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4-13 | Interviews
t’s fair to say that this term has been one of The Mic’s best. We’ve hosted two great gigs at Rescue Rooms and J.T. Soar, showcasing local talent including Tiger Blood, Papayer and Cheap Jazz. Popularity on our Facebook page has rocketed from just 12 likes at the beginning of the year to 200+, while our number of followers on Twitter is ever-growing. An influx of freshers have joined our ranks, bringing with them a wealth of new interests and material that have found their way into this issue and onto the website. Speaking of which, our website went live this term which provides us with a new platform for promoting student music journalism, check it out at http:// themicmagazine.co.uk.
Haim, ALT J, Frank Turner, Mikill Pane 14-15 | The Mic Presents A look back at the gigs we hosted this term 18-24 | Live Reviews Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, The Crookes, Tall Ships, Chad Valley, The Revival Tour, Everything Everything, Jessie Ware 26-30 | The Mic’s albums of 2012 The Mic’s choice picks from 2012
We’re particularly excited about this issue having had the privilege to interview the recently crowned Mercury Prize winners Alt-J, not to mention Olympic opener Frank Turner. As the music of 2013 begins to flourish, we decided to look back upon the albums of 2012 that might have slipped under the radar of other music publications. It was also great to see acts like Ben Howard, Spector, Howler, 2:54 and Alice Cooper, reviews and interviews of which can be found on our website. A big thanks as usual to High Soc, Ben Ryles at the Rescue Rooms, the guys at J.T. Soar, Ian Cheek PR, Alec at the Bodega, Robin at Wild, Matt at Malt Cross, Alistair at Alley Café, Spectrum printingand The National Student. As well as all the PR companies that have given us guest lists, promos and interviews with such great acts, thanks!
Cara McGoogan and John Bell http://www.facebook.com/ themicnotts @themicnotts http://themicmagazine.co.uk/
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Your committee Editors: Cara McGoogan and John Bell. Treasurer: Melissa Wade. Chief designer (and everything else useful): Jordie Bokor. Website designer: Adam Gask. Sub-editors: Matt Stiff and Esther Moriarty. And a big thanks to designers Jennifer Yu and Max Bolton.
sisters, from LA, long dark hair and growing fan base. ‘Please, not the The Kardashians?’ I hear you say… Of course not, these are the laid-back rocking Haim sisters. With the eldest sister Este on bass, middle sister Danielle on lead guitar and baby Haim Alana on rhythm guitar, keyboard and percussion, their sound is a combination of R’n’B beats with folksy melodies, which seems strange, but actually really works. The Mic got the chance to chat to these lovely sisters before their gig at the Bodega last month.
Where has your favourite show been so far in the UK? Este: Manchester was really fun. London was a high pressure thing, although it was a really good show, but Manchester had a good vibe. There were people getting on each other’s shoulders. So, whilst you’ve been on the road what albums have you been listening to? Alana: The only CD’s in the van now are ‘The Best of the Police’, ‘Abbey Road’, and ‘Sigh No More’ by Mumford and Sons which reminds us of our last tour.
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What was it like touring with Mumford and Sons? Alana: Amazing, they are the best people in the world. They’re literally like our brothers. Este: Our second night on tour we had this experience where we all almost died. A firework nearly hit us all together. After our near death experience we bonded for life. We had the best time with them. So, how do you feel about supporting Florence and the Machine? Este: Excited, but nervous as there will be a lot of people. Danielle: We’re really excited, it’s going to be a really good show. Alana: The Florence tour is going to be crazy, there’s going to be so many people, I don’t really want to think about it yet if I don’t have to… How long have you been writing songs together? Danielle: Over 5 years probably… Este: Yeah, we all wrote songs individually, then, we thought it would kind of be like a challenge and joke to just say, “Sure, let’s write songs together.” We wrote our first song in half an hour, it wasn’t the best song... Then after that we came up with 5 songs and we thought let’s play them out. It started as a joke, a weird challenge, but we guessed we should try, I mean why not, we all made music individually.
What’s your favourite song to perform? Danielle: For me it’s ‘The Wire’. Alana: We wrote ‘The Wire’ 3 years ago, it was one of our first songs. We let go of a lot of our other songs that we have written in the past, but we haven’t let go of ‘The Wire’. It never gets old to play. If you weren’t in Haim, what band would you like to be in? Alana: It’s a tie for me between being a Heartbreaker, in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or T-Boz in TLC. Este: It would have to be Prince, but I’d love to be Nico because she was such a babe. Good choice, I’d be Patti Smith… Este: (To Danielle) I feel like you would be her… Danielle: Yeah yours is dope, I’ll be Jane Birkin. As the interview ended, the girls kindly offered me a beer before heading back to their hotel to get ready for the evening’s show.
To open the show at Bodega they began with their punchy song ‘Better Off’. The catchy lyrics had the packed out crowd singing along and everyone seemed to be entranced by the sisters and their mister (Dan Hutton on drums). They swiftly moved onto their favourite song to perform ‘The Wire’, at which point I noticed that the Dog is Dead boys were standing next to me, and had their phones out tweeting about how Haim were smashing Notts. Throughout the gig Haim shared the vocals and merged harmonies effortlessly. They smoothly mixed acapella singing into guitar riffs, and enhanced the percussive R’n’B beats by all rhythmically hitting floor toms which were placed beside their microphone stands. In between the songs Este worked the crowd, flirting and telling jokes about unicorns with massive penises, whilst her sisters laughed along. Before performing ‘Forever’, they admitted that the song is probably the reason they were here right now. It is title track on their EP and their most watched video on Youtube. But I believe they’re not going to be one hit wonders, all of the songs they played have the potential to be a hit. So keep your eyes peeled for their debut album release. By Esther Moriarty
5 | The Mic
â&#x2C6;&#x2020; ALT J Interview
The Mic managed to land themselves a one-off exclusive interview with Alt-J shortly after their Mercury Prize victory. We spoke with Gus Unger-Hamilton (keys) about how it feels to have become so iconic in such a short space of time.
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How are you guys feeling after your Mercury Prize win? We’re feeling really good, it’s been so exciting. Who would you have been most happy to have lost to? I would have been pretty happy if The Maccabees had won. They’ve been one of my favourite bands since I was a teenager so to win on their third album would have been fair enough. They’ve had three really good albums and I respect them for that, but Radiohead have never won the Mercury either, it’s a funny prize. Do you think the Award will help or hinder you? I think it’s going to help us. I think we’re now in quite a lucky position where no matter how long it takes us there will be an audience for our second album which is really nice. Do you know what direction you might take it in? We’ve got some songs that we’re writing for it. It’s not sounding that different from this album, there’s no new sound because I don’t think this album really had a sound. It’s just songs that we’re writing as a group that just somehow happen to have this indefinable stamp of Alt-J on them. You’ve structured your first album quite rigidly with the ‘Intro’ and ‘Interludes’, why did you decide to do that? We wanted the album to be listened
listened to as one piece, not just as a collection of songs. So we curated it in the same way as when you curate an exhibition you don’t just stick a load of paintings in a room or a series of rooms, you put them in a certain order and they’re supposed to be viewed in a certain context, whether it’s chronological or stylistic. In the same way we wanted the album to be a curated object that should be listened to from start to finish. If you were creating a musical exhibition what albums would you position either side of yours? (Laughs) I’d start off with Little Golden Book by Princess Chelsea which is a really good album, then I’d enjoy our album and then I’d finish with the first self-titled album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. That sounds like a good session to us. Would you be able to tell us a bit more about one of our favourite tracks, ‘Something Good’? It’s difficult, I can try. It’s about this girl at university that Joe Newman (guitar/vocals) kind of liked (coughs) sorry I’ve got this really annoying cough, I’m going to have some Orangina. Ah, I love Orangina. So Joe liked her and there was this awkward thing where her friends had told Joe that she had seen pictures of him and sort of fancied him and he was immediately like ‘ah great’, I like her as well. Then every time they saw each other it was super awkward and nothing happened really in the end and she went off him. By the time he finally got around to trying to move things up a
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gear she was like ‘nah, mate’. So he decided to write a song about going out and distracting yourself from something that’s on your mind by having fun doing something else. Linked to Spanish bull fighting? Yeah I don’t really get that. I think the lyrics were written quite quickly for some parts of that song and I don’t completely understand it. But it doesn’t have to completely make sense, there’s still a meaning behind the song. You were originally called Films and ‘Matilda’ was inspired by the film Leon, right? What has been Alt-J’s favourite film this year?
Good question. We went to see Skyfall a few days ago, that was pretty good (laughs). What else have we all enjoyed? It’s not a new film but we watched this documentary called Helvetica when we were living together which we all really liked it. We watched it once and then again the next week. If you were going to write a James Bond theme tune what do you think you would write? Well you have to be given the name of the film don’t you I suppose. It was quite funny though we did actually talk about how one of our songs would be a really good James Bond theme tune. A new song that we’re working on but I don’t know if the timing’s going to be right to be honest (laughs). You have just written a song for David O’Russel’s new film Silver Linings Playbook haven’t you? How did you come about doing that? David got in touch with our label and asked ‘would Alt-J like to write a song for my new film? because he was a fan of our music and we’re equally a fan of his films, especially I Heart Huckabee’s, Three Kings and The Fighter, so we were like ‘hell yeah’. We had this song ‘Buffalo’ that we’d been working on for a while and had a recording of that we weren’t that happy with so we went back to the studio, played with it some more and asked Mountain Man, one of our favourite bands, to contribute some guest vocals. And now it’s come out sounding really cool. Did you know anything about the scene which it was going to be used in or the plot of the film before you adapted ‘Buffalo’? We went to David’s office in Hollywood and they showed us some possible places where it might be used but I don’t think it ended up getting used in those places at all. Apparently one of the studio bosses wasn’t that keen about using it in a certain scene but Bradley Cooper was really passionate that it should be used there. Hearing that was quite cool.
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Speaking of songs which aren’t on your album, how did you come across the remix of Kylie ‘Slow’and Dr. Dre ‘Still Dre’ which you play in your live set?
That’s an interesting one. At our first ever gig in the front room of our student house at Leeds we decided to open with an instrumental cover of ‘Still Dre’. I can’t remember why that was, I think somebody in the ‘audience’ suggested it. So we did that and then didn’t ever play it again, until a few months ago we were in London off to get lunch or something and I was thinking about it and in some weird way it came into my head that it would work well with the vocals from ‘Slow’, which is one of mine and Joe’s favourite Kylie Minogue songs. So I was like ‘hey guys I reckon we could do a really good mash up of ‘Still Dre’ and ‘Slow’’. We worked on it, and then started playing it at every gig. Have you got any tracks that represent this successful year for you? That’s a good question. I’ve been listening to a lot of Haim and playing a lot of them to everyone else; to some mixed responses. They supported us in Paris a few days ago and they’re really good. Stealing Sheep as well, who supported us on a UK tour and we’ve been listening to a lot of their music ever since. Have you built a good relationship with all of your support acts then? We had a serious relationship with Cave Painting and Stealing Sheep. We toured with a band called JBM in America and they were really great as well. They’ve been our big three support bands. When you’re on tour with people you don’t have to have a relationship with them because you travel separately, have separate dressing rooms and so on. But we toured with Ghostpoet last February and that was great because he was really welcoming and always hung out with us. We had a really good time with him and having experienced that we’re always very keen to do the same with our support bands. They’re normally stuck in some tiny dressing room with a case of Carlsberg and a few bottles of water and we get a cornucopia of dips and amazing food we’re not going to drink and eat ourselves so we always get them to come and help us.
always very keen to do the same with our support bands. They’re normally stuck in some tiny dressing room with a case of Carlsberg and a few bottles of water and we get a cornucopia of dips and amazing food we’re not going to drink and eat ourselves so we always get them to come and help us. Do you have any Alt-J secrets you can reveal to The Mic? Let me think… We’re kinda boring. Joe is an exceptionally inconsiderate sleeper, he snores loudly, sleeps on his back and will spread onto your bed if your beds are next to each other. He’s a great guy apart from that. Do you try not to share a room with him then? (Laughs) there’s reasons why I like to sharewith Joe. We like to share clothes with each other and he’s always got lots of nice things like moisturisers to use which is good. Is he the Mum of Alt-J? I think I’m the most organised on the tour, but I don’t know if everybody would agree with that. Thom is definitely the least organised but we love him all the same. We recently found out that, although we knew he had a serious peanut allergy, he hadn’t had an epi-pen for years. So we were like ‘right, we’re going to have to get you an epi-pen’, which we did in America so it was really expensive. Then the night before last we were going out for dinner with the label to an Indonesian restaurant in Holland and I asked him ‘Thom, you’ve got your epi-pen right?’ and he was like ‘no’ and I said ‘fucking brilliant mate, but don’t worry we brought it for you!’ If you haven’t already had a listen to Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave you have been missing out. We're already looking forward to their sold-out gig at Rock City in May. Here's hoping Thom doesn't have any unplanned peanut-encounters before then! By Cara McGoogan
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After a successful year playing the Olympic Opening Ceremony and a sold-out UK tour, The Mic caught up with Frank Turner before his before his gig at Rock City. Hey Frank, welcome back to Nottingham, are you excited for tonight? Hey. Yeah, it’s nice to be back in Rock City, I’ve played every room in this building at least four times. I like Nottingham. I hear you’ve said that if you hadn’t made it as a musician you would have become a history teacher; what interesting history would you teach the students of Nottingham? Well obviously the main thing is the Robin Hood business. (Laughing) You might have accidentally made me geek-out here. There’s a funny theory at the moment about the myth’s origination and the tailor’s guilds. Green cloth was really dear back then and it’s said that that the myth was circulated to increase the demand for green cloth so the tailors would make more money. Or at least that was why he was always dressed in green. I don’t have any idea if that’s actually true but I enjoyed reading it (laughs). I can see that you’re partaking in Movember... (Shudders) Are you not very happy about it? No, (laughs) I’m not annoyed about it, it’s great to get more guys to go for health check-ups. That said, I just look like a sex criminal. I didn’t realise you have to shave clean on the 1st and thought I could just take off the beard and Bob’s your uncle. But I had to shave clean, which I hadn’t done since 2003. I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, I feel like a creep and an underage pervert, I’m definitely growing my beard back the moment this month’s done. I’m glad we can be certain you’re not a pervert... Could you tell me a bit about The Second Three Years? How do you choose what to put on your albums and what to leave out? It’s a tough decision and one that I agonise over for a long time with each record; I quite often wake up in the middle of the night wondering whether I’ve made the right choices. I certainly think ‘Balthazar, Impresario’ should have been on England Keep My Bones, but I don’t know what I would take off. I have this bug bear that albums should be less than 45 minutes long, because when I was growing up I used to put my records on C90 cassettes and each side only had 45 minutes. It’s not always as simple as picking the best songs either. It’s about having the right balance between light and shade, trying to have slower songs and bouncy ones. There are a lot of decisions. Do you make all of the decisions yourself? There are certainly other people involved but at the end of the day it’s my call and with great power comes great responsibility. One of my favourite songs is ‘Sailor’s Boots’… I tried really hard to get ‘Sailor’s Boots’ written for England Keep My Bones but just couldn’t
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finish it. I knew I could probably hash something out in time for the recording deadline but it wouldn’t have been right and would piss me off for the rest of my life. Typically and annoyingly we finished the album, pressed it, passed it, sent it off to get manufactured and the next day I finished the song. Hence it’s now where it is. Did you consider holding off and putting it on your next album? No because for me songs are grouped together in time periods and it definitely belongs with the songs on England Keep My Bones, like a family. What can you tell us about your upcoming album? Well… it’s not about England, I’ve been there, done that. Would you say that England Keep My Bones was a patriotic album b? No, I’m wary of the word patriotic, it makes me feel uncomfortable, because I have lots of different opinions of England and they’re not by all means positive. I don’t think that England’s wonderful and beautiful and amazing and that I’m a better person because of my accent or where I’m from. But the older I get the more I realise it’s shaped me, for better or worse. Anyway, so I’ve done that. The new album, I guess, has sort of become a break up album. I was trying really hard to push myself to be viscerally honest. I wanted it to be raw, parts of it to be uncomfortable to listen to, a lot of it’s about my failings and short comings in life and it’s harsh. Have you ever had an experience of singing such personal songs to someone who was involved? Yeah I’ve been handed slaps across the face (laughs) after certain albums have been released. Will there be any coming from this one? It’s important for me as an artist, as a person, to ignore all that shit and make the best music I can. But it does suck that some people are going to interpret it in a hurtful way, I feel bad about that but it’s definitely the most honest stuff I’ve ever made. Is there a reason for this? I’ve been listening to a lot of Arab Strap; there’s something about Aidan Moffat that makes me feel like someone’s got a fish hook stabbing me in my soul. I like that, that’s cool. All the stuff on my record is meant to be very personal, but to everyone, which is the knack of great song writing. The other one I’ve been listening to is The National, I realise I sound like a mawkish teenager here, but I can really relate to their lyrics. They sing about love and relationships in a jaded, more grown up way, about things like hate sex, one night stands and self-loathing; things that come when you get older and talk to me so much more. You seem to approach music in a very poetic way; do you take influence from other art forms too? I read a fair bit of poetry; I’ve actually got a brand new Phillip Larkin tattoo (he says, taking his jumper off)... At that moment Frank’s tour manager came in so we thought it would be best to end the interview with this Larkin appreciation: ‘what will survive of us is love’. You can read more about Frank’s time in Nottingham on our website at www.themicmagazine.co.uk and keep an eye out for his new album at the beginning of next year. By Cara McGoogan
“England Keep My Bones” by Frank Turner is available now. www.facebook.com/frankturnermusic
www.myspace.com/frankturner 11 | The Mic
Mikill Pane Hey there, Mikill! How are you? Where in theworld are you at the moment? Hey. Bristol – literally just got to my hotel room.
How is the tour with Rizzle Kicks going? It’s really good. You can have really chilled nights with Harvey and Jordan, watching films on thetour bus and then you’ve got your party nights. But you can learn a lot from them as performers. Although I’ve been performing for longer – I can learn so much from their interaction with bigger crowds. They’re taking things to a bigger level.
The new single, ‘Dirty Rider’ is awesome. I have annoyed my housemates by playing it. How would you describe the vibe for someone who doesn’t live in the vicinity of my flat? It’s a mashup of hiphop, ska and punk, a very simple ode to city riding. I personally ride an Explore bike, but I’m not discriminating against other bike riders! I don’t want to alienate people. It’s not just about being green – the great thing about bike riding is you can take in so much more. They allow you to be observant.
I can’t appreciate this as I can’t ride a bike. But as a Londoner, Did you not feel the need to represent the humble Boris bike? Well, they’re actually much more relaxing.
The new ‘Dirty Rider’ EP is very different to the ‘Morris Dancer‘ EP; would you say it’s tailored to a live crowd? Everything I do these days is done with my band in mind. We played the BBC Introducing Stageat Reading & Leeds this year and we want to take everything up a The Mic | 12
notch and onto a bigger stage.Festivals allow you to road test new material and try new things so it’s great to have a live band there.
How was the whole festival hype for you? You are a very well dressed man – mud and trainers don’t really mix. There’s a rumour that you have 600 pairs of shoes. Actually, it’s more than 600. At a ballpark figure, I’d say reaching 800 now. I grew up with 4 sisters, so make of that what you wish!
What’s been the most extravagant shoe purchase? [laughs] I don’t really wanna brag but I don’t really have to buy my shoes any more. I just get them. For free.
It must be a perk of getting signed? It’s been a boyhood dream of mine to have a relationship with Nike. It’s been going on evenbefore I got signed. I think it should be every child’s dream to get free stuff or at least to get freeshoes from Nike. It’s the way forward. Free stuff in general is cool.
So what other free stuff have you blagged? Things.
But have you got a black Nando’s card? You’ve made it in life when you’ve got one of those. No. But I do have an uber top secret card at an American diner, which is good but not so goodfor my cholesterol.
You’ve worked with a whole load of artists – P Money, Example, Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran, is there anyone left that you want to work with?
There are various new bands but the ultimate goal is to work with Annie Lennox. She’s got anamazing voice and an amazing personality.
That’s certainly different. Would you say you’re very different to most hiphop artists and rappers out there? The hipster word does get thrown around a lot with you.
It’s all about intent I guess. If you look at old 50s movies, that’s when hipster culture started. A true hipster is someone who’s more forward thinking than everyone else and doesn’t make generic decisions creatively. By virtue of the fact that you’re being creative you can’t make generic decisions. I think if you’re using the word hipster right then it’s an observation but in the wrong sense, it can be an insult. These days, hipster makes you think of people trying hard to be different,going against trends.You’ve got to take something and make it positive. So it’s all about been being innovative? Yeah – take the N-bomb for instance. It’s become a mainstream word. But it’s debatable – it’s sometimes a racial slur. But loads of words get reclaimed and their uses and meanings change, it’s not just the H-word. The King of Punchlines 2008 was Lil Wayne but I think I may hand his title over to you – you are now the new King of Punchlines for 2013. Thanks! I will happily accept this accolade. I love writing. Wow, what a shit acceptance speech![laughs] How’s writing for the album coming along? Why Blame Miss Barclay? Miss Barclay was my English teacher. The album was actually finished before I signed my record deal. Mercury have the utmost say in the project but in terms of content and how everythingwas written, creatively and musically, I’m super happy with it. We’re mixing the tunes now and justcoming to a point of agreement of every single track.
That sounds great. Would you say that being signed to a major label has hindered or helped you? It’s quite a contentious topic and some people tend to shun them now. It’s definitely helped thus far. When you’re dealing with more people, there are more things to agree and disagree on but as long as you’re all adult about it and respect each other’s decisions then it’s all good. Some artists however .bent over and got shafted a bit too quickly
Controversial. Care to name drop? Nope. I think we all know who they are.
What are your musical influences for this album then?
The music on this album was done with my two managers: Jake Gosling and Adam Coleman. They’ve written most of the music for the album and I’m charged with the lyrics.It’s just us three and the producers – we’ve got True Tiger on there, production wise.
Are there any surprises on this new album? Any switch ups in style? I guess the only surprise is that there are no collaborations. Your first album is a statement of intent. When you’ve just been signed to a major, it’s very easy to get loads of popular artiststo collaborate on a single with you for sales. I made my collaboration EP [You Guest It] free to download. We got Katie Price on there. I know people may look down on her with disdain because ofdecisions that she’s made but she’s a lovely person and she suited exactly what we wanted done on the EP. Putting out good music for free is easier. It’s the most downloaded EP in SB.TV history and I couldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for free.
You’ve got loads of tattoos – do you have a favourite? Any secret hidden ones? Oh wow. I can’t really pick one Nope, actually. I think tattoos are art; you wouldn’t hang a painting in a dark room. They’re there to be seen. I’ve got a large one on my right shin which says ‘NOW’. The ‘O’ is from Spike Lee’s 40 Acres [& A Mule] Filmworks logo. The 40 Acres & A Mule is what the free African American slave swere promised by Abraham Lincoln before he was assassinated. His vice president took over andthe whole thing was vetoed. They never got anything. This isn’t about colour – I’m not a black guy with a chip on his shoulder [laughs]. That tattoo represents getting what you’re owed. There areso many people in history that should be paid what they’re owed or given what’s rightfully theirs. Wrong doing by mankind should be put right.
That’s quite deep. Do you think there’s a deeper message on this album or something you may go into more on the second album? Why leave it until the second? This album isn’t going to be full of club bangers and hit singlesand stupid shit like that, I want an album of completeness. A complete piece of musical and lyrical work that works well as an album. You can take some singles out if you really want, but it should work as an entity. By Natania Duhur
’Blame Miss Barclay’ is set for release early 2013 via Mercury Records. http://mikillpane.com
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T he MIC PR ESEN T S
Last year the Mic’s editorial team put on a gig in the Red Room of Rescue Rooms, headlined by the math/classic rock You Cry Wolf, and since then we decided that hosting gigs ourselves was a great way for promoting not only the magazine but also Nottingham-based talent. Be it with bands from the University of Nottingham or just from the local area in general, both gigs were a success and have made The Mic a far more personal experience. In October we once again hosted a gig in the Red Room with an all UoN line-up. Opening the night were Alaskan Faction, a relatively new dance-pop band who had the appropriate open and close high-hat dance beats, quick-strum chords and single-note melodies of the genre. Their songs are addictive and show promise, and as they grow into themselves we can look forward to them finding their own sound. Next up were the personal highlights of the night, Michael A. Grammar. They’re a quiet but friendly looking bunch, hence my surprise as they dropped into their set with a huge opener that showcased their echoey vocals that complimenting a deep, epic sound that managed to maintain a somewhat nonchalance in their slow-paced control. They weren’t much of a talking band but again this added to their enigma; YouTube ‘All Night, Afloat’ if you fancy a delicious example of it. Recently graduated Tiger Blood finished the night with a short but sweet set of confident and consistently satisfying dance-indie. Reminiscent of The Smiths but with a modern Two Door Cinema Club polish, the band suited the line-up perfectly as people got ready for a heavy Friday Night (most probably at Bodega’s Pop Confessional, where the social carried on). Our second gig took place in November after a last-minute move from Rooms to the lesserknown but equally apt J.T Soar (thanks to the
boys from Without Maps and Plaids who help run it). This relatively new performance space cum recording studio, located in Sneinton near the old marketplace, used to be a fruit and potato wholesale warehouse, but now with some cozy decor and mood lighting it hosts great punk/post-rock/emo music. The first two bands, Pylons and The Charm of Achilles, were handpicked from The Mic’s own stores of talent, the former setting the benchmark for the evening of delicate post-rock whilst the latter pleased members of the crowd who perhaps found the rest of the night’s music a little obscure for their liking. As late as the change of venue was the addition of Derby heads Cheap Jazz to the lineup, who played a completely different set to the one they performed to Nottingham only weeks before when they supported Kappa Gamma at the Bodega. Previously the band had that happy, jangly emo sound, not unlike that of A Great Big Pile of Leaves or Algernon Cadwallader. But as they graced a now full J.T Soar, the band decided on a grungier choice of songs, almost reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age or Haunts. In any case, the change was welcome as each song evidently went down well, although we admit we did long for a little happy jangle jangle. If anyone thought it was Cheap Jazz who finished the night then that would be a prank between themselves and the actual headliners Papayer, who addressed themselves as vice versa. Both being Derby bands, they were clearly friends who enjoyed a bit of banter, but rest assured Papayer closed the night. College-rock riffs, impressive time signatures and moaning shouts characterised their set, and under the silhouette of the sole decor lamp, the atmosphere perfectly suited the band. The move to J.T Soar was more than a silver lining to the last minute stress and we’ll certainly take you back there in 2013.
By John Bell 15 | The Mic
FRIDAY 18 JANUARY 2013 AT STEALTH & THE RESCUE ROOMS.
FRIDAY 01 FEBRUARY 2013 AT STEALTH & THE RESCUE ROOMS.
FRIDAY 01 MARCH 2013 AT STEALTH & THE RESCUE ROOMS.
SUNDAY 05 MAY 2013
AT ROCK CITY, STEALTH & THE RESCUE ROOMS. PREVIOUS
ACTRESS, AMIRALI, ANDREW WEATHERALL, BEHLING & SIMPSON, BENJI B, BEN PEARCE, BEN UFO, BILL BREWSTER BODDIKA, BONDAX, BRACKLES, BREACH, BULLION, BURAKA SOM SISTEMA, CARL CRAIG, CLAUDE VONSTROKE CHAMBOCHÉ, CHARLIE BANKS, CHROME HOOF, CRYSTAL FIGHTERS, DÂM FUNK, DARK SKY, DEADBOY, DERRICK MAY DIPLO, DISCLOSURE, DJ MEHDI, DJ ZINC, DRUMS OF DEATH, DUSKY, EATS EVERYTHING, ELIPHINO, EROL ALKAN FACTORY FLOOR, FAKE BLOOD, FALTY DL, FANTASTIC MR FOX, FATIMA, FRIENDLY FIRES, FUNKINEVEN, GANG COLOURS, GEENEUS, GEORGE FITZGERALD, GHOSTPOET, GOOSE, GREG WILSON, GREYMATTER, HAPPA, HOMEWORK HUDSON MOHAWKE, HUXLEY, HYETAL, HYPE WILLIAMS, ILLUM SPHERE, INSTRA:MENTAL, IVAN SMAGGHE JACKMASTER, JAMES BLAKE, JAMES HOLDEN, JAMIE JONES, JAMIE WOON, JAMIE XX, JD TWITCH, JIMMY EDGAR JOY ORBISON, JUAN ATKINS, JULIO BASHMORE, JUSTUS KOHNCHE, KEVIN SAUNDERSON, KINK, KODE 9, KORELESS KWES, L-VIS 1990, LATE OF THE PIER, LEON VYNEHALL, LOEFAH, LONE, MAYA JANE COLES, MICACHU, MELÉ MIDLAND, MOSCA, MYSTERY JETS, NATHAN FAKE, NEW YORK TRANSIT AUTHORITY, O CHILDREN, ONEMAN, OPTIMO PANGAEA, PARIAH, PEARSON SOUND, REDINHO, RITON, RUSTIE, SEBASTIAN, SCUBA, SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO SLIMZEE, SPACE DIMENSION CONTROLLER, SPENCER, SUNLESS 97, TAYO, THE 2 BEARS, THE INVISIBLE, THE JUAN MACLEAN, THE XX, TODD EDWARDS, TODDLA T, TOMB CREW, TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS, UFFIE UNTOLD, VAN SHE, VONDELPARK, WAIFS & STRAYS, WALLS, WE HAVE BAND, XXXY, ZONGAMIN & LOTS MORE. DOLLOPDOLLOP.COM // WWW.MIXCLOUD.COM/DOLLOP // TWITTER.COM/DOLLOP_UK FACEBOOK.COM/DOLLOPDOLLOP // FACEBOOK.COM/GROUPS/DOLLOPLONDON // FACEBOOK.COM/GROUPS/DOLLOPNOTTINGHAM
TOTALLY ENORMOUS EXTINCT DINOSAURS Exclusive gig review from The Mic Mag
In the dawning of the Noughties, synthesisers were abound and electrobeats flowed from every musical orifice. Bands like Hot Chip and Metronomy paved the way for a new wave of mid-70’s synthpop. With this onslaught of the chiptunes, what was to be of live music? Were stages to solely be populated by one person bands and synths? Armed with his trusty synthesisers, Orlando Higginbottom AKA Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs AKA TEED, steers away from the expected visuals of an electropop gig. Usually clad in a headdress, of which he seems to have a collection that even the late Isabella Blow would be jealous of, Orlando synthesises electro spectaculars. In the midst of the bleeps, bloops and tickety toops, the TEED clan bring lasers, cannons and dinosaurs to the stage. Yes, I said it, DINOSAURS! First though, their support Roosevelt opened the night with his ethereal vocals of ‘Sea’ and the upbeat rhythms of ‘Soleil’ amongst others. Roosevelt’s tunes sent currents through the crowd but this slowly dissipated as he left the stage and the 40 minute wait for TEED began. Chants of ‘TEED! TEED! TEED!’ began to resonate during the last 10 minutes; until not a minute too soon Orlando appeared. Disappointingly, his infamous headdresses were not in sight but instead Orlando was draped in a metallic cape. With a flick of his cape, the set began. In the aftershock of starter ‘Panpipes’, the effortless song changeovers transformed
THE CROOKES Justin Thornhill reports for the Mic Mag Entering the room to the soundtrack of Bugsy Malone, The Crookes certainly set the tone for the evening. At the end they left the room having wooed an audience at the Bodega with a nostalgic brand of indie pop that was every bit as effortless and charming as Mr Malone himself. The band mainly drew from their newest album ‘Hold Fast’ with the infectious ‘Maybe In The Dark’ starting proceedings and the slower ‘Sal Paradise’ mixing up an otherwise high tempo set list that had most moving their feet. Intelligently crafted melodies and lyrics awash with romantic narrative added to a sound that evoked ‘50s rock and roll with all its rhythm and hand-clapping. The Mic | 18
Rock City back into one of its club nights with added Dubstep undertones. The night was filled with tracks from TEED’s most recent album Trouble and lights painted the space with an array of colours. Beats dictated the dinosaur-scale lights, visually transporting the audience to a different world; a world that can only be described as dinosaurs on acid, where the dinosaurs were dancers in ‘Bombe Surprise’ outfits and owned confetti cannons.
“Yes, I said it, DINOSAURS!”
Luisa of ‘Lulu and the Lampshades’ also made an appearance during ‘Garden’, a definite crowd pleaser known from its exposure on the Nokia Lumia Advert. It was the penultimate ‘Tapes and Money’ which finally raised the rood with the cries for an encore it brought forth. TEED definitely did not disappoint, completing the show with a rendition of ‘Garden’ clad in the winning headdress from his summer competition. Migrate back to Nottingham soon, TEED. social
TEED’s latest releases are available now on Itunes www.facebook.com/totallyenormousextinctdinosaurs @TEEDinosaurs
By Jennifer Yu
Front man George Waite’s swaying head was a relentless metronome throughout their set, only stopping to joke with the crowd between songs.
When the audience weren’t clapping their hands they were clicking their fingers; this was the only backing Waite had as he charmed them with his crooning vocals during ‘Yes, Yes, We Are Magicians’.
The Crookes have succeeded where Instagram has failed, putting their own vintage twist on the modern and differentiating themselves from what is becoming an increasingly repetitive genre. I’ve no doubt Fat Sam himself would have approved. By Justin Thornhill
“Hold Fast” by The Crookes is available now. www.facebook.com/thecrookes.music
www.myspace.com/thecrookesmusic 19 | The Mic
BODEGA 23/10/12 ‘Everything Touching’ is out now on Big Scary Monsters. www.bsmrocks.com
he Brighton-based Tall Ships returned to Nottingham for the third time, having played previously at the Chameleon and Rescue Rooms. We sat down with bassist Matt Parker and drummer Jamie Bush for a quick chat before the gig. Whilst happily eating noodles, they tell us that they’re completely exhausted, “when we left for this tour, we were fresh faced!” says Matt, gesturing to his unruly facial hair. It’s fair enough given that we’ve caught them on the last leg of their mammoth UK tour, in promotion of their first full-length album, Everything Touching. The night before saw them play to a sold-out crowd at London’s XOYO, which they described as “fucking crazy, really something special”. Their intelligent and danceable take on indie has been described as math-rock by heavyweights such as NME, but the boys refute this. “We’re not clever enough! We like technical music, lots of loops, but we’re definitely not math rock.It’s a great compliment though! Our label, Big Scary Monsters, is very mathsy, so that’s probably why.” When asked about their summer festival performances, the boys lose count of the amount that they did. However, they did particularly enjoy their headline sets on the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds. “We almost missed the chance. We ignored the email from Huw Stephens for something like six days, but thankfully, we replied just in time. That was a great show.’ / Photo from http://www.facebook.com/wearetallships Thewearetallships.co.uk Mic | 20
Talk moves on to the future. The boys ambitiously state that they want to have a follow-up album out by March, and “are looking forward to giving Everything Touching a break”. In the nearer future, t he band will head out to tour Europe alongside Nada Surf, which won’t be the first time they have played outside of the UK: last year they supported Metronomy in Brazil. Despite technical difficulties, Matt confirms that “the Brazilians loved our south- coast charm”. We point out that Nottingham’s Bodega is slightly less extravagant than Sao Paulo. They don’t seem to mind. They advise us to rush upstairs to watch their Danish support band, Dad Rocks, who provide a set of acoustic, folk-influenced songs. They combine stunning vocal melodies with sparse, largely acoustic instrumentation, reminding us of a slower -tempo Stornoway. After a short interlude, Tall Ships take to the stage with album-opener, ‘T=0’. The set flows well, sampling exclusively from Everything Touching. At times, lead singer, Ric, seems genuinely moved by the terrific response that they are receiving from the crowd. ‘Oscar’, their favourite track to play live, stands out on the night, while ‘Books’ invokes an enthusiastic sing-along from the audience. Triumphantly ending the set with the emotive ‘Vessels’, once again the crowd provide the backing vocals. After such an eagerreception, we’re sure that Tall Ships will be gracing another Nottingham venue in the very near future. By Katie Hawthorne and Alex Neely
ny old-timers with an interest in the alt.rock/pop scene should recognise the unmistakable vocals of Hugo Manuel from melody maestros Jonquil. But Manuel’s current solo project, Chad Valley, turns away from the Oxford indie scene to the sunny-synth sounds of chillwave a la Toro Y Moi and Washed Out. The debut EP Equitorial Ultravox was the soundtrack to my summer this year, and whilst I’d only heard a couple of tracks of the album Young Hunger (and not particularly thought much of them) Chad Valley was undoubtedly the act I’d been looking forward to seeing most this term.
Interestingly the show was opened by Trophy Wife, a band who despite their recognisable hits is still yet to really ‘make it’. I’d never seen the band live before, but knew tracks like ‘Microlite’ that were interesting to see performed as a live band, since their recorded sound is so light and electronic. Ironically, the opposite to be said for Chad Valley later . It was Trophy Wife’s last night supporting Manuel on the Chad Valley tour, which was a shame since their set was often loose and they looked uncomfortable because of it, and the somewhat lacking
crowd did not make things better. On stage sharply, Chad Valley started with a couple of niceties and then dropped into his new material. Aided with both a gorgeous lighting system and backing singer, the atmosphere was brilliant despite the still quite lacking audience. New tracks like ‘Fall 4 U’ had the suitable mix of chilled echoey synths and fat clublike drops, but lacked the house-like rhythms and the infectious melodies of older hits like ‘Now That I’m Real’ and ‘I Want Your Love’ that were the highlights of the evening. Whilst keeping that club sound, Chad Valley’s EP recordings have such a wellpolished layering that it feels like more than just a Korg and a Mac are at work, and it would have added so much more the show had he implemented say, a live bassist, or even a couple of keyboardists rather than playing the backing track and jazzing it up by playing with the EQs. But even so, I can’t fault the man because he cannot write a bad song and he is very much on the up rise. I just hope that come the next festival season, Chad Valley takes my advice. By John Bell
Chad valley bodega
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Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 15/11/2012 n case you haven’t heard, the premise of the Revival Tour sees a group of musicians- led by one of the hardest working men in Alt-Folk, Chuck Ragan- collaborate and combine together to create an evening of music which is both varied and engaging. And at the Rescue Rooms it reaffirmed this writer’s faith that live music has the ability to warm the heart and provide the best of memories. The line-up changes every year, showcasing the very best of talent in a field of music which is criminally overlooked and often derided by those who haven’t strayed further than the M&S cosiness of Mumford & Sons. It was the turn of Emily Barker, Rocky Vololato, Jay Malinowksi, and Cory Branan to join Chuck Ragan this year, creating an evening full of musical diversity. If you enjoy the tales of the like Frank Turner tells, Cory Branan has you covered. If you like your music to contain the sounds of a string quarter accompanying tender lyrics and a gorgeous voice, Emily Barker is up your street. Perhaps you feel in the mood for a mellow introspection of your life, in which case, welcome Jay Malinowski. Maybe, just maybe, you see the gaslight anthem as your favourite band, well; the rock and roll heartfelt lyrics of Brain Fallon are echoed in Rocky Vololato. What you definitely want however is to sing your heart out to folk tales spun effortlessly by the incredible musicianship of Chuck Ragan.
Whatever your musical preference, it is impossible not to feel caught up in the collective camaraderie Ragan describes throughout the night. This 3 hour, 45-song show was played to a half-full Rescue Rooms, yet even this did not detract from the night. Those that were there witnessed a musical extravaganza, full of charm, enthusiasm and, something that is missing from a lot of performances today, fun. Yes there were broken strings, bum notes and mistimed cues, but the night celebrated all of what makes music great, and resulted in a gig which for this writer, is not only of the best of 2012, but one of the best he has seen. The tour should return to Nottingham next year; please go, take my word that you will have a blast. Take these musicians to your hearts, learn all the words, sing along, dance with your friends, play these songs loud. That is the very essence of what this tour is about. By Joe Sweeting
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EVERYTHING EVERYTHING Supporting Everything Everything was the funked up four-piece Fiction, whose song, ‘Big Things’ promised just that, and stood out amongst the rest of their set. With bouncy basslines and a Hot Chip-esque synth line, ‘Big Things’ was a bright slice of smart-pop sensibility that won me over. Then came Everything Everything, opening with their recent single, ‘Cough Cough’ that finally gave the band the chart recognition that they deserve. The room was packed out and ready."You're all packed in here and you're up for it, Nottingham", cooed singer Jonathan Higgs before launching into Man Alive favourite, ‘Suffragette Suffragette’. Higgs, no longer weighed down by his guitar, happily discarded it between songs to jump about and bang drums. The Mic | 23
Their set was packed full of new songs from their hotly anticipated album, Arc. It was evident that Everything Everything have spent the past year honing in on their clever craftsmanship. The difficult second album doesn't seem to have been a problem for the band as they galloped their way through genres. But whilst a streamlined Everything Everything may worry Man Alive fans, the new songs fit smoothly alongside older material. Take the stomp along ‘Kemosabe’ for example, which features choppy synths and beats, odd samples, a heavy distorted guitar line whilst keeping Higgs' falsetto and the verbal idiosyncrasies from Man Alive. ‘Don't Try’ takes the tribal percussive moments from ‘Schoolin'’ and turns them into a climatic dance track. One clear difference with Arc that I noticed as they performed was the peppering of an overarching social commentary. ‘Duet’ featured cello swoons and a falsetto crying about the future, and of course there’s the video for ‘Cough Cough’ with its riot footage. As the crowd filed out after a brilliant performance of ‘Photoshop Handsome’ - one of their encores which was probably more playful and frenetic than ever- there was an assurance from the handful of new tracks that whatever else may be hiding on Arc will certainly make everyone stand up and dance or at least remind everyone (including you, Alt-J) that the wonky pop kings want their crown back. By Natania Duhur
JESSIE WARE at Rescue Rooms
he combination of Jessie Ware’s recent debut album Devotion and her prior work alongside electronic acts such as SBTRKT had drawn a diverse crowd to Rescue Rooms on an otherwise docile Sunday night, where the eager anticipation and affection was palpable. Instantly personable through engaging with those in the front row, the gig kicked off with ‘Still Love Me’ from her patient and soulful debut album. The amicable relationship with the crowd continued as she dedicated ‘Taking In Water’ to her brother before performing ‘110%’, a track on which the house demi-God Julio Bashmore featured on production. Jessie Ware’s seemingly effortless vocal ability had the crowd lingering on every note, with the track ‘Running’ being no exception which originally gathered pace under the guise of the ‘Disclosure’ remix. The success of this reproduction is easily traceable on hearing the original, with the melodic backdrop provided by lead guitar intertwining flawlessly with Jessie’s live vocal performance. Having confessed in the past, albeit some time ago now, to her ideal job being a backing singer - Jessie Ware is undoubtedly destined for bigger and brighter things. Not only her clear vocal talent and musical intuition reflected by her debut album and those she has already worked alongside, but her amicable and understated manner of how she carries herself. Maybe Jessie Ware should change her stance of never reading reviews and begin to soak up the ever-growing fan base and critical musical acclaim that she is nurturing. By Matt Tull
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ALBUMS OF 2012 So the much-heralded apocalypse of 2012 never came. Perhaps the musicians of today thought it might though, after all it’s been a phenomenal year for music by anyone’s standards, and as we approach the New Year, everybody has been racking their brains as to what have been the best albums of 2012. No doubt releases like Mercury-Prize winners Alt-J’s debut An Awesome Wave and the earlier records such as Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials will be constantly mentioned, and rightly so. But as The Mic looks back on our favourite albums, we thought it necessary to focus on those underdog albums that might have slipped away unnoticed.
ASTRAEA - ROLO TOMASSI After the departure of Joe Nicholson and his blurry-fingered guitar-dada, as well as bassist Joseph Thorpe, the band recruited members of Brontide and No Coast to complete their line-up, with the result of a more direct and approachable song writing mode. Astraea is their least weird, least technical record, but should not be regarded as the product of compromise. ‘Astraea’ is OUT NOW via Banquet Records
The record’s great strength is how well it synthesises the http://www.banquetrecords.com/DM006 http://www.facebook.com/rolotomassiofficial delicate and nasty sides of their aesthetic. Their previous works always emphasised the polarised antagonism between their frenetic hardcore punk physicality and their spaced-outatmospherics – which is fun, especially in their fantastic live shows; but on the record it could at times become something of a cheap trick. Astraea balances rather than clashes, with all use of contrast being for emotional effect rather than to disorientate. While this direction was hinted at on the second half of 2010’s Cosmology, they now seem confident with being almost more post-rock than mathcore. ‘Ex Luna Scienta’ and ‘The Scales Of Balance’ make mashed-out chords seem like innovation, creating choruses with force, while also giving room for Eva Spence’s roars. Elsewhere though, ‘Remancer’ and ‘Echopraxia’ prove they’re as confident with summoning up frenzy as ever. There’s a refined seductive power too, not just in Eva’s more frequent singing rather than screaming, but their more warm, soundscapey production (especially ‘Gloam’ and ‘Empiresk’), right up to the record’s glorious, M83-esque conclusion: ‘Illuminaire’. With a newfound sense of maturity and control, they’ve crafted their finest album yet. By Stephen Wragg The Mic | 26
ALBUMS OF 2012
DJANGO DJANGO -DJANGO DJANGO Since releasing their first single ‘Storm’ back in 2009, Django Django have appeared on numerous lists and features of bands to look out for. And yet it is only this year that we have seen this come to fruition in the release of self-titled Django Django. The delay has not been detrimental to the band, but this eponymous debut album has been more than worth the wait, resulting in a nomination for the Mercury Prize 2012. While they may have been overshadowed by the likes of Alt-J on the Mercury Prize they were definitely one of The Mic’s favourites. What Django Django do best is demonstrated on ‘Default’, which was the first single released from the album, discounting ‘Storm’. This song has become a minor indie hit over the past year, which is no surprise at all given its fast tempo, catchy chorus and intricately-woven guitar and synth lines. What more could you ask for from an indie-dance song? However, Django Django ask for much more from a pop song. They aim to take the listener on a journey, through swirling psychedelia to straight-up pop music. It is this approach that has earned them the dubious title of the future of indie music from many corners of the music press. Importantly, they are not just one-trick ponies. As well as the sublime psychedelic pop of ‘Default’, Django Django is a ‘complete album’, in the sense that there are no songs included merely to fill time. Single ‘Hail Bop’ rattles along under a haze of electronics and stunning escapist lyrics.
The jangly Americana of ‘Firewater’ is a perfectlytimed escape from the effects-dominated opening songs, while ‘Zumm Zumm’ is one of the simplest, yet brilliant songs we have heard in a long while. Its repetition of ‘got to get to know / got to get to know’ against a dance-influenced medley of synths and guitars makes it stand out on every listen. Another single, ‘Wor’ is very much in the same vein as ‘Default’, with its catchy chorus and fantastically basic guitar lines. ‘Life’s a Beach’ sees the band decamp to the American West Coast with a string of catchy surf-influenced guitar lines and vocal melodies, before incorporating a set of African rhythms in instrumental ‘Skies Over Cairo’. Although every song is very well-written, with little room for criticism, it is ‘Love’s Dart’ that stands out. It flows at a much slower tempo, hinting repeatedly at a big chorus, before returning to its pensive, almost melancholy self. The song builds continuously without ever reaching a peak, leaving the listener keen to re-listen. It is not as immediately catchy or dance-y as the singles, but musically and lyrically, it is the most interesting on the album. Django Django is a highly accomplished album, more than deserving of its place on our albums of 2012 list. By Alex Neely
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ALBUMS OF 2012
Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city
Compton’s Kendrick Lamar was thrust into the Hip-Hop limelight with the release of his debut album Section.80 in July 2011. The project saw him become crowned the “King of the West Coast” by Hip-Hop royalty Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and The Game. The follow up, good kid m.A.A.d city does not disappoint. In the opening track ‘Sherane A.K.A Master Splinter’s Daughter’ Lamar talks from the point of view of his 17 year old self. Swirling organs give the instrumental a haunting quality, an omen of what’s to come in the track’s story. He describes driving in his mum’s car to the house of Sherane, a girl he’d hit it off with at a house party. As he drives to her place, he fantasises about what they might get up to when he gets there, but this is ended abruptly when he pulls up to the house only to see Sherane standing there with two hooded gangsters. At that point the track cuts to a amusing skit featuring K.L’s mum leaving an answerphone message demanding her to bring her car home, and his drunk Dad yelling for his “damn dominoes”. This opener sets the benchmark for the rest of the album; the impeccable storytelling demonstrated on this track is something the listener should get used to.
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‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ is the second track. Here, Sounwave (the song’s producer) hangs smooth electric guitar chords (and sometimes strings) behind a drum track full of thumping bass drum hits and trap-style hi-hats. This creates a head-bobbing instrumental, envisioning K.L cruising down a highway in a pimped out Cadillac. “Poetic Justice” is the LP’s designated love song, as it features a wellconstructed verse from hip-hop pop star Drake. He draws on the rhythms used by K.L in the first verse to talk about how an un-named East-African girl is driving him wild “with all these seductive photographs”. This canny use of featuring artists is one of good kid m.A.A.d city’s many strengths. Each guest artist has been carefully picked by Kendrickand put on a song which suits their style perfectly. One exception to this comes on the track “Real” with Anna Wise. The hook “I’m real, I’m real, I’m really really real” is pathetic enough when Kendrick recites it, but Wise’s weak, nasal voice just draws more attention to this rare instance of laziness on the part of Kendrick
(PHOTOS FROM KENDRICKLAMAR.ORG)
Compton legend Dr Dre provides 3 verses (one he shares with K.L) of the triumphant final track “Compton”, passing the Hip-Hop baton onto one of the shining stars of this generation. Kendrick describes the “tire screeching, ambulance, (and) policemen” of his and Dre’s hometown. The Compton duo present a city ravaged by gangs, but both rappers maintain that they’re proud to be from there “ain’t no city quite like mine”. This pride is expressed in Just Blaze’s beat, with a fanfare of brass and heavy piano chords. The song rounds off the LP by setting the scene of the stories told on the album by K.L and guests. A voice mail from K.L finishes the track, he tells his mum that he’s using her car and claims he’ll “be back (in) 15 minutes”. This 5-second voice mail links the end of the
album back to the first track, proving that the album’s story doesn’t start at track one, nor end at track 12. It’s left to the listener to decipher how the story begins and ends. good kid, m.A.A.d city is a concept album with complete continuity, described by its creator as a “short film”. The LP combines meaningful and very personal lyrical content with killer beats and a great story line. It documents part of K.L’s life, and highlights how he has grown from a naïve 17 year old, to one of Hip-Hop’s most ambitious minds. By James Mudie
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ALBUMS OF 2012 EGYPTIAN HIP HOP-GOOD DON’T SLEEP
Good Don’t Sleep confirms Egyptian Hip Hop’s transition from quirky electro-pop to psychedelic, electronic experimentation. Gone are the days where it sounded as if every synth effect was being used at once, as on earlier singles like ‘Wild Human Child’. In its place, a more reflective, progressive, and perhaps mature side is displayed throughout their first full-length effort
The album opens with ‘Tobago’, arguably the best song on the album. Alex Pierce’s insistent drumming provides the backing for a series of intelligent guitar lines, before giving way to a very polished chorus- the type that works its way inside your head, leaving you humming it at every opportunity. ‘The White Falls’ is comprised of a mammoth introduction before becoming a sprawling expanse of sparse guitar and synth work. First single ‘SYH’ sees the band revisit the interesting synth lines that make ‘Tobago’ such a good song. The following song, ‘One Eyed King’ features a great bassline and album closer, ‘Iltoise’, is not dissimilar to a lot of the haunting synth work that makes Joy Division’s Closer such a great work of art. Good Don’t Sleep shows that Egyptian Hip Hop have certainly grown up since they burst onto the scene back in 2009. The album is not instantly catchy, but it is certainly a grower. It will have you humming synth lines, whether you like it or not… by Alex Neely
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING - ARC OK so technically this doesn’t count, as its release date is January 2013, but we first heard it this year and it is too good to not mention. Front man Jonathan Higgs said that the band wanted their sophomore album to be “far less uptight and less controlled-sounding than Man Alive”, and whilst I wouldn’t call their debut uptight, in hindsight one can see some sort of order in their song structures. In any case, Everything Everything have surpassed their aims and created nothing short of genius. Arc has assembled the current music trends in today’s chart-pop music but scrapped the cheesy American R’n’B cameos and predictably constant 4/4 time signatures by making intelligent pop music. Not that the band weren’t masters of alternative pop in Man Alive, but Arc boasts a far more tangible influence from the charts: ‘Armourland’ has that glorious Calvin Harris style synth whilst the must-be single ‘Kemosabe’ has got such a soulful swagger Rhianna could replace Higgs on vocals. If this description puts any readers off, then listen and let it open your mind as it pounds genius craftsmanship into you song after song. By John Bell The Mic | 30
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