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E D I TO R’S N OT E THE LAST FEW WEEKS HAVE BEEN HARD. Following the horrible events in Manchester last month, it’s been near impossible to feel anything is really that important. Not when compared with the lives of young music fans, targeted in a place they should be safe. But then, thinking like that - while understandable - just can’t be how we do things. Music is about collaboration and excitement. About refusing to be put down and always getting back up. That’s why, as a community, we need to keep on keeping on. Though as individuals it may be difficult and if it is, that’s okay - together music should be our solace. And so, here’s our latest issue. Though it may not mention what’s happened directly, that spirit of defiance runs through it all the same. We’ll see you down the front. Stephen Ackroyd, Editor (@stephenackroyd)
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SATURDAY 20TH MAY
THE MAGIC GANG DORK/ECHOCHAMP SHOWCASE
@ THE RICHMOND Rocking up to The Richmond, plugging in and kickstarting yet another mini revolution, The Magic Gang might as well just take over The Great Escape. Their immediate indie-hooks rise above any other throughout the weekend, meaning that no matter where they rock up the results are the same. Packed crowds screaming along to every sun-kissed note, pogoing bodies and an undeniable sense of pure joy, The Magic Gang’s portfolio of bangers is as breathtaking as they are essential - down to earth and in another world at the same time. Finishing up with the track that started it all (‘Alright’), The Magic Gang are capturing a moment in time before our very eyes.
bviously, if you’re reading this magazine, you’re probably Really Quite Interested in new music. And if you’re Really Quite Interested in new music, you’ll know that there are few better places on the planet to find it than at Brighton’s The Great Escape. The annual jamboree specialises in introducing the bands you’ll be obsessing about for the next twelve months, and this year it’s absolutely no different. Across tens of venues, hundreds of bands play over three packed days of both on and off-programme events. Almost every fresh voice you can think of is here, making the weekend the UK’s answer to SXSW. Except, really, it isn’t. Because The Great Escape isn’t anyone’s answer to anything. It’s its own festival. SXSW is great - don’t get us wrong - but it’s rammed to the rafters with commercial hook ups and established names. While you may get the odd act popping up that knows their way around, here potential is the name of the game. This year’s stars include everyone from Sigrid to The Magic Gang, The Japanese House to Girli. Over the next few pages, we’ll give you a potted guide to everything that went on. Strap yourselves in...
THURSDAY 18TH MAY Aussie wonders Middle Kids are a band you should put your money on. Judging by the packed Komedia floorboards on show, they’re well on their way to becoming the acclaimed darlings of alt-guitar worlds. It’s a spinning blend, that sounds like a band playing to each other in a garage that the world is now getting to peek into as well. ‘Never Start’ and ‘Edge Of Town’ are just the start, with one EP already sounding like a classic in waiting. If it’s all as good as today’s show, then we’re hooked. The heavens have opened. Brighton downpours aren’t like any other type of downpour, but when you climb up the stairs in Bleach to find Anteros, you know the forecast is about to switch up. Even for an early show,
the glam-soaked pop they deliver immediately sends the mind to late-night pomp. Whether it’s the dynamite punch of ‘Drunk’, the flicks of ‘Breakfast’ or the immediate charm of ‘The Beat’ - Anteros deliver a set of swagger that’ll make them bonafide superstars in no time. The rain stands no chance with these lot around. When Dead Pretties plug straight in at the back of The Black Lion pub, the shattering licks that emerge could put the foundations of it in serious jeopardy. A scuzz-laden shot in the arm - the howls, screams and intensity that radiates out is enough to pull everyone into their orbit, rattling the cages of ramshackle rock. It’s an onslaught that leaves an entire room breathless, and a feeling that Dead Pretties could just possess the sledgehammers to truly cause a stir in
THURSDAY 18TH MAY
the road ahead. The fuses are set with these lot. Following up the raucous Dead Pretties, Matt Maltese is an altogether different proposition - yet equally as captivating. Serving up a stunning statement of raw honesty, Matt’s voice rips straight to the core, the vulnerability of ‘No One Won The War’ silencing the room with eyes set firmly on every note and line he delivers. Packed with serenades of a modern age, ‘Vacant In The 21st Century’ and ‘As The World Caves In’ nestle effortlessly in a set that we’ll be looking back on in years to come in envy. The Paganini Ballroom is a majestic building of history and character, so it makes sense that Goat Girl unravel the rich portraits of their own with a distinctly modern nod there. Harking back yet distinctly of their own, the opening one-two of ‘Circus’ and ‘Creep’ immediately place the room in captive awe, with a sound that sounds both on-edge and powerful at the same time. It’s a performance that’ll have many following Goat Girl’s next move from here on out, with a set of immense anthems already under their belt. If there’s a name that’s been talked about the most in terms of acts to see down in Brighton this year, THURSDAY 18TH MAY
MARIKA HACKMAN PAGANINI BALLROOM
Marika Hackman wasn’t kidding about her new chapter. Every song tonight is taken from ‘I’m Not Your Man’ and every one is driven forward by a beaming self-belief. ‘Boyfriend’ is all daydreams and danger, ‘My Lover Cindy’ dances on its own while ‘Violet’ looms large over the room. Charged with fizzing electricity but never stepping back from the frontfacing invitation to get lost in the music, Marika is now an instigator, as well as an artist. It’s big, bold and bundles of fun.
WILL JOSEPH COOK WAGNER HALL
The crown prince of genrebending pop, Will Joseph Cook’s performance at this year’s festival is already a hub of ready-made favourites. It’s an accomplished ride through debut LP ‘Sweet Dreamer’, with Will embracing the stage with panache and charm delivering sweet licks like ‘Take Me Dancing’, ‘Girls Like Me’ and an appropriate ‘For Thursday’ all dazzling with a taste of summer hooks. Announcing that his birthday is on Sunday, Will’s Great Escape moment is the candles on the cake for sure. Grab a slice, because it’s bloody delicious. Sigrid’s is the one that jumps to mind first - and her evening set on the seafront at Coalition is nothing short of spectacular. Possessing the pose and presence of a superstar already, it’s an immediate hit-filled set that immediately wraps the packed crowd in Coalition into a frenzy. If there was any doubt as to Sigrid’s future, then tonight it’s chucked right out of the window - she’s going to take the world by storm, and she has the live show to back it up. Pop has never sounded so fresh For a band already renowned for being unmissable live, Shame’s set at The Haunt could easily have simply been a confirmation of what we’ve already seen. Instead, it’s a step-up of immeasurable levels, a band taking the phenomenal foundations and building a snarling mansion on top of it. Frontman Charlie Steen is a presence that has eyes firmly locked from the get-go, with latest number ‘Tasteless’ ringing out with a gritted tidal wave coming behind it. Only getting better, Shame are a band you need to see, and you need to see them now. So far, every slice of Pixx’s debut has come covered in glitter and pastel escape. The fury, aggression and confusion that crafted ‘The Age Of Anxiety’, painted over with a thin layer of positivity. Tonight, there’s none of that. It all comes charging forward as Hannah and her band
snarl about the place. ‘I Bow Down’ becomes a hypnotic promise of selfdetermination while ‘Waterslides’ comes full of warnings and sees Pixx at her flamboyant best. Twisting about the space, FRIDAY 19TH MAY the colours are emboldened and the big, beating heart leads the way. FRIDAY 19TH MAY
INHEAVEN DORK SHOWCASE @ THE
PRINCE ALBERT There’s special bands and there’s special moments, and at The Prince Albert on Friday night at The Great Escape, INHEAVEN fulfilled both of those promises. Scorching through favourites like ‘Treats’, ‘Vultures’ and ‘Baby’s Alright’, there’s already a feeling of iconic running through the air. Taking in sweaty high-octane pits that takeover the entire room and the floorboards literally creaking under the full force of their sledgehammer anthems, INHEAVEN paint a masterpiece of what your next favourite band looks like. Next stop, arenas.
Your New Favourite Band Sløtface have been busy this weekend. Six shows alongside their own karaoke party but nothing can dampen the spirits of this band. Yes it’s raining. No, no one cares. The band bring their own sunshine and it’s an infectious sort of beam. The equipment is playing up and they’re essentially playing in someone’s back garden but as soon as ‘Shave My Head’, ‘Empire Records’ or ‘Magazine’ kicks in, we’re taken away to a glossy, comingof-age movie where anything is possible and everything feels exciting. There are a lot of great bands at Great Escape but few moments feel as special as Estrons. It’s 3pm and Tali cannot believe people have turned up. “Shouldn’t you be at work or school,” she asks. This is a set not to missed though. The band’s steady stream of singles leading to this, a fiery and powerful thirty minutes of vulnerability, frustration and celebration as the band pour it out THURSDAY 18TH MAY
THE JAPANESE HOUSE WAGNER HALL
The midnight set could easily have been created specifically for The Japanese House. Full of dazzling electro grooves spanning across Amber Bain’s career to date, it’s a cleansing sight that manages to clear out any thoughts from the full day before it. There’s a real sense of occasion when ‘Clean’ dazzles into frame, with a set that showcases how touring around the globe and arena sets have built Amber into a truly undeniable live performer. Chilling, moving and real, by the time ‘Saw You In A Dream’ and ‘Face Like Thunder’ wraps things up The Japanese House has already won The Great Escape.
for a world that sits at a slant. ‘Drop’, ‘Make A Man’, ‘Strobe Lights’ all stand proud on their own but back to back, they elevate Estrons to wonderfully, miraculous heights. The mesmeric electronica that moves out of Norwegian/Dutch outfit Klangstof is nothing short of mesmerising on a Friday afternoon. A stunning soundscape of cuts from debut album ‘Close Eyes To Exit’, Klangstof’s set is a blissful moment of clarity in the midst of Brighton, and an invitation from a band to submerge yourself in the world they create. It’s sensational. When stepping onto the stage at a packed out Wagner Hall, IDER’s presence is an immediately enticing one. What starts as two figures behind their vast desks of electronics
NHEAVEN are in a victorious mood. It’s the morning after they took to the Dork stage at The Prince Albert, where they proved why they’re a band of seismic levels; one destined to grab the world by the scruff of the neck and give it a good talking to - all with unbridled euphoria and hands in the air moments galore. Nestled in the shrubbery of the VEVO Garden they’re about to play that evening it’s probably a good time to have a little post-match report? Hey, guys! So, the Dork stage last night went pretty wild - how did ya find it? James: Yeah it was amazing, it was… Chloe: SWEATY. SO SWEATY. James: Yeah it was very sweaty! What was it like coming back to The Great Escape after playing last year too? Could you see a difference there in how things have changed in the space of a year? Chloe: I would say that we’re more confident as a band now, Joe: Yeah definitely. There’s a natural progression from playing
lots and lots of shows, getting tighter as a band… James: And we didn’t have mosh pits last year! I think there was a queue outside the door wasn’t there? Chloe: Yeah there was! We knew quite a few people who couldn’t get in and were stuck in this huge queue, which is a great feeling! People coming to see you is amazing, so having that was something else! James: It really was, and it was a great stage. Ten Tonnes literally sounded like Ten Tonnes which was brilliant. It seems like you’ve had a busy ‘ol year so far, right? James: We haven’t stopped to be fair, first on that guerrilla tour we did to do headline shows in place we’ve never visited before. Then, of course, the Circa Waves tour where we shared a tour bus with them - which was our first experience of being on a tour bus and it was amazing. There was a lot of blokes and then Chloe! Chloe: I still enjoyed myself, so it must have been fun. James: And then there’s the album, which you might hear something about imminently… P
and beats, becomes a warm and shimmering spectacle of glistening pop melodies that are stuck squarely in your brain from the first listen. With only a handful of music out in the world, this is a band who have the potential to invade the charts yet remain the torchbearers of underground flourishes - a chemistry that builds between them but will slowly be experimenting its way to glorious results.
Queues spill far and wide out of the venue, but inside there’s a bombastic siren ringing around that can only come from Artificial Pleasure. Like a message from the past that breathes in the smell of 2017 with a wink and a chant, it’s a moment that throws all inhibitions out of the window. Don’t fight it, embrace it. Artificial Pleasure are the band bringing the unadulterated times back into frame. And we love it.
It’s official. The Jack Rocks Stage simply can’t contain one of the most refreshing forces in modern pop glory.
If you asked us to name a band who embrace being in a band more than King Nun, we’d be stuck. Closing out 7
THURSDAY 18TH MAY
SLØTFACE KARAOKE PATTERNS
Everyone has an opinion on festival headliners. Fresh blood, old classics, shut up and play the hits or give the die-hards what they want, it’s a debate that really signals the start of festival season and one that always remains unanswered. Until now. What every festival needs is an evening of Sløtface Karaoke. Taking nineteen of The Best Songs Of All Time (plus one by RHCP) and performing it to a room of excitable people at the stroke of midnight sounds like a recipe for disaster but it was glorious in its ridiculousness. Heroes are made over the course of a Natasha Bedingfield classic before they join the trenches to help blast out a slice of Bon Jovi. The band keep the wheels turning with a strict discipline to having a good time and really, what more could you want apart from one more song.
ramshackle night of Wheatus, Weezer, Green Day, Robyn, ABBA and Pat Benatar covers, Sløtface Karaoke saw the band hit Brighton with their best shot. Hello Sløtface, how are you feeling this morning? Yesterday you played what, a hundred shows? Haley: Four, but it was a long day. We just finished our early show today; we’ve got one left then we’ve done all of our Great Escape duties. It’s been really nice. Even though the weather’s shit, everyone’s been really positive and dancing a little in the rain, big smiles. Lasse: And lots of love. You ended the night with Sløtface Karaoke. How did that come about? Tor-Arne: I thought it was just going to be a karaoke machine and we were just going to sing until last week. We learnt the songs the day before yesterday, we were on the way from Bristol to Brighton, just writing down the chords in the van, and when we came to our friend’s where we’re staying, we just practised with acoustic guitars all day. Any surprisingly difficult songs? Tor-Arne: The difficult songs we just skipped or simplified. With
[Natasha Bedingfield’s] ‘These Words’, it’s a hard song to play with just guitar, bass and drums and to and sing so we ended up shouting: “Play the chorus again. Play the chorus again.” Haley: I thought it sounded good. We had so many groups of dudes up there singing Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beastie Boys and all of the college rock songs, so I said “We’re going to have two girls for ‘These Words’, and even though it’s a little bit awkward because they don’t really know the lyrics, we’re just going to do it.” Haley, what was it like watching your band instead of performing? Haley: It was so much fun. I felt kinda bad, but then I ended up running around a lot anyway, so it felt like I was doing a little bit of work. We had a system. By song three, the system had gone to shit. Every time I announced a song, I was trying to drag people up and running to go get the lyrics to get them back to the people, through the crowd, before the song had started. I had paper in my mouth. It was a little bit more work than I was expecting because I thought I was just going to watch a show last night, but it was fun. You guys did such a good job. Tor-Arne: Our system didn’t work either. We had fifty pages of chords, it’s not here, it’s not here. You have to dig deeper. Lasse: Eventually we found [Bon Jovi’s] ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. Tor-Arne: It’s so easy as well, it’s just three chords. P
the Paganini Ballroom in a sea of luminous colours, the ‘Nuns have an arsenal that would blow away most bands who’ve been around for years. ‘Tulip’ scratches its way across the room and ‘Sponge’ revels in swampy garagerock heights while pointing the band in only one direction. This is the band you need to see in 2017. Down with boring we always say, and King Nun are burying it for good.
Loa Loa are the newest of bands. There’s barely a handful of tracks floating around online but tucked away at Brighton Electric, they reveal themselves to be astoundingly great. Their music staggers about the place, love cats with a purpose, before deciding on a direction and jaunting forward with the conviction of a band who have been told over and over again that they’re something to believe in. Except, this all comes from within. There’s belief in the music, and rightly so, since every song is massive with a twinkle in the eye. Well, if you were looking directly into the future, you’d be sparkly too. Husky Loops are proper balmy. It doesn’t how many times you watch them perform, their fusion of everything and the kitchen radio never fails to bewilder and delight. It’s the early hours of Saturday morning and the three piece are finally set free. Without a time limit and faced with an audience wanting more, the established chaos tumbles into free-falling spontaneity. Tali from Estrons jumps onstage for a couple of songs and the band’s ‘Dead’ unfurls
into an unlikely disco anthem. “Are we weird enough?” they ask, challenging themselves for the next turn. SATURDAY 20TH MAY By Saturday, everyone is weary - but The Rhythm Method have the perfect pick-me-up in order. With a sound like no other that manages to blend The Streets/Squeeze and an added dose of Britney pop for good measure, their set on Saturday afternoon is a festival-stealer. Joey and Rowan trade in joyous hooks drenched in larger, a gritty reality to the uplifting beats and shines yet underneath is a raw soundtrack of modern Britannia. And when a set closes out with a slice of ‘Rock DJ’ then one thing is clear. The Rhythm Method are a band you simply need to experience, A glimmer of future guitar greatness, Sorry’s set in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday is a welcome insight into what’s ahead. Kicking and punching with an in-your-face rawness that immediately draws you in, there’s a sense that they could become something truly sensational. Ripping through a quickfire set of melodic grungy sharpness, this is a band that in twelve months will be everywhere, and because of that - their set in The Richmond is a snarling sneak peak into a band only set to grow and grow.
SATURDAY 20TH MAY
THE EAST WING Superfood MK 2 has caused quite a stir, but in their East Wing set they lay out just why it may be the smartest move they’ve ever made. Packing a cocktail of groove-licked hitters, there’s a potent gale that radiates out from them, with ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘I Can’t See’ just two of many fresh cuts getting an airing jumping through samples and infectious cries that pull together a true platter of influences. What you come away with is the sense that Superfood have an uncompromising belief in the samples and turns they’re now possessing, and by becoming bold and brave they may be on the cusp of something undeniable.
On this form, they’re a band that will succeed too. No matter what you may see over the weekend, one fact is clear. Crows remain live music’s best kept secret - with their set at The Richmond confirming just how essential they are. Lead by the enthralling aura of frontman James Cox, they tear the pub to pieces with a ride through their two EPs to date, along with a snapshot of new material too. Seas of bodies fly, words are screamed back and the night ends with James climbing the walls to dive on the packed crowd gathered. This is no ordinary gig, and just like that Crows steal the entire festival.
SATURDAY 20TH MAY
DREAM WIFE DORK/ECHOCHAMP
SHOWCASE @ THE RICHMOND Straddling the lines between pop and punk without ever getting close to New Found Glory, Dream Wife are ferocious. ‘FUU’ is pure fight music mixed with a douse of The Spice Girls, and while the band deal in sharp edges and steep angles, it’s performed in a spotlight reserved for the golden gods of pop. It’s part belief, part surrendering to their new world and it’s utterly mesmerising. ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ bangs the drum for their arrival while ‘Lolita’ twirls with a disco menace. They’re the most talked about band this weekend and for one very good reason. They’re incredible.
For a band that started out as simply a recording project, Eat Fast live in a fizzing realisation of every influence and sound they’ve ever created. Vestchested, they deliver scuzzy nuggets from across their two EPs with a glint that never diminishes throughout their blistering set. Sweat dripping off the ceiling? It can only mean one thing. Eat Fast are a band that refuse to slow down for anyone, and Brighton just witnessed why their next move is one not to be missed.
Off Bloom blend genres together like nobody’s business, but live and under the arches at Coalition, the trio are set on a throbbing club-infused party that you can’t help but be sucked into. Chiming across PC beats and intoxicating pop supremacy, their live show is an uncompromising journey across their various flicks and flavours, with recent single ‘Falcon Eye’ grabbing the crowd by the shoulders and refusing to let go. This is a set that doesn’t take them to the next level, it proves that they’re already there. Hometown shows are always going to be special, but Abattoir Blues’ set at Sticky Mike’s is something altogether more important. Shaking with intensity and urgency, frontman Harry Waugh leads the band through a set that dives right into the depths of darkness with a visceral realness that stares into the abyss and refuses to blink. Pouring everything into their set, they’re a band seizing the moment and grabbing attention, hungry to bring their post-punk heights to the masses.
irli’s Brighton stopover takes place in the middle of a tour with fellow Dork fave, Declan McKenna - and she’s got big plans for the months that follow. Hey, Girli. How’s the big ol’ tour going with our pal Declan McKenna? He’s epic, and his fans are really cool. It’s super fun and a wild ride. And for a backdrop you’re using a massive sanitary pad box, right? Yeah! Sadly that’s in Declan’s tour van right now. What do I do at every show? I throw sanitary towels out to the crowd. What can I have on stage as my DJ booth? Fuck it, let’s have a massive sanitary towel box that says ‘Girli. For a less stressful period.’ on it. People ask do I want to shock and in a way, not really. I want to tackle the stigma behind periods. I want people to see that and be like ‘Oh cool’ rather than ‘Oh what the fuck’. Periods are not gross, they’re normal. Periods are awesome. You’ve just released a new EP, right?
Rounding out The Great Escape is a tricky role, but Pumarosa have the majestic vibes to rise to that challenge and take it further. Queues pile along the seafront, but aside Coalition those who get in are treated to a stunning set of a band in the zone, serving up a break of fresh air just days after the release of debut album ‘The Witch’. Magnetic in their delivery, cuts like ‘Dragonfly’, ‘Honey’ and ‘Priestess’ surge in mesmeric fashion - feeling more like a celebration and a closing party than just another set from a packed weekend. Rich and cleansing, Pumarosa let the music do the talking. And after everything, isn’t that the most important point of all. P
Yeah, I dropped a new EP yesterday. We didn’t give any heads up, we just came out with the songs. We released ‘Not That Girl’ earlier this year I wrote ‘Feel OK’ last summer and Diztortion, the guy who produced the track, he’s sick, and we’ve worked on loads of stuff together. He works with Lethal Bizzle a lot, he heard the track and said he really wanted to be on it, so then Lethal Bizzle was on the song. We shot a video for that with all my mates in a ball pit. What’s next? Festivals and then planning another London headline show slash mini festival in London, for July. Then another EP coming. I’m playing some new songs in my set tonight. A lot of the new music that’s planned to come out, is already written. I’m constantly writing, if I wasn’t I’d be going fucking mental. There’s always new songs coming which is good but sometimes it gets annoying. ‘Oh my god, I have too many fucking songs.’ Having to whittle them down, because I’m thinking about an album as well, and argh. Why can’t albums be like thirty songs long instead of twelve, but I’m not quite Prince yet. P
SATURDAY 20TH MAY
GIRLI THE GREEN DOOR STORE
Part OMG, part WTF, in the big wide world of The Great Escape, Girli draws both casuals and converted alike. Not that the curious looks and sideways glances affect her hyper-active attack on the stage. Paired with DJ-slash-hype-woman, Kitty, the pair bounce, tumble and laugh about the stage. There’s just a handful of singles out in the world but every one has its own stark personality and takes charge of the space tonight. ‘Feel OK’ brings the sunshine before the curled lip promise of ‘Girls Get Angry Too’ is fearless in its intentions. Wonder where it gets that from. 9
Backstage at her Great Escape slot this month, our Amber is becoming a proper pop star. See more on readdork.com now.
Photo: Sarah Louise Bennett
THE GREAT ESCAPE, BRIGHTON
THE JAPANESE HOUSE
HERE COMES THE DRUMS J WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE: HAD A BAD BREAK UP, A FRIEND WHO’S TAKEN A DIFFERENT PATH, A PERIOD WHEN LIFE FEELS A BIT SUCKY. AS THE LAST REMAINING MEMBER OF THE DRUMS, JONNY PIERCE HAS FOUND THE PERFECT OUTLET. WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG.
onny Pierce is one of indie rock’s great survivors. In 2008, The Drums were four fresh-faced dreamers from New York City with the world at their feet. Now, nine years on, Jonny is the sole survivor - but that’s okay. With new album ‘Abysmal Thoughts’, the spirit of The Drums runs stronger than ever. “The last few years have been a real roller coaster ride, really colourful,” begins Jonny from the sanctuary of his treasured New York apartment. “There have been some wonderful times, but mostly difficult times.” Some of these came from the abrupt departure of the band’s other founding member and Jonny’s childhood friend, Jacob Graham, as well as the emotional break up of a relationship. Through adversity, though, came The Drums’ best record yet. Rather than wallow, Jonny was instead up for the challenge. “Good art typically emerges out of struggle. This was my shot to show the world what I’m made of left to my own devices. It’s a pretty scary thing, being the sole member of the band. It’s exciting to go for it and not have restrictions and not have to represent other people.”
It would’ve been easy for Jonny to consign The Drums’ name to history, but instead, this album sees him reclaiming the band as his vision and his passion. “I had always been the one writing and recording most of everything you’ve ever heard from The Drums. I felt like I’d be doing myself a disservice if I shelved the name and put out a solo record.”
Despite all the upheaval and uncertainty in the world right now, ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ isn’t a record driven by the sort of social activism in which Johnny is a prominent voice. “It was very much a ‘me me me’ album,” he laughs. “I was focusing on myself and trying to figure out who I was.”
‘Abysmal Thoughts’ is a sad album, but it’s also revelatory. For Jonny, it opened a whole new mindset. “I started to look inward, and the songs became more introspective,” he says. “This album turned out to be very therapeutic for me. On all the other albums, I felt like I was almost blaming other people for the problems in my life. This is me taking responsibility.”
Perhaps the band disintegrating allowed Jonny to feel re-energised and The Drums’ perfect indie pop to fully blossom. Describing their last album ‘Encyclopaedia’, Jonny paints a picture of apathy. “I was pretty comfortable, and life felt mundane, so I was just going through the motions.” Things now couldn’t be more different. “Suddenly my entire world is turned upside down.”
“I don’t think I would’ve explored myself if Jacob was still around,” he continues. “You’re immersing yourself and searching your heart. It’s a blessing in disguise.”
The effect of ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ and coming through all the dark times and all the doubt and despair has had a profound impact on Jonny. “For me it’s huge, it’s life changing,” he beams. “So many doubts have just fallen away. I’m craving making more music. I’m still in the spirit of being creative.”
‘Abysmal Thoughts’ came with a conscious desire to for Jonny to look at things a little bit differently. “I made the decision to be honest and open and make myself vulnerable,” he confesses. “I’ve had all these existential thoughts, and I’ve realised that the only thing that’s important is the human connection. That’s the thing that brings me joy.”
“THIS WAS MY SHOT TO SHOW THE WORLD WHAT I’M MADE OF.”
A big part of his creative
reawakening came from moving back to New York following a hard break up in LA. “I felt very alone so I returned to New York City and I sought some professional help and started a new phase of selfexploration,” he explains. Life was still full of doubts and uncertainty though. “When I was a little kid I would look at adults and think it’s going to be so nice to understand everything when I’m older. Now I’m like, why? Everything is a total mindfuck if you think about it for long enough.”
Through exploring himself and everything about The Drums, the songs on the album easily took shape. It’s one Jonny felt compelled to make. Through finding himself, he has set a new promising future. “This album showed itself to me. The art is pushing itself along, and you’re just going along for the ride.” P The Drums’ album ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ is out 16th June.
THIS THIS IS THIS IS THIS IS THISIS IS HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING
S U M M E R REYS At last! We finally have it! Lana Del Rey has announced the release date of her new album. We’ve known ‘Lust For Life’ was coming ‘soon’ for a while now – what with us already having heard new tracks ‘Love’, ‘Coachella – Woodstock In My Mind’ and ‘Cherry’, alongside the title cut. The rest will drop on 21st July.
H I TS H I TS H I TS Amber Arcades and Happyness are two of the acts just added to this year’s Visions Festival. They’re joined on the newadditions list for the event by Wolf Eyes, Holly Macve, Moor Mother, Marie Davidson, Cosmo Pyke, Matt Maltese, Puma Blue and Night Flowers, alongside the previously announced Liars, Jenny Hval, Blanck Mass, Benny Mails, Frankie Cosmos, Helada Negro, IDER, the Men, Noga Erez, Shame, Sophie, Zebra Katz and Goat Girl. Visions takes place on 5th August across various Hackney venues. Tickets are on sale now.
JACK GETS HIS WRITE(R) STRIPES Jack White is set to release a children’s book inspired by The White Stripes later this year. Titled ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’, it’ll be illustrated by Elinor Blake, who has worked on the likes of The Ren & Stimpy Show. Charting the adventures of Suzy Lee and her friend – who also appear in the song – the book will be available from 7th November via Third Man Books.
“I saw a fin coming towards me...” LONDON-BASED TRIO YAK ARE BACK AFTER A DEBUT THAT WAS A HIGHLIGHT OF 2016. CURRENTLY HARD AT WORK ON ALBUM NUMBER TWO, OLI BURSLEM AND CO. ARE GETTING UP TO MISCHIEF IN THE STUDIO AHEAD OF A HEADLINE TOUR LATER THIS YEAR.
You guys have just announced a bunch of tour dates for later this year - does this mean the end of recording your second album is in sight? We will be releasing something in October time to coincide with the tour, but recording for the album is still ongoing. We have very high expectations and want to make sure that we are happy before releasing anything. Where have you been writing and recording? We have been writing it all over the place... UK, Europe, Japan, Australian, New Zealand. We even managed to pop to Kevin Parker’s studio with Jay Gum Watson in Perth, which was fun. Can you let us in on any in-thestudio gossip? Have you been having fun? Yeah, it’s always a laugh hanging out.
In Perth, we managed to grab a swim most mornings before getting down to it. On one occasion I swam out to a pontoon when I saw a fin coming towards me... I freaked thinking it was a shark but turned out to be a dolphin. Classic Brit abroad. Never swam so quick in my life… Has the album shaped up to be everything you thought it would be when you started? Still, bang in the middle of it so all I can say is that it won’t be a disappointment. We are so proud of our debut it was always going be hard to top it, but I’m confident it’s the best stuff we have ever done. How many 10/10 bangers are on this one? 14!!! Was there anything you learnt
when recording your debut that was especially handy when approaching your next one? Turn it up and give it leather! How do you view your debut now you’ve a bit of distance from it? Have your feelings towards it changed over time? We love it. We set out to make the best guitar-based record for years, and I believe we did it. Album and touring aside, what else have you got planned for over the summer? Making the record. Finally - recommend us some new bands? Not a new band, but the new Gnod record is killer. P Yak tour the UK from 4th October.
DO YOU WANT TO (JOIN OUR BAND?) Franz Ferdinand have added a couple of new members to their line-up. Posting on Instagram, the band introduced Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie, who join following the departure of guitarist Nick McCarthy last year.
Bardot was previously with fellow Scots the 1990s, while Corrie has performed as Miaoux Miaoux. You can check out the announcement photo (left) for some brave hair choices from the original trio.
PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT
“MUSIC SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL.”
LA-BASED TRIO LANY HAVE BEEN RACKING UP FANS LIKE FEW ELSE. IT’S BEEN A BIT OF A SURPRISE, SAYS FRONTMAN PAUL KLEIN. WORDS: BEN JOLLEY.
erforming a One Direction cover at the end of a solo support gig was the moment soon-to-be LANY frontman Paul Klein realised going it alone was not what he’d hoped. “I just thought, ‘I don’t ever want to do this again. If I’m going to do music I’ve got to do it with people because this just sucks’,” he remembers, having moved to Los Angeles.
Emails started flooding in from Polydor, Parlophone and Island Records, each showing interest and asking for more music. “I was pretty sure they were spam,” Paul laughs. “I didn’t think they were real at all. I hadn’t even heard of Parlophone or Polydor – that’s how unfamiliar I was with record labels.” While the interest was there from the start, he still can’t compute how everything snowballed so quickly.
Several years later and, having returned to Nashville to make music with friends and now-bandmates Les Priest and Jake Goss, Paul is the vocalist and lyricist of effortlessly cool pop/R&B trio LANY. “I called Jake and asked if I could fly to Nashville to see what we could come up with. And if it was cool then maybe we’d start our own band.” It turned out to be one of the most important calls Paul would make.
“It’s really fascinating because we had zero followers on our SoundCloud page. I don’t know how people found us. It’s a mystery,” he considers, adding that their profile photo was originally of American basketball legends Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. “We were so anonymous in the beginning that a lot of people in Europe thought that that was us…”
Within just six days of putting their first tracks online, the three-piece started getting record deal offers from some pretty big names in the industry. “It just took off, almost immediately,” Paul recalls, having just been woken from his bunk on the tour bus. “Not that we were reaching millions of people, but we were reaching the right people.”
It only takes a few seconds of listening to LANY to understand why their infectious, luxurious blend of R&B-infused pop – especially woozy breakthrough ‘ILYSB’ – has such a mass appeal; so appealing, in fact, that their tracks have been played more than 100 million times on Spotify. At the heart of their stylish sound, though, is one ever-present topic. “We write love songs – good love or bad love,” Paul details. “They’re all
coming straight from my brain, my life and my experiences. Lyrically, it’s like opening up a journal or diary of mine, and me letting you in.” Though it’s sometimes not so obvious, often masked by their dreamy synth-led exteriors, there’s a sense of pain and upset at the heart of LANY’s music. “I guess when you listen to them most of the songs are pretty heartbreaking,” Paul reflects. “I think music should make you feel, first of all,” he suggests. While he knows some people will dance to their songs, he explains there’s a deeper side. “Some people will cry to it; the songs don’t feel depressing, but they’re not like super happy. I think people connect to that.” Fast forward to 2017 and LANY are on the cusp of releasing their self-titled debut album, having played 117 shows across 12 countries in the last year alone. Written over 15 months alongside their endless touring schedule - by the end of this year they’ll have done another 150 gigs Paul says “it’s a taken a bit, but it’s all worked out nicely. Showing up to play sold out shows and seeing thousands of people turn up in the middle of nowhere, it just hits you.” Rather than writing and recording on the road, their time away from the stage is mainly spent trying to
catch up on sleep, travelling or doing interviews. Instead, the trio waited until they had a break from constant gigs to get back around the computer and flesh out ideas. “The second we would get off the road, we would dedicate all our time to it,” Paul recalls, adding that they travelled back to Nashville for 13 days in 2016 to properly focus on the album. “We turned everything off, put our heads down and went for it,” he recalls. Although it’s taken some time, LANY were never willing to rush anything out. “It was important for us that our debut album wasn’t just a culmination of our best songs off our EPs, it would just feel so anti-climatic,” Paul reveals, deep in thought. “And we believe in the songs, we worked our asses off,” he enthuses. “I think it’s our best work.” But what is it about LANY that has sent them so stratospheric? “I would hope that it’s because the music’s good first of all,” Paul pauses… “And that it comes across as being pure and honest. I think that’s something that people appreciate. And they know that everything they see and hear from LANY is coming from the three of us – no-one else. Hopefully, that’s easy to fall in love with.” P LANY’s self-titled debut album is out 30th June.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF...
VANT STARTING THE DAY RIGHT WITH A BOWL OF LUDICROUS PORRIDGE.
8AM - 11AM I tend to have a three-hour
waking window as I don’t set an alarm and have no consistent bedtime/sleeping pattern. For argument’s sake, let’s say I woke up at 9AM today. I’ll make a coffee and some kind of ludicrous porridge (usually oats, coconut milk, peanut butter, honey, flaked almonds, poppy seeds, pecans, banana, blueberries and water) or other fancy breakfast (it’s my speciality) to keep me going for as long as possible, provided my house-mate hasn’t stolen any vital ingredients of course.
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS’ 2000TREES PLAYLIST
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS ARE ON OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS YEAR’S 2000TREES BILL - BUT THEY’RE NOT THE ONES. BASSIST DECLAN HART RUNS THROUGH SOME OF HIS FAVES.
Hi! I picked a load of songs from bands playing 2000 trees that I think mean something to LTA and some that I just like. Simple as! Check it out. DECADE - DAISY MAY These guys are a great band and great friends of ours. We’ve toured together a couple of times before, and this song is their banger so check it out. MILK TEETH - OWNING YOUR OKAYNESS In this song, I really like how the band have developed their sound. HUNDRED REASONS - I’LL FIND YOU Hundred Reasons were the kings of British rock when I was in school. Mike and I actually had the pleasure of being interviewed by Colin Dorian about 4-5 years ago which was a quite a weird/ surreal but at the same time very cool moment for us.
JAMIE LENMAN MISSISSIPPI This guys old band Reuben had a massive influence on us growing up, and their first record was a really big deal to us and still is. I think it’s safe to say without Reuben there would be a big part missing in the LTA sound. STRANGE BONES - GOD SAVE THE TEEN Strange Bones are a sick new punk band, and I believe Ben [Sansom, LTA guitarist] actually worked with these guys producing a few tracks. 2000trees takes place from 6th-8th July. Visit twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk for all the info.
10AM I read the news and digest social
media/email related stuff, then I call my manager and spend 5% of the call talking about important shit and 95% of the call talking absolute shit. 11AM Usually, I attempt to learn some
piano or procrastinate with some sort of mind-expanding documentary, film or TV series. I very rarely watch anything fictional these days. Documentaries are a good way of researching subject matter for lyrics, everything else feels like a waste of time.
persuasive drunk people encouraging more debauchery, 10% of me is bored 20% of me is tired & wasted, but crucially 45% of me knows that I might be really creative when I get home. MIDNIGHT - 6AM I’ll have a smoke, drink some wine or whiskey (I’ve developed a pretty stupid collection over the last couple of years) and write some lyrics and melodies using an unplugged electric guitar. I find I write better and more profoundly when I’m in a different head space and all of the research and information I’ve absorbed during the day seeps out of me in a completely natural way. I do write sober a lot of the time as well but it’s always a little bit more square, and it’s never as honest. I spend a lot of the next day trying to decipher what the fuck I’ve played, mumbled or written into my phone but the process is always worthwhile.
You can probably see why I don’t set an alarm now… P
1PM Homemade soup or salad. I fucking
1:30PM Gathering thoughts from the
night before and manipulating them into solid ideas. Demoing is the most important/time-consuming part of my day at the moment, I’m building a catalogue of new material for the second album and depending what I have planned for the evening this will usually be the rest of my day’s activities, except for some exercise and of course food later on. If I’m not working, I’ll usually go to an exhibition, museum or on a long walk with my girlfriend, Alice or if we’re really lucky, we’ll fuck off somewhere on holiday for a couple of days. 7PM On this beautifully fictitious day,
however, I’m looking for inspiration. I’ve gone out for a nice meal with Alice, we tend to try somewhere new due to the ludicrous amount of restaurants in London, but our favourite places are Rasa, Mildred’s or Morito. 8PM I’ll meet up with a few of my friends,
which often includes one or more of the ragamuffins you are already familiar with Billy, Henry or Greenie and we’ve gone to a pub or gig. I’m notorious for sneaking off without saying goodbye when I’m drunk. 25% of me can’t deal with
C I T Y G U I D ES : THIS IS THIS IS THIS THIS IS THISIS IS HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING HAPPENING
P U M A ROSA A RE O F F O N TO U R
CLEAN CUT KID
Pumarosa are off on tour this winter, in support of their justreleased debut album ‘The Witch’. The band will visit Dublin, Brighton, Oxford, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and London, heading out on 24th November.
T E AS I N G L I A RS Liars are back, and teasing a new album due for release in August. The band have released five clips – which you can watch on readdork.com – with more set for release across the summer. The band have already confirmed for a bunch of live dates this year, including Visions on 5th August and Green Man on the 19th.
O U R B E AU T I F U L N E I G H BO U RH O O D Neighbourhood Festival has announced its first wave of acts for 2017: leading this year’s bill are Peace, Rat Boy, Billie Marten, Black Honey, JAWS, Superfood and The Amazons. Elsewhere there’s Bad Sounds, Bloxx, Demob Happy, Estrons, HMLTD, IDER, INHEAVEN, Ten Tonnes and The Orielles. The Manchester festival takes place on Saturday 7th October, across 11 venues.
BANKS IS CASHING IN WITH A NEW TOUR Banks is returning to the UK this autumn for a run of shows. Following up on her second album ‘The Altar’, which was released last year, she’ll play dates in Birmingham, Manchester and London this October.
O N L I V E RP O O L EVELYN HALLS PICKS OUT HER FAVE HANGOUTS FROM CLEAN CUT KID’S BASE OF OPERATIONS, LIVERPOOL.
iverpool is class. It draws you in, and even if you leave, you end up coming back - and staying for good! That’s what happened to me anyway. It is a city full of creative, friendly and open-minded people. Anytime something new is built they try and keep some old element of the building so even though it’s a constantly growing city, it keeps a ‘days gone by’ kinda vibe. There are speakeasy bars, microbreweries, boss venues and independent galleries - it’s a really cool place to live, and I immediately feel home the second I’m back off tour. The music and art scene is so special here because no one is expected to fit into any boxes. Yes, there is a ‘mersey’ sound, and it’s lovely - but it’s not what dominates the scene. There’s a huge array of music and art being made, and I think that’s what draws creative people here. Clean Cut Kid wouldn’t be what it is today without the freedom and support we felt coming from the scene. Here are some other things that make Liverpool great.”
BOLD STREET COFFEE
It’s been holding down the fort as the best coffee in town since it set up shop seven years ago. Arguably the coolest place to hang out, many a promoter, artist and freelancer use it as their ‘office’. The best coffee, the nicest staff and always impeccable music taste. We’ve hosted a few gig
nights there, and it’s the first stop when we get back from tour. Long live BSC!
PARR STREET STUDIOS
One of the very few studios of a dying breed up north with a huge live room, analogue gear, Neve desk, huge vibe and heritage that doesn’t really exist in newly built studios. We recorded our first two singles there, and it’s seen some massive bands and exciting up-and-comers walk through its doors including Coldplay, Elbow, Everything Everything, The Verve, Blossoms… the list’s bloody massive and well impressive!
Our mate Billy Kelly is well-known around the city for being one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, but he’s also known for his shop and clothes brand DefClub. You might have seen us wearing his stuff anytime we’ve been filmed or seen some stickers on our gear. It’s so good. His shop is on Victoria Street in the same building as our practise room, which is dangerous when we have time and money, but so depressing when we’re rushing past and can’t pop in. Never left there with anything less than a bag full, and the nice guy he is; I’ve never had to hand over more than a tenner. Loads of bands in Liverpool wear his gear, and you’ve probably seen him play in one of his many bands as well! Go check it: defclub.co.uk.
A couple of years ago a venue called Camp and Furnace popped up over the side of town nobody really ventured towards. Then a really cool bakery/coffee shop (Baltic bakehouse), then another venue (Constellations), until soon there was so much stuff going on in this once ‘industrial’ area it started to become somewhere people didn’t NOT go. Opposite the old Cains brewery, it’s an area called The Baltic Triangle, full of rehearsal rooms and art studios (Elevator Studios), cafés and creative spaces (Unit 51) and tucked away bars and clubs (Botanical Garden)... with a skate park thrown in the middle.
If you’ve been anywhere in Liverpool, you’ll have probably seen this famous pink paper! They’re a monthly magazine about Merseyside’s creative community, and they’re all about promoting the local scene and making it as strong as it can be.
Recently changed their name from Lying Bastards to get past silly national radio barriers, but thankfully they’ve kept everything else the same. They remind me of The Black Keys, and they’re a bunch of proper sound lads who play some pretty wild shows. I think they’re gonna be big… even if they do accidentally burn down the odd venue or break every limb doing it! See them live; it is excellent. P
DORK PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT
THEY SAY IT IS A LEGEND.
BLISSFIELDS 6TH - 8TH JULY 2017
METRONOMY! SUNDARA KARMA! THE JAPANESE HOUSE! SHURA! PUMAROSA! WHAT A LINE-UP.
Blissfields is another festival that gets the Dork stamp of approval this year: we’ll be heading over to check out some of our fave bands, spacious camping and something called ‘The Hidden Hedge’, which is worth it just for the name tbh.
Japanese House, Black Honey and Pumarosa. That’s three former Dork cover stars, and one 5* album right there.
Also in attendance will be headliners Metronomy and The Cinematic Orchestra, along with Shura, Sundara Karma, The
Blissfields will take place from 6th – 8th July in Hampshire, with tickets on sale now. Visit blissfields. co.uk for info n stuff.
The line up isn’t complete yet either, so stay tuned.
UPCOMING SHOWS + FESTIVALS
Keep up with all our festival coverage this year at readdork.com/festivals, and catch all the festival news, previews and more from around the world in the Dork Festival Guide - issue two is out now via all our usual stockists, or order direct from readdork.com.
J U LY 6 T H -8 T H
B L I SS F I E L DS
M ET RO N O M Y, S U N DA R A K A RM A , S H U R A , T H E JA PA N ES E H O US E , P U M A ROSA , B L AC K H O N EY + M O RE W I N C H EST E R J U LY 28 T H
H O N EY LU N G
ESQ U I RES , B E D FO RD AU G UST 10T H -12 T H
H U S K Y LO O PS
J U N E 10T H -15 T H
W I L L I E J H E A L EY
U K TO U R T H E C O O K I E , L E I C EST E R ( 10) , T H E S E B RI G H T, LO N D O N (12), T H E BO I L E RO O M , G U I L D FO RD (14), T H E J O I N E RS , SO U T H A M P TO N (15) J U LY 1 ST
D ES P E R AT E J O U RN A L I ST
P U RP L E T U RT L E , RE A D I N G 18
U K TO U R G RE E N D O O R STO RE , B RI G H TO N (10), ACT RESS & B I S H O P, B I RM I N G H A M (11), ESQ U I RES , B E D FO RD (12) AU G UST 10T H -12 T H
L E E F EST
W I L D B E ASTS , F I C K L E F RI E N DS , BA D SO U N DS , F I S H , S H A M E + M O RE N E A R T U N B RI D G E W E L LS FOR MORE INFO, TICKETS AND MORE, HEAD TO READDORK.COM/SHOWS
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM DAFT PUNK IS PLAYING AT MY HOUSE
LCD Soundsystem aren’t lacking in their fair share of bangers. When it comes to selecting one track to join a ‘normal’ hall of fame, any sensible person would automatically jump to ‘All My Friends’. One of the most important (and best) songs of the last twenty years, it’s the obvious choice. But here, Dear Reader, we are talking about bangers - and if you want a banger, you want something different. ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ may be near to a scene standard, but it can do what so few calling card moments still manage - that punch to the gut of sheer, unadulterated excitement. Those two opening blasts say more than any lyric ever could. The party is really starting now. You may as well surrender, because this is happening regardless. Encapsulating a whole era of perfect dancefloor classics, ‘Daft Punk...’ sits in good company. But, from The Rapture’s ‘House of Jealous Lovers’ to Radio 4’s ‘Dance to the Underground’, all of them are fuelled by the raw power of James Murphy’s DFA. If they needed one song to lead the way, this would be it. Set ‘em up.
FIND MORE ON OUR CONSTANTLY UPDATED BRAND NEW BANGERS SPOTIFY PLAYLIST AT READDORK.COM
THE SYSTEM ONLY DREAMS IN TOTAL DARKNESS
There’s something impossibly exciting about a potentially great band in their first flourishes. Most have to wait years to find their true stride, but once in a blue moon, somebody will come along that smacks it out of the park from the word go. Perfectly formed but with room still to grow, it’s obvious they’ve got what it takes. Impossibly young for a fire that burns so bright, King Nun are one of those bands. They haven’t tempered their craft through a lifetime of toil. They were born brilliant, and they know it. Latest track ‘Sponge’ has it all. A sort of effortless swagger – a quiet confidence of four people who know the world is at their feet. It’s got all the tricks. From a lackadaisical lilt to an all out stomp, it’s yet another string to their fledgeling bow. When asking who the most exciting new bands on the planet are right now, King Nun are in with a shout. Give them that, and they’ll bring the house down.
A band can achieve nothing until they’re comfortable in their own skin. That’s
what’s so attractive about Sundara Karma. Under everything, there’s this confidence that they really could be the heirs to the indie throne. Because though there’s a rich vein of brilliant bands bursting through right now, few encapsulate that youthful energy coupled with cutting showmanship in the way Reading’s finest can. ‘Explore’, the first of three new tracks taken from a new reissue of their debut album ‘Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect’, shows those credentials off perfectly. A rattling, roaring jam, its lyrics scream of a band who are aware of their place in the chain. Death pop music makers assemble – we’re here to corrupt the innocent.
I CAN’T SEE
Superfood’s rules are different now. Previous single ‘Double Dutch’ suggested as such, but their second new cut ‘I Can’t See’ proves it. Their DNA remains the same – the baggy spaces and woozy charm – but between debut album ‘Don’t Say That’ and now they’ve stripped down the engine, cleaned up the parts and put it back together to make something fresh. As a teaser for that forthcoming second album, ‘I Can’t See’ isn’t the demand
Some things, they just are. While it’s logic that can be applied to many wildly differing scenarios, it’s especially true when it comes to something of true quality. A tactile, inherent thread that runs right through the DNA that sets it out as the real deal. That’s what The National are built on. They always have been. ‘The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness’ is in many ways a subtle
for attention we’d normally receive, hand delivered with a sense of darting urgency. It’s, for want of a better word, chill. Really, really chill. And, as the sun raises its weary head and the skies brighten, it works. Superfood have always been a band channelling their own vibe, but here they’ve found the essence of what makes them unique. Committed to nothing but themselves, it’s that quiet confidence that proves this is one rebirth not born out of desperation but the necessity to be true to themselves.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
CUT TO THE FEELING The rules of pure pop play differently to those of other music. While some may pretend that the obtuse suggests quality, the truth is if a track isn’t going directly for the prize, it’s basically chickening out. One thing you could
revolution for the band. From its ‘Especially For You’ ooohs to its Legitimate Actual Guitar Solo, there are elements that you wouldn’t associate with The National. But then, there are others which could only be them. That wistful tone, that uniquely comforting vocal – you don’t find that anywhere else. It’s the pulpy texture that makes this both a band for connoisseurs, and legitimate big hitters. A definable magic that’s impossible to replicate. But then, why would we want to? Some things, they just are.
never accuse Carly Rae Jepsen of is being a wuss. ‘Cut To The Feeling’ is that most beautiful of things - a pure, unadulterated, shameless pop banger. For an artist that’s already got a gold gilded reputation for ‘this kind of thing’, it still represents something special. Just in time for the summer, if your mix isn’t packing this, you’re basically really, really boring.
Francobollo may be pondering ‘Worried Times’, but they’re afraid of having a bit of fun on the way. In fact, they’re positively encouraging it. Infused with a sense of joyous abandon that Super Furry Animals would be proud of, they’ve found a magic formula that manages to be many things at once. Loud, quiet, euphoric and immediate, it’s a dodecahedron of emotion. Picking just one side would be missing the point. 19
RADIOHEAD ( MIGHT ) PLAY TWO NIGHTS AT MANCHESTER ARENA At the time of going to press, Radiohead’s double header in Manchester is still scheduled to go ahead. Following the horrible events of the last month, though, there’s understandably every chance they could be moved or postponed. Keep your eyes peeled for news. Our thoughts go out to all those affected.
BLINK-182 START THEIR UK TOUR Pop punk royalty are landing in the UK this July, with Blink-182 set to embark on a huge arena tour. With the deluxe reissue of their post-DeLonge fulllength ‘California’ featuring a massive eleven new tracks, they’ll have a lot to show us.
FESTIVAL FRENZY Both 2000trees and Blissfields kick off today, along with a whole bunch of other amazing festivals. Pack up your tent, make sure you’ve got those wet wipes, and get yourself into a field of fun.
BLEACHERS HIT LONDON Jack Antonoff is basically a pop genius. He’s worked with all the greats. You can read a massive interview with him later this issue, or go see Bleachers take on London’s Bush Hall this July. Or do both. We’d do both.
THE 1975 PLAY TRNSMT The 1975 are winding up their second album with a few select festival appearances this summer. Today they play TRNSMT effectively Scotland’s new replacement for T In The Park while it takes some downtime. They’ll also be playing Latitude later this month (more on that later). Catch them while you can - they’ll be off to work on third album ‘Music For Cars’ after.
HAIM’S ALBUM IS OUT. FINALLY! We’ve been waiting long enough, you know. Finally, Haim drop their second album ‘Something To Tell You’ is out today. Presumably it’s about all the things they’ve been buggering about with while we were kicking our heels.
DEC THE HALLS No, it’s not Christmas, but it ma as well be - Declan McKenna is releasing his debut album ‘What Do You Think About The Car?’ today. Sure to be a fizzbanging success, it’s arriving just in time for repeated summer spins.
MURA MASA’S DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT Modern pop music has no shortage of heroes, but Mura Masa has something to add to the conversation with his self-titled debut album, released today. He’s not doing it by himself, though. With a cast of all star collaborators including everyone from Charli XCX to Damon Albarn and Christine and the Queens, it’s one of the most anticipated full-lengths of the year so far.
Y- NOT DO Y- NOT? Well, maybe because if you haven’t got tickets already, it’s already sold out. This year’s Y-Not Festival plays host to Two Door Cinema Club, The Magic Gang, Sundara Karma, Declan McKenna, Honeyblood, Superfood and loads more.
IT’S CITADEL TIME This year, the central London fest is playing host to Foals, who are promising a set packed with rarer cuts. Hopefully they’re still planning on deploying the megabangers, though. Nobody wants b-sides at a festival, lads.
BYE BYE SECRET GARDEN PARTY It’s the last ever Secret Garden Party this July, but rather than go out with a silent whimper, they’ve declared it’s a farewell up front and are planning a giant blow out to celebrate with a line up featuring Metronomy, Clean Cut Kid, Fickle Friends and more.
IT’S ALWAYS NICE TO BE NICE Fresh from inking with legendary label Roadrunner, Milk Teeth are set to drop the first of two new EPs today. Titled ‘Be Nice’, it’s packing the megabanger ‘Owning Your Okayness’ - a track that takes one of the most exciting new voices in UK rock and shifts them up three gears. If this is a sign of what’s to come, then we’re in for something really very exciting indeed.
Three bands you need to see at Latitude... Fleet Foxes
With a brand new album out, it’s hard to think of a better setting anywhere on the planet for Fleet Foxes near-spiritual organic treats. Closing down this year’s event with a headline set, it’s sure to be something really quite special.
And if special is what you’re into, Marika Hackman in the Sunrise Arena is sure to deliver. Nestled away within a forest, it’s one of the most breathtaking stages on the festival circuit.
Yeah, obviously we’re going to be going there. The 1975 are festival headliners now. Their Latitude set isn’t just one of the must-see moments of the festival - it’s a standout for the whole summer, and a sign of things to come.
INCOMING THE ALBUMS YOU SHOULD BE EXPECTING.
PV RI S Title: All We Know Of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell Due: 4th August With their debut, PVRIS set themselves out as rock’s next biggest thing. With that status already in the bag, their second full-length looks set to break through to be something all together more important.
G RI Z Z LY B E A R
NO SHEEP ‘TIL LATITUDE
One of the highlights of the festival season, Latitude is back with a killer line-up perfectly suited for a weekend by the lake, in the trees, near some coloured sheep. rue fact, you’re not allowed to mention Latitude unless you first mention coloured sheep, but there’s far more to the mid-July extravaganza than some brightly sprayed farm animals. Packing one of the most diverse and interesting set of arts beyond Glastonbury, there’s no secret as to why the Norfolk festival has established itself firmly on the A-list. But while you can find amazing comedy, literature, theatre, film and more around the idyllic site, it’s still music that’s the real star. This year is no different.
In fact, it may be more true than ever before. When it comes to headliners, few festivals book better for their environment than Latitude. If there was one festival The 1975 should be topping the bill at, it’s this one. Their amazing light show will look even more brilliant here. Joined by Mumford and Sons, who will be curating part of the line-up as part of their Gentlemen of the Road project, and Fleet Foxes, it’s not just a case of any three big acts. This lot have been hand picked for the occasion. It’s not just a top heavy bill, though. Elsewhere there’s The Horrors, Mystery Jets, Two Door Cinema Club, Glass Animals, Lucy Rose, Ride, The Japanese House,
Title: Painted Ruins Due: 18th August We’ve been waiting long enough for another record from Grizzly Bear. Their last, ‘Shields’, was released way back in 2012. Five years on, they’re giving us ‘Painted Ruins’. From what we’ve heard so far, it may have been worth the wait.
Formation, The Lemon Twigs, Declan McKenna, Loyle Carner, Forest Swords, Marika Hackman, Sigrid, Honeyblood, Sunflower Bean, Temples, All We Are, HMLTD, Shame, Dream Wife, The Magic Gang, Matt Maltese and loads, loads more Add to that the chance to go swimming in the famed Latitude lake, and quite possibly the best selection of food trucks of the summer, and you’re on to a winner. Latitude takes place between 13th and 16th July in Henham Park, Southwold. Tickets are on sale now. But really. Let’s be honest here. Coloured sheep! P
FA L L O U T BOY Title: M A N I A Due: 15th September If you’ve heard lead single ‘Young And Menace’, you’ll know Fall Out Boy are playing well outside of their lanes. But love it or loath it, the most wtf track of 2017 so far is also one of the most exciting. They’re not playing by your rules. Even letter spacing is up for grabs now.
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@elliecrowsell: The election on the 8th of June is a vote between the fair and the unfair.
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LETTER OF THE MONTH BEST NEW MUSIC
HIYA DORK! I’ve just got back from Live At Leeds, and I’m pretty darn excited, let me tell you. How many amazing new bands were there this year? It was impossible to catch them all, but The Magic Gang, King Nun, Get Inuit, The Big Moon, Dream Wife, VANT, Idles, Fickle Friends, Black Honey - there were loads! This is the best ‘the scene’ has been in years. Dan, Leeds
Dear Dork, I’m off to Glasto in a couple of weeks. I’ve never been before. Do you have any tips? Eve, Ipswich Well, Eve. How do you like mud? It looks lovely now, but come late June you can bet it’ll find a way to rain. A lot. Maybe consider taking some form of inflatable raft? Otherwise, try to take in as much as you can, and don’t let yourself just go and see the same old bands all the time. Take risks. Go see Shaggy.
Dear Dork Seriously, how good is that Paramore album? Sian, Dorset WE TOLD YOU SO. Let’s face it, Paramore weren’t exactly slouches before, but this is like a whole different band. Check out our review later this issue for the full verdict. ‘Rose-Colored Boy’ = megabanger. 22
You’re not kidding, Dan. If we were looking for a great way to kick off festival season, Live At Leeds gave us it. All our new faves were there. And even better, they’re going to be all over the place this summer playing other ace places too. The thing is, there’s always a load of new bands who feel like they fizz with potential, but this lot - they do feel a little bit different. It’s not a load of disparate buzz acts who you can’t see ever getting a spin on Big
SO, WHAT’S THIS ABOUT THEN?
Without warning, a couple of weeks ago, Wolf Alice started sending out postcards to fans. There were loads of different ones, each with a different title,
Radio - they’ve got genuine potential. And - AND! - they all fit together in one big scene too. That’s what’s really got our blood racing. Since The 1975 and Wolf Alice broke through, Planet Indie has been cooking up some really, really exciting bands. With most of them still to get round to their debut albums, that noise is only getting louder.
image and message. At the time of going to print, we don’t know exactly what’s going on - but we suspect the titles are songs, and the messages are lyrics. We’ve found eleven so far. Looks like that second album, right?
POSTCARD FROM THE FRONT LINE USUALLY, WE GET AN INDIE POP STAR TO SEND US A POSTCARD FROM THE ROAD. THIS MONTH, THOUGH, SOMEONE SEEMS TO HAVE FORGOTTEN (HI DECLAN!), SO IT’S A GOOD JOB A SET OF RETURNING LEGENDS SENT US ONE ANYWAY. THIS MONTH...
A WI ‘DOW TH N B T-S ORIN HIR G’ T!
Ellie Rowsell, Wolf Alice YES ELLIE. Okay, sure this whole election thing will be done by the time you lot read this, but more of this kind of thing, bands. @commoonicate: Music is a community, a safe space where we come together, be together & share. Despicable acts like this never have & never will change that. The Big Moon Following the terrible events in Manchester last month, so many bands and artists wanted to put messages like this across. Well said. @willjosephcook: Whenever I see someone wearing Beats headphones I assume they’re listening to Pitbull. Will Joseph Cook Suddenly it all makes sense.
PHOTO: DANNY PAYNE
HYPE ESSENTIAL NEW BANDS.
One of those songs was ‘Get You’, a tropically tinged beach pop track that will no doubt soundtrack BBQs and tinnies in the park all summer. “I think ‘Get You’ for me was the first thing that I heard out of all these different ideas that I was excited by and that made me think that I want to work at turning this into a full arrangement,” Toma continues. But even if it’s a track Star finds herself hyper critical of, being the first one they worked on properly together, it’s this track that got Toma more invested in the project beyond just having a bit of fun. Geowulf’s second single ‘Saltwater’, the first as a proper duo, then became the impetus for everything that came after. “Where ‘Get You’ didn’t really inform anything else,” he says, “‘Saltwater’ informed the following songs.”
D RE A M P OP DUO G EOWULF ARE BUZ Z I NG TH E I R WAY OVE R FROM D OWN UND ER. WO RDS: C HRI S TAY LOR.
eowulf are big travellers. Originally from Noosa in Queensland, Australia, the pair have moved around as band between Berlin, Gothenburg and London, with plenty of other countries ticked off on their maps too. But it’s most recently that they found themselves in Cornwall of all places. “I didn’t have a Cornish pasty, but Star did,” begins Toma Banjanin, the duo’s guitarist and producer. “She was disappointed; she took a risk, and it wasn’t good.” “I had a vegan one,” vocalist Star Kendrick explains. “I mean it wasn’t bad, but my sister got this epic cheese one, and I was like ‘Dammit!’” Of course, they weren’t just down there for the pasties, though that’s as good a reason as any to visit
Cornwall. The duo are currently in the process of recording their debut album, due out towards the end of 2017. “We were down in this old chapel, and it was just so inspiring,” he remembers. “We spent a whole afternoon writing. For two weeks beforehand I hadn’t been able to feel inspired to write lyrics and then in one afternoon, being in different surroundings, all this stuff came out that I was really proud of.” With close to eight tracks almost ready to go, and a few more planned out, their debut album has been in the pipeline for a while. In fact, the sketches began when Geowulf was just Star. The two met thanks to Toma’s girlfriend, who happens to be Star’s sister. “When Star and I first started working together, basically she’d just recorded a whole bunch of songs, or even just choruses and bits and pieces on her phone, and kind of bombarded me like, ‘Listen to this, listen to this. Have you listened to it yet?’” Toma explains of the duo’s origins.
Despite being keen travellers, the duo are now based in London, having signed to 37 Adventures, home to the likes of JONES and Krrum, after an A&R caught their first ever show. “I think Australia can be a little bit insular in some ways,” says Star, “so I think when we moved over here it was like okay, it’s a bit of a shit fight, but if you can do something here, you have a bit more access to Europe.”
ON ON THE THE GRAPEVINE GRAPEVINE N E W B E L L EV U E DAYS
Remember the EP Bellevue Days were teasing in the April issue of Dork? Well, it’s finally here! The follow-up to 2016’s ‘Sad Boy’, ‘Rosehill’ was recorded at Stakeout Studios, mixed and mastered by producer Jason Wilson (You Me At Six, As It Is, Don Broco), and is due for release on 4th July. Someone prep the fireworks.
WA H EY, L A H EY !
Alex Lahey is heading for the UK this November. Following up on supporting Tegan & Sara on their UK run earlier this year, our Alex will kick off her next stint over here at London’s Boston Music Room on 8th November. She’ll then take in dates in Bristol, Leeds and Manchester before finishing up at Glasgow’s King Tut’s.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of love for Australia still. “Australia is isolated, but creatively I’m so always so surprised, I suppose even proud,” commends Toma. “So much good stuff is coming out of Australia at the moment, so part of the benefit of the isolation is that people are creating more.” So with an album on the way, albeit one without songs about Cornish pasties on it, have they got a name yet? “I had a few drinks the other night, and I was on the bus and was like, ‘Actually I’ll write down some names, just on my phone in my Notes. I’ll try and think of some stuff’,” laughs Star. “I wrote a whole load of shit, and then I went for a coffee with a friend, and she was like, ‘Have you thought about where you’re going to call the album?’ So I pulled out my phone, and we were looking and laughing like, ‘Oh my god these are so lame!”” No name yet then but, with a whole stack of great tunes already, whatever they’re going to call this new album, it’ll be one worth keeping an ear out for. P
F I C K L E F RI E N DS A RE O F F O N TO U R
Fickle Friends have announced their biggest tour to date, which they’ll head out on this autumn. The band – who’ve not long dropped new single ‘Hello Hello’ – will head out on 6th October in Plymouth, for a run that culminates at London’s Kentish Town Forum. Fickle Friends also play loads of festivals over the summer, including Community, TRNSMT, Secret Garden Party, Kendal Calling, Standon Calling, Leefest and Reading & Leeds. Phew.
W ITH HE R DE BUT ALBUM J UST RE L E ASE D, A M E LI A MURRAY I S BREAKI NG
OUT OF HE R B E DROOM. WORDS: C HRI S TAY LOR.
t excites me, not knowing what I’m doing,” confesses Amelia Murray, the name behind Fazerdaze.
communicate my ideas; it’s a lot easier for me just to go and do it. It was nice to work at home with my one microphone, my one guitar, my MIDI keyboard and my laptop.”
A native of New Zealand, she released her self-titled EP in 2014, but it’s only with the release of ‘Lucky Girl’ earlier this year that Fazerdaze started to make to make a splash over here. It’s a captivating mix of happy and sad. The repetition of “I know I’m a lucky girl” throughout the chorus leaves room for ambiguity; it’s not quite clear if she’s celebrating the fact, or if she’s trying to reassure herself in a moment of crisis.
Fazerdaze has been lumped with the tag “bedroom pop”, much like Frankie Cosmos and Foxes in Fiction, but it’s a term she finds constricting. While an apt label in a literal sense, it’s a term that has become synonymous with a dreamy, lo-fi, carefree sound. “I don’t want to pigeonhole myself, and I hope ‘Morningside’ shows that there are a few more angles to what I’m doing than just effortless dream pop,” explains Amelia. “I wanna show there’s more to me than that.
Like many of her songs, it’s charmingly rough around the edges. It’s not polished, it’s not perfect, but then she never wanted it to be that way. “Fazerdaze is all about working it out as I go,” she explains. “It’s not a fully-formed, perfect product. It’s more about learning and inviting people to come and watch me grow and figure it out.”
“It’s great that I’ve managed to start something there, but I do want it to get bigger than my bedroom and experiment further. I don’t necessarily want to make just one style forever; like it’d be cool to do an instrumental album in the future.”
It’s why, for her debut album ‘Morningside’, she chose to keep everything quite close to home rather than head into a studio, something she felt she didn’t yet have the confidence to do. “My bedroom has been a safe space for me to figure it out. It just really worked for me and my personality. I find it hard to be assertive and
Ultimately, Fazerdaze is a chance for her to step outside of herself. “Amelia Murray is so boring! I’ve got student loans, and I’ve got bills to pay. But then when I make music for Fazerdaze it’s like I’m rid of all that. It makes me feel like I’m not just a loner in my bedroom, but maybe something bigger than that.” P Fazerdaze’s debut album ‘Morningside’ is out now.
ondon trio Honey Lung are grabbing attention with their dreamy, reverb-soaked shoegaze. “I grew up in Harrow,” starts guitarist and vocalist Jamie Batten. “I met a lot of musicians up Hertfordshire way, and I was in a couple of bands. There wasn’t much of a scene; it was pretty much dead. I [did get] involved a lot in the Kent scene, I’d go down and see hardcore emo bands.” With Honey Lung, Jamie knew he’d hit on something worth sticking with. “All the bands previous, I had always been the co-songwriter,” he explains. “I was still honing my songwriting. With Honey Lung, I was starting to write music I enjoyed myself, that I felt was mature enough for me to like.” It wasn’t long before they caught the eye of their current record label. “They picked us up after our third gig; it
was really weird.”
Honey Lung may only be in their early 20s, but their music encompasses all the golden nostalgia of the years when they’d have only been babies. “Most of the music I write is nostalgic to me,” Jamie laughs. “I’ve been into 90s music since I was like 15, so some of my favourite bands are Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement, Built to Spill, just really interesting guitar music.” “We’re moving away from that with our next single, and future recordings,” he adds. “We’re doing some pretty weird stuff. There’s a flute on the next track, and we’re thinking of getting a synth player. It’ll still be guitary, riffy and groovy, just with some different sounds. We’re not getting bored, but there are limitations to just having two guitars. It’s going to get pretty interesting.” P Honey Lung play a Dork show at Bedford Esquires on 28th July.
WITH A SOU N D ROOTE D IN TH E VE RY BEST OF 90S G RU N G E, H ON EY LU N G ARE PUTTIN G TH E IR OWN SPIN ON A WE LL-LOVE D G E N RE. WORDS: JASLE E N DH IN DSA.
O L B
T H RE E A L BU M S I N , A N D T H E RE ’S ST I L L N O OT H E R BA N D Q U I T E L I K E A LT-J.
us Unger-Hamilton is having his hair cut in a private members’ club off Soho Square, waiting for the rest of Alt-J to arrive. Later, the band will meet with a host of journalists who are flying in from the continent specifically to interview them. Most will fly back out of London tonight, having got their scoop on new album ‘Relaxer’. The band themselves have just got in from Paris sometime in the last twenty-four hours. Before that, it was a week or so in Australia, and before that, they spent about a fortnight in the States. Such is the life of a band whose debut went Platinum and netted them both the Mercury Prize and an Ivor Novello award. Then, of course, there was the ‘difficult second album’ phase - which for Alt-J included a certified Gold record and a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. Their success and the schedule that goes with it is the reason that Gus is having his hair done now, first thing in the morning in a photographic studio before a full day of press.
Words: Liam Konemann. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
Singer Joe Newman arrives neatly turned out in a shiny black jacket as the final adjustments are made to Gus’ new ‘do, and Alt-J settle down on a brown leather couch tucked into one side of the long room. Joe nestles into the corner of the sofa; legs curled up. Keyboardist and backing vocalist Gus, rather more straight-backed, sits next to him. He perches a cup of tea somewhat precariously on the couch’s arm. You’ve heard this before, but Alt-J don’t seem like pop megastars. It gets said a lot because it’s true. Gus and Joe are calculated, but not calculating - albums and interviews are laid out with a rough mental blueprint, with elements added or subtracted based on the result. Alt-J’s work and image are carefully considered, but in a way that is precise rather than manipulative. They aren’t trying to be mysterious or edgy, just accurate. It’s getting easier as they get further along the path. “We’re better equipped now than when we started,” says Joe. “There’s more of a flow.” That said, this third album has been something of a slow burn. Recent single ‘In Cold Blood’ was originally dreamt up when the band lived in Leeds, back before even their debut album ‘An Awesome Wave’ had been released. The rest of ‘Relaxer’ has come in dribs and drabs, floating in the ether
through previous tours and album campaigns. “‘In Cold Blood’ is probably unique on the album in terms of how long it took us to get around to finishing it,” Gus considers. “Most of our songs are ideas that have been brewing for quite a long time. ‘Adeline’ was something that we were playing in soundchecks on the last album tour.” Joe agrees: “Another example is ‘Deadcrush’, that was a jam recorded in 2014. It’s nine minutes long, and I forgot about it for a couple of months because we got caught up in recording the second album. Then I started listening to it on tour, and I sent it to the guys. It was just drums, nonsense lyrics with a melody, keyboards and guitar. It sounded really, really cool.” He gets lost for a second and looks to Gus to pick up the thread. They’ve worked together long enough by now that it’s clear Gus will be right there in harmony, whether it’s musically or in the three-dimensional real world. He catches the end of the sentence, carries on with Joe’s thought process. “By that point we had the second album wrapped up – or we had enough material that was in a better stage of completion. But there was a certain kind of excitement in being able to say ‘That’s probably going to be a stand out track on the third
album. Let’s keep that in the freezer for later’,” he says. “When we finished ‘This Is All Yours’ we were like ‘Wow, we’ve pretty much emptied the cupboards’. There are always small things [like the ‘Deadcrush’ jam] brewing, but... I think I could’ve named a lot of the songs on the second album when we were recording the first album. And that’s not the case for this album.” Joe hums and drops back in on his own train of thought. “I think more and more as you write albums you empty the cupboards.” He glances at Gus, smiling, and notes: “That whole analogy is good because really, the cupboard is now bare.” Alt-J had a little help emptying the cupboards on ‘Relaxer’. Lead single ‘3WW’ features Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell, while the beautifully stripped back ‘Last Year’ sees a guest performance from none other than Marika Hackman. “What’s interesting about those two cases is that both times we’re not just using a female voice for the sound of a female voice, they’re playing characters,” says Gus. “Those two songs are probably the two most literal narrative songs on the album. In ‘3WW’ Ellie is doing two voices, playing two girls who leave a note for the protagonist of the song, and then in ‘Last Year’ Marika is playing the ex-girlfriend of
a guy who’s killed himself. We see our songs as being quite filmic, so in a way, we’re casting them in roles within the song.” They’ve cast the roles well. Ellie’s performance on ‘3WW’ is rich and dark, vaguely ominous in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on. Then there’s Marika’s lilting vocal on ‘Last Year’, which floats on top of Joe’s picked acoustic guitar to create a touching and melodic portrayal of a former partner left behind after suicide. Alt-J might say they struggle to identify specific moments of darkness and light on ‘Relaxer’, but some tracks do seem to fall quite clearly on one side of the divide. “‘Last Year’ is one of the darker songs,” Joe observes. “And ‘Pleader’ to a certain extent is quite a dark song. It taps into a sense of pride I think you may have for your country, that you don’t know you have until you listen to it. It’s quite pastoral, kind of longing for a country that used to exist.” Gus arches an eyebrow. “Maybe.” “Maybe,” Joe emphasises. “Post-Brexit it can be seen as satire.” “Yeah, kind of ironic. You know, those UKIP people talking about some version of England that never really existed?” Gus says.
“IT’S N I C E TO G O I NTO TH E DA RK N ESS .” Still, Joe doesn’t believe that the faux nostalgia on ‘Pleader’ is entirely wrong, or even that it’s without hope. He enjoys the uncertainty. “It has a side to it that’s people coming together and singing, you know it doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world you can get together and sing. It refreshes the soul. It’s quite an ambiguous song, with a lot of loaded lyrics that could go either way,” he smiles. “It’s nice to go into the darkness.” They might lean into the darkness, but that doesn’t mean the album is devoid of light. Alt-J’s tendency towards narrative writing and occasionally macabre lyrics, coupled with their layered, detailed instrumentals has given them a false reputation as being overly serious. The band don’t buy into the rules set out by the leather-jacketed rock’n’roll playbook, preferring to fly under the radar, working away. Still, it’d be a mistake to consider them po-faced. Their second album, 2014’s ‘This Is All Yours’ featured the absurdly dirty tongue-in-cheek single ‘Every Other Freckle’, which included the line “turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet.” It was hardly the work of a group of severe, joyless
musicians. ‘Relaxer’ includes a moment of similarly filthy humour, on ‘Every Other Freckle’’s more snarling sibling, ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’. “I was driving on the motorway with my girlfriend, and I didn’t see a puddle – I hit it, and my steering went all gummy and I lost control of the car,” Joe says. “We were aquaplaning and I just – it happened, and I regained control of the car, and my girlfriend was like-” he puts a hand on his chest, eyes wide as if trying to get his racing heartbeat back under control. “And I went, ‘Fuck my life in half! Shit! Sorry’. “After we got home, I was like, ‘You know when I said ‘Fuck my life in half’? That was pretty cool, wasn’t it?’ and my girlfriend was like, ‘Fuck off’,” he laughs. “Then I thought, ‘I think that was good, I’m gonna write that down’. We worked it into the lyrics as ‘We’re going down, fuck my life in half’ after the leather slings that you use to hang so that you can fuck standing up.” “Oh, yeah,” Gus remembers. Joe grins. “Thought that was quite cool.” “Yeah, it is.” Gus smiles. “Gold.” The dirty humour is all the better for the fact that the band have bleeped out a single word in the
“I’M N OT C O M PA R I N G U S T O JK ROWLING; WE DIDN’T SELL AS MANY COPIES.” “I remember in February 2015, being in Paris and having a conversation about how on the next album we should go crazy with all sorts of different instruments. I think Joe, in particular, felt a little bit hampered on the first two, with having ideas but time and budget constraints preventing them. Being like, ‘Maybe we could do that’, but having to suck it up a few times.” He glances over at his bandmate, and says, “On ‘Nara’ [off ‘This Is All Yours’] you were keen to get some Sikh men to sing on it, or something. Like a Sikh choir?” For a moment Joe looks like this is news to him. Then there’s a flicker of memory. “Ahh. Yeah, I can’t remember,” Joe shrugs. Gus continues. “I don’t know if you stand by that idea now, but I seem to remember that you were quietly pissed off that everyone was like ‘Yeah, maybe, probably not going to happen’ and you were like ‘On album three we’re going to go for it’.
track - ‘fisting’. They’ve left all the curse words in. In the past, Gus has cheerfully pointed out that the bleeping is completely arbitrary. The song would be fine without it, but Alt-J are all about the details, and this one works. Gus grins. “We love that bit, but you wonder if it’s a joke that only you’re going to get. When you’re in the studio for so long, you can’t tell if you’re just laughing because you’ve gone completely mad.” They might not have got carried away that time, but there’s no question that they’ve amped things up for album number three. ‘Relaxer’ is just as focussed on the details as ‘This Is All Yours’ and ‘An Awesome Wave’ were, but there’s a much larger scope these days. Elements that used to be small scale have taken on epic proportions. In places on this record Gus’s usual vocal harmonies are backed up by a full choir, and instead of bringing in a few members of a string quartet the band have called in the cavalry and hired a thirty piece string section for six songs, including ‘Pleader’. To Gus, this step up has been in the works for a while.
Joe nods. “Yeah, that’s true. There were a few things that I thought I was going to have to get in there early. The major three were Ely School for Boys Choir-” Gus’s mouth twitches under his moustache as he tries to tamp down on a fondly exasperated smile. Then he gives in, chuckling, and says, “It’s not called Ely School for Boys.” Joe frowns. “What are they called?” “It’s called Ely Cathedral Choir,” says Gus. He would know, considering he used to be one of the choristers. It’s where he learnt the vocal harmonies that have served him so well with Alt-J. “Ely Cathedral Choir,” Joe repeats. “And the other two things were the twenty classical guitarists, and the strings we recorded at Abbey Road.” In a way, the band note, this step up in scale was partly down to their friend and producer Charlie Andrew, who has worked on all three Alt-J records. “We use strings on all the albums, and usually we use Charlie’s wife who is a great violinist,” says Gus. “She used to be in a string quartet, and so she’d bring various members of that quartet along, and this time Charlie thought that instead of just getting them to come and play we could actually really go for it. They’re quite big songs, and it seemed like fun. Almost like we’re treating ourselves on our third album, you know? The first album cost like fifteen grand to make, which is
nothing, and the second album didn’t cost much more. I think on this album, you know, not to talk about money but through having such tight purse strings on the first two we’ve sort of earned the right to have a thirty-piece orchestra.” “We were quite proud of how frugal we were on the first album,” Joe points out. Gus nods. “It adds to the narrative, doesn’t it? It’s like JK Rowling writing Harry Potter on napkins. You know, I’m not comparing us to her, we didn’t sell as many copies,” he laughs, “but it’s that kind of thing. It adds to the romance.” The question is, how do you make a thirty piece orchestra translate to your live show? Joe widens his eyes, sucking his teeth for a moment. Then he glances over at Gus for help. “We... we don’t know,” he says. Gus laughs. “I think we’ll have to figure out a way of doing it with just the three of us on stage, and maybe for special occasions get other people to come in. That’s what we’ve done in the past...” he shrugs the problem aside. “We’ll figure it out.” There’s always the option of the Alt-J Proms. Gus and Joe exchange a long look, then both say, “I would love that.” “I really, really hope they ask us to do it. Loads of people have done it! Kasabian did it – obviously, they’re a massive band, but I’m like... come on!” Gus laughs, gesturing to himself and Joe. “We’d be perfect for the Proms!” Clearly, Alt-J aren’t thinking of scaling back anytime soon. But, as Gus points out, they’ve never really had to worry about fitting a mould. “Our first album was uncompromisingly unusual, and it was successful. So I think that’s given us kind of a license to do what we want and not have to worry about fitting into a certain sound or being radio friendly because frankly getting a song like ‘Fitzpleasure’ onto the Radio 1 A-list was bizarre. So I think we’re like, ‘Great, we can always do whatever we like’.” No arguments here. If they’re going to carry on delivering albums like ‘Relaxer’, it’s probably best to let them get on with it. P Alt-J’s album ‘Relaxer’ is out now.
POP IS NOT A DIRTY WORD
JAC K A N TO N O F F M AST E RS EV E RY T H I N G H E T U RN S H I S H A N D TO. F RO M H I S OW N G E N REJ U M P I N G FO R AYS , TO H E L P I N G H I S A L L- STA R BU DS SO U N D T H E I R T I P P I T Y-TO P B EST, H E ’S O N E O F T H E M OST I N T E REST I N G C H A PS I N P O P. Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Corinne Cumming.
never wanted to be anyone specifically, I always wanted...” Jack Antonoff pauses, halfway through eating a breakfast of mango slices and pastries, and thinks. After adjusting his cap and gazing around the room, looking to pull together the words racing around his head, another direction pops into frame. “I think about this a lot, it’s not really an answer to your question, but it just reminded me of something... “I feel like there are two different ways to be an artist and create, as in there are artists that make you want to be them and then there are artists that make you want to know them. For me, I never really loved
anyone who was especially beautiful or slick and I just never wanted to be them. But when I grew up listening to Springsteen, I wanted to know him. He’s saying things that I feel and have felt my entire life but have never been able to put into words that I could understand. Or take The Beatles and the first time I heard ‘For No One’, which I think was the first time that I was heartbroken. I listened to it and thought, ‘Oh my God, everything I’ve been feeling for months about this relationship screeching to a halt - they just said it in three words’. I tried to sum it up in ten thousand words, and they did it in three. “REM, and the first time I heard ‘At My Most Beautiful’, was when I was in love with someone, and Michael
Stipe is singing about counting eyelashes. Like, If I said to you, I have this song that goes ‘I found a way to make you smile’, you’ll be like, who gives a shit? But the way he says it, and the music, and the fact that his voice is sort of dry and sounds like he’s just speaking to you. Those words you’ve heard someone say a million times - but in that one moment he manages to encapsulate every poem or sonnet or essay ever written about love in some of the simplest words ever written. “That’s the magic. That’s pop music at its absolute best. I could go on for days about songs, writers, artists, painters, movies - like in The Royal Tenenbaums where Margot Tenenbaum gets off the bus and ‘These Days’ starts playing with
everything else drowned out and in slow motion. Right there, the feeling of loving someone is perfectly captured. Or in The Godfather at the wedding where the old Italian guy is singing, and pure joy is captured. That’s the whole point, to capture these moments.” Like flicking through the emotional scrapbook we all subconsciously tie ourselves too, Jack Antonoff lives for those moments. Hearing that sound, that hook and that lyric at the right moment can change lives, and it’s an experience Jack has had time and time again. If ever there was a mission statement that could be etched underneath everything Bleachers is, then that’s it - an outpouring of the heartbreak, loss, dreaming and love we all long
to explain, yet fly into time and time again with an unwavering inevitability. As Jack sits forward, slap-bang in the middle of London as he gears up for the release of new Bleachers record ‘Gone Now’, there’s a definitive sense that an undeniable crowning moment is on the cards. After all, it’s been three years since he unveiled Bleachers into the world with debut LP ‘Strange Desire’, and in the time since - it’s fair to say that things have changed. “Very drastically,” notes Jack. “I’ve changed, the world’s changed, but one of the most potent shifts has been that when I made the first album, it was like very secretive. I made it, and nobody knew I was doing it or that something existed, so it was never made in conversation with anyone. This album is the first one that I’ve ever made in my life, where it was really a breakthrough to open up and have a conversation with people and not be all about me and the literal things going on in my life. “Things change when they start to mean something to people. You make this documentary of your life, which is essentially what an album is, and you have to work out how to tell that story and how to make it sound exactly how it sounds in your head. Working out how to make it a piece of you while making it a conversation to the people that it’s for - because an album is for people and not just like a therapy you can throw off a cliff. It lives beyond that.” With ‘Gone Now’, Jack Antonoff is inviting you in for a conversation - one he’s been longing to have for years.
ew Jersey is many things. A state that has more diners in one area than anywhere else in the world, home to a certain Bruce Springsteen and an underdog in the shadow of nearby neighbour New York - there’s certainly something unique about it. For Jack, New Jersey is more than just a home; it’s the very fabric of who he is as a person. It feeds into the way he talks, the way he treats people, the way he goes about each and every day and the reason why he can play to thousands around the globe and make music at every turn. It’s a part of a journey that has manifested itself even from an early age. “I was always very passionate about expressing myself from feeling very misunderstood at a very young age,” reflects Jack, recalling a childhood where a passion for expression formed way before music ever took hold. “Like there’s a passion for music and putting sounds together, but that’s very different from that feeling
of needing to express something because it’s burning out of you, and you have to say it because if you don’t then you don’t feel like you have any purpose on this earth. From a very young age, I always felt this need to express something, mainly around feeling oddly disconnected and desperately looking for a place to express it.” If ever there’s a location to house everything Jack’s become, then it’s his bedroom in New Jersey. It’s where he first learned to love music when he was nine years old; where he’d retreat to listen to radio playlists of Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins spin again and again; where he’d sit trying to make sense of the world full. It’s a time also complete with tragedy, learning to cope with sudden loss and attempting to rebuild himself from there. It was in those moments where he discovered
“I hope secrets like that still exist, I know it’s harder, but I’m sure they do. It was such a well-kept secret until it wasn’t. And you were there, or you weren’t, and I think those experiences are more vital than ever nowadays, to have been somewhere...” What made the punk scene in New Jersey such an uncompromising force was something only geography could ever have stimulated. Situated just a stone’s throw from New York and its world of bright lights, big names and countless evenings pulsating with snapshot memories to tide over for decades to come, there’s a natural reaction that feeds through New Jersey. Of being so close to the moment, yet so far away at the same time. That twist in the gut longing to be in the middle of it all, yet locked away from it. A natural underdog to the glamorous cousin grabbing all
“POP IS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL C O N C E P T T H AT , LIKE PIZZA, SOME PEOPLE D O I T V E RY P O O R LY . ” a punk scene bristling out of the New Jersey streets, one thrashing with a sense of community that Jack had never experienced before. If you want the epicentre of Bleachers’ beating heart, it can all be drawn back to here. “It was the first sense of community I ever had,” notes Jack, taking a sip on his tea and leaning forward once again. “I didn’t have tons of friends at school so finding this community of people changed my life forever and it’s with me every day. It informs the way I tour, the way I speak to people, the way I make music! It’s something that sounds a bit Hallmark and cheesy, but my heart breaks for anyone who doesn’t get to grow up with something like that because to have your own little club where you can express yourself is really special.
the plaudits. In a way, New Jersey may not be the artist people want to be, but the artist you’d want to know. Utterly captivating, its spirit is the sound of Bleachers and because of it, Jack as a whole. That feeling he knows will always be there. “Forever” points out Jack, nodding firmly. “That right there is the story of New Jersey, to look out of the window and see New York in the distance and hear about all these amazing things going on, like Nine Inch Nails are playing a show here and the Smashing Pumpkins over there and I’m here. It’s almost more brutal than being a thousand miles away because you’re there, but you’re not there if you get what I mean? “It informs the music, that feeling, it’s the sound of New Jersey and the sound of Bleachers. It’s not
some romantic concept of being an underdog; it’s how I grew up. You’re right there, but you’re not there at all. You carry it your whole life, it doesn’t matter where you end up, there’ll always be that feeling of this is just not you, and you’re just visiting, you’re not from it. What I realise is, I think people that are from places where they spend their whole life trying to get away from it are actually some of the luckiest people, because then you actually get away. Then you meet people who grew up in the place you idolised so much, and you realise that they don’t have that fire because they already won.” The fire is constantly burning for Jack, lighting in those early days at Lifetime gigs in scrappy New Jersey venues and soaring through the shirt-ripping tides fronting Steel Train, the all-conquering jump into the mainstream with Fun and now into Bleachers. From grungy stages to the Grammys and now into a pop world of stadium-sized choruses played out in his own unique portrait, there’s one thing that doesn’t change about Jack. He’s the outsider focused on one thing, shaking things up good and proper. “I still feel very outside of things, it’d be hard for me not to”, Jack elaborates. “Even when I work now with big pop stars, there’s always still that feeling that I’m the left-hand side of the sand box for them or something like that. It’s just something I take with me even now. Plus, a lot of my work is informed by what I think is wrong with something, I’m not there to be everyone’s friend, and I don’t want to dive right in the middle of it all - I want to come in and mess around with my own version of it. “I think pop is such a beautiful concept that, like pizza I guess, some people do it very poorly and there are things in my head that I then want to bring to it. So the only reason why I’m there comes from an outside perspective in the first place, like I was never meant to be there! When I was making hardcore when I was 15 nobody was ever like ‘one day you’re going to produce all these pop records’, but that’s what happened, even with Bleachers. There’s something incredibly reactionary about it all.”
he natural reaction is always the most interesting one, and with Bleachers, Jack’s gut reactions are laid to bare in the most sensational fashion. Working on debut album ‘Strange Desire’ in secret while the runaway success of Fun faded into time apart, it was a breakthrough that continued to unravel jaw-dropping views long
after its release. Jack looks back at that time as a realisation of the emotions poured into an album that stemmed its way through every decision and move he had ever made. “There was a sense of taking it all in. It was a really funny process that because I put it out and then I felt like there was just a steady build of people finding it and that didn’t stop for like two years. What started off as like a few hundred people at shows became a thousand, and then two thousand and then before I even knew it, there was this community of people who had found the record. Which is really special, because that’s what you dream about - connecting with people.” In the time since there’s been shimmering detours through work with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen and now Lorde (working on the latter’s album while piecing together his own next step) - and after all those experiences comes ‘Gone Now’. A continuation of Jack’s unmistakable knack for genrebending pop supremacy, it lives in a realm that’s not afraid to open up and examine the fibres underneath. “‘Gone Now’ is very much a documentation of the past two years of my life,” explains Jack, “but there are these elements that have been there my whole life too. It’s something I realised about making an album, that you have this knowledge of your whole life and those key events in it, and you constantly revisit them with a different lens. So I talk a lot about loss and the people I’ve lost - and that’s something you’re always revisiting at certain points in your life, but just with that different viewpoint on how it is affecting you at that moment. “I’m always trying to find ways to say things. With ‘Strange Desire’ it was all about conversations with myself, whereas on this album... I can vividly remember walking down the street and looking around to see all these colours, the bright lights, people and all these grand things. You start to think, as you walk along, that every person you see has this story of hurt and pain buried within them - and not to sound humble or clichéd, but when I write, I think about one person the way I think everybody.” From that breakthrough came ‘Everybody Lost Somebody’, an emotionally raw melting pot of infectious pop that underneath exposes the true depths of loss with an unwavering sense of clarity. It’s an honesty that resonates across ‘Gone Now’, an album that instantly pulls together a community before spreading its net far and wide. It’ll be playing at the late-night
disco, in the bedrooms of countless thousands longing not to feel alone and it’ll be there ready to comfort for good measure too. It’s a realisation and snapshot of moving through life, learning what to take with you and what to leave behind, and how both play a part in every flick and move you’ll ever make. “With ‘Everybody Lost Somebody’, that was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. It’s a very important song to me because it was the first time, like I said before, that I was actively in conversation with other people in my music, rather than just myself. It was a really big deal to write that song, to connect the dots more and speak to people directly. The album talks to people in the ways we all connect on, so it really talks specifically about loss and sort of this feeling of pushing through. How people do it and what keeps us going.”
Girls’, the New Jersey call-to-arms stomp of ‘Don’t Take The Money’, the crystalised sheen of ‘Hate That You Know Me’ or the chiming bells and whistles of ‘I Miss Those Days’ - ‘Gone Now’ refuses to sit still, and because of that lands as a truly special record. Feeding every itch and flourish which pops into his head, Jack’s next chapter is one that’s primed to cement his position as the man with his finger well and truly on the pulse of boundary-pushing pop. With a purpose. “Making ‘Gone Now’ was this little two year period, which was my whole life,” explains Jack. “It could be over in 80 years, or it could be over tomorrow, and I wrote a lot of the album from that perspective, this sense that I won’t be here forever and I need to share these feelings. I have to capture these moments on tape.”
“ T O H AV E YO U R OW N LITTLE CLUB W H E R E YO U CA N E X PRESS YO U RS E L F I S R E A L LY SPECIAL.” Jack continues, fixing his hat and jacket as he pulls his thoughts together. “We all keep these big suitcases of baggage, and we can’t really carry all of it but we don’t want to let any of it go too. This idea of drifting through time and moving forward. Not getting too weighty with all your crap that you can’t move forward, but not leaving too much where you’re not yourself. “That concept of moving on and deciding what to take with you - it’s all part of ‘Gone Now’.” From the collective ‘Sgt Pepper’tinged swells of ‘Good Morning’, the gospel wrappings of ‘Foreign
s the morning rattles on, Jack’s schedule continues to fill with worldwide dates and new projects bristling at every corner. While chatting, his first headline London show in two years sells out months in advance; work continues on his own festival, Shadow Of The City, back in New Jersey and in a matter of days Bleachers kick start a fresh run of headline dates around the US. Not to mention the mobile bedroom being transported around the country that allows fans to peer into the very floorboards where the seeds and foundations of Bleachers rose from. The question arises, how
does Jack Antonoff feel about this non-stop schedule? “Well, I enjoy making all the work,” answers Jack. “Putting on the festival is really inspiring, being in the studio of course too - there’s always that inspiration of what you want to do in your head, and then there’s your actual body and reality. That part I don’t enjoy, that feeling of being in a race that I can’t keep up with - you need to be able to relax and enjoy life outside of everything too, with real relationships you have with people.” Things are only set to get bigger, but that’s what pushes Jack each and every day. It’s all to pursue that feeling everyone gets in their stomach. To search for something more, have answers to questions that fly around everyday life and find solace in talking about the worries and fears that surround simply living. It’s in that purpose that Jack sees meaning and with ‘Gone Now’, it’s a conversation that gets its welcoming platform. “I want to feel less alone in the world, y’know? I want to make sense of things. I want to feel” lays out Jack. “Like, when I put out ‘I Want To Get Better’ on the first record, it was a perfect documentary of all the bad things that have happened in my life and saying ‘I want to get better’ whatever that means to you. Hearing it back through people and hearing their stories, it makes you feel less like you’re meant to wander the earth alone forever. It’s powerful. “I don’t share things I don’t question. I’m not worried about lunch or sleeping or anything like that. I am worried about the meaning of why we put ourselves through so much to try and connect to people, about mortality and how it informs every decision we make, why sometimes we feel like the weight of the world is crushing us and why sometimes we feel so light. There are things that really occupy my head which I don’t have answers for - and those are the things I want to talk about, to see what everyone else thinks. “That for me is worth considering.” Searching for the clues of life, Jack Antonoff’s journey as the outsider is essential. Sometimes life is hard, it’s painful, and it’s overwhelming. Bleachers stands as the hand outstretched, holding tight as the confusing tides of life come flying. Knowing Jack Antonoff is ultimately knowing that not having the answers may be the most dazzling place to be. P Bleachers’ album ‘Gone Now’ is out now.
TH E D ‘H AL P IS O B RE C W U S E XU S D M N S U PE SE ID U RE RI S B WE MB IS M R G ER O EN IG E N TA H T T T W F O T I O S O O. R O N, D O R N B A N O T O L A R K T YA H TH CK ?’, E L B E H ST EV LO Wo BA O N I C E O rd s: Jak N EY KS OF D T D’ eR S A NM A T H O D ich SI D N E R E ar ds G B B E LI on N R EN L V . AT I N E E U G T H AS R W RE IN A E I T S OG A C HO F T H E U B R N IT D… O F
“THIS ALBUM D E F I N I T E LY G O E S DA RK E R .”
oyal Blood drummer Ben Thatcher is attempting to explain exactly why he and vocalist/bassist Mike Kerr’s debut album was such a huge success, but he’s struggling to come up with a definitive answer. “It’s a bit of a mystery to us! Trying to calculate it in my head, it could’ve been anything. Maybe we came out at a time when there was a lack of rock music going on, or a lack of rock music that people wanted to hear – but I’m not actually too sure!” Rock hasn’t been a major feature of mainstream music in recent years – not that it hasn’t been there, of course, it’s just not been on the radio much – but Royal Blood’s rapid rise to prominence since forming in 2013 is proof that people will still show up for big riffs. And boy are fans showing up in their droves for Mike and Ben at the moment. Speaking not long after his band’s triumphant hometown show return at the Brighton Concorde 2, Ben is revelling in the love that remains for
Royal Blood, and it’s clear from the reception to the band’s live return that this is band are more than a flash in the pan. Royal Blood mean something to an awful lot of people. “The gig was amazing!” enthuses Ben. “It was great to be back in Brighton where we first started playing, and at a small venue like Concorde. The buzz for tickets and the people queueing outside since the night before they went on sale to get them was amazing to see, and we sold the tickets through local record shop [Resident] which was really great. It’s a great store where we’d go to buy records, and we thought it’d be cool to sell the tickets through them. There was a great buzz around the whole thing, and it felt so good to walk out onto a stage again. We needed to start playing shows; we hadn’t played in a year-and-a-half, so we wanted to have our first show back in our hometown where it all started, and it was really nice to be able to play in front our family and friends, before we go out into the world and share our new music with everyone else!” Brighton has always been a creative hub of the UK, and Royal Blood aren’t the only shining lights of
the seaside resort’s music scene: Dork favourites and certified banger merchants Black Honey also hail from the town, and Ben couldn’t have been happier at the fact that they joined Royal Blood for their intimate run of pre-album release shows in May. “They’re a fantastic band, and they’ve been going for a while under different names and line-ups,” Ben says of the indie-popsters. “They’re friends of ours from Brighton, and Izzy [Baxter, vocals/guitar] is a fantastic performer – she’s just really, really cool, and they have some really great songs which match us perfectly. With music in general, we feel that if you have too much of the same thing, that’s not good; if we had straight-up rock bands playing with us all the time it wouldn’t be very exciting. It’s nice to have a bit of variation in style, and it’s really great that we’ve been able to take them out.” But despite how bloody brilliant Black Honey are, the main attraction of these gigs – and the shows Royal Blood will play across festivals this summer and UK arenas in the autumn – is that the world finally gets to hear the songs from new album, ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’, in all their unhinged, uninhibited and unshackled live glory. And like
Royal Blood fans the world over, Ben can’t wait for everyone to experience the songs he and Mike have been working on. “This new record is more glam,” Ben states. “There’s a bit more of a Marc Bolan, T-Rex feel to the vocals and guitars. But there’s also quite a lot of hip-hop elements to the drums; we were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar, and we listened to Glass Animals quite a bit – and the grooves in it and some of the song-writing elements of that band are reflected in the record. We really wanted to write some different songs that had different features; there’s a lot of Black Sabbath-style riff-rock too!” “The songwriting has really progressed for us. Learning how to play together again, we’ve experimented with different sounds, and there are a few different things going on for us on this album. If you take ‘Hole In Your Heart’, for example, we start the song with keys, which is something that we’ve never done before, and there were things that we were only learning about on the first record that we’ve been able to apply to this one, so there was a lot of experimentation with all
of that.” The first glimpse of Royal Blood’s new found ‘glamness’ came in the shape of lead-single ‘Lights Out’; a familiar-sounding Royal Blood track in many respects, but one that hints at broadened musical horizons on album number two. “‘Lights Out’ is a song that establishes the record,” explains Ben. “It’s still quite heavy, but it has a few new elements in it. It was obvious to us that it was going to show what the rest of the songs on the album have a feel for. Picking a favourite song on the album is difficult, but ‘Lights Out’ was certainly the most enjoyable to record!” As well as being the introduction to the band’s new sound, ‘Lights Out’, and fellow single ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’, present Royal Blood in a darker, more brooding mood this time around. “This album definitely goes darker than the previous one, and the scenarios that inspired the songs were darker for sure,” reveals Ben. “But I also think that ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ has the lightest moments compared to our previous music. We wanted to do something that was musically ‘softer’, but also write songs that were heavier than
“WE WERE L I STE N I N G TO A LOT O F KE N D RI C K LAMAR AND G LASS ANIMALS.”
anything we’d done; so you get songs like ‘Don’t Tell’, which have a softer element, and then there’s ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’, which is quite brutal.” Brutality may be present on their album, but when it comes to the members themselves, and the outlook Mike and Ben have on being a hugely successful rock band, things are much more positive than they are pessimistic. Ben is just thankful that despite some of the drawbacks that come with being an artist, he gets to live out a life that most could only dream of. “We’re very lucky to be able to do what we do; we know that very well, so focusing on the negatives that come with doing this doesn’t really make much sense. You have to snap out of them, because they’re actually quite silly when you think about what we could be doing. Obviously this is a job, and we do live normal lives and have things that happen that are very human and normal, but despite that, we feel very lucky to be able to play music for a career, and to get to tour the world and write albums is a party for us, really!” Affable and amiable, with his feet planted firmly on the ground, Ben Thatcher isn’t a rock star in the traditional fashion. He just wants to play music, have a laugh and live a good life. Returning to Ben’s inability to nail-down the reason for his band’s success, it’s perhaps this lack of rock star bullshit that comes with himself and Mike that may well be the reason Royal Blood find themselves capturing the masses and taking their place at the top of the Brit-rock pile. Royal Blood is just two normal blokes. But they’re two blokes with a not so normal ability to craft the kind of rock songs that are well and truly capable of conquering arenas and airwaves the world over. Party on. P Royal Blood’s album ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’ is out 16th June.
U W NE O TH W R N XPE H E A A I C DE C T H N D T S R L WO V R H T E D A E G AW I E A P N Y A D ’ R I N T N D R E DV E O P IT E J H D ’S B M A E M E B F R U S ST A A C SS T UT O M T A R A S B K O O OU W ES UR : A TH BO O V T I O ER T T F T RE EIR UT H H H C Wo A GO ‘ U FA E W O K rd N L s: A IC T S O RD Al IN K R . R iS . hu O AL NO LD tle FF IF W r A E’, LL
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“ I T ’ S O K AY T H AT Y O U F E E L L O N E LY , B E C A U S E E V E RYO N E D O E S . ” There was also the “constant questioning and self-doubt that comes from just being a human” to contend with. “It’s a general, worldwide tendency to over question everything. You feel so alone, and then you just want space. You can feel empowered and free and amazing, then the next day you’re so miserable and depressed. Touring exacerbates that 100%. You’re playing to 3000 people in a room who scream your name, but you feel so miserable sometimes because this isn’t a conversation and I’m just performing. I don’t know any of you, not really. That’s really odd. Then you have shows where you feel like you’re speaking and connecting with all these people.” ‘Ultralife’ looks to reinforce the conversation. To enhance the connection.
h Wonder started life with just two people. Coming from two opposing musical worlds, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West set about recording and releasing music together from their home studio, not expecting anyone to hear it or pay them much attention. Twelve months later, their thirteen singles made up a vast majority of their self-titled debut and the band set out to play their first and last four shows as a live band. Or so they thought. What followed was a year of touring that saw the duo play shows in twenty six countries and ended up with a sold out homecoming at London’s Roundhouse and one last trip around North America. In two years, Oh Wonder had grown beyond two people. After that, they returned home, made scrambled eggs on toast with avocado, chili flakes and lime, and wrote a new album. “Broadly speaking, I guess this one was a lot more personal,” starts Josephine. “We had a lot more personal experiences to draw from,” continues Anthony. “We’d been on the road for two years, experiencing highs and lows. We were part of a community with fans, and our band and our crew and then had to also deal with the loneliness of being away from family and friends.”
As conflicting as the journey was, Oh Wonder found strength and drive in other people. It’s those connections that breath life into their second record. Writing towards a body of work for the first time means it’s also the first time they’ve been sat on music they can’t instantly release. “The number of times I’ve just wanted to send a Dropbox link to a fan saying ‘Here you go, just have it,’ because that’s what you make music for, you make it for people.” Wanting to capture the instant excitement of playing live, there was no complicated plans or the chance for over-thinking. “The main thing is not to feel any pressure, ‘cos I think we would have written a totally different album if we felt the pressure of an audience. We would have overthought things and probably not have released this record for another year.” Instead, the sunburst reaction was key. “Music captures a snapshot or a moment. Then you have to pass it on, give it to someone else and make another one.” The day the band finished the record, they started rehearsals for the live show. It’s little gestures that define ‘Ultralife’. It’s “about finding someone or something that makes you feel ultra, meaning an extraordinary, exciting or uncommon way of living. It’s about finding something that pulls out the best of you and pulls out the tiny moments. It’s not a massive thing. Amidst all the craziness, and the banality of living, you can find little moments that hype you up and pull you up. It’s about finding what those are or who gives you that.” ‘Ultralife’ opens with the claustrophobic ‘Solo’ - “a metaphor for being at a house party surrounded by all these self-absorbed people, and just needing to get out and breathe” - and ends with the stark curtain drop of ‘Waste’, an ode to missing home and missing friends. It’s because the band realised that “people need people”. “That need to be on
your own and nourish yourself, that’s awesome, but you can’t be a one-man band. You have to rely on people. It’s important; we work in a pack as humans.” “Self-development is with other people and yourself,” adds Anthony. “Those songs are the bookends, and the album is trying to explore where to find that or how to find that,” explains Josephine. “But it’s okay that you feel lonely, because everyone does.” “You’ve got the potential to feel amazing, and you’ll feel both. It’s inevitable you’ll feel horrible and amazing so welcome both of them.” “And acknowledge they’re both real.” Adding colour to the landscape, the shadowy plunge of ‘My Friends’ was ‘written in floods of tears. It came from a really sad place but we channelled it into something that hopefully helps other people,” and ‘Lifetimes’, all glitter and grins, is “just a great way to disguise a song about climate change as a big pop song. We’re very aware that whatever voice you have, no matter how big or how small, you should try and use it for good. Say something. Contribute something to the world.” The album is made up of little gestures, but it knows how world-altering they can be. The most outlandish track on the album, ‘High On Humans’, all robot voices and heart-swelling interaction, came from a bizarre but affirming journey Josephine had across London. From kneejerk interrupting a conversation between two girls - “What do you mean you don’t like Sriracha?” - that led to a twenty-minute conversation about food, to comforting a man who was panicking after knocking his front teeth out that spiralled into a tube-wide sharing of injuries, the evening didn’t go any deeper than the surface, but that didn’t stop it feeling real. “I was so hyped. In London, you just don’t talk to strangers, and anyone that tries to start a conversation on the tube is a weirdo. This was lovely because everyone got involved.” ‘Do you have the time? Do you hate your life?” sings the track. “The potential for conversation between those two extremes is endless and infinite.” “You can have amazing interactions if you’re brave enough to ask,” reasons Anthony. “If you lose your fear and throw yourself in at the deep end, it can be really liberating. Or it can be really awkward. It just takes everyone to be a bit more open.” ‘Ultralife’ dances with escape and twirls in an outfit laden with dreams but there’s a grit under the surface. The big moments shimmer like an oasis, but they’re forged from the personal and the physical. “Human connection is talking and touching other people, that’s what it should be,” offers Anthony. “In tiny, tiny ways, chatting to a stranger on a train can brighten up your day,” adds Josephine. “One of my favourite songs of all time, Polly Paulusma’s ‘She Moves In Secret Ways’, basically says you can plan everything to your last day’s end, but not all the little things that happened by accident. And that’s totally this band. You can have an overarching plan to make music, but it’s all the happy little accidents that happen in the interim that make it amazing.” “It’s ever-changing,” explains Anthony. We never started with a plan; I don’t like making plans. It’s great to have goals and stuff you want to get out of things but with a plan comes expectations. The way I see this band, everything is a bonus. It’s just a big wave, and we’re seeing how long we can ride it for.” P Oh Wonder’s album ‘Ultralife’ is out 14th July.
A WHOLESOME PACKAGE OF MESMERISING INDIETRONICA
eeee e f there was a survey asked about what people would want from a Phoenix album, then we’re pretty sure the same responses would come back. Sweet electro-pop hooks? Shimmering Parisian synths? That feeling of being transported to a European nightspot where euphoria is
the cocktail of choice? In all those manners ‘Ti Amo’ delivers and it delivers big. Building an even greater wall of surging pop sounds into a beefier collection of tracks, it takes predecessor ‘Bankrupt’s more delectable moments and turns it into a follow-up that intoxicates from start to finish, confirming why Phoenix sit in a class of their own. That knack for a synth-pop nugget is
the core of everything Phoenix stand for, and in ‘Ti Amo’, it’s dialled up to a level that simply drowns out any other notion in your head. Like a trip through a scorching summer day on the European coast (which ties nicely to the whole ‘Italian Disco’ theme), it’s as devouring as a fresh ice cream. ‘Tuttifrutti’ is the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ for a fresh new generation, ‘J-Boy’ swaggers with a charm of bright lights and brighter sunsets whilst the title track itself brings high-octane energy into an outfit of distinct suaveness that’s destined to light up packed venues around the globe. Vibrant at every turn, it’s a record completely sure of itself and the road it’s setting down, pulling in the more slow-burning electronica of ‘Via Veneto’ in emphatic ease - similar in
result to the hands in the air sheen of ‘Fior De Latte’ and the exotic licks of ‘Fleur De Lys’ that’ll have you shaking in rhythm and throwing shapes in a matter of seconds. More than anything ‘Ti Amo’ is a wholesome package of mesmerising indietronica that only Phoenix could have pulled of. It manages to feel of another world, yet an echo of infectious energy that you find in the gut of your stomach all at the same time. Yet another masterful stroke in the career of a band that seem to only get better, it’s the record that cements Phoenix as one of the most reliable bands of the 21st century, one that will continue to experiment and expand for years to come. Pass us the Cornetto, we’re heading out into the sunshine. Jamie Muir
All We Are Sunny Hills Domino
e e ee With their second album, All We Are are determined to be themselves. A multinational coalition (Norwegian, Brazilian and Irish, in case you were wondering) founded in a Liverpudlian melting pot, there’s a radical steel running up the backbone of ‘Sunny Hills’. It’s not one that sees the three-piece pushing musical boundaries; instead it’s an unrelenting refusal to cow to expectation. Produced by Kwes (Solange, Kano, Loyle Carner), they’ve taken the indie rock, post punk template and toughened it up, ready to roll with the punches. ‘Human’, for example, is part Joy Division, part Savages. A biting but soaring statement, it’s both immediate and deep in the same breath. “I don’t even know what’s fake anymore,” Guro Gikling exasperates, hitting marks both current and timeless. The product of its surroundings, it’s a powerful statement. Switched on, charged up, if this really is All We Are, it’s more than enough. Stephen Ackroyd
All We Are DRUMMER AND VOCALIST RICH TELLS HOW WITH THEIR NEW ALBUM, ALL WE ARE WANT LISTENERS TO KNOW THEY’RE NOT ALONE. How has 2017 been treating you so far? Are you guys having a good year? Yeah, it’s been all go really. We mastered the record in January, so we’ve just been doing the usual frantic organisational stuff around it to get it ready for the release. Apart from that and a few gigs we’ve not been up to much.
What are you most proud of with ‘Sunny Hills’? We love the record and feel that musically and lyrically we couldn’t have been more honest. However, I think one of the most important things we did was the way in which we pursued that honesty in the mix and the master. We went back and forth for ages and tried to make sure it was coming across in the final stages of making the record. It took a while, but we got there. That’s something that makes us proud. How would you like the record to make listeners feel? We hope that the listener gets the same feeling of catharsis and release that we did when making the record and playing it live. It’s a dark record, but it’s really about hope. You’re not alone in whatever situation or anxiety you suffer from. We’re all human beings. P
e e ee e You wouldn’t need to be some kind of fortune teller to predict what to expect from Beth Ditto’s debut solo album. One of the defining voices of her generation, that’s no criticism either. When going at full, glorious pelt she remains unmatched - as close to a force of soulful nature as you’re likely to find. So, while ‘Fake Sugar’ doesn’t find another anthem close to the level of ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’, you’d not expect it to either. What it does pack is a solid, sometimes spectacular (see the multilingual ‘Oo La La’) showcase for a voice we still need. Stephen Ackroyd
Tell us about your new album, ‘Sunny Hills’ what’s it about? The record for us it’s a way of getting the darkness and anxiety out in the catharsis that we felt when we first started writing and playing these songs. The world is a pretty dark place right now, and we want to tell people that you’re not alone in it, so although dark, the record is really about hope. The road the warehouse was on was called ‘Sunny Hills’. What was it like working with Kwes? Kwes is our A&R at Domino, so he’s been heavily involved from the start. We jumped at the chance to work with him. He’s a lovely, sensitive presence in the studio and was careful to honour the mistakes and wobbles that make this record, we think, so honest. His experience of working in hip hop and with loads of diverse artists brought something special to the production. He’s a great guy.
The Drums Abysmal Thoughts ANTI-
eeee Recording his chirpy whistling on ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ must feel like a lifetime ago for Jonathan Pierce eight tumultuous years later and he’s the last member of The Drums. Given he wrote ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ alone while dealing with the split from his husband and the departure of his band co-founder, Jacob Graham, it’s little wonder it’s a bit morose. Thankfully, The Drums’ charm has always rested in their ability to marry cataclysmic lyrics with bright, infectious pop melodies, and it’s no different on their fourth record. Introspective opener, ‘The
eeee The prospect of new material from another big shoegaze reunion was an enticing one - but which Ride would we get? Would this blank out the memory of their classic-rock apery and the Beady Eye years? First single ‘Charm Assault’ was a big ’yes’, all punchy wah-wah and moody jangle; then ‘Home is a Feeling’ followed, a blissed-out swirl. And ‘Weather Diaries’ continues to shuffle the elements, but there are twists - layers of synths and sampled noise. Whether it’s the beginning of a new phase, or the final word we all deserved, ‘Weather Diaries’ is one to keep. Rob Mesure
Mirror’, finds Pierce questioning his identity while staring at his reflection. Scampering percussion and The Drums’ familiar reverb-laden guitar lines build to a brilliant, yet heartbreaking climax. It’s one of the record’s highlights. And it’s a similar formula employed on the likes of ‘Blood Under My Belt’ and ‘Heart Basel’, as Pierce laments over broken relationships to bittersweet pop melodies. The formula works so well that Pierce seems reluctant to deviate from it, perhaps because it affords him the comfort with which to explore such deeply personal subjects. ‘Abysmal Thoughts’ is quite clearly an album Pierce needed to make for himself and, while it’s unlikely to win over hordes of new fans, it certainly proves he’s capable of delivering on his own terms. Alex Thorp 45
LONDON GRAMMAR AREN’T YOUR AVERAGE BAND
London Grammar Truth Is A Beautiful Thing
ou could say that ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’, London Grammar’s second full-length, is much anticipated. Truth be told, that probably wouldn’t be entirely accurate. The gap between this and 2013’s ‘If I Wait’ has felt much longer than four years. In that time, the world
has changed. Stadium-filling legends can get away with four year gaps between records without much trouble, but for fresh talent of such promise, such a lengthy wait rarely ends well. And so, from waiting excitedly for London Grammar’s next move, we sort of started to forget we were looking out for something at all. Occasionally
the memory would poke through, but as new bands come and go, those echoes get weaker by the month. How stupid were we. See, London Grammar - they’re not your average band. They don’t need to play by the same rules. They’re not out there looking for that high-energy radio banger to grab the immediate attention. They’re special, for one glorious reason Hannah Reid’s incomparable voice. From the first line of comeback track ‘Rooting For You’, offered up right back
at the start of 2017, it was like the years melted away. Warmth, vulnerability, strength, range, power - it felt like the morning sun rising. In one moment, everything we were missing became perfectly clear. The magic of London Grammar runs deeper than just one natural talent, though. The band’s ability to match that strength with perfectly pitched arrangements is virtually unmatched. Title-track ‘Truth Is A Beautiful Thing’ shows it best. What some would describe as sparse actually feels full of meaning. Backed by a single piano, the spaces inbetween matter just as much as the notes themselves. When you think about it, that’s London Grammar to a tee. Stephen Ackroyd
You need these albums... The best albums from the last few months.
The Age of Anxiety Giving a new meaning to what’s around us, the viewpoint of Pixx is one sprinkled all over ‘The Age Of Anxiety’, a debut album that introduces the nuances and textures of her world in a way that is both dazzling and infectious. 46
I’m Not Your Man ‘I’m Not Your Man’ is the sound of Marika making a statement: one that pushes her to the forefront with an album that welcomes anyone with open arms, laying out a path for the artist she’s destined to become.
When people ask about the next Radiohead, it’s easy to point to Pumarosa as a band capable of following that path - but that would do injustice to how vital and unique Pumarosa are. e are in a Pumarosa world now.
So rarely does such artistic purity result in the biggest rewards, and yet from here Alt-J’s continued rise feels impossible to slow. Sometimes - just sometimes - a little faith pays off. Who wants to be average, anyway?
Noga Erez Off The Radar
recommend us some stuff. Last good record you heard: ‘Drool’ Nnamdi Ogbonnaya. It’s a very rich album, melodically and harmonically. It’s also very fun and even funny. Favourite ever book: Life of Pi - Yann Martel. Journey books are my favourite, and this one is so psychological and interesting. TV show you couldn’t live without: Sopranos. Never found a better one. Complex characters and situations and even though it’s not a world that the average person could relate to, you find yourself completely touched and attached to those characters. Best purchase of this year: Custom-made in-ear monitor headphones. They were so out of my budget, but the best thing I could get to aid the live shows. Anything else you’d recommend? Check out this Instagram page by the amazing animator ‘Cult_of_dang’. P
Crack-Up Nonesuch Records
e e ee When a band drops off the radar for more than five years, it can often spell bad news - and Fleet Foxes did just that after the touring cycle for their acclaimed second album, ‘Helplessness Blues’, ceased in early 2012. Since then, fans were left trying to make sense of cryptic posts on social media, while ex-drummer Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, went off to become a star in his own right. It later transpired that Foxes’ frontman and songwriter, Robin Pecknold, had felt the need to take stock after the huge success of their first two records and had opted for a music and English literature degree at university instead of a return to the studio.
Spitting Image Virgin EMI
ee Here at Dork, we have a saying: Down With Boring. We like unpredictability, capriciousness and most importantly, fun. Unfortunately for The Strypes, their third album, ‘Spitting Image’, is about as much fun as doing your taxes. As with their previous records, they make no attempt to hide their influences, but there’s only so much calling back to the 1960s you can do. What The Strypes offer up here is blandness personified. Here’s the thing, though: ‘Spitting Image’, for the most part, isn’t ‘bad’ music. The problem is that it couldn’t be more ‘paint by numbers retro rock and roll’ if it tried. Jake Richardson
Occasionally, a talent will come along that insists the rest of us stop what we’re doing and pay attention. Not because of PR-fuelled noise or expensive baubles, but because they’ve genuinely captured something exciting. That’s Noga Erez. The musical world may not always have its beady eye trained on Tel Aviv, but by screaming loud enough, that attention can still come. And Noga, she’s yelling at the top of her lungs. Smart, incisive and politically charged, comparisons to M.I.A. and fka Twigs aren’t out of place, but Noga Erez is her own person, and she knows it. With a goal “to process the world,
and deliver ideas on how to process it”, that depth of intent doesn’t mean boorish lecture. Not when there are massive wonky pop bangers to be found. Title cut ‘Off The Radar’ is the kind of awkwardly brilliant track that deserves to slow burn its way into every best of list this side of 2018. Packing the smartest of hooks, it sounds like nothing else. Tense yet free, it’s both muscular and swathed in a Technicolor rainbow of influences. “I have this idea of giving people moments of thought and inspiration”, she offers, “and at the same time offering escapism and fun.” Mission accomplished. Stephen Ackroyd
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
Murder Of The Universe
eeee King Gizzard leave the exotic noodles of February’s ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’ at the door for a grand, three-tiered concept album. ‘Murder of the Universe’ sees the septet hack a distorted hole in the fabric of our times, stepping into Choose Your Own Adventure worlds where heroes battle mutating nasties. The second of five albums planned for 2017, it’s comfortably among their best: pummelling psychedelic punk, but with lo-fi frazzle swapped for an expansive, metallic wallop. Rob Mesure
e e e ee Heartbreak is at its most powerful when engulfed in a world of its own. That mantra can radiate through life, talks, the chat you have with a mate or in this case music. Stripping back the facade and pride is exactly where LANY sit, a band connected to the core of human emotion at every flick and affliction that continue to deliver powerhouses one after the other. After the EPs, after the devoted live shows, what’s left is a raw canvas to explore - and after all the talk and shines, LANY’s self-titled debut delivers on the introspective moments in abundance. Intoxicating from start to finish, what ‘LANY’ skills is that knack of finding vulnerability in the most shimmering of moments. Jamie Muir
While ‘Crack-Up’ is a reference to an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay, those fearing an inaccessible, avantgarde follow-up can breathe a sigh of relief. What the boys from Seattle have made is a beautifully produced, cinematic masterpiece. Opener ‘I Am All That I Need/ Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar’ follows on, quite literally, from where they left off; the opening chord is a continuation from the closer on ‘Helplessness Blues’ - a fan theory later confirmed by Pecknold himself. But where ‘Crack-Up’ differs from its predecessors is in the sheer scale and sense of ambition achieved in its songs. At times it feels as if you’re listening to a moving picture, while the band exercise enough restraint to prevent it all from sounding too bombastic or overpowering. ‘Crack-Up’ is undoubtedly the sound of a band at the peak of their powers. Alex Thorp 47
Public Service Broadcasting Every Valley
Play It Again Sam
eee It’s incredibly easy to write Public Service Broadcasting off as a gimmick; mashing together public service films and archival audio with electronica and rock. It’s as though two history teachers have thought up a “fun” and “cool” way to teach history. But as the project continued, it became clear that PSB had latched on to something special. Their third album, ‘Every Valley’ hones in on Welsh mining communities, exploring the pride of miners, even in the darkest of times. It avoids personalities like Thatcher and Scargill in favour of a broader look at the industry’s tumultuous history
Public Service Broadcasting
J. WILLGOOSE ESQ AND CO’S LATEST EFFORT LOOKS BACK AT THE SOUTH WALES MINING STRIKE IN THE 80S. WORDS: JOSH WILLIAMS.
“I think it’s a fascinating and very human story and, like all good stories, that’s what drew me in,” explains Public Service Broadcasting ringleader J. Willgoose Esq from Italy, where the band are currently previewing new album ‘Every Valley’. Their previous album ‘The Race For Space’ saw them explore the story of the Space Race, whereas ‘Every Valley’ sees the band return much closer to home. Recorded in the former mining town of Ebbw Vale, Willgoose explains: “It was important to me to find somewhere in the valleys to record. It didn’t feel right to write this album in isolation and record it away from the areas and events it addressed.” Indeed, the story of the mining industry in South Wales is the typical rise, fall, and ruin, and to help prepare, Willgoose interviewed ex-miners and their families. “It was an important part of the album - meeting the people involved, listening to their stories and not coming to it with any preconceived notions of what it was like or the issues they’d dealt with.” Was coming in as an outsider a worry for the band? “I was pleasantly surprised not to find any hostility. In fact, it was a supportive atmosphere everywhere I went, and with all the people I spoke to. Whether that’s down to the people there, their general attitude or just good luck I don’t know, but I’m very grateful for the support and encouragement.” The band return to the town to preview the album in two special shows in June. Willgoose thinks it’ll feel “quite emotional probably, and I don’t often let myself feel that way. It already feels like a special and unique time, and already feels a long time ago. I’m not sure we’ll ever get to make another album that way.”P 48
without losing any of the emotional power. Title track ‘Every Valley’ and ‘People Will Always Need Coal’ encapsulate the prestige; small villages were celebrated for powering an entire country. It’s full of hope, with sweeping strings and bright guitars. It’s with ‘All Out’ that things take a turn towards the history many of us know. Thrashing guitars that sound more at home on a PUP record channel the anger and frustration of the Thatcher-era strikes; this distinctly un-PSB moment standing out for all the right reasons. ‘Every Valley’ captures the history of the coal industry rather succinctly. At first, there’s hope, then there’s anger, but there’s always a feeling of pride and dignity maintained. It paints broad strokes in an era that deserves a more nuanced exploration, sure, but it’s an affecting and unique look at this period of history nonetheless. Chris Taylor
Bleachers Gone Now
eeeee Jack Antonoff’s every move has been captivating. Whether it was surging through his punk roots, shimmering into mainstream consciousness with Fun or dazzling into life as Bleachers and debut release ‘Strange Desire’ - Jack has always been the guy knocking on the doors of something special. With ‘Gone Now’, he hasn’t just topped the sky-high hits of ‘Strange Desire’, but taken them to a level that cements him at the top table of heart-onthe-sleeve modern pop glory. Bold, vibrant and free, ‘Gone Now’ is a raw collection of the corners of Jack’s psyche and one of the most rewarding records of the year so far because of it. Whether it’s giving a larger than life swell to the devastating examination of loss in
‘Everybody Lost Somebody’ or the chiming hits of ‘I Miss Those Days’ that manages to sound festive and electric at the same time, there’s a taste flicking around of a genius in their prime. It’s a record that opens itself up at every turn, not because of
paralysing fear but because coming closer means so much more than that. Dipped in exciting twists and heavyweight pop hooks, ‘Gone Now’ could be the record that influences an entire generation of pop superstars, and rightfully so. Jamie Muir
Big Scary Monsters
e e e ee
e e e ee
Each track on ‘Ultralife’ is built upon a cloud of analogue synth that gives a warmth to their poppy architecture, brought to life with Oh Wonder’s heartfelt lyrics, filled with promise; “There’s so much soul inside my bones” from the title track offers it all up on a silver platter. The voices of Josephine and Anthony meld together perfectly. Across the album there are plenty of moments that keep you hooked, be it the smooth-jazz infused ‘Heavy’ or the swelling strings of penultimate track ‘My Friends’, each offering is made to give you a reason to stay. There’s no stopping Oh Wonder: ‘Ultralife’ is a fantastic pop record that wears its influences on its sleeve. Steven Loftin
Adrianne Lenker is an old soul trapped in a young body. She has certainly seen plenty in her 25 years, giving her enough stories to make a lifetime’s worth of material. From growing up in a cult to getting seriously injured by debris from a makeshift treehouse, Adrianne’s life is full of colour and challenges – and these experiences lend themselves perfectly to Big Thief’s homespun folk-rock. ‘Capacity’, the follow-up to 2016’s appropriately titled ‘Masterpiece’ is another raw and powerful collection of songs, intimate and sparse but possessing a wonderful storytelling narrative. Its striking beauty and pointed lyrics will steal your heart. Rob Mair
eee Kamikaze Girls aren’t afraid of looking deep inside themselves for answers. They’re not afraid of telling it like it is and calling out the world, either. Two sides of the same coin, they combine to make a band who belong right here, right now. From the defiant “Touch me again, I will knock your fucking lights out” of ‘KG Goes To The Pub’ (too right - Ed), it’s clear that nobody here has time for your patriarchal bollocks. ‘I Don’t Want To Be Sad Forever’ deals with everything from war to art, misogyny to segregation. There’s no need for awkward metaphors or sly hints. It’s on the table. This is what Kamikaze Girls believe in, and why they’re worth believing in themselves. Stephen Ackroyd
Paramore After Laughter
e are Paramore.” For four albums, the band were defiant and united under that simple idea. Bold, brash and determined to persevere, the band took the fires of the world and used them as fuel. Paramore came up on top because what other option was there. Album five is different. The band are
still a band but there are no brave faces here. There’s no hiding behind an idea, or pretending because you have to. Instead ‘After Laughter’ is okay with not being okay. While the music busies itself with a tropical landscape, all sunshine, smiles and postcard-perfect moments of joyous escape, the lyrics are trapped under the weight of the real world. And it ain’t fun. ‘After Laughter’ knows something has shifted (“remember
when we used to like ourselves?”) but it doesn’t know how to react. Caught somewhere in the middle, the record pushes people away (‘Idle Worship’) and is desperate to hold them close (‘Grudges’). It might be an album of conflict, both sonically and emotionally, and there’s no end in sight but that doesn’t mean ‘After Laughter’ is hopeless. It’s a coming of age record for when the world says you should have it all figured out by now. Paramore have never exactly done what was expected though. 5more is figuring things out in real time and it asks questions without waiting for answers. “Is it enough to keep on hoping when the rest have given up?” Despite the harsh realities, there’s peace to be found. While ‘Fake Happy’ finds power in vulnerable honesty and ‘Grudges’ is happy to let things go, ‘Idle
Worship’ still has sparks of optimism, “We could let the light illuminate these hopeless places,” it offers. Backed by neon starshine, it provides a gravitational pull that’s hard to resist. And that’s where Paramore really shine. Even when they’re focused on the bedroom ceiling, they speak with a universal language. They can’t help but care. Instead of trying to find closure, ‘After Laughter’ is content with the immediate. The Paramore of old were out to take on the world and their war cry was about feeling unstoppable. This time around, there’s victory to be found in still standing. Hearts, souls and unspeakable truths, the band have given their all to ‘After Laughter’ and in the words of ‘No Friend’, “If nothing comes of it, then just know we are grateful.” Ali Shutler
Gimmie more, more, Paramore A quick run through the band’s other albums? Sure. Pay attention, class.
All We Know Is Falling 2005
The debut. Impossibly young, Paramore sounded like a band destined to become leaders in their niche. The fact they’d become something more remained hidden until much later, though.
The breakthrough. Packing some of the band’s biggest hits, ‘Riot!’ is the moment that potential became reality. From ‘Misery Business’ to ‘crushcrushcrush’, it’s packing more than its fair share of bangers.
Brand New Eyes 2009
The break-up. Brand New Eyes was build on a foundation of failed relationships and internal frustrations. Against all the odds, it resulted in one of their greatest triumphs before the house came tumbling down.
The break down. Reduced to a three piece, this is where Paramore took the machine a part and rebuilt it. Half emo-pop-punkers, half pop genius, the seeds planted here are what blossomed into ‘After Laughter’. 49
How Did We Get So Dark?
t’s safe to say that when Royal Blood released their first album in 2014 they very quickly became a massive band. Now it’s three years later and they’ve returned with the follow up ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’. Singer/bassist Mike Kerr carries himself on this record with the self-assured swagger of a frontman who knows his stuff, and even though at times the lyrics have the emotional delicacy of a 15 year old cracking a nut with a sledgehammer it’s clear that both him and band mate Ben Thatcher have grown as musicians from the very first notes of the QOTSA-esque title track. Considering the two-piece dynamic of a band, they’ve come out with songs that sound so much larger. ‘I Only Lie When I Love You’ smoothly waltzes
through with licks left right and centre and cowbell keeping them in line, ‘Look Like You Know’ is a fist pumper made for the biggest stages, whilst the previously released ‘Where Are You Now?’ has been redone and dialled up to become THE anthem that bands dream of writing. The album’s finest moment comes on ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ with its opening riff the size of a black hole dragging you into what is surely one day to be considered a classic. That being said, the album does drag at points – particularly on ‘She’s Creeping’ and ‘Don’t Tell’ – but let’s face it, no one expected Royal Blood to come back with an absolute game changer. What they have come back with is a great album that departs from their debut while holding on to what people love them for. Big massive rock songs that punch you in the face. Josh Williams
Waxahatchee Out In The Storm Merge Records
eeee “It’s a very honest record about a time in which I was not honest with myself,” says Crutchfield. Indeed, nowhere is this more apparent than in the record’s typically heartfelt lyrics and atypically noisy instrumentation. It’s as if ‘Out in the Storm ‘is the heated counterpart to ‘Ivy Trip’, the righteous anger that comes after the heartache of a break up, the burn that gets you through the other side of an ended relationship. An effort not just in personal reflection, but in achieving self-awareness through supportive
relationships, ‘Out in the Storm ‘is the sonic equivalent of flicking the Vs to all that’s getting you down and going to a gig with your pals. It’s the next step of moving on with your life, with help from the best, when things are changing beyond your control. Indeed, it is Crutchfield’s moment to honestly confront that which she has previously musically side-stepped with a sound that is as fecund as her outpourings. Above all, while experimentations of style are always a risky move, Waxahatchee’s evolution of sound feels truthful and organic. Rosie Ramsden
WORDS: JESSICA GOODMAN. PHOTO: DANNY PAYNE.
The Cribs celebrate a decade of ‘Men’s Needs’ in Leeds
t takes something truly special in a record to inspire the kind of earnest adoration that fills up an arena a decade after the songs were released. Approaching Leeds First Direct Arena on Saturday you can practically see the wave of excitement grow. From the steady increase in matching band t-shirts to the groups of friends chanting guitar riffs in the street, the devotion is apparent before you even make it through the venue doors. This is what The Cribs do best, and it’s never been more apparent than with the ten year celebration of ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’. Whether it’s the first, fifteenth, or fiftieth time seeing the band play, the response is always the same: a sincere expression of enthusiasm for songs that resound with as much keenly felt emotion now as the moment you first tuned into them. The instant the opening riff of ‘Our Bovine Public’ kicks
in, the energy in the room hits fever pitch. Sure, those near the front might spend much of the next hour and a half trying to figure out where they put their feet in the clamour, but surrounded by people all screaming along to the album that cemented the band in hearts and minds as indie rock darlings, there’s little else that seems to matter. Chants of “YORKSHIRE!” rise and fall, circle pits open and close, crowdsurfers soar and drop, and the audience hold each other on their feet as they all indulge in the excitement of the moment. On stage, the Jarmans are on ferociously top form. Playing by the rules for once, with a set list mostly pre-ordained by the occasion, the group throw themselves into their performance with characteristically reckless abandon. Cribs shows have never been about finesse, but feeling - and this is something that scales to staggering heights when Lee Ranaldo steps onto the stage for ‘Be Safe’. As he reads his
monologue off a sheet of paper and the Jarmans lead their colossal chorus chants (their first time performing the song live together in the U.K.), it’s a moment that finds a home among the heartstrings of everyone present. Of course, the excitement doesn’t end at just one album. Performing a series of rare cuts and celebrated anthems from all across their career, the devotion demonstrated for ‘Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever’ over the course of tonight is one The Cribs continuously inspire with everything they do. Ending with the euphoric ‘Pink Snow’, chants of “I’ll try and be brave for you” flood the venue as pink confetti fills the air. Tonight isn’t just about one album. Tonight is about everything that led to here. A celebration in appreciation of every ounce of adoration that’s come their way, what’s showcased here tonight is an energy that feels sure to last forever. P
The Big Moon invite everyone at Village Underground to join their gang The Big Moon‘s debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ is a glimpse into their tightly knit world of one another, laced with the sort of confidence that comes from complete ease in your surroundings and the belief that only best friends inspire. In front of a very sold out Village Underground, Jules, Celia, Fern and Soph make everyone part of it. There’s a gravity to their performance (and the space references stop here). Despite the record being out for a brief moment, every track is taken to the edge of its tether and the crowd follows. From the all-out-celebration of ‘Silent Movie Susie’ through the shimmering bite of ‘Pull The Other One’ and out to the marching declaration of ‘Sucker’, The Big Moon take the recorded energy and run with it. It’s hyperactive, knee-jerk and every movement chases their unquenchable desire for a good time. “We’ve got so much energy, we’ve been fizzing all day,” explains Cee. “It feels like everyone’s birthday.” The Big Moon are brilliant when they’re moving at a hundred miles an hour, but they’re also superb when they pause, teetering on the edge and toying with tension. ‘Zeds’ sways with a daydream escape, while ‘The End’ is calm, collected but grinning before exploding in a whirling mess of deliberately jagged noise. It’s ‘Bonfire’ that really showcases just how far The Big Moon can push it live though. Bonkers and unhinged, the band still find a beauty in the chaos and despite the evershifting shapes they pull. But the most impressive part of The Big Moon is how inviting it all is. At no point is tonight a spectator sport. It would easy for the band to turn inwards, towards the safety of one another, as they play their Biggest Ever Headline Show but the more faces before them, the more friends they want to make. P
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
On the road
Get your diary out - you won’t want to miss these bands on tour.
MØ has announced her biggest UK and Ireland tour to date, including a show at the 5,000 capacity O2 Academy Brixton in London. Support on all dates comes from her Chess Club Records label mate, Skott. Belfast (20th October), Dublin (21st), Bristol (23rd), Glasgow (24th), Manchester (25th), London (27th), Norwich (28th), Birmingham (29th)
Did you catch PVRIS when they played a handful of small UK shows the other month? No, you missed it? Well that’s okay - look who’s back in November, following the release of their new album. Bristol (22nd November), Birmingham (23rd), Dublin (24), Belfast (25th), Glasgow (27th), Manchester (28th), London (30th)
Dua Lipa’s debut album was super delayed, and as such this ‘self-titled’ headline tour has been a very long time coming. Miss it and who knows when you’ll get another chance to see her. Brighton (5th October), Bournemouth (6th), Leeds (8th), Manchester (10th), Glasgow (11th), Newcastle (13th), Birmingham (14th), London (6th November)
Superfood’s debut was one of the most fun albums of 2014. The jury’s out on whether the follow-up will reach the same heights, but it’s got Matty Healy’s nod of approval, so here’s hoping. Bristol (4th October), Southampton (5th), London (6th), Manchester (7th), Newcastle (9th), Glasgow (10th), Birmingham (11th), Nottingham (12th), Leicester (13th)
20th - 29th October
22nd - 30th November
5th October - 6th November
4th - 13th October
WORDS: MARTYN YOUNG. PHOTO: RYAN JOHNSTON.
Rat Boy brings new tricks to expected chaos Jordan Cardy and his gang of Rat Boy pals are on prime rabble-rousing form as they take to the stage for the first leg of their UK tour at Glasgow’s ABC. There’s a certain degree of anticipation before any Rat Boy gig. You don’t know quite what you’re going to get but you do know it’s going to be thrilling whatever happens. This time around excitement is at fever pitch as Rat Boy arrive in town with a bunch of new songs to preview from that forthcoming long-awaited debut album. Not that the expectation bothers Jordan and co as they attack the songs and bounce around the stage with typical reckless abandon. ‘Turn Round M8’ instantly sets the crowd off like a firecracker has been lit and they respond in kind to Jordan’s incitement to jump around and sing at the top of their voices. There’s something truly intoxicating when Rat Boy’s high energy Beastie Boys infected indie fusion is in full flow. Previous singles like last summers ‘Get Over It’ are delivered in supercharged versions that are thrillingly ragged and threaten to fall apart at any minute. Rat Boy are now pros at this game though and they always maintain the show and just about keep themselves in one piece.
There is evidence of a growing assurance to Rat Boy. The bunch of new songs played are distinctive and highlight there’s more to Rat Boy than snotty punk. There’s even a genuine arms in the air singalong anthem that would grace any classic Britpop compilation and Jordan feigns surprise that the crowd would dance to a ‘love song’ like one of the new acoustic tinged tracks. Latest single ‘Revolution’ gets a huge reaction befitting of Rat Boy’s biggest banger yet. It’s at moments like this that you can imagine Jordan and his crew playing any stage in the country. Of course, as the show careers towards its climax things begin to break down as they deliver ramshackle versions of old favourites ‘Move’ and ‘Fake ID’. Everyone laps it up though, this is the Rat Boy that they came to see. Tonight is a step up for Rat Boy. The stage is decorated and filled with props – road traffic signs, nothing too fancy, and it’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into putting on a performance, see for example the GTA style radio DJ that punctuates the gap between songs. However, as Jordan leaves the stage doing a celebratory lap on his trusty bicycle it’s clear this is the same old Rat Boy we fell for. P
WORDS: JAMIE MUIR. PHOTO: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
Will Joseph Cook’s portfolio of bangers shines in London
ook around us; this is fucking mental.” They’re the words that fly out of the mouth of Will Joseph Cook as he steps to the stage for a headline night at London’s Heaven and there is an unmistakable sense of occasion. Whether it’s the bustling gathering of teenage fans flocking to the venue right from the moment the doors open, or the conversations that fly with Get Inuit’s Jamie Glass sitting behind the merch desk, there’s an overriding sense that this is a moment we should all note down. A pop purveyor laying everything on the line and living in a moment that many would have put in their diaries or
circled on their calendars – this is the moment that Will Joseph Cook has been building up to. Sizzling throughout, there are bodies on the shoulders when belting out to the instantly classic refrains of ‘Biggest Fan’ or ‘Take Me Dancing’ – the latter greeted with a sing-along refrain that almost drowns out Will as he croons in style through his mic. Swaggering with an effortless charm, his dips across debut album ‘Sweet Dreamer’ are glorious, whether it’s the opening line in the sand of the title track itself or delves into early EPs and album cuts, this is Will Joseph Cook living the life he’s been singing about for years now. Sweet, heavy-
hitting yet indisputably necessary for here and now – it’s the moment a modern pop price solidifies his standing with aplomb. Screams ring out, bodies fly in unrivalled joy, and one message becomes clear. Will Joseph Cook’s combination of pop’s varied sides and shades is purely unavoidable, and we should all get to grips that our soundtrack is primed in place. Effortless and surging with the sense that this is only the beginning, Will Joseph Cook’s turn in Heaven is a tantalising appetiser to the globe he’s about to conquer. Pop with personality has another crowning nod, and its next step is an utterly unmissable one. P
REVIEWS WORDS: ALI SHUTLER, ELLIOT RYDER, JORDAN FOSTER, JENESSA WILLIAMS PHOTO: DANNY PAYNE.
Here’s everything important that happened at Live at Leeds A N D A LSO SO M E T H I N G S T H AT W E RE N ’ T T H AT I M P O RTA N T TO O.
“YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE!” SOUNDS THE CHANT FROM INSIDE THE KEY CLUB. “OH, HERE WE FUCKING GO,” GRINS MATTIE VANT. Live At Leeds is the first proper festival of the year but you don’t really want to hear about our calendar, do you? The other 364 days don’t matter today. After an opening warm-up from Future Islands, People (and one inflatable flamingo) bound from venue to venue to pub back-room to city centre and back again, chasing the bands that have dominated their playlists and have promised to be worth watching. There’s excitement around every corner, whether it’s from our Get Inuit t-shirt (that we were press-ganged into wearing) to seeing band members out in the wild, and that translates across every show we see. There’s no stepping back and waiting to be impressed here in Leeds. It’s a full-bodied propulsion that sees the festival want to embrace it all. Here’s everything important that happened. 12:00 We say hello to Husky Loops. Hi Husky Loops. Okay, not everything is important. 12:47 Dead Naked Hippies start 54
strong, bouncing around with the sort of vigour that could be dangerous considering how much kit is packed into the tiny stage. The music is equally chaotic, enough shrieking vocals for the emo kids at the front but plenty of driving rock rhythm for the old timers lingering at the back. ‘Drain You’ is a highlight, the result of a brooding kickabout between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nirvana. (JW) 14:00 Husky Loops are infectious – a viral threat to any sedate atmosphere, commanding a fatal attraction which only intensifies when trying to solve the puzzle hidden in their music. Their idiosyncratic creations perplex and entice like a piece of modern art. It’s only a matter of time before
16:00 “We’re King Nun and we know what you’re thinking, ‘oh, another band called King something’.” From the off, King Nun are self-aware but never expected. Tumbling about the stage, the band toy with chaos and control, somehow never tipping over but avoiding the predictable at all costs. ‘Tulip’ is a rampaging monster, all vicious melody and unhinged laughter while ‘Hung Around’ leans back from your face, playing hard to get but still writing you poetry. Every shade of King Nun is drastically different but instead of clashing, their rag-tag rainbow is furiously vibrant and brilliantly odd. (AS)
more heads are turned and Husky Loops make the jump from the bizarre to beloved purveyors of far-out rock. (ER) 17:00 There’s so much expectation surrounding the will they/won’t they/when will they release of their debut album, it’s easy to forget how many songs
Black Honey already have. Stepping away from the big picture and welcome to a world where Black Honey aren’t on the cusp of greatness, ‘cos they’re already there. Packing out the o2 Academy, the band don’t blink as they careen through a back catalogue that’s jam-packed with huge choruses, sunshine escape and lashings of their curled lip personality. In a half hour of power, it’s newest darling ‘Somebody Better’ that shines a little brighter, all road trip freedoms and lush, wistful landscapes, but it’s a close contest. Every movement adds another edge to their already-crafted vision and even the devil in the details is wearing a wicked grin. (AS) 18:15 From the off Dead! are clear with what they want to achieve when presented with an opportunity to strut their stuff. Mercurial in their demeanour, the band are breathless, and happily concentrate on evoking the same passionate retort that can be found on their recorded tracks. A swathe of genuine emotion rings out from every lyric and rattling riff as the band chug along from start to finish. (ER) 19:00 Somewhere along the line, The Magic Gang transformed themselves from off-centre indie misfits, balancing a love of pop and the past, to proper
stars. As they take to the Church backed with latest EP ‘Three’, everything is in place for a showing of majesty and beauty. There’s no such refrain here though. From the off, it’s marvellous chaos as the band pluck their melodyheavy hooks from the background and parade them about the room. ‘How Can I Compete’ is still a jangly bag of rhythm and good vibrations but shared with a room full of people, it’s a raging anthem of admiration. There’s a sparkle in the air, it’s the unlikeliest party this side of 1999 and it feels like sheer magic. (AS)
fuzzed-up and hooky ‘Mother’. Hammered out towards the set’s end, ‘Well Done’ is equally as angst-ridden, and its energy is genuinely unparalleled at LAL. Some bands make music to escape the world around them, some cloak philosophy in riddles and twisted semantics, whilst others challenge politics head-on in the most conspicuous form – this quartet do the latter. There’s a blistering punk-shaped volcano bubbling away in 2017; but whilst you’ll find genre-spearheads such as Slaves erupting into the mainstream psyche, your real Idles stand right in front of you. (JF)
19:15 “SAINSBURY’S! SAINSBURY’S! SAINSBURY’S!” is not the sort of chant you’d expect to hear ringing around our stage between Idles’ vociferous, anti-establishment gripes. But thanks to a fresh-out-of-his-supermarketday-job reveller, hauled on-stage by Joe Talbot, it’s not only cuts from the snarling ‘Brutalism’ that’s lapped up by an anarchic audience. “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”, screams Talbot during the
20:15 By the time HMLTD take to the stage, the hype has already been well and truly planted. Strutting around Leeds all morning with full entourage in a dress code that can only be described as ‘militant-glam’, their set is one of the big curios of the day. Nobody is disappointed – their dirty, sexy shock-pop is fascinating and thrillingly impossible to predict. One minute they’re harking back to the
glory days of the new rave, the next they’re haemorrhaging grit and glitter, skulking about the diminutive stage and pointing at members of the crowd as if some personally wrongdoing has taken place. By the time they climax with ‘Joanna’, we’re pretty confident that we’ve just witnessed one of the UK’s most exciting live bands. (JW) 20:35 Get Inuit are a silly band. They spent the trip to LAL looking at camels and their onstage ‘banter’ doesn’t get anymore serious. “This is a new song called ‘All My Friends’. It probably won’t be as good as all the other songs but please like it,” pleads Jamie. As if anyone could resist its desire for
a daydream or it’s twirling need for fun. Elsewhere ‘Pro-Procrastinator’ is a bursting release of frustration twisted into one of those defining-songs-ofa-generation while the jagged purity of ‘Barbiturates’, all deceiving serenity and ridiculous choruses features half a dozen Actual Moments that are both
life-affirming and utterly escapist. Get Inuit are one of the best bands around and everyone present knows it. (AS) 20:45 Live At Leeds host a glut of bands that are shaping tomorrow’s genres But whilst their bubbling blend is as alien as anything else here today, Jagwar Ma are indebted to the past. As a euphoric selection of late 20th century influences. Armed with jittery dance shapes and a beaming ear-to-ear grin, Gabriel Winterfield is the triumphant cherryon-the-cake focal point. Pumping, atmospheric and constantly danceable – the Aussie trio can do little more to boost their gradual climb up the ladder of festival bills. (JF) 22:30 Drawing the festival and their own ‘Boy King’ era to a close, Wild Beasts look as if they’re having more fun than ever under the evening’s neon lights. Clad casually and throwing out anecdotes about their time spent dwelling in Leeds, they run through a career-spanning set with good humour, Tom Fleming doubling over with laughter as Hayden Thorpe throws caution to the wind during ‘Celestial Creatures’, clambering over the barrier and strolling casually through the crowd. A fittingly local headliner, they leave amid chants of ‘Yorkshire!’, ‘Leeds!’ and ‘Kendal!’ as heroes. (JW) 22:40 “Oi Nigel, don’t forget your hat,” shouts Mattie Vant. P
21:30 There’s a very real message at the heart of everything VANT do and with ‘Dumb Blood’ out, it’s become very clear. They’re a band that are Doing Things and Saying Stuff. Instead of people trying to avoid the obvious though, the very full Key Club embraces it all. Party politics from the word go, the band rage through their set, constantly pushing the music to the end of its tether but never letting it snap. And as rampant and heated as things get ‘fuck me Leeds, there’s sweat dropping from the ceiling”, there’s a community of care throughout. Mattie stops someone crowdsurfing to protect the people at the front, water is handed out in an orderly fashion and when someone asks if they can sing onstage, of course the band oblige. Sure Nigel doesn’t really know how ‘Parking Lot’ starts but Mattie doesn’t let him leave until he’s nailed it. Afterall, VANT are a band keen to get people using their voice. (AS)
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BLAENAVON ANY OTHER Q U E S T I O N S WITH...
THIS MONTH, BEN FROM BLAENAVON RUNS THE GAUNTLET OF OUR RANDOM, STUPID QUERIES.
HELLO. HOW ARE YOU? A bit uptight. I shouted a bit earlier. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO TODAY? Learning to play ‘Mr. Brightside’ on the guitar. It’s not too hard but it’s become obvious to me that the lead guitarist of ‘The Killers’ had a lengthy left hand. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? I won an award at my secondary school prom. I think they gave me the wrong medal though. I was expecting ‘Most Likely To Be A Fucking Bossman’, but I was given ‘Facebook Addict’ instead. WHAT’S THE BEST SONG YOU’VE WRITTEN OR PLAYED ON? I wrote a song called ‘Toothpick Baby Sick’ that hasn’t been released yet because apparently, the market for that type of music doesn’t exist in this universe, yet.
READING OR LEEDS? Banned from both.
HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? See above. YOU HAVE TO SUPPORT EITHER U2 OR RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS ON TOUR. WHO DO YOU PICK? Support Red Hot Chili Peppers, and U2 are first on, and The Edge borrows my amp, but he can’t get the tone quite shiny enough so he storms off and Bono has to convince him it’s okay and he comes back on, and it’s okay. WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE NEW BAND? The Night Café are my favourite new band and favourite new friends. WHAT WAS THE FIRST RECORD YOU BOUGHT? I didn’t pay for it, but I remember being excited to keep the free CD you get for your car at Longleat Safari Park. It hasn’t aged amazingly but still got a lot of enjoyable listens out of it.
WHO WAS YOUR FAVE MUSICIAN WHEN YOU WERE 14? The Edge. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST? Frank cooked me Egg Noodle.
WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? I dreamt that I lived in the X-Men universe and we were threatened by a fierce hurricane but my team and I kept ourselves locked in Professor X’s vibrant hostel and waited for it to blow over and it was okay. WHAT STRENGTH NANDOS SAUCE DO YOU ORDER? No more tears. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? THE NECK OF MY GUITAR!!!!! WHAT’S THE MOST IMPRESSIVE THING YOU CAN COOK? Grilled cheese. HAVE YOU EVER WON ANYTHING?
Bohunt School Maths Challenge 2010. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Erupting into this universe confused and alone. IF YOU COULD BRING SOMETHING EXTINCT BACK TO LIFE, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? Indie rock. WHAT’S THE SCARIEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE? Walked to school alone. DO YOU BELIEVE IN ALIENS? Yes, they are living among us.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY SECRET TATTOOS? I have the Converse logo tattooed on each ankle as I am official UK ambassador. Please read this and give me free Converse because mine have broken again. IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHAT WOULD YOU SPEND THE CASH ON? Gum. P
Featuring Alt-J, Bleachers, Royal Blood, Oh Wonder, The Drums, The Great Escape 2017 and loads, loads more.