THIS MONTH, WE’VE B E E N M O S T LY L I STE N I N G TO...
Will Joseph Cook Sweet Dreamer Big Willy’s got style on his debut full-length.
Charly Bliss - Guppy We’ve been waiting for a while for this, Charly Bliss’ debut album. It’s not about former Leicester player Steve Guppy. We think. You never know.
THIS MONTH... U P D AT E 05 07 08 12 14 16 17
T H E M AG I C GA N G DORK LIVE! TEI SHI CITY GUIDES… PINS THE SHINS M A RI K A H AC K M A N BANG ERS
HYPE 18 19 20 21
P A L E W AV E S SIGRID B E L L E V U E D AY S KOYO
28 32 38 40
THE BIG MOON CREEPER DIET CIG C I R C A WAV E S
REVI E WS 42 43 44 45
THE BIG MOON R E A L E S TAT E JULIEN BAKER P U L L E D A PA R T BY HORSES 46 ESTRONS 48 TEGAN & SARA
F E AT U R E S
A N Y OTH E R QU ESTI O N S?
2 2 B L A E N AV O N
50. BA D SO U N DS
Editor: Stephen Ackroyd firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor: Victoria Sinden email@example.com Assistant Editor: Ali Shutler firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors: Alex Bradley, Ben Jolley, Chris Taylor, Corinne Cumming, Eala MacAlister, Jake Richardson, Jamie Muir, Jenessa Williams, Jessica Goodman, Martyn Young, Rob Mair, Rob Mesure, Rosie Ramsden, Phil Smithies, Sam Taylor, Sammy Maine, Sarah Louise Bennett, Steven Loftin All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally. P U B L I S H E D F RO M
THE BUNKER W E LCO M E TOT H E B U N K E R.CO M
UPDATE IF IT’S NOT IN HERE, IT’S NOT HAPPENING. OR WE FORGOT ABOUT IT. ONE OR THE OTHER.
It’s a kind of
Magic THE MAGIC GANG HAVE A NEW EP AS THEY CONTINUE THEIR ASCENT. WORDS: JESSICA GOODMAN.
rom the moment The Magic Gang step on stage, the spell they cast on their audiences is nothing short of, well, magical. All out dance moves, friends on friends’ shoulders, crowd surfers sailing over heads, and through it all, a characteristic brand of sun-kissed indie pop that leaves you feeling as warm inside as a stock photo of a puppy with a butterfly on its nose. It’s an ardent enthusiasm the band inspire, one that’s seen them release two EPs, play at venues all across the UK, and start to venture abroad. Now, with a major record deal in the bag, a new EP about to see release, and a headline tour ahead of them, there’s never been a better time to fall for the Brighton four-piece. It’s no wonder that the excitement levels are soaring pretty high. “I think it’s going to be fraught with disaster,” Jack Kaye laughs, “but we’re excited about it none the less.” Readying to hit the road with their housemates in Abattoir Blues, the group are slightly wary of running the risk that they’ll all end up tearing each other’s hair out, but much like with their music, optimism and ardour weigh out the rest. “They’re a bit of a mad bunch as well,” Jack comments on their soon-to-be tour mates. “It should be really fun.”
With new material at the ready, these shows seem set to be some of the band’s most thrilling yet. “We try and write choruses we can imagine big groups of people singing together,” Jack describes of the rousing characteristic of their music. “We try and make the verses as groovy and as danceable as possible.” This chant-a-long, shakeyour-cares-away nature, instilled into everything The Magic Gang do, is exactly what makes their charm so hard to refute. “When we play live, that’s kind of all it is,” the frontman states. “It’s just trying to create an environment where people want to sing along and smile.” This is something that not only resonates on stage, but with every release the band have put out to date. Rooted in deep friendship and a shared creative passion, the enjoyment they offer stems from their own determination to enjoy themselves.
we’ve done well to not put too many songs on each release,” Jack grins. “It’s made it kind of an easy listen for people.” Consisting of four tracks written at “quite different times,” the EP is an embodiment of everything the group have come to be. “The single is basically a love song to Brighton,” Jack portrays. “One of them is a nice ballad Kris [Smith] wrote on his own.” Of course, even on their more melancholy numbers, the outfit never fail to inject their trademark sense of sunshine. “Despite what you’re writing lyrically, the mood of the song is normally determined by the whole band,” the frontman offers as explanation. “Sometimes the lyrics and the music don’t represent the same thing. I think that makes it quite interesting.”
“Talking to other bands it feels like our writing process is a lot different to what most other people do, or what most of our peers do anyway,” Jack mulls. “It really is such a shared process with us.” With every track born out of creative harmony – something that takes on a quite literal form in the shared harmonies that fill the choruses – The Magic Gang’s latest EP showcases them as bold and bright as ever.
Completed by two further tracks the band describe as “a little bit less autobiographical, a little bit more storytelling, and a little bit more fun,” the EP was barely even announced before the group confirmed they were beginning work on their long anticipated debut album. “We’ve been signed now, we can afford to make an album,” Jack laughs, “which is good.” Having spent three years honing their talents and growing tighter as a unit, the time has never felt more right.
With only a handful of tracks, the new EP is short but sweet, a format the outfit have continuously proved themselves to excel within. “I feel like
“It felt like there was so much talk,” Jack groans. “You have so many meetings, and there’s so much talk around getting signed. When it finally
UPDATE happens, it feels kind of good to just get it done.” Now signed to Warner Brothers Music, The Magic Gang are ready to make the future their own. “It’s a huge deal to do something like that,” the frontman exclaims, “and it’s such a massive name.” It’s not just finding a label that’s prompted the outfit to begin work on their first full-length. “For a long time it kind of felt like we were still finding our feet,” Jack recalls. “Over the last two EPs our songwriting has really developed,” he continues. “Production-wise we’ve learnt how to get the energy into recordings.” Having built up a solid reputation through their live shows, and now having built up confidence in their ability to recreate that energy on record, their debut album seems set to portray The Magic Gang’s essence at its strongest. As for how the progress is going, the band reveal that they’ve written “quite a few songs which – if lucky – will make it onto the album.” With a backlog of material to draw from, the band admit that when it comes to writing for the record “it’s more a case of cherry-picking the songs” than it is starting from scratch. “We write so much that we’re more in the position now where we’re choosing what’s going to go on rather than consciously trying to write an album,” Jack enthuses. The recording process is already underway. “We’re going to go away
for ten days now and try and bash out four songs,” Jack divulges. “Hopefully some, if not all, of them will be on the album. It’s pretty exciting.” Retreating to a studio in Wales to work, the group are ready to put their all into every moment. “We want to be in a position where one of us can’t leave early and stuff like that,” Jack chuckles. “When you’re recording in London or Brighton one of you will just go home when they’ve done their part.” Shutting themselves away might seem like an extreme solution, but in devoting themselves completely to the undertaking, the results will surely prove worth the while. “I think we wanted to be in a bit of a hub where we’re just kind of locked in one place, bashing it out and getting into that,” the frontman contemplates. “Also, we won’t have any distractions there, which is kind of ideal.” Describing the working process behind the album as “something we do broken up over some time,” with recording sessions spaced out, the record promises to be The Magic Gang at the most Magic Gang sounding yet. But there’s still a way to go. For now, the band admit that they’re “quite happy just plodding along,” and if they can “make people smile and help people enjoy themselves” along the way, then what’s reason is there not to be involved? The Magic Gang’s EP ‘EP Three’ is out 24th March.
The Magic Gang are playing a special homecoming show with Dork as part of the Bushmills Tour
he Magic Gang are pretty much destined to be an important band. Singalong choruses and hysteria wherever they go are just the natural side-effects of having a box packed full of bangers in their pockets – it’s been a journey that was made in Brighton and has flourished from there too. So you can imagine what a hometown show is going to look like for one of British guitar music’s brightest lights. Yeah, that’s right, it’ll look blooming stunning. Just as well that on 13th April, The Magic Gang are heading to Brighton’s Green Door Store – and we’re coming along for the ride. Teaming up with Bushmills Irish Whiskey, the Dork show comes as part of the wider Bushmills Tour, where blistering bands take to the stages of some of the country’s most iconic venues. From the likes of VANT heading up to Manchester on 27th April and The Wytches spinning their web all over Leeds on 25th May – the shows also include our buds over at Upset Magazine teaming up for a pogoing night with We Are Scientists at London’s Bush Hall on 9th May. Tickets for The Magic Gang’s crowning moment at the Green Door Store are on sale now – make sure you keep hold of them. You’ll want to show all your mates that “I was there” for a hometown celebration for the ages.
WE’RE ON THE ROAD THIS MONTH WITH A BUNCH OF AMAZING SHOWS
A A DAY IN THE LIFE OF... ADAY DAYIN INTHE THELIFE LIFEOF... OF...
Izzy B from Black Honey
BLACK HONEY ARE PLAYING A DORK LIVE SHOW AT READING’S FACE BAR ON 2ND APRIL. SO WE’RE PREPARED, IZZY B IS MAKING SURE WE ALL KNOW WHAT A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE BAND IS REALLY LIKE. 08:00 My day on tour starts with Dan Potts (manager) or Charlotte Patmore (photographer) who I am sharing a bed with, shouting at me to get out of bed. The morning then proceeds to a teenage tug of war screaming match, usually ending with a negotiation that I will get up for no less than a cup of hot water (helpful for both voice and hangover). I pack for the shoot, put on an outrageous amount of makeup for this time of day. Before my daily outfit meltdown, whereby all my tour clothes stink so I have nothing to wear in the Arctic snowing tundra of a Parisian January. 09:00 Patisserie with Charlotte for morning croissants, coffee and cigarettes. The boys stay in the apartment sleeping off a hangover. 09:30 Jump in a cab and drive through the centre of Paris to the Tour Eiffel, brainstorming concepts for visuals, Bardot references and contingency plans to survive shooting in the sub-zero temperatures in very few clothes. We find a wicked old café at the foot of the Tour Eiffel, neck another coffee then nip outside bare bod (to the amusement of every onlooker in the café) to shoot. Then suddenly to our amazement, clouds drop from a blue sky and snow begins to fall in huge great lumpy cotton buds like some kind of weird Lynch movie! Perfection!
A P RI L 2 N D
B L AC K H O N EY
+ F RE A K RE A D I N G , FAC E BA R (14+) A P RI L 6 T H whoever gets it is the king or queen and gets to wear a crown. Thankfully no one chokes to death, and Charlotte wins making me her queen, we both get crowns!
14:00 Dan arrives in the van and shuttles us and the gear over to Le Pop Up Du Label where we unload. The guys set up for sound check while I set up the merch stand. More coffee. 16:0 0 Interview and photos with a Parisian blogger between discovering the free photo booth machine where we take about 70 selfies of every band member. This obviously ends with Jordan our sound engineer taking a ‘Man-gina’ selfie after a few cocktails. 18:30 Dinner with our promoter, red wine with a carbonara! All the venues in Europe feed you; it’s such a treat to have hot home-cooked meals on tour. They serve this cake for pudding where it’s tradition to sneak in a little china figurine in,
A P RI L 13T H
T H E M AG I C GANG
19:30 The doors are open, the queue is moving, and the room is buzzing with excitement. My nerves start kicking in, so I go upstairs to put on glittery makeup, warm up my voice and have my second outfit crisis of the day.
B RI G H TO N , G RE E N D O O R STO RE
20 : 30 THE SHOW BEGINS. We have never played Paris before, it’s sold out, and something about this one feels special. How do the crowd know all the words?!
+ W I L L I E J H E A L EY RE A D I N G , SO U T H ST RE ET A RTS C E N T E R (14+)
21:30 Straight off stage and to the merch stand to sign records and have photos with our Parisian fans! I’m so wrapped up in meeting everyone that I almost miss one of the guys handing me a Margarita to say well done. I am a big fan of both cocktails and tequila, so this is basically the best thing ever.
A P RI L 26 T H
PA L AC E
A P RI L 27 T H
H M LT D
+ D E A D P RET T I ES B I RM I N G H A M S U N F LOW E R LO U N G E (16+ / 18+ A F T E RPA RT Y )
00:30 Loading out gear, then off for drinks with our mates Jips and Quentin. We lose Dan, Tom and Jordan from when they go to drop off the van and then go to a gay bar for a few, so the remainder of us go to the pub to discuss music after long and failed navigation from all of us.
12:45 Just before we reach hypothermic paralysis, we hit up the Chocolat chaud stand for some warm and delicious overpriced hot chocolate. The Jamaican server wearing just a t-shirt in the snow, while laughing, told us that he loved the cold. Cab back to apartment – heating on full blast. 13:00 Pick up the bros, get some snaps done outside the apartment. More coffee.
T H E W Y TC H ES
+ W E I RDS RE A D I N G , FAC E BA R (14+)
02:00 Back to the apartment, I am, no word of a lie, greeted by Jordan spread-eagled in my glittery flares and red crop top with makeup smudged all over his face. In mine and Charlotte’s bed is Dan and Tom giggling, also dressed in my clothes claiming that the fire bombs they were given in the gay bar weren’t part of the bartender coming onto them but was merely an act of kind generosity. Naturally, I’m elated to find a room full of people dressed as me and insist that I do everyone’s makeup while Chris and Tommy join in on raiding my wardrobe. 07:30 Five-hour drive to Rotterdam… stopped by Belgian police en route… Tickets for Black Honey’s Dork Live! show in Reading are on sale now at readdork.com/shows.
HMLTD & Dead Pretties are doing a Dork show If you’re looking for a band who have been kicking up a fuss of late, you need trek no further than HMLTD. One of the buzziest bands on the planet right now, you can check out their video for the fantastical ‘Stained’ now on readdork.com. That’s why we’re absolutely delighted to announce we’re bringing them - and fellow buzz-band Dead Pretties - to you live this spring. The bands will play Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge on Thursday 27th April for a special Dork live show. Tickets are on sale now, priced £7, and there’s an 18+ afterparty too.
UPDATE to detail; I’m involved in every step and every choice. I wanted to take time, and now I feel like I’m coming out of that black hole.” For Valerie, ‘Crawl Space’ is about “coming into your own as an artist,” whereas on her two EPs – recorded within weeks – “I was just dipping my toe. I just put it out there and didn’t think too much about it, but when I started thinking about making an album something changed. I’d spent all this time touring and doing this; I just gained more confidence. I became more aware of what I wanted.” The result is a debut that’s packed with different sounds, styles and emotions – one that’ll have you checking if it’s still the same record every few tracks. “I was trying to make an album with a bunch of different genres,” she says. “I wanted every song to sound different from the last.” Valerie’s definitely succeeded: fusing jazz, electronic, soul, R&B and pop, ‘Crawl Space’ surprises at every turn while effortlessly defying expectation.
TEI SHI HAS DREAMED OF BEING A POP STAR SINCE SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL - AND NOW IT’S BECOMING A REALITY. WORDS: BEN JOLLEY.
n the two years since Tei Shi’s ‘Verde’ EP - which boasted viral breakthrough ‘Bassically’ and led to support tours with Grimes and a slot at Coachella last year - Buenos Aires-born Valerie Teicher has grown to accept her talent. “After I had put out that first thing and people liked it, I felt encouraged,” she begins. While she didn’t expect it would attract so much attention, Valerie felt that ‘Bassically’ was something special. “I thought it would translate more widely than a lot of the stuff I put out before that. It was a cool gateway into my other music,” she says, adding that the hype didn’t change her creatively. “It gave me the understanding that I could create something that came naturally to me, that was interesting and cool and would appeal to a big demographic of people. Before then, I didn’t think it was possible.” Growing up on a diverse range of music - veering between her mum’s love of The Beatles and Bob Dylan, her dad’s passion for “powerhouse divas” like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, and listening to Michael Jackson and The Cure with her three older sisters - “there was a bit of everything,” Valerie
remembers, “it was kind of all over the place.” Then, throughout her teenage years, she rediscovered the classic rock of Nirvana and The Cure before having an “emo phase; Death Cab for Cutie are still great,” she beams. But it was during her years at university that she started getting into electronic music and re-loving R&B – two styles of music that feed into her work as Tei Shi. Although music was a “lifelong desire”, she never quite believed it could become a career. To set the wheels in motion, a young Valerie would write and record songs/ words/arguments on her sister’s boombox - some of these childhood recordings feature as interludes throughout her debut album. “My ultimate dream was to be a pop singer,” Valerie recalls. “I used to sit in my room for hours and sing and record myself and write little songs. I would just talk, as well - it was like a confessional diary. My family members would come into the room and we would have conversations, or I would get into fights with my sister, and it’s all recorded.” After rediscovering one of the tapes a few years ago, Valerie went home to Canada mid-way through recording the album and dug out
more. “I picked out bits and pieces that I thought would be good for the album. For me, it’s an interesting juxtaposition of my life and my voice when I was young, being like ‘I want all these things, I want to be a singer’, but also being very selfhating and self-deprecating. That self-doubt that I still have a lot of the time, and contrasting that with a song that I’m confident about. It felt like I was giving this album as a gift to my younger self who dreamed of doing this…” Reflecting on the year-and-a-half process of making her debut, ‘Crawl Space’, Valerie calls it “a crazy experience. Realising that this is what I’m getting to do with my life, it brought me back to that feeling when I was little… I rediscovered a more raw, natural love for it.” It’s something that Valerie thinks was “lost a little” with her last EP. “I didn’t expect to be on the road so much after it… my life was a little bit all over the place. I got overwhelmed with the different things surrounding the music,” she remembers. Making the album, then, helped reignite her passion for creating music – though it’s been a long time coming. “I don’t know why it took so long,” she laughs. “I wanted to pay very close attention
For the first time in her career, she feels as though she is “in front” of her music. “On the EPs, everything was more abstract: the music itself, the production was more ethereal and washed out. I never had my face on the covers. Whereas this project is much more attached to me personally, which I think took me some time to get comfortable with.” Although there isn’t an overarching theme to the album, Valerie thinks it’s about “fully accepting and being serious and passionate” about what she does. “There was a lot of stuff going on in my life – half way through there was an ending of a relationship. I’d been in that relationship for my whole time as Tei Shi - the songs relate to that, the ending of relationships and the falling apart. But also the coming out and empowerment of it…” In terms of the album’s title, ‘Crawl Space’ represents Valerie’s emotions over the last few years. “The title sums things up for me because I felt that I was stifled in a lot of ways. Just cramped within the way that I had chosen to do things and some of the creative choices that I’d made and some of the people that I’d surrounded myself with,” she considers. “Throughout the album, it happened that I was making a lot of important decisions to change a lot of those things. The album really tracks that, and the crawl space is that emotional space of being suffocated and then coming out of it.” P Tei Shi’s debut album ‘Crawl Space’ is out 31st March.
CROSSTOWW N CONCERTS
P R E S E N T S
21 | 03 | 17
UK TOUR 2017
21 | 05 | 17
- BATH THE NEST -
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- BIRMINGHAM O2 INSTITUTE -
- LONDON KOKO -
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SHE DREW THE GUN
THE DISTRICTS - LONDON THE DOME -
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06 06O|UT 17 SO|LD
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APRIL TUESDAY 18 SOUTHAMPTON TALKING HEADS WEDNESDAY 19 LONDON KOKO THURSDAY 20 MANCHESTER ACADEMY 2 FRIDAY 21 BRISTOL BIERKELLER SATURDAY 22 GLASGOW ORAN MOR SUNDAY 23 DERBY THE VENUE MONDAY 24 NORWICH EPIC STUDIOS
SIGUR RÓS 24 | 09 | 17
Live at Tuesday 13 June 2017
11 | 04 | 17
LONDON ROUNDHOUSE Tuesday 27 June 2017
CAMBRIDGE THE JUNCTION Wednesday 28 June 2017
MANCHESTER O2 RITZ
25 | 04 | 17
CHAIN OF FLOWERS
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - BOURNEMOUTH BIC -
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JOLIE HOLLAND + SAMANTHA PARTON
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A CROSSTOWN CONCERTS & FRIENDS PRESENTATION BY ARRANGEMENT WITH UNITED TALENT AGENCY
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JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON
The new album In Mind out 17 March 2017
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alt-J say relax THEY’RE BACK WITH A
NEW ALBUM, NEW LIVE
DATES, AND AN ALL-STAR MATE LENDING A HAND.
lt-J are back with a brand new album. Titled ‘Relaxer’, it’s the follow up to 2014’s ‘This Is All Yours’, and comes ahead of a summer spent high up the bills at a whole load of festivals. “We’d like to thank you for your patience over the last year or so,” the band explain. “After finishing touring ‘This Is All Yours’ in December 2015 we took a long break. Thom released a solo album; Gus opened a restaurant; Joe has been watching a lot of films. We hadn’t set a time limit on our time off but by August 2016 we were ready to get back into the studio. The result is our third album, ‘Relaxer’, and we are really excited for you to hear it.”
Lana spell Rey
alt-J are also set to headline London’s O2 on Friday 16th June as part of the venue’s tenth birthday run of shows.
“The O2 is a huge, cool venue and we are excited to be helping to mark its tenth birthday,” reads a statement from the band. “It was a very special night the first time we played there, and we’re looking forward to going back for seconds. This is one of the first shows where we’ll be playing new songs from our forthcoming album, and we can’t wait to get back on stage again.”
The news of the new record comes alongside the first track from it. Titled ‘3WW’ (that’s ‘3 Worn Words’), the song features Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell on guest vocals. You can stream it now on readdork.com, and read our review on page 17. P
“Live long and... bollocks. Lost it again.”
ana Del Rey is her own woman. So much is obvious. But when she tweeted out a series of dates, we assumed it was a schedule of drops for new music. Or dates to do spells. It could always be dates to do spells. The four dates (24th February, 26th March, 24th April and 23rd May), came along with a message that ‘ingredients can b found online”. Sure, we noticed some people had pointed out the dates aligned with lunar cycles, and dates of the ‘waning crescent moon’, but honestly – new music. Obviously
new music. Or casting spells on Donald Trump. Yep, some eagle-eyed Twitter types noticed those dates also marry up perfectly with those stated by witches attempting to get Trump out of office with a ‘binding spell’. It isn’t just a coincidence all these things are based around lunar cycles. It’s proof. Lana is doing spells to save us from evil, and thus proving herself the best pop star on the planet right now. Please don’t turn us into frogs, LDR. P
THIS THIS IS THIS IS THIS IS THISIS IS HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING
PINS love Manchester so much they’ve gone to stand in the Barbican.
G I RL P O O L H AV E T H E P OW E R ( P L A N T ) Girlpool are back this spring with a brand new album. Titled ‘Powerplant’, it’s out on 12th May via Anti- Records. There’s a brand new track to check out too. You can hear ‘123’ on readdork.com now.
BU I L D A RO C K ET, BOY That’s not the only new record we’re getting this May. Obviously. After working with Frank Ocean, Alex G is back with his own new album. Titled ‘Rocket’, it’s out on 18th May. Two tracks - ‘Bobby’ and ‘Witch’ - are streaming online now.
City Guides: CityGuides: Guides: City PINS on Manchester FAITH HOLGATE PIN-POINTS HER FAVOURITE HANGOUTS IN ONE OF MUSIC’S BEST-LOVED CITIES.
here were no female musicians in the city to make a band with, or at least none that I could find. The lack of women only made the desire to be in an all-girl-group stronger, a sort of ‘I’ll show you’. It paid off, though, the searching. Intro Anna then Lois then Lara, then Lara left then Sophie joined, then skip a few years and enter Kyoko. Anyway, we bonded over music, feminism and red wine in Manchester six years ago. We were students, all studying something in the arts, but that isn’t how we met. The Manchester music scene was and is male heavy - MONEY, Great Waves, Wu Lyf, etc. - we crashed their scene. Rehearsing day and night in our Northern Quarter rehearsal room and then playing every sticky floored club that would have us, we made ourselves known. It’s love/hate with Manchester; it was our battleground. Despite our
tiffs, it has some great spots to have fun. TEMPLE BAR (BAR) Everyones favourite former public toilet. This tiny underground bar on Oxford Road is the perfect place to let your night descend into debauchery, go their last, not first; then you won’t notice the smell. The staff are really cool; they let us use the bar to film our ‘Bad Thing’ video.
record ‘What Kind Of Dystopian Hellhole Is This?’ I had the honour of singing on one of the tracks.
V REVOLUTION (RESTAURANT) This totally vegan, dog welcoming eatery serves the ideal hangover food, it’s all burgers, grilled cheese and fries but 100% meat/dairy free. I would recommend ‘Buffalo The Vampire Slayer’.
NOW WAVE (PROMOTERS) Pretty much every Manchester show we have played has been promoted by Jon and Wes. They’re responsible for bringing some really big bands to town, like Wu-Tang Clan for God’s sake, but they always support local talent too. We’re playing for them again at The White Hotel on 22nd April. P
THE UNDERGROUND YOUTH (BAND) The only band from Manchester never to claim the ‘Manchester band’ tag. Now relocated in Berlin the band are due to drop their latest
PICCADILLY RECORDS (RECORD SHOP) The last record I picked up from there was ‘Post Pop Depression’ by Iggy Pop, I bought it for my husband for Christmas. They stock all the best vinyl and have been supporters of our band from the start.
PINS’ EP ‘Bad Thing’ is out 24th March.
P H O E N I X A RE P L AY I N G A L LY PA L LY Phoenix are going to headline Alexandra Palace in London later this year. The currently one-off date will take place on 30th September, hinting that their long-awaited new album may also be set to land this autumn. Phoenix also have a number of festivals planned for over the summer, including the Governor’s Ball, Vida Festival, Garorock, NOS Alive, Bilbao BBK Live, Les Eurockeenes and Rock in Roma.
I T ’S LOY L E ’S PA RT Y Loyle Carner knows how to throw a party. When we used to throw a birthday bash, it’d be down to McDonalds to sit on the train tables. He’s playing Brixton Academy on 6th October. Show off.
Cabbage’s ‘majestic soundscape to sonic depravity’ playlist
POSTCARD POSTCARD FROM FROM THE THE FRONT FRONT LINE LINE HOSPITAL THOSE BANDS. THEY GO OFF ON TOUR, THEY NEVER RING. WE’RE WORRIED ABOUT THEM. TO PUT OUR MINDS AT REST, WE’RE INSISTING THEY CHECK IN AND KEEP US UPDATED. THIS MONTH...
MENACE BEACH CABBAGE COME UP WITH THE BEST TITLES FOR THINGS, DON’T THEY? SONGS, EPS, PLAYLISTS… HAWKWIND - ORGONE ACCUMULATOR Our biggest inspiration. Hawkwind combine a truly dedicated psychedelic lifestyle with unadulterated rock music. Something which is unappreciated in 95% of ‘’psychedelic’’ bands today. RICHARD HAWLEY - OPEN UP YOUR DOOR Quote a fine song unquote, by Asa Morley. BILL RYDER JONES - SATELLITES Bill is one of a kind and a massive inspiration to this band, now a close friend who we’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with. We couldn’t not include our favourite tune by him. TERRY REID - SEED OF MEMORY Devil’s Rejects credits, just in front of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ making this list. Enuff said. DIE ANTWOORD - I FINK U FREEKY The power couple supercharging South African culture. Best listened to at witching hour. It’s so revolting to listen to; it’s infectious. LINK WRAY - SWITCHBLADE Our leader of the six-strings. Long live the music of Link Wray. GOD - MEAT HEAD You get them button up to the top tossers who dedicate their life to ‘soul nuggets’. This is a noise rock nugget for the sonically depraved. CAPTAIN BEEFHEART - FURTHER THAN WE’VE GONE Suicide ‘drive off a cliff’ song. BELINDA CARLISLE - CIRCLE IN THE SAND My queen, the most rock’n’roll frontman in the history of music. This song is pure Carlisle. ELLA FITZGERALD AND LOUIS ARMSTRONG - DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME All contemporary music has a lot to owe to this generation. End of film credits type song, so the end of our playlist. P
Everything is okay, guys Lorde is back to save us all Lorde is finally back with brand new music! After a couple of years ‘off’, she’s returned with a brand new banger, ‘Green Light’, and news of a second album. Co-produced with pop-mastermind Jack Antonoff, her latest record is titled ‘Melodrama’ and is set to land later this year. There’s a video for ‘Green Light’ too - check it out on readdork.com now.
TAKE HEART IT’S BEEN FIVE LONG YEARS SINCE THE SHINS’ LAST ALBUM - AND IT’S GOOD TO HAVE THEM BACK. WITH A HEALTHY DOSE OF INTROSPECTION, ‘HEARTWORMS’ SEES FRONTMAN JAMES MERCER REFLECTING ON WHAT HE HOLDS DEAR.
WORDS: SAMMY MAINE.
‘m a little bit hungover today,” apologises James Mercer. It’s early morning, and he’s a bit groggy. “I went out and saw The Lemon Twigs and Savoy Motel last night, and it was a great show. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was an incredible show actually – I had a little too much fun, maybe.” Despite his sore head, The Shins frontman and founder sounds excited to be discussing the band’s new LP. Their first full-length in five years, ‘Heartworms’ also marks their fifth album. “It feels like a completion to me, in a weird way,” he says of the milestone. “In a strange way, it seems like a completion of a circle; I don’t mean anything permanent by that, it’s just the way it feels to me – it feels good. It was another long stretch of writing and recording, and it’s crazy to have completed it now.” The band first debuted songs from ‘Heartworms’ at last year’s End of the Road – ‘Dead or Alive’ and ‘Rubber Ballz’ – with the appearance also marking the first time The Shins had headlined a night at a festival. It was the first performance with the new lineup, and James says that jumping in at the deep end was probably the best way to introduce the LP. “I remember being super nervous because there had been a couple of lineup changes, so we were a new band really, y’know? And that was our very first show, so it was kind of crazy to have your first show be a big festival like that,” he explains. “But it worked out great, and we really got into it, and I think the crowd got into it too. I remember coming away and feeling pretty high on life.” Although ‘Heartworms’ has the typical, lovely tones of just about every album from The Shins, these new members have also injected a certain pizzazz. “Jon [Sortland], our new drummer, brings a sort of swing to his playing,” James explains. “So some of the older songs have a new life to them.” In
the past, he’s described The Shins as having a ‘palette’ – “there are chordal structures and movements that I enjoy” – but more notably, The Shins have always had a sort of confessional, nostalgic aspect that many seem to relate to. ‘Heartworms’ feels closer to the core than ever before, as James speaks of his fears – “Where are they now? The money and the crowd?” on ‘Fantasy Island’ – or the frightening reality of the world today – “Monuments for awful events, I float by in a daze on the freeway” on ‘Dead Alive’ – which he still ascribes to being nervous about The Shins’ output. “On ‘Fantasy Island’ I was honestly feeling like, ‘Is anyone going to like this shit? Is this it? Is it going to be any good?’ There are moments, of course, you have doubts,” he says. “I capitalised on that self-doubt and elaborated on it and created this character who’s some sort of performer – I guess I thought he was a stunt pilot or something. I’ve always had this romantic vision of a person who has to travel the world and can never really settle down because that’s how they’re making their living; it’s like people who work in show business as roadies. You see them ten years later, and you’re like, ‘Man, you’re still out here doing it, fuck.’” “And you’re alone in the hotel – just that loneliness of being out on the road and stuff I guess, I laid it all on one song.” Despite the sombre tone of its inspirations, James is eager to express how much he likes the song. “It is a sad song; he’s a sad guy. He’s at the end of his rope, he’s admitting that it’s over, and he’s longing for something that once was, but he knows that it’s not going to come back and he regrets; he’s filled with regret. He regrets being caught up in himself and his ego and not living in the moment with the people who mattered.” Although James often creates characters through his songwriting, there must be something of himself in each persona. Regarding ‘Fantasy Island’, he says the
character was a person that he’s avoided becoming – of which, he’s glad. “I can see how it’d be easy to make those mistakes. It’s a strange thing, going out; I can see why some of my friends seem to be addicted to playing shows and travelling… don’t really have a home, keep going, keep doing shows. For me, I do have a home, and I have a family, and I think it helps to ground me,” he explains. As well as grounding him, James’s family also inspired a track on ‘Heartworms’. ‘Name For You’ acts as a call for female empowerment and with three daughters, has it allowed him to see the world in a different way, through their eyes? “I think being a Dad and being a father of daughters makes you see women in a different way. My wife is a very intelligent person, and she is versed on these issues,” he says. “I don’t come from a family that talks about these kinds of things. My wife minored in Women’s Studies at Northwestern University in Chicago, and so she’s read the fucking material. She kind of revealed my own fear and anger that has been in me towards women because of feeling alienated by them, or wanting them and not being able to have them and so on; this thing that arises at some point during puberty. The difference between the sexes and how certain cultures can allow it to become unhealthy, it becomes part of the culture that these differences are enforced I guess. It concerns me. I guess what that song was was an attempt to say ‘Don’t let it get you down’, y’know?” This growth through fatherhood and well, life in general, has caused James to reflect on his songwriting. “I always feel like I’m improving; I don’t know if I’m biased in saying that. I don’t know if I can be very objective about it; it does feel to me that I’ve gotten better lyrically. I feel like I can say what I need to say more efficiently now, I think I allow myself to have the freedom to do that,” he says. Is this to do with his age – the societal pressures in never allowing young
men to talk about their emotions? “God, it might be,” he says. “It might just be something that you learn how to communicate, and you don’t feel ashamed for feeling things. When I was a younger person, I’d have thoughts or feelings and would somehow think that it was bad to think or feel that way,” he continues. “You’re just not confident and comfortable in your own skin, so there would be that aspect of it. I also think, though, it’s about learning technique; just in the doing of it, you get better at it.” With the “completion of a circle” on ‘Heartworms’ and 16 years since debut ‘Oh, Inverted World’, James says that may be the reason for the album’s nostalgic and retrospective tendencies. “I am older, and I’ve looped around and made friends with my old bandmates again - Neil Langford, who was in the very earlier stages of Flake and The Shins, I’m back in with him. There’s been a lot of nostalgic thoughts.” James’s continued work with The Shins has also allowed him to learn that artistic expression is just an elaborate way of doing what people want to do. “We have an instinct for language and communication, and we enjoy it – that process of expressing our thoughts and ideas and emotions – it’s just something innately enjoyable to most humans, it’s why we developed culture! I guess what I feel is that art has very serious meaning and it has serious importance in life, and I’m proud to be a part of that world. I’m very honoured that I’ve been received as well as I have for as long as I have. What I feel right now is gratitude.” P The Shins’ album ‘Heartworms’ is out now.
THIS THIS IS THIS IS THIS IS THISIS IS HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING
feel like I’m improving.”
C H V RC H ES A N D DAV E ST E WA RT A RE ‘ I N T H E ST U D I O’ TO G ET H E R Chvrches are known for stunning synth-pop. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame is also known for stunning synth-pop. So the two of them coming together would have us pretty bloody excited if we say so ourselves. And oh look. There’s a photo of Dave Stewart and Chvrchres, together in the studio, recording the trio’s third album. Guess it’s time to get excited, then.
H A I M , C H A RL I XCX , E M I N E M , S U N DA R A K A RM A A N D A LOA D M O RE A RE P L AY I N G RE A D I N G & L E E DS A new batch of bands, including the final headliner, have been added to the bill of this year’s Reading & Leeds festival. Eminem joins Kasabian and Muse as bill-toppers for 2017’s event. He’s one of 76 new additions for August’s line-up. Elsewhere Haim make good on last year’s drop out, alongside Charli XCX, Blossoms, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Sundara Karma, Moose Blood, Fickle Friends, INHEAVEN, Toothless, King Nun and loads more. There’s also room for Everything Everything, IDLES, Mallory Knox, Marmozets, Migos, Oh Wonder, Puppy, The Amazons, Ray Blk and You Me At Six, amongst others. Reading & Leeds takes place between 25th and 27th August at Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds.
Get by with a little help from my friends... H E L LO, T H E B I G
“I can’t wait
M O O N . YO U H E L P E D M A RI K A W I T H ‘ BOY F RI E N D’ . H OW D I D T H AT C O M E A BO U T ? Celia: She’s a good friend of ours. She came to one of our gigs at the Moth Club, we just went dancing afterwards, and we’ve been friends ever since. We were in the pub one night, and she was nervous. ‘What’s up?’ we asked, and she started mumbling and asked ‘I’ve written this song, would you want to play it with me?’ Obviously, we said yes. A thousand times yes. ‘Omg, I was so nervous even asking you. I thought you’d say no.’ Soph: I remember her skipping to the loo. I’ve been listening to her music before we met, before we even started this band. Celia: I remember someone saying that Marika Hackman’s coming tonight, to that gig, and me screaming. Jules: I remember meeting her afterwards when we’d gone dancing and introducing myself: ‘Hi, I’m Jules. What’s your name?’ thinking ‘I know you’re Marika Hackman’. And now we’re just pals. Celia: Cheeky Mariky. Sweet Marie. Your friend and mine.
A N D H OW WAS I T WO RK I N G W I T H HER? Celia: It was great. She’s so good. Soph: Her parts are so good and she was relaxed. She came into our practice room, and it happened really quickly. Jules: We recorded that before we recorded our album so it kinda felt like a practice run. She’s so good at staying calm and working with a producer and leaving it, you don’t have to be worried. You don’t have to be here all night. Do it until it’s done, and sometimes, if you’re not sure, you can go home and come back the next day and do something more productive, rather than just killing yourself over it.
MARIKA HACKMAN HAS TEAMED UP WITH ONE OF OUR FAVE BANDS FOR HER FAB NEW SINGLE ‘BOYFRIEND’.
WORDS: BEN JOLLEY.
tepping out of her “quite introspective world”, Marika Hackman is back with a much heavier, grungy sound. With backing band vocals from one of Dork’s favourite four-pieces – and her “great mates” - The Big Moon, her new tongue-in-cheek banger, ‘Boyfriend’, is far louder and ‘rock out’ than anything she’s put out to date. Poking fun at guys who see lesbian relationships as less than, or a joke, the Hampshire-born artist has made an empowering, feminist anthem. “I knew that I wanted to have a heavier, tour band, live sound,” Marika begins. “I was wondering whether I should get musicians in for a session band, but The Big Moon are great mates of mine – they’re a lot of fun, and they have the exact sound that I was aiming for.” After that eureka moment Marika went out for a drink with lead guitarist Sophie and tested the water. “I asked if it would be something they’d be up for – I was so scared that they might say ‘Ahh, no, fuck off’ and it’d ruin our friendship. But it turned out that they wanted to, so it was all a happy ending and very, very fun!” Marika first fell in love with The Big Moon when she saw them perform
everyone.” at an awards show more than a year ago. “I went with my girlfriend. We both watched them play, and we thought ‘Right, they look big – the music’s really fun, I want to hang out with them’.” Soon after their set, they found themselves having a “wild night” at The Dolphin in Hackney and exchanging numbers. Since then, they’ve stayed “glued to each other’s side; we go to lots of gigs together, have Sunday roasts and cosy afternoons at the pub. We’re not all raging party animals…” she reassures, laughing. “We just started to hang out; it was a proper friend crush situation.” ‘Boyfriend’ is a reinvention that’s a million miles away from the atmospheric, dark folk sounds of her 2015 debut album, ‘We Slept at Last’. And the subject matter is, too. “It’s about how, a lot of the time, lesbian relationships are considered to hold less value compared to heterosexual relationships. It seems that it’s often born out of male fantasy. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been with girls, and we’re kissing, and guys would come up and ask to join in or shout stuff. It’s about all of those situations that you’re put in, and also hearing guys saying things like ‘I wouldn’t care if my girlfriend cheated on me with another girl, but if it were a guy I’d go ballistic’ – why? Like, why are you undervaluing those relationships?”
Marika questions, reflecting on the serious-yet-humorous hit. “There’s a lot of humour in there,” she considers. “I want people to see the irony, the sarcasm and the tongue-in-cheek nature, and also feel quite empowered. Musically it’s a fun song – I was going for a Wheatus-esque vibe because that’s the shit I was listening to. It’s got quite a strong, dark message but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen to it and rock out a little bit and see the funny side…” As for the lyrical content, the words of ‘Boyfriend’ just popped into Marika’s head. “I hadn’t really thought about the message before I wrote it. It just started flowing out.” As well as a new album, out in June, Marika is preparing for her return to the live stage. “It’s been a really long time, and I can’t wait now because it’s a completely different live setup. It’s proper band-sounding, and it’s going to be how I’ve always kind of wanted to perform onstage – not just standing there in my own quite introspective world. “I can actually have a shared experience with everyone on the stage and in the audience, and just let go and have fun,” she says enthusiastically. With festival slots already lined up for The Great Escape in May and End of the Road later in the year, Marika is “itching to get back on the road. The rehearsals have been sounding really cool. I just can’t wait to smack everyone ‘round the head with this new sound.” P Marika Hackman’s album ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is out 2nd June.
The BEST new tracks
BANGERS BANGERS LORDE
Big stars make big moves. There’s no room for shy, retiring, downplayed statements in 2017’s musical bear pit. Ed Sheeran may be making huge statements about how this is going to be ‘his year’, but the ginger marauder has underestimated the wonder from down under. Roaring out of her left-field palace, Lorde is the enigma you don’t bet against. While her debut album was packed with perfectly-paced pop, her returning statement is firmly strapped to an industrial banger and aimed at the moon. Housey piano rolls explode into a thumping dwarf star of a chorus, its call and answer refrain drilling fast and deep. The influence of coproducer Jack Antonoff can be felt, but this is still Lorde to the core.
alt-J’s spectacular doesn’t work in the same way as that of other bands. While their peers may need to go off the cliff edge to build up that terminal velocity, they instead work away in the lab, cooking up plans to reach that critical breakthrough by other, less obvious methods. It’s clearly the same band who found their way to arenas by playing the least arena like music possible, but – now they’ve reached that level – there’s a new level of confidence in their methods. Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman trade verses, but it’s the late-on inclusion of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell that really lifts ‘3WW’ to a new level. Bringing a depth of hidden meaning and intent to a handful of lines, it takes a pleasant suggestion and turns it into a special promise.
FIND MORE ON OUR CONSTANTLY UPDATED BRAND NEW BANGERS SPOTIFY PLAYLIST AT READDORK.COM
THERE’S A HONEY
You won’t need anyone to tell you that Matty and George from The 1975 offered a hand to the recording of ‘There’s A Honey’, Pale Waves’ first offering for Dirty Hit. The duo’s shiny magpie-like eyes have caught the glint of their new label mates and polished it up into something not only dazzling, but truly remarkable. Because, really, bands don’t get to deliver songs like ‘There’s A Honey’ out of nowhere. From the trademark opening shimmer and the neon glow of its opening bars, through to the effortlessly cool shuffle of the verse and the dry-ice clap of the chorus, Pale Waves sound flawless. The sound of a label setting down a legacy, the engine is starting to purr on the hit factory of 2017s most glorious, carefree scene.
BIG BEAUTIFUL DAY ‘Big Beautiful Day’ - an anthemic attack on the oppressive confines of masculinity, and an attempt to reshape that which for years has dictated the behaviours of people the world over - is unifying. This isn’t a song that denigrates those who ‘do not understand’, nor drowns in its own self-righteousness, but is one that encourages growth. “There are boys who have never had the choice but to grow up and be scared to be your friend/ Jesus Christ let’s help them,” sing Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins. Indeed, what this track highlights is not a distaste for individuals who perpetuate a learned masculinity, but for the society that continues to teach, support, and reward them.
HYPE ESSENTIAL NEW BANDS
t’s a Friday morning, and Heather Baron-Grace is getting to grips with a brand new role. It’s been a matter of weeks since Pale Waves’ definitive opening statement to the world ‘There’s A Honey’ unveiled itself, and things haven’t been the same since. An immediate and indisputable heavyweight of a track, it not so much grabbed attention as it made everyone stop what they’re doing and dive in - and that sort of moment doesn’t happen often. Now, in North London, Heather finds herself coming to terms with it all - in the midst of staying in a one bedroom hotel room with the rest of the band, trying to get some sort of sleep with a noisy neighbour next door and recording sessions in full swing. It’s all happening would be the ideal way to phrase things - but that’s just what Pale Waves have been waiting for.
“I was just stunned,” explains Heather, looking back over a coffee in the chilled gardens of a local shop. “I wasn’t prepared for it and didn’t know how people were going to react. I was quite on edge, but at the same time, it was so good to be in that position because people had been waiting so long for it. I felt like, frustrated in this square box because nobody was hearing the new Pale Waves, well - the actual Pale Waves, so I was excited but nervous.” Bristling with infectious energy and dazzling in its wide-eyed ambition and dreaming, ‘There’s A Honey’ is a jolt from the blue that immediately has tongues wagging. Effortless in its charm, unquestionable in its urgency and stunning in its wide palette of colours and views - it’s the sort of track that bands would wait years
to release, with most never getting close to touching it. For Pale Waves, it’s a bonafide sign that they’re about to become an extremely important band - and for Heather, it’s something that would have seemed a world away when she first picked up a guitar. “I started playing guitar when I was like ten years old because my Dad played and he was like, ‘Come on, play guitar with me,’” recollects Heather. “He didn’t have anyone else to play with because nobody else in our family is musical. It was just him and me, and thank God I did because I’m not good at anything else!”
What started as a family singalong developed into an all-encompassing passion, taking up any spare hour in the day with practising and writing songs. It allowed Heather to create and inhabit a world that had music at every turn, one lead by heroes such as The Cure - with Robert Smith’s presence and songwriting proving hugely influential when looking out from a childhood in Preston.
WITH A 1975-PRODUCE D CO NTE ND E R FO R BAN G E R OF TH E YE AR, PALE WAVES COU LD BE TH E MOST E XCITIN G ACT O F 2017. WORDS: JA M IE M U IR.
that Heather met Ciara Doran - in turn sparking off a friendship that finally brought together a passion she’d been looking for all this time. It’s at that moment that Pale Waves was born. Jumping between laptops and guitars in their rooms, taking snippets here and there and moulding them into storming pop anthems, Pale Waves aren’t so much a band as they are a force - a stream of sky-high moments that make them not just great, but vital. Sounding like a message from the future yet possessing everything that makes them instantly classic, it’s feeling that came to the fore when
“WE “WE WANT WANT A A NUMBER NUMBER ONE ONE ALBUM.” ALBUM.”
“I played music a lot on my own until I got in the band because the friendship group that I was in wasn’t very musical,” notes Heather. “When I went to college, whenever I would have some time I would just go down to the music basement and sit there on a piano. Thinking back I was such a loner, but that was what I enjoyed; I wanted to do my own thing.”
they stepped out as a band and onto the live stage. From small nights at The Castle, playing to five people and a half-empty room, to selling out The Deaf Institute - it’s an indicator as to how feverish things are about to become.
Going off and doing her own thing led squarely to the bright lights of Manchester, a city that’s renowned history reads like a manual of creatives all painting their own version of the city on its streets, in its bedrooms and in everything it touches. It’s while at University there
Everything they are and everything they represent soon picked up attention (without the need for a Pale Waves-styled attack on the front row), with acclaimed label Dirty Hit (y’know - the home of The 1975, Wolf Alice and The Japanese House among others) making their feelings well
and truly clear. The world needs to hear Pale Waves, and they need to hear them now. Sitting around tables and discussing their future seems a world away from those bedrooms where it all began for Heather and Ciara. “We keep talking about it actually,” notes Heather. “Like we’re having meetings now with eight adults sat around the table, and me and Ciara are there thinking, ‘God, this is all about us, and they’re taking us seriously.’ We’ve wanted people to take us seriously for so long, and people usually don’t do that, especially when they ask what you do, and you say you’re in a band! It’s pretty amazing; we have people really taking care of us and doing the things that we don’t have to do anymore.” That Dirty Hit world has led to a relationship that many can hear blossoming through their speakers when ‘There’s A Honey’ is in full swing. It’s one that finds touches of The 1975 sprinkled on the Pale Waves cake - adding another layer of sweetness to the mix that has us going back again and again for more. That dedication to creating something refreshing meant that when the opportunity came to work with Matty and George from the band - it was an open process that could have gone either way (if that was ever in doubt). “We recorded everything in a studio with an engineer, and they were played ‘There’s A Honey’ and some other tracks, and they were like, ‘This is really fucking great!’,” remembers Heather. “They asked if they could do something on it, and were very much like, if you hate it you hate it, if you love it you love it. They did that
KEEP YOUR EYES ON...
SPI N N
and some other tracks, and it was clear that it was really working, so we’re just going to carry it on! “They’re genuine and honest guys who just want to make amazing records, and they get our sound. Some producers want to change us and don’t listen to the band but with Matty and George they listen, they get it and are just chilled.” It’s a seal of approval that only sits as another tick to a checklist that Pale Waves have picked up and devoured in one go. Creating their own landscape of scorching hot pop weavers all with a seething undertone of making the darkest corridors fly like a dazzling cloud of daydreaming royalty - Pale Waves are sitting on the cusp of something special. For a band to be all of that, with just one track out, is a signpost for something we’ll be talking about for years to come. As Heather finishes up her coffee and prepares to head back to the studio, there’s a glint in her eye that already sees what Pale Waves could mean. “It’s really special, and I don’t know how to describe it really,” she confesses, looking at the journey that’s lead up to this point and where Pale Waves now stand. “It feels like there’s more pressure with it now, and you start to wonder whether people will like the new stuff - but if they like ‘There’s A Honey’ then they’ll like what’s coming. “We want a Number One album for sure and we want to be an amazing band, y’know? We want people to watch us and feel it and think, ‘These guys are really good’.” There’s going to be plenty of that going about, Pale Waves are about to cause a tidal storm - and we’re all invited along for the ride. P
Emerging with bleary eyes from a winter of hibernation, we’re all after something to lift our spirits. Something that’s going to make us soar. And, as if on cue, SPINN are answering our prayers. Visit readdork.com to hear latest single, ‘Home’. Infamous Leeds record label Dance To The Radio is about to drop a new
Hey Sigrid, how are you today and what are we interrupting? Hey! You’re not interrupting at all! I’m in NY promoting my debut single ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ at the moment. Exciting times. What first got you interested in being a musician? Did you have a musical upbringing? Well, I grew up surrounded by music. I remember a lot of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young on the speakers in our house. So I can thank my family for making me interested in music! How did you end up signing with Island Records? I started doing writing session the spring of 2016 in London after I signed with Made Management, and soon the labels showed interest. A couple of months later I signed with Island UK and soon after Island US! I could not have asked for a better team. They’re great. How do you go about writing a hit like your debut, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’? Is it an easy process for you? Hmmm, it depends. The ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ session was really fun! I wrote it with Martin Sjølie in Oslo, and it was just a really nice experience.
release as part of their recently returned 4x12” vinyl compilation series - featuring noisy local gem, Dead Naked Hippies. You can also catch the band playing Live At Leeds. Taking us far away from the blustery chills and damp pavements, Off Bloom are bringing a new level of flair with the video for latest scorcher ‘Falcon Eye’ - check it out on readdork.com. They support Dua Lipa at two shows this April, and also play Live At Leeds and The Great Escape.
What are your favourite places to draw inspiration from? If my head is a place, I’ll say that. Everything I write (except one song per today) is personal. I just find it easier to write it, if I have felt it myself. What do you do for fun? Google “cats” plus “meme”. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done, and would you do it again? I wish I had a crazy answer for this one. This is so embarrassing; I can’t come up with a single crazy thing I’ve done. Well, a crazy thing I wanna tell you, haha.
ON ON THE THE GRAPEVINE GRAPEVINE
CLEAN CUT KID’S DEBUT A L BU M I S C O M I N G
Finally we’re getting a long overdue debut album from Liverpudlians Clean Cut Kid. ‘Felt’ is due out on 28th April, and the band are heading out on the road in support of ‘Felt’. Touring throughout April and May, G I RL I I S N OT T H AT G I RL
When GIRLI announced a duo of headline shows earlier in the year, she mentioned some “new choons” – and now she’s delivered with new number ‘Not That Girl’, streaming online now.
What’s on your bucket list this year? Do you have big plans? To stay best friends with my band after touring! They’re the best, and I miss them all the time. Anything else we should know? Wool socks. Life hack. Treat yoself. So comfy. P
Are you creative in other ways aside from music, too? Haha! I’m terrible at drawing. I danced for ten years-ish (ballet, modern, jazz and hip-hop), and theatre for five years. I miss it! Maybe this is a sign.
WITH HER 10/10 BANGER OF A DEBUT SINGLE, SIGRID IS THE LATEST UP-AND-COMING POP STAR TO COME OUT OF NORWAY.
n the ‘about’ section of Bellevue Days’ Facebook page, the band list their interests as follows: “Beer. Girls. Knitting.” Those first two are hardly surprising, but knitting? Come on, lads, that’s not very rock’n’roll. “Beer, girls and knitting are our three favourite things,” confesses frontman Alan Smith. “Knitting is up there because Dan does it on tour,” bassist Joe Blackford adds, “or it’s something like knitting, anyway!” Explaining his hobby, guitarist Dan Lukes says: “It was driving me insane just sitting in a van all day with these amazing people, so I decided to take up crochet, which is pretty much knitting. I just sat in the van making this scarf, and at gigs I’d put it on the mic stand to show everyone the progress, but I don’t think anyone noticed… it’ll turn into a blanket one day!” If Bellevue Days’ 2017 goes as planned, Dan will have a lot more time on the road to work on his scarf-come-blanket. The selfproclaimed “sludge-pop” four-piece have plans to release new material before the summer, and they’re hoping that their new songs – the follow-up to last year’s ‘Sad Boy’ EP - will give them enough momentum to justify plenty of time on tour. “We’ve got some definite ideas for a few single releases,” Alan explains, “so I think the first half of the year
we’ll be releasing two or three singles, and then the body of work we’ll release mid-year. Whether that’s an EP or album, we’re still unsure. We’ve got some festivals lined-up, and touring-wise, we’re going to try to organise a DIY tour on our own, once we release the singles.” Bellevue Days have been riding the crest of a wave for the past twelve months, and when asked why they think their music is connecting with people, the band reckon it’s their hard to pin-down sound that helps. “There are a lot of indie bands out there right now,” Dan claims, “and maybe we’re a bit different; a bit rockier, and filling a different niche.” Dan is right to point out his band’s gruffer take on indie-rock, as Bellevue Days’ tunes share as much, if not more, with Nirvana as they do with The Strokes. And when quizzed on the band’s influences, it becomes apparent why their interpretation of indie-rock is slightly rough around the edges. “When we started the band, I just wanted us to sound like The Xcerts,” Alan explains. Dan, meanwhile, cites Brand New as a huge influence, though he does have a slight confession about Bellevue Days’ song-writing: “There’s this one song we always rip-off, ‘Where Is My Mind?’ by The Pixies, which just always finds its way into everything somehow!” While Dan might claim their songs aren’t 100% original, there’s certainly something fresh about the tunes on ‘Sad Boy’. Unsurprisingly, given the EP’s name, there’s a hefty amount of
emo on show, but it’s laced with pop hooks and lashings of indie coolness which make Bellevue Days stick-out from the UK’s burgeoning DIY scene. “We just make music we like, and if other people like it, that’s a bonus,” Alan explains. “I think we’re naturally quite depressed people, and we draw from experiences when we’re writing songs. It’s just a lot of those experiences are quite sad!” It’s clear that the experience of making ‘Sad Boy’ has had a huge impact on how Bellevue Days have approached writing their new material. Despite the praise lavished upon their last EP, Dan is keen to see the band make further strides. “I think we can do better,” the guitarist rather honestly admits, “I just want our first album to be the best thing we’ve done, and I never want to release anything for the sake of it.” There’s clearly a real care and attention to detail in the way Bellevue Days approach everything about their band, and some of this stems from their DIY perspective. “People keep saying we don’t need a label,” Dan says. “Our manager is really involved, so it’s hard to see what a label can bring to the table. Look at the Grammys: Chance The Rapper just won Best New Artist, and he refuses to partner with a label.” Still, given the band’s growing profile, it’s not surprising that interested parties have come calling. “We’ve had interest from indie labels”, Joe explains, “and we had a big major label email us once, but I think with them approaching us
THE SLUDGE-POP FOUR-PIECE TAKE A BREAK FROM KNITTING SCARVES TO TELL US HOW THEY’RE READY TO TAKE 2017 BY STORM. WORDS: JAKE RICHARDSON
it was just a case of ‘We better email them in case they get signed, or we’ll be in trouble with our bosses’. It got us excited at the time, though!” As 2017 rolls on and Bellevue Days release more new music, it’s likely their stock will rise even higher. The band are already confirmed to play 2000trees in the summer – “It was sick last year, and this year we’re playing on a bigger stage,” states Joe – as well as several other festival slots which are yet to be announced. This hectic schedule, plus the release of new music must have the band excited, but what are they most looking forward to about the year ahead? For Joe, it’s the aforementioned festivals and the hope that their new releases do better than previous attempts. “It feels like we’ve always been progressing slowly; I don’t want this next release to come out and then things get stagnant,” he says, “I don’t want to stay at the same level; I always want to go up.” With tunes as good as they’ve got and a burning ambition driving them, you wouldn’t bet against this being the year that Bellevue Days well and truly deliver on the hype. As for Dan’s desires for the months ahead, he just wants to be back in the van for as long as possible: “I just want to be one of those bands that’s always gigging,” the guitarist gushes, “I just want to be constantly on the road… and make a lot of scarves!”. P
ON ON THE THE GRAPEVINE GRAPEVINE
B RI N G O N T H E WA L L
New-Yorkers WALL have announced their debut album ‘Untitled’ after the release of their self titled EP in the middle of last year. To celebrate the announcement they have released lead single ‘High Ratings’ which is streaming online now. ‘Untitled’ has a release date of 29th April via Wharf Cat.
L A N Y DAYS
We’ve been yabbering on about LANY for a while now, with the LA trio confirming that their self-titled debut album is coming this summer. Landing on 30th June, ‘LANY’ is set to pack in all the modernpop vibes you need – as shown with the inclusion of breakthrough track ‘ILYSB’ and new groover ‘Good Girls’. S H A M E A RE O F F O N T H E ROA D
If there’s a live show you want to see this year, then it’s Shame’s – and now there’s even more chances to achieve that dream. Kicking off on 25th April in Liverpool, they play a fearsome run of shows, finishing with their biggest to date at The Dome in London.
SW E ET D RE A M S , I T ’S W I L L J OS E P H C O O K
Will Joseph Cook’s has announced his debut album ‘Sweet Dreamer’ is set for release on 14th April. As if that’s not enough, our Will is going to bring the sounds and vibes of the summer to a huge headline tour to celebrate the release. Bangers ahoy!
YOU’D BE SU RPRISE D H OW M A NY
BAN DS CAN TR ACE TH E IR RO OTS TO LOVIN G LIMP BIZ KIT...
Leeds-based five-piece KOYO - Huw Edwards (lead vocals, guitar), Jacob Price (sampling, synthesisers), Seb Knee-Wright (guitars), Dan Comlay (bass) and Tom Higham (drums) recently premiered their new single ‘Tetrachromat’ with Dork. It’s the kind of psychedelica-tinged track it’s hard not to take a shine to, and it’s the first cut from a debut due later this year. Hey Huw, what first made you want to start making music? When I was a kid, my Dad and I used to watch the music channels together. This was when the ‘Chocolate Starfish’s and the ‘Hybrid Theory’s of this world were taking over the airwaves. I was about nine, and Limp Bizkit’s video for ‘Rollin’’ came on, and I went nuts. That’s the truth. Now I’m older I can see why their music is perfect for nine-yearolds! But that’s where my obsession with wanting to be in a band and making music started. I have always known exactly what I wanted to do. Has being a musician lived up to the hype so far? Well if you’re referring to musician musicians who call it their job and stuff I wouldn’t say I’ve quite made it that far yet! But in truth, I think anyone who has an impulse to create or play music can call themselves a musician, regardless of whether they’re a pro or not, or whether they’re deemed any good. If it’s something you just do, then you’re a musician. And with that in mind, I suppose it must be living up to the hype, every day! How are you finding Leeds at the moment? It’s a great place to be in a band, right? It’s cool. There are shit tons of
musicians. I first came here to study music. In the first year everyone had their own little area of expertise, but by the end, we all came away with a little piece from everyone’s. Since then I worked at Belgrave Music Hall for over two years; that really helped open my eyes - there are just so many bands here! Dork recently premiered your debut single ‘Tetrachromat’ - for the uninitiated, what’s it about? Sonically and lyrically ‘Tetrachromat’ represents a day in the life and everything that comes in between. It explores personal triumphs and defeats within your state of mind that you can go through in just one day; how one day you can wake up with a will to change or conquer something in your life, but by the end of the day you’re slipping back into your own familiar insecurities. It has that lulling sound, existing somewhere between dreams and reality. Maybe that battle you’re going through is a conflict of dreams and reality. When you hear the full version, with part II, hopefully you’ll be able to gain more perspective on the idea. We heard a rumour you’re working on your debut album, how’s it coming? Yeah, great. It’s done. We recorded it at Foel Studios in Wales. It was awesome. It’s this seriously cool residential studio literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by picturesque, rolling hills. Kinda like the Shire! We went back and forth around six times throughout 2015/2016, and we’ve come to know the guys down there really well. It has this great prog history. Dave, the owner, used to play bass
for Hawkwind before Lemmy, he bought the studio back in the 70s. Since then he’s welcomed not just Hawkwind but Ozric Tentacles, My Bloody Valentine, Electric Wizard, Napalm Death, Porcupine Tree... it’s a crazy place. Him and Tom, the engineer, are both spot on. People in the area think they’re wizards! I think music is very much a product of its environment and our album was very much inspired by the place. How would you describe the album’s vibe? It takes you on a journey. Each song takes you in a different direction, but they’re all heading towards the same destination. Vibe-wise it’s definitely progressive and experimental. To be honest, though, the biggest influences on the album weren’t necessarily ‘prog’ bands. I think it just ended up that way because there are such a wide range of influences affecting our music, and we’re not afraid to take risks in our songs. Naturally, it’s ended up sounding progressive. But it’s a proggyness that isn’t geeky and indulgent, but a prog that’s just... progressive. Music that takes you from one place to another. Album aside, what’s the most exciting thing you have planned for over the summer? One thing I can confirm is we’re playing the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch on 4th May - that’s set to be a big one. Aside from that, we’re looking at festivals, hopefully some international gigs and another big London show at the end of the summer. P KOYO’s single ‘Tetrachromat’ is out 31st March.
THATâ€™S YOUR LOT
YOU COULDNâ€™T ACCUSE BLAENAVON OF RUSHING THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, BUT GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT. WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG. PHOTOS: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
bit like the mining town from which they took their name, Hampshire trio Blaenavon (that’s singer and guitarist Ben Gregory, bassist Frank Wright and drummer Harris McMillan) have an unassuming reputation. Beneath their carefree exterior, though, lies a story of evocative beauty just like the wonders of South Wales’ industrial heartland. Just without the dragons. Blaenavon’s tale is one that goes back to school classrooms, cafeterias and the family living room which still plays a central role in the band’s songwriting. “I’ve got a spot in my home, on my little red sofa with a nylon string guitar. That’s where I write tunes,” says Ben. Family ties are held dear. A recent show in Cologne was attended by a whole bunch of relatives, including Ben’s 80-year-old great grandmother. Despite their skyrocketing success, Blaenavon are in no danger of losing touch with their roots. Perhaps those close bonds were forged by the band’s beginnings. Formed in 2012, their early days were shaped by the attitude that fires all teenage bands: living for the moment and making music purely for the sheer joy of it. As they approach the release of their long-awaited debut album, ‘That’s Your Lot’, Blaenavon have cast aside the worries of tired industry politics and embraced the youthful idealism of their teenage years, delivering a super smart, effortlessly classy and deeply ambitious debut. “It’s gone full circle,” explains Ben. “When you first start making music at 15, you’re not worried if anybody’s going to hear it or what they’re going to say. When you start to get to a position of minimum power you’re like, ‘Crap, what’s everyone going to think about this?’ You realise after a while that all you can do is make the sort of music you want to make, and people will say about it what they want to say - and that’s fine as long as the music you make is fucking sick and important to you. I feel like we’re back to that stage now and our album reflects that; it’s very honest and sincere, and we’re all so happy with it.” Blaenavon’s coming of age is the product of years of well-received singles, false starts, creative breakthroughs and gradually finding their feet. Back at school, the band was an outlet for the flowing creative ideas of three
young, talented musicians. It never quite felt like they were a ‘proper’ band. Not yet, anyway - not until they made their defining statement. “We were all pretty busy,” says Ben. “We had a lot going on at school and college. Music was like the sweet relief when we had time off after school, where we could forget about all the bullshit that is growing up in a shit little town. We were trying to be creative with our friends and get something artistic done.” In truth, there could have been a Blaenavon album of sorts at any point in the last five years. It’s not like the songs weren’t there. A casual listen to the bright exuberance of first single ‘Denim Patches’ still excites, but they wanted more than just putting out a record because that’s what bands do. It had to feel real. “We’re proud of the releases we’ve had over the years, and we could have put a record out two or three years ago and capitalised on a little bit of buzz, but it would’ve been substandard. We wanted to take a long time over it and hopefully make something that will last in people’s memories. We want people to listen to it in years to come and think it still feels fresh.” Those long years honing their craft have proved crucial in forging the close relationship between the band members and inspiring their vaulting ambition. “We’ve gradually learned to accept everybody’s insecurities and appreciate everyone’s different skills so that we can get the most out of all three of us,” explains Ben. “When you’ve only got three people live or in the studio, you need to get the most out of everybody, or you’ll feel empty.” The last couple of years have seen a drastic acceleration in Blaenavon’s development. Signing with Transgressive Records and hooking up with celebrated producer Jim Abbiss - a man who knows a thing or two about producing outstanding British debut albums after helming Arctic Monkeys’ breakthrough - has been the catalyst to finally feeling like the band they want to be. “We recorded music in the Easter holidays and played the occasional London show, so it never felt like a career. It was just a strange, different world that we’d enter accidentally when we weren’t studying,” says Ben. “It was only since we started recording with Jim and being on tour so much that it’s felt like a real job and something we want to keep on doing in the future. The last year has been massively significant for us, and that’s when it’s felt proper I think.” The realisation that they’re
in this for the long haul helped to spark new belief in the band: they know they’re onto something special. “We know exactly what we’re doing, and we’re quite well versed in this whole band business these days.” Years of playing the long game despite being perennially tipped in those January tips lists gave Blaenavon a good perspective on the dangers of doing too much too soon. “It’s strange seeing some bands before we’ve even started, get big and fail already. It’s fucking scary. That’s why we didn’t want to rush into the buzz. We wanted to take our time and not be a flashin-the-pan. The bands who have got something decent to say have survived and are doing well; I think we’ve got more to say, so I don’t worry about it. We’ll stick around for a while.” laenavon are a band fond of a curveball. ‘That’s Your Lot’ is an album that reels you in and lulls you into a false sense of security. Side 1 is packed full of bangers and the sort of literate, smart indie pop that makes them a cut above their peers. Singles - like the positively buoyant in-the-face-of-despair ‘Let’s Pray’ and the doleful, sensual groove of ‘Orthodox Man’ - provide the sweet bait before the second half veers off into all sorts of compelling tangents. It takes a whole lot of ambition to put three six-minuteplus songs on your debut record, but ambition is something Blaenavon have pouring out of every orifice. “People are a afraid of the consequences of doing that. They just want to play it safe and do the catchier songs for the radio,” begins Ben. “That’s important, but if there’s nothing more to your band, then it’s not worth doing. We’ve got some amazing musicians in our band, and we needed to show off what we could do as a three-piece.” It’s a theme that Ben and the band regularly come back to; the desire to prove themselves and reach their fullest potential. “It’s difficult in times when people can’t pay attention to something for more than 20 seconds unless it’s bright and colourful and in your face,” he ponders. “We’ve got all the sides to it, though. We’ve got the stuff that will hopefully get people excited about the band, like the singles, and once they’re excited hopefully, they’ll be willing to be attentive and give the tracks that require attention a lot of time. If you listen to ‘Ode To Joe’ and ‘Swans’ you get much more of an immersive experience than just with the catchier tracks.”
The immersive experience that he describes also takes in the lyrics. Blaenavon’s flights of fancy give the album a spark and flair that colours every one of its twelve songs. “I was very happy to get the word ‘pipsqueak’ into a song,” laughs Ben as he describes one of the witty lines speckled throughout the album. As befits a record that they’ve spent years building up to there’s a distinct theme running through ‘That’s Your Lot’. “I wouldn’t say it’s a concept record, but it is a massive journey,” explains Ben. “You start with a lot of positivity on a song like ‘Take Care’ which is about being massively enamoured with someone you think is utterly brilliant. It moves through some more positive moments feeling like having a lot of faith in mankind then gradually becomes bigger, darker and deeper. The mood changes. Duality is such an important theme on the record, so it’s good to have light and dark. It works well and builds you up slowly for some gargantuan moments and brings you back down with some painful relief.” The diversity in mood and tone and change in dynamics allowed the band to be more expansive musically as well. It fits Blaenavon’s endearing idiosyncrasy that Ben enthusiastically compliments Frank on playing “a badass bass scale” on ‘Ode To Joe’’s noise rock wig out. There’s a dexterity and power to their sound that dwarves their rudimentary beginnings back in Frank’s sister’s bedroom. “As a threepiece, the guys I work with are such amazing musicians,” says Ben. “When it’s the three of us it’s amazing seeing everyone’s attributes across the whole thing. It’s important to reflect all our skills across the songs; that’s why we didn’t want to be just a normal indie band. We wanted to show all the different sides to us and all our amazing abilities.” While the music on ‘That’s Your Lot’ displays depth and vitality the songs themselves are rich in imagery and a storytelling quality that place Blaenavon in the lineage of great British songwriters. At times these tales of desire, longing, and life’s cruel twists of fate are reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey. Ambiguity plays a big part in the record as best exemplified by the album title. “The reason I like the title ‘That’s Your Lot’ is that it has so many different meanings,” says Ben. “It’s about finality and acceptance of the end of something. There’s a lot of duality and divisiveness on the record because I’m a very painful hopeless romantic who can’t make his mind up and ruins everything very quickly. There’s a lot of being indecisive across the record. It’s
difficult to write an album when you’re twenty and not have young romance involved. It’s been a long process for us and quite a difficult process, so there’s lots of self-doubt on the record.”
admires. “Being massively delicate and honest and revealing everything and being able to express yourself in such a bold way, that’s a skill that I wanted to echo from those types of people.”
With everything Blaenavon do, there’s always room for humour, no matter how twisted their emotional knots become. “It’s just taking the piss out of yourself as well. I wanted some bits to be really funny. I wanted to be deliberately pathetic,” laughs Ben.
Irony and subversion aren’t far away on the front-loaded run of bangers that introduces the album. It’s hard not to take a perverse pleasure in ‘Let’s Pray’’s chanted chorus of “Let’s pray for death”. “That’s supposed to be ironic,” explains Ben. “The point of that song is that I went through a good purple patch, and I wrote like eight tracks for the record, but then I went through a difficult period where I couldn’t write any music for ages. ‘Let’s pray for death’ was me saying ‘I’m fucking sick of this, I want some music to come. If I can’t write music anymore then what’s the point of me being here?’ Ironically that ended up being one of the best songs I’ve ever written. I thought it was funny to be subversive about someone struggling to write music. That’s something you don’t really write about, being so self-reflective. It’s quite funny.”
Being “deliberately pathetic” is something writers like Jarvis excel at, and it’s a quality that Ben
AN AWESOME WAVE One of the best things about the latest wave of indie heroes is the sense of collective ambition and community. From big hitters like The 1975 and Wolf Alice to new stars like The Big Moon and Pumarosa, excitement is everywhere. Blaenavon are a band right at the heart of this fever, setting hearts alight across the country with former Dork cover stars, Sundara Karma. “I think people just got bored of stagnant music and wanted to listen to fresh shit coming through like us and Sundara Karma touring together,” says Ben. “We’re all friends and it’s amazing, people are losing their shit to it and believing in this fresh stuff, so that’s amazing. I can’t really say why it’s happening, but it’s beautiful.” Another shining light to have caught the eye of Blaenavon is Declan McKenna. “Declan is smashing it at the minute,” raves Ben. “He’s a fucking smart guy. He’s sick. I love his songs; he has really smart views. He’s got a lot of important stuff to say, and it’s good that people are picking up on that rather than just tunes. We’re a bit more introverted, but he makes a larger point across his songs that people can latch onto.” Even more exciting was a one-off festive hook-up between Blaenavon and Dec late last year. If you missed it, ignore the fact it’s now March and enjoy. “Declan is also a legend. We DJ’d his birthday party in Hull last year when he turned 18, and we duetted on ‘Fairytale of New York’. I was Kirsty [MacColl], and it was pretty amazing. If you scroll down our Instagram, it’s there. It was mid-December, and there’s a very drunken video of it happening.”
‘That’s Your Lot’ represents the end of something in a more fundamental way: Blaenavon’s first phase. The end of those innocent school days. They’ve given everything and poured all their creative powers into one grand statement. “It’s like five years across one record,” says Ben. “It’s the end of a big period for us, and it’s us getting it all out, all the stuff that we’d been holding in and waiting to show to the world.” Some of the songs on the album go back to their earliest days. “‘Swans’ was one of the very first Blaenavon songs. It was written five years ago when we were 15. We knew that song was an important moment for us.” Another older song is album centrepiece ‘Prague ‘99’. “That’s from back in the day. It wasn’t going to be on the record, but we do like 60 shows and end on that song every night. People lose their shit and believe in it. It means a lot to so many people.” Typical of a band who are never quite what you think they are, Prague itself doesn’t hold any particular resonance for the band. “I wish I had a bullshit answer to sound cultured, but really that song had a name that we weren’t allowed to say on the radio,” laughs Ben. “It was a day before it had to come out and I was with my friend who had a hat on that just said Prague 99 and I thought, okay, we’ll just call it that. It’s a bit of a dedication to a good friend of mine.” Perhaps the most powerful reaction to their treasured set closer came at last year’s headline show at London’s Scala, a gig they pinpoint
along with playing Glastonbury for the first time as a key moment in their history. “When we played Scala we hadn’t done a headline show for quite a while. Before we could walk on stage, Harris starts playing the drums. The crowd was kicking each other in the shins; there were people and limbs everywhere. More limbs than I’ve ever seen in the air,” says Ben, with an infectious excitement in his voice. “That was the first time we felt that we were connecting with a shit-ton of people, and it felt amazing. Everyone was singing back songs we hadn’t even released yet. It was a real moment for us.” From old to new, school to the Scala, Blaenavon have been making waves for a long time - now they’re ready to take that next step. The future offers endless possibilities. “I think it’s a reset,” says Ben confidently. “Literally ‘That’s Your Lot’, five years are done, and that’s all you’re getting, and we’re going to spend a shit-ton of time making sure as many people as possible get to hear it. We’ll come back and do something completely different then. We’re never going to make this record again. That’s our first album. It’s done, and we just want to get back in the studio and get our minds ticking together, and probably do something pretty bizarre. It’s only going to get bigger and bolder from here.”P Blaenavon’s album ‘That’s Your Lot’ is out 7th April.
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BUT M U DOESN HAVE
TO BE .”
he Big Mo anti-bo on are ring. Th ey say “excitin g” surprisin a lot. It’s not g more th then that an simp le fun, the b album ‘L and’s debut o 4th Dim ve In The ension’, th e e xpected resists surroun at de it refus d by Hawaiian every turn. Re es co shirts a nd infla rded someth to take itself too in ta interes g boring when seriously. “W bles, ting, we hy do you can ir d or sil “Weird ly,” reas do something is on definite good,” agrees Jules Ja s Celia Archer. ly wante cks d it to s ound w on. “We eird.” When th e all prett band first rec o y rd adding new to each o ed ‘Sucker’, th ey th so the spo me backgroun er. When it ca were me to ta d can cha nd unsure, sh yells, Soph, pu outed “I t on nge in a ’m openin g track few years thou too shy.” A lot to g h. Now, shy any their de on m b ease an ore.” None of th ut, she yells, “I the ’m not d a free e b a nd are. dom to felt in e There the ve definite ry nook of ‘4th ir gang that c ’s an an ly D heard u stuff on there imension’. “Th be ere’s s do be that pe fo ople wo Jules. T re, whic n’t he h a big b y spent twenty is exciting,” pro have ox for ‘B m mises in utes jum onfire’. T tapping ping on he thighs, wolf ho re are tummy with a wls, a tr pil slaps, ian someon low, megapho nes and gle played e shouts at can find “give it to me!” one point th “S a blown at,” they grin. ‘Bonfire ee if you raspberr ’ als suppos y/vocal ed warm u o features p that w singing to be a drum roll, bu along. “T t Jules ju as she offe here’s a st start rs. “I sin lot of s ed inging g to mo well, if alo st yo “But it’s u listen carefu of the guitar s ng,” olos as lly a you carr good thing w .” he y good so on singing the n the lyrics sto ng!” ad ds Celia guitar line. Th p but from ‘S at’s , be eve apart,” c n Nation Arm fore singing th a y’ ontinue at bit s Jules. . “There’s lots up in o to p “Yo ne get into go and enjoy u can just eat ick it it th little th e headphone but if you wan all ings yo t to z o n e , th uc e The rec ord cap an find and g re are lots of et tu interes ting, we res The Big M excited by.” oon pe ird and rfectly: silly. “You kn ow whe re Celia. “D that lin o e is tho of ten s we need five wolf ho ugh,” ventures econds ? Mayb wls in th ourselv e no es es about th too seriously, t. We don’t tak pace but we e ings th are seri at are im some th ous ings th portant. at be trea ted like are really seri Sometimes ous nee they’re Someti silly or d to mes yo w u have things to laug eird, y’know? that or h in the hard or Life’s to face of hav o know w short, but that e fun despite the hat’s go doesn’t ing on mean w m. serious or w ly. e Trump’s We went to th e don’t take s don’t ep tuff M and yell uslim Ban, we rotests after [Do ed w the cab , and then the ent to Downin nald] aret nig g next da h y I wen Street Woteve t at the t to r. T Va night, a his bar, full of uxhall Tavern re ,B p incredib paying money eople on a Tue ar sday le peop to watc le just b h all th making ese ew th amazin emselves vuln eird, out the re and g skills erable . That m o okay ab ade me r showing the ou ir fee alright, t everything. I felt lik l way more you kno e th w okay no w, beca ? Everything is e world’s use all going to these th thes in b with all gs and still w e people care e an about th still wa e shit that’s g t to enjoy the m. Even nt to co o me tog ing on, these “Life is ethe peo ve be,” add ry serious, but r. It’s great. I lo ple s Jules, music d ve that. with So ph offe oesn’t have to ” ring: “It’ s a brea k 29
from reality really, especially the kind of music we make.” “You listen to music as an escape, and we all probably play music as an escape and people go to gigs to let their hair down and not really act like a normal human being. It’s a different dimension.”
ecorded in an intense twelve-day period, making ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ was never stressful. “Everything made sense. We didn’t have that much time but we had enough time to record all the songs as we play them live and then add loads of cool extra shit.” There’s a spontaneity to it. “We wanted to keep in those little accidents, like if someone dropped a tambourine or coughed.” It’s not polished but that’s the point. Instead, it’s packed with personality. Over the past few years The Big Moon have discovered exactly what sort of band they want to be. “We found our sound. We toured these songs for two years before we recorded them. And we recorded in loads of different ways and in loads of different places and did singles and things and by the time it came round to recording the album, we knew exactly what we wanted it to sound like.” Full of individual swagger, “It’s got lots of different faces and moods but it’s cohesive as well. It all sounds like us, and it sounds like us when we play together. It’s not this different thing. It is just the way we sound when we play our instruments in our practice room. I’m sorry, I should probably make it sound more exciting than that.” “No, that gave me lots of feelings when you said that,” offers Celia. “So, whatever. It is what we set out to do, without even setting out to do anything. We just knew what we wanted to do. We all came to the same decision, I don’t know if you noticed, but that’s something we do.” Sat in an Oxford noodle bar before their first gig of the year, the band have been on holiday (“We got as far away from each other as we could”), but there’s no disconnect. The Big Moon, by chance, order four of the same. “We’re still as in tune as ever, even though we’ve been apart from each other, in different corners of the world. We’re still very much a team.” Conversation turns to the best way to eat Miso soup (drink or spoon) and Fern’s new game of Guess What I’m Air-Drumming before Celia explains, “You should ask us some more questions, otherwise we’re just going to ramble.” It’s all too easy to get caught up in their world. Which is exactly where they want you. Full of possibility and fully immersive, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ is named after one of the songs on the album,
“which is about being so in love, you feel like you’ve gone to another level and you’re not even in your own body anymore. I was very in love,” explains Jules, before quickly adding: “I still am. It goes along with that idea of escape.” It’s fantastical but never far-fetched. The cover for the record has the band in a bedroom with loads of stars and while “it looks like another world,” it’s the comfort of home. Her bedroom is where Jules wrote most of the songs for the record. It’s also where the band chased their own escape. “You might be in your room listening to music but then you’re transported to this place full of exciting possibilities,” continues Celia. “That’s what happened with us. We used to sit in our rooms, listen to music, sing along and try to play the songs we liked on the radio. We’d tape them, save up money and go to record shops, buy things then take them home and make mix CDs. Now we’re part of the world we used to escape into. We’re contributing to it,” she beams. They find the idea that their album will be in shops, that people will listen to it on the way to work, that somewhere their name might be on a plastic divider exciting and crazy. “So, we’re in this other dimension thing, but it’s also our real life,” explains Jules. The Big Moon thrive off of the possibility of pure imagination. Ask Jules what inspired ‘Bonfire’, a smirking, weird and absolute banger of a track and before she can answer, Celia echoes, “Yeah, what is that song about?” With a smile as she says it, Jules offers nothing. “I’m not going to tell you.” “It’s a mystery to us,” Celia shrugs. “I’m going to start writing down what I think the lyrics are about so when someone asks Jules, we can just tell them what we think they’re about and Jules just never has to say anything.” “I don’t always like telling, I usually tell you guys, but I don’t like telling what the songs are about because when you’re listening, you’re wondering and maybe you’ve got some idea in your head about what you think it’s about, and I don’t want to tell you what it’s really about, because then that will go away. It’s like when you read a story, you think a character looks a certain way in your head, then you see the film of the book and forever, when you read that book again, the character looks like Emma Watson. I’m not going to tell you because then the songs will sound like Emma Watson.” The Big Moon still don’t do
sad songs. That doesn’t mean ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ doesn’t do emotion. “There’s feeling in it, even if it’s not super sad,” offers Soph. Instead the band’s debut celebrates love. Getting caught up in the moment without asking questions or searching for an explanation, it’s a record about romance and friendship. “Jules is a very positive person, we all rub off on each other and we’ve all got a certain amount of energy. It bounces off one another and becomes this really powerful energy. We didn’t even discuss it in that much depth, because it just figured itself out really. “What I really like about Jules’ songs is that, even when they’re vulnerable like ‘Sucker’, ‘Nothing Without You’ or ‘Pull The Other One’, they’re never weak. You’re never feel sorry for the person in the song. You’re never thinking, ‘Awh, babe’. It’s the same when you’re listening to Etta James, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin or any of those soulful women. Even when they’re singing songs that are so heartbreaking, she’s
still the one singing the song. It’s not all about you being the greatest person in the world at all times and everyone loving you because you’re a rock star.” Even when the songs are dealing with situations that aren’t perfect, “there’s so much strength in them and it makes you feel joyous and strong singing them. It feels powerful to play them.” “You know when you listen to ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, and it makes you walk with more authority? I want that to happen,” offers Jules. “I want people to feel empowered and bold when they listen to this album. I think it’s exactly what we wanted it to be. It’s perfect.” P The Big Moon’s debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ is out 7th April.
G N I P E E CR UP! WORDS: ALI SHUTLER.
PHOTOS: PHIL SMITHIES.
BRITISH ROCK’S GREATEST HOPE, CREEPER AREN’T JUST ANOTHER BAND...
eeN build ‘‘It feels like I‘ve b
g N i m o c d r o c e this r out most of my life.‘‘
reeper was originally meant to put the flamboyance back into punk, that’s all we wanted to try and do,” explains Will Gould. A few years ago he and some friends recorded a self-titled EP, released it, and that was that. They never intended to play a show. They never planned a follow-up. They certainly never expected, three years later, to be sat in the central London offices of their record label talking about a debut album that draws as much from film and television as it does their musical heroes. It’s been a journey, with the band always threatening to outrun the reach of their control, but somehow they’ve managed each leap forward with grace and style. The band have given up their day jobs, and now Creeper is their full-time concern. They’re still injecting the flamboyance back into punk, but now, there are bigger targets in mind. ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, is, by design, “a very sad record. We’re trying to take popular music,” states Will, before looking across to guitarist Ian Miles and keyboardist Hannah Greenwood and asking, “I guess we don’t really count as popular music, do we?” “I don’t know.” “Maybe,” says Ian, with a glint in his eye. Of all the rock bands to come out of the UK in recent years, Creeper are among the weirdest. They’re also the ones Most Likely To Succeed. They are exciting, and that’s the point. Creeper try and filter things to make them seem exciting, “there’s value in the mystery” they reason. “We’re encroaching on it, maybe,” offers Will, answering his own question. “I’d like any small involvement we have to be steering it back to a place where it was fun again. I bet everyone’s thinking we’re just going to write a load of radio rock songs because we’re on a major label and it’s what they do. I was keen to show everybody that we’re still a punk band, though. We’re not making sacrifices or
smoothing the edges to appeal to a mass audience. We’re still doing what we’ve always done, and I think people can get confused if you’re trying to expand your sound like we’ve tried with this record. “We’ve tried to push against it a little bit on the EPs, asking ‘Can we get away with that?’ Okay cool, we’ll do it a little more and see how much we can get away with before someone calls us out and says this is ridiculous. Luckily when you hide it in a bed of more traditional ideas, people normally don’t notice. Little flourishes slip through the net, and it’s great. This record, we tried to do it a lot more and in a more substantial way. It’s really important to prove that we’re a bunch of creatives who are trying a bunch of different ideas and not confusing that expansion of the sound with the idea of trying to appeal to as many different audiences as possible. That’s why the EPs are so important because they were our toe in the water to get the confidence to do it.” Recorded in secret, Creeper love to maintain an air of mystery around the band ‘cause it heightens the romance. ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ has been in a long time coming. It’s not just a collection of eleven songs and a few videos; there’s an interwoven storyline with fully-rounded and conflicted characters, there’s backstory, introductions and the opportunity for interaction at every turn. The band disappeared, reappeared and have built up the excitement for their debut by letting the art speak for itself. “With Creeper at this point, it’s more important to focus on the art and to focus on the music. Sometimes you make more noise by making no noise at all.” Each band member has a slightly different relationship to the record because “it was a very difficult to make. It was the hardest one I’ve been a part of,” admits Will. Ian explains he goes from “’I’m proud of this record’, then I’m ‘Oh no, that was stressful’, but I cant wait for it to come out.” “I can’t tell if you’re worried about it or happy because sometimes you’re like, ‘It’s horrible, ha ha ha’?” questions Will. “That’s the exact emotion I go through. But yeah, overall, I had a moment of clarity where I listened to it the other day properly, all 35
k c o R K n u ‘‘P ChALLENGE ‘ ‘ . G N I H T Y R EVE Teaches
sequenced and mastered, and I could sit back and enjoy it. And I did, I felt really proud. When this record comes out, I hope people enjoy it as much as I did listening back in that one moment, other than all those other stressful periods.” “We went into the studio not knowing [record label] Roadrunner had picked up the album, just hoping they had. Just spending loads of money in the studio and shutting ourselves in and not letting anyone else be involved. Just being complete arseholes, trying to make sure we were in control,” says Will. If you snuck into the recording process for ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’, every visit would offer something different. Some weeks Creeper were only writing fast, hardcore punk songs and the next, pop punk songs with show tune choruses. The band knew what they wanted in their head, it was just going from that, via whiteboard, to reality. Sometimes in their quest to push against the walls, they went over the top. “There was a load of nonsense. Sometimes we were in danger of pushing it too far.” There’s a Meat Loaf style song that the band spent three days on - Will still has a soft spot for it, and if you ask Ian, he’ll tell you it’s a great song - but it was just too Meat Loaf and made no sense to the narrative. “It’s a fine line when you’ve gone too far, and this was the first time it felt like we had gone too far and we had to reign it in again.” Elsewhere there was a great song that, unfortunately, was a reworking of ‘Go West’ in double time. “The middle bit was one of my favourite bits we’d written for the record, and it was ridiculous. It sounded like Elvis Presley so we tried to fix it, to change the verse but every way we tried to work it, it wouldn’t work. Eventually, we just picked it off. And a song that sounded a little bit like Joy Division. “It felt like we were doing everything in house, everything had to be gone through with a finetooth comb and I always knew it was going to be like that ‘cause we wouldn’t have it any other way, and I couldn’t bear to compromise with things. And that’s the hardest thing. When you’re making a record, and there are other people involved, it’s difficult to not compromise on things because people go ‘What about this idea?’ and you have to be like ‘No’, and that adds more stress. More than other bands, we’re headstrong with a lot of things. And we made very few compromises. I think, in the end, those calls were the right ones, right?” asks Will as Ian and Hannah instantly say yes. “If we didn’t do this stuff, we could be any other band.” As tentative and unsure as Creeper sometimes seem, their debut is ferocious in its self-belief. The ideas aren’t just present; they’re paramount. The band are happiest when they’re at their most ridiculous and every weird, or wild thing they’re allowed to get away with is a victory. This time last year, Creeper’s biggest ever headline show was meant to be at London’s Barfly before it was moved to The Underworld. Twelve months later, they’ve ticked off the expanse of Brixton Academy and made it seem easy. “When we play a bigger room, it doesn’t feel scary anymore. It feels like, ‘Okay, what can we do here? What can we do to make this fun? What can we do to make this better than the last time? How can we make this show different to what other bands are doing? All those sorts of things, we’ve become much more comfortable using it as a canvas rather than be intimidated by it.”
The idea of taking a canvas and transforming it is something that flows throughout the neo-noir Blade Runner of ‘Eternity’ and into Creeper’s very identity. From the gender-neutral Lost Boys, that’s gone from fiction to reality via their fanbase and The Callous Heart patches to the album’s dress up escape and sense of claiming your body for your own; escape is everything. “Part of that is feeling like you could become whoever you wanted. If you were unhappy with who you are or what you were or whatever the world was saying you were, you had the ability inside of you to transform yourself. Dressing up is an important part of rock music and just being a teenager in general. I can remember vividly growing up and being obsessed with glam rock. I wanted to be Marc Bolan or someone like that. I remember taking my mum’s makeup and making myself up in the bedroom mirror, and that’s something that maybe I wouldn’t have been comfortable talking about until I started doing this band, y’know? It’s transforming yourself and that wish to escape, it’s a big part of the band and a big part of the audience as well. I think that’s why people come and see us; they want to feel a part of something else and be somewhere else. I don’t want to leave the house most of the time, but it’s so important to have somewhere to go.” That escape shaped Will’s whole life. Instead of going to university in London he stayed in Southampton, at his job at a One Stop and made his first album with his old band Our Time Down Here. “It wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it gave me everything. It was a pivotal moment where I chose to do what I wanted to do rather than what everyone was telling me to do. “I think the reason I got to that decision was to do with going to shows, seeing bands and being inspired by them, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. A place to go where you feel safe and you can discover something is really significant when you’re growing up; you discover all the politics that comes along with it, and you become more aware. Punk rock teaches you to challenge everything, and challenge what you were taught as a kid and what your parents taught you. “When you were a kid, and you went to gigs, it was almost part of your identity. It was the first time you found something that your parents didn’t dictate to you, or your teachers weren’t telling you to do. You found something for yourself, and you were claiming it for yourself and transforming yourself on your own terms and escaping on your own terms, I think maybe, what I hope, I don’t know for sure, but I hope our band means a little bit of that to young people as well.” “We wanted to make music that would inspire other people to make their own things,” continues Ian. “That’s what we were always pushing for. Subculture is so important to young people. I feel some of the more alternative aspects of that culture have been stripped away and I miss those. Sometimes alternative music doesn’t feel very alternative, not just with sound but with the people who are making it, but it’s almost like it’s being reclaimed again. Everyone complains that the festival headline slots are the old guard still but, maybe with these bands coming through and properly making a go of things, there’s an opportunity for those bands to be replaced. Challenging what your taught and updating the idea of the expected still plays into Creeper’s music. “There’s a thing in The X- Files where
Scully is conflicted between scepticism of extraterrestrials and paranormal phenomenon versus her religious beliefs, and I always thought that was a really interesting thing. Faith, and what you believe in and what you choose to trust. There’s a lot of religious imagery with the record, and that plays a very big part with some of the themes. Also, I went to a Catholic primary school when I was a kid which seems weird ‘cause I am the antichrist now. ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ sounds quite religious and with this band, you could interpret it as throwing yourself into a project and burning the boats, so to speak. Throwing yourself into something forever. Although it means something very particular to me, I like the idea that the listener can take what they want from it. I named it that on purpose so that you could interpret it in a number of ways, much in the same way that people can finish the record and say ‘That was a load of old shit’; they can take from it what they will. “Lyrically it was inspired by the purgatory of being too old to be young but too young to be old. It was also a reaction to everything else that was going on at the time and just how uninspired I was listening to what certain other bands were doing. I feel like we’ve been given this incredible crazy few years where... Look at us right now. I say this all the time but, look at where we are. This is mad. This is really silly. This is a place that’s not normally reserved for bands like us, so while we have a chance to work with a label like this, I’d rather be a band that was doing something different and creative and at that level, rather than making records just for the radio. It sounds like a band playing. A lot of albums that have come out recently sound like a computer trying to interpret human emotion. I’m excited about everyone finally being able to hear it, it feels like I’ve been building towards this record coming out for most of my life,” grins Will “Well, we technically have,” adds Ian. “The great thing about what’s happening with Creeper is that it means that the better this band does, the more it will hopefully inspire other bands to try other things. It inspires us to want to do more with the band.” That said, “It’s horrible when everyone is blowing smoke up your arse and telling you ‘You’re going to be the next thing’. It’s nice, obviously, but at the same time, it’s terrifying. When you think about your craft and your art and who you are as an artist, it’s easy. It’s not hard. But if you start thinking about the expectations everyone seems to have for you… We have a lot of kids coming up to us these days saying things like they were waiting for a band like us. I’m always scared we’re going to lose control somehow. “I’m really protective of this band. Partly because of my feelings attached to it but also what it means to other people as well. Creeper can’t have any of those human failures; it can’t have those things. Our audience deserves better. They’ve already had years of bands making horrific mistakes, and I’m not saying our band is better than those because I don’t believe it is necessarily, but it should stand for something more. We have a duty not to put out anything that’s wishy-washy or made to be radio friendly. You have to be aggressive with these things and be brutal. Our record had to be what it is, for better or worse. I just want to put the magic back into things again.” P Creeper’s debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is out 24th March.
Diet Cig are great. They just are. Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman use their band to help as many people as possible - and they have a kick-ass debut album to boot. WORDS: SAMMY MAINE.
here’s nothing like a Diet Cig show. They’re loud and in-your-face, the ceiling dripping with the sweat of euphoria and even the coolest kids edging their way to the front. They’re a band who can make you feel alive for the first time in a while; everything they strum and hit and sing is felt with such vigour, it’s no wonder that vocalist and guitarist Alex Luciano often ends up lying on the floor in the middle of the crowd. And it’s this intensity that extends to debut album ‘Swear I’m Good At This’. On the surface, Diet Cig write songs about crappy ex-boyfriends and stupid parties, but beneath the trashy fun, there’s a poignant comment on the impending fear of adulthood; of trying to find your way in the world when all you feel is lost, of navigating friendships and solitude and never wanting to get out of bed because let’s be real, the world can really suck sometimes. However, alongside this poignancy rears a certain power – something that says ‘I’m here whether you like it or not, pal’. The band own their uncertainties and turn them into anthems for those who never really felt like they fit in. “I never thought we’d make it to this point,” Alex Luciano says. “I remember we were making our [‘Over Easy’] EP and we had four songs, and Noah [Bowman, drums] was like ‘Why don’t you just write one more so we can have a nice, even five’ and I was like ‘ONE MORE SONG? ARE YOU KIDDING?’ I didn’t know how people made records because one song to me was insane and now I’m like ‘Oh my god, we’ve travelled, and we’ve written a record, and it’s beautiful, and it makes sense’. I feel like a proud parent of our band, just like, good job! We did it! We believed in ourselves that we could do it. We were right.” Alex speaks with an impassioned fervour; much like the lyrics of Diet Cig’s songs, she’s relatable and gutsy, her excitement proving so contagious that I almost want to get out of my chair and start jumping around my office despite it being an extremely dreary Monday afternoon. And this is what Diet Cig are all about – spreading messages that make you feel good and true, pushing you to get up and get out there. “Our songs have an aggressive feel to them sometimes, but we like to keep this vein of radical softness. It’s punk to feel your feelings, and it’s punk to tell people what you feel; to stand up for what you believe in and take into consideration how others feel instead of just raging your way through and not listening to anyone else,” she continues. “It’s punk to care; support each other and be there for your friends for when they’re sad. I think that’s more punk than having a mosh pit or something; like talking to your friends about your feelings is punk as fuuuuuck!” The songs on ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ are introspective and personal but in such a way that allows the band to speak to the twentysomething masses. While most attribute a certain catharsis to the songwriting process, Alex reveals it was a little difficult to put herself out there like that. “It was definitely
hard because a lot of the feelings I was unpacking on this record were feelings I had recently over the past year or so,” she says. “It’s weird exposing yourself like that. When we were recording, and we finally got to vocals, I was like ‘Oh my god, I’m going to sing these 100 times each to my friends in the room right now’. It was super cathartic, but it’s also weird to have all these feelings, and I’m having to sing them over and over. It does feel good though because it’s nice to be able to put those feelings into something that I can be proud of – we’re proud of what we’ve made out of it, and we maybe hope that it will help people with the stuff that they’ve gone through.”
“We’re the kind of people who are going to try to use our platform for good.”
This ability to help people is evident throughout each show that Diet Cig play, as fans shout every syllable back at the band with a hopeful sincerity. This feedback of energy and love throughout their hectic schedule last year certainly had an impact on the album, as Alex explains. “I feel like we wrote this record for every single person who’s busted out a dance move at our show or patiently waited after our show just to say hi. Or held me while I was crowd surfing,” she says. “It’s for everyone, and everyone waited so long and were so kind, and that still blows my mind every day. We’re so thankful for every single person. Those people just stuck with us and believed in us too because we weren’t even sure if we could do this. Without everyone’s support and dance moves and awesome enthusiasm, we may not have been able to do it at all. I definitely think that the feedback we got from touring was a huge influence in making this record.”
While the album has all the tenacity of what we’ve come to know and love about Diet Cig, there’s also a notable maturity in the songwriting, something which Noah agrees with. “I feel that this record helped us grow as people in finding out what strengths we have and what things we can put together and put out into the world and how we affect certain people,” he says. “It’s a scary thing but an exciting thing. I feel like we learned a lot on this record of what we’re capable of. It’s hard to explain because we’re still growing and we’re still so young, and we’re still living it; we’re still in the middle of it. But it’s exciting.” “I feel like we’ve got a confidence, even just personally,” Alex adds. “We spent so, so much time writing and making sure this record was done before we recorded – when we were recording parts this time we were like ‘Oh my god! We’re nailing this!’ We so feel like we’ve honed everything in and I felt like I could play all my guitar parts super well including some of the complicated overdubs and stuff and like, playing with different beats and tracking and trying new things. I think we felt like this is what we’ve been working for – this is why we constantly tour to get better, and we had a confidence boost after recording and then listening back to it and being like, ‘Holy shit! We made this thing!’”
The band recorded the album with Noah’s twin brother at Atomic in New York City before heading back to New Paltz to work with friend and Over Easy producer Chris Daly. But it wasn’t all work and no play, as Alex reveals she left the session to go and meet one of her heroes. “I left to go meet Guy Fieri at his book signing because I’m obsessed with him; he told me some really good wisdom, and we bonded. I recorded our conversation on my phone, and I took the best tidbit out and put it on the end of the physical record,” she laughs. With lead single ‘Tummy Ache’ spitting lyrics like “It’s hard to be a punk when you’re wearing a skirt,” it sets a precedent for the inclusive and no-nonsense approach that ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ exudes. The video for the single also features girls from the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and Girls Rock Philly, while Alex has been hard at work producing crafts to raise money for LGBTQ+, women’s and immigrant charities. “I think that if you have a platform, you should use it for what you believe in,” she says. “Some people have been like, ‘Just stick to the music, stop being so political’ - but for myself, my existence as a woman is inherently political, and our band is such an extension of us, and so it’s impossible not to get political. “We’re the kind of people who are going to try to use our platform for good and raise money for charities and include young girls and aspiring musicians in our music videos. It’s just who we are, and if we didn’t do that it would be dishonest and a misuse of the platform we’ve been given. It’s so heavy right now. It’s really hard to just be a human being at the moment.” And with ‘Swear I’m Good At This’, Alex says she just wants people to know they’re not alone. “We stand with them. Just know that somebody’s got your back and someone has felt your feelings before. Stay radically soft, stay empathetic, stay woke!” P Diet Cig’s debut album ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is out 7th April.
TO WAR” WHO DOESN’T WANT TO BE THE BIGGEST BAND IN THE WORLD? CIRCA WAVES ARE STEPPING UP. WORDS: JAMIE MUIR.
t’s early 2015. Circa Waves are about to release their debut album ‘Young Chasers’ and anticipation is rife - not just from a sea of devoted fans who have slowly but surely seen their Liverpudlian dreams reached and played out, but from themselves. To mark the occasion, the chaps have decided to record one of those ‘Track By Track’ guides to the record, diving into each song and giving details of the sun-laden indie singalongs that will be belted back to them on the biggest stages less than nine months later. As the camera pans to frontman Kieran Shudall, sat in front of his computer desk with his guitar in hard - he notes something. “I like looking in, y’know, not being the point of ridicule.” If there ever was a version of Kieran’s younger self to hold up, then it’s this one. It’s the words of a man sitting at the starting blocks after years of working to get there, and one who
can only dream of what’s ahead. For Circa Waves, the past two years have been a culmination of something that started from the nuts and bolts of what music is and what it can be. That feeling of getting swept up in a head-fast rush of unexplainable highs and being drawn into belting out the words as loud as your lungs can withstand. Standing above any trends and intricacies, that feeling of music grabbing you by the shoulders and not letting go grabbed Kieran, and it’s now part of everything he is. “It was always something that was there,” contemplates Kieran, gazing across the lavish dressing rooms of Alexandra Palace as he dives down memory lane. “I went to see Arctic Monkeys on the old NME tour, and I remember watching Alex Turner come on stage with We Are Scientists when they were doing that ‘Cash Cow’ tune - which is a fucking banging tune. He strolled on and was wearing double denim, and I just went ‘Fuck, I need to be that guy’ - I was hooked. So hooked, and straight away, with
a can of Red Stripe in one hand and an indie t-shirt in the other. I’ve been like that ever since.” From the glistening musical streets of Liverpool, Circa Waves morphed into a band primed for those sort of evenings. The double denim may be knocking about, but there’s a distinctive style to everything they do - laced in classic songwriting but boiling with vitality and palpable energy. The dizzying heights of being in a band also shone bright, but in Kieran’s mind - it had to be original, remembering how “a lot of my friends would be learning solos - and I was always making up things, I always preferred making my own things up and learning that. “That lead to me thinking ‘Oh, I’m not going to learn that Libertines tune I’ll write my own version of it’, which became addictive as soon as I started doing it. For me it’s like, 10 minutes ago this song didn’t exist, and now there’s a song that’ll be forever there even if it’s just me that hears it. I’ve
created something out of nothing, and it hasn’t cost me anything. Doing that is one of the most mind-blowing things for me as a songwriter, that’s why I’m so addicted to it. “The fact that any moment, I could write a classic tune is fucking incredible.” It may seem silly to say, but tunes in their purest sense are what Circa Waves are all about. They live and embody that idea of a band plugging in and blasting through skyscrapersized choruses that trigger drownedout responses and feverish reactions. One that looked at those iconic figures and went ‘yeah, that’s us’ and aren’t afraid to admit it. Taking the swagger of The Strokes, dipping it through The Libertines’ box of pogoing spontaneity and blasting it through the loudest speakers they can find - it’s a seducing combination that found its home on debut album ‘Young Chasers’. In the space of twelve months,
“I was just desperate to get back to writing,” Kieran remembers, finally getting back to creating once a final support run with Foals in the US rounded out. “I kinda need to be alone to write songs, on the road you’re either on the tour bus or at hotels where you’re always with someone, so it’s hard to find the time. “But when I got home I literally, for like three or four months, just wrote and wrote every day, which meant I ended up with like 150-200 tunes, ideas and sketches of songs. I lost my mind writing songs a bit; I was literally at my little shitty flat just every day just hammering away demoing it for eight hours, having some dinner, going to bed, waking up, turning my computer on and going again.” It was during those intensive months, locked away from the world and cramming away at carving the vital next step for the band, that Kieran began to notice a shift in the size and sound of what he was pulling together. The shimmering summer gazes seemed to evaporate, and in its place came a much tougher and meaner beast, shaped by the chills and shadows glimpsed from outside his window. “I think ‘Wake Up’ was the initial riff that kicked it off,” notes Kieran. “I was really just testing the waters, and I sent it to my brother, as he’s always my initial test on a song as he’ll just be straight and say either way if it’s good or not. When I sent him ‘Wake Up’, he just replied ‘Fuck, that’s awesome’, so I sent it to a few others just asking ‘Surely, this is too heavy? How can we go from that into ‘T-Shirt Weather’?’
it’s a record that took Circa Waves around the globe - claiming that summer crown with catchy hooks and sun-kissed melodies that saw them selling out Brixton Academy with aplomb. After years of slogging away, cramping themselves into tiny vans and living off service station bites, it was a step that shook all of their worlds around - a feeling that took a while to sink in and embrace. Looking back on it all, ‘Young Chasers’ was nothing short of a whirlwind that flipped everything on its head. “It’s still strange to me,” ponders Kieran. “I mean, we all did the hard graft from the age of 14 - when I first picked up a guitar - and it took a good 12 years of driving around in the back of transit vans and going to cold practice rooms twice a week for years on end. “As soon as ‘Young Chasers’ blew up, it was such a whirlwind that I don’t remember most of it. It takes a long time for you, after being through all those years of not making it and
nobody giving a shit, to thousands of people giving a shit - that takes time for your body to accept that and say, you deserve it. “Instead of feeling like, ‘Oh, what am I doing here? This feels a bit weird’, you start to feel like actually we should be here and we’ve earned where we are today.” When you have arguably the song of an entire summer in ‘T-Shirt Weather’ and a live show packed specifically for an emphatic 75 minutes of joyful abandon, it’s understandable how things became frantic quickly. That time away fully engrossed in ‘Young Chasers’ meant that, by the time over 125 shows were done with, that itch to get back to his songwriting buzz was at a new level for Kieran. For someone addicted to writing track after track, the resultant kickback after returning from the road was a heavy one - brimming with the confidence and eye of a band now voicing a generation into an invigorating new chapter.
“Everything started to change from that first record, my mindset just changed and the guys were digging it too, so we just went for it. We just thought, let’s be heavy and not think too much about it - and we let everything just come naturally. “Like, the track ‘Goodbye’ on the record came together after I was just demoing every day and one night I got drunk with my girlfriend, and when she went to bed, I just stuck around messing about with this riff and kept getting absolutely hammered. When I woke up the next morning, I went over to my computer and found this recording on there, and it was just this death riff that jumped out right away. I’d obviously recorded it when completely drunk, so I sent it ‘round and wrote a song around it there and then!” ‘Different Creatures’ finds Circa Waves on the cusp of something great. It fizzles with the excitement of a band bouncing off of each other, driven with that confident nod of knowing exactly where to aim their nozzles
and the space to deliver an emphatic statement. More than anything, they’re sure of themselves - and by doing that they’re ensuring that there’ll be thousands upon thousands ready to flock to the Circa Waves’ coronation. “There’s so much determination,” points out Kieran, leaning forward with a gleam in his eye - already daydreaming of those landmark moments ahead. “We used to keep saying ‘Oh we’re happy to be here’, but now we’re a bit more like ‘We wanna fucking take over the rock world.’ We want to be the biggest rock band, we want to play higher on those festival bills, we want to headline those festivals, and we want to take over and surpass all of our peers. There’s that, I suppose, battle mentality now like we’re going to war. “I feel like we’ve been reborn as a band, to me this is just the start - a fresh start. Not necessarily because the music has changed, but more because of the outlook we now have on everything. We’ve all changed so much. We were all happy to be a little garage band who played to 200 people - but now we’re not content with anything. We want to be headlining those huge venues and want festivals to be looking at us and saying, ‘Right, in a few years we’ll be asking them to headline’. “That’s the aim, and we don’t shy away from it anymore, we don’t shy away from saying we want to be bigger than any other band and we’re ready to take them on.” It took 12 years of feverish determination and refusing to give up on the dream they all longed to see, for Circa Waves to get here. At times it seemed to be dimming, but with ‘Different Creatures’ they have the burning flare that’ll attract all of it right to their front door. Uncompromising and surging with importance, it’s an explosive era that stares right into the faces of those who told them it wasn’t possible - and pulls them along for the runaway ride ahead. “It’s weird,” notes Kieran, packing away his guitar and heading out into the chilly North London breeze. “I didn’t have that belief earlier on, from all those years of being knocked back - but now I just know we can be bigger. I can see it in my head; I can visualise walking out on stage and seeing 50,000 people there. That’s the first step, isn’t it? I’m visualising it, so that’s where I’m going - straight to the top.” Kieran Shudall is looking in no longer, not with a view like this. P Circa Waves’ new album ‘Different Creatures’ is out now.
REVIEWS “I reckon there’s another star up here! 6 out of 5 ahoy!”
The Big Moon Love In The 4th Dimension
hen an album comes along and hits you right between the eyes, from that point on the world isn’t going to sound or look the same. The run-up to this knockout has been one we’ve seen for a while now, The Big Moon aren’t just any ordinary band and have been effortlessly seizing our hearts with each and every banger from day one. With ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’, they have the blueprint and guidebook to their wonderful world - accessible, uplifting, rich and rewarding on each and every listen. The Big Moon have delivered big, and across 11 tracks they prove that vibrant and carefree indie-pop is more powerful than anything that can be chucked in front of it.
Designed to be bellowed back at them ten-fold, The Big Moon’s deal of bangers and bangers only fizzles and sparks throughout, with ‘Cupid’, ‘Sucker’ and ‘Silent Movie Susie’ getting larger and larger on each and every listen, an unabashed charm that’ll trigger swoons from the first hook. It takes the fun and winks of Britpop and ratchets them up to 11, with Knebworth-sized detours through ‘Formidable’ and ‘The End’ sounding second-nature to a band who mark themselves out as original on every turn. Distinctly of the here and now but already sounding classic, ‘The Road’ feels like a comforting old friend, the harmonies of ‘Happy New Year’ trigger early Libertines chills while the choppy calls of ‘Bonfire’ are the sort to elicit hysteria at the touch of a note. What they achieve
is what the entire album captures, a smile in the face of everything and glistening hands-in-the-air moments that’ll soundtrack not just 2017 but years to come. ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ sounds like four mates in a room staring straight at the biggest stages and dipping their paintbrushes, ready to paint their names in bold letters all over them. And that’s what makes The Big Moon so important. They’re not a cliche; they’re not a buzzed line or a catchy sound-bite that’ll last for a few months and fill a few column inches. They’re a band set for something far bigger than that, and with ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ they have the uppercut to send everyone else spinning. Jamie Muir
THE BIG MOON ARE SO IMPORTANT
Real Estate In Mind Domino
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FRONTMAN MARTIN COURTNEY TALKS, ERM, REAL ESTATE.
Hey Martin, what’s up? I just moved into a new 110-year-old house this weekend, so I’m in the middle of a long process of painting rooms, unpacking boxes, arranging furniture, etc. Exciting for me, but most likely boring for you. How are you guys at the moment? Is life treating you well? I’m good, exhausted from the move, a bit overwhelmed, soaking up the last few weeks of pure family time before we start touring. I’m super excited the new album is coming out so soon. I’ve been listening to it a bit recently and I’m really happy with it. Feeling confident and optimistic. You’ve had another line up change since 2014’s ‘Atlas’ - is everything settled again after that initial upheaval? Was it a shock when Matt left? Things in the band are feeling very settled and super tight. The remaining four of us found working together without Matt to be different, but very productive. We were lucky to have an old friend who happens to be extremely talented fill the void. Your new album ‘In Mind’ is about to drop - how would you describe its vibe? That’s something that is very hard to put into words. This album feels loose to me. We really threw a lot of ideas in there. A little less concerned with song structure, more so with melody and texture. What would you most like listeners to ‘get’ or understand about ‘In Mind’? I just hope people live with it and give it time to open up. Listen to it multiple times in multiple settings. I think hopefully there’s a lot to immediately enjoy about the music, but we put a lot of thought and energy into little details on these songs. Album aside, do you have a busy year ahead of you? How’s summer looking? Our tour schedule is shaping up to be pretty rigorous, so I’m really just hoping to have as much time with my family as I can. Between touring, there’s a never ending checklist of things to take care of with the new house. That’s enough for the next few years. P
STICK WITH THIS BAND. THEY ARE MUCH WISER THAN YOU KNOW.
It seems odd that a band as undeniably ‘pleasant’ as Real Estate might polarise opinion. Four albums in, they remain something of a cult outfit here in the UK, garnering a modest following of shoegaze revivalists and ‘background noise’ consumers. Don’t let their laidback attitude fool you - like easing yourself into a too-warm bath, ‘In Mind’ is a record that feels cloying at first, but only gets better with proper immersion. And under all those hazy suburban chords lies a lyrical narrative none of us can outrun – the weight of burgeoning adulthood. In the three years since their last record was released, Real Estate have seen members become fathers, moved out of New Jersey and in the case of founding guitarist Matt Mondanile, quit the band entirely. Such upheaval would cause lesser bands to lose their footing, but instead, ‘In Mind’ sees a band so indebted to nostalgia take a brave step into the future, boldly facing their struggles head on. Jenessa Williams
Future Islands’ last album, 2014’s ‘Singles’, propelled them into pop’s big leagues. Aided by that now iconic Letterman performance, it allowed the band’s personality, primarily that of ultra-magnetic singer Samuel T Herring, to come to the fore. So, how do you follow that? Well, Future Islands have attached a super-charged rocket and blasted themselves further into the stratosphere on ‘The Far Field’. The formula remains broadly the same, but coupled with esteemed producer John Congleton’s pristine production, the sound is sublime. Martyn Young
It’s been seven years since Karen Elson’s Jack Whiteproduced debut, ‘The Ghost Who Walks’. The break is understandable though as, well, she has a lot on. Constantly in demand as one of the world’s most recognisable models, releasing music has taken a back seat. The record that has finally emerged though, ‘Double Roses’, is a sublime and beautifully considered work that represents how deeply and tenderly Elson thinks about music. It took a long time to get into the right emotional frame of mind to write these songs and find the right collaborators, but the result is well worth the wait. Martyn Young
For the past two decades, Spoon have been slowly tinkering away. The Austin rock stalwarts hit on a formula that worked pretty early on; combining earworm-worthy hooks with frontman Britt Daniel’s wry yet oddly seductive snarl. But they never settled, constantly evolving and adapting. Their ninth album, ‘Hot Thoughts’, sees them expand on the polished pop sheen of 2014’s ‘They Want My Soul’ and aim for the dance floor: the line between Spoon as a pop or rock band more blurred than ever before. Instantly recognisable yet enticingly new, they’re a band still full of ideas. Chris Taylor
Static Shock Records
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In classic Craig Finn fashion, ‘We All Want The Same Things’ propels us through worlds of stories and lives that could very well be our own. Building upon his last solo album, ‘Faith In The Future’, The Hold Steady frontman uncovers depth in the inane and finds its soundtrack to be perfectly composed rock music. The underlying theme throughout is that while our stories may differ and our sounds may vary, really we all just want the same things. It’s a perfect example of Finn’s songwriting abilities, with a more than pleasing soundtrack. Steven Loftin
Think rock’n’roll and what do you imagine? Attitude in abundance? Blazing riffs by the boatload? Sweaty shows with an empowering sense of euphoria? If your answers to those were in the affirmative, then you’re in the right place. Over the course of three EPs Sheer Mag have proven that they’ve got it all. Compiling these EPs together for a remastered LP imaginatively titled ‘Compilation’, the band are barrelling full storm ahead into the future. What Sheer Mag are going to prove themselves capable of as they really take off is downright unmissable. Jess Goodman
The Far Field
Can You Deal? Dead Oceans
eeeee “Yeah, I’m a girl, and I play in a band, can you deal?” Jennifer Clavin taunts on the EP title-track, honey-sweet vocal croons falling by the wayside as a storm of distorted refrains take the helm, mocking and menacing in equal measure. ‘Turn To Rage’ is a continuation of that anger, while ‘Dear Trouble’ kicks out at the world with a savage ferocity. ‘Flipside’ is an EP standout, seeing stadium-sized refrains meet rose-tinted nostalgia; as blissful as it is bold. With ‘Can You Deal?’ Bleached forge a resounding strength that echoes through the eras. Jessica Goodman
We All Want The Same Things
BAKER IS A MUSICIAN WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE. Julien Baker
Sprained Ankle Matador
eeeee A sprained ankle really bloody hurts. It’s a sensitive, winceinducing kind of agony that’s rather unique, and that’s why it’s the perfect title for Tennessee native Julien Baker’s debut LP. See, like the injury it’s named after, Baker’s ninetrack album is a distinctive affair, and uncompromisingly heartfelt. Listening to this album you can’t help but dwell on the pains of the past, on the unrequited loves and the unrelenting losses, and it’s this sheer emotional power that makes Julien Baker’s first musical foray such a remarkable accomplishment. Baker is a musician who understands that sometimes less is more; there’s no grand production here, no huge arrangements or
Father John Misty Pure Comedy Bella Union
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Eternity, In Your Arms Roadrunner
Regardless of the fact it’s been two years since masterpiece ‘I Love You, Honeybear’, after the 2016 we all endured, we were due a new Father John Misty album. ‘Pure Comedy’, all 75 minutes of it, finds the oftensatirical and humanity-loathing singer inspired to tackle a host of issues from religion, environment and social media. But ultimately, the punchline to ‘Pure Comedy’ is human nature. It’s a beautiful and foreboding soundtrack for the end of civilisation. Alex Bradley
The Jesus and Mary Chain
Damage and Joy
You’re Not As _____ As You Think
ADA / Warner Music
Big Scary Monsters
Crawl Space Downtown / Interscope
e e ee e Valerie Teicher’s long-awaited ‘Crawl Space’ is the once evasive Tei Shi stepping out into the light. She has said she wants to claim her own creative space, but much of the album reminds you of something else, whether it’s the childhood recordings that pepper the album evoking Shura’s ‘Nothing’s Real’ or the slinky Solange-esque R&B of ‘Say You Do’. It’s frustrating as ‘Crawl Space’ is a solid debut packed full of impressive tracks. Chris Taylor 44
The New Pornographers eee e New Pornographers have always been greater than the sum of their parts – no mean feat when said parts include A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. With Bejar missing from the recording sessions, though, ‘Whiteout Conditions’ lacks the band’s usual chaotic mischievousness. Thankfully there are still enough showstoppers for it to be a welcome addition to their excellent back catalogue. Rob Mair
eeee It’s been almost 20 years, but nothing much has changed in the world of the Mary Chain; ‘Damage and Joy’ sees them just as grouchy, scuzzy and contrary as ever. The guitars are there, the voice is there, the attitude is there and, most importantly, the songs are there. They’ve carried on in their in own merry, strung out way. In its familiarity, ‘Damage and Joy’ is both comforting and celebratory. A triumph. Martyn Young
fancy effects. Just one woman, a guitar, and a bucket-load of talent. For one so young – it’s remarkable to think she’s only 21 – Julien Baker has an astounding maturity to her songwriting; a graceful ebb and flow that would take the average musician decades to master. There’s so much to love here, be it the tenderness of the spellbinding title track, the five-minute crescendo that is ‘Go Home’ or the gorgeous harmonies of ‘Good News’. Throughout its 33-minutes ‘Sprained Ankle’ refuses to dwindle in terms of quality or heart. Given that this LP was originally released in 2015, and is now being re-issued, it’s likely that some of you reading this will be familiar with Julien Baker’s stunning music. If you missed ‘Sprained Ankle’ first time around, it can’t be stressed enough how much you need to hear this album. It’s not often that music this vital rears its head. Jake Richardson
Most bands who are cursed with the pressure of hype crack under it. Not Creeper, though. Anointed as the next saviours of a whole genre, they may not give the impression they believe their label - but their actions speak louder than any words. Arriving perfectly formed, ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ is an album that succeeds in every possible way. From its central story to its individual parts; Creeper aren’t just a band. Creeper are the future. Stephen Ackroyd
e e e ee The question “Are You OK?” is a simple yet giant step - one that can open up thousands of other questions. For Sorority Noise, that’s exactly what this album is, as they examine everything from death, heartbreak, religion and those darkest moments with an unfaltering honesty. ‘You’re Not As ___ As You Think’ is a stunning portrait of despair morphing into beauty, and one that captures what it means to be human. Jamie Muir
Conor Oberst Salutations Nonsuch
eee Out of the darkness of ill health comes ‘Salutations’, a partner album to Conor Oberst’s recent ‘Ruminations’ - a record so raw it worried collaborator Mike Mogis. Here, the loneliness is gone as the erstwhile Bright Eyes man reunites with friends to give the original ten songs a new lease of life. Another seven have been added, tackling subjects such as booze, homecoming and faith. It’s the album fans have been waiting for. Eala MacAlister
Pulled Apart By Horses
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“It’s hard showing the world who you are, isn’t it?” Alex Luciano questions on ‘Bath Bomb’. Calling out their fears and concerns, on their debut album Diet Cig stand victorious. Whether spitting back at the world when it crosses the line or pulling the duvet covers further overhead when the real world gets too much, ‘Swear I’m Good At This’ is as refreshing as it is real. Diet Cig have found their voice so they’re standing up and making every moment count. From scrappy punk, through strident garage rock and breakaway pop hooks, to gentle acoustics and beyond, the New Paltz outfit demonstrate themselves capable of pretty much anything they turn their hands to. Jessica Goodman
Seconds after hitting play on the first and titular track of Pulled Apart By Horses’ latest album, ‘The Haze’, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d put on a record by The Hives in error. This opening ditty is all manic, fuzzy garage-rock a la the Swedish songsmiths, and it’s a wonderfully head-spinning start to proceedings. But ‘The Haze’ is also a record that embodies PABH’s ongoing identity crisis: too heavy on the riffs for many straight-up indie fans, yet they don’t totally belong in the ‘rock’ world, either. It’s unfortunate, because Pulled Apart By Horses are a good band, and ‘The Haze’ is a good record. Jake Richardson
Pulled Apart By Horses. Recommend us some stuff.
Last good record you heard: I’m currently listening to ‘Abstract Figures In The Dark’ by Tigercub as I’m typing these very words you are reading right here. It’s a tremendous debut, and I can’t wait to hear it live when we take them out on tour next month. Check it out! Favourite ever book: It would have to be The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks I reckon. I still read it now from time to time. I first read it when I was about 13 and it’s a pretty fucked up/freaky novel which is nigh on impossible to put it down once it gets going. TV show you couldn’t live without: Christ! That is a tough one in this day and age... although I think I’d have to go with Brass Eye. I was only a kid when it was first aired, and it literally blew my mind and still does today. Chris Morris is an utter genius. Perfect satire. Best purchase of this year: I bought a multipack of five green Rizlas from Kirkgate Market in Leeds today for just 80p. If anyone can beat that please tweet us a location and price. Anything else you’d recommend? Just finished watching the new HBO series Westworld and it is absolutely fantastic! Cowboys, androids and Anthony Hopkins. What more could you ask for? Probably a five pack of Rizlas for 60p.
Blaenavon That’s Your Lot Transgressive
eeee Blaenavon have been teasing for quite a while now: spending years refining and experimenting with their sound, they seem to be a band who’ve been talked about or mentioned in breaths since they first emerged as spritely 16-year-olds. With each release, they’ve offered up an extraordinary plethora of styles and swaggers - meaning nobody could really put a finger on exactly what Blaenavon were destined to be. Now with ‘That’s Your Lot’, they’ve laid their souls bare with a sublimely crafted album of bristling melodic swoons and gravity-defying moments that lines them out as a band who could become an influential force for a generation. Variety crackles throughout, whether that’s the composed subtleties of
British Sea Power
Let the Dancers Inherit the Party Golden Chariot
eee e Their last studio album proper, 2013’s ‘Machineries of Joy’ suggested British Sea Power had found their eccentric furrow and would continue ploughing it - and ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Party’ doesn’t suggest otherwise. ‘Bad Bohemian’ is a good start, anthemic and declamatory; but the muted, aimless ‘What You’re Doing’ crash-lands, while ‘Saint Jerome’ and the plod of ‘Want to Be Free’ are unmemorable. They still haven’t made a bad album, but ‘Let The Dancers…’ worst offence might be that it’s just a BSP album. Whether or not that’s enough depends on your level of investment. Rob Mesure
Swear I’m Good At This French Kiss
‘Let’s Pray’, the effortless charm of ‘Orthodox Man’ or the dynamic yin and yang of ‘Alice Come Home’ and its delicate plucks merged with its tidal-wave-esque explosion. That sort of balance plays a key part, taking insular rawness and turning it into something of devastating beauty. ‘Prague 99’ is the classic Maccabees anthem the indie veterans wish they’d written, with the ferocious outbursts of ‘I Will Be The World’, the jolting ‘Take Care’ and the swelling chills of ‘Swans’ all playing their part in a record which never sits in one place for too long. Vulnerability can be just as powerful when screaming at the wall or curled away with the blinds pulled - and that’s where Blaenavon strike hardest. Rich, heart-breaking and defiant all in one swoop - ‘That’s Your Lot’ is a gorgeous tapestry painted with the bold, the fragile and the beautiful. They still can’t be boxed in or pinned down, and that’s just how Blaenavon want it. Jamie Muir
Bad Thing EP Haus Of Pins
eeee Straight out of the traps, PINS hit you hard with ‘Bad Thing’, the title track of their latest EP. Thunderous and strutting, it opens with the line “Big dreams baby, yeah we have big dreams, a taste for venom and expensive things.” It’s a nod to what they’re all about: a real good time. They move swiftly into the tribal beat of ‘Aggrophobe’, which features Iggy Pop’s unique growl. ‘All Hail’ presents a call to arms, while ‘In Nightmares’ opts for a dreamy soundscape and finale ‘Dead Souls’ is led by pounding drums, desolate guitars and large synth sounds. PINS rarely put a foot wrong - and with songs this strong it’s no wonder. Steven Loftin
Desperate Journalist Grow Up
e e e ee With their name coming from The Cure’s marvellously petulant early obscurity ‘Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation’, it’s obvious that Desperate Journalist know their way around in the glacial post-punk gloom. They thunder through the first three or four songs like they’ve got a point to prove. Starting subdued, with Simon Drowner’s gravelly bass and Rob Hardy’s crystalline lead, ‘Hollow’ quickly gains tension and urgency, Jo Bevan’s vocal leaping from the tense verse to the brash, crashing highs of the chorus. As second albums go, ‘Grow Up’ is potent, convincing stuff. Rob Mesure 45
‘MAKE A MAN’ FEELS LIKE THE START OF SOMETHING GREAT.
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
Estrons are weird and wonderful at London’s Boston Music Room + King Nun & Husky Loops Boston Music Rooms, London
We’ve been told time and time again that Estrons is Welsh for ‘Aliens’ or ‘Strangers’. And sure, if you take a step back their distorted pop-songs are pretty weird – all snarled aggression and bludgeoning hooks. But as the band take to London’s Boston Music Rooms, the brilliantly bizarre becomes fully glorious. The weird isn’t only reserved for the headliners though. King Nun and Husky Loops only have a handful of songs between them but the venue is nudging capacity from the off. King Nun play on instinct. Songs will start, weave, distract and be killed off before the band get bored of them, but the impression is long lasting. Primal and making it up as they go along, King Nun are never sloppy. Their freedom knows its limits and while they’re happy to push those walls, they never overstep them. It’s confident, it’s knowing and it’s wild. It’s harder still to see where Husky Loops draw the line. Lush and uncompromising, their approach is surefooted but the direction unknown. At times they feel like an art project that needs to be taken away, digested and discussed before flipping a dial and suddenly sounding like a radio station playing hit over hit. There are samples of adverts for Apple Music and Spotify that cut through the noise and the whole thing feels wonderfully outrageous. As odd as the music is though, it connects. Instant and undeniable, both bands demand a reaction and of course they get what they want. Estrons might be more known than either of the supports but tonight, they still feel dangerous. Galvanizing that connection and lifting it higher, the room rages as one. There’s a fury to their delivery and the urgency reigns but every song is designed to start something. ‘Call You Mine’ is as captivating as it demanding, ‘Drop’ is reckless, ‘Make A Man’ feels like the start of something great while a crowd-encouraged performance of ‘Belfast’ is all wide-eyed attitude as the band take things to the edge. Refusing to take the scenic route or waste words, Estrons are powerful. “We just started jamming and something happened,” they explain before a handful of new songs take that crackle of excitement and light it up. The music might be weird and they might feel like aliens, but they refuse to yield. And tonight that feels wonderful.
REVIEWS Two Door Cinema Club make it to the big leagues at Ally Pally
+ Circa Waves & Sundara Karma Alexandra Palace, London For most bands opening an ordinary night, the idea of a euphoric reaction and bellowing crowds may seem like a myth – but Sundara Karma are no ordinary band. Greeted with a reaction that most headliners would dream of, Oscar and the lads deliver a set that nestles perfectly within the huge pillars and corridors of Alexandra Palace. ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’ is a record that deserves the biggest stages, and on the form of tonight – they’ll get it. To describe Alexandra Palace as a ‘warmup’ is an odd one but for Circa Waves their slot tonight is a moreish nugget of what’s to come. Heading straight out the traps with ‘Wake Up’, they trigger a punch to the system. Cuts from incoming album ‘Different Creatures’ bolster up ‘Young Chasers’ most sun-filled songs. Uncompromising and delivering the modern classics of ‘So Long’, ‘Fossils’ and ‘Stuck In My Teeth’, there’s a wink and a nod to the grand rooms they’re about to fill.
WORDS: JAMIE MUIR. PHOTO: CORINNE CUMMING.
Topping a line up like this would seem daunting for most but with Two Door Cinema Club, there’s never been any doubt laid upon the coronation of indie-pop’s true kingpins. From the get-go, Two Door deliver. Each and every song is as enthusiastically received as the next and their electric fizzed-pop fusion dives straight to the core and refuses to let go for 90 minutes.
There’s joy written across every face as the importance and relevance of a band who defined a moment in time comes right to the forefront. Digital twitches, untouchable moments that become second nature and a higher banger ratio than any band could ever dream of – Two Door Cinema Club’s crowning moment is a realisation of everything they’ve been promising for years.
WORDS: JAMIE MUIR. PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
Inclusivity, Tegan & Sara reign at The Roundhouse + Alex Lahey The Roundhouse, London
f you told Tegan & Sara almost 20 years ago that tonight they’d be standing in London, a day before Valentine’s Day, serenading a sold out Roundhouse to over 3,000 devoted fans – they probably wouldn’t have believed it. Yet here we are. And in everything they do, there’s an inkling that this was always on the cards. In that timeframe the Canadian duo have built a cult following on being outsiders, of representing something aside from daily routines
of modern life and bursting with ultra light beams of passion and desire in the process. Tonight The Roundhouse doesn’t just bare witness to a shimmering collective moment of unity and joy but of a story that’s been heading in only one direction. It’s finally started reaching the stages it’s meant to be played out on. Alex Lahey is rightfully carving the origins of her own story. It’s one that stands front, centre and grabs attention from the first hook and is told with a wink and a charm that’ll make her an essential part of 2017 and beyond. Sounding like The Beach Boys would have if, instead of chilling on the beaches, they holed themselves in a garage with scratchy guitars and a Playstation, tracks like ‘Wes Anderson’, ‘Perth Traumatic Stress Disorder’ and ‘Every Day’s A Weekend’ make the vast space feel like you’re chilling in Alex’s living room. Between those home comforts and Alex’s down to earth tales of DJ-battling with her mum or being dumped in Perth, she’s a voice that people have to listen to. The moment Tegan & Sara hit the stage tonight, the doors are well and truly shut on the outside
world. Nothing but inclusivity flows. This is a band that has continued to influence and change lives across two decades of existence but tonight focuses firmly on their recent forays into the swooning synth-pop grooves of ‘Heartthrob’ and ‘Love You To Death’. Diving through eclectic cuts, the band reach and grab at the highest of heights and pull everyone watching closer at each turn. ‘I Couldn’t Be Your Friend’, ‘I Was A Fool’ and ‘Goodbye, Goodbye’ are taken to whole other levels live as the band, thriving with the swagger and confidence that comes with truly finding their sound and hitting their stride – become everything they were destined to be. Pausing for air to revisit ‘The Con’ serves as a gripping snapshot of how much this band means to people before they power into the certified slammers of ‘U-Turn’, ‘Boyfriend’ and the eruptive ‘Closer’. Amidst tears flowing in joy, shared stories of heartbreak and one overriding sentiment Tegan & Sara in 2017 aren’t just superstars, they’re everyone and every person. This is not just a show but an ‘I was there’ moment where pop crowned the latest seats of royalty.
ANY OTHER Q U E ST I O N S WITH...
THIS MONTH, CALLUM FROM BAD SOUNDS RUNS THE GAUNTLET OF OUR RANDOM, STUPID QUERIES. HELLO. HOW ARE YOU? Hiya. I’m good, thank you. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO TODAY? Working on ideas for our live shows. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT BEING A MUSICIAN? Errrrrm? Pass. WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE POP STAR? Awww man, it changes so regularly. MJ will always be up there tho.
happening then fully expect me to change my opinion on that). I think it would be dope if in the future someone else brings something out, and it references something we’ve done tho. Unless it’s shit. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Yeeeesh, how do you answer that? DO YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS? Ha! I can see Ewan rolling his eyes at me already. Yes, I think there probably is - or has been/will be - other life in the universe, which, is fucking massive btw. Maybe not “Aliens” but maybe “life”. Evolution takes a long time, and again, the universe is massive. I could talk about this for a long time, but I don’t want people to think I’m crazy.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? I can’t actually be sure, tbh. I remember Ewan’s was ‘Miss E… So Addictive’ by Missy Elliott. Mine was probs something v embarrassing… either Abba Gold or Limp Bizkit’s ’Chocolate Starfish...’. Two records that I wouldn’t recommend listening to b2b.
WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? Ewan smashes something every time he comes over. I have to give him plastic cups now.
WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE A NUMBER 1 SINGLE OR A NUMBER 1 ALBUM? I’m not too fussed about having a “Number 1” anything really (I say this now… if it ever comes close to
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Are these the questions from the end of Frank Ocean’s album?
WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE NEW BAND? Loyle Carner. I knoowwwww, he’s not a band.
IF YOU COULD BRING SOMETHING EXTINCT BACK TO LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Why can I only bring one thing back? Surely if I can do it, I can do it more than once, right? Can I trade a few species? Rats for Western black rhinos (definitely had to Google that but OBVS rhinos), Cockroaches for Sabretoothed tigers? Seagulls for Woolly Mammoths? Right? Deal. No takesies backsies. WHAT’S THE BEST SONG YOU’VE WRITTEN OR PLAYED ON? Seriously tho. Frank Ocean… is this you? HAVE YOU EVER WON ANYTHING? The hearts of a million beautiful laydeeezzzzz, ROFL ROFL ROFL ROFL. WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? I don’t really remember my dreams unless I’m ill, it’s weird. I had sleep paralysis for the first time about a month ago. I woke up from a freaky dream, couldn’t move, then
heard something come in through the bedroom door, then it felt like someone was slowly creeping onto the bed and onto my chest and I couldn’t breath. Then I woke up properly. That shit scared the bejeezus outta me. Haven’t had it since tho. HAVE YOU GOT ANY SECRET TATTOOS? Nope. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? 3. WHAT IS THE BEST PRESENT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? Aaah I can’t really remember, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do cards. I really hate them. But our Mum and Dad get kind of upset when I don’t get them one for Xmas/birthday or whatever. I once wrote “happy fathers day” on a banana and gave it to my dad. I don’t think I even bought the banana myself. I think I took from a fruit bowl in his house. At least he could eat his card after he read the heart felt message I wrote in (on) it. HOW DO YOU RELAX? I actually have no idea. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? Missing out.
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Featuring Blaenavon, The Big Moon, The Magic Gang, Creeper, Circa Waves, The Shins, Marika Hackman, Diet Cig, Bad Sounds, Black Honey, Pale...