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Updated: 2017-01-20T10:21:38+00:00


The Friday Fangasm: Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth

2017-01-20T10:21:38+00:002017-01-20 10:21:38 +0000

Almost all of its 12 tracks stretch out into glorious territories The awe-inspiring culmination of what Sonic Youth had been hinting at over their first five albums, "getting" Daydream Nation – whether on the first or fifteenth listen – can feel a little like a epiphanic experience. With Thurston Moore, in particular, bursting at the proverbial seams with inspiration, the result of the band’s three-week recording session with hip-hop producer Nick Sansano resulted in the material being released as a 12-track (14-song) double album. 28 years on – and countless doting retrospectives later – it continues to grace the very top end of best-of lists with very good reason. Just maybe – more than others of its ilk – the majesty and influence of Daydream Nation cannot be overstated. src="" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> Over 71 minutes of gorgeously crafted sound, from post-apocalyptic noise expanses to shimmering bridges and cunningly reckless guitar rock, Sonic Youth’s most fully-realised full-length album bursts with unabated power throughout. Opening on the finest opening gambit in all of indie rock, ‘Teenage Riot’ – a restless, starry-eyed guitar anthem originally titled ‘J Mascis For President’ – Daydream Nation captures the open-ended improvisational jams that defined Sonic Youth’s live performances at the time, melding it with a pop-centric, melody-driven aesthetic that sees almost all of its 12 tracks stretch out into glorious territories. Whether you look to the frantic punk grandeur of ‘Silver Rocket’, the disembodied musique concrete melancholia of ‘Providence’ – featuring muffled telephone messages from Mike Watt to Thurston Moore’s answering machine no less – or ‘The Sprawl’, featuring Kim’s legendarily laconic refrain of “Come on down to the store / You can buy some more and more and more and more”, the band struck an uncanny balance between the accessible and the challenging. Indeed, looking back, Daydream Nation feels a little like a self-contained Year Zero of sorts for the genre as a whole, a primal musical release as much feverish as it is carefree. Expounding, both lyrically and musically, on Sister by several degrees, quietly submitting to the trip that is Daydream Nation just never gets old. Fuelled by the fading images and backwashed thoughts of everything and everyone from Warhol, Reagan-era restlessness and sci-fi writer William Gibson, Sonic Youth’s sixth album hitched with 1988’s other classic indie rock releases Surfer Rosa and Bug in soundtracking the baby steps of a brand new, increasingly tumultuous countercultural apex. All thanks to the band’s intuitive fulfilment of bookish chinrubbery and DIY/trash culture, the frantic ecstasy of ‘Silver Rocket’, the Neuromancer-inspired ‘The Sprawl’ – a track which veers from chiming beauty to all-out glorious release – the feedback-heavy ghosts of ‘Total Trash’ and Lee Ranaldo’s exquisite Beat-influenced tribute to Joni Mitchell on ‘Hey Joni’ sees discordance, harmonic-led noise explosions, improvisation, and off-kilter indie rock glory coalesce to form a seamless and incandescent whole. With radiant crescendos to die for, blistering noise rampages, and an equally pop-orientated and avant-garde songwriting approach, the most conclusive thing about Sonic Youth at this time was their rampant originality. At no point, either before or after, would they come close to matching the sheer finesse of this record. With its super-hyped (albeit largely justified) legacy and enduring inspiration to countless musicians ever since, it stands, alongside the likes of Marquee Moon and Velvet Underground and Nico, as one of the quintessential New York albums. More than anything, though, it’s a ‘time and place’ release; the privilege of being able to relive it, anywhere, at any time, not something to be taken for granted. As Lee wisely instructs on ‘Hey Joni’, [...]

DiS Does Eurosonic Noorderslag 2017

2017-01-20T10:01:47+00:002017-01-20 10:01:47 +0000

Last week, DiS headed to Groningen for the 2017 edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag. Here's what we saw Make no mistake, Eurosonic Noorderslag is the finest new music showcase event on the planet right now. While it might not possess as many big names and therefore be hyped in the same way as South By Southwest or The Great Escape, it isn't as industry heavy either, and most venues are easily accessible at all times unlike the former where block circling queues seem to be the order of the day and night. What's more, the vibe is far more friendly with every delegate from all over Europe bigging up each other's artists irrespective of association. Competition isn't the name of the game here, or one-upmanship, and DiS is in its element mingling with various representatives from the Dutch, Austrian, Portuguese, and Belgian music export groups respectively. Now in its 31st year, the 2017 edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag hosted an incredible 382 artists from over 30 countries across its three days. Not to mention its sister fringe event Altersonic, which added dozens more performances across its participating venues in a similar vein to Brighton's Alternative Escape. The festival takes place in Groningen, a city which can boast two of the largest universities in the Netherlands. As a result, students form over 25% of its population, which is partly responsible for the city being a long-standing cultural hive of activity. Split into two parts, the Eurosonic event showcases international acts from Wednesday (11th January) to Friday (13th), while Noorderslag takes place on the Saturday (14th), predominantly showcasing Dutch artists. Although the quality can be a veritable mixed bag, the better end of the scale can sometimes become exceptional, as many acts demonstrated this year. Having arrived late on Wednesday due to a rail strike (solidarity!) that saw no trains leaving Amsterdam's Schiphol airport before 5pm, DiS arrives at the Grand Theatre (grand in name, grand in stature) just in time for Anna Meredith's set. Having won the 2016 Scottish Album Of The Year award with debut record Varmints the theatre is unsurprisingly packed to the rafters, and in a set where visuals are as important as the sounds, it soon gets off to a heady start. Unfortunately, the constant patter from a group of agents standing nearby discussing their marketing strategy for Clean Bandit (who've just scored the lowest-selling Christmas number one of all time, trivia fans) becomes increasingly off-putting and solace is sought elsewhere. Namely in the intimate confines of De Spieghel, which quickly becomes our favourite venue of the festival. Hosting bands on two floors, its the larger downstairs room that becomes Drowned In Sound's home for the evening as first Goat Girl then Amber Arcades both strike a blow for female fronted guitar bands. The former's lo-fi punk rock mixes the sassiness of Thee Headcoatees with Fat White Family's nonchalance while the latter, who we first saw in this very same venue exactly twelve months ago, show why in Annelotte De Graaf they possess one of the finest songwriters/arrangers on the planet right now. Amber Arcades also give us two new as-yet-untitled songs as well. The first, tentatively called 'Rock Song' for the purpose of the setlist, is more upbeat in a similar vein to 'Come With Me' or 'Fading Lines' off their debut, while the other, or 'Backlight Haze' as its known this evening, is a waltzing lullaby that owes more to Stereolab or Beach House and as a result, is arguably the more thought-provoking of the two. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The next day, having sat through a day of conferences, meetings, and interviews, the evening's music provides an amiable respite from far too much business talk. Communions have packed a large crowd into the tiny Huis De Beurs venue, and while their radio-friendly take on post-punk ticks all the right boxes prefixed by the word "nice", we're a little uns[...]

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - Modern Ruin

2017-01-19T17:36:29+00:002017-01-19 17:33:26 +0000

He’s still yet to prove himself as a songwriter with this outfit Frank Carter has long been hailed the crown prince of the latest wave of UK punk, ever since he exploded into the public consciousness as the rabid and respected frontman of Gallows on their 2006 debut Orchestra of Wolves. Through various incarnations, it became apparent that there was much more to Carter than many gave him credit for. Hidden depths and musical leanings that couldn’t be catered to by Gallows’ abrasive and macho brand of hardcore punk eventually saw him parting ways with the band, citing musical differences after their somewhat sanitised major label effort, the ambitious but flawed Grey Britain. Returning in the guise of the more mainstream leaning duo of Pure Love, the pair’s playful approach to rock and roll was a refreshing peek into the psyche of one of the most explosive and intense frontmen of his generation. His latest project Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes find their second album Modern Ruin lingering somewhere uneasily between the two projects. There’s the audible edge and sense of danger that made his time in Gallows so notable, and there’s the musical experimentation and depth that found him fans through Pure Love’s efforts. The one major criticism that inescapably must be levelled, and unfortunately it is a major one, is that this record is just so forgettable. For a man whose on-stage presence is an affirmation of life, red in tooth and claw in the rawest sense, musically speaking, Modern Ruin is a dull listen. It’s an album which is almost lacking in a stand out track – it’s unavoidable, it’s unforgivable, and it’s a damn shame. As ever, Carter remains utterly captivating in a live setting, with the kind of mesmerising eyes and wry smile that could charm the birds from the trees and incite mass riots, but ultimately he’s still yet to prove himself as a songwriter with this outfit. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Lyrically speaking there’s always a darkly poetic strain to enjoy in a Carter-penned missive. He has something of the timeless melancholy of Tom Waits about him, the grinning devil who knows his own sins will find him, epitomised by the brutally candid “send me to hell, it’s where I belong” on ‘God Is My Friend’ which ultimately collapses in a wonderful hiss of static and feedback. Elsewhere it’s difficult to tell whether the pleading line “I don’t want to live in the shadow of the mountain no more, I’m sick of being hidden in the darkness” on ‘Vampires’ is a sub-conscious reference to Carter’s own public persona or some exterior influence, but a listen to the record leaves the distinct impression it could easily be both. With his previous work, it was easy to see how his whirlwind-of-daggers approach to his music was at once immediate, startling and riveting. It’s difficult to avoid the nagging suspicion that through Gallows, the Frank Carter we know to be a charming, intelligent and thoughtful man was locked in a struggle with a beast that he could not always control. In subduing and possibly internalising his animalistic anger and youthful vigour, the introspective search for his new identity is yet to bear any real musical fruit - “I’m so lost in the feeling that you have stopped believing, and I am finally nearing the end” he extols on the aptly titled ‘Real Life’. The title-track, ironically, is as close as this record gets to ever reaching maximum velocity and is, it must be said, a raging polemic that drips with the rattlesnake venom that the rest of the record leaves you craving. This is where Carter excels, it’s where he belongs, but the question is, is it where he wants to be? ![104390]( [...]

Menace Beach - Lemon Memory

2017-01-19T17:26:32+00:002017-01-19 17:25:39 +0000

A whole spectrum of fuckboycore

Reasons to like Ratworld, the first album from Menace Beach included: fuzzy guitars, variation without incoherency, self-aware fun to be had in their refusal to try too hard to be that original (backhanded though that might sound, it makes the record genuinely fun and really likeable). Who’d’ve thought a bit of consistency and confidence would be the last thing this band would need?

Second effort Lemon Memory makes me reasonably doubt whether I really liked Ratworld in the first place. On opener ‘Give Blood’, the sort-of duo's on-the-nose approximation of their own genre - complete with Gallagher-esque whinge - combined with the (here unwittingly) absurd rubbishness of the lyrical hook “Why’d you always sing about death?” sound like Vince Noir in a neo-grunge phase. Their previous shoulder-shrugging celebration of their own derivativeness feels like it’s curdled into an arrogant patronisation of the listener.

Indeed, an offputting cockiness seems to define most of the album. ‘Can’t Get a Haircut’ stomp-struts through four excruciating minutes of off-putting swagger, while the sneer of ‘Sentimental’ is hookless, abrasive, angular. In just these two tracks, Menace Beach have encapsulated a whole spectrum of fuckboycore. Lemon Memory feels all about this newfound bravado, which, in finding, has cost the pair their likeability. It means that songs that might otherwise be halfway enjoyable, like the slackerish ‘Darlatoid’ and ‘Watch Me Boil’, and the dreamy, fuzzy ‘Hexbreaker II’, end up just adding to how grating the album is as a whole.

‘Owl’ might be another of these not-quite saving graces, had they not completely ruined the riff, made up of three perfectly good chords (hey, if they’re good enough for Nirvana and Hole…), with the jarring, hugely irritating and totally superfluous slide-staccato quavers. If that part of the riff literally just didn’t happen, the song might even be enjoyable - Menace Beach are at their best combining their fuzzy distorted guitars with their Liza Violet’s dreamy lead vocal. That part of the riff, which crops up in the main vocal line of the chorus too, makes the song near unbearable, and sounds like the laziest stab at inventiveness you ever did hear. There’s no shame in nicking a chord sequence off Nirvana - just ask Oasis - and sometimes, when you have done that, it’s best to leave well enough alone.

Elsewhere, songs like ‘Suck It Out’ – and maybe even ‘Give Blood’ – have the sense that they should work as pop hits. Problem is, they fall flat in not remotely bothering to be made up of words that people can grab onto, that can grab onto people. Their sense of lyrical aesthetics is far too weak for anthem-type songs not to be about anything, and you can’t have anthem choruses that don’t speak to people.

These half-arsed attempts at pop anthems feel off-putting in some of the same ways as the earlier stabs at fuckboycore: again, it feels patronising to hear ourselves being expected to 'really love' this. It’s crushingly disappointing from a band that can sound so much better.


The Proper Ornaments' Track By Track Guide to Foxhole

2017-01-19T11:12:34+00:002017-01-19 11:12:34 +0000

James Hoare and Max Oscarnold talk us through their second album 'Foxhole', released this week London based four-piece The Proper Ornaments release their long awaited second album Foxhole this week. Out on Friday 20th January via Tough Love Records, it's a marked progression from 2014's debut Wooden Head and highlights the band's two main songwriters James Hoare and Max Oscarnold as a force to be reckoned with. Here, both Hoare and Oscarnold give DiS a track-by-track account of the 11 songs that make up Foxhole. --- Backpages Someone's stuck in the past, in the last pages of some old book and you're trying to bring him back. The music is reminiscent of Gram Parsons-era Byrds. Cremated (Blown Away) You love that person so much that you wished you were both cremated and kept in the same jar on a shelf. Originally it was a Bridget St John folk type song, but when we were finishing the record it was too laid back so we sped it up. It was the last one we did. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Memories Everyone stays forever, never disappears. A memory is a time travel vehicle that allows us to understand our present and future. An archeology of the mind. Unfortunately, the ones who should use it the most don't do it, so we're bound to commit the same mistakes. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Just A Dream It's about trying to help someone and ending up worse than them. Be careful with this song, it is highly manipulative. It used to be a Forever Changes upbeat number, which we decided to slow down and make it less derivative. 1969 A space travel song, like Air's Moon Safari but covered by Kasabian. The Frozen Stare A collage of words inspired by Tom Jobim's 'Aguas de Março', which is one of our favourite songs. It was the first song we recorded for Foxhole. It has a Graham Coxon/Abbey Road outro with a Plastic Ono filo pastry. Jeremy's Song A song about the WW1 trenches inspired musically by Psychic TV's first record, Force The Hand Of Chance. When We Were Young We wrote this song recalling stories of illegal fun we've had. The verses were random cut-up lines. In this one only, Bobby (Syme) played the drums without knowing the song at all and in only one take! Bridge By A Tunnel A play on words. A dream you can't understand. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> I Know You Know We call it beggars banquet. The slide is what we thought Brian Jones would have done. A warning, asking not to be taken for granted. The Devils It's a collage of two different songs à la Mercury Rev. It had to emanate sadness. Her eyes reveal bad intentions but you offer no resistance. As if you were a fish, the line which suspends you is about to break, and you'll be lost to the depths, like DiCaprio at the end of Titanic. For more information on The Proper Ornaments visit their Facebook and Bandcamp pages. ![104381]( [...]

Vitalic's Track By Track Guide to Voyager

2017-01-18T10:31:27+00:002017-01-18 10:31:27 +0000

We get the inside track on the French artist's fourth album Enigmatic French dance maestro Pascal Arbez, better known as Vitalic, has always mined a rich seam in audacious maximalism and a stylish, off-centre Eurodance. From the loopy eletro of his 2005 debut OK Cowboy to 2012's in-your-face Rave Age, he's blazed a trail through dancefloors and arenas while gathering no shortage of critical acclaim. The producer is starting 2017 with a bang, releasing new album Voyager and touring a brand new live show across Europe and beyond. His fourth album in 15 years is inspired by the likes of Giorgio Moroder, Cerrone, and Patrick Cowley, and features collaborations with David Shaw And The Beat, Mark Kerr, and Miss Kittin. Arbez gave us the lowdown on all ten tracks ahead of its release this Friday (20 January). width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> --- El Viaje Starting an album with a short introduction is a bit old fashion now, but I still like the idea. This one is a short song intending to announce that the trip is starting. I thought that mixing a disco bass together with an obsessive ‘Mexican-ish’ gimmick was a funny way to start. It's kind of funny but weird at the same time. Waiting For The Stars This is the last song I made for this L.P. A basic Moog-ish disco bass and new wave epic voices are my favourite references from 70's and 80's music. All the elements are out of tune. Nowadays, it’s very easy to make songs that sound totally neat and perfect; anybody can sing totally in tune with some processing. I go for the opposite, making errors when sequencing the drums or programming the sounds to be out of tune randomly. Levitation There are two different readings for this one. The voices can stand for a crowd cheering a DJ, or they stand for some kind of incantations from an aborigine tribe. To me, it’s the second option. Their incantations are an order to make you levitate. Hans Is Driving Hans is the driver of my night liner bus when I am on tour. He is both a driver and a philosopher. I wanted to dedicate a song to him for all the great moments we have on tour. I had the instrumental song and the title, but didn’t know who could really get the song and write the right thing. Miss Kittin wrote the lyrics in just a snap after some lunch in Paris. And that was it - my favourite song on the LP. Use It Or Lose It I was just about to leave my flat to catch a flight when the whole song popped into my mind. I ran to the studio because the three elements are quite complex and I was afraid to lose them. I sent it to Garraud, who co-produced that one with me. A few days later we sent it to Mark Kerr, singer of the band Maestro, to give it that new wave colour. Lightspeed Some will see this song as a tribute to some funky blip 80's songs. The real idea behind that one was to create an acceleration effect you can experience in a theme park. I love this feeling of high-speed stargazing. It's not easy to share personal sensations other than love and sadness in music, but I try to. Eternity Initially, I wanted to call this one 'Le Paradis Des Chien' because I have a very strong connection with animals and particularly my dogs. I am not a piano player, so it took me ages to sequence the full orchestra melody note after note. I tried to find some opera singers to make that Klaus Nomi dramatic voice, but never succeeded. I finally made it with a computer voice myself. I find it both funny and rewarding to learn how to make things alone with just a computer or a machine. Nozomi Nozomi means ‘wish’ and refers to the Japanese fast train, the fastest one I’ve experienced. It goes through the countryside, crossing cities one after the other without stopping or slowing down. The song refers to that poetic Japanese concept of having hopes and travelling. Sweet Cigarette This is also a[...]

“I like having a challenge”: DiS Meets Georgia Ruth

2017-01-18T10:23:30+00:002017-01-18 10:23:30 +0000

We spent a day in a museum with the Welsh singer-songwriter “When they said my name, the first thing I thought was: 'Shit, I haven't got any shoes on.” It's the morning after the Welsh Music Prize, and standing next to me in the grand space of the National Museum of Wales is Georgia Ruth, winner of the 2013 award. She seems genuinely delighted to hear about the previous night's triumph of her old school friend and collaborator Meilyr Jones. “It took me back to that feeling of being shocked, really humbled and pleased,” she says beaming, and then tells me about turning up to the ceremony in “the worst shoes”, which she took off just before the winner's name was announced. Georgia's 2013 Welsh Music Prize album Week Of Pines was inspired by her return to Wales after many years in England, first studying at Cambridge University, and later living in London and Brighton. By her own admission, she loved her time away, but it was only after getting immersed back into Welsh music through working for Radio Cymru she started to feel a greater sense of purpose in her own writing. Return to Cardiff meant rediscovering a commonality of language and background, and ultimately a feeling of acceptance. As a result, “these songs just flowed out of me. It didn't feel difficult to write that first album.” We take a walk around the museum, with Georgia as my guide. “One of my earliest memories is being in the natural history gallery,” she informs me, whispering, “being shit scared of the mammoth.” Then onto the fossil gallery where she talks about the Southerndown beach (“only 30 minutes outside of Cardiff”) where the video for her latest single 'Cloudbroke' was filmed. I ask whether she spotted any fossils when they filmed and she replies, “It's amazing! You see them in the rocks and think 'That is ancient!” src="" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> The ideas of wonder at “life's inscrutable constants” and nature as artistic inspiration run deep in Ruth's new album Fossil Scale. If Week Of Pines was about her coming home to Wales, the latest LP is a step closer to nature's immutable essence. Work on the album was already underway when Georgia and her partner moved from Cardiff to Caernarfon in North Wales, close to Snowdonia. Being in a happy and very content place personally, at first she struggled to find a creative spark. She was bored with writing about herself and being introspective, and then “the landscape took over. Being in Snowdonia you felt so tiny and, in a way, irrelevant. On the daily basis you were floored by the scale of the staff that surrounded you. It was liberating.” The singer's initial creative discontent with her happy stasis is echoed in 'Good Milk', the song she sees as the starting point of the record. “I've always had this tendency to try and create drama for myself,” she observes with a gentle smile. “My mum used to say: ‘You're turning the good milk sour.' That's where it came from.” Another song, 'Doldrums', takes its name from an archaic maritime term describing the unnerving, deceptive stillness at sea in the tropics around the equator; moments of total calm before a great storm. Everything is still but what's coming? What does happiness mean in this context? But there is an even darker side, with the title track 'Fossil Scale' projecting a sinister quality of “being displaced from or drenched out of something. I didn't intend for it to be dark but looking back now...,” Georgia stops for a minute, adding that some of the songs were written two years ago. When we get to the Artes Mundi modern art exhibition she takes me to see Bedwyr Williams' futuristic video installation Big Towers. A giant projection covering an entire wall of the gallery is an image of a dystopian c[...]

Austra - Future Politcs

2017-01-17T23:19:55+00:002017-01-17 23:17:52 +0000

Political, danceable, dark, shimmering and hopeful One of last year’s biggest signifiers of how far humanity hasn’t come was the election of a proudly racist, misogynistic, billionaire celebrity, flanked by a cabinet of far right horrors, as President of the most powerful country in the world. And, as we all know, he is but one face of the snarling, brutal, multi-headed Cerberus that is contemporary global politics. Imagine being a musician who is able to escape from the ghastly reality of modern times into music? To flee from scenes of the world burning on your screen and use music to create some kind of alternate reality, to hide in it? No, me neither. It generally doesn’t work that way and —Bono and other self-appointed great white saviours notwithstanding— thank god. We need artists who don’t turn their faces from the dystopian future in which we are already living, but grab it by the throat. Whilst Austra are a Canadian band, I mention Trump because the group’s third album Future Politics comes out the day of his inauguration, a coincidence, but a timely one. Much of the album was written during a period of self-imposed isolation for lead singer and songwriter Katie Stelmanis during a time of mourning for, essentially, 2016. The result is Austra’s most political and album to date and also one that contains some of their most danceable songs. Urgent claustrophobic beats and luscious synths meet lyrics that touch on personal vulnerability, political grief and hope for something better. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> The album begins with ‘We Were Alive’, which slowly sets the tone by way of synths and beats that combine a sense of gentleness with darkness and urgency, Stelmanis singing, “I know I believed in nothing before”. Stelmanis’ stunning operatic vocals resonate with sadness and loss, but they also send shivers through the body and communicate something language cannot. It’s the same throughout the album; it’s the same with most Austra songs. Singles ‘Future Politics’ and ‘Utopia’ are danceable bangers. Think going to a club but instead of ludicrously overpriced drinks, narcissistic posers and sexual harassment you are left with the feeling that, with others, you might begin to look the tragic hell humanity has wrought itself squarely in the eyes and begin to confront it. And no, you didn’t do MDMA. ‘Future Politics’ celebrates community and resistance in the face of power that cares nothing for the people it’s meant to serve: “The system won’t help you when your money runs out . . . The grave has been dug/I’m looking for something to rise up above”. ‘Utopia’ sets out a vision of hope but without being free of doubts or blind to complexity, it feels real and human: “It might be fiction but I see it ahead/There’s nothing I wouldn’t do”. Whilst it has its hopeful moments, there is much darkness in Future Politics. On ‘I’m a Monster’ ominous synths, rise and swirl and lyrics gesture to falling apart: “There must be more to life than this . . . I try try to keep my head on straight”. ‘Gaia’ is named after the Earth Spirit of Greek mythology and longingly laments a planet decimated by human destruction with its refrain of “undo the damage”. Future Politics closes with ‘43’, a track harder, darker and more minimalist in sound than the rest of the record. In contrast the gorgeous ‘I love you more than you love yourself’ opens with the lines, there is nothing in your soul tonight/I only see darkness, but the synths are so lush and Stelmanis's voice so otherworldly these words sound comforting. Future Politics is political, danceable, dark, shimmering and hopeful. Not a combination easily achievable, but Austra have never been a normal band. U[...]

E.Bias - Emmanuel Bias

2017-01-17T23:09:20+00:002017-01-17 23:08:24 +0000

A winsome curiosity, and fitting tribute to a lost underground composer

Billed as something of an avant-garde supergroup, E Bias features Turner Prize-nominated artist Luke Fowler, Richard Youngs – whose prolific and varied output has seen him cast as the inventor of ‘no genre’ – and Franz Ferdinand’s Paul Thomson. The project was born out of correspondence between Youngs and obscure Italian electronic artist Emmanuel Maggi. Maggi was taken with Youngs’ work, and so suggested a collaboration. He sent Youngs lyrics and rhythm tracks from his shelved debut record from the Eighties, and after hooking up with Fowler and Thompson the Emmanuel Bias EP was eventually realised.

Aside from a handful of live sets played in some notable clubs in Italy in the Eighties, Maggi’s music never reached a wider audience, and he retreated from the music world into family life. Given the current appetite for the retro stylings of records like Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s Stranger Things soundtrack, this release, which resurrects his lost music career, feels timely. The compositions are built around the vintage Serge Modular and DX7 synthesisers for added authenticity, and opener ‘No Way Back’ marries a simple, spare and deep bass line, propulsive hi-hat with the spaced out and a mildly nonchalant vocal style. As with many of the tracks on the album, it brings to mind pioneering krautrock anticipators Silver Apples, which is no bad thing, to say the least.

The retrospective atmosphere is built throughout the record, care of ‘Landfill’s’ Super Mario Bros. echoing electronic beeps and blips. ‘Emergency’ rests on a handclap beat and economic keyboard, and the “rescue, rescue” chorus recalls the elongated vocal style of David Byrne. By the fourth track ‘Share’ the rhythms and characteristics of the record start to feel a little repetitive. But pace and interest are restored on the latter half with the increased BPM of ‘Ride’ complete with a vocal shift that comes across like a distorted Karl Hyde. And the EP concludes with the lovely ‘Pleasure,’ which is easily the most emotionally invested song. Twitchy synths are paired with the soulful lament “Too much pleasure lost/pleasure gained/too much” to great effect.

Considering the patchwork nature of the Emmanuel Bias EP, which harvests its source material from another decade and is the fruit of a number of different artists, it maintains a surprisingly coherent and clean sound. Bearing in mind both the obscure source material and the moderately left-field artists involved you might expect work that’s a little more out there, but these are largely highly accessible songs that could play out nicely in clubs. That said, it does retain a certain strangeness that makes it a winsome curiosity, and fitting tribute to a lost underground composer.


Independent Venue Week: Our Gig Picks

2017-01-17T23:04:45+00:002017-01-17 22:41:00 +0000

From Frightened Rabbit to Richard Hawley. From 23rd to 29th of January, concert halls, cafes and rooms in the backs of/beneath/atop/astride pubs across the UK and Northern Ireland will be celebrating Independent Venue Week. Think of it as Record Store Day for venues. A celebration taking place across a week, all around the land, in places where you see gigs without those big neon O2CarlingNatwestBarclays signs beaming into your eye holes. It’s a chance to check out and support your local independent venue, many of whom will be showcasing the best local talent and a few shows will have special guests popping up to show their support. During Independent Venue Week DiS’ Editor (that’s me, hi!) will be going on a Vauxhall-sponsored roadtrip across the UK to visit some of the 140+ venues officially taking part in the week. On this adventure he’ll attempt to ascertain the health of nation’s touring circuit, to find out why some venues are so successful regardless of their location, and to gawp at legendary spaces whose names have become beacons of hope and excitement on the UK circuit for bands and fans alike. You can follow his week-long trip via posts on the site and keep up to date as it happens with photos, videos and probably some 1am ‘insight’ via DiS’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Before we begin listing some highlights of a week of gigs around the UK, here’s a quick word from our sponsor… src="" width="500" height="482" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true"> Vauxhall Motors is supporting Independent Venue Week 2017 for the third year in a row through the Vivaro on Tour project. The Vivaro On Tour campaign, supports up-and-coming British artists by offering them free use of a Brit-built Vivaro throughout the year, as they tour throughout the country. The Vivaro on Tour campaign has saved bands over £30,000 during 2016 and has travelled over 100,000 miles since the start. Learn more and find out how your band can get free use of the Vivaro On Tour van. DiS Picks of IVW17 Line-Up There are literally hundreds of gigs taking place across the UK during Independent Venue Week, and here are just a few that we hope to attend. THREE GREAT NEW BANDS IN BIRMINGHAM There’s Dead! who recently signed to Infectious (who released Muse, Garbage, Alt-J, etc) headlining and The Orcas opening, but it’s our editor’s favourite new discovery of 2016 that we’re most excited to see: False Advertising. These angular, grungy (post-emo?), Mancunians are led by force of nature Jen Hingley who’s not only their lead guitarist and singer but also spends the bulk of the show drumming too. Yes, that’s as thrilling to watch as it sounds. width="520" height="293" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> @SYD_Music presents @wearedeaduk on Thurs 26th Jan! Support from @falseadv and @OrcasOfficialUK☠️☠️☠️Tickets here:— The Sunflower Lounge (@Sunflowerlounge) January 16, 2017 ![104383]( [...]