TITUS ANDRONICUS STORNOWAY . BILLY BRAGG EL GUINCHO . FLYING LOTUS Fall
BATHS . FUJIYA & MIYAGI
FIGHT LIKE APES . ALEXISONFIRE
Rob Hakimian . Dasal Abayaratne . Holly Bidgood . Ruby Buckley . Sam Goff . Adam Saunders . Sam Khaneka . Liz Davies . Edwin Shaw . Liam Lanigan . Tom Riste-‐Smith . Oli Frost . Jamie Brown Aimée Wang rarefm.co.uk
In this era of disposable music wherein hype bands are forgotten before their buzz has even faded it’s hard to keep track of all the new bands and genres that come flying at you. Thankfully there are certain genres and musical traditions that are too strong and important to be forgotten about. In this issue we have interesting interviews with Stornoway and Titus Andronicus, bands who represent two of these genres, folk and punk respectively, and do so with genuine love, admiration and respect for those who have come before them. Another symptom of this internet-‐fuelled musical landscape is that there is a daunting amount to sift through. Thankfully there are those out there who are dedicated enough and gifted enough to accurately go through and assess the merits of new music out there in a critical, enjoyable and stylish manor. I am delighted to say that, as the reviews in this issue will attest, all of the reviewers in the Under City Lights family can consider themselves one of these beacons of musical direction. Thank you all for your contributions. Thank you too, the reader, for taking an interest, and if you feel as though you’d be comfortable under the Under City Lights wing, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are a tree in a field, but we could one day be an orchard. RH +
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OLD & GREY PICK OF THE POPS WITH THE FRAU
n Terry Gilliam’s latest escapade into the bizarre and surreal, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, lurks an unexpected and unconventional figure in the character cast: clad in black suit and top hat, darkly witty and coolly sardonic appears the Devil himself, played by no other than cult musician Tom Waits. He has aged befittingly since his musical heyday in the 1970s, his face now haggard with the mischievous and ironical humour that characterises the extreme versatility of his music. Whether growling, caterwauling, drawling or (rarely) singing his distinctive, often seedy anecdotes over thumping jazz rhythms ‘(Underground’), eerie saxophone licks (‘Small Change’) or deliberately out-‐of-‐tune piano melodies (‘The Piano Has Been Drinking (not me)’), the performer communicates a persona that is strikingly befitting to such a sarcastic and blackly comical figure as Terry Gilliam’s creation. He even appears as the lunatic Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. herever Waits happens to turn up he is a surprising figure. His deep howling voice is reminiscent of the rawness of the early Delta Blues singers; I imagine more than one mouth was open in surprise when he appeared on the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977: a young, slim pale American with a full head of combed hair and characterful features. Dressed in a dark suit he sits alone at a grand piano with only a drummer, double-‐bassist and saxophonist – half-‐hidden and semi-‐audible – for company in the atmospheric semi-‐darkness of the small studio. At the piano he draws out the beautiful melody of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’, while his gruff voice strains into the microphone. It is not a musical voice, but it is passionate, touching and unmistakable. Perhaps lacking is some of the eccentricity of his cabaret-‐ like performances caught on live DVDs – such as ‘Burma Shave’, in which he hangs around a stage lamppost clutching a continual cigarette, and the audience howl with laughter at his seemingly semi-‐ inebriated version of ‘Silent Night’ – yet he has not lost even an inch of conviction, and shows himself to be just as passionate as he is theatrical. To illustrate: my father attended a Sheffield concert in the late seventies. The lights went down, and in the pitch blackness Waits simply howled like a wolf – a haunting welcome, and endearingly bizarre. HB
It’s nice to hear the vocals of a couple of 80s legends on some recent releases. The Cure’s Robert Smith is taking over singing duties on this new version of the track ‘Not In Love’ by Crystal Castles which throws the electronic duo in a new light minus Alice Glass’ vocoded screechings. The original version can be found on their self-‐titled second album released earlier this year, but any fan of the Cure will know how brilliantly Smith can sing about love, so this version’s the winner! Stop Press! Ronson has released a track which does not feature trumpets! A song writing collaboration between the likes of Jake Shears, Cathy Denis (the maestro behind Kylie’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’), and Dirty Pretty Things’ Anthony Rossomando proves that too many witches do not in fact spoil the broth. The single is what you’d expect Culture Club to sound like if they were still going and regardless of the madness of Boy George, his Motown-‐ inspired vocals are just plain delicious. After the mediocre ‘Rhinestone Eyes’ and sugar-‐sweet ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ Gorillaz are ending the year with a track as good as early 2010 single ‘Stylo’. ‘Doncamatic’, named in homage to a Japanese drum machine, features the Manchester talent Daley, who, before watching the video, had me fooled that he was a she. A lovely bit of androgyny on this stomper of a pop tune which sounds like Kraftwerk covering German beer hall music. (continued on next page)
COLUMNS Another artist owing a lot to a synthesiser this month is the Swedish singer-‐songwriter Robyn who has completely shaken up Paola Bruna’s plodding 2003 original version of ‘Hang With Me’. Not to be confused with Robyn’s earlier single, ‘Handle Me’, this electro re-‐ vamp does not stray far from her style that we know and love, but you can’t beat her MicroKorg arpeggios and independent woman lyrics. It’s not the most complicated of songs, but you can’t beat simplicity in the world of pop.
The indie dance floor is awash with nostalgia these days as La Roux battles with The Drums to reignite the musical genres of years past. Mystery Jets, however, have travelled a more documented and organic route from folky genius on Making Dens to the pop tinged with 80s sensibilities from their latest album Serotonin. ‘Show Me The Light’ contains all the teenage angst you need echoed in the riffs moaning from their guitars to have your stomach in knots, whilst the upbeat percussion plants this track firmly in the DJ’s playlist. RB
VIDEO SPOTLIGHT Sufjan Stevens – ‘Too Much’ http://bit.ly/UCLzine_4 Watching Sufjan Stevens’ new video is like attending an alternative and streetwear fashion show and blinking your way through it due to the instense strobe lighting being fired directly into your eyes. What it actually is is Sufjan and a few of his equally trendy cohorts dancing around in front of a black screen, filmed in stop motion, all the while being surrounded by blobs and flashes of vibrant lines and colours, as though it were being filmed inside a dying computer. The highlight of the video comes at the point of the nadir of the imaginary computer; the colours leave and all we are left with are morphing white lines on a black screen, reminiscent of classic retro arcade game Asteroid. This makes for an interesting watch, but at the same time could be painful on the eyes, and in the back of your voice there’s a little voice insisting that this could just as easily be a project of Shoreditch-‐frequenting art student.
Arcade Fire – ‘The Suburbs’ http://bit.ly/UCLzine_5 The idea of a “suburban war” is the main theme of Arcade Fire’s latest album The Suburbs and that mentality is summed up perfectly in this Spike Jonze-‐directed video for the album’s opener and title track. The first half of the video features brilliantly shot images of teens mucking about and generally having a good time, with a little play fighting and toy guns, showing the idyllic image of suburban life. As night descends however the rose-‐ tinted lens slips off the camera and the toy guns are soon replaced with real ones as inexplicably (or perhaps inevitably?) army men show up in the formerly peaceful community. The mood change is sharp and is evident in the faces of all the young actors and actresses on display in the video. This is a good summation of the general message of the album; the perfect picture of suburban life is only a facade, deep down existential, financial and romantic worries burden us all (particularly the latter in this instance). The final “scene” of the video seems to crop up out of nowhere, but as we’ve seen him do several times before, Spike Jonze has uses his talent here to make a story that is mostly nonsensical into something entirely magical. Tu Fawning – ‘I Know You Now’ http://bit.ly/UCLzine_6 The introductory segment of this video is not dissimilar to the video for ‘The Suburbs’; it includes two young boys running around a town shooting at each other with toy guns, seemingly harmlessly, but nevertheless there is an eerie air of discomfort at the fact that there are no adults, or any other human beings in sight. This mistrust is proves well-‐ placed as a smash cut in time with the first chord of the brilliantly creepy chorus is struck and we are thrown into an entirely different scene; a Lynch-‐ esque room complete with suspended spinning instruments and emotionless young girls. The rest of the video depicts an odd and indefinable ritual that is filmed beautifully in washed-‐out tones which match perfectly with the pale emotionless faces of the participants. The ritual itself will intrigue and confuse you, and all the while holding it all together is the masterfully ominous soundtrack. RH
FUJIYA AND MIYAGI -‐ ‘Yoyo’ [Full Time Hobby, 2011]
There is a disconnect in the bowels of this song from the gently hyped Brighton quartet; cringe worthy as it is to say this, the song has its ups and downs. The positives are in the economical instrumental base: softly distorted guitar and synth occasionally peeling away into squeaks and scrapes, a warm blanket of noise with a delicious element of unease. The negatives, unfortunately, are the rhythm and vocals that this blanket cannot hope to cover up: a single, looped jab of organ, thoughtlessly bobbing drums, and a vocal line defined by restraint, with maybe six notes and fewer lyrics. At first it seems strange to draw this line down the middle of the song: after all, minimalist repetition is the hallmark of the Krautrock/ambient music that clearly fuels Fujiya and Miyagi. After a few listens, though, the issue becomes clearer: the faint menace of the overlay is undermined by the politeness and soft delivery of the rest. Groups like Kraftwerk are exhilarating because their repetition is confrontational, daring you to dismiss the very minimal construction behind the music. F&M are comfortable with the sonic vocabulary; in fact, they’re probably too comfortable, and hence so is the listener. SG
MARNIE STERN – ‘Risky Biz’ [Kill Rock Stars, 2010]
Marnie Stern’s new single has a childlike quality to it. She opens up singing line by line as if she’s forming the words as she goes along. With this slightly twee and juvenile approach more of Marnie’s own angst come out, as she sings “I’ve got something in my soul/Pushing me to hold onto the pain.” This is all quite a big change compared to her older songs. As you might have noticed, not until now is there a mention of her guitar noodling; the default opening line for any article about her. In fact it only acts as a backing to her voice and is so toned down that at first listen it’s barely noticeable. The new direction is interesting and probably necessary but still there is lingering feeling that you’d rather the excitement than the introspection. AS ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI – ‘Round and
Round’ [4AD, 2010]
The recent surge in interest in Ariel Pink’s work, and his subsequent album with Haunted Graffiti, Before Today, have seen the reclusive singer-‐songwriter and one time apprentice of Animal Collective redefine his musical palette; as is only to be expected. In this revaluation, his
response to acclaim that has been slow to arrive (albums over the last ten years have documented closer to two decades of composition), he has retained the fundamental sound he’s been peddling all this time-‐ nostalgic, dreamy pop music hearkening back to the 70s and 80s-‐ whilst altering its delivery. This too is understandable: if AP’s current popularity is the result of his ambient/lo-‐fi earlier efforts making their influence heard in contemporary chillwave and fuzzed-‐up indie pop, then his riposte is to strip away that fuzz and haze to reveal the very real songwriting talents that have always supported the sonic ornamentation. It turns out that a cleaned-‐up Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti track wouldn’t sound out of place in the more stylish corners of the 80s: crisp disco rhythms, a tumbling ‘Billie Jean’-‐ aping bassline, and a chorus of honeysweet harmonies. There is still a ramshackle charm in the deconstructed bridge with its strained refrain, and Ariel clearly enjoys the chorus a little too much, relying too much on it in the second half of the song. But then, that is just a sign of a musician confident in his own abilities, and it’s a confidence well earned. SG MICHAEL JACKSON FT. AKON – ‘Hold My
It is with a cautious sense of curiosity that I approach anything from the first of Michael Jackson’s posthumously issued albums (I’m assuming there will be more purely due to the unceremonious cash-‐cow Jackson’s death has provided). Leading single, ‘Hold My Hand’, sees Jackson performing a duet with Akon, a concept that initially filled me with fear, but remarkably, it works. Jackson’s vocals are as floatingly silky as ever before and Akon’s unsurprisingly auto-‐tuned voice seems to provide a slightly gritty but fitting counterpart. The entire production of the song clearly oozes qualities of Akon’s own material but it is admittedly jarring to hear Michael Jackson’s voice on something so overtly 21st century. Whilst nothing particularly special, ‘Hold My Hand’ proves itself an upbeat if understated anthem that is sure to linger in the listener’s memory. With its sweeping orchestration and soothingly light accompaniment, ‘Hold My Hand’ has a certain charm despite its relative monotony. More than anything, it is pleasant to hear Michael’s voice on something new. Still, if you want a dose of classic sounding MJ, you’re probably best seeking out ‘Breaking News’. SK
ALBUM REVIEWS DNTEL – After Parties 1 and 2 [SubPop 2010] Jimmy Tamborello aka Dntel is stuck in a bit of a rut. In the late 90s his career began to snowball; first hailed as a pioneering electronica artist he gained a cult following. In 2001 he released his first full length under the Dntel moniker Life Is Full Of Possibilities, which featured a smattering of collaborations, most famously with Death Cab front man Ben Gibbard. This one-‐time collaboration turned into a full on world-‐beating side project when the pair released Give Up as The Postal Service in 2003. The end of the Postal Service’s tour marked the end of Tamborello’s quick rise to fame and he went quiet for a while. He finally followed up with Dumb Luck in 2007, which featured a different guest vocalist on every track, as if Tamborello was auditioning people for the next Postal Service-‐esque surprise package. Unfortunately nothing on Dumb Luck reached the heights of Life Is Full Of Possibilites and Tamborello retreated and has since only released demos and reworks of older material as Dntel. Now Dntel returns with a pair of EPs; After Parties 1 and 2, which immediately set themselves apart from his previous work through the mere fact that they are entirely lacking in vocals. As the title of the EPs would suggest, his aim here is to create something for people to dance to. Every song has a beat, decorated by lightly sprinkled synths and the inclusion of unthreateningly looming reverberations, the basic ingredients of any dance track. People could easily dance to this, my doubt is as to whether people would dance to this when there is so much else similar and more importantly, better, out there. The beats are tame, the additional instrumentation is boring and insignificantly different from track to track to even tell them apart. The definition between the two EPs is almost indistinguishable, although After Parties 2 takes a slight step off the dance floor to venture more into textural electronica akin to Pantha Du Prince, and has relative success on ‘Peepsie’ and the demented funfair electronics of ‘Aimless’. However, the majority of the tracks will have listeners wondering whether Tamborello accidentally put an early, unfinished version of his tracks on; so uninteresting and lifeless are the tracks that you can’t help but feel a certain lack of inspiration went into them. It’s a sad state of affairs for an artist who started the last decade riding a vibrant wave of interesting and loveable electronic music. However, the start of this subsequent one finds Tamborello at the end of his party and sadly the only after party activity that these two new EPs are likely to soundtrack is sleep. RH
JOOLS HOLLAND AND HIS RHYTHM & BLUES ORCHESTRA – Rockinghorse [Rhino UK, 2010] Rockinghorse marks a triumphant and stomping return for Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Their first album since 2008, the record is full of variety, from rousing big-‐band ballads, to cheeky quick steps and, of course, perfect boogie-‐woogie. First off, I must admit that I am a huge Jools fan – ever since seeing him perform live some four years ago, I’ve always had a little bit of a soft spot for him. Yes, he may appear to walk backwards the majority of the time and bark out his words like an excited terrier but, Michael McIntyre jokes aside, he really is a master of his craft – technically brilliant – and his enthusiasm and love of music is infectious. In a genre that can make it easy for records to come across blasé and “easy listening”-‐esque, it is this enthusiasm which imbues Rockinghorse with confidence and personality, making it an engaging and fun – yes fun! – listen. This is helped along by some outstanding guest turns. Michael McDonald gives a smoking performance in ‘I’ve Got News for You’ – my favourite of the album – whilst Alison Moyet turns ‘The Man That Got Away’ from something that could have easily turned out quite cheesy into a passionate and heartfelt ballad, bitterness and regret dripping from every syllable. However, it is Ruby Turner that is the powerhouse of the record – lending her magical vocal talent to three of the strongest songs
(‘Roll Out Of This Hole’, ‘Remember Me’, ‘You Are So Beautiful’), fluttering effortlessly over each and every note. Nevertheless, the album is not without its faults. Although the variation – on the whole – pays off, the incredibly high standard of the majority leaves certain tracks seemingly out of place. ‘London Belongs To Me’ – featuring Essex-‐duo Chas and Dave – is the most glaringly obvious of these, whilst Rico Rodriguez’s reggae ‘What A Wonderful World’ works well in theory, though isn’t quite pulled off. Despite the odd blip however, Rockinghorse is a glorious comeback – marked out by the talent of its contributors: the guests, the orchestra and Mr. Holland himself. LD
ALBUM REVIEWS THE BLANCHE HUDSON WEEKEND -‐ Reverence, Severance and Spite [Squirrel Records, 2010]
Darren and Caroline who run Squirrel Records have been fighting the good fight for a while now. As well as releasing plenty of records, they've carved out a distinctive sound with their own bands, Pop Threat, the much lamented (by me anyway) Manhattan Love Suicides, and now The Blanche Hudson Weekend. It's an aesthetic that owes as much to Motown as it does to the Mary Chain, girl group pop songs run through a filter of noisy in-‐the-‐red guitars and with vocals buried behind shoegazing feedback. This album collects all of the BHW releases so far (three EPs) and adds a few unreleased tracks for good measure, and it's interesting to see the progression from the first (which stayed pretty close to the Manhattans' template) to the more subtle and atmospheric tracks from the later releases. One thing which sets all of Darren and Caroline's bands apart from the noise-‐pop masses is their approach to songwriting: I get the feeling the
change from most fuzz-‐pedal bedroom bores. The lyrics are also better than most, sometimes talking tough and other times sounding tired and jaded. It's often hard for this kind of stuff to have any real emotional impact but a couple of the songs here do that quite well too. Every song has something unexpected and interesting, but particular highlights are the unreleased ‘Love Vacation’, which the liner notes seem quite apologetic about but which is as good a noise pop song as I've heard in a couple of years, ‘Grip of Fear’, from the latest EP Rats in the Cellar, which sounds a bit like a female-‐fronted Galaxie 500, and the snippets of unidentified film dialogue which tie the tracks together (if anyone can identify the hilarious opening phone call on ‘Seven Days a Week Nightmare’ then please let me know). Eighteen tracks is usually pushing it with this sort of indiepop, but because of the stylistic variation this compilation flows nicely and never gets boring. So go and buy it and see them live if you can: with their past history you can never be sure how long a band like this is going to last. ES
CHRIS BROKAW & GEOFF FARINA – The Angel’s Message to Me [Damnably, 2010]
This is not an album for critics. Partly because it cleaves so tightly to a certain trope of musicianship that responses to it seem almost conditioned in advance anyway; and partly because it doesn’t require a critic, so much as a friendly pair of ears. This is not an expression of personal skill, released to the public to receive judgement; it’s an invitation to indulge in something shared and unifying. And if that sounds nauseatingly twee, then maybe Brokaw and Farina have hit upon the notion that sometimes, it’s hip to be square. The musicians’ trope at play here is that after years on the road, rockers will wipe their brow, sit down and record a homely album of acoustic numbers. These records are breathing spaces for the artists, and whilst loyal fans will invest, they are not intended to form part of the accumulated critical capital that keeps these kinds of veterans on their feet. Basically, the musician estimates when they have earned the indulgence of an album that they don’t need to slave over in writing and recording terms. I personally have no truck with the underlying concept here, that everyone must eventually take stock and tread water. Yet the way in which Brokaw and Farina have chosen to tread water does invite further comment. Both are indie stalwarts-‐ Brokaw with No Wave favourites Come and later Codeine; Farina most notably with Karate, later Glorytellers-‐ yet this collaborative sigh of relief is a collection of pre-‐war blues, ragtime and country standards, all played out on blissfully delicate, duelling acoustics and vocals that hang in the air like spiderwebs. This, then, is a more altruistic indulgence, an easter egg of a throwaway album that seeks to engage at a slightly unusual level. Whilst it’s hardly revelatory that these hardened musicians are fans of this battered and authentic pop music, The Angel’s Message does represent at attempt at a dialogue. This kind of temporary project looks to establish a conversation with the person at the other end of the headphones: here is some common vocabulary, so what do you think? Hence why this is not an album for critics and their supposed objectivity. The only adequate response to this featherweight contribution is a personal one. Well, then. Brokaw and Farina’s approach shimmers but it is monochromatic, and to my ears not all of these songs benefit. I don’t see how an epochal murder ballad like ‘Stagger Lee’ can still function in this context; the violence is no longer even inherent. Likewise, traditional lament ‘Oh Death’ loses its power as an instrumental here, the sentiment-‐ the cold sweat of mortality-‐ completely dissipated. Ralph Stanley’s a capella version is far superior. On the other hand, the bluegrass number ‘Ginseng Blues’ is sprightly and crisp on the duelling guitars, the melody dreamily delivered to belie the song’s heartache. And there will hardly be a more affecting version of ‘Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor’ recorded for some years. The dense tangle of picked guitar notes, and the open-‐air feel provides a gorgeous backing to the earthy ballad, with its refrain of ‘Make it down just behind the door/Make it sweet baby, just behind the door/Down where nobody ever goes.’ A fitting centrepiece to an album whose highs and lows comingle in a warm, inviting space. SG
ALBUM REVIEWS ALEXISONFIRE – Dog’s Blood EP [Roadrunner, 2010] Although Alexisonfire has joked in the past of softening their sound, even going so far as to say they’d start a fund to remove fan’s Alexisonfire themed tattoos when they became a free-‐jazz band, Dog’s Blood EP may be the heaviest and grimiest collection of songs they’ve released so far. The first thirty or so seconds should be sufficient to realize that this album was released as an extended play on purpose. Don’t expect the usual chorus driven anthems of angst, but do not discount it for that reason either. Dog’s Blood is the band’s exploration of a dirtier more feedback driven sound. Dallas Green only appearing briefly on the title track, and instead largely makes his presence on the EP felt through some brilliant guitar ‘soundscaping.’ The sound is simultaneously different and the same old Alexisonfire sound you would expect, almost as if they took some old songs, strapped them to their shoe soles, and went for a slogging trudge through some sludge and feedback. The title track starts things off with a thud, building itself up until the beautiful bass run halfway through, and then again to the chorus. The final two minutes are thick with dissonant chords and resonating vocal work: finally the sounds recede into low bass and screeching feedback. The next two songs follow along the same lines, dark and ‘black as jet,’ with instrumental passages, breakdowns, and some really affecting guitar work. Things Alexisonfire have always been comfortable with, but seem to have taken a different path with on this extended play. Powerful lyrics on ‘Grey’ are made all the more poignant by some of the most moving lead guitar work from the band, period. The fourth and final song, ‘Vex,’ is perhaps the most ambitious song in terms of its experimentation, blending Alexisonfire sensibilities with some strong post-‐rock influences, and stretching the reverberating and soaring instrumental on for a full six minutes. The song really shines through for its divergence. Despite the experimental nature of the EP, a caustic cohesion prevails among the tracks, and some new sounds that could be effectively explored for the next album. ‘Dog’s Blood’ is immediately notable for its familiarity, but with a few listens, it becomes increasingly difficult to pick a stand out track. I for one am expecting the next album to be an interesting departure. In Dog’s Blood, howls heard from miles around, definitely not an EP to pass up! LL
ALTER BRIDGE – AB III [Roadrunner, 2010]
Alter Bridge’s third album, the logically titled AB III, sees the band inject some morose tonality in to their hard rock sound, presumably as a result of the apparently “dark” nature of the album’s concept. AB III shows the band indulging their more metallic side frequently, with opener ‘Slip In To The Void’ straddling a surprisingly well-‐executed line between groove-‐metal and melodic rock. That’s not to say everything is blisteringly heavy -‐ after all, this is Alter Bridge. Whilst the album doesn’t quite keep up the intensity with which it starts, the songs remain hard hitting and rarely dip in quality. ‘All Hope Is Gone’ is a slowed rocker with a bizarrely Celtic vibe, whereas album highlight, ‘Make It Right’, provides a mix of rock-‐balladry and Jimmy Page styled guitar twanging. The band are clearly focussed on getting the balance between melody and heaviness just right, but this occasionally results in tracks suffering from split personality. ‘Ghost of the Days Gone By’ fleets between delicate verses and power-‐chord driven choruses, before departing in to an almost Pantera-‐esque breakdown that proves ever so slightly jarring. Conversely, ‘Isolation’ and ‘I Know It Hurts’ see Alter Bridge achieving their goal of balance more succinctly, with the heavy riffage brilliantly juxtaposed by the soaring vocals of Myles Kennedy. Indeed, Kennedy’s voice is perfect for accentuating the melody hidden behind the crunching guitars. AB III is certainly quite a far cry from the band’s earlier material. I’ve always been rather on the fence about A lter Bridge, but AB III seems to cement the band as one worthy of attention. Whilst the album can drag on a bit, it’s primarily an example of strong, modern day rock and roll. At the very least, it’s deserves a good few listens from anyone who has ever wanted unfashionably long hair. SK
LIVE REVIEWS unbelievably under rehearsed, which was later revealed true Flylo stating, “we have only practiced together for about 20 minutes”. Now I’m all for experimentation and improvisation but not in front of a paying crowd at your only London show! Thankfully just when I was thinking it could only get better; it did! Flying Lotus stopped taking the back seat, and started pumping out some of the awesome synth sounds he’s best known for. Dorian Concept looked a bit confused at this point, sticking around only to try even Flying Lotus; arguably one of the most more miserably to play something over the top, before experimental people in music at the moment. What’s not finally leaving the stage. About time too. to like, I’m excited. Having been the highlight of my Once Flying Lotus took to the stage and started bestival, blowing the roof off the big top stage, I was putting on the kind of show he’s famous for it went off, looking forward to checking him out tonight in the more the crowd instantly got into it, everyone connected with intimate setting of Mornington crescents KOKO. what was happening on the stage where beforehand Arriving into the venue around 8ish it was some of the crowd were starting to look a bit already about a quarter full, filling up to almost full by disinterested. Suddenly hands were in the air, people the time the first support came on, such is the reputation were dancing and having a good time. Flylo himself too of Mr Lotus as an influential selector, who in their right looked like he was having way more fun, looking up at minds would want to miss his choice of support for the the crowd more and generally increasing the level of evening..? This support came in the form of Harmonic interaction. 313 with releases on labels such as the ever influential The change was remarkable, it was essentially hyperdub and warp records, and the backing of Fly Lo, I two different sets, were it not for the fact that we was expecting this to be huge. It wasn’t! Don’t get me overheard two girls talking about how the first half was wrong it was a very good set put together by someone “Much better” I would try to claim that it was all a bit who is obviously a very competent DJ, but that’s about it. self indulgent for those first 40 mins, but evidently some The personal highlight for me was when he dropped people did enjoy it. Apollo 9 by Jo. I can’t tell you which songs were played, Flying By the end of his set the venue was rammed, the Lotus live isn’t about that kind of experience, every now anticipation of the crowd was evident in the amount of and then you catch 30 seconds of a crowd favorite like people pushing forwards and conversely in the people tea leaf dancers, and everyone goes crazy, but really it’s getting irritated by this. The crowd was so diverse that all about sounds, and the emotions they conjure up. it’s hardly surprising that in the build up to Flylo taking to A trademark of Flying Lotus (read something he the stage there was some tension between the different did the only other time I saw him) is his reticence to groups. The stoned hippies, the hipsters, people here to leave the stage. At bestival they had to cut the power to dance, some to stand and listen. get him to leave! This wasn’t quite on that level but he As soon as flying lotus took to the stage however ran over a fair while, by repeatedly promising the sound all these differences were united, a harmony swept the man he had just one more song, before playing another room if you will, everyone united by one common love. 10 mins. Whilst its awesome to see an artist soo in to Tonight Flying Lotus was billed as a “unique live show”. what he’s doing it kinda just made me think that I wish Essentially this meant he was joined by Dorian Concept he’d cut all the crap at the start and played the whole on keys and Richard Spaven on drums. The drummer was show the same way as the second half, which would great, no issues there at all. It was the inclusion of Dorian have made it AMAZING, rather than just good. Concept which I’ll take issue with. When Flying Lotus and his synths and electronics Initially it was great Flylo was doing his thing, came to the fore there was nowhere else I’d rather have Spaven was bashing away on drums, Dorian was adding been on a cold wet Tuesday night, when they we’re his own style of keyboard jazz styling’s over the top. doing all their experimental jazz stuff I would much Pretty soon though Dorian Concept really started to get rather have been on a dingy floating out to see in a on my nerves, it was like he was there purely to play bad thunder storm! improv over everything else that was going on. This went The moral of the story friends is this; You need on probably for the best part of 40 mins, although by the Flying Lotus in your life, he’s one of the most influential end it felt like forever and as much as I’m loath to admit men in music at the moment, and rightly so. Just check it I was kinda waiting for the gig to finish so that we the poster before you buy tickets to make sure it’s not a could leave. YES it really was that bad. It sounded “unique live show”. TRS
Flying Lotus, 26.10.10 @ Koko
LIVE REVIEWS El Guincho, 04.11.10 @ Cargo
Upon entering Cargo for the night’s entertainment – a show put on by hipsters’ favourite Spaniard El Guincho – it was evident that there was a significant Spanish population amongst the crowd. This European influence continued on the stage where Porcelain Raft - a single Italian named Mauro Remiddi -‐ warmed the crowd up substantially. Armed with his guitar and accompanied by a drum machine, he played a brand of dream pop akin to Deerhunter’s recent output. Although he couldn’t quite reach the amount of depth or layering of the Atlanta band he did have a good try at reaching their volume; each harsh beat on the drum machine rattling off the walls until the thunderous guitar came in and blanketed the beats in dreamy metallic resonance. The passion on Mauro’s face was evident throughout especially when taking a time out from the louder numbers to sing a ballad which culminated in the repetition of the phrase “you are all fools.” Pablo Diaz-‐Reixa, better known as El Guincho took to the stage shortly after , looking less like the ultra-‐cool beat producer than you’d expect and more like a Spanish schoolboy; smart polo shirt tucked into sensibly fitting trousers accompanied by cleanish white converse shoes. Flanked on either side by a bassist and guitarist neither of whom looked particularly flamboyant; it was a wonder where the excitement was going to come from. The trio started with ‘Kalise’ and the vocal build up into the track left the crowd on edge; “is this really going to work?” But all concerns were soon vanquished as Diaz-‐Reixa picked up his trusty drumstick for the first time that night and
Fight Like Apes, 18.10.10 @ The Bull and Gate
dropped the first beat; the energy onstage instantly quadrupling and this was met in return with equal measure of excitement and energy from the crowd. All I can say is this; Pable Diaz-‐ Reixa must have some serious muscles in his right arm as he did not stop beating his drum-‐pad throughout the night; like the puppet master he commanded the beat with his right arm and called the tune on his keyboard with his left. The crowd were powerless to resist, not that any of them would have chosen to if they could. Playing heavily from his new album Pop Negro the highlights included ‘Bombay’, ‘Ghetto Facil’, and the magnificent ‘Soca Del Eclipse’. Towards the end he dropped in a few more from breakthrough album Alegranza! to the crowd’s delight, and it was ‘Antillas’ from that album which was played as the encore and will forever rest in my memory as one of the most fun live music experiences of my life. From the first beat drop of the song the whole crowd without exception from front to back were jumping around in time. Diaz-‐Reixa and co. extended the song, dropping the beat several times over and each time the madness in the crowd was rejuvenated. For that short space of time with the high Spanish contingent, the festival feel and the heat in that room made me feel as though I had been transported to a small bar hidden in Las Ramblas of Barcelona where an all night fiesta was taking place. It was a shame that it had to end so soon. On the night the steel drum sounds may have been synthesized and the lyrics of the songs may have made no sense to me but emanating from the stage and reverberating around the room was a real unmistakeable Spanish passion that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. RH
Clad in matching tracksuits, tissue bandanas and duct tape, the earnest faces of Fight Like Apes come onto stage. Indulging in an opener of melodramatic trumpet synths with washes of cymbals and lush bass, you could be forgiven for thinking this was another “next big thing” indie act whose sophomore album had just achieved dismal heights of pretension. But as a soft beat drops in, Pockets begins to comically exaggerate every note on his keys with exuberant movements and bassist Tom Ryan shifts his feet around in odd contortions. Smiles break out in the audience as doubt subsides and impressions become clearer. Trying anything but to be taken seriously, Fight Like Apes are the anti-‐pop of synth-‐pop and the counterculture to the dreaded NME kids. Imbuing their performance with the same energy and good humour as their music, their senseless and uncensored capers on stage are really a show in themselves. A typical up-‐beat bass and drum crashes in and lead vocalist May Kay collapses on stage, defiantly spitting her drink into the air. As the drummer goes into a frenzy she starts to dance in intense convulsions. Her banshee aesthetic and abrasive screams (a la Pixies) are often known to strike simultaneous fear and attraction into the hearts of listeners. With an amused smirk, she peers down on some of the misguided moshers and asks if the kids are done playing yet. Moreover, all keyboardists could take a lesson from Pockets, whose key fury makes even major chord mashing and two tone melodies as transfixing as elaborate piano concertos. But beyond their stage presence, it’s rare that bands can also be lauded for a strong ‘crowd
LIVE REVIEWS presence’. At the height of their randomness, Pockets cracks out a ladder, takes it to the floor, climbs up it, and proceeds to bang plastic crates together with May Kay in the song’s build up. In her other exploits off stage May Kay was either dealing with the irritating ruffians in the crowd or was yanking heads over to the mic to shout into it with her. Unprecedented banter with the crowd keeps things suitably casual between songs. Screw ups that are just plain embarrassing for most bands just become another part of this. The awkwardness when your guitarist cuts out and frantically checks his cables was replaced by a running joke made from Tom’s pleadings with sound engineer. Similarly, forgetting to bring the crucial sample for the song everyone was waiting for wouldn’t have been so pleasing if not for their half-‐forgot live reconstruction of the monologue and its sarcastic addition “I don’t think they noticed”. It’s refreshing to see a band that’s not afraid to break the fourth wall. After professing to having played their “last song” they return for the conventional and near-‐tedious encore routine, but on reaching the mic May Kay lets slip “we were only joking anyway.” Some bands are live acts first and records second, while others can struggle to muster the energy to make anything interesting out of what’s already laid down. By merit of nothing but their own efforts, Fight Like Apes have made it to the best end of that spectrum. OF
Baths, 15.11.10 @ CAMP Basement D/R/U/G/S aren’t really a dance act at all. You can dance to them, and they use synthesizers and samplers, but they’re too progressive for that term. Their explorative electronica has its roots in house music, gradually shifting between phases and moods rather than stopping and starting completely different tracks. There are times when a hook will stand out, a beat will dominate the low-‐end or a spoken word sample will float around, creepy and twisted, but you don’t need to listen too hard for something to hang onto in their hazy psychedelic canvas – D/R/U/G/S will draw you in. Another emerging electronic musician, Becoming Real has – like D/R/U/G/S – realised the potential some of dubstep’s sounds have for being used in a different context. There are no heavy or wobbly drops, but instead dark, urban sounds evolve constantly with shuffled rhythms. Toby Ridler is an active stage presence, alternating between two laptops on either side of his setup and an array of dials in between. When he strikes a groove you can tell he’s enjoying the reaction it gets, and he crafts moments of unsettling joy. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of thought behind the sound, and unsurprising that the desolate in-‐between spaces in and around London provide much of the inspiration. What is quite frightening though, is how someone at this stage can get the atmosphere he wants to create so spot on. Will Wiesenfeld has been one of the most talked about new artists of the year. Having made upbeat, glitch dance music in his bedroom for several years, it’s as Baths that he’s finally brought it out into the world. When he comes to the stage, the 21-‐year-‐old pretty much admits that he’s still coming to terms with his success, and finds it quite terrifying to play to rooms as crowded as this. Regardless, the music is just as endearing as its maker, and his obvious excitement at playing to such an enthusiastic venue makes his performance so much more enjoyable. He sticks mainly
to the songs from recent debut Cerulean, going falsetto when he needs to and relying on mixers and samples when he doesn’t. ‘Indoorsy’ is an early standout, with its distorted, dreamy vocals and highly-‐strung beats, while with the brilliant ‘Maximalist’ he really shows off his skills in production and MPD-‐tapping. He also plays a new song that might be hinting at a future release based on heavier, sparser repetitions, but that’s all he’s giving away for now. Though certain songs stand out above the rest, the overall feeling is completely uplifting, and there’s barely any space to breathe. Will seems to want to join in with the dancing at one point, and tries to lead everyone from the stage. Moments later he dedicates ‘Hall’,
Cerulean’s emotional closer to “all the gay guys. What’s up gay guys?” Though not met with as loud a response as he might’ve liked, it’s by far the most beautiful song played tonight. Looking so shocked at the encore shouts at the end of an understandably lean set, you’d think he wasn’t prepared for one, but luckily he’s held back the cutesy ‘Animals’, which he plays with his best impersonation of a lion. JB
Titus Andronicus are a band renowned for their punk music. We wanted to find out if this same attitude was present in more than just their music. Under City Lights caught up with them at The Scala to chat ethics, student politics and music.
+ + + Hey Patrick, how’s the tour going? It’s been a great tour, probably the most enjoyable on of England yet. We’ve had some bigger audiences than we’re generally used to over here and we’ve had the hospitality from a lot of nice people that have invited us over to their houses afterwards. We’ve made a ton of nice friends. So yeah, it’s been really nice… apart from the cold. This has also being the coldest tour we’ve ever done. Even colder than back in the US? Dude, it’s cold. I think it’s colder. I don’t even remember any other weather. You mentioned sleeping on people’s floors, how’s that been going? It’s nice. Most of the time we end up staying up till some obscene hour, talking, laughing and learning about English culture. I’ve learned the most valuable lesson though is that people are all the same wherever you go … all assholes.. . JOKE. You sound like a really positive guy Patrick, but your lyrics are sometimes really bleak. Well you know, if I didn’t have the outlet for the bleakness, how could I maintain positivity? So it’s some sort of catharsis then? Well I dunno. There are good days and bad, as with anyone. Walt Whitman says that “contain multitudes” right? So you can try and find good in the world even though you know there’s great evil. You’ve got to try and take the bad with the good. Though the bad is usually worse than the good is good. Also, how could I not be feeling up right now when the seminal UK punk band Television Personalities are supporting us?
How did that come about? Well I would never have thought of it. In my mind they should be headlining stadiums. But Texas Bob, their guitar player, friended me on facebook and asked if they could support at our London show. It’s really happening, it’s surreal. It was kinda fortunate ‘cause we were meant to be doing this tour with Let’s Wrestle, but they had to pull out. How about Mazes, do you know them at all? Yeah, they were supposed to support us in Manchester but they pulled out as well! We actually met their singer the first time we played in Manchester 2 years ago, and he gave us their cassette and we’ve treasured it ever since. Sadly, they couldn’t make it, for one reason or another. You’ve got them here at least? THEY’RE PLAYING TONIGHT?! Oh shit. That’s great news. Wow, what a great show. Sweet. Sure. Can we just talk about your latest record, The Monitor. What’s the back-‐story to it? Well it’s about the theme of disunion and organisations, communities and relationships that
are supposed to have a certain amount of solidarity but actually don’t. We just end up pitting one against another. It all just seems to me that it’s just people trying pass the buck for their own happiness or unhappiness, trying to define themselves in relation to one another rather than trying to define yourself, positively. From that, the Civil War is an extended metaphor, seen as that was the largest occurrence of that in American history. The confederacy vs. the Union, that was pretty disharmonious. Though it’s pretty much just a different set of clothes on the set of problems we have today. You know what I’m saying? It’s also about me moving to Boston, which I did a couple of years ago, but then having to move back. It’s about all these things and more. What sort of musical influences did you have whilst making the record? Well, The Television Personalities, you know. Big Country was another big one. They’re a Scottish band from the 80s. We listened to a lot of Trail Of Dead and Fucked Up in the studio.
But you seem to get lumped into a lot of indie-‐type stuff on sites like Pitchfork. Do you feel like you identify with any of that really? Well I identify with plenty of it, and listen to it, but nobody likes being put in a box. It’s cool though. I guess we’re an indie rock band, to the extent that there is such a thing. How about on the tour, what do you think of the bands that are supporting you? There’s been some awesome bands. In Bristol we had Bravo Brave Bats, they were really an awesome band. They kinda sounded like McClucsky or something. The other night in Newcastle we played with this band called Oh Messy Life, they were really great too. They kinda sounded like The Mekons or Neutral Milk Hotel, but more 90s alt rock or something. How about in the US? Well we just did a tour with Free Energy and we really liked those guys. You should also check out a band called Spider Bags, they’re pretty much the best American band. There’s also this great Baltimore band called Double Dagger. They’re a cool 3 piece punk band. Also check out my man Andrew Cedermark who used to play guitar in Titus Andronicus. He just put out his own record that’s really awesome. Me, Andrew and Martin from Real Estate used to be in a band called Library of Congress at college, but at the end of first year they both transferred to other colleges. Thusly, Titus Andronicus was born. Talking of sleeping on floors, you seem to be quite into the DIY ethos as a band. Is that true? Yeah, sure. I mean, we have to be reluctant to say yes, because there are a lot of things we don’t do ourselves, and there are lots of bands that are more DIY than we are. However it is important for us to break the fourth wall a little bit and demonstrate that we’re regular folks, who just happen to be in a band. We did one tour over here where we just stayed in hotels cos we were scared. It was just really depressing, everyday just felt the same. It was just too sterile and inhuman. And you know we have to keep the overhead down cos it’s expensive to come over here. We can barely afford the plane tickets let alone the hotels without going into debt. I will say that these English are notoriously cheap with their fees… Like really stingy motherfuckers most of the time. Compared to mainland Europe,
you guys are real tightwads… FYI. But it’s cool, it’s just funny money. I reckon we might just break even on this tour for the first time. What’s the plan for after the tour finishes, what are you up to then? Not really any real plans. We won’t be going out on the road again till springtime. Probably just rehearse and learn some new songs, hang out and kinda take it easy. Mostly just refamiliarise ourselves with our civilian lives, spend time with loved ones, sleep in, eat food that’s not from a gas station.
You’re missing Thanksgiving today. Yeah, that’s true. I’ve still got a lot to be thankful for though, like the Television Personalities! Definitely better than a turkey. We were wondering whether the band has any sort of philosophy? You’ve mentioned about the positive/negative balance and you’ve referenced writers such as Albert Camus in songs. Yes, we are a punk band. Sure, we’ve got plenty of philosophies, but I guess the big one is that life in an absurd universe causes people to be mean, and people being mean makes me sad. We were looking at [guitarist] Amy’s blog the other day and saw that she used to be in Riot Grrl bands. Do you guys still stand for those causes? Sure, she’s still a feminist, I hope she never gives up. Caring about people, that’s all that is. Just treating people decently, that’s the only ideology worth its salt. Just treat them like how you’d like to be treated. I mean it’s an old line but it’s still the truth. Old and cliché as it is, we humans still haven’t
figured out how to implement it on any useful scale. But hey, what are you gonna do? Thanks Patrick, good luck with the gig. ES + DA What are your feelings about US politics in general? I don’t concern myself with that stuff. They’re all a bunch of liars and swindlers what ever side of the stupid aisle they’re on. I’m much more concerned with the stuff that’s going on on the ground. People that I can relate to, from one human to another. That’s where I think where people can do the most good. Sure. In the UK at the moment many people have become disillusioned over the Liberal Democrats [Explains tuition fees and university story]. A group of students at our university UCL, have occupied one of the main rooms in protest. Do you have any messages for them? I’m always happy to see the kids getting excited, but it sucks that it’s about money. There are a lot more important things in this world than money. It’s a good start though. I dunno, money… fuck it, but I like that they’re excited and standing up for themselves. It is bad that they’re trying to take all your money, that does suck. If it was about something other than money, I could be a little more excited, but I’m still pretty excited. Usually in America, you couldn’t get students to protest fucking anything, unless you took their Twitter away. It’s sad, but that’s the world in which we live in; ain’t that right boys? I say good luck to those students and get what they’re after, remember how good it felt to stand up for themselves and maybe they can continue to stand up for what they believe in in the future. Hopefully they won’t just get their money back and go on to being fat and lazy like the people who used to protest all the time in America. We’ll see. It’s not for me to judge even though I just did. Finally, on a lighter note, I saw you had a little funny video about Kanye West on your blog. Did you guys make that yourselves? Oh, thank you. Yeah, me and Eric, the drummer, made that. We were just staying up one night thinking about Kanye and we just hopped on the computer in a couple hours. We all really like the new record and have been listening to it a lot. He’s funny, and always keeping things interesting. He believes in himself, a lot, which is a rare thing. He dares to be great. It’s always nice to see.
STORNOWAY After a hectic year of touring, Stornoway returned to the capital for one late night before they head over stateside. Under City Lights caught up with them for a chat before their gig at Shepherds Bush Empire. You guys have been touring for a while now, how do you prepare for live shows? Oli: We like to play hacky sack before a show, and lots of stretching as well. Rob: We started our own yoga class, and it actually felt really really good, better than if we hadn’t. Do you have any memorable gigs from the tour? Rob: Birmingham was very memorable for me. My best friend was at that gig, and well I was going to go to Birmingham Uni but I’m not anymore. It was the first gig of the tour so it was a bit of a scary one but the audience were really nice, singing along to lots of the songs. It was a very good atmosphere. You’re off to America soon. Have you been touring there before? Oli: We went to New York in July, which was really fun. And surprisingly there were loads of people there who knew all the words to our songs, and some had travelled a long way to see us. Hopefully this time we will have an even more established audience there.
You guys have been touring for a while now, how do you prepare for live shows? Oli: We like to play hacky sack before a show, and lots of stretching as well. Rob: We started our own yoga class, and it actually felt really really good, better than if we hadn’t. Do you have any memorable gigs from the tour? Rob: Birmingham was very memorable for me. My best friend was at that gig, and well I was going to go to Birmingham Uni but I’m not anymore. It was the first gig of the tour so it was a bit of a scary one but the audience were really nice, singing along to lots of the songs. It was a very good atmosphere. You’re off to America soon. Have you been touring there before? Oli: We went to New York in July, which was really fun. And surprisingly there were loads of people there who knew all the words to our songs, and some had travelled a long way to see us. Hopefully this time we will have an even more established audience there. You did the festival circuit this summer playing the big ones like Glastonbury, and the smaller ones like Summer Sundae. Do you prefer the larger festivals or the more intimate environment of small ones? Rob: Well we really like a sort of intimate atmosphere, small crowds and small gigs. But definitely playing at the big ones like Glastonbury, the second year we went, was amazing because that was the biggest crowd we’ve played so far at the Park Stage. Yeah, both of them have really good atmospheres. Oli: The thing that illustrated, for me, the difference really well was at Glastonbury we played the park Stage at about 5 in the afternoon to about 8000 people, which was really fun and exhilarating but also nerve wracking and we had some technical issues. Later on, about an hour later, we played up the hill in an unplugged tent to about 60 people and that was what I preferred, the smaller venue. There’s a more individual importance. Your album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, focuses on nature and the outdoors. Is this a theme you think you’ll stick with? Rob: Well that theme mostly comes from [lead singer] Brian. During his childhood he spent a lot of time in Ireland with his family by the beach, and he just loves the outdoors. He studied Zoology and Ornithology at university, so a lot of it comes from him. We’ve been described as nature kids before, which is quite a weird title but whether that carries on or not I don’t know. For future albums or EPs we definitely want to try some new stuff. Is there a new album in the works? Rob: Ideas, but nothing more. I suppose we still want more and more people to hear this first one, even though that had been in the works for 10 years before we released it. We’re playing one new track tonight, lots of ideas. The band is named after a small Scottish town, and you played there this year. How did the crowd react, and was there pressure to do the name proud? Oli: They were surprisingly friendly. I think part of it was just the fact that we were named after their town. I like to think that if we’d just turned up playing, I don’t know, quite generic indie rock and called ourselves Stornoway they wouldn’t have liked that. Instead they heard our music, which I think suits the landscape really well, and the kind of desolation of the island. The music is open to interpretation, so we didn’t steal their name and try to apply meaning to it. We just kind of used it almost like a faceless way to describe the music, but not imposing a meaning on it. I think they appreciated the openness of the ideas. Rob: We also supplied them with a lot of whiskey.
Do you think you’ll be back? Rob: Definitely, really love it. It’s a beautiful place. They don’t have any bigger venues but I’d really like to play the same venue again, the Woodland Centre. It had glass from floor to ceiling, and wood panelling, and really nice acoustics. Yeah, we’d definitely like to go there again. The band started when you were all still at uni. Do you have any advice for bands at UCL about juggling work and their music? Oli: Well, for me personally, I think the more time you can spend practising an instrument the better, so the time I spent at university was time away from my instrument and I feel like unfortunately it was time that didn’t contribute much to my music. I now think that most of my time could have been better spent. Although I got a degree out of it you have to weigh up the importance of the degree and the music. My advice would be to try to make as much time as possible, and be efficient, and get at least an hour’s practise or writing or just think about music everyday, so you don’t lost touch with the whole idea. Rob: And listen to more and more different types of music. It happens to me a few times when I’m listening to a completely new band that someone’s recommended and I hear an instrument that I never thought of playing, that kind of thing where it inspires you to pick it up and learn it. Oli: I think there’s a lot of dead time at university, where I occasionally would just sleep when I shouldn’t have slept, or go to the library and not actually do anything, or sit on a bus for ages just chatting to my friends. And those times are the times, with technology today, where you can pull out a laptop with some program and then just do a remix, or make an instrument or investigate some kind of idea, just using the dead hour in between study. You mentioned picking up new instruments. Do you have a particular instrument that’s your favourite that you play? Oli: I’m trying to improve on the double bass as much as possible. On this tour the double bass split open and we had to get it fixed. I basically had to put it down after a song and it was tangled around in a wire, fell off the stage and into the crowd. Luckily someone passed it back but it was in two pieces. Rob: I’ve been learning to play the saw on this tour to play on one of the tracks because of the lack of a Theremin but it’s becoming one of my favourite instruments to play. You get lots of varied sounds. Well thank you very much for chatting to me, and good luck with the saw and the rest of the show tonight! AW
BILLY BRAGG What do you think of the rise in tuition fees and education cuts being put forward by the government? Well, I’m sorry that the Labour party brought it in. But when they brought it in, it was their way of spreading the burden around a bit. You can see the reasoning behind it. What the Torys and Lib Dems are doing is completely the opposite. It’s taking the burden of costs from the financial crisis and passing around society; amongst the powerless, the poor, the young, the old, the people who can’t defend themselves. I think we all need to step up to support the students, support the homeless, support the disabled, and ensure that the people who cause these problems, the financial markets, are the people who take the strain. You mentioned labour being the people who brought in these fees in the first place, and you’ve publically supported them in the past. What do you think their move should be? I think their move should be to define themselves against the coalition. I think one of the problems we have in our politics is the amount of disenfranchisement that goes on, because the three main political parties cover the same ground. I’ve been around at the Coalition of Resistance first conference today. They just put forward a series of demands against the cuts. 25 years ago, the labour party would of put out that sort of statement. Now the labour party don’t seem to be there anymore. I know they’re in a moment of transition at the moment but I want them to see them taking on the issue of cuts and make sure they just don’t react against the government’s agenda. One last quick question. Do you have any messages for the student occupiers as well as the larger general student population? Yeah. Just remember that nothing really changes unless people organise. Whatever your politics and backgrounds are, you’ve got to organise. Then once you students have organised you’ve got to join up with other people in society. You’ve got to join up with the trade unions, the public sector workers, the unemployed and those people who are trying to make a difference. You’ve got to organise. DA
MINI HYPE RH
Mauro Remiddi, under the name Porcelain Raft, is a solo Italian residing in London, who makes music of the recently revived dream pop genre, but with a cynical twist. Although he makes his music in his bedroom, it is ideal for playing loudly in large rooms packed with forward-‐thinking indie heads. His music is available free on his bandcamp. http://porcelainraft.bandcamp.com/
STILL CORNERS If you took a vinyl copy of Nico’s Chelsea Girl and played it very loudly from the bottom of a well, you’d be getting close to the sound this band aims for. Rachel Goswell’s femme-‐fatale vocals pierce the dense and cavernous instrumentation provided by the stoic band that backs her. This combination of 70s alternative pop and contemporary atmospheric rock will tease your mind for days. http://stillcorners.bandcamp.com
DEAD RAT ORCHESTRA Whilst many bands’ sounds could be described as “haunting” not many could be said to be genuinely scary. Dead Rat Orchestra, however, are exactly that. Their brand of post-‐rock is built mainly around lachrymose violins, sparse drums and eerie atmospheric sounds. When they also add vocals which sound like they’re being emitted from dying men, or even The Angel Of Death himself, you’re going to want to hide, but simultaneously listen in to this band’s perverse beauty. http://deadratorchestra.bandcamp.com