From Pinegrove to Mitski, from Run the Jewels (there’s no way around it, RTJ3 is a 2016 record) to David Bowie, it was again hard to pick just 50 albums, but here’s our Top 50 best albums of 2016 along with our thoughts on them. Each of our writers and editors submitted their ‘Top 20 albums of 2016’ lists and we worked out the top albums to put together this awesome list.
ANGEL DU$T Rock The Fuck On Forever
Warpaint Heads Up
YOU BLEW IT! Abendrot
Angel Du$t show strength and depth within a genre which is in constant evolution and Rock The Fuck On Forever is definitely a record that will take the listener beyond the punk/ hardcore scene into the deeper waters of rap metal, surf rock and alternative rock.
On their debut LP, they go frantically at it with a razor-sharp set of songs that for the most part are unwilling to take the foot off the gas. More than just a sonically rock album, Gold is of extreme relevance on a social level with its imposing, gut-wrenching, and extremely gritty lyrics.
By far their most confident and daring album. Their dynamic is phenomenal, as usual, maintaining that electrifying and sensual approach, while they play their instruments and sing their lyrics. You just get wrapped up in those danceable beats and the intense melodies.
S U R V I V E never seem bound by such aesthetics, nor by their vast array of influences. Instead, they are shaping a world, a sonic cosmos that operates according to their rules – it’s a dark place, but the sense of wonder and mystery makes it a joy to traverse.
Abendrot, You Blew It!’s first record for Triple Crown Records, is a complex state of affairs for this American emo band. Abendrot proves to be the band’s most ambitious effort to date and manages to feel effortless and sound cohesive within its progressive mentality.
METALLICA Hardwired... To Self Destruct Blackneded
CAR SEAT HEADREST Teens Of Denial
HELLIONS Opera Oblivia
THE COATHANGERS Nosebleed Weekend
DARKTHRONE Arctic Thunder
These songs don’t feel as contrived or thought out as Death Magnetic and even with a few filler tracks, there’s a quality and sincerity in this material that will undoubtedly resonate with most listeners, making Hardwired… to Self Destruct, easily, their best album in 25 years.
Taking cues from acts that represent some of the best in the history of songwriting – Nirvana, Pavement, Pixies, etc. – Toledo and company deliver a rock LP that is able to meet even the maddest expectations. Beware because Car Seat Headrest might well be the next pinnacle of rock songwriting.
Hellions have delivered one of the greatest albums in recent memory. Opera Oblivia is extremely rich in details, a hopeful testimony of a group that is willing to be as socially conscious as well self-aware. A majestic celebration of life, even when everything seems bleak and lost.
Eclectic, blistering and unexpected, Nosebleed Weekend goes beyond the band’s irreverent punk rock. Full of contagious sing-along hooks, loud-fast-quiet-loud-noisy repetitive vocal refrain and the result is a heavy dose of stripped-down pop anthems, 70’s garage and 90’s messy grunge.
Arctic Thunder is a natural progression from Circle The Wagons, still a spiked-fist salute to NWOBHM and speed metal... Still, it’s one of the most musically accomplished things they’ve ever put out, it’s undeniably catchy and, most importantly, it perfectly captures the spirit of heavy fucking metal they’ve championed since day one.
MARISSA NADLER Strangers
SWANS The Glowing Man
JOYCE MANOR Cody
CULTURE ABUSE Peach
ANGEL OLSEN My Woman
Cody is an evolution, perhaps their most ambitious and diverse album, all the songs are tender, sound big and ballzy, but at the same time are raw and intimate. From Morrissey to Elliot Smith, from Rancid to Sun Kil Moon, this is a band that’s not stuck in the same old formula...
These dudes are the real deal, no bullshit attached. Fresh and strangely addictive, Culture Abuse are a huge contender to the best new band around and Peach is an eclectic, dreamy and a heavy artistic statement, full of hooks and top notch songwriting.
My Woman is an album that offers sonic and lyrical excellence through diversity – it never holds still and is always looking for a new colour and smell – but more importantly, My Woman is a breakthrough album by an artist that found a confidence so undeniable that we can taste it ourselves.
Strangers is another exquisite and beautiful journey. Marissa’s allure to convey her feelings into textural atmospheres just makes you wish it never ends. The mist around Strangers is sublime; the mysteries and wonders of our existence come to life with Marissa’s sounds and words.
The work of Gira and his cohorts has come to increasingly resemble the densely-packed and weighty cinema of a filmmaker such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, with each release growing in magnitude and scope as it determinedly scrutinises and chips away at the vast unknowable rockface of human emotion.
Suicide Squeeze Records
Triple Crown Records
TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2016
PLANES MISTAKEN FOR STARS Prey
MUSCLE AND MARROW Love
WHITE LUNG Paradise
AGAINST ME! Shape Shift With Me
On their fourth album, and first since their reunion in 2010, the quartet led by guitarist and vocalist Gared O’Donnell manages to deliver what’s arguably their most urgent and earthshaking effort. Prey is an album that celebrates the relevance and importance of honest rock and punk music.
Indie rock evolves into 2016 as Pinegrove releases their latest record Cardinal. The NJ based group leads you through eight soft and emotional songs with simplistic guitar tracks and catchy lyrics. Indie, pop, rock, country and everything in-between blend perfectly in this creative, unique album.
For their second album Muscle & Marrow dive deeper into atmosphere, focusing on pulsing drumbeats, electronics and the overall gloomy ambiance of the record. They definitely deserve the status of a very special project with an unparalleled identity.
On their fourth album, White Lung have managed to further establish their unique sound... If musically it comes as a huge achievement, the more matured and incisive lyrics of Mish, that successfully put things into perspective, make Paradise another vital work of the punk history.
Lead singer Laura Jane Grace batters her voice, screaming out, overlapping the tension. She also bellows out words that describe the pollution of the world, a world falling down, crumbling piece by piece. And on the new album, politics is examined and truly unpacked, thrown to the vultures.
MANNEQUIN PUSSY Romantic
SLOWCOACHES Nothing Gives
KORN The Serenity Of Suffering Roadrunner
WREKMEISTER HARMONIES ARCHITECTS Light Falls All Our Gods Have Thrill Jockey Abandoned Us Epitaph
Irresistibly confrontational, Romantic is chaotic & introspective as hell, showcasing Mannequin Pussy’s diverse sound, from their erratic hardcore tunes to their expansive non-stop noise rock and bubblegum saccharine pop. Intelligent and liberating, a captivating record for challenging times.
Nothing Gives is an unrelenting thrash of an album that blazes through its twelve tracks with the ferocity of the Ramones and a sharp tongue, taking on themes from mental illness to the state of the DIY scene. What sets Nothing Gives apart from many debut albums is that it doesn’t sound like one.
The Serenity Of Suffering is a comeback to form, Head’s return was the key element in Korn’s new set of dynamics influencing the whole creative process. It still sounds impressive, refreshing and over the top, these dudes still sound unique and more organic than ever.
Wrekmeister Harmonies’ records tell grandiose stories. JR Robinson and Esther Shaw, the heart of Harmonies, destroy, resuscitate and move through worlds relying on cooperative contrasts. Light Falls was inspired by anti-fascist Primo Levi’s memoir of his year in Auschwitz, If This Is a Man.
With their new album All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, the band maximise their sound to blitz everything they’ve done before, by mastering the art of volatility. Yes, they’ve always been loud and brash, but on the new opus, they proudly elevate.
SUPER UNISON Auto
NEUROSIS Fires Within Fires Neurot Recordings
THRICE To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere Vagrant
DESCENDENTS Hypercaffum Spazzinate Epitaph
KING 810 La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God Roadrunner
There’s no bullshit here and their music is meant to be frontal. Auto is their debut LP, sounds raw and bold, everything is straightforward, creating songs coming in at the two minute mark. Meghan blends aggressive with melodic singing, speaking about real damn important social issues.
There are countless ways to describe Neurosis’ art and impact. Saying they’re one of the best to ever do it and that they’ve changed the “underground” game would just be the tip of the iceberg in an endless discussion. A solid album that has more soul and heart than most.
For those with cold feet on what to expect from this comeback, just get over it and listen to this amazingly written album. To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is the band’s fiercer and bolder album to date, they go to their extremes and the outcome is something quite remarkable.
Hypercaffium Spazzinate can be a record “made for old people by old people” but it often gets a universal appeal with its relevant social subject matters… not to mention that musically we find an extremely energetic band that delivers their most musically matured album to date.
For this is cohesive piece of work that was puzzled together in such manner that its flow ends up being almost ridiculous. We’re talking about a band that was able to put together a LP that has more social consciousness and awareness than you’re probably used to. More than a brilliant musical album, this album is a piece of art.
Run For Cover Records
Leisure & District
Xtra Mile Recordings
TRUE WIDOW Avvolgere
NOTHING Tired Of Tomorow
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE Marked For Death
The shoegaze, jazzy, and bluesy approach provides the perfect soundtrack for the painful, intimate and personal reading of a diary filled with gut-wrenching, soulful, and anguished howls made by someone who has embarked on a painful journey towards understanding and accepting life’s dynamics.
It sounds like the music that would soundtrack a late 90’s gothic action movie. It’s completely comfortable in its skin, utterly unafraid of its limitations, wearing its heart proudly on its sleeve. And you have to kind of adore it because of that chutzpah.
Its prominent shoegaze haziness and grungy feel, definitely sounds like what its title implies and seems to just accept the fact that sometimes life appears to turn into a very strange and cruel place and one must just turn off the brain for a little while and wait for the storm to pass.
Gojira are a band that carry expectation with them heavily like a burden with each new album cycle. Magma is a more contemplative, slower and more introverted album than previous releases. But nonetheless creative, inventive and masterful for it.
With a season of change, Marked For Death is the perfect record to listen to through a gloomy autumn day. Nature is changing as the seasons change as Emma is evolving with her experiences and her ability to create something beautiful from painful events.
MITSKI Puberty 2
CHILDISH GAMBINO “Awaken, My Love!”
EVERY TIME I DIE Low Teens
SLEIGH BELLS Jessica Rabbit
THE BODY No One Deserves Happiness
If the previous LP thrived in its energetic bursts, creating a certain layered cacophony to contrast the more soft-paced moments, the new LP takes a more steady and confident approach piecing together, gently and dazzlingly, one of the most intimate and wonderfully crafted albums of 2016.
Gambino became a father, took a look back at his father’s record collection and created an album that has immensurable heart and soul. He embraced 70’s soul, funk, R&B, and rock music and carved an album that thrills and astounds at every corner.
Low Teens have this menacing and raging attitude that really makes us feel that this album is a hardcore driven explosive cocktail of that which will explode in our hands at any time. It’s an exhausting and relentless experience, but this is a brilliant effort in any way.
Jessica Rabbit is refreshing, it’s noisy and confident, has sense of maturity throughout, attitude and precision. Derek Miller’s incendiary riffs are still damn catchy and sharp, while Alexis Krauss thrashes and wails right on form with her trademark visceral raw minimalist vocal approach.
In one hand, there’s the harsh and violent soundscapes, and on the other there’s the electronic mixed with the dance-influenced industrial beats. It’s an album of contrasts that represents the eclectic tastes of the duo. In the midst of their prolific career, The Body are crafting a unique path.
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Dissociation
LETLIVE. If I’m The Devil...
IGGY POP Post Pop Depression
TOUCHÉ AMORÉ Stage Four
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS Skeleton Tree
Primal and crushing, everything sounds frantic and perverse, it’s like a vicious ride full of euphoria that pushes the listener in the same intellectual and sonic direction. A brilliant effort, showing a group of artists more focused than ever in their pursuit of musical innovation.
The sounds coming out of each song provide a universal appeal that can’t be overlooked and should be praised. The emotional availability and vulnerability are not showing around the corner for the first time, but it was hardly as dashing as this time around.
Post Pop Depression is the old and experienced mentor and the talented good hearted disciple proving us that one is just as old as he feels. The album sounds like the real collaboration that it is, with Josh Homme being definitely the most legit heir of Iggy’s throne.
Stage Four isn’t only a great work around acceptance and understanding from this one man, is also the alternative soundtrack for said subjects. An exquisite and delightfully detailed soundtrack for anyone that is willing to grow up with the band.
Absorb every waver in Cave’s deep voice and understand his carefully chosen vocabulary. Skeleton Tree is an album that should never have been made, but it is the utmost humbling honor to be entrusted with such an intimate work.
The Native Sound
Party Smashers inc.
Bad Seed Ltd
TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2016
RADIOHEAD A Moon Shaped Pool
RUN THE JEWELS RTJ3
The electronics which have so overtaken Radiohead’s sound across the last 16 years are now seamlessly woven into their group playing, the perfect fusion of body, brain and flickering software. With 2000’s Kid A and tracks like “Treefingers”, Radiohead were regarded as a group taken leave of their collective senses. Instead, they have refined themselves into a musical entity which is translucent, opaque, shimmering without borders or restraints and spinning endlessly in and out of reach. Radiohead help us understand the times we live in, not by appealing to our base instincts, but by showing us what we could be.
RTJ3 goes after the masters in the name of the “classless masses”, and in doing it takes as fair game the show of horrors that is war (that is ok taking advantage of children), the corruption that seems inherent to power, police brutality, the relentless greed that leads to obnoxious atrocities, the consequences of political correctness, the lack of empathy that dominates our world, our horrible “leaders”, and much more. RTJ’s art on RTJ3 thrives with its appealing sounds and moves, creates excitement at every weird ass sound, and even in its eclectic nature is able to grab every single one of us, never assuming that the audience is too dumb to get it.
Run The Jewels Inc.
SAVAGES Adore Life
A revolution that makes use of words and music, never allowing an unevenness, between the two, to occur. In the light of the social injustices that have been so openly displayed and constantly perpetrated, Adore Life reveals more concern in providing answers than to simply point the finger. And to achieve its purpose shakes, and sometimes breaks, emotionally the listener with a strong unwillingness to soften their hard hitting nature. Adore Life is an indispensable compass in this life clouded by fear, pain, and confusion, and Savages are probably the leanest and meanest band around these days.
Hardcore is, at its heart, a form built on catharsis, an expulsion of disgust and ire at injustice and ills, and anyone who has seen Oathbreaker live can testify that they embody this ethos. Rheia is, therefore, something of an anomaly as while it remains an emotionally impactful effort, its toning down of blackened aesthetics and focus on earnest intricacy marks a definite move towards maturity. They can chill the bones with a show of deliberate tenderness without first hacking through skin and flesh; they are a huge leap forward for a band who always sounded hungry for something greater, more audacious, and it’s enough to leave you stunned, thirsting for what they deliver next.
DAVID BOWIE Blackstar
egacy buys you many things. Fame, fortune, stability and a place in many memories for many, many years. If you are an artist – be it musician, actor, poet or painter – Legacy is important. Legacy is key. David Bowie leaves behind a legacy that is huge. Monolithic. Astronomical. And his talent has bought him many things – his fame secured him much. But. What it has never bought or given him is a free pass for his music. He has always been measured by the same yardstick and always been held to the same standard as anyone of his stature and his ability. So… though the sad events that transpired two days after this album’s release will always lend a certain amount of affection to this album. It would always have had to stand alone on its own merits to gain critical raves, something which – putting Bowies death to one side – I can happily attest to, that it deserves every single positive word written, every single raving word spread from mouth to ear about its brilliance and its lingering, haunting genius. Blackstar is a revelation of mood, emotion, honesty and musicianship. Its lyrics are a searing peephole into the mind of a man who knew he had little time left, had come completely to peace with his illness, and he poured his all into this incredible album. Blackstar concludes with Bowie wagging his finger to the fans – smiling at them coyly, but telling them that – with as much as he has given away on this record, as much as he has confessed, as much as he has allowed them into his mind – he always has the ability to draw the line, close the door and tell them clearly I CAN’T GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY. A subtle, impish finale to an album full of gentle and evocative moments. If The Next Day was – as I suspect – the record of a man who has found he is unwell, and coming to terms with who he is to himself, to his fans and to his family. Coming to terms with his life and his legacy – and his own past – Blackstar feels like the record of a man who realizes he has everything and nothing to lose. A man at ease with who he is and has always been. A man who knows his own path and mind, and who has decided to roll the dice one last time – knowing the game is fixed – and yet still gets to walk away with the whole pot. An absolutely stunning and jaw-dropping album. Far and away from the loss of the mastermind behind it, Blackstar is a fitting end – a fitting full stop – to the legend, legacy and career of one of the planets most defining artists. Every bit as good as his most famous work, every bit deserving of being the album that we recall when we remember him.
Directed by The Duffer Brothers
LOVE Directed by Judd Apatow What is love? Well, it can be defined and perceived in a million different ways and it’s something that’s daily used as a marketing tool to people consume and spend money on “it”. But then we have the brilliant minds of Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, Trainwreck), Lesley Arfin (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Awkward) and Paul Rust (Arrested Development) to create a TV show that literally shows what love is in its raw essence. It’s quirky, imperfect, amazing, unstable, delicious, exciting, terrible, and so on... Judd Apatow’s Love is an honest and exciting look to what love is and we can’t wait for season two, because this first one was just superb.
+ HONORABLE MENTIONS THE WALKING DEAD Created by: Frank Darabont ATLANTA Created by: Donald Glover HALT AND CATCH FIRE Created by: Christopher Cantwell, Christopher C. Rogers
here’s always something more in Stranger Things, perhaps is another nostalgia affair that goes deep into your heart. At a certain point we’re flirting with the past, with some of our favourite movies, characters or even unforgettable 80’s movie scenes. We could be so damn cliché and say that Stranger Things is a thrilling homage of 80’s sci-fi meets horror meets thriller movies, but The Duffer Brothers created something quite beautiful, rich and memorable. Stranger Things’ plot is quite simplistic and compelling, but pure entertainment. In fact, twin creators Matt and Ross Duffer pictured the 80’s so well, making it clear the type of coming-of-age nostalgia adventure films they’re honouring. Set in 80’s Indiana, where Will (Noah Schnapp), a young boy vanishes into thin air and the search for him includes friends, family and local police. Their search for answers, draws them into an extraordinary darker and sometimes frightening mystery involving top-secret government experiments, supernatural forces and one very strange little girl with powerful abilities. Stranger Things is nostalgia driven unique adventure, it’s easy to get lost in time when there are so many references to the films you grown up loving and admiring. From The Thing poster spotted on the wall, to the walkie-talkies, the kids travel around on bikes and we even get to see He-Man and the Masters of the Universe on TV. There are obvious references to Stand By Me, The Thing, Poltergeist, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and of course The Goonies, but there’s also a classic X-Files approach on it. Let’s say that The Duffer Brothers were clearly influenced by Spielberg, John Carpenter and Richard Donner among others, but what’s more impressive is the way that they somehow pay tribute to their influences, without being cheesy and random imitators. Stylish and fresh, even if they lose in originality, the Duffers replicate the sci-fi blockbusters family films of the 80’s with a perfect script, terrific performances and compelling characters. They captured the starting point, the essence and purity of the 80’s pop culture, how we had fun with simple things and how we can honestly say that we miss the 80’s. It was a pleasure for this writer living the 80’s and experiencing the 80’s – that can never be taken away from me.
BEST MOVIES & TV OF 2016
CERTAIN WOMEN Directed by Kelly Reichardt
SULLY Directed by Clint Eastwood
ARRIVAL Directed by Denis Villeneuve
BLUE JAY Directed by Alex Lehmann
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL Directed by Jeff Nichols
THE BIG SHORT Directed by Adam McKay
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS Directed by Tom Ford
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Directed by Matt Ross
Room is one of the most powerful movies of the last few years, part fairy-tale and part-thriller, a challenging and heartbreaking movie, well detailed and full of psychological precision. Brie Larson performance goes direct into your heart.
THE WITCH Directed by Robert Eggers
ROOM Directed by Lenny Abrahamson
CHI-RAQ Directed by Spike Lee
The Revenant raw and realistic approach was impressive, Iñárritu shot the film in sequence, using only natural light. The Revenant is an immersive and striking cinematic experience of the power of the human spirit to survive.
Chi-Raq represents a huge comeback of the great Spike Lee, probably his masterpiece in a frantic - sometimes erotic - empowering modern American black-on-black violence stylish tale.
THE REVENANT Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
THE HATEFUL EIGHT Directed by Quentin Tarantino
The Hateful Eight is not a movie about America’s bloody, paranoia and prejudice past, this is a movie about America’s present. And yes it’s “The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino,” you guys have to deal with that.
Robert Eggers manages to bring this kind of elegant ghoulish New England folktale to life which is something quite remarkable, especially when we think this is Eggers’ directorial debut.
DEADPOOL Directed by Tim Miller
Deadpool is a refreshing breath of fresh air from Marvel, a remarkably well made popcorn movie that harkens back to comic book adaptions from the 1990s such as Guyver: Dark Hero and Darkman.
AMERICAN HONEY Directed by Andrea Arnold
American Honey is a raw portrait of an US in pure decay, that goes deep down into one of the poorest and dirty part of the US. Andrea Arnold was bold enough to bring some serious issues to the table and demands your full attention.
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!! Directed by Richard Linklater
Everybody Wants Some!! is an evolutionary leap in today’s comedy. There’s this kind of slacker singular artistic vision that is able to bring immaturity, casual sex, drugs, flirtation, alcohol, mud wrestling, baseball, romance, stupidity and philosophical quests into this huge bowl of crazy awesome campus bromance. Everybody Wants Some!!, which takes place in 1980, as a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, Linklater’s ’70s influential high school feature. We might also add that is somehow a sequel to Boyhood, since it picks up at almost exactly moment the movie left off...
NEW NOISE HEY! WEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;RE NEW HERE, PLEASED TO MEET YOU... 40
here’s no way around, Creeper are one of the hottest new bands in the world right now, everything sounds epic and truly exciting and fresh. They are starting something quite special, no doubt about it. Somewhere between the theatrical My Chemical Romance’ side, AFI’s epic melodies and Misfits’ classic punk esque,
WHERE? London (UK) WHO? Dan Bratton, Oliver Burdett, Ian Miles, Will Gould, Sean Scott, and Hannah Greenwood RELEASE: Eternity, In Your Arms (Out March 24th on Roadrunner Records) FILE UNDER: AFI, Misfits, My Chemical Romance Creeper are still new here, but are already showing that they mean business. “We’ve worked to refine our sound, toying with elements of rock ‘n’ roll and blending this together with the 90s punk we grew up on. We hope that this first single will act as a striking message of our intent and ambition” - says Creeper vocalist Will Gould. Signing with Roadrunner in the summer of 2015, Creeper’s highly-anticipated debut album, Eternity, In Your
Arms, arrives on March 24th, both the album and the single were produced by the band’s regular collaborator Neil Kennedy at The Ranch, and then mixed by Neal Avron (Twenty One Pilots). “’Eternity, In Your Arms’ is a record, this time not only about being young and heartbroken, but about transition, about age and loss,” explains Gould. “Not only the loss of life, but the loss of ourselves. The pieces of the people we were.”
WHERE? Brooklyn NY (USA) WHO? Natasha Jacobs, Maciej Lewandowski, Daniel Siles RELEASE: S/T LP (Available on March 3rd via Tiny Engines) FILE UNDER: Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom, Jessica Pratt
helma is Natasha Jacobs haunting and chilling musical and artistic manifestation. The project itself began with Natasha as a solo endeavor but soon became a band when Daniel Siles, Maciej Lewandowsk joined. Sounding pure and spontaneously expressive, Thelma’s precious
harmony is moving, moody and disconcerting. Natasha Jacob’s work as a composer, vocalist and guitarist is utterly compelling, and along with the rest of the band everything matches in perfection, bringing new dynamics and new levels of intensity. The Brooklyn-based band’s forthcoming self-titled debut album arrives on February on Tiny Engines. So, if you’re into unconventional and minimal electronica with the fascinating Kate Bush vocal esque and lush folk song structures, this might be your new favourite band for 2017.
WHO? Cindy Lou Gooden, Ben Scherer, Andy Molholt, Julian Fader, Alejandro Salazar Dyer WHERE? Brooklyn (USA) RELEASE: Hey, It’s Me! EP (Out now on New Professor Music/Inflated Records) FILE UNDER: Bully, Speedy Ortiz, Palehound
ery Fresh is a project formed by Cindy Lou Gooden and her journey as a musician is quite impressive. Since she released last year her single “Clean Touch”, she recorded on Ava Luna’s last album, toured with Kino Kimino (Sonic Youth) and Leapling on bass, and prior to that, formed the all-female
Pavement cover band, Babement, with Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis. Very Fresh blossomed into a fully-realized band, set to release her new EP. Hey, It’s Me! is out now and it’s packed with honest and extremely melodic indie rock tunes reminding us the good times of the 90s. Hey, It’s Me! represents a transition to higher fidelity for Gooden and her band, which includes Julian Fader (Ava Luna), Andy Moholt (Laser Background), Ben Scherer (ex-Palehound) and Alejandro Salazar Dyer.
The Regrettes are another proof that age doesn’t mean absolutely nothing when it comes to be achieve greater things. The band’s frontwoman Lydia Night is a young girl with a kind heart and fierce mind, as well her bandsmates, and that’s what you will get when listening to their music. We talked with Lydia about The Regrettes debut album everything involving her and her band. Words: Andreia Alves
ou all met at a music program called “School Of Rock”. Tell me more about that and how you met. Genessa, Sage and Maxx have been going to “School Of Rock” for six years or something before I even got there and then I met all of them and we were friends when we were there for like a year, then we all left the “School Of Rock”. Two or three years later we all weirdly played a show together because the three of them were in a band together and I was in my own two-piece band and so we played all together. We started talking again and hanging out together, and then right after that show me and my drummer broke up our band. After that I needed a band and they were perfect for it. It just made the most sense. On that program you performed a Sleigh Bells’ song. Which one it was and how much did Sleigh Bells shaped you as a musician? It was “Infinity Guitars”. [laughs] They were one of my favorite bands for sure in middle school and they’re still one of my favorite bands. Alexis
Krauss is just a badass and I’m just so excited to finally see them live because I wanted to see them live for so long and now I get to see them every night on tour is going to be amazing and I can’t wait. Yeah that’s right, you will be on tour with Sleigh Bells, which is super awesome. All the shows are gonna be the biggest shows and the biggest audiences that we have ever gone to play and that’s so much fun. Every audience kind of have upsides and downs and playing for audiences like these is so fun because you get to see also so much energy. It’s gonna be amazing and I’m so excited. I’ve never been to Seattle and I’m excited about it. What other bands did inspire you as well? I’m a huge 50s and 60s girl. I love everything about it, except the sexism, homophobia... But music wise, I feel like it was such a real time for music that it is so timeless. I would say Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Sam Cooke, and more 60s I would say The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Supremes and I could go on... But then also, I’m super inspired
by the 90s Riot Grrrl movement like Bikini Kill, Hole, L7... There are so many bands and there’s so much good music out there that is hard to pick. Those are some of the bands that inspired me becoming a musician. You are really young and you already have such an amazing presence and attitude towards to what you want to do with your music. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what led you to music? When I was like 5 years old, my dad took me to a The Donnas concert and seeing those girls on stage being so badass I was so inspired and I was like, “Damn, that’s what I need to be doing.” For my sixth birthday I got my first guitar and started taking lessons the very next day and haven’t stopped taking guitar lessons. My guitar teacher is really big on songwriting and teaching me through songwriting about the guitar. She’s also a singer and so I learned how to sing and write songs and everything through her. I started my first band with some friends when I was 7 years old and I wrote all the music and every song was like a minute long. It was cool because I learned a lot and
INTERVIEW // THE REGRETTES
WHERE? Los Angeles (USA) WHO? Lydia Night, Genessa Gariano, Sage Chavis, Maxx Morando RELEASE: Feel Your Feelings Fool (Available on January 13 via Warner) FILE UNDER: The Distillers The Ramones, Courtney Barnett
I was very much of a leader. I pretty much told everyone what to do in that scenario because we were all so young and nobody knew what they were doing. I was part of that for four years and then after that I met the other girl who I have started a twopiece band and lasted for three years. How do you usually approach your songwriting process and what does inspire you generally for your lyrics? I use songs as my form of a diary because I’m much rather put it into music than just sitting and writing it because it’s part of my healing process for different things and actually making into a song and then performing it or recording it. Just turning it into something big can help others heal is how I get through things and how I become stronger. I think it helps writing music. My writing process is constantly changing, like sometimes I’ll start by having a lyric or a melody, or I’ll just sit down and figure something out with my guitar like writing chords. The first song you released with The Regrettes was “A Living Human
Girl”, which is such an awesome song! What’s the story behind it? Just high school and high school girls. The song was written when I was a freshman in high school and I had no idea how insecure everyone was and I was starting to get so insecure. It’s about people who are insecure that put you down to make themselves feel better for a tiny bit and then it starts to get to you and it makes you more insecure. I also have so many friends with eating disorders and who really hate themselves and I was like “Oh my god, this is so depressing and horrible!” I didn’t know how to get out of that, it was just like a horrible cycle that was happening and I wrote that song because it was just something that I needed to say and I needed to hear. It was out of point when I was so insecure and I wrote that from a stronger person point of view that I wasn’t yet, but it helped become that stronger person and now I can sing that song and actually believe in those things.
was a five-week process and one of the weeks was just rehearsing in the studio and also pre-production stuff. The next four weeks was all live-tracking, we did the entire album to tape and it was all done pretty much in a room, we were there the four of us and we just played it live. For the most of the time when you record, you do everything separately. You do the drums, the guitars, the vocals and whatever, but we didn’t do that and I think you can hear it on the album because you can feel our energy. It was just amazing and so much fun.
I really love the honesty and transparency you convey with your music, and you don’t give a damn if people will judge you about what you sing. Do you ever feel any kind of pressure when it comes to write such open and honest songs or is it just become natural for you? I think it is just natural... I mean, all my songs have their own meaning to me and to others, but I’m not scared to be straight up to people.
You formed the band last year and since then you are having such an impressive and totally worthy praise. So far, what was the highlight moment of The Regrettes? I think my highlight was the first time that we were on Rookie and it was so cool because I’ve grown up reading Rookie. But just in general, the best thing that happened was the first time that someone came up to me after one of our shows and was pretty much like “Hey, I love ‘A Living Human Girl’. It’s helping me getting through my depression and everything that’s going on right now. Thank you!” I was just like so taken back by it and this is why we’re here, this is why we’re doing this. This is like what this is all for, it’s for other people, you know?
You released a video for the song “Hey Now”. What can you tell me about the concept behind it and its connection to the song? I’ve always wanted to make a video that was like an old 50s or 60s talk show. That time was just a fun period and everything, but also there was so much hate, so much violence and so many things going on back then that I didn’t want to brush over and act like it was irrelevant and that still go on until today but just in different forms. I feel like it would have been way worse if we made the video and then didn’t touch on any of the stuff that was going on back then and make it seem like that time period was all pretty and fluffy because it wasn’t in a lot of ways. Nowadays there’s still so much hate in the world that isn’t gone and we have to deal with that and try to find solutions for it. I think that’s why we wanted to touch on that stuff. You’re going to release your debut full-length in 2017. How was the creative and recording process for it? It was amazing. It was pretty much like summer camp with your best friends. It
How was it like to write with the other bandmates? We actually just started doing that and it’s great. It works so well. You don’t always find people that are great musicians and also really easy to write and work with, but I just love to have them because we just have a really great connection with each other and we can write pretty easily.
Besides The Regrettes, are you still in school? I am, I’m home schooled. I was in school up until like the beginning of this year and then I started to do home school just because being in school was really tricky for me, like miss a bunch of school and then come back and have to make it up. But being home schooled, I can get all that before I go on tour and it’s awesome. What do you love to do besides music? I actually really love to cook. I’ve been learning a lot about cooking and it’s so fun. What else? [pause] Mainly music, cooking, spending time with my friends and my family.
FEEL YOUR FEELINGS FOOL ARRIVES ON JANUARY 13 ON WARNER
WHERE? Leeds (UK) WHO? Naomi, Ben, James, Steph RELEASE: “I Don’t Mind” single (Out now via Beech Coma) FILE UNDER: Pixies, Perfect Pussy, Kid Wave
eing one of the bands that we have already introduced to you guys, it feels so damn accurate to include Bruising on our ones to watch for so many reasons. First of all, they’re awesome. Second, their music is super awesome, and third but not least, we can’t stop listening to their songs.
They blend noise with pop and it can be as sweet as soar. Their latest single was “I Don’t Mind” (out now via Beech Coma) and backed by B-side “Rest In Peace Kurt Donald Cobain (19671994)”. “‘I don’t mind’ is a sweet phrase,” says the band’s Naomi Baguley. “It’s supportive and comforting, not as passive as it seems. Whatever you are going through or whatever you need to be – I don’t mind.” Once you get to know them, you will get really stoked with their tunes. It’s just super addictive and awesome. Let’s see what’s in store for them in 2017, a fulllength would be really great!
WHERE? London (UK) WHO? Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go, Bella Podpadec RELEASE: EP01 (Out now via Cannibal Hymns) FILE UNDER: Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Cheap Trick
amed after a 1953 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, Dream Wife is comprised of Rakel Mjöll (lead vocals), Alice Go (guitar, vocals), Bella Podpadec (bass, vocals). They were studying fine art and visual art at college in Brighton a year ago when they had the concept of
forming a fake girl band as an art project for a gallery exhibition. Eventually they wrote a few songs, recorded them, made a mockumentary inspired by Spinal Tap, and performed at the opening of the exhibition. From a fake band, they became an actual real band. The trio started doing gigs around England, writing some more songs, and released last March their EP01, which has plenty of great and charmingly 90’s grungy pop tunes. Their most recent single is the energetic and irresistible track “FUU” featuring a guest rap appearance from Fever Dream.
“The best music emerges from true emotions that a songwriter feels compelled to express.” I’m Glad It’s You is a band out of California with the ability to create this nostalgic yet dynamic, introspective of 90’s alt-rock gem sound like. We caught up singer/guitarist Kelley Bader to get to know more about The Things I Never Say, their ace debut album and much more… Words: Mark McConville // Photo: Zach Miller
ou guys have been making waves since your inception. Your debut album is out now, and it’s an emotional and thrilling contribution that signifies your intent as a band. That intent seems to stem from razor-sharp and evocative lyrics that tell a tale. Is there a unique way that you guys write, or is it free-flowing? Yeah, I’d say we have a specific writing style, although it may not be very unique. I do the songwriting, and for the most part it happens as it comes up. I’ll get an idea or a theme at some point and spend a bunch of time staring at a notebook trying to put lines together. I guess it’s less on the free flowing side, I try really hard to write within a pattern or a form that compliments the subject matter. Someone mentioned to me recently
this idea of writing with an economy of words, and that’s something I’m trying to incorporate more in our recent songs.
Music from genres across the board definitely influence different pieces of the songs, even if it’s not the strictly the musical composition.
The first single from the record “Keepsake” is a guitar driven, riff extravaganza, that certainly edges into the alternative rock bracket. Do other genres influence your work? Totally! To be completely honest, the structure of that song in particular is really just something you could see in a hardcore song. Start fast, hit a break, pick up a two-step beat. It’s definitely not a hardcore song, but I think that idea could have come from that. And I’d say even within and alternative or indie genre there have been a wide range of influences that are really diverse from each other.
The Things I Never Say is a going to be an album that many will appreciate and reflect on. Your music is heartfelt and truly engaging, brimming with notes of disenchantment. As a band, do you feel the constraints of disillusionment? As the lyrics dig deep into personal issues and emotion. If I understand this question correctly, I think a lot of the album is actually a push against disillusionment. In regards to feeling disillusioned with certain social patterns or feelings of apathy I would say the songs try to push against those things. I definitely relate to the disenchanted comment, but I think that
INTERVIEW // I’M GLAD IT’S YOU out, albeit a rather blank idea sometimes, mostly a structure and a plan. Then everyone will throw in their pieces and it’ll feel like, “yes that’s exactly what I saw happening,” or “that’s way better than what I saw happening.” But I’ll always go into it with a vision for the song and then as we collaborate it actually picks up the characteristics it needed to encapsulate the feeling I envisioned. So the first part is very natural, and this would be the light bulb moment, I guess.
WHERE? California (USA) WHO? Kelley, TJ, Evan, Matt RELEASE: The Things I Never Say (Out now via 6131 Records) FILE UNDER: Tiny Moving Parts, Dowsing, You Blew It!
the tone and the associated topics come up in the album just to call attention to the fact that it’s not where I want the plane to land, if that makes sense. In other words, it’s exactly that disenchantment that I’m trying to push against. Emotion is a prime part of your sound. But, the instrumentals are equally impressive. For example, opening track “The Things We Lose”, is directed with brilliantly executed guitar strokes. The song opens the album with intent and authority too. Does the creation of song come naturally to you as musicians, or is like a light-bulb goes off when you throw down your contribution to the cause? I think it’s more on the natural side! I’ll usually have a full song idea laid
You’ve been described as a 90’s alt rock band by many media outlets. Is this tag relevant? Did you want your sound to go down that route? I’m actually not sure to what extent it’ll be relevant by everyone’s understanding of 90’s alt! I hear it a lot in regards to the way we intentionally went after some tones and sonic characteristics of some 90’s albums. But I don’t know if everyone will find connections between the songs’ compositions and other 90’s alt classics. Personally, I think the tag has relevance and I do know the way we play as musicians is influenced by those bands we love, but sometimes I wonder if that tag is applied because we don’t really share the same song structure or general sounds of your classic emo bands to be an emo band. And we’re not punk enough to be a punk band, and admittedly a bit too sentimental. And maybe for some people the middle ground is 90’s alt? But either way, when I hear Evans riffs, to me at least there is an unmistakable 90’s influence in them. And that was more or less intentional, it’s simply just what he loves to play. You’re a rising band that has bundles of potential. The album is an endearing listen and it will most definitely grant you more fans. How do you guys feel about getting noticed more? Is it exciting? To a certain extent it is exciting. There’s definitely something really encouraging about hearing someone’s positive response to the songs, but the idea of attention itself doesn’t necessarily do a whole lot for us. I think we’re pretty careful about not incorporating that into our motivation as a band and I think most people would agree that that’s where things tend to get messy for bands. Most people would and maybe should welcome attention, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Obviously if you’re a band putting out music and playing you probably want people to hear your songs, and it’s great. But it’s when getting noticed plays a greater role in your intent and motivation that things get a real slippery. At least we feel that way. Most people we know in the DIY community feel the same.
Honestly we do love the encouragement and feedback that comes from the songs being exposed to people, however modestly that is, but actually writing the songs was the original intent and motive and that’s remained unchanged and we’re intent on keeping it that way. Do you have a clear plan of where you want to go next, or are you taking it day by day? We have a direction in mind, however broad it may be, but taking it day by day is the game plan. The direction is pretty much to get better at what we’re already doing, which again I know is annoyingly broad. Keep writing songs we like, keep playing shows and booking tours, make more friends, and build meaningful memories are all things we are trying to grow and keep going. As mentioned before the lyrical content is emotive. Is there a main songwriter in the group, or do you all add your own slant? Yeah, I do all the songwriting. But I always get feedback before we go with anything for certain. I’ve always shown them what I’ve worked out and always tried to incorporate their opinions and advice, which have proven incredibly helpful. Is there a tour on the horizon to support the record? And have you played the new songs in a live environment? Yes, most definitely! Actually a few tours in the works. But the nearest tour will be a West Coast taking place in December-January. Most of the songs on the new record have been played live. A couple of them have been in our set for a very long time actually. The sky is the limit for I’m Glad It’s You. Are you planning on being a band for a long time? Do you feel that there’s a good bond and closeness within the band? Yeah, absolutely. We are trying to do this for as long as we can and get the most from it that we can. Yeah, I see and feel a pretty strong bond between all of us. We all have related goals and ideals and are motivated by similar things. I guess that’s just a long way of saying we’re friends. “We have a lot in common,” might be simpler. Personally I feel that these people play an integral role in my life. But I mean we’ve been friends for a long time, with and without the band. And I have no doubt we would still be without it.
THE THINGS I NEVER SAY IS OUT NOW ON 6131 RECORDS
WHO? Eva Grace Hendricks, Spencer Fox, Dan Shure, Sam Hendricks WHERE? New York (USA) RELEASE: Soft Serve EP (Out now via Father/Daughter Records) FILE UNDER: Diet Cig, Mitski, Speedy Ortiz
harly Bliss born from a serendipitous moment between Eva Grace Hendricks and Spencer Fox. They were introduced by their mutual friend Dan Shure. During their senior year of high school, they started making music together
and ended up going to college in the same city, and that’s how they started Charly Bliss. Dan and Sam, Hendricks’ older brother, solidified the lineup. Their chemistry is unique and their bubbly grunge tunes are just too damn good. In 2013 they put out their first EP called A Lot To Say and then in 2014 the Soft Serve EP. Most recently, Charly Bliss released a song called “Turd,” with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, and is just phenomenal and truly inspiring. Go listen!
08 February: Sweden, Stockholm
24 February: Germany, Munich
10 February: Denmark, Copenhagen
25 February: Germany, Berlin
12 February: Germany, Hamburg
26 February: Germany, Frankfurt
13 February: Holland, Amsterdam
28 February: Germany, DĂźsseldorf
14 February: France, Paris
01 March: Belgium, Brussels
17 February: France, Strasbourg
04 March: UK, Nottingham
18 February: Switzerland, Basel
05, 06 March: UK, Manchester
20 February: Italy, Milan
08, 09, 10 March: UK, London
21 February: France, Lyon
17 March: UK, Cardiff
23 February: Austria, Vienna
I See You European Tour
BACK IN TH
HE GROOVE Words: Teddie Taylor // Photos: Danin Drahos
In 2003, Superjoint released what would be their last album for 13 years. In the time that followed, the drugs disappeared, new projects were formed and the controversies continued. Underneath it all, though, there was a never fulfilled third album waiting to be written. After reuniting at Housecore Horror Film Festival in 2014, Superjoint has now returned with Caught Up in the Gears of Application and shown that, in spite of the years, they are still as mad as they were over a decade ago. We talked to Kevin Bond and co-founder and Jimmy Bower about the new material, New Orleans and the new influence of sobriety.
t’s been thirteen years since the last album. What’s the most noticeable difference between where everything left off and now? Jimmy Bower: Well for one thing we’re not all loaded on chemicals anymore, you know? When Superjoint broke up, well not broke up, but when we stopped doing stuff we were so fucked up. It definitely makes us a lot better not being like that. That’s just one of the aspects. I think it brings out the full potential of what we were capable of. Also, you have Blue (Joey Gonzalez, drummer) and Steve (Steven Taylor, bassist), our new members, so that’s a little different too — in a good way. Do you think the absence of drugs has helped or changed how you make music? Jimmy: Most definitely. When you’re loaded, you tend to accept things that aren’t right. I mean, it’d be like, “Dude, that sounded killer,” and the one dude that wasn’t loaded was like, “That sucked.” You get your sense of judgment back. Once you become clear headed, you’re more able to do anything that you do better. It’s not just music. It’s every aspect of life. Things are a lot simpler. No stress. Stuff like that. With the time gap and the two new guys, did it feel like a new band at any point? Or did it feel like just picking up where you left off? Jimmy: It’s funny you say that, because the two guys, Joey and Steve, they fit so well that it really does feel like we just picked up where we left off. It’s been interesting. I mean, obviously, to me, the style of songs that we were going for when we talked about writing this record and the style they really came out to be is a little different, in my opinion. But I think it’s a really good progression. I know you’re a big Black Flag fan and I read that you listened to them a lot while writing this record, which I think ended up showing. What about their sound did you want to
bring to your sound? Jimmy: People don’t realize this, but back in the day when we were touring I was the weakest link in the band because of my drug problem. Just being able to play better and just concentrate on trying to play better has brought me up to par with everybody else in the band because, it’s like, I’m not that great of a guitar player. So when it comes to playing a lot of this faster stuff and all that it’s just been trying to concentrate on being the best player that I can be. Down has released music kind of consistently over the years and now, with this back together, what sets them apart sound-wise in your mind? Jimmy: To me, Down is more of the cliché New Orleans sound. The real bluesy, Southern rock kind of fuse thing. And Superjoint is more grab your fuckin’ throat, heavy, heavy stuff. Obviously faster. Philip’s vocals are a lot different. In Down he’s more sing-singing and in Superjoint it’s more, I guess, like his old Pantera voice where he would scream a lot. Both bands, to me, are night and day different. As for tracks when you were recording, is there a certain one from the new album that you guys spent a lot more time on? Jimmy: A couple of them I had a little trouble writing and stuff. For the most part, the writing process for this new record was pretty fast because two of the members live out of town, so we really had to utilize the time that we had when we got together. So it actually went pretty fast. It could be for that reason and also the fact that we were really excited about doing another record, as opposed to some band that’s on their fifth record and they’re like, “Oh, dude what’re we gonna do?” We had more ideas than we knew what to do with. We actually had a lot of riffs that, like in 2004 when we were gonna start to write a new record, we had a bunch of riffs that we never used. Kevin Bond: We went back to them and made it a whole lot better. Jimmy: That’s that insignificant voice that I was talking about. Kevin: Yeah, you didn’t hear that. Jimmy: You can tell we love each other, man. Yeah, if you don’t insult the people you love... Kevin: I voted for him for President today, that’s how much I love him. Jimmy: Thank you, I didn’t vote for you. [laughs] Sorry about that.
No, you’re good! [laughs] Hopefully this is a different wording of a question you get asked all of the time. After the Dimebash thing, I know you guys are super excited about this record, but was there ever a time when anyone was hesitant about proceeding with this project or were you doing it no matter what? Kevin: Doing it no matter what. Jimmy: Yeah, you know, we’ve been excited about this record coming out. No matter what. That’s in the past. We’re finally playing our record release party on the 12th (November) in Dallas and the record comes out on the 11th. For us, that just means that we get to go on tour and start really pushing the record, which is the fun part for me. Well, why isn’t the release in New Orleans? Jimmy: Why wasn’t the release thing in New Orleans? Yeah, that’s not an interview question. I was just curious. Jimmy: Nah, it’s a good question. You’d figure it would be. The place we’re playing is a real cool club. A real nice club. The only time we played New Orleans since we got back together was with Danzig. Kevin: We played House of Blues, too. Jimmy: Oh, yeah, we played a headlining show at House of Blues. But I’m sure we’ll be playing New Orleans soon enough. I’m sure you will have announced a tour when this is published, but when do you think you guys are going to announce a big tour? Jimmy: It’s pretty much definite we’re going on tour in January. Oh, very soon! Jimmy: Yeah, yeah, because we’re getting old. The bands that you’re in are iconic in New Orleans. I don’t think that I’ve been to Siberia and not seen an EYEHATEGOD shirt. How has the city or the South in general influenced your sound? Jimmy: Big time. I think a lot of the bands from New Orleans aren’t afraid to bend strings and maybe write with melody, even if it is a nasty band. There’s been a lot of great bands from New Orleans that have, to me, in my eyes, done a lot of hard work to help get that sound out. I’ve always thought Superjoint was a really unique sound amongst all the other New Orleans bands. Not saying we’re
INTERVIEW SUPERJOINT INTERVIEW //// OATHBREAKER
“Once you become clear headed, you’re more able to do anything that you do better. It’s not just music. It’s every aspect of life. Things are a lot simpler. No stress. Stuff like that.” doing something that nobody isn’t... It doesn’t really sound like you could pinpoint it to New Orleans. Like you said, it’s not cliché. Jimmy: Yeah, it’s not like the bluesy type shit. You’ve got bands like Soilent Green and Goatwhore. I’m just talking about the bands that tour a lot, you know. There’s an incredible punk scene in New Orleans. I definitely think just being from New Orleans and seeing bands growing up, Mardi Gras... There’s groove. More groove in the music than, say, a band from Illinois would
have or something. They don’t know nothin’ about making people dance. We’re very proud to be from New Orleans because it is a unique place to be from if you’re in a band. I just think you have a little bit more of an edge on the influences. You should be! I read that there’s new Down possibly coming out soon and I know you’re still working on solo stuff, so what else is in the future? Jimmy: Hopefully start writing some Down stuff sooner than later, just cause we still have two EPs to do. Me and Kevin are doing Clearlight again. Kevin’s
in Clearlight now and, since Joey passed away, we had always talked, me and Joey, about doing double drums in Clearlight. So when Joey passed away and we got Aaron, Aaron Hill, and talking with him we’ve been kind of making that dream come true. Clearlight, we’ve got 3 or 4 new songs and, yeah, excited about getting something going with that. That’s a real fun band. A real fun live band to play live and stuff. It’s more of a jam band kind of deal.
CAUGHT UP IN THE GEARS OF APPLICATION IS OUT NOW ON HOUSECORE RECORDS
Slowcoaches are loud, and despite what their name might have you think, fast. And furious. The London-based outfit have been playing their hearts out for a few years now, establishing themselves as a gloriously oxymoronic part of the UK DIY scene with their personal brand of punk realism. After smaller releases like a split EP with Feature and more recently, a limited edition single, comes their much-anticipated debut album Nothing Gives. Immediately following the release theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re heading off on a headline UK tour thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bound to be mental. But before anything happens, we got to ask singer and bassist Heather Perkins a few questions.
FAST & URGENT Words: Antigoni Pitta // Photos: Jonny Davies
ou have been around for a few years now. How does it feel to finally have an LP under your belt? It feels a bit emotional. We’ve been working on all these songs together for a while and without trying to sound dramatic, me and Matty have been though a lot together at the same time. We’ve travelled lots, had some really good times and some really low times and a lot of people have come in and out of our lives. This feels like a good way to kind of ‘close a chapter’ as people say. Personally, I kind of feel like some of the stuff on this album is stuff that’s been hanging over me for some time and to finally see it pressed on to vinyl will somehow mean that I can move forwards, musically and personally. Nothing Gives sounds decidedly cleaner and ‘bigger’ than everything you’ve done so far. What was the recording process like? Initially, we tried recording with someone we hadn’t used before but we just didn’t feel comfortable so we went to our friend’s trusty DIY hub, Sound Savers in Homerton to record. We recorded some songs live and some we tracked. There are a lot of layers of guitar on the record and Matty spent a while getting that lovely balance between totally fuzzed out and a really fat sound. We have a very no-nonsense attitude to recording we go in and get it done and we don’t try to filter out imperfections too much. We sent the stems to Ben Hirschfield in LA to mix and he pretty much just got what we wanted right off. We wanted a really fat sound that wasn’t too polished, or poppy. I think he’s got it just perfect. What are some of your favourite songs from the album, and why? I love “Thinkers” because it has like 3 lines of lyrics but I feel it says a lot and I can get real sassy playing that one live. “54” is always fun to play because everyone just seems to love that song and it usually gets a bit nuts. “Surface Observations” is pretty fun because the chorus sounds like an oi band or something. What’s striking about the album is that it’s fun, and it makes you want to jump around, but when you listen
to the lyrics there’s this underlying sense of existential dread. Was it intentional, and would you say it reflects the reality of being a twentysomething today? What were some of the main themes you explored? I think it was totally unintentional but listening back to it it makes so much sense that it’s turned out that way. The lyrics are really dark and it wasn’t intentional at all. I rarely think about lyrics. I usually wait and wait and listen to the demo of the track over and over they just kind of come. It has to be the right moment, where something is on my mind or affecting me and at the right moment I just get a light bulb and I’ve got it down in a few minutes. I think a lot of the album is about relationships with other people and with each other. There’s stuff about struggling to get a job. Then getting a job and hating it. About the DIY scene. About people’s perceptions of women in music. Mental health issues. Hate, love, indifference. There’s so much in there. Most young creatives nowadays are forced to work ‘real jobs’ in order to support their creative ambitions. Where do Slowcoaches fit in all this? Do you even find yourselves questioning if it’s worth it to go on writing, recording and gigging while trying to hold a job that’s just there to pay the rent? We’ve always had ‘real’ jobs ever since we started. It’s something that really drives me. I don’t want to work behind a desk. I absolutely hate it. It drains me emotionally and creatively. It’s such a polarised life. I sit in front of a computer all day and then I go play a show and I know none of the guys I work with are able to comprehend that. Then I come back to work and I just feel like ‘the girl in the office’ (I am the only woman in my office). It sucks. But it’s risky not to work alongside your music isn’t it. Because the world isn’t down with you just being a creative. It isn’t structured to support that. You can get lucky and have your parents to fund your music like some people do but once that’s got old or not working you’re screwed. You’re like thirtysomething with no experience of anything except playing music and no one gives a shit that you were in a band when they’re looking at your CV! Since the band got started, you have been very active in DIY circles across the UK, playing house shows as well as landmark venues like Power Lunches, now permanently closed. Incidentally, the first time I saw you play was at a warehouse party in Hackney Wick! In your opinion, how
important is a strong DIY community for bands, both those just starting out and those that have been around for a while? It’s crucial. We got our first London Show from Andrew Milk (Shopping). Shit, just realised I forgot to thank him on the record. He gave us a show at Power Lunches - no questions asked and it just went from there. I think it’s also important not to get too bogged down in a scene. I’ve seen scenes develop beliefs and values that are actually destructive to people’s personal and musical development. I think it’s about finding a balance and being true to yourself and your own feelings and morals. Not trying to seek points from people. In the last few years London has lost some of its independent venues while it’s become harder for new ones to open thanks to irrational license laws. Being from Leeds, what has your own experience of this phenomenon been? Do you think it’s nationwide or is it more of a London thing? I’m actually from Nottingham but lived in Leeds for 5 years where we started the band. There’s nothing much to say except that it sucks and it’s definitely not London centric. I just read an article the other day about spaces like Hope House and Temple of Boom being under threat in Leeds. Hope House was a practice space and gig space without which we’d never have been able to afford to practice. And Temple of Boom is my favourite DIY space in the UK. It’s being taken over by big businesses and people building flats. It’s becoming harder and harder to just find your own space. Just living is hard enough. I just got kicked out of my flat in London because they suddenly put the rent up. In April, you took to Twitter to call out a sexist audience member that confronted you (Heather) after a gig in Liverpool. How often do you face gender-based discrimination and how do you deal with it - personally and as a band? I experience gender discrimination every day. I hate to say I actually feel it’s getting worse. It’s been in the media a lot lately too and I kind of feel like recent events have made me and others feel very angry and very sad because it implies that women are lesser human beings. I am happy to say that gigs and music is one place I find less sexism but it definitely still occurs. I’ve had guys shouting at me after shows asking me why I’m so pissed off on stage, I’ve had guys giving me ‘constructive criticism’ after shows that they definitely wouldn’t offer to a male band member and I’ve been
INTERVIEW // FRANK IERO// AND THE PATIENCE INTERVIEW SLOWCOACHES
“I think a lot of the album is about relationships with other people and with each other. There’s stuff about struggling to get a job. Then getting a job and hating it. About the DIY scene. About people’s perceptions of women in music. Mental health issues. Hate, love, indifference. There’s so much in there.” groped whilst playing. But music is definitely generally a safer environment than being at work for example. I tend to deal with it in a very reactionary way. I’m quite vocal and I always call things out straight away. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I do whatever feels right at the time and if I’m angry then I’ll make sure people know about it. As a band, Matty tends to leave me to it and that’s fine because you don’t always want to make it a focus of a show. If something happens, it happens but we move on and don’t let it define the gig or whatever. More and more musicians are starting to react to and actively point out sexism at their gigs and on social media. What is the cost of bands supporting feminism
in order to ensure a safe and all-inclusive space within their audience? I don’t think there’s a cost if you feel that you’re doing what’s right. Kim Gordon wrote that Sonic Youth “never operated as an indie band”, meaning they never put her, the girl, center stage just to sell the band. In Slowcoaches there seems to be the same dynamic, but were you ever made to feel that being a ‘girl in a band’ is still seen as a novelty by others? How have your bandmates supported you when faced with this kind of attitude? I’ve always been really conscious of not being like ‘the girl’ in the band but then lately I’ve realised that that has actually prevented me from pushing myself forward and being proud of the
fact that I actually front this band. I think I worry that people will think I’m being self-important or I’m a ‘selling point’ but there are so many women musicians around these days that it’s not special anymore and so I just feel like so what? What’s the biggest misconception people have about Slowcoaches? That we’re from Leeds. Finally, are you excited for your album release? What can we expect from your upcoming tour? Yeah, we’re so excited. We’ve been waiting a long time for this record to come out. You can expect a lot of noise and hopefully a lot of mosh.
NOTHING GIVES IS OUT NOW ON LEISURE & DISTRICT
If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re panning for a new punk band to adore, Super Unison are pure gold. Vocalist/bassist Mehgan Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Neill Pennie, guitarist Kevin DeFranco and drummer Justin Renninger produce a hard-hitting, empowering, complex sound that nods briefly to its predecessors while moving forward to a scene of its own. We sat down with the band and talked about writing their first album, Auto, confronting feelings and moshing to Korn.
EMPOWERING & NFRONTATIONAL
Words & Photos: Teddie Taylor
his is your debut album on Deathwish Inc. As a band you’re pretty young, but you’ve all been involved in other projects and you’ve worked with Jack Shirley before, so was this kind of an easy record to put together? Meghan O’Neil Pennie: Kevin’s very prolific, so I think that we had a lot of material to work with. It was easy in that sense and working with Jack was really easy. Kevin DeFranco: People do albums differently, like a traditional band that has a lot of money will go into a studio for a month or two at a time and they’ll write the album in the studio. We did this full-length in like three days. Meghan: Two and a half. Justin Renninger: Didn’t we track everything in a day? Meghan: We tracked everything in a day and a half and then I did a day for vocals. Kevin: Even a band like our label mates Oathbreaker — they had three weeks booked in the studio. Every band has a different process. Meghan: We went in there pretty ready to go. Kevin: I had the record completely written already. Front to back. The way I envisioned it was like, “This is the opener song, this is the closer song.” I pretty much had it written in the form, completely as a flowing record already. So, all we had to go in there and do was record. It’s crazy. I think some of the songs on the record are one-take. Honesty, they’re my favorites. Meghan: Some of the vocals, too. Not all of them, but there was a lot where we were like, “Okay! Next!” Kevin: I would say 40% of the record is one-take vocal and guitar shit. That’s how Jack works and that’s kind of how we work. We would record a song and then look around and Jack would be like, “You feel comfortable with that?” and we were like, “Yeah”, and [Jack]’s like, “Alright that song’s done. Move along.” Meghan: We did kind of bang it out. Justin: He set up super quick, too. I’ve done records where it’s like 8 hours of getting snare sound. Jack’s just like, “Oh, cool.” Meghan: “You like that? Okay, next!” Kevin: So basically the process was more before the recording. Getting everything really, really super tight so by the time you go in there it’s second
nature. You can bang something out in one take and feel completely comfortable with it. Pretty much every song went like that unless you made some type of flub. And even minor flubs, you can copy and paste. Unless you did something major, everything was onetake, that’s it. That was this record. That’s not the approach I want to take on the next one. I don’t know if that’s part of the question. (Drawing comparisons to Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, we talked about the two groups—Super Unison feel much more akin to Sleater-Kinney.) Who are some artists who inspired you all early on? Kevin: I’ll at least take this question [laughs]. From the beginning definitely Nirvana really inspired me to pick up a guitar. My uncle was really into Nirvana. I have a really young family and my uncle was a young person when the whole grunge thing was going on. He gave me my first guitar and also my first Nirvana CD and then would teach me to play those songs. I would lock myself in the room teaching myself to play those songs. And from there, it was looking at Nirvana’s liner notes and seeing the bands they thanked. They were thanking bands like The Wipers, Melvins, stuff like that. So I’d check out that stuff. That was my young guitar playing. The stuff that really inspired this record is what I’ve been listening to for years. My music taste really hasn’t changed in the last, I want to say 15 years. The bands that really inspire me are from Olympia in the 90s. Unwound is probably one of my favorite bands ever. Polvo. Just really unique, weird guitar stuff. Stuff that stands out. I want to use the word discordant. I like simple, straightforward punk, but the stuff that has caught my ear is a mix of straightforward punk but also has a very weird... Sonic Youth has some weird tuning. Anything interesting that’s a little bit different. Almost unsettling to the ear. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to the band Polvo very much. They were weird, Sonic Youth-esque and a lot of it is unsettling. There’s nothing straightforward about it. Some of the strings are tuneddown to an ungodly level where you can hear the strings shaking on the recording but the others are tuned perfectly and ringing out nicely. It’s a dichotomy of chaos and beauty at the same time. That really appeals to me. I try to do stuff like that. Play a real heavy chord, but put a fucking really watery chorus pedal over it. It seems like it shouldn’t be. This really heavy part, but it has this pretty pedal over it. I like weird dichotomies of things that shouldn’t coexist, kind of
chaotic. That’s what really inspires me. Shouldn’t work, but it works. Kevin: Exactly, music that gives you anxiety. So, in Punch you were at 1,000%. Is it ever hard to dial back? Meghan: [Laughs] No, it’s not. I know some people I’ve talked to are uncomfortable doing the lighter stuff. Are you like that? Meghan: I think that 10 years ago when I started playing music, if I had started singing the way I do now I would’ve been really uncomfortable and never able to do it in front of people. Like, I could only sing in my car or when I’m alone kind of thing. Doing 10 years of screaming in front of people has made me more comfortable and made it possible for me to even sing cleaner. I just feel more comfortable as a performer and trying out different things and I just want to continue to do that. Try different stuff. The “You Don’t Tell Me” lyrics — I feel like that’s something every woman relates to. I don’t know if you want to talk about it, but was there a certain event that inspired that? Meghan: Well, there was. There was a day when I got really frustrated with being belittled by an older dude for no reason. But the offense itself is so minor. It’s those little micro aggressions that add up. So was that particularly horrible, the way that guy talked to me? Yes and no. But when it happens all the time and adds up. That was just the day it boiled over. And so it makes me think of a particular instance. I process a lot of things through lyrics and it’s a good way to almost empower yourself. So maybe in that moment you can scream at the guy or whatever you want to do or tell him to fuck off — depends on the situation. To be able to write it and process it and tell other women, yeah, we all go through this. It fucking sucks to be underestimated and belittled and we’re better than that. For me, I’m like maybe that guy doesn’t know my deal or what I’m capable of, but I do and that’s good enough for me. Has it always been important that your music means something? Listening to the album it felt like it meant something. Kevin: I’m sure it’s different person to person, but I just want to music to be really good and timeless. That’s all I care about. I just want to the music to be good because that’s me as a musician. Meghan: And that’s meaningful.
INTERVIEW // SUPER UNISON Kevin: I appreciate good music, that’s just what I like. I don’t care about art or anything. Meghan: That’s your art! No, but that’s meaningful to you if you don’t want to just put something out there that’s been heard before or that doesn’t resonate with you. Kevin: When I write a song I don’t go out of my way to do something that somebody’s not doing. I want to say it in the least pretentious way... I try to be cognizant at this stage. I’ve grown up playing in punk bands my whole life and I’ve gotten to a point recently where I’ve focused my energy on trying to create my own niche of, “What can I do that’s distinct?” I’m not saying that I’ve done that, by any means, but that’s my end game. I would love to be able to as least try to accomplish something that’s unique I guess. To me, that would be the greatest compliment that I could receive. As far as song-length, the closer/ title track (“Auto”) is over twice as long as some of the other songs, mostly because it has a long instrumental outro. Are you going to do longer songs? This album in general is longer than the EP... Kevin: Absolutely. There’s going to be a thematic thing. Should I give that away, about the next record…? Meghan: Yeah, I mean I don’t think that there’s a limit where we would sit down and be like, “This song needs to be a least 2:13!” I’ve noticed that when we’re writing now the songs are longer. Kevin: There is no songwriting process, honestly. It’s just I write whatever comes out. Meghan: Exactly, there aren’t rules on it. Kevin: I guess there’s probably some type of internal reason why songs I was writing a year ago were 2 minutes and songs I’m writing now are 5 minutes. Justin: I feel like we come from a place of short songs though, too. Meghan: That’s what we’re used to. Justin: Yeah, brevity is a good thing. Don’t overstay your welcome kind of deal. I was talking to Kevin the other day about how Metallica songs feel like they’re 4 minute too long. Kevin: They’re very repetitive. Justin: Very repetitive. You could cut those songs in half. Kevin: That’s the funny part. As long as the parts are really good, you don’t even notice the repetition. You can listen to a good part ten times in a row. To answer your question directly, we have talked about this. The new songs on whatever we do in the future are going to be longer. They already
are. That’s the direction we’re going. When recording, do you think you spent a lot more time on one specific song compared to the others? Meghan: Not really. Kevin: Maybe the last one. Whatever songs have two guitar parts on them. All of the songs that have two guitar parts on them on the record, I literally wrote those parts in the studio. There were a couple of trial and error things. I knew I wanted to have different, concordant melodies on a couple songs but I didn’t have them planned out. There were definitely a couple of songs where I knew I wanted to do something but didn’t know what it was. Maybe I should have been more prepared, but it worked out fine. The last song, the ending, the second guitar part — there was a lot of, “I’m gonna do something here but I don’t know what it is.” There were a few takes where I’d do this and then that and we chose one and then more straightforward songs that we played all the way through. Anything but the second guitar part I wrote on the spot in the studio, so we spent extra time on that trying to figure it out. I did a couple of different things and we chose whatever was best. The whole outro on the record I had in my head but didn’t know how it was going to go. I originally wanted to do it on acoustic guitar and there was a take of acoustic guitar. I feel like the last song is probably the one, because there were two guitars and I was trying to figure out that outro for a while and how to place the sample in there. Meghan: Otherwise, we went in with complete songs. Kevin: Other than the second guitar parts, everything structure-wise was completely written. Little nuances were added later. Meghan: When you hear it back, you’re kind of like, “Oh, plug something in there, this is missing...” Kevin: As far as the meat of things, everything was 95% to 99% completed. This record was mixed in February, so did you record in February too?
Meghan: Yeah, vinyl takes a long time to be pressed now... Kevin: It took forever to come out. Since you did that so fast, and the EP was just a little before that, have you started working on album #2 already? Kevin: Absolutely, it’s half written already. So, next year? Very soon? Kevin: April’s when we want to record it. Meghan: We’ll see. We like to be prepared. And, like we were saying, we want to put more time into it. Kevin: It’s gonna be different than the process for this one. Meghan: Yeah, it’ll be a different process. Just take the time to make sure that we added what we want to add, have all the texture that we want and just make sure that it’s not rushed so that there’s no regret. I just want it to be really full and, you know, a lot going on so I want to make sure we have the space and the time for that. Kevin: This record I’m very proud of, but when I listen back to it now... There hasn’t been a time I listened back to it that I haven’t caught something that I wished I could change or something that I wanted to add or something that bothered me. It’s been nonstop. So I’ve been taking notes of all that and I’ve made it a very cognizant thing in my head that the next record isn’t going to be like that because this record is like that when I listen back to it because it was recorded in two and a half days. This next record is going to be at least a week, but same deal–totally rehearsed songs Meghan: Yeah, we’ll go in ready to go. But then listen back and add more guitar sounds, add more instrumentation, add more vocals. Really make sure that we have everything we want. So now you just have a plan that next time you do this better and that better? Meghan: The thing is, even though
“... because I do write personal stuff because it helps me process my feelings and if it’s personal and I may be writing a song about someone to help me process my feelings about them, I don’t want to put them on blast like, ‘This song is about this person!’ That’s not fair. If shit’s going on, I have to deal with it and this is how I’m going to do that.” musicandriots.com
we’ve done a lot really fast, as you said, we are relatively young band so it’s like when I have moments like, “Oh we’re touring and we’re getting this right and people are hearing us.” It’s our first record and we’ve been a band for two years. We’re still growing and all really looking forward to the next one because we’re still hashing some stuff out. Kevin: But to answer your question, the process — I never look at it like, “Did you start writing this one already? I never stop writing.” I don’t look at it like, “This song is going to be on this record.” My process when I look at that type of stuff is I just write constantly and record and demo my stuff that I write and then it’s like, “This is what I have and whatever’s good will be on the record.” Meghan: Whatever fits together thematically and all that. So the first song and the last song on this record, you had the song, but the intro and outro... did you add that later? Kevin: That was very cognizant. The way that I write, that was very calculated. I contradicted myself... It’s weird because I wrote that record writing a record. It’s different. I had songs that I wrote, but we decided to do a record and I still had all these songs that I had written anyway ‘cause I just write songs. So it was like, “We’re going to do a record, and I just focused on that.” I took the songs that I already had and the ones I was going to write in the future and decided that’s what I was going to focus on. It turned into, “Okay I have all these songs that I’ve been writing and I’m writing songs currently. Now I’m going to focus on a full length.” And when I focused on that it’s like, “Alright, now I’m going to write this full-length and here’s the opener song and this is how the record’s going to open. This is how the record’s going to close. This is the outro for the record.” Once I have the task of, “Okay, I’m writing a record now, that’s what I’ll focus my attention to.” Meghan: The moment we recorded, the next day you were like, “Next!” and just kept writing because you are always writing. So you had all these songs, put a parentheses around 12 of them and focused on those and when they were recorded it was back to your creative process continuing. It’s hard to keep up with you, Kev. Justin: You’re literally already writing another release. Meghan: It’s constantly us getting voice memos of Kevin doing riffs on his roof.
Back to lyric stuff, in the past your lyrics have been confrontational and direct. You can tell what they’re about. Do you feel like these songs are more personal and vague? Meghan: Yeah, because I do write personal stuff because it helps me process my feelings and if it’s personal and I may be writing a song about someone to help me process my feelings about them, I don’t want to put them on blast like, “This song is about this person!” That’s not fair. If shit’s going on, I have to deal with it and this is how I’m going to do that. I think the most personal and confrontational song on the record [“Broken”], while I may keep the subject matter private, it’s so good for me to sing it. I was going through shit, I wrote a thing and sometimes I may wait and forget how I feel about it or feel unsure and then I sing it and I’m like, “Fuck yeah.” Your feelings are valid. You felt this way. You still feel this way. It’s a good reminder to myself. I can only write about what I’m thinking about and I don’t set out to write a song about this and this, you know? All of your songs are in the first person, so... Meghan: [Sighs] I know!! No! It’s not a bad thing! I feel like when you listen back to them and you’re listening to it and you’re thinking “I” it makes it more relatable. Meghan: Totally, I want that to happen. Even when you’re staying a little vague, if you were to say, “This song is about my friend or my thing, Meghan’s thing”, I want it to be like, this is how I dealt with the situation and someone can feel that and it empowers them.
“I want it to be like, this is how I dealt with the situation and someone can feel that and it empowers them. It’s not only about empowering myself to get through things. If it could help other people too that’s great.”
It’s not only about empowering myself to get through things. If it could help other people too that’s great. And that’s also why I like not spelling things out. I read a review the other day that really got into lyrics and what songs meant and they got it wrong. Not wrong, but that’s not what I meant. But that’s a positive message too, so that interpretation I’m fine with that. Unless someone was like, “This song’s about being an asshole!” or something shitty, I would be like, “No!” Otherwise, they are up for interpretation and that’s more than okay with me to be like, “Maybe she was singing about this thing that happened to her and it empowered me in my own situation.” That’s a beautiful thing. That’s amazing. I wasn’t trying to be confrontational before and I’m not trying not to now. I don’t have a plan. I feel like confrontational wasn’t the right word. Honest? Not trying to bury it beneath metaphors. Kevin: Confrontation’s good though. Music is so boring. Honestly, music is so boring... It really is. I get bored so often, but anything that’s striking, confrontational music is great. Meghan: I’m not going to shy away from that stuff, you know? Kevin: It depends on what you consider confrontational. You can say GG Allin was confrontational. [laughs] It depends. There are levels of that for sure. Good confrontational, something that brings up something that actually means something that could connect to multiple people. Meghan: Working out issues. Processing your feelings and that kind of stuff. Kevin: There’s so much that’s so sterile. I don’t know how to describe it. All that comes to my head is white sheets on a bed. So boring. Meghan: If Super Unison were a pair of sheets... Kevin: I don’t want to be white sheets. That was actually the next question! [laughs] If you were a duvet cover, what color would you be? Meghan: [Laughs] Burgundy... I don’t know! Justin: Make sure that’s on the record. Kevin: What type of sheets would we be? What duvet would you be? Or sheets? Twin? Double king? [laughs] Kevin: Oh don’t get me started with my bedding. [laughs] I don’t even want to start breaking that down. I have a mattress topper, multiple body pillows... Meghan: [Laughs] I think what he’s trying to say is, you know, some music does play it safe and I don’t think,
INTERVIEW // SUPER UNISON
when it comes to music or lyrics, that we have rules about what it should or shouldn’t be. Kevin: And life in general. I like my music how I like my life. Meghan: Fucked up? [Laughs] Just kidding. Kevin: [Laughs] No! I just don’t want to be bored. I just want to be comfortably engaged and interested and that’s few and far between the older I get. Justin: There’s not much challenging shit out there. Kevin: I want to be challenged. I want to be engaged and, it just might be getting older, but the older I get the less engaged I get. When you’re young and getting into punk you’re super fucking impressed and it’s like, “Oh my god this is a new thing.” I’m in my fucking thirties now and there’s a part of me that’s like, “Oh man I’ve heard it all and I’m constantly seeking something that’s going to engage me, surprise me, something that’s dangerous, anything that’s discordant...” What have you been listening to on the road? Justin: [To Kevin] Hold on, hold on! You don’t get a say in this, I get to tell it. This is every time you tour with. Kevin. There are different sections.
This tour started out with a section... Meghan: We haven’t done nu-metal yet! Wait, like Korn and Limp Bizkit? Kevin: I lost my tooth moshing at Korn. Justin: Exactly one year ago on Halloween, Kevin and I went to see Korn and he got his tooth knocked out. Meghan: Being without a tooth really suits you. Justin: Okay, what we listen to on the road... Meghan: So, Kevin DJs and sometimes he takes requests, but mostly he just tells us to unpair with the speaker so he can DJ. [laughs] Justin: There’s always a riff section. It starts with Metallica. Kevin: There’s hip-hop in there. Justin: Big L comes on at some point. Kevin: Yeah, I love Big L. Meghan: He tells us we don’t know shit about it. Justin: There’s definitely a section that’s just Kevin. Kevin playing his old bands. Kevin: Yeah, that’s true. Justin: Kevin and I were in a band. We’ve been friends for 15 years and we were in a band years ago. Kevin: If you want to listen to riffs you might as well listen to your goddamn own. [Everyone laughs] Meghan: And there’s always the Philly band section. Justin: We grew up in this area in
Pennsylvania called the Lehigh Valley and they had a really awesome punk scene there. Like, Pissed Jeans is from there and they had a band called Ultimate Warriors and Gate Crashers. So we’ll always listen to that. Meghan: And then there’s the Olympia section, like Unwound and Hole and all that. All the voice memos on Kevin’s phone... Justin: We listened to our new record to make sure... Meghan: We did?! Justin: Sorry, not the new record. The demos. New songs. Meghan: Oh yeah, we did. Justin: Because we haven’t listened to those as a group. I like to try to sneak in bands. Like, I really like the new Mannequin Pussy record. Meghan: Yeah you do. [To Kevin] We got an eye roll on that one. We got two eye rolls! [laughs] Justin: Why?! That’s a good record. Oh, now three! How many can we get? Meghan: Ahh the night is young in Kevin’s eyes. It’s old as shit to me, but... Kevin: You wanna hear some songs from the new record? Meghan & Justin: No! She does not!
AUTO IS OUT NOW ON DEATHWISH INC.
EXPANSIVE, INSTR & STRICTLY EFFEC Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Kayla Surico
ou were recently on tour with Taking Back Sunday and Mammoth Indigo. How did that go? As far as tours go, it was the perfect case scenario. You don’t get to go out with just one other band that often, you know? It was very nice to be playing with a band that we look up so much with such intimate setting. That’s the long answer, and the short answer is that it was wonderful. We had a blast.
Any funny story you wanna share with us about that tour? [laughs] We always like to do a tour prank. You have to do a tour prank in the last show and so our idea was to deliver to Taking Back Sunday a pizza on stage, but we couldn’t get any delivery guy to actually deliver the pizza on stage, and so I had to do it. [laughs] I had to pretend to be a delivery boy and deliver them a pizza on stage and they humiliated me, all in good gest. [laughs] As far as crazy stories go, there aren’t a ton, we just hang out with Taking Back Sunday and did our thing. That’s definitely one story that I remember and I’ll take to the grave for sure.
Last June you released an EP of demos and rarities for the benefit of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. All proceeds went directly to The Center Orlando, a haven for the LGBT community offering free counseling for those affected by this tragedy. Those 5 songs just go really well together, why did you pick those ones in particular? The simple answer is that we owned those master recordings. My house is a block away from the Pulse Nightclub and so that morning I woke up to helicopters and things like that. It was such a very rude awakening literally. Waking up to that and just being so close to that, knowing people that were there...
ROSPECTIVE CTIVE You Blew It! have just released their third full-length Abendrot. A true and unique piece of work delivered in a really impressive way. We talked to frontman Tanner Jones about everything that surrounded the band during the whole process, what Abendrot exactly means and why Orlando is such a special place for them.
knowing people that knew people that were there and having it so close to home, it just felt like something that we had to do. We felt like it was our duty as an Orlando band. We knew that we owned all those recordings that we wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t run into an illegal red tape putting those out, at least for benefit. To us, they were just interesting demos and interesting versions of songs that we have released and so it kind of worked out that way. You have just released your third full-length, Abendrot. When did you start working on it? A very long time ago. [laughs] We started writing it officially probably back in
March 2015. We had planned on getting into the studio much earlier than we did. We wanted to get in and record it around the summer of 2015, but the pressure of releasing a third album was such a drastic difference from previous releases. The pressure to perform was much higher and more intense than it has ever been. Being a perfectionist myself and a band full of perfectionists, we spent a lot of time almost literally driving ourselves insane thinking about the songs and trying to do the right thing, or at least what we thought it was the right thing. We had to cancel the first recording and then we had to cancel the second recording because we were just writing and then revising,
writing and then revising... At some point, we just figured that we had to drop all the extra-curricular thoughts and just go with our instincts. That was a really tough learning process learning how to do that - but luckily we went down that path and we got to the end, and here we are. [laughs] According to a press release, this new album was written in roughly four days after you guys spent months apart, each having moved away from Orlando for various reasons. Can you tell me more about how was it like the whole creative and writing process for this album? We went into the cabin in Florida, in
the middle of nowhere, and we spent four days just writing. We came out of there with eight to ten songs, and then for the next probably year or rather eight months we would sit separately because everyone went back home and we would revise the songs and try to get them into a place where we felt comfortable. And then there were a couple that I wrote on my own and then Trevor [O’Hare, guitarist] wrote on his own as well, and then we would send to each other revised drafts, pick out what we liked or what we didn’t like and tried to make it better over email or phone or whatever. It was definitely a different process, but I think is one that worked out and is sustainable for the future. What’s the meaning behind the album’s title, Abendrot? First off, we’ve been told that it means the red glow of the sky right before sunset. We’ve also been told that is also translated to English as afterglow and afterglow is kind of a metaphor for transition and things like that, and that just felt like a very good metaphor for personifying the record and going through all these changes as a band, and not just musically but physically. This is the first time we’ve started writing a record and then finishing recording our record with the same line up, which is insane to say, but I think just the whole idea of sunset, afterglow and transition really fit for us, and it wasn’t really a great word in English that really got that message across as well as the word Abendrot, at least so we thought. It’s a beautiful word. Does this word have some connection with the album’s artwork? Yeah. First of all, a guy called Charles Miller really helped us out with it. He was the one that designed the cover art. An explanation for the cover art is the dark blue background with that white radiance square in the middle and a hand coming up. That square in the middle we refer it as a paddle, we like to see it as reflection of the Abendrot sky. We thought it was a very good metaphor for external stimuli and the way a body takes that in and then reflects it back out. Your hometown Orlando, Florida was an important influence on this new album. What can you tell me more about that and what’s so special about Orlando? I think Orlando is perpetually misunderstood and professionally seen as kind of an underdog city. A lot of people just like it or really disdain as a synonym for Orlando seems like
these days, which that’s fine, but there’s such a thriving culture here that no one really knows about. We have a very big Latin of population, so being able to go out and experience all these different cultures through music and art is very influential, both on us as people and on us as musicians. Being exposed to that kind of different music and culture has started to rub off on me. Taking certain leaps that you wouldn’t have if you hadn’t been exposed to those kind of different techniques and styles, I don’t think that would have happened without us leaving here. How’s it like the music scene in Orland nowadays? It’s great! It has always been great. It’s really tight and it’s really a community base. Orlando kind of cracks down on house shows very quickly, so as a music community you have to be very close with the entire community to try to figure out ways to keep on putting on shows and the smaller clubs here definitely recognize that. The people that are booking in the smaller clubs are people that were in my shoes or they’re the people that were booking house shows back in college, so they know what it is like and they definitely sympathise and empathise with that. They book shows that probably wouldn’t happen in small clubs in other cities. There’s a lot of support for the smaller bands here, which I think is really great and really important.
bottom. Getting inspired by film and cinema was really nice and different because that inspiration comes in a form of emotions or moves and that was sort of a different creative process. You get inspired by the mood and you try to build down from the top that way, while you get inspired by the music you start from the bottom and build up, and that was a really cool and different creative process. Which films did inspire you during the creative process? It’s hard to pick. I didn’t really sit down with any film in particular, but one of my favorite things to do is come home from work and just put the first thing that comes up on... Just going through small indie films was something that had a big impact on me. The first thing that comes to mind is It Follows (2014) and Ex Machina (2015), just those kind of theory and science fiction movies. I think they have a really nice mood and vibe to them, which I think it was a big influence on me.
Do you recommend us any new bands coming out from there? There’s a band called Kinder Than Wolves that I really like from here. There’s a band called Expert Timing and then there’s band Letters to Part. They’re all really good bands and all doing great stuff and working very hard, which is definitely the most important part. A lot of bands just write the music and don’t even really try, but those three bands I think are very good examples of bands that create great music and I think they get it, they just get it...
As the lyricist, which song off the album had more impact on you while writing it and why? The first one that comes to mind is the song “Kerning”, it’s the album’s closer. That song is... When my girlfriend and I first moved in with each other, we didn’t really have anything. We didn’t have a coffee table, so one thing we did was we went down to my parent’s house and built one with my dad. That coffee table means a lot to us because we spent hours and hours building it. When we spend that time with something, it means a lot. We brought it home and we kind of thought it was a really good metaphor for our relationship because if gets a nick you have to code it and pull everything together, you have to maintain it. I used that coffee table as a metaphor to write a fictional story about my girlfriend and I breaking up. I think just hearing that song is a very moving reminder for me especially to kind of take care of our relationship and other relationships that way.
Back to the new album, what else did inspire you while you were writing the lyrics? Typically and historically, I’m always inspired by other music, like driving around and listening to music that I love is just a great source of inspiration. But for this record, I found myself being more influenced by things like film. I get inspired by tiny things like I’ll hear a lyric that I really like or I’ll hear a guitar part that I really like and I’ll try to emulate that and recreate that and then build up from the
The new album was produced by Into It. Over It.’s Evan Weiss at Atlas Studios in Chicago. Why did you decide to work with him and how was the whole experience? We worked with on our last record [2014’s Keep Doing What You’re Doing] and it was a very good working relationship. Having that turn out so well for us back then, we just wanted to dive into that a little more. Having that level of comfortability with someone, knowing someone and knowing how they work was a very big
INTERVIEW // YOU BLEW IT!
“I’m always inspired by other music, like driving around and listening to music that I love is just a great source of inspiration. But for this record, I found myself being more influenced by things like film... that inspiration comes in a form of emotions or moves and that was sort of a different creative process.” advantage for us because a lot of times you go into record and there’s a point of time when you have to learn the other person. You have to learn how they work and how they interact with other people, especially you. Going into Chicago and having that relationship already was a big plus for us. We knew that we could get the work immediately without having to figure everything out and it was exactly that. We sat down and we got to work immediately, throwing around ideas, coming to senses and really just getting the record done. It was a really nice experience to do that. This is your first effort to be released on Triple Crown Records. How did you guys got in contact with them and how’s it going? I don’t really remember how we got in contact with them. Fred [Feldman, founder] has been around for a long time. We met him before and he’s a very nice person. One day he just reached out of nowhere to see if we
would be interested in putting the record out on Triple Crown Records. At first it was a bit weary, we had such agood relationship with our old label, Topshelf Records, but at some point we realized it was good to grow and to try to see different horizons and experience different labels. After a little bit convincing from him, we decided that it was probably the right choice and we’re really happy with it. Like I said, Fred is a great guy who is very understanding.
Now that you will be touring with your new album under your sleeves, what do you love the most about touring and being on the road? I think the obvious answer is being able to travel and see different things all the time. To being able to experience different cultures, different locations and different scenery I feel that’s a very important thing for a person to do and I just feel very lucky to do that.
You have been releasing full-lengths every two years, is it something that you’re going to keep on doing? Yeah... I mean, we hope to release. I think if we were in an ideal world, we would release one every single year [laughs] but we work very slowly. We’re very intentional on our writing and so naturally that takes a little while, which is kind of a downside for us. Wewould like to release music moreoften, but it’s the best we can do right now. [laughs]
What have you been listening to lately? I’ve been listening to the new The Bunny the Bear record. It’s very, very weird. I think I got into it for being very weird and intriguing, and then having listen to it so often I started learning to love it. Right now I just really can’t get away from that, I really love that record.
ABENDROT IS OUT NOW ON TRIPLE CROWN RECORDS
AT THEIR STILL INNO
In Flames have been one of the most influential metal band everything they do. Battles is their most challenging and riv Bjรถrn Gelotte to get to know more about this album, why L.
Words: Andreia Alves // Ph
R BEST & OVATING
ds since the 90s and they are still innovators and daring in veting effort to date and we caught with guitarist .A. was a huge inspiration for them and much more.
hotos: Patric Ullaeus
n Flames have been around since 1990 and it’s really great to see you guys keep on making such powerful and refreshing music in the metal world. How do you look back to your path as a band and as musicians throughout these years? Now that you mention, we’ve been around quite a while. We’re just about to release our twelfth studio record, we have two live DVDs, we did a couple of EPs and all of this is only possible because we always did what we felt like doing, you know? We still do that. Each and every record has led us to where we are today, so we’re super proud and we’re still excited about recording and playing and that’s because we went our own way. When the five of us in the past and now the four of us before Joe Rickard joining in, when we’re happy with the songs and we feel that we have a new album then the negotiation is over. We’ve done the best that we can do right now. Having that in mind as sort of goal and not forgetting who you are and feeling that you’re doing something that you really do believe, it’s the greatest feeling. That’s how I feel when I play live and I love it. [laughs] Before releasing your new album, you guys are going to release a brand new live DVD, entitled Sounds From The Heart Of Gothenburg, which was recorded at Gothenburg’s Scandinavium. What’s so special about this live show? So many things... First, it’s a hometown gig and it’s for us in a very special venue. It’s a huge venue obviously, but it’s also where we saw the all the bands growing up. I saw Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Judas Priest... and we played there a couple of times and what a better opportunity to record this on film, because this was the last show of the tour and we were really warm and eager to play. Not to sound too dumb, but it felt like sort of a magical evening and I’m so happy that Patric Ullaeus - a longtime friend and video producer - was there and make it to stay forever in a way. [laughs] There are so many things that made it so special... I’m very proud of the DVD. We had some screenings in Gothenburg and Stockholm, and I believe in Germany as well, in the cinemas. Seeing that in that format is really awesome. I’m super proud and stoked!
Battles is your twelfth full-length album and you guys keep on reinventing and pushing yourselves with each album. How was it like to approach the songwriting this time around? It was actually different from what we normally do. In the past, we would pretty much finish the whole song musically and then we would just add the vocals as the last thing, and it had been quite frustrating at times because there’s so much you can do with the vocals, we just never had that tool in our toolbox before. This time around me and Anders [Fridén, vocalist] would sit down already at the demos stage and start doing the proper demos with the vocals on it, which you get a fresh approach and a new angle. If you have a really strong vocal line, you can write the music around that. For me that was really new and I think for the whole band was really new. It was extremely inspiring to do that and felt like you had more of an overall picture of what was going on. We had the possibility to add more of my ideas that maybe the others wouldn’t think about and we would do the same thing with the riffs, melodies and arrangements of the songs. That was extremely important and it was a new way of working that I would love explore further. Why name this new album as Battles? First when you read it, you think about conflict like wars and stuff like that, but it’s not about that at all. It’s the inner struggle and the battles that you have. As far as I know, everybody has some. It can be very mundane, very ordinary daily stuff and it can be some really profound philosophical issues, and it’s about that. It’s about trying to fit in and everything that entails. I think it’s really interesting and hopefully it means a little bit different to different people, but everyone in one way or another I’m sure can relate to it. You unveiled “The Truth” and “The End” as the first double single from your new album. Why those songs to be the first ones to be revealed at the same time? There’s a few reasons, but mainly I think they both sort of in their own way sum up the album and also there’s a nice little thread going through both songs that we could capture in videos. So, you start with “The End”, then you listen to “The Truth” and you watch the video and then you sort of get the whole story in it. Instead of just doing one and then wait a month to release the other, we figured like, “Let’s do something more
interesting and something that’s in a way bigger than just the ordinary single released.” I think it was good in every aspect. What other aspects or elements did you approach differently on this album? This time around, we actually worked with a producer I think the way you’re supposed to work with a producer. We had producers in the past, but in the end we’ve always decided what we wanted to do and this is our thing, we’ve been super protective of our music, though maybe more of a co-producing thing in the past. But this time around, we had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of our absolute favorite producers. We talked to like ten of them and we never had that opportunity before, so we were nervous but at the same time very excited. We talked
INTERVIEW // IN FLAMES
with all these guys, but when we talked with Howard Benson, he just said the right things. He didn’t want to change who we are, which is super important for us obviously. He just wanted to help us to do the best we could and to focus on what we’re really good at, and maybe to don’t fuck around so much. [laughs] It was really interesting. He had a fantastic team in L.A. and so we figured “What the hell! Let’s go there and let’s work properly with a producer.” He has so much experience and he also has a sort of fresh approach to this band. We’ve been around for such a long time and sometimes we’re very skeptical in our ways of how we want to do things. I wouldn’t say that he changed anything, he just opened up our eyes to different ways of doing things. It was very positive and very inspiring. I actually really, really loved do it.
Another thing is that we came to L.A. for the last writing sessions without a drummer. Daniel [Svensson] had quit on the last tour and we didn’t want to find a drummer before. We just figured “Let’s write the record, see how it feels, let’s go to L.A. and in L.A. everybody is a musician.” [laughs] So we thought we could find someone who could do the drum parts and then we auditioned and found a drummer after that. But Howard had this guy called Joe [Rickard] coming in to help us up with the programm of the drums to sort of get the demos to sound alright. He’s just a great drummer and he was a fan of the band. He asked if he could play and we said “Let’s try it!” When he started playing, we just started laughing because he was so good. [laughs] Also he has a similar approach as Daniel has to the drums; very consistent, technically really good, love his
“The first couple of records was very epic, it was very big and it was about mankind and more questions on a very big scale, and now it has been more focused around personal experiences and experiences he had himself.”
instrument and hits like a boxer. [laughs] He’s really good! How’s Joe fitting in with In Flames? To be honest, we haven’t played any shows yet. We actually haven’t really rehearsed yet, we just hang out pretty much in the studio. He did all the recording. We talked a lot during the recording process and we still talked a lot after. We actually asked him after the recording if he wanted to join us, we thought it was a great idea and he was super excited. We’re really looking forward to it. We’re really excited, but we’re just a bit nervous about the social side of being on tour and stuff like that that we don’t know yet, but he has got a lot of experience and he has been on tour with other bands before and he had his own band called Red. He did a bunch of touring, so about that I’m really sure this is going to be just awesome. Battles is the first In Flames’ album without Daniel Svensson since 1998. How was it like for you guys to deal with the writing and recording process without him? The writing session was no different from how we used to do. I always used a programm for drums, we arranged the songs and a lot of times we actually recorded all the guitars and everything on the program drums and then he would come afterwards and just would lay down the proper drums. That was really no different. The big difference is that Daniel was and is our brother. He had been with us for 17 years and all those years of touring we lived like a family, that was the hard part and that was the big difference. There are some pretty big shoes to fill up for Joe, but the way he is as a person so far as I know him now after these months, he could definitely fill up those shoes and more. It’s not an issue, but the sad thing is that Daniel left. He’s our brother and we’re gonna miss him. Recording the album in Los Angeles had a big influence on you guys. What can you tell me more about that? Whether you like it or not, I think the environment sort of affects the sound and the energy of the record. As much as the studio itself or the producer or whoever is gonna mix it, it would probably sound the same on every record, but everything else around it will probably change a bit. We really noticed when we did the recording in Berlin for Siren Charms. This was in the middle of the winter and it was really grey, cold, raining... It was really sort of dark in a way and that vibe
sort of tricked into the record making it sound a bit melancholic. Not super dark, but it was melancholic in a way. And the same thing happened here in L.A., I mean, the weather was the total opposite. It was always hot everyday, we drank cold beer, barbecued and had a great time. It gave us time to enjoy our days. We were really inspired and we had so much time, everything was so efficient. Instead of ending up with 11 songs that we were working on, we ended up with 15 songs and we have 12 on the record. We never were like that. Obviously L.A. and the people we worked with had a lot to do with that. Did L.A. inspired Anders for his lyrics on this album as well? Oh yeah, definitely! For him it was a new way of working as well. We were there for almost three weeks before we started recording. We sat down, did demos and worked together on every aspect of the songs. During that time, he was a very good barbecued guy. [laughs] He loves to be around food, and so for us to be able to sit down for 20 minutes every now and then between takes, arrangements and everything put us obviously in a good state of mind, you know? But I also think that at the same time you can’t just write about barbecue, cold beer and sunny weather. [laughs] The first couple of records was very epic, it was very big and it was about mankind and more questions on a very big scale, and now it has been more focused around personal experiences and experiences he had himself. I think that’s a reason why we went away to record it as well to get inspired because sitting at home with kids and everything surrounding you, it’s hard to write about tough stuff, you know? He had to dig deep as he always does, he had to write something that meant something for him in one way or the other. Hopefully put the right words in the right order in a way and create something that means something for him and probably something totally different for you and me, but I’m sure the whole environment thing, the way we worked and everything affected the writing sessions and ultimately the recording. Battles’ artwork is just amazing! Who did it and what’s its connection to the album? The artwork was made by Blake Armstrong, a fantastic guy that we met a couple of years ago. He had a Meet & Greet and he just came up to us and said, “Guys, I draw and I have this whole script for a comic book.” We listened to him and he had this whole storyline and he was so excited, he knew everything about us and he showed us some
ideas and we were blown away by how talented this guy is. We kept contact and working with him and he showed us the ideas he had for the magazine. We did Jesters Curse and that turned out fantastic. When we did Siren Charms, it was natural for us to work with him again. Also, when it came time for Battles, we wanted to have two hands sort of tooling towards different ties and in my opinion that symbolizes the inner struggles you have and not being sure what direction to go. I also like the fact that he designed a sort of retro sci-fi vibe to it because we are all nerds. I’m probably the biggest nerd there is [laughs] and I love that fact. It’s like old Star Trek and I love the colors and everything. I think it’s so different from most of the stuff you see nowadays. He just did a killer job, as always. Overall, how would you describe Battles represent to you guys at this point of your career? [laughs] I have my sort of perspective of the record and in a few and not so sexy words, I would say it’s a very guitar-driven, very melodic, straight to the point In Flames album. I wouldn’t even go too far to say that’s a death metal album because we were never really death metal, we have always been a metal band. And it’s In Flames best record. [laughs] Really hard question now! Which In Flames record is by far your favorite and why? It’s always the last one. [laughs] It might sound like a cliché, but just imagine these are all new songs, this is all stuff that we’ve been working really hard and very recently on, so for me it’s always gonna be like that. If you ask me in about 40 years and I look back to our career that will have more than 50 years, then I’ll might be able to have some sort of a perspective one. [laughs] But right now, it’s always the last. It will always be. In January 2017, you guys will embark on a tour with Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed. What are you looking forward for that tour? For us, it’s a great opportunity to reach a lot of people in the UK. I wouldn’t say off limits, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to play as much as we wanted there and this is a fantastic opportunity to play with such really great bands that we’ve been following for many years. We’re super excited and it will be a great opportunity to reach a lot of people.
BATTLES IS OUT NOW ON NUCLEAR BLAST
// IN RUNDLE FLAMES INTERVIEWINTERVIEW // EMMA RUTH
“We were really inspired and we had so much time, everything was so efficient. Instead of ending up with 11 songs that we were working on, we ended up with 15 songs and we have 12 on the record. We never were like that. Obviously L.A. and the people we worked with had a lot to do with that.”
H T I W S G N O S 76
Women's rights are under attack across the world. Refugees are treated as subhumans. There has been worldwide patriarchal rule for thousands of years. The vast majority of powerful governing bodies of the planet are failing. Petrol Girls see all of these things happening and want to make change. Without second thought, they charge into social issues with Spartan force and use melody-driven punk to support every word. Talk of Violence is about violence - violence against vulnerable people and using necessary force to end mistreatment. We talked to vocalist Ren Aldridge about feminism, punk and the incredible new record.
N O I S S I M A H Words: Teddie Taylor
here are very few prolonged soft spots on Talk of Violence. I think that when it comes to topics like government, feminism, war, justice, etc. there has to be a bold voice. Was there ever a time when you were hesitant to be outspoken about your views? For sure and I still am sometimes. I doubt anyone can say that they’ve never remained silent when they should’ve spoken up. I’m more hesitant when I feel isolated. I gained confidence through being part of building a feminist community within the punk scene I was part of, and since moving away from London I’m really feeling the consequences of not having those people around me. Where was the intro of “False Peace” recorded? It sounds like it was at a rally or protest of some sort. It was on a Sisters Uncut demo near London Bridge protesting against cuts to domestic violence services. I’ve been recording sounds from demonstrations on my phone for a while because I want to make some kind of music or art thing with them, and I feel like capturing sound is safer than video in terms of protecting people’s identities. I wish I was able to be a more active part of Sisters Uncut, they’re fucking incredible. Their main focus is domestic violence services but they coherently and really effectively link with a lot of campaigns such as with Movement for Justice at the Yarls Wood demonstrations. They also really fucking look after each other: “We must love and support one another, we have nothing to lose but our chains.” - They always chant this quote from Black Panther Assata Shakur at demos, and it makes me tear up every time. Are these songs more about personal experiences or universal observations? The two are totally interchangeable. More and more of my lyrics come from a subconscious place because the way our writing process as a band has changed. This means that I often have to start with the rhythm of the words instead of being like “I want to write a song about this thing.” I find
this process more challenging and the outcome more interesting because it means the songs are more open to interpretation: to my changing experiences and to other people’s ideas. I think music and art are more politically powerful when they provoke a conversation instead of just dictating a basic idea. As a band, you always want to make a career in music, but, like G.L.O.S.S., is it more important that you deliver a message and make an impact? I’ll come to this ‘delivering a message’ idea later in the interview, but for sure our bottom line is that we refuse to compromise our politics to make a ‘career’. That statement from G.L.O.S.S. in MRR about their reasons for breaking up hit me really hard. It points really honestly to many of the problems and contradictions faced by musicians, especially those making political music who are politically active people and/ or struggle with mental health issues. To then experience the oppression that comes with queer and trans identities on top of that is unimaginable to me. I think there needs to be more discussion about the issues brought up in that statement. “There is constant stress, and traveling all the time is damaging our home lives, keeping us from personal growth and active involvement in our communities” - I identified with this SO HARD. Not being able to be properly part of a community and commit to political projects because of touring all the time is fucking me up. So I guess it’s less about making a career than figuring out a way to exist that can sustain the band and you as an individual. Can we also just take a moment to appreciate what a fucking incredible band G.L.O.S.S. were. It’s the only time I ever remember crying about a band breaking up. Is there a way to make change in the world without violence? Or is it a necessary tool? Realistically I think significant political change does require violence. But (before my face gets pulled off by a collective fluffy liberal inhale of horror) I think we should talk about how change is denied through violence: how power and control are kept through violence. Rape, domestic violence, borders, debt, gender binary, depression, racist violence, prisons... We should consider all this structural violence before dismissing tactics to fight back that are ‘violent.’ Also, so much of what the media describes as violence really isn’t. Smashing windows ect, damaging property isn’t violence. Violence is towards living things. Our
society cares more about property than certain groups of people, it’s disgusting. We need to talk about what violence really is. There’s a great Issue of Strike magazine that we’ve been distributing at shows on this topic. How did moving out of London affect the band’s sound, if it did at all? It’s not something I’ve considered actually... I imagine our next record will maybe be slightly more melodic. We wrote 90% of Talk of Violence in London and there’s definitely something about that city that brings out an aggression and bleak feeling in me. What do you think about the rise of feminism in the mainstream music/ entertainment industries recently? Overall, totally great. Culture/entertainment is a political battleground, and where we form so many of our beliefs. That’s part of what Phallocentric is about - the way a focus on male pleasure and the penis in art and culture reflects, but also produces, a focus on male pleasure in heterosexual sex. Feminism in the mainstream to me feels like a slow burning revolution which is changing attitudes towards gender on a massive scale. However, we are by no means done here, and I think the mainstream feminism we’re seeing is overwhelmingly white and middle class. I think about feminism as loads of different kinds of feminism under one word, and some kinds of feminism, such as radfems who deny the rights of trans people, are bullshit. Tory feminism doesn’t even make sense given the way their political policies overwhelmingly hurt women, but it’s apparently a thing, that is also bullshit. We need to keep pushing forward a meaningfully inclusive, intersectional form of feminism. And we will make mistakes and fuck up and that’s why we have to do it together and have difficult conversations. I think we have to work with the gains made by mainstream feminism without letting it dilute our more militant demands. The punk scene is the home of the majority of bands with a feminist/anti-patriarchal/liberal theme. How did you discover it initially? I guess the music taste of friends at school via their older siblings. I come from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere so we made our own music scene and formed bands, played covers and originals in teeny village halls with someones cool parent standing outside. I used to tape The Lock Up or Punk Show with Mike Davies every week - it was on so late, I’d be
INTERVIEW INTERVIEW////PETROL JENNYGIRLS HVAL
“I find this process more challenging and the outcome more interesting because it means the songs are more open to interpretation: to my changing experiences and to other people’s ideas. I think music and art are more politically powerful when they provoke a conversation instead of just dictating a basic idea.” knackered at school the next day! I read Kerrang, listened to punkorama compilations and found bands on myspace. I guess that’s why I’m not that dismissive of more mainstream music media, because that’s how I initially found stuff when I was younger. Also, on a side note, I think we need to push beyond liberalism, and embrace radical politics - push for radical political change. You are educated about what you write about and there is substance to your lyrics. Does having a “platform” make being a musician more difficult? I’m definitely not educated enough about it, and my lyrics are an emotional response much more than an informed one. But I still think this can be a valuable part of a
conversation. I think on the one hand I really appreciate the platform I have right now, because I spent years being told by older men that I didn’t know anything and should shut up. And I feel safer - because I’m more visible I feel like I’m less likely to be assaulted and abused. On the other hand, having a platform definitely gives me anxiety, and I want to emphasise that I’m still learning all the time and I fuck up all the time and just because I have a microphone and a stage sometimes doesn’t mean I’m right about stuff! We could really do with breaking some of the hierarchies that exist in this music community. Me and Liepa started interviewing people at shows we play who are not on stage because their opinions are obviously equal to ours. Hopefully we’ll get our shit together and make it into a zine or podcast soon!
What’s the main message you want listeners to take away from this record? I want to provoke or contribute to a conversation about violence. I’m not into this idea of dictating a message to a passive listener, that’s not what the punk rock community is about. Like in asking me these questions now, you’re making me think loads and helping me to develop my political ideas. We all contribute. And I feel like a music community that everyone is an active participant in, is as strong a base as any for a political movement where we take politics into our own hands and don’t wait and hope some careerist politicians going to sort shit out.
TALK OF VIOLENCE IS OUT NOW ON BOMBER MUSIC
Sometimes things take time to evolve and with patience and devotion they just work out. We might say that applies with Jessica Rabbit, Sleigh Bells' new album, which was three years in the making and the result is just something amazing. It's probably their most compelling and daring album to date. Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller are in the spike of their game and more audacious than ever. We caught up with Alexis that talked us through the whole process and so much more.
A NOISE PO 80
OP AFFAIR Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Petra Collins
to think that it’s perfect. [laughs] Everything kind of becomes valuable at a certain point in everything like the initial infatuation that you have with it kind of wears it off. I think we kind of have to figure out that balance between getting things out too quickly and never getting anything out at all. I like to think that we kind of ended in a happy place. [laughs]
hanks for taking the time to talk to us. Jessica Rabbit is out now and is terrific and bold, totally worth the wait. How does it feel for you now that the record is about to be released? It’s exciting! It’s always a really wonderful thing when you get to release an album that you poured all of yourself into, so it’s wonderful to be able to share that with our fans and with the world. That being said, it’s also a little anxiety producing because you obviously have expectations of how you want people to respond to the album and it’s kind of inevitable that there will be disappointments as far as what people think of it and how people are critical of it. This album is kind of like our child and you want to keep your child safe. [laughs] And then you release it to the world and suddenly it’s object to a lot of harsh criticism, but that being said I’m really looking forward to play more shows and hopefully having more and more people hearing the band. It took a while for Jessica Rabbit to be completely finished. According to a press release, the process of writing and recording Jessica Rabbit began, stopped, and started over again many times throughout the last three years. How did you overcome the obstacles that came along the whole process? I think we overcame the obstacles by continuing to write and record. We continually pushed ourselves to try to come up with the best ideas and we thought really critically about the arrangements and the song we were going to ultimately keeping for the album. We probably recorded about 30 or so songs and didn’t use a lot of them. Overall, this process was just much more critical and we spent a lot of more time thinking and analysing each song, which ultimately I think just proved to be beneficial to the album, like we didn’t rush anything with this, but at the same time I think it’s dangerous to spend too much time on anyone’s album or anyone’s song because you’ll never stop hearing flaws in it. It’s very rare that you make something and you continue
Jessica Rabbit is in every way a different, such as vocally as musically. It feels like you guys had this urgency to go farther with a much more audaciously approach and it definitely feels like a sonic change for Sleigh Bells. What was your mindset while going into writing these songs? I think those are great insights. I think we wanted to push ourselves on this album. Vocally, I wanted to use my voice in a way that kind of explored more of a range of experiences that at times was very vulnerable, emotional and dark, and at other times it was euphoric and it kind of pushed in a way that we hadn’t heard me sing before. From a production standpoint, Derek was interested in using different sounds and textures, and writing arrangements that were a bit more manic and colorful. At times we kind of wondered “Where’s this song taking me?” and hopefully by the end you feel satisfied by the journey. I think if I had to categorize the process, I would say it was a very uninhibited process. It was exploratory and adventurous and we weren’t limiting ourselves with any ideas of genre or any sort of definitions of what we wanted this record to be. How was the whole songwriting/recording process for Jessica Rabbit? I’ve become much more of an equal collaborator with Derek. The process for Jessica Rabbit was mostly Derek sending me an instrumental and sending me a document with lyrical ideas and then recording a demo in my apartment where I would arrange the vocals and write the melodies and harmonies and finally getting the demo sounding as close to a final product as possible. I would send that to Derek and from there we would have a conversation about the best parts, the strongest and the weakest moments and I would either rewrite or we would record it as it was. That was kind of the general process and then we started recording with Mike Elizondo in California and that process was a little different, because we did more work in the room together kind of in our own private world, so it was kind of a more open process and we did a lot of good writing on the spot together. It was wonderful. I think Derek and I feel
more comfortable now than we’ve ever been with one another. We’re very close friends and we trust each other, but we also feel comfortable offering one another very constructive but at times extremely critical feedback and that’s important. You don’t ever have to hold back with somebody and not tell him how you feel because, even though it can be painful, it’s ultimately very beneficial for the writing process. That was kind of how it looked like. The chemistry between you and Derek seems more and more like a perfect partnership, the way you two connect is sharper than ever. How do you guys think you develop your songwriting all over the years? I think Derek from day one had a really interesting and exciting vision of what’s the music he wants to make and that vision has always been very inspirational to me and I’ve always felt very much like I understand it and able to kind of put myself into it to vocalize it at best and be that sort of missing link to the process. Now that’s a more equal partnership, I think when I hear one of his tracks I’ve always just want to try and do it justice, you know? I want to try to include a vocal that is interesting and engaging and urgent as the instrumental. So, I’m just trying to create something that kind of matches with the energy and the quality of the music. That’s how I like to think about it. I just want to really create something that feels cohesive, but also a bit unhinged. [laughs] Jessica Rabbit feels like a natural progression of Sleigh Bells, would you agree with that? I think that’s great to hear you say that because it does feel like a natural progression to me. I think a lot of the ideas that we started to experiment with on Bitter Rivals but maybe didn’t flashed out completely, we picked up on Jessica Rabbit, so I think a lot of the impulses to push ourselves are present on Bitter Rivals, but in my opinion not as well executed as they are on Jessica Rabbit. For us there was nothing contrayed on this album, there was no strategy with this album. It was just like the most pure, creative impulses being realized. I appreciate that you think it sounds like a natural progression because that’s what it felt like. Your voice is just brutally impressive and emotionally heavy in Jessica Rabbit! How was it like the process to create such great melodies? I wanted to write melodies that moved me in the same way that the music moves me. Like the outro of “Rule Number One”. I just think that’s a
INTERVIEW INTERVIEW// //SLEIGH S U R VBELLS IVE
"We continually pushed ourselves to try to come up with the best ideas and we thought really critically about the arrangements and the songs we were going to ultimately keeping for the album."
beautiful piece of music and it’s bizarre, chilling and I wanted to create a vocal and a melody that felt that way. I’ve always been attracted to melancholic melodies... Melodies that are slightly disturbing [laughs] and so I think I was trying to write in a way that kind of made you feel hopeful but also a bit devastated. You know, I’ve never really been good at writing sunny and sparkly simple melodies. My melodies tend to be like complicated and strange, so I wanted to bring that to the table and I also really wanted to bring a lot of interesting harmonies for the table. Some of my favorite vocalists are Sam Cooke, Etta James, Jackie Wilson... people that when they sing, they sound like their voice is on the brink of cracking and kind of breaking
apart and I was trying to do that on this album. I tried to delivered vocals that felt really committed because they really are. What were your musical or non-musical influences for this new album? Any albums or artists that inspired you somehow? We’re always listening to so many artists, that’s a tough question. [laughs] I was listening to a lot of obscure soul albums. There’s a collection called Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label and I was listening to a lot of that. I was listening to a LOT of Beatles, a lot of the White Album. I just love how bold, adventurous and different each of their records sound, and so that was a huge inspiration. I’m a big fan of some pop artists like Beyoncé. I love how her
albums continue to change and she pushes herself into new and exciting territories. I was listening to a lot of 80’s pop like Nu Shooz, Romeo Void, Blondie... Listening to a lot of jazz like John Coltrane, Patsy Cline and just really bad country music... I know Derek was listening to a lot of Jimmy Page and a lot of classic American music. Everything from bands like The Alman Brothers, Chicago... He was totally obsessed with the new Radiohead’s record when it came out and he listened to Burial a lot and a lot of different producers in the electronic music. He’s really into the new Jamie xx stuff, he has always been a big Kanye West fan... He’s always obsessing over The Funk Brothers. It’s just really diverse. There wasn’t really one specific genre, just lots of music...
INTERVIEW // SLEIGH BELLS
"It was exploratory and adventurous and we weren't limiting ourselves with any ideas of genre or any sort of definitions of what we wanted this record to be." Always listening to music, especially Derek who is a music consumer and so he’s constantly listening to stuff. [laughs] This was the first time you brought on board someone outside of the band into your creative process. You worked along with Mike Elizondo, who executive-produced five songs on this album. What did lead you to work with him and how was the experience for you guys? Yeah, it was the first outside person that we worked with. We were introduced to him by Tom Whalley who used to be on Warner Bros. Records and now runs Loma Vista Records. He put us in touch and Mike was a fan of the band, which was exciting. It was a wonderful
experience; we worked with him in L.A. and he’s just one of those people. He’s a true professional, he loves what he does, he’s very pleasant to be around and he knows how to make artists feel safe and feeling like they’re not being judged, but at the same time he’s really good at pushing you to do better but not in a way that feels judgemental or mean. He’s like “Why don’t you try this?” or “Have you thought of doing that?” instead of “Fuck that! You have to do something different.” [laughs] He’s super positive but really motivating. Derek and I always joked that since having work with him we’ve kind of always have this voice in the back of our minds telling us to question if it’s the best arrangement, if it’s the strongest melody or if it’s the best sound. He was just a really important
influence in this process. The video for “It’s Just Us Now” is absolutely amazing and it was directed by Derek. Can you tell us about how was the concept developed and the shooting experience? For the past few years, Derek and I always do our own videos. We’ve never had a big crew or a big budget and we work closely with a cinematographer. The concept for that video was really just about creating a story about this one particular character who is experiencing extreme stress, we don’t really know why and so it kind of follows her journey in addition to referencing some iconic imagery from that times, like a bikini pool scene, but sort of pushing it into a David Lynch way and just make it all
very bizarre. I think that video - like a lot of our videos - is less like a narrative and more of like a strange collage of images. I’m really glad you like it, it was my favorite video until we made the video for “I Can Only Stare”. The video for “I Can Only Stare” takes up where the video for “It’s Just Us Now” sort of left off in a way. They speak to one another, but this one just feels... I don’t know, I just think it’s more exciting. [laughs] Jessica Rabbit will be released on your own label, Torn Clean. How did the idea to start a label come about and how’s been like to own one? We spent a long time trying to figure out the best way to release the album and we worked with some different people, but ultimately we felt that self-releasing it was really the only way to achieve the type of autonomy and independence that we were looking for. Once we figured out that we could self-release and we could partner with digital physical distributor and then still have the support of Lucky Number in the UK, it became obvious that this was the way to go about it. Torn Clean is the name of a track of the new album and it just feels like a very powerful image and it just felt right to name the label Torn Clean. We bounced around with a few ideas and ultimately ended up finding that one to be the most compelling name. It’s been a really exciting time because we have a new level of control over everything and ownership over everything. Obviously, it can be limiting in a sense that you don’t have a huge budget or a marketing team from a label, but I think the music world now is one that allows artists to really make their own path and take their music pretty far without the assistance of those things. It’s been a really riveting experience. I could not help asking about the album’s name Jessica Rabbit as well the mesmerizing artwork. Can you enlighten us about the concept behind those two things? Jessica Rabbit is a character from Who Framed Roger Rabbit and that film came out when Derek and I were both children. He had this kind of intense fixation and fascination with her and this crush on her as a little boy and then kind of had this realization that she wasn’t real and that he was kind of delusional for feeling this way about her, but yet that didn’t stop him from wanting her. I think that kind of represents going through life with these expectations and never compromising
and giving up on him despite rational thought. [laughs] That’s where the title come from... and the artwork was done by our friend Brian Montuori and he does these amazing and really large scale paintings mostly of animals and these very chaotic scenes, they’re very gory and over the top, but he just uses an amazing pallet. The album’s cover and all the artwork that we used so far for every song has been a very small frame of one of the very large scale of artwork. I think when you see the cover hopefully it feels like the music because that’s what we want it to be. Now you will be touring your new record, what are your essential things while you are on the road? I’m pretty simple. I’m very healthy when I’m on tour, I don’t drink or do anything that’s gonna compromise my voice. I drink a lot of tea, I eat a lot of manuka honey which is kind of anti-bacterial honey and that’s good for my throat. I’m pretty boring. [laughs] I always bring my bike on tour with me, I love to go for bike rides and I try to wake up early and get as much time outside and experiencing new cities as possible before I’m in the venue for the rest of the night. Those are kind of my tour essentials. I always bring my own pillow because that’s important. [laughs] And my dog often comes with me! Whenever she’s on tour, that’s always the best. Besides Sleigh Bells, you have been involved on another amazing projects, such as the platform Beauty Lies Truth. You funded it with your friend Jessica Assaf back in 2014. I really love the whole concept behind it. Can you tell me a little bit about it and what led you to start it? It came from the desire to share my own experiences discovering sustainable beauty and learning more about all the different chemicals and toxins that people - especially women - expose themselves everyday through cosmetics. It just started as a passion project with myself and Jessica. Mostly we just wanted to be an educational tool where people can learn about some of the dangerous and also celebrate all the alternatives. That’s really what it is, it’s never been anything that we’ve made any money from or have any intention of have any money off it, just a way to share something that’s really important to us. I’m very interested in how consumers can change the impact that we’re having not only on our bodies but on the planet and how we can all live just a bit better, cleaner and smarter. Beauty Lies Truth is just a
reflection of that. I think people are now more concerned about their health and about the world we live in, but there’s still so many bullshit going on in our society. How is it like in the States and what are your thoughts about those subjects? It depends on where you live, what type of education you have and what type of life you have, but I think a lot of people especially now are aware of climate change, aware of our impact on the Earth and are starting to think more carefully about their choices and recognizing that everything from cancer to hormonal disorders are increasing in a way that we’ve never seen before. People are starting to really embrace eating healthy, organic food, pesticide-free, natural alternatives... Obviously we still have a ton of stuff to do. I’m a very progressive person and I spend a lot of time outdoors rock climbing and hiking... you know, our Earth is just such a sacred place and there are a lot of people out there champing that... And then we obviously have a very polarized country where there are people that are kind of pushing for a more regressive and scary agenda in my opinion as represented by Donald Trump and the people that exist behind. It’s an interesting time for the world, it’s a time that we see whether is Brexit or what’s going on in Europe with the refugee crisis or what’s going on all over the world... I think it’s a pretty critical time in determining what type of future we’re gonna have. I would like to see the good in people and I like to stay optimistic, but I can’t help but feeling pretty anxious about the state of things. We’ll see as humans what we decide to next... For last, what have you been listening to non-stop? There’s an album that just came out by a band called The Frightnrs, it was released on Daptone Records and it’s like their modern reggae band. I just love the album. It’s a pretty tragic story because the lead singer Dan Klein died recently of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) and he was a young guy. He was actually very sick while they were recording the album and you just can hear this urgency on his part to say everything that he wanted to say because he knew that he wasn’t going to live very long and it’s kind of an amazing thing to hear. The album is called Nothing More To Say and I highly recommend it.
JESSICA RABBIT IS OUT NOW ON TORN CLEAN
INTERVIEW // TOUCHÉ AMORÉ INTERVIEW // SLEIGH BELLS
"I think we kind of have to figure out that balance between getting things out too quickly and never getting anything out at all." musicandriots.com
ENTHRALLING & H
There’s a uniqueness to Planes Mistaken For Stars that is extremely tough to put into words. Formed in Peoria, Illinois in 1997 and then relocated to Denver, Colorado, the band was always able to deliver craft a sort of uncommon sound… the Midwest for sure played a role in it. The arrival o their long awaited fourth studio album, Prey, mad possible an interesting conversation with founder Gared O’Donnell about the US, life, his lyrics, and how everything is linked. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Angela Owens
orrect me if I’m wrong but the only states on the Midwest where Trump didn’t win were Illinois and Minnesota. How do you feel right now about everything that is happening in America? I think so, yeah. Illinois is pretty blue. I mean, you have Chicago which is one of the biggest cities in the world and it’s pretty progressive in some aspects. A lot of young artists... it’s a hip city. He had as much chance of winning in Chicago as he would in New York. No fucking way. He basically won the election preying on uneducated and the ignorant. That’s how he won, by telling people who can barely fucking read that he’s going to make them rich, make them better. And it’s a fuckin’ lie. It doesn’t matter who won. What’s going to happen geopolitically and politically in this country is going to happen anyway. The fucking bummer about it is socially the bar that he sets for people, the acceptable way to treat other people. You have children looking at their president and receiving the information, through what he does and says, that is ok to be a bully, mean, and racist. That scares the fuck out of me. He’s making it acceptable which might be good for change because it has always been this way but now it’s on the front, it’s on the surface. We can no longer hide what monsters we are. Talking about the presidential election and the current state of affairs... there’s a song called “Riot Season” on this new album. I thought that just the fact that he was in the news, that was even talk that he might run for president... I thought to myself, “Holy shit!” And I also knew that Barack Obama leaving office there was going to be a shift, a giant shift in power, and a giant shift in this country. We could see. You could just feel the pressure, if you’re in tune at all with the world. And some of us are a little bit more in tune with our surroundings... That’s why I drink as much as I do, because I try to get out of tune because it scares the hell out of me when I’m in tune. Because when I’m in tune I can see how out of tune we all are. [laughs] Before we start talking about Prey I would like to discuss what came before. You broke up in July of 2007 and then you returned in 2010 playing a few shows here and there.
I guess my first question is fairly obvious: what made you go on separate ways and then reunite three years after? It was just time. I think we have just been in the grind too long. We all needed to go on our separate ways to focus on other things. Mike [Ricketts] wanted to focus on science, the other dudes [Chuck French and Neil Keener] had a band called Git Some, and I was going through a fucking terrible divorce and just trying to get my life back on track and trying to be a good father, the best I could be. So, it was just no place for us keep on going. We went a while, we missed each other, and then we started playing shows. We did that on and off for years and then we just finally with the prompting of Deathwish decided like, “Hey, this is stupid that we are not writing new stuff, because we still have our chops.” We gave it a shot and I think we came out swinging. Planes coming back starts with live performances. How is it for you to play some of the older songs now? I imagine you’re now in a different place. We’ve been playing stuff from Up In Them Guts, Mercy, and this new stuff. The first couple of EPs or even parts of Fuck with Fire aren’t as relatable. Everything above Up In Them Guts and Mercy makes sense to me more now than they did when we wrote them. It’s almost like looking into a crystal ball. Like I predicted my own future or maybe I predestined. I used to think I was being like clever in writing these stories but really I was basically keeping a diary sonically. [laughs] Is there a case of you having a better understanding now of what you were writing back then? A sort of clarity that comes with time and perspective. Oh yeah, I understand it a lot better now. The thing about the new record is that lyrically every song is self-aware this time. I know exactly where I’m coming from and I know exactly what these songs mean to me. Of course the interpretation belongs to whoever is listening to these songs but I know exactly what they mean to me whereas with Up In Them Guts and Mercy I didn’t know what some were about. Did you have the intention of release a brand new album when you decided to release a reissue of Mercy? Initially I contacted Jacob [Bannon] from Deathwish and ask if he wanted to do it and he was like, “How would you feel about writing a new record? That would make it even sweeter because we could just treat Mercy like a really expensive advertisement for the new record.” I was like, “That’s not a bad idea, man.”
[laughs] We got the wheels turning... it was down to the wire, really, getting this new record done. I think we went in to the studio with the record half-written and we just banged it out. These guys are fuckin’ world class. They just basically take my OK songs and make them great. I couldn’t do it without them... And they couldn’t do it without me. [laughs] During the hiatus, you were involved with Hawks & Doves and Neil [Keener] and Charles [Edward French] played with the great David Eugene Edwards on Wovenhand. First, did you feel that writing all the songs on Hawks & Doves helped you to evolve as songwriter? Anything you do is growth, but I also think it gave me a little bit more confidence and self-worth. If you listen to Hawks & Doves, it’s not entirely a world apart from Planes. It is just a different flavor. It’s still ice cream but just a different flavor. [laughs] I think it kind of showed me my value in Planes. It helped remind me that I am an asset, at least in regard to Planes. Because when I did that record I was really at a low point in my life, a terrible low point. The only think that I had going for me was meeting my current wife and my little boys loved me. That’s what kept me alive, those three people. And that’s still what keeps me pushing and keeps me going. I’m proud of that record and I wish more people would have heard it. It didn’t really get much... it got zero publicity. I think I had one review of it. [laughs] Did you notice any impact, writing the new material for Planes, from Neil and Charles experience with Eugene? I just think they became stronger players. They have been working with him for a while, touring constantly. When you keep your machine greased, that’s never a bad thing. I think that is cool, especially in Chuck’s case that what Wovenhand does is so much more sparse musically. It’s cool that he was able to get more comfortable with the spacey stuff and fitting into the role of a lead guitarist. Before, with Chuck, he would do some out there stuff and I had to push him to keep doing it. I would say it was awesome and I would starting asking, “Is it too much?” Now he doesn’t ask if it is too much and just does whatever the fuck he wants and sounds good. I think we are all just more confident musicians. Before recording the album you took a little trip that you described as being “some sort of pre-midlife crisis bullshit.” According to the A.V. Club
INTERVIEW // TOUCHÉ AMORÉ
“The thing about the new record is that lyrically every song is self-aware this time. I know exactly where I’m coming from and I know exactly what these songs mean to me.” piece, you said “I wound up in a fucking Motel 6 trying to start fistfights with truck drivers (…)” Is that true? No, that’s not what happened. They misquoted me. I said, “I ended up at a Motel 6 trying to stay out of fights with truck drivers.” Because people kept taking fights with me. I would never try to start a fight with anybody, that’s not what I do. I had to defuse a situation once or twice and that wasn’t what I was planning on doing. What was that about and did it have any impact on the album itself? I took the trip to just get out of my normal surroundings to focus. I work from home anyway. I was just like, “I will hit the road and bang out all these lyrics.” I went with a big envelope full of scrap paper that I had written lyrics on over a ten-year period. I had literally hundreds of little pieces of paper that I had to transcribe and figure out what I wanted to use and what I was going to throw away. I thought it would be much easier to do it if I wasn’t distracted with my normal duties and maybe I could have a couple of cool experiences
along the way. So, I just got in the car and drove. I didn’t get very far. I did drink way too much, had a mini nervous breakdown and came home. [laughs] Definitely affected the record. I’m really curious to know what made you decide to title the album Prey. A lot of the songs are double edged. The songs that are in particular about relationships... there’s not really a hero. You don’t know who’s coming out on top. You don’t know who the good guy is or who the bad guy is because in a lot of the cases in life there isn’t a good and bad. And you don’t know who is hunting who. You don’t know who the prey is, you don’t know who the hawk is, and you don’t know who the dove is. It’s just people fucking preying upon each other. That’s kind of what is about. Some of songs I don’t know whether I’m the dinner or the hunter. [laughs] Your music was always shaped and influenced by your surroundings. Has your perception of the Midwest changed a lot throughout all these years? Not really. I think I’m just more tolerant of it now since I’ve seen a large chunk
of the world – different cultures, different places, etc. The one thing I come back with is that not much is different. [laughs] There’s little subtleties but pretty much anywhere where people are they want to somewhere else. I’m content with where I’m at and if I get sick of it I just leave for a couple of days. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Prey is the first time you guys worked with Sanford Parker, right? How it was to work with Sanford was and what did he bring to the table? Yeah, I recorded one song with Sanford for Hawks & Doves but we’ve known him for many, many years and he’s been a friend of ours for over a decade. We just finally got to work with him and it was great. He brought a lot of enthusiasm, he’s really brave and experimental, and there’s not much that we would rule out. He was also very active with me doing my vocals. We did a lot of vocal work and he really pushed me. He just brought really good performances out of everybody.
PREY IS OUT NOW ON DEATHWISH INC.
R P U S E V O L A
Best known for his work with Belgian rockers dEUS, Tom Barman has thrown himself into the jazz world in the past few years with TaxiWars, an eclectic troupe that fuses jazz, alt-rock, hip-hop, poetry and anything else they can get their mitts on. Punchy, upbeat and shot through with sharp wit, their second record Fever has taken the original blueprints of the band and fleshed them out into one of the most infectious albums of the year. We caught up with Barman as he was heading to a DJ set to discuss the past and future of TaxiWars and his own jazz obsession.
E M RE
s: Kris Dew
// Photo ve Bowes Words: Da
ongratulations on the album, it’s fantastic stuff. What were the origins of TaxiWars? Jazz has always seemed to be a natural fit with you but what made you decide to take it in this direction? It was an idea I had four or five years ago where I was compiling a couple of jazz CDs for labels like Impulse and Blue Note, so I was really immersed in that music. I just got the idea of maybe one day singing with a classical jazz trio setup – saxophone, stand-up bass, drums – and just be the singer, or the rapper or talker, crooner, whatever. I had known the manager of Robin Verheyen for a long time and he got us together. We talked, I told Robin this idea and he did a saxophone session in the studio with Magnus. I just gave a couple of short descriptions – I wanted the songs to be not too long, I wanted it to be punchy, it should be danceable
– basically, it should be energetic and fun. We took it from there, started composing and put out an album last year and then we toured, played many shows, and then made a second album a year and a half later. That’s more or less how it went. What were your thoughts on the initial sessions and how do you compare it to the chemistry that you have nowadays? Man, it’s different because here, we’re talking about how Robin brings in 20-25 compositions – those are not structured, or really songs, but they have melody, key changes and whatever. We play them with the band and I’m running around with my iPad, seeing if I can find an entry or a melody or something to sing, and then when I connect with it I just take it to the studio and start structuring it or looping it, turning it more into songs, and then we play it. Basically, there’s not a lot of jamming. It’s playing those structures as I’ve made them, or playing the compositions as Robin has written them. Compared to the rest of the stuff I do with dEUS, everything comes together really quickly; there’s very little time to overthink it. It’s very raw and direct, and I guess subconsciously that was something I was looking for - a way of making albums where you don’t lose a year and a half of your life. The energy in the studio is typically the virtuosity on the instruments. They can adapt quickly, the can read your signs quickly, change speed or tempo... it’s that kind of routine jazz virtuosity, which is great. When I play with a rock band like dEUS it’s more trashy and straight away you look for melodies, and it takes much longer but with the structures or songs being more or less written out, these guys play them straight away. Did you make an effort to bring elements of what you had done with dEUS into this, like going for those shorter, punchier pieces? I didn’t need to try or want to do that, I think it came very naturally. This is a thing that I really like to do – I’m not tied to a guitar, I don’t have to play samples or what-not, I just have to sing, and listen to those compositions and find something, and that’s something I really enjoy doing. Mostly with dEUS I am very involved with the songwriting and here it is mostly just structuring and finding a way in. The only thing I have to worry about is my vocal, and that I very refreshing and a lot of fun to do, but it’s not that far out of my comfort zone, if that’s what you mean. Over
the years with dEUS, I liked to sing, I like to have melody but I like to half-talk it also, parlando, shout once in a while, so it’s not too different; it’s just a different source, that’s all. As far as the lyrics themselves, what were your intentions with Fever? With the first album, I was very much inspired by the name of the band, TaxiWars. It made me think, “Why did we choose that name for the band?” You have taxis, which are a metropolitan thing, they bring you to a place that most of the time you have never been to. You can have conversations in taxis, you can have flirting, you can have fights; they can bring you to an awful place, they can bring you to a great place. For the first album, it was all about being on the road. It was stories from 20 years of being on the road, little anecdotes or atmospheres that I remembered. For the second one, I could milk that but I’d rather just listen to the music and let that dictate it. It’s very personal, and sometimes it’s quite anecdotal; the song “Fever” itself, I wasn’t feeling too good when I was writing the lyrics. I was feverish and there you go. Of course, I tried to transform it into something lyrical. These days, it doesn’t take a lot for me to be inspired, just something I read in the paper, something somebody shouts; a good title and I’m off. I wouldn’t say there’s a recurring theme, it’s just me reacting to those melodies or rhythms that Robin has given me. It’s an interesting point you made about taxi journeys, as everyone has had those one or two surreal experiences that they always remember. Are there any in particular that stand out to you? [laughs] Well, on the first album there
“It’s very raw and direct, and I guess subconsciously that was something I was looking for - a way of making albums where you don’t lose a year and a half of your life. The energy in the studio is typically the virtuosity on the instruments.”
is one on the song called “Let’s Get Killed”. It was on tour with the guys from Placebo, Snow Patrol and Oasis in Bangkok. This was just us trying to get to this fucking afterparty, with Gary from Snow Patrol, and this taxi driver didn’t have a fucking clue. We were driving and driving, and Gary was losing his patience. It was about to turn ugly, and then we arrive at the party, which was only guys, and Ian Brown from The Stone Roses, who also played, was standing on a table threatening everybody because he thought that someone had stolen his shades. So we arrive after this awful drive to this party and there’s no music, Ian Brown is in a tantrum, and apparently he just misplaced his shades – they were right behind him on a table. It was just the most anticlimactic ride ever. Obviously, you guys play a lot of jazz festivals but you’ve said you prefer more rock-oriented crowds... I like both but as long as it’s not for a seated audience. Just recently I tried to get into a jazz gig of the drummer from TaxiWars, a very talented young man called Antoine Pierre, and he makes his own compositions with his own band, and I couldn’t fucking get in! They just locked the door after the set started, and it was like theatre – you couldn’t get in if you were five minutes late! I said to myself that it’s no wonder they are scaring people off, there is just this elitist, serious vibe about it which is just unnecessary, especially if you look at the roots of jazz, which was completely not the case – it was danceable, fun and energetic music. I don’t care where I play but just don’t let them sit down because seated audiences, I don’t like that. We want people to dance. You often find from talking to people from other musical backgrounds that the barrier into jazz is a very real obstacle. Do you see TaxiWars as an effort to combat that, and perhaps draw people in who wouldn’t necessarily be part of any jazz ‘scene’? Our ambition is not so high-minded, don’t exaggerate it, but once we’re touring, we will make sure that people are having a good time. A lot of my friends came down and were like, “Oh my God, Tom’s got a jazz thing. What the fuck?” Then they see it and realise they didn’t think jazz could be so fun. There’s a lot of prejudice so I wouldn’t say it’s our mission to do that, but if we can do it on the way then yeah, that’s great. I think in Belgium, there are a couple of bands right now who are doing that and on the world stage, even, so maybe we are a
INTERVIEW INTERVIEW // 65DAYSOFSTATIC // TAXIWARS
part of this tree of bands who wanted to bring something else, and to show that this is exciting music and can be pretty rock & roll, if you want. Where do your own tastes in jazz lie? With the inclusion of things like hip-hop, I get a bit of and ‘80s Miles Davis vibe there. Possibly, but I’m not so certain how the rest of the guys are. Lots of people hear different stuff via different people here. I was very inspired also by Serge Gainsbourg and a great band from the 90s which was shamefully overlooked called MC 900 Foot Jesus, which was dark lyrics over very groovy music, hip-hop samples and saxophone, stand-up bass. Soul Coughing is also another example. Everybody brings his own material – our bass player used to play with Toots Thielemans but he also plays funk, and our drummer is a young musician so he’s also listening to Radiohead as much as Rihanna, as well as good R’n’B and hip-hop. At the same time, there is this variety of influences but these guys were all raised in the real jazz schools and clubs, so that’s an interesting energy. What about your own experiences with jazz? Has it always been a large part of your life?
Actually, I discovered it when the first samplers came out and were affordable, and I just wanted to steal grooves or sounds. Round the corner in Antwerp we had the mediatheek, which was basically a library where you could take out vinyl, and there you had the greatest selection of jazz. That’s how I learned that jazz was something I actually liked, and I think my introduction was Don Cherry with all those great records from the ‘70s and ‘80s; the live records were just amazing. I loved the energy and the freedom of it, songs of 25 or 27 minutes that weren’t dull, that were intellectual but exciting! That was my introduction and I just kept on buying it, discovering and then I did the compilations in 2005, 2010, where got to listen a whole lot of Impulse and Blue Note and it’s almost always on at home. It’s the only stuff I listen to at home because I don’t need too much vocal music in the morning, I prefer instrumental music. I wouldn’t say I’m a complete fanatic but it’s a big part of my life. There’s also some instrumentals we play where I just go take a seat and smoke a cigarette at the side of the stage, see those guys play and that’s equally fun for me – just to see the three-piece play without me. I guess I’m in an ideal situation where
I can join in once in a while and be a spectator also. Apart from TaxiWars, what else are you working on these days? Will there be anything from dEUS coming up, or any other projects? I’m preparing my second film, so a lot of this year is spent writing in my home, which is not as exciting but I hope it’s going to be a good film. That will be for 2018, and with dEUS we’re going to get together again in February to start writing parts of a soundtrack for that film and part of a new album. Basically, my time is now divided between doing that and the TaxiWars tour which is through England, France, Belgium, Holland and Portugal next month. Next year will be mostly TaxiWars playing live and studio dEUS. Basically, it’s shifting between different projects and I’m sure a lot of stuff from TaxiWars’ way of working will have an influence on our next dEUS. Maybe have a more direct approach and spend less time in the studio building songs and more time composing them. Everything is always a reaction to the previous thing so I really feel like using the TaxiWars experience for the next dEUS material.
FEVER IS OUT NOW ON UNIVERSAL JAZZ
SICS ON GTH, A B O T K C BA FULL-LEN H T 2 1 IR E TH . AND STILL..
AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME 96
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ongratulations on a killer album, man. What were your intentions going in to the making of The Serenity Of Suffering? We needed heavy guitars back. When we got Korn back together with The Paradigm Shift, the guitars were good but not great, you know? So we wanted to get greatness back out of the guitars, just heavy, so we achieved it with this album. I’m really proud of so we wanted to pull that roar out of him. It’s not like he forced it, it just came and I’m thankful for that. Did you go down any new routes production-wise to get this or was it largely down to the writing? A lot of production, with the amps and the miking, but it was writing too. We like to see our crowd move so we wanted to write songs that would make them move. We’ve been doing this a long time so I think we can write a good song but if it doesn’t make people move then it’s boring to me. You can still have those songs but with the majority, I just want to see people go crazy. Our fans are getting older, though, so they move less and less every decade! [laughs]
n a time, the metal community were split n the middle – there was the old-school, under the weight of faded Slayer and ica patches, and then there were the ers’ – the outsider kids with baggy jeans chains, Slipknot hoodies and, invariably, rt. For all that some thought that only 80s ld ever last, Korn’s continuing popularity, d evolution has shown them to be here for aul and with 12th album The Serenity Of ng, they’ve shown themselves able to e the fire of their earlier works. Pinning uitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch before an ena show, we discussed the finer points of evity, as well as his own thoughts on rock superstardom and time travel. Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Jimmy Fontaine
You’re still getting a lot of young fans, though, as well as parents who grew up with Korn bringing their own kids to shows. You must be one of the few bands able to experience that so how does it feel? It’s very strange, and cool. I love that because when I grew up, you want the opposite of what your parents want. You like the opposite of what they like so it’s special to me when the kids are Korn fans. I think they’re brainwashed when they’re babies because they play it in the car but I’ll take it. Did you ever come back round to the kinds of things your parents listened to? ...a little bit. Not a whole lot. We’re talking Neil Diamond. But listen, Korn did a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Love On The Rocks” and I love his voice now. When I was kid, no, but he’s got a great voice. Is he still alive? I think so. He’s somehow managed to survive 2016. How has this year
been for you, as it’s been a rough one overall? I had a rough start in the first half but it’s ending good. As far as our record coming out, it’s doing well, and we got a Grammy nomination back in the US, so can’t complain too much. How does it feel being back on the road with Limp Bizkit, given how far back the two bands go? It’s memories, you know? We’ve done festivals with them, so we’ve seen them around, but it’s cool to reconnect. It’s kind of sad too because there’s only three of the guys here. I didn’t know Sam was gone, and I don’t know what’s going on with him as I haven’t talked to the guys about it so it’s kind of cool and sad at the same time. I miss the other guys too. Do you feel that your relationship with the bands that you developed alongside has changed in terms of your interactions or camaraderie? It’s funny because with some of them, it’s the same and with others, it’s weird but I don’t know what it is. I think it’s just that people grow up and get older differently. I don’t recognise the guy I was 15 years ago so I think there’s that weirdness with a couple of them but for the most part it’s old times, but everyone’s so health-conscious now. It’s not “Let’s go get wasted!” now, it’s “Let’s go eat together, let’s break bread, let’s talk afterwards.” No strip clubs anymore, we’re just kind of over it. How much of a difference has there been in the band since you came back? It’s pretty much the same but I think me and Munky have stepped up into the writing spots a bit more fully. He’s a good writer but he can’t sit in one spot for too long. He has ADD so if he’s in one room for a certain period of time, he has to move to another room. But I think when me, Munky and Ray get into a room and we just write riffs, Ray does his drum stuff and we get a good thing going. Then we get a producer in who helps make our mediocre stuff sound great. That’s what producers do – the take your ‘meh’ and make it sound ‘rahr!’ I’m going to tell all the bands out there – get a good producer! It’ll change your band and the band’s future! [laughs] What has been the key to the fact that the band has lasted so long, and has kept evolving so consistently? Isn’t it crazy? I left for almost a decade! I remember when I was in my 30s that I could see it wasn’t as hyped up but still, people are still showing
up, and I was thinking that I have to raise my kid. I don’t raise my kid, someone else does, and so that was a big reason for why I left. I found faith in Christ and everything but when I looked at my daughter and said I was going to be at home to raise her, she was like, “What’s that like?” It’s good but I think some days she’s just wanting me to go back on the road. Then, when I came back in the band, there was still a big hype going on. Obviously it’s not as big as it was in the ‘90s but once we get back together with other bands, we can do these arenas and it’s mind-blowing. I don’t know what it is. I think a lot of Korn fans were helped through their adolescence and I think our fans still hold a special place in their hearts for us. Even if they don’t like the music, and just like the old stuff, I think they still have a loyalty for us. For us, Korn has always been more than just music; we went through pain, and Jonathan went through pain, in order to help others with their pain so that’s special to us. I think that’s something that’s helped with the longevity. Taking that further, there are lots of people who say that Korn pulled them through the darkest of times. Just how humbling is it to hear that something that you created helped play a part in saving people’s lives? Every time I hear it from anybody, I just grab them and hug them because I’m so thankful that they’re here and the world is better with them here, and they didn’t give up and take their own lives. It’s not a case of, “Oh, I’ve heard it hundreds of times.” Every single time I hear it, it affects me. Did the band save your life, or was it more that it nearly killed you? Well, at first it nearly killed me but it wasn’t the band, it was the lifestyle. Be careful what you wish for. I wanted to be a rockstar but when I was little, I didn’t think about coke addiction or speed addiction or alcoholism. I think non-stop travel does something to your emotions. When you’re in an arena or a club with brick walls, it feels like you’re in an upscale prison. It’s all these walls and you’re trapped in there. It’s not the most inviting place to hang out in, and then travelling a lot, being in different beds, it’s not easy. I think people get wasted all the time to take that feeling away, and of course, we were young so we wanted to get wasted and party all the time. But hey, we’re all good now and I still have bad days, but I don’t drink anymore. I just get through it – pray, meditate. How tough was it to pull yourself out of that?
It was really tough. If I didn’t find God, if I didn’t search for God, I’d be dead because I couldn’t stop. I tried, and I wrote in my first book, where I explained that year after year I would get sober, then I’d get down, and I was in a tug-of-war with my soul. When it was at its worst, my drug dealer was sending 8-balls of crystal meth from America to Europe when I’d run out. I’d tell him that you can’t send drugs across country lines. That’s when I got to the end. I thought I had to stop – you can’t be sending drugs out of the country, to another country. That spells prison. So that’s how I knew I had to get clean. What was the rest of the band’s reception to you coming back? They were just happy. It was time because they were pissed at me for a while, Jonathan especially. I think he just started missing me. They were doing good, and were doing the electronic stuff more – Jonathan loves that! – but I think it split a lot of the fans down the middle. You loved it or hated it, but I’m glad they did it. It made Korn not the same, year after year, and it was still cool – that Skrillex song? I love that! But I think it was time, and they were missing me and Munky jamming together, and it was meant to be. Do you think that this album will help to recapture some of those fans who had drifted away? The one’s who had grown up with those first four or five albums. I hope so! That would be cool. I think it sounds like old Korn but I think it sounds new as well, so I think if they get excited about it then it will bring some of them back, at least enough to come check it out and see. Relive it, even if it’s only for a little while. I know people grow up and arent’ as angry anymore but if you like the music, you like the music. You don’t have to be angry to listen to us. It’s emotional music. It’s a bit of a cliché but what do you feel of the band’s legacy over these past couple of decades? I’m really honoured, and thankful and grateful for this legacy, because you don’t see that many bands like this. Metallica, and some of the guys like Disturbed and Slipknot are doing really well. What’s Metallica, 30, 35 years? Korn’s about 23 years so it’s amazing to see, and I’m grateful that I was able to take a break, get my life together and I was able to come back and it was still here for me. Really cool legacy and how it’s going to go down in history as a band that helped a lot of people. You don’t see that a lot. The Rolling Stones are awesome, though I don’t like them,
INTERVIEW // OATHBREAKER
“I believe there’s potential in everyone but whether it’s abuse or bitterness, they aren’t able to find it and that’s why there are a lot of miserable people out there. Some people are just stuck where they are...” but I feel like they’re more of a party band. I feel like Korn has more of a meaning, which I’m proud of. What is Korn’s meaning to you? I believe in God, and God is a creator, so we’re all meant to create something as we are images of God. We’re never satisfied until we’re doing what we want to do – nothing’s more satisfying. I feel like there’s a gift placed in each of us and I feel we wouldn’t be satisfied unless we were creating this music, this thing, that touches so many people’s lives and that’s why you see so many lost people. I believe there’s potential in everyone but whether it’s abuse or bitterness, they aren’t able to find it and that’s why there are a lot of miserable people out there. Some people are just stuck where they are, and I understand that, but whether you’re an artist or a writer, whatever you want to do, even if you have another job you should find a way to do what it is that you love and what’s in your DNA because
you can’t be satisfied any other way. I’m going to be incredibly lazy and ask what the one question is that you’d love to be asked but never have been, and what would your answer be? Wow... don’t put me on the spot! I can’t think... wait, “What are you looking forward to after life?” Maybe that. What am I looking forward to after life? Well, it says in scripture that outside you and me and everybody, we are wasting away but inside, God renews you. That could be interpreted as makes you young again, so I feel like I’d never have to get old. I’d always be childlike. Even when I’m an old man, I want to feel new inside and so I’m looking forward to a new body, a spiritual body. You know those people who say they died, and we all “I saw a light and it was so beautiful!” I think in our next life we’ll all just be made of light, so I want a body of light and I want to fly. I always have dreams of flying. Do you?
Nope, more often falling – the failure to fly. No! Okay, I have dreams of flying and now you’re going to have dreams of flying because of this! Well, I have these dreams and when I wake up I just want to fly so I want to fly, I want to be a light being and I want to oversee planets. There it is! [laughs] Well, some people see space and time as being interlinked so maybe if you could do that you could visit and time as well. Yeah, that’s awesome! History, future... yeah, I believe that. It’d be cool to go back and see how this whole world was created. Dinosaurs, all of that; see them walking around. Or see where it’s going to go. Yeah, unless it sucks! [laughs] No, it’s all good. We didn’t come to earth to be put in a shit place. It’s going to be good, and I’m looking forward to it. I like living.
THE SERENITY OF SUFFERING IS OUT NOW ON ROADRUNNER RECORDS
STILL DOWNRIGHT Even to those outside the fertile Norwegian underground, Darkthrone are a household name. In the early 90s Gylve Nagell and Ted Skjellum (a.k.a. Fenriz and Nocturno Culto) created a handful of albums that helped define black metal’s second wave and decades and many, many albums on, they’re still one of the most recognisable and recognisable voices in the heavy universe. Of course, Fenriz is becoming just as notable nowadays for his work in plugging everyone from Beastmilk to Sarcofago, but that’s not the point today – no, Darkthrone have a new album, Arctic Thunder, out and it’s a piercing collection of heavy metal righteousness that isn’t just admirable, it’s downright essential in the world today. With that in mind, we quizzed Fenriz on all things metal and he rose to the challenge.
INTERVIEW // OATHBREAKER
rctic Thunder feels like a really strong but natural progression from The Underground Resistance. Did the writing of it come from a similar place/ process? Well, kind of. It differs but not monumentally. What I did feel seeing The Underground Resistance in hindsight was that we couldn’t top it; we were well pleased. But when I came back from that camping trip and saw the photo, I started pondering like “This will be our album cover” and then “Whoa, I can finally use that Arctic Thunder title,” and then slowly but surely I understood that the photo really was begging for us doing a more sombre album, a more diecast one; there should be a sense of wholeness to it. Hence, I sacrificed my urge of singing, sacrificed my longings of the beautiful speed metal style (typically Sweden 1982-1985) that I did here and there and especially on the previous album and just switched to an old fave that I was doing in the beginning of Darkthrone in 1988, SLOW HEAVY METAL. Only after all these years, I can do that style and riffs more efficiently and drum better to it than I could back then. My songs are 1, 3, 5 and 8 on the album, by the way.
Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Ester Segarra
What are you and Ted like in the studio? Are you quite precise and perfectionists, or are you more focused on capturing a sense of immediacy? Immediacy is everything to me. It happens that I get a riff and make a song and I say to Ted “Can we record now” and he says no we can’t. And the other way around, I imagine. Then I scrap the track. I only want fresh meat when we go to record for real. [laughs] I just saw a front cover of Terrrorizer where we are quoted, “We believe in mistakes – and keeping them.” That says a lot. So when people go “Darkthrone are so punk”, well, it’s not punk on our last two albums but we mostly had that punk attitude when recording; we meet up, don’t know each other’s songs at all, quickly learn a song and very quickly record it. The old clichéd influences question – if you dig Arctic Thunder, what albums should you be hunting down? I do digress and elaborate: I can’t speak for Ted here, I imagine that he always just makes music from his own head, inspired by himself, sitting down with his guitar and making it, but that would be pure guesswork on my end. Me, on the other hand, I had a vision for this album, Arctic Thunder, that I would make Darkthrone a bit more introverted this time. Why? Since we finally got our own studio again (thanks to Ted’s initiative back in 2005) we’ve been making a lot of freestyle
records; many of the songs having lots of glint in their eyes. However, our last album shaved away some of the many styles we play and was a bit more serious but still incorporating heaps of different styles. We were very pleased with The Underground Resistance and personally I was wondering how to top it. So years went by and I felt the same way. That album was some kind of mammoth for us and it was hard to deal with the fact that we would either have to kill that mammoth or go around it. The latter was chosen (talking again about my own take on making new songs here) and I opted to shave away some more styles, leaving my usual knack for writing speed metal songs in the way of the Swedish 1983-1985 style behind. So what was there for me to make? SLOW HEAVY METAL. When I slowly decided to try for another album (back in the middle of 2015) I had 4 albums in mind. This doesn’t mean that I will sit down and listen to the albums and try to copy anything, but it’s more like a road map. Or after hearing music my whole life I choose away all of those thousands of albums and songs I do not want my inspiration to latch on to – instead creating a vision of a direction that I do want to delve into. Four albums were Dream Death - Journey Into Mystery (1987 New Renaissance Records), Sacrilege Within The Prophecy (1987 Under One Flag), Black Sabbath - Mob Rules (1981 Warner Bros.) and Candlemass - Epicus Doomicus Metallicus (1986 Black Dragon Records). After all the songs were recorded and I was given a copy of the recorded album from Ted, I discovered that there were, for instance, nothing in my songs that reminded me of Candlemass so you can see that I am not exactly working like a robot or anything. However there were riffs on my songs that had the feel of the other three albums, and also some Iron Maiden, some Hellhammer, some early Exodus and some Autopsy and some Necrophagia 1987 style and so on. A riff will typically come like striking lightning into my brain and then I will have to hum it until I reach my guitar or I will have to record it on my phone. From there I will typically play that riff and start to make other riffs that will fit. Who knows how I make that process work and what inspires me but it is just me and that guitar and all the music I ever heard (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a lot) and what I choose away and that little tiny speck that I decide to keep. I will tell you a secret here – what I am really trying to write is what I would have written in 1988 if 1: I had the writing skills
“I always figure out what is happening and I instinctively (it seems) go to the next place or the previous place where people left but I know there is a hole and nature hates a vacuum.” and drum experience back then and 2: if we didn’t go into more death metal territory, which we did in late 1988/ early 1989. What I am writing is THE REAL ORIGINAL DARKTHRONE MUSIC, back to the real roots. It always says in biographies about us online that we started out as a death metal band but listening to our first demo it is clear to everyone that we did not, we had all sorts of inspirations that were way older than that. It’s usually said that a band needs to tour in order to continue its existence, especially financially. Given that Darkthrone aren’t in this camp, do you find it difficult to keep the band moving, recording and releasing? You think? Our job is going to work. On our day jobs. We don’t have to do any of this, we are just honouring the ways of old metal and people can take it or leave it. Beautiful, innit? But I always thought that what made the old bands bad (80s metal) was that they stopped listening to a lot of other bands, peers, underground, and just started focusing on their own careers. Hence they lost track. I have always been very adamant to that whole “listening to others bands” thing and therefore I know what is happening and also where not to go. I don’t go where there are many others, I always figure out what is happening and I instinctively (it seems) go to the next place or the previous place where people left but I know there is a hole and nature hates a vacuum. Feel me? You’ve said that you and Ted usually have to coincide with one another in terms of wanting to write and record– if one isn’t into it, it gets scrapped until you’re both ready. With that in mind, how the fuck are Darkthrone still so prolific?
Holy shit, I just touched base with all of this above, didn’t I? [laughs] I thank you for the kind words but I do believe I explained this above here in some way or I can’t describe it at all. It helps that I listen to so much metal and it helps the way we record. For this album we put the amp in front of the drum kit and we play real loud and hard on the drums. Doesn’t matter that the guitar leaks into the drums and vice versa, the sound is hard and we don’t have the means to do much with it afterwards. There is only mixing of levels and then the mastering (done by Jack Control of World Burns To Death in Texas). And that’s it. This means it won’t sound very controlled at all, it’s not “professional” but at least it’s fresh. People seem to like it. We must be one of the biggest underground bands or something - it’s a strange position to be in. We never thought we’d be bigger than, say, Thanatos! You’ve got a hell of a back catalogue behind you. What albums hold the strongest personal connection to you and are there any that seem alien in hindsight? The alien one would be that concept album we did on Sigourney Weaver. Well, when I researched for our 3lp best of box with our book called Black Death And Beyond I decided to rate all our albums. I already rate all the stuff I listen through (it’s over 1000 promos a year) for my radio show and DJ’ing and making comps and playlists. And so I rated all our albums and what came up statically was that our best albums were under a funeral moon and the cult is alive. Now, I tend to like songs or riffs the most but as a whole I’d say under a funeral moon is my fave. You’ve not just championed metal over the years, but also Norwegian and Scandinavian metal in particular. How do you feel Norway’s contributions to metal have stood up against those of their European and US counterparts? Nah man, I just champion what I like. In the 80s that was a lot of South American stuff, but I get promos from around the world; you can just check the lists of my Radio Fenriz show to figure out statistically what countries get most air time. I’d say it’s Sweden and USA these days but I didn’t go in and check the statistics. It’s nothing I champion, it’s just the result of what I hear and what gets played. Simple but I don’t have the time to check those statistics. Every country seems to have its heyday, Germany in particular had 84-86 along with many others but if you think about it there wasn’t a lot of great German metal in the 90s (or
INTERVIEW // DARKTHRONE
any other country but that’s another story). And so it goes on. However Sweden and USA always delivered. Norway has certain styles but they don’t deliver much on all styles. Statistically I don’t get a lot of promos from Norway anyway, you should ask someone else because when I joined the international underground in ‘87 it meant just that - international. As metal is. I don’t have a strong Norwegian focus at all. Black Viper is the new best upcoming band from here, and Black Magic is the best, we all know that. And they keep on delivering, Jon is quite the talent. Actually, what does ‘heavy metal’ mean to you anyway? Is it a sound, an attitude or something else entirely? Easy. Put on the first Metal Church album. A-side. There you have it. HM means to me eternally many recordings and styles but you’d be smart to take my initial advice here. “Beyond the Black” and “Gods of Wrath”. There you have it. (Man, that must be my best answer ever in an interview.) You were involved heavily with the Until The Light Takes Us
documentary. Do you feel that film helped clear up a lot of the misconceptions of what you and others within the black metal scene were trying to do in the 90s, and did it change how you yourself were perceived? I never saw it. What prompted you to start your “Band of the Week” blog? It’s been really well received and some of the bands you’ve covered in it have gone on to do some impressive things, so how proud are you of what you’ve created there? I was on other sites where music was being shared and with all my musicalinput and the sudden discovery of In Solitude’s first album, I knew I had to do more. I already had a huge following, why not give something to those people? Same with Radio Fenriz, as Darkthrone had amassed a huge following of enthusiastic and involved people on our Facebook. We only got like 260,000 but those people aren’t sleepers, I can tell ya that. There’s a weird obsession with musical purity amongst certain parts of the black metal community. Does it offer a sense of freedom that, no
matter what you create, it’s going to piss someone off since you’re not rehashing Under A Funeral Moon? People can do what they want but if they fail to understand that early players of black metal had a variety of styles back to the 60s to feed on, then they are not like us. That’s all I can say. I was always the one to leave a band if I didn’t like it no more anyway - always made sense that people only liked certain of our albums anyway. You said that you went through a bit of a self-destructive period in the 90s. Did coming out the other side of that alive change how you thought about what you were doing with Darkthrone? Not at all, I’d say. Fuck my mind, it really tried to destroy me but “I” won. And Darkthrone remains. Anyhow, cheers once again, I really appreciate your time. If you have any last words for the mag, just shout them out here. Don’t forget to listen to Malokarpatan.
ARCTIC THUNDER IS OUT NOW ON PEACEVILLE RECORDS
1 REPULSIVE | 2 PURE SHIT | 3 TERRIBLE | 4 MUST AVOID | 5 AVERAGE | 6 GOOD EFFORT | 7 GOOD | 8 VERY GOOD | 9 EXCELLENT | 10 PURE CLASSIC
RUN THE JEWELS
Run The Jewels Inc. (2016)
iller Mike and El-P were not always so loved and venerated. All started to change with Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music (2012), which was produced entirely by El-P, and then the relationship that we all love was sediment with the birth of Run the Jewels and the release of their self-titled debut album. Like a good left punch, most people didn’t see it coming and it knocked the fuck out of us all. El-P’s weird, incisive, and dense production chops gave a platform to a crazy combination between Killer Mike’s super aggressive flow and straightforward lyrics and El-P’s own lyrical style that’s extremely witty and multilayered. From that was born a super bashing rap album with a crazy ass level of braggadocio and some much needed intelligence (“DDFH”). All good and fine but then it comes RTJ2 and shit just gets thrown to a whole new level. The duo just
reemerged more blood thirsty and savage than you ever expected – if there’s ever a serious discussion about the illest opening tracks of all time then “Jeopardy” will have to be mentioned because we can’t ignore how Killer Mike just smashed the world with the untamed tiger spirit of Balboa himself. RTJ2 just magnified the beast. The two were coming at us with the most foul, vicious, and nasty rhymes and sounds. It was disgusting, gut-wrenching would be the understatement of the year... but the beast was also more socially and politically conscious than ever (a nod to their solo works). “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”, “Early”, and even the soul-baring “Crown”, made RTJ more than just the illest rap duo around, it made them fuckin’ dangerous - “Conditions create a villain, the villain is given vision / The vision becomes a vow to seek vengeance on all the vicious” (“Close Your Eyes”).
The question that followed the release of RTJ2 was, “Is there more steps to climb in the RTJ’s ladder?” The answer is clearer as untainted water: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat, boys, you’re in trouble” (“Down”). To start talking about RTJ3 we might to go back to a Killer Mike song released back in 2008 in his album PL3DGE. The song in question is “God In The Building 2”, a song that Mike wrote at the crossroads, a song that talked about his life choices when his future was extremely uncertain, a song that El-P couldn’t stop listening to the point of his girlfriend asking him why was he listen to it so much to what he replied “Baby, sometimes you just get it right. This motherfucker got it right on this song.” The opening track on RTJ3, “Down”, seems to tap into that same mindset even if the times have changed for them, in a way. There’s even some ideas repeated in both songs – the Devil being a lie,
people praying for Mike’s demise, and his unshakable will to take the high road. If “Jeopardy” (opening track of RTJ2) was just nasty as fuck, then opening track “Down” is the deep state of consciousness through meditation before going to war. And that’s what they are doing here, they are going to war and not even the lack of bulletproof vest seems to slow down their will - “This is spiritual warfare that you have been dealing with. This is not a fight that you have been dealing with flesh and blood but this is a fight against principalities and evil doers and unclean spirits” (“Talk To Me”). Not that RTJ were born in a shit-free era but things have escalated rather quickly in the last couple of years and when 2016 gives strong hints that the end is near, the deadliest duo of our times rise once again to deliver their most cutting edge effort, firing bullets with the precision of Simo Häyhä and offering a clearness in this dark times
when a revolution seems like the only option. RTJ3 goes after the masters in the name of the “classless masses”, and in doing it takes as fair game the show of horrors that is war (that is ok taking advantage of children), the corruption that seems inherent to power, police brutality, the unrelentless greed that leads to obnoxious atrocities, the consequences of political correctness, the lack of empathy that dominates our world, our horrible “leaders”, and much more. In a time where music seems to make an effort to not be social and politically aware, in a time where people are losing money because they dare to tell what they think is the truth, Killer Mike and El-P say “FUCK YOU!” and take advantage of their spotlight to speak their minds in an unforgiving way, making it impossible (at least if you have a little bit of shame) to overlook the message. But even though their art holds an
extremely high value, there’s not elitist manners to it. RTJ’s art on RTJ3 thrives with its appealing sounds and moves, creates excitement at every weird ass sound, and even in its eclectic nature – El-P is one of the dopest producers to ever do it, and his greatness (“I’m the son of Rick Rubin rushing full-thrust,” he says) has been untouchable even when he pushes himself like he did with this masterpiece of an album - is able to grab every single one of us, never assuming that the audience is too dumb to get it. When Run the Jewels was created, there was a seed planted in the ground. A few years later that same seed is bearing more fruit that we could ever imagined. A fruit that can feed millions of “hungry” people. The question is: will we be strong and courageous enough to eat the fruit, to rise up and fight, or are we just going to look at it while it rots?
7 ABSENT IN BODY The Abyss Stares Back # 5
AFI AFI (The Blood Album) Concord Records (2017)
Hypertension Records (2017)
Absent in Body is a collaboration between Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mathieu Vandekerckhove (Syndrome/Amenra) and Colin H Van Eeckhout (Amenra/CHVE). This is the fifth and final installment of their The Abyss Stares Back collaboration series of releases. Intense, uncomfortably repetitive and atmosphericly vast, there’s this kind of stratosphere-scrapping climax over these 20 minutes of pure complexity that will leave your body and soul out of place, something close to a dark and bumpy journey to the unknown, it will haunt you for days and shake your own sanity. Short, but tremendously effective. FAUSTO CASAIS
AFI (The Blood Album) is the band’s 10th fulllength studio album and the first for Concord Records, but is also obviously burdened with the weight of expectation. And it’s great to report that this new effort is standout. Dark and addictive, there’s always something romantic and heavily emotional in Davey Havok typical and stunning vocals, his gut-punching lyrics are more direct and sharp, everything sounds immediate and Jade Puget’s trademark layered distortion keeps AFI’s classic dynamics and melodies intact. Somewhere between the boldness of Decemberunderground, the rawness of Sing The Sorrow and modern approach of Burials, AFI (The Blood Album) is as you might expect, another impressive and artistic statement, perhaps AFI’s most accomplished and strongest effort of their career. FAUSTO CASAIS
AS LIONS Selfish Age
Better Noise Records (2017)
After As Lions’ solid debut EP earlier this year, the British rock prospects return, now with their debut full-length, Selfish Age. Ok, with Rise To Remain dead and buried our hopes that Austin Dickinson (son of the one and only Bruce Dickinson) could bring something new and fresh with this new project were a bit average. Selfish Age is dynamic, at times strong and well-polished (perhaps a bit too much…), it shows the natural evolution of this still young band, but fails to bring something new and different. Overall, this is not a bad effort, but it’s not special and it’s not quite good enough.
FAUSTO CASAIS 13.01
AVENGED SEVENFOLD The Stage
BLACK ANVIL As Was
The metal heads will love this. The new album, The Stage, from California band Avenged Sevenfold is rough and ready, complex in its delivery. And it banishes the disappointment of Hail To The King, a record that fell short. On this occasion, the act place everything they have into it, creating an opus that hits like a thud, like a thunder bolt, and you know what it’s riveting. As the record goes on, it will grow on the sceptical listener, pushing them into a guitar driven trance. Songs like “Paradigm” and “Creating God”mark the return of the guitar trickery and gritty vocals from M Shadows.
Austin’s Roger Sellers is the man behind Bayonne and Primitives is his very first full-length. Experimental and abstract are probably the best words to describe the sonic experience one can have while getting into Bayonne’s unique and lushy music world. Very detailed and with a vast range of sounds, Primitives is quite tasteful and vibrant, though it tends to be repetitive. Not that is a bad thing over here, but once you get immersed in the wall of sounds and textures, it can be fun but also it can get tedious. Overall, Primitives is a rich and amusing record that works perfectly like a getaway from the real world.
As Was marks the return of Black Anvil and it’s also the follow-up to 2014’s excellent Hail Death. Once again, the New York four piece have crafted something special, showing a strangely brutal ferocity alongside with their remarkably cohesive blend of atmospheric black metal with melody. Black Anvil prove themselves to be by far more complex and diverse than ever, showing their natural and continuous progression. Only a few limited number of bands are willing to expand upon established concepts, but these dudes are taking everything to another new level, way beyond the black metal spectrum.
City Slang (2016)
Relapse Records (2017)
FILE UNDER: JAWBOX DINOSAUR JR. BRAID
CLOUD NOTHINGS Life Without Sound
9 BLACK BOMBAIM & PETER BRÖTZMANN Black Bombaim & Peter Brötzmann Lovers & Lollypops (2016)
Despite being a prolific collaborator for the past fifty years, Peter Brotzmann doesn’t really need anyone else. That much is clear from the opening minutes of this collaboration with Portugese psyched-out rockers Black Bombaim in which Brotzmann stands alone and aloof, pouring out the howling ecstatic through his sax in maximum demon expulsion mode. He could have done this for the full 47 minutes of this exemplary release and still have left listeners reeling and battered. Still, when Black Bombaim make their dramatically blazing entrance they prove fully-fledged sparring partners more than able to hold their own. It brings to mind a possible past in which Brotzmann could have collaborated with Hawkwind in full blast space terror mode. One with which to blow away the winter blues. EUAN ANDREWS
Wichita Recordings (2017)
eason might tell you to believe in what already exists instead of having confidence or faith of what can possibly exist. The first feels safer but the latter is undeniably more exciting. Just take a good and deep look at Cloud Nothings. The Cleveland, Ohio quartet started off with a mildly pleasing lo-fi pop, worked with Steve Albini on Attack on Memory to inject some rock grit power, crafted an extremely pleasing and addictive rock album with Here and Nowhere Else, and have now marvelously carved what’s arguably their first truly great album. Life Without Sound is an album that stubbornly and continuously provides little pearls with its big chorus and hooks, the massive riffs, the gentle and also agitating rhythmic section, or even with the extremely cunning moves used to create shimmering transitions and gorgeous dynamics. There’s much to be said about an album where you manage to be super excited with at any time, even when you’ve been listening to it for the last three hours. ESSENTIAL TRACKS: Up To The Surface, Darkened Rings, Strange Year
8 ESBEN AND THE WITCH Older Terrors Season Of Mist (2016)
voice rises wraithlike from squalls of white noise and an avalanche of percussion; searing blasts of distortion subside into a hushed, eerie calm before redoubling in intensity; emotions are yanked from despair to rage to grudging acceptance - these tumultuous progressions may be nothing new for followers of EatW yet it’s a formula they are steadily tweaking to progression. They’re a trio who know that power and intensity don’t necessarily equal volume, and in many ways it’s Older Terrors’ stillest moments that are the most suffocating, where Rachel Davies stands alone and sounds more like an angel of retribution than anything earthbound. These sections snake around the bursts of fury and sound with unsettling ease and the combination is enough to leave the unwary breathless, using repetition and contrast to deliver an emotional carpet-bombing. Even if followers think they have a handle on Esben... this might still hit hard. DAVE BOWES STAFF PICK
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX Bronze
CHILDISH GAMBINO “Awaken, My Love”
Season Of Mist (2016)
DANIEL WOOLHOUSE What’s The Sound?
Have you ever wondered what would make a good soundtrack for those moments of chaos? Those moments that you can’t gather your thoughts and everything flies by you? Look no further, Bronze is just the ticket. In his sixth album, multi-instrumentalist Justin Greaves has crafted some of the most beautiful genre-crossing compositions of his career and despite the various influences and experimentations – from blues elements to doom-laden riffs - Bronze is still a masterpiece of simplicity. It doesn’t feel cluttered and it doesn’t try too hard to make a post-rock statement. Murky melodies, lamentations, tender moments, soul-piercing vocals weave a web that will take over your brain for weeks to come. Don’t spend another second without this album in your life.
Childish Gambino’s third album, “Awaken, My Love!”, might not illustrate originality in its most pure and conservative form but... who the fucking cares when we have an album like this one? Gambino became a father, took a look back at his father’s record collection and created an album that has immensurable heart and soul. He embraced 70’s soul, funk, R&B, and rock music and carved an album that thrills and astounds at every corner. “Have a word for your brother. Have some time for one another. Really love one another.” Let’s not diminish the value and importance of such words in times like these, especially when they’re wrapped around with such beautiful and touching sonic expressions.
Mature. Simple. Heartful. What an album! The debut of London-based Daniel Woolhouse, a one man show with an overwhelming talent and now under his real name after having released two previous efforts under the name of Deptford Goth. Intimacy and plenty of creativity push us to our limits with the hard but so well written lyrics having a major role in the construction of this emotional record. It’s easy to feel plenty of joy and hope during the listening, for more than once, proving that is capable of awaking our most inner feelings. The complexity of instrumentation, by just portraying a simple message, is a great reward to the listener and a truly joyride. Slowly delivered, everything respects the time to absorb all, with a strange combination of loudness and quiet moments. “Crazy Water” is a masterpiece.
37 Adventures (2016)
FLE UNDER: Funkadelic, Prince, The Isley Brothers
I 8 ENTER SHIKARI Live At Alexandra Palace PIAS (2016)
guess the two things that have happened recently are the “Hoodwinker” single and the release of the Live At Alexandra Palace album. Going for that last one first, did you always have in mind that the London show was one you wanted recorded? I think it was quite late in the day that we decided to record it. We just wanted to have it documented because it seemed like a big step for the band. It was our first arena headline tour and with everything that was put into it, like the quadraphonic sound and all the visuals, it felt like we had become something a bit larger – more theatrical, almost. Unfortunately, the video didn’t work out right so we just put a few songs up on YouTube for that, but we felt we should definitely release the audio. It was an incredible show and a really surreal night. It’s such a cavernous place and a really beautiful venue; its age and how it looks and feels, and the fact that there’s no balcony or seating - it’s not your traditional venue, in that respect. Everyone’s on one level and it makes
have never seen Enter Shikari live, and I have always wanted to. They have never been amongst my favorite bands, but they are pretty high on my “bucket list”. Their energy, creativity and eccentricity are something every music fan should experience. This record is another proof of that. Not many bands could get away with such genre bending, and, I will say it, weird and chaotic music. Enter Shikari do it easily, they feel comfortable doing it, and it seems like they enjoy every second of it. It’s easily heard on this record, that positives aside, have only one flow – technical problem that stopped it from being a DVD. MILJAN MILEKIC
ENTER SHIKARI - ROU REYNOLDS // Q&A it feel like such a unifying experience. How did you find the experience of setting up the quadraphonic sound? It was a headfuck basically. [laughs] We gave ourselves three months prep and about a month into it, it was like, “Fuckin’ hell, have we bitten off more than we can chew?” It was a lot of work. The only band we’ve seen that have done it was Roger Waters when we played at Coachella about five years back; you can easily imagine how Pink Floyd’s music works in quadraphonic sound – it’s interesting, multi-layered music. We were inspired to do it and no-one’s really done it since then, but it was a hell of a lot of work. We had to reprogram all the electronics, all the physics that went into mapping out each venue and working out where the speakers would go, but the relief when it all came together and how great it sounded, what it brought to the show, was worth all the graft. Was it all done yourselves or did you have a cabal of audio engineers working behind the scenes? We did all the actual programming ourselves and had some help from a
couple of different companies, because at first we didn’t know exactly how we were going to do it, software-wise. We tried a few different routes. I guess the simplest route was the hardest work because we use Ableton live for all our sequences and mapping out our guitar changes, synth changes and stuff like that, and we managed to continue using Ableton and the surround-sound technical option in Logic, and they’re two programs we’re quite comfortable with already, so we decided to stick with those. They work quite well, so the only things we really needed help with on the show days was when it came to venue mapping because of all the different delays and reverberations, which would change with each venue. You have to angle the speakers perfectly; we’d have a speaker stack in each corner with ten speakers in each stack, and each one of those has to be angled differently to hit different points of the venue at different times. It was incredibly scientific so we needed a trained engineer to do all that stuff.
WORDS BY DAVE BOWES
8 FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES Modern Ruin International Death Cult/Kobalt (2017)
hat’s more important to understand Frank Carter nowadays? Gallows or Pure Love? No need to get mad but it’s probably Pure Love. That’s kind of the tipping point, where everything was redesigned and refocused. If the band’s debut Blossom seemed to bring back a glimpse of good ol’ Frank then the new album, Modern Ruin, makes things even more complicated with its unrestrained will to make things more melodically appealing and allowing itself to slow down innumerous times, intensifying all the bursts of energy. You see, Modern Ruin is a rock album to the bone and between its addictive hooks, heart-pumping riffs, sexy moves, and eclectic nature, there’s the “birth” of a truly great rock singer that is as versatile as dynamic. In a time where seems to exist a strange tendency to ignore rock-based acts, Modern Ruin is another great “FUCK OFF AND DIE” response. TIAGO MOREIRA
5 DEVILMENT II - The Mephisto Waltzes Nuclear Blast (2016)
Any Dani Filth fan who enjoy his vocals will find plenty to like in this album as he experiments with a wider range and in this album his partner in crime Lauren Francis has a more prominent role with a combination of operatic and softer vocals making her the most pleasant surprise of this album. There’s no doubt that this album is a step up from the band’s debut album and it definitely features some catchy tunes with ear-worm choruses on songs like “Hitchcock Blonde” and “Shine On Sophie Moone”, however the concoction of symphonic, groovecore, gothic rock and the Cradle of Filth brushstrokes here and there might not be to everyone’s taste as everything comes across a bit muddled in the overall chaotic sound.
7 DOT LEGACY To The Others
Setalight Records (2016)
Creating an album that goes deep into retro rock and blends Beastie Boys’ esque with At The Drive In’s powerful energy is quite something. To The Others is an experimental triumph, charmingly produced, because it’s neither too sweet or lacking in punch. The infectious Zeppelin-like riffing, the 70’s classic rock homage, the countless energy and the Beastie Boys’ rapping style sounds strange but it’s genuinely effective. As audacious as it is outlandish, To The Others is a weird but rewarding experience, sounds like a band fed up with today’s music and determined to create something different to the norm. Well done lads!
DOWNFALL OF GAIA Atrophy Metal Blade (2016)
With Atrophy being intended as “a record about the absurdity of life and of human existence”, it’s certain that it was never going to be a straightforward listen, nor a comfortable one. “Brood” is a ferocious opening gambit, a filth-caked wall of modern black metal that pulls few punches, but it’s the two-part centrepiece “Ephemerol” that stresses the ambition that has grown in this lot in the past two years. From its clarion beauty and sparse, mournful melodicism to the inevitable deluge of blastbeats and windswept tremolo that doesn’t so much revere its second wave forebears than challenge them to step outside, it’s an expertly executed slice of atmospheric black metal in an album that is positively drowning in them. Balancing subtlety and intensity is a tricky act but... Gaia have turned it into art. DAVE BOWES
GONE IS GONE Echolocation Rise Records (2017)
Gone Is Gone is an atmospheric and experimental supergroup featuring Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen, At the Drive-In’s Tony Hajjar and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin. Echolocation is Gone Is Gone’s debut fulllength, just 6 months after releasing their self-titled EP. Sounding heavier, harsher and more expansive, this is an effort that seems built on their own levels of intensity, full of heavy distortion and highly charged, progressive and haunting atmospheric anthems. Tracks like “Dublin” or even lead single “Sentient” are just two good examples of their shattering and wide top notch creativity. Echolocation is eerie and enigmatic hypnotic, with the ability to sound epic and weird at the same time. FAUSTO CASAIS
HONEYBLOOD Babes Never Die
FatCat Records (2016)
Two years following the release of Honeyblood’s self-titled debut, a record that propelled them to the spotlight, comes Babes Never Die, an undoubtedly more mature and centered record that might just be a bit too polished. Recorded with new drummer Cat Myers, Babes Never Die is caught somewhere between shoegaze and riot grrrl, yet sounds utterly modern. The first half of the album comes in full throttle, all scratchy riffs and scathing lines delivered with a side of attitude, but seems to lose momentum as it progresses, relying a little bit too much on the subtleness of some songs. By the time you get to the quite anti-climactic “Outro”, gems like the title track and “Ready For The Magic” are simply lost in the haze of lo-fi sweetness. ANTIGONI PITTA
DRAB MAJESTY The Demonstration
Drab Majesty is the project of Deb Demure, “an interdimensional muse of sorts, lent an otherworldly vision to a human contact”. The Demonstration is an exquisite, genuine and expansive remarkable effort. Perfectly rooted in the 80’s dark wave and combining influences from David Bowie to The Cure, from Sisters of Mercy to The Smiths, The Demonstration takes Drab Majesty’s art form to a new level, going as far into the atmosphere as one can travel while being earthbound. Strange and elegant, this is an album that ebbs and flows naturally, that will grow on you and stay inside your head for a while.
Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), Jason Sanford (Neptune), and Gavin McCarthy (Karate), have created a new project that goes by the name of E. On their self-titled debut album the trio deliver music that is and feels like the result of an honest and heartfelt collaborative effort that blossoms from a huge harmony. Pictures are painted with gentle brushes throughout its ten tracks even when it sounds somehow aggressive and harsh, the machine never feels offbeat or lacking, even though it heavily relies on a refined rhythmic sense and there’s no bassist whatsoever. There are many collaborative projects like E (with seasoned artists joining forces), but just a few are able to find this kind of synergy and deliver in such way.
Thrill Jockey (2016)
DAIS Records (2017)
FLE UNDER: The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus
GABRIELLA COHEN Full Closure And No Details
Dot Dash/Captured Tracks (2016)
Gabriella Cohen describes her debut album as “the ceremony of reflecting on a relationship” and that’s the exact feeling you will get after listening to these raw and personal songs. Cohen is also known for her band The Furrs - where she shares writing duties with Jim Griffin - but in going solo, Cohen goes deeper into a much more immersive approach of her experiences. Full Closure And No Details is a quite simple and accessible album, but is its rawness that surprises the most. It’s soaked with all sorts of relatable sad and melancholic emotions along with timeless and dreamy melodies. It feels sometimes like a painful but impactful dream.
8 IRON REAGAN Crossover Ministry
Relapse Records (2017)
omprised of veterans Tony Foresta, Phil Hall, Mark Bronzino, Rob Skotis, and Ryan Parrish, between them they fill, or have bursting the ranks of Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, Mammoth Grinder, Darkest Hour and numerous other bands. Iron Reagan are once again flying the flag for old-school hardcore/punk metal infused – and fuck, they sound glorious and insanely good! Never slowing down, Crossover Ministry is irreverent, sharp and straight to the point, toxic enough to make you even more sick of this corrupt and dying world, an headbanging reality check affair, for sure. With catchy and addictive riffs, Crossover Ministry is a brutal slant to the proceedings, their hardcore/punk attitude is simple and utterly enthralling. Iron Reagan were never easy listening, but this is getting ridiculous. A glorious win! FAUSTO CASAIS
GUTTERMOUTH New Car Smell EP
New Car Smell EP is the follow-up to Got It Made, their first EP and new music in 10 years, which was released in early July. Short, fast and loud, Guttermouth’s new EP is an engaging example of how to combine supreme consistency, flawless and offensive anthems with quality songwriting. In a year that saw the awesome comeback of the Descendents and Guttermouth, it’s fair to say that we miss that gold punk era when The Vandals, The Adolescents and Social Distortion were the law. New Car Smell sounds punk, smells like punk and screams punk attitude, so trust us that the songs will sound just as fresh as just anthemic for a long time.
With a knack for creating memorable yet unconventional melodies, Montreal’s Heat are post-punk revivalists, but they proudly show off their alternative rock side by creating this kind of immediate, thrilling and euphoric revivalist nostalgia. From the classic Psychedelic Furs esque to The Clash raspy tunes, from Echo and The Bunnymen expansive sound to Interpol’s in your face attitude, Overnight is full of poppy songs, it’s loud and woozy, it’s full of distortion and sugary sweet intensity. A revival joy full of nostalgia, sounds oldschool, it’s dark and heavy-hearted, but their melodies are straight to the point and colourful.
Rude Records (2016)
Ear Music (2016)
Topshelf Records (2017)
HELMET Dead To The World
Even for anyone with just an ephemeral interest in alternative metal, Helmet is a recognizable name. Page Hamilton and his co-conspirators have managed to create along with bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden a very distinctive form of heavy music. Without their pivotal contribution, the musical landscape would most definitely be very different. At first glance this release seems very bland and mild when compared to Strap it On or Meantime, but repeated spins will reveal sonic details maybe you’ve missed at first glance. Like many of the releases that came after the aforementioned classics, this is not an immediate rewarding record, but if you are patient the record will reveal its secrets. Also the record gets better as you move NUNO BABO along through the tracks.
J 8 JESS WILLIAMSON Heart Song Brutal Honest (2016)
FLE UNDER: Neko Case, Emma Ruth Rundle, Emily Jane White
ess Williamson’s voice is mesmerizing, haunting and strange. Heart Song, her second LP, is beautiful and elegiac in the way that a sunset is wondrous before it gives way to a deep blackness. While three tracks stretch well beyond the six minute mark, the interest and personality in Williamson’s vocals prevent any monotony from arising amidst the simple instrumental backdrops. Her cadences break through the delicate, finger picked canvas and unveil poetry that is unexpectedly darker than the folk-influenced, country facade. Songwriting is the heart of the record, after all. “And when you need her the most, that’s when she’ll leave you with the memory of her smile…” She inflicts character into her words at the exact time necessary for the lyric to be heartbreaking and to deeply resonate within. Some records are meant to be listened to in the black of night or alone in nature - this is one of those such collections of melancholic serenity. Heart Song is a stunning, sometimes somber, landscape that echoes the vast, shifting horizons of Williamson’s native Texas. TEDDIE TAYLOR
5 HILMA NIKOLAISEN Puzzle
300 Entertainment (2016)
Fysisk Format (2016)
I’M GLAD IT’S YOU The Things I Never Say
Highly Suspect’s debut record Mister Asylum was one of the best rock records of 2015. Their sophomore release, however, does not wander far enough from its predecessor. As they’ve proven, the trio can pump out both massive bluesy, alt-rock songs and more balladesque pieces; here, though, they failed to fly to the grungedout levels they are capable of reaching. “My Name Is Human” and “Serotonia” are miles above the other tracks and fulfill the expectations set by the band’s Grammy nomination last year. Although there are high points vocally, lyrically and riff-wise, the Brooklynites failed to push their sound hard enough with The Boy Who Died Wolf.
Jangly pop to bristly, laid back r&b esque dream-rock – this album floats around like a feather caught on a warm breeze. Welcoming, inviting, loving – it smothers you in a warmth and a gentle embrace that makes you settle into its dreamy, summer time vibe and does not let go. Genuinely a joy to listen to, a clinging, lingering sense of happiness permeates form the speakers long after the stereo is turned off, and some of the songs make you return to them, wide eyed and open minded. Hilma Nikolaisen’s Puzzle is a release that exists in the WIN column, any way you cut it.
I’m Glad It’s You debut album is exactly what its title means. In other words, their music feel like the band’s deepest thoughts that they never say out loud, but in these ten songs there are no secrets, no mysteries. Just raw and honest words about true emotions of a songwriter with his need to tell the world how he feels and letting the music be his outlet. Musically influenced by the ‘90s alt-rock, I’m Glad It’s You are quite humble and honest when it comes to write their songs and The Things I Never Say is packed with cathartic and heartfelt tunes. This album is a great example of how letting yourself go and say everything you have to say.
HIGHLY SUSPECT The Boy Who Died Wolf
6131 Records (2016)
7 JOAN OF ARC He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands Joyful Noise Recordings (2017)
heir goal in 1996 was “creating music for no audience,” and 20 years later they maintain their integrity. Joan of Arc’s He’s Got The Whole This Land Is Your Land In His Hands is an experimental/avant-garde rock album that doesn’t self-restrain itself, always venturing through a multitude of sonic explorations that rewards the consideration of any idea, even if the end result might sound or look a bit fragmentary. In the end, we are left with an album that thrills and surprises at every unexpected left turn and that is an absolute pleasure to get lost in – both lyrically and sonically. It’s also funny to see that Joan of Arc’s new album starts exactly how many people will end their 2016: “What the fuck?” TIAGO MOREIRA
IN FLAMES Battles
JIMMY EAT WORLD Integrity Blues
KLEE PROJECT The Long Way
There’s always a lot of criticism regarding In Flames’ previous efforts, it seems that only a few understand that when a band wants to move forward, push forward their sound and not be stuck in the past is not the end of the world. Battles is one of In Flames’ strongest albums in years, probably their most diverse and rich album ever and Anders Fridén vocal duties are outstanding from start to finish. The extremities dynamic-wise shows that the whole album’s consistency is real, sharp and riveting. An album that perfectly demonstrates the striking yet brutal contrasts that makes Battles one of In Flames’ best albums in years.
I know it’s stupid, but I can’t help myself connecting a band to a specific period of a year. For me, Jimmy Eat World were always a band for the fall. Fallen leaves, cold weather, and rain were never my favorite things in life, but I always loved a soundtrack. Jimmy Eat World were just there. With their ninth studio album, they did it once again, and to make things better, the records is here just in time. Their melancholic, beautiful melodies and sleepy vocals hit in just perfectly. One thing I always love about this band is their consistence. They have never released a bad record. Ever. Integrity Blues is no different, and Get Better is ready for some future “Best Of” MILJAN MILEKIC compilation.
The Long Way is an utterly packed with bursting heavy and crunchy riffs, might sound cliché but their edgier metal sound is solid and unexpected addictive. The 13-tracker is littered with dirty, sleazy and groovy little gems, loaded with nods of classic heavy rock stadium anthems. Klee Project is an all-star project created from an idea of Roberto Sterpetti (a known Italian vocalist) singer, and Enrico “Erk” Scutti (ex cheope, ex Figure of Six) backing vocals and lyrics. The Long Way is an ambitious effort, it’s diverse and well crafted, but there’s nothing new here and sounds safe.
Nuclear Blast (2016)
Memorial Records (2016)
MENACE BEACH Lemon Memory
MICHAEL NAU Mowing
Memphis Industries (2017)
Menace Beach, Leeds-based Liza Violet and Ryan Needham return with Lemon Lemory, the follow-up to their excellent debut album, Ratworld. Fueled with fuzzed-up riffage and huge doses of distortion, Lemon Memory sounds lush and complex, their ability to create softly harmonies is unique, loose and more expansive. From the Beatles’ classic melodic esque to the Pavement’s meets Pixies indie fuzz-epics, it’s fair to say that Menace Beach’s sophomore effort is a solid win. Sounds refreshing, bold and experimental, the songwriting is tight and even more focused. Lemon Memory demands repeated listening. FAUSTO CASAIS
Suicide Squeeze Records (2016)
It’s not very often that we see the legacy of Tim Buckley, Lee Hazzlewood or even Smog’s Bill Calllahan so well portrayed. Mowing is Michael Nau’s well-crafted debut album. At first instance, it’s easy to observe the bright nuances and some luminosity, where every seemingly detail of work deserves the listener’s care and full attention. Mowing is an album of multiple moods and tones, but it has a solid, brilliant own intensity, even if sometimes there’s a melancholic cloud pairing this exquisite palette of emotions. Beautiful and subtle, delicate and simple, Mowing is a charming effort in every single way. A very special release indeed. FAUSTO CASAIS
Maple Music Recordings (2016)
MEMPHIS MAY FIRE This Light I Hold
Rise Records (2016)
MIKE WATT “Ring Spiel” Tour ’95
“I’ve been going round the bend, I’ve been taking lots of pills and… Things…” A perfectly sombre, but revealing opening to an album that is part way confessional and part way story-time from the chanteuse singer-songwriter. Martha returns with a vocal that sounds somewhere caught between a fever dream and her ninth double Jack and Coke, and music that is light, soothing, but brilliantly crafted. This album should be given to all single people over the age of thirty and under 45 who have had a go at love and lost hard. It’s a firm hug and a pat on the back in audio form and it is beautiful. One of the albums of the year, for its simple, elegant, easy charm.
Emotion rings true on the new release from Memphis May Fire. This Light I Hold, is an admirable return to form, an album featuring those trademark growls, as well as lyrics that pinpoint agony and the fight for redemption. Lead singer Matty Mullins sparks fury as he thrusts his vocals towards a blackened sky. He is also an enigmatic songwriter who produces words that are darkened by his ferocious mindset, a brain battered but still functioning. The new album contains impressive riffs that develop, layers of sound that grow. Songs such as “The Enemy” and “Letting Go”, tell the tales of unrest and burning hope.
Mike Watt was backed by Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, and William Goldsmith on his 1995 Ring Spiel tour, but one listen to Ring Spiel Tour ‘95 leaves no doubt about who was in the spotlight. The album, a raw recording from one night on the tour, is an incredible musical scrapbook of Watt’s different ventures, including classics from Minutemen and fIREHOSE, cuts from his first solo venture, Ball-hog or Tugboat? and covers from the likes of Blue Oyster Cult and Madonna. Watt dominates the stage beautifully with his out of control bass-wielding and snide vocal snarl, making the album feel like a snapshot of the night that the man became a legend. APRIL FOX
MARTHA WAINWRIGHT Goodnight City
8 NINE INCH NAILS Not The Actual Events REISSUE
MOTHER LOVE BONE On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works Stardog Records (2016)
Since Mother Love Bone had the potential to be one of the biggest rock bands to ever walk planet Earth and in their short period of activity (88-90) they’ve produced some of the most amazing hard rock songs ever, On Earth As It Is not only feels important but also extremely essential. Talking about MLB is talking about Green River, Malfunkshun, Skin Yard, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and a scene that gave us so much. They had the big songs with the hooks that remember you that life can be fuckin’ amazing, they had a great sense of humor, they were comfortable being vulnerable and emotional available, and their depth was scary just to think of. Much of the credit goes to their flamboyant frontman Andrew Wood, one of the brightest stars in the entire rock constellation. “A plethora of delights”. TIAGO MOREIRA
Self Released (2016)
Late last year, Trent Reznor declared, “New NIN coming in 2016. Other stuff, too.” Well, he really did it! Not The Actual Events is Nine Inch Nails new five song EP. By the way, the “other stuff” Trent mentioned is the OST for NASA’s Juno short film, the climate change documentary Before the Flood (featuring the song “A Minute To Breathe”) and Peter Berg’s film Patriots Day, set for wide release on 2017. Music is art and Reznor along with his now official bandmate Atticus Ross paint all over the inside of your skull. They also had some outside help, with Dave Grohl drumming on the track “The Idea of You”, Dave Navarro plays on “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)”, and Reznor’s wife and How to Destroy Angels’ bandmate, Mariqueen Maandig, appears on “She’s Gone Away”. Engaging and invigorating, this new EP is actually heavier and quite tumultuous than 2013’s Hesitation Marks. The measured almost metric use of repetition and addictive use of patterns is tempting enough to have the listener into a semi-hypnotic state from start to finish. Not The Actual Events is audacious and thrilling and you won’t be disappointed. FAUSTO CASAIS
7 NO MORE FEAR Malamente
Memorial Records (2016)
No More Fear prove themselves to be a far more diverse, complex and rewarding proposition with Malamente. Celebrating 20 years as band this year and showing no signs of slowing down, the Italian death metal return stronger, still fresh and loaded with contemporary and sonic ideas. Bringing their Italian roots to their extreme sound is bold, but they somehow managed to work it good, sounding simultaneously crushing and consistently from start-to-finish. Malamente goes beyond the classic death metal tag, it’s well balanced and full of tempered harmonies and arrangements. Well done! FAUSTO CASAIS
HOT NEW BAND
8 OCEAN GROVE The Rhapsody Tapes UNFD (2017)
FLE UNDER: Hellions, Northlane, 90’s Nu-Metal
elcome to the Odd World, where things happen. Odd World Music is a proudly invented genre that describes what happens when the Melbourne-based five piece put their heads and hearts together. The Rhapsody Tapes is Ocean Grove’s highly anticipated debut album, written and produced entirely by the band in Sam Bassal’s bedroom (drummer & producer). Unpredictably heavy, insanely catchy and where creative freedom seems to be the motto for the Melbourne gang. The Rhapsody Tapes “explores a fascination with a warped perception of reality… It tells parallel stories that come in waves… and parts of the album are written from the view of a child standing on the edge, looking out into a hyperreality in search of something,” says frontman Luke Holmes. This is an adventurous album that certainly defies expectations, both equally ear-punishing and gloriously uplifting, but it’s their unpredictable intensity fueled with raw aggression and nu-metal meets pop sensibility that makes us wonder what direction they would take next. There’s certainly more to come from a band who refuse to be pigeonholed. FAUSTO CASAIS STAFF PICK 20.01
OUT CAME THE WOLVES Strange Fate
PALE ANGELS Daydreaming Blues
Rock band Out Came The Wolves have embarked on creating energy with their record Strange Fate. The act, fit in with dark beauty, searching out for the macabre, with their knuckles pounding for answers. Their work is also courageous and entertaining, with the guitar strokes balanced well with the wild vocals. And as the lyrics prepare to evaluate your emotional state, you’ll naturally sing them out with a heart rattling to the sound of breakneck drumming. The songs that stand out with searing honesty are “Queen Mary” and “Bleed”, they’re both resounding efforts that certainly mark the record as a clear winner.
Transatlantic dynamic duo Michael Santostefano and Jamie Morrison are back with their third album, Daydreaming Blues. The album’s title basically says it all. Listening to their new album is like you’re daydreaming and feeling the blues at the same time. These new songs will mesmerize you and will stick in your head for a really long time, whether in a positive or negative way, because there’s joyful and depressing moments as well. Throughout the album, the duo give punk-driven songs with injection of more dark pop. Tracks like “Funeral” create involving atmoshpheres and quite hypnotic dark vibes. It’s an intense record, indeed.
Roadrunner Records (2016)
8 PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS Feed The Rats Rocket Recordings (2016)
Specialist Subject (2016)
Fuelled by tonic wine and the first four Sabbath albums, the debut full-length from Newcastle’s Pigsx7 has been a long time coming and it’s just as head-bangingly, Bucky-swiggingly huge as anyone could have hoped for. Drowning in reverb and with more fuzz than an Alsatian, it gets down to business quickly with “Psychopomp” lurching swamp sludge, Matthew Baty’s triumphant roar of “I am the demon, I am the night!” sending it spiralling down the rabbit-hole; the grimy boogie of “Sweet Relief” sees them cover further, jauntier territory and “Icon” has some of the finest riffing you’ll hear all year. This is monolithic stuff and if there was ever a band out there to keep an eye open for, it’s this lot. DAVE BOWES
8 PAPA M Highway Songs Drag City (2016)
FLE UNDER: Slint, Six Organs of Admittance
irst, the facts: the man tried to kill himself; the man didn’t die; the man realised some people do love him. And now here we are with a record that after all isn’t just made out of gorgeous cover art and apparent darkness. Kicking off with a Black Sabbath worshiping riff that should not do much for anyone who’s ever listened to, uh, Black Sabbath, “Flatliners” proves to be an interesting track due to all the flirting with feedback and distortion and delays in the lines of good ol’Six Organs of Admittance. Does this set the mood for the album? Absolutely not! Highway Songs works like a collections of ideas, sketches for something that may or may not become something else, but still played and recorded with high expertise. The album visits a wide range of ideas, late night thoughts in the old American highway, all the way from acoustic meditations to experimental electronic abstractions, some heavy metal silliness, and the couple of songs that are just so nice and warm. Though it seems rather relaxed and low profile, Highway Songs does not ever fail to show Pajo’s level of musicianship and pertinence. RICARDO ALMEIDA
REBEL KIND Just For Fools
SAIL ON! SAIL ON! You Are Not You
Just For Fools is Rebel Kind’s third fulllength and it’s also a statement of intent, it certainly underlines that this is much more than just a distinct and fine effort. Everything flows perfectly and it’s easy to relate with, from romantic discontentment to this urgent and almost immediate feelings of nostalgia we can’t ignore their affection for punchy anthems, turning gloomy tunes into this kind of instantaneous new crush. Reminiscent of early Best Coast, Courtney Barnett’s stripped down esque and Wire’s masterpiece Pink Flag, Just For Fools is soulful, cathartic and touching, an absolute triumph, if not as immediately accessible as you might expect.
Speedy Ortiz charismatic frontwoman Sadie Dupuis stands out on her own as an artist and as an individual, so to put those words on real display here’s her amazingly rich and musically stylish debut solo album. Slugger was self-produced, recorded and written by Dupuis, which gives more emphasis to this album. She has always been a fearless and outspoken musician, and just because she went solo doesn’t mean she slows down her creative burst and audacious approach. Slugger is attractive and it’s less rock than her previous works. She explores more 90s trip-hop, synth and sugary pop melodies. Dupuis is a real deal in everything.
Perth, Australia four piece Sail On! Sail On! debut album is an impressive beast, that swells pure emotion and honesty all over the place. Minimalist and truly epic, You Are Not You sounds fresh and exhilarating, somewhere between La Dispute’s Wildlife, The Chariot’s On Wing and Pianos Become The Teeth’s The Lack Long After. Pushing creativity and emotion to the limit with no such thing as boundaries attached, Sail On! Sail On! debut effort is a staggering achievement, with the ability to be immersive, intense and beautifully organic, all packed with a ferocious and frenetic spirit that only few bands could rival.
Carpark Records (2016)
So Sensation Records (2016)
Self Released (2017)
HOT NEW BAND
PETROL GIRLS Talk Of Violence
Bomber Music (2016)
etrol Girls’ Talk of Violence is urgent, direct and important. Tackling issues from feminism to patriarchal rule to the European refugee crisis, the band uses a compelling voice and fast paced, unafraid nature to tell its story. The record opens with a recording from a London Sisters Uncut demonstration in reaction to cuts to domestic violence services; from the very
beginning, the group asserts their political stance and delivers a passionate promise to challenge the rules of modern society and government. Every song feels crucial to people disenfranchised by the world and is an unignorable call for change, whether Ren Aldridge is singing or screaming her powerful messages. Not forsaking melody for meaning, the instrumentals lend a pop-punk, hardcore sound that keeps the tracks
FLE UNDER: G.L.O.S.S., Super Unison, Savages
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: False Peace, Touch Me Again, Clay
lighter and intriguing against the intensity of the vocals. Sometimes almost too soft compared to the subject matter, the contrast pushes Aldridge to the front so listeners cannot escape the purpose of her words as she warns on one track, “Touch me again and I will fucking kill you.” As long as there are issues that need confronting, Petrol Girls will be a strong presence in socially conscious, significant punk.
T 8 SUPERJOINT Caught Up In The Gears Of Application Housecore Records (2016)
FLE UNDER: Down, Eyehategod, Arson Anthem
hirteen years after the unfortunate discontinuation of Superjoint Ritual, the band has finally returned for their long-awaited third album. With the same severity, grit, anger, and speed as they possessed in the 2000s, Caught Up in the Gears of Application picks up right where the group left off. Perhaps one of the only major differences is the two new members, Joey “Blue” Gonzalez and Stephen Taylor, who play in Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, joining founders Kevin Bond, Jimmy Bower and Phil Anselmo. Incorporating their typical metal and sludge, this record possesses notes of hardcore punk more than ever before. Anselmo’s vocals are brutal, raw and punishing. Lyrically, the overriding themes regarding technology are obvious; “Clickbait,” one of the faster-paced tracks, brings to mind the countless articles written about his incident at Dimebash earlier in the year and “Sociopathic Herd Delusion,” in title alone, is a standout. The unrefined quality of the album adds to its appeal; the imperfection and roughness are essential, as Superjoint is a band that thrives on chaos in one form or another. Moving past the past, Superjoint have affirmed their return with a savage record that takes each member’s strengths and integrates them into a merciless hurricane of sound. TEDDIE TAYLOR
7 SHIT PRESENT Misery + Disaster EP
Specialist Subject Records (2016)
Brilliant calamitous, verging-on-collapse disaster pop-rock. A band who sound like they are always an inch away from falling apart – and are amazing because of that fact. A female fronted garage rock outfit, whose debut act is a magnificent shotgun blast to the scene around it, and a middle finger raised to the standard bearers of the scene who have almost uniformly sold out. If you have yet to see them live, I recommend you do it soon, because as audio representations of a band go, this is damn near perfect. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN FILE UNDER:
Gnarwolves, Chumped, Lemuria
8 SLOWCOACHES Nothing Gives
Leisure & District (2016)
It’s not that often that a debut is firmly set on a band’s trademark sound but in theirs, Slowcoaches deliver – and then some. Nothing Gives is an unrelenting thrash of an album that blazes through its twelve tracks with the ferocity of the Ramones and a sharp tongue, taking on themes from mental illness to the state of the DIY scene. Despite its sometimes bleak themes, the record is loud, tonguein-cheek and exhilarating, a testimony to Slowcoaches’ prowess as a live band that translates so well on record it could incite a moshpit. What sets Nothing Gives apart from many debut albums is that it doesn’t sound like one – and that’s meant as a compliment. ANTIGONI PITTA
7 SUMAC Before You I Appear REMIX EP Thrill Jockey (2016)
The remix EP forged form the bare bones of the What One Becomes album from earlier this year is a temperamental affair. At the expense of mentioning the previous band of Aaron turner – it is reminiscent of Isis’s Celestial remixes. Track by track, the album is broken down and re-assembled in a series of fractionalized, minimalist ways. Angry, violent, schizophrenic – it is a hard listen, but one that will reward in equal parts frustrating and beguiling ways. Great how the tracks have been re-envisioned, but flawed. Repeat listens will reap better rewards than casual forays.
R 8 TANYA TAGAQ Retribution
Six Shooter Records (2016)
etribution. The word alone invokes all sort of extremely complicated discussions. The new album by Inuit throat singer and artist Tanya Tagaq doesn’t make things easier. The follow-up to 2014’s Animism is, at the core, an extremely visceral and gut-wrenching album but that’s hardly only the consequence of its aggressive stance. Retribution might punch its way through but it’s also smart enough to understand that throwing punches for 47 minutes might numb the listener and so it provides countless counterweights to accentuate its points. It’s an album about rape (of women, land, and children) and more importantly an album that aims to portray the sickness of this world. Sometimes we need to bleed to feel, Retribution has a knife that cuts deep. “Retribution will be swift.”
TASSEOMANCY Do Easy
Canadian twin sisters Sari and Romy Lightman (former members of Austra) were inspired by a story, called The Discipline of D.E that’s also the subject of a Gus Van Sant’s short film, from William S. Burroughs, one the primary figures of the Beat Generation, to create a gentle and meditative world with their third album, Do Easy. For almost 45 minutes soft synths, awe-inspiring harmonies, a refreshing calm, and the refusal of harsh and violent movements parade proudly creating a dream pop piece that isn’t too concerned in being song-oriented, but to provide an unstoppable stream of harmony. At first seems too pale but ends up revealing itself as a good remedy to these frenetically terrifying times.
Even though jazz is not particularly known for its adherence to form and orthodoxy, in the hands of Tom Barman it outstrips the boundaries that do exist. There are certainly nods to Blue Note’s heyday in the deep, sonorous sax blasts of Robin Verheyen, and Barman’s dips into spoken word and treacly crooning is reminiscent of the French avant-garde at its most out-there, but it’s the acceptance of everything from hip-hop to post-punk into the mix that gives Fever its heat. This is what happens when jazz is willing to take pop as an acceptable bedfellow for 40 minutes of passion – sensual, raw and technically masterful mood music with punch. If you feel that Coltrane and Davis are for people with smoking jackets and money to burn, this one’s for you.
Outside/Hand Drawn Dracula. (2016)
Universal Jazz (2016)
TESTAMENT Brotherhood Of The Snake Nuclear Blast (2016)
On paper this is every metal freak’s wet dream because you have one of the most talented singers in metal, one of the most gifted lead guitarists, and as if that wasn’t enough you choose to hire a colossal bass player and a certain guy who goes by the nickname of the Atomic Clock for drummer. What more could you possibly need? Great thrash metal songs, right? Well, you get that in spades! A record that grabs you by the neck and doesn’t let you go until it ends. With lyrics inspired by the Ancient Aliens theory and breakneck riffs and drum rhythms you will have thirst for fast, melodic Thrash Metal quenched.
7 THE FLAMING LIPS Oczy Mlody Bella Union (2017)
he Flaming Lips are back in all their essence, once again pushing their experimental side to the limit. Oczy Mlody is beautifully detailed and full of pastoral soundscapes. We can’t help to think that is somehow redundant to label this new effort as experimental, because they have been experimental since their inception. Oczy Mlody dares to risk pomposity in, showing their trademark sophisticated sound, this time around remarkably light and oddly uplifting. Led by the one and only Wayne Coyle, The Lips’ atmospheric and expansive esque are now even more melodically song-oriented and that suits them perfectly well. Strong, well crafted and rewarding, an album in its most instinctive, unfettered form. FAUSTO CASAIS
8 THE DEAN WEEN GROUP The Deaner Album Schnitzel (2016)
Right on the heels of Ween’s resurrection, Dean Ween releases The Deaner Album with his solo project, the Dean Ween Group. You know how it feels when you’re flying down the highway, tripping balls in the passenger seat, flipping the radio dial over and over and over and pausing now and then to wonder what the fuck you just heard? That’s The Deaner Album in a nutshell. From the gritty, slow-boiling rage of “Tammy” (“Now it’s only me and you and Rick and Smith & Wesson”) to the ridiculously infectious “Gum” to the wandering psychedelic notes of “Doo Doo Chasers,” it’s a genre-defying jaunt laced with incredible musicianship and Deaner’s trademark off-the-wall lyrical genius. APRIL FOX
7 THE DRIP The Haunting Fear Of Inevitability
TO THE WIND The Brighter View
Relapse Records (2017)
Pure Noise Records (2016)
From crust to grind, from sludge to the classic d-beat esque, we couldn’t ask for anything more extreme than this violently precise sonic assault. The Haunting Fear of Inevitability is The Drip’s crushing new album, an intense mix of straight ahead old school grindcore. Of course, it’s fair to say that the Washington’s five piece do have much in common with the likes of Pig Destroyer, Napalm Death and Rotten Sound, but their ultra-fast blastbeats and antagonistic breakdowns still demonstrate a fresh, but more importantly, a powerful and dynamic new range to a genre that nowadays lacks impact and some kind of immediate effect. Let’s see where they go next... FAUSTO CASAIS
Seattle band To The Wind empty their minds on their record The Brighter View. But, is it a bright view? Does the sunlight set beautifully on the heads of these guys that are playing respectable metal music? Well, within this piece of work lies a sense of desperation and agony. It’s easy to hear such pain worming its way into the sound, but it doesn’t taint it or crush its quality, as there’s a lot to love here. From the fearless and volatile guitar sequences to the crashing of courageous vocals, it all comes together in unison. “New World” is a song that connects the dots and showcases the album in full bloom. MARK MCCONVILLE
THE DISTILLERS THE RAMONES & COURTNEY BARNETT
8 THE REGRETTES Feel Your Feelings Fool Warner Records (2017)
erfectly imperfect - that’s one way to describe LA based punk act The Regrettes the press release stated. Maturity is an over-rated virtue for young bands. Feel Your Feelings Fool is an empowering artistic statement. They’re a very young band, but they already show an impressive maturity for their age, even their sound is fascinatingly coherent and audacious. It’s easy to feel the sense of youth, the vulnerability of their age, their insecurities, emotions and frustrations, we can’t forget that they’re still in high-school and their inspiring frontwoman Lydia is only 16. Confrontational and provocative, with top notch lyrics and sounding like an exciting mix of punk, 60’s pop and lo-fi rock, somewhere between The Distillers, The Ramones and Courtney Barnett. The Regrettes are fairly new, but they don’t give a single fuck about what you might think of them. Their debut album is impressive, thrilling and urgent, full of fast-paced pop songs with the classic punk rock mentality. FAUSTO CASAIS
TOY MOUNTAINS I Swore I’d Never Speak Of This Again EP
TRASH TALK Tangle EP
Post-hardcore music has taken a huge leap in evolution in recent years; lines became blurred, genres merged and the sound lost its individuality as it opened its doors to new horizons. Glasgow four piece Toy Mountains are a band who take post-hardcore and drag it across state lines through different avenues and areas of sound – maintaining a rigid backbone – but taking huge chances which, on the whole, pay off well. I Swore I’d Never Speak Of This Again is a rewarding listen, if a bit disjointed, but the ambition drives it into a victory. Well worth a punt if you are a casual listener.
Hardcore punk outfit Trash Talk launch their assault with a record that exemplifies honesty. It’s hard and volatile, rooted in a dark place. But, it doesn’t bridge the gap or offer anything new, which is a shame. The Tangle EP isn’t extraordinary, it does offer screams that just about curdle the blood, but you won’t be able to hear those lyrics due to the overbearing and aimless vocals. Yes, hardcore punk is a genre where you lose yourself and piece together songs that exude purpose, but Trash Talk fail here. They’re a band that are profoundly in love with what they do. On this occasion, however, they seem out of luck.
Crooked Noise Records (2016)
7 VARVARA Death Defying Tricks Haminian Sounds (2016)
Self Released (2016)
It’s not normal to see many garage rock bands coming from Scandinavia, knowing that it is a place more bowed to extreme and dark sounds. Varvana lean towards to respond this tendency and bet heavily on this revival movement, and for that no one better than having Pelle Gunnerfeldt (The Hives, Refused) on production duties. Drawing influences from bands like QOTSA, Weezer and Foo Fighters, it’s fair to say that they’re still looking for their own sonic identity. Full of infectious riffs, engaging melodies and good vibes, it’s easy to spot a bunch of variations between songs, from the grunge esque “Caught” and the bluesy infused “Highlights” to the powerful rock anthem “Human Beings”.
GODFLESH BIG BLACK & KILLING JOKE
8 UNIFORM Wake In Fright
Sacred Bones Records (2017)
uck! “We are surrounded by war and the whole world is burning and it doesn’t seem like there are any appropriate reactions or responses left anymore,” said guitarist/producer Ben Greenberg of the New York City duo Uniform. It’s far from being just a piece that enlightens the listener, is actually a statement that sets a purpose and an incredible vitality to the work is showcased in the duo’s second album Wake In Fright. Power electronics, thrash metal, harsh noise, and earthshaking industrial sounds are some of the worlds that coexist in Uniform’s universe, which also welcomes a mind-blowing and extremely addicting rhythmic work. Wake In Fright puts Uniform next to other legends like Big Black, Godflesh, Killing Joke, Ministry, etc. A filthy TIAGO MOREIRA pleasure.
WARDRUNA Runaljod – Ragnarok
WHITE LIES Friends
Infectious BMG (2016)
WOES Woes EP
Concluding a musical interpretation of the oldest runic languages known to man, as well as the exploration of mastermind Einar Selvik’s spiritual and cultural beliefs, Ragnarok is a suitably cataclysmic work for such audacious aims. Primitive and beautiful, experimental yet reflective, it’s one of those experiences whose enjoyment is determined by the time and attention it is given. Do you appreciate its eclectic and lovingly realised instrumentation, or its deft mingling of jazz, neo-classical and tribal rhythms and leave it there, or do you fully immerse yourself in its subtle power? Give it time, let it seep into your skin and breathe the joy and life into you that was obviously given to its creation - it deserves that much.
Talking as a fan of the London based three-piece White Lies, especially for their amazing How To Lose My Life, I just can’t feel their new effort, but that doesn’t mean I classify this work as a bad record (enough talking in first person). Despite the lack of some creativity, now that they have no major label and have produced Friends by themselves, it sounds like White Lies and even delivers such a good vibe and emotion. However, something is missing, the whole scenario is a bit weird, with lot of disco elements rather than the usual multiplicity of sounds and capacities that aren’t well explored, like the lyrics that are a lot simpler than I’m used to.
Pop punk has had a weight dumped upon it over the years. It’s a genre that captures the fun and twisted, but there’s far too many acts that replicate. But, Woes are a band that force their points through a sound that doesn’t teeter towards the brink, they wholesomely connect without misjudging the step. And on their debut self-titled EP, they cancel out the normalcy that can creep in. There’s no bitter taste of defeat either, as the songs burn brightly with guitar hooks and powerful, emotive, lyrics that strike a chord. Lyrics that mean a lot. If you’re looking to pick a song, then “Winter Sun” will give you that needed boost.
By Norse (2016)
Rude Records (2016)
REVIEWED IN OUR NEXT ISSUE 7 WOLVES AT THE GATE Types & Shadows Solid State Records (2016)
Wolves At The Gate tend to write music in their own way, without worrying where it stops and where it goes. Being unpredictable, its rock instrumentation and melodic art avoid genres and labels, making it vary within each song. Types and Shadows is a difficult album to worship at the first audition, but after the second or third spinning you will be completely delirious and obsessed with their musical construction and wondering how the clean vs guttural vocals esque works. Feeling their ability to grow in a sense of revolt and rhythmic aggressiveness from the calm parts or vice versa, forming a circle in which you are going around and back into their amount of patterns and layers deeply rooted on their tracks.
KING WOMAN Created In The Image Of...
RYAN ADAMS Prisoner
NIKKI LANE Highway Queen
XIU XIU Forget
PISSED JEANS Why Love Now
LOS CAMPESINOS! Sick Scenes
WEAR YOUR WOUNDS WYW
PRIESTS Nothing Feels Natural
8 YOU BLEW IT! Abendrot
Triple Crown Records (2016)
Abendrot - which means afterglow in English - is You Blew It! third full-length and is by far their most compelling and focused effort to date. With a much more cohesive and strong lineup, the band have gathered some of their best songs and embraced a much more confident attitude towards their songwriting. Even though they felt some pressure during the whole process, it’s unthinkable to imagine these guys had some kind of distress to achieve what they conquered here. Influenced by their hometown (Orlando, Florida) and personal experiences, Abendrot is full of precious but dark moments, bringing the best of indie rock.
8 YOU ME AT SIX Night People
Infectious Music (2017)
You Me At Six have become a mainstay in the rock circuit since their inception. The Surrey based act, pulverise old styles on their new record Night People, captivating the runaways and the people that see the world differently. The sound is progressive and the band showcase a maturity that will hold them in good stead. They also branch out, with the lyrics being more broad and poetic, proving that they all have what it takes to get their points across through the medium of lyricism. Leading man Josh Franceschi sings with buoyancy too, utilising his voice fully on all songs. The tracks that create wonderment are “Plus One” and “Take On The World”, those contributions rally home the feeling of longing and the true desire to fight. MARK MCCONVILLE
KORN + LIMP BIZKIT SSE HYDRO, GLASGOW (UK) Words by Dave Bowes // Photos by Lara Vischi
hey say time makes fools of us all, but for Limp Bizkit the opposite holds true. Once the jesters of rap-metal, Fred Durst and co present themselves tonight as elder statesmen, ready to show the kids how it’s done. Durst’s energy is frankly remarkable, enthusiastically ranting between cuts as he bounds through a selection that nails the hits while thankfully neglecting their latter-day follies. “Rollin” is considerably more fun than it ever was at the time, “Break Stuff” is a bona-fide riot starter and a restyled Wes Borland gives “My Way” the weight and swagger that it deserves. If Limp Bizkit once represented the mainstream face of nu-metal, Korn were the embodiment of its ethos, its spirit of angst and alienation given a raw and uncomfortable voice. That voice has found some polish in recent decades, transformed through tweaking and experimentation, but with The Serenity Of Suffering they have recaptured that early ire and their live show has evolved to match. The gut-punch salvo of “Right Now” and “Here To Stay” introduce Korn at their most blatant, a kilt-clad Jonathan Davis energetically working the crowd as Head and Munky’s guttural riffing reduce intestines to mulch. Missteps are few and far between, and new material certainly doesn’t count amongst them. “Rotting In Vain” and “Insane” are delivered with a fire that matches the classics, and from the power behind them it’s obvious that band and crowd alike know this. Bagpipes are (somewhat appropriately) trotted out for “Shoots And Ladders,” things get freaky with “Twist” and “Blind” proves to be an absolute kerb-stomper of a song, no matter the year or venue. They may be packing a degree of professionalism that even they wouldn’t have recognised 20 years ago but as far as conviction, entertainment and volume are concerned, Korn haven’t aged a day.
129 Limp Bizkit
THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
+ CULT LEADER + O’BROTHER + ENTHEOS
SOUTHPORT MUSIC HALL, NEW ORLEANS (US) Words & Photos by Teddie Taylor
he Dillinger Escape Plan put together one of the most interesting tour lineups of the year for their “final” US tour. Entheos brought a prog/tech/death metal set. Cult Leader, one of the best groups on Deathwish, contributed their raw, angry “progressive crust” to the night through an indescribably heavy set. O’Brother veered far from the others into an ambient indie-rock zone. The Atlanta-based band is rather indefinable because of the array of sounds they incorporate into their music. What has always made TDEP such a renowned band is that they take from all of these genres and scenes and push them past their limits. Seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan is a two part show: one half is music and the other is the physical. Bodies ending up on stage and leaping back into the insatiable crowd. There was nonstop movement punctuated by occasional near-falling. In part due to the finality of the show, the experience was absolutely nostalgic. With the idea that the band is ending in the back of everyone’s minds, it was hard not to remember when and where you first heard every one of their songs as you screamed along. They played an all-encompassing set. Beginning with “Limerent Death,” the highest point on their latest record, Disassociation, they jumped in at 100% and ended at “43% Burnt.” From “One of Us Is The Killer” and “Sunshine, The Werewolf” to “Black Bubblegum” and “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” they hit most of the checkpoints and sounded perfect doing so (except, where was “Prancer?!”). As chaotic as their music is, it’s amplified to an infinite level in a live setting. Your brain is battered by Ben Weinman’s schizophrenic guitars, Greg Puciato’s ability to sing/scream exactly as he does on records but while moving nonstop, Billy Rymer’s hands speeding across his drum set, Liam Wilson appearing on one side of stage and then the other… Seeing them perform one of their supposed last sets in the United States was deafening magic. Listening as they played tracks from all of their records, it clicked that TDEP are a band that truly evolved. They experimented with soft and frantic and every sound in between. They tried everything and always made it work. Whether it was the venue, the vibe of the crowd or some other reason, it was a rather tame night for Dillinger. Greg never climbed or jumped from stage and Ben kept two feet on the ground for the majority of the night. In that respect, it was disappointing that their typical antics weren’t present. Let’s all hope this isn’t truly the end because New Orleans needs a show in a more Dillinger friendly space full of balcony scaling and black eyes.
OATHBREAKER + WIFE CAVE 45, PORTO (PT) Words by Tiago Moreira // Photo by Nuno Fangueiro
Words by Tiago Moreira
he last show organized by Amplificasom – one of the most active Portuguese promoters around – in 2016 brought around the West-Flanders/Ghent-based quartet Oathbreaker, just a few months after they made an appearance on Amplifest. The Belgium outfit had an amazing year releasing their new album Rheia, which can very well go down as their magnum opus, and astounding thousands of people worldwide, so it made sense to bring them again, this time to a more intimate space. Henry Rollins often says that you need to see a band live to see their real value, and if that’s the case then is hard to be disappointed with Oathbreaker, even if the biggest expectations were created by the band with their album. Frontwoman Caro Tanghe and company are truly an amazing creative unit and their performance chops match the level of creative brilliance. Their performance at Cave 45 was able to exhibit the awe-inspiring range and dynamic of their sound – wandering effortlessly between the most gentle and articulated and the most gut-wrenching and devastating sounds. Oathbreaker and their masterpiece Rheia are one of the highlights of 2016. This show just attested the veracity of the statement. Opening the night was Wife, the solo project of James Kelly (known for his incredible work with Altar of Plagues). Kelly delivered a different kind of experience. Mixing the cold electronic music with some steamy R&B, the Irish musician appeared concerned with changing gears and his set was definitely exalted by the how Kelly managed to keep challenging his audience. Wife is taking small evolutionary steps and seeing it live creates some expectations for some big surprises in the near future.
WREKMEISTER HARMONIES PASSOS MANUEL, PORTO (PT)
assos Manuel is one of those venues where every time you have the chance to visit and see a show is almost guaranteed that it will be something extremely special. Presenting their most recent full-length album, Light Falls, Wrekmeister Harmonies, the project led by the amazing J. R. Robinson, presented on stage with a lineup that included three members of the legendary band Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Thierry Amar on bass, Timothy Herzog on drums, and Sophie Trudeau on cello). A humorous J.R. Robinson started the set with “Light Falls I – The Mantra”, the opening track of the band’s latest album, and proceed to awe an entire audience with some of the most gut-wrenching and heartfelt compositions. Robinson’s presence on stage was extremely imposing, even if there’s a very gentle and wise-looking side to it, but the biggest asset of such beautiful performance was undoubtedly the synergy between every musician on stage that reached a zenith with “Some Were Saved Some Drowned” (also from Light Falls) where the band unleashed a contagious and extremely visceral atmosphere playing with an impressive freedom and hunger – listening to Robinson screaming repeatedly “There is no god” is a fucking highlight. Wrekmeister Harmonies are a pearl of our times. If listening to them on record is fucking amazing then seeing them live… there are no words to explain how rewarding that experience can be.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & MELTING PARAISO U.F.O. NICE & SLEAZY, GLASGOW (UK) Words by Dave Bowes
iven Glasgow’s habitual embrace of Japan’s weirder musical denizens, it makes perfect sense that the yearly visit of Kawabata Makoto and his psychedelic miscreants has long been a cause for celebration, but this time they’ve gone all out. With band and crowd collectively fuelled by sake, the atmosphere is set for the Glasgow launch of Melting Paraiso U.F.O. v.143.0, the addition of S/T (formerly of Tokyo prog unit Green Milk From The Planet Orange) on bass complementing the recently reinstated Nani Satoshima to create a powerful, precise and utterly relentless rhythm unit that transforms the classic set they run through. Sure, there aren’t many surprises in terms of material. “La Novia”? Check. “Cometary Orbital Drive”? Of course. “Pink Lady Lemonade”? It wouldn’t be AMT without it. As always, the difference lies in how they have chosen to interpret these songs on the given night, and the complementing material tonight is just weird enough to offset any vestiges of familiarity, with Sabbath’s “The Wizard” giving a grim swagger that’s a rarity for such an ecstatic band, and “...Lemonade” being deliberating teasing in its build-up, an alien presence until hints of its core begin to rear only to be shattered by an imploding “OM Riff.” Despite S/T’s relatively new status, there is an instinctive grasp of the band’s dynamic that both follows and transforms their sound. It’s a little punk kick that, when combined with Kawabata Makoto’s dazzling soloing and Higashi Hiroshi’s cosmic background textures, changes the collective into something new and unseen. There is a fluidity within AMT that makes every incarnation, every album and every show something revelatory and this is the perfect example of it at work. “Freakout heavy metal proto-punk kraut workout” might have been the name of the game tonight but next time, it might be something else entirely – actually, it probably will be.
JOHN CARPENTER USHER HALL, EDINBURGH (UK) Words by Dave Bowes
t’s not often you get the chance to watch a master at work and, in the case of John Carpenter, it’s nothing short of a miracle. While he’s spent much of the new millennium being increasingly reclusive (though he certainly deserves the rest) the past couple of years has seen a resurgence in musical activity and now his first solo tour. Well, maybe solo isn’t the right word. Stood behind his keyboard cum altar, he is joined on stage by a solid band that includes son and collaborator Cody Carpenter and, as the first pulses of “Escape From New York” ring out, it becomes clear that the extra personnel make plenty of difference. The chill in Carpenter’s melodies remains true, not least with “The Fog” and its prickly stabs of whitelight synth and “Halloween”, the most iconic 5/4 piece in recent musical history and, to this day, a chilling reminder of Carpenter’s skill with minimalism, both as composer and director. Despite being largely known for a distinctive sound style and its influence on the recent synthwave revival, tonight does much to showcase the diversity of his musical output. “Assault On Precinct 13” is proto-hip-hop at its core, the menacing bass and spry hi-hat rattle driven to maddening proportions within the hall, while the echoes of Blue Oyster Cult within “In The Mouth Of Madness” add a classic rock touch to its shameless 90s cheese. If anything, though, it’s his Lost Themes material which has the biggest spark. It distils the essence of his greatest work but there is real heart in its delivery. This isn’t just a nostalgia trip for Carpenter and his not-so-merry-men, as it might be for plenty of the crowd – there is purpose and passion, and in the case of Carpenter himself, undiminished joy. He’s never been a man to do anything for the sake of it, and it’s likely his own enthusiasm that his seen this rare appearance actually exceed all expectations.
SHUNTA TAKEYARI USHER HALL, EDINBURGH (UK) Words by Dave Bowes
hile some say that every concert should be a celebration, how often is that actually the case? In the hallowed hall of MONO, though, there’s no disputing that, with tonight marking the opening of Kenta Kawamura’s photography exhibit, his starkly monochrome scenes of Japanese living neatly lining the room’s walls, as well as the second night of Shunta Takeyari’s UK tour. Before he takes the stage, a more formal occasion has been planned, a kagami-biraki (“opening the mirror”) ceremony wherein the lid of a barrel of sake is broken open to invite good fortune. After an emotional speech by Kazuki Yamamoto of Fujii Honke Brewery, the three (along with The Cosmic Dead guitarist James T McKay) pick up mallets and, with cries of “Yoisho!” the alcohol is flowing to diners, staff and eager spectators alike (not that there’s actually any distinction tonight). The warmth of the fine, fine sake is just about trumped by Takeyari’s gently fingerpicked guitarwork, songs like “Itachi” gently worming their way into the part of the brain typically stirred by young love and feel-good montages, while his voice has a smooth, emotional keen that rises above the chatter of the room. A couple of classics, both from Japan and from Ireland, offer a touch of familiarity to those in the know but it’s his own compositions, the ones where he completely loses himself to the moment and offers up his soul through his fingers and throat, that make his presence felt. He is occupying the narrow line where folk and blues meet and mingle, his voice offering up the wistful, yearning tone of the former as the rippling melodies and subtle frenzies of sound show off the unassuming skill of the latter. Japan might be a long way off from the roots of Takeyari’s sound but it’s testament to its universal power and appeal that he has found a way to celebrate it so uniquely tonight.
65DAYSOFSTATIC + THOUGHT FORMS HARD CLUB, PORTO (PT) Words by Tiago Moreira // Photos by Andreia Alves
ven if post-rock has been losing is sort of appeal in these more recent times, the truth is that no one can deny the role of the genre in the development of the contemporary music. And if you can discredit the genre, you sure can’t discredit the importance of a band like Sheffield-based outfit 65daysofstatic, a band that managed to raise critical and fan approval with their incredible music tenacity that started as guitar-driven and even heavy and evolved to something more “complicated” with the incorporation of electronic music.
Promoting their latest work, No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe (the official soundtrack to No Man’s Sky, one of the most anticipated games of 2016), the instrumental quartet based their set in their most recent works (No Man’s Sky and 2013’s Wild Light) and complemented it with more visceral and “primitive” compositions of their debut album The Fall of Math. Even if 65daysofstatic are not the household name they were a decade ago, the truth is that they remain a reference in a lane that often isn’t able to offer the magnificence and depth that became inherent to
65daysofstatic’s work. Opening the stage there was another post-rock band… but the flavor was different. The Bristol outfit, Thought Forms, fronted by the amazing and enchanting Charlie Romijn are at their best – their latest album Songs About Drowning proves it – and their performance was as soulful as spiritual. Romijn’s vocals are, at the very least, astounding and it’s hard to imagine someone in that audience not being stunned. In the end, it was a great night to anyone capable to appreciate more layered rock-based music.
BORIS STEREO, GLASGOW (UK) Words by Dave Bowes
onight, Boris are celebrating the tenth anniversary of Pink, quite possibly the definitive Boris gateway album. The last time they were in Glasgow, that album was fresh in peoples’ minds so, needless to say, this is a show that is long overdue. Walking on to the stage bathed in smoke and looking every part the globe-trotting rock stars, they storm through “Blackout” and “Pink” in a wash of low-end thrummm and punk-rock gusto. These two cuts prove an early indicator of their immersive directness tonight, an aspect of the trio that often gets lost in the light of their notorious experimentalism. Crowd-side, it’s easy to be drawn to Takeshi’s imposing figure, that iconic double-neck laying down a groaning, droning framework for the rest of the band but, as most know, it’s Wata’s magnetic presence that always seems to command eyes and ears. Though never the most energetic of performers, her skill is incomparable, delivering stunning solos and passages of unmatched elegance with the same stoic expression and calm, focused demeanour; Atsuo, contrastingly, is an Animal-like powerhouse, wild and robust and able to inject a sense of abandon into even the most beatific moments. Nights like this are the perfect illustration of why Boris continue to hold a godlike presence in underground circles. It’s not merely skill or versatility but rather their marriage of the two. Both are demonstrated with a lack of showiness, an efficiency in their mannerisms that lets these 90 minutes flow from wild catharsis to quiet contemplation with no juddering clashes. Even their set ordering is cohesive, effectively streamlining the Pink listening experience into something more natural, and even if it doesn’t quite erase the long absence from the city, it’s enough to keep this packed room rapt and hanging from every note.
MONO + ALCEST + SINISTRO CLASSIC GRAND, GLASGOW (UK) Words by Dave Bowes // Photo by Bruce Cowie
ot only are Lisbon’s Sinistro relative unknowns on tonight’s world-spanning bill, they have the unfortunate pleasure of taking stage when most people in the country are still having their dinner. Still, their ability to smartly juxtapose guttural sludge and sultry, dreamlike vocals is enough to catch the attention of most and watching Patrícia Andrade croon and rant while moving like a possessed marionette is one of the most arresting experiences of the evening. If the openers defied expectations, Alcest sometimes struggle to meet them. It’s hard to fault the band themselves – Neige is an adept frontman, possessing a delicate air on older cuts like “Autre Temps” while reviving traces of his metal roots on the few welcome excerpts from this year’s Kodama which make an appearance, and his companions are likewise a solid presence, Winterhalter’s drumming in particular showing a technical and stylistic range that actually exceeds the wide scope of their sound. Instead, it’s the sound which lets them down, often burying Neige’s contributions under a low-end hum and swamping the delicacy that is so vital to them. They persevere and as the set progresses the clarity begins to return but it feels like the odds were ultimately stacked against them. MONO face their own sound issues, with a club operating downstairs pushing a constant techno thump through the floor for the bulk of their set, yet while it’s occasionally distracting it never comes close to diminishing the quartet’s intensity. A decision to cull largely from the latter half of their career presents the ideal mix of quiet beatitude and sonic catharsis, Taka Goto drowning in sweat as he throws himself into flurries of tremolo and white-hot distortion and Tamaki Kunishi elegantly swaying with the ebb and flow of their compositions. Watching MONO is like witnessing nature at its most epic – majestic, sweeping, moving and occasionally savage. They’re simply breathtaking and there’s nothing in this room, or outside of it, that can halt their march.
PERTURBATOR + GosT Oran Mor, Glasgow (UK)
Words by Dave Bowes // Photo by Lara Vischi
hough both Perturbator and GosT have pulled from the same sources in their course of their careers, their approaches show a notable contrast that makes for distinctive, though equally engrossing, enjoyment. GosT bounds onto stage with skull mask and larger than life persona attached, throwing mad scientist shapes and molesting monitors while delivering pulsing, stomach-churning beats that elicits the neon violence of first Terminator movie, Justice’s electrifying funk and John Milton’s seductive antihero worship. He continuously pulls between the eyes and the feet, urging the body into ecstatic paroxysms with slick ease while delivering spectacle that stays just on the right side of ridiculousness. While the woozy sway of “Arise” offers something for the lovers in attendance, a weirdly apt takedown of perma-permed anthem “Holding Out For A Hero” manages to unite bearded metallers and uber-styled hipsters in off-key karaoke delight. If GosT packs the spectacle and OTT glee of Friday the 13th, then Perturbator is unmistakably the embodiment of Suspiria – no less violent but with a more stylish and contemplative flair to frame its body count. Perched behind a wooden barricade and backlit in every shade of neon pink known to science, it’s like every great movie club scene brought to life. It’s too easy to lose yourself in visions of a cybernetic Arnie stalking the room to the crackling pulse of “Disco Inferno” or an unfeasible body count rising as “She Is Young...” picks up in speed and violence, but even if nostalgia is pulling strongly in one direction, the energy and urgency that James Kent brings to the fore is equally strong. He is constantly moving, tweaking and directing the flow on the fly, and there is an uncanny intelligence at work that he can turn pop-culture recollections into something so vital and fresh. The ‘80s may be gone and buried, and that’s probably for the best, but it’s heartening to know that sweating to the oldies is no longer something to be ashamed of.
WARPAINT ONE EYED JACKS, NEW ORLEANS (US) Words & Photos by Teddie Taylor
t’s obvious that Warpaint love every moment of being onstage together. More so than any other group, they smile, dance and seem to be fully enveloped in the atmosphere of whatever city they’re gracing with their presence. As Theresa Wayman sings in “Love Is To Die,” “love is to dance.” Even for a non-dancer, there is no stillness amidst their grooves and angelic vocals. The serenity, clarity and sheer beauty of the vocals Theresa Wayman and Emily Kokal share are even more astounding in person. Jenny Lee Lindberg’s outfits and overflowing grins make her exude “cool.” Stella Mozgawa’s easy shifts from R&B stylings to more simpler patterns solidify her as one of the most talented and captivating drummers. Again, the word “cool” embodies everything about the four members from their individual styles to their musicianship to their stage presence to their personalities. They are the group of girlfriends every woman dreams of having. Visiting older tracks, like “Beetles,” more current ones such as “New Song” and the eternal favorites “Undertow” and “Disco// Very,” it was exciting that the quartet decided not to overload the night with Heads Up tracks. The earlier songs brought up memories of first hearing “Krimson” and discovering Warpaint years ago. The latest ones reminded everyone why Warpaint can do no wrong. They meld genres and create of sounds that are forward thinking and perfectly complementary to the visuals they present. The pink, green and purple lights, accompanied by occasional smoke, created the dreamy aura that their music radiates. As ethereal as they appear in photos, Theresa, Emily, Jenny and Stella are even more entrancing in person. There is nothing but happiness.
ROGUE ONE - A STAR WARS STORY
DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards STARRING: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, Ben Daniels, Paul Kasey, Stephen Stanton, Ian McElhinney, Fares Fares, Jonathan Aris, James Earl Jones USA 2016
efore we begin, we must take a moment to clarify that we’re not reviewing the first, but indeed the third spin-off of Star Wars, entitled Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. This was not the first attempt at trying to further expand the Star Wars universe and most of you reading this by now must have a fleeting remembrance of those ‘80s TV movies in which George Lucas had the bright idea of reusing some of the most silly characters in the entire saga. No, not Jar Jar Binks, it was way way before that. Yes folks, the Ewoks! In all fairness ’84’s Caravan of Courage and ’86’s Battle for Endor, were indeed the first Star Wars spinoffs ever to be made, but those ended up being separate stories from the events of all the main Star Wars films and were, unfortunately, relegated to oblivion. But wait… before any of you might start to think about a certain
“Christmas Special”, it’s really for the best to move on with this review... So… Rogue One - A Star Wars Story, the third spin-off, and officially the first one made by Disney, in case you’re living under a rock and didn’t know this by now, is set between Episodes 3 and 4 of the main Star Wars saga. The opening crawl for Episode 4 - A New Hope already shamelessly spoiled what this movie would be back in 1977, when those words magically appeared on screen for the first time: “Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR.” Essentially Rogue One is a movie entirely based on this sentence and focuses on the story of that particular group of rebel spies led by Jyn Erso (daughter of Galen Erso, the creator of the Death Star) and
Alliance captain Cassian Andor. Right away there’s something that clearly sets this movie apart from the rest of the other episodical entries in the saga. The overall tone of Rogue One is much darker from the get go, reminding us of the atmosphere of Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back or even the darkest moments of Episode 3 - Revenge of The Sith, but portrayed with much more intensity and grittiness. Director Gareth Edwards also made some subtle stylistic changes to further set this movie apart as a standalone by removing the traditional opening crawl, discarding transition swipes between scenes and also providing some actual information about the numerous new worlds the audience will be travelling to during the course of the action. The new characters that form the never before seen group of rebel spies are displayed as combatants
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who really have to suffer and fight tooth and nail to overcome each set of hurdles thrown in their way by a ruthless Empire. Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso and Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, besides being leaders of the pack, are the main embodiment of a tormented struggle, often filled with self doubt, that the Rebels had to go through to retrieve the dreaded space station plans. You really do get the impression that this was a monumental task, and through their interactions, Edwards managed to convey an emotional turmoil that audiences can relate to, something that Lucas didn’t quite achieve in some of the most recent entries on the main episodic saga. On the other hand, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe and Alan Tudyk as the reprogrammed imperial droid K2SO, totally steal the show with incredible displays of martial arts (without any lightsabers nearby) and some
moments of humor that manage to occasionally light up the mood. Ben Mendelsohn plays the sadistic and power lustful Director Krennic, the main responsible for the development of the Death Star, in a register that might remind some of Christoph Waltz’ Hans Lauda from Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards, while the combined star power of Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso and Forest Whitaker as the extremist rebel Saw Guerrera (an unprecedented presence and the first in the Star Wars universe to make the transition from cartoon to real life character) brings not only some prestige to a mostly unknown cast but also manages to have the most substantial impact in the development of the movie’s events even with some of the shortest screen time. However, for connoisseurs of the classic trilogy, the CGI reconstitution of some of its characters is one of the most striking points of all the movie. Though it’s understandable that CGI technology can only go so far and might have the effect of throwing some viewers temporarily out of scene, fans will still rejoice to see some of the old characters being brought to life to gain some new perspective on the events of Episode 4. And of course, speaking of Episode 4, it’s greatest villain (as announced in the trailers) Darth Vader is also back, with James Earl Jones providing again the Dark Lord of the Sith’s subtle vocal nuances of terrifying wittiness we haven’t heard since the original trilogy (That “No” thing in Episode 3 doesn’t count!). Also, you’ll be seeing him reaching heights of sadistic terror as never seen before, in what makes up for one of the movie’s most memorable scenes. The change to an overall darker tone in the movie’s story can also be attributed not only to the previously mentioned struggles of each character but also to Edwards’ portrayal of the Galactic Empire which appears in a larger and much more menacing scale as we’ve never seen before in Star Wars movies, being a mighty fearful force and not just simply target practice for Ewoks. You actually believe now that these guys ran the galaxy under a tight fist. The Empire is shown with a new assortment of vehicles, Deathtroopers, Sandtroopers and even the traditional Stormtroopers from the classic trilogy actually hit on things this time, besides being dead set on shooting to kill in most of the guerrilla styled warfare scenes in Rogue One. You’ll be seeing a lot of fan service in visits to older well known planets, the near perfect reconstitution of the original rebel alliance bases, the incorporation of little easter eggs from the animated Star Wars Rebels series, the inclusion of certain buildings in “volcanic surroundings” that appeared
first in the comics, the casting of Jimmy Smits and Genevieve O’Reilly reprising their roles as Bail Organa and Mon Mothma from the prequels and even in the re-using of some unused footage of the original trilogy. However, by seamlessly blending of all of these elements, Edwards not only cleverly created a web of connections between past and future that will further allow the universe to expand in diverse ways, but also did a brilliant service in telling a detailed story of what will set Episode 4’s events in motion, which in turn will make you watch that movie from a totally renewed and different perspective. All of this isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t have its problems. The reusing of some of the ideas for scenes already seen on movies like Return of the Jedi, besides the already mentioned possibility for the CGI to make the viewer overanalyze everything he’s watching as those scenes kick-in, can cause some unsatisfaction and a feeling of unwanted deja-vu at certain points, but at least these situations are scarce and few throughout an original movie that mainly followed its own creative path and took risks instead of overly emulating some the saga’s former movies almost step by step, as was the case with the very good, but flawed The Force Awakens. All in all, in the end, Rogue One is a marvelous achievement, and proof that in the right hands, the Star Wars brand can continue beyond the restrictions of the Skywalker family saga and well into new territories with new stories, always keeping a certain sense of connection and familiarity to a universe we all came to love. This is not a regular Star Wars movie, packed with the same balanced dose of adventure, mysticism, morality cues and humor we’re used to, and though it totally feels totally like a Star Wars movie, it would be the equivalent of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in this universe, putting the “Wars” firmly in Star Wars. The space and ground battle scenes in this movie are just simply some of the best so far in the whole saga, with the final space battle only being beaten by the (still) monstrous beginning of Revenge of the Sith. Now, do yourself a favor: Instead of watching that horrid “Christmas Special”, go and see Rogue One again and immediately follow it with Episode 4 right next. You’ll never see the original ’77 movie the same way again, and that change of perspective was, by all accounts Gareth Edwards’ greatest achievement with Rogue One. Let’s hope that the next spin-off about a certain “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerfherder” just goes down as well as this!
DIRECTOR: Spike Lee STARRING: Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cusack, Jennifer Hudson, David Patrick Kelly, D.B. Sweeney, Dave Chappelle, Steve Harris, Harry Lennix, Anthony Fitzpatrick USA 2015
n America’s hip-hop scene Chicago has long been dubbed “ChiRaq” – a name that refers to the infamous South Side’s reputation as murder capital of the USA. Between 2001 and 2015, 7,356 people died here because of gun violence – a ‘national emergency’” as director Spike Lee tells
us in big red letters. Chi-Raq is a bold adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata, from 411 B.C., about a group of women who withhold sex from men to convince them to end the ruinous Peloponnesian War. Like in Aristophanes’ play there’s this sense of natural freedom, where chaos and sex are perfectly played in the Lee’s approach on Chi-Raq, and of course the two rival factions (gangs), the Spartans – led by a rapper aspirant Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) - and the Trojans – led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes). The empowering, sexy and impetuous Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris)
is at the heart of this satirical and unconventional battle of the sexes. So, after an intense and bloody street war between the rival gangs of the Trojans and the Spartans that once again led to the deaths of innocent children and adolescents, Lysistrata is encouraged by neighbor Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), a grieving mother whose young daughterwas killed by a stray bullet decades ago, to take action in order to stop the violence. To fight this violence Lysistrata persuades Spartan and Trojan women to stop having sex with their men until the fighting stops. Spike Lee communicates his vision of
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justice, in a philosophical, impressive and extravagant way. He goes straight to the point, convening in his own style his romantic view of political change. This is not a movie about guns, it’s a movie about the typical American way and their challenging way of settling things. It’s never about the guns, this is a cultural thing, where manhood clashes with violence and the lack of social values. This subject is beyond the classic, pathological and poisonous love affair with guns. Chi-Raq sends an incendiary message and goes deep when the subject is stopping the killing of black people by black people, the police repression,
and the historical, economic and political back story to this violence as perfectly detailed by Father Mike (John Cusack). His sermon is an intense and complex reality check, it makes you wonder about several subjects, like the high levels of unemployment, the lack of opportunities to change lives in the black community, even the discriminating banking policies where Black Americans were issued loans on unfavorable terms. There are a bunch of powerful scenes throughout the movie, but the one that really stands out is the one with actor Eric Williams, and real-life victim of gang violence, speaking with
Chi-Raq advising him to find a way to end the violence. It is a shocking and ferocious scene. We can easily feel the despair and misery around that whole situation. Chi-Raq represents a huge comeback of the great Spike Lee, probably his masterpiece in a frantic - sometimes erotic - empowering modern American black-on-black violence stylish tale. 20 years after his debut feature film She’s Gotta Have It, Lee wrote another movie for a black audience, but once again “a black film directed by a black person can still be universal”.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
DIRECTOR: Derek Cianfrance STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Florence Clery, Jack Thompson, Thomas Unger, Jane Menelaus, Garry McDonald, Anthony Hayes, Benedict Hardie, Emily Barclay UK/NEW ZEALAND/USA 2016
irector Derek Cianfrance has brought to us heart-breaking and beautiful stories over the last couple of years. It was with no surprise that the expectations for his latest film were pretty high. Based on the acclaimed novel by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans is another remarkable and riveting film. The film happens in the years following World War I. Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), a young veteran still numb from his years in combat, takes a job as lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. When he meets the daughter of the school’s headmaster, Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), in the local town of Partageuse on the mainland, Tom is immediately captivated by her beauty and they are soon married and living on the island. After unsuccessful attempts to have a child, a rowboat with a dead man and an infant girl mysteriously washes ashore, Isabel believes their prayers may have finally been answered. Fassbender and Vikander share an undeniable chemistry and they commit to their roles with such distinguished passion and intensity. ANDREIA ALVES
DIRECTOR: Morten Tyldum STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Vince Foster, Kara Flowers, Conor Brophy, Julee Cerda, Aurora Perrineau, Lauren Farmer, Emerald Mayne USA 2016
ere we have another futuristic sci-fi film that felt like it had everything to work out, but it simply didn’t. From its leading actors - Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt - to the beautifully designed backgrounds - it could come out an outstanding film, but Passengers is as boring and odd as you can get. The film is about two passengers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when their hibernation pods wake them 90 years too early. Jim (Pratt) and Aurora (Lawrence) are forced to unravel the mystery behind the malfunction as the ship teeters on the brink of collapse, with the lives of thousands of passengers in jeopardy. It seems like a great plot with a great cast, but it suffers from a lack of story that can engage the audience. Passengers could have everything to be engaging and thrilling film, but it just tends to get more predictable as the story goes on and the characters just lost their initial charm and charisma. Ultimately, it’s tedious and not exciting at all. ANDREIA ALVES
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DIRECTOR: Tom Ford STARRING: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber, Armie Hammer, Karl Glusman, Robert AramayoAndrea Riseborough, Michael Sheen, Imogen Waterhouse USA 2016
riter and director Tom Ford returns with Nocturnal Animals, an emotional and twisted thriller, full of tension and striking explicit. Ford perfectly balances understated hues with this kind of emotional violence, raising all the right and penetrating questions along with this disturbing mesmerizing effect on the audience. Nocturnal Animals is a complex feature with an intoxicating narrative, filled with compelling and powerful performances from Jack Gyllenhal, Amy Adams and bad boy Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Tom Ford created a new form of neo-noir cinema, bringing all the elements of classic grindhouse, 70’s era revenge meets redemption exploitation flick. For better or for worse, Nocturnal Animals shows us a raw and shocking scenario, where violence and even some soul-searching are neither comfortable nor pretty. FAUSTO CASAIS
SULLY DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood STARRING: Tom Hanks, Aaron
DIRECTOR: Scott Derrickson STARRING: Benedict Cumber-
Eckhart, Laura Linney, Valerie Mahaffey, Delphi Harrington, Mike O’Malley, Jamey Sheridan, Anna Gunn, Holt McCallany, Ahmed Lucan, Laura Lundy Wheale, Onira Tares USA 2016
batch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Zara Phythian, Alaa Safi USA 2016
On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the so called “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger slid his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. Clint Eastwood is still on top of his game and Sully is a solid triumph in every single way. Truly engaging and full of tension, Sully is an honest and compelling drama, where Tom Hanks is Captain Sully Sullenberger - the perfect and perhaps only choice for the role - and with that we’re not saying that Sully is Tom Hanks’ one man show, but it’s close to that. Eastwood and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki well-documented this true event, creating the perfect sense of immediate tension, along with some modesty to the real concept of heroism. After the disaster that was American Snipper, Eastwood went again straight to the heart of a true American hero, this time around with a more realistic and humane approach. Overall, Sully is a solid win.
And here we have another superhero film based on a Marvel Comics character and with no surprise is another great and amusing one. Doctor Strange is Stephen Strange - performed by the genuinely awesome Benedict Cumberbatch -, an unfortunate former surgeon who becomes a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of a mystic known as the Ancient One - performed by Tilda Swinton who is as always stunning. For those who don’t know well Doctor Strange story, this is a great way to get into his universe and why he’s adored by many. Before he became a sorcerer, he was cocky and rude, but then over time he becomes courageous, humble and even funny. All these elements go along really well with the whole plotline. It’s just really pleasurable to watch Doctor Strange journey into saving the world and how he becomes such a damn good sorcerer. Once again, well done Marvel!
AFI KING WOMAN FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES PALLBEARER NIKKI LANE LOS CAMPESINOS! JAPANDROIDS WEAR YOUR WOUNDS XIU XIU CLOUD NOTHINGS WHILE SHE SLEEPS PISSED JEANS CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH PRIESTS SHEER MAG SLEATER-KINNEY AND MUCH MORE... FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES
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