NARC. #191 February 2023

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ISSUE191 FEBRUARY23 FREE RELIABLYINFORMED PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK DAVID BREWIS UNTHANK:SMITH TALIRAW
1 - 4 MAR BOOK NOW AT northernstage.co.uk
17 - 18 FEB
KIN
THE NATURE OF FORGETTING
THEATRE

Greetings Constant Readers, I hope you’re well and your new year started off much better than mine. Between trips to the hospital (Husband, emergency surgery, all fine now), mounting anxiety (mine, quite likely to continue), and a rather large disappointment (understatement) over a cancelled trip, January has not been my friend up to now. However, platitudes like “things could be worse” and “look for the silver linings” have actually been helping, and I must extend thanks to those who pitched in with extra work for this month’s issue and generally kept me sane, you know who you are and you’re lovely. Talking of lovely people, I’m pleased to be leaving you in the large and capable hands of our web editor David Saunders for the next couple of months, as he’s going to be taking on the role of magazine editor too while I bugger off for a bit. With his extra-curricular passions including Nerf guns, running, ghosts and surreal comedy, I’m certain you’ll be kept entertained, but most importantly his vast knowledge of the local music and culture scene, not to mention his canny way with words and passionate approach, mean you’re in excellent hands. Be nice to him, won’t you.

PREVIEWS

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ISSUE191 FEBRUARY23 FREE RELIABLYINFORMED 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 Cover Image Amelia Read Live Photography Iam Burn / Tracy Hyman / Victoria Wai Contributors Liv Aldridge / Jade Mia Broadhead / Arlo Brown / Jonathan Coll / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Lee Hammond / James Hattersley / Tracy Hyman / Gus Ironside / Jason Jones / Adam Kennedy / Lizzie Lovejoy / Ben Lowes-Smith / Robert Nichols / Evie Nicholson / Michael O’Neill / Ikenna Offor / Niamh Poppleton / Helen Redfern / Damian Robinson / Joseph Spence / Dominic Stephenson / Adelle Sutheran / Andrew Thompson / Leigh Venus / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Cameron Wright / Matt Young VISIT US ONLINE WWW.NARCMAGAZINE.COM 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 28 PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS As the Newcastle metal band prepare to unleash their fourth album, they talk to Matt Young about crafting their unique brand of sonic euphoria amid paranoia, introspection and furious energy
4 HIGHLIGHTS The pick of the best events in February 6 FEBRUARY PREVIEWS Live outings for Yungblud, Sweet
The Comet Is Coming, BILK, Tengger,
Carner, Tokky Horror,
Benefits,
Holy
Lynks and loads more; plus exhibitions
and theatrical productions
and much more! INTERVIEWS 30 INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK 32 JOCKSTRAP 33 DAVID BREWIS 34 THE TIMEWASTERS 35 JHANEE WILKINS 36 TALIRAW 37 NOVA TWINS 38 ON POINT MUSIC CONFERENCE 39 NICOLA MANTALIOS 40 UNTHANK:SMITH 41 JAY MOUSSA-MANN LISTINGS 42 LISTINGS The best of the rest… REVIEWS 44 LIVE REVIEWS Reports from the front row of Martha, Generation, clipping., Paul Smith & Friends, Crywank, Richard Hawley, Mary Wallopers, Brockhoff, Girls In Synthesis and more 48 TRACKS Reviews of local singles and EPs from Isabel Maria, Arcade Skies, Mac Turner, Cosial, McCormick, Sisi, Badger, Amplified Man, Deaf Forever, Ten Eighty Trees, The Peevie Wonders and Downtown Lester Brown 50 DEMOS Demo reviews of Jade Mia Broadhead, Guri Yeller, Perri Lovaine, Park View and Northeasterner 51 ALBUMS Featuring new releases from The Go! Team, The Necks, Yo La Tengo, Quasi, Gorillaz, The Waeve, Young Fathers, U.S. Girls, Free Love, M(h)aol, Screaming Females, Liv.e, Death Valley Girls, Faten Kanaan and more 54 MIXTAPE BBC Tees Introducing presenter and rapper Shakk offers up some of his favourite tunes Next Issue Out 1st March
Baboo,
She Drew The Gun, Loyle
Titus Andronicus, Mogwai,
Gojira,
Scum,
of work by Hew Locke at BALTIC, Valkyrie at MIMA, Two Plus Two Makes Four at The Auxiliary, Visions of Ancient Egypt at Laing Art Gallery and Mark Pinder at NGCA; stand-up comedy courtesy of Sophie Duker at various venues, Joe Wells at The Stand, Zoe Lyons at The Witham/The Stand and Alun Cochrane at Bishop Auckland Town Hall;
including The Nature of Forgetting at Northern Stage, Person Spec at Alphabetti, Everyman at People’s Theatre, Just Jam Intl at Dance City,

PREVIEWS

FEBRUARY’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITIONS, A RARE PERFORMANCE FROM AN ELUSIVE ART ROCK BAND, SUPPORTIVE NETWORKING FOR WOMEN AND GENDER MINORITIES IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND MUCH MORE.

ART & LIT

UNTIL SATURDAY 18

SALLY MADGE

Nowhere Better Than This Place is a retrospective exhibition celebrating the work of renowned North East contemporary artist Sally Madge (1946-2020), whose rich multimedia output embraces ceramics, painting, sculpture, collage, film, installation and performance with recurring themes of power and identity seasoned with mischievous wit and wisdom to intrigue and delight.

Newcastle Contemporary Art www.visitnca.com

MUSIC THURSDAY 2

THE RESIDENTS

A rare live performance from the elusive and unpredictable American art rock band, this show will celebrate 50 years of their avant-garde music and multimedia projects. The subtly named Dog Stab! tour will see the band focus on their iconic Duck Stab! album as well as cherry-pick from their incredible back catalogue. Expect an outing for tracks from the band’s latest Metal Meat And Bone record too.

Boiler Shop, Newcastle www.residents.com

COMEDY

ART & LIT THURSDAY 2

BRIGHT LIGHTS: YOUTH ARTS EXHIBITION 2023

Arts Centre Washington’s annual celebration of exciting artwork by young people aged 11-19 will see a vast array of existing and newly created work across art forms including visual arts, sculpture, creative writing, illustration, photography, animation, textiles, music, video and more, with the exhibition representing a great opportunity to spot up and coming talent.

Arts Centre Washington www.sunderlandculture.org.uk

MUSIC THURSDAY 9

FORWARD NE

The supportive network for women and gender minority musicians and those working in the music industry return with a new year meet up. Late’n’Live offer up their excellent music quiz alongside some live tunes from local musicians, plus Shout Up! will talk about their work in creating safe spaces in bars and clubs. Entry is free.

The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle www.facebook.com/forwardne

MUSIC FRIDAY 10

PHIL MADELEY

Independent’s new club and live music night Circuit kicks off with alt. indie songwriter Phil Madeley, whose style is tinged with blues and disdain, and local artist Chloe Gardner among others. Phil also plays Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough the following night Independent, Sunderland www.philmadeley.com

SATURDAY 11 SAMMY DOBSON

Comedian Sammy Dobson regales her experiences of visiting Berlin’s premier sex club and the awakening it provoked within her. What Would The Jazz Gimp Do? is full of unpredictability, joy, regret and living life to the full.

Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

ART & LIT

SATURDAY 11

WILHELMINA BARNSGRAHAM

Paths To Abstraction is a large-scale exhibition which explores the work of one of the most significant 20th Century modern artists. The celebrated Scottish artist’s work ranges from abstract canvases and around 70 paintings and drawings, the highlights of which include her striking depictions of the Grindelwald Glacier in Switzerland. Runs until Saturday 20th May.

Hatton Gallery, Newcastle www.hattongallery.org.uk

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FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHTS

MUSIC SATURDAY 11

POLEVAULTER

Endless Window continues to bring us the good stuff, with the first EW gig of the year headlined by Polevaulter, who are making a name for themselves with their in-yr-face blend of industrial clang and post-punk angles. There’s a strong supporting bill too, including the increasingly impressive Boy Latex. Get stuck in.

Little Buildings, Newcastle www.polevaulter.bandcamp.com

COMEDY

TUESDAY 14

ANTI-VALENTINE’S DAY

If you’re sick of the bullshit that accompanies Valentine’s Day, whether you’re coupled up or not, The Stand has a great alternative for you. Inviting you to “laugh in a dark basement with us”, their Anti-Valentine’s stand-up show will feature four comedians certain to cheer you up (plus there’s booze).

The Stand, Newcastle www.thestand.co.uk

MUSIC

SATURDAY 18

RUN LOGAN RUN

Bristol’s Run Logan Run are at the forefront of Britain’s pulsing new jazz scene, bringing an alchemical fusion of surging, polyrhythmic alt. breakbeats and screaming guttural sax. Their latest album, 2022’s Nature Will Take Care Of You, is an ambitious and radical demonstration of the power of improvised jazz. Don’t miss them!

Sage Gateshead www.runloganrun.com

FILM MONDAY 20

I GET KNOCKED DOWN + Q&A

After various delays, the world finally gets to see former Chumbawamba singer Dunstan Bruce’s remarkable – and remarkably honest – account both of the band’s rollercoaster Tubthumping period and its personal aftermath. Moving, thrilling and thoughtprovoking, it’s a beautiful documentary. Bruce will be hosting a Q&A afterwards too, and he’s always open and charming so that’s another reason to go.

Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle www.tynesidecinema.co.uk

MUSIC

MONDAY 20

AUTUMNS

Autumns is an outlet for electronic post-punk with a lethal pulse, featuring a fusion of transgressive noise, dysfunctional metal dance and DIY punk angst, and the project has developed a notorious reputation for highly intense live shows. Support comes from The Million, Haar and Thomas Tyler.

The Auxiliary, Middlesbrough www.industrialcoast.bigcartel.com

MUSIC THURSDAY 23

YABBA

YABBA’s dark, intense and danceable sound is self described as a “sleaze-disco, selfindulgent, drug jam”. Support comes from a couple of well regarded local acts, No Teeth – whose jarring noise wave style will enliven and warm up any room – and TV Death, whose essential rock and roll is comparable to the likes of The Kills.

Bobik’s, Newcastle www.facebook.com/yabbaband

MUSIC

FRIDAY 24

KIIK AMOR

Three experimental composers, producers and performers explore visceral expression and divine queerness. Kiik Amor’s work combines recordings of refined sound installation pieces including vibrating latex membranes with savage rot, broken pop melodies and hyper-active, manic beat making. Composer, producer, performance artist and DJ Sarahsson channels her experience with synaesthesia, and experimental artist Peaches uses a variety of visual arts, magick and music to grapple with topics of life, death, peace and pain. Cobalt Studios, Newcastle www.cobaltstudios.co.uk

FILM FRIDAY 24 BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL

Celebrating the world’s best adventure filmmakers and explorers as they push themselves to the limits in the most remote and stunning corners of the world, the Banff Mountain Film Festival shows off epic human-powered feats, life-affirming challenges and mind-blowing cinematography in an adrenaline-fuelled night of screenings which will ignite your passion for adventure!

Playhouse Whitley Bay

www.playhousewhitleybay.co.uk

COMEDY MONDAY 27

JAKE DONALDSON

Praised for his witty and anecdotal style, self-described “visually impaired and perpetually anxious” Newcastle comedian Jake Donaldson’s new show, Neurotica, is a combination of storytelling and stand-up comedy which explores his insecurities as an anxious, modern-day man trying to be the good guy in a world of toxic masculinity.

The Stand, Newcastle www.thestand.co.uk

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Image by Simon Holliday

MUSIC BENEFITS @ MIDDLESBROUGH EMPIRE

Words: Jason Jones

What do Black Francis, Steve Albini and Elijah Wood, aka Frodo Baggins, all have in common? They are all vocal advocates of Teesside’s very own Benefits… but then again, of course they

are; they’re only human (and a hobbit). The snarling collective head out on tour again this spring, but will first be dipping a proverbial toe into the waters of the live scene with a triple combo of gigs in early February, including a hometown tear-up at The Empire in Middlesbrough on Friday 3rd February. Melding aspects of electronica, industrial rock, hip-hop and garage to riotous effect, Benefits’ infectious urgency and unforgiving political agenda has catapulted them to a richly deserved status as one of Britain’s most important underground bands. Slashing at the artifice of a mainstream

post-truth discourse through frontman Kingsley Hall’s loquacious, ranting diatribes and a backdrop of punishing, savage beats, the group rally and rail with a vital fury that has to be witnessed to be fully appreciated. Formidable and looming larger and larger, Benefits kick lumps out of everything in their path, whether it be the confines of musical pigeonholes, or the heaps of bullshit that the megalomaniacs who run this broken island force us to wade through day after day.

Benefits play Middlesbrough Empire on Friday 3rd February.

www.benefitstheband.com

6 PREVIEWS
Image

COMEDY

ALUN COCHRANE @ BISHOP AUCKLAND TOWN HALL

It isn’t the first time I’ve banged the drum for them, but I can’t understate the brilliance of Hilarity Bites when it comes to being one of the region’s, and indeed one of the country’s, finest purveyors of all things side-splitting and

grin-inducing.

Take the line-up at

Auckland

Hall on Friday 17th February for example: headliner Alun Cochrane will almost certainly be familiar to anyone who’s slightly dipped their toes in the panel show waters, with his “no-nonsense comedy about funny nonsense” having taken him as far as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Dave’s One Night Stand, Have I Got News For You, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Mock The Week and Live At The Comedy Store. His unique brand of comedy takes the mundane, everyday aspects of life, turning them on their heads and finding the goldmine hiding within. Support comes from Pete

Selwood, whose witty explorations of twenty-something

gloom has bagged him the (deep breath) Lawrence Batley New Yorkshire Comedian of the Year, and local fave Lee Kyle, a former male Spice Girls tribute act, turned professional wrestler, turned professional comedian. There will also be an (as yet unannounced) newcomer thrown into the mix, making for one hell of a proving ground.

Alun Cochrane, Pete Selwood and Lee Kyle perform at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on Friday 17th February. www.hilaritybites.co.uk

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Bishop Town British
February Gig Highlights Head to sagegateshead.com/whatson for our full gig listings. @Sage_Gateshead SATURDAY 4 FEBRUARY Fisherman’s Friends Sage One RIOPY plus Adam Naas Sage Two WEDNESDAY 8 FEBRUARY Transatlantic Sessions Sage One FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY The Magpie Arc Sage Two SUNDAY 12 FEBRUARY Mogwai plus Brainiac Sage One THURSDAY 16 FEBRUARY Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells - A 50th Anniversary Celebration Sage One From The Glasshouse #9 Featuring Yaatri, Cece and more Sage Two FRIDAY 17 FEBRUARY Seyed Ali Jaberi and the Hamdel Ensemble Sage Two SATURDAY 18 FEBRUARY Run Logan Run plus Annie Gardiner Sage Two THURSDAY 23 FEBRUARY Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - Live Sage Two

MUSIC BILK @ THE CLUNY 2

We’re only three years into the decade, and yet the 2020s are already proving my personal theory that the culture of a particular decade will always, in some way, be in thrall to the aesthetics and trends that were all the rage two decades prior. My sources are too vast for the word count I’m working with here, but the 00s felt, in many ways, in thrall to the 80s (the ‘indie sleaze’ movement, FKA: the post-punk revival) and the 10s felt, coincidentally, in thrall to the 90s (the house revival, the streetwear/ baggy jeans revival).

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the 2020s seems to find us, with music in particular, mining the 00s. Just listen to Radio 1 for an hour and you’ll be hit with garage, DnB and jungle, alongside the feted revival of the post-punk-revival. A case in point can be found in the anything-goes attitude of BILK, who will grace the hallowed boards of The Cluny 2 on Wednesday 22nd February. The trio boast an eclectic sound immediately bringing to mind the spirit of Jamie T and The Streets. Just Don’t Work For Me, the lead single from their self-titled debut album, is a brilliant distillation of their spirit, being punky, anthemic and cathartic.

BILK play The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Wednesday 22nd February. www.bilkband.co.uk

STAGE TINY FRAGMENTS OF BEAUTIFUL LIGHT @ ALPHABETTI THEATRE

Almost everyone has had the feeling that they just don’t belong in a group. It’s a subject explored by Northumberland-based creative Allison Davies in her show Tiny Fragments of Beautiful Light at Alphabetti Theatre from Tuesday 31st January-Saturday 18th February.

The 75 minute piece explores the story of Elsa who has been feeling as if she were invisible, or as if she was trying to get into a building without any doors…Elsa’s life has never been boring, but has often been a struggle. She doesn’t believe that she could ever fit in with anyone, until she meets Carmen. When Carmen just seems to ‘get her’ Elsa finds herself suddenly thrown down a path of introspection in order to learn why school was always such a nightmare, and romance was a mystery, until now.

Taking the time to look at life through someone else’s eyes, Tiny Fragments of Beautiful Light explores one woman’s journey of selfdiscovery, and will chime with anyone who has ever felt like an outcast or has experienced the intensive search for identity, in an immersive and interactive celebration of the joy and freedom that comes when we live as we truly are.

Tiny Fragments of Beautiful Light is performed at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 31st January-Saturday 18th February. www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

MUSIC LYNKS @ THE CLUNY

Words: Lee Fisher

Lynks – aka Brett Elliot – has been causing a special kind of havoc for a couple of years now, the self-proclaimed ‘drag monster’ (occasionally backed by their Lynks Shower Gels) releasing a series of catchy as fuck in-yr-face queercore anthems and tongue-incheek provocations that have been getting a lot of attention all over. Imagine Leigh Bowery fronting Fischer Spooner or something equally, gloriously demented. Just check out the video for Everyone’s Hot (& I’m Not) and you’ll get the idea (does it remind anyone else of My Vag by Awkwafina?).

And now they’re heading out on the DIY Now & Next Tour, topping the bill for the magazine’s new talent tour that takes in six dates, one of which stops off at Newcastle’s Cluny on Friday 24th February alongside Glaswegian post-punks Vlure and Circe.

Reports suggest that the Lynks live performance is something to behold, so if you fancy some banging eighties-tinged synth pop, irony-drenched queer lyrics and delicious costumes, you know where to be.

Lynks, Vlure and Circe play The Cluny, Newcastle on Friday 24th February. www.lynkslynkslynks.bandcamp.com

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PREVIEWS

ART & LIT

HEW LOCKE: THE PROCESSION @ BALTIC

Words:

In a time of huge social and financial instability, with collective public action rising, Hew Locke raises a standard (almost literally) in his installation piece The Procession, which is at BALTIC from Saturday 18th February to Sunday 11th June.

The Guyana raised artist has always held a concern for social movement, having arrived in the South American country from Edinburgh just in time to see independence achieved. Now, his work is directly concerned with culture, colonialism and “the echoes of history”, as he puts it.

In The Procession, originally exhibited at Tate Britain, viewers will find a large amount of sculpture in a variety of mediums. Locke favours the use of fabrics and cardboard, alternating freely between lavish, colourful pieces and rougher materials, giving the work an effect of high sensory stimulation.

Locke describes the work as being akin to an epic poem, something that sits deep in our culture and forms part of our identity. He implores us to empathise with the sculpted figures, who, he says, are defiant, but ultimately about hope: “a positive movement of people” that invites us to walk, understand and identify with them, and to imagine the social, political and cultural possibilities of the future.

Hew Locke: The Procession is at BALTIC, Gateshead from Saturday 18th February to Sunday 11th June. www.baltic.art

EVENTS ARTIFICIAL STUPIDITY @ LIFE SCIENCE CENTRE

Words: Adelle Sutheran Artificial Intelligence is very much embedded in our personal and professional lives. From Siri to Alexa, self-driving cars to the prospect

of one day having robots in the home (there is a film or two about this), but what happens if it all goes wrong? On Thursday 9th February Life Science Centre invite a panel of experts to chew the fat and really explore this conundrum in an adult’s only evening (with a pay bar) and audience participation (if you choose), with an expectation that you don’t attend if you’re easily offended…peaked your interest?

Questions to the expert panel – which includes Prof Subramanian Ram Ramamoorthy, Chair of Robot Learning and Autonomy at the University of Edinburgh; Dr Clara Crivellaro, Senior Research Fellow at Newcastle University; Luke Chambers, Researcher in Artificial Intelligence Law at Northumbria University and Dr Mhairi Aitken, Ethics Research Fellow at Alan Turing Institute – are encouraged.

Science Speakeasy: Artificial Stupidity takes place at Life Science Centre, Newcastle on Thursday 9th February. www.life.org.uk

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Hew Lock - The Procession, (c) Tate Photography, Joe Humphrys

MUSIC KID KAPICHI @ NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ UNION

Words: Laura Doyle

Anyone else find it really annoying when an artist is told to “stick to their genre” and “stay out of politics” for voicing the slightest bit of social concern? One band sticking the middle

finger up to that mentality is Hastings’ own Kid Kapichi, who has apparently made it their business to get all up in yours. Their discovery and rise to popularity at the hands of Frank Carter of Rattlesnakes fame speaks volumes – and their various outspoken and politically rebellious efforts (including an impromptu visit to the country’s number one party venue, 10 Downing Street) cements their reputation as a no-nonsense, hard-hitting rock band ready to take on the establishment. Sophomore record Here’s What You Could Have Won is their first on a ‘proper’ label, but there’s no sign of selling out for this riled-up bunch. They’ve laid

their groundwork both career-wise and IRL-wise, so when you hear them complain about their lot in life, you know it comes from experience. If you’re also fed up with our social disorder and want to get some energy out in between protests, their show at NUSU on Friday 10th February will be just the ticket; Kid Kapichi’s bass-driven grooves and red-hot lyrics fuelled by our nation’s politically inept ruling class may well be in order.

Kid Kapichi play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Friday 10th February. www.kidkapichi.com

10 PREVIEWS KU • THE SOCIAL ROOM • PRINCE REGENT ST. STOCKTON-ON-TEES | KUSTOCKTON.CO.UK | SEETICKETS.CO.UK stockton stockton 02 FEB stockton 11 MAR stockton 25 MAR JUST FINN FORSTER stockton BANK HOLIDAY WKND SUNDAY 30TH APRIL stockton 29 APR FEB soul & funk club FINN FORSTER 04 FEB SHAKK + stockton 03 MAR MEGAN WYN + Trunky Juno RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS VAN HALEN GUNS N’ ROSES THE ALTERNATIVE TRIBUTE FESTIVAL ULTIMATE TRIBUTES TO THE STONE ROSES

MUSIC TITUS ANDRONICUS @ POP RECS LTD.

‘Unforgettable’ is one of those terms we reviewers tend to overuse. How many nights we casually tossed the term at have actually lived long in the memory? And can a show only be deemed such with the benefit of hindsight?

In any case, one which has stood the test of time is Titus Andronicus’ only previous visit to our region – a remarkable, raucous appearance at Newcastle’s Cluny 2, which even now inspires knowing looks and hushed, revenant tones among those lucky enough to have attended.

More than 12 years have passed since that show, and for many the album they were touring, The Monitor, remains their finest hour. Nevertheless, the New Jersey troupe remain a formidable proposition. A worthy addition to their canon, last year’s The Will To Live harbours all the frenetic drive, lofty designs and bare-all lyricism which have rendered Patrick Stickles and company such an enduring cult favourite in the indie and punk worlds – and crucially, their reputation as an explosive live act remains undimmed. This month’s return, then, feels long overdue, with the band paying their maiden visit to Sunderland’s Pop Recs Ltd. on Saturday 11th February. Expect fresh additions like (I’m) Screwed to raise the roof, alongside a wealth of old favourites which snared your heart in the first place. To reel out another writer’s cliché, this one promises to be ‘unmissable!’

Titus Andronicus play Pop Recs Ltd.,

STAGE EVERYMAN @ PEOPLE’S THEATRE

When an anonymous Medieval author wrote a morality play to propagate followers for the Catholic Church in the 15th Century, they may have hoped that their work would survive 500 years hence. They probably did not foresee its reimagining at the hands of former Poet Laureate and devout atheist Carol Ann Duffy. When God calls on Death to collect the original arrogant, materialistic and selfish Everyman for judgement, his only hope of salvation is through the soul-cleansing Catholic Sacraments. Duffy’s adaptation, which is performed at People’s Theatre from Tuesday 14th-Saturday 18th February, keeps this personality, but updates the central character to a more recognisable Every Man for the 21st Century. Our Everyman takes Earth and all its gifts for granted, and reaps without thought – but this Everyman has no religion to strike him with fear and guilt until he submits. Instead, follow the modern Everyman as, deserted by everything earthly that he knew, he learns the error of his ways from new friend Knowledge to discover not only his own salvation, but that of his entire society. Duffy’s adaptation serves as a reminder to do good not for the sake of your own soul, but to do good for goodness’ sake.

Everyman is performed at People’s Theatre from Tuesday 14th-Saturday 18th February. www.peoplestheatre.co.uk

MUSIC DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW FEST @ THE LUBBER FIEND

When it comes to hardcore punk in Newcastle, nobody does it better than The Lubber Fiend. The non-profit, DIY venue is carving out quite the reputation for its ferocious underground shows, bringing in the most vicious talent from across the region, the country, and, on occasion, beyond. On Saturday 11th February, the Fiend will play host to Does Your Mother Know Fest, a snarling all-dayer boasting an elephantine bill brimming with lethal bands. Piling in on the carnage will be scene veterans The Flex, still razing stages a decade after their inception, while local rabble-rousers Wise Up and Spit will be hurling their usual dollop of mayhem into the proverbial witches’ brew. From Denmark, Indre Krig will be rolling through the Toon with their signature D-beat goodness, as will feral Leeds-based outfit Motive. Making up the rest of bill are Irish upstarts Goon, black metal punks Mortsafe and promising newcomers Bitchfinder General, with more acts still to be announced. Advanced tickets for this feast of ferocity are £15, which, in the humble opinion of this writer, feels like an absolute steal for a full Saturday celebrating some of the most bruising bands the hardcore scene has to offer.

Does Your Mother Know Fest takes place at The Lubber Fiend, Newcastle on Saturday 11th February. www.thelubberfiend.com

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Sunderland on Saturday 11th February. www.titusandronicus.net Titus Andronicus

MUSIC HOLY SCUM @ LITTLE BUILDINGS

Words: Laura Doyle

Experimental noise rock collective Holy Scum give off *vibes*. Formed in Manchester by a mismatched band of rockers, hip-hoppers and other off-cuts, their discography alone gives you a clear idea of what to expect from the foursome… Because only a band as bold, brash and crass as this one could get away with twin EPs entitled KILL and FUCK. But so what if you can’t play them in front of your Nanna after your Sunday roast without serious risk to her health? Thankfully, they toned their naming conventions down a touch for their debut album Strange Desires, so you should be able to have their record sleeve on display (although you’re still gonna want headphones for when you’re around fragile friends and family members).

For their show at Little Buildings on Wednesday 15th February you may want to proceed with caution, unless you’re totally

down with authority-questioning, societydismantling, raucous heavy rock ranging from fuzzy to sludgy and everything in between.

Holy Scum’s multi-layered, multidimensional music hits an auditory uncanny valley that you feel in your stomach; it feels like it should be wanted on multiple accounts of disturbing the peace. It’s essential listening for those who question social conventions, and even more essential listening for those who don’t.

Holy Scum play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Wednesday 15th February. www.holyscum.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT VALKYRIE @ MIMA

Words: Joseph Spence Middlesbrough’s Institute of Modern Art sees the advent of a new commission between MIMA and Stellar Projects this month. Artist Alison Smith and technologist Matt Collins have collaborated on an interactive light sculpture named Valkyrie, which is made up of a thousand LEDs and recycled plastic

material.

The resulting piece, which will be on display in MIMA’s Garden from Thursday 2nd February until Sunday 12th March, results in a large colourful orb which transmits light, creating an array of ethereal shapes and projections across its textured, floating surface. Named after the Viking legend of the Valkyries –female warriors in Norse mythology who were said to create the Northern Lights with reflections of their armour as they rode to Valhalla – the dancing waves of light are reminiscent of the Aurora Borealis, and viewers are encouraged to interact with the installation to create their own aurora, eliciting an energy between viewer and the artwork itself.

Both Alison Smith and Matt Collins have a preoccupation with creating dazzling light sculpture and immersive installations, with Alison’s work often seeing her collaborate with scientists to explore natural phenomena and environmental issues.

Valkyrie is on display in the garden at MIMA, Middlesborough from Thursday 2nd February until Sunday 12th March. www.mima.art

12 PREVIEWS
Holy Scum

MUSIC YUNGBLUD @ UTILITA ARENA

Words: Cameron Wright

In 2018 Yungblud played upstairs in what was Newcastle’s O2 Academy 2. The tiny venue saw a crowded congregation of adolescents shuffle in and party, relentlessly. Spearheaded by Dom, the face of Yungblud, the night was a riot.

A firecracker of energy, Dom darted from each end of the stage, dedicating 100% to each second of the performance. Each bead of sweat, each yelp and each jump into the heavens, helped create a wonderfully exciting concert, that above all highlighted the potential of this young performer. Four years later, a lot has changed. The guitar-centric, indie hits that defined Yungblud’s sound have evolved into lively pop tracks imbued with big synths and bigger choruses, and a recent BBC interview with the indomitable Louis Theroux has widened Yungblud’s fanbase even further (even if it did

make for uncomfortable viewing at times). The 2022 self-titled album sees Yungblud as a defined pop star, and he’ll return to Newcastle for a massive show at Utilita Arena on Tuesday 21st February.

While the sounds might have changed since my last encounter with the band, what is sure to remain is their unflappable energy which ensures everyone is giddy and connected. A special support slot from pop punk icons Neck Deep will ensure a fun show all round.  Yungblud and Neck Deep perform at Utilita Arena, Newcastle on Tuesday 21st February. www.yungbludofficial.com

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dancecity.co.uk | 0191 261 0505 RICHARD CHAPPELL DANCE Friday 24 March, 7:30pm

MUSIC LOYLE CARNER @ O2 CITY HALL

By the time Loyle Carner released Hugo, his third studio album, the accompanying 18-date live tour had already sold out in a matter of minutes. The tour culminates with a homecoming show at Wembley Arena, but it starts right here on Thursday 23rd February at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall. About as intimate as it gets for the UK’s best rapper.

Carner has built an enviable reputation as a live performer during his relatively short career, but removed from the hedonistic aspect of being a musician because of you-know-what, “no shows, no backstage, no festivals, no photoshoots” Loyle turned inwards. Freed from the pressure of the relentless album/touring cycle, Hugo’s content is heavier and more introspective. But the beats are the same old Loyle. His musical palate, an ongoing collaboration with kindred spirits like Tom Misch, Jordon Rakei, and Rebel Kleff, is now so distinctive that the track for HGU from Carner’s third record sprang from searching YouTube for ‘Loyle Carner type beats’; one of several incredible details from the excellent recent

Access All Areas Documentary made for the BBC. Listeners to any of the accompanying radio shows will know that Carner is a man of impeccable taste, so as you might expect his tour support roster is killer. Longtime Jorja Smith collaborator Wesley Joseph is well worth getting in early for.

If a ‘Loyle Carner type beat’ is melodic, often jazzy and rich in depth, a Loyle Carner type show is energetic, emotional and cathartic; an enforced two year hiatus is sure to dial every aspect up one notch more.

Loyle Carner and Wesley Joseph play O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Thursday 23rd February. www.loylecarner.com

ART & LIT

PLUS TWO MAKES FOUR @ THE AUXILIARY

Words: Lizzie Lovejoy

From Thursday 16th February The Auxiliary in Middlesbrough will showcase the challenging exhibition Two Plus Two Makes Four, curated by Broken Grey Wires (aka Lizz Brady) and featuring 17 different artists. This exhibition creates a space for visitors to catch their breath and consider the modern mental health crisis through a new lens, with a collection of work

that is as joyful as it is sombre. Both raw and political, this work is rooted in the lived experience of mental illness.

Two Plus Two Makes Four features work from leading artists including Bill Viola, Pipilotti Rist, Gillian Wearing, Martin Creed and the late American DIY artist Daniel Johnston, across a range of mediums including paper, neon, photography, interactive installation and video. This exhibition encourages conversation with a Mad Manual Toolkit used in the gallery, and The Comfort Zone, an area where visitors are invited to relax and reflect on the show and its themes.

Broken Grey Wires explained: “This project has been developing for over three years, with COVID, personal health, grief and finances disrupting plans. The work will examine distance and communication, especially thinking of themes of isolation. My own thought processes have been tested and personally challenged throughout, with a much more rounded, important and generous project being the outcome.”

The exhibition promises to offer the viewer a valuable, deep and creative exploration into the world of mental health.

Two Plus Two Makes Four is at The Auxiliary, Middlesbrough from Thursday 16th February until Friday 24th March. www.brokengreywires.co.uk

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Loyle Carner by Jesse Crankson
TWO

STAGE THE NATURE OF FORGETTING @ NORTHERN STAGE

Words: Laura Doyle

Remember when you were a kid tidying your room, and it would take you three times as long to do anything because you’d spend most of the time faffing about with forgotten trinkets and toys? Memory is a powerful thing, and it’s easy to get lost in it. Perhaps that’s why

dementia and other such diseases which cause cognitive impairment terrify us so, because who do we become without our memories?

The Nature of Forgetting has been exploring this very question since its inception way back in 2017. Now, after an extensive world tour across 15 counties, Theatre RE has brought their critically acclaimed show back to the UK, stopping off at Northern Stage on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February, for a night you should never forget.

Its central figure, 55 year old Tom, has early onset dementia – and while preparing to celebrate his birthday, begins an exploration of his memories and sense of self as triggered by

the fabrics and objects in his wardrobe. This non-verbal performance is perfectly orchestrated to muster emotion from the audience wherever it is staged, because these experiences are as universal as memory itself.

Following its first performance at Northern Stage, a post-show discussion with Newcastle University’s Dr Meher Lad, a Clinical Research Fellow, and a nurse from Dementia UK will be held to explore the medical conditions which form the backbone of The Nature of Forgetting. The Nature of Forgetting is performed at Northern Stage, Newcastle on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February. www.northernstage.co.uk

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MUSIC

I KNOW A GARDEN:

WANDERING

OAK’S 9TH BIRTHDAY @ THE COMMON ROOM

Words: Claire

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re big fans of promoters who push boundaries and comfort zones, therefore it follows that we’re also big fans of pretty much anything Newcastlebased promoters Wandering Oak do. Bringing artists to the region that may previously have passed us by, their roster is regularly packed full of interesting noises which usually run the gamut of “psychedelia, rock ‘n’ roll, alt. folk, eccentric electronics, post-punk, no wave, dreamgaze and beyond”, and in the past the winning duo of Walter Allison and John Nellist have brought such legendary artists as Acid Mothers Temple, Black Country New Road, Lost Bitchos, Minami Deutsch, Paddy Steer, Shilpa Ray, Snapped Ankles, Yard Act and countless more to the region.

On Saturday 4th February they celebrate their ninth birthday with a show entitled I Know A Garden, which will be spread across two rooms at Newcastle’s gorgeous Common Room, and the line-up is as special as you’d expect. Heading up proceedings are North

East’s motorik space-disco duo Warm Digits, who’ll be joined by post-apocalyptic fuzz rock project Large Plants; cosmic-country courtesy of L.T. Leif; the surreal and futuristic contemporary electronica of Crimewave; Kraut-leaning post-rockers Parastatic; woozy surf pop six-piece Midnight Rodeo; and Rüne, the long-standing collaboration between local bluesman John Nellist and cinematic folk artist Trev Gibb.

At a time when everyone’s feeling the pinch and gig tickets are a luxury, if you put your pennies into anyone’s pot this month make it the ones who really go the extra mile.

Wandering Oak’s ninth birthday celebration, I Know A Garden, takes place at The Common Room, Newcastle on Saturday 4th February. www.linktr.ee/wanderingoakuk

STAGE JUST JAM INTERNATIONAL 2023 BATTLE FINALS @ DANCE CITY

On Saturday 25th February Dance City will be hosting the 12th annual Just Jam International breaking event, creating a world-class breaking platform for international and

national dancers to come to the North East to battle and perform. Just Jam International has been creating world-class hip-hop dance platforms since 2008, built on an ethos inspired and driven by the core values of hip-hop culture: peace, love, unity and having fun. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about breaking culture, enjoy the amazing atmosphere, cheer for your favourite crews and be a part of this truly exciting event. A family friendly experience, Just Jam International is a great day out for everyone. Here’s how it works: breaking crews from the UK and Europe will compete in the Cypher Qualifiers, where judges will pick their top 32 crews to progress to the 2 v 2 Battle Finals. This is a space to explore the future of hip-hop culture in the North East and beyond, as young people come together to create a community dedicated to paving the way in the modern era of breaking culture. And so, like-minded individuals with a passion for breaking and hip-hop get to collaborate with local, national and international partners in this exciting vision. The event promises high quality production alongside warm and welcoming vibes, so if you’re new to the breaking world, you’ll soon get caught up in the excitement of the battles. Bring it on!

Just Jam International 2023 Battle Finals take place at Dance City, Newcastle on Saturday 25th February.

www.facebook.com/btcjustjam

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Warm Digits

COMEDY

JOE WELLS: I AM AUTISTIC @ THE STAND

Words:

Visit The Stand in Newcastle on Saturday 18th February for a comedy show that we didn’t know we needed. Joe Wells: I Am Autistic is an hour-long stand-up routine in celebration

of autism, a critique of the language used to describe autism and one man’s humorously told journey into his own identity. Joe found himself forced to act as a representative for all autistic people after a stand-up routine about his (severely) non-autistic brother went viral, a high pressure role that he wasn’t planning on applying for. This show explores how yes, Joe is autistic (not a person with autism) and that he is also a comedian (not a person with comedy). Fast-paced, highly energetic, as well as challenging, this stand-up performance

promises a great time for everyone both on and off the spectrum.

If you have enjoyed his previous critically acclaimed show Joe Wells Doesn’t Want To Do Political Comedy Anymore!, then the follow up will not disappoint. Joe’s atypical comedy routine is an exploration of personal identity, neurodiversity and the ups and downs that come with social media fame that will have you laughing all night.

Joe Wells: I Am Autistic is at The Stand, Newcastle on Saturday 18th February. www.joewells.org.uk

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Joe Wells by Ed Moore
www.live.org.uk (0191) 232 1232 Thu 2 – Sat 25 Mar 2023 A knockout play about Labour, Love and the Beautiful Game A Live Theatre and Emmerson Ward Production
Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3DQ
By Rob Ward

MUSIC

MOGWAI @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Ali Welford

Mogwai surely require no introduction in 2023, and if you’re reading this with interest it’s a fair bet you’ll already have ticked them off your live bucket list. Most of you, then, won’t need reminding of the extraordinary crescendos and barrelling sonic assaults the post-rock goliaths summon on-stage – yet

with finances tight and so many great gigs on offer, it’s not unreasonable to ask why we should bother this time around…

Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, these shows mark a belated victory lap after the Scots’ most recent album, As The Love Continues, enjoyed an unlikely surge to the summit of the UK Album Chart. Secondly, they’ve enlisted an absolute howitzer of a support act in cult indie noisemakers Brainiac. Bar a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reunion in 2019, these dates are the Ohio band’s first since 1997, and their premature dissolution following the sudden passing of vocalist Tim

Taylor. And then there’s Stuart Braithwaite’s own pitch, with the guitarist promising the current tour will be Mogwai’s last for “quite a while” (“nothing ominous… but if you want to see us play, this is the last chance for a bit…”).

Of course, if you haven’t yet experienced the awesome power, absorbing beauty and face-melting volume of a Mogwai live show, these are merely extra fillips. You know you want to!

Mogwai and Brainiac play Sage Gateshead on Sunday 12th February. www.mogwai.scot

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PREVIEWS Newcastle / UK NE2 1AP cobaltstudios.co.uk 2023 Jan 23rdApr 02nd Spring Season

ART & LIT

MARK PINDER @ NGCA

The North/South divide is real – and it sucks. It sucks even more to remember that the shiny ‘Levelling Up’ programme certain politicians love to spout off about will almost certainly never see the light of day up in our neck of the woods. Don’t believe me? Mark Pinder’s photographic retrospective, entitled Macromancy, at Sunderland’s NGCA chronicles the changing social and political landscape of the UK since the rise of Thatcher – and in particular the transformation of the North East across his 35 year career.

Ours was a region with an economy based on industry: coal, glass, iron, steel and shipbuilding all had strong roots here before they were dismantled and we dwindled in importance in the eyes of the bigwigs. The North East’s deprivation is rendered even more heartbreaking when viewed from the perspective of this photographer who, along with everyone else in this region, calls it home. Without genuine affection for the North East this is just a collection of photographs from bygone days, but locals – be they born and bred here or those who made it their own – may feel the tug of frustration for a land that may as well have been abandoned by the ones who were supposed to be supporting it. If you love where you live, then let Macromancy remind you of what the North East is worth – and that it’s worth fighting for.

Mark Pinder: Macromancy – Britain And The North East of England 1986-2022 is at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art,

Sunderland from Saturday 4th February until Sunday 16th April. www.markpinder.net

MUSIC EASY LIFE @ O2 CITY HALL

Words: Cameron Wright

Maybe In Another Life is the next chapter for Easy Life, following on from the formula established on their 2021 debut, Life’s A Beach.

Mellow, whimsical and reflective hip-hop beats are played live and fleshed out with a swelling brass section, as the melancholic storytelling peels back layers of regret and hope.

Akin to a British equivalent of Mac Miller, these mellifluous tracks rise and fall in a very organic way, as if reflecting exactly the emotive state the lyrics depict. Often tender, sparse and gentle, the tracks on the band’s sophomore record grow and develop as they play out in a way which feels entirely natural.  The Leicester band have been climbing up the ladder for a number of years now, making regular appearances at a multitude of festivals and constantly touring, and their latest jaunt sees a pit-stop at O2 City Hall in Newcastle on Wednesday 8th February. Where their debut established a series of up-tempo hits, the setlist comes to life beautifully when in person. Swaggering around the stage, Easy Life seem as genuine, sincere and excited about this chapter of their career in a way that

makes for an earnest and exciting show.  Easy Life play O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Wednesday 8th February. www.easylifemusic.com

MUSIC TOKKY HORROR @ ZEROX

Words: Adelle Sutheran

Tokky Horror will perform a sonic boom assault on your eardrums at their Zerox show on Saturday 4th February. Think absolute drum and bass on acid, and energy drink music for the masses. The trio who concocted their DIY sound in lockdown have really pulled something quite special together, their sound is a fusion of a little bit of electro and a little bit of punk with a twist of chav. At their Zerox gig expect nothing short of sweat patches, Kappa trackies and fluorescent skin paint probably wouldn’t go a miss either.

The likes of Clash magazine have sung their praises thanks to their high energy performances and debut single Girlracer picked up acclaim from the likes of BBC 6Music, Radio X and Kerrang! Opening the show, support comes from local bonkers duo Gonzo Dog, who offer up classic, at times euphoric, industrial rave tracks with grimey lyrics. There’s only one way this night is going and that’s up.

Tokky Horror and Gonzo Dog play Zerox, Newcastle on Saturday 4th February. www.tokkyhorror.bandcamp.com

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Mark Pinder, ‘Mission Tyne and Wear’ pavilion at the 1990 Gateshead Garden Festival. Teams, Gateshead, June 1990

MUSIC SWEET BABOO @ POP RECS LTD.

Words: Jason Jones

Quirkily named singer-songwriter Sweet Baboo, the alias of Welsh troubadour Stephen Black, brings his distinct brand of psych-tinged country folk to Pop Recs Ltd. on Friday 17th February. Inspired by a smattering of diverse influences, from the Beach Boys to Weezer and Neutral Milk Hotel, Black’s DIY ethos and canny melodic crafting has helped him to garner quite the cult following since he decided to step away from pop rockers JT Mouse and go it alone.

Following on from debut album Mighty Baboo in 2008, Sweet Baboo has proven to be a prolific and celebratory project for Black, encompassing several eclectic releases and drumming up pervasive critical acclaim in the process. Most recently, a trio of typically elegant, dreamlike singles, Horticulture, Good Luck and Hopeless – Sweet Baboo’s first in four years – have served as an apt reminder of his distinct knack for carving out tracks that

bewitch and charm.

Support comes from local favourite Lucas Renney, bewitching lyricist and one-time frontman of the Golden Virgins, and London-based chanteuse and composer Clémentine March, who plays with languages and sonic textures to create charismatic pop music with a notable post-punk edge.

Sweet Baboo, Lucas Renney and Clémentine March play Pop Recs Ltd., Sunderland on Friday 17th February.

www.sweetbaboo.co.uk

STAGE

THE CITY AND THE TOWN @ NORTHERN STAGE

Words: Jason Jones

Northern Stage will host a new play penned by Anders Lustgarten from Wednesday 15th-Friday 17th February. The City And The Town is a witty, eclectic and uniquely political piece of theatre that aims to bring a fresh perspective to some of the pervasive divides

and detrimental problems that have beset this fractured country in recent times.

After 13 years away, Ben returns home to attend his late father’s funeral, only to be confronted with a slew of uncomfortable truths about the family and community that he left behind. Confronting the past, present, and future, Lustgarten’s work addresses the fallibility of memory in a distinctive and touching way.

The playwright’s previous body of output includes Lampedusa, The Seven Acts of Mercy and The Secret Theatre, with past collaborations alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Globe. The City And The Town is also directed by Dritero Kasapi, the Artistic Director of Sweden’s National Touring Theatre, Riksteatern, with his prior work in the UK including the highly-acclaimed Nina: A Story About Me and Nina Simone.

The City and The Town will run at Northern Stage, Newcastle from Wednesday 15th-Friday 17th February, with Thursday evening’s performance followed by a post-show discussion.

www.northernstage.co.uk

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Sweet Baboo

MUSIC TENGGER @ THE COMMON ROOM

Words: Matt Young

Tengger are a travelling musical family playing psychedelic New Age drone music. Originally a duo of Pan-Asian couple itta (harmonium, voice, and toy instruments) and Marqido (analogue synths) they expanded with the birth of the couple’s son RAAI, who now joins them on tour (stopping in at The Common Room in Newcastle on Friday 17th February) and often on stage. Translated from Mongolian as ‘unlimited expanse of sky’, the band name marks this familial expansion.

The name also means ‘huge sea’ in Hungarian. Travel, as a spiritual experience in real environments, and the sound between the space and the audience have been central themes of their works, informing every aspect of their art. Their analogue pulses no different to the plasma rippling through the body and set it aloft on their own stretches of synth.

Tengger find the interconnective tissue between the Krautrock rhythms of NEU!, Can, Popul Vuh et al, and the vocal sculptures of Julianna Barwick or 70’s Kosmiche supergroup

Harmonia. Managing to stitch each of their influences into the tones and pulses of their music. Layers of vocals hover ethereally above the harmonics, bringing about the kind of meditative calm that’s often attached to the New Age, but lifting themselves deliberately away from a genre often dismissed as yoga studio backing tracks and elevated into a new kind of transcendence.

Tengger play The Common Room, Newcastle on Friday 17th February. www.tengger.bandcamp.com

ART & LIT VISIONS OF ANCIENT EGYPT: ART, DESIGN AND THE CULTURAL IMAGINATION @ LAING ART GALLERY

With the Lindisfarne Gospels now returned to the British Library after an all-too-brief stint in their region of origin and spiritual home, the Laing is following up their popular showcase of this spectacular manuscript with an exhibition

examining the enduring appeal of ancient Egypt.

Back in the 19th Century, Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign caused a boom in interest in ancient Egypt, a cultural fascination that has seldom waned over the years, continuing to fire up the imaginations of children and adults alike.

Using Jean-François Champollion’s 1822 decipherment of hieroglyphs and Howard Carter’s 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb as twin launch points, the new exhibition boasts a slew of artworks ranging from antiquity to the present day. Visitors can enjoy paintings, sculpture, photography, fashion and jewellery from artists Joshua Reynolds, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, David Hockney, Chant Avedissian, Chris Ofili, Sara Sallam and more. An exploration of how ancient Egypt has been re-imagined across time, the exhibition is a window into the re-invention, appropriation and subversion that have generated many visions of Egypt over the centuries, exploring Western fascination alongside Egypt’s own engagement with its ancient past.

Visions of Ancient Egypt: Art, Design and the Cultural Imagination runs at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 28th January until Saturday 29th April.

www.laingartgallery.org.uk

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Tengger

MUSIC THE COMET IS COMING @ BOILER SHOP

It will be almost exactly five years since their last Newcastle gig when The Comet Is Coming hit the stage at The Boiler Shop on Wednesday 1st March. In that time, they’ve signed to

legendary jazz label Impulse!, released three new albums including last year’s remarkable Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (which earned them some of their best reviews yet) and have grown in status and reputation. Meanwhile, frontman sax player King Shabaka (Hutchings) has wound down his stunning jazz outfit Sons Of Kemet and kicked off a promising solo career, while Danalogue (Dan Leavers) and Betamax (Maxwell Hallett) have been doing great things with Soccer96, including their remarkable I Was Gonna Fight Fascism release

with Alabaster dePlume. This kind of jazz fusion can easily go awry, but with Shabaka’s fierce sax riding the inventive, pummelling rhythms created by the electronics and drums, The Comet Is Coming always come correct – pounding sounds for your brain and your feet. Live they’re an absolute blast and they’re bound to take the roof off the Boiler Shop. So don’t miss out.

The Comet Is Coming play The Boiler Shop, Newcastle on Wednesday 1st March. www.thecometiscoming.co.uk

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Image by Fabrice Bourgelle. Edit and graphics by Veil Projects
newcastlepuppetryfestival.co.uk Tickets and more info: Produced by Moving Parts Arts CIO

COMEDY ZOE LYONS @ THE WITHAM/THE STAND

Any comedy fan, and in fact everyone with a TV watching comedy shows, will be more than familiar with TV host and award-winning, critically acclaimed comedian Zoe Lyons. What may be less known is how things have been for Zoe in the past couple of years privately. Well, it’s been a lot, and she’s put together a brand new live show entitled Bald Ambition to take on tour in 2023 which includes her North East dates at The Witham (Saturday 11th) and The Stand (Sunday 12th February).

Zoe had what she describes as “a late, monumental midlife crisis” after turning 50, and then some. This involved buying a sports car, having a brief marital separation from her partner of 23 years and running a 100k ultra marathon which really didn’t end well. She even turned her back on her career and started delivering vegetables from a van. Along the way her hair horrifyingly decided the best thing to do was abandon ship – hence

the tour’s title. As she’s said: “It isn’t easy being a middle-aged woman but try doing it with a combover!” Thankfully Zoe has now been able to explore the funny side of all these disconcerting twists and life turns. So, it’s time to sell the silly car and try and put the wheels back on her life and she’s here to tell us all about that.

Zoe Lyons performs at The Witham, Barnard Castle on Saturday 11th and The Stand, Newcastle on Sunday 12th February. www.zoelyons.co.uk

MUSIC MOM JEANS

Wearing all its influences on its sleeve, Sweet Tooth is all about the ‘fuck it’ attitude that lets you enjoy the things you enjoy. Tucking into the sweet, the album is a celebration of being happy and living without consequence.   The guitar pop of Mom Jeans is a direct callback to the 90’s pop punk scene, with a healthy dollop of 00s pop rock. It is so much fun, and succumbing to each of Mom Jeans’ treats is a nostalgic riot.

While this energy is endearing across the album, it is crying out to be heard live, which makes the Californian alt. rockers’ forthcoming show at Newcastle University Students’ Union on Wednesday 8th February an enticing one indeed.

Words: Cameron Wright Sweet Tooth is the 2022 record from Mom Jeans. With splashes of Third Eye Blind and Weezer, the drum-driven album is as deliberately indulgent as a record can be.

Curating a set list that covers their early emo punk influence as well as encapsulating their new 00s charm, the show is set to be a memorable evening of happy go lucky rock music!

Mom Jeans play Newcastle University Students’ Union on Wednesday 8th February. www.momjeansca.com

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PREVIEWS
Zoe Lyons by Mark Vessey

STAGE PERSON SPEC @ ALPHABETTI THEATRE

The marvellous Alphabetti Theatre has gone from strength to strength in becoming one of the city’s premier venues for performances of all disciplines, being just as glorious a DIY venue as an all-out theatre. It’s the kind of space in which envelope-pushing, unorthodox

performances can thrive. With that in mind, it’s the perfect environment for Person Spec which, despite being ‘theatre’ on paper, is far, far from your typical production. In fact, it isn’t even a production. It’s a job interview. And you, if you choose to attend, will be part of deciding the latest recruit for an exciting new job opportunity with Zantion Recruitment agency, who seek to allow their candidates to become the “CEO of their own lives”. It certainly sounds like more fun than being on the receiving end of it, and (forgive me for shattering the illusion) it almost certainly will make for a compelling and thoroughly

entertaining send-up of the dreary, dehumanising, excruciating drudgery of the recruitment process which, in my eyes, hasn’t been savaged enough in the grand pantheon of modern satire. An interactive and unconventional production such as this will thrive in a space as equally unique as Alphabetti’s, so don’t pass on it!

Person Spec is at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 28th FebruarySaturday 18th March.

www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk

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Image by Andy Owen Cook

MUSIC

SHE DREW THE GUN @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE

Words:

You wouldn’t necessarily expect an artist working in the questionable ‘cosmic Scouser’ field to foreground some serious and committed political viewpoints, but that’s one of the intriguing contradictions around Merseyside band She Drew The Gun and their founding member Louisa Roach. The band have released three well-received albums (most recently Behave Myself in 2021), and the previous two – Memories Of The Future and Revolution Of Mind – are about to get a double-vinyl reissue as Memories Of The Revolution.

In tandem with that, Roach is about to embark on a solo UK tour (still under the She Drew The Gun name), stopping off at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Sunday 26th February, which marries music and poetry in a nod to the project’s origins. As Roach explains: “I’ll be

doing a run of intimate unplugged shows, stripping it back to poetry and music. I’m excited to go back to the roots of this thing that started with me and a guitar, and get to play around with songs and poems from across three albums and more.”

She Drew The Gun plays The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Sunday 26th February. www.shedrewthegun.com

MUSIC KONTRAVOID @ THE LUBBER FIEND

Words: Michael O’Neill

In no time at all, Newcastle’s very own Lubber Fiend have done an impeccable job of offering a proper DIY venue that the city centre was sorely lacking. Although it’d be heresy to even imply that the wider Newcastle area was lacking on this front, it’s still satisfying to have a venue that caters to a broad audience on a DIY scale, and this upcoming show on Saturday

25th February is no exception to the rule. The mysterious, masked Kontravoid is the alias of Canadian-born, Los Angeles-based Cameron Findlay. who has perfected the fine art of dark pop that slides effortlessly between EBM, electro and goth. Releases such as 2019’s Too Deep and 2021’s Faceless are deep excursions into the darker side of dance music, being every bit as inscrutable and unpredictable as their creator, whilst still maintaining an impeccable sense of danceable, melodic groove. Support (so far) comes from Newcastle’s finest purveyors of darkwave splendour, Vigilance State, crafters of filthy bangers and dystopian analogue soundscapes. The duo will be instantly recognisable to anyone attuned to the more synth-laden corners of the community, and they make for a perfect fit to Kontravoid’s similarly dark delights.

Kontravoid and Vigilance State play The Lubber Fiend on Saturday 25th February. www.kontravoid.com

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She

MUSIC SEAN TAYLOR @ CLAYPATH DELI/ GEORGIAN THEATRE

Words:

Down by the River promotions provides you with not only one but two North East dates for fans of engaging social commentary and articulate Americana, as they welcome the very

talented and hard-working Sean Taylor to Durham and Stockton this month. The artist will be wooing crowds with his charming songwriting and his folky bluesy mash-up of a sound, which is thoughtfully woven together in tracks which exude class and style, particularly on his latest album The Beat Goes On. Sean’s live show can be caught at Claypath Deli, Durham on Saturday 11th February with support from the delightful This Little Bird, who will encapsulate audiences with her complimentary but much more frail sound and Joni Mitchell-esque vibes. Another opportunity

to catch him down in Stockton at The Georgian Theatre’s Blues In The Bar afternoon event the following day will see him supported by Frazer Lambert, who is relatively new to the scene but making an impact with his ethereal alt. folk sound. Both supports are from differing regions of the North East but local talent for sure. Either event will be a BEAUT!

Sean Taylor plays Claypath Deli, Durham on Saturday 11th and The Georgian Theatre bar on Sunday 12th February.

www.seantaylorsongs.com

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COMEDY SOPHIE DUKER @ VARIOUS VENUES

Words: Cameron Wright

Hag is the latest tour from comedian Sophie Duker, whose acclaim is rising fast across the comedy circuit as she makes regular appearances on TV shows including across Mock The Week, Cats Do Countdown, Hypothetical and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order. She’s also known as the winner of Taskmaster series 13, but Hag will see her back where she thrives – on stage, up close and personal.

Her huge tour takes in several North East venues, kicking off on Saturday 18th February at Gala Theatre in Durham. Hag is a show of identity and honesty; as a Black queer woman, the show is an exploration of liberation, sex and discovering your place. The nonchalant comedian has demonstrated her candour around each of her hot topics, allowing nothing to slow down her tangents as she skilfully deconstructs the myths surrounding each, referring to Hag as “the big, queer, unhinged,

sexy, chaotic show I always wanted to do”. As whimsical and silly as it is political and didactic, Hag is a show that highlights Duker at her most spiky and raucous, as it allows her to gleefully not care any more.

Sophie Duker performs Hag at Gala Theatre in Durham on Saturday 18th February, returning to the region at The Stand, Newcastle on Saturday 1st, The Forum Northallerton on Wednesday 19th and The Witham, Barnard Castle on Thursday 20th April.  www.sophieduker.com

MUSIC GOJIRA @ O2 CITY HALL

Words: Cameron Wright Gojira are phenomenal. With each album the French metal ensemble grow stronger, each release becoming seminal pieces of masterful, melodic metal.

Groovy, progressive and persistently interesting, the sounds of Gojira are technically spellbinding; militant drumming, terrifying screams and crushing riffs are used beautifully

to underpin the emotion of each track. With a huge focus on the environment and the world around us, Gojira use their talents to warn us of our actions and take a stand against the climate issues, pollution and suffering that surrounds us, all while making fantastic and fun metal.

Thoughtful and direct, the band’s sound has become synonymous with power, as some of the most explosive choruses, drops and breaks put to record have poured out of the Gojira discography.

With Fortitude, the band’s latest release, they double down on their beautifully gigantic sound. Airtight and unflinching, the French metal icons are bringing their tour to Newcastle’s O2 City Hall on Tuesday 14th February.  Expect pyrotechnics, danger, passion and unadulterated power in a setlist of certified Gojira classics and some of the most tenacious, barbaric sounds put to wax. A Gojira concert is an essential experience for any fan of the genre.

Gojira play O2 City Hall, Newcastle on Tuesday 14th February. www.gojira-music.com

27 PREVIEWS
Sophie Duker

INTERVIEWS

There’s a looming paranoia in the air. Maybe the vaguest scent of imposter syndrome too. It’s palpable and honestly best not dwelt upon too long, but Matt Baty, vocalist and lyricist with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, is definitely feeling it. It’s a regular occurrence with each successive album release or raise in gig stature; something that’s been with him since the start of the band over a decade ago, and carried through to their fourth album, Land of Sleeper, which is released on 17th February. “Years and years ago we would play three shows in town and I

was concerned. I was always amazed that people came down to them. I’ve never lost that.” This expression of humility is typical, I find, of the band generally. Matt and I are joined in conversation by Sam Grant (guitarist and producer) and Adam Ian Sykes (guitarist), while returning drummer Ewan Mackenzie and bassist John-Michael Hedley are engaged elsewhere.

For a little more context Sam explains how Land of Sleeper follows on from their hugely praised Viscerals album of 2020.

28
AS THE NEWCASTLE METAL BAND PREPARE TO UNLEASH THEIR FOURTH ALBUM, THEY TALK TO MATT YOUNG ABOUT CRAFTING THEIR UNIQUE BRAND OF SONIC EUPHORIA AMID PARANOIA, INTROSPECTION AND FURIOUS ENERGY IMAGE BY AMELIA READ PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS

MUSIC

“From a pre-production perspective, the studio side, it is a reaction because there wants to be some sort of reimagining going on for a new album. It’s like the lining up of the planets really, because there was a number of different things going on. With Ewan back drumming on this record his style married with the writing that we were all doing, which was darker. There was a lot of heavier material, and on the production side it was a similar thing. I wanted to try and create something that offered another kind of shade.”

Okay, shade. Now we’re talking. Listening to Land of Sleeper is just one huge feeling of Lord-almighty-dark-as-doom-itselfmood-music-dread-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach. It’s deliberately paced to generate sonic euphoria and for letting loose completely. Get it on your headphones because it takes the listener on one hell of a journey, but one you can’t possibly be prepared for.

You may already have heard Mr Medicine released late last year as a taster of what’s to come. But that’s not true. Sam has already said that it was written to be “a sonic arrow, purposefully succinct with no fat and no detours.” Matt has called it an “outlier” in that the other songs bracketing it have more heft. Lyrically, however, when he sings: “Through noise we release ourselves. We can be…Fearless” that’s pretty much the album in a nutshell – when, despite any pervasive paranoia, he’s catapulting forward, no longer holding back in any way.

Land of Sleeper opens with Ultimate Hammer, a mid-paced riffheavy confessional that slows halfway and rages as it grows

darker, like a storm cloud looming in the near distance, before fighting the reduced pace and ripping free again. Matt’s roars are accompanied by a banshee screaming guitar solo. It’s one hell of a start.

Terror’s Pillow follows, with its see-sawing tones and guttural vocals mixing melodic simplicity with music to serenade nightmares. It’s absolutely brilliant. Big Rig explodes into life with the heaviest sounds yet on the album, then launches into an off-kilter spiral, a hurricane at sea getting its second wind, then a third, as it pitches up and down. The band are cast adrift, barely present then suddenly hands break the surface and they expertly battle the waves safely to shore. Six minutes of roller-coaster riding, fingernails digging in for dear life. It’s the storm before the storm as next track, The Weatherman, pitches up. Unsettlingly, quietly teasing out the dread ever further. The lighter mood of Mr Medicine, a mere intermission, gives way and the album makes a bolt for the finish line. Pipe Down! mimics the opening track by becoming deathly slow before rebuilding. The gymnastics Pigx7 are doing in this song alone are bloody thrilling. The appropriately heavy Atlas Stone eventually spins off into the cosmos and meets the crunching finisher, Ball Lightning, as we transcend this wretched earth for, dare I say it, a spiritual existence. It’s exhausting and exhilarating.

The band agree this is their most collaborative album to date. Writing and recording together live in various spaces has led to more ideas and seems effortless. The process began right after Viscerals in 2020 so they’ve taken time to deliberate, cogitate and digest.

It’s clear that Pigx7 are not a band that noodles around with song ideas on stage and then lays down the tracks in the studio. They write albums with the listener firmly in mind before taking them out on the road. As both Matt and Adam confirm, “we now have a much bigger palette to pick from when it comes to set lists...and we do find that we’ll play songs on tour and listen back to the album versions and think they’re dramatically different, so they do evolve.” The inherent moods and tensions of these latest songs will undoubtedly be stretched for maximum pleasure when the band hits UK and US stages this year, including a trip to SXSW in Texas.

Each release has attracted new fans while bringing existing ones along without the band repeating themselves musically, which is an admirable achievement. Proclaiming to feel the pressure of expectation every time and as their profile rises, they also seem to feed off that energy. Sam jokes how despite their record label (Rocket Recordings) giving them “freedom to go with what we want to do” and how the album’s introspective sounds mean “it’s not going to do as well [as previous albums]”.

That remains to be seen, but honestly this could just as easily result in new swathes of fans discovering the band. “Music is powerful medicine,” as Matt puts it, and everyone needs to take the damn pills.

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs release Land of Sleeper on 17th February. They play Sage Gateshead on Thursday 23rd February and The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Sunday 16th April. www.pigsx7.com

29 COVER FEATURE
IT’S CLEAR THAT PIGX7 ARE NOT A BAND THAT NOODLES AROUND WITH SONG IDEAS ON STAGE AND THEN LAYS DOWN THE TRACKS IN THE STUDIO. THEY WRITE ALBUMS WITH THE LISTENER FIRMLY IN MIND

INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK

A popular nationwide initiative that’s grown year-on-year, 2023 sees Independent Venue Week celebrate its 10th anniversary with its most extensive programme yet. Established to spotlight these essential spaces during a traditionally quiet period in their diaries, IVW has in many ways exceeded its mandate, providing a priceless boost amidst existential crises like the Covid pandemic and ongoing energy and cost of living crises.

Running from Monday 30th January through to Sunday 5th February, this year’s edition encompasses over 200 participating venues and countless affiliated events – and for all the challenges they face, the North East’s programme proves just how healthy an ecosystem is thriving on our doorsteps. Much of the region’s musical gravity centres around Newcastle, and as ever the city boasts a jam-packed IVW schedule. A long-time hub at the heart of the Ouseburn, The Cluny’s dual spaces offer an especially loaded calendar, with appearances from Hamish Hawk, Francis of Delirium (both Wednesday), Lizzie Esau and George Hanlon (Friday), Renegade Brass Band (Saturday) and ex-Quireboys vocalist Spike (Sunday) –plus, perhaps most excitingly of all, a Friday night show from

local fuzz rock marvels Pit Pony; their biggest headliner to date following a breakout year in 2022.

A short walk up Stepney Bank, Little Buildings has its own IVW extravaganza. Belying its tiny floor space, this up-and-comer’s paradise hosts sets from Wise Up, Devils Grip and PH People (Monday), Swim School (Tuesday), Hivemind, HCK9 and Blame Yourself (Thursday), Badger, Amplified Man and Ducks (Friday) and Ten Eighty Trees (Saturday). Expect to see NARC. photographer and IVW rep Victoria Wai snapping away down the front at Swim School, having handpicked the Edinburgh indie-popper’s visit as her most anticipated event!

There’s plenty afoot elsewhere in Newcastle too. Cobalt Studios welcomes Dutch experimental pop marvel Amber Arcades alongside Swedish indie outfit Hater (Saturday); The Lubber Fiend hosts the second of its SF: Make Noise Silence Fascism events (Wednesday); ZEROX presents local singer-songwriter Hannah Robinson (Thursday) and Canadian rapper Myst Milano (Saturday); Bobik’s offers headliners from Avalanche Party (Thursday), Dilutey Juice (Friday) and Vandebilt

30 INTERVIEW
ALI WELFORD NAVIGATES THE MASS OF GIGS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE REGION CELEBRATING THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENT VENUE WEEK
L-R: Swim School at Westgarth Social Club, Twisterella, Middlebrough by Victoria Wai; Benefits at Teesside SU Hub, Twisterella, Middlebrough by Victoria Wai

(Saturday); while Anarchy Brewery joins festivities over the weekend with Ashes of Iron (Friday), Dean Parker and Polyvinyl (Saturday) and a packed Tyne and Queer bill featuring Shallow, Ceramic, Plagiarist, Pink Poison and The Spines (Sunday).

Not to be outdone, the North East’s other cities serve up their own enticing platters, each with an emphasis on quality over quantity. Sunderland institution Independent, for instance, sees performances from London rockers False Heads (Monday), hotly-tipped indie outfit Overpass with fast-rising local star Tom A. Smith (Thursday) and Hartlepool songwriter Michael Gallagher (Saturday), while Pop Recs Ltd. welcomes Hull favourites and long-time pals LIFE – as well as running a pre-gig Soundcheck Session for 14 to 18-year-olds as part of the concurrent Independent Venue Community scheme (Wednesday). Durham, meanwhile, boasts one of the region’s – and indeed country’s – most idiosyncratic venues in the Old Cinema Launderette. This delightful oddity presents two cracking midweek pools of local talent, with Me Lost Me, Faithful Johannes and Madeleine Smyth (Wednesday) and Hector Gannett and Callum Pitt (Thursday) all poised to take their places before the washing machines. Of course, Independent Venue Week is about so much more than the established haunts located in the nation’s big cities. Indeed, the week is equally dedicated to highlighting the work done by venues lying off the beaten track – the kinds of places which rarely get a look-in when acclaimed artists plot their tours, yet harbour equally dedicated and enthusiastic communities of their own. Middlesbrough Empire, for instance, celebrates the most hyped and incendiary act to emerge from Teesside in many a year with a headliner from

politi-noise firebrands Benefits (Friday), whose upcoming debut album surely ranks among 2023’s most hotly anticipated releases. Elsewhere, The Engine Room in North Shields presents a trio of cracking bills, with Go Go Midgets and Breadcrumbs (Thursday) followed by Dubinski and Uncanny Valley (Friday) plus another date for Overpass and Tom A. Smith (Saturday); while over in Darlington The Forum Music Centre offers the delicate yet expansive sounds of local treasure sonderminds (Tuesday), as well as a Hilarity Bites Comedy Club evening featuring Mark Nelson, Aaron Twitchen and Sully O’Sullivan (Saturday).

Finally, some of this year’s finest IVW’s action takes place in Stockton – just recognition for what’s surely one of the UK’s best under-the-radar mini-scenes. Indeed, one of the week’s flagship events takes place at KU, which has been chosen by the BBC to host Steve Lamacq’s roadshow. The 6Music DJ will be rocking up in his tour bus on Thursday alongside Irish post-punk sensations The Murder Capital, who come red hot off January’s sophomore album Gigi’s Recovery, with support from rising local indie star Trunky Juno. Lower key, but equally notable is the visit of indie pop/folk songwriter Finn Forster, with openers We Tibetans and Shakk (Saturday).

Just down the street, The Georgian Theatre has pulled off a coup of its own by attracting Philip Selway. One of this year’s official IVW ambassadors, the Radiohead sticksman plays an eagerly awaited solo set on Thursday night, with the venue backing it the following evening with performances from local brat-pop siblings ZELA, groove poppers The Lulas and bedroom pop artist Cosial TL;DR? If you enjoy live music, there’ll almost certainly be something for you – and that’s without even delving into the clutch of affiliated pre- and post-IVW events, or listings at brilliant North East spaces not participating. Whether you’re visiting a venue for the first time, attending one of the big shows or simply turning up to support your friend in one of the bands, the scheme’s true value lies in its legacy, and in reinforcing one of music’s abiding truths… that every week is Independent Venue Week.

www.independentvenueweek.com

31 INTERVIEW
FOR ALL THE CHALLENGES THEY FACE, THE NORTH EAST’S PROGRAMME PROVES JUST HOW HEALTHY AN ECOSYSTEM IS THRIVING ON OUR DOORSTEPS
T-B, L-R: Life at Cobalt Studios by Victoria Wai; Tom A Smith at The Vaults, Stockton Calling 2022 by Victoria Wai; Pit Pony Album Launch at Lubber Fiend by Victoria Wai

JOCKSTRAP

Jockstrap’s I Love You Jennifer B may well be the greatest pop album of 2022, but it’s also much more than that. Between the creative force of multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Georgia Ellery and the phenomenal production of Taylor Skye, the expansive and elaborate record is a genre-bending extravaganza that reconstructs pop formulas beautifully. As one of the year’s most inventive and lavishly uninhibited projects, Jennifer B touches on a plethora of sounds, ideas and emotions, stringing these worlds together, making something utterly human.

Although they’d been working together since 2016, the album has been a long time coming, and it was largely put together in Skye’s bedroom, he reflects: “I think neither of us see ourselves working better with an audience or for an audience. We bring what we can separately, we’re both tenacious drafters and re-drafters and the process itself is very reflective. I tend to dive deep into myself, but with Georgia, it’s always just the two of us.”

Ellery, whose wonderfully delicate voice guides us through lyrics touching on sexuality, love and identity, uses the lyrics of Jennifer B to “express myself in ways I don’t in real life.” Quipping simply: “I like music, so it’s a nice way to format those emotions.”

It’s clear that both artists love music, and the album is a glorious celebration of sound. The wild and eclectic myriad of influence that floods the album never dilutes the passionate purity at its core, as Skye concedes: “I do it regardless of how I feel, realistically I don’t always know what’s happening when I make music, it’s just fun. It’s  just happy.”

Happiness is the core of Jennifer B, despite the emotional journey it takes to get there. “We’re both different people, but artistically we both make sure what we have to say is on the music.” Ellery explains. “Every human has arcs of ups, downs

and vulnerability – I like to hunt for that in my music. We’re led a lot by our emotions, we make emotional music, we like music that stirs something, as that means it’s connecting.”

And while Jennifer B undeniably connects across  a spectrum of emotion, at its heart it’s an elated record brimming with joy. Skye confesses: “When you look at ABBA or Stevie Wonder, everyone gets it. I sometimes get embarrassed admitting to liking the pretentious, experimental stuff, it can be bullshit. When music is heartfelt, happy and good, it’s untouchable.” Ellery explains that her vivid writing drawing heavily from the works of Kathy Acker and Maggie Nelson: “It’s not just the openness, but the vulgarity of it all. Their violently unapologetic writing is so vivid, visual and visceral, it’s progressive and liberating, allowing me to connect to my sexuality. I think I added that to the album, as subtle as it may be.”

To counter the brash influence, Skye talks of the films of Matthew Barney. “I’m drawn to anything that thinks like a baby, I’m constantly trying to get back to that childlike mindset. I like something  that’s adult in its construction, performance and execution, but is childish and wanderlust in its conception. Stravinsky’s music comes to mind there too.”

The duo’s combination of genuine excitement, palpable storytelling and meticulous odysseys into unbelievable soundscapes truly capture the heart of their friendship.

Jockstrap play The Cluny, Newcastle on Thursday 9th February. www.jockstrapmusic.com

32 INTERVIEW
CAMERON WRIGHT TALKS TO THE INNOVATIVE DUO ABOUT THEIR CREATIVE PROCESS AND FORTHCOMING NEWCASTLE GIG MUSIC
Image by Eddie Whelan
EVERY HUMAN HAS ARCS OF UPS, DOWNS AND VULNERABILITY – I LIKE TO HUNT FOR THAT IN MY MUSIC. WE’RE LED A LOT BY OUR EMOTIONS

DAVID BREWIS

There’s a lot to like about David Brewis; he writes good music, plays great live shows, and is an inspiring figure in the way he deliberately pushes himself into new and challenging creative spaces.

Perhaps best known for the diversity of sound he has helped create as part of Field Music, the latest challenge sees David pushing himself in a new musical and songwriting direction as he takes on the pressure of working as a solo artist on his debut solo album. Oh, and he’s also starting a record label, releasing other musical acts, and working on a solo tour.    “Ha! Yes, it’s been a busy time for sure,” he confirms, “but going into this I felt the time was right to work on a solo project for the first time and to challenge the way I write.”

Purposefully up-ending his approach to songwriting, David started his album with a central challenge: “There’s a certain belief in music that at the heart of a great song is a song that will still be great if it’s stripped down to an acoustic guitar or piano. In Field Music we often didn’t believe that was true, but with this album I really wanted to explore that idea and challenge myself to write in a different style, one that started off stripped down.”

The outcome of David’s work and exploration is The Soft Struggles, a truly remarkable album that strips down Brewis’s unique songwriting to its basics and lightly sprinkles the atmosphere with gentle strings and a jazzy undertone. Imagine the immediacy of Neil Diamond’s 12 Songs and Kate Bush’s 50 Words For Snow blended with the jazz-styled orchestral intricacy of Pet Sounds.  Set across ten songs, including recent single The Last Day, The

Soft Struggles is a lovely, almost seasonal, collection of intimate stories about ageing, relationships and the importance of community. Layered with lush orchestral and brass sounds, the album moves David out of his traditional palette and into a wider space of musical textures and landscapes; The Last Day itself is accompanied with lovely brass coatings which echo Field Music’s recent work with Durham Brass Band (“that was such an enjoyable piece of work which definitely fed into this record”).

The Soft Struggles will be released under David and brother Peter’s new label Daylight Saving Records, which is intended to be a home for all of their non-Field Music extra-curricular projects and push the Brewis brothers into new creative spaces. “I felt that it was an important step for our music and the music we like, so we’re releasing Slug’s Thy Socialite! album which we couldn’t be happier about, and then we can start to release more music by me and Peter in various forms, which gives us both new possibilities and opportunities.”.

To support the release a few live shows are planned for early 2023, which will feature a ten-piece band including many of the players from the record, and will include a date at The Customs House in South Shields. “I can’t wait for those shows, there’s a lot of work to do before we play but it’s an exciting prospect and it would be a shame not to give those songs a chance to be played live with a full band.”

As for the rest of 2023, there are already plans in place for what comes next – but that’s for later – you can be assured there’ll be even more things to like about David soon enough.

David Brewis releases The Soft Struggles on 24th February via Daylight Saving Records. He performs at The Customs House, South Shields on Saturday 6th May. www.daylightsavingrecords.bandcamp.com

33 INTERVIEW
I REALLY WANTED TO CHALLENGE MYSELF TO WRITE IN A DIFFERENT STYLE, ONE THAT STARTED OFF STRIPPED DOWN
MUSIC
DAMIAN ROBINSON TALKS TO THE PROLIFIC MUSICIAN ABOUT CHALLENGING HIS CREATIVITY ON HIS DEBUT SOLO ALBUM Image by Peter Brewis

THE TIMEWASTERS

APPROACH TO MUSIC MAKING

Following the initial ‘hello’ greetings, the first thing I encounter in our interview is an hilarious but genuine apology from Phoenix (bass player) over their screen profile picture, Lucy (guitarist/songwriter) also in attendance, howls at the image and then the two fall about laughing. It transpires that they haven’t spoken properly in about a week or so, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Gossip to share, and stuff “they’ll discuss later, not now”.

Born out of a continually evolving set of school bands, Lucy and Phoenix emerged as the only two consistent members and now, six or so years later, they operate as The Timewasters with a rotating cast of drummers and other personnel. Lucy describes their sound as “indie rock pop”, but during our conversation DIY, punk, lo-fi and grunge all get added.

Lucy also confesses to having a love/hate thing going on with the North East and Newcastle; it transpires that the way songs are written, as if plucked from the ether, containing combinations of memories, incidents, places and overheard phrases, coalesce into lyrics randomly. This candid experiential soup is everywhere, the good, bad and occasionally ugly. The resulting compendium of treasures that find their way on the band’s new Heartbreaker EP, released on 14th February of course, amount to six tracks that encompass the sweet and gentle like California and Garden Centre, “bittersweet feelings of actual heartbreak and mutual dislike about breakdowns of relationships, friendship or family that may reconcile in time” to

the raucous Mind The Gap, that Lucy explains “was written about several places in Newcastle, but the main one being the bridge. I just stopped and I heard people talking in the distance and the lyrics for the second verse came unexpectedly, unintended; all of that comes flowing to me.” Phoenix praises Lucy’s songwriting and in return Lucy credits Phoenix’s bass playing and musical contributions. Neither accepts the other’s compliment easily, but it’s obvious their respect is solid.

Along with the catchy title track, the stuttering bounce of Ground Control and chiming confessional of Bite Back, there’s so much to unpack in this sophomore EP, most obviously the perception of the band by others. Their music gives voice to their opinions on how they’ve felt unsafe and harassed at gigs, have been dismissed, misgendered and undoubtedly insulted too. We talk at length about the poor treatment they’ve experienced from some musicians and promoters and we also talk about the reductive ‘girl band’ descriptor that doesn’t even apply to the band but still gets so overused, and how they’ll continue supporting issues such as Black Lives Matter and Trans Rights regardless of bigots, quoting Kurt Cobain: “If you’re a sexist, racist, homophobe, or basically an asshole, don’t buy this CD. I don’t care if you like me, I hate you”. They’re battling against a lot and seemingly taking that in their stride with wit, sarcasm and enthusiasm in abundance. I haven’t even got to talk about Mario Kart, Riot Grrrl, the game they have to support the EP release, more in-depth lyrical examination, badges...everything that makes The Timewasters one of the most exciting acts around right now.

The Timewasters release Heartbreaker EP on 14th February. They play Little Buildings, Newcastle on Saturday 18th February.

www.instagram.com/the_timewasters

34 INTERVIEW
THEIR MUSIC GIVES VOICE TO THEIR OPINIONS ON HOW THEY’VE FELT UNSAFE AND HARASSED AT GIGS, HAVE BEEN DISMISSED, MISGENDERED AND UNDOUBTEDLY INSULTED TOO
MATT YOUNG TALKS TO THE ROCK POP DUO ABOUT THEIR CANDID
MUSIC
Image by Victoria Wai

JHANEE WILKINS

“Being Black and British is to have two identities, but people only see the Black not the British, because you can’t possibly be Black AND British. The melanin in my skin does not cancel out my Britishness, nor is it a threat to yours.”

West Midlands-based visual artist Jhanee Wilkins’ work explores autobiographical subjects which relate to feminism, identity, immigration and racism, presented in two exhibitions at NGCA in Sunderland. Black Britain is a photo-documentary series which draws on the experiences of growing up in Britain, while Likkle Paradise celebrates the Windrush Generation and her Caribbean heritage through a series of images taken at her local Caribbean food shop.

“Black Britain came out of my frustration of realising even though I was born and bred in Britain (specifically the Black Country) I would never be seen as British. I would tell people where I’m from and because of my skin colour they were never convinced. I started to feel like being Black and British was almost a polarity because people just couldn’t accept that I was somehow both.”

Jhanee explains how the conversations she was seeing online echoed her own feelings. “I decided I wanted to make space for Black people to freely share their experiences, because a lot of the time when we try to speak out we are met with ‘if you don’t like it here then leave’ or being told there’s a ‘chip on our shoulder’. I wanted Black people, and even people from the wider global majority, to find comfort in our experiences being shared and I wanted to open the eyes of those that do not feel like we belong.”

At the heart of the exhibition are stories around the Black British experience, taking in childhood memories, Brexit and racism. Many of the stories are upsetting, as her subjects reveal often shocking mistreatment, with many people that Jhanee interviewed talking about feeling unwelcome and

unrepresented. “Unfortunately, because these stories are so universal for people of the global majority, there wasn’t much that surprised me during the interviews. I would say the biggest surprise for me was from Kae’s story. Kae is my mom, and I didn’t know that she had gotten fired for attending to me after I’d been hit by a car until the interview. I understand why she didn’t tell me at the time, but it shocked me more that someone could have so little empathy in a situation like that and fire her.” Jhanee’s exhibition at NGCA comes two years after she graduated with an MA in Photography from Sunderland University and, while she’s quick to praise the support of her lecturers and the friends she made, she admits that in moving from somewhere as diverse as the West Midlands to the North East that she felt the difference. “I was often the only Black person in a lot of the spaces and due to that I often felt like an other. I got tired of trying to dilute myself and decided I would celebrate my Blackness and share my experiences to give people insight and open their eyes to cultures they might not understand. This is when I chose to start making work that was a social commentary on not only my Blackness but my culture and my womanhood.”

Black Britain and Likkle Paradise by Jhanee Wilkins is on display at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland from Saturday 28th January until Sunday 16th April. www.instagram.com/jhaneewphotography

35 INTERVIEW
I STARTED TO FEEL LIKE BEING BLACK AND BRITISH WAS ALMOST A POLARITY BECAUSE PEOPLE JUST COULDN’T ACCEPT THAT I WAS SOMEHOW BOTH
CLAIRE DUPREE DISCOVERS HOW FEMINISM, IDENTITY, IMMIGRATION AND RACISM HAVE SHAPED THE VISUAL ARTIST’S WORK ART & LIT

TALIRAW

MUSIC

Three years after the release of her first EP, My a Oni, Taliraw is back with her second EP, English Weather. An introspective deep-dive into her experiences in recent years, this mixture of spoken word, vocals and cello playing fits somewhere in between hip-hop and emotronic, with poetic lyrics and an electronic sound.

The Newcastle-based Czech artist talks about her choice to use spoken word in the EP alongside music. “I really wanted to tell a story. I wanted people to understand the whole background. That’s why I chose to use the tapes in between, so that people can imagine the atmosphere around the song and what’s behind it. And thinking about the spoken word, it started like slam poetry. I just felt like I could tell the story more authentically. I can express myself more, in more ways.”

Tali talks candidly about why it’s important to her to share personal stories. “I feel like that’s the only way. I always wanted to be true to myself and true to other people. I’ve never been afraid to share, basically, everything from my life. And when it comes to music, it’s the filter I use for expressing my emotions, my feelings and what’s going on.”

The EP features multiple languages, switching back and forth through talking and singing, and a feeling of homesickness informed that choice for Tali. “I realised I really missed the Czech Republic. I miss my family. I miss the language. I realised I keep forgetting all the words of my first language when I’m on the phone with my mom. I’m like, Mom, can we speak English?

She can’t. Fortunately, so…I just felt it. I just went for it when it felt right. I also felt like using Spanish, I just wanted other people to picture the atmosphere of the song. That was before I went on this pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, so that’s why I incorporate Spanish even though I feel like I can’t speak it properly.”

Tali reveals more about the EP’s title. “English Weather, the name speaks for itself. I still haven’t got used to English whatsoever because it’s changing so fast, everyday we have everything you can imagine. And I feel like that’s life, it’s just so unexpected and like, if I reflect on this year, it’s insane. How many friendships and relationships ended? How many have I started? It’s a roller coaster. So I think English weather is just perfect for describing all the different situations I’ve been through.”

Taliraw releases English Weather on 28th January, with a launch event at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Friday 3rd February. www.taliraw.bandcamp.com

36 INTERVIEW
IT STARTED LIKE SLAM POETRY. I JUST FELT LIKE I COULD TELL THE STORY MORE AUTHENTICALLY. I CAN EXPRESS MYSELF MORE
LIZZIE LOVEJOY TALKS TO MULTITALENTED CELLIST, COMPOSER AND RAPPER ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARING STORIES ON HER NEW EP Image by Oana Clarke-Wills

NOVA TWINS

Nova Twins head into the 2023 off the back of an incredible twelve months. The trailblazing duo played 105 shows across 22 countries last year, and the forecast is much of the same for this year.

Nova Twins’ sophomore album Supernova was nominated for the much-coveted Mercury Prize. “We were elated about the album response. You don’t know what to expect when you release an album; you just hope everyone loves it as much as we do. We were just blown away by everything this last year. We felt grateful for everyone who has been championing us and coming to our shows,” said Georgia.

Their stratospheric new album Supernova contains more energy than a case of Red Bull. Fusing together heavy rock riffs with the duo’s lyrical prowess, infectious rhythms and mosh pit inducing beats, it’s a wild ride indeed.

Nova Twins are at the forefront of a groundbreaking new generation of rock artists. “I think it’s a really exciting time – people are opening up their minds to not just rock music, but general diversity in music. I think that’s probably why rock is also starting to thrive again because of that,” proclaims Amy, although Georgia insists that they’re not afraid to push their sound into areas outside the rock genre. “I think we don’t really set ourselves boundaries. We always love to do what feels natural in our gut and let the music do the talking.”

In the latter stages of 2022, the band released their first-ever

remix, that being their take on the Sam Smith and Kim Petras smash Unholy. Working on the project was a whirlwind experience for the pair. “We came back from America and we had the Mercury’s a few days after. So, it was a super hectic schedule. But we did a 24-hour session on it, and they loved it,” said Georgia. “Kim Petras actually came to our show. She had no idea that we did the remix. So we played it to her before anyone heard it and she loved it as well.”

The girls were keen to put their stamp on the global hit. “It is so reminiscent of 90s R&B, but it’s got a fresh spin on it, and we just loved it. It was so sexy and cool that we just thought how great would this be rocked up in a Nova kind of sense,” explained Amy.

The group are presently getting ready to hit the road across the UK in support of their latest offering, and with a date at Newcastle University on Saturday 25th February, they’re excited about returning to the North East. “When you go up North, it’s always so amazing – it’s your energy. It’s just like one of the best places in the world. We have so much fun. In Newcastle, Manchester, and Liverpool – it’s insane. It’s so sweaty and gnarly,” said Georgia.

For the rest of the year, the group has a lot on their agenda. “There are a few things we haven’t announced yet. There are a few things we’re excited about. The diary is full to the end of the year, but that’s always a good thing,” concludes Amy.

Nova Twins play at Newcastle University Students’ Union on Saturday 25th February. www.novatwins.co.uk

37 INTERVIEW
I THINK IT’S A REALLY EXCITING TIME – PEOPLE ARE OPENING UP THEIR MINDS TO NOT JUST ROCK MUSIC, BUT GENERAL DIVERSITY IN MUSIC
ADAM KENNEDY TALKS TO THE URBAN PUNK DUO ABOUT THEIR AMAZING YEAR AND FORTHCOMING NEWCASTLE GIG Image by Federica Burelli
MUSIC

ON POINT MUSIC CONFERENCE

What a difference a couple of years makes...the first On Point Music Conference at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre was in January 2020, before the world shut down and the music landscape changed considerably. If anything, last year’s Covid-induced online event showed just how the music scene has adapted to the new climate, and this year’s event – taking place at the venue on Friday 17th February – continues to react to the aftermath of the pandemic, taking a focus on the cost of living crisis.

The day-long music conference is run by Tees Music Alliance, and aims to offer artists and activists a chance to hear from a series of panels and round-table discussions featuring industry professionals who will discuss how to make money and keep costs down, as well as signposting information on funding and support in the region.

Music Development Manager David Saunders explains: “The cost of living crisis is having a big impact on artists (both signed and independent) being able to tour and release music, as well as actually being able to be musicians in the first place. We’re hoping that these talks and roundtable sessions will give some practical, and maybe overlooked, advice on how musicians can save money or, dare I say it, even make money from their music.”

The Keynote Discussion will come from Tees Music Alliance’s Paul Burns and Sage Gateshead’s Jo Thornton as they discuss the North East Alliance and the strength to be found in working together for the benefit of the region’s music scene. A discussion around making your money go further will follow, featuring panellists Lisa Murphy (Production Room), Laura Rothwell

(Crystallised PR) and Ian Hutchinson (tour manager for Miles Kane), hosted by BBC Tees Introducing presenter and local rapper Shakk. Next up, chats around how to increase your revenue will come courtesy of panellists John Esplen (Wipe Out Music), Alannah Lamb (F54 Promotions) and Danny Lowe (Press On Vinyl), hosted by Sister Shack CIC’s Chantal Herbert. After lunch, roundtable discussions will offer support for musicians. Representatives from local development organisations include Sarah Wilson (Tracks), Helen Walkinshaw (Generator), Rianne Thompson and Lucy Scott (Sage Gateshead) and Chris Cobain (Tees Music Alliance); plus there’s reps from local music businesses including Stephen Gill (Butterfly Effect), Danny Lowe (Press On Vinyl), Henry Carden (Pay For The Piano) and David Saunders puts his NARC. Magazine hat on for the afternoon; plus there’s a planned session from fundraisers too. Entry is free, although spaces are limited so booking is essential.

As well as providing helpful information and assistance, a key part of On Point lies in being able to welcome musicians back into spaces to find commonality and camaraderie. “Aside from the valuable information that can be obtained from the day, the event brings artists and activists from around the region under one roof, which in turn creates networking opportunities, alongside a sense of community and solidarity that can be morale boosting in these tough times.” David explains.

Tees Music Alliance Chief Executive Paul Burns says: “We’re genuinely excited to be welcoming some really knowledgeable music businesses experts through our doors as part of On Point 2023. There’s a wealth of developing talent here in the Tees Valley, and getting the chance to discuss current music industry issues on home turf is an opportunity that rarely comes around. It’s shaping up to be a great day.”

On Point Music Conference takes place at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Friday 17th February. www.teesmusicalliance.org.uk

38 MUSIC
WE’RE HOPING THAT THESE TALKS AND ROUNDTABLE SESSIONS WILL GIVE SOME PRACTICAL, AND MAYBE OVERLOOKED, ADVICE INTERVIEW CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT HOW TEES MUSIC ALLIANCE’S MUSIC CONFERENCE AIMS TO HELP MUSICIANS GET TO GRIPS WITH THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS

NICOLA MANTALIOS

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO THE COMEDIAN ABOUT FINDING CATHARSIS THROUGH LAUGHTER AND VULNERABILITY

It takes a lot for anyone to completely bare their soul, and for those whose souls weigh particularly heavy, it can surely be only harder. Nicola Mantalios discovered that comedy helps when it comes to dealing with trauma and being honest about her life; her story is an incredible one, brought up in a cult, and subsequently leaving religion and losing everything in the process, it’s perhaps no surprise that laughter is a tonic for her. “In my experience I find that laughing and crying are so close to one another, it’s all emotion, it’s all human.” She says, about finding catharsis in her work. “Being British often means being stoic, reserved, polite...fuck that, pull it all back and say how you feel. It turns out we are not going to live forever and the time we have is precious, let’s be real and connect. Sing it, shout it, rhyme it, rap it!

“For me jokes are my medium, I tell my darkest moments then offset them with humour, it’s like plunging to the dark depths of the earth’s core and bungeeing back up in to the sky.”

Nicola’s new show, cryptically entitled Meeting Mary, is a story she’s been refining for years now. “The story has a number of religious themes, so the metaphor of Meeting Mary is a bit of a nod towards meeting your maker, Christianity, coming face to face with your own beliefs. The story is incredibly personal to me, it’s a total bare all, honest regaling of a really raw time in my life, it is filled with heartache, impossibly hilarious situations, heaps of irony, self-discovery, philosophy, betrayal and sex. It’s a ride.”

Despite wearing her comedic self as an armour, Nicola admits that it can be exhausting when it comes to revealing so much about yourself on stage. “I’m a total extrovert, I crave attention and connection but when I get in to the depths of my trauma it uses up all of my spoons and I usually need a little bit of recovery time afterwards. But at the same time it feels freeing

and honest and like I can breathe! In the past I felt like I was living in a nightmare, ruled by fear, I was silenced by that fear and completely controlled by the cult. Freedom of speech wasn’t really an everyday thing, there were consequences for a loose tongue, especially for women. I celebrate my loose tongue these days.”

Another form of armour for Nicola was the creation of her alter-ego, Zoe, who she describes as “the personification of everything you wished you had said and wanted to say but didn’t, she observes the mad social dance we all do, laughs at it then dances to her own tune.” Initially created as a way for Nicola to show off funny pictures of her dogs without having to suffer anyone else’s, she’s since become a “socially obtuse” creation decked out in a wolf fleece and mad leggings. “She is now a well-rounded, multi-layered character with depth, complexity and she is completely hilarious. Zoe occupies a part of my brain, I have to kit up and become Zoe, letting her take the reigns. When I see her on screen I don’t really see myself at all. The gritty vulnerable stuff is all me, Zoe didn’t meet Mary.”

Nicola Mantalios performs Meeting Mary at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle on Saturday 4th February. www.facebook.com/nicolacomedy

39 COMEDY
INTERVIEW
I WAS SILENCED BY THAT FEAR AND COMPLETELY CONTROLLED BY THE CULT. FREEDOM OF SPEECH WASN’T REALLY AN EVERYDAY THING
Image by Sammy Dobson

UNTHANK:SMITH

MUSIC

After five years lying on the back burner, a gap in The Unthanks and Maxïmo Park’s schedules has finally allowed Rachel Unthank and Paul Smith to unveil their best-kept secret… “Our management kept saying ‘put it out, get it out the way’, but we wanted to do it properly,” Paul reveals, discussing the pair’s magnificent collaboration, Nowhere And Everywhere. “We think it’s a really good record and we wanted to give it its time in the sun – to play it to people and not do things halfheartedly.”

The roots of this surprising yet seamless collision between two of the North East’s most recognisable voices were sewn back in 2018, when the pair performed together as part of the Great Exhibition Of The North, having initially met backstage at an Africa Express show at Middlesbrough Town Hall. “Tamsin [booker at Sage Gateshead, now based at Sunderland’s Fire Station] asked if there was anything I’d like to do for the festival, and I said I’d love to work with Rachel.” Paul recalls. “We didn’t know each other very well, and singing together in such an intimate way felt quite daunting – but I had a love of folk song and a number [The Natural Urge] which didn’t fit with anything else I was doing, so we at least had something!”

“Singing in harmony with somebody other than Becky was nerve-wracking for me as well!” Rachel affirms. “It was trial and error, but that’s how we work in The Unthanks too. We did a lot of chatting, which helped, and I think we realised quite quickly that we were coming from the same place.”

“The real catalyst was when I started singing some of the traditional songs,” continues Paul. “I felt comfortable doing

them, and Rachel must have felt comfortable on The Natural Urge. It had a natural energy which made us want to do more.” Produced by David Brewis (Field Music), with added contributions from clarinettist Faye MacCalman (Archipelago) and drummer Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), the resulting record is a timeless snapshot of the pair’s mutual passions – for traditional song and writers such as Lal Waterson, Tom Pickard and Graham Miles; but also for the rich history and linguistic diversity of their native region. On album standout Seven Tears – a rare Unthank original – those core elements even come with an additional hint of mythological flair…

“Songwriting’s a new foray I’ve been trying to push myself into recently,” Rachel notes. “Seven Tears was inspired by a time I saw a bob of seals off a Northumbrian beach, and ballads about selkies – seals which remove their skins and take on human form. I love the fantastical side of folk music, and the specifics of tales like ‘if you cry seven tears, then your selkie lover will come back to you,’ so it became a bit of a vehicle.”

In a sense, however, the finest advert for Nowhere And Everywhere is its trio of a capella numbers. Showcasing the duo’s chemistry in its purest form, Captain Bover, Red Wine Promises and The King are nonetheless wrought with imperfections – the kind of raw charm that’d be all too easy to forfeit in multiple takes or bouts of studio trickery. Moreover, they document a burgeoning friendship being forged through the medium of song – a delightful sound for both fanbases, and for folkies of any generation.

Unthank:Smith release Nowhere And Everywhere on 17th February. Unthank:Smith play Wylam Brewery, Newcastle on Sunday 2nd April.

www.facebook.com/unthanksmithmusic

40 INTERVIEW
WE DIDN’T KNOW EACH OTHER VERY WELL, AND SINGING TOGETHER IN SUCH AN INTIMATE WAY FELT QUITE DAUNTING
THROUGH THE
ALI WELFORD TALKS TO RACHEL UNTHANK AND PAUL SMITH ABOUT THEIR BURGEONING FRIENDSHIP FORGED
MEDIUM OF SONG
Image by Ivan Jones

JAY MOUSSA-MANN

YOUNG DISCOVERS HOW A EUREKA MOMENT RESULTED IN JAY MOUSSA-MANN’S REBIRTH AS A BONA FIDE POP STAR

Last year was big for Jay Moussa-Mann. Since picking up the guitar and a book of chords, the self-taught performer mixed in some Grade 6 piano lessons and emerged as a singer-songwriter with folk-tinged leanings. With a batch of music that was “safe and a voice that wouldn’t offend anybody” she hid in a relatively small circle, using the bible as inspiration lyrically, so as not to rock the boat within her Evangelical church upbringing. Last year all that changed.

Moussa-Mann needed to grow, needed to be true to the music she loved (“pop and soft rock” she states rather shyly), and this revelation came after an enforced period of reflection and ill health. Eureka. “No more holding myself back,” comes the exclamation. So, armed with this untethered excitement she began writing afresh. Winning plaudits from BBC Introducing’s Bob Fischer and Tom Robinson led eventually to being awarded the Do It Differently Fund through Help Musicians, and she basically decided pop was her salvation. “I thought, screw this! I’m going to go and make the music I’ve always wanted to. And I’m going to wear tiny, little gold shorts. Bye!”

That unashamedly pop music is released this month on her self-titled album, and the naming is a significant statement of rebirth and the deeply personal songs it contains about breaking up – with love, with constructs, cultures and ideas – primarily with the things she felt had held her back over the years. She sought out producer Patrick Jordan and strengthened her

own studio setup at home to work out arrangements. “When I set out to do this album I specifically decided on a particular style of pop that I wanted to follow and then I stayed true to that. Kind of writing lyrics the way I like to, but I’m very interested in the way pop’s written, how it’s quite repetitive, like nursery rhymes and with hooks on one or two notes or a chord. I actually find that quite challenging to try and get big messages into just like a few words. I think that’s a really exciting thing to be able to try and learn to do.”

All ten tracks on her album burst with exuberant pop hooks. I mention the influence of Taylor Swift in her sound, hoping not to offend with a trite comparison, but she’s overjoyed. “Yes that’s it, telling stories in a poppy way, and I think Shania Twain does that.” It’s a tough proposition making personal racial prejudice sound danceable, but on White Like You, with lyrics she says it took her five years to properly articulate in song, her honest account grounds the song while the music shimmers.

Songwriting is an art she’s learned, aided by her producer and other songs here, particularly Seventeen and Greatest Escape Ever, which echo similar sentiments; lived experiences polished with shiny melodies and production. There’s a great sense of self and self-deprecating humour, making each track stand out and relatable to others experiencing similar things, which undoubtedly means this year could be her best yet as her audience grows.

Jay Moussa-Mann releases her album on 14th February. Watch her live performance recorded for NARC. TV premiering via YouTube on 2nd March. www.jaymoussamann.com

41 INTERVIEW
I THOUGHT, SCREW THIS! I’M GOING TO GO AND MAKE THE MUSIC I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO. AND I’M GOING TO WEAR TINY, LITTLE GOLD SHORTS
MATT

LISTINGS

THE BEST OF THE REST...EVEN MORE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC, THEATRE, COMEDY, ART AND FILM TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE NORTH EAST THIS MONTH

WEDNESDAY 1ST FEBRUARY

HAMISH HAWK

Headstrong literate indie pop, with support from Lizzie Reid // The Cluny, Newcastle

THURSDAY 2ND FEBRUARY

CIRCA WAVES

Thrilling indie rockers // NX Newcastle

PAM MORTON

A local artist who creates realism with a dose of illustration working mainly with acrylics, Pam creates bold pieces that evoke memories and emotions. Runs until 1st March // The Exchange, North Shields

FRIDAY 3RD FEBRUARY

MARK MORRISS

The Bluetones frontman performs over two nights at the quirky Durham venue. Also on Saturday 4th // Old Cinema Launderette, Durham

PIT PONY

The Newcastle fuzz rockers kick their year off with what promises to be a raucous live show // The Cluny, Newcastle

FEATURED // Tyne & Queer Fest

Celebrating a new queer alternative collective in Newcastle, with live music from Mally, Kkett, Fiona Liquid and Scott Hepple & The Sun Band // The Globe, Newcastle

SATURDAY 4TH FEBRUARY

AMBER ARCADES

Dutch experimental pop musician Amber Arcades shares the bill with indie pop quartet Hater and emerging songwriter Thala // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

BIG MOUTH COMEDY CLUB

Featuring MC Dave Twentyman, Ignacio Lopez and more TBC // Middlesbrough Town Hall

CHRIS DIFFORD

Squeeze frontman and songwriter of exquisite talent // The Fire Station, Sunderland

HILARITY BITES COMEDY CLUB

Featuring Mark Nelson, Aaron Twitchen and Sully O’Sullivan // Forum Music Centre, Darlington

SONGS AND STORIES

With Nev Clay and Bridie Jackson // The Ship Isis, Sunderland

THE GREAT MARKET CAPER

Live music, great food and stand-up comedy // Grainger Market, Newcastle

TUESDAY 7TH FEBRUARY

YOU ME AT SIX

Emo pop rockers // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

WEDNESDAY 8TH FEBRUARY

EASY LIFE

Alt. indie band // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

PENANCE STARE

A brilliant fusion of black metal, electronic sounds and glorious noise, with support from Lump Hammer // Little Buildings, Newcastle

SETH

LAKEMAN

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist // Wylam Brewery, Newcastle

THURSDAY 9TH FEBRUARY

HILARITY BITES NEW ACT & NEW MATERIAL NIGHT

Featuring Danny Posthill, Sam Serrano, Rick Molland and more // Hops & Cheese, Hartlepool

FEATURED // Pottervision

Four performers are all set to recreate Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone but, when two of them drop out on the day (and take all the props and costumes with them), Tom and Lukas have to go it alone and make do with the limited resources they have // The Stand, Newcastle

FRIDAY 10TH FEBRUARY

KATE BOND

Neo-soul artist, with support from India Arkin and Eve Cole // The Cluny 2, Newcastle

THE PRIMEVALS

Unique Glaswegian garage/post-punk // The Engine Room, North Shields

SATURDAY 11TH FEBRUARY

ALAN CARR

The top comedian’s new show focuses on finding happiness and joy in the small things // O2 City Hall, Newcastle

BEND & SHAKE – SELF LOVE EDITION

A multi-genre queer party to celebrate Valentine’s, with a theme of self love // Old Coal Yard, Newcastle

BIGFATBIG

A stonking line-up features alt. pop punks bigfatbig with support from pop rocker Wild Spelks and riot grrrl band Sorority Grrrls // Independent, Sunderland

LINDISFARNE

Legendary 70s folk rock pioneers // The Exchange, North Shields

JAPANESE TELEVISION

Space surf four-piece // The Cluny, Newcastle

TIRED OF FIGHTING

The emotive punks lead a great line-up which also features St. Buryan, Kkett and TMG // Bobik’s, Newcastle

WHITENOISE

Up and coming rock four-piece, supported by indie rockers The Warrens // The Green Room, Stockton

SUNDAY 12TH FEBRUARY

STAR & SHADOW MARKET

Grab something special, unique or just a bargain. Bric-a-brac, arts, crafts, collectibles and more // Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle

MONDAY 13TH FEBRUARY

FEATURED

Veteran North East TV reporter and presenter Chris Jackson digs into the BBC archives to share a personal perspective on the biggest and most intriguing stories and events that have the shaped the lives of those in the region // Tyneside Cinema

THURSDAY 16TH FEBRUARY

CHRIS MCCAUSLAND

One of the UK’s top stand-ups Chris McCausland’s show is about life, family, and loads of other nonsense // Middlesbrough Town Hall

PINDROP PRESENT...

Alt. folk duo Fawns, plus Lim Orion and Peter Hall // Claypath Deli, Durham

THE FROOT

Modern psych and progressive pop rock band // Little Buildings, Newcastle

FRIDAY 17TH FEBRUARY

PIERRE BASTIEN &

TIM SHAW

Two experimental sound artists working with sound sculptures and automations // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

SATURDAY 18TH FEBRUARY

CRUX

A night of North East alt. indie from passionate rockers Crux, joined by socially-conscious melody makers Fossway and the shimmering riffs of Pet Rock // The Central Bar, Gateshead

FINE NIGHT ELEMENTS

Alt. indie band, supported by Tales and New Fang // Independent, Sunderland

42
TV Time
//
Machine: An Evening With Chris Jackson

LAUREN AMOUR

Prolific songwriter and pop star, plus support from Lily Brooke // Bobik’s, Newcastle

MAISIE ADAM

Rammed with witty observations, high-octane energy and right good jokes // Middlesbrough Town Hall

THE SYMPTOMS

Hexham punk duo, supported by Aero Twenty and The Longship // The Globe, Newcastle

WEATHERSHIP

JP Riggall’s epic project, supported by Nice Guy // The Green Room, Stockton

THURSDAY 23RD FEBRUARY

FRESH: LORIS & THE LION

Alt. folk duo Loris & The Lion weave gentle tales of joy and loss; a patchwork of sonic delights to soothe the soul and feed the heart, plus folk songwriter and storyteller Rosie Miles // Cobalt Studios, Newcastle

FEATURED //

Grace Smith Trio

A thrilling evening of dynamic folk musicianship headlined by rising star Grace Smith and featuring two of the UK’s premier youth ensembles, National Youth Folk Ensemble and Folkestra // The Fire Station, Sunderland

THE SUGGESTIBLES: IMPROV COMEDY JOYRIDE

You supply the suggestions, they provide the laughs // The Stand, Newcastle

FRIDAY 24TH FEBRUARY

PATRICK MONAHAN

The Teesside comedian reveals his observations on living contemporary life // Middlesbrough Town Hall

WE ARE SCIENTISTS

Quirky rock duo // Northumbria University Students’ Union

SATURDAY 25TH FEBRUARY

FIELD LINES CARTOGRAPHER

Endless Window offer up a night of experimental electronics and ambient sounds courtesy of Castles in Space artists Field Lines Cartographer and Polypores // The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle

HOT POTATO COMEDY CLUB

Featuring Matt Bragg, Phil Nichol, MC Matt Reed and more // Hartlepool Town Hall Theatre

OUR MAN IN THE FIELD

Classically crafted alt. Americana, with support from Lost Lot // The Globe, Newcastle

THE NEOLECTRICS

Indie rock five-piece, plus The Stride and Patrick Gosling // Independent, Sunderland

MONDAY 27TH FEBRUARY

KING NO-ONE

Exciting alt. indie band // World Headquarters, Newcastle

43 LISTINGS
FOR DAILY UPDATES ON ALTERNATIVE LIVE MUSIC, THEATRE, COMEDY, ART EXHIBITIONS, FILM SCREENINGS AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN THROUGHOUT THE NORTH EAST, HEAD TO NARCMAGAZINE.COM

REVIEWS

PAUL SMITH & FRIENDS @ SAGE GATESHEAD (03.12.22)

There’s a little something for everyone at this treat from one of the region’s favourite sons. Enjoying downtime from Maxïmo Park, this afternoon show in Hall 1 offers Paul Smith a welcome opportunity to explore his solo catalogue, some four years since its wares were last performed live. It’s his succession of ‘Friends’ though, who make this set a one-off, allowing for a handful of true rarities plus several combinations receiving their first (and perhaps only) public airing. Having each contributed a superlative support slot, rising local treasure Me Lost Me and ex-Wild Beast Hayden Thorpe help rework Smith solo gems The Beauty Contest and Our Lady of Lourdes, while fans of 2014’s underrated Frozen By Sight delight at the arrival of collaborator Peter Brewis for a rendition of album standout A Town Called Letter. Next on the guest conveyor is Kathryn Williams, who lends a voice to a trio of numbers including her own wonderful Midnight Chorus, part of a recent project alongside celebrated poet Carol Ann Duffy. The finest moment of all though is The King, a majestic a capella harmony performed with Rachel Unthank. Lasting barely two minutes, the seamless chemistry and comfort in each other’s voices serves as a magnificent pitch for the pair’s upcoming Unthank:Smith album – not to mention April’s full band show at Wylam Brewery.

CLIPPING. @ WORLD HEADQUARTERS, NEWCASTLE (02.12.22)

There was a lot of buzz the moment the good folks at F54 announced that clipping. were coming to town, and you could feel the anticipation the moment you walked into the venue.

On paper, clipping. are quite a strange proposition: two anonymous, unassuming guys into power electronics and the harshest industrial noise, and a rapper who’s more likely to be known for appearing in Hamilton or Snowpiercer than for being one of the best rappers out there. But from the menacing, John Carpenter-esque Nothing Is Safe, WHQ went off and the trio were absolutely on fire.

Daveed Diggs’ flow is astonishing – he raps at hyper speed but his annunciation is precise and clear as he bombards the hyped crowd with the darkest, most fucked up rhymes. And when they drop old classics like Wriggle the place is jumping (where but a clipping. gig would you see B-Boys throwing gun fingers to an old Whitehouse tune?). Diggs seemed genuinely moved/amused at the reaction (and the word-perfect singing along) and the set was a dark, twisted, ugly/beautiful delight. It could have been louder (and longer!) but it was pretty fucking great nonetheless.

FOLK IS QUEER: MADDIE MORRIS, SAM BAXTER @ COBALT STUDIOS, NEWCASTLE (17.12.22)

Words: Jade Mia Broadhead  Host Holly Clark introduces the night as a celebration of queer folk music and although the winter flu sadly claims two more victims in the originally billed Anna Hughes and Jess Howard, the show goes on with the delightful talents of Sam Baxter. Soothing our frostbite with violin and classical vocal, Baxter treats us to standards by the likes of Appalachian folk singer Dillard Chandler in a short set before welcoming fiddler player Merle Harbron to the stage for some instrumental duets, like the Norwegian lullaby Late To Bed and the lively Hunting The Hair, which dates back to the 1700s.  Bringing a contemporary feel to the proceedings is headliner Maddie Morris. Hailing from Leeds, Morris is a winner of the BBC Young Folk Award and tonight she justifies that honour with a set full of tales of growing up queer, from the emotive Greek mythology of Philomena right through to the anti-commercialism of Pride protest song, Skittles. Morris is both humorous and endearing, and there isn’t a person in the cosy audience that doesn’t relate to The Salmon – a track from her new Upstream EP – about the fish that is constantly swimming against the stream. A rousing finale of the unreleased and educational Marsha P Johnson is a fitting end to the first of hopefully many nights like this.

44
Paul Smith by Tracy Hyman

CRYWANK @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (07.12.22)

Obviously when reviewing the band Crywank, there’s an elephant in the room. My first impulse is to shoehorn a series of phallic puns across the review or make it a very penis-centric piece of writing, yet after the concert it is clear that this would ultimately be a disservice to the band.  Armed only with an acoustic guitar, Jay waltzes onto stage, as Dan sits behind the kit. With this bare bones duo forming the titular Crywank, they launched into action and delivered a genuinely thrilling set from beginning to end.

The Midwest emo sound of the Mancunian double act bursts to life inside The Cluny as the intricacies of the melodies and the tenacity of the drums bite with an unforgettable force. With the nuances and the technicality of the musicianship bubbling to the forefront of the performance,  it was undeniable that Crywank are beyond proficient musicians whose namesake, candour and humour mask the almost math rock precision of the music.

With a vocal that switched between a cracking vulnerability to a raw, screaming behemoth, Jay’s delivery was imbued with the uncontrollable, reckless self-loathing that established Crywank, but propelled by a newfound energy that set the gig alight. Briefly bringing Commuted back onstage for a bass guitar, the fuller sound suited the band but it was in the sparser instrumentation where they really shone. For just a guitar, a scream and a drum, the venue felt full of life, sound and texture, ultimately accumulating in an experience I won’t forget.

THE PEEVIE WONDERS, KATE BOND, FRANKIE JOBLING @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE

Local heroes The Peevie Wonders welcomed us into the Christmas spirit with their own unique blend of thrilling instrumentals, DIY spirit and playful songwriting. The lyrics that accompany their enormous guitar riffs are relatable, but not in a way which feels contrived, or like they’re reaching for too much emotional depth. Their tunes are written for those times that you’re hungover and want some Irn Bru, or when you’re being irritated by some wearisome gym bro, which is most of the time.

They kicked things off with latest single Keith’s Lemons, before tearing into absolutely massive tunes about eczema, butter and food shopping. If it sounds unusual, that’s because it is, but it was absolutely class. Despite how banging The Peevie Wonders’ original creations are, it was a cover of a Christmas classic which stole the show. Their headline set was rounded off with a raucous cover of The Darkness’ Christmas Time, with lead singer Mark diving into the crowd and passing the mic around to hear their best falsetto. It was a gig with a real family feel, and it was only right that everyone got stuck in to the finale. A word too for the excellent support acts, Kate Bond and Frankie Jobling, who welcomed us into the evening with some soulful, atmospheric songwriting. The latter was particularly ear-catching, and her exceptional single Grateful is one you may be hearing a lot more of in the coming months.

THE MARY WALLOPERS, SAM SHACKLETON @ THE CLUNY, NEWCASTLE (18.12.22)

As tonight proves, the problem with charging up your audience with loud cries of frustration, rebellion and anger, is that an audience can get so charged that they boil over into actual rebellion and anger. And this can dampen the gig.

Started by superb singer-songwriter Sam Shackleton, the central core of tonight’s fine show is one of working-class protest and uprising; Shackleton using a fine Johnny Cash, spirited, acoustic style of Scottish folk to deliver his message, and the later Mary Wallopers using an Irish/ Celtic Pogues/Dubliners approach of throwing as much punk rock energy into their Irish folk instruments as possible. Shackleton’s delivery of McPherson’s Rant stands out in a fine set before Mary Wallopers deliver the first 25 minutes of their show with a furious combination of attitude, wit and anger, before a mid-set crowd punch-up dampens both audience and band spirits considerably.    A final flurry of energy with the rousing Cod Liver Oil and The Orange Juice, as well as Building Up and Tearing England Down, is a superb ending and manages to turn both the band and audience back into a collection of smiles and pogoing.

There’s great songs and great performances tonight. But it’s a shame that the gig loses out when people take a show too seriously.

45 LIVE
Words: Jonathan Coll Crywank by Victoria Wai

RICHARD HAWLEY, KATIE SPENCER @ THE FIRE STATION, SUNDERLAND (12.12.22)

A top audience, in a top auditorium welcomed singer and guitarist Richard Hawley for his first ever Sunderland show. But the seaside city was also most appropriate for support Katie Spencer to showcase her debut album The Edge Of The Land. These poetic songs were delivered in a deep, rich voice, her Hull accent lending extra authenticity, and her chiming guitar like an extra voice in her armoury.

A zappily dressed Richard Hawley entered in melodic, rockabilly crooner mode, drawing on material from his most recent album, Further. He gradually turned the taps and twisted the distortion for a tortured ballad drawn from the wild west of Sheffield in Standing At The Sky’s Edge. Wonderful musicianship throughout from Richard and the band was supplemented by the lung busting harmonica of Clive Mellor. There were so many highlights from a set that alternated tempo throughout, but the baritone voice was our constant guide. Tonight The Streets Are Ours, a perfect pop song with political punch was prefaced by a rousing rallying cry of Fuck The Tories; the son of a Sheffield steel maker was forging an alliance with children of mining and heavy industry. The encore warning salvo of a seismic There’s A Storm Coming was followed by a soul stirring Heart of Oak to send us out into the winter of discontent fortified with a Ready Brek glow. Inspiring.

BROCKHOFF, COSIAL, JEN DIXON @ WESTGARTH SOCIAL CLUB, MIDDLESBROUGH (11.12.22)

With the cold snap biting outside, there was a warm Sunday afternoon welcome for young German band Brockhoff from the friendly crowd in the intimate downstairs of the Westgarth Social Club. What better setting for a first ever headlining show for the Hamburg singer and her band.

Local singer songwriter Jen Dixon opened the bill, playing with a band certainly helped expand the overall sound up to the level of her powerful, expressive vocals. Another local singer with a backing band, Cosial, managed to combine hard-hitting melancholic lyrics with beguilingly melodic tunes.

After two memorable local support slots, Brockhoff strapped on her

guitar and played her way into our hearts. What we once might have termed alternative indie pop was the vehicle for Brockhoff’s songs, with a fuzzy guitar distortion adding emotional oomph, kick and angst. “I hope none of you cried yesterday,” Brockhoff said in introduction to a song titled, Crying On A Soccer Field (it was the day after the long night before of England’s World Cup elimination), while a lively cover of Lene Marlin’s Sitting Down Here bookended sparkling 80s/90s inspired re-stylings drawn from Brockhoff’s debut EP Sharks.

THE DEVIL DANCED IN OUR EYES @ CENTRAL BAR, GATESHEAD (07.12.22)

In The Devil Danced In Our Eyes is a semi-biographical one person show which explores identity, sexuality and the perils of the online world. Writer and performer Jonluke McKie creates a captivating narrative that switches seamlessly from first person to narrator to other characters in the story. The story is punctuated with delightful moments where Jonluke comes out of role to perform his own songs with an acoustic guitar and a loop pedal. He layers up the sound beautifully –it’s lyrical and gentle. With serious subject matter around bereavement, mental health struggles and violence, the choice to bring the audience back into the room at intervals to meet the real, grounded Jonluke of today is a wise one.

Jonluke is supported in creating his character Jamie’s bewildering world by Simon Cole’s live animation which bathes the set in moving motifs and vibrant patterns. The play is a searching exploration of a complex issue, for who would want their teenage son discovering the world in this way and yet, isn’t there a sense in which Jamie seems grateful for his experiences? We connect with him, hold our breath for him, and breathe a sigh of relief for him.

Jonluke comes across as self-deprecating. Maybe it’s because he knows a troubling cough will make the high notes just out of reach. But there is no need to be. The Devil Danced In Our Eyes is charming, sure to touch hearts of all ages. A miniature origami crane is not the only thing the audience will take away.

Performances in February include dates at Middlesbrough Town Hall (8th), Gala Theatre in Durham (11th) and Live Theatre, Newcastle (17th & 18th).

46 LIVE
Richard Hawley by Iam Burn

GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS, RUDI BETAMAX, SMUJ @ THE SHOOTING GALLERY, NEWCASTLE (08.12.22)

Words: Dominic Stephenson

Promoter Endless Window curated a line-up of juxtaposed sounds on a sub-zero night down on the Quayside. There’s a lot to like about the sisterhood of SMUJ. Containing 1/2 of No Teeth and 1/3 of Muckle, it would be futile to try pigeonhole their contorted sound into one genre. Dynamic drums and manic synth/keys or jubilant trumpet jostled with scraping vocals and a compact bassline. Keep your eyes sharply peeled for their sophomore single.

Teesside outfit Rudi Betamax had to make do with a shortened set after a prolonged soundcheck, and with the frontman resembling a rockabilly action man via a Turkish barbers, it was a surprise to hear them indulge in more pop punk tendencies. Flashing keys injected some glam punk allure but it felt like the balance between the quartet wasn’t quite there. Since their formation in 2016, Girls In Synthesis have (not-so) quietly been moulding a savage blend of post-punk stylings and electronic noise. With a set justly focused on October’s The Rest Is Distraction, the London trio summoned a crackling, ultrasonic whirlwind. Between duelling mic stands, battering drums thrust forward this well-oiled ironclad. With two voices barking at each other face to face, the guitarist and Super Hans doppelganger splintered metallic shards via riffage and keys, while the growling, motorik bass was one of best I’ve heard all year. Once this strangulated kinetic energy had been unleashed, it was impossible not to absorb. Sedative and seamless, go see them immediately, in the smallest room you can find.

MARTHA, BIGFATBIG, FORTITUDE VALLEY @ POP RECS LTD., SUNDERLAND (01.12.22)

Words: James Hattersley

Durham’s alt. punk songsters Martha have finally brought The Darkest Timeline Disco UK tour to sunny Sunderland’s Pop Recs Ltd. Surely, this is proof that we can’t possibly be living in the darkest timeline, as the band most certainly brought their delightful disco to fans old and new on a miserable Thursday night.

Further proof that you should always make an effort for the support acts, half of Martha are pulling double duty tonight as Fortitude Valley open the gig with some impeccable indie punk. All Hail The Destroyer, an ode to a naughty cat, shows a playfulness while Wreck cements the

band’s joyful guitar haze, complete with a blistering solo. Next up is everyone’s favourite band bigfatbig, who blow the roof off with their powerful, in your face pop punk – twisting and shouting whilst demonstrating a furious energy. Shut Up has a riff that won’t quit and a chorus that has the audience doing the opposite of shutting up.

Martha reach the stage as boiling point is reached – the band remove the lid and treat the audience to a stomping and rousing run through their catalogue of knee jerking, pop-minded punk whilst touching on old classics and new favourites. Fan favourite Chekhov’s Hangnail sets the tone for the show; social commentary injected throughout, there is a career spanning set, from the hard hitting frenzy of Move To Durham and Never Leave to the mature and anthemic I Didn’t Come Here To Surrender. A broken string gives room for a crowd singalong of St Paul’s, whilst the feverish Baby, Does Your Heart Sink rips through with all its captivating glory.

Romanticising and delivering staunch realism, this is a real homecoming for Martha – the perfect distraction to a world going to hell.

GENERATION, NOYOU, ESCHER @ BOBIK’S, NEWCASTLE (01.12.22)

In a bid to let the world know that rock isn’t dead, tonight’s tremendous line-up at Bobik’s pushes three exciting live bands to the front of the stage in order to kick out the jams. Durham/Romsey- based openers Escher kick things off with a solid live showcase of the type of art rock recently introduced on their promising All The White EP.  They’re a great opening act for indie electro outfit noyou, who bring their mixture of pop and rock in full force. Mixing The 1975 jangle with Roxy Music’s high-art context, noyou are in fine voice tonight, particularly on standouts We’re So Sorry and the appropriately titled (recently written) Something Special. Kudos also to some superb lead and rhythm guitar work.

And that leads nicely into the dirty-sleazy-punky-glam act of three-piece Generation, who take to the stage in furs and shades, acting like rock gods from the first chord. Mixing elements of the grimier side of Jesus And Mary Chain with the downright sleaze of Jane’s Addiction and Marilyn Manson, Generation play out with high intensity and fine musicianship. Opening track Rock Star Shit and new track Amaze Me stand out in a unique three-chord mash of glam punk.

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Martha by Victoria Wai

TRACKS

SISI

FALLEN ANGEL

Words: Gus Ironside

Teesside-based singer-songwriter Sisi is only 18 but has already made her mark by winning the Young Songwriter of the Year (UK and Ireland) for 2022. Her new single Fallen Angel is a cool, understated pop song that’s likely to further enhance Sisi’s growing reputation as one to watch. Sisi cites Afropop and garage as two of the many influences on her music, but Fallen Angel has a confidence and directness to it that suggests she’s arrived at her own sound, with her distinctive, vibrato-tinged singing well to the fore. Having performed at Reading and Leeds Festivals and garnered airplay on BBC Radio 1, Kiss radio and other stations, expect to hear more from this young North East talent in 2023. Released: 03.02.23 www.instagram.com/sisi.official

SINGLES

MUSIC FEATURED?

ISABEL MARIA ADDICTED

Words: Matt Young

With a catchy pop sound akin to Olivia Rodrigo, Lorde or Taylor Swift, this song breezes in jauntily. It’s a stealthy move providing a bright, fresh sound alongside the lyrics focussing on the naivety and ultimate toxicity of a one-sided relationship. The songwriting, aided by production from South Shields’ Harbourmaster, is succinct and Isabel Maria’s voice sparkles as she narrates her cautionary tale.

Caustic at times, and self-deprecating, the song chastises both parties for the way things have gone with wit and honesty, before finally freeing themselves from that situation. The singer promises this song is part of a series of tracks due out that continue the story which is a great hook for those invested in the protagonist’s next moves. Released: 03.02.23 www.linktr.ee/isa6elmaria

THE PEEVIE WONDERS

ELECTROBUTTER

Words: Adelle Sutheran

Electrobutter kicks off immediately with fuzzy, frenetic electric guitars, thrashing symbols and North East accents, and thus established The Peevie Wonder lads come at us full throttle. Lyrics rattle off the idiosyncrasies and the madness of the non-butter likers and the spreadless folk. I really appreciated the tongue in cheek, often nonsensical, soap box opera lyrics in this track, which manages to be cheeky while still having an air of lightness, simplicity and brash rebellion, all wrapped up inside a banging tune.

It will be interesting to observe further releases from the newcomers, who have already been getting some serious radio air time, including plays on BBC Radio 1. Electrobutter is a track that is sure to grow on you, whether you’re a spreader or a hater.

Released: 10.02.23 www.facebook.com/thepeeviewonders

COSIAL

MICHAEL’S SONG

Words: Liv Aldridge

Up and coming artist Cosial’s new single opens with a ticking rhythm and buttery vocals, not unlike Taylor Swift’s early stuff. What makes this different from the romance-narrative style is the confessional/first person form of the lyric which recalls the bedroom pop genre.

The song never peaks aggressively; it ends abruptly giving us as listeners a sense of its transience. There is a temporariness emanating from the track; in a mix of teen longing and the cynicism of a young adult the song takes its position between the categories of adulthood and teenagehood.

In the end, I am convinced by the visceral references to a heart “rough as leather” which allows immaturity and maturity to coexist uncannily in the ethereal, dislocated space of bedroom pop.

Released: 02.02.23 www.facebook.com/cosialmusic

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

MCCORMICK LOOKING FOR A LONELY HEART

Words: Niamh Poppleton

Singer-songwriter McCormick continues his prolific output of singles –this being his fifth over the past twelve months – in sharing Looking For A Lonely Heart with the world. Juxtaposing the naturally sad connotations of the title and its core subject matter, the song is shockingly upbeat (reminiscent of 80s electronica classics) with beautiful guitar melodies that uplift the listener. Despite this, throughout the song we, the human race, are called out. In just over three minutes, the lyrics discuss the human condition of hunting for love (especially when we want it to be reciprocated), delving into how that can actually be a terrifying act as “we could run and we could hide away”. A perfect driving song with lyrics to which everyone can relate.

Released: 27.01.23 www.facebook.com/itsmccormick

MAC TURNER SAY

Words: Matt Young

Opening with slow-ish moody, chiming guitar chords Say initially sounds reflective, even gentle. However, when the reverb-heavy vocals commence that mood takes on a more angsty, even ominous, vibe. The vocal distortion makes it difficult at times to hear all the words but the overall gist seems to be about falling for someone and that not being reciprocated.

Dishearteningly, lyrically, that means throwing red flags out like they’re confetti. The more you listen the more uncomfortable it becomes. There’s a huge distinction between heartbreak and being bitter or vengeful, and the latter two seem to be the case here. The realisation you’re not the centre of someone’s universe hurts, but not accepting that situation essentially screams out ‘avoid me in future!’

Released: 02.02.23 www.macturner-official.bandcamp.com

ARCADE SKIES

STRANGER THINGS CAN HAPPEN

Words: Matt Young

Using samples from Arthur C. Clarke as he espouses upon his vision of the world’s future from the distant echoes of the mid-1960’s, Whitley Bay-based producer Arcade Skies merges Clarke’s uncanny and ‘fantastic’ technological predictions in with ambient synths, and washes everything in a suitably ‘spacey’ atmospheric cloud. It’s reflective and chilled until around the halfway point when the heartbeat of drums is slowly turned up and then joined by a clatter of drum and bass that manages to edge the first half aside. The whirring electronic sax-like sound that’s in the mix too is initially an unsympathetic fit before settling down for the ride. It’s interesting but neither engaging nor danceable enough to aid many repeat listens. Released: 03.02.23 www.arcadeskies.bandcamp.com

AMPLIFIED MAN IT’S IN YOUR MIND

Words: Gus Ironside

Following the break-up of his previous outfit, Emergency Librarian, Amplified Man is the new project by songwriter Pete Kidd. This new EP is comprised of three instrumental tracks, It’s In Your Mind, Dream Sines and Fifth Dimension, which Kidd describes as “sonic boom ethereal rock”. Propelled by a driving bass line, It’s In Your Mind sounds rather like early Kraftwerk covering The Sex Pistols, which is surely a good thing! There’s a definite space rock vibe track to the track, which continues on the dreamy, spacey second track, Dream Sines, which is reminiscent of the more ambient tracks by underground rock veterans, Hawkwind. The space rock vibe deepens further on Fifth Dimension, featuring some wigged-out guitar-playing, to close a splendid, highly recommended EP. Released: 06.02.23

www.amplifiedman.bandcamp.com

DEAF FOREVER NARC HOLE

Words: Michael O‘Neill

We have been assured in advance that Deaf Forever hold no grudges against us, and that the title of this delightful slab of noise is in no way targeted at us. However, whoever’s pissed vocalist/guitarist Lance off has my eternal gratitude, as it has spawned one almighty colossus of a track. Narc Hole starts out as a gloriously entertaining riff-laden blast of catharsis, and then proceeds to hurl itself screeching into a stretched-out, brutal workout of overdriven slide guitar, brilliantly underpinned by the dark grooves of drummer Ben and bassist Tucker.

All in all, it’s a delightfully brutal listen from the Darlington-based alt. rock noise makers. Released: 02.02.23 www.facebook.com/deafforevermusic

TEN EIGHTY TREES MAYBE I LIKE THE MISERY

Words: Michael O’Neill

The Toon’s ever prolific and gloriously eclectic power trio return with a pounding, shape-shifting and enthralling five-track release that builds brilliantly on their patented, precision-engineered brutal assault.

Anyone familiar with Ten Eighty Trees knows the brilliance in store here: expect plenty of unexpected left-turns, loads of ruthless ear-worms, and a wealth of brilliant riffage for good measure. The Incubator alone finds the band doing more in two minutes than most could muster in twenty, yet they never sound like they’re trying too hard to impress.

The Newcastle rock band’s trajectory has been impressive thus far, this EP further serves as a phenomenal endorsement of their gifts as a trio. Released: 03.02.23 www.linktr.ee/teneightytrees

BADGER DEMOCRACY MANIFEST EP

Words: Gus Ironside

Duo Badger have had notable BBC 6Music airplay on Tom Robinson’s show and Sleaford Mods’ Artist Takeover of Iggy Pop’s show. Opening this four-track EP, Executive Outcome invites comparisons with early Ministry (circa Twitch) or Micro-Phonies-era Cabaret Voltaire, although there’s no mistaking the North East accented vocals, delivered in almost Mark E. Smith-like declamatory tones. Second track Goats and Bows continues the witty but incisive socio-political theme to the lyrics. Musically, the track has a softer, woozier feel with a subtle but rather lovely melody. One With The Crab People features an urgent, near-industrial hip-hop backing and closing track Savage Discourse increases the tension with a steadily ascending melody mirroring the intense vocal delivery. Catch them live at Little Buildings, Newcastle on Friday 3rd February. Released: 27.01.23 www.theartfulbadger.bandcamp.com

DOWNTOWN LESTER BROWN A.I. MASTERS PT II

Words: Adelle Sutheran

Delivering the follow-up to November’s A.I. Masters, Pt 2 sees Lester being in an uncharacteristically chipper mood for this release. The Newcastle-based self-proclaimed funk rock maestros serve up good quality electro guitar-led tunes, complemented by fat as funk, funky bass lines, with flecks of Latin essence. The band profess their lyrics to not have much substance, with song titles such as Jigsaw Maverick, Funky Monkey and Batteries Not Included, fun would be the order of the day here.

Having been described by some guy down the pub as ‘like if Jamiroquai binged the entire anthology of Black Mirror and sat down to record a three track EP’, this is a more than adequate description for their sound and a story too good not to include. Released: 04.02.23 www.downtownlesterbrown.com

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DEMOS

WE WANT YOUR MUSIC!

WORDS: MATT YOUNG

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Jade Mia Broadhead – Jade

This twinkling little jewel instantly delivers an atmospheric, dream-like vibe that’s an honest mix of heartfelt confessional and soothing nursery rhyme, both of which are tinged with their fair share of sadness.

As a poem to being happy, to change and the unambiguous “he will become she” it’s a finely delivered ode to transition. I guess there’s no way to experience this very particular longing unless you endure it yourself, but here Jade encapsulates it in as poignant

Yeller – Bleached Waves

Wonky synth washes in a hazy state akin to having a foggy hangover, the day after the night before. This gradually clears and there’s a clearer sounding track located in here. It’s reminiscent of Ibiza club compilations from the late 90s, early 00s or even Chromatics/ Johnny Jewel in one of his many incarnations. It’s never out-and-out ‘clubby’, having a much more chilled out vibe. It’s also far less glitchy and danceable than fellow spoonerism lovers Com Truise, but definitely borrows some of the squelchy audio palette of their synth and chill-wave bag o’sounds compatriots. www.instagram.com/guriyeller

Perrie Lovaine – One You Love

I love the sound of soul and funk, but my ears unfortunately don’t listen to a huge amount. But when One You Love begins prowling out of the speakers with the soulful vocals of Perrie Lovaine asking if she could be the one you love, I’m instantly onboard. The production is

a way as possible. Her voice tremulously accompanies the simply strummed acoustic chords and glistening xylophone beats. Soaring electric guitar lifts the mood as the song builds and reaches its climax, there’s a feeling of being stronger, looking forward and up, head held high. The power within the song’s message and the lyrics unselfconsciously, directly delivered and proclaiming she, Jade, has chosen to seek happiness. So, here’s to being happy, it sounds perfect.

www.jademiabroadhead.bandcamp.com

crisp and the song holds attention early on, however, I was personally itching for a much dirtier mix, something gritty and yearning. There was sadly some listening fatigue as it rolled to a close though, the vocal repetition sounding overdone, followed by an abrupt guitar riff that slides away unedifying. www.instagram.com/perrilovaine

Park View – Red And Blue

Yes, the obvious North East vocal accent could draw comparisons with current Geordie fave Sam Fender, or more aptly Maxïmo Park before him, when the chorus kicks off particularly, they conjure the early days of The Park. But these are both pretty strong associations by proxy and that’s not something to see as a penalty. What Park View deliver is romping indie pop, strong vocals and an enjoyably catchy three minutes in Red And Blue. The arpeggiated riffs underlying the top line also serve to brighten the sound hugely, and lift it away from becoming a one-

dimensional foot tapper. www.instagram.com/parkvi3w

Northeastener – Jonny Turpentine

As someone with a leaning towards the dark and unusual in most aspects of life, the narrative here is what grabs me about this otherwise pretty straightforward ditty. Swirling riffs and what sounds like a fairground pump organ underpin this ballad to the peculiar Jonny Turpentine. However, I’m not certain whether it’s a jaunty jingle for actual distilled pine tree resin, a person or a metaphor for danger. Or all of these! It feels like there’s a threatening subtext? Or maybe I’m looking for something that isn’t there. Perhaps it’s not something B&Q might associate with, but it’s fun. He says, in an uncertain way.

www.northeasterner.bandcamp.com

50
IF YOU’RE AN UP AND COMING BAND OR MUSICIAN, AND WOULD LIKE YOUR
REVIEWED IN OUR DEMO SECTION, EMAIL A TRACK TO NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM AND TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF!
MUSIC
Guri

THE GO! TEAM GET UP SEQUENCES PART 2 (MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES)

It’s a mistake to think The Go! Team have been ploughing the same technicolour furrow for their entire career: the basic formula has remained roughly the same across their seven (!!) albums, but the band are constantly throwing new elements into the mix. That approach reaches its peak with this absolutely blinding new release: they’ve taken the risky step of mixing pop with politics and the results are a petrol bomb in a sparkly gift bag. There’s always been a bit more going on than mere pop confection (even The Power Is On from their debut has Ninja declaiming “Watch who’s comin’ at you! Why? Who’s got the power?”). But the politics are slightly more explicit here, although not exactly dogmatic, and there’s something approaching anger – or at least frustration. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly Test Dept, but on the in-your-face pro-choice blast of Divebomb, as IndigoYaj announces “Cos to fight is a right, it’s the right to choose”, you get the sense that the playground chants are changing. And on Getting To Know – one of the sweetest songs in the GT! canon – you soon realise that it’s not her boyfriend that’s getting the bum’s rush. Opening track Look Away Look Away is one of their most anthemic yet (in nearly two decades of turning out anthems), as West African vocal group The Star Feminine Band encourage us all to work hard for change (in French! It’s like Stereolab on Haribo!) There’s a lot of guests from across the globe – curiously, human dynamo Ninja is only featured on a couple of tracks – and while The Go! Team clearly want to fuck shit up, they’re still going to do it with Fisher Price beats, magpie sample-delia, Shangri-La vocals and an international rainbow coalition rather than polemics and shouting. From the wonky electronics of Going Nowhere to the sweet girl group sounds of Sock It To Me, album number seven is an explosion of colour with a side-order of revolution.

I didn’t think The Go! Team could make the best record of their career this late. But they have and we should rejoice. Fuck yeah!

Released: 03.02.23 www.thegoteam.co.uk

YO LA TENGO THIS STUPID WORLD (MATADOR RECORDS)

After almost forty years in the game Yo La Tengo have cemented their position as a critic’s band with a fanatical cult following. Yet they just don’t seem to run out of steam, and in February they release their first full-length album in three years.

This Stupid World still has the band’s whole Velvet-Underground-indie-wistful thing going on, but it seems angrier and more progressive. Yes, tracks like Apology Letter and Until It Happens will appease more orthodox fans, but the most interesting stuff on the album is noisier, garage-like and Krautier. Tracks like Fallout and This Stupid World are industrial and urban foot-tapping soundscapes. It’s their most live-sounding album and produced entirely by themselves. Seventeen albums deep, Yo La Tengo sound fresher than ever.  Released: 10.02.23 www.yolatengo.com

THE WAEVE S/T (TRANSGRESSIVE RECORDS)

Words: Tracy Hyman

The debut album from Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall brings a refreshing mix of experimental folk, rock, jazz and punk. Two artists combining and exploring together, from alternative pop sounds to the more indulgent ballads, all full of creative saxophone and piano. The energy ebbs and flows. Opener Can I Call You has a haunting melancholy to its melodic opening passages, before launching into a juxtaposing experimental section. Synth-like guitar sits across a driving motoric beat.

Someone Up There is punky and futuristic, upbeat and full of spiky vocals. Drowning is dreamlike, with floating vocals against ethereal synth patterns and strings. Throughout, Dougall’s vocals are sublime and elevate the songs. The Waeve are well worth an exploration.

Released: 03.02.23

www.thewaeveofficial.com

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ALBUMS 4.5 / 5
5 / 5 ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Land of Sleeper (Missing Piece Group Records, 17.02) // The Golden Dregs – On Grace And Dignity (4AD, 10.02) // Andy Shauf – Norm (ANTI-, 10.02) // Amber Arcades – Barefoot On Diamond Road (Fire Records, 10.02) // Blues Lawyer – All In Good Time (Dark Entries, 17.02) // Kilynn Lunsford – Custodian of Human Succession (Ever/Never Records, 03.02) // loscil/Lawrence English – Colours of Air (Kranky, 03.02) // Paramore – This is Why (Atlantic Records, 10.02) // BIG|BRAVE – Nature Morte (Thrill Jockey, 24.02) // Hamish Hawk – Angel Numbers (Post Electric, 03.02) // Lowly – Keep Up The Good Work (Bella Union, 17.02) // Runner – Like Dying Stars, We’re Reaching Out (Run For Cover Records, 17.02) // Tungz – A Good Dream (Heist Or Hit, 17.02) // Mary Elizabeth Remington – In Embudo (Loose Music, 10.02) // Philip Selway – Strange Dance (Bella Union, 24.02) // MAPS – Counter Melodies (Mute, 10.02) // Hundred Reasons – Glorious Sunset (SO Recordings, 24.02) // Villages – Dark Island (Sonic Records, 17.02) // Miss Grit – Follow The Cyborg (Mute, 24.02)
4.5 / 5

GORILLAZ CRACKER ISLAND (PARLOPHONE)

Words: Tracy Hyman

Gorillaz are back with their eighth studio album, this time exploring the fictional land of Cracker Island. Similar in style to previous offerings, their electronic, synth heavy tunes combine funk, folk, dance and world music. Gorillaz tracks stand side by side with the usual collaborations, including a futuristic duet with Stevie Nicks. New Gold blends the psychedelic vocals of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker with the funky couplets of rapper Booty Brown, whilst the Spanish rhythms of Puerto Rican rapper and singer Bad Bunny on Tormenta are infectious. Final track Possession Island is a beautifully delicate track; gentle finger picking, melodic piano riffs, strings and harmonies with Beck bring the album to a close with the refrain: “We’re all in this together till the end”.

Released: 24.02.23 www.gorillaz.com

U.S. GIRLS

BLESS THIS MESS (4AD)

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith

U.S. Girls have taken some unusual digressions since 2018’s In A Poem Unlimited – so far Meghan Remy’s defining artistic statement. Bless This Mess draws from similar aesthetic landscapes but doesn’t quite soar in the way that previous records have. Opener Only Daedalus bears all of the hallmarks of what makes U.S. Girls great, but is scuppered by some dated, cheap sounding production decisions.

Ultimately, Bless This Mess works best at its most introspective and plaintive: the title track being a perfect example of Remy’s more melancholy composition. Fittingly, Bless This Mess feels transitionary, an eclectic hodgepodge with plenty of ideas fizzing around, but ultimately it’s one of the least coherent releases in Remy’s canon.

Released: 24.02.23 www.yousgirls.com

DEATH VALLEY GIRLS ISLANDS IN THE SKY (SUICIDE SQUEEZE)

Words: Jade Mia Broadhead

Opener California Mountain Shake heralds the bringing of some much-needed LA sunshine with its tribal call-to-arms and fuzz guitar, on this, the fifth LP from Death Valley Girls. The hypnotic high adrenaline Magic Powers only relents for the lazy hangover of Sunday, all shades up until the band put their collective foot down and speed off into the dessert, as Bonnie Bloomgarden croons: “I gotta keep on, keep on moving.” That’s as lyrical as it tends to get, it’s all about the images conjured up on tracks like the acid trip soundtrack that is Journey To Dog Star.

If you don’t like the psychedelic vibes there’s little to capture you here, but it’s a solid fun record and sometimes that’s enough.

Released: 24.02.23 www.deathvalleygirls.bandcamp.com

THE TELESCOPES EXPERIMENTAL HEALTH (WEISSKALT RECORDS)

Words: Robin Webb

Fourteen albums in and the urge to experiment is indeed in rude health with Stephen Lawrie.  Holed up in remote West Yorkshire he has independently produced, with a bunch of cheap instruments and no guitars, an album of lo-fi psyched-out swirls that lushly loop around, distorted and rich, defying any humble origins. There is a healthy depth to its strangeness, with a motorik combination of synths, noise and percussion, and I can fully understand why the electric strings are absent; we still get to gaze longingly at our feet beneath the keys and knobs as we float in the flickering of the VU vibes. Pop your sunglasses on, we’re inside and it’s smokin’ “When I hear the sound”. Released: 24.02.23

www.thetelescopes.bandcamp.com

QUASI

BREAKING THE BALLS OF HISTORY (SUB POP)

Words: Lee Hammond

This long-awaited return doesn’t fail to deliver, laden with absurdist dystopian themes often crossing the border into reality. Right from the off there’s an infectious groove, but this is underpinned by a darkness particularly evident in Queen Of Ears, its upbeat track belying the lyric “rehearsing your demise”.

As Breaking The Balls Of History continues, the heavier the tracks become, and the absurdity escalates. Doomscrolling calls out anti-vaxxers and climate deniers, while Rotten Wrock and Nowheresville provide an equally bleak outlook, before closing track The Losers Win compounds the misery with its slow, heavy beat, finishing the record in style. At times Quasi’s catchy pop rhythms mask the despair, but at its climax the gloom is plain to see.

Released: 10.02.23 www.thequasi.bandcamp.com

SCREAMING FEMALES

DESIRE PATHWAY (DON GIOVANNI RECORDS)

Words: Robin Webb

Don’t let the opening synth arpeggios fool you, this is most definitely a rock album, occasionally indie tinged with some piquant heady hints of prog, goth, folk, blues and pop punk, it’s quite the melange in here.

After 17 years in the game they have a great deal to draw on for this their eighth outing, and it is determinedly more focused than their previous expansive double LP. Certainly this release leans heavily into a pop universe, particularly with tracks like the radio friendly Let You Go and Ornament, or the harder edged Let Me Into Your Heart, which burns away into an echo-drenched ether dissipating into the album closer Titan, a proper alt. rocker channelling some fierce Pixies. Released: 17.02.23 www.screamingfemales.com

52 ALBUMS 3.5 / 5 3.5 / 5 4.5 /
5
4 / 5 3 / 5 2.5 / 5

FATEN KANAAN AFTERPOEM (FIRE RECORDS)

Bewitchingly beautiful instrumental album from a modern classical composer based in Brooklyn but drawing on European and Middle Eastern roots. Minimalistic, synthesised, whirling repetitive patterns are structured into thirteen melodic pop song-length tracks. From the whimsy of the darting Snowing or the quirky, creative Castling and the mysterious weaving, dancing computerised voices of Votive or the cascading keyboards of Cascando, we are enveloped in worlds within worlds. Never cold steel computerised but warm, organic and enriching. This fifth album by Faten Kanaan is highly accessible, expressive, hypnotic and cinematic. Trapped narratives are released through the ebb and flow of each song, rippling like pebbles thrown in a pond leaving indelible impressions like the after taste of an ancient poem. Compelling. Released: 24.02.23 www.fatenkanaan.com

YOUNG FATHERS HEAVY HEAVY (NINJA TUNE)

Words: Michael

It feels like an eternity since 2018’s Cocoa Sugar completely shattered my mind and rearranged it thoroughly, but we finally have a new Young Fathers LP to behold and, unsurprisingly, it is every bit the masterpiece we expected and deserved.

From their Mercury Prize-bagging debut DEAD, Edinburgh’s finest experimentalists have blazed a trail as a constantly evolving, always unpredictable beast of nature. Heavy Heavy follows a string of astonishing singles, with the glorious Geronimo and the blistering I Saw being in some phenomenal company here. Nearly a decade into their recording careers, they’re yet to run out of road in their quest to be the most singular, boundary-defying act the world can possibly contain, and Heavy Heavy is an almighty testament to that.

Released: 03.02.23 www.young-fathers.com

M(H)AOL ATTACHMENT STYLES (TULLE COLLECTIVE)

Delivering on the buzz generated by 2021’s Gender Studies EP and last summer’s rapturously received live dates, the full-length debut from Dublin’s M(h)aol (pronounced ‘male’) runs the gamut from searing analyses of rape culture to waves of orgasmic period sex noise. In the space between, the five-piece hew blunt intersectional feminism alongside convulsing guitar noise and propulsive punk impulse; raw, creative and never shy of principled confrontation. Knitting everything together is vocalist Róisín Nic Ghearailt, whose musings flit expertly between wearisome ire (“I’m so bored of talking about men / Look at the news, is it that time again?”), cutting humour (“He said nice guys always finish last / But I did not finish at all”) and even incandescent spoken word as on Bisexual Anxiety. Furious, forthright and frequently fantastic. Released: 03.02.23 www.mhaol.bandcamp.com

LIV.E GIRL IN THE HALF PEARL (IN REAL LIFE MUSIC)

With its heady melange of glitchy grooves and neoteric flourishes, reinvention is the name of the game on Liv.e’s sophomore LP. A mere 18 months after garnering plaudits for her winningly retro-futurised debut, the genre-defying chanteuse near-wholly eschews the granular lo-fi textures of Couldn’t Wait To Tell You for an audaciously expansive digi-tonality, revealing a deft knack for mercurial virtuosity. Couching alluringly intimate lyrics in emotionally unfiltered diarism, Liv.e wields her airy vocals like a superpower, effortlessly striking the sweet spot between ethereal melodies and earthy harmonies. Whilst its overabundant gaggle of electro-kissed filigree can admittedly feel at times chaotic, by and large, Girl In The Half Pearl never feels anything short of distinctly intuitive and meticulously composed. Catch a vibe!

Released: 10.02.23 www.o-liv.bandcamp.com

THE NECKS TRAVEL (NORTHERN SPY)

Words: Lee Fisher

For most of their 35 year career, Necks albums were just one track, exercises in exquisitely sustained tension. With 2017’s Unfold, they shifted to shorter pieces, still built around their simple but endlessly malleable bass/drums / piano setup. And so it is with Travel, their Northern Spy debut. Built from a series of daily improvisations, it’s also one of their best yet. Opener Signal pulses like Rhythm & Sound, the piano riding the dubby rhythm. Forming is more fractured, a skittering dialogue between the trio. The organ on Imprinting adds to the In A Silent Way vibe, although with a little more menace and closer Bloodstream feels like the extended intro to something epically prog. This is deliciously deep listening and its definitely worth your time.

Released: 24.02.23 www.thenecks.com

FREE LOVE INSIDE (LOST MAP RECORDS)

Words: Ali Welford

Glasgow’s Suzi and Lewis Cook occupy a somewhat awkward niche in the DIY electronic world – a truly outstanding live act whose irrepressible, euphoric vivacity is all but impossible to recreate in the studio. Inside, though, is more than mere preamble. In fact, its pulsing acid-pop patchwork is a different listening experience altogether; carefully tuned, yet no less groovy or immersive. Perhaps the greatest joy lies in the record’s duality – not only in Suzi’s frequent exchanges between English and French, but also its seamless synthesis of acoustic and electronic sounds. It’s a delightfully multifaceted method, producing contrasts such as that between immediate bangers Open The Door and All The Same To Me and later cuts Stop and I Become, whose same elements lie reduced in thick psychedelic soup. Released: 24.02.23 www.freelovenrg.com

53 ALBUMS 5 / 5 4 / 5 4 / 5 3.5 / 5 4 / 5 4 / 5

MIXTAPE

WORDS: SHAKK

I’m Shakk, a rapper from Middlesbrough and the presenter of the BBC Music Introducing show on BBC Radio Tees. Through the power of music I’ve been blessed enough to meet and work with the best artists, promoters and organisations from our region. As an avid listener of music from the North East I wanted to select some of my stand out tracks for this Mixtape, specifically from Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire, to celebrate the diverse mix of talent we have in this area right now.  www.instagram.com/shakkmusic

TRUNKY JUNO OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

Trunky has become well known for being fun, witty and creative and this is a prime example of how good he really is. The song is so catchy, light and uplifting but also sees Trunky exploring what seems to be a tricky situation with empathy and optimism. It’s one you find yourself singing when you wake up and then playing on repeat.

COMMON COURTESY

GETTING YOUNGER

Here is an emerging band with an incredibly bright future. I love the way Common Courtesy are able to blend genres sea mlessly. Every track of theirs is different but well executed. Clever, catchy, and conscious lyrics accompanied by great instrumentation, and who doesn’t love a little sax?

SISI

SIMMER DOWN

Having already performed at Reading & Leeds, headlining the first ever BBC Music Introducing Live event in Teesside and being awarded accolades like Songwriter of the Year at just 17, Sisi is trail blazing the way for young artists and showing them that anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Simmer Down is an absolute summer anthem; if you’re not a Sisi fan after listening to this one then me and you can’t be friends.

LUKE ROYALTY I DO

This track by Darlington’s favourite home town boy showcases his cheeky, honest, laid back style and also how he isn’t afraid to show a little vulnerability through his music. Trust me this one is a banger!

JODIE NICHOLSON MOVE

Jodie has the ability to completely take you into a different world when you listen to her music and Move is a prime example of that. I love the way she’s able to delicately flow across the track whilst not being afraid to let the beat breathe when it needs to.

EYECONIC MPATH

This year Eyeconic was selected to perform on the BBC 1Xtra rap cypher at Maida Vale. Mpath sums up perfectly who Eyeconic is as an artist. He is bold, unapologetic and unafraid to take risks. This track was a statement.

BENEFITS EMPIRE

I have to take my hat off to Benefits (I never take my hat off) because they go against everything that the mainstream music scene stands for and have amassed a cult following of supporting fans doing

so. Isn’t that the type of thing most artists can only wish for? They’re loud, brash and emphatic; if you haven’t heard of Benefits, now is your chance.

EVE CONWAY CRUCIFIED BY HURRICANES

Eve is as good as they come and you don’t need to look any further than this song to understand what I mean. She is truly an exceptional artist and every time I listen to this track I find new meanings within her lyrics and gain new understandings, which is a testament to Eve’s detailed, nuanced and powerful songwriting capabilities.

SARAH PROCTOR PARADISE

A lovely reminder to appreciate and live in the moment with the ones you love the most. What a beautiful message. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are with the people/person you love the most.

AMELIA COBURN

OH CAPTAIN! GUIDE ME HOME

Amelia proves time and time again why she is one of the most booked artists from our region with songs like this taken from her EP The Ebb And The Flow. Amelia has the ability to uplift you even when exploring deeper, darker subjects like mortality through her poetic lyricism and delivery.

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