MUSIC&RIOTS FREE | ISSUE 23
ZOLA JESUS THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
EX EYE EMA BURN SATYRICON ALGIERS NOGA EREZ OXBOW ENTER SHIKARI ANNIE HART CHELSEA WOLFE THE MOVIELIFE HOT WATER MUSIC HUNDREDTH SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG JADE JACKSON CIGARETTES AFTER SEX STEVEN WILSON WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM & MUCH MORE...
MUSIC&RIOTS FREE | ISSUE 23
NOGA EREZ THE INNOVATORS ISSUE ISSUE 23
EX EYE EMA BURN SATYRICON ALGIERS ZOLA JESUS OXBOW ENTER SHIKARI ANNIE HART CHELSEA WOLFE THE MOVIELIFE HOT WATER MUSIC HUNDREDTH SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG JADE JACKSON CIGARETTES AFTER SEX ZOLA JESUS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM & MUCH MORE...
MUSIC&RIOTS FREE | ISSUE 23
STEVEN WILSON THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
EX EYE EMA BURN SATYRICON ALGIERS NOGA EREZ OXBOW ENTER SHIKARI ANNIE HART CHELSEA WOLFE THE MOVIELIFE HOT WATER MUSIC HUNDREDTH SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG JADE JACKSON CIGARETTES AFTER SEX ZOLA JESUS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM & MUCH MORE...
THE INNOVATORS ISSUE
70 // ZOLA JESUS - It was about the new landmark in her career, the Okovi LP, the return to her roots, and many more that we centered our conversation with one of popâ€™s brightest stars.
30 // SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG + Q&A 32 // THE FEVER 32 // CHAPEL 33 // CURSED EARTH 33 // SAUROPOD 34 // JADE JACKSON + Q&A 36 // PATIENCE + Q&A
10 // CHASTITY BELT 14 // PAPA ROACH 18 // HUNDREDTH 22 // NORTHLANE 26 // EX EYE 38 // HOT WATER MUSIC 48 // CIGARETTES AFTER SEX 52 // ANNIE HART 56 // THE MOVIELIFE 66 // ENTER SHIKARI 76 // WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM 80 // ALGIERS 86 // EMA 90 // BURN 100 // CHELSEA WOLFE 110 // L.A. WITCH 120 // SATYRICON
16 // MELT-BANANA: Grind-Pop From Beyond The Stars REVIEWS
94 // ALBUMS 132 // FILM & TV 136 // LIVE REVIEWS
THE LEGENDS SPEAK OUT 140 // OXBOW 6
42 // NOGA EREZ
- Her debut album Off The Radar, Tel Aviv, and the importance of balance, were some of the subjects of our conversation with one of the most exciting new artists around.
FREE | ISSUE 23 | AUTUMN ISSUE
FOUNDER / EDITOR IN CHIEF Fausto Casais (email@example.com)
DEPUTY EDITORS Andreia Alves (firstname.lastname@example.org) Tiago Moreira (email@example.com)
ART EDITOR // DESIGNER Fausto Casais
FILM EDITORS Fausto Casais & Andreia Alves
CONTRIBUTORS Nuno Babo, Nuno Teixeira, Dave Bowes, Ricardo Almeida, Josh Coombs, April Fox, Teddie Taylor, Euan Andrews, Joe Doyle, Miljan Milekić, Ryan Daniel, Andi Chamberlain, Eliza Britney, Mark McConville, Sam Mendez Anastasia Psarra, Jamie Van Beveren, Antigoni Pitta, Annayelli Flores, Jorge Alves, Rui Correia
PHOTOGRAPHERS Andreia Alves, Ricardo Almeida, Miguel De Melo, Teddie Taylor, Kat Bennett
COVER STORY CREDITS
60 // STEVEN WILSON
- We took some time to chat with Steven to understand what were his motivations and inspirations behind what can be considered one of his most intriguing works up to date.
WORDS FROM THE EDITOR
e’re lucky enough to work with artists who, over the years, have helped to shape the current music scene. It’s also quite rewarding to see many new artists pushing genres to their limits, always striving for new things, always bringing something fresh to the table. These bands and artists are driven by the urgency to create in a way that defines them personally and artistically. Taking on the challenge of creating something groundbreaking that challenges the status quo is something we need to embrace and celebrate. Welcome to our brand new issue, the “Innovators Issue”. We’re very pleased to have Zola Jesus, Noga Erez and Steven Wilson on our three stunning covers as it brings together three different worlds, three different innovating artists. Let’s take a moment to dig deeper into our “Innovators Issue”. From avant-garde/art rock heavyweights Oxbow to influential acts like The Movielife (welcome back guys!), Hot Water Music and the genre-resistant revolutionaries Algiers. From hardcore legends Burn to black metal heroes Wolves In The Throne Room. From the challenging Erika M Anderson aka EMA to country’s new queen Jade Jackson. Not to mention Enter Shikari’s unpredictable and endless creativity! There’s a lot to take in with this new issue, many different mindsets and above all revolutionary new and old school artists that have shaped our global music scene in the past, are still doing it now and will continue to do so in the next few years. Your Editor, Fausto Casais
Zola Jesus - Timothy Saccenti and Michael Cina Noga Erez - Tonje Thilesen Steven Wilson - Lasse Hoile
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WEBSITE: musicandriots.com All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without our permission. The views expressed in MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine is published four times a year
RESIST FASCISM DIY IS THE ONLY WAY musicandriots.com
CHASTIT irst of all, congrats on the new record! I’ve been following you since No Regerts and at this point, listening to your discography in orderfeels like joining you on a journey to maturity. How much do you feel you’ve grown, musically and emotionally since you first started playing? A whole lot. Half the songs on No Regerts were written in college, so yes thankfully we have grown a bunch both musically and emotionally since then. The music we made then still holds up in a way, maybe because we will never be able to make that kind of music again.
On first listen, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is a little more serious than people would expect, but at the same time it has a sincerity that makes it really special. What can you tell us about the inspiration behind the album? I got to a point where I wanted to write
more honest and sincere songs. I sort of already have an outlet for joke songs with my other band Childbirth. Being sincere and vulnerable in front of people is really hard for me, but it’s a challenge I’m trying to take on. Which songs on the album are you most proud of? “Used to Spend” and “It’s Obvious” are a couple personal favorites. What’s your songwriting process like in general? Usually I’ll come up with a chord progression, maybe some lyrics or at least a melody and I’ll play it for the rest of the band until they come up with their parts. Same thing for the songs that Gretchen and Lydia sing, except they’re the ones coming to the band with their song. Occasionally songs will also start from a jam we come up with in practice. You’ve always kept humor in your
songwriting arsenal, but here it’s not as pronounced, if present at all. Do you feel that you’ve found the confidence to let go of it now, on your third album, or was that not a conscious decision? It wasn’t exactly a conscious decision, but it was just the direction our songwriting seemed to be going. It’s not exactly new for us, most of the songs on Time To Go Home were also pretty sincere. Writing joke songs is really easy for me, but it doesn’t feel quite as rewarding. I also feel like our songs have gotten more complicated and musically a bit sadder. It’s hard to write joke lyrics to sincere sounding music. When you were writing this album, did you realize how relatable it would be? Because I have to tell you most of the songs have made me cry, not only because they perfectly captured specific emotions or thoughts I’ve had, but because they validated them. Do you think it’s a general thing among our generation to have our teen angst develop into something more deep-seated?
Growing up is tough, and Chastity Belt know this. Starting out as a bit of a joke among college friends, they’re leaving Seattle parties behind for the onslaught of emotions that come with entering your mid-twenties. Upon the release of their latest album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, we spoke to Julia Shapiro about growing up, feminism, giving a fuck, and the value of vulnerability in songwriting. Words: Antigoni Pitta // Photo: Carley Solether
TY BELT Wow, that’s amazing to hear. I didn’t really think about how others would relate to the album while I was writing it because I think that might cause me to get too in my head about stuff. I tend to keep lyrics a little vague so I think it makes it easy for people to fill in the blanks in a way that applies to their lives. I’m glad people are able to relate, it makes me feel less alone in my fears and anxieties. How do you deal when those late-night thoughts hit? Do you have any tips? Keep a journal. I don’t know, I haven’t really figured it out yet myself. What has the general reception to I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone been so far? Was it what you anticipated or hoped for? It seems like people are really connecting to it. I’m happy with how it’s being received so far. This is obviously a loaded question and I shouldn’t have to ask it, but I do have to ask it; how often are you faced with
assumptions that are purely based on your gender (by labels/roadies/other musicians/audience)? Fairly often, but I try not to get too down on it or to overanalyze everything people say from a feminist perspective, because it just becomes really exhausting. Sexism and racism are just so deeply rooted in our society that it’s pretty hard to not find it everywhere if you’re constantly looking for it. I feel like a lot of young women will appreciate this album because it doesn’t shy away from the ugly. How important is it to you, both as musicians and as human beings, to show this kind of vulnerability in a culture that expects “girl bands” (cringe) to capitalize on being “fierce” and wear their feminism like an accessory? I am pretty disgusted by the idea of feminism as an accessory. Luckily, I don’t see that too often in female musicians, at least not in the music scene that we’re in. It feels like more of a media reaction to women making music, which is frustrating. I don’t see it too
often, but I find it depressing when all-female bands play into the patriarchy by producing music that’s already been done by (super sexist) men ages ago. It just feels to me like those women are creating music that they think men would like rather than music that comes straight from their own personal experience -- and then slapping on a label of feminism. I am happy to see a lot of female musicians today creating original music without any desire to please men or to play into a genre defined by men. That’s what feminism in music is to me. I’m also trying my best not to play into an idea of feminism created by the media. It feels like people are treating feminism as a fad, which is gross. This dude actually asked us once if we were in an all female band because that was in right now. Barf barf barf! So, as a conclusion: is it cool to give a fuck? Yeah, it’s the coolest.
I USED TO SPEND SO MUCH TIME ALONE IS OUT NOW VIA HARDLY ART musicandriots.com
LISTENING POST EERA Reflection of Youth Big Dada Available on November 3
ST. VINCENT Masseduction Loma Vista Recordings Out Now
ANTI-FLAG American Fall Spinefarm Records Available on November 3
CAVALERA CONSPIRACY Psychosis Napalm Records Available on November 17
DEATH OF LOVERS The Acrobat DAIS Records Available on November 24
CONVERGE The Dusk in Us Epitaph/Deathwish Inc. Available on November 3
CIRCUIT DES YEUX Reaching For Indigo Drag City Available on October 20
THE BREEDERS, THE J BACK! NEW MUSIC, RE
METZ Strange Peace Sub Pop Out Now
head of their upcoming tour dates in Europe and North America, The Breeders announce their return to 4AD with the infectious new track, “Wait in the Car”. The single is the first music to be released by the classic line-up behind the iconic album, Last Splash. This brand new track marks the welcome reunion of band members Kim and Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson. The quartet returned to the stage in 2013 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their influential and iconic record Last Splash and have since been spending time together in the studio working on new material. The single will also form part of a series of 7”s releases. One will be available at the band’s upcoming tour dates, starting October 15 (pressed on orange vinyl, featuring a cover of Amon Düül II’s 1970 track “Archangel’s Thunderbird”, recorded with Steve Albini in Chicago). Another will be available exclusively at select independent record stores from October 27 (pressed on yellow vinyl and including a cover of Devo’s “Gates of Steel”). Details of
QUICKSAND Interiors Epitaph Available on November 10
BULLY Losing Sub Pop Available on October 20
JESUS LIZARD & PEDRO THE LION ARE EUNION SHOWS & TOURS ANNOUNCED a third version (featuring Kim’s dreamy reimagining of Mike Nesmith’s “Joanne” and pressed on red vinyl) will be announced later in the year. “It all started with a brick,” the pair say. “We both liked the idea of using something iconic yet quite banal. An old brick has a story and it’s a beautiful raw object. We started collecting more and more (some intact, some broken) and realised how different they all appear, each one having its own identity.” The Breeders are already on tour with a good run of 19-date EU and North America that will last till November.
and he just announced what we all have been expecting for some time. The late’90s and early ’00s, the Seattle influential indie-folk outfit Pedro The Lion, who broke up in 2006, will reunite. They already announced two Portland and two Seattle shows for this December, and perhaps a full EU/US tour will follow. Earlier this year, Bazan released an album and toured with his new band Lo Tom (which also includes Pedro the Lion members TW Walsh and Trey Many).
ost-hardcore/noise rock legends The Jesus Lizard recently revealed that they’d be reuniting for the first time in eight years to
avid Bazan is having a very busy 2017,
play Houston’s Day For Night festival. After an eight-year hiatus, the Jesus Lizard will reunite for a short run of U.S. dates this December. It will be their first shows since 2009. The Jesus Lizard originally came together in 1987 before calling it quits in 1999. They later re-formed in 2008 for touring while promoting their remastered reissues of the group’s catalogue on indie-label Touch and Go, but didn’t pursue any dates beyond 2009. Since the 2009 split, guitarist Duane Denison released a new album with the supergroup Tomahawk, Oddfellows, and frontman David Yow put out a solo LP, Thought You Look Like a Spider, both in 2013. musicandriots.com
WELCOME BACK + ON TOUR
A NEW & FRESH APPROACH It’s undeniable that Papa Roach defined a generation. Their songs were anthems for a lot of people growing up and their perseverance was always maintained intact record after record. Crooked Teeth is their brand new album and they went back to the early days as a band, but with a new fresh approach. We got the chance to talk with Tobin Esperance about their awesome new album. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Darren Craig t’s been a while since Papa Roach formed, which was back in 1997. Where do you see yourselves at this point of your career? At this point looking back at it, it’s been almost 20 years since our first record has been out and I’m just grateful for the longevity, you know? Just the fact that our fans have allowed us to keep doing what we love to do all this time and the fact that we’re still around playing massive shows, having fun, feeling good and strong and excited about the music. I just think it’s a pretty rare thing. Moving forward, I feel like we’re excited to make another record and see what that leads us five years from now and I think we just kind of take one record at a time. Everytime we release a record, it’s like “Let’s see what
the next two years are gonna bring us in order to shape the next record” and after that we just revalue everything again. After all these years, “Last Resort” is still such a powerful and awesome song. How do you look at that song right now? I’m proud of “Last Resort”, I love that song. Everytime we play that song, people just love it. It’s been like an anthem for a lot of people growing up. It’s just a powerful song. I feel like it became like a classic. You never expect anything like that, especially for us that we were all so young and very new to the whole music industry and the whole mainstream thing, so we didn’t expect any of it. That song just came down with doors wide open for us. It was very exciting and a lot to take in back then, but like I said it was very exciting.
Crooked Teeth sees you guys returning to your early days with old-school hip hop, heavy riffs and textural electronica. You approach a lot of different styles and that makes this album even greater. Tell us more about your writing approach this time around. This record was really about just being true to our vision. We wanted to get back to a place where we were just a bit more excited about the music that we were making and incorporating more of the style that were authentic to Papa Roach. A little bit more of attitude, a little bit more of rap style that Jacoby had. Always bringing the catchy riffs, the big chorus and melodies, big beats and all the things that get us excited about music. We don’t have any rule, we don’t like to have boundaries. Other people are going to put genres and tags on
PAPA ROACH that everybody has them, nobody is perfect, we’re all human, we all have flaws. I feel like that on social media everybody is always trying to look perfect and hide aspects that they don’t like about themselves, but we’re all in the same class, we’re all there to help each other and we all have been through shit and so Crooked Teeth is our symbol for that. Just embrace it. What did inspire you guys while writing Crooked Teeth? A lot of the inspiration for this record had to do with the band wanting to push a little bit more and having more fun with the music. We wanted to get a little more quirky and we wanted to collaborate with people that were friends of ours, people that we look up to and thought were talented and had a fresh and new approach to making music that got stale over time, like rock music generally to me isn’t always the most exciting thing going on. We got together with some people who understand how to make music and helped us see through the way we see it, you know? It was important for us how we met up with the producers Nicholas [“Ras” Furlong] and Colin [“Doc” Brittain] just by working on one song together and we realized that we found a perfect creative match to get the music out and we turned that one song experience into the whole record. That kind of kickstarted the inspiration for finishing the rest of the music for our record which became Crooked Teeth. Our biggest inspiration was just life, just opening your eyes to what’s going on around you, with all the different places that we are and all the different people that we meet...
you no matter what and you can’t really help that, but we don’t let it define us. We just try to write songs that are inspiring and exciting for us as a band. I read that you guys said that this new album is like if Infest  had sex with Getting Away With Murder  and they had a child, this would be the record. That’s an interesting way to see it. I think that Getting Away With Murder was one of the records where we’ve kind got to experiment a little bit and our fans were accepting us like that, but I think it had songs that were different for people and they’re also very favorite songs like “Scars”. I think that was different for a lot of our fans to hear, but they loved it. They accepted that song coming from us and a song like “Getting Away with Murder” which
had a bit more like electronic and industrial aspect to it. I feel that’s kind of where we are at this record and if you mix all the punk rock and hip hop influences that were very prevalent in the very first record, it just has that energy. Forgetting the fact that we’ve been doing this for 20 years, we don’t feel old, you know what I mean? That energy compared to what it was like making music, it feels fresh and new again like it was when we made our first record. What’s the meaning behind the album’s name Crooked Teeth? The title Crooked Teeth is basically just a metaphor for celebrating your imperfections as I feel like everybody has scars, everybody has demons, everybody has little things about them that might be self-conscious thought, but the reality is
This album was recorded with Nicholas and Colin at Steakhouse studio in North Hollywood, California. What was it like to work with them? It’s like working with your best friends. Your friends always tell you the truth, they’re always straight to you and they always have valid things to say and you always want to listen to your friends, because you trust them and so that’s how it was like, listening to them. You have so much fun creatively doing fun stuff making music, but also sharing conversations that we have, laughs that we have, sharing the joints, sharing the good times... I will have to say it was the most fun that we’ve ever had making a record and we didn’t even make this record in a fancy studio, we did in a pretty grimy place that wasn’t this fancy with thousands of dollars a day kind of place - which we made records on those places like that in the past - but it just felt like so real and it felt right for the music that we were making. Is it true that you are already in the studio recording the follow-up to Crooked Teeth? We’re not currently in the studio, we’re just gonna be getting ready for touring all over the world, but we do have a lot of songs written already for the next record. We have such a creative flow, an outpoint of ideas from the Crooked Teeth sessions that we’ve just kept writing when we were done and so some of those songs may or may not see the light of the day on another record in the future.
CROOKED TEETH IS OUT NOW VIA ELEVEN SEVEN MUSIC musicandriots.com
GRIND-POP FROM BEYOND THE STARS
MIXTAPE THE VERY BEST NEW TRACKS
1. EERA “Living” 2. CONVERGE “Reptilian” 3. SHARPTOOTH “Fuck You Donald Trump” 4. QUICKSAND “Cosmonauts” 5. DEATH OF LOVERS “The Absolute” 6. MARMOZETS “Habits” 7. JULIEN BAKER “Turn Out The Lights” 8. BULLY “Kills To Be Resistant” 9. THE BREEDERS “Wait In The Car” 10. ST. VINCENT “Los Ageless” 11. ANTI-FLAG “The Criminals” 12. MOVEMENTS “Colorblind” 13. SLEIGH BELLS “And Saints” 14. THE BODY AND FULL OF HELL “Earth Is A Cage” 15. A PERFECT CIRCLE “The Doomed” 16. SCREAMING FEMALES “Glass House” 17. TONIGHT ALIVE “Temple” 18. THE SOFT MOON “Burn” 19. KINDLING “For Olive” 20. SLEATER-KINNEY “Here We Come” 21. LUXURY DEATH “Kids Of The Club” 22. FALSE ADVERTISING “Hey You” 23. BJÖRK “The Gate” 24. SAUROPOD “Never On Time” 25. BACKTRACK “Bad To My World”
MELT-BANANA: Grind-Pop From Beyond The Stars “One of the most astonishing live bands on Earth. In fact, if somebody were to say to me, ‘is there any band that you believe is actually from another planet?’ I’d say, well, Melt-Banana. Has to be a good chance.” – John Peel
hey’ve released seven albums and more splits than you can count, counted Kurt Cobain and Lou Reed amongst their many fans and played shows to preteens. They are Melt-Banana, and it’s safe to say that there are few more adventurous, unpredictable or just plain bonkers bands in the universe right now. Formed as Mizu by Tokyo native Yasuki Onuki in 1991 before changing to Melt-Banana (or MxBX, to those so inclined) following the inclusion of bassist Ichirou Agata and bassist Rika Hamamoto, they quickly stamped a mark for themselves with Speak Squeak Creak, a frenetic noise-punk assault that took the breakneck pace of grindcore and then compressed it into even smaller, more impossibly fast chunks. It was a spirit of inventiveness and reckless abandon for the rules of punk and pop that attracted the attention of the late John Peel, one of the great champions of their sound and one of the most vocal supporters of their unorthodox take on punk. What followed this auspicious start was years of relentless recording and touring, putting out splits with Fantomas, Discordance Axis (with whom they briefly shared a drummer) and The Locust. By the time of
1997’s Steve Albini-produced Charlie, they were already working with the likes of Mr Bungle’s Mike Patton and Trevor Dunn, and it was the spark that prompted yet another evolution in their sound, toying with more conventional and noticeably longer song structures, smoothing out the barbs and razors but creating something even more ear-catching as a result. This new phase in Melt-Banana was solidified with Teeny-Shiny in 2003, its longer songs retaining Yasuko O’s whimsical lyrics and high-pitched yelps and staccato raps but framing them in what the band themselves called pop, albeit pop filtered through a vortex of caffeine, Saturday morning cartoons and avant-garde madness. They continued to pump out albums and innumerable split EPs, many through their own A-Zap label, but in 2011 the band hit a hurdle when Eastern Japan was hit by a massive earthquake which devastated the region and left them struggling to pen new material. Still, they have persevered as always and in 2013 they released their most comprehensive work to date, Fetch – 12 songs that take everything you thought you knew about noise, punk and pop and smashes them together like super colliding particles. Since then they have operated both as Melt-Banana and as a two-piece as Melt-Banana Lite, utilising MIDI controllers and drum machines to replicate their staccato soundscapes while Agata carpet-bombs the stage with overdriven guitar lines, Onuki capturing the room through her affectionately energetic presence. No matter the line-up or stage, though, there’s one thing that audiences can be guaranteed of – they will never see a band like Melt-Banana anywhere else in this world, galaxy or universe.
WORDS: DAVE BOWES
A FEARLESS CHANGE IN SOUND
The past is in the past and Hundredth know that’s the best. Their previous three full-lengths were songs built up ar hardcore and heavy music, but the band decided it was time to change their music direction. With their new album RARE, they approached fearlessly shoegaze and post-punk sounds and did what felt right for them. We talked w vocalist Chad Johnson about this daring step and how they evolved their sound at this point of their career. Words: Andreia Alves undredth were formed in 2008 and since then you guys have put out such strong and striking melodic hardcore songs, but with your new album RARE, you completely changed your sound. What led you to that change? We wanted to try some new things. We were a little bit burned out of playing the same kind of music and overall we were a little bored. We decided that we wanted to go into the studio with no boundaries at all and that’s pretty much where the sound change happened.
In a recent interview you mentioned that none of you really liked the music you
were playing before. When was the moment you had the click to finally make the change? It wasn’t in a particular moment, it was just like a growing feeling in all of us. We couldn’t really get pumped when we wrote a new song and we couldn’t really get excited about it because it wasn’t really what we wanted to hear and we wanted to do something different. You went through a time where you devated with whether to evolve or cease to be a band. What did keep you pushing forward and do what really felt right for the band? We all really like music. We all enjoy playing music and enjoy touring, but we
just felt like we have to add a little bit more of ourselves as a band, you know? We wanted to showcase a different element of who we are and what we’re into. I think that kind of motivation led us to go in a different direction. To be honest, I’m loving your post-punk and shoegaze approach as much as your previous hardcore-driven albums. If I didn’t know your band, I wouldn’t ever assume you used to write pretty aggressive and heavy songs. But seeing you guys taking this bold step is so damn exciting. How are the fans and the people close to you reacting to the new songs? We didn’t really know how it was gonna go,
HUNDREDTH to go back and channel some of the music that we really connected a lot deeper than the heavier stuff that we used to write before. I think that was the fuel for the fire. We didn’t really want to listen to a lot of modern bands in the creation of the record, we wanted to be more about the early influences, just trying to channel a little bit of the energy that we thought we’ve kind of lost and doing our own kind of brand new approach. Is there a particular meaning to name the album, RARE? It was just a word that kept coming up. When I wrote it down, it just felt like what we were doing and it wasn’t something that was popular from what we do. This wasn’t a safe move for us and it just felt like to me that word kept coming up in my head and thinking what other bands have done this, something completely different and there are a few bands that have done that. It just seemed like that word kind of works with what’s going on and so we just went with that. What did you want to convey on your lyrics this time around? Each song has its own kind of a story, but I didn’t want to be direct lyrically. I wanted things to be a little bit more reflected upon years later and mean something. I really tried to channel some other different styles of writing that haven’t done. The “old” Hundredth was pretty much direct and straight to the point, but now it was in a different angle and it seems a lot more personal lyrically. I felt like I could talk more deeply and not being weird because I wasn’t screaming or whatever, with melody kind of melancholic.
round m, with
but that wasn’t really our concern because the vision for this record was “Don’t think about what people are gonna say or if people gonna like it, just write what feels good.” We put some ideas together that we would be proud of. There are some people that prefer old stuff, which is cool. Our way of thinking about that is that you have all those old records to listen to and there are still there, they’re not going anywhere. When did the writing for the new record RARE start? I think it started a year ago. We started maybe in July of 2016. We wrote a couple of songs together, just writing some riffs that we were sitting on and they kept coming up just jamming on our own. We got
together and wrote about four songs over like a week. Two of them didn’t make the cut and then another two worked out just fine. One of the songs of the record is called “Down” and so that’s when it all started. It was kind of in the moment thing. Musically, RARE is effortlessly dark andbeautiful, where you combine dense shoegaze tunes with moody post-punk. What did inspire you while you were writing these songs? I think we all kind of went back to the beginning for us all of us when we realized that we started to really connect with music and we wanted to channel some of those early bands like Joy Division, New Order, The Cure, The Smiths... We wanted
This is was the first time you played guitar in Hundredth, both live and in record. How was it like the recording sessions for RARE? It was cool! I was super excited to play guitar in the band and we were able to jam all the songs in a room together. We had about 30 demos while in the studio and so we took our favorites and we recorded 14 of those songs and we put 12 on the record. That part was really cool. The recording process was different stylistically, but we kind of did it similar to our previous records. In our album Free , I started recording vocals myself and I did that on this record as well, so I recorded half of the vocals at the studio and then I went home and did about the other half there once we were done at the studio. The process was fun because we were able to really go into a new different direction and not worry about what people were going to think or say, it was like a liberating experience for everyone just to be able to go only with your own instincts. It was like a rebirth of the band. You seem more confident and daring with this new effort. How would you describe RARE as it is definitely a new step forward on your musical career? I would describe it as aggressive but buried in atmosphere. Sonically, it’s kind of everywhere. There are fast songs, there are slow songs.
RARE IS OUT NOW VIA HOPELESS RECORDS musicandriots.com
INCOMING // MARMOZETS
THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL MARMOZETS RETURN WITH “KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW”
armozets have announced the release of their second album titled Knowing What You Know Now and it will be out on January 26th via Roadrunner Records. The new album was recorded with the legendary producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies). As well as regaling the band with stories about writing sessions with David Bowie, Dave Grohl and Frank Black, the producer who Becca describes as “a legend”, and Josh as “an uncle”, got them working in a totally different way. “He records weirdly,” says Jack, “But good
weirdly!” of the recording process. “None of us were in the same room as each other, at all, ever. It meant you could really concentrate on your own thing, and there was more room for yourself.” Josh agrees: “There were no egos and opinions in the room. He just lets you do your thing.” “We created the album for ourselves,” says rhythm guitarist Sam MacIntyre. “It’s not that we don’t care about our fans – we absolutely love them – but the reason they like what we do is because of the way we are.” Vocalist Becca MacIntyre adds, “We don’t do things because they’re cool; we do them because they feel right.” Knowing What You Know Now was built on patience, that was the key and motto
for them, especially when several setbacks worked like a road block for them. “Patience was a massive thing,” says Sam. “We struggled because we wanted all of the songs to be written there and then. We were writing loads, but they just weren’t right.” Becca who had during the process surgery on both knees adds, “We had all those years to write the first album. There was no thinking and no pressure; it organically just came out.” 2018 is set for the return of the “weird and wonderful Marmozets”, get excited!
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW ARRIVES ON JANUARY 26TH VIA ROADRUNNER RECORDS
RELEASE SCHEDULE 20.10 AMENRA - Mass VI * ASIWYFA - The Endless Shimmering * BELL WITCH - Mirror Reaper BULLY - Losing * CIRCUIT DES YEUX - Reaching For Indigo * COLLEEN - A Flame My Love, A Frequency * HANNE HUKKELBERG - Trust * IRON MONKEY - 9-13 * LOW ESTATE - Covert Cult Of Death * MAKHTAVERSAKN - III PERTURBATOR - New Model * DIRTY FENCES - Goodbye Love CURTIS HARDING - Face Your Fear 27.10 ALL PIGS MUST DIE - Hostage Calm * HOTEL BOOKS - Equivalency
JULIEN BAKER - Turn Out The Lights THE USED - The Canyon WEEZER - Pacific Daydream SHARPTOOTH - Clever Girl * SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG - Birdie * 03.11 ANTI-FLAG - American Fall * CONVERGE - The Dusk In Us * S U R V I V E - RR7387 EP 10.11 QUICKSAND - Interiors * ESCAPE-ISM (IAN SVENONIUS - Introduction To Escape-Ism EXPLODED VIEW - Summer Came Early EP SLEIGH BELLS - Kid Kruschev * TENNIS - We Can Die Happy EP
TEEN DAZE - Themes For A New Earth 17.11 BACKTRACK - Bad To My World CAVALLERA CONSPIRACY - Psychosis * MORRISSEY - Low In High Schoool THE BODY & FULL OF HELL - Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light * GODFLESH - Post Self SIA - Everyday Is Christmas 24.11 AT THE DRIVE IN - Diamanté EP 01.12 PRURIENT - Rainbow Mirror
* Reviewed on this new issue (#23)
STILL PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES Last March, Northlane took everyone by surprise by releasing a new album out of the blue. Mesmer showcases the band at their most confident, personal and focus status to date. There’s a lot to take with Northlane’s fourth effort, so we caught up with vocalist Marcus Bridge to know more about the whole process behind this mesmerizing album. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Wilk ast March you dropped your fourth album, Mesmer, as a complete surprise. Was it something that you plan to do or was simply a spontaneous decision? We planned to do it a long time before even we start it. We wanted to do it as a gift to the fans and we saw it as something really special and different in terms of releasing an album. In the end, it was really cool how it worked out. Having something just out immediately for people to listen to, it gives them a chance to really listen to the album exactly how we wanted to and not jumping into conclusions from one or two songs prior to the release that they might think of like “This is what the album might sound like.” It was just straight to the point and that was exactly what we wanted.
For how long had you guys been working on this album? We started working on the music pretty soon after releasing Node. Our guitarist Josh [Smith] is always writing and working on the next things. I guess this time around we had a lot more time to work on it and really own what we wanted to do. I think that extra time that we had was probably a year and
half to write this album and that extra time we had was so much more beneficial. Most of the time we spent playing the songs from Node gave us a good idea of what works and what we’re into. We were definitely more ready and prepared going into the recording and rehearsing Mesmer. Now that’s been a couple of months since you released Mesmer, how did it feel when you finally released the album after you kept it as a total secret and how do you look back to everyone’s reaction? It was very scary I guess. [laughs] Having something under lock and key and having someone that would just find it and then it’s out there for everyone to listen to and the surprise is ruined. [laughs] We are very happy that it all went according to the plan and no one really knew anything until the day. The reactions that we’ve been getting are crazy, like almost immediately the response was very positive. It was already showing when we were playing these new songs live how well they were received. I’m sure we were all a lot more confident with what we did with this album compared to Node. We were kind of working on something new at that time and this time around we were a lot more
prepared. I think that reflected in what the fans are saying and how they have been responding. Like on your previous album, Node, the songs on Mesmer deal with social and personal issues, important themes such as the environmental impact of humankind and our planet Earth. Can you elaborate a little bit about the themes you approached on the album? With songs like those, which in this case it would be songs like “Solar”, those themes are always very important to us. We like to present those messages in ways that aren’t just saying “You’re wrong. You should be doing this.” It’s more of like letting people reflect on it and understand what’s going on. With “Solar” I guess it’s that idea of just letting the world deteriorate without any thought of what’s happening next or just assuming that is always going to be that way. Besides that, on this album we touched on a lot of the idea of loss and death. We got a lot more personal this time around. We all went through a lot of different things while writing this album, a lot of difficult things... I think it was very important that we were able to get those things out such
NORTHLANE He put something on the ground and he was like “I want you to pick this song but without using your hands” and then it was just us trying to figure out how to do that. One of us would be like “We just pick it up with sticks or something” or someone else would sit back and see what happened and not really get involved and from that he was able to tell immediately the kind of people we were, which was very crazy. [laughs] But in the end, I think delving deeper into ourselves was difficult but very good for us. I think we came out as stronger people individually and also stronger as a group. We’re all a lot closer as a family now... So, that was difficult to go through and it was definitely necessary and beneficial to us in the long run. The track “Savage” is one of my favorite off the whole album and it’s a damn powerful song. Can you tell me the story behind that song? That’s one of the songs that Joshua wrote and so he would go into that better. [laughs] The lyrics “...through the eyes of the sun” is that idea of like the universe could see what we’re doing and not be very impressed. [laughs] It’s a hard one for me to describe personally, but it’s that idea of us taking the planet and ruining it.
on songs like “Heartmachine”, “Fade” and “Veridian”, it was very important stuff for us and big stuff that was happening in our lives. I think those songs were more based around the idea of loss of the loved ones and death and it’s something that a lot of people can relate to and really see themselves in listening to these songs. There have been already so many people telling us their stories that they’ve kind of seen themselves in these songs. It’s really touching and so good to see that people are reacting that way. This is your second album as vocalist of Northlane. How was the creative process this time around? I think this time around we were a lot more collaborative. We recorded Node in five months since I joined the band and Jon [Deiley, guitarist] was grinding trying to music. I’ve never really written lyrics or anything, or even vocals for this kind of music before, so Joshua and I put that upon ourselves. But this time around, we had a lot more time to spend together as a whole band and I guess finding out little ideas and make sure everything was perfect as opposed of just having one or two of us leading the way. Everyone had their
importance and I think you can see a lot of everyone in this album as well. I think it makes it a lot more personal for us as well just the fact that we were all able to really spend time on these songs and make sure each part were all exactly how we wanted them to be. I read that you guys mentioned that this album was the most difficult recording process to date. What made it so difficult this time around? There were a few different factors. There was all the personal stuff that has been going on in our lives, which is tough stuff to deal with. Joshua had lost his great-grandmother over the year leading up to us recording. We had a couple of relationships that kind of fell apart during the process of the album. That was obviously difficult. When we got into the studio and got going, our producer David Bendeth really pushed us and we dove a lot deeper into ourselves than we’ve ever really gone. He was quickly able to pick out things in ourselves that maybe we would keep to ourselves and he was able to spread them away and then bring them out. On the first day we got into the studio, he was able to pick out almost our ranks in our band.
This album is much personal and the album’s closing track, “Paragon”, is your tribute to the late Archictects’ guitarist, Tom Searle. How did the song come to be? The boys are really close with Archictects boys. With this one, it was important to Jon to have the song completely perfect. Tom was one of his best friends and it was obviously a very tough time for him going through that. Jon, Joshua and I got together at some point and I sat down with Jon just to get the structure of everything right. Joshua came up with some very interesting lyrics using some references to Archictects’ songs. It was so sick to be able to pay tribute to him now with his own words, being able to use his words to show how much he meant to everyone including us. Unfortunately, I never go to know Tom, but it was also very important to me to do this song vocally. It was a really tough one to do really... You don’t wanna kind of do it and not giving your all because it’s a very important matter, someone that was very important to us. It was very tough one for all of us, even just writing it and having to think about that again, but we’re all really proud of it. All titles to all Northlane’s albums have a special meaning. What about Mesmer? Mesmer comes from this physician called Franz Mesmer who came up with this theory of animal magnetism and the idea of all living things are connected. That idea was very interesting to us and we hold on to that theme of being connected with everyone, that we aren’t just one voice, we are a group. Besides all that, we just thought it was a really interesting sounding name. [laughs] It was a word that we’ve never thought of, so those two things led us to that.
MESMER IS OUT NOW VIA UNFD musicandriots.com
NEWS IN STUDIO NEW RELEASES
AT THE DRIVE IN have an advance Christmas present for fans, available exclusively for Record Store Day’s Black Friday, the band will be releasing Diamanté – a 3-song EP on 10-inch vinyl via Rise Records, out November 24th. Produced by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and mixed by Johann Scheerer, the EP was recorded at Clouds Hill Studio in Hamburg, Germany in the summer of 2017. Ahead of the EP’s release, the band offers a cryptic message behind Diamanté: “How do you weaponize the insatiable thirst for life among vultures? How do you deprogram the coroner dissecting hiatus? What light
beckons you from the sewers of suggestion? Is your instinct extinct? Or does it hide in the flash burn of counterfeit automatons? 5 boys with guilty slingshots swaying to the Midwitch Sound. Blinded by the DIAMANTÉ.” Philadelphia’s NOTHING have entered Dreamland Studio in Woodstock, NY with producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur JR, Murder City Devils, Kurt Vile, etc.) to record their third full-length album. The album will see a Spring 2018 release via Relapse Records. THE SOFT MOON has announced his signing to Sacred Bones and confirmed
COLLECTOR’S CORNER // REISSUES
MY BLOODY VALENTINE, YEAH YEAH YEAH’S, CABLE, SHARON VON ETTEN & THROBBING GRISTLE REISSUES ANNOUNCED
hrobbing Gristle will soon reissue their entire vinyl catalog via Mute, both will continue the reissues series, creating previously unreleased box sets and making available long out of print and important pieces of work. Throbbing Gristle are Chris Carter, Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson (who sadly passed away on 25 November 2010), Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, their impact on music, culture and the arts is immeasurable and still felt today. To mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s debut The Second Annual Report, the first of the reissues will arrive on November 3, originally out on 4 November 1977, this was the first album from Throbbing Gristle, one of the most politically and sonically antagonistic bands of all time. This reissue is presented as a limited edition white vinyl release in the original packaging and also on double CD, and 20 Jazz Funk Greats, on green vinyl and double CD, will be released, along with, The Taste Of TG: A Beginner’s Guide to Throbbing Gristle with an updated tracklisting that will include “Almost A Kiss” (from 2007’s Part Two: Endless Not), this will be the first time it’s available on vinyl and will be presented on double red vinyl alongside a CD and digital release. After the initial run, reissues of D.o.A: The Third and Final Report, Heathen Earth, and Part Two: Endless Not will be released January 26. Finally, Mission of Dead Souls, Greatest Hits, Journey Through a Body, and In the Shadow of the Sun are out April 27. The remaining albums do not yet have a reissue release date. East Coast noisecore titans Cable have resurfaced with a reissue of recordings chronicling their first year as a band. It Cost Me Everything will include a long out-of-print demo cassette, a Cable/Malcolm’s Lost split 7” and the Part Three/Feed Me Glass 7”, chronicling Cable’s evolution from 1994 to 1995. “About a year ago Brian [Simmons, of Atomic Action Records] mentioned to me the idea of this release of the old material and I thought it would be cool considering it’s been over 20 years and the demo and EP’s have been long out-of-print,”
details of his fourth studio album Criminal, set for release on February 2nd, 2018. “Guilt is my biggest demon and has been following me since childhood. Everything I do strengthens the narrative that I am guilty” Vasquez reflects. “The concept of ‘Criminal’ is a desperate attempt to find relief by both confessing to my wrongdoings and by blaming others for their wrongdoings that have affected me.” Working once more with Maurizio Baggio, who produced Deeper, at La Distilleria in Bassano Del Grappa, Italy, Criminal sees Vasquez further explore putting his lyrics at the forefront and letting his raw emotions flow.
vocalist/bassist Randy Larson said. “Besides, I figured it would be a good chance to re-release the stuff the way it was meant to be heard so we had all the tracks remastered.” This seven-track package will undoubtedly remind listeners why Cable has become a pillar of the East Coast metalcore scene. The Rockville, Connecticut, quartet joined forces in 1994 after meeting through their town’s flourishing hardcore scene. It Cost Me Everything will be released via Atomic Action Records on October 13th. While we’re expecting the news about My Bloody Valentine being busy working on a new full-length album are true, at least there’s a total confirmation of the reissue of all-analog versions of the shoegaze group’s classic full-lengths Isn’t Anything and Loveless. While we so far do not have word on exactly when we might expect that brand new studio album, the longin-the-works reissues have now just been announced. The band confirmed the release of the purely analog reissues, which will arrive on 180-gram vinyl on January 18. The group also add, “This vinyl is purely an analog cut and therefore does not include a download.” Yeah Yeah Yeah’s have announced details of a vinyl reissue of their seminal, ground-breaking debut, Fever To Tell, on October 20th through Interscope Records / UMe. The album will be available as a Limited Edition Deluxe Box, Standard LP, and Digital deluxe and standard re-mastered editions. Pre-Order for all editions from September 26th, with release on October 20th. “Shake It”, a previously unreleased track from the Fever To Tell era, is available as an instant grab now via all digital formats. Speaking about the release, the New York trio said, “A friend of a friend kept asking if we were ever gonna put Fever To Tell out on vinyl as it hasn’t been on vinyl in 10 years. That’s not right. So here it is on vinyl for the first time in 10 years plus a time capsule of photos, demos (1st ever recorded,) a mini film documenting our near downfall and other fun memorabilia, from the turn of the century NYC, made with love + the usual blood, sweat + tears of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.” In celebration of and in addition to the reissue, the band has announced shows in Los Angeles (The Fonda Theatre, October 25) and Brooklyn (Kings Theatre, November 7). Sharon Van Etten released her debut album Because I Was in Love back in 2008, but she’s giving it the reissue treatment later this year. It will arrive as a new edition titled (It Was) Because I Was in Love on November 17 via Vinyl Me, Please. The album was remixed by Craig Silvey and remastered by Joe Lambert, and features two additional bonus tracks (“I’m Giving Up on You” and “You Didn’t Really Do That”). “It was an innocent and beautiful record, which some of my newer fans may not even know about,” Van Etten said in a statement. “This seemed like the perfect time to remix and remaster it, and give it a new life.”
Following the breakthrough success of last year’s RR7349, Austin-based experimental synth quartet S U R V I V E have announced the impending release of RR7387, a four song EP of remixes and reinterpretations due November 3 on Relapse Records. Featuring an eclectic batch of luminaries including Justin Broadrick aka JK Flesh (of Godflesh, Jesu), Lena Willikens, Not Waving, and Sam Haar (of Blondes). Meanwhile, S U R V I V E members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein will have lots of new score pieces in the second season of Netflix’s hit, Stranger Things, which debuts October 27.
Following this year’s brilliant Reflection album, BRIAN ENO is going to collaborate with pianist Tom Rogerson for a new effort. Titled Finding Shore, the joint record is due out on December 8 via Dead Oceans. According to a press release, the pair met by chance outside a washroom at a show. It explains, “Upon meeting Eno, the pair didn’t speak about music at all, but bonded over their roots in the Suffolk town of Woodbridge, located on the strange flat landscape of Eastern England, all heathland, military testing sites, estuary mud and the site of the ancient Sutton Hoo ship burial.” musicandriots.com
HOT NEW BAND
DEFYING EXPECTATIONS AND DEFINITIONS
There are countless ways to evaluate a band’s worth and efficacy but a reliable benchmark is usually, “Is it great that becomes tricky is when you have a band like Ex Eye, one whose constituent components are such exemplary m impossible. And yet that’s just what their debut accomplishes, a furious and heady battle royale that pulls in free j noise and creates some truly awe-inspiring textural soundscapes. Comprised of Shahzad Ismaily, Greg Fox, Toby are out to create something unlike anything you’ve ever heard, and we spoke to saxophonist Colin Stetson to find Words: Dave Bowes // Photo: Scott Irvine
think a good place to start would be to ask about your first experiences of working with Greg, Toby and Shahzad and how did your work come to end up in the form that it does here? It was never really going to be anything but that form. Greg and I have been playing together for at least 5 or 6 years now. The first thing we ever did together was an improvised trio with Trevor Dunn, which we still are actively doing, but the next project we’d come together on was the Sorrow record, which was the reimaging of Górecki’s 3rd Symphony. Shahzad and Greg and I were all on that, and then Greg and I started talking specifically about doing another written project but something on the heavier side, something stripped down. Shahzad was in those early talks and immediately was part of it, and this went on for a good year before Toby got brought into the mix. Toby and I go way back to college so it wasn’t until late summer of 2015 where the band that really didn’t exist yet was offered two different gigs – a gig at Roskilde and one at Eau Claire in Wisconsin; so it just happened that we had gigs and needed to put things together pretty quickly. Toby was right there and
the perfect form for the group. We hit the ground running and seven months from our first rehearsal we were on stage in Copenhagen and playing the set. How much did having that pressure on time help with the writing and construction of these songs? It does really help with getting it done in the timely fashion that we did because everyone is awfully busy in that group and finding times to be together is very difficult. We don’t all live in the same city, and even if we did it would be difficult. Having strict deadlines was a beautiful fire under our asses to make sure that we were together every month and playing, writing and recording, because otherwise, no tight deadlines can lead to – and this is just conjecture – but it could’ve taken a lot longer to get everything together if it wasn’t being done in necessity of making a deadline. What were your initial thoughts on the direction that this album would go in terms of tone and atmosphere? We approached the first rehearsals somewhat openly. We were open to finding out what was going to happen but we had already established the direction and what our desires for the music were. Basically,
we wanted to do something heavy, dealing on a codified, through-composed level. Each member of the group are such incredible, masterful shredders on their instruments, that I wanted to set up a group situation where we could all feel free to bring our own particular voice on our instruments to whatever technical degree that we could muster into the fray together; not really watering anything down or leaving anything behind. That was really it. I just wanted everyone to manifest honestly and to their max capacity and that’s how we approached every song. Some songs were written out of multiple improvisations that we’d go back and hone, figure out what worked and start to codify it and through-composed that way; others were brought in by different members of the group in parts that was then enhanced and developed in rehearsal with everybody and built upon. The overall vibe of the record was born quite seamlessly and naturally from those original few days of us improvising and finding the character of the group together. Since the record was brought into being, it’s become apparent to us that we’re just scratching the surface and there is so much more potential for us to dig into, lots of avenues that we started to open up with that first record, so we’re working on new material now.
EX EYE There’s longing and beauty to it which is a unique trait to have in any drummer, especially one who is bringing that through such an aggressive mode of performance. Then Toby... Toby is a weird freak of nature. He’s got a fluid, liquid mind with regards to improvisation. His technique is insane. I’ve been jaw-dropping to him playing solos since we were in college together and everybody in the room would just stop and slack-jawed stare as he proceeded to tear apart the guitar. It doesn’t hurt that he is so massive of a physical specimen that the guitar looks like a toy in his hands and feels as though it’s about to fall apart at any minute. Also, his sense of harmony is incredibly unique and it comes through in a lot of the chordal choices he makes; there are melodies and progressions throughout the record that sometimes touch on genre more than others and at others there are very distinct melodies, but even at those times where there’s clear melodic moments, the harmonics that surround it are really a lot of that unique brain of Toby Summerfield. Those are my descriptions but I tend not to really describe what I do. I’ll just simply say that with this group, more than anything I’ve ever been able to do, because of the confluence of talent and techniques by everybody, I’m really able to bring every aspect of my playing, and a lot of things I had cultivated in solo performance and even some thing I forgot I had been able to incorporate into solo performance; some of the extreme aspects of the proficiency and bring that into play with this group. I’m able to play a lot of ultra-dense maximalist playing that merges quite well with the rest of the guys.
ter than the sum of its parts?” Where musicians that surpassing them is nigh-on jazz, prog, black metal and atmospheric Summerfield and Colin Stetson, Ex Eye out how they went about it.
So the Roskilde show was your debut? What are your memories of that show? It seems like it would be a real trial by fire. I suppose so. I don’t touch the stage, and I don’t think any of the other guys will, unless I know it’s going to go well. I don’t bring untested material. We rehearsed our asses off and checked those songs every which way. Every first time is going to be a trial by fire as you don’t know how the audience is going to react but our reaction was some indication of how it was going to be, and we knew from the time that we had spent honing the music before we got to the stage that if they were untouched it wasn’t going to be for any lack of the music in terms of the performance. The one thing I will say for that performance is that we were scheduled to play for 70 minutes and because we were so jacked and excited to play the set for the first time, we played everything so fucking fast that I think that when we got to the last song, we had played for about 40 minutes. It was a set which, nowadays, usually goes for about 65 on a regular basis. It was on track to last for 50 so we ended up playing this colossally long version of the last song of the set. The slowdown that we just did and applied naturally at that Roskilde show on the last song “Tten Crowns: The Corruptor”, that slowdown wasn’t originally written
into the music. We just did it on the fly simply because we wanted to keep playing, and it went and went until it when so drastically sludgy that it could go no slower, and then we liked it so much that it ended up becoming part of how we recorded the music. The four of you have such distinct musical voices and it’s fascinating to see how they come into play on this record and stay cohesive. How would you describe the voices of the members of Ex Eye? That’s a tall order... Shahzad has been described as a world-builder before and I think that’s a pretty apt description of him as a musical persona. He has this ability to really cover, to inhabit so many different musical roles within the context of the band just with his Moog synths. Shahzad’s superpower is that he has the biggest ears and probably the most powerful and astute musical intuitions that I’ve ever encountered, so having him more or less creating a spider web of connectivity throughout the group is absolutely paramount. Greg Fox is a whirlwind. His technique is both brutally forceful and so rapid-fire with regard his abilities to play at speed but there’s also an expansive, orchestral long arc of picture to what he’s able to do.
There is a curious balance in play on the record between that maximalism and a sense of minimalism. Was it intentional to keep this and if so, how difficult was it to maintain? I think when I used the term ‘maximalism’ I kind of think of it as a brand of minimalism. What we’re doing with that record and what I’ve been trying to do with a lot of my solo material is to infuse the moment with as much density of melodic and harmonic information, textural information, as is possible, but do so in a way that is in the tradition of minimalist music. It unfolds very slowly and progresses in that very methodical pace with the hope and design for potentially augmenting the listeners’ sensory and time perception. What Greg and I talked a lot about was really when you’re trying to infuse as much sonic information, it’s not the same as tonal noise music – there’s a kinship there but none of what’s going on in this record I think can be described as atonal or cacophonous in that strictly textural, noise-based music foundation. The noise that we make throughout this is founded in a density and overloading of very confident melodic and harmonic information, so the hope is that the natural state of the listener is, within moments of being steeped in that barrage, their perception will slow down and focus on the minutiae naturally and create a sense of slowing of the passage of time. That was a lot of the rhetoric that flowed around our creative space when we were playing these things together.
EX EYE SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT NOW VIA RELAPSE RECORDS musicandriots.com
INCOMING // BELLY
BELLY RETURN WITH NEW ALBUM ON APRIL 2018. GET EXCITED!
ollowing a reunion tour last year, alt-rock vets Belly have announced plans for their first new album in more than 20 years. 90s alt-rock faves BELLY who reunited last year for a tour where they dropped a few new songs amongst favorites like “Feed the Tree” and “Slow Dog.” Via their PledgeMusic page, the band explain, “Needless to say, making a record today is very different from the last time Belly recorded together. And so are the mechanisms of sharing music with our friends and the rest of the world...We very much appreciate all the patience regarding the new Belly material we’ve now promised several times! We really have been busy writing and demoing new songs since
the conclusion of the reunion tour last year, and we’re happy to reveal that we’ll be going into the studio in just a couple of weeks with our old friend Paul Q. Kolderie working the knobs and faders. It is our hope that we’ll have a new Belly record ready for release sometime in 2018, and in the meantime we’re laying the groundwork for some touring to coincide!”. This will be Belly’s first new album since 1995’s King. So far, the third album from the group is schedule to be released on April 6, 2018, but has yet to secure a title or. The band have recorded most of the “basic” tracks for the new record at Stable Sound Studio in Rhode Island with Paul Q. Kolderie. “We’ve recorded most of the ‘basic’ tracks at Stable Sound Studio in Rhode Island with our old friend Paul Q. Kolderie at the board, and now we’re in the process of recording guitars, vocals and various other overdubs.
The band, which consists of Tanya Donelly, Gail Greenwood, and brothers Chris and Tom Gorman, got back together for a limited tour in 2016, and fortunately they decided to create some new music together, which means this is going to be tin 20 years, since their broke up in 1996. You can pre-order Belly’s third album now, along with other merchandise including everything from shirts and hats to test pressings and original lyric sheets. A portion of all the profits will go towards towards hurricane relief in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. INTRIGUED? DIG FURTHER... BELLY - STAR Release Date: February 1993 Sounds Like: Adventurous dreamy rock with shades of folk, country and post-punk.
Slaughter Beach, Dog started as a solo project for Jake Ewald - best known for his work on Modern Baseball - to get through a writer's block. Now that Modern Baseball took a break, Jake is more focused expanding his writing and sound in his project. With a new album Birdie to be released very soon, we talked with Jake about what he's been up and what this album represents for him. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Jessica Flynn
laughter Beach, Dog started as your side project aside from Modern Baseball in 2015. What did motivate you to start this project? I originally started it as something to overcome a writer's block that I was having. I started doing it with the intention to write songs about fictional scenarios and it was something that I've never done before and that's how I wrote our first album, Welcome . After that I've kind of got me out of my writing punk and I was able to just go back to writing normal but also keeping some of the fictional scenarios and doing a mishmash of everything. It kind of started as a songwriting exercise on the side. I started right before Modern Baseball released Holy Ghost, like the summer before. Out of curiosity, why naming your project as Slaughter Beach, Dog? [laughs] I live in Philadelphia and my parents live in Delaware. There's this town in Delaware on the way to my parents' house called Slaughter Beach and I thought that was a really cool band name, but when I started actually writing the songs and decided I was going to put out a record, I googled the name to see if anybody else had it and I found out there is a band in Denmark called Slaughter Beach and so I just added Dog on the end. I was hoping that one day that they would just break up so I could drop the Dog, but I'm kind of attached to the Dog now. [laughs] Are you a dog lover? Hum, dogs are okay. [laughs] But I say dog a lot, like in a friendly way,
WE’RE NEW HERE, PLEASED TO MEET YOU so I think that’s more where it came from. Earlier this year, your band Modern Baseball announced that you were taking a break after releasing your amazing record, Holy Ghost. What led you guys to that decision? We were just kind of burned out. We were doing a lot of touring ever since we started playing. We started doing it after college and we were just constantly on tour and trying to finish school in between, and once we got out of school, we were on the road even more and we never took any time to figure out what we actually wanted from the band or from being musicians. We just went full blast all the time and it eventually caught up to us and it took a lot of us. We decided that the healthiest thing to do would be just taking some time off to figure out what each one want individually and work on our friendship, work on our relationship at home, because the band kind of sucked up all of our whole lives, so it was really a need that we had. It’s such an incredible experience travelling the world and making music, but at the same time there was a lot of stuff that were lacking at home that we weren’t thinking about. It was a really personal decision for all of us. What has everyone in Modern Baseball been up to since the break? I’m doing Slaughter Beach, Dog. Sean [Huber, drummer] is focusing more on his project Steady Hands. Brandon [Lukens, vocalist/guitarist] is doing an acoustic tour in the States, just going by himself and his friend Jeff. Ian [Farmer, bassist] is doing a lot of work in the studio and I’m also doing a lot of studio work. Ian and I run this studio in Philadelphia called The Metal Shop and we record a lot of bands there. We also recorded Slaughter Beach, Dog record there and so that’s where we spend most of our time. Did you see this hiatus as a opportunity for you to focus more on Slaughter Beach, Dog? I guess I didn’t see it that way originally, but it kind of happened by accident because I was at home for a long period of time and we didn’t have any tours to go on. Any time I had nothing to do, I just ended up writing music and recording it. I had a bunch of songs on the side and I just decided to go into the studio with Ian and record them, now we’re sending them out to the world. It kind of worked out nicely. For this upcoming album, you weren’t having a writer’s block, right? Yeah! It was probably the less blocked I’ve ever been. [laughs] I had written a lot of the songs while Modern Baseball had been on tour or in between tours and I was just kind of a really great write period, so I had a bunch of songs. I put out some of them on an EP called Motorcycle.jpg that we put out this summer and I put the rest on the album Birdie that we’re gonna put out in the fall. You have already released under Slaughter Beach, Dog name an album titled Welcome (2016) and most recently the Motorcycle.jpg EP, and now you’re
about to release a new album, Birdie, which you expand your songwriting and is much more intimate. What can you tell me about the writing approach for this one? I think finishing up the songs and recording them was when Modern Baseball were starting to slow down and take a break. I just felt really very relaxed and at peace, so they had this really good energy going where I feel all the songs have a more relaxed intimacy and that kind of came from me finally slowing down and getting a little more center. Even in the studio when I was recording it, I just came in and I had the songs written. Ian recorded and produced them and I played all the instruments, so for two weeks it was just me and Ian together in a room working on these songs and it was just so relaxed. We’ve been recording for years now and so we’re really comfortable working with each other. It was the perfect environment for the songs. With Birdie, there’s more acoustic moment with a folk and country vibe to it. What inspired you to go more on that music direction? I think a big part of that were two things. One of the things was that I started listening to more bands that sounded like that. I think probably as Modern Baseball started to playing bigger and louder shows I kind of got more into quitter and softer music, and the other thing was that probably a year ago I never had a really nice acoustic guitar before and I always write on an acoustic guitar, so I decided I was gonna treat myself and buy this nice smaller travel guitar. It was like a smaller instrument and so it wasn’t that loud and that time I was living at my friend’s basement but I didn’t want to be that loud anyway, but it kind of got me to the habit of singing a little quieter and with my guitar player came more attention to the little details of my playing as opposed to trying to play loud and fast. It was kind of a combination of those things into this kind of style. You have announced a headlining tour this fall with support from Shannen Moser and you will also be playing solo in the UK for the first time this September. What can people expect from a Slaughter Beach, Dog live show? It’s a lot of fun. It’s just a four-piece band. I play guitar, slide guitar and a little bit of keyboard. Ian plays bass, our friend Joe plays drums and our friend Nick plays electric guitar and acoustic guitar. One of my favorite things so far about playing these newer songs is that we do a lot of variation within the sets. We play really quieter acoustic songs where Nick’s playing acoustic guitar and I’m just playing slide guitar, but we also do really loud rock songs where we’re all playing electric guitars. It’s really neat because we get to go through a whole different ray of emotions during one set and we practice a lot to make sure that we connect all the dynamics. It’s really fun to do a really wide range of songs in one set. That’s probably what I’m most into right now.
BIRDIE ARRIVES ON OCTOBER 27 VIA BIG SCARY MONSTERS
NEW NOISE SOUNDS LIKE:
LETLIVE. THE CHARIOT RATM
WHERE: California (USA) WHO: Jason Aalon Butler, Aric Improta, Stephen ‘Stevis’ Harrison RELEASE: Debut Single “We’re Coming In” (Out now)
e believe that there were thousands of people around the world fuckin’ depressed when it was announced that letlive. would breakup. How could we not be depressed seeing one the most thrilling bands of our generations breaking up? Fortunately there’s something to relieve, a little bit, the pain: The Fever, a band formed by Jason Aalon Butler (letlive.) drummer Aric Improta (Night Verses) and guitarist Stephen ‘Stevis’ Harrison (The Chariot). There’s not much info, but there are two things we can say for now: they have two songs that will rip your heart out and they mean fuckin’ business. “Things are happening. Whether you choose to believe it or not, they are happening. Whether they affect you or not, they have significant effects. This music is a response to those happenings,” explains the band.
WHERE: Athens (USA) WHO: Carter Hardin, Kortney Grinwis RELEASE: “We’ve Got Soul” Single (Out now via Rise Records)
SOUNDS LIKE: PRINCE ISSUES LIGHTS
hapel is a indie pop-rock duo comprised of Carter Hardin (ex-Nightmares) and Kortney Grinwis (ex-Favorite Weapon), managed and developed by Issues’ Tyler Carter and Derek Brewer (manager of Crown The Empire), with support from their original label Rise Records. Not happy with their previous heavier bands, Carter and Kortney decided to join forces and play music that both are passionate about and start something completely brand new. The duo makes a blend of pop, funk and rock tunes that will stick in your head for days. Their chemistry is simply contagious. Chapel’s latest single is the feel-good “We’ve Got Soul”, with catchy pop melodies and funky grooves. You will be surrendered by this duo if you’re looking for something different that makes you dance and enjoy the moment.
WE’RE NEW HERE, PLEASED TO MEET YOU
NAILS CODE ORANGE HARM’S WAY
WHERE: Perth (Australia) WHO: Jazmine Luders, Kieran Molloy, Paul Cottrell, Robert Owens, Sam Forward RELEASE: “Cycles Of Grief: The Complete Collection” EP (Out now on UNFD)
ursed Earth, comprising vocalist Jazmine Luders, guitarists Kieran Molloy and Paul Cottrell, bassist Robert Owens and drummer Sam Forward, formed in Perth in 2013. Through EP Vae Mortis and a split with Burning Season (collected on Enslaved By The Insignificant, released worldwide by Death’s Grip / Holy Roar), they established themselves as one of Perth’s most unrelenting metal band. The group has recently released the two-act EPs, entitled Cycles Of Grief Volume I: Growth and Cycles of Grief Volume II: Decay. “The story in Cycles of Grief documents the collision of nature and nurture” says Kieran. “It’s an unprejudiced look into the intergenerational nature of coldness, addiction and violence”. Cursed Earth’s ferocious and brutal music is a powerful statement of our nowadays and they are really damn worth to check out.
WOLF ALICE THE WYTCHES THEE OH SEES
WHERE: Oslo (NORWAY) WHO: Jonas Røyeng, Kamillia Waal Larsen, Jørgen Natland Apeness RELEASE: “Never On Time” Single (Out now on Propeller Recordings)
auropod are a trio from Oslo, made up of Jonas Røyeng (guitar, vocals), Kamillia Waal Larsen (bass, vocals) and Jørgen Natland Apeness (drums). They were in high school together, but the band loosely formed the year after graduation. Fuelled by punk rock, Sauropod’s music is vigorous and contagious with a blustering confidence approach. They manage to mix loud and intense riffs along with an erratic rhythm section, plus a dose of charm and carefree attitude. Sometimes it feels like they have grown up in the whole Seattle music scene. Last year, the three-piece released their explosive debut album, Roaring at the Storm. Having signed now to Propeller Recordings (home to Sløtface, Highasakite, Frøkedal, etc.), the trio have recently released their new single, “Never On Time”, which captures an exciting burst of energetic grunge-tinged punk rock. musicandriots.com
Jade Jackson spent much of her time
in a small California town, working in her parents’ restaurant and writing song after song, like her life depended on it. A storyteller at heart that found inspiration, at the age of thirteen, on Social Distortion’s Mike Ness to step on a stage. Years later, the same Mike Ness reached out to Jackson and helped her with her music and what’s now her debut album, Gilded. It was about that journey and that album that we talked with Jade Jackson, one of the most exciting artists off of the country spectrum. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Xina Hamari Ness
ou were raised in a small town where the most entertaining, exciting part of your day was “when the train rolled through town” and you “would run and go wave at the people”. There’s a completely different dynamic to living in a small town – you pay more attention to the small things. How living in small town did shaped you as a songwriter? Yeah, you’re right. You just pay attention to the smaller details, and... they don’t even become small details, they become big. The little things are still big and important. For example, when I was inside listening to the music or playing piano. I spent a lot of time outside, in my childhood and even now, and that’s kind of where I get most... you just get these surges of creativity and inspirations when you are in nature because, at least for me, your imagination just opens in a different way. I’m very thankful for that, for being able to spend time outside as a kid. What a shy 13-year-old did see in a Social Distortion show that made her want to step on a stage and share her feelings and thoughts with the entire world? Because I was shy and kind of introverted I was by myself in the crowd. There were two moshpits going on and all this crazy audience just going nuts, and I was just standing there waiting for Mike to come on stage. He walked on stage and everybody in the audience just kind of stopped and looked back at him. Everybody just listened to what he had to say and it was just so compelling like how he was able to captivate the entire room of people just with his presence. I hungered for that. I wanted a voice and I thought that maybe if I was on stage, being thirteen, maybe that would give me a chance to have a voice and be confident. I soon realized, when I start performing soon after, that I was a lot more peaceful performing on stage than I was off the stage. It just became addicting from that point. How it was receiving a phone call from Mike Mess saying he wanted to work with you? I can imagine someone feeling all these different things at once when receiving a call from one of his or her heroes. I was actually cleaning my bathroom in my
WE’RE NEW HERE, PLEASED TO MEET YOU apartment - it was my junior year of college. My phone rang and it was from this number I didn’t recognize. I take the call and hear, “Hi, this is Mike Ness.” I remember there was a mirror in the bathroom and my jaw dropped, “What?” [laughs] I honestly thought it was a joke. I found out that he wanted to help me with music stuff and that he had heard a bit of my performance that his wife showed him from capturing on her phone... It was this really surreal moment. I just felt so excited and grateful. That was three years ago and today the album is being released. It’s just been an amazing and surreal experience. And it was really important especially because I went through a pretty deep depression for a couple of years in college. I had an accident and I injured my back. I had to take a lot of medication and once I got off of it my brain was just really messed up... I was just not feeling good about myself. I had to put my music on the backburner for a while because I was focusing on healing and feeling normal again, so Mike reaching out to me it was just the right time. He just made me believe in myself again just by believing in me.
me and I need to put it on paper to get it out of me. “Finish Line” was that song for me. I wrote it very quickly, which is something that I do normally since they are kind of just this purging of an emotion or energy that I need to get out, and I realized that often times they will be a little bit more empowering. It’s almost like my subconscious way of making myself feel better and empowering myself when nobody else really offers that to me.
You’ve said, in a recent interview, “I’ve recently been trying to practice telling myself, No, this is what I want to do. Just because it’s not considered normal doesn’t mean it’s not right”. It seems like a huge struggle for you. That’s just one of those life practices that I have to practice all the time and constantly remind myself because, for example, I’m 25 and I’m at a point of my life where all my friends are getting married and having kids, and doing these things that typically are what people are taught. You grow up believing that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. My dream never was never to walk down the aisle in a white dress, my dream was to get signed to a record label. In a way, today having my album being released is the most highly anticipated day of my life. But that wasn’t normal and people who didn’t share that passion, which is pretty much everybody, and people who didn’t understand where I was coming from couldn’t relate and therefore they couldn’t really support it. My parents were always supportive but even them were like, “You’re too hard on yourself. Don’t you want to be in a relation or be with your friends?” That didn’t give me peace. What gave me peace was being on my room by myself writing songs or performing. I just had this tunnel vision. Of course sometimes you get lonely and sometimes you question yourself but... I think everybody deals with these struggles.
Was the video for “Finish Line” shot in your hometown, at your parent’s house and restaurant? Yeah. The video director came and... I thought he would just come meet me and talk about the storyline of what we wanted to do for the video. He came and stayed for two days. I took him to the work where I work, I showed him where I run in the morning, and he just decided he wanted to do an auto-biographical video of my last day before tour. The video is 100% auto-biographical. That’s the restaurant that I’ve worked in since I was thirteen years old, that’s where I run (usually with my sister, every morning). He just captured pretty much something that was twenty four years in the making.
You described “Finish Line” as your first empowering song. I was wondering how did it feel to write something completely different for the first time and if writing that song made you put things into perspective as a songwriter. The thing with me is that I write a lot of songs. As I was explaining to someone earlier, it’s like the songs that I write are actually true to me, true to an experience that I actually went through, or a direct result of a feeling that I actually felt. They’re kind of sprinkled into the songs that I write. Nine times out of ten I will put myself into somebody else’s shoes and tell their story, but there are those ones where I write because something has happen directly to
Do you feel more attached to a song like “Finish Line”? I think so. I never thought about that before but I think so, because when I sing it... whenever I sing a song I try to remember why I wrote it or what feelings I was feeling when I wrote it, and when I sing “Finish Line” I just remember how somebody just really hurt my feelings and I just got this sick in your stomach feeling. I sat down, I wrote that song, and that feeling was gone, and I had this empowering song. It’s kind of this self-affirmation song and so it is more important to me.
Were you ok with the video being auto-biographical? I honestly, at first, was like, “What the hell? Are you serious?” I was kind of weird out because... especially because of the scene in my room. You see all these affirmations that I’ve written on my wall. Those are real. I wrote them in a time I was really depressed and I had a lot of anxiety. I wrote them to try make myself feel better. I never thought in a million years somebody would want to capture that. I didn’t want to show people that. I was kind of embarrassed. Mike gave you a homework that consisted in listening exclusively to Lucinda Williams’s Car Wheels On A Gravel Road for three months or so. What did you learn from listening to that album? I think what Mike was trying to teach me is that you don’t always have to these like vocal inflections, you don’t have over exaggerate certain parts of the song. Sometimes you just need to tell the story. She just really inspired me because she told these amazing stories, but it wasn’t over the top. Her voice was really raw and it just seems really real and authentic. I loved it.
GILDED IS OUT NOW VIA ANTImusicandriots.com
A NEW ADVENTURE... You may know Roxanne Clifford as vocalist and guitarist of London’s outfit Veronica Falls. Since the band is currently on hold, Clifford started to write her own songs and then eventually started her solo project, Patience. Her new adventure is quite exciting and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to get more details about it. Words: Andreia Alves
ou are best known for Veronica Falls, but last year you started Patience, your own solo project. What led you to that? Patience just grew out of a basic need to keep creating music when things weren’t working out logistically with Veronica Falls anymore, I felt incredibly in limbo musically. I had a bunch of guitar songs I was writing and sitting on, but I didn’t know how to channel things at the time and another guitar band right away didn’t feel very liberating to me. I started to explore creating songs completely electronically on my computer. Why choosing the name Patience? I’m a big fan of virtue names, I like the double meaning of them plus I thought it was relevant to my current mental state of often feeling in a rush to produce things like I’m running out of time and that often works against me creatively - so it’s a personal mantra of sorts too. Veronica Falls were a more guitar-driven band and in Patience you go in a different musical direction. What drew you to approach synthesizers for your solo project? As I said before, it felt fresh to write in a different way and construct songs like more of a jigsaw puzzle on a grid and explore synthesiser sounds with my voice. I have since started to introduce more live elements in my newer songs.
You have recently moved to Los Angeles from London. What led you to that change? It was a good time in my life to move as I felt like I didn’t have too much keeping me in London anymore other than the obvious things like my friends and family. I felt like a new adventure and challenge.
I think is the perfect dreamy pop performance piece. We shot it all in a few hours between the fountain and my practice space with two camera angles, a fog machine and some lights. My friends were my pretend band for the day, then I left all of the editing to Lawrence Klein and he completely nailed my vision.
How did life in Los Angeles inspire you creatively? If I’m totally honest, I struggled at first to feel as inspired here as I do in the UK. The city has a different pace, it’s sunny all the time, people wear active gear day in day out and are generally more positive or confident. It’s nice to be around but you do come across a lot of insincerity and self promotion which is at odds with my upbringing. I guess it’s not as depressing here so there’s less to write about.
In July you did your first tour in Japan with a full live band. How did that go? The shows went amazingly. I have refrained from playing live with this project so far, but playing in Japan reminded me how much I miss it, also how much performing informs the progression of the songs. The Japanese audience was so positive and enthusiastic, they will be a tough act to follow for any of the shows I do next.
You have already shared three singles, with “White Of An Eye” being your latest, and all showcase dreamy and contagious 80’s synth pop. Tell us more about this song in particular. “White Of An Eye” started off as a spoken word track that I then developed in to more of a pop song. I had just moved to America when I wrote it and I was playing around with these melancholy lyrics about moving on, leaving things behind and being at piece with that. You have also shared a video for the single and it’s just brilliant. How was it like the shooting for the video and what was the idea behind it? The inspiration for the video started with Anna Domino’s “Land of my Dreams”, which
Do you have in mind more live shows for this year? Yes! Probably more towards the end of the year. Are you planning on releasing an EP or even an album after releasing your new single? That is what I am working on right now. I’m eager to get an album finished in the next couple of months. Veronica Falls have been on a hold for a while now and each one of you went separate ways and you are all just doing your own thing. Any plans on getting back together with James and Marion at some point? I’m sure we will at some point, but right now we live on different continents so it’s a little tricky!
HOT WATER Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Jonathan Weiner
With a near-25-year career and massive experience on the road, Gainesville' Florida's Hot Water Music are back with a brand new album entitled Light It Up and it showcases the band at their most invigorating and bolder shape. We caught up with Jason Black about the band's journey, the new release and what it feels like to be in the USA right now.
t’s been near-25-year career for Hot Water Music and you still going strong as whole. After all these years as a band and going through a hiatus in the middle, what keeps you motivated and excited about your music? I don’t know what it is. [laughs] We all like to play music. We do it less than we used to because we don’t do this for living anymore, this is not the thing that we do with our lives. While it does play an important part of all of our identities, we try to make it work when we can. It gets harder the older we get, not because of the pain necessarily [laughs] but we have families and jobs. Everyone gets tired. Speaking for myself, I used to love touring but I don’t really like it anymore. I like playing shows but the other 23 hours of the day we’re all away from our families and we’re not at home, so you give up a lot when you go on the road. For example, last night I was talking with my neighbour and he was like “That’s the best thing ever! I want that job.” I think for a band that’s our size it becomes a lot of work to make a living being in a band. We really would have to tour almost constantly and so we don’t tour very much. None of us want to tour constantly. You guys are going to do some shows this fall and so you are not planning on doing a bigger tour, right? Just playing shows here and there. Yeah! That’s the plan. Hopefully, we’re gonna do some more shows in the next year, but there’s not gonna be any tour. I don’t know what it would take to get us to go on tour, but whatever it is, it’s more money than we are worth. [laughs] I don’t think we would do it. You kind of realize after doing it for 20 years that it’s an awesome experience and I’m so excited to be able to go to all these places and I’m really thankful for being able to do that, but at some point settling down is fun too. One of the things that really fascinated me about Hot Water Music is that you’ve never changed a single member, and that’s a rare thing. Do you feel like an old married couple by now? More like brothers than an old married couple. [laughs] I wouldn’t say taking anything musicandriots.com
away from our friendship with each other, but it’s very much a family dynamic. A lot of fights like “Oh god, I don’t want to be around that person until next Thanksgiving.” [laughs] But, at the same time they call you and they need something and you’ll be there in 2 seconds, you know? We turned in adults together and so there’s a lot of history. Over the past few years, I think we’ve sort of got better at dealing with each other and respecting each other’s boundaries. The only way we can do with this band is to make it not full-time, because not all of us what to do it full-time. I think what’s been key for us is realize that people are going to say no and that has to be ok, and ever since we decided that, everything has been good. You guys have so much history together! Is there some remarkable memory that you have of being on Hot Water Music? I don’t know, we have a lot! At different points in time there were different things. I think now is just the fact that we’re just excited that anyone still cares. It’s pretty easy for a band to not put a record out for 5 years and then having anyone care 5 years later. It’s been a lot and we all remember different stuff in different ways. I don’t know if it’s ever anything remarkable or it’s more just dumb and funny things that happened that stick with you. [laughs] One time our RV caught on fire when we were on tour, I will never forget that. I will probably forget the first show we played in Germany or something, but now I can remember that too. But for me the shows really start to run together. I mean, there are definitely shows we have played that I have people talking to me about and I’m like “Man, I have no idea what you’re talking about but I believe you were there, but I don’t have no record of that show at all.” It’s just like asking someone to remember a specific day in their life from 15 years ago and I just can’t do that. [laughs] In 2014 you celebrated the band’s 20th anniversary with the release of 20 Year Retrospective. How does it feel to look back to all you have accomplished as a band? We played a lot of songs on that tour and they were shows that have played in a long time, so that was fun and it’s always interesting when you do something like that realizing what out of your history what people really like the most, you know? I think we’re lucky enough there’s people that like every record and it’s the best. I don’t know if there’s a consensually favorite record from our fans, but I think there’s a lot of different people that like different records and I think that’s something cool that we discovered. Overall, it was really awesome to be able to celebrate that, but that tour was two-week long and it was a really good example of us being like “We can’t do this anymore. We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary and we went on tour for 2 weeks. We’re tired and we want to go home.” That hasn’t changed so let’s keep it short. [laughs] You said different fans like different Hot Water Music records, so at the moment what’s your favorite record? Right now is Light It Up. That kind of how it is with every record, it’s always the new
one. It sounds cool, we did it ourselves and I think we’re really happy with it. The response has been pretty good so far. Hopefully people like it. We just wanted to make a record for us and for our fans. It’s not that we’re not interested, but we’re not concerned with people that don’t know who our band is, they’re not gonna decide to like us on our 8th or 9th record or whatever. [laughs] We’re comfortable with what we are and we just wanted to make a record for those people. So the new record is probably my favorite so far. [laughs] Light It Up is the follow-up to 2012’s Exister, the full-length you released after the hiatus. When did you begin to work on this album? Probably about a year and half ago. We had been trying to book recording time since Exister and that’s how long it takes us to get anything done. We kind of had to work backwards where we pick a time to record and then force ourselves to be ready, because otherwise we’ll end up being busy. That’s what we did with this record, we finally settled on a date and worked as hard as we could until we got there and record what we had. We recorded it in January and we really started writing about a year before that. This new record was entirely self-produced by you guys! How was the experience to have total control over everything? It was good and bad, I think. The bad thing is whenever we have a producer, we always lean on them to be like “We’re just gonna go with what they say, unless we think they’re completely wrong”. Not having that was more work. I mean, George [Rebelo] was in the studio every single day for the whole thing, probably too many days for his sanity. [laughs] You kind of have to please yourself, which the bad part about that is there’s four people in the band and so it’s really easy to have a tie. That’s one of the good things about having a producer is that we have a tie breaker. [laughs] Our tour sound engineer recorded the record as well and so we kind of used him as a standard producer like “We really need someone else’s opinion, what do you think?” We asked his opinion a lot and so it was helpful to have someone and that was good for the process to record with someone that we tour with and that spent years on the road with. We knew each other and it was cool to just relax in a friend environment that way. I think we’ll probably do it again that way next time, it’s just easier, because all of us going away from home for a month is impossible, so that made it a little simpler. I read that you guys said that you haven’t made a record this way since [1997 debut LP] Fuel For the Hate Game. What did you mean with that? That we haven’t done with a producer. Fuel For the Hate Game was the last record that we made without someone sort of running the show for us. Our intention with this record was to not overthink it, to not spend too much time on details. It wasn’t like we didn’t spend any time on it, but we didn’t want to get caught up. You can record an album for 3 years and you can change everything as many times as you want, but at some point you have to let it be what it
is and so that was kind of our big picture for this thing. It was like just making it and work no matter how long we spend on it and we’ll be happy with it and see how it goes. Was there a particular theme or concept that you wanted to convey on Light It Up? Not really. It’s the same as usual for Chuck [Ragan] and Chris [Wollard]. Whatever they’re going through at the time, they write about it. While this record is more political, it’s just the usual thing, like whatever is on their minds. I stay out of it because I don’t have to sing how I feel. For me, it’s like “You’re the one who has to get up there and mean this every night, so do what feels good for you.” Like you mentioned, this record has a more political and social side to it and it’s almost inevitable for people to be influenced and write about what’s going on our society right now. What are your thoughts about the current situation of USA and all over the world? It’s pretty scary. I can’t believe it, but I can definitely believe it because it’s happening and so it’s real. I think here there’s a number of reasons for it in the States. My hope is that this is sort of the last and the deathrattle of angry white men. I feel like white men have been in charge enough. Being a white dude, I feel comfortable thing that I think we can go ahead and give it up for a little while. I understand when the US election happened, I understand why people voted the way they voted, they were upset and they wanted something different. I don’t think they thought it through because this is what you got. I voted for Clinton, the whole band voted for Clinton. We would all definitely vote for Sanders if he was running and that’s us. We’re not a political band, but we’re all very liberal dudes. I get why people voted for Trump and I don’t think they thought it through. I also think it kind of came down to how broken our system is here because he won but just about 30% of the population really support him. It really brought out of the shadows how broken the system is. The funny thing is this is him and
HOT WATER MUSIC
"Over the past few years, I think we've sort of got better at dealing with each other and respecting each other's boundaries."
his supporters are using in their advantage by saying that they’re unringing the system when all they’re making it worst. The guy has only been there for 7 months, which is kind of remarkable, but you got hope by the end of 4 years that people are really gonna see what this means. I think the big problem we have in the States, and I’m as guilt as everyone else, is that nobody is locally politically active and that is very much literally how you can change the bigger picture. If you only voted in the presidential election, you’re not really going to change anything. It’s either going on way or the other, but if you voted on local elections, then you can actually change things. I hope that’s the take away for whatever the liberal people on our side decide that’s what they need to do. What do you think about the United States at the moment? I’ve been saying this for years which I think one big problem of the US is very different than almost any other country. We are huge
and we are isolated, so people that live in the middle of the US don’t generally come in contact with very many minorities and that happens in a lot of places. I lived in NY for a while and I feel that’s sort of like Europe. You can go in most major cities in Europe and you’ll see a lot of different types of people. While there still is racism obviously everywhere in world, if you’re not exposed to different types of people, than I understand why you are scared of them. There’s a lot of that in the States. I think in Europe everything is close and you have a more global thought process. In the US we’ve been the biggest, best and most giant isolated thing in the world and people don’t understand any difference. They’ve never had to think any differently and that’s the result how bigger and dumber our country is. [laughs] I think there’s a lot of things playing in that and I think a lot of people here are sad, upset and in financial distress, and the problem is that they voted for those people, and this is where I don’t really understand which is that poor white Christian people
voting for Republicans just because they’re so against the abortion that they can’t vote for a liberal person who’s actually gonna do social programs. They don’t help them because in their minds social programs only help black people and don’t help poor white people. It’s insane that people don’t know more than that, but that’s part of the problem which is educating people, not like in college, just in understanding how government can work for you if you let it. Universal health care would be good because then everyone would be healthier and then it would cost less for everyone, but they don’t wanna pay for somebody else’s health because they only wanna pay for their own without thinking the next step is that if you’re paying for somebody else than somebody else is paying for you. People are very unwilling to cooperate with other people that they don’t know here, which is pretty dumb.
LIGHT IT UP IS OUT NOW VIA RISE RECORDS musicandriots.com
NOGA EREZ Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Tonje Thilesen
Tel Aviv’s Noga Erez belongs to the group of those rare artists that somehow find a way to excel in pretty much all the branches that encompass their artistic expression – in Noga’s case it’s made with a fresh sound that is complemented with great songs, enthralling visuals, and a message that actually means something. Her debut album Off The Radar, Tel Aviv, and the importance of balance, were some of the subjects of our conversation with one of the most exciting new artists around.
decades and decades. So, I think in a way that would be what kind of shaped me as a human being. Knowing that something in a not very distant place from me is happening and I’m, in a way, a part of it. But I’ve kind of experienced from far.
had the chance of interviewing the vocalist from King 810, which is from Flint, Michigan (one of the most dangerous cities in the United States), and it was quite visible that he was highly informed and influenced, as an artist and as a human being, by his surroundings. It seems that you share that with him – even the way you talk about political and social subjects from a very personal point of view. I’m extremely curious to know how Tel Aviv made you develop as a person and ultimately as an artist. You know, living in Tel Aviv, and living in Israel, is not... I mean, sometimes you can really imagine something that feels very unsafe or even dangerous because you hear about what’s going on here and you always hear about war, or terrorism, violence, and stuff like that, but in reality when you live inside of Tel Aviv, or in the center of Israel, you don’t feel the violence on the everyday life. That’s the main different between me and the artist you talked about. I walk the streets and I feel safe... most of the time. But the thing is, when you take yourself maybe an hour away from Tel Aviv to places like Jerusalem or Gaza, which is so nearby, terrible things are happening. Things that are in the center of a very, very complex conflict that has been going on for
You’ve confessed that at some point you got rid of your TV and stopped consuming news completely. Do you maintain that? The reason I wanted to avoid news and media in general, was because of the fact that I tend to be oversensitive or too interested in what’s happening. I found myself, at a certain point, kind of waking up in the morning and just reading whatever there is to read about the situation, about the world, about Israel, and because it has something so interesting to it consuming this information was something that I felt was almost like an addiction for me. It was almost like when you read gossip, because it’s something you can’t stop consuming. I felt that at a certain point it became unhealthy and I kind of felt that it numbed me in the emotional side because you are continuously reading about how dreadful the world can be, horror stories like awful things that happen to people, it kind of becomes something that you just read about. It’s not something that really happened and it kind of loses the human aspect of it, and I felt, at a certain point, I really needed to disconnect myself from it, in order to maintain a certain sensitivity and to not be detached. That was the reason and I don’t find myself disconnecting completely from what’s happening anymore because I had to learn how to find the balance and how to not get myself too deep into things and still remain very aware of what’s happening. I think after a while that I was really working on it, I’ve kind of achieved that, so I don’t need to do that very extreme separation between myself and the world. There seems to exist a huge concern for the visual aspect of your music. Is the visual aspect of it attached to the creative process of the music in some way, or is it just a very pivotal after thought? I love music videos and that’s why I put so much effort in making them, and I’ve always kind of dreamt to have videos for my music, so it’s a very important thing to me. But I think if you look at the hierarchy - what’s more important - I tend to think, of course because I’m a musician, that the music comes first and the music needs to stand on its own and be very, very good on its own without having a video helping communication the message. But I do think that videos are an extremely important tool to make the music in a way accessible, because visuality is something that we can connect with very easily and the visual sense is one of the most important ways for us to process the world. It’s an extension of the music. It’s no intended to be something that distracts you from the music. How does it work your relation with your creative partner, co-writer and producer Ori Rousso? We have been creative partners and collaborators for the past four years, or something like that. It has been working very, very well from the beginning and something about the communication that
“...I had to learn how to find the balance and how to not get myself too deep into things and still remain very aware of what’s happening.”
we have really helps the creative process. For me sitting with him in the same room and creating music is something that really helps my creativity and the same for him. I think that’s something really important about partnership. Each side can benefit from it and also it can build something completely new and really be its own thing, because there’s me, there’s him, we both write the lyrics and compose, and produce the music together, but there’s also the partnership itself, which is a whole separate thing that, from day one, has been working on a very harmonic way. When you started composing these tracks you were not necessarily thinking about making an album, from what I understand. How was the process of putting them together and create a sort of context for them? We had a lot of songs, which we picked out the ones that felt that they could work best together. And then when we realized kind of the atmosphere of the album was going to be, we had a few songs that we felt needed... I mean, we had the order of the songs and we felt it was a strong lineup between the songs, but we felt we needed to kind of break the tension from time to time because we ended up having a very intense album. So, we added a few bits of music, some raw ideas between songs in order to give a certain relief between all the tensions of the songs. We really tried a lot of things and did I don’t know how many variations but... it was a very, very long, and very interesting process to think of the aspect of besides having the songs how you put them together into something that would feel like it’s one, very continuous, and very organic. One of the most impressive features on Off The Radar is to witness all these different voices that you have and use throughout the album. I remember listening to it for the first time and being excited because I didn’t know what the hell I would encounter in terms of vocal performance on each song. How’s your creative process regarding your vocal performance and what would you say influences it? I look at vocal performances as something that has the aesthetic of being a good vocal performance, but also something that is supposed to transfer something, that’s beyond a lot of emotion, attitude, and vibe. I felt like in many ways I didn’t want sing the songs from my point of view, the very neutral point of Noga Erez as a human being. I wanted to play different characters in the songs because sometimes I wasn’t talking from my own mouth and I felt it could be an interesting experience to try and bring out a few different voices into the songs, and really follow the meaning of them, what they want me to do. In a song like “Toy”, for example, I was kind of trying to be like an annoying child, a very spoiled child that is used to getting whatever he wants – that’s one approach. In “Dance While You Shoot” I was trying to bring something almost monotonic and disconnected but at the same time very angry. When you put so much loaded emotions into things, it changes the vocal performance in a way that creates a big variety of characters.
“In a way I think the atmosphere we brought there, when you put it together with the lyrics is really something that came so naturally for both of us because we both like music that contains a very strong message but we also like music that really gives like a good beat that you can maybe dance to.” Even though your lyrics can be politically and social conscious, your music provides a release that seems to come from a more positive place – it’s often danceable and upbeat. Was that a conscious effort to create this sort of dichotomy? No, I mean... this all album was created not from a place of effort. Of course there was a tone of work put into that album, and hard work is a part of creating something and when things come too easily, usually I begin to suspect that there’s still something that needs to be solved. But when I think about not putting effort I mean, I love every moment of this album and I loved the difficulties and challenges about it. You can get to a point where you feel so frustrated because of the creative process. In a way I think the atmosphere we brought there, when you put it together with the lyrics is really something that came so naturally for both of us because we both like music that contains a very strong message, but we also like music that really gives a good beat that you can maybe dance to. These are the two sides that exist in us and combining them wasn’t an effort. What’s the meaning behind “Instruction” and “Side Effect” and what did you want to convey? I’m asking about these two in particular because there seems to exist a connection between them. Yeah, there is. It’s basically the same text, but “Side Effect” is basically an extension of the same text. There’s a track in the album called “Muezzin” that used to
have chorus, which was both of those little parts. It was the verses that are now on “Muezzin” and then the chorus was what you hear now in the acappella parts. At a certain point, we felt that “Muezzin” should exist without those chorus because in a way it felt like “Muezzin”, which is a very personal song that talks about the experience of anxiety attack or paranoia that shouldn’t have a resolution because “Read the instructions carefully” is how a medication brochure starts, and then it goes on talking about the side effects of said medication... So, “Muezzin” is a song that talks sort of about mental illness and then it gives the solution of taking medicine, which is something I wasn’t really interested in saying. But I did feel that when you take out the chorus and you put it before other songs, it gives it another meaning, it gives it a meaning of: “Read the instructions carefully,” meaning know what you’re getting into, and then comes something that you’re supposed to go through, which is emotional, which is the song that comes after. This is kind of what stands behind those two little parts of acappellas. Could you please explain the “Quiet One” track and why did you mention Kendrick and Vince? “Quiet One” is basically a track to prepare the listener to he’s about to hear in the same way as “Side Effect” and “Instruction”. All of those little short parts inside the album are meant to kind of break the fourth wall me, as an artist, and the listener. “Quit One” is a song that comes right before a very quiet song, a very mellow song “Worth None”, and in a way it is approaching the listener as someone who’s having a hard time really listening to something that’s not very upbeat, that’s not a hit song. It tells the listener, “Well, you’ve come this far and you must know that right now I need to provide a quiet song.” About the Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples references, I listen to them all the time, but in that song I’m trying to tell myself and the listener to try avoid doing the same thing and try to go to somewhere else and change your listening habits, in a way. “Global Fear” feels a sort of center piece. Not only its position right at the middle, but you say something that seems to sort of inform the record as a whole – “Breathing is impossible / I think I’m about to pass out.” Not to mention that is probably the most relatable statement on the entire record, something seems to be reaching the vast majority of the population. Yeah, we thought about putting it right on the middle of the album. It was an intentional thing. We wanted to break the album in the middle with “Global Fear” because it’s a statement and we need to approach this very specific thing about us, a generation driven by fear, driven by a paranoia that distances us from what’s happening in the world and makes us disconnect, or run away, or escape. We felt this was one of the messages that was very central to the album, which tells the story of the album in a way.
OFF THE RADAR IS OUT NOW VIA CITY SLANG
INTERVIEW // PLANNING NOGA FOR BURIAL EREZ
CIGARETTES A Imagine a black & white melancholically romantic film. That's basically how Cigarettes After Sex sound like. Frontman Greg Gonzalez started the band back in 2008, but just in 2015 they've got a massive break-out with their single "Affection". They just put out their impressive self-titled album and we had the chance to catch up with Gonzalez.
INTERVIEW // MINUS THE BEAR
AFTER SEX Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Shervin Lainez
ou started Cigarettes After Sex back in 2008. Tell us what led you to start this project in the first place. I started way back in 2008 and it began as a solo project that I had based on a collection of songs. Since then the sound evolved more to a band around 2015. You studied music at the University of Texas, El Paso, but then you moved to Brooklyn and you started working as musician and managing a cinema (the Beekman Theatre on Manhattan’s Upper East Side). Your music has this cinematic approach to it. Which films had impact on you while writing your songs? I think the main ones that I like to think of for the sound of Cigarettes After Sex are the film The Double Life of Veronique by the director Kieslowski and also the film L’Avventura by Antonioni. I think those films have both kind of a mysterious beauty to them; they’re both very sensual, the visuals are very striking and the music is very beautiful in both films. They have a sort of exotic feeling as well. I really love those both films. I think they kind of sum up the feeling of Cigarettes After Sex for me. They are both moody and romantic films. What other music references were important in the conception of your music? I think the main one was Françoise Hardy music just because her music sounds so pure and beautiful... She’s my favorite singer, songs like “All Over The World” and “Voilà” are really striking. But also bands like The Paris Sisters and this kind of early
60’s gentle girl groups stuff, Julee Cruise and the stuff she did for Twin Peaks. Cocteau Twins were also a big influence. Tell us about the band’s current lineup and how they joined you. I met the keyboard player Phillip Tubbs in El Paso, he’s actually from my hometown as well and he was playing guitar for a long time. He played guitar in the first EP. Later on the members kind of shuffle in. I got back on guitar and he became the keyboard player, and then I met the drummer Jacob Tomsky and the bassist Randy Miller. I saw them playing in local bands and I thought they were great and that really sounded great together. I literally asked them to join. They were already fans of the band before they got in, so that was cool too. Once they joined, everything fell in place. I think everyone became perfect in their roles. Everyone has their own crucial place in the band. Even though Cigarettes After Sex were formed in 2008, only in 2015 there was an impressive online break-out success with the song “Affection” and leading to the re-discovery of your debut EP, I, released in 2012. How do you look back to that? It was strange. It felt like it was just a long time coming. I felt like in my heart I knew that something was going to happen someday. I knew that the music that I was making had quality in some way and I thought that was true, but I wasn’t really seeing the results of that. I just saw some people that would say that they liked it but never anything like now, where there’s many fans. I just felt like it would happen someday and it happened in a very strange way, which was something that I wasn’t expecting that was YouTube, it just went viral. I really thought that maybe we would get signed to a label, put out a record and get a good review and then things take off, but it was the total opposite, where we skipped all that and people just like it because they heard it somehow, in the most random way. But I think it is amazing. It was really better that way because people chose to listen to the music themselves, they didn’t have to hear it from someone else saying “You should listen to this.” They decided to pick that for some reason based on the album art or the name or whatever. It’s a cool thing how music is changing and how things are happening now.
There’s something about it that’s more dreamlike, so I decided to stay with that and I think there’s something powerful about it. You’ve just released recently your first full-length and it’s such an immersive, intimate and melancholically romantic effort. It’s just superb. Tell us a bit about how the writing approach for it was. The strange thing about this one is that it was written over the course of 5 years, because there were songs that I had back in El Paso that we tried to record as a band but it didn’t work well. Then we did it again year later and we finally found the right version, like a song like “Flash” which is a very old song. And then there’s stuff that is brand new. “K” was a newer song, it was written right before we went into recording. A song like “Truly” is more recent too. The thing about that is that it’s strange that it covers a 5 year period of my life autobiographically and so that’s a long period of time and all written in very different times. Some songs were written in El Paso, some were written in Brooklyn and some were written last year when I was on tour like in Paris or Prague. I like that it is a little random. [laughs] Your EP I was recorded in a four-story stairway at your alma mater, the University of Texas at El Paso. I read the track “Each Time You Fall in Love” was recorded in a stairway as well. How was it like to record your debut album? The thing with that is that I love the idea
One of the band’s aesthetic is your minimalist but striking black and white artwork. What did draw you to choose that imagery? I loved black and white cinema as I was growing up and how deep the photography get is really beautiful like Citizen Kane, just these beautiful black and white films that I was watching. I thought there was something powerful to that and once we did the EP and the music was done, I was looking for an album cover and I was looking at Man Ray’s work, and when I put those two together they just felt so perfect. It was like they completed each other. That kind of sparked out and once I saw that I thought, “This is exactly what we should do.” I couldn’t really see it any other way. I really think that black and white is just more romantic honestly.
"I think the sadness come have a good and beautiful there's this kind of sadne now, it's far away even ISSUE 23
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX of doing records in strange locations and the stairway was the first one and then we went in and just did on a kind of normal rehearsal space for “Affection” on the EP. I had access to a stairway that was in the movie theatre that I was working on at the time and I just thought, “Let’s get in there to try some songs out and see how they sound” and luckily “Each Time You Fall In Love” came out good and we thought that we should use that. It was very much just like if I find a nice location, we’ll just try out some songs. Just using the location as a kind of characteristic of the style of the recording. Was there any other song of the album that was recorded in a different location that wasn’t the studio? No, it was just that one. “Each Time You Fall In Love” was recorded in a stairway and the rest was done over the course of 3 days in Brooklyn in a rehearsal space, the same we did “Affection”. I thought that “Affection” came out so good that it was kind of the template to the album basically. I thought, “This song sounds great, so let’s just try to do the whole record there,” which is why we went back because it made sense to do it there. You are very personal and in-depth with your lyrics. There’s always this romantic and nostalgic vibe to it. How usually goes the process to write your lyrics? For me, I just try to live the fullest that I can daily and if I’m romantic with somebody I like it to be memorable. [laughs] I
es from the fact that you l memory in the past, but ess about it that it's gone if it's a good memory."
just have that and how my life kind of goes and so when I sit down and just draw upon anything that happened to me that had any kind of impact. I just have to dig back the memories for the most part and think about a time I was with somebody and had a great time and now it’s gone. I think the sadness comes from the fact that you have a good and beautiful memory in the past, but there’s this kind of sadness about it that it’s gone now, it’s far away even if it’s a good memory. Many of the songs are actually very sweet songs if you think about it, but they’re still sad because the memories are from the past and the joy is gone and you’re just on the present. I think that’s what kind of makes the music sad. It’s not necessarily always sad - sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not - but they are very sweet songs. The opening track “K” is such a mesmerizing and engaging song. Can you tell me about the background story of it? I was seeing this girl. I was in New York and she was in El Paso. We just had this really intense thing going and it was a long distance relationship. I wrote the song “Affection” about her because... If you listen to the second verse of “Affection”, it says “We love to talk about how you’ll come up to visit me/And we’ll rent a car and we’ll drive upstate”, so that was a song for her before she visited. And then “K” is actually when she comes visit. It’s kind of a sequel of “Affection” basically. “K” is about when she came to New York and we had a great week together, but when it ends we left seeing each other and it’s a bit painful. “K” is the end. Is it hard for you to express those feelings and play them on your songs over and over again? How do you feel about that? I feel lucky that the songs were written about real things and I think that always makes me emotional when I’m on stage. If we’re playing a song like “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” or “K”, all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see that memory. I can be back alongside with that girl, I can be back dancing in the living room with my girlfriend... Also the crowd makes me emotional because I can see the music has meant something to them by looking at their faces. I’m happy that I don’t have to try very hard, it’s just a natural thing to have these deep feelings and that they didn’t fade. As a whole, your debut album feels like a retro-romantic film soundtrack, that holds you throughout the whole time. If Cigarettes After Sex were a film soundtrack, which one would it be? It’s a tough one. I change my answer a lot, but I think it would have to be the soundtrack from my favorite film, which is The Red Shoes by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, just because that film is about an intense romance and it’s just a gorgeous film. I would be really flatter to somehow the music in that film have the same intensity. I will probably change my answer daily. [laughs]
CIGARETTES AFTER SEX SELF-TITLED ALBUM IS OUT NOW VIA PARTISAN RECORDS musicandriots.com
ANNIE HART Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Sebastian Kim
Best known as one-third of Au Revoir Simone, Annie Hart didn't quite stop making music while her band is currently on a hiatus. She has been writing songs and now she ventured to put out her first solo album, Impossible Accomplice. We talked with Annie about the album, Au Revoir Simone and their appearance at one two of the new Twin Peaks' brilliant episodes.
ince Au Revoir Simone released the latest album - Move In Spectrums (2013) - you’ve been working on your own songs. Tell me a little bit of how it was the process of crafting them and what has pushed you to put them out for the world. Ever since I was a child, I’ve always just played music and always made music. Now that Au Revoir Simone is not happening one of my bandmates, Heather [D’Angelo], moved to California and became a scientist journalist. [laughs] And my other bandmate Erika [Forster] just had a baby and she’s spending much more time with the baby and enjoying that feeling. I just never stop playing music or making music. I wasn’t going to make it public or really do anything and I didn’t think it was that good, but actually Heather said I was crazy and that the songs were really good and it wasn’t fair to the world if I didn’t make a record. [laughs] And I said, “Ok. If you like them, I guess I’ll do it.” [laughs] Was there a sound you seek to capture outside Au Revoir Simone? Not really. I think to me they all sound different. For Au Revoir Simone, each played two keyboards or sometimes three keyboards and this is really just me playing and especially live, I don’t do samples or anything. I think inherently it’s just more minimal. When I play alone I really just play synthesizer and I just listen to the sound of the synthesizer. By having it so open sonically that you can really appreciate the nuances within one sound. It wasn’t like I was trying to do anything different from Au Revoir Simone because I’m using all the same equipment as we used for our last record and the record before that. It’s gonna sound similar, but I think it just has a little more space and less things going on. What were your main references while shaping your sound? A few things really inspired me. Musically, for Au Revoir Simone we’ve never really listened to any other bands and said “I want to make an album that sounds like this.” We just kind of played together and whatever happened, happened. I think you can hear that, it doesn’t really sound much like anything else. [laughs] With this album, I kind of had the same thing, but I was listening to a lot more synth music like this artist that I literally only listened to her record for like a month. It’s called The Expanding Universe by Laurie Spiegel and I love it so much and that really shows what you can do with one instrument like one synthesizer and just have so many different rhythms going on that keeps it so interesting, complicated and involving... No matter how many times I listened to that record, I just wanted to listen to it again... It’s almost like a puzzle for my brain to figure out in a beautiful way. I wrote the song “Breathing Underwater” after I saw Savages play a concert. I came home and
I wrote the lyrics on the subway and the melody. I just started playing keyboard in GarageBand. I had already written the lyrics and the drumbeat on my iPhone and then when I came home I started playing keyboards along with it. The demo doesn’t really sound like the actual song; the demo sounds more like dark new wave. [laughs] There’s always an evolution in the sound no matter what you’re trying to do. Impossible Accomplice is your debut solo album and it was all written, recorded and performed by you, in the basement of your Brooklyn home. Can you tell me more about the whole process? On this album I’ve been playing a lot of bass as well, but the process... [laughs] I do this activity with my friends every now and then where we pick one day and the idea is you wake up at 9 in the morning and you try to write and record 8 songs in 8 hours. [laughs] Some of them are very good, some of them are not. [laughs] It’s fun and it’s really embarrassing because you’re bringing these terrible ideas and just trying to get them done for your friends and my friends are professional musicians. Having them hearing this bad stuff is really hard for me. [laughs] But the idea behind that was so inspiring and I noticed that every time I did it for about 5 days or one week after, I would have so many more ideas. Usually the songs that I wrote for that weren’t very good, but there are two of them on the record from those events. But the other songs I just added more ideas and it was more easily because I did that. Usually how the songs start is like I just sit down and start playing on synthesizer and then some kind of nonsense words happen. I keep a notebook with interesting things that I’ve heard or interesting ideas for words that have come to my mind, so I keep a list of two or three word sentences and then I use one of those ideas as a starting point for writing words. Why name the album as Impossible Accomplice? When I was thinking about that, I was reading an interview about these two women who became friends and they said “Oh, I thought she could be a possible accomplice for me in my crime” or something like that, and I was like “What about an impossible accomplice?” The theme of the song there’s so much of wanting this person around but it can’t happen and start thinking of the ideas, like if someone wants to be your accomplice but it’s impossible to make that happen, it’s out of your control. On the album’s lead single “Hard to Be Still,” you said that it was the first time you had managed to write “a normal love song” and it’s about your husband. Can you elaborate more on that? I was staying at my friend’s house in Portland and he wasn’t there, he’s a musician and he has all of this music stuff. [laughs] I had the day off and I just started using his stuff and recording. I got this idea for an almost punk song and I don’t really remember how I got the words or anything, but once I got a few lyrics I realized it was a really good true love song. I just went with it, but it was really strange for me because I’ve tried to write songs about him for years and they all just seemed so cheesy. [laughs]
“When I play alone I really just play synthesizer and I just listen to the sound of the synthesizer. By having it so open sonically that you can really appreciate the nuances within one sound.”
INTERVIEW // HURRAY FOR THE ANNIE RIFF HART RAFF
As you said, your husband Doug Marvin is also a musician and he’s in a band called Drawing Boards. Do you exchange ideas about each other’s bands and musical taste? [laughs] We ended up on our first date finding out that we had two or three of the same favorite bands like obscure indie rock bands at the time. [laughs] We actually played in a band together called Pursesnatchers, but honestly he and my parents are the only people that I get stage fright in front of because they’re the only people I really care what they think, like with anybody else I’m like “Whatever. Who cares?” [laughs] It was hard for me to be in a band to create with him because I’m very critical but at the same time I don’t want to be mean. Have you already played “Hard To Be Still” to him? Oh yeah, he loved it, and my kids loved it too. [laughs] They like to dance to the songs. They go downstairs when I’m editing and just dance when I’m practicing to concerts. They are my number one fans. [laughs]
How’s it like tour life to you and to your family? For the moment I’ve only played two tours and they were both just in California, and so I was only gone for a week, but it’s ok and easy because my husband is a tour manager and so when he’s touring I take care of the kids and then when I’m touring he takes care of the kids. If there’s ever a problem, both of our parents are really nice and they love the children. We have a good support. When my older child was like two or three, I did a lot of touring for Au Revoir Simone and nothing bad happened. [laughs] And it’s also nice to sleep because when I’m home I never sleep. [laughs] I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk with you about Twin Peaks. Au Revoir Simone made an appearance at the end of the fourth episode of the awesome Twin Peaks’ comeback. You girls and David Lynch are great friends, but how did approach you to be part of that episode?
He asked a bunch of bands that he likes to play and perform. We’ve known him for years and so we were really excited when he asked us. We flew to California and it was so easy. He was just like “Oh, that’s amazing girls! That’s great! Oh beautiful, just beautiful!” I was really nervous because I wasn’t feeling relaxed or comfortable when it was happening, but I think it came out pretty great. Any plans on releasing new material with Au Revoir Simone any time soon? I’m willing and ready for a return, but I don’t know, I’m just waiting for everybody. I think Heather really wanted to become a scientist and get a job, but I don’t know... We’ll probably do some collaborations in the future. We did some composing for advertising and stuff together. There’s always something, but we’ll see. Right now I’m just gonna do this and then see what happens.
IMPOSSIBLE ACCOMPLICE IS OUT NOW VIA INSTANT RECORDS musicandriots.com
t’s been 20 years since The Movielife started. How do you feel about looking back to when everything started? Never thought I would still be doing it. I’ve never said I would be in a band and I didn’t plan on being in a band. I was never in a band in high school and so I just kind of fell into it a little bit and realized how important it was to me to have music in my life and be able to make music. 20 years down the line I don’t know what to do without it. It really completes me as a person and it allows me to be a happy person, even though a lot that I write about isn’t particularly happy and I think that’s why it gives me really an outlet. The fact that I forged the career out of that is something that I’m very proud of, but also very grateful for it. 2003 was the year that The Movielife broke up. Personally, I’ve always kept in my mind that you guys just took some time off, because I always felt that you guys have always left a door open to something over the years after the break up… How do you guys feel now that you’re back in 2017? It feels amazing. Just coming back playing some reunion shows was a really nice feeling and it’s been two and half years and we have this new record coming out. It’s a whole new feeling. A lot has changed... We’re on our 30s and when we started I was 18 or 19. It feels great to be a band, to have people that still remember us and care about us and sing along to all of our older songs. It’s very special. A bunch of bands such as Four Year Strong, Hit The Lights and Set Your Goals saw you as their main reference for their music. How do you guys take that now? For us to be an influence on bands, especially incredible bands like the ones you mentioned, it’s very gratifying for us. The way that we regard the bands that we would call our influences and our inspirations, bands that we grew up on, for us to be that for somebody else is very flattering because if we’re that important or that pivotal band to someone, whether it would be a fan or a band, to know how much I care about the bands that were an influence to me and to be that for somebody else, it’s really special. It’s the highest compliment you can really get as a musician.
Aside from a brief reunion in 2010, The Movielife had been almost totally off since 2003, calling it a day in September that year, after seven months of the release of your third record, Forty Hour Train Back To Penn. It was unthinkable for you guys to get together, but somehow in 2014 things changed. How did this reunion come to be? It was very simple. Brendan Reilly [guitarist] and myself have always been very good friends. We are the creative force of the band and we write music together, and that doesn’t change with the new record. Brendan and I wrote the whole thing together, so we hadn’t seen each other very much because after The Movielife broke up
It's still hard to believe that The Movielife are back and with a new record after splitting up in 2003. Cities In Search of A Heart marks the bandâ€™s return to form and it's just an impressive and bold record. We had the pleasure to talk with Vinnie Caruana about the band's comeback, what led them to get back together and how it was like to work on their highly anticipated record.
MOVIELIFE Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Shervin Lainez
we were roommates. We were always very supportive of each other, like he with I Am The Avalanche and myself with Nightmare of You. We’re really big fans of each other’s music and we’re just kind of musical piers even though that we’re in a band together, we always shared music with each other. Brendan started a family and sometimes life goes that way where you don’t see your friends as much. Brendan and I kind of fell off of each other’s lives a little bit. We kept in touch, but we wouldn’t see each other very much. We kind of realized that and we made it a point to get together more often, be in each other’s lives and be part of each other’s families. When that started to happen, almost immediately we started to write music together and discuss that possibility of playing together again. And that was really it! When Brendan and I rebuilt our friendship, the music followed very quickly after. How was it like to be back together and play live shows again now you’re in your mid-thirties? I have to stretch a little more before we play. [laughs] Not that much has changed. It’s that same feeling singing these songs. I’m enjoying singing the old songs and at the same time I’m very happy to have new songs to sing as well. The crowd has grown with us. There’s a lot of the same faces from back in the day and a lot of newer people coming to see us as well, people that maybe got into us after we had broken up and now they have the opportunity to see us. This will be the first US tour since 2003. We played shows here and there in the reunion shows and now that we’re doing the whole United States there’s a lot of cities that we haven’t played since 2002/2003, so we’re gonna get to see what the rest of the country thinks and the rest of the world as well as we continued this record’s cycle. We’re gonna try to get everywhere. Cities In Search of A Heart marks the band’s return to form and your first album since 2003’s Forty Hour Train Back To Penn. How did it feel to get back in writing together and brainstorm ideas for the new songs? It felt like I was 19 again and it felt very natural. We weren’t writing with any sort of pressure and nobody knew we were writing. We didn’t feel the need to speak about it until we were ready to show it to people and until we knew we were prepared. I think it’s some of our best work. I know how it is to be a music fan and sometimes our ears aren’t ready to hear new music from bands, especially records that we’ve been listening to for 15 years, and I think that’s really our job to get out there, play shows - obviously we will always play the older songs as well as the new songs - play in front of our crowd, show them some new music and show them like “Hey guys, you know what? There’s a new The Movielife record here for you.” We really think that’s some of our best work. We understand at the same time how nostalgia works and nostalgia is a very powerful thing, so we just did our best to write a record that we knew we were proud of and just make it as strong as humanly possible. Cities In Search Of A Heart has a bunch of
big pop punk melodies with some of the fury of hardcore. What was the inspiration behind the writing process for the new record? We didn’t use any of the stuff that we began writing. Our original songs from probably 2 years ago when we started, we didn’t use any of it. We just needed to find our way. We didn’t know how to make it to not sound like when we were kids, we wanted it to come from a very natural place. In the beginning, we were just working on a lot of chords and melodies and things like that. Trying to find out how to be The Movielife in 2017 is not easy, that was the hardest part. I remember asking Brendan to write a punk song while I was away because I was going on a solo tour, and we weren’t really writing songs, we were just playing around with different chords and melodies. I remember Brendan kind of being confused like “What kind of punk song? Do you mean like something that we used to write?” and I was like “No! Just a punk song in 2017 from the mind of Brendan Rilley who’s written many great punk songs.” I could see that he was stressed out. [laughs] I went away and I wrote a song that was actually the song that starts the record [“Ski Mask”]. When I showed him that song, he was like “I think this is my favorite thing we’ve done so far.” I basically wanted to get the point across like “It doesn’t need replicate anything we’ve ever done. The important thing is that it has the heart that The Movielife has and it has that energy and that sincerity.” When I showed him that song, it changed everything. When I say we didn’t use a lot of the stuff that we wrote in the beginning, I would say that probably 90% of the record was written after I wrote that song and showed him the kind of directions we could go and where we could both be happy with what we were doing. I know that Brendan is very intent on not trying to recreate the past and I’m in complete agreement with him. At the same time, making a record that we’re proud of and that our fans will love is not an easy thing to do, but I think we achieved it.
being a young man and trying to figure out relationships and love, you know what I mean? I’m an happily married man who’s 37 years old and I can’t write about things like that, I have to write what’s real now and I don’t think that anybody wants to hear that either, I certainly don’t. There’s more pressing matters at hand. There was no doubt that I was going to be writing from a very real place in 2017 as a person and as an American and who’s disillusion with calling himself American. At the same time to not be making it an overly political record because that certainly is not the spirit of The Movielife, so to find that place in between where I can do an accurate social commentary at least coming from my point of view and Brendan’s point of view and write from that place that we are in without making just political anthems. It’s just not something that I’m interested in doing, but I am interested in touching on these things in a way that’s not directly on the nose.
What led you to title this album as Cities In Search Of A Heart? It has a lot to do with the way we feel in America right now. Things are very strange over here. Being an American is not an easy thing to do these days. I don’t identify with many of my country man and with their views... Our country and our government is trying to go back to Stone Age and all the progress that we’ve made and how progressive society has become, they’re trying to cut it all down and make America “white” again and make it racist again. The title is really about the good people coming together and letting their true colors show and letting everybody know who you are. The racists and the bigots are certainly letting themselves be known and they’re been given a voice and they don’t have to hide anymore, so the good people and righteous people need to do the same.
You had quite a team working with you guys on the recording process and it was recorded at Barber Shop Studios in northern New Jersey. Tell me more about the whole process. It was hard working but very easy going process. We started very early each morning until 10 or 11 at night each day. It was me, Brendan, Brett Romnes - who played drums and produced the record as well - and our friend Joe Cannetti - who was kind of a sound engineer and tech for us in the studio. Brett and Joe are an incredible team and got some really great sounds for us. The four of us just sat at the same room together for about a month and just constantly worked with joy the entire time and it never felt like work. Working from 9 in the morning until 5 just making music and just having sound being blasted into my head all day, around 5 o’clock in the afternoon I would enjoy a nice cold beer and then it would give me my second wind and then we would get back to work at night. [laughs] Usually after I had a drink or two, I would say “Alright, I want to sing” and then I would sing a song or two. Around 10 or 11 pm when we finished, we would have
Lyrically, it’s obvious that you got inspired by everything that’s going on our society right now, which is all very uncertain and overwhelming. How was it like to write these lyrics for the new album? A lot of older The Movielife records is me
The latest single “Ghost in the Photographs” is a true pop-punk anthem and it’s one of my favorite of the album. Tell me a little bit about the story behind it. The line in the song that says “Such a struggle to be true and have a pulse” is really about being a human being knowing that we all have those things that we’re not proud of that we did. We all have major mistakes that we’ve made, things I hope we’ve learned from and I certainly have. The whole point of it is like, I’m human, you’re human. We know that we haven’t always done the right thing or done things in the right way, but even for the terrible people out there there’s still time to make right the things that you’ve done wrong and there’s still time to learn from it and to grow as a human, and that’s really where the chorus comes from. I’m not there anymore, I’m not trying to live in the past and wallow in my own kind of misery. I’m trying to make sure I grow, I’m trying to make sure that I am making a positive impact and trying to make sure that I live a positive life.
"The racists and the bigots are certainly letting themselves be known and they're been given a voice and they don't have to hide anymore, so the good people and righteous people need to do the same." like a movie time. We would have wine and watch a movie all together and we would play the movie through the speakers in the studio that are worth god knows how much money and it would be like a theatrical movie experience every night after we would wrapped tracking.
together and we all know how to be successful and we all know how to do what we do best, so they’re leaving it to us to make great records and go play great shows, and we’re leaving to them to promote the record and do everything that they can do to get behind us. It’s been really great.
How has been like to work with Rise Records? They’re really cool! The record hasn’t even come out yet and I have very high opinion of them. They are extremely supportive, a label that in regards to each of their bands it seems like the most important thing is for the band to be happy and the band to have resources to make the record they want to make the way they want to make it and not getting in the way of the creative process whatsoever. If you don’t trust a band to make a great record and something that they believe in and that means something, then why would you ever signed them to your label in the first place? I think that Rise Records understands that. We have a very long career and dealt with many great labels, Rise is absolutely no different. They believe in us, they know that we know what we’re doing, we know that they know what they’re doing, we both have our own success. Now it’s just putting our heads
Last year you released your first solo album, Survivor’s Guilt, an album that showcased your perseverance and talent as a musician and individual. Are you planning on releasing new solo material soon? I’m always writing music. I hadn’t thought of a solo record for a while now just because this record with The Movielife hasn’t come out, but actually just recently I definitely broke some ground. I started writing a song that feels to me that it can be the start of that project. The last solo record I went on a really full band kind of experience and we toured that way as well with the full band. I don’t want to do that again, not that I don’t want to do that again, but for this next solo record I would like to pull it back a little bit and to be a lot more intimate than the rock band experience. I’m in a rock band again [laughs] and so I’m getting my kicks that way with The Movielife, I don’t need to make another
rock record on the side. I think my next solo stuff will be a lot more intimate and I’m just starting to kind of break the ice with that and I have plenty of time. There’s a lot of time on tour to just mess around and so I just don’t want sit around and look at my phone, I want to create and make sure I’ll keep busy and stay on top of my writing. I Am The Avalanche took about a six year break in between records and I think since that this has been my most prolific era of my career. I would like to be even more prolific and I would like to keep releasing as much music as possible and be able to look back as an old man and just be proud of what I did. This is what I’m supposed to do, I’m supposed to be writing music and I know I need to keep doing that and I know I want to keep doing that. I just want to keep doing solo records, make The Movielife records... With I Am The Avalanche we only just play a show every once in a while, but if we were able to do some stuff like that, it would be great... There’s a lot of other projects that I tour around with too and maybe I’ll show some people that, so I just want to keep releasing music in any possible way.
CITIES IN SEARCH OF A HEART IS OUT NOW VIA RISE RECORDS musicandriots.com
Never one to tread the beaten track, Steven Wilson has once again returned two years after the critically acclaimed Hand. Cannot. Erase. with the surprising To The Bone, a multi style layered record that focuses on the overall concept of truth or more specifically on the question of â€œwhat is truth?â€? We took some time to chat with Steven to figure out his answer to this question and to understand what were his motivations and inspirations behind what can be considered one of his most intriguing works up to date. 60
Words: Luís Alves // Photos: Lasse Hoile
o the Bone, feels like a big transition from what you’ve been doing so far. It reminds me of the transition of some of the progressive rock artists from the ‘70s made into the ‘80s when they’ve started to explore a more pop and electronic driven sound, but you’re doing this with a modern twist. What was the primary motivation for you to take this leap? I think there are two things really. The first thing is that, if you look at my whole career, there’s always been a need to change and to evolve and to keep things fresh for myself as a writer and as a musician, and I’ve always resisted this idea of being categorized as being someone who makes a particular kind of music. I don’t accept that. I know some people have called me progressive rock, some people early in my career called me space rock or progressive metal and I’ve always resisted all of those things partly because... A lot of the artists that I admire most, either it’s people like David Bowie, Prince, Kate Bush, Frank Zappa or Neil Young... These are musicians that you kind of find very difficult to categorize what they do. They are musicians, they are artists which exist outside of generic classification. I’ve always thought of myself as someone like that, or at least I wanted to be, someone like that. Someone that could make an extreme metal album, that could make an ambient album, I can make a pop record, but part of the problem, I mean... It’s not a problem, but one of the reasons I think that the albums I’ve become most known for are the ones that are most obviously associated with progressive rock. Somehow people call them progressive rock, so this idea that somehow I’m a progressive rock artist has come to life, but there are many albums in my catalog that have nothing to do with that, so anyway, to cut a long story short, I think the first thing is the need to evolve, to do something different, to challenge myself, and certainly the other motivation for this record is that I was once again connecting with a lot of the records I remember from the ‘80s when I was a teenager that I would call musicandriots.com
sophisticated pop records or ambitious pop/rock records. The thing about these albums is that they were albums which were quite accessible, had great pop melodies, great catchy choruses, things that you could enjoy on a purely melodic basis or singing along while you were on the bath or in the gym, but at the same time if you chose to engage with the albums on a deeper level, there was so much more going on, there were great lyrics dealing with quite serious subject matters, there was great production, there was great musicianship, there was an ambition to these records that wasn’t dumbing down at all in order to achieve this kind of accessibility. These records were just as experimental and just as ambitious as any music, but at the same time they also had this pop sensibility which made them more accessible. So… I think of records like Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush, I think of records like The Colour of Spring by Talk Talk, I think of So by Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears… a lot of what Prince was doing throughout the ‘80s would also fall into that category, and I’ve reconnected with a lot of these albums over the last couple of years. It’s good to rediscover some things from your past, but I’ve just thought to myself, these records are so good. There’s no one making records like this, or at least there are not many people making records like these... It’s kind of a lost art... It seems to me a bit of a lost art, yes! That idea of the ambitious, but accessible record. It seems to me that we have a very mainstream pop and we have a lot of very good underground music, but we don’t have a lot that’s in the middle, you know? So I wanted to make a record that in a way was my record in that kind of tradition, without being nostalgic, but something in that tradition. To be perfectly frank, I don’t know whether in 2017 there’s even an audience for this kind of record. That’s not something I would think about when I make the records for myself ultimately, but you know, I think it will be interesting to see whether there’s still an audience interested in those kind of records! I honestly have no idea about that, but to me, as you say, it does seem a bit like a lost art and it was important to me to make this record, for sure. One thing that’s immediately noticeable is that To the Bone feels a bit more minimalistic and not so guitar driven as other records you made in the past. I know that you recorded most of the guitars and other instruments as well, having David Koller record some guitar parts here and there, however Guthrie Govan who’s been collaborating with you in the past records didn’t participate on this one. Do you think his style wasn’t suited to what you were trying to do in this record? Let’s say that I felt that my style was the right style for this record. Part of that of course is, once I’ve made a decision to make an album that focused more on my songwriting rather than the more sort of elaborate and conceptual rock side, perhaps with less emphasis on the musical technique that has been the focus of the last couple of records, I think that once I’ve made that decision, I wanted the record to
sound very natural, very organic. I mean... I’m not the best guitar player in the world, but I think I do have a sound and my sound is quite natural, and of course, being the songwriter, I think I know the best way to play guitar in the best service of the material and in the best service of the songs, so sometimes the problem if you have an extraordinary guitar player like Guthrie or Dave Kilmister, whoever it is, is that basically they come along and their only reason to play on your song is to show what they can do within the solo you’re giving them, but sometimes that isn’t necessarily the best thing for the overall song. As a songwriter, I don’t have that problem. I think I know exactly what I need from the guitar parts, and I kind of enjoyed reconnecting with myself as a guitar player. I have more of a low key natural sound, it’s not showy, it’s not technical, but I think that’s not something that would have suited, and you kind of hinted this in your question, so I don’t think that approach would have suited this material, yes. Talking about other members of your band, there have been a few artists that have been with you throughout the years such as Nick Beggs and Adam Holzman. Do you think that by this point they’ve become an integral part of what makes the sound of your band as well? I think that when it comes to the live shows, very much so! I mean, Nick is hardly on this record, he’s in one song only and Adam really only plays piano on this record. I played bass on most of the album and I think in some respects, this is actually much more of a solo record, because I’ve played most of the bass, I’ve played most of the guitar, I played a lot of keyboards myself and I think again it comes back to the previous question, that in some cases in this album, I just think I knew what was needed and it wasn’t something that was particularly technical, so it was almost easier for me to just play myself, but you know, when it comes to the live sound, those guys will be back and they have become a very integral part of my live performance. They are always very positive, always very encouraging to me and even if Nick is hardly on this record he’s been very encouraging about the direction you know? So, we’ll be having a lot of fun playing live, I’m sure anyway! Let’s talk a little bit about the album’s concept. Although there are various themes, To the Bone seems to focus on the overall concept of the distortion and manipulation of truth according to one self’s point of view. What events or things in particular made you want to tackle this subject in your new record? I think this is an interesting thing because, obviously, in the last two-and-a-half years since my previous album Hand. Cannot. Erase., the world certainly from the perspective of me in the UK and of all of us in Europe, the world has become a completely different place. Two-and-ahalf years now we are post-Brexit, we are in the era of Donald Trump, we are in the era of the refugee camps, we also had the era of fake news being used in a political campaign, with social media being used to distort people’s perceptions in a political campaign for the first time ever that I can
remember. It’s the first time in that obvious way. We’re also in an era when terrorism is completely within our midst and it’s no longer something that’s happening somewhere else, it is happening right here on our doorstep and certainly for us in the UK that’s been clearly illustrated by the events of the last few weeks, so that world is completely different to the world I wrote the last album in and I think it would have been very strange if I hadn’t chosen to engage with those subjects or talk about it. I think a lot of people talk now you know… there’s Depeche Mode, Roger Waters, whoever it is it’s hard to write songs and not, in some respects, not kind of refer to the world we all live in now. Also, I was fascinated primarily by this idea of fake news and the whole nature of truth being a very flexible principle. Of course, I’ve started to ask myself the question... “Is there really any such thing as truth? Isn’t truth actually what we call truth? Isn’t that, when it comes down to it, actually perspective?” We all have our own perspective and we kind of think about perspective as truth because it becomes our truth, but then you only have to look at the world of religion to realize that all the thousands of religions all over the world, all of them believe they have the one absolute truth and of course, that’s impossible. So, the truth actually, a lot of the time is simply perspective, and our perspective is influenced by our upbringing, our race, our politics, our agenda, our religion, all of those things kind of distort our perspective, so basically we all create our own truth and I think I wanted to explore that idea through these different characters on the record. You’ve mentioned artists like Depeche Mode and Roger Waters which have had long careers and whose status enables them to address these subjects without alienating anyone. What’s missing right now is having new artists coming up and not being afraid of tackling these subjects as well, using music again as form of protest, something which has been somewhat lost of lately as well. It’s important to have these kind of records. I think you’re absolutely right, I think that one of the things I really feel is one of the constants of the history of pop music is this idea of protest, and if you go back to musical movements like folk music... Folk music was protest music, hip-hop music came out of anger and protest and punk rock also came out of anger and protest, but I think that you’re absolutely right, that’s something that to me, has completely dissipated over the last twenty, twenty-five years. I think for that reason, particularly mainstream pop music has become very banal, very conservative, it’s all boy-girl, boy-girl, and I wonder now, because we had this bombing recently in Manchester, in the Ariana Grande show, I do wonder now if some of those artists like Ariana Grande - who by the way I’ve never heard of until this happened - is it going to be possible for artists or writers to continue to ignore the reality of what’s going on with the world? Because that’s something that’s come right into their very consciousness, it’s something that’s affecting their fans and it’s affecting them, so I’m curious to see if we’re going to see a little bit more of
“I think we could be on the cusp of a new [revolution]... Let’s see… I hope there’s more protest in music, because music has always thrived on protest and rebellion and anger...” engagement from those pop artists with these problems, because it seems to me almost irresponsible of them to continue to pretend that this is not happening. So, I think we could be on the cusp of a new [revolution]... Let’s see... I hope there’s more protest in music, because music has always thrived on protest and rebellion and anger, and as you kind of pointed out, that’s one of the basic principles of what great pop music and rock music was all about. There’s a spoken word passage in the beginning of the title track “To The Bone” that directly addresses these subjects of truth and truth distortion. Where did this quote came from and who can be heard talking? She’s a good friend of mine, she’s a school teacher in Texas and she’s a black school teacher in Texas. So, she understands something about the nature of truth and reality and prejudice, and it’s a very tough job to be working in a school in Texas and to be a black school teacher in Texas. I just asked her one day and said “Can you talk a little bit about truth? The nature of truth?” and I think with that quote she just summed it up so perfectly, particularly that
idea that one of the problems with a lot of people who have hate in their heart and the people who have a lot of issues with racism and sexism and religious fundamentalism, part of the problem with those people is that when they have arrived at their own truth, which we’ll call perspective, once they have arrived at their own perspective, in the way that they believe the world works, the problem is that their impulse is just to go and kill everyone else or fuck everyone else up who doesn’t share their view. Unfortunately, that’s one of the cancers at the very heart of the human species, that if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to destroy you. That is religious fundamentalism in a nutshell, that’s terrorism in a nutshell. It’s the same with racism, it’s the same with any prejudice, whether it’s homophobia, sexism or whatever it is, that is a cancer and I think that the human race really should have evolved beyond by now, but we haven’t, and I think that’s what that quote kind of sums of perfectly in the beginning of the album. You’ve also have some songs centered around some characters in some cases like “Refuge” where you’re telling a story from an outsider’s perspective, but would
you say that some of the other characters might be autobiographical and based on your own experiences? I think the thing is, whenever you write any song, even when you’re playing a character or playing a role, you always kind of draw from your own experience and your own autobiography to an extent. I mean, the thing is, some of these people on this record are definitely characters. The terrorist is not me, the religious fundamentalist is not me, the refugee is not me, but of course I am drawing from a lot of my own thoughts and experiences to explore those characters. It would be very hard for me to sit down and analyse and tell you exactly what parts of the lyrics are from personal experiences and what parts are pure imagination, because I think it’s a very grey area and everything I’ve written has been a product of my own personal experience, the experiences of my friends and family, every movie I’ve ever seen, every book I’ve ever read, every album I’ve ever listened to, all of the new stories I’ve kind of seen over the years, so it’s all in there. I can’t really say for sure how the process of filtering all that out into a song works, but my whole life is in all of these songs essentially. musicandriots.com
You were talking now about movies that you’ve seen as part of experiences you’ve collected and that helped you in your song writing process. I’m remembering now about the documentary on Joyce Carol Vincent (Dreams of a Life) that inspired you to write your previous record (Hand. Cannot. Erase.). Were there any other movies this time that inspired you to shape some of the ideas in the record? I don’t think so. This time around movies were more kind of in the background. You know, there are movies that I think deal very well with subjects like human beings becoming more disconnected with each other through technology, through social media, those kind of things... I’m fascinated by the idea and I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that technology actually very often creates more divisions and more borders than it does bringing people closer together, even technology which on the surface appears to be bringing people together, actually very often is doing the opposite and I think social media is a great example of that. Social media is actually very antisocial, because it encourages people to basically create the illusion of being connected to other people without actually being connected to other people, and I think all of those topics are always somewhere under the surface of all my songs too, this idea of people being connected but actually being disconnected. Again, that’s another kind of interpretation of the whole idea of truth, you know? What is truth? It’s all perception. That idea that you believe yourself to be part of a community of people but actually you’re incurably isolated. I don’t think there’s any direct film influences on this record, certainly unlike Hand. Cannot. Erase. which as you said, was very much inspired by that documentary. One of the last songs in the record, “Detonation”, feels like a Steven Wilson epic track, not only in length, but also in the diversity it presents on the course of its various motions. What’s were your lyrical and musical inspirations to write this particular track? Well, I mean, lyrically, the idea is of the person who uses religious fundamentalism or a religious cause to essentially justify their own prejudice, their own hatred and their own hate crimes, so this song was written very much in response to... If you read last summer there was an attack in Orlando in a gay club called Pulse and basically there was someone who went into that club and shot about fifty gay people over a period of about two or three hours I think, and basically because at some point at that shooting he cried out “Allahu Akbar”, this kind of religious cry, sort of like a war cry, he was basically classified as a terrorist and a religious martyr by ISIS and a terrorist by the American media. I just thought to myself, “How easy is it now for someone who basically has some form of prejudice or some form of hate in their heart, whether it’s towards gay people or towards another religious group, whoever it is they have a hatred towards, how easy isn’t it now for someone like that to make themselves feel justified in committing an appalling atrocious killing in the name of a religious cause, which in fact they
“I know some people have some people early in my c or progressive metaland those things partly becaus I admire most, either it’s Prince, Kate Bush, Frank ISSUE 23
STEVEN WILSON don’t really have any affiliation to at all?” So, it’s almost like people using religious fundamentalism, using this intifada or whatever it is as a kind of badge for committing some kind of hideous crime. So, I don’t know that guy, I don’t know anything about that guy, but it seemed to me that he had some kind of problem with gay people, otherwise why do you go and target a gay club? You know what I mean? It’s something that has nothing to do with this so called religious cause, so the first line in that song “Great God, I don’t believe in you, but still I will do what you want me to” is that idea that actually people who have no religious belief at all now can almost pay lip service to a religious cause and somehow justify within themselves and to the rest of the world, that they’re doing this for some kind of higher purpose and I think it’s bullshit. Musically, I know what you mean, it starts off as very electronic and at the end of the song it almost becomes like this kind of disco/groove with this pretty amazing guitar solo on top which is David Koller playing, but there are some songs you could ask me about and I could say very clearly “Oh yes, that was influenced by this” and there’s some songs you could ask me about and I have no idea where the musical part came from, but I can say about that song that it is a quite strange piece of music in the way it kind of unfolds and develops. I guess I was just following my intuition in that case. It’s one of the most interesting pieces of the record, at least personally for me. It’s really that kind of long, epic song which is almost like a tradition for you in each record... Yeah! But then again, it’s different! It’s not quite like the epic tracks from the last couple of records which were more traditionally in that kind of conceptual progressive rock style, this is something a bit different again I think. But I can see what you mean about having the whole marks of one of my, shall we say musical-journey-like tracks. Not Journey the band! [laughs] I mean, in the sense it has this kind of idea of developing and almost being like a musical journey within itself, you know?
called me progressive rock, career called me space rock I’ve always resisted all of se... A lot of the artists that people like David Bowie, k Zappa or Neil Young...”
One of the things I’ve always found interesting in your music is that you’re able to merge your classic influences with a more contemporary form of song writing and very few artists are able to do that as well as you do. You’re seen as the flag bearer of the new generation of progressive music, as someone who’s younger than the older generation of prog rockers, but one that’s been able to maintain their spirit of discovery and experimentation alive. How do you feel about that perception? Ok... Firstly, I don’t recognise that as something that is unique to the era you’re talking about, because to me, that spirit of experimentation, very much carried on right through the ages and if you listen to bands like, some of the bands that came out of punk for example like Joy Division, bands like Magazine, like Wire, XTC, in those kind of bands there’s much as just of a sense of ambition and discovery. Other bands like Cocteau Twins, bands like Radiohead and Massive Attack in more recent years, I think there’s always been a you can even call it an art school tradition of being very experimental and ambitious within the tradition of pop and rock music. I think sometimes, the particular people who listen to progressive rock think that it was something that only happened in the ‘70s with progressive rock bands. It’s really not the case. I think the reason I say this is because sometimes what people are picking up on my music is that there’s definitely this spirit, this aspect of my music which is about trying to tell a story across an whole album and that is something which is very much associated with those original conceptual rock bands from the early ‘70s, that idea of taking an album and kind of telling a story across, that’s a very ‘70s thing, but actually there are so many other elements in my sound which came from my teenage years, and as I said, we already talked about it, I grew up listening to the music of ‘80s and I was as immersed in that world as I was in the world of the ‘70s. Similarly, in the ‘90s I was very excited about the possibilities of electronic music with Aphex Twin and Squarepusher and Autechre, all those groups and that’s also in my music. If you listen to the beginning of “Detonation”, for example, the electronic sound, you did asked me about inspiration for that song, that beginning with those electronic sounds, that would be closer to Aphex Twin or Autechre, than it would to the ‘70s music or even ‘80s music. So, I think one of the reasons my sound is like it is, is I don’t analyze it too much. I don’t try too hard to make, and I think this is kind of where we started in the conversation, I don’t try to be a generic artist. I’m not interested in being a prog rock artist, I’m not interested in being a metal artist, I’m not interested in being a pop artist or a dance artist, I’m just interested in making Steven Wilson music, and so... I don’t think too hard about “Oh, I shouldn’t put that together with this”, you know? It’s something very intuitive and very natural to me and I can’t really analyse it too much beyond that.
TO THE BONE IS OUT NOW VIA CAROLINE INTERNATIONAL musicandriots.com
If one thing has ever been predictable about Enter Shikari, itâ€™s been that they will never do what you expect. From their seemingly out-of-the-blue announcement of their fifth full-length The Spark to the content of the album itself, a focused and cohesive record that dwells on hooks and potent melodies rather than frantic genre-hopping and that deals with a world going to the dogs not with anger, but with introspection. A fair guess that fans and critics are going to have something to say about this shift, so we decided to jump the line and chat with bassist Chris Batten to discuss this next phase for Enter Shikari.
he Spark is just about out, the “Rabble Rouser” video dropped - how are things on your end? Things are great. It’s always exciting when you get to release new music; so much goes into it from our end, you’ve awaited people hearing it and now you get to the point where it’s coming out, so you get to hear what people think. It’s brilliant. How long was this in the works? It felt to me like it really snuck up on people. That was the idea, I think. Realistically, we went into the studio in early January so we started writing in the last 3 months of 2016. We went into the studio 2 weeks in January, 2 weeks in February, and finished it off in April as we were in the States in March. It’s been in the pipeline for quite a long time, but we realised that in the past the way that we’ve done it, and lots of acts release music, is you see studio diaries and little bits of information here and there, so by the time the release comes around you stop seeing any excitement because it’s taken so long. This time we wanted to keep as quiet as possible and to come back, announce and put the new single up, and get the excitement from that aspect.
SHIKARI Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Jennifer Mccord
It feels like a different album to previous works in a lot of ways. Lyrically, it’s more personal, but musically there seems to be more focus there. Why the decision to take this album in these two directions? With all the previous albums, when it came to writing them we never really had a clear idea of what we were trying to achieve with the albums. This was the first album where we actually went into the studio with a real idea of the direction we wanted to take and I think that came from feeling more confident in ourselves and our songwriting, where previously we felt like we needed to tick all the boxes. We needed to be the heaviest band at one minute, and have the craziest time signatures, and then at the other end of the spectrum we needed to be the most melodic and passionate, and to write the heaviest, most emotional part of the song. This time, we just felt more focused and so we sat down beforehand and said that we wanted this record to be simplified. We wanted melody to be the driving force of this record, and we want the structures of the songs to be simple – we want them to be less erratic than our normal style of writing. On the lyrics front, I think that’s come from this being the first time that Rou has really felt confident enough to put such personal lyrics out. He has always had personal lyrics before, but they’ve been a lot more metaphorical and this record is a lot more direct. You were touring the anniversary of Take To The Skies recently, which is almost the antithesis of this record. Did rehearsing the material for that tour cement the direction that you had musicandriots.com
planned to take with The Spark? I’ll be honest with you, we wanted to do something for the Take To The Skies 10 year anniversary tour, but when it did come round, it was right in the middle of when we were trying to think forward, to write and record the new record, so at the time it felt like it was a distraction we’d regret; we’d come out of the studio thinking forward and then all of a sudden had to focus backward 10 years, so it was a bit disorientating. But, it actually turned out to be a real blessing in disguise because none of us were really expecting to have that reaction to it and feel the nostalgia that we did, so doing the shows was an amazing experience and we went back into the studio after it feeling completely refreshed, not with a new outlook but... it’s always good to detach yourself a little bit. We came back into the studio feeling more focused and it with a stronger idea of what we wanted the album to sound like. Continuing on that same thread, you said that in the past you’ve always felt the urge to tick all the boxes. Did that mean you had to exercise more self-restraint with this material? Was there ever the temptation to go back into those old habits? I don’t think we felt frustration or anything like that, but we certainly felt some urges. What we would do with Enter Shikari is we’d have too many ideas, almost, and they’d end up clouding the original idea, so really it was refreshing to let the riff or the emotion that we were getting from this verse or chorus be it. Really, it just gave us more freedom to use other idea in different ways, like in other songs. Are there any songs on the album that particularly speak to you, as an individual? Anything you have a stronger connection to? I think the final song on the record, “Jigsaw Pieces,” is potentially one of the most emotional songs we’ve ever written and it’s one that everything seems to come together with. At the demoing stages, we knew the music was very passionate but when the lyrics started to come through... I think it’s something that everyone can relate to. Essentially, it’s about loss and it’s such a wide topic that so many people can relate to, it just felt like something that we could all... I’m trying not to say “relate to” again but it’s really the best phrase. That’s going to be the case for a lot of people. One thing I like with The Spark is that it will surprise a lot of people. You’ve always taken a certain direction with regards to current events, and given that things couldn’t be much worse at the moment, how did you feel holding back from commenting on what’s happening as you would have done in the past? Obviously, there’s so much going on and I know that, at first, Rou in particular felt almost overwhelmed on what to focus on and what not to. I think that’s another reason it’s more personal - the only way you can deal with that is to focus on your personal feelings. It’s always been important to us, because we were very inspired by the likes of Depeche Mode in particular, and stuff like The Human League, because they wrote music that was very upbeat and
positive sounding, but the lyrics had a darker, more real vibe to them, and that was the first time that had really been done. We were very inspired by that because with so much going on in the world it’s hard to take positivity from it. We’ve never been a band to want to focus on the negatives, we’ve always tried to look for the positives, and I think that’s the real inspiration for this record. I saw that you have an acoustic in-store coming up. You’ve done a few little acoustic sets before, but how are you feeling about this one? At the moment, we’re in the rehearsal room and we have a lot to focus on. We have an actual release show in Kingston and then the stripped-back acoustic versions that we need to be doing, and that’s what we’re doing right now. Rou and Rory have been over in Poland the past couple of days doing a two-piece acoustic radio set. There’s a lot to be planning and to be ready for, but it’s getting to the point where it’s starting to feel like it’s all coming together. At first, it feels like there’s too much on our plates, but eventually we pull through.
I think that by the time the album release show comes through, we should have the set polished and on the same day have that acoustic set in HMV. Rou said to us before about how much work it took to get things set up for the live show last time around. Did you make a point of simplifying things in terms of reproducibility for this record? Erm, not really! Half the battle is figuring out how we’re going to do it live because when we go into the studio, we don’t want to be focused on that, we want to be focused on being creative and writing the best songs possible. After we’ve done it, it is a case of going into the rehearsal room and starting programming. We’ve learned so much over the past few years and album. In the early days, the setup was simpler and it kind of got taken out of our hands a little bit because we’d have technical-minded people who’d come in and give us tips, so we kind of lost control on the live aspect of things, but over the last two records, we’ve started getting a lot more heavily involved in that process. From that we’ve learned a lot, especially when it
“...with so much going on in the world it’s hard to take positivity from it. We’ve never been a band to want to focus on the negatives, we’ve always tried to look for the positives, and I think that’s the real inspiration for this record.” ISSUE 23
ENTER SHIKARI comes to preparing for live as we can do it all ourselves, really. That goes as well with the last production tour we did – we took on a lot more of it ourselves, and doing it that way, the final product is always going to be a lot better because we can be creative with it. We’re not restricted by the setup they let us do, so it’s a fun time and something we really enjoy is figuring out what we can do, how we can do it and the samples we can play; what aspects of it can be assigned to which synthesisers and that kind of thing. You’ve always been great for switching things up. What, in your eyes, makes for a great opener and closer for an Enter Shikari album? The first three records, we’ve always felt a need and an urge to write an opening song that bursts out of the speakers and that’s something we’ve always done. It’s always seemed a great way to start a record. I think we felt less pressure with that this time because we were more focused on writing the songs so we didn’t feel we needed to tick that box, really, but we also wanted to enclose the album,
almost bookend it. Rou had written this nice soundscape-y piece which ended up being “The Embers” and “The Spark”. It was a really useful way to start and end, and to round everything off – to enclose it as a piece of art. You had a collaboration earlier this year with Big Narstie. How did that end up coming about? For quite a while now we’d been quite inspired by what’s going on in the grime world, so we had this track that we’d been demoing and we didn’t really know what to do with it or where to take it. It’s the track that’s probably taken the longest to write and to get finished; we’d been working on it for essentially over a year. A lot of it was waiting for the right person to come along and we knew we wanted to get someone in on it, and Big Narstie came around just through friends and people we know in different circles. He came in and absolutely smashed it in one take and the rest is history. It’s telling that you can blend your sound so well with grime, and you’ve always had
that ability. It actually feels like fusion acts are a lot more common nowadays - do you think that there’s been a dissolution of genres in recent years? Have things become less clear-cut? Definitely. I remember when we first got started, we were a lot heavier but even before Take To The Skies, we were writing these songs that had dance elements, that had electronica and we’d be playing shows on bills with actual hardcore bands, and the reaction was either completely love or completely hate. There were times when people actually got very angry because it was like, “What are you doing to this genre that I love? You’re not sticking to the rules here!” That was something we used to get a lot but don’t at all now, so I think there’s a definite indication that there’s more cross-pollination. If you listen to “Rabble Rouser”, though, the message almost seems to be the opposite. Do you think that’s been a reaction to this – that there’s more cookie-cutter bands, not just within pop but also in rock and metal? I think we’ve noticed, especially within the rock scene, that things have started to get a bit stagnant. There’s not a lot of interesting stuff happening in guitar-based music at the moment and I guess that’s what “Rabble Rouser” is about, lyrically. I guess there’s just more interesting stuff happening in other genres, like grime has taken off and even in pop music there’s some quite interesting stuff going on. I think that’s what Rou was getting at. A few years ago, you played Russia when there was a lot of talk about boycotts due to anti-gay laws and the actions of the Russian government. Now you’re seeing criticism of bands like Radiohead choosing to play Israel. What are your thoughts on this and where do you stand on the whole notion of ‘cultural boycotts’? We’ve never wanted to shy away from playing anywhere has always been our ethos. We will gladly play anywhere there’s a demand for us to play and I think that it’s all too easy to be scared off by what you hear in the media - that’s the main issue. There’s a lot of propaganda flying around and you don’t really know what a real news source is, or what you can trust. When we did get over there, it was absolutely fine. There were no issues and people were glad we came, so I think there’s a lot of scare tactics. It’s division, that’s what it is. Keeping people separated and segregated. Laibach said something similar when they played North Korea a few years ago. Would you be up for playing there if the opportunity arose? Obviously, North Korea feels like a completely different world right now, but I don’t know. We haven’t had any offers so I think we’ll have to play that one by ear. I guess we’d have to look at that the same as we would with anywhere else – we don’t want there to be any separation, and certainly music and art is the only real place where there is no segregation. I don’t know, to be honest. We’d have to have a think about that one.
THE SPARK IS OUT NOW VIA PIAS musicandriots.com
Zola Jesus, or Nika Roza Danilova, has been active for more than a decade (even though her debut album, The Spoils, was only released in 2009). Thrillingly enough itâ€™s now that the Wisconsin-raised is reaching what resembles the zenith (you can never be too sure when someone seemingly reaches a new high at every step taken). It was about the new landmark in her career, the Okovi LP, the return to her roots, and many more that we centered our conversation with one of popâ€™s brightest stars. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Timothy Saccenti and Michael Cina
when I made Taiga, when I produced it, when I recorded it, and when I wrote those songs, I was going through something that was very high energy and not so much about being able to perform them with a string quartet. So, hearing them in that context gave them a different meaning and it gave the songs a different life that before I wasn’t expecting.
was reading people’s reactions to the new track, “Exhumed”, and there were some people that seemed to be happy that you were stepping away from the Taiga era. I feel that Taiga was a bit misunderstood and undervalued. How do you feel about it and how do you see people’s reactions to it now that’s been almost three years since it was released? I’m really proud of Taiga and looking back at it, it’s just like anything that I’ve done. I made it for a particular reason, I made it because I wanted to push myself into a direction I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with, which I’m prompted to do and maybe some people weren’t comfortable with that either, but that’s the whole point, to challenge yourself and to challenge the people around you. I’m proud that I did that. So yeah, even it was maybe misunderstood I don’t... I don’t know. I don’t hold it against it anybody. [laughs] Even though you were pushing yourself into uncomfortable directions, I remember seeing you live and feeling that you were very comfortable with that material. Yeah, it’s a part of me. And maybe I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of clarifying everything, but it’s something that you just learn to embrace, and the more you face the difficulty the more it starts to feel comfortable. By the time I came to Porto I was quite comfortable and I felt that any challenges I had to go through, I went through by that point. Last year at the Melbourne Music Week you did sing alongside a string quartet and you’ve performed, from what I understand, for the first time songs from Taiga. I know you were already familiar with the setting (Guggenheim), but Taiga is a rather different record than Versions. How was the experience of performing Taiga songs in a chamber setting? It was really interesting because I think
It was also the first time you showcased your opera background. I know you studied opera for three years again before stepping on that Melbourne stage. How was that reencounter with your past and to finally sing operatic pieces in public? It was very hard emotionally, and I have a lot of remorse about the performance because I was so nervous. The aria was stuck in my throat and I was so scared that I wish I was more relaxed when I did it. But it was a good first step to try to breakthrough all of that anxiety that I have about performing opera publicly and it’s something that I want to continue and again, challenge myself in the future. You’ve made all these records that are different, but also share similarities. Do you think you’re showcasing Zola Jesus’ musical entity more accurately with each record you release? I don’t know because the more music I make the more I realize that I don’t even know what the statement is. [laughs] Because I keep trying all these different things. One record is so embowed, insecurity, and self-doubt, that I can’t even make a statement, I feel. And the next record is so overcompensating and confident that it comes out really strong. So, I feel like every record is a different attempt to push things or push myself. I’m excited to get to the point where I don’t feel like I need to push myself and that I can just make stuff that I feel is a reflection of who I am and not so much a reflection about who I want to be. If I got it right, Taiga is about ambition, confidence, and being powerful in overcoming a certain vulnerability. How would you define Okovi? This new album is so much about... It’s not even what it stands for in that when I wrote it I was going through a lot of sadness, my own and for the people around me, and a lot of emotional struggle that had nothing to do with music or nothing to with myself. It had more to do with just life and you never really get to decide your path in life as much as you want to, and just coming to terms with that, which is very disillusioning. You kind of realize that life is what it is, and there’s nothing so magical about it. For me it felt very sad, a death of maybe one part of myself that I had hope (like I had with Taiga), but also a rebirth in that I feel that without having hope you feel so empowered and liberated because it’s not like you’re waiting for something, or like you want something. When desire dies, I think everything can flourish, and so that’s kind of where this record is... There’s no disappointment. Exactly, yes! [laughs] As a human, it’s very hard to allow yourself to have zero expectations because we always want and know
that we can be better and we can do better. It’s like, “Evolution, you can be a better person.” But realizing that it is what it is... it’s very hard. [laughs] What did you want to convey with the title Okovi? I know it’s a Slavic word for shackles. I liked the word and I like that it isn’t just Russian or a Slavic word, which means that a lot of different languages happens to okovi, and I like that unites a lot of people that maybe some times are at war with each other and that they can all go, “We have the same word and it means shackles. It means chains.” Just think that so many people have this word in common and when you think about what it means, and it means that we all have shackles and we are all chain to something. That’s how I felt making this record. I just kind of felt so grounded and so beholden to the nature of life. It felt like it was fitting. Which is very different from what you had in Taiga. With Taiga you were isolated the album and with Okovi you are shackled to the rest of the world. With Taiga, again that was a very hopeful record. I had a lot of hope about myself, about the world around me, I felt like the world could be more as magical as I’d imagined when I was a child, and I had these big dreams, these very ambitious... Not career ambition but creative ambition and imagination. But at the same time it was like too controlled and here I feel like it’s coming down from that high in a weird way. [laughs] Like when you sober up and you realize that everything is kind of grey. [laughs] With Taiga, “Hunger” was the first song where you were like, “This is the album.” Is there a song on Okovi that represents the album the same way “Hunger” represented Taiga? That’s why I chose “Exhumed” as the first
“I feel like I needed music to communicate to specific people, not just communicate to myself or to the world.”
song people heard. Even though it doesn’t... the album is a lot sadder than “Exhumed”. “Exhumed” is very angry but at the same point I think it encapsulates a lot of what I was going through when making the album. And there’s also an instrumental song [“Half Life”] at the end of the album, which to me is also very indicative of the album because when I wrote it I was going through a very difficult time and it just kind of feels like weightless. Prior to Taiga, you spent every day for a year sitting down at a piano and singing. You would sing for hours and hours. No production, no microphone, nothing. Did you maintain that process this time around? Yeah. I studied opera and I studied singing and I practiced singing almost every day... Just constantly trying to find the core of my voice and refine it. Just figure out what my real voice is and be comfortable with that, which takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Just to feel comfortable with what you have.
“I’m excited to get to the point where I don’t feel like I need to push myself and that I can just make stuff that I feel is a reflection of who I am and not so much a reflection about who I want to be.”
Alex DeGroot (longtime live bandmate), WIFE (producer/musician), Shannon Kennedy (cellist/noise-maker from Pedestrian Deposit), and Ted Byrnes (percussionist) all helped build the textural universe of these new songs. How did that collaboration work and how much it did help shape the entire thing? Or did they just help you fill the gaps? Yeah, like that. I wrote all the songs and when I was ready to kind of make them into something real I asked my longtime friend Alex if he would help me... and I chose Alex because he’s really talented, but also he knows me extremely well, so I feel like we have a good language and I trust him with these songs. Because these songs are very delicate and they are very personal to me. He did a great job. But then I also wanted to have other textures that I couldn’t do on my own. Ted is a percussionist, Shannon is a cellist and a noise musician, and WIFE... I had written this one song “Siphon” and I didn’t feel like it was hitting as hard as I wanted it to with my own production, so I asked WIFE if he could produce it to basically help me create that world, and so we basically collaborated on that. So yeah, I was so much more open to just asking for help rather than feeling that my ego was trying to protect everything. So, I could say I did everything, but at this point I don’t care. I just want the song to be as good as it can and if it meant asking for help then... that’s great.
and “Witness” are almost like open letters to particular people. I feel like I needed music to communicate to specific people, not just communicate to myself or to the world. It’s very clear, the lyrics are very blatant.
Reading your statement about the album I noticed that you were, whilst making the album, surrounded by this heavy social climate in your private life. You talk about having people very close to you trying to die, and others trying desperately not to – perhaps “Siphon” is the most obvious track regarding that subject. Did that reality of life vs. death end up shaping your approach in terms of lyrics? Yeah, I think because there were so many specific instances that happened while I was writing this record, in my personal life, I needed music to help me reach some people and to help me reach the emotions I was having and feeling. Songs like “Siphon”
On “Doma”, which I think is home in Russian, you say “Please take me home / where I can be one / with the same land I’m from”. Can you explain the meaning of those words? Because I was reading the article that you wrote for the University of Chicago Divinity School and there you say you’re an atheist but those words seem to come from the same place of a religious person. Well, it’s actually more literal that maybe you think. I quite literally moved home [Wisconsin], I moved to the land where I grew up and I built a house in the landwhere I grew up. I grew up on a lot of land, and so there’s enough for me to build ahouse on. That song is actually really
special to me too because it does feel like my return... I don’t know, it kind of feels like a theme for my return, in so many ways, whether is my artistic return or my physical return to where I grew up, and just an emotional return. I do think there are different levels to what I am saying, and certainly are when I’m singing it – it felt metaphorical as well. But not so much religion. [laughs] In that University of Chicago Divinity School article you talk about your music being a sort of replacement to religion. Do you agree that this album is a spiritual album? Yeah, I think some of the songs, when I wrote them, I was thinking a lot about transcendence and just kind of this collective communion of people, and not just people, but what’s inside of them. I don’t want to use the word soul but how we are all so deeply connected and I think that is spiritual. I think spirituality is just feeling extremely connected to yourself and to people around you, and to the world. That’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot and definitely went into the music on this record. So yeah, I could see those lines being made. Can you pinpoint the starting point or the catalyst for Okovi? What made you move back to the woods in Wisconsin where you were raised? After Taiga came out, I was touring a lot and I just became very... I fell into a really deep depression and it was worse than anything I had felt for a very long time. I had not felt a depression like that in so long that I almost forgot what it was like. So, I didn’t understand why I was feeling so sad and out of place. I was living across the country at that time and I needed to just come home and I needed to ground myself. It was then that I started to become healthy again, and so I realized that I needed to move back permanently because at the end of the day nothing, to me, really matters... I don’t care where I live. I just want to be happy, and I want to be with my family, and I want to feel peaceful, and I need to be isolated. [laughs] I felt like I could do that where I grew up. I know you love and admire Sia’s work. I’m really curious to know your opinion regarding her last album, This Is Acting, an album she described the songwriting as “play-acting” since it’s a collection of songs that she wrote thinking about other people performing them. I think it’s interesting and cool. I think she’s an incredible songwriter, and the cool thing about Sia is that even when she’s writing for other people every song she writes sounds like her. Maybe she has this excuse like writing for other people allows her to indulge in things she normally wouldn’t. I’ve tried writing for other people and I tried writing for particular projects that were not related to my music and it’s hard sometimes for me to separate myself from it. I think there’s a point that when you have a really defined voice as musician is really hard to sever that completely.
OKOVI IS OUT NOW VIA SACRED BONES
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Peter Beste
There was a time when Washingtonâ€™s Wolves In The Throne Room were vicious upstarts, threatening not only to usurp USBMâ€™s then-kings but moreover to completely reshape what could be thought of as black metal. Since then, their sublime infusion of Cascadian brutality and natural beauty has spawned five albums and countless imitators who have never quite been able to grasp what made Wolves so special. Now on album six, the grandiose Thrice Woven, they have upped the ante once again with five songs of rage, loss and splendour. We spoke to drummer and co-founder Aaron Weaver to find out how this strange beast ticks.
iven the scope and complexity of it, I think a good thing would be to go through the album and discuss the composition and analysis of the themes. Absolutely, that’s a great way to do it. Well, the album starts out with “Born From The Serpent’s Eyes.” It’s a strong start and Anna (Von Hausswolf)’s voice works incredibly well here with your sound. The thing that I go to first with that song is the lyrics. It paints a picture. It begins to tell the story of what the album is. That’s the important part for me, that image of a beautiful ocean and a ship upon that beautiful ocean dropping a hook deep, deep down into the water and trying to snag this huge serpent that lies beneath the depths. That’s what this album is about, that’s what that ocean is, the ocean is ourselves, it’s myself, going deep into myself and pulling forth my deepest truth and deepest feelings and putting it into the music. How do you feel the themes are reflected in the composition itself? Is it largely down to the darkness and the density? To me, this composition has a triumphant feel. Even though we’re plunging into the depths and the darkness, there’s this feeling of courage and readiness for the fight. No fear in it. That’s what I hear in the composition and Anna’s voice complements that so perfectly. Her strength has so much strength, beauty and courage; it’s so wonderful to have her voice on that song and it brings the whole album into focus. Was it a struggle to find someone that could bring that sense of strength and power that the song required? No, it was extremely simple. We made the connection via our producer, Randall Dunn. We’ve always depended on Randall to bring other voices onto our records. It was through him that we made the connection with Jessica Kenney, who sings on Two Hunters and Celestial Lineage, but Anna doesn’t sing like that. She brings this other voice, the voice of the Goddess, the voice of the moon. We always like to bring that energy to our records. You are drawing on many strains of folklore, and of mythology and history on this record. How strong is your connection to this folklore? It feels like my religion, like the stories that are deepest in my heart. It’s just stories we heard as kids, the stories that we draw lyrics and images from on this record, it’s all kinds of stories from Europe and from all over the world, really. It’s our dreams, the way our minds take these stories and images and Gods and Goddesses and lineages and legends that we all live with in this modern world and it’s our dreams that synthesise it and make it into something that we can communicate to other people, and we do it with music. Moving on to “The Old Ones Are With Us” with Steve Von Till (Neurosis). How was the experience of recording that and how does this song continue the narrative? Working with Steve was such a fucking honour. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had doing music. The best part for me was getting to talk to Steve and tell him how much, in person, how much Neurosis means to me personally. I saw Neurosis when I was 17 in the local punk venue in Washington, where I grew up, on the Through Silver In Blood tour, and that show just fucking changed my life. It blew my mind wide open to a spiritual, a vision, an energy – a lineage. In many ways, that’s the path that Wolves In The Throne Room has been on; doing the thing that Neurosis has done, which is finding their pure voice. There’s no other band that sounds like Neurosis and I can come out and say, there’s no other band that sounds like Wolves In The Throne Room. musicandriots.com
I know that Steve quite often draws from his own Celtic lineage and I hear that that was something that you were looking to explore here. Were you able to play off of his own knowledge and experience? Yeah, I think so. That song, for me, really brings up my grandmother. I think about my Irish grandmother whose parents emigrated to the Midwest – potato famine stuff, I don’t have the full story – but on this record I really felt her story. This song feels like it contains some of the strongest folk influences that you’ve ever shown – folk, in a traditional sense, that is. Did you draw upon Irish or North American folk music in this work or is it a genre you particularly pay attention to? I don’t think so. Folk music is something that’s always there. It’s always in the air. I’ve always lived with folk musicians, either living right next to me or in my house, and that music is just in me a little bit. It’s not something I listen to or seek out. That feeling that folk music is something innate – is that an aspect that you see in Wolves In The Throne Room; the essence of something natural? Yeah, I think so. We’re not trying to be anything, we’re not trying to do anything. We’re just trying to make the music that we want to make, and that’s kind of what folk music is. It’s the music that just happens, the music that comes up out of the land or out of peoples’ experiences. It’s music you make with your friends, too; that’s another part of Wolves In The Throne Room. We come out of a scene and a community, and there are a lot of other artists and musicians that we share the spirit with. You have expanded your family with this record, bringing Cody in as an additional guitarist and permanent member. Does it feel like much of a change for you? It feels so good. I’ll say on one hand, it doesn’t feel like a change because Cody has been playing guitar with Wolves for about seven years but at the same time, it feels different to have him fully in the band, fully welcomed into the clan. The energy feels different; it was two people, now it’s three. It’s a totally different thing and it feels so good. Is there a possibility to expand more or was it just that it felt natural with him given the time that you had been playing together for? We would never seek out a fourth band member. This feels like it. Moving on to “Angrboda”, which revolves around Angrboda and Fenris. How are they been brought into this narrative? That song is a really personal one for me. It’s a mourning song. I lost some friends during the recording of Thrice Woven and that song, for me, is a way of honouring their spirits. How difficult was it for you to put something like that out into the open? The way I approach it is through the drums, and so when I’m playing the music, emotion is flowing through me. Feeling is flowing through me and sometimes it’s really hard, sometimes it’s very sad or lonely, but I just keep playing the drums. I keep going and so
what you hear is just the process. The one thing you share with Neurosis is an incredible sense of spirituality, especially in your live performances. How much of that is ritual to you and how important is the ritual aspect to being able to properly convey the music? We’ve never thought about our live shows as rituals, mainly because I don’t like to draw a line between ritual and the rest of my life. Whatever we do at a Wolves In the Throne Room show to bring a magical space, to be really clear about what spirit we’re speaking for, I do that in regular life too. There’s just no difference. So the band is just an extension of your own personality and everyday expression? Completely. You worked with Denis Forkas Kostromitin for the art for this record. As far as I’m concerned, he’s in another world, one of the most incredible artists working today. What was it like working with him? It was amazing! He’s a magician and baffling and, absolutely like you say, he is in his own world in terms of the quality of his work and the magic and mystery of his process. It was such a pleasure and an honour and I am so glad he was able to create that painting. It means so much to me. Do you see any connection between his and your own methods of composition – his magical, subconscious method of summoning his work? I don’t know, I’ve never seen him work but I have a suspicion that we share similarities but who can say? Every musician’s process is his own. What is your process of composition like? How much is subconscious and how much is just you guys sitting down together and hashing it out? That’s just band process stuff. Every band writes their stuff differently. We the way we usually do it is I bring riffs to the table and Nathan brings riffs to the table, and we make songs out of those riffs. Once the song is composed, then I play the drums and then the vocals go on, but that’s going to change in the future because now Cody is in the mix so we’ll see what the new process is for writing our next record when the time comes. Moving on again to “Mother Owl, Father Ocean”, it’s such an interesting development for you guys. How did this come about? A very interesting journey, I’ll tell you. I think this song was our first real collaboration with Cody. He put on some guitar riffs on this record and he was there during all of the mixing and most of the tracking, so his voice is absolutely on the record, but I think “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” is our first real collaboration. All the soundscapes stuff, all the industrial soundscapes, that was all stuff that me and Cody created in our studio in Olympia. We’re both big fans of Coil so there was an opportunity to bring that spirit to the record. That song started as this crushing doom thing, like Skepticism or Corrupted, and then just through the process, it became what it became. I love that sort of thing; to start with one piece
of material and then open up to the magic of the process and then see what comes out the other side. The song that you hear is what comes out. Do you think that you could have moved in that direction without having Cody to take the journey with you? I just can’t answer questions like that. Who can say? It would be a different reality. The music that makes it onto the record is a pure expression of this one moment and if you change one element, it comes out different and that happened in a different reality. It’s nothing I know about. So how does it feel recreating these moments live? Is there a sense that you are changing to fit a live environment or are you trying to recreate that moment as accurately as possible? For the most part, we do our best to represent the recorded song live on stage. Sometimes the recorded songs will change a little bit over time as we play them and dig into them on stage but they’re the same songs. We want them to conjure the same sort of spirit. How would you describe the spirit of this album, especially comparing it to something like Celestite, which you had just come off the back of? They seem like such different animals. Absolutely - I think animal is just exactly the right word. This album feels like a wolf, just tearing the throat out of something. I don’t know why, but that’s what it feels like to me. Do you think it’s perhaps something primal about it? Yeah, primal is a good word. Something that’s old. Are you attracted to that kind of thing? Something with time and history, and that kind of life, behind it? I think so. My whole life, I’ve always loved mythology. Watching on PBS but the teacher Joseph Campbell, The Power Of Myth – which is a wonderful book – but there was a PBS documentary on him which I watched at just the right age and that sparked a lifelong love of mythology and old stories, and then you get older and realise that those are just your dreams. The myths and stories, the old ones, are just the same things that happen in your dreams. Is there any one strain of mythology or myth that particularly captures you and has always stuck with you? The ocean – that’s the one that always comes up for me. Maybe going back to that image in “Born From The Serpent’s Eye”, that ocean – that’s where my dreams take place and that’s where the myths come from too. It’s that giant ocean that’s within ourselves. Hearing that makes me think of Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea”, where there’s a combative nature to the sea. It’s neither hostile nor welcoming, it just is. Is that your assessment? You know, I don’t feel that way. We’re talking about two different things – there’s the ocean and then there’s the salt water that we know. We live right on the Salish
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
“We’re not trying to be anything, we’re not trying to do anything. We’re just trying to make the music that we want to make, and that’s kind of what folk music is. It’s the music that just happens, the music that comes up out of the land or out of peoples’ experiences.” Sea which is the southernmost tip of the saltwater that comes from the Pacific Ocean, but the water here feels different. This water welcomes us. It’s water that you can swim in and catch salmon in, it’s that saltwater; that’s our home, and that’s where Thrice Woven comes from. So, “Fires Roar In The Palace Of The Moon” – how does this tie everything up? That song for me conjures the image of a volcano and the biggest one around here is Mount Rainier, whic is the mountain that dominates the Cascade Mountains, which are the mountains to our east. The Olympic Mountains are to the west, and we’re between the two ranges. Mount Rainier is the dominant volcano in the Cascade Range and it’s where our water comes from. It’s the snow that falls on Rainier in the wintertime that feeds our streams and rivers in the spring and summertime and I just want to give honour to that mountain. Give honour to that water and try to do it in a respectful way. It’s well documented that you do have this incredibly strong connection to the land around you there. With that in mind, do you feel lost or out of your element when you’re touring or can you recapture that connection to the land
no matter where you are? Every time I meet someone who loves where they live, I immediately feel at home.
fully invest in Wolves In The Throne Room and we have the energy left over for other projects.
Are there other places that have a similar spirit? I’m thinking of countries like Romania when I listen to your music. It’s just the energy of a deep, deep forest. We live on the edge of an old, deep forest and there’s not many places in the world that have deep forests like this anymore. It is unique and it’s very special; it’s where the music comes from. It comes out of the cedar trees. We’re so blessed to live in a place where we can hear what those trees are saying and make music about it.
Are there any other directions you’d like to expand in or do you feel that everything you want to say can be grouped in with either of these projects? Well, I’m a music producer too and I record other artists so that’s kind of an outlet for me too. For the most part, those two projects can contain almost all of what I do. I think Nathan is the only one who doesn’t have a side project but he runs a music venue in Olympia so he’s very busy with that.
Complete departure but you recently had your performance with Drow Elixir at Roadburn. What’s happening with that at the moment? Chaos. Drow Elixir is the Coil side of Wolves In The Throne Room so there’s no fucking rules, there’s no objective, there’s no criteria or judgements – it’s just what’s happening in the moment.
Has the business side of things gotten easier for you? We’ve always been a DIY band and have done things for ourselves, so we understand how it works. We understand how to record a record and get it into peoples’ hands. It’s cool to be able to do that on our own and not rely on anyone else, though we did get a lot of good help. We work with really good people, like Lauren in the UK, and there’s people like her who help us get our music out there.
Is that at odds with what you do with Wolves? That you had to give them both a separate voice? No, it’s just an expansion. We just have the capacity to do it. We have the capacity to
THRICE WOVEN IS OUT NOW VIA ARTEMISIA RECORDS musicandriots.com
ALGIER Words: Tiago Moreira // Photos: Joe Dilworth
Algiers, the Atlanta-based power trio turned into a four-piece (Matt Tong on drums), is back. Follow-up an incendiary record like their self-titled debut could be a frightening challenge for most, but in these dark times they show up more ready and energetic than ever. We talked Franklin James Fisher and Ryan Mahan about the impressive mix of punk/blues/hip hop/ noise/industrial/gospel, cynicism, the US of A, and their fantastic new album The Underside of Power.
yan, I was looking your facebook page, checking if there was something that could help me with my interview and... it’s funny. I found out that you shared an article, a couple of months ago, that actually talks about something we talked about in our first conversation – if you remember we talked about how the so-called former colonies are in fact, to this day, still exploited by its colonizers. I’m talking about The Guardian article about the research made that concludes that “There’s such a powerful narrative in western societies that Africa is poor and that it needs our help. This research shows that what African countries really need is for the rest of the world to stop systematically looting them. While the form of colonial plunder may have changed over time, its basic nature remains unchanged.” It’s funny because a very recent research actually allows us to pick our conversation basically were we left off two years ago. Ryan Mahan: Yeah, it’s really interesting how that works because obviously... There’s a lot of research done on neo-colonialism and the fact colonialism never disappeared and it’s just taken on different forms and manifestations. That’s definitely the case. I work in charities, in the UK, and I have a
problematic relationship with certain elements of charity sector, particularly the development sector, because they have this narrative, as you say, that Africa is poor and it is almost a self-fulfilling thing where people then seem to think that they have some sort of expert knowledge over people who live in countries in Africa and therefore they, young white kids, can go there and help them develop business without recognizing that fact that the reason that poverty exists is the completely economical unbalance, oppression, injustice, exploitation, and extractive policies of all the countries in Europe, including Portugal. Yeah, it’s definitely an interesting topic that we try to keep alive. Obviously that’s part of why we chose the name Algiers, to reflect this entire history that’s supposed to be in the past, but is still in the present and it will exist in the future unless we do something about it. Talking about white kids trying to help the people in Africa. I remember researching about it when I was 18 and I was impressed knowing that, in Portugal, in order to go on a mission you need to go through a religious organization. I thought there was a kind of perversion to it, to be honest. Franklin James Fisher: I will say though, coming from one of the few exceptions in the world, I believe, where you don’t necessarily always have that kind of perversity embedded within a specific religious community. Within the Black church in America, it’s always been community organizing in a place for sanctuary, a place where you can actually go to be human without necessarily being lectured to or somebody trying to dictate you what to believe, and how do live your life. It’s not always like that but mostly... yeah, it usually is. Well, I would say that from what I saw there’s a big difference between the Black church in the US and the church in Europe. Here that sense of community, for the most part, doesn’t seem to exist. Franklin: Yeah, it’s complicated because generally, I would say more than 90% of the time the church is just used as another ideological apparatus of power and exploitation. It’s a sad state of affairs but... definitely in Europe, as we’ve seen for centuries, that’s what the case is. Ryan: And it’s always attained with colonial power as well. Religion is an institution that’s always worked with economic power and has always worked with political power. It’s part of the whole exploitation process, which is very complex and not necessarily immediately recognizable. But yeah, religion generally tends to be an organized oppressive force and it’s really a shame that’s kind of how it’s organized in a lot of places around the world, because there are so many people... You can’t question a lot of people’s genuine desire to do something different, to intervene in situations. It’s just that institutions make it so problematic to do so. And you become cynical, even if you don’t want to. That’s also a problem. When you start noticing all these flaws and problems, you can start becoming suspicions of everything and everyone to a point where you know it’s a bit fucked
up to be always suspicious, but you can’t avoid it anyway. Ryan: It’s true, and that’s one of our messages, that cynicism is extremely important and to be suspicious is very important. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to recognize obscure systems of power. But at the same time, we’ve been through complete dejection and disappointment for so long in our lives that the only way we can actually feel empowered, not only personally but also collectively, is to also challenge nihilism. The other side of the coin of pure cynicism supports the status quo just as much. Disaffection supports the status quo. I would love to know your thoughts on the current state of affairs in the US. Personally, I feel it’s more important to reflect on the people who allowed Trump to be president, rather than Trump himself. I don’t know if you feel the same way... Ryan: We feel really similarly. Obviously we have a deep critique of the Republican Party because ever since it became a conservative party after FDR [Franklin D. Roosevelt] it has essentially in its belly been a crypto-fascist party. It’s dressed itself up in the politics of relative decency and the myth of the American dream, but at the heart of it, and what Trump represents for the Republican Party, is its underbelly. Its nasty, repugnant, self-consciouness that’s been brought to life. He’s like the Frankenstein that they have been working on their entire history as a right-wing conservative party. But, of course, by the same token if you look at the Democrats... There was a really interesting article that I was reading today, just laying it out and basically saying that politics is actually about contestation and conflict. The people in power bring division to people who are not in power, they divide you, and therefore it is essentially a conflictual state of affairs. The Democratic Party, Barack Obama included, thinks somehow that you’re able to compromise with oppressors. There was this whole thing, even among liberal circles outside of the Democratic Party, where people were discussing if it was ok or not to punch a Nazi. Of course it’s fucking ok to punch a fucking Nazi. You punch them in the face and you make sure they are not a Nazi anymore. How did we defeat Nazism? It was defeated through violence. I’m not advocating violence, but I’m also just recognizing, like [Frantz] Fanon did, that power is violence, power is politics, politics is power, and therefore you can’t have some sort of mediocre compromising situation. What that does is that allows people like Trump to get into power. White people in this country are so self-congratulatory about somehow being progressive and enabling Barack Obama to get in power. They take a lot of credit for that, but at the same time didn’t take Trump seriously as if somehow they didn’t recognize the history of American society, that somebody like Trump could actually be in power or that someone like Trump has been in power before. The complete denial of a lot of liberals in not taking him seriously and turning him to some sort of, what they perceived as some constant joke actually legitimized him rather than what they should have been doing, carrying on a musicandriots.com
systematic attack on the entire structure. They allowed someone like Clinton to run. Franklin: The problem has always been not allowing somebody who will actually change the system or represent some sort of oppositional party ethos into the dialogue or into the discourse. They did the same with natives for fuckin’ years. Bernie Sanders isn’t anything new. And there was actually – I forget this guy’s name – this guy that came out of FDR’s administration, he’s like one of the only true socialist candidates that’s ever existed in this country, and the Democrat party were about to nominate him, but his campaign was poisoned during the convention and that’s where Harry Truman was elected – during that convention and he eventually went off to win the presidency and you saw the great things that he did in the world. Trump, like Ryan said, his victory I think is just kind of the extended logical conclusion of years of a bankrupt American electoral system. The democrats need to dig themselves for enabling that, because they still don’t quite understand that they are the ones that really precipitated that demise of themselves. What did you want to convey with the title of the album? Franklin: It’s just basically talking about the fluidity of power and that nothing is absolute, especially power. And realizing that no matter how bad things get there’s always a slight chance to change things and even if that change doesn’t result in some sort of victorious utopian ideal, knowing that the people who are on top will eventually fall. You said you were a pessimist... we are not necessarily pessimists but that’s out version of optimism. With the song “The Underside of Power” it’s really just a survey of everything we represent and everything we have talked about to this point as a band. It was a very natural thing how that song came into being, both in terms of how Ryan and Lee [Tesche, guitarist] worked the music and how I came with the lyrics on top of it. It’s almost like a calling card for who we are and what we’re about. It’s just a slightly different texture, a slightly different emotion than “Blood” for example [song off the band’s self-titled debut album], which was also a calling card for the band, we feel, in terms of what we represent and who we are. You start the record with a speech from Chicago Black Panther, Fred Hampton. I’m always curious about the influences, especially, like in your case, if they come from other walks of life. How did Fred Hampton’s work and words enter your life, how did they influence you, what does this speech means to you, and how relevant you think it is now? Ryan: One of things that we express is that we are a band from different backgrounds and there’s a perverse notion in popular consciousness that the Black Panthers only represented a particularity. For us they represented the exact opposite. They represented universality, they represented ideas of emancipation... yes, they focused on blackness and black emancipation, but they were also representing universality and freedom for all people around the world
who were in situations of oppression. That’s working people, that’s people from places like Mozambique to stretch out to Sri Lanka, all over the world. For us one of the bigger lessons that the Black Panthers and Fred Hampton brought into the light... particularly was this idea that universality and collectivity, which is almost like this old European idea who had been reclaimed by people who were oppressed. As a band from different backgrounds that’s really important to convey. It’s a complex message to convey, but it’s also very important. At the base of it, it’s a socialist message. It’s a message of looking after each o ther. It’s a notion of collectivity over individuality. It’s all those things and also militancy. I think to start the record with
that... Fred Hampton is an inspiration. Somebody starring in the face of death, knew that they were going to be killed at some point in their life by the FBI for actually being a human being and expressing humanity way more... and teaching America about humanity. That’s what he did. He taught America about humanity. He was killed for it, because he wanted something different. Just like Malcolm X wanted something different, just like Angela Davis has wanted something different. That’s kind of a common thing we share and we try to express. We’re not saying that we are revolutionaries, but we are saying that’s important for us to recognize what’s come before us and feel empowered in some senses of the term. That’s an empowering
INTERVIEW // ME AND THAT ALGIERS MAN
“You can’t have a different future unless you try to start thinking about it, or at least imagining that there’s got to be something other than this. In a lot of times in history that’s been a really dangerous position to take. Malcolm took that and he was killed by people within in his own organization.” speech. I wrote a letter to his son asking for clearance for the sample and just outlining why we felt his father and him were important to us. Most people would be surprised because we’re southern. Hamptons are from Chicago and they were dealing with very different political circumstances, very different historical social conditions. Lee, Frank, and I, we are from the suburbs in Atlanta. It’s a very different environment, but it’s that power of imagination and that power of connecting struggles that really draws us together.
Ryan: Totally! I think you kind of hit the nail on the head there. It pulls from two very different traditions. It pulls from gospel, there’s a lot of Old Testament references in there, but that’s referential to people who were singing gospel music in the face of slavery, who were singing gospel music in the face of death. Personally, some of my thoughts about it were about a revolutionary who is facing certain death and still believes, deeply, that things can be different. That’s a very melancholy feeling but also quite a powerful thing.
Is it fair to describe “Cry of the Martyrs” as a refusal to give up on hope even if there seems not to exist light ahead of us?
You’ve mentioned that Albert Camus’ novel The Plague was a major influence on this record. I did not have the opportunity to read it, but can you please pinpoint its
influence on The Underside of Power? Ryan: It’s about people finding themselves in very dark times, figuring out a way despite the fact that the world is ending. To find some sort of meaning in that existence through colectivity or even through some sort human expression. There’s a Bertolt Brecht that’s very powerful, that says, “In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.” That’s something that’s expressive of our music and expressive of The Plague as well that it represents that type of... as you’ve said about yourself, being pessimist. Seeing the world as it is. Seeing the world as ugly and dark, but also trying to, and often failing, find meaning in that. I think that’s very powerful and a lot of what musicandriots.com
“We’ve been through complete dejection and disappointment for so long in our lives that the only way we can actually feel empowered, not only personally but also collectively, is to also challenge nihilism. The other side of the coin of pure cynicism supports the status quo just as much. Disaffection supports the status quo.” we are trying to communicate with our music. That can be a powerfully political message and it can also be a personal message. It can be a message about being together in these dark times, and that’s what happens in The Plague. It’s an interesting book, it’s an interesting novel... Cammus’ politics are also complex and not always where we would lay either. In terms of the novel and the author that’s a different conversation, but the book itself is really powerful and expressive of the modern world. Could you talk about the song “The Underside of Power”? For what I understand, it is an unplanned collaboration between you and Lee, like you were channelling the same energy without even talking about it. Ryan: This is correct. We were actually doing the exact same key and BPM. My song kind of won out, I won the battle of the songs. [laughs] His song is fuckin’ killer though. I wish somebody could hear that entire demo because it’s got all kinds of totally different shit going on. Basically Frank had the genius stroke to take his bridge and put it on to my verses and choruses, and it made it something really special. He obviously conquered it with that amazing vocal performance. The first time I heard it I actually shed a tear. I was so amazed by what came out. Actually that song is the poppiest song we’ve ever written, but it’s a weird song if you really dig into it. There’s some many weird artefacts of shit of me singing in my fuckin’ front room in London that made into the mix. There’s so many artefacts in that song that are really interesting. There’s a drum machine that we used called a Bentley... the way that Randall [Dunn] mixed it, it’s so high in the mix that if you listen on certain stereos is the dominant thing in the entire song, which is rad.
Your political and social’s commentaries never seem to be rooted exclusively on what’s happening, I would even argue that you’re more interested in finding similarities between different times in history whilst trying to make sense of it all. Like you’re more interested in finding out the causes of the disease to try avoid it in the future rather than just talking about the disease’s existence, if you know what I mean... Ryan: Yeah, I actually feel that you should just write what you’ve just said in the article because that’s really sick. I mean, that’s a very powerful way to construct it and I fully agree that that it’s what we are at least trying to do in a lot of ways. That’s a different type of analyses. There are times and places for bands and musicians to be like that. Public Enemy was actually trying to actively be what they called “The Black CNN”, which is nothing great to aspire to be CNN, but you know what I mean. They aspired bringing the news to the black community. Maybe we just don’t take the same approach and that’s a consequence of us being interested in history, and us being interested how history reflects the past, but also being interested in notions of the future, and at least trying to bring back to the discussion. I know this all sounds academic but it’s not. Just the idea of imagination and what a different future could possibly be like. You can’t have a different future unless you try to start thinking about it, or at least imagining that there’s got to be something other than this. In a lot of times in history that’s been a really dangerous position to take. Malcolm took that and he was killed by people within in his own organization. Even though I feel that way about your music, I need to know if current events like Brexit and Trump’s presidency influenced directly your observations. Franklin: The record was already recorded
before Trump was elected president. Brexit had some direct influences though. Well, the vote went through after we were in the studio for four days, maybe three days. It permeated everything. Every conversation that we had a dinner with [producers] Adrian [Utley] and Ali [Chant] was really about what was going to happen. Everyone was really afraid for their children, and the world as they knew it. That sense of fear... [pause] being an American, for me anyway subjectively, or just being in a society where something that cataclysm happened was a privilege to me to witness because it gives you a glimpse to the way through which right-wing bullshit really impacts people’s lives. In the similar sense that I was in France, in 2007’s elections when Nicolas Sarkozy won and his party came in and liberalized and destroyed so many things and so many people’s lives in France. Being an American and being able to be in a foreign country and watch how different political systems can also ruin the lives of other people in different ways... that was interesting and that is what resonated with me, being there. Trump is just the latest incarnation of that in the US, but it’s nothing new. Ryan, I found out that you work in fighting child exploitation and trafficking. I thought it was funny because your work is a kind of a parallel with this album in the sense that asks you to don’t give up on hope even if the future seems extremely and irremediably bleak. I don’t know if you would agree with that. Ryan: I think my work does play a roll, or I think our philosophy plays a role in what I do and why I do that work. It’s part of the process. To be honest with you, before I started doing any type of work in activism or involved in social justice and education or mental health access or working with refugees, I was also very cynical about it because, to go back to the beginning of our conversation, that type of work is institutionalized and it’s hard to make adifference. Non-governmental work is often times used to replace the role of government and the responsibility of government and it’s also a challenge to remove politics because often times some of these questions are questions of politics rather than questions of charity. There’s definitely a sense that I work with young people who have dealt with really horrendous situations and who’ve actually come through it, and have lived and struggled through things remarkably on an individual level. Obviously from my perspective... my only job is to make sure I’m working tireless alongside them. I think Frank, some of his lyrics reflect that in some way, right? Franklin: Totally. A lot of The Underside Of Power was written through just stories Ryan told us about people that he’s worked with, and things that he’s seen. It was just trying to document in a very plane picture kind of certain things people undergo without taking too much creative freedom. It’s got to be some of the most psychological taxing work I’ve ever heard. I don’t understand how he does it, let alone does that in conjecture with touring.
THE UNDERSIDE OF POWER IS OUT NOW VIA MATADOR RECORDS
EMA Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Alicia Gordon
Artists like EMA - a.k.a. Erika M Anderson - are definitely needed in our lives more than ever. With her brand new effort, Exile In The Outer Ring, she cut with the shit and goes straight to the point. From the brutality of late capitalism to the collapsing boundaries between private and public, Erika goes deeply personal and points out what's really happening right now. We talked with Erika about all the concerns and issues in our society nowadays and how that fueled her new incredible and essential album.
our new album, Exile In The Outer Ring, is a powerful effort fuelled by the current fucked-up times in USA and all the things in between. When did you start to put together and work on the ideas and subjects for this album? It started kind of coming together about two and half years ago. I had some of the songs and few ideas, but I wrote some more when I was doing these museum multimedia performances that I started to do in 2015. I was playing solo and doing these long form of pieces at museums that had like a virtual reality component, so the whole sense of place and kind of putting it together really started around that. 2016’s US Presidential election with Donald Trump winning was a shock and quite overwhelming for everyone around the world, and still is. It was clearly a subject that you were inspired by for this new album. How’s it been for you looking back to that moment and looking to the current status of USA? Oh, it’s so fucked up... I do feel like I can be pretty good at being intuitive and sensitive about what’s going on. Things come up when I’m writing the lyrics, but this took me by surprise, just the fact that I wasn’t really expecting that, you know? I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. It does seem like we’re gonna need to read all, a lot of things including the way that politics happen at all in the USA. Obviously a lot of things are really fucked up and broken and I’m hoping that maybe this is the wake up call that everyone needs. I don’t know if we’re gonna have to work through all the dysfunction and really cut out what obviously is not working and what is against our best interests. But I can’t tell... Everytime you think you’re kind of evolving and things are looking better... All the stuff online like there’s fake news in the USA and people can’t even get facts and they have to choose what to believe. You realize also that everything else evolves as well, like people are evolving on different circles of rights, issues and technology getting better and everything and then you realize that everything can be weaponized, you know? Everything can be turned against other people as well. If you make a weapon, it’s not always gonna start out on the hands of the people with the best intentions. What did you want to convey with the album’s title, Exile In The Outer Ring? A friend and I kind of coined that term “outer ring” and it’s not like a phrase that people use. I think in Europe people probably have a better understanding of it because they’re kind of on ring roads, you know? The beautiful America’s suburbs were like Óscars and musicandriots.com
the America dream where they’re now more empowerish, but also more diverse which I think it could be really cool if that’s where the future at. As an artist too, I’m constantly moving to cheaper and cheaper places as well and so I know that artists sort of have a role of in junction. There’s a unique and staggering energy on this record, despite being so emotionally heavy. How was it like for you the writing process for it? Through the work that I make, it always has a place as far as what it’s going on in the world, but it’s also personal. I take a lot of things that I’m going through or have gone through in a real way. I think that I’m just kind of able to write about it and make it to other people relate to it or I put it in a context of what’s going on either socially or politically, and they are my stories. I think the one thing that I’m realizing that I’m good at and that I’m interested in is what people call world building, just making your own little certain place, time, feeling, energy and I feel like that’s really important to me to make a really specific little world, I guess. Which artists or records were you into while working on these new songs? There are certain things that sonically I like, but a lot of it was books and articles actually. I read a lot during it like journalism around the world and a lot of stuff in the USA, and so that’s kind of where I get inspired a lot. And then I have my own sound in my head and I always had new ideas. I was just drawing on my own interests and my own history. Sonically, that’s where I’m getting stuff and then I’ll write some things or give a like a homage to different songs and different ideas. People find them like it’s easter eggs [laughs] and I’m not trying to hide it very much. The first single to be unveiled off the new album was “Aryan Nation”, and you mentioned that it was partially inspired by people you’ve known in the past and also the British film This Is England. Can you elaborate more on that? This is one of the oldest songs on the record. It’s strange because it fits perfectly with Trump in a lot of ways [laughs] especially the line about casino, but that line is probably ten years old. I think there are things going on, especially in America, that it’s like this radicalization of young white youth and you see it as people as these kind of lies and racists. That was definitely something that I was just kind of intuitive with what was going on, but a lot of people when I told them that I wanted to put out that song and showing the name, for a lot of time people were like “Dude, what are you doing? Do not fuck with that.” People were just like “What do you mean by this?” To me it was like this is really happening and it almost didn’t make it to the record actually, because some people we’re just like “Hum, I don’t know... Are you sure you wanna do that?” and then once Trump happened, I was like “This is real, do you believe me now?” [laughs] What I really feel is there’s been a huge vacuum in talking about some certain issues, especially like this whole thing you see in society like poverty, prison, drugs, lack of
"I had to make that decision like 'Do I want to go through things that make more money and are a little bit better for my career or do I want to make things that only I can make and that wouldn't exist and I wanted to exist if I don't make them?'" economic opportunities and nationalism... It’s like if we aren’t talking about any of these things, especially with racism that is so complicated in America and of course all over the world, but if you as a polite left-leaning liberal person that don’t talk about it and don’t listen to other people from all kind of sorts, then you’re gonna create a vacuum and the people who come to fill that vacuum are a lot of times exploitive bad crab pots, you know? They’re like insane and they put really misleading and terrible information out there. So, I rather be the one who talks about it and be like “This is a real thing and you don’t have to be that way”, just like “It’s wrong and this is why” and stuff like that. Have you seen American Honey already? It also deals with working-class alienation but in America, a really striking film. Yeah, I did! I really liked that movie and the spot where the American Honey woman the one who’s running the magazine - she’s supposed to be from South Dakota and so that spot where she takes the main character and feeds the kids that’s the state that I’m from. I thought that was funny. You’ve recently shared a new video for the song “Down & Out”, which was directed by Alicia Rose and featuring Portland artist Taj Bourgeois and yourself. Tell us more about the concept behind this outstanding video and song. I really like Taj’s work and he’s a Portland artist that I’ve been following. He’s just like a dude that makes a lot of work, he’s not like a fancy guy. It was pretty easy for me to “Hey, wanna come do this thing?” He’s a working artist and he’s not rich. He was like “Yeah, cool! For sure!” He just perfectly embodies it, which is the kind of broken but work with what you got, and then also to kind of inhabit these things that are humorous but still full of despair
and frustration which I thought it worked well. So, I asked him if he wanted to do it and I said we were gonna be in my living room and I keep coming back in some ways to this place that’s kind of basically my living room but stands for any kind of generic American lower middle-class type of space, which has the fucked-up carpeting and a coach, it’s very typical. i figured I would finally do the fake singing and playing guitar like you’re supposed to do that every once in a while for a video. [laughs] I don’t necessarily really like that, I kind of like of doing but it’s always weird to see yourself on that. We just had one day to do it and then at the end I was just really tired and I was like “I’m just gonna lay down.” I laid down on the coach and Taj just did this really spontaneous performance and everyone in the room was totally silent and shocked, because he went up there and he didn’t tell me what he was going to do and I don’t think he had that planned, but I didn’t know that the skateboard was going to fly right into my face. [laughs] He’s just brilliant. Your new album was co-produced with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra. How was it like to work with him? It was chill. He was drawn by my vision like respectful of it. I’m opened to certain things but I’m also pretty fixed to what I want and to my vision. It was fun and cool and he’s very respectful. It took us a long time because we just literally sat down and talked a lot. [laughs] Just kind of hung out and that’s important, because there’s a lot of a specific energy and vibe and it’s like if you don’t get those correct, the songs won’t quite work. Overall, this new effort is deeply personal and straight forward, showcasing you at your most confident and sharp approach to date. How do you see this album at this point of your career? I think this is me kind of doubling down on what I like to do and making a choice in a way, because this was definitely one where different people were like “Do you want to work with a different producer? Do you want to make a poppier record?” and to be perfectly honest I don’t know if making these sort of records is gonna support me financially compared to maybe doing something else. This came down to a choice of “What do I care about?” and to me is so much more interesting and engaging to make these things that I feel like only I can make, like the song “33 Nihilistic and Female”, but that’s a decision to make that and not a poppier song, because certain people are gonna be like “No fucking way, this chick is crazy!”, but certain people are gonna be like “Wow! I needed this” and so I had to make that decision like “Do I want to go through things that make more money and are a little bit better for my career or do I want to make things that only I can make and that wouldn’t exist and I wanted to exist if I don’t make them?” We’ll see how many more EMA records are gonna be... I feel good about the record I made, I’m really proud of it.
EXILE IN THE OUTER RING IS OUT NOW VIA CITY SLANG
For many, Burn were one of those bands that everyone knew of but no-one really knew. After releasing a self-titled EP in 1990, they toured little and released less, setting a trend that continued for much of their history. Last year saw the end of a lengthy hiatus with their fourth EP, From The Ashes and now, 2017 is bringing us unworthy punters a full-length in the shape of the staggering Do Or Die. We celebrated by roping vocalist Chaka Malik to talk about losing yourself on stage, punk health food stores and the ‘sink or swim’ approach to songwriting. Words: Dave Bowes
ow did it feel moving on to writing a full-length? You’d always worked with EPs so was it much of a struggle to bring together everything for an album? It depends on who you ask. In one sense, we got the record done within the allotted timeframe, in another sense, I didn’t have
lyrics for a lot of the music until the night before or even the day of recording. Apart from “Last Great Sea”, “New Morality” and the chorus of “Do Or Die”, all the rest was written up there in a week at tops, most of it the same day or the day before I recorded it. It was all fresh. Have you always worked in that way? Never. What prompted us this time was on those songs, before they were recorded, it was hard to make out what was happening, to be honest. We’d just come off of doing that EP and then we had this whole body of songs. I was trying to find a thread and it’s hard to do that sometimes when you only have rehearsal tapes. It might be out of tune because it’s hot, so next thing you know you’re still trying to figure out what
the overall vibe is and put together a tape of this thing with vocals. When I started to get the instrumentals back was when I was able to start to hear it in a space to myself and get some lyrics in. I don’t know if I’d do it again but in a weird way, maybe I probably should. Look at all these biopics, look at these rappers who were actually prolific – they write these songs in the studio constantly. Very few of them have a fuck-ton written – they just go in the studio and record shit. I think it’s great to be able to just think, “We’re going to record”, call people up and make it happen. That’s a whole different thing. It’s not me sitting on a park bench but being in a state of “Right now, you’ve just been thrown overboard and if you don’t get to shore, you’re going to die.” That’s a different kind of
mindset. It’s the same movement, you’re going through the same motion but it’s the approach. “I only have time to get this right. There is no room to get it wrong, because you just can’t.” Talking about picking up the vibe from the other guys, how would you describe the vibe of Do Or Die? I have to go back and listen to it. I want to see it with the package before I listen to it. Well what were your first impressions when you heard what the rest of the guys were coming out with? Just really trying to find it and listening. That’s really all I can say. I felt a little lost, to be honest. musicandriots.com
Was that a curious experience for you? It was good. It’s not that it was complicated, it’s just that I’d been working on my own. When you’re doing music by yourself sometimes, it can sound a bit samey. Even though you wrote the bass line and the guitar part, the drums and the vocals, it sounds like the same voice is steering it. It’s not like The Rolling Stones with Keith and Mick, or The Beatles with John and Paul, where there’s one voice and another that’s helpful in terms of adding additional context for both the artist and the listener. I felt like I needed more context when I first heard this stuff in rehearsals and the context came when I was able to hear it with layered guitars on it, so I could hear more of what Gavin (Van Vlack, guitar)’s intentions were, and from there it was just rock and roll. From a personal standpoint, did you feel you were heading in a different direction lyrically with the new material? I don’t know if it’s different. Over the course of the four EPs... it doesn’t feel different to me, you know? It’s one of those self-awareness things that I just don’t know. It’s like if you said, “Oh, it looks like you’ve grown.” Well, I guess I have! You don’t see yourself so you don’t really know. I would hope that the lyrics would have a relationship to where I am in my life and be a valid tie-in to the music and the medium and the folks that enjoy that kind of music. I have a day-job and in that day-job I communicate with folks in a way that meets with them, as opposed to what my engagement with them is supposed to look like. When I’m hanging with friends, that’s its own thing, when I’m doing Burn, that’s its own thing, when I’m doing other music, that’s its own thing; it’s a matter of what works for what we’re doing. How do we have that connection? I think as someone with more wisdom – hopefully – maybe there’s more humility in my voice now. I feel like that’s a big deal. Has that been due to your musical experiences or just down to life itself? Oh, it’s definitely life because I stopped making music for about five years. Nothing. I was also celibate for three years, but it was nice - new perspective. It made me feel a little younger, a little bit more grateful. Right now, I don’t eat much during the day. I usually eat bananas and stuff, maybe some more fruit or flax seed oil, usually something light, and when I decide to eat a meal, at about 9 o’clock, whatever I make is delicious. And I’m a good cook! I can make two pieces of salmon and some pak choi, or just vegetables, and I feel satisfied. When I was a kid – I was starting Burn when I was 18 – and I was getting to that point where I could afford my own food. When you’re living in your parents’ house, they’re buying the food. You have a job and you start buying the snacks you like, all the stuff your parents don’t want to buy for you, and now you’re like, “Fuck, I work in a health food store! I should eat my fucking ass off.” Me, Mark Ryan from Supertouch, John Joseph from Cro-Mags was always around there, Norman Brannon from Texas Is The Reason, Alan Cage From Quicksand, and Burn obviously – all of us worked there. We were all working there and not having a lot of resources, and being like, “Fuck yes, dude. We work in a health food store.” We got a good discount and samples, all that
wonderful stuff, and it was a great learning experience. You get old and fat, you know, because you’ve tasted all the cakes. That’s why people have a bucket list. “Before I die, I want to jump off a fucking 90-foot cliff.” That’s what it comes to because we’re eating our faces off, we’re fucking our faces off, we’re talking our faces off, and there’s no sense of balance. There’s no sensitivity in the sensuality, there’s no emotion in the fucking. There’s no thank you. When I say thank you, I mean... how would you describe it? Perhaps a sense of acknowledgement. Exactly! Of how amazing it is, and of how amazing we are as people and the time we spend together. Even I have friends now who say, “It’s so great you showed.” Sometimes I forget but that should mean something. I don’t want to hate on Kanye but that whole ‘feelings matter, bro’ is real. I have love and respect for people. The NYHC was known for its sense of fraternity. Was it actually like that and is it still? Yeah, and I think there’s always pockets of it that will sprout out and always seeking more folks for the connection. You start playing chess and there’s a couple of nerds in school doing the chess club. They’re doing the club – are you down to fucking learn something, and to take it seriously? There’s always going to be people within the scene that are extending the network, putting on shows, sometimes losing money and sometimes making money. Great! Making friends – awesome, right? It’s up to us that didn’t create the fanzine, or the band or the shirt, to see if there’s something else we can do to support. It’s always there, just waiting to have more life breathed into it. It’s a good point, that there should be support between bands and promoters at all levels. Right. Unless you’re operating within a real scene framework, where there’s venues available where you’re not losing your shirt if you don’t get as many folks as you wanted, those opportunities are not within reach. It’s gentrification. A lot of the spots that used to have shows are no longer abandoned halls, those are now condos. A lot of the physical infrastructure is gone now. Let’s take downtown. I went to one or two squat shows but those buildings are now either homesteaded or the residents were bought out for a fuck ton of money. It’s up to us now when someone says they’re going to do the show in Queens or the Bronx, we should see if we can attend and support. If people realise that maybe there are certain venues that are better then maybe promoters have to do what they can do to make those venues more available. And bands, too! The punk scene was never easy. It always required people to put things together and pool resources and invest a lot of energy, where other scenes you didn’t have to do that. There was more momentum. Despite coming from a punk and DIY background, the band’s music seems to stem from everywhere. What were your earliest musical memories? I grew up with my parents’ record collection and that was thousands of records – jazz, rock like Jimi, The Doors, Jethro Tull,
“The punk scene was and pool resource ha Jefferson Airplane. I used to love listening to records and opening up the jacket, looking at the label and the artwork, and reading liner notes! Take in it all. I’d be in another world – while everyone else was watching television, I’d have my dad’s expensive headphones on and listening to an LP. My favourite was Jimi Hendrix, definitely. Was there an effort to bring those influences to the fore with Burn or to try to meld them into something different? Not necessarily at all. The one thing I wanted with this record was, especially what I asked of myself with the vocals, was I was looking for something that I would enjoy singing and playing live. How I move around on stage is a reflection of the music I was brought up on, so I would say in that sense you’re probably correct. I wanted to be able to move around more, and I move in a way that makes better sense with the music. I was listening to a lot of freestyle rap, so that’s what I was focused on recently. Live you were, and are, known for your
s never easy. It always required people to put things together es and invest a lot of energy, where other scenes you didn’t ave to do that. There was more momentum.” physicality. Has age diminished that any? It’s interesting. I think I might be a better performer and have more energy now, in many ways. The Orange 9mm period had music that had more bounce to it by design and that meant me bouncing more on stage. That’s where I like to be. I like to move around, I like to move laterally on stage, jumping up and down and grooving. I like to be really pushing the physicality of the music with my body motions. For me, not being able to do that would be difficult. Now, having taken some time off, I’m more magnetised towards it. There’s more energy pulling me towards it. Do you feel the crowd trying to match that sense of energy? At times, yes. With the new stuff, I think people are caught between listening and wanting to move around, and just trying to take in what the fuck is happening. Do you struggle with that as well? Feeling lost on stage and trying to take in everything that’s going on around you? If I’m aware on myself on stage, that
probably means I’m having a bad show. I generally will not be present for the show. I have a sense of it. When we were at practice, I hadn’t seen those guys in about two months and there had been a few changes to things, like slowing things down. So what might have been dadadadada would be da.. daa..daa...daaaa....daaaaa. Just for me being in the moment and listening to them, my singing was perfectly in time with them without me knowing they were going to be doing any of this shit. Just because I could feel the change coming, so when I’m performing I’m monitoring my vitals but that’s it. There are things I’ve done on stage that I couldn’t think out rationally, where I could do things with my balance and with my body’s momentum that I couldn’t really match. So what role does music play for you? Is it spiritual, is it life-giving... It’s all those things. The spiritual world is in contact with the physical – I don’t know if it’s subservient to or the numbers are subservient to it – but it’s all fucking numbers. Music is all numbers and resonance, so that means that the whole thing is music
anyway. It just ends up being how to utilise music and vibrations. If my girlfriend massages my shoulders at a certain speed and a certain pressure, the vibrations start and the knot comes out of my shoulder. I could ask my girlfriend to do it, I could ask a masseuse or a friend, or I could ask a song, or a hot bath or an herb. Those things all create a resonance. I feel better after I work out and that’s because my body is actually working right and the systems are working in concert with one another. When you work out, everything has to focus and work together and it creates that hum, that resonance or song that makes everyone feel better. It puts breath in your lungs and light in your eyes, it makes you more patient, it makes you a better everything. It’s all one thing, and that is music. Conversation is music, dancing is music – dancing is music as well! I had forgotten how powerful music was to get that theoretical know out of my shoulder and how powerful and useful playing music was.
DO OR DIE IS OUT NOW VIA DEATHWISH INC. musicandriots.com
REVIEWS REVI ALBUMS REVIEW:
- ALL PIGS MUST DIE - AMENRA - ANTI-FLAG - BIG|BRAVE - BRAND NEW - BULLY - CHELSEA WOLFE - CIRCUIT DES YEUX - CITIZEN - CONVERGE - ENTER SHIKARI - GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR - HANNE HUKKELBERG - HOT WATER MUSIC - MARILYIN MANSON - METZ - MOVEMENTS - PROTOMARTYR - QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - QUICKSAND - SLEIGH BELLS - ST. VINCENT - STEVEN WILSON - THE MOVIELIFE - WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM - ZOLA JESUS & MANY MORE... 94
FILM REVIEWS: - IT - MOTHER! - HOUNDS OF LOVE - THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE - UNA - THE BIG SICK - BABY DRIVER - THE BAD BATCH - A GHOST STORY - WIND RIVER
LIVE REVIEWS: - TOUCHÉ AMORÉ + CODE ORANGE - HIM - BE PROG! MY FRIEND - NOS PRIMAVERA SOUND - MINUS THE BEAR - KATATONIA - MELT-BANANA - REVERENCE FESTIVAL
IEWS REVIEWS musicandriots.com
REVIEWS THE SOUNDTRACK FOR THESE DARK DAYS
A GIANT DOG Toy Merge (2017)
Toy, the fourth studio album by Austin quintet A Giant Dog, masterfully blends pop influences with the youthful intensity of 90’s punk, creating a powerful record full of energy and attitude. The songs usually feature loud guitars, male/female vocals (the performance by lead singer Sabrina Ellis, by the way, is mesmerizing) and an amazing mix of noise and melody. The songwriting displays maturity, both from a musical and a lyrical standpoint. “Survive”, for example, is a fantastic power ballad that allows Sabrina to vent her frustrations and fears, revealing highly personal feelings and offering a beautiful yet haunting journey. Toy may not be a game-changing album, but it doesn’t need to be; it’s a passionate work by a confident band at the top of their game, and that’s enough. JORGE ALVES
ALL PIGS MUST DIE Hostage Animal Southern Lord (2017)
Arguably the most important thing to take from listening All Pigs Must Die’s latest studio album is that their constant displays of aggression and the unyielding heaviness are not the most import details, even though it gives it an amazing and undeniable flavour since we’re talking about this crust punk/hardcore all-star band (members of The Hope Conspiracy, Converge, Bloodhorse and Trap Them’s Brian Izzi). It’s their songwriting and the gripping way they find a sort of freshness with the many approaches used throughout the whole thing. This 35-minute album acts like a smilodon, and like any respectful apex predator the movement and direction is made with great intent and a certain grace. Their sonic vision and execution on Hostage Animal can hardly be praised enough. TIAGO MOREIRA
AMY O Elastic
Amy O is a singer-songwriter from Bloomington, Indiana. She is still somewhat unknown despite a series of lo-fi records released independently, but her new album Elastic is so amazing it ought to make her a household name in the indie community. The material manages to be loud and powerful while retaining a very strong sense of melody. Her sound, reminiscent of female-fronted bands like Sleater- Kinney or The Breeders, has the ability to take you back to the 90’s while still sounding fresh, and there’s never a dull moment: each song is catchy and memorable. Amy’s sweet voice is also extremely pleasant to listen to and the instrumentals are simple, but well-crafted. A truly wonderful album and one of this year’s highlights. JORGE ALVES
ALGIERS The Underside Of Power Matador (2017)
AMENRA Mass VI
he fact you can talk for hours about Algiers ignoring the fact that they are sonically one of the most adventurous, exciting, and challenging bands around is a testament to their importance and vitality. Their self-titled debut album was very clear in that regard, but on their second album, the Atlanta-formed gospel/folk/industrial/punk/soul/experimental quartet seems to have found new ways to reinforce the strength of their messages, both sonically and lyrically. In a time where the political and social landscape in the US has Trump as the leading and dominating subject matter, Algiers make an effort to broaden the scope to whoever is listening by enabling a sort of understanding that these dark times are a persistent symptom in our history – nothing new. But The Underside of Power isn’t completely cynical or pessimist as one of its main influences can attest – Albert Camus’ novel The Plague, which “It’s about people finding themselves in very dark times”. For all the unpleasant subject matters and fucked up/dark sounds, there’s a counterbalance made up with beautifully crafted melodies and chants, and a huge and reassuring scream that says (and feels): THERE’S HOPE! TIAGO MOREIRA
Neurot Recordings (2017)
menra’s Masses have always leaned more towards the apocalyptic side of the spectrum, not entirely pitch-black but definitely dimly-lit, yet their sixth installment glows with the light of rebirth. Part of this comes down to Colin H. van Eeckhout, whose screams haven’t gotten any less scathing, but whose softer moments display a tenderness that is matched by the exquisite control of momentum and tempo they exhibit on the likes of “Plus Pres de Toi”, sliding so easily between fury and solemnity. Elsewhere, “A Solitary Reign” pairs intricate melodies and sparse bass work in a way that will leave Tool fans wondering what they’ve been missing out on for the past decade, and the ascendant rage of “Diaken” may see it come to be one of Amenra’s signature works. Though their influences may shine through a little stronger than on previous works, this is a sublime album from a band in command of their sound, continuing to strive, refine and perfect. DAVE BOWES
FILE UNDER: Neurosis, Tool, Swans
AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR The Endless Shimmering
ANNIE HART Impossible Accomplice
Northern Irish post-rock innovators And So I Watch You From Afar are aiming for big things with their fifth full-length album, The Endless Shimmering. The chilling instrumental songs are back, they flow and crest and climax, then build themselves back up again and again, captivating the listener into their own circus of layers, frenetic rhythms, catchiness and very own state of mind. The Endless Shimmering has the power “to become people’s soundtrack to whatever they need in their life at this moment”, wisely said by guitarist Jonathan Adger and we couldn’t agree more. ASIWYFA are true performers and in all their sound complexity, their music easily speaks to us, and sometimes that’s the key element to really make a difference. FAUSTO CASAIS
Annie Hart is best known as one-third of Au Revoir Simone, but now that the band is currently on hiatus, Annie has taken a shot on solo territory. Apparently, she has been writing pop songs on classic synthesizers and engineering the record on her own in the basement of her Brooklyn home. The result is the modest but glaring first full-length, Impossible Accomplice. Not going too far from Au Revoir Simone synth pop approach, Annie’s workship is exciting with the perfect melodies to match the feelings conveyed in the songs. The evocative vocal and the melancholic and dreamy tunes play easily well throughout the whole album. It’s a pretty special and lovely effort for sure. ANDREIA ALVES
Sargent House (2017)
Instant Records (2017)
REVIEWS HOT NEW BAND!
BLIS. No One Loves You Sargent House (2017)
eep breath. A whirlwind inside of my head as I scatter my brain to find the right words to capture your attention with so few words. Because that ends up being the mission you end up signing up to when listening to something as undeniably brilliant as Blis.’s debut album, No One Loves You. Centred on frontman Aaron Gossett’s parenthood, his “tumultuous relationship” with his son’s mother, and with a bunch of religious themes surrounding it, the record truly sounds like a project that took decades of development. No, it doesn’t sound too clinical or robotic... au contraire, it’s highly emotional, even appropriately reckless with its manifestations. It is the level of congruity, understanding, and solidarity, in a world that thrives not only with the highly emotional catharsis, but also with a sonic richness that can’t possibly be overstated. No One Loves You is more than a post-hardcore/rock/whatever-you-want-to-label-it record, and that’s the reason for its genius. It’s an honest expression of four individuals that seem extremely keen in approaching life above all things. Absolutely dazzling.
RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE
ANTI-FLAG American Fall
Spinefarm Records (2017)
here’s a lot to take in with American Fall, Anti-Flag’s tenth full-length proves that the Pittsburgh punks haven’t lost not even a bit of their bite or bark. In a time where there is rise of stupidity and ignorance in world politics, from Brexit to the migrant’s crisis, from climatic changes to a bum like Trump, it’s not hard to see that history keeps repeating itself over and over again. “Sooner or later, the people of this country are going to find out the government doesn’t give a fuck about them. Government doesn’t care about you. All they are interested in, is keeping and expanding their own power.” – George Carlin. If we look closely, this a complete world disorder, just look at the rise of the far right, terrorism, worldwide racial tensions and the way minorities keep being marginalized. These are very divisive and dark times, where politics act like irresponsible criminals and it seems that no one gives a fuck. We’re on a verge of generational backlash and unfortunately it seems that so called baby boomers should somehow be responsible for that. Their ignorance towards politics, global economy, free movement, free trade, free love and technology is shameful, it’s the overwhelming truth and we should raise our voices to show our discontent. American Fall inspires change, encourages us to fight for our rights and to make a stand. Co-produced by the band and Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden, American Fall is a blistering punk-rock affair, still changing and constantly evolving the classic punk’s conventions to fit their underpinning political motivations. They keep taking risks and pushing the envelope, their songwriting is over the top, melodically driven and their message is an empowering stand against oppression, inequality and civil rights. FAUSTO CASAIS
Sargent House (2017)
If their decision to name the first single off their 20th album after the title of their first wasn’t enough of a giveaway, let us be blunt – there’s some old-school BORIS going on right here. Subsonic tectonics from Wata and Takeshi, a measured but utterly devastating kit-rattling from Atsuo and enough of a dreamlike ambience to remind listeners of just how far this band have come, it’s the perfect way to celebrate being at the forefront of heaviness for 25 years. It’s hard to call Dear an ambitious album as much of what’s on offer has been heard, in part, before and yet it’s undoubtedly a courageous move, unafraid to layer softly whispered passages and granite-hewn riffing or throw a deliciously poppy vocal effort on top of sparsely-populated guitarscapes. It’s everything they’ve ever done yet it sounds like none of it, and considering how long they’ve been playing this game with unwary fans, that’s mighty impressive. DAVE BOWES
HEAVY-ROCK + COMPLEX-AVANT/POP
Southern Lord (2017)
ontreal three-piece BIG|BRAVE are more than they appear. You would be tempted to recognize what they have been doing as mere heavy rock, but additional explorations on their work reveals something rather more complex and deserving of our most capable attention. Ardor – that counts with special guests Jessica Moss (playing the violin) and Thierry Amar (playing the contrabass) – is at the core a fairly impressive exercise of dynamics from a band that not only has mastered the usage of a certain dichotomy (soft vs. loud) but, perhaps most importantly, has masterfully applied the notion of space into their music. Their sound, that is more often than not morphing and adding interesting layers and turns or even the marvellous vocal performance of vocalist Robin Wattie that gracefully walks in a tight-rope between weird folk and avant-pop, is just the tip of the iceberg because on all three tracks we’re invited to step into a world that is filled with freedom and open to interpretations – the listener is granted a sort role making a magnificent experience. TIAGO MOREIRA
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE Hug of Thunder Arts & Crafts (2017)
Seven years later, the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene return with the album Hug of Thunder. The more numerous the group (up to 19 elements), the more difficult it is to establish a communication line to develop a job (which was precisely the case). Getting back together was a constant delay, but again, a winning and rewarding album emerges, showing friendship in musical formula. Throughout the album, we feel the maturity in production, the carefully aesthetic in serving a message of hope in a condemned world (love will always remain). Here, they still serve the rock wafer for narcissistic redemption (hello 2017). We don’t know if it will be well accepted, but we welcome this (desirable) communitarian communion from Canada. RUI CORREIA
STILL PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES
BRAND NEW Science Fiction
Procrastinate! Music Traitors (2017)
t came like a cannon ball shot precisely at the most prominent star. It created a buzz online, causing a craze, a red alert. This was all kick-started by critically acclaimed and enigmatic band Brand New. They sent 500 copies of their new record Science Fiction to fans who pre-ordered it, sending them into a fit of delight. This mysterious act of goodness prompted many to turn to their mobile devices and computers to show appreciation. And Brand New are a band that have created some stellar music over the years, and have solidified themselves as frontrunners in a scene massively bloated. Their music always resonates, it’s always haunting, dramatic, and purposeful. It drags you in, offering you a chance to shake off burdens and life problems for a while. Hardships always nip at the skin, but they can be put on the side-lines for a few moments. The new record is haunting, there are voices throughout, some muffled and some clear. They add clarity and suspense. And you’re wondering what is going occur next, will more voices appear to enlighten you with their message? It is original and inventive, but we expect that from a seasoned band like Brand New. We expect the music to be super-charged and lyrically cohesive too. Words are important. Brand New base their music on words. They are lyrical masters, offering the listener poetry to ponder over, offering them a chance to lose themselves. And this doesn’t happen consistently, as there’s many bands out there which aren’t sufficient in creating magic through words. But, Brand New are an act boundless in what they create lyrically. Science Fiction is a colossal record, propelling the band to new heights. It has been nurtured, created to provoke a response from fans. It goes through stages, there’s a storyline ingrained, it’s punchy and raw. There’s also a grittiness paved throughout the album, strips of darkness colliding with the light. Leading man Jesse Lacey sings with purpose throughout this magnum opus. He sneers too, pushing his voice, using it as tool to connect to the masses. His song-writing ability is sublime, he weaves words and places them to shock. The structure, the instrumentals properly engineered. The guitars shake the ground, they’re played with authority. Science Fiction is a masterful contribution from Brand New. It’s an album truly rooted in wonder. Songs such as “Could Never Be Heaven” and “Out Of Mana” play on the mind. They have both been constructed as songs to evoke, to bend the rules. Also, tracks like “No Control” and “Batter Up” provide arresting vocals and brilliant wordplay. These songs offer up a connection for the listeners, a chance for them to see inside the word of this mysterious, but emphatic act. And Brand New are fearless. They have created something disturbing, but that’s okay, they’ve bridged the gap and have pushed the boundaries. MARK MCCONVILLE
BAD BRAINS FUGAZI UNSANE
BURN Do or Die
Deathwish Inc. (2017)
9/10 GRAY-SKIES INDIE-ROCK
hile not being a particularly prolific band, Burn’s global praise makes them one of the most respected acts to come out of the New York Hardcore Scene. But the band’s whereabouts place no stamp on their foreheads. Listening to this band for the first time in 2017 (sorry, that’s true), one can’t help but thinking about some of most ambitious acts coming out of a punk rock adolescence. Engineered by the most relevant producer of metal influenced hardcore records of the moment, Converge’s Kurt Ballou, Burn’s fifth record will easily appeal to fans of not only the likes of Bad Brains, Fugazi and Suicidal Tendencies, but also bands such as Unsane and the Jesus Lizard. Groovy and energetic guitars lead the parade here, along with a certain sense of motivation amongst the punk rock vitriolic angst in the words of Chaka Malik. Punk Rock can be an escape, it can also be protest, this time it even seems come with a sort of existential edge, but no one ever said it couldn’t be a friendly celebration of life. Burn did well. RICARDO ALMEIDA
CITIZEN As You Please
Run For Cover (2017)
ot saying that As You Please is a complete departure from Everybody Is Going To Heaven, but it’s for sure the perfect manifestation of their sound evolution, especially in terms of songwriting. It’s really impressive the way they take the best elements of Everybody Is Going To Heaven and cynically push their own dynamics forward, effortlessly shifting from devastating to confrontational, beautiful but still devastating. As You Please is more expansive and ambitious, their ability to constantly reinvent themselves is outstanding, always bringing new levels of intensity and some refinement to the band’s back catalogue. Even if you get the impression that they’re more slow and mellow, they still create a kaleidoscope of sound, with the sum of the parts making some kind of indie manifesto as rough around the edges as it is freaking diverse. The idea of progression and change might be hard to take for some fans, but you should already know that these dudes don’t stick to a sound for too long, but with As You Please it seems FAUSTO CASAIS that they’ve achieved the perfect balance.
CAVALERA CONSPIRACY Psychosis Napalm Records (2017)
For better or worse, Sepultura were one of the most innovative and surprising metal bands of the late 80’s and 90’s, brothers Igor and Max Cavalera were and still are a key and influential part of what today’s heavy music stands for. Igor and Max return with Psychosis, Cavalera Conspiracy’s fourth installment and for sure their most strong, diverse and crushing album ever; the riffs are sick and ultra-fast, full of the good old 80’s thrash and death metal. It’s an irresistible headbanging affair with that Nail Bomb industrial touch. Featuring top notch guest appearances including Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick, Cold Cave’s Dominick Fernow and Eternal Champion’s Jason Tarpey, it’s fair to say that Psychosis is a masterful album, undeniably fresh, strangely weird and full of contemporary methods of sonic brutalization. FAUSTO CASAIS
If Celeste could ever have been criticised for anything, it’d maybe be being too intense. Infidèle(s) isn’t entirely a remedy, but its assault is far more measured, each of its tracks offering a sense of momentum, drama and, more importantly, some breathing space. Each track offers its own identity – the thuggish, bloody-knuckled “Sombre Sont Tes Déboires”, the scything savagery of “Sotte, Sans Devenir” – while allowing them to contribute to the album’s sweeping scope as well. Johan Girardeau holds nothing back, each seething howl more affecting than the last, and there are few drummers around who can maintain the surgical brutality of Antoine Royer, but in terms of content, Infidèle(s) sounds like a band working from a subtly different but drastically more ambitious space. DAVE BOWES
CHASTITY BELT I Used to Spend So Much Time... Hardly Art (2017)
There is a very specific brand of melancholia that goes hand in hand with being young, a sense of ennui that has been covered time and time again in music, but rarely well-articulated. Enter Chastity Belt like a group of cool older siblings with their own take on it, entitled I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. The Washington band’s third album finds them in an introspective mood, churning out thirteen songs that are as sincere as they are beautiful, hitting right at home. With smoother arrangements and lighter riffs, Chastity Belt shed the humor that saturated their earlier work to finally come into themselves with this tender, relatable exploration of growing up. ANTIGONI PITTA
DARK FOLK MEETS AMERICAN GOTHIC
CHELSEA WOLFE Hiss Spun
Sargent House (2017)
10/10 INSTANT CLASSIC
helsea Wolfe has bridged the gaps between the folk, industrial and doom metal that have tinged her music since The Grime and the Glow. In a category of her own making that constantly straddles the worlds of acoustic guitars and distortion, she has managed to craft an album that reflects her influences, her past and her audience. The gut-wrenchingly downtuned guitars of Ben Chisholm and Queens of the Stone Age’s Troy Van Leeuwen on “Spun” immediately set the tone for Hiss Spun in its entirety: a blend of Wolfe’s pristine vocals, suffocating bass and an overall feeling more abysmal than Abyss. Moving from the veritable darkness of the opener to “16 Psyche,” which is, if possible, a doom-pop song, Wolfe asserts her dedication to the weight that exists throughout the album. On the lighter, more uptempo “Vex,” SUMAC’s Aaron Turner lends his thunderous roar to contrast the airy quality of Wolfe’s voice. Past the atmospheric, instrumental interlude of “Strain,” the first moment of serenity seems to appear on “The Culling.” Quickly, though, the song becomes a powerful love song that stings and numbs the heart.
“SWEET DEAD EYES, I LONG TO HEAR YOU AGAIN, SWEET DEAD EYES, I LONG TO SEE YOUR FACE” Nearing the halfway point, “Particle Flux” re-enforces the importance of Ben Chisholm’s electronic atmospheres and Jess Gowrie’s drumming while showcasing Wolfe’s immaculate vocals most clearly thus far on the album. Continuing the ascent from the introductory gloom, “Twin Fawn” is hauntingly beautiful and soft before exploding into a chorus of noise and apparent lost love and retreating back to a state of serenity. “Offering” explores “dark” in another of its forms with Chisholm’s Reznor-esque soundscapes cradling Wolfe’s vocals. Perhaps having reached the peak of the record, “Static Hum” dives down into a place of shadowy figures while Bryan Tulao’s guitar calls in the distance like a voice reminding the track to return from its heights; like “16 Psyche” and “Twin Fawn,” it possesses a monolithic chorus that is chill-inducing. As the album begins to close, another noise/industrial instrumental-based interlude appears as “Welt,” where Wolfe repeats the “Flux, hiss, welt, groan,” lyrics heard earlier in “The Culling.” When it seems that no ballad can manifest, “Two Spirit” floats in on acoustic guitars and elicits tears. “I’LL BE SCREAMING THROUGH THE AFTERLIFE, I’LL BE HUNTING FOR YOU, BURIED UNDER FLOWERS” Hiss Spun closes with the abrasive, aptly named “Scrape.” Evoking senses of early Marilyn Manson and Youth Code, the song is perhaps the furthest departure from past material. Wolfe’s soprano beautifully juxtaposes against the industrial world falling into chaos behind her. The story of the record is linear as it rises, falls and sees light for one last time before annihilation. Every second is necessary. Each word belongs. Nothing is wasted or misplaced. Hiss Spun sees Chelsea Wolfe at her most cohesive, brave and innovative. “SO STOP RUNNING FROM THE WEIGHT OF EXISTENCE, SHOW ME YOUR INSIDES, SHOW ME WHAT’S UNDERNEATH, SHOW ME YOUR BRUISES, BE YOUR OWN GOD” That is exactly what Chelsea Wolfe has done.
There was a time when Chelsea Wolfe could have, perhaps erroneously, been called a folk singer, but with each new release she has moved into a more introspective and sonically devastating realm, reaching a crashing upsurge on Hiss Spun. It moves further into noise and alt-rock territories than ever before yet once again it retains a natural kinship with her oeuvre, coal-black and uncanny in its ability to cut straight to the heart of anyone who cares to listen. We caught up with Chelsea to examine the mind and soul of this powerful work. Words: Dave Bowes // Photo: Bill Crisafi
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH... CHELSEAREVIEWS WOLFE
ongratulations on Hiss Spun. It’s an eerily powerful album, and it feels like an incredibly weighty one too – a lot of doom and industrial elements in there. You’ve always been fondly received by the doom community so does this feel like an album for them, in a sense? Of course I want those who already follow my music to enjoy the album, but I try to write without anyone else’s voice in my head. One thing the album really highlights is the dual (duelling?) senses of strength and vulnerability that have always seemed present within your work. How has the balance between these two forces shifted from your beginnings up to now? That contrast has been within me from the beginning. I was haunted by macro vs. micro from a very young age. It’s a very evocative album title - there’s something quite obtuse yet animalistic about it. Where did the phrase come from and how does it represent the sound that you were trying to capture here? Hiss is the white noise, the life force you’re addicted to. Spun is the sickening feeling you get from the withdrawals. Another thing with Hiss Spun is that it feels like more of an ensemble work than previous albums. What was the writing process like here and was there any shift away from how you typically work? It was a culmination of important musicians in my life. Many of the songs came about from us just jamming together. You recorded the album in Salem, which is certainly a far cry from Los Angeles. How did you find the experience of working there and do you feel the change in weather and scenery played any part in the album’s tone? We recorded in Salem in the dead of winter, even got snowed in at one point. There is
a sense of the cold outside with the warm interior. Jess recorded drums in a concrete dungeon room in the basement of the studio. Two floors up, I’d work on vocals, set to the hiss and bang of the radiators. The last time I spoke to you, I asked about some of the designers and couturiers that you’d worked with, so I’ll fire that back again. Who have you been working with lately, and how would you describe your own tastes in fashion, art and photography? I oscillate between something raw, vulnerable, and primitive to something modern, strong, and futuristic. I’m always trying to reconcile those two sides of myself. Sometimes I’ll lean towards one to the extreme, but most of the time I fuse them together. Lately I’ve been buying less clothing, instead just saving for timeless pieces by AF Vandevorst, Ann Demeulemeester, Sisters of the Black Moon, and Ovate. I’m reuniting with my friend and photographer Mary Gebhardt soon, she’ll join us for a few days on tour. She took some of my earliest photos as an artist, and turned me on to Nan Goldin, who has since been a big influence for me. You’ve stated that you were quite uncomfortable with your first recordings and that you felt pushed into releasing those songs. Has your opinion of that material changed over the years and do you feel there is anything there that is worth reviving? No, let the dead rest. I really loved the Rudimentary Peni covers EP that you did for Latitudes a few years back. Are there any other artists out there that are close enough to your heart that you feel you could give similar treatment? I’ve done some recordings of Townes Van Zandt songs. I have a deep affinity for him. I might release those someday. There’s a strong sense within your music of the voice, not just as a lyrical and narrative tool, but also as an instrument in and of itself. Is this the reason for your use of vocal distortion or is there another purpose at work? Lyrics are very important to me, but so is expressing a more feral, spontaneous side of myself where I allow my voice to create sound layers on its own accord. I find the social and religious undertones of your music as intriguing as the musical and literary ones. Are there any such vibes occurring within Hiss Spun that we should know about? Walt Whitman, my own insomnia and memories. Something of an open question but what is your primary motivator as an artist and musician? What spurs you to create what you do with the frequency that you do? Something innate. An addiction to the quest for something holy. And of course to connect with others.
HISS SPUN IS OUT NOW VIA SARGENT HOUSE musicandriots.com
90’S ANGST MEETS ALT-ROCK
Sub Pop (2017)
here’s certainly the feeling that Bully are still a band figuring out their full-fledged sonic identity, but to have the opportunity to witness the first rays of undeniable brilliance offers an weirdly enthralling experience for whoever is paying attention. On their second full-length album, the Alicia Bognanno-fronted band, sound way more confident than with their debut, 2015’s Feels Like. The most noticeable element of that confidence can be found in Alicia’s vocal performance, which doesn’t seem too concerned with stopping or even work around any sort of barriers. For fuck’s sake, it’s even the most audible element in the mix. Their sound is doubtless informed by the alternative rock scene from the 90s, but more importantly is the way the 90s informed Bognanno to write sort of openly and honestly about her. Because with the ravishing, crunchy, and raging loud guitars of Bully, there’s also a soothing side for all the angst and frustration. TIAGO MOREIRA
COLLEEN A Flame My Love, A Frequency Thrill Jockey (2017)
A Flame My Love, A Frequency is the closest Colleen has come to a concept album. Tackling the inevitable fact that life and death are always hand in hand, French musician Cécile Schott – aka Colleen – brings us a powerful and utterly unique meditation about our very own capacity to rise above these troubled and dark times. Tinged with detailed yet explorative soundscapes, there’s always a strong sense of vulnerability and emotional depth, giving at times a few glimpses of optimism but with a strange and evocative feeling of that classic Autumn sadness. A Flame My Love, A Frequency is a pure manifestation of Colleen’s very own artistic statement, an experimental and complex pop affair that will shake you down from head to toes. FAUSTO CASAIS
COUNTERPARTS You’re Not You Anymore Pure Noise Records (2017)
Let’s get one thing out of the way: if you were expecting that Counterparts would have changed their sound then you were right, but if you think that they’ve lost their raging aggression then you’re so wrong, because this new effort is significantly heavier and even more in your face than any previous work. You’re Not You Anymore is abrasive and perfectly balances the best of their previous efforts along with the natural evolutionary next step. It’s a change but it’s quite easy to notice that frontman Brandon Murphy’s lyrics are also tackling a sort of change in life, in the band and everything. With You’re Not You Anymore, Counterparts aren’t afraid to shuck typical hardcore conventions, the song-writing is top notch and the end result is remarkably fresh-sounding. FAUSTO CASAIS
DÄLEK Endangered Philosophies Ipecac Recordings (2017)
“The son of immigrants/Our rise is imminent/ I’m your antithesis/Our sound is infinite/I’m your worst nightmare/Educated and born here/Prepared for warfare/We ain’t going nowhere”. Quoting MC dälek in a review might look like a cop-out but the truth is, there’s hardly a better way to exemplify the brilliance and relevance of his message. “Son of Immigrants” isn’t the undeniable pinnacle but rather another significant part of their work on their latest album, Endangered Philosophies. These pioneers of industrial/experimental/shoegazing hip-hop were always sonically on point and their messages always relevant, so it might not come as a big surprise that in these dark times they’ve managed to respond accordingly. Many have been failing to deliver, but not dälek. Not this time. TIAGO MOREIRA
A CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE...
CIRCUIT DES YEUX Reaching For Indigo
Drag City (2017)
969 was a very special year for music. The Velvet Underground, Nick Drake, The Stooges, Captain Beefheart, The Who, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, CCR, The Beatles, Frank Zappa, and many more, would end up releasing albums that can and are easily recognized as classics. In the midst of all of that brilliance there was this weird and amazing record, something quite unique not only for the music scene but also for the artist itself. I’m talking about Tim Buckley’s third album, Happy Sad. Buckley was already recognized for his work on his two previous albums (1966’s self-titled album and 1967’s Goodbye and Hello), but Happy Sad sprouted something magical and mesmerizing. It marked the beginning of the experimental period for Buckley, with an unheard before incorporation of jazz elements, and perhaps more importantly he started using his voice as an instrument. A dazzling one, but playing in the same field as the other instruments on the record. So, why talk about a record released almost 50 years ago in a review of a record that’s being released in 2017? Because Haley Fohr’s Circuit des Yeux managed to replicate the same magical feeling with the sounds on her new album, Reaching For Indigo. Featuring “a lot more jazz musicians from Chicago” and influenced by a sense of freedom and control obtained with last year’s marvellous Jackie Lynn record, the fifth Circuit Des Yeux’s full-length reaches a brand new heights with a multitude of dimensions that gently intertwine. Each track seems to exist on top of the previous one, taking something from it and adding something for what’s to come. At first you can perceive it as a pure exercise of freedom in experimentation, but as you watch and hear closer the sounds start to take a shape and form that not only coexist harmoniously but also are a part of something bigger. And in the middle of this fantastic 35-minutes sensorial/spiritual experience we have the chance of experiencing what at this point feels like undeniably one of the most amazing voices of our generation – Fohr’s four-octave range is just the tip of the iceberg, if you can believe it. More than a fantastic record, Reaching for Indigo adds meaning and value to the human experience. TIAGO MOREIRA
GAME CHANGING? AGAIN?
CONVERGE The Dusk In Us
Deathwish Inc./Epitaph (2017)
here’s a reason for the Massachusetts-based band Converge being considered one of the benchmarks in terms of quality within extreme and aggressive music. Actually, there’s more than one, but perhaps the most undeniable is how they are able, time and time again for a ridiculous amount of time (formed in ’94 and it’s been 26 years since they released the classic album that’s ‘01’s Jane Doe), to release not only mind-blowing albums but also albums capable to create an emotion and human connection with its listener while being highly cathartic. In that sense, Converge remain the same with their 9th studio album, The Dusk In Us. But it’s never really the same with them, right? Well, on this one they seem to have strengthened even more that human side, that connection. So, with their usual abrasiveness and pummelling sound comes the beauty, melodies, and even melancholy to embrace that said catharsis. “When I held you for the first time/I knew I had to survive.” (“A Single Tear”) is just an example of vocalist Jacob Bannon working through “the complexities of those things [experiences in his life] through song,” as he puts it. The Dusk In Us is wonderfully fulfilling lyrical but as per usual, its sonic side is as fulfilling, managing to please and captivate a handful of different audiences across the heavy-music spectrum. Riff upon riff of untamed brutality and harshness, the drumming that threatens to pierce even the coldest and hardest stone, and even Bannon’s vocals that with ease transform from the most frenetic hardcore to a soft-spoken and more contemplative/calmer approach. But Bannon is hardly the only one capable of such transformation and mutation, the band follows him all the way through and just like his voice, the instruments find ways to be effective in the most distinct ways – not being completely blown away, for example, by the contrast offered with a combo like “Cannibals” and its follow-up “Thousand Miles Between Us” might be very well one of the hardest tasks for whoever listens – even someone who has never heard the band – to The Dusk In Us. There's also something to be said regarding the final seconds of a song like "I Can Tell You About Pain". How a band manages to use such a noisy, abrasive and piercing sound to emulate and accompany their emotional manifestation is, in a way, what Converge signify and are capable of. Brilliance on so many different levels. The Dusk Is Us is another testament to Converge’s greatness and their magnificent personal manifest. TIAGO MOREIRA
NEW ORDER JOY DIVISION THE CURE
REAL MUSIC FOR REAL PEOPLE
DEATH OF LOVERS The Acrobat
DAIS Records (2017)
ack in 2014, Death of Lovers’ debut EP Buried Under a World of Roses encapsulated everything good about pop music, post-punk misery and 80’s nostalgic feeling. Now, three years later and with doubts about a potential comeback, they took a break from their crazy tour schedule with their other band Nothing (Nick Bassett, Domenic Palermo and Kyle Kimball) to go back to writing and to record Death of Lovers’ new full-length album, without taking any rest following their exhausting tour schedule. “The Acrobat” brings back some good and old gloom. There’s for sure a feeling of familiarity around this new set of songs, everything flows perfectly well and Domenic’s atmospheric voice sounds even more laid back and confident. Through simplicity and sticking to the classic-esque of bands like The Cure, Joy Division and New Order, Death of Lovers once again makes you feel miserable. There’s some flashes of light and optimism, but overall it’s an amalgamation of chilling synths and emotional nihilism that makes you feel dreamy, human and mortal. Real music for real people, we dare to say. It might challenge you sometimes, but we all need a good and fresh challenge now and then. FAUSTO CASAIS
STAFF PICK STAFF PICK
DEAFKIDS Configurações Do Lamento Neurot Recordings (2017)
Configurações do Lamento is one of the most weirdly brilliant releases of 2017 and Brazilian noise terrorists Deafkids are for sure a band to watch. Tackling the crisis of identity within a colonized country, they say that: “thanks to the way colonization happened here, a certain part of the Brazilian experience is bound by a sense of fracture - we’re sons of the border... here and there.” Strident, noisy and frantic, not for sensible ears and trust me, not everyone’s cup of tea, Configurações do Lamento is raw in a meaningful way and the band sounds like an angry militia, where drone, jazz, punk and psychedelia are just a few of the ingredients of this tribal and explosive experimental cultural cocktail. A fearless effort that demands your full attention. FAUSTO CASAIS
EMA Exile On The Outer Ring City Slang (2017)
EMIL AMOS Filmmusik Pelagic (2017)
Artists like EMA - a.k.a. Erika M Anderson - are definitely needed in our lives. EMA’s third album is a neat and powerful effort about political alienation. She goes deeply personal on her new songs and points out what’s really happening in our society right now. Heavy guitar riffs, pop noise and folk melodies are the perfect soundtrack for the honesty and tenacity of her words. After releasing two incredible albums - 2010’s Past Life Martyred Saints and 2014’s The Future’s Void - EMA is more confident about expressing what’s on her mind and challenges the listener to get more involved with what’s really wrong in today’s world. It’s a strong and bold move, a statement to make people think and act. ANDREIA ALVES
The debut solo album from the Grails and Holy Sons mainman Emil Amos is a celebration not only of his exquisitely delicate touch as a composer but also of his status as musical archivist extraordinaire. It pulls together everything from the golden age of cinematic soundtracking, the splashes of glitchy funk, soul and hip-hop marrying well with Pierre Bachelet-esque easy listening and Amos’ own sometimes predatory-sounding psychedelia, and turns them into something exotic yet familiar. In an age where labels like Death Waltz and Mondo are making a killing from the sounds of the past, it’s refreshing to hear someone like Amos repurposing them so lovingly and with such skill, and with the passion, tension and action that Filmmusik evokes, someone really needs to get around to making a movie based around it right away. DAVE BOWES
DOWNTOWN BOYS Cost Of Living Sub Pop (2017)
t a time where discrimination towards the Latino and LGBTQ communities in America is precipitously rising, Downtown Boys are only more emboldened in their M.O. of pugnacious, anti-establishment punk. Signing with Sub Pop and working with Fugazi’s Guy Piccioto for their third full-length record, the Rhode Island quartet eases back on the stampeding double-times that were abundant in their previous album, instead taking their time to sculpt out more melodies. Along with a bit more backing from synthesizers, guitars expand beyond fervent bar chords, delivering more defined lead riffs in “I’m Enough (I Want More),” “Clara Rancia,” and the Dead Kennedys-esque “Because You.” And while the horn sections are as present this time around, they make their moments count in “Lips That Bite” and “It Can’t Wait.” On top of it all, frontwoman Victoria Ruiz’s abrasive vocals remain the driving force of the band’s sound. Though her lyrics may not be as laser-focused as some of their punk peers, Ruiz is unwavering with what she’s standing up for, from her shouts delegitimizing Trump’s cornerstone political promise in “A Wall,” to her Spanish rallying cries supporting her heritage in “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas),” its title translating to “We are intelligent, we SAM MENDEZ are not idiots.”
EERA Reflection Of Youth
Big Dada Records (2017)
EERA, the moniker of the Norwegian-born Anna Lena Bruland, portrays with her debut album, Reflection Of Youth, “a tumultuous chapter in her life” – the moment where you’re trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do with your life. That portray though is far from being one-dimensional, which is especially perceptible through the album’s assorted sounds and its distinctive approaches. For the most part, the record sounds indeed like a sonic representation of a reflection with its slow, sometimes meditative, pace, and it’s in those very careful steps taken that EERA thrives. It’s with songs like “Beast” where the listener can fully appreciate the slow brushes on the canvas and the absolutely delicious and adventurous left turns... But it’s with “Christine” that the craftsmanship of EERA’s songwriting becomes undeniable. TIAGO MOREIRA
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH... COLIN STETSON (EX EYE)
re there any records out there that create that same sensation to the one that you are trying to create with Ex Eye? I don’t think there’s anything in particular that we’ve been patterning off of or trying to emulate, and broadly trying to answer, “Are there any records out there that affect me in visceral or sensory perceptive ways” could go on and on for days. Specifically, it wasn’t a conscious effort; we weren’t trying specifically to leave off and not be influenced by any one thing, but it really wasn’t part of the conversation. We never started off saying, “Let’s try to do some Meshuggah moment or something.” It really was just borne out of our musical conversations and intuition. No emulation consciously though I know we’re just experiential filters so everything is influential to some extent. For all that, listening to the record, it still feels fun. Yeah, it has everything going for it that you just described, but it also feels like you guys are having a great time just playing off each other. How enjoyable has this experience been for you? It’s the best. We all love it and when we’re on the road, in tight quarters in the van for long drives, days that would have crippled any other band really just barely fazed us. It’s just a really beautiful, unique group of close friends and we all are not only dedicated to the music but also personally to one another, so we laughed a lot and had tremendous fun. We’re not without the dynamics of reality and there are things we have to work on musically; we address things on a nightly level after a show – what went well, what we can improve and capitalise on – but it’s a wonderfully egalitarian setting. Everybody is free to speak their mind, it’s a great group and I’m looking forward to more.
EX EYE Ex Eye
Relapse Records (2017)
ombining the forces of avant-garde saxophonist Colin Stetson, Greg Fox (Liturgy) and Shahzad Ismaily (Secret Chiefs 3), Ex Eye are the kind of band who defy expectation and definition. It’s like being caught in the fever dreams of M.C. Escher, a twisted tangle of bewildering time signatures, extraordinary musical prowess and no shortage of pulsating, invigorating drama. The key to its holding together is the way in which it pulls the unexpected out of its players, surging forward with Fox’s relentlessly precise drumming whilst Stetson adds definition and a sense of punctuality, both being tied together by Ismaily’s hypnotic, near-extraterrestrial meanderings. It’s busy, but those involved have such an innate sense of time and space that listening to it is like peering into another universe – alien but who knows what will happen if your attention ever slips. DAVE BOWES
HOT NEW BAND
EXPERIMENTAL POP FINESS ENTER SHIKARI The Spark PIAS (2017)
he decision to push Shikari’s anthemic choruses and unifying sentiments fully to the fore while dialling back their rampaging genre-hopping makes fantastic sense on paper, but as a result The Spark is a sometimes maudlin listen, full of promise and sharp witticisms, but lacking the punch of earlier efforts. On the flipside, it does showcase a more refined sensibility from the lads, with Rou Reynolds experimenting with the lower end of the register to great effect and giving room to utilise electronic elements in a way that’s more in keeping with Rory Clelow’s understated melodies. There are a few deviations, most notably “Rabble Rouser” grimy braggadocio and the Gary Numan-meets-The Clash bounce of “The Revolt Of The Atoms”, but on the whole this is a collection built on the back of hooks rather than bite. DAVE BOWES
Clifford R. Jordan
Consouling Sounds (2017)
ÄR is a two-piece experimental project hailing from Brakel, Belgium. Comprised by An-Sofie De Meyer (vocals, sampler) and Tim De Gieter (beats, live synths, production), FÄR are one of the most exciting bands you’ll hear for some time. Salute is raw, dark and trippy and organic, their modern sound palette gives their experimental pop a warm and fuzzy vibe, but by plumbing their emotional depths, the overall result reveals even more introspective layers in the duo’s songwriting. Songs like “Lethargy”, “Epicaricacy”, “Umbra” and “Last Straw” are going to be stuck in your head for days. Rough around the edges, Salute is the sonic equivalent to being pricked by a rose’s thorn, it’s an ambitious and stylish effort, it’s addictive and their eclectic and modern sound will grow on you. FAUSTO CASAIS
FILE UNDER: The Clash, Depeche Mode, The Human League
FOO FIGHTERS Concrete And Gold
8/10 RCA (2017) Foo Fighters, this hard working rock band that stayed true to their hearts even when occasionally they failed – mostly they didn’t though. On their ninth record, there isn’t much change in the soul of Dave Grohl and friends, there’s no midlife crisis... damn, Concrete and Gold is exactly the contrary. With producer Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia, Lily Allen, Kelly Clarkson, etc.), the new album exhibits an impressive vitality in a work crafted from the most varied sonic elements (the power and influence of 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace on the band’s approach is fuckin’ huge) and bounded together with an almost clinical songwriting that’s extremely effective and throughout even if it seems and feels to come from the most relaxed and no-worries state. It’s a fuckin’ awesome mainstream rock album. Who would have thought it could happen in 2017? TIAGO MOREIRA
FRANK IERO & THE PATIENCE Keep The Coffins Coming EP Vagrant (2017)
GHOSTPOET Dark Days + Canapés Play It Again Sam (2017)
Since My Chemical Romance called it the day, the band’s former guitarist Frank Iero has been releasing his solo music and touring across the world non-stop. This new EP, Keep The Coffins Coming, is complete with four tracks that bridge the gap between Stomachaches and Parachutes, Frank Iero and the Patience’s debut and sophomore albums. This time around, Iero had on board one of his favorite producers, Steve Albini, and the whole vibrant vibe between them is pretty clear throughout these songs. Keep The Coffins Coming is short but sharp, heartfelt and raw, with energetic and catchy punk rock that we’re already familiar with. Iero never gets stale on whatever he’s doing and his art is a continuously remarkable and goes straight to the heart. ANDREIA ALVES
FILE UNDER: Leathermouth, Reggie And The Full Effect, MCR
Ghostpoet has returned with his fourth album Dark Days + Canapés, once again leaving us in awe of his brilliance.The songs are dark and the lyrical content often strong (“Freakshow”, for example, discusses the negative effects of modern consumerism, while “Live >Leave” deals with the fact he’s not going to be on this planet forever). Despite that bleak tone, everything sounds strangely comforting and we become fascinated by this bizarre universe, which sounds like something straight out of a neo-noir movie. Musically, the British artist continues to push boundaries without ever losing focus. The record, produced by Leo Abrahams, (Brian Eno, Jon Hopkins) is highly diverse: it has a guitar-driven sound and explores different genres and moods, sometimes with the help of others: there are vocal cameos by EERA and Massive Attack’s Daddy G or a sampled performance by a group of string players. In the end, the more you listen to this, the more it becomes clear. Ghostpoet has created yet another masterpiece. Simply amazing! JORGE ALVES
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR Luciferian Towers Constellation (2017)
Glimmering with hope and the promise of triumph, all horn trills and ascending arpeggios that drag the listener heavenwards until the synapses are filled with brilliant light, Godspeed’s attack on classist imperialism is a subtly psychedelic experience which makes its contrast with the album’s socio-political overtones, as well as its reflection on these dark days, into something more vital and potent than any leaden doomfest could hope to be. The weighty “Bosses Hang” provides a shining example of this, its initially morose undertones gradually uncoiling to reveal a fevered swirl of kraut beats and interjecting melodies, but it’s the frazzled Morricone twang of “Anthem For No State” that delivers the heftiest kick. GYBE has achieved something impressive here, drawing every ounce of beauty out of the mire, and the result is nothing short of invigorating. DAVE BOWES
HANNE HUKKELBERG Trust
Propeller Recordings (2017)
GOTHIC TROPIC Fast or Feast
Old Flame Records (2017)
othic Tropic’s debut album Fast or Feast has proven a long time in the making. After releasing a string of early singles last summer like album opener “Stronger” or the very danceable “How Life Works”, the Los Angeles artist seemingly went radio silent. Vocalist and guitarist Cecelia Della Peruti is not a newcomer to the Los Angeles music scene. After performing with a number of notable artists over the years and releasing a few songs, Della Peruti enlisted the help of a couple friends to record a series of shining 80s tinged psych rock tracks. The album, released on Old Flame Records, boasts 10 impressive songs highlighted by Della Peruti’s impressive guitar skills and soulful vocals. Moving between wailing solos and lush rhythmic guitar riffs, Gothic Tropic gives listeners a little bit of everything. Be it the catchy track “Don’t Give Me Up”, or inarguably cool “Chemical Trail Della Peruti” and company are sure to keep your feet moving. JAMIE BEVEREN
nding a five-year absence, Hanne Hukkelberg returns with Trust, her fifth studio album and probably the most ambitious and exploratory effort. Trust “is a combination of personal experience and a wider observation of society and how I feel people are living their lives”, Hukkelberg says. An epic sparkle with traditional and remarkable experimental pop, but with a modern design and twist. Conceptual and brilliantly constructed, Trust is set at a time where digital is taking over, and explores in perfection the strange duality of human life in this digital era. Our very own dystopian future in this cyber world, a reality that a few years ago was just pure sci-fi paraphernalia. Hanne Hukkelberg flirts with experimentation in Trust, easily seducing FAUSTO CASAIS new fans with her intelligence, very own intimacy and hopeful attitude.
HOT WATER MUSIC Light It Up Rise Records (2017)
How do you follow up on an album like Exister? How do you move on from a masterpiece? For Hot Water Music, the answer is quite simple. Make another one. Light it Up comes five years after its highly praised predecessor, hugely meeting the expectations. The energy is here and the melodies as well, but most importantly, Chuck Ragan is once again firing on all cylinders. Lyrically and vocally, he’s on the top of his game, showing why so many consider him to be one of the most important figures in punk rock today. Over the course of twelve songs, Hot Water Music keep their flow, bringing everything we love of them. Political and emotional, they still have a lot to say, and they know how to do it. MILJAN MILEKIC
HOUSE AND LAND House And Land Thrill Jockey (2017)
House and Land is the duo of Sally Anne Morgan and Sarah Louise Henson. After meeting each other and realizing they were both into specific forms of traditional music, they decided to do something together. Their sound, inspired by southern hymns and Appalachian ballads, is spiritual and haunting, with the ability to transport the listener to a different time. However, they explore the past in their own way, adding influences from something else they love - avant-garde/minimal music. Occasionally, we stop hearing instruments such as the fiddle or the bouzouki; in those moments, House and Land fill the empty spaces with the power of their delicate and beautiful voices. The result, of course, is marvellous. A truly wonderful debut LP. JORGE ALVES
Hopeless Records (2017)
6/10 ACOUSTIC EMO WITH BRAINS
017 may be the official comeback year of bona fide shoegazing, with long-anticipated albums from the subgenre’s pioneers like Slowdive and Ride being released earlier this year, but the more contemporary subgenre of melodic hardcore has been adopting characteristics of the late-80s alt-rock style for the past few years. Hundredth are the latest melodic hardcore band to go this route, with their fourth studio album taking a significant turn away from the fleeting tempos, chugging breakdowns, and harsh vocals of their earlier sound, and replacing it with more opaque soundscapes and ethereal vocals doused in reverb. This isn’t a complete whiplash of a change, though. The band still keeping a grip on some of their strong guitar distortion, which parallels part of their hardcore roots with the heavier sound of first-generation shoegazers like Catherine Wheel and Swervedriver. Furthermore, the band also pays homage to other iconic ‘80s bands like The Cure and The Smiths with jangly lead guitar melodies in “White Squall” and “Shy Vein.” But while Hundredth do alright with this leap into new sonic terrain, Rare suffers from its shoegaze-core style being too monochromatic. Song intros might offer moments of distinction from the start (like the hardcore buildups in “Disarray” and “Chandelier” contrasting the more serene intros in “Grey” and “Departure”), but every song ultimately blurs together in the same repertoire of hazy, spatial melodies and distant, despondent singing. SAM MENDEZ
KEVIN DEVINE We Are Who We’ve Always Been
evin Devine returns with We Are Who We’ve Always Been, a stripped down and more intimate reimagining of his 2016 brilliant effort, Instigator. It’s quite interesting to see how Devine crafted this new effort, only built around piano, acoustic and synths, but especially because it ended up being a change in format. Almost like an alternative and masterful recreation of Instigator. Produced by long-term collaborator Chris Bracco and with impressive guest performances from Swivs (on “Freddie Gray Blues”), The Mynabirds (on “No One Says You Have To”) and Half Waif (on “I Was Alive Back Then”), We Are Who We’Ve Always Been is a compelling piece of art, from an honest and challenging artist. Kevin Devine is a powerful storyteller, who serves the FAUSTO CASAIS music’s roving heart, but at the same time writes about real shit.
INTEGRITY Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume Relapse Records (2017)
These Ghent based freaks are probably trying to give an aneurysm to any stutterer (or non-stutterer for the matter) who tries to pronounce their name or the name of their debut album. But before you dismiss them with a loud laugh, please take the time to listen to the record. You’ll be surprised. Not only is this thing mad, technically competent and hilariously written, it also makes one move parts of its body in odd ways. Eccentric is the best word to describe it. Raging from rap to prog-rock, all the way through jazzy dialects and sending props to the noise affiliates, Hypochristmutreefuzz bring the fun back to your local artsy independent venue where hipsters discuss the wonders of facial hair oil. RICARDO ALMEIDA
It’s safe to say that Integrity’s latest can be added to the illustrious list of great ‘end of days’ metal albums, a bristling melange of sludge, d-beat and apocalyptic fire that strangely manages to sound as fresh today as it might have on Headbanger’s Ball back in the 90’s. It owes as much to classic metal swagger and morose melodicism as it does to the band’s own Cleveland HC roots, ‘Serpent of the Crossroads’ the sound of a lunatic preacher fronting High On Fire while ‘Burning Beneath the Devils Cross’ kicks down the church door and torches the building with its unabashed ferocity. Though it might appear like an exercise in chaos on first listen, in time this should be remembered as one of the band’s most concrete works. DAVE BOWES
VZW Hypochristmutreefuzz (2017)
Nothing - Guilty Of Everything
Balance And Composure - Light We Made
Swervedriver - I Was Born To Lose You
Procrastinate Music Traitors (2017)
ITCH? .W .A L . .. T E M U O Y E HAV
L.A. WITCH L.A.Witch
Suicide Squeeze Records (2017)
L.A. Witch are the Californian trio consisted of Sade Sanchez, Ellie English and Irita Pai. They are faultless while writing songs and fierce on stage. Their music has this contagiously dreamy and dark rock n’ roll vibe that will leave you mesmerized. With their debut album just released, we caught up with L.A. Witch to get to know more about them. Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Marco Hernandez
ell us a little bit about yourselves and how L.A. Witch got started. Ellie: I started playing in the band a little over 4 years ago. We’ve been touring steadily for about 3 years now. Sade: were from Los Angeles. I met Ellie in high school and Irita through a mutual friend. Irita and I started the band together and after loosing our of drummer we had Ellie fill in and that kinda just stuck. Irita: I had been jamming with a couple girlfriends and a mutual friend, Tony from Santoros, introduced us to each other. He also set up our first show ever, 4 months later. What do you love the most about LA and does it have any influence on your music? Sade: I love that there’s a lot to do and always discover. There’s a lot of great rock n roll and music history in l.a. I’m sure there’s a lot of subconscious influence in our music. Never really intentionally though. It seems like we’ve always been surrounded by music since we were little so it’s hard to tell exactly where it all comes from. Irita: The weather and the freedom to go anywhere you want. LA is a driving town. You can go from the ocean to the desert, to the mountains and the forests in one day.
Your music has this mesmerized and contagious vibe where you combine dark desert guitar riffs with rock’n’roll attitude, but with also dreamy and hypnotic sounds. What musical and non-musical references had a huge impact on shaping your sound? Sade: horror and sci-fi movies, road trips, ghost towns and old cemeteries, Californiweather, Disney movies, cowboys, photography, astrology, rock n roll music, punk rock, 90s pop music, cult, serial killer and mafia history, I-pods, tower records - to name a few influences growing up. How’s it like the songwriting process between the three of you? How do you usually start a song? Ellie: Sade usually comes up with some ideas for a song, like a riff or bridge or something and then we add in our parts and make a structure. Then sade adds lyrics. Sometimes we come up with stuff from jamming too. Sade: pretty much what Ellie said. Except sometimes I have the lyrics and melody first. I don’t usually add them after. Early this year you girls signed to Suicide Squeeze Records and you will be releasing your debut album this September. How did signing come to be? Irita: David from Suicide Squeeze came to one of our shows up in Seattle, where the label is based. We had previously toured
.A. Witch - the Californian trio consisted of Sade Sanchez, Ellie English and Irita Pai - have proven with their debut full-length album that rock n’ roll wraps up well with the dreamy California sound, with neon lights, palm trees and big cars as the main visual thoughts. Listening to their songs, one can only imagine that kind of scenario. Being effortless and addictive at the same time, the girls capture a dark, sexy and enigmatic vibe of the 60’s garage rock. Without foreseeing, the songs will slow down or just speed up, it’s really unpredictable. With a wide range of influences, they created an impressive body of work that has a rough side, as well a soft side. For the first album, L.A. Witch are bold and contagious, just let them take you on a hell of a ride.
FILE UNDER: Velvet Underground, Black Sabbath with the Coathangers, who are on Suicide Squeeze, so we knew all about them. I read that your debut album has been on a long time on the making. How long have you been working on it and what led it to be on such a long period of time? Ellie: Its hard for us to record an album when we’re on the road so much. Songs evolve and change. So if we record and then tour, when we get back home and hear the recordings are different the how the songs are played now. It’s been a process but I think we’re getting the hang of it now. Velvet Underground or Black Sabbath? Ellie: Damn! That’s a really tough one, I don’t think I could choose! Sade: I choose both. Irita: Both, I could never choose. It would be like choosing between children. What other outlets do you love besides music? Ellie: I love sewing, Gardening, I work as a dog walker and I love spending time with all the pups I get to work with.. and my pup too! We all love photography. Sade: I like to watch movies, go on hikes with my dog, hit up a skate park, ride my moto, paint or draw. I never run out of things to do. Irita: I like to take photos, make flyers and cook.
MARIKA HACKMAN I’m Not Your Man Sub Pop (2017)
LEE RANALDO Electric Trim Mute (2017)
ith the release of her sophomore album I’m Not Your Man, Marika Hackman proves she has lot more to offer than her folk laden debut album, 2015’s We Slept At Last would suggest. Hackman’s latest release introduces a bold new collaboration with London band The Big Moon. Signing on to Sub Pop and enlisting the talents of The Big Moon has proven a step in an impressively sharp, yet charming new direction for Hackman. I’m Not Your Man boasts an edgier set of grungier tracks with songs like the fabulous “Good Intensions”, yet makes a point to return to songs more reminiscent of Hackman’s folk roots like heart-breaking “Cigarette”. Outside of the impressive new soundscapes Hackman and The Big Moon bring to the record, the lyrics prove especially fresh, witty and honest. Sandwiched between oddball bodily descriptions, tales of lost love and pleas for an honest relationship, Hackman’s whit is razor-sharp. Lead single “Boyfriend” is fabulously tongue and cheek, and the self-deprecating second single “My Lover Cindy” displays a wonderfully confident songwriter at the top of her game. JAMIE PAGE BEVEREN
ee Ranaldo returns with Electric Trim, his twelfth solo album and believe it or not it’s another leap forward in his long and evolutionary career as a songwriter. Electric Trim is Ranaldo’s most personal and collaborative effort, featuring guests like author Jonathan Lethem who contributes lyrics to most of the songs, Sharon Van Etten (who sings backup on six songs, including a duet on “Last Looks”), drummer Kid Millions (aka Man Forever), friend and collaborator Nels Cline (Wilco) and fellow Sonic Youth member Steve Shelley, just to name a few. His love for experimental noise is still there, but there’s a different shift on the melody. This effort sounds catchier, but also more exploratory, and we can’t ignore how much he has improved as a singer. Overall, Electric Trim is probably the strongest album of Lee Ranaldo’s post-Youth solo journey. FAUSTO CASAIS
IRON MONKEY 9-13
Relapse Records (2017)
There’s no doubt that the decision to continue following the death of Johnny Morrow in 2002 will rub some people up the wrong way, but then again Iron Monkey have always been good at that sort of thing. With Jim Rushby taking up vocal duties now, the band are in suitably filthy hands, his belligerent air and drunken, bludgeoning riffs miring 9-13 in noisy, cacophonic bliss. The d-beat pound of “Crown of Electrodes” starts things off with a bang, a mass of incoherent howls and a riff that’s more infectious than ebola setting the tone well, but it’s “The Rope” that really sells the return of Rushby and co., its miasma of physical and mental sickness indicating only one thing – they’re back, and God help us all. DAVE BOWES
KAMIKAZE GIRLS Seafoam
Big Scary Monsters (2017)
Opening track “One Young Man” sounds unnervingly like a cut song from The Crow soundtrack. An eerie, atmospherically charged, lo-fi slab of sound – angsty, crawling with a tense, dark brood – it’s a song that welcomes you into its dilapidated house and offers you a rusty cup of dirty water, sharing all it owns and all it has, broken as it may be. The entire album has a feeling of disjointed, moody, darkness throughout – permeated with bursts of brief blinding sunshine through the clouds – then falling back into its hood up, grey skies, smoking in a doorway isolation. It’s a sonic injection straight to the heart, and it’s a burst of life, grim and beautiful that will keep you awake for days in wonder. Damn near perfect! ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
IS MARILYN MANSON STILL PUSHING NEW BOUNDARIES?
MARILYN MANSON Heaven Upside Down
Loma Vista Recordings (2017)
eaven Upside Down is seeing the light of day over seven months after its initial supposed release date; while the record is enough to satiate lifelong Manson fans, it doesn’t look far enough into the future to outdo those that came before it. Preceded by months of cryptic Instagram videos and teasers of “Say10,” the content of the album is fairly mediocre compared to the hype surrounding it. Lacking variety in terms of music, Heaven Upside Down is too close to Born Villain and fails to push any new boundaries for the artist who has, historically, built a career and brand on boundary pushing. “Tattooed In Reverse” may be the highest point of this entire tenth Marilyn Manson release simply because it is slightly different than the tracks surrounding it. The only song with an industrial/experimental/gritty feel, the track is a glimpse into what the record could have been. The aforementioned track, along with “Blood Honey” are the only two that stand somewhat apart from the pack; even they, though, seem too cut-from-the-same-cloth. For all of the normalcy, the record is not bad, per se, but just too safe and, lyrically, borderline comical (see the chorus to “Jesus Crisis”). The Pale Emperor was Manson’s greatest piece of art in years and while the theatrical shock value seems to have returned for Heaven Upside Down, it isn’t the most sonically daring work. With titles like “We Know Where You Fucking Live” and “Kill4Me,” one expects a bit of the appealing and appalling angsty Marilyn Manson to appear. The months of emotional build-up surrounding the record made its overall disappointment an even greater letdown. TEDDIE TAYLOR
OUR VERIDICT: NO! IS THIS THE PERFECT TIME FOR IT? YES! SHOULD OUR EXPECTATIONS BE SO HIGH? NO! SHOULD WE STILL CARE ABOUT MANSON? ABSOLUTELY! 112
Relapse Records (2017)
NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
METZ Strange Peace
Sub Pop (2017)
hose who haven’t tracked METZ closely since their self-titled debut record in 2012 may be surprised by the devil-may-care noisy melodies and challenging experience that Strange Peace is. Strange Peace is creatively vast and bursts with intensity, nothing less than what we expected from METZ, but it’s their impenetrably chaos that shows that they’re digging new grounds. Even when they sound meticulous and precise, they find a way to brutalize and punish the listener with their controlled and exhilarating complexity. Strange Peace sees the band’s union with producer Steve Albini, something that was just meant to be, and you can tell that they have perfected the fine balance of noise and melody. METZ seem poised to avoid various aesthetic dead-ends and on their third full-length it’s fair to say that you just can’t ignore them anymore. FAUSTO CASAIS
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Murder of the Universe
KNUCKLE PUCK Shapeshifter
For their second LP of 2017, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have created a monster, and it’s magnificent. As a band that constantly pushes its own creative boundaries, the Melbourne group have presented us with perhaps their most ambitious effort to date, complete with mutation, flesh-eating monsters and vomiting cyborgs. Murder of the Universe is a wonderfully bizarre, three-part feat of an album that is as conceptually insane on wax as it is on paper – and despite all this, it somehow works. The band’s signature genre-spanning sound is stretched to glorious dimensions of increasing insanity barely contained by Leah Senior’s borderline ridiculous, sobering spoken word. Murder of the Universe is a trip, but one that leaves you with a sense of unease that keeps you coming back for more. ANTIGONI PITTA
Knuckle Puck’s sophomore album, Shapeshifter, is a game changer for the genre, not only because it’s a rollercoaster of late 90’s and early 2000’s emo nostalgia, but also a logical progression of the band’s modern pop-punk approach. Shapeshifter is more dynamic than Copacetic, but what’s really impressive about it is the way the whole album goes straight to the point, it’s more punk rock. There’s this sense of urgency and rawness, but also a different take on the band’s emotive display and there’s a bit more introspection and consciousness through the whole album. More confident, tighter and stronger, with Shapeshifter Knuckle Puck show us that adulthood is here to stay, to shape your very own identity and struggles. Well done guys! FAUSTO CASAIS
ATO/Heavenly Recordings (2017)
Rise Records (2017)
anish-born one woman project Myrkur returns with her second full-length studio album, Mareridt, which draws inspiration directly from her nightmares and takes it upon itself to haunt ours with its folk instrumentations, eerie vocals and unpredictable twists and turns. Apart from presenting us with a much better produced and mixed album following her collaboration with Randall Dunn, Amalie Bruun also shows appetite for experimentation by exploring territories beyond the realm of black metal. Mareridt is not afraid to rise from its murky, dark depths to the surface for a gasp of air with guttural growls giving way to soft vocals that are full of light. As well as featuring a collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe, which is perhaps the weakest point of the album, Mareridt brings together choral arrangements, folk (including traditional instruments such as mandola and nychelharpa) and a combination of Danish and English lyrics under the same roof and it does so in a non-contrived way. Give this album time and a few listens and it will grow on you. ANASTASIA PSARRA
KUBLAI KHAN Nomad
Rise Records (2017)
Texas metalcore mavens established themselves as one of the few acts that can still wave the respectful DIY ethnic flag with pride and nowadays that is still hard to find. Newly signed by Rise Records, Kublai Khan returns with Nomad, their sophomore effort and another unrelenting fusion of metal and hardcore, that brings the influence of early Hatebreed and Earth Crisis to mind. Frontman Matthew Honeycutt spits up his vocals over their crushing riffs, and their political message tackling human rights, racism and the overall problems of a generation assaults you through their music. Nomad breaks some new ground here and there’s a pleasant maturity that allows the group to embellish their own trademark sound. FAUSTO CASAIS
ENGAGING ALT-ROCK WITH SOUL
MOVEMENTS Feel Something
Fearless Records (2017)
LOW ESTATE Covert Cult Of Death The Flenser (2017)
We always have extremely nice things to say when there’s someone out there with enough balls to blend 90’s hardcore, the loud and sheer force of nature noise of The Jesus Lizard and the rawness of black metal. Low Estate consists of Brendan Tobin (Red Sparowes) on bass, Geoff Garlock (Orchid) on guitar, Jimmy Hubbard (The Year is One) on vocals, and Christopher Todd (Sannhet) on drums. Covert Cult of Death is seriously heavy and a well-thought project right from the start, and they even level up their own game with cameo appearances by Integrity’s Dwid Hellion, David Castillo of Primitive Weapons, and Zachary Lipez of Publicist UK. A strong and unconventional fresh debut from new comers Low Estate. FAUSTO CASAIS
eel Something is an album that refuses to be pigeonholed by anyone’s standards of “what alternative rock should be.” Feel Something is also an intense physical, emotional, and spiritual experience. I’m not sure what to feel while I’m writing this trying to review something so deep and so emotionally compelling, because this is an album that leaves you uncomfortable, but at the same time brings you hope. It makes you angry and confused but there’s an empowering element here that really shows you the path to catharsis. Introspective and detailed, Feel Something is an open book, Patrick Miranda’s explosive vocal delivery is outstanding, but the evocative and reflective lyricism along with the album’s layered arrangements and tight songwriting provides a pure adrenaline rush for the listener. Somewhere between La Dispute’s Wildlife, Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends and Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, The Southern California quartet have delivered a corrosive and creative effort. Feel Something is unconventionally modern and diverse enough to evade genre or scene clichés, there’s little else out there like it at the moment. FAUSTO CASAIS
LUCY ROSE Something’s Changing
Communion Records (2017)
Our journey on Earth isn’t always easy, and sometimes you need to lose yourself to see things clearly. This is exactly what English singer songwriter Lucy Rose went through: fed up with the music business and in need of some soul searching, she embarked on a South American tour, playing free shows and staying with fans. That experience changed Lucy’s outlook on life: she sounds invigorated and her performance is deeply moving and awe-inspiring. The album remains loyal to her folk roots while also incorporating string arrangements, piano, soul music influences and remarkable vocal harmonies by The Staves on two songs. Something’s Changing is an impressive work, showing a motivated Lucy Rose at the peak of her creativity. JORGE ALVES
MOGWAI Every Country’s Sun
Temporary Residence Limited (2017)
Mogwai are one of the few bands that can portray their constant evolution in every single piece of art they create. Every Country’s Sun is another elegant, expansive and uplifting piece, full of contrasts and killer cinematic soundscapes. Nowadays, it’s easy to say that Mogwai are prime cult material, but their easy approach on depth and detail is still genuinely thrilling. Once again, they’ve created something that sounds fresh and new and their experimental blend of genres along with their signature distortion clashes in perfection with their shifting atmospheric complexity and very own introspection. Every Country’s Sun clocks in at less than an hour, but you still feel you’ve been somewhere when it finishes... FAUSTO CASAIS
PUMAROSA The Witch
Harvest Records (2017)
PALE HONEY Devotion
Bolero Recordings (2017)
wo years have passed since Swedish duo Pale Honey - Tuva Lodemark and Nelly Daltrey released their impressive self-titled debut album, but the new one, entitled Devotion, showcases a more mature and personal side of the band. Saying that the number one motivation was to stay curious about music and try new things, the girls were more ambitious in creating the new songs, heavily inspired on personal experiences, such as the track “Get These Things Out of My Head”, which is based on Lodmark’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The sound palette throughout is very engaging, with burst of fuzzy guitars moments or synth splashes along with Lodemark’s mesmerizing vocals. Even though they still have a quiANDREIA ALVES te minimalist approach, Pale Honey get much deeper on this one.
he Witch, the much awaited debut album of London five-piece Pumarosa brings effortlessly cool groove oriented space rock for twelve fabulous danceable tracks. The band gave a little taste of what magic was to come with their full-length release by teasing listeners with several singles leading up to their debut. Helmed by singer and rhythm guitarist Isabel Munoz-Newsome, Pumarosa glides through one pulsing track to the next without missing a beat. The album seamlessly sways between straight forward rock tracks like the grungier “Honey”, to slower building numbers like the title track “The Witch” or album highlight “Priestess”. The band sows a unique mixture of genre bending and experimentation mixing traces of trip hop and electronic music among the masterfully delayed guitars and pulsating bass lines. Pumarosa are quickly becoming one of the more interesting acts to secure slots at many of the seasons big European festivals in 2017. JAMIE PAGE BEVEREN
FILE UNDER: Spiritualized, Radiohead, Grandaddy
NECK DEEP The Peace And The Panic Hopeless Records (2017)
Neck Deep are becoming a powerhouse band. Their influence on the pop sector is gratifying and many acts are truly trying to emulate them. And it is a hard fought process, trying to storm through the music industry and not become undone. On their new record, The Peace And The Panic, the band haven’t lost their urgency. The album is a fast-paced, pop punk treat, constructed with care and attention from Ben Barlow and co. The singer, bellows about a crumbling world and broken relationships. Songs such as “Happy Judgement” and “Critical Mistake” showcase his credentials as a songwriter. They’re pop punk all over, written with sneers and intent. The riffs are pleasing, but simple in their execution, although this doesn’t impair the album in anyway. MARK MCCONVILLE
NECRO DEATHMORT Overland Profound Lore (2017)
For almost ten years, Necro Deathmort have been building a strong career as ambitious composers of experimental, often bizarre electronic-based music. Overland continues this trend, but offers mixed results. The best moments are certainly amazing: “Poliz” is an awe-inspiring, synth-driven cinematic piece; it is followed by “Cath Hedral”, a strange and mysterious jazz-influenced tune which sounds like something straight out of the dark, surrealistic Twin Peaks universe. The rest of the album, however, never really recaptures the magic of the first two songs. It’s not a bad record by any means, but it never reaches its full potential. In the end, we are left with a highly visual collection of seven songs which don’t always have the emotional impact we were looking for. JORGE ALVES
PEOPLE LIKE YOU Verse
Topshelf Records (2017)
Formed from the ashes of I Kill Giants, People Like You, a Boston-based quintet, prove with their sophomore album that they are one of the most impressive and exciting new bands around. Exploring different genres with ease, they are like a sponge absorbing sounds: there’s indie rock, math rock, 90’s punk and even forays into jazz or folk. Bold? Absolutely, but it works because they are extraordinary songwriters who also manage to incorporate abrupt tempo changes and complex structures (in most songs) but still keep things relatively accessible. Verse is an exercise in creativity and innovation, a fiercely dynamic work made by talented people unafraid to break new ground and willing to challenge themselves constantly. Shine on, you crazy diamonds! JORGE ALVES
POST-PUNK BRILLIANCE Daniel Topete
R PROTOMARTYR Relatives In Descent Domino (2017)
elatives in Descent, the fourth full-length of the Detroit powerhouse quartet Protomartyr is far from exist as just another chapter in the band’s already extremely respectable career. While previous efforts mostly dedicated their efforts and heart to the reality (and the unfortunate persisting problems) of Detroit, their new album registers a huge leap forward. If sonically the band was capable of assuming a much more dynamic posture (using and abusing the empty spaces to emphasize their groovy, at times completely clinical, and continuously thrilling sound), lyrically they achieve success reaching what’s outside Detroit - their broaden scope is undeniable. It’s a busy and complex reflection of our times, using philosophy, religion, politics (even if rarely), and singer Joe Casey’s own social experiences. In the end Relatives in Descent - with Protomartyr’s trademark declamatory vocals, much in the vein of Nick Cave - counterbalances its TIAGO MOREIRA dark nature with little portions of hope into post-punk brilliance.
PERTURBATOR New Model
Blood Music (2017)
Rooting itself in the predatory clanks and biomechanical pulses of Cold Meat Industry and Coil, New Model might be coming from the same timeframe as the rest of James Kent’s works, but the results are more menacing than anything he’s ever attempted. “Birth of the New Model” and its rushing, woozy synths make for a high-energy intro, “Tactical Precision Array” uses its low-end like a Sherman tank and “Vantablack” is a neon-hued ode to obsession, love and violence – and the second half gets darker still, culminating with the sprawling yet claustrophobic “God Complex”. Whether this is merely a diversion or a taste of things to come, this is Perturbator operating at his most terrifying, building a monolith of steel and sinew, and it makes for an uncomfortably engrossing listen. DAVE BOWES
Topshelf Records (2017)
Prawn release their most formidable third fulllength record Run on Topshelf Records. On Run, New Jersey rockers touch upon the hardships of attempting to maintain life’s connections while battling feelings of isolation, disconnect and alienation. At the same time, Prawn manage to provide a felicitous punchier sound more evocative of their monumentally sounding live shows. Written over the course of two years and recorded in just two weeks, Prawn delivers raw vulnerability within each song. Each song accompanied by a culminating sound rife with calculated pickups and bellowing hooks that easily fuse into each other to deliver Prawn’s most focused and impressive work to date. ANNAYELLI FLORES
PRIMITIVE MAN Caustic
Relapse Records (2017)
Colorado sludge trio Primitive Man have always seemed more palatable on EP than on fulllengths, simply because taking in so much vitriol at one time is probably bad for your health. On their second such venture, they exude such a lightless aura of negativity in every pummelling downstroke, each riff that chugs and grates like a rusting chainsaw working through bone, that the sensation is entirely overwhelming. In a world of real injustice and fake sentiment, the palpable sense of disgust and rage throughout Caustic only serves to make it more vital, its dissonance and layers of rust, feedback and paranoia separating it from legions of cookie-cutter ne’er-do-wells. Heavy in every possible sense of the word, this is unadulterated musical GBH. DAVE BOWES
TIMELESS & EMOTIONAL ALT-POP
PVRIS All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Is Hell
Rise Records (2017)
o find yourself, your role in this life is difficult, when you’re tumbling down a slope of unpredictability, when your heart is tangled, when hope doesn’t cut it, you’re truly a ticking bomb waiting to blow. But music like this may aid you in your pursuit of some sort of clarity, it may alter your horizons. This sound is cathartic, and it all exudes from the souls that play in a band truly on song. PVRIS are the act, blossoming and flourishing beyond compare, committing themselves to create extraordinary music without cascading towards self-doubt. Yes, lead singer/songwriter Lynn Gunn has suffered from her own personal issues and snippets of that hell can be heard on the bands new record. An album which bounces off wonder, a record which offers the listener a way to escape their hardships for a slender while, and the slenderness may only be thin and the story may only last for around 43 minutes, but it’s remarkable enough for us to fall straight first into a famed drama. All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Is Hell, follows on from White Noise, a record which solidified PVRIS as notable and significant. The record was paved in wonderful bashfulness at times, with Gunn squaring off with her demons. And White Noise contained many hard-hitters too, emotional thrusts, deep agony, restless breakdowns. But, it was a debut layered in gold. Now, PVRIS are world stagers. They’ve gone beyond, preparing themselves for bigger tours and bigger audiences. With this meteoric rise, the band are equipped, their armoury is full of stellar songs, and their outlook is bright. So, we can expect to see them on the road, bringing their music to the masses. And Lynn Gunn is a spokeswoman for the disenchanted, a dream chaser, a singer with much to say, and she’s admired by many in an industry predominantly occupied by men. But she’s a livewire, stretching out, bellowing throughout the songs which carry the new record. All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell, is hell bent on shuddering the spine, its influence is great, its content even more so. The instrumentals go from being subtle to gathering pace, Gunn’s vocals alert the senses, and she’s grasped forceful notes. Her words are darker here, produced from a mind dealt a blow, but she seems able, and she seems to cope under a strain of the hazards thrown at her. With all this tension, the songs are admirable. Opener “Heaven”, signifies purpose early on. Gunn bellows throughout the chorus, shaking the ground with a starkness, offering a beat of truth. Someone took her heaven away, and she’s angry about that, emptying her thoughts of rage. “What’s Wrong” begins with a startling drumbeat, complimenting Gunn’s voice of authority, she sings about feeling cynical and miserable, she also begins to lift her voice, screaming about disregarding metaphors. “Winter” is haunting, Gunn sends her grievances like letters written with intelligence and guts. The chorus is like a bolt of lightning, you won’t expect it. PVRIS are a band coping under the weight of stardom, and their music isn’t drenched in happiness, but it’s emotionally impactful, and that’s what we all need when we’re looking for a sound to fall into and to heal us. MARK MCCONVILLE
PROCESS OF GUILT Black Earth
8/10 Bleak Recordings (2017) Five years after FÆMIN, Process of Guilt return with Black Earth, once again mixing doom with post-metal to provide an intense sonic journey. As usual, they have created a strong album full of memorable moments. “Feral Ground”, with its fantastic and rich guitar work, immediately grabs our attention, but “Hoax” is simply outstanding. The main riff is suffocating and conjures up images of pallbearers carrying a casket at a funeral. The vocals by Hugo Santos, occasionally reminiscent of Amenra’s style, make the song much more devastating - it is definitely the highlight of the album. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, Black Earth is a great record - one which becomes better the JORGE ALVES more you explore it.
PROPAGANDHI Victory Lap Epitaph (2017)
It’s pretty much a common knowledge nowadays that Propagandhi is one of the most superior punk rock bands out there. Technically, musically, their playing is on the highest level possible, making them cult heroes in the punk rock community. The Canadian band isn’t the most popular band around, but their fanbase is loyal to the edge of fanaticism. And honestly, it’s not so hard to see why. With their seventh studio album, they once again show everything they’re known for, and everything they’re loved for. Victory Lap is heavy, fast, aggressive, technically insane, giving the fans everything they want from them. Their lyrics are still deeply rooted in their beliefs, fighting everything they see as wrong in this world. Basically, this is another wake-up call we all need. MILJAN MILEKIC
LEATHER-AND-BOOTS ROCK N’ ROLL
QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Villains Matador (2017)
illains opens up with a classic Queens of the Stone Age bang: distant guitar scratches and 80s synths grow into a rollicking, groovy bassline as Josh Homme croons, “I was born in the desert, babe.” All seems set for a magnificent follow-up to Like Clockwork... The record never dives down past the
surface, though. The majority of the songs, with the exception of “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” and, perhaps, “Un-Reborn Again” and “The Evil Has Landed,” (which could have been included on Era Vulgaris) are a light version of everything previously released by Queens of the Stone Age. The aforementioned songs are quintessential Queens tracks that make up for their lesser counterparts. Josh Homme’s vocals and lyrics are spot-on as always. Troy Van Leeuwen’s guitar work is impeccable throughout. Michael Shuman’s bass anchors the down-anddirty feeling and the hip-swinging danceability. Jon Theodore is at his best behind the drums. Dean Fertita’s work at
the keyboard adds a retro vibe that lines up with Homme’s goal of creating a “looser” album. In pieces, the collection should be as revered as its predecessor. As a whole, however, it plays it entirely too safe. There is no moment. While Villains is a decent radio-rock record with pop undertones, it will take fans time to acclimate to the changes. Whether the blame is on Mark Ronson or Homme himself, the album never lives up to the intimidating, dangerous implications of its name. A diluted collection, Villains fails to fully explore the gritty, leather-and-boots rock n’ roll that QOTSA is known for. TEDDIE TAYLOR musicandriots.com
CATCHING UP WITH SATYRICON...
SATYRICON Deep Calleth Upon Deep Napalm Records (2017)
ver amorphous and ever evolving, on their ninth album Satyricon ply their well-established black ‘n’ roll with a menacing experimentation well acquainted with the left hand path. The brass section on the aptly titled “Dissonant” lends the meandering, jazz-tainted tome a seething disquietude while the overtly melodic guitars and operatic vocals of “The Ghost of Rome” imbue it with an uncomfortable sense of unexpected hope and optimism which threatens to evaporate at any moment. Meanwhile morsels of conventional darkness can be found in the brooding “To Your Brethren in the Dark”. Deep Calleth Upon Deep evokes a startlingly nefarious atmosphere which emanates from its repeated introduction of the unfamiliar; once again, this Norwegian duo have completely rewritten the black metal rulebook. RYAN DANIEL
Satyricon recently released Deep Calleth Upon Deep, an album which encapsulates the spirit of the band and is at the same time a step forward in their career. We caught up with Frost to find out more about the new album and the band’s need to reinvent and innovate their sound. Words: Anastasia Psarra // Photo: Marius Viken
hat made you want to create Deep Calleth Upon Deep? We wanted to create a beast of an album, so open and variant and creative. Dark and inspired and this album is that. We wanted to show that Satyricon is stronger than before and getting deeper which I also think is what we did. How do you think you’ve grown since the last album? It’s been almost three years since the last album… With this album we have gone
through a lot of different stages with this material, which has probably given it a chance to mature and to become diverse. When you released the album you mentioned that you wanted to start a new chapter with it. What made you feel like that? Several reasons. Satyricon was found on a creative and innovative base and we always wanted to evoke something new and explore new musical territory, something that didn’t exist already. And as you get further into a long career, it’s more and more difficult because there are many things that you have done. Keeping the inspiration up and avoiding repetition and routine is difficult, way more difficult. We try to raise our standards all the time which sometimes might seem impossible. Satyricon will never be a band that continues to exist and to release albums only because it is expected of us or because we don’t have any alternatives. It is necessary for us to be
have to get in touch with your heart and with your brain, and that again somehow will be projected into the music. I guess there is a certain level of exposure but that’s how it should be. The new songs are a bold and belligerent expansion of the Satyricon sound. Did you have any reservations about doing something different? No, not at all. That’s how Satyricon functions. We don’t think about expectations or conventions or standards at all. We care about the standards we ourselves have for the band, those conventions that we think that we should follow. I think that you can easily get trapped and go in the wrong direction if you’re following the expectations of others. It’s all about creating for us. We wanted to make this album to develop so I think we wanted to be creative and bold and that’s the general attitude we have in the band. It’s about trusting our intuition and instinct and if we just add the passion and all the hard work, it all comes from there. Were there any spontaneous changes when you were recording the album? We wanted it to sound dark and sinister, but we also wanted to open the doors for doing something spontaneous. We were actually inspired by the recording situation itself and also sometimes the songs were quite different when we recorded them at the studio. We found it a very cool and inspirational place. We wanted to do something about it and the songs changed accordingly. We sometimes hadn’t realised the potential of some songs before recording. Those things happen and even though we were well prepared when we entered the studio, we never put a block on our creativity. How did you find working with Mike Fraser in the studio again? His skills and his professionalism are great. The dialogue with had with him actually before getting into the studio, was very promising and he got a good feel about the record. We made the right choice.
innovative and to reinvent our music. We felt we had to do it on a big level this time round otherwise it wouldn’t feel right to continue with this project. Were there ever any moments before you decided to make this album when you might have thought “OK, let’s call it a day.”? Not really. But we have discussed it on many occasions. I guess it’s a natural part within the band. It’s questioning everything and sometimes the negatives are more that the positives. I guess that’s a good thing because it makes you move forward. It makes you aware of everything that you do, it stops you from falling into a routine or boredom. We have been in a place before where Satyricon felt perhaps more dead than alive and that’s why it’s so necessary to question everything at that point. Everything came down to existential questions. Deep Calleth Upon Deep is a beast of an
album. How would you say it fits with the rest of your discography? I feel that it stands out quite a bit in our discography. All the albums are very different; we develop a lot between albums. I guess there’s some concept evolution going on. You have albums that are very different but they still belong together. It’s something about the spirit and the energy of this album that I feel no other Satyricon album has. It’s almost like it’s a different type of vibe. You’ve said before that for this album you had to dig in the darkest corner of your soul. Does let you feel exposed? Actually I hadn’t thought about it that way! I hadn’t thought that it makes us so vulnerable but perhaps you have a point. It’s definitely exposed a lot on a personal level. We had to be ready to deliver whatever it takes to create something so dark and we had to expose ourselves quite a bit because we really wanted that feeling. You really
You will soon be hitting the road. What are you expecting from this tour and how do you think your fans will react to it? I have a very good feeling. We have been preparing for the tour and we have been looking at ways to best perform this album live. The energy and the vibe of these new songs give us a great feeling about the live shows. We want people to really feel what’s going on. I think this tour will be terrific and I look forward to experiencing the interaction between the crowd and the band when we perform the new songs. We want to share the experience of this album because it’s something very special for us. If there’s one thing that you want the fans to take away from the new music what would that be? The energy, the spirit and the atmosphere. These songs are like the parts of a constellation and they complete each other, there’s no song that’s better than the other. I hope the listeners can be part of this journey. musicandriots.com
SLEIGH BELLS Kid Kruschev
Torn Clean (2017)
ollowing the band’s brilliant latest effort, Jessica Rabbit, Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss unexpectedly return with a release of a mini-album entitled Kid Kruschev. Sleigh Bells sound insistently defies the easy categorization, and over the years we’ve been watching closely their challenging and triumphant progression, constantly changing directions and drag you along with it. Kid Kruschev somehow sounds like a continuation of Jessica Rabbit, it’s still very personal but at the same time swerves in a whole new lyric direction and “the world-scale anxiety of the moment” might have influenced that. Filled with haunting hooks, Kid Kruschev is a bit more moody, darker and less adventurous than Jessica Rabbit was, but it’s still full of contrasts and rich with ghosting melodies. Overall, it’s fair to say that Sleigh Bells’ noise-pop is still a challenging and pleasing affair. FAUSTO CASAIS
SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG Birdie
Rock band Quicksand perfect the blistering beauty of chugging guitars and powerful vocals. The act, pulverise the norm, adding their unique slant, partaking in a reinvention that must stick, a reinvention of rock music. We need new bands to come through and create ground-breaking records, records which make us feel their wrath. And on this evidence, Quicksand may pat themselves on the back, as their record Interiors pulsates, blossoms and draws first place. It manages to create an eventful ride into extraordinary realms too, as those guitars grind away, as those vocals raise hairs. The songs which matter most are “Warm And Low” and “Sick Mind”. These contributions almost create a psychedelic input. MARK MCCONVILLE
Big Scary Monsters/Lame-O Records (2017) 7/10 Earlier this year, Modern Baseball announced that they were taking a break. With the Philly crew on a hiatus, Jake Ewald started Slaughter Beach, Dog as an outlet for songs that didn’t quite fit with his main band Modern Baseball. Musically, not much has changed and with Birdie, Ewald is still combining catchy melodies, retro inspired acoustic ballads and his personal and brutally honest storytelling skills. Birdie is a great indication of how much Ewald has grown as a songwriter, always pushing himself into brave new territories, but always creating the same honest and emotional imagery, even when sometimes his lyrics leave room for interpretation without providing any definitive answers. Having this outlet outside of the Modern Baseball world allowed Ewald to express FAUSTO CASAIS his very own creativity.
SPOTLIGHTS Seismic Ipecac (2017)
Spotlights is the Brooklyn-based husband and wife outfit of Mario and Sarah Quintero. Seismic is sonically immersive and so well-equipped for universal appeal, full of lovely contrasts and hypnotic soundscapes. Their blend of shoegaze, post-rock and sludge is evident, but somehow Seismic gives the impression that the band takes its sound into a new direction, without any sonic boundaries constricting it. Produced by the always great Aaron Harris (Isis/Palms) and recorded this spring in Los Angeles, Seismic has this overwhelming sense of tension and disquiet and is for sure another wakeup call to the troubled days we’re living in and the consequences that we’ll going to suffer in the future. You should believe the hype, because it’s real and it’s painfully good... FAUSTO CASAIS
BLEAK, DARK & BEAUTIFUL
ST. VINCENT MASSEDUCTION
Caroline International (2017)
ASSEDUCTION is the kind of record where every single track on it has the potential to appeal – whether lyrically or just on a more primitive sonic level - to a different kind of person, and in doing so it can serve the ultimate purpose of pulling people into the intricate and dazzling world that Annie Clark and company have so masterfully crafted. St. Vincent’s fifth album rises up with the opening of a brand new chapter - “Masseduction is different, it’s pretty first person. You can’t fact-check it, but if you want to know about my life, listen to this record,” stated Annie Clark – and it is that approach that seems to magnify not only the content but also the effect that said content has on anyone experiencing it. First two songs defy mainstream ideology and expectations (without a holier-than-thou attitude, if you can believe it) on a personal level, but it seems like there’s no track that reaches the level of “Happy Birthday, Johnny”… It’s a highly personal album, you “can’t fact-check it”, and most importantly is open for our own interpretations, but in the midst of the more or less cryptic messages lays something unquestionably: it’s ironically the most direct statement from Clark and probably her most creative. Talking about every single music genre used on (and that have influenced) MASSEDUCTION would probably provoke a migraine. The experience of its constant metamorphosis, contrasts, sonically overload tracks, and the record’s unpredictable nature, on the other hand will most certainly be highly treasured. The album is indeed a very complex and hard-to-fully-digest work, but it was designed in such a shrewd way that allows us to have fun while assembling the puzzle. It’s bleakness and darkness in a beautiful pink wrapping – and there’s much to be said about that achievement. MASSEDUCTION is St. Vincent’s masterpiece and a gift we should be thankful to have… especially now. TIAGO MOREIRA Nedda Afsari
REAL DEAL HARDCORE STEVEN WILSON To The Bone
Caroline International (2017)
SHARPTOOTH Clever Girl
Pure Noise Records (2017)
Hardcore will always be a lifestyle, it’s easy to relate to a genre with its intensity and urgency. Baltimore’s hardcore five-piece Sharptooth’s raw energy, provocative and inspiring lyrics are the perfect example of that. From the Baltimore riots, women’s rights, Black Lives Matter and LGBT movements to the orange clown’s insulting politics, there’s a lot to take in with Sharptooth’s explosive debut album. If only kids could hear and feel the passion, the ferocity and passion on this album... Fuck, it’s a chemistry you can’t buy. If somehow, we get back in time it’s easy to see that the next four years will be this generation’s Reagan years, and it also seems that once again hardcore is more than music, it’s also a political and social movement as well. Clever Girl is Sharptooth’s art manifest, they’re here to raise hell and spread their conscious message. FAUSTO CASAIS
HOT NEW BAND
STAND ATLANTIC Sidewinder EP
Rude Records (2017)
About 30 seconds into Stand Atlantic’s Sidewinder title track, you’re hit with lead singer Bonnie Fraser’s tenaciously robust alto voice belting out with such conviction and just a ting of hurt that it makes you wince about never compromising yourself in a relationship and not forcing something that isn’t meant to be – a lyrical motif that can be heard throughout the album. Overall, Stand Atlantic’s Sidewinder EP is comprised of real honest raw lyrics on top of a fresh blend of melodic hooks and power-driven instrumentals. You can’t help but get lost in the candor in songs like “Coffee at Midnight” and “Chemicals,” which are rifled with anecdotal relationship subject matter and learning from your mistakes, but still manage to keep the upbeat sounds that make them contenders in the congested pop punk genre. By the end, the EP does leave you wanting something more, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is also certainly very refreshing to have a new and powerful voice such as Bonnie Fraser’s in the predominately male dominated pop punk genre. We are eager to see what the band has in store for the future as they are surely going to be around for a while. ANNAYELLI FLORES
or some who’ve been following Steven Wilson’s career in the past few years, it would only be natural to expect that his next work would be creatively riding on the wings of his two previous, critically appraised solo records in a effort to maintain his current momentum, but in direct contradiction to these expectations, Wilson has decided to throw a wrench into the works and To The Bone, his 5th solo offering might not be anything remotely like some people, casual listeners or even his fans could have expected. Gone are the whole concept album format and the majestic-styled prog anthems of Hand. Cannot. Erase. Instead, Wilson decided to play it close to the heart, by creating his own personal take on what were the “progressive-pop” records of the ‘80s, some of which have been a great influence on all of his work to date, and as a result, To The Bone ended up intersecting the prevalent pop and electronic influences of these records with some of his more usual prog-rock styled work. While songs like the opener “To The Bone”, “Pariah”, the lengthy 9-minute epic “Detonation” and finisher “Song of Unborn" represent a precise blending of these influences in the right amount, there are also times where Wilson steers fearlessly and exclusively into electronic mode in songs like the obscure “Song of I” and in the unashamedly heart-on-your-sleeve, poppy and upbeat “Permanating”. But if this mix of styles might make some think “what the hell is going on here?”, tracks like “Refuge” and “Blank Tapes” provide some of Wilson’s most characteristically melancholic and deep moments of the record, while fans of his old band Porcupine Tree might be satisfied with rockers such as “Nowhere Now”, “Same Asylum as Before” and the superb “People Who Eat Darkness”. Even though there’s a common thread relative to the definition of truth, its interpretation and different perspectives, you can certainly tell that this record was made just for the pure joy of making music without some great conceptual plan at large, sounding slightly more upbeat at times than anything Wilson has made in the past. On the other hand, it might not sound as huge, complex or as cohesive as Hand. Cannot. Erase was, with a mixed bag of different styles ranging from rock to pop and electronic music, but at the same time, as a whole, it surely doesn’t sound like anything else he’s done before. It’s a record that might not be suited to everyone’s tastes, even if the music here sounds more accessible, but it’s a great exercise on how to combine various musically diverse influences in a compelling, forward thinking and uncompromising way, much in the way some of his ‘70s heroes who shifted from the long form progressive rock songwriting to a more simple but simultaneously conscious-deep form of composition in the beginning of the ‘80s did. This might not be Hand. Cannot. Erase Pt.2, but if you’re a real Wilson fan, you would be disappointed if it was, and if anything, To The Bone shows us that each Steven Wilson release is unpredictable and henceforth, always exciting and interesting to hear. This record is no exception. LUÍS ALVES
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE!
THE BODY AND FULL OF HELL Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light
Thrill Jockey (2017)
rom the same group of fine gentlemen that previously brought us some great collaborative experiences with acts and artists like Thou, The Haxan Cloak, Krieg, Merzbow, The Bug and many more... Here’s Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light, another challenging and top notch collaborative project from The Body and Full of Hell. If you happen to think that their previous joint One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache was noise breaking, let’s just say this was just an harmless warm up for their new venture. Once again, The Body and Full of Hell join forces to create another nihilistic and abrasive cacophony of sounds that don’t obey to any rules and refuse to be confined into any boundaries as they launch their sonic assault. Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light is meticulously layered and it will leave you uncomfortable. Their urgency and improvisation is a pure delight. FAUSTO CASAIS
THE MELVINS A Walk with Love & Death Ipecac (2017)
A STONE SOUR Hydrograd
Roadrunner Records (2017)
Stone Sour’s long-awaited sixth studio album Hydrograd is here and it demands your attention and your playing device’s maximum volume. Moving away from the whole concept album idea of House of Gold & Bones, which was the reflection of the band’s personal issues at the time, Hydrograd has shifted all the weight off its shoulders and is shamelessly rocking out. Featuring fifteen tracks, this album gathers the best elements of a band that has reached the kind of maturity which allows it to have fun with its creativity. It’s definitely not the strongest album they have put out there in terms of originality, it’s not breaking any new ground and it doesn’t care about it as it seems to have a life of each own. Hydrograd is confident about its rock n’ roll arrogance and that’s strangely liberating. ANASTASIA PSARRA
TAU CROSS Pillar of Fire
Relapse Records (2017)
When supergroups are formed by records labels and managers merely to capitalize on the success or lack of fruition by certain bands, the results are more often than not disastrous to say the least. On their second full-length release, this (indeed) supergroup constituted by members of Voivod, Amebix and War//Plague were able to create an accomplished record that manages to capture the experience of every musician to build a fully accomplished sound. If you forget the fact that these are seasoned musicians, you can still be appreciative of the album itself. Perhaps the major influences of this and the previous debut album are Killing Joke and Voivod, bound together by the punk aesthetics of the other members of the band. NUNO BABO
Walk with Love & Death is a sprawling, 81-minute album composed of typical Melvins work and a short-film score. While the Love portion is impressively strange and includes experimental instrumental tracks, the focal point is the Death offering. It seems odd to have packaged the double-album like a cereal box--here are the Cheerios (Death) and here is your free gift inside (Love). Nevertheless, the nine classically Melvins compositions on Death are some of their finest. Ranging from downtuned metal to upbeat indie-pop, the sludge-founders have, as always, managed to simultaneously dazzle and confuse; somehow, it makes sense and flourishes under the trio’s watchful eyes and ears. On the punk-driven “Cactus Party,” featuring Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes and Buzz Osbourne’s side-project Crystal Fairy, the band explores lighter, atypical territory than on massive, sludge-driven tracks like “Euthanasia.” Melvins are veterans of reinventing the wheel of “heavy” and have, again, ventured outside the confines of the word. You TEDDIE TAYLOR will love Death. musicandriots.com
WELCOME BACK! Shervin Lainez
L THE MOVIELIFE Cities In Search Of A Heart Rise Records (2017)
ong Island band The Movielife have reignited after going on a hiatus. And the act are back with a new record which is their first outing since 2003’s Forty Hour Train Back To Penn. The band disbanded 14 years ago, but after a few shows in 2015, they’ve officially returned to make their mark on pop punk once again. And the band are searching for clarity. It’s heard in these songs that life is taking a turn for the worst, as the lyrical content strikes emotions inner core. Frontman of The Movielife Vincent Caruanna, seeks assurance, but receives little. His voice pounds the mic, battering through like a battering ram, but he loosens the tone, letting his fears flutter around him. The band’s new record Cities In Search Of A Heart, is dark, arresting and highly infectious, bolstering a wonderful catalogue of heartrending songs. And with this opus, The Movielife power through thoughts, darkness, and images of danger, to bring forward tracks as complete as “Mercy At The Wheel” and “Lake Superior”. MARK MCCONVILLE
THE BRONX V
Cooking Vinyl / ATO Records (2017)
Los Angeles based punk rock “Mariachi gang” The Bronx is back with a new album. Their fifth record, named after the band, just like previous four efforts is ready to drop another dose of dirty, filthy punk rock on everyone who gets in touch with it. I can’t help myself, but to imagine an old stereo in a car mechanic workshop, with a huge bearded guy, tattooed head to toe, hands black from oil, working on an old-school Cadillac. The red one, of course. In every riff, in every scream of their record, The Bronx emit pure wildness, combining punk rock pace, energy and simplicity with hard rock riffs, and noisy distortions. If you loved their previous works, don’t sleep on this one. MILJAN MILEKIC
THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE 10/10 Always Foreign Epitaph (2017)
THE COATHANGERS Parasite EP
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die are normally known for their blissful and boisterous cinematic music, yet on their third album Always Foreign, TWIABP have traded in that delicateness for a much darker thought-provoking sound. Written shortly after the election, Always Foreign confronts a variety of the afflictions Americans face today such as opioid epidemic, xenophobia and even emotional abuse in relationships. While all the songs are truly moving in TWIABP fashion, sprawling intricate layered arrangements always a must, Always Foreign stands out as lyrically fraught with raw emotionality, anger, want for resistance, and a resounding proclamation for people to wake up and face the demons that have taken over. A much needed call to action needed. ANNAYELLI FLORES
Atlanta, GA’s The Coathangers are a hold-no-punches trio making catchy, empowering indie-rock. Just a year after their last full-length, Nosebleed Weekend, they have released the Parasite EP, which features four new tracks and an alternate version of “Down Down,” one of the stars of the aforementioned LP. Sharing vocal duties as always, the sweet-and-sharp voices of Julia Kugel (Crook Kid Coathanger) and Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger) contrast the deeper, abrasive notes provided by drummer Stephanie Luke (Rusty Coathanger). Parasite is another solid collection from the group; while the first two tracks, “Parasite” and “Wipe Out,” are not entirely revolutionary, “Captain’s Dead” and “Drifter,” the mesmerizing closing ballad, are exciting glimpses into the band’s future. TEDDIE TAYLOR
Suicide Squeeze Records (2017)
BLACK METAL HEROES RETURN Velesa Thorsson
A WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM Thrice Woven Artemisia Records (2017)
TURNOVER Good Nature
Run for Cover Records (2017)
Strip back the leaves of Turnovers cover art and you’ll reveal the shangra la-esque dreamland that Good Nature comes from. From what seemed like a far darker place with no prospect of light (Peripheral Vision), the latest Turnover’s album Good Nature is a nod to what can come after times of despair. If an album ever reflected the journey of a person, this is the one which saw frontman Austin Getz become vegan and move to his new spiritual home California to create indie dream pop. Noteworthy songs on the album are “Super Natural”, “What Got In The Way” and “Breeze”, which all show the band in a new light moving away from the melancholy of past work. JOSH COOMBS
fter the strange beauty of Celestite, Thrice Woven sounds like a redirection of Wolves’ original blueprint – to create a strain of black metal true to themselves and no-one else. Progressive without fussiness, majestic but blessedly free of pomp, it’s a curious joining of neo-folk introspection and the cold brutality of the second wave, shifting woozily from icy blastbeats and roaring flurries of tremolo to campfire acoustica and back. It’s an incredibly strong work, but what is truly remarkable is how well they have utilised the album’s guest appearances, with Steve Von Till (Neurosis) adding a brooding air of solemnity to “The Old Ones Are With Us” and Anna Von Hausswolf’s strangely formless voice adding delicacy and power to opener “Born From The Serpent’s Eye”. It’s executed with such organic flair that even the Coil-leaning tranquillity of “Mother Owl, Father Ocean” fits the album’s curious flow with ease. Even for iconoclasts like Wolves..., Thrice Woven is a brave move that never falters, never stumbles – it simply strides proudly forward. DAVE BOWES
TYLER THE CREATOR Flower Boy
Odd Future/Columbia (2017)
Tyler, The Creator is in a “sweet spot” on the 4th album of his career. We’re talking about an artist who created one of the most respected collectives of the last few years, Odd Future, but on a musical level with only some interesting singles like “Yonkers”, he never had an album of excellence (either individually or with Odd Future). In Flower Boy, we feel Tyler has delivered his most focused record ever, with one of the best sets of themes of his career. The production specifically to his care reflects a fragile and carefully crafted personal album with clear words and a more pop and R&B ambience in general, creatively being able to associate himself with the best that has been done in LA. RUI CORREIA
Neurot Recordings (2017)
Neither a band to change a winning formula nor one to rest on their laurels, Ufomammut have spent each album steadily pushing each facet of their sound a little step closer to its Hawkwindian climax; 8 sees the riffs get bigger, the vibes get hairier and the volume get nearer to seismic disturbance levels. As much as it is a ritualistic exercise in sonic devastation there are moments that remind us that Ufomammut like a good hook buried in the skull as much as anyone, so when “Warsheep” kicks into a mammoth Sleep swagger at the halfway point, it just feels right. Buy this album, play it loud and forget about time, space, the id and the ego – there is only the riff. Embrace the riff. DAVE BOWES
NEW EMOTIONAL DEPTH
WILLIAM PATRICK CORGAN Ogilala Martha’s Music/BMG (2017)
Smashing Pumpkins frontman, William Patrick Corgan returns with his second solo album Ogilala. Totally stripped down and fully personal, Corgan’s distinct voice leads the way in one of the most compelling and clever works of his career. Produced by Rick Rubin and recorded at Shangri La studios in Malibu, Ogilala is an immersive effort, that explores Corgan’s mindset and emotional depth - Rubin cleverly played with that really well. Assuredly delivering raspy croons, intense piano displays, epic string arrangements and pleasant acoustic guitars, the passion behind his voice infuses his lyrics with a deeply affecting intimacy, probably the first time we see Corgan so vulnerable and personal. From “Zowie,” a tribute to David Bowie, to the piano driven “Aeronaut”, there’s a huge sense of melancholia and introspection on many of the songs. It’s fair to say that sounds completely different from his vast catalogue, but he is again FAUSTO CASAIS exploring new grounds and Ogilala is exactly that.
HOT NEW BAND
Southern Lord (2017)
Perhaps because NY has never been short of legends, it’s all too easy to overlook Unsane’s achievements over the past 30 years, but thankfully they are still putting out albums like Sterilize to remind us. From the sickening groove of “Factory,” Dave Curran’s bass rattle as relentless as the L train steamrolling across a jumper’s neck through to the steady prowl of “Avail”, this is as close to a ‘classic’ Unsane sound as you’re ever going to get from them. It’s infectious yet visceral, a collection of riffs spattered with rust and gore underpinned by Chris Spencer’s desperately muffled howls and skewed shrieks of guitar, and just as with the band’s best, it’s made all the more attractive by its unpalatable nature. DAVE BOWES
US AND US ONLY Full Flower
Topshelf Records (2017)
fter seven years of releasing singles and EPs, Baltimore alt-rockers Us & Us Only finally bring forth their debut album. Taking advantage of that full-length
record to weave a larger tapestry of their sound, the band don’t cut to the chase with the alt-rock power like in their earlier works, and show more patience cultivating their sonic ambience. Using gentler melodic elements like piano, violin, and acoustic guitar to accompany frontman Kinsey Matthews’ tranquil vocals in songs like “Shame,” “Veiled/Forming,” “way2loud,” and “Winter Sails,” the album harnesses more of a dream pop vibe altogether. As timid as its first impressions may be, Us & Us Only know how to keep this quaint sound from being a snooze. Lower tempos don’t restrict the rhythm section from forming some good grooves (especially with some smartly syncopated drumbeats), and the soft soundscapes make way for the dual guitars to play with more intertwining, particularity heard in “Bored Of Black,” “My Mouth,” and “Lawn.” And though the band seldom kicks into the stronger guitar distortion, those few moments of loudness are all the more resonant, whether in the grungy chorus of the eponymous song, or the penultimate post-rock cut of “Dresses.”
CHARMING, TIMELESS INDIE-POP Aaron Lee
O YUMI ZOUMA Willowbank Cascine (2017)
VINCE STAPLES Big Fish Theory Def Jam (2017)
The Los Angeles artist has been working steadily since his first EP Hell Can Wait, for the debut album Summertime ‘06 and the EP Prima Donna. The new album Big Fish Theory continues the exploration of the rapper Vince Staples through the same artistic path that we’ve come accustomed with in his best moments: incisive, suggestive and intelligent lyrics supported in flows (premeditatedly) monotonous and paradoxically supported by baffling beats of uncertain rhythms and influenced by electronic traits that range from the warm beaches of the west coast to the breezy chill of London. The combination results in a coherent album that finds some of the best moments when Vince gives space to guests to enter into his somewhat dystopic world. RUI CORREIA
n their sophomore effort, Yumi Zouma are ready to conquer the dream pop world with one of the most engaging and well-crafted efforts of 2017. Willowbank was recorded last December around the Christmas holidays in the warm New Zealand summer as these internationally dispersed New Zealanders decided to head home to record this album, making it the first significant work written and recorded entirely in their home country. There’s such an old-timey, calming and peaceful flair to the vocals on Willowbank. Christie Simpson’s vocals are charming and expressive, making you to easily fall in love Yumi Zouma’s moody and perfectly balanced shifts and very own sonic exploration. Willowbank flows seamlessly from song to song, from their dance floor driven single “Persephone” to their moody and tender lead single “December”. An album that flows on you and creates this sense of spontaneous originality and immediate passion. FAUSTO CASAIS
WILD ONES Mirror Touch
Topshelf Records (2017)
Portland’s Wild Ones consist of vocalist Danielle Sullivan, keyboardist Thomas Himes, drummer Seve Sheldon, guitarist Nick Vicario, and bassist Max Stein, and they’ve been together for seven years, creating authentic and meaningful indie music. The band’s new effort, Mirror Touch, explores mirror-touch synesthesia, a condition that allows one person to feel the same sensations as another. They also explore themes of isolation and loneliness, bursting with songs about being left and shutting off from the world. Combining such dark lyrical themes with upbeat synth pop melodies, all songs come together as a natural balance between the real world and dreamy sounds, while Danielle’s vocal makes you feel melancholic throughout the whole album. ANDREIA ALVES
WREN Auburn Rule
Holy Roar Records (2017)
Recently, I have found my love of music is reserved mainly for those who subvert and rebuild old genres in new fashion. Architects of sound who take genre and defy and redefine its core purpose for new endeavors, a cacophony of low end, guitars that build rapturously heavy foundations upon which the songs continually build and coruscate off of. It’s shoegaze by another name. Deep, rumbling unease throughout rather than sparkling effects and hypnotizing rhythm. It’s hardcore with brains, its alt-rock with heart and a passive aggression that is still frighteningly oppressing. Auburn Rule is about as heavy an album as I have heard this year, yet, it lacks any real distortion, it has no real aggressive core – it’s just heavy thanks to a looming and pervasive ambience, and a belief in its own sound. ANDI CHAMBERLAIN
BREAKING BOUNDARIES IN EXPERIMENTAL POP WITH ZOLA JESUS...
ZOLA JESUS Okovi
Sacred Bones Records (2017)
aiga was a statement, a strong one, which inspired confidence, strength, and a sense of power and control. It can even be argued to be Zola’s definitive step towards finding her own identity in a way. Okovi recognizes and embraces its predecessor, even though its nature is rather different. Okovi changes the spotlight, and instead of the self the attention mainly goes to what’s around. It’s about what keeps us always around, the shackles (Okovi is a Slavic word for shackles) – “(…) life, to death, to bodies, to minds, to illness, to people, to birthright, to duty.” And it’s from that deep state of reflection and introspection that is born what’s arguably the most accomplished album of Zola Jesus’s career. More fulfilling in terms of how is constructed, arranged, layered, and beautifully designed sonically, Okovi wouldn’t probably be as imposing and captivating if it wasn’t for the work previously developed with Taiga. But that’s how Nika Roza Danilova operates, one step informing the next one, always moving upward. From one of the most gratifying pop experiences from 2014 rises something even more gripping and enthralling. The lushness of the productions feels, at times, unreal, and Zola’s voice exudes an exciting flexibility and control even with the record being as deeply emotive and humanly complex as it is. Wonderful and extremely rewarding. TIAGO MOREIRA
REVIEWED ON OUR NEXT ISSUE
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NO AGE Snares Like A Haircut musicandriots.com
DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson, Jovan Adepo, Amanda Chiu, Patricia Summersett, Eric Davis, Raphael Grosz-Harvey, Emily Hampshire, Kristen Wiig USA 2017
k, let’s take a minute to think about what Mother! really meant to you… Great! Let me guess, you probably had a lot of mixed feelings about it and you have for sure concluded that you’re probably too dumb to understand the movie. You probably think you’re too politically correct to think this was too much or just plain and simple hated the movie because you somehow felt that Aronofsky went too far on this one… Mother! is an unexpected, disturbing, challenging and an unparalleled triumph; perhaps too revolutionary and brilliant for this era of studio filmmaking. It gives a new meaning to what psychological thrillers should stand for, but it also makes you experience something that will really fuck you up. Mother! is a distinctive, dazzlingly metaphorical and extremely critical work that will make you feel uncomfortable and confused. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are wife and husband living out in the country. He’s a poet experiencing a serious writer’s block while she’s renovating their house. The story starts when two unexpected guests, Ed Harris and his sex on legs wife and then their two troubling sons (Brian Gleeson and Domhnall Gleeson) show up. What happens next? Let’s just leave it there as we don’t want to give away any spoilers, because this movie is open to any kind of interpretation. From hate theories to some kind of allegory in the way the whole narrative goes. Mother! is a film with obvious biblical content, from Mother Earth to God, from Adam and Eve to their sons Abel and Cain, it also tackles the whole society over the years, its progress and downfall. There are religious and political references but also an empowering feminist stand and a strong emphasis on climatic changes. Aronofsky tackles everything with his raw attitude, he does nothing to force undue sentiment, because he goes straight to the jugular. The dominant mood alternates between weirdness, madness and terror and it will not leave anyone indifferent. Mother! is a masterpiece. A revolutionary experience in filmmaking, a movie that will generate hypocritical hate, dishonest and cynic reviews, but in 10 to 20 years everyone is going to talk about it like a true classic, a revolutionary piece that will at some point get its deserved praise. FAUSTO CASAIS
DIRECTOR: Taylor Sheridan STARRING: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen UK/CANADA/USA 2017
Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water, Sicario), Wind River follows a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) who teams up with a local game tracker with deep community ties and a haunted past (Jeremy Renner) to investigate the murder of a local girl on the Wind River Indian Reservation, in Wyoming. Throughout the film, we get to know more about these two characters in particular and how deep they get into the girl’s mysterious death. It’s a hell on an intense journey and it deals with some political awareness as well. Engaging and compelling, Wind River is definitely a must see film, not only because of its strong storyline, but how it is developed and performed in such a striking way. ANDREIA ALVES
HOUNDS OF LOVE
DIRECTOR: Ben Young STARRING: Emma Booth, Ashleigh Cummings, Stephen Curry, Susie Porter, Damian de Montemas, Harrison Gilbertson, Steve Turner AUSTRALIA 2017
n his directorial debut, writer-director Ben Young proves with Hounds of Love that he knows how to create an impressive horror movie. Loosely inspired by real- life murderers David and Catherine Birnie, it is set in Perth, Australia, and the plot centres around a couple of serial killers who go after teenage girls, kidnapping and torturing them. Not every act of cruelty is seen, but they are always heard; in both cases, the atmosphere is tense and suffocating, sometimes almost unbearable. However, unlike Wolf Creek, another well-known Australian horror movie, Hounds of Love isn’t violent for the sake of pleasing bloodthirsty fans – it’s much more than that. There’s an element of drama that makes the story not only better, but surprisingly scarier. The main target (but not the first) of the deranged couple is Vicki Maloney (played by Ashleigh Cummings in a great and extremely convincing performance), but she isn’t the only one suffering: Evelyn White (a demanding role Emma Booth plays to perfection) seems at first just as diabolical as her despicable husband John (a dark, twisted character actor/comedian Stephen Curry nails it), but we slowly learn she’s a deeply disturbed woman who, deep down, wants to get out of this horrible reality; in many ways, she is a victim just like the ones she has a hand in kidnapping. Vicki takes advantage of this, but also displays concern towards Evelyn, maybe because she comes from a broken home and knows what it’s like to be miserable. Vicki certainly wasn’t happy before all this took place: their parents got divorced and that made her angry and confused; at one point, she ends up getting into a heated argument with her mother Maggie and decides, in an act of defiance, to attend a party after being told not to. On her way there, she meets the dangerous couple, marking the beginning of an intense journey. It’s fascinating to see how Ben Young portrays the female characters. The women are put in tough scenarios - being held captive and stuck in unhealthy relationships - that they must overcome in order to be free. Even Maggie desperately searches for happiness and peace, and she will not rest until she finds her missing daughter. It’s certainly not often these days to find such a compelling horror/thriller, one which manages to be uncomfortably realistic and makes the viewer think about its emotionally complex story. In recent times, we have seen some remarkable horror movies coming from Australia – Babadook by Jennifer Kent being a perfect example. However, its content may result in Hounds of Love not getting the attention and recognition it deserves, which would be a shame since it is really well written and beautifully shot. On the other hand, it has everything to become a cult classic. Whatever happens, Ben Young has something special here. JORGE ALVES
A GHOST STORY
DIRECTOR: David Lowery STARRING: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, McColm Cephas Jr., Kenneisha Thompson USA 2017
t some point, we all have to accept that we won’t be here forever and there’s nothing we can do about it. A Ghost Story, written and directed by David Lowery, explores this subject by following the journey of a recently deceased man (Casey Affleck) who becomes a white-sheeted ghost and is forced to watch the love of his life (Rooney Mara) and the legacy he had built slip away while he’s unable to move on. Not much is said, but a lot is seen and felt. The dialogue is sparse and only used when needed, but the images advance the plot and evoke strong emotions. When Rooney Mara eats a pie while sobbing, we feel her pain; when Affleck travels through time without a clear destination we relate to that because we’ve all been figuratively lost. Hauntingly beautiful and highly meditative, this movie is truly special. JORGE ALVES
DIRECTOR: Andy Muschietti STARRING: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake SimBogaert, Stuart Hughes, Geoffrey Pounsett, USA/CANADA 2017
T is back from the sewers, scaring the innocence out of children and playing on more than just a fear of killer clowns. Stephen King’s IT brings a whole new look at coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) feeding off the hysteria that last Autumn saw a media frenzy feasting on the killer clown epidemic. IT has managed to recapture fear in the heart of many with it now becoming Stephen King’s most grossed book tuned to film in opening weekend figures. Set in Derry Maine, where children go missing six times more than adults, IT is lurking in the sewers. Having woken from a long sleep IT is back to plague the people of Derry with fear reminding them all that “we all float down here”. IT is set in the 80’s, unlike the original, and it follows the story of the self-proclaimed “Loser Club” kids as they battle more than just what lurks in the shadowy depths of the town. Each of the kids has their own individual fears and IT prays on these hoping to turn them against one another. A number of kids have gone missing in Derry and it takes the interest of an unlikely hero called Ben who is the new kid in town to realise what’s going on. Ben quickly makes friends with the “Loser Club” sharing many of their adolescent worries of growing up, girls and bullies. The reboot of Pennywise the dancing clown brings along with it a circus of the expected jump scares, along with authentic acting from a cast who did not see Bill Skarsgard (IT) until a month into shooting the film. Many of the themes in this film will remind the audience of how real a fear is unless you are JOSH COOMBS forced to face it, especially the ones that are 7ft tall and have a scary resemblance to women putting on lipstick in the dark.
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright STARRING: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Lily James UK/USA 2017 8/10
THE BIG SICK
DIRECTOR: Michael Showalter STARRING: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter USA 2017
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver for Doc (Kevin Spacey), a heist mastermind, just to pay off a debt he incurred after stealing one of Doc’s cars. When he’s behind the wheel, he’s fast and tenacious, and what keeps him so damn good is listening to music on his iPod. When he was a child, a car accident killed his parents and left him with tinnitus, which he blocks out by listening to music. After meeting a waitress named Debora (Lily James) at a local diner, his heart and mind are driven for something more. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver is one of the most exciting, charming, exhilarating and even stylish films of this year. Fueled by a killer soundtrack, Baby Driver is a hell of a ride that you really want to be part of. ANDREIA ALVES
Based on a true story, The Big Sick tells the story of Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail (Nanjiani), who meets grad student Emily (Kazan) on one of his standup sets. What started as a onenight stand becomes something more serious. Kumail’s traditional Muslim parents don’t take it that well, which leads to the end of their relationship. When Emily gets sick with an unknown illness, life gets much harder for Kumail and he starts to see things from a different angle. Portraying a multicultural romance with quite funny, quirky, heartfelt moments shows how much comedy and real life go hand in hand. Life is not meant to be all that serious, even with its ups and downs, and this film has shown that in most intelligent and touching way. ANDREIA ALVES
DIRECTOR: Benedict Andrews STARRING: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn UK/CANADA/USA 2017
Based on the play Blackbird, the debut feature film by Benedict Andrews examines how a specific event can haunt you forever, even when you try to move on. Rooney Mara plays Una, a troubled woman once involved in a physical relationship with an older man (Ben Mendelsohn) who decides to confront him. We soon learn that her feelings for Ray (now named Pete) are very complex, and so is he: instead of a heartless monster, we are introduced to a morally ambiguous character, someone who took advantage of a minor but who’s seemingly doing what he can to put his dark past behind him and lead a normal life. Not every scene is perfect, but overall this is a beautiful, touching and refreshingly sensitive movie featuring brilliant and intense performances. JORGE ALVES
FILM & TV
THE BAD BATCH
DIRECTOR: Ana Lily Amirpour STARRING: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Jayda Fink, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Yolonda Ross, Aye Hasegawa, Giovanni Ribisi, Louie Lopez Jr., E.R. Ruiz, Cory Roberts, Joni Podesta, Almayvonne, Danielle Orner, Mandy Pursley, Alina Aliluykina USA 2017
fter A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Ana Lily Amirpour returns with The Bad Batch, an impressive thriller set in a dystopian universe inspired by the Mad Max franchise. However, the movie is allegorical: with Donald Trump hell-bent on shamelessly banning immigrants whom he considers dangerous, Amirpour took that and created a land full of rejects, where violence (often in the form of cannibalism) reigns supreme and where a small community called “Comfort”, run by a charming but corrupt leader known as “The Dream” exists and manipulates people. Well shot, well-paced and with sound as a crucial element (there are scenes which resemble a music video), the talented director once again gives us a cinematic masterpiece and accurately portraits the dark side of America in a surrealistic manner. JORGE ALVES
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE
DIRECTOR: Aki Kaurismäki STARRING: Dome Karukoski, Ville Virtanen FINLAND/GERMANY 2017
he man who shares stories about those that society and other storytellers don’t care about, returned to the big screen. Six years after releasing award-winning Le Havre, Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki gives us another glimpse into the refugee crisis with The Other Side of Hope, which shares the adventures of a Syrian asylum-seeker who tries to build a new life in Helsinki. The film, which won Kaurismäki the best director prize in Berlin earlier this year, says everything and nothing about the human dilemmas the current political climate in Europe presents us with. The stunning cinematography, the deadpan humour and the impeccable storytelling we have learnt to expect from the Finnish filmmaker are all there, but what really makes this film stand out is the attention it brings to those day to day, small details and emotions that we all have to deal with, a great way to highlight that despite our differences, we are all entitled to our own feelings and can be fragile. Will The Other Side of Hope be Kaurismäki’s swansong? It all comes down to film laboratories as he shoots on film and has stated he won’t switch to digital. We certainly hope it isn’t. ANASTASIA PSARRA
NOS PRIMAVERA SOUND Parque Da Cidade, Porto (PT)
Words: Fausto Casais & Andreia Alves // Photos: Hugo Lima & Hugo Sousa
OS Primavera Sound returned to Porto last Summer, once again the perfect scenario with some of the most interesting and innovating artists on the menu were on our menu. The beach was still there, the green grass and the whole natural beauty of the venue was still there, unfortunately this is not Barcelona where the line-up is always insanely good, this is NOS Primavera Sound in Porto, and it seems that this year something went terribly wrong, from the weak line-up to the quality of sound of almost every single show. Let’s start with our problem with the line-up. Putting it simple, it was boring, built on hype and with no pushing-forward artists that really could bring some excitement to the whole event. Thankfully, Run The Jewels, Against Me!, Nikki Lane, Elza Soares and Death Grips gave us something to smile for. It was painful to see Cigarettes After Sex opening the fest, especially because we need at least a bit of more intimacy to enjoy such moody sound, not as an opening act on a sunny day, but frontman Greg Gonzalez was good enough to have the audience on his hand and capture their attention with Cigarettes After Sex’s hypnotic, almost vintage cinematic indie rock. Thankfully, Run The Jewels saved the first day! The collaborative efforts of EL-P and Killer Mike proved to Porto why they’re one of the best hip-hop acts on
the planet. El-P’s lethal humour and Killer Mike’s real attitude and political stand were intoxicatingly good, with enough energy to illuminate the whole night. On day 2, everything started “for us” with the one and only Angel Olsen. Unfortunately, and after a great start, with songs like “Shut Up Kiss Me” and “Not Gonna Kill You”, even with Olsen’s great vocal delivery trying to join the dots, the overall result was a bit sour, because it went from charming and exciting to boring as hell. Nikki Lane was next and she was there to cause trouble, the perfect country outlaw to entertain us and with the ability to break hearts in every single town she goes. It was the first time we realized that we were on NOS Primavera Sound, where we find an artist that totally encapsulates the thrill that is attending Primavera Sound. Best show of the day? For sure! Julien Baker was next on the menu. With a stunning backdrop of an LGBT flag, Baker delivered one of the most intense and emotional powerful performances of the whole fest. Last day, and the day to have Steve Albini killing our ears with the return of Shellac, another year with Shellac on the menu is enough to realize that we’ve seen uncle Albini too many times in the past couple of years, and that’s so rad! Time to run for Mitski’s show now… And her angst driven indie rock was an absolute triumph. Her intense vocal delivery was outstanding, easily demonstrating the emotional weight and solicitude of her lyrics.
It might be a bit strange to say that Death Grips was the heaviest band of the whole event, which is quite strange when we look at the line-up in Barcelona and we have so many heavy acts. Well, it has been quite weird to see that over the years, the good folks of NOS Primavera Sound are letting go so many rock based acts… About Death Grips performance, it was the punishing and menacing act that we’ve been waiting for. There are so many noise layers in their abrasive sound, everything sounded chaotically cerebral and it’s fair to say that we witnessed the show of one of the most innovating acts of this century. Against Me! continues to be one of the best live bands in the world, so it was kind of weird to have them on Pitchfork stage and with less than 50 people to watch them. Laura Jane Grace is one of the most iconic and strong frontwoman in punk, and on the last day they delivered a memorable and striking show. It was impossible not to sing along to their songs and to be energized and inspired by their engaging and amazing attitude. Well worth the time waited just to see them as they were one of the last bands to play at the festival. Overall, this year’s Primavera Sound wasn’t at all unforgettable or even just something that made us feel really fulfilled after walking out the venue. It seemed like what mattered the most was the whole festival environment or whatever, and not the music itself, and that’s quite shameful. Let’s see what next year brings.
BE PROG! MY FRIEND Poble Espanyol, Barcelona (ES)
Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Antonio Sediles Between the continually rising appeal of Steven Wilson and Opeth and the birth of a new generation of Rush and Yes fans, it’s fair to say that prog has had something of a revival in recent years, and Be Prog! My Friend has been its European home for the past five years, embracing old and new with equal fervour. It’s a case of “Go big or go home” as the festival kicks off with Caligula’s Horse, their cunning fusion of djent, brute-force riffing and monstrous hooks enough to snare the early attendees. Jim Grey is an affable and enthusiastic frontman and though it’s a festival where technicality will be the order of the day, the chops of Sam Vallen and Adrian Goleby are nonetheless impressive. Animals As Leaders, meanwhile, are short on words yet their massive psychedelic sprawl speaks volumes in and of itself. At any moment, they can be world-engulfingly expansive and then tight enough to crush bones, and the continuous push and pull makes for an oddly disorienting experience. Judging by the volume of Dream Theater shirts in attendance, Mike Portnoy’s Shattered Fortress is today’s big draw. A vessel for Portnoy, backed by assorted members of Haken and Neal Morse Band, to tour his five-piece “Shattered Fortress” suite, along with a few choice DT cuts, it’s a balanced and vigorous performance from all, and though Ross Jennings make a spirited show of making this material his own, the rhythmic supremacy of Portnoy was always going to be the show-stealer. There’s a feeling that even for those who have followed Marillion throughout the decades, tonight is a special occasion. Given that Steve Hogarth once described “The Invisible Man” as the best thing they’d ever done, there’s little surprise as to what they choose to lead with, but the suites which make up the bulk of last year’s F E A R show their true strength, namely their continuing relevance to rock and to political art as a whole. Hogarth has a voice that was made for storytelling and so it doesn’t take much for him to quickly snatch the attention of the crowd, while Steve Rothery picks up the narrative and runs with it. They make their two hours seem like a fraction of that, and when “3 Minute Boy” signs them off, it’s with as much oomph and flair as they can muster. There’s a noticeable thinning of the crowd by the time Ulver take stage but once the beats start, whatever stragglers remain crush down to stageside to take in the greatest synthpop set that the ‘80s never produced. Performing The Assassination of Julius Caesar in full, it’s yet another stylistic sidestep for the band who once performed an impromptu set of ‘60s psych covers, and it works precisely because of the band’s nebulous artistic approach. Kris Rygg’s laser-like focus is repurposed into deconstructing Depeche Mode and Coil while lyrically channelling millennia of history, making for a dramatic yet immensely danceable comedown to the day. They may be the only native band on the bill, and the crowd may be looking a little the worse for wear, but Jardin de la Croix open day two with the air of visiting dignitaries. It’s a curious blend of slick technicality and emotive wall-of-noise post-metallicism, and there’s enough hooks buried amongst the tangle of off-kilter chuggery to keep even the hungover and still-asleep watching. A few technical hitches sets the Devin Townsend Project’s Ocean Machine run-through back by 15 minutes, leading to a bizarre self-deprecating stand-up routine from the follicly challenged one, but when amps return to life, so Townsend shifts into full-on rock mode. If Ocean Machine marked a transition for Townsend, this is something of a return to form, capturing the raw emotionality of “Sister” while breathing new energy into “Life”. Given the hitches, it occasionally feels a little rushed but for those who waited 20 years to hear some of this material it has more than been done justice. There’s certainly a bit more finesse for Anathema’s turn on-stage. From opener “Untouchable”, Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas show themselves to be one of the finest double acts in rock, the former coarse croon so tied to Douglas’s angelic accompaniment that they seem to operate as a single voice. Their siblings provide a refined backdrop to a set that harks back to 2004’s A Natural Disaster, the title track letting Douglas truly shine before “Distant Satellites” percussive onslaught brings the curtain down. There are few more revered amongst these circles than Jethro Tull. Led by Ian Anderson, they cut a merry swathe through triedand-tested material classics like “Thick As A Brick” and “Songs From The Wood” with the energy of demented nymphs, Anderson cavorting like Pan to John O’Hara’s otherworldly accompaniment; though the crowd has largely been muted in comparison to yesterday, “Aqualung” sparks a fire under them that sends cheers (and camera phones) aloft. Spirited, weird and utterly enrapturing, if there’s one band that captures the spirit of this festival, it’s Jethro Tull. If you’re going to finish a weekend like this, you have to be prepared to pull something spectacular out of the bag, which is just what Leprous does. Their opting for a fan-selected set gives the crowd a few once-in-a-lifetime treats, most notably the live debut of “From The Flame” and a spine-chilling run-through of “The Flood”, Einar Solberg’s presence as delicate as it is devastating. Focused, unpredictable and seemingly as emotional for the crowd as it is for the band, this it’s performances like this that are why Be Prog! My Friend exists. You wouldn’t be seeing this at Download, that’s for sure.
Animal As Leaders
Devin Towsend Project
TOUCHÉ AMORÉ + CODE ORANGE Hard Club, Porto (PT)
Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Fausto Casais
he second performance of their first visit to Portugal, Code Orange and Touché Amoré stepped on the stage to provide an unforgettable night to whoever was attending. First Code Orange, presenting their magnificent new album Forever, with one of the most destructive and chaotic performances in recent memory. It’s well known how impactful their latest full-length was and is, but nothing could prepare the audience for the band’s incredibly powerful mix of punk/metal/hardcore/industrial. They are the future of extreme music. Touché Amoré, who are known for their constant touring, brought to the stage their most mature and evolved work to date, the emotionally-driven and highly personal Stage Four, which is mostly about the passing of vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s mother. With Bolm leading the performance with his heartfelt vocals, the post-hardcore outfit displayed to perfection their vital, melodic, and very sophisticated sound. A lean performance from one of the most enthralling and talented rock-based acts around.
Hard Club, Porto (PT)
Words: Fausto Casais // Photo: Andreia Alves
IM have announced a farewell tour, closing the final chapter on their 26 year career. We can’t even say that we were surprised about it, somehow it sounded like a natural thing, we all knew that the love metal pioneers have made their history, built a legacy and end this journey the best way possible. On this particular night, everything felt like an emotional goodbye, w ith a sold out venue, unbearable heat, it was a celebration of love metal and genuine communion between old school fans and young fans. The set slaps through the band’s career, taking in such iconic anthems as “Buried Alive By Love”, “Your Sweet Six Six Six”, “Killing Loneliness”, Chris Isak’s “Wicked Game”, “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly”, “Funeral of Hearts”, they finish the night with 2 encores and the whole performance with Billy Idol’s “Rebell Yell”. HIM’s charismatic singer Ville Valo looked looser than ever, actually in good shape, and on stage the Finish love metal gods don’t just look comfortable, they look that they fucking own the place.
MELT-BANANA Maus Hábitos, Porto (PT)
Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Andreia Alves
apan’s Melt-Banana were formed in 1992 and in these 25 years they were able to to stun generations of music fans, musicians and specialized press, with their sonority that managed to reach a level of singularity that only most of us could have dreamt of. Making their debut in Portugal and presenting their latest full-length album, Fetch, the duo composed by Yasuko Onuki and Ichirou Agata brought to the stage their current incarnation, which features pre-programmed drums. With the venue filled with people what followed was their incredible cacophonic set that mixed brilliantly grindcore (there were moments that the audience seemed to react as Napalm Death were playing in front of them), noise, pop, experimental, and always with their incredibly energetic attitude. It was a weird, delightful, and remarkable experience all-around.
Gang Of Four
REVERENCE FESTIVAL Ribeira de Santarém, Santarém (PT) Words & Photo: Ricardo Almeida
Garage, Glasgow (UK) Words: Dave Bowes
MINUS THE BEAR Stereo, Glasgow (UK) Words: Dave Bowes
t’s always been a curious thing to watch Minus The Bear develop from mathy Botch offshoot to what they are today, a sharply witty indie unit who can release acoustic EPs as strong as their studio output. If the shift has alienated older fans, performances like tonight’s seem like an earnest (and wholly successful) attempt to reunite both camps. It’s a greatest hits set in the best sense, and even though they open with newer offering “Last Kiss”, it has enough of that old spark that when ‘Knights’ and, delving further back, “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” are trotted out shortly thereafter, Jake Snider’s charming bluster and the gangly, impossibly deft guitar work of Dave Knudson plot a neat curve between all three. Though Knudson is still an engrossing figure to watch, tapping out spry melodies that always stay on the right side of danceable despite their taut precision, and Snider manages to lend a kind of earnest relevance to their tales of lost loves, good friends and Eurotrash globetrotting, it’s Joshua Sparks who surprises the most. Despite being a recent addition to the band’s touring line-up, he locks their performance down tight while injecting enough flair to make his own mark on what is arguably others’ material. It’s a celebratory performance all round that puts in context the myriad evolutions of one of indie rock’s most singular outfits, and hearing them like this, it’s hard to deny that it makes perfect sense.
here’s something of an art form to choosing the ideal setlist, particularly when it comes to bands with a rich and diverse musical history who continue to put out top-tier releases. That’s the situation that Swedish prog-goth-doom troupe Katatonia find themselves in but the resultant set isn’t just commendable, it’s a masterpiece. Placing equal importance on classics and recent cuts, they segue seamlessly between “Old Hearts Fall”, one of the catchiest takes from last year’s The Fall Of Hearts and “Teargas”, an almost romantic pound that was likely the entry point to the band for some of tonight’s crowd. The smoothness of the transitions showcases not only the band’s understated technicality, Daniel Moilanen’s sharp fills and unrelenting power the backbone of their jagged immediacy, but also the development of their gorgeously progressive embellishments, Jonas Renske guiding them from lovers’ laments to icy rage. Given the recent anniversary of The Great Cold Distance, it’s fitting that “July” and “My Twin” are given such importance tonight, rekindling a wistfully aggressive spirit that few have ever captured quite so perfectly, and “Leaders” simply floors the room, Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson locking in tight to its snaking, utterly colossal opening while Renske works the crowd with a verve at odds with his typically introverted stage presence. It’s rare that a show can be called flawless yet nothing else does tonight’s performance justice. Katatonia showed that they could marry melody, passion, progression and intelligence with an elegant ease, and in doing so demonstrated that there has never, and will never, be anyone who can stand on equal footing with them.
hen there’s not much to go home to at the end of the day, music tends to saves us. That might seem overdramatic and off by miles for those whose mental health doesn’t depend on sound, and who’d never fly somewhere in the morning to attend to a concert only to fly back home immediately afterwards. But it’s for those who can picture themselves in that scenario that I am writing, anyway. A lot of things went utterly wrong within the last edition of Reverence Festival, this time in Santarem, Portugal. And even though the music and the companionship made it bearable, that’s not enough of a reason for us to be happy about what happened there. Huge delays, defective facilities, few clues about how to get there, limited food options and, above all, lack of attendance that can only be justified by some questionable line-up options. I’m not being harsh on the organization for the sake of being an asshole, I’m truly not. I mean, all of this with the hope that they can make it better next time – if there ever is a next time. It’s very hard to understand how such a nice and welcoming Festival (on previous editions), turned into a sloppy village party. If you really want to have concerts starting at 4:00am (which actually started two hours late) you must provide a comfortable and welcoming venue. Asking for proper facilities is not being a boy scout, it’s being a responsible adult. There were people on crutches, people that for some reason decided to bring their babies along and people on a wheelchair that didn’t have a great time for sure. Many people have said what there was to be said, and I’m sure the ones responsible for the festival are aware of that. I really don’t feel like writing much more; there’s no need to say the same thing twenty times. Let me just add that it saddened me to see the opportunity of finally seeing Löbo, one of the most iconic Portuguese acts, finally play some new material gone down the shithole due to technical issues and the worst sound of the entire festival. Kudos for Desert Mountain Tribe, Gossamers, Oathbreaker, Amenra, and Névoa for saving day one. Kudos for Asimov & the Hidden Circus, Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Hills, Löbo, Pàs de Problème, Gang of Four and Esben and the Witch for saving the second.
THE LEGENDS SPEAK OUT...
The idea of a concept album is an old one, but a concept career? That’s another matter entirely. We’re heavyweights Oxbow, who have charted a narrative path from 1989’s Fuckfest right through to Thin B least one sense the end of an era for the band. We spoke to Oxbow not only to get a glimpse into the but also to get a small glimpse at the personal dynamics that have wrought such emotionally charged
hat have these past ten years brought to you and what those experiences have brought to this album? Niko Wenner (guitar): We’ve been talking about that a lot as it has been ten years since we put out the last record. We’ve all lived our complex lives and they’ve contributed to the record but I think for me, and it’s a great question as we should put out records more often than we want to, but the best answer I have for the ten years is that there are way more interesting things about this record than how long it took. As a way to get into what’s on the record, the
music and feelings, emotions and words, that’s cool stuff to talk about. It took us a while because we wanted to do it right. Dan Adams (bass): Ten years between age10 and 20 are probably more significantly broad in terms of change than our stage but still, four different people over a decade, you’re going to have a huge variety of changes in everybody combined. Of course they have influenced the music. It’s much harder to describe how any one particular change influences the music so like Niko said, let’s talk about the music.
There’s been a constant evolution with you guys, flipping backwards and forwards from album to album. Are there any commonalities that run through your work; any core ingredients to any Oxbow record? Niko: We’re a bunch of really passionate, opinionated... Dan: Obnoxious... Niko: Obnoxious, difficult dudes, and that’s
the music we make. We end up talking about the precision, because the passion and the messy, bloody – as in completely involved – part is obvious. You can hear the intensity that Greg plays his drums, you can hear the amazing intensity that Dan plays his bass with, you can hear it in the voice hopefully you can hear it in the guitar, the stuff that I do. Intense passion is obvious so sometimes we talk too much about the way the records are constructed and the way that we are very careful with the harmonies; even simple things like tuning. We are very careful to be in tune on this record because you can have great passionate performances and then, oh shit, there’s a squeaky kick-drum pedal, like on that Led Zeppelin recording of “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. The commonality is that – the intense connection that we have with people that want to listen to our records. Greg Davis (drums): We still sort of work
e not talking Gwar here but rather art-rock Black Duke, this tale’s closing chapter and in at e album, and their extraordinary career, art. Words: Dave Bowes // Photos: Kasia Robinson
in a similar way, the way we work out the music and the way Eugene presents the lyrics – those things are reasonably constant. Even though things change, the mechanics of the way we work things out is still pretty similar to how it’s always been. So what is the recording process like and has there been any shift in the balance between improvisation and your focus on structure? Niko: Improvisation is very important to what we’re doing. My answer, and those guys should answer too, but my improvisation is part of the way that I begin the songs when I write them. My role has evolved to be the guy who writes his guitar parts and they remain fixed – the guitar and the piano parts tend to be things that the other guys improvise their parts, even until the recording itself, off of. When I wrote the music for “Ecce Homo”, my guitar part didn’t really change from 2009 in January
until we recorded it in 2013 and the way you hear it now on the recording. Ask those guys why but it seems to work. Greg: If you’re asking if, when we’re recording, we’re doing a lot of improvising, I would say only some and by the time we’re in the studio to record the record, we – or at least I – know pretty much what we’re going to be doing. I’m not one of those guys who plays the song the same every time I play it, partly because I can’t remember just how I played it each time before, so I guess in some ways there’s a little bit of improvisation; there’s a lot of improving that goes into working the music out, but by the time we’re in the studio there’s only a small amount. I don’t know if Dan would agree or not. Dan: Eugene’s probably the biggest improviser... Eugene Robinson (vocals): No, no, the exact opposite. I hate improvisation. That’s why, when we started Oxbow, I was
explaining to Niko in the garage of where I was living at the time, “I want a type of music and I don’t want any fucking guitar solos.” It wasn’t that I hated guitar solos, it’s just that there’s no other art form in which, in the middle of a play or in the middle of a dance, one of the performers or actors just starts to extemporaneously go off on something that doesn’t advance the thematic line or storyline or dramatic line; sometimes it does, sometimes it adds. So for years and years, I’m at practice and thinking not even about the words I want but the emotional tone or timbre that I think the song should have. When it’s finally performed in the studio, I’m trying to make what I heard in my head happen in the real world and it’s not like Ella Fitzgerald singing scat. There’s a big difference. Dan: You cut me off when I was trying to say there’s a big difference between improvising all of the content and improvising. musicandriots.com
THE LEGENDS SPEAK OUT... I think improvising, like what we do in the studio, is a very fine shade. In a way, it’s reacting to what you’re hearing and then responding with what you’re doing to play or sing. I think the thing for Eugene, unless you’re singing these things before in the shower, which I don’t think you are... Eugene: Sometimes, sometimes... Dan: ...this is the first time that’s what is in your head can be heard and you’re reacting to what you’re hearing along with music which, to me, is an improvisational loop, even if the content in your head is pretty well formed. I would say the same thing about Greg – you and I are doing things pretty similarly, in that we know what it is we’re trying to do in the studio and even beyond. If things are feeling a certain way we might alter things slightly but that’s just the dynamics. It doesn’t mean that we’re playing different notes or putting them in different places on a gross scale but on a fine scale. Niko: I think we should point out here that the very first song on the first Oxbow album has a great big long guitar solo. It’s about two minutes long and it’s improvised. [laughs] A guitar solo actually does something. It has a rest from the voice and the guitar solo can thematically advance the musical ideas in the song. It can give a rest to what has been the chorus and verse and develop things in a way that other parts of the song can’t. Eugene: There are two types of solos, right? I was listening to “War Pigs” the other day, but when Iommi comes in with the guitar solo - you’ve been immersed in the “War Pigs” story he’s created with this four-dimensional frame for you to appreciate the song – and when he comes in for that second solo, it’s like, “What the fuck is this?” There are two types – there’s the advancing of a theatrical or thematic line, like when I say solo I mean uninterrupted musical expanse. Sometimes it advances a narrative and it’s usually, in my mind, when a guitar is voicing something. In “War Pigs” I as a listener did not feel like it was voicing anything. In “Curse”, the first song off Fuckfest, I didn’t even recognise that that was a guitar solo until later, someone pointed it out. That’s how much I thought it advanced the thematic lines. I guess what I’m saying is that this is an effective one but in general, that was one of the things that I absolutely didn’t want to hear. This kind of heavy metal trope of, “Now I’m going to do something entertaining that wasn’t the entertaining thing that you were listening to before.” That was always kind of weird to me, as is putting your own face on the cover of your record. That also seems kind of strange to me. I especially appreciated the brass work on this album, especially on a track like “Other People” – it doesn’t necessarily seem freeform but how much direction was given here? Niko: The strings and the brass were notated after the vocals and after the bass, drums and guitar, so they were intended to move around those elements and in to support, so they were not improvised at all. They are completely notated. There’s an oboe that comes in occasionally, our friend Kyle Bruckmann, he was improvising but there’s two tubas, two trumpets and two trombones, eight string players, a double
string quartet. There’s a section on “Other People” and I really like the way that came out - it has an accelerando, meaning it’s speeded up and might sound a little chaotic and it’s intended to be that. The brass players did a great job. What are your own musical backgrounds? Were you formally taught or has it been self-education? Niko: I’ve been very lucky to have some great teachers. I started studying guitar and the thing that saved me from the studies, so I went and took classical music in college, but I began being really interested with guitar and I always kept my ‘rebel’ interest in music and that kept me from getting burned out with classical music, that kept me from getting frustrated with jazz and the limitations that pop music give you, so it’s been a balance. For example, I see a lot of my classmates stop doing music or stop being interested in producing and writing music, but for whatever reason my core interest in fooling around with an instrument and being creative in it has gotten me through. I found some really useful formal education. Greg: I’m just a punk rock kid from the late ‘70s so no formal music training at all. Eugene: From the late ‘70s? Man, you’re fucking old! Greg: And I’m a drummer by accident. Dan: For my part I took piano lessons for four or five years and studied with a drum instructor for about a year. I ended up playing a lot of drums in high school, mostly jazz bands and things, and then started playing bass later on and never had any training in bass, which is probably why my technique’s terrible and my hands hurt when I try and play. I was wondering how things are coming along with the Choir Eternal project for Supersonic Festival. Eugene: Yeah, so are we. Niko: We’ve been friends with the Supersonic gals at Capsule, though now it’s simply Lisa, for a long time, maybe since 2000 or the late ‘90s, before they started Supersonic. Lisa, in 2012, and Jenny were kind enough to provide orchestral instruments for an orchestral version of Oxbow. This time, Lisa said, “Hey, let’s do a choir thing.” So, in doing that Supersonic and Capsule appointed a guy, Sean, to act as liaison. Sean found singers and a director so it’s an incredibly complex process but thank goodness we have help. I’ve been sending scores to the director, Robin, and we’re negotiating how much they will be changed. This is going to open up discussion within the band. What we’re doing mostly is trying to terrify ourselves, first of all. To scare the hell out of ourselves, to keep it interesting, that’s part of the improvisation, but to provide a really great performance that people in the audience will have their hearts enlarged by. To feel some of the terror, to understand it and watch us negotiate that. It’s going well but I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve got pre-notated parts that will be abused and hopefully turn into great music. I think it’s going to be a wonderful, terrifying evening. In terms of the themes of your music, has there been much of a change over the years in terms of positivity and negativity, life, death, sex, whatever? Eugene: I’ve said this before so if you’ve
read this before I apologise for repeating myself, but if you were to take the records and put them end to end, in my mind it follows a very distinct narrative line; Serenade in Red would be, “What does a serenade do? It’s a meditation on love.” Evil Heat might be a meditation on sex and power. The preoccupations are around an essential core, which is what you would get with any book, even if page 10 is very different from page 110, so I don’t think there have been see-saw pendulum shifts, more we’ve followed the cycle to its logical conclusion with Thin Black Duke. I actually was trying to figure out what that meant – a logical conclusion – and then, as luck would have it, a friend of mine who is a journalist did an interview with Glenn Danzig, of all people. They asked, “What are you gonna write songs about now? You’re 63 years old,” or however old he is now, and he’s like, “Everything I could’ve said around the themes I’ve spoken on, I have already said. I have no idea what I’m gonna write about now!” I think if you’ve been making music long enough, you actually successfully say the thing that you’ve been trying to say, and then it begins a really interesting thing – what do you say once you’ve said the thing that you’ve been trying to say? I would hope that we’d draw from the Picasso palette and that our endless love of creativity would provide us with answers that are not presently making themselves known. Our obsessions are well spelled out from Fuckfest through to Thin Black Duke but I think what we’d like to do, or at least lyrically I would like to do, is to bring us into our preoccupations now, which are not at all part and parcel of what I was thinking about when I was doing King Of The Jews or Let Me Be A Woman. It’s changed and it would be nice to have music that, like a pair of pants, still fit and I think that’s the task we have in front of us. Niko: For me, it’s a moving target and as the years go by, everything looks different. I see the same things differently, I see myself differently, and I have changed, and a lot of those things that I see have changed. So if what we create is sensitive to our surroundings - and I emphatically say it is - that’s what’s interesting to me, and being sensitive to those changes is a constant wellspring of creativity. There’s always something because it’s such an incredible difference. Wisdom is not the right word but at the age that we are now, it’s still fascinating to be alive. The world gets you down but I have no interest in being dead at the moment. Is there any one song that springs to mind when you think ‘Oxbow’? As in, what’s the most Oxbow Oxbow song that you’ve ever written? Niko: Just last night I was playing my guitar that I’ve had since I was 14. I played “The Valley”, which is one of the first songs that we worked on for our first record, and for me that’s a very personal song and has a lot of meaning, and still works technically. Another song like that on the last record, A Narcotic Story, is “She’s A Find.” Those are both slow, contemplative songs but they convey a lot of what we try and do, that is personal stuff that also has a lot of lusty energy to it as well. For me, those two songs really explain Oxbow. Just to say quickly but on the new record, I was
“As a way to get into what’s on the record, the music and feelings, emotions and words, that’s cool stuff to talk about. It took us a while because we wanted to do it right.” interested in not having songs that only had one side of what we do. I wanted to have every moment, which is impossible, but as much as possible to have all of Thin Black Duke to have all the facets, all the sides of what we do, so that was really a challenge. I want all of Thin Black Duke to be completely Oxbow, so that was the challenge for that. Eugene: If I had to pick one to explain to people what it is we do, I think my personal choice would be “Yoke” or “Cat And Mouse”. Here, this is what we do. If you can listen to this, you can listen to anything else we do. Those are Rosetta Stone songs. Dan: I think Eugene’s choices there have a lot of variety, aggressively switching between different types of music within a song in a way, and I think to me the thing that is constantly compelling about what we’re doing is the scope and the change, and the contrasts. Like Eugene’s analogy of chapters in a book, what I think makes a great book is that there are little pieces that come together and play against each other, and for me that is also the variety of songs all playing together and working as a bigger piece. I think that context is really important. Thanks a lot for this. Given that this is my first time conducting an interview like this, I thought I would ask if there is anything that you guys would like to say to
each other that you don’t normally say. [Eugene bursts out laughing] Niko: I love you, man! That’s always implicit but we don’t say it very often. Eugene: It’s interesting you say that because one of the things that your first question led to was thinking about the passage of time, and I think what’s interesting about the superset of Oxbow activity is what it contains. These guys have seen me meet the woman who would become my wife, seen me get married to the woman who would become my wife, seen me have children with the woman who was my wife, seen me get divorced from this woman, seen me get remarried... there’s a lot of Oxbow living behind this Oxbow music. We have, between the four of us, seven children with another one arising. It’s been a wild universe of things; it’s not like the media would show you, where this is some shit that you do in college and then you’re done with it. When you’re making significant art it tends to occupy large chunks of life. I don’t think I need to say that to the guys in Oxbow but it’s just a reflection of what I was thinking about with some of the reviews for Thin Black Duke. Yeah, not a lot of people do what we have done for as long as we have done for as little. I want to stress the ‘as little’ part! Dan: That’s making an assumption on a certain type of value. I’d say a lot in terms of spiritual value but... Eugene: Yeah, I was just talking about cash!
Dan: One of my best friends from when I was a kid died on Monday, shockingly, but it certainly immediately makes clear that there are a lot of things that could have happened, could have been shared or spoken that aren’t for, once somebody is gone, that window is closed. You can look at that as a lifetime of lost opportunities, but at the same time I think about Oxbow. As Eugene said, we’ve lived a meaningful percentage of our lives very close, and there are plenty of things that we haven’t talked about - certainly I haven’t, because I don’t tend to talk about my personal world - but one thing is explicitly sharing things and another is just living. I think there are plenty of things we could say to each other and maybe we will talk about other things in the future that we’ve never talked about, but meanwhile I think what’s more important is that we’re still managing to live a portion of our lives together so that we can keep doing what we love doing, and that’s music. Eugene: Well said. Niko: We’re very fortunate that we enjoy hanging out together. Eugene: And the key to enjoying that is not doing it a lot. [laughs] Niko: There you have it.
THIN BLACK DUKE IS OUT NOW VIA HYDRA HEAD RECORDS musicandriots.com
BULLY ANTI-FLAG KEVIN DEVINE MOVEMENTS THE SOFT MOON CALEXICO JULIEN BAKER CIRCUIT DES YEUX CONVERGE TONIGHT ALIVE NO AGE MARMOZETS SCREAMING FEMALES PROTOMARTYR GODFLESH AT THE DRIVE IN BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB AND MANY MORE... Reid Haithcock
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Published on Oct 19, 2017
Published on Oct 19, 2017
Featuring: Zola Jesus, Steven Wilson, Noga Erez, Chastity Belt, Oxbow, Satyricon, The Movielife, Chelsea Wolfe, Northlane, Papa Roach, Slaug...