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Issue n째165

October 2013

Haim

Free


best of the

yearso far

darwin deez songs for imaginative people

funeral for a friend conduit

£5

£5

the history of apple pie out of view

£5

junip (jose go nzalez) junip

£7 miss kittin calling from the stars

£7 orchestral manoeuvres in the dark english electric

£7

retro stefson retro stefson

£5 sweet baboo ships

pvt homosapien

£7 tosca odeon

va: maceo plex dj kicks

neon neon praxis makes perfect

£7

fopp stores

buy your cds, dvds and books from fopp – if they suck we’ll give you a swap or your lolly This offer applies to all cds, dvds and books instore and is only available on production of a valid receipt dated no more than four weeks from the time of your original purchase. Goods must be in the condition as sold, both the sleeve/case, disc or spine/pages. We reserve the right to refuse this offer. This offer in no way affects your statutory rights. Titles subject to availability, while stocks last. Individual titles which appear elsewhere in the store, outside of this campaign, may be priced differently.

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suck it and see

£5

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bristol college green // cambridge sidney st // edinburgh rose st // glasgow union st & byres rd // london covent garden & gower st // manchester brown st // nottingham queen st


[reGuLArS] IN THe STuDIO O4 WIN STuFF O6 JOHN kerrISON’S GrAPHIC CONTeNT 1O ONeSTOWATCH 14 [FeATureS] HAIM 20 ANNA CALVI 28 CASS McCOMBS 32 YuCk 36 eLLIOTT SMITH 38 [reVIeWS] ALBuMS 42 LIVe 54 FILM 60 SIX SHOTS 66 For most of us, it’s bad enough having to work with your colleagues, let alone with family. however, for sisters Danielle, este and Alana haim, an unshakeable sorority has been the basis of all their successes to date – a triumphant festival season has smoothed the path for their magnificent debut album ‘Days Are Gone’. Daniel ross joins them for a hectic day in london from page 20... JJ DuNNING, EDITOR Yuck, shot by Tom oldham for The Fly, London, September 2013

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the-Fly.co.uk


I n T h e S t u d io

The Horrors Synth master Tom Cowan tells us how the followup to ‘Skying’ is taking shape...

Studio: The Horrors’ studio, Dalston Label: XL Recordings Due: 2014 Hi Tom. What does the new Horrors album sound like? I’ve been telling people that it sounds quite fuzzy. The sounds are a bit broken. They’re breaking up a bit. It’s quite distorted. There’s this pretty great new pyramid synth. There’s only two of them in the world. [Head of XL] Richard Russell had two of them commissioned - we’ve got one and he’s got the other. He’s the only one you can swap notes with on this machine? Nah, he’s got to the-fly.co.uk

come and ask me the questions! It’s a pyramid-shaped synth that’s been designed by our friend Pete Fowler who originally made them as a cartoon [for The Horrors’ ‘Changing The Rain’ video]. They were mythical, but then he made them real, which was amazing. And how have you utilised this pyramid synth? It’s just great for drones and weird sounds. I think maybe the odd appearance encourages our sound. My little area is a mass of cabling and electronics! Is there any specific motivation for the fuzziness on this album? It appeals a bit more. You think ‘Oh, that sounds nice’ or

that it’s sounding how it should “properly” sound – if there’s a right way for things to sound – but then you turn the knob up a bit more and go past the point where you normally would. Does this mean we can use the hackneyed journalistic term “knob-twiddler” to describe you? I’d have to say that I am a big “knobtwiddler”. On a daily basis. It was my calling! How else has the sound moved on? Each Horrors record does have a very specific feel, doesn’t it? For us it’s a slow evolution from when you finish one record to when you finish the next one. Everything that happens in that

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in-between time has an effect, but it’s slow and imperceptible. To everyone else it’s twoyear jumps. There are so many outside influences that cause the sound to develop. One day can have a whole knock-on effect on how you write songs or how the rhythms go – tiny little things all add up. Is there a song that you’re most


excited for people to hear? There’s a few. There’s one we’ve been playing live called ‘Elixir Spring’ that has been going down really well. It feels like you don’t want to stop playing it. Are they long songs again? We’re not very good at short songs! Have they got

even longer? We’ve learned the lessons of prog passed – don’t over-egg the pudding. Does it bother you that the record doesn’t have a name yet? Not really. it’s always the last thing that we decide on, when it’s all said and done and it’s in the bag. Some people might say “this is the

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theme of the record, it’s going to be called this” and then write around that theme, but we don’t really have that. It’s more musical ideas as opposed to a lyrically imposed theme over the whole record. When it’s finished we sit down and try to decide what words we can use to best represent the finished body of work.

Bonus Fa c t o i d s Tom was contemplating having cod goujons with tartare sauce when we called. How bourgeois. Faris is not in the above picture because, and we quote, “he wasn’t there when it was taken”. #logic the-fly.co.uk


w i n st u ff

Louise Haywood-Schiefer

M

Win: City Sound Project Tickets Make a pilgrimage to Canterbury’s best new bands festival... City Sound Project takes place in Canterbury on Sunday 27th October and features a massive variety of artists playing at seven venues across the city. On the bill are: Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Outfit, Splashh, Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs, the-fly.co.uk

Royal Blood, Troumaca, Monki and Shadow Child, with more to be announced in the coming weeks. The Fly is hosting a stage at the Marlowe Theatre featuring recent The Fly Presents tour heroes Splashh and Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs. Tickets are available to buy

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from citysoundprojectuk.com, priced £20.00 plus booking fee. A limited number of £10.00 Early Bird tickets are also available. Visit The-Fly.co.uk/ Competitions and enter our online ticket tombola for the chance to win entry for you and a friend. Competition closes on Thursday 24th October.


PARQUET COURTS Light Up Gold Tally All The Things That You Broke

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xand The x Sundowners. x x x x x Head to facebook.com/becksvier for tickets.

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Cloud atx East Village Arts x Control x perform x x x Club, x Liverpool, x x on Friday 18th October. Support comes from Younghusband

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VVxBrown x and x Mausi x play x next x x x month’s Beck’s Live show at Camden x xLondon, x x x Send x us x Barfly, onx 21stxNovember. questions for the band on Twitter x x x xwith the x hashtag x x x @TheFlyMagazine #beckslive by midnight on Wednesday 16th x x x x x x x x x October. An independent judge will then select the xbest 10 x questions x x for publication x x xin thex magazine. Those questions will win the lucky x x tickets x x x x x poser axpair of tox the show.

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This competition is only open to UK residents aged 18 or x overxwith access x to xthe internet x andx excluding x employees x xof x Beck’s and The Fly magazine. By entering the competition, you agree to our full Terms & Conditions, which can be found at x x x x x x x x x x the-fly.co.uk/tsandcs. Closing date for entries is 16th October. All applicants will be responsible for the cost of their own travel x x x x x x x x x x

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x x x x x is the x weirdest x x place x @lucilledeneille Where you’ve been in the UK?

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The Fly Promotion

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»John Kerrison’s Graphic Content When Video Games Meet Music “If you’re going to release a game about yourself, it might as well stroke your ego...”

Last month, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V generated over $800m within 24 hours of its release. It’s been billed as the most hyper-realistic computer-generated experience so far; a huge virtual world which enables users to dabble with drugs, crash cars, and commit sex crimes without actually leaving the house. In essence it’s like a George Michael lifestyle simulator. Of course, if there actually was a George Michael lifestyle simulator, it wouldn’t be the first music-themed video game… ‘Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker’ Before the Bashir documentary, the media allegations, and the ‘Jesus Juice’ revelations, you could pretty much stick Michael Jackson’s face on anything and have it fly off the shelves. It was for this reason that several Moonwalker titles were released featuring MJ and his pet chimp Bubbles attempting to rescue kidnapped children from a child-snatcher named Mr Big. You can add a Freudian analysis or witty bon mot of your choice here:________________________________________. ‘50 Cent: Blood on the Sand’ Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson released ‘Blood On The Sand’ for XBOX and PS3 in 2009. In it, he and his ‘crew’ swagger around the war-torn deserts of the Middle East shooting rivals in pursuit of stolen treasures like gang-banging Indiana Joneses. The main selling point is that you get to stop being 50 Cent as soon as you turn it off, which, given that Curtis himself is not afforded that luxury, arguably makes the game better than actually being 50 Cent. Plus, it hurts less when you get shot. Again. ‘Journey Escape’ You almost imagine that the band Journey might pre-date video games, instead inspiring merchandise like Yo-Yos, spinning tops and sepia photos of feathered mullets. However, a mere 30 years ago, when all games were just a collection of unidentifiable blipping pixels, Data Age released ‘Journey Escape’. In it, band members had to be guided safely to their tour bus through a swarm of horny groupies - because if you’re going to release a game about yourself, it might as well stroke your ego. ‘Spice World’ The ‘Spice World’ video game was called ‘derivative and shallow’ by the New York Times, which apparently back then wilfully devoted column inches to stating the blindingly obvious. The game invites players to teach the girls to sing, dance, and remember lyrics. Rumour has it Westlife had a similar game in development where players had to synchronise the band standing from their stools at exactly the right time during a chorus, while also trying to prevent all members from marrying Kerry Katona.

the-fly.co.uk

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VIDEO GAMES FACTFILE

life David Cameron once described an archetypal gamer as “playing computer games all day, living out a fantasy because he hates real life.” David Cameron is largely responsible for the quality of real life in Britain.

GIRLS World-famous eating game Pac-Man was originally designed to bring girls into the arcade, based on Toru Iwatani’s logic that “all women love desserts” (and probably also mazes, ghosts, and the odd cherry). His not at all reductive knowledge of the fairer sex stopped just short of him creating games based on other famous female loves; buying shoes, stroking kittens, and being stereotyped by games designers.

DEATH At least 9 people have died from gaming. One Californian woman’s game was over after drinking over two gallons of water and refusing to go to the toilet in order to win a console. News sources report she was dying for a Wii.

sex GTA V made $800m within 24 hours of release and takes 100 hours to complete. That’s 1.3m obsessive types who won’t be having any sex until at least November

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the-fly.co.uk


Picks of 2013 Supports announced to TOY, Citizens! and Swim Deep at this month’s shows... Back in May and June, Jack Daniel’s® J.D. Roots continued their support for local music scenes by taking Miles Kane and Maxïmo Park back to their home towns to play intimate gigs in small venues. In addition they hosted four breakthrough acts; The Family Rain, The Ruen Brothers, Charlie Boyer and The Voyeurs and Loom as a continuation of the 2013 hometown tour of J.D. Roots to also showcase emerging talent. To continue supporting the places where legends are born, J.D. Roots returns this month with their pick of some of this year’s best emerging British the-fly.co.uk

bands playing small gigs in three cities. To further highlight the importance of small venues in local scenes giving new talent a stage on which to shine, the headline support for each show will be be local artists. When Swim Deep play at Edinburgh’s Picture House on 23rd October, support will come from Prides. Formed in Neighbouring Glasgow this exciting three piece recently sold out King Tut’s. Not bad for a band only formed this year! The next night, the Citizens! show at Islington’s Garage will feature Londoners Night Engine – fresh off the

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back of support slots to The 1975 and gigs at Reading & Leeds festival. The final night of the J.D. Roots Picks Of 2013 mini-tour at The Ritz in Manchester will be headlined by psych-rockers TOY, preceded by the equally drone-prone newcomers Young British Artists. Tickets are priced at £10 in London and £8 in Edinburgh & Manchester (incl. booking fee). Go to www.jackdaniels. com/music for a full line-up, to buy tickets and to find out more about J.D. Roots. Know when to unplug. Please drink Jack Daniel’s responsibly. For the facts: drinkaware.co.uk


Londoners Night Engine will play Islington’s Garage

the-fly.co.uk


o n e s t o wat ch

darkside Pretentious, nous? Words R obert C ooke Photo J ed D e M oss

“Making music comes very naturally”, says Nicolas Jaar, before correcting himself: “Making good music definitely does not come naturally. Making mediumto-terrible music comes very naturally.” As the genius behind 2011’s ‘Space Is Only Noise’ - a game-changing album for dance music - Jaar is (very marginally) more modest than you might think. But we are still talking about a man who met his current collaborator, Dave Harrington, when he asked a friend to simply “introduce me to the best musician you know”. A trained jazz bassist, Harrington originally joined Jaar’s live band as a guitarist, but now the pair are to release their debut album as DARKSIDE. “We see it as body music,” says Jaar, “hopefully very, very friendly, human music.” Really? ‘Psychic’ does hit the sweet spot between the-fly.co.uk

Jaar’s electronic abstraction and Harrington’s proggy muscularity - it’s a slow, intricate stunningly engaging album. “Friendly” might be going a bit far though. “We thought we were being friendly and I guess we’re not that friendly,” Jaar offers. Harrington: “The mistake would be to think that we’re setting out a mystery that you have to solve by listening to the record. I think of it more like when you look at a painting you don’t have to know what the artist was thinking in order to feel something.” The paintbrush in this analogy then, must be Harrington’s flickering guitar. “I think of it as a piece of wood with some metal on it and some magnets inside,” he says, “I approach it in that way and you can wield it like a blunt object or a very fine razor blade.” Fundamentally, ‘Psychic’ is a reflection of DARKSIDE’s experimental instincts.

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“When we’re working we like to say yes to everything,” Harrington explains. “Nico will say, ‘Dave, I think this one needs this thing’, so we’ll try it, and maybe it’s not what it needs but that’s how we get from one place to another. “You keep doing that enough, and then at a certain point the idea is not, ‘This song needs a fifth part’ - the idea is, ‘This song needs to stop’. One of us will get to the point where the idea is, ‘It’s done’. And then we’ll experiment with the idea of it being done.” So, with another album set to be a critical smash, 23-year-old Jaar must be pretty pleased with what he’s achieved for his tender years? “I’m not interested in talking or thinking about that because from my point of view I’m just making music.” Well, he did say he wasn’t that friendly. ‘Psychic’ is released on Matador/ Other People on 7th October.


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the-fly.co.uk


o n e s t o wat c h

banks Reclusive LA girl gives a compelling account... Words G emma S amways Photo J asmine S afaeian

Personal connections are everything to BANKS. She refers to her label, Good Years, as “family”, enthuses about the “special relationships” she’s forged with her producers, and explains that her ultimate goal is “to touch people” with music. It’s easy to sneer in the-fly.co.uk

wonder at how close you can really get to someone who won’t reveal her first name, but it seems like the 25-yearold singer really means it. How many other artists would publish their phone number on Facebook, encouraging fans to ring for a chat? By her own admission

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the response has been overwhelming so far. “Sometimes I get really emotional calls and sometimes it’s just people reaching out, sending love, but all of it has been amazing. Journalists always ask me whether I get creepy messages, but I really don’t.” It seems an unusual gesture from an artist who purposely eschews 21st century selfie culture by delegating all social media duties to her team. And a bold move for someone who concedes to having a “reclusive side”. Indeed, we might not have heard of this LA girl at all were it not for a friend


who sent two tracks off to her now manager. Seven months since ‘Before I Ever Met You’ first appeared on SoundCloud, she’s set to open for The Weeknd and last month unveiled the ‘London’ EP, featuring collaborations with Jamie Woon, T.E.E.D. and 4AD-signed electro-soul ex-pat SOHN. Building on the promise of previous singles ‘Fall Over’ and ‘Warm Water’, her debut set finds her proffering more intimate, electronic R&B. Utilising swelling synths and ponderous subs, fluid beats and bubbling bass, she demonstrates an innate understanding of after-hours UK bass. The only constant is her sultry coo, breathing warmth and vulnerability into the icy synth-scapes. Inevitably, her quest for intimacy bleeds into the stories she tells: deeply affecting, first person narratives of rejection and longing. And while the concept of music as an outlet for articulating emotion may be as old as the art of songwriting itself, the sense of catharsis it brought proved revelatory for the 15-year-old BANKS. “I was going through a really hard time, and I didn’t know how to talk about it. Someone gave me a keyboard and these melodies just started pouring out of me. Music became the safest place for me to be completely open about everything. It saved my life.” Judging by those phone calls, BANKS is already doing the same for others.

PINS Dream-woven post-punk to get stuck on... Words W ill F itzpatrick Photo S acha Z ucconi “I hear about bands that don’t get on,” muses Faith Holgate, “and can’t record anything in the same room as each other. I can’t imagine that, it must be so stressful.” Not that such problems affect Manchester’s PINS, for whom Faith provides lead vocals. “I think that’s the strongest thing we’ve got - we all understand each other. We’re actually best friends.” This closeness certainly comes across in their live show, with all four members operating in unbreakable unison - “We’ve become one mind. We just know what each other are thinking without saying anything.” PINS, completed by guitarist Lois McDonald, bassist Anna Donigan and drummer Sophie Galpin, deal in reverb-drenched noise-pop that recalls the fuzzed-out violence of The Jesus & Mary Chain, tempered by Beach House somnambulance. They’ve only been together two years, but the buzz that swiftly built up around them makes it feel like they’ve been around for much longer. “I was taken aback by the attention we got,” Faith admits. “But it was a pleasant surprise.” After a knackering run of touring and their self-released debut single ‘Eleventh Hour’, Bella Union stepped in for the ‘LuvU4Lyf’ EP - a throat-burning shot of post-punk, rife with alluring darkness. Debut album ‘Girls Like Us’ is even better, turning up the lights to reveal gleaming hooks and peppy rhythms. Its knee-knocking appeal looks certain to finally steal any hearts left unconvinced after what’s been a lengthy courtship. Meanwhile, PINS live by a single mantra, sourced from their own DIY ‘zine Haus Of PINS. “We contacted [Dum Dum Girls frontwoman] Dee Dee and asked for her advice for life. Hers came from Karen O - ‘little risk, little reward’. That’s good advice for anyone, isn’t it?” It sounds sharp enough. ‘Girls Like Us’ is released on Bella Union on 30th September.

‘London’ EP is out now on Good Years.

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the-fly.co.uk


o n e s t o wat c h

THEO VERNEY The rock-climbing Brighton punk in his own (brief) words... Words T heo V erney Photo M ilo B elgrove

My new ‘Heavy Sunn’ EP is less than 10 minutes long. I come from a punk aesthetic and I have a very short attention span, so my songs come out short. It’s probably a good thing; it means people can listen without dedicating the-fly.co.uk

ages to it. The process is quick because my writing process happens at the same time as the recording. I come up with ideas, record them and then they evolve into full songs. Usually this takes a day per song; I don’t like spending

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a long time on things. I love being outdoors. I’ve just driven back from a weekend of rock climbing in Snowdonia. I like climbing mountains when I can. I’m in the sea in my first press shot - as I say, I like the outdoors. It was taken by my friend Milo. Me and him were just having fun in the sea, nothing planned or serious. I don’t think being called a ‘garage rocker’ means much. My music has elements of garage and rock, if it allows people to explain partly what I’m about, then that’s fine with me. DIY seems more standard these days, seeing as


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5. 1 Kevin Morby 2 FKA Twigs 3 Boogarins 4 Yuppies 5 Diane Coffee

Brazilian kids

you can buy a soundcard for £100 and make professionalsounding music. Small labels are very important. They give artists who are starting out a bit of promotion to an audience who are very receptive to new music. The best thing about what I do is that I am in complete control of how my records sound. I can tell myself “that drum take was shit, do it again”, there’s no need to be diplomatic with other people’s feelings. ‘Heavy Sunn’ EP is released on Hate Hate Hate Records on 21st October.

Boogarins are like the kids from City Of God only more stoned and less terrifying. Their hairy psychedelia channels UMO. Get debut LP ‘As Plantas Que Curam’ this month on Other Music. Kevin Morby of Woods and The Babies has made a solo record. Expect meandering Byrds-like melody dappled with joy, sorrow and all in between. ‘Harlem River’ drops next month on WOODSIST. Kissing Is A Crime do things simply. Listening to their lean, gauzy indie-pop, you’d

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never guess ex-Friends keyboardist Matthew Molna was involved. Hear ‘Blind Brusies’ on Bandcamp now. Unsettling imagery and baby-soft beats and vocals. Young Turks’ FKA Twigs marries Brooke Candy and Jessie Ware, in a wholly not-as-weird-asthat sounds way. ‘EP 2’ is out now. Another day, another Foxygen side project. Drummer Shaun Fleming is a former Disney voice actor. Diane Coffee’s folky, lo-fi debut ‘My Friend Fish’ is far from Mickey Mouse. Breakneck pace, jarring quiet and

lonely, half-awake vocals - Yuppies’ debut will give you a runny nose. The Nebraskan punks’ LP is out on Andrew Savage’s (curly-haired nice man of Parquet Courts) Dull Tools now.

NA M E s t o wat c h Major Malfunction Anto Dust Beth Israel Lady Elect BIG UPS Sponsored by

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One

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Moment

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In

Haim When they’re not batting pigeons off their sandwiches, Haim have a “presidentially busy” promo day to contend with. Daniel Ross trails Este, Danielle and Alana around London… Photography T om O ldham

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haim Outside the doors to BBC Radio 1 two autograph hunters wait, pens and pads poised like weapons before a dawn raid. The security guard asks them who they’re here to see. “Eliza Doolittle,” says the smaller of the two, resplendent in her gargantuan blue fleece and baseball cap. When Haim leave the building about an hour later, after gamely taking part in a cruel-but-inventive prank call feature on Nick Grimshaw’s breakfast show (more of that later), the autograph hunters postpone their plans to bother Doolittle, take a punt on these glamorous sisters and shove their pens and pads in their faces. Soon, a small huddle of paparazzi and intrigued onlookers are flocking to the sunglass-sporting trio, asking them for photographs and Instagrams respectively, very possibly without much of an idea of who they are. Far from offended, Este, Danielle and

“No-one can fuck with my sisters. You fuck with me first...” Alana seem delighted that anyone’s taken an interest. We convene in a café by the doors to Broadcasting House, and begin with what’s just occurred. Papping – does that happen a lot now? “No!” the sisters chorus. Alana, youngest of the three and possessive of the most excitable personality (and an award-winning Twitter account) thinks it more likely that, “They’re literally going to go home and delete those pictures.” It’s my role today to see what a promo day with Haim is like. Our schedule is tight. It begins at Radio 1, breaks for an hour while I interview them, scoots across to Absolute Radio where the girls are due to record links for their own show, settles for a while in the afternoon as they tackle some regional radio interviews, and finally finishes with an evening visit to XFM in the-fly.co.uk

Leicester Square. A glance at this presidentially busy day begs one question: is there a chance the world might just see a little too much of Haim in the run-up to their all-important debut album release? They are everywhere. “Are we?” asks singer/guitarist/middle child Danielle, brow wrinkled. “For us, we’re not everywhere. We don’t see anything. We have days like this [meaning promo days] and we’re really proud of our record, but at the same time we’re more focused on getting ready for shows.” “If I can still play music, that’s all that matters,” adds Alana, without even a hint of irony. The idea that they’re in any way becoming celebrities seems like a quirky idea to them, despite the fact that they spent the day before at a Topshop fashion show and just swapped hangover stories with Nick Grimshaw. They’re most interested in talking about how much they enjoy playing live, how much they enjoy playing live in different countries, and their new album, ‘Days Are Gone’, in that order. Speaking of which - that first album. It’s a summer record that didn’t quite make it out in time for summer, the product of intense collaboration with a whole range of big-name producers. The man who made Adele’s ‘21’, Paul Epworth, spared some time for them (he was recording ‘Skyfall’ at the time: “We were like, ‘You can finish that, it’s no big deal.’”), as did Arctic Monkeys collaborator James Ford, Jessie Ware and Vampire Weekend producer Ariel Rechtshaid. And with only a few EPs for fans to chew over until now, this fix of fiercely clever but hugely entertaining pop has been a long time coming. “We just wanted to release something we were proud of,” reasons Danielle. Alana agrees: “I feel like we could’ve spent ten years on this record, but we knew the second it was over that it was really over. It gave us anxiety.” Getting that one perfect recording has, they explain, always been a sore point. Their various EPs to date have been a process of trial and error with producers, studios and writing. “We actually made another ‘Forever’ EP

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H E DI D T H I NGS H IS WAY.

WHICH HEL PS EXPL AIN OUR MUTUAL ADMIR ATION. Look onstage any given night and you would see Frank Sinatra, in his trademark tuxedo, captivating audiences everywhere. Look a little closer and his favorite drink, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, wouldn’t be far away. Frank was never shy about how much he loved Old No. 7. In fact, he’s even laid to rest with a bottle of it. So we thought it was only fi tting to show how much we loved him back. With a whiskey of his own. Jackdaniels.com/sinatraselect.

ACT B OL D LY. D R IN K R E S PON S I B LY. SINATRA IS A TRADEMARK OF FRANK SINATRA ENTERPRISES, LLC, USED UNDER LICENSE TO JACK DANIEL’S. ©2013 JACK DANIEL’S. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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haim that we hated,” admits Danielle. The band became obsessed with getting it right, says Este: “I remember [a gig at the Troubadour in Hollywood] it was Chief, us and Grouplove. Grouplove opened for us. Then literally a month later Grouplove got signed and were everywhere, and we were like ‘What?! You were opening for us!’” “That was a big thing,” Danielle concurs. “We were really happy for them. But they had an EP, so the turning point was realising that we needed a specialsounding recording.” “We also just kept saying yes to shows,” adds Este. “We are ‘yes’ men.” All three then proceed to perform an unabashed impression of Jim Carrey in the film ‘Yes Man’: “Nnnnnyyyyyesss!” When, confusingly, a pigeon enters the café and wends its hungry way towards Este’s Panini, we’re introduced to the Haim

“WE ARE ‘YES’ MEN...” we’ve heard about – noisy, excitable and bags of fun. Alana is delighted: “That is a legit pigeon!” Cue pigeon impressions, cooing and an eventual attempt to shoo him forever from Este herself. “He literally just touched my boot. He has no shame.” Haim are a hoot. They cackle and babble over each other, laugh at each other’s jokes, are happy to hug and high-five Fly journalists without hesitation or any kind of vaccination. When they pre-record the aforementioned prank phonecall feature with Grimshaw, they end up calling their A&R guy, Ben Mortimer, pretending that they’ve had it with their current promo schedule and they’re skipping the country for Ibiza. Danielle’s performance is consummately realistic. Alana staggers around the studio, struggling to fight back tears of laughter. For his prank, Grimmy calls Vernon Kay about borrowing his swimming pool. “Sounds the-fly.co.uk

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HAIM like my uncle,” says Este, confused. Their exuberance and ease with each other isn’t something that’s arrived recently, either. When they lived back with their parents in Los Angeles, hoping desperately to make Haim their lives (Alana was a nanny, Danielle sold shoes and Este worked in a burger restaurant), the usual sibling squabbles were stamped out early on. “We lived in a pretty tiny house and we were always around each other,” Este explains. “But we never fought.” “I’ve pin-pointed the reason we never fought, and it stems from this guy right here…” Alana rolls her head towards Este. “Este took Danielle out to gigs when she was 18 and Danielle was 16, so when Danielle was 18 she took me out to gigs. We all just looked up to her as our big sister. It’s really not cheesy,” she grins. “It’s true!” The bands they took each other to see were, in their own words, “cute boys” like Rooney and Rilo Kiley, so perhaps not the most threatening of late-night pursuits. But now that they’re on their own and the subject of increasingly intense fandom (check out the creepy comments from sexually inventive bedroom-dwellers on their YouTube videos), they must be a constant worry for their parents. “They know that Este will take care of us,” Alana says, looking towards the omniscient guardian presence of her eldest sister: “I can see when there’s going to be an issue and I intercept automatically,” she says, matterof-factly. “No-one can fuck with my sisters. You fuck with me first.” It’s perhaps notable

that this is the only time anyone swears in the whole interview. So we know she’s serious. Over at Absolute Radio that afternoon, Haim are recording links for their own one-off show. Between records of their own choosing, they horse around. At one point, the simple utterance of the words “on the radio” causes an impromptu and ear-piercing rendition of Donna Summer’s ‘On The Radio’. The papping, the fashion shows, being looked after by Jay-Z’s management company (Alana: “I want his laugh to be my ringtone!”), the fact that apparently Stevie Nicks is a fan and wants to meet them… now, there’s no reason at all to think that all this would come to an end, but what if it did? Alana, consistently the most cheeringly earnest and least sarcastic of the three, has no doubt: “We’d still play music. Unless the question is, ‘What would you do if you didn’t have lips or hands so you can’t sing or play anything?’” Before the thought has fully formed in her head, Este has a subsequent solution: “I’d be a professional swimmer. I’d put fins on.” All three of them are perfectly satisfied with this answer. That suggests, hackneyed as it sounds, that they were sisters before they were a band. Siblings in rock have a bad track record when it comes to preserving harmonious relationships (ask the Beach Boys, Oasis, The Kinks and Kings Of Leon), and it might be tempting fate to even countenance any cracks in Haim’s future, but this family band look set to play together and stay together for a long time yet. ‘Days Are Gone’ is out now on Polydor.

HAIM’S DAY, AS IT HAPPeNeD: A TIMeLINe 10:40

arrive at BBc Radio 1. wait for haim.

11:00

haim due to arrive.

11:10

haim arrive in shades, proceed to hug everyone.

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11:17

Get stuck in BBc lift, contemplate calling for assistance.

11:22

nick Grimshaw pre-recorded interview. he’s a bit hungover and tells a showbiz story about Kate Moss.

12:00 pm retire to café for interview. 12:24

hungry pigeon incident.

12:55

cab arrives to go to absolute Radio. wagamama lunch plans are formulated and subsequently rejected.

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13:30

recording begins. haim manage to blag tickets to Fleetwood Mac’s Manchester show from an important-looking absolute Radio person.

15:00

unending stream of regional phone interviews via ISdn.

18:30

xFM interview begins.

20:00

haim head off into the London night.


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anna c a lvi Reser ved in person, explosive on record: Anna Calvi’s second album touches on tragedy and its aftermath... Words A lex D enney Portraits L ouise H aywood -S chiefer

The last time I met Anna Calvi, I was hungover. Not the whimsical sort of hungover that gives you a warm blankety feeling and makes polite company tolerable, or even something to be sought after. No, this was the sweat-inducing, borderline-state-of-psychosis where even glancing at a breakfast menu is enough to induce a full-blown panic attack. For that reason, we didn’t have far to look for excuses when the interview went quite awkwardly — because let’s face it, when your interviewee asks repeatedly after your wellbeing as you feebly choke down a glass of Coke, chances are you’re pretty far from being at the peak of your conversational powers. Two-and-a-half years later, professionalism has prevailed as we arrive at a south London cafe sober as a judge to speak with the Twickenham-born musician about her second album, ‘One Breath’. But Anna, it turns out, is still a tough nut to crack. On record and on stage, things are very different. Calvi’s Mercury and BRITnominated debut was a quixotic affair driven the-fly.co.uk

by her uninhibited guitar playing and lusty, mock-operatic songs. Live shows were even more volcanic; the pint-sized performer dressed in flamenco red-and-black, tearing strips off a Telecaster guitar that looked about twice her size. All of which makes her prim, softly-spoken presence in person strange and even a little disconcerting. Sitting in an empty garden out back where our tape can roll unencumbered by background chatter, her answers are frequently lost to the sound of planes overhead on the Heathrow flight path. Rubbish attempts at banter about the BRIT Awards and her pick for last year’s Mercury Prize — where she sat as a judge — are met with short, courteous responses: she “felt like she didn’t belong” at the former, and won’t say who she plumped for at the latter, instead preferring to stress (suspiciously we might add) Alt-J’s worthiness as eventually winners. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, though. If Calvi’s first album explored its themes of love and lust with a stylised abandon that bordered on camp, ‘One Breath’ is a more

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anna calvi measured, deeply personal record whose best moments find new ways of communicating. Written after the death of a family member, Calvi has said the album is about memory, and the conflicted attitude people have towards change. “The songs are to do with being on unstable ground in life,” she says. “That can be really thrilling and exciting but it can also be quite scary because things can change very quickly, and you don’t have control over that. There’s this constant to-ing and fro-ing between wanting to move on from something and not wanting to move away from something. But the world is relentless in the way it moves on. Your memories, no matter how much you try and hold them, are always going to dissipate and that’s actually quite a healing thing.” Something in Calvi’s reserved manner stops us from asking about the real-life events that informed the record’s writing, but she

“Music is like hypnosis...” nonetheless admits making ‘One Breath’ was a therapeutic process for her: “What’s good about writing a record is you get to take all of the things you find difficult in life and play them out in a world that you’ve created where anything can happen. You can go deeper and darker than you’d be able to in normal life. Music is like hypnosis and really exploring whatever it is that’s going on with you in a safe place. And really, the worst that can happen is that people don’t like the music you make. But it’s not gonna kill you.” Working again with her band, consisting of multi-instrumentalist Molly Harpaz and drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood, Calvi brought Portishead collaborator John Baggott into the fold as keyboardist to give herself more freedom as a guitarist: “I wanted to find another way of having another instrument.” Likewise, Calvi switched up her approach to singing in order to get more varied results: the-fly.co.uk

“I wanted to play with the dynamics of my voice. That was new for me, because when I first started singing I found that I could sing loud, and I just wanted to do it all the time. But I think it’s an immature thing when you pick up any instrument, then eventually you discover that less is more.” Central to Calvi’s themes of resisting and surrendering to change was the track ‘One Breath’, which features some of her most ambitious string arrangements to date and also doubles as the album’s title. “It’s about having to tell someone something important that really changes things,” she says. “But I think the way I deal with it is I talk about that breath; the moment before everything changes, which is very hopeful... The music explains the story. The strings come in and suggest what it is that I said without me having to specify what’s happening in my life, so it’s my way of being open about my feelings without actually having to say actually what happened.” Another song, ‘Carry Me Over’, achieves a similar effect with a long instrumental passage in which strings lurch and stab, rising to a terrible pitch before sliding into an unexpectedly beautiful crescendo. Was there a specific idea she was trying to represent there? “I think that song was almost like seeing exactly what’s happening inside you and then being pushed back out into the world again at the end,” says Calvi. “Or, another way of seeing it is as the end, the moment of finally giving up. It’s funny how you go about your life and inside you there are all these cogs ticking that you have no control over, and you don’t really understand how they’re doing it but they’re keeping you alive. Everything you experience in the outside world, there’s an inner world that’s churning away and fighting for your existence. There’s something quite amazing about that.” With ‘One Breath’, Anna reveals more of that inner world than ever before. ‘One Breath’ is released on Domino Recording Co. on 7th October. Thanks to Powder Keg Diplomacy, St. John’s Hill, Clapham, for their help with the photoshoot.

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October 05 • Edinburgh Pleasance Theatre 06 • Glasgow Oran Mor 07 • Manchester Club Academy 08 • Birmingham Institute Library 10 • London Hackney Empire 11 • Oxford O2 Academy2 12 • Brighton St Georges Church 14 • Bristol Anson Rooms 15 • Leeds The Wardrobe Gigsandtours.com • 0844 477 2000

New album Country Mile released September 30th on Transgressive Records Johnny-Flynn.com • Transgressiverecords.co.uk


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C ass M c combs Self-hating drifter vs. prolific, gifted songwriter: album number seven does little to untangle the Cass McCombs paradox... Words B en H omewood Portraits L ouise H aywood -S chiefer

Cass McCombs has gone to the toilet. Dressed like a skateboarder who’s just raided an army surplus store, he leaves me loitering uncertainly between browning leaves and well-heeled women walking handsome dogs in Holland Park. Will he come back? The 36-year-old Californian is a flighty itinerant whose most permanent address is his car. Disdainful of the vacuous nature of this job, he’s unloved by interviewers. Subsequently, they often say he’s terse, unforthcoming, a drug-addled outsider stuck under San Francisco’s fingernail, clinging to a bygone free-wheeling folk spirit. The last time we met was in a park, when he removed his shoes and socks and was far more relaxed than I was, so there’s hope. Presently, he ambles back. Hearing his voice as stones crunch underneath his feet feels strange and valuable. Cass’s songs are like books. You inhabit them, digest them. In the 10 years since his scratchy 4AD debut ‘A’, he’s amassed an inclusive catalogue of counter-culture, genre-hopping records that plunder from myriad music and literature. His songs are rich, witty, controversial (‘Bradley Manning’ was written in sympathy for the plight of the US soldier) and loving. He’s been married and has designed his own font (used

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on the sleeve of his ‘WIT’S END’ LP). But like any enigmatic author he’s little more than a name. Faceless. Today, he’s visiting his record label prior to the release of new LP ‘Big Wheel And Others’, a bubbling 22-song casserole that flits from dreamy love to blood-curdling subversion and features uncomfortable skits taken from Ralph Arlyck’s 1969 film ‘Sean’, which portrays San Francisco drug culture by implanting a fouryear-old boy into it and interviewing him. Not that Cass wants to talk about that, obviously. Instead, we find a bench. His fingers curl around a joint. His tobacco pouch has a service station sticker that says ‘I’m In The Meal Deal’ on it. “I don’t have much to say about specifics. It’s not enjoyable listening to someone talk about themselves.” He’s explaining his stance on selfpromotion. “People are people. That’s all. I have no problem. Just don’t really like to hear myself talk. If there was a way I could talk without talking – that’s what I’m trying to develop. The sound of one hand clapping, one lip smacking.” We agree ‘Big Wheel...’ is a rangy, luxuriant listen. It was fun and quick to make, but it’s just another recording to Cass. The songs exist the-fly.co.uk


cass m c combs so he and his players can get cosmic. “I want to invent multiple dimensions within sound. Music exists in a transcendental realm. You can’t see it, like wind. You stumble upon a feeling. You can slow down the clock of the cosmos through music.” He believes his audience is as integral to his music as he is. “Imagination is an instrument,” he mutters. He likes people to sing his lyrics, but he’d prefer you to mishear, to make it up. Not that he expects people to even countenance cogitating over it. “I hope I allow people to dislike it gracefully.” Does he understand why they wouldn’t like his music? “Yes! A million reasons. It’s too simple, it’s too traditional – I don’t know. What should I say? It’s surprising when people do. I’m honoured. Give me your ears for a few minutes so I can sing you a song. Cool.”

“I just want real human interaction...” His roach rolls off the bench. “I despise myself, really.” Cass smiles crookedly. “I always ask myself, ‘Who the hell are you?’ I question everything, have psychotic self-conversations.” Sentences spill from his mouth relentlessly, each one a different hue. His music, full of characters, riddles, stories and unexpected avenues - particularly evident on the careerdistilling (perhaps defining) ‘Big Wheel...’ mirrors his conversation. “Songs have this amazing ability to capture a spontaneous feeling. Then you move on. Mood swings, different lovers, different feelings. Yes God, no God, maybe God, religious beliefs change within a day. Songs have that way; you express yourself in a wider range. I’m talking about this as a virtue, living life to the fullest range of experience and emotional ability. Being a true heathen and a true holy man. That’s what interests the-fly.co.uk

me, not cementing myself in a particular consciousness. I’m open to transforming. Life is temporary, songs encapsulate that.” His encapsulate a chameleonic mind. They’re not about everyday things; Cass doesn’t understand the mundane. But the druggy seediness of his underbelly existence can’t mask a naked, scabby-kneed beauty. Of course, Cass doesn’t like his love songs. “Women are great in songs. There’s something about music and the female spirit - they’re married. A woman is guided by her emotions and that’s a sacred realm.” We discuss Karen Black, the cult actress, singer and Cass collaborator who died this year. ‘Big Wheel...’ is dedicated to Black’s memory and her contribution is an unfathomably pretty version of the sandpaperdry ‘Brighter!’ on the second disc, matching Cass’ version on the first. “Oh man, she sounds beautiful. Hilarious too.” As I ask more about love, another impeccably-coiffed woman-and-dog pairing appears. The dog sniffs at our ankles. “There’s courtly love, then godly love with the esoteric. I try to combine the two. Relationships are a way to explore people’s depraved nature. Love is good to talk about, not to sing about.” We’ve landed at the paradox that Cass constantly inhabits: he gives generously through his music but is otherwise reticent stingy, even. “We’re digging ideas up from the bowels of existence through conversation. Me sitting here saying shit about my life won’t help anyone. I just want a real human interaction. Isn’t that good enough?” He’s about to get one. The lady’s dog is between his trainers. “Miss Tuppence! Come back,” the lady is insistent. “Great name. Has she found my roach? Oh no, it’s a crisp.” Cass joins Miss Tuppence on the floor. “Is it my roach? Don’t eat that.” ‘Big Wheel And Others’ is released on Domino Recording Co. on 14th October.

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Pure GeNIuS! Unlock your inner creative with Rob Da Bank and Innocent Inspires... Whatever inspires you – be it music, words or pictures – the final evening of smoothie makers’ Innocent Inspires series was designed to get your juices flowing. The evening, all about creativity, happened on 1st October in the Innocent Gallery at Shoreditch Studios. Led by

DJ, promoter and visionary Rob Da Bank, acclaimed graphic artist Kate Moross and poet Benjamin Zephaniah, it featured a host of creative genii talking passionately about what inspires them. The event was the last in the immersive Innocent Inspires series, which started earlier this summer and saw the likes of Olympic

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rower James Cracknell, Michelin-starred chef Ollie Dabbous, model Laura Bailey and Innocent cofounder Richard Reed all discuss topics close to their heart. Above all, the nights deliver lots of inspiration. To watch videos from the evenings or find out more information, please visit inspires.innocentdrinks.co.uk the-Fly.co.uk


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FIVE IN MIND:yuck With ‘Glow & Behold’ out this month, Max Bloom reveals five sources of inspiration... Words W ill F itzpatrick Portrait T om O ldham

It’s been two and a half years since Yuck’s fuzz-pop debut hit the shelves. They’ve experienced a fair bit of upheaval during that time - most notably the departure of singer Daniel Blumberg, though guitarist Max Bloom has stepped up to frontman duties. Max apologises for being a little distracted during our interview, and indeed doesn’t exactly come across as a man who spent much of his youth interviewing himself on the toilet (a common problem amongst 21st century indie types). He’s charmingly polite, however, cheerfully sharing the things that helped to shape Yuck’s second LP ‘Glow & Behold’… 1. HAVING MY OWN STUDIO “For the most part, the record was written in my studio in Stoke Newington - I like to write and record at the same time, so I like to have all my stuff there, like my amps and whatever. I think I’m most comfortable in my own personal world.” 2. STAYING FOCUSED “When Daniel left, it wasn’t really unexpected. It was a long time coming, so we didn’t really have to change or adapt. We just had to finish writing the album. I’d started it before the first was released, so it was just like, ‘Carry on!’. It felt quite emotional, obviously, but we’re a tightknit group, so it didn’t really feel like that much had changed.” 3. MY INSTINCTS “The songs aren’t necessarily about anything direct; I write more in an instinctive way. I guess with every song the meaning is more

apparent afterwards. I think phrasing is really important - it’s one thing to be a good lyricist, it’s another to write lyrics that sound good when you’re singing them. It’s about striking a balance between the two, I guess. I try not to overthink it - I don’t think you should ever think ‘Hmm, I’m gonna write a song about this!’ You’ve got to start with an image and let it unravel from there.” 4. GETTING OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE “The first album was very influenced by a handful of bands, and I didn’t really listen to anything else. It was a really intense period of obsession and discovery, and it was very exciting. Once you discover a sound that really appeals to you, you’re safe in that zone. I guess with this album I wanted to see what it would be like to not be confined by certain things, and I started listening to a lot of Burt Bacharach, Mercury Rev and Cocteau Twins.” 5. HARUKI MURAKAMI “I was reading quite a lot of Murakami - ‘Kafka On The Shore’ is my favourite. I started with that, and none of his other books matched up. With the album I guess I wanted to create a world you could get immersed in. Murakami’s an expert at doing that - you really get into his world and forget your own. I just love his writing, it’s really funny and intriguing. And the way he describes food is really appetising; I really like that.” ‘Glow & Behold’ is out now on Pharmacy/Fat Possum.

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A portrait O f

Elliott Smith Ten years ago this month, Elliott Smith passed away. He was just 34. Here, friend and producer Larry Crane gives Jazz Monroe an unique insight on what he was like to know...

Larry Crane met Elliott Smith through artistically inclined friends in Portland, Oregon - America’s post-Seattle Mecca for those of artistic inclination - where together they founded Jackpot! Studios. It was late 1996, a time when hip-hop had usurped indie-rock and grunge as the hipster fetish of choice, and when Smith - prolific, healthy and decidedly un-hip-hop - was transitioning between the just-recorded ‘Either/Or’, his lo-fi masterpiece, and commercial breakthrough ‘XO’. Like all Smith’s friendships, theirs moved gradually. Crane’s first impression of the shy singer-songwriter was of an obsessive, low-key figure, a craftsman distinguishable by his diligence. It was a talent that, only months later, would garner unexpected worldwide attention. But for now Smith’s whispered wordstorms brewed in pokey bars and clubs, away from spotlights that allowed no ambiguity, and from the 1998 Oscars ceremony, where to millions he calmly performed ‘Miss Misery’, his career-changing contribution to ‘Good Will Hunting’. ‘Miss Misery’’s loss to ‘My Heart Will Go On’ surprised no-one, unlike the nomination, which surprised everyone. Hardly prime Oscar the-fly.co.uk

bait, Smith’s unique songwriting gift was to gently dredge up the tangled psychological roots that bind love, empathy and addiction. But if it seemed unorthodox, the nod did give Smith deserved crossover potential. His music resisted sadsack stereotyping, its capacity to depress elegantly supplanted by the stimulating joy and energy in its creation. Back during the Jackpot! period, Smith had already shorn his smalltown Dallas roots to thrive in Portland’s artistic scene, a place where open-mindedness and gender politics took precedence over the patches on your rucksack. In social situations, Smith would just as often observe as engage with friends, not exactly absent but somewhat distractible, not exactly creepy but maybe a little intimidating maybe a little weird, in the way of a profoundly detached author. Onstage, however, Smith captivated – he was a timid yet magnetic presence with a knack for silencing packed clubs. “The fact he could command an audience so well was interesting,” Crane recalls, “because if he was in a group of people, he wasn’t the loud one. He wasn’t begging for attention. He couldn’t have cared less if he got attention, as far as I could tell.”

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“PEOPLE HAVE AN IMAGE OF A MOPEY LITTLE BARD, BUT HE WAS A REAL GETTHINGS-DONE PERSON...”

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ate ’90s Portland was not somewhere a promising musician could background himself. And yet, despite moving in similar circles, Smith and Crane didn’t meet until mutual friend Rebecca Gates - of Sub Popsigned duo the Spinanes - matched up their separate plans to build a studio. After days’ driving over town in a blue Toyota pickup, the newly-acquainted pair found in Southeast Portland what would become Jackpot! studios, a decrepit $500-per-month commercial space. It was Smith’s experience as a handyman that enabled Jackpot!’s speedy renovation. “Elliott knew how to do drywall, mudding and all that stuff,” Crane says. “We were in there framing walls and painting and doing all that work. He was very good at it. People have some goofy image of him as a mopey little bard, but he was a real get-things-done kind of person.” That wasn’t Smith’s defining characteristic, however. “I know a lot of [his friends] point out that he was funny, but that’s the truth, man. Elliott was always making jokes. You know how they have the control room window in a studio? After we put that in, he’d do that trick where you walk by and you scrunch down and it looks like you’re going downstairs. He also had this goofy electronic Casio guitar, with a rubber neck, really weird thing. He used to walk around with it on the funky crab setting and play these ‘Superstition’ kind of riffs.” The studio became a “testing ground” the-fly.co.uk

for Smith’s embryonic ideas. Pivotal midcareer songs like ‘Baby Britain’, ‘Miss Misery’ and ‘Waltz #1’ spawned at Jackpot!, often recorded by Smith - an accomplished omniinstrumentalist - to unlabelled tape, all but forgotten until Crane raided the vaults to compile 2007 rarities compilation ‘New Moon’. “We were both in there all the time,” Crane said of the arrangement, “but he must’ve come in late at night. You’d find him sleeping on the couch or something. [Laughs.] He needed a bath.” Within six months, he’d packed his guitars and set off. After a brief stint in Brooklyn, Smith - encouraged by his new label Dreamworks - relocated to LA, nearer the Hollywood thrills of ‘Miss Misery’’s success, as well as certain less desirable influences. Surprisingly, relentless interviews aside, Smith seemed to enjoy the luxuries his Oscar nomination afforded: modest recognition, organisational assistance and a neat studio with 24-track recorders. But was he proud of the official nod? “I don’t think he gave a shit,” Crane says, chuckling. “To be honest, it just probably looked like more work. He wasn’t the kind of person to get terribly excited.”

F

or a while Smith remained in touch. As well as buying Crane a mixing board so indulgently huge it wouldn’t fit through Jackpot!’s door, he flew the producer to LA to hang out and witness ‘XO’’s recording. “We

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elliott smith went to Troubadour one night and saw [atonal post-hardcore band] Unwound,” says Crane. “And that was hilarious. I remember leaving that club and Elliott was really distraught. I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he’s like, ‘You can’t ignore melody!’ He had his views on music...” Crane’s “treasured” LA visit turned out to be his and Smith’s last meaningful meet-up. During promo for ‘Figure 8’ - Dreamworks’ idea of a potential hit, warranting a massive touring schedule - stories trickled through of Smith’s terminal decline, of his escaping rehab after a staged intervention and, most worryingly, running off a cliff, only for a tree to intercept his fall. Half-aware of all this, Crane got the call to help finalise Smith’s proposed magnum opus, a deeply personal double-album addressing his anger, depression and abusive childhood with renewed clarity. “We’d kinda lost touch, post-‘Figure 8’,” Crane explains. “And the only time we talked in that period was kind of odd conversations, where he wasn’t maybe being quite himself. So I got a call from his girlfriend at the time, Jennifer [Chiba], and then talked to Elliott. And the query was whether I’d like to come down

and help finish up ‘From A Basement On The Hill’. I said, ‘Sure’, but I was a little nervous.” Why nervous? “Oh, I’d heard stories, et cetera, about where he was at with his life. I didn’t want to go down there and not be working and not be paid to work. And at that point, he and Jennifer guaranteed that I’d be taken care of regardless. I talked to Elliott about what we were gonna do; they were gonna put me up in their house and we’d go down and work in their studio...” That trip never materialised. Nowadays, Crane functions as archivist to Smith’s estate, trapped in his tragic friend’s history (“I always wish I could just turn to him and say, ‘Fuck this, d’you wanna go get a beer?’”). But at the time, which Crane recalls with grim reluctance, things looked faintly promising. “Somebody gave me recordings of some live shows. When I heard some songs that were probably gonna be on there, I was like, ‘This’ll be good!’ And, you know, yeah. Ten days before I was about to fly down...” Here he trails off, done remembering; Smith’s was a rich existence, and yet for Crane - like the rest of us - only one syllable remains: “Huh.”

Five Essential Elliott Smith Songs

‘Needle In The Hay’

‘Between The Bars’

(from ‘Elliott Smith’, on Kill Rock Stars/Domino Recording Co., 1995)

(from ‘Either/Or’, on Kill Rock Stars/Domino Recording Co., 1997)

Smith often used drug symbolism to explore a fruitless search for spiritual fulfilment. ‘Needle In The Hay’ is a fine early example - deep, simple, and delivered in a deadpan rasp that conveyed the ordinariness of his problems.

Sung to a stargazing alcoholic from the perspective of his bottle, ‘Between The Bars’ woozes along ambiguously, demonstrating in endlessly interpretable terms that love and addiction hum to the same alluring, abusive tune.

‘Angeles’

‘Waltz #2 (XO)’

‘King’s Crossing’

(from ‘Either/Or’, on Kill Rock Stars/Domino Recording Co., 1997)

(from ‘XO’ on DreamWorks, 1998)

(from ‘From A Basement On The Hill’, on ANTI-/Domino Recording Co., 2004)

Featured on ‘Good Will Hunting’ alongside ‘Miss Misery’ and ‘Between The Bars’, ‘Angeles’ is a music industry lament packed with eerily perceptive lyrics; “Go on lose the gamble/ That’s the history of the trade” feels particularly prophetic of Smith’s fate.

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One way of condensing Smith’s philosophy would be to say: most things that are beautiful are also useless, and confusing, and that’s fine. A chorus of, “I’m never gonna know you now/But I’m gonna love you anyhow” says it neatly on this matriarchal ballad.

There’s a skinprickling moment on ‘King’s Crossing’, Smith’s final masterpiece: after he yells “Give me one good reason not to do it!”, Jennifer Chiba is dubbed in, muttering, “Because I love you.” With the line recorded, Smith turned to Chiba and proposed.

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a lb u m of the month

Arcade Fire ‘Reflektor’

HHHH

(Sonovox/Mercury)

As their stuffed Grammys-cabinet shows, Arcade Fire are the reigning monarchs of Big Music. Yet the Canadians’ fourth album makes their massive music even massiver: ‘Reflektor’ is a widerthan-widescreen, 70-minute, two-disc odyssey. The need for a big canvas lies within the subject matter. ‘Reflektor’ is about opposites and conflicts: Celebrity vs. anonymity. Memory vs. the moment. Mortality vs. immortality. And while the themes are enough for an A-Level project, the music is a whole syllabus of styles. This is partly because production is split between long-time collaborator Markus Dravs and the walking-ArcadeFire-antithesis that is James Murphy. The latter’s influence is felt most explicitly on ‘Porno’, the-fly.co.uk

mid-way through the second disc: Win Butler’s desperate and sincere vocals (“When I reach for you/You say you’re over it”) are pitted against a sparse backdrop of stuttering drum and sleazy bass that sounds skimmed off LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Dance Yourself Clean’. It’s gawky, but comfortable. There are reams of trivia to be navigated, too. David Bowie performs backing vocals on the title track, while the unlikeliest cameo comes from Jonathan Ross, who introduces the equally-unlikely tropical ditty ‘You Already Know’. Meanwhile, ‘Flashbulb Eyes’ dabbles with dub, ‘Awful Sound’ resembles an ‘Abbey Road’ pastiche, and ‘Normal Person’ sounds like Primal Scream. It’s this diversity that makes ‘Reflektor’ more than a curios. While it’s too long, its scale immerses you entirely in Arcade Fire’s universe. And, let’s face it, they had to make their own. Ours is no longer big enough. JJ Dunning Download: ‘Reflektor’, ‘We Exist’ ‘Normal Person’, ‘Awful Sound’, ‘It’s Never Over’.

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Korey Ritchie

David Bowie, Jonathan Ross and a double album of labyrinthine proportions…


Dousing the ‘fire: Win, Regine and co. take the plunge.

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Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Something burrowed, something blue? Anna Calvi’s newie will get under your skin.

Anna Calvi ‘One Breath’

HHHH (Domino Recording Co.)

Instrumentalist’s subtle second veers from powerful to spooky... When Anna Calvi’s self-titled debut appeared offering a noir underworld of dark desire it was impossible to resist being dragged down with her. Her second effort, ‘One Breath’, is a somewhat subtler affair, harnessing the power of quieter tones. Rarely does she unleash her voice’s full, roaring capacity and that virtuosic guitar rests comparatively idle save for when it’s taking centre stage in fierce crescendos or St. Vincent-esque solo screeches. ‘One Breath’ is nevertheless a work of great power which heads in some interesting directions. the-fly.co.uk

Lamenting fading memories, ‘Piece By Piece’ sees breathy vocals layered over electronic glitches. Panting and growling, the grungy, wild ‘Love Of My Life’ will do nothing to allay the PJ Harvey comparisons that have followed Calvi relentlessly, but that’s no bad thing. Showcasing the sumptuous layering she excels at, ‘Bleed Into Me’’s spooky metallic echo sounds like it was dreamt up by Angelo Badalamenti for the Twin Peaks soundtrack, as does eerie choral closer ‘The Bridge’. ‘One Breath’ lacks the overwhelming force of her earlier material, but given time it will surely burrow under your skin. Sophie Thomsett Download: ‘Piece By Piece’, ‘Bleed Into Me’, ‘The Bridge’

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a lb u m r e vi e w s

Best Coast

Blouse

Botany

‘Fade Away’

‘Imperium’

HHH

HHHH

‘Lava Diviner (Truestor y)’

(Jewel City/ Kobalt)

(Captured Tracks)

Bethany Cosentino is worried. Again. She recently said “It scares me that something bad is going to happen” to her band. As well as career issues, this mini-album near buckles under emotional baggage and selfindulgence - the sort of thing your dad would say “pull yourself together” about. When Bethany sang about weed and cats, even her moaning was fun. Now, following the sombre ‘The Only Place’ LP, it’s cloyingly depressing. The enjoyably fluffy, pacy tunes here match Best Coast’s debut, but the content makes you want to scream ‘Get a fucking life and chill out’ at the speakers. Ben Homewood Download: ‘This Lonely Morning’

HHHHn

(Western Vinyl)

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

Blouse’s woozy, 2011 debut may have been a blogger’s wet dream, but in ‘Imperium’ the Portland trio have emerged from the sonic mist into far more satisfying terrain. With a more ‘traditional’ band set-up in place (guitars, rather than synths, are the order of the day), singer Charlie Hilton’s Nico-esque vocal has a foil to play off. Rather than dreamy layers, now there are spikes and soft textures that work cleverly with and against each other. ‘In A Glass’ and ‘Capote’ are prime examples; whilst bass and drums rumble and crash behind, Hilton couldn’t sound more pure if she tried. Lisa Wright

In his quest for a sound that’s “sci-fi and epic and holy all at the same time”, Texan producer Spencer Stephenson takes Flying Lotus’ school of third eyeopening hip-hop as his sacred text. He proves a sturdy disciple, too (Brainfeeder’s own RYAT even makes a brief cameo); ‘Anchor’ pitting its wispy atmospherics against muscular boom-bap beats, and ‘Celeste’ making fine use of some mournful string samples. At times the record lacks the freewheeling exuberance of Brainfeeder’s best releases, verging (a bit) on background music for discerning stoners, bust mostly this is a dreamy, gently rhapsodic debut. Alex Denney

It’s six years since ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ raged against trends and hype but Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip are still tirelessly pumping messages into their music. Whilst opener ‘Stunner’ broaches a break-up, later the duo tackle weightier themes. The jittery ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ is said to be Pip’s last political song, whilst on the Flux Pavilionfeaturing ‘Gold Teeth’, consumerism is put under the microscope. All well and good, save for one snag - does anyone still care enough about these two to take any heed? Rhian Daly

Download: ‘Capote’

Download: ‘Celeste’

Download: ‘Stunner’

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‘Repent Replenish Repeat’

HHH (Sunday Best)

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a lb u m r e vi e w s

Darkside ‘Psychic’

HHHH (Other People/ Matador)

Future Of The Left ‘How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident’

HHHHHn

You walk towards the dancefloor. It’s glass walled and half-empty. You’re refused entry. Those inside are expensively-outfitted and intellectual. You’re looking at Darkside’s ‘Psychic’. Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s songs crackle and burn, morphing between pretentious brainiacs and liquid-hipped, polo-necked lotharios. ‘Psychic’ is perfectly executed, impenetrable. Merely listening is impossible - it forces itself upon you. Lazy house and Mark Knopfler guitar writhe nimbly, heightening your senses. You’d dismiss it as an album for pretentious cunts, if it didn’t make you want to be one so much. Ben Homewood

British music’s misanthrope laureate Andy Falkous here emerges as a songwriter of superior charm and wit. The now-quartet’s fourth record marries prickly melody with glossy discord. On ‘The Male Gaze’ there’s newfound anthemry, on album-maker ‘French Lessons’, fresh vulnerability. But best is ‘Singing on the Bonesaws’, weaving together vignettes on religion, reality TV, music industry and chauvinist culture in a rant that’s literate enough to scorch the balls off your average lit-grad smirkersongwriter. Jazz Monroe

Download: ‘The Only Shrine I’ve Seen’

Download: ‘Singing on the Bonesaws’

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(Pledge Music)

Gambles ‘Trust’

Glasser ‘Interiors’

HHH

HHHHn

(Secretly Canadian)

(Matador)

‘Trust’ is the sound of hollow things emptying out. It preaches a philosophy that postbreakup life - like studio polish, electric instruments and fancy rhymes - is, well, completely shit. Such is the nature of remorse, here set loose on an album that paints in sombre strokes New Yorker Matthew Siskin’s losing his marriage, unborn child, and very nearly his sanity. Accordingly, these stark Cohen-esque ballads gravitate towards the symbolic; unadorned but enticing, notably lucid on the staggering ‘You Are Truth’. While you’d rather take ‘Trust’ for a pint than invite it to your room, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Jazz Monroe

Glasser is the newage pop project of LA resident Cameron Mesirow - think Björk for people who shop vegan at Whole Foods, for themselves and their pet dogs. ‘Interiors’, while doing little to push on from her debut, feels aptly named given Mesirow’s ear for elegant, modernist arrangements; shuffling instrumental parts about like furniture in a quest for aural feng shui. ‘Keam’s Theme’ and the luminous ‘Divide’ offer striking examples of these talents, and if some of the record is a bit like tasteful wallpaper, for the most part it’s enough to stand back and exclaim, ‘I love what you’ve done with the place!” Alex Denney

Download: ‘You Are Truth’

Download: ‘Keam’s Theme’

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Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Trunk and in charge: Cass McCombs (left) and a tree (right). .

Cass McCombs ‘Big Wheel And Others’ HHHHH n(Domino Recording Co.) Sprawling-yet-digestible double LP from Californian enigma... Cass McCombs is desperate that this 22-song opus isn’t given the proggy and leaden label of a ‘double album’ and, to his credit, it’s surprisingly light and digestible. Spoken-word doodles, jazzy character studies and shuffling folk take up the most room here, but McCombs is careful to not waste too much of the epic running time with filler and noodling. It’s most successful when he’s at his most barflown, like on the delightfully skew-whiff ‘The Burning Of The Temple, 2012’. If it’s occasionally uneven and unwieldy then, well, that’s not his fault.

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It’s a massively impressive undertaking. Even if the intention was to shun any notion of a unifying concept or thread of lyrical cohesion, there’s an indelible McCombs stamp throughout. ‘Home On The Range’ is the zenith, a languorous, luxurious tour bus singalong of epic vision and ghostly proclamations - “I believe in stealing, because we cannot possess anything,” he whispers, like a man completely unencumbered by the rules of polite society. ‘Big Wheel And Others’ is not to be consumed in one go - it’s a really long list of songs perhaps too lavish for that. But what richly rewarding, flourishing, beautiful songs they are. Daniel Ross Download: ‘The Burning Of The Temple, 2012’, ‘Home On The Range’, ‘Written In Water’

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“Anyone got any idea where we’re going?”: Yuck drive on.

Yuck ‘Glow & Behold’

HHH (Pharmacy/Fat Possum)

With the captain overboard, where do the crew go from here? The departure of a band member is not usually ideal. Even worse when it’s your frontman, and when that frontman writes a lot of the songs you’re pretty much up shit creek. That Yuck have soldiered on after Daniel Blumberg upped sticks is commendable. However, ‘Glow & Behold’ hints that the wispy singer

lo-fi affairs. ‘Memorial Fields’ and ‘Somewhere’ will

New’ is, ironically, actually one of the most laudably adventurous tracks. It’s all perfectly good, but a few years after the lo-fi re-revolution threatened to put producers out of work, ‘Glow & Behold’ risks sounding like one of many. There are attempts at innovation, namely the (previously inconceivable) inclusion of brass on ‘How Does It Feel’, but it’s often missing some spark. For all their denim and distortion pedals, Yuck 1.0 had something fiery about them. Now they’re steering their ship without the requisite combination of captain and first mate, it unfortunately feels like no-one really knows how to read the maps. Lisa Wright

be universally described as “hazy”, whilst ‘Nothing

Download: ‘Nothing New’, ‘Out Of Time’, ‘Memorial Fields’

was an ingredient that gave the band real bite. While ‘Glow…’ is by no means bad, the likes of ‘Lose My Breath’ and ‘Middle Sea’ are familiarly

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a lb u m r e vi e w s

Islet ‘Released By The Movement’

HHHn

(Shape Records)

Lee Ranaldo of Montreal ‘Lousy With & The Dust Silvianbriar’

‘Last Night On Earth’

HH

HHH

(Polyvinyl)

(Matador)

It’s been five years since the last Beck album, so it’s about time someone made one, and of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes does a decent job as the acceptable face of Scientology. ‘Fugitive Air’ reminds us of the magic of ‘Mellow Gold’, while ‘Triumph Of Disintegration’ is as funky and freaky as a mini ‘Midnite Vultures’. Barnes even has a bash at being Bob Dylan on ‘Belle Glade Missionaries’. The problem with ‘Lousy With Sylvianbriar’ is that it sounds like of Montreal are trying to be something they’re not. They’re better off being themselves, because this album ain’t where it’s at. Robert Cooke

Islet want to save us, though it’s no longer clear from what, exactly. You got their mission on debut ‘Illuminated People’, a masterclass in mind-opening ebullience which sounded like a toy factory raining down on the playground. But the follow-up’s a head-fuck that flings your mind wide open, mutates grotesquely and beams up yammering space-aliens, who hire a search team of castrato funk pixies to locate your marbles. Moments in ‘Triangulation Station’, ‘Carlos’ and ‘Rip Bark’ form some twisted key to the record’s heart, but elsewhere it all translates to grimly enjoyable nonsense. Jazz Monroe

“I wait for the revolution to come,” sings Lee Ranaldo. “Every night I think it’s here and then it’s gone.” It’s the closest ‘Last Night On Earth’ comes to political rhetoric - most lyrics blur complex themes like colours on the spectrum, but nonetheless, the moments of clarity indicate a record that yearns for change. Expanding on the warmth of last LP ‘Between The Times And The Tides’, tracks like ‘Lecce, Leaving’ see the Sonic Youth legend searching for wider, more open spaces; fluid guitars reaching towards the sky as through trying to grasp at clouds. Will Fitzpatrick

Download: ‘Carlos’

Download: ‘Home Chrds’

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Download: ‘Triumph Of Disintegration’

Omar Souleyman ‘Wenu Wenu’

HHHH (Domino Recording Co.) As Syria deals with a fairly comprehensive political and humanitarian headache, the country’s foremost purveyor of Dabke dance continues, unaffected in his quest to expatriate his unique wedding music. And thanks to the sheer joy with which he performs it (produced here for the first time by Kieran Hebden), it’s irresistibly satisfying. Previous songs by Souleyman have tended to be about an aggrandised, dramatic loss of love and its subsequent effect on him, but these songs could be about absolutely anything and you’d still dance yourself insane. Daniel Ross Download: ‘Warni Warni’

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a lb u m r e vi e w s

PAPA

Poliça

‘Tender Madness’

‘Shulamith’

HHHn

HHHH

LA’s PAPA are having a stab at The Killers’ much-maligned pomp rock on their first fulllength. Sure, barefooted ex-Girls man Darren Weiss is at the fore adding to the pull, but really his past escapades are a stylistic irrelevance: The Hold Steady’s Springsteenisms (‘Get Me Through The Night’) meet the early, ramshackle allure of tour chums Cold War Kids (‘Put Me To Work’), while the flagbearing artwork looks as ludicrous as anything Fred Durst ever sanctioned. Glowing organs, corporate adfriendly hooks and Hot Hot Heat-like dimensions make up the remainder of a solid, but ultimately invention-free listen. James West

With two albums of fastidious work already a part of his story, for his third, Johnny Flynn took a change of tact. Cutting demos that would later become the finished record, it’s a free-spirited approach that works in tandem with the LP’s theme of travel. Whilst of its 10 tracks take inspiration from foreign lands (like ‘Fol-de-rol’’s South American twang), others tackle different journeys. The gently lilting ‘Murmuration’ deals with escapism whilst a sparser, piano-led ‘Time Unremembered’ takes on a more final journey into the afterlife. But wherever he’s headed next, this is Flynn at his finest poetic, understated and beautiful. Rhian Daly

(What’s Your Rupture?)

by force. Singer Faith

Parquet Courts follow ‘Light Up Gold’, the tautest punk album of the year, with this EP. The rapid and rabid ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’, replete with wonky recorder, matches the velocity of that record, as does the hurtling ‘Descend (The Way)’. But this band of essayists and painters don’t take anything lightly; shoving out an EP of cobbledtogether off-cuts would be very un-PC. That’s why ‘The More It Works’ is an unfamiliar bass-led free-jam, and why closer ‘He’s Seeing Paths’ is nigh-on-eight minutes of pseudo hip-hop. A tantalising glimpse of where this sensational band might go next. JJ Dunning

rhyming couplets like

Download: ‘Get Me Through The Night’

Download: ‘Time Unremembered’

Download: ‘You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now’

(Sunny Side Up)

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(Memphis)

Parquet Courts

PINS ‘Girls Like Us’

HHHH

‘Tally All The Things That You Broke’ EP

(Bella Union)

HHHH

PINS deliver rock ‘n’ roll

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Holgate oozes cheap they’re the last lines you’ll hear before she slips the knife in, ‘Get With Me’ teeters on the edge of inanity before shoving you into fuzzy post-punk paradise, and it doesn’t matter that ‘Waiting For The End’ could have been written in 1976, because it’s here, and it’s now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. ‘Girls Like Us’ might be full of short, simple songs, but don’t underestimate PINS. They’ll leave you with the best black eye and bloody nose you’ve ever had. Robert Cooke Download: ‘Girls Like Us’


Hair today, gone tomorrow?: Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo.

Icona Pop ‘This Is… Icona Pop’

HHHn(Atlantic)

Is this the time of your life, or just David Guetta on the can? Icona Pop were always setting us up for disappointment. ‘I Love It’, their breakthrough single, is just too brilliant, isn’t it? A manic, maddening, mercilessly infectious piece of trashy teenage pop, casually dressed up in electro-punk clothing to lure you into its stupid, sweaty grip. It’s completely ridiculous, entirely meaningless, and one of the best pop songs of the century. Seriously, has there ever been a lyric so dumb and, at the same time, hilariously brilliant as, “You’re from the ‘70s, but I’m a ‘90s bitch”?

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Sorry, yes, the rest of the album… ‘Girlfriend’ is pretty good, with its bratty refrain - a simple story of friendship and youth, it’s quite moving in a totally over-the-top Swedish House sort of way. ‘On A Roll’ is good fun too, like if The Rapture made records for the Bling Ring to dance to. But then you’ve got ‘Ready For The Weekend’, which sounds like something David Guetta would thrash out on his iPhone while on the bog. Basically, you can listen to all eleven tracks of ‘This Is… Icona Pop’ and have a reasonable time, or you can put ‘I Love It’ on repeat, forever, and have the time of your fucking life. Robert Cooke Download: ‘I Love It’

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Sleigh what you see: Derek Edward Miller and Alexis Krauss.

Sleigh Bells ‘Bitter Rivals’ HHHH n(Mom + Pop) Sampled cow-moos meet slick electronic pop... Sleigh Bells are dominated by opposing forces. The thrash punk past of guitarist Derek E Miller and the pop pedigree of Alexis Krauss are still very much in evidence on their third album. For the most part it works a treat. ‘Minnie’ features Krauss’ sweet coo over volcanic beats trying to keep up with squalling guitar, while the head-pounding ‘Sing Like A Wire’ sounds like a steroid-pumped game show theme tune. Unlike 2012’s unlovable ‘Reign Of Terror’, there’s a sense of playfulness on show, specifically the-fly.co.uk

on the OTT title track and the ridiculous ‘Tiger Kit’ which features a sample of a cow mooing. But it’s not all about breaking speakers. Sleigh Bells are comfortable when the BPM lowers and ‘Bitter Rivals’ features a clutch of slick electronic pop songs. The insanely catchy ‘Young Legends’ is best, while ‘To Hell With You’ is practically a lighters-aloft heartbreak ballad. Closer ‘Love Sick’ throws off the shackles of the fuzzy guitars and cheap beats, bursting into a chorus of “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should”. You sense Sleigh Bells might have to take that advice on board when it comes to their next album, but for now it’s still deliciously entertaining.   Michael Cragg Download: ‘Minnie’, ‘Sing Like A Wire’, ‘Young Legends’

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a lb u m r e vi e w s

Quasi

Radkey

‘Mole City’

‘Devil Fruit’

HHHHn

HHHH

(Domino Recording Co.)

(Little Man Records)

Could it be the years Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss spent helping out more prominent bands that tainted Quasi with the scent of ‘side project’? Incredible, then, that 2013 represents the Portland duo’s twentieth anniversary. ‘Blasted’ is a raucous birthday highlight, while ‘Nostalgia Kills’ pulverises, Weiss’ tumbling, muscular drum rolls as thrilling as Coomes’ intense powerpop hooks. Alternating between exhilarating stompers and goofy piano-led pop, the twenty-fourstrong tracklisting may appear intimidating at first, but the band’s restored sense of purpose makes it richly rewarding. Will Fitzpatrick Download: ‘Blasted’

For a trio of brothers with an abstinence pact, Radkey make one hell of a filthy noise. Coming on like Drenge dosed up on the Misfits and buoyed by the added meat of an extra player, ‘Devil Fruit’ is a driving, punk snarl of a thing - all full-throttle guitars, crashing drums and lyrics about “a fire coming” (intoned by the baritone throb of singer Dee Radke). ‘Little Man’ uses the threechord punk formula to vitriolic effect, whilst ‘Overwhelmed’ is anything but shy. The whole thing overflows with ballsy confidence: this is one release you won’t be able to resist. Lisa Wright Download: ‘Overwhelmed’

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra ‘Blue Record’ EP

Wymond Miles ‘Cut Yourself Free’

HHHHn

HHHH

(Sacred Bones)

(Jagjaguwar)

Taking another break from The Fresh & Onlys’ flowery psych, Wymond Miles returns with another solo album. ‘The Ascension’ announces itself with subtly-woven guitars and moody chugs, before the whole thing explodes into a micro-drama of Suede proportions. In fact, the foppish vocal closely resembles the baroque grandiosity of ‘Dog Man Star’-era Brett Anderson; a conduit for glamorous trash and bruised romance. It’s the synthdrenched ‘Night Drives’ that steals the show, however, matching The Human League’s analogue futurism with an icy fabulousness that’s all Miles’ own. Will Fitzpatrick

Ruban Nielson’s soul is ragged. Eight months on from second album ‘II’, the acoustic ‘Blue Record’ heightens that release’s emotional rawness. Three of ‘II’’s best and two covers (Beck’s ‘Puttin It Down’ and Dirty Projectors’ ‘Swing Lo Magellan’) underline both vocal sweetness and mental fragility. ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’ is the outstanding cut, naked negativity and quivering willpower exacerbated by subtly deployed reverb. Nielson’s brilliant, dextrous playing and addled lyrical bravery are illuminated brighter than ever. Ben Homewood Download: ‘So Good At Being In Trouble’

Download: ‘Night Drives’

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The Cribs by Carolina Faruolo

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The Cribs London, Birthdays 27/08/2013

Wakefield’s biggest antiheroes cram into a tiny London basement... “We’ve never been the biggest band in the world,” beams a sweat-drenched Gary Jarman as the 280-or-so bodies packing out Birthdays’ basement flail around. “But the people that care about The Cribs really care about The Cribs”. Tonight, as the Wakefield brothers return to the basementvenue surrounds in which they thrive, midway through their tenth anniversary year, it’s clear that people really do care about The Cribs as much, if not more, than ever. But then The Cribs care about their fans right back. Rather than rest on their laurels, scooping up the profits of another academy tour, the Jarmans instead choose to do special, memorable things like this. And tonight truly is a special one. Entering to Karate Kid theme ‘You’re The Best’, the band deliver a set as exciting and triumphant as the intro would suggest. From the opening

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punk thrash of ‘Major’s Titling Victory’, it’s clear the Jarmans have prepared something a little different. They kick into the hipster-baiting anthemics of ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and recent single ‘Come On, Be A No-One’ and then… “We haven’t played this song in years. Every band has one song they hate, but everyone loves… I fucking hate this song,” and we’re into 2006 B-side ‘You’re Gonna Lose Us’. It’s a watershed moment in the night – from then on The Cribs offer staples and rarely-outed fan favourites alike, veering from first album gems (‘The Watch Trick’, ‘Direction’) to newies (‘Leather Jacket Love Song’) to bona fide classics (‘Men’s Needs’, ‘Mirror Kissers’). They end with a surprise thrash-through of ‘Third Outing’, and are immediately joined on stage by half the venue. Not the planet’s biggest band, then, but easily one of its most adored. Sarah Pope the-fly.co.uk


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MONEY by Alexander Bell

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MONEY London, The Bunker 22/08/2013

The exuberant Jamie Lee takes on an equally eccentric venue (and wins)... A handmade sign on the side of the road that simply reads ‘Money this way’ guides punters to a wet Dalston alleyway, nondescript save for a crowd of people drinking offy-bought booze and a transvestite doorman. Downstairs and inside is the smell of a wet library. The walls are clammy and the only light to illuminate the way to the home-made stage at the far end of the room comes from candles. MONEY, Manchester’s most convincing lunge at pop immortality in years, have elected this abandoned World War II bunker as the venue for two sold-out London shows as they celebrate the release of their debut album, ‘The Shadow Of Heaven’. It is, to be mild, a mysterious atmosphere. Because they’re such clear fans of enigma, it makes sense for their cherubic, heroicallyvoiced singer Jamie Lee to prick any pomposity from the outset, which he attempts to do by singing an unaccompanied recitative about finding paradise by lamplight, roughly kissing a bloke in the front row and

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chuckling between his gasping vocals. Stripped to the waist before the end of the second song (now with the rest of his band sensitively touring the album’s highlights), Lee hands his half-bottle of red wine to an appreciative audience member, who finishes it by the end of the fifth. Mystery has turned to magic, red light bulbs casting dim light on a band who relish their absurd and alchemical ability to make the cloyingly serious palatable, even essential. That cherubic voice is not MONEY’s strongest weapon – it’s that they manage to match it with wonderful songs.  While Lee yells the soon-to-be-yelled-back “Oh, there’s blood!” at the end of ‘Letter To Yesterday’, a lot of people in the audience are doing that thing where they peak their eyebrows in the middle because they’re not sure how to articulate the emotional effect the music is having on them. Arty twits, you might think, but how many bands can make a roomful of people do that? Daniel Ross the-fly.co.uk


1. Arctic Monkeys by Jennifer Ramsey Newhart, 2. Baby Strange by John Graham, 3. Fuck Buttons by Aisling Finn, 4. Janelle Monae by Stuart Leech

Arctic Monkeys London, Roundhouse 09/09/2013 Tonight, Arctic Monkeys are riding the crest of a wave taller than their frontman’s quiff. It’s the evening of new album ‘AM’’s release – a record touted as the album of the decade so far. Last decade they were arguably awarded the same title, for debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. In-between, meanwhile, they’ve produced three more – all number-one albums. And tonight? Tonight they offer up a neat tour through all five, presented in a venue they could sell out ten times over. From the opening thuds of sexy-as-hell single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’, a suited and booted Alex Turner and co brim over with confidence and charisma. Whether in the newer, riff-heavy likes of ‘Arabella’ and ‘R U Mine?’, the pranktastic stomp of ‘Don’t Sit Down ‘Cos I’ve Moved Your Chair’ and ‘Pretty Visitors’ or the-fly.co.uk

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the playful nods to their cheeky-chappy early days (‘Dancing Shoes’, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’), the band seem comfortable and at home with all their previous and current incarnations. Really, the only quibble with tonight is that – eleven years into their career – 90 minutes simply just isn’t enough to showcase all they have to offer. Charlie Kelly

Baby Strange London, Tipsy 12/09/2013 Of all the places you’d expect to hear a cover of Peter, Bjorn And John’s whistle-centric ‘Young Folks’, downstairs in the sweat-drenched Dalston basement where Glasgow’s most thrilling new band are playing is not one of them. But there it is, cutting Baby Strange’s set in half, transformed into a chugging punk anthem and momentarily mistakable as one of their own songs. Beforehand, the trio have already got those crammed into the tiny room frothing with short,

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sharp bolts of blistering urgency. ‘Never Enough’ finds frontman Johnny Madden snarling lines like “She never thought I’d be a big deal,” with all the conviction and fury of a man previously scorned. As the crowd gets rowdier and the sweat drips faster, so too do Baby Strange hit their stride. ‘Friend’, the single being celebrated tonight, is even more exhilarating live, and ‘VVV’ brings a darker streak lashing across the room as Johnny sings “she just violates me”. The surf intro of ‘Nude‘ lightens things up a bit before ‘Want It/Need It‘ closes proceedings in a fittingly chaotic manner. If there were any doubts about just how exciting Baby Strange really are, tonight they will have been eradicated, replaced by a concrete assurance that they’re one of the brightest hopes we’ve got. Rhian Daly

Fuck Buttons Dublin, The Button Factor y 14/09/2013 Temporarily rebranded

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‘The Fuck Button Factory’, Dublin’s streakiest live venue reverberates with a towering, pulsating stream of battering triprock. ‘Brainfreeze’ opens a set heavy on beats from Fuck Buttons’ latest ‘Slow Focus’. It launches a droning, industrial barrage of driven, borderline-danceable bleeps in which Andy Hung, Ben Power and their silhouettes poke through a wiry assortment of stage clutter like unwelcome additions to a slowbuilding robot orgy. Fuck Buttons’ clanging highs are offset by the hum of their less peaky output. ‘Surf Solaris’ offers the poppy buzz next to ‘Colours Move’’s torturous industrial glare, their Tetris-soundtrack sonics offset by tinges of rave culture in those lengthy, metallic beat tracks. It’s all delivered at a volume high enough to add a layer of mild discomfort. While ‘Slow Focus’ carries themes of desolate intensity throughout, the vibrant, instrument-bashing single-mindedness of the band’s live set orbits a deeper, altogether darker force. The set


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truly sparkles in those moments when the fog subsides and the bass flicks up one more notch – it’s here where raw solace can be found in Fuck Buttons’ twisting soundscapes. James Hendicott

Janelle Monáe London, Roundhouse 14/09/13 Tonight, London’s Roundhouse has been

transformed into a palace of black and white. On stage, Monáe and her band Wondaland - an appropriate name, given the extravagant décor – are sartorially on point, wearing exclusively black and white apparel. When she arrives on stage, Janelle commands maximum attention. Even tonight’s headliner - Nile Rodgers of Chic fame - is spotted amongst the other photographers taking photos from the pit.

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‘Dance Apocalyptic’ thrusts Monáe immediately forward to her adoring crowd - snapping beats, a plethora of hand claps and high-octane organ bursts all combine to create all kinds of wonda ful. Although she’s here primarily to promote her critically-acclaimed new second album ‘The Electric Lady’, there’s room for debut-albumstomper ‘Tightrope’ and an impressive take on ‘I Want You Back’.

Reverting to new material, a sweet, uplifting performance of ‘Electric Lady’ (though her on-record buddy Solange is sadly not present) leads us ecstatically into ‘Come Alive’, tonight’s finale. An infusion of rockabilly beats and bass leads The Roundhouse into ultimate hysteria. It’s all up there in black and white: R’N’B has never sounded so sweet. Frazer Lawton the-fly.co.uk


F I L M

filth HHHH Starring: James McAvoy, Imogen Poots, Jamie Bell Director: Jon S. Baird Studio: Lionsgate Release Date: 4th October Before he gave us parachuting monarchs, Danny Boyle ushered in a new era of UK filmmaking in 1996’s “Trainspotting”, proving our domestic movie industry the-fly.co.uk

wasn’t just about corsets and Hugh Grant bumbling. Now the mind behind that storyIrvine Welsh- has had another of his novels adapted, 1998’s ‘Filth’. James McAvoy stars as Bruce, pretty much the worst copper you could ever dream up. Bigoted, egotistical and obsessed with ‘The Games’ (his name for the many ways he plots and derails the lives of his colleagues), the Detective Sergeant drinks, snorts and shags his way around Edinburgh, stopping

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only to scheme his way into a much-sought-after promotion. As his mind unravels, however, secrets from his past come to light, and his faint grip on reality threatens to vanish. Presented in the same inyour-face style, ‘Filth’ doesn’t shy away from, or attempt to emulate ‘Trainspotting’, and wallows in its own protagonist’s scorched psychology. There’s a sharp comedown in the film’s final third that hits you as hard as it does Bruce- there’s no easy


br u c e a lmig h ty Star James McAvoy on why he wanted to get filthy...

Why he wanted to be in the film: “I was immediately aware that if I didn’t get this part, I’d be gutted. Partly because it was really bold and brave… there’s not a lot of bravery that comes my way in the film industry.”

Preparing for the part and not being ‘methody’: “I tried to get really heavy for it. I did try, but my body rejected it after a while. I drank a hell of a lot, because for one thing I had an excuse to feel like shit! It’s not a ‘methody’ thing at all, because I don’t do that, but it was kind of useful to come into work every day feeling like I hate everything.”

answers in Jon S. Baird’s film, just escalating madness and evaporating morality. The surrealism and hedonism will polarise audiences at the film’s end, but it’s a hell of a fun ride to that point. In taking this risky role (he’s a confirmed X-Man, after all), McAvoy may have just produced his finest cinematic moment to date - Bruce is loathsome and yet so compelling, you’re with him right up to the (very) bitter end. He’s bolstered by strong support actors, some

underused (such as Imogen Poots’ straight-laced work rival) and some you won’t forget (where else could you see Jamie Bell -Billy Elliot! - dunk his face in coke, Scarface style?). It’s a departure from the source material, for sure, but taken on its own merits, ‘Filth’ is an ambitious, jet-black comedy that has you laughing when you shouldn’t, and gasping when you should. British cinema with balls and a sizeable bar tab.

Enjoying the ‘filth’: “The thing I enjoyed most was taking these things that most people don’t say, or do, and… hopefully at the same time making you guys stay with it - maybe enjoy it, maybe find it funny.”

James Luxford

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Editor: JJ Dunning Deputy Editor: Ben Homewood Associate Editor (Online): Alex Denney Live Editor: Lisa Wright Art Editor: Russ Moorcroft Staff Photographer: Tom Oldham Staff Writers: Daniel Ross, Michael Cragg, Rob Cooke, Will Fitzpatrick. Photographers: Tom Andrew, Tom Bunning, Shari Denson, Jim Eyre, Louise HaywoodSchiefer, Sakura Henderson, Gideon

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Who: Toddla T & Roses Gabor for Bacardi Beginnings’ Beats Per Minute Project When: 01/08/2013 Where: Arcadium Studios, Notting Hill, London

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