ISSUE 01 November 2010
YEASAYER PETER BRODERICK INTERVIEWS M USIC Peter CYEASAYER OLUMNISTS Broderik Reflection SINGLE,For LIVEA&Minor ALBUM REVIEWS
Editorial Welcome to the new issue on Under City Lights, the official Rare FM ‘zine. Enjoy. We’re kicking off this year with a feature interview with Yeasayer, who released one of our favourite albums of the year. There are also plenty of reviews and interviews from the likes of Peter Broderick, Sufjan Stevens and the inimitable Die Antwoord. Making its debut in this issue is our columns section from some of the best young music writers in London, out for betterment of your musical education. London is one of the world’s best cities to live in for any music fan. 100’s of venues, club nights, parties and bands. Those of you who are new to university may have already attempted made those first few forays into London’s confusing underbelly. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a directory of pretty much every London venue we can think of. So grab your flatmate and head on out, be you a dickhead [sic], twee gal or disco diva. London is fucking awesome. DA
Rare FM Schedule
Editors Dasal Abayaratne (editor in chief) Rob Hakimian (copy editor) Simon Tanner (design) Contrtibutors Margaret Bennet Holly Bidgood Ruby Buckley Oliver Frost Sam Goff
Chase Jackson Edwin Shaw Mark Smith Oliver Smith Roger Stabbins
Pick of the Pops with the Frau 2007’s collaboration with the Cardigans (You’re Love Alone is Not Enough) – the boys have done themselves proud with this one... RB
an Editors-shaped hole, Chapel Club are like a breath of fresh air in-between the 80s nostalgia and mass of American-auto-tune with their release Eastern Girls. It’s forward thinking guitar music and rather delightful in its Morrissey-esque nonchalance. ‘This is a love song’ they sing, a n d music snobs everywhere w i l l appreciate the nod to Public Image Limited... Tinie Tempah! (sic) is all over the charts like fake tan smothered over David Dickinson. Well done Tinie. One may like to bemoan here the death of grime as a credible urban movement, but Dizzy Rascal shot the scene in the foot when he released a track with Calvin bloody Harris.... innit! Back to the music however; the singles, over produced they may be, but they sure get the toes tapping... What is going on with fauxFrench in the charts recently? Firstly Marc Ronson (lovin’ the silver hair, honey) is singing ‘je te plumerais’ with The Business Intl. Now we have the nation’s favourite Geordie hacking away at the language of love, referencing the exact same French folk song ‘Alouette’ in Promise This. Ronson wins this round by the shear fact of having written the music himself. Sorry Cheryl,
The Old Grey Whistle Test but merci buckets for the topnotch pop performance though! How far Rihanna has come from the days of Pon de Replay! Only Girl (In the World) is ticking all the boxes with its euphoric keyboards and Ibiza-style ‘drop’. Is there a safety limit to the amount of times one can listen to a song? Talk about an ear worm! Well done RiRi, much better than that awful one you did with Eminem. Rounding this up with a touch of class, Manic Street Preachers are on form with (It’s Not War) Just the End of Love. The Boys from the Valleys have served up their share of shite of late, but this lead single off the latest album Postcards From a Young Man is quintessential post-Richie Edwards pop perfection; screaming guitar solo, soaring orchestral melodies and Bradfield’s distinctive vocals. A wonderfully catchy single akin to
I remember when Top Of The Pops was cancelled, however long ago it was now, and the feeling of what a shame it was: a pity that the most popular forum for 'live' broadcasting by performers in the flesh should be taken off the air; more a pity that it should have been full of such utter rubbish in the first place. Shortly afterwards, DVDs appeared in daily life, and with it came a gradual trickle of DVDs as Christmas presents and the like, in which I found what I had always wished existed: The Old Grey Whistle Test. Here could be found a collection of live performances from the leading alternative - if you will - musicians: musicians with talent, with soul, and with beards. The program quickly became a personal favourite, not least because I was suddenly able to see the flesh and blood attached to the voices and sounds I had grown up listening to; I felt that personal, nostalgic attraction
to this world of real music, despite having been brought into the world nineteen years after the first series was aired. The Whistle Test happened in a small BBC studio with, at just under ten meters by seven, just enough room for a couple of cameras, no audience, and a softly-spoken, bearded presenter named Bob Harris. The name, according to Harris, came from an old 'tin-pan alley' phrase: the first pressing of a record would be played to the doormen in grey suits, known as Old Greys, and the ones they were able to remember and whistle after just one or two listens has passed the Old Grey Whistle Test. The whole set-up was wonderfully modest (although, true, there were a few bizarre outfits, such as Alice Cooper in black make-up and lycra, and the New York Dolls playing in full women's clothing complete with high heels). With honesty and a very low budget the program awarded a voice to those artists who were perhaps too low down on the record company's list of priorities to be publicised in a lavish, costumed music video; here could be seen, perhaps for the first time by most viewers, more elusive musicians such as the likes of Tim Buckley, whose performance of 'Dolphins' in 1974 remains one of the most simple and heartfelt I have seen. There can even be found a young Elton John in the same year, complete with sparkly jacket and silly pink glasses, playing 'Tiny Dancer' in the empty studio: just a man and a piano. The program ran for seventeen years and, as we shall see, the BBC even managed to embrace punk… HB
Rob’s Video Spotlight
The National – “Terrible Love” - http://bit.ly/UCLzine_1 Videos made from backstage and live tour clips can seem lazy and are often boring, but The National’s new video for “Terrible Love” is an exception. Known for their gloomy sound and often depressing lyrics, this video cuts a stark contrast to the image they portray in their music. The clips alter between funny and inspiring; you’ll find yourself chuckling when you see the band looking serious whilst playing in front of passport checkin at an airport then you’ll find your heart swelling with pride as you see the band triumphantly play an Obama rally in front of the American flag (yes this video and band will make you feel American). Die Antwoord – “Evil Boy” –
Evil Boy - Video http://bit.ly/UCLzine_2 Becoming an overnight success has only changed Die Antwoord in one way; it gives them more money to screw around with. This is apparent and quite literally true; in their new erection-tastic video for “Evil Boy” we see the trio dancing around to the beat of their new tune amidst dancers, an expensive-looking rotating graffiti’d set and monsters in various incarnations (a nipple-less female definitely falls under this last category). In fact it seems they spent so much money on everything else that they couldn’t afford to clothe two of their members, so they prance around in nothing but underwear. Unfortunately the only member whom we might actually want to see in their underwear, Yolandi Vi$$er, is in a huge fur coat. We’ll have to get our kicks from
watching the two guys’ boners practically burst out from their boxers. Actually at one point Yolandi does go topless, only to reveal a pair of eyes where her nipples should be. Add it to the extremely long list of WTF!? moments that culminates with the final shot of a rotating wooden carving of smurf-like creature with an erect penis that extends further than the length of its body. Who Dat - Video
Cole – “Who Dat” http://bit.ly/UCLzine_3 J. Cole’s first video and the perfect way to make a mark upon a scene that of late can be all too familiar, the video for “Who Dat” is shot in one continuous take and is a testament to what good planning, choreography and originality can produce. The camera follows Cole as he works his way through the burntout town of Fayetteville. As he proceeds he’s joined by a gang of supporters, some cheerleaders and a marching band who all stick to their cues perfectly. Further on down the road we have fires and exploding cars but none of this distracts J. Cole who at the forefront of it all is continuing his flow with a cool precision and confidence of a pro (or possibly of a man who knows he only has enough budget for one take). By the final shot of J. Cole leaving Fayetteville heroically down the train line as the music fades you feel you can’t help yourself but salute the man and all those involved on a job extremely well done. RH
REVIEWS SINGLES PANDA BEAR – Tomboy/Slow
Motion 7” [Paw Tracks, 2010] After a heavy three years, Panda Bear (AKA Noah Lennox of Animal Collective) returns with this super limited 7", each track taken from the future LP ‘Tomboy’. A lot of the sounds on both tracks are down to Noah utilising his sampling machines further. Previously these had been reserved mostly for obscure sounds to add a psychedelic effect, but here it appears they have been used to piece together drum patterns in a more inventive way. As a result the beats provide a much more fundamental part of the songs compared to previous works such as “Comfy In Nautica”, where the percussion sat much lower in the mix. The weird effects are still present though, but are used in short bursts, giving a much more stripped down feel to the record. As a result this single feels a lot less euphoric than some of Noah's other works, but I think this makes the tracks feel more like songs rather than pieces of a whole experience, ideal for a single. The lyrics are still as undistinguishable as ever; layers of reverb-drenched vocal on both tracks blend harmoniously together and follow a cascading melodic pattern. Beautiful as this is, his heart-felt groans (e.g. “Song For Ariel”) seem to be absent here, and again this further withdraws from the ecstatic feelings. Without a motive that's easy to relate to, the spotlight is focused more towards the pure sounds coming from this record. The crownpiece in this sense is the 3/4 drum sample of “Slow Motion”, kick drums and hand claps that verge on the brink of Hip Hop, a feeling particularly re-inforced as a Dr Dre chord sequence chimes in. However good these drum beats are though, for both tracks they continue relentlessly throughout without any additional layering or sparse breakdowns, and I get the feeling that this lack of progression in the music might grow tiresome after a dozen plays. But in the short term, the experience when hearing these songs is a positive one, and you may even find your shoulders popping with the rhythm. If you're lucky enough to find a copy of this floating around be sure to grab it, it's beautiful under a needle. RS
NEON INDIAN - Psychic Chasms [Lefse Records, 2010] Deliberately derivative, Neon Indian blends the ethereal quality of shoegaze into the warm analogue feel of 80's synth-pop to produce a mix that is lush to its very core. Unfortunately, "Terminally Chill" isn’t quite laid back enough for it to compete with the other tracks on 'Psychic Chasms' but it still sports the lo-fi production and dreamy synths that create that very distinctive sound. Beneath the layers of synthesisers, the vocals are lyrically indiscernible and heavily processed (something reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine) but this really helps the
track find a richer tone, without shifting undue attention to its singer. Possibly the most ad-hoc genre ever, the chillwave “movement” of last summer which arose to label acts like Neon Indian, Washed Out or Memory Tapes deserves more attention than it will get. OF
HORSES - Yeah Buddy [Transgressive.
2010] The most depressing thing about this not-quitehardcore dirge is that the band has clearly approached its composition in a spirit of efficient calculation: the ‘funky’ syncopated verse must be the makeweight in convincing the listener to excuse the moist and directionless warbling of the painfully straight chorus; the totally edgy use of two vocalists, neither of whom can scream with sufficient chutzpah, is presumably enough to make up for the cheap Americanisms of the lyrics (“Yeah, buddy! You got one heck of a nerve!”) What a vulgar display of musical weakness from a band who seem to be marketed as some art-rock party piece, hoping that none of their flaws will become too apparent if they are all on display yet carefully aligned. Furthermore, this reviewer is aghast at the climax, with its doubly-hollered refrain of “Ring out the bells!”, which is such a blatant and limp-wristed plagiarism of The Blood Brothers’ ‘Fucking’s Greatest Hits’ that the question has to be posed: why would you make your influences so obvious when you have neither the guile nor the inclination to attempt to match them, let alone evolve from them? SG
THE QUAILS - Fever [Like The Sound, 2010] It’s hard to know precisely which part of this single The Quails expect us to be impressed by. The brief verses plucked woven of inanity itself? The lazy guitar chops in the chorus, or the forgettable melody they carry along like a sack of rocks? Perhaps, given that the groups are fresh out of college, we are supposed to marvel at gravel-throated frontman Dan Steer’s hard rock stylings, coming across, as they do, like Audioslave crooner Chris Cornell boring himself to death? Surely it can’t be the utterly out of place guitar workout that the band have deemed excuse enough not to actually write any new music after the second chorus. Having already opened (note: not supported) for Muse, The Kooks, and Newton Faulkner, it’s clear that discretion is not part of The Quails’ arsenal; given that they clearly function according to a model of leather-bound rock stardom that was already defunct in the 80’s, their best hope is surely to hope that they get more gigs on Radio 2, where Janice Long “has confirmed that she is loving the Quails album.” A song as simplistic and confused as that sentence is depressing and grammatically incoherent SG
REVIEWS ALBUMS SUFJAN STEVENS ‘The Age of Adz’ [Asthmatic Kitty. 2010] Sufjan Stevens’ contribution to ‘Dark Was The Night’, the 2009 benefit album for HIV charity Red Hot, was the ten-minute electro-orchestral exercise “You are the Blood”. Easily outmanoeuvring the soppy acoustic fare on that two-disc collection, his Castanets cover distilled the multi-instrumentalism of previous albums into a lurching brass section and moaning vocal harmonies, and then spread the potent mixture over a creakingly simple song structure. That singular overload has now been translated into an album, but it is not just the instrumentation of ‘Age of Adz’ that “You are the Blood” prefigures. On the latter, Stevens visualises the song’s addressee as the blood in his veins, electricity in his fingers; emotion is internalised and run through self-referential circuits, trapped within subject himself. Correspondingly, ‘Age of Adz’ abandons the perspective and tone of his preceding albumsencyclopaedic excursions into the trivial and grand histories of others, empathetic and broad-minded in subject matter and instrumentation- for an intense introspection fuelled by repetitive electronics. As plenty of commentators have already noted, these skittering beats are not unprecedented for Stevens; he explored these sounds on early records such as ‘Enjoy Your Rabbit’, demonstrating how prodigious he has always been, rather than making any great leap forward. Such a sideways step was always going to draw breath, risking the misunderstanding of those fans happy to lose themselves in the library of studied musicality that was Illinois or Michigan. And after the kaleidoscope of public perspectives on those ‘States’ albums, Stevens shows steel nerves to refract all his metaphors and melodies through personal pain; this is a ‘breakup’ album in the old- school sense. A brave move, then, but whilst any of these tracks heard in isolation is likely to impress, the album as a whole suffers from niggling inconsistencies and weaknesses. For one thing, the beats that support these songs seem oddly homogenous. Stevens has always demonstrated an ear for rhythmic diversity: remember the moment on ‘Illinois’ when the dainty country plucking of “Decatur” melts into the pounding “Chicago”. Here, the electronics bubble and twitch like a geyser without ever truly erupting, or else they drop out entirely on piano-led numbers such as “Now That I’m Older”. This broad percussive approach is reflected in the lyrics, which leave Stevens open to accusations of heart-on-sleeve, egotistical emoting where we have come to expect polite exposition (sample: “Sufjan, the panic inside, the murdering ghosts that you cannot ignore.”) The melodies and harmonies are unmistakably Stevens’, but as they are laced with reverb here, bleeding in and out of the arrangements- especially on the choral “Now That I’m Older”- the album seems somewhat limp, warbling vocally. As Stevens hugs his listener close, he paradoxically holds them at a further distance than on any previous release. His famed maximalism seems cheapened here, reduced to baroque trills and arpeggios on flutes and recorders, blocks of brass blasting, and some undeniably impressive wordless harmonies. “Too Much” offers a powerful initial flurry of beeps and sighs, and “All For Myself” tiptoes over hills of anxious emotion with poise and delicacy. Yet, in the end, the dense expanse of the album overwhelms to the point that the simple trick of slipping a fast track into the mix (“I Want To Be Well”) has the impression of offering a cheap rush. It takes the closing song, 25 minute opus “Impossible Soul”, for Stevens to step back, and combine the electronic impulse and ominous vibe with his usual craft and humour. This is a stunning song, a cross-section of the abilities of one of the world’s most versatile stylists, pulsing with ideas, rhythms, tunes, quirks: but the fact that it is so bloated and out of step with the rest of the album seems to demean both its very independent charms and the quality of the work around it. Perhaps the above worries stem from more fundamental structural anxieties. Shortly before the release of his documentarysoundtrack ‘The BQE’, Stevens gave an interview in which he questioned the continued relevance of the album as a format: “I definitely feel like the album no longer has any real bearing anymore. The physical format itself is obsolete; the CD is obsolete and the LP is kinda nostalgic. I'm wondering, 'What's the value of my work once these forms are obsolete and everyone's just downloading music?'” Reveling and perplexing in the lush texture of ‘The Age of Adz’, it is tempting to conclude that Stevens’ uncertainty about the album format has resulted in a retreat into this challenging and frustrating insularity, both lyrical and stylistic. Best to dip into this soundworld at intervals, leaving breathing space for the undeniably thrilling showmanship to work in. Or to take “Impossible Soul” alone as a distilled version of what it was Stevens was aiming for here, what he’s capable of, and to see the rest of the album as what it is: a stuttering and necessary crescendo to this career highpoint. SG
REVIEWS SHRAG - Life! Death! Prizes! [Where It's At Is Where You Are, 2010] Shrag's first album, out a couple of years ago, was nicely summed up by one of its more throwaway songs, "Mark E. Smith". Aside from the title, which gave a pretty brazen nod to their post-punk heritage, its trebly guitars and aggressive delivery provided a template for the rest of the record. It was good, yeah, but pretty unvaried. In that sense this new one (N.B. terrible album name) is a huge improvement on the first. The tempos are down, and the calmer songs are mostly the best: "Their Stats", which for Shrag is almost a ballad, is lovely, finding the perfect balance between melody and emphatic delivery on the chorus. That's not to say they've entirely mellowed, though: Helen still shrieks like a banshee on opener "A Certain Violence", and the fuller instrumental sections have a more satisfying weight to them than they used to. The band's new-found maturity gives them more interesting and clever subject matter for their songs, too: "Tights in August" is a nice duet showing two sides of a relationship with some clever lines. "Furnishings" is the highlight, building from melancholy guitar chords to a chorus with some of the best vocal delivery on the album and lyrics which remind me of the Coppola film "The Conversation" (probably not entirely what they had in mind when they wrote it, but oh well). It's still not a perfect record: the yelps are still a bit grating and sometimes overused, and the lyrics are occasionally overdone (as on "The Habit Creep", an interesting idea for a semi-spoken word piece which unfortunately fails to really click). But overall this is a real improvement, and points towards better things to come: hopefully by the next one they'll have ditched the less effective of their riot grrrl pretensions in favour of more of the introspective stuff on here. ES
DIE ANTWOORD - ‘$O$’ [Interscope, 2010] It is hard to know how to go about judging South African rave-rap crew Die Antwoord with any degree of objectivity. The reputation of the group- MCs Ninja and YoLandi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek- represents a perfect storm of postmodern, ironic, hipsterish, online hype-mongering that leaves little room for their album to find a fresh-faced, appreciative audience. The pulsing and aggressive “Enter The Ninja”, accompanied by an eye-catching video, was tagged as their ‘breakthrough’ moment, but in this case the breakthrough was into a world in which any attempt to make an earnest hiphop album was doomed from the start. How exactly is a group supposed to go about their business when the first question that anyone asks about them is, “Is this all a joke?” The superficial comedic fix that the online community finds in what is surely a knowingly earnest representation of ‘Zef’ culture (a kind of Afrikaans white trash) cheapens the talent for the genre that manages to shine through on this, their debut album. To illustrate, this quote from Wikipedia: “Die Antwoord appears to some to be a presentation of entertainment personas rather than that of intrinsic and authentic cultural identities”; as if the group could not be both. If this is a ‘joke’ band, then the gag
is told very skillfully, with a great deal of attention paid to matching image and sound. The broad genre of rave-rap fits seems to fit the aesthetic of ‘Zef’ to the ground: implications of trashiness in the thick synths, a compulsive sound and endless displays of filthy braggadocio. It might not seem the most sophisticated sound, but that is surely not the intention, and the coarseness is tempered with rich humour. On “Rich Bitch”, Vi$$er paints a picture of a working class idea of having it made: “fokken Nutella on my sarnie”; on “My Best Friend”, guest The Flying Dutchman unleashes a lewd anecdote that pokes vicious fun at South African President Jacob Zuma. The aggression of the Ninja character in particular fits the beats to perfection, particularly on “Enter The Ninja” and 8 minute sex-jam “Beat Boy” (where his continual use of the word ‘vagina’ in place of anything more ‘poetic’ is both hilarious and disconcerting). Sometimes, of course, the conceit fails to hold, as on the limp, minimal, and Autotune enhanced “I Don’t Need You”, or the nursery rhyme weed-paean “Dagga Puff”. But inconsistency has always been the hallmark of but the very best hiphop albums, and the counterbalancing effect of reggaeflecked jam “Wie Maak die Jol Vol” and the
closing title track is more than satisfying. If anything, the true subtleties of this album are hopelessy lost on someone like me, given the cartoonish representation of Zef that Die Antwoord work with- you get the sense that they are still committed to making music for the South African market, and are content to throw out tongue in cheek cultural references that will be properly assimilated by their audience- and the plain fact that a lot of the rapping is in Afrikaans. Indeed, the sense of arrogance involved in assessing an album that speaks of a culture and in a language that is alien to most of its listeners is another facet of the confused, internet-led response to groups such as this. The spoken word opening track puts across something of the brash cultural politics that Ninja is invested in: “I represent South African culture. In this place you get a lot of different things: blacks, whites, coloureds… I’m like, all these different things, all these different people, fucked into one person. Whatever, man.” It’s not for us to judge the validity of these statements, or the potential for comedy they contain; and our attitude to groups like Die Antwoord is certainly not making it easier for those whose identities they represent to make themselves heard above the din. SG
BRIAN ENO – Small Craft on Milk Sea [Warp, 2010] Listening to a Brian Eno album, especially an ambient one like ‘Small Craft On A Milk Sea’, is like being taken on a tour of an alien world – Enoworld. As such, opener “Emerald and Lime” gives a bird’s eye view of the landscape below before we delve right in from the next track on. The swirling and sparse “Complex Heaven” takes us on a tour of the eerie caverns, whilst the driving kraut-rock of “2 Forms of Anger” gives us a good look at the crashing oceans and the beat-heavy “Dust Shuffle” takes us over the sparse plains and deserts. It all has a groove, a melody but also an edge that keeps you on your toes, much like something Eno’s Warp label mate Aphex Twin might create. The inhospitable first half gives way to a lusher, softer closing half. “Slow Ice, Old Moon” fully realises the arctic tundra of Enoworld; simultaneously serene and sinister, but the electronic blips of “Lesser Heaven” come to swoop us away and give us a beautiful view of the cosmos. From the gusty peaks of “Calcium Needles” we get a phenomenal view of the peaceful side of Enoworld, which is shown to us in further detail on the piano ballad “Emerald and Stone”. In fact by the end of ‘Small Craft On A Milk Sea’ you start to feel wonderfully at home in this new environment, which makes it hard to accept when “Invisible” comes and sucks us back out of our new lives and we reemergeinto intoour ourformer formerselves selvesasasthe thealbum albumends ends with birds chirping remember world we used to home. call home. RH emerge with birds chirping andand we we remember the the world we used to call
MAPS & ATLASES, FICTION & TALL SHIPS 12.10.10 @ Cargo On my way to Maps & Atlases headlining the intimate setting that is Cargo on Tuesday the 12th involved a mixture of emotions – disappointment after getting lost for around an hour and missing Fiction’s set and an intensity of happiness and an exudation of respect in seeing a band, Maps & Atlases, who I have followed for several years, create such a quality and aweinspiring performance. Getting to Cargo late, I missed Fiction and their blend of sweet, colourful and loose pop music that was bound to get everyone in the mood for the bands to come. With Tall Ships entering the fray next, the room, intimate already, got more packed, as they charged out tunes from their forthcoming album ‘There is Nothing but Chemistry here”. Playing miraculously well, they were hard not to love, with their inter-changing instrumental roles, melodic and ambient tunes, subtle irresistibility, great stage presence with an even greater band. Their mini keyboards, thoughtful guitar work, easily sympathetic and receptive vocals, and purposeful songs, this band grew stronger over the duration of their act, and gave the audience a show full of thought and feeling. A band I only knew descriptions of left the stage triumphant, leaving behind plenty of satisfaction – one of the best support bands I have seen. Brilliant.
However, it was Maps & Atlases who surely stole the show, coming back to the UK after touring with Foals two years ago, making their headlining debut in London. Greeted with loud cheers and whistles, Maps & Atlases more than repaid their loyal fans, playing a balanced blend of tracks from their previous two EPs and their new album, ‘Perch Patchwork’. Playing all the fan favourites including “Artichokes”, “Every Place is a House”, “Ted Zancha” and “Daily News”; the atmosphere among the crowd was one that was both stationary in admiration and charging with energy and vigor. There was no moshing, no aggression, just respect and appreciation. With the lead singer’s distinctly powerful voice, the intricately woven guitar works, the general warmth exuberated from their stage presence, the finger-tapping guitars playing off each other, and the drums pounding every single track along, this was a confident and bright return. Every single member of the band that is Maps & Atlases excelled at their instrument and beyond, with the bassist taking time to bang a percussion drum and bars and a guitarist thumping along a snare drum.
However, the reason the band was here was to promote their new album, with tracks like “Solid Ground”, “If This Is”, and “Living Decorations” getting plenty of cheers. Nevertheless, the pinnacle of the entire spectacle came at the end, as when the clock was nearing 11 and most people presumed the gig was coming to an end, Davison, the integral lead singer, said that if the crowd would oblige them, they would come down to the middle of the crowd area and play an acoustic medley, to which the only possible response was loud cheers. Strumming off “Me and the Mountain”, the delight of the evening came when Davison began to play “Ongoing Horrible”, which if you have never seen performed live, I highly recommend you to go type it into YouTube, NOW. This is one of the reasons why Maps are so great - appreciative, innovative, personal, and fresh. After congratulating the band on their performance, I left Cargo more than satisfied, witnessing one of the greatest performances I had seen, and a great start to gigs in London. Thank you Maps & Atlases. OS
REVIEWS THE DEMISE OF GARY POWELL (DJ SET)
05.10.10 @ KOKO We all loved The Libertines. Their ramshackle live shows and lyrical evocations of British life set them apart the pack of postStrokes indie pretenders (I’m looking at you Paddingtons). Pete, Carl, John and Gary were the real deal. Unfortunately The Libertines burnt out arguably at the peak of their powers. But I am not here to write about the all too well documented fallout between Pete and Carl. With Carl Barat’s ‘Three Penny Memoir’ released last month, promising to be a true modern classic alongside, er, ‘The Books of Albion,’ to do such a thing would be unnecessary. No, I wish to focus on the much-loved Libertine Gary Powell and his recent DJ set at KOKO in Camden. At the two Dirty Pretty Things gigs I attended as a misguided sixth former, the crowd beckoned Gary out from behind the drum stool to a euphoric ovation. They roared the poignant chant “Gary, Gary, GAARRyy!” Whilst Pete and Carl bickered and drugged themselves to death and John Hassall did, well, nothing, Gary was the reliable, likeable Libertine; a man caught up between two narcissistic super egos. So, I set my sights on going to see Gary Powell play a DJ set. It seemed a welcome break from the freshers’ events with DJ’s like Zane Lowe (“any of you kids heard this cool new genre ‘dubstep’?”). And the only alternative was Club Neon. After spending the early evening at ‘Folkulture’- a fusion evening of, I kid you not, student poetry and folk music - I descended on KOKO for what I thought would be a night of eclectic music interspersed with Libertines classics. The cost of the evening was extortionate at £7 each with not a student discount in sight. Perhaps the price put people off because the dance floor was relatively empty, although it was a weeknight in Camden. The resident DJ at KOKO was first behind the decks. I must admit, despite the fairly obvious song choices, it was refreshing to hear some decent indie tunes played in a club. Later, as Gary took to the stage, I was slightly shocked at the crowd’s indifference to him. I looked on whilst a legend started his set in front of a silent and unresponsive herd, who were eager only for the next Wombats tune. And what is more depressing – Gary gave it to them. My jaw dropped in horror as Gary lifted his pint and oscillated wildly to “I’m Moving To New York”. His mixing was terrible. Each song abruptly stopped before the next ubiquitous track of landfill ‘indie’ trash blasted out from the speakers. Here was a man who used to play guerrilla gigs in Pete Doherty’s flat and had a hand in composing classics like “Death On The Stairs” and “Time For Heroes”. These days he dons some Topman and heads out to play Klaxons tunes, awful drum and bass and Kaiser Chiefs singles in Camden. My main problem with his choice of songs, apart from how criminally predictable they were, was how difficult they were to dance to. He chose indie bands like Feeder who play fairly heavy rock music, led by riff rather than groove. Even his choice of Blur track –“Song 2” – was so heavy it was difficult to do anything but put your arm around a mate and pogo away. I suppose there would have been chaos on the dance floor had anyone bothered to stick around. This DJ set was one of the worst musical ventures that arose from the fallout of The Libertines, alongside Carl Barat’s solo album (a prospect which fills me with fear and dread). It is sad to reflect that Babyshambles are the highest quality act out of any of the band’s post-Libertines work. Perhaps, after a series of successful shows at Reading and Leeds, the full band, perhaps plus Wolfman (although it could get awkward between him and Carl), should return to KOKO to give this stunning venue the performance it deserves. MS
DINOSAUR PILE-UP 19.10.10 @ KCLSU Anything with ‘dinosaur’ in the title has to be good, it’s like ‘robot’ or ‘ninja’! But Dinosaur Pile-Up goes one step further, implying images of cute dinosaurs in cars, crashing into each other. Some are angry, some confused, some just a little concussed. When we arrive, the supporting act is in full swing. They proclaim they’re called ‘Turbo Wolf’ in between hard-core rock rifts and guns and roses style lyrics, and the odd 80s children’s cartoon space sounds really completes the picture. These guys have definitely watched ‘School of Rock’ at least once. They’ve got it all; the power stance, the face melting guitar solos, and awesome stage presence. These guys are ‘Rock!!’ with a capital R and some exclamation marks for good measure. Their set isn’t too long, just enough to get the crowd really going. These guys are definitely something to watch out for. And so to the main event, Dinosaur Pile-Up takes to the stage. Those people in
the audience expecting merchandise with dinosaurs driving cars on it will be disappointed, others maybe satisfied so long as you’ve never heard of Nirvana or more recently Blink 182. For those not in the know, Dinosaur Pile-Up is a rock band from Leeds, taking their name from a dodgy moment in a ‘King Kong’ remake, they cite early Foo Fighters as an inspiration and you can definitely hear it. The result is a stunning rock powerhouse with plenty of rock hooks.
Having never heard any of their material before, I was mildly surprised to feel like I could sing along with the band. According to frontman Matt Bigland, this is exactly their aim: "I know it sounds bent but I liked the idea of people to be able to sing along to the songs, even if they were singing about being hated or upset. I wanted to make a record that kicks people in the face whilst getting stuck in their head." The problem with the band, for me, is that they seem to have no original direction, which is a genuine shame because you want them to succeed. At one point in the evening they took a break to play a slow song off their album, which illicited a negative reaction from the audience, but its here where their talent really showed. The melody and the clever lyrics really shine when they’re not trying to recapture someone else’s genius. In all fairness we have to give some credit to these guys for trying to bring back the glory days of grunge/punk rock. Those days were amazing and I for one salute them. MB
JOHN PEEL ALL-DAYER 09.10.10 @ Bloomsbury Bowling For John Peel Day this year I went to the annual all-day festival at Bloomsbury Bowling lanes. Run by the nice people at Damnably Records, it's both a celebration of John Peel's posthumous influence on nonmainstream and underground music, and an opportunity for some of London’s best promoters and bands to put together a bill. The fact that the festival is curated by lots of different promoters, labels and bloggers with seemingly little coordination does mean that there's a strange lack of continuity. The feyest of twee pop sits next to heavy noise rock, which makes for a slightly odd crowd but I suppose is probably fitting for a tribute to Peel's own way of doing things. For an event dedicated to such an adventurous broadcaster it does lean very heavily on the skinny-white-boys-with-guitars end of the spectrum though, rather than covering much of the dance music, hip-hop and whole range of other styles that Peel also loved. Anyway, it works out that the upstairs stage (in the main bowling alley, where the bands are accompanied by the cheering sight of oblivious "regular" punters bowling) is mostly indiepop-type stuff while the downstairs stage is the noisier, heavier stuff. The first band of the day for me was Theo. Described as "one-man math rock" - sadly making use of a loop pedal rather than the classic "bass drum on the back, snare drum tied to the elbows" arrangement of the end of the pier - his instrumentals were well crafted but failed to make
themselves heard over the largely uninterested crowd. A distinct lack of stage presence didn't help. Cove, too, next on the main stage, played some good droning heavy psych, again with some mathy-ish leanings, but weren't really suited to an afternoon slot on what amounted to the "pop stage". Downstairs in the lanes' Kingpin Suite NITOWSKI's set was a different matter. Unapologetically loud, focused and tight nearly-instrumental math-rock in the Don Caballero mould, they were one of the best things I saw all day. No bass, but guitars that chimed and interlocked prettily before shattering into jagged, lopsided barrages. Super. Also good earlier in the day were Superman Revenge Squad, a man from Croydon with an acoustic guitar and unremittingly bleak but carefully observed songs on the mundanity and misery of everyday life. "When you're young, a pornographic magazine represents the future: when you're old, a pornographic magazine represents the past." Later on I saw Smallgang, whose lead singer had played earlier on the acoustic stage. Just from looking at the band (Jazzmasters and plenty of effects pedals) you could pretty much guess how they were going to sound, but they pulled it off well, especially in the more unrestrained wall-of-noise sections which reminded me as much of more recent bands like Under City Lights favourites Cymbals Eat Guitars as of ‘Loveless’-era My Bloody Valentine. Look out for a record at the beginning of next year. Back upstairs again, Nedry were one of the more interesting and original
bands of the day, and perhaps the one which Peel himself might have been most keen on, mixing icy female vocals with atmospheric drones and heavy dubstep percussion and bass. Bearsuit, well, were Bearsuit, playing all new material and seemingly having sound problems (which seems to be a running theme with their gigs), but the crowd seemed to enjoy their particular brand of tartrazine pop, and they do have the distinction of being one of the bands championed by Peel himself (while most of the rest were formed too recently to have actually had his seal of approval). Closing the festival (or my festival at least) were Ice, Sea, Dead People, whose unrelenting mixture of hardcore and noise rock brought to mind the Jesus Lizard and Nation of Ulysses or even, in the most intense moments, the manic speed-riffage of Lightning Bolt. Wilfully abrasive and brimming with excitement and enthusiasm, they were a fitting end to a festival celebrating the most idiosyncratic of DJs. ES
13.10.10 @ Cargo September saw the release of Abe Vigoda’s latest LP, ‘Crush’; an album that demonstrated a new sound from the ‘tropical punkers’. Eager to win over the fans, October saw the band hit the road for a European tour with fellow Californians No Age. Under City Lights’ favourite promoters ‘Upset the Rhythm’, put the band on at Cargo with support from Naked on the Vague (REVERB = boring) and Echo Lake (Indie pop + reverb = awesome). However, we were there for the main event, Abe Vigoda. Right from the start of their set, the band made it clear that they were here to play their new album, “We’re not going to play anything from ‘Skeleton’ [last LP], we’re not that band anymore,” before launching into the storming new track “Dream of my Love (chasing you)”. It seemed much of the crowd had turned up to hear the tropical punk sounds of Abe’s past, and showed it, with a stunned disinterest of the set being performed before them. However, the great sound of Cargo allowed the band’s new, more mature sound, really shine. What’s more, the dark and intelligently crafted sound found a perfect home in Cargo’s gritty industrial innards. By the end of their set, Abe Vigoda managed to win over a skeptical audience till they were shouting out for encore after encore, hungry for another dose of darkness. If Abe Vigoda can do this with an apathetic Shoreditch audience, they can surely do the same across any audience. DA
KOKO (Pictured) Tube: Mornington Crescent (1 min) Capacity: 1500 Sound: Good Drinks: Dear Web: koko.uk.com
The Lexington Tube: King’s Cross (11 mins) Capacity: 250 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Dear Web: thelexington.co.uk
Roundhouse (Pictured) Tube: Chalk Farm (2 mins) Capacity: 3,300 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Expensive Web: roundhouse.org.uk Brixton Academy Tube: Brixton (5 mins) Capacity: 4,921 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: brixton-academy.co.uk The Borderline Tube: Tottenham Court Road (3 mins) Capacity: 275 Sound: Good Drinks: Pricey Web: venues.meanfiddler.com
Bush Hall (Pictured) Tube: Shepherd’s Bush Market (5mins) / Shepherd’s Bush (10 mins) Capacity: 40-0 Sound: Great Drinks: Reasonable Web: bushhallmusic.co.uk
Buffalo Bar Tube: Highbury & Islington (0 mins) Capacity: 150 Sound: Average Drinks: Dear Web: buffalobar.co.uk Corsica Studios Tube: Elephant & Castle (2 mins) Capacity: 300 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: corsicastudios.com The Garage Tube: Highbury & Islington (1 min) Capacity: 630 Sound: Great Drinks: Dear Web: thegarage.co.uk Institute of Contemporary Arts Tube: Piccadilly Circus (6 mins) Capacity: 350 Sound: Average Drinks: Expensive Web: ica.org.uk CAMP Basement Tube: Old Street (3 mins) Capacity: 400 Sound: Good Drinks: Expensive Web: thecamplondon.com The Forum Tube: Kentish Town (3 mins)
Capacity: 2,350 Sound: Average Drinks: Reasonable Web: kentishtownforum.co.uk Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen Tube: Old Street (6 mins) Capacity: 450 Sound: Good Drinks: Expensive Web: hoxtonsquarebar.com Brixton Windmill (Pictured) Tube: Brixton (15 mins) Capacity: 130 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: windmillbrixton.co.uk
Cargo Tube: Old Street (8 mins) Capacity: 400 Sound: Great Drinks: Expensive Web: cargo-london.com Electric Ballroom Tube: Camden Town (1 min) Capacity: 800 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Dear Web: electricballroom.co.uk Hammersmith Apollo Tube: Hammersmith (4 mins) Capacity: 5,100 Sound: Great Drinks: Dear Web: hammersmithapollo.net Islington Academy Tube: Angel (3 mins) Capacity: 800 Sound: Average Drinks: Reasonable Web: o2academyislington.co.uk Alexandra Palace Tube: Wood Green (unwalkable: bus) Capacity: 5000
Venue Directory Sound: Poor Drinks: Reasonable Web: alexandrapalace.com The Barbican Centre Tube: Barbican (0 mins) Capacity: 1156 (seated) Sound: Excellent Drinks: Expensive Web: barbican.org.uk Royal Albert Hall Tube: Gloucester Road (14 mins) Capacity: 5,250 (seated) Sound: Excellent Drinks: Expensive Web: royalalberthall.com Royal Festival Hall Tube: Waterloo (4 mins) Capacity: 2500 (seated) Sound: Excellent Drinks: Expensive Web: southbankcentre.co.uk Scala Tube: King’s Cross (2 mins) Capacity: 1,145 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Reasonable Web: scala-london.co.uk Shepherd’s Bush Empire Tube: Shepherd’s Bush (6 mins) Capacity: 2000 Sound: Poor Drinks: Reasonable Web:o2shepherdsbushempire. co.uk The Luminaire Tube: Kilburn (5 mins) Capacity: 275 Sound: Great Drinks: Reasonable Web: theluminaire.co.uk Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes Tube: Russell Square Capacity: 400 Sound: Average Drinks: Reasonable Web:bloomsburybowling.com
Cafe OTO Overground: Dalston Kingsland (2 mins) Capacity: 150 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: cafeoto.co.uk Kings Place Tube: King’s Cross (6 mins) Capacity: 420 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Pricey Web: kingsplace.co.uk Heaven Tube: Charing Cross (1 min) Capacity: 1,625 Sound: Good Drinks: Pricey Web: heaven-live.co.uk O2 Arena Tube: North Greenwich (1 min) Capacity: 23,000 Sound: Great Drinks: Pricey Web: theo2.co.uk The Dome Tube: Tufnell Park (2 mins) Capacity: 400 Sound: Good Drinks: Pricey Barfly Camden Tube: Chalk Farm (2 mins) Capacity: 200 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: barflyclub.com/camden The Slaughtered Lamb Tube: Barbican (7 mins) Capacity: 150 Sound: Great Drinks: Reasonable Web: theslaughteredlambpub.com The Tabernacle Tube: Notting Hill Gate (14 mins) Capacity: 400 Sound: Great
Drinks: Reasonable Troxy Overground: Limehouse (4 mins) Capacity: 2,600 Sound: Great Drinks: Pricey Web: troxy.co.uk University of London Union Tube: Goodge Street (5 mins) Capacity: 820 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: ulu.co.uk The Underworld Tube: Camden Town (1 min) Capacity: 500 Sound: Good Drinks: Reasonable Web: theunderworldcamden.co.uk
Union Chapel (Pictured) Tube: Highbury & Islington (3 mins) Capacity: 800 (seated) Sound: Great Drinks: Reasonable Web: unionchapel.org.uk Village Underground Tube: Shoreditch High Street (2 mins) Capacity: 1000 Sound: Excellent Drinks: Pricey Web: villageunderground.co.uk XOYO Tube: Old Street (3 mins) Capacity: 1000 Sound: Good Drinks: Pricey Web: xoyo.co.uk
Earlier this year, Yeasayer released the critically acclaimed album Odd Blood, packed with some of the most infectious pop songs this side of Lady Gaga. We chatted to Anand Wilder from the band, just before there big gig at the Roundhouse, to get the low down on UK crowds, their artistic collaborations and Kanye West…
You guys are on tour in Europe at the moment. We were wondering how touring over here differs from touring in the US? Basically, who has the better fans? It all depends from city to city. Last night we were in Cardiff, and the crowd was pretty… stiff. But we played in Tallahassee Florida recently, and it was the same sort of deal. I will say though that touring in America is a lot easier than touring in Europe. Everyone speaks the same language, you don’t have to keep changing currency, you can still use you iPhone. How does London compare to other places? We’ve played London 17 times, so it’s pretty good. We’ve being looking forward to this show at the roundhouse for some time. About a year ago we played two shows at the Roundhouse, opening for ‘Bat for Lashes’. Those were really nice shows. It’s going to be great to come back a year later and sell out the roundhouse!
You’re touring with Suckers at the moment. We’re really loving them at the moment in the office. What do you think of those guys? Yeah ‘Suckers’ are a band that we come from New York. They sang on our first album. I produced their EP, so there’s always been a creative dialogue. Sadly people haven’t really heard their record over here 'cause they don’t have a record label. There album is definitely one of my favourite albums of the year – they’re brilliant songwriters. Cool. We want to ask about your takeaway show you did with Vincent moon. How did that go? You guys certainly seem a little bit reluctant in the video at the beginning, but it’s becomes absolutely beautiful in the end. We were familiar with his work. Blogotheque was the first website that was doing these sort of stripped down performances. I think our show was one of the last ones that they actually did with the original creators behind it. So we kind of new a bit about it, and we decided to work with him, but I was a bit reluctant to do something so spontaneous and sloppy, but it kind of turned into this odyssey where we were travelling through the streets of Paris, going on the subway and we picked up people along the way, kina like a modern day pied piper or something. We were glad that it wasn’t just a performance, but actually turned into a little documentary of that night. It does make it look a lot more romantic than it actually was! Ever since we’ve been reluctant to do another session, 'cause we want to keep that experience sacred. Your music videos are a lot of fun and a bit bizarre? You’ve being working with the visual artists radical friend recently for a lot of them recently. Do you want to talk about the process of working with them? We were upstate working on ODD BLOOD and came across this interactive video for a black moth super rainbows song, where you could run the mouse over it and the scene would change. Its very beautiful and seamless and utilised technology in a very creative way. Chris just looked them up online and got in touch with them. It turned out that they were big fans of us. We knew ambling alp was going to be the first video, and they kind of just came to us with loads of these surreal crazy ideas. We looked out when Daft Punk’s production company decided to produce the whole thing. They had a load of great connections with these great artists in LA who worked for little money and take part in the exciting outdoor scenes. The people who worked on it, all the naked extras, came in the next day and were like “being out in the desert was one of the best experiences of my life!” It seemed to be a pretty amazing experience all round. They then started on the O.N.E video. That was more like, hey lets do something more performative and pay with the idea of a band playing live, but doing it in a totally new creepy and futuristic way. That turned out really good too so those guys are 2/2 now. Someone huge recently asked them to do a video for them, but they turned it down ‘cos they were too busy working with us! As a band, where do you guys see yourselves headed from now? We’ve always being about the slow constant build. I just want to keep putting out relevant good music. I don’t ever see us becoming the next Coldplay or U2, but I’d like to keep making songs that appeal to a wide audience, that people find interesting and innovative.
Since you recorded Odd Blood, and release ambling alp, you seem to have received a lot more mainstream attention. How do you feel about that? Is it a good or a bad thing? I don’t think we’ve really achieved any real mainstream success. I certainly don’t feel it in my pocket. Every time we feel like we’re breaking through, we seem to hit a wall. Somehow it’s still just a little bit too weird for Radio 2, or whatever it is. I still feel like we’re outsiders, we not on a major label and we’re not getting nominated for any Grammys. Is that the way you like it? I sort of think that unless you buy into the structure of the major labels, you’re never going to get that mainstream success. You could have the poppiest song in the world, which I think we might have with Ambling Alp or O.N.E, but some major label bands that put out those kind of pop singles are going to be the ones that get nominated for Grammys. We like to model ourselves on the more long-term career bands like The Flaming Lips, Beck and REM. For us, the struggle is just to remain positive when you’re on gruelling tours playing the same songs over and over again, yet feel like we’re still being productive. So you just have to make time for that. You guys hit the festival circuit pretty hard recently. festivals.
How do you guys like
Well its good, we’ve got a good monitoring system together. We’ve got all the difficult situations solved now. I mean the 20-minute changeovers you have at festivals used to be a pain. Our first run of festivals in 2008, we were plagued by technical difficulties and people were complaining that we took 30 minutes to sound check. People don’t realise though that at a show at a club you have sound checked for an hour at least before people get in there. We’ve finally sorted all that out now though. I really enjoy them though. I mean, there are a couple of really horrible corporate, muddy drunk festivals with terrible bands. But there are other festivals that are more boutiques, where they try and be more sustainable, with good vegetarian organic food. After playing all the summer festivals though, its good to be back in the club, playing to your fans. Back in the summer we played at Austin City limits where we were on just before The Flaming Lips. All there fans were in the first 10 rows, and they had now idea who the hell we were. We just went on playing our songs, and we realise that none of these people actually care about our songs, there just here to get good seats for the flaming lips. There’s always that kind of problem. BUT, you feel like you’re really accomplishing something when you win over a crowd at a festival. You mentioned The Flaming Lips and Beck a couple of times. IT seems like you guys look up to them quite a lot. If you could get a compliment from one person on your music, who would it be? Beck actually took us on tour for 5 days. When we got there he told us that he loves our album. We were like “What, YOU like OUR album!” His music changed my life when I was 12 years old. When Jay-z gave us a shout out a Coachella that was pretty amazing as well. So we’ve gotten a fair bit of love already. I don’t know who else alive is out there that I would really love to be complimented by. On last question completely out of left field. We heard a rumour that someone out of the band helped decorate Kanye West’s apartment. Is there any truth in that at all? Yeah, Ira used to be a carpenter. One of his jobs was in Kanye’s apartment. They had to build a bunch of differently styles of trim in his room. They had to build it just so Kanye could come in and say, “I like that one”. HE couldn’t just look at a brochure and say I want this one; he had to have them all built. Cool, thanks a lot for everything. night. CJ & DA
We look forward to seeing your show tomorrow
Even you don’t recognise the name Peter Broderick, it’s fairly likely you’ve heard his work without realising. Aside from his insanely prolific solo catalogue in which he has garnered comparisons to the likes of Bon Iver and Max Richter, he is a member of Efterklang and has worked with a vast array of artists including Horse Feathers, She & Him and Clint Mansell of Requiem For A Dream fame. He took some time out with me before his recent gig at St. Giles in the Fields to discuss his latest record How They Are and his numerous upcoming releases, amongst other things.
How’s the tour going? You’ve just started, I take it. Yeah, we left last Sunday, so almost a week now, and it’s been really, really nice, actually. Last night we played in an art gallery in Middelburg. I’ve played a lot of small towns in the Netherlands that I’d never been to before. The night before was pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, in Holland, in a place called Bakkeveen. Just this one house, kind of out in the middle of a field, where they do one concert a month. And the same last night, they do one concert a month in this gallery, and the night before that was in this amazing old church in Gent, in Belgium. The turnouts have been great and we’ve been selling a lot of CDs, and people seem really happy. So it’s been really, really nice. As for How They Are’, your latest release... would I be right in saying that it was a record that seemed to happen to you, rather than one you searched out or planned? That’s a really nice way to put it. I didn’t really think of it like that, but now that it’s released, and it’s finished, it kind of feels like that’s how it happened. I had this time off and that stuff just came out of it. It just all fell into place. As a piece of work it feels very solitary, which I suppose is a product of the context in which it was written? [Peter had to cancel touring and album release plans after he was consigned to the “quiet life” by knee surgery in the beginning of 2010] Absolutely. I was spending a lot more time alone than I had been in the previous years. In the studio it’s just me - there’s no overdubs or anything, it’s just what I’m capable of doing in a room by myself at once. I was really aiming for the solitary sound... a very stripped down, basic, honest sound. I’m almost inclined to conclude from ‘How They Are’ that, fundamentally, you’re an introvert - which would fit in with the tone of your earlier releases. But given that you are involved so often in collaboration, suggesting a highly social side, I was wondering whether that was really the case? Well, someone was interviewing me the other day and he said at the interview, “you know, your music seems so sad but you seem like such a happy person” - that’s sort of a way to put it I guess. But I’m a really social person, I have to speak with people all day, every day, most of the time, but this was a time when I did spend quite a bit of time to myself. In “Human Eyeballs on Toast,” you seem to be writing from the perspective of a battery chicken. Exactly. I’m very glad you realised that because I read a review of the record a few days ago, where somebody thought I was talking about myself, and saying if I had a bigger brain, I’d surely find a way to take my own life, and I just thought that’s a shame, I really hope people aren’t thinking that. Is it simply an exercise in writing from an unusual perspective, then, or something more than that? I can tell you exactly why that song came about. I was reading a book at the time called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Have you heard of Everything Is Illuminated? He wrote that book, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was his second one. The second one especially, I read that book and I just thought, this is one of the most incredible novels I’ve ever read. Then his third book that comes out is a nonfiction account of the animal agriculture industry and I just thought that was such a bold move from him to write that after having two really successful novels. And still, you go to the bookstore and they have his novels on display, but that one’s in the corner somewhere, y’know. I’ve kind of been a back and forth vegetarian my whole life, and always kind of searched for a real reason to make up my mind one way or another, and that book gave me some very clear answers. It’s a really startling, shocking book. So the song just came out, right in that time. You always seem to have a lot of projects on the go. Is there anything particular in the works at the moment? Well, there are some things in the works. There are some recording projects that I’ve already finished, that are coming out before the end of the year. One is a split 7” with my friend Johan [Gustavsson, aka Tsukimono] who’s playing first tonight. I think he’s mostly doing some pretty avant garde, electronic stuff, but on the record he’s singing and playing guitar. I wrote a song about him, and he wrote a song about me, and we also covered each other’s songs, so there are four songs total on the 7”. So it sounds more like your work than his? There’s me singing two songs and him singing two songs, so it’s kind of a big little mix up, because I’m singing a song that he wrote, but he wrote it about me. It was a really fun project. It was supposed to be ready for this tour, but it got delayed, so, I think we’re gonna get it in the next week or so, somewhere along the tour. And when I get back in November I’m gonna be recording a little collaboration album with my friend Nils Frahm. We’re going to Japan together next year, so we’re gonna make maybe an eight song album.
Is this the record you’d been working on before your knee surgery? No, that’s another record which is already finished, but this one is going to be 50/50, both of our names: Peter Broderick and Nils Frahm. A collaboration album. That record you have finished, to be released in 2011. You have said it’s a “monster album”, and “huge sounding”... Maybe that was kind of a mistake! I think on my scale it’s a monster album, because I’ve spent more time on it than any other record that I’ve worked on and it has, like... you know, Home is guitar and voice, there’s others that are strings and piano, and this one kind of has everything. Not the same restraint, perhaps? No, there were no rules like, let’s only use these instruments, or anything. But there’s still some softer songs, there are some songs that get pretty loud with drums, and it’s a bit more all over the place. What else can you tell us about the record? It’s nine songs, most are based on the guitar. There’s one song where I’m singing in German. Each song is very different from each other, that’s the way I feel about it. Another song is a cover of a song my father wrote when he was eighteen years old, where he went into a studio when he was eighteen and he recorded this song. My mother found it on a tape and gave it to me thirty years later, and he had totally forgotten about it, so I did this thing as a surprise for him, covering his song. There’s a couple that I have played live one that I play pretty regularly. There’s one that’s almost like a hip-hop song, a pretty hip-hoppy beat. I’m not really rapping but I’m more like speaking... You gave away some random tracks online recently, including “These Walls of Mine”, in which you rap. ...yeah, very much a rap song. I’m surprised you know about that one! But, one thing I can say (about the new record) is that Nils Frahm produced it, and this doesn’t give you an idea of what it sounds like, but we focused not only on the music but the sound - each individual sound - so for me it’s a really sonically pleasing album. After a while I can’t tell if the music is any good or not, but I love the way that it sounds, probably because it’s the first time I had someone else step in and take over. Nils has a really special ear for sound, and he knows a lot more about sound than I do, so it really helped just to have him involved.
Where do you expect this record to take you in the long term? I think I need to put a band together to play the songs, that’s one thing. There’s lots of layers. Home had lots of layers, and I play versions of it live, it’s not the same, but I can still get by with it by myself. But this one, it doesn’t make any sense to release it and then go tour by myself. I think I have to put a band together for it. You’ve worked with some incredible artists. If you could collaborate with any musician - forgive me the clichéd question - who would it be? I do have dreams of collaborating with other people, but nowadays I have more dreams about collaborating with different kinds of artists. I know I’m kind of getting around your question but there’s a couple of visual artists who I would really love to collaborate with. There’s a girl based in Berlin named Elín Hansdóttir, she’s an Icelandic girl, and I’ve kind of been chasing her down, trying to get her to collaborate on something for a while, but I don’t think it’s going to happen in the immediate future. But as far as musicians go... a lot of them are already dead I think. Like, Arthur Russell is somebody I would have just loved to sit in a room with and play some music, but, erm, I don’t think that’ll happen, so... I’ve always thought you and Sam Amidon [aka Samamidon] would work well together. I know you have said you really like All Is Well, which is one of my favourite albums, too. I was just talking about that to someone earlier, actually. I ordered that record online and I got it and I listened to it a few times - and then I ordered five more copies because I just thought I want to share this with people, I want to give it to people - and I’ve never done that with another record. I just heard it and I thought, “everybody has to hear this, it’s just incredible.” You said you’re not listening to much new music, but is there anything, old or new, that you’re excited about at the moment? Actually, just now I am listening to music, because in the car there’s just a CD player. One record that I am in love with is this band The Books, the latest one, it just blows my mind, I love it. Also with Efterklang we just did this tour in the States, and our support was a band from Brooklyn called Buke and Gass. It’s quite different from anything else that I’m listening to. It’s a bit more rocky, almost like math rock sometimes, and there’s a girl singing with this crazy powerful voice and I fell in love with them after seeing them for a month, playing live. I’m listening to that record all the time. There’s a Dutch composer I’m listening to named Simeon ten Holt, the CD I have is this one piece that’s seventy-five minutes long, and it moves melodically, but rhythmically it’s really repetitive. It hypnotises you. Tea or coffee? I actually go back and forth, but most of the time it’s coffee. Tea is more when I’m sick, when coffee doesn’t seem like the right idea. Thank you so much Peter, you’ve been an absolute pleasure to talk to. Well, likewise, those were nice questions!
How They Are by Peter Broderick was released on 6th September by Bella Union. SR
2: 54 This London based female duo are influenced by a plethora of late 80s & early 90s bands, most evidently Sonic Youth, right down to singer Hannah Thurlow’s Kim Gordon-esque husky vocals. The sisters are strong female characters, which shines through in their music and is probably why they have been selected to support Melissa Auf Der Maur on her UK tour. http://www.myspace.com/thetwofiftyfour
Echo Lake The name Echo Lake tells you everything you need to know about the sound of this band. Cavernous guitars enclose the haunting vocals, which add a mysticism and ethereal quality to their music. Listening to Echo Lake can put you into a state of reverie wherein you’ll picture the placid waters and dreamscapes that is audibly beholden unto you. http://www.myspace.com/echolakeandthestrangeera
Smallgang It’s not often that you hear a happy song about a plane crash but such is the attitude of Smallgang; determined to find positives in the unlikeliest of places. This happiness shines through in their jangly guitars, poppy vocals and frantic hooks. On first listen Smallgang may seem too indebted to their influences but further plays will reveal the originality and talent that this troupe has. Look out for a debut full-length in early 2011 on Damnably Records. http://www.myspace.com/smallgang
Get Involved Printed by UCLU Rare FM on behalf of Tom Riste-Smith
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