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ISSUE171

APRIL21

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

DU BLONDE NARC. COMPILATION ALBUM FIELD MUSIC TUSK TV STAR AND SHADOW CINEMA MICROPROJECTS


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PREVIEWS 4 | APRIL PREVIEWS

ISSUE171

APRIL21

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

Releases from Pete Beat, Amplified Man, Ecota, Yes Plant, Casual Threats and Chlorine; livestream performances courtesy of Gosforth Civic Theatre, Sage Gateshead, Tracks, Ladies of Midnight Blue and The Samphires. Culture-wise, enjoy dance films from Dance City and Ellen Hathaway Dance Company, battle rap via Felt Nowt, Working Class Creatives Database exhibition at PBVArts, The Tunnel Gallery online launch and much more!

INTERVIEWS 13 | NADEDJA 14 | THE GIFT EXCHANGE 15 | THE PALE WHITE 16 | FIELD MUSIC 22 | DU BLONDE

Ben Lowes-Smith talks to Beth Jeans Houghton about her new self-released record, the joy of collaboration and being reinvigorated by her creative process

Welcome to our 15th birthday edition! While the last year hasn’t been particularly tip-top (somewhat of an understatement, but I promised myself this editor’s letter would be a positive one!), the last 15 years have generally been pretty mint. I never really expected to be able to actually do the job I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager, so I’m thankful every day for this little bundle of pixels and you, dear Constant Readers, for trusting us enough to provide you with musical and cultural information and entertainment. As I’m sure is the case for many of you, for me the last month has mainly consisted of waiting around until I can start doing fun things again (come to think of it, that’s basically been my experience since November). Clear signs of Spring are on the way, and I’ve found myself noticing things like budding plants and louder birdsong; something that in previous years has somehow passed me by in a blur of freelance deadlines and the almost constant need to travel further afield. Once life has been kickstarted again, I’ll be making a more conscious effort to appreciate the subtle changes the seasons bring. Come mid-April (all being well) I’ll be embarking on my first camping trip of the year; hiking boots shiny and toilet tent at the ready (*shudder*). For now though, a few precious hours in the warm Spring sunshine accompanied by a buddy (or five – it’s legal now!) will do me just fine. Until next time… Editor Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Website David Saunders narcmagazineonline@gmail.com Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com

Contributors Chris J Allan / Paul Broadhead / Paul Brown / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Caitlin Disken / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Lee Hammond / Louise Henry / Tracy Hyman / Paul Jeffrey / Jason Jones / Beverley Knight / Ben Lowes-Smith / Charlie Mansergh / Tom McLean / Robert Nichols / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Nicola Owen / Paul Ray / Damian Robinson / Elodie A Roy / Conor Roy / Steve Spithray / Dawn Storey / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Maria Winter / Cameron Wright

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

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

18 | NARC. COMPILATION ALBUM 24 | SL WALKINSHAW 25 | YOUR STORY, MY STORY, THEIR STORY NOW 26 | TUSK TV & TUSK EDITIONS 27 | STEPHEN BISHOP & MARIAM REZAEI 28 | STAR & SHADOW CINEMA MICROPROJECTS 30 | PATRICK JORDAN 31 | BECCA JAMES 32 | BIG SCREEN TV REVIEWS 33 | DEMOS

Demo reviews of Ruminath, Dutch LX, Pete Bell, Anthony Pears and The Collectors

34 | TRACKS

Reviews of singles by sojoetaylor, Cameron Scott, Palma Louca, Dirty Chips feat. Lex Rush & Dale Novella, Tipps, Danica Dares, Ceitidh Mac, Jenny Lascelles, Jen Dixon, Patrick Gosling, Salt House Lavish and Spider Noises

36 | ALBUMS

Reviews of albums by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Social Simon, Low Island, CLAMM, Juan Wauters, Dinosaur Jr., Field Music, The Lucid Dream, Du Blonde, Ya Tseen, Ja Panik, The Coral, Ryley Walker, Dry Cleaning, Leon Vynehall, Conrad Clipper, Microcorps, Christine Ott, Big | Brave, Moontype and Stanley Odd

40 | MIXTAPE

Jessie and Andrew Mills from Newcastle music shop Curvy Sounds talk about some of their favourite tunes

Next Issue Out 28th April

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PREVIEWS

Casual Threats by Austin Tweddle

MUSIC

CASUAL THREATS RELEASE NEW SINGLE, DLR

Words: Jason Jones Seven years is a long time to keep a secret, especially when that secret is as downright bloody electrifying as Casual Threats’ new single DLR. The Newcastle post-punks are back with their first release since 2018, but by no means is this some kind of half-baked homunculus of lockdown tedium – a four-chord banana bread loaf, if you will. No, despite wrestling with themes of boredom and isolation – voguish inklings, granted – DLR has in fact been a glinting spear in the trio’s arsenal since their very first set-list way back in 2014. Finally committed to tape, the track is one of four new releases headed our way this year, and it’s a fraught, writhing, stabbing blast of freneticism; like fighting a rooster in a phone

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box. As always, part of Casual Threats’ endearing charm is their knack for penning canny hooks that boast immediacy without straying towards triteness, and DLR is no exception, careering along on the back of a snarling earworm that chomps and stomps as it goes. With post-punk blooming into something of Indian summer right now, the Geordie three-piece are re-entering the fray of a decidedly sardine-like scene. Keep up this pace, however, and they’ll abso-lutely thrive. Casual Threats release DLR on 2nd April www.soundcloud.com/casualthreatsband

COMEDY

JULIAN LEE RELEASES BOOK, JOKEBOX

Words: Caitlin Disken Newcastle-based comic Julian Lee has been joking around for as long as he can remember. But, following his debut gig in the ‘90s, Lee swapped the stage for an unconventional

career path: working as everything from a data analyst to club promoter. Returning to the creative industry as a performance poet, Lee soon swapped the rhymes for gags, and now, after a 20-year break, is making waves on the stand-up comedy scene. The master of puns and one-liners, Lee has built up his reputation over the years: in 2017 and 2018 he was runner-up in Leicester Comedy Festival’s UK Pun Championships, and has featured on BBC Newcastle’s Jesting About. In 2018 Lee took his first show, Jokebox, to Edinburgh Festival, and now he has written a joke book of the same name: Jokebox will be released – rather aptly – on 1st April. We all need cheering up this year, and Lee’s puns are guaranteed to brighten anyone’s day. If you can’t wait that long, Lee has spent lockdown filming weekly joke videos on his YouTube channel – they’re definitely worth checking out to keep you entertained during lockdown! Julian Lee releases Jokebox on 1st April www.julianleecomedy.com


OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

PREVIEWS

Image by Amelia Read

MUSIC

LADIES OF MIDNIGHT BLUE LIVESTREAM @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY ONLINE

Words: Maria Winter The incredibly talented Afro-Latin percussion and brass duo Ladies of Midnight Blue are set to perform an online concert via Newcastle University’s YouTube channel. On Thursday 29th

April the University’s LIVE Concerts at Home will continue their lunchtime programme, and this show featuring Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel’s upbeat fusion will be a certain highlight. Ladies of Midnight Blue have performed all over the world, organised the acclaimed Harambee Pasadia Festival, and led countless music workshops specifically focused on raising awareness of issues around inequality. Their sound encompasses a heavy exploration of percussion, and Hannabiell and Yilis’ demonstration of incredible musical skill and energy through their performances contributes

to a unique experience for audiences. The music embodies profound creativity, whilst incorporating relevant themes of activism through discussions during the performance, highlighting their varied experiences as artists. If you already have an interest in the elaborate and intricate style of Afro-Latin music, or simply want to discover something new, this concert will definitely be worth the watch. Ladies of Midnight Blue perform via Newcastle University’s YouTube channel on Thursday 29th April at 1.15pm www.youtube.com/musicnewcastleuniversity

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PREVIEWS

The Things That Wait, image by Luke Waddington

STAGE

ART & LIT

MUSIC

BALLETLORENT ONLINE THE TUNNEL GALLERY NEW BEGINNINGS @ VIRTUAL LAUNCH FILM SCREENINGS SAGE GATESHEAD Words: Maria Winter Multi award-winning dance theatre company balletLORENT have created a digital artistic programme of both short and feature-length films, to provide dance-hungry viewers with access to their highly acclaimed work during lockdown, as well as dancers a much-needed income source. As a way of continuing the North East dance company’s creative output, Liv Lorent turned to film; devising multiple short and feature films to be recorded and shared. The Carol Ann Duffy penned family dance theatre production The Lost Happy Endings (filmed at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal in October 2020) was selected to be streamed on the arts streaming platform, Marquee TV, while an original adaptation of the beloved Grimm Brothers tale of Rumpelstiltskin (filmed at Northern Stage in 2017) was also shown on Sky Arts this Christmas. In addition, a selection of short films – the self-filmed lullaby, featuring improvised solos revolving around dancers’ interpretation of a music box; The Things That Wait, filmed in the Swedish Gardens at Saltwell Park; The Current, in which dancers physicalise tension and despair and the primal and powerful ANIMALIA, a solo film created with dancer Natalie Trewinnard who was 34 weeks pregnant at the time of filming – were all filmed between August 2020 and March 2021. The films are available to watch via the company’s YouTube and Vimeo channels, as well as via Marquee TV. Visit their website for more information. www.balletlorent.com

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Words: Nicola Owen The latest in a series of The Tunnel Gallery artist commissions, responding to the hidden heritage stories of Middlesbrough’s Heritage Action Zone, will be launched via a new virtual gallery on Saturday 10th April. Work by five locally inspired creatives, including Connor Clements, Annie O’Donnell, Dan Cochran (North East Statues), Sara Cooper and WAX Collective will be available to view online at your leisure. The virtual exhibition will be launched with an opening artist talk and Q&A with Connor Clements, who is a Teesside-based multi-disciplinary artist, curator and architectural graduate of Northumbria University. He uses his skills in 3D modelling and rendering, video production, web design, CAD drawing and scenography design to create online spaces for arts organisations through his organisation Dovetail Joints. Two other commissions will be unveiled during the gallery launch. Billingham-based artist Annie O’Donnell has been inspired by the key stones which once adorned the much-loved Royal Exchange to create a series of large scale colourful abstract collages. Researcher Dan Cochran – who runs North East Statues, which seeks to uncover sculpture, history and community in the Tees Valley – has unearthed stories about pieces of public art in Middlesbrough including The Bottle of Notes and The Scales of Justice, which he shares through archival material, photographs and people’s personal memories. The Tunnel Gallery virtual launch takes place on Saturday 10th April from 1pm www.facebook.com/thetunnelgallery

Words: Claire Dupree The North East’s venerated concert hall Sage Gateshead will welcome audiences back – albeit virtually – this month, with their New Beginnings season of performances which will be livestreamed from the venue. The season’s title is particularly fitting for the incoming principal conductor of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Dinis Sousa, a fantastically talented young Portuguese conductor who has several accolades under his belt. On Friday 16th April he’ll join Dame Sarah Connelly and the RNS to perform Berlioz’s intoxicating exploration of love, Les Nuits d’été, Haydn’s Le Matin and Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps. RNS return on Friday 30th April with an uplifting programme entitled Spring Is Sprung, featuring work by Vaughan Williams, Delius, Thea Musgrave and Schumann. For contemporary music lovers, North East’s thrilling folk ‘n’ rollers Holy Moly & The Crackers will perform their first livestreamed show on Friday 23rd April, where they’ll demonstrate their singular brand of foot-stomping rock, Balkan folk, alt. indie and soul sound. The Newcastle-based band have honed their live show to a fine point by touring the length and breadth of Europe; no doubt they’ll be chuffed to be returning to the live stage, so audiences will be in for a real treat. More performances are due to be announced over the coming weeks. www.sagegateshead.com


PREVIEWS

Image by Art of Spektra

FILM

DANCE CITY FILM FESTIVAL

Words: Claire Dupree Contemporary dance fans are in for a treat this month, as Newcastle’s Dance City welcomes a weekend of short dance films, in partnership with Durham’s TIN Arts. Taking place from Friday 23rd-Sunday 25th April, screening on Friday and Saturday evening from 7pm and on Sunday afternoon from 3pm, the

90-minute programme of shorts will each end with a live Q&A with filmmakers and dancers, who will talk about their work and give an insight into their practice. The programme is vibrant and eclectic, spanning themes which will resonate with many. Julie Cleves and Robbie Synge’s Forest Floor was shot in Abernethy Forest in the Cairngorms and considers physical access challenges in rural locations; filmmaker Simon Carlgreen, choreographer Peter Svenzon (Art of Spectra) and Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts collaborate on their work, Adjacent Movement; Aakash Odedra Company’s Samsara draws upon the diverse disciplines of ballet, contemporary

dance, Chinese folk dance and classical Indian dance form kathak; made in the empty galleries of the Tate Britain, Corali Dance Company’s Dancing To Art sees four dancers create individual responses to art works within the gallery; and in what’s certain to be a fascinating piece, Seeta Patel’s A Very bR*T*SH Museum uses movement, projections and animations to challenge institutions like the British Museum in their role in looted history, exploring complex questions about colonialism and imperialism. Dance City Film Festival takes place online from Friday 23rd-Sunday 25th April www.dancecity.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Ecota

MUSIC

ECOTA RELEASES DEBUT EP, WHAT WE GONNA DO?

Words: Ali Welford If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that there’s no explicitly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach to handling the drudgery of lockdown. If you’d prefer to pass time vegging out on the sofa as opposed to penning your own literary masterpiece…that’s fine! Even so, it’s difficult not to admire – and indeed envy – the route traced by young songwriter Ecota. Born in Lithuania and now based in Newcastle, Valerija Michailova has used those nondescript evenings shut away in her bedroom to foster a burgeoning creative spark; a process culminating almost exactly a year later with the release of her debut EP, What We Gonna Do? While Ecota was established with no pre-conceived sound or direction, the four-track release – due on Friday 16th April – displays a surprising sense of focus, pitching its tent in the lo-fi indie/dream-pop realm occupied by the likes of Real Estate and Youth Lagoon. From the hazy chimes of the opening title track to the amped-up shoegazing of closer Forget You – via tales of longing and struggles to move on from past relationships – What We Gonna Do? is ripe with the tumult and growing pains of youth, striking potent chords whilst simultaneously offering rich scope from which to advance. A bright launchpad that’s as encouraging as it is enterprising. Ecota releases What We Gonna Do? on 16th April www.soundcloud.com/ecota

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ART & LIT

Working Class Creatives Database: This Is Not A Show is at PBVArts’ virtual gallery from Friday 9th April until Friday 14th May www.pineappleblack.co.uk

WORKING CLASS CREATIVES DATABASE: THIS IS NOT A SHOW MUSIC @ PBVARTS THE SAMPHIRES @ THE GLOBE ONLINE Words: Nicola Owen Pineapple Black’s virtual gallery, PBVArts, hosts the work of the Working Class Creatives Database this month, taking the form of a network of rooms allowing the viewer to explore painting, photography, 3D design and sculpture, amongst other disciplines. As of 2020, only 16% of the workforce in creative industries identify as being from working class backgrounds. WCCD and Pineapple Black have created a partnership platform in order to elevate those who would otherwise remain unnoticed. There seems to be more scrutiny across the arts these days regarding meaningful career opportunities for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Working class stories are prized yet it is relatively hard to find them produced without a middle class filter of approval. Then there’s the soap opera hypocrisy, stories and characters rooted firmly in working class situations and issues, often dismissed by intellectual types as low brow fodder which appeals to the masses. Working class artists see schemes which enthusiastically seek to recruit participants from their background, but where is the long-term career support? Does interest in the artist evaporate once the box has been ticked? This first collective exposition from WCCD will seek to unite artists and present a statement of intent, offering a broader narrative of working class experience in the arts.

Words: Paul Broadhead Mark your calendar because Newcastle’s alternative rockers The Samphires will be taking to The Globe’s online stage on Saturday 17th April for what is sure to be an exhilarating live show. It’s sadly come a little too soon for us all to be allowed safely in a room together, but you can be front and centre in your own living room as the show is being streamed live. Rosa Thomas, Elise Shields and Gemma Watson’s first release, Papercuts, was well and truly immersed in that Pixies and Nirvana early 90’s sound, but new single Coppers showcases a band unafraid to experiment with more indie vibes and country sounds, with some gorgeous harmonies and enchanting lyrics like: “if hours feel like coppers weighing down jacket pockets / can we spare the change to breathe?” With material touching on universal themes of insecurity and fear, the young band have refused to let issues like global pandemics, national lockdowns and University study stand in their way and their future is looking bright. “And while we’re on the subject, things just can’t stay the same,” sings Rosa. The Samphires play a livestreamed show from The Globe, Newcastle on Saturday 17th April www.theglobenewcastle.bar www.thesamphires.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

Image by Jay Dawson

MUSIC

PETE BEAT RELEASES NEW ALBUM, BEFORE THE WAR

Words: Maria Winter Newcastle singer-songwriter and producer Pete Beat is set to release his highly anticipated new album, Before The War this month. Pete has over 25 years of musical experience, and

recent success with the album’s title track has garnered him support on BBC 6Music and BBC Introducing. Before The War bears all the hallmarks of superb songwriting; shifting effortlessly from witty lyrics to heart-warming imagery, the album successfully captures the musical variety of Pete as a songwriter. The chilled-out vibe created through electronic inflections provides an easy listening experience and Pete’s constant blending of genres means his style doesn’t fit into a singular category. The album spans elements of folk, jazz, pop and

electronica, with an extensive range of influences – from Bowie to Daft Punk, Prodigy to the Beatles – befitting the eclectic concoction of sounds. Pete’s unique vocal style shines through, his storytelling is relatable and engaging. Pete says: “Aiming for a specific genre just doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll always go for what interests me at the time.” Pete Beat releases Before The War on 16th April www.petebeat.net

23-25 April 2021 £9.50 / £8 concessions

An eclectic programme of dance on screen In partnership with TIN Arts

dancecity.co.uk / 0191 261 0505 Nirvair Singh - Samsara by Aakash Odedra Company

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PREVIEWS

MUSIC

YES PLANT RELEASE NEW ALBUM, REIMAGINED

Benjamin Fitzgerald

MUSIC

GOSFORTH CIVIC THEATRE LIVESTREAMS

Words: Claire Dupree Gosforth Civic Theatre have provided music-hungry audiences with some tasty livestreamed sets over the past few months, and April sees a pair of shows which will have diverse appeal. The charity-run theatre and music venue welcomes multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Fitzgerald on Friday 9th April, for a free-to-view solo set which will see the neo-classical composer perform a selection of his own songs and some which have inspired his work. Fitzgerald’s music spans a variety of genres, and his unique contemporary sound explores varied themes from mental health issues to grief and loss. A mesmerising performer, his set is sure to be a memorable one. Also performing from the venue will be vocalist and songwriter Zoe Gilby, who is joined by jazz trumpet player Noel Dennis on Friday 16th April as part of the launch of their new project Aurora (which also features bassist Andy Champion, guitarist Mark Williams and drummer Russ Morgan). Aurora has been inspired by the compositions of trumpet and flugelhorn hero Tom Harrell, which Gilby has written her own lyrics to, serving to demonstrate both musicians’ dynamic style. Tickets cost £7.50, with only one needed per household. Benjamin Fitzgerald performs on Friday 9th and Zoe Gilby and Noel Dennis perform on Friday 16th April via Gosforth Civic Theatre’s YouTube channel www.gosforthcivictheatre.co.uk

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MUSIC

Words: Laura Doyle Music can mean so many things to so many people – but no-one relates to music in quite the same way as Sunderland experimental project Yes Plant. Across the myriad of Yes Plant releases, music has been a medium of fun, exploration and primarily a storytelling device. Those stories might be as innocuous as telling someone to shut up, or even a little smidge of the autobiographical, but the vast majority are slightly unsettling narratives exploring anything from childhood abandonment to murder. With various restrictions scattered across 2020, new material got clogged in the pipeline. Instead, the follow up from 2019’s Getting Away With It and 2020’s Coming Back To It, is Yes Plant’s latest journey: Re-Imagined. As the title would suggest, this album is more of a retrospective across their dizzying career. Here, we revisit the tale of one man’s unfortunate circumstance following the light murder of his beloved, and his new life on the run. Re-imagined is this story in its most complete form: this experimental electro pop perfectly encapsulated the unnerving descent of a fugitive. Needing to be heard to be believed, Yes Plant creates a deliberate haphazard sound of voice samples and synthetic beats that’d be impossible to replicate. Yes Plant release Re-Imagined on 23rd April www.yesplant.bandcamp.com

COMEDY

CHLORINE RELEASES COMEDIAN VS NEW ALBUM, BE SOMEBODY ELSE, IT’S COMEDIAN BATTLE RAP @ FELT NOWT ONLINE FINE Words: Maria Winter North East sound experimenter Chlorine releases his sixth and latest album entitled Be Somebody Else, It’s Fine. Chlorine, aka Sunderland musician Graeme Hopper, is in a reflective mood on this 24-minute long piece, created during the Summer of 2020 and profoundly influenced by personal observations and reflection. According to Hopper, the title is a play on how he tried to make sense of such a surprising, restrictive year, where he would often remark comically to himself, ‘Be somebody else, it’s fine dude’. With the music reflecting a culmination of layers and sounds, we hear the transient mix of emotions embedded in the overall result. Despite being such a lengthy track, the piece manages to avoid being unwieldy, maintaining the listener’s attention through its experimental nature and embarking on unexpected journeys encompassing field recordings, rhythmic drum and bass and curious sounds, resulting in a body of work which takes extraordinary twists and turns. Hopper eloquently describes the release as: “24 minutes of layers, improv, sound collages, programmed beats, free drumming, lo-fi noise, tape loops, dub bass, location recs, spoken wordz, scuzz, gumph, goof, melancholy and more.” Chlorine releases Be Somebody Else, It’s Fine on 30th April via Chocolate Monk Records www.chlorinerecordings.bandcamp.com

Words: Nicola Owen North East comedians go mic to mic in a clash of rhyming skills and overinflated egos on Saturday 10th April. You can bear witness to the semantic swaggering with the showdowns being livestreamed to your gaff for a very reasonable five pounds. The main draw features Britain’s Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy measuring up against Lee Kyle. Contender Kyle comments, “Taking on Lost Voice Guy will be interesting as he’s a great comic and although he can’t talk I know he won’t hold back!” Simon Donald will face Seymour Mace in another tasty match; the two have met in the past with Mace yet to triumph against his three-time conqueror Donald. Can he turn the tables on his nemesis this time around? Other supporting clashes include Matt Reed vs Catherine Young and Hal Branson vs Neil Harris. The show will be hosted by comedian and rapper Jack Fox. Battle Rap has been going mainstream in the UK over the last few years. Wittily insulting the opponent and grandstanding feature prominently, as well as a barrage of jokes and improvised madness, so this should end up being a fun evening with a new champion being crowned by the end. Comedian vs Comedian battle rap takes place via Felt Nowt Online on Saturday 10th April at 10pm www.feltnowt.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Image by Karla Gowlett

COMEDY

LAURA LEXX @ THE STAND ONLINE

Words: Nicola Owen Somerset-born Laura Lexx brings her show, Knee Jerk, to online audiences via The Stand, Newcastle on Tuesday 27th April. She has already cracked Edinburgh with two sell out

shows in two years and appeared on the small screen as part of Live At The Apollo. She’s twice won the Comedian’s Choice Best Performer Award and has an impressive roster of writing and performing credits to her name. Sporting a stand-up persona reminiscent of a young, swearier version of Victoria Wood, the show will shine a hilarious light on how hard it is to be a good person these days. In Knee Jerk, Laura uses the tricks she learned to cope with her eco-anxiety to try and soothe the world’s temper and calm our phobias.

Laura takes on social media, mental health, climate change and conceiving – asking questions such as can you change the world without offending anyone? Can we stop being terrified and start being nicer to each other? Can you use netball to solve the gender pay gap? Spoiler alert: come for jokes, not for answers! Laura Lexx’s livestream takes place via The Stand, Newcastle’s website on Tuesday 27th April, and will be available to buy as a stream on demand until 10pm the following day. www.lauralexx.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Josephine Foster

MUSIC

HARK! PRESENT JOSEPHINE FOSTER & POLLY PAULUSMA @ TRACKS ONLINE

Words: Charlie Mansergh Darlington collective Tracks return with another HARK! The Sound of Stories event, which will present an online evening of music and poetry celebrating the works of Emily Dickinson, Angela Carter and a host of other women writers through the power of music. The HARK! events shine a light on literary heroes, often revealing stories of inspiration from modern songwriters. Their latest instalment takes place on Friday 23rd April, when readings and performances will bring Emily Dickinson’s poetry to life, and uncover the inspiration behind Angela Carter’s incredible legacy of work through original music and performances from international awardwinning musicians. Artists performing include Colorado musician and artist Josephine Foster, who will be lending her enigmatic voice and interpretive wit, and will revisit songs from her Emily Dickinson-inspired album Graphic As A Star; Polly Paulusma, who will be singing songs from her new album Invisible Music: Folk Songs That Influenced Angela Carter; multi-instrumentalists from Leeds, SCHWA will be playing music inspired by the writings of Kathleen Jamie, Christina Rosetti and Edna St Vincent Millay, via their incredible feature-length performance pieces. In addition, audiences will hear from Dianne Casey of Tees Women Poets. After the performance, a free online writing workshop will take place on Sunday 25th April, run by Dianne and Sarah Crutwell who will be using

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music to prompt writing. HARK! The Sound of Stories featuring Josephine Foster, Polly Paulusma, SCHWA and Dianne Casey takes place via Tracks’ Facebook and YouTube pages on Friday 23rd April www.facebook.com/tracksdarlington

STAGE

Ellen Hathaway Dance Company’s documentary, Most Free, will premiere on 2nd April. Tickets for the premiere are available from www. mostfreepremiere2021.eventbrite.co.uk www.ellenhathawaydancecompany.co.uk

MUSIC

AMPLIFIED MAN RELEASES NEW EP, ELLEN HATHAWAY DANCE RELEASE MOST SPARKLE FREE DOCUMENTARY Words: Charlie Mansergh COVID-19 has been monumentally hard-hitting to so many communities all over the world as isolation has taken its toll. It can only be imagined how displaced communities have managed at such a time, and it’s a subject close to Ellen Hathaway Dance Company’s heart. The emerging dance company seek to integrate communities through dance, with much of their work taking place alongside refugees and asylum seekers. While lockdowns and restrictions have affected EHDC as much as anyone, the company have still managed to create opportunities and ways in which people can connect and tell their stories, resulting in their feature length documentary Most Free. The documentary follows Ellen Hathaway on her investigation into dance and community. Ellen has experienced first-hand the lasting effects of conflict in communities and was made particularly aware of the global crisis of forced displacement when working in Israel and Lebanon. The documentary itself features interviews with a resettled Syrian family living in Blackpool, local and international dance artists and members of the public, resulting in a piece of work which studies how integration and connectivity is more important than ever.

Words: Maria Winter Amplified Man is the new solo project from Emergency Librarian guitarist, Pete Kidd. This month sees the release of a compelling new EP entitled Sparkle, which represents a culmination of ambient soundscapes. Based in the North East, Pete has been performing music around the UK since the early 90s and is one of the founding members of Whitley Bay’s Emergency Librarian. This four-track EP is a cross-genre blend of electronic music and ethereal rock ‘n’ roll. Amplified Man has provided a new creative outlet for Pete during lockdown, to counter the lack of live music and opportunities for performance. With countless sources of inspiration for this EP, the most intriguing has to be the assortment of ambient nature sounds taken from multiple field recordings. By incorporating these into his tracks, Pete’s music is elevated to unique sonic realms of musical innovation. When not engaged in creating his own work, Pete has also found time to collaborate with Mick Harrison from 90s indie punks Prolapse on his latest National Screen Service album, which will be released soon. Amplified Man releases Sparkle EP on 12th April www.amplifiedman.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEWS MUSIC

NADEDJA

Image by Michael Sreenan

BEVERLEY KNIGHT TALKS TO THE BRAZILIAN-BORN, NEWCASTLE-BASED ARTIST ABOUT THE SOUNDS THAT HAVE SHAPED HER The glow of Nadedja’s sound is truly international. Originally from South America, she has performed live on Brazilian TV and gained thousands of streams from 78 different countries, and she now chooses bonny Newcastle as her home. Connectivity is well and truly active for her: “I moved to the UK in 2017. I’m constantly in touch with friends, family and my audience through my social media. Keeping track of Brazilian news and being connected with the people is a big part of my daily routine, so much so that most of the time, when I sleep, I dream of Brazil.” She started writing music when she was 12 as an intuitive way to processing her feelings as a teenager. Over time it became an integral part of who she is, but remained a hobby until 2019 when she was studying. “The local North East scene, my course and the sheer excitement of being in a new country completely changed how I saw music. I’ll always be a singer-songwriter at heart, but I learnt how to craft, build and experiment. I fell in love with alt. pop and electro pop.” She explains. Allowing herself to head into that territory, she sought ways to exhibit her culture in the sound. “This might sound cliché, but music means everything to me. I understand my feelings only when

MUSIC MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME. I UNDERSTAND MY FEELINGS ONLY WHEN I LISTEN BACK TO WHAT I’VE WRITTEN. IT CHALLENGES ME AND BRINGS ME A KIND OF HAPPINESS THAT NOTHING ELSE CAN

I listen back to what I’ve written. But it’s not only that; it is so much fun and gives me the opportunity to connect with people. It challenges me and brings me a kind of happiness that nothing else can.” New single Sand is a gorgeous affair, effortlessly shifting from a ballad-like state into a sensual floor-filler. She thinks of it sonically: “The drums were one of the most important parts of this track, as I wanted it to have a more Latin, percussive rhythm to combine with soft beats. This effect, together with the synths, really give it a 90s Brazilian pop vibe.” The songwriter reveals that she worked closely with Newcastlebased producer HATi. “She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met and understands me. Sand is a mixture of both real instruments and electronic features. We recorded keys, bass guitar, flute and even sampled my vocals to play with, but we mixed it with the beats, synths and other electronic sounds.” Sand is about reassuring ourselves of the extent to which we are willing to change or accept the parts we want to stay the same: fundamental truths. She goes on: “We all can’t hide our real intentions, history and desires. The first part of the song is an honest reveal, and the second part is a response to these revelations.” Sand is the second single from EP Transient, due at the end of the Summer. “The other tracks are still alt. pop but maybe a bit more soulful and emotional. I actually can’t wait for you to hear it!” Nadedja releases Sand on 9th April www.nadedja.com

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FEATURE

STAGE

THE GIFT EXCHANGE

Future Perfect by Action Hero, Mia & Eric

AT A TIME WHEN BREXIT AND COVID POLICIES THROW UP MORE BARRIERS THAN EVER FOR CULTURAL COLLABORATION, THIS TRULY INTERNATIONAL EVENT WILL PROVIDE ARTISTS WITH A CHANCE TO CONNECT

CLAIRE DUPREE DISCOVERS A TRULY INTERNATIONAL WEEKEND OF COLLABORATION AND ARTISTIC PRACTICE I’m sure you don’t need reminding that this time last year we were all scrabbling around trying to figure out how best to do our jobs in the face of an escalating pandemic. Many arts organisations were determined to future-proof their practice as much as possible, and embraced the virtual world we found ourselves trapped in. As huge swathe of events have been forced online, cultural practitioners are keen to embrace all they’ve learned over the last 12 months when it comes to delivery and audience enjoyment. One such example is GIFT – Gateshead International Festival of Theatre – who were among one of the first multi-day festivals to successfully move their programming online as the pandemic took hold in May last year. The transition to online delivery meant that thousands of audience members across over 50 countries were able to access performances by a varied range of practitioners, building on GIFT’s promise to provide a platform for performance which is not normally programmed in the region. This year, GIFT continues to innovate with the launch of The GIFT Exchange, an online event which reflects on opportunities on the international stage and explores concepts of global cultural exchange. At a time when Brexit and Covid policies throw up more barriers than ever for cultural collaboration, this truly international event will provide artists with a chance to connect. Kicking off on Friday 30th April, highlights of the programme include an opportunity for those in the cultural sector to discuss the region’s international relationships. The North East Culture Social: Let’s Get International event will talk about the international cultures that exist in the region with the input of (international!) speakers and hosted by Unfolding Theatre’s Annie Rigby and Curious Monkey’s Amy Golding. On Saturday 1st May there’s an opportunity to meet brand new network Wear And Tyne Festival collective, who aim to promote

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festival culture in the region. Meet The Festivals will introduce members of Harambee Pasadia, MAPS, Moving Parts, Curious, GIFT, Summer Streets, TUSK and Vamos to audiences. Also on Saturday 1st, performance company Two Destination Language will chair a discussion session around their online residency programme, FIELD. New models for international collaboration come under the microscope as Canadian artist duo Mia & Eric discuss their multi-year engagement project, 3 WOODS, during which they will create three interrelated works in response to three different woods located in Germany, Norway and our very own Chopwell Wood in Gateshead. The duo have been working with local artists to create site-responsive work which delves into how communities are connected by their relationships to wooded areas. Mia & Eric will present their findings so far and host artist focused workshops about their creative practice. There’s an option to network with like-minded folk at The Breakfast Club on Sunday 2nd May; the informal meet up is hosted by Newcastle theatre company The Six Twenty. To round the programme off on the Sunday, festival director Kate Craddock will be in conversation about her vision for GIFT’s future, which is certain to provide some insightful food for thought. The GIFT Exchange will pave the way for an even more inclusive GIFT next year, when we’ll hopefully be welcoming practitioners from around the world to Gateshead venues – and meeting them in person! – once again. The GIFT Exchange takes place from Friday 30th April-Sunday 2nd May, with all events taking place online. Events are free of charge but booking is required www.giftfestival.co.uk


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

THE PALE WHITE

Image by Fiona Garden

CONOR ROY TALKS TO THE NEWCASTLE BLUES ROCK TRIO ABOUT THE RELEASE OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM The Pale White’s hotly anticipated debut record Infinite Pleasure finally arrives this month. It follows a staggering run of 15 singles and two EPs, which have propelled the indie/blues rock trio from the upstairs of their local pub to sold out tours of the UK and Europe alongside The Amazons and Sam Fender. The band’s ever-growing fan base have been crying out for an album and speaking about the timing of this record, vocalist and guitarist Adam explained: “If we weren’t putting it out now, it would have been premature and wouldn’t have been the album it is, the album that we are proud of. Songs get old fast which is why we wanted to make it mostly new material.” On Infinite Pleasure the band explore society’s desire for hyper-consumption, providing the thematic backbone of this could-be concept album. Having sat on the idea from an early 2018 voice memo, Adam opened up about the direct influence. “I first thought of it when I watched the Man On The Moon documentary with Jim Carey; I was struck by his whole outlook on life, he’d achieved everything he could ever imagine and still didn’t feel that fulfilment. We can spend our whole life chasing materialistic stuff or wanting to get to a certain place and then we get there and it’s like, what now?” This a deeply personal record for a band that often wear their influences on their sleeve. Comparisons to Interpol and Queens Of

WE CAN SPEND OUR WHOLE LIFE CHASING MATERIALISTIC STUFF OR WANTING TO GET TO A CERTAIN PLACE AND THEN WE GET THERE AND IT’S LIKE, WHAT NOW?

The Stone Age continue to shine on Glue, Infinite Pleasure and Medicine, featuring shimmering lead riffs, devastating drum tones and surging bass lines. The signature sound is also supplemented with a refreshing maturity and an element of risk taking when pulling this record together. When discussing the new approach Adam said it came from “having the opportunity to do things you’ve not been able to before. It’s not a three-minute single that needs to be on a playlist, that needs to be cut here and there. It was our producer, Jolyon that actually gave us that mindset. He was like, ‘do whatever the fuck you want’.” This willingness to push themselves really shines through on tracks like Anechoic Chamber Blues (a beautiful track worthy of the Submarine soundtrack) and Sonder (think The Hives meets Jack White). Discussing the latter, bassist Tom recalled: “We had such a laugh recording that song, it’s like we were almost daring each other like ‘that guitar tone isn’t radge enough’, we were deliberately egging each other on.” When it comes to the response they’re hoping to get from fans, for Adam, the outro on album closer Frank Sinatra is a high point.“That’s the moment for me. It’s euphoric and it’s got Beatles-esque harmonies going on, it’s a bit psychedelic and I don’t think anyone will be expecting it. I’m really proud of it.” With the release of Infinite Pleasure being such a long time coming for the band, Adam retrospectively offered some advice to their former selves and artists looking to follow their path. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. I’ve spent years taking myself so seriously and thinking it’s the end of the world if something goes slightly wrong. What you’re worrying about now you won’t necessarily be in a year’s time or even a month’s time.” The Pale White release Infinite Pleasure on 23rd April www.thepalewhite.com

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INTERVIEW

FIELD MUSIC

DAWN STOREY TALKS TO PETER BREWIS ABOUT FIELD MUSIC’S APPROACH TO SONGWRITING AND THE EARLY INFLUENCES WHICH INSPIRED THEIR LATEST ALBUM When they came to make a new Field Music album, the Brewis brothers had a plan – to take it back to basics simply by getting together and playing live. Unfortunately, like so many other people’s plans lately, this one was halted by the pandemic – and so Flat White Moon ended up being a completely different set of songs altogether. “It’s not the album we set out to make,” Peter Brewis tells me. “Me and Dave [Brewis] just wanted to get in a room and rock the hell out. I think we were listening to a lot of Free, strangely, and I thought we were going to write ten All Right Now’s, and then we didn’t because obviously we couldn’t play together in the studio. So after doing a couple of tracks in that style I ended up doing a lot of stuff just in my flat.” Luckily there were still occasions when the pair could meet up. “We

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recorded a few songs together in the studio – really just banged things down – and then we had to do it separately for quite a while. Then we got back together and finished it off. The album prior to that [Making A New World] was…well, it was a bloody concept album and all the songs ran into each other and it was just complicated. I think we wanted to do something that was a little bit less like musical architecture. Sort of like ‘Can we just do some songs please?’.” He laughs. Flat White Moon comprises a real blend of song styles, opening with the lush, layered sounds of Orion From The Street, a track of which Peter is particularly fond. “In terms of the songs that I wrote it’s really important to the record, and I think it says a lot about where I was at. And also Not When You’re In Love and When You Last


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

I THINK WE WANTED TO DO SOMETHING THAT WAS A LITTLE BIT LESS LIKE MUSICAL ARCHITECTURE. SORT OF LIKE ‘CAN WE JUST DO SOME SONGS PLEASE?’

Heard From Linda as well. I wouldn’t say they were my favourites but they’re the ones which mean the most to me.” Songwriting is shared between the two brothers and Peter also admits: “Quite often after I’ve written some songs and then I hear what Dave’s done, Dave’s songs are my favourite. Maybe that’s a bit of jealousy as well – when Dave’s written something amazing I’m like ‘Gah, I wish I’d thought of that!’”. Asked about influences for the new album, Peter says that some of them stretch right back to childhood. “We used to listen to music all the time in the house. My mam and dad had the classic record collection, as you can imagine. They grew up with pop music really, when the Beatles were starting to happen, and then progressed to Dylan and Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, 10CC and actually because my mam was a youth worker she kept up with things right up until the early 90s when it turned to dance music.” It’s little surprise then that a song or two on Flat White Moon have a touch of McCartney about them – such as the harmony-filled Not When You’re In Love. “Try as I might to get away from the Beatles, it’s difficult,” says Peter. “There has to be a conscious effort for it not to come out in what I do. But me and Dave have been listening to other things and we were maybe influenced by when we first really started liking music ourselves rather than just listening to our parents’. Mam and dad never had any Joni Mitchell and that’s something that I’ve got into quite a lot recently and I think that’s been a big influence on the approach to the lyrics on this record.” The band are currently engaged in rehearsals, but not for a traditional tour, as Peter explains. “Now we’re in this brave new

world of streamed gigs, we’re going to do one from the Brudenell in Leeds on Thursday 29th April. Nathan from the Brudenell just asked whether we fancied doing one and of course we said yes. We’ve played there so many times that it’s one of the venues that certainly feels like home – you just walk in and you know how it sounds and it’s great. So while we can’t go out and play we thought let’s do something else. I think everyone’s thinking the same really.” The morning that I speak to Peter, he and David have also launched a podcast in which they discuss the influences behind the new album. Entitled Field Musicast, their sense of humour is evident throughout as they talk about musical ideas that they may have “nicked in a very respectful way”, but at the same time it’s obviously vital to them that their own identity shines through. “We’ve got to be guided by what we like and make the things we think that only we can do,” says Peter. “Even when sometimes it might be a pastiche of something or tongue in cheek I still think there’s that sense of humour and sense of ourselves, and that particular kind of musicality that me and Dave can do. I’m not saying it’s unique or anything and I don’t think it’s massively original but I think it sounds like us. And I think it’s important to do that, for us.” Field Music release Flat White Moon on 23rd April via Memphis Industries. The band will perform a livestreamed set via Brudenell Social Club on Thursday 29th April, check the band’s website for details on how to tune in www.field-music.co.uk

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FEATURE

COMPILATION

AS WE CELEBRATE OUR 15TH BIRTHDAY THIS MONTH, WE’RE CONTINUING OUR TRADITION OF GIVING YOU, DEAR CONSTANT READERS, A VERY SPECIAL GIFT IN THE FORM OF OUR ANNUAL COMPILATION ALBUM. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE 16 BANDS AND ARTISTS FEATURED ON THIS YEAR’S COMPILATION, AND DOWNLOAD IT FROM OUR BANDCAMP PAGE – FOR FREE!

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DOWNLOAD HERE WORDS: CHRIS J ALLAN / PAUL BROADHEAD / LAURA DOYLE / CLAIRE DUPREE / DAMIAN ROBINSON / CONOR ROY / STEVE SPITHRAY / ALI WELFORD


FEATURE

Image by Al Thoburn

Image by Kristoff Photography

ARCHIPELAGO FEAT. FRAN BUNDEY – SNOWPLOUGH 5AM

CAT RYAN – MANNERISM

A flashback to 2018, Snowplough 5AM was concocted alongside electronic artist Fran Bundey as part of Archipelago’s adventurous BETWEEN WAVES collaborative series. “We recorded it live at Cobalt Studios,” recalls Archipelago leader Faye McCalman. “We had a day and a half together to write the music, and we hadn’t ever met before! I chose this as it’s a happy memory of live music and of the awesome independent venues in Newcastle – plus, although this was a different sound for us at the time, I can trace elements of it in our forthcoming second album, so it’s a teaser!” (AW) www.archipelagobanduk.bandcamp.com

The jaunty opening of Mannerism belies the song’s serious subject matter, which is typical of Newcastle trio Cat Ryan’s style; infectious melodies bristle with jangly guitar solos and summery production, juxtaposed with lyrics unafraid to tackle difficult subjects. “It’s basically about obsessing over trying to read someone else to the point that you’re almost under their control and you can’t break from them.” Says vocalist Mary-Anne Murphy. “We chose this song because it was our first single release as a proper band and it’s probably one of our favourites to play!” (CD) www.catryan.bandcamp.com

FAITHFUL JOHANNES – DIFFERENT

KOMPARRISON – DANCING WITH DEMONS

An established voice among local music aficionados, Faithful Johannes’ new EP …Is Hopeful has made for a comforting chink of light amidst 2021’s grim first quarter. A standout from the four-track release, Different is, in his own words, “a DIY disco tune about feeling constrained as a teenager by your parents’ religious beliefs.” Replacing the original version’s bass-synth groove with a gloriously homemade medley of pots ‘n’ pans beats, this new alternate version re-contextualises its lyrical tale into something that’s “a bit slower, warmer and fuzzier, and which I think has more emotional impact – though with less floor-filler potential!” In a profoundly non-religious sense...thank God for Faithful Johannes! (AW) www.faithfuljohannes.bandcamp.com

An old-fashioned ode to the weekend, Dancing With Demons is built around a lyrical timeline that starts on Friday night before eventually coming crashing back down on Sunday night ready to do it all again the following week, and with a glorious celebratory chorus to help get us in the mood to do just that. As the band quite rightly state: “Dancing With Demons is inspired by letting go of the troubles of the week and going a bit wild on the weekends. As it was written during the first lockdown, the song was a bit of hope for us.” (SS) www.facebook.com/komparrison

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Image by Victoria Wai

LIZZIE ESAU – YOUNG MINDS RUN BLIND

LOVELY ASSISTANT – LOVE MOVES IN ORDINARY WAYS

This thoroughly infectious urban groove from Newcastle singer-songwriter Lizzie Esau might come across as laid back, but lyrically it’s anything but. “Young Minds Run Blind is a song for the youth of today who feel victimised and patronised by society and the incumbent government. Trying to make their way in a confused world where making mistakes and learning from them feels like the ultimate sin.” Explains Lizzie. With a vocal that eases between softly spoken and soulful beyond her years, Lizzie could well be on her way to being the voice that the youth she speaks of is crying out for. (PB) www.lizzieesau.bandcamp.com

The latest single from last year’s eponymous debut, Love Moves In Ordinary Ways is a gorgeous sample of Lovely Assistant’s understated, harmonised torch song aesthetic. “I was sitting outside a bar watching a parade of new graduates flooding through Newcastle, and I started thinking about passing on advice,” reveals songwriter Kieran Rafferty. “Rather than inspirational quotes I thought I’d say that life isn’t all romantic gestures and being fabulous – the peace of the everyday is important as well. In the end, though, there was plenty of romance and drama in the song anyway, so what do I know?” (AW) www.lovelyassistant.bandcamp.com

Image by Michael Sreenan

MXYM – HARD DRIVE

NADEDJA – UNFOLD

Striking the perfect balance between sultry, sleazy, and self-aware: MXYM’s Hard Drive is the soundtrack to every bad decision and regretful rendezvous. Essential listening for alt. weirdos everywhere. “Hard Drive fell out of my brain in about 10 minutes, like a gift from the seedy cosmos. I was baffled by the concept that anyone would look back at photos of their ex, and that thought spiralled into the seediest of directions – ‘You survive, baby, in my hard drive.’ This song is a banger, and one of my absolute favourites to perform. I’ve found myself revisiting it in the performance-less year we’ve had.” (LD) www.mxym.bandcamp.com

Nadedja describes Unfold as an exploration of the “overflowing feelings, vulnerability, transformation and holding on to the connections we make with others”, and this relatable journey is beautifully realised on this track taken from her forthcoming EP, Transient. With inspiration coming from her Brazilian roots, RnB and art pop influences, the song builds up an ethereal beauty until it emerges as a fully formed sweet and summery treat of an uplifting dance hit. Unfold is a joyful earworm that will have you checking the weather reports ready to head to the beach. (CJA) www.nadedja.com

Image by Hollie Galloway

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ONLOOKER – ISOLATION

PAVE THE JUNGLE – ANTS

Having recorded the original demo track just before Covid hit last year, it didn’t take long for Middlesbrough garage rockers Onlooker (post lockdown #1) to, as they say, “home record some new vocals adopting the current mood and frustrations as the world spiralled into a state of confusion”. Ending up with a lo-fi pop/rock piece sounding like The Small Faces’ Lazy Sunday if it had been remixed for Blur’s self-titled album, Isolation brings guitars, pop, anger and frustration in equally crafted parts. A well-composed pop/rock track that can seemingly fit with any world changing event. (DR) www.onlookertheband.bandcamp.com

Ants serves as a perfect introduction to Newcastle alt. rock quartet Pave The Jungle; bursting with barely contained energy and claustrophobic chaos, its siren wail guitars and weighty percussion invite repeated listens. The song is inspired by short story Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, which deals with themes surrounding the treatment of intellectually challenged people, as guitarist and vocalist Rachael Whittle explains. “Musically I wanted this song to reflect the chaotic and unpredictable nature of life. This is why the chorus is the only repeated section of the song. I wanted it to be quite progressive.” (CD) www.pavethejungle.com


Image by Eva Edsjo

RUTH PATTERSON – SOMEBODY ELSE

SHAKK – FRIENDS

On Somebody Else singer-songwriter Ruth Patterson finds herself “questioning authenticity in this weird world of pretend and performance”, and after a year of living through Zoom calls and social media this reflection on identity is a welcome one. “We spend so much time trying to be somebody or something that it’s easy to lose track of who we really are,” she says. As this beautiful baroque pop-infused single goes on, it reveals its layers to further expose the meaning amongst the imagery, leaving us with a sometimes surreal but always heartfelt message. (CJA) www.ruthpattersonmusic.com

Middlesbrough rapper Shakk is making waves in the North East hip-hop scene thanks to his emotive lyricism and fresh approach to each track he creates. Friends is as heart-warming as it is edgy, thanks to its quick bars and melodic breakdowns. “I’ve chosen this track as it is dedicated to a dear friend of mine who sadly passed away. The song is about embracing your struggles, your loved ones and fighting to see another day when things get hard, which I think is quite relevant right now. I hope you enjoy this song as much as I enjoyed creating it.” (CD) www.facebook.com/shakkmusic

Image by Adam Kennedy

Image by Eva Pentel

SING AGAIN SYREN – RUN ON HOME

TRUNKY JUNO – SO COOL

If you like your rock old school-style and packing a punch, then you’ll love the lead single from all-girl Newcastle band Sing Again Syren. Taken from their Time Is A Trip EP, it’s a three-minute blast of heavy riffing. “The track was written with the live show in mind. We wanted to create some powerful retro rock that’s as fun for the audience to hear as it is for us to play. With the punchy riff and the very Page-meets-Hendrix style guitar solo – it’s quintessentially Sing Again Syren.” (PB) www.singagainsyren.com

So Cool, from Trunky Juno’s debut EP Too Many Teeth, is an addictively refreshing burst of nostalgic alt. pop: think road trips through sepia tone sunglasses. Reflecting on how the song came together he says: “It was a track which came out really quickly, and I feel like it was written in the span of around half an hour. I think that’s something that helps the track capture the moment so well.” With an infectious surf pop chorus line, a quirky percussion, rich back beat and jangly early 2000s guitar, this track is endearingly tongue-in-cheek and a lot of fun. (CR) www.trunkyjuno.bandcamp.com

Image by Brian Nicholson

YAKKA DOON – GOLDEN PLOVER

ZELA – I’M HEALING

There’s a timeless quality to Yakka Doon’s pared-down folk; a clarity songwriter Claire Welford characterises as “oak-aged heartcraft” from the “pit-scarred heathland” of County Durham. Inspired by the epic journeys undertaken by its winged namesakes, Golden Plover exemplifies everything which makes 2019 full-length Strenuous Detour one of the North East’s finest under-the-radar gems of recent years. The songwriter eloquently states: “When days grow short and dark, And the nights darker still, Cold grabs hold, Refusing to let go, Gales desperate to carry us away, Trigonometrical anchoring, Black quickly to gold, Night to day, Bathed in warmth of spring, Remembering, Bright days will return again, Keep going.” (AW) www.yakkadoon.bandcamp.com

Big electro-noir hopes ZELA delve into the darker side of life and relationships with a certain gusto, so I’m Healing is typically crushing and upbeat at the same time. The track is not so much about getting over a bad relationship as getting smashed at 3am to forget all about it, as the synths crash all around while a spoken word mid-section raises the bar even higher for the band. Singer Liv explains: “I’m Healing is just my favourite song. It perfectly captures everything ZELA is about; being unapologetically yourself and celebrating the bad as much the good. It’s just so raw but still so fun.” (SS) www.facebook.com/thisiszela

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COVER FEATURE

MUSIC

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COVER FEATURE

GIVEN THE WIDER GLOBAL AND SOCIETAL CIRCUMSTANCES AT PRESENT, I WAS SURPRISED HOW JOVIAL THIS RECORD IS – IT’S TURNED OUT TO BE A BIT OF A PARTY RECORD WITH SAD MOMENTS

DU BLONDE

BEN LOWES-SMITH TALKS TO BETH JEANS HOUGHTON ABOUT HER NEW SELF-RELEASED RECORD, THE JOY OF COLLABORATION AND BEING REINVIGORATED BY HER CREATIVE PROCESS IMAGE BY DAEMON T.V

Du Blonde’s third record, Homecoming, is a flab-free, hyper-melodic dose of serotonin, and when I speak to Beth about the record she is brimming with enthusiasm. Her first self-release through her own Daemon T.V label, she details a liberating process that has allowed her to take complete ownership of her work. The record is a short, sharp tour de force; Ducky Daffy covers sexual tension and modern ennui in under 80 seconds; recent single I’m Glad That We Broke Up uses glam and garage influences to scintillating effect, culminating in a sugary pill of pop serotonin; Pull The Plug is Hole at 45 rpm instead of 33, and – like the record as a whole – is some of Beth’s most direct, impactful songwriting offering a liberating counterblast to gaslighting. “Originally I was trying to make super simple garage records and wanted to go down the self-release route but a lot of my writing was leaning towards pop. When I’m writing I’ve always tended to go down a pop direction but have tried to avoid it, I’ve tried to make things more awkward, but I’ve been able to let that go this time and go with my impulses. Given the wider global and societal circumstances at present, I was surprised how jovial this record is – it’s turned out to be a bit of a party record with sad moments.” Beth’s demeanour is as relaxed and pleasantly stoic as much of the record; which she started writing in January 2020. “I started writing it when we knew about COVID but it hadn’t yet reached Europe. I was in LA in early January 2020 and I got back from LA just before they closed the borders, continued writing in London and came up to Newcastle when the lockdown was enforced. I ended up recording some of the vocals in my childhood bedroom. I like how the three places that have meant the most to me – LA, London and Newcastle – have their imprint on this record. This was more out of necessity than planning, really!” Homecoming has been a completely DIY process for Beth, from recording and engineering, to creating the apparatus around promoting a record, to animating and producing her own music videos. “I produced the last record but I’ve never engineered my own stuff; it’s good to be forced to do the scary stuff. It’s an exciting process for me because I’m really interested in how business works and how to make a functional website – I like being self-sufficient. I was worried that there was some secret power that record labels have to help you sell all of your records but this isn’t true. I was always told that self-releasing was really difficult and it took loads of work – it is a lot of work but I’ve had loads and loads of fun with it.” Beth has been outspoken about how working with labels over the course of her career has resulted in her mental health deteriorating, and it’s clear the process she’s taken with Homecoming has been a liberating one. “That’s not to say they aren’t good people at record labels and we should all stop using them, but it’s not the only way to

legitimise yourself as an artist. I think there will always be a place for record labels but at some point they are going to have to re-evaluate how they treat artists given that there are so many other doorways to self-expression.” Taking control of the way she works has opened Beth’s practice up to a more collaborative spirit, and the record features guest appearances from the likes of art rock icon Ezra Furman, Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson, folk band Tunng and indie popsters Girl Ray among others. “I was thinking ‘Why have I never collaborated with people in the past?’ With labels I was so protective of my material because they were so controlling. This time I wasn’t feeling protective at all and because of the pandemic I was feeling more like I wanted to email my friends and ask them to play whatever they want! I could work with people who sexually harass me who are desperate for me to get to number one and be miserable and in debt, or I could spend some of my own money to do things the way I want to do them. I already feel more successful in the last two months than I have done for a while; if I can work creatively – which in my case is animation and music – and I can pay my rent, then I’ll be happy.” This process of liberation through taking control of her creative process has permeated through to Beth’s general life philosophy and sense of ease with herself. “I went on such a journey with my mental health! It’s really hard when someone I care about can make me feel like I’m crazy; before I would have really internalised that. Now I can be more self-accepting. I had a really bad experience touring with my mental health. The pandemic has made me realise how much I’ve missed touring. It was so hard for a while, I had a nervous breakdown in Zurich on tour, and touring didn’t feel safe for a while; it’s taken until touring with Garbage that it’s become fun again. I haven’t gone to many live shows for a while because of anxiety, so I can’t wait to do that again.” Beth projects a reinvigorated love for the creative process. “Daemon T.V is the label – and I just want to tell anyone reading that they can make a record label, all you need to do is come up with a name and burn some CDs. I would love to see some 15 year olds make a label with their friends – I wanna see more DIY stuff! I think people just still really appreciate physical objects from artists. I want to see kids doing stuff, making stuff! If kids wanted to do that off the back of this record – that would be a success for me.” Du Blonde releases Homecoming via Daemon T.V on 2nd April www.dublonde.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

SL WALKINSHAW ALI WELFORD CHATS TO STUART WALKINSHAW ABOUT THE LOOPS, FIELD RECORDINGS AND PRECIOUS FOUND SOUNDS THAT GO INTO MAKING UP HIS DEBUT SOLO ALBUM

MUSIC

Image by Jade Sweeting As one half of free-form instrumentalists Ten Sticks, Newcastle musician Stuart Walkinshaw has form in supplying rich, textured slices of sonic adventure. It’s curious, then, that it’s largely through circumstance that we’re being treated to Tape/String, an exquisite (and some may say overdue) solo debut which once more witnesses this fertile creative brain span fresh territory. “A solo project isn’t something I’d ever planned on doing,” he admits. “I’ve had ideas clogging up hard drives for decades, but it’s only recently that I’ve began sharing things with a close group of friends. Their feedback – that it sounded like me, or something I’d do – was a bit of a light-switch moment.” Composed using an amalgamation of experimental tape loops, acoustic and synthetic stringed instruments and naturalistic field recordings, the album spawned from his friends’ encouragement is a beguiling and tranquil source of ambient reverie, akin to pensive works by William Basinski, Christian Fennesz and Kieran Hebden. Radiating soothing, medicinal qualities with nigh on crystalline clarity, it’s little wonder its creation likewise proved therapeutic for the artist himself. “It became a way of occupying my time. I found it quite escapist – the physical process of cutting lengths of tape, sticking them together and reassembling them in cassette shells, then playing around and improvising over those loops,” Stuart recalls. Without going down the heavy academic route, I feel there’s a parallel between loops and our ruminating thoughts. You can take a moment to reflect, allow your mind wander and see where it takes you, but ultimately you’re still drawn back to the safety of that original thought. It’s something you can convey with this type of music which perhaps can’t quite be expressed through lyrics.” Stuart explains he’s consciously refraining from referring to this as a ‘lockdown album’. “It was more about finding a space outside of this moment,” he insists. “I wanted short meditations as opposed to 20-minute opuses; pieces you can lose yourself within, not so much

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I FEEL THERE’S A PARALLEL BETWEEN LOOPS AND OUR RUMINATING THOUGHTS. YOU CAN TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT, ALLOW YOUR MIND WANDER AND SEE WHERE IT TAKES YOU blasting through imaginary universes as meandering through your back garden – which is bliss when everybody in the world is going completely nuts.” While some of Tape/String’s numbers sport geographical context via titles such as ‘Love Theme’ From Jesmond Dene, Tokyo and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, others like Metachrist and Lights Out draw sounds from a far more personal source. “When I moved out of my parents’ house, I left behind a lot of shit I didn’t want. One day my Mum turned up on my doorstep with my infamous ‘box of wires’ – random cables, broken kit, old guitar pedals…stuff like that – and I found that it had accumulated two of those old top-loading cassette recorders which had belonged to my grandparents.” To Stuart’s delight, one of these recorders contained a priceless archive; church readings, voice notes, background noise – and even a record of his own fledgling dabblings in sound. “That was really spooky, it was probably my first ever experience with recording!” He muses. “Both Grandparents have passed away since. My Grandad died when I was very young, but my Nana was a big part of my life. I used a lot of that backlog of their voices for Ten Sticks stuff. Nobody ever knew what they were, but for me they were something really personal, and now I’ve slipped some samples in here too.” SL Walkinshaw releases Tape/String on 9th April via Singing Light Music www.slwalkinshaw.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEW

FILM

YOUR STORY, MY STORY, THEIR STORY NOW CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT ABOUT THE MOMENTS OF LAUGHTER, LOSS, KINDNESS AND NEW BEGINNINGS REVEALED IN VISUAL ARTIST NATASHA DAVIS’ NEW WORK London-based performance and visual artist Natasha Davis’ interdisciplinary work focuses on themes of crossing borders, body and memory. Having worked alongside ARC with communities in Stockton since 2017, her new work entitled Your Story, My Story, Their Story Now, seeks to share the hidden stories of moments of laughter, loss, kindness and new beginnings in an online performance film, which debuts via ARC’s website on Thursday 8th April. “Every person has an interesting story to share.” She says, of the inspiration behind her work. “Additionally, the voices of new arrivals, often from areas of various conflicts around the world, in need of international protection, are rarely heard in public directly, and it has always been important to me to include as many different voices as possible in any artistic conversation and exchange.” Natasha’s previous work with communities in Stockton saw her make participatory-led performance work with local residents, including asylum seekers and refugees. “I contacted a few previous participants and we devised mini creative tasks for each of them for this Spring. They have also been sending me photos, texts and various thoughts, which I am mixing together in a short film and combining with my own thoughts on the past year, on the now and beyond. Occasionally I have filmed a conversation with them via Zoom and I am using short extracts from it for the film.” YSMSTSN will take the form of a 20-minute film collage which will

THE VOICES OF NEW ARRIVALS, OFTEN FROM AREAS OF VARIOUS CONFLICTS AROUND THE WORLD, ARE RARELY HEARD IN PUBLIC DIRECTLY, AND IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN IMPORTANT TO ME TO INCLUDE AS MANY DIFFERENT VOICES AS POSSIBLE IN ANY ARTISTIC CONVERSATION AND EXCHANGE

incorporate these mini contributions. “Together they provide a snapshot of the moment we’re living in now, how we feel about it, what are its joys and pains, provided by a diverse small group of people, some of them recent or less recent arrivals in Stockton.” The film is made up of images, mini performances, text messages, poetic lines, diverse voices, music and transformative moments, and audiences are encouraged to get involved in the conversation during a post-screening Q&A session. In making the work, Natasha was struck by one overarching narrative: that of support for others. “I found all exchanges with local contributors pretty fascinating, but what most resonated with me, and what without an exception happened in every instance was that – even though the participants in the film have often been and still are in a difficult personal situation due to Covid restrictions or the impact of Covid on their lives – without exception they are all also focusing very much on helping others. Often when I called them we weren’t able to talk immediately because they were just on their way to help someone shopping, or help with translating a document or a letter. I found that very inspiring.” The physical act of communicating with others and sharing challenges and triumphs has been an aspect of daily life we all sorely miss, and Natasha’s work with marginalised local communities highlights how much we all need that connection. “Staying in touch and continuing creative projects has been important to us all. Even though we can’t meet in person at the moment, it has been important to me to continue collaborating. Exchanging information via pictures, poetic texts, mini films and artistic tasks is a joyous life-affirming process, which continues to bind us through these currently rather complex times.” Your Story, My Story, Their Story Now is screened via ARC, Stockton on Thursday 8th April, followed by an open conversation after the film www.arconline.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R, T-B, : Jennifer Lucy Allan, Nappy Nina, William Parker, SPUNK

TUSK TV & TUSK EDITIONS CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT HOW LEE ETHERINGTON AND THE TUSK TEAM CONTINUE TO EMBRACE THE LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES OF ONLINE CONTENT WITH THEIR NEW VENTURE Following the success of their digital festival last year, the progressive folks at TUSK have unveiled their plans for more multi-media meanderings, this time in the form of monthly programmes broadcast on YouTube. TUSK TV launches on Friday 2nd April with a five-hour extravaganza of diverse international musical brilliance. Simultaneously, a monthly digital subscription service, TUSK Editions, will offer a digital publication, album, exclusive mix and guest essay to subscribers. TUSK mainman Lee Etherington explains how they took the decision to adapt to the ongoing circumstances and grow their audience. “We’re a festival and, for obvious reasons, can’t do what we exist to do in its usual form so it was a stark choice: do we stop existing or adapt to the circumstances? The TUSK Virtual three-day festival became a 14-day online event and was massively well received and also hugely extended our reach – we had over 12,000 unique global views during that fortnight and our archive is now getting nearly 2,000 views weekly. So suddenly these things become our greatest assets to be able to continue to work in the current situation – we can’t do ‘live’ but we can do digital and in doing so, greatly expand our audience.” One of TUSK’s greatest achievements is in its ability to attract international talent, particularly as physical and geographical barriers were removed in the digital realm; it’s something that TUSK TV is determined to continue, and with the ‘double-whammy’ of a

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WE’RE A FESTIVAL AND, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, CAN’T DO WHAT WE EXIST TO DO IN ITS USUAL FORM SO IT WAS A STARK CHOICE: DO WE STOP EXISTING OR ADAPT TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES?

worldwide pandemic and the restrictions artists will face as a consequence of Brexit, one that Lee’s been forced into confronting. “We need to explore new ways of raising income in what we predict will only become a more difficult economic landscape as, in Britain, we’ve also inflicted Brexit upon ourselves so some further years of economic woe seem inevitable. We’ve seen other festivals and organisations dabble in membership and subscription schemes and the mood of audiences seems to have shifted more towards altruistic support for things they love.” While TUSK TV will be free to access, TUSK Editions will provide paying members with exclusive digital content from a typically eclectic roster of artists. “We see it as a merging of the old record club idea and the current possibilities of digital publishing. Members and buyers will each get a large chunk of exclusive music from us as well as the more journalistic side of Editions – each month, members will get a zip in their inbox that contains over two hours of exclusive new music and writings from the likes of Jennifer Lucy Allan [TUSK TV host and presenter of Late Junction], Stewart Smith [The Wire] and others.” Kicking off the first edition will be the first duo album from Stephen Bishop and Mariam Rezaei, a rare Jim O’Rourke live solo recording, a mix from Hive Mind Records and a ‘blind’ improvisation between Greg Kelley and Joyce Whitchurch. Drawing attention to diverse sights and sounds remains TUSK’s raison d’être. The first episode of TUSK TV features free jazz legend William Parker, smoky rapper Nappy Nina, four-way female skronk from SPUNK and an amazing solo set from percussionist Valentina Magaletti. “We’ll also have our host Jen popping up, a film from Chik White, Stewart Smith in conversation with William Parker, Joe Muuray talking to SPUNK, the Blind Tapes project and more. We’re billing it as ‘a fat monthly microdose of TUSK Festival magic’.” TUSK TV and TUSK Editions launches on Friday 2nd April www.tuskfestival.com/artists/tusk-tv www.tuskfestival.com/artists/tusk-editions


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

STEPHEN BISHOP & MARIAM REZAEI

THE REZAEI/BISHOP COLLABORATION WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST YEAR’S TUSK VIRTUAL, AND NOW THEY’VE RECORDED AN ALBUM IN AN INTRIGUING FASHION. LEE FISHER FINDS OUT MORE Mariam Rezaei and Stephen Bishop are both essential to the beating heart of the Tyneside underground through their music, their promotion and more. But it wasn’t until they performed a stunning improvised set for TUSK Virtual last Autumn that they’d actually worked together; that experience led Bishop to a clearer understanding of Rezaei’s turntablism and how it could be used, and in turn led to their new album, Veil. “There’s something in those movements which directly translates to the recorded sound,” he explains. “The hyper-tactile nature of turntablism is almost ur-improv as the hands are everything in this context. I wanted to try to take these movements and translate them into my sound world.” “I’d recently been experimenting and playing around with vocals on my decks,” adds Rezaei. “I’d been really pulling at them with my hands and using FX on the DJ mixer to see just how much I could get out of that particular sound source. I’m interested in finding out just how far the turntable can transform the voice. I wanted Bish to take my sounds and do whatever he wanted with them.” Most of the album was created by Bishop using Rezaei’s hand movements and sounds to “trigger a host of samplers, synths and processes to create a sound field which I felt was reflective of our shared interests in electronics, contemporary composition and classical instruments.” says Bishop. Rezaei goes on to explain: “Bish mixed together my sounds with his modification of those sounds, along with his own new material too. He explained to me how he used my tracks as triggers for other sounds…it’s lush how something can be transformed into something so wildly different from its original source.” The exception to this process was the title track. “This uses Mariam’s recorded voice reading a Sufi poem (Rumi’s Masnavi 4), which she then plays and manipulates as a sample using Traktor. Those recordings of her playing are loaded into samplers and the playback, panning, filtering, tempo, as well as triggers for modulation of

THE HYPER-TACTILE NATURE OF TURNTABLISM IS ALMOST UR-IMPROV AS THE HANDS ARE EVERYTHING IN THIS CONTEXT. I WANTED TO TRY TO TAKE THESE MOVEMENTS AND TRANSLATE THEM INTO MY SOUND WORLD parameters within the samplers are all activated by a stereorecording of burning wood.” Obviously this way of working resulted from the constraints of lockdown, but both seem to have found the experience largely positive. “More than anything it was the ability to move quickly on this project as time was tight. I like to work quickly and fluently and to maintain energy and my attention on what I can be.” Explains Bishop. “I would ask Mariam to record something more ‘start/stop’ or more ‘spacious’ or with more high frequency, knowing that what I could derive from that audio would work in the overall composition. In the future I’d love to flip that so that Mariam is the ‘band-leader’ per se. That her concept of how ‘we’ can sound together can be known.” Rezaei adds that Bishop helped her find motivation in a low period. “Bish really helped me by suggesting some simple but open thoughts, like he mentioned ‘spacious’. Giving those sounds over to Bish was incredibly liberating and equally terrifying. I didn’t know what he was gonna think of them! But then you listen to a track like Bulgar Rose, you realise just how much of a genius he is at collaborating and sculpting sounds.” Veil by Stephen Bishop & Mariam Rezaei is released via TUSK on 2nd April www.tuskfestival.bandcamp.com

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INTERVIEW

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T-B: Image by Andrew Wilson, Little Light by Kate Sweeney, Image by Susie Davies


INTERVIEW

IN JUST SIX MONTHS, THEY SECURED FUNDING, ASSESSED DOZENS OF APPLICATIONS, COMMISSIONED AND SUPPORTED 38 VOLUNTEERS TO REALISE THEIR PROJECTS

STAR AND SHADOW CINEMA MICROPROJECTS LOUISE HENRY TALKS TO A FEW OF THE CREATIVES AT THE HEART OF THE STAR AND SHADOW CINEMA’S INSPIRATIONAL MICROPROJECTS INITIATIVE If you live in Newcastle, chances are you’ve watched the steady growth of The Star and Shadow Cinema since it took up residency at the bottom of Warwick Street back in 2016. What you might not have noticed as you passed by on the top deck of the number one bus, is that the cinema is a product of the blood, sweat, tears and time of an 800-strong pool of volunteers. A true consensus-driven organisation, when the pandemic hit the UK, a collective decision was made to close the doors of the cinema long before the government mandated the closure of venues. “We’re adaptable and resilient,” agree volunteers Dawn Felicia Knox and Michelle Hirschhorn-Smith over Zoom, referencing their online radio station, which launched during the early days of lockdown. “Our number one priority was to meet the needs of our community,” Dawn continues, “we can’t live without them, and we needed to support them emotionally and financially.” Aware that many of their volunteers were self-employed, isolated and in some cases left entirely without income, The Star and Shadow made the decision to invest Arts Council Cultural Recovery funding straight back into their community. The result? A Microprojects Commissioning Fund for volunteers. “We were like ‘go big or go home’,” Michelle laughs, and ‘go big’ they did. In just six months, they secured funding, assessed dozens of applications, commissioned and supported 38 volunteers to realise their projects. The process was hard work but was helped immensely by the “reservoir of knowledge and talent” among volunteers. “We operate under a ‘learn something, teach something’ model so nobody hoards their skills,” explains Dawn. “We had people who were entirely new to the commissioning process join us, who now better understand how it works.” The cinema operates as a microcosm of a democratic society, something which artist and volunteer Andrew Wilson explores in his Microproject Commission, This Trust Idea, a 30-minute film of playfully melded footage exploring the interception of trust, coercion and democracy. “The first time I turned up to volunteer at The Star and Shadow, someone thrust 200 quid in my hand and told me to cash up the bar. That’s trust,” he laughs. He felt a sense of urgency, having been inspired by the varying response to COVID-19 across the globe, noting that the countries that dealt best with the pandemic had the greatest relationships with trust. “I ended up spiralling a bit, thinking about the relationship between individuals, the state, the media and authority. It’s examining the relationship between coercion and freedom, really.” We spend 45 minutes chatting about the handling of the pandemic, state control and the impact of the lessons we’re taught as children regarding authority, but this does a disservice to the light-hearted nature of the film. “I wasn’t intending to evoke any grand reflections, or wrap anything up,” he smiles. “I want it to be enjoyable, laughing isn’t a lesser art.” Inspired by a new world in which isolation is the

new normal, Wilson acknowledges that the film is provocative, made to be consumed in a cinema and discussed at length afterwards. At the other end of the cinematic scale is Kate Sweeney’s Little Light, a beautiful, personal animated video made up of a series of watercolour paintings documenting Kate and her young son, as she cuts a lock of his hair to make a paintbrush. It’s a laboured procedure that comes full circle, as the paintbrush is then used to generate the watercolour stills. “I wanted there to be a claustrophobic feel to the video,” Kate says, about using her son’s hair. “It’s about using what you have to hand when you’re stuck at home in lockdown, but also because I’m obsessed with being a new mum.” Kate skilfully treads the line between intimacy and privacy as she explores the emotions and close bonds of motherhood. We discuss this at length, a ninety-minute conversation impossible to dilute into a few dozen words, though we continue to return to the need to achieve a balance between sharing “intense maternal feelings” and moderating how much we put out into the world, especially in a year that has driven us to isolation, whilst exposing much of ourselves and our homes over Zoom. Thinking about the impact of COVID-19 on creative output, she believes that whilst productivity levels are low – “it doesn’t matter what grand ideas I have in the morning, because by 8pm I’m knackered and just want to watch telly – our sincerity levels are incredibly high.” Making the most of low productivity levels is fine art student and podcast host Susie Davies, who began interviewing non-male filmmakers for Star and Shadow Radio. Reel People shares the stories of six North East-based filmmakers such as Maria Caruana and Ellie Land. “I figured that people who would ordinarily be busy might actually be available,” she laughs. Finding, and amplifying the voices of female role models within film has played an important part in building confidence; at the beginning of our conversation Susie refers to herself as an “aspiring” filmmaker, agreeing that this delegitimising of ourselves is a habit that female creatives need to break. In Episode One, Maria Caruana recounts being told that “women don’t work here” in an early film job, the antithesis to the openness and generosity of the podcast. “For anyone that might be listening thinking ‘oh I can’t do that’ because their identity prohibits them, I want them to know that they can.” All Microproject Commissions are available to watch, listen to and engage with via the Star And Shadow Cinema’s website www.starandshadow.org.uk/micro-projects/commissions

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INTERVIEW

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PATRICK JORDAN CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE PRODUCER-TURNED-SONGWRITER ABOUT FINDING JOY IN COLLABORATION ON HIS NEW ALBUM After his debut album A Woman Like You was met with plaudits from critics and listeners alike in late 2019, Teesside artist Patrick Jordan immediately started working on the groovy and dynamic follow-up, Louder, which is released this month. The record boats a full sound, as rich production elevates the rousing performances. Patrick’s production has been a driving force behind artists like Cattle & Cane and his own band Young Rebel Set. Stepping into the limelight, Patrick reflects on the decision to showcase his own material. “Honestly, I wanted to push myself. I think for years I’ve convinced myself I can’t write lyrics. My career has been surrounded by fantastic songwriters like Matt Chipchase and Joe Hammill, where brilliance seems to come so naturally to them. It became very easy to believe that I couldn’t do it. I would start hundreds of songs, but they’ve all ended up abandoned. With the debut I made a very deliberate choice to sit down and write the lyrics first. I love the recording side of music so much, it’s easy to get lost in it. The final single, It’s Strange, was written to sound like a Young Rebel Set song and I use the same guitars and drums we’d use on those records. The song reflects on Matt’s death; he’d never use a song that wasn’t fully authentic and real, so writing one has been very cathartic.” As live music dwindled into obscurity this year, Patrick Jordan found himself back in the studio. “I don’t think it was a reaction to the pandemic, but ironically, I found myself creating my most collaborative piece yet. On my EPs and debut, I’d filled every role myself, from the playing to the production. I was ready to add a different flavour into what I was making.” The collaborations across the album, from country artist Donna Marie Songs, Newcastle’s Mosaic Sun and Nashville duo Linen Ray,

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each bring exciting new dynamics to Louder. As songs like Black Dog and Broken Hearted drive stirring blues riffs and snarling drums into their anthemic choruses, the cohesive release also infuses folk nuances and blues sensibilities to sharpen the slick and stomping tracks. Patrick relishes the opportunity to reunite with friends and elevate Louder’s sound. “There’s a guitar solo on this album that I would never think of playing, but it suits the song perfectly. It’s been great being able to bounce ideas off people and watch them snowball. I never tell Donna what to do, I’d just send her a track and ask for magic, then she would send back these stunning vocals. In fact, my favourite line on the entire album wasn’t written by me. The only song I didn’t write myself has the line ‘Alas, I’m no Atlas, but at last I’ve found my way’ - I’m a sucker for a good turn of phrase, it infuriates me so much that Chris Saunders from Mosaic Sun just whipped up a line like that while in the bath!” Once the new album is out in the world, Patrick is eager to get back to work and jump into tour mode. “I’m ready to have some fun! The third album is already written and it’s a different sound completely, but I really want to enjoy these songs first.” Patrick Jordan releases Louder on 16th April www.facebook.com/patrickjordanmusic

I DON’T THINK IT WAS A REACTION TO THE PANDEMIC, BUT IRONICALLY, I FOUND MYSELF CREATING MY MOST COLLABORATIVE PIECE YET


BECCA JAMES

INTERVIEW

LOUISE HENRY TALKS TO NEWCASTLE SONGWRITER BECCA JAMES ABOUT HER EXPLORATION OF PERFECTION AND HOW IT IMPACTS OUR LIVES

MUSIC

Image by Nikki Robson What does perfection mean to you? Do you strive for it, or reject it? Does it equal happiness, or is it a symbol of oppression? Our relationship with perfection is the inspiration for Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Becca James’ latest project, in which she collaborates with local artists and the general public to better understand how perfection impacts our lives and the decisions we make. The catalyst for the project was James’ own personal and professional frustrations, particularly the difficulties of forging a career as an artist. In the opening line to her soulful new single, Perfect Girl, she refers to herself as a ‘blank canvas’, its space quickly taken up by the expectations and projections of others. “There’s a ‘more, more, more’ mentality to the music industry,” she sighs. “You go to meetings and you speak to industry professionals about what you should have and should do, and so the song was just born from frustration. I don’t want to be this perfect thing, and you know what, I can’t be, either.” The conversation turns to class, specifically the intersection between class and entitlement. “It took me a long time to feel like I had the right to make music,” James admits. The disparity around gender, ethnicity and ability within music are widely discussed and rightly so, but why is class so rarely acknowledged as a barrier to making music? “I really don’t want to perpetuate the starving artist mentality, but class is a key determinant when it comes to who’s successful and who isn’t. Not regarding ability of course, but in terms of who has the support and resources.” It’s unsurprising then, that through The Perfect Girl Project, Becca sought to collaborate and platform the perspectives of others when it comes to wrestling with the idea of perfection. Along with spoken word artist Midge Ryall, photographer Nikki Ryan and videographer Gareth Williams, she collated public reactions to four key questions

I REALLY DON’T WANT TO PERPETUATE THE STARVING ARTIST MENTALITY, BUT CLASS IS A KEY DETERMINANT WHEN IT COMES TO WHO’S SUCCESSFUL AND WHO ISN’T around perfection, culminating in a film in response to the track. “It can be difficult to articulate your intentions when developing something community based,” she explains. “It’s not an official music video as such but serves as more of a B-side to the single.”. Whilst the track is quite gendered in its subject matter, there was an entirely open call for submissions, which came in written, audio and video format. “It’s been really powerful to hear the community reflections on perfectionism,” says Midge Ryall, who created a spoken word piece as part of the project. “It’s always challenging to revisit your own definition of such an emotive concept and realise that everyone is at a different point on this journey to selfacceptance. It’s incredibly hopeful to remember that so many make the choice to reject society’s definition of it too.” For some, rejecting society’s definition of perfection was easier said than done; one male participant describes perfection as “a trap”, whilst another admits that for them, perfection is predominantly linked to aesthetics, feeling that their reflection “would never be up to standard”. Fitting then, that the final line of Perfect Girl asks the listener ‘have you seen yourself lately?’, a parting reminder that where we are now, is exactly where we need to be. Becca James releases Perfect Girl on 14th April. To find out more about The Perfect Girl Project, follow Becca on social media www.beccajamesmusic.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

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T-B, L-R: Hal Branson & Sammy Dobson, Straight Girl, Martha Hill

BIG SCREEN TV

CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT GENERATOR’S NEW ONLINE PROGRAMME FEATURING NORTH EAST MUSICIANS As we tentatively re-emerge back into public spaces again, it’s worth remembering that not every artist and band will get an opportunity to get back to performing live in front of an audience. There are only so many venues and audiences to go around, and with many musicians unable to even get into a practice room over the last 12 months, it’s fair to say that a return to the busy scene of several shows a night might take a while. Audiences, too, may take some time to feel comfortable in venues again, and hybrid shows – offering livestreamed as well as ‘in person’ tickets – seem like a great way to offer the best of both worlds. Online performances aren’t going away, and the more opportunities that exist for musicians to show off their skills and gain new audiences, the better. Enter: Big Screen TV, a brand new online programme produced by Generator, which launches on Friday 9th April. Talent Development Manager Helen Walkinshaw explains: “Big Screen TV is a new online music TV show, funded by Arts Council England, showcasing North East talent (on and off screen) and local independent venues. This first series is providing an outlet for people to perform, work and utilise spaces that have temporarily been forced to put a pause on what they do best, due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic.” Filmed both from their Newcastle city centre studio in Commercial Union House as well as on-location at music venues throughout the

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BIG SCREEN TV IS HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY MUSIC TV OF A BYGONE ERA, SO EXPECT INFORMAL INTERVIEWS, DAFTNESS AND A DIVERSE PROGRAMME OF INCREDIBLE MUSIC!

region, Big Screen TV will feature performances from 30 artists over ten weekly episodes. “Hosted by our presenters, comedians Hal Branson and Sammy Dobson, Big Screen TV is heavily influenced by music TV of a bygone era, so expect informal interviews, daftness and a diverse programme of incredible music!” The line-up features an impressive variety of genres and styles, and ably demonstrates what the region has to offer. Episode one kicks off with BBC 6Music darling Martha Hill performing in the studio, and ‘sad dance’ pioneer Straight Girl and GGAllan Partridge drummer SOPRUH’s sets coming from Disgraceland in Middlesbrough. Later in the series there will be sets from Me Lost Me, Holly Clarke, Merle Harbron, A Festival A Parade, Swine Tax, Yung Hydro, Stilts Foster, Pave The Jungle, Sing Again Syren, Cortney Dixon, Phibi, Ceitidh Mac, Kay Greyson, Talk Like Tigers, Georgia May, Hector Gannet, Benjamin Fitzgerald, Nadedja, Sågaboi, SQUARMS, Trunky Juno, Lovely Assistant, Ruth Patterson, SL Walkinshaw, Dilutey Juice, Shallow and Yakka Doon. On-location venues include The Cumberland Arms, The Cluny, Little Buildings and The Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle, Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough, Old Cinema Launderette in Durham, The Church Studios in Northumberland, The Engine Rooms in North Shields and Independent in Sunderland. “We’re extremely excited to share Big Screen TV with the world, the team working on the project are proof of how much incredible creative talent we have in the North East and they’ve managed to capture what makes the region’s music scene so special. Each episode will feature three outstanding performances whilst also capturing the charm of some of our beloved local venues.” Big Screen TV launches on Friday 9th April. Keep an eye on Generator’s social media for further announcements www.generator.org.uk


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: STEVE SPITHRAY

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Image by Frankenfink

Anthony Pears – ADC Anthony Pears’ bio states that he is “an electronic producer who takes influences from house, techno, tech-house, hip hop, rave and D&B to create his own unique sound”, and my work here is done because ADC does exactly that. ADC does not simply do all these things, but do them really well without sounding overly busy or contrived. My clubbing days are mostly behind me, but ADC has a sturdy four-to-the-floor beat that

Ruminath – Shake

Similarly, Ruminath’s Shake packs a hard house punch by doing that thing where it keeps going muffled for that all important impact when the beat comes back in. Nathan Adams is a producer/DJ from Newcastle and reckons Shake is, “inspired by memories of raving on Amnesia’s terrace”, and who am I to disagree. However, I do know Shake is another slice of pleasingly rudimentary beat building, while a housey melody is a seemingly constant threat and a couple of not too shabby vocal breaks are reminiscent of Q-Tip’s turn during the Chemical Brothers’ Galvanise. www.ruminath.bandcamp.com

Dutch LX – It Ain’t Easy Lovin’ You

Dutch LX sounds like it’s probably going to be a third dose of uplifting underground dance couture this month but never judge a book by its cover, as they say, because It Ain’t Easy Lovin’ You is actually a more than decent blues rock payola for fans of early Gunners,

builds into something both organic and super-tight, with enough twists and drops to satisfy its myriad of influences. Not so much like a club at closing time, nobody likes that, but a club at that magical time when it first starts to fill up. Anthony releases his new EP, Tricknology, on 16th April via DropLow Records. Check out his Soundcloud and social media for more info. www.soundcloud.com/anthony_pears

Buckcherry and, of course, AC/DC. It’s totally derivative, wholly unoriginal and going no further than the back room of the White Horse, but who cares because they rock like the proverbial bastard and have got the dualling riffs, big chorus harmonies and stadium solos perfected. In fact, the false ending and elongated solo might as well have come rolling in on a Harley Davidson but, oh my! www.facebook.com/dutchlx

Pete Bell – I Want You Here Today

Pete Bell’s I Want You Here Today is lightly psychedelic folk gently fried in micro-dots, backwards guitars in the vein of Donovan and Love and is a paean of regret (or in the singer’s own words, “a mosaic of reminiscences”) and sorrowful strums. It’s difficult to tell how this kind of thing will fit into any kind of North East musical scene post-lockdown, but is pleasant enough on the ear as Pete realises he might want her here today but she is gone tomorrow, as a

well-placed and well-constructed outro rounds things off and is worth the ticket alone. www.facebook.com/petebellmusic

The Collectors – The Park

Northern Uproar had a song called Town which was all about going out for the first time and the dangers and pitfalls therein. Stockton’s The Collectors, still being the wrong side of school leaving age, have to make do with going to the park and their ode to that, The Park, is also, apparently, an ode to the nonsensical lyrics and style of Shakermaker. One-paced, it rhymes ‘tissue’ with ‘issue’ and ‘misses you’, which all makes me feel really bad because they are so young and terrifically confident for it. But The Collectors are worth keeping an eye on because, even early Oasis – for all the boilerplate rock of Shakermaker and Cigarettes & Alcohol – still had stuff like Whatever and those blistering B-sides up their sleeves. I wonder whatever happened to those nice boys? www.instagram.com/the.collectors.band

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TRACKS

PALMA LOUCA US AND THEM Words: Damian Robinson Imagine you’re playing a game of pop/rock Top Trumps. And imagine your pop/rock star scores high on the ‘slurred vocals and lyrics of For Lovers-era Pete Doherty’ skill. And imagine they also score impressively high for the ‘Jeff Buckley/falsetto vocal delivery’ and ‘smacked out, dark yet peaceful, delivery of Scott Weiland’ skills. Now imagine that your pop/rock star is produced in the ‘Josh Homme deep bass, rock, choruses bookended by gentle rock electronic verses’ style. And now you can stop imagining; what you hear is Us And Them, a four-and-a-half-minute tour de force trip around the darker edges of rock, where angry choruses are counterpointed by heartbroken verses and a devastated central character. Dark with a soft heart. Released: 12.04.21 www.palmalouca.bandcamp.com

CEITIDH MAC BIRDS Words: Ali Welford “I noticed during the first lockdown that as the city slowed down, the birds were still belting it!” Notes Ceitidh Macleod, on the inspiration behind her fourth and by some distance finest single to date. “I think they always were…I just hadn’t been listening. It gave me a little lift, and I’m hoping this song is a nod to appreciating the small things around us.” Casting her trademark cello and smoky vocal in a delightfully vivid rolling arrangement, Birds’ pacific folk mirrors nature’s resplendent allure with such fluidity its component parts seemingly coalesce into a serene, seamless whole. If – or indeed, when – Ceitidh Mac transcends her standing among the North East’s best-kept-secrets, there’s every chance this sublime stunner could prove a key milestone. Released: 09.04.21 www.ceitidhmac.com

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REVIEWS OF SINGLES AND EPS BY NORTH EAST ARTISTS. WANT YOUR MUSIC FEATURED? EMAIL NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM (PLEASE TRY TO GET IN TOUCH 8-6 WEEKS AHEAD OF THE MONTH OF RELEASE)

JENNY LASCELLES DYING 2 GET 2 U Words: Ali Welford Flush with feelings of guilt, helplessness and regret, Dying 2 Get 2 U is a rousing yet intimate rumination on mortality, dwelling on the fragility of existence and our inability to help those we love from its inevitable endgame. It’s a stirring preview of what the Newcastle singer-songwriter promises will be a more personal and emotionally complex third album, and this sense of growth extends far beyond the song’s lyrical core. Liberated from the self-imposed limitations of acoustic folk, this new expanded vision laces Lascelles’ looping piano with layered, moulded vocals and cinematic electronic flourishes; subtle steps which nevertheless add significant depth from a raw and exquisite starting base. Marvellous stuff. Released: 02.04.21 www.jennylascelles.com

PATRICK GOSLING MEANTIME Words: Paul Jeffrey The young South Tyneside singer-songwriter has been making serious waves recently with his euphoric brand of indie pop, and latest release Meantime will certainly only add to the excitement. Kicking off with a joyous cacophony of synth riffs and dissonant guitars, Gosling launches into the track with twitchy abandonment before hastily hitting the brakes to allow full focus on his vocal, expertly demonstrating that he’s completely mastered the art of loudQUIETloud, and as he tears into the absolute belter of a chorus, it’s glaringly obvious that this is begging to be blasted out on the main stage of a major festival with 20,000 alcohol-fuelled teenagers bouncing along. If Gosling isn’t selling out venues nationwide in the next 12 months, there’s something very wrong with the world. Released: 02.04.21 www.soundcloud.com/patrickgoslingmusic


JEN DIXON WHICH WAY IS DOWN? Words: Ali Welford Considering the window of her bedroom studio harbours a view of the North Sea, it hardly requires a genius to decipher the watery threads connecting much of Jen Dixon’s songwriting. Certainly, the not-particularly-covert influence of its deep, icy depths is felt again on the Teessider’s third single – her second burning question of the year, following January’s Where Did We Crash? Certainly, Which Way Is Down? is nothing if not relatable; its reference to drowning (“I’m underwater, screaming for help / but nobody’s helping, nobody cares”) a suitably inescapable metaphor for the suffocating effect of endless lockdowns. It’s well executed – from its stuttering inaugural beats to its rapped final verse – though sentimentally it feels like an inadvertent agent to what’s already become 2021’s most omnipresent musical trope. Released: 09.04.21 www.facebook.com/jendixonmusic

SALT HOUSE LAVISH ALLEY CAT Words: Paul Jeffrey Multi–instrumentalist and producer Salt House Lavish returns with Alley Cat, the follow up single to last year’s Quarantet, and first release from his forthcoming album Fraternise–Collaborate. Based around a stonking soporific drum loop, Alley Cat slinks and creeps its way into your affections, claustrophobic synths oscillate and weave their way around a hypnotic two-note guitar riff, acting as perfect counterpoint to the sumptuous Billie Holiday-esque vocals that entice you into their neon-lit seedy night world, the smoky shadows of Moloko and Tricky hanging heavy in the air. With Alley Cat, Salt House Lavish has delivered a delectable slice of box fresh 21st Century trip-hop. Released: 23.04.21 www.facebook.com/salthouselavishmusic

SPIDER NOISES FEAT BLOSSOM CALDERONE YEAR IN AMBER Words: Paul Jeffrey Spider Noises (aka Jack Calvesbert) makes a very welcome return with his wonderful new single Year In Amber. As swathes of reverb heavy vocals and cat whisker radio tones bathe the listener in a somnifacient giddiness, you descend into a befuddled world of dreamtime, where things are never quite as they seem. Beautifully layered, yet Instrumentally sparse, the track reveals itself with each play. A simply gorgeous cello and eerie background vocal, courtesy of Blossom Calderon, adds to the overall narcotic feel. Deeply disorientating, dangerously delicate and utterly delicious, this is another wonderfully woozy song from under the floorboards of Spider Noises. Released: 02.04.21 www.spidernoises.bandcamp.com

DIRTY CHIPS FEAT. LEX RUSH & DALE NOVELLA ESCAPE THE MATRIX EP Words: Laura Doyle Get immediate good vibes with Dirty Chips’ latest EP Escape The Matrix. House music is generally relegated to the club – but with that area currently cordoned off, it’s excellent to find a corner of the genre that can be as easily enjoyed doing housework. This record came together in the most appropriate way for such electronicsheavy work: the North East-based production team communicated across the Atlantic with NY music duo Lex Rush and Dale Novella, who give a masterclass in rhyming convention (seriously, who else could rhyme with Neutrogena™?) These feel-good, ambient synth beats should be the soundtrack to everyone’s productive time, until such time as they can make it to a dance party near you. Released: 02.04.21 www.facebook.com/dirtychipsuk

TIPPS IF KARMA WAS REAL YOU’D BE DEAD Words: Laura Doyle You know you’ve screwed up when someone can take such issue with you in the most calm, collected manner. Whoever did Tipps wrong must have the fear of God struck in them listening to If Karma Was Real You’d Be Dead. Conditional tense error aside, this is absolutely the song to get over someone. The bitterness encapsulated in this twinkly, acoustic folk song makes it so unnerving, yet simultaneously so soothing. Only occasionally does the brutality of the insults creep into her melodic vocals, while the jovial tune continues to mask the full trauma of these events. Let it be known that sometimes a blunt knife cuts deeper, and sharp wit cuts deeper still. Released: 09.04.21 www.soundcloud.com/tipps-music

DANICA DARES ODE TO SELF Words: Laura Doyle This one does a lot of heavy lifting: usually an artist goes for big concept or interpersonality, but Ode To Self could easily be called Ode To Selves. The borders of which Danica Dares advocate we rid ourselves are both national ones as well as our own walls for the ultimate pan-human ideology. Such subject matter meshes perfectly with this proper folk music that could have come straight from the Celtic back catalogue. That is, if it weren’t for the smattering of Numan-esque synth scattered at the opening and closing of this track. Think of wor Gary, but if Kate Bush provided vocals. The structure could be livened up a bit with more of this sprinkled throughout, but it still doesn’t detract from this powerful message. Released: 09.04.21 www.facebook.com/danicadares

SOJOETAYLOR MAYBE I Words: Damian Robinson They say that patience is a virtue but God knows what a decade of waiting around is? A miracle? After a staggering ten years working as a live-only musician, during some of which he played guitar for Newcastle band Prize, it’s finally time for Joe Taylor (sojoetaylor) to get around to recording and releasing his own work. And it’s well worth the wait. Maybe I, a love song so perfectly designed for the pop charts, is almost flawless in its song writing and production. Starting of as an acoustic ballad, building up through double tracked vocals and an increased tempo, Maybe I ends up as one of the most upbeat, perfect pop songs you’re likely to hear this year. Released: 04.04.21 www.sojoetaylor.com

CAMERON SCOTT A TRIO OF VIGNETTES Words: Damian Robinson Almost entirely carved out of minimal piano ballads, A Trio Of Vignettes is the new three-track EP from Cameron Scott, and aligns closely to the raw, honest, moments of Nick Cave circa The Boatman’s Call. Written in the cycle of pre-winter isolation, the EP tells the tale of broken relationships, missed opportunities and deep regret. Standout track Bedlam nudges Scott towards the more broken and desperate moments of Spiritualized, whilst opener Second Magpie sounds like something from Tricky’s Pre Millennium Tension album with its bleakness, sense of confusion and lapses of paranoia. A fantastic collection, Scott’s work may not be the soundtrack to a Saturday night out, but it does soothe in the right places. Released: 05.04.21 www.soundcloud.com/cameroscott

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ALBUMS 4/5 YA TSEEN INDIAN YARD (SUB POP)

5/5 Image by Efrim Manuel Menuck

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR G_D’S PEE AT STATE’S END! (CONSTELLATION) Words: Lee Fisher Full disclosure: I’ve loved GY!BE’s music since I first heard it (almost 25 years ago now!) but, certainly in the early days, I sometimes found their stance irritating: while fully respecting their disdain for the media circus and their desire for community rather than ego, in reality it often manifested as a hermeticism, an aloofness which nagged at me, and sometimes the gnomic statements irked rather than inspired. Which is why the communique they issued ahead of this new album hit so hard, got my heart beating faster and probably put unrealistic expectations on the music. ‘these are death-times and our side has to win’ I needn’t have worried. …STATE’S END! is a truly magnificent record. It consists of two side-long behemoths and two shorter tracks (if six minutes is your idea of short). Track one, which for concision we’ll call ROCKETS FOR MARY, starts in familiar fashion – aural detritus (radio stutter, background noise) giving way to a mangled anthem that in turn settles into a tense pulse before a hardcore guitar chug kicks in and the whole thing explodes in slo-mo, like the house in Zabriskie Point. Across the track’s 20 minutes there are sections that sound like Popol Vuh, that build like Branca’s Guitar Trio, that use harmonics to make you imagine you’re hearing choirs and orchestras. It’s genuinely breathtaking stuff and strains at people’s expectations of a GY!BE record. The second long track, Nearer To Thee, again starts with background noise and electronics before things take a fairly acid-drenched turn: there’s a blasted, exploratory feel that hints at kosmische or the more expansive parts of Pink Floyd, taking its time swelling and expanding, hitting a series of crescendos before fading away at the midway point, then rising again into something almost rock (no post here), surging rhythms and almost prog guitars (there’s even a section that sounds a bit like Thin Lizzy) before the guitars become bells and it all slips back beneath waves of noise. Nearer To Thee feels full of hope and light. The two ‘short’ tracks are just as impressive, Fire At Static Valley an almost folky ritualistic summoning, while OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (FOR D.H.) swells and recedes like a Growing track. It’s been a horrible year for most of us, dark and tragic and confined. ...STATE’S END is exactly the album we need as the world opens up again. Released: 02.04.21 www.godspeedyoublackemperor.bandcamp.com

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH ART d’ECCO – In Standard Definition (Paper Bag Records, 23.04) //While She Sleeps – Sleeps Society (Sleeps Brothers/Spinefarm, 21.04) // Matthew E. White & Lonnie Holley – Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection (Spacebomb, 09.04) //Flyte – This Is Really Going To Hurt (Island Records, 09.04) // Devil Sold His Soul – Loss (Nuclear Blast, 09.04) //Julia Stone – Sixty Summers (BMG, 16.04) // The Offspring – Let The Bad Times Roll (Concord Records, 16.04) // Manchester Orchestra – The Million Masks of God (Loma Vista Recordings, 30.04) // Paul Jacobs – Pink Dogs On The Green Grass (Blow The Fuse, 30.04) // The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Uncommon Weather (Slumberland, 09.04) //Alan Vega – Mutator (Sacred Bones, 23.04) // Bill MacKay & Nathan Bowles – Keys (Drag City, 09.04) // Ed Cosens – Fortunes Favour (Distiller Records, 09.04) // GHLOW – Slash And Burn (PNKSLM Recordings, 02.04) // Amigo The Devil – Born Against (Liars Club, 16.04) //The Natvral – Tethers (Dirty Bingo Records, 02.04) // Spirit of the Beehive – ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH, (Saddle Creek, 09.04) //Phantom Handshakes – No More Summer Songs (Z Tapes, 30.04)

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Words: Ikenna Offor Not content with merely being a vital voice in contemporary art, Alaskan Native virtuoso Nicolas Galanin reveals an uncanny knack for immersive songcraft on his vibrantly eclectic debut as Ya Tseen (‘be alive’, a reference to Galanin’s Tlingit name Yeil Ya Tseen). Richly vivified by protean orchestration, Indian Yard ingeniously melds shimmery synth flourishes to reverb-drenched sensibilities, fluidly imbuing its polychromatic palette with a kaleidoscopic lushness. With its irresistible hooks and stellar roster of collaborators – indie-poppers Portugal. The Man (Knives), psych-soulster Nick Hakim (A Feeling Undefined) and the mighty Shabazz Palaces (Synthetic Gods), to name a few – this indelibly seductive record strikes a deft balance between traditionalist and progressive perspectives. A necessary and deliciously ebullient tonic for our frazzled world. Released: 30.04.21 www.yatseen.bandcamp.com

5/5 STANLEY ODD STAY ODD (HANDSOME TRAMP RECORDS) Words: Tracy Hyman The latest album from Scottish hip-hop pioneers Stanley Odd doesn’t disappoint. Accompanied by a 56-page booklet consisting of lyrics, notes, pictures and fan photos, it’s a four-year labour of love and a true piece of art. Tales of wee witches and the journey of a stolen BMX lie side by side with stories of lying politicians and global news. There is a joy in the odd and the everyday. Melodic tunes and vocals contrast the rhythmic structure and skilful rap storytelling. The fairground organ chords and synth sounds in Killswitch are playful and clown-like, a contrast to the seriousness of the message behind the song. Bill Oddie even gets a track dedicated to him complete with sound clip. The message… Stay Odd. Released: 12.04.21 www.stanleyodd.com


ALBUMS

4/5

4/5

4/5

DINOSAUR JR. SWEEP IT INTO SPACE (JAGJAGUWAR)

CONRAD CLIPPER HERON’S BOOK OF DREAMS (LUAU RECORDS)

LOW ISLAND IF YOU COULD HAVE IT ALL AGAIN (EMOTIONAL INTERFACE)

Words: Lee Hammond From the off it’s undeniable who you are listening to; that signature sound draws you in with seething riffs and animalistic drums, it can only be Dinosaur Jr. However, Sweep It Into Space undulates through driving rhythms to the more downbeat and intriguing tracks like To Be Waiting or Garden. The inclusion of Kurt Vile on I Ran Away is immediately evident, and arguably one of the highlights of the record. It’s the ear worm worthy nature of Sweep It Into Space that sets it apart, you’ll find yourself humming along from the first listen. Hook-laden doesn’t do it justice, from the exceptional solo in Hide Another Round to the dour closer of You Wonder, it has it all! Released: 23.04.21 www.dinosaurjr.com

Words: Robert Nichols A simply gorgeous sonic wandering from the anonymous Berlin/Arizona-based composer and multi-instrumentalist, who invites us to open up and dream. Repeated piano refrains resonate and reverberate in a flawless reverie caressed by strings and distant drone. It is both soothing and scintillating, oozing atmosphere. Creeping, seeping melodiously, one track bleeding seamlessly into the next, resulting in a mystical and magical collection. The album was recorded within a space-age Arizona town that is surrounded by desert, performed while viewing an exclusive music festival through a circular window. An otherworldly setting has created an otherworldly creation, and yet this is a warm and tender triumph. Enchanting. Released: 30.04.21 www.conradclipper.bandcamp.com

Words: Tracy Hyman If You Could Have It All Again opens with a pulsating electronic note, a stripped-back atmospheric soundscape building and echoing, carrying a high lilting vocal until it meets with a chaotic end. A more rhythmic, upbeat, electronic dance pop sound takes over. Occasional bursts of distortion emanate on tracks, such as What Do You Stand For, ramping up with electronic patterns and noise over a dance beat. There are moments of gentle beauty too, In Your Arms takes you on a surreal smoke-veiled trip, pulsating notes slipping in and out of tune, driving the song onwards. Lyrics floating above, drifting. An album of contrasts, from gentle to driven, and a worthy debut. Released: 16.04.21 www.lowislandmusic.com

4.5 / 5

4/5

4/5

FIELD MUSIC FLAT WHITE MOON (MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES)

DU BLONDE HOMECOMING (DAEMON T.V)

LEON VYNEHALL RARE, FOREVER (NINJA TUNE)

Words: Lee Hammond Off-kilter pop kings Field Music once again prove deserving of such an accolade, Flat White Moon is an album which fuses serious and sombre lyrics with grooves that you cannot refuse. There is an undertone of darkness that runs through the record, particularly seen in the likes of Out Of The Frame and Not When You’re In Love. The only vague glimmer of hope appearing in the form of You Get Better. However, through this darkness come these incredible tracks that feel so effortlessly exciting. The band retain their signature sound, but it feels somewhat stripped back, it’s a new and different side to Field Music. Flat White Moon is by far some of the Sunderland band’s finest work to date. Released: 23.04.21 www.field-music.co.uk

Words: Paul Brown As one of our most multi-faceted artists, it’s always interesting to hear a new release from Du Blonde, because you’re never quite sure where she’s going to go next. (I’m praying the hints about a forthcoming Happy Hardcore release come true). Freed from the shackles of record labels and all that yawnsome junk, on Homecoming she sounds gloriously fresh and alive. Calling on a stellar cast of collaborators like Shirley Manson, Andy Bell and Ezra Furman, Du Blonde has delivered a lean, enthralling collection of grungy rock songs, blissfully straddling that line between catchy and weird as well as she ever has. I’ve always felt that Beth Jeans Houghton is a local and national treasure and every new release further entrenches that view. Released: 02.04.21 www.dublonde.co.uk

Words: Paul Ray Leon Vynehall’s new album is rough and stark, often prioritising thunderstormy urban atmosphere above immediate dancefloor release, but it contains a highlight incredible enough to more than merit a listen. An Exhale might be the most beautiful, incredible electronic composition I have ever heard in my life. A shuddering, filtering garage beat forms the song’s backbone, and searing streaks of siren-like synth tear across the stereo field like meteors. Twice in a row the song builds and builds until the dance rhythm is totally overwhelmed by this blinding white light, an infinite column of tone-colour threatening to burst out of your headphones. It’s the sort of track that genuinely merits a description as pretentious as the one you’ve just read. Released: 30.04.21 www.vynehall.com

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ALBUMS

5/5

3.5 / 5

4/5

RYLEY WALKER COURSE IN FABLE (BELLA UNION)

JA, PANIK DIE GRUPPE (BUREAU B)

THE CORAL CORAL ISLAND (RUN ON RECORDS)

Words: Michael O’Neill Another fine round of effortlessly enjoyable proggy delight from the Chicago-hailing polymath, Course In Fable is a rich and intricate record which finds Walker once again striking a perfect balance between melodic delight and introspective complexity that builds on the brilliance of 2018’s Deafman Glance. With renowned post-rock maverick John McEntire (of Tortoise, Gastr Del Sol and The Sea And Cake infamy) at the boards, the LP is gloriously unpredictable and refreshing, with Walker always taking caution to ensure his virtuosic command of the six-stringer never gets in the way of his quality songwriting, with the likes of Rang Dizzy favouring a more personal, direct lyrical approach. In short, it’s his magnum opus and a glorious head-trip. Released: 02.04.21 www.ryleywalker.com

Words: Elodie A. Roy Ja, Panik’s sixth studio album sounds like a night without end. I imagine it was recorded in moments of insomnia, in the small, tattered hours of the morning. It all happened in a home studio, somewhere in eastern Austria. This is the after-scene of post-punk – with synthesisers, drum machines and a soulful, wandering saxophone. Andreas Spechtl sings in plaintive, conflicting tones. The words anxiously collide – there is German and English – but meaning lies elsewhere, inarticulate. Die Gruppe is a stifling album. What If reminds me of a darker Talking Heads while On Livestream is a sleek, synth pop tale of life on screens. Although most of the songs evoke feelings of dispersion and disintegration, they are also haunted by visions of solidarity. Released: 30.04.21 www.ja-panik.com

Words: Tom McLean If ever an album provided value for money, The Coral’s 10th studio release, Coral Island, is it. Providing 24 new tracks, including a handful of brief, spoken-word interludes, this is the warm weather, easy listening we’ve been waiting for. There’s something distinctly 70s summer about The Coral, and Welcome To Coral Island heightens that appeal further; you could be forgiven for mistaking smooth ballad Mist On The River for a Moody Blues classic. Likewise, this listener’s pick of the bunch, The Calico Girl, sounds like it’s straight out of Sir Paul McCartney’s song book. A collection of feel-good hits to sip your summer cocktail to. Sit back, relax and remember better times. Released: 30.04.21 www.thecoral.co.uk

5/5

4/5

4/5

BIG | BRAVE VITAL (SOUTHERN LORD)

CHRISTINE OTT TIME TO DIE (GIZEH RECORDS)

MICROCORPS XMIT (ALTER)

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice If the lynchpins of BIG | BRAVE have been in place for some time – Robin Wattie and Mathieu Bell trading minimalistic, folk-informed riffs at maximum volume, allowing time for every possible textural resonance to subsume itself – the fifth album Vital stands as considered evolution played out to revolutionary effect. The borderline telepathic interplay between the trio and the greater sense of focus within the songwriting makes for a record that demands repeat immersion. In her lyrics (as well as the astonishing interpolation of Alexander Chee’s writings in Half Breed), Wattie strikes a balance between metaphysical questioning and concrete response that echoes the band’s dynamic and rhythmic precision: in mirroring our times whilst also pushing against them defiantly, Vital is essential listening. Released: 23.04.21 www.bigbrave.ca

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Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice If ambient music had seemed an ill-fitting tag for the work of composer and multiinstrumentalist Christine Ott before, Time To Die explodes that notion entirely: this is music far too suffused with totemic dread and stark revelation to exist on some background listening playlist. The combination of Ondes Martenot and synthesisers on the title track makes for an especially stormy introduction, but even when Ott returns to the piano on Landscape (which also boasts her wordless, captivating singing), the sense of finality and of passing through a point without return lingers. While this could make Time To Die sound like heavy work, Ott’s clever, spontaneous-sounding melodies and talent for spacious, eloquent arrangements ensures that a sense of beauty always remains. Released: 09.04.21 www.christineott.bandcamp.com

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Be it in his solo work, his collaborations (most notably as one half of avant-pop maestros Grumbling Fur) or in his extensive second career in visual art and graphic novels, Alexander Tucker has remained admirably avoidant of easy categorisation. In his latest incarnation as Microcorps, Tucker pulls at the juxtapositions and connections of the organic and synthesised, with debut album Xmit revelling in busy, disorientating soundscapes that envisage forms of post-singularity dance music. That the Gazelle Twin featuring lead track Xem draws influence from the original Alien makes too much sense: Xmit’s unsettling, perversely enthralling world is such that comparison with H.R. Geiger’s biomechanical art is almost unavoidable. There’s an impish humour behind the ominous electronics, but Xmit demands that the listener meet it on its own terms. Released: 16.04.21 www.microcorps.bandcamp.com


ALBUMS

5/5

3.5 / 5

4.5 / 5

SOCIAL SIMON IN A HOUSE ON A HILL (SELF-RELEASE)

CLAMM BESEECH ME (MEAT MACHINE)

DRY CLEANING NEW LONG LEG (4AD)

Words: Dawn Storey With each listen I become slightly more addicted to the debut solo album from Hope & Social’s Simon Wainwright. Every song within its 36 minutes crackles with vivid colours and textures, articulate and poetic lyrics and unexpected bursts of sound. Winding clocks, crunching gravel footsteps and snippets of news bulletins weave with fragile whispers, hook-laden melodies (Hey There Sunshine and Undone), charming Northern vowels and vocals so powerful they knock you for six (This Is Where I’m Going To Fall). “Bring a little love and your favourite records” he sings on The King and I – and this is shaping up to be one of them. From his hilltop house, Social Simon’s snapshots of pandemic life have stolen my heart. Released 23.04.21 www.socialsimon.bandcamp.com

Words: Robin Webb The Australian hotbed of raucous guitar bands continues its inexorable churning grind of explosive talent. This time hailing from Melbourne, CLAMM issue their kick ass punk debut album to clamour above the throng. Jack, Masie and Miles can certainly pound them out; driving rhythms, nihilistic monotone vocals, nail hard riffs, screeching feedback, stark lyrics – it’s all there. There are some real gems as well, Sucker Punch incessantly never lets you up after slowly bowling you well and truly over, and Keystone Pols blisteringly lambasts the cops and their blustered nonsense; the band definitely sees you. Laden with themes of mental health, materialism, anti-violence and modern angst, CLAMM deal with life with picks and sticks in tightly clenched fists. Released: 09.04.21 www.clammxo.bandcamp.com

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith How does one manage sincerity without resorting to platitude in an age of sneering, ironic, post-modernity? On paper Dry Cleaning are something of an anachronism – a guitar band in the art school mould – but New Long Leg is a kinetic, engrossing listen. This is largely down to Florence Shaw’s impressionistic take on writing lyrics – Dry Cleaning provide a kaleidoscope of detail; fragmented imagery creates a vivid, vulgar, beautiful tapestry of 21st Century British life. First single Scratchcard Lanyard is the tragi-comic internal monologue of the eternally socially anxious with its brutally to the point refrain of “do everything/feel nothing”. Strong Feelings sashays gracefully, coming off like a post-recession Black Box Recorder. It feels like looking at a William Hogarth painting of our bizarre, troubled, ridiculous country. Released: 02.04.21 www.drycleaning.bandcamp.com

4/5

4/5

3/5

JUAN WAUTERS REAL LIFE SITUATIONS (CAPTURED TRACKS)

THE LUCID DREAM THE DEEP END (HOLY ARE YOU RECORDINGS)

MOONTYPE BODIES OF WATER (BORN YESTERDAY RECORDS)

Words: Robin Webb The fifth album by the Uruguayan/New York singer songwriter, and it’s a subtle doozy. Smooth, quirky, full of good feeling, humour and pathos in his epic quest to diarise the world around him. Using a familiar format gluing tracks together with societal snippets, field recordings, YouTube clips and vox pops, the album channels all sorts of influences from yacht-rock, hip-hop, Latin, even Country and Western. He collaborates sublimely with friends from the North American alternative scene such as Mac DeMarco and Cola Boyy. The whole album has a groove even in the most introspective solo folk numbers. Definitely check out the current single Real On The Ol’ Tube; it left me very smiley, as does this release. Released: 30.04.21 www.juanwauters.bandcamp.com

Words: Maria Winter Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream return with the release of their fifth album, The Deep End. Following on from their most successful album, 2018’s Actualisation, the band push the boundaries further, creating something remarkably unique. Including genres of techno, drum ‘n’ bass and hip-hop, this album is filled with energy and musical experimentation. The incredible 11-minute opening song, Coalescence, invites the listener to participate in a euphoric experience, comprised of nightclub-inspired techno beats and synth sounds. From here, you can expect an amalgamation of intricate bass, vocals and musical samples throughout the other tracks, finishing with the only guitar-based song on the album, High And Wild. Produced alongside collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios, Leeds) and frontman Mark Emmerson, this album is a truly unique experience. Released: 02.04.21 www.theluciddream.bandcamp.com

Words: Robin Webb Millennial garage psych, with a plentiful helping of math rock fused with some angelic alto vocals from bassist and singer-songwriter Margaret McCarthy, who is joined by her fellow Oberlin Conservatory graduate friends Ben Cruz and Emerson Hunton on guitar and drums. They have constructed a thoughtful and fairly unique sounding debut album, which has made quite a stir over the pond, garnering comparisons to Galaxie 500 among others and a mention in the most anticipated releases for 2021 by MTV and Bandcamp. The tracks About You and When Will I Learn have some great tuneful hooks and 3 Weeks has a sweet folksiness and are distinct high points that clearly display a fresh talent to look out for in the future. Released: 02.04.21 www.moontype.bandcamp.com

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MIXTAPE WORDS: JESSIE & ANDREW MILLS, CURVY SOUNDS

We run a crazy little musical instrument shop in Heaton called Curvy Sounds. Our shop is a little Aladdin’s cave of musical treasures from around the world; stringed, wind and percussion, with an eclectic collection of vintage and second-hand guitars. We have held on through lockdown mainly due to Andrew’s hard graft, fretting away in his booth, repairing guitars. Until we reopen fully, we are currently in the shop from 12pm-5.30pm Tuesday to Friday, so you can knock at the door and we will serve you on the doorstep. You can also buy on our website, make an appointment via Facebook, email curvysounds@yahoo.com or ring 0191 4474342. We will reopen on Tuesday 20th April and look forward so much to seeing everybody from our incredible, brave and resilient musical community. Here are just a few of our favourite tracks. www.curvysounds.co.uk

HENGE INDIGO DUST We have just recently discovered this crazy band from Manchester. Their music is bouncy, uplifting and hilarious and their insane outfits are a joy to behold! This tune has become our favourite tune to boogie to in lockdown. Our kids know all the words to Demilitarise and sing along in the back of the car. Listen

JANE WEAVER THE ARCHITECT Amazing motorik artist with great texture of sound, constantly creating forward thinking music! Listen

VINCE GIRALDI LITTLE BIRDIE He is at the heart of our family listening. His music makes everything feel homely and happy. Listen

BROADCAST COME ON LET’S GO This is beautiful – it’s one of life’s great crimes that singer Trish Keenan died so young. Broadcast are possibly Andrew’s favourite band! Listen

MAXÏMO PARK FEELINGS I’M SUPPOSED TO FEEL This is from Maxïmo Park’s latest album and it’s amazing piece of work that they largely produced in lockdown. Listen

MARTHA HILL GRILLED CHEESE This local musician and one of our much loved customers, has made it onto BBC 6Music playlists, and is we think is destined to go far. She has an amazing voice with brilliant lyrics and a great urgent and energetic sound. Listen

PADDY STEER OMNI PEANUT PUPPET MASTER A psychedelic one-man-band, dressed as a robot, who creates intricate tunes of mental, compelling, dance music. We danced like nutters at Cluny 2 before lockdown (thanks to Wandering Oak for putting it on!) We have often dreamed of that night of wonderful, sweaty abandon, dancing on a crammed dance floor...we long to dance together again. Listen

COURTNEY BARNETT ELEVATOR OPERATOR Her lazy sleepy voice and funny lyrics are little stories that paint moments in life with great attention to detail. An inspiration to young women to pick up a guitar! Listen

THIS IS THE KIT NO SUCH THING This is a record we could listen to everyday. It reminds us of the light filtering through the leaves of the trees, in musical form. A sense of light, movement and nature, just what is needed right now. Listen

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

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POOR MOI TINY CIRCLES Ben Fitzgerald’s distinctive voice, great lyrics and guitar combine in this great band, complete with luscious lap steel, keyboard, a great shuffle on the drums and check out that bass! Listen

NILES KREIGER AND BERTIE ARMSTRONG HERE’S THE TENDER COMING An amazing folk duo who make the hairs on our arms stand on end and fills our hearts with a sense of longing! Magic! Listen

BALTER ERICA’S An exquisite tune which is beautifully crafted by this quartet of extremely talented folk. Listen

ARCHIPELAGO HOWZAT TV SESSION Archipelago are a great and fantabulous jazz trio who always excite and delight the ears. Their performance on Howzat TV was a highlight. Listen

GEORGE WELCH AND CHRISTINE JEANS HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT Always so entertaining and beautiful to listen to, this is their take on the Tom Waits song. Listen

KHRUANGBIN EVAN FINDS THE THIRD ROOM This band is utterly unique, each member has such a distinctive voice of their own. Listen


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NARC. #171 April 2021  

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