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ISSUE166

OCTOBER20

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HECTOR GANNET SLUTMOUTH THE GEORGIAN THEATRE TUSK FRINGE DURHAM BOOK FESTIVAL

RELIABLYINFORMED


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PREVIEWS 4 | HIGHLIGHTS Some of our top picks for October

6 | PREVIEWS ISSUE166

OCTOBER20

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

New releases from The Violet Chimes, Yes Plant, Jay Moussa-Mann, LYRAS, Chloe Castro, Tom Joshua, The Agency…, The Dawdler, Sam Dickinson, Martha Hill and more, plus live gigs at The Cluny 2 and Independent. There’s arty goodness from Eston Arts Centre, Gallagher & Turner, BALTIC and BALTIC 39, Laing Art Gallery, Side Gallery and Hartlepool Art Gallery, plus online performance at Live Theatre, Alphabetti and more!

INTERVIEWS In-depth conversations with musicians, artists, filmmakers, comedians, theatre makers and creatives

22 | TUSK FRINGE 24 | DURHAM BOOK FESTIVAL

20 | HECTOR GANNET

Damian Robinson talks to Aaron Duff about the release of Hector Gannet’s debut album, which is rooted in the history, landscape and heritage of the North East

HELLO! And for those of you reading this in actual proper physical format (!!), thank you for picking up the October issue of NARC. I’m thrilled the magazine is back in print this month, and hope you’ve missed us as much as we’ve missed you holding us in your hands. In all seriousness – and with that little bit of creepy out of the way – I couldn’t be happier that we’re firing on all cylinders again, but I’m also really delighted that we’re continuing our digital edition too. It’s really important that those of you who aren’t yet ready to be out and about for whatever reason are still kept entertained and informed, and I want to make sure there’s loads of ways you can stay connected. So you’ll always know where to find us every month check out page 33 for a full list of our outlets (which will be updated every month) and view the handy map on our website, you can also view the digital edition at www.issuu.com/narc_media, and don’t forget to check out the website for loads more exclusive content. Talking of exclusive stuff, we’ve been beavering away behind the scenes to launch a brand new platform! Not content with bringing you mere written words, we’re branching out into video too, and we’re launching with some exciting stuff very soon! Subscribe to our YouTube channel (search for ‘NARC. magazine’ to find us) and be the first to see what we’ve been up to. Barring future national lockdowns, swarms of locusts or alien invasion (none of which would surprise me), look for us every month in print, in digital format, online and in glorious technicolour! Editor Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Website David Saunders narcmagazineonline@gmail.com Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com

Cover Image Blindface Contributors Chris J Allan / Sophie Bell / Jonathan Coll / Caitlin Disken / Laura Doyle / Lee Hammond / Jonathan Horner / Tracy Hyman / Eugenie Johnson / Beverley Knight / Ben Lowes-Smith / Tom McLean / Jay Moussa-Mann / Robert Nichols / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Helen Redfern / Damian Robinson / Elodie A Roy / Steve Spithray / Jamie Taylor / Martin Trollope / Robin Webb / Ali Welford

Stay social, connect with us NARC.magazine @narc_magazine @narcmagazine

25 | PROHIBITION CABARET BAR 27 | THE GEORGIAN THEATRE 28 | LAURIE SHEPHERD 29 | SUNDERLAND SHORTS: BEST OF THE FEST 30 | HELEN SCHELL 31 | PAVE THE JUNGLE 32 | SLUTMOUTH 33 | NARC. OUTLETS REVIEWS 34 | DEMOS Demo reviews of Komputaband, The Primitive Lounge, Peter Dyers, Rainbow Road and Michael And All Angels

35 | TRACKS Reviews of new releases from local artists including Suddenly We Stopped Dreaming, Men Behind The Sun, Simon Taylor, Hivemind, Firesites, Tobias Sarra, Coral Snake, MXYM, Cortney Dixon, Talk Like Tigers, Edenthorn and Butterjunk

36 | ALBUMS Reviews of new albums from Future Islands, Archie Brown & The Young Bucks, The Mountain Goats, Death Valley Girls, Oliver Coates, Kevin Morby, Laura Veirs, Jonsi, Emmy The Great, Mary Lattimore, Working Men’s Club and more

39 | MIXTAPE NARC. Magazine, Tel: 07748 907 914 Email: info@narcmedia.com Web: www.narcmagazine.com Published monthly by NARC. Media. Printed by Reach Printing Services, Middlesbrough. Distributed by CSGN All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without permission from the publishers. The opinions expressed in NARC. belong to the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of NARC. or its staff. NARC. welcomes ideas and contributions but can assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations

Dave Griffiths from promotions company Fast Forward talks about some of his favourite songs

Next Issue Out 28th October

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PREVIEWS OCTOBER’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE LIVE MUSIC, IMPROVISED COMEDY, ONLINE ART EXHIBITIONS, EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE AND MUCH MORE!

COMEDY

THURSDAY 8

LEE KYLE One of the region’s most successful comedy

clubs, Hilarity Bites are excited to be welcoming live comedy back to some of their favourite venues throughout the Autumn. Jarrow’s favourite comedian, storyteller and ad libber Lee Kyle brings his highly acclaimed Most Hated Man in Australia show to Darlington. The Forum Music Centre, Darlington www.hilaritybites.co.uk

MUSIC

COMEDY

THURSDAY 8

FILM

THE SUGGESTIBLES Newcastle’s premier comedy improv troupe

The Suggestibles are back on a live stage, complete with 80 minutes of socially distanced, completely spontaneous and highly ridiculous material, all based on audience suggestions. This is unscripted comedy at its wildest and best, guaranteed to have you laughing from start to finish. The Stand, Newcastle www.thestand.co.uk

FRIDAY 2 MOON WAX

Middlesbrough’s Base Camp continue to be a bastion of DIY culture in the town, with the aim of hosting weekly live music in their massive Warehouse space. They’ll be kicking off the month with a stripped-back set from Teesside duo Moon Wax, whose retro funk stylings are tempered by flamboyant riffs and cosmic synths. Base Camp, Middlesbrough www.soundcloud.com/ moonwaxmusic

COMEDY

SATURDAY 3

LITTLE BIG MOUTH Middlesbrough’s Big Mouth Comedy Club downsizes and moves location this month, but Little Big Mouth will still offer massive laughs aplenty. MC and razor-sharp wit Danny McLoughlin leads proceedings, with rip-roaring sets from Sam Avery, Phil Chapman and Sam Serrano. Base Camp, Middlesbrough www.bigmouthcomedy.co.uk

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ART & LIT

THURSDAY 8 BURNOUT Dedicated to promoting equality and under-represented groups, new online space Pink-Collar Gallery premiere a new exhibition from Rosie Stronach. The artist’s ongoing Burnout series reflects on the effects of poor mental stability resulting in mental or emotional burnout, bringing Rosie’s work together with creative voices. Runs until 18th December. Pink-Collar Gallery Online www.pink-collargallery.com

Image courtesy of Black Audio Film Collective and LUX, London

THURSDAY 8 HANDSWORTH SONGS

Side Cinema presents an online viewing of Black Audio Collective’s 1986 film essay on race and civil disorder in 1980s Britain. Handsworth Songs takes the civil disturbances in the Birmingham district of Handsworth in 1985 as its point of departure. A Q&A with Black Audio Collective will take place after the screening. Side Cinema Online www.amber-online.com

ART & LIT

SATURDAY 10

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT Wearside disability-led arts organisation Regeneration NE are encouraging people in Sunderland and South Tyneside to send them images of butterflies in advance of a virtual gallery of artwork, launched on World Mental Health Day. “In many ways butterflies are so fragile, but these tiny creatures can also be incredibly strong and resilient.” View the gallery and discover how to contribute via their Facebook page www.facebook.com/regenerationne


WHATS ON

OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

MUSIC

ART & LIT

MUSIC

THURSDAY 29

SATURDAY 17

THE JOY OF PAINTING PAUL EDIS TRIO American painter Bob Ross’ retro paint-along Unveiling his new album, Snakes And Ladders,

SUNDAY 11 ONE MILLION MOTORS Drawing comparisons to the likes of

the Descendents, The Menzingers and Dave Hause, visceral punk rockers One Million Motors will provide a suitably noisy soundtrack for a night of socially-distanced live sounds at Tyne Bank Brewery. They’ll be supported by local tour-de-force LoGOz, whose distinct alt. punk pop is infectious and upbeat. Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle www.tynebankbrewery.co.uk

MUSIC

FRIDAY 16

JOHN GARNER

Classical violinist John Garner takes part in a series of online performances for Newcastle institution The Lit & Phil. The versatile musician’s repertoire covers a range of styles; the composer and multi-instrumentalist is equally at home performing Bach as he is South Indian ragas. He’ll be adding new violin parts to his own thrilling tracks. The Lit & Phil Online (broadcast via YouTube) www.litandphil.org.uk

MUSIC

SATURDAY 17

JAMIE FARRELL

Storytellers welcomes some lovely low-key entertainment to see your Saturday night right. Topping the bill is well-loved local songwriter Jamie Farrell’s self-branded ‘acoustic awesomeness’, with support from another highly regarded Teessider, Andi Grainger, whose storytelling style is the perfect fit. With free entry too, it’s a no-brainer. The Storytellers, Stockton www.facebook.com/thestorytellersstockton

composer Paul Edis shows off his considerable musical talents with a live (and live-streamed) show at Gosforth’s wonderful Civic Theatre. The virtuoso pianist performs alongside double bassist Andy Champion and drummer Russ Morgan to present a set of lively jazz compositions. Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle www.gosforthcivictheatre.co.uk

STAGE

WEDNESDAY 21

DAMN SEAGULLS Stockton’s ARC welcome live performance back to their stage, with Teesside-born writer and performer Mike Edwards presenting his acclaimed show, Damn Seagulls. A comedy show which uses poetry, sketches and characters to reflect upon the death of his older brother Stephen, it’s a surprising and heartfelt production. Also on Thursday 22nd. ARC, Stockton www.arconline.co.uk

instruction videos have become something of a phenomenon (particularly during the boredom of lockdown), his wonderfully soothing tutorials will have you painting ‘happy little trees’ in no time. Add awardwinning beers and Asian-inspired nosh from Kogarashi and you’ve got a perfect Thursday night right there. Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle www.tynebankbrewery.co.uk

COMEDY

FRIDAY 30

Anna Thomas

CATCH 22 COMEDY CLUB Ten Feet Tall’s rib-tickling Catch 22

MUSIC

Comedy Club makes a welcome return to Stockton’s ARC. Selfprofessed working class millennial Brennan Reece brings his hilarious and uplifting show to proceedings, plus there’s comedy from circus performer turned comic Martin Mor and the delightfully grumpy Anna Thomas, while taking on MC duties is Danny McLoughlin. ARC, Stockton www.arconline.co.uk Tom Blackwell

FRIDAY 23 PINDROP 10TH ANNIVERSARY

North East promoters PinDrop celebrate a decade of promoting lo-fi and acoustic shows across the region, and welcome two typically diverse live acts to mark their anniversary. Visceral and prolific musician Tom Blackwell tops the bill with his folk-informed country, blues and gospel, supported by lo-fi experimentalists The Woven Project. NE Volume Music Bar, Stockton www.facebook.com/pindropevents

MUSIC

SATURDAY 31

AN EVENING WITH PAULINE MURRAY Having received considerable acclaim for her punk attitude and varied musical approach over her 40+ year career, County Durham’s Pauline Murray unveiled her third solo record in September which explores themes of nature, emotional ties and depression. An accompanying Q&A, hosted by fellow Penetration guitarist Paul Harvey, will delve deeper into the musician’s extraordinary career. The Georgian Theatre, Stockton www.georgiantheatre.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

LYRAS RELEASE NEW SINGLE, DON’T KEEP ME AWAKE

Words: Martin Trollope Play Don’t Keep Me Awake, the newest single from Newcastle-based band LYRAS, and you’ll instantly be transported to your favourite rooftop terrace at 1am on a clear summer night, sipping your favourite whisky with another one ready to go on the table. It’s an

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instant classic; effortlessly cool, with an organic warmth, Don’t Keep Me Awake winds its way into your consciousness, drawing you in with sumptuous vocals, towering harmonies and subtly sophisticated instrumental performances. Exploring themes of boredom, apathy and finding comfort for comfort’s sake, Don’t Keep Me Awake is a depiction of the female protagonist’s casual approach to what might end up being a one night stand, a stereotypically unfamiliar perspective that vocalist Ada Francis really enjoyed working with. The line-up of LYRAS is completed by Luke Gaul (guitarist), Grace Alexander

(keyboards), Gavin Christie (drums) and Luke Elgie (bass), working together to create their own uniquely perfect blend of soul, jazz and contemporary R&B. LYRAS will be continuing to write and release singles over the next year, while also honing their set, ready to return to live shows. Check this band out and let them keep you awake, because once you start listening to LYRAS you won’t ever want to stop. LYRAS release Don’t Keep Me Awake on 2nd October, they support Smoove & Turrell at Tyne Bank Brewery, Newcastle on Saturday 3rd October www.facebook.com/lyrasband


PREVIEWS

MUSIC

HOLIDAY IN TOKYO RELEASE NEW EP, LAS YUCAS IS OVERGROWN Words: Laura Doyle Local boys Holiday InTokyo have a very simple mantra, but it’s one that is pretty respectable: make music because you want to, and enjoy doing it. It’s this energy that they’ve funnelled

into the production of their debut EP, Las Yucas Is Overgrown. This is a bit of a hefty one, coming in at eight tracks total. But as far as firsts go, Las Yucas Is Overgrown serves as a delightful lo-fi indie experience which will please fans of the likes of Beabadoobee and Courtney Barnett. Making this recording slightly more impressive is the fact that, while Holiday In Tokyo thankfully had access to a studio at the beginning of the EP’s production, they had to round off working, as so many of us had to over lockdown, from home. It gives a rawness to the

record that works well to enhance their modernly rustic feel. Records that are recorded ‘as live’ usually end up being the most authentic feeling, but there’s something about the rough and ready element that make for a surprsingly intimate listen. Las Yucas Is Overgrown truly is a labour of love, and no one can doubt that they had the drive and dedication needed to see this record through to the end. Holiday In Tokyo release Las Yucas Is Overgrown on 23rd October www.holidayintokyo.bandcamp.com

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PREVIEWS

Chloe Castro by Louis Wilcock

MUSIC

CHLOE CASTRO RELEASES DEBUT EP, AMID

Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Rising singer Chloe Castro brings a fresh contemporary R&B sound, blending her unique voice with honest lyrics on her debut EP, AMID, released on 23rd October. The five-track EP is a retelling of stories from Chloe’s own life. She chose the name to represent the feeling of being surrounded by emotions. “That resonated with me in a sense...I feel completely boxed in by my feelings and emotions, stuck in the middle of them, in stasis. Like I can feel nothing else or see nothing else.” Featured is Chloe’s recent single, She, which garnered much praise, premiering in Wonderland Magazine, winning Track of the Week on BBC Introducing and being featured on American Songwriter Magazine’s US Podcast Bringing It Backwards. Used To Be is one of my personal favourites; with its catchy beat, strong melody and Chloe’s lush vocal tone. The track deals with aspiring to be a serious artist and the change of perspective that comes with it. It’s an upbeat, feel-good track, half R&B, half rap. “I feel like this EP is the real start of what I was made to do,” says Chloe. “It represents the beginning of me defining my sound.” Chloe Castro’s AMID is definitely one for anyone who enjoys the likes of Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys, full of soul and raw energy. Time to plug in, switch off and dig deep. Chloe Castro releases AMID on 23rd October www.chloecastro.co.uk

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ART & LIT

STAGE

ELEANOR BRENNAN @ BACON KNEES & ESTON ARTS CENTRE SAUSAGE FINGERS @ ALPHABETTI THEATRE ONLINE Words: Beverley Knight Gradually, museums and galleries have taken a shift that I have admired: where once we were instructed ‘do not touch’ and ‘no photographs’, we are now actively encouraged to get right amongst it and become thoroughly involved. An advocate of this is local artist and Manchester Fine Art graduate, Eleanor Brennan. Not requiring a lot of in-depth analysing or interrogation, she uses her textile creations to be an expression of herself and her memories. Eleanor is presenting her debut show, Fingers, Thumbs And The Spaces Inbetween at Eston Arts Centre in Middlesbrough to share her occurrences in lockdown. You’ll discover crochet work, including an honest rug showing a can of Stella in an algae pond. Brennan narrates: “Food and popular culture are two of my biggest starting points, with a lot of my inspiration coming from years working in hospitality, growing up in the North East and coming of age in the time of the internet meme culture. I hope the show will spark some interesting conversations about the North East, the food, the people and how we have all been affected by the state of the world at the moment.” With six pieces in total, they own a sense of fun, with no airs or graces, delivering a sincere snapshot of reality that is raw and vibrant. Fingers, Thumbs And The Spaces Inbetween is at Eston Arts Centre, Middlesbrough from Thursday 8th-Saturday 31st October www.facebook.com/estonartscentre

Words: Eugenie Johnson In 2015, writers and performers Gary Kitching and Steve Byron took on an Alphabetti Theatre 24 Hour Challenge, responding to stimuli provided by director Ali Pritchard revolving around a (potentially creatively embellished) fact about the closing of Newcastle’s High Level Bridge in 1849 to race dogs. The result was Bacon Knees & Sausage Fingers, which has since become a cult hit, selling out both a run in 2016 and a whole month of performances in 2019. The show is now back by popular demand, this time as an audio play, premiering at its spiritual (online) home of Alphabetti Theatre on Wednesday 21st October. Both harrowing and hilarious in equal measure, the play centres on Bacon Knees, whose running speed led him to a very specific calling one day in 1989: Crufts. Skip forward to 2016 and Bacon Knees finds himself on the High Level Bridge, about to face a new opponent. At its core, it’s a tale of two social outcasts, but uses the formation of their peculiar friendship to tackle their darker, tragic backstories. If you hadn’t been able to experience it in real life, this new platform for Bacon Knees & Sausage Fingers gives ample opportunity to experience its harsh yet heart-warming tale. The audio play of Bacon Knees & Sausage Fingers will be online at Alphabetti Theatre from Wednesday 21st October www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Cat Ryan by Kristoff Photography

MUSIC

LIVE GIGS @ INDEPENDENT, SUNDERLAND

Words: Claire Dupree Sunderland institutions don’t come much more lauded than bar and venue Independent. Having recently marked their 14th birthday, the venue reopened to drinkers in September in a safe and fun environment, and this month they’re getting back to what they do best: showcasing the cream of the city’s music scene.

“We’re very excited to be getting back to gigs at Independent. We’ve had some really incredible live streams during lockdown but nothing compares to the real thing.” Says the venue’s Lee Hawthorn. “Supporting young, up and coming bands and artists from the city and beyond is what we’re really passionate about, and is at the heart of what we do and have done as Sunderland’s only dedicated music venue for 14 years.” They’ve put together a real ‘who’s who’ of emerging regional musicians for their first gigs back; colourful funk popsters PICNIC kick off proceedings on Saturday 3rd October, with support from Hartlepool’s own catchy pop band Marketplace and fast rising songwriter Faye

Fantarrow; Saturday 17th sees melodic indie band Docksuns headline, with support from impeccable art rockers Cat Ryan and the lush tones of songwriter Elizabeth Liddle; on Friday 23rd, Sunderland-via-Manchester rapper Philth Like is supported by noisy electro duo SQUARMS and hip-hop artist John Dole; while rounding out the month is an indie rock triple threat from Great Waves, Deep.Sleep and The Samphires on Friday 30th October. Tickets will be available in advance via the venue’s website, with ticket packages including drink deals. www.independentsunderland.com

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PREVIEWS

Jay Moussa-Mann

ART & LIT

CENTURY @ HARTLEPOOL ART GALLERY

Words: Claire Dupree 41North East artist Narbi Price has continued to find inspiration from the strange world we’re currently living in; his recent online exhibition, entitled Lockdown, saw the painter depict benches enrobed in red and white hazard tape, inspired by photos taken by pals across the region while enjoying their daily exercise (the paintings will soon be turned into a book). He’s also found time to curate an exhibition at the newly reopened Hartlepool Art Gallery, which will celebrate 100 years of the town’s art, culture and history. Century runs at the gallery from Tuesday 29th September-Saturday 9th January and marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Sir William Gray House, which first housed the town’s art collection. Narbi, a Hartlepool native, has handpicked works which have a strong resonance with the town, alongside landmark pieces from the canon of modern art history and new contemporary works. “Hartlepool Art Gallery has shown some incredible and important work in its relatively short history, some of which is part of this landmark exhibition.” Narbi explains. “Mature resolved works by major figures of 20th Century art, such as Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach and John Bratby, rub shoulders here with lesser-known, but no less significant works by artists such as Deryck Stephen Crowther and Enrico Equi.” The artist himself is also featured in the exhibition, with a new work called Untitled Promenade Painting (Bombardment for Theo Jones) which commemorates the tragic sacrifice of Pte. Theophilus Jones, the first casualty of the

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First World War on UK soil. Century is at Hartlepool Art Gallery from Tuesday 29th September-Saturday 9th January www.hartlepoolartgallery.co.uk

MUSIC

JAY MOUSSA-MANN RELEASES NEW SINGLE, SUMMER’S HERE

Words: Laura Doyle These past few months have been rough for all of us, and dwelling on memories of bygone times as a last resort of escapism is completely understandable. That’s where Jay MoussaMann’s brain has gone, anyway. The singer-songwriter spent much of her formative years in the blistering heat of Turkey and Cyprus; she’s now resident on Teesside, which doesn’t quite offer the same in climate and there are limited opportunities to soak up some rays. Spending the summer cooped up at home with minimal opportunity for a holiday is not how anyone expected this season to go, and for Moussa-Mann especially, it sucked not to be able to make the most out of the warmer weather. On one of her government-mandated walks, Moussa-Mann was able to marvel at some actually decent weather, and fed the inspiration into her new single, Summer’s Here. The summer of this song is the personification of the season; carefree, crystal clear, and people-pleasing. Moussa-Mann’s deep connection with all things natural is evident as she appraises those idyllic blue skies and heady hazes, truly at her best when enjoying everything summer has to offer. It might be a bit of an odd release as we’re getting into sweater weather,

but Summer’s Here provides a delightful opportunity to bask in the memory of sweeter times. Jay Moussa-Mann releases Summer’s Here on 28th October www.soundcloud.com/jaymoussa

MUSIC

YES PLANT RELEASE DEBUT ALBUM, COMING BACK TO IT

Words: Laura Doyle Sometimes, making music isn’t the plain sailing you hoped it would be. A misstep or two pushed Sunderland-based duo Yes Plant back a smidge during the creation of their follow up to 2019’s concept EP Getting Away With It. But, despite some troubles, the experimental scythe-comedy project was able to pull themselves together to complete their debut album, Coming Back To It. Top marks for appropriately naming this record. Yes Plant specialise in approaching the most uncomfortable societal taboos with a fresh, comedic take. They’ve already dealt with love and murder, now it’s time to deal with such niceties as fixation, paranoia and potentially lethal carelessness. Coming Back To It doesn’t serve as a musical experience in the way you expect. Music is there, sure; there’s some chill, lo-fi pop beats that might be best suited to an interdimensional elevator, but Yes Plant extend their work into the realm of experimental art to make their point. Singing steps aside for spoken word at peculiar intervals, and sometimes a track will descend into pure anarchy to further the complex narrative. This is not easy listening, but boy is it fun. Yes Plant release Coming Back To It on 2nd October www.yesplant.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

MUSIC

MARTHA HILL RELEASES SUMMER UP NORTH EP

Words: Jonathan Horner Martha Hill refuses to pause for breath, and why should she? Her instincts, bordering on alchemy, produce anthemic single after anthemic single. Tipped by countless tippers, and on the receiving end of some serious praise from all corners

– nevermind getting A-listed on 6Music and playlisted on Radio 1 – she’s a regional artist we can all be seriously proud of right now. Her focus is firmly placed on the crest of the next hill and, with gold dust at her fingertips and the whole of the North East at her heels, she has grasped the flag, mounted a plinth and is waving it with passion and joy. Leaders don’t just command but inspire, and she does so without breaking stride. She invites us in, we fall in line and match her stride. Lead on Martha! After the lush density of her Be Still EP, she forges ever forward with Summer Up North,

released on 23rd October. Toast-rough reality is still there as cheese toasties are sabotaged with raw onions on the delightful earworm Grilled Cheese, GTA is played and she clings to nights by final cigarettes on recent single Landslide; She is emboldened in her style; less contemplative than on previous work, and totally uncompromising, we can’t wait to see what she does next. Martha Hill releases Summer Up North EP on 23rd October www.marthahillmusic.com

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PREVIEWS

Otobong Nkanga, From Where I Stand. Image credit Jason Hynes Photography

ART & LIT

MIMA REOPENS

Words: Claire Dupree The wait is over for contemporary art lovers on Teesside, as Middlesbrough’s Institute of Modern Art reopened in late September. The gallery have continued their connections with the regional art scene and wider community begun during lockdown, culminating in five new local artists’ work being acquired for the gallery. Paintings and drawings by Saud Baloch, Bobby Benjamin, Emma Bennett, Sarah Cooney and Gail Henderson will go online display in The Middlesbrough Collection, the area’s art historical depository. The artists have been praised for their thoughtful approaches to making art that speaks to the area’s social, political and art histories. Photography from local artist Jason Hynes will also go on display, his exhibition documents a range of the Tees Valley’s key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The new exhibition by Nigerian-born, Belgium-based artist Otobong Nkanga, which was due to open just as lockdown kicked in, will finally be available to view. From Where I Stand explores themes around our relationships to land and the extraction of the world’s natural resources. Elinor Morgan, Head of Programme at MIMA comments: “Her observations of how humans shape and ultimately damage the world through the exploitation of human labour and land are shared through ten bodies of work that reflect on global capitalism and the extraction of precious minerals from natural environments. Nkanga opens up and makes accessible complex discussions through an expansive and careful approach to making.” Obobong Nkanga’s exhibition runs at MIMA until Sunday 21st February www.mima.art

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MUSIC

THE DAWDLER RELEASES SIGN OF GROWTH EP

Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Having tasted success with previous releases and receiving wide airplay across all the channels that matter, alt. indie songwriter The Dawdler is back with a gorgeous new EP, Sign of Growth. Sign of Growth is the musical version of losing yourself in a forest on a misty day, leaves crunching underfoot and raindrops on your coat. Pulling you in with gentle guitar and dreamy vocals, the beautifully foreboding title track allows you to drift before suddenly breaking into cosmic synths that whip you out into some other plane. Crocodile is a stand out track, one that speaks to the rise of fascism and the anxiety inducing polarisation of the socio-political landscape. “I’ve never seen a human body explode into dust / I’ve never played chess with a crocodile”. For all its beauty, there is an overall sense of foreboding if you listen closely: something’s coming for you. “The options presented in the lyrics are to face the fears head on and fight, or to somehow retreat into the solar system – dancing with the moon and sleeping on Saturn’s rings.” Explains John Edgar, the man behind The Dawdler. The EP also features previously released singles Lava Lamps and Dark Clouds, and Edgar has also collaborated with cellist and vocalist Ceitidh Mac, who provides haunting vocals on We Take Space and Don’t Get Blue. Sign of Growth feels like a retreat, an escape to some other realm hidden just behind the walls of our reality.

The Dawdler releases Sign of Growth via Akira Records on 23rd October www.thedawdler.bandcamp.com

MUSIC

THE VIOLET CHIMES RELEASE NEW ALBUM

Words: Jonathan Coll North East musicians Violet Chimes, comprised of Jamie Harwood (vocals and guitar) and John Farrer (bass and vocals), are set to release their second studio album this month, Sign of the Chimes. The band’s previous record, All At Sea, garnered comparisons to The Smiths, albeit mainly for the atmospheric instrumentals and less as a direct comparison to Morrissey himself. I’d imagine that the band would also put some distance between Morrissey’s political views and their own, as new track Fell For It laments the heist that was the EU referendum. I would be tempted to say the lyrics were controversial, if they weren’t also undeniably true. Helpfully, the track’s music video has already made it onto YouTube, if the lyricism hadn’t already painted a clear enough picture. It’s one of the highlights on the forthcoming album which also includes the excellent Still Swoon, a nod to Swoon-era Prefab Spout. The similarities with the likes of Don’t Stop are obvious, which is a sizeable compliment for a band looking to carry a similarly infectious sound to some of the most beloved pop music of the 1980s. The Violet Chimes release Sign of the Chimes on 26th October www.thevioletchimes.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

Sam Dickinson

ART & LIT

CHRISTINA RAMBERG AND HUMA BHABHA NEW EXHIBITIONS @ BALTIC

Words: Helen Redfern Two new concurrent exhibitions in the BALTIC Autumn/Winter season will bring together exceptional artworks from US-based artists Christina Ramberg and Huma Bhabha, many of which have not been seen in the UK before. Against Time, Huma Bhabha’s first major survey exhibition in Europe, spans the last two decades of Bhabha’s work, showcasing an impressive cast of characters sculpted from cork, Styrofoam, clay and reclaimed materials like rubber tyres and animal bones. Alongside photographs, prints and expressive works on paper, these sculptures address themes of identity, migration and alternative futures; key concerns for our troubled times. Born in Karachi, Bhabha’s work is directly influenced by Pakistan’s desert landscapes and architecture. A fully illustrated accompanying publication includes an introduction by BALTIC Curator Emma Dean, and an essay by curator, writer and art historian Danielle Shang. Taking over BALTIC’s Level 3 gallery, The Making of Husbands is a ground-breaking exhibition that revisits the work of Christina Ramberg (1946-95). Emerging from a group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists, Ramberg left a remarkable body of small obsessive drawings, studies in sketchbooks and a number of formally elegant, erotically sinister paintings. The subtle and potent dialogue between Ramberg and the other artists in the exhibition speaks to current debates around gender and identity: power dynamics, hierarchies, gender construction, desire and fetishism. A substantial accompanying publication features a facsimile

reprint of Ramberg’s photographic slides, newly commissioned writing on Ramberg by art historians and theorists, and experimental fiction texts by Jen George and Dodie Bellamy. The Making of Husbands and Against Time are at BALTIC, Gateshead until Sunday 21st February www.baltic.art

but if you can’t wait that long, the first single, Defender, is already available to stream. The Agency… release In The Haunted Woods on 23rd October www.theagencyinthehauntedwoods.com

MUSIC

SAM DICKINSON NEW ALBUM, THE AGENCY… RELEASE RELEASES OFF SCRIPT NEW ALBUM, IN THE HAUNTED WOODS MUSIC

Words: Tom McLean When asked to describe their sound to the uninitiated, one might place moody, dystopian rockers The Agency... somewhere between The XX, The Doors and Nick Cave. It’s no surprise then, that the dulcet Newcastle collective’s third album, In The Haunted Woods, heightens such comparisons despite offering a more diverse timbre than preceding instalments For The Brave And Troubled… (2012) and Of Ghosts (2014). Pleasingly, the metamorphosing nature of album opener Numb is testament to this desire to experiment. Drawing on classic hooks and jarring, pacey twists, at times Numb almost feels like two songs combined, painting an undulating picture of joyful breaks in the cloud of one’s mind. While Numb remains the pick of the bunch, it’s a close run thing and indie rock single Defender thrives on a more consistent pace. Even so, the reflective sobriety that drives this collective’s success is a sentiment that echoes throughout the album. Soothing and sorrowful in equal measure, In The Haunted Woods is infused with a trademark sombre crooning that will delight long time followers of the group. For those whose interest is piqued, you can grab the album on all streaming services (and CD) come 23rd October

Words: Beverley Knight The clear-cut delivery of Newcastle’s Sam Dickinson means that you can follow every word he sings with precision. That is what you notice first about his new fourteen tracks collated together in album Off Script, where disco, pop, dance and soul are far from being flung together; they are seamlessly blended to give a smooth, full produced sound. The singer-songwriter expands: “I wanted to create an album which paid homage to the sound of my childhood, the blend of 90’s soul, pop and dance that I would listen to in my Mum’s car on the way to school. I wanted to write about self-empowerment, self-belief and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we could all do with a little bit more of that.” Each song tells an intimate story, substantial numbers like Cry Wolf are offset with heartfelt acoustic closer No One In The Room, where Sam talks about the death of his grandmother and not being open about his sexuality to her. There are favourites of Dickinson’s covered too: Missing, originally by Everything But The Girl and Mica Paris’ Carefree. Sam Dickinson releases Off Script on 9th October. He performs with a full band at Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle on Friday 16th October www.samdickinsononline.com

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PREVIEWS

Red Whale Flying by Emma Poppy

ART & LIT

ART STOPS @ VARIOUS LOCATIONS, DURHAM

Words: Eugenie Johnson “Do you want to advertise here?” You’ve probably seen that phrase on more than a few bus stops down the line. Most of the time, that space might get filled with product promotions,

but what if those prominently placed adverts could help feed your soul instead of empty your wallet? Art Stops is aiming to do exactly that. It’s the brainchild of local artist Peter McAdam who, having taken a three-bus journey towards the centre of Durham, decided to approach Durham Council to propose the idea of bringing art and poetry to travellers and commuters across the county. An eclectic group of artists and writers who remained creative during lockdown (including McAdam himself as well as Narbi

VISUAL IDENTITY DIGITAL DESIGN PRINT DESIGN CONSULTANCY

UNIFIED BY DESIGN. design.el-roboto.co.uk 14

Price, Martin Stephenson, Emma Poppy and Fiona Duncan, among many others) have been chosen to have their works displayed on bus shelter panels. Reflecting the diversity of creative practice in the area, a wide range of media will grace the spaces, from documentary, 3D and wildlife photography to collage, cartoons, found objects and some poetry to boot. It’s guaranteed to enliven these otherwise quite anonymous spaces, revitalising them with creative spirit. www.artstops.org


PREVIEWS

Tom Joshua by Jodie Canwell

MUSIC

TOM JOSHUA RELEASES NEW EP, UNDERGROWTH

Words: Beverley Knight Egglescliffe singer Tom Joshua strives to see the beauty in his local surroundings, especially when scores can overlook it. Finding inspiration from the mingling of industrial structures on the coastline, and the addition of monstrous scale hills, he fed this vision into the creation of debut EP Undergrowth, taking reality and layering it with his surreal adaptions. Cam Blackwood, who has worked with British Sea Power and favours traditional methods, produced the four tracks. They took into consideration Tom’s admiration of heavyweights including Simon and Garfunkel and Sigur Rós, and the dynamic lyricism of Nick Drake and Big Thief. The EP is bookended with tracks Cinema and This Still Life, on which effective piano and emotive chord progressions are the focus, creating two heartfelt pieces. His

voice exudes a characteristic tone as he shares his version of folk with a definite twist. Knock On A Hollow takes it up a notch, as it addresses a drummer living on top of a parade of shops, while inspiration for lead single Undergrowth came from an innocent walk with his dog. The EP is a rustic, unusual observation yet natural for the ears to savour. Tom Joshua releases Undergrowth EP on 9th October www.tomjoshua.com

MUSIC

XENNON RELEASES NEW ALBUM, DARK OF A DISTANT WORLD

Words: Laura Doyle Lots of artists use music to tell stories; songs can often be their own mini-narrative encapsulating moments of emotion, or momentous events. Few take it as far as artist and producer XENNON, however. His upcoming album, Dark Of A Distant World, goes all in on

its atmospheric concept. Taking a leaf out of Starset or Coheed & Cambria’s book, XENNON has built a world called Eternicron with an 80s synth pop soundtrack and some peril from which it will obviously need saving. Listening to Dark Of A Distant World instantly transports you to some alien land – the blend of traditional musical elements with futuristic distorted beats invokes every 8-bit sci-fi arcade game, and makes for a truly immersive experience. And for those of us who need a bit of visual stimulus, never fear: adding to XENNON’s world-building ways will be Travis Wright’s exceptional artistic representations of the mysterious, distant plains; his striking vision for Eternicron and its inhabitants will be included in a digital publication of the story, which accompanies any purchase of the album. Keep an eye out for a physical release in the near future too, because this multimedia project certainly deserves to be enjoyed in its physical manifestation. XENNON releases Dark Of A Distant World on 2nd October via Timeslave Recordings www.xennonsynthwave.com

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PREVIEWS

David Reynolds, Profoundly Massive Tiny Darlings (Digital video still) 2020

STAGE

LIVE WIRED @ LIVE THEATRE ONLINE

Words: Caitlin Disken Despite being unable to re-open at full capacity, Newcastle’s Live Theatre are determined to continue to offer the innovative theatre that they are so renowned for. Aiming to reach a wider and more diverse audience, Live Theatre are adapting to post-lockdown life by digitally screening their new programme, Live Wired. Beginning on Tuesday 29th September, the programme will commence with their 10 Minutes To… series, a compilation of nine ten-minute plays unified by the theme of calling home. Featuring both new and established writers, the nine plays were whittled down from over 300 entries after an open call-out during lockdown. “We have nine brilliant scripts from a huge range of writers,” says Graeme Thompson, Live Theatre’s Creative Producer. “Some of the writers are new to Live and some we know.” Many of the writers selected hail from the North East, including Rebecca Glendenning-Laycock, member of North East-based theatre company Bonnie & The Bonnettes, whose play Sheltered is set during an air raid over Northern England. For new writer Ellen McNally, her play Off Peak will be her first piece of writing performed onstage. Ellen has a particular affinity with Live Theatre: “This year’s theme resonates with me; I was part of Live’s Youth Theatre when I was younger so having my first script produced here feels really special.” Other plays include work by Benjamin Storey, Sarah Tarbit, Niall McCarthy, Olu Alakija, Mandi C, John Hickman and gobscure, representing a range of talent from across the country. “This project is really exciting,” says Graeme. “This time we are filming as opposed to performing live but there is always a buzz when we do this show and we are certain we can recreate that this time round.” The plays will be free to access and will remain

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on the venue’s website. Keep an eye out for further performances as part of the Live Wired season. The nine plays selected for 10 Minutes To... Call Home will be online at Live Theatre’s website from Tuesday 29th September www.live.org.uk

ART & LIT

ANOTHER TRIP AROUND THE SUN @ BALTIC 39

Words: Eugenie Johnson Where did we come from and where are we going? These are questions that have been asked by humans for generations but are also ones that seem particularly prescient to the current times. A new exhibition from Better Than Strangers, an international group of artists who were brought together through their time with the BxNU Institute, takes on these challenging philosophical queries and filters them through the lens of rising artists working in a variety of both analogue and digital media. Another Trip Around The Sun, showing at Newcastle’s BALTIC 39 from Friday 9th-Sunday 25th October, brings together works by Jade Blood, Odin Coleman, Henry Gonnet, James Hall, Mag Jittaksa, Edward Lawrenson, Miria Miria, David Reynolds and Holly Standen. On the one hand, their works envisage new worlds, rendering unknown planets in 3D graphics or showing intricate terraforms. Yet on the other hand, they are also firmly grounded on earth, centring on domestic items (such as an empty soup bowl) or playfully using objects and crafts to look to a potential future while still feeling connected to the contemporary moment. As Better Than Strangers’ first ‘real life’ exhibition, Another Trip Around The Sun is set to be a stellar insight into their collective principles: to challenge our perceptions with art that is innovative and thought-provoking. Another Trip Around The Sun is at BALTIC 39,

Newcastle from Friday 9th-Sunday 25th October www.baltic.art/baltic-39

MUSIC

LIVE GIGS @ THE CLUNY 2

Words: Claire Dupree Running a music venue has to be a pretty tricky job right now, and we’re delighted that so many venues across the region are returning to what they do best. The Ouseburn Valley’s Cluny have finally unveiled their plans for a return to live shows, and the line-up for October is typically exciting. Currently just utilising the Cluny 2 stage, the shows will be intense and intimate (in a socially-distanced manner, rather than an up-close-and-personal way, of course), with a diverse mix of genres covered. Given the venue’s limited space and the obvious audience restrictions, all shows will feature one live act performing three sets over the course of a day – afternoon, matinee and evening – allowing for the venue to be cleaned between shows. All the usual safety measures are in place, and tickets are only available in advance. Indie rockers A Festival, A Parade kick proceedings off on Friday 2nd, followed by one-woman electro maestro Me Lost Me on Saturday 3rd; things get noisy on Friday 9th thanks to riffers Kylver; there’s some rockabilly and gypsy jazz swing from Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra on Saturday 10th; emotive songwriting and lush sounds come courtesy of The Lake Poets on Saturday 17th, and there’s more amazing vocal performances from Cortney Dixon on Sunday 18th; post-punk sextet Witness Protection Programme perform on Friday 23rd; this months’ NARC. cover stars Hector Gannet play the venue on Saturday 24th, and rounding the month off are Phil Davids & The Good Times Band on Friday 30th October. www.thecluny.com


PREVIEWS

Head held high, Meliha Varesanovic defies Bosnian Serb sniper bullets and mortar fire in the Dobrinja neighbourhood of Sarajevo, June 1995 © Tom Stoddart

ART & LIT

TOM STODDART: EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN @ SIDE GALLERY

Words: Claire Dupree One of the undoubted skills of reportage photography is the ability to discovery the extraordinary in what may at first glance seem mundane. The best images convey emotion, placing the viewer at a moment in time that is beyond their ability to experience in the flesh. Newcastle’s Side Gallery, which reopens initially for three days a week from this month (Thursday-Saturday), consistently champions the very best of reportage and documentary photography, and for their first physical exhibition after lockdown they present the work of one of the region’s most celebrated photographers, Tom Stoddart. The Morpeth-born photojournalist has had an incredible career and has captured momentous fragments of history; from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the war in Lebanon (during which he accompanied celebrated Sunday Times foreign correspondent Marie Colvin), to portraying the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. His latest work is a collection, and accompanying book, entitled Extraordinary Women: Images of Courage, Endurance and Defiance, which

celebrates the strong will of women throughout the world during times of war, poverty and hardship. The Newcastle gallery will show a selection of 70 photographs across two floors. “When a crisis engulfs a community it’s the women who face the challenges head on.” Tom has said of the book. “Their love of family and ‘never surrender’ attitude drive them on to survive the miserable cruelty of conflicts, persecution, natural disasters and health emergencies.” Tom Stoddart: Extraordinary Women is at Side Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 26th September-Saturday 12th December. Entry is free, but online booking is required in advance www.amber-online.com

MUSIC

HARK! @ TRACKS ONLINE

Words: Jonathan Horner The sound of stories resonates through all of our lives. Narrative arcs and plot twists weave in and out of each other; dreams, relationships, adventures, tragedy, comedy – stories are life! Darlington collective Tracks understand this very well and with the support of Creative Darlington they’re bringing HARK!, a celebration of story, into your own home via Facebook live. They promise an online evening of music and

imagery inspired by haunting contemporary folk tales and poetry through the ages. Where better to host this fine evening than Darlington’s beautiful Crown Street Library where stories have lived since 1885! Although initial plans for 2020’s event were derailed by the pandemic, they have managed to overcome this and will go live on Sunday 11th October at 7.30pm. HARK! curator and host, local writer Francoise Harvey, says, “The inaugural HARK! was the highlight of last year for me, I’m thrilled to bring a special, online version to an even wider audience, this time with specially filmed imagery to accompany the music. I have a foot in each of the worlds of music and literature – so being able to bring the two together is very special.” HARK! Online features specially commissioned performances from urban folk band Stick In The Wheel, psych folk songwriter Jack Sharp (both of whom appear on the concept album Help The Witch, based on Tom Cox’s book of short stories by the same name) and multimedia artist Katherine Betteridge, plus readings from Tom Cox himself and disabled writer, activist and spoken word artist, Darlington’s own Lisette Auton. As if that wasn’t enough, there is a free online writing workshop by Francoise Harvey before the show at 2pm. HARK! featuring Stick In The Wheel, Jack Sharp, Katherine Betteridge, Tom Cox and Lisette Auton takes place via Tracks’ Facebook page on Sunday 11th October www.facebook.com/tracksdarlington

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PREVIEWS

Temporarily Without Maps, 2019, oil on canvas (c) Dale Atkinson

ART & LIT

DALE ATKINSON @ GALLAGHER & TURNER

Words: Beverley Knight Telling stories covering a myriad of concepts such as lost swimmers, passing comets, insomniacs laying traps for sleep, and saw-wielding manifestations of conscience, Sunderland-born artist Dale Atkinson has pushed the boundaries of narrative art over time in his understated, obscure way. In his new exhibition at Newcastle gallery Gallagher & Turner, distorted imagery invites the eyes to, at first, look intently at the picture, but then to follow the lines; just don’t expect his tales to be obvious or especially easy to unpick. There’s enough suggestion there to give guidance, but then you are entirely on your own to delve underneath the surface, which is the intrigue lays. Figures and heads feature prominently, but not exclusively, sometimes having a modern print feel, as does a colour pallet that favours blues and reds, but explores and shows a most distinctive hue, created with oils on canvas. This will be the third time that the Newcastle University graduate, now residing in Gateshead, has exhibited at gallery Gallagher & Turner, and Atkinson’s paintings and drawings are held in private collections throughout the world, and

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continue to question the observer’s perception of storytelling without words. Dale Atkinson’s work will be exhibited and on sale at Gallagher & Turner, Newcastle from Thursday 1st October-Saturday 21st November www.daleatkinson.co.uk

STAGE

WE STEP OUTSIDE AND START TO DANCE

Words: Claire Dupree We Step Outside And Start To Dance is an audio experience inspired by an outbreak of ‘dancing plague’ recorded in the 1500s; a woman began to dance in a street in Strasbourg and kept dancing for a month, eventually being joined by 400 people. The craze was put down to mass hysteria brought on by extreme stress and hardship, so if you haven’t started dancing yet, now’s the perfect time. The primarily spoken word piece, which will be available to download from Friday 23rd October, has been written by local playwright Alison Carr and features a cast of three actors playing multiple roles. “Participants will be invited to join in and create beats and rhythms to dance to along the way,” explains Alison, with local people encouraged to tell their own stories

about the power of music and dancing. “We’ve had some great stories and memories already, with people thinking back to school disco triumphs or ballet class embarrassments. These real life stories around music and dancing are really helping explore their power and how they make us feel – the good and the bad. We’re also making a playlist of people’s favourite songs to dance to and it is shaping up to be full of absolutely amazing songs!” While it’s not a piece about lockdown or the pandemic per se, Alison agrees it’s definitely a piece for now. “It’s about an extreme uncontrollable reaction to extreme uncontrollable conditions, which is something we can all relate to. I hope it helps to express or articulate some of the things we’re feeling currently – lacking control, being overwhelmed, something that was once familiar (in this case dancing) becoming something alien. It’s easy to feel alone in those feelings, but we aren’t. There’s hope in there too, it’s funny, and it’s fun.” This is one epidemic-inspired art form you’ll want to fully engage with; dance like no-one’s watching! Download We Step Outside And Start To Dance via Alison’s website from Friday 23rd October www.alisoncarr.co.uk/plays/starttodance


PREVIEWS

Whitby Abbey, 1920s, detail, design for LNER railway poster, Fred Taylor

ART & LIT

ART DECO BY THE SEA @ LAING ART GALLERY

Words: Jamie Taylor While the rest of the UK rediscovers the Great British seaside, here in the North East we’re already well aware of the charms of the coast. From epic beaches to polite promenades, we have some of the finest coastlines in the world. It seems somewhat fitting then that

Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery is to host the Sainsbury Collection’s latest touring exhibition, Art Deco By The Sea. Through posters, fashion, film and bumper cars, it explores how the modern idea of the British seaside resort was created through a combination of elegant design and aspirational art. Art Deco was the ubiquitous style of the 1920s and 30s. Filled with all of the energy and hope of the post-war generation, it was both comfortingly familiar while also being new and glamorous. This can be seen especially in many of the railway posters that feature in the show, such as Tom Purvis’s marvellous sextych, East

Coast Joys. It also shines through the collection of elegant eveningwear and designs for many of the era’s streamlined architectural coastal marvels. Art Deco fundamentally changed the idea of the seaside and this exhibition promises to do likewise for our understanding of this brief period of history. Pack your best swimming costume and get ready to dive in. Art Deco By The Sea is at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 17th OctoberSaturday 27th February 2021 www.laingartgallery.org.uk

Rosie Kay Dance Company

Saturday 28 November 7.30pm Socially distanced seating only Tickets: £21, £17 concessions, £8 U18s/Students

dancecity.co.uk / 0191 261 0505

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INTERVIEWS MUSIC

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COVER FEATURE

LIKE A LOT OF ARTISTS I WRITE ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND PLACES I SEE AROUND ME FROM DAY TO DAY AND I’M INSPIRED BY THE LOCAL AREA

HECTOR GANNET DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO AARON DUFF ABOUT THE RELEASE OF HECTOR GANNET’S DEBUT ALBUM, WHICH IS ROOTED IN THE HISTORY, LANDSCAPE AND HERITAGE OF THE NORTH EAST IMAGE BY BLINDFACE Sometimes the best albums are the ones which capture not just the spirit of the time, but also its very sound. Drowned in a folk sensibility, the debut album by North Shields’ Hector Gannet, Big Harcar, finds itself rooted in the sound of the North East. Sparse, melancholic in places and filled with swooping choruses, Big Harcar captures not only themes of the North East, via industrial culture, climate change, activism, feminism and North Shields’ fishing communities, but also its sounds and spirit. Perhaps a distant relative of Sting’s 2014 folk/Northern roots album The Last Ship, though updated with a more contemporary indie rock sound, Big Harcar builds a bridge between the North’s folk traditions and its industrial past; setting itself in the sounds and spirit of the River Tyne and moving the listener through the region’s history. Deeply historical, poetic and layered in modernised folk structures, Big Harcar is a masterful album in both composition and theme; recent single All Hail, All Glory investigates the very nature of patriotism while Dead Nag highlights the struggle of the working class to keep their heads above water. Rooted in North Eastern values, particularly the desire to play things down, the band themselves are keen to minimise talk of the grand gestures surrounding the album. “I’m not sure the album is a concept album,” confirms chief songwriter Aaron Duff, “like a lot of artists I write about the people and places I see around me from day to day and I’m inspired by the local area, people and places. Gradually these ideas come together into songs, and the songs go on to make albums, but I didn’t set out to write a concept album specifically about North Shields and the Tyne.” Though perhaps not the concept which it appears to be, Duff does admit that there is a consistent theme to the album. “I started most of the work as a solo thing and it was partly inspired by my family background which is rooted in elements of fishermen and trawler men in North Shields, so I suppose that’s the main theme. We also talk about local lighthouse keeper Grace Darling [on epic closing track The Haven of St Aidan’s] and the natural beauty of Northumberland, so the album is certainly grounded with local reference points and historical events.” A relatively slow process in its creation, the principle gestation for Big Harcar was the time it took Duff to collect the right pieces together; some songs formed part of his solo material, while others

are clearly a full band endeavour. “Some of the tracks on the album are quite old, I took the main elements of the songs and started to work them through with a band of brilliant musicians who added their own textures and built out the album. The album is a body of work that spans about two years.” However long it took to create, record and then produce (“Paul Gregory of Lanterns on the Lake did a great job of capturing the sound we wanted, and you can’t underplay his role” Duff enthuses), it seems that Big Harcar was worth the wait; the album has already picked up prominent plaudits, not just from the North East but also from outside the region (Louder Than War touted Hector Gannet as one of the ’Top 25 bands that might change your life in 2020’). It seems like the sound of North Shields is not only pretty, but also travels well; somewhat of a shame when considering the band were due to tour the album as part of a support slot on (what should have been) the next Sam Fender tour. Recently announced gigs at Tyne Bank Brewery and The Cluny mean that local shows are possible, though with both selling out almost immediately it’s unclear what will come next to support the album’s launch. Duff seems grateful to the North East’s scene and tenacious local promoters, not just for giving them a vehicle to promote their album, but also for their role in keeping live music alive. “It’s upsetting in a way to put the album out in the middle of the pandemic, meaning we might be restricted in how we tour it, but it’s great to see venues come up with ingenious ways of trying to make live music work. We all need to help each other at times like this.” As he should, Aaron Duff remains optimistic about the future, though cautiously so. “The response so far to the album has been great, but you don’t know where we are going to be with Covid so we just need to carry on being as optimistic as we can, and fingers crossed it’ll all be okay.” If nothing else, the future of North Shields’ sound is certainly in good hands and, listening to Big Harcar, there’s no other place you could be. Hector Gannet release Big Harcar via Guga Records on 30th October. They play The Cluny on Saturday 24th October and Tyne Bank Brewery on Friday 13th November www.hectorgannet.com

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

TUSK FRINGE CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO THE TOPH CREW ABOUT PLANS FOR THIS YEAR’S TUSK FRINGE FESTIVAL Long (long!) after the pubs have shut, when the world outside is dark and still, there’s something rumbling in the deepest recesses of the internet; groups of musicians, artists and noisemakers are gathering, intent on showing off their strange colours and weird sounds to an audience of nightowls and seekers of underground, off-kilter culture. As we reported last month, the increasingly ground-breaking experimental festival TUSK kicks off a two-week exploration of sounds from late September. Its stranger sibling, TUSK Fringe, will also emerge across two weekends (Saturday 3rd-Sunday 4th and Saturday 10th-Sunday 11th October), bringing an even more diverse line-up of weird and wonderful sounds and discussions after the main festival has ended. Curated once again by The Old Police House, the Fringe is the place to come when you just can’t get that sexually frank gabba and electronic scree itch scratched anywhere else. TOPH’s activities are

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masterminded by experimental turntablist Mariam Rezaei, performer and composer Adam Denton (aka SW1N-HUNTER) and Mark Wardlaw (Kenosist) – who, rather aptly, collectively speak to me about their plans for this year’s virtual fringe festival. “The main TUSK festival is of course a wonderful thing, but by its nature it requires a certain degree of predictability. TUSK Fringe is the chaotic underbelly, with set-times kept loose and documentation often scarce. We provide a bridge between the edifying official culture and the dark recesses of the underground.” One of the undoubted highlights of TUSK Fringe is in the unpredictable nature of the performances you’re likely to see. But when musicians rely on improvisation and volatility as their calling cards, the relative one-way street of virtual viewing can be a challenge. “With an online format there's always less room for the unexpected, although we still try of course.” They reassure. “Initially the challenge was to capture the TUSK Fringe vibe in digital form,


INTERVIEW

T-B, L-R: Tina Krekels x Adam Campbell, Rosa Methol, Josie Sparrow, Abiboss, DRVG CVLTVRE, Marie Thompson

TUSK FRINGE IS THE CHAOTIC UNDERBELLY. WE PROVIDE A BRIDGE BETWEEN THE EDIFYING OFFICIAL CULTURE AND THE DARK RECESSES OF THE UNDERGROUND but ultimately it's gonna be more interesting to lean into the situation and make something new rather than an imitation of the ‘real thing’.” However, as with the main festival, online participation also has its plus points. “Geography has stopped being an issue when booking artists, so we've been able to get artists from the US, mainland Europe, Japan and Russia that it would never have been feasible to bring over in person.” As for the line-up, it’s as eclectic as we’ve come to expect from the TOPH crew and they cite a handful of highlights: “Ghösh are one of the best pop groups in the world right now, with a sort of hyper-accelerated Atari Teenage Riot-meets-grime thing. Drvg Cvltvre is a master of rough 'n' weird house/techno. We also have inevitably-incisive lectures from Marie Thompson and Josie Sparrow. Electronic producer and DJ Shelley Parker will be performing an exclusive live set for us and we will be hosting an online exhibition of YOL, our TUSK Fringe Artist in Residence this year. We had some amazing performances in our TOPH Housebound TV series from several artists including Stable and FK Alexander, Adam Campbell and Tina Krekels, Firas Khnaisser and WANDAGROUP and we’re looking forward to sharing more new

work from them too. The weirdest thing we’ve programmed this year is our first ever robot, 2DRUNK2CODE, and we have absolutely no idea what that’s gonna sound like!” Add to all this a lecture programme which features discussions on improvisation from Yeah You’s Gwilly Edmondez and Scottish journalist and academic Stewart Smith, who also chats with Discus Records’ Martin Archer; underground legends David Howcroft and Andy Wood talk to Mariam about TQ N-aut and there’s an incisive lecture about the importance of Newcastle’s Morden Tower. “It played a vital role in multiple generations of North East weirdo music, and it's a story that hasn't really been told. We'll of course have Alex Niven talking about the fabled Basil Bunting days, but we've also got a panel discussion with some seriously undersung local legends setting the record straight.” Stay up late enough, and you never know what you might stumble upon… TUSK Fringe takes place online on Saturday 3rd-Sunday 4th and Saturday 10th-Sunday 11th October. The main TUSK Virtual Festival continues until Sunday 11th October www.tuskfestival.com/artists/tusk-fringe

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INTERVIEW

T-B, L-R: Ian Rankin by Hamish Brown, Fatima Bhutto by Paul Wetherell, Ann Cleeves by David Hirst, Brit Bennett by Emma Trim, Lisette Auton by Rob Irish, Laura Bates by Siggi Holm

DURHAM BOOK FESTIVAL ONLINE

ART & LIT

JAMIE TAYLOR DIVES INTO THE STACKED LINE-UP FOR THIS YEAR’S LITERARY FESTIVAL

If body bags and books are your thing, you’re going to love this year’s Durham Book Festival. Packed to the virtual rafters with top crime writing talent, this year’s online only event, taking place from Friday 9th-Sunday 18th October, promises to be one of the grisliest yet. For fans of murder and intrigue a real highlight will be an afternoon with superstar crime writer Ann Cleeves, who has written a new story exclusively for the festival called Written In Blood (Saturday 17th). There’s more thrills and spills thanks to Ian Rankin, who will be chatting with fellow writer AA Dhand about his latest novel A Song For Dark Times (Monday 12th); and Pointless host Richard Osman will be talking about his debut crime novel, The Thursday Murder Club (Saturday 10th). For those less interested in fictional dead bodies, there’s still plenty on offer. Hot on the heels of her sell out events at previous festivals, Laura Bates returns to talk about her latest book Men Who Hate Women (Friday 16th). Founder of the fantastic Everyday Sexism project and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, this is a must see for everyone interested in gender equality. The festival boasts a rich array of stories from the region that offer a different perspective on its people and places. Part of New Writing North’s New Narratives For The North East – a series of 15 essays, short stories and poems by some fine writers including David Almond, Mim Skinner and Andrew Hankinson that explore often unknown or overlooked aspects of living in the region – awardwinning disabled activist, writer and performer Lisette Auton provokes debate with her film Writing The Missing – A River Cycle

THE FESTIVAL BOASTS A RICH ARRAY OF STORIES FROM THE REGION THAT OFFER A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON ITS PEOPLE AND PLACES 24

(Saturday 10th). Some events look to further horizons and take in diverse experiences; Brit Bennett talks about her new novel, The Vanishing Half, which explores family histories in the Deep South; Afghanborn writer Fatima Bhutto discusses her exclusive essay, A World On Fire, which explores the violence of the world we’re living in today and the kindness she believes is essential to our survival (both Sunday 11th); and Layla F. Saad talks about her groundbreaking book Me And White Supremacy, which encourages readers to understand white privilege (Wednesday 14th). New Ideas For The New Normal is a series of newly commissioned video essays from leading researchers at Durham University, designed to make viewers think about how we might live in post-pandemic world. Subjects tackled include travel after Covid, the role of heavy metal music and viroid life, attitudes towards language, grief, religion and climate change. As always, poetry takes a prominent role in this year’s festivities. The Poetry Book Society Showcase will feature some much-anticipated work from Nina Powels, Bhanu Kapil and Rachel Long; and poet Linda France unveils her collective poem Murmuration, which explores people’s reaction to the natural world in the time of Covid-19 (both Tuesday 13th). There will also be a screening of the BBC Arena documentary about Tony Harrison with new responses from fellow working class writers Degna Stone, Shaun Wilson and Inua Ellams (Sunday 18th). In addition, there’ll be studio tours from graphic novelists Mary and Brian Talbot, a life-writing workshop, the announcement of the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize, the chance to pit your wits against the QI Elves and much, much more. Durham Book Festival takes place online from Friday 9th-Sunday 18th October www.durhambookfestival.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

PROHIBITION CABARET BAR

TRACY HYMAN TALKS TO MITCH MITCHELL ABOUT THE RETURN OF LIVE PERFORMANCE TO PROHIBITION CABARET BAR’S STAGE Prepare to be transported back to the delights of prohibition-era America and the heart of the Jazz Age, where cocktails, cabaret and good times are to be had. Relax and be entertained in the unique setting of The Prohibition Bar, the brainchild of owner Mitch Mitchell, which started life under a railway arch in Gateshead five years ago, before hopping across the Tyne to its current Pink Lane site in the former Jazz Club premises. Mitch tells me about his inspiration for the venue which came from his love for all things 1920s and 1930s. “Seeing my Grandad forever in a full three-piece suit, Brylcreemed hair, fob watch, the works – I was hooked! In fact, I have a photograph of my Grandad taken all suited and booted on his 21st birthday back in 1931 on the wall in the bar to forever inspire me.” Recently the venue has welcomed back live performance to its diminutive stage, and October sees an eclectic programme of low key small scale performances showcasing some of the UK’s finest artists. Highlights include improvised comedy from duo PeaSoup on Saturday 3rd; an acoustic set from local folk punk heroes Driven Serious on Saturday 10th; a burlesque revue on Friday 16th; live jazz from The Papermoon Trio (Saturday 24th) and Neil Williams and Ben Holland (Friday 30th); while Saturday 31st sees the venue celebrate their fifth birthday with a Halloween special featuring Strictly Smokin’ Big Band’s Alice Grace and Lloyd Wright, with

HAVING LIVE MUSIC BACK HAS BEEN VERY WELL RECEIVED INDEED AND FEELS A LOT MORE LIKE WHAT WE DO BEST. WE ENTERTAIN!

much more in the works. “Without the live music Prohibition just wasn’t working as just a bar. That’s never what we did.” Mitch explains. “The town is full of bars; Prohibition is a cabaret bar. We’re well known for our jumping jazz gigs, plentiful party nights, raucous receptions...Without our edge we really have struggled. Having live music back, albeit as just a solo, duo or trio at most (for social distancing safety) has been very well received indeed and feels a LOT more like what we do best. We entertain!” It is of course necessary for the venue to be operating at a reduced capacity, which for such a bijoux space has its challenges. “To have my capacity dropped from 66 to 28 upstairs and from 50 to 19 downstairs I am struggling to make ends meet somewhat, but the business is open and I have customers and those who are visiting have said they’ve felt safe and have enjoyed their evening and had forgotten all about what’s going on outside as they’ve been so relaxed – THAT is a huge relief to me! I did everything I could to make sure I’ve adhered to all the rules but not taken too much away from the aesthetic and overall feel of the bar.” Mitch is clearly thrilled to be open and able to offer live performance in a safe and supportive way for all involved. “Everyone, including the acts, have really enjoyed being back. Everyone is super supportive of the acts and are clearly appreciative of their dedication to getting back on stage and performing in such unusual circumstances. We’re usually left with no seats remaining by the midway point of a performance or set so the attraction to see some live entertainment is definitely still out there and I’m more than happy to provide!” www.prohibitionbar.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R,T-B: Nel Unlit, Jodie Nicholson, Ceiling Demons

THE GEORGIAN THEATRE REOPENS

STOCKTON’S HISTORIC GEORGIAN THEATRE REOPENS FOR LIVE SHOWS THIS MONTH. TEES MUSIC ALLIANCE’S PAUL BURNS AND CHRIS COBAIN TELL CLAIRE DUPREE ABOUT THE GRAND PLANS ON THEIR HORIZON Unless you’ve got a crystal ball stashed away or happen to have precognitive powers akin to Nostradamus (and if you do, a little heads up would’ve been good), you’ll be as in the dark as pretty much everyone else about what’s coming our way over the next six months. Some things though, are a given; we’ll still be craving the ‘old ways’ when it comes to performance and live shows. How can we circumvent, or at least come to terms with, these obstacles to our passions? Tees Music Alliance have come up with (at least part of) the answer: diversification and adaptation are key. Along with their venue, Stockton’s Georgian Theatre, reopening their hallowed doors to live performance this month, they have exclusively revealed details of a brand new way music fans can connect with what they love most, and they’ve taken their cues from the leftfield… “At the start of lockdown, TMA realised that when live music did eventually return, it would be under tightly controlled audience numbers. This would significantly affect the viability of a lot of gigs – especially our own and those of other Tees-based promoters that we regularly work with. We needed to find a way to generate income over and above the limited tickets that we’d all be able to sell.” Explains TMA’s chief exec Paul Burns. “The way forward seemed to lay in the sporting world, where pay per view events are commonplace – but distinctly not so within live music.” Cue a partnership with Digital City at Teesside University, who conducted

THE LAST FEW MONTHS HAVE BEEN HARD ON PEOPLE PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY AND FINANCIALLY BUT HOPEFULLY THE GEORGIAN THEATRE CAN BECOME AN ESCAPE FROM THAT FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME

extensive research and development to produce an easy to operate yet high quality streaming service which would enable the Tees Promoter Group – a group of like-minded promoters who have been working together for several years – the ability to host sociallydistanced live shows, and provide a safe and secure livestream for those watching at home. “We know that there’s nothing to replace the thrill of live music up close and in your face. But until we can return to those days, streaming is a genuine solution. This won’t be a smart phone streaming wobbly video through social media though – it’s a top notch audio/visual offer designed to bring the spirit of live gigs to online devices.” It’s hoped the pay-per-view service will be ready before Christmas, but until then The Georgian Theatre will throw open their doors for some real-life shows. “It feels like forever since we last had a gig at The Georgian Theatre and a room full of happy faces, but finally we have gigs back!” Says programming and operations manager Chris Cobain. Returning to the venue this month will be live comedy courtesy of Shoe Cake Comedy Club (Friday 9th); promoters Get Hip! welcome Leeds’ pop garage punks Nervous Twitch and local psych band Thee Strawberry Mynde (Saturday 10th); North Yorkshire’s finest alt. hip-hop band Ceiling Demons will perform alongside indie pop punks Salsola (Friday 16th); Hurworth songwriter Jodie Nicholson performs on Friday 30th and Penetration frontwoman Pauline Murray brings her solo show to the stage on Saturday 31st; and an evening with harmonious ensemble Nel Unlit will be one to look forward to on Saturday 7th November. “Even with the current restrictions we can try to put those smiles back on people’s faces. The last few months have been hard on people physically, mentally and financially but hopefully The Georgian Theatre can become an escape from that for a short period of time.” www.georgiantheatre.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

LAURIE SHEPHERD

MUSIC

ALI WELFORD TALKS TO THE NORTH EAST MUSICIAN ABOUT WRITING SONGS OF HOPE IN TROUBLED TIMES

“I didn’t come to songwriting until quite late, even though I’ve studied and done music related stuff all my life,” says Newcastle’s Laurie Shepherd. It’s an admission that’ll befuddle anybody who’s witnessed the musician-turned-singer-songwriter perform; and is particularly startling in advance of a debut album that’s among the most accomplished and fully-formed you’ll hear anywhere in 2020. It seems apt the record’s inspiration – as well as her wholehearted embrace of songwriting – is simple to pinpoint. “I did a year-long course with the London Song Company and totally fell in love with writing,” Laurie reveals. “On it, we were given the exercise of writing a song about the floods at the time, and I chose to focus on climate change and the reasons why they were happening. It was a subject I’d wanted to cover before, but I’d felt quite intimidated by how big and depressing it was. The song I wrote, Home, was about the overview effect – the feeling astronauts have when they look down upon Earth from space for the first time, and how it gives them a deeper perspective. It’s quite bittersweet.” Years later, Home stands among the highlights of Moon Moves The Sea, a lush and moving debut with environmentalism and activism at its very core. “I always try to write with hope. I want to avoid writing a sad, negative song,” she explains. “I’m really inspired by nature; I spend a lot of time walking along the coast, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods with my one-year-old during lockdown. Wild Land, for example, was inspired by my time in London. I’m not a city person at all, and I felt really suffocated by the culture of the city, wanting to run away and escape. Sparks too was inspired by my activism with Extinction Rebellion. When you’re involved with a movement that’s trying to influence positive change you can feel alone or helpless in your efforts. What gives you energy is taking a

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I ALWAYS TRY TO WRITE WITH HOPE. I WANT TO AVOID WRITING A SAD, NEGATIVE SONG look at the bigger picture and feeling like you’re part of something much more significant.” While many of its arrangements hone in on the grace and splendour of the natural word, Moon Moves The Sea proves no less adept in documenting further issues facing society. Led by a rhythmic percussive stomp, Footsteps seeks to follow the trail blazed by the suffragette movement, while Miles And Miles takes a practical approach to capturing the drain and disconnect of modern existence. “That was a really fun recording session. [Producer] Liam Gaughan and I took a field recorder into an office and recorded staplers, photocopiers, rolls of paper being scrunched up and things like that. We almost created a drum kit, making the percussion purely from office sounds.” In a year like 2020, it seems more pertinent than ever that the record should conclude with a song called Time To Learn From History – but how does she rate humanity’s chances of heeding its message? “That’s a tricky one! I think it depends what I’ve read in the news on any given day,” she concedes. “My hope is that years of activism will make a difference – that in the future we’ll look back at those people lying in roads and talk about how great they were, and how they inspired a shift to a more sustainable future and green economy. I have some faith!” Laurie Shepherd releases Moon Moves the Sea on 25th October www.laurieshepherd.co.uk


INTERVIEW

FILM

T-B. L-R: Theatreland, Peak, Alice

SUNDERLAND SHORTS: BEST OF THE FEST CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO CHRIS J ALLAN ABOUT SUNDERLAND SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL’S MOVE ONLINE Back in February, the sixth annual Sunderland Shorts Film Festival opened up for submissions from filmmakers far and wide, with the hope that 2020 would be their biggest and best event yet. 2020, however, had other ideas. Rather than push the October festival back a whole year and lose the momentum the successful event had built, organisers decided to celebrate the Best of the Fest instead, and have chosen extraordinary films screened from previous years to be shown for free via their Facebook page from Wednesday 7th-Saturday 10th October. Even in its digital form the festival remains committed to showcasing diverse work from local, national and international talent. Screenings will cover two main themes – young, emerging and student filmmakers and the ‘best of the fest’ made up of entries across the last five years. “We’ve got a bit of everything on offer from comedy and drama to documentary and thrillers.” Says festival coordinator Chris J Allan. “As well as the films, this year we’ve also got an industry panel discussion on writing for film and if people aren’t totally quizzed out after lockdown we have our own film quiz too!” The ‘greatest hits’ of the festival promises some real cinematic gems, as Chris explains. “Every year we give out various awards as well as taking feedback from our audiences about all the films we show, so we’ve delved into the archives and found some favourites from across the board. Many of the films included have won awards with us previously as well as going on to find acclaim at other festivals

THERE IS SUCH A VIBRANT WEALTH OF TALENT HERE, BOTH BEHIND AND IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY SOMETHING WORTH CHAMPIONING

across the globe. So it’s a real pleasure to have them as part of this year’s event.” Chris is equally as excited by the festival’s ability to shine a light on local filmmakers. “There is such a vibrant wealth of talent here, both behind and in front of the camera, and it’s absolutely something worth championing. Some of our favourite North East creatives have work represented here; to name a few we’ve got Rob Kilburn of Tyne & Weird with his documentary Broken Window about graffiti culture; Benjamin Bee, who has been named a Screen International Star of Tomorrow, we’re showing his film Mordechai from a few years back; plus we have Lucy Rose and her film Peak, she has been something of a rising star over the last few years and produced some really exciting work, her next short is already shaping up to be something really special.” While the film industry has suffered at the hands of the pandemic, Chris is generally positive about the industry’s ability to adapt. “Film is an art form which is constantly adapting to the world around it while having the potential to reflect it too, and now with the tools at everyone’s disposal there is more content than ever, but that isn’t a bad thing.” When it comes to the stars of next year’s festival, he’s quietly confident that lockdown may have been a blessing in disguise. “The amount of creativity that has poured out over lockdown has genuinely been impressive – from music videos of isolation raps in people’s front rooms to full horror films set on Zoom – it’s been a real opportunity for absolute first timers and industry professionals alike to challenge themselves in new ways. Undoubtedly next year’s festival will feature a fair amount of lockdown content in the schedule, but the potential for what that could be is very, very hopeful.” Sunderland Shorts Best of the Fest takes place from Wednesday 7th-Saturday 10th October via their Facebook page www.facebook.com/sunderlandshorts

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INTERVIEW

ART & LIT

Black Rocket Engine, 160cm x 180cm, 2020 by Helen Schell

HELEN SCHELL

JAMIE TAYLOR TALKS TO THE SUNDERLAND-BASED ARTIST ABOUT HOW ART AND SCIENCE COLLIDE IN HER NEW EXHIBITION Who hasn’t gazed out into space and wondered what it would be like to walk amongst the stars? Sunderland-based artist Helen Schell has probably thought about it more than most. Her latest exhibition at Newcastle’s Vane Gallery, Human Spaceship: Off Balance, explores the bewildering effect zero gravity has on our senses and perceptions. Off Balance promises to be a bewildering experience. Filled with optical illusions and bright, geometric wonders, Helen hopes to give the viewer a sense of the confusing nature of space flight. “My work isn’t really illustrative, it’s more a feeling.” Helen explains. “Art is about reaching beyond an ordinary existence while space travel poses us an endless series of questions. I love that art and science have this type of mystery about them.” Helen is an artist who takes her science very seriously; she has spent more than a decade working on art/science collaborations with leading scientists, met space shuttle astronauts and created artworks for several leading universities. “I’m really interested in the humanity of space flight and what it is actually like to be a human travelling in space.” Her interest in this area took her to the Johnson Space Centre where she saw future astronauts training underwater in conditions similar to those they might experience in space.

ART IS ABOUT REACHING BEYOND AN ORDINARY EXISTENCE WHILE SPACE TRAVEL POSES US AN ENDLESS SERIES OF QUESTIONS. I LOVE THAT ART AND SCIENCE HAVE THIS TYPE OF MYSTERY ABOUT THEM 30

This attention to the real science of space flight has allowed Helen to be inspired by insights you just wouldn’t think of otherwise. For example, she tells me that in zero gravity your eyesight actually changes. “Your spinal fluid rises through your body and puts pressure on your optical nerve. This means that many astronauts become long-sighted in space.” Yuck. She continues: “I really love science fiction, but to me science fact is more interesting.” It’s these oddities that we don’t think of that has Helen convinced about art’s central role in space exploration. “When people talk about living on the dark side of the moon, they don’t realise that it is completely colourless,” she tells me. “You can’t judge distances correctly because of the different way the horizon works up there. Art can help with that, adding colour so that you can identify equipment and places.” Artists also play a different role, leading the way in imagining new possibilities. “Going into space is such an epic undertaking, we’re going to need people with different ways of thinking to help us get there.” That idea of drawing new people into the endeavour of space travel is central to Helen’s practice. She is a big believer in the power of art to educate and recently won the Sir Arthur C Clarke Award for Outreach for her contribution to space exploration. “Children often don’t think of science in terms of numbers, they see it terms of art,” she says. “It’s crazy that children don’t engage with the subject more.” After all, as Helen points out, it’s them who will grow up in this new dawn of space travel. While all this talk of rising spinal fluid has put me off travelling into space, it’s certainly made me want to go and see her exhibition. Helen Schell’s The Human Spaceship: Off Balance is at Vane Gallery, Newcastle from Wednesday 7th-Saturday 31st October www.vane.org.uk


INTERVIEW

PAVE THE JUNGLE DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO RACHAEL WHITTLE ABOUT UNLEASHING PAVE THE JUNGLE’S DEBUT EP

MUSIC

Image by Johnny Haynes Whilst social distancing has been difficult for almost everyone, it may well have been further damaging for those forced to stop as they were hitting the peaks of their respective industries. Given the nature of playing live, and the time it takes to build up the necessary confidence to gel with others, it’s likely that certain bands found lockdown particularly hard; the last thing they need as they’re building momentum is a forced lockdown. If you saw Cauls’ show at Sage Gateshead last year then it’s likely you would seen, and been mesmerised by, the second support act of the evening: Pave The Jungle. Strong, confident and prone to keeping their coats on, Pave The Jungle (making one of their first shows that evening as a live outfit) showed off a level of proficiency far beyond their band time-line should permit; screaming at us with Jesus & Mary Chain screeching guitar effects and clever My Bloody Valentine pop melodies. They were a band who needed a lockdown like they needed a hole in the head. And so, after the delays enforced by Covid, and the brakes being slammed onto their juggernaut, the question is what exactly does a hot live band do when they can’t plug in and play? Well as it happens, Pave The Jungle would suggest you get into a studio and do your best to capture that live energy on record. “Lockdown has been strange, and it really came at a bad time for us a band,” confirms guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Rachael Whittle, “but we knew where we wanted to go as a band, so recording and mixing the materials was much easier having performed the songs live.” Released in October, and pre-empted by a few singles, the band’s debut EP – The Hissing – is a tour de force of post-punk alt. rock intensity flavoured with intellect and wit. Produced with the support

THE HISSING SOMEHOW MANAGES TO CAPTURE THE SOUND AND THE SPIRIT OF THEIR LIVE SHOW, COMPLETE WITH THUNDEROUS BREAKDOWNS AND BACK-OF-THE-THROAT VOCALS. of Chris McManus at Blank Studios, The Hissing somehow manages to capture the sound and the spirit of their live show, complete with thunderous breakdowns and back-of-the-throat vocals. You may not be able to see them play live for the moment, but this isn’t far off that experience. “I’m happy with how the EP has come out,” confirms Whittle, though admitting that the process may have taken more time than originally planned. “The EP took a while but that’s partly as some of the songs came together as the old band [Rachael is a former member of grunge punks ILSER] were disbanding and Pave The Jungle formed so it was important to think about performing the songs with other people.” Hoping to plug in and do something for the launch of the EP (“we’ve got some ideas but it depends on availability and lockdowns I guess”) the plan is to get back to play live as soon as possible and build the band’s live sound back up; though they’ve already started work on new songs for future EPs and a desire to continue the momentum. “It felt with the last song that we recorded for the EP that we really got the sound we all want to make, and we can’t wait to get back to the studio.” Pave The Jungle release The Hissing EP on 9th October www.pavethejungle.com

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INTERVIEW

ART & LIT

SLUTMOUTH

SOPHIE BELL TALKS TO BETTIE HOPE ABOUT REJECTING SOCIETAL TABOOS THROUGH ART Bettie Hope is a North East-based textile artist and surface designer who goes by the wonderfully memorable name of Slutmouth; fiercely rejecting societal taboos through her bold and experimental designs, her work has most recently been featured on the door of Middlesbrough’s DIY hub Base Camp. With a collection which includes prints dismissing the culture of toxic masculinity, not to mention vulva print earrings, the catchily titled ‘You Don’t Control My Anus’ scarf and a variety of Pussy Riot-style masks, I was interested to know what inspired Bettie to tackle such huge and often controversial subjects through her art. “I am inspired by a whole host of artists who exercise agency to bring down oppressors and social constructs,” she says, explaining her desire to encourage people to begin respecting themselves whilst remaining tolerant and empathetic, before adding: “all seriousness aside, sometimes I just feel the need to create a drag queen Jesus.” Bettie’s recent work has also included the publication of a ‘zine which depicts a collection of her work. “The first ‘zine I made was in my final year at Uni, I then found loads of them in a box and just decided to sell them. I made them into a little affordable ‘zine and sticker pack. In the future I would love to create a little educational ‘zine for young womxn in secondary school and college, with information about periods and sex.” She describes how she found

I AM INSPIRED BY A WHOLE HOST OF ARTISTS WHO EXERCISE AGENCY TO BRING DOWN OPPRESSORS AND SOCIAL CONSTRUCTS 32

secondary school to be an intense time whilst also trying to understand herself and her body. “I strongly feel if I had an informal educational ‘zine answering awkward questions it would have been very helpful, especially when sex education in school is very much focused on the female reproductive system. Our bodies are so much more than vessels to carry children.” Womxn’s rights and the depiction of sexuality and gender in society are clear inspirations for her. “I really want to do some more work highlighting the issues within period tax and how society’s attitude towards the menstrual cycle is damaging. I really enjoyed creating an embroidery piece highlighting this issue.” She talks passionately about the way in which ‘feminine’ hygiene products are taxed as luxury goods whilst men’s razors are not, stating that “growing a moustache is a choice, ruining your favourite white jeans with a surprise visit from Aunt Flow is not!” Along with many other independent creatives, Bettie has felt the impact of COVID-19. “At first I was extremely productive, then I gradually started to slow down. Like most I have lost a lot of work due to the pandemic, but I have used my time to reflect and work through some trauma. The slow period has helped me reflect on my working week, before lockdown I would work from 9am-10pm most days and although I adore what I do, I believe that as a society things should move more slowly, we are speeding through life.” Bettie is currently working on a range of new products which she aims to release in time for Christmas whilst also working on commissioned portraits, check out her website for details. www.slutmouth.co.uk


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HARTLEPOOL

Biancos Deli // Chilli Cake // Fisherman’s Arms // Hartlepool Art Gallery // Hops & Cheese // Northern School of Art

MIDDLESBROUGH

The Auxiliary // Base Camp // College Of Art // Dickens Inn // Gallery TS1 // HMV // Middlesbrough College // MIMA // Pineapple Black // Play Brew Co // The Southfield // Steven James Guitars // The Teahouse // The Twisted Lip

STOCKTON

ARC // The Georgian Theatre // Head of Steam Norton // Sound It Out Records // The Storytellers // The Sun Inn // The Waiting Room

DARLINGTON

The Forum Music Centre // Hash Bar & Kitchen // Hole In The Wall // Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form // Voodoo Cafe

We’re thrilled to finally be back in print again! It’s really important to us that you, our dear Constant Readers, are kept informed of the cultural delights and creative stories from around the North East, and we want to give you as many ways to engage with us as possible. As the pandemic situation is constantly changing, we’ll be publishing a print version of the magazine as well as continuing with our digital version (on Issuu at www.issuu.com/narc_media) and we’ll keep bringing you loads of exclusive content on our website too. We’ve spoken individually to all of our outlets about stocking NARC. again. It might take us a little longer to come back to some places depending on their procedures, so we’ll keep you updated on where you can pick the magazine up every month. Our distribution outlets are really important – for us, they’re not just a place to stock a magazine, they’ve been handpicked because they also provide great services, a place to engage with music, art, theatre, comedy, film and all the other things we love, and they’re an essential part of our cultural ecosystem. If you’re picking a magazine up at any of the outlets below, we encourage you to also consider spending a few quid with them too.

Arts Centre Washington // Bunker UK // Fausto Coffee // The Good Apple Café // HMV // Hot Rats // Independent // Ivy House // The Ship Isis // Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens

DURHAM

Old Cinema Launderette // People’s Bookshop // Rocking Horse Rehearsal Rooms // The Angel Inn // Vennels

OUTLETS

Academy of Music & Sound // BALTIC // The Central Bar // Gateshead College // NewBridge Project // Sound Inc // Staiths Café

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The Biscuit Factory // Blast Studio // Butterfly Cabinet // The Cluny // Coppers 8-8 // The Cumberland Arms // Curvy Sounds // First Avenue Studios // Gosforth Civic Theatre // Oxfam Bookshop // Polestar // Shoe Tree Café // Tanners Arms // The Tyne Bar // Tyne Bank Brewery

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Ampersand Inventions // BALTIC 39 // Bar Loco // Beatdown Records // Beyond Vinyl // Blakes Coffee House // Central Ale // Dance City // DAT Bar // Dog & Parrot // Downcast Base HQ // Flip // Forbidden Planet // Guitar Guitar // HMV // Hoochie Coochie // JG Windows // Lane 7 // Mean Eyed Cat // Newcastle Arts Centre // Newcastle College // No 28 // North East Art Collective // Prohibition Cabaret Bar // Reflex // Riverside // RPM // Side Gallery // The Stand Comedy Club // The Telegraph // The Town Wall // Travelling Man Comics // Trent House // Vane Gallery

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The Exchange // Jam Jar Cinema // Magnesia Bank // Tynemouth Surf Café

SUNDERLAND

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DEMOS WE WANT YOUR MUSIC!

IF YOU’RE AN UP AND COMING BAND OR MUSICIAN, AND WOULD LIKE YOUR MUSIC REVIEWED IN OUR DEMO SECTION, EMAIL A TRACK TO INFO@NARCMEDIA.COM AND TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF! WORDS: DAMIAN ROBINSON

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Peter Dyers – I’m Amazed By You Full of downbeat drum patterns and back of the throat soul deliveries, the new one from Peter Dyers sounds like it’s straight off a turn of the century piece by Massive Attack. Filled out with nice moments of jazz funk shuffles, I’m Amazed takes repetitive

Komputaband – Jakey’s Bay

Sounding like a young Massa Confusa, the nice thing about Jakey’s Bay is the way that it ties together a layered electronic soundscape and matches it with more ‘traditional’ styles of singing. Leaving an almost Balearic, hands-in-the-air euphoric dance track, the interesting counterpoint of Jakey’s Bay is the moment its lo-fi vocals drop into the mix. Matching escapism with urbanism, Jakey’s Bay creates an interesting electronic style that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early release by electronic pioneering record label Mo’Wax or on an early Lo-Fidelity All Stars record. www.komputaband.bandcamp.com

The Primitive Lounge – The Subway

Just as Paul Weller’s recent album On Sunset sees the Modfather reference his Style Council past, there must be something in the air when it comes to hazy, relaxed pop focused on blissful guitar parts and searching soul vocals. Subway, for various reasons, sounds like the Modfather sounding like early Style Council

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electronic patterns, builds them up nicely over the duration of the track, and drops them into a soul-centred world. Not a million miles away from some of the early, dark work by Lulu James, I’m Amazed is both a really well thought through record and a slice of modern soul. www.instagram.com/guitardyers

(and therefore sounding like it’s right on the Zeitgeist) – it’s nicely composed, multiinstrumental and lyrically optimistic – yet somehow manages to tie that all together into a piece that never feels overly complex. It’s a shame that the dark nights are creeping in, as Subway could well be the perfect soundtrack to lazy summer days. One for Style Council fans and those of us who wish summer was still here. www.soundcloud.com/the-primitive-lounge

Rainbow Road – Fortune Forest

Taking a mindful walk through a rainforest, complete with the gentle sounds of insects in their natural environment, there’s something about Fortune Forest which is very similar to the early work of 808 State and their 404-era pieces. Creating interesting ambient electronic soundscapes and matching them with local flavours and sounds, the wonder of Fortune Forest is that it transports you to a different place – a place you’ve probably never been to but recognise immediately. If you donned an Oculus Quest, and it was showing images of

Cambodia and being soundtracked by Fortune Forest, you may well feel as though you were actually in a different environment. Beautifully constructed, Fortune Forest is a piece of considerable intent. www.soundcloud.com/rainbow_road_music

Michael And All Angels – I Am An Island Opening with a guitar intro which comes straight from the world inhabited by the Manic Street Preachers’ Motorcycle Emptiness phase, and being completed by layered, slightly strange, vocals sounding like mid-90s Super Furry Animals, I Am An Island’s core structure is typified by those artists’ incredibly well-constructed and ambitious pop sounds. Taking a serious narrative about loneliness and isolation, and mixing it with a multiinstrumental very ‘up’ sound, I Am An Island is a great piece of pop which doesn’t look for easy answers or the easy way out. www.michaelandallangels.com


TRACKS WORDS: LAURA DOYLE

T-B, L-R: Butterjunk, Firesites, Talk Like Tigers The nights are drawing in and the year is winding down, but that doesn’t mean our music scene has to. In fact, it’s admirable that so many artists are still finding ways to create during these very strange times. First up is Suddenly We Stopped Dreaming’s latest dream pop single, A Thousand Lullabies. Think Shania Twain crossed with Stevie Nicks, but if she was singing down one of those echoey toy microphones. Mesmerising. Men Behind The Sun take things down a rockier path with Wolfman, a perfect soundtrack for a midnight roadtrip across Route 66. Odd that such a track would have been written and produced in Tyne & Wear, but there you go. Contradictorily, you’d expect Simon Taylor’s Ibiza Nights to be a top tier dance track perfect for those hazy, hot nights. It turns out it’s actually an autumnal anthem, better suited to the hangover breakfast of 2020 with its mellow, lo-fi beats and murmuring vocals. Sunderland’s answer to RHCP, Hivemind are back with trademark melodic guitar lines and mildly depressing philosophical explorations. Medicine serves as an analogy for the mind-altering, potentially addictive power of drugs. Sonically, so does Firesites’ track Chemicals, with its whirring, dizzying indie synth sounds, accompanying smudged vocals and unexpected 70 era guitar solo. Meanwhile, Tobias Sarra must have spent a few nights by the campfire to create the chill, minimal acapella-infused So Long. Pierce The Heart, the debut single from rock outfit Coral Snake, is a rich, heavy track guaranteed to get your blood pumping. They’ve started out real strong with this one. The spookiest number on the list

comes from glam goth icon MXYM, who fully embraces all things romantically morbid for Vampires. The moody electronic rock spectacular is a far more realistic representation of what a vampiremortal relationship would look like than Twilight could depict. (And the question, “Vampires don’t come out in the morning, so why am I awake?” is all too relatable for us fully grown emos.) On a much lighter note, Cortney Dixon’s Man Made Time (taken from her recently released EP) takes us on a trippy, sweet and innocent journey which is so bubbly that it’s almost unnerving. Anyone nostalgic for John Hughes throwbacks should refuel on the Bueller/Back to the Future crossover that is Talk Like Tigers’ Annabel’s Calling. It’s the perfect 80s synth-pop tribute: familiar enough to hook you, but dialled up to keep your interest. They’ll give the track an official launch via an in-studio livestream on Wednesday 7th October on their Instagram. Edenthorn pull no punches with riff-charged rock anthem A Matter of Opinion; this deep, gritty melody fuels any residual, embedded angst and lets it flourish. Look out for this lot when the gigging scene is back up and running – this track can only improve in a live setting with an audience’s energy to bounce off. Rounding us off this month is some ambient sounds courtesy of Butterjunk’s Woodside. Twinkly guitar is set against a backdrop of lovely, deep bass which sets the perfect mood for everything autumnal.

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ALBUMS 4/5 ANE BRUN AFTER THE GREAT STORM (BALLOON RANGER RECORDINGS)

5/5

FUTURE ISLANDS AS LONG AS YOU ARE (4AD)

Future Islands by Justin Flythe

Words: Ikenna Offor The moment that propelled Future Islands from cult Baltimore grafters to muscular synth-pop powerhouse transpired during that now-legendary performance of Seasons (Waiting For You) on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2014. It was their Stateside network TV debut, and frontman Samuel Herring’s spasmodic jigs hipped the world at large to what was by then old news to day one fans – here was a band equally fluent in both unabashed intensity and trenchant catharsis. Insofar as ballsy gambits go, the propulsive melodrama of Herring’s much-memed histrionics belied a lucid grasp of indie-centric theatricality. In this sense, his unblushing exuberance not only elevated the band a notch above the rabble, but also intimated to audiences that it was okay to air out their repressed emotions, too. By offsetting the wistful interiority of that song with Herring’s ebullient physicality, Future Islands savvily transitioned from also-rans into credible big-time contenders. Now, six years later, they have made a record that acutely ameliorates old wounds while casting a sanguine gaze towards the future. Markedly more triumphant than its brooding predecessor (2017’s The Far Field), As Long As You Are is by turns infectiously zestful and crushingly devastating, and finds Herring’s flair for achingly resonant songcraft still very much intact. “Who am I?/Do I deserve the sea again?”, he sombrely ponders on the superbly understated opener Glada – the plaintive inflection in his sonorous baritone lands like a well-timed haymaker to the feels. There’s no point fixing what ain’t broke, and so the songs on this album cannily swaddle Herring’s poetic aphorisms in a familiar embrace of keyboardist Gerrit Welmers’ lush synths and bassist William Cashion’s grounded basslines. This synergistic alchemy has long been the nub of the band’s patent appeal – here, it’s perfectly encapsulated in both the robust groove of disco-laced stunner Born In A War and Plastic Beach’s transcendent euphoria. With its deft blend of misty-eyed optimism and uninhibited jouissance, as tenderly refracted through the poignant candour of Herring’s lyricism, As Long As You Are positions Future Islands squarely at the vanguard of their compeers – and you just know they’re dancing all the way to the bank. Released: 09.10.20 www.future-islands.com

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Neil Turpin – Doorbell Disconnected (Turps Tapes, 02.10) //Metz – Atlas Vending (Sub Pop, 09.10)//The Phoenix Foundation – Friend Ship (Memphis Industries, 16.10) // yllwshrk – I Am Aladdin (EOA Recordings, 16.10) // Millie Manders & The Shutup – Telling Truths, Breaking Lies (Bad Garnola Recordings, 23.10) // Boy Pablo – Wachito Rico (777 Music, 23.10) // Magick Mountain – Weird Feelings (Self-Release, 23.10) // Black Foxxes – S/T (Spinefarm Records, 30.10) // The OBGMs – The Ends (Black Box, 30.10) //Sen Morimoto – S/T (Sooper Records, 23.10) // Frankie & The Witch Fingers – Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters (Greenway Records, 02.10) // Michael Scott Dawson – Nowhere, Middle Of (We Are Busy Bodies, 16.10) // Magik Markers – 2020 (Drag City, 23.10) // Sun Ra Arkestra – Swirling (Strut, 09.10) //Groove Armada – Edge of the Horizon (BMG, 02.10) // The Slow Readers Club – 91 Days In Isolation (SRC Records, 23.10) // Nothing – The Great Dismal (Relapse Records, 30.10) // Peter Broderick – Blackberry (Erased Tapes, 30.10) //Actress – Karma & Desire (Ninja Tune, 23.10)

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Words: Laura Doyle Ane Brun has had a relatively quiet few years; it’s been half a decade since the release of her last album of original work. Thankfully, 2020 gave her the time and space to settle in for a creative spree, undisturbed deep in the Norwegian mountains. The result is a duo of albums set for release this autumn. The first, After The Great Storm, shows that Brun still has it in her to put out an immaculate collection of soulful art pop. Her operatic vocals are a razor-sharp whisper, just the right balance of angelic and emotionally charged. Brun explores the state of humanity, set against a modern orchestral backdrop that is as soothing as it is inquisitive. Released: 30.10.20 www.anebrun.com

4/5 MOUNTAIN GOATS GETTING INTO KNIVES (MERGE RECORDS) Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Like most of John Darnielle’s brilliant records, Getting Into Knives has a thread of pathos running through it, here he fixates on the inevitability of grief and loss with some of the Mountain Goats’ most earwormy AM rock in years. Get Famous, piercing in its sincerity, warns of the trappings of hedonism and semi-fame, backed by brass and organ it enters the canon as being one of the band’s most accessible pop songs. Rat Queen has a similar 70s AOR vibe that runs through the record, while more plaintive moments like Wolf Count reminds the listener how Darnielle can really utilise narrative to tug at the heartstrings. I’m not sure that Getting Into Knives will convince anyone not already on board, but it’s a much-better-than-average addition to their catalogue. Released: 23.10.20 www.mountain-goats.com


ALBUMS

3.5 / 5

4.5 / 5

3/5

JÓNSI SHIVER (KRUNK RECORDS)

DEATH VALLEY GIRLS UNDER THE SPELL OF JOY (SUICIDE SQUEEZE RECORDS)

OLIVER COATES SKINS N SLIME (RVNG INTL)

Words: Ali Welford With Sigur Rós lying dormant after a torrid couple of years, it’d be easy to read Jónsi Birgisson’s second solo album as a muddled break from his band’s troubles. Created in collaboration with producer AG Cook, Shiver’s dichotomy between abrasive beats, digital manipulation and classic Jónsi serenity can indeed make for a disparate, disorientating listen – yet amongst the confusion there’s no shortage of moments to savour. Coincidentally or otherwise, its experiments work best when infused with guest contributions. Cannibal, for instance, is elevated by a majestic, fluttering vocal from former Cocteau Twin Elizabeth Frazer, while Salt Licorice’s dive into full-fledged pop is reflected in an eye and ear-catching feature from Scandi star Robyn. It mightn’t always hit the mark, but not even its fiercest detractor could accuse Shiver of being dull. Released: 02.10.20 www.jonsi.com

Words: Lee Hammond In a world which feels increasingly alien by the day, Death Valley Girls’ new album intends to perpetuate more joy. Under The Spell Of Joy is a departure from their previous sound, their psychedelic ‘doom boogie’ replaced with jangly surf pop and upbeat sentiment. Brimming with excitement, underneath the typical clouds of reverb there’s hope. The inclusion of a children’s choir on the title track adds a slight sweetness to the record. Both It All Washes Away and I’d Rather Be Dreaming have a real warmth to them, whilst 10 Day Miracle has a much sharper edge to it yet it is no less compelling. This is a change in direction for sure, but by far Death Valley Girls’ best album to date. Released: 02.10.20 www.deathvalleygirls.bandcamp.com

Words: Eugenie Johnson On his last album, 2018’s Shelley’s On Zenn-La, cellist and producer Oliver Coates created intricate beat-oriented electronic soundscapes. Skip forward a couple of years and Coates is in a very different musical space. His new album skins n slime thoroughly bathes in distortions and drones, creating thickened walls of sound that both encapsulate and encompass his evocative cello playing. It can sometimes feel oppressive, but there are moments of light, including Philomela Mutation (from the short film The Bird Game) and closer Soaring X, where Malibu’s contemplative spoken word once again accompanies languid melodies. If you were drawn in by Coates’ previous work, skins n slime may sometimes prove challenging, but there are still moments of beauty to be found amongst the noise. Released: 16.10.20 www.olivercoates.com

4/5

4/5

3.5 / 5

ARCHIE BROWN & THE YOUNG BUCKS LONESOMEVILLE (SELF-RELEASE)

HOLY MOTORS HORSE (WHARF CAT RECORDS)

LAURA VEIRS MY ECHO (BELLA UNION)

Words: Robert Nichols Veteran rootsy Newcastle band Archie Brown & The Young Bucks take you in a comforting, warm embrace. Yet before you know it you are travel companions on a descent through the bottom of a glass, fading away in Lonesomeville. With a lineage that includes post-Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Bureau, they spin stories with a gravelly voice that registers all the 45 years since the original inception of the Young Bucks in Tyneside in 1975. Perhaps better known now for his children’s TV themes, Archie Brown shares lyrical duties with Northern Irish poet Kevin McKay, which allows for different word pictures set to a shifting musical carousel from Geordi-cana, country rock and blues to the enchanting folk of The Field. A vintage blend. Released: 04.10.20 www.archiebrown.com

Words: Damian Robinson Sounding like a record written by the unhappiest cowboys you’re likely to meet, Estonia’s Holy Motors are clearly one for dark, twangy Americana filled with wistful longing and a belief that loneliness is often the best solution to the relationship conundrum. The layered guitar textures of Horse, complete with their dreamy, dialled-in vocals sound like the moment of resignation and the perfect soundtrack to a future bar scene in Lynch’s next episode of Twin Peaks. Minimal in places, full of twang in others, Horse is a complete album in textures and imagery – standout Midnight Cowboy (“a little late to the party, everyone’s got somebody”) sounding like the happiest/unhappiest come on you’ve ever heard. Clearly even cowboys sometimes get the blues. Released: 16.10.20 www.holymotorsband.bandcamp.com

Words: Elodie A. Roy Laura Veirs sings in a restrained, icy voice, capturing the currents stirring deep beneath the surface of things. With My Echo, her eleventh album in twenty years of recording, the Portland-based songwriter recollects her life as if it had happened to another. A natural diarist, she examines the cold splinters of experience with a sense of detachment and bemused incredulity. The muted colours and sparse mood of the album (Veirs’ amplified nylon-string guitar dominates) dimly recall Lou Reed and John Cale’s crepuscular Songs for Drella, and the secretiveness of early Cat Power. Veirs steadily puts distance between herself and the world – but I like best the moments of vertigo and unguarded directness as evidenced on End Times and Vapor Trails, which also features Karl Blau. Released: 23.10.20 www.lauraveirs.com

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4.5 / 5

4/5

3.5 / 5

MARY LATTIMORE SILVER LADDERS (GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL)

EMMY THE GREAT APRIL / 月音 (BELLA UNION)

WORKING MEN’S CLUB S/T (HEAVENLY RECORDINGS)

Words: Ali Welford With previous collaborators including everyone from Sharon Van Etten and Julianna Barwick to Kurt Vile and Thurston Moore, L.A. harpist Mary Lattimore’s new album is the product of a nine-day decamp to Slowdive guitarist Neil Halstead’s studio in Cornwall. Underpinned with subtle low-end synths and splashes of Halstead’s guitar, Silver Ladders’ unfolding sonic collage is utterly captivating – an exploration in form and structure that’s wholly unlike Joanna Newsom, to whom her instrument of choice draws inevitable comparisons. Furthermore, it’s a record whose lush palette is only accentuated the deeper you delve; its congruous marriage of sonorous drone and fragile beauty sharpening the senses to ever more mesmeric effect. Don’t sleep on this magical record – however sedatory its effects may be! Released: 09.10.20 www.marylattimoreharpist.bandcamp.com

4.5 / 5 KEVIN MORBY SUNDOWNER (DEAD OCEANS) Words: Michael O’Neill Across seven years and five solo records, including last year’s magnificent Oh My God, Kevin Morby has carved out a name for himself as one of America’s most exciting and innovative singer-songwriters, and Sundowner is one hell of a testament to this. With this sixth LP, Morby abandons the widescreen eclecticism that marked past releases, opting instead to decorate his songs with the bare essentials: acoustic guitar and organ dominate the forefront, allowing his voice to take centre stage. From the majestic title track through to the likes of the stand-out cut Jamie, Sundowner is one of Morby’s finest efforts, and it’s refreshing to hear his songs in such an intimate and unadorned setting. Released: 16.10.20 www.kevinmorby.com

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Words: Chris J Allan Emma-Lee Moss’ fourth album is a journey of possibilities. The album, written on a visit to her family in Hong Kong during 2017, undoubtedly retains her signature skill of emotionally charged storytelling; but here it is intertwined with someone confronting the complex dual histories of the country’s identity. It’s between those sounds of the modern and the traditional, where she finds her place within it. Since, Hong Kong has undergone further change of its own, with last years anti-Extradition Law protests and a continued democratic struggle; but that ongoing turbulence ultimately makes this record, imbued with reflections on peace, place and identity something relevant, poignant and to cherish now even more so. It’s a beautiful journey to go on with her.Released: 09.10.20 www.emmythegreat.com

4/5 OPTIC SINK S/T (GONER RECORDS) Words: Robin Webb Imagine cold wave, analogue synthesised, post-punk nihilism force-fed through a warped 8-bit sound chip in pop overdrive, while lyrically battling the angst and dystopian Trump-ton town ethos for a Soft Quiet Life. This isn’t some simple chip-tune anger fest though, oh no, written primarily by Memphian Natalie Hoffmann (NOTS) as a cathartic response to personal grief and absurd politics, expertly assisted by percussionist Ben Bauermeister (Magic Kids). This album seamlessly fits into a retro-futurist Kraut/new wave psyched-out synth scene reactively emerging in Memphis. Sounding much like a stark expressionist maelstrom, it took a few years for Hoffman to create and has the feel of early Joy Division without guitars but all the beauty and originality firmly in place. Released: 02.10.20 www.opticsink.bandcamp.com

Words: Steve Spithray Coming into this year on the brink of something, the moment may have gone for Yorkshire’s Working Men’s Club and their self-titled album, already held back since June. Which is a shame because their masterfully perceptive synth vexations are the obvious antidote to the Idles/ Fontaines DC hydra. Occasionally uplifting but realistic observances, such as John Cooper Clarke’s motorik catechisms and White Rooms And People’s acceptance of the terms of the day, are bang on the money while Tomorrow is paradoxically morose. But it’s Outside and twelve minute closer Angel that are more ethereal in the vein of MGMT, and cast something of a positive and promising shadow over Working Men’s Club’s tight but patchy debut. Released: 02.10.20 www.workingmensclub.bandcamp.com

3/5 SPIRES THAT IN THE SUNSET RISE PSYCHIC OSCILLATIONS (GRAVEFACE RECORDS) Words: Steve Spithray After nearly twenty years wandering the edges of the new age woods where avant jazz makes way for the folk plains, Illinois’s Spires That In The Sunset Rise have settled instead for retreating deeper into the undergrowth on their twelfth album, Psychic Oscillations. The title track pushes the very boundaries of the folk genre into more tonal and wordless vocal experimenting, and owes more to Inuit throat singing than any more mainstream forms, while elsewhere, rounds of oboe and light electronica endure. Geomantra is more traditionally tuneful – flutes jostle for the foreground as a silent cacophony builds behind and is a highlight, but a darkness emphasised by lilting cello and swirling incantations are only ever around the corner on Terrestrials. Released: 09.10.20 www.spiresthatinthesunsetrise.bandcamp.com


MIXTAPE

WORDS: DAVE GRIFFITHS, FAST FORWARD PROMOTIONS

I promote live music on Teesside as Fast Forward Promotions. Although I’ve been asked to write about some of my favourite music, in truth I could list 100 songs and not even scratch the surface of my favourites, so I thought I would limit my choices to artists I have been involved in with promoting. www.fastforwardpromotions.co.uk

PENETRATION BEAT GOES ON I never intended to be a promoter. My one aim was to promote a show on Teesside featuring my favourite band called Penetration, who were one of the shining lights of the 1977 punk explosion and had reformed in 2000. I co-promoted my first show in September 2010 and somehow I’m still going strong 10 years later. That Penetration gig eventually took place in 2012. If you ask anyone of my age with an interest in punk to name a song associated with Penetration they would probably say classic single Don’t Dictate, but in 2015 Penetration released a new album, Resolution, and to me it’s as good as anything they recorded first time around. I particularly like this track, Beat Goes On – to these ears it’s an absolute classic pop song. In fact, Penetration’s frontwoman Pauline Murray will be playing Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Saturday 31st October – don’t miss it!

THE WOLFMEN JACKIE SAYS In 2011 I became aware of a London band called The Wolfmen. They featured the legendary punk icon Marco Pirroni on guitar along with Adam Ant’s bass player Chris Constantinou, and were making some excellent music but not playing live. I badgered them constantly and persuaded

them to trek North to play in Stockton. Sadly Marco didn’t come with them but they were still great and despite a poor turn out it was a thrill watching them.

NEW YORK DOLLS JET BOY OK, so I didn’t put a gig with New York Dolls on, but in 2013 I was offered a living legend: Sylvain Sylvain. The graveyard shift – a Wednesday night – and expensive, but no way we were turning this down! He was utterly fantastic, playing solo all those classic Dolls songs and regaling us with stories (some not to be repeated!). One of those ‘you had to be there’ nights. A few years earlier I had seen the New York Dolls at The Cluny and it was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Oh to have seen them the first time around!

THE SPACE AGENCY THE DEVIL’S SADDLE Another favourite of mine is a Brighton band called The Space Agency, although I have known guitarist Simon Jones for the best part of 40 years as he is originally a Teesside lad. The Space Agency are a three-piece who play instrumental music; all trebly guitars and twangy reverb played through ancient amps, a wonderful sound both on record and especially live.

THE FALLEN LEAVES TROUBLE Around 2012 I discovered a fantastically beautiful noise while idly listening to the radio; I had to look on the show’s website and find the tracklist to find out who the band was. The Fallen Leaves? Never heard of them! But that song was great, so I investigated further. ‘Punk rock for gentlemen’ they described it as – I just knew it was brilliant and another band I had to have on. London again – more expense, but what the hell. They eventually played a gig for me supporting The Monochrome Set but they were the real stars that night and have now played 10 gigs for me over the years and are definitely ‘Big In Middlesbrough’.

WORKING MEN’S CLUB TEETH I could post so many videos of bands I love and have been lucky enough to bring to the North East. I’m of an age where I’m mainly looking backwards, but this year I promoted a relatively new band who were getting lots of attention. I’d seen them live in Newcastle and was totally blown away. Working Men’s Club are just a young band, but are full of attitude, energy, and with great music to boot. I got them to play in Stockton just before lockdown and it was a fantastic night, they will be massive one day.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW RELEASE PLANNED, AN UPDATE TO INFORM OUR READERS OF OR A STORY TO TELL? WE’RE HERE FOR YOU EMAIL: INFO@NARCMEDIA.COM 39


Huma Bhabha Against Time Until 21 February 2021

Free entry Donations welcome Book now: baltic.art/tickets

Huma Bhabha, It’s Me, 2013. Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 New York

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NARC. #166 October 2020  

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