Dork, November 2021

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Index. Issue 60 | November 2021 | | Down With Boring


A thing we cannot mention until the start of November, but we’re putting here anyway like a bunch of twats, because that’s exactly what we are

Alfie Templeman has ‘done a thing’, and the ‘thing’ that he has ‘done’ is the best ‘thing’ he has ‘done’ so far. You’ll be able to hear it after this magazine is out, but before the next one arrives - but we’re putting it here because he’s sort of tweeted a bit about it and therefore it’s not entirely secret that ‘a thing’ is coming. Well done, ‘Alfie Templeman’. You are officially good at music. STEPHEN



Now That’s What I Call Drenge

Their ‘best of’ Spotify playlist, obvi. Sadly prompted by Martyn’s fireworks Top 10 (p20) cos they have a song with ‘bonfire’ in the title that was (outrageously) excluded, as opposed to any sort of comeback. What an underrated band. WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, DRENGE? VICTORIA SINDEN,

WE LOVE A GOOD POP STAR, Dear Reader. And Remi Wolf, she’s a very good pop star. Our latest cover star has been on our favourites list for a good while now, so with the release of her boptastic debut album, we’re absolutely delighted to put her exactly where she belongs - on the biggest stage possible. There’s a lot of awesome stuff going on this month. Flip over a few pages and you’ll find an interview with Self Esteem, who is about to release one of the albums of the year in the shape of her second solo full-length ‘Prioritise Pleasure’. Skip about a bit more and you’ll find Courtney Barnett and Snail Mail, both of whom are returning with awesome bodies of work, or Spill Tab and BLACKSTARKIDS, who bring the kind of day-glo vibrancy that gets us out of our metaphorical musical beds in the morning. As 2021 comes towards a close, it’s remarkable just how much great music is about. The last eighteen months may have been an up and down, desperately upsetting and stressful time - but it’s also produced some great art. Both that reflects what we’ve been through, and also escpaist treats that pull us out of the mire. If you keep reading through to the back of this issue, you’ll also find our brand new section dedicated to live music. Live reports, photos, behind the scenes snaps and all the latest gig listings, just being able to put together something like that is proof of just how far we’ve come. That’s something worth a toast. Cheers, everyone!



By the time you read this Dear Reader, you’ll have heard the new Adele song. At the time of writing, we have not. We can only presume that the new dubstep-flavoured direction Adele has gone in has truly revolutionized the world and now we all drink beer-cocktails and wear cowboy boots on our head. Here’s to the future, but for now - what a banger of an album this is eh?! JAMIE MUIR, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor Ali Shutler Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young Scribblers Alex Cabre, Chris Taylor, Connor Fenton, Dan Harrison, Edie McQueen, Finlay Holden, Jessica Goodman, Jamie MacMillan, Josh Williams, Neive McCarthy, Phoebe De Angelis, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin Snappers Blythe Thomas, Corinne Cumming, Frances Beach, Haley Appell, Ian Laidlaw Jake Kelly, Jamie MacMillan, Jordan Curtis Hughes, Joseph Clarke, Mia Mala McDonald, MK Sadler, Mowgly Lee, Olivia Richardson, Patrick Gunning, Polocho, Riley Donahue, Robin Clewley, Samuel Fisher, Sarah Louise Bennett, Tina Tyrell



All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of The Bunker Publishing Ltd. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which The Bunker Publishing Ltd holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of Dork or its staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.

‘Editor’ @stephenackroyd



This Month. #60. NOVEMBER 2021.


As Self Esteem, Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s first solo effort was a much-acclaimed critical success. Her follow up - ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ - is quite probably one of the albums of the year.







Thomas Headon can surf. And he wants the world to know. So here’s us, doing exactly that. ‘Cowabunga’, ‘dude’! With fresh single ‘Monday’ teasing The Regrettes’ first full-length release since 2019’s ‘How Do You Love?’, Lydia Night shares the joys and challenges of shaking things up - ‘exciting’ seems to be the key word.


HONNE are back with their third full-length ‘LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ - mouthful of a title, but easy to swallow with their free wheeling alt-pop perogative.


Dork fave mxmtoon is always up to interesting new stuff. Her latest endeavour? Performing the singing voice for the main character in the latest installment of video game Life is Strange.






We want to know what you think for next month’s massive double issue extravaganza!

With her debut album finally here, we find out what it’s like to be Zuzu.


Let’s Eat Grandma! Mitski! Wet Leg! Phoebe Green! Loads more! Catch up with the best new tracks from the last month.


It’s bonfire season, 5th November approaches, and the toffee apples are ready for a good ol’ munch. This month, we’ve asked Martyn to select his favourite ten fireworks songs. Boom.

Hype. 22 DEXTER

South West London’s Dexter has just released her debut EP ‘I Do Love A Good Sandwich’, and if that’s not enough to win you over, well - you’re reading the wrong magazine.


Loads of bands are great. Some are even important, but few come out of the blocks already feeling special. Bleach Lab do, though - which is worth getting very excited about indeed.


Zeitgeisty 20-year-old JJ Shurbet, aka scruffpuppie, is equally adept at turning out an emo-pop bop as they are a heartstring-tugging piano ballad.


A new pop duo is on the scene, and The Let Go are rapidly drawing attention.


Courtney Barnett is on a quest for joy, pulling optimism out of the darkness for a new album that’s quietly hopeful.




Moving on from the coming-of-age uncertainty of her debut, Snail Mail’s second album establishes her as a force to be reckoned with.


Having spent the past few years accruing fans like no one’s business, Dirty Hit signees BLACKSTARKIDS are making their opening statement.

Incoming. 50 REVIEWS

All the new releases you need to know, and a couple you probably don’t.


Molly Payton is what we like to refer to as ‘a talent’. She’s just dropped her brand new mini-album, ‘Slack’ – so we asked her to tell us all about it in her own words.


It’s an awe-inspiring showcase for the future as Bring Me take on the O2.


No gimmicks. No bullshit. It’s impossible to resist beabadoobee live.


Blossoms triumph as they prove they’ve got what it takes at O2 Forum Kentish Town.


Inhaler and Wet Leg prove world domination is on the cards for the latest batch of new bands.


Get up close with Yungblud, dodie, Sam Fender and behind the scenes with L Devine in our showcase of the best live music photography from the last month.




Back Page.

Ross and Rocky Lynch are back with the second album from The Driver Era, and it’s a record born from love. Aw. Spill Tab is rounding off 2021 with a new EP, featuring pals Jawny, Tommy Genesis and Gus Dapperton. Dream team.


All the shows you need to be at, this month and beyond.


Sundara Karma’s Oscar Pollock is the latest to take our gauntlet of random queries.

34. Cover story.


Remi Wolf may not consider herself strictly ‘a pop star’, but with one of the biggest, most fun records of the year so far, we certainly do. There’s no room for boring here. 5.



REIGNING. As Self Esteem, Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s first solo effort was a much-acclaimed critical success. Her follow up - ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ - is quite probably one of the albums of the year. WORDS: Martyn Young. PHOTOGRAPHY: Olivia Richardson.

ACK IN 2017, WHEN Rebecca Lucy Taylor was formulating how to translate her Self Esteem art project into a fully-fledged solo career, her aims were relatively simple. “I just want to make a Rihanna record,” she told us in one of her first interviews. Five years later, Self Esteem has outgrown those modest aims to become something all-encompassing and vital, establishing Rebecca as a new pop icon. “That was the springboard, but now I’ve become me,” she says today as she readies the release of her second album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’. “I just go in with no agenda and create,” she says. The work she has created is a masterpiece, and Self Esteem has developed from an intriguing side hustle to a life-changing, world-building sensory experience with Rebecca’s unflinching honesty and emotion front and centre. The album is Rebecca’s grand statement and the perfect encapsulation of what Self Esteem is about, both as a musical project and a way of life. A way of traversing through turmoil and trauma and coming out the other side. Uniquely the period leading up to the album release is one of calmness and equanimity for Rebecca, content in the knowledge that she has created something special. “I just feel very, very ready,” she says excitedly. “I’m kind of overwhelmed at the response to the singles so far. Playing live has also gone up a level. All of it is just bigger and better and what I really wanted for myself. I feel like a bowling ball rolling down the hill and not taking it in yet, but I guess this is what it’s like if things go REBECCA LUCY TAYLOR well. “I’m just excited for people to hear the full piece of work because it isn’t just singles. It’s a chunky body which makes sense when you play it all together.” ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ marks a change in the journey for Self Esteem. Her debut album ‘Compliments Please’ was born from anger and a desire to escape. A desire to escape what she once was in her previous band, Slow Club, and a desire to escape what people expected from her. “I was so desperate to get out of the situation that I was in, and so much of it was tied up in how unwell my mental health was,” she explains. The difference this time around is that she’s no longer consciously reacting against something specific. “I think I wanted to get out so badly and wanted to make pop music that was interesting, and that would fly and do all these ideas that I had for years, but now on this record, I don’t have that. I haven’t felt that mad pressure to prove anything this time, and I’m just happily making exactly what I want.” “I’m kind of making music like a straight man now,” she laughs. “They just get to make the music that they want to make. They don’t have to compromise; they just get to make it. I’m in the position now where that’s me and the fact that people are liking it at the same time that I’m becoming more peaceful, calmer and relaxed in what I’m doing and understanding my process and who I am in the world, those two things together has been fucking great.” The thread that runs through all of Self Esteem’s work is the force of Rebecca’s personality. There are no boundaries, no filters and nothing is held back. On ‘Prioritise Pleasure’, this is ramped up even further. “I will always say shit with my music, and it will always come so deeply from me and my feelings. I’m a fucking emotional

“Madonna throughout the 90s is all I care about aesthetically”


Self Esteem at Latitude 2021. Photo: Frances Beach.

“This era is the no fucks left to give era”

this album. “I want person who feels like it to be about more they do every day in than just music. I a hardcore way,” she want it to be a fullsays. “The change is scale experience,” now I’m accepting of she proclaims. “That’s that in myself, and I’m what I’m into as an not embarrassed about artist. Cut me and it, and it’s taken some REBECCA LUCY TAYLOR open my skin and look pressure off. Before, I inside. That just feels was so angry. I’m still right to me. I think people go, oh, you’re angry, but I think it’s more nuanced and so open, how does that feel? Well, I’d feel interesting rather than pushing back more uncomfortable not being open.” against stuff.” That openness manifests itself Rebecca is supremely switched on in a profoundly emotional, witty and about just what it is that makes pop music immensely powerful album that details special. That lifts the professional and what it’s like to be a woman in modern the mundane into something soaring and society and does it in a hugely resonant transcendent. She’s a student of the pop way. It’s a culmination of a series of icons of the past who realised pop could events that led Rebecca to say, no, I’m be a lot more than just some nice songs. not gonna let this happen anymore. “A “Madonna throughout the 90s is all I care about aesthetically,” she exclaims. She also few shitty things have happened to me,” she explains about the last few years. recognises the importance of giving each “Since the last album, I had a major album its own distinct personality. “When relationship breakdown, and I went into I first started Self Esteem, I did describe it this world of oblivion for a bit. I saw how like the way Bowie had eras, and that was much of everybody else I put before something I really liked and something I myself. Obviously, therapy helped, and just could never get going in Slow Club. I guess the inspiration for the album That just wouldn’t wash,” she says. “As is I’m very tired of being a woman in a somebody who likes to compartmentalise world who is treated as an object, or my time and projects, it always worked for work is compared to what I look like, me. I don’t owe people consistency. I’ve found as a woman in music, you can’t chop or my safety is always an issue. I’m so tired of not being able to just do what I and change because they need it to make sense so much. No one buys music, so they fucking want.” This album is the sound of Rebecca taking control in her own need your face to make sense on a page. singular way. “It’s self-love, and that’s an I’ve always hated that. The idea of an era icky thing to say sometimes and feels a has really helped me to be myself.” bit daft, but I think it’s me in my own way So, what is this Self Esteem era then? having eat, pray, love time,” she laughs “This era is the no fucks left to give era,” before emphasising the emotional core of laughs Rebecca. “I’m just fine being myself the record. “Stop talking to myself like shit. and saying what I need to and working Stop putting everyone’s pleasure before through what I need to work through. I’m mine. Stop living half your life waiting for never going to be like, I’m the fucking the next bit to come and just try to be queen all of you bow down to me. Your present. That’s what it’s about. It’s also a options as a woman in pop are you’re the big fuck you. I’m learning now the further queen, and everyone’s your servants, I am from my twenties, I can’t believe the or you are the heartbroken girl that just things that were said to me and how I wants a man. I’m a woman, and there are behaved. We’re all just passing on trauma. other things as well. This era is full of My life’s mission is to heal from it.” vulnerability, grey area exploration, and The album title can be construed in I think for me, that’s just being human. I different ways, and ultimately the pleasure never want to be like, ok, I’m fine now.” you want to prioritise is whatever makes The album itself was created both you happy. “It’s funny because people are before, during and after the height of the like, well, it means sexy pleasure, and I’m pandemic. A period that saw Rebecca like yeah, but mostly for me, prioritising combining working on the record with my pleasure means I go home when I want what became a snowballing public duty to from the party,” she laughs. “Not going to provide daily Instagram workouts to the barbecues that I fucking don’t want during lockdown to her loyal following of to go to. Not drinking an extra drink if “steamers”. It’s a creative period that she looks back on fondly despite the turmoil of someone wants me to stay out. That is everything that was going on in the outside my pleasure prioritising. It’s not the sexy answer that people hope for, but it’s the world. “I was very frightened about how easy it was,” she says. “It was a calmer way truth. I’ve realised over the pandemic that I’m a fucking introvert, but I’ve been to make a record in a way. I sat with the living my life as this party-starting centre songs for much longer than usual before of attention woman that I’m actually not. actually doing anything to them.” Learning that really helped.” The idea of Self Esteem being a The album is a real tour de force of welcoming world for like-minded people playful future pop, heavy-hitting alt-pop, who resonate with themes Rebecca is like on the raging drum-led primal scream singing about is even more important on

of ‘How Can I Help You’, and the most expansive and ambitious music of her career, as exemplified on the stunning lead single ‘I Do This All The Time’. It also contains the best bangers of her career. Far better than just simply making a Rihanna record. Take the most recent single ‘Moody’, for example. There are few other people on the planet making pop music quite like this right now. You can file Self Esteem right up there with other modern pop icons like Charli and Billie. “I wanted to reclaim the spoken word chorus,” explains Rebecca about the key hook that will not leave your head. “That one was really funny. It’s the daftest thing I’ve done, but I love it.” “I’m really proud of some of the lyrics,” she adds. “I love that there’s a lyric about casual sex and whether or not I’ll bother if I’m not busy,” she laughs. The album is full of “did she just say...?” lines like that, but it also deals with very stark and harrowing themes that illustrate the issues facing women in our society today, particularly on the opening track, ‘I’m Fine’. “I did a summer school with some 18-21-year-old women where we made some theatre and had all these conversations about consent and things like that. I hoped for them it would be different, but we were having the same conversations that I’ve had my whole life - having to keep our keys between our fingers when we’re walking home, trying to not draw attention to ourselves. That’s where the quote comes in, ‘I’m Fine’. I recorded a lot of conversations with the girls and thought I was going to use more

than I did, but I ended up just keeping it to that bit, and it was really powerful.” Having been in the industry as a working musician for 15 years now, Rebecca knows how difficult it is and how many injustices prevail. “There’s so much to be done, and I still find myself saying sorry all the time,” she says. “If I think about it for a second, I don’t need to, whereas before, I was so fucking scared that I was being annoying or being a problem.” Change is slow, but there is slight hope for the future. “I think how as women we feel fucking scared every day is now in the zeitgeist, and people are listening and learning.” Aside from the music on the record, another of the key themes is the continued blossoming of Self Esteem as a visual icon. Equally as important as the music is the artwork, the general imagery and the striking performance featuring intricately choreographed dance routines. Self Esteem is all about doing things differently. “My idea was I’ve played thousands of gigs, especially in the UK, in the same sized venues my whole career. I knew full well that’s what Self Esteem would be doing,” explains Rebecca. “We’d be going to the same venues and playing the same festivals in the same slots. My idea of doing a show like this is, A) I’ll enjoy it more, and B) it will fucking make you stop and listen and look. No one’s putting the time and effort in, and it’s always pissed me off that in other bands, you’d just plug in and play. I want to work hard. I want to be really tired at the end of the day, and I want to live my 9.

dream. My dream was to be a great big pop star with dance moves. When I think of myself as a little girl, that’s all I ever did. I was making up dances and bullying little girls into doing it with me.” The reaction to the new music she has released so far has seen ever more people engaging on an even deeper level. “It’s amazing,” she says excitedly. “As someone who felt fucking alone for their whole life and like I was a weirdo, the validation is insane.” There’s no sense of added fame or attention going to her head, though. “I feel more grounded than ever, in a way. I used to think I was more of a billy bollocks when I was in Slow Club. I am a chronic people-pleasing libra. Sometimes I took it to the level that I make the music to soothe me, but now I have the knowledge that it helps some people. I could die tomorrow chuffed with myself, and that’s all I can ask for, really. People help me. Those people who feel it too help me. When I was in my twenties, pretty much everybody I worked with, played with, came into contact with, went out with, acted like I was just too emotional. Like I was too much. Now I’m celebrated for being that, and it’s fucking cool.” The artwork for the album featuring Rebecca in a striking leotard and cowboy hat combo is Self Esteem turned up to 11. “If you’re gonna put a camera in front of me, then I want to look as amazing as possible,” she says. “I think for the aesthetic for this, I wanted to just streamline it all. ‘Compliments Please’ was a lot about other people and other people’s perception of me wanting plenty. I always

10. DORK

to begin album number three, as well as think of myself as like Henry VIII, eating writing a book, Rebecca’s thoughts turn to and drinking and shagging everything what her legacy might be. “I’ve figured out I want, when I want it. Whereas now I’m over the pandemic, my dad and I watched learning how much to just rely on myself for what I need. I knew I wanted it to be just a lot of Peter Gabriel videos, which is what we did when I was little actually, and I me and me celebrating myself.” realised I want a discography,” she says. “It’s powerful that I’m not really skinny,” “I want to make she continues. “I everything I want think all pop stars to make. My music are very slim, so I career has always wanted to do what been, ‘this is fine every other pop for now, but I guess star does but with soon I’ll have to get a not very slim a job and soon it will body because I end’. Now, my idea is thought that was I don’t want to chase political as well. It’s a hit or be famous, never conscious, but I’d love to be but if somebody an artist forever says, ‘what do you and never retire. want to look like?’, I had a mortgage it’s black leotard, meeting, and he black cowboy hat, was like, when do big curly hair and you want to retire, knee boots. That and I honestly was makes so much like, I don’t want to. sense to me. I just REBECCA LUCY TAYLOR Retiring from what I enjoy camp, drag, see is my work is the playful fashion. last thing I want to do. I don’t want to be A cosplaying pop star is what I’m doing begging people to look at me forever, but now. Underneath it is a bit more meat and I want to be able to pivot my art practice potatoes than with normal pop music and to whatever makes sense for me at the also has my agenda and what I’m trying to time. I also require a budget and a tiny bit give to the world.” Also, there’s one other simple fact that emphasises Rebecca’s love of people to be involved, so as long as I can keep enough people interested to give for her visual creations, “I can’t deny that I me the means to make stuff, then I’ll go just fucking love looking fit,” she laughs. and go.” Now firmly established as a solo star Going with her on her journey are some and with tentative plans already underway

“Mostly for me, prioritising my pleasure means I go home when I want to from the party”

loyal fans and a lot of new ones, too. “It’s gone up a level for sure. ‘I Do This All The Time’ hit a lot of people that I otherwise wouldn’t have caught. The airplay for that was so fucking great. The crowds have doubled. If you’re a Self Esteem fan, then you’re not lukewarm. If you get it, then you fucking get it, and you want it, and you want to lose yourself. They’re fucking emotional people too, and that’s why they understand it, and they want to have the same moment that I’m having.” The moment is now for a woman who is no longer afraid to voice her opinion and to make a stand for what she wants to do on her own terms. All of this confidence, frustration and confusion that make up Self Esteem and this moment that we’re in is found in the opening track to the album ‘I’m Fine’. “It’s a euphoric way to process trauma,” says Rebecca. “It’s first at gigs, and it’s like what you’re about to see is a terrifying deranged woman who is tired of feeling like this. I’m trying to reclaim crazy. As women in the past, we’d be called crazy simply for having feelings or opinions. It is a recognition of that. Alright, I’m going to scare you then. People call me scary, but I’m not. I’m fucking lovely; I’m just not what they’re used to, so they give it a name of crazy or scary, but I’m just vocal.” Self Esteem is all about giving a voice to people and feelings that have been suppressed or out down. It’s about complete and total freedom of expression and emotion, and it’s about prioritising what’s important. As Rebecca concludes, “If the platform is there, let’s use it.” P Self Esteem’s album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ is out 22nd October.

Thomas Headon can surf

With his brand new bop ‘Nobody Has To Know’ out now, our Thomas has some things he’d like you to know. WORDS:

Stephen Ackroyd.


Jordan Curtis Hughes.


e’re not weird. We promise. When musicans ‘go live’ on TikTok or Instagram, they’re talking to the world. It’s only normal that a pop magazine might also be stalking watching, ready to ask questions on what’s revealed within. So, really, when up-and-coming popster Thomas Headon happened to start broadcasting on a random Saturday afternoon in October, and stated he wanted more people to know he could surf, it should be no shock that we’d want to follow up on that. It’s a service, really. Spreading the word. Doing good stuff. Helping. With his brand new bop ‘Nobody Has To Know’ out now - he’s giving away a sofa to celebrate, ‘FYI’, we were due a catch-up anyway. And anyone who claims we only wanted to confirm we heard right when he said The 1975’s Matty Healy walked past his window earlier that day is a liar. Honest. Hello, Thomas Headon. How are you doing today? What have you been up to? Hello Dork. Good to talk to you again. I’m well, recovering from the plague that has hit London but other than that all good. Today I’ve eaten some really good hummus and now I’m answering your questions

Wait, like, *everyone* can really surf in Australia? Yes, by default. Even if you turn up for a holiday somehow you just know how to do it. So how good are you at surfing, on a scale of 1-10? 25. That seems quite high. How truthful is that score, on a scale of 1-10? -25. We see. Where is your favourite place to surf? Do you get many chances to surf while in the UK? I surf at a lovely little place called Phillip Island off the coast of Melbourne, it’s very nice. I haven’t been surfing in the UK actually! I also don’t know if I really want to. I don’t know why. There’s something about surfing here that would just feel weird to me. It’d be like having tea and crumpets in the US ? Just not the same. But I do miss it so that might change.

“I grew up like an hour away from the beach, everybody I know in Australia surfs”

There are lots of good to great songs written about surfing. Have you written any yet? If not, why not, and when will you be fixing this obvious problem? So, we were I haven’t ! I feel like watching your live that’s a very country stream on TikTok music thing to do... on Saturday just suddenly start singing gone (because we’re about my love for very cool and have the surfboard and loads of interesting THOMAS HEADON how it’ll never leave things to do at the me. Also would be weekend) and we pretty strange in my live set, “hey guys heard you were very keen that more that was a song about the beautiful people know that you can surf. Happy to waves of this earth and now it’s time for help. How did you take up surfing? urbanangel1999”. I do find surfer’s pretty You make me laugh, Dork. First of all thank you for joining, really glad I’m your weekend attractive though, so maybe that’ll inspire entertainment. Secondly thanks for helping something eventually. me let the world know I surf, that’s kind of Do you promise this surfing thing isn’t you. I grew up like an hour away from the just a shallow attempt to find a USP? beach, everybody I know in Australia surfs. We’re guessing you’re betting that Alfie So pretty common to just grow up with it Templeman can’t surf, right? and you and your friends would go out on GUYS PLZ I’M A REALLY GOOD SURFER summer holidays just to surf. Really good AND I’M REALLY GOOD AND INDIVIDUAL fun, we should go sometime.

AND COOL AND SUPER COOL GUYS PLZ LISTEN TO MY MUSIC ITS NOT THE SAME AS ANYONE ELSE’S BECAUSE I SURF I SWEAR!!!!!! Thought so. Talking about surfing, that brings us to couches (shut up, couch surfing - it works). Or sofas, as many call them. You’re giving away a sofa to people who use the sound of your Very Good new single ‘Nobody Has To Know’ on TikTok, but at the time of announcing the competition, you did not own a sofa. Have you found a sofa yet? Is-slash-willit-be a good sofa, or are you basically just stalking freecycle? Great transition Dork. Yes I am giving away a sofa. It’s a nice brand new sofa though not the one I was moving down the street as you saw. But I do have one now though ! I’ve managed to get myself a sofa and now managing to give one away. It’s gonna be nice and look good and be comfortable, would highly recommend you enter. I swear I’m not recycling it that would be a horrible competition lol.

If you’d thought it through, would you have changed that opening lyric to be an easier to source and cheaper make out location? HAHAHA. Yeah man this would have probably been smarter. Maybe next time it should be something like “we’re making out on your bedsheets” or “we’re making out on your blow up mattress”, something like that. That would be a lot easier to ship to someone, I have no clue how I’m actually going to move a sofa. I’m hoping I get to drive a truck. You also mentioned Matty Healy walked past your window on Saturday. Given he’s clearly just too shy to let you know he wants to ‘collab’, do you have a message you’d like us to pass on? I’d be too starstruck to ever say anything. We know a lot of the same people but I still feel like I’d be too scared to ever meet him. Maybe you could ask him if he wants a sofa ? I don’t know if you’ve heard but I am giving one away. P Thomas Headon’s single ‘Nobody Has To Know’ is out now. 11.

The Regrettes: “Taking risks feels powerful; this feels like the most powerful album we’ve made” ‘IN’ THE ‘STUDIO’

With fresh single ‘Monday’ teasing The Regrettes’ first full-length release since 2019’s ‘How Do You Love?’, Lydia Night shares the joys and challenges of shaking things up ‘exciting’ seems to be the key word. WORDS:


Finlay Holden.


Riley Donahue, Perpetual Studio.

t’s been a fairly quiet couple of years for LA-based punk-rock quartet The Regrettes, with just a few single releases offered since their conceptually dramatised second record dropped. With the glaring sheen of some galvanising new tracks now breaching our horizons, the group are ready to jump back into action. “It’s a really good feeling, and I’m excited about everything going on,” primary songwriter and vocalist Lydia Night beams from her Californian home. Having used some muchappreciated downtime to run a food Instagram account and test her flexibility with yoga, it is the practice of journalling that has most helped focus Lydia’s energy on gaining confidence in a bold new direction. “The album that we’ve created is a big leap forward in a way that is completely exciting for me, LYDIA NIGHT but it takes a lot of gassing yourself up to feel confident enough with making that kind of change,” she shares. Much of this new material has been birthed from a new kind of writing session involving less sitting in studios and more gesturing through a screen. “For the first two months of quarantine, I was like, ‘fuck all of you, no way am I trying that’. I completely fell in love with the process, though,” Lydia recalls. “A lot of the time, it’s healthy to separate work from home life, but with songwriting, it’s a really special blend when [co-writers] are coming into my world and all

the problems that exist around me in my life.” Bringing others into her world has become even more important on album three, as the group move from exploring a world of love to navigating a complicated internal environment. Lydia says: “It’s special to me that ‘Monday’ is the first song we’re coming back with – it’s a really dark song! It’s a fun, dance-your-pain-away vibe, but it’s about me experiencing a lot of anxiety and depression and dealing with a lot of mental health issues that I hadn’t really understood in the past, so I couldn’t write about them before.” Confronted with a whole lot of herself, this period has allowed the young talent to finally reflect. “It starts off being therapeutic for me, and then it hopefully becomes therapeutic for other people too.” Having bounced between tour cycles since the age of 12, Lydia is not used to sitting still for too long and so compulsory idleness caused quite the mental stir. “It was just a massive smack in the face in terms of ego and where my personal value and self-love was placed,” she divulges. “It was important for me because it’s a scary thing to rely on that. It’s been a really intense but incredible experience to learn about the other things I bring to the table as a human being that aren’t performing.” With a constantly expanding limelight honing in on their every move, it would be easy for the four-piece to freak out at the documentation of their evolution. Fortunately, the opposite is actually true. “Tying into

“There’s no point wasting time doing anything other than what you want to do”

12. DORK

the existential crisis theme, life can feel like it’s going by so fast,” she comments. “It’s a comforting reminder that we’re always going to be constantly growing, and it’s okay to be proud of where you’re at now right now and for that to be enough.” The music video for ‘Monday’ plays on this idea, based on conversations that started in Joshua Tree National Park during a ten-day Regrettes expedition for the members to look for creative ways to complement the new tunes. “We were in Joshua Tree, dancing around our living room to early 2000s music that we used to listen to at school dances,” Lydia looks back. “We were crying at the idea of our middle school selves knowing each other and what that would have been like, how awkward we all were. We thought it’d be incredible to meet those people in a music video.” The realisation of these ideas proved overwhelming as collaboration though Zoom writing sessions transformed into a set full of friendly faces; fellow creatives gave the social excitement usually felt in front of those live crowds. Speaking of audiences, The Regrettes are adamant to only create music that they would be listening to themselves from now on. “It feels more in tune than ever with what I’m listening to and what I’m a fan of, which is all you can really do,” the frontwoman explains. “How can you not be confident in something if it’s what you would want to listen to? It’s truly the first time it’s felt like that. In the past, I really wanted to prove myself and the band as being cool enough to fit into these circles in LA. It’s the stupidest shit ever. There’s no point wasting time by doing anything other than what you want to do, making what you want to listen to.” To create music she could fully enjoy, Lydia turned to her own influences and debated how she could transition to these very different sounds: “I’m inspired by The 1975, Charli XCX, Gwen Stefani, all this shit… I don’t want to wait forever to get there, so how do we blend these genres and make this big soup of what we all love?” With their punk and rock roots, this basically meant throwing the band into a whole new world of sounds. “You cannot dip your toes in something,” Lydia dictates. “If you’re going in the water, you have to jump in the water. So we jumped in, and I think we did it!” Clearly motivated by a sense of forward momentum, the lyrical content also takes a big step forward and dives into some vital themes not yet pursued on the last two records. Lydia explains that, “it was like pulling the string on a sweater until the whole thing has started unravelling; it was really incredible to experience.” So what whole do these two intrinsic musical elements form together then? “It’s more vulnerable and darker than ever while also sonically embracing what we’ve been scared to for so long. Taking these risks feels powerful; this feels like the most powerful album we’ve made.” With an extended break from shows and the first gigs back now fast approaching, the prospect of returning to the stage once again is… Exciting? Terrifying? “All of the above,” she agrees. “When so much of my self-confidence came from this performer, the scariest thought in the world is: what if I can’t get her back? What if I’m not her anymore? It’s terrifying, but I’m excited to feel that again.” Lydia wraps up with one last message about what fans should expect in the near future: “It feels like us finding ourselves and becoming adults in a lot of ways. It’s a lot of focusing inward and growing up, a lot of self-realisation. I know that I love it; I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever put out. Hopefully, other people will relate to it, given the fucked up climate we live in.” P 13.

HONNE: “You’re only as good as what you do next” HONNE are back with their third full-length ‘LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ - mouthful of a title, but easy to swallow with their free wheeling alt-pop perogative. WORDS:

Finlay Holden.


afar.” fter a brief detour into raw, soothing The newest project from HONNE comes in acoustics with 2020’s ‘no song the form of upcoming third LP, ‘LET’S JUST without you’ and its ‘dream edits’ SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, rework, HONNE are embracing their WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ While it hardly rolls quirky pop energy once again – and taking it to off the tongue, the words sound slick when new heights. consumed as part of title-track ‘WHAT WOULD Five years into a career of electro-romance YOU DO?’ which was penned pre-pandemic. bops, the duo – comprised of Andy Clutterbuck “We were none the wiser, and these words and James Hatcher – are unafraid to embrace were plucked out of my brain as an interesting the moment. While their futuristic, heartfelt question that would spark a conversation,” Andy tunes have become a staple, they’ve recently says. “Obviously, since then, it’s become a lot ventured into lo-fi soul with mixtape project ‘no more serious, and for some, it does feel that the song without you’ and a raw rework of ‘dream world has ended. The whole album was born edits’ that sought to calm rather than energise from that idea, and here we are.” at a time when people’s thoughts needed a Featuring R&B singer-songwriter slowdown. PinkSweat$, the song takes the band’s slick “I’ve been wanting to do stuff like that for a structure and production to new heights. “It is long time,” shares vocalist Andy. “It was nice to poppy, but with HONNE’s twist - we’re never write songs on an acoustic guitar, stripping the going to go full-on pop. It’s got all the quirks production right back.” Fellow producer and and charisma that our multi-instrumentalist music normally does, but James shares similar is also one of our most sentiments: “Taking collaborative projects to acoustic elements but date,” the singer offers. using production to While working with make those elements pals is always fun, the sound old and vintage, creative benefit of these like they’ve all been ventures is clear across recorded to tape, was a this record, with this fun challenge. It came at first collab being a prime a good time during the example. “We had written pandemic when people a verse before we asked needed a bit of comfort [PinkSweat$], but when and reassurance.” we asked him to record Moving forward, it’s the verse, he said no,” clear this new experience James recalls. “’I don’t has invigorated the pair. really sing verbatim’, were “It taught us that we ANDY CLUTTERBUCK his words. So we said, should stop worrying here’s a blank verse, do about things and just what you want. What he sent back completely enjoy making music. It definitely helped us feel changed the song’s trajectory and took the song more confident that we can give our ideas a on a different journey - ‘WWYD’ is a better song shot and people will follow us along the way,” because he had free rein.” James reflects. With a solid fanbase - dubbed In such a competitive field, it can be easy to the ‘HONNEtourage’ (amazing) - following each slip into jealousy when eyeing up the streaming and every step, the electronic musicians have numbers of your peers. Fortunately, the humble learnt that they can birth projects that live by members of HONNE naturally find themselves themselves. “Even though musically things can prioritising their own development. “There will change, the theme is still positive, romantic always be people getting more streams and on music about love,” Andy adds. “Whether it’s bigger playlists, and there will always be people acoustic, electronic or poppy, people will still be getting less,” James comments. “It’s important able to enjoy that same underlying message.” to stay focused on the positives. Music should “We started off writing these romantic be about the art and enjoying the feeling that it songs, and so couples tend to share our music gives you, rather than stats.” together,” he continues while considering the “It can actually be quite motivating if you type of listeners making up their audience. “We see people doing well – that’s great and should often get messages saying fans’ partners are be celebrated. It inspires us to try new things away, and they share our music together from

“We wanted to make the biggest, most interesting songs possible”

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for ourselves; to try more, do more, achieve more,” James says cheerfully. This upbeat and optimistic attitude is an essential part of the close friends’ careers, and it is admirable to see it in action. As well as invigorating their own horizons with the contributions of others, team HONNE are ensuring growth by, paradoxically, learning to care less. Andy says that, “for the first two albums, we thought they had to be super cool. This time, we scrapped that, and wanted to make the biggest, most interesting songs possible that were satisfying to listen to.” James resumes this train of thought: “We want the choruses to be big and give you goosebumps. When we play them live, we want people to yell them at the top of their voices because they’re excited, and it sounds massive.” With ‘Warm on a Cold Night’ and ‘Love Me/Love Me Not’ already forming their own legacies, work has been put in to ensure that this third offering can develop its own unique identity within a growing discography. “It’s important that each new release has its own vibe and story that people can get attached to specifically; that’s how we’ve grown up with music,” James states analytically. And as for how they process the success of such vibes? “We never really feel successful, so there isn’t much to process,” he half-jokes. “The numbers look crazy, and we think they’re really good? You’re only as good as what you do next, really. If we had a song on this album that got 50 billion streams and was the biggest song of the year, my viewpoint would be: now I have to make a song that equals that. That’s almost a worse position to be in!” The balance of perspective – inward and outward, optimistic and realistic – is a driving force behind the success of HONNE. Andy and James are the Yin to each other’s Yang, and their subtle difference has had ever-present but unforeseen benefits. “He’s an internal processor; I’m an external processor,” James explains. “Andy’s an introvert; I’m an extrovert. That combination allows us to complement each other’s attributes. When Andy’s down and needs picking up, I can help with that. If I’m going nuts and getting stressed, Andy can bring me back down to earth.” Andy quips: “It’s a happy coincidence that we met.” Such a meeting has now resulted in an inspiring and energised LP with a clear message. “Wherever you are, this album is trying to symbolise that there is a light at the end of your tunnel, and things do get better. Hopefully, after your first listen, you’ll feel a bit of love, a bit of positivity, and know that things will always get better. The message is always love and will always be love, because that’s all that matters in this world.” P HONNE’s album ‘LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ is out 22nd October.

Struggling to keep up with your favourite popsters? Worry not, Dear Reader. Your ever reliable Dork has little better to do than search through the bins of pop to find the juiciest nuggets of information, giving them a wipe and serving them right up for your satisfaction. Not that we recommend eating out of the trash. It was a difficult time and we're in a much better place now. Anyway...


alt-J are back, with news of a new album and a first track to be lifted from it. The trio will release their fourth album ‘The Dream’ on 11th February 2022 via Infectious Music / BMG. The follow up to 2017’s much-lauded third full-length ‘RELAXER’, the news comes alongside a debut taster ‘U&ME’ - you can read more about that over on page 17, if you like.


Last month’s cover star Sam has announced a new UK arena tour for 2022. Clocking in at nine shows, his biggest run to date will kick off at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena on 20th March. There’s a homecoming show at Newcastle’s Utilita Arena on 5th April, and a night at London’s SSE Wembley Arena on 1st April too. Hopefully he’s not quite as hung over as he was on BBC Breakfast the other week, huh?


Tame Impala has just announced a new deluxe version of their most recent album ‘The Slow Rush’. Titled ‘The Slow Rush Deluxe Box Set’ (descriptive name - Ed), it’s set for release on 18th February 2022, featuring B-sides and remixes of Kevin Parker’s GRAMMY-nominated 2020 album. The physical version will feature two transparent red LP’s and alternate artwork including a 40-page booklet

and The Slow Rush 2050 calendar. Both physical and digital versions will feature two never-before-heard b-sides, pre-album single ‘Patience’ and extended versions and remixes.


Tove Lo has revealed she’s nearly finished writing her next album. After sharing last month the record was “taking shape”, the star has given another update, revealing she’s been “writing the last” of it. Alongside a photo on Instagram, she explains: “Writing the last of my album in this place where I’ve spent much of my life. Happy said it’s not so bad.” The album

will be the follow-up to 2019’s full-length ‘Sunshine Kitty’.


Olly Alexander has announced the new Years & Years album will be with us very early next year. Titled ‘Night Call’, the record will be released on 7th January 2022. “My new album is out on 7th January,” Olly wrote on Twitter. “‘Night Call’ has been my escape for the past couple of years, I’m so excited to share it with you all.” The album will be the first since Years & Years became a solo project, following the departure of Emre Türkmen and Mikey Goldsworthy earlier this year.


IDLES are back with news of a new album, and a first track to be taken from it. Titled ‘CRAWLER’, the follow-up to last year’s ‘Ultra Mono’ is set to arrive on 12th November via Partisan Records. 14 tracks long, it was recorded at Bath’s Real World Studios during the COVID-19 pandemic, and coproduced by Kenny Beats and guitarist Mark Bowen.


Billie Eilish is set to headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2022. The festival confirmed the news via social media, revealing she’ll top the bill on the Friday night (24th June 2022), and become the youngest ever solo Glastonbury headliner. It’ll also be her first UK festival headline performance.


mxmtoon: “It’s so neat, I never saw myself reflected in larger areas of pop culture growing up” Dork fave mxmtoon is always up to interesting new stuff. Her latest endeavour? Performing the singing voice for the main character in the latest installment of video game Life is Strange. We caught up with Maia to find out ‘more’ Sam Taylor. PHOTOGRAPHY: Blythe Thomas. WORDS:


xmtoon is pretty much always working on something interesting, it seems, and her latest project is unlike anything she’s done before. Maia’s taken on the singing voice for Alex Chen, the central character in the fifth instalment of the

16. DORK

graphic adventure video game Life Is Strange. Set in the fictional Haven Springs, the goal is to solve a dramatic small-town mystery by helping characters deal with their emotional trauma. Hello Maia! How are you doing? Everything okay in mxmtoonworld at the moment? Aw, thank you for asking! Personally, I’m doing okay, and so is mxmtoon-world. As everything is, some days are more hectic, and emotions go up and down, but all things considered, I’m doing fairly well! How did the Life Is Strange: True Colors collaboration come about? I was really lucky that the game team reached out to me to see if I would be interested in trying to sing for Alex! As a long time fan of Life is Strange, I was over the moon at the opportunity to try it out, and when I sent them an audio clip, I guess they really liked it because I ended up being her official singing voice.

Have you ever worked on a video game before? I haven’t worked on any video game projects beyond this one previously, so it was a very new experience. I would love to get the chance to do more of it in the future! Are you into gaming yourself? What do you play? I love gaming. Outside of music, it’s probably the most consistent hobby I’ve had throughout my entire life! I grew up playing Battlefield and Call of Duty, but now I play a lot of Valorant or indie titles. What was it like doing the singing voice of one of the characters, did you have much creative input? I got a lot of creative input with my role in the game, but I was really lucky that being Alex and trying to write or sing from her perspective was very similar to the way I normally would. So, figuring out how to be her singing voice wasn’t too difficult

at all, and I just got to have a lot of fun playing around with her performances and the original track I wrote, ‘in the darkness’. Do you feel much kinship with Alex Chen? Absolutely. Alex and I share so many identities with each other it’s almost like looking into a mirror. We’re both young, queer, Asian women who love music! How much more similar can two people get? It’s so neat to have a character that overlaps with my individual the way she does because I never saw myself reflected in larger areas of pop culture growing up. I hope more people can have their own Alex. And you’ve covered ‘Creep’ for the soundtrack too, what was it like putting that together? It was super daunting. A song like ‘Creep’ is so beloved by Radiohead fans and so widely covered by the whole world, trying to do my own version and make it feel fresh was a big task to take on. I’m really happy

with how it turned out, though. I think the softness and emotional vulnerability that I tried to emphasise in my cover helped it feel different from the original and really highlight Alex’s being. Do you have any other interesting projects coming up? I’m currently in the process of working on my second studio album, but it’s super early stages. My hope is to have it out in the world next year, but I suppose first I’ll have to write the songs for it! If you could choose another slightly out-of-the-norm project to work on, anything you like, what would it be? Definitely being able to involve myself more in voice acting. I love animated projects, whether that’s TV, movies, or video games, and being able to help other creatives fulfil their dream goals is something I feel very passionate about. P Life Is Strange: True Colors is out now.




DORK READERS’ POLL 2021. It’s that time again, Dear Readers. Next issue, we’ll be running through our Best of 2021 - and we want to know what you think. What’s your album of the year? Which new act will smash 2022? What’s ‘top’ of the ‘bops’? Fill in the form and send us a photo to readerspoll@ or @readdork on Twitter. Alternatively, you can enter online at readerspoll2021.







We will be judging you. Oh, and before any of you get dead boring and start rattling on about how it’s “not even the end of the year yet” and ask “what will you do if something amazing comes out in December” we don’t care, go away, we’re a print magazine! There are lead times! We have to do these things now. Stop being so dull. State of you!




also really talented. After him came Beija Flo, she was incredible. Effortlessly funny between songs. Her music is quite profound; it really spoke to me. She has a really unique way of weaving existential thoughts with mundane everyday occurrences like taking a bath. Super, super talented artist, I’ll be going to see her again for sure.


Mez’s poetry corner

LIKE STEEL RIVETS I have a pair of your black toebags in my sack packed at the back for luck and the shower in Gerona falls like steel rivets just like the rain above Settle that stung sweetly like nettles as we watched the river bank explode. White horses crashing, foaming forces on our anniversary.

as we lay until the dawn light crawls into view. TOUR SONG In France and Belgium Blossom trees fruit in beautiful pink, as I pass my time writing from my book and nursing the puncture to my lung like a knife, to my microphone. A self-diagnosed drunk looking for the bunk to lay my head and think of you a perfect chicken to my chicken. Flicking through photos on my phone.

FOR GUS The mountains between Switzerland and Italy are beautiful. That ‘Postcard’ beauty Bright greens and blue flows of water hugging snow. FROM But it’s fuck all RAVENSCAR A raindrop from compared to the sight Ravenscar of my little falls into my smudge beer. with messy hair, bouncing ball, Our bodies fall folded at the on top of me. moon, as the tent bends ‘Daddy’ My Mowgli in the warm asking for evening air. It makes me feel breakfast in a flat on wanted again. Princes Avenue She rests. Listen to Mez’s Head deep within my chest. Sunday Lunch - every second My desolation Sunday of the fixed. month on Dork And at night the Radio with Jake Hawkes. rain falls

9:00 pm


Zuzu You know what’s easier than following around your fave pop stars, day in, day out, to see what they’re up to right that minute? Asking them. Here’s what Zuzu's day looks like.

9:00 am

I wake up about 9am most days, and today is no different! The first thing I do is say hello to my cats, Jean-Paul and Edgar. I give them a load of fuss and then feed them before they eat me! I make a cup of Yorkshire tea (important detail) and sit down to play guitar. I’ve been writing a lot recently, and I always find I’m at my most creative first thing before anyone wakes up.

11:00 am

The gang wake up! We

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Our Kid is on now, so I’m running about getting him and Corben waters and making sure they have everything they need. They absolutely smash the show. He’s lyrically and sonically next level, super proud! So cool to hear the songs they’ve been working on the last few months come to life in a live setting.

Photo: Robin Clewley.

I’ve been going through my notepads lately and started to do some much needed edits of the babble I write in the back of a van or late at night above an ice-cream shop in Hull….anyways; I thought I’d debut some in this life shaped column of mine.

7:30 pm

have our friends visiting from London, and we have our engineer, Corben, here too. Nothing unusual, though, because we always have people over. The studio is in the house, so it’s just the way we live! It’s boss to be able to have a creative space we can work in 24/7, but it’s not the same without people to share it with.

12:00 pm

We go for breakfast at Benricks’; it’s my favourite breakfast place on the Wirral, so we all pile in the

car and head over. The staff are a dream in there, and so is the food!

1:30 pm

We get home, and I practice guitar while Corben and Kurran (Karbal, AKA Monkey Junky) practice for their live set later in the day.

3:00 pm

Start getting ready to go out. I think this might be the hottest September I remember! Doesn’t really take me long to get ready; I’m really rubbish at

make-up, so I just slap it on and hope for the best!

4:00 pm

Load in is at 5, so in the spirit of being organised, we leave a bit early. It’s only a really short drive to Liverpool through the Queensway Tunnel (got to drop an album reference somewhere!), and so we get there with loads of time to spare.

5:00 pm

We load into the venue. It’s The Black Cat which is part of the Smithdown Festival this weekend. Our friend Get is organising the whole thing, and she plays in one of the bands, so the whole vibe is super chill. Boss little place.

5:30 pm

There are loads of acts I wanna catch on this line-up, and the first is Charity Shop Pop. He’s a scouse kid who provides the most wholesome energy ever. He has a song about wanting to be Hugh Grant that was amazing. So funny but

We go next door to The Little Furnace, the pizza place, and the man behind the counter lets us get our last order in just as they are closing! God bless Scousers! The scran was UNREAL too. Shout out to The Little Furnace for being the best!

9:30 pm

Our friend who organised the night goes on stage with her band Gen And The Degenerates, they fully shut it down. I’m so proud of these lot, and how far they’ve come over the few years we’ve known them. Love them all to bits.

10:50 pm

Got roped into doing a secret acoustic set! Surprise! I play a couple of songs to a very drunk crowd and had a boss sing along. Was only short but really fun.

11:30 pm

We get home and watch this weird survival show until stupid o’clock and then finally go to bed. P Zuzu’s debut album ‘Queensway Tunnel’ is out 12th November. Catch her on tour throughout December.


Years & Years

Coach Party FLAG (Feel Like A Girl)

Coach Party are mad, and they’ve got good reason to be, too. ‘FLAG’ or ‘Feel Like A Girl’, lands at a time where, in frontwoman Jess Eastwood’s own words, “a song for those who know what it’s like to feel unsafe, objectified or hurt by someone” couldn’t be more essential. “It’s an intense anger where you just want to see that person suffer as much as they made you suffer,” she continues. “ It takes you to the point where you’ll do anything to protect the people around you from this person, whether you know them or not. Look out for your mates.”


With Olly Alexander’s first offering under the Years & Years banner as a solo act, ‘Starstruck’, it would have been easy to think a more direct, obvious pop project was on the cards going forward. ‘Crave’, though, is closer to the Y&Y we knew and loved - smart, salty and throwing shapes from the shadows, it’s run through with the kind of unique idiosyncrasies that made us fall for them in the first place. Top marks.


Working For The Knife

Mitski’s new single ‘Working For The Knife’ is - quite predictably - very Mistki indeed. Glorious, lush and deeply affecting, it comes ahead of a run of tour dates for next year. What really interests us, though, is the minute or so of interpretive dance-slash-tantrum that follows it in the official video. By rights, it should be arty nonsense. Actually, it looks jolly good fun. That’s Mitski for you. Warra talent she is, eh?

Fletcher girls girls girls

“I remember my mom was dropping me off at school one day in 2008 and ‘I Kissed a Girl’ came on the radio, and my mom kind of gasped at the lyrics,” Fletcher explains. “I had this moment in my head where I was like, ‘Fuck, I think I might like girls.’ That’s why, for her latest single, our Fletch is reworking the Katy Perry classic through her own pop prism. Taking the hook line and proclaiming that “it’s not a phase”, it’s proof of a future powerhouse confident and assured in her own identity.

Let’s Eat Grandma Hall of Mirrors

So, no fucking about here, Dear Reader - Let’s Eat Grandma are brilliant. Like, top tier British talent brilliant. Their last album, 2018’s ‘I’m All Ears’, deserves to be whispered towards the top of any ‘best of the decade’ lists you care to compile. In the space in-between, they’ve been through some stuff, but as they return with the first taster of their next phase, they’ve lost none of their brilliance. ‘Hall of Mirrors’ is modern alternative pop of the highest order. Musically and lyrically life affirming, it’s enough to put goosebumps on top of goosebumps. Let’s Eat Grandma really are the best of us.


god of the sunsets

There’s something about SEB that’s just a Really Lovely Time, Dear Reader. Back with the first new music since his gloriously great EP ‘IT’S OKAY, WE’RE DREAMING’, ‘god of the sunsets’ continues his infectiously enjoyable vibe. With more to come in 2022, his rise doesn’t look to be coming to a halt any time soon.


I Don’t Want To Talk

It’s always good to have Wallows back in the game - but ‘I Don’t Want To Talk’ may rank up with their very best so far. With a whistling hook, a bit of harmonica and a surface level breezy vibe, underneath the surface it’s far more troubled with past regrets and current doubts. With a new album expected ‘at some point’, it’s a delightful starter course.


The Beachland Ballroom

Phoebe Green So Grown Up

Being a grown up sucks. You think it’ll be all sophisticated fun - getting to do what you want, eat ice cream for every meal, have loads of money to spend on all the best toys and gadgets. It isn’t. Not that Phoebe Green’s latest banger is based around the dreams of the adult world we had when we were eleven years old. It’s far more complex than that - but, crucially, it’s Really Very Good. And also, more importantly, can we have ice cream?

Ashnikko Panic Attacks In Paradise

Dealing with Ashnikko’s struggles with her new-found fame, it’d be easy for ‘Panic Attacks in Paradise’ to come across as that same old celebrity moanfest. But it isn’t. With a raw openness that most artists would shy away from, it’s something far more honest and compelling than simple griping. Musically more introspective than her usual in your face explosiveness, it’s proof there’s more than one string to Ashnikko’s bow.

alt-J U&ME

Grab your robes, prepare your prayer mats - the kings of sexy Gregorian chanting are back! Back! And-indeedback! The first taster of Alt-J’s latest album, ‘U&ME’ has that reassuring, guttural groove that could only come from one place. “It’s about being at a festival with your best friends, having a good time, togetherness, and the feeling in life that nothing could be any better than it is right now,” says Gus UngerHamilton. Seems pretty perfect for a post-pandemic world, eh?

IDLES are prolific. This much we know. Already back with their fourth album ‘CREEPER’, the critical and commercial darlings of post-punk are trying to mix things up a bit. Co-produced between Kenny Beats and guitarist Mark Bowen, they’re proving that desire with the first track to be lifted from it, ‘The Beachland Ballroom’ is still undeniably IDLES - frontman Joe Talbot’s voice is pretty iconic, after all - but at its heart, it’s a scuzzed up soul song. Plus, it comes with a video that looks a bit like Joe is trapped in a portable toilet, singing through a peep hole. That’s progress.

Wet Leg Wet Dream

Are Wet Leg the most exciting new band on the planet? Yes. That’s why we keep writing it at every opportunity, stupid. Only their second single post signing to indie stalwarts Domino, and they’re still just as perfect as their smash hit debut offering ‘Chaise Longue’ suggested. Brattish but oh-so-cool, it’s yelped hook and borderline filth maybe smooth off the edges of that first statement slightly, but they also suggest Rhian and Hester are here for the long haul. With much, much more expected for 2022 - including a brand new headline tour, we remain Really Very Buzzed Indeed. 19.

Top 10. Martyn Young's

Everyone loves a good list, right? Well, Dear Reader, not compared to Dork’s Listmaster General Martyn Young you don’t. The thing about Martyn, you see, is he’s not swayed by your safe, sanitised opinions. He’s living his best life, loving what he loves, unconcerned by your boring, identikit truths. Each month, we’ll give him a new musical category to rank, then you can send in your rage-filled missives about just how wrong he is. It’s all good fun.

This month...

It’s bonfire season, 5th November approaches, and the toffee apples are ready for a good ol’ munch. This month, we’ve asked Martyn to select his...

Best Fireworks Songs

(i.e. Songs with ‘boom’ or ‘bang’ or whatever in the title. We know.)

2. Black Eyed Peas. Boom Boom Pow. This was future pop before we knew future pop was a thing. As Will I Am explains, he’s got rock and roll and that future flow. It also still sounds incredible 13 years later. If you’re a doubter of this song, then remember it’s far better to be so three thousand and eight rather than so two thousand and late. Imagine if I’m still doing these list columns in the year 3008. That would be a lot of lists. Something to look forward to.

1. Vengaboys. Boom Boom Boom Boom!!! Be under no illusion; this is one of the greatest songs of all time. Like, the entire history of recorded music. It’s all perfect. From the woah-woah to the “Venga Boys are back in town” robotic voice to the amazing chorus. Even better, the Venga Boys are still going strong and being discovered by a new audience; see, for example, their new killer cover of Charli and Troye’s ‘1999’. Now, if only Charli would repeat the favour. Oh, and obviously, fireworks go boom, but don’t set them off in your room, please. That would be silly.

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3. Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj. Bang Bang. Bang Bang into the roooom. Yes, this song is very obviously a banger. Of the highest order. While fireworks go boom, they also sometimes like to go bang, and few songs go bang more than this one. What a trio. Everyone brings their A-game here on a bombastic tour-de-force of pop amazingness. shiny goodness. It's the sound of an artist coming into their own in joyful abandon.

7. Charli XCX. Boom Clap. Ah, it’s the officially Dork anointed HRH Queen Of All Pop Charli XCX. ‘Boom Clap’ is probably her biggest actual hit, so it deserves a special place in her pantheon of greatness. Forever an icon, it’s a reminder that Charli has always been the greatest.

4. BTS. Dynamite. BTS are the biggest band in the world, and ‘Dynamite’ is their best single. Probably. Don’t come at me if you don’t agree, though. All their songs are amazing. Every one of them. Dynamite is an essential ingredient of fireworks; without it there’s no pop, no sparkle and no bang. Pretty much an accurate assessment of what pop music would be like without BTS.

WTF? Okay, so we don’t all agree. Here’s some official challenges to this month’s list. No inclusion for Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’? There are no excuses for that kind of snub. Also, that Katy Perry trick is pure stunt picking. Some people have clearly just never felt like a plastic bag, y’know? Stephen Ackroyd, Editor

5. Ricky Martin. She Bangs. Remember Ricky Martin? From the nineties? He was good, wasn’t he? This is no ‘La Vida Loca’, but we’re not doing party anthems this month; we’re doing fireworks, so the glorious careening pop rush of ‘She Bangs’ makes the cut. A very good song.

We were going to come in, sparklers ablazing, ready to demand justice for the emo theatrics of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Just Watch The Fireworks’ or anything by post-rock band Explosions In the Sky but it’s bonfire night, the one night a year where the soundtrack doesn’t matter because all you can really hear are dogs howling, babies crying and tubes of gunpowder exploding. Ali Shutler, Associate Editor Bonfires need lighting. And if, once they’re lit, they go out? Then they’ll require relighting. So, if your bonfire went out, what you you ask someone to do? ‘Relight My Fire’? Yeah, exactly. So why no Take That, Martyn? Dan Harrison, Writer Disagree? Email your own suggestions, or abuse to us at We’ll include the best ones in next month’s issue.

8. Katy Perry. Hot ‘n’ Cold. Ah, see, got you there. You were all convinced that the song that goes “Baby you’re a fiiiireeeewoooork” would be number one on this list, but no. Good song, though. This one makes sense as well, ‘cos fireworks are hot, and when you’re outside watching them in November, it’s also cold. See, there is logic to this.

9. Adele. Set Fire To The Rain. How do you actually set fire to the rain? I’m not sure that this is scientifically possible? Anyway, you also need a bonfire to accompany fireworks, and it was either this song or ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ by Billy Joel, but that song is old, and this one isn’t, so here we go. Also, Adele is back v soon! With some more amazing scientifically confounding songs.

6.Shaggy. Boombastic. Just what does it mean to be Boombastic? Who knows? We’d have to ask Mr Shaggy, but also, we could maybe ask him why he doesn’t continue to do songs like this instead of messing around with Sting? Another in the endless lineage of amazing Boom songs, this is Shaggy at his best. Or maybe that’s ‘It Wasn’t Me’. Anyway, listen to Shaggy!

10. Billie Eilish. Bad Guy. Yes, it’s true. Guy Fawkes was a very bad guy. 21.


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Really Very Good Indeed pop newcomer emie nathan (all lowercase - Ed) has announced details of a debut EP. Titled ‘white light’, the collection is set for release on 26th November, and is previewed by its title-track, streaming now on

Amber Mark has announced details of her much-anticipated debut album ‘Three Dimensions Deep’. Set for release on 28th January, the news comes alongside a new track, ‘What It Is’, as well as news of a huge UK, EU and US tour for next spring.

Fast-rising Dubliners Odd Morris have a debut EP ‘Cityscape the Ballet’ on the way, set for release on 27th October - which means you might be able to stream it by the time you read this. If not, they’ve also debuted a single from it, ‘Silhouette’, which you can check out on now.


South West London’s Dexter has just released her debut EP ‘I Do Love A Good Sandwich’, and if that’s not enough to win you over, well - you’re reading the wrong magazine. WORDS: Martyn Young. PHOTOGRAPHY: Joseph Clarke.


’m really obsessed with buildings. They are my favourite thing in the world.” It’s not the usual thing we hear from a pop star, but Dexter isn’t your usual pop star, so let’s go with it. “I think I like them more than music. I love buildings so much.” Which buildings are her favourite? “There is this building near my house called Westbury Estate, and there’s this block of flats in Camberwell on Windham Road. I also love Trellick Tower. I did a 15-minute talk about it before. Buildings are great.” So, yeah, buildings are great, and so is Dexter. If you don’t know who Dexter is, then it’s the name used by 18-year-old Charmaine, who has only been making music for 18 months but has already made quite the impression with DIY self-uploaded songs that highlight the wild and raw emotions of youth with an endearing resonance. Dexter also has an incredibly singular and brilliantly chaotic energy that makes her stand out from pretty much everyone else. The way she talks about music makes it sound like the easiest and most natural thing in the whole world. Like a lot of new artists, the DEXTER pandemic provided the impetus to turn a hobby into something that just might turn into a career. “I had my birthday on Zoom last year,” she begins. “That was like the first lockdown where they were like ‘DON’T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE’. I showed my friend the garage song I made, and they were like, ‘Oh my god! Put it on SoundCloud’, and I was like, wait, what? They put it all over their Snapchat stories, and people were actually saying stuff about me. “I listen to it now, and it’s actually quite awful, but at the time, people were really nice about it. I was like, hang on. Maybe I should make more. And then I made more.” There you go. As simple as that. Of course, that belies the beauty and vibrant freshness that goes into her songs, like

the blissful bop of ‘Blue Skies’ and the tracks created on her latest EP, ‘I Do Love A Good Sandwich’. Of course, even if Dexter never recorded another note of music again, she’d already be iconic for that title alone. It’s almost as if her burgeoning success has come about by accident, though, and Charmaine is surprised at how Dexter has taken off. “It was completely for fun until actual people started actually speaking to me, and I was like, oh, the only reason I ever put a song on Spotify was so I could say I have a song on Spotify,” she says. “I wasn’t expecting anything from it at all. There wasn’t really a plan. Initially, the first thing I wanted to do was make garage music because during the last lockdown, I was really obsessed with it.” Circumstances, though, forced her into fortuitously making the type of rudimentary music that has so enraptured people. “You know when you buy a YouTube beat? And you type the person and name into Soundcloud? Well, I couldn’t buy a beat. I’m 18, I don’t have that kind of money. I didn’t have the equipment to record myself. I just had my phone, so I thought maybe I should just use the stuff I can and try and make the music I can for now.” Dexter’s whole set-up at the moment is intimate and effortless. Despite her first recordings being self-recorded on acoustic guitar, this is not necessarily her preferred medium. “With the guitar songs that I write myself, it’s kind of just when I’m bored,” she laughs. “I’m really comfortable; I only really work with the same two people, so I’m really comfortable with them. Shouts to Dom and Chris.” Over the course of this year, her working practices have ever so slightly become more advanced. “It was nice because one of the people I work with he’s only just moved to a new studio,” she says. “This studio is in his bedroom, and the other guy is in his sitting room, so it didn’t feel too far from how I had initially started

“I wasn’t expecting anything from it at all. There wasn’t really a plan”


TOP 5 LIST OF THE BEST ‘SANDWICHES’ EVER As you know, Dexter loves a good sandwich. And we at Dork certainly agree. And because we also love a good list, we thought it was only right and proper that we asked Dexter to list her definitive list of the Top 5 sandwiches. So she did. And here it is.


The Greatest sandwich of all time is the fillet o fish burger from McDonald’s. I wrote a song about that. It sounds like a love song, but it’s not. It’s called ‘For You’, and the first line is ‘You were always on my mind’ because it’s about my favourite burger. Oh, it’s so good. 2. STARBUCKS BREAKFAST Oh my gosh. Amazing. You need it in your life. 3. THE ALL-DAY BREAKFAST The one where they put literally every ingredient ever. Sausage and ketchup, mmm. 4. HAM AND CHEESE TOASTIE With some good quality bread. 5 MAYO CHICKEN AND BACON The reason I say this is I used to have this loads on school trips.

out, so it felt quite nice. It didn’t feel too big of a step.” Of course, Charmaine now realises there’s an active captive audience for Dexter, which changes things a bit. “Now I think more about the songs. I judge myself more than I did before with the songs I make. Before it would be, I made a song and put it out myself three days later,” she says. The musical touchstones for Dexter range from modern-day icons like Tyler, The Creator (“my favourite person on the entire planet”), to rising stars like Beabadoobee and bona fide legends like Phil Collins and Sade. Mostly though, the artists that truly inspire Dexter are young, fresh and making exciting music with no boundaries. “I feel like it’s a time when people are trying to find more underground artists and sounds,” she says excitedly. There’s a refreshing candidness to Dexter. She has no time for pointless conceptualism or self-indulgent waffle; she just makes what she likes and does what she wants. “Each session I had was on a Saturday and Sunday in February and March, and those are the songs,” she says about the time spent making her latest EP. “I had four songs and was like, EP! It wasn’t anything else. I always complicate things for myself when I try and make them too thought out and just ruin everything. So yeah, it was just four songs, pretty much.” While she doesn’t think too deeply about the creative process, Charmaine is aware of how there’s huge scope for Dexter to develop and a devoted audience to go with her, and it’s now about how she navigates that with the whole business of performing etc. “I’m struggling with finding out what kind of music I want to make,” she ponders. “I know I started with all the guitar stuff and acoustic guitar on my phone, and that might be interpreted that that’s the type of music I make, but the only reason I made that is not that I would have but because it was all I had. I guess it’s now me finding ways to develop my sound beyond my phone and beyond the songs on the EP. I don’t want to just put myself into one category of music. I don’t think that would be fun. It’s finding ways to develop my sound and making more songs.” P Dexter’s EP ‘I Do Love A Good Sandwich’ is out now. 23.


Loads of bands are great. Some are even important, but few come out of the blocks already feeling special. Bleach Lab do, though - which is worth getting very excited about indeed. WORDS:


Stephen Ackroyd.


t can be seen as a bit reductive to simply compare new bands to their more established peers. A lazy shorthand used to put intricate, original creative endeavours into tight little boxes, already defined by someone else. And, in a way, that’s true - but that’s not what we’re about to do here. See, your good friends at Dork have been doing this new music thing for quite a while - even longer than the magazine you hold in your hands has been ‘a thing’. We’ve seen bands come and go, fade away or rise to the very top. Without tooting our own metaphorical horn, we’ve been there early on some ‘big’ names. So, when we say Bleach Lab’s new EP ‘Nothing Feels Real’ is the first time anything has so strongly recalled the first time we heard those early EPs from everyone’s favourites Wolf Alice, it means something. To us, anyway. That’s not to say Bleach Lab are simply an iteration on another successful band. They’re not. What it means is that they’re sprinkled with the same ethereal fairy dust that others simply aren’t. An indefinable, hard to pin-point magic that draws the listener in and makes them feel like they belong. One play through, and

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we’re more than willing to ride or die. They matter. That doesn’t happen often. We caught up with the four-piece to get an early introduction. Hello, Bleach Lab! Your new EP ‘Nothing Feels Real’ is Really Rather Good, but it also deals with some real, weighty topics. How much of yourselves do you put into the lyrics? Jenna Kyle (vocals): Thank you! Yeah, I think we’re definitely becoming quite good at writing tracks that are pretty catchy (in our opinion) but if you sit and actually listen to the lyrics, they certainly are very weighty indeed. The EP gives an insight into our deepest and darkest personal thoughts, which we know a lot of people will relate to. It touches on various things, mental health and relationships, featuring some very personal tracks. Do you sit down intending to write about certain topics, or is it more a case of where the music takes you in the moment? Jenna: It really depends. Sometimes a riff Frank comes up which can trigger a certain memory or thought, which leads to wanting to tell a certain story


but we do have our main topics that we relate to very strongly and want to explore, like relationships (romantic and otherwise), mental health experiences, love, loss… Josh Longman (bass): Music is more in the moment. I never pick what I start to write about. It morphs overtime and I create an image in my mind of what I want to write about and create a story that fits the imagery in my head in a sonic way.

It’s produced by actual living legend Stephen Street. How did that come about? Jenna: We have always been such big fans of the music Stephen has produced but never did we think we would get the chance to work with him ourselves but after someone directly compared our sound to the Cranberries we thought ‘what’s the harm in reaching out?’-Lucky enough, he loved our ideas for upcoming EP and agreed to come on board. Does working with someone who has played a part in so many classic records make you up your game in the studio? How was the experience? Frank Wates (guitar): It definitely made us prepare more thoroughly.

When we’ve recorded in the past it was over a long time, so we were able to get away with being a little underprepared. This time we had to work to a very tight schedule so didn’t have that luxury. I think one of the things that made the whole thing work so well was that we spent time discussing and finessing the songs with Stephen before we’d even gone into record. It meant we ended up making some pretty big changes, but it also meant that everything flowed so easily when we were in the room together. We’d had the opportunity to think things through properly so there was no need to overthink as we recorded - something that some of us are often guilty of doing. It’s been a weird old year for bands - especially new ones you’re starting to be able to get out and play shows again now, how is it going so far? Jenna: It’s been incredible! We were obviously on the edge of our seats like everyone else, just waiting to be able to get out there. We’ve been playing a fair bit up north, which has been really fun and quite surreal that some of our first gigs are being played so far away from home but every city so

far has made us feel so welcome. We are playing headline shows in both Brighton (which is where I live) and London (where the guys live) in October, so we are very excited for that. Frank: Yeah, it’s been very difficult for any new artist! Playing shows, from our recent experience at least, has been the best way to find new fans so it really has felt like our ability to grow was put on ice for the last 18 months. But the progress we’ve made since getting back into playing shows has been amazing and spending all that time writing, rehearsing, and planning means we were probably better prepared to play shows to a new audience than we ever would have been otherwise. What inspired you to first get into making music? Was there a particular record or band that gave you that initial push to give it a go? Jenna: For me personally, there had never really been anything else. It’s something I was passionate about from an incredibly early age and I’ve never really strayed away from that path. Frank: It’s hard to say as I’ve gone through a number of bursts of wanting to make music throughout the last 10 to 15 years. Though I think the record that really pushed me to start on the journey which eventually led to Bleach Lab was probably ‘Lonerism’ (Tame Impala). I only listened to it for the first time in around 2015/2016 and I remember how it helped to precipitate thoughts about making music and where I could go with it. Are any of you creative in non-musical ways too? Jenna: I love to paint and draw, whether I’m good at it or not is obviously up for discussion. I’m always exploring other creative paths, for example, I am waiting to enrol on a pottery class. Perhaps I could single-handedly produce an entire line of Bleach Lab merch mugs if it goes well. Kieran Weston (drums): I’m quite into film photography, and love going out and shooting with one of my 35mm cameras. Unfortunately, I don’t get much time for it these days but I’m really looking forward to documenting the next few months of shows and other band shenanigans on film. Josh: I dabble in short stories and poetry in my spare time (which I rarely get). I also am a mean duelist at yu-gi-oh! What’s the plan after this? Is it time to start talking about albums yet? Frank: It’s certainly something we have thought about but we won’t do an album until we are also absolutely ready. That’s not to say that being ready won’t come soon, it may well. I think for now the focus is on our shows that we have coming up, and then on to our UK tour in February/March. P

Hotly-tipped Liverpool bunch The Mysterines have announced their debut album ‘Reeling’, set to arrive on 11th March via Fiction Records. “For me ‘Reeling’ sums up every emotion of the album in just one word,” frontwoman Lia Metcalfe explains.

Buzzy 24-year-old West Londoner Jordan Nash has announced the details of his debut EP. Titled ‘Sixty Four’, it’s set to arrive on 3rd November. “It’s quite raw,” he says of the release, “and exactly what I wanted to be talking about.”

London-based foursome Los Bitchos have unveiled their debut album, ‘Let The Festivities Begin!’. Set for release on 4th February via City Slang Records, the album was produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand in Gallery Studios, London. Check out new single ‘Las Panteras’ now.


Zeitgeisty 20-yearold JJ Shurbet, aka scruffpuppie, is equally adept at turning out an emopop bop as they are a heartstring-tugging piano ballad. WORDS: Sam Taylor. PHOTOGRAPHY:

Mowgly Lee.


tarting out making songs to impress her mum (aaw), before taking off on YouTube as a teenager and then landing a record deal with Phoebe Bridgers’ coveted Saddest Factory (also home to Dork faves Claud and MUNA, ‘FYI’), Wisconsin artist scruffpuppie has made a name for herself via a veritable avalanche of raw, emotive tunes that attempt to deal with the challenges of growing up, most recently adventuring into lo-fi emo-pop and piano balladry. Hi scruffpuppie! How are you doing? What have you been up to today? I’m good! I’m currently in a studio session with my buddy, and we’re working on a couple experimental tracks. What first sparked your interest in music? When I was about 13, I heard a song by [American folk band] Blind Pilot called ‘The Story I Heard’, which has a line that they yell, which differed from the rest of the song but invoked so much emotion in me. That was kind of when I realised what music could really do. What led to you writing your first song? Can you remember what it was about? The first song I wrote was actually a Christian worship song called ‘Lord I Want More Of You,’ and I wrote it to impress my mom with the three chords she taught me on the guitar. How has your music progressed since then? Well, it’s definitely not worship music anymore. I’ve explored so many different genres that influence my music today; I love playing with different tunings and experimenting with the chords that


can be played in those tunings. I just really like experimenting now, and I think it shows a lot in my upcoming record.

signed that are just surreal to me. Not to mention the album Marshall Vore and I just finished. It’s really a dream come true.

The album’s finished? How have What were your first steps to you found the process? getting your music ‘out there’, The album has been done for a and when did it feel as though you started to gain traction? Was few months now, but the process was so much fun. I loved working there a pivotal moment? with Marshall I had been every day and uploading writing with covers to him. Things felt YouTube since so natural, and I was 9, but I the sounds he didn’t really gain and I made are any traction far beyond what until I was 15 I thought was or 16. The first capable of for video to surpass scruffpuppie. 10,000 views was my cover How did of ‘King’ by you end up xxxtentacion; on Saddest that was what Factory? made me start I don’t really to take things know, honestly. more seriously, It was just kind seeing that a SCRUFFPUPPIE of random. career in music One day when was possible. I was visiting LA last year, my manager told Is being a musician living up to me, “you have a meeting with the hype? Phoebe Bridgers, by the way.” I I love it. Writing music is my was honestly shocked. She told passion, and there are so many me about her label and how it things happening now that I’ve

“I had a gut feeling that Saddest Factory was where I needed to be”

worked, and I honestly just thought it was cool how much like a family it felt like. I had a gut feeling that Saddest Factory was where I needed to be. What would you most like to achieve during your music career? I really want to have a sold-out tour one day; playing live is my favourite part about making music, and there are so many places I wanna go. Are you creative in non-musical ways too? I really like drawing and colouring; I really want to start doing designs for my own clothing line. What do you do for fun? I love skateboarding and watching The Walking Dead with my boyfriend. Anything else we should know? Check out my side-project grimtweakr, and my SoundCloud (scruffpuppie), which has way more music than my Spotify! Also, shoutout casper cue, carpetgarden, cmten, stagehoax, postcard nowhere and all my other music besties. P scruffpuppie’s single ‘paint’ is out now.

South London duo SHELF LIVES have just dropped their debut single, cunningly titled ‘Shelf Life’. Co-produced by Space (IDLES, Do Nothing), they hail from Toronto and Northampton respectively, and specialise in a sort of electronic-post-punk sound that runs from a lineage of the likes of Le Tigre, Peaches and The Prodigy. “Shelf Life is about life,” they explain. “It’s short and fickle so, who cares!”


South London art-rock sextet. There’s a phrase we find ourselves typing more often than you’d think. Newcomers Blue Bendy have a debut EP, ‘Motorbike’, coming next February, and certainly have benefited from the scene from which they come. “I don’t think we would have progressed the way we had if we hadn’t been surrounded by those bands,” explains singer and lyricist Arthur Nolan. “It makes you strive much harder.” Interesting, engaging and vibrant, there’s something refreshingly vital to their new song ‘Spring 100’, streaming now. 25.


Just inked with Rather Good label Lucky Number - home to Dream Wife, Hinds, Walt Disco and more - Yorkshire five-piece Priestgate have just shared a brand new single ‘Bedtime Story’, and it’s pretty bloody brilliant. Working with former Kaiser Chiefs drummer and songwriter Nick Hodgson, they’re already showing every sign of becoming future indie icons. Worth getting on board early.


South London-based, Haikuloving trio Honeyglaze are making a bit of noise. Inked with the very cool Speedy Underground, they’ve just dropped a debut single ‘Burglar’. Born out of lead songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Anouska Sokolow’s “un-desire to be a solo-act”, they describe themselves as “the ungodly fusion of 3 humans into a clamouring superorganism. It eats only fish, and demands undistracted and constant worship. FFO Power Rangers, Salvador Dalí”. Fair enough.


Toronto’s Sham Family - like so many bands - tried to find the silver lining in the year lost to the pandemic. Using it as time to reassess their material, retool and go again, they took to their practice space and started working on something new. Next January, they’ll drop their debut self-titled EP. Mixing influences and with a desire to build a community around their band, they’re more interesting than most.

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THE LET GO A new pop duo is on the scene, and The Let Go are rapidly drawing attention. WORDS:


ith a self-anointed tagline of “this is all just a trend”, The Let Go are more than your average pop duo, with origins rather far from their adopted home of Liverpool. “We met in high school, your romanticised American high school, and started playing together when we were 16-17 in some shit pop-punk band,” lead vocalist Cole Bleu recalls of their connection back in her hometown of Washington, DC. “It felt like we jelled as soon as we met; something felt weirdly right.” Scout, guitarist and fellow producer, chimes in: “There was definitely some universe work going on there.” A few years later, the pair have got to know each other properly by moving in together across the pond, and it’s been something of culture shock. Attending Reading, their first-ever music festival, was a major surprise for newbies to the literal field. “Going to [a festival] felt super strange, but it also seemed like it’s part of the culture in the UK,” Scout observes. “I felt like I had to take three showers afterwards.” Going on this bold journey together has helped both musicians evolve on a personal level, but also through their music which has changed drastically since those early days. “It’s definitely become a lot more honest; it’s easier to write just because we’re so close,” Cole comments, while Scout reveals that when problems do occur, “we can just go up or down the stairs and yell for each other.” Producing their own music through an in-house setup due to the wonders of modern technology, The Let Go are keen to keep evolving as they go through constant experimentation that allows learning through the development process of each song. This raw approach has allowed their creativity to flourish beyond the boundaries of the studio.

Finlay Holden.

“I’ve worked with a lot of people who are very experienced in the music industry,” Cole explains. “That’s great, and they have a lot to offer, but also music is so subjective. You don’t know what sounds good; it’s just what sounds good to your ears. If you want to push buttons or do something different that others haven’t done, run a sound through something that it’s not supposed to… why can’t you just do it?” Perhaps the main benefit of seizing the production reigns is that The Let Go are able to blend their glossy, glamorised American influences with the authentic grit of Merseyside. “We take inspiration from BROCKHAMPTON, Remi Wolf, Dominic Fike… all these cool people who are so raw and real while living amongst palm trees,” Cole says. “We like to incorporate that energy in some way and hope people find it captivating.” When asked why that vibrancy appeals to us Brits, Scout reflects: “The US is oversaturated with people trying to capture that aesthetic. We already had that vibe going for us as a baseline, but after coming here, it’s definitely morphed into something even newer – it’s a combination of the two scenes.” An unforeseen consequence of the move was the discovery of the immense passion lying barely beneath the surface of the UK industry; a true commitment to new music, original art and the joy of sharing it. “That was a major moment for me, realising that we can really do this because people do actually care,” Cole gushes. “That was a big learning curve; I thought people wouldn’t care until you get to the top.” Now making not steps but strides forward with their music, The Let Go are sure to start rising up those ranks exponentially. Following a signing to the tastemakers at Chess Club Records, a new single in the form of ‘Woke’ reinvented the band’s signature sound. It provided a

galvanising reinvigoration of their indie-pop style. “It was one of the first things we wrote when I got [to Liverpool], so it was really us taking matters into our own hands and finding the start of our most authentic art,” Scout describes of their first entirely self-produced effort. The deftness of the duo’s unique touch is evident. Through a whirlwind of gentle vocals, sharp lyrics, rumbling guitars and bouncing beats, a twisted view of selfacceptance is smartly navigated under a vibrant and euphoric façade. “Everyone online is about self-care, meditation, self-love, doing all these things just for you, and COLE BLEU you’ll have the best life. It’s such bullshit,” Cole clarifies. “Not everyone can live up to those standards, and so I’m saying it’s only a trend to love yourself in that way, but will it make me more ‘woke’ if I do it? It’s about taking the pieces of yourself and trying to love them.” With a completely contrasting listening experience arriving in the form of ‘02 Vegas’, The Let Go continue to subvert expectations. A second EP is looming over the horizon, and there is at least one thing that the catalyst ‘Woke’ has established as vital to the band’s very essence. “It’s the lyricism, just being honest and open,” Cole shares. “That was a big step forward for us and makes people gravitate towards our stuff more. That’s definitely the case with the stuff you’ll be hearing next.” The goals of this exciting project don’t end at just honesty, though, as the pair declare grand

ambitions. “Our intentions as a whole are to make a difference in the world,” she continues. “Growing up, we didn’t really have a relatable influence to grab on to, being women in the industry.” “Only major ones, so they get thrown at you so much that you get sick of them at a certain point,” Scout expresses with an understandable amount of frustration. “There’s no one doing specifically what we’re doing, so we hope we can be that for someone; to become that ‘women in the industry’ story without having it thrown in your face. We want to be where we are because we deserve it, because we sound good enough to be heard, and not just because we’re just women.” Part of achieving this success is to approach it with a longterm mindset. “We sit down to write a song and ask: in 20 years, will people want to listen to this?” Cole questions. “We don’t want our five minutes of fame, we’re here for the long haul, and that’s something that’s super interesting to us. People focus on the next thing that they do, but that’s not always what is important – the focus should be changing the world and the industry because we’re women, and we can do that.” “It’s not about thinking ‘I’m the shit’,” Cole concludes. “It’s about thinking: ‘I have something to say’. We want a community that can hopefully change the industry for the better. So look the fuck up – if you want to come on this journey, you can.” P The Let Go’s single ‘Woke’ is out now.

“We don’t want our five minutes of fame, we’re here for the long haul”

The most exciting new band on the planet, Wet Leg have booked a UK headline tour for next year. The duo will call off for shows in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich, London and Portsmouth from 16th April.

NOAHFINNCE has announced a new UK tour for 2022. The run – titled the Anatomy Of A Rat tour – will be the pop-punkster’s first-ever headline jaunt, and is set to kick off in Oxford on 13th January, finishing up at London’s O2 Academy Islington.

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard have revealed details of their debut album. Titled ‘Backhand Deals’, their first full-length will be released on 25th February via Communion. They’ll play a show at London’s Scala not long after, too, on 10th March. Tickets are on sale now. 27.



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Remi Wolf may not consider herself strictly ‘a pop star’, but with one of the biggest, most fun records of the year so far, we certainly do. There’s no room for boring here. WORDS: Ali Shutler. PHOTOGRAPHY AND SET DESIGN: Haley Appell. STYLIST: Joanie Del Santo. MAKEUP: Francie Tomalonis. LIGHTING: Byron Nickelberry. SET DESIGN ASSISTANTS: Cameron Nawaz and Mike Teeps.


SET 29.


EMI WOLF’S 2019 DEBUT EP, ‘You’re A Dog!’ was a giddy, kaleidoscopic blitz of young love, messy nights out and newfound freedoms, while 2020’s ‘I’m Allergic To Dogs!’ was just as turbulent, all sticky floors and smeared lipstick delivered over a rotating guest list of disco, jazz, funk, rock, indie and pop from across years. In fact, the only thing Remi didn’t dabble in was dullness. Debut album ‘Juno’ is just as electrifying. It’s named after Remi’s own pet, an adorable French bulldog that sat with her in the studio as “an emotional support dog” while she wrote eleven of the record’s thirteen tracks (the other two are older). Is that title her way of telling fans she’s moving beyond selfdestruction and finally embracing the things that are good for her? “You’re reading way too much into it, dude,” she grins as we put our whiteboard away. “I just wanted to dedicate the album to my dog. ‘You’re A Dog!’ was just an inside joke I had with my friends that would take far too long to explain. For some reason, I decided to continue that joke through the second

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EP and then I happened to get a dog. It really is not connected.” She’s just as frank when asked if she considers herself a pop star. “You know what, I have no idea. If we’re talking conventional pop stars like Madonna, Cher, then no. But then, I don’t really know what a pop star is. Kurt Cobain was a pop star, but I’m no Cobain either.” And while ‘Volkiano’, a folk drum and bass track from ‘Juno’, sees her call herself a freak, it isn’t a label that lingered beyond that song. “Sometimes I feel like a freak but so does everyone. It’s hard to define yourself. I think I’m just a lot of everything.” True to form, Remi’s debut album is just as wonderfully muddled. Songs about depression, sobriety, family, friends and self-reflection share the same dancefloor as she delivers a soundtrack that doesn’t waste time ripping up the pop rulebook. Instead, it exists in a club all of its own. There’s a palpable excitement around Remi’s debut. She found herself on a lot of people’s playlists thanks to ‘Photo I.D.’ and its Dominic Fike-featuring remix, but that spotlight soon found people vibing with ‘Disco Man’, ‘Woo!’ and ‘Cheesin”, proving there was more to Remi than her 15 viral minutes of fame. “It’s crazy I have fans even waiting for songs,” she starts. “I’m feeling a lot of things right now. It can be a lot of pressure, and I really hope they like the album,” she continues before changing pace. “So far, I’ve been getting a lot of great responses, and I think it’s good. Hopefully, they like my energy and can feed off of it. I’m just trying to be myself as much as I can.” At age eight, Remi Wolf started training to be a competitive skier, eventually competing in two youth Olympic games, but aged 15, she wrote her first song. A track called ‘Carousel’, she and her friend Chloe would perform it at open mic nights. Spurred on by the positive response, Remi would write more, perform more, and there was no looking back. “I was hooked.” Teenage bands followed (including one with current producer Jared Soloman), as did an audition for the 13th season of American Idol while she was enrolled in LA’s USC Thornton School of Music. “I always felt like I wanted to do my own thing,” says Remi, before admitting that she didn’t really know what that would look like. “I didn’t know if I was going to be in a band, work as a songwriter for other people or whatever.” Still, she kept writing songs and eventually found her voice. “By the time I was 22, I figured out what I wanted to do with my solo thing.” So she took her songs, formed a band and was soon gigging around Los Angeles. “None of those songs are out, and I don’t think any of them will ever see the light of day,” she says. They still had the Remi Wolf vibe but were “a lot more raw, and indie rock-influenced”, because that was what was going on at her school. Around the same time, though, she reunited with Jared Soloman, and they immediately started writing songs together that felt a lot more like Remi. “We knew it was a thing, and we ran with it.”


FTER ‘YOU’RE A DOG!’ in 2019, Remi Wolf signed to Island Records, telling the major label not to interfere with her. The ballsy move, she says, “was a big leap on my part, as well as the label’s, to go along with all these ideas… but it’s working.” Soon after the release of ‘I’m Allergic To Dogs!’, her music really started finding an audience, and things haven’t slowed down since. “I think


that COVID was weirdly a perfect backdrop for my music,” starts Remi. “People wanted something to lift their spirits, and that EP was such a dance record. I’d literally made that EP for a live show; I created those songs so that when I played them live, everybody was going to have a fucking fun time. I

mean, everyone did end up having fun, just in their houses. “I have no idea why ‘Photo ID’ caught on so hard, though,” she adds. “That’s just a fluke of the simulation, but I try not to think about it too hard.” All that streaming success and famous fans like Beck, Camila Cabello and Nile Rodgers hasn’t influenced ‘Juno’. It still sounds distinctly like Remi Wolf, but there’s no ‘Photo ID Again’ or cynical collabs. She’s still herself. “The success did change things but not at a level where I had enough time to be scared about it,” says Remi. “Now though, with the album done, I’ve had time to process everything that’s gone on in my life over the past two years and holy fuck. Jesus Christ. It’s pretty crazy. I’m definitely feeling the pressure now, knowing there are people who are going to be listening to my songs, but I don’t think I had the time for it to affect my writing process. I was too busy to think about it, really.” From the brash funk opening of ‘Liquor Store’ (“You got an ice cream cone on your leg motherfucker. I’ve got two fish kissing on my clit motherfucker,” sings Remi, less than a minute into the record), through the playground hip-hop of ‘Quiet On Set’, the soaring dream-pop of ‘Front Tooth’ and the beach punk urgency of ‘Grumpy Old Man’, when Remi says “there’s a lot going on” on ‘Juno’, you better believe her. “Most of it was written during COVID, and that was a very selfreflective time but also a really manic time for



me, and everyone really,” she explains. “It’s got this weird balance of mania and self-reflection. It shouldn’t work and a lot of the songs ended up sounding psychotic, but I love it.” There was no vision for the album before Remi got into the studio. “Good on you, every artist who has a vision or full-on vibe for their record, but I’m never going to be that person,” she explains. “I just go with the flow and follow where my instincts are

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taking me.” Every song was written in a day, and once the clock struck midnight, Remi only returned to the tracks to tweak or polish them if they excited her enough. “Every song is a snapshot into what I was feeling when I was writing. It’s basically a little COVID journal for me.” Inspired by the records and artists she’d turned to for comfort since she was a child – Gwen Stefani, John Mayer, Kacey Musgraves, Amy Winehouse,

Nirvana – the writing process for ‘Juno’ was very insular, with “big emo vibes,” she says. “There wasn’t a lot to talk about, except myself and my own experiences. There were times where the music really didn’t sound like me, but I love experimenting. Whether it’s sound, my voice or the lyrics, I love pushing myself to go further and further. I think we ended up with a record that sounds like nothing else. We made something really unique.” Remi tries to pick out the extremes of the record – suggesting ‘Quiet On Set’, ‘Sally’ and ‘Street You Live On’, before admitting defeat. Every track offers something new, something bold. “It’s a very different sounding record to anything I’ve made before. We’ve made an experimental pop album.” When lockdown began to ease last June, Remi played a drive-in concert that just happened to be the first gig back in the entire state of Los Angeles. By all accounts, it was a glorious return for her and live music, with the celebrations continuing long into the night. It was one drunken blackout too many, though, and the next day, she asked her family for help. She was soon admitted to rehab and has been sober ever since. Instead of drinking to cope with industry pressures, Remi’s substance abuse issues were “just a thing I’d been doing for a while,” she reflects. “I decided it was time to get my act together.” She finds it weird that drinking “is so socially acceptable, but once it isn’t serving you anymore, once it becomes a destructive force in your life, that’s when I had to reevaluate what my relationship to alcohol was going to be.” Remi Wolf couldn’t have written this album without being sober. “It allowed me the brain space to reflect on my life. It literally allowed me the sobriety to go a little deeper, get uncomfortable and feel the inner turmoil that I guess I’ve been burying for a long time. It definitely added to that manic sound we were talking about earlier because, throughout the past year, I’ve truly been up and down. It’s been such an emotional rollercoaster. I’m happy I got sober. It’s been such a blessing in my life, but also so hard, especially with getting back into the swing of real life again. Anyone else who is sober, I commend you, and I’m there with you because it is a struggle.” Remi admits she “went back and forth” about going public with her sobriety. “It is such a personal piece of information, but it’s been such a huge part of my past year. I would feel like I was lying to everybody if I didn’t mention it. Also, there are a lot of young people who go through this, and I want to... inspire them,” says Remi, a little unsure. “I want to keep them going or relate to them. Sobriety and addiction can be such isolating journeys because there really aren’t that many people my age talking about, especially in the music industry. If it makes one person feel better by seeing me talk about it, that’s worth it.” As well as sobriety, a lot of ‘Juno’ “is about relationships, whether that’s with my friends, my partners or my family. I wanted to explore that and



how I play a part in all those relationships. “I also wrote about mental health and depression. I wrote about depression a lot, actually, and people always get shocked when I say that because ‘my music sounds so happy’, but if you listen to the lyrics, it’s basically ‘everything sucks’. That’s just a reflection of me, though. I love feel-good music, but also, I’m a 25-year-old girl going through stuff over here.” She wants people to find their own meaning in her stories, “but if my music can change your mood, turn your day around or get you out of a bad place, that’s fucking sick. My favourite artists are the ones who’ve been able to really help me through hard times. Those are the artists that stick with you forever, so if I can be that type of artist to somebody, that’d be awesome.” As for the visuals, ‘Juno’ is the first time Remi has had this much content to pull from and play with. She wants to make a video for every song on the album (“that’s proving very ambitious of me, but I think we’re going to pull it off ”), and the MO is simple – “I want it to be loud, crazy, chaotic and colourful. The more absurd, the better.” Sober, confident, and unafraid to tell people what she’s really thinking, ‘Juno’ is the sound of someone getting comfortable with who they are and

the world around them. That said, Remi still doesn’t feel like she’s found her sound. “It’s just always changing. When I think about my next record, I want to make a country album, a jazz album, a pure pop album, and that changes every day. I’m all over the place, and it’ll probably end up being an amalgamation of all those things. But that’s fine; there are so many things to explore that I never want to box myself in.”


“One thing I know I want to do is go to a cabin in the forest, post up there for two months and see what comes out of that,” she adds. “Let’s talk about what comes after my forest excursion.” And while her genre is an ever-shifting idea, Remi Wolf is sure she will always make upbeat music. “Feel-good music is what gets me excited about writing. I like feeling good when I’m listening to my own songs, so there’ll always be an element of feel good to it. I don’t think I’m going to go off and make a meditative ambient record. There’s always going to be drums, bass and a lot of harmonies, which are always the most feel-good thing you can add to a song.” Of course, the former Olympic skier and American Idol contestant has big dreams about where ‘Juno’ takes her. “I’m always going to have high ambitions and high hopes for myself. I’ve always been very driven, and I will take this career as far as I can, but really, I’m just along for the ride. It absolutely is scary because there’s so much unknown around it all.” “I catch myself subtly trying to destroy my life all the time, and I have to have a strong word with myself,” continues Remi, trying to remain in control. “There are so many artists who get lost in the process, and I’m really scared of that, but my two biggest goals are to stay grounded and stay honest. All I can really do is keep working, keep writing and just be as honest as I can. It’s exciting, but it’s really fucking scary.” P Remi Wolf’s

album ‘Juno’ is out now. 33.


TIME FLIES Courtney Barnett is on a quest for joy, pulling optimism out of the darkness for a new album that’s quietly hopeful. WORDS:

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Jessica Goodman. PHOTOGRAPHY: Ian Laidlaw, Mia Mala McDonald.




Courtney Barnett learned as she was making her third album, it’s to appreciate the little things. “Last year, I told a friend I wanted to paint more and the next day, she gave me this beautiful little travelling watercolour set,” she recalls. “It was so thoughtful and such a beautiful, simple gift to encourage someone else’s creativity.” That small gesture, impromptu as it was, motivated her to paint and inspired the artwork for her third record, ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’. It’s fitting, really, that such a small gesture had such a large impact on her work. The Australian musician has made her name amplifying still moments into expansive structures while distilling complex emotions into witty lyricisms through her songs. On ‘Things Take Time…’ her characteristic observational stylings are as prevalent as they’ve ever been, conveying mundane moments and all-encompassing emotions in their full technicolour glory. “What I’ve figured out I enjoy about songwriting is that sometimes it can be so overwhelming,” Courtney portrays. “Sometimes life feels so overwhelming, and you’ve got so many thoughts, so many things going on at once. You want to say so many different things, but if you try to say them all at once, it just doesn’t work.” There’s no impact in that, she finds, and in trying to express everything, you only stop yourself from saying anything that makes sense. “The songwriting process, for me, is about trying to separate those ideas and those thoughts and put them in a dot point form, then within that dot point, elaborating,” she says. From her laments on the monotony of suburban life (‘Rae Street’) to her open invitation to “sit beside me, watch the world burn” (‘Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To’), and everything in between, on ‘Things Take Time…’ Courtney Barnett does exactly what she set out to do. “It’s so much more powerful like this,” she describes. “There’s so much power in small detail. There’s so much emotion.” But more than that, as she honed in on the subtleties of still moments while writing these songs, Courtney found a sense of hope. “I think it’s easy to kind of underestimate those things, but when I find myself slowing down and allow myself the time and the patience to do that, then it’s rewarding in its own way.” Asked if she finds a sense of catharsis in her songwriting, she carefully considers for a moment before answering. “There can be [catharsis],” she sighs. “Sometimes it’s just... pure pain,” she laughs. Dismissing her previous statement,

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she explains, “It’s just frustrating sometimes. I think that’s just normal. The expectation that’s behind it... If you sit down and think you’re going to write something perfect and successful, that touches everybody around the world, then you’re probably going to hit some roadblocks.” While the world has felt like it was at something of a standstill over the past 18 months as we moved in and out of lockdown, Courtney focused her energy on turning a time of introspection into a necessary reprieve. “I think there were plenty of moments where I just had no motivation, or I guess not much hope,” she recalls. “I just tried to forget about those feelings and just sit down and work, or sit down and play guitar.” It’s a strategy she admits as being “a little bit fake-it-till-you-make-it,” but it gave her the push she needed to try something new, to experiment with her creativity, and to push herself outside of her boundaries. Her determination to step outside of her comfort zone can be heard with crystal clarity on album standout track ‘Sunfair Sundown’. “Sometimes it’s hard / Getting lost, you say, is a fine art / Put the map down and follow the stars,” she sings, sounding every bit as set free as her words invite us to be. “It’s [about] trying to find joy where you can, and trying to let go of certain thought patterns and focusing on whatever positive is available,” she portrays. An ode to the art of getting lost, to finding your way without


knowing where you’re going or whether the direction you’re taking is the right one, it’s a song she finds her own sense of comfort in. And really, that’s what this record is all about: seeking out the comfort, the beauty, and the hope within the chaos, to find the way forwards even through the dark. “It’s born out of a sense of a kind of hopelessness, but I think it’s about trying to find your way in the present moment and not fear the unknown so much,” Courtney says. She’s describing ‘Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To’, but her words feel like they could be describing almost any song on her new album. An experience she describes as “a lesson in

patience,” with ‘Things Take Time…’ Courtney Barnett has crafted her most personal record yet. “I always find songwriting very revealing – even to myself,” she says. “Sometimes, I don’t realise what I’ve said or what I’ve felt until a bit later.” Drawing inspiration from a myriad of people, places, and pent-up emotions, it’s often not until a song is finished that she can see the picture that she’s painted in full. “I always find it revealing as a songwriter, but also revealing as a listener,” she describes. “Songs can so easily change. They evolve over time, or you find different meanings in them, the same way that anyone’s going to interpret them differently


depending on their own emotions and their own situation.” It’s for this reason that she won’t explain the inspiration behind her songs in any great detail, preferring instead to leave them open to interpretation. As for what she takes from the making of her third record, the answer is one she’s already given some thought to. “I learned to let go a little bit of the need for everything to go right all the time and the need to be in control of those moments,” she reflects. “I allowed myself to make mistakes and experiment and go off the path a bit and see where it would lead.” It’s something she would encourage everyone to do: let go of control, be in the moment, and discover where it takes you. “I think a lot of it is just finding the patience to allow yourself to do that,” she says. As she releases ‘Things Take Time…’, Courtney is hoping listeners can find exactly that. As she sings on album opener, ‘Rae Street’, “let go that expectation, change the station, and find out what you want.” P Courtney Barnett’s album ‘Things

Take Time, Take Time’ is out 12th November. 37.


N E W Ross and Rocky Lynch are back with the second album from The Driver Era, and it’s a record born from love. Aw. WORDS:

Jessica Goodman. PHOTOGRAPHY: MK Sadler, Samuel Fisher.

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The Driver Era has been from this house, right?” In the three and a half years since they made their Driver Era debut with ‘Preacher Man’, Ross and Rocky Lynch have released one studio album, three EPs, fifteen singles, and racked up an impressive 115 million streams (and counting). Now, conversing from their home in LA with the release of their second record right around the corner, the sibling duo are raring to find out what the next chapter has in store. “We’re on the last leg of this house studio,” Rocky states, gesturing at the room around him. This is the place where the pair have forged sparks of inspiration into fan-favourite anthems. It’s the space where they’ve placed the final flourishing touches on their records. It’s the place that every song they’ve crafted as The Driver Era has passed through, at one point or another in its evolution, and now the brothers are itching to see what they create when they find themselves somewhere new. “I definitely think where you are influences how you write,” Ross asserts. “I feel like every person is impressionable, to some degree, whether they want to admit it or not.” It’s something that the brothers hear vividly in their own music. Reflecting on the songs that make up their new record, the duo are quick to characterise early single ‘Take Me Out’. “To me, [it’s] the song of Vancouver,” Rocky describes. “That’s cool,” Ross responds, explaining, “because the whole of that song is about departing from Vancouver. That song actually holds a lot of meaning.” He pauses, then adds, “for me, at least,” and turns to his brother to continue, “and for you, at least.” Ignoring his sibling, Rocky shakes his head and deadpans, “none.” Released last summer, ‘Take Me Out’ is one of eight singles the duo have (so far) released from their new album. Written and recorded in and out of lockdown, ‘Girlfriend’ was – at least at first – never meant to be an album at all. “I don’t think we set out to make a record initially,” Ross recalls, and Rocky is

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quick to agree. “We just made songs.” As the singles stacked up (beginning with the double release of ‘OMG Plz Don’t Come Around’ and ‘flashdrive’ last June), it seemed only natural that these songs found a home together. “I think releasing an album is easier than releasing a single,” Rocky contemplates, then grins. “’Cause it’s a party!” he laughs, before returning to his train of thought. “A single is almost more of yourself. You can zoom in on it more. If you have an album, there’s so much there.” Releasing an album of singles, then, could be their way of offering the best of both worlds. The result is a record that’s as eclectic as it is electric. Switching from amped-up dance beats to reverbladen funk riffs and back again (while never straying too far from a good ol’ catchy chorus hook), this is The Driver Era at their most sonically freewheeling. “Anytime there’s a fresh start to a song,” Rocky describes of what makes their collaboration tick, “it’s usually because it doesn’t remind us of a single thing we’ve done. It’s unique to us.” The influences felt on this record are certainly diverse, and having let their creative instincts pave their way, the energy that flows through these songs is nothing short of natural. A soundtrack to the pep in your step and the strut


in your stride, their ability to meld different genres while retaining that distinctive pop feel is something the brothers have always prided themselves on. “We love classic things,” Ross enthuses of their influences. “Whether it’s classic music or classic fashion, it has an influence on us when we’re in the studio.” Meandering through nostalgia while retaining a sound that’s totally fresh is just one element of their charm. “I’d love to think of our music as classic,” Ross states, smile fond. “That’s honestly...” He trails off. “Maybe one day, you know?” Whatever sonic streets they venture down, what makes The Driver Era’s music so distinctly, well, Driver Era, is an innate ability to get people moving and grooving. “When we’re in the process of making music, we really try to make our songs concise and spunky,” Ross describes. “We really want to keep

your attention and keep you excited throughout the track.” How do they tell if it’s a job well done? By seeing if their songs make people dance, of course. Foot tapping, hip-shaking, body swaying, that’s how we roll. “I love to dance,” Ross grins, repeating himself with enthusiasm. “I think it’s so good for people and their souls. We’re totally set on making people move and groove, for sure.” And really, that’s what sits at the heart of it all: love. Be it for their bond and their collaboration, for the songs they create or for the fans they can’t wait to see when they tour (“it’s almost like seeing old friends – we’ve known these people for years and years now, and they keep showing up!”), love is the driving force in everything The Driver Era create. So it’s probably not a surprise to hear that emotion sitting front and centre on the new record (the album is called ‘Girlfriend’ after all).


“I think love and/ or attraction between people that like each other or love each other, that tends to be what spawns our creative juices the most,” Rocky contemplates, quickly disclaiming that his description applies to their music “so far.” “If you listen to everything we’ve done in the past...” he starts as Ross nods in agreement, “most music is about that.” “Music in general is about that.” “We pour a lot of love into anything that we make,” Ross affirms. “That’s the only reason it comes to be, or the only way it can come to be.” As the brothers ready to share ‘Girlfriend’ with the world, their hopes for the release are simple. “I hope people feel a reflection of that love, and it makes them feel loved too,” Ross expresses. It’s what draws them to the music they enjoy, making it something that’s naturally drawn out of them into the music they create. “I think good songs do this,” Rocky describes. “Sometimes you’re listening to them, and they kind of show you a little bit of yourself, or they reveal a little more of you as the listener, you know?” The want to feel connection, to feel as if a hand has reached out and taken yours, through art, is as universal as it is humbling. “If there’s a little bit of that, that comes along with listening to ‘Girlfriend’,” he continues, “I think that would be amazing.” Release day is still on the (near) horizon, and the brothers are already delving into creating the next thing. “Right now, we’re setting up maybe a week or two to go away and tie together some more songs,” Rocky enthuses. “Whether that’s an album, whether it’s five songs, whether we just hop out our bag and throw down 20 songs… Who knows?” As they discuss what steps to take next, the excitement in the air seems almost tangible, and the reason for that is simple – here and now, The Driver Era are at the top of their game. “We’ve got some songs that we really feel strong about, and we’ll just keep cranking it out,” Ross grins, while Rocky agrees, “never stop never stopping.” “I really feel like music is a lifelong companion for us,” Ross continues. “So, in one way or another, we’re just going to keep the pedal to the metal, keep cranking out guitar solos, and hopefully, people will want to listen.” P The Driver Era’s

album ‘Girlfriend’ is out now. 41.



amazing people who’s effortlessly multi-talented. So multi-talented that sometimes they don’t even realise it themselves. The French-Korean-American artist, also known as Claire, has packed a whole load of experience into their young life. She’s made music across the globe, worked with a load of different cool people, and has the magical skill to create perfectly poised alt-pop songs that hit you right in the sweet spot between blissful beauty and I-don’t-know-what’s-goingon-here-but-it-sounds-amazing. We’ll get to Claire’s rising status as a new-gen rising alt-pop star, but first, let Claire tell us about one of her many talents that she’s particularly enjoying right now. “I have been getting more and more into tattooing recently,” she explains from Paris, where she’s been working. “There’s just something about poking someone else’s skin with a needle. I made that way darker than I needed too,” she laughs. Oh yeah, she’s really funny too. That’s another talent. “It’s so far removed from music and really tactile, so it’s a great way to step away from the music medium,” she continues before describing her best tattoo creation so far. “I did a set of three different kinds of sushi on my friend’s thigh. There was a sushi trilogy going on!” Spill Tab has only been making music for a couple of years but has already made a huge impression with a string of viral earworms collated on 2020’s debut ‘Oatmilk’ EP. She comes from a big musical background, with her Algerian father playing jazz saxophone and her Korean mother playing piano and harp. After moving from Bangkok to Los Angeles at 8 months old, Claire began a lifelong immersion in music and creation, taking in a wide breadth of different cultures and experiences that have informed everything that goes into her music as Spill Tab. “The nature of the whole thing has been just the idea of trying something new,” she explains about her vision behind Spill Tab. “That continues to be the spirit that ties it all together. I always want to be entertained and not bored by the things I make.” As she started realising she could write songs and people might like them, the vision for Spill Tab grew ever more ambitious. “I definitely had it in mind from the start that I will become America’s number 1 top star,” she laughs. Maybe


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there’s a slight element of sarcasm in there, but maybe not. This could actually happen. There’s something beautifully relatable and resonant about Spill Tab’s music that connects across generations and cultures. “In the beginning, it was the idea of creating something that felt musically accessible but also accessible as a person,” she says. “I always want to come across as someone you can hang out and talk to and have a cool relationship with. I think it’s the idea of wanting to create a whole vibe that feels good where you and I can be friends.” In only a few months, Claire’s writing and artistry has made great bounds. “What’s cool about writing is you can get better at it if you do more of it, which is true of many things in life,” she says. “Since January, I’ve been doing music full time, and that’s given me access to writing more, not just for myself but for other people, which is something that I really love doing. In that regard, it’s been really beneficial to grow that skillset and understand what I like in other people’s writing more and trying to reverse engineer it into something I like as well but is more personal and intimate to me.” Her new EP is something special that meshes together all the creative impulses that make up the tapestry of Spill Tab’s sound. It almost came together by accident, though, as she explains. “It came about when I was writing on single songs, and by the fourth, fifth, sixth one, I was like, y’know what? This will sound good together. We can package them together in a nice little situation. I still haven’t wrapped my head around the idea of launching a project knowing that it’s going to be a project.” In comparison to ‘Oatmilk’, it’s a real step up. “This one has a bit more bite than the last one did,” she says. “It uses more distortion and is a little grittier. I’m getting more comfortable with songwriting.” The EP also features lots of cool guests. Guests who all share the same creative spirit as Claire in Jawny, Tommy Genesis and Gus Dapperton. “The fundamental project of Spill Tab has been built on collaboration starting with Marinelli [her long-time chief collaborator, David] and I,” she says. “That collaborative spirit is always part of it. It’s cool that I get to share for the first time songs with other artists that I’m a huge fan of. It’s been very fucking cool to send up a song to one of these artists and get something back and be ‘holy shit, this is really good’. To be able to go damn, we’re doing this together, and it’s sort of like a little baby, a little song baby that we made together.” Ah, what a lovely wholesome message. “I’m building a family, what can I say?” she laughs. Her grounding in travel and seeing the world fostered a real creative impulse in Claire that she brings to all her work. “The idea of experiencing so many different kinds of cultures and people has made me want to deeply want to continue to explore new places. It’s a hunger for wanting something new all the time,” she says of her restlessness. “I’ve never really settled in one place for a long time, both with my

own body but also my mind as well. I’ve lived in LA for three years now in the same house with the same people, so it makes me need to get out, move, and talk to new people, which is similar to how I always want to try new things in music.” Claire’s songs are very distinct, and she has a conceptual theory as to why this might be. “I just wanted to write songs that I myself wanted to listen to,” she explains. “Which I think is why they’re pretty short. I like the idea that instead of the length of a song being represented on the x-axis in terms of time, it’s represented on the Y. Instead of adding a new element to the last chorus, we’re going to add a new element to the first chorus. It’s the idea of building up on 1 minute 30 or 2 minutes where every time you listen to it, you can hear something new. In that way, the song can continue past those two minutes. It’s more vertical than it is horizontal.” That’s some deep thinking. Another talent for you. An amazing songwriter and a philosopher too. There have been a few special songs already in Spill Tab’s short career, but her new EP features the song that best encapsulates so far what she’s saying as Spill Tab. “I really like ‘Pistolwhip’ because it’s like one of these a-ha moments. It’s a really cool meshing of acoustic, organic sounds and an electronic sound, and I think, in general, that’s what I really like hearing. That was a really cool moment sonically.” It’s obviously very early in Spill Tab’s career, but there’s no harm in thinking about your legacy. “There’s this part of you that’s like it would be sick to produce for other people down the line. I’d like to have acquired those notches on my belt to help those people just starting out,” she says. “A part of me wants to continue in the music and entertainment world, but a part of me thinks it would be cool to be one of those artists that disappears off the grid and moves to Costa Rica or Spain to have a coffee farm and 18 cows. That would be kinda fly. Maybe I could do both. The locals in Spain will just know me as this crazy woman down the road that has all the farm animals in her house,” she laughs after spinning a typically imaginative tail. So, before she disappears off to Spain forever, we need to cherish Spill Tab while we can. She’s already smashed her debut London show and is about to go out on tour with Gus and Jawny. There’s one thing you won’t catch her doing on stage just yet, though. “I’m so deathly afraid of the idea of one day stage diving, but I’m not stagediving anytime soon,” she says. Maybe she has a bigger plan, though? “I’ll get into a harness so I can fly over above the audience,” she laughs. With the possible ability to take flight, Spill Tab can do it all. See, we told you she was talented. P Spill

Tab’s new EP is out later this year.


Spill Tab is rounding off 2021 with a new EP, featuring pals Jawny, Tommy Genesis and Gus Dapperton. Dream team. WORDS:

Martyn Young. 43.


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Moving on from the coming-of-age uncertainty of her debut, Snail Mail’s second album establishes her as a force to be reckoned with. WORDS:

Neive McCarthy. PHOTOGRAPHY: Tina Tyrell. 45.


T MIGHT BE THE SEASON of pumpkin spice and

grabbing your cosiest jumpers from the depths of your wardrobe, and you might still be mourning festival season, but we’re feeling romantic. Fortunately, you can do without the overpriced chocolates and bouquet of flowers – Snail Mail is back, and the ‘Valentine’ era has well and truly begun. It’s not your typical lovesick turn of events, though. It’s gutturally angsty and strikingly sure of itself. After releasing her debut album before she even turned eighteen, going off the grid was in order for Lindsey Jordan. Now she’s returned – rejuvenated, refreshed and ready to up the ante. It might present itself in muted pinks and cinematic sounds, but ‘Valentine’ harbours a much darker, more complex core. The coming-of-age arc found across ‘Lush’ has come and gone, and now Lindsey stands steadily in wait. “I remember everything being overwhelming in a way that it strangely isn’t now,” Lindsey reminisces. “I have a technique and feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less scared, but I’m scared on different terms.

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The record is really intimate, and the last one was too, but it wasn’t meant to be – it was just like, who cares? Now, I think it’s more intentional, and I think there’s a lot more truth to how scary it is putting something out that’s so close to home, that means more to me now.” That’s part of the charm when it comes to Snail Mail. Her tracks are a total punch to the gut, and that intensifies to an almost uncomfortable level on ‘Valentine’. Her version of a valentine is effectively slicing each track straight from the heart. “I don’t listen to anybody other than myself when I’m working on music. It takes that much longer for me to make songs where I’m like, yes, I’m crazy about this, this is awesome. People are always saying things in my ears, and I’m just like damn, I don’t care. I just have my own criteria, and it’s so strict, and that goes for the writing process too. I don’t really like to write unless it feels completely necessary and like I’m actually making something that matters to me. That’s cathartic – otherwise, just doing it to do it, I can’t even force myself.” In chasing the need for that magic, her process becomes incredibly insular. “In a way, I’m lucky. I think my whole team and everyone around me trust me a lot; nobody really bothers me,” Lindsey reflects. “I trust myself, and they trust me, so that helps me. It’s cool to be able to keep the process as natural as possible because that’s hard when other elements start coming in – you know like, people’s opinions, whether they be good or bad. I don’t even like to really see compliments because I don’t want to influence the original magic that was there the first time.” Every moment of ‘Valentine’ feels completely organic and untouched. The spill of emotion that first occurred when writing the song still flows into the finished tracks; it’s an unstoppable stream. Perhaps her meticulous process is responsible for making that all the more personal. Each track is electrifying in its ability to capture a vivid, specific feeling and effortlessly suspend a moment in time. “I feel very in touch with that feeling of knowing when things are good and when they’re done. I don’t necessarily think it’s a technique thing – it’s definitely more like everything is a magic thing. Anytime I ever finish a song, I’m always like, ‘oh my god! I really didn’t expect to do that again!’ One of the things I think about all the time and have since I was a child is that songwriting is a well and not a river. Everybody’s always like, no, no, it’s a river, it never dries up, but I have always felt like it dries up. Anytime I make something new, I never feel like I’ve gotten any further in creating a technique. I’m still always like, oh my god, okay, cool. It’s like something comes over me, and I’m just so glad something came over me – I don’t ever expect it to happen again. When doing it ten times, there’s a lot of songs in between that that don’t have the magic to me. They don’t make it onto the record. But whenever it does happen, I’m like, okay, cool, it’s back.” Every impenetrable rush of guitar or delicately healing vocals found on ‘Valentine’ is laced with that magic. It feels like a window into Lindsey’s world and the startling ups and downs that come as a part of that.

It tantalisingly bounds from heavy, high-pressure moments to gentle and tender, but the fervency with which each is delivered is always consistent. These are songs that had to come out. “It’s heavy to imagine playing them live because it was all such a moment. Even though it’s a period of time, every single one was a moment where I was in my room with my journal. I do think it’s like lightning in a bottle, when you’re feeling strong emotions. I don’t know how long I’m going to feel like that for. I’m so lucky to be overly sensitive, because I’m a songwriter. If I’m feeling something strongly, I’m like – write something. That time period was an emotional one, a lot of that was written during the pandemic, and a lot was going on.” That shimmering, epiphany-like manifestation of the tracks on ‘Valentine’ is palpable. ‘Light Blue’ is a devastating example: as Lindsey’s voice sounds increasingly choked up against peaceful fingerpicking, there’s an urgent resolution to the track. They seem to exist with all the immediacy they were first developed with, and it’s even more crippling because of it. “It was an insanely transformative time for me – I feel like I started it as not a child, but almost emotionally a child,” Lindsey remarks on the past year and a half. “I was on tour for like my entire young adulthood so far until the pandemic pretty much, and then a lot of that time period, up until now, it’s been about like learning to be a normal adult. A lot of that stuff doesn’t really come naturally. I have my days pretty planned out for me on tour, and a tour manager telling me what to do – a


time when I’m at soundtrack, a time for dinner, a time for this. I have skills that don’t really matter in the real world, and then being in the real world was hard. It was really hard. I was like damn, I am so behind a lot of people in my life – I don’t have a lot of these emotional skills, so it was growing pains on growing pains.” It’s a transition that is difficult for most people – adding the stress of a pandemic to that move from

adolescence to adulthood makes it all the more disorienting. But when your life before was constantly on the move, the adjustment to that newfound stillness is all the more jarring. For Lindsey, however, there’s more comfort to be found in that quotidian, everyday life that she has had the freedom to sink into over the last couple of years. “I spend a lot of time being a normal person – that’s like my bread and butter of

being alive. I’ve got my private life private now. I don’t even have Instagram; someone else does that. It’s been increasingly important for me to keep my stuff to me, and then I can give away a lot in the songs, and really give my arm and leg. Then at the same time, nobody knows what the fuck I’m up to – that’s cool, I love that! I’m a routine bitch, there’s a lot of stuff I have to do, and I spend a lot of time making sure I do those things; I play my Xbox a lot, I read a lot by myself, I see my friends a lot. Most of my friends are not entertainers, and it’s cool to keep my shit separate. It’s really important to me.” It’s interesting that to stay away from social media is to become somewhat enigmatic these days – undoubtedly, it is symptomatic of a year spent endlessly scrolling through Tiktok and deep-diving on Instagram. It works in Lindsey’s favour, though, and maybe it’s something we should be following suit with. “Having attention on [social media], a lot of it made me feel a little weird. I was feeling it on the outside when I was with my friends and stuff; I feel like I was just getting a little external validation,” Lindsey admits. “It’s given me such a different perspective, just paying a lot more attention. It’s just like a behaviour switch. I notice a lot more things, I feel a lot more present. I think ultimately it helps me with my work a lot.” It manifests in intricate detail and a refreshing clarity. ‘Ben Franklin’ is arguably Lindsey’s most haunting, sultry track yet, but it’s incredibly grounded. The similarly poppy ‘Madonna’ shares that self-awareness, too. It’s as though the peace and normality she has found in her day-to-day life have allowed to look at things through a completely different lens. It allows Lindsey to reach her sharpest point, lyrically. At times, like on ‘’, her mocking smile is almost audible. She never shies away from being completely scathing, and a lot of the magic she yearns to find in each track is rooted in the composure and assurance it takes to look at things so clearly. “All of it is for me. I just want to express myself,” Lindsey exhales. “There was an expression of angst [on ‘Lush’] that felt natural and real but having the platform plus the angst is weird. I’m more in touch with my songwriter feelings and feel less free than I did on ‘Lush’ in a way. I didn’t think that would be that successful. I really didn’t know, so it was low stakes.” On ‘Valentine’, the stakes might be higher, but she leans into that. It’s an opportunity to be bolder, more ambitious, more admonishing. Nothing is off-limits on ‘Valentine’, but Lindsey shines when she wears her heart on her sleeve. Looking back, ‘Lush’ was hazy, and misted over. It was the rose-tinted glasses of infatuation, when a crush is a crush in every sense of the word. ‘Valentine’ is something else entirely. It’s the quiet confidence of a long-term, steady love. Maybe it’s not the romance the album title suggests, but the love comes in the form of growth and commitment to yourself. It’s a new age of Snail Mail. Gone are the shrouds of cloud and blurred edges – the rose-tinted glasses are gone, and Lindsey Jordan is completely in focus. P Snail

Mail’s album ‘Valentine’ is out 5th November. 47.




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Having spent the past few years accruing fans like no one’s business, Dirty Hit signees BLACKSTARKIDS are making their opening statement.

Martyn Young. PHOTOGRAPHY: Jake Kelly.


than just a band. BLACKSTARKIDS are a family, an unshakeable bond between friends who are living their dream. Ty, Deiondre and The Babe Gabe represent a new generation of musicians who have a different set of inspirations, passions and obsessions, both old and new and are forging a path of how to make music in 2021 and have the time of your life while doing it. There’s no great philosophy at work here, there’s no grand plan; that’s not their style. BLACKSTARKIDS’ whole thing is built on the simplest and purest of premises. “I would say we’ve just been hanging out,” says Ty when asked to describe the journey they’ve been on since they announced themselves to the world with their first project, ‘Let’s Play Sports’ in 2019. The three friends always had a close relationship but as the band has developed, so has their friendship and bond. “We all met in high school,” explains Deiondre. “Ty had already been making music with me and Gabe separately at the time, but he just decided to bring us together and start making our first album in my bedroom. To this day, we’re making music in my bedroom. It’s our space now as we live together, so that’s dope as fuck.” “Yeah, I see them every day,” laughs Ty. “Even before this, I saw them every other day, but now I spend all my time with them.” From Deiondre’s bedroom to global indie success, the band are adapting to their newfound fame. “It feels crazy because we’re just normal people, but people see us as idols,” says Gabe. It’s easy to see why people are so inspired by the band. If you’re looking for a representation of music and culture and what it feels like to be young today and the whirlwind of emotions that goes with it, then you can’t go far wrong with their new album ‘Puppies Forever’, which encapsulates every aspect of the multi-genre rush of the BLACKSTARKIDS experience. “The vision of the band is just total expression,” says Ty confidently. “It’s us being ourselves and leaving a mark. I feel like with this album, we’re definitely expressing ourselves, and it’s a reflection of the moment we were in. It’s important to stay true to yourself.” The album is the culmination of a three-year rise for the trio. “I feel like we have a better understanding of who we are on each project,” continues Ty. “When we were doing ‘Let’s Play Sports’, I think we knew it was a cool idea. We have a really similar taste and everything. We like a lot of the same clothes, a lot of the same music, a lot of the same movies. We like a lot of the same stuff, so it made sense for us to be together. That connection was always there on

‘Let’s Play Sports’; you can see that when we did ‘Surf ’, we got more comfortable with each other and the sound. On ‘Whatever, Man’, we were consistently able to put together a vision of an idea we had and create a world. ‘Puppies, Forever’ is just like knowing who we are, feeling comfortable in it and just creating.” The breadth of sounds and styles on the record is striking. From straight-up power pop to dreamy synth excursions to frenetic punk to progressive hip-hop, the trio are unafraid to throw everything into the mix. “We always approach songwriting in the same way of expression and chasing ideas that we have,” says Ty. “Making the album was the pursuit of an idea, so each song is just further and further into the pursuit. It will always be that way.”


‘Puppies Forever’ finds the band exploring topics that resonate deeply with them, from very personal to songs that tackle societal issues like the furious album centrepiece ‘All Cops Are Bastards’. “That song is addressing a situation that we saw first hand and the whole country went through,” explains Ty. “We had first-hand experience of dealing with the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. That’s our reaction to that. Every song is tackling real-life situations and emotions that we’re going through.” In the post-pandemic world, we’ve seen an explosion of creativity from young artists all over the world who recognise that things have changed and the old ideals are crumbling down. We’re in the middle of a new golden age of technology-aided expression. “It’s always an exciting time to make music because there’s always people making fresh shit,” says Ty excitedly. “It keeps you on your toes and makes you want to get better at what you’re doing.” There’s a universal quality to BLACKSTARKIDS’ music that is supremely engaging. Their music resonates for many reasons, but one of the primary ones is the memories that they evoke. It’s a form of intoxicating nostalgia that isn’t in thrall to the past but rather inspired by childhood memories shaped into new current experiences. “That time in the 2000s when we were growing up, that was the first shit where we were like ah,

this shit’s cool. That’s why it spills out into the music,” says Ty about the period that their music most blissfully evokes. “A lot of the people who listen to us are maybe a couple of years younger or older, and they have a lot of the same interests and memories,” he continues. “Even for people who are older, it might not necessarily be a direct influence or something, but it takes it back to their version. When we talk about teen movies, we might be talking about Scott Pilgrim while someone older will be thinking about The Breakfast Club.” The trio proceed to chatter joyously and rattle off a number of their most cherished 2000s pop culture moments, including Diary Of A Wimpy Kid movies, “Mean Girls!,” shouts Gabe, Napoleon Dynamite and Project X. At the heart of the band is the relationship and dynamic between the three friends. Nurturing and cherishing relationships is a key theme throughout their music, from their earlier calling card single ‘Friendship’ to the new album’s ‘Pals’. “At a time like this for us at this time in our lives, we see each other every day more than we see our own families, so it’s like we’ve become a family to each other,” says Ty. “These are the people you have fun with but are also the people who can look out for you if you need help in any way. The type of friendship we have is purely love. It’s real love.” When asked what the best thing about being in BLACKSTARKIDS is, the three of them are all united in their answer. “It’s fun. It’s the people in it. These people are my brothers,” says Gabe. Oh, and the sangria nights, maybe that’s the second-best thing. “We love the sangria nights!” laughs Gabe. “With this album, we started drinking together a lot more,” adds Deiondre laughing. “Ty and Gabe would come on over to my house, and I would probably already be drunk or high. Every night.” “That was our Project X,” shouts Gabe excitedly. Perhaps the truly best thing about the band, though, is the joy they bring. There’s something distinctive about a BLACKSTARKIDS song. “It’s got to be bright,” exclaims Deiondre. “Yeah, sometimes people will be like, when will you guys do darker, sadder music? But I don’t really fuck with that. I like bright songs,” adds Ty. There’s definitely a lot for BLACKSTARKIDS to be excited about as they gear up to travel the world, playing shows again. Backed by Dirty Hit in the UK and repped by Matty and Beabaddobee (who they’re about to go on tour with), the trio are going places fast. Time flies when you’re having fun as one of the album’s standout track titles says. “That makes sense for us as friends and the group message,” says Deoindre happily. P BLACKSTARKIDS’

album ‘Puppies Forever’ is out now. 49.


WHAT DO THE SCORES MEAN? e Rubbish ee Not Great eee Fair eeee Good eeeee Amazing


Island Records

Out now.

eeeee Pop is about personality. That’s not to say it’s not also about great music, but when it comes to separating the very best from the rest, attitude is everything. Remi Wolf? She’s swimming in it. Generally, new artists will still be trying to establish who they are. The confidence of getting over those early bars might persuade them it’s okay to put more of themselves forwards. Open up creatively. Maybe even get a bit weird. With her debut album ‘Juno’, Remi is leaving nothing out. Sass, swagger and a choice bit of swearing, it’s not just her music that’s an absolute riot. Opening track ‘Liquor Store’ sets the scene perfectly. Bold, bright and brash, it throws around ‘motherfuckers’ like good cuss words are on buy one get two free. From the word go, Remi’s here for an infectiously good time. ‘wyd’ hip-shakes like a beachfront tango after a round of fruity cocktails, while ‘Guerrilla’ fizzes like popping candy. There’s no step off the gas, no boring pause for breath. It’s this always on neon-glare that sets Remi Wolf apart from her peers. Gen Z’s pop troupe is packed with potential future icons. They’re vocal, vibrant and unconcerned with putting it all on the table - but nobody else does it with quite the same panache. Even when sticking closer to the group - take ‘Volkiano’’s hi-fi pop middle section, for example - there’s still a twinkle in the eye that suggests it won’t be long until we’re back cursing like sailors and making anyone with earshot blush beetroot red. Like that friend that always makes everyone else feel great, Remi Wolf is the seretonin shot 2021 needed. The next greatest pop star on the planet has arrived. STEPHEN ACKROYD

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SUNSHINE STATE EP Chess Club Out: 29th October 2021

eeeee After traversing a world of moods on ‘Free To Live In Colour’, indie-pop superstar Pixey is back with another sublime EP offering, this time honing in on the bright optimism of summer. Pulsating beats and sharp riffs are squeezed through a retro filter that ingrains the six-track ’Sunshine State’ with a timeless draw. After the glittering intro of ‘Life In Stereo’, the stunning titletrack combines indie roots


LA LUZ eee Hardly Art Out: 22nd October 2021 Natives of Seattle, La Luz have spent the last eight years travelling back in time to bring us psychedelic surf rock straight out of the sixties that they mix with ghostly vocal harmonies and subtly complex producing. Their latest album brings a trove of mellowed out, swimmy tracks that harken back to a golden era for guitar music while resonating an innately modern tone and intimacy. Driven largely by rolling bass and iconically surfed out guitars, ‘La Luz’ has a staggering knack for toying with pace. ‘La Luz’ whips in and out of sunny, excitable tunes into sinister and imposing dirges. It’s an everevolving trip; the culmination of their history, and a promising sign for their future. CONNOR FENTON

with pop energies and even a hip-hop vibe, truly melding the best of all worlds. Vibrant elegance is carried across the entire record, truly capturing the mood of a world reopening and basking in some much-needed hope and healing. Honing in on peace and bliss on the second delightful offering in one hectic year, the scope of Pixey’s ambition never fails to dazzle.. FINLAY



GET ME TO A NUNNERY EP eeee Young Poet Out: 22nd October 2021 With ‘Get Me To A Nunnery’, Wooze effortlessly supersede expectations while remaining annoyingly nonchalant throughout. It’s like a tidal wave engulfing the backwash of old ‘new wave’ and figuratively surfing its resurgence into the twentyfirst century. As each song falls deeper into the vortex of 80s doom pop, banging and crashing on a multitude of synthesisers on their way down, the mood shifts while simultaneously upholding the band’s signature wonky pop undercurrent. With a sprinkling of heavier nuances than you’d usually expect from Wooze (‘Tu Es Moi’, ‘Mighty Cloud’, ‘Family Picture’), this crosscontamination of experimentation acts as a Petri dish, examining what the 80s would look like today. PHOEBE DE ANGELIS

I DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE eeee Atlantic Records Out: 29th October 2021 The War On Drugs have always held something special about them. Their shimmery way of offering up vocalist and guitarist Adam Granduciel’s poetic prowess has deftly enamoured over the last decade. Indeed, it’s been a while since we last heard from them - not since 2017’s ‘A Deeper Understanding’. In that time they’ve been working hard, hunkering down, and those shimmies are sounding shinier than ever. Even the albums title ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is a wonderfully over the top statement befitting its jewel-laden contents. A full blown effort of massive proportions, recorded at Probably Too Many studios (seven! SEVEN!), there’s a sense of wonder as they explore just where The War On Drugs can go. This time around they’re going hell for leather, and it pays off. So melodious it’s perhaps a tad indulgent, it’s great to have The War On Drugs back. Their untouchable sound is the kind that you don’t know you miss until it’s right in front of you,, and then you wonder how you ever lived without it. ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is more than a return to form, it’s a powerful and ambitious leap to the future. STEVEN LOFTIN


TV OR NOT TV eee Flush Records Out: 22nd October 2021 After gaining momentum a couple of years ago, and then essentially disappearing, LA’ers Liily’s re-emergence is on par with the quality we’d come to expect, but also pushes forward into newer boundaries with a fizzing and popping manic smile. The four-piece’s debut, ‘TV...’ is equal parts chaotic psychedelic post-punk and, well, rock’n’roll. The real beauty rears up within the band’s ability to let the noise subside before seamlessly turning into a brand new beast. Additionally, toying with the chaotic structures of jazz suits them, fracturing expectation, and carving out their own little niche. Sure, this doesn’t make it an immediately approachable album, it challenges rather than invites, but that’s all part of the fun. STEVEN



ACCESS DENIED Island Records Ray BLK has found the secret ingredient to making you feel like the baddest version of yourself, and she’s injected into every single beat of her long-awaited debut album.


Amyl & the Sniffers

Comfort To Me Rough Trade Each track is packed with enough energy to power a city and an insatiable lust for life that hums from the charmingly brash lyrics. .



STICKY eee International Death Cult Out now Four albums in with his infamous Rattlesnakes and Frank Carter shows no signs of slowing down. ‘Sticky’ is the sound of a man and his band loving life with some mates popping in. The visceral ‘My Town’ is the best IDLES track they’ve never written so it’s only appropriate that frontman Joe Talbot pops up. ‘Take It To The Brink’ is classic Rattlesnakes turned up to 11, and the Lynks featuring ‘Go Get A Tattoo’ is an ode to… well, you can probably guess. There’s nothing here particularly new, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it will likely work all the better live. Good thing lockdown’s over then, so these songs can breathe better on the stage. JOSH WILLIAMS

OUTSIDE OF THE BLUE eee Modern Sky Out: 5th November 2021 SPINN are following up their vibrant self-titled debut with second LP ‘Outside Of The Blue’. If you’ve heard any past work, you’ll already have an idea of what to expect; a bright, squirming soundscape stuffed with a signature indiepop appeal. ‘Stargazing’ is a well-balanced example, showing off bubbling riffs, delivering bittersweet lyricisms like, “when dreams come true, it isn’t always pretty”, while ‘People Should Know Better’ provides a dejected reflection on the world’s current state of affairs, achieving some catharsis, if not a bold call to arms. The real question here is: does this album breach the boundaries suggested by 2019’s introduction? The answer is a frugal no as the charming four-piece, for the most part, retread familiar steps. FINLAY HOLDEN

Baby Queen

The Yearbook Polydor Records Carefully staying clear of the ‘album’ word, yet still delivering a significant body of work that feels rammed to the rafters with certified bops - Baby Queen is only just getting started. .


Elektra/Parlophone Records Out now

Little Simz

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert AGE 101 From the opening fanfare, there’s a resounding sense that what you’re about to hear is incomprehensibly enormous.

Orla Gartland



Woman On The Internet New Friends It’s as though Orla Gartland has reached into your mind and grasped every anxious thought about whether you’re doing things right.

PinkPantheress only released her first song as recently as this January and she’s already established herself as one the UK’s brightest, buzziest new talents. A star in the making, she’s leading the charge for a new generation of artists creating amazing music on their own terms. Her debut mixtape ‘to hell with it’ is a perfect introduction to the intoxicating Pink Pantheress aesthetic. First gaining prominence on TiKTok, her songs are perfectlyformed intimate earworms aligned to deceptively simple yet supremely satisfying electronic beats and UK garage sounds. It’s a dynamic mix between

nostalgia and the very now, as best represented on her initial buzz-driving track ‘Pain’ which rides the backing track of Sweet Female Attitude’s classic ‘Flowers’ combined with a deft, effortless vocal until it all gets chopped and mashed up. The vibe is old school meshing with new school in sweet harmony. It’s unpolished and kind of rudimentary, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting. The best part of this EP isn’t just about how it sounds. Nor is it simply down to the quality of the songs. It’s the promise of what’s to come: something really very special indeed. MARTYN




GRANDMAS HOUSE EP eeee Brace Yourself Records Out now Trip through the woods to Grandma’s house, and be careful of the shadows. Coated with sticky sweet danger, the Bristol trio’s debut EP sizzles with all things wild and natural, blazing through the fivetrack run with elemental power. Lightning fast, three of the songs don’t even touch the two-minute mark; blink, and they’ll just be a ringing in your ears. From the high-street folklore of ‘Pasty’, to the politicised rage of ‘Golden’, the band create songs deeply rooted in the dual mundanity and extravagance of the world we live in, but framed in witchy, earthy sounds. A stand-out moment is the throaty desperation of ‘Feed Me’, which evokes something primordial in its image of the hungover woman laid bare. The EP feeds the violent frustrations of the past few years through a needlepoint with cutting precision, stitching their songs together with turbulent guitars and incisive lyricism. Pumped full of dangerous amounts of adrenaline, Grandmas House have proven themselves as ones to watch. EDIE MCQUEEN


NOTHING FEELS REAL EP eeeee Bleach Lab Out now There’s something about Bleach Lab. Their second EP, ‘Nothing Feels Real’, is run through with that sort of spectral, magical powder that first drew Wolf Alice to wider attention - a gut instinct that something truly special could be just around every corner. In terms of high compliments, it doesn’t come much better than that. Produced by the legendary Stephen Street, it’s no surprise there’s a touch of The Cranberries to opener ‘Real Thing’, either - Jenna Kyle’s vocal gliding across the emotional spectrum, never losing the warmth that draws the listener in. Musically deft of touch, ‘Inside My Mind’ manages to covey both the weight of thoughts and a soothing, reassuring tone in the same four-minutes, while ‘Talk It Out’ may well be one of the more subtle earworms of 2021 so far. While so many new acts go for the big and bombastic to grab the attention, Bleach Lab’s approach is far more effective. An EP that doesn’t just impress, but stops you dead in your tracks. Stunning. STEPHEN



PUPPIES FOREVER eeee Dirty Hit Out now We’ve known for a while that this band are something special. Through a number of their previous projects, the trio have shown how they can pretty much do it all. From power pop to fizzing punk thrashes, to dreamy shoegaze to amped up hip-hop, the BLACKSTARKIDS sound is genre fluid, agile and dynamic. ‘Puppies Forever’ is their latest album and it contains everything you love about the band packed into one glorious collection. The pop songs here like the endearing daydreaming of ‘SO SWEET!’ or the widescreen ‘PALS’ are bigger than ever. This is the band presenting their best form on every level, supremely confident and effortlessly natural. There’s also a little more steel on show as they take on bigger themes like the bristling anger of ‘All Cops Are Bastards’. BLACKSTARKIDS’ sound is built around evoking strong feelings, whether that’s nostalgia for simpler times or the importance of cherishing your friendships and the things you love, and they’re front in centre in defining a new era of artists representing what it means to be young. MARTYN YOUNG


There once was a time where everyone had to be one thing or another. Pick a creative endeavour and, unless you’re a supreme talent like David Bowie or Shane Richie (ask your parents - Ed), you stick in your lane. Thankfully, that kind of nonsense is long gone. Today’s pop scene is blessed with all kinds of polymaths, able to extend their abilities across art, acting, music or whatever else takes their fancy. And Ross Lynch - alongside his brother Rocky - does it well. Cynics might see The Driver Era as ‘not a real band’, simply because there’s a bit of star power involved - but ‘Girlfriend’ belies this. A textured, smart modern pop rock record, it’s an album that understands the brief. ‘Leave Me Feeling Confident’ drips with self assured swagger, while ‘OMG Plz Don’t Come Around’ adds a bit of angular spice - at times coming across like a woozy, sleazier sibling of The 1975’s ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’. Though at times it might be a little slick for its own good, The Driver Era remain firmly heading in the right direction. STEPHEN ACKROYD


SYMPATHY FOR LIFE eeee Rough Trade Out: 22nd October 2021 In the absence of clubs, 2020 saw plenty of albums dedicated to our shrines to hedonism. Full of floor-stomping bangers designed to replicate being shoulder to shoulder with strangers. But in your front room. Parquet Courts seem to have been inspired by this club-less existence too with ‘Sympathy For Life’. Their groove-driven, sweat-covered seventh album dials up the floor-filling attitude we saw on ‘Wide Awake!’ and then some, drawing from ‘Screamadelica’ to the likes of Talking Heads’ art-rock sensibilities. This doesn’t mean their propulsive, rough energy has fallen by the wayside in favour of dubby basslines and wobbly synths. If anything, it elevates the outrage and neuroses that rings through, as though trying to remove themselves from the ills of the world yet still crushed by them. ‘Sympathy For Life’ is as spontaneous and sharptongued as you might expect from Parquet Courts, and they continue to cartwheel off in whatever direction feels most fun. A creatively restless band who know how to transform absurdism into something pulsatingly alive. CHRIS



REINCARNATE EP eeee Music For Nations Out now From the thick depths of the bubbling fury that’s sitting below us all at the moment, Manchester’s Witch Fever are emerging, ready to properly kick some bins over. Amidst the thrashing of drums, gritted teeth distortion and ludicrously thick bass comes their doom-laden, ferocious war cry. To say they’re a bit pissed off is an understatement. Wielding shrieking guitars around pointed attacks and empowerment, nothing’s felt this arresting in a while, which is good since Witch Fever appear determined to take over. Having only released a handful of singles over the last few years, the momentum is building, much like their rollickingly vicious tunes. Vocalist Amy Walpole’s control from delivering a succinct message to howling at the moon is the arrow, but the studious barrage from drummer Annabel Joyce, bassist Alex Thompson, and guitarist Alisha Yarwood is the mighty bow. With bands like Witch Fever toting such ample ferocity, the future should be cleaned up in no time. STEVEN LOFTIN



PRIORITISE PLEASURE Fiction Out: 22nd October 2021

eeeee Self Esteem’s second album ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ is one of those those special records that’s importance and legacy will be felt for years to come, both for its creator Rebecca Lucy Taylor and the growing band of people she has been inspiring with her brand of deeply emotionally and physically resonant progressive pop. Rebecca’s debut album as Self Esteem, 2019’s ‘Compliments Please, established her decisively breaking down the constraints and perceptions of her previous music career in Slow Club, becoming an actual pop star in her own right but ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ takes everything to the next level. It’s a staggering step up. You can hear the development clearly on tracks like the heart stopping lead single “I Do This All The Time” and the coursing rage that powers ‘How Can I Help You’. This is an album that rides waves of emotions. Rebecca is angry but she’s also hopeful,

52. DORK

playful, inspiring and, at times, despairing as she documents what it’s like being a woman, not just in the music industry but in life in general and the injustices and struggles she has to face on a daily basis. She does it with grace, passion and typically laugh out loud humour. No one tackles big themes and issues quite like Self Esteem. No compromises. No boundaries. No stepping back and no fucks given. She also has bangers. Lots of them. Like the killer future R&B pop jam of ‘Moody’ or the soaring immersive tapestry of sounds of ‘Hobbies 2”. Everything on this record hits hard. From the inventive sonics to Rebecca’s clever and dynamic use of her striking voice and vocal phrasings to the incredibly powerful lyrics that document her experiences in a deeply human way. This is a real body of work and stands as Self Esteem’s first masterpiece. MARTYN YOUNG

QUEENSWAY TUNNEL eee Planet Z Records Out: 12th November 2021 It’s finally here! Zuzu’s long-awaited debut album has flown in from Planet Z. Still chock-full of her sing-along anthems, head boppingly grand tunes, and charmingly Scouse inflexions, expanding her arsenal to a brand new set of ten tracks is a chance for her to properly spread her wings. The bops are boppy, there are lessons to be learned (‘Never Again’) but there’s a certain sparkle that feels missing. Last year’s ‘How It Feels’ EP, was laden with a tangible wink, following irresistibly catchy tunes. That doesn’t detract from the overall joy that Zuzu brings. It feels like sitting down with a mate (who’s very good at writing songs) and the honest tea being spilt. It’s filled with growing pains, and Zuzu genuinely sounds like she’s reaching for an ambitious point even beyond ‘Queensway Tunnel’. It’s heartwarming and sincere. These are songs that will be there when you need them to be but rarely offer a celebration. Points for the cat purring intros throughout, though. STEVEN





Molly Payton is what we like to refer to as ‘a talent’, Dear Reader. Blessed with a glorious panache for emotive, heart-wrenching brilliance, she’s just dropped her brand new mini-album, ‘Slack’ – so we asked her to tell us all about it in her own words.


Honey is about that moment in a relationship where things stop working as well as they’re supposed to. This song was me taking responsibility for my part in the decay of it all, acknowledging that I’d been distant and that I’d try harder to make things work. There’s also an undercurrent of frustration with myself for letting my past interfere with my present. It kind of the beginning of the end, and sets up the rest of the album which goes more into the idea of growth out of loss and self reflection.

When Skies Were Always Blue


The Orchard Out now

eeee There’s something honest about the music of Molly Payton. At a time where much of the music thrust at us by algorithms and playlist feels deliberately designed to never hit the sides as it slides by, from opening track ‘Honey’ her mini-album ‘Slack’ grabs hold in a very real way. The New Zealand born, London based singer may have smoothed off a few of the edges from her 2020 EP ‘Porcupine’, but not so many she loses the charm that makes her shine. Her vocal - often warm, sometimes breaking, occasionally haunting - is perhaps her greatest strength, shown perfectly on the creeping ‘How Things Change’. It’s not all raw, though - ‘January Summers’ in particular isn’t afraid of letting rip. A selfaware record crafted during a prolonged period back in the town she’d only just escaped thanks to a worldwide pandemic, it’s both unmistakably Molly Payton, but also so much more. STEPHEN ACKROYD

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I wrote this one with Jimmy Hogarth and Benjamin Francis Leftwich, alongside honey and January summers. It was a really emotional one to write, I confronted a lot writing it and initially intended to end the minialbum with it but later decided it fit more at the beginning. I lost someone who was a huge part of my life and began to confront years of trauma, and then went through a breakup. Emotions were running high so I basically sat down and wrote this track about realising how much your past can influence your relationships and decisions, and learning how to cope with change when you aren’t ready for it

You Cut Me So Much Slack

This song was originally meant to be on my second EP Porcupine, so it’s funny that it’s ended up almost as the title track of Slack. I think that’s partly because it works as a bridge between the two bodies of work, but also because it’s meaning has changed over time for me. Initially it was this almost desperate plea to be taken back, but looking back it kind of perfectly describes my anxiety and how it used to affect my relationships; not being able to express your feelings to someone, that feeling that you’ll never be good enough and that everything is on you. To be honest listening to the song now I wish I’d cut myself some

slack more than anything. This is the kind of thing you learn from losing someone and as you grow up and figure yourself out.

In Your Arms & How Things Change These two songs kind of sit in the same world for me, when you feel like you’re stuck on someone or something and cant move forward and the efforts you take to get out of that place. How things change is the most stripped back moment of the album, it was written and recorded in about three hours and hasn’t really been touched since then. I think that makes it feel very honest and probably more emotional because there isn’t anything to distract from the emotion behind it.

January Summers

I wrote January summers near the end of last year when I was missing New Zealand and all of the people id been close with before I moved to the UK. I was initially just wanting to write this joyous ode to being 15/16 and doing everything for the first time. Going to your first party, the first time you hear your favourite song, the first time you tell someone you have feelings for them and so on. Even musically I pulled influence from bands that my big brother used to play when he was driving me places at that age, like the really messy surf rock guitars and simple happy melodies. But it ended up also being about how complicated everything becomes the older you get – How I miss the joy and anticipation that came with the lack of direction I had when I was younger.

Like a Child

This song is probably the oldest one on Slack, I wrote it a few years ago with the Aquilo boys. I think that line “i let myself feel things like a child” is what made me want to include it in this project. Thinking about how much less you let yourself feel after going through a couple bad relationships and just experiencing the give and takes that come with living, It was such a beautiful idea to me. To just let go and love somebody for a second without thinking of the consequences.

While You’re Driving

This is my favourite track on the album. I really wanted to end Slack with optimism, and I really thought about that when I was writing and recording this song. It’s simple and messy and full of energy and excitement for the future. P


LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? eeee Atlantic Records Out: 22nd October 2021 When summer fades out of view, it’s easy for any ounce of optimism to fade away with it. Luckily, Honne have the soundtrack to get you through as the months grow colder. The duo have always been masters at capturing that sunny outlook, but on ‘LET’S JUST SAY THE WORLD ENDED A WEEK FROM NOW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?’ they provide the sonic equivalent of the crisp autumn sun on your face. It’s enough to inspire a relentless supply of hope, regardless of how cold the coming months become. The hopeless romanticism they’re oft known for saturates the album in full. That side of them is on full view, and their starry-eyed magnetism provides a lens through which to see their album. This is the most larger than life, ludicrously happy version of Honne we’ve seen so far. One thing’s clear – if the world did end a week from now, Honne would want you to dance your way out, brimming with love. NEIVE

FINNEAS Optimist

Polydor Records Out now

eeee Most artists would struggle with a celebrity-obsessed world constantly casting them in the shadow of a more famous sibling. Working with little sis Billie Eilish, FINNEAS can already lay claim to having changed the musical landscape - but there’s little doubt that, no matter how smart and significant his contributions have been, the star power to date lies elsewhere. And honestly, that’s okay. With a steady string of music put out in the build-up to debut album ‘Optimist’, it almost feels like he’s appreciated the ability to refine his own identity. And find it he has. There’s something undeniably selfassured about FINNEAS’ music. This isn’t just the dark, primal zeitgeisty pop production with which he made his name with a different vocal over the top. It’s something altogether different. ‘Happy Now’ swoons with a certain swagger, immediate but timeless. ‘The 90s’ yearns for a life ‘without the internet’ through the


THE NEARER THE FOUNTAIN, MORE PURE THE STREAM FLOWS eee Transgressive Records Out: 12th November 2021 Iceland has been good for Damon Albarn. A constant inspiration and a safe retreat at times, it’s surprising that it’s taken him this long to base a record around the ethereal country. ‘The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows’ carries a suitably quiet iciness, along with an overriding sense of calm that moves at a glacial pace. Far from the pure pop nonsense of his two Quite Big Bands, this is a cerebral, meditative piece of work - the vague nature of many of the lyrics giving a clue as to the original plan of it being purely instrumental. Choruses were left at the airport seemingly. In its place, the quiet thoughts of a man beginning to see the end of middle-age creeping up on the horizon, seeing time march on in ways that didn’t seem plausible once upon a time. Much of the record feels like late-era David Bowie, Damon’s voice carrying a fragility amidst off-kilter tones and a meandering form of lyrical poetry. It’s the work of an artist who has always had many different faces, deliberately choosing to go down a low-key road. JAMIE MACMILLAN

kind of glitching, pulsing soundscape that recalls an especially tuneful dial-up modem, while ‘The Kids Are All Dying’ isn’t afraid to muse on the demands for anyone with a platform to constantly make a stand in a politically polarised, activist world on fire. At times, ‘Optimist’ is a beautifully delicate record - ‘Love Is Pain’ twinkles like starlight, dealing in regrets and insecurity with the lightest of touches. At others, it’s strident, the dramatic punch of ‘Medieval’ confronting the fleeting nature of popularity head-on. Few artists release a debut album with the kind of expectations FINNEAS finds himself under - all too aware of the comparisons that will be made. It’s to his credit that ‘Optimist’ pays heed to absolutely none of them. Making his own music in his own undeniable way, there’s no need to scream look at me to hold the attention. Confident in who he wants to be, FINNEAS is his own man. STEPHEN ACKROYD



VALENTINE eeee Matador Records Out: 5th November 2021 Following up your critically acclaimed debut, one written at the age of 17 mind you, has to be a daunting task. In the throes of growing and learning, just how do you go about starting up again? Well, in the case of Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan, you throw everything you’ve got at it. From ‘that’ rapturously massive chorus of the titular track to the heartachingly sombre piano drops of ‘Light Blue’, Snail Mail is kicking things up a gear with ‘Valentine’. Ladling the melody on thick and fast, knowing when to let the groove nod and slink its way into your heart, this is pop music with a deft alt-rock edge and Lindsey’s proving she’s more than a master of it. Channelling those growing, loving, losing and learning vibes that so truncate leaving your teens and entering your twenties, it’s refreshing to hear it done with such vibrancy. With the world focused on so much of the wider nitty-gritty, the granular reality of ‘us’ gets forgotten. We need more songs about dealing with the everyday love and loss, and that’s what makes Snail Mail shine. STEVEN LOFTIN



THINGS TAKE TIME, TAKE TIME Marathon Artists Out: 12th November 2021

eeee To call ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ purely a lockdown album would be reductive, but last year’s isolation-induced contemplation is heavy on the third LP from Courtney Barnett. Has any song captured those strange first months better than plodding opener/first single ‘Rae Street’? “All eyes on the pavement”, she scene sets before casually brushing off the apocalypse in her typically unfazed Aussie drawl: “I’m not gonna touch ya / Don’t worry so much about it”. From an artist whose razor wit is usually

the focal point, ‘Things Take Time...’ is striking in its tenderness. The record isn’t all frownies, though; her laugh-out-loud sense of humour bowls in at the midway mark: “Don’t stick that knife in the toaster / Baby life is like a rollercoaster”, she matterof-factly proclaims on the joyful and wacky ‘Take It Day By Day’. Courtney has always been a master storyteller and, while this album sounds smaller than its predecessor, the pictures she paints on it are more refined and easier to get lost in than ever. ALEX CABRE

FRIENDS THAT BREAK YOUR HEART eeee Polydor Records Out now You can’t help but feel that James Blake is - despite what the title of his fifth album suggests in a good place. Or if not good, at least a one comfortable enough to pick at his own emotional scabs, sure enough to let his creativity lead itself to a destination without selfediting to the point of censorship. ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’ is the kind of album that wears its heart on its sleeve, dealing with the awkward dynamics of modern life, broken platonic relationships and awkward, undefined endings that hang in the air without resolution. Sure, the selfdoubt remains - internal monologues constantly questioning - but the fact they’re committed to record suggests there’s also hope too, like Blake’s previous work bled together to form a whole new pallet. Approachable and yet introspective, beautiful but occasionally broken, ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’ might well be Blake’s best - or at least most identifiable - work to date. DAN HARRISON


THE MYTH OF THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER eeee Warner Music UK Out: 22nd October 2021 Digging deep into their creative wells, Scotland’s finest rockers are quickly returning with a proclaimed “reaction” to last year’s ‘A Celebration of Endings’. Certainly, you can hear the sprouting off points. There’s no fuss, and certainly no muss as they dodge and dart around some of their most melodic and tauntingly mid-00s sounds. Harking back to ‘Puzzle’-era ambitions while, as promised, balancing the future firmly in the palms of their hands, the Biff sound like a band ready to explode. It feels like they’ve been pent up. Delivering some of their most thick and delicious choruses (‘Hunger In Your Haunt’, ‘Denier’) while also packing in some of their Biff weirdness (‘Witch’s Cup’) toting horns ’n’ all, their trademark frenzied rock epics (‘Unknown Male 01’, ‘Slurpy Slurpy Sleep Sleep’), and even a little acoustic ditty (‘Holy Water’) it’s a proper feast. Truly, no one can do what Biffy Clyro are doing. The moment you hit play, you know you’re going down their rabbit hole once more. STEVEN LOFTIN 55.




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f this was the last song you ever heard, what would you do,” Oli Sykes asks before ‘Throne’, the glitching, apocalyptic anthem that’s played towards the end of Bring Me The Horizons’ headline set at London’s O2 Arena. Their music has always leant more towards destruction than salvation, from 2008s breakout second album ‘Suicide Season’ to the forward-thinking pop-metal of 2019’s ‘Amo’. Last year’s mini-album ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ was written, recorded and released during a global pandemic. Unsurprisingly, it is obsessed with the end of the world. Tonight though, Bring Me The Horizon do everything to make sure that, if this was their last time on stage, they’d be going out at the peak of their power. From the opening, streamer-strewn explosion of ‘Teardrops’ through the snarling ‘The House of Wolves’ to a stripped-down, piano rendition of ‘Follow You’, the band are on ferocious form. Since Bring Me The Horizon first played this venue back in 2016, Sykes has been criticised for his live vocals, but tonight every guttural scream and polished pop chorus is flawless. Past shows have also seen him a ringleader of chaos – demanding mosh pits and crowd surfers for every song - but his instructions take a back seat tonight. The crowd

is still a swirling mass of physical energy that doesn’t stop moving for the duration of the 90-minute set, but Sykes is happy to let them do things their own way. For the most part, anyway. It gives the whole set a sense of playful confidence. Sure, ‘Medicine’ is about cutting out toxic people from your life and ‘Drown’ explores depression but tonight is about having as much fun as possible. As they sing on ‘Parasite Eve’, “we cannot save you. Enjoy the ride”. The stage setup is just as ambitious. Some aspects take influence from the likes of Twenty One Pilots, Nine Inch Nails and The 1975, while others are completely revolutionary. Bring Me The Horizon are the first band to do an arenasized optical illusion that literally changes how you’re viewing the performance, while ‘Dear Diary’ is part arcade shooter, part Fright Night immersive experience. There aren’t many bands who can battle animated zombies, and it not seem stupid. The soundtrack is just as forward-thinking. The updated 00’s alt-rock of ‘Die4U’ has been described by the band as Future Emo, and lyrically it’s perhaps the most romantic they’ve ever been. ‘Kingslayer’ sees BMTH continuing The Prodigy’s legacy of mashing rave and rock together, while the snarling ‘Obey’ is a politically charged rager, perfect for 2021. When Yungblud walks out to perform it alongside BMTH, the crowd loses the last of their minds. If you wanted proof

of BMTH’s legacy of evolution, though, you only had to turn up early. Doors have barely opened when Nova Twins take to the stage, but they quickly turn the O2 into their own personal playpark. Their juddering, riff-driven music walks the fine line between metal and pop without compromising on either, and it sounds incredible in rooms of this size. When they bound onto the stage later in the night to perform ‘1x1’ with BMTH, they bring an energy that isn’t felt at any other point in the night. Likewise, fellow Myspace-survivors You Me At Six might be seven albums deep into their career and have never dipped below Reading Festival Main Stage act, but experimental new album ‘Suckapunch’ is by far their best. A hectic marriage of brit rock, EDM and electro-pop, it sees the band rejuvenated. It wouldn’t have been possible without Bring Me The Horizon. It’s hard to call BMTH the best metal band in Britain when so much of what they do pushes things forward across all genres. Tonight is an awe-inspiring showcase of the future of music. The end? Bring Me The Horizon are just getting started. P SETLIST Teardrops MANTRA The House of Wolves Medicine Happy Song Ludens Dear Diary Parasite Eve Shadow Moses Wonderful Life 1×1 (with Nova Twins) DiE4u Kingslayer Follow You Drown Obey (with YUNGBLUD) Throne Can You Feel My Heart 57.


NO GIMMICKS, NO BULLSHIT – IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO RESIST BEABADOOBEE O2 Forum Kentish Town, London. 23rd September 2021 WORDS: Jamie Muir.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Patrick Gunning.

here are times with artists that you just know. Know that they’re destined to be playing far bigger venues than the tiny spots you first see them. Know they’re going to mean a lot to a lot of people. Know that the biggest and boldest version of themselves is only going to come in time. It wasn’t a matter of if things would become massive for Beabadoobee; it was always a case of when. Now in front of us, it’s nothing short of game-changing. Over the space of the past two years, Bea has firmly laid claim to being a vital voice for a new generation of alternative fans. An artist with the ability to capture that uncertainty that comes with discovering who you are in an ever-changing and complicated world. It’s something we saw played across intimate, sweaty club shows and arena-sized support slots in equal measure – thousands queuing to catch a glimpse of one of their own done good. That importance can be seen across Kentish Town Forum tonight, fans suitably in awe as Beabadoobee whips through the sort of emphatic set we knew was sitting in the chamber, ready to pop. ‘Fake It Flowers’ in a live setting shows the multiple sides of Bea – that explosive evolution from raw bedroom songwriter to something altogether more potent. As she put it herself, it’s a debut album ‘for girls to cry to and dance to and get angry to’. All of that and more takes over the Forum tonight, turning the venue into a sort of teen-movie disco. An opening run through ‘Sun More Often’ and ‘Care’ immediately has the room pawing at every move. Assured and perfectly in control, ‘Dye It Red’, ‘Together’ and ‘Worth It’ are met with a scrum to get into the mix of things – a wanted list for that collective sense of togetherness. Whilst commanding the stage like the leader of the toughest gang in town, Bea is ultimately every single person here. The sounds booming through her headphones as she navigated the streets of Camden but a few years ago are now tracks for another generation to plug into whilst they navigate the same confusion, fears and questions that come with growing up. ‘Disappear’ is effecting with its swaying hands, while ‘Sorry’ and its unravelling breakdown of angst and regret hits like a sledgehammer. Beabadoobee allows every person in the room to feel free to shout out every twist in

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that this is everyone’s moment. their stomach, empowered and ready to take Whilst ‘Fake It Flowers’ forms the on the world. spine of tonight’s huge headline moment, It’s shown in the overflowing delight of it’s recent cuts ‘Last Day On Earth’ ‘She Plays Bass’. When things are stripped and ‘Cologne’ that tease at something down on early cuts like ‘Tired’ and the altogether more exciting. mammoth ‘Coffee’, it This is a set from an artist practically drowns Bea out SETLIST only just getting started. with an in-the-moment Sun More Often Beabadoobee tonight is rawness. Everyone is Care a force unto her own – a welcome in this world Dye It Red perfect snapshot of a of Beabadoobee – the Together generation about to rip thrills and wide-eyed Disappear apart the rulebook and do showbiz all thrown to Sorry things better. No gimmicks, the curb for something She Plays Bass no bullshit – it’s impossible altogether more real. It’s Yoshimi, Forest, to resist. P an undeniable feeling, Magdalene Tired Worth It Last Day on Earth: Coffee Cologne


A TRIUMPHANT BLOSSOMS PROVE THEY’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES O2 Forum Kentish Town, London. 15th September 2021 WORDS: Jamie Muir.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Patrick Gunning.


Cuts like ‘If You Think This Is Real f any band has quietly gone Life’, ‘Sunday Was A Friend Of Mine’ about becoming a bloody big and ‘Falling For Someone’ are met deal, it’s Blossoms. with bouncing bodies and drowned Ever since the tidal wave of out singalongs just as much as hype that came with their debut ‘Getaway’ and ‘At Most A Miss’. It’s album – the rapturous festival fields a musical jukebox that feels like an and the countless accolades – their extension of the party, one of those position at the top tier of indie’s elite hasn’t been shoved down your throat moments that makes you forget everything that came before in the but collectively celebrated. They’re best possible way. the beloved lads who you’re likely What takes them to other leagues to bump into at the pub, trading stories and laughing in the face of the is their unabashed love and prowess at golden era pop. If world, and it’s that the pre-show playlist connection that of Girls Aloud and has made them a SETLIST ‘Sweet Caroline’ force. Backed with Your Girlfriend didn’t give it away, a rich and evolving There’s a Reason Why their bubbling mix catalogue that has (I Never Returned Your of classic influences built over three Calls) is nothing but ‘blossoming’ studio I Can’t Stand It euphoric. By the time albums (sorry – Getaway Tom stands alone on Ed), their return My Swimming Brain stage for an acoustic to the live stage The Keeper interlude, the crowd may be the perfect Honey Sweet are putty in his embodiment of all Cut Me and I’ll Bleed hands. ‘My Favourite the emotions of Blown Rose Room’ segues into being back in the Sunday Was a Friend versions of ‘You’re sweaty halls and of Mine Gorgeous’ and ‘Half grand stages. If You Think This Is Real The World Away’ Nearly 18 Life – the latter seeing months on from Falling for Someone him play one note on previous fullBlow the second chorus length ‘Foolish Like Gravity before walking off Loving Spaces’, a My Favourite Room to leave a packed night that would Care For Forum billowing the have been a Oh No (I Think I’m in rest of the words in celebration of that Love) appreciation. album has now At Most a Kiss A costume become a much Charlemagne change and a bigger statement. bountiful version It shows from the of latest single very first note. ‘Care For’ writes their future out ‘Your Girlfriend’ followed by the in mesmerising lights. Delightfully one-two punch of ‘There’s a Reason sweet, its vintage tinge points to how Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ Blossoms were always more Beatles and ‘I Can’t Stand It’ sets the tone. or ABBA than any early comparisons Tom Ogden, embracing that role as to Arctic Monkeys. As ‘Charlemagne’ a master of ceremonies, struts and rings out to a deafening response, commands in a way that would have it’s clear that they sit in a league of seemed an outlandish request but their own. a few years ago. Tonight he leads Tonight is a confirmation that Stockport’s finest through a thrilling Blossoms – in their own way – might set that refuses to relent. Favourites such as ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘Cut Me And already be one of the defining bands of this era. Taking what came before I’ll Bleed’ are given new leases of life and moulding it into something new – as if they’ve been waiting for this – don’t ask when the takeover is moment. It feels like a grand master coming; it’s already here. P plan, only now coming to fruition. 59.


here was never any doubt, was there? From the moment Inhaler touched down, it felt pretty much guaranteed. Not only packing the sort of hit-rate that would make most bands green with envy, but with the personality and swagger of a unit destined to play on the biggest of nights - their rise as the cream of the metaphorical pint of trailblazing faves was never in question. It’s what makes their turn at Kentish Town Forum even more impressive not only in its overflowing brilliance but also in its promise of even grander stages to come. If tonight was the coronation of a band thriving, then Inhaler took that crown, threw it to the side and said, ‘we’re only getting started’. ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’ is the kind of album that guitar music in 2021 was crying out for. Bold in its ambition, immediate in its hooks and searing in its urgency - it was made for shows like these. Of thousands brought together in one space, casting aside their fears and worries at the door, throwing their arms out wide and belting the anthems in all their glory. The result is a night that leaves an added spring in the step the next day. Lord knows we need that. It’s captured effortlessly by openers Wet Leg. Two songs out, and already a bonafide headliner in the making. Playful, beaming but assured, they rip through the sort of catalogue that in 12 months should see them headlining the very venue they’re currently in. ‘Wet Dream’ and ‘Chaise Longue’ revel in their surroundings while the rest of their set moves between people on shoulders, singalongs and punchy punk bites - a glimpse at a future impossible to resist. If there were any doubts there might not be more in the locker, banish them now. Your new favourite band have truly put the

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world on notice. See you here in 12 months, down the front. From the moment Inhaler open with ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’, it’s like a World Cup final. Tracks like ‘We Have To Move On’ and ‘Falling In’ have become peerless fan favourites, ready to explode at each turn, while ‘When It Breaks’ and ‘In My Sleep’ practically tear at the walls that keep the Forum standing, contrasting with the gleaming ‘Totally’, ‘Slide Out The Window’ and ‘My King Will Be Kind’. It’s a dynamic perfectly captured in ‘Who’s Your Money On (Plastic House)’, which segues between rollicking indie banger and delicate and introspective realism at the drop of a dime. Eli Hewson, fully embracing that role as a frontman with the venue in the palm of his hand, is a feverish magnet to all. At times leading a singalong, at others leading the charge - he’s indisputable. The scorching run of ‘Cheer Up Baby’ and closer ‘My Honest Face’ seals it. It’s a treat to catch them at this moment, in this venue, before things get even bigger. An Irish flag thrown on stage at the end of a blistering 70 minutes, draped with ‘Inhaler World Domination’, says it all. It’s not that the world is waiting for Inhaler’s next step. It’s just starting to catching up. P SETLIST It Won’t Always Be Like This We Have to Move On Falling In Slide Out the Window Ice Cream Sundae When It Breaks A Night on the Floor Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House) My King Will Be Kind Totally In My Sleep Cheer Up Baby My Honest Face


INHALER AND WET LEG GO FOR WORLD DOMINATION O2 Forum Kentish Town, London 6th October 2021 WORDS: Jamie Muir. PHOTOGRAPHY: Patring Gunning. 61.


Yungblud smashed London’s Alexandra Palace Yungblud isn’t known for doing anything quietly. That’s why it should be no shock to anyone that he absolutely stormed his headline set at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace. Never one for an understated show, it was an all action affair for our Dom. PHOTO: Frances Beach.

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Eventim Apollo, London, 27th September 2021

Dodie is a bit of a legend, isn’t she, Dear Reader? Yes. She is. And she proved it as she smashed her headline show at London’s Eventim Apollo. She wasn’t the only Dork icon in attendance, either. If you look carefully at the photographic evidence for the show you may be able to identify the recipient of a recent Dork 5* certification, Orla Gartland, who has been playing with Dodie in her band. And, Will Joseph Cook was in support too! We love it when our faves team up. Photo: Patrick Gunning.

↑ SAM FENDER CONTINUES TO BE A TOTAL LEGEND O2 Academy Brixton, London. 25th September 2021

Sam Fender is on quite the charge right now. His second album – the Really Bloody Great ‘Seventeen Going Under’ – is set to make a Really Quite Significant impression on the UK Albums Chart as this mag hits the streets, the kind of which means his recent show at London’s O2 Brixton Academy already feels a bit small. Especially as he’s just announced a brand new arena run for 2022. Such is the way of rescheduled, pre-pandemic shows. We were there to grab some very saxy snaps of the man in action. Photo: Francis Beach. 65.

Behind the scenes with L Devine L DEVINE IS GREAT. Any of you who have been reading the pages of Dork for a while now will know that’s our officially certified take. A future pop superstar in waiting, she’s got an impeccably high bop count and is jolly great with it. Truth be told, though, we’re going to have to discuss changing that status. On the back of the two parts of her ‘Near Life Experience’ series, plus shows like this one at London’s Heaven, we may have to strike off the ‘future’ and simply deem L Devine a pop superstar. Need proof? Our intrepid snapper Patrick Gunning headed to the show to capture just what went on.

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Live music. We've missed it, eh? As the venues open their doors, the splitter vans and tour buses rev their engines, and supermarket service station stock up on lucozade and pasties, it's finally time to bring back our monthly guide to all the best tours happening both now and in the future. Raise an overpriced bottle of mid-range beer to the skies - from the arenas to the grassroots, it's good to be back.


23rd-24th November London Electric Ballroom (23rd-24th November)


9th-11th November London Omeara (9th, 10th, 11th November)


1st-22nd November Bristol O2 Academy (1st November), Birmingham O2 Institute (2nd), Leicester Morningside Arena (5th), Manchester Albert Hall (6th), Leeds O2 Academy (7th), Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom (9th), Newcastle O2 Academy (11th), Sheffield The Foundry (12th), Portsmouth The Wedgewood Rooms (14th), Brighton Dome (15th), London O2 Brixton Academy (16th, 17th), Belfast Limelight (21st), Dublin Olympia Theatre (22nd)

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26th October-10th November Newcastle The Cluny (26th October), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (27th), Manchester Yes (The Pink Room) (28th), Dublin Whelan’s (30th), Belfast Oh Yeah Music Centre (31st), Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (2nd November), Birmingham O2 Institute 3 (3rd), Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (4th), London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (8th), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (10th)


9th November-3rd December Newcastle The Cluny (9th November), Sheffield The Leadmill (Steel Stage) (10th), Manchester White Hotel (12th, 13th), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (14th), Norwich Arts Centre (16th), Bristol The Exchange (17th), Brighton Chalk (18th), Brighton West Hill Hall (20th), Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (21st), London Village Underground (23rd, 24th), Nottingham The Bodega (26th), Glasgow Mono (27th), Edinburgh


26th October-25th November Glasgow SWG3 (26th October), Nottingham Rock City (17th November), Leeds University Stylus (18th), Dublin Whelan’s (21st), Bristol SWX Bristol (23rd), London O2 Academy Brixton (25th)

Booking Now. Like to be organised? Yeah, so do we. Honest. Here’s some upcoming tours you can grab your tickets to right now. Better get a move on, though. ARLO PARKS

(22nd). Bexhill-on-Sea De La Warr Pavilion (23rd), Dublin Olympia Theatre (25th), Birmingham O2 Academy (27th), Plymouth Pavilions (28th), Bristol O2 Academy (30th, 31st)

1st-11th November Bristol SWX (1st November), London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (3rd, 4th), Manchester Academy (9th), Glasgow St Lukes (10th), Edinburgh Liquidroom (11th)


Mash House (28th), Oxford The Bullingdon (30th), Liverpool District (2nd December), Dublin The Academy (Green Room) (3rd)

SAM FENDER 25th October-25th November

Glasgow Barrowlands (25th, 26th October), Newcastle Arena (18th November), London Alexandra Palace (20th, 21st), Leeds Arena (24th), Cardiff Arena (25th)

14th-19th March 2022 Edinburgh O2 Academy (14th March), Newcastle O2 City Hall (15th), London O2 Academy Brixton (16th), Birmingham O2 Academy (18th), Manchester O2 Apollo (19th) Old Fire Station (10th), Cardiff YPLAS (11th), London Heaven (14th, 15th), Bristol SWX (17th), Liverpool O2 Academy (18th), Leeds Stylus (19th), Sheffield The Leadmill (20th), Manchester O2 Ritz (22nd), Dublin Academy (23rd), Glasgow O2 Academy (24th), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (26th), Oxford O2 Academy (27th), Norwich Waterfront (28th), Southampton Engine Rooms (30th), Birmingham O2 Institute (1st December)


Cardiff Tramshed (9th November), Birmingham The Mill (10th), London Brixton Electric (12th, 13th), Brighton Chalk (15th), Norwich Waterfront (16th), Sheffield Leadmill (17th), Leeds Beckett’s Union (19th), Glasgow QMU (20th), Newcastle Boiler Shop (21st), Cambridge The Junction (23rd), Manchester O2 Ritz (24th), Liverpool Hangar 34 (25th), Bristol SWX (26th)


Here’s what we’ve got coming up over the next few months

10th-23rd January 2022 Bristol O2 Academy (10th January), Birmingham O2 Academy (15th), Manchester Academy (16th), Dublin Olympia (18th), Glasgow O2 Academy (21st), London O2 Academy (23rd)

THOMAS HEADON 9th November-1st December

Brighton Concorde 2 (9th November), Bournemouth


WORKING MENS CLUB 7th-25th November

Southampton Engine Rooms (7th November), Cardiff The Globe (8th), Bristol The Fleence (10th), Leeds Stylus (11th), Manchester O2 Ritz (12th), Glasgow The Garage (13th), Edinburgh La Belle Angele (14th), Dundee Beat Generator Live! (16th), Newcastle St Dominics (17th), Sheffield Leadmill (18th), Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (19th), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (23rd), Oxford O2 Academy 2 (24th), London Electric Ballroom (25th) WANT MORE LIVE MUSIC NEWS? FIND GIG LISTINGS, TOUR ANNOUNCEMENTS, FESTIVAL LINE-UPS AND MORE FOR NOVEMBER AND BEYOND EVERY DAY AT READDORK.COM

THE WOMBATS 14th-22nd April 2022

Leeds First Direct Arena (14th April), London The O2 (15th), Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (16th), Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom (18th), Liverpool Mountford Hall (22nd)


Wednesday 10th November London Camden Assembly 9th-26th November

16th-27th April 2022 Newcastle St. Dom’s (16th April), Edinburgh The Mash House (17th), Leeds Brudenell Social Club (19th)), Manchester Gorilla (20th), Bristol Trinity (21st), Birmingham O2 Institute 3 (23rd), Norwich Arts Centre (24th), London Scala (26th), Portsmouth The Wedgewood Rooms (27th)





Phoebe Green Joey Maxwell Mollie Coddled

Phoebe Green is great. So are Joey Maxwell and Mollie Coddled. All three are playing our big party this November. Come!



5th-31st January 2022 Glasgow Barrowland (5th, 7th, 8th January), Newcastle O2 City Hall (9th), Norwich UEA (10th), Manchester O2 Apollo (12th, 13th), Sheffield O2 Academy (14th), Liverpool University Guild of Students (15th), London Eventim Apollo (18th, 19th, 20th), Southampton O2 Guildhall


5th April-27th May 2022 London Earth (5th April), Bristol Trinity (11th May), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (18th), Liverpool Zanzibar (19th), Leeds Irish Centre (20th), Manchester Band on the Wall (21st), Sheffield The Foundry (22nd), Norwich Arts Centre (27th)


10th-23rd January 2022 Manchester O2 Ritz (5th May), Bristol O2 Academy (9th), London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (10th), Birmingham O2 Institute (11th), Liverpool O2 Academy (13th), London O2 Forum Kentish Town (15th)

Wednesday 17th November London Olso FEATURING:

Delilah Montagu Mysie Jada Kwaku Asante Every year Brighton’s The Great Escape picks the first fifty acts joining the line-up and puts them all on for a big London blow out. We’re playing our part by showcasing four of the best at Oslo. Tickets on sale now.


22nd-28th April 2022 Bristol Marble Factory (21st April), Leeds University Stylus (22nd), Glasgow Queen Margaret Union (23rd), Dublin Vicar Street (25th), Manchester O2 Ritz (26th), London The Roundhouse (28th)


28th June-21st July 2022 Dublin Trinity College (28th June), Leeds Millennium Square (13th July), Glasgow SSE Hydro (14th), Manchester O2 Victoria Warehouse (16th-17th), Nottingham Motorpoint Arena (19th), Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (20th), London O2 Arena (21st) 69.

Any Other Questions? This month...

Sundara Karma. Yes, Dear Reader. We enjoy those ‘in depth’ interviews as much as anyone else. But - BUT - we also enjoy the lighter side of music, too. We simply cannot go on any longer without knowing that Sundara Karma's Oscar Pollock would call a pet hippo Mudflap. Good name. Here’s some off-topic questions to find out ‘more’. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten? I’m a bit of a rogue cook, so it’s probably some sort of meal I’ve fused together using whatever’s left in the fridge. What did you last dream about? I keep having these eerie recurring dreams that are set in vast catacombs. Nothing much happens, the whole dream is just mad suspense, and there’s really dissonant music playing in the background. Who’s your favourite new band? Planet 1999. What’s your biggest accomplishment? Staying off the drinky drink. Have you ever been thrown out of somewhere? Too many nightclubs as an underage teenager in Reading. What strength Nandos sauce do you order? Extra, extra hot. What was the last thing you broke? I honestly cannot recall; I’m quite careful. If you could have a superpower of your choosing, what would it be? Telekinesis. Are any of your lyrics secretly rude? Think I’m always bait with that stuff, so no. Although actually, maybe.

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What was your favourite subject at school? English. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? All the time. What’s your biggest fear? World War 3. Have you ever won anything? We won a battle of the bands thing once when we were 16. What is your earliest memory? Seeing ghosts. What do you always have in your refrigerator? Oat milk :/. What is your most treasured possession? Probably my PC, tbh. If you had a pet hippo, what would you call it? Mudflap. If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? Dinosaurs. How punk are you out of ten? Minus 10. What’s your favourite smell? Cedarwood, pine or lavender, I can’t choose. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you? Recently, falling off my bike at a set of traffic lights in the middle of

Shoreditch on a Friday night.


What compliment would you most like to receive? You don’t look tired!

If we gave you £10, what would you spend it on? A sick fit.

If you could win a lifetime supply of anything, what would you choose? Hard drives.

If a genie granted you three wishes, what would you ask for? End all cruelty toward animals. Increase the world’s capacity to empathise. A free license to every single music plug-in in the world.

Do you believe in aliens? For sure!! Tell us a secret about yourself? I’m not a true blonde. What fashion would you most like to make a comeback?

Smooth or chunky? Chunky. What is your favourite time of day? Sunrise.

What’s the silliest thing you own? Ethereum. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try? Skydiving. If you had to be on a TV game show, which would you choose? Big Brother. Why are you like this? Idk. Sundara Karma’s single ‘Godsend’ is out now.

“A stunning debut” ROLLING STONE

“A beautifully delicate record” DORK

The Debut Album Optimist Out Now