music&riots FREE | Nº 03 | JUNE
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE SOME HEAVY AND CATHARTIC EMOTIONS
CANADA’S BEST KEPT SECRET
CASTLE TWEENS TRANS AM MISERABLE LANTLÔS NEVER SOL SHONEN KNIFE THE HONEY TREES BLACK BOMBAIM SCOTT H. BIRAM
A FRESH PAGE IN HEAVY MUSIC
LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES A RADICAL UPDATE
IN SOUTHERN ROCK
S W A N S THEY FIND BEAUTY IN DARKNESS 1
julio 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 july JUEVES 17 THURSDAY
ELLIE GOULDING CHASE & STATUS JAMES KLAXONS MUCHO VIERNES 18 FRIDAY
PAUL WELLER JAKE BUGG TAME IMPALA ABOVE & BEYOND ALBERT HAMMOND, JR. MANEL OF MONTREAL RAZORLIGHT THE 1975 AUTOMATICS TYCHO KOKOSHCA TOM ODELL FAT WHITE FAMILY THE PARROTS SÁBADO 19 SATURDAY
LILY ALLEN EXAMPLE INGROSSO KATY B CAT POWER MANIC STREET PREACHERS JERO ROMERO TRIÁNGULO DE AMOR BIZARRO TELEGRAM TACHENKO SKIZOPHONIC FRANÇOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS EL ÚLTIMO VECINO DOMINGO 20 SUNDAY
M.I.A. ALESSO TRAVIS COURTEENERS SUB FOCUS THE CHARLATANS KODALINE HOZIER CHLÖE HOWL DRENGE LA FEMME NINA NESBITT SLOW MAGIC THE ACADEMIC THE PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FIBERFIB.COM Entradas a la venta / Tickets on sale
FEATURES 06 LISTS // UPCOMING RELEASES Q&A - WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN
10 LISTENING TO LATELY? UPCOMING
12 Earth - Primitive and Deadly ROUND UP - Ides of Gemini, Every
14 Time I Die, Anna Calvi, Merchandise WELCOME BACK
20 Interview with Trans Am LISTS // 40 BEST ALBUMS OF THE
22 YEAR SO FAR
24 NEU // VOL.3 INTERVIEWS 16 TWEENS
30 32 36 38 42 46 50 54 58 68 74 84
THE HONEY TREES VENSAIRE SHONEN KNIFE OUGHT EMMA RUTH RUNDLE MISERABLE NEVER SOL LANTLÔS
“Emotionally - more than anything - it was an exhausting process.” EMMA RUTH RUNDLE
LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES TOMBS SCOTT H.BIRAM BLACK BOMBAIM
“... I think we’re not boxed in by the idea that we are another four-piece rock band.” TIM BEELER, OUGHT
COVER STORY SWANS
62 Interview with Michael Gira REVIEWS ALBUMS REVIEWS 80 White Lung, Wolf Alice, Eyehategod, Down,
Crowbar, Godflesh, Connor Oberst, Priests, Sharon Van Etten, Nikki Lane, Tombs, Fucked Up, The Black Keys, Mayhem, Neil Young
REPORT 104 LIVE Temples Festival, Bo Ningen, Celeste, Mantar, Devil In Me, Crocodiles, Black Bombaim
110 CINEMA Mistaken For Strangers, The Punk Singer, Under the Skin, Godzilla, Walk of Shame
WORDS FROM THE EDITOR...
music&riots magazine musicandriotsmagazine.com
FREE | Nº 03 | JUNE
CEO/EDITOR IN CHIEF
Fausto Casais (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Andreia Alves (email@example.com) Tiago Moreira (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fausto Casais, Andreia Alves, Tiago Moreira
CONTRIBUTORS // WRITERS
Nuno Babo, Nuno Teixeira, Sílvio Miranda, Ricardo Almeida, Tiago Marinho, Sergio Kilmore, David Bowes, Mariana Silva, Fausto Mendes Ferreira, Nuno Nogueira, Rui Correia, Ana Filipa Carvalho, Rita Sedas, Andi James Chamberlain, Rui Santos, Daniel Ferreira, Carlos Cardoso, Cláudio Aníbal, Hugo Machado, Myke C-Town, Ellery Twining, Arnaud Diemer, Luis Alves
Andreia Alves, Peter Davidson, Ricardo Almeida, Falk-Hagen Bernshausen
nd another issue is out! On this new issue we have the pleasure of having the mighty Swans on our front cover, in the good company of Emma Ruth Rundle, Ought, Tombs, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Shonen Knife, Scott H.Biram, Tweens, Trans Am, Miserable, Never Sol, Castle and many more... There are no words that can describe the effect that Swans have on today’s music scene. They’re true legends and they just delivered an epic masterpiece called To Be Kind. Swans are an unique and titanic force, and Tiago Moreira’s excellent words and cover story reveals “To Be Kind, their new album, the third since Michael Gira decided to reactive the band after a fourteen years hiatus, is yet another wonderful piece of art. Two hours of music, one record and one thing is for sure: it’s exciting from the very first second to the very last. We talked with Michael Gira on the phone to try to understand a little bit better one of the most meaningful and important bands of rock history.” This is a special issue, well, every single issue is special for us, where once again we talk with the bands and artist that we admire and learned to love over the years. In so many ways we are learning so many things with the artists and bands that we love, sometimes there are no words to describe our gratification with the magnificent experiences that any single conversation gives us, we are always stating that we are not conducting interviews but conversations with the artists that we love. Your Editor, Fausto Casais
Fausto Casais (email@example.com)
HUGE FUCKING THANKS
Mike Cubillos, Kristina Esfandiari, Lauren Barley, Vice Records, Keith Morris, Aaron Beam, Frank van Liempdt, Deathwish Inc, Head Up! Shows, Emma Ruth Rundle, Russ Rankin, Amplificasom, Thrill Jockey, Neurot Recordings, Mute, PIAS, Sub Pop, Sargent House, Stephanie Marlow, Amplificasom, Lovers & Lollypops, Metal Blade, Michael Gira, Santa Maria Summer Fest, Darkspace, Reverenence Festival Valada, Laura Jane Grace, Nick Allport, Kathleen Hanna
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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.
LISTENING POST Fausto Casais White Lung - Deep Fantasy ‘68 - In Humor and Sadness Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin Lower - Seek Warmer Climes
Andreia Alves La Sera - Hour of the Dawn Trade Wind - Suffer Just To Believe Fear of Men - Loom Haley Bonar - Last War Soundgarden - Superunknown
Ana Filipa Carvalho Radio Moscow - Magical Dirt Swans - The Burning World Be Forest - Earthbeat Wo Fat - The Black Code Godspeed You! Black Emperor - F#A# ∞
UPCOMING RELEASES 02.06.2014 FUCKED UP BLOODY HAMMERS NIGHTMARES VADER HAMILTON LEITHAUSER KYLA LA GRANGE BOB MOULD CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH THE ORWELLS PARQUET COURTS TIGERS JAW
Glass Boys (Matador) Under Satan’s Sun (Napalm) Suspiria (Rise Records) Tibi Et Igni (Nuclear Blast) Black Hours (Ribbon Music) Cut Your Teeth (Sony) Beauty & Ruin (Merge) Only Run (Xtra Mile Recordings) Disgraceland (Atlantic) Sunbathing Animal (Rough TRade) Charmer (Run For Cover)
09.06.2014 KASABIAN JACK WHITE TOM VEK FIRST AID KIT PASSENGER RIVAL SONS ANATHEMA THE ATLAST MOTH ARCH ENEMY TOMBS TRAP THEM THE WORD ALIVE GLASS ANIMALS THE FRESH & ONLYS LUST FOR YOUTH WIFE THE FELICE BROTHERS BUZZ OSBORNE (King Buzzo) CANDY HEARTS
48:13 (Columbia) Lazaretto (XL) Luck (Moshi Moshi) Stay Gold (Columbia) Whispers (Island) Great Western Valkyrie (Earache) Distante Satellites (Kscope) The Old Believer (Profound Lore) War Eternal (Century Media) Savage Gold (Relapse) Blissfucker (Prosthetic) Real (Fearless) Zaba (Caroline International) House of Spirits (Mexican Summer) International (Sacred Bones) What’s Between (Tri Angle) Favourite Waitress (Dualtone) This Machine Kill Artists (Ipecap) All The Ways You Let Me Down (Bridge 9)
Tiago Moreira ‘68 - In Humor and Sadness Pallbearer - Foundations Of Burden Atmosphere - Southsiders Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestite Hotel Books - I’m Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel...
Cláudio Aníbal Slaves - Through Art We Are All Equals Closure in moscow - Pink Lemonade Tera Melos - X’ed Out Being As An Ocean - How We Both Wondrously Perish Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me Lana Del Rey
Rui Correia Xiu Xiu - Angel Guts: Red Classroom Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt Pearl Jam - Vitalogy 25 Ta Life - Fallen Angel Mike Dawes - What Just happened?
David Bowes Mastodon - Once More ‘Round The Sun Mope - Mope Boris - Noise Tusmørke - Riset Bak Speilet Gnaw Their Tongues - For All Slaves A Song Of False Hope
Ricardo Almeida The Black keys - Turn Blue Swans - The Burning World Touché Amoré - Is Survived By Nothing - Guilty of Everything Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork 6
16.06.2014 LANA DEL REY LINKIN PARK VINTERBRIS THE ANTLERS BORIS CEREBRAL BALLZY LOWER WHITE LUNG THE ANTLERS FREEZE THE ATLANTIC
23.06.2014 MASTODON MONUMENTS HOW TO DRESS WELL CIRCULATORY SYSTEM SLAVES STRAND OF OAKS CORRSION OF CONFORMITY
01.07.2014 OOIOO SEETHER BEVERLY
Ultraviolence (Polydor Group) The Hunting Party (Warner) Solace (Nordavind Records) Familiars (Transgressive) Noise (Sargent House) Jaded & Faded (Cult Records) Seek Warmer Climes (Matador) Deep Fantasy (Domino) Familiars (Transgressive) Freeze the Atlantic (Alcopop!) Once More Round the Sun (Warner) The Amanuensis (Century Media) What Is This Heart? (Wierd World) Mosaics Within Mosaics (Cloud Recordings) Through Art We All Equals (Artery Recordings) Heal (Dead Oceans) IX (Candlelight) Gamel (Thrill Jockey) Isolate and Medicate (Spinefarm) Careers (Kanine Records)
#### Albums that are in Red already reviewed in this issue ####
QUESTION & ANSWER
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING TO LATELY? I
've been listening to Boz Scaggs. [laughs] It's kind of a joke. [laughs] So you know, amongst other things I'm a drummer and I'm a fan of this drummer called Jeff Porcaro who played in Toto. He played on other albums, he played in Steely Dan for example. I don't know why I'm talking about this [laughs] because last night I downloaded some Boz Scaggs, he's an American singersongwriter from the 70's and Jeff Porcaro plays drums on some of his albums, and he's very smooth, that's all I can say. As far as new music, I've been checking out Honey Claws. Sebastian Thomson (Trans Am, Baroness)
e both listen to a lot of the same music that we’ve been listening to for years. But lately, we’ve been listening to a lot of Radiohead, Other Lives, Daughter, Tame Impala, and Michael Jackson! Becky Filip (The Honey Trees)
ight now, I've been really obsessed with this band Barkmarket from the 90's. [laughs] It was Dave Sardy's band and I've been listening to the records Gimmick (1993) and L Ron (1996) on repeat lately. It's sort of heavy music and really interesting. I wish I could say that I listen to more current music, but I usually go through phases that I'm obsessed on one record for a long time. [laughs] Emma Ruth Rundle
ndrew: I would say that the things I’ve been listening to recently are the Cheatahs debut record, I really like it; there’s this band called Ringo Deathstarr that just put a new record out that I love; Pity Sex are the best... I was looking through my phone to see what albums I’ve been listening to and there’s Nothing debut record Guilty of Everything, also No Joy, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart...
achel: This is not really fair, but I’m gonna say: my friends’ band Cymbals Eat Guitars made a record that isn’t out until August, but he sent it to me and it’s awesome! Everyone should buy when it comes out. That’s pretty much what I’ve just been listening to. Andrew and Rachel (Field Mouse)
UPCOMING // EARTH
EARTH REVEAL DETAILS
arth’s career, like its music, has always been a slow, deliberate progression. Each record slightly removed from the last, a constant refinement of a singular vision. Dylan Carlson has remained focused throughout on coaxing moments of strange beauty and reflection from “the riff”. This elemental foundation of rock is refracted, in their earliest recordings, through the prism of sheer volume & feedbacking drone or, in the twin Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light set from 2011 & 2012, via a sparse unraveling take on folk. With Primitive and Deadly, Earth’s tenth studio collection, Carlson & longtime foil, drummer Adrienne
OF THEIR TENTH ALBUM Davies, managed to pull off the trick of completing an Ouroborean creative cycle, 25 years in the making, whilst exploring new directions in Earth’s music. For the first time in their diverse second act, they allow themselves to be a ROCK band, freed of adornment and embellishment. As much as Carlson’s guitar has always been the focal point of Earth’s music, it’s been surrounded by consistently diverse instrumentation. Here the dialog between Carlson and Davies drumming remains pivotal, underpinned by the sympathetic bass of Bill Herzog (Sunn 0))), Joel
RL Phelps, Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter) and thickened by additional layers of guitar from Brett Netson (Built To Spill, Caustic Resin) & Jodie Cox (Narrows). Perhaps the largest left turn on Primitive and Deadly, though, is prominence of guest vocalists Mark Lanegan and Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) who transform the traditionally free ranging meditations of Earth into something approaching traditional pop structures. This contradictive tension between a band pushing themselves ever forward whilst surveying
their history is reflected in the albums twin recording locales. The foundation of the record was laid in the mystical desert highlands of Joshua Tree, California where Earth recorded hour after hour of meditations on each tracks central theme at Rancho de la Luna. Upon returning to Seattle these were edited, arranged and expanded upon at Avast with the help of longtime collaborator Randall Dunn (who was previously at the helm for the Hex, The Bees Made Honey in the Lions Skull and Hibernaculum sessions).
ROUND ROUNDUP UP // SWANS
MERCHANDISE new album in August
lorida-based Merchandise have given up the details on their full-length label debut. Their new album After The End, which is the follow up to last year’s Totale Nite is out August 26 via their new label, 4AD. Formed as a trio in Tampa, Florida in 2008, the band has undergone ceaseless revision and reinvention. After putting out numerous records and tapes on independent punk labels and touring the underground, the band truly hit its stride with the release of their second LP Children of Desire in April 2012. After The End was recorded and produced by the band, this time over a six-month period in the house they share in Tampa. The only outside influence came when they enlisted mixing help from Gareth Jones - the man famed for his work with Tuxedomoon, Depeche Mode and more recently Interpol, These New Puritans and Grizzly Bear. “(Our last album) Totale Nite was the end of the book. This is a whole new one. It’s like we can start a new band with basically the same name. We’ve already exploded our reality – now we’re going to re-make ourselves as a pop band, but it’ll still be a twisted reality.” Carson Cox said. “After The End” will arrive on August 26th via 4AD 14
Interpol have just announced that they are going to release a new album (their fifth) on 6th September via Matador and it’s titled El Pintor. The band recorded this new album with James Brown (Arctic Monkeys), and Alan Moulder mixed it at Electric Lady Studios and Atomic Sound. Paul Banks takes over bass duties on El Pintor, and guests include the Secret Machines’ Brandon Curtis, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and Bon Iver’s Rob Moose. Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry has announced the release of his debut solo album, Music
EVERY TIME I DIE
To Release “From Parts Unknown” In July
very Time I Die have just announced the release of their seventh studio album, From Parts Unknown on July 1st via Epitaph. After sixteen years as a band, they know what works and could go on doing the same thing – but that would be “boring and baseless,” according to vocalist Keith Buckley. “Instead of making something that the kids can all sing along to, we wanted to make music that scares them,” he adds. Every Time I Die spent a month recording with legendary/guru producer and Converge co-founder Kurt Ballou at his GodCity Studio in Salem, Massachusetts. “Working with Kurt was stressful in the best way, like when your dad comes to watch you play baseball for the first time and you just want to make him proud,” says Buckley. Ballou challenged the band to dig deeper, work quickly, and create heavy but catchy tracks. Vocals transverse from dark and light by swerving from scream to howl to like a fired-up war cry. Guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams, and drummer Ryan Leger cement their massive riffs, frantic rhythms, and brutal vocal work into a dozen of the most awesomely devastating songs the band’s created so far. The album’s title was initially inspired by a term used by wrestlers to increase their mystique, From Parts Unknown ultimately references the more hopeful mood that creeped into its lyrics during songwriting. “I didn’t even realize I had that more positive outlook in me,” notes Buckley. From Parts Unknown has Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and Sean Ingram of Coalesce lending their vocals to a few tracks as well. This is for sure of the most highly anticipated records of this year and maybe might be that game changing record that they have been always pushing forward. This new release seems to find Every Time I Die brighter into their emotional territory than they’ve ever explored before. Every Time I Die
for Heart and Breath on July 15. The album was produced by Parry alongside The National’s Bryce Dessner, who released his own classically composed EP with the Kronos Quartet earlier this year. Anti-Flag have announced that they will be releasing their greatest hits album, A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013, on July 22 via Fat Wreck Chords. We can confirm that seminal post-hardcore outfit At The Drive-In will be reuniting after eleven years of dormancy. The group broke up
“From Parts Unknown” will arrive on July 1st via Epitaph
in 2001, a year after the release of the influential and inspirational Relationship Of Command. Tennis are back, following their excellent 2013 EP Small Sound and their 2012 LP Young and Old. Their new album Ritual in Repeat is out September 9 via Communion. It was produced by Patrick Carney (The Black Keys), Jim Eno (Spoon), and Richard Swift (the Shins). Caribou has announced the follow up LP to 2010’s Swim. It’s called Our Love, and it’s out
October 7 via Merge. This new effort features collaborations with Jessy Lanza and Owen Pallett. Avi Buffalo return with At Best Cuckold, the follow up to their 2010 self-titled debut. Produced by the band’s Avi Zahner-Isenberg, it’s out September 9 in North America and September 8 in Europe via Sub Pop. In Flames are going to release their 11th studio album – titled Siren Charms – on September 9th via the band’s new label, Epic Records.
INTRODUCING // TWEENS
TWEENS There are a bunch of great bands coming from Cincinnati (Ohio) and Tweens are surely one of them. Led by the genuine Bridget Battle, their early demos made everyone want to know about this band, even The Breeders' Kim Deal became instantly their fan. This year, they've released their debut album, a collection of trash pop teen anthems that we all can relate to. We caught up with Peyton, the bassist of the trio, that shared with us everything about his band. Words: Fausto Casais
ow did you guys hook up and form Tweens?
We met a few years ago at a show space Jerri and I used to run. We eventually all moved into another show space which is when we found out lil BB could play guitar and sing like a drunk angel.
For those who haven’t listened to Tweens yet, how would you describe your sound? Trash pop.
There’s definitely a 60’s and 90’s vibe in your music. Which bands/ artists inspired you to shape your sound?
We’ve all always been really into 60’s girl groups and that’s really how we got started. Covering old girl groups and some 90’s budget rock bands is how we figured out what we wanted to do with Tweens. Bands like The Ronettes, The Pleasure Seekers and The Bobbyteens played a big part in our band starting.
How do you usually approach the songwriting process?
Usually Bridget comes to practice with some ideas and Jerri and I will help arrange it. This is Bridget’s first time taking the role of the primary songwriter so with every new song you can see/hear her growing into an even more talented front person.
You went on a US tour with The Breeders. How did that come along?
Apparently Kim Deal asked the owner of Shake It Records in our neighborhood who should open at the “warm up” show in Cincinnati before they went on the full year tour for Last Splash’s 20th anniversary and he said Tweens. After that, they asked us to do the east coast which was incredible. Then to top it off, they asked us to go out west with them. The whole thing was so surreal, we all love The Breeders so much. 16
After releasing some cool demos, you have recently released your debut record! How was the whole process of making it?
We recorded the new album with Eli Janney in New York last October and it was a great experience. Eli is a great guy to work with, I’d love to do it again. We set out to put new life and a little more clarity into the demos as opposed to making the rerecordings a big polished production. We wanted to stay true to the grit where the songs came from, I feel like we achieved that.
“Be Mean” is such a catchy, upbeat song and the video is really super cool and is a great fit for the song. Who came up with the video’s idea? Our friends Perry Shall and Eddie Austin in Philadelphia came up with the idea for the video and shot it.
“Bands like The Ronettes, The Pleasure Seekers and The Bobbyteens played a big part in our band starting.”
They got the idea for the video from this old series of videos called Moron Movies made by Philly artist named Len Cella. If you haven’t seen them, you have to check them out. Perry has also done a lot of really great art for some of our favorite bands.
What’s your favorite song from the record and why?
My personal favorite is “Don’t Wait Up”. It has a different feel than the other tracks which kind of represents a shift in our songwriting. It’s also a nice way to break up the speed of the record.
Are you planning to come to Europe to play some shows?
Absolutely! We are hoping to get over this fall. Being able to use music as a vehicle to travel around the world would be a dream come true. I love being on the road so
I am definitely ready to take it overseas.
You always seem to have a great time when playing live. Is there any show that stands out the most for you? We do always have a good time playing! Even if one of us is sick or in a bad mood, playing forces you to shake it off. We played a showcase at Trailer Space Records with Big Tits, Warm Soda, and Protomartyr during SXSW that was awesome. I don’t know why that one stands out the most but it was just a really great night that was a little more low key than the rest of SXSW which can be super stressful.
scene is a little lacking at the moment but, there are a few bars that have been bringing in good acts and taking care of local bands really well. There has definitely been a good streak of new bands popping up here which has made things way more exciting.
Are there any new bands from Cincinnati that we should listen to?
There is a long list but I’ll just name a few. The Harlequins, Bummers Eve and Mardou are some of my favorites.
How is the music scene in your hometown, Cincinnati?
Cincinnati is a good town to be a musician. Unfortunately the DIY www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
“Tweens” is out now via Frenchkiss Records 17
Ides of Gemini new album in September
ollowing the release of their amazing debut album, Constantinople, back in 2012, Ides of Gemini spent much of their time touring. Upon their return to Los Angeles, Ides Of Gemini played shows with Boris, Deafheaven, and True Widow before hibernating to finish writing and rehearsing new material. Now the new record is
ready to see the light of day. Old World New Wave will be released by Neurot Recordings (CD/ digital) and SIGE Records (vinyl) on September 16, 2014. The record was recorded at Valley Recording in Burbank, CA, during the first week of February 2014. It was engineered and mixed by Chris Rakestraw, who did the same for Constantinople and is often noted for his work with Danzig. The album was mastered by Grammy-winning producer Matt Hyde, renowned for his work with Slayer, among others. The artwork
Palisades have begun recording their
sophomore album for Rise Records in Los Angeles, CA with producer Erik Ron (Saosin, Hands Like Houses, Get Scared). Baltimore post-hardcore heroes Pianos Become the Teeth are back in the studio and they are ready to start recording their new album at Studio 4 with the great Will Yip (La Dispute, Circa Survive, I Am The Avalanche). Joey Cape and the rest of the gang of punk veterans in Lagwagon have been teasing plans to release a new
and design, including the striking hand-drawn cover, were executed by drummer Kelly Johnston-Gibson. “The foundation for Old World New Wave was laid before Constantinople even came out,” Bennett reveals. “We had the title, most of the guitar tracks and basic arrangements in place at that point. We’ve been planning this record for a long time, so it’s incredibly rewarding — and a total relief — to finally have it out.” “Old World New Wave” will arrive on September 16 via Neurot
full-length album in 2014 for quite some time now. But now, it seems that the band is actually at The Blasting Room working on their first full-length in 9 years with Bill Stevenson. Is Faith No More recording new material? According to Faith No More’s Twitter page the big mouth of the group, the great Mike Patton stated that “The reunion thing was fun, but now it’s time to get a little creative.” Following months of speculation, Foo Fighters have finally confirmed details of their highly-anticipated eighth studio album. The as-yet-
Anna Calvi announces new EP
nna Calvi will release an EP called Strange Weather, of cover songs ranging from Keren Ann to Suicide. As if that weren’t enough, she’s doing it with the great David Byrne by her side. “I’m a big fan of Anna’s two records...and I caught her tour after her first record at Bowery Ballroom here in NY,” says Byrne via press release. “‘Epic’ I think is
untitled record, serving as the follow-up to 2011′s excellent Wasting Light, will arrive in the fall through Roswell/RCA Records. The album’s release will coincide with the airing of Dave Grohl’s new HBO TV series. According to a press release, the series will document Foo Fighters’ sessions in eight different cities — Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington DC and New York — as they record the album in various legendary studios. Today Is The Day has joined with
the word that is often used. So when Thomas Bartlett said he was going to be in the studio producing an EP of Anna doing covers I immediately agreed to join in. I was invited to suggest songs and I loved the last Keren Ann record and I thought Strange Weather had a haunting quality that might suit Anna.... so we did that, and Anna then suggested I join in on the Connan Mockasin track she’d done too.” The 5 track covers EP was produced by Thomas Bartlett (The
the Southern Lord‘s roster for the release of their massively anticipated tenth studio album later this year, the successor of their amazing last record, Pain Is a Warning (2011). Early this year, Today Is The Day’s newest lineup was announced, as the foundation of the then unnamed album was taking shape. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Austin welcomed Sean Conkling (Regression, Burn Your Halo, Sprawl) on bass as well as returning member Jeff Lohrber (Enabler, ex-Harlots), Lohrber
National, Antony and the Johnsons, Sam Amidon) and recorded in New York. It features covers of tracks by Suicide, David Bowie, FKA Twigs, Connan Mockasin and Keren Ann. The cover of Suicide’s Ghost Rider was recorded with drummer Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley), and Nico Muhly contributes string arrangements to the EP opener, a deconstructed organic reworking of FKA Twigs’ “Papi Pacify”. “Strange Weather” will arrive on July 15 via Domino Records
having previously handled touring drum duties for Today Is The Day many times in the past. Conkling and Lohrber tracked most of their sessions in December and January at the founding frontman’s own Recording and Mastering Studio in Maine. Since, Austin has been painstakingly layering guitars, vocals and more, and as the final sessions for Today Is The Day’s tenth studio full-length will be taking place in June, the band happily unveils the name of the impending LP, as Animal Mother.
WELCOME BACK // TRANS AM
TRANS AM are an exceptional
band and they have proved that over the years with their interesting and refreshing music. Even though they live in different cities and have also other projects, the trio still manages to make great music together. "Volume X" is their new record and it marks their tenth studio effort. In an amusing chat, Sebastian Thomson told us all about their newest effort and much more. Words: Andreia Alves
ongratulations on the new album, it’s really great! It’s amazing how you mix post-rock, futuristic speed metal, robot sounds and synthesizer ambience. What was the funniest thing about writing these songs?
Oh man, I’m trying to think of some funny studio story... [laughs] I can’t think of one right now. [laughs] The whole thing was fun and a little bit funny at the same time, because we don’t live in the same town anymore so getting together is always funny and sometimes we see each other in six months. It’s usually like an event, if you know what I mean.
As you said, all of you live in different cities and you have also other projects and occupations. How do you manage to get together and make music?
Well, we all have different things going on like you said and fortunately one of the things that we have going on is that Phil Manley works in a studio in San Francisco, so that makes really easy for us to go there and book time. It’s very financially feasible for us, because he works in the studio. So basically it’s like: Nathan [Means] lives in Portland, I live in New York and a couple of times a year we meet in San Francisco and we hang out for a week or two. We record and write and that’s pretty much how it works. Maybe since Liberation (2004) that we’ve all been in studio projects.
You guys have been a band for a while now and it’s great that you manage to continue making music together. So, this new album, “Volume X” marks your tenth record with ten tracks. When did you guys start to work on this album? It was probably two years ago. I mean, the whole process was a lot slower now than it was in the past. I would say that now we usually do 20
about three visits to write and record, and maybe two visits to mix. Maybe a total of five or six trips to San Francisco to make the album. It took probably two years to make it. But the thing is if we all lived in the same town, it would have taken us two weeks, honestly. [laughs]
Does this process affect in some way your music or is it something natural for you? Well, I think it’s like the only way that we can do it now. I think that’s why we stayed together for so long and why we still make music, it’s because is like any relationship. Doesn’t matter how much you like or love the person, it can get weird, you know. Imagine like a boyfriend or a girlfriend, a husband or a wife, it can get difficult and so I think it’s human nature, but to have space is good. It let us continue the work. I think it’s the only way that we can do it honestly at this point.
Did you guys work on these new songs while on the recording process?
The three of us are all songwriters so we would bring in ideas that are halffinished and then for example one
“...We’re people of the 80’s, especially Phil and I, we always liked metal, thrash metal and things like that.” hours, so it’s good to have a friend to help out.
“Backlash” is the most unpredictable and explosive track of the album. What did inspire you when you were writing such brutal song?
That was the initial idea. That was a song from Phil. We’re people of the 80’s, especially Phil and I, we always liked metal, thrash metal and things like that. When he played it for me the demo, I said “Why won’t we try some kind of a krautrock version of thrash metal?” and I thought “That’s kind of like an unexplored territory.” It’s like a Chrome [band] version of thrash metal [laughs] which it hasn’t really happened, so we thought it would be like an interesting experiment.
You recorded two versions of the track “I’ll Never”, which the alternate version has a different approach from the whole album, it has like this The Jesus And Mary Chain vibe. What did lead you to do this different approach?
The alternate version is actually older than the album version. Basically what happened was that the album version is the one that the three of us all agree on the most and the alternate version was the one that we didn’t really agree on the most. [laughs] But the label really liked it, so they thought it would be a fun thing to put out there on the internet. I think the album version is the one I like better, honestly.
What’s next for Trans Am? Are you planning to do a European tour? of us would bring five ideas that are halffinished, and the other two guys would say: “Ok, I like this one and that one”, and we would work on those two and then we would finish them up in the studio. That’s only how it works.
Who did the producing of the new album? Did Phil take charge of it?
No, the record was produced by all of us and Phil actually doesn’t really even do the engineering that much anymore. We had our friend Nikhil do the engineering. Nikhil Ranade is an old friend of ours. He has done live sound for us and worked with us in the studio before. We all know our way around the studio, so we all have very specific ideas that we use. Actually, I think it would be a little bit stressful for Phil to play and record and do the engineering. I mean, in the past - like the first half of our career - we did all the engineering ourselves, but we had our own studio. Even though it sounds stressful, it wasn’t because it was where we lived, you know what I mean? Red Line (2000), TA (2002) and Liberation (2004) were all recorded in this studio we had in Washington. The advantage was that we would take as much time or little time as we wanted with everything. If we wanted a new drum sound, well, we would take a day, put the drums somewhere else and set up the mics, because we would never pay by the hour. But now we kind of are paying by the
Yeah, we are, but first, we’re going to do a US tour in about two weeks. We all have other things going on, like me and Phil have families now, and I’m also playing in this band called Baroness... We’re all kind of busy, so we’re doing a US tour where we drive across the country, but we don’t drive back. Basically I’m flying back to the East Coast. It’s gonna be a short tour - like two weeks - and then in November, we’re doing another two or three weeks in Europe. And I’m sorry to say that I think we’re not gonna play in Portugal. I mean, I love playing in Portugal, honestly.
Last year, you got together with Baroness, which it’s great. How has been so far the experience of playing with them? It’s been great! It’s great to be busy as a musician and they’re super cool guys and very serious about the music which I really appreciate. It’s been great.
Are you guys currently working on new material?
Yeah! We’re basically not touring this year, because we’re writing a new album and it’s going really well. It’s a little bit slow because I’m the new guy and also Nick Jost [bassist] is new, so half of the band is new. We’re figuring out the best ways to write together. Last year, just to have Nick and myself learn all the material and play it live that was the first challenge and that turned out really well. Now we’re working on the next stage, do you know what I mean?
Is there any new bands that I should listen to?
You should check out Torn Hawk. He’s a friend of mine from New York. It’s a solo project and it’s electronic music with guitar and it has all the good elements it’s like a combination of shoegaze with electronic music. It’s really good. He’s actually in Europe right now on tour. His actual name is Luke Wyatt. “Volume X” is already reviewed in this edition and is out now via Thrill Jockey www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
40 BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR SO FAR... BOB MOULD Beauty & Ruin
SHARON VAN ETTEN Are We There Jagjaguwar (2014)
Jazz Life (2014)
“...her sound makes you wonder why there aren’t many women like this producing music these days...”
BIG UPS Eighteen Hours of Static Though Love (2014)
“Everything sounds more raw in Beauty & Ruin, as if the spirit of punk gave Bob Mould some kind of new awakening...”
Tiny Engines (2014)
Bella Union (2014)
“...his music explores the essence and uniqueness of her experiences, giving a touch nostalgic and moving every note played...”
PRIESTS Bodies and Control and Money and Power Don Giovanni (2014)
LA DISPUTE Rooms of the House
No Sleep Records (2014)
“Part therapy session, part desperate kick at life, this is Eyehategod at their best, and at their worst.”
PINK MOUNTAINTOPS Get Back Jagjaguwar (2014)
“This album is about loose yourself to rock n’ roll, where nothing matters and where the word boundaries has no meaning at all.”
ARCHITECTS Lost Forever // Lost Together Epitaph (2014)
“...a superior record from a gifted and talented band, in the most impressive and diverse record of their carreer.”
BRODY DALLE Diploid Love
“...exquisite and so emotionally strong that it really works like an addiction to the listener. This is just too beautiful”
Century Media (2014)
“Performed excellently, both technical, giving attention to detail and providing a rich, simple sound without overloading...”
SWANS To Be Kind
LL Recordings (2014)
“...an heavy, almost cinematic universe, in a clear allusion to humanity and to his fate, constantly plagued by sadness and violence.”
“...the world needs artists like these, where the listener is thrown into a world of musical schizophrenia, paranoia and anxiety...”
LYKKE LI I Never Learn
“... if there is to be joy of any kind here, it’s that of the one who has released the absurdity of the human condition.”
“This might be the missing link between the sound of bands like Against Me!, La Dispute, Taking Back Sunday or Texas is the Reason.”
XIU XIU Angel Guts: Red Classroom
Sacred Bones (2014)
“The songs are perfectly sequenced never giving the listener too much adrenaline or too much tranquility.”
“...this not an easy listening record, it’s both exhausting and deeply compelling, the perfect cathartic experience.”
“...her lovely, eloquent voice and... her acoustic guitar would be enough to fall in love with such introspective and heartfelt music.”
MARISSA NADLER July
THE HOTELIER Home, Like Noplace is There
Sargent House (2014)
WOVENHAND Refractory Obdurate
NOTHING Guilty of Everything
Captured Tracks (2014)
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE Some Heavy Ocean
“This might be a game changing record regarding to the previous efforts... They’ve rediscovered the passion at their core.”
“...27 minutes of pure schizophrenia, moments of pure insanity with many bleats to the mix. Awesome!”
PERFECT PUSSY Say Yes to Love
BLOOD RED SHOES Blood Red Shoes
“What we get from this album is an intense ride through the most insane storm you could possibly imagine.”
“This is an album about a person that has matured in an impressive way and she’s dissecting all the angles”
Innovative Leisure (2014)
Impericon Records (2014)
Blue Note (2014)
“You just feel the thrill of the free jazz improvisations and the sexy sax sound waves all over your brain.”
BEING AS AN OCEAN How We Both Wondrously Perish
ROSANNE CASH The River & The Thread
PROTOMARTYR Under the Color of Official Right
Run For Cover (2014)
Hardly Art (2014)
“...the atmospheric postpunk is served raw and sharp. This is new, fresh and sounds different, our new favourite band just landed.”
TOMBS Savage Gold
“...presents an incredible atmosphere created by mesmerizing and brutal tracks that lock on each other almost perfectly.”
OUGHT More Than Any Other Day Constellation (2014)
Sacred Bones (2014)
CURRENT 93 I Am the Last of All the Field That Fell The Spheres (2014)
“...they’ve created another brilliantly immersive album, where the folk blues of the duo besides nightmarish is incredibly seductive.”
MORE THAN LIFE Whats Left of Me
Holy Roar Records (2014)
DOUG PAISLEY Strong Feelings
TWILIGHT III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb
No Quartet (2014)
Century Media (2014)
“Too True works like an addiction, both daring and honest, and it’s all captured by the persistent way that Dee Dee discusses her music.”
“...alternating melancholy and sadness that genuine emotion typically found in classic American country music roots...”
“Twilight’s final album is, quite possibly, a future classic and another way to prove how vital black metal is nowadays.”
ANGEL OLSEN Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Sub Pop (2014)
“...one of the most perplexing albums of the year, but also one of the most brilliant albums of the year.”
“Once again the band’s punk instincts are more prominent here than ever before, even when they say this will be a more rock album.”
“...more expansive, ambitious and totally unpredictable, more raw and sometimes agonising as hell.”
DUM DUM GIRLS Too True
“...Canada’s Ought one of the more exciting and better bands in today’s alternative music realm.”
“they maintained that unique and singular sound approach, and is impossible not to feel enchanted by them, simple as that.”
FUCKED UP Glass Boys
Full Time Hobby (2014)
“...a flawless record, a record that we needed to hear, but smells like a classic that will make a huge impact on generations to come.”
“... a relentless and ferocious exercise of pure and destructive noisecore, that never let us breed and really shake us completely...”
“Plague Vendor sound raw and heavy as fuck, where we see the heart and brains at work at the same time.”
SMOKE FAIRIES Smoke Fairies
“...if a kid asks what hardcore is, i hand him a copy of Black Flag, Minor Threat or Trash Talk copy of No Peace.”
THE MEN Tomorrow’s Hits
Trash Talk Collective (2014)
WHITE LUNG Deep Fantasy
6131 Records (2014)
PLAGUE VENDOR Free to Eat
TRASH TALK No Peace
“... chaotic moments that are kind of constrained by this idea of continuity and progression in a self-imposed pace.”
VALES Wilt & Rise
“...listening to them is always like riding in an emotional roller coaster, giving us more than an experience, a lesson in life.”
“This is perhaps the best Rosanne Cash album throughout his 35-year career already, it may seem excessive, but it is a fact.”
TRYPTIKON Melana Chasmata
Cantury Media (2014)
“When there are albuns that act as an emotional and artistic portrait of musician, everything gets another meaning. Brilliant!”
“There’s no other way to put it: Melana Chasmata is a masterpiece and an essential record to have in your collection.”
NEU // VOL.3
NEU! BENJAMIN BOOKER CAMERA SHY ALVVAYS HOCKEYSMITH
BENJAMIN BOOKER Where? New Orleans (USA) Who? Benjamin Booker, Max Norton For fans of: Jack White, Lee Bains & The Glory Fires
ne of the songs that probably will be on repeat on many people’s players during this summer is “Violent Shiver”, a vibrant punkmeets-blues song written and sharply performed by Benjamin Booker. Booker is a young singer-songwriter from Tampa - but now based in New Orleans - that combines punk, rock, blues and folk in a well-mixed musical cocktail. Some of his inspirations are outfits as The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson, and T. Rex, but he also shares some love with hardcore bands like Black Flag. Booker has with him drummer Max Norton that together bring to life this frenetic combination, which led to
the release of his debut single, Violent Shiver 7”, via Rough Trade Records. Giving to the great feedback that he had, Booker has already performed on Letterman and he’ll be joining very soon Jack White on his tour. Besides the exciting news of touring with Jack White, Booker announced that he’s going to release his first full-length this summer. The self-titled debut album will be out 19th August on ATO (USA) / Rough Trade (Europe); it was recorded in an all-analog studio in Nashville and produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray For The Riff Raff). This seems to be a pretty great match and let’s see how the new songs will sound like.
NEU // VOL.3
CAMERA SHY Where? Philadelphia (USA) Who? Nick Bassett and Alexandra Morte For fans of: The Softies, The Cardigans, The Sundays
amera Shy is the newest project of Nick Bassett - known for playing in bands such as Whirr, Nothing, Death Of Lovers - and he’s joined by his ex-bandmate Alexandra Morte, the former vocalist for Whirr. It was when Alexandra left Whirr that the duo started working together on this project, where all words are written by Alexandra and all music by Nick. Their first single, “Spin Me”, is an effortless, beautiful song with subtle melodies that show Alexandra’s delicate vocal attributes. This song will be part of their debut 10” Jack-OLantern, due out June 25th with Run For Cover Records, that
was produced by Nick and his Nothing’s bandmate, Domenic Palermo. For the four-track JackO-Lantern’s release, the duo was influenced by bands like The Softies, The Cardigans and The Sundays. Even though they haven’t released the 10” yet, Camera Shy have already a great amount of material for their first LP, which as they stated “While the debut is very much a stripped down effort, the follow up LP builds on that and incorporates a full band approach not unlike The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, and bands you might have found on the roster of England’s Sarah records in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.” We can’t wait to listen to all that.
ALVVAYS Where? Toronto (Canada) Who? Molly Rankin, Kerri MacLellan, Alec O’Hanley, Brian Murphy, Phil MacIsaac For fans of: Fear of Men, Best Coast, Seapony
t’s no news that Canada is a place where a lot of promising bands are showing up. Based on Toronto, Alvvays pronounced “always”, - is a group led by Molly Rankin, she’s part the famed band The Rankin Family - a multiaward winning folk family collective - pretty awesome, right? But leaving family facts aside, Rankin and her partners in music bring a laid back lo-fi indie pop tunes with reverb-laden guitars alongside the lovely voice of Rankin, which she’s frequently compared to Tracyanne Campbell’s voice (Camera Obscura). Despite having released an EP in 2010 - that’s not actually available
now, the quintet released last year their first single “Adult Diversion”, and also a video that shows the young and free spirit of the band. Rankin mentioned that normally she writes about relationships and whatever it comes to her mind, but she sure knows how to a attach a little bit of bittersweetness in her lyrics. Alvvays shared recently a new single, “Archie, Marry Me,” that will be part of their self-titled debut album, that will be out 22th July via Polyvinyl/Transgressive/ Royal Mountain. This first fulllength was produced by Chad VanGaalen, along with producer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile), so probably we can expect a surprising record.
NEU // VOL.3
HOCKEYSMITH Where? Cornwall (UK) Who? Annie and Georgie Hockeysmith For fans of: Warpaint, Grimes, London Grammar
ockeysmith is a project formed by two sisters, Annabel and Georgie Hockeysmith, that decided to make music together in a caravan on a farm in Falmouth, Cornwall. From such a peaceful and quiet place, it emerges the dark, evolving electropop of these two girls. They write and record by themselves their electrostatic music mixing up their tender vocals. Last summer, they released their debut single on their own Backabelly label, the double A-side of “Now I Want To / Let’s Bang”, two mesmerizing and gloomy tracks that kind of blends perfectly shoegaze with electronic sounds.
Early this year, the sister duo shared “But Blood”, the first track (and title track) from their forthcoming debut EP, that’s now available on Double Denim Records. With But Blood, Hockeysmith claim their place in the music industry. This EP is much more than a collection of song with a lot of effects and textures; it’s a fierce approach on the electronic music, where they fuse assertive guitar riffs and hypnotic vocals with the spacey, gloomy atmosphere, reminding sometimes Grimes mixing up with Warpaint or even Au Revoir Simone - yes, an interesting combination. Hockeysmith started making their music in a caravan and it turned out really well...
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SPLASH YOUR INTERVIEW // THE CASH!!! HONEY TREES
ou started The Honey Trees back in 2008. Tell us a little bit of how you met and what led you to begin this musical journey together. Becky: We met when Jacob was on tour with his old band. We talked about playing music together for a couple years, but it didn’t really happen until we got the opportunity to record at producer Charlie Peacock’s studio in Nashville. Jacob: I had heard some of Becky’s demos on myspace, and offered the chance to record Wake The Earth out there. That’s really when we began thinking more seriously about the band. Becky: Jacob was doing his own solo project at the time, but we decided it made the most sense to join forces and pursue music together.
This debut LP was worth the wait, which follows-up your debut EP “Wake The Earth”. What does this “Bright Fire” represent to you? Becky: Thank you so much! For us,
Bright Fire represents growth. The time we took between Wake the Earth and Bright Fire was spent learning and growing as musicians and songwriters, and trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do with music.
I read your press release and it says there that you took four years to make your debut LP. Was it a tough and difficult process for you? Jacob: It was pretty tough because
we really didn’t plan for it to take as long as it did! We had such a great experience when we recorded our first EP, we really wanted to be patient and decide carefully what our next step was in recording a full-length. Becky: Also, we weren’t technically a band yet when we first recorded, so we wanted to take our time to really figure out what we wanted to do. Even though it was a little longer than we had wanted, things wouldn’t have gone the way they did with Bright Fire if we didn’t take our time. So for that we’re grateful!
What did inspire you during the making process of this LP? Jacob: There were a lot of things that
inspired us during the making of Bright Fire. For one, we got to record this album in Springfield, Missouri, and even though that isn’t the first place
THE HONEY TREES
The Honey Trees are a California dreamy-pop duo consisted of Becky Filip and Jacob Wick. In 2009, the released their promising debut EP "Wake The Earth" and they took four years to make their so-awaited first full-length. Their simplicity and true commitmen to their music is worthwhile and "Bright Fires" totall shows that. We caught up with the duo and they shared with us how was the process of getting this album done and what does it represent to them... Words: Andreia Alves
you think to travel to be creative and inspired, it was so great just getting to be in a new place. Becky: We went in November, so it was the middle of Autumn and it was absolutely beautiful everywhere. We don’t get many changing seasons where we live, so it was really inspiring being surrounded by something new. Also, working with our producer Jeremy Larson was inspiring, because he added a whole new view to the songs.
Lyrically, you explore subjects as love and loss in your songs. How do you usually write your lyrics? Becky: Both of us usually just write
whatever comes when we start a song. It usually starts out as just singing gibberish to a melody, and then we come up with ideas and concepts for a story. Lyrics are a very important part of what we do, and we always try to write songs that are meaningful.
What is the song on this record that stands out the most for you? Becky: There’s two songs that really
stand out for both of us. One is “Wild Winds”, because it’s so different than any other song we’ve done. I recorded over 100 vocal tracks that we used in place of different instruments. We were really excited about how that one turned out. Another one is “Siren”, because it’s a song that we’re both very proud of lyrically and musically. It’s a satisfying accomplishment of a song. Jacob: As a writer, it felt like sort of a bucket list song for me. I’ve always wanted to write this type of song and I was very fortunate that it naturally happened in the way that it did.
You produced your record with Jeremy Larson at his studio in Springfield, Missouri. How was the recording process with him? Jacob: Really, we wouldn’t be
exaggerating in saying that it was one of the best experiences we’ve had with music. We all got along so incredibly well, and Jeremy was very in tune with what we were striving to create. We also gave him a lot of free reign, so it was truly a collaborative effort.
All the merch and artwork for your band is made by you, which is pretty great. What’s it like the process of making it? Becky: That part is always really
enjoyable for us because we both love creating visual art. I’m an illustrator and Jacob does graphic design, so it’s always fun to put those skills together to create our own merch. We designed
“Lyrics are a very important part of what we do, and we always try to write songs that are meaningful.” Becky Filip all of the artwork for our album ourselves, which made for a lot of late nights, but we were really happy with how it turned out.
You’ve also edited the video for the song “To Be With You”, which it was directed by Simon Filip. What can you tell us about the making process of it? Jacob: To be completely honest, none of us really knew what we were doing! We just had this idea for a video, and had to be creative in making it happen. We filmed all around the Central Coast of California, and a little bit in Northern California, so it was fun to explore and film in really different places.
The cover you did of “Moon River” is such a delightful pleasure to our ears. Is “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” or Audrey Hepburn’s movies an inspiration for you? Becky: Thank you very much! I love Audrey
Hepburn, but strangely enough, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my least favorite out of all of her movies! I just really loved that song, and when we went to film that video of it, it was sort of just a backup song we had the option of doing just in case. We didn’t even really know it that well yet, hence the paper with the lyrics and chords on the ground you can see at the beginning of the video!
Are you planning on making more covers soon? Jacob: We always talk about doing more covers, we’ve just been so focused on releasing our original songs. We plan on doing a few covers here and there in the future for sure!
What’s next for The Honey Trees? Jacob: Hopefully some touring, some video making, and then recording again! We definitely won’t be taking as much time anymore as far as putting out music.
Self-released debut album “Bright Fire” is out now
Vensaire is not a conventional
band, and why's that? Because every little detail of their art matters, from the wide collection of exotic instruments to the minimalist, meaningful artwork. With "Perdix" - their debut album - the group shows their tremendous creativity and potential. We caught up with Alex LaLiberte that explained us the mythology involved in the creation of this modern piece of art and what makes their music so special. Words: Andreia Alves
ell us a little bit of how Vensaire came together to make music.
Originally, me and Rob [guitarist] went to college together and then I had a friend from back home who is in Boston; I was writing new songs and we tried to do something together. Eventually it became something much bigger like the record. And then we got a drummer and a violinist and weâ€™ve started making it happen.
Each one of you brought different influences to Vensaire sound and it worked out really well. What did influence you the most when you were starting working on the first songs?
I think is a bunch of different stuff actually, but I donâ€™t really listen to that much music necessarily. I mean, The Beatles are obviously a huge influence, but at the same time everyone has their own influences. I know that Rob is more into 70â€™s rock, Hunter 32
[bass, synth] is more into techno and the club scene, Jacobs [drummer] is into basically any kind of music and Renata came from a classical background, so she knows all that stuff which it’s incredible because she can play any instrument that you put in front of her. She’s pretty much capable of doing anything. But all around, I think folk music was a really big influence around me, like Nick Drake and Bob Dylan. Those are like my favorites growing up, so I think that really influenced why I write lyrics the way I do, you know, the melodies that I write are all influenced by that for sure.
Your music has this blend of Western pop, indie-rock, psychedelic folk music with traditional Chinese/Japanese music. It’s simply refreshing how you mix different instruments and different genres. How usually works the songwriting between you guys?
For Perdix songs, those were mostly written by me and Rob, and because we were the first members of the band, those were the first songs we ever wrote as a band and that’s how that worked out. But recently when we’ve been making songs, we kind of go in teams; there will be a song coming out in the end of the summer that Rob wrote by himself and then there’s another song coming out which Jacobs and Renata wrote together. It’s kind of a collaborative thing now, because we come up with a melody or a song that’s like bass and guitar or on keyboards; we’ll bring it to the band and then everyone kind of puts in their part to it or we kind of explore, like if we put a bridge here or we cut out this verse here. It’s not so much one person anymore as much as it used to be.
Let’s talk now about your debut album, released last month. “Perdix” is a concept album based on a mythology. Tell me about this mythology and what is it about.
There’s a bunch of different things that it is about, but mainly is about the alludes for the Odyssey, so Homer’s Odyssey that’s kind of a running theme just the journey in general. I laid it with the artistic kind of journey as opposed to trying to get back to your wife after a hard fought battle. I tried to make it more like how an artist finds himself and how they end up coming with a product or a piece of art. At the end of the day, the artist would be Odysseus and the piece of art would be Penelope. Odysseus is sort of the artist looking for his Penelope, which it would be his artwork and his statement into the world. That has a lot to do with how the record lyrically is composed. There’s also the name of the record, it’s called Perdix which is a mythological story about Daedalus and his nephew Perdix. Daedalus is like famous for being a legendary crafty guy, he’s like an artist and he makes things that no one else makes. So his nephew comes to town and he’s incredible. His nephew is like really good, maybe even better than Daedalus himself. Daedalus becomes jealous at all the abilities that Perdix has and he decides to push him off a cliff. Athena - who’s the goddess of artists in general - turns Perdix into a bird and so obviously he doesn’t die. He becomes a bird and that’s why the grey partridge is named Perdix
perdix. At the end of the day, the reason that story is the album theme is because when you create something like an album or a piece of writing or a sculpture or anything, you have to kind of kill it, you know? You kind of have to let it be dead, like you have to at one point say: “I have to stop doing this because it has to be finished”, and when you do that you kind of are branded with that; you are like stuck with that piece of artwork on you as a tattoo almost. That’s a huge part of the artistic process and I think also getting over jealousy of our other artists and stuff like that and working through that jealousy.
Did you pick up this concept while you were working on the songs or was something that you had already planned? Actually, a little bit of both. As we were writing the first couple of songs, I was actually lying somewhere and I was just like taking stock of how many songs we had. I wrote them all down in paper and all the sudden I realized that there was a narrative that I came up with on just writing new songs. I put them in the order I thought they should be and then some of the songs didn’t have lyrics yet, so at that point you can tell more in the half of the album, like on the songs “Finding it Found”, “See I’m You” and “Song 6”, all of those were written after I figured out the concept, so those have lyrics that allude to the Odyssey directly. They have like the names of Calypso and Circe and they tell these stories pretty much of those things Odysseus that had to go through. Even the first three songs - “If”, “Tel Aviv”, “Porteño” - had so much to do with the artistic process and it wasn’t a journey for the artist. Perdix had to be the title of the record, because it just speaks so much to what an artist is and so that’s why I decided to call that.
I read that it took a few years to conceive your album. Can you walk me through of how was the making process of this album?
At first, we were trying to do on our own. In fact, I was pretty animated about doing it on our own, because I really wanted to be able to do everything I wanted to and I also didn’t have any money. [laughs] Anyway, we tried a bunch of times and the songs came out ok, but it was like the power of the songs wasn’t coming through - like the bigness of the songs wasn’t coming through. We tried that for almost a year and a half, then we all got kind of burned out on doing that. There were like really bad feelings in the band, because it was like a failure, you know? And so that’s when we decided to the EP. On the way through of creating the album, we decided just to write five songs and everyone wrote a song in like a week, so all the songs on the EP were written in a week and we recorded them at the end of that week, basically. That brought the spirits much higher and actually exposed us to be in a real studio with having an engineer, a producer, a live drum set and not having to record everything ourselves - which is really stressful when you’re trying to make a good performance and to record at the same time is really hard to do. So having someone there in the booth managing all the nobs and making sure that it sounds right was a huge weight off our shoulders. After we recorded the EP, we felt like we had a renewed spirit to get this record done. Basically, we made a list of all the producers that we really like, all the records we really like and we sent them all letters asking if they would produce our record. We got no responses back obviously. [laughs] musicandriotsmagazine.com
INTERVIEW // VENSAIRE But one person that I’m really thankful for responded back. Scott Colburn (Animal Collective, Arcade Fire) said that he would do it and Feels’ Animal Collective record is one of my favorite records and so that was a huge deal for me.
That was the push you guys needed for sure.
That was a big deal for us and he stayed with us I think for two weeks or maybe a month. We worked with him and he recorded it within a week and mixed it the next week after that and then we flew out back to Seattle. We had a product that I was pretty happy with, but I felt there was a lot of things that needed to be done still, just like on the mixing side. It’s not anything against Scott, but the album needed more time than a week to mix, you know? And it needed some sounds that weren’t there. So we worked with one of our good friends, Geoff Strasser. He’s like one of the best mixers I’ve ever met. He’s incredible, like watching him is like watching some kind of computer genius. [laughs] You just tell him anything you want like: “I want this part of the song to swell and become like a bird” and then he’s like “Alright. What do you think about this?” and then all the sudden you’re like “That’s exactly what my head was thinking”. It’s so nice to work with someone like that. After three years, we finally had this record coming together because of these two people, Scott and Geoff. You need other people to help you sculpt your art for sure and to think otherwise is a mistake.
On this record, you have a big exotic instrument collection, including tablas, erhu, guzheng, and sitar; and also lots of percussion instruments. How was the recording process of all these instruments?
First we tracked with guitars, violins, drums and bass. So it was like the first step and then we went with the samplers which we actually made a bunch of them on these synthesizers that have kind of like instrument packs and you can basically play any instrument you want if you have the certain pack. We played a bunch of them on a synth and then we had a bunch of crazy instruments from Renata’s house. Renata is from Argentina and so she had a bunch of exotic instruments from when her parents were travelling. She had these crazy percussion instruments that 34
I don’t even know the names of. [laughs] She had weird stringed zither stuff like that and then on top of that we got this guzheng player which is a Chinese zither. It’s kind of like a koto. I found Alice on my way to a friend’s house. The train had just arrived and I was running to the train and all the sudden I heard this woman playing this beautiful Chinese instrument, so I threw money at her, I grabbed a CD and I ran into the subway. [laughs] I listened to the CD at home and listening to it I thought: “This is amazing!”. Luckily, she had her contact information on it. I contacted her and asked her if she would play on our record for a couple of songs and she said yes. She came in and lent her skills to the record for sure.
Was since that moment with her that you guys got involved with Chinese/Japanese music?
Yeah, definitely! Chinese and Japanese music were really influential to me in making this record. I was kind of going through a really big phase of that. That was all that I had in my headphones, I was so animated with it. That was a huge influence for sure in creating the vibe in the sound of the record.
The track six (“Song 6”) title is in Japanese. So, what does it mean?
Well... [laughs] I almost would say that you should figure it out, because that’s kind of the point of the song. But I tell you. [laughs] It’s a bird’s name. So, there is this bird called Penelope Obscura, which makes sense obviously with the Odyssey. I wanted that to be the name for the song, but it doesn’t make sense if I just tell everyone that’s what the name is. If I had just called it Penelope Obscura, the name is not really obscuring. I wanted to kind of bring a metaphor for what the song meant and so I put it in Japanese. Even in Japanese, if you translate it, you would be pretty much confused, because you want to understand what it means. Dusky-legged Guan is the name of the bird but the Latin name is Penelope Obscura. I like this idea of mystery and codes; I wanted to someone to take that name and song that’s kind of poppy and dancy and to be really animated with it, and want to find out more about what the lyrics were and why was called this. I named with that in order for people to have a journey on their own, a journey for themselves
to figure out what this meant and to make that song actually mean what’s suppose to mean. That song is all about something like your artistic endeavour, what you’re trying to do to get your Penelope, the thing obscured by not only like pleasure, passion, loving other people and all that stuff. But also you not being able to overcome certain things inside yourself. You can’t be obscured by all this stuff and all you have to do is kind of clear the way, but it’s hard, you know? It takes time and it takes a journey to figure out where or if you ever find Penelope. That’s the reason why that is in Japanese, because it’s suppose to be obscured from the audience.
“Rose Cottage” is probably the centerpiece of this album and it’s the longest track of it. How was the process to get this track done?
[Laughs] This is kind of a long story... But this song came together in three parts. The first part that I wrote was the “part two” of the song: [sings] “Hold yourself up...”. I originally wrote that in the shower. [laughs] I was singing in the shower and my girlfriend at the time, who this song is about, she was like “You should record that” and I said ok. So I sang into my phone and I would say it took me about six months in order to finally get an instrumentation and to get the whole thing done. It was the only part I had for a while, probably about a year. Then I wrote the lyrics that are all about, well... I don’t wanna talk about that right now. [laughs] Anyway, I got that part written and then I gave that song to Jacobs and he had done a remix of that “part two”, and I was like “Oh my gosh, this is amazing. It’s incredible, I really love this.” I think we might actually came out with that remix while he joined the band. To hear him doing that, I was like “You have to be in my band for sure.” So he did that and then we were just jamming and playing guitar with open guitar chords; we sort of did some kind of travel like strumming and letting ourselves go and that’s how “part three” came about: [sings] “Oh, oh oh...”. That’s kind of a celebration at the end of that song, which I really think it was necessary. And then “part one”... I had just bought a sampler and it had a bunch of weird sounds in there. I was kind
“It’s like the Odyssey that you tell the story and then it would end with them telling the story of how the story began, and the story of the story in the story...” of bored and I had this kind of loop going over and over again, like monotonous. The artist Steve Reich is a classical contemporary composer and I had this loop of one of his pieces called “Drumming”. I started to sing with it over and over again and it just felt like it was kind of the same thing as “part three” came to be. I’ve started doing melodies whatever I felt and letting any words come to me. The main part of that is that the words are supposed to invoke just feelings and images as suppose to tell a narrative. So that part is actually, in the regards to the whole song structure, that’s the dream that he wakes up to; he wakes up and he’s talking to his girl on “part two”. So, “part one” is a dream world, “part two” is him waking up from that dream world and reassuring his girlfriend that just because things are good doesn’t mean that’s as good as it’s gonna get, you know? And then “part three” is kind of like a hopeful jubilee, a hopeful celebration of just feeling like in love, happy and knowing that things are good.
“Perdix” ends as it began, allowing the record to be looped ad infinitum, and that’s really amazing. Was that intentional?
Yeah! Definitely. [laughs] The concept of the record really lands
itself to that kind of loop, because when you create a piece of artwork you never really get to Penelope, you know? You’re always trying for make it perfect and what you realize is you have to go through the process a billion times, you have to keep going through this journey in order to become a really good artist. You may never find Penelope, but it’s the constant journey toward that thing (Penelope) that you need. In other words, you might have this wonder part, which is like telling the story of the whole record, it’s an epilogue basically or like an end. But at the end of that, it kind of begins the story again, so him telling the story or him doing the prologue is set up to the story be told over and over again. It’s like the Odyssey that you tell the story and then it would end with them telling the story of how the story began, and the story of the story in the story...
Does the cover art for “Perdix” have any connection to the mythology in question?
Yeah! Actually that cover art was done by my ex-roommate John Stortz, he’s a really good friend of ours. I’ve always loved his art and actually I have been talking to him about the cover art for almost as long as the record has been in production, so that’s a long time. During that process, I’m telling him
all these themes for the record and giving him ideas, like I wanted to be like Japanese, a certain style and certain images to be in there. The record’s cover is supposed to tell a story of the record itself and also if you print out the cover, it kind of loops infinitely and that was the whole idea. If you have two of them and put them next to each other, they’re supposed to line up like a perfect circle, so you just keep going around and around on them. There’s a ton of symbols on the cover: there’s the girl, there’s a cave of flowers which is where “Song 6” basically takes place; there’s the man looking to the sea which is “Tel Aviv”; there’s a boat; there’s the wood block - on the right side there’s an intact block of wood and on the left side there’s a carved block of wood. That actually represents the Perdix idea, so once you carve into a block of wood you basically scar it, you can’t out it back again. Once you take a piece of that wood out, you can’t ever put that piece back on, because you’ve destroyed the piece of wood in order to make something like a piece of art.
Self-released “Perdix” is out now and its reviewed on this edition
INTERVIEW // SHONEN KNIFE
It might be strange to think that it was the enthusiasm of Kurt Cobain that first brought focus on Shonen Knife’s irreverent, sunny pop-punk to the west, but decades on, his enthusiasm has spread with each album. With the release of their classic rock-leaning “Overdrive”, vocalist and guitarist Naoko Yamano gave a little insight into the lives of Osaka’s most rock & roll daughters.
Words: David Bowes
ou have just released your 19th album in over 30 years. What can people expect from “Overdrive”?
The concept of Overdrive is ‘70’s Rock and Hard Rock. I like to listen to 70’s music and be inspired by that. People can time slip to the golden era of Rock.
What is a typical day in the studio like for the band? Do you try to keep to this same pattern for every album?
We recorded rhythm tracks for 2 days and a few more days for overdubs. It’s very quick. We usually start recording from 10:00 am and finish around 7:00 or 8:00 pm. For lunch, I often eat tasty udon noodles. I don’t try to keep to the same pattern, it’s just natural.
Last year, you covered “When You Sleep” for a My Bloody Valentine tribute album. They have a very different sound to Shonen Knife, so was it a difficult song for you to cover? To cover another band’s songs is always fun. The melody line of “When You Sleep” is pop. I could have covered one of many choices but I wanted to expand their side of “pop”.
You’ve said that The Ramones and The Beatles are big influences on your music but are there any Japanese bands who mean a lot to you? No, there aren’t. I think I may be inspired by Japanese music without noticing it but I don’t listen to them voluntarily.
The longevity of yourselves and Guitar Wolf speaks great things about the spirit of rock and roll still being alive in Japan. Would you ever consider doing a Wild Zero-style movie about Shonen Knife? If so, what would it be about?
I’m not familiar with Wild Zero but if there is a movie director who would like to make our movie, it would have to be fun. Talking about movies, we appeared on a Japanese film called Soul Flower Train. Our song “Osaka Rock City” is a theme song.
What are your thoughts on Japanese music these days? There seems to be a never-ending supply of idol bands but some very good rock bands getting lots of attention too. There are many unique bands in the underground scene in Japan like Extruders, Convex Level, Red Sneakers, AlReady Yours, Yellow Machinegun, and so on but they are very 36
underground. I have no thoughts on major music of J-Pop and J-Rock. They are not rock but commercial.
You were largely introduced to the US through Kurt Cobain and you then joined Nirvana on the Nevermind tour. What do you remember about that tour, and of your first exposure to American audiences?
I am always thankful to Kurt and Nirvana. The tour was long time ago and it would be a too long story so I can’t write down everything but it was a good memory. It’s too sad to miss Kurt.
You parted ways with Atsuko when she moved to the US but she is still a part of the band as she designs your stage outfits. What is it about her designs that fit the band’s image so well? The stage costumes she makes are the best!
They’re gorgeous, fashionable, easy to dry, easy to move in and very functional.
You’ve started to lean further away from 70’s punk and onto 60’s pop with your last two albums. What makes a good punk song, and what makes a good pop song? Do you find it more difficult to write one than the other? It’s easy for me to make melody lines but very difficult to write lyrics, especially in English. I think listening to various kinds of music is good for me.
You’re from Osaka, which is known for its manzai comedy tradition. Who is the boke in the
band and who is the tsukkomi?
Hmm... Emi is a rather boke character, but it’s a natural one. Ritsuko is a kind of tukkomi but they are not on purpose like with manzai.
You have a song on “Overdrive” called “Shopping.” Where is your favourite place to go shopping, and what do you always buy too much of?
Are there any dreams left for the band that you still want to fulfil?
I hope Shonen Knife will be more popular and tour at bigger venues. Also, I’d like to play the perfect gig all the time.
Do you have any final message for your fans? Please listen to our new album Overdrive and I hope you enjoy it.
I like to go to Namba-Shinsaibashi in Osaka for shopping. I like to buy delicious foods and clothes.
You’ve said that in Britain, you like to visit the pub. What is your favourite pub food? I prefer fish and chips to burgers.
“Overdrive” is out now via Damnably 37
CANADA’S BEST KEPT SECR
A new band with a brand new album, “More Than Any Other Day” length, and what you can expect is nothing less than music that see band that has been playing together for quite some time and is relea record. That’s how impeccable Ought’s music is. We talked with the Tim Keen, and the vocalist/guitarist/lyricist, Tim Beeler, to find ou about this Montreal based quar tet that is surprising eve Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Victoria Davis
”, their debut fullms to come from a asing like their third drummer/violinist, t a little bit more ryone.
ow did you guys meet and how did the band start? Tim Keen: We all came to Montreal because of school at different times. I
met Tim [Beeler, guitarist and vocalist] in the very first week of university and then he met Matt [May, keyboardist] through mutual friends… and we were playing music together for a while. We all lived in a house together that we fed and then Ben [Stidworthy, bassist] eventually, at least from my perspective, just shown up someday and he was playing this jazzy great bass line. I was like, “Who’s that guy?” He just stayed and we just played together all the time. Tim, Matt and I share a house for… we are still sharing a house but we share a different house in which we have been playing music in the living room. So we just practice all the time.
How would you describe the relation between all of you and how does that relation affect the band and the music? T. K.: That’s a cool question. I feel like we’re extremely close friends, we
spent almost all of our time together and that makes it easy to kind of read what the other person is gonna do, you kind of get a good sense of what anyone in the band might be doing while practicing or while making a new song. We kind of finish each other’s sentences at this point. [laughs]
How does it work? I mean, you guys living together makes the band tighter, that’s obvious after listening the album, but it can be really distressful. T. K.: I’m sure that it will be, eventually. We have been pretty good so far.
We’re very close. We’re about to spend a whole lot of time together so we will see how that goes but up until now it has been pretty excellent. And outside the band we all have other lives that we live as well.
Would you say that that fact, you guys spending a lot of time together, is the most crucial point to the band in terms of personality and dynamics? T. K.: Yeah, for sure. It definitely allowed us to reach our sound or to like… to
get to a sound that we felt was ours by playing so much but I mean, it’s not essential. Bands can do it without living together; you just need to practice all the time.
Yeah but other bands need like three or four records to achieve what you guys achieved on your first record. I mean, it’s impressive what you guys did. That’s why I was not surprised when I read that you guys lived together, you know? T.K.: [laughs] It’s a very nice thing to say. Thanks! But yeah, that makes sense
to me. I guess definitely kind of concentrates everything. It allows you to work a little bit more quickly than maybe it would if we weren’t living together. It definitely helped.
What can you tell us about your EP? How was the all experience and what do you make of it now looking back? I know it was self-produced. T. K.: Yeah, we recorded on our living room actually, in the same living room
we were practicing. We just kind of did it in one evening, just like playing all the songs that we had and then I mixed it and we called it an EP. I still really like that EP and I think it’s a really good reflexion of where we were at the time. It felt exciting at the time and I felt like it was a challenging experience, you know? A lot of the songs I was still kind of struggling to play the drum beats on when we recorded them. So, it’s good to have that kind of technical challenge. You can hear us all like using our instruments a little bit better across the year. But still, I’m really proud of what we did on the EP.
On “More Than Any Other Day” press release it’s stated that the 2012 Quebec student protests (Printemps d’Erable Quebec) had a huge impact on the band. Can you tell us what that is all about, what you make of it and the impact on the band and you guys? Tim Beeler: Something we talk about a lot regarding to the strike is how it worked its way into the music not a direct political sense of “this is what the songs should be about”, but more that we all experienced such a unique of energy and community (especially during the Casseroles - nightly protests where entire neighbourhoods went out into the streets banging on pots and pans, often leading into marches through the streets that lasted until www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
INTERVIEW // OUGHT children had to go to bed, or late into the night)... I guess that energy sort of seeped into our music making, and the lyrics sort of came from a natural place of “the things we were thinking about”. Nothing was constructed, in that sense.
We can look at a song or a record from two different levels: the music and the lyrics. How do you guys coordinate that? Are the lyrics the first thing to appear or is it the music? T. K.: They actually both come
together kind of at the same time. Songs usually surface out of very long jam sessions, when we’ll all improvise until it comes together around something that is interesting to all of us. Tim B writes the lyrics, but a lot of them are improvised in the same way that the music is; it comes out of him during the songs. Then there’s a period of adjusting things, but in general it all appears vaguely together. T. B.: Yeah, not much to add. The vocals are a big part of my connection to a song. What normally comes up in practice is something like a feeling. Sometimes the whole song (lyrically) will just appear in a practice, all at once, other times I may have to work them a little bit at home or, more realistically, before we record. Things often change up little when we play them live, to fit the mood or whatever. The other night in Montreal I shouted “Want it” instead of “wanted” at the end of Gemini and then ad-libbed some other lines. We’re really intimate players together and it’s pretty amazing to be able to stretch/change things live, though I guess I’m veering away from the question!
That’s the beauty of a band like Ought. You guys are so comfortable playing together that you can find “new ways”. T. K.: Yeah, it definitely helps
that we know each other’s playing style pretty well. It gives us a lot of room to move within the songs – some songs draw out really long when we play live, there’s always room for a little variation.
Tim Beeler, I know that you have been writing poetry for a long time. Do you consider these lyrics to be a continuation of your previous work or an adaptation of that work, kind of a new and 40
needed approach? T. B.: Well it’s definitely true that
I’ve been writing poetry longer than I’ve been playing music. I think I just found it as a mode of expression at a really young age, a way to convey things I was having trouble conveying in the same way that someone might do with an instrument. I think writing words and writing music are very similar, in both instances you’re just taking something ineffable – a feeling, a thought, etc - and trying to translate into something. In the same way Tim K, I’m sure, did this playing violin or Matt or Ben playing guitar or keys. I don’t know if this is because my expression so often comes out in words, but I am always really affected but instrumental music or visual art that doesn’t employ language. But yeah, to get back to your question: I guess I see lyrics in Ought as similarly connected to the writing I still do or pieces/lyrics I write for other projects in the way someone might think about playing guitar in multiple bands they care about.
Would you say that the lyrics are going back and forth with the two sides of the coin, I mean the positive and negative side? T. B.: Hmmm, interesting. I guess
I might ask you to elaborate, but off the top of my head... That is definitely something that is present on the record. In “Today...”, for example, is both kind of talking about the agonizing nature of some of these day to day things, and hopelessness: like someone isn’t actually going to say “everything is gonna be okay.” But, it is a hopeful song. Recognizing those moments where we feel hopeless or alienated and being able to rally this strange amalgamate feeling of rage and humor and empowerment and transcend it. I guess another song I can think of is “Around Again”, where it does a kind of “You done wrong/I done wrong” back and forth before descending into something in the middle. I think that’s the “Now what?” part of the song. It’s an interesting question.
It’s kind of recognizing a condition. For me it seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with your lyrics. Overall it seems that the lyrics give us, the listeners, some kind of empowerment. Not the crappy “everything will be ok”… way more than that, you know?
T. B.: Yeah, for sure. I can only
speak from a personal place here, but I’ve found that I’ve come to the most powerful realizations etc in my life from acknowledging where I’m holding myself back/ putting myself down, etc. The problem I have with the tunnel is that it makes it seems as if there is a single destination. I guess I would think of it more as recognizing that there are four walls around you. If you do that, then you know it is possible to go outside where that might not have seemed like an option before. No one should purport to know which direction another person should go to find happiness, that is everyone’s individual journey, but recognizing that a lot of people are feeling similarly lost and also similarly empowered to change things can help, I think.
Looking back, would you say that the record raises more questions than gives answers? T. K.: Yeah, absolutely, I think
that’s fair to say. I don’t think any of us would claim to be in a place where we can offer answers to anything. I would say that the record, really, kind of stands opposed to the idea of a unitary “answer” at all. Rather, I think what we were going through when we made the record was a period of pretty intense questioning, of starting to take less things for granted and beginning to wonder how things could be different. And that’s less about certainty and more about starting to relish uncertainty and appreciate being in a place where we can start to question things.
That’s really interesting. Looking back, I think that you guys taking “less things for granted and how things could be different” has also an impact on the sound. I consider Ought’s music to be boundless. T. B.: [laughs] Wow. That is an
incredibly nice thing to say. To talk about the music in relation to that, I think we’re not boxed in by the idea that we are another four-piece rock band. There’s no reason our music can’t be unique or different just because we’re still playing guitar/bass/drum/ keys. I think that happens because we aren’t worried about it, and so a lot of who we are as individuals comes into the music. I think you could take that any apply it to most anything, like the idea that a
“... I think we’re not boxed in by the idea that we are another four-piece rock band.” Tim Beeler
classroom or a workplace or a city could be different if enough room for flux and change was given, enough room for the people within it to live out the possibilities of what it could be, if that makes sense.
The songs on the album were written between 2012 and 2013. How would you describe the songwriting process? I’m really interested to know about the construction in terms of layers and all the arrangements. T. K.: Interesting... Well, we
actually spend very little time in the studio - the whole album was recorded in three days, with a few extra days for some overdubs. We recorded another version of the album, and then re-recorded it at hotel2tango with a few extra tracks when the Constellation thing happened. The songs on the record are very similar to the way we play them live; we see ourselves as mostly a live band, and the record is a document of that. With regards to the writing process, though, we do spend a lot of time on each song kind of figuring it out, but it’s a very organic process. A lot of the songs come out of extended jams, and we just basically select the most interesting bits and try and make them into a cohesive whole.
Yeah, it was a fast process recording but that was only possible because of all the
rehearsing and the live performances. Were you playing a lot of shows while writing the album? T. K.: Yeah, absolutely. We had
played each song a million times before we went in to record it, which really helped. The recording sessions basically felt like another live show, albeit in a really, really nice room.
So, the songs were receiving “upgrades” (new arrangements, new layers, new dynamics) all time. Kind of like what the bands did in the 60’s where they were allowed to play 2 sets per night. T. K.: Kind of... I think we had the
basic structure of the songs down pretty early, that doesn’t really change very much. More subtle things did, though – we learned to play them better with each other, and the interplay between the parts got tighter. For example, even though Matt (the keyboardist) is playing the same thing every time, I can tell when he plays it slightly differently, whether it’s with more intensity or faster or slower or whatever, and I can react accordingly. That keeps it exciting, and means that we’re really listening to each other when we play!
I was really blown away by Matt’s parts with the keyboards, and that’s because it seems that his contributions are crucial for the
dynamics between all the parts/ instruments. Does it feel like that for you guys? T. K.: We often say that the songs would be bad without keyboard? It is true that the photo that’s on the cover was found on a dumpster in Montreal? T. B.: Yes! Our friend Maya found several of these photos of office “team-building” exercises from the 70’s. The one on the cover was hanging in our house/practice space when Ought was coming together.
Instead of asking you some artists that have influenced you I want to ask you which elements of other people’s music has influenced you and the band? T.B.: Neat question. Honestly,
my friend’s bands have the most influence on me at the moment. There’s a band called Lungbutter in Montreal with three of my best friends, and they kill it - Joni’s drumming is something I take a lot from, it’s so solid and rhythmic, but also really fucking heavy. I also think about Fleetwood Mac a lot. We take a lot from a whole range of sources - everyone in the band listens to a whole lot of different music, and what we play together is really just about what we’re enjoying at the time. We could play totally differently tomorrow, I dunno. “More Than Any Other Day” is out now via Constellation
EMMA RUTH RUNDLE
Sometimes it's hard to convey feelings and emotions into words, and sometimes music is the only way to portray the most distressing sensations as the most delightful. That's how you will feel while listening to Emma Ruth Rundle's terrific first fulllength, "Some Heavy Ocean". You may know her name for the other outfits she's in, like Red Sparowes, Marriages, and The Nocturnes, but this time around, Emma is on her own and makes her surprising debut solo album. Emma was kind enough to spare some time with us and to talk about her new journey and how her such deep heartfelt music comes to life... Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Gregory Burns
ou are well known for your bands Red Sparowes, Marriages, and The Nocturnes. Artists when go solo it means that they want to do their own thing and explore new elements. Do you feel that way about your solo project?
This solo project is sort of a realization of music that I’ve always made and just kind of getting the opportunity to release it through Sargent House.
How do you usually manage your time to be creative and full committed in all your projects? I guess that time allowed us to write at home in my free time. Some evenings I’m relaxing and have an idea, so I haven’t quite run into the problem of trying to manage all the music at once. Maybe with the solo and with Marriages having a record coming out, I might run into some problems. [laughs]
This March, you’ve released “Electric Guitar One” which was somewhat improvised and recorded in a moving van over the course of 6 weeks. Was this made after or before “Some Heavy Ocean”, your debut solo album? I recorded the Electric Guitar One record a few years ago. It was on tour with Red Sparowes in Europe. 42
What do you think it differs the most between the approach you had on “Electric Guitar One” and on “Some Heavy Ocean”? Electric Guitar One was strictly more ambience, sort of improvised guitar pieces that I was writing and making in the van and so was largely inspired by just the passing landscapes; having the feeling of moving through Europe and just watching it passing by out the window. So it wasn’t really songbase and I didn’t have any singing really or any lyrics. The new record, Some Heavy Ocean is a much more folk record with more traditional songs with singing. It was a very different approach.
“Some Heavy Ocean” is pretty much a melancholic, remarkable piece of work, which leads us to this heavy and vulnerable atmosphere, but at the same time delightful. Overall, what does this “Some Heavy Ocean” represents for you? Some Heavy Ocean is composed by kind of songs that I write when I’m by myself. At the time that I was writing the songs, I was feeling a lot things that were a little bit more on the sad side, so that obviously translated into the lyrics and into the sounds of the songs.
In 2013, you kind of moved into Sargent House’s home studio in Echo Park, and in two months you wrote and recorded this record. What can you tell me about this whole process?
I was living at Sargent House at the time with Cathy [Pellow, Sargent House’s founder]. Chris Common was also living there and he had just come back from a tour. It was a record that I’ve been wanting to make for a long time, so we just kind of got straight into recording as soon as we got back in the house and it was just very fortunate that we were both able to be there. And because we lived there, we really
INTERVIEW // EMMA RUTH RUNDLE lived the record for several months. Everyday was like waking up and doing it, and because of that we got a lot of time to experiment different ways of recording. We went to different rooms of the house and it was like “What does it sound to sing in this room or this room? Is it more comfortable on the daytime or nightime?” We were very lucky to have so many talented musicians coming through and being around the house, and they were able to play on the record as well. So it was a very intense process, because there’s no going home after or just working on it, you know, living and breathing the making of that record for several months. It was very intense.
Was it exhaustive for you to deal everyday with the record? Because thematically, this record is quite heavy and intense.
Yeah. Emotionally - more than anything - it was an exhausting process. I think a lot of the content was sort of dark and having to think about that and deal with it everyday for such a long time was really exhausting. I’m really happy that it is done [laughs] and happy with the way it came out, but it was a taxing experience. I’m also happy to have the experience.
In the title track, your voice is in reverse and in a nebulous backlooped. What are you singing about in this track?
The story of that song is that it was actually a whole other song. It was a song for a different project that I do and I tried to translate it into a folk song and we recorded it as a full song, but there was something about it that we could never get the song right. It didn’t sound right, it didn’t sound good. It didn’t come out the way that the original song was. So after trying many different things and just feeling that it was an unsuccessful attempt at translating a song from one genre to another, I decided to take a piece of the song, just kind of take all the parts and layered them, reverse them and create more of what you hear, which is the texture with the reverse singing. I interpreted the lyrics as they sounded to me when they were reversed and I wrote new lyrics which I was singing underneath it of what I interpreted and what I heard, which was: “Every time I see you to guide me to some heavy ocean / Used my left hand / Guide me to some heavy ocean.” So that 44
was the last thing that I did on the record, change it into the piece that it’s now the title track. It was an interesting process that it was just constantly interpreting something until it became a completely different idea, a totally different emotion.
Is this “some heavy ocean” related to something you went through, like a metaphor from an event of your life?
I guess is just a visual; the lyrics kind of create the visual representation of something very vast and unknown, you know? The depths of which can go on forever. It’s sort of a sad visual and the idea of something that weighs on you but you’re able to look at, but not entirely understand the full depth of that because it doesn’t make any sense.
“Living With the Black Dog” is probably the darkest and heaviest track of the record. What can you tell me about the creation of this song?
I think that’s my favorite song. Recording it was actually the easiest one. Chris just had this tape machine that he’d been working on and we wanted to try it out. I had this idea for the song and it wasn’t quite complete, I knew some of the lyrics were and how the changes would go, but I didn’t have any idea for how long it would be to hear anything. So we just turned on the tape machine and we made just one large take of the song. We only did one take and I just kind of sang the song as it came to me and it ended up being what it is. There’s no overdubs, just me sitting on a bed playing the electric guitar which the amp is in the closet and we had one mic on the amp and one mic on my voice. We turned on the tape machine and it just came out that way. I think that song holds a lot of the emotion of the time that the record was recorded, because my heart was heavy and I feel like that song is the best representation of it for me. I loved the idea of just being a natural thing; there’s no going back and no fixing anything, it just is what it is.
What about the meaning behind “black dog”?
Winston Churchill would have these really dark moods and he named it as the Black Dog which is something that both my sister and I identify with it as a good name to call your sadness. [laughs]
Are there any artists that you would love to collaborate with someday?
I don’t know... I really enjoy working with anybody, especially my friends and other people on Sargent House. I’m hoping to do some collaborations with Tim from This Town Needs Guns. They’re a Sargent House band and they’re just wonderful musicians. He’s an incredible guitarist and songwriter, so that’s something that I’m looking for to and of course working with Henry from Mylets. I just really enjoy doing things with friends, people that I’ve grown close to and lucky so many of them are in Sargent House and they are such talented musicians. So if anything wouldn’t happen organically, I think I would be too nervous to work with any stranger. [laughs]
You have a blog called “Resent That Discontent” (visit here - http://resentthatdiscontent. blogspot.pt/), where you share your particular and fascinating paintings/artwork. What usually drives you when you draw?
I just love to do it, it’s kind of a compulsion. I’ve always been drawing and painting since I was really young and I always wanted to take classes to learn how to do it but never did. It’s sort of like a free expression. I really like drawing different kinds of animals and things that are sort of different. I’ve just done a series of drawings of babies with birth effects. They’re not published yet. I guess sometimes is a good thing to have another venue for your creativity, like if you get tired of music, you can move to drawing or move to making videos or something else. It’s just another way of expressing yourself.
Are you inspired by any artists in particular?
I definitely have some artists that I love. I don’t think that they would be an influence. There are some painters that I really love and appreciate, but they’re all real artists that are able to capture realism in painting, and so I’m not even near to that level. [laughs] Artists like Phil Hill, artists all across the world. I just got tickets for an exhibit here from Mike Kelley, who was an LA artist. He did noise music and did all kinds of stuff. You probably know his art from the Sonic Youth’s record Dirty, he did the orange-knit
“... Emotionally more than anything it was an exhausting process. I think a lot of the content was sort of dark and having to think about that and deal with it everyday for such a long time was really exhausting.” puppet. There are many artists that I love, but as much as I would love to draw direct influence from them, I don’t think that my technical skills are good enough to do that. [laughs] I did for a while try to copy some paintings from the artist John Singer Sargent - just exercises to try to do more realistic things - but because that takes a lot of effort to focus on actually trying to draw a paint in a realistic way, it takes so much time and focus. I think I have a short attention span so I just kind of go ahead and end up doodling anyway.
I noticed that your latest drawing work is called “Lovers”, which is a series of 3 larger works with the titles “Sweetness”, “Kiss” and “Consolation”. Tell me a little bit about how was the accomplishment of this work and concept behind it. I had all these extra canvas that I’d purchased a long time ago. So I went out and bought some structure bars and I made three of these canvas and I really just wanted to do some larger painting but do them really quickly. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to do anything realistic. I wanted to focus on human figures and the
interaction between lovers, and try to capture sort of the raw energy or expressions of two people vs. trying to fully render out those figures. There’s just a very quick gestural paiting also because I left the canvas swell and I wanted to try using oil paint really soaked, really diffused in temper time so that it could see if it would bleed into the canvas the way watercolor does on paper. It was an experiment to see if I could try to translate the watercolor technique over and it was so much successful that I ended up at just some point of grabbing a tube of painting and drawing straight on the canvas. [laughs] There were gestural paintings that basically tried to capture moments of what is like to be in love, I guess.
Do you think that in some way this work is related to your songs “Run Forever” and “Arms I Know So Well”?
detours of things that can happen; reuniting with someone that’s safe and that can be a promised, a form of salvation for a lot of people, at least for me.
Are you currently working on new drawings?
Yeah! I kind of got attached to this style of painting and also because it’s very cheap, because I have all of these canvas that I don’t have to buy. I just try to use what I have and I enjoy painting. I’ve been doing some little watercolors but I’m doing more oil paintings now, which I haven’t done. I only started with paintings that you saw but I’m doing more of the large pieces with similar gestural figures. I’ve been working on a painting of Joan of Arc, but it’s very similar, in the same style. I’m kind of focus on that at the moment.
Definitely! You’re probably the only person that made that connection. [laughs] I was painting those paintings very much around the time when I wrote the song “Arms I Know So Well”. The idea of feeling safe and okay when you return to someone that loves you unconditionally despite all the musicandriotsmagazine.com
“Some Heavy Ocean” is out now via Sargent House 45
MISERABLE More than a musical project... It’s a statement!
“I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That's the two categories. The horrible are like, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you're miserable, because that's very lucky, to be miserable.” We spoke with Kristina Esfandiari (former vocalist of Whirr) about her new project: Miserable. Words: Tiago Moreira
f I’m not mistaken your first solo adventure was last year under the King Woman moniker. Did you have any goals or you just wanted to try it on your own?
I guess I just feel compelled to play music and I want to tour the world, that’s my goal. And if possible do a little money doing something that I love.
What about Miserable? The same goal?
Yeah! I mean, I just want to… music is what I’m good at, one of the few things, and I just want to connect with people and make music that people feel they can connect with, not feel so shitty and feel like they have someone there with them, almost… When I was younger listening to a lot of music I felt kind of empty and I felt really lonely a lot so I just try to make music that’s really from the heart, really emotional and honest. But yeah, I have a lot of goals with music. I think for most musicians their goal is to be able to express something and travel the world, be able to support themselves doing it, you know? I don’t really feel like a have a choice with music, I kind of have to do it. It’s great to fight depression and also gives me something to focus on. I feel like I need to do it so it just comes naturally.
Would you say that your music is uplifting?
No. I wouldn’t say that’s uplifting but it’s relatable and honest… Maybe to some people is uplifting…
I guess it can be uplifting because gives an honest explosion of reality and people don’t feel alone and like they’re the freaks. Yeahhh, that’s exactly it.
They’re really freaky, those two King Woman’s songs (“Degrida” and “Sick Bed”)… It’s almost like goth meets spaghetti western, as if it was influenced by Ennio Morricone’s music.
[laughs] That’s cool. That’s totally cool with me, I like that. I don’t know, I’ve always been kind of dark since I was little…
Your music is fucking dark.
Yeah. It’s my disposition, I guess. As a child I was like that. Really quiet, reserved... I don’t know, I tried to write uplifting, or poppy, songs but it just doesn’t come naturally for me. I listen to some poppy stuff but as far as writing it goes, it’s beyond me. I can’t seem to grasp how people do that.
Yeah. To be honest, pop music most of the times is like a mirage. It’s talking about something that isn’t real, you know? Yeah, it isn’t real. It’s meant to give people a false sense of happiness.
The first release of Miserable was that 7” Split with Grey Zine. “Night Confessions” and “Devoted” (the two songs on Miserable/Grey Zine Split 7”)
INTERVIEW // MISERABLE
seem to be in the middle of the road. Like a connection between King Woman and this EP, “Halloween Dream”. Do you see it that way? Yeah, I actually do. Those were the first two songs I ever wrote for Miserable. I have different voices that I use and for King Woman the vocals are a lot more dark feminine vocals and for Miserable I would say that’s more 90’s, kind of graspy and more masculine vocals. I think Miserable is a full rock band, kind of 90’s… Emotionally rock music, you know? King Woman is just a dark folk type of project. Although I just recorded a King Woman EP and it’s with a full band and it sounds a lot different than what I’ve done before for King Woman.
On Annie Hall (1977), Woody Allen says: “I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because that’s very lucky, to be miserable.” Can you relate to this? [laughs] That’s awesome. Yeah, I relate with that. The name Miserable came… I was actually trying to start a project with one of the guitarists of Whirr. We were thinking about starting something when I was in Whirr and it just never happened and so I came up with the name for it… I was listening to The Smiths, that song “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”, and I just decided to call it that. I think it sounds cool.
I was amazed to hear you saying, in an interview, “The lyrics in this record sound very regretful.” They seem to go way further than regret… It seems more the acceptance of something that went wrong. I think regrets can stay for a lifetime, it’s lasting. I don’t think of myself as a very regretful person but I was going through a lot at the time and that just kind of what came out of me. They’re very devastated songs… Everything I write is very personal, real and very exposed. Yeah, they’re full of regret but it goes beyond that. You can still have acceptance and regret at the same time and they 48
I guess... If you go further, being the first “stop” regret, you’ll have a little peace in your life. That’s kind of the key point and that’s why your music can be uplifting. It’s all about acceptance, you know? Yeah, you are really putting it into perspective here. [laughs]
Yeah. “Halloween Dream” made a huge impact on me. Did you read my review? Yes I did. I loved it. It was very kind of you. I really appreciate when people… It seem like you actually listen to it. I feel that people write reviews after scheming through an album or an EP and they’re really mindless journalists. For instance, Nothing’s Guilty of Everything was reviewed on Pitchfork… I’ve been a fan of Nothing for a while and I think their new album is just incredible. For me they’re like the modern day Nirvana or something, they’re that band. Their music is special, their lyrics are special and when I heard Downward Years To Come I was just blown away. It was my favorite release of the year… I just have no tolerance for lazy journalism, lazy writers. They’re not into it for the music and it’s obvious in the way they write because they’re careless. That really pisses me off. I’ve been getting mail of kids asking me what’s my opinion about this Nothing/Pitchfork thing… Honestly, at least someone is sticking up for music and at least someone is calling people out, calling the motherfuckers out who don’t give a shit and are just saying mindless shit. You know, those people put their hearts and souls into the music and then someone will just gonna put it some careless words that will affect the way people perceive the music.
My opinion on that subject is: the music business is a shitty business full of shitty people that are just doing politic and capitalism without any regret and regarding the reviews, I think you need to make an effort to understand the music. Sometimes you need to listen to a record a couple of times but there’s also the case where you need to listen like ten times, you know? Yeah, exactly. You have to listen and pay attention because there are things you’re not gonna listen in the first few times and it has to
sink into your soul. You know, there are albums that I’ve listened and thought that I wasn’t really into it but then I listen to it again and “OH MY GOD!” Sometimes your soul doesn’t absorb what’s going on at the time or you’re not in the right mental state. I understand that everyone one is entitled to an opinion, that’s how the music world goes and that’s fine, I’m not opposed to criticism, I think constructive criticism is great… I’m opposed to lazy writers and are careless. That’s not ok to me and I think those motherfuckers should be called out and I’m glad someone is doing it, because I think a lot of people are afraid of doing that because they just want recognition and attention and they’re trying to make it because it’s so hard for musicians. But at the end of the day, you need to have some integrity in what you do and you have to value what you do. You know, I was terrified… I knew that I needed to put this EP out but I was terrified about what reviews were gonna come with it. I was so scared saying to myself “Oh man, they’re going to tear me apart. They’re going to say all this horrible stuff about me, just from what I see on the internet”, but I didn’t get anything that wasn’t really positive, I think, – besides the comments on BrooklynVegan and some sexist hate mail I got – and I was amazed and in shock, well I’m still in shock.
Let’s go back to “Halloween Dream”. Did you have the intention of making something that’s so heavy, abrasive and furious since the beginning? I mean, soundwise.
No, I just went through some really rough shit and I felt betrayed by some people… I was angry and it just came out that way.
The songs suffered a big transformation from the moment that you wrote them to what we now we can hear?
Yeah, the songs were like a process like one song is really sad, like “Halloween Dream” is like beautiful sad, regretful poem and then “Bell Jar” is very aggressive… The rest of the songs are just pretty sad and aggressive. I guess it’s just they were different situations I was in and I just wrote accordingly. I let my emotions come out accordingly.
It was your idea to put that
“punch” on the opening track, “Bell Jar”? [laughs] Yeah. Do you like it?
I love it!
I like to start things really soft in the beginning a lot of the times and then just punch you in the face like mid-song, that’s just my style a lot of the times.
Talking about “Bell Jar”, can you talk a little bit about the lyrics of that song?
Those lyrics are a collaborative effort between me and my best friend, Gabrielle. She lives in Saudi Arabia, we’ve been best friends since we were really young and she wrote like a poem thing and sent it to me. I asked her if I could use some of it for a song. She said yes so I changed it around most of it and took some stuff out but the feeling of what she wrote and some of the words are still there. That’s kind of where that come from.
How would you describe the experience of playing these songs live?
My band is really great. I grew up with all of the guys of my band. I guess… I don’t know, I feel really supported. It’s really heavy live, it’s very emotional and vulnerable. I feel them when I’m playing them and I go back to where I was when I wrote them. My favorite thing about being a musician is… When I’m writing songs I’m imagining how I would perform them live and I’m really into connecting with the audience. I hate stages. I’m planning a King Woman tour right now and I requested no stages wherever we play because I hate stages, I don’t like to be separated from the people. I want to be leveled with everyone and connect with everyone, like I want to grab them, hold their hands, hug them… I want them to feel like they’re not alone. If you’re going to see a band play and you leave without feeling something… You’re seeing the wrong band. You should feel emotional, it should be enlightening and it should expose something.
What do you take from Miserable and what do you give into it? I mean, emotionally.
[long pause] I think Miserable is pretty fucking angsty music. It’s music that I wanted to write when I was a teenager. I put all of my fury and my sadness and loneliness into it. What I take out of it? I guess I
“... I was going through a lot at the time and that just kind of what came out of me. They’re very devastated songs… Everything I write is very personal, real and very exposed.” don’t really take out it. It’s like I unload my baggage onto it and I walk away feeling a little bit lighter. The music keeps me alive, keeps me sane and keeps me from feeling depressed. It helps me to feel relief. I guess that’s what I take from it. I feel relieved.
How you feel about a song and the meaning of that song ever changes it from you? Like a song that you wrote two years ago and now you see it in a completely different way.
Yeah… Well, more so, I would say, like I’ve written a song and not fully understood what I was writing about and now the song is complete and I listen back to it on my headphones and all of the sudden I understand what I was writing about. It’s very weird. It’s surreal.
The “Halloween Dream” video is amazing. Am I mistaken or the footage used on the video was shoot by you with your cell phone?
Yeah. I’ve always wanted to film and direct videos. From my next King Woman EP, for all of the songs I’m going to direct and shoot a video for all of them. I have so many ideas. I don’t have a nice camera and I don’t have the right editing tools yet so I did that video just like a last minute thing. I was homeless for a month because I just got out of a really devastating long relationship and I was crashing at my best friend’s house and since I had a lot of time on my hands I just started the project of making a video. I put like a black blanket over my computer and I was just filming things off YouTube like imagery and YouTube’ videos onto my iPhone and I just compiled into a shitty video… and I’m pretty sure that you can see like the dirt on my screen in the video. [laughs] It was fun. “Halloween Dream” is out now via The Native Sound
Sára Vondrášková, known by her stage name Never Sol, is another brilliant female singer-songwriter. Directly from Prague, Czech Republic, the girl that studied for eight years in a conservatory is now ready to release her first full-length, “Under Quiet”, a bold move from someone that wants to find her own voice and speak through the music while she breaks free from what they taught her back in the day. We spoke with Sára on the phone about everything that surrounds her as an artist.
Words: Tiago Moreira
ou studied music for eight years at the conservatory. How was it that experience? How much of an impact is for you that experience?
I started studying music at the conservatory when I had fifteen years old. For four years it was good because I was a teenager so all the things we’re learning… there was not much thinking about, if it’s right or not. But at the age of nineteen I started to think that maybe not all the things are good for me. I think that musical education changes your own personality so everybody is kind of the same, because you learn the technique and there are some things that are expected from you. Basically in that place there’s only one right way for you to be good. I was starting to think that maybe that’s not the right way, because mistakes, something that is not good, are maybe the thing that’s characteristic of each person and that can bring some character and some originality to the music, or whatever you do. So, I started kind of shift away from the technique and trying to work more naturally on things, trying to forget some of things that I’ve learned.
What made you want to start writing your own songs?
I think I started naturally because I was always playing the piano, so when I didn’t want to practice, when I was tired of practicing, I would just start to play chords and sing. In the beginning there were like little verses, not an entire song, coming out. I remember of liking those verses and wanting to take a step forward and use them to build an actual song. Now, four years later, I really focus on the song and how to build it, but I can tell you that the beginning is still the same: always starting with some improvisation.
But what changed? What are the differences between now and then? Probably the differences are in the end of the song, the arrangements. Yeah, for sure. I think it’s kind of a paradox between, like I was talking about, the music school and the study of music. I was studying jazz, and jazz harmony, and I would say that I follow that structure in a subconscious way. I mean, I’m trying to forget all the things I’ve learned (chords, harmonies, structure and how everything works) but there’s still something, like extensions of chords, that I have in my mind and I kept using it. I’m just trying to forget everything and compose in a more instinctive and natural way, in a way where I can truly express my feelings. But it’s really complicated to deny everything that my brain took years to assimilate.
So it’s kind of a goal, you breaking free from the things that you’ve learned, right? Maybe a challenge too.
It’s definitely a goal. A challenge? Probably yes. But we can say it’s like also the things I hear in music around and for me I know it’s very hard or www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
INTERVIEW // NEVER SOL maybe it’s absurd because I know that I’m never gonna reach that thing but I would like to what I hear around and what I know about music, I would like to build on that and to go further or do something that people are used to, are not used to percept. Find new patterns of music and find new ways. It’s hard but it’s a part that I would like to follow and try. I know it’s not easy but we all hear so many things and we subconsciously use things we hear around us. I want to challenge the patterns that work and that are normal for the majority of the people.
What’s the importance of Café V Lese for you as a songwriter, as an artist? It’s kind of a starting point for me because when I had the songs composed I didn’t have that much confidence about playing them to other people so I was playing them first always with and to my friends. One night we were there, at Café V Lese, after a concert and then we started to play our songs, my songs and my friend’s songs, and the owner came and asked us if we wanted to do a concert. It was kind of a shock because, like I was saying, we never played those songs to anyone but… “Ok, let’s try.” After that first concert we started to play there on a regular basis, like one concert every month or something like that. At first the audience was only our friends but that evolved to us having a public that we actually didn’t know. Café V Lese is a special place because there aren’t many places in Prague where you can hear original and live music. It’s a wonderful place because it works like a platform that gives you space for you to develop as an artist and as an entertainer. It’s really good to increase your confidence and to play there you don’t need to be a known artist. Yeah, it was an important moment for me as an artist.
What’s the importance of Jan P. Muchow for “Under Quiet” and how did you meet him?
Actually Café V Lese was very important because I get to know Jan through my performances at Café V Lese. I was playing there one night and one of his friends recorded the concert on his iPhone and sent it to him. He had an electronic band in the 90’s [The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa], probably the most important here in Czech 52
Republic and I would say they start the electronic “scene” here in Czech Republic, so I knew his work but I didn’t know him personally. After he heard my music he called me and was saying “Hey, I got your songs from my friend and we could meet because I like your songs”… To be honest, I couldn’t believe it. I would never imagine having something like Jan calling me and saying that he wants to work with me. I sent him some demos, he liked it and we started to work those songs in the studio. After two and a half years we finally finished the album. It’s like a good accident, you know?
Do you think that Jan helped you to break free from what you learned in school and to find new ways?
Yeah! I would say that, for sure, because he never studied music, he is a self-taught musician so he has a different way to approach the creative side of music. I was working in music programs until I met him because I was always watching how he worked on things like Pro-Tools and that made me want to start learning how these things actually work. He taught me so many things about electronic music that now I’m trying to even go further. He helped a lot giving ideas about my music, composing and producing.
“Under Quiet” took two years to be completed. Was it a very painful process or it feels like it was the necessary time to achieve what made sense to you?
I think it was kind of natural because we didn’t have any deadline so we were just meeting up in the studio working on the songs. It was like, maybe we started to work on a song and six months later we realize that it wasn’t working so we would change it. It was always a process without pressure, everything was running very naturally and I was actually composing new material during that time, so there are songs on the album that were composed five years ago but there are also songs that were composed last year’s summer. I think it’s interesting because you can feel that time gap on the songs.
Did you ever think about how it will be with the next record? Maybe with the next one you will have a deadline, you know?
Yeah, I thought about it. You know,
I was still studying (Theory of Culture at the Philosophical Faculty) when I was doing this album… So, I was studying, working in some cafés and going to the studio to work on the album. Basically I was not 100% working on the album; I was doing other stuff with my time. But now I have all the time to focus on my music so I think it’s gonna be different this time around. I’m looking forward since music is the thing that fulfills me the most. Having the deadline is not exactly a problem, it’s just different and I’m ready to embrace that “challenge” because I believe that working on my music every day will make me happy.
How would you describe “Under Quiet”? Do you agree with the description “musical architecture”?
[laughs] Wow! It’s really hard for me to say something about it, to say what about it or what does it mean because it’s a very insight thing for me. The songs are about my experiences, things I feel and things I think, and that’s the reason why I compose. I mean, I cannot say some things, I don’t know exactly how to express them through words and sentences so music is my way to express what I couldn’t express, you know? Music for me is like a platform that allows me to put everything out. It’s kind of a different language. There are a lot of barriers with the “normal” language and that’s why I can’t explain Under Quiet. The music that you can hear on Under Quiet was made because of that. Even the title of the album says that if you pay attention. My songs are talking about things that are under the surface, beneath the things that we can “easily” understand.
You have a very curious artistic name. Why did you feel the need of having one?
I didn’t want to be a singersongwriter using my own name; I wanted to have a space for some kind of freedom or personality for my music and for myself. I wanted to give some names for the songs for some framework and the name for me is very abstract, it doesn’t have any specific meaning. I didn’t want to express something with that name. It was writing a bunch of names and this one was kind of a perfect fit for the atmosphere of the songs and the album.
“The songs are about my experiences, things I feel and things I think, and that’s the reason why I compose... Music for me is like a platform that allows me to put everything out.” You’re a regular guest singer with Floex and you have toured with him too. How was it that experience?
It was wonderful. Right now I’m going through my memories of being with him all the time – now we’re not playing shows together because he’s working on new music – and these past two years with him were wonderful. It was a personal experience and musical experience too because I saw Floex working, I had the chance of seeing and hearing this very experienced musician working. It was like I was studying him in a way and at the same time it works like a source of inspiration. It’s really nice to see and hear someone that you admire creating music, to see how he faces that process, you know? It was another great experience to have the chance of being with him, work with him and absorb everything.
From what I know, “Under Quiet” is already released in the Czech Republic. What was the reception of the Czech public? Yeah, it was released last year. It was… that’s a nice question. You
don’t have always the feedback when you’re in the studio working so we released the album in September of last year and we played some concerts after the release. There were a lot of people on album release concert… I was really, really amazed because I wasn’t thinking that so many people would show up, you know? I mean, nobody knew me and you don’t know how people will react to your music. So I was really surprised to see that many people coming to the concert were liking and connecting with the music. Every time that someone comes to me after the concert to say they really like the music… WOW! It’s really hard for me to believe that I made music that people really like. So, to answer your question: I think the reception was really positive.
You are nominated for the Andel Awards (Czech Grammy) for the categories of “singer of the year” and “best new act”. That must be nice and must come as a surprise, no?
believe in your music, like I do, you don’t know if people will share that feeling with you.
What’s next for Never Sol? Are you already working on new songs?
Yeah, I’m still composing. I have some ideas and some little arrangements like I started to base my songs more on synths so I’m trying to avoid the piano. Basically I’m trying to look at things from a different perspective like we were talking before. So yeah, I’m working on some new songs. I came from the tour yesterday and now we will probably prepare some new songs to play in the summer on the festivals, etc. In the autumn I will probably focus my attention to write new songs for the new album.
Yeah, that was indeed a nice and big surprise because even if you
“Under Quiet” is out now via Denovali Records 53
has been walking on different roads since their inception back in 2005. If “.neon” was different from “Lantlôs” and “Agape” was different from “Lantlôs” and “.neon” why the hell their new album would be any different? “Melting Sun”, their new album, is set to be a new challenge to every Lantlôs’ fan out there. We spoke with Herbst (a.k.a. Markus Siegenhort), the guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and now singer to know all about this new chapter of the band... Words: Tiago Moreira
his album is like the gathering of a crazy amount of new things for Lantlôs. How was it for you, facing all these new things and do you feel now the record is ready? I don’t know. It just sort of came, I never planned or did something on purpose but you know, with all the changes I just changed as a person
and this is… yeah, Melting Sun is the outcome. We are very, very satisfied with the artwork, with the sound, with the productions, with the songs… with everything. This is the album I’m the most stoked to release ever.
Yeah, this is a big step for the band, probably the biggest step of the band’s entire career.
Yeah, I think so too. But you know it came so naturally… it may seem to be, for the outside, a big change but I never changed anything in terms of writing songs or so. It’s just that I write different songs
now. I don’t know, I can’t really explain it. I feel like I have said everything in the black metal sphere for now. I can’t say that I will never record another black metal album but for now I’m kind of done with that stuff… I mean, I don’t hate that stuff, it’s just that I grew out of it.
Did you feel the need to find a new way to express yourself?
No, not really. It has lot to do with my personal life that I changed, you know? I used to have this weird flashes or this weird feel over all life since ages and I finally found
INTERVIEW // LANTLÔS myself, kind of. I’m more relaxed, calmer and I can enjoy more things now. This is just how… You know, my personal life affected this so much.
That’s cool because most of the bands try to find something when they start to experiment and change a little bit, but you seem to have found what you were looking for with “Melting Sun”, in a way. Yeah. We did like four albums and I’m doing this since eight years now and a lot of things changed… I think if you listen to all our albums you will see that they all sound very different between them. The first one was kind of depressing black metal thing with post-attitude. The second one was very intense, fast, quick and forward. The third one was very slow, very weird and obscure. And now the fourth one is kind of a more sunny thing… I feel like this a part of the band, changing all the time.
On “Melting Sun” press release says that “Melting Sun” is a relaxed summer record… Honestly I can’t get that feeling after listening to the album. I get this feeling of bleakness, darkness, a very introspective, dreamy album that is playing with the light in a way that enhances all the darkness. How do you see it? I feel like… Like I told you, for me it’s not really a dark record, not dark at all. It is just weird. I guess that some people can see it like a dark record but to me is all about taking drugs, being outside in the sun with great people, being on the mountains in the evening, barbecuing with your friends. These things inspired me to write those songs and I really don’t have a negative connotation with this. It’s more like a meditation of bliss or absolute flash of ethereal experiences. It’s playing of course a little bit with darkness but it’s for me like 80% on the bright side.
I guess this record is a little bit more “complicated”, more complex. You really need to pay attention to the details, you know? It’s like there are a lot of constructions and deconstructions, and a lot of layers. Do you think that the listener has to pay more attention to get this record?
I wouldn’t really say that because all the people that heard the album say that it’s very intense right away in the first listen experience. The 56
“... some people can see it like a dark re being outside in the sun with great people barbecuing with feedback was been amazing so far. I mean, there wasn’t been so many reviews so far but people have been writing on Lastfm, Facebook, RateYourMusic, etc. They write stuff like “this album blew me away”. It’s crazy. We never had that before with an album so it seems that’s actually very accessible contrary what you said. But I feel that there’s a lot of input because of what you said, all the layering… With all this layering, the soundscapes and noises we almost needed a whole year for putting all the details together and make them sound great so I guess… Yeah, I can understand the “complicated” because it’s so weird…
Yeah, I’m with those people. I loved the record since the first time I heard it but I can’t say that I understood since that first listen because every time I return to it I’m discovering new stuff, you know?
Oh… Ok, ok. That’s what I can understand too and that’s what I said that would be right because we spent a lot of time working, maybe the biggest part of the work was spent on the production. Not like making the guitars sound good
but choosing sounds, layers and creating noises and weird soundscapes. This was the most intense part on the album. A lot of people seem to hear that since they say that the production is phenomenal. That’s so great to hear because we really made an incredible effort, my drummer and me. We spent countless hours just on those little details. We never did this before.
Was it a hard and exhaustive process?
Yeah, totally. It was really exhausting but we took breaks. It was not like we had a schedule that made us work every single day for eight hours. We really had to take those breaks during the creative process because it was just so much to handle. It’s so hard for me to see objectively what’s good and what’s not so good. You know, I wrote these songs; I recorded most of the instruments; I mixed the album; I did the production… Sometimes you look at the computer screen and things start to get a little unsharp because you lack concentration. You heard the songs so many times that you get
look at so many cool songs and I thought they needed vocals. I just took a step forward. I started to sing and experiment until I grew more confident doing it. With the Melting Sun vocals it was weird but it was also cool to have everything now in my hands, expect the drums and some good ideas that my drummer gave me.
I guess that you know singing it takes you to a whole another level as an artist. Oh yeah, totally. In former years, I never spent any attention to vocalists. I listen to music but I never really pay attention to the vocals, it’s more about the instruments, you know? But now that has changed. I started to pay more attention to the vocals, how the singer sounds, if he’s good or not, etc. By starting singing myself I started to develop a more conscious perception on vocals in general.
ecord but to me is all about taking drugs, e, being on the mountains in the evening, h your friends.” tired of it. That’s why we took breaks and that’s why they were so important. We needed to have our heads fresh.
“Melting Sun”. That’s an interesting title. What does it mean and why have you choose it? Like I told you, it also has a lot to do with my personal experiences during the last three or four years. You know, the other records used to have this really dark and melancholy atmosphere but the truth is that during my life I’ve experienced some great things and they all had to do with the sun and these ethereal experiences of summer days. It also has to do a lot with drugs. I choose this title because it’s a weird image of this positive thing. The sun is a powerful image but it gets upside down because it melts… It’s an overall thing on the album where stuff melts.
It seems that you not using screams on this album it was not a conscious choice, and by that I mean that the music just didn’t ask for any of that. That was indeed the case?
Yeah, totally. Also with Neige from
Alcest… You know, I kicked him out. I know it sounds a little bit harsh but it wasn’t so harsh because we’re still friends. I just thought that he was so busy with Alcest and we developed so much since Agape and this album… I just felt that it was time for a change and time to get myself more into the music also as a vocalist, you know? Yeah, we tried a couple of times to make some shouts but it just sounded weird and the band was also feeling that and saying that we should try something else.
Neige having Alcest, I guess he wouldn’t have the time to create an album like “Melting Sun”.
Yeah, but when the first song was written I had already kicked them out because this is so different, this is a new step and it was just about time to try new things. To be honest I couldn’t picture him singing these songs. These songs needed a more rock, upfront vocal style.
How was it for you this experience of singing?
It was weird. [laughs] I write so much stuff in my studio so I just
Do you think that your experience with LowCityRain affected this new Lantlôs’ album? [laughs] It’s so funny that people ask me that all the time but actually Melting Sun was finished before LowCityRain.
Yeah. It’s just so weird with the releases. I can understand why people get mixed up because they were not released in chronological order. So basically it’s the other way around. Melting Sun affected the LowCityRain’s album. [laughs]
Pascal Hauer’s illustrations are amazing. Can you talk about that?
I got to know him through a friend of mine. We met at this party and he showed me some of his pictures and I was like “Fuck! They are really, really great.” I sent him the album, the rough version, without saying any word and he just did that. It was amazing. I really think this is one of the best artworks I’ve ever seen, honestly. He drew all these pictures over a year and it’s insane. He put so much effort and so much power into this… You know, the artwork is like the album. A lot of details, a lot of things that you can discover. It’s really, really good.
“Melting Sun” is out now via Prophecy
LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIR
There are bands that stand out by their enthralling music, others by their deep message, and finally bands with both of that (yeah sure, there are also bands with none of it). Why are we saying this? Well, it's simple. Because when we think of Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires' music, it comes immediately to our minds their enthusiastic, vibrant songs with a great message behind. To prove that just listen to their latest album, "Dereconstructed", an amazing rock'n'roll record that shows more than meets the eye. We caught up with the charismatic Lee Bains III about their new album and went deep into the whole concept behind "Dereconstructed". Words: Andreia Alves // Photo: Wes Frazer
Yes, w recor again
Weâ€™ve now, on to befor I just show. songs cut th that w
ongrats on the new album. It’s a y awesome record. You are now on a break a really newly tour, right?
we sure are. We’re one month before our rd comes out and then we’ll start to tour n.
t was like to play the songs of econstructed” live?
e actually been playing them for a while a year probably. We’ve been playing them our for probably three or four months re we went to record the album. I guess really wanted this record to feel like a . I wanted to go ahead and like have these s kind of done, so then when we went to hem we could just do it, you know? I think worked out really well, because
there was this thinking involved where we were just like going for it. The production of the record kind of lead us on our way to Tim Kerr [Big Boys, Poison 13, The Monkeywrench] and the reason I really wanted to do the record with him because he’s really great capturing these moments of spontaneity, like those kind of raw sounds. I just wanted to make sure that this whole thing would be just go in and just play the songs, just play the shit out of it. [laughs] If the song is out of tune or somebody messes up or whatever, it stays, you know? We have been playing the songs for so long now that I’m actually just excited to put the record out, so whoever comes to the shows actually knows the songs. [laughs]
Early this year, you guys signed with Sub Pop. How did that come about?
It was a result of Tim Kerr sending some mixes to Jonathan Poneman of Sub Pop. It’s weird, like I’ve got done mixing the record, send it to the guys of the band, to some friends and to very few people that I knew their record labels. I asked Tim if he would send it to any labels that he knew. I was wondering if he would send it to In The Red Records, because Tim had put stuff out on that label before, like a lot of stuff, and he was like “Well you know, I send it to Sup Pop...” which I wasn’t really aware of, but I didn’t know that Sub Pop put out basically like a retrospective of his band,
INTERVIEW // LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES Poison 13. So I didn’t even know they were on Sub Pop but he was like “Yeah, I can send it to them” and I was like “Well man, that would be cool, but I think that might be out of our league.” [laughs] So he sent it to Jonathan and he actually got an email back from Jonathan that day. Jonathan said that he really liked the record and asked for my phone number to talk about it. When that happened, we were touring Out West, like just a couple of weeks after that, so Jonathan came to see us in a show in Portland and then a show in Seattle, like we would have Sub Pop officers to see our shows and then we signed with them.
“Dereconstructed” is your second album and it will be out in a few weeks, but is already making the buzz with the singles “The Company Man” and “The Weeds Downtown.” Tell me a little bit of how was the whole process of getting these songs together.
I just write songs in my apartment, just write, rewrite, revise them... So I typically do that before I show the song to the band. I do that, like writing the song and kind of figure out the parts and everything. Then we would realize like from playing the shows that certain parts work better in a song than other parts, for example this song works better at this tempo or in that tempo, you know, stuff like that. Right before we recorded it, I got together with Tim and kind of revised some of the song’s structure - Tim’s really killer on that too. I don’t think this happens on this particular album, but like for instants Tim would be like “You know, it would cool if you started the song on a chorus, instead of just going with a verse,” that kind of thing. So he asked me to do that and then I went back and talked with the band about that. We played another month or two of shows playing the songs that way. I really enjoyed the process as far as the songwriting, arrangement and performance. We had a lot of time and put a lot of effort into getting things the way we wanted them, but then when it came to the actually recording of the stuff, we just did it as quickly as possible. Even though we had all that time to work on the music, we recorded the whole thing in four days. Everything was a blast. The vocals have overdubs, but that’s pretty much it, like there’s some piano, but for the most part everything was live to tape and we were 60
recording in a basement like all looking at each other. I was really happy and I think we all just enjoyed making the record, because there wasn’t a lot of second guessing or overthinking the actual recording, so it was cool.
What’s the meaning behind this “Dereconstructed”?
That sort of notion occurred to me a couple of years ago as I was studying in college and reading a lot of experimental American poets and sort of considering the cultural identity and national identity and all these sorts of things that hail to shape these to often pretty problematic narratives. And I think as somebody from the Southern US, the American civil war leans large in our history, in our present... a sense of identity in our culture as a whole. I think that the popular narrative around the civil war is highly problematic and with the lack of better words I think it’s just served to fuck the average Southerners for a long time, as well as just kind of keep art and our culture in a new sort of old bitternesses and prejudices that don’t do us any good... So I guess this record, I saw it as a sort of maneuver that would send a large attempt to sort of dismantle the conventional idea of the Southerners and to examine how my own personal experiences around me really subverts that mission. I tried at some point to sort of tell what being Southern means to me, essentially with the realization that every person who identifies as a Southern is going to have a different and equally valid notion of what that means. I’ve just been concern with that recently. One of my favorite things about being in a band and travel around the country and the world a little bit that we have is that you get to encounter all of these different traditions and particularly play with bands that have been around, artists or writers or whoever you get to see help people around the world engaging with their cultures and learning from others.
“We Dare Defend Our Rights” is a powerful, kind of anthem track. How did this one come about?
Actually, the title of the song is the state motto of Alabama and it was coined at some point in around the turn of the century - after the civil war and after the abolish of slavery - and during a period when
Southern likes were trying to remain in political control on the region. The motto itself when spoken sort of add at that context a sort of heroic quality and it sounds like the mantra of people who were sticking up for the underdog. I think in fact it was sort of representative of the slavery at the time, essentially just repressing black power in the South. But that’s still our state motto, you know, and I guess it was like two years ago now that the Alabama state legislature liked the Georgia’s state legislature and Arizona’s state legislature passed the law that half police took pull over anybody that they suspected that did born in a foreign country, so that sort of gave not only permission but encourage the police to racially profile and also to outlawed the transportation of undocumented immigrants. It was a very tartarian law. Just looking at that law, our state and regions history of law making alongside that state motto just kind of made my brain explode with the irony. So I tried to reimagine that phrase and tried to consider what it would mean if we as a state really did strike to defend the rights of all of our citizens and what would that look like.
Musically, this new album is more electrifying and vibrant than the last one, “There is a Bomb in Gilead” (Alive NaturalSound Records, 2012), for sure. What do you think it differs this time around while writing the songs?
In the last record, a lot of the songs were written I guess dealing with my more interior life and just about very close relationships. It was recorded with a band that I think it was still kind of trying to locate its voice, you know? I was kind of enamoured with the late 60’s Stones’ records, records of Muscle Shoes and some other stuff of that time. I think all that came like a sort of an influence in that record. But, on the contrast, this record was recorded in a van, we got together in a van, playing new songs. The guys playing on this record I think just have a higher level of energy and intensity in the way they play and the songs were born out of it. I guess I felt like a little less self-obsessed. [laughs] Just paying a little more attention to what was going on around me, but in a broader context. Instead of being resigned as I felt when I
“I tried at some point to sort of tell what being Southern means to me, essentially with the realization that every person who identifies as a Southern is going to have a different and equally valid notion of what that means.” was writing the songs for the first record, with this one I felt more energized and pissed-off. [laughs]
The cover art really seems like something is under construction or even destroyed. What can you tell me about the idea you wanted to convey with that image?
Thank you for picking that apart. [laughs] I tried on this record to engage a process of deconstructing and reconstructuring in different ways. The photo on the cover is of a man’s work by the name of Joe Minter, who’s an artist from Birmingham, Alabama. His house is called “African Village in America” and he’s been working on it for definitely now a lifetime and I’m sure a lot longer. My first encounter with Mister Minter was when I was working in downtown for my mom. On my lunch break - when I was trying to get a hot dog - I saw him walking down the street and he kind of had this handmade African pipe costumed and he had like a big walking stick with a sign on it that said “Reparations Now!” - which meant reparations for slavery. I just was so unmannered of him and just admired his aesthetic as well his goal [laughs] because that’s not the most hospitable place to that sentiment I’m sure. I just admired his courage, but his work I thought
really dealt with the themes that I was trying to lay in this record, probably much more successful that I’ll ever do. I just felt that his work is an excellent manifestation of what I’m trying to do in my own way. The mentor speaks very specifically to his own experiences and does it from a very similar context, you know? We’re from the same place and, even tough our personal experiences are very different, I think we both concern with the way the individuals relate to his cultural context, in which that context can be manipulated the discourse of the powerful.
This August, you’re going to play at OFF Festival in Poland. Are you planning on doing a European tour anytime soon? I really want to do more European tour dates in August, but I’ve never booked a tour over there and there’s so much more involved in it than there is booking a tour here (USA). I’m not really confident and with ability to do it, but I’ve been talking with promoters and booking agents hoping to make that work, because I really would love to tour Europe. We’ll be playing on OFF Festival and play some shows in Sweden and Norway... I don’t wanna be too optimistic, but I’m definitely hoping and trying to do
a full European tour as soon as possible.
Are there any new bands from Alabama that we should listen to?
Yeah! Unfortunately, a lot of my favorite rock’n’roll bands from Alabama aren’t playing a lot right now, but there’s Model Citizen who’s a band from Alabama that we’ve all been really close with for a long time, and actually Matt Patton from Model Citizen plays bass on our record. There’s the Dexateens who’s a band that I was a member of for a while. There’s the Nightmare Boyzzz who are a really great band from north Alabama, but I think they might have just broken up which is a bummer. There are some other bands from other places... There’s another really great band that we just went on tour with from Atlanta called Turf War. I was just telling somebody the other day that a lot of the bands that a couple or three years ago we were playing shows with in Alabama are not playing anymore and that really sucks.
“Dereconstructed” is out now via Sub Pop 61
THEY FIND BEAUTY IN DARKNESS In thir ty two years the band led by the powerhouse that is Michael Gira has changed forever the face of loud, abrasive, dynamic, noisy and guitar -driven music. Star ting by punching everyone’s face with the dilacerating cuts of “Filth” (1983) and going on with “Soundtracks For The Blind” (1996) a more “uplifting kind of experience”, another album that proves that Swans are that kind of band that is always leaning forward. “To Be Kind”, their new album, the third since Michael Gira decided to reactive the band after a four teen years hiatus, is yet another wonderful piece of ar t. Two hours of music, one record and one thing is for sure: it’s exciting from the very first second to the very last. We talked with Michael Gira on the phone to try to understand a little bit better one of the most meaningful and impor tant bands of rock history. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Jennifer Church
INTERVIEW // SWANS
t seems that throughout your career you have always run away from other people’s expectations. Do you ever run away from your own expectations?
Well, that’s the idea. I don’t really care about other people’s expectations. The main thing is keep myself interested and if I’m interested, and my band is interested, then I think what we’re making will be compelling to an audience… And if it’s not, that’s tough luck.
Charles Bukowski once said, “You have to die a few times before you can really live.” It seems that you have embraced this philosophy as a musician. In retrospective, do you agree with Charles’s words and do you think that it can describe your career? Oh, I don’t know. That sounds very melodramatic, much as Charles Bukowski’s work. Charles Bukowski, he is not a great writer but to me he’s a friend in a sense that I like reading his books, it’s like having a talk with somebody in a bar. It’s not great literature but it’s reassuring and comfortable. But as far as that philosophy, I don’t know. I constantly like to be in an uncomfortable place and I think that makes room for better art so that’s why things keep shifting and changing.
Well, I guess that’s what he meant. The shifting and changing. I mean, when Swans started up again a few years you said that it was not a reunion but rather a reconstitution, like talking about walking on a new road, changing things.
Yeah, but I think actually what he was referring to is that he almost died a couple of times… from his drinking, of course. He came very close to death and I think that might have giving him more urgency in living. I guess I’ve been close to death a couple of times but… yeah, it gives you urgency but a couple of days later you forget all about it and you get wrapped up in the usual daily bullshit.
You said, and I quote, “The Seer took 30 years to make. It’s the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I’ve ever made, been involved in or imagined.” With that in mind, how would you describe “To Be Kind”? Well, I would say that the previous album was the culmination of the entire history of the world and universe, all in one. [laughs] And this one is perhaps a visit to your local supermarket.
Someone said that today’s bands and musicians don’t write an album thinking about the possibility of that album turning out to be one of the best albums of the year, decade or even of all time. Where do you stand? Do you think about those things when you’re writing and recording an album? No, that’s the way a rock critic would think. I just try to make the best music I 64
can make at a giving time and I’m very happy when people enjoy it. It’s dangerous when you pay attention to when the people give compliments because then you tend to become lazy. It sure makes me happy when I look up to an audience and I see a lot of people enjoying it, particularly young people.
Would you say that the “The Seer” and “To Be Kind”, both clocking at the 2 hours mark, were only possible because of the strong relationship between all the members of the band? I don’t know. That’s possible. We play very well together now. I don’t know what root things would or will take when we are all not together, this group of six people. But we have developed a repoire where when we start playing the music takes on a life of its own, it’s not so much as playing a song, is more like living inside a world. For that I’m grateful.
There was the preoccupation of not having, in the end, something like three hours of music, or it was nothing like that?
I cut a little bit from this record. There’s a piece that didn’t make it but it was just because I felt it made the record tedious, like it didn’t worked. Last thing I want is to make boring music so I kept that piece off. The only reason I would pay attention to length is if the music doesn’t seem to be urgent, if it doesn’t have a reason to be there then it needs to go. This record turned out to be a little bit over two hours and unfortunately just barely fits into three pieces of vinyl. But, it could be six hours if it works. For instance, I imagine that Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac works at six or seven hours.
Was it hard to pick the right parts? I mean, this album and the previous one are lengthy albums but they are no tedious. You can enjoy every bit of it, from the first minute to the last. That’s really great to hear, thank you. I worked very hard on that, on the dynamics and on the shifting of atmospheres and different places that you go on the record. So it’s good to know that it leads you through.
Would it be fair to say that progression and repetition – I know that it can sound a little bit discordant – hold the most important place on “To Be Kind” and in today’s Swans? Repetition? What you mean by progression?
“The main thing is keep myself interested and if I’m interested, and my band is interested, then I think what we’re making will be compelling to an audience…” It’s like you’re using repetition to progress. It seems that you are always trying to reach ecstasy.
Thanks. That’s the goal of much music. I think that can be said with The Master Musicians of Jajouka or even with James Brown’s “Hot Pants” Remix. [laughs] The goal is ecstasy and repetition are involved in both of those things, on the entirely different genres of music. But not repetition in a sense of exactly the same thing like a computer glitch. This is music played by humans and it’s always shifting, always changing and always leading somewhere else. That to me is the exciting thing about playing Swans live, I don’t know necessarily where’s gonna to end up.
This time around the recordings took place at Sonic Ranch, outside El Paso, Texas. What can you tell us about the recording process? How was it working with John Congleton?
Oh, John Congleton is a very nice person. He’s an excellent engineer and it went very well. He is also a producer so it took a bit of adjustment for him because I’m the producer in Swans, but he also offered great many ideas and that’s very helpful. It was great working with him. Great engineer like I said and a good friend now, I like him. As far as the atmosphere of the recording, we all lived together so it was a very intense relationship between the band, John and myself, for several weeks.
How are Swan’s rehearsals? I mean, it must he hard, in a sense of you guys working really hard to rehearse songs like “The Seer” or “Bring The Sun / Toussaint L’ Ouverture”.
Well… [pause] Rehearsals are difficult, yes. But we don’t sit out with the goal to make two hours. I didn’t know how long this record was gonna be when we started.
INTERVIEW // SWANS
“This is music played by humans and it’s always shifting, always changing and always leading somewhere else. That to me is the exciting thing about playing Swans live, I don’t know necessarily where’s gonna to end up.” I had songs that I had written on an acoustic guitar and then we rehearsed them at the recording studio, we lived there so we had two weeks of just rehearsing before we even record it. We built up the songs that way and… it’s always back and forth. The band has ideas and I either like them or I don’t and they move forward. We try different things and eventually something happens that seems interesting and then we just build upon it. And then we had other songs which we had developed live, you know? Which were the result of improvisations and they had taken a shape, songs like “She Loves Us” and “Bring The Sun / Toussaint L’ Ouverture”. Those had pretty much shaped from what we had developed live. We didn’t have to rehearse those two too much. It was just… I don’t know, you just jump in and figure out, really.
The recordings and entire process of this new album were funded by Swans supporters through Young Records Store via the release of a special, handmade 2xCD live album entitled “Not Here / Not Now”. Why did you choose to do things like that? To achieve a higher level of independence? I did it so I could afford to record the album according to how it 66
should sound. So, for us to have enough money to make a recent record because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough.
But you could get a record deal with a label.
Yeah, but I don’t want to be dependent on a label. You know, Mute Records is working with us now, but I don’t want any money upfront from anyone. I don’t ever want to work for anybody again. I don’t want to owe people money either.
As you said, some of the songs on this new album were already available, even if we think of them as rough versions, on “Not Here / Not Now”. Why did you do that? Most of the bands would die before letting the fans listen to the new album, sort of speak, in advance.
To be honest, I don’t give a shit. [laughs] It’s just sounds. If the songs change from the beginning playing on an acoustic guitar or when we play them live, or in the studio and then playing them again live or even don’t play them and play new songs… The music is always changing. It’s not like is that precious, you know? Of course I want to make an excellent album but that’s just one version of the music, it’s not the final end or anything.
On “Not Here / Not Now” you guys played “The Seer” and “Bring The Sun / Toussaint L’ Ouverture” as one piece, without any breaks. How would you describe that moment? It must be hard to play the entire thing as a one piece but it must pays off in the end.
The truth be told, we played during the last touring cycle the song “The Seer” and then that grew into “Bring The Sun” which then grew into “Toussaint L’ Ouverture”, so that single piece of music starting with “The Seer” and ending at the ending of “Toussaint L’ Ouverture” was over a hour long. It was a looong piece of music. [laughs]
One hour? That sounds exhausting.
It is exhausting but it feels great. It’s like the best sex that you can imagine.
What’s your relation with Bob Biggs [author of To Be Kind’s artwork]?
None! I know Bob back in the 70’s and I had seen these images and wanted to use them on a record long time ago, he said “No!” but I was thinking about images to this new record and those babies came into my mind again, I contacted Bob and this time he said “Yes!”.
It seems that the artwork
Yeah, all these variations.
Yes, of course. That’s something that we work on a big deal. But as far as the soundchecks go, yes they’re a complete pain in the ass and it takes us two hours to even finish setting up. Usually by that time we just soundcheck for ten minutes and we’re done.
You’re now 60 years old…
… but I feel like I am six. [laughs]
[laughs]… and a father of young children. You facing mortality has any impact in your own music? What about parenthood?
Well, the parenthood thing is just a cycle that many people experiences, there’s not much to say about that without being corny. The mortality thing, that’s always there and that just makes me work harder really.
represents this child-like approach that we can hear and feel in your music. Would you agree?
No! I would say… I don’t know about the babies, to me they don’t answer a question, they ask a question. There are very similar to me to a picture by Jasper Johns, for instances, of an American Flag or a picture of a dollar sign, say by Andy Warhol. You look at it and you have to figure out why it’s there, which you can never quite get the answer. Or is even like looking at the painting of Mona Lisa. You can’t… It’s enigmatic, it’s not an answer it’s a question. That’s why I like them.
But, and let’s put aside the artwork, don’t you think that there’s a side of Swans that operates in a child-like way? I mean, it’s simple but at the same time is complex. Oh, sure. That’s there of course. That is known as the id. That part of your physique that is sort of still an animal, the child animal. The natural instincts and it’s not socialized.
The on-stage physicality was always important for you. What’s the importance of that physical element nowadays and what has changed for you since the early 80’s?
Well, a lot changed. In the whole first cycle of Swans, from the early 80’s up until the late 90’s, things changed tremendously. It’s hard for me to describe but in the early days it was very physical but in a sort of self-destructive way, but there’s a lot of positivity of being self-destructive too. And gradually the music morphs to something else, it ended up at Soundtracks For The Blind which it’s kind of to me the uplifting kind of experience, at least playing the music live was very uplifting. Now, I don’t know. Now… I use a very corny analogy: it’s like a steroid to heaven. [laughs]
Swans are known to play really loud live. How much of a pain in the ass are the soundchecks? What’s the importance for you to play really loud? To transmit that physical element? Playing really loud can damage your audition. That happened with you?
Yeah, we play loud but I don’t think we are that loud compared with Motörhead for instance. I think there’s a lot of dynamics in the sound too, so it’s not like My Bloody Valentine where it’s just this roar constantly. In a way, hopefully without being pretentious, it shares a lot with classical music in that sense, and then it was this extreme dynamics.
On that documentary, or something like that, about “The Seer” that Pitchfork did in 2012 you said that, while unpacking the vinyls and sign them to later send them to the fans, “every young musician who wants to have a career in music should be forced to sit down and watch all of this footage from beginning to end.” Were you talking about the huge importance of the DIY?
Yes! It’s fine if you want to sign to a record label and have them to do the work but you should know what’s involved, and I think it’s important to know also that this is what’s involved and if you really want to exist, no matter how popular you are or unpopular, you have to be able to do that and you should know what’s exactly involved. It took me a long time to have the courage, maybe ten years, to do that myself, but once I did it was very liberating. It’s a huge amount of work, more work than most people are used to do, but it was very liberating so I would say, don’t be scared of doing that and just figure out how to do it yourself.
How much of other’s people music is important for you these days? Not much right now. I don’t have time to listen to music unfortunately, I really wish I did. But I really love it when my fiancée plays Led Zeppelin. [laughs]
“To Be Kind” is out now via Mute Records 67
A FRESH PAGE IN HEAVY MUSIC
You know how a band’s name is supposed to describe what the band is all about and what they sound like? Well, Mike Hill (vocals/ guitars) just hit the nail in the head by making this gritty and terrifying music under the name Tombs. After smashing the underground world with “Winter Hours” (2009) and “Path of Totality” (2011), they return with “Savage Gold”. That’s it! That’s why we talked on the phone (well, Skype) with Mike Hill. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Jason Hellman
INTERVIEW // TOMBS
music, I want to ask you about your times as a young kid in Brooklyn, New York. How was it? How did you start to gain interest on the underground scene and all that comes included with that?
ou left your profession as a mechanical engineer to devote yourself 100% to music. How hard was that transition? It must not have been easy for you.
It’s difficult. You still have to do jobs here and there, find stuff to do to make a living in between of being busy as a musician. It’s a struggle, it’s hard but it’s worthy because you have the opportunity of expressing yourself. I didn’t want to compromise myself and spend countless hours doing something that I don’t like and I don’t care about. But I’ve been doing other stuff besides Tombs. Right now I’m starting a coffee company and also doing sound for film. Mixing, TV spots, things like that.
You have this other thing, a blog where you write some stuff and you do podcasts, called Everything Went Black. Can you talk a little bit about that?
I’ve always been interested in writing and that’s just sort of an outlet for me, to put together my thoughts. Just put it out there just for people to read and possibly take something out of it. I like reading blogs online and get the insight into other artists that I get inspiration from. Putting the blog together has just sort of being an open dialogue that I’ve had with myself, essentially. [laughs] The podcast just as a media… I’m really interested in podcasts, I listen to it quite a bit myself. I just like to have conversations with people in a sort of free form format like that. Lot of times when you have a couple of hours to spend with someone you can really get into a topic with somebody and I just feel that it turns into this interesting dialogue.
Before getting into Tombs’ new 70
I didn’t grow up in Brooklyn, I just live here. I grew up in the suburbs, outside of New York. When I was growing up it was hard to find records because it was before the internet existed, so you sort of had to rely on the record stores and the way you found out about music was by just talking to people, and having friends and having those people get into things and then you sort of hear about through them. Then there’s a search that starts, a search for records and information. I remember back when I was a kid, there was this one friend of ours that went to California one summer and he came back and he had all these records, tapes and information about all these punk rock bands. We basically just copy the cassette tapes that he had and just pass them out amongst ourselves, that’s how we got into it. You find out about one band and then you… There’s one record store in the area called Trash American Style and that was probably the first punk rock underground record store that I had seen in my life. The guy who ran that shop was like an encyclopedia of knowledge about music, not just punk music but music in general. So, you would find out about these bands and you would go to the record store and talk to the guy who worked there and you would find out about more bands. It was very much a passion; you had to be interested in it. It wasn’t like just going to a few websites and find out about everything and then you download everything in a couple of minutes. You actually had to want to find that information.
There are two things that we love, you and I. Black Flag and Neurosis. What’s in those two bands that makes you love them to death? Yeah, you’re right. They are still
“Black Flag, I t Flag it was really getting listening to my favorite bands. Black Flag, I think it really challenge me as a young kid because before I heard them the only sort of punk/ hardcore music I heard was Ramones, Circle Jerks, maybe the Bad Brains. When I first heard Black Flag it was really difficult to put my finger on what kind of feeling I was getting listening to it. The music itself was so discording and unsettling… The stuff that I hear of Black Flag is the later era stuff, the Rollins era. The first song I heard was “Black Coffee”. Oddly enough, the first Black Flag record that I bought was Family Man. I got that one because it was the only one they had on the record store. That’s a really strange entry point into the band’s catalogue, but that still really made an impression on
hink it really challenge me... When I first heard Black difficult to put my finger on what kind of feeling I was it. The music itself was so discording and unsettling…” me because how far out it sounded. It didn’t sound like anything else. I wasn’t even sure if I liked it at first but as the days went by I found myself more and more interested in finding out more about the band. And then after that I got into In My Head and Damaged… I didn’t get into the records like in order. I think In My Head is probably my favorite Black Flag record. It’s the one that really sort of laid it out for me with that band because they had like these metal, metallic influences and they had this sort of introspection in music that it was what I was looking for at the time, I think.
What about Neurosis? It’s kind of a continuation of what Black Flag was doing, in a way. In some ways, yeah, except that
with Neurosis it’s truly a band effort. With Black Flag was really a one guy’s vision (Greg Ginn). With Neurosis is definitely a culmination of all the members: meeting together, being creative and producing this expansive music that they do. That’s like a key difference between the two bands. But as far as bands that push the boundaries of what they do, I think that spirit is definitely alive with Neurosis as well as with the original old Black Flag music. Neurosis was one of the first bands that I got into that sort of crossed a lot of different genres. They started as a hardcore band and then they sort of developed into their own, very unique thing. I keep listening to Neurosis and I can honestly say that I don’t really hear anything that sounds like it that is original.
They came up with a truly original creative statement. The only thing that comes to mind is maybe Swans, and not even that they sound like the Swans but how the Swans sort of… Michael Gira idea of music is very broad. I think that’s what Neurosis was going for.
Let’s talk about this new Tombs’ album, “Savage Gold”. Why have you chosen this title?
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about alchemy and that kind of stuff that’s really interesting to me. Not as any kind of scientific exploration but it’s interesting to read stuff like that. More symbolically, I guess is where I’m going with this. In alchemy you have these base metals and you’re trying to become those base metals into noble metal, like gold.
INTERVIEW // TOMBS
“I think religion serves two functions for people: makes them feel better and is also, unfortunately, a method for people to control other people.” It transcends your beginnings. I guess that’s one of the topics, the ideas beyond the title of the record is transformation, either in your personal life – where you can take your raw materials and go to a process and then at the end you’re in a better state than you started with – or in this plutonic sense – dead and transformation for your physical existence into something else. Those were the kind of ideas that I was working with that resulted in the title of the album.
On “Spiral” you say “Deep inside/ We live in fear/What lies beyond our mortal soul/Deep inside our fragile soul/And when you feel the darkness calling/How will your final thoughts assemble” Do you think people, generally speaking, have this need of telling lies to themselves all the time and ignore the importance of soul searching?
That’s really when religion comes in because… I think religion serves two functions for people: makes them feel better and is also, unfortunately, a method for people to control other people. Makes them feel better because the idea of facing this nothingness, this void, is terrifying for most people and religion gives them an answer for that. The control comes especially from the Judeo-Christian religions, these sort of monotheistic religions that most of the world exists under. That’s obviously to me just some tyrant trying to control the people and get those people to get the same ideas.
“Path of Totality” was highly praised by the fans and press. Did you feel some kind of pressure writing this album?
No, I don’t feel pressure. I think it’s great that we have this recognition for the last record but that’s extra. I don’t feel like every record has to be like a favorite for other people. As long as it’s my favorite record 72
that’s what I really care about. It’s enough for me. I just feel great when I’m able to finish a record. I don’t deal with other people’s expectations or something like that.
Have your reactions, feelings and perspectives about songs and records changed throughout the years?
I think that I’ve always felt this sort of relief, after we’re done recording, and also this… I wouldn’t say depression because it’s such a strong word but there’s this kind of deflated feeling because all the stuff you have been working towards, like the efforts (time, individual and rehearsals, planning) it’s all over with. It’s like “Wow! It’s done.” This thing that has been such a big part of your life is finished and you just feel this sort of emptiness. But you still feel very good and sort of accomplished but this thing that it’s been part of your consciousness is now part of the past and not part of the present anymore.
There were any thought out progressions from “Path of Totality” to this new album?
I don’t think it was really thought out because a lot of the songs that end up on that record… Some of that stuff we wrote right around the time that we were writing Path of Totality, it’s sort of stuff overlapping; it took us a couple of years to write all the material so we never really had a goal. We just wrote songs and that’s pretty much always been the way we’ve done things.
Would you say that “Savage Gold” is an improvement of your original Tombs’ idea and not so much a change? I mean, it seems that this new album is just another step forward on the road that you started back in 2007. I hope that each record is an improvement. From the very first demo we did until now, I would definitely say that there was an improvement. The songwriting and this sort of refinement of the idea are definitely present on the new record. The longer you do something and the more you execute that idea the better at it you’re going to be. So I would say that this new record is the best version of the band that there is.
You hate when people use the sludge metal term to describe
Tombs, since it’s not accurate. “Savage Gold” will kick that term for good. It’s funny because black metal works like full circle since is a genre very influenced by punk rock and you were highly influence by punk rock too. The album is very furious and uses a lot of fast riffing, but there are always moments when things slow down. Would you say that there was a need of create more dynamics and let the album breathe, sort of speak? Oh yeah, definitely. That’s what the songwriting is, I think, the use of dynamics. I love bands that are fast all the time but that’s not really the thing that I want to do. I want to have something that’s got peaks, valleys, dynamics, loud parts and slow parts. I want to have the full experience. I think it goes back to maybe Neurosis being an influence to what we do. They use dynamics very well.
That’s probably why Eric Rutan (Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, etc.) was essential to this record. How was it working with him?
Yeah, for sure. It was great working with Rutan. He’s someone, I think, that understood what we were trying to do musically. We spent a lot of time (maybe two months), before the recording sessions started, talking and discussing what we wanted to achieve. I sent him demos that we recorded of all the songs and he’s probably the only producer that actually paid attention to the demos, that actually came back with questions about the demos. We just sort of had a good game plan going to the recording sessions. I told him what my concerns were from the last record and when we got in the studio, based on the discussions we had, he had a very, very clear idea of what we needed to do to make that happen. That is really where he was a key part of this all process, because to make a record sound the way we wanted to sound we had like to mic the drums in a certain way, we had to do certain things in the technical side, and that’s he’s expertise. We owe everything to him.
“Savage Gold” is out now via Relapse Records
“I want to have something that’s got peaks, valleys, dynamics, loud par ts and slow par ts. I want to have the full experience. I think it goes back to maybe Neurosis being an influence to what we do.”
I guess the best way to introduce Scott H. Biram is by saying that he’s making music that is overall country but he comes from a punk rock background. So, if you think he’s the kind of person that you see on a Sunday night in this fancy coffee shop just sitting quietly and peaceful playing his country songs… Oh man, you couldn’t be more wrong. We talked with Scott about his life as an a musician that tours to pay his bills, a man that grew up on punk rock, how he does stuff and his latest album, “Nothin’ But Blood”. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Sandy Carson
COTT H.BIRAM www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
INTERVIEW // SCOTT H.BIRAM
know that you have a “hard time” when people label you as a singer/songwriter. Is it because you feel that it’s not fair since your music goes way beyond that?
Yeah, I feel that when people say “singer/songwriter” that they imagine a guy on a stool in a coffee shop singing acoustic songs and just being lame in general. No balls. I want people to understand that my music has balls. I can play soft sweet songs too. I just like to throw some fuckin’ rock in there some times.
How important are the people and the relationship you have with them to your music? I mean, for you as an artist, a creative mind.
The people’s thoughts and reactions mean a lot to me, but they aren’t going to pull my music all to one side. I mostly do all this for my own entertainment when it really comes down to it. I do this music to get shit off my chest and to rattle the chip on my shoulder. In the end, I will do what I want to do and sing what I want to sing, but I still take the people’s opinions to heart. I am a sensitive person and I like to try to lean in towards what people are wanting from time to time.
You said that writing new pieces of a song come way easier now but on the other hand writing the complete thing seems harder. Why? Do you think it’s because all the awareness to the little details that you have accumulated throughout the years is kicking in?
It’s just because I don’t have as much free time as I used to. It’s because I’m getting older. I’m not a kid anymore. Some things just aren’t as fascinating to me as they used to be. Also, I’m very critical about my lyrics and the way songs sound. I have a vision of what a song should be like and I don’t like to stray too far from that. I want to give the people quality music that I can be remembered for. I don’t want to put any half-ass songs out. Unfortunately sometimes you don’t realize it’s a half-ass song until you’ve already put it out. [laughs]
What can you tell us about your creative process in general and the creative process for this new 76
I just write songs. I write them down in little scribbles here and there on random pieces of paper in my house and van. I record pieces sometimes so I don’t forget. I just write songs as they come to me. I don’t have any specific routine for writing songs. The best ones are the ones that come to me at 5am in the middle of the night and take 5 minutes to write. “Gotta Get To Heaven” and “When I Die” were both like that. “Slow and Easy” took a lot longer. It was a chore.
Can you explain why did you choose “Nothin’ But Blood” as the title of the album and why did you choose that cover? It seems to be like a message of rebirth… I just thought it sounded cool. [laughs]
“Nothin’ But Blood” seems to work like a rollercoaster of sorts. I mean, you cover so many grounds of the all spectrum. Did you have the intention of writing an album that would be as diversified as possible? If you look back at all my albums, they are all kinda like this. It’s not a specific plan so much as I just want to get the songs out there. My live shows are like this too. In today’s world it’s hard to keep people’s attention so it’s probably best to give it all to them at once. The people don’t know what they want until you give it to them, and sometimes they have to listen a few times before they are ready to accept it.
Was it hard to put all these different pieces together in a way it would make sense as a whole, as just one piece?
It was no problem. I just recorded the songs and moved the order around a bit and said fuck it... here it is.
How would you describe “Nothin’ But Blood” and what is the difference between it and the other records?
Nothin’ But Blood seems to come across as a loose balance of Saturday night sinning and Sunday morning redemption. It’s not what I planned but that’s how it turned out. It’s similar to my other records in many ways. It’s all an unveiling of how I feel inside. Another rough ride through being very caring and not giving a shit.
“Slow & Easy”, the opening track, is a complete banger. It’s kind of a straight-forward song but all the details that are thrown underneath (the guitar effects) makes this to be one of the most powerful songs on the record. Not to mention the line “I hope you feel it in your heart when I tell ya ‘Baby, come back home… Awww baby, take me home” and that chord change… DAMN! What can you tell us about this song?
That’s my favorite part of the song too!! This song was a struggle to write. I had it all written a couple years ago. It was just missing something. It was missing the bridge. The bridge is what made this song I think. The song itself is really about nothing. Just some images. The first verse is about me when I was a kid. I found a torn up porno magazine in the woods. It was erie. That memory is just a random memory in my head and I wondered why it was even in my brain still. The part of the song about the train just illustrates loneliness and the bottle of wine gives you an idea of the mellowness. The garden is my fucked up brain trying to figure out what the hell is going on in my life. Like I said… it’s just a bunch of random images written to make you see how I feel inside. Dark.
I need to ask you about one more song in particular... “Around the Bend”, the last track of the album. What can you tell us about that track? I mean, what a way to close the album. I would say that is fuckin’ electrifying but I guess is kind of an understatement.
“I do this music to get shit off my chest and to rattle the chip on my shoulder. In the end, I will do what I want to do and sing what I want to sing, but I still take the people’s opinions to heart.”
I’ve been playing that song for years. I made it up on stage in front of a bunch of people when I was drunk one time. I just decided to finally record it. I wanted it to sound epic and very metal. It’s supposed to sound like a hillbilly on a porch. Then he drinks moonshine and smokes some weed and blows his mind. At the end he comes back down again. METAL!!!
Punk rock seems to be an important piece for you as an artist. “Only Whiskey”, for example, is, for me, a good example of how punk rock your music can be. What’s the importance of punk rock for you as a person and as an artist?
That’s another song I wrote a few years ago. I just love Black Flag and was kinda going for that kinda feel. It’s definitely punk rock… straight punk. There are no frills to this song. It is what it is!
How was it the recording process
of “Nothin’ But Blood”? For what I know, the studio where you record tends to be “a cluttered mess of amps and electronics and scribbles on paper”. I recorded a little over half the album at my studio, and some of it at Cacophony Studios here in Austin. The first half of the record and “Around The Bend” were all songs I recorded at the house. The best one that came out of the other guy’s studio was “Jack Of Diamonds” I think. I like recording alone though because I don’t feel any pressure except my own. I love being in the studio. I get wrapped up in it. I get to where I’m locked in there for 14 hours sometimes. I go in the morning and don’t come out until late at night. Sometimes I don’t even go to the bathroom or drink any water. I’m crazy.
You have toured across the world in many occasions. How important is for you touring? I know that some artists just
consider that the song is completed when they perform that song live. Does the same thing happen to you?
My live shows sound different from my records but that doesn’t mean they’re better. Some people say my live shows are the best way to hear me. I don’t know. Every person is different I guess. I have to tour to pay my bills. That’s for sure. But I really like to perform in front of people. It makes me feel good inside...most of the time. I NEED to tour to feel right.
In the other hand, I know that you play some songs way before record them in the studio. Is it the case of waiting for the right moment?
It’s a case of having the time to do it. I’m on the road constantly.... I can’t wait to record the next one. “Nothin’ But Blood” is out now via Bloodshot Records
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as a full unity ng speed, abrasive sound that seems at we’re supposed ads against.”
WHITE LUNG Deep Fantasy
White Lung is a Canadian quartet from Vancouver formed in 2006. They released two albums, It’s The Evil in 2010 and Sorry in 2012, that have granted them a growing fan base and respect by the public in general, critics and music fanatics. Ohh, and they are a punk rock band. I guess now that the introductions were made we can talk about their upcoming album, the third and definitive Deep Fantasy, but first I want to make something very clear, White Lung is NOT a riot grrrl band that just wants to play tribute to bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, 7 Year Bitch, etc. Sure, they draw some elements and they are influenced by them but saying that White Lung is a riot grrrl band trying to recapture the old times… NO! They are a contemporary band making music that’s timeless and makes sense in today’s world. Deep Fantasy, the bands third full-length, is without a doubt a huge and impossible-to-deny step towards perfection or at least something that’s close to it. Early on the vocalist Mish Way confessed that this new album was supposed to be “(…) more like a rock record than a punk record.” She continued by saying “I didn’t want to lose any of the speed and aggression that we have, but I wanted more melodies.” This conscious decision plus the ability of the band on succeeding in such task resulted on the most mature and audacious White Lung’s album to date. Keeping the ferocity and rawness that’s in their DNA but adding the arrangements of a more rock ‘n’ roll sound allowed them to achieve real songs that are addictive and dangerous at the same time. For the first time Mish Way is singing, in the true sense of the word, and showing the world one of the best vocal attacks of these last few years – it’s well known the love of Mia for Hole’s singer, Courtney Love, but I would dare to say that her vocals are more influenced by the legend Mia Zapata from the Seattle’s punk outfit, The Gits – sounding refreshing at each verse and being highly dynamic while delivering monstrous hooks that will be carved in your brain… This while she spits words about addiction, body dysmorphia and sexual dynamics. Instrumentally speaking, the band has also evolved delivering diversity and being volatile at the same time they deliver the most tight and synergistic performance of the band’s history, working with Mish’s voice as a full unity throughout the raging speed, abrasive take and enormous sound that seems to be a brick wall that we’re supposed to knock our heads against. With ten tracks, clocking in at twenty two minutes (not every band can do a two-hour long album like Swans and most of times the best way to do it is by actually using your good songs and deliver a killer record), Deep Fantasy sounds like a flawless record, a record that we needed to hear, but smells like a classic that will make a huge impact on generations to come.
FOR FANS OF:
The Gits, Courtney Love, Hole, Fucked Up
6 ABORTED The Necrotic Manifesto
7 THE ANTLERS Familiars
AGALLOCH The Serpent & The Sphere
Century Media (2014)
Profound Lore/ Eisenwald (2014)
This Belgian Brutal Death Metal band has borrowed more than a few things from Carcass circa Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious. Technical brutality is this band’s trademark. The problem with many of the bands that have this type of sound is that the album is just one big block of visceral violence. The melodic traits are scarce with the exception of a few well positioned solos. One song blends into another, making this a monolithic discharge. The downside is that you listen to the record once, like it but there’s not much to make if you listen to it again. The second half has some interesting albeit more mid tempo experiments that prove this band knows and can do a lot more when they chose to.
The Portland based quartet Agalloch is an established entity and they have, along with other acts, established themselves as part of an elite group that in a natural way is stretching the boundaries of extreme metal music. From their debut Pale Folklore (1999) to Marrow Of The Spirit (2010) passing through records that have allowed the band to be such an acclaimed name, The Mantle (2002) and Ashes Against The Grain (2006), the band founded by Don Anderson and John Haughm has always challenged themselves and the listeners. With the new album, The Serpent & The Sphere, they carry on with the tradition. They adventure themselves into new territories while delivering the countless set of atmospheres with folk music involved. Another good album by Agalloch.
The Antlers are back! Familiars, their fourth studio album follows 2011’s critically lauded Burst Apart. Recorded, engineered and produced by the band in their Brooklyn studio and mixed by Chris Coady (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, Beach House), Familiars eradicates any meaningful distinction between what they are doing and the current blend of manufactured pseudo indie bands of this pseudo current indie scene. The Antlers have expanded their sound, bringing some kind of hope to their so called wounded soul. Familiars is not perfect, sometimes could be a bit boring if you are not in the right mood for that, but it’s a tremendous effort from a band that is always evolving their own beautiful sound.
FOR FANS OF:
FOR FANS OF:
FOR FANS OF:
Carcass, Benighted, Origin
Fen, Drudkh, Ulver (old)
Magnetic Fields, Grizzly Bear, Nick Drake
8 BEING AS AN OCEAN How We Both Wondrously Perish
BANE Don’t Wait Up
O BISONTE Abril
End Hits (2014)
Impericon Records (2014)
Don’t Wait Up is Bane’s first fulllength in nine years and this comeback is also their so called final album. If you expect some lame goodbye you are fucking wrong, these guys mean business and this may be their finest album ever, bursting energy and aggression all over the place. Excellently produced by Jay Maas of Defeater, Don’t Wait Up is one of the most intense and visceral hardcore albums of this year, where songs like “Non-Negotiation” and “All the Way Through” start the fire that tracks like “Calling Hours” and “Wrong Planet” help to spread around... No one knows how long it will be before Bane officially decide to call it quits as a band, but if this is their final album is one hell of a goodbye!
It’s always welcome when bands that are starting something new in a particular genre still show signs of total progress and that they are always evolving their own identity and sound. Being As An Ocean are a unique band, listening to them is always like riding in an emotional roller coaster, giving us more than an experience, sometimes can be a lesson in life. How We Both Wondrously Perish is clean, emotional and will immerse you in a state of total sadness, deception, anger and a bit of controlled and consciousness happiness. So guys, sometimes the music element is only a vehicle to something bigger and this record totally stands out for that particular achievement, this is not an album, it’s an experience!
Bisonte, one of the most exciting rock bands in Portugal, released their third album, Abril, two years after their last record. It is an intense, powerful, aggressive album, an adrenaline discharge all over the place. The lyrics are still socially critical, straight in the mouth because this world in not a fairy-tale place and Bisonte reminds us that in a pure way. “Abutres”, the opening track, tells straight away what this record is all about: muscled rock, emotional vocals and massive revolution energy. The record keeps getting better and better especially “Roda” and “Midas” areboth climaxes songs of Abril. The last song, “Barco” is the slowest song, a deep and beautiful lyrical song. Bisonte are definitely rocking in a free world.
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Defeater, More Than Life, Goodtime Boys
Listener, Defeater, La Dispute
Intensity and unique experiences...
THE BLACK KEYS
CLOSURE IN MOSCOW
At the eighth album, the mediatic and most successful rock band of today, a status achieved in just 12 years, seems to demonstrate a turning or slowing of musicality. The meteoric rise of TBK was a regular and steady path musically and almost unexpected accident restrained by humility and ambition of the collective. Now they are known around the world, headlining at numerous festivals all over and causing millions of Euros in revenue, The Black Keys have produced a different album. This does not mean that Turn Blue is a bad album but the whole process of creating and recording, right after a tour of 2 years and performed many times at distance of each other, made this new album much less fiery than previous in several variants like the lyrics, rhythm, theme and even vitality. Turn Blue is an album to skim the melancholic, introspective and too little danceable, important aspect of success and media coverage of the U.S. band. Even “Fever”, the first single, is a bit slow and linear for the energy that we are all accustomed and which, more or less, was a constant presence in the originals of the group. Despite this, I must also ensure that Turn Blue is well written, well produced and the end result is a set of pleasant songs, easily identifiable with the band. But that doesn’t make this their best album since expectations, now that the band is an obligation on the music scene, are also high.
Well, Closure in Moscow we missed you! That’s the first thing that I’m going to say in this review! 5 years passed since First Temple was released and when a band goes quiet, it can mean one of 3 things: The band is dead, they are having a lack of creativity or, they are working on something epic! I didn’t know what to expect, maybe a First Temple 2.0 and BAM a psychedelic trip begins, like using LSD or something (Drugs are bad! Don’t do drugs OK?!). Closure in Moscow matured from their previous post-hardcore, alternative rock and step up and took things to a whole new level and they served us a Pink Lemonade with a serious dose of Aussie psychedelic! “Neoprene Byzantine” is one of the highlights of the album - the lead singer Christopher reminds me of the epic Cedric (The Mars Volta). And the vocal interplay is so epic! Another of the highlights is “Seeds of Gold,” and I’m only going to say this about this track. You are going to dance! Probably you suck like me, but you are going to dance. The “old school fans” probably don’t know how to react but this leads us to the first single “Church of the Techno Christ” probably the most First Temple esque track look alike! Overall, this album is unafraid to explore a new territory/direction and, yup this is going to be one of the best releases in 2014 without any doubt!
FOR FANS OF:
FOR FANS OF:
The White Stripes, The Racounteurs, Arctic Monkeys
The Mars Volta, Tides of Man, A Lot Like Birds
Fever, Year in Review, Turn Blue
Neoprene Byzantine, Seeds of Gold CLÁUDIO ANÍBAL
FEATURING // BLACK BOMBAIM
the Portuguese power-trio has been going strong since the day they released their first album, Saturdays and Space Travels. Now, two albums after (the opus Titans and the collaborative effort with la la la ressonance) they return with Far Out. We spoke with the bassist Tójó to find out about these new and exciting times. Words: Tiago Moreira // Photo: Joana Castelo
o you continue to think that Barcelos is “dead, empty and depressing”?
No! Definitively not. Now it is cool. Now you see more bands starting and leaving the city and you have something like Milhões de Festa [Portuguese festival] that’s very powerful and helped a lot the local scene. The festival gave a great force to the city that was “fallen asleep” and I think that pulled people of the most varied age groups to start their own projects, being those project bands or even organizing concerts. Now it is rare for you to not see at least a concert per weekend here in Barcelos. It’s way cooler now.
Do you think that has a certain impact in Black Bombaim?
I think so. Not in the music though maybe we and some other bands (The Glockenwise, Loud!, la la la ressonance, etc.), we felt, in a certain way, a little bit responsible for this to have happened and that gives us a happiness and a force to continue and to not let this die.
I remember you saying that Black Bombaim exists because you didn’t have anything better to do. That’s still the case?
No. [laughs] That was in the beginning when I didn’t really have anything to do, but now we do it because we like it and because we really want to do this. No longer it is that boredom of formerly.
BLACK BOMBAIM Far Out
Lovers & Lollypops (2014) Hailing from the northern Portuguese city of Barcelos – home of Milhões de Festa festival - Black Bombaim will take you on a twisted journey through the realms of Ali Baba and the Forthy Thieves with their mad psychedelic rock on “Arabia”, and invite you on an expedition to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro – accompanied by Rodrigo Amado’s demented saxophone –, where thou shall behave like a fool, on “Africa II”. Much more than a mere fusion of genres, – one could talk about stoner rock, free jazz, krautrock, and god knows what – this is pretty organic material we have here. If you dig wild distorted guitars that make you want to dance like a mad drunken pirate you should definitely give this album a try (as well as the rest of the band’s catalogue).
FOR FANS OF:
Earthless, Samsara Blues Experiment RICARDO ALMEIDA
But I never thought that you guys took this as just a hobby. I remember Black Bombaim opening for Kyuss! Lives (2011) and you guys already had a very professional posture.
Yes. We began this just for fun without any type of aspirations but from the moment that you see that you have something unique and that can consider good, you have to take things seriously. Nobody here is a rock star or something like that but we want to have a professional posture and to play well.
At a time that the retro / stoner / psychedelic scene reached high levels of saturation, it seems that you guys found an alternative. That’s how you feel about your project with la la la ressonance?
Yes, definitely. We heard this kind of music for many years and we were playing normally but we just reached a saturation point... I mean, we didn’t change because the “market” was saturated but because we were a bit saturated ourselves. Since we wanted to explore other territories, the project with la la la ressonance was basically perfect. Opened our horizons and was a breath of fresh air.
I remember seeing your first concert with la la la ressonance at Milhões de Festa. Did you guys feel the need to go a little bit further and make a record?
Yes, I can tell you that before the concert we already had decided that we would record an album. We began rehearsing in January/ February for the at Milhões de Festa, that was in July, with the aim of just making the concert but when we started rehearsing and composing the song we thought that we couldn’t let it end there.
Would you say that this new album, “Far Out”, is influenced by this experience with la la la Resonance?
That too, yeah. The music was already in an advanced stage of composition when we started playing with them but... A funny detail, and that’s what counts as an influence, is that we invited Luis [Fernandes], The Astroboy, to play with us and he plays there in the project with la la la ressonance. The sound itself has changed a bit. As I said before, we were a bit saturated with the other sound.
Do you see “Far Out” as being a kind of a long journey to the roots?
European and North American scene.
Yeah, we shit a little bit on the European and North American scene. We went a bit to the roots... We have been told that Far Out is Saturdays and Space Travels 2.0. [laughs] It was a bit to the origins of the 60’s and 70’s but it has also the African influences and even the German electronic scene that we are fans. And krautrock too.
In a way.
I mean, you guys basically remain attached to the scene of the 60’s and 70’s and shit on the www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
“Far Out” is out now via Lovers & Lollypops 85
5 BLOODY HAMMERS Under Satan’s Sun
Napalm Records (2014)
BOB MOULD Beauty & Ruin
9 THE BODY I Shall Die Here
It’s clear that the whole retro doom/ rock thing is here to stay, with the resurgence of bands like Ghost BC, Hour of 13 or Castle. Bloody Hammers are a heavy rock band, although commonly viewed as a gothic rock band, they have equally incorporated elements of doom, stoner metal and psychedelic rock. Influenced in terms by bands such as Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Bauhaus and Cathedral. Hailing the 70’s and the occult of doom rock soul, they try to captivate the listener with moody, spooky and melodic attractive vibe, with dark and catchy lyrics raised from gothic rock riffs, something they just need to put in more to work. Although is not quite bad, this isn’t at all anything you haven’t heard before, the classical fuzzy, groove-based doom gothic riffs are there in all the themes, but it doesn’t grow in the feeling or in the will to make you move.
RVNG Intl. (2014)
In the year that marks the 25th anniversary of Workbook, the amazing debut album from Bob Mould, he is back with what can be described as “a compact epic,” that is more a portrait of a lifetime experiences. Beauty & Ruin sounds very different from Silver Age, his latest effort, and it sounds different in a way that somehow he managed some of those elements from his Hüsker Dü legacy to his sound. Everything sounds rawer in Beauty & Ruin, as if the spirit of punk gave Mould some kind of new awakening regarding his new found “teenage” angst. Mould has now 53 years, and with this new effort he shows that age and experience has given him a more wise approach to express his feelings, showing that now he is more confident about himself than ever.
Originally intended as a full collaboration between the Portland nightmare-sludge duo and London’s Bobby Krlic (a.k.a. The Haxan Cloak), though now regarded as an elaborate post-production of sorts, I Shall Die Here is a work of existential horror, a bleak collage of atavistic howls, guitar lines that crawl across rust and broken glass, and disembodied noise. What’s worse, though, is the silence; the moments of drone and creaking emptiness that bring the tension more surely to the fore. In his mastery of this, Krlic has effectively enhanced everything that makes The Body more an ordeal than a band while dragging them down new, unfamiliar corridors. Emotionally draining and beautifully damaged, this is their most oppressive and staggeringly ambitious work to date.
FOR FANS OF:
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FOR FANS OF:
Pentagram, Black Sabbath, Bauhaus
Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, Superchunk
Thou, Ash Borer, Wreck and Reference
6 CANDY HEARTS All The Ways You Let Me Down
KING BUZZO This Machine Kills Artists
8 CASTLE Under Siege
Ipecac Recordings (2014)
Bridge Nine / Violently Happy Records (2014)
Buzz Osborne, the legendary progenitor who has helmed the Melvins for thirty plus years is back with his debut solo full-length album, This Machine Kills Artists. Simplicity is what underscores this solo adventure of the great Mr. Osborne, nothing here sounds forced, everything comes out pretty direct and easy from Osborne acoustic guitar, even if every track seems similar, the truth is that album is the artistic manifestation of a true artist. Buzz Osborne said that “I have no interest in sounding like a crappy version of James Taylor or a half-assed version of Woody Guthrie,” and he absolutely nailed it, because he sounds like the Buzz Osborne that we all learn over the years to respect and admire.
Candy Hearts were the first act to work with Chad Gilbert (New Found Glory) new label, Violent Happy Records back in 2012. That year they’ve released the EP The Best Ways to Disappear, sounding like a new and refreshing approach in pop-punk music world. Two years later, they are finally releasing their highly anticipated full-length, All The Ways You Let Me Down. If you guys are looking for some kind of answer to Paramore you should think twice before you say that they’re a copycat of Paramore. Candy Hearts have their own distinct brand of punk-tinged indie pop, where Mariel Loveland’s vocals add an extra sweetness in those introspective lyrics that perfectly capture that killing and contradicting feelings of young adulthood.
In a world where everything pre-2000’s given an ironic plastic coating, Castle are a breath of fresh air – an oldschool metal power trio who approach their craft with skill, fire and earnest devotion to the holy altar of steel. A feast of galloping bass, triumphant screams and searing leads, Under Siege is a notable leap forward for the band both in terms of songwriting and musicianship, Liz Blackwell’s vocals nuanced and rich while Mat Davis’ flourishes add infinite depth and flavour. Each of these eight songs has an immediate appeal, a touch of classicism that warrants immediate acceptance, and though it might not be the lengthiest of albums, not a minute is wasted. Put simply, this is the most metal half-hour of your life.
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Melvins, Scott Kelly and the Road Home
Mixtapes, We Are The In Crowd
Black Sabbath, Slough Feg, Mercyful Fate
Upside Down Mountain Nonesuch (2014)
Multifaceted as always, Conor Oberst returns with another new album, even though he has never been far away. In Upside Down Mountain, the return is not temporal but musical, so contagious like we had toasted the beginning of his career solo energy. This career between solo work and participation in numerous projects such as Bright Eyes has never been exactly very linear, but in recent appearances some of the energy that characterized him was hidden. I do not know if it will be the most accomplished album that the artist creates but it is one that best fits a true and honest musical experience tasting. Touched by an aura of the 70’s, all the details make it stand out powerful and smooth voice and lyrics, which are the key to the whole work. These lyrics are melancholic taste without ever being sappy or vulgar. It is an experience that puts us in a scenario of some solitude, in the spirit of the American West, with feelings to the skin and no grand final destination. Musically, Upside Down Mountain is very well paced, very simple and easy listening as it can achieve the clarity with assumes, without thereby ceasing to be working with some emotional complexity. However, ask for some excessive reclusion, not only in terms of the lyrics but mostly in the deep and intimate themes, which quickly become sufferable, so melancholy is what Conor gives us.
How do you remain a true punk band when you’re on magazine covers, or sharing stadium stages with the Foo Fighters? How do you stay true to your 15-year-old self when you have a career to maintain, and families to support? Those are some of the questions that Fucked Up ask on Glass Boys. This new album is the next logical step for the band as it is another reinvention that continues to see them challenge the listener and themselves. Glass Boys explores their more introspective side, - even the album’s lyrics concern the quest to stay true to your younger self - showing all new kinds of complexity and one hell of an ambition, but they still can get it tight, concise and direct at the same time. Once again the band’s punk instincts are more prominent here than ever before, even when they say this will be a more rock album, they still sound more punk than any other band nowadays, they are still bringing back that 80’s hardcore vibe, which is somehow a visceral effect to punk rock. On Glass Boys, Damien Abraham gives voice to Mike Haliechuk, both showing some kind of concern about the walls closing regarding to the band’s direction and future. In their own cathartic way, they both clash in their own egos, but in the end they show that Fucked are more united than ever, even when they agree to disagree. More than a punk band, Toronto’s Fucked Up are a statement, a fucking piece of art and that should never be questioned.
FOR FANS OF:
FOR FANS OF:
Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk, The War on Drugs
Hüsker Dü, Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr., Negative Approach
Hundreds of Ways, Lonely at the Top, Double Life
Glass Boys, Sun Glass, Echo Boomer, The Great Divide FAUSTO CASAIS
7 CHEAP GIRLS Famous Graves
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH Only Run
Xtra Mile Recordings (2014)
Downtone, Raging Planet (2014)
Xtra Mile Recordings (2014)
The Portuguese post-rock quartet Catacombe have a new LP, Quidam, a six track album where melancholia fits perfectly in each melody we hear... But hope too. In spite of the romantic description, Quidam is a chill out post-rock record or instead a classic post-rock album. “Until Shroud”, the third track starts to play and we realize there is much more intensity in the music... It is a wonderful track. Quidam is a very visual album with beautiful “crescendos” taking us in a movie journey through a short thirty six minute album. Red Sparowes maybe be present now and then or even God is an Astronaut but all the credits go to Catacombe and this dreamy Quidam.
Michigan’s Cheap Girls are once again digging deeper and deeper into the mainstream rock sound of the 90’s and simultaneously crashing around the classic Springsteen and Counting Crows esque, right, nothing new here. But there is something in these guys that totally keep us listening and listening to their music over and over again. The catchy and poetic lyrics are a plus, but the lack of spontaneity and energy maybe is what’s letting us down a bit, but we kept listening over and over again... We could wish for something more lushy and filled with arrangements but that could sound like a totally fuckin’ bullshit, nowadays who the fuck cares about the same lame rock bands over and over again? Famous Graves is straight and stripped down of any kind of bullshit.
As Clap Your Hands Say Yeah try to reinvent themselves again, the leaks are apparent, and contain little mischievous behavior. The new songs are precious, in a way that their brittle nature dissolves the closer you get to them. This is an endemic mining of the “golden age,” the origin of electronics being merged with electrified sound. Within this context is a serious and sincere attempt at conveying an inner soul, and yet is most difficult to be anthemic without context. The beats that drive the album are inverted to create a specific mystique, but in actuality they are introverted accessories, overthinking the depth of their importance. These songs could have been realized in almost any traditional construct, but massaged here for maximum effect relegates the prospect a tertiary solution. The strongest element in this collection of songs is Alec Ounsworth’s vocal delivery. In an era where no one wants to be labeled as a “rock star”, he has the voice for it. Can they reach the point of completion within their intentions?
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Red Sparowes, God is an Astronaut
The Gaslight Anthem, Counting Crows
7 CIRCULATORY SYSTEM Mosaics Within Mosaics
Wolf Parade, The New Pornographers
7 FALLS Dirtbox (EP)
CURSED SAILS Rotten Society
Cloud Recordings (2014)
Rise Records (2014)
Constructed by drummer Derek Almstead from over a decade’s worth W. Cullen Hart’s (co-founder of the beloved Olivia Tremor Control) intricate recordings and experiments, Mosaics Within Mosaics is a new phase Circulatory System album. Between the band’s signature double-drum blasts, this new album was extended to the community orchestra of Hart’s longtime collaborators, including Olivia Tremor Control compatriot’s John Fernandes (Old Smokey, Dreamboat), a wollensack balloon solo by Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) among others... Mosaics Within Mosaics instrumental sections are sublime and unpredictable, with Hart’s creative layered art and evolving voice in almost exact parallel to his music.
Cursed Sails is the new project of former Woe Is Me members Ben and Corey Farris (along with bandmates Omar Magana and Brent Guistwite). There is a nu-metal revival going on, but this genre is now infused with some kind of metalcore production, not bad when the goods are well delivered, but when this blending genre revival is between that thin line, that defines what’s good from what’s terrible, we are always scared of what’s coming in our direction. Cursed Sails is not terrible, it’s a good surprise, but there are too many elements that don’t fit to be a strong album, from that pop melodic irritating esque to the use of too many repetitive sequences. Cursed Sails is not Woe Is Me, and we need to thank someone for that. It’s not good, it’s an average and fair effort!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Falls, a four piece FUCK ROCK band from North Wales and their new release Dirtbox EP! And dear lord this band is going to be huge! With their amazing riffs, the hypnotize bass lines and ridiculous voices they simply are going to blow you way! In the first couple of seconds of the opening track, “Man Bites Cobra To Death”, they have you in the palm of their hand and don’t let you go until the end of the EP. “GütterHaus” is the highlight (it’s like QOTSA fighting with Death From Above 1979)! Well watch these guys, they have everything! Chaos, insanity but in the end everything fits together perfectly! Well guys... Bye bye Death From Above 1979, because Falls are the new shit!
FOR FANS OF:
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FOR FANS OF:
Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel
Nightmares, Memphis May Fire
Death From Above 1979, Wet Nuns
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY
Symmetry In Black
Century Media (2014)
Only two years ago, the band released their much acclaimed self-titled album after over five years of silence, now these living legends of southern America crossover are back with their nine fulllength called IX. The same recipe since 1982 is once again served, nothing new here, and the way they deliver this same cocktail of that bluesy punk, filled with that sludge, doom and classic Black Sabbath’s Iommi recipe over and over again never really bothers us. IX is a natural step forward of a band that has been here for more than 30 years, but they still remain as gloriously unsteady and menacing than ever. 2014 is a glorious year for the Southern American Metal, and Corrosion of Conformity show that they are still very alive in this game, showing that they are here to stay and we should be thankful that these guys are still in the top of their game. FAUSTO CASAIS
Down IV - Part 2 (EP)
Kirk Windstein’s Crowbar has being a driving force in terms of slow, heavy and painful music in these last two decades. With Odd Fellows Rest being the high point of a career of ten albums that never disappointed the fans, the New Orleans based outfit along with Down (Windstein left Down last year, after 22 years of activity) and Eyehategod inspired thousands of musicians/bands all over the world. With Symmetry In Black, Crowbar’s tenth album, the they injected levels of diversity that were never heard (at least not in a so prominent way) in the band’s discography. Twelve new songs that range from the “Motörhead speed” of Ageless Decay to the “dark ballad” of Amaranthine (fuckin’ genius), passing through the slow, heavy and painful sound that is what Crowbar is all about. A breath of fresh air!
Century Media (2014)
Despite the lengthy gap between this and Part I, the second installation of Down’s EP series feels like a direct progression, albeit one with enough variety (and length) to keep things from being mired in tradition. From the grittily downbeat Sabbath worship of “Conjure” to “Bacchanalia”’s tilting between jam-session looseness and colossally tight riffs, it’s both a hulking testament to metal’s triumphant energy and to the soul of the South, Keenan and Landgraf already settling into a tightly locked rivalry and partnership that delivers some powerful tension and spectacular lead work, while Anselmo still sounds like the voice of America’s pissed-off underclass. The EPs versus album choice was evidently a good call, as once again, there are no missteps here, just the sound of twenty limbs lashing out at existence. DAVID BOWES
The frenzied kerb-stomp of opener “Agitation! Propaganda!” is just the kind of bloody-knuckled statement expected from the NOLA crew after 12 years and countless tragedies, but the reason Eyehategod’s fifth album sits so well isn’t just the aggression but just how great it sounds. Phil Anselmo’s guttural production captures every flurry of drums and sickening expulsion in grisly detail, while the some of the riffs on offer dwarf every pretender’s in the past 20 years. This album is a testament to destruction and degradation, mired in dirt and bereft of light, but it’s also uncompromisingly honest, Williams’ vitriolic tirade on “Flags And Cities Bound” the band’s most cutting statement to date. Part therapy session, part desperate kick at life, this is Eyehategod at their best, and at their worst.
REISSUE // CLASSIC CUT
Tracklist: Disc 1
Leprosy Born Dead Forgotten Past Left To Die Pull The Plug Open Casket Primitive Ways Choke On It
Open Casket (9/23/87 Rehearsal) Choke On It (9/23/87 Rehearsal) Left To Die (9/23/87 Rehearsal) Left To Die - Take 2 (9/23/87 Rehearsal) Left To Die (12/05/87 Rehearsals) Open Casket (12/05/87 Rehearsals) Pull The Plug (12/05/87 Rehearsals) Choke On It (12/05/87 Rehearsals) Born Dead (12/05/87 Rehearsals) Forgotten Past (12/05/87 Rehearsals)
Leprosy (Live at Backstreets) Open Casket (Live at Backstreets) Zombie Ritual (Live at Backstreets) Pull The Plug (Live at Backstreets) Left To Die (Live at Backstreets) Mutilation (Live at Backstreets) Forgotten Past (Live at Backstreets) Born Dead (Live at Backstreets) Denial Of Life (Live at Backstreets) Primitive Ways (Live at Backstreets) Infernal Death (Live at Backstreets) Leprosy (Live at The Dirt Club) Pull The Plug (Live at The Dirt Club) Forgotten Past (Live at The Dirt Club) Primitive Ways (Live at The Dirt Club) 90
t’s time for a new Relapse’s Death reissue, and this time we get to hear a revamped version of the death metal pioneers’ second record Leprosy. Their first release, Scream Bloody Gore, which came out just one year before in ‘87, was influential on the process of shaping the guttural type of death metal based on lyrical “gore and splatter” approach. However, it’s not by chance that Schuldiner is credited as the “Father of Death Metal”. While other bands that spawned at that time kept dwelling on the style of Scream Bloody Gore, he already had the will to progress and a vision for what he would do next. Enter ex-Mantas guitarist Rick Rozz and former Massacre members Terry Butler (bass) and Bill Andrews (drums) and Leprosy arrived in ‘88. Anyone who came in contact with Death’s debut album, and then with Leprosy would already notice a drastic change in the sound, tightness and technicality, immediately upon hearing the title track’s first sequence of riffs. Other tracks like “Born Dead”, “Forgotten Past”, “Open Casket” or “Left to Die”, are already considered classic staples in the Death catalog, and by then they had already showed a vast improvement in the songwriting field by displaying several riff switches over sudden time changes. Even with Bill Andrews’s somewhat uninspired, straight to the point and non-flourished kind of drumming, the style of these new songs revealed another level of sophistication on Death’s music, and the potential to further develop it in the near future. However, the really stand out track of this record is the definitive classic “Pull the Plug”, a track that pretty much could be used to introduce Death Metal to someone who doesn’t know the style, because it really has it all: Superbly written eerie riffs, tight craftsmanship and a bleak, death-oriented lyrical approach. The sound of this remaster can be judged by two standards, first in comparison with the album’s original version, and also in comparison to Relapse’s previous remasters of the Death catalog. Speaking of the first, the drums sound somewhat sharper with the pedals displaying a “clicked” sound and Terry Butler’s bass lines seem to be even more audible now. Not that the original lines were inaudible, and indeed Leprosy is one of Death’s albums where the bass is clearly more noticeable, but they seem to be even louder now. The guitar sound is also cleaner, having gained more punch and it’s now much more leveled with the reverberated bursts of Andrews’s drums. But comparing this remaster with others such as Human or the incredibly loud Individual Thought Patterns, Leprosy is along with Sound of Perseverance the
least “tampered with” Death reissue. Though it sounds cleaner, its not that different and the mix seems to be only a bit louder than the original version. Following the tradition of the former Relapse reissues, the 3 CD edition comes with a second CD of rehearsals from ‘87 when Schuldiner & Co. were still laying the groundwork for what would become the album’s final versions. The third CD has two distinct live performances captured at the Backstreets and The Dirt Club in ’88, featuring songs from the Death’s first two albums. Good for one or two spins, but nothing that professional, sounding much more like a decently recorded bootleg. Leprosy is probably the least “left of the field” album for Death, as Scream Bloody Gore was the band’s raw introduction and 1990’s Spiritual Healing already displayed a change of sound towards the progressive style that would be the backbone of Schuldiner’s work in the future. Though nowadays it can be defined as a regular end of the ‘80s death metal styled affair,
Leprosy was very important at the time as it was the first time Chuck Schuldiner tightened the band’s sound and started to display a bigger emphasis on technicality instead of just spitting typical death metal riffs, delivering gory snarls or having the drummer bang the drums away as fast as possible without great concern for time-keeping. Leprosy showed that death metal could be precise and incisive while still retaining all of its raw edge, with a new type of recording and songwriting ethos that in many ways can be considered the birth, of course in its very primal stages, of death metal’s technical and progressive variants. All of this is also attributed, and in no lesser extent, to Scott Burns’ engineering, and this was the first time the legendary producer had a chance to work with a death metal band. The production of Leprosy showed that it was possible to play this kind of music and still retain clarity in the sound. Due to this, and according to Alex Webster on the episode 12 of Sam Dunn’s Metal Evolution
series, Leprosy was the album that propelled all the bands in the Florida scene to produce their records on the already famous Morrisound studios, a facility that would spawn other countless influential albums by bands such as Obituary, Cannibal Corpse and Deicide among others. The bottom line is...If you already own a copy of the original in CD or Vinyl and you’re not into this reissue thing, even with all the added extras, then it probably won’t be worth the buy for you, but other than that, Relapse’s treatment of Leprosy will be worth getting for completionists, collectors of this new batch of reissues or for someone who’s just getting’ into the Death catalog for the first time. An excellent reissue of an already legendary record.
“Leprosy” Reissue is out now via Relapse Records 91
FREEZE THE ATLANTIC Freeze the Atlantic
FU MANCHU Gigantoid
At The Dojo Records (2014)
Graveface Records & Curiosities (2014)
It’s not good where there’s quite significant changes in the heart of a band, but even though Freeze the Atlantic have seen three different vocalists and two different bassists, they kept pushing their music forward. With a new line-up, the British group is back with their second studio album - the longed follow-up of 2012’s debut album Speakeasy - and with a new fresh attitude comes greater things. Freeze the Atlantic is a good direct punch of alternative rock straight from 2000’s, and the resemblances with their debut album are there for sure, but they keep on doing great, catchy songs. Heavier riffs with a precious bass line, the 13-tracks seem to come from the most honest emotions of the group that isn’t scared to share them.
Stoner rocker’s Fu Manchu return with the powerful Gigantoid, their fourteenth studio album. It’s been five years since their last album was released and the South Californian group improved their sound but not in an obvious way. Gigantoid is heavier and rawer that their previous works but it remains purely in the Fu Manchu’s style. Heavy progressive chords, high-speed riffs and an urgent feeling of destruction...in a good way and the lyrics are pretty much focused on a Sci-Fi World. “Evolution Machine”, the 5 min. explosive song of the album, and “The Last Question”, some sort of a progressive 7min song ending in a smooth way (maybe the slowest part of the album) are the highlights of Gigantoid. Heavy, consistent and powerful, Gigantoid is a cool album indeed.
Haley Bonar has built an amazing career and it all started when Low’s Alan Sparhawk heard her at a local club one night. He instantly invited her to opening for Low and she dropout school to pursue her dream. Now years later, she developed another project - Gramma’s Boyfriend - and had her first child, but in the meantime she wrote a new album. Last War is deeper and gloomier, both musically and lyrically. An album that portrays life in a realistic way, where are mixing feelings of joy and sadness, and in some way it feels kind of liberating. Her voice still leads the emotions of the indie pop/ pop-rock melodies with a glimpse of mystery in between. Last War is a profound statement of a restless, genuine artist.
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Alcopop! Records (2014)
Jimmy Eat World, Biffy Clyro
HALEY BONAR Last War
Kyuss, Truckfighters, Sleep
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Rogue Valley, Neko Case, Joni Mitchell
HAMILTON LEITHAUSER Black Hours
HAUNTED HEARTS Initiation Zoo Music (2014)
Mighty Music (2014)
When the Walkmen ended their long hiatus with a concert in New Orleans, frontman Hamilton Leithauser announced that day, “This is the end. This is the last thing that we’ll ever do.” That may or may not be true, but it does look like he’s about to get busy with his solo career. Principally recorded in August 2013 at Vox Studios in Los Angeles, with Paul Maroon (The Walkmen), Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), Richard Swift (The Shins/ solo), and Morgan Henderson (Fleet Foxes), Black Hours is an elegant and unique effort from an artist that truly expose his own soul into their music, giving a real spirit to his own kind of vintage poetic folk n’ roll songs. This is a new and fresh chapter in Leithauser life.
Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny and her husband Brandon Welchez of Crocodiles started a new band by the name of Haunted Hearts. Initiation is their first LP and it was conceived when Penny and Welchez were “holed up in an apartment, surrounded by a lot of books, Motown, and Krautrock.” It’s well shown the intimacy and comfort they share with each other, which take us into this rebel, masochist love where there is no taboos. Musically, the couple brought a bit of the sound of their bands into it, like a mix of Too True with Crimes of Passion, where they blend their voices into these 70’s/80’s post-punk and no wave tunes. Even though there’s a lot of strings attached to the sound, they do it subtly well.
The first long awaited debut from the Swiss progressive sludge band Herod has finally reached the daylight. The first idea of the band started in 2006, from the mind of the guitarist Pierre Carroz during his isolation in Sweden, but only began to build its pillars in 2011 with the addition of Fabien Nodoz (Twisted drummer) and ex-A Fine Day To Exit vocalist David Glassey, putting together dark and depressive riffs inspired by the cold and desolate city climate. They Were None is an album infused with downtuned and distorted mastery in the vein of the Chariot, Breach and Cult Of Luna, and Herod makes no attempt to compromise whatsoever with their blunt and upfront approach to heavy music. Depressive, dark, heavy, emotive and powerful in an eleven piece set.
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Ribbon Music (2014)
The Walkmen, Vampire Weekend
Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles
HEROD They Were None
The Chariot, Breach, Cult Of Luna
Decline & Fall (EP)
Avalanche Recordings (2014)
Art Fag Recordings (2014)
There are various degrees of reunions, the ones that were necessary like Carcass, the ones that once a year are spoken of, like Guns ‘n’ Roses, the quasi cinematic reunions like Kiss and other bands that one way or another try to capitalize on their past glory. Godflesh are a band that always inhabited the fringes of success being more appreciated and respected by other musicians than by the general public. Despite that they have enough of a cult following to be revered and mentioned time and time again as influences to other artists. Hence the decision to return to the stage announced in 2009 and materialized or better yet industrialized on Hellfest in 2010. At the time Justin K. Broadrick was not very sure of the band’s future and whether that performance would be a one time deal or a full blown reunion. News of some recording session between Justin and G. C. Green showed progress in the creation of new material. In 2013, Godflesh released their first song since 2001, “F.O.D.” (Fuck of Death), an original of Slaugher. This June, the band releases the Decline & Fall EP featuring 4 songs (6 on the Japanese release) that show just how much power and force these 2 guys can spew. The sound of this release is reminiscent of their first three releases with a big difference in the fact that Justin uses a signature eight string guitar. Dark, heavy and menacing and every other Godflesh release, this serves as a very interesting introduction to the new album titled A World Lit Only by Fire.
Costa Rica trio Las Robertas has been putting out some great tunes since 2010 - which was the year that they released their first record, Cry Out Loud. The blend of hazy lo-fi pop with raw garage rock gave a pretty nice notoriety to their music. Led by Mercedes Oller and Monserrat Varga, joined recently by new drummer Fabrizio Durán, Las Robertas had also released the incredible Dissected Affair EP which reinforced the love for their awesome songs. After a year of not knowing anything from the band, this year they released the lead single of their new record, Days Unmade. “Marlene” is a super catchy, abrasive song that let us thinking that something good would come out of it. Listening to Days Unmade as a whole, it’s pretty clear the laid-back attitude of the trio to make songs, even if they sound too noisy with a lot of reverb, they sure can stand out individually. The vibe of this record combines the vibe of Dum Dum Girls’ first album (I Will Be) with the early demos of Best Coast, and it is no coincidence that this album was recorded with the help of Jon Greene, who has worked with Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles. The 12 tracks that compose this Days Unmade show a band that knows what they want, but there isn’t a huge progression in the sound as it was expected, keeping the same approach musically speaking. On the other hand, Days Unmade is a great album to spend the summer with, listening to it over and over again.
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Godflesh, Godflesh, Godflesh and more Godflesh
The Breeders, Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls
All!!!! It’s Godflesh!!!!
Marlene, Seconds Away, Better Days
7 IN HEARTS WAKE Earthwalker
INSOMNIUM Shadows of a Dying Sun
Century Media (2014)
KING DUDE Fear
Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with sticking with a formula when it comes to your musical style, but the secret for new bands is to continue to evolve regarding their own influences, where musical and life experiences can be the intro to ignite big and emotional blasts. In Hearts Wake are a five piece hardcore outfit hailing from the far away land of Australia. Earthwalker finds a new depth of brutality in their own melodic esque, these Australians blend huge choruses with catchy and brutal riffs, but it’s the freaking fucking big stylistic and devastating groove of Earthwalker that truly stands out in what metalcore nowadays has become. In Hearts Wake is the perfect example of metalcore done right.
It’s not every day that you hear a Finish band that can recreate the classic Gothenburg sound with style and ease, they incorporate that sound with a more experimental and alternative form of Melodic Death Metal. Combining the clear and guttural vocals with acoustic passages, they can easily appeal to the more traditional metal fan, and also to the more alternative metal fan. One can also hear the influences from the traditional Finish music, much like Amorphis could do in their prime. Mix this all together and you have a great record with excellent production values (credit to Teemu Aalto, that is well known by his previous work in Omnium Gatherum, Sinamore), the confidence and the precision to boot.
TJ Cowgill is an innovative artist and each of his releases as King Dude are always in some way outstanding and intense. After launching his own label Not Just Religious Music in 2013 - the first releases were King Dude’s 7” single “Born in Blood” and the Chelsea Wolfe collaboration titled Sing More Songs Together...- he focused on a new album. Cowgill wanted to make the most horrifying music he could, by that he meant write about one of the most obvious fears that everyone shares that’s the transition from childhood towards to adulthood, and he does it in a direct and intelligent way. Ranging from roaring metal, a bit of Cash’s style country and punkedup rockabilly tunes, Fear is a fearless album that’s about the fear in people.
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Parkway Drive, Killswitch Engage
Not Just Religious Music (2014)
Amorphis, Omnium Gatherum
LA FLAG Spargelzeit
Johnny Cash, Chelsea Wolfe, Hexvessel
LANTLÔS Melting Sun
LA SERA Hour of the Dawn
Hardly Art (2014)
Spargelzeit is the debut album of the Portuguese post-experimental rock band La Flag. It’s a surprising record due to the fact that post-rock is nowadays a kind of mainstream style and many bands just sound the same, leading to a permanent stagnation of the style itself. La Flag tried to do something different... The guitar sequence chords are beautiful and heavy, but not in a metal variation not at all, it’s a mixture of emotions and sound explosions, metaphorically we might say, poetry. “Zenith”, the opening track is aggressive but at the same time, “Far”, the fourth track, can lead us to dream a little bit because of the high guitar notes and ethereal ambient variations. In the end, Spargelzeit is a fresh and very well produced album.
Leaving behind for good her other bands, Katy Goodman has been releasing some great tunes under the La Sera moniker and this year releases her third album and she’s backed by a brand-new band - Todd Wisenbaker, Greta Morgan and Nate Lotz. Hour of The Dawn seems like a reboot for Goodman; she’s bolder, more adventurous and daring to speed up her music and it’s louder than the latest effort, Sees the Light (2012). Wisenbaker’s guitar solos give another dimension to the songs and the lyrics are for sure much more upbeat. There’s a huge 80’s impact on Goodman’s new album and as she said: “I wanted the new La Sera record to sound like Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag,” and it’s a nice way to put it.
Lantlôs fourth studio album is a defying moment not only for the Lantlôs fans but also for the band. It’s the moment when everything changes. The German band has always changed from record to record but this latest effort, Melting Sun, is the high point of all the changes. With Herbst (a.k.a. Markus Siegenhort) taking on the vocal duties, the band makes what’s probably their best album to date. From the first moment Herbst’s voice enters in scene we know that everything will be ok. The bleakness and darkness that we heard at first is now joy and freedom. You may love this album since the first time you hear it but you will not know it until you invest your time and effort. That’s the beauty of Melting Sun. A complex and simplistic journey.
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Vivian Girls, The Pretenders, The Smiths
Russian Circles, Catacombe
Alcest, Swans, Woods of Desolation, Fen
A Letter Home
Season Of Mist (2014)
The monolithic behemoth that is Mayhem cannot be destroyed. Through disturbing events and changes in lineups, Mayhem keep pushing the boundaries of Black Metal. Impressively, the institution that created Black Metal as we know it is the same that keeps its evolution going. Out with Blasphemer and his Wagnerian structures, and in with Teloch, the new man behind the guitar and in charge of most of the songwriting. Teloch was presented with the challenge of entering Mayhem without being intimidated by its past. On one side, there is the expected traditional black metal style of Euronymus, and on the other there is Blasphemer, a man known by his disquieting progressive structures. After listening to Esoteric Warfare, there is no doubt that the ex-Gorgoroth was the right man for the job. The record can be divided into two parts. First you have the raging brutality and speed of “Psywar” and “Trinity”, where Hellhamer discharges a vicious beating onto the listener. The second half of Esoteric Warfare is darker and more unsettling, with tracks like “Throne Of Time”, where Attila can be heard screaming Esoteric Warfare in a demonic voice. “Aion Suntalia”, the album’s last track, shows that Teloch is able to push Mayhem’s music into another level, with weird structures and troubling riffs. Fans of Mayhem have nothing to fear: Esoteric Warfare is further proof that Mayhem cannot be stopped and that everyone should expect more classics from this line-up.
Ideas are ghosts. The intention behind every idea carries with it the weight of responsibility, they must be brought to life to be more than ghosts. Neil Young and Jack White make a spirited attempt at bringing a pure idea to fruition. For the most part, the pair succeeds, as a young listener twenty years from now who discovers Neil Young through the White Stripes will undoubtedly stumble upon A Letter Home at some point. It will seem as if an echo from a time that will never be present again, and yet… there is this document. But in the arc of an artist’s career, whose last masterpiece was arguably Mirror Ball from nearly twenty years ago, how does this take on his favorite songs resonate today? I have seen Neil acoustic play an absolute clinic in songwriting, which is what the premise of this project seemed to be. But aside from revealing that his masterwork “Ambulance Blues” was a tribute to Bert Jansch’s “Needle of Death”, Neil does not take the opportunity to reveal an inner side to his audience, which I suppose should be of no surprise to anyone. A Letter Home could have been a more fully realized record if perhaps a portion of the tracks were reimagined versions of lost classics from the canon, such as “Pushed It Over the Edge” or “Comes a Time”. Coupled with select songs from this collection, a new masterpiece akin to Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind”, in all its rustic glory, might have been achieved.
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Darkthrone, Immortal, Marduk
Bert Jansch, Bob Dylan, Jack White
Psywar, Trinity, Aion Suntalia
Changes, Needle of Death, Early Morning Rain
9 LE BUTCHERETTES Cry is For the Flies
8 LORD MANTIS Death Mask
LEE BAINS III & THE GLORY FIRES Dereconstructed
Nadie Sound Inc. (2014)
Sub Pop (2014)
Profound Lore (2014)
In the last few years, a lot of things happened in the life of Teri Gender Bender. She fronted Bosnian Rainbows and Kimono Kult along with her friend and buddy Omar Rodríguez. Cry Is for the Flies is the long-awaited sophomore album from Le Butcherettes and a reflection on what happened over the last three years for Suárez. With Omar help on bass, this new effort brings back the wild, chaotic and confrontal side that we kind of missed. Garage, punk, dirty grungy pop and the kickass attitude typical of the riot grrrl movement are the elements of this frenetic and mind-blowing artistic manifestation. By the way, that break in track five with a spoken-word piece written and performed by Henry Rollins is absolutely genius. Perfect!
After the 2012’s excellent debut There is a Bomb in Gilead, the Southern outfit led by Lee Bains III are back with a compelling and even more frenetic new album. Newly signed by Sub Pop, the band has been showing their potential with such electrifying music and fiery live shows, and that’s what they wanted to convey in their new album - an album that simply felt like a live show and it sure transmits and makes it real that idea. Dereconstructed is not only an album full of adrenaline and vivacity, but also explores political and social matters regarding to the state of Alabama, where the band is from. With blownout distortion riffs and magnetic solos driven by the 70’s, Dereconstructed is insanely awesome.
I’m beginning to reach the conclusion that every Sludge Metal band owes a great debt to Black Sabbath in general and Mr. Tony Iommi in particular. Every time I hear one distorted riff after another I can only think about the first Sabbath records. Add some alternative, Black and Death metal to the mix and you have an idea of the sound spewed by this Chicago band. Being this their third full-length album, it seems that the band is still trying to incorporate their various influences into one cohesive building block. Interesting? Yes. Classic? Not really. A band that has some interesting details in their sound but still needs to tweak their style to become a really interesting band.
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Bosnian Rainbows, Karen O, Bratmobile
Conan, Indian, Tombs
Drive-By Truckers, Lynyrd Skynyrd
MARTYR DEFILED No Hope No Morality
MIMINOKOTO Usobue 8mm (2014)
Denovali Records (2014)
I didn’t know what to expect from this new work from the UK band Martyr Defiled, because in the early days they started as a death metal band but through the years they became more in the deathcore style and death/hardcore situation. Well, in the progress of listening to this record we can assimilate both the mix of genres, but lowing a bit more the use of heavy core breakdowns tastefully executed. The amount of aggression in the themes is overwhelming, in a fury of blastbeats that it will break your neck. No More No Morality is not really anything new or improved in the scene of core or in the genre, but if you are a follower you can see that it is very well played and written.
Electric and erratically soulful, Miminokoto’s second Suzuki Junzohelmed album is the kind of searing, fuzzed-out album that could once have served as the soundtrack to a Kinji Fukusaku flick but now exists as a treat for all heads and lovers of emotive, brilliantly nuanced guitarwork. Koji Shimura’s deftly jazzy drumming serves as a soft underpinning for Junzo’s rough blues and jangling strums, shifting his style down into psychedelic wanderlust (“On The Stone Ship”) and up into explosive self-destruction (“Night We Tried To Go Back”). It lends itself to summer with every fuzz-blanketed chord and wavering syllable, while a faintly bittersweet sense of optimism makes Usobue as charming a listen as it is impressive.
Sára Vondrášková, known as Never Sol, is a trained musician (she studied music for 8 years at the conservatory) who delivers music like a self-taught musician. Sure, the technical side is present but the most important thing is the prevalence of the soul and heart on the music. With Under Quiet, Never Sol’s debut full-length, we can hear pop music that’s accompanied by an endless number of layers filled with dynamics making the result being something like a musical architecture where electronic music opens new ways along with the melancholic piano. And if you’re excited by just reading this just wait to hear the amazing, versatile and multi-color voice of Sára. There are countless amazing and wonderful female artists. Fact! It just happens that Never Sol is a bright star among them. Brilliant!
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Century Media (2014)
Nexilva, Thy Art Is Murder
NEVER SOL Under Quiet
Mainliner, White Heaven, Suzuki Junzo
Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Bat For Lashes
Bodies and Control and Money and Power
All Or Nothin’
Don Giovanni Records (2014)
New West Records (2014)
Every now and then music has to be stripped down of all the crap, so someone comes along and gets back to basics - in whatever form that takes. There is much to admire about All Or Nothin’ from the singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, even when she with a touch of noir sings about crucify exboyfriends and have no problem with one-night stands as long as she can bolt town right after. Born in South Carolina, Nikki Lane moved to New York City and, after a messy breakup, picked up a guitar and set her sights on a music career. But the cost of living in New York proved to be too high an obstacle, so she turned to Nashville. Her new album, titled All Or Nothin’ — produced by Dan Auerbach — is one of the most breathtaking releases of this year. There is a post-modern girl power in here, Lane poetic and almost outlaw unique way of telling chapters of her life are truly amazing, breaking boundaries about those universal issues that people are always ashamed to talk. All or Nothin’ is an eclectic, stripped down sexy country and rock meets blues album. Songs like “Love’s on Fire”, the duet with Dan Auerbach is a plus; “Right Time” brings a closer and conscious look about having expectations about something and in “Sleep With a Stranger” we have a straightforward sex charge, in a clearly manifest of liberation and freedom. There is a new country rock outlaw in town, she is breaking stereotypes and liberating minds!
In early 2012, Priests began playing frantic punk, full of tempered tension, thoughtful rage and relentless energy that would come from living in the microcosm of institutional oppression that is Washington DC. Recorded at Inner Ear Studio with Hugh McElroy and Kevin Erickson, and by Kyle ‘Slick’ Johnson at Fancy Time Studio, Bodies and Control and Money and Power is an explosive cocktail of post-punk-riot grrrl style. Songs like “And Breeding” to the ripping “Modern Love No Weapon” are a clear manifestation of Katie Alice Greer artistic and non-conformist state of consciousness and mind. Listening to this could be an absolutely threatening experience for some people, but let’s face it, the world needs artists like these, where the listener is thrown into a world of musical schizophrenia, paranoia and anxiety, that could scare us and give us some consciousness of the world we live in. There is some tension for the listener, that’s for sure. Sometimes we feel a bit lost, because when Katie begins with her monologues you never know what you will get out of there. The unpredictability of this album is tremendous, where we feel like an outlaw in a middle of a riot, where we look at all sides and we do not see any escape from it. Bodies and Control and Money and Power is the perfect record for this sad and lame world ruled by scum and filthy bastards. This is the price of reality, REVOLT!
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White Lung, Be Your Own Pet, Le Butchrettes, Bikini Kill
Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Dusty Springfield, She and Him
And Breeding, Modern Love No Weapon
Love’s on Fire, Right Time, Sleep With a Stranger FAUSTO CASAIS
PARQUET COURTS Sunbathing Animal
Thrill Jockey (2014)
Mom + Pop (2014)
Universal Music (2014)
The good folks of OOIOO probably didn’t have the intention of doing it but with Gamel they created a gateway drug of sorts. A gateway drug that will probably lead people into the experimental, bold and avant-garde music realm. Gamel is simplistic in its richness and diversity, doing things step by step and playing with the music elements as if they were legos. They love to construct and deconstruct, shift gears of intensity and to trick us with the wonderful voices and choirs. The sixth studio effort by the band that was founded by Yoshimi P-We (Boredoms) has created an exciting, interesting and challenging piece. We just need to have patience and put some effort into it because after more than one hour of music… We want to taste it again!
On their second full-length, Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts bring back some of that punk infuse blues-rock from 60’s style that we all learn to love over the years. Sunbathing Animal portraits on the band’s own experiences of touring ceaselessly in the wake of growing popularity, where each song has a story behind, giving a more personal approach to that always exhausting but exciting touring experience. Parquet Courts with this new effort brings a new approach to their own sound, which contains maybe some of the most dark but confident material ever written by the band. They have struggled between their own notions of freedom and fear, regret, errors of conduct, loss and that kind of issues that every normal person relates too.
The new Paus’s album is definitely something very different from what they have done till now...even the most enthusiastic fan can recognize it. And sometimes when you change artistically one’s band work, in this way, the result can be very disappointed. Clarão it is not a catchy record and does not have the melodic intensity of Paus, the previous and homologous record of the band. It’s a painful journey with no inspiration whatsoever. It’s aggressive and wild (“Nó” and “Clarão”, the last song of the album means this), the originality of the sound (the percussion session) remains powerful but in the big picture the record is empty in consistence. It was a brave attitude from the band but the result is very weak.
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Killing Zombies with a shotgun...
The Men, Pavement, Wire
RADIO MOSCOW Magical Dirt
RED SQUARE SCENARIO Denouncement (EP)
SERPENTINE PATH Emanations
The Midwestern Psychedelic\ Bluesy band is back with Magical Dirt or we might say with their magical interstellar psyche freaking out music. Sounding a kind of Cream but in an update and speedy way, Magical Dirt is dizzy from the track one to the last. “Rancho Tehama Airport” and “Dead of a Queen” are energy and crazy long solos almost touching Hendrix madness’ skills. “Gypsy Fast Woman”, the “sexiest” song of the record, can be the perfect example of this description too and the Arabic song, “Before it Burns” is another highlight. The last song, “Stinging”, a pure bluesy song, reminds us Johnny Cash. Magical Dirt, although a bit repetitive sometimes, it is a rough, groovy, passionate and intense album.
Red Square Scenario are a 5 piece Hardcore band from Austria formed in late 2010 and they already have toured and shared stage with some big acts of the hardcore scene. They released an EP called Denouncement. In this EP they really step up the game to their previous releases! Mike puts all his soul and his powerful screams to another level in this EP! The rhythm section (Sean, Stefan) have done a really flawless job and (Chris, Wolfgang) done some contagious guitar riffs with a little bit of The Ghost Inside, While She Sleeps influences! Maybe the highlight is the first track “Relentless” that has a special guest, Lock & Key’s Richard Lardner. Overall, this is a good hardcore EP but we want an album!
Slugde Metal band from New Jersey present their second also known as sophomore album. I’m partial to some Doom Metal bands, a genre that can be considered as a distant cousin of Sludge, because in many cases the bands have the ability to make their sound lively and melodic without sacrificing the intensity of the music. This band proves that they can play a Slugde fest but so do many other bands, there’s nothing that distinguishes this for many other quasi interesting similar projects. It’s interesting but not captivating enough for other than the fan of this particular sub-genre of heavy music. Let’s hope that of subsequent releases the future of this band is more cheerful of bleak if you prefer.
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Dead Meadow, Buffalo Killers
Relapse Records (2014)
Alive Records (2014)
The Ghost Inside, While She Sleeps
Unearthly Trance, Hooded Menace
SHARON VAN ETTEN
Are We There
“That unique sensation is due to her ability of singing as if her voice is out of her body, coming from a place where music seems to be the answer to all of your problems.” It has been a long way since Sharon Van Etten’s official debut Because I Was In Love was released in 2009. Known by her atypical heavy-use of harmonies, the American singer-songwriter now releases her fourth album, Are We There, embracing a pacifist riot soul and singing mostly about fear and love. Her melodies often feel as if they’re not quite as steady as her lyrics, capable of taking your breath away, but still her sound makes you wonder why there aren’t many women like this producing music these days. In fact, Van Etten self-produced the 11-track-record with Stewart Lerman (St. Vincent, Antony & the Johnsons, Boardwalk Empire), recording it at Hobo Sound in New
Jersey and Electric Lady in New York. Maybe this is why listening to Are We There is a funny way of finding a new way back home: Sharon isn’t originally from NY, but she found a way to get there and make it work. Songs such as the main single “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – in fact, the last song of the entire album, and the most vivid one – actually brings some fresh air to our boring routine, and the music video also kicks in without asking for permission. Other songs such as “Your Love Is Killing Me” and “Afraid of Nothing” are worth mentioning, with strong passionate lyrics such as “Taste blood/Everybody needs to feel” and crowded of violent fantasies and dark desires.
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St. Vincent, Torres, Angel Olsen
It’s important to state that when performing live Van Etten isa warm presence, making you feel at home even in the impersonal of rooms. That unique sensation is due to her ability of singing as if her voice is out of her body, coming from a place where music seems to be the answer to all of your problems. If you ever get the chance, don’t miss her live show – youtube videos certainly don’t make her justice. In “Every Time the Sun Comes Up”, she ironically sings “People say I’m a one-hit wonder, but what happens when I have two?” – we actually don’t have a reply, but we might as well wish Van Etten to find her answer – or her (second) hit – soon.
Afraid of Nothing, Break Me, Our Love
3 7 SHONEN KNIFE Overdrive
Moshi Moshi (2014)
SWORN TO OATH Pillars
Trasncend Music (2014)
You have to hand it to Shonen Knife - nineteen albums in and they still know how to surprise. It’s still playful and silly and resolutely irreverent, the ‘Meow meow meow’ refrain of “Like A Cat” rendering it probably the most endearing ode to felines ever penned, but there’s nary a trace of the Ramones power-pop of old. Instead, there’re gleeful takes on Mötörhead (“Green Tea”), Joan Jett (“Bad Luck Song”) and even a moody Judas Priestworthy effort with “Black Crow”, but Naoko’s sunny disposition and the crisp guitarwork keeps it sounding like something they could conceivably have released 30 years ago. It makes for odd listening, but if you can make it through Overdrive without smiling once, you’re made of sterner stuff than most.
2014 marks the release of Sworn to Oath debut full-length album, and there’s a good amount of potential in here. These guys are not bringing nothing new here, but Pillars could have been the bastard child of a threesome between Killswitch Engage, Incubus and Will Haven, and we say this in a good way. Pillars shows that these guys are not afraid to push forward any kind of genre or subgenre, there are so many goddamn influences on this record that we can’t hide the big smile on our faces at every single listening. With two EPs already of their pockets, these guys with this full-length debut have once again shown an impressive improvement, filled with catchy chorus, big riffs and competent vocals.
Treading all of the familiar English themes dating back to the brilliance of The Kinks social observations, Teleman have created a work that dovetails with the totality of their influences. In and of itself, that can be a singular achievement, and yet here, as concise a statement that Breakfast is, they are missing the point. Their integration of programs and machines does nothing to further the songs, merely exposing themselves as machinations of familiarity. They do harness pop moments such as the pre-chorus and actual chorus of “Steam Train Girl”, which dissipates into a traditional barre chord bridge and the vocally effected outro. The footprint of Gary Numan and Thomas Dolby has never been filled with such cement. Repetitive eigth note guitar rhythms cannot duplicate the true conveyance of finding a new plateau. A high falsetto cannot create a constant. A descending guitar line in perfect treble cannot replicate soul.
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Ramones, Motorhead, Joan Jett
Will Haven, Killswitch Engage, Incubus
Pete and the Pirates, Gary Numan
7 TOM VEK Luck
TIGERS JAW Charmer
TORI AMOS Unrepentant Geraldines
Run For Cover Records (2014)
Moshi Moshi (2014)
On their third album, Charmer, Tigers Jaw went into the legendary Studio 4 in Conshohocken, PA with Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive, La Dispute) to record their most cohesive release to date. Charmer is rich on hooky melodies, but there is a strange vibe on it, as if the summer vibe always constant in the record is filled with rain all the time, we know it’s hot outside but the rain never let us enjoy it. Tigers Jaw have grown up musically, their approach on songwriting is absolutely more mature and cohesive, sometimes we can even call it more expansive, but in the end we keep thinking that something is missing... Although I must confess that I’m still eagerly look forward to whatever comes next.
Over the course of his decadelong career, Tom Vek has forged a reputation as one of London’s most fresh, enigmatic and exciting artists. Vek is once again pushing forward with his own Luck, but the truth is that he just pure and simple puts out one of the most unique albums made in Britain this year. Drawing on the modern anxiety of finding your place in a world saturated with information, Luck plunges the personal to deliver tracks that are truly sincere, and there are not afraid to expose some feelings like angry and poignant. Well guys, Luck is that charming and clever perfect mash-up between indierock and electro pop tunes that this London-based liberating mind have created.
Where an artist finds themselves within the larger context of the overall culture is very rarely of their own doing. Tori Amos found herself thusly thrust into the void of female artists which was suddenly filled around the period of her debut Little Earthquakes in the early nineties. Amos today treads the same solid ground she has built over the course of her fourteen album career. And that is a victory unto itself, but as far as expanding the palette and challenging herself as an artist and her audience to keep up, Unrepentant Geraldines is mired in the past. This is not Joni Mitchell on Mingus but rather a meditation of everything we learned from Kate Bush. The instrumentation is engaging, the musicianship stellar, but the lyricism is forced and certainly contains none of the aspects that could give inspiration in the future. Tori needs to place a few phone calls to Geoff Emerick and Neil Tennant.
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Title Fight, Seahevan, PIty Sex
John Grant, Damon Albarn, Sonic Youth
Fiona Apple, Kate Bush
Tibi Et Igni
Nuclear Blast (2014)
Relapse Records (2014)
The Brooklyn-based metal outfit has being a strong force of nature in these short seven years of existence. Releasing their two critically-acclaimed previous albums – Winter Hours (2009) and Path of Totality (2011) – was more than enough to establish themselves as one of most exciting and refreshing acts of the contemporary extreme metal scene. People always struggled to describe this entity that we know as Tombs, perhaps that’s why they are often describe as being just a post-metal act. Well, that’s really inaccurate since they’re way more that post-whatever. From black metal, to sludge, death metal and even post-punk they set a sound of their own and now with their new album more than ever they prove to be a band that it’s way more than a simple gathering of influences… They have become the reference point for other bands. Hiring the master Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel, Goatwhore, Cannibal Corpse, etc.) was the needed step and Savage Gold, one of the most expected albums of this year, meets all the expectations and gives us a little bit more. With ten tracks, Savage Gold presents an incredible atmosphere created by mesmerizing and brutal tracks that lock on each other almost perfectly. There’s an over going flow and Mike Hill & Co. were able to create a monster that never reaches saturation mostly because of the intelligent use of dynamics in every single track of the album. Savage Gold? It’s fuckin’ amazing!
Although they’ve been around since ’83, Vader rose to front lines during the mid-nineties as one of the acts that revitalized what appeared to be an already formulaic and “keep-it-safe” death metal genre. Since that time, Peter Wiwczarek’s outfit has gained considerable reputation as one of the genre’s main flag carriers, having morphed later into the death/thrash hybrid they are known to be today. Tibi Et Igni isn’t much different from what Vader have been releasing in the last years. To their credit, they’ve kept their stylistic consistency intact, but the problem here is they’re also starting to enter that category of bands from whom we just mention, “Oh look, its another (Artist Name Here) album”, and ironically, it seems like they’ve became trapped in the same “by-the-book” style restrictions they’ve initially helped to overcome. Still, there are some noteworthy numbers to be found on Tibi Et Igni such as “Go To Hell”, the Slayer-esque “Triumph of Death”, the intricate “Eye of the Abyss” and the crushing finisher “The End”. Other than these, it’s a pretty regular Vader album, only a little bit toned down in speed when compared to Morbid Reich. Tibi Et Igni surely is deserving of an high grade, just because of its excellent musicianship, but the fact that Wiwczarek and his gang still keep circling around the same creative waters, just doesn’t give them that extra push needed to enter the “Best of 2014” lists near the end of the year.
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Hate, Morbid Angel, Decapitated, Slayer
Minsk, Rwake, Neurosis
Tibi Et Igni, Go To Hell, Triumph of Death
Thanatos, Echoes, Edge of Darkness TIAGO MOREIRA
8 TRADE WIND Suffer Just to Believe (EP)
7 TRANS AM Volume X
TRAP THEM Blissfucker
Other People Records (2014)
Thrill Jockey (2014)
Stick To Your Guns frontman Jesse Barnett and Stray From The Path guitarist Tom Williams had joined forces to start a new band that is far from sounding like their other bands. With the need to explore other music genres, the duo have started working on this new project for about three years ago, but was only until December 2013 that they realized the greatness of this union. Drawing inspiration from outfits like Quicksand, Deftones and Foo Fighters, Jesse and Tom dive into a more alternative rock side, leaving aside the hardcore/punk that they are used to be associated with. Jesse’s incredible vocals (reminding sometimes Chino Moreno’s vocals) and lyrics give an extra depth to these four tracks. Suffer Just To Believe is a solid and intense debut EP.
Welcome to a new world order, where Trap Them, the noise terrorists are taking over, bringing some kind of new brutal and killer sound, where the combination of rock ‘n’ roll and crustpunk aggression are the laws, and sleazy and dirtiness heaviness are the main rules behind this new breed of noise that is conquering our ears and hearts. Much has changed in the past three years since the excellent Darker Handcraft, including the new rhythm section of Brad Fickeisen on drums and Galen Baudhuin on bass, but that pedigree sound of Trap Them remains the same, where dirty and aggressive guitars, some misanthropy, and supreme songwriting are demanding our attention. Well guys, Blissfucker is one of the most crushing and brutal albums of this year.
It was back in 1993 that Trans Am were formed and the trio remained together throughout all these years. However it’s much difficult for them to get together and make music, Nathan, Phil and Sebastian managed to keep on going and make a new album. Impeccable as it may be, Volume X brings back their fusion of post-rock, futuristic sounds and synthesizer ambience. As they said, this new album marks their tenth studio and the ten tracks have a different side of them. Fuzzy riffs and robot sounds may not seem nothing new to the approach of the trio, but they bring some refreshing vibes into their songs, like the enjoyable “Night Shift”, the speedy-aggressive “Backlash” and the slow-down, sentimental “I’ll Never”.
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Deftones, Quicksand, Foo Fighters
Black Breath, All Pigs Must Die, Nails
TRASH TALK No Peace
Kraftwerk, Shellac, Tortoise
Trash Talk Collective/Odd Future Records (2014)
Nordavind Records (2014)
“No Peace is a promise and a threat” states the press release, and we cannot agree more on this. We love to go further on this, No Peace is heavy, cathartic and intense. But we can go even further on this matter and say that if a kid asks me what hardcore is, I hand him a copy of Black Flag, Minor Threat or Trash Talk copy of No Peace. Frontman Lee Spielman really delivered the goods on this one, in one of the most aggressive hardcore releases in years, this is just a bit insane and after some listenings our main goal is to start a mosh pit or crack someone in the ribs. The lyrics are insane, and they sound so real as angry as well. This is the perfect soundtrack to the world we live in, they’re mad as anyone with a brain and some conscious.
Vensaire is a New York based quintet, but their music goes beyond frontiers. In 2012, they’ve released the fantastic self-titled EP in which each one of them wrote a song that kind of introduced them musically. Each member brought different influences to the group’s sound and, after a while, they finished together their debut album. Perdix is for sure a wellcrafted and conceptual piece of art, brilliantly composed. Mainly inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, the theme of this record goes around a mythological story and also personal experiences. The mix of different genres is majestic and all the different instruments played made each song even more beautiful and richer in details. A remarkable album, that’s a fact.
Vinterbris hail from Bergen, Norway, and they’re exactly what you’d expect: a bleak and desolate black metal band that follows the same path that Moonsorrow and Primordial once travelled. With enough rawness to please the traditional black metal fan, they also deliver melancholic passages that carry the listener through the ice cold mists of Norway’s landscapes. This is most notable in “Fathoms”, where the listener is beaten to submission by the brutality of Henrik Skar’s vocals and Rolstad’s drums, only to be caressed by gentle guitars seconds later. Solace is a great second album by Vinterbris, and as soon as they’re able to free themselves from the shackles of other bands’ influences, the sooner they will become one of the great new acts in the black metal scene.
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Black Flag, Minor Threat, Cro-Mags
Arcade Fire, Animal Collective
REVIEWED NEXT MONTH
Creature Songs (EP) Dirty Hit (2014)
FEED THE RHINO
The Sorrow and the Sound
FIRST AID KIT
LANA DEL REY
The London four piece Wolf Alice made us wonder and wanting more from their music when they made their musical debut in 2013. The singles “Fluffy” and “Bros” were exceptional and the buzz was on! But, it was just when they released their debut EP Blush that everything made sense: Wolf Alice were a band to watch! Tracks like “Blush” and “She” are tremendous hits blasted with a mix of folk and grunge. Interesting, right? With all the media around them, things became more serious and little by little the band are gaining their own status. Less than a year later, Ellie Rowsell and co. release another EP, Creature Songs, and the expectations were obviously high, but there was something intriguing after several listenings. The opening track and first single - “Moaning Lisa Smile” - is a great song: catchy chorus and sharp riffs all wrapped up in their moody psycho-grunge followed by the heavy “Storms”. The quartet’s vivid energy is still there, but then the next two songs - “Heavenly Creatures” and “We’re Not the Same” - break that energy, like they lost it along the way, offering two easy-going mellow folk songs that smashed a bit our spirit. Not that is a bad thing - they surely are trying on new approaches - but it was kind of offbeat. There’s a slight different approach on Wolf Alice’s writing this around on Creature Songs: it’s slower and smoother than Blush, but they got what it takes to make great songs. Let’s see what a fulllength will sound like...
Once More Round The Sun
World Peace is None of Your...
The Hunting Party
You Can’t Stop Me
FOR FANS OF:
Superfood, Throwing Muses, Swim Deep
Moaning Lisa Smile, Heavenly Creatures ANDREIA ALVES
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Seek Warmer Climes
TEMPLES FESTIVAL DAY 1 Motion Bristol 22.05.2014 , Words: David Bowes // Pictures: Falk-Hagen Bernshausen
Saying that all the stops were pulled out for Temples Festival, Mk. I would be putting it gently. Day one alone had the sinfully swish acid grooves of Spider Kitten, WitchSorrow and Moss’s tried-and-true strains of doom orthodoxy and some vastly divergent takes on black metal - <code>’s baroque and bizarre, Winterfylleth’s saturated in icy melody, but the undisputed top spot for heaviness was taken by Jucifer’s earth-shaking, hair-swinging and uniformly savage sludge. For individual performances, Alia Murphy of Blood Ceremony’s rich tones, theatrical flourishes and bitchin’ flute solos made her easily the most magnetic presence, though the vicious intensity of Anaal Nathrakh’s Dave Hunt was a close runner. The last ever UK show for veteran grinders Brutal Truth was a bittersweet affair, though the frightening speed of Richard Hoake’s snare work and Kevin Sharpe’s gruff, exuberant presence softened the blow somewhat. All that remained was Electric Wizard, the sonic equivalent of a grainy 70’s snuff flick, and the day was wrapped up. 104
TEMPLES FESTIVAL DAY 2 Motion Bristol 23.05.2014 , Words: David Bowes // Pictures: Falk-Hagen Bernshausen
Saturday offered up some local destruction with Bristol’s Svalbard and Sonance, who proved to be possible highlights of the festival – the former with their emotive, layered and immensely catchy hardcore and the latter with a breathtaking blend of delicate melody and raw, throat-ripping bleakness. Josh Graham’s first appearance of the day with MGR, the project of ex-Isis guitarist Mike Gallagher, transformed the set from tranquil guitar exploration to a rough, punchy and intelligent slab of metal, a sensation that he ramped up later in the day with A Storm Of Light’s percussive onslaught. Tombs strived to delve into as many avenues of rage and sonic fury in their allotted 45 minutes and emerged bloody and triumphant, while raw punk fury got a look in too with a long-awaited UK visit from Wolfbrigade, who made up for lost time with air-punching enthusiasm, and with the guttural crust of Doom. For those unbaptized at the Church of Ra, Amenra’s savagely elegant pummelling was a revelation, while everyone else just marvelled at how perfectly on form they were, and finally it was time for Neurosis. They crushed lungs, they smothered the crowd with density and sonorous pressure and they were, in every sense, monumental.
TEMPLES FESTIVAL DAY 3 Motion Bristol 24.05.2014 , Words: David Bowes // Pictures: Falk-Hagen Bernshausen
It made sense that Sunday would be a day of contrasts. On one hand, it had the soulful funk-blues jams of Lionize, H A R K’s deft time signature-wrangling (including a damn good groove being struck with the accompaniment of Clutch’ Neil Fallon) and Black Moth’s direct-but-danceable nouveaudoom, but it also had the incredible intensity of Oathbreaker, a relentless, blackened assault from The Secret and War Wolf’s gritty and socially conscious sludge. In a world of their own, though, was Beastmilk, an island of end-times love and dance in the midst of the sea of devastation that was the second stage. The good vibes were obliterated by Dragged Into Sunlight’s strobe-lit intensity, a harrowing experience and an affront to every possible sense, and by Repulsion’s raw, undiluted grind filth, though at least a good, beer-swigging time was had with the guitar-hoisting riffery of Doomriders. There might have been a tinge of sadness at the festival’s end but with Clutch, frowns were not an option. With a loose, unrestrained spirit, a frontman that no-one would even dare try to match in energy and with the combined might of ten great albums under their belts, the weekend was closed in a fireburst of blues finery and Fallon’s mighty bellow. Temples Festival – you’re off to a great start.
Plano B, Porto 16.05.2014 Words: Ana Filipa Carvalho After one hour more or less of delay, B Fachada arrives on stage like everything is ok and the show must go on. This kind of attitude is a lack of respect and professionalism to everyone who was in that room that night. The room was metaphorically on fire: it was crowed, full of smoke and heat and full of tired people. Actually, that place had no conditions what so ever and this carefree attitude from B Fachada reminds us that we live in a country with lack of artistic and social criticism, where this kind of pseudo artists grow like mushrooms. Cold, very cold from an artist with the reputation of B Fachada... Anyway, the concert itself was funny, Fachada was more like an entertainment than a musician, telling jokes and being all the time comfortable with that persona. After playing three old songs of his career, B started to play new material like “Um Fandango Ensaiadinho”, “Baile à Bófia” and “Meu querido mês de Agosto”. In spite some technical problems on the loops, the concert was purely cool because B Fachada is lyrically very good. He makes pop poetry in the funniest way possible. It is just sad he extended this joyful attitude towards his fans but his lack of commitment with them too.
CROCODILES, BE FOREST, SPY ON MARS Black Bombaim
BLACK BOMBAIM, THE ASTROBOY
Galeria Zé dos Bois, Lisboa 10.05.2014 Words and Photo: Ricardo Almeida Warm weather and a Saturday night; absolutely no excuse for not heading to Bairro Alto, the Mecca of Lisbon’s night life, and enjoying some of the finest music that Portugal has to offer. So did the few dozens of bodies gathering at ten o’clock in the welcoming rooms of Galeria Zé dos Bois – a non-profit cultural collective in the form of bar, gallery and concert venue. With an almost full room, The Astroboy invited the audience to a Philip K. Dick inspired world of sonic experimentation, leading it through a journey which is not so much supposed to be a soundtrack to “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” but an interpretation of the dystopian universe of the author. Abstraction, minimalism and attention to detail are some of the characteristics of this artist who seems to be into Tim Hecker as much as he is into Krautrock. Abstract soundscaping gave place to guitar driven psychedelia. Black Bombaim, the trio from Barcelos, took the audience Far Out, dwelling between the reigns of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, in “Arabia”, and diving deep in the heart of “Africa II”s savannahs. Rodrigo Amado, one of the guest musicians on Far Out, would come up on stage bringing all the healthy fury of his hyperactive saxophone, opening the way through to the jungle as this freak circus dances all the way to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, the electrifying madness of the three stoners and the wild free jazz spitted by Amado’s saxophone totally crushed the subtle craft of Astroboy, who was also on stage trying to add some spice to the mixture. There is absolutely no doubt that these guys are doing rock ’n’ roll history, pushing the boundaries of psychedelic rock to unexplored territory. 106
Hard Club, Porto 03.05.2014 Words: Ana Filipa Carvalho
The party began with Spy on Mars, a rock band from Porto. The crowd was half-full but their performance was very interesting if we think it was their second gig and in a famous rock club in the city. Funny, relax and unpretentious, good musicians balanced by the strong vocalist voice and presence on stage. Next on stage, pop-darkwave band from Italy, Be Forest. They are a very young band leaded by the bassist and vocals Contanze Della Rose. The Italian quartet performance was quite good, beyond the sweet and melodic voice of Contanze, the mini drum kit and samplers followed by a clean sound guitar were quite harmonious reminding us at some point the English band XX but in a darkest atmosphere. It’s a band with an EP so far, Earthbeat which they played all along with some recent material, two new songs and the future ahead of them. Although, they’re youth, they showed security, presence and consistence on stage. Crocodiles’ performance was a two way street concert. In fact, the gig was quite short. They played seven songs and their attitude was somehow arrogant before a crowd that was there exclusively to watch them. The interruptions seemed endless and futile. They mainly played songs from their new album, Crimes of Passion, a “Ghost Rider” cover of Suicide and the hits “I Wanna Kill” and “Mirrors”. The best thing of the night was watching the passionate way Charles Rowell treats and plays his guitar. He moves it up and down, turns it over, licks it and plays it with a bottle of beer, enthusiastically. It is a thrill to watch him.
CELESTE, REVOK, COMITY
Hard Club, Porto 06.05.2014 Words: Tiago Moreira
The French masters of dark hardcore returned to Portugal, this time around to present their latest and double album, Animale(s). Just like they usually do, the show happened with no lights whatsoever… Well, they have their red strobe lights that together with the good amounts of smoke just make everything creepier, grittier and way cooler. Believe it or not, that makes a huge impact. We had the opportunity of witnessing the excellent music of Celeste (there’s no doubts about the quality of their compositions – they evolve from release to release) being enhanced by the atmosphere that they love to deliver. A wall of sound, killer riffs and you’re pretty sure why they are the fuckin’ masters. To open two other bands that are keep the hardcore tradition alive. First Revok with their very interesting mixture of hardcore with noise rock. Then Comity with their hardcore that didn’t surprise anyone present. It was, overall, a good night. Bo Ningen
Armazém do Chá, Porto 10.05.2014
King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow 13.05.2014
Words: Tiago Moreira
Photo: Peter Davidson // Words: David Bowes
Thank to some choice coverage on The Guardian and BBC Radio 6, tonight’s crowd are an odd mix of middle-aged drunkards, fashionablydressed twenty-somethings and bearded appreciators of all things wiggy and weird, but as soon as Bo Ningen are in full swing, all spectators are reduced to one gawping, deliriously rapt blob. It takes only moments for Taigen Kawabe to begin his surreal ceremonial ritual and by the time the quartet strike up “Henkan” he is hyperactively yammering and throwing wild, esoteric hand gestures like he was Abe no Seimei. The four of them epitomise the 70’s, harnessing the wild creative abandon of Zappa and The MC5’s riotous energy, but never giving an inch in the pursuit of catchy, urgent, foot-stomping hedonism. Yuki Tsujii, a diminutive virtuoso in a crimson robe not dissimilar to Kawabe’s black garb, is a mirror of their leader, with the same manic bursts of energy and funkified spirit. His counterpart Kohhei is more cool and measured in his endeavours but they drive each other onwards in consciousnessexpanding swirl of light, movement and psychoacoustic amplifier worship that constantly threatens to reach into the skull and wring every available thought out. It’s only with the summer sprawl of “Yuruyakana Ao” that the band pause for breath, Kawabe reigning in the noise in favor of hazy reflection, though with the epic closer “Daikaisei” he’s perched on the barrier, guitar strap in his teeth as the crowd reach out to touch him, Tsujii has his guitar by the head, spinning it in circles passing perilously close to the ground and Kohhei is teasing out a plethora of wild and wonderful sounds as Mon-chan pounds out a primal, urgent beat. Freewheeling from one extreme to the next, it’s the physical manifestation of music that is just as excitingly visceral – an explosion reduced to the focus of a pin-prick, a feat which few could sustain for a song let alone an hour. This is why they don’t need an encore, and it’s why they just might be the best live act in the UK at the moment.
Just four days after the great concert of Celeste, Amplificasom brought to Porto the German duo known as Mantar. Presenting their brand new and debut album, Death By Burning, that was released by the amazing Finish label Svart Records, the band gave one of the worst concerts promoted by Amplificasom. With their mixture of black, doom and punk they showed the bad quality of their compositions. The sound quality was not the best. Their attitude was really good. Nothing matters when the music is so bad and sounds like half-cooked demos with just a handful of good ideas. The technical limitations of the drummer Erinc were huge and worked as a huge restrain to some of the good ideas of the guitarist and vocalist Hanno. Not saying that the good ideas were innovative… No, they were something that you’ve heard somewhere else but at least they had some structure and end. Good vibe. Bad concert. They need to find themselves.
Devil In Me
BROTHERS IN ARMS TOUR
DEVIL IN ME, DEEZ NUTS, LOCK & KEY,
THE YEAR Hard Club, Porto 16.05.2014 Words: Cláudio Aníbal // Photos: Andreia Alves
Deez Nuts 108
May 16th was time to Porto (Hard Club) receive the third edition of the Brothers In Arms Tour, a tour that is organized by the Portuguese band Devil In Me The night began with the Portuguese band The Year, formed from the ashes of My Cubic Emotion had a surprise in their formation by personal reasons, the person to take the bass duty was Ana Monteiro from the band BIRDS. Some of the highlights of their show was “Prostitune” (the latest single) who started to warm up the night, and the last song with the first single, that I was invited to get on stage and share the vocals dutty. The second band to take the stage - and debut show in Portugal - was Lock & Key from Birmingham, UK. They showed how to do a good hardcore show and the lead singer Richie (former Odessa) was always talking and interacting with the audience. The setlist of 5 songs provided some sing along in the songs “So Alone” and “No Acceptance”. It was with great expectation that the audience awaited the first appearance Deez Nuts in the city of Porto. The Australian/American started the show with some sound problems and the lead singer JJ Peters declared its lack of voice and asked the crowed to sing along on the themes that were to come. With a lot of help of "friends", Deez Nuts started the first highlight of the show with the song “Stay True”, which generated a rain of stages dives. At the end of the show, they invited Poly from Devil In Me to sing the last song, “Band of Brothers”! It was with a song of Bob Marley that the headliner Devil In Me got on stage and pullrd the public to the stage, starting to build a decent human frame of a hardcore show with enoumerous stage dives and circle pits along with the breakdowns and a insane attitude from the band! This was a memorable night for Devil in Me and the public who attended, which led to a series of thanks from all the band members who were thrilled with such reception. Whether you like it or not, Devil In Me is one of the biggest hardcore bands in Portugal and they proved that in Hard Club.
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS
DIRECTOR: Tom Berninger CAST: Tom Berninger, Matt Berninger, Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner,
Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendorf, Brandon Reid, Carin Besser, Isla Berninger, Nancy Berninger, Paul Berninger, Barack Obama, Lucas Cotterman, Will Arnett, Werner Herzog, John Krasinski
In an interview with Matt Berninger, the interviewer points out that the band is composed by two sets of brothers (Aaron Dessner - Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf – Scott Devendorf) and him, who’s the only one that doesn’t have a brother. Well, he has a brother that “is a metalhead and probably thinks that indie rock is a pretentious bullshit”. From there we’re introduced to Tom Berninger, Matt’s brother, who lives in Cincinnati with his parents and was asked to be on the road with The National to be their roadie. He accepts the job and takes his camera to record a documentary about the band. First thing, the band could use a renowned director but instead they choose to go with a horror/action movie aficionado. And the journey begins with Tom shooting his documentary and trying, without succeeding on the task, to fulfill his obligations as a roadie, as a crew member. It doesn’t take too much time until you see that Tom is the central figure of the documentary and everything is about him, a very creative and intelligent person that has tons of insecurities about himself and does stuff in an unconventional way, a way that’s is not normal and not supposed, making everyone in the band and crew uncomfortable. The camera is always on and he searches for every possible angle, including the ones that seem to not make sense. Everything seems to go wrong because of all Tom’s insecurities. Mistaken For Strangers is not a normal rockumentary. There’s little concern about speaking highly of the band in question. It’s all about the normal, scheduled, organized and sometimes boring and frustrating life of musicians on tour that are playing in a considerable “big” band and it’s, most importantly, about how the dynamics between the group are seen through an outsider’s eyes while that outsider goes on a journey of his own, going through multiple stages. From this drunk kid type of joy of listening Halford’s Halford III: Winter Songs (the solo project of Judas Priest vocalist, Rob Halford) to moments of depression when everything seems just shitty. Mistaken For Strangers is about family, about people and how those people relate and interact… It just happens to be wthin in a rock world scenario. I’m not a National fan and it doesn’t matter because that’s the genius of this documentary. It takes you to a place that’s often forgotten when we’re dealing with the show business. It can be contradictory but Mistaken For Strangers is a documentary about the band disguised as a documentary about an outsider, Tom Berninger. It tells you more that you probably want to know or care to know but in the end you’ll probably be a fan of this piece because it feels so natural and so organic. Bottom line, this is a brilliant documentary that operates outside the box and makes you think outside the box. A true breath of fresh air in the rockumentary scene. TIAGO MOREIRA
THE PUNK SINGER
DIRECTOR: Sini Anderson CAST: Kathleen Hanna, Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon, Joan Jett, Adam Horovitz, Tavi Gevinson, Kathi Wilcox, Corin Tucker, Jocelyn Samson, Lynn Breedlove, Jennifer Baumgardner, Johanna Fateman, Tobi Vail, Allison Wolfe USA 2013
Nowadays have been some serious misunderstanding of what it really means the word feminism and what it stands for. And there has been a lot of female artists on the pop and even cinema world that keep on not understanding what it means and keep on saying bullshit out of their mouths. My honest suggestion for this misinformed people is to watch this brilliant documentary about the feminist activist, musician, artist Kathleen Hanna. If you don’t know who she is, this is your opportunity to get to know the incredible person she is, and why she was the main reason that the Riot Grrrl movement started in the 90’s. That’s right, The Punk Singer is about Kathleen Hanna and is Sini Anderson’s first feature length documentary, and as a close friend of Hanna, Anderson thought it was time to show how important she 112
was - and still is – in the struggle of equality and human rights. Yeah, feminism is about EQUALITY, get it? So, Anderson takes us into the world of Hanna since she started to speak her mind through music/ art to the present days, where she opens up about her Lyme disease that no one didn’t know about until now. The first Hanna’s musical approach was in the legendary punk band Biniki Kill - a band that even though is not in active since ’97, it keeps influencing a lot of new bands today – and it was back then that the Riot Grrrl movement started. In this documentary, we see how was it like for Hanna to be in Bikini Kill; how affected her in a lot a ways, how hard was to deal with all that and how important was her commitment and strength to say what was on her mind. After the split of Bikini Kill, her next band was the electropop Le Tigre
where she found a new way of expressing herself, but then in 2005 she went in a hiatus from music because of her disease. Fortunately, Hanna got back on track and started working on the new band, the Julie Ruin, which was previously a solo project she started in 1998. While those stages of her life are portrayed through 20 years of archival footage, intimate interviews and well-picked soundtrack, many well-known artists like Carrie Brownstein, Kim Gordon, Joan Jett etc. joined in to talk about her and how she changed their lives. The Punk Singer is a celebration of the cultural and political life of outspoken icon that Kathleen Hanna is and as it was said “People who are around being heroes act like they don’t need help, that’s the nature of being a hero. You don’t need help, you’re a helper.” ANDREIA ALVES
UNDER THE SKIN
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Glazer WRITER: Walter Campbell, Michel Faber, Jonathan Glazer CAST: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell, Kevin McAlinden, D. Meade, Andrew Gorman, Joe Szula UK 2014
DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards WRITER: Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham CAST: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, CJ Adams, Ken Watanabe, Carson Bolde, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn USA/JAPAN 2014
Under the Skin is that kind of movie that will make people leave the cinema, talk about it, dissecting and puzzling over, for years. It’s not an easy approach for the common people, this is that kind of movie that can be compelling, weird, intensely disturbing and bizarre, all that at the same time. Jonathan Glazer is the master of all this weirdness, in this freshly cult masterpiece, showing that Glazer is keeping alive the Kubrick and Roeg arty approach, where 2001: A Space Odissey and The Men Who Fell to Earth are clearly invoked. And what can we say about Scarlet’s performance? Well, she shows courage and coldness enough to give her heart and soul to one of the most bizarre characters of her career. Visually stunning, this is art in its purest form.
Finally we have a blockbuster that truly stands out from the complete rubbish that we have seen lately that of these so called “Blockbusters” movies. Gareth Edwards is the mastermind that gave Godzilla the perfect reborn, only Edwards could capture pandemonium and human bravery at the same time, by the way, do you guys remember Monsters? Yeap, it’s the same guy. This is a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of that titanic forces of nature that could destroy the world, but fear nothing, because the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless. Gareth Edwards is the Spielberg of our time, but he has the vision and mind to totally surpass his legacy. FAUSTO CASAIS
WALK OF SHAME
DIRECTOR: Robert Stromberg WRITER: Linda Woolverton CAST: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Sam Riley, Brenton Thwaites, Kenneth Cranham USA/UK 2014
DIRECTOR: Steven Brill WRITER: Steven Brill CAST: Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden, Gillian Jacobs, Sarah Wright, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, Ken Davitian, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Alphonso McAuley, Da’Vone McDonald, Eric Etebari USA 2014
It’s always exciting to see a live-action re-imagining Disney’s classic. The most recently cut was 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, which was a poor, insipid movie - even though Charlize Theron’s performance was mesmerizing. This time around is retold the story of Disney’s 1959 animated film Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the wicked fairy godmother, Maleficent. Angelina Jolie’s graciousness and enchantment go really well in this role as Maleficent but it’s not enough to make this film a great achievement; there’s nothing new and refreshing, but the realistic touch in such fantasy world is ok to make it quite different. This was Robert Stromberg’s directorial debut, well-known by his skills on special effects and he shows that in this flick as well.
After a one night stand with a handsome stranger, a famous reporter finds herself lost in L.A. with no car, no ID and no money – and she has only eight hours before the interview of her career. Starring Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect, Hunger Games) as Meghan, the girly reporter, this sarcastic comedy actually puts the O on outrageous by showing some of the most embarrassing moments of something we’ve all been through one time or another: that dubious walk of shame, getting home after one night that either was awesome or ended up poorly. Will everything end up right at the end and will Meghan get her dream job? Directed by Steven Brill (Movie 43), this is a 21st century girl comedy, so fresh and clean – oh no it isn’t.
There’s been no shortage of quality metal bands in the past few years, but it’s hard to think of any quite like Castle. The husband and wife duo of Mat Davis and Elizabeth Blackwell bring together a love of Judas Priest, esotericism and soul in a lethal concoction, and the brew has distilled even further in their third full-length, “Under Siege”. MUSIC&RIOTS Magazine talked to guitarist Mat David about what goes on behind the minds of Castle. Words: David Bowes
hanks a lot for taking the time to talk to us here. Just quickly, how did Castle originally come to be?
Basically, the band started around 2006 as a home recording solo project, just after I moved to San Francisco. I worked on the first record for a few years on my own, tried to start a band here and there; had a guitar player for a while, had a drummer for a while but never really had a full band going. I met Liz [Blackwell] sometime around 2009, I played her the demos I had and she was really into it, and one thing led to another. She was a singer and a musician so we started working on some ideas for vocals. Up to that point it was just instrumental music with a few random melodies I had, song titles and ideas for choruses and things but it wasn’t until I started to work with her that things started to come together with lyrics and melodies and really that’s how the first record came to be. Once we’d put the vocals onto the demos, it became really easy at that point to find a drummer. An old friend of mine came into the project and we started recording the first record, having never played a show or even been in a rehearsal room together.
How did the early shows go?
We put a lot of work in. I’m cutting a lot of corners with the story but I’d been playing with the drummer that came into the project since we were teenagers, so over 20 years in different bands. We already had a musical history together, where you start to develop a language with someone, musically, when you write together with them for so long. It’s funny but when I wrote the first record I had his drumming in mind anyway, even though I was using a drum machine, so it was easy for him to come in and do it because it was written in a style that he could relate to. We both grew up on very similar bands, like 80’s metal stuff, so the more challenging part and the greater amount of work went into rehearsing between Liz and I - getting her up to speed on bass, and singing at the same time, which was something she had never done. We rehearsed together for about a year before we ever played a show. We worked pretty hard at it, and when we started playing, obviously it took a few shows to get it together. In between releasing the first record, In Witch Order, which was done in early 2011, and releasing Blacklands, which was done about a year later, we played maybe 7 or 8 or 10 shows - some in California, some in Toronto - and it wasn’t until we started our first tour, which was in Europe just after Blacklands came out, things started to come together a little quicker. On the road, the bar is raised a little bit, so you have to try and figure it out quicker. www.facebook.com/MUSICandRIOTS.Magazine
INTERVIEW // CASTLE
What sort of standpoint are you coming from with Castle, timewise? Your sound has a strong 80’s metal influence but lyrically, you have that 70’s occult influence there too. I don’t really think about anything when I’m writing, it just comes out. The first record was a lot of experimentation because I didn’t have a band, I didn’t think about releasing a record and I didn’t have any expectations. I would write each song as its own experiment, and I had specific sounds in mind. A lot of it was just fooling around with layering guitars, trying out different rhythms and stuff like that. I think that level of experimentation has always carried over, through all three records at this point; it was the basis of the band in the beginning and I think I’ve always tried to keep that in mind. More than anything, it’s how I work in the studio when I write music. I get really into layering and tracking guitars on top of one another, and I guess the difference between that record and this one is that we became a live band along the way. Now I see what works live and what doesn’t. That first record was in my head, and it didn’t need to work live because it wasn’t live. The new record needed to work live because we spend a lot of time on the road these days, it’s what we love to do – travelling and touring. So it came from a place where it’s got to work live, even if we’re not going to play the full record. It’s not simplified but in a way it’s more direct. You have to trim a way a little more of the excess, a little more of the fat. It’s a little leaner in that way, and it translates more easily to a threepiece, but I also think in a way that the material is a little stronger, because it is more direct. I think overall, the influences have always been stuff I’ve always listened to. Obviously stuff from the 70’s, like Priest and Sabbath, but I grew up on 80’s metal like Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth – all that kind of music. I still listen to it, and I think that stuff just stays with you. It’s not like I sit down and try and do something classic-sounding, it just kind of comes out like that, and you add in our drummer’s drum style and you add in Liz’s vocals, it becomes Castle music to me.
What about the writing and composition of your guitar lines, and particularly the solos? What do you think makes for a good 116
solo, in the context of your own style?
That’s a surprising question to hear because I’ve never considered myself a lead guitar player. I’ve a very non-traditional approach. I do a lot of stuff that I’ve made up on the spot, and that becomes a little tricky live. It’s funny but when playing the new songs live, I don’t play the solos exact because I have more of a positional kind of approach. I try to put a feel on top of what the bass and drums are doing underneath and try to hit some sweet spots. Piece it together and hope that it sounds good live, and after doing it every night you start to create something that resembles, hopefully, something that’s memorable. In the studio, I tend to work all that out in advance. I record a lot of the solos in my own home studio where I can spend a long amount of time on it because I might not be able to pull that off in a studio on the spot. To tell you the truth, Liz helps me out a lot because she has a really good ear and I’ll run ideas by her. Out of a whole flurry of notes, she’ll pick out the one that’s not quite right and she’ll tend to be bang on. I try to work things in, like some of the chords or the phrasings and vocal melodies, and try to reinforce some of those ideas with a solo and try to tie it into the song a little more. So maybe it’s not the fastest, or craziest solo but I try to make it work within the context of the song.
How much of Castle’s lyrics are taken from personal experience and how much from other, more external, points of reference?
Music seems to come a lot more naturally for me and I think sometimes the lyrics come in different ways. I’ll either get an idea and then a song will start to come from that; a mood or a vibe, or something, can be a starting point; or sometimes I’ll start with music, and that will have a mood that will lend itself to an idea or a thought Liz or I will have. Anything can spark it. Writing music is a little more inspirational, like looking for a strike of lightning or a riff that won’t leave your head. With lyrics, for me, there’s more craft involved - how to not, basically, fuck a song up. Just make it so that the lyrics kind of fit the mood of the song, and make it interesting. I like to make things work on different levels so it’s not just, “Here’s a very literal
song about this subject.” Maybe my preference isn’t for that; it’s more oblique, a structure of words or sentences that appear to be about something but you can see a double meaning in it. To say it’s about something specific doesn’t really ring true for us. It’s more, “How can we add to the song musically and atmospherically?” If they take on a meaning that’s a little larger than the song, then that’s cool too but not always necessarily the case, and definitely not the objective.
How well do you think Denis (Forkas Kostromitin)’s artwork fits with the album, and how did you originally come to be working with him?
The first time that we got in touch with him was on Blacklands. We started to put the idea of the record together and we had the songs all demoed. You’re about to go in the studio, then you go, “Alright, what’re we going to do about a cover?” It was our drummer at the time who looked into three or four artists online related in some way to metal and Denis was the one guy that we wrote to. His artwork was something we both thought was amazing. I loved everything I saw, and also it didn’t seem like he had done too much in the way of cover art so it seemed to be a little more off the beaten path, which seemed to suit the band. We wanted something a little different, a little more our own, aesthetically, so I explained the project to him and set out where we were at, musically and lyrically. I sent him the demos and he was really into it. It seemed to pair up really well, as I know he puts a lot of thought into what he does. When we offered to work together and came up with the concept of Blacklands he started to send us these sketches and we were pretty blown away. It really was a back and forth between us, then we had the finished work and a lot of people said a lot of really great things about it. It was a perfect piece for the record. This one, we did the same way – well, not exactly the same. It was more of a coincidence as when I wrote him about the new record, I described a lot of things we were writing about, how the concept of labyrinths was tied into the record. I wanted to try to tie in the concept of labyrinths and mazes in everyday life, how you
“Writing music is a little more inspirational, like looking for a strike of lightning or a riff that won’t leave your head.” could try to evolve out of that maze in your mind, and he had also been doing paintings on and off for the past couple of years that related to this very same subject matter. Basically, he was doing all these different studies, sketches and paintings to work up towards this final piece that he had in mind, which turned out to be the cover of our record. We also have another piece by him, which is going to be on the inside of the record, which we haven’t really shown. I think we put it online briefly, but it could easily have been another record cover. It was a really hard decision, actually, but the one that won out was, I felt, the more fitting for the cover of the record but the other one is equally as awesome aesthetically.
Another “Blacklands” return was Billy Anderson’s return to production duties. Does he have that same view of constructing music as you do?
In Witch Order was kind of a product of the time we were at. I did that with a friend of mine in a studio a block away from where I worked at the time and it was exactly where we should have done it. It was just part of our life at the time, so when Blacklands came,
the first instinct was to do it back where we did the first one, and we tried but it just wasn’t possible. The people weren’t available and other projects were going on so I think we stepped back and thought that maybe we should take that time to take a step, I shouldn’t say ‘up’, but in a way it was. We had more money available and I felt the songs were more cohesive. We were more like a band at that time so we thought we should see if we can take a step further with the sound. It was just a matter of who we should get and Billy’s name came up. The same as with Denis, I wrote him an email, explained the project and sent him some demos, and he got back the same day to say, “Yeah, I love it. Let’s do it.” I feel like the new record was almost Blacklands Part 2 in a way, even though people have told me it’s radically different, but some of the songs on the new record came out of the same writing period as Blacklands. I’ve always had demos on the go and I go back and look at some of the ones I didn’t use on Blacklands and some of those were the seeds that I used to plant ideas for songs on Under Siege. Our drummer Al, who played on the first two records, hadn’t played live with us since the first European
tour because he did not want to play live anymore, so we’ve had several different drummers. We wondered who we were going to get to play drums, and we thought “We’ve always worked with Al in the studio, let’s try to get Al.” We’d already talked with Billy about doing it, so it was one thing after another, trying to organize who was going to do this, who was going to do that, and for a second there it almost all fell through. We would have had to use a different producer, and we would have had to use a different drummer because everyone’s schedule was so precarious, but we finally nailed down a date, bought all the plane tickets and everything. But this was exactly what I wanted to happen, which was to get the Blacklands team together again – Denis, Billy, and that also includes the drummer. That’s who I felt was the core of that sound. It worked out for the best and who knows what we’ll do next but for now, I feel like we got the record we wanted and Billy was a big part of that. “Under Siege” is out now via Prosthetic Records
‘68 BORIS SUICIDE SILENCE AGAINST ME! FEED THE RHINO FIELD MOUSE EYEHATEGOD TRADE WIND HOTEL BOOKS WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM WHITE LUNG MASTODON ARCHITECTS TRAP THEM MAKTHAVERSKAN CORROSION OF CONFORMITY FUCKED UP ATMOSPHERE MILK TEETH NIKKI LANE AND MANY MORE... Suicide Silence 118
Featuring: Swans, Tweens, Trans Am, The Honey Trees, Shonen Knife, Vensaire, Emma Ruth Rundle, Castle, Ought, Tombs, Lee Bains III & The Glo...