The Mic: Issue 47

Page 1





interview and live review


The Mic Issue 47 with special thanks to... The Committee

Tristan Phipps Lucy Gray Cameron Chadwick Daisy Carter Ben Standring Lara Gelmetti Bethan Fletcher Michael Clarke


President Vice President Editor in Chief Editor Communications Secretary Marketing and Social Media Marketing and Social Media Treasurer

Jase Neal Kajal Bains

contributors Robyn Walford Abby Clarke Alana Mckenna

Emilio Cruzalegui Sean Hubbard

musicians/interviewees Sundara Karma whenyoung DMA’s The Amazons

Mac Demarco Cassia Catfish and the Bottlemen


Particular thanks goes to Abby Clarke, Alana Mckenna, Emilio Cruzalegui for their contributions with The Mic over the past few years, as both dedicated writers and hardworking committee members. Everyone from The Mic wishes you all the best of luck in your future ventures. Cover photo image source: Sofia Dolferus Photography And to all labels, venues, managers, promoters and PR companies who provided us with gig, interview and promotional opportunities. Our next magazine (Issue 48) is due for release in September Join The Mic for just ÂŁ4 for the year! /TheMicNotts



Notes from the President: What a year it’s been for both The Mic and the Nottingham music scene. Whether it was the UoN alumni Don Broco taking the Motorpoint by storm, or the ‘not for the faint hearted’ duo of The Courteeners and Gerry Cinnamon doing their best to break Rock City’s 40-year-old floor- this year had excitement at every twist and turn. A personal highlight was the Unicef X The Mic show earlier this year: easily our biggest and best to date, raising over £850 for Unicef while showcasing some of the most exciting new talent that Nottingham and Birmingham has to offer. But even as the academic year slowly draws to a close, I’m proud to address our final print edition with a positive look to the future. The dark tunnel of exams will be cleared almost as soon as it was entered, meaning only one thing: festival season is upon us.In this magazine,the new Mic committee will give their two cents on some of the country’s (and Belgium’s) hottest line-ups, alongside reviews of Catfish and Mac Demarco’s new albums. Notably, our cover story sees vice-president Lucy Gray sitting down with Australia’s hottest exports DMA’s, whilst our feature interview comes from Reading rockers The Amazons. The expansion of our magazine over the last 12 months has been magnificent to see, and wonderful to be a part of. Not only has it been incredibly exciting to bring you interviews with Miles Kane, The Japanese House, and Bad Sounds to name a few – to help source these opportunities for our expanding group of journalists has proved to be consistently rewarding for myself and our hardworking committee. If you like what you see and you’re coming back to Nottingham next year, why not get in touch to see how we can make your year that little bit better. Enjoy the issue, Tris





Sundara Karma: Live Review............4 whenyoung: Interview........................6 Ticket Touting Troubles.....................8 DMAs: Cover Story ..........................10 The Mic’s Guide To Festival Season 2019..................................................16 Feature Interview: The Amazons....22 Cassia: Live Review..........................26

Album Review: Mac DeMarco.........28 Album Review: Catifsh and the Bottlemen.........................................32


Live Review lmost unheard of for Rock City, Sundara Karma played two incredible back-to-back shows on the first Thursday and Friday of April, with Thursday night selling out at incredible speed. Supporting them both nights was Manchesterʼs Phoebe Green, dubbed ʻThe Shirley Temple of the North,ʼ and Whenyoung, a trio originally from Ireland and now based in London. Phoebe Green opened the night with her unique style and dramatic synth-laden indie-pop ballads that combined both tender and loving lyrics alongside powerful choruses, captivating the audience and warming up the ever-filling venue for more great music to follow. Phoebe Green performed her debut single ʻDreaming Ofʼ which has been featured in the Sunday Times and went on to demonstrate her fierce attitude and confidence.


Following Phoebe were Whenyoung, who have recently released their new single ʻFutureʼ which premiered on Jack Saundersʼ Radio One show and have also announced their debut album ʻReasons to Dreamʼ which will be out on May 24th. Whenyoung have described themselves previously as ʻHell on Earthʼ and definitely bring a unique twist to the indie-alternative genre. Their music fuses infectious guitar riffs with lead singer Aoifeʼs heartfelt lyrics to create a story throughout all of their songs. Highlights of the set included ʻSleeperʼ which was packed with emotion and ʻGiven Upʼ which had a more upbeat, party feel - both from their ʻGiven Upʼ EP which was released towards the end of 2018. Finally, it was time for the headline act of the show, Sundara Karma. Sundara last played at Rock City two years ago when they headlined Dot to Dot festival and they

mentioned this towards the beginning of their show, emphasising how pleased they were to be back. The set started with ʻHigher Statesʼ which immediately shocked the crowd into dancing and singing, bringing instant energy and excitement. Frontman Oscar Pollock appeared dressed in a corset and killer black boots highlighting his ability to pull off any outfit with unbelievable confidence and style.

Sundara Karma have managed to perfect the art of performing. The energy was maintained throughout the performance with mosh pits and people bustling to get closer for better views of the Reading four-piece. They mostly stuck to songs from their most recent album Ulfilasʼ Alphabet including ʻGreenhandsʼ and ʻIllusions,ʼ but also played their classics like ʻFlameʼ and ʻShe Saidʼ which the audience were screaming along to at the top of their lungs. Oscar remained ever-so-cool throughout the whole show but occasionally let the act slip to reveal his own amazement at the crowdʼs enthusiasm for the music.

At the end of the set, there was a short break followed by an encore which included a costume change from Oscar into yet another dramatic outfit - this time a wizard-like robe made up of strips of fabric and topped off with a demonic mask and a horned hat. They treated the crowd to a throwback to 2014 with ʻIndigo Puffʼ and ended with ʻOne Last Night On This Earth.ʼ Nobody wanted the show to be over, and for some it wasnʼt as the show was then repeated on the Friday night, allowing another group of fans to enjoy an incredible performance. Sundara Karma have managed to perfect the art of performing, mixing vast amounts of drama with their musical talent and confidence. It doesnʼt feel like an exaggeration to say that their attitude to music and live shows is following in the footsteps of great artists such as David Bowie, combining showmanship with strong messages to empower their fans and create a community in awe of them. Sundara Karma are definitely not a group to underestimate, appearing this summer at both Reading and Leeds festival and Live at Leeds. Potentially the likes of a tour further afield are next on the cards which leaves us asking, is the rest of the world ready for Sundara Karma? by Abby Clarke


Luck of the Irish: interview with


ailed as one of Irelandʼs best indie rock exports since Two Door Cinema Club, whenyoung are a band very much on the rise since the release of their debut EP ʻGiven Upʼ in 2018. With their debut album ʻReasons To Dreamʼ out on May 24th, we caught up with the three piece, consisting of Aoife Power (vocals, bass), Niall Burns (guitar) and Andrew Flood (drums), backstage at Nottinghamʼs Rock City where they were supporting Sundara Karma, to talk about starting up, life on the road, and private yoga instructors…

Hi guys, what was it like first starting out as a band? Aoife Power: “We actually only came together as a band when we moved to London, but we all loved music and bonded over that and thatʼs how we became friends in Ireland. Every time we go back itʼs really nice.” Is London a difficult place to be a new band? AP: AP “In a way, yes, because there are so many bands but also it was very good for us because we played so many gigs without pressure. Itʼs easier to get lost and find yourself in


London.” What did you grow up listening to? Niall Burns: “We grew up with The Velvet Underground and Patti Smith. The Smiths, Blondie, The Strokes, Pixies and all that kind of stuff.” Andrew Flood: “A lot of our influences are a bit raw, but with catchy pop melodies with meaning.” How do you approach the writing process? AP: “I usually hum a melody and then weʼll work out the music in the studio. Iʼll come in with a voice note and then Iʼll add the lyrics.” AF: “Before the album, we did take a week or two where we went somewhere else and tried writing in a different environment. We actually got a few songs out of those trips, where we were out of the safety net of our studio.” What have you learnt from supporting bands? NB: “Professionalism is one that you learn very quickly. We learnt that on our first tour.” AP: Donʼt go out and get pissed! NB: We were going out and getting pissed every single night and by day

three we felt like we were going to die! Superfood werenʼt really doing that and we realised ʻoh thatʼs how you tour!ʼ You need to pace yourself; it sounds kind of boring but in order to be successful, you need to learn that pretty quickly.” AF: “I think every band weʼve toured with, theyʼre really thankful for where they are and I think thatʼs why theyʼre successful and you can see that from the crowds that they get.” Is it hard having a catalogue of music thatʼs waiting to be released to the world? AP: “Yeah!” AF: “We had the album finished in January so for us we were like itʼs done letʼs get it out and move on to the next thing!” AP: “I guess that we have to trust that our label and our management have good strategies.” What are you looking forward to about the summer? AP: “All the festivals, the sunshine.” AF: “Itʼll be fun. Boardmasters will be great and weʼve got a couple of European festivals that weʼll be doing which will be really cool.” NB: “Having the opportunity, NB because our album is finished, to just go back to our studio and write songs because thatʼs almost the most fun bit - having hours in the studio to write new stuff.” Do you ever write on tour? AP: AP “I keep, not exactly diaries, but notes of potential lyrics and ideas for set songs.” AF: “You never fully switch off.” AP: “We havenʼt really done complete writing on tour but we do come up with ideas.” AF: AF “Actually no, one of the songs

on the album we wrote on tour last year.” NB: “We did it after a yoga session.” AP: “Our friend came on tour with us and is a yoga instructor, and we felt like such assholes now having a private yoga instructor!” NB: NB “It wasnʼt actually our idea, we went into a rehearsal studio on a day off in Newcastle to write, but we were all quite hungover and he was like ʻweʼre going to do a yoga session!ʼ I think the guy was so freaked out that he agreed to it. We went in, did a yoga session and wrote one the songs on the album and the rest is history.” How do you approach writing lyrics? AP: “Itʼs a really personal experience I suppose and even if itʼs masked, Iʼm trying to connect to other people and talk about my experiences and a lot of it is talking about insecurities and is self-affirmation. One of the new songs is about the Grenfell Tower and my experience seeing that. I think thatʼs the easiest way for me to write.” What do you want to have accomplished by the end of the year? AF: “Number one album obviously!” NB: “Just getting the songs to more people. Weʼre really proud of the album which is kind of enough for me, but weʼd love it to reach more people.” AF: AF "Obviously if youʼre starting a band the dream is to make an album. Itʼs been a dream of ours for a while so just having done that is going to feel great and then whatever else comes is just a bonus.”

by Ben Standring


eʼve all been there trying to find tickets for your favourite band but finding that theyʼre sold out on nearly every platform. When you finally think youʼve tracked one down, the asking price is well over the original price of the ticket. Selling gig tickets for a large profit, otherwise known as ʻticket touting,ʼ is currently one of the largest problems within the live music scene. Naturally, when youʼre trying to sell your own ticket to a mate youʼll want to try and add on a few extra pounds (whilst this is annoying and a bit wrong, you canʼt blame us, weʼre students!) However, the real problem lies with individuals who use bots to purchase a large number of tickets in an attempt to resell a ticket that would have originally cost £25 for well in exess of £100. This is not fair, not only on the dedicated fans who want to go and see their favourite bands, but


Many artists and venues are trying to combat this issue. also on the artist themselves. When an arena is claimed to be sold out, there are bound to be a number of spare seats where tickets, and sometimes whole blocks, have been bought by touts who are only in it for the profit. Luckily, many artists and venues are trying to combat this issue. Recently, fans of bands such as The 1975 and Lower than Atlantis have been able to queue in London to buy their tickets first-hand rather than online, drastically reducing the number of tickets going to individuals who were not die-hard fans of the group. The issue with this, however, is that fans of

Photo: Lower Than Atlantis

Photo: The 1975

The 1975 and Lower Than Atlantis are some of the bands trying to tackle the touting problem

extremely popular bands may be waiting in line from as early as 6am to get a ticket to a show. A further approach being taken is the Ęťpersonalised ticket.Ęź For many of the gigs and festivals I have recently attended, my name has been printed on the physical ticket and I have had to use ID to get into the venue. Whilst this is a time-consuming process and annoying if someone else has bought your ticket as a present, I really appreciate the efforts being made by the industry to ensure that fans can see their favourite performers without having to pay an arm and a leg. My biggest annoyance with the situation lies with the company Ticketmaster (one of the major ticketing sites) as they also own Viagogo a secondary ticket re-sale website where individuals are able to sell their tickets onto other people for well over face value. it seems unfair that one corporation

They get a full refund. is able to hold a monopoly over both primary ticket sales and fan-to-fan resale. Instead, I would recommend Twickets, a website that does not allow individuals to sell their tickets on for more than the asking price. Another alternative is an app called Dice, which allows punters to join waiting lists for gigs that are sold out. If somebody is unable to attend, they get a full refund from the company and the ticket is passed on to somebody on the waiting list for face value. We want everyone to be able to enjoy gigs and events without paying through the roof so, whether it be a ticket for your favourite band or even a ticket for Crisis, please donĘźt be part of the ticket touting troubles!

By Robyn Walford









2019 marks Dot to Dotʼs 15th year of showcasing emerging talent previous D2D line-ups have featured Ed Sheeran, The 1975, Florence + The Machine, Dua Lipa and Skepta. Headlining are Crystal Fighters, whose odd-but-it-works combination of dance and Basque folk music lends something completely unique to their theatrical live shows. Also high on the bill are jazz, soul and hip-hop inspired Jordan Rakei, indie favourites Swim

Deep, who previously graced D2D back in 2015, and Dream Wife, whose feel-good punk made their Rescue Rooms show last year one of the most fun Iʼve been to. Other top picks so far include The Orielles, Viagra Boys, LOVE SICK and Wasuremono. Only the first wave of acts has been announced, yet Dot to Dot already looks set to be the perfect way to beat the revision blues by indulging in a day of musicʼs best up-and-coming talent. By Daisy Carter

Slam Dunk returns for its biggest year yet in 2019, having gotten rid of the Midlands date to make way for an expansion on the outdoors Slam Dunk South site in Hatfield Park and the moving of Slam Dunk North from Leeds city centre to Temple Newsam Park. The two-date festival is headlined this year by pop-punk royalty All Time Low whilst Welsh metal-ers Bullet For My


Valentine headline the Jägermeister stage at the same time for those of a heavier disposition. For pop-punk fans thereʼs plenty to choose from apart from the headliners including American veterans New Found Glory and Welsh champions Neck Deep. On the heavier side of things this is one of Slam Dunkʼs strongest years yet, with several huge names on the bill such as hardcore bands Turnstile, Knocked Loose and Cancer Bats, balanced out by plenty of opportunities for singalongs at the acoustic stage. No matter your

taste, thereʼs something for every rock fan at Slam Dunk Festival this year. By Sean Hubbard

Photo: Detonate Festival

COLWICK COUNTRY PARK, NOTTINGHAM For another year, one of the countryʼs biggest underground music festivals returns to Nottinghamʼs Colwick Country Park. Manchester grime icon Bugzy Malone, who last played Detonate in 2017, will no doubt regenerate the excitement created by Giggs last year, while the up-and-coming Hardy Caprio will perform to the Main Stage just days after his 23rd birthday. Aside from rap, Detonate regulars Wilkinson, Friction, and Andy C look set to deliver more electrifying drum and bass sets to the Big Top stage, alongside SASASAS who impressed on the Main Stage last year. Fisher headlines the Hidden Woodland stage which, in



my opinion, may struggle to live up to last yearʼs trio of Solardo, Camelphat, and Eats Everything. My pick of the day is Sammy Virji rarely have I seen a DJ with such energy behind the decks. Detonate is once again set to be the biggest post-exam party of the year! By Tristan Phipps

Photo: Detonate Festival

Arguably the greatest festival on the planet, Glastonbury hardly needs introducing. The 49th edition takes place in Somerset in June following a year out in 2018. A five-day celebration of music, comedy, theatre and more, 135,000 lucky ticket holders will descend on the legendary site. Following 2017ʼs secret set, The Killers return to top the bill on the Saturday, whilst The Cure continue their lengthy festival headline spree by headlining on Sunday. The biggest question mark will be Stormzyʼs headline slot on

Friday, the first time a grime artist has ever headlined the festival. An incredible moment for the genre, itʼll be interesting to see if he answers the doubters that amassed when he was announced. As always though, Glastonbury isnʼt about its headliners. The likes of Tame Impala, Liam Gallagher, Vampire Weekend, The Chemical Brothers, Wu-Tang Clan, and The Streets all play, whilst Kylie fills the coveted legends slot. By Ben Standring

Rock Werchter is an award-winning festival up there with the best in Europe, taking place over four days at the end of June each year in Belgium. Youʼll find a diverse range of the best of todayʼs music, ranging from rock legends, pop, and festival classics to fresh up-and-coming talent. Among this year's performers are Muse, Mumford & Sons, New Order, Elbow, Weezer, BMTH, Florence + The Machine and The 1975. Alongside the bigger headliners are Brockhampton, crowd-pleasers

Tom Misch, Miles Kane, Two Door Cinema Club, Mac DeMarco and Lewis Capaldi. If youʼre familiar with the Notts music scene, there are also plenty of acts who have recently played in our beloved local venues, such as Yonaka, Sea Girls, Bearʼs Den, Sports Team and Amyl and the Sniffers. You can even head to on-site organised after-parties each night, and thereʼs an added bonus of PROPER toilets, saving you the fear of facing those dreaded Reading-festival shit-pits. By Alana McKenna



Returning once again to picturesque Gloucestershire, the ever-growing independent festival arrives this year with arguably its most enticing line-up yet. 12 years after performing at the first ever ʻTrees,ʼ long-time advocate Frank Turner brings his always-explosive live show directly to a headline slot on Thursday night whilst, in the daytime, his old friend Jamie Lenman brings back ʻLenmaniaʼ – a day of handpicked up-and-coming bands sandwiched between acoustic and full band sets from the rock hero himself. Must-sees on the

Friday include folk-punks Skinny Lister, likely accompanied by their trademark flagon of ale, and merciless hardcore outfit Möngöl Hörde, the frontman of which bears a striking resemblance to Thursdayʼs headliner. Saturday will see New York metalcore staples Every Time I Die perform their classic album ʻHot Damn!ʼ in full and Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan fame bring his new band The Black Queen to The Axiom in an unmissable weekend from the world of rock and beyond. By Cameron Chadwick

There are plenty of smaller, underrated festivals on offer in the UK but my pick would have to be Lovebox. This 2-day festival boasts an excellent line-up of hip-hop and R&B as well as a wide variety of electronic artists. Headlining this year are Chance the Rapper and Solange but they will be joined by the likes of Brockhampton, Kaytranada, Loyle Carner, Giggs and 2 Chainz, with DJ sets from Annie Mac and Four Tet amongst others.

Whilst you canʼt camp overnight, the atmosphere last year on both days was incredible. Even better is the very reasonable price of £120 for a 2-day ticket, meaning a fantastic summer weekend seeing some of the biggest names in hip-hop and R&B with relatively little strain on your bank account. If youʼve got no plans for the 12th and 13th of July, then definitely mark this one down in your diary. By Emilio Cruzalegui

Y Not Festival takes place every year in the beautiful location of Pikehall in Derbyshire. Starting off as a small party for little over 120 people, Y Not has grown into an enormous celebration of indie music celebrated for its success as an independent music festival. This year it hosts an incredible and varied line up including everything from Foals, Elbow and Miles Kane to You Me At Six and even Mr Motivator. Y Not is definitely a

Positioned not only as of the UKĘźs biggest and most notorious festivals whilst also a rite of passage for teenagers looking for a massive sesh after receiving their GCSE and A Level results, Reading & Leeds festival is constantly diversifying its lineups to include a broader range of genres, reflecting the changing face of modern popular music. With this yearĘźs headliners including Foo Fighters, Twenty One Pilots, The 1975 and Post Malone, prepare for an impressive line-up featuring a mix of big names and new talent to

festival to look at.

By Abby Clarke

Photo: Y Not Festival

signal the approaching end of the festival season. As well as its huge headliners, an array of other artists from various genres such as Bastille, Billie Eilish, Blossoms and Stefflon Don will also be making appearances throughout the weekend. Reading & Leeds also has a comedy line up, film screenings and more for you to enjoy. By Lara Gelmetti


TO HELL AND BACK I N T E RV I E W W I T H The Mic chats with frontman Matt Thomson for this issue’s feature interview to see how rock and roll has rejuvenated Reading heroes The Amazons on the eve of the release of their sophomore album ‘Future Dust.’

ince their inclusion on the BBC Sound of 2017 longlist, The Amazons have been a band destined for great things. The 2016 releases of singles Junk Food Forever, Stay With Me and In My Mind pricked the attention of eager rock fans before their 2017 self-titled debut record established the Reading four-piece as rock royalty-in-waiting. Their insatiable arena-filling anthems signal a band brimming with fresh ideas and with a new album on the horizon, the four piece, consisting of Matt Thomson (vocals, guitar), Chris Alderton (guitar), Elliot Briggs (bass) and Joe Emmett (drums), look ready to step up to a new platform - one demanding bigger venues and greater crowds. Speaking to frontman Matt Thomson, it’s instantly clear as to what the band wanted to achieve on Future Dust. “We wanted to make a record that was almost a love letter to rock and roll,” states an eager Thomson. “We


wanted to come into it and be as unapologetic about who we are and what our sound is as possible. Whether it was going to be popular or whether it was a fresh sound, whatever it is, bands worry themselves over whether they’re relevant and all that shit, and we thought, do we care about that or do we care about music that we want to make?” Asked what fans can expect from the record as a whole, Thomson passionately exclaims “I think people can expect things that we fucking like about rock and roll: big drum sounds, passionate vocals, a raw, guttural release. That’s what rock and roll is for me - it’s a release from the stresses of life. Whether you hit issues that you want to talk about head on or it could be just plain escapism, I hope people get all of that from our record. I hope people hear a band that are confident in who they are, in a time where there isn’t a lot of confidence in identity. I

think there’s a lot more questions than answers at the moment, and you turn to what makes sense to you, and for us, rock and roll makes sense, playing in a band makes sense.” Listening to Thomson address the current state of the music industry and the global climate is an interesting affair, and it becomes clear that The Amazons have changed a great deal as a band since their self-titled debut record. “The experiences from writing the first album and going on tour for a couple of years has helped us form ideas about what we want our band to be like. How do we want to conduct ourselves? What do we want to say? Whether that’s lyrically or through interviews or the clothes we wear or the way we conduct ourselves on social media, like what do we want to do?” says Thomson. “There was a real process to writing this new album, a real cohesiveness in terms of we had time limitations. There are natural themes you want to talk about that are addressed in multiple songs in different ways. I think the writing was very concentrated in that essentially it was all written in 2018 and I knew that if we wanted to make an album that we were proud of we

needed to drastically change what was happening in our lives in that wewould come off tour and we were a little bit sick of each other and there wasn’t a huge amount of inspiration, and the backdrop of that was this really confusing time.” He goes on to say “2018 was quite a turbulent time for everyone I think on a greater scale. It was just a case of what actually makes sense at the moment? There was so much chaos and so many questions. Being in a band made sense and writing music made sense, so what were we going to do about it? We went for three weeks to a place called Three Cliffs Bay in Wales, about an hour out of Swansea, which was really remote, with sheer cliffs and caves on the beach. We stayed at a house that had been made by a local guy from local wood called Treetops and we just camped out there and bonded as a band. That really shaped the album…it was where we got the ball rolling, and the ball is still rolling now the album is finished. The ball for me hasn’t stopped rolling which is what’s really exciting. It kind of felt that the first album was the end of a chapter. The compass has been set, we know where we’re going and this album is

Photo: Patrick Dalziel


just a stepping stone on the way really.”

“What we wanted to do with this record was to find a groove.” Listening to Thomson’s honesty surrounding tensions within the band is both surprising and sincere, yet his confidence in where the four-piece have found themselves now is unwavering. “We’ve looked at what we’re doing, looked at the world around us and we like being the odd ones out, the kind of outsiders. Once you get over this worrying and anxiety about being relevant in 2019, whatever that means, once you just sit back and know what you love - and what we love is rock and roll - you want to study it, you want to know everything about it from top to tail. I want to know how it started and I know what I want to know and in turn where it’s going. I think that the confidence in knowing who we are has currently freed us up to trying things and to experiment and to just push the band forward a little bit and have a greater understanding with what we’re doing and what we want to do. It’s exciting and it’s fun to take influence from lots of different things.”


Whilst 2017’s debut record set the foundations for the band, Future Dust looks to hone the band’s sound, with recent releases Mother and Doubt It acting as indicators of a darker sound. “What we wanted to do with this record was to find a groove,” suggests Thompson. “The best bands have grooves and you only get grooves if you’re a good musician in a band and you’ve played for a long time together. Genuinely I think this band is still on its way to finding that groove. That chemistry, finding what makes us unique as a four-piece, and Doubt It is musically on the road to that. We wanted to make something that was dark and considered.” Both Doubt It and Mother have been lengthy works in progress, with the latter coming from a riff that had been originally drafted before the first album. Lyrically, Thomson has used

Photo: Phoebe Fox

the likes of 1950s rock and roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis for inspiration on the band’s new material. “When you really delve into their lines, they’ve got really raw and complex, sometimes quite violent characters,” the singer states. “There’s a book called Hellfire, which is a biography of Jerry Lee Lewis which talks about his story, about how he had a rich, conservative upbringing in the deep American south, but he was lured by the rock and roll lifestyle of sex and drugs and dark nightclubs where the ‘devil music’ would be played. And ‘devil’s he was always in the middle, on the fence as to whether he was going to go off and be a pastor at a parish or church, or whether he was going to succumb and submit to the temptations of the devil and I thought that was something that has underpinned rock and roll right from the beginning and I wanted to address that. Doubt It is essentially about submitting to the temptations, you know it’s wrong but in that moment, not thinking about tomorrow, you’re just going with what dark

There’s no denying that their sound has a rejuvenated essence to it.

Photo: The Amazons

presences are luring you in.” Listening to the band’s latest singles, there’s no denying that their sound has a rejuvenated essence to it. The raw, ethereal energy that is a constant factor to the live show has been concentrated and combined with their maelstrom of influences on the new record. Despite the hurdles that come with touring life and being in a band generally, The Amazons have emerged out of the other side with a newfound lease of life and a refined, darker sound. In a world dominated with ‘fake news’ and insincerit insincerity, the Reading four-piece are unapologetically original. They know who they want to be and what they want to do, and they’re not prepared to let anyone stand in their way.

By Ben Standring


Live Review Bringing Summer Early to The Bodega

assia returned to The Bodega treating us to an intimate sold-out show after the drop of their long-awaited debut album ʻReplica.ʼ Upon arriving at The Bodega I was thrilled to see that I wasnʼt alone in sporting the classic Hawaiian tee, which has seemed to become an unofficial uniform for Cassia fans. It really is a credit to Cassia to see the number of people who were proudly wearing their merch - the fanbase is certainly loyal and dedicated. And in the same respect to Cassiaʼs music, some very chilled out and lovely people made up the audience.

That’s what made his set so captivating Supporting Cassia was singer-songwriter Alfie Neale who


who brought his lo-fi, indie soul vibes to the stage. Itʼs difficult to pinpoint a box to put Alfie into, but thatʼs what made his set so captivating. Every song was unique from the last while still keeping his laid back, smooth sound. If I had to make a comparison, artists such as Rex Orange County spring to mind. Despite continuously feeling the need to apologise for a sore throat thanks to a heavy night out in Manchester the night before (who can blame him really?) Alfieʼs vocals were strong but seemingly effortless. It was brilliant to see the rest of the band share the limelight; from bass, to trumpet, to drums, every member on stage kept tight with each other in a completely natural way. It was fun to catch the keyboardist smirk at Alfie singing the lyrics “Iʼve been drinking far too much” during ʻTongue Tied,ʼ clearly relevant after the night before. Overall, Alfie Nealeʼs set was a superb way to start the night and I honestly would not be surprised to

see him headlining The Bodega himself very soon. It wasnʼt long at all until Cassia were up, not wanting to keep their fans waiting. The show kicked off with an astonishing drum solo from Jake Leff, accompanied by a blinding light show while the rest of the band took to the stage. Opening the set with one of the singles from ʻReplica,ʼ ʻSmall Spacesʼ got the crowd singing and bopping along. Despite the album only being released three days prior, it was amazing to see so many fans already singing along to every song word-for-word, dancing beat-to-beat.

Before long Cassia had the room dancing along The set was a combination of some newly released songs from the album but also some old-time favourites such as ʻMoanaʼ and ʻWeekender.ʼ Only taking a few songs to get the crowd well and truly warmed up, before long Cassia had the room dancing along and with the help of the chilled-out instrumentation, seemingly forgetting any stresses from the outside world. Lead vocalist Rob Ellis and bassist Lou Cotterill had superb chemistry and energy on stage - not only replicating the tracks from the album but lifting

them to new heights. Cassia certainly have a distinctive, tropical indie sound which has set them apart from the crowd and has helped them form a loyal and loving fanbase, so much so that all five of their album launch shows sold out within 12 hours. The sense of community at this show really struck me, with everyone at The Bodega chatting, dancing and enjoying the band they had come to see together. This was encouraged even more by both Alfie Neale with his band and Cassia themselves coming straight down from the stage after the show to mingle with everyone. Itʼs acts such as chatting with their fans after the show, being more than happy to take photos and even running their own merch stand which has built up such a strong relationship between Cassia and their listeners. If the fact that this show sold out within mere hours wasnʼt evidence enough, the performance that Cassia put on clearly shows that what was once a little indie band may be on the brink of huge things. One thing is for sure, everyone left The Bodega a little chirpier with a spring in their step, and I for one am eager to see Cassia perform again. If you fancy brightening up your October, then Cassia will be playing at Nottinghamʼs Rescue Rooms on the 29th. It will be the perfect way to cling onto summer just a little longer!

By Bethan Fletcher



anadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarcoʼs fourth full-length album ʻHere Comes the Cowboyʼ isnʼt anything too far from its predecessors, for the most part maintaining his usual chill style, though thereʼs a hint of extra feeling in there with an added sprinkle of funk towards the end of the album.

One of the best things about this album is the sheer artistry of it. The album was written, tracked and mixed at DeMarcoʼs personal LA recording studio ʻJizz Jazz Studios,ʼ with nearly every instrument on the album being played by Mac. ʻHere Comes the Cowboyʼ is also the debut release on Macʼs very own re record ,

Photo: Mac DeMarco


label, funnily enough called ʻMacʼs Record Label,ʼ which he founded last year. As well as producing the music, before the release of the album, Mac has released the self-directed (slightly disturbing) music video to single ʻNobody.ʼ In interviews with NPR last year, DeMarco spoke about becoming more comfortable with writing about more serious subjects, which feels apparent in this album as there seem to be self-reflective undertones in many of the tracks. In this sense, ʻHere Comes the Cowboyʼ is comparable to his previous album ʻThis Old Dogʼ in terms of its romantic style, especially in the heartfelt seventh track ʻK.ʼ Iʼd definitely say the album as a whole is pretty relaxed, with the first track on the tracklist ʻHere Comes the Cowboyʼ being repetitive and (arguably) mediocre, though this is more than compensated for by the later tracks. Most of the songs in the former half of the album are pretty similar chill tunes, with the third track ʻFinally Aloneʼ having a slightly more upbeat tone, including melodies reminiscent of those in ʻStill Togetherʼ from DeMarcoʼs album ʻ2,ʼ but with a thicker backing. Another nice feature on the album are the sound effects on the fifth track ʻPreoccupied,ʼ which provide a birdsong that canʼt help but make you think about laying in the garden in the summer, responsibility-free with a beer in

hand. The album definitely has more sex appeal compared to other albums in its latter half, oozing a fun-loving kind of groove, complete with the sound of brass instruments which first appear in the sixth track ʻChoo Choo.ʼ This funky style really comes into action in the final song of the album ʻBaby Bye Bye,ʼ which treats listeners to a seven-and-a-half-minute track that sounds like it would have been a hell of a lot of fun to record. ʻBaby Bye Byeʼ is definitely my favourite track from ʻHere Comes the Cowboy,ʼ showing off Macʼs varying vocal and instrumental skills, as well as providing a lens into his fun and care-free personality. Itʼs certainly one you canʼt sit still to, and just when the song sounds like itʼs finishing, fading into the sound of muffled chatting, DeMarco re-appears for a funky outro, complete with yee-haws and all. The fact that this album was written during a two-week period can only make it more impressive, and despite Mac DeMarco doing his own thing and not trying desperately to impress people, he effortlessly does so anyway. Whilst the start of this album doesnʼt offer anything too different to listeners of DeMarco, each track seems to get better and better and ʻHere Comes the Cowboyʼ well and truly finishes with a bang. The album is out May 10th, so be sure to give it a listen and catch him at one of his shows this summer if you get the chance.

By Alana McKenna


THE BALANCE On their highly-anticipated third studio album, Llandudnoʼs indie kings offer a relatively inoffensive collection of guitar rock tunes yet leave behind much of the edge and urgency of their debut. The year is 2014. The Courteeners have just bombed out of greatness on ʻConcrete Love.ʼ A year prior, Arctic Monkeys had seen worldwide success putting moody R&B to the forefront of their sound. Indie music is in dire need of a voice, firmly grounded and loaded with festival field-fillers. Enter Catfish and the Bottlemen. A band with an intriguing group moniker, powered by frontman Van McCannʼs ability to write a catchy hook using casual, conversationalist lyrics, and backed up by unassuming guitars and unique backing vocals, release ʻThe Balcony,ʼ and a void in the scene is filled. ʻThe Rideʼ follows two years later, boasting much of the attraction of its predecessor, only on occasion drowning too much in its influences (Oasis, The Strokes). Yet it leaves a question mark: What do Catfish bring to the table next?


Album Review The short answer is nothing worth talking about. Catfish have made it clear in interview-after-interview that their aim is to sell out stadiums, and ʻThe Balanceʼ was set to be their make-it-or-break-it record. Yet somehow it does neither. Kicking off the cycle and the album itself with ʻLongshotʼ was a promising move. Driven by a thumping drum beat, the chorus on the lead single feels stadium-sized without being overproduced, and it still carries Van McCannʼs relatable lyrical stamp. Itʼs nothing spectacular but I can vouch for the fact it got a singalong in The Bodega on the following Wednesday night. Following the lead single in the tracklist are two more singles which dropped prior to the albumʼs release, ʻFluctuateʼ and ʻ2all.ʼ The former is nothing special, as it attempts a Royal Blood-esque viciousness yet fails to convert wholly to that sound. The latter however carries a heartfelt chorus in which McCann expresses his graciousness for the long-time support of his family, friends and

fans. So far, so decent. Itʼs not Death Grips, but the energy and clear chemistry within the band has carried it through. Unfortunately, four tracks in is where the problems with this album start to arise. ʻConversationʼ is a song the frontman wrote about the relationship he has with his father, yet the lyrics are frustratingly vague and the listener is left without much of a compelling insight into the effect their relationship has on McCann as an artist – “You stood beside myself/When I needed somebody who knows/Just how to tell me how to get through tomorrow.” And the band canʼt even save this one, as the trackʼs instrumentation moves inexplicably from tight to messy, most noticeably on the bridge where the pointless train-wreck guitar licks clash heavily with McCannʼs vocals, which surely have to be the focus of a song of this subject matter. From here on out the album has its moments but it suffers more misses than hits. The following track ʻSidetrackʼ sees McCann blowing off some steam about a relationship which has seemingly fallen off the rails, yet the production is far too clean and tight to make the track feel remotely unpredictable. ʻEncoreʼ has a chorus bland enough to pass for a Biffy Clyro song as the frontman plays up the same old ʻIʼm a lad therefore I possess the ability to instantly improve a womanʼs lifeʼ narrative. The most bizarre miss comes on ʻIntermission,ʼ which on its face seems like itʼs intending to be the bandʼs next staple acoustic interlude, yet it takes almost a minute (of a 2-minute song) of the repetitive lo-fi guitar line for any vocals to appear. The track is baffling and lacks any

semblance of the kind of anti-romantic acoustic balladry we heard on ʻHourglassʼ on the debut. I donʼt want to completely write off this albumʼs second half as there are some highlights. On ʻBasically,ʼ McCann talks about trying to fulfil promises he made prior to the bandʼs success and the struggle to live up to the expectation on his back, topped off by a little guitar solo from Johnny Bond which is integrated nicely into the track. Fortunately, the album also ends on a higher note – ʻOverlapʼ makes for one of the better 3-minute indie songs on the record, with a danceable hook and another solo which heads directly into the bandʼs trademark instant cut-off finale. Overall, ʻThe Balanceʼ is not a bad album. Like the artwork, itʼs sweet enough, but itʼs Catfishʼs least gripping work to date. The album is difficult to hate but difficult to really love as it lacks much of the eager charm of the bandʼs earlier albums. We await the judgement of the masses as to whether itʼs charming enough to fill a stadium.

By Cameron Chadwick


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