MUSIC&RIOTS FREE | ISSUE 22
IDLES XIU XIU PALLBEARER BOSS HOG GOLDFRAPP CLOUD NOTHINGS MINUS THE BEAR ME AND THAT MAN FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES LOS CAMPESINOS FATHER JOHN MISTY PLANNING FOR BURIAL MOTIONLESS IN WHITE HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF PULLED APART BY HORSES WEAR YOUR WOUNDS THE BLACK ANGELS & MUCH MORE...
FREE | ISSUE 22 | SPRING ISSUE 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
54 // FATHER JOHN MISTY - We talked with Josh Tillman about how important is to point the finger at yourself, how love can truly save the world, and how the man you probably view as a “troll, meme, sarcastic asshole, etc.” has feelings too.
68 // KING WOMAN -
Our chat with Kristina Esfandiari is an attempt to decipher the glorious moment and the surroundings, which are as important, if not more. After all it’s a complex and stunning tapestry.
8 // ALGIERS 12 // JAPANESE BREAKFAST 16 // SLØTFACE 17 // DEAD HEAVENS 20 // WAXAHATCHEE 24 // FESTIVALS SPRING 2017
13 // XIU XIU 22 // PULLED APART BY HORSES
10 // IDLES 14 // DECADE 18 // THE WINTER PASSING
26 // BRUTUS + Q&A 28 // DADDY ISSUES 28 // FOTOCRIME 29 // NO VACATION 29 // L.A. WITCH 30 // NO THANK YOU + Q&A
FEATURES 32 34 38 40 44 46 50 54 60 64 68 74 78 82 86 90
// MINUS THE BEAR // LOS CAMPESINOS! // PLANNING FOR BURIAL // HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF // GOLDFRAPP // THE BLACK ANGELS // CLOUD NOTHINGS // FATHER JOHN MISTY // FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES // ME AND THAT MAN // KING WOMAN // ROYAL THUNDER // WEAR YOUR WOUNDS // PALLBEARER // MOTIONLESS IN WHITE // BOSS HOG
96 // ALBUMS 122 // FILM & TV 126 // LIVE REVIEWS
Nuno Babo, Nuno Teixeira, Ricardo Almeida, Sergio Kilmore, Dave Bowes, April Fox, Teddie Taylor, Euan Andrews, Joe Doyle, Miljan Milekić, Andi Chamberlain, Justin Kuntz, Eliza Britney, Mark McConville, Anastasia Psarra, Guy Hirst, Jamie Van Beveren, Miguel De Melo, Antigoni Pitta, Kat Bennett
Andreia Alves, Ricardo Almeida, Miguel De Melo, Teddie Taylor, Kat Bennett
COVER STORY CREDITS
King Woman - Rob Williamson Father John Misty - Guy Lownden
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WORDS FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to our latest issue, our biggest and most ambitious one to date. As always, we’ve worked our asses off to put together a magazine that will challenge and delight you. We worked on this for almost five months, the usual pain of DIY project that is constantly growing. Along the way, we are learning from our mistakes and we’re constantly keeping our fingers on the pulse of the industry to deliver a magazine that we think will push boundaries. We’re lucky enough to have the great Father John Misty and newcomers King Woman on our first ever double cover along with a new and improved layout. Overall, this issue is packed with reviews, inspiring and in-depth interviews such as Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Pallbearer, Royal Thunder, Wear Your Wounds, Boss Hog, just to name a few. As Summer is just around the corner along with what we usually call the ‘Summer Festival silly-crazy season’, we have already started working on our next issue and we’re already finding it challenging to pick who to feature next among all the great choices out there. But that’s enough bullshit talk for now, have fun reading our new issue. Your Editor, Fausto Casais musicandriots.com
OLD SCHOOL MEETS
L O O H C S NEW THE BRAND NEW ALBUM
“CROOKED TEETH” PRE-ORDER NOW! @paparoach
LISTENING POST RIDE Weather Diaries Wichita Recordings Available on June 16
JADE JACKSON Gilded AntiAvailable on May 19
GIRLPOOL Powerplant AntiAvailable on May 12
AT THE DRIVE IN in•ter a•li•a Rise Records Out Now
HO99O9 United States Of Horror Caroline International Out Now
‘68 Two Parts Viper Cooking Vinyl Available on June 2
OXBOW Thin Black Duke Hydra Head Out Now
ARCADEA Arcadea Relapse Records Available on June16
RETURN IN JUNE WITH “THE UNDERSIDE OF POWER”
NOGA EREZ Off The Radar City Slang Available on June 02
SLOWDIVE Slowdive Dead Oceans Out Now
UPCOMING // ALGIERS
atador Records have announced the release of Algiers’ second album. The Underside Of Power, is scheduled for June 23rd. The follow-up to the band’s self-titled album was recorded largely in Bristol and produced by Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Ali Chant, mixed by Randall Dunn (Sunn O)))), with post-production by Ben Greenberg (The Men, Hubble, Uniform). According to the press release, “The record touches on oppression, police brutality, dystopia, and hegemonic power structures. Its fiery lyrics encompass TS Eliot, the Old Testament, The New Jim
Crow, Tamir Rice and Hannah Arendt, while carried by soulful and visceral songs, meditative moments and personal reflection.” Bassist Ryan Mahan explains, “When we were growing up in the South, these critiques of class and race oppression were largely and sometimes violently suppressed. It’s why we take inspiration from the Panthers or the Chicano movement, to name two.” The lack of a singular geographic base of operations only seems to creatively embolden Algiers, who’ve adapted in brave new ways musically. “Being separate and still wanting to write forced us to really get to grips with modern technology, to bend it to our will,” says Mahan. Adding to this Casbah rocking mix of ideas is the relatively recent inclusion of drummer Matt Tong, formerly of Bloc Party.
Joining the group for the touring cycle following their prior album, 2015’s acclaimed eponymous debut, he’d spent time gelling with the original trio as a core component of their simply ferocious live sets to understand and help shape the dynamic. “I was very conscious of being the new guy, working out how to augment the emerging compositions without distracting from them,” he says. For a band that seems to revel and thrive in flux, Tong’s substantial role in the making of The Underside Of Power worked out well. “For me, what it is to work as a musician has changed drastically since I first started out and Algiers has shown me that there is still so much to master.”
THE UNDERSIDE OF POWER ARRIVES ON JUNE 23 VIA MATADOR RECORDS musicandriots.com
ABRASIVE & CONFRONTATIONAL Bristol’s finest post-punk polemics IDLES have recently released their politically charged, furious, abrasive, and confrontational debut album, Brutalism. We had a chat with frontman and lyricist Joseph Talbot about how they’ve evolved since their EPs, how they feel about our existence and our world, and what they’re looking for. Words: Tiago Moreira
t might be a little bit hard to convince people that Welcome and Meat are works from the same band. So, I would like to start by asking what happened in between those two EPs that made you change so much IDLES’ sound and approach? The gap between records and the change in sound was an amalgamation of logistical problems and existential dread. We came to a point where balancing practice time, gig time, work time, girlfriend time, Bowen moving to London time, fun time and all that stuff became taxing which is not a problem if you love the shit that doesn’t pay but we started to find a creative strain.
It boiled down to the fact that we weren’t happy with how the writing process was going so we changed it. We didn’t try and change our genre or anything, we just started thinking less and laughing more; that made our writing more instinctive. I’m not sure the two records sound like they come from different bands, but Meat certainly is from a band that started writing from a more joyful and honest place. Welcome is by no means a lie, it was just us learning our own language. When talking about why you chose Meat as the title for your second EP you declared, “Existential philosophy is always about trying to figure out who you are in the world… and for me, you’re just meat. We are just lumps of meat and beyond that it’s all just a thought processes.” Do
you still feel the same way? Yes I do. That isn’t to say I think it’s as simple as that but I do think it’s good to start a perspective from a point of reference. We are meat and exploring that perspective, for me, was exciting; it dislocated me from sentimentalism and fed violence into my language, spite into indulgence and sarcasm into death. Brutalism is a movement in architecture that originates from the French word for “raw” and typically massive in character, fortress-like, with a predominance of exposed concrete construction. So, did you the term to describe what the album looks like or to point out what you’re aiming at with it? Brutalism worked as a description of what was happening and a brief for moving
RISING // IDLES word and so 1049 Gotho appeared. I love that strange coincidence. What better way to imagine depression than a huge asteroid hurtling toward you with no escape but the collision itself. Stendhal syndrome is a point of discussion where many disagree. What’s your thoughts regarding this specific disorder and its place in today’s art landscape? I think it bizarre that anyone could deny the overwhelming effect art has on people. The point of the song is to highlight the ridiculousness of denying what some people are propounding hit by. Why deny someone of a passion just because you don’t get it? Fucking stupid. The current art landscape is probably mirroring that of the current landscape as a whole in this country. The only way through comfortably is with money which is why so many resent it, but I still can’t deny just how important it is for the soul. Like many people who are not living in or are not from Britain, I was unaware of the existence of British cook, writer and broadcaster Rachel Khoo. Can you please let us know what you wanted to convey with the song “Rachel Khoo”? It was supposed to be a love song dedicated to nihilistic drug addled mornings of wishing for a better future after sadly wasting any opportunity of one. Instead, it’s just a stupid fucking song, but I like it. I remember seeing Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko where it was painted a beautiful picture of Britain’s National Health Service. “Divide and Conquer” talks about you watching your “mother deteriorate in a hospital that was itself dying.” 10 years have passed since Sicko was released and you don’t seem to share all the thrill that some folks displayed in the documentary. How do you see the current NHS’s state and how it has changed throughout the years? It’s slowly being torn apart from the inside by privatisation and putting a strangle hold on funding and staffing. I love the NHS for what it stands for, but I think it’s already dead. I haven’t seen Sicko.
forward. In short, the album to us was a monolithic, raw sounding, head stone shaped car-park, carrying all our issues and decompartmentalising them into ugly, angry/happy songs. NCP meets catharsis, if you will. Why have you decided to title “Mother” the track that contains the following verses, “Sexual violence doesn’t start and end with rape / It starts in our books and behind our school gates / Men are scared women will laugh in their face / Whereas women are scared it’s their lives men will take”? “Mother” was a song that explored the roles of my mother and, in turn, of women in my life. The lyric you plucked was inspired by a Margaret Atwood quote which opened my mind to sexual violence and led
me to think of my mother’s past relationships and her vulnerability as a women beyond her as a mum. “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” I didn’t want the song to lead the listener down a certain path, but intend to open up conversations of womanhood. What’s the connection between 1049 Gotho, a carbonaceous asteroid from the outer region of the asteroid belt, with your friend’s depressions? It came from a conversation about what to call it and I mentioned an analogy of depression a friend used referring to it as a huge black shadow surrounding you all the time that is cripplingly heavy, but not seen by others. Weirdly, Bowen heard this and said “Gotho”, someone later googled the
Your mother was very ill around the time you were making the Meat EP and she passed away while you were making Brutalism. In which way these events helped shape your creative output? I imagine it was a great fuel to some raging. Well, I’d say it was the entirety of my existence at that point as I was in a strange city looking after her and watching her die and nothing was the same, with that in mind I’d say that the album became a crutch as well as a platform on which to heal. Without Brutalism, I’d have to have found a way of channeling my loss and my feeling of being lost. The need for catharsis, at that point, was vital so it forced me to become a writer of urgency and most certainly honesty. Is being visceral and providing an unshakable experience to whoever is listening the ultimate goal with IDLES? Yes.
BRUTALISM IS OUT NOW VIA BALLEY RECORDS musicandriots.com
JAPANESE BREAKFAST BRINGS “SOFT SOUNDS FROM ANOTHER PLANET” DIRECTLY TO YOU
ichelle Zauner has announced a new Japanese Breakfast album. The follow-up to last year’s debut Psychopomp is called Soft Sounds From Another Planet, and it’s out July 14 via Dead Oceans. “The title Soft Sounds From Another Planet alludes to the promise of something that may or may not be there. Like a hope in something more. The songs are about human resilience and the strength it takes to claw out of the darkest of spaces.” Michelle Zauner wrote the debut Japanese Breakfast album in the weeks after her mother died of cancer, thinking she would quit music entirely once it was done. That wasn’t the case. Soft Sounds From Another Planet isn’t a concept album, and over the course of 12 tracks, Zauner explores an expansive thematic universe, a cohesive outpouring of unlike parts structured to create a galaxy of her own design. With help from co-producer Craig Hendrix (who also co-produced Little Big League’s debut) and Jorge Elbrecht, (Ariel Pink, Tamaryn) who mixed the album, Zauner recontextualizes her bedroom pop beginnings, expanding and maturing her sound. “Where Psychopomp introduced the world to Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds dives deeper. It builds space where there is none, and suggests that in the face of tragedy, we find ways to keep on living” - the press release describes it. Supporting her brand new album, Michelle Zauner will be touring North America for the next couple of weeks alongside the likes of Slowdive, (Sandy) Alex G, and Tegan and Sara.
SOFT SOUNDS FROM ANOTHER PLANET ARRIVES ON JULY 14 VIA DEAD OCEANS
Xiu Xiu’s prolific catalog contains everything from Twin Peaks covers to jazz influences, techno beats and acoustic guitars. Predictability is impossible and the generic is unheard of in the ever-changing and exploratory world that is rooted in Jamie Stewart. The latest release from the trio, consisting of Stewart, Shayna Dunkelman and Angela Seo, is a forward-thinking, truly innovative electronic space-age soundscape. Forget brings forth notes of early 2000s releases while also delivering glimpses into the future that only Xiu Xiu can muster. We talked to Jamie Stewart about his vast discography, the evolution of the recording process and the direction of Forget. Words: Teddie Taylor // Photo: Alex Brown
WELCOME BACK // XIU XIU
ou’ve released a prolific amount of music over the years. How do you write so much material without becoming redundant? Kind of you to say it is not redundant, many might debate you on that. But at least the amount comes from being obsessive, loving music, not having much of a social life and to maintain my sanity needing an external focus. More than once I have said that music is an unsolvable puzzle. You can never get it “right”. You can only be true or false with your devotion to it and to the hearts of the people who may come across it. That endless quest, for lack of better word, appeals to a person, like myself who as noted is obsessive. You said back in 2014 that you might not record another album; what changed your mind? It was an extraordinarily difficult time psychically at that time. My music heart felt very very very broken. I talked a lot to Angela and Shayna from Xiu Xiu and to my therapist and they were invaluable and patient in helping to mend the cracks and help me to see what the real problems were. Also we had a month long residency at the Kitchen in New York working with artist Danh Vo on the sound installation METAL in the fall of 2014. This piece, to the band, was rejuvenating to an exponential degree largely due to the support of the staff there and Danh. They were dark days, but I feel very grateful to everyone who held my hand through them. Do you intentionally do “weird” or “obscure” things with your music or is it organic? When Cory McCulloch and I started Xiu Xiu we both felt that the term weird was an
insult. People claim it is affectionate but it is always meant to separate. And as the purpose of any real music is to give to the possible listener thusly to not in any way separate. Therefore then “no” is the cleanest reply. How has your approach to writing and recording evolved since your first album? I may be the worst person to answer this as I have no perspective on this at all. But musically it has always been a collaborative process. How that collaboration differs from song to song. Sometimes I write and record most of song and have a producer or band member finishing it. Sometimes there is a tiny sketch and we grow it from there. In every case more than one person’s heart is in it. How lyrics are done has changed a lot though. When we started they were tended to be written as the music was being written and somewhat spontaneously, not editing for too long. Now I make and keep notes whenever I hear, read, find out about or am struck by a phrase or event and then these become the seeds of the song. In a way this is spontaneous as well in that, with a note pad always at the ready, any moment can be flickeringly remembered and then squeezed even a couple years later. I think a lot of people who write lyrics follow this process. What led you in the early Xiu Xiu, pop direction that this record takes? Personally, it was not so much a pop direction as it was a “song” in the tradition of song writing direction. We were listening to Roy Orbinson, Joe Meek Productions, PJ Harvery, The Bad Seeds, Kraftwerk, and early Scott Walker non-stop when the record began and trying to approach writing as they did and do. Perhaps the structure is pop in that there are lyrics and melodies and choruses, but the intent is based more in the (pardon this awful word) craft of writing. There have been times when Xiu Xiu were deeply interested in top 40 style pop, but for this record that was not where
we were coming from. Could you explain the meaning of the spoken lyrics of “Faith, Torn Apart?” It seems like they’re from the point of view of a young woman? Is that even halfway correct? There is a web site called backpage.com that is notorious for being used in the trafficking underage sex workers. A lot of this activity takes place in a neighborhood not far from mine. I, out of depressive curiosity and some kind attempt at social empathy, began to take screen shots of the young girls who were on the site. The photos of the young girls on the site look like sexy but clothed selfies mostly. I am sure this is avoid breaking child pornography laws. But the text in ads is very explicit and direct. Whenever I would find an ad of a person who was obviously a child on the site I would report it to the web master. But I don’t think they care. As far as I know, none that I reported were ever taken down. After collecting these photos for several months I had, sadly a few hundred. The “poem” at the end of that song is from looking at these photos ad writing a one line first impression of the young girl in the photo. Each day change to a new one as my screen saver in my studio and say a little prayer for that person hoping that they are ok. But I fear they are very very very far from ok. The lines are spoken by Vaginal Davis, one of my idols. The cover art is the title Forget in Arabic. Is there a reason you chose that script, apart from aesthetics? It would be an obvious choice to have made for political or social reasons, but we in fact really only chose it because it is beautiful. Which in an attempt to de-politicize it is I suppose political.
FORGET IS OUT NOW VIA UPSET THE RHYTHM musicandriots.com
WELCOME TO PLEASANTRIES! Decade have just released their second album, Pleasantries, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut, Good Luck. Using irony and honesty to express themselves along with smart and sharp grungy pop tunes, ironically or not, Pleasantries is an awesome sophomore release. We talked to Connor Fathers about their new album, which was recorded in several legendary recording studios with Romesh Dodangoda and many more. Words: Andreia Alves
t took a while for you guys to release the follow up to your debut album, Good Luck. What had you been up to during that time? To be honest, we’ve been doing a lot of writing. We burned through quite a lot of songs to get to the final 11 for Pleasantries. We went through so many demos and we changed labels, we changed management and it all took a lot longer than I think any of us would have liked, but we’re finally here with a team that we’re happy with. We’re with Rude Records for this album and they have been really supportive which is great. We took a bit of time to line that up and to be honest we’ve already written nine or ten songs for the next album, so we’re headed of the game a little bit. [laughs]
Like you mentioned, you guys have a new home label, the good folks of Rude Records. What led you to work with them? We’ve been speaking with them for quite a while and they’re just really nice and easy going guys. They’re passionate about what they do and they’re just really enthusiastic for our music which is great! That’s one of the good ones, if you know what I mean, when it comes to the music industry. They are really nice. Good Luck received such an amazing feedback worldwide, so was it in any way stressful to write album 2? No, I don’t think so. To us, we were really kin to follow up from Good Luck. Our sound was sort of naturally progressing a little bit and sometimes I think we feel like we can’t publish music at the same rate that we write it. We evolved our sound a lot quicker than the conventional ways in which you release music nowadays. I know it sounds ridiculous because it was such a long time between our records, but there’s also deals going on with labels and management that
prevented us from being faster as we would like. It was effortless to write this album, it just sort of went the way we wanted it to go and it felt really natural. And again, where we’re going now, it feels like a very natural progression. It’s a joy to write honestly, it doesn’t feel difficult. What did you want to convey with Pleasantries? Pleasantries is just really about chronicling the story of life up until the point you get to your mid-20s, it’s a funny time when you get here and you enter adulthood. Being an adult really hits you. I think what we tried to convey as you listen through the record from the beginning to the end is sort of like the story of your life up until the point you are now and the things that you learn when you are a child that you’re not indestructible and your body can take some real hits that you’re mentally and emotionally not indestructible. You go through really low points and really high points, you fall in love, you fallout of love... It deals with all those sorts of
RISING // DECADE want to be a musician? Good luck with that!” [laughs] We just got a thing for irony and sarcasm. We’re smart asses really. [laughs] Does that has a connection with the rotten flowers on the cover art? Yeah! That was an idea that I had. I took that photo myself. It’s the cheapest artwork ever. [laughs] The cover is really meant to say “Here, I got you these” as the same way you exchange pleasantries. You give someone flowers, but it’s tainted. It’s meant ironically and it’s not as it seems, the flowers are dead. There’s nothing nice about that. Lyrical wise, what did drive Alex to write such immediate and sharp lyrics? Alex is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. What goes on in his brain sometimes I don’t entirely know, but I love the visions he has, I love where he gets his ideas from and where he draws his inspirations from... I think like a lot of people in the mid-20s, you start to go through some strange feelings and feeling out of place in life and not really knowing what your purpose is... All those sort of existential ideas that can lead you to some dark nights and I guess people like Alex and myself are blessed to have music and that’s a way out of that. I think there’s a lot of emotion in that and he’s a really honest person with his music and it makes it really relatable. He’s a really clever writer.
human emotions and it’s all composing in that regards. I think with the title Pleasantries is just meant to be ironic. A lot of time is spent on small talk and we’re all sort of crossing over the real issues and the deep meanings in everyone’s lives, and it’s about stopping for those moments with this record.
Musically, did you guys did anything differently this time around that stands out in the writing process of this album? We wrote a certain amount of the album mostly when we went into the studio. The first time around we had everything written, we went into the studio for a few weeks, we recorded it and left when it was done. But this time we went in with a little bits here and there to finish, a few decisions to make and that made it really interesting because we were recording in a few studios. One of them was Rockfield in Wales, which is out in the middle of nowhere and no phone signal, crappy Internet and it’s an old converted farm. We were all sleeping there for a week, there was a bunch of rooms and so we were really sort of living with each other with no access to the outside world. That was really exciting and really fun process to do, it made the songs a bit more personal and we really made a mark on there. That was the most fun part of this process I would say.
Was there any reason in particular to pick up the word Pleasantries to name the album? It’s from the line of the opening track “Human Being” where it says “Exchanging pleasantries / With people you don’t really like / Don’t care for what they say / Have a nice day.” It has a couple of meanings to it and one of them I think is also about the cult within the music industry where it’s all just small talk and people being friendly to each other for the sake of it. Lots of sucking up to each other, you know? It’s about that sort of way of exchanging pleasantries and get to the real issues. It’s in a way an ironic title, much like as the title of our debut album. Good Luck was meant to be ironic, like “Oh you
Like you said, you went to a few recording studios for this album, including Real World, Rockfield and Abbey Road studios, overseen by producer Romesh Dodangoda. Tell me more about that process and how the experience was for you guys. It was Romesh’s idea for us to get out and about for it and we were really kin. Real World studios is just down the road from where we all live, so that made it nice and easy to do some long days there and still get the confidence of coming home, having dinner at home and things like that. We recorded the drums there and it had a really fantastic sound and a really great place to be. And then we moved on to Rockfield in Wales like I said. We did the guitars and make a start on the vocals. We
really wanted to go there just because of the history of the place. So many amazing bands that have been through there, in particular I would say Oasis who we draw a huge amount of inspiration from. They did (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?  there, they did a lot of takes for their acoustic guitar in that record outside and around the farm and you can hear birds from the farm. The people that are in the studio that live there would take us on tours around the studio. There’s even a hole in the wall that is still there now from where Liam Gallagher put his guitar through the wall. [laughs] The history of that place really drew us to it. And then Abbey Road, of course. Everyone knows about Abbey Road. Romesh is quite friendly with the staff that works there and really wanted to finish the record there. It was just perfect. You guys just released a new single called “Turn Off Your TV” and it feels so accurate to our nowadays and how people act socially right now. What do you think about that? Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s really getting kind of frightening, isn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I went to a gig and didn’t see loads of phone lights in front of me. Even just going to a gig and watch a band and seeing everyone with phones in front of me, people tweeting and stuff like that. It’s just crazy. Food, drinks and all things like that in moderation is fine. I think if you can take all in to context and try to see through the fake news use and take everything pinch of soul, I think you will be alright, but it’s scary times definitely. It’s easy to follow into the trap as well. It’s really comfortable to just sit and choose which friends you want to interact with and who you care about and who you don’t. It’s easy to follow into the trap because it’s very comfortable, but it’s scary and that’s what that song is about. Why do you think Pleasantries marks a defining turning point to your band? Maybe every band says it when they release a new album, I’m not sure, but I feel like if you want to feel anything else other than your latest work is your best, then why are you doing it if you don’t think it is your best? I think along your past as a band or an artist or whatever you do creatively, you’re always looking to improve, refine, evolve and get better and deeper into whatever it is what you can see, what you want to achieve and what you want to do. I think with Pleasantries we’ve got as closed as we’ve ever been to realizing what it is what we want to do and now with the new songs that we’re writing for the third record we’re getting even closer to that. But I will say that it’s never finished and all of our albums will just one day merge into one big and long back catalog and you will be able to look back and see the different things that we’ve touched on, all the different themes, sounds and ideas that we explored, because we never want to make the same album twice. We never want to make the same sound twice. We want to explore new ideas, sounds and feelings.
PLEASANTRIES IS OUT NOW VIA RUDE RECORDS musicandriots.com
LET’S “TRY NOT TO FREAK OUT” WITH SLØTFACE
orway’s Sløtface have a live-wire energy and introspection beyond their years. Led by vocalist Haley Shea with guitarist Tor-Arne Vikingstad, bassist Lasse Lokøy and Halvard Skeie Wiencke on drums, the band have announced their highly anticipated debut album, Try Not To Freak Out, set for release on September 15 via Propeller Recordings. They made half of Sponge State with producer Dan Austin. “We co-operate a lot better when he’s around, I think,” Lasse laughs. So it made sense that they would
ask him to produce their debut album. Now students in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, they recorded in downtown Oslo over three weeks in summer 2016, when the city empties out for the season, in a concrete bunker of a studio. “It was a good thing for recording a rock album,” says Haley. “The main thread of the album is never feeling that you’re in the right place, or that you’re not doing the right thing, which I think is a common thing in your twenties when you’re trying to figure out what you wanna do with your life,” says Haley. Part of the brilliance behind’s Sløtface, it’s their unique lyrical perspective, Haley’s lyrics are confrontational and brutally
M ROUND UP 16
unicipal Waste have announced their sixth album, entitled Slime And Punishment and due to be released on June 23rd via Nuclear Blast. “We’ve been getting punished for the last five years by people asking for a new album. Now we’re here to return the favour with an aural onslaught of speed metal punk. Enjoy a taste of slime courtesy of the Waste” - Ryan Waste states. “We’re sorry this took so long” comments vocalist Tony Foresta. “That was our bad. It feels good to be back musically kicking you in the balls... and or titties.” This is also the first album to be engineered by bassist Phil “Landphil” Hall at Blaze of Torment Studios in Richmond, VA. Mixing and
honest, “I’m one of those typical over-achievers that’s trying to convince themselves that you can always do more and be better and the only reason that you’re failing at things is because you’re not working hard enough,” she says. In addition to a handful of European festivals, the band will kick off a string of UK tour dates supporting Los Campesinos! in April and The Cribs in May. Alongside that, the band will play a whole host of European festivals over the summer.
TRY NOT TO FREAK OUT ARRIVES ON SEPTEMBER 15 VIA PROPELLER RECORDINGS
mastering was completed by Bill Metoyer (Slayer, Dark Angel) in Hollywood, CA. Mark Kozelek has had a great and prolific 2017 so far in releasing a solo EP, a Sun Kil Moon album and a team-up with Jesu. Now, he has announced a new album with Parquet Courts bassist Sean Yeaton. It’s called Yellow Kitchen and is out July 4th via Kozelek’s Caldo Verde Records. Yellow Kitchen will mark Kozelek’s fourth release of 2017. Former Dirty Projectors member Amber Coffman has shared the full details for her upcoming debut solo album, City of No Reply, which is out June 2nd via Columbia. It was produced and written by Coffman alongside Dave Longstreth, who recorded it in his Los Angeles
DEAD HEAVENS (WALTER SCHREIFELS) ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM
ew York City’s Dead Heavens, the psych-rock project of guitarist and frontman Walter Schreifels (Vanishing Life, Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicksand, and more), Paul Kostabi (Youth Gone Mad, White Zombie, Psychotica), Drew Thomas (Youth of Today, Bold, Into Another), and Nathan Aguilar (Cults) have announced their new album, Whatever Witch You Are, out June 16 on Dine Alone Records. With a new member aboard, the great Paul Kostabi, “I knew Paul from his days with White Zombie, but hadn’t seen him in years and didn’t know he was recording,”
studio in 2015.
Juanita Stein will release her debut
solo album, America, on Nude Records on July 28th. Stein, who is already known as the singer-songwriter with Howling Bells, recorded the album with producer Gus Seyffert (Beck, Ryan Adams) in Los Angeles. Following recent tours with Michael Kiwanuka and Richard Hawley, Stein will follow a North American tour in May with UK dates over the summer including with Tom Petty in Hyde Park and at Cambridge Folk Festival. Rancid announced a brand new album Trouble Maker to be released on June 9th via Hellcat/Epitaph Records. This is the ninth studio album for the punk legends and the follow-up to 2014’s critically acclaimed
from a project into an actual band, changing the sound dramatically. Heavier and dual guitar leads, more sonic possibilities. Whether they’re connecting the sounds of the psychedelic ‘70s or channelling the now, Dead Heavens are sound tracking their exploration and as drummer Drew Thomas mentions, “What the world needs now is for more people to take psychedelic drugs.” Dead Heavens are launched into the world to succeed where the hippies failed. Get excited!
Schreifels said. “Turns out he was in possession of the same 16-track reel-toreel I had recorded Gorilla Biscuits’ Start Today on back in ’89, so it was a perfect fit.” The new album began recording at Kostabi’s home studio in Piermont, New York with his massive collection of ‘70s recording reels from The James Gang, Sabbath, and Hendrix, spinning in between takes. “Those recordings really inspired our sound,” Schreifels said of Kostabi’s analog archive. “We began to see ourselves in the context of the Vietnam War.” With Kostabi as a full member of Dead Heavens, which had morphed mid-recording
WHATEVER WITCH YOU ARE ARRIVES ON JUNE 16 VIA DINE ALONE RECORDS
…Honor Is All We Know. Trouble Maker was produced by Rancid’s longtime producer and founder of Epitaph Records, Brett Gurewitz. Rancid and Dropkick Murphys will be co-headlining From Boston To Berkeley Tour, kicking off July 27 in Bangor, ME and wrapping August 26 in Southern California. Each night will culminate with Rancid and Dropkick Murphys on stage together for a joint encore. Additionally, Rancid will tour this summer with Green Day in the UK and perform at select European summer festivals. The Melvins return with a double album, A Walk With Love and Death, on July 7 via Ipecac Recordings. The double effort find the trio of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald showcasing
two distinct sides to the band’s music: Death, a proper Melvins’ release and Love, the score to the Jesse Nieminen directed, self-produced short also titled A Walk With Love and Death. “This was a huge undertaking,” explained band ringleader Buzz Osborne. “All three things: the album, the soundtrack and the film are benchmarks for us.” Drummer Dale Crover added, “A Walk With Love and Death is one giant, dark, moody, psychotic head trip! Not for the faint of heart. You’ll sleep with the lights on after listening.” The albums, which include guests Joey Santiago (The Pixies), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes/Crystal Fairy) and Anna Waronker (That Dog), were self-produced with engineer Toshi Kosai. musicandriots.com
MIXTAPE THE VERY BEST NEW TRACKS
1. NOGA EREZ “Off Radar” 2. OXBOW “Other People” 3. GIRLPOOL “It Gets More Blue” 4. CHASTITY BELT “Caught In A Lie” 5. ’68 “The Workers Are Few” 6. STONE SOUR “Fabuless” 7. AGENT BLÅ “Derogatory Embrace” 8. FATHER JOHN MISTY “Pure Comedy” 9. RIDE “All I Want” 10. AT THE DRIVE IN “Governed By Contagions” 11. SLØTFACE “Magazine” 12. ALGIERS “The Underside Of Power” 13. RISE AGAINST “The Violence” 14. JADE JACKSON “Goodtime Gone” 15. MUTOID MAN “Kiss Of Death” 16. LAND OF TALK “Heartcore” 17. INVSN “I Dreamt Music” 18. LOOM “Nailbender” 19. NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT “Dark Blue” 20. RATBOYS “Control” 21. WAXAHATCHEE “No Curse” 22. US AND US ONLY “Bored Of Black” 23. RANCID “Ghost Of A Chance” 24. AMBER COFFMAN “No Coffee” 25. WAVVES “No Shade”
INTENSE & STARKLY PERSONAL
With their new Double Exposure EP freshly released, The Winter Passing hav ally confident and daring group in a short amount of time. We caught up wit about the new EP and how the band has evolved since it formed. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Sean Cahill
ow’s 2017 been for you guys so far? It’s been good so far yeah, we did a weekender with Four Year Strong, that was cool. We’ve been rehearsing a lot and working on the live set, as well as getting everything together to put out our new EP - Double Exposure. You guys spent the last year and a half
touring and sharing stages with bands like Touché Amore, Modern Baseball, Gnarwolves, Balance and Composure, and Moose Blood. How much did you take from those tours into shaping your music? I guess we learned a lot from the support tours. How bigger shows are operated was a big learning curve, playing to other band’s audiences was a fun new experience, I feel like playing more high profile shows made us a tighter live band and also helped increase our confidence in ourselves and each other. We also took a lot of inspiration from the bands we’ve played with/toured with. The new EP, Double Exposure is out now. How was it like to work on this new EP
RISING // THE WINTER PASSING predominantly punk rock world when they were active in the 80’s which is something The Winter Passing has similarly taken from them perhaps. When we formed the band we would mainly play mix bill shows in Dublin with slightly heavier hardcore punk bands before we toured with bands similar to our sound in the U.K. The idea of not just being a pigeon hole generic band who only play shows with bands of the same genre was something we heavily took as inspiration from The Replacements. Rob and Kate, you write together the lyrics for your songs and they’re always so honest and introspective. What did mainly inspire you this time around? This time we documented occurrences within 2016 as opposed to a barrage of content that made up A Different Space of Mind, this time we were more specifically speaking about our feelings. The common theme that runs through the record is battling the negative energy within your mind. We used the EP as an open book to detail the last year of our lives and things that brought us down as a form of coping. Which song stands out the most for you all and why? For me personally it’d have to be “Escapism”, it’s one of the most important songs I’ve ever written and the guys were really supportive with making the song come together in time for the release as it was the last song we worked on before travelling to America to record. For the band as a whole I feel “Significance” is also a stand out, we wanted to write a song with cleaner tones and everyone was super happy with how that one in particular turned out. You worked with producer J. Robbins for this EP. How was it like to work with him? It was an incredible experience to work with J, I really feel like he brought out the best in us. He also encouraged us to live track all the music for the record which is something we hadn’t done before but wanted to do, he’s a legend & a true inspiration on us all, even more now that we know him personally I think. It was a real life goal achieved getting to work with him on this release, he’s recording some of our favourite records and we’re very grateful to now be apart of his discography.
ve proven to be a reth Kate to find out more
after such amazing feedback from your debut album, A Different Space of Mind? We were a lot more confident in the music we had written for the new EP, we feel like it’s our best work to date and the process of recording was really special for us all and again, a really great learning experience for the band. What’s the meaning behind the EP’s title? The reference “Double Exposure” is the act of two frames being exposed on one frame, so we used the title as a metaphor to represent the theme of the record. Rob & I co-wrote all the lyrical content for the release and we felt like the term “Double Exposure” accurately fitted the contrasting emotions from a lyrical point of view, being portrayed as one medium sonically!
You guys cite influences such as The Get Up Kids, The Anniversary and The Replacements. In which way did those bands inspire you for this new EP? On this recording we actually took inspiration from many different artists across a wide variety of music, I guess we always take inspiration from these bands because we’re big fans of 90’s alternative & emo music, our music is very much in the vein of that era in music. The Replacements have always been a massive influence on us also, mainly their ability to write hooks beyond guitar driven punk music. With The Replacements, we are inspired by them for a number of reasons really, not necessarily the sound of the band but the aesthetic of that band also, they existed in a
What are your touring plans after releasing your new EP? We’re gonna try play and tour as much as possible when the record drops. We’ve some things to announce later in the year still, it’s gonna be a cool year! What records or bands are you guys into lately? I’ve been listening to a band called Bleached a lot recently, they’re great, the band we’re touring with next month Personal Best are fantastic & an awesome new girl band from Dublin called Pillow Queens. I make Spotify playlists with all the stuff I’m listening to regularly enough
DOUBLE EXPOSURE EP IS OUT NOW VIA 6131 RECORDS musicandriots.com
ROUND UP 20
ith an emotional message to fans, Los Angeles post-hardcore outfit letlive. are calling it day. In 2016 the band released their excellent and last album, If I’m The Devil… Taking to Facebook, the band announced that “There will be no further activity for the foreseeable future,” due to “a divergence in views and aims has developed within the camp.” “We have been granted opportunities and experiences beyond anything we could have ever imagined and we are well aware that none of the aforementioned would be possible without
you,” the band wrote in a statement. “Your support, investments, and genuine belief have been nothing short of inspiring which is what allowed us to create these works while enduring the unsettling ebb and flow of career musicianship.” They continued: “We want to thank every single person that we were privileged enough to make a connection with through this vessel. We will no longer write the soundtrack, but the most important element, the idea, will continue as long as you allow it to. You are and always will be letlive.” Jawbreaker recently announced their first show in 21 years: a headlining set at
WAXAHATCHEE RETURNS WITH “OUT IN THE STORM”
atie Crutchfield has announced a new Waxahatchee album. It’s called Out in the Storm, and it’s out July 14 via Merge, fourth album as Waxahatchee and her second release with the legendary indie label, Merge Records. The follow-up to 2015’s Ivy Tripp, the new album was tracked at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia with John Agnello, a producer, recording engineer, and mixer known for working with some of the most iconic musicians of the last 25 years, including Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. For Agnello, it was Crutchfield’s voice that drew him in. “The first demo song I heard was ‘Fade’. The melodies, the way she sings it, the way she turns the melody, and the way she goes note to note is literally beautiful. Singers—you either have it or you don’t. She has it.” Agnello and Crutchfield worked together for most of December 2016, along with the band: sister Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, and Ashley Arnwine on drums; Katie Harkin, touring guitarist with Sleater-Kinney, also contributed lead guitar. “My experience working with John was genuinely life-changing,” says Crutchfield. “We had such a great connection right off the bat, and I really feel like he was always looking out for me. He pushed me when I needed it, and gave me space when I needed it.” Out in the Storm tells the story of Crutchfield taking control of a volatile situation, embracing her flaws, and exploring a new sonic freedom. “A running theme on the album is accepting your own imperfections that you’ve been trying really hard to hide... This record is me saying all of that out loud alone as a personal practice. It’s sad and it’s angry, and I think being both at the same time proved to be a powerful motivation for me,” says Crutchfield. Jesse Riggins
Riot Fest in Chicago this September, besides that they’ve also announced the Don’t Break Down documentary. When the movie arrives, it will feature interviews with Billie Joe Armstrong, Steve Albini, Jessica Hopper, Graham Elliot, Chris Shiflett, Josh Caterer and others. Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein last delivered a solo album in 2002 with At Sixes and Sevens, but he’s now detailed a follow-up LP 15 years on. Titled Spooky Action, Loewenstein’s latest solo venture arrives on June 16 through Joyful Noise. Mary Epworth will release her new album Elytral on September 1st this year. The
OUT IN THE STORM ARRIVES ON JULY 14 VIA MERGE RECORDS
LP, a follow up to her acclaimed 2012 debut Dream Life, is her first since signing to Sunday Best. The album was produced by Thom Monahan and recorded at his Golden Void studio in Los Angeles. The Baltimore band Us and Us Only will release their debut album, Full Flower, on July 14th via Topshelf Records. Us and Us Only formed as a trio in Baltimore around 2009. After self-releasing four EPs that vary between acoustic arrangements to a warped vision of indie rock that features chopped and sampled vocals alongside more dense and distorted soundscapes, the band has settled into a groove that
manages to distill all of those sounds into their first LP entitled Full Flower. Colin Stetson-led experimental supergroup EX EYE is poised to make their formal debut with their forthcoming self-titled album, due out June 23rd (Relapse Records). Recorded live at Ismaily’s Figure 8 Studios in Brooklyn, NY (Blonde Redhead, Damien Rice, Okkervil River, Son Lux, Pussy Riot) and anchored by Stetson on alto and bass saxophones, EX EYE’s top notch lineup is fleshed out by Greg Fox (Liturgy) on drums, Shahzad Ismaily (Secret Chiefs 3, Ceramic Dog) on synths and Toby Summerfield on guitar. musicandriots.com
SPONTANEOUS, ENERGETIC & NEW AGAIN Having gone through some major changes over the last few years, Pulled Apart By Horses are crashing (in a good way) 2017 with a striking new album, a new drummer and a refreshing and bold attitude. Without further ado, here’s what we talked about with the band’s bassist, Rob Lee. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Steve Gullick
fter you guys released your third album Blood back in 2014, you went through some changes within the band, such as Lee [Vincent, former drummer] leaving the band and you spent a year without management or a label. How was it like that period of time for you all? I think it was an important change for us to go through because we’ve been together for quite a long time up until that point and we had a really good run with our previous managers. We released a couple of albums on a label called Transgressive and then we did one with Sony RED. We got to the end of that period really. It was a group decision. Our managers were kind of going in a different direction that we wanted to go in, so we just kind of felt like it was time
to reset everything a little bit and go back to that sort of naivety and the unexpected nature of when you start a band and you don’t have management, a record label and things like that. It was a freeing experience to be able to concentrate on writing, but at the same time it was kind of uncertain what we were doing, but I think that added an excitement to writing again and reset what the band was again really. Also in that time, Lee saw it as an opportunity and we could tell that he wasn’t quite comfortable in the band for a little while. I mean, he’s got kids and a wife and then moved out to London and he was kind of away from us. We weren’t together as much as usually when we write, practice and things like that. He kind of called one day and said that he was thinking about slowing down and just do casual band things, like maybe we all getting day jobs and then just sort of do the band in our free time like just playing shows a few times a year and stuff like
that, and the three of us were like “No, no, no! We want to keep doing it full time, even more now that we don’t have restrains with management or label to worry about.” So then he said “I think this is an opportunity for me to do other things.” We all agreed and seemed the right time to change another aspect of the band, which was the lineup. With Lee’s departure, you welcomed a new drummer which is Tommy Davidson [formely of These Monsters]. What did he bring to the band’s dynamic and creative process? We have known Tommy for years and he has been part of the music scene and played in different bands. We shared a practice space with the bands that he was in before. The way that our band has always worked is very democratic and we always do things as a team, so having someone that we knew really well already to join in with us was
WELCOME BACK // PULLED APART BY HORSES screaming kind of band, like the vocals were all shouts. Over time we have developed that into a sort of more melodic vocal approach. We always wanted to do that on our terms gradually and learn how to do that, but there was always a bit of pressure about a few things. We don’t have that pressure anymore. We did end up on this album with more melodies, harmonies and more singing on it, but we did that on our own path rather than feeling the need to do that. It just really opened up the whole thing creatively. There was no expectations of what we needed to be doing and when you’re in that sort of environment you just feel more free to create whatever you want, so that was important. A lot of interviews that we’ve been doing, people are asking about Lee leaving and the new drummer and it’s kind of weird because for us it’s been like two years since that and Tommy has been involved in the band for two years now. We’ve been writing and gigging together and so it doesn’t feel like a new thing to us, but I definitely think that he brought a new level of enthusiasm and creativity to the whole writing process. Like I said, you could tell that Lee was becoming a little off and not into the band anymore, so that was maybe slowing down the creative process whereas having somebody new that was really excited to be doing it that really invigorated all of it again to get back to the creative aspects of it. And of course Tommy has very different influences. Everybody has different sort of influences and he’s also a very creative person in general. He’s got a screen print in business. The three of us - myself, Tom [Hudson] and James [Brown] - we all came to Leeds to study art and design, and that was what Tommy did as well. In that way we all have mindset a little bit more. Tommy has also got involved with the visual aspects of the band, which is really cool.
really cool in a way that he brought a new personality to the whole thing, especially the creative aspect of it, so it was big aim to go to do all that and to go through that change. What did you take from those crucial changes into the making of your new album, The Haze? From not having management nor a record label, we didn’t feel any pressure, but after a few years when you got like three albums out already and you think about things like “What label are you going to take the album to? And how’s gonna do it commercially?” and then you kind of start imposing on yourselves certain aspects of expectations from management and people like that. You kind of have a team around you for commercial stuff. One of the things that was always put away in the background was kind of the vocal thing where we started off being quite sort of
You said that you guys wanted to get back to that spontaneity of your first record and simply have fun. Listening to The Haze, it really conveys that energy and attitude. What can you tell me about how was it like for you guys to write these tunes with that mindset? It was a transitional period that we went through of no longer having a management or a record label to worry about and having a new lineup... The whole thing felt really fresh and new again, there was no sort of responsibility to do anything anymore. With the first album you don’t even think about recording an album, you just write some songs and you’re just a bunch of friends hanging out together and you want to just play music and eventually play some gigs. You don’t put any expectations into what you’re doing, so there’s a real spontaneity and sort of naivety that goes into the first album, I think that applies with all bands really. The second one you kind of feel like you start thinking a bit more about everything. With the third one you think even more and you kind of start really thinking about what you’re doing. I think the third album was the most serious thing we have done. I think lyrically was a bit more serious. It was important explore that and go through that, but we felt like we needed to get back to our roots, just the fun aspects of it. One of the things that we were able to do as well
when we were writing was we actually had our own practice space in Leeds, which is great. We can go in and out whenever we want to and that’s really great, but obviously we’ve been in and out for about like five or six years and so it becomes like home. You guys went to a tiny and remote cottage on a dairy farm in Wales for 10 days, to just be away from the world and any distractions and focus on this album. How much beneficial that was for you all? We wanted to put ourselves in a different situation just to get a new atmosphere into the record. We ended up hanging out in a cottage in the middle of nowhere in South Wales and there was literally nothing around it at all. There was just old farms’ fields. We could stay up as late as we wanted to make noise throughout the night. There was distractions at being in Leeds where you got your family, there’s always something else going on and maybe other gigs to go to, but we were really locked in just the four of us and that was a really great bound experience. We obviously knew already each other really well over the years, but as band over those couple of weeks that we were there that was a really important aspect doing it as well. It almost felt like we were just kids having a sleepover. [laughs] We just did whatever we wanted, just getting up, play music and having freedom rather than thinking like “We have to meet at this time to practice” and then thinking about getting home and stuff like that. You had Ross Orton on board to record this album, at his McCall Sound Studio in Sheffield. How was the experience to work with him? It was excellent. We did the first album in Burlington which is obviously away from home, the second one we did at Monnow Valley Studio in South Wales which is a quite legendary studio, then we actually did the third one in Leeds and we were doing it a week a time and then we would be at home every night. With this new one we did in Sheffield which is not that far away, it’s like an hour away from where we live, but again we were taking ourselves out of our comfort zone away from home. I’m actually from Sheffield, I grew up there and so for me it was an important thing to do, just to go back to Sheffield and spend some time there. I moved away when I was really young and to go back there was really nice. It was a great experience for me personally. But yeah, we’ve been fans of Ross’ work and all the things he has done. He worked with Drenge and I’m really into them, a band called Wet Nuns who sadly their drummer passed away a while ago. We loved the work he did with that band and also he did some stuff with Arctic Monkeys as well. I guess he had kind of a way of keeping up that north and Yorkshire vibe in the album, which we wanted to keep that because we’re definitely a Yorkshire band. Ross is such a great person to work with and he has that kind of Yorkshire’s working class mentality. It was really great working with him.
THE HAZE IS OUT NOW VIA CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL musicandriots.com
FESTIVALS // SPRING // 2017
SUPERSONIC 16-18 JUNE (BIRMINGHAM) - UK FEATURING: ARBOURETUM, COLIN STETSON, JENNY HVAL, LAURA CANNELL, MELT BANANA, OXBOW, PRINCESS NOKIA, RAIME, ZU, ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF, PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS, RICHARD DAWSON AND MUCH MORE...
he UK’s premier experimental music and arts event, Supersonic Festival 2017, returns this June. Taking place in the cultural hub of Digbeth in Birmingham, with a very special opening concert performance in the evening of Friday 16th June in the Grade I listed Town Hall, featuring Anna Von Hausswolff performing on the venue’s famous pipe organ. The pipe organ played a huge part on the Swedish singer/musician’s latest album The Miraculous , and in forming the colossal sound that Anna Von Hausswolff has become known for. Expect drama, brooding drones, dreamy soundscapes and sublime storytelling. Supersonic Festival continues on Friday 16th, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th in the
heart of Digbeth’s cultural quarter, with performances taking place across the weekend, from Anna Von Hausswolff (already mentioned), Colin Stetson, Oxbow, Melt Banana, Pigs x7, Zu, Ghold, Conny Prantera alongside The Seer, Lone Taxidermist’s Trifle, Snapped Ankles, Mothwasp, Richard Dawson, Princesa Nokia, Algorave and a specially commissioned performances, which will come from Nicholas Bullen, founding member of Napalm Death. Bullen will present a project called “Universal Detention Centre”, which ties into the 30year anniversary of Napalm Death pivotal release, Scum. A very special Nawa Recordings record label showcase is also on the menu, presenting four of their artists, curated by label owner and multi-instrumentalist
Khyam Allami. Having released critically acclaimed albums by Maurice Louca, Alif, The Dwarfs of East Agouza and Allami’s soundtrack to Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid’s award winning debut feature film As I Open My Eyes, the label brings its newest artists to the UK in an eclectic quadruple-bill. Khyam shall curate a striking array of Nawa artists during the Sunday afternoon of the 2017 edition of Supersonic Festival, in celebration of the festival’s longstanding relationship with the musician and label owner. All of the handpicked artists hone in on their own musical influences–spanning rock, psychedelia, gritty percussion, avant-garde, jazz, electronica – all are united by their exploration of genre-defying, improvisation-based craftwork that hail from the Arab world.
NOS PRIMAVERA SOUND 8-10 JUNE (PORTO) - PORTUGAL FEATURING: BON IVER, DEATH GRIPS, RUN THE JEWELS, AGAINST ME!, SWANS, ANGEL OLSEN, POND, NIKKI LANE, MITSKI, JULIEN BAKER, THE BLACK ANGELS, ROYAL TRUX, JUSTICE, TEENAGE FANCLUB, ELZA SOARES, SHELLAC, TEENAGE FANCLUB, CIGARETTES AFTER SEX AND MUCH MORE...
nce again NOS Primavera Sound is back to the sunny and always beautiful city of Porto. The festival will be headlined by Bon Iver who will showcase the tracks from his latest work, 22, A Million, alongside the British and legendary electronica wizard Aphex Twin, the experimental punk/noise/ rap terrorists Death Grips, the folk pop of the amazing Angel Olsen, Run The Jewels, one of the most relevant duos of today’s music, and French duo Justice, premiering the recent Woman in Portugal. The line-up for NOS Primavera Sound 2017 brings some of the fundamental and important names of current music. From the avant-garde sound of Flying Lotus, Scottish post-rockers Teenage Fanclub, the nasty and audacious grime of Skepta, Hamilton Leithauser’s (ex-Walkmen) brings his solo adventure to the stage and Australian psychedelic music done by two of their
most important representatives: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard and Pond. Once again diversity is the law, with several musical foundations which include less usual sounds. From to the bubble gum outlaw country of Nikki Lane, the immersive and heart-stopping cinematic indie rock of Jeremy Jay or Cigarettes After Sex to the from the indie-folk of Mitski, Julien Baker or Weyes Blood, the experimentalist apocalypse by Swans, the maestros of psych The Black Angels, the return of the legendary Royal Trux, ambassadors of noise rock Shellac, the punk of Against Me!, and even the queen of samba Elza Soares. National proposals are headed by the union of two heavyweight names: Rodrigo Leão (Madredeus) with Australian Scott Matthews, who will be presenting their joint record. Joining them are the fuzz-infused rock of Evols, the post-rock of First Breath After Coma and the Portuguese-rooted music of Samuel Úria.
2016 saw Rebellion Festival celebrate its 20th year alongside the 40th anniversary of punk with a spectacular sold-out event. Over four days at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, iconic bands from every aspect of punk across the world shared stages with new and emerging talent. And Rebellion 2017 already looks set to be no different. Returning to Winter Gardens in Blackpool from the 3rd to the 6th of August, the line-up is already shaping up to be another punk genre defining event. Rebellion 2017 sees new ground-breaking bands such as Kent duo Slaves, Evil Blizzard and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes rubbing shoulders with a legendary line-up that includes the likes of Bad Religion, The Skids, DOA, Alternative TV, Neville Staples Band, Good Riddance, Scream (who once featured Dave Grohl), Toyah, Richie Ramone, Pennywise, Leftover Crack, Ruts DC and much more. Montréal’s 375th anniversary, MUTEK moves its dates to the end of the Summer, August 22-27, and mobilizes its international connections to host four days of programming dedicated to the cultural metropolis of London, Mexico City, Barcelona and Berlin — exploring the contemporaneous and multi-disciplinary cultural and artistic links between Montréal and these global capitals. “This project offers an opening on the world, providing a seductive portal for visitors. The Society of the 375th Anniversary of Montréal appreciates this type of initiative, which demonstrates once again, that Montrealers value international perspectives and culture and are very much inspired by global connections.” Alain Gignac, Director of the Celebrations of the 375th Anniversary of Montréal. Riot Fest will return to Chicago’s Douglas Park this September and organizers have revealed more than 70 artists, including all three headliners, that will take part in this year’s festivities. Nine Inch Nails will headline the Friday date (Sept. 15), with Queens of the Stone Age atop the Saturday (Sept. 16) bill and an exclusive reunion of punk legends Jawbreaker closing out the festival on Sunday (Sept. 17). Other specialty performances during the weekend include a 40th anniversary set by punk hardcore icons Bad Brains and a DJ set from Beastie Boys’ Mike D. This first announcement also unveiled the likes of Prophets of Rage, Taking Back Sunday, Ministry, Dinosaur Jr., Pennywise, X, Dead Cross, GWAR, Andrew W.K., Buzzcocks, Fishbone, Four Year Strong, New Order, Paramore, M.I.A., Wu-Tang Clan, Gogol Bordello, Vic Mensa, Dirty Heads, TV on the Radio, Death From Above 1979, Action Bronson, Fidlar, Peaches, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Cribs and many more...
YOUR NEW FAVOURITE BAND!
There aren’t many bands out there that will catch your attention in a heartbeat as soon as you listen to their music Brutus’ debut album Burst will definitely have that effect on you - their intensity, ferocity and tenacity are just exceptional. We caught up with drummer/singer Stefanie to find out more about the band and the trio’s great fir Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Eva Vlonk
irst of all, please tell us about yourselves and how you started Brutus. We are Brutus, a three-piece Belgian rock band. Stijn and I played together in a punk rock band for several years when we were young. We always said that after that band would come to an end, and when we grew older, we would start a new band together. And then, about ten years later,
we started playing again together and we asked Peter to join us, who I’d met in another band - Refused Party Program. The three of you have very different music influences, so how’s it like the writing sessions between you? Like any band the writing process can go really fast at times, but then other times really slow with endless discussion. It’s a combination of influences, opinions, favourite genres, song structures, progressions... But we always try to work, search, discuss, and find a combination that works for the three of us. We are
kind of obligated to do that because we are also really good friends. Something really rad about Brutus is having an awesome singing drummer. Stefanie, how do you handle both things in Brutus? I don’t handle it, I just go through it. In the beginning I just did what I thought was right. But now, after two years, I am taking vocal lessons and I’ve quit smoking. I never thought I would be doing that. When I don’t sing everything, like during a rehearsal, it is okay. But when I sing everything and play the drums it’s
INTRODUCING // BRUTUS we had pre-production, we made all the final decisions. From that point we could start focussing on rehearsing the new songs. “Drive” is such a powerful and brilliant song. Please tell us the story behind it. The lyrics of “Drive” were already, for the most part, written, and had been for a few years. With Brutus I felt like they finally fitted. It’s a straightforward rock song, the ideal drive track. I wanted the verses to be lyrically dark, but not slow. The transition between the verse and the chorus is something odd. I wanted to make a transition that sounded like a drum falling down the stairs, and it also had to sound a bit too rushed. The entire bridge is just chords, chords, chords. Nothing riff based and I like it that way. “Drive”, for me it is a solid rock song. You went to Vancouver, Canada to record your album with Jesse Gander. How was your experience over there? It was great. From the first day until the last one. Jesse is an amazingly talented engineer and a great guy. The studio itself was amazing. Damn, just thinking about it makes me wanna go back. We had the best time. What did you love the most about Vancouver and what did that bring to the whole vibe of the album? What I loved the most was just the entire atmosphere there. The way the studio sounded, smelled and looked. The places we picked up cheap food and ate it outside on the streets. The people we got to meet. I think you feel it in the album. It was just the three of us with no distraction, doing what we had to do. If we would have called the album Rain City instead of Burst, I could understand.
SOUNDS LIKE: REFUSED OATHBREAKER TOUCHÉ AMORÉ
rst LP. pretty tiring and much more demanding. What do you love the most: singing or playing drums? Playing drums! Stefanie, your lyrics are just fueled with intensity and in-depth emotions that really strike us. How do you approach your lyrics, and what inspires you the most? What inspires me the most are day-to-day things. Stuff I go through, stuff a close friend goes through. Stijn also wrote the lyrics of “Bird” and I wrote the lyrics with
Peter for “Child”. But for me, anyone in Brutus can write lyrics. I don’t mind singing other’s feelings or thoughts if I can relate to them. Your debut album, Burst, is literally a sharp burst of an album. How was the whole creative and writing process for it? We had fifteen songs to choose from, and eleven songs made the record. The writing process was really intense. I’ve never written a full album before. Sometimes it went really fast, and then sometimes songs could lay for three months on the table, to argue about, but I am really glad that when
What was the toughest thing about working on this album that was important in the final result? For me, the vocals. I had to work really hard to, one - make vocal parts; two judge them as if they were not mine, and three - be a singer. The whole album was a wakeup call for me that I am the singer. Not only the drummer. What’s next for you guys in 2017? We have a decent show list at the moment! So, to play as much as possible and be better at what we do! To get to see all these different places through our music is so great and I am really thankful. How’s Belgium’s music scene nowadays? Could you recommend us any new bands coming from there? I love the Belgian scene. Bands I highly recommend are Raketkanon, Steak Number Eight, Oathbreaker, The Guru Guru, El Yunque and Kapitan Korsakov. Just to name a few. What have you been listening to non-stop lately? Marriages and Guidance from Russian Circles.
BURST ARRIVES ON MAY 12 VIA SARGENT HOUSE/HASSLE RECORDS musicandriots.com
SOUNDS LIKE: PALEHOUND VERUCA SALT TACOCAT
WHERE: Nashville (USA) WHO: Jenna Moynihan, Jenna Mitchell, Emily Maxwell RELEASE: Deep Dream (Out May 19th via Infinity Cat Recordings)
addy Issues are a three-piece band from Nashville, TN, consisting of guitarist/singer Jenna Moynihan, bassist Jenna Mitchell, and drummer Emily Maxwell. The way they started the band was quite effortless. One day, Jenna saw the phrase “Daddy Issues” written on a bathroom wall of a now-defunct Nashville DIY venue. She thought it was the name of an all-girl punk outfit sure to become her next favourite band, but when she found out that there was no band with that name she decided with the rest of the girls to teach themselves how to play music and start their own band. Combining a great and refreshing sound palette that goes from the 80’s alternative, 90’s grunge to 00’s pop, Daddy Issues’s music mainly touches upon the difficulties of friendship, heartbreak, mental health, sexual assault and a number of other issues that are part and parcel of growing up in the modern world. They go deep into what really matters to them and that reflects on those who relate to that. Daddy Issues are now about to release their full-length vinyl debut, Deep Dream, out May 19th via Infinity Cat Recordings. For this release, the trio worked with producer and label owner Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, Colleen Green).
FOTOCRIME SOUNDS LIKE: INVSN BEASTMILK THE CURE
WHERE: Kentucky (USA) WHO: Ryan Patterson RELEASE: Always Hell EP (Out on May 12th)
fter spending over a decade as the singer-guitarist of Coliseum, Ryan Patterson decided to go solo and start his own project, Fotocrime. “From its themes to its composition, Fotocrime’s aim is to forge a connection between the shadows,” Pattern says. “The underbelly of the mid-century American Dream, the ghostly corners of post-war Europe, and the time in which I exist and am creating at this moment.” Spending most of 2016 in a window-less home studio writing his new music, Ryan pushed himself into uncharted creative territory that led him to the self-released debut 7” EP, Always Hell. “I’m driven to make music, to write, to use my voice, to challenge myself and constantly evolve creatively,” Ryan says. “Starting Fotocrime wasn’t as much a decision as a compulsion, an exciting and frightening new story.” Always Hell is filled with addictive dark synth-driven melodies and with unique guitar work.
WE’RE NEW HERE, PLEASED TO MEET YOU
SOUNDS LIKE: ALVVAYS FEAR OF MEN LA LUZ
WHERE: San Francisco (USA) WHO: Sab Mai, Marisa Saunders, Nat Lee, Harrison Spencer, James Shi RELEASE: “Mind Fields” single (Out now on Topshelf Records)
o Vacation started as a dorm-room duo in early 2015 by frontwoman Sabrina Mai, but quickly evolved into a band as Marisa Saunders and Nat Lee joined the mix. Afterwards Harrison Spencer joined them and then they spent some time in a studio to record their release Summer Break Mixtape. Following a year of anticipation, shows under various names, and a few line-up changes, James solidified officially the group. Musically, No Vacation combines nostalgic and dreamy pop with subtle surf-rock tunes, all sounds so effortless and addictive. “Mind Fields” is their most recent single, released via Topshelf Records, and offers a taste of how their upcoming effort will sound, which is set for release in June 2017.
L.A. WITCH SOUNDS LIKE: DILLY DALLY NIRVANA BLEACHED
WHERE: Los Angeles (USA) WHO: Sade Sanchez, Irita Pai, Ellie English RELEASE: Drive Your Car 7”
eeting through mutual friends in 2011 and wanting to form a band, L.A. Witch are a trio consisting of Sade Sanchez (guitar/vocals), Ellie English (drums) and Irita Pai (bass). They describe their sound as “Reverb-soaked punked-out rock” and that definitely sums up what they are about, but there’s a lot more to take away from their music. They create a unique mixture of psychedelic punk rock, dark blues and a lot of reverb. Vocalist Sade Sanchez’s haunting vocals is the perfect input to this raw and dark listening experience. Drive Your Car 7” is L.A. Witch’s most recent release that created more buzz around these girls. It features sharp and contagious tunes that leads us to bands like Velvet Underground and Nirvana. The trio has already announced that they will release their first full-length album later in 2017, which will be out on their new label home at Suicide Squeeze Records. musicandriots.com
DREAMY & CATHARTIC
SOUNDS LIKE: LA SERA BEVERLY SEAPONY
No Thank You started as Kaytee Della Monica‘s solo project, but soon became a trio with two of her former bandmates, Nick Holdorf (In the Pines) and Evan Bernard (The Superweaks) joining in. In her songs, she deals with personal and relatable themes, but with dreamy and beautiful melodies. They have just released their debut album, Jump Ship, and we chatted with Kaytee about her new band. Words: Andreia Alves
ell us what led you to start this new project, No Thank You. I had been working on these and other songs for a while and wanted to make a complete record of the ones I liked the best. My friends encouraged me to flesh out the songs full band and actually do it. Where did your band’s name come from? It’s just a name I had in the back of my head for a long time. Every time I told anyone that’s what I wanted to name my band they would tell me “Oh, that suits you very well.” It’s just a phrase that embodies my personality pretty well, I think. Nick Holdorf and Evan Bernard joined forces with you in this new project. How long have you all known each other? We all grew up in North Jersey and met between high school and college. 10+ years on these relationships. What is the songwriting and dynamic like between you three? Jump Ship was mostly just me writing. Evan wrote the drum parts with me before nick was in the band. But we’ve been working
on some new stuff and it’s way more rewarding for me to work with not only my close friends but people I consider to be extremely talented and intelligent. I generally write the basics of the song, guitar and vocal melodies. I bring it to the guys at practice and we figure out together what to do. I am obsessed with nick’s drumming style and am so excited to write new songs with him. Evan is a giant step up from me as far as bass goes, also. They generally know what vibe I’m going for and actually blow me away every time we write stuff together.
Ending relationships with lovers and friends, drug abuse, rediscovering myself, moving on, forgiving myself. What are your expectations for 2017? Hopefully people enjoy our record, we’d love to tour a bit more too. We’re working on a new album right now, so hopefully getting that finished.
While working on this new project, what were your musical or non-musical references? My biggest music reference for Jump Ship was probably des ark. Aimée Argote’s songs are really important to me, both lyrically and musically. Tiger’s Jaw was another big reference.
Video and music always had a strong influence in your artistic endeavors. Are you planning on exploring more visual artwork within this band and other outlets? I would like to. I haven’t done it much in my recent past, been distracted by other things. But I think it would be really fun. I made the Jump Ship record art and I’m sure I’ll make the next one. It would be fun to do more video work, maybe even have some projected work at our shows or something. No real plans yet, though.
Jump Ship is your debut album and it’s a short yet quite addictive and dreamy effort. What was it like to work on this album? Cathartic. I needed to get to a new chapter in my life, and this record helped me end the previous one. Turns out the next chapter was even worse though. Writing and working on music is the best therapy for me right now.
What records or bands are you into lately? I am notoriously bad at listening to current music, but the things I’ve been listening to most recently are Pedro The Lion’s Control, That Dog.’s Retreat From The Sun, Rainer Maria’s A Better Version Of Me and the classic Dashboard Confessional’s Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most.
What drove you the most to write the lyrical content for Jump Ship?
JUMP SHIP IS OUT NOW VIA LAME-O RECORDS
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Change doesn’t always mean progress but that’s not the case when it comes to MINUS THE BEAR. They are living proof that change can bring about positive changes. VOIDS is their sixth album during their 15 year-long career. Cory Murchy shares with us how the changes affected the band and why VOIDS is a really important album to them.
What was it like working with Kiefer for VOIDS? He was great because he was open to new and different ideas and styles. He was open to take direction and suggestions from people, which benefited the whole process because when you go to record everyone has a feeling of how they want things to go or they have certain feelings of like “This should be this way and that should be that way.” Working with a producer and especially a new producer for us and someone as talented as Sam Bell [producer]... the reason why you hire someone like that is to take some suggestion and to take some criticism and to take some ideas and make them work. I think that was a big change, just being able to work with Sam and to be able to kind of have faith and trust in his visions as well, to kind of jump outside of our skin and to be able to look in from the other side. I think it’s a very important thing. With Kiefer, it was great. There were situations where Sam was like “Alright, for this track here’s the kick drum and the standard drum and just play the beat on that, take away all the symbols and we can add those later.” He kind of really forced him to really just get into the meat and potatoes of the rhythm, which I think it was really important and it really let the whole band shine. Different lineup definitely added a different level... it just changed the way of the dynamic
ow does it feel for you guys now that’s been more than 15 years as a band? It’s pretty crazy. We’ve had a lot of time to look back through the last 15 years and kind of take thought of what we were able to accomplished, what went right and what went wrong... It’s pretty cool to think that at least the four of us are still in it and have the desire to keep going with the band and continue to make music. With this new record we all feel really strongly about it. I think it’s just some of the best stuff we’ve ever done, and of course any artist is going to tell you that, but I really do believe it’s a really honest and true representation of who we are as a band. It’s really exciting to be able to continue on and to feel strongly about each other and about what we’re doing, so it’s pretty cool. Your new album is out now, titled VOIDS, and it’s your first album in five years, and it feels like some changes in your life had a huge impact on it. What can you tell me more about those changes and how did that affect the whole album? It definitely changes a lot. We’ve kind of changed up our core of what we were for 10 or 12 years. With any change, it’s gonna be a little bit of reassessing what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and who we are as people. I think it allowed us time to kind of reflect who we were personally and what we were doing and as well as a group. It just allowed us time to realize that we have something special. The four of us really love each other and we’re brothers at this point, for better or for worse. [laughs] And because we know that, we’re able to work through things. This last summer I think we really worked through a lot just personally and in our band, and even just in our own lives. It’s pretty exciting to have a new record and to be able to stand behind it with so much conviction. Erin Tate (former Minus The Bear drummer) left the band in 2015 and then Kiefer Matthias took his place. How was that change for the band? It’s constantly changing. I think at the end of the day the core of the band - the four of us - been kind of leading the charge. Dave Knudson [guitarist], Jake Snider [singer, guitarist], Alex Rose [keyboards] and myself are Minus The Bear. We’ve put enough time to be able to say that with confidence, like we are as the band. Kiefer did an amazing job on the recording. His contribution was much appreciated.
Words: Andreia Alves /
INTERVIEW // MINUS THE BEAR and the way we worked. I think been able to pick people’s suggestions and everyone kind of listening to each other as opposed to just being so precious with their parts. I think it was really instrumental in the writing of things... It’s a hard thing to write and record music because you do get really attached to certain things for whatever reason, like the ego or whatever, but it’s equally important to become detached and accepting, at least be able to try things. I think that was the biggest change that we were willing to try and that kind of changed the whole field. How different was making VOIDS compared with your previous albums? Musical wise, VOIDS is quite moody and dark, but also with really danceable and inventive rock tunes. What were your main inspirations while writing these new tunes? I think as far as the lyrics are written by Jake and Alex and they really take care of that. But if I can speak for them, they’re able to look out into the world and see what’s going on and as artists they’re able to reinterpret and show what they see and how they’re feeling about things. They do a really great job. Jake has a really great ability to write little narratives and the same with Alex, they’re both really strong writers and they see the
ENGING, & DARK
// Photo: Shervin Lainez
world in a different way. They’re able to get that out, which is great. It would be impossible to not be affected by what’s going on in the world, politically and socially. There’s a lot going on and it’s pretty impossible to ignore that. With that said, there is hope and there are still good things out there in the world. There are glimmers of light and there is strength out there as well. It can be challenging both ways, because both are important to recognize and to kind of understand things. With everything shitty that’s going on our world, what are your thoughts about Donald Trump being the President of United States? It’s pretty surreal, but the thing is... I’m a big fan of history and how it kind of informs the present and the future. It’s important to understand that while we’ve never maybe seen someone exactly like Donald Trump, we had humanity seen horrible situations arise and I think the problem that we allow ourselves to get in is a place of complacency. It’s easier to sit on your couch and look at the news and see what’s going on across an ocean or across the border and kind of think like “That’s not what I have to deal with, so I’m not gonna deal with it.” We’ve been kind of load of complacency and we didn’t think it could ever happened to us and history shows time and time again that’s just not human nature. This stuff comes in cycles and we’re in another cycle. I’ve never thought I would see it, but I understand that even myself, a student of history, here we are again. It’s not the last time that people have to rise up and fight for what they believe in and it’s not gonna be the last. But, the amazing part in being a student of history is that we can do this, you know? We are stronger united and sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in order to make a change and that’s what we’re dealing with right now. It’s time to stop complaining and time to start being who you really believe in and making the change. Change begins with end, I truly believe on that. While it’s really scary and terrifying what’s happening today and tomorrow, there’s a future where we can get through this and we will. We have to! [laughs] Back again to your new album, is there a special meaning behind the name VOIDS? Through the summer, we worked through a lot of stuff and there was a lot of loss within the band... Changing a founding member and dealing with things in our lives like there were a lot of voids. The album is about us working on those voids and realizing that no one is going to fill up the voids for you. You have to do it on your own and you can’t blame anybody else for your voids, you can’t pass the buck on your own voids. You have to really cease it and decide whether you’re gonna be filling those voids or emptying your soul out even more. I think for all of us the album was a very cathartic process. There were moments where all of us were like “This is it! Maybe this is the end of the band. Maybe we won’t get this thing finished.” But we all kind of had to go to that place in order to fully realize that this is bigger than us and we want to continue doing this. I think the name is very fitting for us and there were voids that we needed to fill. Why did you decide to go back to your original label home, Suicide Squeeze, for this album? Because we realized that we shouldn’t never left. [laughs] I mean, I can say that now but we needed to change and try something different. We’re glad that we did, but at the end of the day Suicide Squeeze has just always been 100% behind us. David Dickenson is really just a standout human most and foremost and he also runs a very honest, non-bullshit record label and that’s so refreshing. Being 15 years in, you meet a lot of weird characters filling you with a lot of hot air and frankly David Dickenson is been the one guy that that’s not what he is about. He just wants to put out good records and do everything he can for them. His word is gold. It’s awesome to be back home. He took a chance on us when we were just starting out and we have a lot to really thank him for. The fact that he’s stuck with us through all these years is just incredible. We love him.
VOIDS IS OUT NOW VIA SUICIDE SQUEEZE RECORDS musicandriots.com
AN EXCITING N
During their sixth album, Los Campesinos! found themselves working relentlessly on everything surrounding the band and the outcome could not be better, as Sick Scenes is a brilliant milestone in their career. Vocalist Gareth's lyrical content is sharper than ever and we had the opportunity to catch up with him about this new album, how it was like to record it in Fridao (Portugal), and much more.
NEW CHAPTER Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Owen Richards
t’s been four years since you released your previous album, No Blues. What have you been up to since then? Nothing, unfortunately. It was a difficult time... I still think that No Blues is my favorite record we’ve done, but it was a time where the record label that we were working with at the time kind of didn’t really want to work, like they weren’t interested in working with us anymore, so I think as a result the album was released and then disappeared. It was a time where we all got proper jobs because we weren’t touring enough to justify. We didn’t have as much money in the band as we had previously and so we had to get proper jobs. As a result, we didn’t fall out of love with being in the band but it just seemed like a really difficult thing to be doing at that point because we were all sort of... When No Blues came out, we were all in our late 20s and that’s not an old age, but we were aware that we had to think about real life responsibilities like thinking about what our careers would be because we knew that we would never gonna be a full time band again... People trying to get mortgages, thinking about starting families and things like that... So, it was a really tough couple of years where we weren’t seeing as much of each other as we would like, and then I don’t know what really sparked it, but at the start of the last year we were just like “Fuck it! Nobody else is going to make this happen for us, so we just have to make it happen for ourselves.” Tom [guitarist] is a musician outside Los Campesinos! as well. He tours with the band Perfume Genius, he plays guitar for him. He had sort of a break from his touring and he just started writing and sending me through what he had written and I loved it. I was really excited by it. We knew if a record label wasn’t going to pay for us to write a record and record an album, then we had to do it ourselves. We raised the money. We made some Los Campesinos! football shirts. Yeah, the one with “DOOMED” emblazoned on the front. Just really awesome. Yeah, thanks! I really love them, I’m honestly as proud of them as I am proud of any record we’ve made. [laughs] We thought we would might sell 100. We sold 1000 in a week and then suddenly we could afford to make another album. We thought “Alright, let’s do it!” Being self-managed in everything has been amazing, knowing that we completely shape everything that we want to do. We can do whatever we want. Doing everything on your own terms must be really amazing. For this album you had really put a lot of effort and focus. How did you approach the whole process for this album? Tom set the writing. It felt the most like writing our first album, because we went into it with the sense of we don’t know what’s gonna happen with this, we just had to make the most of it and do the best we can. The album was written without any
real sense of self-consciousness or anything. Tom’s approach to writing the music was probably a bit different because we was on tour a lot with Perfume Genius, so he happened sort of record bits when we could and get ideas. Unfortunately, my approach to writing was exactly the same as always, which is I don’t write any lyrics until I get into the studio. I had the demos that Tom recorded for months in advance so I could listen to them and think about writing, but then I don’t write anything. I just get to the studio on the first day of recording and I’m like “Oh shit! I got 31 days to write 11 songs worth of lyrics.” I put myself under complete unnecessary stress, but that’s how it has been since our second album and it kind of work. I try to write before we go to the studio. I’ll go to a coffee shop or to a bar and take a notepad and a pen and listen to the demos and try to write things, but I just get embarrassed. I don’t think of myself as a musician or an artist or a writer in any way at all, so when I try to do that I just feel silly and then when I’m in the studio is like “I have to do it. This is very much what I’m here to do.” [laughs] In those days you stressed a lot, but the lyrics are just amazing and I read that you describe the central theme of Sick Scenes as, “being older but perhaps being more clueless than ever before.” Can you elaborate more on that? I’m 31 now... This last decade of being in a band - which has been amazing, I wouldn’t change that for the world, get to write and tour with my best mates - but I think all through my 20s, especially the early 20s, I’ve always been aware that being in a band is not something that I can do forever and I need to have a career as well. I need to have a job and have something that I can do to pay bills and stuff, but through my 20s I always thought “Oh it’s fine, I’ll sort myself out.” Suffering from depression and mental health all through my 20s, I felt that when you get older you think that’s fine, that depression is something that you feel when you’re younger and going through changes, but then on my early 30s I still suffer with mental health and I still more than ever. I don’t know what I’m meant to be doing with my life. At the moment I’m busy because I’m managing the band, which at the moment is taking up a lot of time because the album is coming out, a lot of interviews to do, the touring plans and that stuff. But then, once this stage is gone, I’m back to being like “What do I do now?” and I got no idea. I think that’s something that a lot of people around my age feel because they have might gone to the university, got a degree and you go to a university with the promise of you get your degree, you get a job and you’ll be sorted. I think that 80% of the people who comes through can’t get a job and have no idea of what you really want to be doing with your life... That’s how I feel and I think that one of the strengths of our band over the past decade is being very honest, because I have always written very honestly and openly, our audience is really connected with it and gets a lot of the album. I think with each record that comes out a lot of our fanbase feel the same things that I’m feeling and I’m writing about and that makes it a really strong and special connection. That sentiment is sort of throughout the album, that sense of
confusion, a lack of certainty and just big question mark of “What am I meant to do?”, “How am meant to spend the next years of my life?” I’m very lucky because my problems are very much in perspective, I’m a white male who’s got all the privileges that anyone could want for and so my problems are nothing comparing to problems experienced by a huge amount of people. But, for myself personally, there still is that struggle and that sort of turmoil of “How am I meant to live my life?” How much the Brexit and the election of Donald Trump did influence the working process for Sick Scenes? I didn’t necessarily want it to and I didn’t intend for it to, but then it was a really weird situation being in Fridao so isolated from anything really and especially with everything that was going on at our home. We obviously were following the news, but right before until the day I think everybody thought that it would be ok that we would vote to stay and then watching the votes coming in like 3am or whatever on the day after the election, it became apparent that it hadn’t come how we hoped for whatever reason. It was like a really reality check and it was a weird experience because I found myself so glad to be away from home, to be detached and to be able to control how much I was seeing in terms of I wasn’t walking down the street and seeing people talking about it and stuff like that because I was just away, but I also felt a real sense of guilt like “I should be there. Why am I over here when things are so shitty at home? I should be back there and experience it with people.” Because I was still writing lyrics at the time, it inevitably influenced my mood and the lyrics. I think the song on the record most powerful is “The Fall of Home”, which I wrote at 4am while watching the results coming in and seeing people’s reaction to that like my Facebook friends or people I follow on Twitter and stuff like that. That song was really influenced by that and the songs “A Slow, Slow Death” and “5 Flucloxacillin” as well. I didn’t want it to be, but because I’ve always written honestly and by myself and about what I’m experiencing, I couldn’t help it. I always want to write honestly and that’s my one rule that I have. Sick Scenes was co-produced by John Goodmanson and Tom [Bromley], during Euro 2016 in Fridao, Portugal. How was it like to work with him? It was amazing. This is the fifth album we did with John, he has been with us since the second one, and so this album and No Blues John and Tom co-produced them because Tom’s ability as a producer has just grown so much and he is incredible. He has learnt so much from John, but John is a brilliant guy and somebody that when we’re in the studio we very much consider as a part of the band. It’s always been an honour to work with him and to have the opportunity to record with the same guy that produced such amazing records was brilliant and that novelty has never worn off. I think he really helped own our sound and how we wanted to be in the studio to a point of where is incredibly easy recording with him. We all know what each other is like and that really comes across in our sound now.
INTERVIEW // LOS CAMPESINOS!
"I think that one of the strengths of our band over the past decade is being very honest, because I have always written very honestly and openly, our audience is really connected with it and gets a lot of the album." The first song you unveiled off the album was “I Broke Up In Amarante”. What can you tell me about the story behind that song? Firstly, I am aware I pronounce Amarante incorrectly. [laughs] That was written as a sort of suggestion... I was struggling quite a lot with my mental health while I was over there. I think as result of being such an isolated place and not really having access to a lot of the things that I’m used to having at home for myself caring and to just keep myself content, it was a struggle because it was so hot and I don’t cope well with warm weather at all - I’m very pale and ginger and it just doesn’t work with me. Within the first week, I was in a pretty bad place, just not copping and not very happy at all, so that song is basically mentioning that very literally. I mean, there’s places references within Fridao. There’s the Campo Do Fridao which is an old football ground that is no longer in
used, but I’m a huge football fan and that was a place where I would go and sit just to sort of be somewhere that I felt comfortable, just looking at pictures and imagining people playing and that was where I got a lot of comfort from. And the day drinking, a million bottles of Super Bock and Sagres. [laughs] It’s a song about the days in Amarante and that feeling of unraveling, but I think the really paid off in that song is as it gets to the end when I’m so sick and low and I ask for the rest of the band to join in with me and then they come in the big last chorus. I think that’s ultimately what did help me cope in that situation. Being around them was a way to make myself feel better. Overall, how would you define this album at this point of your career? It’s probably the most rewarding album for us to make because we’ve done it all on our own and that’s been huge for us
and I think that we are very aware by now that every record that we do could be our last. Not that we want it, but as long as people don’t want to hear it anymore then there’s no point for us on making records because they only justified for people to listen to them and so we went into this record wanting to put our all into it, wanting to give a full spectrum of ideas and songs which I think we achieved. I’m really happy by how we did that, so I think that the fact that this record has given us the opportunity to go back and tour the USA again is huge for us, such a milestone for us to be able to go back and to do that again. This album existing has given us the opportunity to do things that we definitely wanted to do, at least once more and there will be more opportunities as well, but I’m very grateful to this record for that.
SICK SCENES IS OUT NOW VIA WICHITA RECORDINGS musicandriots.com
Thom Wasluck is the sole architect behind the strikingly beautiful, deeply doom-ridden music of Planning For Burial. For over a decade, he has been releasing material that explores the shadowy, grey areas of life through an often droning, always innovatively dark filter. Below the House explores a varying forest of sounds that range from grating metal to ambient noise that reflect the ups and downs of his own life. We talked to Wasluck about the sonic range of his new record, his penchant for gloom and his most essential gear.
I don’t want to say the word “pop”, because it’s not pop, but it’s a song that you could sing along to. What inspired that sound? Again, it comes down to, in 2015 or so, I was just really bored with all the songs I was playing from Desideratum and I just wanted to do something different live that felt a little more like a song and got to get a little more upbeat. A lot of it stems from wanting to make my live show more interesting for myself to play, because the songs from Desideratum I was playing for years before I even recorded them.
hiskey and Wine” is completely different than anything else on the record, especially vocally. What about that song made it so much heavier? I think at the time when I actually wrote it, musically I was really bored with my live show and I wanted to do something a little different and do something that was a little more exciting for me to play live. I think that’s where it came from originally. What’s funny is that I haven’t played that song live in a long time now. So it isn’t a new song for this album--it was a live song that you recorded? Yes and no. All of the songs on the album I’ve been playing for a while already, it’s just that I kind of road test things all the time. Then, a few tracks later, “Warmth Of You” goes off into an upbeat direction.
Where Quietly was on the slower, more somber side throughout, this record has a good balance of alt-rock and gloomy soundscapes. When you were recording, did you have any intentions for the overall sound of this album? No. When I’m usually writing a record I’m not actually writing a record. It’s just kind of me working on songs and then, as things start coming together, you know, when songs start getting kind of close, then I start planning, like, “How does this song go into this one?” I start forming stuff after I have songs already written. There was a bunch of stuff I wrote and recorded from the record that I just ended up not finishing or not using. It’s more just piecing songs together and not trying to write a huge story. Right. It’s piecing songs. There are older songs that use the same lyrics and stuff, but I decided I didn’t like those songs, but I like a lyric so I use that with something else and vice versa. What is it about brooding, droning sounds that arise a lot in your music that attracts you to them? I would say it’s almost a like a meditation type of thing. It’s like when monks are chanting and stuff--it’s because they get locked in that rhythm and it becomes a meditation. I think that’s why I like using a lot of looping and stuff that does that. You get locked into it. Your lyrics tend to be on the darker side and, seemingly, very personal. How do you transfer the emotion of your lyrics into the instrumentals? Hmm, that’s a good one. I don’t spend as much time on the lyrics as I do other things, so sometimes I think maybe the
instrumentals, a lot of times, come first. I’ll be working on something in a room or something, just looping something at a part or I’ll have a pretty basic structure down to work on and I just kind of start singing some words and going from there. Whatever comes to me. Having released so much music over the years, how do you keep yourself from being repetitive and doing things that you’ve already done? Man, these are good. [laughs] It is something I worry about often. I’ll catch myself doing some things and I’ll be like, “Aw, I kind of did this on this track already.” I guess knowing I might be doing it helps me change things up. I try to go back and forth some times between the more quieter stuff and the more droning, gloom stuff. I think that’s why, you even said, that “Warmth Of You” is probably the most pop-y song I’ve done. I’m trying to do things all the time that make me happy at least. If it’s something I feel like I’ve done too many times structurally, I’ll just abandon it. I won’t work on it. Do you think your location change had any effect on your music? Yeah, I think I have more time to spend on it now. When I was living in Jersey, I had my own life there and everything. I had my friends, I used to go do things all the time and moving back where I grew up... I don’t keep in contact with anybody I really knew back then and I don’t really talk to any of the people I work with so I’m just home all the time. Do you think that made this album better? Did it give you more time to go in detail and work? Yeah, and I like to tell a lot of people I feel like I just kind of puked up Desideratum. I’d just record the songs, didn’t do much editing or much production work to them. But that’s fine. It’s a very clear statement of my life at the time, which is it felt kind of like a wreck, whereas this one I decided to be a little more meticulous and work on the production. What piece of gear on your pedalboard is the most essential to you? I would say the Big Muff. It’s just my overdriven sound. I get a long sustain from it. I own a couple of them just because if any of them break I’ll have extras. I’m starting to get a little nuts now with gear where I will start buying doubles of things. Sitting in the basement like, “Oh, this is a double of this pedal or a double of this amp just in case!” You have a few shows planned for this year, but I assume you’re going to do a tour behind this album, right? Right now, I would like to, but it’s really hard to plan my future the way my work is. The plan is to keep doing stuff around the Northeast when I can and I have an idea for four days out west again in May and then I’m finally going to go back to Europe. I think I’m really going to just push towards Europe this year.
BELOW THE HOUSE IS OUT NOW VIA THE FLENSER
INTERVIEW // PLANNING FOR BURIAL
BENEATH THE BURIAL Words: Teddie Taylor
In the scary times that we live in as a society, there are still artists that standout for their bravery and integrity. Artists like Alynda Segarra - the woman behind Hurray for the Riff Raff - create art that speaks for all of us. The Navigator is her brand new album and it couldn't be more suitable to what we see and feel nowadays. Alynda shared with us her thoughts about the current situation in the USA and across the globe, and what really inspired her for this new effort. 40
ELEGANT AND UTTERLY ESSENTIAL Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Sarrah Danziger
ow’s 2017 starting
for you so far? The year has been crazy... It’s very crazy here for many reasons but I’m very excited about the record and I’m very excited to tour behind it. Just excited for it to come out too. Before we talk about your new album, I want to mention “Be My Baby” cover you did as part of an Amazon Music Originals playlist series for Valentines Day. I’ve always loved that song and I simply love the way you play and sing it. What’s so special about that song for you to cover it? It reminds me of my childhood because my family grew up in that era and I grew up listening to the music of that time period. I’ve always felt very inspired by that, essentially by the singing from that time period. It was so pure in a way and very soulful. Also I just love girls groups and the fashion of that musicandriots.com
time period. It’s such a beautiful song. Everyone all over the world loves that song. The Navigator is your new effort in 3 years and it’s just so accurate to our current reality. The whole vibe and themes you approach are so raw and sharp. What can you tell me about the meaning behind The Navigator? I was very inspired by Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie.I really wanted to write this album with a story behind it. It wasn’t a musical but yet it was a story that went along with the songs. It can give the listener just some fun journey to go on that you can listen to the album and be like “There’s a story behind it.” There’s a character, there are locations. It was very fun for me to dream up this story, but also because I really wanted to have a message that would be inspiring and empowering to people. I wanted to create a heroin! I kind of wanted to make this superhero that was just a regular girl from the city who’s a teenager and who feels like she needs to escape and she needs to run away. She feels like she needs to escape from where she comes from. The story is that she goes to a wise woman and says “I want to wake up tomorrow and not recognize anything around me.” And so the woman puts her to sleep for 40 years and she wakes up and she still is in the same city, but all of her people are gone. All of her people have been pushed away outside of the city and she needs to find them and she needs to bring with her the memories of the past. She needs to remind them what they contributed to society. I think that’s a very important concept to put out right now. This idea of contribution from women, people of color are very often erased and it keeps us from being proud and to make us feel like we’ve never done anything, and that’s important. The role of “The Navigator” - the character - is that she brings with her this idea of can’t know where you’re going, and so she’s coming and she’s bringing all these memories to her people. I think that’s a very important process right now and it made me go on my own journey of trying to think of “Why was I so ashamed of who I was when I was a little girl? Why did I feel like I had to run away from everything I knew?” A lot of it was me healing those wounds and researching about Puerto Rico history, culture and all the contributions that we made. It was really an amazing experience for me. Your music speaks up for a lot of subjects and issues that everyone can relate to, and you always speak your mind, no matter what. How do you see and feel about the world and our society right now? I’m definitely very afraid... I’ve been very scared, but I also feel like when you’re scared is when you can be brave and it’s when you have to really stay strong and remember what you stand for. I think it’s very sad that right now to stand for equality, justice and love is radical. I think it should be normal to stand for those things. I’ve just been trying to stay strong in what I believe in and to continue doing my work, even though I’m worried about what is happening to my country and I’m very much worried about the idea that it
gives to the rest of the world, you know? I really want to be an American who is outspoken to say “We do not agree with this and we’re doing everything we can to believe in justice and freedom for all and believe in peace and good relations with the rest of the world.” It’s definitely a very trying time and I think that we really need to stick together. I think there needs to be an international effort to stick together. I think my generation all over the world believes in the same ideal and I think that’s really beautiful. With that energy, we can really change the course of history. In one way or another, all songs that comprise The Navigator feel like a call or push for people to keep fighting for what’s right and moving forward despite all. “Rican Beach” was the first song you wrote for your new album and I just love this line you sing “Now all the politicians / They just squawk their mouths / They say ‘We’ll build a wall to keep them out’”. What did you have in mind while writing this song? Obviously, it was coming from the campaign that was happening at the time for the now current president. But I really wanted to put out this idea that says “Why now the world is them and is us?” and very soon once you allow that is became you, you know? This idea of it’s far away from you now, but soon if you allow it, you’ll be the person who to walk off and where does it end when you’re using a whole group and a whole country of people, especially as being a Puerto Rican person I feel very personally affected when you’re going against what my administration is going against Mexican people... I think Mexican culture is so beautiful and I think Mexican people in the United States have kept the country going for a very long time. I really wanted to personalize that and to remind people how it can be you next. The title-track is so powerful and it has these amazing Latin rhythms. Tell me more about the story behind this song. This character Navita Milagros Negrón is just like your average teenager girl. She’s rebellious and she is wandering around, going to parties and being like a bad girl, and that’s what a lot of the first part of the album is about, which is about her going out with her friends, living in the city... You don’t have the feeling that she’s very angsty, like myself at that age. She just wants to escape. Nothing is going to change that girl going into the navigator. It’s kind of a musical journey of her going into this change; the transformation where she asks a wise woman “I want to wake up tomorrow and I don’t want to recognize anyone or anything around me. I want to get out of here.” And so she goes to sleep for so long. “The Navigator” is this song about what’s going through her mind as she is asleep. It’s kind of a song of ancestors of her people are singing to her while she’s under this spell. They’re saying like “You have been chosen to lead this people. You have been chosen to go to the future and ask these questions like ‘Where all my people are gonna go? Where are you gonna send them? What’s the plan here?’” to brain with her all the memories of what they have accomplished. That’s what that song really
represents in the story, which is this major shift and the transformation, like the metamorphosis of her. From the average teenager girl to suddenly becoming kind of a superhero. You have recently released the video for the song “Hungry Ghost” and it was filmed in New Orleans and pays tribute to safe venues and parties offering sanctuary for the LGBTQ community. How did you come up with the concept for the video and how was it like to shoot that video? It was really fun. We filmed that in New Orleans. I have so many amazing experiences growing up going to parties and DIY shows, underground where it was very intentional this idea of “We’re gonna make that happen where women are safe, queer people are safe, people of color are safe...” This idea of coming together with the intention of dancing and celebrating life and being very united. I had a lot of revelations in those bases. I had times where I felt like “I can dance and no creepy guy is going to grab me” and that’s a liberating feeling, you know? To feel safe like that. But sadly, these places are under attack right now and I wanted to get together with some beautiful people from New Orleans to make the video celebrating our lives together and celebrating us when we are safe and to enjoy life, and that’s very important right now. There’s a lot of pressure for us to become really depressing and hopeless, and I think when we come together we’re joyous and it really gives us strength. The Navigator was produced by Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Devendra Banhart) and recorded at Electric Lady Studios in NYC and Panoramic House in California. How was the whole recording experience for The Navigator? It was very challenging in a good way. I feel like it changed me forever. Paul was very good at pushing me because I was doing things before that I felt that were safe. It made me really force myself to believe in myself and to think that I could sing better and to think that I could open up, because in the past I was protecting myself and I was very closed and Paul really pushed me to open myself and to put out a lot of the emotions and a lot of anger that I had been building and to turn it into power and into energy that was positive. He was like my Yoda. [laughs] Despite everything that’s going on right in our world, what are you looking forward the most for 2017? Talking to you is an example of I want to become more of a global band. I really want to tour the world, I would love to meet people from places that are very different from me and learn from them. I really hope we could do that and I just want to connect with people from all over the world who believe in the same things we believe in and just try to create something positive.
THE NAVIGATOR IS OUT NOW VIA ATO RECORDS
INTERVIEW // HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF
"There's a lot of pressure for us to become really depressing and hopeless, and I think when we come together we're joyous and it really gives us strength." musicandriots.com
GOLDFRAPP, the band consisting of Alison Goldfrapp
and Will Gregory, have recently released their seventh studio album. The follow up to their 2013’s album, Tale of Us, and their 2014’s score for a production of Medea at the National Theatre, brings the trademark mindset that made the band so loved and celebrated. That mindset that translates into the unbreakable will to not repeat themselves and the recent Silver Eye album were some of the topics of our conversation with Will Gregory.
remember reading an interview where you seemed really happy with Tales of Us, not only with the end result but also because you were kind of free of all the imposed schedules, the constant pressure from others. You even considered it to be a “new start”, something I thought to be extremely healthy, especially for a band like Goldfrapp that has been doing it for some time and has been successful in appealing to a more mainstream audience. With the perspective of time, how do you feel about that freedom and the new start now that you’ve a follow-up to Tale of Us? Yeah, that was a good moment. I mean, it shouldn’t affect you but it does. We were with EMI and they had very different idea, I think, about who we were and what they wanted us to be. They kept rushing us, “Oh, this album needs to come out now. You wait any longer and your album is going to come out with all our other releases.” That’s not my business, we’re just trying to make music. [laughs] It was really good when that came to an end. We’re just back with Mute, and Daniel Miller very brilliantly kind of got his company back. It’s been more sane but obviously we’ve come to this album with a very new agenda. Musi cally we wanted to do something differentthan Tale of Us. But yeah, we were allowed to take as longer as we like. Alison said, “We like the spontaneity of not knowing. It’s only through the process that we start to figure out what it is.” So, you like to work with a certain level of uncertainty. Do you think the way you approach the unknown has changed or even improved after seven years? I think the unknown has become less scary, on the one hand. I think you get used to the idea that you don’t know and you’ll get lost. After a while of being lost you… It’s
still kind of stressful and worrying, but at the same time I think we’re getting used to that. But maybe, on one hand, is more familiar. On the other hand it’s also difficult because the more you write, the more music you produce, It feels like you have really to push your hands into the bag to find something. Quite often you pull things out and you go, “Oh no, we’ve done that already.” [laughs] Even if things are different, there are some things that you can approach in the same old way. Do you have the concern to not use an approach that you’ve used in the past? Well, I think improvisation is how we really get to where we want to go, generally speaking. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you wake up with a dream of an idea in your head. Or sometimes you hear something new and you go, “I can see that as something that we could take and make our own, or develop.” Or sometimes you think, “That’s so wrong that it has given me a vision to what could be right.” All those things, but usually the only way to really come up with things is just to make sounds and play around. Because in your mind, just talking, it can usually get you nowhere. [laughs] At some point you have to stop talking and start making sounds, and then when you do that then you have something at least to look at. Something to listen to and say, “Oh my god, that’s terrible. We got to come up with something new.” I’m sure that, very often, it’s the same with everybody. When you come back you kind of forget to how to do the writing and it seems like you have to write a loads of rubbish, for some weeks or months, before you get to something that you like. The process, in a way, it’s always been the same. Trying and dig around to see what comes out, and be open minded. Sometimes something terrible comes out and then the week after you go take another listen and you think, “Oh, actually there’s something in there.” One thing is, we’re very luck with Alison because she has so many different voices inside her. There’s a lot of places that she likes to go, or that she can go. I mean, that’s what is in common with everything that we do, the fact that Alison is singing. I think
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INTERVIEW // GOLDFRAPP
“I think improvisation is how we really get to where we want to go, generally speaking. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you wake up with a dream of an idea in your head.” beyond that everything is up to grabs and we’re lucky maybe because our second album was so different from our first that it seems we are allowed to go anywhere we want. I’m sure some people would like to do that. Talking about new things, Goldfrapp provided music for Carrie Cracknell’s that was at the National Theatre in London. How did this opportunity come about? Did working on the music for Medea end up shaping in any way the new album? We were just asked. I suppose Carrie just got in touch with our management to ask if we would be interested in writing for a new production they were doing at the National Theatre, and I think she’s somebody attentive to music, that likes music, and realizes how important it can be in making drama. I guess we’ve always been very into drama ourselves, in film or whatever it is that is dramatic. It’s been part of our language, maybe. Yeah, she was the one that instigated that. What was the experience and process like? I imagine it to be a little bit different from creating music for a Goldfrapp album? Yeah, it is different because you’ve got storyboard… On the other hand, it was liberating. Because we were working on a Greek tragedy that had a chorus we were allowed to help cast the chorus. We were invited to audition everybody that was going to be in the chorus because they all had to have a voice, a singing voice if you like, and we were able in choosing the kind of voices that we wanted to write for. So, that was a stepping away into another dimension but kind of liberating. I mean, it’s kind of liberating sometimes to not have to be thinking about the whole album creative process. I think we really liked that, and also it was great to be amongst a bunch of actors who had this completely different process to get where they wanted to get. Although it did involve a lot of improvisation. But it was just fun to be out in the rehearsal room with loads of different people and creativity. So, that was really nice. I’m interested in knowing how your creative relation with Alison is and how that relation has evolved throughout the years. In your case, do you end up being influenced by Alison’s lyrical work when working on the music or does that comes later? Well, it tends to come later but it doesn’t always. I mean, I love it when she starts to put some words in because that’s what she always does – write all the words. With this album, I think a lot of the cases the words came later. But obviously I love it when she… Sometimes when we are improvising words will come out and they stay. For example, “Ocean”, the last song on the new album, that vocal that you
hear pretty much happened immediately through improvisation. She improvised that and it was done in one take. Even though she wanted to change the vocals, in the end the sound was so perfect that we just didn’t – I think just one line got changed. That was great because it had a kind of atmosphere already and it was clear what that was about. I love it when they come early on because it gives me a kind of sense of direction to the drama, who’s the person is that’s singing, what their angle is, what their problem is, etc. [laughs] But in other cases it feels like you know what already. The words just come streaming together and the meaning is already there or crystalized. Can you recall the starting point to this new album? The moment where you sort of realized that you were onto something? Well, it comes in bits and pieces. The first track that we kind of liked and we would be working on was “Tigerman” and that happened in the first sort of three months, I suppose, of work. And then nothing happened for ages after that. Then I think the next thing we got that we really liked was “Ocean”, but “Ocean” didn’t seem connected to “Tigerman” or anything. Some of them that ended up making it they got put in a kind of a purgatory, not knowing what they are. Once we got “Anymore” we sort of thought, “Oh, that’s a good connection.” And then really in a short amount of time the rest of the album came together. You’re right though, it’s very important to know what you’re doing. The longer you don’t know the harder it is. But I think with “Anymore” we kind of thought that it could be a sort of spokesperson for the rest of the album. Listening to the album it’s very clear, at least to me, that there’s this hypnotic nature to it. I was wondering if you had to shorten some of the tracks because some of them seem like they could go on and on for a very long time. [laughs] Yeah, I think probably some of them did. That’s always something that’s good trying to find. Something that you can repeat that’s simple without getting annoyed, or bored with it. I think that’s really a lovely thing if you can get there. That you can put something on a loop and just go off into a day and be happy with it going round and round. If you could do that then you now you got something!
SILVER EYE IS OUT NOW VIA MUTE RECORDS musicandriots.com
T N I , C I T O N HYP
y v a e h & E S N E T The Black Angels have been a major highlight in the contemporary psych scene. In fact, they are one the most refreshing psych bands around. Theyâ€™ve always excelled at catching peopleâ€™s attention but their most recent album, Death Song, is way more than just a cool collection of songs with delicious, weird, and heavy sounds. A record about America, a record about the human race and probably their most accomplished work, sonically but most importantly lyrically. Frontman Alex Maas was kind enough to talk us about the amazing Death Song. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Alexandra Valenti
our new album was written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle. I imagine that sort of environment ends up influencing what you do, even if not consciously. Have you found that to be true with Death Song? Yeah. I was speaking on this earlier, but yeah I think whether you’ve meant to or not, whether it is consciously or subconsciously, things come out in our art… lyrically it has been seemingly a snapshot of how we see the world, our how I see it. You know, the world from our view. Talking about how the environment can influence and impact creation… The colours on the cover seem to come from a very deliberate choice. I think Christian [Bland, guitar/organ] would probably explain it better, but… yeah, red, white, and blue. [laughs] To me it looks like an old bubble gum. Obviously it’s the colours of our flag. Our records are always pretty deliberate with the colours and the graphics. Christian designs the records. He makes great artwork. I really like what he does. Would it be fair to say that this record is about America? I think that is fair. I never thought about that specifically but I think that’s a fair assessment of the greed, and pollution in the current state of where we are now in America. It’s kind of twisted. There’s a big knot and no one seems to know how to untie the knot or even where to begin. There’s no bi-party communication between the parties and the government, and communications between couples. Real relationships are screwy… I would say, yeah it’s a reflection of how we see America. I read that you had forty songs to choose from for this album. I’m interested in knowing how the selection process is and how it has changed throughout the years for The Black Angels? It’s very democratic now. We vote on everything kind of – what song should be on the record, what’s the coolest sounding fuzz, etc. It always comes down to majority decision. We’ve always tried to have that as a basis for our band, where everybody is heard and everybody gets a chance to say what they think or what they feel about the record. That hasn’t change a whole lot, if anything it has strengthen in recent years. As we are getting older and better at communicating with each other, I think we are better at communicating how we feel about a record, song, or idea. Are you considering the possibility to release a double album in the future? I mean, you write so much material on a regular basis. We considered making a double album for this one but then we just decided not to. Again, that went back to what people… if that would be beneficial to our band or not. Would people get it or would it be more chaotic and all over the place? Could we
release twenty songs or would it be more digestible a small amount of songs so that people can look at and grasp? Only time will tell if it was or not the right move, but I still stand behind the decision. Is it true that Tim Putnam, one of the owners of Partisan Records, pushed you lyrically? Yeah. We’ve bounced ideas off of each other and we both kind of realized that this record definitely had to be an important record for us and for people who care about where the world is going. I thought it to be curious because people tend to be sensitive about that sort of things, especially with lyrics. Oh, for sure. Definitely! That definitely happens and I don’t know if I could have that conversation eight years ago. But again, I’m more open minded and hopefully a better communicator than I was back then. [laughs] For me lyrics are always the hard part. Melodies and the sounds are the easy things to do. It’s easy to create noise but the actual lyrical content, for me, has always been more challenging and more difficult. It was good to have someone else, with an outside perspective, to bounce ideas with. Are “Currency” and “I’d Kill For Her” about two different things? Yeah, I think they are about two different things. I listen to this record and I see this threads that are similar through each song. Whether is about relationships, trust, love, and how those are occurring with our relationships with ourselves and our governments, and how it communicates with people. There are a lot of threads that weave this record together, I feel, and make songs completely different from each other from one perspective and from other perspective they might seem similar to something else. I was asking it because it’s funny how these two could easily be about the same subject. Yeah, they could. And they probably are… and again, they could be about something entirely different. I think in terms of writing it’s interesting to write in double speak or triple speak when something means more than one or two things. To intentionally do that is very difficult but sometimes you do it without knowing it. I couldn’t help asking, there’s a lot of death and brutality on your lyrics. Did you notice that when you were writing the lyrics? I do to a certain degree. There’s a lot death and mortality in everyday life, so I don’t know which I see more. I see more life than I see death, but they are equal and they surround us all the time. They’re both unique in their own way, they’re both powerful things life and death. I see as much life as death in the record. Not to be super cliché, yin and yang, but I think it’s kind of hard to see one and not see the other. I think it’s ok to talk about death just as it is ok to talk about life. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m a broken-down, hopeless individual. Most of times we sing about these things that we don’t understand or we’re trying to understand. I think that’s what we do in music.
“There are a lot of th completely different they might seem sim I have to say, I admire your courage for writing the “Comanche Moon” lyrics. Where that does come from? What made you want to tackle that particular subject? I think we’ve always been infatuated with Native American culture, the western expansion, and Native American music in particular and how they tell stories. And how they tell stories from generation to generation. Where you go to get water, how you should treat your neighbours, and all these simple songs that were used to teach and educate. In the Native American they would write something called a “Death Song” in times of fear, terror, and tyranny. They would be encouraged to chant these songs as they become scared. These songs helped some of these tribes to get through hard times. That’s kind of how I look at this record. Me speaking on a culture I’m apart of is risky because I don’t know exactly what they think but I’m also able to speak from the other perspective and say how wrong these people were treated, I can empathize with people. Music can break those lines where everybody can empathize and speak on a topic they were not 100% involved in.
INTERVIEW // THE BLACK ANGELS
hreads that weave this record together, I feel, and make songs t from each other from one perspective and from other perspective milar to something else.” I’ve been thinking a lot about how Americans having this tendency to ignore and actively forget the past in relation with the natives, which I tend to believe it makes the problems with xenophobia and patriotism grow stronger. You’re right. When you forget history, where you come from, and how you got to where you are, and how your country got to where it is… it can be dangerous. It does create this weird patriotism that’s almost false in a way. But patriotism can be a good thing, obviously. It can, but most of the times patriotism is used for evil and not for good. To be honest what some people call patriotism, it’s not even patriotism. We should we invent another word for it because patriotism doesn’t mean that you have to love your country and hate everyone else. That’s not patriotism. Exactly. That’s the problem. We see that in America, obviously. That same patriotism is what led us to where we are now, today, with our current leader. Your debut album, Passover, is eleven years old. Two more years to become a
teenager and kick your ass. You did some shows to celebrate Passover’s tenth anniversary. How did it feel to enter in “retrospect mode”, sort of speak? Wow, that’s crazy. It made me feel old. [laughs] I was like, “Wow, I can’t believe ten years have gone by.” It’s just interesting to see how quickly time goes. It was fun to play the entire record, like we did back in the day. And we would do it again with any record. I like when certain festivals curate their sets or their bands and they ask them to play records from their back catalogues. The experience, I think it’s as interesting for the artist as it is for the people hearing it, because you’re reliving those things that you went through and you can even remember when you were when you felt those things. It’s very interesting. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Death Song seems to mark the first time you’ve worked with Phil Ek. How was that experience like and how does it compare with past experiences (John Congleton, Dave Sardy, and Erik Wofford)? It was great. The experience was incredible. He has so much more
experience than us – he’s been making records for 27 years. To be able to go into the studio with somebody with that amount of experience, you’re just trying to soak up as much knowledge as you can. It was interesting to see him work and to see his methods. Not every single one of his methods align with ours but that’s the whole point of making music, is about open communication and trying new ideas… hopefully they listen to you and try your ideas. [laughs] Most of the songs were kind of structurally already in place before we went into the studio with Phil, but obviously things change and evolve when you’re in the studio. But I just really love how he approached getting the right take, the right performance. It was so interesting to see someone that has so much patience to go through something like 20 takes of a specific guitar solo… as us talking it through with him. We would discuss every little detail. Those conversations were really fun to have.
DEATH SONG IS OUT NOW VIA PARTISAN RECORDS musicandriots.com
E S N E S W E AN Dylan Baldi always showed that he knew what he was doing with Cloud Nothings. The Cleveland-based four-piece have been, from record to record, raising the bar. Almost three years ago they released their first truly impressive effort Here and Nowhere Else. But nothing could have prepared us for the boldness of Life Without Sound, a record that presents a band that is fully in tune with its identity. Baldiâ€™s lyrical abilities, their massive newly-found sound, and their songwriting chops, were some of the topics of a nice and relaxed conversation.
Y T I R A L C F O E Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Jesse Lirola
ou said, “A thing I like to do with all of my records is drive around with them. In high school, I would listen to music for hours like that: just driving through the suburbs of Cleveland. And if it sounds good to me in that context and I can think of high school me listening to it and saying, ‘That’s okay,’ I feel good about the record. This is the one that’s felt best.” The first question is: how does that, let’s call it process, work? You write an entire album and then you go for a “test drive”? Kind of. Whenever we finish a record and it’s all done, usually I will listen to it in the car driving around where I grew up just because it’s something I used to do all the time with other music that I liked a lot. It was kind of the main way I listen to stuff when I was a kid. I would just buy CDs, put them in the car, and drive around once I got my driver’s license. Because there’s not a whole lot… there’s just not much else to do in Cleveland when you’re a kid. [laughs] I liked to listen to my stuff in that way just because it brings back some funny memories. What happens if you are not convinced after listening to it for hours? Do you work on what you have or is there the possibility of starting everything again from scratch? You know, luckily I’ve been happy with everything, so we never had a problem. If we made a record that I didn’t like, I guess we would probably have to do it again. If I’m not mistaken – and please correct me if I’m wrong – you guys worked as a power-trio for something like three years. What made you return to the four-piece format? Well, we were going to be a four-piece for [2014’s] Here and Nowhere Else also but then I just made a bunch and we played them as a three-piece and we didn’t do the four-piece things. [laughs] I don’t even know why. So, for this record I wanted to have two guitars on every song, just because I like that kind of interplay. I like when there’s more than one guitar, I think it makes things more interesting and kind of cool and fun to listen to. You’ve confessed that there was a pressure to perform better going into Here and Nowhere Else. Did you feel the same kind of pressure with Life Without Sound or any other kind of pressure? There’s always internal pressure for me that I want every record to be like just bigger and better than the last one, and I want every song to be better… I just want to improve, all the time. I’m not interested in doing the same thing twice or repeating ourselves. I just want to do something new and different with every record. So, that’s the only kind of pressure that I ever really feel. People always ask if there’s outside pressure, if I feel like the pressure from the fans or whatever. I don’t really think about that. I just think about pleasing myself. [laughs]
As the press release states, “While (…) 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else came together spontaneously, in the little time that touring allowed, Life Without Sound took shape under far less frenetic circumstances.” How was to go back to a more “relaxed” creative process? It was nice. It wasn’t even more relaxed. We worked a lot on it over the course… At first it was relaxed, I guess. I spent basically a year writing this record. So, every day I would make part of a song and that would be what I did that day. That was like, “Oh, today I made this part of this song,” and then I would think about it all day and change it around all day, and just do that for months, basically, until I had those nine songs. Then we spent a couple months practicing together as a band for like ten, sometimes longer hours a day, in a tiny little practice room. Just playing these songs and trying them to sound… good. [laughs] Because the first time we play stuff it never sounds good. So yeah, we just spent a huge amount of time working on this. I actually do much prefer that method. When we were to record Here and Nowhere Else we barely even knew the songs. I think some of the songs we really didn’t even know. We just sort played them and went, “Well, hope it sounds alright. I’m not really sure.” [laughs] Did the process with your previous album made you appreciate more the kind of process you used on your new record? Yeah, I think so. Here and Nowhere Else and all we did around then… everything was just really frantic. There was no time to really stop and think about what was happening. We were always sort of moving and always going. I don’t like living that way. I like having some time to myself, I like being home, and I like having my friends. So, it’s nice to have that time off where we can just focus on one thing and take it a little easier and not really always be moving. I don’t know how we did that. You’ve worked with Steve Albini on 2012’s Attack on Memory, John Congleton on Here and Nowhere Else, and John Goodmanson (Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie) on this new album. How has it been working with all these different producers and what did Goodmanson bring to the table? I just always want to do a record with somebody different every time we make a record just because it’s fun. It’s fun to have a totally new experience every time you do it. Goodmanson, I feel like he was the most… I don’t want to say professional, but he definitely had work on bigger records than some of the other people we’ve work with. He has a style that sounds a little bigger, a little more polished. That’s what he does, and he wanted to add all sorts of effects on things for the record but we wouldn’t let him do. We ended up with what we have now, which I do like a lot. It’s kind of a good mix between the full-extent of what he wanted to do and the kind of bare bones style we usually have. “I don’t really care about the lyrics, for the most part, within the context of our music,” you’ve said once. Has that changed at all? Yeah, that definitely changed on this
“I’m not interested in doing the same thing twice or repeating ourselves. I just want to do something new and different with every record.”
INTERVIEW // CLOUD NOTHINGS
record, I would say. Really because I had more time to think about it. And also, I think about other band’s lyrics, like if a band make records with stupid lyrics then I don’t like it, and I just thought, “I should probably pay attention to our lyrics if I care about other people’s lyrics.” With this one I spent a lot more time kind of reworking and rewriting, and just making things as good as they could be in the time that we had. It’s just kind of being ok with whatever you are given. Or being comfortable and more confident than just being alive and dealing with things you have to deal with. So yeah, it’s about the future in a way but it’s more about making peace with the future rather than trying to figure it out. On “Darkened Rings” you seem to be trying to explain how you perceive your own life. Yeah, I would say so. That’s a song about being depressed, which I certainly… It’s not anymore, not to the same extent, but I definitely was a pretty sad guy for a while. Did that change of state of mind affect the record?
Yeah, definitely. The record is kind of about changing that state of mind. That state of mind is not sustainable. You can’t live that way or you will go completely insane. You’ll be crazy. [laughs] It’s a record about coming to terms with that. My mom told me she related to that song, which made me go, “Are you ok, mom?” [laughs] You’ve been working to evolve and feel more comfortable vocally since day one. How would you describe the experience, regarding your voice, with this new album? I try to sing better on every record just because… like the way I play guitar. I’m happy with that I think I’m good with guitar, so that’s fine. But singing, I just never really thought I was good at. It’s always been kind of tough for me to record and hear my own voice. I don’t like hearing myself sing, so every time we make a record I try to just sing in a way that is easier for me to listen to, every time we do it. So that’s what I did. Especially with this one, we were recording and I had no idea that Goodmanson was going to make it sound so big. So, I was there to record vocals and I had the headphones on listening
to it and thought, “This record sounds huge. If I don’t sing well, it’s just going to sound stupid.” [laughs] Yeah, I had to force myself to sort of… almost play a character and just sing better. What did you want to convey with the title Life Without Sound? It’s kind of a weird… It’s a title that I chose without really thinking about it. It’s kind of a lyric from “Things Are Right With You” and it’s mostly because I always like the titles of the records to be lyrics that kind of encapsulate the theme of the whole record and also that are lyrics in a song. I don’t want to name the record with just one of the song’s name. Out of all the lyrics and all the songs those three words kind of stuck together the best and also seems like a good way to describe how I was feeling writing the record. I don’t really have an exact reason for why I chose it. Right now it’s just because it sounds good and I think in a year or something I’ll have thought about it enough where I can go, “That’s why I chose that.”
LIFE WITHOUT SOUND IS OUT NOW VIA CARPARK RECORDS musicandriots.com
BLEAK, LIGH & PAINFUL 54
You can have an opinion or even a preconceived idea of the man. What you can’t do is point your finger without listening to what the man has to say. Father John Misty, or Josh Tillman, went deep on his new album, Pure Comedy, and at the end of the journey there’s an important piece for these troubled times – hopefully we’ll take advantage from our ability to breathe in 2017 to appreciate what is looking, from up close, a brutally and gutting masterpiece. We talked about how important is to point the finger at yourself, how love can truly save the world, and how the man you probably view as a “troll, meme, sarcastic asshole, etc.” has feelings too.
HTHEARTED L HONEST Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Guy Lowndes
ou have summarized your work as Josh Tillman by saying, “there was one theme that ran throughout all of it. Mom doesn’t love me and God isn’t real after all. I had like an agenda, this weird vendetta that wasn’t nourishing my life in any way.” How were you able to puzzle everything together and come out on the other side? That’s a very… I mean, I think you hear the attempt to do that in my music, and I’m not sure you really ever come on the other side. I had a pretty formative psychedelic experience five or six years ago, when I had a very simple thought: I should just be myself. I think that was kind of the… The light at the end of the tunnel? Yeah, something like that. Last year someone asked you what had changed from the music you were doing before, to the music you were doing around the time of I Love You, Honeybear. You said that it was “humour, spontaneity, and more value placed on the seemingly mundane.” Do you think that has changed a little bit with Pure Comedy? Yeah, well… This album, a lot of it has to do with absurdity. I think of this album has being sort of a love letter to humanity, in that when you fall in love with someone you fall in love with the parts of them that are broken, or bored, or scared, or absurd. If you look at it from the right angle, I do think it’s a very funny album. Even though is dealing with seemingly kind of heavy topics. My sense of humour is definitely still there. I think that a lot of the topics on this record are things that I’ve tried to address countless times through my work but I think the difference with this one is that it just really sounds like it’s coming from my kind of conversational voice. You were talking about this record having a sense of humour. It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the way you apply it is different. Before it felt a bit like a defense mechanism and now it doesn’t feel like you are using it in that particular way, if you know what I mean? Yeah. No, it’s very open and I think the fact that I really do include myself in kind of the whole mess… if I was defensive about it, it would be all about pointing my finger to other people. I’m really writing… In a strange way it is a very personal album. It’s about people but you can’t talk about people without talking about yourself. Yeah, more often than not you are pointing the finger at yourself. How did that start? I mean, it can be scary to say, “I’m to blame too.” The things that scary you are usually the things that are the most worth writing about. Would you say your goal, or at least the thing you look for as a creative mind and someone that expresses himself constantly, has changed since the inception of Father John Misty? Yeah, it is just way more vulnerable. It doesn’t cloak kind of abstract poetry and it’s a lot more easy to understand. You don’t have to sit around interpreting poetry. I think my music now is very direct and… there is a bit of a risk in that,
INTERVIEW // FATHER JOHN MISTY you know? I mean, if you sing just kind of beautiful flowery lyrics than you can’t quite make sense of what they mean then you can interpret them to mean anything you want. This album has really… it definitely has pissed some people off and any time you are direct, and you speak clearly, you run the risk of kind of inviting people to just understand what you mean. Because they’re not always going to agree with what you have to say. Correct me if I’m wrong, before you started writing Pure Comedy from what I understand you did quit drugs, drinking, and even smoking. Were you looking for some kind of clarity of mind? Perhaps to be as sharp as possible when analysing what was around you? Was that a conscious effort from your part? Yeah, it was. It’s not easy, you know? There’s a lot on this album, semantically about the ways in which we numb our experience and numb our consciousness. I think we do that in a million different ways. You can do it with entertainment, you can do it with drugs, you can basically do it with anything. I don’t know, I think that’s kind of an important theme that runs through the album. Why do we hate being humans so much? We’re constantly looking for ways to dull the experience of being alive. I was reading your explanation of the new album where you talk about that escapism and you were also talking about the food chain. It made me think about a great Louis C.K. bit where he notes that the human race are no longer in the food chain. While every other animal needs to worry if it will be killed in the next hour or not, humans have, for the most part, no longer that concern. We have great expectations of dying old. That’s maybe why we are so into escapism. We no longer need to be concerned about surviving. That’s no longer our main concern. You know what I mean? Yeah, because we’re free to sit around and contemplate the meaning of life and that… [laughs] makes people pretty miserable.
“I think the biggest realization that I had was that love really is survival. That love is the essence of survival and if we don’t love each other we die.” musicandriots.com
There’s this dichotomy where there’s basically art, culture, poetry, romance, beauty… all of that comes from this state where we are free to sit around and contemplate our own existence, but at the same time that’s where all the depression, boredom, violence, and evil comes from too. You start off the record reminding us that when we are born we are pretty defenseless and we need the kindness from others to be able to survive. It’s so interesting because it seems that we forget, as we get older, that the same kindness that saved us when we were defenseless as babies is the same kindness that we need to have to the able to survive as a species. Was that a big realization of yours that kind of helped shape the rest of the album? Because it seems kind of the perfect key note for an album like Pure Comedy. I think the biggest realization that I had was that love really is survival. That love is the essence of survival and if we don’t love each other we die. It’s so easy to think about in these really kind of abstract, divine terms when in fact it is fundamental to our survival. Actually, I think it is way more pragmatic than we think. And perhaps less complex. The complexities of love, that’s something privileged people get to experience. It’s like, “Oh, I gotta find just the right, perfect person to love me in all the right, perfect ways.” [laughs] I mean, the last record I made was all about love but in a very confused, modern, ego-based way. And I think this album is… I continue to explore that idea of love and go deeper and deeper into it, and this is the album that came out of it. There are a handful of tracks on the album that are not about you, in the sense that you’re not exclusively talking about you, or what you feel, or what you’ve experienced. One can even argue that, as the album progresses, you become even more aware that you’re kind of just one in this endless sea of people. Was that liberating in any sort of way? To get out of the micro to take a deeper look at the macro. Yeah, I think so. The tracklisting really is kind of presented chronologically. “Pure Comedy” was the first song that I wrote for the album and “In Twenty Years Or So” was the last song that I wrote for the album. You can really see the progression in terms of this kind of peeling away layers. And even the confusion that goes on on your mind. Yeah, there are different kinds of clarity because there’s a lot of clarity in “Pure Comedy” but it’s kind of all intellectual clarity, you know? And with “In Twenty Years Or So” is very much the clarity of the heart. Would it be fair to assume that on “Leaving LA” you’re confessing, among other things, your will to don’t become what people think of you? To fight for being real and honest, and perhaps destroy “the mask” once it for all? Yeah! [pause] That song was, and is, a kind
“There’s actually something far more heroic about knowing that you’ll never be able to get to the bottom of something but trying anyway, because to try is to be human. It’s not about cracking the code.”
of an attempt to kill the singer-songwriter and to kind of kill a certain mythology around myself. The troll, the meme. I mean, unfortunately that’s the idea that people have about you. [laughs] Yeah, I know. I… [pause] it’s hard, you know? In a lot of ways it’s been very painful to feel that I’ve sort of lost my humanity and now this perception of me that exists on the internet… I look at it and I don’t recognize myself in that. If you look at the perception on the internet all you really see is the way that I feel about… If you were to look at my social media all you can really see is how I felt about social media. [laughs] I just think social media is bullshit and so I treated it like bullshit. But it’s a place where people really expect to see your humanity in that, and I just think it’s a ridiculous expectation that you’re going to really see someone’s true personality, or true soul. It’s so curated and it’s so based in advertisement. It really is lifestyle branding, you know? I do have kind of a mischievous streak, and enjoy like messing with people’s expectations a little bit but… I don’t know, people just took it so seriously and their take is so literal. Such a literal representation of who you are. And I do think that has kind of hurt me, in the long run, because people just assume that whatever they see on there is the whole picture of who you are. So, for a lot of people their whole picture of who I am is this sarcastic, contrarian… troll. But you did quit social media, right? Yeah, but now no matter how
multi-dimensional my music is, or how much compassion, or soul is in my music… They still look at it through the filter of this false image of me that is on the internet. That’s very frustrating. But the thing is: my work is going to last. This ridiculous culture is going to pass away. People are going to look at us a hundred years from now and say, “Oh god, what was wrong with these people?” [laughs] Please correct me if I’m wrong, but somewhere in the middle of Pure Comedy you seem to lose your hope. I mean, the entire record seems that you’re struggling and kind of going back and forth. Yeah, I think that’s kind of what defines my work. All these records ask these really big questions that I’m not qualified to answer. [laughs] On the last record it was kind, “What is love?” and on this record is kind of, “What does it all mean?” I think you can hear someone who wants to ask these big questions but then at the same time is so kind of self-aware, or self-critical that you can hear them, “Oh my god, did I really just ask that question? What am I thinking?” I think that’s really what makes my music sort of unique. Is being willing to ask those questions but at the same time you can hear the sort of audible groan in the music, like, “Oh my god, am I seriously doing this?” [laughs] I think we can hear you second guessing yourself. You seem to have doubts, sometimes you don’t seem to understand, but you’re always trying to move forward. You know what I mean? Right, and that’s why the music really isn’t cynical. People think as me as a cynic, but when confronted with the idea of addressing these big questions a cynical will go, “No one can answer those questions. So, just shut up and fuck it. I’ll have a drink.” But there’s actually something far more heroic about knowing that you’ll never be able to get to the bottom of something but trying anyway, because to try is to be human. It’s not about cracking the code. It’s not sports. You end the record singing repeatedly “there’s nothing to fear,” in a way that is extremely hard to describe with words. Would you agree that that moment is probably one of the most cathartic moments you’ve ever had on tape? Yeah, it’s a very complicated moment because you can look at that sentiment and say like, “Wow, that is so ignorant. It’s so absurd.” Because your intellect tells you, “No, no. Global warming, class warfare, Donald Trump, etc. We have everything to fear.” But, I think… that song in particular, it’s not about some prophecy, or some speculation, that the world is going to end. It’s that life will always provide moments of fear, there will always be those moments. But these strange little moments – they’re not grand epiphanies, they’re not these “ah ah” moments, they’re not glorious – are small where you are with someone that you love and your second drinks are coming out, your favourite song is on, and they’re very humble moments where all of a sudden everything clicks.
PURE COMEDY IS OUT NOW VIA BELLA UNIION / SUB POP
INTERVIEW // FATHER JOHN MISTY
He was loved as the frontman of Gallows. He was hated for creating music with Pure Love. He kept moving forward. It could be the story of many successful (charts have nothing to do with success when youâ€™re creating art) artists, but weâ€™re here to talk about Frank Carter and the most recent album he released with his amazing band, the Rattlesnakes. Modern Ruin, the album, was just a pretty damn good excuse to talk with one of the most charismatic artists coming out of the contemporary punk scene. Spoiler alert: Carter is still busy with his life and art to give a damn about your hate.
POWERFUL, CHARISMATI & STILL VERY EFFECTIVE Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Bella Howard
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efore talking about this new album I would like to talk about something I believe to be extremely connected. After you left Gallows you started Pure Love, a project that many people had and have a hard time accepting and digesting. Was that an important period to what you’ve been doing to this day? Yeah, definitely. Without Pure Love, The Rattlesnakes wouldn’t exist. Because the important thing about Pure Love is, it taught me how to sing, it taught me how to be a better performer, and it taught me some humility. When I was in Gallows we were at the top of your game. We were playing to three or four thousand people at night and lots more festivals, and really, we didn’t have to work that hard. We just had this great setup and we’d been doing really, really well. When I started Pure Love all of that disappeared, literally overnight. And suddenly I had to kind of find my place in music again and convince people that I was an important performer and singer. Yeah, it definitely made me who I am. Pure Love had more of an effect on me than Gallows did, for sure. Did it help you figure out your own artistic expression and its possible scope? Yeah, it did. What it did to me, like I said… it gave me a real challenge. It made me trying to understand better who I was and what I was about. I think at that point in my life I had never really asked any of those questions. So, it was a really important time for me and I’m really glad that it happened. And in amongst all of that, I actually love that album. I think we wrote some really great songs. It seems important for people to have the knowledge of what Pure Love is if they want to understand what you’re doing. Even if they don’t enjoy Pure Love, you need to pay attention to it to try comprehend a little bit better who’s the artist Frank Carter and what he’s doing. Yeah, exactly. What Pure Love was doing towards the end, it was very much kind of where we picked up with Blossom. We just went a little bit more aggressive in the beginning but… you know what? It’s just the most authentic version of me. Very much this is who I am, the truest version. I feel very happy with it. It feels great. Modern
Ruin is a different album, a different script. Can you pinpoint a moment where Modern Ruin’s shape becomes more palpable and you start to realize its direction and scope? It’s really difficult because in order to do that you are literally talking about weeks in time that were so close together with Blossom. People think that we’ve taken ages to write this album when in actual fact, the reality is that we wrote Blossom in February of 2015, and recorded it, and released it in August, and then we started writing Modern Ruin in September of 2015. Actually, Modern Ruin was finished recording in January of 2016. So, it’s been finished for almost a year now, and it will have been finished exactly a year when we release it. So, to talk about a time when we change direction is really difficult because we didn’t really. As far as I am concerned we didn’t really have a direction to change when we wrote Modern Ruin. We were still kind of trying to find who we were as a band and which kind of way we wanted to go. For us it very much feels like we’re just kind of just doing what we set out to do, which is just experience everything and see what feels right, you know what I mean? Yeah, and I think it’s important to say that even though Modern Ruin is a different kind of album, there’s definitely a connection with Blossom. It’s not like Modern Ruin is an album from a completely different band. No, exactly. It’s definitely all connected and the important thing is that for me this is the most important album of my career because not only does it connects what we’re doing with The Rattlesnakes but also links me to Gallows and to Pure Love, properly. I think that with this album you get the biggest kind of exposure of the spectrum of Frank Carter as the artist, that’s ever been. And the real exciting part is when we get into next year  when we start writing album three, because I’ve never released a third album in a band. [laughs] So, I can’t wait to do it. It will be great. One thing that seems to me pivotal to understand what you’re doing now is the heavy usage of dynamics and contrasts. It feels there’s a concern to reach out to the other side – the soft and the quiet – and find a way to make both sides work in harmony. Is that even close to what you were actually looking for with Modern Ruin? I think that with Modern Ruin I wasn’t looking for anything. It literally just happened. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself as a performer and as a singer. So, to me it was about challenging what I was capable of. And in that respect, that means finding new ways to sing, slowing music down, and having the focus be back on the vocals. More often than not… when you are screaming it’s quite easy to take the focus away from yourself. It comes more about the music and the dynamic of the music. Screaming is very in your face, it’s quite easy for people to not listen to what you are saying. So, with me, I wanted very much to be heard on this album. I wanted people to listen to what I was saying and for it to be heard loud and clear. So yeah, you’re right, to me… My favorite band of all time is Nirvana and I think they’ve just perfectly struck that musicandriots.com
balance of like raw live aggression and then real emotive quieter songs that have the same power, they have the same raw power as the heavy stuff. That to me is the true genius of music, when you have like a song that’s slow and quiet and it has the same amount of power as the fuckin’ punk rock furious song. That to me is good music. How far in the writing process were you before entering the studio? We had the whole album written, pretty much. I think we wrote one song while we were in the studio, which is the song “Real Life”… oh no, actually we wrote two songs. We wrote “Real Life” while we were in the studio and we wrote “Neon Rust” right before we went into the studio to record. Everything else was written beforehand and then we’re kind of feel the album in the studio because we had a new drummer at that point, who’s our drummer at the moment [Gareth Grover]. We needed some time to work with him to figure out how it was going to sound. Was there a lot of experimentation while you were in the studio? There was. There was a lot of experimentation. I’ve always liked to do things quite quickly. I like spontaneity and I don’t want really ever spend too much time on anything, but this is the album where I was there, in the studio, every day. I was there every day for a month listening to tones, listening to sounds, and really just working really hard. Make sure that everything we wanted it to be it was. And it is, for me is like the perfect record. I actually love this record. You said, “I needed to surround myself with musicians that were, by my standard, much better than myself. That meant I felt completely out of my depth.” Were you looking to get uncomfortable sort of speak? I’m always looking to get uncomfortable. I always want to put myself in a position where I don’t feel comfortable because that’s when the most exciting stuff happens. That’s when you give your best performances, when you have your back against the wall. Not completely trapped but feeling that you have to make something good happen. That’s what I was doing with this album. I was making something good happen. Ok, we need to talk about your vocal performance on this album. I think would be fair to say that people can expect the most daring performance from you so far. How much focus was there in evolve as a singer for Modern Ruin? I think that as well. Thank you. Anybody that has heard my previous work, I think is very simple for them, once they hear this album, to hear very clearly how far I’ve come as a singer and as a performer. Because I did things on this album that I’ve never been able to do before and I could only ever dream of doing in the past. It made me feel really powerful, I feel really strong. I listen back to this record and I love everything about it because as a singer I’ve achieved things that I just never thought it would be possible. “Neon Rust”, that’s a really indicator where we can see we going in the future. Really big, epic rock
songs. It was one of the hardest for me to sing, and in the end we did that whole song in one take. I’m really excited to play it live. How did it feel to make what I imagine to be a big stretch? It actually felt like a massive release. To be honest, I was really excited to just kind of let loose, do some things with my voice that I’ve never done before and to me it just felt… the whole thing just felt really exciting. There was no real stress for me, I just was having fun. What impressed me the most was noticing that you were trying a new thing with your voice in every single track on the album. Thank you, man. That makes me really happy because that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I mean, the first song on the album [“Bluebelle”] is so weird because it happens so quickly and it’s gone before you’ve had a chance to digest it. But to me is one of the most important songs on there because I wrote the guitar, I played the guitar, I sang it, and I recorded the whole song. That’s the first song I’ve ever written, and recorded, and played on just me… That’s my very first solo song, and it’s all about my dog. [laughs] For me it’s a really important piece of music, but what it also did was, it presented this really vulnerable state to an album that just gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier throughout the listens. There’s a few moments where it slows in the middle, but that’s to really explode into a bigger end. I appreciate that. I’m glad you think that because that’s exactly what I was going for. That’s so funny hearing you saying that. Here’s what I had for my next question: The opener “Bluebelle” feels very much like a strong statement, extremely filled with intent in setting up the listener to the eleven tracks that are coming. Would it be fair to say so? There you go, man. You know more about my band than I do. Fucking hell. [laughs] I’m really glad that you like the album. For anyone that’s been a fan of me, I think that this album just does so much for me, and for the band, and I think it’s gonna be a really important year for us. But I have to say that even though I very much enjoy the album now, I remember to enjoying it at first. I guess, from my experience, Modern Ruin is the kind of album that requires a little bit more from the listener. It’s like an album that you really need to pay attention in order to enjoy it. Yeah, it does. Definitely. But all of the best ones do, you know? I’m not trying to write pop music. I’m trying to write classic rock music. The first time I listened to Led Zeppelin I didn’t like it, but now they are one of my favorite bands. I want to make sure that what we’re writing is challenging not just for me to make, but for the listener. Ultimately, once you come to it properly that’s when you get that real sense of satisfaction, like you’re into something that nobody can understand. And that’s when things get really exciting. You stated that “Neon Rust” is the best
song you’ve ever written. Obvious question: why? It’s the most challenging to sing, it’s got the most depth to it, it has me at probably my most vulnerable, it’s got me at my most aggressive towards the end. I think is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever written. It’s the first time we wrote in a way… The way the album works is like this: the album is about me, but it’s about this character who – and “Modern Ruin”, the song is really about the end of the world… If you imagine the album as a story, the world ends in “Modern Ruin” and “Neon Rust” is about the afterlife. It’s about our thoughts of heaven and hell, and what it happens ether and we just watch our whole world disappear. And it’s a letter from me to my daughter about how worried I am for her future, and how she is so beautiful, and she doesn’t belong in this shit world that we’ve made for her. I’m like desperate to find a way for her to exist in a better place. That’s what that song is about. For me it’s the best song I’ve ever written because it was the one I cared about the most, so far. And I care about every song I write, but that one I really wanted to get it right, and I think I did. I know you were always a political and social conscious person and artist. “Neon Rust” is about your daughter having to grow up in this shit world. How do you feel about the current states of affairs? I hate it. It’s hard not to be depressed by the things happening here, in the UK. What’s sad about it to me is that actually the things that are finally happening here – the corruption, the greed, the violence – there are things that have been happening in our countries for years, for decades, for hundreds of years. Being British, being from that side of western civilization, we’ve been able to kind of hide ourselves from those facts. And now it has arrived on our doorstep and the shock is too much for us to bear. For me, what I’m trying to do is make sure that I keep my head and I work as hard as I can on my own things, and I’m kind to the people around me, and I’m good to family… If I can do that, I’ll die a happy man. The album was recorded by Thomas Mitchener, the band’s former touring bassist in his own Broadfields Studio. How was the experience to record in a studio of a friend in what I imagine to be the most intimate environment you can have? It is the same studio we recorded Blossom in. How cool is that? And that was the whole point. The whole point of this record was to take a band that have such distinct sound, that was rooted in garage punk and sounded really aggressive and really heavy, go back to the same studio with the same people and record an album that sounded like it was made in a really big space, a really open place with just a lot more focus and consideration. You can hear a lot of elements of Blossom in there, but the album itself is sonically so different from Blossom that I’m also incredibly proud of that. Because it shows how versatile we are as players and that we are good musicians, but also shows how versatile Mitchener is as a producer. He is, in my mind, one of the best producers in the UK.
INTERVIEW // FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES He was the kingpin that really enabled us to explore and enjoy ourselves, and have a lot of fun with what we were doing. Your music is extremely personal and was always influenced by your state of mind at the moment. Can we assume that Frank Carter in 2017 is a much more balanced and focused as a person and as an artist? Definitely. [laughs] 100%. I mean, listening to you talking and listening to the album, it seems that now you’re a person… I wouldn’t say a happy person but an individual that has learned how to deal with life. If you know what I mean. Yeah, I do know what you mean. That’s kind of it. When I was young, when I was in Gallows, I didn’t know how to behave half of the time. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing or the wrong thing, and more often than not I was doing the wrong thing. But now I have a better understanding of it all… I really enjoy my time while I’m making music. That’s something I’ve never been able to do before because I’ve been so stressed about what to say, and how to say it, and if it was going to piss anyone else. Now I just don’t care if I upset people. What I care about is the music that I’m making, and making sure it’s heard a lot.
MODERN RUIN IS OUT NOW VIA INTERNATIONAL DEATH CULT
“Screaming is very in your face, it’s quite easy for people to not listen to what you are saying. So, with me, I wanted very much to be heard on this album.” musicandriots.com
LOVE, DEATH & BLUES 64
Me and That Man, the collaboration between Behemothâ€™s frontman Nergal and leading British/Polish rock musician and producer John Porter, have released last March their debut album, Songs of Love & Death via Cooking Vinyl. We caught up with them in London ahead of their European tour to discuss their creative vision and how their songs express personal experience, defiance and darkness through their own prism. Words: Anastasia Psarra // Photos: Oskar Szramka
ergal, what was it that you wanted to express with Me and That Man that you couldn’t with Behemoth? Nergal: I like the simplicity and the minimalistic means and tools that we’re using in this band. It all comes down to a guy playing the guitar. It’s this and really nothing more than this. There’s no trumpets, there’s no orchestration, there’s no masks, all of this is somewhere else. Here is just two guys playing some dark tunes on their grunge guitars or whatever! That’s what we used to call each other in the very beginning, the grunge brothers. So this is just a stripped down – literally version of yourself? Nergal: Exactly! It’s the other side of the pole that’s how I see it and I did it deliberately and I did it just to clean up my system. Were there any specific themes or personal experiences that inspired you to create Songs of Love & Death? John: Obviously, that’s the whole point of writing songs. Well, there isn’t a point in writing songs. They just come out because you vomit! Nergal: Pretty much, I use the word defecation. Uh, I defecated a song! Maybe it’s not the right word to use in a restaurant where people are eating around us but that’s exactly what it is. You’ve got it in your system and you must get it out, just let it out. Otherwise it’s going to get intoxicating, same with the other stuff! You just spit it out, that’s it! So this is similar to a cathartic process for you? John: It can be, it’s a therapy, isn’t it? Nergal: Remember this song that I wrote in the middle of the night? I was asleep and suddenly seriously there was this song in my head. I remember getting up and thought this sounds good so I will put it down on a tape recorder and the weird thing is that the lyrics can happen at the same time so you can sing it back and see how it sounds, if it’s worth it and it turns out yeah! Back in earlier announcements you had mentioned that the album will be called ‘Love is a Dog From Hell’ but it has been changed to Songs of Love & Death. What prompted that change? Nergal: The label suggested that we change it so we don’t get into any legal problems with the owners of Bukowski’s legacy whatsoever because also on the cover there is the portrait of an old man and originally it was Bukowski’s portrait and they were like, “You know what, it could get ugly if someone smells money there so let’s change it” and I got this title Songs of Love & Death. Actually the original suggestion was from John: “Let’s call this record ‘Songs of Love and Death in E Minor.” I think it’s cool but it’s too long, Love is a Dog from Hell is a better title but let’s stick to the other idea and use this without the E Minor. John: E Minor is still there in the gaps!
Nergal, did you have any moments of self-doubt during the writing or recording progress about your ability to sing given how different it is compared to the vocals you’re best known for? Nergal: Of course! Every now and then I’m like “Shit, really?” Because I am exposed to something that I am totally new to. Not anymore but still I’m new to this. For John, he’s so confident in this because it sounds similar to most of his life but for me it’s like “Oook, it can be slippery ground.” I don’t know, as I kept saying, I’ve got to do it, so I get to deep dive and see if I can swim. Simple as that! John: Self-doubt is also motivating. It can be. Nergal: Exactly! Because I don’t know, let’s see how it goes. We have this tour ahead and singing every day. I don’t know if I can pull it off. I have been talking the whole day today and I already feel it scratching my throat. Somehow I don’t have a problem with screaming but just singing, I feel it. Let’s see what happens. It’s a new thing, I want to get there and I hope I pull it off. But then again, it’s not just me. That’s the cool thing. If I stop, there’s still John. John: Good old John! You have mentioned in the past that you are a big fan of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen and the album is drawing from their dark narratives. What’s the mark, if any at all, that you’re hoping to leave in that genre of music with Me and That Man? John: We don’t have to bring something new to the table that’s the way it came out. Various inspirations, various influences. You can recognise what we listen to. Nergal: The last word before I die iffy original. I guess that I am everything but original… On every front. A talented thief? Nergal: I am a thief. John: It is original. I mean, we just interpreted things that have been out there already. Nergal: I am a thief, she was right. But then again, if you steal inspiration from someone, you’re going to flash it through your own filters. Right? It’s going to go through your system. So, it’s already not his, it’s mine because it went through my experience. That’s how I see it and there’s an example that I have been using for years now, you can grab all these people, give them guitars and tell them “Hey can you play E Minor?” and in my opinion what I’m going to hear from 20 people will be 20 different vibes even though it’s the same chord. The same goes with this. These blues players, they play the same fucking song. Listen to Muddy Waters or Robby Johnson, it’s the same song. He’s using the same chords, it’s the stories that are different. And he’s just singing about how fucked up the world is, how fucked up his life is. And that’s it. That’s what I love about blues personally. It’s all emotions, it was not about shredding and showing off, that came later. Instead of going there, we’re going back to talk about our experiences, about our lives and about our emotions in these songs. I hope there’s some uniqueness in there because of the collaboration, because of these two different currents that mix up. I think that’s interesting, the synergies.
Talking about the collaboration, John you have obviously worked with a range of artists from The Smiths and Bryan Ferry to BB King and John Lee Hooker, how was the collaboration between the two of you given your diverse backgrounds? John: I didn’t really have to change very much. It’s basically hovering around my kind of stuff anyway so with Nergal it was just the case of pumping it up a bit. Pimping it up? Making it a bit more full on. Nergal: That’s a good name for a TV show: Pimp my Nergal! There’s already a strong reaction from the fans looking at the comments posted online. There seems to be a love/hate reaction. What do you make of that? John: That’s better than people saying “Oh I don’t know…” Saying you don’t like it is a more positive reaction that just being in the middle. It’s better if you love it or hate it, it’s like marmite. Nergal: What’s in the middle doesn’t exist. It’s flat, it’s dull, there’s nothing there. There’s no definition so I’d rather go for definition. It’s like with Metallica’s Lulu, everyone hated it. With us, I’d say it’s like 60% “Woah”, 30% “Fuck it” and 10% “I don’t know, it’s boring”. That’s good statistics, I love it! Plus I like this saying from Oscar Wilde that goes along the lines that extreme reactions are artists’ art, those extreme opinions. It basically proves that the artist was honest with it and I think that’s what it is. Look, you’ve got politicians or people that try to be always in between because they don’t want to bring extreme reactions because maybe they’re afraid of that. They’re not going to go nowhere. So if you make a statement, a bold statement like “Hey I like that! I like that painting” you already have a strong interaction so you can learn from it and if someone says something like “I don’t know, this painting is OK” it’s stupid, it’s nothing, there’s nothing there so I think in the reactions there’s a lot of substance there. John: There’s enough there if someone says I don’t like it instead of the “I don’t care” thing. Any reaction is better than no reaction. Nergal: I remember we posted it on the Behemoth website and there was a video and there were dozens and dozens of comments and I’m reading them all and at the end of these never-ending comments there was a comment “Who cares” and I’m like actually people do fucking care! Do people’s expectations on your artistic output ever weigh you down? Nergal: Not anymore. That’s the self-confidence that you gain through experience and I guess the more you live, the less you care! It’s the cool thing about getting old, not that you’re ignorant or arrogant but you just don’t give a fuck. John: If you cared about expectations you wouldn’t really ever get anything done. If you’re doing something according to people’s expectations which you’re not sure about anyway, nothing is going to come out of that. Nothing really worthwhile anyway. Having looked at the first reactions for your newly launched videoclip, viewers have
INTERVIEW // ME AND THAT MAN
“If you’re doing something according to people’s expectations which you’re not sure about anyway, nothing is going to come out of that. Nothing really worthwhile anyway.” been talking about the symbolism behind it. Could you tell me a bit more about the creative process? John: A woman made it! Nergal: It’s female produced. I think it’s very decadent. It’s not very positive but then the song is pretty dark and I wouldn’t really go for a literal story “My Church is Black” so let’s build a church and paint it black. There are metaphors there, the song is simple. The lyrics are simple, primitive even but then there’s a lot of things going on in the video. I like the fact that it’s very arty. That was my concern in the beginning when Olga brought the script. She brought the script and I saw all these girls I thought it might be too cheesy, too rock n’ roll, it’s going to look cheap but it doesn’t. It’s pretty disturbing, I like that word. I’ve seen reactions and I’ve heard reactions that are really touching. People are confused, really confused and disturbed which is good! That’s it! I am happy about it. We have four videos ready and each one is completely different. There’s going to be some crazy shit happening in one of them. Some people already labelled us as provocateurs or something. That’s stupid, it’s art! The next video is going to be more regular looking. No more nudity then? Nergal: Next one is going to be from the front!
Was there any specific meaning behind that? Nergal: Probably there is but give me some time to digest it and I will let you know. I could probably come up with different concepts but maybe I shouldn’t because it is there, people watch it and come up with their own mind, with their own interpretations. I’ve heard different opinions. I’ve heard opinions like “Ah awesome video, with a shitty song” or “The music is awesome but this video is embarrassing”. It’s awesome how diverse it can be, it’s great. I like it. You have announced some upcoming live performances and we are obviously used to some intense appearances from you with Behemoth. What can people expect from a Me and That Man live show? John: It should be intense also. It should be stripped back, laid back. No nonsense, just going for it. Nergal: I had a vision. It’s hard to articulate that. I hope it’s going to be a solid conceptual performance, but no gimmicks or bullshit, just four guys playing their music. Light, sound, and acting, playing will just come together conceptually nicely and that’s the way I see that. It’s going to be no extras, nothing. We’re never going to try to spice it up and sell it out. Class is the world we should use here. We will do our best to make it look and sound very classy. I bet the songs, when we play them live, they’re
going to sound harder. So let’s see. It’s going to be fun! I know it’s still early days, but have you thought more about the future of the project or do you take it day by day? John: Well I take it day by day. That is the future, to just be here right now. Nergal: We’re not looking at the future. It’s this tour and all the work that needs to be done by that time. I think it’s enough and then we will see. If there’s one thing that you want people to take away from all this, what would it be? John: That they would find maybe some emotions or emotional issue which they didn’t have before, maybe they discover something about themselves because sometimes you do get that when you listen to music and suddenly something moves you that you didn’t even know it existed sometimes. Nergal: I really hope that people dig the honesty of it. It’s cool if people go “You know, that’s not my thing. I don’t like it but I sense the honesty there. I know it’s sincere and he’s real when he’s doing it” because I have seen “He’s doing it for money!” What money? Where’s that money? No!
SONGS OF LOVE AND DEATH IS OUT NOW VIA COOKING VINYL musicandriots.com
EMPOWERING DEFIANT, POIGNANT & CATHARTIC 68
It all started with Kristina Esfandiari, and just like her other “main project”, Miserable, it grew unceasingly – with a help from a band that is indubitably in sync. It’s been a long, long road for Kristina Esfandiari. A road filled with doubts, pain and scars. From those torturous moments arrives Created In The Image of Suffering, King Woman’s debut album, and surely a landmark in her short career. Our conversation is an attempt to decipher the glorious moment and the surroundings, which are as important, if not more. After all it’s a complex and stunning tapestry. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Teddie Taylor
n November 25th 2015 you tweeted Created In The Image Of Suffering. For how long was the title of the album in your head before you decided to use it? Where does it come from and what does it mean for you? The name came to me but I didn’t know what it meant. I was just like, “What is this name? This is crazy. Why am I thinking this weird thing?” I didn’t really know what we were going to call the album because we hadn’t even really fully written the album when we got into the studio. It was like, “Oh, we’re just going fucking wing it.” We just wanted to record because it had been so long and everyone was just bothering about Doubt, “When are you going to put out a new record? We need to know. We can’t listen to the same four songs over and over again.” And at that time you had already written Miserable’s Uncontrollable, right? Yeah, I’ve been kind of back and forth writing stuff with King Woman and Miserable, and other projects that I have. I’m always writing, you know me. But it was hard juggling writing so much at once, it was kind of making me insane but it also makes me insane not to do it, so I’m just trapped, essentially, in my creative process. [laughs] But yeah, the name just kind of popped into my head and I just thought it would be good to keep it in mind since it stuck with me. So, we got in the studio and we were kind of tying up some of the songs and trying to fully realize how we wanted some of the songs to sound… but we were just kind of like, “Fuck it! Let’s just go in the studio and do it.” So, we got some time with Jack Shirley who’s a pleasure to work with… he made us vegan ice cream, which I’m not vegan but it was the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life, it was so good – I told him he should open an ice cream shop. He has a dog named Rocky, a couple of cats, and his partner is such a sweetheart… It was a very calm and relaxed atmosphere to record in. I get really stressed out in the studio, it’s not my favorite thing. Yeah, Jack made us feel very comfortable and he was so wonderful to work with, so kind. We were just in there and I was just trying to write out all my feelings about the songs that are on the album and how they relate… trying to figure out… This record is just one of those things. I was nervous about doing interviews because I didn’t really have much to say about it, because it’s such a deep feeling for me, it’s kind of beyond words for me. Everyone is like, “What is this or that?” and I end up being kind of speechless. It transcend words for me. It’s so much of my life
into like one year, so I was kind of writing out how I was feeling about each song and what each song meant to me and I was just scribbling really fast in a piece of paper – I think I still have it – and I just wrote at the bottom of the paper, kind of not really thinking about what I was doing, created in the image of suffering, and then I underlined it. It was like, “Ok, that’s the title of the record.” [laughs] It’s one of those things that just is. Do you have a meaning for it now? Yeah… so, I was kind of hoping that you could help me work out some of my feelings off this album, because every time I talk to you and I do an interview with you… I have a theory… I know you have. [laughs] So, growing up in church, I knew the bible back and forth pretty much, and it says that we are created in the image of God. I remember that it was confusing to me. I didn’t even know who God was. I was like, “Is God a man? Why is everyone telling me that I was created in the image of God?” It confused me and every time I heard it I would hate it. It didn’t speak to me, it didn’t click. I was reading an article, a while back, about how the one thing that all humans have in common is suffering and I was thinking about that a lot. It was around the time the title came to me. Why do you have to read uplifting articles all the time? [laughs] Oh you know, I’m such an uplifting person. [laughs] Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that this album is the first where you don’t appear alone on the cover. Did you want to intentionally kind of separate Miserable from King Woman in the sense the King Woman is a band and Miserable is your solo project? No, I just wanted to people to see that we are a band. I really like having… Some people are really weird about putting their face on the album cover but to me is like a self-portrait or something. I want people to see me on the cover… I don’t, it’s my music. But having the boys on the cover, I’ve had this idea come to me and I asked if they would mind being on the cover. They didn’t mind and we went with it. I don’t know, I like being on the cover and I want people to see the boys’ faces. We are a band, it’s a lot more collaborative now. We are very close. You were always very open with the fact that your relationship with Colin Gallagher (one of your best friends and someone you know since a very young age), and his “untapped potential” were kind of the foundations of King Woman. You have evolved on an artistic level and I imagine he did the same. How the creative relationship between you guys has changed and evolved since Doubt? Colin really helped me grow as a person in a really amazing way. We have this kind of psychic connection. Like, I was singing something in the shower and then I go to practice, and Colin says, “Hey, I wrote this guitar part.” And it went perfectly to what I was singing in the shower. That’s the kind of connection we have. I just really like
“the turning poin believed in me a because I hav his style. He has an impeccable taste and his tone is really good. And we love each other a lot. So, we’re very, very close. It is really easy for us to come together and understand each other and write together because we just vibe really well. I think we have that type of connection where we get each other musically and then my drummer Joey [Raygoza]… he’s so talented. I don’t know, he’s just like a fierce drummer and he has these little ideas that are just so good. He’s kind of shy about speaking up about them but when he does is always a light ball over your head, like “Oh my god, why didn’t we think about that?” I also grew up with him - him and Colin. Our bass player Peter [Arensdorf] is just kind of the glue for the band. Everything we lacked or we kind of sucked at, he was good at. It just wasn’t complete until Pete joined the band. He’s really good at structuring songs. He’s the one who came up with initial idea for “Hierophant”. He’s an amazing songwriter. I think we’ve all just been growing,
INTERVIEW // KING WOMAN
nt for me was when I realized that nobody really and I stopped and realized, “Oh yeah, that’s right ve to believe in myself. Fuck all these people.” collaborating, trusting, and loving each other more. I think that’s why it has been working for us. I remember you talking about how you’ve had to learn how to communicate, be a leader, and share the creative process with other people for Doubt, the first King Woman’s release with a full band. How was it this time around? I think that being a leader is less about people following behind you and more helping others to realize who they are and progress as a musician. And it’s more about, for me, encouraging and setting an example, I guess. I want everyone in my band to excel as a musician. For example, when I noticed that Peter was gifted as a songwriter I told him that he was talented and that he should start a solo project. Just paying attention to people, trying to find their gifts, and then help them cultivating those gifts and trying to boost their confidence. I love to help
people realize their potential and I enjoy seeing them grow. Being a leader has been good. Everyone kind of knows their role in the band now and we all kind of vibe, so it’s not hard. They all know what they have to contribute, and everyone respects each other. It was a rough patch between Doubt and now because we went through so many bass players and everyone was kind of trying to figure out where they belong, but I feel we have figured it out and it’s very collaborative now. I’ve set into my role and I feel very relaxed. I don’t feel stressed out. I feel very good about who I am and who I’m becoming. It’s been pretty easy for the most part, kind of natural. I want to ask you about your relationship with Breannyn Delongis. You moved to Brooklyn together and you helped her create an amazing EP that goes by the name of I Was Not Well for her project High and Fragile.
My baby! Yeah, I do a lot of backing vocals on I Was Not Well, especially on the song “Happy Birthday”. We have a very longstanding relation. We used to work together. When I met her she asked me, “What sign are you?” and when I said I was Pisces she just told me, “Me too. We will be friends.” [laughs] From there on… we have a kind of an up and down relationship. We weren’t that close at first because we both had our own things going on and we were going through a rough time. When we started to get closer she started showing me some songs that she was writing. I don’t think she was intending to do anything with them and I said, “You need to become a musician. You need to record this shit and do this. I will help you. I will go with you to the studio.” It was hard to get her in the studio because I don’t think she fully knew her calling to music. And I think she was doubting herself. It was like pulling her by her hair to fucking get her to go into the studio. She would musicandriots.com
“I have had a lot of inhibitions my whole life and it’s something I have struggled with for a very long time, releasing my inhibitions. I overthink everything and I feel kind of trapped and held back emotionally because of that.” say, “No, I don’t feel good. My voice… I’m feeling sick,” and I was like “No, we’re doing it on this day. We’re going.” And finally got her there and she was a fucking natural. She killed it! One takes on guitar… vocals were a little difficult for her because I don’t think she was very confident with her voice at the time. But we did it and she had a great experience. She listen back to the EP a million times. Every time I would see her she would be listening to music on headphones and I would ask her, “What are you listening to?” and the answer was always the same, “My EP. I can’t believe I made this.” We have a very deep loving relationship. We’ve been through a lot together and I think she feels ever grateful and kind of in debt to me because she says that I’ve changed her life. But I don’t think she owes me shit. She has done a lot for me too. She helped me to overcome my… I had some really bad shit happening to me when I was a young girl and I stopped playing guitar live. That was kind of why Colin started to play guitar for King Woman, because I couldn’t mentally. My hands would shake and get too sweaty and I couldn’t hold my guitar. So, I had kind of a breakdown in our practice space before me and Bre went on the Miserable US tour together – because she played bass on that tour – and I was just like, “I can’t do this, Bre. I can’t play these songs live. I can’t do it.” And she was like, “NO! You can do it. We are going to work through this shit mentally right now.” I just had a breakdown and just lost my fucking mind. I was freaking out. There was this weird moment of energy shift where she just hugged me and helped me mentally to get to this place where I could do it. After that I was fine and we did a fucking full US tour together. I think we just kind of have a cosmic friendship. She says we are like Bowie and Lou Reed. [laughs] She has a lot of potential. We are doing this tour together where she’s going to be doing her solo stuff and we’ve just had a long conversation on the phone today. I also kind of manage her because I just want to see her get off the ground with it. And I know that once she does she won’t needed me at all, she will be killing it. I want to find her the right label. I want to find her home musically and just like help her get more confidence. She has a really great band out here, so I think she will have no problem.
I imagine this relationship has affected you on a creative level, right? That’s a great question. It’s affected me immensely. It’s been transformative for me because the new Miserable stuff that I’ve written is so informed by Bre’s energy because I’ve spent so much time with her. And she’s been such a magical inspiring force in my life. She has this very strong and powerful energy, you know what I mean? And she’s had a hard life. She has substance to her and she has been a guiding force in my life. After listening to your music for the last 3 years or something… I have this unshakable feeling – and it’s definitely not based or supported by anything too specific that you’re kind of holding back vocally, it seems that there’s some ground that could be covered by you vocally. Yeah, I think is true. I think on the newer stuff I’m working on… I think I relate to emotional stuff. I have had a lot of inhibitions my whole life and it’s something I have struggled with for a very long time, releasing my inhibitions. I overthink everything and I feel kind of trapped and held back emotionally because of that. It translates a lot different live but I don’t like being in the studio, I don’t like singing into a vocal booth. It’s more of a studio thing for me. I hate being in studios, I feel trapped. But the new stuff I’m working on… I don’t know, Bre is really helping me. I’ve just recorded some stuff and I just was panicking so bad that I had to have her sit there and she was just there eating food while I was tracking guitar. I don’t know, I just feel like 70% more comfortable having her there while I’m recording. That’s how much of a freak I am. On Doubt you talk about how oppressive organized religion was for you but you’ve also stated, in one of our previous conversations, that you’re not an atheist and that you weren’t angry towards the idea of God. On this album you seem more open regarding your faith and you seem to be in a process of sort of reconciliation with religion and faith – it seemed for me that you’re trying to make peace with your true self, if you know
what I mean. I mean, I haven’t thought about that. It’s one of those questions that you’re supposed to ask me. [laughs] I think it has a lot of biblical themes around it… [pause] I don’t know. I would have to think about that. It’s a really intense question. I can give you a play-by-play on what each track is about because I don’t really know if I was trying to reconcile anything. They’re just kind of things that came out of me and I was singing about, I guess. It would be amazing to have a play-by-play on what each track is about. I was not sure if I should ask you about some of the songs because they feel very personal. Ok, so “Hierophant”… the person who played violin on that track is a person I was very in love with, he actually played on “Manna” too. The song is about falling in love and the time not really being right. I wrote that song for him. I think it’s a beautiful song and he plays on the song. [laughs] “Manna” is about this book I read online, a book that’s not really available anywhere – you can hardly find it and if you do it’s very expensive. It is about this idea that aliens brought the Israelites these machines so that they could make food. It bugs me out and I thought it was so sick so I wrote a song about it. [laughs] “Worn” is about… I met somebody that wanted to hang out and talk to me after they heard my music. They basically told me that they were sexually abused as a child by like a pastor in a youth camp. They were super depressed and I could tell they were struggling to this day. And I was just like, “I’m going to write the song for you.” That’s why we wrote “Worn”. “Deny” is about a lot of things. It’s about my mom and it’s about being in denial. And it’s also about people denying who they truly are for the sake of religion and trying to fit into this mold of what they think they should be and therefore denying their true self, and they’re miserable because of it. They’re sad and depressed. “Shame” is about… “Shame” is fucked up. Someone I loved very much told a very sad story about something that their father used to do to them and their siblings when they were young. I told them I would write a song for them… and I did. So, “Worn” and “Shame” are songs that I wrote for other people. You decided to end the record with a small piece from a choir song. I’ve heard it before – probably I remember the melody when I used to go to Church – but I don’t know the name of it and I have a hard time understanding exactly what they’re saying. What are they saying and why did you decide to use it to close the album? [starts singing] I don’t know. I found this album cover online… I don’t even remember who the track is by. But I wanted to put some type of church-related song at the end and I just found this track that I thought it was just perfect. We’ve just fucked it up and slowed it down to sound creepy. The song is beautiful. There was a moment in your life where family members were taking you lightly, boyfriends were not truly supporting your projects, and even old bandmates were
INTERVIEW // KING WOMAN
mocking you because you were doing your own thing. Your situation, looking from the outside, has changed a lot and you have now two musical projects who have been getting exposure and attention from media and music fans. Has the situation surrounding you changed as well? Oh yeah, totally. The boyfriend who wasn’t really supportive of what I was doing musically… I just don’t think he thought I could make it, that I could do it. And he was there when I signed with Relapse. I was like, “Cool, you were wrong.” [laughs] He was supportive but I don’t think he was convinced that I could do it. I had other partners in the past that would kind of go, “Oh, that’s cute, you’re in the band.” My parents have been really supportive. I think
they’ve just kind of realized that they can’t be close with me if they don’t have a positive energy towards me. My dad calls me a rockstar now. [laughs] They’re really supportive now. As far as old band members that used to mock me… I don’t know what the fuck they think nor doesn’t it matter for me. They’re not exactly doing too well. Does it feels strange? I mean, I have this idea that you were kind of underestimated your entire life – like people didn’t really expect much and perhaps you got used to expect that from people. Being underestimated has fueled me to become who I am. It’s strange but it’s also good because I’ve been a fucking loser all my life, nobody fucking
believed in me, and everyone thought I was weak. I proved them all wrong and I will continue to do so. I will continue to be an encouraging and positive person, to help people realize their dreams. But the turning point for me was when I realized that nobody really believed in me and I stopped and realized, “Oh yeah, that’s right because I have to believe in myself. Fuck all these people.” The moment where I started to believe in myself is when I started to doing well for myself. You can’t wait for other people to believe in you.
CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF SUFFERING IS OUT NOW VIA RELAPSE RECORDS musicandriots.com
Within 10 years, Atlanta's four-piece Royal Thunder have innovated their sound and their skills as songwriters, and with their third album they definitely show how stronger and sharper they are together. Right before the release of their new album, Wick, we caught up with the band's frontwoman Mlny Parsonz that told us all about the inspiration behind it and why it's another milestone in the band's career. Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Jimmy Hubbard
A FIRE THAT NEVER GOES OUT 74
f I’m not mistaken, it’s been 10 years since you guys released your self-titled EP. What do you think it has changed the most within the band since you guys started this band? I don’t really think that much has changed within the band. I think as a band we’ve always maintained the same kind of ideas and stuck to the same visions, so that’s been good. I think the music has changed as life has changed and as we’ve gotten older. When I hear 10 years, I’m like “Oh my god, where did 10 years go?” [laughs] I think what has changed is the music and each album is kind of like a puzzle piece that we’ve just been able to look down on all of them and see all the pictures, remember all the memories, the tours, the people we’ve met and whatever it was going on in life... It’s just like a tattoo, it’s a piece of our history together... It’s just neat to be able to see several albums and be like “Wow, we’ve been through so much together, we went through so much and still strong and happy.” We’re just a family, you know? How do you think the band’s dynamic and sound has evolved throughout these last few years? The recording process has changed. When we started on the EP, the vocal booth that I was in like me wrapped up like a burrito in a corner of a room and a t-shirt on top so you couldn’t hear anything else. It was a little laptop. Josh didn’t know how to solo back then and he have never thought he could. He was like “I will never be able to do a guitar solo, I’m just a guitar player and I can barely play.” I remember not being a very good bass player... When we were in the studio making Wick, we actually sat down just to get our minds off things and just watched funny videos, just completely take our minds off of recording if we get stumped. One of us one time was like “Dude, let’s listen to the EP because it’s been years.” We listened to it and we were just laughing, like “Wow, we were such kids!” You can hear us trying to figure out how to write a song. It’s just evolved in that way. We all watched ourselves grow up and it’s very different now the kind of players we are, it’s not like “Oh, we’re so awesome”, that’s not what I’m saying at all. [laughs] But we have definitely grown as individuals and that’s nice, because it would be terrible if we didn’t become better. [laughs] Since then you released two quite impressive albums, 2012’s CVI and 2015’s critically acclaimed Crooked Doors. It feels like your third new album Wick is an accumulation of those two releases but you go deeper with your writing skills and lyrical content. What did differ the most working on Wick than the previous albums? The only song that was written mostly the way it is that’s on the album was “April Showers”, because we were at practice before we left for tour and it was a song that
we had been working on and we took it on the road and we got practiced it. When we got into the studio, we had nothing. Before Wick, we had absolutely nothing and we wrote all of it in the studio. It was very natural progression for us and a very natural and normal thing, which was kind of our goal to just do it like “Don’t think about it, don’t try to emulate anyone, don’t copy anything, just be yourself and let it come out” and that’s what came out. As far as the lyrical content, I think it’s different for me because in the past, especially on Crooked Doors, that was more of like a journey and emotional turmoil and kind of figuring things out. On Wick it was more like an expression of the wisdom I gained throughout all those experiences. It was more solid and grounded. I knew exactly what life was handed to me and I knew exactly what I was going to do with it and handle it, so it has a different feel on that way too. It’s more grown up and less aggressive. It’s kind of a collection of all the sounds and everything and it was kind of strange. I felt like it was like a little basket full of everything and everywhere we’ve been. I read that you said out of all Royal Thunder albums, this new one was the hardest to make. Why’s that? In retrospect, every one of those albums has been hard to make, I think I said it about every single one, but that’s always the first thing I think which is like “Gosh, that was so hard to do.” I think any musician can say that about any album and I think for me my personal struggle was figuring out how I wanted to say what I wanted to say and finding a way. It wasn’t writer’s block because there was a lot in there. I felt so much and I had so much to say that I just couldn’t find the release point. I was just like congested somewhere for whatever reason, so that was the hardest part for me, the challenge of being like “Why isn’t this coming out? It needs to come out, everybody is waiting.” The label was like “Alright, here’s your deadline.” My bandmates were done with their parts and I was like “Ugh, I have to hurry up!” I just think I had put unnecessary pressure on myself, but in the end anybody that makes music or art, and I’m sure even in journalism, that pressure of like “Shit, I don’t know how to say what I want to say” and it was like that for me. You name your albums with a word that stands out in the songs, so why naming this new one as Wick? It was that idea of going back to that feeling like you have the candle and there’s a wick on it but you’re looking for the fire, so that was kind of the journey of that like “Where is this flame that I know exists?” I think that even the album’s artwork you can see the flame behind the darkness and all the colors and all the life that’s about to explode. That’s where Wick come from, just that whole idea of looking for that fire. Who created this mesmerizing artwork? This guy came up with it and it was kind of back and forth. In the end I decided to send him an email like “This is the way I was feeling and this is kind of where I was at on this album. This is what lyrical content is about.” He took it and came up
with that. I was like “Yes! You just took all these words and turned them into art.” The cool thing is it looks like CVI and Crooked Doors on fire and it’s weird. I don’t even know if that was on purpose, but after staring at that for a while I was like “Wow, it’s kind of all the albums burning together.” It’s weird. As I mentioned, on this new album your songwriting skills are sharper but as well as the intensity of your vocals that you deliver on each song. How was it like to write down the words and melodies for these new songs for you? I struggled with it in a good way... I don’t ever want to sing anything I don’t believe in or anything I don’t feel and I don’t want to lie and pretend to feel something. You can tell when someone is faking music, art or whatever. Even in writing, you can tell when someone is like “Goddammit, I hate this band. I have to write this fucking article and here it is.” [laughs] I don’t ever want to make music like that, so I think that’s where the intensity comes from. It’s just a part of who I am, sometimes I push myself way too hard and my voice pays a price, but I just try to give everything I have because I don’t see the point of doing it without feeling it. Just let it all out, be real and call it a day. How do you deal with the pressure that you put in your voice while you are on the road? Over the years, I’ve made so many mistakes and I feel like I had a harder time when I worried about it and when I thought about it, just like when I would take a whole day and just not talk or I would be drinking the hot tea and the honey and warming up... Just putting so much energy into it. One day we realized I was singing out of my range and we were tuned a whole step higher on previous albums, so that was hard. I was like “I can do this but I can’t do it every fucking night because this is really fucking high and it’s too much strength.” One day I just woke up and I was like “Fuck it! I believe in this band, I believe in myself, I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, so why worry about it? Why not just enjoying it and just quit worrying about it?” I just tried to not pay attention to it and I give everything I have when I have it. It’s like riding a motorcycle. I get on my motorcycle and it’s like “Dude, that’s so dangerous” and I’m like “I don’t think I’m supposed to be dead anytime soon, so I’m just not worried about it.” [laughs] Maybe it’s foolish but ignorance is bliss I guess. “The Sinking Chair” is such a tremendously powerful track. What’s the story behind this one? I like to leave the songs open to interpretation, but just a little touch on it. There was something that I was dealing with... When I think of a sinking chair, I think of my thinking chair. People have the chair in their houses, the place where they go and they sit and it’s like where you have your coffee and you think. It’s like the thinking chair that I have and it’s the whole idea of sitting down on this thinking chair and this thing that you’re thinking about holding and dragging you down and taking you to a negative head space or negative space. It’s
INTERVIEW // ROYAL THUNDER
“It’s more grown up and less aggressive. It’s kind of a collection of all the sounds and everything and it was kind of strange. I felt like it was like a little basket full of everything and everywhere we’ve been.” a song about getting up... You know, keeping with the tempo of the song and just get up and pull yourself out of your sinking chair and run towards the decision that you should make about this thing. Within that song, I put little touches of what it is what I’m talking about, but I wasn’t super clear because I wanted it to be left open to interpretation. In every album, I try to put my little secrets and things that I’ll never tell anyone or why I did what I did, so that one has a little nugget in it. It’s really fun to play live, especially when it gets a little faster. [laughs] Listening to a song like “Plans” shows how you guys manage to have efficiently diversity on your songs, where it’s mainly your vocals with soft guitars and drums as background. How was it like the writing for this song in particular? It was very vulnerable... I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do vocally. I tried a lot of different ideas on that song and then I kept hearing that voice inside of me and I was like “Hey, I’m a little embarrassed about this because this is going to be weird and uninched. I’ll probably mess it up a whole lot but I want to try this other voice.” I did it, and although it’s not
perfect, I was like “Dude, it is what it is. It’s real and it expresses the things I wanted to say in that song and how I was feeling.” I was just very vulnerable on that song for sure.
But if I do, I box at home. I like to run. There were tours where I would run every day, but I do it because I want to feel good, but if I’m on that train of just be like drinking, eating and enjoying life, I’m not thinking about workout. [laughs] I go back and forth. When I’m on it, I’m pretty serious about it. I love health and be healthy, but certainly not 100%. [laughs]
Now you will be touring your new record, what are your essential things while you are on the road? My running shoes, books, tooth brush and tooth paste. [laughs] I bring too many books. They’re like “Mel! Just get a fucking Kindle or something. Why do you have so many books?” and I’m like “I don’t know, I don’t know what mood I will be in.” I bring a bunch of weights on tour and some tours I don’t use them at all and I’m like “Why do I bring all these weights?” I even brought one to Europe. It’s just a weird thing. Every time I went through security, they would pull out and I would have to get search and they would pull out the weight. I went to Europe with Josh and Maria and they were like “Why did you bring the weights? Did you even use them?” and I was like “No, I didn’t use them. Just shut up.” [laughs]
As someone who brings a lot of books on tour, which ones are you bringing with you on the upcoming tours? Patti Smith wrote a book called Just Kids a while back and she put out another book called M Train and I’m trying really hard not to read it while I’m at home, but I’m gonna bring that to the tour. I’m really excited about that but are such short ones. I love Haruki Murakami and so I’ll probably bring The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or he’s got this really cool book called Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. It’s about a guy who loses all his friends and he goes on this journey to find out what the hell happened, it’s really sad.
So, why did you really bring them? Do you usually workout? Yes and no, because when I don’t, I don’t.
WICK IS OUT NOW VIA SPINEFARM RECORDS musicandriots.com
There are few artists who can be called iconic on multiple levels without a hint of exaggeration. The likes of Nick Cave and Bob Dylan are obvious calls, but it wouldnâ€™t be a stretch to factor Jacob Bannon amongst those esteemed individuals. His visuals have been reproduced and ripped off ad nauseam, his lyrics are some of the most emotionally poetic in extreme music and as a vocalist, he has developed a range to rival that of Convergeâ€™s sonic palette. Now, he has expanded his reach further with Wear Your Wounds, a solo project that has been lurking for decades but is now about to see the light of day. He took some time out of his perpetually hectic schedule to give us the low-down on this new(ish) venture.
WEAR YOUR 78
N U O W
ave Bowes // Photos: Raid Haithcock
ongratulations on the new record, it’s pretty wonderful stuff. How long have these recordings been around? I’ve been recording material on my own for a long time – over 15 years, maybe more. I started really working on this project actively in 2000; some of the songs that ended up on the record started off even that early. When I decided to actually take the time and make a record, and make an album out of all these half-finished recordings that I’ve had around in various states for years, I had maybe 27 songs that I had roughed out and that I wanted to take a crack at, and I pretty much did. The ones that ended up on the album, that’s what made the cut. That’s not to say any of the other songs were less important than the others, it’s just that they fit well together and I felt that that group of songs was the way to go for the first record. It gave a good sampling of the variety of the things that were going on musically with the idea of the project. We’ve already started tracking new stuff and I already have another album that’s fully demoed and pretty much ready to go into the studio with, we have a bunch of EPs that are actually done completely, I have another record that we’re mastering right now, so there’s a lot going on. You seem to keep unbelievably busy pretty much around the clock. How do you find the time for reflection and downtime? A pretty good question... I don’t really take downtime, not in the traditional sense at least. I go home pretty much like anyone else at the end of the day, have a fairly normal life but the gears in my brain are always turning. I always feel the need to make something and I’ve had that for a long time, whether it’s a natural inclination or just being addicted to work and forward movement, it’s just something I find a lot of joy in. I don’t think I would be that happy of a person if I sat back and didn’t do those things and didn’t throw myself into creating something. I always feel the drive. Sometimes I don’t – I have to tap out sometimes and take a little time off but you’ve gotta remember, my day job is a creative one. I do a lot of stuff that’s not just an emotional outpouring or something like that. I own and work for a record label. There’s a lot of things I do on a daily basis that are somewhat creative but they’re not me trying to write some monstrous emotional song, I’m not digging into that part of myself all the time. A lot of the time it’s just doing somewhat mundane things. Every single thing that you see coming from the Deathwish world, every single piece of copy that happens is coming through me in some
capacity; any kind of interaction, whether it’s just promoting records or unloading a pallet with the guys, taking the garbage out with Richie. I’m always doing something. In terms of that creative impulse, how long has it been like this? When do you first remember feeling that urge to create? I’m 40 years old now so I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. You’ve got to remember, I started Converge when I was a kid, like 12 or 13 years old. I’ve spent more of my life inside a creative outlet than I have not in one. That’s a pretty big thing for me, but I’ve never really run out of things to say. There’s always been something in there, thankfully. I’ve always said that if I felt the need to not make music or not create art, I’d just stop. I wouldn’t push for it, I wouldn’t try to make it something that it’s not. I’m a career artist to an extent because I’ve been doing it for this long but I wouldn’t just do or make stuff for the sake of doing it. I have to enjoy what I’m doing and be able to get something emotionally and psychologically out of it. Given the fact that you had worked on these songs over a period of years, did you find that you took a different direction in terms of construction than you might have done in a typical album cycle? Yes and no. With Converge, we’re a band; that’s a democratic band, we’re a collective. We’re four people coming together as a whole to create a specific collective vision, whereas this project is more me steering the ship but since I’ve collaborated successfully within it with some of the guys I’d been playing with on, for lack of better terminology, session work that’s slowly changing. They’re my friends and I’m excited to play with them, but I’m also going to them because they are technically more proficient at, say, guitar than me, because I’m a horrible guitarist. I can hack my way through stuff but I’m not a virtuoso like some of the guys I’m around. I can write a song but I can’t play every part of the song as I intend, so through going to my friends and asking if they want to contribute, and thankfully they have but it’s been my vision; Converge and the other things I’ve worked on has been more of a collective. It’s more or less a solo project, or it started off as much as that. I’d say now, myself and Mike McKenzie (Gunface) who’s from The Red Chord, has been collaborating a lot with me; same with Chris Maggio, who’s been in a lot of bands too, has been playing drums, adding subtle nuance to things especially on the newer recordings we’re putting together, whereas on the album stuff they were all just getting the initial vibe of the record, the vibe of my own musical voice. It was a new thing to them. “Hey, I’ve got this new record.” “Is it a metallic hardcore record?” “Nope, I’ve been recording other stuff.” It takes a bit of getting used to for everyone to become cohesive. How are you feeling about taking this work live, especially to somewhere like Roadburn, which is a pretty massive deal? Yeah, Roadburn’s great. I was fortunate enough to play two sets there last year. Walter’s been really supportive of our musicandriots.com
creative world so I’m really excited to do it and I’m really excited about the band that is together for it. It’s a bunch of the guys that have been doing this already with me, with Gunface and Chris Maggio, but my friend Adam McGrath from Cave In is also going to be playing guitar– he actually just recorded a Wear Your Wounds session as well – and he plays guitar in an entirely different way from how Gunface does, so it’s very interesting to hear them interact with one another where Adam is really into effects pedals and that kind of thing, pushing the dynamic aspect to a whole new level where Gunface is more of a give him a guitar and a cord and he’ll plug it straight into the amp and go. It’s really cool to hear them interact and to hear two different musical voices interpreting my song is very cool. My friend Sean Martin is also playing guitar live too, holding down the rhythm. He’s a very multifaceted musician – he’s a sick guitar player but he’s also an electronics and sampler guy who does a lot of hiphop producing so he will be able to work with some of the tracks that we won’t be able to do in a live setting, like some of the piano stuff that’s played, things that are hard to replicate on a small stage. The vocal work throughout is incredibly impressive, especially on something as lush as “Fog”. Did you feel you were pushing yourself in other directions with this approach? I’m pushing myself to a degree but it’s something that I can do. One thing that’s really important for musicians is to know what they’re good at. You could be a fan of a million musicians and you might want to be a technical death metal player but you can’t do it, it’s just not on the cards as you can’t play that way so you find where you fit. With stuff vocally, I’ve been yelling in a band since I was 13 years old so a lot of people know me primarily for doing that. I didn’t even mean to start being a vocalist, period – me being a vocalist for Converge was a kind of interesting thing for me because when we started, I was the bass player; we didn’t have a singer. I was just writing songs because I wanted to do that; I only sang because no one wanted to and I wanted to push forward as a band and try to do something fun. I took up the role just because so I never thought about being a vocalist, or as a lyricist either. It’s something I had to work for and sing naturally, not try to emulate any other vocalist. I see that a lot, where someone will try to stylistically get into something, do some kind of croon or something that’s derivative of someone else. I’m just trying to have fun, sing soulfully and honestly and whatever comes out, comes out. If someone knows me primarily as a loud vocalist and they hear me doing this stuff, they might be a little surprised because they’re used to me sounding like a monster. Given that perception, there’s sometimes an impression that people are intrigued by Converge as an idea but put off by the more abrasive aspects. Do you think Wear Your Wounds can be a segue for those people as there are similarities even though it’s an entirely different beast? It’s funny, you can’t really control how people perceive music or your art, no matter what you do. Once it’s out there,
you relieve ownership of that aspect of things and what it means to people. It just exists, it’s just out there. I try not to read musical criticism for the most part unless I’m talking to peers because a lot of people to whom I talk about music aren’t players and so I try to distance myself from that stuff as much as possible, but when I have heard stuff, people just don’t understand that Converge have dynamics as well. On every release we’ve done, there’s been serious dynamics and there are some songs we’ve done where things are slowed down considerably. People know us predominately as a fast, abrasive, heavy band so I don’t know if this will pull people in to listening to Converge in a different way or looking at meaning in a different way, and I don’t really care. I know it’s weird to say. I’m 40, I’m having fun and I just love the fact that I get to make music and that there’s an audience out there that want to grow with me and my friends and the people that I’ve been playing with for years wants to do other stuff that we can also do. In a similar vein, then, do you think that people may connect with these songs in a similar way to how they do with Converge? Possibly but it’s funny. The people that connect with Converge connect with them in an emotional way because they’re emotional songs. It’s just my personal approach – I don’t like writing love songs, I don’t like writing decoration in any band – it has to have emotional substance. The people that have cut through the noise and volume of Converge to find the poetry, something behind the abrasiveness, already know that we’re capable of doing other stuff. It might still surprise surface listeners but what I think Wear Your Wounds and Converge do, and what a lot of bands do, isn’t for surface listeners in music. It’s for people that want to lose themselves in a song and become emotionally invested in an artist, really feel something as opposed to listening to something because it’s just heavy or there. What was your approach in terms of the production for these songs, as I believe you largely self-produced the record?
“I’m a career artist to an extent because I’ve been doing it for this long but I wouldn’t just do or make stuff for the sake of doing it. I have to enjoy what I’m doing and be able to get something emotionally and psychologically out of it.” ISSUE 22
The phrases ‘production’ and ‘producer’ get tossed around a lot in music and I don’t know if it’s necessarily used accurately. A traditional producer really digs in and produces the music, goes with a raw band and they have something to do with the structure of a song, every aspect of a record coming together. This stuff is primarily home-recorded in some capacity, either on 4-track or digitally and mixed it on my own. I had some tracking that I did with Kurt at God City a bunch of years ago just because I didn’t have the technical ability to do it and he was gracious enough to give me some time in there, which was super cool. Some drum tracks were recorded in Kentucky, quite far away from me, and that’s one of the nice things about recording music in this day and age, being able to share things with fairly little expense because this was recorded on my dime for quite a long time. I didn’t have a lot of financial flexibility, it’s just me; it’s my record. I had an engineer, Tom Curtis, who’s recorded drums with Chris Maggio so he’s been great for working with me so far. Is there a feeling of relief that these songs are finally going to see the light of day? For sure - at least we have some sort of beginning. I’ve been working on this stuff, though not actively or consistently, for a long time. One of the main reasons I didn’t finish things is because I have a day job and in that I work with bands and people that I am committed to. As much as initially we built Deathwish to be a home away from home for Converge and related projects, I never wanted to put what I’m doing first so if we’re releasing the Planes Mistaken For Stars record or an Oathbreaker record, those are going to take priority and I’m not going to cram my record into that schedule because I want to make sure that I can focus all my time on them or any of the bands that trust us enough for us to work with them, so it’s taken a while for us to find a break in schedule where it would make sense. Also, life gets busy. Every time I would start to hunker down and focus on working on this stuff, you’d think have a day here or a day there to record some stuff but life gets in the way. Regular responsibilities take hold and you can’t really do what you want. That time is long since gone. I’m busy because I love it but I’m also busy because I economically have to be. I have to pay to live, I have to pay to run a business so a lot of those things have been hurdles in getting this out but thankfully there hasn’t been a schedule apart from me wanting to get it out and out of the way so it does feel nice to finally get it out to people. It’s going to be a crazy year, we’ve got a lot of stuff going on. As an aside, I understand that you used to adopt greyhounds. How did you find the experience? Oh, they’re amazing animals for sure. The greyhound adoption world here has gotten a bit smaller as the racing world has died down. There was a big track in the area that had live races and a lot of dogs came from that facility for a while but yeah, they’re great dogs. I had two for a long time and they’re probably not my last, but they both passed away. Now I’m down to one dog that’s getting older now, who
INTERVIEW // WEAR YOUR WOUNDS
I’ve had since he was a puppy. He’s a big AmStaf, a pitbull, and he’s wonderful but they’re incredibly misunderstood animals. I just appreciate their companionship, a non-human bond, but greyhounds are really unique – they’re statuesque, they’re not like any other dogs, and people compare them to cats but I don’t really feel that’s quite fair. They have a lot of interesting personality traits. People don’t realise but they don’t know what glass is - they try to walk through windows - they’ve never seen a mirror, they don’t know how to go up and down stairs because they’ve never had to. With a dog that’s between 2 and 6 years old when they retire, they have a lot of wild things going on with them personality - and behavioural-wise and hurdles and challenges to make them a regular domesticated pet that you wouldn’t have with a regular pet. Their problem-solving skills just aren’t exactly the same but they’re fun, wonderful animals and I think they’re great. What else do you have going on at the
moment? I know that the Jane Doe live record is on its way. We’ve been working on that for a little under a year. We recorded it last April but it took a lot of time for it to come together. We wanted to do something that was different and special, and also last year we did Blood Moon, and that was really fun; we played that at Roadburn with Chelsea (Wolfe) and Ben Chisholm and Steve Brodsky. We recorded that and we hope to do more Blood Moon stuff, and Converge have been working on a new album on and off since 2012 but again, life gets in the way. Between all of us, there’s a crap-ton of kids daily responsibilities, so we can’t really just crank out a record, nor would we really want to. We just want to take our time with things and make something special, which is something that we feel has always worked. So we’re trying to get a record done and we feel that we have enough material and it’s time so we’re working on that now, and a bunch of other Converge stuff, Blood Moon stuff, Wear
Your Wounds... Mutoid Man just recorded an album... Doomriders are writing new stuff, Kurt’s always busy with engineering, I have art projects and Deathwish-related things. We have a lot of irons in the fire right now. One final question – apart from music, what does make you happy? Just my family and friends. I’m a simple guy, I’m not particularly complicated. I like making stuff, I like making art and I like spending time with my friends and family when I get the chance. That’s pretty much it. Those things are all positive things. I can’t really complain in that respect; other people have way harder hurdles in life than I do but I’m really happy with what we’ve built. It’s taken a long time to build this collective world that we have here and I really appreciate that we have it – we have the label, the band, a big group of creative peers. It’s a good thing.
WEAR YOUR WOUNDS IS OUT NOW VIA DEATHWISH INC. musicandriots.com
VE & AGGRESSIVE Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Diana Lee Zadlo
There isn't a double-edged sword sharper than hype. Sure, it broadens your appeal and gets you a few new fans but more often than not, it's a recipe for falling hard. Thankfully, there are bands out there like Pallbearer, capable of making emotionally and sonically devastating doom that pleases critics and fans alike. With Heartless, their most aggressive and daring record to date, on its way, we spoke to bassist Joseph D Rowland about resisting hype and why dad-rock will never die.
ow are things for you and the rest of the guys? They’re good, just mentally gearing up for being really active again. Most of 2016 was spent writing and recording an album, apart from a few shows we did with Baroness so it’s been a while since we were out on the road like we will be this year. Also, just excited that the album release is on the horizon. How did you find the writing and recording of Heartless in comparison to those first two albums? It’s definitely a more aggressive record. The writing process was a little different this time around because shortly after the release of Foundations Of Burden I relocated to New York City and everybody else still lives in Little Rock, Arkansas so our writing and rehearsing sessions were a little more restrained this time around as we had to rely on the schedule of when I was able to get to Little Rock to rehearse with everybody. I felt like that contributed to this urgency this album has that maybe our previous albums didn’t have as much. Overall, I think the other albums have more of a glacial nature than this. I was thinking earlier today that when someone asks us in layman’s terms what our band sounds like, we’ve always likened it to Black Sabbath while this record is more Pink Floyd meets Metallica. Overall, it’s a different mindset and application, including the fact that the way that we wrote the record was different in some ways to how we had in the past. Did your surroundings and the relocation to New York help to shape this more aggressive sound? I suppose that’s possible, but I think that more than anything was giving the space for us to work because Brett and I have always been the primary songwriters for the band and this time around, Kevin and Brett worked pretty closely on a few songs on the record, so that was an opportunity that hadn’t really been afforded before when we mostly would work separately, writing riffs at home, but would get together constantly just to fill the songs out. It was a separate process, and the pieces of the songs would determine when we would get together. So I don’t think that New York itself shaped the record, it was just that our rehearsals hadn’t really been filled with the purpose of getting the record done in the small windows of time we were in the same room. There’s an emotional and dynamic range on here that you had always hinted at but never quite dove into this fully. Was there a sense that this was the kind of album that you had wanted to make from the very beginning? In a sense, yeah. In some senses, this album fulfils what we were trying to do with our previous album but didn’t quite hit the mark. I love that album but in terms of it being as emotional or immediate, and in terms of the broad range of influences we
have, they really gelled much better on this record; last time around I feel like we were sort of headed in this direction but we weren’t quite there yet. So I think that emotional breadth you’re talking about was the result of us having played stuff from our previous albums on the road so much, developing this greater sense of how we perform as players and as people. We tried to step that up because every time we make an album, we always say that if there’s one goal in mind, it’s to make it our best album that we’ve created so far. There’s always a sense of trying to outdo ourselves because if we don’t, what’s the point? That’s how we never become lackadaisical and just write the same album over and over again. It has to have a different feeling or point or musical competency. Are there any constants to Pallbearer’s sounds, aspects that will always remain no matter how much you evolve? I’m thankful for those things that help to give us a singular sound. No matter what directions we head I feel that there will always be the elements of how we play as individual musicians and how we play together. We’ve been together almost ten years now, and then Brett and I played together for three years before that so I feel like, at this point, we know exactly what our sound is and we’re always trying to explore and push the boundaries of it, but I wouldn’t want to shy away from the things that work for us; like really intense melodicism is a cornerstone of the band. We’re not a dissonant-sounding band – all of the compositions aim at this high melodicism. Also, Brett’s singing ability – he’s really developed his own voice, for lack of a better word; he’s completely come into his own. Especially because after years of touring, he’s starting to understand what it takes to be a professional vocalist and I think that this is definitely his strongest vocal performance. What about yourself? How do you feel you are coming along as a performer and writer? Well, I would say I have become much more proficient as a guitar player over the last few years, even from Foundations of Burden to now. I spend most of my time in composition playing guitar - even though I play bass live in the band, I very rarely play it outside of the live scenarios – so I think developing this keener understanding of the differences between them, playing music on guitar for my contributions on the album and then shifting that over to bass has really changed a lot of my perspective, because I’ve always approached playing bass a little differently than most. Playing guitar so much has definitely helped me think about it a lot more broadly than I have in the past. Also, this record has the most amount of my vocals; Kevin and I did quite a bit of vocals on this record compared to a little bit on the last record and then Foundation has maybe one line that I did. Pretty much everybody, minus Mark, stepped it up in adding a lot of new elements in that aspect. Was there a greater sense of confidence that allowed you to step forward in this regard or was in simply a case of necessity?
It’s really on a song-by-song basis. If we feel when we get to that part of the process that it serves the song in a way that makes sense, that’s what we do. I guess there is a higher sense of confidence but it’s also like trying to broaden the overall sonic horizons of the band by everyone contributing more creative elements than we have in the past. There are also more synthesiser elements on this record than there has been. It’s been about exploring more fully the microcosm of what is possible with Pallbearer without stepping too far out of what we’ve already established so that it’s not the same sound as before. I’ve heard you saying in the past that you’re big fans of, for want of a better term, ‘dad rock.’ You can feel that influence creeping in on this, both in the melodies and in the solo work. Was this something you always wanted to bring into your sound? I think it was less of a conscious choice really early on but once we had a better sense of where we wanted to take the band, even before Sorrow And Extinction came, those ideas were present in our minds and I think we just honed in on how to execute them better as time went on. But yeah, we’re massive, massive fans of Kansas and Asia and Boston. There’s a fine line between dad rock and some of the proto-metal bands like Judas Priest and Scorpions. I was curious about your use of lyrics in Pallbearer – they seem to straddle personal experience, fantasy and social commentary. Is there a conscious effort to encompass all of these facets rather than be tagged as a band that focuses solely on one? The lyrical approach on this record is quite different and I don’t necessarily agree about the fantasy element, at least probably not what a lot of people would think of as fantasy. In the past, there’s been a lot of emphasis from our end writing songs from the perspective of the otherworldly. When there would be a song written from a first-person perspective, it would be something that was relevant to human nature or emotion or something like that – it wasn’t taking place in our reality, per se, but I think our record is a pretty big shift away from that. We’re still using a lot of the same language but it’s a lot closer to home, a lot more raw and real. Not to say the other things weren’t but on this, we were all pretty troubled about the political climate in the world as it stands, so there’s a lot of foreboding in our midst right now. We took a step away from what you were saying as the fantastical elements and wanted to write around how we’re feeling about the state of things. There’s sorrow on the record but also a sense of anger that we haven’t really touched on in the past. You can really tell that on a song like “I Saw The End”. It feels like one of the most confrontational things you have ever written. Is there still a sense of optimism left with you guys? It’s tough to say. It’s not feeling very optimistic right now and I think there’s a lot of apprehension over what is possible because right now it feels like we’re almost in a state of chaos, like everything that’s
INTERVIEW // PALLBEARER
“There’s always a sense of trying to outdo ourselves because if we don’t, what’s the point? That’s how we never become lackadaisical and just write the same album over and over again. It has to have a different feeling or point or musical competency.” happening is a step in the wrong direction but I guess we’ll see. That’s sort of what the record’s about in some ways, not in a whole overarching context but a rejection of all of these corrupt elements that are being promoted to higher statures in the world these days. On a lighter note, even going back to the first album you guys got a lot of fantastic press and that was stepped up even more on Foundations... How easy is it to shrug off the weight of expectation and shut it all out when writing? It’s really not difficult. We started this band because we wanted to play shows with other bands that we liked in the Little Rock metal scene and also because Brett and I were both going through some difficult times in our respective lives. There was never this lofty goal that we were going to get big and tour everywhere, so really we just maintained that concept throughout our careers. Don’t expect anything and whatever’s going on, just roll with it. But it’s exciting. I feel very thankful to have been afforded many of the opportunities
that we have so far and I’ve gotten to see so much of the world that I wouldn’t have had even a few years ago, so I still view it as a very exciting thing but I don’t have any expectations about it. It could all just stop one day and life would go on. There’s no pressure other than amongst ourselves to make an album better than anything we’ve ever done. People are going to have opinions on it no matter what and we have no ability to change that one way or another so it doesn’t even factor in. It’s just our internal goals to make an album that we’re proud of and that’s timeless in its own way. It’s interesting because the more people you reach, the more interpretations of your music that you’ll be receiving. Have you encountered any that were so wide of the mark that they were a million millions from what you’d intended? Sure – haters gonna hate. I think there’s a common misconception that we’re a band who are incredibly influenced by the band Warning. It seems like that comes pretty often but I don’t really understand why
people seem to believe it. There are plenty of opinions out there but I guess thanks to the internet, everybody’s a critic in some way. Congratulations on signing with Nuclear Blast, by the way! How did that come about? We learned after touring Europe a few times that our records weren’t getting the distribution they needed to in Europe and the UK so we met with a few different labels that were interested about doing a co-release as we still had one record left in our contract with Profound Lore in North America. We really hit it off with Monte (Conner), who’s one of the head honchos at Nuclear Blast. He’s a big Type O Negative fan and worked with them back in the ‘90s, and us in the band are major followers of them, so that was the sign for us that this was a good direction for us to go in, and it’s been great so far.
HEARTLESS IS OUT NOW VIA NUCLEAR BLAST/ PROFOUND LORE RECORDS musicandriots.com
E D L O B , R E G BIG Motionless In White found who they are as a group and as musicians, and during some non-stop touring, they worked on a better and bigger version of their music. Graveyard Shift is their brand new effort and it shows a much more cohesive and sharp band. We talked with Chris Cerulli about how the last ten years have shaped them into what they are today, their tour with Korn and much more.
R E D U O L D N A ER Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Jonathan Weiner
rom the beginning, Motionless in White have been a non-stop band, from intense touring to writing and recording music in between. It’s been more than a decade you guys started the band. How do you see the band at this point of your career? Last year was our 10th year anniversary and we actually just hit the 11 year mark now this year. When you take a step back and look at that, it really just puts life in general into a new perspective and we’ve always been very grateful and appreciative for what we’ve been able to go through and all the great things that have happened for our band, but when you really get to see that’s been now 11 years it really just hits you with this massive sense of accomplishment and we feel like if it all ended today that you had to walk away and even though there’s still a lot to accomplish, we could actually feel proud of ourselves that we accomplished our dream pretty much entirely. When you realize that, it really puts being in a band in a different way where everything that you’re doing is a lot of fun now, you no longer worry about stuff like “Is this the right move? Is this the right thing to do? What will fans think? Will our label gonna like it?” It’s more just like “Well, we’ve heard about that long enough, now we’re gonna really do exactly what we want to do with no fear and no care.” I like that we have 11 years of experience that we got at this point. You have always stuck to your own visions and unique blend of sounds. Is it a challenge for you guys to keep it up with how the music industry is nowadays? [Laughs] That’s a good question. It’s definitely a challenge I think for all bands really, whether you’re just starting out or even bands that are playing in arenas. Things are a lot more expensive these days and so touring becomes more expensive with record sales not really being that relevant now with the streaming and downloading. It’s a lot harder for a band to survive. I think for us to keep doing what we’re doing, we’re in a position now that we feel more stable where we know we’re gonna wake up tomorrow and we’re gonna get to work and to do the next tour. We’re gonna have the rest of this year full of tours, but there is that sense of unease where you don’t really know what’s gonna happen... Maybe our record comes out and fans don’t like and don’t want to support the band and we’re on a really tough financial spot because of it and maybe there’s no more place for Motionless In White anymore, and that definitely puts things in a way where you have to kind of plan ahead and you have to really think about what the next move is and making sure that you’re doing what you really wanna do and not worrying about it, but trying to make sure that you’re not being stupid about it either. I definitely think that all bands, whether starting out or
doing really big shows, it’s really hard for all of us. With every album released, you have shown a significant growth as musicians and your voice is always just so rad. What do you think has changed the most within the band since the start? All this time spent trying to find ourselves, for quite a while we were playing a lot of music that we really loved and what we wanted to do, but we really felt like we weren’t standing out, we didn’t have a part about us that really felt like what we really wanted to be and who we really knew we were. Overtime I think what has really helped us is that we took the time to try a lot of things. We put out records that were in the mix of trying to figure ourselves out and put ourselves out there for fans to see... Some fans liked it and some fans hated it, and that’s just part of learning and growing as a person and as a band. I think that this new record is a great representation of the band finally, on the last record realizing who we really are and now taking that and refining it and making it as good, as big and as professional as possible and that’s what Graveyard Shift is to me - a great representation of years of experience, years of trying to find out our identity, who we really are and finally showing it off in a way that we think it’s bigger and better than any of the previous records. Graveyard Shift is just impressive and damn powerful. What was the writing and recording process like for the new material? I think this time we went along with we weren’t really searching of who we were anymore. We found that and we knew exactly what we wanted to do. I think that helped and it made it a lot more fun. Still we tried new things that we felt like we had a better idea what we were trying to write from the beginning and as a result a lot of these songs kind of come off where you can tell how much fun we had with them and how they’re a lot more focus and cohesive with one another. It’s a very diverse record and there are songs that are different from one another, but I think they all come together on the album in a way that represents the past year of writing. We had a lot of fun. We definitely treated ourselves in a really professional manner that we don’t wanna just kind of create a bunch of filler songs. We never ever wanna have one or two singles that that’s really all you will hear from the band and the rest of the album is just filler, so we really focused on making sure we had 12 songs that are just as good as the song before and after it and that’s something that I think was a really great thing that worked for over the past year writing this record. It was really fun, we all had a great time working on it together and I think you can really hear that. You get your music influence from a lot of different places, so what were the main inspirations behind Graveyard Shift? It’s kind of the same as always. Growing up, we really loved all the different types of bands and they were the bands that made us play music and inspired us to want to pick up a guitar, pick up some drum sticks, you know, step up to the mic... I know
that some people really hate the fact that there are influences coming through pretty heavily, but at the same time those bands the bands that influenced our band - were influenced pretty heavily by bands before them that they liked and I think that music is a great representation of the progression of time in music and you kind of get to see generation after generation, band by band really showing those influences in their music and for us it’s been about the same. We’ve always been very upfront about our influences from bands like Marilyn Manson, Slipknot and Rob Zombie, and at the same time being really influenced by some heavier bands like Bleeding Through, Eighteen Visions and As I Lay Dying. I think we always really try to bring those two together - those two styles together - in a way that make Motionless In White unique, it just has that mixture of sounds. Your single “LOUD (Fuck It)” has such a great energy and a really important motivational message, and the video for it is damn awesome as well. Tell us about the writing process for this one. This is for sure to me the most different song in the album. [laughs] We usually get caught up in this position where we are really focused on maintaining the darker side of the band. It has this dark, scary and gloomy atmosphere. I really feel that the band has more to offer than just always being dark and scary and whatever people want to call it. It’s been a long time since we had a really upbeat and energetic song like that song, so I think when we were working on the music for it, it was just an effort to really show that the band has more personality, more character to it than just being dark and gloomy all the time, which isn’t a bad thing and that really is what our sound revolves around, but there’s more to us than that. The message is pretty inspirational to me. I wanted to have it that kind of go with the song that also felt just as uplifting as the message was. The track “Necessary Evil” has the guest appearance from Korn’s Jonathan Davis. How did you guys end up working on this song together? We were very lucky to do a tour with Korn back in October 2016 and being around those guys was a pretty amazing experience because we didn’t know them before the tour and to find out that they all were such really great and nice guys and professional people that didn’t walk around with their heads held high and have this crazy ego. They’re just really nice and normal people. That made me really feel great. Korn being a band that I looked up to for a long time, I felt really happy to see that they ended up being great people. When it came the time to work on the song, when I was working on the vocals for it I just felt like “It just seems so perfect that if there was a way to have Jonathan singing on this song, I feel like we would take it and really turn it into a different song than it was and take it to another level.” I was very scared to reach out and ask, but I didn’t want to look like too much of a fanboy or anything. But I just took the risk and I asked him. He ended up being very into it. He liked the song and liked everything that I wanted him to do. I think he did a fantastic job doing it. It was
INTERVIEW // MOTIONLESS IN WHITE
"Graveyard Shift is a great representation of years of experience, years of trying to find out our identity, who we really are and finally showing it off in a way that we think it's bigger and better..." super easy, he’s such a professional artist and it’s so great to see people that have been doing it for almost the triple of the amount of time that we’ve been doing it and still be just as awesome. Do you have any funny story while you were on tour with Korn? [Laughs] When I was in 7th grade, I remember begging my dad to buy me a guitar just like their seven-string guitar and he ended up buying it for me for Christmas and then I ended up buying the Follow The Leader’s guitar tab book to learn all the songs on the album. As a guitar player growing up, when I got to meet Head and Munky, every time I saw them I was just like I wanted to tell them but I was like “No! Don’t say that! You’re just gonna come off too much of a fan.” Every time I saw them, I just stumbled over with my words in just a very fanboy fashion way and wanted to tell them that I grew up trying to learn all their songs. And I never did tell them, but I
thought it was quite funny being on tour with them and seeing how cool they were and I still was kind of afraid to approach them and to really say anything like that. I thought that I was quite funny. [laughs] Still about “Necessary Evil”, the chorus of the song has your own version of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party”. What led you to include that in your song? For me, it started out as a joke. [laughs] I had the idea to do the line “It’s my party and I’ll die when I want to”, I had that idea prior to the song and I just never thought I would actually go forward and do it. When I was working on the music to this song, I was just humming that along to the chorus just joking around. Me and our producer kind of looked to each other and we were like “Ohhh shit! That sounds pretty good.” We just kind of kept joking about it, but it always ended up coming back to it and we really liked the idea.
I’ve always loved that song. My mom listens to all that era of music and so I’d grown up listening to those oldie songs. That one always stuck up to me just because it’s so catchy and so funny, so I thought it was a great way to show some more personality to the band that we were willing to kind of have this thing that wasn’t so serious about us as well in taking that chorus and making it a very meaningful thing to the band but also still sounding familiar. It actually fits so damn well in the song. Yeah, exactly! When we were just joking around about it, we were like “We can’t deny that sounds good.” [laughs] I mean, the song sounds great because the original melody sounds so awesome. Lesley Gore did all the work for us. [laughs]
GRAVEYARD SHIFT IS OUT NOW VIA ROADRUNNER RECORDS musicandriots.com
STYLISH, DEFIANT &
& VICIOUSly SMART Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Angel Zayas
The blues, punk, garage rock outfit that emerged from the dirty streets of New York City are back after 17 years with a brand new full-length. The mighty Boss Hog - the five piece led by Cristina Martinez with the fantastic assistance from her husband Jon Spencer - have returned in great fashion. It was about Brood X, rock music, social conscious music, and time that we talked with the always fierce Cristina Martinez.
et’s start with an obvious question. It’s been 17 years since Boss Hog’s last full-length album [2000’s Whiteout]. Why is that? There was no real reason why we didn’t other than our lives, we were just busy doing other stuff. Jon was very busy with the Blues Explosion and Heavy Trash, Mickey Finn, who’s a new member of the band was in other bands, I was raising our child and then I went back to work because… when you have a son that is in school you can’t leave all the time. [laughs] I chose to be at home for him, be the anchor so there was something that was constant and solid in his life. I took that responsibility very seriously. People choose to raise their children in many different ways, I just thought important for me to stay here for him. He was an only child, if we have had a lot of children it would be different. [laughs] We continue to play music, we went in a couple of tours… we remained somehow active but on a very casual schedule. When we were invited to do things that seemed fun and easy, we would take them and as long as they worked into everybody’s schedule. And then after a while we just realized that we had written a lot of material and it would be fun to put out a record… and that’s the way Boss Hog has really always operated. We’re not on someone’s timetable. It’s a very fun, loose, and easy band. It was just the right time. What made you want to return with a new EP, last year’s Brood Star, and now a new album, Brood X? Was there something specific that made you want to return? The great songs. It was driven by how many really… we were very excited about these songs. We had a lot of material, like we had written over a period four or five years and we had something like 200 beginnings of songs. It used to be that we would record everything on cassettes and then you would go home after practices and listen to the cassette to see if there was anything there and, you know, sometimes I didn’t want to do the cassette because it was a pain in the ass to listen to a cassette with the fast forward and the back and forth. Now in the age of mp3s there are no excuses. [laughs] It’s so easy to listen to what you just did and it’s so easy to get a really good recording of what you just did that we had hours upon hours of really great material that it seemed that it was our responsibility. [laughs] Boss Hog is a great band, I love the band and I thought people would want to hear these songs if they were good. I thought they shouldn’t just die without anyone hearing them. I felt compelled to share it. I haven’t heard that for a while. Usually artists are only interested in talking about self-expression and very rarely they mention the will to just make great songs.
Maybe they’re not thinking of it. Really that’s what compels us, “Wow, this is really great. Let’s put it out there.” Once you have fifty of those things that are just saying, “Hey, this is a really good song. So fun to play, so fun to listen to,” then you can’t just let it sit there. I feel that way about Boss Hog a little bit. I feel it’s sometimes not remembered properly or given its due diligence. I think we are a really great band, so I wanted people to remember and just hear the greatness of these songs, of our point of view. It’s also very different, I think, from most of stuff out there today. I think we’ve managed to keep a very New York/No Wave kind of style in our music. [laughs] And I’m not sure if there’s that much out there today. It’s such a different scene with everything being singles that you share. It was important to us to make a record, a full story, a full rollercoaster ride. You should sit down and listen to this record as a whole and not just pull one song out. I hope people can still manage that. To be honest, I feel like there’s not that much rock ‘n’ roll these days. And I’m talking about honest rock ‘n’ roll, not just music that sounds like rock but doesn’t feel like rock, because there’s plenty of that. I don’t know if you feel the same way. Yeah, I do. I absolutely feel that way. That also compels us. What we’re offering is missing and I feel bad for kids who can’t grow with that. [laughs] It was such an important part of my life. I guess what bothers me is how bands, that are making honest and relevant rock music, are kind of overlooked. I mean, bands that have a political opinion and that are socially conscious, like letlive. and Algiers, for example. I can understand when people don’t want to politicize their art. It’s a personal choice as to whether or not you want to speak about social issues or keep it fun, light, and easy. It’s also nice to have an escape from all that troubles us and to have music… that’s why disco happened. [laughs] Just complete escapism. And that worries me. Especially when we’re in a deep human crisis with so many fucked up things going on in the world right now. Absolutely. One thing that I’ve heard here after the [Trump] election, which I think is kind of surprising but interesting, is that it takes this sort of global shake-up – and believe me, I do think we are in a very, deep human crisis right now on so many levels – to make really good art and music. People become more aware or awake during moments of crisis and the art gets much better because of it. I don’t know if that’s the case but in the 60s there was a lot of protests and it was because of what was happening. A lot of protest music came about… I’m curious to see if that’s going to happen this way, if that will be the case. If a lot of people will start being more social conscious and trying to get the message out, and to wake up other people to activate other people to bring them to the table to do what we can from whatever you are standing. It will be interesting to see if that is the case. I can’t imagine otherwise
because I think so many people are so hurt, dispirited, shaken up, and in shock about what’s happening. What choice do we have but to go out and motivate people to do something about it? Too long we’ve been sleeping and enjoying sitting around and not doing anything, hoping that the world would improve on its own. In the big picture I think we do always get a little better, but very slowly, and we had such a big surge especially in this country in the Obama years. We had eight years of marching forward at a steady pace, always forward and progression, and now we are going to take this giant step backwards. It’s up to us, who have voices, rally everyone to not accept that and to continue move people forward and not let them be complacent or accept this terrible occurrence. Do you really think the Obama years were moving forward? I do. It’s not linear. Not everything that a progressive mind wanted done got done, but there was a lot that did get done and it was all moving in the right direction. Some things very slowly and some things at least they didn’t go any further back. But that’s how I believe… like in Buddhism, the path to enlighten is through the middle. You cannot just have one mindset when you have a country as economically diverse, and as ethnically diverse and ours. It’s very difficult to move everybody always forward and at the pace you want it to go. It’s nearly impossible. Was he perfect? Absolutely not. Did he move us in right direction? I absolutely do think so. On social issues, on taking care of our infrastructure issues not so great, but… passing the Affordable Care Act, which people call the “Obamacare”, trying to take care of our own and giving everyone access to health care. Legalizing gay marriage, women’s rights for equal pay and equal work, maintaining federal funding for Planned Parenthood. I think there’s a lot of good done and great social progress that he kept in place. In his last few days he signed a bunch of land to National Park Service land so that they can’t be explored for fracking and oil, so we’re protecting our environment, and he also signed the Paris climate accord. There’s a shit tone of stuff that he did that I think it was really progressive and great, and we were going in the right direction. Hopefully, it’s not all and done by this fucking crazy clown. I hope that we can get him out of office and impeach him as soon as possible. It’s been 17 years, and that means that you’re now talking to a new generation – there will be people listening to your album that weren’t born when you released 2000’s Whiteout. Has that thought cross your mind while you were creating this album? You know, it’s interesting because my son is nineteen and he listens to music that’s very different from ours. While I don’t think about that at all while I’m writing or I don’t think who’s gonna listen to it at all, it’s more like, “This is great! Everyone wants to hear it.” [laughs] But when we’re playing it around in our house listening back to what we’ve done it’s very interesting to hear my son’s take on it. That was something that was new. I’m happy to say that he thinks it’s great… well, I don’t if he’s only saying that to please his
INTERVIEW // BOSS HOG
“It’s such a different scene with everything being singles that you share. It was important to us to make a record, a full story, a full rollercoaster ride.” mother. [laughs] He makes music himself completely different from what we make – but I think he appreciates it. He said it sounded like “Cool, old New York rock.” [laughs] He’s very honest, he sends it right home and tells you exactly… There aren’t many rock ‘n’ roll bands, like we were talking about earlier. Now people just cut shit up on their computer and they lay a beat down, sing over it, and it’s a fucking genius. But it’s not the band experience. When he goes to shows he’s watching people rap over pre-recorded music, which I think is the strangest thing. But yeah, I didn’t think about it but I think is still relevant and I hope from all ages can enjoy it and get something from it. I really want to encourage kids to go see live bands… I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have the chance to go dance around in a moshpit when I was young. [laughs] That’s how we sweated out all our aggression and all the teenage angst that you feel growing up. And it felt good to be a part of a community also. You are a proud mother of a boy that – if I’m not mistaken – is now in college. Such is the irony of life that in 95 you were screaming “Fuck school” on “Ski
Bunny”, a track of your self-titled album. That’s a thing I’m guessing it changes someone, at least in a more individual level. Has being a mother changed how you approach your art? [laughs] Yeah. I think I was more… When I go back and have to sing those sings, in order to perform them well, you have to be 100% behind the lyrics. You have to find a way to reinvent what that’s about and not trip on the words. So, maybe when I was first singing that I was thinking very literal about school and now the way I sing it I’m not… it’s a song of rebellion. I sort of have to shift back to think more about different kinds of rebellion or rebellion in my mind to really give the song the energy that needs when you sing that song. Yeah, I think it’s hilarious because now I’m arguing with my son to stay in school. [laughs] But sometimes is a struggle really because yeah, I’m not the same person I was twenty or thirty years ago. We’re constantly evolving and learning. There’s a couple times where we talked about guns, shooting, and killing, and of course we never meant it literally… It’s something about painting a picture and a story. But yeah, I’m very conscious about that now when I write. I try to make a
wiggle room there for me always to shift it ever so slightly. What about the album title Brood X? What did you want to convey with it? Brood X refers to a certain brood of cicadas. Cicada is an insect that goes underground or years and lives there. There are different types. There’s the seventeen-year cicada, which is why I thought it was funny, a thirteen-year cicada, and a yearly cicadia. So, they go underground, they live there, some as a long as seventeen years, feeding off roots of trees, and then all come out at the same time, so there’s like one brood that emerges every seventeen years. It comes out of the ground, it crawls up the tree, and it breaks out of its shelf and becomes this insect with wings that in the summer you can hear at night. I thought it made sense because we disappeared underground for seventeen years and now we’ve emerged doing this beautiful noise and then… we’ll go away again. [laughs] I thought it was like Boss Hog and I love cicadas.
BROOD X IS OUT NOW VIA IN THE RED RECORDS musicandriots.com
KENDRICK LAMAR DAMN.
Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope (2017)
here is an intimidating aura surrounding Kendrick Lamar – the erstwhile Kung Fu Kenny; his last album To Pimp A Butterfly succeeded in not only capturing a weird and conscientious zeitgeist, it also became the defining soundtrack of a particularly ugly period in America’s history. Along the same lines as Bob Dylan during L B Johnsons reign, Lamar became the voice of the Black Lives Matter generation, the disassociated African American population – both the layman and the celebrities of colour, all grasped and held it in stupefying and lofty heights of praise. It wasn’tjust an album anymore, it became a slice of history. So, with whispers coming fast and furious about his new release being ready to drop – both the music industry and fans who had followed his every move since good kid, m.A.A.d city held their breath eagerly awaiting to find out what new cut would be. I confess, I was one of them and I was not disappointed, however I was surprised by it. Very, very surprised. DAMN. is a very different beast compared to To Pimp A Butterfly. Butterfly… was a jazz infused, poetic album of tactical lyrical precision, while DAMN. is a lot more scattershot, a lot more organic, a rougher, rawer release. Don’t think for a second though that Kung Fu Kenny has lost his edge, his razorsharp delivery is still there
– in fact – it’s clearer than ever, it’s more versatile, it’s more contemplative, more thoughtful but no less abrasive and penetrating. This is a man who isn’t scared of any topic, any subject matter. A man not scared to turn his magnifying glass from the outside inward and explore his own demons and struggles. DAMN. is a revelation of ideas, function and form. This is an album of a man who has been turned into this messianic figure by his fanbase and followers and now has no idea who or what he is supposed to be, an intricate, explorative and forensic disassembling of the man, by the man, to find out what kind of man he really is. It’s fascinating, daunting and bleak – in the most
extraordinarily optimistic ways – an album of songs, rather than singles. An album of ideas and introspective thoughts rather than retrospective views. The tracks in bold capitals as statements of his point by point manifesto – his treatise on who Kendrick Lamar is, was and will be from this point forward. After he systematically kills his ego with opening track “BLOOD” – any ideas of who Kendrick was before this album is dead with the solitary gunshot that follows his good deed – the album cascades into the first track proper – “DNA” - which is a recipe of what makes him who he is – “I got, I got, I got… Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA… I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in
AGENT BLÅ Agent blue
Kanine Records (2017)
For such a young band - the members are from 17 to 20 years old - Agent blå have just delivered on their debut album, Agent blue, a competent and diverse set of songs. The quintet from Gothenburg, Sweden, combines post-punk, dream pop and even goth rock, creating these gloomy and dark melodies that will weirdly enough warm your heart and soul. Their young spirit and angst to do something with a meaning is just captivating. Each beat, each riff, and each lyric are packed with a unique and impressive energy and vivacity. Agent blue is a roller coaster of emotions and experiences that reminds us of all those concerns and challenges we go through on our teenage years. ANDREIA ALVES
ALL THAT REMAINS Madness
Eleven Seven Music (2017)
They’ve had their share of stick along the way, but there’s little denying that Massachusetts natives heavyweights All That Remains have gigantic balls when it comes to doing things on their own and always with a bold ambition. For their eighth full-length album, Madness, they went to the studio with the legendary producer Howard Benson and created perhaps their best album yet. Somewhere between Five Finger Death Punch’s War is The Answer and Sevendust’s Animosity, Madness is a strong and old-fashioned rock-metal hybrid with massive possible radio hits and with frontman Phil Labonte at his best, totally stripped down of bullshit and once again fully honest. FAUSTO CASAIS
my DNA… I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA…” he gives a roll out of facts of his idealistic view of what makes a king, not just a celebrity. Much like his poem “NEGUS” at the end of “i” on To Pimp A Butterfly, this is his examination of the heritage of his colour, and a bold statement to an entire population to rise above and to remember they are better than the treatment they have survived. He never tries to inflame the feeling of disassociation, of detachment and of solitude. He tries to positively highlight the importance of ownership of the idea of self, and self-awareness, of taking responsibility for an idea, thought and action. DAMN. is great. A solid, near perfect
album. It challenges, it questions and it pushes boundaries. Where Butterfly... was a bold musical and lyrical exploration, DAMN. is a reaction to the former, and a treatise on letting your reputation run away with itself. His tongue is firmly in his cheek in “HUMBLE.”, but don’t think for a second he doesn’t know how important he is right now. King Kendrick is back, and he is as bold, brilliant and effective as ever. This is an album to pour over for months - if not years - to come, and it is a touch paper lit under the ass of hip hop by the master and commander. Long live King Kunta.
ALL THEM WITCHES Sleeping Through The War New West Records (2017)
Nashville’s All Them Witches have managed to combine 50 years of rock into a single sound. Sleeping Through The War is a long, winding trip that moves from Berkeley ballad to Joshua Tree stoner rock with ease. Unpredictable at every turn, there are Delta blues moments, fuzzed out guitar riffs and psychedelic loops that create a kaleidoscopic soundscape. With half of the tracks stretching past six minutes, there are plenty of opportunities for monotony which Witches avoid entirely, filling their allotted time with Johnny Cash-esque vocals, harmonica solos or twangy, reverberating guitars. Sleeping Through The War is broad in its appeal and complex in its ability to combine influences yet remain singular. TEDDIE TAYLOR
ANIMAL YOUTH Animal
Weyrd Son Records (2017)
Brussels’ trio Animal Youth was born from the ashes of noise-punk band Siamese Queens and Animal is their debut album. Channelling their influences with splashes of The Smiths, The Jesus and Mary Chain and A Place To Bury Strangers, just to name a few, Animal is dark and almost a sadistic romantic affair, where love is just seeking space to storm into. Perversely genuine, almost sounding like a sustained exercise of minimalist post-punk with the idiosyncratic energy of noise rock, it challenges the listener with its confrontational attitude. So, if you’re having any kind love problems, this might a good start to clear your mind - even if sometimes its drama and filthy doses of reality kill the mood. Animal is full of top notch melodies and lethal introspection. FAUSTO CASAIS
Relapse Records (2017)
Ambient, trance-y, space rock futurism
from Toronto; a town that never really went by the usual way of things, Austra, their latest export onto the music world at large, are a chimaera of influences and inspirations – that exist almost head and shoulders above all of them, existing simultaneously side by side in comparison – and several levels above. A pleasingly dramatic turn of events. A synth lead, electronica outfit, with vocals that invoke flashes of Björk, Florence, Lana Del Ray and Sia – but transcend the lazy comparisons wth a dynamisms and a drive all its own. Future Politics is a pretty serious evolution in what popular,mainstream electronic rock/pop can sound – its follows familiar paths, but trail-blazes new ground with a serious core that allows it to bloom with the repeated listens. This is an astounding album, that really makes the band stand out amongst a crowd of wannabes and show-offs as real contenders to the throne. A real gem, a genuine jewel in the crown. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
FILE UNDER: Florence & the Machine, Lady GaGa, Fever Ray
Arcadea is drummer-vocalist Brann Dailor (Mastodon), guitarist & keyboardist Core Atoms (Zruda), and guitarist Raheem Amlani (Withered) on synth. Arcadea is that spectacular spin-off that achieves a cult-legend status… or so it seems and sounds. Their self-titled debut album takes a bit of the wonderful world Mastodon created with 2009’s masterpiece Crack The Skye and takes it to a more psychedelic and lush upbeat world. It’s a synth-laden progressive, psychedelic, and synth odyssey that lives in the most retro world (arcade games are a good reference) where 8-bit is wrapped around with delightful melodies, crazy harmonies, and a seemingly will to act deranged at all the times. Arcadea is freaky, groovy, weird, but also ravishing and incredibly fulfilling. TIAGO MOREIRA
This is Black Lips’ first album in three years, and they still sound raw and do whatever they want. If there’s a band out there that truly screams DIY ethic, the Atlanta flower garage-punk pioneers are that band. Produced by Sean Lennon at his studio compound in upstate New York, Satan’s Graffiti or God’s Art? can’t be ignored. Their sound has broadened and moving away from their punk roots. Now, everything sounds more expansive and even more raw, bringing an entirely late 60’s early 70’s retro/ rock sheen to their fuzzy psychedelic rock n’roll. Not saying that they’ve reinvented themselves, but they successfully are not misplacing their calling cards, at times they still stray into Stones and The Sonics territory, but they do so with enough brio to get away with it. FAUSTO CASAIS
AYE NAKO Silver Haze
BLOOD COMMAND Cult Drugs
Don Giovanni Records (2017)
AUSTRA Future Politics
BLACK LIPS Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art?
Fysisk Format (2017)
Silver Haze is the second full-length by New York City’s Aye Nako. It’s hard to leave politics and social awareness out of any conversation these days, and music is no exception. This collection of feral, confrontational and empowering anthems is very effective and strangely addictive. It bounces between Nirvana’s Bleach, Pixies’ Doolittle and pop-punk’s classic melodic catchiness. It’s noisy and minimalist, full of ear-wormy choruses. Repetitiveness is a not a problem on Silver Haze, the lyrical complexity tackles subjects that people seem to ignore or run away from. This is an album that will enrage and enthrall you in equal measure. FAUSTO CASAIS
Blood Command return with a new album, new line-up and another set of bold, fierce melodic and provocative tracks. Cult Drugs is another political sharp statement and another crucial milestone in the career of Blood Command. To put it simply, this is the sound of a band pushing themselves to the limit, and undoubtedly delivering their best in every single aspect. Somewhere between The Sounds’ Dying To Says This To You and Refused masterpiece The Shape Of Punk To Come, Cult Drugs is a catchy and frenetic chaos, full of singalongs and hymns that will stick in your head for days. The perfect soundtrack for these troubled and fucked up times. FAUSTO CASAIS
BIG WALNUTS YONDER Big Walnuts Yonder
BLOOD YOUTH Beyond Repair
Sargent House (2017)
Big Walnuts Yonder is bassist/vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). For all the right reasons, they should be called a supergroup, but according to Mike Watt’s wise words: “It’s worlds colliding”. This is a taunt collection of experimental and unashamedly raw methodic tunes that defies any kind of categorization, a cacophony of genres that goes from proto-punk to free jazz, from noise to psych rock. Uneasy listening at its best but strangely mesmerizing and addictive. Not to mention, the album artwork was made by the influential and legendary artist Raymond Pettibon. FAUSTO CASAIS
Rude Records (2017)
Making a huge leap from last year’s also ace Closure EP, Beyond Repair is an uplifting, energetic and ferocious return from a band that keeps pushing the intensity of their sound to the limit. The most striking thing about Blood Youth’s debut full-length is the incredible sense of tension they display, catching the perfect harmony between aggression and emotion, but at the same time they’re able to bring a brutal bleakness to their own trademark sound. Beyond Repair is an angry, passionate and full-hearted effort, everything feels very real and direct, and it’s already setting high new standards for Blood Youth. FAUSTO CASAIS
WHITE STRIPES EVERY TIME I DIE NIRVANA
‘68 Two Parts Viper
Cooking Vinyl (2017)
Norma Jean and The Chariot helped Josh Scogin achieve the hero status for thousands
of people. The rock duo ’68 – Scogin and Michael McClellan – sediments all the brilliancy of Scogin as a performer, songwriter, and artist… especially with the duo’s sophomore album, Two Parts Viper. The album that follows the electrifying In Humor and Sadness (the band’s debut album) is a testimony to Scogin’s wit and ends up as a memorable and overwhelming manifestation with a dynamically imposing sound that rages from the most aggressive and intense to the most calm and clinically sounding moments. Two Parts Viper is an amazing rock album, an album that encompasses more details, depth, energy, and overall boldness that we could have hoped for. TIAGO MOREIRA
BRAVEYOUNG Misery And Pride The Flenser (2017)
There comes a time when the most punk BLOODOFITO International Law Self-Released (2017)
Strange and heartening how experimental noise is bringing some of the most exciting elements in today’s music. International Law is Bloodofito’s debut album and one of the weirdest sonic experiences you will have this year, whose cerebral and minimalist noise cacophony will leave you intrigued and fucking numb, as if somehow you were run over by a painful wall of noise, where you can’t move and can’t feel a thing. Somewhere between Pharmakon’s lunacy, Author & Punisher’s abstract complexity and Prurient’s noisy approach, International Law is pure musical ambition with a creative scope making this album an intensely rewarding experience. FAUSTO CASAIS
BOSS HOG Brood X
In The Red Records (2017)
Boss Hog – the brainchild of Jon Spencer and Cristina Martinez created in 1989 – are back after 17 years with a brand new full-length album. An entire generation has gone by and many things have changed. Brood X, which follows last year’s Brood Star EP, shows a band unwilling to change some aspects of their personality. The New Yorkbased band comes off with the same contagious swag that comes from an explosive and infectious mixture of punk, blues, rock, and an overall militant attitude. Brood X is a collection of great songs, one after the other, by a band that thrives in producing dangerous and sexually incendiary music. Rock is dirty, grimy, and politically conscious once again. TIAGO MOREIRA
thing to do is to stop for a moment and become invisible. When everyone seem to lack moral fiber; when music festivals become catwalks for fashion enthusiasts and social peacocks; when protesting becomes a joyful march of smiles, smart-ass jokes and millions of pictures posted on Instagram; when so called artists do whatever they do merely out of shock-value; when everyone around us seem to be imprisoned by social media and the dictatorship of the appearance, maybe the best we can do is to stop, to be invisible, to do something an entire generation seems to have forgotten: to reflect. BraveYoung’s second LP alludes the same sense of Orwellian bleakness, political obscurity and mass stupidification denounced by acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. A beautiful piece that craves for introspection. RICARDO ALMEIDA
At the Drive In's first release in 15 years, in•ter a•li•a joins just enough of the old with the new
AT THE DRIVE IN in•ter a•li•a
Rise Records (2017)
for 11 fiery tracks. In the decade and a half that has elapsed since the release of what many consider the bands most distinguished effort, 2000's Relationship of Command, the group has kept exceptionally busy. With almost too many projects to count forming and dissolving over the years, it was hard to imagine the five members, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Tony Hijjar, Paul Hinojos, Omar Rodríguez-López and Jim Ward would ever play together again. 2012 saw a brief reunion that brought in mixed reviews for the band, and unfortunately Ward has since decided not to partake in the latest reunion. The remaining four members have since shifted back into their signature manic flare for post-hardcore. in•ter a•li•a brings some new experimentation more reminiscent of Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López's The Mars Volta, while providing just enough nostalgia to keep old fans satisfied. JAMIE VAN BEVEREN
Hassle Records / Sargent House (2017)
Hailing from Leuven, Belgium, Brutus deliver a mean line in jagged, disjointed, angular alternative rock. Stealing beats from bands as diverse as Queen Adreena, The Distillers and Truckfighters – they create a cacophonic noise of guitars that are designed to shred oxygen to ribbons, machine gun drums and bass that is as dense as it is heavy, as booming as it is thumping. Vocally, it is a punky, angry howl of banshees screams and wails. Burst is an inch away from pure hardcore, filtered through alternative rock and delivered through a doom bands PA. It’s a soup of sound, a giant, cosmic headfuck of an album, and one that penetrates into the core of you and beats you bloody and blue. In a word – it’s fucking perfect. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
CAN’T SWIM Fail You Again
Pure Noise Records (2017)
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH The Tourist
After last year’s excellent Death Deserves A Name EP, Can’t Swim return with another collection of ambitious, intelligent and brilliant songs. Fail You Again, their debut album is not going to be confined by any kind of trends over the next five to ten years, not only because it has the potential to be a true classic but also become a game-changer for the pop-punk genre. This album is the whole package; a perfect balance of top notch songwriting, an impressive vocal delivery and lyrical content. Fail You Again is not your average punk effort, it’s really melodic and at the same time very introspective, angry and dreamy. This is a record so richly involving and creative and there’s not a weak moment in it. FAUSTO CASAIS
Cyhsy Inc (2017)
Alex Ounsworth is a goddamned genius. Fact, no arguing, no debate – its a statement of fact. CYHSY! – his band, is a tour de force in lyrical invention, pure pop sensibility built on the foundation of what Rock music should be doing. This, his fourth LP, is a collection of music that delves deeper into his mind and soul than ever before – revealing darker edges, more startling revelations of the man and his desires and drives. “A Chance To Cure” is a breathtaking piece of songwriting that drags you running through a field of emotions and leaves you breathless and shaking on a platform edge as a train hurtles past inches from you. He creates world in sound and populates it with your heart and mind and soul and leaves you nestled and safe in his creations. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
REVIEWS FILE UNDER:
LEONARD COHEN MAZZY STAR THE SMITHS
CODE ORANGE Forever
Roadrunner Records (2017)
Code Orange have deconstructed the defi-
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX Cigarettes After Sex Partisan Records (2017)
nition of hardcore and rewritten it for themselves. In 2014, I Am King placed the band on a pedestal that seemed insurmountable, but their Roadrunner Records debut dethroned its predecessor with ease. Unafraid to explore with their sonic palette, Forever is risky, strange and explosive. With sinister electronics and the trio of vocals that accompany the kidney punch of every abysmal breakdown, Code Orange are propelled beyond any pre-existing genre confines. The opening title track is pure, unbridled hardcore/metalcore/punk Code Orange, but by the closing tracks, “Hurt Goes On” and “dream2,” they’ve wandered into an experimental, 90s-esque territory that is unexpected, yet completely in line with the whiplash that Forever causes. In spite of the surprisingly catchy, radio-friendly “Bleeding In The Blur,” the group manages to avoid cliches or mainstream predictability. Most impressively, this album displays the skill with which Code Orange can alter their sound and still keep their identity. Forever exists at an intersection of genres that have been skillfully melded to yield a powerful, innovative and massive auditory assault. TEDDIE TAYLOR
FILE UNDER: Oathbreaker, Nails, Trapped Under Ice
After the phenomenal online success of
2015’s epic song “Affection” and the subsequent re-discovery of an earlier Cigarettes After Sex EP, we’ve already knew that they were aiming for something big, but we were definitely not ready for this kind of immersive, romantic and heart-stopping cinematic approach, probably the most lyrical stripped down effort in ages. Mainman Greg Gonzalez’s arresting and simultaneously vulnerable voice is like a dreamlike journey that guides us into memories of past loves, life itself and cinematic experiences. Perfectly balanced between Mazzy Star’s abrasive and poetic romantic dream-popesque, Red House Painters’ Down Colorful Hill sonic avalanche of emotions, Angelo Badalamenti’s edgy obscurity of Twin Peaks soundtrack and Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel raw and moving direction, Cigarettes After Sex self-titled debut is addictive, boldly dark, striking confessional and audacious sexualised. Clearly influenced by The Smiths and Morrissey’s lyrical approach, Gonzalez’s words makes you think they are very straightforward and detailed, like cinematic stories of adult life with an imaginative and FAUSTO CASAIS intellectual twist.
CREEPER Eternity, In Your Arms
Roadrunner Records (2017)
Creeper are a band which have lit up the punk scene with a brand of honest, story driven, songs put together beautifully. The Southampton act, serve up Eternity, In Your Arms, an album solidifying their impact and genuine talent. It’s also a record of masterful substance, layer upon layer showcasing belief and song-writing excellence. There’s dark fables bubbling throughout the opus too, with words building scenes and love creating drama. And love seems to cause havoc, burning hope kick-starting niggling pain. To be truthful, the album is stunning, and the punk edged guitar lines intertwine wonderfully with the sneering vocals on tracks including “Suzanne” and “Darling”. But, it’s a soft track that burns brightly. “Crickets” is the song which cools the album down and bursts open the banks. Truly astounding! MARK MCCONVILLE
DARKEST HOUR Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora Profound Lore (2017)
The D.C. metal pioneers are back with their ninth full-length album, Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora, which is their most powerful and best record yet. Right from the start, it’s evident why this new effort is more brutal, more solid and more fucking metal, the in your face old school punk/hardcore screams passion and energy, along with an irresistible, breakneck death-metal crushing intensity. The band’s songwriting maturity is evident in tunes like opener “Knife In The Safe Room” and the epic “Enter Oblivion”. With top notch production from the always great Kurt Ballou, Godless Prophets & The Migrant Flora is a ferocious and relentlessly brilliant effort, from a band that keeps breaking new grounds over and over again. FAUSTO CASAIS
CRYSTAL FAIRY Crystal Fairy Ipecac (2017)
ombining the best of its members’ various projects, Crystal Fairy is, not surprisingly, a supergroup that lives up to Internet hype. Teri Gender Bender, Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Omar RodríguezLópez succeed in merging their respective backgrounds to create the perfectly balanced Crystal Fairy. There are notes of the Melvins, Le Butcherettes and At The Drive-In present throughout the record, yet it avoids seeming like rehashed demos. Contrary to the light connotations of the band’s name, the sound and lyrical subject material is heavy, gritty and dynamic. Each song explores a different area of its creators’ repertoires, with the predatory groove of “Moth Tongue” leading into the upbeat, punk influenced title track and on to the Spanish vocals and sludgy riffs of “Secret Agent Rat.” Let us hope that Crystal Fairy isn’t a one-album project.
X Ray Records (2017)
Just when we thought that nothing could surprise us or even excite us inside our immaturity and
FILE UNDER: Jucifer, Red Fang, Queens of the Stone Age
arrogance bubble anymore, here comes multi-instrumentalist Jenny Logan aka Deathlist to shake us to the core and bring some sense into our fucked up, terrible musical tastes. With all her musical deconstruction, it’s easy for the listener to feel overwhelmed and shaken, and that feeling feels so good and cathartic in every single way. The complexity throughout the whole effort is challenging, emotionally exhausting, but at the same time, devastating and tremendously addictive. There’s something thrilling and intriguing about Deathlist’s debut album, perhaps that’s down to the fact that it somehow manages to sound dreamy, dark and cerebral all at the same time. This is a mind-blowing and dynamic effort, a fantastical treat! FAUSTO CASAIS
DAVE HAUSE Bury Me In Philly
DEAF HAVANA All These Countless Nights
Rise Records (2017)
So Recordings (2017)
If you are fan of the legendary Dave Hause (Paint It Black, The Loved Ones, The Falcon among others), even if you just went through some of his songs, and think something like: “Well, this isn’t so bad”, you should make sure that you’re going listen to Hause’s new effort. We already know that’s too early to say this, but Bury Me In Philly is a strong contender to figure in a bunch of end of the year lists. Dave Hause was always good, he always had good songs and strong solid records, but Bury Me In Philly is easily one of the best things he ever done. I’ve never been to East Coast, or even the US, but if I had to guess its soundtrack, this would be for sure the one. MILJAN MILEKIC
Now, this record is something of a revelation, a monumental rock triumph, and it all comes from hurt hearts and bruised minds. All These Countless Nights is Deaf Havana’s compendium of emotional belters, complete with punchy riffs and breath-taking lyrics. Leading man James Veck-Gilodi matches his vocals with sneers of regret too. He’s numb, and showcases words that describe his relationship with alcohol, giving listeners an insight into his crippling mindset. He’s a wordsmith, there’s no doubt that, and he’s gifted as well as the rest of the band. And every track is a stellar reminder of Deaf Havana’s musical prowess. Songs such as “Fever” and “Sing” eliminate any unconvincing notions. MARK MCCONVILLE
Rude Records (2017)
Decade have hit the nail on the head with Pleasantries. A collection of songs of purpose and foundation, built on lyrical play. The English band, propel even further with their equipped sound, coordinating an arena stance. It won’t be long until the act stand proudly upon the big stages, as they’ve developed music which hits the bones. Their eyes are set on the prize, their sweat has gone into the creation of a stellar, ultimately, colossal record. The standout tracks include the bold and guitar blitz of “Turn Off your TV” and the emotion fuelled “Wasted”. It really is Decade’s time to shine even more. MARK MCCONVILLE
FATHER JOHN MISTY Pure Comedy
Bella Union / Sub Pop (2017)
n the past, Father John Misty has been compared to the late Jim Morrison. The pair have created intelligent, humorous and relevant characters who are as captivating as their music. Pure Comedy is the record that will solidify Josh Tillman in the annals of music alongside Tom Waits, James Taylor and Carole King as a master of the written
and spoken/sung word. As an entire package, the new era of Father John Misty is necessary; in an age of chaos and lies, his latest thirteen tracks are sincere, sarcastic stories of the modern state of humanity. “Just wait until the part where they start to believe they’re at the center of everything and some all powerful being endowed this horror show with meaning…” Covering topics ranging from love and politics to religion and Taylor Swift, the lyrics of Pure Comedy are standalone poetry to be revered and read with an analytical eye. The instrumental background of strings and keys on which he paints his words are simple and lighthearted com
pared to the complex, meaningful lines he sings. The smoothest, most serene moments are those which are the most sardonic upon second listen. Father John Misty’s intentionally pretentious and strangely humorous Internet presence coupled with his latest creation are proof of his genius there is purpose to every social media post, piece of merchandise and convoluted combination of words. Pure Comedy is the epitome of wit, truth and incandescent beauty. It is the finest work Father John Misty has offered thus far and it is a work of importance and of the present. TEDDIE TAYLOR
FILE UNDER: Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent, Neutral Milk Hotel musicandriots.com
DIET CIG Swear I’m Good At This Frechkiss Records (2017)
Diet Cig are the dynamic duo Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums). In 2015 they released their infectious and charming first EP, Over Easy, which introduced them to the world as a very promising act. Swear I’m Good At This is their much-awaited debut album and it’s filled with personal and delightful lo-fi pop-punk tunes. It’s awkwardly cathartic with Alex expressing her own feelings and issues through her lyrics, and that’s quite refreshing. Even though the duo’s chemistry and songwriting is impressive, Swear I’m Good At This is more of a nice and easy album to listen to, nothing more than that. ANDREIA ALVES
EARTHEN SEA An Act Of Love Kranky (2017)
Mmmm, but this is nice. It’s quite possible you feel the need for some soothing cleansing right now, a perfumed bubble bath for your ever more stricken soul. In which case, this latest release from San Francisco-based producer Jacob Long should temporarily heal any lingering wounds and smooth down furrowed and tense brows. Long states the album was the productive outcome from an emotionally difficult and stressful period, yet in An Act of Love you can hear the willingness to move forward in one’s life, reclaim it as your own and refuse to be defined by other’s limited notions of your being and self. A glistening ambient suite for wandering city streets at night, lost but safe in a weightless dub cocoon. There is nothing that can harm you here. EUAN ANDREWS
For an album sharing its release date with Donald Trump’s inauguration, Foxygen’s newest effort is oddly fitting to a world where fact is consistently getting stranger than fiction. Engulfed in light – sometimes stage lights, sometimes LA sunshine – Hang is the perfect brand of theatrical folly America needs to counteract the growing shadow cast by its new presidency. Recorded with a 40-piece orchestra, it is an invigorating, beautifully composed homage to the maximalism and theatricality of 70’s glam rock that is as ostentatious as it is self-parodying. Unlike the 24 tracks of its predecessor …And Star Power, Hang presents a more cohesive vision in its 8 tracks while presenting Foxygen at their best; unapologetically flamboyant, a touch dramatic, and always fun. ANTIGONI PITTA STAFF PICK
DIRTY PROJECTORS Dirty Projectors Domino (2017)
As Kanye West broke the status quo of his rap format in 2008 with 808s & Heartbreak, a work that was later recognized as having influence also in pop songs, Dirty Projectors comes up with the same attitude of remaking its course. Within each theme, there are silences that bump into noise, voices restructured by effects, which create bewilderment on the listener’s attention, sometimes giving rise to beautiful moments (“Little Bubble”) and some confused moments (“Work Together”). David Longstreth’s latest album is disruptive, even while retaining his identity (untouchable). David throws himself at his monsters in every possible way: R&B, rap, soul, folk, electronic influences are poured into Pop mirages, which will soon become a reality for other artists. RUI CORREIA
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE The Time Between Us (Split EP) Sargent House (2017)
The Time Between Us split EP seamlessly pairs Emma Ruth Rundle and Jaye Jayle (Evan Patterson of Young Widows) for six poignant tracks. Coming off the release of her well received third solo record, last year’s Marked For Death, Rundle’s scintillating and moving three song selection further asserts her prowess as an unyielding and genuine song writer sure to captivate listeners with her sirens’ song for years to come. Jaye Jayle, also fresh off the 2016 release of his debut solo record, House Cricks and Other Excuses to Get Out brings a decidedly Southern flair to a strong assemblage of three new blues tinged, hazy tracks that will undoubtedly keep your attention. JAMIE VAN BEVEREN
FULL OF HELL Trumpeting Ecstasy Profound Lore (2017)
Full of Hell set out with their ambitious, third fulllength attempt to redefine the current musical extremity. Recorded at the God City Studios with Kurt Ballou and featuring guest appearances from Aaron Turner (Sumac/Old Man Gloom/Mamiffer/ Isis), Nate Newton (Converge/Old Man Gloom), Andrew Nolan (Column Of Heaven), and Canadian singer/songwriter Nicole Dollanganger, Trumpeting Ecstasy is devastating, epic, and utterly mesmerising. The Maryland/Pennsylvania experimental death-noise terrorists have delivered an astounding effort: involving and sonically breathtaking, and it’s a shame that not more bands sound this challenging, but that only makes Full of Hell’s listening experience even more immersive and even more effective. FAUSTO CASAIS STAFF PICK
DUKE GARWOOD Garden Of Ashes
Heavenly Recordings (2017)
FIRST BLOOD Rules
Pure Noise Records (2017)
Standing somewhere between experimental bluesy rock and americanish folk, London-based Duke Garwood is a man who claims to be angry but still prefers to make beautiful music, “because we don’t need angry music right now” – he says. Whether or not we need angry music, it’s not the point here. The point is Duke still finds music to be a place of solace and peace, a sanctuary. Duke’s music points not to a garden of ashes, but a garden among the ashes, a place one can call home and walk hand in hand with a loved one in the midst of the chaos, greed and overall bleakness of mankind. Comforting midnight blues, he calls it “beautiful apocalypse music”. RICARDO ALMEIDA
If you are looking for something new, something fresh and creative, you’re at the wrong place. If you want something melodic to sing along, you’re at the wrong place. If you want heavy, aggressive hardcore, with lyrics that will feel like a punch in a face... Welcome. First Blood may not be the most innovative band ever, but their message, hard work and ethic is something that should be respected. On the thirteen new songs, all of them having the word “rules” in their name band offered everything we could ever asked for. Energy, aggression, amazing grove and most importantly, a reason to think. This is hardcore. MILJAN MILEKIC
GHOST BATH Starmourner
Nuclear Blast (2017)
Ghost Bath’s Starmourner won’t leave you any space to breathe, but why would you want to escape a world filled with melodies and vocals that alternate between desolation and cacophonous beauty? Melodies are cajoling the listener to invest into them and follow their stories. Ghost Bath’s next instalment is not an easy listen as it resembles the Sirens’ temptation. It will lure and ensnare you with its enchanting melodies and hypnotising rhythms offering a promise of delight with a false assurance that you will be able to leave it behind when you please. But once you have let down your defences, it will strike at precisely your most vulnerable points. Dangerous as this may sound, just stay and learn with it. ANASTASIA PSARRA
GIRLPOOL Powerplant Anti- (2017)
FILE UNDER: Chastity Belt, Elliot Smith, Bright Eyes
There’s an instant appeal and gratification to Girlpool’s compositions, which seem to come out
effortlessly. The entire experience becomes quite rapidly overwhelming, and it’s much because of the sense of unity, between Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, that exists and transpires throughout the entire album. Making good music, as much as it is an undeniable accomplishment, doesn’t compare with the connection these two have – just imagine the connection that Elliott Smith and Nick Drake had with their guitars, but in Girlpool’s case that otherworldly connection happens between two people who while in sync deliver some of the most poignant, sensitive and fresh-sounding music. With the addition of drummer Miles Wintner, Girlpool found a whole new sense of dynamism and a way to amplify the weight and height of their vulnerabilities, but also enhance their strengths. Powerplant is a grappling master and it doesn’t take long until you willingly accept the submission. TIAGO MOREIRA
GOLDFRAPP Silver Eye
Mute Records (2017)
GRAILS Chalice Hymnal
Temporary Residence (2017)
Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory return with their first album in four years. Silver Eye was created with the help of an eclectic team of collaborators inlcuding producer John Congleton, electronic composer Bobby Krlic (aka The Haxan Cloak), Brian Eno, just to name a few. Once again, the uncompromising duo brings us another mesmerising outfit change, full of delicate and multi-layered harmonies, emotionally rich with Alison’s voice sounding hypnotic and classy. However, it’s fair to say that’s not easy listening and you might struggle to connect with it at first. They’re not somehow repeating themselves, because they’re not, but at times it sounds safe and is full of flashes of improvisation which can put off some listeners. FAUSTO CASAIS
If it were ever time to retire the ‘post-rock’ tag for Grails (actually, just kill it for music as a whole), it’s now. Chalice Hymnal manages to delve into every avenue of outsider music with equal depth and integrity, from the lackadaisical hypno-jazz of “Deeper Politics” and the title track’s seeming channelling of The Orb right on up to “Pelham”, a song so brimming with action that it really deserves a chase scene to go with it, but there’s little of quiet-loud clichés or sweeping tremolo. There’s drama and gravitas in there for sure but the stories these songs tell are focused on a rich sense of spirituality and warmth, lighter in tone than 2011’s Deep Politics yet retaining its forebear’s instrumental and tonal complexity. It’s one of the most beautiful, diverse and unpredictable albums ever put out by a band who has made such traits their trademark. DAVE BOWES
GREG GRAFFIN Millport Anti- (2017)
Paleontologist, punk legend and country artist Greg Graffin is the epitome of a Renaissance man. Millport is a classic, singer-songwriter record that, from any other Ph.D wielding naturalist, would seem far-stretched; from Graffin, however, the stories feel as authentic and raw as the cracks of the slide guitar. Together with Social Distortion members Jonny ‘Two Bags’ Wickersham, Brent Harding and David Hidalgo Jr., with Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz producing, Millport is a genuine vision of country music as told by punks who grew up with and hold the heyday of Laurel Canyon dear. While not entirely inventive as a whole, Graffin’s decision to avoid any semblance of country twang elevates the effort to a true piece of country infused folk-pop. TEDDIE TAYLOR
DEATH GRIPS CEREBRAL BALLZY BAD BRAINS
Opposite Number (2017)
Four-piece and London-based H.Grimace come out covered in dust with their debut full-length album. Or is that just a simplistic and narrow-minded look at what’s actually going on on Self Architect? Probably both. Their heavily-based post-punk sound is undeniable – we all know where it comes from – but the freshness in which they approach a genre that has four decades of existence sets them apart from the pack. They engage rhythmically – a given, we know – but they also spin it in a myriad of directions with their twisted sense of pop, incursions through weird and dreamy landscapes, and their ability to subvert our expectations. It’s not just what you do, it’s how you fucking do it. TIAGO MOREIRA
HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF The Navigator ATO Records (2017)
Our society is really fucked up at the moment and, now more than ever, there is a need to do something about it. Luckily, there are still bands out there making a change. Alynda Segarra, the creative force behind Hurray for the Riff Raff, made a powerful and strong concept record that goes beyond her own personal narratives. She created a character (the teenager girl Navita Milagros Negrón) that is kind of a heroine to our days, to our generations, to our society. It’s about equality, freedom and making a stand. Her urgency to speak her mind is notable, adding Latin rhythms into her palette of folk, country, blues and rock’n’roll tunes. ANDREIA ALVES
IDRE Unforgivin Landscapes
Wolves And Vibrancy (2017)
Oklahoma City-based trio Idre have returned with their second album. Unforgiving Landscapes is in a way everything we could have hoped for. The production this time is not holding them back and more importantly the band went extremely deep into crafting a sonic world that keeps becoming more singular at each artistic manifestation. Idre’s music burns extremely slow, even for a doom-based band, mostly due to their organic sound that feeds from a very natural and seemingly way from ambient music, gothic, Americana folk, and western scores. It’s hardly digestible, it doesn’t set the most uplifting or even pleasing atmosphere, but it absolutely thrives in sucking in whoever is listening to it and in creating a strong emotional connection. Astonishing! TIAGO MOREIRA
HO9909 United States Of Horror Caroline International (2017)
t the end of the day we all believe in something. We all believe in the creator, whether you believe in God or you don’t believe in God, or whatever that shit is, but… you are a human being, you know what I’m saying? You can let this wheel go right now… God ain’t go fucking grab the wheel and take us back home. Nigga, we gonna crash.” Seven minutes in, the New Jersey rap/punk/noise duo known as Ho99o9 take the time to reflect on the importance of “grabbing the wheel”, just moments after closing a pure raging and violent punk rock track that talks about the importance of street power. On United States of Horror, the duo’s debut album, we are able to see and hear, once again, hip hop and punk coming together in a record that is extremely incendiary, abrasive, violent, but also extremely aware. It’s not always easy to take all the information that Eaddy and theOGM drop at every track, mostly because their approach imitates life itself and its chaotic and confusing nature are often a misty cloud that instigate doubt, but at end of it there’s a puzzle that can and should be pieced together and a sort of light at the end of the tunnel. United States of Horror comes out as a very accurate sonic representation of a wildfire, it’s unpredictable and you’ll eventually burn if you don’t start moving, but in the midst of all the chaos and confusion there’s a band making something singular trying to instigate a response from what seems to be an entire generation ruled by apathy. It’s about protesting, it’s about coming to terms with and assuming our mistakes and errors, but never giving up. Knuckle up because they are carrying the torch of acts like Discharge, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Public Enemy, Dälek, etc., and they don’t look like they will slow down any time soon. At the end of the day, United States of Horror is an outrageous and extremely violent album made by two guys who refuse to be just another body in the pile, who know exactly how to push our buttons, and that have a vision. There’s method to Ho99o9’s madness, and it is fuckin’ beautiful and enchanting. TIAGO MOREIRA
HICCUP Invisible Enemies
Father/Daughter Records (2017)
IMAGINARY TRICKS Skommel
Friendship Fever (2017)
Hiccup and Invisible Enemies is exactly what you’d demand from whacked-out musicians who soundtrack the Chris Gethard Show - a late night American television programme aimed at “goons, goofs, freakazoids, blookies, oddballs and the sexually confused.” Bassist Hallie Bulleit and guitarist Alex Clute expand on their kooky televised inserts with new drummer Piyal Basu to create 12 original micro-pop-punk tunes all under the three minute mark. Invisible Enemies obviously recognises the beauty in simplicity, the lack of pretension in punk and the memorability of pop. Their shortest track “I Don’t Care” largely epitomises this and the rest of the album too - it’s quick, cute and effortlessly cool. It’s fun to think Hiccup have taken that vibe of performing in some Brooklyn basement at four in the morning and put it on a record. Invisible Enemies is best served loud with a side of teenage nostalgia. For fans of ultra-pretty and limited edition vinyl the trio are set to release a Mustard Yellow and Aqua Blue A-side/B-side 12 inch, as well as a dashing “Piss Yellow” variant on March 20th. GUY HIRST
HOT NEW BAND
Balley Records (2017)
Skommel is the debut album by Imaginary Tricks, a New York project created by Mike V isser. Covered by a melancholy spectrum, Skommel sounds mild, homely, intimately in search of hope and independence. The record opens with some of its most beatiful moments: “Mr. Big Idea” on compassed rhythms with a peculiar choice of vocal cadences; or already in the middle of the album in “Bird” where he offers a passionate version of freedom rightfully owned by a guitar solo without fear of being lost in the trip. If Skommel was a day in Mike’s life, “Ease” ends it in celebration with a desire to revive it. An auspicious debut deserving a return ticket. RUI CORREIA
JAPANDROIDS Near To The Wild Heart Of Life Anti- (2017)
Coming across like a demented cross between The Gaslight Anthem and Jimmy Eat World, Japanadroids are a breath of fresh air in the North American rock scene. A bombastic, optimistic burst of rock’n’roll that makes an almighty racket considering there are only two members. NTTWHOL is a lo-fi, big sounding, throwback record to the days of Wrecking Ball, where the production shines is in capturing the absolute joy these men have in each others company, and in songs that make you want to dance and shout. Rock needs a band like this. Capturing the joy of the noise, in an album that just does what it does with no frills, but absolute heart. Full of confidence and beginning to end anthem. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
INVSN The Beautiful Stories
Dine Alone Records (2017)
The Beautiful Stories instantly sounds familiar, confrontational and challenging. Tackling the desire “for resistance to the cultural/political/ musical landscape that holds us imprisoned”, frontman Dennis Lyxzén (Refused) inspires with his delivery and proves that music and art can still make a difference, perfectly balancing on that breaking point we’re all experiencing during these troubling and unsettling times. INVSN have always flirted with political messages, their punchy edge gives their 80’s post-punk/indie rock trademark sound a different light, some may even call it hope. An empowering statement to raise our defences and fight for the moral human values. Sometimes the good and old-fashioned repressed anger and frustration might be the perfect fuel to shake things up. FAUSTO CASAIS
JOHN FRUM A Stirring In The Noos Relapse Records (2017)
Enigmatic cult metal collective John Frum have crafted an extremely chaotic, dynamic, and unorthodox album… even for the death metal standards, a genre that has thrived in making things extremer and weirder. The quartet - that has a lineup with members who’ve played with John Zorn, Faceless, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Intensus, etc. – successfully meshes together the brutality of the more old-school death metal with a twisted psychedelic feel, and an untamed experimental vein. A Stirring in the Noos, the band’s debut album, splendidly guarantees the project the status as one of the most exciting extreme bands to watch for. Their technicality is only matched by the musical insanity and the result is top notch songwriting. TIAGO MOREIRA
It seems that punk rock, whilst going through
something of a renaissance, has taken a wander from its original roots. Edges have been dulled, years of abuse and miss-use have lefts its blade-like intensity rusty and jaded. Thank God then for bands like Idles, who have taken a look at the state of the world and written music that is as dangerous, angry and blunt as Punk deserves and needs to be. This is music that slices flesh like a straight-razor cutting a Chelsea grin – targeting the injustices and inequalities that surround us and hammer home ironic and lacerating truths with not a second thought for the well being of the victim or themselves. Hard, angry, violently impulsive and utterly necessary. Brutalism is a modern disasterpiece of Punk noise, its snotty heart worn brazenly on its sleeve. Unashamedly English, succinct, meaningful and most importantly relevant. A goddamn revelation.
JADE JACKSON Gilded Anti- (2017)
Jade Jackson had a lot of time to work on her craft. Growing up in a house that didn’t have space for a television or a computer and internet, Jackson spent her days writing and playing. Years later Social Distortion’s Mike Ness becomes her mentor and produces her debut album. Through a strict diet of Lucinda Williams’s Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, Gilded is born and in its curves details some of the same passion, honesty, and weird coherence. Her raspy-throated voice and stories might be impressive, but the way she strings it all together and keeps connecting the dots, even if they seem worlds apart, make Gilded an astounding debut that will make you tremble. TIAGO MOREIRA
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Flying Microtonal Banana Heavenly (2017)
Waiting for King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard to put out new work is always like drawing from a lucky dip; you never know exactly what you’ll get. As the first out of the five albums they announced for this year, Flying Microtonal Banana is a testament to true musicianship, which lies in experimentation, to say the least. The whole LP was recorded exclusively using instruments tricked out to play microtones, as well as non-western instruments like a Turkish zurna, which give it an otherworldly, sprawling quality. Though it might seem tame compared to last year’s triumphant Nonagon Infinity, Flying Microtonal Banana is no less impressive, and if its role is to act as a warm-up for what lies ahead, then the next four albums ought to be a blast. ANTIGONI PITTA
IDES OF GEMINI Women
Rise Above Records (2017)
FILE UNDER: King Woman, Blood Ceremony, Savages
des of Gemini’s Women is a haunting ode to the undeniable, innate power of the feminine. Led by the sublime strength of Sera Timms’ vocals, the quartet is at its boldest, its most focused and its most captivating. J. Bennett’s riffs are sludgy and narrative as ever--and, yet, feel lighter and more complex than on previous releases; Women spins a tale of conquest and triumph from “Mother Kiev” to “Queen of New Orleans.” Wandering far from the doom-filled, ethereal tracks of the past, Timms’ dramatic voice is sheathed with a goth-rock veil that propels her words into a realm yet explored by the group. In the years since Old World New Wave, the band has shed a layer of its distinct occult vibe in exchange for an identity that is entirely reserved for themselves. As a comprehensive storyline, Women is a mature, self-realized version of Ides of Gemini that is completely unshakable. TEDDIE TAYLOR
HOT NEW BAND
KISSING IS A CRIME Kissing Is A Crime
Don Giovanni Records (2017)
LAWRENCE ENGLISH Cruel Optimism Room 40 (2017)
“This is the band I’ve been trying to do for a long time” says singer/guitarist Matt Molnar, and it’s fair to say that this makes a lot of sense, just think about Soft Black, Friends, and Pagan Rituals, projects that he co-founded. Setting their roots in punk, Kissing is a Crime’s self-titled debut album is a sunny, dreamy and moody guitar pop driven gem, that will make you feel nostalgic and emotional. At times this album sounds utterly sublime and cerebral, but it’s the simplicity of punk and urgency of the band’s confrontational spectrum of emotions that gently stands out in this unique, multi-faced triumphant delivery. This is elegant and bloody intelligent art. FAUSTO CASAIS
There is a distant sound of thunder coming from a far-off horizon, storm fronts approaching so fast and deadly that they hit you before you have a chance to register their warning signs or oncoming presence. “Hard Rain” opens this devastating body of work from English with you placed right in the middle of the ferocious tempest, no sign of shelter or sanctuary until “The Quietest Shore” subsides into battered aftershocks. Players with the heft and might of Mats Gustafsson and Thor Harris add densely weighted vigour to English’s drone assault which ebbs and flows inexorably onwards. Yet, always, there seem to be church bells pealing a constant refrain. Portents of doom or of some unknowable future. EUAN ANDREWS
Silent Cult Records (2017)
Filled with teenage angst, killer riffs and subversive lyrics, Loom’s self-titled debut album brings the Seattle noisy and sharp sound back, with a subtle twist from the 80’s classic hardcore punk intensity. Confrontational enough to capture the media vultures, always looking for the next hype, Loom’s debut is indeed an impressive artistic statement and a thrilling effort. Loom drew from the Melvins at their most riff-heavy relentless accuracy, but also evokes the Mudhoney’s grunge spirit, Nirvana’s visceral punk attitude and Pixies noisy melodic flair. Loom’s self-titled debut consists of stripped-to-the-bones rock aggression with clinical precision, unfashionably fresh and genuinely dangerous. Well done guys! FAUSTO CASAIS
LOS CAMPESINOS! Sick Scenes
Wichita Recordings (2017)
Sick Scenes is the sixth album by Los Campesinos! Following a three-year hiatus. Recorded during Euro 2016 in Fridao, Portugal, it feels like the band took those years to write and do something quite spectacular. The themes explored are very introspective and are inspired by personal and social experiences with the band bringing their best into the making of Sick Scenes. Vocalist Gareth, who is dealing with mental health issues, is quite open about his personal struggles delivering majestic lyrical content, along with the amazing and exciting song crafting by his bandmates resulting in beautiful and detailed indie rock songs. ANDREIA ALVES
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS Safe In Sound Yonks Records (2017)
For almost a decade, Lower Than Atlantis were on the thin line between mainstream and underground. Over the years, they were close to becoming one of the big guys on the scene, but every time they fell a bit short. Safe In Sound is here just to confirm that. Their latest offering is comprised of ten songs, combining post-hardcore with alternative rock, and every one of them is good. There are no bad moments, but also, there is no hit. There isn’t a song that can make the band explode and push them forward. Their fan base will be happy with the new record, but “what if?” still stays. MILJAN MILEKIC
MARK LANEGAN BAND Gargoyle Heavenly Recordings (2017)
The depth of Mark Lanegan’s voice is MAC DEMARCO This Old Dog
Captured Tracks (2017)
Listening to Mac DeMarco’s new album This Old Dog is as pleasant and effortless as cruising down a river on a boat on sunny afternoon, but once you start tuning into his key lyrical themes, this boat starts rocking dangerously. This album has a life of each own, each track builds its own little universe and you’ll get absorbed into the refined melodies which vary from romantic to damn right strange. His vocal delivery is non-invasive almost like an ethereal afterthought – yet still powerful. This album acts as a blank canvas which you can paint with the colours of the thoughts and emotions you’re going through while listening to it. A carefully crafted artistic masterpiece that will haunt you for days to come. ANASTASIA PSARRA
unparalleled; his signature smooth-yet-gritty baritone has entranced listeners for over 30 years. Partnering with long-time collaborators Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age and legendary producer and former QOTSA guitarist Alain Johannes, Gargoyle explores influences ranging from country to electronic. (The more Homme-involved tracks are easily identified.) While the instrumentals tend to linger in lighter territory, Lanegan quickly points the tracks in a more serious, intense direction. The gruff, soulful vocals are a stark and welcome contrast to the ethereal synths and guitars. Thankfully, the Mark Lanegan Band does not dwell on the past--the 10 tracks offered are a mesmerizing fusion of the modern and the established. TEDDIE TAYLOR
MASTODON Emperor Of Sand Warner (2017)
The aftermath of 2012’s epic Crack the Skye revealed Mastodon more willing to keep things more or less direct. Emperor of Sand, the 3rd album post–Crack The Skye, sees the Atlanta quartet operating in a balanced world that takes cues from the colossal sounds from the band’s “classic era” and the directness of the two previous efforts, with a clearly refined take on it. In the reunion with producer Brendan O’Brien the band tackles mortality and does it strikingly with huge melodies, crushing riffs, and their inimitable signature sound. In a way, Emperor Of Sand seems like the “end of an era”, closing the circle thematically and sonically. The present is thrilling and the future couldn’t be more exciting. TIAGO MOREIRA
Created in the Image of Suffering is an abysmally powerful testament to the beauty generated
KING WOMAN Created In The Image Of Suffering Relapse Records (2017)
FILE UNDER: Chelsea Wolfe, True Widow, Windhand
by pain. Kristina Esfandiari’s unearthly voice has the ability to manifest an environment of inescapable fog; even at its most uplifting and light, it is charged with an underlying sense of unforeseen destruction. Harkening to her past experiences with religion throughout the record, the lyrical content is as hefty as the droning, sedated doom that her bandmates facilitate. The captivating fluctuations between Esfandiari’s husky and delicate vocals mirror the instrumental movement from shoegaze to King Woman’s brand of metal; the fusion of the sublime and the dreadful present on their 2014 EP Doubt is even stronger and more intentional now. Without resorting to blasphemy, Suffering is emotionally stirring, thought provoking and laden with the honest observations Esfandiari has made of theism throughout her life. King Woman have delivered the most poignant and profound heavy record of 2017 thus far and, likely, the entire year. TEDDIE TAYLOR
MINUS THE BEAR Voids ME AND THAT MAN Songs Of Love & Death Cooking Vinyl (2017)
Behemoth’s founder and frontman Nergal unleashed his blues demons resulting in a collaboration with leading producer John Porter and the birth of Me & That Man. With their debut album Songs Of Love & Death, the duo may not have reinvented the wheel when it comes to blues music but what they have done is to create 13 songs that celebrate the beauty of simplicity. From the darkness of solitude and broken promises to the hope of love and dreaming, this album will take you down a path of nostalgia drawing inspiration from blues legends while maintaining its unique character. A poetic and respectful approach to timeless music coming straight from its creators’ hearts. ANASTASIA PSARRA
Visuals is the follow-up to Mew’s 2015’s album + and as frontman Jonas Bjerre explained they just wanted to make an album that spontaneously retained the energy they had generated during that album’s world tour. That energy and spontaneity are quite noticeable.Visuals is very dynamic with the band mixing a kind of 80’s-style pop and rock tunes along with mesmerising vocal melodies. Mew aren’t novice at all, in fact, they’re been around for more than 20 years, and with their seventh release they keep pushing their sound at all levels. By the way, the album’s title fits really well, it really feels like each song has a visual aspect to it. Nice work guys! ANDREIA ALVES
8/10 Suicide Squeeze Records (2017) Seattle, Washington’s proud sons Minus The Bear return with a sixth album and a renewed fire stoking gently in their bellies. Voids is a gloriously jangly pop record created by four rock loving musicians, reinventing themselves in gently obscure and brilliant new ways. Opening track “Last Kiss” is an anthemic guitar lead radio hit, full of impassioned vocals and melody. The album continues to tumble down a nostalgic rabbit-hole of Talking Heads esque guitar work, vocals that build and collapse in angular and emotional ways, and synth work that invokes the UK Britpop scene. By the time you get to the opening of “Silver”, you’ll be sold and it will warrant many repeat listens. Voids is a wonderful album of songs that exists separate from the whole, but that tie a tapestry of new vision together. A joy to listen to, from a band who never lose their path. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
LAND OF TALK Life After Youth
Saddle Creek (2017)
FILE UNDER: Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Julien Baker
ollowing several setbacks since forming Land of Talk back in 2006, Elizabeth Powell totally lost her will after releasing their sophomore album, Cloak and Cipher. Feeling tired and disenchanted by the insane album/tour cycling, from crashing her laptop with her work to even losing her voice, Elizabeth went on hiatus - “I just didn’t want to think about music at all. I kind of retired. It was a throw the baby out with the bathwater scenario”. Seven years later, she returns with Life After Youth, an emotional cathartic and timeless psych-power pop gem, which is well-rounded without going over the top with melancholy levels. On Life After Youth, Elizabeth recruited her old friend Sharon Van Etten’s songwriting skills to complete the album and along with producer John Agnello, former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Roxy Music/Sparks bassist Sal Maida, she created this kind of indie-rock dream team. Immediate, dreamy and gracefully atmospheric, Life After Youth portrays Elizabeth’s emotional intensity and its confessional and stripped down lyrics give the listener this crushing mixed-feelings of nostalgia, optimism, confidence and self-doubt. A triumphant comeback! FAUSTO CASAIS
MOTIONLESS IN WHITE Graveyard Shift Roadrunner Records (2017)
MOON DUO Occult Architecture Vol.1 Sacred Bones (2017)
Delving into Moon Duo’s latest is a lot like watching Logan’s Run with fresh eyes – the blinding brightness and polished sheen is quickly uncovered to be a smokescreen for a queasy sense of gloom. And so, under Ripley Johnson’s blustery repetition and the frankly massive-sounding embellishments of Sanae Yamada lies the pair’s darkest album, where metronomic beats and swirling psychedelia combine to produce a sense of creeping claustrophobia. It’s not a huge diversion from previous efforts, where repetition is used to amplify their hypnotic worldview until Johnson comes powering through with one frazzled solo after another, but it’s an immersive listen that, combined with its purportedly-lighter sequel, has the potential to become more effective with time. DAVE BOWES
Since their inception back in 2006, Motionless In White have been chasing their dream, always demonstrating impressive work ethic, passion and patience. Their commitment shows that they understand that building your own path takes time and effort. With Graveyard Shift, Motionless In White are pushing forward into new sonic territory where they perfectly blend Tim Burton’s gothic and bold theatrical style, Marilyn Manson’s savage approach and Korn’s vicious nu-metal with their own and dynamic, contemporary metalcore twist. Embodying Danny Elfman’s style on “Not My Type (Dead As Fuck 2)”, bringing the heaviness and energy on the lead single “LOUD” and showing some darkness and perversion into their Lesley Gore’s tribute on “Necessary Evil” [feat. Jonathan Davis], it’s fair to say that Graveyard Shift is a thrilling effort. Love them or hate them, Motionless In White bravely layered glorious melodies onto their trademark dark and heavy riffs with massive success. Fact! FAUSTO CASAIS
MUTOID MAN War Moans
Sargent House (2017)
The beauty of Mutoid Man lays on the fact that their music is so urgent, so energetic, and so captivating that labels like super group and side-project all of a sudden didn’t have a space to exist. Two years after their beloved debut album, Bleeder, the power-trio fronted by Steve Brodsky returns in a rather spectacular fashion – when you have master shredder Marty Friedman to play on your opening track and it sounds THAT good you know you’re ahead in the game. War Moans is NWOBHM’s epic, extremely frantic and gnarly, progressive, but most importantly a rock record devoid of any pretentiousness that actual sounds vital and is worth for all its different-sounding pieces. TIAGO MOREIRA
HOT NEW BAND
NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT Dark Blue EP Transcend Music (2017)
FILE UNDER: Basement, All Dogs, Charly Bliss
NITE JEWEL Real High
Gloriette Records (2017)
Recorded over the course of four years in Los Angeles with the help of Cole M.G.N, Real High is Ramona Gonzalez, aka Nite Jewel’s fourth studio album. Focusing on the “extraordinary peaks of love”, Real High is moody and nostalgic, seducing the listener with ambience, romantic ambuscades and dance floor pop hooks. Featuring contributions from long-time collaborators such as Dâm-Funk, Droop-E, and Julia Holter, Real High is an expansive, lyric driven and fully personal effort. Even if sometimes it sounds a bit too repetitive, there’s an exquisite melancholy that clashes with the so called “peaks of love”. After that everything makes sense again, from the strange feeling of optimism to the classic tension and sometimes destructive vulnerability. FAUSTO CASAIS
hat we really hope to get across with our music is basically just: fuck what people think of you”, says vocalist Ceryn Evans. Nineteen Fifty Eight is one of South Wales’ best kept secrets and Dark Blue is a boldly honest and strangely mature statement. Once again, the harsh realities of adult life are the fuel to ignite the band’s creative process. The result is a stripped down and passionate effort, clearly influenced by Brand New’s almost confessional style, Radiohead’s bleakness and Basement’s unique and soulful approach. The simplistic way they transform and challenge the normal anxieties of young adulthood into optimism is empowering and brave and every moment of the album is executed with maturity and genuine emotion. Dark Blue is strangely addictive and moving and marks a promising next stage in their artistic journey. FAUSTO CASAIS
NORTHLANE Mesmer UNFD (2017)
Northlane took everyone by surprise when they just dropped a new album out of the blue. Awesome move (or not...) you guys, and well, it’s another brutal and impressive effort. Mesmer is their fourth album and they definitely seem more confident and cohesive than ever before. That’s totally conveyed in how they approached the new songs. Everything on this album sounds organic, exciting and lyrically heavy. Mesmer follows the same thread of Node and Singularity, where the band talk about human society and personal issues. The end track “Paragon” is a tribute to Tom Searle of Architects, a really breathtaking way to end this record. ANDREIA ALVES
Relapse Records (2017)
Instantly recognizable, incredibly addictive and still pioneers in a genre they helped define, and on their new self-titled full-length Obituary proves once again that they are the masters of death metal. The three bastions of their sound are present and as effective and incessant as a Sherman tank advancing against the enemy lines. John Tardy is simply one of the best vocal monsters ever, Trevor Perez’s rhythms are as compelling as ever, and all is linked together by the unyielding drum work of Donald Tardy. Is their sound any different on this record? The answer is a resounding no, but like the wise man says “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. NUNO BABO
NOGA EREZ Off The Radar
City Slang (2017)
Tel Aviv’s Noga Erez doesn’t seem too concerned with sticking with a particular lane, in
fact her debut album Off The Radar is everything but a easily compartmentalized record. Sure, pop and dance are a common thread on all the fifteen songs that compose Off The Radar, but the way Erez keeps twisting and fluctuating between tracks is remarkable to say the least. Aware of her surroundings and the implications of some behaviours, that in part are surely enhanced by having an Israeli-informed upbringing, Noga makes the point of tackle a myriad of social and political relevant topics. But it’s not just what she has to say but also, and maybe more importantly, how she says it – the way she is able to maintain the listener’s attention. Manipulating her voice to the point of stretching the spectrum of possibilities and having a production with an extremely strong multisensory nature that ultimately guides the listener through extremely rich and complex little worlds, are the main arguments to the brilliance and freshness of Off The Radar. TIAGO MOREIRA
Nuclear Blast (2017)
There’s an inherent irony in Pallbearer OHHMS The Fool
Holy Roar Records (2017)
After two excellent EPs Bloom (October 2014) and Cold (June 2015), Ohhms’ debut full-length, The Fool, is another artful and immaculate installment. This album proves that doom metal can still be exciting nowadays despite the huge number of bands that are recycling the same old and boring formula. Ohhms bring other elements to the table: understated experimentation that doles out brutality, intensity and stately grace in equal measure. The Fool is a politically charged effort, atypically melodic but with that Neurosis-like atmospheric density and Mastodon’s thrilling sense of unpredictability. Strong and refreshing, Ohhms is a name to keep an eye on, perhaps the new foundations of doom might start here… FAUSTO CASAIS
OVERKILL The Grinding Wheel Nuclear Blast (2017)
If you don’t care much for classic thrash metal with hectic drum work, vibrant bass rhythms, wickedly devilish lead vocals, and face melting guitar solos, excellent production values, that push the sound into your brain, most likely this record is not for you. Also if you don’t like a band that is instantly recognizable, by their infectious blend of NWOBHM with a hardcore punk aesthetic, and think that refining one’s style instead of trying pointless deviations of their classic sound is the wrong move that this is probably not the record for you. If you think that the “Big Four” of thrash metal predate these guys than you are gravely mistaken. NUNO BABO
calling anything they’ve laid their paws on Heartless - there are few more emotional bands in modern doom and on their third full-length, they take their feelings out on a more wide-reaching scale, targeting the ills of the world with gusto, charm and glacier-splitting volume. A truly expansive outing in every sense, it demonstrates a huge forward leap in Brett Campbells vocals, a rich and plaintive wail that stacks up well against their burgeoning trade in AOR-worthy soloing, but while it’s an admirably catchy listen, there’s little attempt to disguise their underground roots, from the gang-vocal punch of Cruel Road to the unabashed ferocity of Dancing In Madness. Whether you’ve signed up for a good hook, some quality proto-metal chuggery or just a long, bleak ride, this wont fail to raise DAVE BOWES a crooked smile on your face.
OXBOW Thin Black Duke
Hydra Head (2017)
he soul and feeling have always been more important that the shapes of the body when it comes to Bay Area-based Oxbow. It’s not exactly what they use or look like – experimental, avant-garde, blues, hardcore, etc. – but what they achieve with it, which has always been way more significant, even if the end result can exist on an entire spectrum and be menacing, violent, and dangerous, but also incredibly gentle and precise. Their first album in ten years, Thin Black Duke, takes all the awe-inspiring, delightful dynamics to a whole new level and it ends up existing as a sort of living organism with an extremely captivating personality. Thin Black Duke thrives with its perplexing arrangements, and in the midst of it there’s a band making use of baroque pop and delivering one of their most intricate and touching records to date with an impeccable flow, a completely matured vision, and a masterful execution. TIAGO MOREIRA
PAPA ROACH Crooked Teeth
Eleven Seven Music (2017)
PLANNING FOR BURIAL Below The House The Flenser (2017)
Papa Roach are back with their ninth studio album in a near 25 year career. That was a long ago when the Californian outfit released their debut album in 1997, Old Friends from Young Years. The years went by and they are still here pushing themselves as musicians and as a group. This time around they went back to their roots and that’s how Crooked Teeth kicks in. It reminds us the old days when songs like “Last Resort” were anthems for teenagers back then. Crooked Teeth brings back that old school Papa Roach attitude, along with hip-hop rock mashup with some really metal breakdown riffs. Shaddix is quite impressive with his rapping technique with the band’s intense energy throughout the whole album. ANDREIA ALVES
Planning For Burial, known for its universally personal lyrics and melancholic, forlorn droning, is extraordinary in its ability to convey the deepest thought with a guitar and effects; a solo effort, Thom Wasluck gives the instrument a voice equal to his own. Atypical from previous releases, Below The House veers from the gloom significantly on album opener “Whiskey and Wine” and ventures further still on “Warmth of You,” which is a veritable pop song. With black metal screeches, subdued ambience and the ever-present abysmal undertones, this is perhaps the most impressive Planning For Burial release yet. Below The House is able to reach heights and depths previously untouched by the Wasluck’s own prolific catalogue. TEDDIE TAYLOR
POWER TRIP Nightmare Logic
Southern Lord Records (2017)
Power Trip possess the ability to convert anyone to the thrash side. With their latest record, Nightmare Logic, they are faster, denser and more extreme than the unparalleled 2013 Manifest Decimation. Much like their fellow crossover brethren, Power Trip meld genres into a beast that is equal parts barking vocals and wailing guitars; the Texans have, though, wrangled their sound into an intensified version of itself this time around. Straddling the lines of hardcore punk and assaulting thrash metal, the allure of Power Trip is their ability to weave energy, groove, aggression and speed into something that is sheer, blissful insanity. Nightmare Logic is well worth the unavoidable tinnitus that ensues after listening at maximum volume. TEDDIE TAYLOR
Sacred Bones (2017)
FILE UNDER: Puce Mary, Prurient, David Lynch
ur bodies can both repel and console us, leave us trapped in paralysed isolation or allow us to reach out and communicate with other living vessels through movement and being. On 2014’s Bestial Burden, Margaret Chardiet as Pharmakon utilised her own personal trauma during a period of physical breakdown and interventionist surgical procedure. The result was an album which stripped away any predetermined notions of noise as violator or debaser and instead focused on acutely personal and universal themes pertinent to all corporeal consciousness with gruelling yet cathartic results. Now, Contact aims to move further away from this state of bodily dysfunction and elaborate upon the desire of our minds to transcend increasingly weak flesh and bone. In order to do so, Chardiet structures this piece around the four stages of trance: preparation, onset, climax and resolution. This enables a dramatic structure to Contact, from the screaming portal-openings of “Nakedness of Need” through the white tunnel of nauseous light evoked on “Sentient” and onwards through the elevated somnambulism of “Sleepwalking Form” and ferocious epiphany of “No Natural Order”. The wretched fear and pain of Bestial Burden is mercifully absent, replaced by the sound of an artist moving on in life with arms and spirit outstretched in search of communion and reciprocated touch. EAUN ANDREWS
PULLED APART BY HORSES The Haze Caroline International (2017)
When things get stale, they tend to become drab. That can happen to any band whose music sounds always the same, record after record, without getting any new stuff. Pulled Apart By Horses could end up being boring but instead they have a much better attitude. The Leeds frenetic band said goodbye to some old things, welcomed a new drummer - Tommy Davidson, formerly of These Monsters - and just had fun making their fourth album. The Haze is in fact an album that is pure energy and spontaneity, just like the old days when they released their self-titled debut. Noisy, incendiary and full of adrenaline, it’s a damn addictive and pushy effort. ANDREIA ALVES
Topshelf Records (2017)
Featuring influences from late-90s Sheryl Crow guitar driven style, Jenny Lewis hearted vocals and Bon Iver’s layered arrangements, Ratboys’ sophomore album, GN, is sonically bold and an intensely bittersweet indie rock flick. Pivotal tracks like “Crying” that talk about the survival story of Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson from a first-person perspective or “Peter” that reflects on the life of a feral child in Germany who was eventually adopted by the King of England enhance the narrative style into their self-proclaimed “post-country” elegant minimalist sound. It’s impossible to not feel overwhelmed by the constant sense of lost and found, highs and lows, that gently slow burn the listener. An album not for the faint of heart or soul. FAUSTO CASAIS
ROYAL THUNDER Wick
Spinefarm Records (2017)
The Atlanta based band Royal Thunder are back with what they call the hardest album of their career so far. From creating hard psychedelic rock tunes to incorporating more melodic riffs, the four-piece have always shown their growth as a band with each album they put out, so listening to Wick is like listening to the collective discography of the band so far. It’s like an accumulation of everything they have done, plus their desire to go further with what they’ve accomplished so far. Mlny Parsonz seems more invigorated than ever, finding the perfect balance for her voice and her sharp lyrics. It becomes clear that they are a restless band. ANDREIA ALVES
FILE UNDER: Slowdive, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Lush
fter an absence of almost 20 years, the Oxford four piece reformed and returned to the live scene in 2014 selling out headline tours around the world. Comprising of Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt, Ride return with Weather Diaries, their first album in twenty years. Despite their absence, it feels like they never went away, and their genuine quality is undeniable and untouchable. Produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan and mixed by the great Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again, Weather Diaries shows us that they decided to pick up where they left off. In fact, they sound bigger and louder. Their 60’s psych melodies are still there along with their 80’s alternative guitar styles, but it’s their post-rock soundscapes and the classic britpop elements that really work like the perfect descent into their chaotic implosion. Politically charged and straight to the point, Ride’s artfully expanded their bubblegum FAUSTO CASAIS art-rock template on their fifth album.
RYAN ADAMS Prisoner
SIR WAS Digging A Tunnel
RIDE Weather Diaries
Wichita Recordings (2017)
Virgin EMI (2017)
City Slang (2017)
With a voice that sends shivers coursing through hair, and goosebumps rippling over flesh, Ryan Adams has never been short of attention grabbing skills. So with Prisoner he comes back swinging, with a Springsteen riffing vocal in opening track “Do You Still Love Me”, and music that could easily be a Bad Seeds’ song. This is an artist who magpies his way through his own record collection with no shame, and creates delicious soups of sound. Prisoner is another homerun from a musician who is not short of a few homers in his career. Startlingly heartfelt, blisteringly well written and with a captivating heart in Adams soul-searching, penetrating vocal – it’s a sure fire chart-botherer of an album, and one that deserves a prideful place amongst his best. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
Meeting Gothenburg, Sweden’s sir Was (aka Joel Wästberg) is meeting a reinvented indie, non-biased and playing with all cards without cheating. sir Was is a perfect example of this: in the voice he grabs the new generation of pop psychedelics (the theme “New person, same old mistakes” by Tame Impala comes to mind) and turns it into a setback with alcohol-soaked hip hop (a mention to a groove introduced by acclaimed producer J Dilla). It is hard to believe that Digging A Tunnel is the debut album of Joel Wästberg, given the mastery in the construction of these delicate songs, that, undoubtedly, reveal him one of the great talents of this year. RUI CORREIA
SKATERS Rock and Roll Bye Bye LP Skaters Records (2017)
New York-via-Hull quintet Skaters are back with their second album titled Rock and Roll Bye Bye LP - don’t confuse this with last year’s Rock and Roll Bye Bye EP. This is the follow-up to their 2014’s debut album Manhattan, which was released by Warner Brothers Records, but the band parted ways with the label and decided to go with an independent and no limits spirit while approaching this album. Rock and Roll Bye Bye LP is an exemplary statement on how today’s music industry works. Their audacity is contagious and they embrace their musical independence 100%, with a roller coaster of sounds and melodies from noisy pop to indie rock throughout the whole album. ANDREIA ALVES
THE BLACK ANGELS Death Song
Partisan Records (2017)
The Black Angels have been accused of
SORORITY NOISE You’re Not As ____ As You Think... Big Scary Monsters (2017)
TELEPLASMITE Frequency Is The New Ecstasy
It’s strangely fulfilling when a band conveys thoughts and feelings that one has, even in the rawest way possible. Sorority Noise are one of those kind of bands; they dig deeper into the soul and open their hearts quite bravely. When life makes you crawl and bleed, music can offer the much needed healing process required to rise up to life’s adversities. You’re Not As ____ As You Think... is emotionally heavy, but at the same time, it’s a safe haven. Singer/ guitarist Cameron Boucher is just fantastic at writing his deepest experiences into words, combined with intimate and visceral punk emo tunes that are quite addictive. A very human and brutal record. ANDREIA ALVES
The Flenser (2017)
Succumb’s self-titled debut album sounds raw, oppressive and unashamedly ugly, but at the same time brings some light and elegance into the whole Death Metal scene. Vocalist Cheri Musrasrik is the one responsible for that, her vocal delivery is outstanding, genuinely thrilling and apocalyptic. Influenced by authors and poets like Yeats, Jean Genet and Emile Zola, Musrasrik’s lyrics are not conventional and they’re tackling themes such as human experimentation, autoerotic asphyxiation, BDSM, prostitution, opium dens and dystopias with a literary flair. Challenging, stimulating and ambitious, this is a bold and intoxicating effort of almost outrageous beauty and a leap into a galaxy of its very own. FAUSTO CASAIS
7/10 House Of Mythology (2017) There is comfort and joy to be found in the drone, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel your nerve ends jangled and brain cells scrambled. This debut LP from the duo of Mark O Pilkington and Michael J York, both artists who contribute significant pedigree within potential countercultural constructs and arcane knowledge, takes the conceptual messages hidden within drones and extrapolates them towards unknown final destination points across six extended pieces. In doing so, time machines are built; vessels in which the listener can journey back and forth across various states and plains where hidden meanings and indeterminate symbolism may suddenly reveal themselves in blinding bursts of sunspotted realisation. A record, a tool, with which you can realign yourself inside much needed alternative EUAN ANDREWS realities.
TERROR The Walls Will Fall EP Pure Noise Records (2017)
Still goddamn influential and still pushing their confrontational old school NYHC to the limit, there’s no slowing down moments - as a matter of fact there never were - as Terror still sound energetic, heavily fast and fucking honest. The Walls Will Fall EP marks Terror’s first effort with their new label Pure Noise Records and follows their most recent full-length, 2015’s excellent The 25th Hour. Again, another well-rounded performance from Scott Vogel whose vocal range and attitude put most modern hardcore bands to shame. Terror’s hostile attitude is still there and it’s really impressive that after all these years they still sound fresh and exciting and above their peers. Welcome back chaps. FAUSTO CASAIS
revivalism, there was even those who called their music pretentious. Their take on psychedelic rock was never a rehashing of an old “formula”, but their new album is undeniably above and beyond anything they’ve previously delivered. Death Song might very well be their biggest and boldest statement yet. With frontman and lyricist Alex Maas being pushed towards something bigger, the album reflects on current America with a sharp and witty perspective that translates into a cohesive piece filled with double or triple speaks that weave all the different threads together. The undeniably importance and vitality of their message is matched with their most dynamically appealing sonic performance, meshing together a myriad of different sounds, approaches, and moods into a surprisingly entrancing experience for the listener. TIAGO MOREIRA
THE MENZINGERS After Party Epitaph (2017)
The Menzingers boost their musicality with their new record After The Party, shooting clearly for the stars. They’re making punk great again too, offering songs beaming like a hyperbolic smile, but they never fall into a repetitive sequence. There’s great riffs to behold, there’s quips about drunken nights and dark days. It’s all arresting and compelling, beautifully intertwined by the searing vocals and melodies. And punk music is changing, it’s becoming a battered force, losing its famed statements of intent, its patches peeling off the jackets that were worn by the punk travellers. But, After The Party relieves the pressure. Songs such as “Thick As Thieves” and “Midwestern State” offer optimism and strength. MARK MCCONVILLE
Dead Oceans (2017)
THE OBSESSED Sacred
hen a band releases an album following a reformation, sometimes it results in songs that try too hard, however the latest self-titled album by recently reformed Slowdive feels effortless as every song flows into the next one, inviting the listener to explore a brilliantly constructed shoegaze maze. Slowdive, the Thames Valley band’s fourth album following a long hiatus, will instantly find its place in their fans’ hearts, but will also charm those new to their dream-like sound. What makes this album really stand out is how polished every single ingredient that forms it is. This album features some of the strongest songwriting by the band to date mixing some of their most captivating elements in eight pop-orientates gems: dynamic percussion, dissonant guitars and Goswell’s and Halstead’s hypnotic vocals. A mature album that feels current and nostalgic. ANASTASIA PSARRA FILE UNDER: My Bloody Valentine, Minor Victories, Cranes
Relapse Records (2017)
If there’s one thing twenty years can teach you, it’s that time is precious. Maybe that’s why Sacred never let’s up for a second, barrelling out of the gates with a righteous stomp and quickly rattles off one soon-to-be-iconic riff after another, Wino delivering just the right blend of seduction and menace as he recants tales that reek of engine grease and sweat. As they confidently steamroll over tar-flecked sludge (“Sodden Jackal”), infectious desert jams (“Stranger Things”) and punk rock bravado (“Be The Night”), it’s clear that the doom world owes plenty to The Obsessed, and perhaps it might still have a thing or two to learn from them yet. DAVE BOWES
REVIEWS STAFF PICK
THE SMITH STREET BAND More Scared of You Than You...
Specialist Subject/ SideOneDummy (2017)
TOBY DRIVER Maddonawhore The Flenser (2017)
Melbourne’s The Smith Street Band are back with their fourth full-length, More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me, a pitch-perfect pastiche blend of anthemic punk rock anthems and straight-forward strutting rock n’ roll finesse. Wil Wagner’s lyrics are stripped down, very honest and detailed, with a healthy dose of emotional turmoil thrown in for a good measure. More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me is a utterly massive and ambitious effort, that sounds like a perfectly balanced combination of The Gaslight Anthem’s The ‘59 Sound, Against Me!’s Searching for a Former Clarity and Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning… And a solid yes, is that good! FAUSTO CASAIS
After Kayo Dot’s 2016 album Plastic House on Base of Sky, New York City-based avant-garde, prolific musician Toby Driver (Maudlin Of The Weel, Vaura, Kayo Dot & much more...) returns with another solo album, Madonnawhore. Exploring the psychological neurosis called “madonna-whore-complex”, first identified by Sigmund Freud, this new effort brings back traditional songwriting elements along with the complex and classic atmospheric input that we usually find in Driver’s unique soundscape. Intimate and personal, Madonnawhore is a minimal and slow-burning sonic experience for you to dig, explore and examine. FAUSTO CASAIS
THE WINTER PASSING Double Exposure EP
UNEARTHLY TRANCE Stalking The Ghost
Big Scary Monsters/6131 Records (2017)
Back in 2015, the young Irish quartet The Winter Passing released their very first album, A Different Space of Mind, an album that mixed punk with indie rock in a very effortless way. Double Exposure is the follow-up to that album and it follows the same patterns. Their musical sensibilities are sharper and more detailed. The group continue to incorporate the catchiest of the 90’s alternative rock and punk along with interwoven vocals of sibling vocalists Rob and Kate Flynn. These six songs are the result of a band with a cohesive sound, finding balance within their own growth as a band and as musicians. ANDREIA ALVES
Relapse Records (2017)
Fans of Unearthly Trance have long known that they can deliver acute depression with a single chord but the progressive flourishes and glimpses of classic metal mastery still strike a few new nerves on Stalking The Ghost. “Into The Spiral” hits hard and early with riffs big enough to take out an ocean liner, but the deeper you get into UT’s world, the more uncanny it becomes; frazzled solos lapse into walls of blackened fury, hashish-drenched souks become enveloped in droning miasma and the colossal transforms into the beguiling. If you want something weird and wonderful that will also crush your skull into splinters, look no further.
TREVOR SHELLEY DE BRAUW Uptown The Flenser (2017)
ounding member of Pelican, Trevor Shelley has just released his first solo album. One to keep company to the friends of the night, Uptown encloses a moody soundscape for insomniacs. The recordings started in a farmhouse somewhere in North Carolina, between 2005 and 2006, and were then finished in Chicago where Trevor and his wife live. Uptown might not be a groundbreaking release in 2017, especially when many of De Brauw’s peers have already ventured into this sort of guitar-driven atmospheric and minimalistic sound in the past, but still it is, still, a record worth checking out. At least try to picture this release ten years ago when it was first idealized. Moody and prone to reflection, and whether in the open field, watching the stars and the vast countryside sky, or strolling thought the grey labyrinths of the city, this is definitely a night album. RICARDO ALMEIDA
FILE UNDER: Pelican, Brian Eno, Barn Owl
THURSTON MOORE Rock N Roll Consciousness Caroline International (2017)
Rock N Roll Consciousness marks a new chapter in Thurston Moore’s creative path. With the same creative line-up since 2014, Deb Googe (of My Bloody Valentine, Snowpony) on bass, James Sedwards (Nøught, Chrome Hoof) on guitar and Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth, Crucifucks) on drums, Rock N Roll Consciousness is an abrasive and spontaneous effort. It combines Moore’s noisy experimental side with his unique way of making pop anthems sound adventurous, dirty and orgasmic. Thurston Moore’s prolific art statement is still relevant and fucking impressive and his refusal to settle into the rock n’ roll cliché world has over the years opened up a world of beautiful possibilities in his unpredictable musical invention. FAUSTO CASAIS
VAGABON Infinite Worlds
Father/Daughter Records (2017)
From the multicultural whirlwind that is New York, promising projects are born. The Indie can and shall feed on various musical identities to recreate itself, exactly what happens on this beautiful debut album Infinite Worlds by author Laetitia Tamko. The combination of folk and rock synthesized in lofi productions, emotionally close to the skin - every tremble of recordings is felt - creates empathy in an individual context in which Vagabon presents herself. Challenging in compositional terms to the scale of daily human challenges, the album is explorative. It lives in common places that do not exhaust themselves, on the contrary, they are lacking in other debut albums: the proximity to the most intimate side of the human being without fear of risking. RUI CORREIA
LAB Records (2017)
Scottish rock, with pop tendencies, outfit Vukovi definitely took their time. Almost six years after releasing their debut EP, the band fronted by the extremely energetic Janie Shilstone unveil their self-titled debut album and they don’t seem concerned with using an endless array of colours to create their painting. The multi-coloured universe of Vukovi – for both its sound and lyrical themes – can be off-putting since it becomes a challenge to follow the band’s frenetic pacing and constant hoping around. Even if it’s more a collection of songs than a coherent album what shows through is their raw talent, some truly ecstatic moments, and their seemingly potential to become a powerhouse name in the alternative rock scene. TIAGO MOREIRA
SWANS MAMIFFER JESU
WHILE SHE SLEEPS You Are We Self-Released (2017)
While She Sleeps return with another bold statement to perforate eardrums and prove how a band can produce stellar results when it truly becomes one with its fans. Through crowdfunding, the band self-produced and independently released their third full-length album You Are We raising the bar even higher. You Are We isn’t confined by any rules as it plays with catchy melodies and vocal hooks, but at the same time it’s devoid of any unnecessary, show-offy technicality. You Are We explores political themes without losing its personal character or trying too hard. As the album unfolds, you can feel all of the love and energy that the band devoted to its creation. This album is unapologetically angry and melodic; we dare you to listen to it without tapping your foot along to its infectious grooves. ANASTASIA PSARRA
WEDNESDAY 13 Condolences Nuclear Blast (2017)
The classic twist of evil, B-movie weirdness and the trademark lyrics mark the return of Wednesday 13 with his finest, heaviest and most solid effort ever. Condolences is indeed a departure from his punk rock/glam past, not saying that the album is completely devoid of Alice Cooper, Ramones or Misfits brushstrokes, but this time around everything sounds more tight and diverse: a full-on modern metal album free of clichés. Stomping into a far more epic territory, Condolences is packed with killer material, sounds unapologetically dangerous and it’s Wednesday 13’s starkest and most unpredictable, not to mention his most creative, release. FAUSTO CASAIS
WEAR YOUR WOUNDS Wear Your Wounds Deathwish Inc. (2017)
WHITE HILLS Stop Mute Defeat Thrill Jockey (2017)
White Hills not only have been prolific, but they’ve also tried to navigate themselves into new territories of their beloved psychedelic music. In that sense, Stop Mute Defeat shouldn’t be, at least on paper, a big surprise. Yes, it’s still the work from a band trying to push their boundaries, but their new album ends up being more of a well-structured and executed sonic revolution. Leaving a bit aside their guitar-driven structure. Dave W. and Ego Sensation end up with an offering that is industrially-charged with a great sense of space and time. Stop Mute Defeat ends up being dynamic within its dense nature that’s packed with spellbinding soundscapes. A clear step forward for White Hills. TIAGO MOREIRA
ear Your Wounds; there couldn’t be a better set of words to describe Jacob Bannon’s artistic life’s blood. Do you know why people walk around with Jane Doe t-shirts? It’s not just about Ben’s monstrous authority over the drum kit, nor Kurt’s signature tone and mad guitar style. It’s not even about Jacob’s relentless delivery, and how nice the guys are outside the stage. It’s about that gut feeling, that plain honesty that cannot be emulated. Untrained ears might perceive it has just aggressive music, but given a closer listen it shouldn’t be hard to realize that Converge comes, mostly, from a place of insecurity, struggle and loneliness. This being said, and past all the volume and distortion, past all the screaming and jumping around, Converge has become a harbor for the misfits, a shelter for the fragile, a lighthouse on a stormy night. Pushing himself into barely explored territory, Bannon is brave enough to share a set of tunes that seem to come straight from his dark days. It may not be the best set of songs in the world, but so is life: fractured, often cruel and faulty. RICARDO ALMEIDA
REVIEWED IN OUR NEXT ISSUE
Wire have been pioneers for four decades always refusing again to repeat themselves. Celebrating their 40th anniversary they refuse, once again, to go down memory lane and release their 15th full-length album. Their last three albums were amazing, dare to say they revitalized the band, so it comes as extremely unfortunate to have Silver/Lead on the menu. These ten songs are, for the most part, incredibly straight-forward for Wire’s standards and in the midst of all this directness something exciting gets lost. Nothing goes horribly wrong but nothing seems to go exceptional right either. It ends up just being a very stale and uninspired record with just a couple of highlights. TIAGO MOREIRA STAFF PICK
ZEAL & ARDOR Devil Is Fine Reflections (2017)
CHASTITY BELT I Used To Spent So Much Time Alone
RISE AGAINST Wolves
Despite both the blues and black metal being once tagged as the Devils music, it’s fair to say that the two don’t make the likeliest bedfellows, making Zeal & Ardors blend of African-American spiritualism and icy savagery both a logical evolution and something of a shock to the system. The power and authenticity of Manuel Gagneuxs chain-gang bellows will likely be a big draw for many, but its the incredible scope of the project that makes it truly stand out – music-box creepiness, neo-classical synths, melodic death metal and even a touch of Nick Cave-esque murder balladry make Devil Is Fine such an unpredictable entity that the ambition is worth the entry price alone. DAVE BOWES
SHABAZZ PALACES Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star
STONE SOUR Hydrograd
XIU XIU Forget
10/10 Upset The Rhythm (2017) Written during a period of superhuman productivity, Forget is Xiu Xiu’s 13th studio album since their debut Knife Play, released back in 2002. Synth-driven, highly experimental and Suicide influenced, Xiu Xiu is as prolific as dark, exquisite and, to lack of a better word, weird. Forget might be one of Xiu Xiu’s most ambitious and, I’d risk saying, introspective albums to date, but also the one that comes closer to pop territory – well, at least by Xiu Xiu’s standards. Rather danceable, Forget encloses the tension and dark aura ever-present in the bands back catalogue – plus, it also seems to be Jamie Stewart’s most personal and exposed effort in a long time. This, despite its overall avant-pop feel, makes Forget one of the heaviest, but delicately crafted, records you’ll be hearing this year. Needless to say it will definitely be RICARDO ALMEIDA among our favorites.
House Of Mythology (2017)
If ZU’s past works were steeped in the sounds of the Occident, Jhator is undoubtedly their channelling of the soul of the Orient; inspired by Tibetan funeral rites and various Egyptian texts, it strips back their weighty and often imposing instrumentation and opts instead for creeping minimalism to craft a structured yet formless sonic journey. The ominous “A Sky Burial” begins the rite, the flutter of strings mingling with organic chatter to echo some obtuse death rattle, while “The Dawning Moon Of The Mind” marks a rebirth, scattered synth swooshes and flickers of classical guitar paving the way for the ferrymans call of Luca T Mais sax. It’s less an album than a complete sensory experience, and sonic travellers everywhere would do well to get on board. DAVE BOWES
WAXAHATCHEE Out In The Storm
ALGIERS The Underside Of Power musicandriots.com
DIRECTOR: Jordan Peele STARRING: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephen Root, LilRel Howery, Ashley LeConte Campbell, John Wilmot, Caren L. Larkey, Julie Ann Doan, Rutherford Cravens, Geraldine Singer, Yasuhiko Oyama, Richard Herd, Erika Alexander, Jeronimo Spinx, Ian Casselberry USA 2017
wisted and rich with invention, Get Out is one of the most brilliant horror-satire statements in today’s independent cinema, orchestrating a
creepy and beautifully horrifying cinematic experience. Jordan Peele (of Comedy Central’s Key and Peele) makes his directing debut with one of the brightest and sharply funny examinations of racism in contemporary America through his social analysis. Get Out is remarkable in many aspects. An artful blend of tension, meticulous weirdness, top notch acting, incredibly deep and with a layered analysis of what racial paranoia, slavery and exploitation is all about.
When you first start watching the movie you will unavoidably start drawing comparisons to films like Meet Your Parents or even Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner as the initial setting is fairly similar. Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American photographer, is experiencing the stress of someone who’s about to meet his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents (wonderfully played by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) for the first time during a trip by visiting their
FILM & TV
country estate. However, in no time everything goes from awkwardness to creepiness while there’s this sense of political correctness surrounding the impeccable and pseudo progressive white family that totally clashes with their liberal values. Starting with their “black” help, their groundskeeper, Walter (Marcus Henderson), housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel) and their odd behavior, or even black sex slave Logan (Lakeith Stanfield), the only other black guest at the weekend party. If we think about movies like 12 Years A Slave or even Django Unchained, we get this immediate and straight in your face slavery and all the racial shame that
America is still struggling with. But what you get here is a perfect satire of what today’s America really stands for, fake political correctness, social and cultures clashes, the perfect portrait of the world we live in. Let’s call it progressive slavery but this time around there’s no shame whatsoever about it and people don’t appear to be too bothered to even think about that. With references of Tiger Woods or Barack Obama, or with sentences like, “My dad would’ve voted for Obama a third time if he could’ve,” “They are not racist,” or even “Did they know I’m black?”, this movie screams that America, Hollywood and social media have been failing
to discuss: the real issues, the real problems. Get Out really makes you think the absurd and nightmarish future ahead of us. Somewhere between Rosemary’s Baby, Night Of The Living Dead, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and The Stepford Wives, Jordan Peele’s social thriller brings a new and more realistic approach to filmmaking, paying homage to Martin Luther King, Hitchcock, Romero and even Carpenter. All this is enriched with sharp and brave social commentary and a modern twist regarding the complexity of societal issues. FAUSTO CASAIS
DIRECTOR: Barry Jenkins STARRING: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monáe, Naomie Harris, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Edson Jean, Patrick Decile, Herveline Moncion USA 2016
oonlight tells the tale of Chiron, a young black man, as he passes from childhood to manhood. It follows him down the winding path that shapes him as he is trying to unravel his true desires without being defined by his troubled life. The build up of scenes that lead to simple moments of interaction is what really defines this movie, a testament to human relationships and emotions. When life turns into an ongoing battle it’s those everyday moments that start to count. They are all you’re left with when you close your eyes at night and Moonlight does a great job of reminding us. Through Barry Jenkins’ prism we walk down avenues of self-exploration and self-realisations that may be painful at times but their purity offers relief. At times it’s almost like we’re taking a sneak peek into someone’s personal moments when we shouldn’t really be doing that, however we still feel welcome to carry on. Even the fluidity of Britell’s score for the film which marries hip hop elements with orchestral parts provides the perfect soundtrack for the broken but strong souls of the characters. There’s nothing contrived about this film; it may touch upon topics such as race, sexuality, identity and cultural backgrounds but the labels and definitions don’t seem to matter at any point throughout the film. Everything is overpowered by the dynamics that can develop among people and the strong connections that are developed when you let your guard down. Moonlight’s beauty is as uncommon and innocent as its ending scene, a child playing under the moonlight.
DIRECTOR: James Mangold STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Quincy Fouse, Al Coronel, Frank Gallegos USA/CANADA/AUSTRALIA 201 Logan is the third and final Wolverine solo film following X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013), and I dare to say this is probably the best Wolverine film. Set in 2029 when almost all mutants are gone, here we see Logan (Jackman) spending his days working as a chauffeur in Texas and meets often with mutant tracker Caliban in an abandoned smelting plant across the Mexican border, where they care for Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease which causes him to lose control of his telepathic abilities to destructive effect. Logan is as well suffering as his body has aged greatly and his adamantium skeleton is poisoning him. Trying to hide himself from the world, everything changes when he is approached by a mysterious woman that wants him to protect an 11-year-old girl named Laura (Keen) and take her to a place in North Dakota called “Eden”. Jackman is astonishing once again giving depth to Wolverine, Stewart is always magnificent, and Keen is as brutal as sweet. With a Last of Us kind of vibe, Logan is intense and powerful, it’s an excellent farewell from Jackman to this eternal hero.
FILM & TV
DIRECTOR: Olivier Assayas STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Lars Eidinger, Sigrid Bouaziz, Anders Danielsen Lie, Ty Olwin, Hammou Graïa, Nora von Waldstätten, Benjamin Biolay, Audrey Bonnet, Pascal Rambert, Aurélia Petit, Olivia Ross, Thibault Lacroix FRANCE/GERMANY 2016 Kristin Stewart is teaming up once again with Olivier Assayas two years after their collaboration in Clouds of Sils Maria, along with the amazing Juliette Binoche. Personal Shopper is very tough to pin down as it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole it in a category but it is undeniably stylish and terrifying. By day, American in Paris Maureen (Stewart) works as a personal shopper, by night, she attempts to channel the spirits of the dead, hoping to make contact with her recently deceased twin brother. Assayas’ script is very simple but it works like an open story, where scenes are totally open to different interpretations. This leaves the audience both thrilled and spooked as it’s hard to guess what’s going to happen next. A movie that brings to the audience all of the director’s simplicity and intuition.We could easily say that Personal Shopper is a contemporary ghost story, but that leaves behind all the intimacy, sensuality, complexity and psychological challenge of this film. Personal Shopper clearly invokes Lars Von Trier’s analytical and almost cerebral approach, Hitchcock’s brilliance to scare, turning an intentional simplistic plot into this weird and scary flick. Kristin Stewart continues to shine, her role is solidly strong and emotionally oscillates between grief and some kind of personal crisis, but the way she keeps her calm and levels the deepness of her emotions is impressive and deeply human. An instant classic. FAUSTO CASAIS
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
DIRECTOR: James Gunn STARRING: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock USA 2017 Without any kind of doubt, Guardians Of The Galaxy is one of the best Marvel films ever made. It was just hilarious and amusing in every aspect. Everything was just so damn amazing. The following up to it, the Vol. 2, could just be a complete disaster and fall into oblivion, but that’s far from happening, because this one is probably better than its predecessor. This time around, the peculiarly awesome team venture into Peter Quill’s true parentage after his father, Ego (Kurt Russell), reveals himself out of nowhere and explains his absence up until that moment. Eventually, the Guardians find out that things are not as wonderful as they seemed to be, leading to crazy and thrilling trials, with new characters and new challenges. With “Awesome Mixtape #2” as the backdrop, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is filled with awkward and silly jokes, but also with tender and heartfelt moments, giving depth to the film. Union, friendship and loyalty are the key words to describe Vol. 2 and it just makes us wanting more, which is totally going to happen! ANDREIA ALVES musicandriots.com
MASTODON + EAGLES OF DEATH METAL + RUSSIAN CIRCLES
Iron City, Birmingham - Alabama (USA) Words & Photos: Teddie Taylor
he Russian Circles, Eagles of Death Metal and Mastodon tour has no opener. Each with a distinct sound and show, the three bands created their own unique atmosphere that affected the audience in various ways. Russian Circles is visually and sonically unparallelled. Mike Sullivan, Dave Turncrantz and Brian Cook walked onto a dark stage and began playing. They occasionally sipped local Alabama IPA, but never spoke. When they played the last note of “Deficit,” they simply waved and exited. The trio needed nothing more than their respective instruments to be breathtaking; their lack of vocals was entirely unnoticeable as Sullivan’s riffs, Turncrantz’ pummeling drums and Cook’s heart-palpitating bass playing wove an emotional rising and falling tale. Every Russian Circles song is massive, dramatic and captivating--this was multiplied tenfold in the band’s presence. There are few experiences comparable to that of standing eyes-closed in front of the Chicago trio and allowing the influence of sound to take over every movement. The members of Eagles of Death Metal are polar opposites from Russian Circles in terms of showmanship. Where Russian Circles appeal to an introverted, analytical mind, EODM are as extroverted as possible. Rather than the band entering first, Brent Hinds of Mastodon and his grandmother lead the way onstage. At 94 years young, AB danced with the band as her grandson played along to “I Only Want You.” Jesse Hughes would later say, “That is the power of rock and roll.” Donning red sunglasses and suspenders, Hughes was an unceasing force; as a preacher would speak to his flock at a revival, the mustachioed redhead told of the gospel of rock and roll to his congregation. When Jesse prompted the crowd to sing along to “I Want You So Hard,” a beautiful moment ensued: every time the crowded venue repeated the lyrics, “The boy’s bad news,” back to the frontman, a genuine, cheek-tocheek ecstatic smile spread across his face. It’s impossible to decide whether the band or the audience had more fun singing along to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and EODM’s “Speaking In Tongues.” Pure, inescapable joy is what Eagles of Death Metal offered and delivered. Mastodon was everything the name infers: unshakable, powerful and loud. Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor were joined onstage by Hinds’ grandmother, who sat behind her grandson throughout the show and regularly rose to dance. Starting with the opener from their latest album Emperor of Sand, the quartet played a mix that kept the crowd in constant movement. (Contrary to the opinions of many, the new tracks melded into the set perfectly. The segue from “Steambreather” to “Mother Puncher” was incredible.) The comedy that has always emanated from the band was thankfully present in Sanders’ intense, hilarious stares at the audience and Brann Dailor’s Rodney Dangerfield and Redd Foxx emblazoned bass drum. The laughter and surprise carried on even when the show appeared to be over and Hinds took the mic yet again. With his entire family in the balcony and onstage, he asked the audience if they wanted to “see the coolest encore ever” and proceeded to propose to his girlfriend (who said yes!). As with Eagles of Death Metal, it was utterly impossible not to smile throughout Mastodon’s entire show.
BRENT HINDS (MASTODON)
BILL KELLIHER (MASTODON)
Y SANDERS (MASTODON)
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
BRANN DAILOR (MASTODON)
AFI + NOTHING + SOUVENIRS
White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas & Emo’s in Austin, Texas (USA) Words & Photos: Teddie Taylor
verything is bigger and better in Texas. For those following The Blood Tour across the state, there was nothing of more importance than Davey Havok’s “Miss Murder” scream and the possibility of seeing a song for the first time. Alongside California’s Souvenirs and Pennsylvania’s Nothing, AFI were in fantastic company for two sold-out back-to-back dates in the Lonestar State. The most thrilling part of any show is discovering a band or realizing that a group is far more deserving of the current attention they are allotted. Souvenirs become elevated and at their best in a live setting. Posture of Apology is an indie-rock dream that features none other than AFI vocalist Davey Havok; the tracks, when heard in-person, were more emotional and full of a life that recordings cannot capture. In Houston, the band gained countless new
fans; in Austin, those new fans knew the lyrics to their songs. Heavy with doses of shoegaze, Souvenirs were the perfect segue into Nothing. Nothing could have co-headlined The Blood Tour. For two nights, tears formed and eyes closed listening as the Philly-based band floated through their set. Amidst crystalline guitar sounds, though, Domenic Palermo’s banter with the audience shined a light on what makes Nothing wonderful. The dream pop/shoegaze/alternative rockers are known for Jameson, controversy and tour antics; it is borderline surprising that such pure, beautiful music comes from the same human beings. Perhaps it is that juxtaposition which sets Nothing apart from the other acts--they are as entertaining offstage as they are on. While the lyrics may be dark at times and the instrumental aspect of the band leans toward a Nirvana/
My Bloody Valentine hybrid, the sense of humor and over-the-top quality that surrounds the four members is as endearing as it is initially unexpected. While most of the audience was present for AFI, the Houston-to-Austin reaction to Nothing was one of immediate fandom. AFI have a prolific discography and career. They are a band worth following to multiple cities; in fact, most faces at the front of the barricade in Houston and Austin were the same. While hoarsely screaming along to “I Hope You Suffer,” reliving middle school to “Miss Murder” and reveling in the glory of “Snow Cats,” each night was uninhibited, sheer happiness. Mere inches from Davey’s face at times, he is a Dorian Gray-esque frontman who sounds as impeccable live as on record (and he can still scream as well as he did on Decemberunderground). Between Havok and Jade
DROPKICK MURPHYS + SLAPSHOT Dom Omladine (Youth Center), Belgrade (Serbia) Words: Miljan Milekić // Photos: Tamara Samardžić
Never ever in history of Serbia a concert
Puget’s nonstop movement and the red lighting, their show was as much a visual experience as it was a sonic one. It was, and is, hard to fathom that the band has existed for over 25 years... As the best live bands do, the group performed different setlists both nights while making sure to include popular favorites every show. According to recent setlists, there was a high chance of seeing a never-before performed AFI song; on Valentine’s Day, the band fulfilled dreams and played “So Beneath You” and “Reiver’s Dream” for the first time ever. The nights seemed never ending--and everyone would have been delighted if that were true. All synonyms of “amazing” are applicable to the lineup of The Blood Tour. The three bands represented different ideas, made distinct music and created their own worlds during their sets.
was sold out in just 72 hours. Dropkick Murphys did something nobody had done before, and the expectations for this concert were sky-high. Not only that until the day before people were trying to buy tickets for the double price, but on the night of the show there were almost a hundred fans just outside the club trying to find a ticket, or to sneak in somehow. Legendary Boston punks have never played in Serbia before, and their fan base here is huge, loyal and very diverse. There were punks, Celtic music lovers, and supporters of different football teams who would wreak havoc any other day, but this night, in a packed club, they were all as one. But let’s not forget the first band – the Boston hardcore scene pioneers Slapshot. The four-piece did play in Belgrade a few years ago, but not in front of a crowd like this. Although it was only the first few rows who participated actively in the show, the band delivered a high amount of energy, combining some of the legendary songs from the past with some of the newer stuff. From the moment Dropkick Murphys hit the stage, the venue exploded. More than 1000 fans were singing every single word with the band, who seemed to be a bit
surprised by the warm welcome. With the new record 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory by their side, and a few dozens of older hits under their belt, the band managed to maintain an intense atmosphere during the whole show. From “The Lonesome Boatman”, “Blood”, “Rebels with a Cause” or “First Class Loser”, to “The State of Massachusetts”, “Going Out in Style”, to “Ballroom Hero” or “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya”, the hands were up in the air, gallons of beer were being spilt everywhere, and even a flare torch was fired up. “Rose Tattoo” offered one of the best moments of the show, considered almost as an anthem, and sung by every single soul in the club. Not far was “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” welcomed with mass hysteria in the crowd. Encore was mandatory, and it started with “The Boys Are Back” while “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” saw many ladies on the stage with the band. “Skinhead on the MBTA” and “Until the Next Time” got the boys joining them while the concert was coming to an end. Dropkick Murphys were waited for too long in Serbia, and this show was more than enough to prove it. With much adrenaline in our veins and anthems in our ears, we left the venue wishing it won’t be long until they came back. We will be there, waiting. musicandriots.com
A DAY TO REMEMBER
+ NECK DEEP + MOOSE BLOOD Gasometer, Wien (Austria) Words: Miljan Milekić // Photos: Tamara Samardžić
I MOOSE BLOOD
A DAY TO REMEMBER
f there were any doubts, this tour blew them off. A Day To Remember have entered the big league. Bad Vibration may not be their best work, but it was just what the band needed. Huge songs, more than a few with hit potential, combined with older favorites gave the band enough material for almost two-hour set full of smashers. Add in their biggest production yet, and the stage presence they’re known for, and you have the whole package. Smart choice of supporting acts made this tour even more special. Next generation of indie emo sound provided by relatively new band Moose Blood, was just enough to get the crowd in the mood. They still don’t look quite comfortable on the big stage, but occasions like this are just what they need. Neck Deep on the other hand, although young, looked far more experienced and ready. Their record Life’s Not Out to Get You made them one of the “big boys” of the pop punk scene, and their hard work is what keeps them there. Their forty-minute set had just enough depth to get the crowd going, and to make headliner’s job easier. Since the big screens showed the message “Shit’s working” a few moments before the show began, it was perfectly clear what we should expect. A Day To Remember sounded strong, powerful, and ready to tear the place down. They may have serious production, but they made sure not to be taken too seriously. Confetti, t-shirts, beach balls and inflatable toys, even some toilet-paper were launched from the stage while crowd responded with big circle pits, crowd surfing, riding the inflatable whales and alligators or even “surfing on a crowd surfer”. A Day To Remember may have enough riff power to compete with any metal band around, but it’s the melodies that make their sound so big - sing-alongs were part of every single song. Having fans that are loyal and ready to have fun made the band look happy and amused on the stage. In their core, A Day To Remember are a pop punk band. They do have some serious songs, they do approach some serious topics in their music, letting many fans relate to them and make such strong connection. They do, but they have never forgotten how to have fun. That last component is the most important one at their shows, and the one that makes their shows exactly what their band name says. And let’s pretend this didn’t sound cheesy.
THE WONDER YEARS
THE WONDER YEARS + TINY MOVING PARTS Kavka, Antwerp (Belgium) Words & Photos: Maria Amaral
TINY MOVING PARTS
iny Moving Parts warmed up Kavka’s stage for The Wonder Years, gifted with an unmatched energy, the trio from Minnesota raised the bar leaving the public with high expectations to what would follow. Tiny Moving Parts deliver a show, more than just a concert. From the interaction with the fans to their determination to the show, and also the setlist itself. Everything works together to offer an intense experience that fills the audience with vivacity. It’s without a doubt a show with a heavy emotional load where the band conveys how much is devoted to each theme. The most interesting aspect is how happy we feel listening to their emo music, the constant smiling in Dylan’s face, his contagious energy and how he interacts with the rest of the band made this concert an experience to remember and to be repeated. When The Wonder Years set foot on stage the audience is already in a state of ecstatic joy. The set was focused mostly on their last album, No Closer To Heaven. Dan’s emotion is more than obvious throughout the entire performance. Dan kneels, cries, opens his arms and receives the voice of the public as if it was an essential drug to his survival, proving a super emotional experience to everyone watching and listening. It’s indeed interesting at first until it becomes saturating. What initially seemed to be real becomes too dramatic, theatrical skimming, and even ridiculous I dare to say. The environment becomes too stifling, the walls seem to shrink and what should be a concert begins to turn into a scene of joint depression that drains all the energy, but still the general public seems to enjoy the sadness. Happy to see them, but I ended up leaving and craving a good dose of comedy films. musicandriots.com
CODE ORANGE + YOUTH CODE + GATECREEPER White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas & Emo’s in Austin, Texas (USA) Words & Photos: Teddie Taylor
atecreeper, Youth Code and Code Orange performing on the same bill was the most diverse, thrilling night of 2017. Death metal, electronic/industrial metal and hardcore/metalcore are very different, very distinct sub genres, yet they possess enough similarities to lead into one another seamlessly. Arizona’s Gatecreeper is amongst the best actively touring death metal bands. Playing better “old school death metal” than some older bands themselves, their doom-ridden sound is a glimpse into the depraved landscape from which they hail. Chase Mason’s barking vocals were pitted against buzzsaw riffs and occasional funerary tones (see the intro to “Patriarchal Grip”) that created a sense of impending damnation to the saguaro filled Sonoran. Starting with their record opener “Craving Flesh” and playing through most tracks from the LP, the set was a nonstop barrage that was familiar, yet entirely fresh.
Gatecreeper have toured extensively behind their debut Sonoran Depravation and every show further endears them more to old and new death metal fans alike. Youth Code encountered sound problems early on, but the setback disappeared as the duo captivated Houston with their take on the industrial and electronic genres. Frantic, impassioned and completely in tune with one another, Sara Taylor and Ryan George set themselves apart in every way, from sound to message to the performance itself. Lyrically, Youth Code songs are important--taking on animal and human rights, politics and mental health. To add to their already meaningful statements, George’s equipment setup was fronted with “CASH ASKEW ETERNAL” in memory of the late Them Are Us Too guitarist. Taylor’s husky, assertive vocals were distinct against the synths and effects with which George created a sonic palette existing somewhere in between the 90s and distant future. Ending their set
with their powerful “Consuming Guilt,” they were most assuredly an act best seen up front sans earplugs. Code Orange went above and beyond I Am King with Forever. In a live setting, they pushed even further past their already hard-hitting records and become another, stronger entity. Tracks like “My World” and “Spy” are antagonistic and vehement in nature--traits which characterize the majority of Code Orange’s appeal and make their shows exciting, unpredictable and aggressive. Hardcore at heart, the band, though now signed to a major label, could create the atmosphere of the smallest, darkest venue in an arena. Between Jami Morgan fueling the desire to mosh from behind his drums and Joe Goldman stalking the front of the stage and pacing to encourage the already voracious pit, there was a simultaneous sense of danger and ecstasy coursing through the audience. Apart from Goldman’s intimidating figure
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE Understage, Porto (Portugal)
Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Felícia Vaz at the forefront, Reba Meyers’ unceasing movement was the focus of all eyes for the majority of the set. It was almost difficult to pinpoint a band leader or watch one are of the stage too long throughout the night. Meyers commanded attention with her frequent vocals and red hair flying as she played guitar. Morgan sat atop the drum riser contributing vocals to most songs while fulfilling his half of the rhythm. Goldman was the ringleader who controlled the audience while completing the rhythm section. Eric Balderose lent a metal appearance and death metal growls to most tracks while controlling all electronics and synths, as well as guitar. Touring guitarist/vocalist Dominic Landolina naturally meshed with the core four and may as well become a permanent member. An aura of power surrounds Code Orange and permeates their music; it was a complete adrenaline rush to be in the same room as the Philadelphia band.
hen in 2015 was announced that Emma Ruth Rundle had to cancel her performance at that year’s Amplifest (in Porto), a great sadness was seen by all of those who were yearning to see her live for the first time, mainly because she had just released her first staggering solo record [Some Heavy Ocean, 2014]. Two years later and with a brand new solo record [Marked For Death, 2016], Emma played in three different cities in Portugal, and Porto was one of them. The live show took place at Understage, a venue that has an interesting dark and immersive space, but wasn’t the best one to witness Emma’s superb work. In an intimate and moody atmosphere, Emma played a handful of songs from her two solo records, switching of electric and acoustic guitar in between songs. Emma performed solo - obviously with no backing band - and that did lack some energy and intensity of the studio recordings from both albums, and that was noticeable on a song like “Protection”. Being very shy to such enthusiastic audience, Emma delivered an emotional and intense performance, ending the show with “Real Big Sky” leaving her in tears as well those who were empathised by all of her passion and dedication. Even though it was a really short setlist and probably the venue wasn’t by far the best for such distinguished artist, Emma delivered a breathtaking and emotionally heavy performance. musicandriots.com
Hard Club, Porto (Portugal)
Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Andreia Alves
GRAILS + MAJEURE
nice spring night with a pleasant breeze. That was the environment in which once again Porto received, with open arms, a visit from one of the most unique acts around these days. David Eugene Edwards is a unique character, and under the Wovenhand banner and with the company of Ordy Garrison, Chuck French (Planes Mistaken For Stars), and Neil Keener (Planes Mistaken For Stars), he found a way to broaden his already unique scope and to deepen that same uniqueness. The show – that served to present the band’s last album, Star Treatment – served as another testament to that singularity. When it comes to Wovenhand is not only the music that is and sounds unique, perhaps more importantly is how strong the spiritual bond between act and audience is, and how Edwards manages to carry an entire audience through an extremely cathartic and liberating experience… in a way that actually seems effortless and unintentional, weirdly enough. With a set mostly divided between Star Treatment and the exceptionally remarkable album that is Refractory Obdurate – there was also space for “King O King” (The Laughing Stalk) and “Sinking Hands” (The Threshingfloor) – the show was a mix of the sheer heaviness of their sharply toned rock and all the gracefulness and assertiveness of their folk. Once again, Wovenhand proved why their shows are one of the most rewarding experiences that a music fan can have.
Stereo, Glasgow (UK) Words: Dave Bowes
f the universe truly started with a bang, does Majeure’s explosive beginning tonight make his set a time and space-spanning concept piece? It’s unlikely, but Anthony Paterra’s furious 30-minute drum ‘n’ synth set is spectacular stuff nonetheless, a handful of muted yet infinitely danceable backing loops setting the tempo for what could be described as a 30-minute drum solo (and yet is so much more). Paterra’s innate grasp of rhythm and momentum makes the simple premise a fiery workout that’s as invigorating for the crowd as it is for him, and though it might not be to everyone’s tastes, there’s little denying the little slice of genius that was just witnessed. There’s a notion that Grails are one of those ‘cinematic’ bands, which usually just means it’s the audio equivalent of very fancy wallpaper, but while the term might be applicable, the definition sure isn’t. It’s cinematic in the sense of actually watching a movie, where the constant barrage of images, sound and movement draws you fully into the moment, creating a narrative that is psychedelic, emotional and just plain groovy. They alternate positions and instruments with unnerving frequency, switching up not only the tone but also the whole vibe of the evening as they do so. The resulting performance is a fluidic spectacle, as notable for the skilful executions of its players as for the sheer mind-exploding bliss of their compositions. The choice to trot out “Pelham” early in the set is a cunning one, its chase-scene pulse pumping up the tension in the room, an effect which continues until “Belgian Wake-Up Drill” transports everyone to another dimension, an existence where drone is all and all is drone. On record, Grails are one of the most transformative bands to have ever picked up guitars, and in person they’re something approaching the stuff of legend.
Art School, Glasgow (UK) Words: Dave Bowes
The whole concept of music as spectacle is a curious thing. Sure, S U R V I V E might not be throwing shapes and working the room into a frenzy, but there’s no mistaking the sheer magnetism of watching the Texan foursome at work, each one perched behind a fortress of wires and steel like the cast of Clerks forming a Kraftwerk covers band and intently focused on fine-tuning the momentum of this enigmatic performance. Despite their recent surge in popularity with Kyle Dixon and Michael Steins Stranger Things success, the set isn’t content to pander to the new crowd, with a delve back into the gloomy slasher-flick punch of Hourglass marking the first of tonight’s many high points. It’s a thoroughly creepy work that, backed by the quartet’s intense focus, rapidly swells into a nightmare of disco beats and skewed splatters of synth. A handful of newer cuts sends the atmosphere deeper into the mire, an impressive feat considering the sparse backlighting on offer. A.H.B. and Wardenclyffe are both pitch-black gems, and the delicacy with which they are pulled off seems to add to their power to immerse the room in other worlds, or even entire new universes, for a brief spell. It’s the familiar pulsations of Stranger Things theme, a now-iconic blend of Tangerine Dream soundbuilding coupled with John Carpenters knack for a slight, well-constructed hook, that pulls the room back into the now, and by the time “Holographic Landscape” hits, at least a few are ready to get down and move for one last hurrah. S U R V I V E are one of the few synthwave artists around who exist outside of nostalgias tight grasp and tonight was a demonstration of their power to create something both timeless and transformative.
MESHUGGAH + THE HAUNTED O2 ABC, Glasgow (UK) Words: Dave Bowes
There’s no doubt that for most here tonight, The Haunted
are a trip down memory lane. The Swedish thrashers haven’t been round these parts in many moons, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s a classics-heavy set on offer, from the righteously malevolent “No Compromise to Hate Song”, one of the finest odes to violence set to record. There’s little impression that this is a band running through the motions and between Marco Aros upbeat growling amidst such lyrical misanthropy and the fluid melodicism of Jonas Björlers solos, there’s a real sense of enthusiasm at being back that keeps the crowd whirling and flailing with gusto. No such nostalgia can be attached to Meshuggah. If anything, they’ve perpetually sounded like they were from some dystopian future where order and chaos have become one and the same, making every performance a unique and sometimes disorienting experience. A frankly staggering lighting show plays no small part in this complete sensory overhaul but even if they were playing naked and in pitch darkness, the effect would be the same. They toe the line between chaos and rigid order, between dissonance and insistent, gut-punchingly effective riffery, so well that it’s never quite possible to retain focus on any one aspect for long. The meme worthiness of Jens Kidman hasn’t diminished over the years, his gurning and coarse roar oddly endearing, but it’s the mighty twosome of Fredrik Thordendal and Tomas Haake who are the key to Meshuggahs genius, with Haakes mechanical two-step percussion locking Bleed down tighter than Fort Knox and Thordendal sounding more and more like an 8-string Terminator with each progressive riff. Clockworks and Nostrum show that theres more to them than mathematical madness, but Future Breed Machine? If there was ever a demonstration of a band ahead of their time, this is it. They are kings of a genre of their own making, and long may they reign.
SUM 41 + PÆRISH Arena, Wien (Austria)
Words: Miljan Milekić // Photos: Tamara Samardžić
aving a venue like Gasometer sold out isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially on your own. Apologies to French boys Pærish, who did great job in the supporting role, even catching some great reactions from the crowd, but a few were there mainly for them. Around 2000 people gathered up to see MTV pop punk idols Sum 41 in their new incarnation, propelled with the new record 13 Voices. The five-piece broke their hiatus last year, and made a big comeback that got them all over the world. Even the quick look at the crowd was enough to see that the band’s still got the relevance many thought they lost. Everybody was there – from the “MTV Generation” in their late 20s and 30s, to the new kids ready to take their place. There were punks, metalheads, skateboarders, and everyone in between, while t-shirts varied from Green Day, Ramones and Rancid to Iron Maiden, Metallica or Parkway Drive. The first few songs were more than enough to prove that the band’s still got it. With three guitars turned up to eleven, and the crowd ready to have some fun, the party could start. Fun can be the keyword of this show, although the band did offer lots of serious and heavily emotional moments. Combining old and new, punk, pop and metal, party with a punk rock show, their almost two-hour set was filled with good vibrations. Even the slight problems with sound on a few songs could not spoil the atmosphere. From the smoke machines and balloons to improvised stage in the middle of the crowd and the huge inflatable skeleton with four fingers up in one, and the middle finger up in the other hand, everything was just so Sum 41. Even the very end and “Pain for Pleasure” where the band went full “glam” with wigs, sunglasses and leather outfits was just what the fans wanted from them. Sum 41 did start as a teenage band, but they grew into much more than that. Their shows do offer emotion, seriousness, social and political commentary, but for more than a few moments it’s just about fun. And maybe just a little bit of nostalgia. musicandriots.com
SLOWDIVE OXBOW CHASTITY BELT ALGIERS WAXAHATCHEE HO99O9 STONE SOUR NINETEEN FIFTY EIGHT NOGA EREZ PVRIS RISE AGAINST GIRLPOOL CIGARETTES AFTER SEX RIDE SHABAZZ PALACES SLÃ˜TFACE RANCID AND MUCH MORE... WAXAHATCHEE - JESS RIGGINS
Featuring: King Woman, Father John Misty, Xiu Xiu, Idles, Goldfrapp, The Black Angels, Wear Your Wounds, Pallbearer, AFI, Mastodon, Planning...
Published on May 8, 2017
Featuring: King Woman, Father John Misty, Xiu Xiu, Idles, Goldfrapp, The Black Angels, Wear Your Wounds, Pallbearer, AFI, Mastodon, Planning...