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PRIMAL SCREAM

DAVID BOWIE

THE CORAL

INDIE

RAT BOY

ALTERNATIVE

POST-PUNK

LUSH

WEIRD!

“EVERYTHING I SAID WAS JUSTIFIED”

1996: THE YEAR THAT INDIE SMASHED THE STADIUMS

www.louderthanwar.com ISSUE 3 MARCH/APRIL2016 £4.99

“SLIP INSIDE THE EYE OF YOUR MIND...”

THE WONDER STUFF KULA SHAKER

cover ISSUE 3.indd 1

JAMES

DRIVE LIKE JEHU

SWIM DEEP

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

BIS

SLAVES

24/02/2016 19:18


new this month

Wild Nothing

Second Love

Life of Pause

coming soon

Emmy The Great

exmagician

Explosions In The Sky

More Rain

Scan The Blue

The Wilderness

04.03.2016

25.03.2016

01.04.2016

out now

M.Ward

MONEY

Beach House

Father John M is t y

John Grant

Su i c i d e So n g s

T h a n k Your Luc ky St a rs

I Love You , Hon ey b e a r

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

more info at bellaunion.com

KULA SHAKER 2 pages.indd 1

25/02/2016 14:55


LIVE MUSIC WEEKENDS PRESENTS

11-14 NOVEMBER 2016, BUTLIN’S MINEHEAD ARENA ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN / THE WONDER STUFF / THE HOUSE OF LOVE SHED SEVEN / BLUETONES / ECHOBELLY CAST / BLACK GRAPE PAUL HARTNOLL (ORBITAL) / UTAH SAINTS THE RAILWAY CHILDREN / S*M*A*S*H THE SEX PISSED DOLLS / MARION BENTLEY RHYTHM ACE / CUT LA ROC WILL WHITE (PROPELLERHEADS) THOUSAND YARD STARE / CUD THE FRANK & WALTERS JESUS JONES / SPACE MONKEYS PLUS MANY MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED

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3 seaside locations | Legendary artists performing live | Over 18s only | 3-nights accommodation | Deposits from only £15pp Prices shown are per person per break based on four adults sharing a Silver self-catering apartment, excluding the price for the Shiiine On Weekender which is based on four adults sharing a Silver Room on a room only basis. Prices include all discounts and £s off. Prices are correct as of 23.02.16 but are subject to availability. Act line ups are correct at time of print but are subject to change. From £15 per person deposit is only valid when using the Auto Pay feature and applies to new bookings only when booking more than 84 days before break start date. Deposits are non refundable and your final payment will be debited 12 weeks before you arrive. All offers are subject to promotional availability, may be withdrawn at any time and cannot be combined with any other offer or internet code except the 5% Premier Club loyalty discount. For full terms and conditions please visit butlins.com/terms. Butlin’s Skyline Limited, 1 Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 4YL. Registered in England No. 04011665.

KULA SHAKER 2 pages.indd 1

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Academy Events present

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FRI 4TH MARCH | SOUTHAMPTON ENGINE ROOMS SAT 5TH MARCH | BRIGHTON CONCORDE 2

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WITH SPECIAL GUESTS

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NOTTINGHAM Rock City BRISTOL O2 Academy LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire WHITBY Goth Weekend

Tickets available from: Ticketweb.co.uk · 0844 477 2000 and all usual agents An Anger Management, Academy Events & DHP presentation by arrangement with Primary Talent International

THE MISSIONUK.COM

T O U R

(Not appearing in Liverpool)

FRI 18TH MARCH LONDON O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN SAT 19TH MARCH | BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY THU 24TH MARCH | GLASGOW O2 ABC FRI 25TH MARCH | NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY SAT 26TH MARCH | LEEDS O2 ACADEMY SAT 2ND APRIL | NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY www.ticketweb.co.uk | 0844 477 2000 and all usual agents

An Academy Events & Friends presentation by arrangement with Soundtrack Agency, MJR Group, Spider Touring & Air MTM

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R

S

LOUDER THAN WAR

MUSIC MATTERS MOST

STUDIO G12 REGENT HOUSE 1 THANE VILLAS LONDON N7 7PH LOUDERTHANWAR.COM FACEBOOK.COM/LOUDERTHANWARMAG EDITOR IN CHIEF JOHN ROBB Johnrobb@louderthanwar.com EDITOR JAMES SHARPLES Jim@bigcheesemagazine.com PUBLISHER EUGENE BUTCHER Eugene@vivelerock.net DEPUTY EDITOR DICK PORTER Dickfjp@yahoo.co.uk

2

ASSOCIATE EDITOR SARAH LAY Sarahlay@louderthanwar.com REVIEWS EDITOR IAN CHADDOCK Ian@bigcheesemagazine.com DESIGN/PRODUCTION STEVE NEWMAN Steve@bigcheesemagazine.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAULA FROST, ROBERT MAIR, FERGAL KINNEY, PAUL HAGEN JAMES BATTY, MARTIN LEAY , LOUISE BROWN, ANDY PEART JOE WHYTE, HUGH GULLAND, JON FALCONE, NICOLA GRIFFITHS SAM CUNNINGHAM, TIM GRAYSON, ROXY GILLESPIE ARIEL WIMFREY, CRAIG CHALIGNE, GED BABEY ABIGAIL GILLIBRAND, KRISTEN GOODALL , LEE HAMMOND, GUS IRONSIDE, MARK RAY, PAUL SCOTT-BATES, BRUCE TURNBULL, SEAN SMITH, IOAN HUMPHREYS, DAVE BROWN PHOTOGRAPHERS MARK LATHAM EMMA STONE DOD MORRISON MELANIE SMITH

016 could be the year that pop culture reached old age. And yet it’s the year that it’s been reborn. Again. There have been heartbreaking deaths of people who have soundtracked our lives and they are coming thick and fast, the veteran bands are bigger than ever and old is the new young and yet there is new life everywhere. In all genres there are sparks of thrilling new bands and musics. Sparks that the late, great David Bowie would have approved of like Let’s Eat Grandma - two 15 year old girls from Norwich and their stunning dark, dank and strange music who we championed first on the website and are getting attention now. There are exciting scenes all over Europe with bands like Repetitor in Serbia or Trad Attack in Estonia, there are long term acts like Laibach who are at the top of their game with their bizarrely genius cover of the Sound Of Music soundtrack and there is Norway’s Ulver breaking new musical territory with their new album. These are random tips of a huge old and new iceberg and proof that despite the originals leaving the range the future is in good hands. LTW reflects this we celebrate the new and embrace the past. And we’re going to be doing so more often now that we’ve gone bi-monthly, meaning you can now get six issues of Louder Than War magazine a year. We are not scared to say that, actually Oasis were pretty damn good if you strip away the story and actually listen to the band. At the same time we are running around Europe watching and listening or out and about in the UK on the frontline. We are beyond fashion because we are immersed in the music and the music culture. It’s this immersion in the culture that means we understand the pain of musicians trying to tour the USA and the nightmare Visa problem there which we highlight in this issue or we give out full support to Mark Davyd’s venue campaign because we know what it’s like out there. We care little for the phoney VIP dramas. We care little for ‘guilty pleasures’. This is about the music.

CONTACT FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES EMAIL INFO@BIGCHEESEMAGAZINE.COM PUBLISHED BY BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD DISTRIBUTION

John Robb Editor In Chief Main image: TV eye: a visual representation of life as travelling musician and interviewer from John Robb.

COMAG SPECIALIST 01895433800 COMAGSPECIALIST.CO.UK

Cover photo: The Gallagher brothers shot by the fantastic Paul Slattery.

ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD 2016

LOUDER THAN WAR intro and contents issue 3.indd 2

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25/02/2016 12:20


CONTENTS

20

tindersticks

the seahorses

48

GREG ANDERSON (Pic PEter BESTE)

SKUNK ANANSIE

28

REGULAR

114 SENNeN

10. ON THE STRIP: NEWS & VIEWS The great Visa issue, Knife World, Guerilla Toss, bis and more.

20. POPSCENE: TINDERSTICKS Jon Falcone caught up with Stuart A Staples to explore the Tindersticks’ double decade of poetic nihilism.

22. NU-CLEAR SOUNDS: INTRODUCING.. On Dead Waves, LIINES and Sennen.

28. SOUNDS FROM THE STREET: YORK Former Seahorses man Chris Helme guides Sarah Lay through the melting pot of York.

6

48. BACK CATALOGUE: SOUTHERN LORD James Sharples talks to Sunn O)))/ Goatsnake man Greg Anderson about the early beginnings and evolution of cult label Southern Lord.

84. OUT OF THE VOID

22

Albums, books, DVDs and gigs reviewed.

107. ACCELERATOR Upcoming gigs for the months ahead plus a conversation with Alias Kid.

114. THEN AND NOW: SKUNK ANANSIE Ian Chaddock speaks to iconic frontwoman Skin about formations, successes and more...

84

LOUDER THAN WAR

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25/02/2016 16:38


CADIZ LO

C

PULP

30

TUFF LOVE

50

OASIS

LUSH

42

DEFTONES

FEATURED 30. TUFF LOVE

Taking their obsession with dynamics to new heights with new album ‘Gore’, Sacramento’s Deftones explain all...

44. THE WONDER STUFF

32. SWIM DEEP Swim Deep singer Austin talks about how psychedelia has gone stale, the Birmingham music scene and album number three...

LTW head honcho John Robb catches up with his old pal Miles Hunt to discover the recipe for the Stuff’s longevity.

50. OASIS

34. DAVID BOWIE Following the sad passing of the Thin White Duke, Randal Doane ruminates on how Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ saw Bowie’s sights set on the cosmos.

36. PRIMAL SCREAM Revealing their darkest material in years, the ‘Scream are back with ‘Chaosmosis’. Fergal Kinney found out more from the band.

36

1996 saw Oasis shake the United Kingdom to its foundations. We chart the phenomenal rise of the band from the release of their sophomore album to selling out two legendary nights at Knebworth.

60. ULVER Discovering the beauty in improvisation, Bruce Turnbull speaks to Ulver about their continuing evolution from heavy metal to otherworldly.

62. KULA SHAKER Back with the long awaited semi-sequel to ‘K’, Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills sat down to discuss it…

64. JAMES Releasing fourteenth studio album ‘Girl At The End Of The World’ and hitting the road, Dave Brown speaks to James frontman Tim Booth.

8

62

42. DEFTONES

Having supported Ride on their UK tour, the Glasgow duo are gathering their three EPs into one long player. Sarah Lay meets the band to get the story so far.

PRIMAL SCREAM

70

KULA SHAKER

68. RAT BOY Skateboards, fire and ‘Scum’. It’s all in the day of a life for Rat Boy...

70. LUSH New Lush material and shows? Louise Brown and Miki Berenyi went head to head.

74. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY Rob Mair chats with the Texan post-rock titans about ‘The Wilderness’.

76. DRIVE LIKE JEHU LTW sits down with Jon Reis (aka Speedo) ahead of their ATP curation.

78. THE CORAL James Skelly explains how Krautrock and solo albums reignited The Coral, leading to the musical wizardry of ‘Distance Inbetween’.

82. BEAT HAPPENING Jon Falcone caught up with Beat Happening’s Calvin Johnson to talk retrospection.

LOUDER THAN WAR

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CADIZ LOUDER THAN WAR AD_Layout 1 24/02/2016 16:51 Page 1

CADIZ MUSIC PRESENTS...

I NEED A DODGE! JOE STRUMMER ON THE RUN A documentary by Nick Hall DVD

“This freewheeling Kerouac-ian adventure is a fascinating insight into Strummer’s troubled psyche as he searches for a new direction…” Record Collector

ADAM ANT THE BLUEBLACK HUSSAR A Jack Bond Film DVD

"An engrossing and moving portrait of a true English original. Filmed by maverick director Jack Bond who has previously made films on the Pet Shop Boys and Salvador Dali"

BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF THE NEW MODEL ARMY STORY

LEE SCRATCH PERRY’S VISION OF PARADISE

“A moving portrait of a band” 7/10 Uncut “Unique and extraordinary” 8/10 Vive Le Rock

A riveting and revealing documentary about reggae and dub producer, musician and artist Lee Scratch Perry, one of the inventors of modern music.

DVD

DVD

COMING SOON

YOUTH SKETCH, DRUGS & ROCK N ROLL

THE ECSTASY OF WILKO JOHNSON A Julien Temple Film

'Youth – Sketch, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll’ is the story of the award winning record producer, Killing Joke Bass player, musician, Songwriter and Artist known simply as Youth. COMING SOON

“Director Julien Temple has made a documentary film literally about a death and life experience that pulls at the heart strings.” The Guardian

DVD

DVD

www.cadizmusic.co.uk

intro and contents issue 3.indd 6

25/02/2016 12:20


Are these the last days of British bands being able to tour America? LTW’s John Robb, as a working musician, investigates...

T

HE Visa situation for touring bands has become almost unworkable and prohibitively expensive. For British bands it can cost up to £5000 to pay for Visas and the agents who do the Visas, travel to London for the interview and other costs. Even when writing this down it seems ridiculous. Our ‘special friends’ across the Atlantic have brazenly put us in our place by charging UK bands up to £5000 to get Visas to play gigs in the USA whilst American musicians get charged about £30 to come to the UK. Not only this but they nearly always hand over the Visas late meaning bands have to

10

worse. The trouble is the Americans won’t listen. What was once at the heart of rock culture from the Beatles onwards is finally coming to an end because of the prohibitive costs, Visa bills and taxes that cripple any touring UK band. Thirty percent of your gig fee is taken off you every night in tax. Paying tax in a cancel flights and gigs and sometimes whole country you don’t even live in is strange and tours in the scramble. If you cancel your tour annoying and cripples the already decimated you don’t get a refund or even an apology. You tour budget. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy get nothing. The situation is beyond joke and to pay tax in a country I live and vote in but it needs changing. everywhere I go? We have been going on about the Visa Now, only the stadium bands can afford situation between the UK and the USA for to tour America. Most British bands we years now. And the situation has got worse. know refuse to go ahead with it now, We actively started a campaign in 2012 concentrating on the rest of the world. The aided by great support from Kerry McCarthy late, great David Bowie broke America in MP. Despite the campaign, despite questions 1972 after a classic tour there when he got recently asked in Parliament by Nigel Adams in after Visa problems – problems that would MP and despite the Musicians Union working not be solvable or affordable under the current on our behalf the situation has actually got regulations.

LOUDER THAN WAR

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THE MEMBRANES

And that is heartbreaking because, of course, we love America. The people, the culture, the food, the music, the landscape, the myth – the road in America is the bloodline of rock ‘n’ roll with the endless fourteen-hour drives which are magical. The people are fantastic. Their ‘can do’ belief is inspiring and their openness is wonderful. They don’t even know what is going on with the bands they want to see but soon will not be able to. America has always loved British bands – pretty soon they will only be able to watch them on Youtube. American music is totally entwined with ours and we love it. For decades that cultural ping pong had been at the heart of modern culture. But those days are about to end.

I

t’s beyond frustrating. We all feel ripped off. Our friends on the American music scene are equally appalled but no-one listens to them either. What is the solution?

For how much longer do we have to tolerate being ripped off like this? Change is needed. We are working on a campaign to try and improve this situation and there is a mountain of bureaucracy in the way but every now and then there is glimmer of hope on the horizon. Recently it came from Canada, which has just scrapped its own Visa restrictions. Canada has scrapped its controversial and unworkable Labor Market Opinion fees for foreign artists playing at small clubs, bars and other unrecognized music venues in Canada. The established fee was $275 per band member, which, when compounded with the work permit fee of $150 for an individual musician or $450 for a band, meant that a musical act would pay a minimum of $325 to perform, and bands with six or more members would pay upwards of $2,000. Given the size of the venues that are affected by these fees and the costs of travel,

lodging and food costs to the fees, these fees made touring in Canada financially risky at best and ultimately impossible for many independent artists. Unsurprisingly, the fees faced opposition from touring musicians and Canadian citizens alike who launched a Change.org petition to amend the regulations to exempt bars and small clubs that garnered over 140,000 signatures. The decision not only eliminated the LMO fee, it also did away with the work permit fee for touring acts. Lifting these fees provides much greater incentive for foreign acts to tour in Canada. It will be interesting to see if increased touring grows the live music market creates more opportunities for small Canadian acts to perform, ultimately leading to a bolstered Canadian music scene. America – are you listening? For more information on this issue, visit Facebook.com/Visacampaign

LOUDER THAN WAR news page 10 issue 3.indd 2

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25/02/2016 12:48


LOUDER

THAN WORDS Have your say, get Louder...

THE LTW TEAM PROFILED...

DICK PORTER VIOLA BEACH

H

ere at Louder Than War we are saddened to hear of the tragic passing of the hotly-tipped Warrington band Viola Beach, who passed away in a tragic car accident in Sweden. The band, comprised of guitarist/vocals Kris Leonard, guitarist River Reeves, bassist Tomas Lowe and drummer Jack Dakin, were on their first international tour with manager Craig Tarry when the vehicle they were travelling in crashed into a canal. In the wake of such tragedy, a campaign has been started by family and friends of the band and Tarry to propel their debut single ‘Swings And Waterslides’ up the charts in the hope of their music being enjoyed by as many people as possible and ensuring their legacy. Our thoughts are with the friends and family of the band at this time.

BIG WEEKENDS

T

he first wave of Butlin’s Big Weekends have been announced for later in the year. Returning to Butlin’s Bognor Regis resort October 7th-9th, Rockaway Beach is back following last year’s runaway success. While the line-up is still to be announced, Early Bird tickets are on sale now. At Butlin’s Skegness (October 7th-10th) The Stranglers, Spear Of Destiny and more will be playing the Great British Alternative Music Festival. Taking place at Butlin’s Minehead Arena (November 11th - 14th) the Shiiine On Weekender has announced its first wave of bands, including Shed Seven, The Bluetones and Jesus Jones. For more festivals, tickets and line-up updates, visit Bigweekends.com.

LET’S EAT GRANDMA

H

aving gained their first review over at Louderthanwar.com, Let’s Eat Grandma, the most unique and fascinating duo to have come out of the UK in quite some time, have announced that they have inked a deal with Transgressive Records. Multi-instrumentalists Rosa and Jenny (aged 16 and 17) combine experimental pop with progressive sonic weirdness, most recently on single ‘Deep Six Textbook’. Expect a full length release in the not too distant future.

CAMDEN ROCKS

R

eturning for its 5th year, Camden Town is set to come alive with music on Saturday the 4th of June when Camden Rocks takes over a multiple of venues. Sponsored by Louder Than War and Vive Le Rock and taking place at venues such as the Electric Ballroom, the Underworld, Proud, the Barfly, Dingwalls, the Black Heart, the Hawley Arms, the Monarch and The Good Mixer, the first bands have been announced and include the likes of The Godfathers, The Virginmarys, Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind, Queen Kwong, Asylums, The Ghost Riders In The Sky and many more. Each previous year has sold out and 2016 looks to be no different. £35 tickets are available now from Camdenrocksfestival.com.

12

Great read so far. Loving the coverage of ‘weird’ bands. Just my sort of thing. Damian Jones Great to see you have some really amazing underground artists featured, as NME has gone down the toilet. Victor Kenney I’m loving the duotone covers, and the content, of course. Tony Gallagher Loved the Nirvana cover feature! Lenny Verralis The mag was ace from cover to cover. Elijah Wolf Loved the Nirvana piece followed by Kurt Vile but loved the whole issue. Hoping to see more US underground/ grunge/punk/alternative bands from the ‘80s to present bands like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Husker Du, Pavement and Modest Mouse in future issues. James Skene I’ve just got to the Trashmouth Records feature - so far so good! I did skip ahead to Autobahn’s feature as I know one of them and what can you say about the The Chills? They’re an amazing band and their new album’s a corker! Tim Lee Great piece on Nirvana/Kurt! Dawn Forsdike Message us on Facebook to tell us what you like, what you don’t and what you want to see in the pages of the next Louder Than War...

T

he Deputy Editor of Louder Than War magazine, Cornwall lad Dick Porter also regularly pens features for our sister title Vive Le Rock and a number of other outlets. Not only that, but he has also written a number of books, such as Blondie: Parallel Lives, Trash: The Complete New York Dolls (both with fellow journalist Kris Needs), Ramones: The Complete Twisted History and The White Stripes: 21st Century Blues and, most recently, Journey To The Centre Of The Cramps. When he’s not hunched over his keyboard, Dick can be found kicking out the jams with his band, the fantastically named Bastard.

“WE DELIBERATELY WANTED TO CHANGE THE VARIABLES”

Psychedelic pop oddballs KNIFEWORLD return with third album ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’, a celebration of “this all too fleeting life”.

“O

ne aspect of ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ is the idea of a self-made Heaven or a self-imposed Hell, that agony or ecstasy are often a choice.” explains Kavus Torabi, frontman and composer for deep-fried psych warriors Knifeworld. Following on from 2014’s ‘The Unravelling’, ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ (released on the 22nd of April on Inside Out Music) is a prime slice of wonk pop weirdness, with the eight piece led on their mad march by Torabi, who says: “I look back on the twenty five years of making the kind of music I do, particularly the last six with Knifeworld and just feel so fortunate for the friendships, experiences and absolute joy it has brought. I wanted the album to be as much about that, a celebration of this all too fleeting life, as it is a reflection on death and its impact on those left behind in its wake.” With a kaleidoscopic sound that spins together strands of ‘60’s pop, ‘70’s rock and wizard musicianship, ‘Bottled Out Of Eden’ holds a more raw, live sound than its predecessor, something that Torab agrees with: “After The Unravelling, which took over a year to complete, we deliberately wanted to change the variables”, continues Torabi, “to alter the approach and make something different. I love The Unravelling but it was a very difficult record to make. Rather than spending so long in the studio, constructing, arranging, recording, re-recording and adding layers of additional instruments and noises, this time round we wanted something rawer, more live sounding.”

LOUDER THAN WAR

news page 12 issue 3.indd 1

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THIS IS JOHN FRANCIS’ LATEST CD. I HAVE RECORDED 3 SINGLES ON VINYL, ‘THE LOU REICHER BAND’. EP ‘PUNK ROCK MUSIC’ JOHN FRANCIS ‘24 HOURS’ AND ‘SOMETIMES IT’S JUST GETTING THROUGH’ THE LPS ARE ‘JOHN FRANCIS’ AND ‘COMPILATION’. STILL AVAILABLE PRICED £4.95

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news page 12 issue 3.indd 2

I HAVE ALSO BROUGHT OUT 4 BOOKS OF LYRICS AND POETRY. THE LATEST ONE, ‘POEMS’, IS STILL AVAILABLE PRICED £4.95

25/02/2016 12:49


BELLY

T

wenty years after Tanya Donelly, Fred Abong, Thomas and Chris Gorman called it a day as Belly, news reaches LTW that the band have reunited and are planning shows in the United Kingdom and the United States throughout the summer. In an official statement on Bellyofficial. com, the band said: “Belly is very happy to announce that we be reuniting to play some shows this coming summer in the US and the UK. Dates will be announced as they are confirmed but right now we can tell you with relative confidence that the UK shows will fall in the middle of July and the US shows will be scattered throughout August and possibly into September.” The band have also revealed that they’re working on new material in the interim. “We’ve also got a handful of brand new Belly songs in various stages of writing and recording that we’ll be releasing one by one over the next few months. We like in several states, all have ‘day jobs’, some have kids etc., so the new material is coming together in a thoroughly ‘modern’ (and kinda weird), digital-era way. Emails, file transfers, uploads, downloads, laptops, headphones...”

C87 BOXSET

F

ollowing on from 2014’s expanded edition of the seminal NME cassette, ‘C86’, Cherry Red Records have announced the upcoming release of ‘C87’. With a concept that hypothesises what would have happened if the NME compilers had visited the idea one year later, choosing music from mid-1986 through 1987, ‘C87’ is planned for release in late May or early June. Featuring three discs, you can expect to hear tracks from the likes of The Vaselines, The Wonder Stuff, Cud, The Shamen, The Inspiral Carpets, The Wedding Present, The Primitives, Pop Will Eat Itself, BMX Bandits, Gaye Bykers On Acid, Dog Faced Hermans, The Rosehips and The Hepburns. Find out more at Cherryred.co.uk.

DÄLEK

C

alling an end to their hiatus earlier on in 2015, cult hip hop trio Dälek have finished work on a new album for Profound Lore. The threesome’s first album proper since 2009’s ‘Gutter Tactics’, ‘Asphalt For Eden’ will be released on the 22nd of April. Emerging from New Jersey in the late ‘90s, Dälek have long been pioneers of sound, blending progressive hip hop artistry with dark ambience and noise to create a sound that’s part Public Enemy, part My Bloody Valentine, part KRS One and part Swans. Following the release of ‘Asphalt For Eden’, Dälek intend to hit the road in support of it. This is one tour not to be missed.

“EXPERIENCING THE HEAVY AMPLIFIES THE BEAUTIFUL.” Complexity, beauty and dislocated shoulders: GUERILLA TOSS frontwoman Kassie Carlson on the creation of funk punk madness. BAWLING their way from Boston basement shows four years ago, Guerilla Toss have evolved from “a free jazz/noise mixture” into purveyors of prime math punk funk, gleefully playing with tempos and tones on new album ‘Eraser Stargazer’. Now firmly ensconced in New York as part of the DFA family, their blend of Funkadelic-meets-The Slits sounds are causing a stir at LTW towers. We had to find out more...

How would you describe the writing process for Guerilla Toss? “The writing process is always very attention-to-detail. When we get in a writing zone it’s sort of all or nothing. For the most part, a unit of time is set aside, usually a few weeks, and the band dives in for sometimes eight hours a day. In this time, all possibilities are tried every which way, backwards and forwards, upside down and in a million different ways.”

Is there a specific formula that works for GTOSS when it comes to writing? “No, I wouldn’t say there is a specific formula for writing GTOSS songs. Most of the time Pete (drums) will come in with a part and we will all riff off of it for awhile until something sticks. The songs really don’t have a lot of freeform, almost everything is completely through-composed. Lately we have been adding a ‘jam’ element to the live shows, in an attempt to get into the habit of making every show different and a unique ‘experience’. In the practice space things can get pretty math-y, I guess, with all the different time signatures.”

How did you approach writing ‘Eraser Stargazer’? “To write ‘Eraser Stargazer’, we went away to a cabin in upstate New York and completely isolated ourselves for three weeks. Our process is very intensive and often requires that sort of personal commitment. It was cool to be in a beautiful place with no distractions. We would have huge feast dinners and watch tons of bad movies along with practicing. In the midst of our stay, there was a giant month-long snowstorm. It was a big deal every time we had to leave the house. The place we were stayed was on a long winding dirt road on a mountain called Blueberry Hill. Our van doesn’t have four wheel drive, so we fishtailed up the ridge everyday. Various random farmers had to begrudgingly pull us out of ditches with chains, after we had ‘carefully calculated’ the angle at which to tackle the hill. We also made a couple of really badass sledding hills, that after being iced up, Arian (guitar) went down head first, quietly dislocating his shoulder.”

How important is contrast when it comes to writing a GTOSS album? I mean ‘Eraser Stargazer’ is a party album but there’s some pretty heavy lyrical themes going on… “There has always heavy lyrical themes for the most part. Even if you’re partying those themes are still hanging out. Experiencing the heavy amplifies the beautiful. A lot of the album’s words emphasise the visceral experience of existing in a world where all physical and emotional things are magnified. There are many references to textures, smells, tastes and all that morphing in between tangible and intangible things.”

MORRISSEY/NICK CAVE COOKBOOKS For those that believe ‘Meat Is Murder’, Microcosm Publishing have just the recipe books for you in the form of Defensive Eating With Morrissey: Vegan Recipes From The One You Left Behind and Comfort Eating With Nick Cave: Vegan Recipes To Get Deep Inside Of You. Created by Joshua Ploeg and Automne Zingg and with each featuring a hundred-odd vegan recipes, you can pick them up for $9.95 direct from Microcosmpublishing.com. PRETTY GREEN WINCHESTER PARKA A reworked version of Liam Gallagher’s label’s bestselling park (the Deansgate), this khaki effort features herringbone tape detail, adjustable wait draw cords, cuff adjusters, concealed front placket and the traditional fishtail on the back with a subtle Pretty Green design on the sleeve. Order online at Prettygreen.com for £145. WAX STACKS VINYL STORAGE Bored of the same old Ikea units when it comes to housing your record collection? Recently achieving their Kickstarter goal, Wax Stacks offer something a little different. Taking an approach similar to milk crates, they combine form and function together, offering a customisable, tools-free stacking option in a range of colours. For more information visit Waxstacks.com.

What, ideally, would you like the listener to take away from ‘Eraser Stargazer’? “Probably the complexity and beauty of everything. I want listeners to look at stuff under a microscope.”

‘Eraser Stargazer’ is out March 25th on DFA

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PERE UBU MISERY GOATS

‘Misery Goats’ (originally from 1980’s ‘The Art Of Walking’) is taken from the newly released Fire Records boxset ‘Architecture Of Language 1979-1982’, a collection charting a giddy period in the evolution of Pere Ubu. This band inhabit a world of their own.

RAT BOY MOVE

Bowling along on a pitch shifted vocal of “When you hear hear the groove that makes your head spin”, Essex lad Rat Boy evokes the spirit of The Prodigy and the Beasties on this album taster, taking JD Sports to ‘Paul’s Boutique’.

PEARS SNOWFLAKE

Newly signed to Fat Wreck Chords, New Orleans hardcore punks PEARS combine the best bits of Sugar, Dag Nasty and Leatherface on ‘Snowflake’ (from the ‘Letters To Memaw’ 7”). There’s a new album out this year that can’t come quick enough.

A collaboration between two the hottest bands in abrasive music right now, Neurot Recordings-released ‘One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache’ is a seething masterwork of glitchheavy ambience, venomous vocal parts and enough gloom to bury a summer.

MISS FORTUNE

A sky scraping guitar line and closely knit harmonies herald the return of The Coral with ‘Miss Fortune’. A tantalising taster for album ‘Distance Inbetween’, you can read all about it later in this issue.

Celebrating the release of single ‘This Isn’t Love’ with a UK tour that saw free shows at COW shops around the country, Vitamin’s ‘This Isn’t Love’ is certainly worth celebrating – and not just for having the best verse build up since ‘Chain Reaction’.

OFF WITH THEIR HEADS

Reuniting just when we need them most, the King Blues are back to stick it to Cameron and cronies. And what better way to celebrate than by blasting out new cut ‘Off With Their Heads’?

The debut single from 11th album ‘Chaosmosis’, ‘Where The Light Gets In’ (featuring Sky Ferreira) sees Bobby Gillespie and cohorts raving it up with a hands-inthe-air ecstatic number. Replete with earworm chorus and trickles of synth, it’s a cracking return to form.

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SKUNK ANANSIE

Still possessing a voice that can strip paint at ten paces, Skin and Skunk Anansie have come back in fine form with album ‘Anarchytecture’. An album packed with belters, ‘In The Back Room’ comes on like The Cult playing disco.

LOUDER THAN WAR ILLUMINATES FORGOTTEN TRACKS.

ARTIST: A.R. KANE TRACK: BABY MILK SNATCHER YEAR: 1988

ormed in ‘86 by duo Alex Ayuli and Rudy F Tambala, they scored

a surprise worldwide dance hit in 1987 as part of collaborative project MARRS with ‘Pump Up The Volume’. However, it’s for their dream pop that us at Louder Than War magazine love them, especially on the shimmering and disconcerting ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’ (1988). It still sounds absolutely incredible, with its reggae/rave piano stabs and lulling vocals and is currently featured on the ‘Still In A Dream: A Story Of Shoegaze 1988-1995’ compilation.

OASIS

Giving the brothers Gallagher their first UK number one single, ‘Some Might Say’’s glam stomp celebrates its 21st birthday this April and is the perfect warm-up to this issue’s cover feature...

I N D E P E N D E N T C H A RT H I T S BY T H E N U M B E R S

DAVID BOWIE LAZARUS

DEFTONES PRAYERS/TRIANGLES

Ushered in atop a skewed guitar riff that could have come from the fingers of Johnny Marr, Sacramento’s Deftones continue their evolution from ‘metal’ band to ethereal shoegaze royalty with this cut from ‘Gore’.

PRIMAL SCREAM WHERE THE LIGHT GETS IN

Their first ‘proper album’ (soundtracks aside) since 2011, ‘The Wilderness’ shows a more forceful , rigid side to the masters of melancholic melody, most notably on lush new single ‘Disintegration Anxiety’.

SOME MIGHT SAY

THE KING BLUES

VITAMIN THIS ISN’T LOVE

DISINTEGRATION ANXIETY

IN THE BACK ROOM

THE CORAL

THE BODY & FULL OF HELL FLESHWORKS

EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

We’re still reeling from the loss here at Louder Than War. Continuing to innovate and inspire throughout an unmatched musical career, ‘Lazarus’ (from this year’s ‘Blackstar’) slowly drills its way into your very soul. SALEM’S POT WATCH ME KILL YOU

ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT ON A ROPE

That riff. The horns. Those outfits... Gearing up to play ATP, this issue John Robb chats to Rocket From The Crypt and we revisit this room-wrecking classic.

With the original currently going for hundreds of pounds on eBay and Discogs, the first Riding Easy Records release has received a welcome reissue. Goofy name aside, Sweden’s Salem’s Pot deal in meaty slabs of Sabbath-esque doom trips. Pure bad time vibes.

THE POISON GIRLS

ronted by Vi Subversa, the Poison Girls explored sexuality and gender in anarchist F punk fashion through their songs. Formed in 1976 in Brighton before moving close to Crass’s Dial House, their last recorded material, album ‘Songs Of Praise’ and ‘The Price Of Grain And The Price Of Blood’ 12”, were released in 1985. They released the following between 1981 and 1984: Singles

Position No/Wks

‘All Systems Go’

8

11

‘Hex’

40

4

‘One Good Reason’

12

6

‘(I’m Not A) Real Woman’

38

5

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SENNEN FIRST LIGHT “IF THERE’S SUCH A THING AS PURIST INDIE, THIS IS IT.” Q VINYL AND DOWNLOAD

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BIS As teenagers bis were caught in a maelstrom of hype with the release single ‘Kandy Pop’ at the height of Britpop and subsequent debut ‘The New Transistor Heroes’ in 1997. They enjoyed flurries of support in Japan and the US before releasing a further three albums, the latest 2014’s ‘Data Panik Etcetera’. Louder Than War chats with Sci-Fi Steven, Manda Rin and John Disco ahead of a UK tour.

applied by confused press, as if that was a brand new concept.” Sci-Fi Steven: “We gave ourselves silly names and made up a vague manifesto to separate us from the Britpop of the era, but it’s only with the benefit of twenty years of hindsight that I realise how odd and unique our sound was. We just thought it was pop music.”

How did bis form?

How did it feel to be at the centre of the hype in the mid-nineties?

Sci-Fi Steven: “John and I are brothers and have been fascinated by music from an early age - spending pocket money on cut-price 7” singles of the early ’80s in Woolworths. Despite differing trajectories into techno and heavy metal, we musically met in a weird mid-ground that harked back to our earliest influences.” Manda Rin: “I had a crush on Steven for many years and eventually I got him! When we started dating I tagged along to rehearsals. When they wanted to expand their sound to let Steven play guitar I stepped in to play synth.”

How did you approach music? Manda Rin: “We basically had no rules as far as the music went and it was so much fun just doing whatever we liked.” John Disco: “There was a conscious effort to stamp our own favoured sounds on early bis records, a lot of disco rhythms, guitar spikes and shouting. It took years later to discover some bands who clearly had a similar vision in 1979, but in 1995 we had to have the tag ‘punk-disco’

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John Disco: “The initial hype is thrilling when you’re 17 because you don’t know what it is to be cynical. You learn this at 18 when you find yourself out of favour.” Manda Rin: “I turned 18 the week before TOTP. I am so grateful that we got to do something so momentous and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. However, I wish I knew more about the music industry when all the labels went crazy for us. I was convinced I knew what I was doing but looking back I was naive and could have done a lot differently.”

Where can Louder Than War readers catch you on tour? Manda Rin: “We have six gigs planned this year. We have proudly never lost any energy playing gigs, and thankfully the response is usually fantastic.” Sci-Fi Steven: “No doubt these gigs will be as sweaty, stage invade-y and voice lossy as ever.” bis tour the UK in March

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HAVING STARTED IN NOTTINGHAM, SOME TWENTY-PLUS YEARS AGO, EVERY TINDERSTICKS ALBUM IS A GRACEFUL BATTLE BETWEEN ROMANCE AND THE DRUDGERY OF THE EVERYDAY. BE IT ALL-OUT MISERABLISM SET TO A STRING QUARTET OR A SOUL NUMBER THAT BOUNCES INTO AN ARGUMENT AT A WORKING MAN’S CLUB, THE MUSIC OF STUART A STAPLES AND HIS CO-CONSPIRATORS IS ALWAYS ENCHANTING. THEIR 10TH ALBUM, ‘THE WAITING ROOM’ IS NO DIFFERENT, YET THESE VIGNETTES ARE POSSIBLY THE BAND’S FUNKIEST OUTPUT TO DATE. JON FALCONE CAUGHT UP WITH STUART TO EXPLORE THE NEW ALBUM AND THE BAND’S DOUBLE DECADE OF POETIC NIHILISM.

A tenth album is an achievement, and ‘The Waiting Room’ has short films as celebratory accompaniments. What was the genesis behind this idea? “I was asked to be part of the jury for the experimental section of the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in 2012. It was a surprising world to step into; an incredibly vibrant scene that I knew little about previously. It was then that the idea started to form, to work with the festival to commission films for each song of an album although I never expected a situation to arise where this would be viable. In late 2014 we found ourselves with ‘The Waiting Room’ in a kind of sketch form and revisited the idea with Calmin Borel, the director of the festival. Gradually it started to come alive.”

TINDERSTICKS

What do you feel the films visualise, or emphasise, about their songs? “We gave the film-makers a simple brief: to not describe the songs or to be narrative, but to create a visual space for the songs to inhabit. Beyond that I was interested in how the directors responded to the songs that had been selected for them. One of the first finished films to arrive was Gabriel Sanna’s ‘We Are Dreamers!’, a poem between an enormous earth moving vehicle and a small girl with a shovel. It was a truly exciting moment. For me the song is about defiance, a refusal to stop dreaming. To feel this song spark these ideas and images gave me a belief that the film project was going to be okay.”

A tenth album is considered a ‘milestone’, yet the album’s called ‘The Waiting Room’ which is usually considered a space in limbo. Is this album a milestone for you in any way, or a pause? “Maybe because of having our twenty year anniversary a couple of years ago and re-recording and touring older songs, there was

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a feeling of release from the past in some way, a kind of demystifying of it. Also, though not by design, our albums have existed in cycles of three. Our last album ‘The Something Rain’ completed a trilogy, this brought its own feeling of freedom. In the past their has been a certain weight to making a Tindersticks album. During the making of ‘The Waiting Room’ I never thought about the past, only of the moment.”

The first few albums are considered accolades in themselves by any band, as in having something ‘released.’ What does it feel like to release an album when you’ve already establish a considerable body of work. Does the feeling change? “Recording and releasing our first album was an amazing experience for all of us. I used to crave that feeling when making a new album, thinking we were failing somehow without it. I can now see it was just a time in our lives.

It didn’t necessarily make the music better, just our excitement around it. Nine years later we were a pretty fed-up bunch of people recording songs like ‘My Oblivion’, one of the songs I am ultimately most proud of. At this moment I feel we are connected to our ideas, enjoying exploring them in a space we understand. The feeling developed between us and inside ‘The Something Rain’ gave us this momentum to carry through to be bolder and more ambitious for this album.”

The previous Tindersticks album, ‘Ypres’, wasn’t a band output but was composed predominantly by you alone and was a wonderful, powerful collection of instrumentals with all the elements of any other Tindersticks album. How do you find writing and recording within the ‘band’ structure as opposed to other channels? “When the band got back together in 2007 there was not so much to say. But one of the

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TINDERSTICKS

TINDERSTICKS

THIS WAY UP/LONDON (1995) PERSONNEL:

STUART A. STAPLES (VOCALS) MARK COLWILL (BASS) NEIL FRASER (GUITAR) DICKON HINCHLIFFE (GUITAR/STRINGS) ALASTAIR MACAULAY (DRUMS) DAVE BOULTER (ORGAN/ACCORDION) TRACKLISTING:

EL DIABLO EN EL OJO A NIGHT IN MY SISTER TINY TEARS SNOWY IN F? MINOR SEAWEED VERTRAUEN II TALK TO ME NO MORE AFFAIRS SINGING TRAVELLING LIGHT CHERRY BLOSSOMS SHE’S GONE MISTAKES VERTRAUEN III SLEEPY SONG

things to establish, for me, was that I had felt restricted always writing for the shape of the band. I needed ideas to be more fluid and free. Our band is now a core of people surrounded by a great extended family of musicians and arrangers; all of them we trust to step into our world - not an easy thing. This approach has allowed us to take on different forms for the ideas in front of us. ‘Ypres’ was an extreme of this, mostly a work of myself and Dan McKinna, it was a thrilling experience to write continuous music for a series of spaces. Saying that, it was important that ‘The Waiting Room’ was approached as a five piece band album. Guests enter and have a great impact, but essentially it is a balance between the five of us.”

So what are the core themes within ‘The Waiting Room? “I think that the album is very aware of

these brutal times we live in, though fights for its space to dream.”

it is satisfied.’...Lucinda’ took ten years to achieve this.”

The songs feel like vignettes, perhaps more so than on any previous album the conversation in How important is the narrative in your songs? Where do

So given these milestones, and let’s face it, no one’s getting younger - are any reflections on mortality hiding in this album anywhere?

these characters come from, in for example ‘Hey Lucinda’ and ‘How He Entered’? Are they the vehicle around which the music is composed, or is it the other way around? “‘Hey Lucinda’ and ‘How He Entered’ are the narrative songs on the album, both written in very different ways. ‘Hey Lucinda’ was born from the sung conversation, the character and story in ‘How He Entered’ was teased out of me by the music. But really every song has a moment when it arrives. The only choice there is whether to accept it or not. Once accepted there is a huge responsibility to find its conclusion that will not leave until

“I don’t think that they are hiding very well. Perhaps it is more concerned with the descent rather than the actual end itself.”

How is life for you these days as a father in rural France. What does it bring to the music of the Tindersticks? “When I lived and worked in South East London I felt defined by everything and everyone that surrounded me. Here, I go to my studio and it feels like a space that floats somewhere in Europe, it is free of definition.” ‘The Waiting Room’ is out now on City Slang

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ON DEAD WAVES

ON DEAD WAVES Maps and Polly Scattergood team together to create unsettling melodies

WORDS: james sharples

“T

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HIS record tells a story, and I suppose we would like to think that the one thing running through each track is hope,” say the duo, speaking to Louder Than War one crisp January morning. Comprised of James Chapman (otherwise known as Mercury Music Prize nominee Maps) and ethereal electro priestess Polly Scattergood, the twosome explain how this all came about: “We played a gig together at The Roundhouse for part of the Mute Short Circuit festival, it was kind of a collaboration, where we played each other’s tracks in our own style. So we became friends while we were working on that, and we’ve remained friends ever since. To be honest there was no master plan, we didn’t even set out to make an album. It was just two friends writing together for fun, and the project just grew and grew.” Coming from similar backgrounds in terms of their approach to making music, were there pros and cons to this way of working? “We both like exploring sounds, and we share a mutual love of being in the studio. We’ve both been on our own

journeys over the years and kind of just instinctively understood each other when we were working. Sonically, I suppose because we both enjoy experimenting with sound and playing with production, we had to remember to pull one another back when we started going down the rabbit hole into the realms of tweaking bass drum and hi-hat sounds, as that’s when we would have lost our vibe. The cons? We never got any work done when the Horror Channel was on!” “Horror” is a founding stone for On Dead

“IT FELT FREE, NEW AND EXPANSIVE”

story. There is certainly an undercurrent of darkness, but there is also a feeling of escape and hope within the record.” Explaining that “both mood and narrative were important in equal measures, but at different stages of the process,” ‘On Dead Waves’ weaves its way through cinematic pop to shoegaze to alt. country. A masterwork of sequencing, the band explain that “we put a lot of time into working on the order, making sure that the songs worked next to each other. Intros, outros, highs, lows - just making sure it all flowed. So, of course, ideally you would like someone to listen to the record as a whole body of work rather than just single songs, but we both know that’s not how it works for lots of people now, music isn’t always consumed like that… It’s changed. So ultimately if one track connects with someone and makes them feel something when listening, then as far as we are concerned, we are happy.” Ahead of the album release and with the recent release of single ‘Blue Inside’, it looks to be a busy year for On Dead Waves: “We have some singles from the album so we’re currently working on the videos for them. Then the album is released in spring... We hope to tour, so we will no doubt be travelling up and down the M1 a few times!””

Waves. Not in the sense of monsters and gore, but more a Lynchian sense of skewed wrongness or the foreboding of Edgar Allan Poe. For all of the fluid melodies that treat the ears on their debut album, underneath beats a dark heart. A fitting monicker for the duo then. “The record kind of just flowed while we were making it. It felt free, new and expansive, so really that is where the ‘wave’ part SOUNDS LIKE: MAZZY STAR / NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS / ISOBEL CAMPBELL came from. The ‘dead’ AVAILABLE: ‘BLUE INSIDE’ (MUTE) part? That’s another

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02/2016 12:01

sennen

Returning post-rock foursome come back brighter

“I

think for a while there, maybe we couldn’t quite think of any reason to do Sennen. Perhaps after our previous records, we’d always had a strong idea of what we wanted to do next. I guess you either know or you don’t. And this time, we didn’t know. We just had to wait until we knew again. We got there eventually!” laughs Rich Kelleway (vocals/guitars) of Sennen. Rounded out by Larry Holmes (vocals/guitars/keyboards), James Brown (drums/keyboards) and Tim Kelleway (bass), Sennen came to life in 1999 when “Larry, Rew, our bassist at the time, and I all went to the same university. This was 1999. We had an idea of trying to start a band when we were there, but not really much of a plan. Once we met Brownie and realised he was actually pretty good at playing the drums, we decided that maybe this band thing really might be worth a go,” remembers Rich. Releasing the criticallyacclaimed seven-track mini-album ‘Widows’ in 2005 (“I remember it being cold

album. That doesn’t mean we never ever intended to make another Sennen album, just that making a Sennen album wasn’t the plan at the time,” says Rich: “We just wanted to make music for music’s sake. We had no goal in mind. On a very basic level we all like making noise in a room - it’s what got us into doing this in the first place. The motivation came from the very simple desire to make music with each other because we like doing it - we enjoy the process. The end result was not important, but as the music progressed, we realised that there was something there, and we wanted to make a record out of it.” “I think we’re lucky,” Rich continues: “It may surprise some, but Sennen is not a multimillion dollar business. Nobody is expecting us to do anything to make them rich, so nobody puts pressure on us. From an artistic perspective, again, sooner or later we’ve always ended up doing what feels right, and trusting our own instincts when making our music.” With ‘First Light’ in the bag, the band’s thoughts are turning to gigging once more according to Rich: “We haven’t played live for a while, and it would be nice to play these songs to some people. We’re proud of them - the songs and the people!””

and dark. Kind of appropriate for that record I suppose,” reminisces Rich: “It was a fun time, we all shared a big house in Norwich and we were really happy for the band to consume our lives at this time. We were in our early 20s and every spare minute we were recording, rehearsing or gigging.”) and taking their cues from the likes of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor as much as Swans and The Flaming Lips, 2008’s ‘Where The Light Gets In’ paved the way for 2010’s ‘Age Of Denial’. “[It] contains contains many of what we would respectfully claim to be our best songs,” says Rich: “In retrospect, as an album, maybe it was a demanding listen from start to finish. Perhaps there are a couple of songs too many, or maybe some of the songs could have been shorter. (2012 album) ‘Lost Harmony’ was probably the logical next step. We turned everything down, left the pedals alone and made a quiet album.” All of which led to the creation of new album ‘First Light’. Well, in a sense. “When we started making the music that eventually became SOUNDS LIKE: RIDE / MONO / ELLIOTT ‘First Light’, we really didn’t AVAILABLE: ‘FIRST LIGHT’ (INDELABEL) intend to make another Sennen

“WE ALL LIKE MAKING NOISE IN A ROOM”

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Words: James Sharples

SENNEN

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LIINES

LIINES Pummelling Manchester post-punk pandemonium

WORDS: Sarah Lay

W

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HEN Louderthanwar.com tipped Manchester threepiece LIINES as a band of the day back in October last year we described them as, ‘creating a sound full of urgency and brooding menace, a sound which feels as if it could explode at any moment, the ferocity and vitality barely containable.’ Their debut single ‘Never There’ followed soon after, a sub-three minute squall of guitar and tight beats that was not only a thrilling listen but started to grow the audience around the band. Zoe McVeigh (guitar and vocals), Steph Angel (bass) and Leila Sullivan (Drums) previously played under the name Hooker but became LIINES in early 2014, when a new direction and natural progression of their sound lead to the name change. Now with a second single under their belts the band has a

reputation as one of the most exciting live by bass and drums allowing Zoe’s vocals and bands around. guitar to annotate the melody nicely over the They said: “We’ve been playing together top. for six years. We understand each other “We certainly have post-punk influences and intuitively, which helps us to operate more are definitely drawn to the musical urgency like musical cogs of a machine – rather than of bands like from Joy Division and Gang of a group comprised of three individuals – Four and also post-punk revival bands such especially when we perform live. Something as Erase Errata and The Chromatics. But we happens to us each listen to a lot of on stage and we different bands, which connect and it’s just has inevitably influenced electric. us from how we play our “We really love instruments to how we playing our songs write and perform live.” live and feeding off With a debut album every performance. in the works (second We get completely drawn in to the intensity of single ‘Blackout’ is available now) the band are our music. Our songs can be pretty relentless, looking forward to big things in 2016. They but we love that aspect of playing live – we said: “We’re really excited about the prospect want our shows to be full of energy, strength of working intensively on creating our debut and drive. The energy we get from performing album, and equally already looking forward to in front of an audience is very real and very the prospect of touring it toward the end of raw, and that is what we thrive on.” the year and into next year.” Their post-punk sound brings comparisons to bands like Wire SOUNDS LIKE: WIRE / SAVAGES / THE CHROMATICS and Savages. They said: “We AVAILABLE: ‘BLACKOUT’ (LIINES) like the darker, more intense and starker songs, often driven

“WE CONNECT AND IT’S JUST ELECTRIC”

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FRANCEENS (BY PAY NO MORE PHOTOGRAPHY)

There’s a vibrant grassroots scene born from a thriving collaborative music community in York. From garage rock to hardcore punk, and open mics to indie Louder Than War’s Sarah Lay gets the lowdown on the York scene and the bands you need to know from the city right now.

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NDER the paved streets of picturesque York is a candlelit basement bar playing host to one of the twenty or so weekly open mic nights in the city, Ruby Tuesdays. But this is no regular open mic; it’s a wonderland of musical vibes. It can be an underground ’60’s soul club, or a psych-fuelled trip, or a quietly nodding folk club.

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It can be one of them at a time or all of them at once. It can be an acapella cover or a didgeridoo resonating primally. It’s all about surprising and soulful performances, rarely if ever, the Guitar Hero Karaoke that some open mics become. And it’s just one night in a small city bustling with quirky creativity and a thriving grassroots scene. Run by York native and former frontman of The Seahorses Chris Helme, Ruby Tuesdays gives established and new SHED SEVEN acts a stage and allows him to delve into his collection of psych, funk and soul records in between live performances. He’s enthusiastic about what goes on musically in his city, saying: “York has a really healthy music scene and I love it. There’s a real sense of community. Everyone helps each other out and there’s a lot of mutual respect flying around and collaborations. It’s like a little Laurel

Canyon in the heart of Yorkshire.” Chris famously joined John Squire’s post-Stone Roses band The Seahorses after being spotted busking on the streets of York. And street performance is one of the many musical aspects to the city with a particularly high standard of buskers playing for the tourists, travellers and shoppers alike. Singer-songwriter and local lynchpin David Ward Maclean is a regular to Ruby Tuesdays and to busking spots, having moved to what he calls ‘the most beautiful small city in the country’ in the late ‘80s and picked up his songwriting career in 2004. With fans from Jethro Tull to Benjamin Francis Leftwich (another local boy), David is a prolific writer of soulful ballads full of intricate melodic detail and heartfelt lyrics. There’s certainly plenty of love for folk, acoustic and traditional songwriting in the city but Paul Lowman, owner of York record shop-come-quirky cultural emporium The Inkwell speaks about how varied the scene is and the calibre of bands bubbling up locally, “We’ve some good bands in

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Sounds From The Street SLEAFORD MODS

CHRIS HELME

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York at the moment - like Bull. They’re writing songs that are designed to be hits; that great pop sound. “And The Franceens are another great example of a band who know exactly who they are, what their sound is and work phenomenally hard. They have such a stage presence, so right for them and their sound; an fantastic live band.” The Franceens play furious but precise garage punk with a ’50’s rock ‘n’ roll tilt. On Louderthanwar.com we described their most recent tracks as: “racing, raucous tornadoes of noise.” Dan Oliver Gott and Naomi Westerman from the band also run the monthly Behind The White Door at The Fulford Arms in the city. Although keen to stay away from labelling the night it’s run very much on the DIY ethos there’s two local and two visiting bands, it’s free entry but donations are split between those on the bill. Dan says, “We want to bring bands we think deserve to be heard to people in York, and maybe by doing that some local bands will be able to link up with someone and go and play their stuff in another city. “We’re very focused on who we put on, all in that garage rock sound. If we hear something great but it’s outside of that genre then we tend to pass it across to other local promoters who are working their own sounds. You have Joe Coates doing more of an indie thing with Please Please You and then a couple of promoters doing hardcore and heavier stuff too.” Naomi says, “You’ve got a lot of venues in a

GREY HAIRS

THE SEAHORSES

THE INKWELL

relatively small city centre, all on top of each other a bit! It can be competitive but it’s vibrant.”

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an reels off a list of local bands he rates right now - slacker-punk four piece Fat Spatula; grunge band Worm; noise rockers Soma Crew; and indie garage three piece Sherbert Files. They’re all great sounds and Louder Than War can add to this list with a few of our favourite York artists too. Junk have been making melodic lo-fi indie over the last couple of years and have spoken of the supportive scene in the city while Elsa Hewitt, previously recording under the name Blumenkind, still often performs in York despite migrating to nearby Leeds. Her haunting dark electro tracks are a mix of rounded beats and spaced out bloops, her ethereal vocal floating across it all. You’ve also got Sam Forrest (Nine Black Alps) quietly playing a part in the local scene, whether that’s recording or producing other acts or playing his solo material; we described last year’s ‘Candlelightwater’ as “pop music at its finest: pretty melodies and woozy vocals but downbeat lyrics and detuned sounds”. And we fell so hard for Fawn Spots we put out one of their early tracks on the LTW label. Editor in Chief John Robb said of them: “It’s an almost impossible trick to take the glorious rush of underground rock and make it into pop music

without losing any of the imagination and energy but Fawn Spots have pulled it off.” Beyond the city walls York may be musically most often thought of by its biggest exports - the likes of Britpop favourites Shed Seven and the aforementioned The Seahorses and Fawn Spots - but delving a little deeper uncovers a vibrant scene. From the glut of buskers to an abundance of open mic nights, with collaboration stretching from songwriting circles to a DIY scene; it’s a city not short on music or character. It’s also one that tends to stay home to its musicians even when fame calls. Shed Seven frontman Rick Witter grew up in York and still lives in the city, hosting a show on the local radio station each week and regularly DJing at a local bar. Speaking to the local paper in 2012 he said: “I’ve honestly never once thought about leaving York, not even when we first signed the record deal and suddenly this world of opportunity opened up, I didn’t think, ‘Right, that’s it best move to London’. I like London, I like playing gigs there, but it’s too big. I prefer my cities small. “When we used to go on long tours, the sign for York and the A64 was the one thing I wanted to see most. It’s still the same, there’s a good feeling about coming back to a place you really call home.” Behind the White Door hold monthly, free entry gigs at The Fulford Arms Ruby Tuesdays is at Sotano every Tuesday night

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Having supported Ride on their UK tour and played festivals across the UK and Europe, Glasgow duO TUFF LOVE are gathering their three EPs into one long player. Sarah Lay meets the band to get the story so far.

“DJING WAS SCARY I MUCH PREFER BEING A MUSICIAN.” Suse Bear

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INCE the release of their first EP Junk in 2014 Glasgow duo Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear have been meticulously self-producing shimmering surf pop, playing festivals across the UK and Europe tackling the support slot on Ride’s first tour in twenty years. Three EPs in they have gathered the tracks together into one long player, ‘Resort’. Starting out with a more folky sound, the two met when Suse gave Julie a mix CD. She said: “I was handing out mix CDs because I wanted to DJ at everyone’s party. But actually DJing was scary and I much prefer being a musician.” Julie picks up: “Unfortunately I can’t remember what was on it and I’ve lost it. I really wish I still had it. Suse used to DJ at this night we went to all the time. It was good for the dancing.” Their tracks so far have drawn comparisons to C86 bands but the band also draw on grunge and Riot Grrrl influences alongside some summery guitar pop. But this range of influences makes them elusive in attaching to one scene. Julie said: “I really don’t know where Tuff Love sits in terms of a scene. I personally don’t feel part of one. We identify with the DIY approach that can be found in lots scenes. We’re just two people making music.” The DIY ethos to creating is strong with the band with

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them recording, producing, mixing and engineering their tracks so far. Julie said: “Self-producing is what Suse has always done and as this is the only project I’ve worked on to the point of recording polished songs, the same goes for me. It’s really important to us. It gives us the space and time we need to think things over. Suse does all technical recording, producing stuff.” Suse explains further: “I guess it’s part of the fun of this project. I’ve recorded in recording studios, where someone else is engineering, with other bands, but it’s never worked out that well. I guess because we didn’t have enough cash to spend enough time there, it was always rushed. With self engineering/producing/mixing and stuff there’s more reflection time I suppose, more space.” The band’s Europe tour dates continue, ahead of festival dates in the summer and creating a first album beyond the collection of EPs. “Doing this compilation draws a line under the EPs and buys us some time to write a proper album. Hopefully releasing these songs again this way might get them heard by more people.” and until then, this fuzz-pop duo will continue to “tour, record and try to be productive.” ‘Resort’ is out now on Lost Map Records Tuff Love play the Great Escape festival in May

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Following the release of second album ‘Mothers’ last year SWIM DEEP have toured Europe and taken on the US with The 1975. Sarah Lay spoke to singer Austin Williams about how psychedelia has gone stale, the Birmingham music scene and getting ready for album number three. Your second album, ‘Mothers’, was released last year. Has the reaction been what you hoped for? “The only thing I was sure of about ‘Mothers’ was that it demanded a reaction. It’s a strange album, it doesn’t sound like anything else yet I felt like I wore my influences on my sleeve on it. I’m a pop writer but it has to pierce you. I can’t stand listening to music that doesn’t pierce my mind in some way; it’s boring. I don’t think it reached the amount of people it should’ve but I think we always knew it wasn’t on trend with the radio or any hot genres. It was just so Swim Deep.”

The change in sound between ‘Mothers’ and your debut ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ was commented upon in many reviews. Was it a natural evolution of your sound or a definite change you wanted to make? 32

“It’s impossible for me to write the same music twice because music is magic, magic is music. So as much as maybe it would please those who wish us to freeze in time it’s always going to change. I will always cherish what one of my friends said to me, ‘all good things must not end, all good things must change’.”

Who are your main influences? “When we wrote most of the songs on ‘Where The Heaven Are We’ I hadn’t a huge record collection at all. I knew about three full albums. I grew up with friends who didn’t talk too much about music. I listened to singles on the way to school and that was about it. My brother played me a lot of rap music and a lot of old school hip hop like Run DMC and LL Cool J. My penchant for a beat probably comes from that; I live for a

strong beat! So when we were being compared to bands off our first album I had to go check them out. I’d never listened to The Stone Roses - what a crime, they’re bloody beautiful. My manager showed me tonnes of records, he still does, always will. So did my girlfriend and her dad; they all know how much music they introduced me to. The look on people’s faces when you say you don’t know what Bob Dylan’s music is is really great, but then very tedious after a long list.”

‘Mothers’ is quite spun out in parts with trippy artwork. Is psychedelia a genre that has influenced you? “I think the word ‘psychedelic’ has gone stale; no one really honours it much. Some psychedelic bands just make music that sounds like old psychedelic bands you know? Psychedelic means

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SWIM DEEP

something unknown, something sporadic. Something fucking weird that makes people fall over and cry or throw eggs or roses at you, depending on which way you like your noise. On a whole I wouldn’t even call ‘Mothers’ psych but I’ll definitely take that! We were pushing stuff in that studio and using everything possible to make it. We’re still a pop band but we have a duty to make stuff that is interesting and holds some meaning, and a duty to ourselves to try everything out whilst we’re still here. They might not have Moogs where we’re going next.”

“Everyone in Birmingham is fucking loving music still. No journo etching the word ‘B-Town’ onto a piece of paper could ruin that. There’s so much going on there! This guy called Jacky P basically runs the shop at the moment; he’s the don, the Prince of Brum. I like this rap group called OG Horse, good creative energy there. I live in London now because I’m stupid enough to, but what I see happening in Birmingham is very vibrant at the moment, there’s a lot of love.”

You’ve toured with The 1975 in the US, is there shared influences between the bands?

James Balmont joined the band in 2014 on keys - how has “I think there’s just a mutual respect and love that changed your sound? there with us. When they were coming up they “It just broadened us. James got really stuck in and once I’ve made a song he can turn it into something more, something more weird in most cases. He’s a bit of a weirdo, he fitted right in. The band feels bigger like we’ve had an addition to the family; more sub groups of jamming, more ideas, more fire!”

Bassist Cavan McCarthy claims to have made the term ‘B-Town’ up to refer to Birmingham’s local scene as a joke with Harry Koisser of Peace. However the city’s scene is referred to, are there still bands bubbling up in Birmingham?

toured with us, but they’ve been going way longer than us so it’s good to see a hard working band get somewhere. They took us to America last year - a blessing because there’s no way we could afford to go on our own and that’s the only way we can get our music out there.”

You’re coming out of eighteen months of recording, releasing and touring ‘Mothers’. Is is straight on to album number three? “Yeah, pretty much. The writing never stops in a way. I’ve been writing tonnes, nothing ever gets finished but that usually happens on the night, in the studio. I’ve just been writing whatever comes to me. I wrote some solo stuff that I’ll put out at some point and I’ve also sung on my producer Dreamtraks’ new EP. He’s the bossman, proper mental and amazing electro music. The track sounds great so we might do some more of that. I’ve been thinking a lot about what the next album will sound like and I think we’re all at the right stage right now to make that right album, a real rocket of a record or something. I can’t really explain what I mean actually, you all just need to buy it when it comes out.” ‘Mothers’ is out now on RCA Records

“I THINK WE’RE ALL AT THE RIGHT STAGE RIGHT NOW TO MAKE THAT RIGHT ALBUM, A REAL ROCKET OF A RECORD.” LOUDER THAN WAR

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DAVID BOWIE

FOLLOWING THE SAD PASSING OF DAVID BOWIE, RANDAL DOANE RUMINATES ON ‘HUNKY DORY’ AND HOW LENNON’S ‘PLASTIC ONO BAND’ SAW HIM SET HIS SIGHTS ON THE COSMOS.

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ROM ages thirteen to eighteen, I exchanged my every spare dollar for petroleum products; gas for the car to get us to Tower Records where I would purchase long-playing records. I was 18 years old in the summer of 1987 and that August’s issue of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 albums of the last 20 years provided me with my buyer’s guide for the next half decade. The list is a period piece and – like the world then and now – it incorporates a host of problems: It’s Americanist. It’s rockist to the core. Black artists, female artists, and black female artists get short shrift. In the US, though, outside of MTV, Night Flight, commercial radio, and three rock periodicals a month (two Rolling Stones and one Spin), it was all we had. With ‘Sgt. Pepper’ at Number One and ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ at Number Two, the list offered a telling vision of rock, its contradictions and the role of artifice. Following the untimely passing of David Bowie, I thought anew about that list and two other albums from its Top Ten: John Lennon’s ‘Plastic Ono Band’ (#4, 1970) and Bowie’s ‘The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ (#6, 1972). I believe that Bowie not only knew ‘Plastic Ono Band’ but it terrified him. It was Lennon’s first album following the dissolution of The Beatles. It reflected his effort to shake loose every flourish of artifice, and Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman (on bass) represented diligent aides in an exorcism of McCartney’s influence. The grooves rattle with musical and lyrical simplicity, and Lennon’s revisiting of childhood traumas via primal therapy with Arthur Janov resonate in the vocals of nearly every track. In ‘God,’ Lennon unabashedly disavows the illusions of pop, prompting tears around the world from recovering Beatlemaniacs. “I don’t believe in Elvis I don’t believe in Zimmerman I don’t believe in Beatles I just believe in me, Yoko and me, and that’s reality” Bowie, of course, was a big fan of The Beatles. ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ preceded the release of ‘Plastic Ono Band’ in December 1970. Bowie was also a sponge before he was a chameleon, and he drew inspiration from dancer/mime Lindsay Kemp, Andy Warhol, and everything deemed avant-garde in London, including the work of Aleister Crowley, Kafka, and Nietzsche. For ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, Bowie reflected upon his own fears, and in particular, the spectre of schizophrenia – which had plagued his mother’s side of the family. In ‘All The Madmen’, Bowie sings of his alienation from his mates during adolescence, with appropriately adolescent sentimentality: “‘Cause I’d rather stay here With all the madmen Than perish with the sad men roaming free And I’d rather play here With all the madmen For I’m quite content They’re all as sane as me”

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he popular perception of ‘The Man...’ as a heavy metal album is appropriate, for it is largely bereft of either sweetness or light. The lyrics, the vocals, Mick Ronson’s guitar virtuosity, and the musical mix are heavy. Bowie’s subsequent return to the theme of space travel, along with his remaking of a radically new aesthetic, was not some natural progression. It certainly had antecedents – ‘Plastic Ono Band’ was among them. Lennon’s contrivance of anti-artifice, and the revisiting of trauma

for musical inspiration, scared Bowie straight – straight back to avantgarde theatre and its celebration of characters rather than people, surfaces rather than depths, and comedie dell’arte, rather than the grim earnestness of the classic rock artist. Hence the title, ‘Hunky Dory’. As author David Buckley notes in Strange Fascination: David Bowie, The Definitive Story, “It’s almost easylistening status and conventional musical sensibility has detracted from the fact that, lyrically, this record lays down the blueprint for Bowie’s future career.” The influence of Iggy Pop and Velvet Underground, too, registered mostly on ‘Ziggy Stardust’, rather than ‘Hunky Dory’– with ‘Queen Bitch’ as the exception. This is a debt that Bowie acknowledges –uncharacteristically, some might say – on the LP’s back cover. Bowie’s annotations of the track list include, alongside ‘Queen Bitch,’ “(Some VU white light returned) thanks,” referring of course to the Velvets’ ‘White Light/White Heat’. Alongside Ken Scott, Bowie also takes co-production credits on the album, referring to himself as ‘the actor’. While ‘The Man...’might have been recorded by either Blue Cheer or Black Sabbath, ‘Hunky Dory’ is essential, incipient Bowie – the germinal cell for his work for the next ten years lay in the songs that bridge the two sides of the album: ‘Quicksand’, which closes Side One, reprises Bowie’s fascination with Nietzsche’s superman archetype and, for critics such as Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray, represents “Bowie in his darkest and most metaphysical mood”. “Should I kiss the viper’s fang? Or herald loud the death of Man I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought And I ain’t got the power anymore” Sure, there’s gravitas in Bowie’s name-checking of Himmler, Crowley, and Churchill, but it’s within the pageantry of the dreamlike chorus where Bowie offers the greatest conviction: “Don’t believe in yourself, don’t deceive with belief Knowledge comes with death’s release Aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah” If Bowie ever held ‘the power’, he releases it here to the universe – or at least to the responsibility of more earnest rockers. Lennon’s affirmation of ‘that’s reality’ enables Bowie to defer pursuit of reality altogether, delighted to glide along on a jet stream of McCartneysequel syllabic nonsense. Within a few years, Lennon’s earnest mode had developed into an affliction, according to author Greil Marcus. In Mystery Train, Marcus’ diagnosis indicates that ‘Rock ‘n’ roll is suffering from that old progressive school fallacy that says if what you write about is your own feelings, no one can criticize it... This is about as liberating as thinking typecast movie stars are ‘really like’ the roles they play.’ Side Two of ‘Hunky Dory’ opens with Bowie’s bouncy rendition of Biff Rose and Paul Williams’ ‘Fill Your Heart’, which originally appeared as the B-side of Tiny Tim’s ‘Tiptoe Through The Tulips’. Could Bowie have picked a better tune to spoof rock’s pretensions? I doubt it. The inclusion of a cover song also has particular resonance in terms of Bowie’s ambivalence about the rock artist archetype. (By contrast, Lennon included only original compositions on his first four post-Beatles LPs.) Likewise, there is no mistaking how much fun Bowie, Ronson, and others are having on ‘Heart’. Along with the jazzy horns and piano, and the refrain of “freeeee, yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah”, Bowie offers a slight pinch to his vocals to indicate that he’s having a gas and taking the piss. (Bowie’s mastery of his own voice already had few rivals. Bowie was, for producer Ken Scott, “the only singer I ever worked with where virtually every take was a master.”) With the songs (and the sleeve art), Bowie tells his listeners that he’s done with the hippies, and already has turned his sights to the stars – and the sequins. Godspeed, Starman. And, from all the (once) young dudes and gals, thank you.

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REVEALING THEIR DARKEST MATERIAL IN YEARS, PRIMAL SCREAM ARE BACK WITH ‘CHAOSMOSIS’. FERGAL KINNEY FOUND OUT MORE.

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N the mid-1990’s, the French psychotherapist Felix Guattari published a philosophy study subtitled ‘An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm’. Renowned for his works on the relationship between schizophrenia and capitalism, it’s a dry, scholarly piece of work, and unsurprisingly has scant in common with anything in the top 40 at the time, or now. Except its title – ‘Chaosmosis’. “We’d written and recorded the record and mixed quite a lot of it and then I found that word,” explains Bobby Gillespie, lead singer and shaman in chief of Primal Scream: “And I thought it was a great title. It sums up the record, it’s a dark record.” Primal Scream’s eleventh studio album – no small achievement when you consider this band’s extra-curricular activities over the past thirty years – is indeed a dark record, their darkest perhaps since ‘XTRMNTR’. “We are living in dark times, and it’s a good word for these times.” Put side by side with their last record – 2013’s sprawling, critically acclaimed double album ‘More Light’ – it’s a vastly different work. Where ‘More Light’ was a band righteous, defiant and politically exercised, there’s very little actually about the dark times in which we live on ‘Chaosmosis’. Instead, as Bobby points out ominously, “the darkness in the songs is more personal and more psychological.”

Primal Scream are no strangers to re-invention, with ‘More Light’ and now ‘Chaosmosis’ placing the band on the third or perhaps fourth serious purple patch of their career, this is a group that revels on Lazarus-like recoveries. Born in the north Glasgow suburb of Springburn, Bobby Gillespie would devour the record collection of his trade union official father; bands like T-Rex, the Glitter Band and of course, the Rolling Stones. He would soon progress to the darker stuff – groups like MC5, the Stooges and Love, where malevolence and sunshine pop fought for volume. Fast forward to the mid 1980’s, Bobby finally had his own malevolent pop gang, playing drums in the Jesus and Mary Chain, albeit with a jangly indie band called Primal Scream on the side with old schoolfriend Andrew Innes. He would be faced with an ultimatum of choosing the burgeoning Mary Chain or the largely unsuccessful Primal Scream. Primal Scream, setting a pattern for the next few decades, won out.

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wiftly disillusioned with the restrictions of fey indie-pop, the Scream began to return to Gillespie’s formative influences of New York punk and 60’s psychedelia, causing many a cardigan clad indiephile to spit out their green

tea in disgust, but placing them on the right side of a cultural revolution as the dawn of acid house would slaughter shrinking violet indie for a generation. Primal Scream, it would seem, won again. The rest is history – hits like ‘Movin On Up’, ‘Rocks’ and ‘Loaded’, tours once memorably described by Gillespie as “like a drug dealer’s convention” and their era defining LPs like ‘Screamadelica’ and ‘Give Out But Don’t Give Up’. By the time the party was over, Primal Scream were busy making claustrophobic, paranoid electronica like ‘XTRMNTR’ and ‘Vanishing Point’ – the soundtrack to the comedown of their generation as New Labour hopes dissolved into sleaze and illegal foreign wars. A rootsy rock ‘n’ roll record called ‘Riot City Blues’ may have divided critical opinion, but kept the band centre stage, gaining them their first ever top 5 hit in 2006 with ‘Country Girl’. Over the last few years, fuelled by newfound sobriety and a rare look back with 2011’s ‘Screamadelica’ tour, the band are now back to their most intriguing, threatening best. The genesis of ‘Chaosmosis’ begins in 2014. The band were informed that they were to lose the North London studio, in leafy Primrose Hill, in which they had rehearsed, written and recorded for the best part of twenty years. “It was certainly a great way of getting an LP

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“THE THING ABOUT BEING CLEAR HEADED IS THAT YOU KNOW IF SOMETHING’S RUBBISH OR NOT.” ANDREW INNES

going, being told you’re losing your studio,” beams Andrew Innes, Primal Scream guitarist and producer: “Usual thing really, it was a load of like industrial units with TV companies and recording studios, all different little companies, and of course it’s now city flats. Just what the world needs.” “We knew the fucking ball and chain was coming,” sighs Bobby. “What happened was, we got our notice to quit the old place” explains Andrew, “and we had six months. And as usual, when you know you’re losing something it suddenly becomes really important to you. And I think that was the trigger to get in and start working. We got in at the start of January, and by April most of it was written.” For Gillespie – though he’s already happily entrenched at their new headquarters near Oxford Street – the studio was its own piece of important mythology: “We had some great players in there, it had an atmosphere, and it was dirty and it was a proper rock ‘n’ roll studio. I think the studio should be an occult, mysterious, mystical place. Basically I really believe in the mystery and the power of mystery. It was like a gang house. If we were Hells Angels, that would have been where we were, you know what I mean? It was a club house and it was funky.” Any mourning for Primrose Hill quickly translated into hard graft – where most bands would be taking a well earned break on the heels of a world tour and hit album, Primal Scream were vigorously demo-ing for the studio’s swansong record.

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hilst touring ‘More Light’, the band had met up again with Bjorn Yttling of ‘Peter, Bjorn and John’ fame, who also produced the band’s 2008 album ‘Beautiful Future’. He had offered the band use of his Stockholm studio and, with the record at Primrose Hill half recorded, the band decamped to Sweden. “Sonically there’s a lot more electronics on this album than the last one,” says Andrew, “which is good. We edited it quite well. Bjorn is great at the editing thing as well, that’s why it’s handy getting a producer in, they can highlight the good bit, repeat it often and get rid of everything else.” “We used a lot of plugins,” furthers Bobby: “Andrew was using a lot of plugins to get sounds. We weren’t working with the band, it was just me and Andrew. (Bjorn) has got amazing keyboards in his studio, amazing drum machines, he’s got a load of great vintage gear. The only songs that were written on guitars was

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‘Golden Rope’ and ‘Private Wars’. Everything else was written on keyboards.” Crucial to the idea of ‘Chaosmosis’ for Andrew and Bobby was the idea that it would be a sharper, more concise record than their last. “Yeah, ‘More Light’ was like a double vinyl album, 70 minutes long, 13 songs, the first song ‘2013’ was nine minutes long…” says Bobby: “It was quite psychedelic free rock, that record. And Andrew was also of the opinion that we should make a single album, ten tracks. So yeah, that was the idea, to make something a bit more instant and accessible. Not accessible, that’s not the right word, but more pop.” Much of the record’s stark, glacier cool sensibility is down to, as Andrew describes it, having “a lot less musicians” on the record. One standout track in particular is ‘Feelin’ Like A Demon Again’ – a techno driven and downright dark meditation on inflicting hurt and pain on those close. “Well that song came pretty easily,” says Bobby, “as we were writing the song in Stockholm, Bjorn, Andrew and myself, we got the music up and I just began, we got a groove going, and honestly the words from start to finish fucking came out of nowhere. I was writing the words down as I was singing them, it was honestly uncanny. Sometimes you’re like a medium for this stuff, I don’t know where it comes from, it must just be in your consciousness, out there somewhere… Maybe you’re tapping into something and you’re just open to stuff, I just think I’m open to stuff, receptive to stuff, I don’t really question it. I think if I’m put in the right creative situation then I can express myself.” Across Primal Scream’s career, with increasing frequency, the band have pulled in a gaggle of expert collaborators – be it Robert Plant, Bernard Sumner, the Sun Ra Arkestra or their longstanding work with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. The lead single for ‘Chaosmosis’ is ‘When the Light Gets In’, a stunning slice of electro-pop that sees Bobby Gillespie in full Nancy and Lee mode with 23 year old LA pop star Sky Ferreira. How did the collaboration with Sky come about? “If you go back three years I became obsessed by Sky’s record ‘Everything Is Embarrassing’, I was really obsessed with that track, she was in the press over here a lot and I discovered the track and got obsessed by it and late 2013, her album hadn’t been released yet, and that was a big thing, and people had been waiting for it for years or whatever. So I heard some of the tracks and to me she was trying to be like a cross between Suicide and the Mary Chain and because she was so young and

obviously liked cool music, and I found out she was into Dusseldorf and the Mary Chain, and I had the idea that we could work with her. I saw that she was doing co-writes and I thought we could really do something fantastic with her. Fast forward to maybe spring 2014, hanging out having a meal with her American agent and he asks Andrew and myself if we’re going to work with anyone else on the record, I said I’d love to work with Sky Ferreira”. A few phone calls later, it was agreed that Sky would jet from LA to London to join the band the next night in Primrose Hill, where the band introduced her to a semi-finished incarnation of ‘When the Light Gets In’. I put to Bobby that there’s not many artists who can work with Sun Ra on one record and Sky Ferreira on another, to which Bobby lets out a deep belly laugh. “I’ve got to say man, they’re all good artists, they’re all putting out pure fucking energy, y’kna? It’s pure love, to me there’s no difference.” As well as Sky Ferreira, Haim – who appeared with Primal Scream at their 2013 Stones support slot at Glastonbury - appear on ‘Trippin On Your Love’. “We just thought we wanted a bit of California sunshine on the record and they were perfect for that,” says Andrew: “Because they’re sisters and they’ve got that thing, harmony, they do it naturally and they’ve got that great vibe about them and they were more than happy to come in and sing for us. It’s a really weird thing, most of the collaborations we do they just seem to work, we pick people quite well. We wanted a bit of Mamas and the Papas on ‘Trippin On Your Love’ and who’s better than Haim? You try and get three girls from Manchester to sound like that!”

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n sharp contrast to many of their peers – no less than in the apathetic, loadsamoney early ‘90s – Primal Scream have always had a fierce vein of political anger throbbing away throughout their career. In 1992, the band headlined a National Union of Mineworkers concert in Sheffield to raise money for miners amidst that year’s pit closures, whilst Bobby himself has had an enduring and not uncontroversial support for the Palestinian cause. And though – as a long term Glaswegian exile in London – did not get a vote in 2014’s referendum on Scottish independence, the vote went to the heart of a deeper family struggle. In 1988, Bobby Gillespie’s father, Bob Gillespie, nobly fought and lost the Glasgow Govan by-election as the Labour candidate. The SNP made political capital out of Labour’s powerlessness in Westminster to oppose the

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“IT’S A DARK RECORD. WE ARE LIVING IN DARK TIMES.”

BOBBY GILLESPIE

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primal scream hated poll tax, and duly slashed Labour’s majority by 13000. Gillespie lost, and the scenes at Govan were replicated across Scotland last May. I ask Bobby about his feelings on the referendum. “I consider myself more from Glasgow, I’m not into nationalism, I was never a nationalist” he explains, “and I thought the Scottish referendum was tricky, it was very complicated and I didn’t have a vote in it anyway. And it was a tricky thing, I think it’s quite complicated, I don’t think it’s that easy to answer. I don’t live in Scotland for a start. I think a lot of the ‘Yes’ vote was a kind of vote against conservatism and neo-liberal policies, a lot of people in Scotland felt that the Labour party had gone too far to the right and felt deserted by the Labour party. So the SNP cleverly positioned themselves as the party of welfare and the working class and took those old Labour votes. The SNP ultimately are a nationalist party and they’re ultimate aim is nationalism. I don’t actually think it’s socialism. It’s a tricky subject. And I think if Scotland leaves the UK it really fucks the working poor in England. I think you should have solidarity with the working class everywhere, that’s what I really believe in, you should have solidarity with oppressed people everywhere and the nationalist thing has never really done it for me, never has, never will.”

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ut are Primal Scream still motivated by political anger? “I think it’s a fucking hard thing, the politics thing, and ultimately in music it doesn’t make a difference. Nobody cares. We’ve got a class-based anger. I don’t want to alienate anybody. No, take away the class thing, we’re angry. Because nobody should be treated the way this government is treating people. Single parent mothers, unemployed people, sick people, disabled people. Everybody who isn’t rich is getting hammered by these bastards. I’m angry, my friends are fucking angry. All of them are angry. I think it’s, you know, what can you do about it? You feel kind of impotent in the face of neo-liberal capitalism. I don’t know what you can do about it apart from pick up a fucking gun. I’m not saying I would pick up a gun, but it doesn’t feel as though parliamentary democracy actually changes anything. I think you need a worldwide change because the system is geared… Politicians over the world have ceded power to corporations and banks and the wealthy 1% elite. The last thirty years has been the biggest handover of wealth in the history of humanity, that’s a fact, and you know what, the good thing about the Scottish referendum was people were fucking highly politicised up there. Young people, they want what we had.” Does Bobby think that Primal Scream could have existed in a less egalitarian economic climate such as today’s? “When we started the band, for the first year of the band I was in the Mary Chain so I didn’t have to sign on, and twice in my life I was on the Enterprise

Allowance scheme, where you had to show the DHSS that you had a business plan and they would pay you housing benefit and pay you the same amount of money a week as if you were on the dole, and you didn’t have to sign on. So if you were in a band you could tour, you could go to Europe and tour, and for people like me the government was subsidising the arts. The good thing about the welfare state was that people from every background could be subsidised to go to uni or art school or fashion college. Alexander (Lee) McQueen’s dad was a taxi driver, grew up in a tower block in Stepney, the welfare state paid for Lee McQueen through fashion college, they could not afford to do that these days. Louise Wilson, who taught McQueen, she told me that the equivalent of Lee McQueen wouldn’t be able to go to art college now, because only rich people can go, and she was finding that really impossible. She told me that year that she was going to fail 80% of her students because they were there, not because they were good, but because they can afford the tuition fees. And that whole system produced Lee McQueen, John Galliano, Primal Scream, the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, same thing, all on the dole, enterprise allowance. I think Noel was on the Enterprise Allowance scheme. That started under Thatcher believe it or not. Anyway, whatever. I think it would be hell starting a band now.” One of the most striking aspects of the last few years for Primal Scream has been

“NOBODY SHOULD BE TREATED THE WAY THIS GOVERNMENT IS TREATING PEOPLE. EVERYBODY WHO ISN’T RICH IS GETTING HAMMERED BY THESE BASTARDS.” BOBBY GILLESPIE the winding down of a heady sideline in debauchery. Having collected all the medals for drink and drug abuse, by 2008 the band’s extra-curricular activities were beginning to muddle their ambitions. And as when Bobby was forced to chose between Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream once again won out. “When you’re using drugs they call it progressive illness, and what they mean by that is that the longer you use, the disease affects you in a stronger way. You just become more and more fucking damaged. That was certainly the truth in my life, and it was out of control, so I had to stop. And that’s all there is to it. So

I stopped, and that was it. I stopped like eight years ago, and I had a couple of relapses in the first year, so really from 2008 til now. And since then we did the ‘Screamadelica’ tour, ‘More Light’ and now this one. So it’s been good, I’m pleased.”

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ike Paul Weller, who quit drink and drugs at a similar time to Bobby, Primal Scream have gone on to find a renewed impetus and hit a real purple patch being gone from the distractions and exhaustions of substance abuse – is it fair to say that being in a healthier place has been creatively helpful? “Yeah I think me being clean has resulted in me being a sharper, more focused individual, and I’ve widened my frame of reference as a result. And I should be able to apply myself more intensely to the work, and my life is not chaotic anymore in the way it was before. I think, yeah, my thinking isn’t as muddled as it might have been. We still did some good stuff but I think the real focused stuff was ‘XTRMNTR’, ‘Vanishing Point’, but we were using a lot then? You reach a high point where everything still works, and then you reach a point where your life becomes a little less manageable and more chaotic. And your life and your work suffer as a result. It’s not a big deal, but I just changed the way I live my life and I feel better for it. I had a good time, and then I had a bad time, and now I’m having a great time. A lot of people have had the same journey as me.” “The thing about being clear headed,” Andrew is quick to add, “is that you know if something’s rubbish or not. Whereas if you’re clear you just say that’s good and you know it’s good.” Despite every conceivable distraction, the artistic relationship between Bobby and Andrew has been the cornerstone of their professional, even personal, lives. As Andrew points out: “You think Jesus, that’s more than most people’s marriages, or lives!”. For a band that have gone through multiple changes of direction, are they still able to surprise one another musically? “We do constantly surprise each other, I don’t really think too much about it. I just think hey, fucking hell, that was good,” answers Bobby. “Sometimes you spend about three weeks and nothing’s happening, and you think oh God, this might be it,” confesses Andrew, “and then it’s half three on a Friday afternoon and you get a song, and then when it’s nearly time to go home on a Friday… It must be some sort of psychological thing because you’ve done nothing, suddenly you get an idea later on a Friday afternoon, and it’s usually a good one.” Thinking, Bobby points out that ‘Chaosmosis’ is a case-in-point - “We toured ‘More Light’ up until late December 2013, and the first week of January 2014, we were backin the studio writing again. We just love it. We’re artists and we just want to put good work into the world.” ‘Chaosmosis’ is out March 18th on First International/Ignition Records Primal Scream tour the UK in March/April

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“JUXTAPOSITION IN OUR MUSIC SEEMS TO BE A REOCCURRING THEME...” ABE CUNNINGHAM

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DEFTONES

EIGHT ALBUMS INTO A TWENTY SEVEN-YEAR LONG CAREER, CALIFORNIA’S DEFTONES HAVE REINVENTED THEMSELVES WITH ‘GORE’. JAMES SHARPLES FINDS OUT MORE.

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lways an anomaly in the world of heavy metal due to their love of The Smiths and Joy Division, Sacramento’s Deftones have always coloured outside of the lines of their genre. Evolving with each album, from the energetic LA metal of debut ‘Adrenaline’ to the post-shoegaze of ‘White Pony’ to the heavy indie rock flavourings of the more recent ‘Diamond Eyes’ and ‘Koi No Yokan’, latest album ‘Gore’ marks a further tonal shift, with the band creating lush soundscapes rather than traditional ‘songs’. Drummer Abe Cunningham took time out before the album’s release to explain it...

What are the connotations that you personally draw from the title of ‘Gore’? On the face of it there’s the obvious connotations of blood and guts but at the same time you have the connotations of a wound caused by an animal and also there’s the way that you could apply to it human emotions... “To me, right off the bat ‘Gore’ just sounds exciting. It grabs you and lets you know that you’re in for something. Perhaps we’ve been goring each other as bandmates for the better part of twenty seven years, all while having a lovely time. Who knows?”

Structurally, the songs on ‘Gore’ seem more free than Deftones songs in the past, like you’ve moved beyond what’s deemed as ‘traditional’ song structure and instead focused more on creating a feeling rather than just a ‘song’. Was this intentional from the start? “Yes, most definitely. We are certainly hoping to create and evoke a feeling with each song rather than presenting eleven perfectly manicured ‘pieces’. In addition and I’m certain that this is due to the era that we came up in is the idea of making an album that hopefully you drop the needle or press play on and let ride until the end. Preferably with a nice set of headphones!”

How do you approach the songwriting for an album like ‘Gore’? What excited you most about the writing and recording process for it as an individual musician? “As always, I am thrilled to get in the room with my friends and see what we can come up with. I don’t think that we, for better or worse, have ever really gone in with an actual concept or plan to

write an album. The goal is to get together, have fun, throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks.”

we are known for. I think we just like to see what we can get away with.”

Listening to the record there seems to be shades of post-punk and new wave coming through on the likes of ‘Prayers/Triangles’ – with the different personal tastes of Deftones members all going into the songwriting process, how does it work in terms of getting material written?

How much time is spent on sequencing a record like ‘Gore’? Was there a specific place that you wanted to take listeners to on the album?

“There is a tremendous amount of give and take but that’s part of being in a group. The five of us have completely different tastes in music but at the same time do enjoy a lot of similar things. I think this is a good thing as all of these different ingredients combined lead to a tasty musical stew. At the end of the day if one of us really isn’t feeling an idea it tends to get tossed.”

How did the writing and recording differ from ‘Diamond Eyes’ and ‘Koi No Yokan’? It seems like those albums could almost be taken as related albums while ‘Gore’ seems to draw a line under it. “Most definitely. Those two albums are like sister records. This time around we actually broke up the writing period, rather than getting together for a couple of months of solid writing. We would get together for a couple of weeks, then go on tour for a week or so and then go home for a week then repeat then cycle. This actually took longer but was a real nice way to keep things fresh and something that we hadn’t tried before.”

How would you describe the feeling of completing a song? Does the sense of accomplishment differ when comparing the finishing of an individual song to an album? “Completion of a song or album is a wonderful feeling. Sometimes a song pops out in a day, sometimes a week, a month, a year and sometimes never but the feeling of stacking songs with the goal of having an album’s worth of material is the best.”

How important is audio and visual juxtaposition to Deftones? “Juxtaposition in our music and our visuals seems to be a reoccurring theme, most likely due to the five of us trying to cram our influences into a song. I suppose that ‘tranquil beauty vs aggression’ juxtaposition has kind of become what

“Yes, most definitely. Sequencing is such an important part the process - if not the most. It’s one thing to have music that you’re stoked on but but it’s how each song flows into the next and the pauses and the interludes. The timing and placement of these things is so crucial in order to be able to hopefully take the listener on a serious journey. That’s the goal.”

Revisiting your back catalogue, there’s always been that playing with shades of dark and light, that focus on dynamics – would you say that ‘Gore’ is the end result of this? Listening to the album, it’s a heavy album but it seems more heavy in tone, subject and atmosphere rather than just straight up ferocity... I’d imagine that must be quite a hard balancing act to pull off, that intensity coupled with melody? “We’ve been working at refining this for some time now. We truly love it all in terms of tones, textures and style. We are fortunate to be in a rather unique situation and allowed to toy with a lot of different things. Unfortunately you can’t make everyone happy - but we can try.”

Do you feel that, with the tonal shift of ‘Gore’, it might change the way that you interpret songs from, say, ‘Around The Fur’, in a live setting? Or again, is that the love of juxtaposition coming into play, having that sense of dynamics on a grand scale rather than song to song? “Yes, I feel that the new songs fit in just fine with any of our older material and we now have quite a bit to choose from. Writing set lists can be a bit of a pain these days as each of our albums are in different tunings. The challenge now is how to write a kickass, varied set without having to switch out guitars and basses every other song.” ‘Gore’ is out April 8th on Warner Bros. Deftones play London Wembley Arena June 3rd and Download festival June 11th

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“I’M NOT TRYING TO GET ANYWHERE, I’M JUST TRYING TO MAKE THE RIDE ENJOYABLE.” MILES HUNT

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THE WONDER STUFF

25 YEARS ON FROM THEIR CHART TOPPING PEAK, THE WONDER STUFF CONTINUE TO TOUR AND RECORD, LTW HEAD HONCHO JOHN ROBB CATCHES UP WITH HIS OLD PAL MILES HUNT TO DISCOVER THE RECIPE FOR THEIR LONGEVITY.

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UKEBOX bands are such a British thing. These are the groups who effortlessly write classic pop – The likes of T Rex and the Buzzcocks, who sit amid a lineage of classic guitar bands. Fronted by the charismatic Miles Hunt, the Wonder Stuff are one of those groups. They burst out in the late eighties, had a flurry of hits and fell apart before becoming a vehicle for Miles to curate his pop gems and release new albums to keep the fires burning. Longevity is a curious beast. Not so long ago, music just didn’t hang around that long – the Rolling Stones were looked on as being long past their sell-by dates by the time they reached their late twenties and in 1977 punk bands fibbed about their ages. So what is a poor boy meant to do when the youthful flush of success flushes? The smart ones, like Miles Hunt, keep creative by maintaining a solo career that runs parallel to recording new Wonder Stuff albums and touring the back catalogue. By nature, Midlanders are predisposed to pricking at pomposity. Miles Hunt is typical of this; his band were lumped in with the ill defined grebo movement, largely on the basis of the fact that they didn’t take themselves too seriously. This served to obscure the fact that Hunt is a consummate songwriter who managed to splice the Pistols’ sulphuric wit to boot stomping glam and British folk, before garnishing the confection with an indie pop topping. He first came onto my radar in the spring on 1983 when he was drumming for his band From Eden, who supported my band, the Membranes, at Stafford Poly. We let the young oiks have our dressing room night. They teased and hair sprayed their follicles into disheveled bird nests and we cheered them on through their raucous set. Today, Miles has been through the London pop star treadmill,

had hits, toured with his solo stuff and found a niche as a respected musician. He intermittently leaves his Shropshire bolt hole to dip his toe back into the bigger for Wonder Stuff reunions, as the group dust down the hits for their loyal fans.

Miles, as the de facto Wonder Stuff curator, how do you choose the setlist? “It’s through the magic of social media to be honest. I put up a question on Twitter and Facebook saying, ‘If you’re coming to these 30th anniversary shows, what songs do we absolutely have to play?’ To be honest, I was quite relieved it wasn’t obscure B-sides. Everyone seemed quite onside with everything they were going for. I think I’ve learnt over the years that it’s not even the singles that are the popular ones with our audience; it’s album tracks. They always want ‘Ten Trenches Deep’, which we always close with, and ‘Poison’, ‘Can’t Shape Up’, ‘Here Comes Everyone’ – none of which were singles. I wasn’t surprised, but I was relieved as this line-up can probably play about 25 or 30 Wonder Stuff songs and I was worried they’d have to learn another 25 or 30 songs. It was the list that we kind of do as a set anyway. It was just things like, ‘Do we phone Vic Reeves up and see if he wants to come and do ‘Dizzy’ with us?’, ‘Do people want to hear us do ‘Dizzy’?’ I can take or leave it. But it’s not been hard; the audience seems on the same page. You do a tour like this to entertain the audience. I could happily stay at home and entertain myself. You may as well try and do the songs that they like.”

When you go out and do The Wonder Stuff again after doing your other things, do you get a different sense of things? “I think the O2 Academy suggested we

did album gigs and we did 20 years of three albums over three or four years and that taught me a lot, because you had to do that album as that was how it was advertised. It taught me what songs worked live and watching the audience going off to songs like ‘Play’ and ‘Them, Big Oak Trees’, which I didn’t dislike but never really stayed in the set. The reaction taught me they like the chorus up front, over 150rpm and not too long. After that we went to write our last album, ‘Oh No It’s... The Wonder Stuff’, I tried to write songs for the audience and make it fucking lively. Save your dreary acoustic whinings for later on.”

Is the Wonder Stuff where you’re at, or just a hat you put on? “We’ve just finished this new album and the songs are me. Of course I don’t run around my house just grinning, which is what I tend to do on stage these days. But I think the essence of the band is there. When you’re done with an album and it’s all mastered you often don’t want to listen to it because you’ve been hearing it so much, but last night I managed to listen to it and really enjoy it as an album. I think that it sounds like a Wonder Stuff record. I’m the Wonder Stuff and the Wonder Stuff is me. I don’t know that I’ve changed as a songwriter. I still work in the same framework. You get the geezer from Radiohead or Damon from Blur writing a fucking opera or ballet and I’ve never felt like that. I’m still happy writing three or four minute rock or pop songs with choruses. I think with the old songs, they don’t belong to me anymore. I handed them over to the audience a long time ago and they belong to them. My relationship to those old songs these days, is that I’m the custodian and I need to make sure they’re played with the respect and energy as when they were first played live.”

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“I’M QUITE HAPPY WITH WHAT WE’VE GOT. YOU’VE GOT TO ENJOY IT.” There was a time when the Wonder Stuff was bigger than bands like Radiohead and Blur but they keep putting out new albums and doing really well, did you find that frustrating? “Not at all, because I wouldn’t want their world and to exist in that world. I’m really happy with where the Wonder Stuff are and it keeps me busy. My default setting is bone idle. I live the life I want to live and I still haven’t had to go and get a job. I’d hate to have to live in London and have to talk to promotions people all the time. When the Wonder Stuff were at our most commercially successful, I didn’t really like how things had turned out. I found myself constantly in conversations with managers or record companies saying to me, ‘We’ve got this commercially successful, how can we get more?’ I didn’t want more, I’d already got more than I ever dreamt I’d have. I think I know what the life of millions-selling bands are like and I wouldn’t want that life at all. I like the music side of being in a band and I hate everything else that goes with it.”

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When you look back, do you regret stopping the band in 1994? “I couldn’t have carried on because I couldn’t have spent any more time in the company of those people. I was going to rehearsals or getting on a tour bus and I just hated every single one of them. They weren’t people I would have socialised with and I didn’t want to be around them. We’d stopped functioning as a creative unit, everything was difficult when it came to doing our job, which was writing music. I think things would be different if we hadn’t taken those six years off, obviously. Polydor Records at the time said, ‘Miles, what’s your problem?’ I just explained. They offered for me to take a year off and told me they wouldn’t expect anything from me for that year and if I wanted to fire anybody in the band just let us know. I thought I couldn’t spend a year re-evaluating, knowing I had to come back to it and I absolutely had to walk away from it and have it out of my life to clear my head and find out what was next. It was cool for Polydor to

offer that but I couldn’t do it. “Do I regret it? No, because in those six years I did other things that I never would have done in my life. I did Vent 414, made an acoustic solo record, and toured around America in a car for the best part of nine months. It was fucking brilliant and I wouldn’t trade those things for keeping the Wonder Stuff going. The only reason would have been for commercial success and I’m not motivated by that. I think things would have been different; if you look at bands like the Levellers or the Charlatans that have steadily kept it going and they may have taken years off where they’ve not actually said they were doing that. Perhaps we should have done that and we’d have a bigger audience now. I don’t know, I’m quite happy with what we’ve got. You’ve got to enjoy it.”

How was it when you initially reformed in 2000? “Me and Malc [Treece], the guitarist, had started working together again, doing some acoustic gigs, and were getting on a little bit

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without the people that have been in it over the years – But the decisions of what to do next, the sound or even the setlist were and are mine.”

You’ve done the diaries, the book and the old songs. Does it take you back? “No, not really because it’s all felt like normal time. I have curious little reactions to things – On the Wonder Stuff Facebook somebody had commented on our tour poster and had connected it to an old school friend who was not aware we were still going and who’d said, ‘Wow, the Wonder Stuff. That takes me back!’ That’s a bit weird for me to read because it’s been my life. I don’t look back at the old days as the old days, it’s just more of this. The band might have featured in their lives for one summer when they went to Reading festival and haven’t been to gigs since but for me it’s ever-present.”

You recorded the new album back in Stourbridge? “We recorded the album back in Stourbridge, which was not the plan, it was accidental. We met some young guys who had built a studio and we had a look at it and decided it would be great to record there. The live sound engineer, who was our original live sound engineer in 1988, has gone on to have a successful hard rock and metal production career, producing Napalm Death and the Wildhearts. He’s recently become our sound engineer again and he’s from Stourbridge but no longer lives there. Then I was finishing off the album and phoning up old mates that I don’t see enough and going to the pub with them and feeling my accent slip into a Black Country twang that isn’t mine and talking about the same stuff. It was great being back in Stourbridge and recording there. It wasn’t planned but it was all happy accidents and all roads lead back to Stourbridge.” better. The other lot saw how much money might go into their pockets, so they were very good at being two faced. It lasted about two years. The two Martins [Gilks and Bell] played me basically. They made out that they were actually my friends when they weren’t and that they were there for the money. As soon as the money wasn’t coming in they dropped me. I don’t have happy memories of that time but I’m glad we did get it back together. There’s been a few different line-ups since then and each one has been brilliant. The last 12 or 13 years of the band has been the best, in terms of enjoying it.”

What makes the Wonder Stuff now? Does it matter who is in the band? “Yeah, it probably matters that I’m in it! Mark [McCarthy], our bass player, has been in the band for thirteen years now. That original period when people got to know the band was only seven and a half years – ‘86 to ‘94. It’s the songs, the sound, the performance of

the old songs and the new songs that sound like they belong with the old songs but with something new. If I’m absolutely honest, after ‘The Eight Legged Groove Machine’ it was my thing. Each change in the sound was me. Gilksy never came into the room and said, ‘Let’s start working with samplers’. It wasn’t Malc who said, ‘Let’s get a violinist and have Miles start playing more acoustic’. All of that was me. Everyone went along with it, with various degrees of happiness. “‘Eight Legged...’ was definitely four young men shooting in the same direction and very much relying on each other’s skills. I had my socialist upbringing and I was writing the majority of the songs, but everything that was coming in was always split completely equally. Then you’ll have one guy thinking, ‘I don’t need to put as much effort in because Miles seems happy to and I’ll get paid anyway’, and it’s no longer the happy socialist unit. Things start to chip away at it. From ‘Hup’ on, it was me pulling it all along. I couldn’t have done it

Did returning there have an effect on the songwriting as well? “I think it has. There’s a lot of loss, there always is when you get to our sort of age, with Martin [Gilks] and Bob [Jones] being dead. I think about them a lot, more in recent years because of writing the book and because my relationship wasn’t good with Martin particularly when he died. When I was writing about him for the book part about the first four years of the band it was really nice to remember the Martin I did get on with and I achieved so much with. A lot of the lyrics are reflective, the title track of ‘30 Goes Around the Sun’ has a blurb written with it saying, ‘I wish I’d known when I was younger that it wasn’t about the destination’. I’m glad I know that now, I’m not trying to get anywhere, I’m just trying to make the ride enjoyable.” The Wonder Stuff tour the UK in March/April ‘30 Goes Around The Sun’ is out 18th March on PledgeMusic

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GREG ANDERSON (PIC PETER BESTE)

JAMES SHARPLES CHATS TO GOATSNAKE AND SUNN O))) SONIC ARCHITECT GREG ANDERSON ABOUT THE BIRTH OF SOUTHERN LORD, THE FRUSTRATIONS OF VINYL PRODUCTION AND HOW THE “COMMON THREAD OF INTENSITY” ALL COME INTO PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO PRODUCING SOME OF THE MOST VITAL RECORDS IN UNDERGROUND MUSIC.

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great but it’s also important to do these archival releases where these musicians maybe didn’t have a platform at the time or nobody cared and to document it properly.”

Can to be a weird line to walk, listening to music as a fan on one hand and as ‘work’ on the other?

“I

’M always seeking out new music,” confesses the Southern Lord head as he sits in his office in Los Angeles: “I’ve always been like that, ever since I was a kid and I first got into underground music in the ‘80s.” Accompanied by a background of blast beats that intermittently cut in and out, he explains how Southern Lord was born out of a kind of necessity for himself and partner Stephen O’Malley (also of Sunn O))), you can read the interview with the band in our previous issue): “In the mid 1990s I was playing music with Stephen – we had a couple of bands together: Thor’s Hammer and Burning Witch. Those bands made some recordings but disbanded not too long after those recordings were made. At the time we didn’t have any intention to do anything with the recordings other than just document the groups as they were happening. I’d moved from Seattle

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to LA and some people I’d started playing music with here were really enthusiastic about the recordings and were bugging me about them coming out. One of the guys I was playing with loaned me the money to put them out. At the time our aspirations were very modest and minimal – we thought it’d be cool to get these documents out there. It was the strong reaction that we got that inspired us to do some more and keep it going. It started off very modestly, with no grand plan, like ‘These are cool records we think people should hear’.”

How important is it to leave a musical imprint or indeed a documentation of music compared to, say, straight up record sales Greg? “I’d be lying if I said that the business isn’t important and that we don’t take it seriously and work hard on it but there’s this obsessive enthusiasm for underground music that drives us to do this stuff. There’s a lot of records we put out where there’s a limited audience for it and that’s not really a concern for us. Sometimes it bites us in the ass, sure, but it’s more about releasing records we feel very passionate about. To this day, the records that we do, we put out a lot of new releases from bands we think are

“It has been difficult for me because I have to watch my enthusiasms sometimes. If I was able to put out everything I like... I don’t have the resources to do that and sometimes you have to make more careful decisions about what you do. As far as finding new bands goes, there’s been a ton where the recording’s been amazing but, for me, what I make a lot of my decisions on is the live show and if they can pull it off. It’s a lot easier to make a great sounding record these days. The technology has become a lot more user friendly and widely available. It’s starting to breed bands because they can make these recordings. But that doesn’t necessarily mean everybody should be listening to them.”

Is there any specific things you look for when it comes to working with a band? “Really it just boils down to if it blows me away or not. I definitely take lyrics into consideration and how the band presents themselves, the whole package. There’s been a lot of music where I’ve just made the decision to be a fan about it – you can save yourself a lot of grief!

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SOUTHERN LORD SUNN O))) (PIC JAVIER VILLEGAS)

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really need a 180g deluxe vinyl version of the ‘Sixteen Candles’ soundtrack? Or the 100th reissue of Bob Dylan farting into his harmonica? Come on.”

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There’s no specific criteria, it changes a lot. Our releases five years ago compared to now, things change and I hate to use the word ‘trend’ but there has been a stylistic change here and there but I try not to stick with one specific style. I remember when we started a lot of people labelled us as just a doom metal label – we did a lot of releases like that but then I got a lot of criticism when we started releasing black metal records and that sort of style and I just thought it was strange people would get upset over that, saying ‘this label’s not true anymore’ because I’d put out some records with a different style. The same thing’s happened in the last couple of years putting out hardcore and crust records. It’s an underground music label and I’m not really concerned about one specific genre – if it’s great music it’s great music. I don’t think we’d be where we are today if we didn’t take some chances and release some differentsounding records.”

With the variety of releases over the years, what would you say is the common thread that links, say Earth, Wolves In The Throne Room and Nails as Southern Lord bands? “I would say a common thread is intensity. That’s one of the things that drew me to underground music and really the metal and hardcore scenes. I think a lot of the music we release transcends that, bands like Pelican, Earth and Sunn O))). it’s not necessarily metal or hardcore. I think that’s what attracts me to underground music – you can tell when a band is passionate. To me it’s magnetic and it’s common with the bands we work with. I like to think that a lot of the people that follow the label get that too. We see it in the mail

order side where people will order an Earth record and in their shopping cart will also be a Wolf Brigade record or there’s this new band we’ve started working with that’s amazing called BIG|BRAVE that could be compared to Mazzy Star and My Bloody Valentine but very heavy at the same time, or Sleep or Wolves In The Throne Room. Diverse shopping carts, I love that. To me that means that somebody’s getting it, that they’re on the same page as we are.”

I’m guessing you’ve probably had a lot of fan moments with Southern Lord... “There’s been a lot. Getting to work with Dylan Carson and getting to do the Earth records was huge for me, working with Wino on some of his projects, working with Matt Pike (Sleep/ High On Fire)... That keeps me motivated, looking back at some of those moments. I can remember when I first got into some of those bands. I never thought I’d have the chance to be involved in releasing their music and being hopefully some help. That’s an honour.”

What have you got coming up in the near future?

What’s the biggest hurdle facing Southern Lord these days? “Production, getting the record to the manufacturer and then actually getting the record done by the manufacturer - I’m speaking mostly about vinyl here. There was a decline in vinyl pressing plants and machines starting right from when the CD was produced. A lot of them closed down and a lot of the vinyl pressing machines weren’t maintained and became unusable. And now there’s this huge boom and people have been trying to get these old machines, these dinosaurs up and running again. It’s been like this insane comedy of errors where skeleton crews have been overwhelmed and can’t deal with it. In a nutshell, the turnaround times and production for vinyl has been a nightmare really. Especially for the indies. Once the major labels realised they could make some money off their catalogue they started flooding the manufacturers, trying to push themselves to the front of the line. It’s really pushed the indies out of the picture which has been really painful.”

“We’ve got a couple of really cool things coming up. We’re reissuing all the recordings of this band in the ‘90s called Wolfpack (now Wolf Brigade) which are out of print. There’s a new band from Chicago called Like Rats that’s really great – more death metal influenced, very Celtic Frost and Obituary. I feel like this is the first time ever for the label where in January we kind of have a full schedule already for the rest of the year...” For more information on Southern Lord Records visit Southernlord.com

Do things like Record Store Day have an impact as well? “When it first started my impression was it was sort of a celebration of independent labels but the majors crushed that, flooding it with ridiculous releases and boxsets. There’s a real lack of quality control there. Whatever piece of audio there is they’re going to try and milk it. Do we

PELICAN

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Photo: Paul Slattery

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S the plate of pasta flew across the room, Liam’s face finally started to explode. Contrary to the public persona and the two-dimensional manner in which the tabloids portray him, Liam is a laid back, very smart guy with the kind of explosive undertow that anyone brought up in the north and regularly informed that they will amount to nothing develops. Sometimes the fists do the talking; sometimes attitude does the walking – most of the time, the smartness gets missed out as the cardboard cutout cliche dominates perceptions. Tonight, he had remarkably and patiently endured the banter from the young band that I was producing; the excellent and long lost Cable – whose critically acclaimed, John Peel approved album ‘Up Life The Down Trodden’ had come together very quickly in the studio up the road. By chance, we were visiting Oasis recording their classic ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ album and, initially, things had been going swimmingly. Liam had invited us over to Rockfield after I had bumped into him in the local village. He gave the band free drinks and was the congenial rock ‘n’ roll party host. A few drinks in and Cable were starting to get a bit giddy as the good vibes kicked in as we were listening to the new Oasis album. It was first time anyone outside the band and its producer had heard the album, and it sounded great: an avalanche of euphoric, big guitar rock ‘n’ roll that had a terrace swagger and take-theworld optimism. This was a pop moment – here we were, Cable and me, like a 1990’s equivalent of a brilliant leftfield young group like Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band and their punk rock warlord producer being invited to listen to the first playback of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ in 1967 – but ending up throwing pasta around and bitching about the record, before scrapping with Lennon as the producer tried to play peacemaker. How did we get to this point of madness? This is a tale of the long lost nineties, dimly remembered gigs, mouldy rehearsal rooms and the dying days of rock ‘n’ roll really mattering to people. I had already known Noel Gallagher for a long

time. Years later we would occasionally reminisce about this and Noel would talk of the ‘50’; the 50 people that would go to every gig in town. He was one of them and I was another. We were music fanatics who checked stuff out. We didn’t do genres, we did music: Noel was younger than everyone else in this strange crowd of fanatical music heads, all on nodding terms amid the high-decibel small Manchester venues such as the Boardwalk, the International, and sometimes the Hacienda. He would turn up with his red tinted Lennon glasses, exuding street style, and lurk in the corner observing intently. I can’t remember how we got talking, but he was always a pleasure to hang out with. His knowledge of music was quite stunning and we had many conversations about Beatles bootlegs and far deeper and more obscure scraps of musical exotica. When such obsessives meet, the minutiae of music gets tooth combed. I would be reviewing gigs in the Boardwalk, International and sometimes bigger venues for Sounds and he would be there observing and thinking and learning. He was a cool motherfucker even then, but there was no indication that he was going to be big time. He then started working for the Inspirals and the standing joke amongst the ’50’ ran, ‘What does Noel actually do for the Inspiral Carpets?’ You would see the great Oldham band lugging their gear into the venue, while Noel sat on an amp somewhere not doing too much. Perhaps it was for show, because he was a cool kid and certainly not anyone’s rock ‘n’ roll butler. At the same time, he had a respect for the band, whose lynchpin Clint Boon already had the air of an indie guru about him.

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ometimes, deep into the night, I would bump into Noel in New Mount Street – the studio and office complex in town where I had a mini recording studio. He was looking after the Inspiral Carpets t-shirts, which would flood out of their lock-up and into the corridor. The band had oddly became latter day mill owners, dressing the world in northern cotton. Albeit with the word ‘fuck’ on it. Not long after, Noel told me he had joined his brother’s band. A little later, he gave me their first demo when I bumped into him on Whitworth Street in the city centre of Manchester. I felt a bit sorry for him at that point in time – not because of the demo, which crackled with great songs – Noel was a kid lost in the rock ‘n’ roll dream; the only escape from the grey skies of reality.

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OPPOSITE PAGE: L-R: Noel Gallagher, Paul ‘Guigsy’ McGuigan, Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, Liam Gallagher, Tony McCarroll

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But despite the great songs, it seemed like it was going to be tough. Manchester was over according to the music business, and it was going to be hard for anyone to get a break. This kind of thinking has always baffled me – the good shit should always leak out, but then I’ve got racks of demos of other great mad-eyed dreamers that everyone ignored and I hoped Noel was not going to end up being one of those. Of course, Oasis would go on to storm it: The classic popularist band that got people voting with their feet, irrespective of the hype for other groups. Years later, Noel told me that “The music business had set the stage for Britpop and Blur were going to be the main guests – and then we turned up and they never forgave us for it”.

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efore all the madness Oasis had started practicing in the Boardwalk – the key Manchester city centre rehearsal room where everyone used to spend hours in its damp encrusted cellars. They moved in next door to the room that my band Goldblade were using – in a weird mirror image moment of ten years earlier, when the Stone Roses rehearsed for hours alongside my former band the Membranes. Oasis were even more dedicated than the Roses; spending hours on the same riff. Endlessly working on the grinding slab of rock ‘n’ roll noise at the beginning of their unlikely cover of ‘I Am The Walrus’ – a song that I loved, but couldn’t imagine anyone ever doing a version of until I heard the great, prowling, menacing thing next door, sounding like Lennon’s Lewis Carroll acid freak show grinding through a neo-Sex Pistols ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ crank. Just as I had with the Roses, I needed to go next door and borrow a guitar string. Oasis were really friendly, supplying the string, then blasting through a couple of songs for me. You could tell at that point that they were going to make some sort of impact despite the corporate climate; they didn’t sound like a local band or a hobby group, this was a serious noise and if it was out of sync with the times that was going to matter little. Like the Roses a few years before, they had the attitude and self-belief to make things happen. The rehearsal room looked really lived in. The band had painted a mural on the wall – a union jack collage affair, and there was football graffiti everywhere; all Man City versus

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Man United stuff. This had spread down the corridor and had engaged another rehearsing band, the New Fast Automatic Daffodils, in a jocular felt-tipped war of words. Years later, the rehearsal rooms were getting turned into offices and the new bosses proudly showed me the sandblasted walls where they had scrubbed all the graffiti off of, and turned into one of those fake polished brickwork spaces. They had missed a trick of keeping what would now be a genuine artefact of Manc street art – a high decibel Banksy created by the most famous minstrels in the land I also saw a few of Oasis’ early shows; like at In The City when they played to a near empty bar on Whitworth Street. The bar is long gone now and the gig is a foggy memory but they sounded massive and Liam had his thing down. I even wrote about them early on, it was their first or second mention; I tipped them for one of the bands who were going to make it in a list of bands for Melody Maker. I remember Noel being chuffed by the coverage, which soon seemed incongruous as they set about racking up column inches by the yard.

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ne of the fascinating things about Noel has always been his connection to the local band scene. Just after Oasis broke, I bumped into him a big festival among a crowd of local musicians. Ever affable, he chatted to members of Dub Sex asking how things were going for them – when he left they looked baffled, not knowing who he was. Years later, he booked the great Twisted Wheel to support

Oasis after seeing them on a local Manchester TV show on his home computer. Once Alan McGee signed Oasis, we all knew they would make it and that Noel would leave the ‘50’. It was the perfect combination; McGee was crazy and brilliant enough to handle the band. He was also steeped in music and combined this with a smart business mind as well as a brilliant eye for trouble. Instead of panicking as Oasis stirred up the media currents, he would revel in it. It was pretty exciting to hear about the hook up, and at that point you kinda knew that this was not going to be a normal indie band thing. A committed maverick, McGee had pulled off the neat trick of ensuring that Creation was both sufficiently independent, yet conversely major enough to make the whole thing fall into place. With Noel’s songs and Liam’s charisma they had everything – the avalanche was gathering impetus. I only bumped into them intermittently after that. There was a small club gig in Amsterdam just before they went supernova where we hung out. Then there was the gig in a park in Preston when Noel asked his press officer why I had not written about them much. By then they were on the fast track and the London media wanted them. Us mere northern types who knew the story were brushed aside while the mainstream press conducted their brief love affair with the band. It had been some time then when we finally ran into one another again. As well as writing, I was now producing – getting pulled in to create a raw, live sound for bands

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OASIS that wanted it. Cable were this really great young group from Derby and they made this powerful yet dislocated rock. Label boss Korda Marshall had already tried to get me to work with Sleeper, but that hadn’t come together as the band wanted a poppier sound. Later, he came back with Cable and we went to Monnow Valley studio, which was about a mile away from Rockfield, where Oasis were now recording the follow up to their epoch making debut.

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oth studios ooze rock ‘n’ roll. They have the classic country piles atmosphere that can make for great art or intense madness, as council estate kids get given the keys to establishment luxury and go crazy. The two studios were run by feuding brothers Kingsley and Charles Ward. They’d known Joe Meek when he was growing up in nearby Newent and were quite possibly more eccentric than any of the bands they booked in. The Cable session went down fast. The live room in Monnow Valley (where Oasis had done their early recordings) was a gift for any band who wanted that live drum sound. To celebrate the fast progress we went up to the nearby village of Rockfield (where Mani from the Roses was living) to sit in a pub and chill out. In order to get back, we got the pub to ring the only taxi in the village. A minibus turned up with a couple of crazy girls in it and a figure that I couldn’t make out in the dark slumped over the front seat. I was sat behind the figure and I started messing about with Cable who were in high spirits as the two crazy girls shrieked at each other. The figure then turned round and from under his fringe grinned, ‘Fuck me it’s John Robb … what are you doing here?’ It was Liam. We started chatting and he then invited us up to Rockfield to hang out with Oasis. Noel was in the studio putting finishing touches to ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ and Cable’s drummer wandered over to jam with him while we sat in Guigsy’s room with Liam. The bass player got stoned while playing Monopoly – a situation that sort of sums up the hours of hanging around that is a reality of rock ‘n’ roll life. After about an hour, Liam popped out to get a cassette of the album. He stuck it on the stereo in the front room and turned it up to full. It sounded great, full of explosive life and surging like the best British street music cranked up to the max. Liam’s vocal captured the confident swagger of the times as is poured into the room like liquid noise. ‘Hello’ sounded monstrous; like all the good times rolled into one.The crazy girls were dancing around, Liam was nodding his head and I was glowing with the power of the music. It was at this point that Cable’s young guitarist, Darius – who had been swigging whisky from a bottle he had been given – decided to tell Liam that the

album sounded like the Beatles and that he didn’t like it. The drink was talking louder than the normally timid Darius and everyone looked up. Luckily, Liam laughed it off – he just wanted a good time listening to his brilliant new album, but Darius was now emboldened by the demon alcohol and began to push the point. Staggering across the room, he told Liam that the album was ‘Shit’. Oddly, Liam still didn’t seem to care and remained quite charming. That was until the pasta flew across the room. Not at Liam directly, but just at random. The tray crashed on the floor and the pasta became airborne. Too much whisky had gone down and the Cable boys were getting a bit untogether.

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s a non drinker I was suddenly in the odd position of having to play ‘Dad’ on a school trip gone wrong. I tried to gather the band together to get them back to Monnow Valley but it was too late. The tension had gone through the roof and Liam was going berserk; ‘I will lay the whole lot of you out…’ he snapped, prowling the room. I thought the whole thing was pretty funny. You don’t spend years in rock ‘n’ roll without seeing this sort of stuff go on, and to be honest I couldn’t really blame Liam for getting pissed off. As we tried to leave, someone decided there was going to be a kangaroo court and the trial of the pasta thrower was going to take place outside, in front of the studio building. I decided that this was not going to happen and shoved Cable collectively down the drive after a couple of punches were swung at them. As we reached the bottom of the drive, we could hear these weary feet running down the driveway. Then, the shirtless Bonehead appeared and offered to fight us all. I told him it was late and time to get Cable back to Monnow Valley, so he pottered back up the drive – when I bump into him these days we still laugh about this. All hell broke loose once we got back. Someone claimed that Oasis were coming down

the road on their scooters with shotguns that they had hired and Darius burst into tears – These were alcohol tears and we sent him to bed sobbing like a naughty child. The next day, the cleaners told us that it had kicked off down at Rockfield, and that Noel had come out of the studio and had asked where I was to say hello, then he and Liam had ended up in a huge fight that saw the brothers rolling around in the rose bushes. Noel had quit the band and gone back to London, and the album was put on hold. In the studio downtime, Korda Marshall had got new signing Ash in at half price to record their first single. Up the road, we carried on with the Cable album. It came out great and set them up to do really well until their career was paralysed when they fell out with their manager a couple of years later. It was a shame, as they were a truly great band. In the meantime, Oasis finished ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ and became the biggest band in the UK. I still bump into them now and then and we laugh about that night – A legendary and hilarious incident from a tumultuous career and a tale from the heart and the heat of the moment when they were at the top of their game. And from there, the rest is history as they took the year of 1996 and made it their own...

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BEHIND OASIS’ BIGGEST YEAR LAY A FEELING OF NATIONAL OPTIMISM THAT CHANGED BRITAIN AND SAW THEM ACHIEVE UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS OF CULTURAL DOMINANCE. LTW’S DICK PORTER EXAMINES THE ZEITGEIST.

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N 1996, Britain was growing in confidence. Undercurrents of national optimism had been building for some years, propelled onward by such events as the second Summer of Love, the feel good factor generated by the 1990 World Cup, and the fall of Thatcher. The climate of fear that had begat punk’s dissent and the outsider introspection of the Smiths had been warmed by the dehydrating heat of MDMA. Love was all around. As the final decade of the twentieth century got into its stride, rock ‘n’ roll reacted to the fin de siècle spirit in a variety of ways. Waves of baggy hedonism swept south from Manchester, while in the capital, Suede evoked Wildean pessimism and exotic decadence. Elsewhere, dancehalls throbbed to the pulsing polyrhythms emanating from a bewildering number of fastdeveloping house scenes. What connected these sequential phenomena is that they were unabashed. None of the participants had any time for looking at the floor and mumbling about their parents not loving them. This was confident music, and it was beginning to look as if we were heading for more confident times – within the narrow margins of its constricted political spectrum, Britain had moved a micron to the left, as Tony Blair emerged as the benevolent face of capitalism. Particularly in England, this kind of thing only tends to happen when folk are feeling plucky. After Suede took their position at the end of rock ‘n’ roll’s ever lengthening lineage, that line duly extended into its future to incorporate the Britpop phenomena. Like any scene that graduates from the music press to the national media, it was contrived and manipulated. Oasis and Blur were portrayed as heavyweight prize fighters, pitched against one another for superiority and available on Sky pay-per-view. In confident times, there was only ever going to be one victor. Blur may have been smarter,

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but that mattered little – no one likes a clever fucker. Oasis had it larger, swaggered harder and represented the ubiquitous kids on the street far more convincingly than any band since maybe Slade, or even the Beatles. If you lived in a tower block, you might have known a Lydon or Strummer, but they’d have been a marginal outsider. Everyone had a mate who was a bit like Liam or Noel. They were The Lads. Projected large across the national backdrop, they became icons of aspiration for the Loaded generation. Always uncomfortable with any notion of being assimilated into a scene, Oasis had moved very visibly into a state of singularity, transcending Britpop by the tidy trick of simply continuing to do their own thing. At the beginning of 1996 they stood in glorious isolation, with ‘(What’s The Story)’ Morning Glory’ as the Number One album – where it remained (aside from a week’s interruption by the Bluetones’ ‘Expecting To Fly’ in mid-February) until the 17th of March. Oasis’ popularity had transcended the music fan demographic. The media had embraced them as the rebels from two doors down, and anyone who was up for a little non-conformity was having some of that. “The press have always needed a bad-boy, dirty, druggy rock ‘n’ roll band,” observed Noel: “Before us, pop stars were becoming arty-farty, limpwristed, fey bastards like Brett Anderson from Suede. We’re not that wised-up on books in Oasis, but we know what’s what. And the press will always need a band who speak their mind.” The Gallaghers may not have known their way around French Symbolist poetry, but they were sussed. They understood that the media was setting them up for a subsequent dressing down and duly treated its advances with suspicion and caution. For now though, they largely remained in the ‘cheeky Northern rogues’ pigeonhole as tales of defenestrated Scandinavian hotel rooms were

presented with a nod and a wink. The tide turned slightly after the Brit Awards on the 19th of February, where the band took pops at Blur and Michaels Hutchence and Jackson, swore a bit and pretended to poke the awards they’d just been handed up their bums. “The music press thought we were great, but the national newspapers said we were a disgrace to our country. Which is fine by me, because our country is a disgrace to us,” retorted Noel. The same day had seen the release of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. The fifth single culled from ‘Morning Glory’, it shot straight to Number One at a time when the October 1995 issued ‘Wonderwall’ was still firmly embedded the UK Chart. All of which left Noel striking the tone of a man who saw no new frontiers to conquer. “I wouldn’t say I envy bands who’ve not had the success we did, but I still liked it better when we had to go and prove ourselves to people and didn’t have a Number One album – when that was something to reach for. Everything seems to be coming really fuckin’ easy at the moment. I’ve only got to fuckin’ fart and it gets into the Top 10. It stifles the interest at times – You know what’s going to happen to it before it comes out.”

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s for so many before them, Oasis’ new frontier was America. Rather than embarking on the kind of sustained campaign to crack the States that had derailed Slade’s onward momentum twenty years earlier, Oasis played it cool and made three short visits during 1996. “You get to a certain level, the record company are gonna want you to come and fuckin’ camp here and that’s physically not possible,” explained Noel. “No matter how big we are, if it comes down to England and America, it’s like, ‘Fuck you guys.’ I’d rather just stay big in England. Financially, it’s no problem. We’re not gonna sacrifice everything just for America. We’re from England.” The band’s dominance of their homeland was duly underlined with a sextet of landmark gigs, which began with two shows at Maine Road in late April. Then home to pre-oligarch era Manchester City, this was Oasis’ circus maximus – a statement from the seat of their empire. Coming home, like the football. The shows at Loch Lomond, and most significantly, Knebworth served to press the stamp of dominion across the length of their island kingdom. Over four percent

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Oasis 1995 Photo: Paul Slattery

NIRVANA OASIS

“I CAN SAFELY SAY WE WON’T BE GOING ANY FUCKING BIGGER THAN THIS.” NOEL GALLAGHER

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What happened next... 1997

Starting the writing and recording process once again in 1996, work on Oasis’ highly anticipated third album saw a change within the dynamic of the group, with the working class crew now being invited to functions at 10 Downing Street by Tony Blair and holidays with the rich and infamous. “Noel went away with Kate Moss and Johnny Depp and he came back with these songs, seventeen songs that he played to me,” remembers Alan McGee on the recording of ‘Be Here Now’. Initially released to rave reviews, ‘Be Here Now’ now receives regular retrospective pannings. Unfairly, it must be said, with ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ and ‘Stand By Me’ marrying a newfound stadium bombast to effective, relatable lyrics.

1998

With the Britpop movement now in decline, it was felt country-wide, a sense of reality setting back in. Oasis kept a relatively low profile following the ‘Be Here Now’ tour until November when they released ‘The Masterplan’. A selection of B-sides, it showed previously hidden depth to their songwriting, ranging from the emotiveness of ‘Talk Tonight’ and the life-affirming ‘The Masterplan’ itself. “The really interesting stuff from around that period is the B-sides,” said Noel to Wave magazine in 2008: “There’s a lot more inspired music on the B-sides than there is on ‘Be Here Now’ itself, I think.”

1999

Work on follow-up ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ was marred with the departure of Bonehead in August of that year (he would later return with the underrated Parlour Flames). Two weeks later Guigsy would also part ways with the band. Undeterred, The Gallaghers stated that “the future of Oasis is secure. The story and the glory will go on.” With Noel handling bass and guitar duties for the album, they’d later bring Andy Bell (formerly of Ride) and Gem Archer (formerly of Heavy Stereo) on board.

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2000

Released in February, ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ sold over 310,000 copies in its first week on sale. Lifting its title from Sir Isaac Newton, ‘...Giants’ saw the band edging further into psychedelia, from the rolling riffs of ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ to wigged out slowie ‘Gas Panic!’.

2001

Splitting their time between recording sessions for their fifth album and playing shows around the world, the Oasis that returned was road-hardened again and itching to crack on.

2007

Receiving a Brit Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution To Music’ in February, Oasis also released their first digital-only release, ‘Lord Don’t Slow Me Down’, tying in with the band documentary of the same name.

2008

The seventh and final Oasis album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ was released, with Starkey leaving shortly after. Replaced by Chris Sharrock, the band

2002

Released in July, ‘Heathen Chemistry’ saw Oasis going back to basics in a sense, with a more stripped down, rootsy rock ‘n’ roll album. Featuring writing contributions from both Gallagher brothers as well as Bell and Archer, songs such as ‘Force Of Nature’ and ‘Songbird’ saw Oasis experimenting with stomping blues and ‘70s pop.

2003

Following a postponed tour the previous year due to injuries sustained in a Munich bar brawl, the band kept their heads down for the majority of the year, fulfilling the postponed dates at the start of the year and writing for their sixth album.

would also tour the US.

2009

Having played three sold out gigs at Manchester’s Heaton Park earlier in the year, Oasis cancelled their set at Chelmsford’s V Festival. Following rumoured fighting between the brothers, a statement from Noel appeared on their website stating: “It is with some sadness and great relief... I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.”

2004

The year didn’t get off to the best of starts for the band, with longtime drummer Alan White leaving in January to be replaced by Who drummer Zak Starkey (the son of Ringo Starr). Headlining Glastonbury for the second time (they originally headlined in 1995), they drew flack from critics who deemed the performance ‘lacklustre’.

2005

Hitting the top of the charts in May, ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ was a group effort in terms of writing, with Liam especially blossoming as a songwriter. The band would embark on their biggest tour since the ‘Definitely Maybe’ days, playing around the world.

2006

2006 saw the release of the retrospective set ‘Stop The Clocks’, selling over 50,000 copies on its first day in shops.

BEADY EYE

POST- OASIS

Following Noel’s departure, Liam, Gem, Andy and Chris would team with former Kasabian man Jay Mehler for Beady Eye, releasing two top albums in the form of 2011’s ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ and 2013’s ‘BE’. However, in 2014 Liam announced on Twitter that Beady Eye were no more. Going solo under the moniker of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Noel released 2011’s self-titled album and followed it up with 2015’s ‘Chasing Yesterday’. Set to embark on a country-wide tour of the UK in April, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will also be appearing at Kendal Calling, Derby’s Y Not Festival and Portmerion’s Festival Number 6. NOEL GALLAGHER

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Oasis: the later years

“IT FELT LIKE THE END OF AN ERA ON ONE LEVEL.” ALAN MCGEE

of the population applied for tickets to see them at the Hertfordshire estate – 2.5 million subjects petitioning for an audience. “I can safely say we won’t be going any fucking bigger than this,” enthused Noel: “Because to be quite honest, we can’t supply the demand for the band at the moment.” Among those witnessing the epoch-defining shows was one of the select few whose confidence in Oasis had matched their own selfbelief – Creation boss, Alan McGee. “I went the second day. It was pompous and ridiculous and brilliant and self-indulgent and quite good fun, all in the same bag. It felt like the end of an era on one level, if I’m being honest. What me and Joe Foster had aimed to do since 1983 with Creation was to have a psychedelic pop group be fucking huge and there we were, with 125,000 people at Knebworth watching a psychedelic pop band being fucking huge. We kind of looked at each other and I think we were both thinking the same thing; ‘What the fuck do we do now?’ With Creation we created the possibility for that to happen. They came through and were huge on stage. “I was backstage in my own fucking VIP tent that was bigger than the London Forum! It was truly fucking ridiculous, a VIP tent with about a thousand people. It was just silly and I think the bill was about quarter of a million at the end, so it wasn’t that clever a move. But every week we were selling 50,000 CDs and grossing a quarter of a million a week off of Oasis. I suppose it was a week’s worth of CDs to throw a party! “I didn’t think they were that good that night. It wasn’t a good Oasis gig. Probably the event overwhelmed them, if I’m being honest with you. I was a big Oasis fan and still am. I know them good and I know them bad and it wasn’t a great one. Liam had been up all night getting caned the night before so it was going to be a wild one. I don’t think it was one of the greatest gigs like some people say, but Led Zeppelin had the same problem. Supposedly their Knebworth gigs were legendary and Jimmy [Page] and Robert [Plant] have both told me that they weren’t great. I think sometimes the event becomes bigger than the reality. I met Robert

Plant a few months before and I said, ‘Hi, I’m Alan McGee’, he said, ‘I know’ and I said, ‘We’re doing Knebworth and we’ve sold them out’ and he goes, ‘We never sold the second night out’. I was thinking, ‘Fuck, really? We’ve sold more than Led Zeppelin!’ “It was an interesting time. The nineties were good. They get a lot of flack off of people but they were good fun to be in. You could be on the dole and be in a band and the government would pay your benefits. It was a good time. Whereas now, every time I open a newspaper the government have changed the law again. I think their idea is to criminalise the entire nation.”

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ot five years on from the unremarkable autumn night that had framed their debut, Oasis had become the biggest live draw in British history. “That gig, there was forty people maximum there and we had a song called ‘Rock’n’Roll Star’,’ recalled Noel. “People were going ‘Yeah, course you are, mate, bottom of the bill at the Boardwalk on a fuckin’ Tuesday night’. Pretentious arseholes is what they thought we were. Went down like a fucking knackered lift. We thought they were going to be in raptures And it ended in this bowl of silence.” At the summit, the confidence that had brought them there was proven to be justified. It was now apparently unstoppable. “It’s really important to be bigger than the Beatles. I think we’re better than the Beatles, and we’ve only done two albums,” declared Liam. “It was different when they were around – We’d just come out of the war, and a bunch of Scousers could make us happy again. I reckon we’ve pissed all over the Beatles. ‘Masterplan’ – as good as anything; ‘Roll With It’ – as good as ‘Paperback Writer’, ‘Hard Day’s Night’. We wrote half the third album in 1991 and it betters the Beatles. They ain’t the best band in the world – we are.” Just as all things pass, there is also a point at which confidence turns to hubris. The country’s faith in Blair led to the election of another Margaret Thatcher, minus the pantomime dame elements, and although Oasis bettered the likes of Slade, T Rex or The Jam by making a genuine

impact in the US, the next headlines were already being set. As they made their exit from the Knebworth spotlights, the Spice Girls sat at Number One on the UK singles chart. The media prepared to hand the keys to the kingdom on. Such changes are an inevitability. Oasis’ mainstream success was hardly that. They were the unlikely champions who believed in themselves and were ultimately proven absolutely correct. “I was mouthing off to every cunt, saying we were the dog’s knackers,” recalled Noel. “Man, everyone was so fed up. But I’m quite proud that everything I said was quite justified and came true.”

THE FUTURE?

As news reaches us of a potential Knebworth live album, there are also plans underway for an Oasis documentary proper (the team are currently looking for footage from Japan, Newcastle's Riverside, LA's Whisky A Go-Go and Manchester's Boardwalk – more details at Facebook.com/ OasisOfficial), can we expect a return from the band in some way, shape or form? “Logically they should reform this year but what's logical in the world of the Gallaghers?” says McGee: “They should reform this year because of Knebworth and do a couple of gigs this summer. They probably won't. I do think Oasis will reform eventually and do a tour, I think that's inevitable. You know what's it like. Liam responds to Noel having a go at him. If they've going to keep doing that, who knows? I don't know about them but I'm bored of that. I don't know what's at the root of it all but I suspect it's more than we know and involves a lot of things, because I know them. “If I was Noel Gallagher and I was selling out the O2 and playing the Royal Albert Hall, why would you be rushing to be in a band with someone you don't get on with? That's probably where Noel's at. Liam probably wants to do music and he's one of the best singers there's ever been in rock 'n' roll. He's still young, he's still good looking. Fucking do it, man. It won't go on forever so they should get on with it. “I manage the [Jesus and] Mary Chain. They were debating whether to do the 30th anniversary of the Mary Chain and I had to remind them, 'If we do the 35th anniversary of the Mary Chain, some of the audience will be dead. Do it now!' (laughs)”

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ALAN MCGEE TALKS TO LOUDER THAN WAR ABOUT GANG MENTALITY, PAPARAZZI AND LIAM BEING “A SUPERSTAR OF A HUMAN BEING.” Going back to 1996, can you explain what it was like being in the eye of the Oasis storm? “It just happened so fast. The year went really, really quickly. It was a good year in a lot of ways. I was just getting over drugs, which was good. I was starting to enjoy doing music again and getting involved. I was buzzing around. I was loving doing it all. I’d met my future wife, who was then my girlfriend, and it was a good time.”

Was that the impetus to get off drugs and throw yourself into the music? “I’d been off the drugs for a couple of years but it took that time to normalise and realise I wouldn’t go back on them again. I always thought I’d go back on them but I never did. I slipped up with booze in about 2002 to 2004, but I never went back to drugs and drugs were really my achilles heel. After going back on the booze for a couple of years I woke up one day and thought ‘stop it’ and I did stop it.”

So you were off the drugs and booze in 1996? “I was doing nothing then, I was definitely the most boring man in rock ‘n’ roll. But it was okay, I really enjoyed being the most boring man in rock ‘n’ roll because every other fucker was walking about on uppers or downers. Everybody was trying to be more of a lad than each other. I remember going to the Brits one year and I went in a camp coat that I’d got at Paul Smith and Noel [Gallagher] came up to me and said ‘You look a bit camp’ and I said ‘I am a bit camp’. He didn’t know what to say to that at all!”

The year before ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ had come out and that would go on to become the biggest album of the decade... “Noel told me that he thinks it’s sold sixty million worldwide, which is fucking huge.”

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OASIS Near the beginning of the year, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ came out as a single in February and went to number one... “The strange thing about that song is now it’s probably my favourite Oasis song. But at the time, I didn’t really like it. I loved ‘Wonderwall’ and fucking loved ‘Hey Now!’, I still do. With ‘Cast No Shadow’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, I was never really a big fan of those tunes. But as time went on, I’ve really grown to love them. ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ defines them in that phase. If one song defined them it would either be ‘Slide Away’ or ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’.”

Was there a rivalry with the singles Noel was singing and the ones Liam was? “No, nothing like that. It was a gang at that point. If there was rivalry I didn’t see it. There might have been gentle ribbing. A lot of their singles around that time were straight in at number one, it was crazy. The charts don’t mean anything anymore but back then they meant something.”

After that, you said you felt a bit like ‘Where do we go from here?’ Where did you go from that after the success of Knebworth for the rest of ‘96? “I wanted to go and do the next album as a pay-per-view with Oasis playing in Antarctica, but nobody thought that was a good idea. I still think it’s a good idea! Noel wanted to play at the 100 Club and I wanted them to go and play in Antarctica and make people pay £25 to watch it.”

How was your relationship with the band back in ‘96?

Taking digs at each other all seems to be through the press. Back in the day the whole Oasis vs. Blur thing seemed to have been driven by the press as well. Was it going in ‘96? “It was always going. They loved sticking one up Damon Albarn’s arsehole. It was enjoyable to watch. (laughs)”

Why do you think Oasis never got to the same level in the US as in the UK? Was it the size of it and the time it takes? “You’re sort of wrong, I know it seems like that. I know we sold about four million copies of ‘Morning Glory?’ in America. That’s a lot of

records. We just weren’t culturally significant there, we were just another record. Whereas in Britain, Oasis were culturally significant. Up until about five years ago, people were still walking around with Liam Gallagher haircuts.”

fuck I am. It’s fucking perfect.”

What drew you back into music?

“I just got ill about two and a half years ago. I realised that when you’re retired you start to die. I was ill for about nine weeks in Right, they were the pinnacle, the band you bed and the doctor got my immune system associated the most with Britpop, like Nirvana with going again and said to me that I couldn’t not grunge. They birthed a lot of bands who wanted to do anything. Because I did a Brian Wilson for sound like and act like them. a couple of years and just went to bed. My “For a while it was really boring but luckily immune system crashed. They got it working they’ve stopped doing it now. There was a lot again but said to me that I had to go back of Liam Gallagher impersonators who thought to work and I did. I did a book that did well they deserved record deals. I just used to think, and I was in a couple of films – one was a hit, ‘Fuck off, leave me alone! I’m never going to one wasn’t. Then The Mary Chain asked me sign you.’ There was a period from ‘97 to ‘99 if I was interested in doing music again and I guess when I was famous, if you want to they had never really been happy with their call it that. It was only a couple of years. No managers and I ended up managing them. one knows me now and I’m not famous at all. Luckily that worked out. We got involved with There was a time, believe it or not, in the ‘90s Shaun Ryder and with Cast as well. It went when I did get paparazzi following me and from there. No doubt we will pick up a lot taking my picture at the weirdest times. It was more bands this year. Last year we could have horrible. I’d just had my daughter at the end picked up a lot more but we just wanted to of 2000 and some guy would jump out of a make sure we did The Mary Chain properly Land Rover and take a picture of me, Kate and and we got Black Grape and the Mondays my kid. It was weird. I still go and manage the right and the thing with Cast. We’ve got baby Mary Chain and the [Happy] Mondays, Cast bands, like Alias Kid. It’s cool.” and Black Grape and nobody knows who the

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Words: Ian Chaddock

“They were always self-contained and people don’t believe me when I say that Noel and Liam were self-contained characters. I said I was leaving in 1999 and Noel, to this day, has never had a bad word to say about me. He doesn’t hold any grudge and I’m still very good friends with him. The last time I spoke to him was when Bowie died and we were texting each other. Liam, you know what, he’s a genius. He’s a sleeping lion and when he decides to come forward and do something again, he will reappear and he will be fucking massive. He’s a superstar, at the end of the day. He’s a superstar of a human being.”

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SINCE THEIR INCEPTION IN OSLO DURING THE RISE OF CHURCH BURNINGS AND SACRIFICIAL SLAYINGS, ULVER HAVE BEEN A FORCE TO RECKON WITH. UNLIKE MANY FROM THE SAME SCENE, THEY HAVE EVOLVED, TURNING THEIR DARK ART INTO SOMETHING MYSTICAL, INCOMPREHENSIBLE, BUT ALWAYS LOUD. BRUCE TURNBULL RECEIVED A DISTURBING CALL FROM LONE SURVIVING MEMBER KRISTOFFER RYGG TO TALK ABOUT THEIR LATEST ALBUM, A BIZARRE EXPERIMENT FROM THE GRIM NORTH…

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ROWTH is an area untouched by most generic metal; you start your career representing a certain crowd and those who come to love you take offence when you step out of it. This would frighten a lot of artists, but fear is a mechanism Kristoffer Rygg uses to encourage his evolution as a musician. From his early creations within the second wave of black metal, Rygg has transformed Ulver many times over in his pursuit of a musical ideal, leading us to his strangest piece yet, the atmospheric and electronic sensation known as ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’. Given that their first album broke the wall down between woodland folk and wintry black metal, it’s a little odd to compare it to album number twelve, which was captured though unconventional methods. “The recording of this album was simple,” the vocalist/programmer states. “We had a nightmare sorting things out before the tour, but basically, everything was recorded live on stage. We brought it home, collected it, treated it, edited it, and put it together as neatly as we could in the studio. We used the best tools available to aid the production without having any desire for it to sound live. We wanted it to sound as good as possible, considering how it was made, whilst also being conscious of its origin and energy. We wanted to keep that.” There is an obvious difference in the quality of a recording when a band plays live in a studio and live on stage. But why was the choice so obvious for Kristoffer? “Because it’s recorded live in front of loads of people in different venues, there’s a certain quality about it. Our energy is captured, it’s charged. We’ve tried recording live in a studio before, but we’ve never been happy with the result. We’ve tried to grab that energy internally, within the band, but with no one watching, the pressure is off, and so the recording doesn’t have that same urgency.” Rumors state that this album was not only recorded live, but it was entirely improvised as well. With a runtime of 80 minutes, that’s an incredible feat. Should we believe what we

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have heard? “It’s a case of semi-improvisation,” he admits. “Most of what we do is improvised now. There are bass riffs that were already there before, and a couple of ideas for the guitars, but they weren’t really used as guides. We knew the sort of thing we wanted to do before we played those shows; everything over the top of the riffs we just let grow out of our experimentation. It’s those once in a lifetime moments we were trying to capture. If you listen to it, you’ll notice there aren’t that many themes; they aren’t songs per se; it’s more about repetition, and just letting those repeating notes mold into something interesting.” The execution is noteworthy, and in the metal community, significant, but the burning question is not how, but why?

“People have asked us that already,” he says. “I never know how to reply to that. I think we were facing a rigorous task if we recorded another typical studio album. We didn’t really want to do what we’ve already done, which is often the case with us. We wanted to make some new music, but it had to have some meaning for us as well. That’s when I concocted the idea, and we were all excited about doing something new, a bit daring. We thought, let’s play some unrehearsed stuff for a while and get people down to hear it. Part of me thought the idea was arrogant towards the audience, but that’s why we also played some songs from the catalogue on those nights. We just pieced together some ideas, went out to play them and recorded them. It was lucky for us that those

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ULVER

fact still remains that it is part of our history. This album is obviously not black metal. I’d use the term nocturnal to describe our music, but there is nothing about it that sounds like our early work. I don’t have a horrid association with black metal; in fact, I have a lot of fond memories of that time. At the same time, it’s memories of a long time ago for me. It’s not a hobby for me now, checking out what’s happening in the scene. It’s weird, though, because of our early albums, which seem to be considered quite important in the development of Norwegian black metal at that time. We are in the history books, and you can’t change that. You’ll still find our albums in metal shops because we were once defined as black metal; obviously now we are something else. There’s nothing I can do about the association. Metal and punk have become mythological. It’s nice to be part of the myth; people seem to believe our contribution to the black metal scene was important, and so there are always new fans getting to hear those albums for the first time. But yeah, I still love metal. I just love other kinds of music as well. I’m always on the hunt for something new.”

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shows had incredible energy. Our thoughts at the time were, if it sounds good, we’ll make an album out of it.”

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he title, which is impossible to announce, is a good representation of what you get on ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’. It’s hard to quantify, difficult to describe. At least the title makes sense when you get it straight from the source. “Quite simply, it’s the abbreviated letters of the signs of the Zodiac, from Aries to Pisces. I did it to be a bit punk. It’s also a little play on this being our twelfth album; there are twelve signs of the Zodiac and so on. It’s not a concept album or anything, but the number twelve kept coming up. It’s a bit of a curiosity,

let’s put it that way.” Ulver are now, if anything, an electronic band playing with a live band set-up, their music moving from the hard, percussive, and avantgarde, to the cosmic drone of post-annihilation minimalism. But they started as a one of the premier forces of Norway’s second wave of black metal, sharing a peer-group with such nihilistic legends as Emperor, Mayhem, and Darkthrone. Considering their dark origin with 1995’s ‘Bergtatt’, is it right to assume that Ulver still consider their music black beneath the electronic waves? “No, I would definitely not say we are playing black metal,” he advises strongly. “I haven’t talked about us as black metal in years, but the

lver have more in common with pop artists in their need to reinvent themselves with each release, yet Kristoffer doesn’t confine himself to constant renewal. “It’s not a straitjacket,” he says. “It keeps the band lean, keeps it interesting. People have come and go from the band for this reason. I have always wanted to do different things. It’s about me still being curious about music; it’s hard for me to analyze. Whether it’s working with an orchestra, like we’ve done in the past, or writing a soundtrack for a film, which we’ve also done, the key for me is to find out what it’s about, get to the root of it. I think we are more of a rock band on the whole. But one that is sometimes ambient, sometimes electronic, sometimes even neo-classical. That’s what being experimental is all about. There’s not this idea that everything we do has to be dark, but when it comes to writing lyrics and stuff, the darkness wins through in a way. That tends to translate into a musical melancholy. We do make dark music, for the most part. ” Despite the release of a new album, one made from the stage as opposed to for it, Ulver will not be heading out on a tour to promote it. A smart move when you consider the fact they would be faced with recreating an improvised set. “We won’t be playing for quite a while. I don’t think we can do anything from this album live; it would be strange to rehearse this unrehearsed material. We’ve got an album we can’t promote. What we are quite eager to do is write another album from scratch, something that is more song-based. When we have something solid, new material, I mean, we’ll start thinking of booking some shows again. You might see a new album within the year. Something will reveal itself, that’s for sure.” ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ is out now on House Of Mythology

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SIX YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE PSYCHEDELIC ROCKERS KULA SHAKER BLESSED US WITH THEIR FOURTH ALBUM, ‘PILGRIMS PROGRESS’. IN THAT TIME ITS MEMBERS HAVE WORKED ON MUSIC UNDER OTHER GUISES, WALKED INFAMOUS DOGS, AND EVEN MADE MOVIES. BUT NOW THEY ARE BACK WITH A EUROPEAN TOUR AND THEIR FIFTH FULL-LENGTH, THE LONG AWAITED SEMI-SEQUEL TO ‘K’ ENTITLED ‘K 2.0’. VOCALIST/ GUITARIST CRISPIAN MILLS SAT DOWN WITH BRUCE TURNBULL TO DISCUSS IT…

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E’VE all had other things going on,” the composer states. “Some of us have been chopping wood in Belgium, others playing music in Hackney and walking our dogs. Actually, Paul’s dog was mistaken for a bear and ended up as an article in the Daily Mail: ‘The Beast Of Hackney Marshes’. Someone reported it. I made a film with Simon Pegg called ‘A Fantastic Fear Of Everything’, and since then I’ve been working with other film companies, writing scripts and what have you. We’ve all got families, you know, so we’ve always got things to do. But when we heard it had been twenty years since our first record, everybody got off their chairs and thought it was a good reason to make an album.” Hard to believe twenty years have passed since

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‘K’ climbed the UK charts to the number one spot, selling a million copies overall, with singles such as ‘Govinda’ and ‘Hey Dude’ receiving regular airplay. There was always something strange and otherworldly about Kula Shaker; they were an anomaly of the Brit-Pop movement. I felt they’d be more at home in an Emperor’s harem smoking hemp than drinking lager in a corner pub, and one listen to ‘K 2.0’ cements that image. They were a young, vibrant new force, which is why it’s hard for Crispian to acknowledge the length of time that has gone by. “It’s hard to fathom,” he says. “But then again, if you look at our discography, it makes us look quite lazy. Every album means a lot to us, and they have all been made for the right reasons. As soon we found ourselves on the career treadmill, we got depressed and packed it in. The last ten years have

been about taking back our autonomy, our creative mojo, because when you’re nineteen and doing it professionally, and being successful, it can be quite a terrifying, traumatic experience. You do music because you love it, and you want success, but you don’t want to be exploited. You don’t want to get into the game of becoming somebody else’s property.” Their last album, 2010’s ‘Pilgrims Progress’, was the first record to be released on the band’s own label, Strange F.O.L.K. It can be said that Kula Shaker are taking back the power, and doing things on their terms these days. “We were finally in control of how we sounded,” Crispian says, laughing. “And so we thought it was the perfect time for us to take a break! We probably shouldn’t have done that. But coming together to write the songs for ‘K 2.0’ was so fresh

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and exciting that it proved the break had done us good. We sounded alive. It was still a focused record; it has to be when you’re producing it yourself. You need to be confident you’re making the right choices. When we first recorded an album, we were very excited, as you are when you’re that young and you make your first record, but we weren’t in control of it. I don’t think any artist of that stature is truly the creative force behind their music. The only person I ever used to think had that control and was very grounded was Beck. But then he went off and became a scientologist, so you never know what happens behind closed doors. We needed to be relaxed to make this album, because we had a definite deadline for it and we needed to be disciplined. We were ruthless about what songs made it onto the album.” The title is an obvious reference to their 1996 debut, but is this really supposed to be the sequel?

Or, given the band’s frequent inactivity, is it a statement of rebirth? “It was always a fantasy of ours to make an album called ‘K 2’,” he says. “It was our working title. Then I wrote down ‘K 2.0’ and it looked like ‘K 20’, and it seemed to fit. But this is the age of updates and reboots; everything has a built in obsolescence. In the world of marketing, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the business of music or film, there’s this conventional wisdom that people want to know they’ve already bought something before they buy it. We’re just taking the piss, basically. I live in the now, the present, and this album seems very timely in a poetic sense as well, so I’m not looking any further ahead than this tour. We’re going to gig like hell this year, and see what happens. Maybe we’ll have another album’s worth of material by Christmas, who knows?” One of the projects Crispian had been working

“EVERY ALBUM MEANS A LOT TO US, AND THEY HAVE ALL BEEN MADE FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. AS SOON WE FOUND OURSELVES ON THE CAREER TREADMILL, WE GOT DEPRESSED AND PACKED IT IN.” CRISPIAN MILLS

on came to fruition in 2012, when his movie ‘A Fantastic Fear Of Everything’ was distributed by Universal. When musicians work on films, they are usually unsuccessful. What makes Crispian the exception? “I’ve been dealing with studios since about 2001,” he says: “It was an experience, a learning curve. I’ve seen glaciers move faster than film projects. A movie will get made in two to three years if it’s very lucky and nothing goes wrong. The one I wrote and directed took five years to make. It was a quirky, eccentric little comedy about growing up and hedgehogs and serial killers. Simon Pegg really liked the script and wanted to play the lead part. It was perceived as a bigger movie than it was because Universal distributed it. It was actually an indie movie, made by the filmmakers. There was no consideration given to marketing whatsoever, which is quite rare these days. I’m working on about five films right now; you have to work on lots and lots, otherwise you go mad because they aren’t moving. I’m going to be doing something else with Simon Pegg, along with a couple of things in London and with one company in LA. I’m half filmmaker, half musician, and even all my albums are quite visual. It took me a long time to realize that. Nobody is just one thing; you have to reconcile with different sides of your personality.” While the Brit-Pop movement was in full swing, Kula Shaker jumped out of the crowd, grabbing attention from areas due to their brand of folkdriven, psychedelic indie rock, but it was the Eastern, world-music flavor Crispian brought to the music that separated them from the pack. This was something he picked up on his travels through India, an experience that changed him irrevocably. “I didn’t go backpacking through India and come back transformed, as if I’d seen the light,” he says. “I’ve always been interested in their culture. It was more a consummation of the soul seeking I’d done before that. India is one of the Mother Cultures of the world; you can trace all of our roots back there in one way or another. Once you make that connection, you will never be the same again. I like the way that their ancient traditions look at the world. It is not a machine; we are not machines. Everything has a living, spiritual force; it’s un-mechanistic. When you get into that headspace, the world is a beautiful place. It puts the spirit before matter.” To celebrate the release of ‘K 2.0’, Kula Shaker are hitting the road. We’ve got plenty of chances to see them on their home turf, and it seems like they are sticking around this time. “I think we’ve come full-circle now. We’ve got all guns blazing. Everything that happened to us since the ‘Strangefolk’ album has led us to this. So, this first run of dates are just to test the waters, but I’m sure there will be another set of dates announced in spring. It’s probably going to be all year, to be honest. We are a live band, and that’s the best way to understand us, if you see us live. It defines us. We won’t feel like we’re truly back until we’re touring again. A lot of the music on this album was specifically written with the road in mind. We know we have to rock, and we have to rock hard.” ‘K 2.0’ is out now on Strange F.O.L.K.

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RELEASING FOURTEENTH STUDIO ALBUM ‘GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD’ AND HITTING THE ROAD, DAVE BROWN SPEAKS TO JAMES FRONTMAN TIM BOOTH.

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IRL At The End Of The World’ is James’ fourteenth studio album. Their tale is a long and curious one, starting when three teenage football hooligans accosted a student Tim Booth in a Manchester University cellar and took them on a road via Factory Records, two albums in the wilderness with Sire Records to assuming the mantle of the biggest band in Britain with the chart success of ‘Sit Down’ in 1991. They were always too angular, too stubborn and inventive though to follow the path mapped out for them shunning stadium rock for the acoustic tones of ‘Laid’ and the improvised ‘Wah Wah’. After a short break, they embraced electronica with ‘Whiplash’, shot back into the limelight with a million-selling Best Of and two further albums ‘Millionaires’ and ‘Pleased To Meet You’ before calling it a day in 2001. Ahead of their time, they reformed in 2007 insistent

“I think this is one of the strongest records we’ve written in a long time.”

on releasing new material rather than resting on their substantial back catalogue. ‘Hey Ma’ came out in 2008 and was acclaimed by fans as a career highpoint and they’ve subsequently released two mini albums ‘The Night Before’ and ‘The Morning After’ in 2010 and La Petite Mort in 2014. This month sees the release of ‘Girl At The End Of The World’. Like its predecessor and much of James’ work, ‘Girl...’ was written during intense jam sessions at founder member Jim’s guest house in the wilds of Northern Scotland. “We wrote it up at Jimmy’s place again in the Highlands. We did it in January and February last year, completely cut off. We had a slight difference this time round in that we hired Swiss Ron (tour tech and eighth live member of James) to be tape editor for Jimmy and me,” says Tim: “Usually if one of us wants to edit songs we have to hijack someone who can operate the technology like Mark and he works his arse off and we feel really bad about it. We hired Ron so we could do more editing and be more efficient. We would produce three weeks of material, hours and hours of jams and plough through them for months, but this time we came out of there with tonnes of edits of short-listed songs which was unusual for us. “I think for the first time no other songs were added later. We were working on everything whilst we were up there. I was pretty conscious about setting beats fast and danceable. We asked ourselves what about the last record we’d like to carry forward to this one and I liked the grooves. Jim’s become such a groovy bass player and so that’s really tempting to keep pushing and it draws Mark out, although this time he didn’t need any beckoning. There’ll be no stopping him in future, he’ll turn into a huge egomaniac.” Following those sessions James were reacquainted with Max Dingel who produced

Tim Booth

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‘La Petite Mort’ and during the sessions Brian Eno dropped in to help out with the album’s second single ‘Nothing But Love’. “We sent Max the demos after the Scottish session, he loved them, really got them. Our record company and management weren’t too sure, our demos are usually just for us. Famously Geoff Travis asked us when we handed him the ‘Gold Mother’ demos whether we were taking the piss, testing him, but they were unlistenable. “With Brian, I just phoned him up. I thought we’d got stuck on a couple of songs, one was ‘Nothing But Love’, the other one that didn’t end up on the record we’ll save because it’s really good, but we didn’t nail it. He did a lot on that other song, but on ‘Nothing But Love’ it’s just that arpeggio that’s unmistakeably Brian. He would have done a lot more but he ended up working with someone else as he got an offer that he couldn’t refuse. It was great to work with him again, he’s a beautiful man.” One of the most exciting parts of the James live experience is that they thrill in revealing new songs, road-testing them often in unfinished form to gauge audience reaction. This time round though, only ‘Nothing But Love’ had been heard by the James fan base. Tim however has no concerns that the songs will stand up in their live set. “I genuinely think nearly all of them will work. I suspect we’ll be playing most of them live. I think there’s some really killer live songs, I think Bitch will sound great live and something like ‘Waking’, which isn’t a traditional James song, has a lot of room for trumpet to have fun, there’s a lot of joy in the music, it’s very uplifting. I can see us doing nearly all of them live.”

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ot road-testing songs meant that fans weren’t exposed to the development of the songs and lyrics. It’s a complex process involving many rewrites and often very different subjects being addressed. ‘Dear John’, mooted as a future single, being a case in point. “That’s the only song I’ve ever written a completely different lyric to and been stuck between them. The other is about child abuse in the Catholic Church. We were all split. I’d never done that before, where I was totally happy with both lyrics. Usually I work out what direction it’s going in. This one I sang both and handed both in as I didn’t know which was the best of the two and neither

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“I still wake up at four in the morning with lyrics in my head.” did anyone else. That was a strange one for us, a very different process as I think lyrics write themselves so I didn’t know what to do.” “I’ve got this great app called Scrivener that I’m using to write my novel. Some lyrics definitely came straight away like ‘Move Down South’. We hadn’t even decided to move up north at that point and it was strange as when we did, I couldn’t understand the lyric, but then when we decided to move back it made sense (Tim and his family moved from Topanga, on the outskirts of LA to San Francisco and back again during the album’s recording). “I’ll write a song six or so times and then do a compilation and see if something’s being suggested. There are certain lyrics where you get them very quickly, ‘Girl...’ I got on the second take and came pretty formed. I knew what that was about pretty quickly. And, just as we mixed it, Jimmy was coming round a corner and a guy was speeding straight for him and four cars made space for him at the last moment, seconds before they collided. I’m assuming that song was about that incident. “I’ve got a microphone and often I’ll just jam lyrics, I don’t know what I’m singing about, really random making stuff up with the music in the background. I improvise, I jam along to their backing track and go looking for extra lyrics. I still wake up at four in the morning with lyrics in my head. “There’s multiple versions of lyrics on Scrivener.

Tracks like ‘Born An Arsehole’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Feet Feet Feet’ and ‘Nothing Is Real’ which ended up with different titles and ‘Bouncing’, ‘Animal’ and ‘Poodle Jam’ which didn’t make it on the record. The last one I got a lyric in one session, a really punky song that I really like. They have completely different lyrics to what we ended up with, they can really shift.”

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he aforementioned ‘Move Down South’ is one of what James call their journey songs. “It was a strange one that Mark grabbed and made into what it became. A lot of that song is his arrangement of an hour-long jam where it goes from part to part to part. We love journey songs in James, we’ve always gravitated towards them, they’re more intricate, you can express yourself more. You know they’re not going to be singles so you can be more extreme. Once you get a song you know is going to be a single, a big song, it can make you a bit safer with it.” ‘Attention’ is one of the album’s most dramatic moments; a song of several very different sections and wild changes in pace. This came from the rather disjointed and accidental way it came together. “That was an hour and twenty minute jam. There’s two bits of singing there, one ten minutes in and the other an hour in and I had no way of joining them together and so what I did was fade the keyboard and then fade the other bit in. I thought we’d find something, but people loved it so it stayed that way. It was originally a lot slower and Larry accidentally speeded it up when we were playing it back and

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people liked it so we ended up doing it that way once we found the right tempo. It was a difficult one though, half the band wanted it slow, half wanted it fast, we’re usually a lot clearer in our demarcations, but this one was right down the line.” “The second half of it, I thought that lyric (“This is you, this is me, underneath the manzanita tree/By the fire we are forged, we are baked, we are shaped”) couldn’t stay. People in Europe won’t know what a manzanita tree is and they’ll go “he’s singing about fire again” as I do that a lot. What happened though is as we moved back to Topanga, a father of twins at my son’s school died and the kids went to the principal and wanted to do a native American fire ceremony over four days. The twins would sleep by the fire and we’d sit there in silence for

three hours or sing. It was the most profound response to death I’d seen. At the end the fire dies out, the kids and the wife and the parents were there and it’s devastating, an astonishing community response to support the kids in their grief. People would hang the names of people they’d lost and were missing on the tree - I put Gabrielle Roth and my mum on that. Those kids will be profoundly changed by that experience. I know I use fire a lot and was prepared to be slagged off for it, but that’s what that lyric is about.”

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ay sees James embark on their biggest tour since they reformed in 2007. They’ve just signed a three-album deal with BMG so it seems like there are high expectations of this record, something which Tim concedes. “The record company and management went from being sceptical of the demos to thinking we’ve given them far more songs to work with, that they can put to radio, that we can make videos for than we did last time. They think we’ve made a much bigger record so accordingly

they’ll give us a bigger budget, but it’s hard to say obviously.” “I think ‘To My Surprise’ has done more for us than the first track last time ‘Frozen Britain’, it’s more unusual and interesting and I got to input to a brilliant video. It says so much about the world, the more frightening side of the world. They worked their arses off on it once we were on the same page, they were working through the night, they kept adding detail, although I changed the happy ending.” There’s a very evident belief in ‘Girl...’ that you get from talking to Tim. Even when I suggest that this record wasn’t as immediate as most of their previous ones, he isn’t fazed at all, considering this revelation and coming back to it later. “I’m not concerned that it took you a few listens to get into it. Patti Smith’s ‘Horses’ took me a number of listens to love it. I’m really excited by the dance grooves and I think this is one of the strongest records we’ve written in a long time.” ‘Girl At The End Of The World’ is out now on BMG James tour the UK in May

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Preparing one of the most anticipated albums of 2016, RAT BOY is preparing to drop ‘Scum’. That’s if Jordan Cardy and the band survive that long though, as James Sharples discovers.

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HOW your chest Noah!” laughs insulated vehicle doesn’t look to be far off. Jordan Cardy, gesturing to put Titled ‘Scum’ after his dad’s favourite film (“I upon live drummer Noah Booth: sampled it quite a few times. I wanna get Ray “He let me shave a heart into Winstone on the album too. I’ve got all these his chest. I did that, me. Artist. Rock star.” he says instrumentals and I wanna have someone talk before dissolving into further peals of laughter. over them”), Cardy explains that the album Currently Cardy (aka Rat Boy) is a pretty fucking is “nearly there. When the tour’s finished I’m big deal. Since dropping a mixtape in 2014, a gonna tidy up my bedroom and finish it off. I’m clutch of festival appearances, sold gonna try and get as much out shows and radio-busting singles stuff done as I can and get that mash together indie, punk and stuff mixed. It’s just all over hip hop have seen him join the the place and I keep taking Parlophone roster with an album stuff out that I don’t like due to drop this summer. Not bad ‘cos it’s too old now.” going for an Essex skate rat who got binned off by Wetherspoons. magpie for music, Of course, touring as a young he explains that band isn’t all hot tubs, white he’s “always lines and free trainers. In fact, getting inspired it’s none of those things. When by different things, like I catch up with the Rat Boy, um, Beck and the Beastie Boys boys (completed by bassist Liam at the moment. I like Beck’s Haygarth and guitarist Harry Todd), folk stuff as well, it’d be they’ve been tear-arsing up and cool to have an acoustic THE CHOICEST down the country on tour with song on the record, but I’m RAT BOY LYRICAL Bloc Party. “They’ve got bangers, really into ‘Odelay’ with NUGGETS so it’s cool,” says Cardy: “But the Dust Brothers. That they’ve got a tour bus so we hate was like, ‘96 or ‘97? That’s “Poundland pubs and ‘em.” Understandable as it appears really old (“I was born that Wormwood Scrubs/Last night’s that one of the UK’s ‘Ones To year,” interjects Todd). takeaway in tupperware tubs” Watch’ are touring in the real life The last single (‘Move’) I (‘Sign On’) equivalent of Fred Flintstone’s was really happy with the motor, held together with duct tape production on it. It took “Living out of JD bags, and prayer. ages, like learning how to smoking broken fags/Badman “We’ve got the shittest van in sort of scratch, putting my slags, first time shags” the world. It’s so fucking cold. vocal through one of those (Fake ID) We’re all gonna get hypothermia CDJ things and learning or something,” Cardy explains as it. It took like, a day. “Ed Hardy jeans with broken Haygarth elaborates that it’s “like Nightmare.” dreams stitched in between a race to get to the middle seats Writing, playing, the seams/And that boy in a or the front seats (“‘Cos the back producing and designing bivvy looks about thirteen, is just... holes,” interjects Cardy). the sleeves himself, Cardy trying to sell sticks claimed to People that get up early get the confesses that he likes be weed” nice seats. It’s not even a splitter “being in control and being (‘Sportswear’) van, it’s a Ford Transit.” creative. I’ve got people “Hopefully when the album helping now but I’m still in “Every light in the night looks comes out we’ll get a van that my bedroom making music like a police car coming round has wheel trims and heaters that and doing the artwork so the bend/The boys soon traded heat the whole van,” says Cardy, that hasn’t really changed. I in the peds to be part of the admitting: “I Googled ‘Vans’ earlier, was inspired by punk music latest trend” ‘Nice Tour Vans’, trying to imagine and and ‘zines from the (‘Hanging Round’) I was in one.” ‘70s and doing the artwork Having blazed a trail with the and screen-printing myself, “Well you know I never say spiky indie of ‘Sign On’, the the whole process.” Taking the same thing twice/Tripping Libertines/Clash smash-up of ‘Fake a shine to the term ‘cottage over myself in my three ID’ and the monster Mondays/ industry’, he admits: “I’d stripes” Prodigy bounce of radio mauler like to have a bedroom to (‘Move’) ‘Move’, a well upholstered and print in, so I could just

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make merch and stuff out of my bedroom. That’d be sick.” Explaining that he got into music at ten years old “watching Green Day at Woodstock in 1994 with the mud fight on YouTube”, Cardy admits that he “wanted to be Billie Joe Armstrong” while for Todd it was a classic rock compilation CD that his dad had (“It was really shit. I loved it”). Booth explains that he fell into drumming (“My dad got me playing and I guess it went from there”) while Haygarth “wanted to be a footballer but I got to fifteen and I was too old so I had to find something else to do.” They like The Fall (with ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ being a favourite of Todd’s) and Sunn O))) as much as they do the Beasties (Cardy is currently all in on ‘Check Your Head’), combining the surprisingly cutting lyrics of the likes of ‘Sign On’ (“Young, dumb, living off mum”) with Jackass-style skate grom goonery. It’s a little unsurprising that they’ve lost two tour managers since they started hitting the road for real. “Trying to get all the stuff in the Transit’s impossible,” says Cardy: “We’ve got a skate ramp and a motorbike on this tour. Noah’s eventually gonna jump onto the stage on the motorbike and land on his kit. We got told off at (Camden’s) Dingwalls ‘cos of the motorbike fumes...” “There was petrol everywhere. You weren’t allowed to smoke ‘cos there were too many petrol fumes in the van,” remembers Haygarth. “That wasn’t the motorbike’s fault – that was the van’s fault!” Cardy justifies. That would surely be one for the annals of rock ‘n’ roll though? Death via immolation on the road... “I’d rather die of old age,” says Todd, with Cardy adding: “Yeah, I’m not feeling that one.” The risk of fire seems to be a constant for the foursome of Rat Boy, with Booth revealing a square of missing hair on the side of his head, saying “Harry’s obsessed with fire”, as the guitarist explains that they were “playing around with deodorant and lighters. I didn’t think and I got him.” It turns out that not everything’s allowed in the Rat Boy van though, with Cardy banned from bringing his air rifle (or “air uzi” as Todd puts it): “My dad wouldn’t let me out the house on tour with it...” Perhaps that’s something we should all be grateful for. ‘Move’ is out now on Parlophone ‘Scum’ is out later in the year on Parlophone Rat Boy tour the UK in April and May

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Eighteen years on from their last gig, LUSH are back with a new EP and upcoming sold out shows at London’s Roundhouse. Louise Brown talked to Miki Berenyi and discovered how life gets in the way of practice and why “there’ll be a lot of love in the room” for the much-missed Chris Acland.

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’LL be honest with you it’s a question that everybody asks and I sit here and mine it for something interesting as it’s actually quite vague.” It’s a question that’s been on everyone’s lips since September 2015 when Lush’s Facebook page sprung into action, posting the cryptic status “24 Hours”. The very next day the band had announced their reunion with a show at Camden’s legendary Roundhouse on May 6th. Selling out in less than a day, a second show was added with news of forthcoming American dates and hints at new music to boot. The band, who played their last gig in 1996, were back and the reaction was unmistakably positive. Miki Berenyi, who formed the band with singer Meriel Barham (who would later leave to join Pale Saints), Emma Anderson, Steve Rippon and Chris Acland, is as surprised as anyone. “Sometimes I talk to my mates and say ‘Oh my god, what have I agreed to?’ This is ridiculous.” Talking from the London home she shares with her partner and two children, Miki all but retired from music after the demise of the band she started in 1987. Releasing the mini-album ‘Scar’ in 1989 and their debut full-length ‘Spooky’ two years later, the band were hailed as shoegaze pioneers alongside Slowdive and Ride, inspired by bands such as My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus And Mary Chain. While most of the bands that the term shoegaze was attributed to would deny any involvement, Lush were undoubtedly part of a movement that swept the UK’s alternative scene with dissonant guitars, poppy melodies and melancholic vocals. Produced by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie ‘Spooky’ climbed the UK album charts landing at a respectable #7 and saw the band score a sought-after slot at Perry Farrell’s Lollapolooza Festival. Swapping Steve Rippon on bass for Phil King (who would incidentally go on to play bass for the Mary Chain), Lush had landed and were on a trajectory that would see them crowned the kings and queens of dream pop by the release of 1994’s ‘Split’.

With Britpop gaining momentum, it wouldn’t be long before Miki, Emma, Phil and Chris found themselves at the centre of a selfcongratulatory scene of VIP parties and boozy abandon, attempts at breaking America almost broke them and yet in 1996 the band decamped to Protocol Studios with their live engineer, Pete Bartlett and produced an album of indie magic. Their most straight-forward pop album to date, and bolstered by a guest appearance from man-of-the-hour Jarvis Cocker, ‘Lovelife’ offered up radio-friendly anthems in ‘Single Girl’, ‘Ladykillers’ and ‘500 (Shake Baby Shake)’ and brought the band to the attention of a new and adoring audience. Plagued by mis-management and exhausted from the unexpected, and unwanted, glare of the spotlight – particularly on Miki and Emma – Lush played their last show in Japan and a month later drummer Chris ended his own life.

“Sometimes I talk to my mates and say ‘Oh my god, what have I agreed to?’ This is ridiculous.” Miki Berenyi

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istraught the band would not continue. It was a tragic end to a much-loved band, who would go on to win fans long after their official break-up in 1998. That they’re back, poignantly with Chris’ friend Justin Welch from Elastica in the drum seat, is testament to the legacy they left behind. “Because of the way we split up it was an ending with no plan and then everyone pieced

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their lives back together,” Miki explains of the momentum behind the comeback. “There’s a few contributing factors. There are other bands who have done it and they haven’t completely humiliated themselves and I’m going to be 50 next year, which makes me think ‘If I don’t do this now then it’s never going to happen’. The idea of Justin doing it, things came very easily and actually make it seem very appealing, like doing this EP with Danny from Ladytron, and [Mercury Award winning producer] Jim Abbiss, actually it seems a bit crazy not to do it.”

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he new EP, ‘Blind Spot’ is a triumphant return, glistening with Lush’s dreamlike sensibility. “The time to get the EP together was massively difficult,” Miki admits. “Trying to get these five people into the same space took acres of planning.” Written by Emma, who in a post-Lush world kept her hand in musically with her band Sing-Sing, Miki braced herself for a bumpy return to songwriting. “It would almost feel like I was guesting on vocals if I hadn’t had any involvement so I did say I’d quite like to have a stab at writing the lyrics,” she says. “I hadn’t written a bloody thing for 20 years and I thought ‘Fucking hell, what did I used to write about?’ Twenty years on I can’t write about broken relationships when I’ve been with

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someone for the best part of 15 years or sassy put-downs of appalling men, so it took quite a lot of goes. I did look at it and go ‘That’s just awful, I can’t sing that’ but I think I got there. You think what shall I write about, what’s in my life? Well I’m not gonna write a song about shopping at Ocado or governing bodies at school.” To be fair, most of Lush’s fans are in that place too now, and Miki knows it. “I’m still at work,” she laughs. “And will be throughout this whole thing. My other life is keeping me grounded, it’s almost a weird parallel existence, it’s not actually going to change what I do every day. Like being a superhero, I go home and change costume and become Miki from Lush.” Worried about her guitar skills after two decades, she is in the throes of an intense rehearsal schedule. “The hardest thing is trying to fit everything in,” she admits. “I’ve tried to practise but it’s fucking hopeless because my daughter wants to talk about her maths teacher or I’ve got to put the sausages on.” With only two months until the first gigs, the band have since announced they will play Coachella Festival and head over to the States for a short tour. “To be honest it was always going to be more than one or two shows because it does actually take a lot of work for

the other thing is, fucking hell, thank god for Youtube, because I can see what the bloody hell I’m playing. I’ve spent, honestly, hours of freezing the frame and trying to count which fret I’m on.” There was a line in Russell Senior’s memoir ‘Freak Out The Squares’ where he says that re-learning the guitar after so many years for the Pulp reformation was a case of “his fingers remembering what his brain forgot” and Miki laughs in recognition of this. “Yes, that works to some extent but I was sitting there cursing, going ‘Why didn’t we just write three-chord bloody songs?’ There’s so many weird chords, and it’s tricky because I’ve got to sing and play at the same time and I’ve not done either for 20 years, but I think what’s really good fun is that when we do go and rehearse there is an element of going ‘Oh yeah I remember how this one goes’.”

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hile Miki might not be forthcoming on what the band will actually play, there is a cacophony of fans who know what they would like to hear. Lush existed in a pre-internet world, but in 2016 just a cursory glance at social networks and you face a barrage of comments ranging from ‘I hope they only play songs from ‘Spooky’ to ‘They better not play anything from ‘Lovelife’. Lush fans seem to be split into two camps. ‘Shoegaze’ Lush and ‘Britpop’ Lush. With a sigh Miki says, “The thing about the internet, as great as it is as a tool of communication, I think sometimes people just say shit because they’ve got a platform. We’ve just announced a load of American dates and immediately half the people are ‘Great I’m going to get my ticket’ and the other half are like ‘Why aren’t you playing in my village hall?’ and all sorts of outrage and entitlement. I understand people are disappointed but previously you’d be disappointed and you’d get over it. Now there’s a platform and everybody wants to feel that they’ve got a million allies because when they complain everyone complains along with them. It’s actually just a terrific waste of time. At the end of the day we’ve got a finite amount of time that we can fit this into and so we will play a handful of gigs.” As for the Britpop versus shoegaze debate, Miki has equally strong opinions. “Britpop is a weird one for us because although we were bracketed in it for a while I don’t think we ever felt part of that. In fact, we felt quite rejected by it. We were accused of coat-tailing on it and some of that is because Jarvis sang on a song, but we were friends with a lot of these people. We certainly never set out to write a Britpop album and even if we did then it was shockingly bad timing because by

“IT’S QUITE A HILL TO CLIMB AND I JUST WANT TO ENJOY IT AND NOT BE FROZEN IN SOME STATE OF PANIC.” us to get all the songs rehearsed and for me to get up to speed playing live,” Miki reveals. “Once you’ve done all that work you ain’t gonna play just one gig, that would be ridiculous. But at the same time it’s not like we’re all footloose and fancy-free. We are having to fit all the touring in around kids and work and god knows what, so it’s a slightly middle compromise.” As for the setlist, Miki isn’t giving away any clues. “A lot of it is dictated by what we played in the past,” she does admit. “There were some songs that were just impossible to play, and

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then it was all kind of over anyway. “When Emma wrote [1990 EP] ‘Sweetness And Light’ people were going ‘Oh are you trying to get in on the baggy scene?’ Well hardly, it’s just we’re writing a song that is unmistakably us. No one is going to confuse that with The Happy Mondays and I think that even with shoegaze, if us, Ride and My Bloody Valentine had existed at completely different times I don’t think anyone would necessarily put us in the same camp. I think I have more of a problem with the Britpop thing personally, partly because it was something that I didn’t like very much. I thought that shoegaze, for all the sneering jibes, was much more about the music and it was also a fuck of a lot less sexist. There were a lot of girls in those bands who weren’t treated like dolly birds and sex symbols. The Britpop brashness and the swagger, it really isn’t what we were about to be honest.”

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n the mid-’90s Britpop heyday, Emma and Miki were pushed to the fore as leading ladies of the scene alongside Donna and Justine from Elastica. It was not an easy transition. “Listen, I love to put a bit of slap on and wear a miniskirt,” Miki says when asked how she felt being styled as a “ladette sex symbol”.

“That’s not my problem. I don’t want to be allied with Denise Van Outen, it’s just not my thing. I actually thought Elastica were great and really they escaped that whole miniskirt thing, they were very tomboyish, but there seemed to be more of a polarisation of the girls and the boys and it was mainly because the boys started to act like football hooligans. When shoegaze was around, that was actually more androgynous. Bilinda and Debbie from the Valentines weren’t plastered on the covers as sex symbols, it was seen as a band and were seen as musicians primarily and I preferred that.” With our interview coming to a close, we ask one final question. Miki, unsurprisingly struggles with finding the right words. “It was one of the big stumbling blocks,” she says when asked what she thinks Chris would make of their reunion. “I do remember thinking ‘How am I going to handle being on stage and looking around and not seeing Chris?’ It’s going to be really upsetting, but the good thing was that Justin was involved quite early on. It felt really natural because he did know Chris, it felt more organic and I’m still in touch with Chris’ family and one of his oldest friends, who he used to be in a band with, I remember early on saying ‘Oh I think we might be doing this reformation’ and he said Chris would be bang into it. He’s always at

the forefront of our minds. It is difficult at times in that it does stir up a lot of sadness. He should still be here, but I think he’d be happy for us. He’d find some joke to crack anyway.” In his book, Russell Senior describes Chris as “The life and soul of the Britpop party. The epitome of the ‘scene’ and made everyone’s face light up when he entered the room’. For me Britpop started with Chris as its brightest ornament and ended when he committed suicide.” Now all that remains is for Lush to re-find their light and honour Chris’ music and memory. Still wracking with nerves over that initial gig, Miki reminds herself that “There’ll be a lot of love in the room. That’s the phrase that keeps coming up and I’m sure it will be really exciting. It’s quite a hill to climb and I just want to enjoy it and not be frozen in some state of panic. It should be a great atmosphere and it should be really energising. I’m looking forward to enjoy it.” And beyond the gigs, will there be a new album, a tour of the UK? “I can’t honestly even bloody think,” she laughs. “Ask me after the first gig.” ‘Blind Spot’ is out April 15th on Edamame Lush play the London Roundhouse on the 6th and 7th of May

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With their first non-soundtrack release since 2011’s ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’ arriving in the shape of ‘The Wilderness’, Texan postrock titans EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY are aiming to once again establish themselves as the best in the business as Rob Mair discovers. 74

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EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

THE ECSTATICS THREE BANDS TO MAKE YOU FEEL EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY-STYLE GOOEY…

YNDI HALDA

Nearly a decade since the release of their critically acclaimed debut ‘Enjoy Eternal Bliss’, the south-coast-based heroes are finally getting around to unleashing the follow-up. Titled ‘Under Summer’, it’s a sprawling, complicated post-rock opera and, in a break from tradition for the instrumental mob, also features some rather wonderful vocal work. Get excited…

FOXING

Having broken free from the emo revival tag, Missouri’s Foxing delivered one of the most spellbinding albums of 2015 with the achingly beautiful ‘Dealer’. While the song structures are far more traditional than that of Explosions in the Sky, Conor Murphy is blessed with a vocal that will haunt your dreams. Sweepingly gorgeous yet epic on a scale to rival their peers, if you missed out on tickets to see Explosions in the Sky in April, Foxing’s low-key European tour could serve as an enjoyable and rewarding alternative.

When I first saw that ‘The Wilderness’ had nine songs I was really surprised. I was expecting ninety-plus minutes of postrock bliss. But then the run time of each song is relatively brief. It feels like ‘The Wilderness’ is pushing into something new and that you’re stretching your muscles. Was it a case that you wanted to challenge yourself in this way in the studio? Mark T. Smith (guitar): “Yes, for sure. By the time the album comes out in April, we will have been a band for seventeen years. That’s the fun of it, the experimenting and challenging. But you also don’t want to force it; you just have to recognise what is best for each song. It would be crazy if we came out with an album of thirty five songs that were all two minutes long, but then you’re just doing things for the sake of doing them or for attention. But as we wrote these songs, we could find them reaching the points where we got fulfilled and satisfied by them, and in some cases those points turned out to be much shorter than songs on past albums.... And that fulfilment is what you’re looking for. If it turns out to feel unique from what you have previously done, then that’s the best-case scenario.”

I understand the concept of space was a big consideration for this record. The first time I listened to it, there was news breaking that they think there might be a supermassive planet in our solar system which is why Uranus and Neptune have elliptical orbits. It’s pretty mind-blowing. “That’s about exactly the kind of thing we were drawn to. Our last couple albums have been somewhat personal and inward-looking, and we wanted to do something grander. So we looked up and out.”

Does this also tie into the title, with space arguably being the last great unexplored wilderness?

WE LOST THE SEA

We Lost The Sea found themselves in the unexpected position of going toe-to-toe with heavy hitters Caspian for post-rock album of 2015 with their astonishingly complex ‘Departure Songs’. That it came just two years after the suicide of vocalist Chris Torpey makes ‘Departure Songs’ all the more powerful. Deciding to go down the instrumental route, the Sydney-based outfit delivered a brave and bold take on post-rock that absolutely deserves your time.

“Precisely. I think when you hear the word ‘wilderness’, your mind jumps to trees and rivers and stuff like that. But the working title of the record was ‘Infinite Wilderness’. It’s that concept of the forever unknowable wilderness that spills out into space and goes on and on and on. Who knows what is going on out there? And we linked it with the same infinite unknowable that takes place inside the wilderness of our brains. I wouldn’t really say this album ‘explores’ those wildernesses, but we just wanted to respect them and

evoke them and get lost in them.”

I was surprised when I heard the first ‘single’, ‘Disintegration Anxiety’. It’s not a traditional Explosions In The Sky song… “Well, to be honest it was a bit of a last-minute curveball. We aren’t a ‘single’ band, of course, so we never really know what to do in these situations. When we finished the album, the song ‘The Ecstatics’ immediately felt like the most natural ‘single’, because it’s short and kind of likeable and catchy. But our friends who have heard the album always mentioned ‘Disintegration Anxiety’, and it just felt more right, like it captured more of the direction and strange energy of the album.”

Now, with a rather large catalogue of work behind you, a lot of the songs have a particular emotional pull, is it hard to get the same connection out of compositions such as ‘Your Hand In Mine’ or ‘First Breath After Coma’ or ‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’? “Yeah, I mean I know what you mean... We have played ‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’ at probably literally every show we’ve played in the last twelve years, and ‘Your Hand in Mine’ at probably ninety percent of those so they could easily become rote and ho-hum. But I don’t know... We’re still the people who wrote those songs. I still feel those feelings. I still see people getting really excited when we start to play them. It’s impossible not to be affected by that, and I really have an... I don’t know, appreciation or even awe that songs can hold up in that way and still have an ability to move you.”

Also, I guess people can react in wildly different ways. With no lyrics, people put whatever emotion or story they want to a song. But have you ever encountered wildly different interpretations and reactions to the same song? “I am way into this... even reading people’s comments for when we just put out ‘Disintegration Anxiety’, you get some people commenting that ‘Oh I love this, it’s so peaceful’ and others saying ‘I keep turning it up louder and louder, this rocks my ass off and makes my head want to explode.’ How can two people listen to the exact same thing and hear it so differently? It’s a litmus test or a Rorschach.” ‘The Wilderness’ is out April 1st on Bella Union

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DRIVE LIKE JEHU

DAN SARTAIN

OMAR SOULEYMAN

COULD THIS BE ONE OF THE BEST ATP LINE UPS EVER? CURATED BY POSTHARDCORE TRAILBLAZERS DRIVE LIKE JEHU, THE LATEST 2.0 EVENT HAS BEEN COMPILED WITH IMMACULATE TASTE. EXCLUSIVELY FOR LOUDER THAN WAR, DRIVE LIKE JEHU AND ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT (WHO ALSO FEATURE) MAINMAN JOHN REIS GIVES JOHN ROBB THE LOWDOWN ON THE BILL THAT HE AND HIS BANDMATES HAVE ASSEMBLED. ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT “None of us is getting any younger and since this has never happened before then this is the perfect opportunity to bring us all together and do it. When I play in either band it’s not a case of split personalities; I don’t wear different hats for each band. It’s always myself. The music can be quite different but for the most part we share lots of similarities and tastes and interests and the sounds that we gravitate towards.”

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MISSION OF BURMA

DIAMANDA GALÁS

DIAMANDA GALÁS

FLAMIN’ GROOVIES

“For us she is this mythical artist; she’s like a satanic presence – Completely terrifying in the best possible sense. There is so much mystery wrapped around what she does. We really do love her music and what she represents. I even consider what she does to be rock ‘n’ roll; there is Elvis in what she is doing. I don’t know if she would agree with that but I can hear that in there. It might be a deconstructed version of rock ‘n’ roll, similar to what Drive Like Jehu is about.”

“Flamin’ Groovies are a veteran band and that’s why it’s so important for me to make sure that if they played, then Ray Loney would be the singer. I always identify with that earlier version of the band – they occupy a place similar to MC5, in the sense that they were very much influenced and inspired by the primitive rock ‘n’ roll of the fifties and then turned it upside down – it was the antithesis of flower power.”


DRIVE LIKE JEHU/ATP 2.0

MARTIN REV ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT

KING KHAN AND THE SHRINES/BBQ SHOW

ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT KING KAHN

METZ “These are really good. We recently became friends with them and we did a collaboration that will be put out in time for ATP. We recorded one of their songs with them and they recorded one of mine. I really see them as being a band of the moment, they channel the same influences as Drive Like Jehu – They have a powerful and dense sound.”

KING KAHNMETZ

“I can’t think of a better band right now. I’ve seen King Khan and the Shrines two or three times over the past five years and every time it’s been the best show I have seen that year. They work so well in front of a large audience. He really works the crowd so well and it’s amazing to see a front person with that amount of energy – it’s insane. I don’t want to play after them, to tell the truth.”

SOULSIDE “They are going to be performing their ‘Hot BodiGram’ record in its entirety, which is a great touch. Both Rick and me were very influenced by that record, I remember buying it the day it came out. We were on the way to Los Angeles to record our previous band Pitchfork, and we put the album on and listened to it all the way to LA, over and over again. It immediately changed the trajectory of the way we went into recording.”

OMAR SOULEYMAN MISSION OF BURMA “They are a massive influence on our two bands and Pitchfork, the group we had before. They still are, they seem to be even better now. The last time I saw them was a couple of years ago, and they were great. They still put out new records and at this point into their reformation have probably lasted longer than the first time around.”

WIRE “Those first three records are some of the best music ever created. As a guitar player, I really identify with that monolithic dirge sound that they have in some of their songs. It’s very monochromatic, very repetitious and ultimately very heavy – it’s an enormous sound. I know enough to not expect them to play any of that stuff, but it would be amazing.”

“I think there is a total similarity between him and Suicide – to me, he seems like a Syrian version of Suicide or something like that. Maybe because he is so idiosyncratic that he doesn’t fit into his own geographical location and he sounds like something else. That is definitely part of it, as well as the presentation of the music and the way that he has the poet that travels with him reading the verse he comes out to.”

ultimately completely badass, yet it is just a guy on a microphone and another on a Farfisa organ.”

EL VEZ “He’s a great friend. He’s always reinventing himself and coming back with different versions. He is such a showman – He always puts on such a great show. He’s hilarious and massively talented. His latest show is his punk rock review backed by this band from Seattle, the Schizophonics, who are doing their own set at ATP as well – I cannot wait for people to see them, they won’t know that they are in for.”

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY “I’m so happy to see her play, she is always fantastic. She tours over here once HOLLY GOLIGHTLY a year, but we never get the opportunity to see her play with her English band, with Bruce Brand on drums and that’s such a great band. They really know how to back her up so well. Usually over here, it’s a two-piece thing, and that’s great, but I just miss some of those older songs because of how minimal and how rootsy her sound has gone.”

DAN SARTAIN “We know him really well, I’ve produced a couple of his records and toured with him, so it would not feel right unless he was there .We will see if he has reinvented himself again as, I’ve not seen him do this new version of ‘Dan Sartain 3.0’, or shall we call it ‘4.0’ this time?”

MARTIN REV “We wanted Suicide represented in some way; with one or, both – in some capacity. We wanted them there at the festival. The music of Suicide is very inspiring to me. It’s violent; it definitely harkens back to the early rock ‘n’ roll music of the fifties, and is deconstructed in a way that doesn’t resemble that. It’s menacing, it is very confrontational and it is

WIRE

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JAMES SKELLY EXPLAINS TO LOUDER THAN WAR’S FERGAL KINNEY HOW KRAUTROCK AND SOLO ALBUMS REIGNITED THE CORAL, LEADING TO THE MUSICAL WIZARDRY OF ‘DISTANCE INBETWEEN’, THEIR FIRST ALBUM IN SIX YEARS...

“W

E were just burnt out,” explains James Skelly, singer and chief songwriter of the Coral, “we’d ran out of steam, we were done”. At the tail end of 2010, the Coral – for the first time in over a decade – had nothing pencilled in the diary for the year ahead. It was to stay that way for another few years. A prolific ten years of incessant recording and touring would give way to a five year hiatus. Now, the Coral have released their long-awaited seventh studio album, ‘Distance Inbetween’. It very nearly never happened. Between their 2002 self-titled debut and the shimmering jangle pop of 2010’s ‘Butterfly House’, the elder Skelly brother progressed from delightfully esoteric

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and spiky songs about human-to-plant metamorphosis and sailing for the Spanish Main to a highly versatile songwriter capable of remarkable sensitivity for someone who, in person, can appear so guarded. This is the band that Noel Gallagher described as “so far ahead of their time and their peers it’s a joke”, yet they have always steadfastly avoided celebrity or being especially forwards in terms of promotion. Not that this ever did much to dent their career – five of ‘Distance Inbetween’s six predecessors were top ten hits – but the time of their self imposed hiatus at the end of 2010, the band could be forgiven for feeling disappointment at music press fatigue with their output. “We just hit a brick wall, that was it; there was nothing we could do about it.”

Did he ever worry that it would be the end of the band? “I didn’t know how long it would be. It could have been ten years, it could have been fifteen years, I didn’t think that we’d never ever do anything again, but I did consider it. We wouldn’t have come back unless we thought we had something that was good enough to stand next to the others.” For the band, it was hard to get a sense of where to go after ‘Butterfly House’ – as an album it seemed to crystallise so much of what they had aspired to over the previous decade, loaded with so many reference points to their favourite West Coast fetishes like Love and the Byrds, that – in James’ words – “it felt more like a full stop”. Skelly knew that any future Coral album would have to sound different – darker, heavier and with much more space. The band’s rhythm section had played together for near on two decades – why not begin to utilise that? Shortly after the release of ‘Butterfly House’, the band went back into the studio with producer John Leckie and completed

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THE CORAL

half an album of material that was eventually canned – though it was from these sessions that the germ of what would become ‘Distance Inbetween’ was born. “We tried to do this album, but we didn’t know how to do it,” says James, “the concept was the same – we wanted it to be heavier, more minimal – but we just didn’t know how to do it, how to write it in an original way.”

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he band went their separate ways. Coral drummer and James’ younger brother Ian Skelly made a solo record, ‘Cut From a Star’, which was followed shortly after by James’ ‘Love Undercover’: “On my album I kind of tried to write it in styles, if I just write a song it would just be a Coral song, and what’s the point in that? So on that stuff I’d write a soul tune, then a country tune, but with my spin on it.” ‘Love Undercover’ may not have set the charts alight, but the versatility of its writing and the distance this gifted Skelly from the Coral did much to awaken some of the ideas that had been rumbling around from that

canned half record: “I kind of had to learn how to do those basics first. I sort of learned how to play riffs more, read guitar a bit. I just wrote loads of blues songs, listening to like John Lee Hooker to learn how to do it, then wrote more original things over it.” A crucial catalyst for the record became the compilations that James was putting together for the band, assembling music that he had been listening to which seemed to point in the direction that the band had been fumbling around in those discarded John Leckie sessions. Namely, a lot of Krautrock – that glorious wave of 1970’s trailblazers like Can, Neu! and Amon Duul II, pioneers of a new European sound separate from their own tortured past, inspired by Western psychedelic rock but determined to avoid an American blues tradition it didn’t see as its own. Relentless, almost tribal drums, soaring electronica and chopping, distorted guitars – all of this was to find its way into ‘Distance Inbetween’. “I’d just make some stuff for the lads, a psych comp, a Krautrock comp, that kind

of repetitive type thing, I’ve always been into that stuff, and we sort of had different compilations that we were all passing around.” As well as this, Hawkwind’s 1975 space-prog opus “Warrior At The Edge Of Time”, an album much beloved by Skelly, was to become a major touchstone on the record. Featuring such toe tappers as ‘The Wizards Blew His Horn’ and ‘Spiral Galaxy 28948’, it carries an urgency and mysticism that’s easy to hear on ‘Distance Inbetween’. Throughout most of the Coral’s lifespan, the band had three guitarists – Skelly, Lee Southall and Bill Ryder-Jones. Shortly after 2007’s ‘Roots And Echoes’, Ryder-Jones left for the second and last time, going on to forge a critically acclaimed solo career on Domino Records, frequently guesting live and on record with Arctic Monkeys. By the time the Coral began to reconvene in 2014, Lee Southall too had gone. “He had a daughter, so you know, as you would he just wanted to be with his daughter, he wanted to do his own thing”, though Skelly points out that Southall has

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every intention of returning after having released a forthcoming solo record. Instead of rushing to replace their erstwhile guitarists, Skelly was keen to turn the lack of guitars into something conducive to the writing process, a spur to write in the more minimal style he’d envisioned. “There was only four of us in the band, Paul Molloy hadn’t joined yet, I was the only guitarist so it was like, let’s turn that into the strength of a band, turn the rhythm section into the front of the band.” When it came to recording the album proper, Ian Skelly enlisted Paul Molloy, once of the Zutons and at the time playing with Ian in their ‘Serpent Power’ side project. “He was the first musician I ever met in Liverpool,” James explains, “we were both into the Small Faces and we’d just end up talking about the Small Faces and we’ve been mates since then. So it was quite natural, he just started playing all this heavy drone, psych stuff and it was like – yeah! He gets what this is!” From the woozy synths and insistent groove of opening track ‘Connector’, it’s self-evident that ‘Distance Inbetween’ is a

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clear break from the Coral’s back catalogue, and then some. Though Skelly is quick to point out that the band’s history of experimentation and dabbling in the avantgarde – their Beefheart-esque 2004 minialbum ‘Nightfreak And The Sons Of Becker’ a case in point – this is a record bursting at the seams with ideas and often quite disparate influences. “Taking something maybe avant-garde, but putting it into the format of a pop song – the idea was that there would be multiple subjects within one song. There’d be like loads of dimensions within one song, and the idea was you could move a verse from one song and it would still fit, like snippets or photographs.” The lead single ‘Miss Fortune’ (incidentally the name of a track by celebrated Krautrock band Faust), is a dazzling burst of motorik drums and glistening guitars, described by James as “like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but with Neu!”. For a band that have often seemed cheerfully out of step

with their contemporaries, the rise of neopsych bands like Tame Impala and Temples makes ‘Distance Inbetween’ a remarkably timely release for a band increasingly interested in getting away with as much experimentation as they can within pop constraints. “It’s like the second half of ‘Low’ for example, and the Beatles, on the same album they’d have ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ but also ‘Eleanor Rigby’, and I kind of like that. Some of the Beatles’ madder tracks people don’t really know, like ‘Yer Blues’, but if that was all they did they wouldn’t have many fans”.

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f you hadn’t already guessed it, this is a band led very much by their record collections. And the ballads that would once pepper a Coral release, and even Skelly’s ‘Love Undercover’, are virtually absent here - only the title track ‘Distance Inbetween’ is the only time the record really comes up for air. “Yeah, it was meant to be,” agrees Skelly, “it’s a bit more resistant”. Indeed, much of the record was recorded live in one take – “‘Butterfly House’ was still recorded live, it

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THE CORAL

Chub up your record collection with the Mods’ long-players ‘THE CORAL’

(2002) ‘MAGIC AND MEDICINE’

(2003) ‘NIGHTFREAK AND THE SONS OF BECKER’

(2004) ‘THE INVISIBLE INVASION’

(2005) ‘ROOTS & ECHOES’

(2007) ‘BUTTERFLY HOUSE’

was just more… six, seven, eight takes. This was just like three takes, pick the best one, usually the first one. And we didn’t want to iron it out too much, but it’s actually really hard to stop that, to stop yourself.” Certainly one achievement of Skelly’s from the band’s hiatus is his championing of new music, most successfully with the Stockport band Blossoms – heralded from the start by Skelly and now having just sold out the 2000 capacity Albert Hall in Manchester and enjoying inclusion on the BBC’s prestigious Sound Of 2016 shortlist. The Coral’s former label boss at Deltasonic, Alan Wills (who sadly passed in 2014) first pointed Skelly in Blossoms’ direction. He was instantly taken with the band (“If you can write ‘Blown Rose’ when you’re 20 years old, you’re going to be good”) and offered to work with them in the studio – the relationship has sustained, and Skelly has just finished producing their highly anticipated debut album at Liverpool’s Parr Street studios. “My job isn’t to pat them on the back. Every now and then you might go ‘Well done’, but you know, you’ve had five years to write this, they’re going to be asking you in a year, a year and a half for your next album - is it going to be better? That’s what I sort of think.”

The Coral are back, and Blossoms’ burgeoning success will see that a new audience will find their way to listening to this most unlikely of bands. Whatever the reaction to ‘Distance Inbetween’, Skelly is proud to have forged a career based on instincts, experimentation and ignoring the advice of an often indifferent music industry. “It’s like how Smokey Robinson would do both, and it’s going that way, the time of lazy A&R men can’t last forever, they’re clueless,” he says, “if you say to a band, ‘Jack White’s got his own label, would you sign to Jack White or some boring fella who’s never even been in a band?’ I think soon you’re going to have to produce, A&R, write, all at once...” ‘Distance Inbetween’ is out now on Ignition Records The Coral tour the UK in March and play Liverpool Sound City on May 29th

(2010) ‘DISTANCE INBETWEEN’

(2016)

“WE WOULDN’T HAVE COME BACK UNLESS WE THOUGHT WE HAD SOMETHING THAT WAS GOOD ENOUGH.” LOUDER THAN WAR the coral 4 pages.indd 4

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CALVIN JOHNSON, HIS ORIGINAL BAND BEAT HAPPENING AND HIS RECORD LABEL K RECORDS, PLANTED A FLAG IN THE GROUND OF OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON AND NEAR ENOUGH SINGLE HANDEDLY FOUNDED WHAT WE CURRENTLY UNDERSTAND AS MUSICAL COUNTER-CULTURE. K RECORDS CHAMPIONS HIGH-QUALITY ALTERNATIVE MUSIC THAT DOESN’T EASILY FIND A COMMERCIAL HOME, ALTHOUGH HE’S UNCOVERED A FEW STARS ALONG THE WAY (BEN FOLDS, BECK). A PROLIFIC WRITER AND PERFORMER, JON FALCONE CAUGHT UP WITH CALVIN WHEN HE MADE A BRIEF VISIT TO THE UK TO SUPPORT THE RELEASE OF A BEAT HAPPENING RETROSPECTIVE COMPILATION, ‘LOOK AROUND’ ON DOMINO.

What brings the compilation out now? “Do you think we should wait longer?”

No, not at all. “We have a saying in the music business, ‘now is the time’. There’s no good reason to have this compilation, but there’s no good reason not to have this compilation. So we set a balance between the two and here we are.”

What in this offering that’s new, when the re-releases of ‘Crashing Through’ came out in 2002? “Well, this is more widely available than any Beat Happening albums have been for quite some time. At K we don’t have the resources to have all the records in print all the time. So ‘Look Around’ is a way for people to get a good peek at the entire range of the Beat Happening various albums and what we’re capable of and what we did, and it’s all in one piece.”

What brought you and Domino together? “We’ve done a lot of co-releases with various labels over the years, Homestead, Fifty-Third and Third, and Domino were very enthusiastic about the idea of working with Beat Happening. A lot of our contemporaries are also associated with Domino you might say,

Galaxy 500, The Pastels and other artists we’ve worked with in the past and done shows with. They have found a home at Domino and they were all very enthusiastic about the idea when we talked to them.”

How does it feel, to acknowledge thirty years of creativity? “It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface, there so much more to do. Thirty years is the blink of an eye, there’s so much more I’m doing and so much more I’m interested in doing. I’m just getting started as I have K, and my own musical work - I’m on tour right now, playing songs.”

You never really stopped, have you? “Well, for example Halo Benders, we started recording less than a year after the last Beat Happening show. Dub Narcotic Sound System at about the same time, we put four albums out under that name, there are three Halo Bender albums and I have numerous solo albums. Then my band the Hive Dwellers , we put out an album last year, so yeah, I have various things with different names.”

How do you balance K and your music? “Well there are a lot of good people that work at K, so fortunately I don’t have to do everything.”

How does it feel to be considered an icon? “I don’t know if I am, that’s the kind of thing that’s not really my department. If

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someone asks me a question like that, it usually a music-writer, or something. I feel like that’s your department not mine when writing about an icon, or determining who is an icon or whatever. That’s not really for me to say.”

Do you feel that it’s bad language? “No, but it’s not really relevant to what I’m doing.”

So in relation to what you are doing, how’s the tour going? “Great, I’m having a great time.”

Have you played with any K bands? “No I haven’t unfortunately, except for Jeremy Jay, he joined me in London and Manchester, which was great. He has a band called Invisible Foxx, so he played those two shows.”

So is part of the fun of touring connecting with other musicians as well? “Oh yeah, we were lined up to play some shows with Jerry (Thackray, also known musically as The Legend and as the music critic Everett True) in Brighton and London, that didn’t come about as planned but I still saw him in Brighton and we hung out for a while which

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BEAT HAPPENING

“I DON’T KNOW IF I AM AN ICON. THAT’S THE KIND OF THING THAT’S NOT REALLY MY DEPARTMENT.” was great. I hadn’t seen him for years, he lived in Australia for a while. We stayed with Jerry the first time Beat Happening toured in England, that was in ‘88 so we played shows together on that tour and he used to live in Seattle, so I’ve known Jerry for ages. Jerry hasn’t recorded at Dub Narcotic though, as when he came to record, I didn’t have the studio, so we recorded at a warehouse space in town, and a garage, various places.”

The Beat Happening recording process was considered rudimental, if we look at the production qualities today... “I disagree. We were working with a very professional engineer, Steve Fisk, he’s a professional and we were working in professional studios. So if there was any lack of quality it was merely musical not technical. It was us not the technical or the production or the equipment. We were using professional recording equipment just like everybody else in a studio just like everybody else, using a professional engineer just like everybody else.”

“That’s great, that’s awesome. It’s changing everyday and it’s making it easier to create and document their work and it narrows the gap between the idea and the actuality. It’s fantastic.”

to. They just want to be the artist, they don’t want to be the record label, the producer. So there’s some people who can do all those things but maybe they’d rather concentrate on one element.”

So as a result are you being approached with more demos at K Records?

Was K Records borne of a want or necessity?

“Less. They don’t need us, they don’t need a label or a studio. They’re already way beyond what we have to offer with their telephone.”

So do you feel that eventually there will be no need for record labels?

“Well, K Records is an art project as opposed to a business. It’s always been an art project. That’s how it came about and that’s how it is today.” ‘Look Around’ is out now on Domino

“No, not at all. Just because making music is easier than ever doesn’t mean people want to do that. Some people think it’s great that they can record their music by themselves and distribute it by themselves but they don’t want

Beat Happening (L-R: Bret Lunsford, Heather Lewis, Calvin Johnson

Okay, so I need to rephrase that... Your music did not have the decorations of excessive multi-tracking... which is part of the appeal, so my question is how do you feel about the ease with which highly impactful music of a mainstream commercial quality can be made today?

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SAVAGES ADORE LIFE (Matador)

Stunning second album explores the depths of human emotion, producing a post-punk masterpiece.

9/10

W

hat makes a love song? Hearts, flowers and lashings of sloppy sentimentality? Or something else altogether? ‘Adore Life’, the new LP by Lonon quartet Savages, is ostensibly a collection of love songs, but this album deals with the ambiguous type of love that hurts, confuses and pulls you apart; dissecting the plethora of feelings experienced during the pursuit of desire. Yet, surprisingly, the overall message is joyous, an affirmation of the pure vitality of having feelings that are exceptionally visceral and very human. The subject matter is as far from the clichés as possible. The lyrics are sometimes cloaked in fine, brutal post-punk that excites the blood and quickens the intellect. At other

times, on tracks like ‘Adore’, the music is suitably moody, a perfect foil for the clarity of the vocals. The effect is directly immersive, and the music at times seems to be felt as much as heard. ‘Adore Life’ is Savages’ second album. It was produced by Johnny Hostile, who also produced their first record ‘Silence Yourself’, released in 2013. ‘Silence Yourself’, an album which had a cold ferocity and drive, garnered the band lashings of praise, cementing their place on the list of bands regarded as “ones to watch”. Savages toured extensively after releasing ‘Silence Yourself’, and used a residency in New York to gauge the audience reaction to new material, rather than rushing straight back into the recording studio. Listening to ‘Adore Life’, bringing tracks Savages had tested before a live audience onto the album was a wise move. The album is a masterpiece of confrontation. Jehnny Beth’s vocals have a Souxsie and The Banshees quality at times, whilst the music often reaches a crescendo, then subsides to a minimalist single-instrumental. There are phrases where the guitars are lush, enveloping the listener in rich layers of sound, passages where Fay Milton’s uneven, yet brilliant drumming pulls the track along, lopsided and eminently fascinating. With many albums there are stand-out tracks, but ‘Adore Life’ is more of an experience to be taken as a whole. From the driving, repetitive harshness of ‘The Answer’ to the surreal beauty of ‘Mechanics’, the music fits together seamlessly. Many people have questioned the relevance of the album in the digital age; ‘Adore Life’ gives us a positive answer.

“A masterpiece of confrontation.”

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Roxy Gillespie

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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE PAINTING WITH (Domino)

A multitude of sounds painted by one America’s finest bands.

8/10

U

sing a palette of kaleidoscopic sounds, the wildly eclectic Animal Collective have produced another sonic tapestry, where at times they air on the side of incomprehensible and disorienting. ‘Lying in the Grass’ blurs the borderline between discordance and accessibility, with its squelches and bleeps and numerous twists. ‘Painting With’ is unclassifiable in terms of genre, from the head banging techno of ‘Natural Selection’ to the more subdued sounds of ‘On Delay’. Each track, as you’d expect, is wildly diverse as Animal Collective once again do as they please, neglecting any conventions or rules. The more you listen the more evident the intricacies and small nuances in each track become. Even subdued closing track ‘Recycling’ is packed with a multitude of sounds. Once again Animal Collective produce an album that will turn heads. Lee Hammond

BEN WATT FEVER DREAM (Unmade Road)

Former Everything But The Girl man with another solo effort, recorded with Bernard Butler.

8/10

I

t only took Watt two years to write and record the follow-up to his acclaimed 2014 return ‘Hendra’. A slight evolution from its predecessor in terms of sound, this new album features finally crafted songs with an organic instrumentation that gives it a certain timelessness (in an age where everything dates quickly). On ‘Gradually’, Watt describes the evolution of a relationship, backed by Butler’s guitar outbursts. The soft rock grooves of ‘Between Two Fires’ and ‘Faces of My Friends’ ingrain themselves, while the Bossa Nova stylings of ‘Running With the Front Runners’ precede the luminous ‘Bricks and Woods’, that hides the profundity of its lyrics in the simplicity of its arrangement. The record finishes with a duet with Marissa Nadler on a modern folk song entitled ‘New Year of Grace’. Craig Chaligne

& FULL OF HELL

BOB MOULD

THE BODY

PATCH THE SKY

ONE DAY YOU WILL ACHE LIKE I ACHE

(Merge)

Former Husker Du man with twelfth blistering solo album.

8/10

2

014’s ‘Beauty And Ruin’ was easily one of this writer’s albums of that year. Having done the solo acoustic thing and even experimented with electronica, Mould’s return to foot-on-the-monitor, fuzzed-out volume and velocity married to chiming melody was akin to an old friend returning home. Here, on the majestic, more introspective ‘Patch the Sky’ the subject matter often remains dark despite the euphonic bursts of joy inherent in the music. ‘Pray For Rain’ has the lightness of Laurel Canyon-era minstrels in its melody and the Ramones in its lung-bursting power. ‘Losing Sleep’ takes it down a notch with some sweet acoustic and keys amongst the trio’s tight rhythms and ‘Lucifer And God’ is a dense, churning beast. If you were a fan of HD or Bob’s last few albums, this completes the set. Joe Whyte

(Neurot)

THE BLACK QUEEN

BLOC PARTY

FEVER DAYDREAM

HYMNS

(The Black Queen)

The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato and friends reveal their dark synth pop.

8/10

T

he Black Queen is an electronica project from The Dillinger Escape Plan’s vocalist Greg Puciato, former Nine Inch Nail member and sole member of Telefon Tel Aviv Joshua Eustis, and former DEP and NIN tech Steven Alexander. Puciato has already demonstrated with his DEP work that he can sing as well as scream, and on debut ‘Fever Dream’ that sweet croon, which has a Mike Patton quality to it, is given full reign. The music has a retro feel to it, with ‘80s synth pop combined with the cold, crisp electronica that US bands like NIN do so well. ‘Ice to Never’ wouldn’t sound out of place 30 years ago, although it still retains a modern production sheen. ‘Fever Dream’ is detailed, soulful, and a pleasing outlet for Puciato’s creativity. Paul Hagen

(Infectious)

Mellow fifth album from London indie rock giants.

5/10

B

loc Party were on their best on their first two albums, with their tense and energetic indie rock anthems like ‘Banquet’, ‘Helicopter’ and ‘Hunting For Witches’, although it’s been almost a decade since those days. With a new line-up and a sound that increasingly seems to be moulded around frontman Kele Okereke’s previous solo ventures into electronica and disco pop. That’s not what the band do well and the album’s lead single, ‘The Love Within’, is a prime example of that weakness. It’s certainly diverse, from the soul flavoured ‘So Real’ to the gospel choir on highlight ‘Exes’, but this isn’t the driving, sing-along Bloc Party that made them such a big band. Asking questions about faith and belief seems to be a theme on ‘Hymns’ but maybe we should just be asking why they’re not playing to their strengths? Ariel Wimfrey

THE COATHANGERS

THE CORAL

NOSEBLEED WEEKEND

DISTANCE INBETWEEN

(Suicide Squeeze)

(Ignition)

When noise/grind meets doom.

At times more straightforward, but no less compelling!

Psychedelic Liverpool quintet with a colourful return.

7/10

7/10

7/10

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hen these two American bands get together and collaborate on an album, the only thing you can be sure of is that it won’t be easy listening. Oddly enough though, The Body’s sludgy, doom metal mixes snuggly with Full Of Hell’s intense and harsh industrial grindcore noise. Sure, the shrieking vocals and sheer musical cacophony won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s a strangely captivating audio experience. The likes of ‘The Butcher’ and ‘Gerhorwilt’ come across as if they’re the soundtrack to a Lynchian nightmare. It shouldn’t be a surprise that these two bands work so well together given their history of collaborative albums with other artists such as Merzbow and Krieg. ‘One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache’ is a lovely dose of pure unfiltered unpleasantness. Paul Hagen

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elebrating their tenth anniversary with ‘Nosebleed Weekend’, the Coathangers open the album with the straight-up ‘Perfume’. Its real brilliance lies within tracks like the eclectic ‘Squeeki Tiki’, which features actual squeaky toys alongside their trademark chanted vocals. However, there is an underlying chorus of jagged guitars that flows throughout ‘Nosebleed Weekend’, they’re particularly evident on ‘Watch Your Back’. However, ‘Down Down’ sees the band in a more straightforward and accessible setting. The lyrics are sung instead of shouted, the track is closer to classic rock than raucous garage rock. The band even touches upon the delicate side of indie rock, with closing track ‘Copycat’. ‘Nosebleed Weekend’ is a diverse album that sees The Coathangers flit between a multitude of genres, all delivered with the exquisite precision. Lee Hammond

A

fter a five year hiatus, The Coral are back in a sea of fuzzed up guitars, organ sounds and lush harmonies. ‘Distance Inbetween’ is a varied album, from the Echo and the Bunnymen-like single ‘Miss Fortune’ to last year’s single ‘Chasing the Tail of a Dream’, the blues of ‘Fear Machine’ to the glam rock of ‘Million Eyes’. There might not be anything here as strong as their top 10 singles ‘Pass It On’ and ‘In the Morning’, but that was over a decade ago and it’s clear The Coral have evolved and grown as musicians. Whether this new record is as commercially viable as their first three records is debatable but, put simply, it’s great to have a band as interesting and fun as The Coral back after these years away. Sam Cunningham LOUDER THAN WAR

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THE DANDY WARHOLS

DEFTONES

DESERT MOUNTAIN TRIBE

EMMY THE GREAT

DISTORTLAND

GORE

EITHER THAT OR THE MOON

SECOND LOVE

(Dine Alone)

(Warner)

Lazy, phoned-in album that shows little trace of former glories.

Eighth album in for the eclectic US rock band.

3/10

7/10

A

lmost 20 years ago, The Dandy Warhols released their definitive album, ‘The Dandy Warhols Come Down’. Stuffed with irresistible garage-pop gems, the album was an absolute blast and cemented the group’s carefully cultivated image as louche bohemians. 2000’s ‘Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia’ spawned the massive hit ‘Bohemian Like You’. Since then, it’s been a case of diminishing returns. The central conceit this time is that main songwriter Courtney Taylor recorded the basic tracks at home on an ‘80s tape recorder, then got the band to add their parts and brought in pop producer Jim Lowe to spruce it up for chart success. What comes across strongly is that Taylor struggles to write decent songs anymore. One weak, forgettable song after another trundles by, leaving little impression. Complacent and rather dispiriting. Gus Ironside

W

hile essentially an alternative metal band, Sacramento’s Deftones have increasingly incorporated a sense of mellowness and expansive, woozy sounds to go with the crunch and snap of their heavier tendencies. The music still has more intensity about it than that found on Chino Moreno’s side-projects Crosses and Team Sleep and they fully explore this contrast on ‘Gore’, with Sergio Vega’s decision to use a six-string bass adding additional textures to the Deftones sound. The album is an accomplished collection of songs, from the slightly sinister ‘Acid Hologram’ to the soaring ‘Phantom Bride’, which features an appearance from Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. Moreno’s distinctive vocals are in fine form throughout. It’s not going to throw up any surprises for Deftones fans but, as always, there’s an assuredness and depth of content to be found here. Paul Hagen

DAVID BOWIE BLACKSTAR (RCA)

25th album and swansong from the much-missed genius.

W

10/10

hilst 2013’s brilliant ‘The Next Day’ often felt like a whistle stop tour of his own back catalogue, ‘Blackstar’ sounds like nothing of Bowie’s before it. This is by some distance one of his most avant-garde, conspicuously art rock releases, not even sugared by a ‘Sound and Vision’ or ‘Golden Years’ as on previous more leftfield records, and is an unrelenting triumph. And whilst jazz has long been one of his formative influences and enduring passions, never until now has he made a record so fully immersed on it. The New York jazz musician Donny McCaslin is to ‘Blackstar’ what Eno was to ‘Low’ - nowhere does Bowie sound more audibly thrilled than amidst the discordant chaos of McCaslin’s soaring soprano sax on the standout ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’. Listening to the record in the short window between its release and Bowie’s death, it was easy to miss the many hints that swiftly became the focus of the record. Once imparted with the knowledge that the record is, in producer Tony Visconti’s words, Bowie’s “parting gift”, the lyrical content is frequently sobering. Mortality oozes from every line - even on the disarmingly beautiful ‘Dollar Days’ Bowie sounds truly haunted by the impending inevitable. This is a rich, textured and complex album, and one that will have a longer life in record collections than anything Bowie has put out post-’Scary Monsters’. A bona-fide belter 45 years after his first genuine classic - we will never see his like again. Fergal Kinney

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(Membran)

(Bella Union)

Beyond the infinite.

Continued evolution for Emmy.

8/10

9/10

he second album from this trio of London psych-o-nauts sees DMT voyaging deep into strange new space rock realms. Featuring very little on any scale beneath monumental, ‘Either That Or The Moon’ is grandiose without being self-indulgent. Opening with a literal blast off sequence, ‘Feel The Light’ is the first of many notable tracks. Accelerated onward by rhythmic sub-drives, it sets the tone for epic, reverb-laden excursions into widescreen psych. While ‘Take A Ride’, ‘Runway’, ‘Way Down’ and ‘Interstellar’ all provide pulsar class highlights, ‘Ends In Space’ marks the point at which the album tips into glorious sensory overload, as the trip takes a grip and new colours flash across dazzled neural receptors. Best experienced naked at dawn, broadcast through the biggest speakers, it also features a pair of unlisted tracks that extend the journey beyond our small planetary system. Dick Porter

T

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EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY

THE FALL

THE WILDERNESS

WISE OL’ MAN

(Bella Union)

A space-age concept album from the Texan post-rock titans.

9/10

W

hile Explosions in the Sky have never made a bad album – in fact they seem incapable of such things – there was perhaps a danger they were beginning to get somewhat formulaic. ‘The Wilderness’, nine tracks that feel like Explosions in the Sky-light mini-movements, neatly sidesteps such issues, being an album you can dip into and out of easily and readily, but which still retains the essence of what makes Explosions in the Sky so thrilling and majestic. ‘The Ecstatics’ and ‘Tangle Formations’ are prime Explosions and sure to please long-term fans, while ‘Disintegration Anxiety’ adds an edge to their grand sound rarely seen before. Better still is the closing salvo of ‘Colours In Space’ and ‘Landing Cliffs’, which provide a satisfying and euphoric payoff to an (inter)stellar return. Rob Mair

oming seven years after ‘First Love’, this third album from Emma-Lou Moss gives a nod to her debut with its themes, while moving on from her acoustic songwriting toward a more digital sound. This is an album that explores love, not in that heady rush and exhilaration of flirtation and lust, but the caution and hope that comes later. There is a cool detachment running through each track but also a longing for connection; the breathlessness of a vast distance made nothing. It uses technology to filter the view of love, but in its sound reflects the barrier and the connection that devices put between us all. Glacial in tone, there are layers of voice and instrument that enrich the classic songwriting at this album’s heart that makes it both of our time and timeless. Sarah Lay

(Cherry Red)

Bulletins from the strange and venerable sage.

6/10

T

his is an interim compendium that follows up last year’s excellent ‘Sub-Lingual Tablet’ with a grab bag of new material, remixes, instrumentals and even a live rendition of ‘No Xmas For John Quays’. The eponymous opening track can be interpreted as an intermittently bludgeoning and beguiling progression upon ‘50 Year Old Man’, which appeared on 2008’s ‘Imperial Wax Solvent’. The second new offering, ‘All Leave Cancelled’, is a characteristic broadcast from Smith’s inner space and the disc’s highlight. The remaining material tells us little new – ‘Venice With Girls’ panel beats the psych garage with infectious allure and ‘FB Troll’ conducts a purposeful meander toward intensity. While the remix of ‘Dedication’ is a worthwhile exercise in hectoring motorik, the remainder of the set is ballast. Dick Porter

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FAT WHITE FAMILY

FIELD MUSIC

SONGS FOR OUR MOTHERS

COMMONTIME

(Without Consent)

Sophomore album from Brixton degenerates.

Brewer brothers hit a home run of alt-pop.

8/10

10/10

W

ith songs such as ‘When Shipman Decides’ and ‘Goodbye Goebbels’, you might expect Fat White Family to be going for shock on their second album. But, thankfully, there is more to this band than that. This is an album of lo-fi, dark disco and krautrock that sends messages from the seedier side of life. It invokes dark boozers, life on welfare, casual encounters and mornings of empty wallets and throbbing heads. But there is a horrifying beauty here too, as on ‘Tinfoil Deathstar’, a song about heroin and benefit cuts. Fat White Family may not be the saviours of rock many proclaim them to be, but they are one of the few bands documenting the horror of modern Britain. They should be applauded for treading their own (off the beaten) path. Mark Ray

T

THE GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY

GUERILLA TOSS

THE DEATH OF EVERYTHING NEW (Everything New)

Former Gallows guitarist Steph Carter returns with his new rock ‘n’ roll project.

7/10

T

his project conceived by Steph Carter and his wife Gillian displays a knack for melodic tunes and anthemic choruses. Opening song ‘The Trip’ motors along nicely with Steph and Gillian both singing. The clever use of horns on ;What Could Be’ add an extra flavour to the song, while the 12-string lament ‘A Haunting’ should be compulsory listening for any people who think the last Coldplay album is great. The album loses a little bit of steam toward its second half, but the great ‘Wasteland’, with its pulsating tempo, puts it right back on track. The great ballad ‘Dark Love’ and the epic title track, with its great guitar solo, cap things off in fine style on this compelling debut. Craig Chaligne

PRIMAL SCREAM CHAOSMOSIS

(Memphis Industries)

hese Sunderland boys have been steadily building a back catalogue worthy of historic documentation. With their fifth album they’ve moved beyond even their own brand of leftfield, odd time signature pop and moved into the AOR of Steely Dan, Chicago and other US kings of jazz-obsessed pleasantness. And yet this is still unmistakably British… unmistakably the Brewis brothers. If you need proof take ‘Disappointed’; the backing vocals interject like a Darryl Hall warble and there are four different segments to the song (at least), but the flow is perfect. There’s so much here as well, Baroque waltzes, a descending circus organ nightmare to close ‘Trouble At The Lights’. ‘Good Thing’ even resembles Pharrell’s ‘Beautiful (Ft Snoop Dogg)’ with its pop-flanged guitar stabs. ‘Commontime’ is a modern classic of the highest calibre. Jon Falcone

(First International)

Scots rockers release their eleventh album.

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HOLY ESQUE

ERASER STARGAZER AT HOPE’S RAVINE (DFA)

Murphy approved madness.

8/10

T

here is a type of migraine which is so severe sufferers describe going almost blind from its effects. Similar symptoms are likely to be induced in anyone who tries to listen to this whole glorious mess in one go. It’s loosely tethered to that kind of punk funk that was all the rage a few years back, (the good stuff from that era I mean, before it went all mimetic and bland) but with elements of hip hop, funk, afrobeat, plus anything else they feel like throwing in. That’s not to say it isn’t without its charms, it’s great to hear a record that is rhythmic and yet unpredictable, although if you tried to dance to a lot of this music people would think you are having some kind of seizure. Kathleen Hanna looms large but that is simply the icing on the bonkers cake really. James Batty

8/10

he recent ‘Screamadelica’ silver jubilee celebrations may just have re-ignited the Primal Scream team, as the new album shows encouraging signs of their past glories. Written and produced by Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes, ‘Chaosmosis’ is a polished album with some gorgeously pure instrumentation. Album opener, ‘Trippin’ On Your Love’ is addictive from the first note and provides a catchy, commercial track which should see it receive radio airplay by the bucketload. ‘Chaosmosis’ isn’t all classic Scream though, as some tracks falter into slow, soulless interludes, but it’s on tracks like ‘100% Or Nothing’ and the first single to be lifted, ‘Where The Light Gets In’ (a duet with Sky Ferreira), that they shine brightly. On possibly their best album since 2006’s ‘Riot City Blues’ (which spurned the classics ‘Country Girl’ and ‘Nitty Gritty’), they certainly regain some of their old magic. ‘When the Blackout Meets the Fallout’ is one minute and fifty seconds of sheer unadulterated brilliance, with a steaming throb of a bassline and an anarchic screech prompting memories of ‘Miss Lucifer’ and 2002’s ‘Evil Heat’ masterpiece. Sometimes sounding like a hybrid of New Order and Erasure, they’ve certainly gone for the mainstream jugular with ‘Chaosmosis’ and have largely succeeded, though more rock and less roll would have made it a best of the year contender. Three years in the making, it’s a positive welcome back on a glossy ten track offering. Paul Scott-Bates

(Beyond the Frequency)

INTO IT. OVER IT. STANDARDS (Triple Crown)

Indie rockin’ Scots.

Ambitious indie rock from emo stalwart.

8/10

8/10

H

oly Esque play a kind of sophisticated, slightly leftfield indie that raises them beyond the preconceived limitations inherent in the genre and as such should see them appeal to a broader audience, as it is difficult to dismiss them as readily as many of this ilk. In the same way as bands like Editors find fans amongst a wide spectrum of people, the post-punky atmospheric stylings of these guys should see them have a similar appeal. It’s anything but cozy and is certainly designed to create maximum drama, but amongst the desolation is a genuine beauty in a ‘Killing Moon’ kind of a way. The esoteric nature of the vocals might feel slightly affected to some ears but overall ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ is certainly a very promising debut and might take them all the way. James Batty

W

atching Into It. Over It. grow from being a somewhat rough and ready emo solo project for Evan Weiss (Pet Symmetry, Their/They’re/There, The Progress) to a fully-realised indie rock juggernaut has been nothing short of spectacular. ‘Standards’ is the final stage in this evolution and it’s a grand statement from a man who gets better with every release. There’s a strong Death Cab For Cutie feel throughout (no doubt thanks to the production input of John Vanderslice), but a rawness to songs such as ‘Closing Argument’ or the off-kilter charm of ‘No EQ’ ensure this is far from a work of hero worship. The opening third in particular is superb – it’ll be hard to find a better opening quartet of indie rock songs this year – while the closing third is so sumptuously arranged it’ll make you swoon with giddiness. Rob Mair

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ALL THE KING’S MEN MAKING MY ESCAPE (Angel Hill)

8/10 his five track EP from Manchester’s All The King’s Men comes on like a weird yet wonderful mix of Madchester bands and the Kings Of Leon. Funk-infused opener ‘Fever’ is a rousing, energetic opener, while follow-up ‘Someday’ takes the energy levels down, is mellow but still has a great chorus. ‘City Lights’ is a rock ‘n’ roller that shows their diversity. Matthew Holland’s vocals are what make All The King’s Men a truly exciting prospect. AW

T

NZCA LINES INFINITE SUMMER (Memphis Industries)

7/10

M

ain man and Metronomy live member Michael Lovett returns with the follow-up to 2012’s critically acclaimed NZCA Lines self-titled album. This time he’s been joined by Charlotte Hatherley (ex-Ash) and Sarah Jones (played with NYPC and Hot Chip). The album achieves its aim to “marry sci-fi futurism to personal intimacies”, and fans of Daft Punk and Prince will enjoy the likes of the synth-fuelled ‘Persephone Dreams’ and ‘Dark Horizon’. SC

JOHN FRANCIS

KULA SHAKER

MARK WYNN

SATURN

K2.0

THE SINGLES

(John Francis)

(Strange Folk)

(Harbinger Sound)

Honest and emotional British singersongwriter.

London psychedelic rockers unveil fifth full-length.

Collection from ranting, angry Londoner.

6/10

7/10

7/10

J

n 1996, readers of a British music publication voted the Kula Shaker debut ‘K’ as the best album of all-time. Much water has passed under the bridge since then, but leader Crispin Mills can still write some fine and complex tunes. Lead track ‘Infinite Sun’, with its opening mantra, promises to be the perfect sequel to the band’s first attempt, with its rock riff and George Harrison inspired chants, while ‘Death Of Democracy’ nods in the direction of the Levellers. ‘Hari Bol’ is full of Eastern promise and ‘Get Right Get Ready’ raises the roof as the band breeze through eleven new tracks – their first new album since 2010’s ‘Pilgrims Progress’. Sadly there’s a little too much safe M.O.R. here, maybe aiming at the ‘K’ generation rather than new fans, though ‘Mountain Lifter’ ends the album as well as it started. Paul Scott-Bates

I

A

MING CITY ROCKERS

MUGSTAR

LEMON

MAGNETIC SEASONS

MULL HISTORICAL SOCIETY

ohn Francis has been doing his thing for a while now and this LP, a selection of nine tracks “compiled in my bedroom on a Sony cassette recorder” is as good a point as any to become familiar with his music. As raw and rough ‘n’ ready as you’d expect from his recording methods, opener ‘Shot’ is a panicked and rousing call for help, while the likes of ‘So Complex’, ‘I Don’t Want to Go Through That Again’ and ‘Standing on the Edge’ suggest some troubled times that music has steered Francis through. Musically there’s certainly nods to the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed’s solo work too, as well as John Cooper Clarke. A challenging yet absorbing listen, it’s clear that John Francis had to make this album and the results are these refreshingly open and unpolished songs. Sam Cunningham

s a labelmate of Sleaford Mods, it’s not really surprising that Mark Wynn’s music is basic, angry and streetwise – full of Cockney ranting and random, stabbing guitars. It’s far from an easy listen, but that’s probably the point. This 18 track LP is a compilation of tracks from two years of limited self-released CDs and has an undeniable bleakness and humour to tracks such as ‘I Just Don’t Understand Nick Cave’, ‘Rip Off The Fall’, ‘Real Sausages Made by a Real Butcher’, ‘She Fancies Me That One in Age Concern’ and ‘The Girl Who Looked Like Bobby Gillespie’. Fans of the Sleaford Mods and John Cooper Clarke might well find plenty to enjoy in Wynn’s unhinged, uncompromising music. For the unitiated, those artists might be a better in, as ‘The Singles’ is impressive in that it’s anything but accessible. Ariel Wimfrey

TELEGRAM OPERATOR (Gram Gram)

9/10 umping straight back into the ‘70s, Telegram have brought together the best parts of Krautrock and have put their own modern twist on the proto-punk era with this primitive collection of mind-altering noise. Single, ‘Taffy Come Home’ presents Bowie-esque vocals and a Neu! like vibe with heavy, aggressive drum beats. ‘Inside/Outside’ carries psychedelic guitar riffs that spiral around. Like a fairground ride, ‘Operator’ leaves you dizzy and confused, but wanting to go again. AG

J

THERAPY? TIDES EP (Amazing Record Co)

7/10 he long-standing Northern Irish rock trio find the third single from 2015’s well received ‘Disquiet’ album joined by a couple of new tracks, plus a remix of ‘Insecurity’ from industrial/electro producer Pitchphase. Cleverly labelling the lead track as akin to material from their 1994 punk/metal breakthrough album ‘Troublegum’, it’s a chunky blast of hard edged pop. It seems much more refined than the extras, which appear rawer by comparison. MA

T

88

(Mad Monkey)

(Rock Action)

A high-speed rock ‘n’ roll car chase of a second album from young Lincolnshire quartet.

Elongated space rock jams. Let your mind dissolve in the Liverpudlians’ krautrock grooves.

8/10

8/10

T

he second album from Immingham four-piece Ming City Rockers, ‘Lemon’, is a good dose of ballsy rock with dollops of punk sensibility. Think of a cross between AC/DC and the Ramones with a side order of Buzzcocks and you might be getting close. ‘Lemon’, produced by the great Steve Albini, has bristling energy and infectious choruses, ranging from the power pop of ‘Christine’ to the out and out rock of ‘Sell Me a Lemon’. Ming City Rockers’ music is electrically charged, with screaming vocals trying to tear a hole in your eardrums. Even the cover of the Hawkwind track ‘Death Trap’ is fiery and riff heavy. ‘Lemon’ is a power-driven ride throughout. A must for anyone who likes their music with a high voltage. Roxy Gillespie

B

ack with a new album hot on the wheels from their collaboration with former Can singer Damo Suzuki, this new record cements their reputation as one of the best instrumental bands out there. The tracks twist and turn, evolving from peaceful soundscapes to full-on sonic assaults (‘Time Machine’). With pieces like ‘Remember the Breathing’ and ‘Ascension Island’, the band manage to convey stories, moods and feelings with their psych/space/ krautrock, despite the absence of any lyrics. ‘La Vallee’ gives you visions of an endless walk through a deserted landscape without a soul in sight, whereas the analogue synths of ‘Magnetic Season’ transport you into a dark forest with humidity dripping from the trees. The latest in a growing and impressive back catalogue, ‘Magnetic Seaons’ is a full-on assault on the senses. Craig Chaligne

DEAR SATELLITE (Xtra Mile)

Driving pop from Scottish songsmith.

7/10

‘D

ear Satellite’ is Colin MacIntyre’s (aka Mull Historical Society) seventh album and it’s a polished, impressive piece of work from start to finish. Produced by Grammy award-winning Don Morley (Amy Winehouse, Adele, Grinderman), it’s packed with soaring, textured pop songs that are full of life and energy. From the rousing Arcade Fire-like, synth-infused indie rock of ‘The Ballad of Ivor Punch’ and the reflective, sprawling album closer ‘Farewell to Finisterre’, it’s clear MacIntyre’s work is evolving. The brightness of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and ‘This Little Sister’ to the acoustic strummings of classic sounding Mull Historical Society of ‘Each Other’ and ‘All the Love Remains’ will satisfy long-time fans. A mix of music with space and punchy pop, this is the sound of an artist on top form. He really does deserve to go interstellar. Sam Cunningham

LOUDER THAN WAR

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MYSTERY JETS

NADA SURF

CURVE OF THE EARTH

YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE

(EMI)

Another strong effort by Matthew Caws’ cohorts.

7/10

9/10

M

P

O’BROTHER

THE PONCES

ENDLESS LIGHT

SONGS FOR HOPE ABOUT DESPAIR

(Triple Crown/Favorite Gentleman)

Dark and moody noise from Atlanta behemoths.

6/10

I

f you’ve ever had the fortune of seeing O’Brother live, you’ll know that the Atlanta, Georgia quintet can conjure up some truly mesmerising, atmospheric slabs of noisy, pulsating alt-rock. Sadly, they’ve never been able to match this experience on record, and while ‘Endless Light’ comes closest to showcasing O’Brother at their brooding best, it’s still not quite at the level of their live show. On the plus side, ‘Endless Light’ sounds incredible, possessing such a full, rich sound it’ll make your head spin. ‘Your Move’ builds to such an incredible conclusion it’ll leave you on the verge of sensory overload, while ‘Complicated End Times’ showcases Tanner Merritt’s stunning vocals at their epic best. However, ‘Endless Night’ feels somewhat pedestrian and it would be nice to have some light, even just a momentary flash, among the endless dark. Rob Mair

POST POP DEPRESSION

(City Slang)

Not out of this world, but definitely taking off.

ystery Jets have certainly shown their musical development through this new, sophisticated alt-pop album. It’s more mature than anything they’ve released before, showing that they have certainly grown up a lot since the days of ‘Young Love’. The London band seem to have transcended their roots and have Americanised themselves to produce something that is very with the time. ‘Curve of the Earth’ takes on a chilled out, synthetic atmosphere that is almost hypnotising, with the song ‘Saturnine’ (a particular favourite) reverberating with Lennon like vocals. The other tracks have fallen into the trap of generating the same guitar sound found sprouting from bands such as Catfish and the Bottlemen. Although they’ve lost their ‘80s quirkiness, the Mystery Jets have successfully reinvented themselves within the new scene of indie wave groups. Abigail Gillibrand

IGGY POP

robably one of the most underrated bands of the ‘90s US alternative scene, New York’s Nada Surf had one of its strongest songwriters (and distinctive singers) with Matthew Caws. Their latest (their seventh studio album of original material) is another excellent album full to the brim with their thoughtful pop rock. ‘Cold To See Clear’ starts the proceedings on an upbeat note. The urgency of ‘New Bird’ and ‘You Know Who You Are’ is offset by the jangly ‘Out Of The Dark’ and ‘Victory’s Yours’. Former Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard adds subtle touches that make a difference and the rhythm section of Ira Elliot and Daniel Lorca anchors the songs. On slower songs, such as ‘Animal’ or ‘Rushing’, Caws’ deft touch as a lyricist shines through with simplicity and effectiveness. Craig Chaligne

(Universal)

Still worth a million in prizes.

M

any of the ongoing celebrations of his life and work that are continuing to emerge in the wake of David Bowie’s untimely death recounted his collaborations with Iggy Pop. Kindred spirits, they intersected at several junctions across the years, and in the release of ‘Post Pop Depression’ there is a sense that they have once more moved into some kind of alignment. Setting aside ambiguous rumours that this may be Iggy’s final album (fuelled in part by reported claims that he was, ‘Closing up after this’), ‘Post Pop Depression’ shares common ground with Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ in that it is his best release for some considerable time. Like ‘Blackstar’, Iggy’s 17th studio album bears the hallmarks of a unique life, lived at the extremes and to the full, which maturity and experience have duly fermented into a form of creative wisdom. The most evident demonstration of this is to be found within Iggy’s vocal phrasing – in tracks such as mesmerising opener ‘Break Into Your Heart’, every laconic syllable that emerges from his increasingly honeyed larynx is delivered with calculated precision. As he sings of ‘American Valhalla’, his lizard skin words drip with knowing. The recent recountments of Iggy’s time in Berlin with Bowie cast light upon another essential facet of his new release that enables ‘Post Pop Depression’ to be interpreted as the latest in a lineage of great collaborations that now spans five decades. Josh Homme’s deft production and artful contributions show that he not only assimilated the notes Pop passed him about working with Bowie, but also that he had the guile and imagination to crystallize them into something special. Dick Porter

MOGWAI ATOMIC

(Sub-Ver-Siv)

London collective send us back to the days of Pinkie Brown and Chelsea smiles.

7/10

T

here’s a good vibe to this, plenty of voodoo rhythms, interwar evocations, upright pianos and skiffle guitars. But lets lay the cards down (even if it means this reviewer can never walk the streets of Bow again); the vocals are predominantly spoken rhymes, and they tire. They make each song sound similar when musically there’s diversity here. The lyrics are hit and miss too, ‘Victim of Circumstance’ has a great line (“The right guitar in the wrong hands, or the wrong guitar in the right hands”) and some awful ones (“What goes around comes around, what comes around goes back around”). Admittedly, this successfully evokes a time and place. But it needs better melodies and a way to better accommodate a heavily stylised vocalist. Jon Falcone

9/10

(Rock Action)

Mesmerising soundtrack from Scottish post-rock veterans.

T

9/10

his re-worked soundtrack to the BBC4 documentary ‘Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise’, follows on from the band’s acclaimed soundtracks ‘Les Revenants’ and ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’. Mogwai have always had a lot of space in their music; and they use that space to wonderful effect on ‘Atomic’. The songs are multi-layered, building up to a resolution of either horror or triumph – depending on how the miracle of the atomic world is used: to devastate or to create. The album opener, ‘Ether’, starts with tinkling sounds like falling glass, or poison rain, heralding the dawn of a morning like no other: the Atomic Age. ‘SCRAM’ has a sound of radio waves spreading across space, with a deep drum and bass sound and a discordant off beat behind the steady pulse. ‘Pripyat’ (a town in Chernobyl) has an ominous feel to it, like approaching war gods, with an Eastern European melody emerging from the doom. The final track is called ‘Fat Man’, the code name for the bomb that was dropped over Nagasaki. It starts with single piano notes, like drops in the ocean, and builds to a mournful cry of despair and horror, before ending with that single note echoing down the years. At 6 minutes long, it is 5 minutes 59 seconds longer than it took approximately 40,000 people to be killed by Fat Man. Haunting, thoughtful, moving and beautiful. Mark Ray

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SUEDE

NIGHT THOUGHTS (Warner)

Oceanic classic awash with the turbulence, regrets and desperation of middle-age.

“A consummate mélange of kitchen-sink realism and flickering, doomed romance.”

9/10

T

he second album of Suede’s post-reformation comeback, ‘Night Thoughts’ is an old-school classic record, confident in its own sense of purpose and dazzling songwriting. The album has already garnered enthusiastic plaudits from music critics, and is likely to feature highly in end-of-year lists. This somewhat redresses the balance of music journalists’ under-evaluation of the band post-Bernard Butler. Indeed, the addition of guitarist Richard Oakes and keyboardist Neil Codling resulted in two of the group’s most accomplished albums, ‘Coming Up’ (1996) and ‘Head Music’ (1999). 2013’s ‘Bloodsports’ was a fine comeback, which again didn’t receive the attention it deserved. Suede are clearly no shrinking violets, artistically speaking, choosing to enter the ring once more with the swagger and authority of a returning heavyweight champ. They are right to be confident. ‘Night Thoughts’ sounds somewhat like a Scott Walker

90

album for the current era, a consummate mélange of kitchen-sink realism and flickering, doomed romance. At 48, Brett Anderson is only too aware that the cigarette has burned past its mid-point and life is more precarious, fraught and perplexing than ever before. Musically, there’s a lot going on here, from avant-garde soundscapes to Roxy Music art-rock grandeur, yet it’s all effortlessly conflated into Suede’s elegant pop songs. The songs are segued into a seamless whole, a series of peaks that roll and crash against each other, creating rips and undercurrents that threaten to take your feet from beneath you. While the frontman is generally Suede’s focal point, the four musicians, Richard Oakes, Neil Codling, Mat Osman and Simon Gilbert, form an ensemble of considerable skill and invention. The album is clearly intended to be listened to as a whole, and it works beautifully in this context, but there are particular tracks which leap out: ‘Outsiders’ and ‘Like Kids’ sound like classic Suede singles, while ‘No Tomorrow’ is a surging joy. Like The Auteurs, Suede’s legacy seems to have grown in stature with the passing of the years. The group can now look back on an impressive body of work which continues to earn respect and admiration. ‘Night Thoughts’ is the antithesis of a complacent, late-period album; this is an ambitious, forward-looking album that succeeds on every level. Finally, a confession: I wasn’t a Suede fan per se before hearing this album; I am now. Gus Ironside

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SENNEN

SHONEN KNIFE

FIRST LIGHT

ADVENTURE

(Indelabel)

Happy songs in your heart.

8/10

3

ormed in Norwich and now based in London, Sennen have been a band for over a decade now and ‘First Light’, their fifth album, is arguably their finest work to date. With psychedelic and pop elements mixing together, there’s hints of influences such as Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Flaming Lips. Highlights include the building, seven minute trip of single ‘Autopilot’, the pulsing and stormy title track and the surprisingly indie pop feel of ‘Frances’. There’s noisy interludes, clear vocals ‘The Pilot’ and tension aplenty on ‘Still Dark’ – making this album a diverse and rewarding listen for fans of music with depth and a lack of restrictions. Turn it up loud and get lost in a world of textured sounds. This is Sennen making music for the love of it and that’s what makes ‘First Light’ shine bright. Ariel Wimfrey

BENTCOUSIN

(Damnably)

Lush yet melancholic post-rock/ shoegaze quartet.

F

BENTCOUSIN (Team Love)

Indie pop duo release long-awaited debut album.

7/10

I

5 years in, Japanese trio Shonen Knife’s effusive impetus is showing no signs of slowing up. Their 19th studio album extends their diversion through 1970s rock that commenced with its predecessor, ‘Overdrive’. This conceptual theme is felt throughout, most notably on ‘Rock’n’Roll T-Shirt’, a sweetly defiant number, and the subsequent ‘Calabash’, which comes complete with wailing lead solo and portentous lyrics. As usual, there are several songs about food, including standout ‘Wasabi’, which is appropriately spicy and makes playful use of ethnic tropes to brew up a hot garage twister. There’s also a good helping of exotic bubblegum, with ‘Dog Fight’ juxtaposing keyboard infused pop hooks against its lyrical subject matter and the dreamlike, reverb infused ‘Candy Cotton Clouds’ closing the album with a literal bubblegum fantasy. ‘Adventure’ provides further evidence of their substantial depths. Dick Porter

7/10

f the brief to Bentcousin was to make an album containing as many styles and genres as possible then the end result passes with flying Technicolor. On the face of it, Brighton twins Pat and Amelia have assembled nothing more than a thoroughly entertaining indie pop album, but dig beneath the surface and much more becomes apparent. After several singles and EPs, the siblings present their first long-player amid a flurry of media anticipation. With both contributing lead vocals at varying points throughout, some of the backing vocals (particularly on the Jim Morrison sounding ‘Baby, You’re My Jesus’) are occasionally off-key and almost cringeworthy. Six of the nine tracks from this short album feature guest artists, most notably one Keith Levene who appears on album closer; the dub-tinged ‘Widening the Vision’, showing maturity beyond Bentcousin’s years. With dance, faux punk, rap and shoegaze styles all making appearances, it’s an album that most discerning music fans will find something to tickle their fancy. They skilfully resist the urge to introduce crashing guitars, instead opting for Amelia to sing subtle vocals against a simple string section and fading la-la-la’s. The refreshing mix of styles shows that there are many arrows to their bow, including ‘Rock & Roll Me’, which screams out for a plethora of club remixes and versions, and the downright cockiness and charm of ‘Everything Is Everything’ is sheer class. Paul Scott-Bates

SKUNK ANANSIE

SPACIN’

THE THERMALS

TORTOISE

ANARCHYTECTURE

TOTAL FREEDOM

WE DISAPPEAR

THE CATASTROPHIST

(Spinefarm/Carosello)

It’s time to chill for Britain’s angriest band.

6/10

W

hen Skunk Anansie burst onto the alternative scene in 1994 helmed by a ferocious skinhead feminist who challenged listeners “to belong, to be strong” and never, ever “intellectualise her blackness” the band became the mouthpiece for pre-millennials fighting to be different. After a decade-long hiatus, the British band reformed in 2009. This is their third post-reunion album and, while the previous two referenced their angry, caustic past, this is the sound of a band slowing down. Not past it though, ‘Anarcytecture’ is actually their most forward-thinking record yet and, while ‘Bullets’ hints at past fury, ‘In The Back Room’ could be by The Gossip. Actually, the idea of Beth Ditto and Skin, duetting? Yes please! Produced by Tom Dalgety (Killing Joke, Royal Blood) the album has a trip hop, almost William Orbit vibe. Louise Brown

(Richie/Agitated)

They’re jammin.

9/10

I

f you have the good taste to be reading such a fine publication as the one you are holding now then you will not need to be told about the role Philadelphia has played in the musical history of many genres. It is a town that has a sense of its own artistic freedom which has translated into ground-breaking records over the years, and it is this creative energy that Spacin’ appear to be celebrating on this, their second monster of a record. Consisting of various people from notable underground bands from in and around the Philly freak scene, they groove and chug their way through the best of hard rock and psych with no boundaries and true abandon. There are all kinds of weird, wonderful and welcome flourishes and it’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. James Batty

(Saddle Creek)

More acerbic indie punk noise from Portland’s finest.

9/10

N

ow on their seventh studio album, ‘We Disappear’ is the Portland trio’s finest effort since 2006’s outstanding ‘The Body, The Blood, The Machine’ – no mean feat considering the excellence of 2009’s ‘Now We Can See’ or 2013’s ‘Desperate Ground’. Clearly vocalist Hutch Harris’ alternate career as a stand-up comedian has helped, tightening up the rapier-sharp songwriting to spectacular new levels, with the wit and wisdom shining strong on ‘If We Don’t Die Today’ and ‘My Heart Went Cold’. Elsewhere, ‘Thinking of You’ possesses the same exuberance that made ‘Fuckin A’ such a smart album, while ‘Always Never Be’ showcases the group’s ability to write some truly wonderful, albeit skewed, pop songs. Throw in a twisted torch song (‘Years in a Day’) and it’s a return that should finally send The Thermals nuclear. Rob Mair

(Thrill Jockey)

Chicago post-rock godheads cut loose.

8/10

A

lascivious cover of David Essex’s ‘Rock On’, with actual vocals? A slinky, toe-tapping and – dare we say it – funky jam called ‘Hot Coffee’? That’s right folks – this is the sound of experienced post-rock stalwarts kicking back and having fun. Vocals are a thrilling new dalliance; Georgia Hubley coos rather beautifully elsewhere on ‘Yonder Blue’. But, for these brave new additions, this is still unquestionably part of the Tortoise canon. It is a love letter to Chicago filled with heady nods to the jazz heritage of their hometown. Theirs are unmistakeable soundscapes, replete with chiming, shimmering guitars, interesting bleeps and textures (‘Gopher Island’, take a bow) and beautiful, meandering seven minute long corkers like ‘Gesceap’. After time away, this return to the fray is as fine a record as the band has produced since Standards. Sean Smith LOUDER THAN WAR

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“There is a lot more space and it feels like a more mature record.” THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS EVERYTHING YOU’VE COME TO EXPECT (Domino)

Perhaps not everything you would expect from the superstar duo.

7/10

A

lex Turner and Miles Kane reconvene, to pick up where they left off with ‘The Age of the Understatement’. The previous record was packed with huge orchestrations, tightly wound filled with intensity and excitement. It was the coming together of two of the finest current songwriters at the time, and having gone away to concentrate on their individual pursuits, the follow-up to this incendiary album is finally upon us; ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’ to begin with is a contradiction

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in terms. If you were to build your hopes upon the ferocious compositions and stabbing guitars of their debut you’ll be sorely disappointed. This album is more relaxed; less attention grabbing, gone is the bombastic sound of the orchestra that stamped all over their previous output. Only to be replaced by subtle string augmentations where this delicacy presents a whole different side to the pair. With a more sinister and sultry tone to the album, ‘Miracle Aligner’ is the perfect exponent of this. This woozy track is filled with jangly guitars, and packed with swagger its lack of over embellishment is its greatest charm. Allowing the lyrics to shine through, in all of their mischievously dark glory. There is also a dark and haunting theme that underpins ‘Everything You’ve Come To Expect’, with the title track sounding like an eerie honky-tonk circus theme tune. This track fosters more of the orchestrated elements that the pair have previously used, but the lack of the overpowering force is also equally evident. There is a lot more space and it feels as if this is a more mature record, where before awkward pauses were filled with overbearing sounds. Now there’s a more relaxed take on proceedings. In particular ‘Bad Habits’ really compounds this, one of the heavier tracks on the album, but by no means overwhelming. The tension-building attractiveness of their previous record is in full flow here, it could be deemed orchestrated garage rock. Yet it’s the relative stripped back nature of the record that proves to be its real charm, as it closes with the graceful piano-led ‘The Dream Synopsis’. This track displaying the maturity, delicacy, sinister and darker nature of the album, and whilst it is sonically exquisite it is not overpowering. Lee Hammond

LOUDER THAN WAR

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TUFF LOVE

TURIN BRAKES

ULVER

VIOLENT FEMMES

RESORT

LOST PROPERTY

ATGCLVLSSCAP

WE CAN DO ANYTHING

(Lost Maps)

First three EPs get a second push with this long player collection.

8/10

C

harting the first three years of the band, ‘Resort’ brings together tracks from the Glasgow band’s EPs ‘Junk’, ‘Dross’ and ‘Dregs’. It captures a band who are not only adept at shimmering sun-drenched pop, beautifully layered harmonies and sweeping melodies, but one which can run all of that through the scuzz of grunge and come out with something both raging and delicate. While we’ll have to wait for a long player of new songs, bringing together the EPs in this way shows the evolution of the band - over-riding urgency at the opener to the ethereal harmonies at the close. Through it all is a strong identity, a vision realised through the duo’s DIY approach, some exemplar pop songwriting; an excellent introduction to one of the finest bands around. Sarah Lay

(Cooking Vinyl)

Seventh studio album treads a now familiar path through gentle yet cinematic sounds.

6/10

T

here are few immediate surprises on this latest album from Turin Brakes; one of the bands forming the new acoustic movement that eased us into a new millennium. Here there is plenty of laid-back, West Coast, easy listening vibes; it’s unlikely to set the world on fire but the juxtaposition of widescreen harmonies and melancholy tales provide intricacy and interest. There are some real, sparkling high points scattered on this album. Amongst them ‘Brighter Than the Dark’, which begins with sparse vocals and a handclap beat then steps from those shadows into blinding light, with a short sharp shock of layered vocal before tripping out into mellow orchestration. It’s these moments dug out by repeated listens that make this an album worth some of your time. Sarah Lay

(House of Mythology)

(PIAS)

Norwegian experimentalists’ lengthy twelfth album.

First full album in fifteen years from Milwaukee’s finest.

8/10

8/10

W

I

hile it may look like Ulver have just mashed the keyboard when coming up with the name of their latest album, ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ refers to the first letter of each sign of the zodiac. There’s over 80 minutes of music and it’s derived from mostly improvised live performances that have been multitracked and studio enhanced. Yes, those details does make it sound a bit pretentious and overwrought, but the soundscapes that they create can be at times mesmerising and euphoric. It could probably have done with finishing three songs early at the end of ‘Gold Beach’, as the predominantly instrumental tracks give way to ‘Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen)’ and ‘Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap)’, but that’s a minor complaint given the sheer musical mastery displayed throughout. They’ve come a long way since the deliberately underproduced black metal of ‘Nattens madrigal’. Paul Hagen

t’s been a long wait but as soon as ‘Memory’, the opening track, kicks in it’s like they’ve never been away. Gano’s voice has hardly changed and Brian Ritchie’s bass is still one of the best in the business. The songs have been culled from Gano’s archive material and touch on the usual subjects of relationships, religion and quirkiness. As always the band have a dark edge to them: ‘Big Car’ is classic Femmes, with its apparent simple story of picking up a girl and going for a ride, but it has a macabre ending. On ‘Untrue Love’ they twist the traditional love song into something bitter and harsh. The medium is subverted. It’s what they do so well and they do it with a gleam in the eye. Welcome back. Mark Ray

WINTERSLEEP

WRAY

WUSSY

YUCK

THE GREAT DETACHMENT

HYPATIA

FOREVER SOUNDS

STRANGER THINGS

(Dine Alone)

(Republic of Music)

More brilliance from Juno Awardwinning Canadian alt-rockers.

Second album of shoegaze rock/dream pop from Alabama trio.

8/10

8/10

I

t’s a mystery why Wintersleep’s popularity in the UK has never matched that of their peers in Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene. Ultimately, ‘The Great Detachment’ might not change things, but it’s still another brilliant effort from the Nova Scotia heroes. Most interestingly, for a band which has made its name on bruised, epic torch songs, is the level of fun which flows through ‘The Great Detachment’. ‘Sante Fe’ and ‘Lifting Cure’ are airy and light, owing more to The New Pornographers irreverent pop songs than the dense rolling tundra of Constantines, while the driving ‘Freak Out’ is a mosh-pit anthem that barely hits the three minute mark. Fortunately, ‘The Great Detachment’ still retains that epic Wintersleep soul, evidenced by ‘Territory’, a fist-in-the-air anthem that could’ve come straight off ‘Welcome To The Night Sky’. Rob Mair

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rawing comparisons to the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Can and Neu!, Birmingham, Alabama’s Wray are certainly impressive musicians and this is a blissful listen. ‘Hypatia’ is a beautiful record, from the shimmering opener ‘Below’ and the faster yet no less dream-like ‘Giant’ all the way through to the appropriately titled ‘Dymaxion Dream’ and closer ‘Mounts Minding’. Washing over you like waves, the crescendo of ‘Shiva’, rhthymic ‘May 23rd’ and their take on Faust’s krautrock classic ‘Jennifer’ all show there’s a lot more to the Deep South than just metal and country music. The mesmerising title track (named after an obscure 4th century female philosopher/scientist) sums up this mighty record and it’s a sure sign that Wray deserve to be up there amongst the genre’s leaders in the 21st Century. Magical. Sam Cunningham

(Damnably)

Sixth full-length album for a band at the forefront of new Midwestern psychedelia.

8/10

F

eedback floods over the tinkle of a music box before tribal rhythms and lush riffs build around alternating soft and grizzly vocals. Wussy may not be well know in the UK but they’re a band with a big sound and widening vision on ‘Forever Sounds’, their sixth long-player and the second to get a release on these shores. That sound sits somewhere between garage rock, psych and drone, but with a poetical songwriting punctuating the fuzz. They take in themes of the unknown and occult, but it’s also grounded in the everyday with ponderings about the love that got away and pop culture references throughout. This should be the album that firmly places Wussy on your radar and that piques your interest to delve deeper into their back catalogue. Sarah Lay

(Mamé)

London’s Yuck bring us LP three.

6/10

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fter a pretty rocky few years that have seen line-up and vocal duties change, Yuck’s third studio album comes with a bit of baggage. Not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing. With change comes experience and wisdom, and ‘Stranger Things’ seems to have this in spades. With tracks such as ‘Cannon Ball’ and title track ‘Stranger Things’, this LP is teeming with ideas, riffs, melodies and influences. In particular, ‘Swirling’ borrows much from Slowdive with its ethereal quality, and you even get a hint of REM on some tracks. This seemingly disparate mixture of sounds could ring alarm bells, but this perhaps indicates growth and change since their last 2013 release. And after such upheaval in band structure, you wouldn’t expect anything less really. Some good tunes from a band finding their feet again. Ioan Humphreys LOUDER THAN WAR

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END HITS: BACK CATALOGUE EXPLORED

SONIC YOUTH If it’s possible for a band to have a back catalogue that’s actually intimidating, that band would be Sonic Youth. DGC/Geffen is re-releasing nine of their albums, from ‘Goo’ to ‘Rather Ripped’ and ‘The Diamond Sea’ single. These re-releases don’t even include ‘Daydream Nation’! Here’s a whistle-stop through New York’s finest flowers of sound. GOO

(1990) The band’s sixth album is considered a stone cold classic, along with ‘Daydream Nation’ and ‘Dirty’ (and ‘EVOL’, ‘Sister’ and ‘Bad Moon Rising’). From the spoken duet between Kim Gordon and Chuck D on ‘Kool Thing’ to the orchestral ferocity of ‘Dirty Boots’, ‘Goo’ is not a game-changer, it’s a life-changer. DIRTY

(1992)

Perhaps the grimiest SY album, the guitar lines literally scrape and scratch in fevered discord. ‘Sugar Kane’ peppers grunge-whipping aggression with whimsical choruses and ‘Drunk Butterfly’ breathlessly grunts and groans. EXPERIMENTAL JET SET, TRASH AND NO STAR (1994)

‘Bull In Heather’ is demonstrative of how, at this point, the band were looking beyond the power of noise and exploring how to make noise sound macabre. Kim Gordon’s vocals feud with her then husband’s (Thurston Moore) guitar harmonics with chilling effect. WASHING MACHINE

(1995) Considered by many the point where Sonic Youth left song structure behind and ventured willingly into the sonic unknown, ‘Washing Machine’ split opinions but was critically appreciated. The 20 minute ‘The Diamond Sea’ track is the longest track the band have put down on an album.

NYC GHOSTS & FLOWERS (2000)

This album saw the band fall into a new, re-invigorated stride, which came as a surprise as the band had all their equipment stolen while on tour in 1999. However using and rediscovering old instruments brought an evident joy to the band, as audible in the gutsier feel of the album, with songs such as ‘Renegade Princess’ being a six minute blast, followed by the tongue-in-cheek kiss off to grunge ‘Nevermind (What Was It Anyway?)’ MURRAY STREET

(2002)

Joined by Jim O’Rourke as a musician for the first time on record and despite recording being interrupted by 9/11, ‘Murray Street’ polished their street-punk-noise heritage with NY art gallery chic to great effect.

SONIC NURSE

(2004) THE DIAMOND SEA

(SINGLE) (1995)

Issued for the first time on vinyl, it gives those who love the soothing white noise of the track the chance to enjoy it in its own right.

While there’s plenty of spark still in the band, there’s also a new maturity to in songs like ‘Unmade Bed’, even a sense of resignation at points. A surprisingly easy on the ears album.

RATHER RIPPED

(2006)

A THOUSAND LEAVES

(1998)

The band cautiously re-entered the limelight, as symbolised by the re-emergence of the semi grownup Macaulay Culkin in the video to the effortlessly propulsive lead single ‘Sunday’.

‘Reena’ and ‘Incinerate’ are worth the cost alone, giving Kim and Thurston the chance to pose as superstars in a fictional world where amazing music rules the charts.

‘Goo’, ‘Dirty’, ‘Washing Machine’ and ‘The Diamond Sea’ vinyl reissues are available now on Universal, with the rest following later in the year. Jon Falcone

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ALISON’S HALO

CATHERINE WHEEL

SWERVEDRIVER

RIDE

SLOWDIVE

PALE SAINTS

“It reminds you how strange and otherworldly this music felt at the time.”

VARIOUS ARTISTS

STILL IN A DREAM: A STORY OF SHOEGAZE, 1988 – 1995 (Cherry Red)

All you ever need to know about this much maligned movement.

10/10

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’ll say this for Cherry Red, they believe that if something is worth doing it’s worth doing properly, and this release is a prime example of this philosophy. Documenting the floppy fringed early ‘90s shoegaze scene over five CDs, from the glorious if at times somewhat shakey foundations on disc one all the way through to those who took it to different and dizzying new heights on discs four and five. It’s probably long overdue, what with My Bloody

Valentine doing sporadic work again and Slowdive and Ride coming back for one more gaze at the shoe in 2015. I jumped in somewhere around disc two the first time around which is where these two sit in the grand scheme of things. It’s great to hear some of those tracks again and it reminds you how strange and otherworldly this music felt at the time to someone who had never really listened to anything psychedelic. I also totally forgot how great Chapterhouse could be at times. As is often the case with these things it’s the bands you haven’t heard or the rarer material from people that you think you already know that offer the most rewarding experiences. This is certainly the case here, beyond all the ‘Rave Down’s and the ‘Slowdive’s which are familiar, are a clutch of seriously obscure gems. The exhaustive nature of the project means that the curators are able to align (sometimes controversially, I’m sure) certain artists with the scene which purists probably wouldn’t agree with, but for the more casual fan of the genre this offers genuine insight and food for thought. It’s amazing how cheaply recorded a lot of this sounds but I’m glad these songs haven’t had too much of the remastering treatment, as the haphazard at times and overall rather lo-fi production is part of what attracted me to this scene in the first place. It’s all brought together in a really rather lovely book with all the information you will ever need about this special time in music including twelve thousand words (!) of sleevenotes and biographies for individual bands. As I kick back and enjoy the delights of this release I think this about as near to perfect as something like this can get. James Batty

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PLACEBO SLEEPING WITH GHOSTS / MEDS (Universal)

Iconic alternative band reissue fourth and fifth albums on vinyl to mark the latter’s tenth anniversary.

8/10

T

DAVID BOWIE

DEAD RABBITS

BOWIE AT THE BEEB

THE TICKET THAT EXPLODED

(EMI)

(Fuzz Club)

Collected recordings from the landmark early days.

2013 debut album from Southampton psychedelic rockers.

9/10

8/10

T

his reissue as a four LP vinyl set captures Bowie in his tentative early days trying to find his niche and on the cusp of genuine originality. Selections from the Tony Visconti Orchestra/Trio, Bowie & Friends and the Spiders From Mars see him experimenting to establish a comfortable identity. The vast majority of the career defining ‘Ziggy’ album gets a BBC airing and, despite later global success and commercial peaks, these early ‘70s days hold a soft spot for many, who regard Ziggy as Bowie’s defining moment and image. Exclusive to the set is ‘The Supermen’ by The Hype from Sounds Of The Seventies and there’s also a rare Bowie/Ronson duet on ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’. Maybe not the single reason you’d buy this, but an essential part of a genuine legacy. Mike Ainscoe

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everb soaked and evocative of an explosion of colours and floating, Dead Rabbits’ ‘The Ticket That Exploded’ has previously sold out and now gets the reissue treatment. However, this isn’t all flowers and good times, it’s an album that’s as bleak and melancholy as living in modern Britain is and that’s reflected in frontman Tom Hayes’ despair-fuelled vocals. Influenced by the likes of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Lou Reed and Link Wray, it’s a wild trip though, with fuzzed up, swirling guitars building to six minute album centrepiece, ‘It’s All in Her Head’. As one of the earliest signings for the London-based Fuzz Club record label, this record sounds every bit as vital as it did a couple of years back and is an exhilarating example of experimental rock ‘n’ roll. Ariel Wimfrey

he 4th of March sees the reissue of ‘Meds’ and ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’. Placebo broke music out of the Britpop mould, becoming one of the most popular alternative bands of the day, achieving seven UK top twenty albums and worldwide acclaim. Placebo’s fourth studio album, ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’ (2003), feels like earlier albums, especially ‘Without You I’m Nothing’. The band stay true to their original vision, but in places this feels far too similar to their previous material. Some tracks will please more than just die-hard fans, however. ‘Bulletproof Cupid’ has massive energy and crashing guitars, whilst ‘Something Rotten’ is interestingly off-beat and faintly sinister. Of the songs with a more classic Placebo sound, ‘Plasticine’ and ‘Protect Me From What I Want’ are both memorable, although the repetitive chorus on the latter jars a little. ‘Meds’ (2006) has more sophistication than some earlier Placebo albums. The lyrics are beautifully written and Brian Molko’s delivery perfect. In addition to the tracks chosen as singles, ‘Because I Want You’, ‘Song to Say Goodbye’ and ‘Infra-Red’, there are others which stand out, especially those at the slower end of the spectrum. ‘Pierrot the Clown’ and ‘Cold Light of Morning’ are moving and beautiful, whilst for those demanding a higher energy level, title track ‘Meds’ and ‘Broken Promise’ hit the right nerve. Music that stands the test of time. Roxy Gillespie

THE BLUETONES EXPECTING TO FLY

DEVO

JESSE MALIN

EZ LISTENING MUZAK

THE FINE ART OF SELF DESTRUCTION

(Futurismo)

Limited fan cassette of Devo lounge interpretations gets the double vinyl makeover.

9/10

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his is a box of surprises, and while Devo’s love of synths has always given their robotic rhythms that sense of warm analogue goodness, this series of lounge versions from the back catalogue really brings the cheese front-and-centre. Originally released as a fan club only cassette, these songs were taken from sound desk recordings, as these versions were used as mood music before live shows. It’s awesome how easily Devo tunes make the transition from stutter punk to smooth keyboard jingles. ‘Whip It’ still has disco-fever but instead cruises like one of Madonna’s church organ backed pop songs, whereas ‘Mongoloid’ creeps out as a reed-organ piece before the lead vocal is played on a keyboard sound akin to ‘cat meow’. There’s also a completely new version of ‘Human Rocket’ just get this album. Jon Falcone

(One Little Indian)

New York singer/songwriter’s 2002 solo debut reissued on double CD.

8/10

T

ouring in hardcore and punk bands (Heart Attack, D Generation) since the age of 12, Jesse Malin was already an experienced musician by the time he released this debut solo album. Produced by his friend Ryan Adams (his production debut), he said at the time, “Malin’s songs are so good they hurt my feelings”. There’s no arguing there, with the heartstring-pulling singles ‘Queen of the Underworld’ and the rousing stand out ‘Wendy’ evoking the likes of Adams and Springsteen in its honesty, emotion and storytelling. The sessions also featured Smashing Pumpkins/ Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur on soulful backing vocals and Joe McGinty (Spacehog, Psychedelic Furs) on keys. This reissue includes new sleevenotes from The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon. Beautiful songwriting throughout, this is fine art indeed. Ian Chaddock

(3Loop)

Twentieth anniversary reissue for iconic Britpop debut.

9/10

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n February 1996 the debut album from Londoners The Bluetones was released, knocking the marauding kings of the scene Oasis off the top spot in the Hit Parade. Twenty years and six studio albums down the line, The Bluetones remain one of the most enduring bands of Britpop; due to the mix of intelligent and playful songwriting and, an accolade that shouldn’t be thrown about carelessly, a back catalogue of classics. ‘Expecting to Fly’ is getting the obligatory reissue to mark the two decades passing since release and the additional material includes the non-album single ‘Are You Blue or Are You Blind?’, the band’s pick of favourite b-sides and their live set at BBC Sound City in Leeds from April 1996. The big singles - ‘Slight Return’, ‘Cut Some Rug’, ‘Bluetonic’ - and well known album tracks like the sublime ‘The Fountainhead’, return you immediately to the dancefloors of your youth. The literary lyrics and underlying ennui of lesser-played album tracks ‘Things Change’ and ‘Time and Again’ sit blissfully with the melancholy of ‘Putting Out Fires’ and ‘A Parting Gesture’ - these tracks are shining diamonds all these years on. Sometimes revisiting the songs of your past this way reveals them to be postcards from an era you can’t return to, but that’s not the case with ‘Expecting to Fly’. What was a great debut has matured wonderfully into a classic album. Sarah Lay

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FLYING SAUCER ATTACK DISTANCE / FURTHER / CHORUS (Domino)

A welcome journey back into rural psychedelia.

10/10

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avid Pearce made a surprise return last year with ‘Instrumentals 2015’, a record of charred solipsism which offered no hints as to whether it was a resumption of working duties or brief coda to an ever more influential body of work. These three mid-’90s records comprise the backbone of FSA’s “first phase”, resembling an English variant on the Kosmische music of Cluster and Popol Vuh. It’s there in the electrified curve which swoops down low on ‘Chorus’s ‘Feedback Song’, like a bird formation gliding across estuary tides on a sun-dazed far off day. FSA’s songs seem to define how it feels to be solitary identities subsumed within nature’s opposing forces of solace and terror, whether through the Fourth World free folk of ‘Oceans’, the loping gnostic funk of ‘Standing Stone’ or ‘Soaring High’’s heat-haze ramble through garage rock, were the garage to be located miles out on deserted fenland. All these songs are to be found on the ‘Distance’ (1994) compilation, while ‘Chorus’ (1995) gathers up odds and ends to form a scrambled sketchbook, notable for early FSA member Rachel Brook’s Nico meets Vashti Bunyan vocals on ‘Beach Red Lullaby’. ‘Further’ (1995) marked FSA’s first full album for Domino in 1995 and, over twenty years on, sounds like youth forever preserved on the cusp of greatness. On the back of the justifiably praised ‘Instrumentals 2015’, these reissues further demonstrate what dues are owed to Pearce. Euan Andrews

OKKULTOKRATI

PENNYWISE

SNAKEREIGNS / NIGHT JERKS

NINETEEN EIGHTY EIGHT

(Southern Lord)

Oslo punks get their break.

8/10

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outhern Lord’s Greg Anderson knows what it’s like to be an underdog. It was years before his bands got noticed as forerunners of the extreme/black metal/noise scene of the late ‘90s. Through his label he has used his position as high priest of Sunn 0))) to push bands that are changing the musical landscape. From Norway’s unsavoury punk rock underbelly he has plucked Okkultokrati from obscurity. Okkultokrati are one of DIY label Fysisk Format’s acts who weave black metal, doom and d-beat punk into their sneering, toxic brew. In the lead up to their fourth album, Anderson has deemed it time for all to hear their second and third albums. Like Nails, Okkultokrati are a voice of a new punk order and do not deserve to rot in the slums of Oslo. Don’t forget their debut ‘No Light For Mass’ either. Louise Brown

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(Hardline Entertainment/Theologian)

One of skate punk’s biggest bands step back in time.

6/10

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ennywise’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Eight’ LP contains their ‘A Word From The Wise’ and ‘Wildcard’ EPs. It also features tracks from the ‘Soul Arch’ compilation, which includes their covers of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ and Black Flag’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’. Songs like ‘Final Chapters’ still sound fresh and vibrant today and it’s intriguing to hear the roots of a band that millions of kids have grown up with. Pennywise aren’t really known for variety in their music, but on this release there are the occasional touches of the funk punk style that was popular in California in the late ‘80s amongst the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More. With these 12 songs, Pennywise demonstrate the promise they had as they started out as a band. Paul Hagen

THE KOOKS INSIDE IN/INSIDE OUT (Universal)

NO USE FOR A NAME ALL THE BEST SONGS (Fat Wreck)

Vinyl ten year anniversary release of Brighton indie rockers’ hit debut.

Fairly self-explanatory collection for ‘90s Cali skate punks.

7/10

8/10

elling over two million copies, The Kooks’ 2006 debut album certainly achieved commercial success but how well does it stand up after a decade? Really well, as it happens. Spawning no less than six singles, it’s full of anthems. There’s the energetic Britpop indie rockers ‘Eddie’s Gun’ (a tonguein-cheek tune about erectile dysfunction) and ‘You Don’t Love Me’, the acoustic-driven ‘Ooh La’ and the Morrissey influenced dark yet humorous ‘Sofa Song’. The dream-like, acoustic driven ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ is a stand out but the insanely infectious, no.5 charting ‘Naive’ is a classic sing-along and high point. This is still the Kooks’ finest moment and this record has only been released as a double LP and live performance until now. Well worth picking up on wax and singing along. Sam Cunningham

S

‘A

PERE UBU

SUNN O)))

ARCHITECTURE OF LANGUAGE 1979-1982 (Fire)

Four LP retrospective from arch art punks.

9/10

‘A

rchitecture of Language’ is the second in a series of retrospective releases from the great Pere Ubu. This collection pulls together ‘New Picnic Time’ (1979), ‘The Art Of Walking’ (1980), ‘Song Of The Bailing Man’ (1982) and a bonus disc. The records serve as a reminder of how important Pere Ubu are. This is rock deconstructed and built anew from the ashes. A theatrical art project where chaotic dissonance and utter beauty exist within the same music. At times it feels like you’re listening to a séance with David Thomas’ voice sounding like a conduit for the spirits. It’s noir nouvelle garage music. It’s spiritual soul. It’s freaky funk. It’s art punk. It’s belligerent blues. It’s a painful beauty that delivers more on each playing. If only there were more bands like Pere Ubu. Mark Ray

ll The Best Songs’ was originally released back in 2007. Since then, the Californian punks released ‘The Feel Good Record of the Year’ and disbanded following the death of singer Tony Sly in 2012. Fat Wreck’s 28-track reissue of their greatest hits album features ‘Biggest Lie,’ ‘The Feel Good Song of the Year,’ ‘Under The Garden,’ and ‘The Trumpet Player’ from their final album. It serves as brilliant reminder not only to some of the best skate punk songs to have emerged from Fat Wreck’s ‘90s house style but also to the sadly-departed Sly’s distinctive vocals and excellent lyrics. No matter how many times I hear it, ‘On The Outside’ sends shivers up my spine and there’s plenty of melodic punk goodness to be found throughout this collection. Paul Hagen

DØMKIRKE (Southern Lord)

Seattle experi-mentalists’ seminal live album finally gets double vinyl release.

9/10

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his gig took take place in Bergen Cathedral, Domkirke during 2007’s Borealis Festival. And although this isn’t a recital in its plainest historical terms, Sunn o))) are certainly attaining the cultural gravitas of a concerto or a band that borders on the classical in terms of their sonic output and delivery. Across these four tracks, the band seemingly are able to argue with the grim reaper during the lead track ‘Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself In Clouds’ and summon all sorts of darkness with the guitar and trombone lead ‘Cannon’. The slow burning guitars and Gregorian chanting continues throughout the last two tracks. I would teasingly say that this recording is both “not for the feint hearted” and “not for the less adventurous”. This is Sunn o))) at their best. Glorious. Ioan Humphreys

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“Some of the most recognisable songs of the mid ‘90s.” FUN LOVIN’ CRIMINALS COME FIND YOURSELF (Edsel)

Tarantino sampling NYC funk punks’ debut gets the deluxe treatment.

9/10

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hen the Fun Lovin’ Criminals hit the airwaves twenty years ago, their uncompromising mix of funk, hip hop, rock, blues and all round general cool had many in a trance. A swaggering urban ode to their beloved New York City, ‘Come Find Yourself’ saw the band telling stories of working bars, jumping out of planes in the marines, drugs and mob bosses. These themes were cut into some of the most recognisable songs of the mid ‘90s. The Tarantino sampling ‘Scooby Snacks’ is still a perennial party starter, and the band’s title track (‘The Fun Lovin’ Criminal’) is undoubtedly their anthem; the “stick ‘em up, punk” sing-along chorus epitomises the trio’s early attitude. The sublime funk rock of ‘King of New York’ saw the band paying homage to mob boss John Gotti, whilst the Skynyrd sampling ‘Bombin’ The L’ showed the hard rocking side of the band. Whilst the singles helped the band creep into the public conscience, ‘Come Find Yourself’ is littered with excellent songs throughout. ‘I Can’t Get With That’ blazes with Huey Morgan’s solo

guitar work and ‘Smoke ‘Em’’s irrepressible bass line is one of Fast’s finest moments. The latter end of the album has some of the band’s best output. The title track and the bluesy ‘Methadonia’ hit different notes to show the group’s depth beyond the raucous party starter anthems that made their name. The crowning achievement of the reissue is the collation of the band’s 1996 BBC sessions. Sets from London and Arizona for Steve Lamacq showcase the Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ live talent and it exudes the lounge schtick that the band perfected in their performance throughout their career. The collectors’ edition of the reissue comes with a BBC Sessions 10” vinyl EP. Other rarities, like ‘Blues For Suckers’, are essential listening. There are lounge versions of ‘Scooby Snacks’ and ‘I Can’t Get With That’ amongst others, as well as a round of playful remixes of the biggest singles. All are worth your time, along with instrumental versions of album tracks. Overall, this is a tremendous look back at one of the great albums of the ‘90s. The crossover of genres incorporated into the album deserves many plaudits. Twenty years on, ‘Come Find Yourself’ stands the test of time and still sounds fresh. At a time when the music world was dominated by Britpop, Fun Lovin’ Criminals managed to scale the heights whilst creating something new and exciting. Dominic Walsh

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SLEAFORD MODS: INVISIBLE BRITAIN Velvet Joy Productions

9/10

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leaford Mods are tearing up the rule book and raging against the establishment and the status quo. Although they insist in this film that they’re “not a political band”, the Nottingham duo are a mirror for ‘Broken Britain’, and this documentary film sums that up perfectly. Vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Robert Lindsay Fearn are said in some circles – including some of the fans talked to here – to be the most exciting and important British band since the Specials and the Sex Pistols. The parallels are there: rage-filled lyrics and desperation that is easily relatable to for people all over austerity Britain. And that’s why Nathan Hannawin and Paul Sng’s film ‘Invisible Britain’ (Invisiblebritain.com) works so well as part band documentary, part state of the nation study – the two are intertwined and inseparable when it comes to Sleaford Mods. Filming the duo on their tour of the UK in the run up to the 2015 General Election and visiting some of the most neglected and run down towns on the way, it’s a mix of conversations with the band and fans, live footage and a look at what individuals and communities are doing to resist and campaign against austerity. Equal parts depressing, rousing and empowering, this film captures Sleaford Mods in the eye of the storm. Sam Cunningham

ELVIS COSTELLO: DETOUR LIVE AT LIVERPOOL PHILHARMONIC HALL (Eagle Rock)

7/10

(Daptone/MVD Visual)

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ith a long and successful career in music, this Storytellers style tour, called the Detour tour, sees Costello talk about his family, life and the story behind some of his best loved songs. Playing songs on guitar or at the piano, it includes classics like ‘Watching the Detectives’, ‘A Good Year for the Roses’, ‘Alison’, ‘Accidents Will Happen’ and ‘I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down’, as well as more recent songs, such as ‘Church Underground’ and ‘Jimmie Standing in the Rain’. Humorous, thoughtful and uplifting, it’s a tour that’s more intimate than ever before and includes 22 songs, as well as four bonus tracks. The show also features guest appearances from Rebecca and Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe on several songs, as well as a performance of the unreleased ‘Down on the Bottom’, with lyrics by Bob Dylan. An up-close and personal performance, this DVD is a reminder not just of how many amazing songs Costello has written over the years but also reveals the stories behind them. Ariel Wimfrey

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LIVE FROM THE HOUSE OF SOUL FEATURING CHARLES BRADLEY 6/10

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harles Bradley and Menahan Street Band are captured live in the backyard of the Daptone House of Soul in Bushwick, Brooklyn on this first instalment of Dapone Records’ new video series, ‘Live From The House of Soul’. With a lifetime of hurt, struggle and suffering all over the USA, Charles Bradley has worked hard in low pay jobs (as well as being a James Brown impersonator) and lost loved ones, resulting in a timeless and soulful voice. Directed by Poull Brien, this live DVD may be too brief at just 30 minutes, but the seven live tracks (including favourites such as ‘The World (Is Going Up In Flames)’ and ‘Victim of Love’) show how powerful a performer Bradley is, while the four bonus videos, especially ‘Heartaches & Pain’, about the loss of his brother, are just as moving. A new soul hero with a third album, ‘Changes’ and UK tour on the way in March/April. Ian Chaddock

THE BLUE MONDAY DIARIES: IN THE STUDIO WITH NEW ORDER Michael Butterworth (Plexus)

9/10

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ny New Order fan needs this intimate portrayal of the band from their good friend (and experiened author and publisher) Michael Butterworth, who was there by invitation from the band for the making of the band’s second album, ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ in November 1982 at London’s Britannia Row Studios. Without a tape recorder, Butterworth scribbled down notes about the creative process for the duration, including the birth of the electro anthem ‘Blue Monday’, which became the fastest selling 12” single ever! Incredibly detailed and veering from the illicit to the mundane, this is a band who are immersed in dope smoke, speed and alcohol in a tiny rented flat and creating a seminal record. Rarely is a specific period in a band’s history caught as honestly and intensely as this and it’s no surprise that Peter Hook himself says the book is “well-written, friendly and very easy to live with.” An engrossing read. Sam Cunningham

DEAR MR. KERSHAW: A PENSIONER WRITES Derek Philpott (Good Day)

8/10

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ometimes music and the industry around it is all a bit too serious. Thankfully, internet sensation (and now printed in a 226 page book after a successful Kickstarter campaign) Derek Philpott (and his neighbour Wilf Turnbull) are here to lighten up your day. ‘Dear Mr. Kershaw’ is the result of seven years of work from the the pair of retired gentlemen from Bournemouth (we’re led to believe), who have sent letters to pop and rock stars about lyrical inaccuracies and ambiguities, with often witty and even hilarious results. Unexpectedly the artists started replying and now 65 of the best and funniest letters and responses are included here, such as Noddy Holder, Billy Bragg, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, Stiff Little Fingers, Paul Heaton, Squeeze, The Divine Comedy and, of course, Mr Nik Kershaw himself. There are also photos of Philpottery – humorous animal/ pop star clay models made by Derek’s wife Jean, including Mick Ducknall, Lady BudgeriGaGa, Mick Jaguar and Johnny Rottweiler! Fun for all the (pop loving) family. Ariel Wimfrey

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SLAVES

MANCHESTER RITZ

Words: John Robb / Photos: Melanie Smith

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HE first thing you notice is the atmosphere. It’s drenched with an almost hysterical excitement and the steaming sweat of high decibel thrills – that kind of atmosphere that marks a band on the edge of great things. The whole dancefloor in the sold out second night at the 1300 capacity Ritz is leaping as one and the sweat and thrills of a classic gig fill the ancient dancehall. Slaves are further proof that music is indeed more than alive after a bruising week of pop culture death – the two piece of Laurie Vincent (guitar/vocals) and Isaac Holman (Drums/Vocals) have been making a great racket for a couple of years and their debut album has just gone gold or silver or whatever it’s called these days. This is success on its own terms. Bouncing around the stage like Duracell punk rock bunnies, Laurie and Isaac are a couple of youthful de Niros who are in love with the big racket and have turned it into a thrilling, vicarious pop music and a soundtrack to the scuzzed up, 21st century culture wars. From Maidstone and the Medway they were fired by a love of hand-me-down punk rock that coalesced around Rancid and Tim Armstrong – the poetic, punk rock voice of yet another generation who opened the door for all kinds of lost souls looking for some sense in the noise. Instead of becoming yet another four piece punk rock band dealing in the same old template they, by the necessity of the lack of fellow travellers, turned themselves into a two piece – the economy version of rock ‘n’ roll and the music at its most intense. This is the eyeball to eyeball of creativity and hands are pushed by lack of musical passengers. Somehow they turn this to their advantage, an advantage that is underlined by their live performance that makes the stripped down two piece fill the room with their roar of life and fills the stage with their dynamic show, pushing their creativity to the max. Somehow Isaac sings all the songs whilst ending up on the micro drum kit whilst Laurie deals in the guitars. It should be almost impossible to make this work but they create a noise that fills the venue with an avalanche of electric possibilities and songs that are singalong without being trite, songs that tell a truth without being earnest and are kitchen sink drama in their black comedy and Carry On sense of humour. These are anthems. Singing and playing drums is a tough call at the best of times but Isaac turns it into a spectacle and manages to create a huge backbeat with just a tom and a snare and deals in the electric spectacle by leaping around and dealing his vocals out against the guitars and occasional bass. You can hear all their post-Rancid explorations in their sound as they took their punk rock journey after being sparked by the possibilities presented by the American punk crew. From Minor Threat’s short bursts of early eighties melodic teen angst to post-punk’s willingness to explore and then through hip hop’s love of machine gun lyrics but especially in the melodic, almost Blur-like appropriation of the form. Slaves have used their roots and remembered that punk, for all its sneering, belching and anger was actually pop music and they have given the form an English take. An English take that is perfect in an old dancehall like the Ritz. From their accents to their subject matter to their delivery – this is punk rock back in England and couched in terms of pop culture. It’s also brimming with a diversity – there are moments of hip hop in the delivery but with a British delivery. There are hints of all kinds of record collection moments and explorations from even left field dance to metal fed into their sound of pounding drums and thrashed guitar without it ever tipping over into a mess. And the youth are lapping it up. It’s a brilliantly excitable crowd on the second of a two-night stint at the Ritz. You can really feel something in the air as the band own the place. They exude a confidence but not an arrogance. They understand the communality of great guitar music and they are exploding with the energy of the moment. Tonight is a triumph and sweaty proof of the vibrancy of the form.

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THE LIBERTINES

BLOSSOMS/ REVEREND & THE MAKERS MANCHESTER ARENA Words: Tim Grayson / Photos: Melanie Smith

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T would be fair to say that, since they reunited, the Libs haven’t had the best of luck when it comes to Manchester, having failed to make their gig at the Ritz in 2015 due to Pete Doherty pulling a vanishing act. As such there was a fair amount of pressure on their shoulders to pull something out of the bag on the big stage. First up, however, REVEREND AND THE MAKERS welcome early arrivals to Albion with a clutch of chart-botherers such as ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World’ and ‘Silence Is Talking’. However, it’s more recent tracks such as ‘Black Widow’ that show a different side of the band. Away from the fist-in-theair vibes of ‘Heavyweight...’ beats a surprisingly dark heart. Straight out of Stockport and destined to top many end of year lists when they get that album out, BLOSSOMS nearly steal the show from the headliners, their potent blend of blackened ‘60’s pop, garage rock and psychedelic flourishes being an absolute winner. The likes of ‘At Most A Kiss’, with its spindly synth lines and almost Hawkwind sound butting heads with the twisted pop of ‘Charlemagne’. While they’ve only been together for a relatively short period of time, they already seem

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at home on the larger stages, oozing confidence as well as dripping with hooks. Lovely. Opening up with ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ cut ‘Barbarians’, tonight THE LIBERTINES mean business. While arenas can tend to reduce the potency of a band’s performance, it’s not something that’s evident tonight. Instead, there’s an unbreakable, powerful connection between band and audience, both moving as one. The bangers are rolled out with an almost casual ‘oh yeah, we also wrote this’ approach, the likes of ‘What Katie Did’ and ‘Time For Heroes’ raining down harder than the standard weather of this city. ‘Anthems...’ cuts don’t sound of place in amongst the classics, if anything lending a heavier sound to the older material. Ending the evening with ‘What A Waster’ and the anthemic ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’ with mosh pits breaking out and smiles plastered across sweaty faces, this is the Libertines you can believe in. Away from all the tabloid stories, the breakups, the makeups and the whole circus, an on-form Libs can take on the world - and win.

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KENDAL SLEAFORD CALLING MODS

BUILT TO SPILL DOOM DISCO LONDON ELECTRIC BALLROOM

C

AMDEN, even on a gloomy nothing night, still has an invigorating energy. Part of it comes from the constant slew of great bands that go through the Ballroom and tonight is no exception. German trio Doom Disco set things up with a mix of alt-pop, Americana, noise and propulsive rhythms. It’s a unique blend, but if there is an influence... it’s a wink to the headliners. Take ‘Rice & Bones’; there’s a melodic, crooned male falsetto and then glorious waves of distortion. Built To Spill are one of the few bands going that are consistently excellent. Fans are obviously stoked to hear ‘In The Morning’ and its constantly fluctuating vibrato guitars and palm-muted pop, and it really takes off in the final third when the hole song gets heavier. But place it against ‘Living Zoo’ (which is also performed with weighty hooks, refrains and changing tempos) and the latter rocks just as hard. It’s fitting, in retrospect, that the band choose to cover David Bowie’s ‘Up The Hill Backwards’ for the show, one of Bowie’s more straight-up pop numbers. Built To Spill make it wonky, lo-fi and a glorious indie-slacker anthem. It’s another demonstration of what a genius Bowie was, the master of pliable pop. While it would be amazing to see frontman and band centre-point Doug Martsch do some rock-moves on stage (just once), it’s not going to happen. It adds to their appeal; a band of modest gents making a noisy symphony of lo-fi pop brilliance. Jon Falcone

BEACH SLANG PETAL LONDON CAMDEN BARFLY Words/Photo: Paul Hagen

T

ONIGHT’S proceedings kick off with a predominantly solo set by Petal. Kiley Lotz has an incredibly strong voice but the emotional, earnest songs she performs on guitar sound more suitable for a coffee shop than the Barfly. James Alex (singer/guitarist) saunters onto the stage and announces: “We’re Beach Slang. We’re here to punch you in the heart.” As opening statements go, it’s hard to beat. The Philadelphia band then launch into their debut album opener ‘Throwaways’ with reckless abandon. Alex is a bit tipsy on Hobgoblin but the scruffy, joyous nature of Beach Slang’s set is heartwarming. They tear through most of the songs on ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’ and play all of the songs on the EPs ‘Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken’ and ‘Cheap Thrills on a Dead End Street’. They also drop covers of The Replacements’ ‘Bastards Of Young’ and Jawbreaker’s ‘Boxcar’ but the highlight of the evening is seeing them perform with Senseless Things’ Ben Harding on a barnstorming cover of ‘Too Much Kissing’ by the guitarist’s band. Beach Slang may be a touch messy tonight but the crowd wouldn’t want it any other way.

REPETITOR LJUBLJANA MENT SERBIA

I

F all great rock music is about electricity then Repetitor come supercharged. The three piece make guitar noise that is so thrilling, so charged, so perfectly written and played that it is a visceral thrill just to watch them play. Onstage they twitch in the wind tunnel of their own sound. It’s enormous and powerful. One great anthem after another. Every song packed with ideas and twists and turns and perfect dynamics. They make you fall in love with guitar rock all over again and are arguably the best guitar band on the planet right now. It all seems so effortless and perfect - that balance between chaos and genius, that perfect synthesis of all the members, the noise and electricity, that massaging melody... Right now they are Europe’s best kept secret. From Belgrade, they are packing them in at gigs in the Balkans nearly a thousand in there tonight watching the band deliver their 21st century Nirvana with an ecstatic glee. When I say Nirvana - I’m being lazy - there are three of them - a skinny beanpole boy on guitar who plays like his life depends on it and two amazing women - one on bass and one on drums who are are arguably the best rhythm section in Europe right now with sinuous heavy bass lines holding the melody down and these stunning, powerhouse drums that are both powerful and rhythmically mind blowing. Song-wise they never rest on their laurels, switching from driving bass driven melancholy like some kind of grunge-flecked Joy Division to seatof-the-pants garage rock. Everything is powerful and thrilling but it’s their command of dynamics that’s stunning, the guitar dips in and out and switches from shreds of rhythm to feedback drenched noise to an avalanche of powerful sound as the songs mash up post-punk, grunge and noise into a new template. John Robb MONOGRAM

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Academy Events present

The JAMES HUNTER Six presents

fAtRiG oIgNa vCaIs

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by arrangement with THE MAGNIFICENT AGENCY presents

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GUNS ROSES

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THU FRI SAT SUN

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Thu Fri Sat Thu Fri Sat Fri Sat Sun

07 08 09 14 15 16 22 23 24

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NEW ALBUM ‘HOLD ON’ OUT NOW ON DAPTONE RECORDS

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TUES 22 NOV NEWCASTLE 02 ACADEMY2 SUN 27 NOV LIVERPOOL 02 ACADEMY2 WEDS 30 NOV BIRMINGHAM 02 ACADEMY2 THURS 01 DEC SHEFFIELD 02 ACADEMY2 FRI 02 DEC LONDON 02 ACADEMY ISLINGTON

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presents

MAY 2016 SAT 21 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 SEPTEMBER 2016 FRI 02 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY FRI 23 GLASGOW O2 ABC2 SAT 24 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY2 OCTOBER 2016 SAT 08 LONDON O2 ACADEMY ISLINGTON FRI 21 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY2 SAT 22 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY2

The definitive tribute to

TICKETWEB.CO.UK · 0844 477 2000

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presents

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary of those historic Oasis gigs at Maine Road and Knebworth, DEFINITELY MIGHTBE will be performing a set list made up from both iconic shows followed by a greatest hits set on the same night

UK TOUR 2016 APRIL 14 ARLINGTON Arts Centre 16 DERBY Flowerpot 22 OXFORD O2 Academy 23 ST. HELENS The Citadel 29 MORECOMBE The Platform

MAY 05 BRIGHTON Komedia 06 BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2 07 LEICESTER O2 Academy 12 HARPENDEN Public Halls 13 STOCKTON Arc

FRI SAT FRI SAT SAT FRI SAT FRI SAT SAT FRI

T I C K E T W E B . C O. U K · 0 8 4 4 4 7 7 2 0 0 0 & A L L U S U A L AG E N TS presents

30th Anniversary Tour 2016

THE SMYTHS The Queen Is Dead

09 10 16 17 01 18 19 25 26 10 16

SEPT NEWCASTLE O2 Academy SEPT GLASGOW O2 ABC2 SEPT LEEDS O2 Academy SEPT LIVERPOOL O2 Academy3 OCT BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy3 NOV BOURNEMOUTH Old Fire Station NOV OXFORD O2 Academy2 NOV LEICESTER The Scholar @ O2 Academy NOV SHEFFIELD O2 Academy2 DEC LONDON O2 Academy Islington DEC MANCHESTER O2 Ritz ticketweb.co.uk · 0844 477 2000

Saturday 26 March LIVERPOOL

Friday 23 September BRISTOL

Saturday 7 May GLASGOW

Friday 7 October LEICESTER

Friday 13 May SHEFFIELD

Friday 14 October BOURNEMOUTH

Friday 20 May BIRMINGHAM

Saturday 15 October OXFORD

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30

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THE UK’s No.1 TRIBUTE TO THE ARCTIC MONKEYS PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS

AUTUMN 2016 SAT FRI SAT FRI SAT FRI SAT FRI

22 28 12 18 19 25 26 09

OCT OCT NOV NOV NOV NOV NOV DEC

BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY2 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY2 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 LEICESTER THE SCHOLAR @ O2 ACADEMY SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY2 LONDON O2 ACADEMY2 ISLINGTON OXFORD O2 ACADEMY2 GLASGOW O2 ABC2

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s

LISTINGS

department s

THE 1975 March: 14th Manchester O2 Apollo, 15th Manchester O2 Apollo, 18th Glasgow O2 Academy, 19th Glasgow O2 Academy, 20th Glasgow O2 Academy, 22nd Birmingham Barclaycard Arena.

of 13th Floor Elevators), SLEAFORD MODS, THURSTON MOORE & more. April: 15th - 17th Prestatyn Pontins.

65DAYSOFSTATIC April: 28th Liverpool O2 Academy.

BEN FOLDS June: 12th Cardiff Millennium Centre, 13th Birmingham Symphony Hall, 14th Edinburgh Usher Hall, 15th Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 17th Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 18th Gateshead Sage, 20th London Palladium, 21st London Palladium, 22nd Brighton Dome, 23rd Cambridge Corn Exchange. BESTIVAL 2016 W/THE CURE, HOT CHIP, WOLF ALICE AND MORE September: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11, 12th Isle Of Wight Robin Hill Country Park

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BELLE AND SEBASTIAN June: 22nd London Royal Albert Hall, 23rd London Royal Albert Hall.

ADAM ANT

ADAM ANT May: 23rd Ipswich Regent Theatre, 24th Leicester de Montfort Hall, 25th Bristol Colston Hall, 27th Portsmouth Guildhall, 28th Brighton Centre, 29th Hull City Hall, 31st York Barbican. June: 1st Gateshead The Sage, 2nd Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 4th Liverpool Philharmonic, 5th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 7th Birmingham Symphony Hall, 8th Oxford New Theatre, 10th London Brixton O2 Academy. ADAM GREEN May: 12th London Electric Ballroom, 13th London Electric Ballroom, 14th Bristol Thekla, 16th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 18th Norwich Waterfront, 24th Liverpool O2 Academy, 25th Manchester Gorilla. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE April: 11th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 13th Manchester Ritz. ATP 2.0 W/ ROKY ERICKSON (playing music

CAST April: 9th Manchester Academy 2, 14th Sheffield O2 Academy, 15th Leicester O2 Academy, 16th Birmingham O2 Academy, 21st Glasgow O2 ABC, 22nd Newcastle O2 Academy, 23rd Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 24th Glasgow O2 ABC, 28th Bournemouth Old Fire Station, 29th Bristol O2 Academy, 30th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. CITADEL FESTIVAL 2016 W/SIGUR ROS AND MORE July: 17th London Victoria Park.

DEPARTMENT S March: 17th London Putney Half Moon. April: 1st Nottingham Dog House, 2nd Birmingham The Flapper. May: 5th Leicester The Musician, 6th Bristol The Fleece, 7th Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach, 14th Kingston Fighting Cocks, 28th London Tchances (Blank Generation Festival). June: 3rd Wimborne (Alice’s Alternative Tea Party Festival). July: 17th Derby Hairy Dog (Punks Against Cancer). September: 9th Brighton Race Course (Undercover Festival). DILLINGER FOUR April: 28th London Tufnell Park The Dome. THE DUKE SPIRIT March: 21st Norwich Arts Centre, 22nd Bristol Thekla, 23rd Manchester Deaf Institute. EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY April: 19th Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom, 22nd Manchester Albert Hall, 23rd Bristol Colston Hall, 24th Brighton Dome, 25th London Royal Albert Hall. FATHER JOHN MISTY May: 11th Leeds O2 Academy, 12th Glasgow O2 ABC, 13th Manchester Albert Hall, 14th Gateshead Sage, 15th Nottingham Rock City, 17th Bristol Colston Hall, 18th London Camden Roundhouse, 19th London Camden Roundhouse, 21st Southampton O2 Guildhall. FIELD DAY 2016 W/DEERHUNTER, PJ HARVEY AND MORE June: 11th, 12th London Victoria Park FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE July: 2nd London Hyde Park.

CULT OF LUNA April: 9th Glasgow Audio, 10th Manchester Sound Control, 11th London Islington Assembly. THE CURE W/ THE TWILIGHT SAD November: 29th Manchester Arena. December: 1st, 2nd & 3rd London The SSE Wembley Arena. DEFTONES June: 3rd London SSE Wembley Arena. DESERTFEST 2016 W/ELECTRIC WIZARD, GODFLESH AND MORE April: 29th London (various venues).

THE BLUETONES

GREEN MAN FESTIVAL 2016 W/BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, WILD BEASTS AND MORE August: 20th, 21st Crickhowell Glanusk Park. HOLY ESQUE April: 6th Plymouth Underground, 7th Falmouth Mono, 8th Bude Carriers, 10th Bath Moles, 13th Manchester Soup Kitchen, 14th Liverpool Arts Club, 15th Stoke Sugarmill, 16th Birmingham Sunflower Lounge, 20th London Lexington, 22nd Bedford Esquires, 23rd Southampton Lennons, 24th Guildford Boileroom, 25th Cambridge Portland Arms, 27th Leicester Cookie, 28th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 29th Sheffield Picture House Social, May: 1st Newcastle Think Tank, 7th Glasgow Art School. THE ICICLE WORKS April: 14th Arlington Arts Centre, 16th Derby Flowerpot, 22nd Oxford O2 Academy, 23rd St. Helens The Citadel, 29th Morecambe The Platform. May: 5th Brighton Komedia, 6th Birmingham O2 Academy2, 7th Leicester O2 Academy, 12th Harpenden Public Halls, 13th Stockton Arc. THE BLUETONES April: 14th Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms, 15th Brighton Concorde 2, 16th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 18th Southampton Engine Rooms, 19th Cardiff Tramshed, 20th Wakefield Unity Works, 22nd Stoke Sugarmill, 23rd Preston 53 Degrees, 24th Aberdeen Lemon Tree, 25th Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, 27th Liverpool Arts Club, 28th York Duchess, 29th Sheffield Leadmill, 30th Nottingham Rock City, May: 2nd Norwich Waterfront, 3rd Birmingham Library, 4th Oxford O2 Academy, 5th London Camden Roundhouse.

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acceleratoR

Chelmsford Bassment, 28th Hastings Carlisle, 29th London Bethan Green Working Men’s Club, 30th Brighton Patterns, May: 1st Bath Moles, 2nd Leicester Musician. THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS May: 28th Swansea Liberty Stadium. THE STONE ROSES

THE STONE ROSES June: 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th Manchester Etihad Stadium, July: 9th Dublin Marlay Park.

JAMES May: 2nd Bristol Colston Hall, 3rd Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 4th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 6th London O2 Forum, 7th London O2 Academy Brixton, 9th Norwich UEA, 10th Bournemouth O2 Academy, 12th Llandudno Venue Cymru Arena, 13th Manchester Arena, 14th Leeds First Direct Arena, 16th Hull City Hall, 17th Newcastle City Hall, 19th Glasgow SSE Hydro, 20th Birmingham Barclaycard Arena, 21st Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. JOANNA GRUESOME March: 18th Bristol Exchange, 19th London DIY Space For, 20th Brighton Hope And Ruin. JOHN COOPER CLARKE June: 4th Edinburgh Queens Hall, 9th Gateshead Sage 2, 10th Manchester Albert Hall, 11th Liverpool Guild Of Students, 16th Milton Keynes Stables, 17th Birmingham Town Hall, 18th Bath Forum, 30th Southend Palace Theatre, July: 1st London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire. KAISER CHIEFS June: 17th Tetbury Westonbirt Arboretum, 18th Tunbridge Wells Bedgebury Pinetum, 26th Pickering

Dalby Forest, July: 3rd Northwich Delamere Forest, 10th Rugeley Cannock Chase Forest. KURT VILE March: 10th London Camden Roundhouse, 11th Brighton All Saints Church. THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS March: 26th Edinburgh Usher Hall, April: 1st London Hackney Empire, 2nd Liverpool Olympia, 3rd Sheffield City Hall. LAIBACH April: 12th London The Forum. LUCIUS April: 6th Manchester Gorilla, 8th Glasgow Art School, 9th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 10th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 11th Bristol Thekla, 13th London KOKO. LUSH May: London Camden Roundhouse 6th, London Camden Roundhouse 7th. THE LOVELY EGGS April: 21st Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 22nd Newcastle Cumberland Arms, 23rd Sheffield Picture House Social, 24th Birmingham Hare And Hounds, 25th Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach, 26th Cambridge Portland Arms, 27th

MATT AND KIM April: 1st Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 4th Manchester Academy 3, 6th Birmingham O2 Academy, 7th Bristol Fleece, 8th London Scala. MILBURN April: 30th Sheffield O2 Academy, May: 1st Sheffield O2 Academy. NADA SURF April: 9th Manchester Deaf Institute, 10th Glasgow King Tuts, 11th London Dingwalls. NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS April: 21st Glasgow SSE Hydro, 24th Aberdeen AECC, 25th Liverpool Echo Arena, 27th Leeds First Direct Arena, 29th Birmingham Genting Arena, 30th Bournemouth BIC. NOTHING BUT THIEVES

NOTHING BUT THIEVES March: 31st Birmingham O2 Institute2, April: 1st London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 2nd Manchester O2 Ritz, 3rd Norwich Waterfront, 5th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 6th Newcastle Riverside, 7th Glasgow O2 ABC, 8th Sheffield Leadmill, 9th Bristol Trinity. OCEAN COLOUR SCENE W/SHED SEVEN & THE BLUETONES July: 23rd Leeds Millennium Square, 24th Leeds Millennium Square. PELICAN May: 1st Bristol Fleece, 2nd Glasgow Audio, 3rd Manchester Gorilla. REBELLION FESTIVAL 2016 W/ DESCENDENTS, THE DAMNED, JELLO BIAFRA & THE GSM, DAG NASTY, FEAR, FLAG AND MORE August: 4th - 7th Blackpool Winter Gardens.

TACOCAT

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REEF March: 11th Birmingham O2 Institute2, 12th Norwich UEA, 17th Manchester Academy, 18th York Fibbers, 19th Sheffield Plug, 24th Exeter Lemon Grove, 25th Cardiff Tramshed, 26th Southampton Engine Rooms, 27th Deal Hole In The Roof. REFUSED March: 22nd Glasgow Garage, 23rd Manchester Academy, 24th Leeds Stylus. THE SECRET GARDEN PARTY 2016 W/CARIBOU, PRIMAL SCREAM AND MORE July: 22nd, 23rd, 24th Abbots Ripton Mill Hill Field. THE SPITFIRES April: 20th Birmingham Hare & Hounds, 21st Leeds The Wardrobe, 22nd Manchester The Ruby Lounge, 23rd Nottingham Bodega, 27th Bristol Thekla, 28th London 100 Club. THE STRANGLERS March: 14th Guildford G Live, 15th Reading Hexagon, 17th Sheffield O2 Academy, 18th Cardiff Uni Great Hall, 19th Bristol O2 Academy, 21st Salisbury City Hall, 22nd Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall, 23rd Cambridge Corn Exchange, 25th Leeds O2 Academy, 26th Manchester O2 Apollo. TACOCAT May: 2nd Nottingham JT Soar, 3rd Edinburgh Electric Circus, 4th Glasgow Broadcast, 5th Cardiff Moon Club, 6th Brighton Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, 7th London Lexington. TELLISON March: 26th Lincoln Liquer, 27th Leeds Wardrobe, 28th Cambridge Portland Arms, 29th Glasgow Bloc, 30th Edinburgh Mash House, 31st Birmingham Sunflower Lounge, April: 1st Manchester Sound Control, 2nd Bedford Soundcontrol, 3rd Bristol Stag and Hounds, 5th Guildford Boileroom, 6th Oxford Wheatsheaf, 7th London Garage. TINDERSTICKS April: 29th London Barbican Hall, 30th Coventry Warwick Arts Centre, May: 1st Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 2nd Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 3rd Edinburgh Usher Hall, 4th Gateshead Sage, 6th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 7th Bristol Colston Hall.

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LISTINGS

YUCK

T IN THE PARK 2016 W/THE STONE ROSES AND MORE July: 7th, 8th, 9th Scotland Strathallan Castle. TRAVIS May: 6th Glasgow O2 ABC, 7th Manchester Albert Hall, 9th London O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12th Birmingham O2 Academy, 13th Newcastle O2 Academy, 14th Leeds O2 Academy, 16th Leicester De Montfort Hall, 17th Bournemouth O2 Academy, 18th Bristol Colston Hall. THE WEDDING PRESENT May: 26th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 27th Gloucester Guildhall, 28th Leeds Brudenell Social, 29th Cambridge Junction. WESTWORLD WEEKEND XIV KIRK BRANDON AKOUSTIK, THEATRE OF HATE AND MORE May: 6th & 7th Crewe, The Box. WET March: 18th Brighton Patterns, 19th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 21st Glasgow Broadcast, 22nd Manchester Deaf Institute, 23rd London Scala. WOLF ALICE March: 14th Portsmouth Pyramids,

16th Glasgow Barrowlands, 17th York Barbican, 19th Leeds O2 Academy, 21st Folkestone Leas Cliff Halls, 22nd Brighton Dome, 23rd Nottingham Rock City, 24th Cardiff Great Hall, 26th, 27th, 28th London O2 Forum Kentish Town. THE WONDER STUFF March: 17th Bristol O2 Academy, 18th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 19th Birmingham O2 Academy, 24th Glasgow O2 ABC, 25th Newcastle O2 Academy 25th, 26th Leeds O2 Academy. YUCK May: 12th Norwich Arts Centre, 13rd Edinburgh Sneaky Petes, 14th Glasgow Broadcast, 15th Manchester Deaf Institute, 16th Guildford Boileroom, 17th Birmingham Alfie Birds Custard Factory, 18th Brighton Sticky Mikes Frog Bar, 19th Bristol Exchange, 20th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 21st Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 22nd Bedford Esquires. ZIBRA April: 5th Manchester Sound Control, 6th London Camden Barfly, 7th Birmingham Sunflower Lounge, 9th Glasgow Garage Attic, 10th Leeds Oporto, 11th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 12th Bristol Louisiana.

RAT BOY

ALIAS KID Taking their strident guitar-led anthems out on the road in support of debut album ‘Revolt To Revolt’, Alias Kid vocalist/guitarist talks headline spots and attempted murder with kitchenware.

2015 was a pretty wild year for Alias Kid. How do you feel about it now, looking back? “It was insane when you look back. Happy Mondays, Black Grape, Jesus and Mary Chain, Cast, festivals, Moscow, Amsterdam, videos, documentaries, singles, album... Totally non-stop. We love that though - it means you’re winning and, let’s be honest, it is hardly like a proper job. It makes me laugh when I see a band complaining about it being difficult - don’t do it if it’s too hard. There are hundreds of bands who will take your place so fuck off out the way.”

What was it like touring with the likes of Happy Mondays and Black Grape? “Playing with those bands we were in front of between 1000 and 2000 people at each gig with mayhem around every corner, every night. The best example I can give was playing The Forum in London with Black Grape. We were about four hours late because of a crash on the M6 - so we were given about ten minutes to set up and we had to do it all in the car park round the back. Then we chucked all the gear on the stage and they said ‘Okay, play’. The place was packed and the gig was a belter. All the way through I was thinking ‘How the fuck have we got away with this?’. Apart from that, the memory of our driver Goose trying to kill James our guitarist with a frying pan in Dublin stands out for me.”

After all the support slots, when it comes to preparing for a headlining tour, do you have to get into a different headspace? “I’ve never really considered that to be honest. It’s just we go and we play - pretty straightforward. There’s so much going on all the time with our band that you don’t have much chance to think about what you’re going to do or how you’ll approach it, you just go with it and make it up as you go along. I love live gigs and the unknown element just makes it better for me. To be fair we’ve been doing our own gigs along the way too, we sold out Manchester twice last year, sold out Glasgow and Moscow and been all over the place really. It’s not totally new.”

What can we expect from the shows on this tour? “Expect me to try to make Sean (vocals/guitar) cry on stage - I reckon I got close a few times in 2015. It is like sharing the microphone with a punching bag in a hat. Apart from that it will be the same - top nights with great crowds who get what is going on.”

READING & LEEDS 2016 W/FOALS, FETTY WAP, CRYSTAL CASTLES, RAT BOY AND MORE August: 26th, 27th, 28th Reading Richfield Avenue/Leeds Braham Park

March: 4th Chesterfield Victoria Inn, 5th Lincoln Platform, 12th York Spread Eagle, 18th London Garage, 19th Southampton Joiners, April: 1st Glasgow Hard Rock Cafe, 2nd Edinburgh Biscuit Factory, 8th Newcastle Cluny, 22nd Scunthorpe Abacus, 23rd Leicester O2 Academy, 30th Manchester Club Academy.

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Then & Now

SKUNK ANANSIE

BORN OUT OF LONDON WORKING CLASS BACKGROUNDS AND RISING UP TO HUGE SUCCESS ALL OVER EUROPE IN THE MID ‘90S WITH THEIR MULTI-PLATINUM ALBUMS ‘PARANOID & SUNBURNT’ AND ‘STOOSH’, SKUNK ANANSIE WERE ALWAYS A SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE. WITH A BLACK FEMALE SINGER AND HIT SINGLES THAT ADDRESSED EVERYTHING FROM POLITICS, RELIGION, FEMINISM AND RACISM, THEY STOOD OUT FROM THE BRITROCK AND BRITPOP SCENE, DELIVERING ROCK MUSIC WITH DIVERSE INFLUENCES. HAVING UNLEASHED THEIR DARK, VARIED AND ROUSING SIXTH ALBUM IN JANUARY TO KICKSTART WHAT’S SURE TO BE A BUSY YEAR, IAN CHADDOCK SPOKE TO ICONIC FRONTWOMAN SKIN ABOUT THEN AND NOW...

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SPLASH CLUB “That’s really where it all started. I used to hang out there, I was in a band with Cass (bass) called Mama Wild and our band played there and we’d watch the other bands. That’s how I met Ace (guitar), it was his club. Ace used to DJ. I ended that band and started Skunk Anansie with Cass and asked Ace to be the guitar player.”

RISE UP “We recorded ‘Paranoid & Sunburnt’ in 1994 but the record company stalled us on it. They didn’t release it until a year later. When you’re a brand new band that’s a long time. By the time ‘Paranoid & Sunburnt’ had come out, some of it felt stale and old because we’d been writing new songs and had done five tours of the UK. I hated that album for years for that one reason. I was wrong really because it’s a snapshot of us when we started our career and it’s an amazing album. The second album, ‘Stoosh’, was really hard work because we were on tour and were at the peak. That first album had exploded and went triple platinum. We’d sold 100,000 records in a month or something silly. But we didn’t know what that meant. With the second album we had three studios running at the same time to get it done on tour by September. It was exhausting and we finished recording it at 4am then we were on a plane at 7am to do a festival. Slept for three hours then played another festival. It went on like that for a month. It was a mad time.”

CLITPOP “We were outsiders from Britpop and were different from Britrock bands like 3 Colours Red, Therapy? and Feeder for an obvious reason – a black female singer. But also, we were much riffier and much more influenced by American bands. We were playing with Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine and Stone Temple Pilots. The post-Nirvana thing that happened. We were more aligned with that. We weren’t tainted with the Britpop brush. When I was asked about it once I said, ‘we’re not Britpop, we’re Clitpop’. It was just a joke but now it’s a scene and there’s a festival!”

YES IT’S FUCKING POLITICAL “We used to say, ‘we have politics in our music but we’re not a political band’. It

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was just part of our make-up because we came from dirty Brixton and dirty Shepherd’s Bush. If you came from those areas in the ‘90s, it was rough. In Brixton we’d just survived two riots in the ‘80s and we were trying to climb ourselves out of that hole. We were in it, part of it and were working class so we had something to say. In hindsight why some of those political songs were so successful was that they were little personal observations, like ‘who put baby swastika on the wall?’, ‘look they’re selling Jesus again’ and ‘he tried to intellectualise my blackness’. In that way the cliches were avoided.”

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ANARCHYTECTURE “I think artistic freedom was always part of the picture with Skunk Anansie and as long as you have the four of us, it’s always going to sound like Skunk Anansie. Lyrically the songs are succinct. It’s dark, damaging and very personal. It’s straight from our standpoint. All those things we were doing in the ‘90s we’re doing now and I think we’ve always been very experimental because of our diverse tastes. The electronic element is very Skunk Anansie but we start the album with that. It’s in your face and it makes a statement. It’s fresh and contemporary but it’s still a rock album. We’re a rock band and we love that. But this album is the grooviest and sexiest we’ve ever done.”

THAT SINKING FEELING “I think the beginning of last year was one of the worst beginnings of a year I’ve ever had. The end of last year was the best end of a year I’ve ever had. As a consequence of the beginning of the year I had a hole I had to dig myself out of. I think that darkness is in the album. When we write happier songs they’re not as good, as sexy or as interesting. I just think that’s part of the band – we’re much more interested in the darker, shadier part of the human character, whether it’s the debauchery of what happens in the back room or ‘Death to the Lovers’ and the death of intimacy in a relationship.”

‘Anarchytecture’ is out now on Spinefarm

LOUDER THAN WAR

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THE NEW ALBUM / 18th MARCH INCLUDES THE SINGLE WHERE THE LIGHT GETS IN primalscream.net

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Profile for VIVE LE ROCK | LOUDER THAN WAR | DOWN FOR LIFE

LOUDER THAN WAR 3 OASIS  

OASIS "EVERYTHING I SAID WAS JUSTIFIED" 1996: THE YEAR THAT INDIE SMASHED THE STADIUMS PLUS THE WONDER STUFF DRIVE LIKE JEHU SWIM DEEP BIS...

LOUDER THAN WAR 3 OASIS  

OASIS "EVERYTHING I SAID WAS JUSTIFIED" 1996: THE YEAR THAT INDIE SMASHED THE STADIUMS PLUS THE WONDER STUFF DRIVE LIKE JEHU SWIM DEEP BIS...