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ISSUE174

JULY21

DYLAN CARTLIDGE ABI NYXX ZELA TRUNKY JUNO SONIC ARTS WEEK

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DO YOU WANT TO BE A MUSIC & CULTURE WRITER PODCASTER BROADCASTER PROGRAMME MAKER ? NARC ACADEMY will support four

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people aged 18-25 to develop skills required for careers in music journalism, publishing and broadcasting. During the six-month programme, our expert team will provide mentoring, workshops, networking and hands-on opportunities.

ENVELOPE NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM

APPLY ONLINE ALIGN-LEFT BIT.LY/NARCACADEMYAPPLICATION Deadline Monday 19th July

NARC. ACADEMY is a paid opportunity for young people aged 18-25, and has been possible thanks to funding from Youth Music.

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PREVIEWS 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

Our pick of the best events in July

6 | JULY PREVIEWS

ISSUE174

JULY21

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

Live music courtesy of Chloe Castro, Holly Rees, Scott Free, James Leonard Hewitson, Summer Streets returns to Sunderland, Summer Sessions at Middlesbrough Town Hall, The Globe in Newcastle host their summer festival and loads more; plus new releases from L Devine, HAV and The False Poets. There’s comedy at The Stand and The Witham; Antony Gormley brings his exhibition to NGCA; Luke Haines is at Eston Arts Centre; art exhibitions courtesy of Ad Minoliti, Urban & Eastern Productions, Bobby Benjamin, Rachel Brook and more; not to mention Orange Pip Market, live theatre shows and GemArts Masala Festival. Phew!

INTERVIEWS 23 | ABI NYXX 26 | NEWCASTLE FRINGE FESTIVAL 24 | DYLAN CARTLIDGE

Steve Spithray talks to Teesside hip-hop and soul star Dylan Cartlidge about collaboration without compromising, the power of positivity and his fast-rising fame

Greetings Dear Constant Readers. It’s an absolute delight having NARC. back in print, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing our readers’ photos of real life magazines in the flesh at venues across the region – keep posting them on social media and help us spread the word! My thoughts have increasingly been turning to how we here at NARC. can use our position to help others; maybe it’s my advancing age (I celebrated a significant birthday +1 in June, and the only benefit to come from it so far is getting double jabbed against COVID), but it’s clear that we all fare better when the music and culture scene is strong and healthy. As many of you will know, I do the occasional workshop for musicians, helping them to navigate the murky world of press and promotion, but this month we’re excited to launch a brand new initiative that will benefit writers too. Thanks to some funding from Youth Music we’re launching NARC. Academy, a six-month programme for people aged 18-25 to help them develop skills required for careers in journalism, broadcasting and publishing. Our experienced and knowledgeable team will support four young people through mentoring, workshops, seminars and hands-on experience to learn everything we do here at NARC., from writing about music and culture to digital programme making and event management, and much more besides. Those interested should apply via the form online: bit.ly/narcacademyapplication or drop us an email at narcmedia@gmail.com. The deadline for applications is Monday 19th July.

27 POLESTAR LIVE SESSIONS 28 | AMATEUR TREPANNING 29 | NOPRISM 30 | NEVER NORMAL 31 | KING OF THE SEA 33 | NE-O 34 | THESE HILLS ARE OURS 35 | TRUNKY JUNO 36 | SONIC ARTS WEEK 37 | ZELA REVIEWS

Editor Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Website David Saunders narcmagazineonline@gmail.com Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Stay social, connect with us NARC.magazine @narc_magazine @narcmagazine NARCmagazineTV

Contributors Paul Broadhead / Paul Brown / Kristopher Cook / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Lee Hammond / Louise Henry / Tracy Hyman / Beverley Knight / Ben Lowes-Smith / Kate Murphy / Robert Nichols / Ikenna Offor / Stephen Oliver / Michael O’Neill / Nicola Owen / Helen Redfern / Damian Robinson / Elodie A Roy / Steve Spithray / Dawn Storey / Linsey Teggert / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Cameron Wright

39 | DEMOS

Featuring Smiley People, Marie Johns, Bad Blood, Massey featuring Scrannabis and Mexican Painkiller

40 | TRACKS

Reviews of singles by North East artists including Onlooker, Chop5, Shamu, Vigilance State, Jodie Nicholson, Waves of Dread, Beccy Owen & The Refuge, Crimson Bloom, The Redroom, Ram-Z, Sarah Connolly and Jen Stevens

42 | ALBUMS

VISIT US ONLINE WWW.NARCMAGAZINE.COM

New releases from Pizzagirl, The Go! Team, Charlie Parr, Snapped Ankles, Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth, Gemma Cullingford, Emma-Jean Thackray, Darkside, Yola, Moin, The Holy Family, Lump, Rejjie Snow, Will Wilder, Maxine Funke, Anika, Desperate Journalist, Wavves, Charli Adams, Dead Nature and Molly Burch

46 | MIXTAPE

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

Adam Gallagher from Famous Last Words compiles a Mixtape full of tunes you’ll hear at Middlesbrough Empire’s brand new Dead Rebel Club night

Next Issue Out 28th July

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PREVIEWS JULY’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE CUTTING EDGE PHOTOGRAPHY, AN ARTY MARKET, THRILLING LIVE DANCE AND AN ALL-AGES GIG. ENJOY!

ART & LIT

EVENTS

WHAT I WOULD LIKE A joyful exhibition from Arabian artist Kubra

ART MOUSE SUMMER MARKET The fabulous Art Mouse host a wonderfully

UNTIL SATURDAY 31

Müjde celebrates the 40th year of venerable institution Newcastle Arts Centre. The exhibition draws inspiration from feelings of freedom and creativity and the artist’s work is colourful and engaging. Newcastle Arts Centre www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk

ART & LIT

UNTIL SATURDAY 31

CELEBRATING HIDDEN MIDDLESBROUGH A series of artist commissions reveal some of

the hidden stories of Middlesbrough’s heritage, displaying work by artists originally commissioned for the alternative gallery space in the pedestrian underpass Tunnel Gallery including Sara Cooper, WAX Photography Collective, Connor Clements, Annie O’Donnell and North East Statues. Held at newly reopened creative space, The Masham. The Masham, Middlesbrough www.navigatornorth.co.uk

ART & LIT

UNTIL MARCH 2022

SUTAPA BISWAS The recently reopened Gateshead gallery

features a tempting exhibition from the prominent Black Arts Movement artist. Her work investigates themes of motherhood, migration, memory, loss and temporality through drawings, photography and the moving image. New film Lumen maps a semi-fictional narrative of migration evoking memories of the artist’s journey by sea between Mumbai and Dover. BALTIC, Gateshead www.baltic.art

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SATURDAY 3

welcoming market, featuring arty stalls from the likes of Slutmouth, Little Olive Designs, Red Sky Gifts, Soulshine Surprise, Terrible by Hana, Betty & The Lovecats, Jade Lenehan, Wild Lamb Illustration and Art Mouse Illustration themselves. Plus there’s vegan and veggie food and a vintage clothing sale. Base Camp, Middlesbrough www.facebook.com/artmousepromotions

STAGE

MUSIC

SATURDAY 10 PONYLAND

Ponyland are one of the most exciting live bands you’re likely to see; the North East’s “unhinged masked menagerie” play a crazy concoction of psychedelic punky jazz complete with tribal rhythms and improvised mayhem. Seeing them in a venue as intimate as The Globe will be a proper treat. The Globe, Newcastle www.ponyland.bandcamp.com

MUSIC

SATURDAY 10 THE SHACKLETON TRIO

TroY, dancers Yamit Salazar and Eliot Smith. Image by Eliot Smith Danc

SUNDAY 4 HOMECOMING Local dance company Eliot Smith

return to in-person live performances with the announcement of their new programme. Performances include Yamit Salazar’s Bloom which tells stories of strength, beauty and diversity and Eliot Smith’s TroY, a modern adaptation of the Greek story performed by four male dancers and exploring identity and gender. Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle www.eliotsmithdance.com

The Shackleton Trio’s fusion of folk standards and lively self-penned tunes show why they’re one of the most in demand bands on the folk circuit. Distinctive songwriting is made all the more magical by spirited instrumentation, with a live show that will have you dancing in your seats. Gosforth Civic Theatre, Newcastle www.shackletontrio.co.uk

MUSIC

SUNDAY 11 HAPPY SUNDAYS

A marvellous venture between a couple of local promoters, it’s great to see Happy Sundays return with their all ages shows. This one features a poppy, folky, toe-tapping line-up which includes Dressed Like Wolves, Young Property Developers, Bertie Armstrong and Yakka Doon. Runs from 1.30pm-5pm. The Tower Cafe, Leazes Park, Newcastle www.is.gd/HappySundays


WHATS ON

JULY HIGHLIGHTS STAGE

MUSIC

FRIDAY 23

STEVE PILGRIM As well as enjoying a career as a guitarist in bands like The Stands, Cast and alongside Paul Weller, Steve Pilgrim’s also an accomplished solo artist with a string of albums under his belt demonstrating his melancholic and intimate sound. He also performs a (sold out) show at Bobik’s in Newcastle on Saturday 24th. The Green Room, Stockton www.stevepilgrim.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT

SATURDAY 17 LETTERS OF HOPE After putting out an open call for people

Image by Alex Lake

to write letters of hope during the pandemic, Uncaged Aerial Theatre will share the letters of hope created by their community, woven into beautiful aerial performances alongside live music from contemporary classical composer Philip Alexander. The show will also be livestreamed. Penshaw Monument, Sunderland www.spacehive.com/letters-of-hope

MONDAY 12 CAITLIN MORAN Journalist, author and all-round rabble rouser Caitlin Moran talks about her new book More Than A Woman, which is described as “a hymn to the women in the 30s and 40s and their supernatural ability to deal with grey hair, hangovers that last for days and ageing parents”. Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle www.caitlinmoran.co.uk

ART & LIT

USA EMBASSY, ‘Solidarity’ (MAY 2020) Tom Sussex

MUSIC

SATURDAY 17

YES GRASSHOPPER/ PADDY STEER Local promoters Inverted Grim-Mill are

spoiling us with this pretty amazing line-up featuring party noise rockers Yes Grasshopper, Mancunian multi-instrumentalist Paddy Steer and busking phenomenon The Junkoactive Wasteman & The Tin Can Twins. The fact it’ll be socially distanced and nicely chilled out, should only add to its allure (and popularity – grab tickets quickly!) The Cluny, Newcastle www.facebook.com/invertedgrimmill

SATURDAY 17 YOUTH RISING IN THE UK 1981-2021 Bringing together the work of nine

photographers who have documented young people in the UK over a period of 40 years, this exhibition features work by celebrated photographers including Chris Killip, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Alys Tomlinson, Maryam Wahid, Sadie Catt, Tom Sussex, Christopher Nunn, Paul Alexander Knox and Vanessa Winship . Runs until Sunday 3rd October. Side Gallery, Newcastle www.amber-online.com

MUSIC

MONDAY 26

THE PALPS Having garnered comparisons to the likes of The Raincoats, Richard Dawson and Moby Grape, North East lo-fi prog quartet The Palps’ sound draws influence from Pink Floyd, Rush, Tool and American Football and, alongside support from psych/Kosmische rockers The Type Five, they’ll make a grand ol’ racket in this superbly intimate venue. The Engine Room, North Shields www.thepalps.com

FILM

WEDNESDAY 28

45 MOVIE CLUB The proceeds from these music-related film screenings will go towards funding a vinyl single release by a local artist. The film this month is Liberation Day, which tells of ex-Yugoslavian/Slovenian cult band Laibach’s gig in North Korea, their struggles with censorship and getting rock ‘n’ roll to an unsuspecting audience. Bobik’s, Newcastle www.bobiks.com

EVENTS

WEDNESDAY 28

DURHAM FRINGE FESTIVAL Expect a raucous line-up of magic, dance, stand-up comedy, drag, aerial acts, live bands, cabaret and much more at the Durham Fringe Festival, which takes over venues throughout the City. The Fringe encourages audiences to try something new, with over 30 different shows from acts across the North East and beyond. Runs until Sunday 1st August. Various venues, Durham www.durhamfringe.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

LUKE HAINES - Liver Sausage (Mark Rollerball Rocco) by Luke Haines

ART & LIT

LUKE HAINES @ ESTON ARTS CENTRE

Words: Ali Welford As frontman of revered ‘90s outfit The Auteurs, a widely acclaimed solo artist and collaborator as well as a best-selling author, Luke Haines has spent the past three decades accumulating a body of work to rank among the UK’s chief cult creatives. Those maverick talents enter another new medium this month, as a

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decade-long pastime culminates in his debut art exhibition, Uncanny Island. Running at Middlesbrough’s Eston Arts Centre from Friday 9th-Saturday 31st July, Uncanny Island presents a collision of passions via a series of psychedelic acrylic and oil visions of ‘70s and ‘80s wrestlers. It’s a hobby Haines dates back to the recording of his 2011 concept album Nine And A Half Psychedelic Visions of British Wrestling From the Late 1970s to the Early ‘80s, and these specially painted canvases represent his most fully realised World of Sport-era likenesses to date. Perhaps the pièce de résistance, however, comes in the form of a fully embellished Fall

Christmas tree – a creation which began life as a series of custom-painted baubles gifted to friends bearing the faces of the legendary Mancunians’ members. Now expanded to feature every performer from the band’s chaotic 42-year history, the tree houses a total of 66 portraits, pitting familiar faces alongside those long-forgotten. As yet, there’s no word on whether Mark E Smith is cast as the tree-topping angel… Luke Haines presents Uncanny Island at Eston Arts Centre, Middlesbrough from Friday 9th-Saturday 31st July www.facebook.com/estonartscentre


OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

MUSIC

HAV RELEASE NEW ALBUM, HAAR

Words: Cameron Wright Across the release’s six tracks, the listener is sucked into Newcastle band HAV’s world and willingly held captive for its duration. Caught in a bubble, the project floats you up between the clouds and leaves you suspended, hanging over a Celtic paradise. As endless greenery, interspersed with a babbling brook that

unwinds into the blue of the sky become visible and tangible, the tranquillity and warmth emanating from this ambient folk record is staggering. The album feels authentic and experienced, as each story is brilliantly retold for the listener. The cohesive release unfolds, chapter by chapter, until their narrative finds its natural conclusion. Wrapping traditional Scottish instrumentation around neo-classical compositions, ornamented hypnotic loops and twinkling alterations, the album feels unfailingly honest and genuine from beginning to end. As melancholy pianos are gently embraced and elevated by a calculated and emotionally driven

PREVIEWS

assortment of sounds, each section of the release is poignant and touching. Haar is the second album to come from HAV, yet their sound already feels complete and impactful. Each transition from the grandiose to the soberingly isolated feels human, with minimal lyrics the band tell a very clear and personal story about the changing of times and the need to persist through darkness to find the light. When vocals are used, Iona Fyfe and Bridie Jackson encapsulate the album’s heart perfectly HAV release Haar on 2nd July www.havband.bandcamp.com

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PREVIEWS

Ad Minoliti, May You Live In Interesting Times, exhibition view, 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Andrea Rossetti

ART & LIT

AD MINOLITI @ BALTIC

Words: Nicola Owen BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead will host Biosfera Peluche/Biosphere Plush, Ad Minoliti’s first solo show in the UK. In their work, Minoliti uses geometry and colour as a tool for creating alternative universes and speculative pictorial fiction influenced by feminist and queer thought. Trained as a painter, they draw on the rich legacy of geometric abstraction in Latin America which embraces playfulness in painting and painted on irregular shaped canvases. Biosfera Peluche/Biosphere Plush has been conceived as a community centre open to all, offering a space for intersectional feminist education and fantasy. The exhibition features Minoliti’s ongoing project The Feminist School of Painting, transforming part of the gallery space into an active classroom. Through bi-weekly painting workshops, the school will deconstruct historical narratives and re-imagine the traditional genre of landscape painting from a feminist, intersectional and queer perspective. In partnership with a multidisciplinary group of artists, academics, writers and activists, the workshops will re-evaluate the structure of art education and promote accessibility, creativity and curiosity. Building on Minoliti’s interest of

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shedding light on feminist and queer artistic practice, the exhibition also includes an international library of queer and feminist zines, which will grow during the course of the exhibition. Ad Minoliti’s Biosfera Peluche/Biosphere Plush is at BALTIC, Gateshead from Saturday 24th July-Sunday 8th May 2022 www.baltic.art

EVENTS

GEMARTS MASALA FESTIVAL

Words: Claire Dupree Dynamic local organisation GemArts shine a light on South Asian culture through diverse programming of exciting performance and participatory projects, often collaborating with promoters and venues like Sage Gateshead and Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music to bring thrilling performers to the region. This year’s Masala Festival, their annual celebration of South Asian arts and culture, fuses in person and online events in a programme which includes international collaborations, award-winning poets, new commissions, workshops, talks and incredible music, dance and visual arts spanning traditional and contemporary genres. Running from Saturday 17th-Sunday 25th July,

highlights include their opening event at Alphabetti entitled Bor(neo): North + East, a spoken word investigation into themes around identity, marginalisation and dualism in an exciting collaboration between poets from Borneo and Northern England (Saturday 17th); Narivad (Feminism in Sanskrit) promises to be a fascinating online artist talk with Sofia Barton and Lady Kitt, who discuss the Indian suffragettes who helped shaped feminism (Monday 19th); also online, award-winning poet and dancer Tishani Doshi reads from her new poetry collection A God At The Door and chats with author John Challis about her work (Tuesday 20th); Tattoo Stories is an engrossing podcast about tattooing and the stories and history of body art by Vimal Korpal, which launches on Wednesday 21st; the unique piano and tabla collaboration of Helen Anahita Wilson and Shahbaz Hussain visits The Lit & Phil for what promises to be a special performance (Friday 23rd); and there’s more music at The Globe when award-winning sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun brings his unique energy and vision to Indian classical and contemporary music (Sunday 25th) as part of the venue’s Summer Festival. GemArts’ Masala Festival takes place from Saturday 17th-Sunday 25th July at various venues and online www.gemarts.org


PREVIEWS

James Leonard Hewitson by Nick Wesson

MUSIC

JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON RELEASES NEW EP, COMMERCIAL

Words: Louise Henry Remember the scene in American Psycho, where Christian Bale and his fellow stockbrokers compare their nigh on identical business cards, a Top Trumps of which font has the daftest name and the glossiest finish? This, according to James Leonard Hewitson, is the perfect analogy for British society today. The constant competition, race for achievement – the “flying, buying and perspiring” as he puts it – was the driving force behind his latest EP, Commercial. Pissed off by capitalism, materialism and, of course, the limitations and devastation imposed by a worldwide pandemic, the EP was born following the success of his 2020 album Only The Noise Will Save Me. The whole thing came together in Liverpool’s DIY Quarry Studios, whose industrial setting served as an inspiring backdrop for the tracks; a stark contrast to the commercial world he was railing against. The result? A synthy, meta-pop nod to Talking

Heads, peppered with witty, insightful observations; everything we’ve come to expect from Leonard Hewitson. Single Temporary Values is a wry, poppy track that on the surface appears to be light-hearted, lamenting the price of fast food whilst examining the complexities of moral and economic values. Commercial serves as a brilliant, lively time capsule for the last few months; after a second listen, you might almost be as angry as James himself. James Leonard Hewitson releases Commercial EP on 29th July. He performs at South Durham Social Club (aka The Steelies), Hartlepool on Friday 30th July with support from Waves of Dread, Faithful Johannes and The Mighty Chihuahua www.jamesleonardhewitson.com

STAGE

PAUSE @ ALPHABETTI

Words: Helen Redfern Directed by North East theatre director Mark Calvert with music by Northern composer Jeremy Bradfield, Pause is an uplifting love story about film and how we all often use it to make day-to-day blockbusting escapes from

the harsh realities of life right now. As Werner Herzog remarked, “I would travel down to hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary.” I guess most of us have a film or two in mind that would fall into that category. Played by Paula Penman, originally from Ayrshire now based in Newcastle, the main character goes through the motions of everyday life, cohabiting with loneliness and imagination. This script is written by award-winning writer Laura Lindow who’s proudly lived and worked in the North East for over 20 years. You might know her as writer of the Snow Queen for Northern Stage or Director of Key Change for Open Clasp. Believing that by challenging themselves physically, mentally and conceptually, they inevitably challenge the audience, Alphabetti Theatre strives to make theatre that is relatable and accessible to all. Pause will be performed to a socially distanced live audience and every performance will also be livestreamed for an online audience. Tickets must be booked in advance with a Pay What You Feel scheme in operation. Pause runs at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 6th-Saturday 17th July www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Eliza & Martin Carthy

MUSIC

THE GLOBE NEWCASTLE SUMMER FESTIVAL

Words: Tracy Hyman Newcastle’s Globe venue presents their first three-day multi-genre festival this month with everything from folk to jazz and classical to rock. Working with local music promoters and organisations, including Bradley Creswick, GemArts’ Masala Festival, Jazz North East and Born Lippy, The Globe have put on a world class line-up with both in-person and livestream tickets available for the event which runs from Friday 23rd-Sunday 25th July. Friday night kicks off the weekend with a feast of folk music headlined by legendary, award-winning father and daughter duo, Eliza and Martin Carthy, supported by Newcastlebased Bertie Armstrong and Niles Krieger blending together American and English folk. On Saturday afternoon a solo set from Tommy, the drummer of evening headliners’ Holy Moly and the Crackers’ starts off the day, before spoken word, poetry and comedy collective Born Lippy take over, culminating with some 1950s Chicago blues-style sounds from The King Bees. The evening session leads with Sam Barratt, before a full band slot from the

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innovative and fiery folk rockers Holy Moly & The Crackers provide the night time entertainment, topped with DJs Rob Heron and Stagger Lee Fisher’s mix of classic ska, reggae, soul and funk. Sunday morning sees the classical sound of former Royal Northern Sinfonia leader Bradley Creswick and friends, followed by a traditional North Indian classical performance by award-winning sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun, accompanied by tabla player Harkiret Bahra. The evening session brings the traditional jazz of the Tenement Jazz band and some of Manchester’s finest young improvisers in the Nishla Quintet. Tickets are £10 or £15 for a single session and £20 or £25 for a day ticket. The Globe Newcastle presents their Summer Festival from Friday 23rd-Sunday 25th July www.theglobenewcastle.bar

MUSIC

DANICA DARES RELEASE NEW ALBUM, CURATING THE LUNATIC

Words: Laura Doyle Whoever said the internet is a dodgy place to be? We’ve all got a lot to thank it for, especially

those of us who have spent the last year and a half glued to screens, working from home. Now, we have something else to credit it with; without it, we wouldn’t have the debut album from Danica Dares to appreciate. The indie synth three-piece found each other through the web in a chance encounter that revealed their shared music taste and aspirations, and unlike most hypotheticals discussed in a Zoom meeting over lockdown, they’ve only gone and actually done something. Curating The Lunatic is what has come out of this burgeoning creative collaboration: ten songs with familial resemblance, but each of which deviate uniquely from within their genre’s parameters. Album opener Giving It Away showcases vocalist Harriet McBain’s ethereal qualities to a backing that wouldn’t be out of place on a Jim Henson film soundtrack; the Goth moodiness of Bullets encapsulates Danica Dares’ ability to flit easily between classical song structure and spoken word set to melody that can be found throughout the record; while the magic of Curating The Lunatic is perhaps best expressed by its finale, Conversational Bypass, with its interdimensional electronica permeating your eardrums. It’s unclear which realm Danica Dares occupy, but with this record we are all transported. Danica Dares release Curating The Lunatic on 30th July www.danicadares.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

L Devine

MUSIC

L DEVINE RELEASES EP, NEAR LIFE EXPERIENCE: PART 1

Words: Claire Dupree It should perhaps come as no surprise that L Devine has emerged as a fully-fledged pop star; anyone who witnessed her early incarnations (previously known as Olivia Devine) will have seen her star potential. Warner Records certainly did, and the Whitley Bay-born songwriter was snapped up and whisked away to the big leagues, re-emerging as an alt. pop anti-hero who has been hailed as “the motherfucking future of pop” by Charli XCX. This month she releases her EP Near Life Experience: Part 1, and it’s a masterclass in bold alt. pop; with tracks rarely topping three minutes, Devine’s honest, often storytellingstyle lyrics are at the forefront of a release which sparkles with polish while also managing to be delightfully edgy. The sparse instrumentation of Priorities brings to mind Janelle Monáe’s sonic experimentation;

Off The Grid demonstrates an intriguing line between R’n’B and doomy pop; and Be In Her Bedroom is a multi-faceted and honest tale of admiration; while the glacial percussion on recent single Don’t Say It contributes to an alt. pop banger of epic proportions. With tracks like the funk-fuelled Naked Alone and the electro bop of new single Girls Like Sex, Devine takes a thrillingly assertive position on sexuality. “For me, this song is about reclaiming my sexuality and flipping the tired old narrative that sex is for men and feelings are for women on its head. I want the song to empower women having casual sex.” She says of the track. L Devine releases Near Life Experience: Part 1 on 23rd July www.ldevinemusic.com

EVENTS

ORANGE PIP MARKET

Words: Steve Spithray One of the things I missed most during the first three seasons of lockdown was being able to mooch and mingle amongst hawkers and food stands taking in the sights, sounds and smells

of a hand crafted fog horn or a freshly baked bao. So, the return of Middlesbrough’s Orange Pip market this month really does bring back a lusty last-Saturday-of-every-month sense of normality for me. After a break of 18 months due to you-knowwhat, Orange Pip returns on Saturday 31st July with a heady but familiar mix of food stalls, artisan activities and live music. The main event has relocated to Centre Square from nearby Baker and Bedford Streets, to ensure COVID safety, but the new Fringe Pip event will continue on the iconic terraced streets. Foodies will be delighted by the return of regulars including Armenian Family, the Clucking Pig, Fat Hippo and Fancy a Tipple while new kids on the foodie block include lockdown legends Northern Portions, serving up epic sandwiches and Maple & Dough’s thick vegan cookies. Live music includes folk blues from Leeds City Stompers, rap from Sam Summers and a summer sounds DJ set too. And brand new for Fringe Pip sees Finn Forster take to the Soapbox for an acoustic performance. Orange Pip Market will be in Centre Square and Baker and Bedford Street on Saturday 31st July from 12-7pm www.facebook.com/orangepipmarket

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PREVIEWS

Moon Wax by Keavey Gamwell

MUSIC

SUMMER SESSIONS @ MIDDLESBROUGH TOWN HALL

Words: Michael O’Neill Whilst we eagerly await the apparent ‘return to normality’ to bring full-blown festivals along with it, Middlesbrough Town Hall have worked up a tantalising stopgap in the form of their Summer

Sessions. A series of gigs that boast a refreshingly broad and diverse selection of local artists, the Summer Sessions promise mini-festival vibes, replete with beer garden and an unprecedented opportunity to relive the glorious euphoria of discovering emerging talent. Beginning with a double-bill of indie-folk-pop stalwarts Finn Forster and Alistair James (1st July), the Summer Sessions are taking place every Thursday evening through July and August and feature Jake Radio (Be Quiet. Shout Loud!) and Jen Dixon (8th July) Marketplace and Luke Royalty (15th July), Moon Wax and Charlotte

UNCANNY ISLAND

LUKE HAINES

Uncanny Island is Luke Haines debut art exhibition. Featuring a Fall Xmas Tree and psychedelic visions - in acrylic and oils on canvas - of British wrestlers from the 1970s and early ‘80s.

Preview: July 8 / 5.30 - 7.30pm July 9 - July 31

ESTON ARTS CENTRE 176 - 178 High Street, Eston, Middlesbrough. TS6 9JA.

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Grayson (22nd July) Jodie Nicholson and Amelia Coburn (29th July), Joe Ramsey and Eve Conway (5th August), The Lulas and Leddie MC (12th August) concluding with Michael Gallagher and Shakk (26th August). As we start to slowly head towards the return of good old proper gigs and festivals, and the diverse talent on offer within the Summer Sessions is a sobering reminder of all the phenomenal talent that will continue to thrive as live music, as we know it, begins to find its feet again. www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Expanded Interiors, image by Amedeo Benestante

ART & LIT

NEW LIGHT PRIZE EXHIBITION @ BISCUIT FACTORY

Words: Beverley Knight The New Light Prize Exhibition shines on artists with a connection to the North in the contemporary art world, including local beacons such as Narbi Price, Gavin Watson, Paul Morgan, Maria Laffey, Imogen Perkin, Chris Polunin and Cat Moore. Hosted at the Biscuit Factory in Shieldfield, and taking place from Friday 4th June-Sunday 29th August, the gallery will continue in their mission to champion emerging and established creators through awards. Biscuit Factory’s general manager Rachel Brown comments: “New Light has been dedicated over the past 10 years to raising the profile of Northern artists, and the Prize Exhibition is an integral platform to the promotion of our region in the art world. We naturally share that goal and are very much looking forward to welcoming these artists to the gallery for such an important group exhibition.” New Light development director, Rebekah Tadd says of the display: “We’re delighted to bring the

New Light Prize Exhibition to The Biscuit Factory this Summer. Such an exceptional exhibition of inspiring, contemporary work deserves to be showcased across the region it celebrates, and we’re thrilled to be able to finally bring the show to the North East for visitors to enjoy.” Five prize winners join over 100 other achievers in the UK, and over 125 works, where viewers gain the chance to vote for the Visitors Choice award. Further recognition of the Ouseburn and Newcastle’s bustling scene, this year’s show is New Light’s most generous yet, offering worthy insight into Northern art and other creations from around the country. New Light Prize Exhibition is on display at Biscuit Factory, Newcastle from Friday 4th June-Sunday 29th August www.thebiscuitfactory.com

COMEDY

METROLAND SERIES 2

Words: Claire Dupree Having made virtual waves last year with their mockumentary comedy sketch show Metroland, North East creatives Jack Stanley Robertson, Jon Dole and Caden Elliot have returned with a new series.

Metroland’s characters, from sweary pensioners to pretentious creatives, take a sideways swipe at Northern culture, but for series two the group have progressed away from the moc-doc format and challenged themselves to come up with edgier, more surreal sketches; from the coat-hanger divining gurning farmers of Kellogs Farmers to the downright bizarre poly-family birthing sketch of Doctor Sass. Jack Robertson explains: “We created Metroland as a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to the industry for the lack of creativity and originality over the last five years, we never intended or expected it to get the response that it has, it feels good to compensate for the scattered exposure of alternative comedy in the North East, but since giving the industry the finger more people want to work with us, so we must be doing something right... Right?. As an actor who struggles to fit into any predetermined casting bracket, locally and outside of Newcastle, it was almost therapeutic being able to just write and perform these sketches and build our Metroland team. It’s punk, and the fact that it’s struck a chord with people of the North East is just mental.” Metroland series 2 begins on Sunday 4th July via their YouTube, Facebook and Instagram pages – follow them at Metroland Comedy. www.facebook.com/metrolandcomedy

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PREVIEWS

My Barbie Life, image by Krista Puranen Wilson, Urban & Eastern Productions

ART & LIT

MY BARBIE LIFE: FROM GRIEF TO RELIEF @ ORBIS PROJECT SPACE Words: Claire Dupree Many of us at NARC. still feel the loss of our contributor and friend Craig Puranen Wilson, who lost his life to cancer in 2018 and whose creativity and positivity was a real inspiration to anyone who met him. His wife Krista, an artist and designer whose creative work spans everything from music to fashion, turned to art in an effort to understand the grief she was feeling. The result is a photo exhibition, My Barbie Life: From Grief to Relief, which launches at Orbis Project Space in Newcastle’s Commercial Union House this month under Krista’s Urban & Eastern Productions moniker. While taking a break at her parents’ house in her native Finland, Krista came across her old Barbie doll and began taking photos with it, depicting Barbie doing the everyday tasks and living the life that Krista knew. “My little moments with my

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Barbie proved to be exactly what I needed. A moment spent ‘playing’ again, not needing to think about anything else going on in my life. This little doll gave me a respite from my grief and soon I found her to be following around with my daily life, doing what I was doing. She was going to art galleries, doing shopping, meeting up with friends and doing occasional modelling.” The photo exhibition is at once a charming and innocent reminisce on childhood joys, as well as a poignant and affecting tale of coping with grief. My Barbie Life: From Grief To Relief by Urban & Eastern Productions is at Orbis Project Space, Newcastle from Monday 19th-Friday 30th July www.facebook.com/urbanandeastern

MUSIC

FALSE POETS RELEASE NEW ALBUM, STRANGE SEASON Words: Cameron Wright After their 2019 debut, the Durham-based indie collective False Poets have been gaining traction and drawing attention due to their nostalgic rock

sound. Their self-titled debut was a fun romp through the past, playfully reciting the troupes of 60s rock ‘n’ roll. With charmingly approachable harmonies, jangling guitars and bouncing drums, the debut was torn straight from the textbook of the times. The band’s following project, Strange Season, certainly sees False Poets evolve their sound. Although the record may still feel imitative at points, there’s clearly an intention to break away from exhausted clichés. As the album unfolds, the band begins to expand their pallet; Moonstruck immediately differentiates from everything prior, and the release is better for it – the eerie bass lines are embellished with splashes of guitar and a weary vocal and the track offers an engaging and alluring sound that plays directly to the band’s strengths, allowing them to feel far more comfortable. From this point onward, the album seems fuelled with an impressive desire to grow and forge their own identity. The release is an undeniably interesting one, that’s hiding some genuinely exciting potential. False Poets release Strange Season on 2nd July www.thefalsepoets.bandcamp.com


PREVIEWS

The Two Fridas - Performer from Balbir Singh Dance Company, image by Malcolm Johnson

MUSIC

THE LINK OPENS AT THE GLOBE, STOCKTON Words: Dawn Storey The Link – a multi-functional space adjoining the newly restored Stockton Globe – opens this month, subject to any amended government guidance. Intended to become a creative community hub for the high street, it will be a café, bar and entertainment space in its own right alongside the iconic main venue, and plans to host an exciting programme of live acts on weekends during July and August. It launches on Thursday 15th July with a livestream featuring North East musicians plus a very special host. A free programme of events will follow at the venue throughout their first month. “Live At The Link provides an intimate gig and performance space for local emerging artists, and will help to develop the talent pipeline,” says general manager Jo Ager. “We are working closely with local venues and promoters to make sure this fits in with the vibrant grassroots scene in Stockton and Teesside. We will be exploring working with groups in the community to create a creative and safe space.” The Live At The Link programme will work with

BBC Introducing, Tees Music Alliance and other grassroots organisations in the area as part of their evening programming, and also offering a light food menu during the day. Keep an eye on the venue’s website for more line-up info. www.stocktonglobe.co.uk

STAGE

THE TWO FRIDAS @ VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Words: Beverley Knight Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is a cultural icon that is the subject of magnitudes of artistic and commercial expression. Airing their representation is Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance, where – in collaboration with Balbir Singh Dance Company – live performances of The Two Fridas will be shown across Billingham, County Durham, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton over the next two months. Kahlo’s famous self-portrait is granted a new lease of life through storytelling, dance and music, where Kahlo shares the spotlight with Hungarian-Indian progressive painter Amrita Sher-Gil. Balbir Singh of Yorkshire-based Balbir

Singh Dance Company comments: “This show represents how two women’s struggle to tackle adversity can be used as an inspiration for us all to deal with what life throws at us.” To cement correct authenticity, accuracy was enhanced by the careful eye of Manchester-based Mexican consultant Magaly Flores of Mexican dance company Colibri. The 50-minute piece which praises two thought-provoking figures also treats the audience to live painting from a different local artist each time, who cherishes a connection with the individual venues. Olga Maloney, Artistic Director of the festival, says: “We want to provide audiences with a delightful display of dance theatre performance that people have been craving for the past 12 months. The Two Fridas will have something to whet the palette throughout the summer.” The Two Fridas is performed at Ushaw College Garden, County Durham on Saturday 10th July; Darlington Mark Square on Thursday 22nd July; Preston Park Museum in Stockton (date TBC); Albert Park in Middlesbrough (Saturday 7th August); Tees Barrage, Stockton on Sunday 8th August; The Forum Theatre, Billingham on Friday 13th August and Kirkleatham Museum in Redcar on Sunday 22nd August www.billinghamfestival.com

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PREVIEWS

Scott Free

MUSIC

SCOTT FREE LAUNCHES NEW ALBUM THE MEXICAN OF LOVE @ CURVY SOUNDS

Words: Robert Nichols Durham singer songwriter Scott Free launches his second solo album, The Mexican of Love, with a gig at Heaton’s Curvy Sounds on Friday 9th July. Soaring high as an eagle with this soothing, escapist, charm offensive, Scott draws inspiration from turn of the 70s artists and outlook. In a tenor style not unlike Neil Young, or even former Gorkys Zygotic Mynci Euros Childs, Scott espouses that we’ve got places to go. He is inviting us to leave behind pandemic pandemonium in dreary towns and join him in slow adventures in an idolised, sun-kissed, 70s Mexican retreat. Plenty of tongue in cheek puns throughout, as you might have guessed from the album title. It is an acoustic driven long player where a burst of recorder, harmonica or fuzzy electric adds colour and depth to the palette of acoustic guitar and voice. Post-production involved Maximo Park’s Duncan Lloyd, Polestar’s Alex Blamire and Luke Oldfield (son of Mike Oldfield). How is that for 70s/2020s stamps of approval? In true 70s fashion, the album is available on a

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limited run of 50 cassettes as well as digital format from Scott’s Bandcamp. You may just be able to pick up a copy at the launch party at Newcastle’s Curvy Sounds, which will provide an intimate setting with a very limited capacity so contact the shop or artist in advance to grab your space. Scott Free launches The Mexican of Love, with support from Jenni Mac, at Curvy Sounds, Newcastle on Friday 9th July www.scottfreemusic.bandcamp.com

EVENTS

SUMMER STREETS @ VARIOUS VENUES, SUNDERLAND

Words: Claire Dupree I think we can all agree that it’s about time we had some fun, so the return of the glorious Summer Streets festival is a welcome one indeed. Taking place throughout Sunderland from Friday 16th-Monday 19th July, the music, arts and community festival will host events both online and in person, with everything free to access. The line-up is pretty special, and features visceral rock rabble-rousers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, who will perform the first gig at Sunderland institution Pop Recs Ltd.’s new venue, with a couple of superbly chosen

supports in alt. jazzers Archipelago and indie punks Roxy Girls (Monday 19th). Another highlight will be Mercury-nominated epic rockers Lanterns on the Lake, who perform an intimate show at The Peacock, with special guests Me Lost Me and Nadedja (Sunday 18th). A pop-up outdoor performance from New York Brass Band will bring a taste of New Orleans to Roker seafront; there’s a live performance (and exclusive beatbox workshop for under 9s) with UK beatboxing champ Grace Savage (Sunday 18th); spoken word troupe Born Lippy present their poetry slam (Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th); plus alternative circus and a fun, floral pop-up performance of Wildflower from Curious Arts. Online performances include the classy classical sounds of Royal Northern Sinfonia, who present a special streamed performance of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony conducted by new principal conductor Dinis Sousa; a screening of specially commissioned documentary about Sunderland’s amazing Young Musician’s Project; Sunderland-based Strange Things? Collective will run online creative journaling workshops; visual artist Josie Brookes will be illustrating the festival throughout the weekend via Instagram live and the official website and award-winning composer Ben Lunn works with students from the fabulous Autism Able charity alongside producers Portions For Foxes to create original material released during the festival. Summer Streets takes place at various venues and online from Friday 16th-Monday 19th July www.summerstreetsfestival.com


PREVIEWS

Hexham Book Festival - Grace Dent

COMEDY

FUNNY WAY TO BE EDINBURGH PREVIEWS @ THE WITHAM

Words: Nicola Owen Fancy a bit of the Edinburgh Festival but without the extortionate prices, mountains of flyers and throngs of ambitious entertainers vying for their big break? ‘Course you do, and Teesside comedy promoter Funny Way To Be has got your back. A top line-up of comics will present their star making material on Saturday 17th and Saturday 31st July in Barnard Castle at The Witham. Saturday 17th sees Brennan Reece, Jo Caulfield, Alfie Moore and Carl Hutchinson step up. Brennan Reece has appeared on Live At The Apollo; Jo Caulfield is a sharp-witted, award-winning comedian who is regularly seen on TV panel shows like Mock The Week; Alfie Moore brings a live version of his Radio 4 programme It’s A Fair Cop to the stage and Carl Hutchinson steps out from supporting roles into the limelight. Saturday 31st sees Lauren Pattison, Lloyd Griffith, Kieran Hodgson and Stephen Bailey spin some comedy gold. Lauren Pattison is widely regarded as one of the region’s most exciting up and coming comics; you may have seen Lloyd Griffith goofing about on Soccer AM; while Kieran Hodgson is ‘Edinburgh Festival royalty’ and

Stephen Bailey’s friendly and open brand of gossipy humour has made him one of the UK’s most exciting up-and-coming acts in comedy at the moment. Funny Way To Be presents Edinburgh Preview shows at The Witham, Barnard Castle on Saturday 17th and Saturday 31st July www.funnywaytobe.weebly.com

ART & LIT

HEXHAM BOOK FESTIVAL

Words: Louise Henry While the future of camping festivals hangs in the balance, Hexham is flying the flag with one of the very first in-person festivals taking place this year, following the cancellation of their 2020 event, but you won’t find any raucous music or moshing here... From Friday 2nd–Sunday 11th July, the Hexham Abbey grounds and new, temporary spaces in Sele Park will be home to authors and audiences (albeit with restricted numbers) from across the literary sphere, along with a host of activities for families and children. Of particular note amongst a line-up brimming with talent is Guardian restaurant critic Grace Dent who shares tales of her childhood dinner table in Carlisle, chronicling her life, loves and losses though food in a sold-out show, following the success of her recently published memoir,

Hungry. Later in the evening, much loved poet Hollie McNish will take to the Spiegeltent to dig deeper into the human condition and all its complexities with wit, honesty, and emotion (Sunday 4th). Other highlights include Lib Dem Councillor for Tower Hamlets, Rubina Khan, challenging misconceptions and outdated views about British Muslim women, inspired in part by an interaction in which a male mayoral candidate asked what colour her hair was under her veil (Saturday 3rd). Also exploring privilege, values and the complexity of British society is Hashi Mohamed, who examines his findings on social mobility in People like Us (Sunday 4th). Comedy fans will be pleased to see Mark Watson closing the festival on Sunday 11th, although folks familiar only with his stand-up, might be in for a surprise. Here he celebrates his sixth novel, Contacts, a funny but moving tale of loneliness, desperation, and the importance of communication. Other big names include Tez Ilyas, Dan Jackson, Jonathan Dimbleby, Paul Mason, Sir Oliver Letwin, Mike Berners-Lee, Jung Chang, Lisa Jewell, Loyd Grossman and Kevin Maxwell. Accompanied for the first time by a full children’s programme, the festival is a proper family favourite, so nab tickets while you still can. Hexham Book Festival takes place from Friday 2nd-Sunday 11th July www.hexhambookfestival.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Chloe Castro by Verbind Media.jpg

MUSIC

CHLOE CASTRO/THE LULAS @ BASE CAMP

Words: Michael O’Neill Ten Feet Tall’s marvellous Base Camp in Middlesbrough has steadfastly established itself as a hotbed for emerging creativity in the past couple of years, and the marvellous line-up coming up on Saturday 24th July is a testament to the brilliantly diverse and enthralling offerings that the venue continues to offer. Headlining is Durham-based R&B/soul artist Chloe Castro, whose fresh contemporary R&B stylings have reached as far as Radio 1 and 1Xtra. Her recent EP, Amid, is chock full of crystalline grooves and power, and her sound is a fresh addition to the fast-emerging (and hugely refreshing) wave of R&B-indebted acts in the North East. Support arrives in the form of colourful groovy popsmiths The Lulas. Hailing from Teesside, the quartet deal in sun-soaked, hook-laden pop that you could eat your dinner off. Recent singles such as Down Nook Road,

Pink Socks and Wish are the work of a ridiculously versatile set of songwriters, carefully melding witty, sharp lyrics with pristine musicianship and a wealth of character. Between the two acts, this bill is a blissful reminder of how much the musical community North East continues to be refreshingly diverse and versatile. Entry is free, so it’s a total no-brainer if you’re a fun-loving poptimist. Chloe Castro and The Lulas play Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 24th July www.facebook.com/basecampboro

ART & LIT

BOBBY BENJAMIN: GIBBO IS GOD @ ARC

Words: Steve Spithray Bobby Benjamin returns with his first solo exhibition in three years. GIBBO IS GOD will take place at ARC Stockton and sees the Middlesbrough artist and Pineapple Black co-curator present a collection of over 30 previously unseen works, exploring themes key

to his life such as class and place, and is the first of a three-part exhibition across three venues throughout 2021. GIBBO IS GOD is being co-curated by award winning artist and Picasso Baby co-curator John James Perangie and will delve into the visual language and cultural currency of poverty by presenting an idiosyncratic response to his lived experiences while also paying homage to some of his favourite pieces of graffiti from across the region. The artist has said of the exhibition: “My intention for this collection is to attempt to reconcile two very different worlds – the one in which I live and the one in which I exhibit. The exhibition explores serious themes that affect my life and many of those around me but is also reflective of my own attitude towards them. It is a uniquely human trait to be able to laugh through tragedy and I think this exhibition tackles prevalent issues but not without a sense of humour.” Bobby Benjamin exhibits GIBBO IS GOD from Friday 2nd July-Saturday 7th August at ARC, Stockton www.instagram.com/bobbybenjamin

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PREVIEWS

Holly Rees by Will Gorman

MUSIC

HOLLY REES @ THE GLOBE, NEWCASTLE

Words: Ali Welford Although restrictions on events now extend deep into the summer, The Globe’s socially distanced music programme continues unabated, providing artists with a stage and listeners with a shot of escapism – be it in person, or within the confines of their own home. True, Saturday nights still aren’t what they used to be, yet a small contingent is in for a treat on 17th July courtesy of a performance from one of the local scene’s best-loved singer-songwriters. Namechecked by BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and often compared to the likes of Courtney Barnett, Newcastle’s Holly Rees has built a loyal following over recent years with her earnest and emotionally resonant brand of indie rock, now expanded with the backing and added punch of a full band. This new configuration was in the midst of its maiden UK jaunt when the pandemic hit, and understandably Rees is out to make up

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for lost time, promising “new tunes, new tours and new nonsense” over the coming months. That reboot gets underway in earnest at The Globe, her first performance before a live audience for some 10 months. Spaces are limited, yet those who miss out, can’t make it or are still hesitant over attending events can still enjoy festivities – whilst supporting both the artist and venue – via ticketed live stream. Holly Rees performs at The Globe, Newcastle on Saturday 17th July www.hollyrees.co.uk

COMEDY

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS @ THE STAND Words: Tracy Hyman Newcastle’s much-loved comedy club, The Stand, have joyously returned to their weekend shows, with a whole host of fabulous comedy line-ups on offer every Friday and Saturday night. Three comedians plus one compere come together to provide 90 minutes of entertainment,

making one fun-filled night. Highlights this month include Lost Voice Guy Friday 2nd/ Saturday 3rd), Kai Humphries (Friday 9th/ Saturday 10th), Fred MacAulay (Friday 16th/ Saturday 17th), Dave Johns and newcomer Amy Matthews (Friday 23rd/Saturday 24th) and Katherine Tanney plus compere Matt Reed (Friday 30th/Saturday 31st), with loads more supporting acts to be announced. Be quick to book as the capacity is limited to 91 to make things as comfortable and safe as possible for everyone. Other shows of note this month include Tiff Stevenson’s 2019 critically acclaimed solo show Mother, which delves into the extreme sport of womanhood and Tiff’s vision of the future, free from class war, poverty and consent issues (Tuesday 6th); and Newcastle’s legendary improv troupe The Suggestibles return with Carry On Improvising (Thursday 15th), 80 minutes of socially distanced, un-sanitised hilarity, all based on your suggestions, guaranteed to provide a roller-coaster of madcap and irreverent hilarity. www.thestand.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Field for the British Isles by Sir Antony Gormley

ART & LIT

ANTONY GORMLEY: FIELD FOR THE BRITISH ISLES @ NGCA Words: Helen Redfern Anyone who has seen the image of Antony Gormley’s Field For The British Isles will agree it’s a stunning and thought-provoking one. A familiar image – a sea of 40,000 unique simple figures in shades of terracotta all looking up, each non distinct, just holes for eyes, no other features,

shapeless bare clay bodies – and yet together, what an impact! Now we have the opportunity to witness this epic installation at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) at National Glass Centre, Sunderland, from Saturday 24th July until Saturday 25th September. This is the first time Gormley, creator of the Angel of the North, has exhibited in Sunderland. 25 years ago, more than 25,000 people flocked to see this major art installation in Gateshead. Today, chosen by Sunderland Culture’s Art Champions – a group of nine local people with no formal arts training but a passion and interest to discover more about modern and contemporary art – this artwork is on loan from

the prestigious Arts Council Collection and is the first exhibition of sculpture in the new 2,500sq ft gallery at National Glass Centre. What a wonderful way to mark the NGCA’s 50th anniversary! During the duration of the exhibition a rich summer programme of activities for schools and families around Field For The British Isles will be on offer, including four family ceramics workshops, two Family Days, takeaway ceramics kits and a digital/print exhibition resource. Antony Gormley: Field For The British Isles is at NGCA, Sunderland from Saturday 24th July until Saturday 25th September www.sunderlandculture.org.uk

THE CUMBERLAND ARMS

JULY

On the Terrace

SATURDAY 3RD JULY CLASSICAL CONCERTS ON THE TERRACE WITH SEMIBREVE DUO 1PM SUNDAY 4TH JULY LAZY SUNDAYS WITH STAGGER LEE 2PM SATURDAY JULY 10TH JUMPIN’ ON THE TERRACE WITH STAGGER LEE 2PM SUNDAY 11TH JULY CLASSICAL CONCERTS ON THE TERRACE WITH BENJAMIN FITZGERALD 1PM DJ AWKWARD BLACK GIRL 2PM

SATURDAY 17TH JULY JULY RETRO PRIDE ON THE TYNE WITH ORIGINAL ROCK AND DORIS DJ’ANES 5PM THURSDAY 22ND JULY JONNY LEE’S OUTDOOR LOUNGE 7PM SUNDAY 25TH JULY CLASSICAL CONCERTS ON THE TERRACE WITH JENNI WINTER 1PM RETRO DJ LADY KOO 2PM SATURDAY 31ST JULY CUBANOS AND COCKTAILS ON THE TERRACE WITH DJ K 2PM

DRINKS * FOOD * MUSIC * COMEDY * POETRY

July’s events will be pay as you feel events book tickets at cumbybookings@gmail.com For more info go to Facebook: /thecumby 21


PREVIEWS

Behold the Tesseract by Rachel Brook

MUSIC

RACHEL BROOK: BEHOLD @ B&D STUDIOS

Words: Nicola Owen Digital production Behold is a mixed media visual art exhibition from emerging North East artist Rachel Brook. Rachel’s artist film work presents a range of dream-like perspectives, often combining surrealism with art documentary. Rachel says: “The exhibition title is a shortened version of the main exhibition image Behold The Tesseract. It is a celebration of the tesseract (or hyper cube), a four dimensional shape that can be observed from multiple perspectives. Each time you view the shape you see something new, observing the shape from multiple angles, considering the different interconnected cubes forming the whole shape and the central point of focus, seemingly changing position before your eyes or when you look again.” The exhibition, which runs at Newcastle’s B&D Studios from Thursday 22nd-Thursday 29th July was inspired by the shared experience we’ve all gone through, as Rachel explains: “I began to think philosophically about the tesseract during the first UK lockdown and what it represented to me about my understanding of the world and the lives of so many people interlinked by common ground and yet fragmented by individual

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experience. I feel like we exist right now in this pivotal moment in history where polarised sociopolitical consciousness is becoming more blurred and spherical.” On the day of the exhibition a minted, one-of-a-kind animation of the exhibition’s title piece will be uploaded to the NFT (Non Fungible Token) trading website Rarible.com and made available for auction. Rachel Brook presents Behold at B&D Studios from Thursday 22nd-Thursday 29th July www.instagram.com/placeholder_visual_art

STAGE

NORTHERN STAGE PRESENTS: TRAILER STORY

Words: Claire Dupree Their doors may not be open just yet, but Newcastle’s Northern Stage are still determined to bring important stories to audiences across the region. Taking place from Friday 30th July-Sunday 1st August, Trailer Story is a travelling outdoor performance space, which will present a programme of work by local and national artists, with community at the forefront. In the spirit of bringing people together, Trailer Story will reclaim public spaces and present a safe and

joyous event. Locations are TBC, so keep an eye on the venue’s website for further info. Northern Stage recently announced their Autumn season, which will see the venue welcome audiences back into the building for the first time since March 2020. Joyfully entitled Housewarming, the season of shows will include the critically acclaimed tale of a working class hero, The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff (7-18 Sept); BEYOND-supported artist gobscure presents a highly visual performance in their production Provoked to Madness by the Brutality of Wealth (1 Oct); Teesside playwright Scott Turnbull brings his sci-fi comedy Tales From The Smog to Newcastle (4-6 Oct); Curious Arts present an evening of comedy, theatre and performance from Queer Northern talent (7 Oct); artistic director Natalie Ibu will direct her first production, Jim Cartwright’s Road (8-30 Oct); Sarah Gonnet’s Gaze looks at the stories women inherit and carry with them (25 Nov); plus there’s magical family productions including The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (27 Nov-31 Dec). The theatre also continue their ongoing work in the Byker community, which will see Paines Plough’s state-of-the-art touring venue, Roundabout, present a vast array of work for all ages including North East drag trio Bonnie & The Bonnettes, Northern Stage’s Young Company and a rehearsed reading of Lindsay Rodden’s powerful new play, Here (12-15 Aug). www.northernstage.co.uk


INTERVIEWS MUSIC

ABI NYXX

Image by Inkonspicuous

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO THE NORTHUMBERLAND RAPPER ABOUT HER GENRE-BLURRING STYLE AND STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD “I live in Alnwick. It’s the middle of retirement-home nowhere. I swear to God I must be the only rapper from there.” Abi Nyxx’s route into rapping is probably a fairly typical one; seeking out the North East music scene through a combination of “luck, boredom and stubbornness” the Northumberland artist has become one of the most talked about MCs on the scene thanks to her fast flow, lyrical prowess and ability to turn her hand to any genre. Abi explains that she’s developed her skills out of necessity: “My boredom drove me to create videos of me rapping and singing and being an idiot in my room, and it was luck that these videos got picked up by events promoters from Newcastle, and the North East music scene at large. My philosophy with creating and posting these things was that I would give people no choice but to notice me.” Abi’s versatility and restless spirit is undoubtedly her crowning glory. Recent single Suffocated takes an electro pop route to demonstrate her superb vocals, interspersed with her trademark fast rapping, while previously released track The Promise is full of quickwitted fury. “I do like to keep listeners on their toes, like: ‘Will she be singing this time? Rapping? Will it be grime or drum ‘n’ bass or rock?’” She says, of her genre-blurring style. “[My sound is like] tonal whiplash. A bit of everything, here and there. Obviously, I have my signature kind of sounds: bassy rap tunes, punchy and aggressive verses fused with wispy vocals which can turn intense at any moment. Harmonies, reverb, longing, anger.” Having got into hip-hop through battle rap, Abi admits that much of her material carries a gritty need to prove something. “I went into rapping with this belief that I would have to shout louder, say more,

I WENT INTO RAPPING WITH THIS BELIEF THAT I WOULD HAVE TO SHOUT LOUDER, SAY MORE, MAKE DOUBLE THE IMPACT, TO BE NOTICED AS A PETITE LITTLE WHITE GIRL make double the impact, to be noticed as a petite little white girl. Proving myself, overcoming adversities of self-doubt and knockbacks, that’s a pervasive theme for sure.” She admits that recent work has turned more introspective, as she investigates her own fears and intrusive thoughts, grappling with a recently diagnosed Borderline Personality Disorder through her lyrics. “While I didn’t know this when I was writing my songs, I can hear it in the lines, the struggle therein, and the inner conflict of what is me vs what is my disorder. This is a theme that I would like to explore more.” Admitting that inspiration comes faster than the motivation to keep to a proper release plan, Abi has a couple of tracks in the pipeline. “I have two very fast-flow, rap orientated tracks at the ready, as well as a collab with local artist Left-Blank which is ready to go. These will be my next releases as I want to remind everyone of my abilities. Just because Abi Nyxx makes synth pop tunes doesn’t mean she won’t beat you in a battle in the same breath!” Abi Nyxx performs at The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 3rd July www.facebook.com/abinyxx

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COVER FEATURE

MUSIC

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COVER FEATURE

THIS RECORD IS MY LIFE’S WORK, IT’S VERY MUCH A PERSONAL TALE OF REDEMPTION

DYLAN CARTLIDGE

STEVE SPITHRAY TALKS TO TEESSIDE HIP-HOP AND SOUL STAR DYLAN CARTLIDGE ABOUT COLLABORATION WITHOUT COMPROMISING, THE POWER OF POSITIVITY AND HIS FAST-RISING FAME Many readers will no doubt be familiar with Dylan Cartlidge’s smooth and confident take on the alt. rap sound; having been compared to such luminaries of the scene as Outkast, he valiantly strives to reconcile the twin kingdoms of funk and soul. Others may remember his front of house role in The Mighty Redcar TV documentary series in 2018, and see his major label publishing deal and American press soirées as, at least a version of, a rags to riches story. A romantic notion which is not necessarily how Dylan sees it, as we will hear. Having spent most of lockdown shielding in the less salubrious and sunshiny surrounds of Middlesbrough, Dylan is keen to kick on with the release of his debut album. “Since I was a kid I’ve had chronic asthma, so the first seven months of lockdown I didn’t even leave the house.” Dylan holed up with his partner in Linthorpe Village where he converted a spare room into a home studio of sorts to help satisfy his creative energies. “I took all my gadgets and put them in the man cave! Usually I would be in a studio with Wurlitzers and synths and all sorts of toys and I would be jumping on them and grooving but this record, that I’ve primarily written over the course of lockdown, has focused a lot more on musicality.” Dylan worked with Brother Beyond’s Eg White on the record and it’s clear there was a mutual respect between the pair. “He’d play stuff and then I’d play stuff, which is something that I wasn’t used to. I used to religiously play everything myself but I realised I was being over-prescriptive and that you can collaborate in a way that doesn’t compromise on creative freedom. So, I don’t have to be so granular about every nook and cranny on the record. It also gave me time to do a lot more production which I haven’t really done before. We realised the music we were making together was a halfway house between my roots and hip-hop sound and his old-school Sly and the Family Stone freshness.” But, it’s still a hip-hop album as Dylan explained: “I’m a rapper first and foremost but I have to accept things have changed and grown since then. When I work with different people it brings out different influences because I’m a massive fan of all different types of music. Gospel and soul, but very much still underpinned by bass and beats.” The album, Hope Above Adversity, is released in July and Dylan confessed he is looking forward to the release after the success of recent single Anything Could Happen, which made the top 40 Alternative Airplay Chart in America in April. “I’m with an American label [Dylan is signed to Glassnote Records in America, former home to Childish Gambino], so there’s been lots of American promo, especially with the song getting in to the Billboard Charts. The plan is to get the live show ship-shape for the end of the year and promote

the album, hopefully in America as well as things open up. I’m looking to get some keys and organ going on and some backing singers. Nothing too crazy but hopefully to incorporate that 70s musicality a bit more.” There’s that rootsy, retro stance again and pushed on his more contemporary influences Dylan would only rattle off: “Stromae, Kanye West production-wise, Kid Cudi is a massive influence of mine. Black Keys, I’m a big Jack White fan…”, managing to nail his whole musical vibe in one sentence. “This record is my life’s work, it’s very much a personal tale of redemption. My music has always been about authenticity and showing that regardless of your circumstances – I’m a young black dude raised in social care who has past trauma – you can achieve what you want to achieve with a little bit of luck and elbow grease.” Dylan’s difficult childhood was well documented in The Mighty Redcar, though nowadays his positivity is infectious. However, it is these early life lessons that still resonate with the rapper. “For a long time I didn’t talk about, or even know, I’d experienced trauma and I didn’t have therapy until I was 22 and started to realise that the things I thought as a child were normal, dreadful, dreadful things that had become normal in my life weren’t... Who I am at my core as a person, the whole nature/nurture thing, is what everybody knows about me. My outlook for years was a far cry from how I was feeling on the inside and the turbulence and struggle I was having because I needed to stay strong for other people.” One of the album’s standout tracks, Family, is a soul masterclass about such struggles. “I had my family until my family broke down” is perhaps the prescriptive lyrical interface Dylan touched on earlier, but ultimately the redemptive message triumphs. “My positive stuff is obviously just that, but too much optimism is bad and too much pessimism is bad. There is a lot of toxic positivity online whereby not acknowledging your shortcomings and darker moments can be really repressive and damaging, and these songs are about how I got from point A to point B. Not to say I’m on cloud nine in a limousine having a great time, but more so that the songs are the blueprints of how I got to point B.” Dylan Cartlidge releases Hope Above Adversity via Glassnote Records on 9th July. He plays The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Wednesday 27th October www.dylancartlidge.com

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INTERVIEW

STAGE

L-R: The Oedipus Album, 600 People by Third Angel, image by Ed Collier

NEWCASTLE FRINGE FESTIVAL

CLAIRE DUPREE DISCOVERS SOUND INSTALLATIONS, PERFORMANCE ART, TWISTED COMEDY AND MUCH MORE AT ALPHABETTI Staunch advocates of regional practitioners, fiercely independent theatre Alphabetti are also driven to work with touring companies who provide vital opportunities for audiences to immerse themselves in diverse stories. Their Newcastle Fringe Festival has always been a place for innovation to thrive, with a programme of theatre, comedy, music, spoken word, film screenings and much more taking place from Tuesday 27th July until Saturday 7th August. All shows will take place both in person and online, and tickets are (as always) Pay What You Feel. The programme has something for everyone: 39 Horses, presented by local theatre maker Izaak Gledhill, is an immersive lip-syncing comedic journey which shares the joy and dubious wisdom of taxi drivers in the North East (throughout the festival, Tues/Weds/Fri/ Sat only); fantasy and reality collide in Paperback Theatre’s twisted romantic comedy Me & My Doll, in which an inflatable doll comes to life (Tuesday 27th July); the ever-creative artist gobscure presents ‘rose carved in rain’, which draws on childhood wisdom and big-kid dissent (Wednesday 28th July); The Oedipus Album promises a kaleidoscopic adventure into sound and vision thanks to live art alt. electro pop band Pecho Mama, which features songs laced with heartbreak and grief and set to a soundtrack of prog-rock, electronica and techno (Friday 30th July); there’s more music from The Folding Desert, with elements of R&B, jazz, electronic and improvised sounds (Friday 6th August); and a tense and unusual tale of Franz Woyzeck sees the young soldier grapple with reality in Woyzeck (Saturday 31st July). Diverse voices and otherworldly themes are prevalent in the programme: told through an unflinching autofiction narrative,

DIVERSE VOICES AND OTHERWORLDLY THEMES ARE PREVALENT IN THE PROGRAMME 26

queer Zimbabwean writer and curator mandla rae scrambles to piece together their life in their production ‘as british as watermelon’, which explores mandla’s fragmented asylum and migration memories (Thursday 29th July); inspired by the “voices in the sea”, the utterly beguiling [whalesong] is Xavier Velastin’s sound-centred creation, a fusion of experimental gig, immersive sound installation and performance art which incorporates bioacoustic research data and global mythology to present a celebration of the diversity of the ocean (Tuesday 3rd August). Also set to be a real highlight is a collaborative production from disabled artists Lisette Auton and Richard Boggie, who present a rehearsed reading of Chop, Dissolve, Burn, a dark comedy which pokes fun at society’s attitudes towards disability (Wednesday 4th August). We can all agree it’s about time we had some fun, and there’s plenty of laughter on hand too. Comedy Muslim First Dates looks at how third generation Muslim women navigate the dating scene whilst keeping in line with tradition, and promises to be a fascinating insight into culture and religion co-produced by Alphabetti and non-profit organisation Other Stories, who use performance and creative expression to generate conversations around underrepresented communities (Friday 30th July); Retrained is a chaotic exploration into ‘unviable artists’ from theatre troupe In Bed With My Brother (Thursday 5th August); Third Angel bridge the gap between astrophysics and stand-up comedy with 600 People, exploring how we think about evolution, intelligence, belief, communication and space travel (Friday 6th August). Providing a fitting end to the festival, Ugly Bucket theatre company process the death of a friend via a high energy maelstrom of clowning, movement, verbatim and thumping techno in Good Grief (Saturday 7th August). Newcastle Fringe Festival takes place at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 27th July-Saturday 7th August www.newcastlefringe.co.uk


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

L-R, T-B: Kay Greyson, bigfatbig by Ryan Young, Lizzie Esau by Victoria Wai

POLESTAR LIVE SESSIONS CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO POLESTAR’S PAULINE MURRAY AND ALEX BLAMIRE ABOUT THEIR SERIES OF EXCITING LIVESTREAMED SHOWS It’s safe to say the ‘hybrid gig’ is here to stay and, while online performances can’t replace the thrill of an ‘in person’ live show, the benefits afforded by digital programming for performers and audiences alike are undeniable. Livestreaming is increasingly playing a part in the survival of other businesses which make up the musical economy, and Newcastle studio Polestar are among the latest to make their online debut. The Polestar Live Sessions will be a showcase of some of the most exciting grassroots musicians in the region, livestreamed from Polestar Studios via their Facebook page every fortnight from Thursday 1st July. As part of the sessions, audiences can enjoy eight livestreamed gigs across four months, plus loads more digital content. “We want our streams to be top quality, give an insight into new music and the music industry and to support the Polestar Live Session musicians make their mark on the regional scene.” Says Polestar’s Pauline Murray. The Arts Council funded project will provide a safe, supportive and creative space for musicians to perform, with support from experienced technical teams. “Our artists will also have access to livestream advice and guidance so they can bring to life their creative vision for their performance both conceptually and technically.” Performances in July come from Bajan-Geordie rapper Kay Greyson (Thursday 1st); alt. pop songwriter Lizzie Esau (Thursday 15th); and grrrl gang rockers bigfatbig (Thursday 29th), with more performers to be announced in the coming weeks. “Through our heavy involvement with local music, both as a rehearsal/recording studio as well as music lovers ourselves, we have curated a diverse line-up of some of the artists we love at the moment.” Alex says of the performances. “We’ve tried to keep the series cohesive too, and we

THE POLESTAR LIVE SESSIONS WILL BE A SHOWCASE OF SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING GRASSROOTS MUSICIANS IN THE REGION feel have captured an exciting, contemporary group of artists that audiences will love. Picking the artists has been really difficult as there is so much good music in the North East at the moment, each selected artists is one to watch in their own right and brings something different to our Polestar Live Sessions programme.” As a much-loved cornerstone of the region’s music industry, the “small but mighty” studio has – like many others – suffered greatly as a result of successive lockdowns. It’s been a challenging year like no other, but Pauline and the Polestar team are determined to continue to offer musicians the top-notch facilities they’ve come to expect, plus a whole lot more. “As a dedicated music facility for over thirty years mainly for rehearsals supporting bands, we will continue to offer the support we did post-pandemic. We will continue to develop the studio space, integrate new innovations and tech and evolve with the times – this will be essential to our survival and next chapter. We will also use our refurbished recording studio live room to host small intimate events that can be recorded, filmed and livestreamed, supporting artists to make YouTube videos, digital and podcast content alongside more of our Polestar Live Session episodes.” Polestar Live Sessions take place via their Facebook page every fortnight from Thursday 1st July at 7.30pm www.facebook.com/polestarstudios

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

AMATEUR TREPANNING LAURA DOYLE TALKS TO BEN LOWES-SMITH ABOUT VENTURING OUTSIDE HIS COMFORT ZONE WITH HIS NEW RECORD While most of us longed for any degree of normalcy throughout the pandemic, local musician Ben Lowes-Smith was delving deep into a decidedly different pastime: Kosmische music. This niche interest in avant-garde German electronic music was inspiration enough to venture outside his comfort zone for this new project, the exquisitely named Amateur Trepanning. “It’s a little phrase I had knocking around for a while that I thought was quite funny, because it implies the existence of professional trepanning. When I started recording in the bleak winter, the process felt like a release of pressure… Kosmische music is German electronic rock music from the 1970s; I wanted to get completely out of my head and listen to something exotic and futuristic. Listening to other contemporary DIY artists made me think ‘I can have a go at this’.” Amateur Trepanning is decidedly different from Ben’s other work in indie pop band Slow Decades. “I distinctly wanted to do something different from what I’d normally be associated with, so I really put myself out of my comfort zone. I can’t really play keyboard or synthesizer, but I got cheap ones and messed about. Just put your fingers where it sounds nice, just mess about and have fun, and never lose that sense of play.” The resultant record is an interesting and unique ride. Lo-fi melodies overlap and build to create intricate experimental soundscapes that undoubtedly take a couple spins to click, but once

I WANTED TO GET COMPLETELY OUT OF MY HEAD AND LISTEN TO SOMETHING EXOTIC AND FUTURISTIC. LISTENING TO OTHER CONTEMPORARY DIY ARTISTS MADE ME THINK ‘I CAN HAVE A GO AT THIS’ 28

they do it makes for an enlightening experience. Ben had a simple aim with this music, which further imbues it with a detached, ethereal quality. “When you’re younger, you think of ‘the song’ as this untouchable thing that you really have to strive for. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided – with the way my mind works – to make it effortless and to just do it as a matter of course. Obviously there are certain preoccupations on the record – gentrification, the way cities work and reading around that a bit – but with all the words on this, I didn’t think about them too hard, and put down how I was feeling, and seeing what I could piece together.” Amateur Trepanning was largely born out of necessity: lockdown and restrictions has made it difficult for traditional, group music-making activities – hence this solo work born and bred in the spare room of a pent up musician. So, while any future project along these lines isn’t set in stone, it’s likely that any sequel may take a very different form. “This thing was easy and fun to make, so that’s gonna make me inclined to do it again. My wife Rachel Brook (@ PlaceHolderVisualArt) is in the process of making three music videos for the record, and has been very supportive through this whole process substantiating my music with her visual art. And I couldn’t have done any of this without Tim Head at Win Big Records, either... Would it sound different? It would probably be another experiment in me learning to do something different. Maybe I’ll want to learn how to play a nylon string guitar, and make a record like a Leonard Cohen album. I set myself very definite parameters with time and tools. And I think that’s the modus operandi with this project: short amount of time, basic stuff, and let your imagination run wild within these constraints.” Amateur Trepanning releases his self-titled album via Win Big Records on 16th July www.amateurtrepanning.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEW

NOPRISM

CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE NEWCASTLE ELECTRO POP BAND ABOUT FINALLY BEING ABLE TO DEBUT THEIR SOUND ON THE LIVE STAGE

MUSIC

Image by Pete Falkous After releasing their latest single, Order, NOPRISM are gearing up to take their army of songs to the stage, having announced that their first live show will take place at Little Buildings in Newcastle on Saturday 31st July. NOPRISM’s Andrew Young discusses the anticipation and excitement for the band’s live debut” “The band’s entire existence has been locked down, we started in March then immediately everything stopped. It’s been frustrating for everyone, and we’ve spent the year building an online presence, but it’ll be something special when we can cut our teeth live!” With previous singles Happiness and Pantherbeat exploding into anthemic choruses with powerful beats and humongous, swirling synths, the band have curated a sound that feels tailor made for the live experience. Frustratingly the band have had to reschedule their live debut several times during the pandemic but are poised and ready to launch into an upbeat frenzy on Saturday 31st July. “We’ve all come from loud bands, so I can guarantee that we will be providing all the angular guitar sounds and raucous drumming needed to fill the venue! It might end up being a lot heavier than people expect, we just love to make a racket!” The band’s songs have already gained traction, appearing on BBC Introducing and popping up on reality show Made in Chelsea, as well as getting rave reviews from Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon. They’re hoping to translate this online momentum on the road. “The songs have ended up in the most random places, but we still need to figure out a reputation locally! I don’t know if anyone in Newcastle has heard of us yet!” To remedy this, the band are set to release a

EXPECT THE ELECTRONIC HAZE OF AN 80S DANCE PARTY AND THE PULSING ENERGY AND GROOVE OF NEW WAVE new single, Animosity. “We wrote it as a joke, We were pretending to be a fake band and sending them off to the BBC for a laugh, but then it actually started getting played! I reckon it’s one of our best tracks now.” NOPRISM’s debut EP is also on the horizon and it’s likely to continue their trademark sound so ably demonstrated by Order’s ominous beats and hypnotic synths. Expect the electronic haze of an 80s dance party and the pulsing energy and groove of new wave. NOPRISM seem to have carved themselves an authentic and endearing sound that has already begun to resonate; the band shine with a vintage charm yet avoid feeling like a pastiche. The energy, sentiment and warmth that rockets out of each new release feels fresh and genuine, and each track feels polished and fully envisioned. The influences across the tracks feel like a homage to the past, yet the band drives forward beautifully with their eyes fixed on the future. It’s clear that NOPRISM are preparing an electrifying and dynamic experience. Don’t miss it. NOPRISM play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Saturday 31st July www.soundcloud.com/thisisnoprism

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INTERVIEW

ART & LIT

Mixed media by L.Jebb 2020

NEVER NORMAL

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO CHILLI STUDIOS’ JO BURKE ABOUT THEIR ANNUAL SHOWCASE WHICH QUESTIONS NOTIONS OF NORMALITY AND OUR EXPERIENCES OF MENTAL HEALTH Newcastle-based Chilli Studios is a charity which supports those who experience mental health conditions or social exclusion, with the aim of engaging people through creative activity. Arguably their work has never been more important, and this month sees their annual exhibition take place at Newcastle’s Vane Gallery. “This year has only highlighted the importance of art to our mental health and wellbeing.” Says the studio’s arts coordinator Jo Burke. “We use art as a powerful and liberating tool to often distract and heal ourselves, to self-express, to also challenge and make actions towards change.” The exhibition features work by over 50 artists based in the region, and Jo is enthusiastic about the diverse mediums and subject matter that they’ve tackled. “It’s such an exciting array of work. It includes work from someone’s very first art piece to members who have extensive training or exhibited nationally.” Having missed their annual show last year, this year’s exhibition is even more important to the community. “It is a celebration of the immense creativity of our members and their valuable personal experiences through the testing year of 2020-2021. We have work directly looking at the topic of COVID-19, including personal stories of resilience, as well as reactions to the political sphere but we also have pieces that celebrate the relaxing qualities of art and the act of creation. From minimalist drawings, poems, bright abstract mixed media, to collaborative playful ceramic works – there will be

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HOW CAN WE RETURN TO THE NEW NORMAL WHEN WE AND MANY OTHERS MIGHT NOT IDENTIFY OR FEEL ACCEPTED IN THE OLD NORMALITY?

something for everyone to identify with here as well as challenge.” The title of the exhibition is also a telling one; Jo explains that many of their members and staff questioned the concept of the media and politicised tag of ‘the new normal’. “This title is a playful approach to the media’s concept of ‘the new normal’, this show questions notions of ‘normality’ and our individual and collective experiences of mental health. ‘Normal’ being a problematic word, especially when anyone outside the norm is seen as being ‘other’. How can we return to the new normal when we and many others might not identify or feel accepted in the old normality? This is a bit of a shout to the fact that there needs to be a lot more change and support for mental health, marginalised and vulnerable groups to feel at ease and valued in society. The lockdown and pandemic certainly has highlighted the importance of our mental health and we hope this is a shift to a better overall cultural change.” Chilli Studios themselves have been under immense pressure due to the pandemic; forced to change their provisions significantly in order to continue to support their community, their members faced further inequalities on a socio-economic scale, dealing with disability, isolation, reduced support and a decline in mental health. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Chilli Studios team that they were able to adapt and thrive online, keeping their community connected and supported. Chilli Studios’ Never Normal exhibition is at Vane Gallery, Newcastle from Wednesday 7th-Saturday 24th July. Those interested in joining Chilli Studios as a member, volunteer or supporter can get in touch via the website or by emailing info@ chillistudios.co.uk www.chillistudios.co.uk


INTERVIEW

KING OF THE SEA

LINSEY TEGGERT TALKS TO TREV GIBB ABOUT MAKING MUSIC FREE OF LIMITATIONS WITH HIS NEW PROJECT, KING OF THE SEA

MUSIC

King of the Sea is about to release his gorgeous debut album AYA this month, but wait, doesn’t that voice sound familiar? King of the Sea is in fact the new project of rich-voiced North East music stalwart Trev Gibb. “I wanted to make a break from recording under my own name because it’s been that way since 2003, with the odd period in a band, like Deerhart, and it just felt tired,” explains Gibb. “I’ve been around the block you know! Having a different name can sometimes be freeing, you can do more things and not necessarily get stuck with the personal, confessional, typical singer-songwriter tag.” There’s certainly something to the idea that a name change can be freeing; with King of the Sea, Gibb sounds more at ease, more quietly confident than ever before. It’s the sound of an artist truly coming into his own, but the journey to get to this point was a turbulent one. “I pretty much gave up music in 2015, I got really depressed, disillusioned and tired, I didn’t know what I was doing, couldn’t cope and I sort of walked off the deep end. I had a bit of a breakdown, was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism and decided to head to Italy to teach TEFL and leave everything behind. So, I just disappeared for a little while. Not that I want to romanticise it as an Odysseus-like quest but it kind of was. Italy made a big impact and taught me a lot; I reassessed a lot of things.” It was Italy where the beginnings of AYA began to form with glittering album opener Rush, where the limitations of not having a guitar actually became a positive when approaching songwriting. “I relied heavily on Logic Pro X, MIDI and using my laptop keyboard as a piano, and I basically wrote to fixed beats, where previously it might have been me and a guitar or a piano first.” The record truly came into existence in January 2018, when Gibb

I KNOW MY MUSIC IS GOOD, AND THAT MORE PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR IT, BUT IT’S ALSO NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE OTHERS LIKE WHAT I DO began to work with prolific local producer Harbourmaster, aka Martin Trollope. “I’ve never felt as free and relaxed in the studio and open to try all ideas. I’d have these manic moments where I’d throw every musical idea at the wall, and he’d have to keep up with me, chasing me round the room with microphones. Martin has the patience of a saint.” Over almost two decades of being a much-loved local artist, there have been ups and downs and lessons have been learned, but one thing that consistently stands out is Gibb’s astonishing musical talent. “Of course, I’ve felt jaded at times, but that was a problem of mine that I had to overcome and to learn from that feeling. I realised that there’s a huge self-indulgence in being about nothing but your music, and thankfully I met a wonderful woman, and we have a little boy so that sort of shucked me out of that mindset. Those are the things that matter. I know my music is good, and that more people need to hear it, but it’s also not my responsibility to make others like what I do, they have to come to it in their own way at their own pace, one song at a time. Meanwhile, I keep writing and getting better, doing things differently. You have to write for yourself. That’s what I do.” King of the Sea releases AYA on 1st July www.facebook.com/trevgibbsingstheblues

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INTERVIEW

Housewarming

From 25 AUG 21

Close your Zoom window and join us, Newcastle. Theatre is back in Toon! A welcoming space for everyone Socially distanced seating • Access friendly Tickets from £10 Book tickets: 0191 230 5151 northernstage.co.uk

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Northern Stage, Barras Bridge Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RH Two minutes’ walk from Haymarket Metro station on the Newcastle University Campus


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

NE-O

Image by Johnathan Ramsey

I JUST WANT TO GET INTO A REALLY GOOD MOMENTUM, BUILD UP SOME RADIO PLAY, AND GET THINGS MOVING WITH SOME REALLY STRONG TRACKS

DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO THE NEWCASTLE RAPPER ABOUT HIS GRAND AMBITIONS TO PRODUCE A SUMMER BANGER Once as important a musical moment as the Christmas number one, the standout summer ‘breakaway’ hip-hop single often seemed to define that year’s culture: 1991’s good time feel represented in the sparkle of the Fresh Prince’s Summertime for example, or the introspective flower power feel of 1989’s Me Myself And I, or the funky, good time fizz of 1994’s Juicy. If you were around in those times you’ll likely remember how the summer hip-hop standout both dominated the charts and reflected the sound of the time perfectly; yet when was the last time a hip-hop track took a big swing at capturing a summer? Tinie Tempah’s 2016 Mamacita? Picking up the bat for a swing at one of hip-hop’s greatest prizes is one-half of NE Dons, Newcastle’s NE-O, who clearly has summer in mind with the release of Seventeen, a flamenco sound-tracked moment of summer vibes and feel-good hip-hop. “It’s funny because I wrote Seventeen quite a while back,” confirms NE-O, “and originally it had a different sound, but as soon as I heard the beat from Kazza, and it was covered in all of these flamenco vibes, then I had this proper inspiration to make it a summer track, and I wrote the track over the different beat and ran with it.” A deliberate attempt to tap into the summer hip-hop history, the release of Seventeen has been timed not just to fit around academic studies but also to fit in with summer weather: “Seventeen has got the same lyrics as before I heard the Kazza beats, but now has a totally different vibe and I wanted this to be a stand-alone summer

banger. The second I heard the flamencos I knew exactly what I wanted and the weather I wanted to sound track it with.” Seventeen will be the fourth release from NE-O this year, finding him in a particularly fertile purple patch and growing in strength and confidence. “Because of Uni I had to stock pile some tracks knowing that I might not have much time to record new songs so I’ve been releasing them this year and they feel good,” he says. He’s also changing tack on the way he releases his music. “I’m steering away from Mixtapes and EPs at the minute, I’m just looking to put out singles, gain some momentum and then get consistent with my releases.” Building on the sound of Seventeen, as well as this year’s momentum and radio play, don’t let the laid-back vibes of Seventeen fool you, NE-O is just getting started: “There’s already a few collaborations done which should come out this year, I hope, and hopefully some NE Dons stuff later this year also, but for me I just want to get into a really good momentum, build up some radio play, and get things moving with some really strong tracks.” NE-O releases Seventeen on 9th July. Watch his performance on NARC. TV Series 2 Episode 5 from Thursday 8th July via our YouTube channel www.facebook.com/neo.dons

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INTERVIEW

THESE HILLS ARE OURS DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO PLAYWRIGHT DANIEL BYE ABOUT RIGHTS OF WAY, CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND THE JOY OF RUNNING WITH MATES

STAGE

WHEN WE THINK OF THE COUNTRYSIDE AS BEING ACCESSIBLE IT’S OFTEN NOT THE TRUTH AND I THINK THAT’S AN INTERESTING STORY TO TELL Hiding behind the attempts we make to normalise ourselves (to be normal, think normal, look normal) there’s often dark thoughts and complex contradictory beliefs we hold to be true. Identifying with, and exploring, such contradictions in ourselves, it’s interesting to reflect on the contradictions we see in others; are we as understanding to the complexity of other people as we are to ourselves? Disguising itself as a theatrical comedic think piece about the importance of keeping fit and the benefits of friendship, Daniel Bye and Boff Whalley’s production These Hills Are Ours explores many of the contradictions of the UK’s political, geographical and cultural history, stopping off for reflections on the freedom of expression, national heritage, cultural identity and the journey of empire building. The play was initially conceived as a production about a love for running, as Daniel explains. “Boff and I decided to make a show about our shared loved of running and how we used to find a local peak to run up whenever we were out on tour.” The narrative slowly moves into a think piece about the types of places our main characters enjoy running. “When we looked into the history of the places we enjoyed running it was interesting to find that they were usually publicly accessible places where someone had to fight for the

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right to be able to walk on that path. It’s an interesting piece, and whilst the topic seems to be about running there’s loads for non-runners to connect to.” Given Boff Whalley’s time in art punk collective Chumbawamba, it’s perhaps only natural that not only would the conversation turn in some ways to collective politics, but that there would also be subtle references to green issues and public rights. Daniel continues: “There’s been a number of victories in the past 100 years about providing more access in rural spaces to the public but there’s still a long way to go. For example, half of rural land in England and Wales is owned by less than 0.1% of population, and 90% of that land is inaccessible. When we think of the countryside as being accessible it’s often not the truth and I think that’s an interesting story to tell.” Which brings us to the more punkier, introspective, side of the show. “There’s a history of civil disobedience in this country in order to gain access to certain rural places, but the show isn’t a dry history of this, it’s more about running places like Clougha Pike with a friend, places which weren’t accessible until 2005, and celebrating the people that helped make these spaces accessible for us all.” Set out as a number of short stories told by Daniel and sung by Boff, which build up into an overarching narrative, These Hills Are Ours is more cabaret act than musical, designed to help us all to reflect about our history, our future, and how we choose to spend our present; including all of our contradictions. These Hills Are Ours is at ARC, Stockton on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th July and Alnwick Playhouse on Friday 9th July www.danielbye.co.uk/these-hills-are-ours


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

TRUNKY JUNO

DAWN STOREY TALKS TO THE POOCH-LOVING TECHNICOLOUR POPSTER ABOUT HIS NEW EP, GOOD DOG Purveyor of off-kilter pop gems, Trunky Juno releases his highly anticipated new EP on 2nd July. The County Durham canine lover’s introspective synth sounds were first witnessed on his previous EP, but he’s now become braver and louder, while his familiar blissful hooks and thought-provoking lyrics remain. Some of the songs on the Good Dog EP have been around for a while, and he says it’s taken him until now to finish anthemic opening track Daddy’s Gone For Cigarettes: “I think most songs sit on the back-burner for a long time before they get released. This one in particular sat there for a while though. I think it just took a while to figure the production on it, and what it should be. I remember recording drums for it loads of times, and re-recording parts for it over and over again.” In Serial Killer Vibes – an ode to post-COVID awkward exchanges and anxiety – he sums up the current mood of the pandemic limbo we find ourselves in, where many of us are now much more wary of socialising. Favourite Show is sweetly emotive with its catchy “Leather boots and denim jeans and thoughts and dreams and magazines” refrain, while latest single Hawaiian Pizza is “a song about tuning out people who shit all over everything you like” and is closest in sound to his previous releases. “I always call myself a lo-fi pop noodler,” says Trunky, when I ask how he’d describe his sound to someone who’s yet to hear his music.

I THINK MY MUSIC SOUNDS CLOSEST TO ARTISTS LIKE MGMT, THE FLAMING LIPS AND BECK. IT’S PRETTY ALTERNATIVE, BUT STILL INDIE POP, AND IT’S ALSO QUITE ECLECTIC

“I think that explains it pretty well. But if that doesn’t do the trick, I think my music sounds closest to artists like MGMT, The Flaming Lips and Beck. It’s pretty alternative, but still indie pop, and it’s also quite eclectic whilst almost always still sounding like Trunky Juno.” A self-confessed homebody, he’s recently played some local gigs in Newcastle and Stockton ahead of a wider tour in November, and says that where he lives has had a definite influence on his music. “I’ve always lived in the North East, and I’ve always played in bands up here. I’ve dabbled in punk, jazz, indie; sat in working men’s club dressing rooms listening to the bingo, and all the usual things a musician up here does.” The opening track of his new EP includes the line “Dreams are for weekends – that’s what my teachers said”, so I’m curious if he toed the line at school or spent his time plotting how to become a rock star. “I was always pretty good,” he says. “I wouldn’t mind going back – do some maths, kick a ball around outside and play some Iron Maiden covers in the music room.” If you’ve encountered Trunky’s music already you’ll probably also have seen his joyful cover photos, many of which feature dogs with wonderfully compelling faces – which of course sit nicely alongside the name of his new EP. “I like animals,” he states simply. “There’s loads of good ones. Giraffes, raccoons, alpacas, penguins, and of course dogs.” Which leads nicely onto what he hopes to achieve in 2021 – a question he answers succinctly with: “Wembley Stadium, dogs only, sold out.” And as the owner of a retired greyhound, I can’t argue with that. Trunky Juno releases Good Dog EP on 2nd July www.trunkyjuno.com

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INTERVIEW

L-R, T-B: gobscure ships ov fool image by Liz Rose Ridley, Dan Knight, Benefits

SONIC ARTS WEEK CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT WHAT’S IN STORE AT MIDDLESBROUGH’S CELEBRATION OF SONIC ADVENTURES If there was ever a time to recognise the importance of music and culture in bringing us together, it’s now. Sonic Arts Week, which takes over a variety of venues in Middlesbrough from Friday 16th-Friday 23rd July, is the town’s free celebration of sound, music and art, organised by innovative curators and project space The Auxiliary. The festival has taken its inspiration from world listening day (which is on 18th July) and honours the birthday of Raymond Murray Schafer, a Canadian composer and environmentalist who is seen as the founder of acoustic ecology. “For SAW21 we really wanted to present a festival that was accessible and fun to be a part of.” The Auxiliary’s Liam Slevin explains. “Sound is a great leveller when it comes to engaging with culture and that’s really how we selected the different artists and projects.” There are a variety of unique experiences on offer, including a scenic sound-themed cruise on the River Tees from Stockton to Middlesbrough on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th, where audiences will be serenaded by Australian artist Jodi Rose who has created a piece of music using the vibration of the Tees bridges. At The Auxiliary itself, artist Dan Knight presents his interactive sound machines for audiences to engage with, and musician and artist Grace Stubbings hosts workshops for attendees to learn how to record and produce music using Dan’s sculpture. Grace also runs a workshop on Sunday 18th on the techniques of recording birds and

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SOUND IS A GREAT LEVELLER WHEN IT COMES TO ENGAGING WITH CULTURE AND THAT’S REALLY HOW WE SELECTED THE DIFFERENT ARTISTS AND PROJECTS

wildlife in their natural habitats at Saltholme RSPB. When it comes to music, the region’s sound is uniquely shaped by the landscape; through geolocation technology local artists have created unique immersive sound walks available to enjoy via the Echoes app. There’s a chaotic catharsis to Benefits’ contribution, while electro folk artist Me Lost Me looks at the sonic rewilding of Middlesbrough architecture and Disability Online and Museum of Homelessness-affiliated artist gobscure gives their unique take on the town. There’s more sonic adventuring at Centre Square, where Nell Catchpole delivers the next instalment of her Sonic Allotments project. “Performers [will be] raking Centre Square with amplified rakes. I think people will get an absolute blast out of it. It’s going to be a little bit surreal.” Liam enthuses. Audiences are also encouraged to keep an eye out for the Sound Workbook, which sheds some light on the history of artists who use sound as creative art. Sonic Bikes promises to be a particular highlight, fusing music, cycling and environmental concerns; tiny computers and speakers attached to the bikes create sound and music as they’re ridden, using air quality data to create different sounds – the clearer the air, the nicer the sound. Led by Berlin-based Bircophonic Research Institute, Liam explains that getting Sonic Bikes to SAW21 has been a challenge. “The artists are based between Berlin and Lisbon so there is always a chance they will not be able to be at the festival themselves, there is a global bike shortage and airlines have cancelled flights regularly on us. The project is going to be amazing though and it’s well worth the extra work now.” Sonic Arts Week takes place across various venues throughout Middlesbrough from Friday 16th-Friday 23rd July. All events are free. www.sonicartsweek.com


INTERVIEW

ZELA

I LIKE THE RANGE WE’VE CREATED FOR OURSELVES WHILST STILL MANAGING TO MAINTAIN AN OVERALL DISTINGUISHABLE SOUND

STEVE SPITHRAY TALKS TO LIV FROM DARK ELECTRONIC DUO ZELA ABOUT THEIR DISTINCT SOUND

MUSIC

Durham-based electro-noir siblings ZELA have been making waves with their single releases over the past few months, and are shaping up to be one of the most exciting prospects in the region despite being yet to perform these stylish and intoxicating compositions live. However, with a debut live show scheduled for Saturday 31st July at The Georgian Theatre in Stockton, I asked singer Liv what we can expect from the live shows. “There is definitely an element of us wanting the songs to translate as good as, if not better, live than recorded, but I think that anticipation just adds to the excitement. We don’t want our shows to be like you’re hitting play on the record at home, we need you to feel and experience the songs in a whole new light.” The North East dance music scene seems to have flourished during lockdown. Liv explains how ZELA came to be and, as expected, it’s a lot more than just a lockdown whimsy. “Max [drummer and co-conspirator] and I have always been in bands together growing up, we’ve always been into similar things at the same time and music is in our blood. We began writing and shaping ZELA in 2018 working out of Homefire Studios in Harrogate. We spent a couple of years writing and recording, developing visually as well as sonically and released our debut single in March last year (great timing, right?). Since then, it’s been nothing but singles and chaos and lockdowns.” Latest single Sober Lovin U is a further extension of the dark electro of previous tracks, but there is no overall masterplan despite the hard work ethos the band portray. “I suppose we’ve created a blueprint for the ZELA sound but we don’t limit ourselves to

anything and part of the process for us is still taking time to experiment. It’s important to us that we consistently sound like us but that happens very organically. The devilish detail for us is the small but paramount subtleties in our sound, like when I shift my voice to match a character I’ve created to suit the song, or when we spend time getting the final little pieces of the production on the tracks right. Applying that stuff is what really makes us, us. I like the range we’ve created for ourselves whilst still managing to maintain an overall distinguishable sound.” And it’s this reference to the characters within the songs that suddenly makes the slightly murky underworld of ZELA’s songs make a lot more sense. But, with no time to waste Liv is keen for ZELA to crack on. “We’re packing as much as we can into the rest of the year, starting with new music”. Sober Lovin U is out on 9th July, and Liv gives an insight into the track. “Picture postered bedroom walls, secret cigarettes and late-night phone calls underneath the covers, and you’re in my state of mind when I wrote the lyrics. We’ve also got our debut headline show which we cannot fucking wait for and we just know it’s gonna be an absolute fire night. The rest of the year will include our debut festival performances and more music...” Watch this space, indeed. ZELA release Sober Lovin U on 9th July. They play The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 31st July, Heelapalooza Festival in Middlesbrough on Saturday 7th August and Last Train Home Festival in Darlington on Saturday 4th September www.facebook.com/thisiszela

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T H E A L L N E W M U S I C F E S T I VA L

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THEATRE ART

MUSIC

COMEDY

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THE GATHERING SOUNDS • STOC K TON-ON-TEES


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

Smiley People – Let Me In

Let Me In by Smiley People is a demo in the most traditional sense of the term. A slight tape hiss persists and the natural reverb is a bit of an annoyance but beyond the basic four-track recording and slightly out of key vocals there is something about Let Me In’s heartfelt nakedness that is the polar opposite of the long list of influences they mention in their bio (“Victoria Wood meets Phil Spector” anyone?).

Marie Johns – Father Oh Father

Everyone knows the number one rule of making a demo is hooking the listener/ blogger/major label exec as quickly as possible and, in the first seventy seconds of Father Oh Father, Marie Johns smashes a synth hook, atmospheric verse, catchy chorus and beat drop without seemingly breaking sweat. Landing a rough mix somewhere between Pet Shop Boys and quasi-religious-era Madonna (a spoken word segment is very Vogue) is pretty bold and exciting, but at over five minutes Father Oh Father is too long to capitalise on its early promise where the limitations of the demo format doesn’t always allow for nuanced changes throughout the track. Still, enough promise here to file alongside Smiley People for future reference. www.facebook.com/mariejohnsmusic

Massey feat. Scrannabis – Smoking on the Daily

As you might educate a guess from the name, Smoking on the Daily is a loose, jazzy ode to

But sometimes less is more, and there is plenty about this ode to the working week (or at least getting home from it) in its jaunty handclap beats, piano accoutrement and oddly lovelorn lyrics. For fans of The Divine Comedy and that rich vein of archly savvy indie, Let Me In does what all good demos should do in making you desperate to hear where the maker of it might go with the finished version given the chance. www.soundcloud.com/smileypeoplemarkgibson

Mary Jane. With old-skool beats and rhymes that straddle a fine line between hip-hop and trip-hop, and a reading-between-the-lines nod to the mental health pitfalls of recreational drug use, Massey and Scrannabis manage to be both preternaturally at the lyrical zeitgeist but so horizontally relaxed to have barely noticed the last twenty-five years of rap progress. However, the regional rap scene has come on leaps and bounds over the last few years and Smoking on the Daily should rightfully find its natural place where the spliffs are carrot shaped and the conversation serious, and that is no bad place to be. www.instagram.com/mass_ey101

Mexican Painkiller – Mexorcist Opening with squalls of feedback, Mexican Painkiller’s Mexorcist might quickly drop into some diverse but equally clichéd speed punk and Burning Inside-era Ministry riffs but four minutes, one excellent solo and a Nigh Train-oozing chorus later, and we have a smorgasbord of metal served on soft bed of

industrial noise. And, for all my mealymouthed references and metaphors, it works, and we come out of the other end with a busy but competent compendium of the form. That Mexican painkiller will leave you with a stinker of a headache, though. www.facebook.com/mexicanpainkiller

Bad Blood – Muzzle Training

This is futile. Muzzle Training is literally a first person (or, that should be first dog) account of muzzle training where our protagonist (the dog) always barks but, with nothing worthwhile to bark about, is sent out to the yard by its cruel owners, with the other dogs, and given one last chance to behave. Set to a musical backdrop of scratchy punk pop guitars, tinny synths and drums, the track bounces around at breakneck speed as our dog has the last laugh by making loads of new friends in the yard, because who needs humans anyway? Absolutely awful. www.badbloodmusic.com

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TRACKS

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)

The Redroom by Daniel Preece

THE REDROOM FRONTLINE Words: Damian Robinson Thanks to the rave reviews they received for December’s Forced Stability single, North East newcomers The Redroom have been identified as hotly tipped ones-to-watch, with a pleasing line in Go-Go’s style of surfy indie, laced with punk-pop. It’s easy to see why they’re doing well; new single Frontline introduces nicely delivered vocals with interesting layering styles, and perhaps the band’s core talent is in their musicality and ability to follow interesting sonic patterns. Layered with interesting licks and sharp-as-a-dart drumming, The Redroom set up a really structured support line for the track’s slightly introverted, slightly angry, melody lines. What’s more, the band sound like they have the potential to be a great live act too. Compelling stuff. Released: 23.07.21 www.instagram.com/theredroombandofficial

VIGILANCE STATE FIRST CLASS Words: Kate Murphy Sometimes electronica gets a message across more powerfully than any other genre could, and when the message is ‘you’re always a little closer to a dystopia than you think you are’, this is a prime example of that power in action. As a monotone voice lists what you can do in this First Class cabin of the future/present, the synth coaxing it steadily and speedily along creates a sense of moving into something beyond our control. The beauty of Vigilance State’s track is that by the end it’s got you thinking about its title, a phrase you’d normally hear from the mouth of a cheery stewardess and think nothing of, in a completely different way. “Rest easy”, the airline encourages. I wouldn’t if I were you. Released: 01.07.21 www.soundcloud.com/vigilance-state

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Jen Stevens by Jordan Embleton

JEN STEVENS NEPTUNE’S DAUGHTER Words: Michael O’Neill Bereavement has always provided a deep and rich well of expression throughout the history of art, and Neptune’s Daughter is no exception. Much like her powerful recent release She Sleeps, Stevens has translated the pain felt by loss into compelling works of emotional depth. There is a constant undertow of optimism and acceptance in the powerful and rich imagery that the South Shields-based singer/songwriter paints, immediately calling to mind Kate Bush in her buoyant command of melody and harmony, and in the sheer versatility of the arrangement, which never stays in the same place for too long, mirroring the depth and urgency of the lyrics. All in all, it’s a profound and compelling masterpiece of song. Released: 09.06.21 www.jenstevens.co.uk

SHAMU UNWOUND EP Words: Steve Spithray Pastoral indie is probably one of the most underwhelming genre names of all time, in that it means no specific harm while it goes about its largely forgettable business in front of a light turquoise colour board. Thankfully Shamu’s Unwound EP offers a lot more depth and texture on an otherwise one-dimensional branch of the indie tree. Heredity is all big chiming musical gifts while Reputation’s vocoder shouldn’t distract from its melodic peaks and whimsical introspections. Direction and Understanding are more traditionally arranged, nudging towards indie rock territory and round off a strong return from the Newcastle four-piece after 2020’s Use Your Voice album. Released: 02.07.21 www.soundcloud.com/shamuisaband


CRIMSON BLOOM THE MADHOUSE EP Words: Damian Robinson Visually and stylistically intent on recreating Madchester’s Baggy scene, Crimson Bloom return with another slice of their indie/dance crossover adding to the reputation they built up with 2020’s double album Finer Times In Other Worlds. Lead single The Madhouse opens their four track EP (do they never stop working!?) which sees the collective take parts of Step On’s shuffling, percussion-led groove and mix it in with some of the more abstract impressionistic moments of the Inspiral Carpets. Creating a solid groove, and laced with firing lead guitars, The Madhouse is another strong, if perhaps not overly original, track which is well written, well produced and well executed. Perhaps next time we need a little less Madchester and a little more Teeschester. Released: 23.07.21 www.crimsonbloom.bandcamp.com

BECCY OWEN & THE REFUGE SAFETY FIRST Words: Damian Robinson Delivered as an audio and visual collective, Safety First – a piece of music which supports a collection of unedited and vulnerable responses from women who expressed their experiences of gender-based violence – is difficult to review only as a piece of music once you’ve felt the full impact of the audio and visual production; but let’s try. Layered with gentle drums, piano and glockenspiel, Safety First finds Beccy Owen in powerful voice and intent as she sings over a soaring jazz textured piece of art expressionism. Hooked with its John Densmore style of drumming, Safety First pops heavy with a serious message and strong instrumental background. Overall, it’s a great piece of jazz experimentation which becomes really effective when attached to the accompanying video. Be sure to seek it out. Released: 16.07.21 www.beccyowen.bandcamp.com

SARAH CONNOLLY HEADING SOUTH Words: Michael O’Neill A delightful and atmospheric dose of folk rock with a strong emphasis on Connolly’s strong voice and lyricism, Heading South is a marvellous song served brilliantly by an arrangement which favours staccato guitars, melodic bass, sparse rhythms and glorious strides of pedal-steel guitar. This gorgeous pool of sound gives the song a slick and deep undercurrent which only serves to enhance the sheer quality of Connolly’s songwriting, with the lyrics (concerning a relationship cut short by commitment issues) painting a deep and boldly refreshing portrait of a classic narrative, allowing her powerful voice to stand front and centre in an enthralling world of sound. It is a powerful and glorious work, brilliantly showcasing the sheer talent and confidence of Sarah Connolly. Essential. Released: 06.07.21 www.facebook.com/sarahconnollymusic

RAM-Z UNION STREET/STREET TALK Words: Michael O’Neill Boro-based genre-blending rapper Ram-Z unveils tracks from his new EP. Union Street is a melancholic, narrative-driven portrait of urban life; the production blends conventions of classic grime with fingerpicked electric guitar, while the vocals from KIMBER provide a melodic counterpoint which adds depth to the rich narrative that Ram-Z frenetically delivers in a swift three minutes, making for a refreshingly raw and vital track. The sonically versatile Street Talk is more firmly grounded in classic grime, and acts as a love letter to Teesside and the emerging scene. Sam Thomas provides some delightful Jordan Rakei-esque vocals which only enhance the dynamic feel of the track and the beat, built upon heavy 808s and pitch-shifted vocals, acts as a strong canvas for Ram-Z’s frenetic lyrical prowess. Marvellous stuff. Released: 02.07.21 www.instagram.com/mc_ram.z

JODIE NICHOLSON WHY WOULD YOU (GO)? Words: Kate Murphy Why Would You (Go)? has a vibe perfect for this time of year: that gloopy, fluid quality that’s as much as you can handle when the heat goes up and the air turns your thoughts dreamy. Jodie Nicholson’s smooth, layered vocals appear like a mirage, and you can’t help but picture hot landscapes and think bigger. It’s pensive and solitary, more like quiet wonderings than a direct address to someone, and it sounds just like being abandoned in the middle of somewhere beautiful, in the sense of both a physical place and a relationship. The break in the middle of the song is gorgeous, and it’s where Jodie’s feathery voice, pure as a bell, is heard in its full glory. A pleasure from start to finish. Released: 16.07.21 www.jodienicholsonmusic.com

WAVES OF DREAD DAY I DID NOTHING Words: Kate Murphy Day I Did Nothing is smoky, metallic and a little magical in places. It sounds as though it was recorded in a tunnel, rising upwards and pouring back down on you whilst ringing out right to the tunnel’s end. It has a feel to it that’s both personal and cinematic, especially that sublime instrumental, but what arguably makes this track is the warm, subtle chorus of voices running underneath it, like sexy angels guiding it through. It would send a shiver through you if you heard hundreds of people singing this together at a gig, and if those female voices became louder and higher and just a little bit more in the final chorus, it would take it into a league of its own. Released: 16.07.21 www.soundcloud.com/wavesofdread

CHOP5 NO RETURNS Words: Steve Spithray Airy house inspired by mid-90s techno, acid and trance might be just what we need to get the party started when the nightclubs finally get the green light to dust down the old 1210s and No Returns. The second of a trilogy of releases from North Shields producer Chop5 (aka Anthony Wilson) marries that all important everyday reference in the title with a hypnotic, repetitive groove that should see the North Shields producer quickly assimilated into the North East electronic scene. As a beat builds, choppy synths ride in on clouds of ambient textures and sounds, before a subtle Daft Punk bassline suddenly comes up in the mix as the track reaches a suitably trancey, toe-tapping zenith. Who’s for pre-drinks? Released: 16.07.21 www.chop5.bandcamp.com

ONLOOKER EASY BREEZY Words: Steve Spithray What Onlooker do best is crunching post-hardcore with a twist of spoken-wordiness and Easy Breezy might just be the strongest track yet from the Teesside rockers, as it lurches from angular riffs to heavy speed-bass and a chorus for the masses. Taking cues from the likes of Idles, Futureheads, Sonic Youth and Pavement, Easy Breezy could be the carefree clarion call some of us need by way of gentle encouragement when things really open back up back up after so long, and “the clean air flowing through my hair” lyrical theme is right on the button. Two-minutes-twenty-five-seconds, one false ending and some dogs barking later, and it is all over before it has started. So, play it again. Do it now. Released: 25.06.21 www.facebook.com/onlookertheband

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ALBUMS 4.5 / 5 THE GO! TEAM THE GET UP SEQUENCES PART ONE (MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES)

5/5 Image by Kate Davies

PIZZAGIRL SOFTCORE MOURN (HEIST OR HIT) Words: Laura Doyle Pizzagirl, moniker of genre-hopping bop-maker Liam Brown, has had a lot on his plate. He burst onto the scene a couple of years ago at the height of 80s synth-pop nostalgia with his own ambient take, but Pizzagirl has since graduated to the upbeat melancholy of the early 00s in his seemingly successful endeavour to be “20 years behind the curve” at all times with Softcore Mourn. While he is no stranger to being locked in his room for creative bouts, the self-made artist was subject to a barrage of bad news and isolation for so long that it’s no surprise Pizzagirl’s sophomore record has taken a mournful turn. In what became a legally prescribed period of introspection, Softcore Mourn touches on many modern woes and experiences in a way only Pizzagirl can: straight-faced, but with tongue perpetually in cheek. Bullet Train is best enjoyed with headphones to take advantage of the disorientating woosh between ears that is appropriately immersive for this faux Nintendo railway-themed video game soundtrack. Conspiracy theories used to be fun when they were just outlandish ideas about lizard people and the illuminati, but the sinister turn they’ve taken in recent years to undermine trusted authorities are explored in the technology-fearing, banjo-driven, country pop vibes of Your Flat Earth Brother (In The Blades of the Grass). In a similarly political spin, Moreno reaches out to the disillusioned, radicalised youth fuelled by hate and suspicion with a heartfelt, easygoing pop beat. With so many bridges being burnt and further polarisation within political spheres, this olive branch serves as a beautiful metaphor that there’s more that unites us than divides us. With a record that is simultaneously retrospective and forward-looking, Softcore Mourn acts as the perfect transition between the past year of turmoil and our slow and steady movement onwards. With Softcore Mourn, we can recognise the trauma we have collectively experienced, but it might just give us the gumption to band together and see this through to the end. Released: 16.07.21 www.mypizzagirl.com

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Dot Allison – Heart Shaped Scars (SA Recordings, 30.07) // Half Waif – Mythopoetics (ANTI-, 09.07) // Joshua Radin – The Ghost & The Wall (Nettwerk, 23.07) // Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever (Darkroom/Interscope, 30.07) // Maja Lena – The Keeper (Chiverin Records, 23.07) // Fryers – God Melodies (Fiction Records, 16.07) // Johanna Samuels – Excelsior! (Basin Rock, 09.07) // Kat Eaton – Talk To Me (Reason & Rhyme Records, 02.07) // Stephen Fretwell – Busy Guy (Speedy Wunderground, 16.07) // Anthonie Tonnon – Leave Love Out of This (Slow Time Records, 16.07) // Midwife – Luminol (The Flenser, 16.07) // Taphari – Blind Obedience (Bayonet Records, 23.07) // Son Lux – Tomorrows (City Slang, 30.07) // Tashaki Miyaki – Castaway (Metropolis Records, 02.07) // Supermilk – Four By Three (Specialist Subject, 02.07) // Fuzzy Lights – Burials (Meadows, 02.07) // Oh Baby – Hey Genius (Burning Witches Records, 23.07) // Upper Wilds – Venus (Thrill Jockey, 23.07) // The Flatlanders – Treasure of Love (Rack’Em Records/Thirty Tigers, 09.07) // Stone Giants – West Coast Love Stories (Nomark, 02.07)

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Words: Lee Fisher Somehow the last couple of Go! Team albums passed me by, but it makes me ludicrously happy to discover that it’s all still there: the magpie sampledelica, the instinct for a gorgeous indie pop melody, the Sesame Street boombap. The base elements are largely unchanged since Thunder, Lightning, Strike 17 years ago but it still sounds fresh AF. At times, the closest analogue – in approach if not sound – is Saint Etienne; that same willingness to mix it ALL up. There’s an almost De La Soul feel to Cookie Scene, Roxanne Shante vibes on Pow!, a surprisingly gnarly Freedom Now… It’s all good. Listen to this walking down the street on a sunny evening and I swear down, cartoon hearts and flowers will burst from your sneakers. Released: 02.07.21 www.thegoteam.co.uk

4/5 CHARLIE PARR LAST OF THE BETTER DAYS AHEAD (SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS) Words: Lee Fisher Smithsonian Folkways has been an important resource for decades, preserving folk music across the world, but lately has also taken to releasing new music too, and nobody is a better fit than Charlie Parr. He might only be in his early fifties but his music is older than dirt, steeped in the blues, folk and country he loves. Last Of The Better Days Ahead finds Parr in reflective mood for the most part, on a set of mostly sparse blues, his strong voice ringing clear over some beautiful guitar. Everyday Opus is a standout, reminiscent of Dylan’s talking blues numbers, and the whole album impresses, but the 16-minute instrumental Decoration Day is a remarkable closer, somehow sounding like a campfire take on In A Silent Way. Released: 30.07.21 www.charlieparr.com


ALBUMS

3/5

4/5

4/5

BOBBY GILLESPIE & JEHNNY BETH UTOPIAN ASHES (SONY)

MOLLY BURCH ROMANTIC IMAGES (CAPTURED TRACKS)

REJJIE SNOW BAW BAW BLACK SHEEP (BMG)

Words: Ali Welford An unlikely pairing, Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth’s musical alchemy began back in 2015 when they met whilst performing alongside Suicide at the Barbican. A sharp contrast to both the euphoric hedonism of Primal Scream and harsh, intense menace of Savages, Utopian Ashes’ cues are taken from classic country soul duets, adorned with estranged characters whose unions drift apart with the passage of time. With Gillespie largely taking the lead (backed by his Primal Scream bandmates and regular Beth collaborator Johnny Hostile), its nine cuts are emotionally pitched and beautifully orchestrated, yet rarely feel like natural habitat for either stoner icon nor Gothic provocateur. A worthy detour, though not one likely to live long in the memory. Released: 02.07.21 www.bobbyjehnny.com

Words: Paul Broadhead Californian Molly’s third LP of original material takes its listeners back to a more innocent time, be it the 80’s instrumentation and production of Games, or the 90’s laid back groovy indie pop of Honeymoon Phase which recalls The Cardigans. Opener Control sets the tone with Burch’s soothing breathy vocal washing away the sins, whilst Kate Bush comparisons would not be far off, especially on the title track. The timeless highlight Heart of Gold, however, is indicative of an artist that deserves high praise for her own originality and she’s not afraid to mix things up; embracing electronic vibes on Emotion and going all country y’all on New Beginning. All in all, a delightful treat for those balmy summer evenings. Released: 23.07.21 www.mollyburchmusic.com

Words: Ikenna Offor Given the current levels of global bedlam, it’s small wonder that escapism would be the pith of Rejjie Snow’s immersive sophomore LP. Playfully abstract and amply laced with dreamy filmic overtones, Baw Baw Black Sheep’s omnivorous palette is patently skewed more towards gleefully hyper-colourful curveballs than its monochromatic moniker suggests. Revelling in laid-back vibes, this deliciously cohesive record serves up a smorgasbord of delights that make hay of Snow’s ineffable penchant for flouting hip-hop conventions. Sunny groovers like Mirrors and Disco Pantz find the Dublin rapper deep in his comfort zone – gliding effortlessly over breezy sonics. Elsewhere, Snow’s rangy fluidity waxes radiant on the blaxploitation-indebted Oreos, which sees punchy bars stirred into a simmering jazzy roux. Get stuck in! Released: 09.07.21 www.rejjiesnow.com

4/5

5/5

4/5

GEMMA CULLINGFORD LET ME SPEAK (OUTRÉ RECORDS)

WILL WILDER AH! (SELF-RELEASE)

DARKSIDE SPIRAL (MATADOR)

Words: Ali Welford Having delivered one of last year’s most intoxicating LPs as one half of Sink Ya Teeth, Norfolk bassist, songwriter and synth maestro Gemma Cullingford repeats the trick for 2021 with her maiden solo project. A more personal and emotionally engaging extension of her band’s trademark dancefloorprimed strut, Let Me Speak is imbued with the same wicked, bubbling industrial grooves and ice-cool poise which rendered Two so potent a thrill. It’s on the vocal-led title track and late-album standout Ode to Billie Joe, however, that Cullingford’s individuality and storytelling flair truly shine through, further invigorating a record whose vibrance and vivacity feel purposely at odds with the monochrome image adorning its cover. Don’t let this one slip beneath your radar! Released: 30.07.21 www.gemmacullingford.bandcamp.com

Words: Robert Nichols Ah! is an absolutely unshakeable, unstoppable, incendiary force. Beckoning you take the lost highway and drink from the deep, dark well of shimmering emotional electronica and blistering post punk. Epic guitar lines, sweeping choruses and a deep, imploring exploring voice open portals to investigate introspection, mental health, wealth, corruption, literature, love, war and paranoia of mind control. This is the second album from the dazzlingly talented 22 year old which is all his own work; Will Wilder has written, played, recorded and mixed this masterly album in his lockdown bedroom in County Durham. Exciting, invigorating, energising. Ah! could just reprogramme our minds. The remarkable Will Wilder will totally blow you away. Ah! is a real wow! Released: 02.07.21 www.willwilder.bandcamp.com

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Nicolas Jaar’s commendable refusal to turn backwards has seen his push further towards both ultra-detailed ambience in his solo work and rough-edged house as Against All Logic, but his Darkside project alongside multiinstrumentalist Dave Harrington remains by some distance the most high profile and popular work of his, and their long-awaited second album Spiral makes it clear there is no turning back. Shifting gears from propulsive post-Balearic groove towards shaggy Kosmische jams and roots balladry, Spiral is unmistakeably the sound of live collaboration rather than a couple of producers trading files. Tracks like The Limit and Liberty Bell boast a far stronger pop core than previous Darkside material, but the sound of Spiral is a more organic, weed-covered, off-grid experience. Released: 23.07.21 www.darksidetheband.com

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ALBUMS

4/5

5/5

4/5

EMMA-JEAN THACKRAY YELLOW (MOVEMENTT)

DESPERATE JOURNALIST MAXIMUM SORROW! (FIERCE PANDA RECORDS)

MAXINE FUNKE SEANCE (A COLOURFUL STORM)

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Having already demonstrated the breadth of her musical vision on an eclectic range of EPs ranging from the dance-orientated Ley Lines to the astral freedom of last year’s Um Yang, Emma-Jean Thackray’s debut album Yellow is an impressive and expansive calling card for the latest talent to come off the London jazz circuit conveyor belt. Bringing together Thackray’s gift for Sun Ra-esque big band arrangement and sublime funk with a new focus on songwriting over composition, Yellow is not entirely without missteps – lead single Say Something lands slightly flat – but for much of its running time, the record revels in its luscious arrangements and open-hearted sincerity, from the locomotive call and response of Venus to the golden hour chill of Golden Green. Released: 02.07.21 www.emmajeanthackray.com

Words: Paul Brown Desperate Journalist are one of those bands who just get better with every record, honing their taut, dramatic indie-goth to improbable new levels. On Maximum Sorrow!, they’re still breaking new ground, as demonstrated on brooding opener Formaldehyde, with its call of “when you are gone, who will remember you?” somehow sounding menacing and sweet all at once. They’re still the doyens of faintly 80s rock bangers too, with the propulsive bass of the likes of Personality Girlfriend proving a delicious counterpoint to the strident power of Jo Bevan’s voice. The latter has always been a key factor in the band’s alchemy, but she seems to be growing in confidence with every record. Another absolute corker from a truly underrated band. Released: 02.07.21 www.desperatejournalist.co.uk

Words: Elodie A. Roy New Zealander Maxine Funke recorded her fourth album on a reel-to-reel tape machine late at night, when the noises of Dunedin had finally subsided. Seance is a collection of seven translucent, fluttering songs. Somehow Funke’s home-made melodies sound fuller in the dark, when the fragile languor of her voice and her evaporated finger-picking begin to fill the whole space. Somewhere the ghost of Nick Drake is smiling. What I like best, perhaps, is the perfect relaxation of Funke’s voice. In Moody Relish she speaks and hums rather than sings. We hear the sound of water dripping, the secret music of grass growing, a distant metronome sternly ticking. Yet there is no hurry, no particular place to be: we have all the time in the world. Released: 12.07.21 www.acolourfulstorm.com

4.5 / 5

4/5

4/5

YOLA STAND FOR MYSELF (EASY EYE)

DEAD NATURE WATCH ME BREAK APART (DEAD NATURE RECORDS)

WAVVES HIDEAWAY (FAT POSSUM)

Words: Lee Hammond There is something special about this record from the start; it’s a monumental step up from Yola’s critically acclaimed debut album. Stand For Myself hops around a number of genres, whilst never losing Yola’s signature style. However, there is a rich warmth that underpins the record, much like many of the 70s influences that had a hand in influencing its creation. Yola’s lyrics on Stand For Myself are deeply personal yet relatable, the likes of Now You’re Here really strikes a chord. There is an effortless passion throughout, and when pitched against the beautiful soulful grooves of Dancing Away In Tears or Break The Bough, Stand For Myself is taken to a new level. This is Yola at her finest! Released: 30.07.21 www.iamyola.com

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Words: Stephen Oliver Dead Nature is the solo project of former Spring King singer and producer Tarek Musa. Recorded in his Liverpool studio, with the unmistakable spirit of his DIY ethos, this collection of songs are buzzing with boundless energy. The poppy anthems have sing along choruses over the top of fuzzy basslines, various guitars and keyboards loops. The drumming patterns lend themselves to a live audience clapping along. Expansive upbeat sounds that feel like they will go down well in a live situation. The first listen feels familiar. The songs greet the listener like they are well known, however what makes the album work is that the listener notices something different on repeated plays. This is a euphoric album for the summer. Released: 23.07.21 www.deadnature.co.uk

Words: Kristopher Cook Hideaway is the Wavves you know, only crisper — refreshed even, after four years since their last project. Sonically, this record is immaculate, but don’t get it twisted. The lo-fi/punchy garage rock that brought them to the dance has stuck around, this time buoyed by feelings of restlessness. These anxious anthems are relatable, as they grapple with the doom and despair that comes with getting older in a chaotic world. Deep-end lyrics on songs like Sinking Feeling and The Blame stick with you. Still, Nathan Williams does a stand-up job in keeping the lights on, no matter how dark it gets. Tip: listen to Hideaway at the beach as dusk settles in. Trust me, you’ll get it. Released: 16.07.21 www.wavves.net


ALBUMS

4.5 / 5

4/5

4/5

SNAPPED ANKLES FOREST OF YOUR PROBLEMS (LEAF LABEL)

LUMP ANIMAL (CHRYSALIS/PARTISAN RECORDS)

THE HOLY FAMILY S/T (ROCKET RECORDINGS)

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Forest Of Your Problems feels like an altogether more nocturnal affair than than 2019’s gentrification baiting Stunning Luxury. It doesn’t move too far away from the winning template Snapped Ankles have established, but it’s more strident, colourful and kaleidoscopic. Adding to the band’s perfect amalgamation of psych and Krautrock, Snapped Ankles incorporate some genuinely danceable rhythms and textures. Shifting Basslines Of The Cornucopias bends towards UK garage territory, staccatoing its way to being a career-high for the group. It’s the last three songs, The Prince Is Back, Xylophobia and the title track that see the record’s ambitions go stratospheric: unnerving, fluid and relentless. Here, Snapped Ankles cement their status as being one of the best and most unique bands in Britain. Released: 02.07.21 www.snappedankles.com

Words: Robin Webb Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) join forces again for their second album as Lump. Animal is full of lush production and gloriously leftfield, a surreal stream of lyrical consciousness, high class pop. Thoughtfully constructed throughout, with both musicians being accomplished artists in their field, it’s clearly lovingly formed and sharply focused, and delightfully washes over you. Mike often adopts interesting time signatures in the writing of the music, influenced as he says by his new coastal surroundings, and Laura seamlessly incorporates her vocals interfused across the release. Bloom At Night is a perfect opening track, with its crisp arpeggio and breathy vocals laying a foundation for the rest of the album, with its glisteningly cool 21st Century Kosmische folktronic perspective. Released: 30.07.21 www.lump.world

Words: Robin Webb From the offset this incredible release sets you in place with eyes and ears wide to gaze into its mists, hear its ramblings and immerse you in its exotic psychedelic universe. We have some remarkable talent here, led by our spirit guide David J Smith, Kavus Torabi and Michael J York from Utopia Strong along with Emmett Elvin and Sam Warren from Guapo, they have collectively produced a lysergicinfused Druidic mantra sure to to be heard emanating from a sunset lit stone circle at solstice time for evermore. First improvised and then further manipulated in studio by Smith and engineer Antti Uuismaki, it’s both surreal and magical but never twee, and has a keen edge of strangeness and modern punky mysticism. Released: 02.07.21 www.theholyfamilyuk.bandcamp.com

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MIXTAPE WORDS: ADAM GALLAGHER

My name is Adam Gallagher, I’ve been promoting live music in Teesside for five years under the banner of Famous Last Words and recently I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to book live music for Middlesbrough Empire. I’m beyond excited to start bringing some of my favourite acts to Middlesbrough, where they’ll play inside the Empire’s grand 100+ year old auditorium. Over the years, they’ve had the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Scissor Sisters, You Me At Six and The Pigeon Detectives on their stage and they’ve always championed grassroots music too with Young Rebel Set, Cattle & Cane and The Chapman Family all playing early career shows at the venue, which is something that I’m keen to continue with a new generation of acts from the North East. I want to make everyone feel welcome on Friday nights at the Empire as The Dead Rebel Club caters for live music lovers and night clubbers alike, with three rooms of DJs playing guitar anthems, rock and pop and creating the biggest aftershow party imaginable for some of the UK’s hottest new acts! The following tracks are a selection from some of the artists we have booked for The Dead Rebel Club, which opens on Friday 23rd July. www.themiddlesbroughempire.co.uk

SPINN BILLIE I’ve been a big fan of the Liverpool band since their album released in 2019 and I am loving their new single Billie. It is a feel-good song, something we need after the year we have had. SPINN play the Empire on Friday 30th July.

KOMPARRISON DANCING WITH DEMONS The Teesside band were originally an acoustic duo and have developed over the lockdown era into a full band. Dancing With Demons was their first release as the new look Komparrison, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

LUCY SPRAGGAN LAST NIGHT (BEER FEAR) This song is relatable to literally everyone who has ever got too drunk in a nightclub and woke up questioning what

they did. I like that about Lucy, her songs are very lyrically relatable. She plays the Empire on Friday 5th November.

OLIVIA RODRIGO GOOD 4 U Now this is one of my favourite songs of the year, I remember hearing my girlfriend and her friends blasting it one night in my house and I can’t stop listening to it! Expect this to be playing on a Friday night in Empire.

MARKETPLACE CHARLIE The Hartlepool band are going from strength to strength with their singles and I am loving CHARLIE, everything from the artwork to the production and the live performance of it – if you’ve never seen them before I recommend them. They support SPINN on Friday 30th July.

COLLECTORS CLUB FIRST TO KNOW Collectors Club were the first ever band I saw at the Empire. It was incredible and even to this day I listen to First To Know and it brings back memories of why I wanted to become a music promoter.

MICHAEL GALLAGHER TIME Time is the best material from local musician Michael Gallagher to date in my opinion. I remember booking him for an acoustic set in a pub in Middlesbrough many moons ago – I was blown away then and to see him progress with a full band behind him is incredible.

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 46


28-29 August

47


www.stocktonglobe.co.uk

LIVE MUSIC IS BACK AT THE GLOBE

ROB BRYDON

A NIGHT OF SONGS AND LAUGHTER

FRI 8 OCT 2021

AN EVENING WITH THE WATERBOYS TUE 12 OCT 2021

STEVE HACKETT GENESIS REVISITED

FRI 15 OCT 2021

THE

HOUSE & GARAGE ORCHESTRA

JUDGE JULES LIVE SAT 16 OCT 2021

TIM MINCHIN

AMY MACDONALD SAT 23 OCT 2021

UB40

SAT 13 NOV 2021

THE DUALERS

BACK ENCORE

BIGGA BAGGARIDDIM

SUN 28 NOV 2021

FRI 10 DEC 2021

CHRISTMAS WITH CATTLE & CANE

RONAN KEATING

PAUL CARRACK

21 - 22 NOV 2021

SAT 18 DEC 2021

TWENTY TWENTY

THU 20 JAN 2022

TheGlobeStockton

48

HOUSE & GARAGE ORCHESTRA

SUN 23 JAN 2022

Stockton_Globe

Stockton_Globe

Profile for narc_media

NARC. #174 July 2021  

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