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Updated: 2017-10-18T08:47:47+01:00


“Music should be universal – it should appeal to everyone”: DiS Meets Cigarettes After Sex

2017-10-18T08:47:47+01:002017-10-18 08:47:47 +0100

Greg Gonzalez gets deep into emotions and why humour is so important to relationships Slowcore wouldn't be the first genre that comes to mind when thinking of viral hits. Yet Cigarettes After Sex's crawling noir became an unlikely YouTube sensation when, two years after they initially posted 'Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby' to their channel in 2012, it started to be shared far and wide, resulting in millions of plays (it's now been viewed over 64 million times). It turned the fortunes around for what was then a struggling solo vehicle for Greg Gonzalez, the softly-spoken New Yorker originally from El Paso, Texas. Fast-forward to 2017 and Greg now has a full-time band, a critically acclaimed debut album, and a seemingly never-ending world tour to complete. At its heart, his debut captures desire, nostalgia, melancholy, and romanticism, bound together with Gonzalez' light, androgynous vocals, ambient arrangements, and transparent lyricism. While that might not sound like the most earth-shattering prospect, Gonzalez has carved a very large niche for himself; as his live shows demonstrate, the simplicity and honesty of this approach can go a long way to eliciting a powerful and divergent response from his audiences. In others words, Cigarettes After Sex will make you weepy, lustful, and nostalgic, all at the same time. That's exactly what he wants. src="" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> --- DiS: I saw your show at the Scala last year and one thing I remember is just how many people were having visible emotional reactions to the music. How does that feel when you see that every night? Greg Gonzalez: I think that's the best thing you can ask for as a musician. I think of the shows I went to which meant the world to me and usually, they would blow me away and make me extremely emotional. I had a severe reaction to many of them. So, to see that on the other side of it, either if they're making out or they're holding each other, crying or swaying, it's the best thing. Music should bring those things out of you. It should do something for you. At what shows did you have that type of reaction? I'm a big Dylan fan and his music came along at a really rough time for me. I really got into Blood On The Tracks and pretty much his whole discography and I saw him in 2012, or something around there. He played some of 'Simple Twist Of Fate' and once he played that, it was over for me; I was pretty much sobbing for the rest of the show. So that was a big one. I saw Leonard Cohen too and he played 'Bird On The Wire' and the same thing happened; it was so beautiful and brought a lot of emotions out of me. When you’re writing an album or planning a show, do you know what place you want to take the audience? Are you aiming to get them to that same super intense, emotional place? I think it's that thing where I'm relating back to the things that meant the most for me and I go, OK, if I'm going to make music, I'd rather make music that goes as deep as possible, and it's the most emotional that's the most powerful. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> There's quite a motley crew of people at your shows, from teenagers, music nerds, and pale ale drinking Dads who listen to 6Music... That's funny. [He says this in the most deadpan tone I think I've ever heard] ...Why do you think that is? It seems extremely diverse to me. When we play a show, all the different types of people I meet come from all walks of life. When I was growing up, I was listening to really huge artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna and I see it the same way. Music should be universal and should bring all these people together; it should appeal to everyone. It's cool because we see really young fans that identify with aspects of the music that they like – maybe it's sexy, mellow or calming – and then I meet older fans and they seem to like the same thing, or it re[...]

Life On Planet Eigg: DiS Meets Johnny Lynch

2017-10-18T08:32:52+01:002017-10-18 08:32:52 +0100

We had a chat all things Eigg related with the Lost Map Records founder and The Pictish Trail frontman Sitting out there in the mysterious land of the Hebrides, the Isle of Eigg is one of the UK's most intriguing islands. To date, Planet Eigg's population stands at just under 100 people, most of whom live there all year round. The 12 square miles of land is owned by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, who have managed it on behalf of the community since the community buyout back in 1997. This quirky little slice of Scotland has intrigued me for a while, and one day while sitting on the couch watching the One Show chomping down my dinner like a greedy toddler, there it stood in all its glory. I watched on and quickly realised the island is home to Lost Map Records, a label founded and run by The Pictish Trail's Johnny Lynch. It's also home to the biennial Howlin' Fling festival. Craving more information about life on Planet Eigg, DiS got in touch with Lynch, and he kindly agreed to answer a few questions about life on the island, his musical exploits, and why analogue really isn't all that. src="" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> --- DiS: Could you give us a bit of background into your HQ at Lost Map Records and why you chose The Isle of Eigg to set up shop? Johnny Lynch: I visited Eigg for the first time in April 2010, and in September that same year hosted a weekend music event. I’ve lived here ever since, pretty much; it’s an addictive place - very peaceful, with a welcoming and friendly community. Trying to make a living from making music can be a stressful thing at times, as it is for anyone self-employed in the arts I guess - you never know how you’re going to pay the next bill. Being in an idyllic location definitely helps balance the nerves. Before Eigg, I’d been living in a small fishing village on the east coast of Scotland, co-running a DIY label there with a friend. That label dissolved in 2013, and so I started a new one - Lost Map - running the whole thing from my caravan on the island. My partner and I have since built a house, and now I work from there - writing and recording my own music and helping others to release theirs. My close friend Kate runs the label with me, and she’s based down in Edinburgh, and we’ve got a wee team of people between there and Glasgow that works with us. Could you give us a rundown of the main pieces of equipment in your studio and explain how it all fits together? I don't really have that much stuff, to be honest. In the last five years, I’ve realised the limitations of my own recording technique and discovered that recording with other people is a lot more enjoyable. Nowadays, I tend just to record fragments of ideas at home, half-finished demos, using fairly basic equipment. When I'm on my own, I never use a laptop to record - partly out of fear of becoming sucked in by the endless possibilities that production software affords, but also out of sheer laziness. The Zoom R24 multitrack recorder is my main device - it’s very portable, light, and easy to use. People often scoff at the use of digital recorders, but I've made lots of stuff on that machine that has been played on radio, and remixes that have been pressed to vinyl, so the quality can be really good if you persist with it. The main thing for me is that it’s a quick and easy way of getting ideas down. I’ve got some KRK Rockit 6 monitors, and a few condenser mics. In terms of instruments, I have a Martin D28 acoustic guitar, some effects pedals, a 404-SX sampler, some Korg keyboards, a Casiotone MT-70, a Kaossilator Pro+ synth/drum machine, and a tambourine. Oh, and a shaky egg. Has Eigg's political and cultural history, geographical location, or unique landscape shaped your music in any way? It’s only when I look back on the music I've made here, and think about how it came together, that I recognise Eigg’s impact upon it. I don[...]

Bully - Losing

2017-10-17T17:48:43+01:002017-10-17 17:48:05 +0100

Retconning a slacker aesthetic and signing to Sub Pop isn’t enough to grant a pass Bully’s first record, Feels Like, although fairly generic and narrow in its focus, got by on the strength of its conviction. Its touchstones (Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Pixies, Breeders etc) were impeccably grafted together and, on songs like ‘Too Tough’ and ‘Brainfreeze’, the melodies were just distinct enough to suggest an identity. While that may sound like faint praise, the drudgery of the unwelcome avalanche of Nineties nostalgia meant the record stood out easily. With Losing, the challenge was always going to be one of growth. Bully can’t sell the same record twice and retain the conviction that carried them this far. Rather than build, however, Alicia Bognanno instead spends the entire LP trying to convince us she doesn’t give a shit, dragging a wall of dirt along the way. The melodicism of Feels Like struggles for air under the murk, and is regularly jettisoned in favour of Bognanno’s anguished howl. While that’s effective, the accompanying music doesn’t offer enough variety to distinguish one song from another without a strong melodic base. The best riffs are the same ones we’ve heard from Kim Gordon for the last 30 years, or any of her No Wave contemporaries. For example, pick any riff from UT’s Griller and play it back-to-back with one from Losing. Aside from the fact that they’ve arrived filtered through In Utero and Sleater-Kinney, there’s no difference. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> As the recurring thread that runs through the scenes and eras from which Bully draw, it’s too easy to chalk this up to Bognanno’s time with Steve Albini. Her skill behind the desk is entirely her own, and it’s never in doubt, but the songs simply aren’t strong enough to elevate it. The rage they’re trying to sell isn’t backed by anything other than apathy and bad rhyming schemes (“I want you either way / even though you can’t stay”). A quick glance out the window or at the TV is usually enough to convince anyone that the world is in a particularly ruinous state, and it’s infinitely more likely to produce better lines than ”you don’t like it when I’m angry / tough shit, learn to deal”. Retconning a slacker aesthetic and signing to Sub Pop isn’t enough to grant a pass. And for those who mocked Bognanno by comparing her voice to Tommy Pickles from Rugrats, there’s a lot of ammunition here. Only ‘Not the Way’ successfully turns the record’s Sonic Youth base camp into something wholly memorable, using jarring lead lines and elongated screams to offset a driving, precise rhythm. There are brief moments scattered elsewhere, like the Veruca Salt breakdown harmonies in ‘Running’, or when ‘Seeing It’ deftly throws in a detuned sludge riff to knock the whole thing off course, but unlike ‘Feels Like’, There’s no reason to listen to Losing over any of the records it cribs from. Or The Cribs, for that matter. And in the last two years, bands like Skating Polly and Hands Off Gretel have released much better albums than this, with the same raw materials. There’s nothing inherently bad about anything on Losing, but nothing’s going to stick around, either. It’s also not enough to say that those who don’t remember the Nineties are the record’s intended audience, so originality doesn’t matter as much. That’s insulting to both band and listener. The internet exists, after all. ”I am trying to stay focused”, Bognanno implores at one point. The results don't really reflect that effort. ![105175]( [...]

Circuit des Yeux - Reaching for Indigo

2017-10-17T17:40:30+01:002017-10-17 17:39:48 +0100

Reaching for Indigo epitomizes a rebirth for Chicago-based musician and composer Haley Fohr. Every day, I write a lot of words about music. Oftentimes, however, I’m struck with this intense discomfort – and yes, guilt too – at taking records apart and breaking them down. In hindsight, I sometimes feel dirty and voyeuristic about it. Yet still, I can’t help doing it time and time again. Like an intruder in this mysterious exotic world, I’m essentially using my words to taint and domesticate its space. But part of me yearns for some kind of revelation from music, to filter out feelings I have yet to articulate. A great record can draw out these big existential questions. The new Circuit des Yeux LP Reaching for Indigo, provides one answer at least; albeit a very personal, clandestine one to the woman behind the project, Chicago-based musician and composer Haley Fohr. Fohr – who ardently challenges the notion of a ‘confessional songwriter’ – vows only one thing on opening cut ‘Brainshift’: “I can only promise to take up space”. Throughout these eight tracks, she intuitively navigates within the dark and mysterious space of her psyche: an undomesticated, sometimes precarious landscape bustling with flora and fauna. With that rare quality of sounding both grand and plaintive, Fohr’s voice is accompanied by a prowling organ on ‘Brainshift’, as if scrutinising the terrain up on a hillside. This isn’t exactly a dainty Disney scenario, like an effigy of some ingenue frolicking her way across, breaking into song with anthropomorphic woodland creatures. An ominous horn resounds like a warning: this journey will be treacherous, one of Biblical proportions. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Fohr, a powerful baritone with four octave range, is a great singer: a torrential force which can potentially overtake anyone in the vicinity. Her singing embraces chaos as much as harmony, in similar vein of forebears Diamanda Galas, Scott Walker and Patty Waters. On ‘Black Fly’, surely one of the most majestic and arresting tracks put on record this year, she goes all-out. “Nobody said it was easy/But it was so easy”, she boasts, refusing to succumb like some victim to these crude, untamed emotions. Instead, in the first half of the song, restraint and harmonics are nourished. A lyric like “To stand alone/the breeze in my hair” could easily read like some tacky soundtrack of Pocahontas or Ferngully. The harmony of the song’s avant-folk leanings, however, is eventually met by a buzzing, crawling ecosystem of dissonant noises, something not unlike Werner Herzog’s colourful musing on the “obscenity” of the jungle. But nevertheless beautiful in all its lawlessness and abstraction, recalling Can’s equally opaque masterpiece ‘Sing Swan Song’. Indeed, there’s a better balance between the unruliness and deftness on Reaching for Indigo than predecessor In Plain Speech. Fohr’s pipes still burrow themselves across the earth with tectonic force, reaching for light. The wistfulness of her voice around 1:20 of ‘Black Fly’, combined with benign strands of acoustic guitar, simply oozes compassion and kindness.. A benevolent ‘reaching out’-moment, instead of shell-shocking the listener like only she can. ‘Black Fly’ is, in many ways, a testament to Fohr’s growth and self-awareness as a composer and songwriter. On Reaching for Indigo as a whole, the potency of her music is expressed as much by gentler means, using more calms to alleviate the listener from her customary emotional maelstroms. Last week Fohr streamed Reaching for Indigo prematurely on her own website, accompanied with a somewhat Delphic statement. She describes a strange experience overcoming her on January 22 this year. A potent surge of emotion and disarray overcame her from within, it affected her even physically. A transformative experience, s[...]

"We don't like to repeat ourselves": DiS Meets Mystery Jets

2017-10-17T13:51:57+01:002017-10-17 13:51:57 +0100

We spoke to the band near the end of their five-night Jetrospective residency at the Garage Since the early noughties, Mystery Jets have been a major player on the London music scene, forging ahead with their own distinctive brand of bright, cheery indie pop. In a similar vein, the band decided to play a celebratory residency at the Garage in Highbury, with all five albums played in full in the space of one week. Ahead of the final night of Jetrospective, DiS caught up with lead guitarist, William Rees, and the band’s most recent member, bassist Jack Flanagan, who joined in 2014, to discuss the concepts behind Jetrospective and how the band has changed in the 11 years since their debut album. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> --- DiS: How has Jetrospective been so far? William Rees: Every night’s had its different cast and characters in the crowd, I think because the music’s quite different, at the time they all attracted different audiences. So each night has had quite a different atmosphere and it’s really cool to witness that. It’s just nice to put the songs together again where they belong, where they were intended to be, because you don’t really ever get to do that. You make the record and then you never really play them as a whole so you don’t really know that people have appreciated it. Jack Flanagan: Everything apart from tonight I didn’t play on, so it’s been fun learning all of the songs. I went blind for four albums so I had to learn all four. It was quite easy, I was a big Jets fan when I was a kid so I already had them down. I’d already rehearsed them in my bedroom. I joined about four or five years ago but in Jets years, I joined quite recently. It’s been great and playing Curve Of The Earth tonight feels like a real celebration, as it’s an album that we’ve all played so many times. I’ve loved playing the others. How did the idea for Jetrospective come about? WR: It wasn’t originally our idea, it was our friend, Dan, he’s a promoter and he came up with the idea and propositioned us. At first we were a little bit like: “We don’t know if this is the right thing to do”, or wondered if it would give off the wrong signal to people that we might be calling it a day. And then the idea to call it Jetrospective appeared – we love a good pun – and as soon as that was out there, there was no turning back. It’s actually been great, it’s been a really healthy thing to do. JF: I think for the band as well, to write a new record and while we’re in between records, to play everything of the past and remind yourselves where you were five, ten, fifteen years ago, I don’t think many people get to do that and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. How do you think the music industry has changed since Mystery Jets was formed? WR: I would say it’s unrecognisable, it’s a completely different landscape now. When we emerged in 2005/6, it was like Britpop Part II. We had what the Brit Poppers had 10 years before us, it was exactly the same – people picking up guitars, like an indie renaissance. People formed bands and played in shitty little club nights, in central London, which is unheard of nowadays. It was an amazing period of creativity and people starting DIY labels and things like Drowned In Sound coming onto the scene, and many other things. Now there’s not a lot of that, really; I think the Internet and streaming have laid waste to a lot of it. Unfortunately being in a band has its expenses, and to make it work, for a lot of people, is very difficult. Also the world is completely different economically and politically; vast stretches of central London and Zone 1 just look like Tokyo or LA, and a lot of venues have gone. It feels like it could be anywhere. You walk down Tottenham Court Road now and you could be in fucking Singapore. But I feel like as a ba[...]

Miley Cyrus - Younger Now

2017-10-16T14:14:39+01:002017-10-16 14:12:25 +0100

A thumpingly disappointing and consistently milquetoast set of songs It is testament to Miley Cyrus’ sheer force of character that she has entered into this latest act in a recent career defined by shape-shifting with apparent seamlessness. As much as she is by no stretch of the imagination the first child star to adopt a deliberately risqué persona in order to put clear blue water between her adult self and her squeaky-clean past, Cyrus did it with an approach that was at best scattergun and at worst, gratuitous in its scandal-making - twerking on twice-her-age rape culture apologist Robin Thicke at the MTV VMAs, appearing nude in the video for ‘Wrecking Ball’ in a move she’s already voiced regret over, and developing a curious propensity for tongue protraction that Gene Simmons would be proud of. There was also her dalliance with The Flaming Lips, born of a friendship with Wayne Coyne and culminating in Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, an awkward 23-track tribute of sorts to the band that heavily featured its members and ultimately came across as a pretty hollow hodgepodge of all the things that Cyrus thought, superficially, ought to make a good Flaming Lips record, seemingly forgetting that their greatest abilities have always been in melody, atmosphere and production. Cyrus’ involvement with the group puzzled the alternative music world but, in truth, there didn’t seem to be any more to it than the explanation Coyne once gave when asked why the actress Heather Graham had been spotted at one of their shows: 'I guess because she takes a lot of drugs and listens to music - isn’t that how we get all our Flaming Lips fans?' width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Most artists who had removed themselves quite so dramatically from the family-friendliness with which they made their name probably would have been laughed out of the proverbial room if they’d released as their comeback single a love song as straightforward and bereft of anything potentially controversial as ‘Malibu’, as Cyrus did back in May. In the event, though, it was fairly well-received, and there was perhaps a sense that her genuinely impressive vocals had taken a back seat to the circus that the Bangerz era became. This was not least because flashes of it were starting to emerge again; her powerhouse take on ‘Silent Night’ was the highlight of Bill Murray’s admittedly rubbish Netflix special A Very Murray Christmas, and her appearance at June’s One Love Manchester concert went down well, too. Plus, the reversion to the country-pop climes of her earlier career on Younger Now should play to the strengths that she showcased in a series of YouTube cover videos in 2012, The Backyard Sessions, which demonstrated not just that her voice suits the likes of ‘Jolene’ and ‘Lilac Wine’, but in fact that she is obviously genuinely steeped in the country tradition. You wonder, incidentally, whether or not the fact that this particular genre is popular primarily with the more puritanical side of America’s population lent extra venom to the backlash when she left it behind to chase outrage. It is within this framework that Cyrus’ best work is likely to materialise in future. It is not, however, manifested in Younger Now. This is a thumpingly disappointing and consistently milquetoast set of songs riddled with lyrical banality, done-to-death melodies and wispily thin production. The old-timey guitars and record-player scratchiness that precede the opening title track are promising, if affected, but they quickly give way to garish chart-pop. There’s a decent folk-pop ode to separation anxiety buried somewhere within ‘Week Without You’, but you’d have to get past the clanging effects laid over the guitars and vocals first. On the back half of the record, Cyrus dramatically cedes ground to current pop trend[...]

Kamasi Washington - Harmony of Difference

2017-10-16T14:12:23+01:002017-10-16 14:12:16 +0100

If The Epic was a very large and rich meal then Harmony of Difference is a palate-cleansing sorbet Over the past few years it's felt like jazz had nothing to say, or was embarrassed to say it. Of course the Mercy Music Prize has always featured a jazz album, but this has always felt like a token entry at best. A way of saying, 'Hey we’re broadminded… and we like jazz to prove it!' This of course is false. Jazz has always been bubbling along, just below the mainstream, where it feels most comfortable, until and album was released in 2015 that changed all that. The album was Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Through its three discs ‘The Epic’ felt like it reinvigorated the genre and reminded us of the albums that made us love the genre in the first place. Sun Ra, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Burrell and a slew of Echo Records cohorts all felt like they had been mixed together and given a contemporary twist. And yes, it lived up to its title. After touring the world playing sold out venues and festivals, Washington is back with a new EP, Harmony of Difference’. With The Epic he let himself, and his band, run wild and the music was fearless, exciting, breath taking and we didn’t care if it got a bit lost at times as that was kind of the point. It was music for music’s sake and it was glorious to hear. This time he’s paired things down a bit, boiled the songs down to their bare bones and released an EP that is chocked full of catchy harmonies and delicate rhythms and comes in at just half an hour. Harmony of Difference was premiered as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art 2017 Biennial alongside a A.G. Rojas film. The film featured artwork by Washington’s sister Amani Washington, and focused on the inhabitants of South Central and East Los Angeles the beauty in their differences and how there is a harmony between them. For the project Amani created five paintings focusing on raw shapes and colours, each one based on a song, and then combined these paintings to create the sixth ‘Truth’. Individually they are striking and emotive, but combined they tell a totally different story, much like the EP itself. ‘Harmony of Difference’ explores the philosophical possibilities of counterpoint, the relationship between voices and instruments that are harmonically interdependent and independent in rhythm, which Washington describes as “The art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies”. This is evident on opening track ‘Desire’. Opening with delicate base before airy horns gently rustle from the speakers. It’s the melody that is the main event here and is repeated again and again until we’re unable to think of anything else. ‘Humility’ doesn’t mess about and pushes the main melody in our face and like ‘Desire’ doesn’t let us forget it. This is a classic big band sound, but by a musician that understands how and why it works, but manages to keep it fresh and fun for just under three minutes with wailing horn solos and slick piano work. The stand out moment of the EP is the closer ‘Truth’. Washington manages to combine and merge the previous five songs to one seamless slab of jazz majesty. At 13-and-a-half minutes long, ‘Truth’ hints that as an arranger, Washington is only starting to show what he can do. There are dense string sections, screeching solos and choral workouts that would made David Axelrod smile. Despite its gargantuan length ‘Truth’, like the whole EP, doesn’t drag and has an infectious pop sheen to it. But underpinning everything is a tender melancholy that feels like a musical McGuffin. All the way through the EP we are being reminded of the overall point, but Washington goes out of his way to try and make us forget this with incredibly catchy compositions. Thanks to ‘Truth’ being made up of the previous five songs there is a [...]

Korean Opportunities: DiS Does Zandari Festa 2017

2017-10-17T07:29:35+01:002017-10-16 14:00:00 +0100

DiS accompanied Eyre Llew and Crosa Rosa to Zandari Fest in South Korea. Here's what happened...

This is the story of two bands first visit to South East Asia. Or in one case, their first excursion outside of the UK. The two bands in question - Eyre Llew and Crosa Rosa - both hail from Nottingham, having also formed around the same time during the latter part of 2014. For both bands, the past couple of years has seen them steadily develop into two of the most accomplished outfits to emerge from the East Midlands increasingly vibrant music scene in a very long time. How they came to be in this part of the world can be put down to two distinct facets: lots of hard graft and being in the right place at the right time. Earlier this year, both played on the Drowned In Sound stage at May's Focus Wales, an event that's fast becoming the UK's most prestigious when it comes to showcasing new talent. While there, Seoul-based promoter Patrick Connor offered both slots at South Korea's Zandari Fest having been blown away by their performances in Wrexham. Having acquired sufficient funding from the lovely people at PRSand, in Crosa Rosa's case, Liverpool Sound City - Zandari Festa's UK partners in the festival market - both bands set about putting together their first tour of South Korea. Here's what happened...


Monday 18/09/17

9am pick-up for the airport. Lots of boring queue-based stuff that I wouldn’t wish on anyone (or want to bore you with). The flight back feels longer somehow and the films haven’t improved. Try to sleep. Can’t. We arrive in Manchester, head to the baggage carousel and are delighted to discover that this time THREE of our four flightcases haven’t arrived on the flight. Welcome home. (We’ve had them couriered to us since)

Overall, ace trip, ace people, ace sights and ace country. Can’t wait to go back!

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Bronze Mystic is out now via Blood & Biscuits. For more information on Gallops, please visit their Bandcamp page.


Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice

2017-10-13T21:02:05+01:002017-10-13 21:01:54 +0100

The sound of two good mates having a bloody good time When this reviewer interviewed Courtney Barnett at the absolute peak of her debut full-length’s success, in late 2015, she did not come across by any stretch of the imagination as a woman in a rush. Plenty of her contemporaries would have been anxious to strike while the iron was hot with a follow-up if they’d enjoyed the kind of halcyon year that the Australian did with Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, but instead, Barnett seemed happy to tend to her still-fledgling record label back in Melbourne, Milk, and se where the wind took her in terms of songwriting inspiration. As she said more than once in a nondescript dressing room at The Ritz in Manchester, where she’d been idling the pre-show afternoon away with a book and working her way through her rider’s Stella allowance, 'I’m an artist, man, not a machine'. Kurt Vile, then, seems like an ideal creative bedfellow, given that he has never worn the demeanour of a man unduly troubled by the passage of time. In fact, the languid, carefree pace of his records tends to belie their compositional complexity, in the same way that Barnett’s unhurried drawl is a far cry from the boisterousness that she and her band bring to the stage. Vile, too, put out his last full-length, b’lieve i’m goin down, in 2015, and has also been happy to dip into other projects since, popping up on The Sadies’ Northern Passages earlier this year. He and Barnett have been friends for a long time, ever since they toured together when Barnett was just starting out on the international stage, and she gushed to him about her love for his career highlight to date, 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Lotta Sea Lice apparently takes its name from an in-joke, one that has its origins in a story told by Warpaint drummer and Barnett’s compatriot Stella Mozgawa, who drums on the record and has toured with Vile; she’ll hit the road in support of this album, too, alongside an indie all-star cast that also, intriguingly, includes Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss - two drummers? That’s not something that Lotta Sea Lice’s arrangements seem to call for, so time will tell. Despite the fact that the songs were cut on Barnett’s home turf, it’s actually Vile’s instrumental influence that hangs heaviest over them. As clean and sharp as the production values are here, this is a record that sounds every inch as if it was conceived and constructed in a garage, with the sessions likely starting out with no ultimate goal in mind other than to jam and see what happened. You’d expect a certain melding of the two individuals’ skill sets here and largely, they blend nicely; the folky tone of the electric guitar is rooted in Vile’s work, but Barnett is a virtuoso player herself and on the woozy likes of midpoint standout ‘Outta the Woodwork’, it’s hard to tell who’s playing what - it’s his sound and her sensibility. On the lyrical front, meanwhile, the pair seem to have rubbed off on each other, and they frequently sing each other’s lines; Vile’s description of how “these days I plug ‘em up”, in reference to his tinnitus-ridden ears, sounds like the sort of casually charming observation you imagine Barnett scrawls on the back of napkins on the road. Vile himself, meanwhile, finds room for plenty of silliness on the irresistibly daft ‘Blue Cheese’. They seldom step on each other’s toes, and for the most part - the occasional clanger aside - their words sit handsomely side by side. Keith Richards always talks about what he calls 'the ancient art of guitar-weaving', the way he and Mick Taylor, and then Ron Wood, would complement each other in their playing. The writ[...]