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E D I TOR ’S L E T T ER It’s fair to say that music has changed ‘more than a bit’ over the past few years. DIY, in its online form, started back at the dawn of this digital age. Since then we’ve seen the birth of the blogosphere - something which has almost single handedly changed the musical landscape. Where genre barriers used to be six foot high, topped with barbed wire, these days they’re barely there at all. With Kanye arguably king of the alternative music scene, it’s no real surprise that the lines between hip hop and rock are starting to blur. It’s a world that seems perfect for Chiddy Bang. With a list of samples from MGMT to Passion Pit (and even a touch of Radiohead), it might not be rocket science, but it’s definitely fun. This month’s cover stars aren’t the only ones to be making the jump cross-border, either. From A$AP Rocky through to Azealia Banks, 2012 might actually see more urban flavoured acts storming the walls of indie than traditional four piece guitar bands. As much as we love the six string, it’s an exciting place to be. Of course, there’s always room for the old guard too. The Shins’ James Mercer might just be one of the most fascinating men in music, so it’s an honour to have him grace our pages this month. At times, it seemed like we’d not see another Shins record. Whatever the final verdict on ‘Port Of Morrow’, sometimes being proved wrong is brilliant.

CONTACT For DIY sales: tel: +44 (0)20 31764299 For DIY online sales: email: tel: +44 (0)20 76130555 For DIY editorial: email: tel: +44 (0)20 76137249

STAFF LIST Editor: Stephen Ackroyd

TV Editor: Christa Ktorides

Senior Editor: Emma Swann

Editorial Assistant: Jamie Milton

Deputy / Online Editor: Victoria Sinden

Extra Editor: Amy Rich

Features Editor: Harriet Jennings

Editorial Intern: Luke Morgan Britton

Film Editor: Becky Reed

Head Of Marketing & Events: Jack Clothier

News Editor: Sarah Jamieson Games Editor: Michael J Fax

Art Director: Louise Mason

Contributors: Adam Compton, Adam Taylor, Alex Lynham, Alex Yau, Aurora Mitchell, Bevis Man, Dani Beck, Danny Wright, Derek Robertson, El Hunt, Greg Inglis, Heather Steele, Huw Oliver, Jack Urwin, Joe O'Sullivan, Joe Skrebels, Kirsten Carey, Kyle Forward, Lauren Down, Leah Henson, Linda Aust, Martyn Young, Mary Chang, Matthew Davies, Sam Faulkner, Shefali Srivastava, Simone Scott Warren, Tom Baker Photographers: Adrian Nettleship, Emma Swann, James Pearson Howes, Phil Smithies, Richard Isaac, Sam Bond

Cover photography: Andres Reynaga DIY is contract published by Rewind Creative Media Ltd on behalf of Sonic Network Limited. All material copyright (c). All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of DIY. 25p where sold. Disclaimer: While every effort is made to ensure the information in this magazine is correct, changes can occur which affect the accuracy of copy, for which Rewind Creative Media Limited or Sonic Network Limited holds no responsibility. The opinions of the contributors do not necessarily bear a relation to those of DIY or it’s staff and we disclaim liability for those impressions. Distributed nationally.

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lot over the years with my own set up and I’ve recorded songs here and there. So, it was just an extension of what I’ve always done really. It’s just that, when I started writing this time - on this album, last year - after a couple of songs, I quickly realised there was a bit of a sound forming. It was definitely different to in the past; just more direction. I just knew what I wanted to do.”

t wasn’t strange really. I suppose there were moments when I’d look around and realise there was no one there, but it was great.” To most of us, Gaz Coombes will forever be the voice of Supergrass, but with 2012 he faces the dawning of a new challenge and a new start. Speaking about his new solo record, captivatingly entitled ‘Here Come The Bombs’, the ex-vocalist of such an iconic part of Britpop culture seems quietly confident, whilst entirely thrilled with his solo endeavour. “It was great just being able to get on with it and express what I wanted to immediately and spontaneously. Quite often, there are a lot of discussions amongst the band, and you can talk for hours about how to do something. I was just able to get into the studio and do things immediately, as and when I wanted to.” With Supergrass taking their final bows in 2010, it was with a renewed energy that Gaz took to writing again, before quickly entering the studio to begin recording. The result seems to be a much more natural effort, that began without pressure or expectation: “I’ve worked a 6

In terms of sound however, the singer is less sure of how to describe his new direction. Politely stating that he wouldn’t want to second guess opinions, he still somehow manages to make us curious. “I hope it’s unexpected, in a cool way. It’s very different because there’s no band, but you know, I was the singer of Supergrass, so my voice is still there. There will be comparisons made but more because of that: because I’m still the singer. So that might remind people, perhaps, of Supergrass. There are other areas though; I play a lot of beats - drum beats - and cut them up, loop them and do some beat programming, which was really cool. Just mad stuff on on the record, crazy soundtrack sort of sounds. I think it is very different. I hope people like it.” “I’m just going to trust that people want to hear to some cool music, and they know obviously that I’m going to be different to how I was sixteen years ago. I’ve got different influences and I play different instruments. You progress and try new things. That’s what this album is all about for me; trying loads of new things that I’ve never really tried before. I think that’s made something that sounds different to anything I’ve done before.” And try new things he has. Lead single ‘Hot Fruits’ bears a futuristic appeal,

whilst ‘White Noise’ is a more simplistic, intimate attempt, opening with just the strumming of an acoustic guitar. Tackling most of the instrumentation on his own, he was able to continue with a more freeform writing process, resulting in fluid and dreamy sounds like those of opening track ‘Bombs’. “It was great that I could just play something whenever I wanted. Quite often, you get an idea in your head, or you get a melody or a beat and for me, at the time, it felt so much easier to just go down and play it, and then do loops and cut it up. It was really quite freeing and really quick to put down. I recorded the album so quickly in a way, it was just bashing down idea after idea and not playing them too much.” Contrasting with his new exploration in musical direction, Gaz has kept everything else fairly close to home with this new album. Choosing to record at his home studio in Oxfordshire, he also teamed up with old friend and producer Sam Williams: the mastermind behind Supergrass’ debut ‘I Should Coco’, which really helped give him an extra boost of confidence. “He’s just such an amazing character. He’s great at keeping me up and positive. There were definitely moments when I didn’t feel like that and he was the one who lifted me out of it, gave me a slap around the face and reassured me.” And with that sentiment, Gaz seems content with his current project. “I’m quite excited,” he says, summarising it all perfectly with a final simple statement: “I’m definitely happy as I am.” Gaz Coombes’ debut solo album ‘Here Come The Bombs’ will be released on 21st May via Hot Fruit Recordings.




photo: Phil Smithies


FESTIVAL C ONF I R M S NE W ADDI TIONS, I NCLUDI NG OF M ICE AND ME N Slam Dunk Festival is returning for its seventh year and it's looking to be one of the best yet. Taking place at the ol' faithful locations of Leeds and Hatfield, the weekend is set to be explosive. In fact, let's get down to business and tell you who's playing. Taking Back Sunday will be bringing their legendary original line-up back to our shores, as they get set to headline the festival as a very special UK exclusive. The King Blues will be sharing their politically-fused punk, whilst Mayday Parade, Forever The Sickest Kids and The Audition will be back flying the power pop flag, and Architects, Every Time I Die, Cancer Bats and Make Do And Mend add a heavier edge.

S TA R T W O R K ON SECOND RECORD Despite their debut barely having touched record shop shelves, Howler are already hinting at the emergence of a sophomore effort. Speaking to DIY, Jordan Gatesmith, frontman of the Rough Trade darlings, has revealed plans for a follow up to their recently released album ‘America, Give Up’. “I’ve already started working on it, I’m really excited,” he exclaims. “It’s funny because you finish a record and you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s over! It’s finished! I’m happy about this record, so proud!’ And then all of a sudden, you write another song and you’re like, ‘F**K!’” Their self-deprecating lyrics, scathing titles and court case-inducing cover art might not be looking to make a reappearance, however. “I want to do something different every time,” he enthuses. “The EP [2011's 'This One's Different'] was supposed to just be sugarcoated pop music. The record is supposed to be a much darker, almost Jesus & Mary Chain, buzzsaw guitar kind of punk thing. Very shoegaze. And now, I want to space it out a bit more. I want to do live tracking, just two guitars, a bass 8

and drums. Really, really basic stuff.” Hanging out in his label’s offices, the cocky vocalist has no qualms about telling us exactly what he wants for the future of the band. “This is may be me being naive but I want to make Howler as youthful as possible. I’m 19 right now and I’ve completed a record and a tour. I want to keep Howler short and sweet, maybe do four records and leave it at that,” he divulges. “I like the whole Smiths trajectory; four albums and then f**k it. But that’s more because they hated each other than anything else. But give us four years and maybe we’ll hate each other too.” And when it comes to people the young songsmith wants to work with, he has a very clear idea of who’s next in line for production duties. “I’ve been making my producer list,” Gatesmith finishes. “I’ve got a whole list of people I want to work with. I’d like to make a shout out to Rick O’Cassick. If you’re reading this Rick, please work with us.” Howler's debut album 'America, Give Up’ is out now via Rough Trade.

And obviously, Set Your Goals will be partying up a storm, because it wouldn't be Slam Dunk without them. DIY can exclusively reveal that Of Mice And Men will also be playing, with frontman Austin Carlile having this to say about the band's appearance: “We are beyond excited to join the line up for Slam Dunk this year. Europe and the amazing friend/fan base we have made there, have become like second family to us.” Slam Dunk Festival will take place from 26th 27th May, in Hatfield and Leeds.

Photo: Richard Isaac


By the time you read this, Pure Love will have played their first ever live show. It’s then that the mystery surrounding the duo will have evaporated and the internet will have no doubt exploded with opinions and criticisms, stories and rumours. But as of right now – before we go to print, as this is typed – you’re all blissfully unaware of what’s to come. “Everything is so accessible. Everything is out there from day one. Bands are so keen to give so much of themselves away. This was just us kind of being like, ‘F**k you.’ We wanted to keep the mystery as long as possible.” And so, they did. From the moment that Frank Carter’s new project was unveiled, an inevitable buzz descended. Following the announcement of his departure, the ex-Gallows frontman unveiled the name of his new project to be Pure Love, and 10

then, well, not much else. Meeting through mutual friends after relocating to Brooklyn, Carter joined forces with Jim Carroll, the man behind hardcore greats The Hope Conspiracy and Suicide File. So, obviously you’d be excused for assuming Pure Love’s musical direction. Then again though, you know what they say about assuming... Thus, we come to Pure Love’s primary revelation: “When we finally did both meet up and talk about it, we both realised that we didn’t really want to write heavy music anymore,” Frank states simply, the pieces beginning to fall into place. “It was a semi-conscious decision to not write heavy music. We both had a really clear vision of what we wanted to do. That first night, we got home and Jim sent me some tracks and I sent him lyrics back straight away. [It was] so instant, so fast. It’s been



really freeing for me. It’s liberating.”

“I mean,” offers Carter, “some of the music that we’ve written is quite heavy, you know, in the sense that the music really stares down on you. Maybe it’s not quite as aggressive, but it’s definitely got a heavy weight to it.” From the sounds of things, their new musical direction is entirely positive, with the duo constantly emphasising how much work they’ve already gotten done in just a matter of weeks: “Jimmy had some more songs and I suggested he send them over. As soon as he sent them, I could hear melodies there already. He had this amazing wealth of songs: it was like a f**king treasure trove, going through them. We haven’t really stopped. Even yesterday, we wrote two brand new songs in the studio, so it’s just been constantly evolving. We’re supposed to be cutting songs out…” “We have way too many songs,” interjects Jim, “which is a good problem to have.” Taking to a studio in Henley-uponThames, the pair have spent the last month writing, in preparation for the recording process that begins when they return to America, following their live debut in London this month. “It’s been great,” he continues. “We’ve been living at this place for the past couple of weeks and we have another week to go. We get up every morning and go right into the studio which is in the adjacent room and it’s just been great.” “We’ve written thirty songs in varying stages of completion,” adds Frank. “And

now we’ve brought all that that here and we’re teaching them to everyone else.” The ‘everyone else’ just happening to be their drummer, bassist and keys player, alongside the one and only Gil Norton, who will be taking on production duties for their debut. “He’s been fantastic so far. He’s really just pushed us to create great songs, and he totally understands what we want to do. That was why we went with Gil: from the first time we met him, he had notes on the songs and he had ideas of what he wanted to do with them and it just worked. Our ideas matched.” But what exactly can we expect from their first album? What’s bore an influence on this new musical chapter of their lives? “I don’t think the scene [in Brooklyn] has had an influence, but, I think living there has definitely had an influence on what we’re doing. We met each other there, we were both removed from where we were from and it was a great experience; very liberating and freeing.” And in terms of music? “It’s hard to say there’s an obvious influence. It’s just all the good music that we love. Growing up, the music that we listened to, there’s little bits and pieces in there, but it’s difficult to say. “I don’t wanna say any names of bands because instantly people will latch on to that and are just gonna put us in a hole we don’t want to be in. To me, it’s just rock music. All we’re saying is that people should come to the show with an open mind: if they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they won’t come again.” It must be incredible, we conclude, to begin a career without being put in a pigeon-hole: “Yeah, not yet!” Frank laughs. “Come the 15th of February, that’ll change.” Pure Love made their live debut on 14th February at Bush Hall, London. Check out our verdict on

Photo: Richard Isaac

“We were trying to tell people that it’s not going to be a hardcore band,” begins Jim, who remains the quieter of the pair, but speaks with the surest of tones and the most wonderful Boston drawl. “There are some people still thinking that this is gonna be a heavy band, with everyone screaming and angry. I dunno.” You can almost hear him shrug. “They’ll find out soon enough.”


REVEAL NEW EP RELEASE Little Comets have exclusively revealed to DIY that they will be releasing a new EP on 30th April. Following last year's debut album ‘In Search Of The Elusive Little Comets’, the Newcastle-based trio put out their ‘Worry’ EP in November. However, the band – ever the productive bunch – will be releasing another very soon. The as-yet-untitled release will be dropping after the band’s UK tour in April, and we spoke to them to find out just how excited they are. “We’re busy putting the last little flourishes on our new EP,” they told us. “The songs will be the usual mix of sprightly melodies and objective lyrics. We haven’t actually come up with a title yet, but we have a six hour van journey coming up so we can do some brainstorming then…” In the meantime, you can catch the band at the following live dates: APRIL 20th Glasgow; 21st Manchester; 22nd Leeds; 23rd Birmingham; 25th London; 26th Norwich; 27th Brighton. Tickets are on sale now. Visit thisisfakediy. for more information. 11

TA L K “A G G R E S S I V E ” NEW ALBUM This month, Every Time I Die are getting ready to release their fifth album ‘Ex Lives’; a record laced with explosive aggression but harnessed with the skill the Buffalo band have for so long possessed.

of ‘Ex Lives’ arrived immediately after their headline slot on the Rock Sound Riot Tour at the end of last year. In fact, we’d barely had time to reminisce about memories of their UK visit before we realised we’d have new music in our ears.

“I think it came out naturally aggressive because I wasn’t really comfortable,” frontman and vocalist Keith Buckley reveals to DIY. “For the first time ever, I had to perform the vocals in front of everybody. It was very frightening. I was making mistakes in front of the guys for the first time and it got me a lot more self-conscious. I was a lot more nervous and I think that anxiety definitely comes across.”

“I kinda like going dark for a little bit and really focussing on writing, having some time off. Normally, the way we do it is to record in-between tours and then as soon as we’re done recording, we go back out on tour. Then when the record comes out, we’re on tour. It’s like working in tandem with the other stuff that we’re doing.” So did the break open up more doors for the band creatively? “It’s given us a lot of time to think about how we wanted to approach it. I definitely had more time to think.”

The news of their album release came out of the blue for most of us. Having released their fourth effort ‘New Junk Aesthetic’ three years ago in 2009, the band went quiet until the announcement


Continuing along the theme of discomfort, it seems ‘Ex Lives’ was a means Buckley could use to deal with

something he jokingly calls his own “mid-life crisis”: “I had reached a point in my life where I was pretty disappointed in a lot of things that were going on. There were definitely a few new stages that I had undergone, going into writing the record. It’s a little angrier, and I was a little older. There were a few 'What am I doing with my life?' sort of moments.” And obviously, being in a band can begin to take its toll, not to mention after being in the same one for well over a decade: “There’s always stuff to write about, but it’s not always interesting. It’s not necessarily creative writing: it’s the same experiences that I’ve been having on tour. I’m still in a band, so chances are I'm gonna run out of inspiration.” “It’s funny because everyone’s always talking about going and getting out and changing their perspective on life. Well, what if all you do is have a change of perspective? What happens when you want that normality back? That’s definitely something that comes out in the record: where am I headed at thirty two years old?” Every Time I Die’s new album ‘Ex Lives’ will be released on 6th March via Epitaph Records.


GET REMIXED The Twilight Sad are currently putting together a remix album, to follow on from the recent release of their new full-length ‘No One Can Ever Know’. “We always try to release an EP with different versions of songs, in order to put out something for the fans after the initial album campaign has died down,” guitarist Andy MacFarlane tells DIY.

“I guess remixing is a kind of modern way of collaborating," MacFarlane goes on to tell us. "It’s become a lot easier to just send files back and forth - you are no longer restricted to being geographically close. “I actually completely agree with what

Thom Yorke said recently about electronic music being exciting and forward-thinking at the moment. It’ll be interesting to hear what the other people come up with.” The Twilight Sad's new album 'No One Can Ever Know' is out now via FatCat Records.

“We like to release something that carries on the theme or the artwork and bridges a gap between releases. This time we thought instead of us doing different versions it would be more interesting to get some other folk in to give their own take and perspective.” The release is looking likely to drop during either April or May, and will feature an array of both bands and electronic producers that the group have never worked with before.

BACK IN THE STUDIO WITH NEW LINE UP Rolo Tomassi may have seemed a little quiet recently but they’ve been very busy indeed, spending their time recording the follow-up to second album ‘Hysterics’. The band have also revealed a brand new lineup - following the departure of bassist Joe Nicholson and guitarist Joseph Thorpe - as well as unveiling new single ‘Old Mystics’.

this new record will be no different." “I personally want to push the dynamic range we go through,” he adds. “A lot more contrasts between the heavy intense side of the music and the more melodic side of it. I think what I’ve written so far is a

lot more direct and immediately engaging but equally there's still a lot of room to experiment and be creative with it.” Rolo Tomassi's new single 'Old Mystics' will be released on 27th March via Destination Moon. The album will follow in late spring.

“We hope that this year is going to be incredibly exciting,” explains vocalist Eva Spence. “We’re pleased to be joined by two new members - Nathan Fairweather, who plays in Brontide, will play bass, while Chris Cayford, from No Coast, will play guitar.” So, how has the change in members affected the dynamic of Rolo? “It’s given us a new lease of life and renewed our enthusiasm for making music,” James Spence, co-vocalist and keyboardist, explains. “It’s been great getting people in who are used to writing music differently; it’s given us a new approach, which will hopefully make for different results. I think a lot of people don’t know what to expect from us from release to release and 13

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Right off the back of being awarded the revered BBC Sound Of 2012 accolade, hotly-tipped newcomer Michael Kiwanuka talks us through his debut album, 'Home Again'.



This first track was written in the studio, at [producer] Paul Butler’s house actually. I was upstairs with a guitar and just wrote it there and then. We’d been recording a session with some tracks that weren’t really gelling, so I had to get away to try and focus. I wanted to do something a bit more up-tempo and then came downstairs with that song and it was exactly what we had been aiming for. It was all finished up really quickly and gave us a way into working on the rest of the record. It was when we really first found our groove, so I thought it would fit well as an opening track.


REST This one is a soft lullaby, a sort of love song I guess. At the time of penning it, I had been listening to a lot of lo-fi recorded soul music. Al Green in particular, I’ve always been interested by the way he sang. ‘Rest’ was definitely inspired by those quiet, soothing vocals, but it also has a groove to it too.


I’LL GET ALONG People used to text or phone me about something and I’d always get distracted or forget and end up getting back to them about two weeks too late. But despite this, it’d always be playing on my mind to get back to them. Sometimes you know what you have to do and while you don’t necessarily get there straight away, even if it takes some time you will in the end. And that idea sort of expanded broader to represent life as a whole.


HOME AGAIN This was the perfect choice for my lead single as it ties a lot of the album tracks together in terms of their theme. Some of these songs took a really long while to write and record but ‘Home Again’ was surprisingly swift.

I probably wrote it all in the space of 20 minutes in my own bedroom. The lyrics aren’t actually about a house, “home” as in a physical place, but instead the feeling of what home is. When you’re home, you can finally relax and be yourself. I’m often restless in my mind and I wanted to tackle these things in song form.


I’M GETTING READY No, this isn’t about getting dressed in the morning. I have a real problem of sticking things out. With anything, if you do it for so long then it will inevitably start getting difficult, and it was getting frustrating constantly giving up on things, whether it be university or playing guitar for people. So ‘I’m Getting Ready’ is about keeping on going, building on things and not dropping everything instantaneously.


BONES This one actually took

a while to do, we probably had about seven different versions of it before the final track that appears on the album. While I had been in studios before, it was never for long, extended periods of time - only for two-song sessions recorded in one take. So I wasn’t anything of an expert when it came to the technical side of things. But I’m really interested by the contrast of really sad blues songs that have this bouncy and happy rhythm to them. So this song was my take on that aesthetic.


I WON’T LIE I may sound like a broken record by now but this one’s about the same sort of feelings as some of the other tracks touch upon - when you’re at a loose end and at a loss. It’s about being honest that you need help, that you won’t lie to yourself or others about being in a bad place.



‘Any Day Will Do Fine’ is probably one of the only tracks on this album that isn’t mostly autobiographical. I wanted to write more of a story, and while it’s still personal and all, it’s also more imaginative. I wanted to test the ways that I write and try something new.


WORRY WALKS BESIDE ME It’s probably quite obvious

by now that I worry quite a bit. Sometimes it feels like it never leaves me and that it’s something that’s constantly by my side whether I like it or not. ‘Worry Walks Beside Me’ fits well as a closer simply because it would be hard to follow it with anything else really.


ALWAYS WAITING Perhaps because this is my first album, some of these tracks are a lot older while some were written more recently. ‘Always Waiting’ is probably the newest. I’ve scrapped quite a lot of tracks and I’d never put anything I wasn’t completely happy with on the album, whether it was a fresh one or a track from way back. The album is full of songs that I think fit well together and I feel like this is definitely one of those.

Michael Kiwanuka’s debut album ‘Home Again’ will be released on 12th March via Polydor. 15

photo: Emma Swann


DIY Presents

SHOWCASE NEW ALBUM For the second DIY gig of the year following January’s stormer of a show with Fanzine and Fear Of Men - we invited Tom Williams & The Boat over to the Old Blue Last to showcase material from their forthcoming new album, ‘Teenage Blood’. Before the gig, we caught up with Tom to talk about the follow up to 2010’s ‘Too Slow’. “It’s still me singing,” he explains, “and it’s still the same guys playing on it, but I think the influences have shifted slightly. “Whereas the first album might have been influenced by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Nick Cave and Tom Waits, the new album is a bit more The Band, Tom Petty, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, and ‘Loaded’ era Velvet Underground. They’re all still off the same shelf, in that they all have impeccable songwriters at their helm. If you haven’t got a decent song, then you don’t stand a chance.” It’s the writing, you see, that really makes Tom Williams & The Boat sparkle. ‘Teenage Blood’ weaves tales of love lost, 16

with new single ‘My Bones’ detailing the end of a relationship. The darkness on display here is somewhat typical of the record, though the band are careful to end in a more upbeat fashion with ‘Emily’, the story of “a boy being asked to dance, at the village fête, by the girl he swears he’s always loved.” “The song ends with about a minute and a half of the refrain ‘Oh Emily’ in sweet, cooing, backing vocals,” Tom tells us. “I thought it was important to end a gloomy album, on a more positive note.” Whilst there’s no set release date at the time of going to press, fans won’t have to wait too long for this release: it’s due a little later this spring. For photos and live sessions from the event, visit Tom Williams & The Boat’s new single ‘My Bones’ will be released on 27th February via Moshi Moshi Records / Wire Boat Recordings.




has been saved! Rick Brown, Nottingham.

Jake, we all like different things. It could be worse. We could have included Ed Sheeran. [Actually, no, we bloody couldn’t - Ed]. You’ll find a Top 50 on the website, which should ease your troubles considerably.

Hello DIY, I wanted to write in to say I’m a bit disappointed at the reformation of a couple of my favourite bands - At The Drive-In and Refused. I’ve been left with a bit of a sour taste... Whilst the idea of FINALLY seeing the two of them in the flesh and performing is obviously incredibly exciting, I can’t help but feel that these foremen of our generation have let themselves down for the sake of one big payoff. I don’t think it’s selling out well, not quite. These things turn full circle when they see such demand thrown in their face. But, I really feel like a

photo: Sam Bond


Dear DIY, I am writing with a complaint. I recently took your advice, which is usually quite reliable, and I followed the recipe for spaghetti - or ‘Pappardelle with mixed mushrooms and mozzarella’ as it was described - that Ghostpoet made two of your writers in the Autumn issue for my Valentine’s Day dinner. I went to Tesco’s especially, breaking my weekly shopping rota, and invited the girlfriend round for the occasion - which I don’t usually do as it’s rather cold and damp in my flat. Just the right environment for a romantic meal. Bon appetite!  But sadly the pasta was wet and stodgy, the lemon was too overtly zesty and the parmesan tasted gone-off. Maybe, coming to think of it, it was my own culinary ineptitude rather than Ghostpoet’s fault. Great feature though! Anonymous. Oh dear. We’re awfully sorry, Anonymous. We have a horrid feeling we may have made an awful mistake. While we thought Ghostpoet had cooked us a ruddy gorgeous veggie friendly dish, on closer inspection we’re slightly worried the rotter had actually thrown in his pet pooch (pictured). Always the quiet ones, eh? 18


Dear DIY, RE: Best Albums Of 2011 (Winter 2011) Yuck? Lykke Li? Gang Gang Dance? But no Gruff Rhys, Fleet Foxes or Destroyer? And how can Adele make her way into the top 20 but no mention of The War On Drugs? So many unanswered questions! Jake Roberts, Somerset.

Dear DIY, The problem with modern music is that there’s too much of it about, so I’d just like to give your props on your weekly ‘Tracks’ feature, allowing me to listen to the new Grimes track or Jamie xx remix every Friday in one go. A lot of procrastination time

Thanks Rick. We’ll pass on your compliments to the small farm of underprivileged bloggers we keep under the kitchen sink for Friday afternoons. .........................................

legacy might get lost. Gabriel Williams, London Gabriel, we’ll be honest. We were so excited by the return of two of our favourite bands our manners nearly deserted us. When will you be making a comeback yourself ? We loved that song you did with East 17. .........................................

Hey folks at DIY, Forgive the brown-nosing, but have to say that your First On section is absolutely brilliant! There’s so much stuff coming out at the moment, it’s difficult to know where to start, so it’s nice to have a filter for it all from there. Your boy Jamie Milton seems to be really on the ball - finding RxGibbs on there and that Shells mix too has made my past couple of weeks that little bit more bearable. It’s great to see so much electronic stuff coming through, but hopefully that doesn’t mean the end of my beloved guitar bands - or maybe they’ll all be Skrillex soon enough! Derrick Ward, Burnham Jamie. While we appreciate the amazing job you're doing, please stop sending these letters. We love you anyway. ......................................... Dear DIY, I enjoyed your Class Of 2012 feature in the last issue (Winter 2011) and especially liked the interview with Niki & The Dove. It’s great to read

interviews with these upcoming bands, and hear things from their perspective.. It’s also been good to see the likes of Niki & The Dove, Spector and Friends all making it on to the BBC Sound list. Leigh Green, Blackburn.

...I N

New bands are so last year, Leigh. We’re all about Cliff Richard now. Have you heard him? He’s bloody marvellous. Such a bro.




Hi DIY Being up in Manchester and a huge Kanye fan, it was odd watching the mathem unfurl as people on Twitter began to worry about whether or not they'd get to see the great man in Shoreditch. My first reaction was that of panic, then jealousy, then the swift realisation that Yeezy would never play a free show to a load of hipsters in the rain. For such a media-savvy bunch, it seems that the London social media elite can still get tricked by the most simple of PR tricks - could you imagine the people up in, say, Huddersfield flocking to their local train station if someone said Jay Z was going to show up? Possibly, but they probably wouldn't spend the entire time live-tweeting it. Matthew Britton, Manchester. Matthew, after a day stuck in the office we're just happy for something to tweet about. Imagine, if you will, Cults were in Greggs in Salford. There, knew you'd understand.

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HITS AND HAVE COME ACROSS THE FOLLOWING JOKE: "WHAT DO YOU CALL A MAN WHO STEALS TARMAC? NICK RHODES!" THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER? How do you make Lady Gaga cry? Poke-her face. - @RobertsonAndy What's Chris Martin's favourite chocolate bar? A Wispa... A Wispa.. A Wispa... - @duncangeere Beach Boys walk into a bar and go 'Round?' 'Round.' 'Get a round!' 'I'll get a round......' - @musicismyradar Ok, Why are members of Massive Attack reluctant to go solo? Cos' its' Tricky. - @HiDavidNewbury The Enemy's comeback. #musicjokes - @trachimbrod Which computer has had two number 1 albums? A Dell. #musicjokes - @brasseye What do you call loose change for a condom machine? Johnny Cash! - @KindNoise What do Gorillaz use to write their letters to DIY with? Feel Good Ink. (I'm sorry.) - @simonesw #MusicJokes Viva Brother. I know it's not what you meant, but it still works. - @_J_Ross_ Follow DIY on Twitter at







gaffer tape things together and figure it out as we went along. We didn’t think anyone would ever listen to us.”

used to have this book when I was younger,” Elena Tonra explains over blaring coffee shop jingles, “but I couldn’t play an instrument or anything so it was just like a book of poems that I used to sing from to myself: I was not young enough for this not to be embarrassing.” A charming, unassuming songstress with a wry sense of humour, this seems like the only possible way Elena’s musical persona could have begun: tentatively and honestly. Having started out performing as a solo artist, the Daughter moniker was born from the relationship between Elena and guitarist Igor Haefeli, who began dating after meeting at Music College. “I asked him to play guitar for like one gig and it just kind of went from there. I really felt like I had found someone that knew where I wanted to go musically before I did. We have really similar ideas and he helped with the recording side of things because I am just so technically rubbish!”  Their first EP ‘His Young Heart’ surfaced last April with gentle acoustic tracks like ‘Landfill’ and the line “I want you so much / But I hate your guts” capturing Elena’s nimble voice and raw lyrical style. A bleak, simple acoustic four track, she tells me it was recorded “in Igor’s bedroom. It was a really basic process and even a bit shambolic at times, you know we would

and I had already written most of the songs without Igor. Musically, this EP has a lot of him in it, the way he arranges stuff is amazing. Lyrically again it is all me but I don’t think this will always strictly be the case. I am not completely comfortable with co-writing because I worry that if I share my ideas the other person might think I’m an absolute psycho! I think Igor and I work really well together. I’m a bit of an old woman when it comes to new music as well so while I spend hours listening to Bon Iver and Sigur Rós it is Igor who has introduced me to artists like SBTRKT and Little Dragon.”

Thankfully a lot of people did start listening, not least the people over at Communion Records who put out their second EP: “We’re not actually signed to Communion, but they have just been so helpful” Elena remarks gleefully, “I met Kev [Kevin Jones of Communion Records] about three years ago and he has always been really supportive. Always encouraging me to come down to Communion club nights when I was doing my solo stuff. He was always keen to With a wealth of involve me in things, emotionally charged which is nice because "I WORRY THAT IF I SHARE I didn’t really have the content, bleak MY IDEAS, THE OTHER confidence to push atmospherics, poetic PERSON MIGHT THINK I'M myself to gig a lot. I lyrics, a sweet naivety AN ABSOLUTE PSYCHO!” love everything they and a bitterly honest do, it is like a great big approach, Daughter family.” seem to have found an intoxicating aesthetic that is surprisingly accomplished for something still in its infancy. “We Released last November, Daughter’s definitely didn’t expect to have the kind sophomore effort ‘The Wild Youth’ EP of year that we have had. Honestly it has saw a progression from their overtly folk been amazing. We never really had a plan. inspired debut. It finds Elena and Igor We don’t really have a plan now to be effortlessly blending acoustic elements fair, but we’ll see what happens.” Loosely, with haunting electronic sounds, wrapping though, they do have plans to release a delicate and brooding instrumental layers full-length album at the end of this year around perfectly enunciated, saccharine and with an increasingly evolved, mature vocals that contain as much venom as ever. and intricate output this can only be a “We knew we were going into a studio good thing. to record the second EP so we knew we could be more ambitious in a way that we couldn’t before. I don’t think the folk has Daughter are currently supporting Ben completely gone but we wanted to keep Howard on a tour of the UK. things interesting.” “Our first EP was definitely less diverse but then we didn’t have a studio to abuse 21


It’s fair to say that La Roux is in no rush to record her second full-length. A couple of no.1 singles have given Elly Jackson both time and space to perfect an album capable of winning critics over, rather than proving her to be something of a flash in the pan. But as Jackson mulls over things in the role of ‘perfectionist’, the rest of her band aren't twiddling their thumbs: Mike Norris proves as much, having just recently unveiled his house music loving alter-ago, Fort Romeau. First effort ‘Jack Rollin’ is taken from a forthcoming EP on 100% Silk. Far removed from his abrasive keyboard lines on say, ‘Bulletproof ’, it showcases a cautious blend of sharp percussion and smooth, evolving synthetics. Time taken off as La Roux’s keyboardist and programmer may prove to be extremely fruitful. 22

If you're an act with support slots for The Horrors and an appearance at Field Day already to your name, you can be assured you’re taking the right steps. TOY are a five-piece with these credentials, plus a hugely promising debut single. ‘Left Myself Behind’ blasts out (quite topical) phrases about ships capsizing, against a backdrop that’s half ‘Primary Colours’, half anthemic guitar pop. Demanding your attention for seven and a half minutes is quite a task, but it pulls it off. If we’re to draw parallels to The Horrors - and a great deal of people will - there are similarities in vocal style; the bursting walls of sound; the willingness to push boundaries. But even with these poignant similarities, there’s plenty of room for a band like TOY.

Willis Earl Beal’s story is charming. Its end-point is being signed to a four-albumdeal with XL Recordings imprint Hot Charity; its beginnings handing out posters advertising himself, his qualities and his ability to be a good housemate, friend, etc. Turns out, a good few twists and turns from these selfpromoting flyers and he’s emerged as an incredibly talented songwriter. His first record, ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’, is a scattered pulling together of all his influences and variances of style (we’re talking oldschool soul, combined with a grittiness and candidness), as exemplified by lead single 'Take Me Away'. Following on from that, he’ll start work on a second album right away. Brush up on remembering the backstory, because Willis Earl Beal is an interesting fellow.

On half of Mac DeMarco’s promo images, he looks like a glamorous potential superstar; polished, pouting at the camera. But sometimes (as was the case with his 'Only You’ 7” artwork) he looks drunk out of his mind, staggering towards the lens. The point is, he’s something of an enigma: an interesting solo artist who puts unpredictable turns at the top of his agenda, both in style and in his music.

It’s difficult to put your faith in a label, to be absolutely certain that whatever they have in the pipeline will be to your taste. Indeed, when Pictures Music (the label that’s brought us electronic gold from the likes of Seams and Lapalux) unveiled a new artist who makes house music, an inch of doubt crept in. It’s easy to play to formula with this genre; it’s also extremely difficult to raise your game within such strict parameters.

The Captured Tracks signing released tapes last year under the name Makeout Videotape. Very soon, he makes his bold, full-blown arrival through the ‘Rock & Roll Night Club’ EP, due for release later this spring. The tracks we’ve heard from said release blend bright Deerhunter-esque choruses with the customary, classic rock and roll style that his EP’s title promises so much of.

But, Bobby Champs has justified our faith in Pictures’ ability to pick out genuinely exciting artists. Champs’ new single, ‘All Night’ is a lesson in rejoicing in insomnia, or packing out an underground London club until daylight breaks. It’s a glorious example of how to interpret a genre whilst giving it a new spin or even, a whole new lease of life.

New Cascine signing RxGibbs is a virtual veteran - albeit up until recently, a fairly anonymous one - of making sweet, soaring electronic music. Both natural and synthetic elements clash heads before merging into one coherent echo chamber of luscious, heavenly ambience. This has been the formula applied to each of Ron Gibbs’ previous EPs, from his first effort ‘Disclosure’ right through to the just-released ‘Futures’ work. With each four-track step forward, the Michigan producer has evolved his sound into something more fruitful. The entirety of ‘Futures’ is like an obvious progression in the thought process. Such a rate of development shows little sign of stopping.




Willy Moon is a potential icon of cool, with a fetish for smart suits and fashion shoots. One of those shoots shows him looking particularly dapper, old-fashioned telephone in hand, sitting on a wooden chair surrounded by attractive women and extravagant pleasures. DIY can’t help but ask whether that’s a routine he indulges in for all phone interviews, like this one. He cheekily replies; “That’s what I’m doing right now, sitting next to a blonde girl, holding a glass of champagne as we speak.” Moon comes across like a visual star, just as much as a musical one. Sporting a love for Naomi Campbell and “seeing people who look incredible,” his fans are marvelling just as much at his striking appearance as they are with his music. “I grew up in the MTV generation... A good video adds something, it brings it into stereo.” Said fans of Willy Moon’s early work 24

however are in danger of being sent to a rehabilitation clinic due to clicking the “repeat” button so many times, such is the immediacy and above all else, addictiveness of his tracks, all of which seem to span no more than 120 seconds. “They felt like punk songs to me,” says Moon, “I don’t want to sit there and go, ‘Okay, how am I going to tease this out for four minutes,’ you know?” “I get bored quickly. I like to move about.” So far, these punk songs have taken shape as odes to 50s pop, Buddy Holly and the like. But while much of his appeal stems from a unique take on a classic sound, Moon doesn’t seem cosy with the idea of sticking to the same nostalgic feel; “If you extricate yourself from genre boundaries, it gives you a lot of freedom to move about. I like to create collisions between retro music and more modern hip-hop

inspired production. But I get bored quickly. I like to move about.” "If you extricate yourself from genre boundaries, it gives you a lot of freedom to move about." A self-confessed “escapist,” Moon has been moving about for most of his adult life. His dream consists of purchasing a bus with a built-in studio; “so I can just go anywhere.” He’s certainly unlikely to stick to one place: “I like to escape from reality,” he tells us, “I like things to be fresh.” For Moon to be able to continue recording one song a day - as he achieved for a few months - and remain prolific and fresh, it would do wonders for pop. Already, he seems to be bringing something refreshingly new. And for a guy who describes his songwriting approach as “scattergun,” long may that continue. Willy Moon's debut single 'I Wanna Be Your Man' is out now via Luv Luv Luv.





(Beggars) Banquet was at one time a whole chain of indie stores. Over the course of a few years, and a few people calling it a day, it transpired that seven years ago we took over the company (now just Banquet) from the then boss and that was the birth of what we know it as today.     We’ve always been keen to link all aspects of being a music fan.  Buying records, going to gigs, going to clubs, putting out releases, having fun, caring, and wanting to feel a part of something, are all aspects that each music fan gets involved with to varying degrees.  We as a group of music fans are no different.   We are, and always will be a record shop.  But our fortunate position within the music community means we’re in the ideal place to do more than just be that.  We put on in-stores, put on club nights, put on gigs (last year alone we put on 200 shows in Kingston) and release music.  In music, but also in non music ways, we try to give back to the community which affords us our standing.  Release shows are particularly important to us, and the

link between the person who buys music and the person who goes to see that artist perform live, is strong. It’s something we’ve been involved with since day one, and this week alone (at the time of writing it’s late January) we’ve done release shows from as varied a bunch as Enter Shikari, Tribes and Wiley.   We’re all music fans and we love doing what we do.  There are so many people that work for and with us, into all different types of music, that we do cover many different bases.  But the important thing is that people who are excited by music are able to get involved in something more than just clicking a download link.  From signing sessions by number one rap artists to instores by local bands.  From Enter Shikari selling out a 1500 cap venue to stocking a local bands first ever CD-R release… Every bit of what we do is important and we’re gonna keep on doing it for as long a we can, and as long as people enable us to! Find Banquet Records at: 52 Eden Street, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 1EE


Infectious Mumford Deez kinda sound, playing for us in March!

CLEMENT MARFO AND THE FRONT Line Local boys (and girl) with a great rock vs hip-hop hybrid. Massive hooks and a good vibe.


The spirit of Two Door Cinema Club, we’re excited for their New Slang gig in March!


Punk-rock / post-hardcore for the discerning listener. Their soon to be re-released album was my fave from a UK band from last year.


Joni Mitchell / Laura Marling styled. Beautiful songs.





Young producer Samuel Howard turned heads in 2011 with a selftitled, self-released EP. His second work, the ‘Fragile’ EP, is a more expansive work, in which Howard showcases his brittle vocals atop ice-cold electronic structures. It is a staggering work - ‘Lifeblood’ is its centrepiece.


Plenty of young producers toy with hip-hop and R&B in their electronic works, but no-one quite lives by these genres as much as J£ZUS MILLION, a 17(!) year-old producer who’s made his name on the Soundcloud platform. Classical strings fuse naturally with stopstart sample application, all forming together to produce ‘New Heart’, one of the newcomer’s finest efforts to date. 26

If you were told that InkShips applies science and maths to pop, you might be turned off. Rarely is a pop song performed with such calculation and magnitude as ‘Cassettes’. But it’s not all formulaic normality; Matt McMahon’s first work is an incredibly charming triumph, defined by chop-andchange Afro-pop samples and an analog set-up.


Patrick Berlinquette works under the alias of Warm Speakers, though many a passer-by could mistake his warped, soaring vocals for famous scientologist (and all-round good musician) Beck’s. ‘Youth’ is a sunsoaked, laid-back pop effort which progresses from funk-ridden bass to a glorious, choral closing section.


Regal Safari’s debut ‘R G L S F R’ is the perfect example in how to produce magnificent, glowing soundscapes, with an emotional resonance to boot. Not many electronic artists can add that kind of connection to their work, but the tracks showcased by the Brighton three-piece highlight an undeniable ability to achieve as much.



London act Crushed Beaks’ ‘Sun Dogs’ sneaked its way into DIY’s tracks of the 2011, sitting pretty in the No.50 spot. If the pair’s current trajectory is anything to go by, expect a steady rise up the ranks over the coming years. ‘Sun Dogs’ is an absolute juggernaut of a track; steeped in euphoria and surrounded by a shoegaze-inspired glow.





One of Bournemouth’s finest attractions - with the exception of its seaside and the emerging poppunk of Bos Angeles - is Yoofs. ‘Alt Waltz’ is something of an anomaly in their back-catalogue; instead of being bratty and short-lived, it progresses from aching verses to a soaring chorus. There’s more to these guys than harsh guitars and amps dialled up to full blast.


‘L’appel Du Vide’ is half “Haunted House” pier ride, the other half mind-boggling David Lynch film. In other words, its melodrama and style of productive give it a unique, cinematic quality. To think it’s the work of one man (Leeds-based Luke Donovan) almost makes the head explode.


One of the most promising electronic releases of 2011 was Shells’ ‘Arctic' / 'Spiders’ single. This was largely due to the sheer size of Khalid Rafique’s step-up from the ‘Pastels’ EP, released earlier on in the year. Sparse, masterfully applied structures run in tow with glowing synthetics. The entirety of ‘Spiders’ is one perfect fusion of all things beautiful.


When you first hear ‘Tropisms’, immediate comparisons are drawn to Hot Chip. The vocalist’s style is similar to Alexis Taylor’s and the use of loops and samples is inventive, sporadic and above all, fun. The Soft’s style is difficult to pin down - ‘Tropisms’ is unlike most of the act’s other efforts. But this is a charming little gem in its own right.


In amongst ‘Run Through The Door’’s yearning, spacey synths and haunting backdrop is the prominent, repeated line of: “Something tells me you want to destroy me, the way you ignore me”. Amusement’s futuristic take on pop is almost a distraction from the stark, emotional messages circuiting each song’s blood.


Just when the genre - and the word - “chillwave” seemed to have died out, in arrives another slew of young producers with a clear ability to make sweet, beach-ready works of escapism. Chicago student Selva Oscura aka. Ray Levinson-Fort is the pick of the bunch; a man who knows the ins and outs of how to make a great “glo-fi” track like the back of his hand.


photos: Andres Reynaga





t used to be so simple. Music was tribal - you had the indie kids with their plaid shirts and Converse, the urban kids with their bling, and the emo kids in the corner looking glum with their optional backpack and skateboard. Like every good American high school teen flick, never would those groups mix. It just wasn’t done. That’s not to say a few didn’t cross the lines - we’re talking more Beastie Boys than Aerosmith and Run DMC here - but in 2012, things have definitely changed. Any self respecting music fan is more than likely to have as much Jay Z as Jamie xx in their iTunes library. It’s a scene that seems perfectly ready for Chiddy Bang. Chances are you’ll have heard their sampling of MGMT’s ‘Kids’ on 2010’s breakthrough track ‘Opposite Of Adults’.

They’ve drawn on everything from Passion Pit to Radiohead, but there’s more to Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin than other people’s hooks. With debut record ‘Breakfast’ finally ready, Chiddy Bang are ready to step out by themselves. What first got you interested in making music, rather than just consuming it? Noah: When I was a little kid, my parents would take me to see Brazilian bands in Philly and I couldn’t just sit and watch. I’d run up and sit on the side of the stage and play a little bongo drum. It wasn’t about performing for me, it was just about getting to make music. Chiddy: Me, I grew up freestyling. I remember being in fifth or sixth grade and forming a rap crew with some of my closest friends. We would call each other every day and freestyle on the phone. That was what made me able to freestyle how I do today; I had early practice doing it. We were always like, “We gotta be prepared.”

Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang

Like if we were to ever run into somebody who could help us get into the game and they wanted us to rap on the spot, you’ve got to be ready to go. N: We learned later that that’s not really how it works. I was interning for Diplo and I gave him our first couple of songs and it just didn’t pop off. What’s it like trying to work towards a music career in Philadelphia? N: Philadelphia is tricky because it’s so diverse. There’s so much going on, but at the same time it’s its own bubble in that you can sell thousands of tickets inside of Philadelphia, but in places like New York no one’s heard of you. We almost blew up on the internet before we were known in Philadelphia as a result of that. Do you think Philly’s diversity influenced you? N: Hugely. I went to the most diverse high school, JR, where Will Smith went. It’s a public school but also they take a

Chiddy Bang tell us aBout their genrehopping,sample loving new alBum " B r e a k fa s t " 29

COVER bunch of kids from the neighbourhood so I had hood friends who all wanted to listen to Beanie Sigel and Young Jeezy, and then I was hanging with friends who only wanted to listen to Pavement and The Flaming Lips, friends who wanted to DJ, friends that would only play percussion for Brazilian ensembles, and then I had friends that would be in to jazz… It just made me not afraid of tipping my hat to whatever I wanted to as a producer. When it came down to making stuff with Chiddy, sampling MGMT felt like a no brainer. And now with the album, we’re trying to move away from that. It’s very easy to make a big song if you sample a big song. There’s really no challenge. For us, that’s really just been the foot in the door. So do you split writing duties? N: At the end of the day, he’s the Chiddy. It’s his name that’s all over everything. It’s a weird back and forth. I can push for what I really believe in but I don’t always get it. In fact I only really get it 20 or 30% of the time. The rest of the time either Chiddy feels a certain way and I disagree, or our manager and the label feel a certain way. When me and Chiddy polarise on issues, they become like the tie vote. A big part of this for me has been being able to step back, because I’m very very very picky. You weren’t always a duo? N: Originally we were a group. Me and Chiddy did a lot of writing, and it didn’t look like we were going to get a record deal, it looked like we were going to get a publishing deal, which is based on the writing. The other kids in the band were like, “F**k this if I’m not getting paid.” So they dipped, and I did too, and Chiddy went on tour with De La Soul without me. This was the summer of ‘09, he went


on tour with De La Soul and I went and got a job as a cook at a summer camp for children. The lawyer we had been talking to, who’s now our current music lawyer, called me up and said, “You’re a very talented kid. If you ever want to do this professionally, this is where it starts for you.” And at the time he was Kanye West’s lawyer, and MGMT’s lawyer, and I trusted his musical opinion. As a 19 year old it’s hard to say no to travelling the world, and performing on stages. My heart was

always in the studio; I always breathe a big sigh of relief when I walk in. ‘Opposite Of Adults’ seemed to propel you into the limelight. What was the thought process behind leaving it off the album? Do you think fans would expect to see it there? N: No, we got into a fight with that between the label and the management. We finally get signed and we get down to making the album and they’re like, “Right

happy feat

Chiddy and noah talk us through some of their favourite samples and guest spots so we got ‘Opposite Of Adults’, you know, the big MGMT song, we got the big Passion Pit song, now we just gotta fill in a couple of tracks and put out the album.” And I was like, “Hell no.” When I think of the great hip-hop albums, I think of ‘College Dropout’ and the Kanye West stuff. An album needs to be a complete thought; you can’t just take the hit songs and throw in filler. We definitely delve into the poppier side of ourselves, but we were both ready to take it further and more textural.

also think it’d be more boring because we’d have met less people, tried less weirder things. For a hip-hop record that’s supposed to sound complex and worldly, it was really important that we did a lot of travelling. Would I have liked to spend three months in one studio just working on one thing? Yes, but I’m a nerd, and I love nothing more than to just sit in the studio doing the artist side of things. Do you have any ideas for your next album? C: We’ve got some ideas for music in general. This album, I’m very very proud of it, but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I’m most excited about things to come, what’s next. I always try to push it. I think what I’m trying to do with the next one.. we have instruments on this album, a lot of instrumentation, but I’m trying to really use instrumentation on the next one. You know how bands make music? Like that. Some guitars, freaky drums… I’m trying to experiment. Do some s**t like that.

When did you start working on the album, and where did you record? N: The first song we made last Fall, a year ago. We didn’t in our minds think, “Oh we’re starting to work on the album;” that was just when the first track was made. I did all the beats on my laptop, so that could have been in train stations and aeroplanes and stuff, but we did 1/4 of it in Wendyhouse Studios in Shepherd’s Bush, then we did the second 1/4 in Los Angeles in a beautiful studio called Moonwine which was like part How does the process of an old Spanish church. of making an album It was amazing. Then we differ to that of did the last half in New making a mixtape? i rememBer Being in York, in Philadelphia. N: The mixtapes fifth or sixth grade So in that sense it’s were just little got, not a rushed feel, and forming a rap bursts of joy. You but a travelled feel. Crew with some of my make this thing You can tell, because it and you think, friends features only our friends. “This is sick, this I was surprised, I thought is sick! I’m putting Chiddy was going to going it out next week!” and to try to stack it full of other you get a bunch of tapes rappers, but he’s the only rapper on and put it out whenever you the entire album. want wherever you want. It’s rawer but the mixes aren’t as good because you don’t Would it have come out differently if you have time to sit on it. I’ve sat on tracks for hadn’t written it whilst travelling? six months, then been like “Oh s**t, I want N: I think it’d be more complete, but I

' truth' feat. passion pit

Chiddy: I like the Passion Pit jam because we actually opened up for them and did a show with them and they dedicated it to us. We didn’t play the song out of respect for them and they came on and dedicated the song to us. Noah: Everyone was wanting us to sample ‘Sleepy Head’ but I found this and it’s not even on the album; it’s called ‘Better Things’, it’s on their EP. Our friend put out their record in the US and just sent me the instrumental to the B-side and that was it.

' By your side' feat. CoCorosie

N: My favourite sample is the only one that we’ve ever got denied by an artist, it’s been cut from the album but we’ll probably just leak it for free. We sampled CocoRosie, a song called ‘By Your Side’ and I just took like the super kind of lo-fi, falsetto vocals and put some dirty South drums on it, it’s my favourite turn around of a sample.

' mind your manners' feat. iCona pop

N: We were looking for a song that could be as big as MGMT but wasn’t already, and we knew that song [‘Manners’] was big in Sweden and was about to be a big song but at that time, it wasn’t. It just felt right. When I pitched up the voices and Chiddy heard it, he was immediately like, “This is a smash.” To us, it was a really big song. I don’t think it actually was a smash but we could go back to it as a second single.

' out 2 spaCe' feat. gordon voidwell & ellie goulding

N: I met Gordon through DJing a lot in New York; he’s very 1979 New York: half hip-hop and half disco. He’s an awesome dude who grew up in the ghetto in the Bronx. He the only hip-hop dude that sounds like Michael Jackson. He sang the hook before we got lucky enough to get Ellie Goulding to do the backing vocals. She almost didn’t let the song come out, because she was like, “I can sing it better!”, but she was so busy she never got in the studio. 31

" we' re not afraid of tipping our hat to whatever

we want"

to mix it differently.” I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but the mix process was a constant battle between our manager and the label. It was like, “Ellie Goulding is on this song, bring the mix up! She’s got to be a huge feature!” But for me, the whole thing was that she’s meant to be woven into the background. In the end we compromised, and that’s been the biggest theme of this whole experience: learning how to compromise. Are you big on using the internet to promote yourselves? C: It’s something I’m very keen to do, but it’s difficult being on a record label; you lose a bit of the freedom that you have. I heard people say that all the time, but I never really understood it until now. Are you hoping for more creative freedom in the future? N: I don’t think any artist is like, “This album is exactly how I want it! It’s perfect,” you know? I don’t think any artist is ever fully satisfied. But, I’m satisfied not when I hear the particular beats or lyrics - I’m satisfied when I hear the the moments in between. The little tiny bits where I’m like, “Oh that was so cool, that bit right there. That little millisecond where everything just felt right.” But I think it’s good, I think people will see this is what Chiddy sounds like when they’re supporting a whole bunch of people, and this is what Chiddy sounds like when it’s just Chiddy and Noah with a laptop and stuff. Your music is quite difficult to pigeonhole. Was that a conscious decision on your part? N: If we’d done other people’s lanes, we


wouldn’t have succeeded because we wouldn’t have been the best. We took a page out of the book of Lil’ B; he created his own scene and crowned himself the king of that. We don’t do the same thing, but we definitely try to make a sound that doesn’t sound like anyone else. C: Try to collab with people that other people wouldn’t collab with. N: We have songs with other rappers like other rappers do, but then we have songs with the lead singer of Train; nobody in hip-hop is trying to do that. Nobody’s making an 8-bit hip-hop beat and then have the singer from Train sing on it. C: It’s kinda crazy. N: No one in hip hop is gonna be like, “Yeah, got the homie from Train on the album,” but we will! So did you have a definite idea of how you wanted to sound? N: Yeah, there were lots of kids making rap but we were like, we’re going to be the kids that rap on MGMT. And in 2008, that was fresh. C: I didn’t know who MGMT were. I asked Noah about the beats he was working on, and it was an MGMT sample and Notorious B.I.G ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’. I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. This s**t sounds crazy.”

constantly gobbling up new music and trying to flip it. I grew up with an amazing hip-hop producer called Theodore Grant who was carrying the whole North West, uptown Philly hip-hop movement on his back without any credit. His whole idea that he ingrained in me was anyway you can do it, just flip it as crazy as you can. At the time, I was recording lots of rock bands and I was in a lot of rock bands, and this just happened to pop off first and I was like ok, cool, let’s keep going. There’s been a rise of collaborations making their way into the Top Ten. Do you think it’s a trend that will continue? N: Absolutely. Look at ‘Look At Me Now’ with Chris Brown, it would not be a smash without Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. People don’t try to sell albums anymore, they try to sell singles, and for singles, you just pack in as much star power as you can. C: It’s definitely about combinations, you know? Finding the right combinations. N: We don’t have any crazy, crazy collabs. C: But we’re trying! N: We’re trying. But when you’re at the Rihanna level, it’s like, “Ok we take you, Rihanna, and we take you, Calvin Harris, and we take you, Busta Rhymes and it’s like whoops, smash, who cares?” There’s a carelessness to pop nowadays.

hip- hop By definition is a CollaBorative art

Were you always keen to use samples? N: At the time, I didn’t have anything else. I had a laptop and that was it. I could use the custom sounds that everyone had, or I could draw from the fact that I was

So how does it work, do they come to you or do you initiate contact with them? N: Sometimes you get lucky. We got to work with Pharrell, we got to work with



Collaborations have been a massive part of hip-hop culture. What do you think it is that makes them so integral? N: Hip-hop by definition is a collaborative art, with MCs and producers coming together. It gets people excited because they want to hear new combinations. C: We get like, “Oh, you’re in the studio with so and so, I love that!” That’s one of the questions that people always ask, and that’s what we use Twitter for, to suggest people we should work with. “You should do a song with @soandso.” N: I think a lot of bigger artists get it with us, and they’re like, “Who the f**k are they?” “Jay-Z, you should do a song with @realChiddy” And he’s like “What the f**k?” Do you ever worry about how your collaborations are going to be received by your fans? C: No, not really. We did work with Pharrell on our last EP, and we’ve got a song with Q-Tip, but as far as collabs



Q-Tip because he heard our music and he liked it. Sometimes it’s a favour for a favour, depending on who your manager is or what your label is.

What circles do you think you’re in? C: You’ve got your dance stuff over here, like MGMT and Passion Pit. We’re in there because we sampled them. Then you’ve got your hip-hop. I don’t want to say old school hip-hop, but like that feeling because it’s like the return of producer / MC combination, as a tip of the hat to GangStarr and Guru, DJ Jazzy Jeff we have songs and the Fresh Prince. with the lead Then you’ve got the Does your sound singer of trainwhole electronic DJ change depending noBody in hip- hop is thing, people like on the collaboration? trying to do that Jack Beats from out C: Yeah, I think our here in the UK. What sound definitely is very else? We fit a bit of the spread out in the sense whole rock thing, the indie that we try to make no two rock approach to making music. songs sound the same. That’s a The fact that early on we were using a conscious grow. We don’t want people computer and a microphone, making s**t to be able to put us in one category. It’s in our basement. Putting it out there. It’s wonderful; we feel as though we’re in punk s**t, making stuff on our computers a position to go out on the road with and then releasing it out there to the anyone. people. Like a venn diagram? Chiddy Bang’s debut album ‘Breakfast’ will C: Yeah, we’re like the middle of it - the be released on 5th March via Parlophone. connector. go those are the only major big big name people that we work with. We’re just working with people that want to work with us on the strength of good friendships. We don’t really worry about pressure from the fans, because it’s not like we’re making the music from a dishonest place, where we’re just trying to get in the studio with whoever and put something out and try to make a big tune.

THE DEBUT ALBUM OUT NOW ON CD/LP/DOWNLOAD “a sensational debut” – Sunday Times Album of the Week Metro




UK TOUR ON SALE NOW Thu 22 March Birmingham Glee Club Fri 23 March Exeter Cavern Sat 24 March Bristol Louisiana Mon 26 March Glasgow Captains Rest Tue 27 March York Duchess Wed 28 March Newcastle Cluny 2 Thu 29 March Riverside

Fri 30 March Leeds Brudenell Sun 1 April Norwich Arts Centre Mon 2 April Brighton The Hope Tue 3 April London Bush Hall Wed 4 April Cambridge Portland Arms Thu 5 April Manchester Deaf Institute /

The n ew m i n i - al b um Featuring “Wonder” and “Boat Turns Toward the Port”

Out March 19th on CD / LP / Download “Elegant and captivating” – The Times

dog he location for our photoshoot with Nottingham upstarts Dog Is Dead





may not look the epitome of glamour – we’re in the near-derelict upstairs of a pub in Leytonstone – but soon after arriving, we’re reliably informed that the Red Lion once hosted many bands of note. Roxy Music, Yes, Genesis – and one of Led Zeppelin’s first London performances took place here. Cue five boys trying to work out where the stage once stood.

Dog Is Dead release new single ‘Two Devils’ on 5th March. It’s described by the band as “a weird, twisted tale of a relationship filled with guilt”. Recorded with David Kosten, and already remixed by old tour mates Bombay Bicycle Club, the quintet are especially keen to tell us about the video. “It was the biggest budget we’ve ever had, and we had a really hard-working team who


photos: Adrian Nettleship

Left to Right Polo by Fred Perry £60.00 Plimsoll by Voi £30.00 Hood by Original Penguin £60.00 Tee by Original Penguin £28.00 exclusive to Scotts Polo by Lacoste £75.00 Plimsoll by Voi £30.00 Polo by Lyle and Scott £55.00 T-shirt by Voi £25.00 Desert Boot by Original Penguin £70.00 exclusive to Scotts

made an interesting set, and the ideas that we came up with transpose really well in it.” An album is scheduled to follow in mid-late 2012, which they tell us they’re “70%” through. “We’re just trying to put the last bits together, taking all the stuff we’ve been doing for the past three years to the last few weeks and marry it all

together to make a perfect body of work, to make something we’re really proud of.” Once that final 30% is complete, there’s the small (not small) matter of their “biggest tour to date” - a headline jaunt that takes in the usual suspects – and some new territory. “We’re playing pretty much everywhere in the UK, from the Highlands to... to the bottom

of the country [laughs]. We’re playing in Ireland for the first time, and in as many cities as we can, in a short space of time. It should be exciting, it’ll be good to be on the road as a headline band again, playing a lot of places that we’ve never been to – some that are just down the road.” Dog Is Dead’s new single ‘Two Devils’ will be released on 5th March via Atlantic Records


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photo: Emma Swann





T H E B I G P I N K ’ S A L B U M A R T WO R K M AY B E S P L AT T E R E D W I T H PA I N T. I T M AY H AV E TA K E N I T S N A M E F R O M A 1 9 8 0 S S K AT E B OA R D A DV E R T I S E M E N T. B U T ‘ F U T U R E T H I S ’ D I D N ’ T TA K E I T S S O U N D F R O M T H E S T R E E T S – A S T H E PA I R E X P L A I N TO E M M A S WA N N , I T ’ S A L L T H A N K S TO S O M E N E W TOYS


et’s face it, throughout 2009 – and a fair way in to 2010 – you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing The Big Pink’s chart-bothering anthem, ‘Dominos’. From niche radio playlists and clubs to shopping centre soundsystems and during football montages on TV, the ubiquitous nature of debut album, ‘A Brief History Of Love’ meant following it up would be a difficult task.


it’s one Robbie Furze and Milo Cordell took to easily, at least, having begun the process that ultimately birthed ‘Future This’ while still touring the debut. “In our heads, we did it really quickly,” asserts Milo, when it’s suggested that they’d given themselves plenty of time to work on the album, rather than being under pressure to rush things. “The heartbeat of the record is actually in the thought process. Making music is quite easy, knowing what you want to make is probably the hard thing. And, we knew while touring that we wanted to make a faster, more fluid, upbeat record.”


ultimately seen as a happier album than its predecessor, ‘Future This’ is definitely less heavy in sound, a consequence perhaps of what Milo describes as wanting to “step it up, make it a bit brighter.” The themes are “less personal,” too. “We felt the first record was steeped in heartbreak, it was quite sad. We wanted to make something a bit more universal,” Robbie chips in. “It’s a positive next step, taking on from where we left off, but a bit of a different vibe.”

Rather than self-producing as they had last time, they enlisted the help of super

producer, Paul Epworth – a decision that on stage. Milo begins: “It’s great, because freed them up further, as they explain we can now manipulate everything live, how the songs came about. “This time, we whereas before, when we were using were like ‘let’s write a song,’ get the bare samplers, we couldn’t do it unless we were bones of the song down – the verse and going through effects pedals and stuff, chorus, and then move on to the next one. which is a bit weird, you go out of time. We did about two [songs] a week over a This opens us up to constantly evolving.” three-month period. We knew that we Robbie continues: “If you want to keep were going to work with Epworth on it, that middle eight going round for a few so we didn’t lose our minds in the detail more cycles, you can do that. We couldn’t - we didn’t go nuts on every hi-hat sound. do it before, so now if we want to keep We knew we weren’t going to finish the a loop going, we can do that and react to songs, that we were going to go in to the the room in that moment. Which is really studio and work with a producer, so that exciting.” afforded us the chance to be really quick and MAKING MUSIC get songs out and t’s allowed the IS QUITE EASY, pair to explore their done, then move on. We wrote quite a lot KNOWING WHAT live set up more of songs.”  intensely, something YOU WANT TO MAKE they both seem very IS THE HARD THING happy about. “We’ve hose which did always tried to make make the cut include ‘Hit The Ground our live set different from the record,” (Superman)’ which makes use of Laurie explains Milo, “the first record, when we Anderson’s 1981 avante-garde hit ‘O played that live, it was a lot heavier, and Superman’ –  samples played a massive this one, the set up allows us to just do part in how ‘Future This’ came about. what we want, it’s a lot more spacious, it’s Robbie explains: “On the first record, not regimented. Everything meanders, we sampled ourselves. We’d fill the room flows really nicely. We’ve got great with a sound, make noise, link up loads of equipment, and we’re triggering stuff, it’s guitar pedals and effects, record the whole really like a sonic assault, without being thing, then go back in to it and find little abrasive. We played with distortion a lot bits, and then loop them and put a beat on before, but I think this time we’re going it. Whatever we wanted to do, stick a loop, with delays and reverbs.”  or create a beat underneath it and then build the song around that.” In addition to the easily recognisable ‘O Superman’ cut, ith plans well underway for visuals to “there are definitely a few more samples,” accompany their new material (“we want including ‘Give It Up’, which is “very to make it a proper show, control lights much based on an old soul sample we cut from the stage, elaborate on things we’ve up in a DJ program.” done before”), Robbie seems to sum the pair’s modus operandi up perfectly. “It’s all playing. We just like playing with things.” he magpie-esque nature of the duo’s songwriting on ‘Future This’ can be The Big Pink’s new album ‘Future This’ is out echoed live on tour, too – thanks once now via 4AD again to new technology. As they both explain, their recent foray in to Ableton Live has allowed them to act more freely






JAmes mercer siTs scoTT wArren To AwAiTed reTurn

down wiTh simone discuss The longof The shins

around me, I loved those guys, I enjoy working with them as well, but at that time, it's difficult after years...”


he Shins were dead: to begin with. A single announcement that we might expect a new record in the future had appeared back in 2008, but with the rest of the band leaving, their contract with Sub Pop coming to an end, and James Mercer appearing to have been completely distracted by both Danger Mouse and fatherhood, the likelihood of finding our eardrums being regaled by a new record by The Shins seemed, frankly, remote. And if this was to be it, we had three great albums to content ourselves with, and, since that namedrop by Natalie Portman in Garden State had originally launched the band into the mainstream, a tangible reason to hate/not hate Zach Braff.


ast forward four years, and sunk into a sofa in a room that appears to have been decorated in the style of a Japanese hotel at London's Sony HQ, Mercer is the first to admit that the future of The Shins was unclear. With the rest of the band's departures, he'd become tired and disillusioned. “After the 'Wincing The Night Away' tour, I wasn't really excited about doing another Shins record,” he explains, “So I started to think, well, what else can I do? Do I make a solo album? I think I was feeling the pressure of being at the centre of The Shins. A little bit of that had to do with the longstanding relationships that I had with the people



n a well timed entrance, Brian 'Danger Mouse' Burton emerged on the scene, and Broken Bells appeared to arise from the ashes of The Shins. “Brian came up with the idea of doing Broken Bells,” James clarifies, “He was in a similar sort of mood, I don't know exactly what his motives were, but he wanted to do something new.” Mercer might not have needed much in the way of persuasion, but he didn't approach the Broken Bells project without some sense of trepidation.

concludes that this move was less to do with creative control than it might seem. “Columbia Records is really releasing it, but I get to own the masters, and I get my own imprint on it,” he clarifies, “The people at Columbia, they know what they're doing and they want a relationship with the band. It's not like the old days, where you'd have heard stories like 'We lost total control and they made us dress up like chickens,' that doesn't seem to be happening so much anymore. Maybe if you were trying to do a Katy Perry type thing, you could be in danger of losing creative control, because they really wouldn't be taking you so seriously.”

“AfTer The ‘wincing The nighT AwAy’ Tour, i wAsn’T reAlly exciTed AbouT doing AnoTher shins record. i sTArTed To Think, whAT else cAn i do?” As it becomes clear during the course of our conversation, he's surprisingly unassured, seemingly unconvinced of his own talent. “I had never gone and worked with someone so famous and talented as Brian,” he admits, “It was intimidating. I had always been a little shy, about going and collaborating with someone else.”


ut without having taken on that particular challenge, there's a good chance that we wouldn't now be finding ourselves in possession of what once seemed an impossibility, the glorious fourth album from The Shins. 'Port Of Morrow', named after an industrial estate in Oregon, began to take shape in early 2011, with James initially recording from his Portland home. Released in March via Mercer's own label, Aural Apothecary, James


ith a new band assembled, including Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer and Beck's former guitarist Jessica Dobson, it's heartwarming to see James so utterly enthused by The Shins once more. Perhaps this can, in some part, be attributed to allowing more of a collaborative process during this record's recording? “Oh yeah, I really used a lot of friends to make this record,” he tells us, “The biggest contributor was Greg [Kurstin], who ended up producing the record and playing a lot.”


hilst previous Shins' outings had made some use of a producer, Mercer always appeared to complete the lion's share of the role himself. “I thought, I can manage to do this shit, if I'm

“i enjoy playing shows, but i’m going to be away from my wife and kids. it’s a sad thing to think about.”

45 45


allowed to have all the time that I want in my studio, I can figure it out on my own,” James confides as to his old attitude, “that's better for me, that's the type of musician I am.” It transpires, this work ethic was more attributable to his own lack of self confidence than any artistic megalomania. Self deprecating to the end, James admits that having worked with Danger Mouse, he's been left with “a better understanding of the role of the producer. I mean, I always had a concern, am I going to get a producer and they're just going to be accustomed to these super talented people? The biggest thing I got out of the Broken Bells experience was a sense of confidence about my own abilities, that I wouldn't necessarily be a horrible disappointment.”


newly discovered self-belief clearly drives the new record; 'Port Of Morrow' is a grandiose, upbeat affair, with plenty to delight both old and new fans of the band. Working closely with Kurstin, whom he hired after an hour's trial, the resulting record shimmers with a sophisticated confidence. Lead single, 'Simple Song', opening with Mercer's vocals being spun through Kurstin's mellotron, is a good example of the aesthetics of the album, sounding for all the world like a missing track from 'Quadrophenia'. It's a comparison that Mercer seems pleased with, telling us that he loves The Who, and having spent some years at school in Suffolk his own influences are indebted to a raft of British bands; “I spent that formative time going to see shows, House Of Love, Jesus & Mary Chain, the stuff of the late eighties. There was an industry that really promoted those bands, and a lot of great labels, so it was easier being over here to get to know these bands. A band like Jesus & Mary Chain, at that time in the States, it was the most avant garde and weird kid who would ever know anything about them, it was one in a million kids. That was

my frame of mind about music, I really came to identify with those bands, and then I went back to the States and my friends were listening to... Poison.”

That being said, by no means should

the aural success of 'Port Of Morrow' be attributed solely to the collaboration with Greg Kurstin, or a youth spent in deepest darkest Suffolk. Mercer's attitude to life has changed with the advent of fatherhood, and he confesses

I tend to think of the recording process as the most important part, because I spend a lot more time listening to records than I do going to shows. So I concentrate on that, and then when it's time to do the live thing, we don't have to do it exactly the way it is on the record, if it's different, maybe that's a good thing. Some bands stress about that so much, and it's like, why don't you just play the CD, we'll all dance together, and you can charge us less.”

“i hAd never worked wiTh someone so fAmous And TAlenTed As dAnger mouse. iT wAs inTimidATing.” that this has had a direct effect on his songwriting. “I think there's more of a sensitivity that I have to both the positive things, the feelings that I have toward my family, but also to the darker things about life, things that happen in the world that are not so good. You care more.”


lthough the thought of leaving the bosom of his family for a life back on the road isn't one that fills James with pleasure, he does appear to be trying to make the best of the situation. “I enjoy playing shows,” Mercer concedes, “and it's going to be fun to go out with the band, the guys I'm working with are just great, but I'm going to be away from my wife and kids, and that's just... that's melancholy, it's a sad thing to think about.”

Along with the separation anxieties,

there's also the small matter of translating the record for the live arena. It's something that Mercer preferred not to consider too much when recording, explaining that he believes doing so would have limited the record. “Maybe I thought about it once in a while,” he says, “I occasionally thought, 'oh my god, how are we going to pull this off live?' But I didn't let that thought inhibit the way that I record.

so after four years of believing that

The Shins were dead and buried, and 'Port Of Morrow' having wormed it's way into this writer's affections already, it's with no small sense of relief that James reassures us that this is definitely not the last we're going to see of The Shins, this is absolutely not their swansong. Although, we may have to wait a while for their return; “We're going to do another Broken Bells record, that should be in 2013, and then another Shins record after that. I'll see you again, doing another interview about that. But first, we're going to tour for the next year and a half, we'll have a lot of fun and we'll bring the family out and it'll be good. Stay positive,” he whispers, almost to himself, “Stay positive...” The Shins' new album 'Port Of Morrow' will be released on 19th March via Aural Apothecary / Columbia.

47 47



BoWie do ..? ?

ladyhawke divulges her hopes, fears and anxieties. Words: harriet Jennings Ah, the ol' difficult second album cliche. Some people choose to rush their sophomore effort, taking the chance that a fast turn around on release schedules might keep them in the public consciousness for a little while longer; others take their time, deciding that an altogether more crafted creation might better serve their chances of success. Ladyhawke opted for the second approach when tackling the follow up to her self-titled debut, a more mature, darker sounding record than her first. Reclining in a deep leather chair in east London's Underbelly, Pip Brown settles down to discuss anxiety, performing live and her favourite musical icons. In a recent interview, you suggested that this album represents different version of yourself. What did you mean by that? I always spin a different thing for every interview, like, “S**t, I’ve got to make it sound legitimate!” I guess it’s because my music influences are very eclectic, I don’t really discriminate. Everything from Bowie to hip-hop to pop, garage, sixties garage rock. Maybe that’s what I was meaning. I’ve got little aspects of all of those in there. I think this album was more like that for me, little aspects of all the bands and musicians that I liked as a teenager and as an adult. It’s definitely more of a rock album.


Who would you cite as your main influences on this album then? I know you’ve mentioned Pixies and Blur in the past. Yeah, a lot of the influences aren’t direct emulations. You can’t really hear any of those things in there but they’re all inspiration points. Garbage was one, I was listening to a lot of Garbage. A lot of Britpop and a lot of rock n’ roll.

Are those the same influences you had with the debut album, or are they different? Mostly different. For this album, I was quite influenced by Bowie. In the first album I was possibly, but Bowie is something that my music never ends up sounding like. He’s always on my mind, and when I’m making music I’m always thinking, “What would Bowie do?” Apart from that, I think they’re quite different. I was desperate to try something a bit rockier, it just felt like a natural progression. The rockier side of things is more similar to the material you used to play preLadyhawke, right? Yeah, I played in a band years ago called Teenager in Australia with Nick Littlemore from Empire Of The Sun. That was sort of poppy but indie, electro stuff that sort of sounded like Sonic Youth at times. It was quite weird, distorted guitars and I loved it. It was a really cool band. Years before that, I played in a band

called Two Lane Blacktop, which was just literally balls to the wall rock and roll, solos all the way through every song and screaming vocals. Going back to Bowie, as a performer he’s adopted many different personas during his career - is that something you relate to? Yeah, that’s something I really respect him for. It’s like he’s so excited to try new things, he’s not just gonna stick to the same old, same old. Sometimes it’s awesome, other times it’s not so awesome… but mostly it’s awesome.

i was desperate to try something a bit rockier . From the last album, ‘Paris Is Burning’ and 'My Delirium’ were massive songs that did incredibly well. Are there any on this record that you have similar hopes for? It’s been really hard for me to tell with this record because once I’d finished it, I thought that I’d made the record that I always wanted to make, but I don’t know if anyone else is going to like it. It’s very different to the first one, so I did get a bit

scared. It might not do well, that’s a huge possibility; the second album curse, you know? I didn’t think too much about it. There’s a song called ‘Cellophane’ that could do alright. It’s quite slow, a bit of a ballad How did the writing and recording process differ between the two records? You spent a lot of the recording process in France this time, right? Yeah, I worked through the whole album with Pascal Gabriel, who I did half of the first one with. He has a place in the South of France and also in London, so we’d back and forth. Did you find it made a difference being in two locations? In London, I have a flat here now but when I was recording I didn’t so I’d be in a hotel, and I’d get myself into a bit of a not wanting to leave the hotel state, or the opposite - I’d want to catch up with my friends and anything would distract me from the task at hand. I think recording in the South of France was Pascal’s subtle way of getting me away from distractions and it was really an amazing comfort. Is there anything you’ve learned with this record that you wish you’d known the first time? Yeah, I wish I’d known to have more of a voice and not be so shy. I’ve known Pascal for years now so working with him is a really relaxed environment; I’m not anxious around him. Whereas with the first record, I didn’t know anyone. There was a wall up a lot of the time. I would get frustrated during writing, trying to get my idea heard. In the end it always ended up the way I wanted, but it felt like a battle because I was so shy. Lyrically this album’s quite a personal one, and you talk about abandonment quite a bit. I know! I think it’s a real project thing for me. It’s more a fear of abandonment; I’ve always been like that. My mum was hanging out with a friend of mine, and my friend said that she said to her, “Pip’s lyrics are so sad, she’s always singing about people leaving her.” And my friend was like, “Oh no, that’s just what she does, she’s ok.” So my Mum heard the lyrics and was worried. But I think it’s just more of a straight up fear. I’m a really anxious person and I over-think situations all the time. Are you feeling more confident outside the recording studio too? I guess I know what to expect this time, which is definitely a help. I know all the things I’m gonna have to do and because of all the ground work I did on the first record, I think going into promo this time around, hopefully people will remember what I’m like and they know that I don’t like being styled. I’m not actually too nervous. And I’m actually really looking forward to touring. Do you prefer playing small venues or larger ones? Smaller. Definitely. Small, sort of grimy, intimate places, real vibey. I guess if I play somewhere like Shepherd’s Bush Empire, because you’re playing in a big place, it feels like there’s more pressure to put on a big show and an amazing performance.


You’ve always been quite open about your anxieties, and obviously this album is named ‘Anxiety’. Is it important to you to let people know what’s going on? I didn’t realise I was being open. I think I worry that I make people nervous. I’ve got quite a good poker face, I’ve been told. I always worry that I’m making other people feel uncomfortable so I over compensate by talking about my anxiety so then they’re aware that I am an anxious person and that I just do weird things and have weird body movements. I seem like I’m a junkie and I’m not, I’m just really anxious. So to deal with that, you try to make the other person feel more comfortable? I think I do that. I always worry that I come off rude but I’m not rude. I just get so intimidated by people and I quite often think people might pass a judgement on me before they’ve even spoken to me. And again, my brain builds it up into a thing before it’s even happened so it’s a viscous cycle that doesn’t go away. Some people are just nice and some people aren’t. I’ve encountered a lot of people that are trying to push my buttons and trying to make me feel uncomfortable and that’s just not nice. You took a break after your last album? I was exhausted. I lost heaps of weight. I couldn’t bear the thought of another trip back to the UK [from New Zealand], it’s just such a long journey when you feel like crap. Pascal and his wife came out and we hired a studio for a month, but I couldn’t do anything. I’d just curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Two songs on the album came from that session, but it was basically a write off. So, I decided to take some time off and recuperate, get myself a flat - I didn’t even have anywhere to live at that point - see my family and all of my old friends, and when I was happy that I’d done that, I started recording properly. I hate the sense of urgency that everyone puts on it, like the record label. If there’s been an iota of success, they’re very keen to jump on the bandwagon straight away with the next record and I didn’t want to rush it, so I took my time. I guess that was much healthier for you? Yeah, and I wasn’t making s**t decisions about songs either. Every song that’s on 50

the album really, really wants to be there. Do you think this album is a more accurate representation of you? It’s funny because the first record, I was consumed with that album. I was living and breathing it and at that time, that was the album that I’d always wanted to make. I was beside myself with excitement getting to make a pop record, which I’d never done before! By the time I’d played those bloody songs a million times, I was like, “I’m over this!” I want to make a rock album now.

Any hopes for ‘Anxiety’? I’d love for it to do as well as the first one, but if I get to tour it for the next year and a half, I’ll be happy. I’m just happy it’s out now I think. I hope people like it because I’d like it to be received well; I put a lot of hard work into it. It’s hard when you think that people dissect something you’ve put so much hard work into. It’s the nature of the beast though. Ladyhawke's new album 'Anxiety' will be released on 28th May via Modular Records.

i've made the record that i always wanted to make, but i dont know if anyone else is going to like it photos: James Pearson Howes

Is there a point, in terms of success, that you don’t want to go past because it’ll mean you’ll have to play bigger venues? I can’t really see past the point that I’m at now. I’m not the sort of artist that would ever cross over too massively into the mainstream so I’m not too worried. I think if it happened I’d freak out, but I’d just have to deal with it. I can’t imagine that many people would’ve bought my album.

FIRST AID KIT The Lion’s Roar

“Superb songwriting... glorious” MOJO

“A remarkably mature work” UNCUT “Intoxicating” THE SUN “A brilliant second album” SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

“Nothing short of magical” THE FLY “Life-affirming” Q “Bewitching” CLASH 8/10


“Electrifying debut” LOUD & QUIET 8/10 “Debut of the Month” UNCUT MOJO NME 8/10

“This band want you to have as much fun as they so clearly are” Q “The sound of alt-royalty still fuelled by youthful fire” THE INDEPENDENT “Superb” CLASH 8/10


The new album from Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings. Recorded at Electrical Audio by Steve Albini, this is the first time the band have been in the studio as a four-piece and the resulting songs truly capture the energy of their live show for the first time, whilst also showing a louder, more aggressive and more experimental side to the band.

PEGGY SUE Acrobats

“A darker, cleverer and, well, just better proposition than most of their so-called peers” NME 7/10 “A beguiling, brilliantly unsettling and above all mesmeric listening experience” THE FLY “A group deserving the same accolades as those far beyond their years” BBC MUSIC “A superb album” CLASH 7/10



February Thurs 23rd Kings College, LONDON Fri 24th Academy 3, MANCHESTER Mon 27th Kings Tuts, GLASGOW Tues 28th The Wardrobe, LEEDS Wed 29th Thekla, BRISTOL


March Tues 20th Phoenix, EXETER Weds 21st Thekla, BRISTOL Thurs 22nd Electric Ballroom, LONDON Fri 23rd O2 Academy2, OXFORD Sat 24th Rainbow Warehouse, BIRMINGHAM Mon 26th Academy 3, MANCHESTER Tues 27th O2 Academy2, LIVERPOOL Weds 28th Cabaret Voltaire, EDINBURGH Thurs 29th O2 Academy2, NEWCASTLE Fri 30th Waterfront, NORWICH Sat 31st Leadmill, SHEFFIELD

Military MOD

Shoes: Palladium Trouser, Tee and Jacket: Duffer Watch: Toywatch Chains: Icon

Shoes: Vans Pants: Fred Perry Polo: Gabicci Jumper: Beyond Retro Jacket: Farrell 52






Boots: Base London Tee: Boxfresh Trousers: MQT Shirt: Luke Jacket: Duffer Chain: Icon 53

Boots: Beyond Retro Trousers: LUKE Tee: Aqua Jumper: Gabicci Jacket: Levi’s Belt & Hat: Uniqlo 54

Shoes: Vans Pants: Fred Perry Polo: Gabicci Jumper: Beyond Retro Jacket: Farrell 55

Shoes: Dr. Martens Trousers: Beyond Retro Tee: Boxfresh Jumper: Gabicci Jacket: Fred Perry Hat: H&M

Boots:Beyond Retro Trousers: LUKE Tee: Aqua Jumper: Gabicci Jacket: Levi’s Belt & Hat: Uniqlo 56

Jacket: Gabicci Shirt: Aqua Chain: Icon Trousers: Fred Perry 57

Shoes: Dr. Martens Jeans: Levi’s Polo: Gabicci Jumper: Aqua Jacket: Alpha 58

Hat: Beyond Retro Shirt: Brutus Suit: Topman Jacket: NSW Belt: H&M Bag: Fred Perry Trainers: Onistsu Tiger 59 59

photo: Sam Bond

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success hardly seems an unlikely eventuality for a band with Radio 1 in their corner. “If you go back to the seventies or sixties, bands like Led Zeppelin or Queen were all over And, despite the glint in their eyes, you the radio; that was popular music at the know the story won't be far from the truth. time. Things go through different phases It is that same raw, mischievous energy that and it is nice when people remember they has seen the four-piece cited as "surely the do like rock and that it is a valid form of best live band in Britain" (The Observer), popular music,” James affirms. support the likes of Muse and Biffy Clyro, “As long as we don't change our music to try and scale the dizzying heights of the Radio to cater towards that crowd...” asserts Lee. 1 playlist time and time again. “I don't think we realised how commercial “It was a shock at first,” lead guitarist James a band we were for a long time. For ages, Brown enthuses. “It doesn't matter what I thought Tom was just screaming, but your genre is, if you hear your music on then I realised there are actually hooks. It's Radio 1 you're going to be shocked. It's still aggressive, honest music but there are going to be weird. I guess they just saw us hooks and melody in there. If it was just as a band that they wanted to support and shouting, it would they've continued “IT’S NICE WHEN P EO P L E never get playlisted!” to.” R E M E M B E R T H AT T H E Y D O L I K E “It's all been a big RO C K , A N D T H AT I T I S A VA L I D surprise, as well,” “It's all down to Huw FORM OF POPUL AR MUSIC. James muses. “It was Stephens really,” Rob never our ambition chimes in, careful to to do that when we set out. We just did name-check the presenter that gave the it because we enjoy being together and band their first big plays at the station. playing music.” “It was weird because the first one we put “Yeah, when I answered the ad to be in a forward as a single was 'Back To The F**k boyband, I never thought...” Lee trails off, Yeah' and they played it at 12 o'clock in the leaving his bandmates in stitches. afternoon.” “Back to the eff yeah, they call it,” grins But seriously now, we have to talk about Lee, the band's heavily inked drummer, the time you played with Lady Gaga. fresh from another photoshoot. “Not to be “That was strange,” vocalist Tom Hudson cynical and say that they need to be seen says, shaking his head at the memory of to be supporting rock music, but they have performing at Radio 1's One Big Weekend to champion a few British rock bands, I last year. “It was mad though,” James guess. I wouldn't have thought we'd be interrupts. “It was definitely an experience. one of those bands but I'm not going to It was that kind of thing where it's free complain!” tickets so the audience is prioritised for local people. A lot of the time, the audiences And they may laugh, but commercial “Body slapping them all like, 'Come on, boys!'"

ntil you've tried to control a group of musicians as they run around the top floor of a local gym, completely free of management, labels and almost press officers (he was on the phone so doesn't count), you may have trouble imagining the scene we're about to set. Famed for their energetic live performances, it should come as no real shock that in person Pulled Apart By Horses are just as likely to: a) injure themselves; and b) run circles around you - literally, not metaphorically. Now picture what happens when the band discover punchbags, showers and medicine balls. “About 50% of our fanbase are young men that fancy James,” bassist Rob Lee begins after an animated discussion about where they're all from, their favourite foods and the best way to begin a press release. “I remember one gig," James pipes up, "where there were thirty 14 year old boys with their tops off running around backstage. We were like, 'I don't know what to do, should we leave?'" “So James took his top off and ran around with them."

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were just watching it and enjoying it process this time around. because they might not necessarily know “With the first album, it was just the songs the stuff as much as Lady Gaga, but it was that we had at the time,” James continues. amazing. “We did the album in six or seven days.” “The line up was Foo Fighters, Lady “With the first one, we wanted to make it Gaga... The Strokes were headlining our very quickly because we wanted a snapshot stage. They were next door to us, which was of where we were at that point in time, but a bit surreal.” with this one, this is our first experience of “They were warming up and playing 'Last making an album - that's the difference Night' on bongos and between the two,” acoustic guitars,” Rob shrugs Rob. “THERE’S NOTHING ABOUT grins. “There was T H E A L B U M T H AT H A S N ’ T B E E N a little slit because And the difference THOUGHT A B O U T. THERE’S it was just a divide is quite plain to hear. NOTHING IN THERE T H AT SHOULDN’T BE IN THERE.” between and we With 'Tough Love''s couldn't help looking more complex and through, but Albert Hammond Jr. was crafted dynamics, the developments in the staring at us going, 'Stop looking through band's musical and technical abilities are the windows!'" obvious by their own admission. “The way we work and our attitude towards our band And it seems that a few good anecdotes is that we just see what comes out really. I aren't all the lads took away from Carlisle; think if you start trying to sound a certain with their latest album 'Tough Love' seeing way or having any intention at all, things Foo Fighters and Pixies producer Gil can end up sounding quite contrived,” Lee Norton playing the role of Chief Second, explains. “When we were writing it, we it seems the band are really making a name wanted to write an album; that means that for themselves. “We had a lot more time everything's considered, which is why we're to consider the sound of things and the so happy with it. There's nothing about impact it has,” Tom says of the recording the album that hasn't been thought about.

There's nothing in there that shouldn't be in there.” And the album's context itself is quite an interesting one. Recorded between festival slots, with the band holed up in an old Welsh studio, the original material began to surface around a year ago. “We always want to progress as a band,” Lee divulges, when asked about future directions. “For us, a song like 'Dipped In Gold' felt like a huge leap forward; we couldn't have written this a year or two ago. As long as we're always pushing ourselves and writing better songs then I don't think we care which direction we go in. But there's not going to be another album for quite a while.” Don't let that fool you however, Pulled Apart By Horses are far from throwing in the towel. Having just completed an undercard of a European tour the band are psyching themselves up for the main event this summer; festivals. We'll see you ringside. Or, erm, down the front. Pulled Apart By Horses' new album 'Tough Love' is out now via Transgressive Records.

P u l l e d A pa r t B y H o r s e s ta l k u s t h r o u g h t h e i r w o r s t i n j u r i e s

JAMES My worst injury was when I got my knee cut open

at a gig in the Isle of Man. I jumped on my knees and cut it open and for the week after that, I didn’t wash. And then I got to Wakefield and then realised that my leg didn’t really fit in my jeans properly. I played the gig and then had all this pain and then went to the hospital, to A&E, and they said that I had an infection, I had cellulitis in my leg. So then I had to spend a week in hospital on antibiotics. We had to get someone else to play guitar at the time because I couldn’t really walk or anything.

TOM I jumped into a barrier and smacked a massive hole out of my shin. And it just kept bleeding for a couple of days. I should have gone to hospital but I didn’t. I just sat at home with my leg up for ages. The whole leg of my jeans was completely flooded with blood. Which was nice. And it looked great. ROB

I break the odd finger nail and I get split ends. I


dropped a bass cabinet on my finger once. All these guys injure themselves and it’s really cool because they do it on stage. When I injure myself, it’s when I’m pissed afterwards in a really clumsy accident. I fell over a few months ago and bit through my lip because I’d drunk a whole bottle of Jack Daniels and it was on the way home from a gig. On New Year’s Eve once, Tom and I were carrying a bass cab down some concrete steps so now I’ve got like one finger that’s fatter than the others. Everyone laughs at Rob’s big, fat finger. It was like a grape. But it’s healed pretty well. The other day at practice, I turned around to make sure I’d locked the window and I fell up the stairs and then head butted a door and then the door flew open and shot back again on to my other finger. I’m just clumsy. None of it’s rock and roll.

LEE I haven’t got any. I’m sheltered behind the drum kit. It’s the safest place to be. My leg hurts sometimes. My right leg - just to clarify.


y o u n g W o o d

g u n s

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s k i n .


arving an identity for yourself as a band nowadays is an extraordinarily hard task. It’s no secret that the defining factors that lead to even the smallest of successes are a pressure unto themselves. Thus, trying to get your head around the difficulty an artist faces after achieving such a mean feat and then, well, having to do it all again, is even harder. “The cliché of saying that the second album is harder than the first is definitely true,” offers Gustav Wood, the frontman of British rock band Young Guns, who are just about to put out their sophomore album ‘Bones’. “It feels like when you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up, thinking, ‘We’ve got to climb that.’ We put an awful amount of pressure on ourselves as a band and - I


u s

F r o n t m a n t h r o u G h

F r o m

W o r d s :

r i G h t

s a r a h

always say this when people ask - the amount of pressure we put on ourselves beats any pressure that anyone else puts on us. It pales in comparison. It’s an insurmountable challenge, but you chip away. You think you’re never going to get to the end of it and then one day, you realise, you’re there.” For the five-piece from High Wycombe, it’s been a long and steady climb. Spending the first few years of their career relentlessly touring, their debut EP ‘Mirrors’ only came out in 2009, before their debut album ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’ was released in mid-2010 on their own label Live Forever. It was around then that people started to sit up and take notice. “The first album was very personal in terms of lyrics, and that was a conscious decision that I made. I don’t regret it but at the same time, it is a bizarre experience having something so personal end up getting out there in the way that the album did; having people respond to it like that. That was a privilege and an amazing thing, but it’s the whole experience of being really brutal about the way you feel....” He trails off, unable to truly word how intrusive his work had inevitably become. In fact, the very title stemmed from Wood’s own

G u s t a v F i n d i n G b e n e a t h

J a m i e s o n

relationship – or lack thereof – with his father, perfectly showcasing how open he was during their debut. But looking back, how does he feel about it all now? “In a way, I felt like it was almost a crutch. I was being so super honest with people about how I felt, that I felt the art of the lyrics had been removed, by having it bang you over the head with how obvious it was. For this one, I kind of wanted to try and evolve my lyric writing so that it didn’t have to rely on being really honest, or really open. I wanted it to be a little more open to interpretation and a little more introverted.” "i Wanted to evolve my lyric WritinG so that it didn’t have to rely on beinG really honest.”

And, as with any new artistic project, the band’s second album presented its own set of challenges: “I really didn’t want to repeat myself. The problem was, I had gone through every topic that I could think of, that I wanted to write about. So, the challenge was finding new things, or finding new ways to say similar things. At the end of the day, there are only a certain amount of things in the world that I care passionately enough about to write about, so the challenge for me was really

figuring out how to inspire myself again as a lyricist. For me, it was more about - not trying to reinvent myself but - trying to push myself to become better.” Thus, that’s what ‘Bones’ provided for the band. Pushing themselves to simply sound bigger and bolder, they began the process in July last year, even heading halfway around the world, to Bangkok in Thailand to record. “We wanted it to feel like a real step up; a real new feeling. We wanted to feel bold and bright and more exciting. We knew that if we wanted to step it up, that came down to how and where we recorded it. It didn’t cost that much more than doing it in London so when we were given the opportunity, we grabbed it with both hands. I think being that far away and somewhere that different allows you to step outside of everything you’re familiar with and that was really important to the album. “It wasn’t necessarily about changing who we are as a band, it was more about trying

to evolve and become better. As with all things, people have preconceptions and we wanted to write a record that would confound those preconceptions and expectations. We didn’t want to write a record that sounded like a small UK rock band. We wanted to write a record that sounded like it had a bit more ambition. “I think we just tried to make an album that felt a little bolder and more exciting. It’s not like it’s more pop, or less heavy; it’s just better. I think it sounds a little less niche, and a little stronger. It sounds even more assured. It sounds like a more confident version of the same band.” “We Wanted it to Feel like a real step up; a real neW FeelinG. We Wanted to Feel bold and briGht and more excitinG.”

– to be given such a bare and stripped back title. “‘Bones’ is the idea that, yes, these songs are intimate and personal, and in many ways, are the bones of who I am as a person. It’s the idea that we all have these things inside us that are personal, but that we can draw strength from. “It’s about self-empowerment and it’s about the idea that, inside of us, every single person has the ability to make the change. That’s really a metaphor for the whole record and what it means for us: the idea that we have everything we need inside of us already.” Young Guns’ new album ‘Bones’ is out now via Play It Again Sam.

So, with all things considered, it may seem strange for a record with such a sense of grandeur – and believe us, every song drips with the slick and bold confidence of a band much more assured of themselves

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‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ - it almost sounds like a hip-hop album title? Yeah, I really liked that juxtaposition to what the music actually is. I like that you could take a title that could be nasty or sexual, or it could mean to buck up and put effort into things. And I think a lot of it is just so serious – not my daily life but my music can be a little serious, so when I can lighten that up in any way I think it’s helpful. It’s certainly helpful for me! Was writing the songs a more difficult process the second time around? Yeah, it was pretty massive in the beginning. I was very scared and I’m new to it all as well; I didn’t even know if I could do it. So it was a weird few months of me trying to force things and thinking too much about it and trying too much to be cool. I was trying to make something really hip. But I kind of gave up and then that’s when things started to happen naturally. I figured out what my purpose was. You’ve said before that the tracklisting for ‘Learning’ was sequenced in chronological order. Is this also true of ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’? I thought a lot about how these songs were ordered: not chronologically, but rather as call and responses to one another. One is kinda depressing about one specific subject, and then the next song could be a little bit more 66

positive about something vaguely similar, so that they could kind of be talking to each other. It’s a really hippy way to think, but that’s kind of what I was doing! Did you have a firm plan with how you wanted the new album to sound? Yeah, you know I just wanted it to be professional. Maybe some people would be snobby about that and think that they still need to hunker down in their basement. I could have done that easily, but I have opportunities now to do something else, so I wanted to make sure that I did. I still kept it simple and made sure that I worked with people who were understanding about how I wanted to do it, and what I would have done at home with people who can play different instruments. Therefore, if I had ideas that I wouldn’t be able to do at home then they’d be able to help. Where did you go to record it this time around then? Most of it was here in England at a farm called The Hatch in the middle of nowhere, and then in a studio in Bristol. And then we recorded two songs in Seattle too when I got back. Can you talk me though any particular themes within the new album? One song’s about my mom, ‘Dark Parts’. I’m really proud of that one, it’s really touching to me. She’s always asked me when I was growing up why I made such depressing music, and paintings – I used to paint really bloody. “Why can’t you paint something nice?” And so for me, writing that song was making something nice for her and still doing it how I want to do it. How about with the first track, ‘AWOL Marine’, as you’ve said that it was based on excerpts from a porn film. Were you just watching it and the idea came into your head? It’s kind of creepy, but I’ve been obsessed with that specific porn for a while, and

I had worked on these videos where I cut all the sex out and just had the beginning and the ending of them. It’s just a weird hobby of mine to watch them, to change things that I would originally either feel really ashamed or disgusted or uncomfortable with, and then try to put something healing on top of it. You’ve described fourth track ‘17’ as a gay suicide letter? (Laughs) It’s weird, because I am very serious about my music, and I would think a lot about what I was doing while I’m writing, but not like I’m gonna discuss it afterwards! I mean, I could write that song now and it would be totally different to what I thought that song was about. But it’s a really sad song. As a teenager, it’s just comforting to know that someone else feels the same way, and I think that that is kind of what I was trying to do. Even with my boyfriend now, after I’d written that song we just had a normal dinner and a laugh and I’m like, “Oh let me play you this song!” then he got mad at me, and he’s like, “Holy s**t, what’s the matter with you?” But that sadness can be just a little portion inside that you have, just this little bit that you can tuck away for most of your day, but it’s still there. Yet, on the whole the new album sounds more uplifting. I would say that the album’s happier, but what’s weird is that I was actually unhappier than when I was writing it than the first album! I was almost ecstatic writing that first one, I was the happiest I’ve ever been which is probably weird for people to hear. Even though I’ve been sort of dealing with some things lately, I wanted to write away from that. I wanted to write things that were going to move things forward instead of keeping me in the same place. Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ is out now via Turnstile.


'Put Your Back N 2 It' is unlikely to win over the people who didn't like the first Perfume Genius album. Let's get that out of the way: It doesn't diverge wildly from the template Mike Hadreas set with 'Learning'; but, the people who didn't like it were just plain wrong anyway. We know that isn't how opinions tend to work, but this is a special exception. If you're not already acquainted with Hadreas and Perfume Genius, a primer: he performs emotionally intense ballads in measured tones, voice occasionally cracking for dramatic effect. His music is sort of like that of Anthony and the Johnsons, only without the pretentious performance-art aura, or annoying vocal tics. He is brilliant. Like 'Learning', most of the songs on 'Put Your Back N 2 It' are built around Hadreas' skeletal piano lines. This album, however, adds some sinewy muscles to the frail body of Perfume Genius; drums help to build crescendos or slowly pound as punctuation marks, strings and ambient noise heighten the drama. Hadreas' voice reveals new versatility, too. While his usual fragile vocals could perhaps mistaken for lack of ability, on 'Take Me Home' his voice unexpectedly soars towards the end of a verse, a show of his singing ability and intelligence to restrain its use to great effect. A major comparison, on the title track and 'All Waters' especially, is the music Angelo Badalamenti composed for David Lynch's cult TV show Twin Peaks; spooky, low-key synth notes stretch out, or melodramatic strings play, behind Hadreas' vocals, slow and breathy, not unlike those of Badalamenti collaborator Julee Cruise. Keeping with the Lynch comparison, with 'Put Your Back N 2 It' as Twin Peaks, that would make 'Learning' Hadreas' 'Eraserhead.' 'Learning' was the more primitive, lo-fi, and emotionally raw document, and, whilst this album doesn't quite trade in day-glo soap opera colours, it does benefit greatly from increased production values (and fidelity). "Haunting" is a word that's often used to describe the music Perfume Genius. But that isn't quite right. The songs aren't quite harrowing, or disturbing, in the way that, say, former touring partners Xiu Xiu can be. No, the music Mike Hadreas makes is simply beautiful. 'Put Your Back N 2 It' at times deals with the more downcast end of the spectrum of human experience, but that's not exactly new in the realm of brilliant music. Which this is! Perfume Genius is worthy of the hype, and the hyperbole: this is a fantastic record. (Tom Baker)




Portico Quartet


Sprightly, desperately alive and joyously nostalgic, 'Plumb' sees Field Music sailing into classic art-pop waters. Strings swell the soul of ‘From Hide & Seek To Heartbreak’, guitars mask the piano anthem hidden underneath ‘Guillotine’ and numerous interludes litter the album, introducing and segueing into new ideas seamlessly. Songs like ‘Choosing Sides’ might not quite bridge the gap between “interesting” and “innately enjoyable,” but the pace is such you’ll soon have heard three more songs that satisfy that need. A move into a brave old world. ( Joe Skrebels)

Grand statements about how Portico Quartet are the new faces of jazz are bandied about non-stop whenever they release a new album, but the band has never truly broken down the barrier in to pop. Fast forward to now and the eponymous 'Portico Quartet' may just flout all that. What we have here is an album which grabs the zeitgeist but still stays true to its roots: callipygously shuffling, segueing and mingling the rags ‘n’ bones of dubstep, d ‘n' b and off-kilter jazz, all the while interweaving new-found textures and electronics. It’s a forwardthinking game-change which feels rich, warm and – quite simply – astounding. (Huw Oliver)


To The Treetops

Kicking off with the strangely named ‘Riding My Bicycle (From Ragnvalsbekken To Sorkedalen)’, Team Me set the bar high for multi-harmony pop perfection (and weird song titles). ‘Dear Sister’ might be their most accomplished track, coming to life through layers of intricate soundscapes that recall the giddiness and joyful exuberance of Those Dancing Days, and combine this with the darker, reflective moments of a more Nordic Beirut. It’s both utterly majestic and deeply intoxicating. 'To The Treetops' is a gleeful but, crucially, never garish debut. Its dizzy verve, tumultuous teenage angst and giddy excitement showcase what a good album is all about: elation, exuberance and entertainment. Team Me nail all three points with consumate ease. (Linda Aust)


THE MAGNETIC FIELDS Love At The Bottom Of The Sea

After three virtually synth-free albums, The Magnetic Fields have returned to their glory days. Stephin Merritt's darkly comical songwriting is as great as ever, with the references to drugs and sexuality you'd expect from the man who wrote 'Take Ecstasy With Me'. The instrumentation has been brought into the 21st Century without losing any nostalgic beauty, and there's little room for boredom with most tracks clocking in around the two minute mark. Still haven't sold it? There's a song called 'Infatuation (With Your Gyration)'. Now that's a winner. ( Jack Urwin) 68

It’s clear from opener ‘Shift’ that We Have Band have had a rethink. Gone are the dance floor sing-alongs and raucous choruses, replaced instead with a dark and brooding sensibility. Synths are used far more sparingly, and when they are, they buzz and drone. Rhythm is king, as evidenced by both a sonic palette of skittering drums that Radiohead would be proud of and driving, incessant bass lines pushing the songs onwards. It’s clearly meant to be an ambitious mix, but comes across as a confused muddle. This perhaps sums up 'Ternion''s greatest problem – it doesn’t know what it wants to be. They promised a great leap forward, and this isn’t it. (Derek Robertson)


Sharks make no secret of the fact that they live and breathe punk, and 'No Gods' is a ball of high-energy, low maintenance fun - plucking tasters of guitar music from anywhere the band bloody well like. It's perhaps a little samey at times, but there is one very commendable thing about 'No Gods' that cannot be said of many of the revival bands of the moment: Sharks seem almost entirely free from pretension; for that reason alone the album will garner respect and stand the test of time. (El Hunt)


THE MENZINGERS On The Impossible Past

The Menzingers are that rarest of beasts: a band who manage to pour open their hearts without ever sounding like a bunch of angsty teenagers. The pace has slowed compared to previous efforts, the noise lowered, resulting in their most mature album to date. Instead of switching up the formula too much, they stick to what they know best and emphasise it. Catchy hooks, clean melodies and a sensible attitude combine to create an easily accessible album that should thrust the band into the spotlight, and one that may be found on many ‘Best of ’ lists at the end of 2012. (Adam Compton)


Numbers 1-13

Bringing together Three Trapped Tigers' three EPs into one numerically sequenced package can only be good news for those who missed them the first time round. Predictability, or more accurately the lack thereof, proves to be the band’s greatest strength. Familiarity with their intense electronic rhythms is always short-lived as the band thrive on shifting their weight frequently within tracks, playing freely with tempo and a density of noise that can be somewhat disorientating on initial listens. Nonsensical at times, 'Numbers 1-13' is an intriguing piece of work that flows remarkably well despite the year-long gaps between the EPs '1' to '3'. (Bevis Man)


For record three The Twilight Sad decided to get out of their comfort zone: 'No One Can Ever Know' sees the band exploring a more electronic, motorik sound (most evident on nearly disco stomper ‘Another Bed’), and it’s one that suits them perfectly. For all their sonic experiments this is still unmistakably a Twilight Sad record, in no small part down to James Graham’s ominous and distinct Scottish tones that stalk every song. The combination of the familiar and the new makes this a synthesised and sinister success. (Daniel Wright)


Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen

When Casiokids find their groove they work it for all it's worth. Through creating dynamic soundscapes, the Bergen foursome create vibrant, visual images in the mind's eye of the listener. The title track and album opener is the dawn chorus as experienced from a log cabin: you can practically see the sun rising over mountains in the distance. Unfortunately, the undoing of 'Aabenbaringen Over Aaskammen' is its lack of consistency. The first half is a strong assortment of distinct, catchy tunes, but then it's as though the ideas machine petered out, resulting in a second half that's both lethargic and much of a muchness. (Shefali Srivastava)


Around a decade ago Band Of Skulls would have had to have come from Detroit, so seamless is their connection to that whole garage rock revival. As it is, victims of existential injustice, the three piece are Southampton natives and the raw, intense sound of guitars is as out of favour as the mini-disc or 4-4-2. 'Sweet Sour' is an album worthy of repeated listens, but limited by its inability to adapt and enrapture a change of pace often just representing a drop in quality. Band Of Skulls: jack of all trades, master of one. (Matthew Davies)


Hooray For Earth's sound is very redolent of the clutch of American indie groups that have embraced synthesiser sounds mixed with pop sensibilities over the last decade; think Yeasayer, MGMT and the poppier side of Animal Collective. 'True Loves' begins with the meandering unconventional melody of opener ‘Realize It’s Not The Sun’ and the nature of that track continues throughout an album that flits from the breezy symphonic ELO styled pop of ‘Last Minute’ to the pounding electro beats of ‘Sails’. Listening to this, their debut long-player, you are left with the impression that there is a great electro pop record here waiting to get out. (Martyn Young) 69


WE ARE AUGUSTINES Rise Ye Sunken Ships

We Are Augustines' debut, 'Rise Ye Sunken Ships' elegantly mirrors the band's frenetic live performances in a tamer, more restrained fashion. An elegy in many ways to the loss of songwriter and lead vocalist Billy McCarthy’s brother and mother to schizophrenia and substance abuse, by rights it ought to be a sobering affair. Instead, it's a rousing, triumphant piece of work that resonates with an authenticity and an unrelenting search for redemption. A huge heart serves as a potent reminder of why we fell in love with rock n’ roll in the first place. (Bevis Man)

The newest offering from Electricity In Our Homes, 'Dear Shareholder', is a fairly standard lo-fi rock album: the largely unpolished mix of tracks lends the album a feel that is quite 'raw'. Many songs, such as 'Oranges', are reminiscent of 'Leisure'-era Blur (even 'Modern Life' to a certain extent), whilst much of the vocals, which are often delivered in a hybrid of shouting and singing, recall Los Campesinos!. The final song, 'Play It Over,' sounds so much like Syd Barrett that this reviewer checked to see if it was a cover. An accessible and familiar album. (Kirsten Carey)


Shallow Bed

What was once the solo moniker of frontman Peter Liddle, today Dry The River encompasses five members and an immense, orchestral sound. While there are occasional moments that comprise of just Liddle’s voice and a violin, or an acoustic guitar, these are fleeting and often set the song’s tone before sweeping, grand explosions of splendour burst through. ‘Shallow Bed’ is an album that is both tender and full-throttle; a rare collection of songs that succeeds in both evoking the ethereal and forcing you to reach for the volume button. This album is set to prove that the band’s incessant hard work will be completely worth the endeavour – and the wait. (Heather Steele)



One thing that immediately strikes you about Ladyhawke's second full-length, ‘Anxiety’, is how everything seems much bigger than before. The synths and electro sounds are still there, but this time they are accompanied by crunching guitars and pounding drums; a distinct rock vibe making for a much more powerful listen. Pop comebacks are always a difficult thing to manage, but with an album that retains all the best things about her debut while expanding on both her sound and style, Pip Brown has more than passed the second album test. (Martyn Young) 70

Those who are fans of Crystal Castles, electrotrash or music that can wake you up better than a steaming cup of coffee may already be familiar with French boy/girl duo Kap Bambino. If you’re looking for spooky electronic jams that will most likely terrify you if you play them in the pitch black, then look no further, as 'Devotion' is clearly raving mad. At points, Martial’s high pitched yelps start to sound like nails on a chalkboard; at others, Caroline sounds like a small child chanting nursery rhymes. Unfortunately, what starts off as a playful journey full of dark electro soon turns tedious as the same sledgehammer synth-based scenery makes you yearn to look at a different soundscape. (Aurora Mitchell)


Freedom Of Speech

‘Freedom Of Speech’ is clearly a political record, standing up to hardships of the modern world; Speech Debelle tackles issues - including riots, protests and destruction - in a very mature way, with intelligent and insightful lyrics. It’s not an album to turn to if you want an easy ride - its themes and Debelle’s delivery are not always comfortable listening - but they're not meant to be. It could be considered as slightly preachy, but this album does what it sets out to do; make people think. (Leah Henson)




Swedes Simian Ghost were pigeonholed into the chillwave genre with last year’s ‘Lovelorn’ EP. Like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out, however, they’ve given any associations a firm boot in the face. As the name suggests, 'Youth''s most rousing moments lie in its themes of youthful exuberance and naivety. Dreamy opener ‘Curtain Call’ concerns shattered hope, whilst ‘Siren’ recounts the innocence of classroom infatuations. The crowning moment comes during closing track ‘No Dreams', a tale of unrealistic love and atop a chilly atmosphere and repetitively chiming melodies; it would even make the XX swoon. (Alex Yau)

Two years since the release of ‘Condors’, London-based trio Nedry have returned, having lost none of the flurry of excitement or beautifully realised soundscapes that have come to define them. ‘In A Dim Light’ shows their knack for painstakingly crafted songs has not diminished, revelling in its synergy of restrained dub, driving electronics and ethereal vocals. Together Nedry is the aftermath of an amalgamation of electronic genres and sounds. In a live environment ‘In A Dim Light’ is sure to become a different beast, but for now the 11 tracks encapsulated within the record are worth savouring for the hushed beauty that they are. (Heather Steele)


DJ FORMAT Statement Of Intent

Those who remember DJ Format will think of sample-heavy hip-hop: an old school style focusing on the playful, fun side of the spectrum. Whilst that’s still the case on a large part of 'Statement Of Intent', the loss of MC Abdominal is a big one: his wit and ability to construct delightfully left-field metaphors is valiantly attempted by Sureshot La Rock, but doesn’t succeed. Whilst the album-titled opening track surprises with its abrasive guitar hook, it speaks volumes that the strongest songs on here are the instrumentals. ‘Copper Canyons’ in particular with its sloping bass line and glacial, haunting synths will be the track that stays with you longest. ( Joe O'Sullivan)

In A Dim Light


Rooms Filled With Light

Frustratingly labelled as a British Arcade Fire when debut album ‘Reservoir’ was released in 2009, highly talented fivepiece Fanfarlo make a welcome return with 'Rooms Filled With Light', which admittedly will do little to undo those lazy comparisons. The presence of brass and strings never fail to add a layer of class to proceedings, and whilst it wouldn’t feel out of place listening to ‘Rooms Filled With Light’ on an old cassette walkman there's an intelligence and creativity on display here that other bands would do well to pay attention to. (Bevis Man)

SWOUND! Into The Sea

When all's said and done, the only major complaint with Swound!'s album 'Into The Sea' is perhaps something overly picky – that the bass sits a little high in the mix and washes out the heavier passages. Besides that, what you get is an album of grunge rock that evokes Ash and Weezer in equal measures and sticks to a relatively consistent level of quality. 'Your Kids Are Gonna Love It' sets the tone, all geek references and power-pop chorus, and apart from the notable highs – like natural single 'In My Head' – this template, like the standard of song, doesn't change. Though this first album offers nothing unexpected, Swound! have real potential. (Alex Lynham)

THE 2 BEARS Be Strong

The 2 Bears, formed by Hot Chip's Joe Goddard and DJ Raf Rundell, are a curious proposition. Influenced by 1980s Chicago house, in contrast to a lot of modern dance music the sound of ’Be Strong’ is predominately retro. Rundell’s vocals, played out in a style reminiscent of Ian Dury, provide a deeply English quality. This album may not offer much in the way of invention, but it's certainly the perfect record to light up those dark nights and look forward to summer, where a bit of novelty value and a few good tunes are all you need. (Martyn Young) 71

SKINT & DEMORALISED This Sporting Life

FRANKIE ROSE Interstellar

Tired of the plenitude of 80s-aping girl-pop-indebted rock bands, Rose's retort is one of epic proportions; an album dreaming of somewhere truly interstellar. The distinctive C86 sleaze and Spector-esque production of Rose's previous groups, from Vivian Girls to Frankie Rose & The Outs, is gone. Indeed, the only remnants of her former fuzz lie in the dreamy verses of 'Know Me'. Be it the soaring synth twinks of opener ‘Interstellar’ or the snarly and sinister ‘Moon In My Mind’, expect thirty two and a half minutes of utter ecstasy. (Huw Oliver)

Occasionally 'This Sporting Life' works perfectly 'The Lonely Hearts Of England' is a song so simple, sounding so much like a night down the local boozer, that it makes you yearn for a pint; 'Lowlife' is angry, grumpy and loud; the simple "Haaa-ah'’s in the chorus in 'Did It All Go To Plan?' work a treat - but, unfortunately, Skint & Demoralised's melodies aren't quite there, and neither do the lyrics stand out from the crowd. It’s not a bad album, but one that fails to leave a lasting impression. (Dani Beck)


Sounds From Nowheresville

Recorded through stints in Paris, Berlin and Mercia, The Ting Tings wrote their second LP as a "playlist album" aiming to create less coherence, and more of a "party feel." Here they neither attempt to be a ‘hip, indie band’ nor a ‘mainstream, pop act.’ And that’s how it feels. It’s the sound of a band stuck in the middle of nowhere mindlessly aiming for every direction possible. Four years should have provided ample time for the duo to produce an album that at least ranked as half decent, but that’s far from the case here. You have to wonder what exactly they’ve been doing with their time away - we’d rather be anywhere than nowhere, and The Ting Tings seem lost. (Alex Yau)


MEMORYHOUSE The Slideshow Effect

Charm, as they say, will get you everywhere, and Memoryhouse have it in buckets. Their albums exude a subdued magic, elegantly humanising their soft electronica through dreamy textures. On ‘The Slideshow Effect’ they tweak their template, going from bedroom indie to a fuller sound. It's still very much Memoryhouse, just evolved. Just listen to the ‘The Kids Were Wrong’, which keeps the longing but ups the tempo. Elsewhere it’s evocative business as usual, with the tender, regretful ‘Punctum’ standing out. This is a sound and vision that works. (Danny Wright) 72

Young Guns' first, self-released, record saw the Bucks quintet score an in-demand support slot alongside mega-dome fillers Lostprophets. It's an influence felt keenly within their follow-up, 'Bones', but when you're a rock band with designs on a route to the top that's no bad thing. Stunning opener 'I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die' could easily be mistaken for their more famous counterparts. With its earnest vocals and stratospheric chorus it's a call to arms and as brutal a statement of intent as you're likely to hear. It may feel at times like subtly has taken a back seat but, as a more than solid improvement from 'All Our Kings Are Dead', beneath the brash production there lies a strong canon of tracks that show real potential. (Greg Inglis)


'Yalla!' is the third solo album from Electric Soft Parade’s Thomas White, and sees the Brightonian in reflective form. Completely acoustic, the soft understated sound complements White’s hushed vocals. For the most part it's folksy and simple; delicate acoustic guitar evoking clear comparisons with Nick Drake. Where 'Yalla!' really excels is in White’s use of imagery. There's no doubting an ability to make beautifully crafted pop and, on the free-wheeling ‘The Heavy Sunshine Sound’, it's a joyful sound. A curious but beguiling album. (Martyn Young)


TINDERSTICKS The Something Rain

While some bands have a few hits and burn out, others produce consistently strong records that skirt under the fickle chart radar. Tindersticks fall firmly into the latter camp and their latest LP follows in the slipstream of their recent soundtrack work for Claire Denis. There are some real gems here, notably 'Chocolate', a brilliantly observational monologue that draws you into the story of a chance romantic encounter with its vivid detail and unexpected plot twist. It may not be a career defining record, but 'The Something Rain' is an emotionally rich and thoroughly rewarding listen. (Greg Inglis)


School Of Seven Bells take their name from a pickpocket training academy in the Andes mountains, South America’s more mysterious take on Oliver Twist. That seems fitting when we’re talking about 'Ghostory', their third offering. The band’s debut was a Fagan character, a loose cannon that had a penchant for pilfered world music. The follow up, 'Disconnect From Desire', was the Artful Dodger, more polished, ducking and diving across rhythms and melodies. As for the most recent? Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Deheza have graduated with honours. Bringing to mind the seductive electro of Class Actress and the haunting lyrics of St Vincent, this could be their most commercial record yet. (El Hunt)


Ceremony are, by popular admittance, a band who fuse hardcore and punk. So how does their abrasive attitude translate to the larger audience that comes with signing to a larger label? Well, on their fourth record many key ingredients fall by the wayside: 'Zoo' is a change of a pace. It sheds the energy and power of early Ceremony and proposes gloss, melody, and immediacy; it feels as though such a change was made simply for the sake of it. There's much to be gleaned from the greater resources that come with signing to a bigger label, but 'Zoo' is a chance gone begging. (Kyle Forward)


There's no way to describe Dalston via Edinburgh’s Django Django without using the word ‘quirky,’ so it’s no surprise that their self-titled debut is an outlandish LP. Opener ‘Introduction/Hail Bop’, with its schizophrenic synths and punchy latter half, just screams ‘Made In The Dark’ era Hot Chip, whilst ‘Zumm Zumm’ sounds like Alexis Taylor and co. living it large in a tropical paradise. Better yet is single ‘Default’ a cacophony of the most wonderfully eccentric robotic samples. This is the debut every band should make. (Alex Yau)


The Rosie Taylor Project use current tough times to their advantage on second album 'Twin Beds', crafting subtly honest songs wrapped with melancholy. The record begins with the two-minute title track, a floaty, ephemeral affair. Then a spry trumpet ushers in ‘For Esme’, which you hope is a loving reference to a J.D. Salinger short story. Throughout, the vocals bring to mind the dangerously breakable qualities of Charlie Fink and the delicate yet carefree characteristics of Simon Balthazar of Fanfarlo. The question is, with the ever-growing number of bands occupying a similar space, have The Rosie Taylor Project done enough to keep us interested? (Mary Chang)


Young & Old

With song titles like 'Never To Part' and 'My Better Self ', there is certainly a feeling here that husband-and-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley recorded this album whilst wearing matching hisand-hers knitwear, but sweep that preconception aside for a moment. 'Young & Old' is as charming, sweet and do-woppy as their previous effort, but with an added edge which keeps most skeptical feelings of anti-romantic nausea at bay. It's more polished, with less bedroom production and more slick melody, but, importantly, that original nostalgia is still very much there. Tennis have served up an ace. (El Hunt) 73

photo: Emma Swann

LONDON, THE ROUNDHOUSE Brand New are, if we’re being honest, a bit of a wonder unto themselves. Straying from press, ignoring regular release schedules and playing shows how and when they want, the Long Island band are now almost as mysterious as they are adored. And so, when they announced that they would return to the UK in early 2012, the word ‘excitement’ could only be a gross understatement. Opening this evening are favourites The Xcerts. Taking the opening slot in their absolute stride, they sound more confident and at ease than ever before. Next, I Am The Avalanche bring their gravelly poppunk tracks; bounding around the stage, they keep energy high but as soon as their time draws to a close, all focus instantly shifts to this evening’s headliners. The last time that Brand New graced our shores in 2010, their visit was marked with a one-off, sold out show at London’s Wembley Arena, which just so happened to be their only appearance in support of latest effort ‘Daisy’. Thus, three years on 74

from said release, they have no record to push and no new material to debut. This evening’s setlist could include just about anything and with this band, we’d expect nothing less. As the lights go down, you can almost taste the anticipation. Emerging in a sea of white lights, the band begin delicately, and as the opening riffs of ‘Welcome To Bangkok’ become more recognisable, the music swells and crashes, an intricate soaring of instrumentation. Dropping straight into another track from ‘The Devil And God...’, the audience roar with gratitude as ‘The Archers Bow Have Broken’ begins, the whole room already singing along. A similar pattern emerges throughout, as each track is greeted with cries of happiness and smiles that only grow as the set continues. Guiding the audience through eras of their career, the band seem entirely content to be playing older material. ‘Deja Entendu’ classics such as ‘Sic Transit Gloria...

Glory Fades’ and ‘The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows’ are met with huge singalongs, whilst the three tracks from their debut – 2001’s ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ – explode with a more harnessed version of the malicious teen intent they bore so well. Nostalgia aside, their newer tracks shine bright; the ‘Daisy’ inclusions are layered with complex guitars, distortion and the vocals of frontman Jesse Lacey being pushed right to the edge of their limits. Embodying a perfect feeling of catharsis, it’s so effortlessly portrayed by the Long Islanders, who seem to be honestly enjoying their evening at the Roundhouse. Returning to close the set with a series of tracks from their arguably definitive third album, ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘Degausser’ are both poignant and beautiful, and before we even realise, the intro to ‘You Won’t Know’ signals that tonight is complete. As Lacey stands centre stage for the last chorus, looking out into the hundreds of people singing back at him, he mutters one last line before dropping the microphone to the floor and the echo fills the room. It’s in that moment that all we can wonder is when we’ll meet again, and what could possibly be in store for us next. (Sarah Jamieson)

REVIEWS Still Corners comprise largely of songstress Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist Greg Hughes, backed live by a few extra contributors. Their debut album, ‘Creatures Of An Hour’ came out in October of last year and was a late runner in the Best-Of tallies for the past twelve months. Murray’s eerie and mournful sighs, pants and whispers overlay Hughes’ broad blanket of atmospheric sound, lulling the listener into a dream-like state. As the projections gear up, it seems like we’re going to be treated to a similarly hypnotic affair this evening. By the time Still Corners make their way to the dark-lit stage, support My Sad Captains have already kept the audience contended to but there’s an air of expectancy for the headline band who must be coming to the end of the album cycle of their much-belated first release and whom are probably already eyeing their next moves. However for a band so dependent on atmosphere, there’s a significant lack of it in Cargo tonight. Perhaps it’s the sound system,

photo: Emma Swann


which is far from great. Maybe it’s the bynow quite formulaic visuals. Or it could be the lighting, beyond brooding, instead easing one into a light stupor. The album’s lead-single ‘Cuckoo’, however, perks the crowd up from their late evening daydreams with its familiarity: Murray’s haunting vocals hitting you like a cool breeze, causing the majority of the crowd to sway accordingly. ‘Endless Summer’, on the other hand, changes

the mood entirely with its blissed-out feel, a great anecdote to outside’s near-freezing temperatures on this wintry Wednesday evening. It’s these very instances that underline the dichotomy behind Still Corners. It’s plain to see that they have the quality of songs, but live these appear a little flat to any onlookers unfamiliar; and even to those that have been introduced to their brilliant debut release, they sadly fall short in comparison. (Luke Morgan Britton)

LONDON, BRIXTON ACADEMY When the lights go black in Brixton Academy tonight, the volume increases within seconds. The sea of screaming girls is entirely expected, but it’s something your eardrums never really get used to.

photo: Phil Smithies

Their excitement however is justified. Tonight, Panic! At The Disco are playing in this infamous venue once more, and for the first time with their newest line-up. In fact, the last time we saw these Fueled By Ramen darlings commandeer this stage was all the way back in 2006 when they performed a truly unbelievable four night residency. How time flies. Granted, they may be almost six years older, but Panic! are still as great as ever. Completely theatrical, but in a more subtle sense nowadays, gone are the brightly coloured eyeshadows and flowercovered props. In their place, however, frontman Brendon Urie is still perfectly coiffed and wonderfully charismatic, oozing a complete sense of assurance

within his talents. The refreshing part though, is that it’s not all smoke and mirrors. Behind the flourishes lies an incredible back catalogue of pop songs and tonight, the band happily guide their audience through their whole career. Urie’s vocals are sultry enough to die for, and there’s not a note he doesn’t hit. Tracks from their debut 'A Fever You Can't Sweat Out' are giddily met, whilst the few chosen from their second and third efforts still go down comfortably well. Even the band's brave attempts at covering Led Zeppelin and The Darkness go down fairly well, before they draw to a close with the wonderfully climactic 'Nearly Witches (Ever Since We Met)', proving – just as they did six years ago - that Panic! At The Disco completely belong on stages like this. (Sarah Jamieson) 75





Fancy yourself as the next Charlie Chaplin? Think you’re a bit late. Still, you can always get in on the silent home video act even if you won’t win any Oscars. Introducing the Lomokino definitely one for the purists as there’s no USB lead in sight. Yep, that’s right, it’s (as it says on the camera itself ) “gloriously analogue”. It uses 36-exposure 35mm film to produce a 144 frame short film, has a tripod mount for those moments when a steady hand won’t quite cut it, and it oozes retro charm. Obviously, the end result is pretty lofi, but you don’t come to Lomo for perfect images. So if old school, gravelly images are what you’re after, Lomokino is king.



Pen and paper have been around for aeons, and while we all love a doodle, when it comes to leaving notes, this old school means of communicating is getting a little, well, passé. Cue the worryingly addictive, yet cool little offering from Native Union – the Play video memo pad. With a built-in video camera, mic and a 2.4” LCD colour screen, this palm-size gadget lets you record whatever’s on your mind: to-do lists, soppy “I miss you”s or the last word in an argument you never quite settled last night. It’s available in seven different colours, has a magnetised back so you can stick it to the fridge door, and with only three buttons to master, it’s seriously userfriendly. Pen and paper your time is up.




Children of the 80s will remember the revolutionary high-tech communication tool of two empty yoghurt pots and a long bit of string. This top-end gadget allowed the participants the flexibility of standing at opposite ends of the garden while still being able to hold an indepth conversation (probably about Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles). However, the sound quality wasn’t the best and hand gestures were often needed in order to get the point across. Here in 2012 however, thanks to the Snowflake USB Mic by Blue, sound quality is beautifully crystal clear. Attach it to virtually any laptop or desktop monitor, connect by a USB lead, and record whatever you want - podcasts, lectures, or Alan Partridge-style dictation. It’s also great for recording music via Garageband and will even work with iPads.

Hot off the press (quite literally) as this genius mini gizmo is yet to be launched, is the Berg Little Printer. Connect it to the internet, then use your iPhone or Android smartphone to choose what you want to keep up to date with (news, vouchers, friends’ activities, for instance). When you’ve picked all your favourites, the Berg Little Printer will supply you with your own personal newsfeed printout. If you choose to print out twice a day, it’ll be like having your own (very small) morning and evening newspaper to hand. What’s more, you don’t need to fret about using up the ink as there’s no ink involved – it uses a thermal inkless printer. Tell that to Epson...






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Spirit Of Vengeance It's quite refreshing how completely aware of its own awfulness this film is, which is happy to ride on the flaming coattails of its star's demented movie persona. Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, with tongue firmly in cheek for a daft good vs. evil cat 'n' mouse chase. An amazingly sincere Ciaran Hinds and Idris Elba go along for the ride with aplomb, Christopher Lambert appears to have biro scribblings on his face, and baddie Johnny Whitworth's fate is intentionally hilarious as he chases Violante Placido and her special son across Eastern Europe. Directors Neveldine and Taylor deliver some snazzy motorcycle stunts in the requisite 3D, and even include a nod to THE BEES. (Becky Reed)

SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE The only thing more giddily exciting than coming face-to-face with Nicolas Cage is Nicolas Cage with three cans of Red Bull in front of him. We're half-relieved, half-disappointed the actor turns out to be calm, thoughtful and eloquent, with just a touch of his infamous eccentricity. At the London hotel where selected press are graced half an hour in his presence, Cage takes us on a mind-bending trip through his days playing Johnny Blaze in this month's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. In the sequel to 2007's dour adaptation of the Marvel Comic, Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor ramp up the humour, sending up Cage's image and even his classic moments in other films (we're talking The Wicker Man). It's wild and action-packed, but, naturally, completely ridiculous. "I feel like I have to jump in when I'm doing a movie that has a high level of risk," Cage tells us. "The 78

odd thing is that high energy caffeine drinks calm me down [that explains it]. If someone puts a bit of fire on me, or asks me to drive extremely fast in a car chase, everything slows down and it gets my mind off my emotional baggage. " "I WO U L D P RO J EC T I N G


Some unusual pets and NIN provided some of his inspiration: "I had a couple of cobra snakes, but the neighbours didn't like it, so I gave them to a zoo. I would study these cobras, who would move back and forth in a rhythmic motion. There was something I'd seen in a Trent Reznor video where he was revolving and rotating in circles - I thought, let's have Ghost Rider do that." " I ' M L EG A L LY U N A B L E T O R I D E A M O T O RCYC L E D U E T O A C O N T R AC T WITH MY LIFE INSURANCE."

Cage relished the chance to get back on a bike, as he explains: "I'm legally unable to ride a motorcycle due to a contract with my life insurance, so whenever I get to do a movie where I ride a bike, I go for it."

He then paints the most incredible image of his mad method on-set, which sadly can't be seen on screen. "I would paint my face with make-up so it would look like a skull and put black contact lenses in - like voodoo icon Baron Saturday. It stimulated my imagination.

The actor is on a roll as he reveals his unique approach to Ghost Rider. "It was a chance to experiment with movement and state of mind. Brian Bates, in his book the Way of the Wyrd, explained that all actors come from a long distant past of medicine men. You would go in an altered state of consciousness to help the villagers - these days you would be considered psychotic."

"I would walk on the set projecting an aura of horror and I would see fear in the eyes of my co-stars. It led me to believe I really was this spirit of vengeance. The problem is if you have a Christmas party in Romania when you're shooting until 2am, and Schnapps is involved, all hell can break loose! We're lucky I'm not in a Romanian prison!"

Release Date: 9th March 2012 Disney are taking a gamble with their spectacular adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' sci-fi opus. Casting relative newcomer Taylor Kitsch as the titular



Civil War Confederate captain who finds himself on the hostile red planet, it needs something special to stop it being Avatar on Mars. We've seen a chunk of the 3D footage already, and can confirm John Carter has one ace up its sleeve - a sense of humour. It's also the first liveaction film from Pixar animation genius Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding

Nemo), and if he can do what his buddy Brad Bird did with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, he's on to a winner. At a recent preview screening, Kitsch recalled his first meeting with Stanton: "I walked into this room and 360 degrees to the ceiling is the emotional arc of the character... You leave completely inspired by that energy he has and you envelop yourself with the books." We're hoping for substantial back story, with the actor adding: "I tried to connect with the Civil War and sat down with a bunch of professors in Texas. They gave me hundreds of letters from guys who were writing home, and I learnt an incredible amount from that, the honour and sacrifice." And that title change? "It's truly an origins story, and when you see it you'll see that he earns that title, which I'm a huge fan of."





A Reese Witherspoon romcom that the lads will love as much as the ladies is a rare beast indeed. That This Means War is not only that rare beast but bludgeons it severely about the head with the butt of a gun, douses it in petrol and dances around the ensuing flames naked and laughing maniacally is something of a pleasant surprise. The success of the film lies almost entirely at the feet of its inspired casting. Man-crush du jour Tom Hardy and Captain Kirk, Chris Pine, sparkle as CIA operatives and best friends who fall for the same woman, while romcom Queen Witherspoon shows us how to root for an, on paper, unsympathetic gal who fancies dating two guys at once. Director McG has the action chops to add some tasty fight scenes although the magnificent Til Schweiger is wasted as the Euro-trash bad guy. This Means War is more Mr and Mrs Smith than Sweet Home Alabama and Chris Pine's English accent is worth the price of admission alone. (Christa Ktorides)

Rampart is a compelling character study of a corrupt cop (Woody Harrelson), whose pragmatic approach to keeping the peace sees him in danger of being left behind in the transitional Los Angeles of 1999. Harrelson is in terrific form as the tightly coiled Dave "Date Rape" Brown, a man perpetually on the edge of fury, and his downward spiral could not have been portrayed with more intensity. The star studded supporting cast features cameos for Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi and Ben Foster, but this is very much Harrelson's show. The problem the film runs into is in director Oren Moverman's handling of the story. The whole film feels over-directed, with needless moving cameras disorienting the audience, and a few ill-advised sequences take an almost psychedelic turn. It's a shame that the film is almost derailed by these creative choices, and a rather baggy third act does cause interest to wane. Nevertheless, as a character study the story cannot be faulted. (Sam Faulkner)

Denzel Washington goes into Training Day mode as a rogue ex-CIA agent and fugitive who goes on the run with Ryan Reynolds' eager beaver operative. Washington's supersmart badass brings some excitement to Reynolds' boring post in Johannesburg, mainly spent frolicking with a sexy French student who serves no purpose to the plot. Director Daniel Espinosa got Hollywood's attention with hit thriller Snabba Cash, but Safe House could not be more dull and derivative. Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Cunningham are given thankless tasks in a film that hangs on the devastating charm of leading man Washington. An interesting film could've emerged from the premise of the titular safe house and its pitfalls, but it quickly slides into standard conspiracy thriller with a staggeringly repetitive sequence of car chases, crashes and punch-ups. Only a side-trip scuffle at a South African football match livens up proceedings. (Becky Reed) 79



(Deep Silver) – Xbox 360, PS3

Catherine’s box art has a wide-eyed anime temptress pushing up her bust and the game’s recent UK launch took place in a strip club. Hmm. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a Hentai w**k paradise. It truly isn’t. With a tangled and mature story, Catherine contradicts the images it portrays by being a beautifully designed moral labyrinth. The game structure can feel repetitive and lacklustre compared to the story itself – but there’s enough variety to keep Catherine’s claws hooked. Simply amazing.


(Konami) – Xbox 360, PS3

Konami's action shooter sees you in the boots of the immortal demon-hunter Bryce Boltzmann as he and his sidekick Arcadia shoot and shoot and shoot at a load of demons from the dawn of time attacking the earth. Immortal, but not indestructible, Bryce's body can be dismembered, leaving you rolling his head around to re-collect your own severed limbs. The game's puzzles all rely on purposely dismantling yourself and, while throwing your arm (still shooting guns) into the gaping mouth of a bulging beast is a moment of awe, there's little variety to it and the limb-less gimmick, sadly, soon becomes stale.


(Sony) - Release Date: 22/02/12

It's time to get rid of your Vita Virginity as Sony's latest hand-held future-box is here, playing host to two analog-sticks, a touch-screen and a touch-sensitive back panel used to manipulate games from behind like a digital pervert. Available in 3G and WiFi models, it's also fully backwards compatible with PSP games released on PlayStation Network with graphical upscaling. But it's not all about the games, y'see. Sony are keen to make the console transcend the world of gaming into the murky land of portable communications devices. With Sony Music Unlimited, Netflix, social media apps like Facebook, Skype and Twitter as well as a full web browser, the Vita isn't just for the hardcore gamers. It's more like an oddly shaped smart phone, without being able to call anyone. Streaming music through Sony Music Unlimited via 3G works like Spotify on the go, and Netflix gives you access to thousands of movies and TV shows, but has the advantage of having a much larger screen than a phone. Or the disadvantage – nobody wants to get caught with a Vita in their pocket at work. But, regardless, there's already a backlog of games online to choose from if that's all you're interested in, as well as some impressive launch titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss to play with. Just don't mention those expensive memory cards, ahem...


(Namco Bandai) – Xbox 360, PS3

Even though it says number five, it's really number six in the iconic fight-a-thon series. But brand new characters and refined oldies will remind you why we spent so long with old-school beat 'em ups as youngsters. With plenty of character creation options and a focus on online play, SoulCalibur V's disappointingly streamlined arcade mode and short story let it down in the end. But with Street Fighter IV-esque special attacks and a return to the arcade-style fighting based around timing, rhythm and experience, this is hard to put down. Welcome back to the stage of history! 80


The long-awaited pairing of two beat 'em up legends sees new gameplay mechanics for the acclaimed Street Fighter IV engine, refined to suit the needs of SF & Tekken players alike. The most intense and eyebrow raising battle since that time Ricky Gervais had to fight Grant Bovey for no reason whatsoever.




(Activision, 1991) Commodore Amiga

Although Hunter may look like your little brother drew its jagged polygons after his afternoon feed on rusks and tit-milk, this is a complex and oddly open-world adventure that belies its boxy bad looks. Hunter sends your painfully slow army-chap on a journey across an admirably large map to collect the head of an enemy general and return it to HQ like some sort of bloodthirsty trip to Tesco. Hunter's map is made up of desolate (and square) islands on which there are various huts, vehicles, items and enemies to encounter.

But thre's no set way to go about it – the main Hunter mode just lets you do what you like, as long as you return within six days with the general's head. So you can utilise any type of disgusting transport to make your way across the eerily empty islands, including boxy helicopter, boxy tank, boxy armoured vehicle, boxy boats and, our favourite, boxy bicycles. Using food and money to bribe (yes, bribe) enemy soldiers who welcome a revolution, you can find yourself hunted in a twist of the tale, as some loyal enemy soldiers come chasing you in trucks. The off-kilter approach to the game sees you constantly tailed by screeching seagulls and, even if you do away with these pests, the game's grumbling soundtrack sets a sombre and sinister mood. Its open-world environment coupled with its dark atmosphere is unforgettable, even if the graphics and pseudo-3D are an eyesore these days. Hunter is a game that shines through design rather than looks, and the freedom of exploration is one that undoubtedly served as a pre-cursor to games like Grand Theft Auto and Fallout.



It's hard not to be a fan of BioWare's space-based melodrama, but when they announced last year that the next instalment in the series would summon the mystical powers of Kinect on Xbox 360, we all drew air through gritted teeth like they'd just said there'd be a Galactic Dance Off Mode (we're looking at YOU, Kinect Star Wars). But, several videos later, it doesn't seem so bad – Mass Effect 3 won't have you running around in your own living room, pretending to shoot someone and chat up aliens. Instead - and strike us down, space-lords - Kinect actually seems to enhance the whole thing! Instead of using a command wheel to select weapons and direct your companions, you'll be able to bark orders at them. Yelping 'shotgun' and 'grenades' at the screen will select the items in your inventory, and you can mention a companion's name followed by the power you want them to utilise, meaning the frenetic action won't be paused as you decide what to do next. Kinect also promises full voice recognition, which we're sure we'll all put to the test with the most ridiculous accents we can muster. Bear in mind, though, you're likely to be doing this in the comfort of your own home, possibly in your pyjamas, reducing the toughness scale of intergalactic battling by 70 cool points.

Mass Effect 3 is due for release on 9th March from EA on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.


Those of us of a certain age will hold the Metal Gear Solid series in a special place in our hearts. Or a special place in our bin. The stealth-action series isn't for the trigger happy, but is renowned for its cerebrally challenging thrills and complex storylines. If you've never liked the series, prepare to not like it all over again with Konami's remastering of a select few in the series. Comprising of MGS 2, MGS3 and the PSP-exclusive Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, this is, by no means, a definitive collection. (Yeah, where's Metal Gear Solid 1?!) However, the slickness of Snake Eater, coupled with its unbridled atmospheric tension outshines many modern games. The draggedout cut-scenes make a welcome return with Snake looking as angry and serious as ever in sharp HD. While the controls may seem dated, the passion and stories just don't age. Still masterpieces! 81

photo: Emma Swann


ating is a daunting prospect at the best of times, but first dates are the absolute worst - the early onset of anxiety and nauseousness which leads one to pretend they like Pedro Almodovar films just for sheer use of making conversation. Imagine then, if you will, how frightening blind dates must be. The pre-empting by others that you will “get on so well” can only evoke dangerous levels of expectancy to be charming, witty and to have come equipped with a repertoire of at least five anecdotes that you must henceforth manage under a rotation system. Worse yet, imagine the other person in question to actually be a band who you know all the songs of, even off their bloomin’ Christmas EP! So here I find myself taking Sheffield duo Slow Club bowling. This is what my life has become. Oh the woes of a music journo. Put the beer on expenses, will ya? So I can sob into it. “I’ve decided to grow my hair long for the first time,” Charles tells me as Rebecca 82

takes off her denim jacket to reveal an American flag crop-top, something very “in” this season, leading me to add ‘fashion’ to my mental list of potential conversation topics to spark with her. “To about George Harrison length, I was thinking,” he continues. I miss the opportunity to tell him it looks nice, a classic first date rookie error on my part. “So that’s why I’m wearing a hat indoors.” I’ll be damned if I make the same mistake twice and tell Charles it’s a nice cap regardless. Rebecca steps forward for her first bowl but before she does, turns and begins to ask me a series of first-date questions. “What’s your favourite food?,” “Which is your favourite soap?,” “Cats or dogs?” Suddenly the tables are reversed. The security barriers have well and truly been broken down and now I’m on stage being asked to sing. I hesitate and she manages to bowl a strike while I’m still stammering and stuttering. “Erm, Hollyoaks,” I begin. “But ironically, of course,” I justify myself in reply to her silent but judging stare. “Probably cats too and I can’t remember the third question.” “Cats?” she replies. “Really?” I can tell already that it’s not going to work out so I shift my focus to Charles. This is my chance to truly bond with him,

to add another “bro” to my plural of “bros.” After Rebecca’s beginner’s luck, she slowly dwindles down the leader board. It’s now between Charles and I - each good bowl by one is met by the other with a slightly aggressive, slightly affectionate barrage of cursing. It’s like we’re childhood friends that secretly hate each other. I win the first round, Charles takes the second one. But truth be told, if you must know, I was just being a good date and let him win that one - honest! And even if I didn’t, you can’t prove otherwise - I am the one with the pen here, remember. As we depart, Charles and I clearly seem intent on pointing our feet in different directions. It’s not until he finally says “You should come to our show next week” that I know I’ve done enough to secure a second date. Now it’s just Rebecca to win over. On the tube back, we chit-chat and I envision our future together, an idyllic schoolboy daydream - but rather than carrying the girl’s books it will be ever-so-slightly-heavier guitars and amps instead. But suddenly the train halts and I realise it’s time for us to disembark and part ways. I go home alone; to write these very words. To read an interview with the band and watch a special behind-the-scenes video, visit

DIY, March 2012  

Featuring Chiddy Bang, The Shins, Pulled Apart By Horses, Ladyhawke, Pure Love, Gaz Coombes, Michael Kiwanuka, Young Guns & more...

DIY, March 2012  

Featuring Chiddy Bang, The Shins, Pulled Apart By Horses, Ladyhawke, Pure Love, Gaz Coombes, Michael Kiwanuka, Young Guns & more...