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Updated: 2017-09-20T11:08:00+01:00

 



On Music Snobbery & The Perceived North/South Divide

2017-09-20T11:36:34+01:002017-09-20 11:08:00 +0100

Does the British music journalism elite consciously ignore guitar bands & those from the north? This week, The Sherlocks’ debut album Live for the Moment entered the UK Album Charts at No.6. Reflecting on the Sheffield four piece’s undoubtable achievement this week, Michael Hann in the Spectator argued that the Sherlocks are part of a wave of acts – alongside Blossoms and The Courteeners – that “might as well not exist” to “the self-appointed tastemakers of British pop”. In an article titled ‘The Music Snobby London Critics Love to Ignore’, Hann argued that a London dominated British music journalism elite is consciously ignoring British guitar acts because these bands are popular and from the North. The focus of the article was “the straightforward indie rock band who are hugely popular in the north – the north-west especially – but whose fame falls of a cliff the moment you get south of Birmingham”. “Not even despised” is Hann’s diagnosis of how the media responds to these bands, “just ignored”. The reality tells a different story. To put it bluntly – these are bands that do get attention. In the last week alone, you could turn on BBC2 and watch Blossoms performing at the Mercury Music Prize, where their self-titled debut album was nominated for that prestigious industry gong (nominated not by the public but by an elite of largely London based musicians and critics). The Saturday of the same week, you could pick up a copy of the Guardian and enjoy an in-depth live review by Dave Simpson of a Sherlocks concert. And was this gig in ‘snobby London’? No, it was at Newcastle Academy where Simpson declared that “the traditional indie rock band is alive and well’”. You may be unlikely to find a glowing review of the latest Courteeners album on a site like, say, the Quietus, but now that the Courteeners headline arenas and stadiums they’re subject to the same long-form interviews in publications such as Q or NME as their similar-sized contemporaries. There’s a case that the success of the Courteeners was overlooked – they emerged as interest was waning in British post-Libertines guitar music – but this has been largely redressed as they have got more successful. I look at the music press in Britain right now and struggle to share the Spectator’s assessment that daily arts newspapers and specialist music magazines are united in their ignorance of traditional guitar indie. Does So Young magazine really ignore guitar indie? Does Louder Than War? Similarly, these are band that get playlisted on national radio stations – Radio 1 and 6Music sometimes, but more frequently on stations such as Radio X. Korda Marshall of Infectious – the label that signed the Sherlocks – makes the point that it’s increasingly hard to break traditional acts, despite it being “real music” for “real fans”. “Real music” is a depressingly obviously trope that has in its sights anything that falls outside its narrow spectrum – coming loaded with assumptions about authenticity, pop, and gender. It others in an instant the majority of music fans in the UK who may not be interested in traditional guitar indie, but represent the lifeblood of the industry by going out to gigs, buying records, and reading online music sites. British music is at its worst when it looks like a heritage industry, and if young audiences are more taken by grime or modern pop then that’s just another example of pop music’s forward drive – just as night follows day, Merseybeat followed skiffle and house music followed disco. Nobody is saying that an artist has to push the envelope or be achingly contemporary to be relevant, but if music journalism has an inherent bias towards the new, the innovative, and an investigation of audience’s direction of travel, then this strikes me as a sign of rude health, not of lost focus. The Stone Roses are used as a reference point in the Spectator article – were they indie press darlings at the time because said press was more geographica[...]



Bestival 2017: the DiS review

2017-09-20T10:09:39+01:002017-09-20 10:09:39 +0100

Despite the rain, the party raged on For the first time in its 13-year-tenure as the UK’s official end of summer shindig, Bestival has crossed the Solent from the Isle of Wight to the grandiose antiquity of Dorset’s Lulworth Estate. To celebrate the move, Rob and Josie Da Bank secured a booking which represents a coup of dizzying proportions: A Tribe Called Quest’s final show. Ever. For those who remained as the mud thickened, the rain fell and apocalyptic winds blew, this was yet another weekend exhibition to prove that the Da Bank pair are some of the best, and most diverse, curators of music in the business. Bestival’s patch of the 20-mile Lulworth Estate, also home to Camp Bestival, has an eerie similarity to its former home at Robin Hill Park. Much of this uncanny likeness is of course a symptom of the stages that creative director Josie has been developing for years and have travelled with them. However, apart from the giant castle that towers at its epicentre, the space has such a similar quality to Robin Hill that by Saturday you could be forgiven for forgetting that you didn’t have to brave 5am ferries and hours’ worth of traffic in the congestion of the Isle of Wight. What is more apparent is a superior use of space. The Lawn; a subdued area to feast from a cacophony of global cuisines, the Colour Field; home to the new-look Temple stage and Cuckoo Clump; which begins with the wooden frame of the JagerHaus and ends at the beaming nylon façade of Happy Kanye, in particular, all have a distinct space within the sprawling ground and are broken apart by the natural lay of the land and the castle. Far more importantly, the sheer diversity of music on offer at Bestival has remained ever present. From the cold whisper of The xx to Mykki Blanco’s wild androgyny via Fat Man Scoop, Jamie T, L.A Salami and The Pet Shop Boys, to name but a paltry handful, the feast of heritage, burgeoning and staple acts that are on show are a testament to the acuity of Rob Da Bank’s chimerical ear. At the crest of the weekend line up towers A Tribe Called Quest, who confirmed that they would be ending their 27-year-run at their Saturday headline show. Still grieving the loss of Phife Dawg, who died in 2016, and still riding the wave of last year’s seminal We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, the incomparable collective that helped shape hip hop’s purple patch in the Nineties delivered a blistering farewell. Joined on the mic by Busta Rhymes, Q Tip sprung around the stage and off of it with fierce energy and charisma. The set was largely filled with tracks from the Tribe’s politically charged latest LP, as expected, which culminated in a deafening chant of "We the people, we are equal". Peppered throughout were classics ‘Check The Rhime’, ‘Buggin Out’, ‘Butter’ (sang acapella by the spectral voice of Phife from behind his giant LED visage at the back of the stage) and ‘Can I Kick It?’ which provided the best singalong opportunity of the evening. The second major heritage act were Sunday headliners Pet Shop Boys. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe strutted around the stage sporting outlandish metal helmets in what transpired to be a confident set filled with multiple costume changes, but lacking the barrage of classics from the get go that you might expect. Considering that the vast majority of attendees are in their 20s and may only know the hits, the set was a slightly bemusing affair. Starting off at a glacial pace, it percolated to it’s peak when they finally broke out into ‘West End Girls’, ‘It’s a Sin’ and some big covers; Happy Kanye and the castle beaming colour down on the field. Another of the main stage’s outstanding highlights was the return of the UK rap innovator Dizzee Rascal, freshly invigorated from the success of his latest LP Raskit; a record that quite clearly sees him searching for his former self. The Saturday support set reflected this abandoning of EDM in favour of his early material. There were smatterings [...]



The Killers - Wonderful Wonderful

2017-09-20T10:01:36+01:002017-09-20 09:58:18 +0100

It’s an album with an admirable sense of ambition and innovation 'They say you play the John Peel Stage twice in your career, once on the way up and once on the way down'. That was how Brandon Flowers (albeit jokingly) summarised The Killer’s current trajectory during their hugely successful secret set at Glastonbury earlier this year. A couple of weeks later, they were the only act to sell out their BST Hyde Park concert; it was a hell of a party. Their 14-arena UK tour in November sold out almost immediately. This all suggests that Flowers’ humility was fairly wide of the mark: The Killers remain one of the best live acts going, and rightly so, able to fill sets with wall-to-wall hits. But their sustained popularity is curious, given that their albums have seen diminishing returns commercially and critically ever since Hot Fuss. In fact, one could argue that their 2013 compilation album Direct Hits is their strongest release since that 2004 debut, purloining the singles and doing away with the album fillers that have characterised at least their most recent two records. So after a five year break, without anyone vociferously yearning for a new release, the perpetually leather (and feather) jacketed rockers from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, are back. width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w3xcybdis1k" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> From the opening smokey trumpet of Wonderful Wonderful, it is clear that the band is same same but different. The production throughout remains sparklingly polished, and no stop goes unpulled (Woody Harrelson is even inexplicably present for a spoken intro to ‘The Calling’). The services of Jacknife Lee have been recruited, and there is more than a passing similarity in the titular track to his most famous charges, U2. But the difference lies in their sound, which creates a threatening landscape through Mark Stoermer’s constantly lurking bass. It is followed by lead single, ‘The Man’, which catapults us into an entirely different direction into strutting disco. It is shamelessly, absurdly camp, but also somehow brilliantly entertaining. Flowers uses falsetto, shimmering synths, dense backing vocals, even a key change: this is Blitzkrieg Pop. The other main single, ‘Run For Cover’ makes a welcome returns to The Killers' musical roots, focusing on their failsafe strengths of guitar riffs and a relentless pace. Whether it is the full-throttled delivery or the catchy hooks, the song makes you excuse the at times laughably clunky lyrics (“What have gathered to your progenitors/Are your excuses any better than your senator’s?”; “What are you waiting for, a kiss or an apology?/You think by now you’d have an A in toxicology”; even a reference to “Fake News”) – nobody will mind while singing along at a packed concert. width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XO7JGfqPB0s" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> But we knew that a new album would have a couple of hits to freshen up their live repertoire. The opening four tracks of the top-heavy Battleborn provided exactly this, before the wheels spectacularly fell off in the record’s forgettable second half. Musically, the album avoids such stagnation by playing around with different genres throughout, from the soothing dreampop of standout ‘Some Kind of Love’ to the rough electric snarl of ‘The Calling’. And rather than sticking to their faux-Americana tropes of turnpikes and dirt-tracks, apart from one self-aware reference to Springsteen, the lyrics look inwards to explore more interesting areas. The sentimental crux of the album is ‘The Rut’, which, with all its mellow vulnerability, is cleverly juxtaposed after the cocksure swagger of ‘The Man’. Written as a heartfelt symbol of support documenting his wife’s PTSD and his own struggle in trying to support her (“I’ve done my best defending but the punches are starting to land/I’m sliding into something you won’t understand[...]



"Some of our biggest hits are my least favourite songs": DiS Meets Feeder

2017-09-20T09:54:01+01:002017-09-20 09:54:01 +0100

DiS caught up with Feeder's Grant Nicholas to talk about the band's legacy, longevity and future. Feeder celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band this year having initially formed in 1992. Since releasing debut EP Swim, they've put out nine albums and forty singles and are rightly considered as something of a British institution as far as rock music is concerned. Next week (Friday 29th September) they release a Best Of containing 41 of their best-known songs along with a bonus mini-album Arrow which features 9 brand new previously unreleased compositions. DiS caught up with singer, songwriter and guitarist Grant Nicholas recently in North London to talk about the band's legacy, longevity and future. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3wzqGI_4fIM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> --- DiS: Feeder celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band this year. Does it feel like a quarter of a century to you? Grant Nicholas: It's flown by! The only real time out was when I was doing the solo stuff. Even then there were never any plans to stop doing Feeder. I'd been doing some writing and just needed to take a little bit of time out to think about the next plan. It wasn't stale but I felt we needed to have a little break. So that became a solo record and because I didn't want it to be something I didn't have a passion for as I'd put a lot of time and energy into it, there ended up being a mini album afterwards. It took up a lot of time. Almost three years. I hadn't planned to take that long off. It was just the way things worked out. The last four records from 2008's Silent Cry onwards have been really well received by the music press, whereas previously it's probably fair to say Feeder enjoyed something of a love/hate relationship with critics. Why do you think that is? I don't know. Maybe it's just timing? I was talking about Tom Petty earlier. I remember mentioning his name to certain publications back in the nineties and I'd get a muted response because it wasn't a very cool name to drop at the time. I've always thought he was an amazing songwriter and listened to a lot of his stuff. Now he's regarded as the coolest thing ever! Things change. Sometimes the timing is better. Maybe there's a bit of respect we're still doing this? We've always worked hard as a band and been consistent with our output. It isn't always about being hyped by the press because it certainly wasn't for us. Some got it but others really didn't like us at all. Do you think a lot of it was down to being around at the time of Britpop and making music that completely went against the zeitgeist at the time? Massively that. Also, I think another reason was we got picked up by Kerrang! and Metal Hammer. NME are not gonna jump on a band who are suddenly deemed credible by the rock press. Funnily enough, Melody Maker also really liked us back then. They put us on the front cover, so I guess the NME saw that as competition. Then sadly Melody Maker folded so we lost the only indie press that were championing us. The good thing about the rock press is they're more loyal. It wasn't just about hype. There were some great Britpop bands around. We didn't necessarily fit into that but we were playing with a lot of them at the time. We had no choice. We'd be on the same bill as people like These Animal Men and SMASH at the Barfly or Water Rats so I think people associated us with that back then. Also, our name was similar to some of the bands from that era like Sleeper for instance. Even though we never really fitted into that we still managed to gain new fans by playing with those bands. Each time we played the audiences would grow in number to the point where A&R guys were turning up. There are a few bands doing that now. People like The Hunna doing their own thing organically. It's just the way it worked out for us, because we were really loud and heavy compared to most of the bands around back then. I remember Chris Sheldon who[...]



Phoebe Bridgers - Stranger in the Alps

2017-09-20T09:45:09+01:002017-09-20 09:44:43 +0100

It feels special in an intangible way ‘Smoke Signals’, the first song on 22-year-old LA singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album, is a gorgeous piece of music. It is sad and ruminative yet comforting, too; sharp and specific in its allusions yet universal regards its central theme, of human connection blurred by distance, time, chaos and memory. Upon its release in January of this year it marked Bridgers' coming into her own, striking out powerfully with something unique that absolutely fulfilled the promise of her earlier material, beautifully setting the tone for Stranger in the Alps. (Said material saw her dabble in various styles, from indie-rock power-balladeering to more straightforward confessional fare, and the results - also encompassing a 7” produced by Ryan Adams and released on his PAX-AM label, two songs from which are repurposed here - remain very fine in their own right.) width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vAKg267JgBE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> But Stranger… is where it all comes together, a bracing, intimate listen, more often than not deriving its impact from an admirable sense of restraint. Bridgers is blessed with a set of vocal cords capable of bringing the house down, yet she rarely does so. There’s a moment towards the end of the shimmering, infectious ’Motion Sickness’ that ramps up the volume - likewise in ‘Georgia’, one of Bridgers’ earlier compositions - but for the most part this set revels in subtle electronic flourishes, keys, chiming guitars and gentle reverb that prop up Bridgers’ gift for melody and memorable images. A bright, autumnal melancholy suffuses the Neil Young-ish shuffle of ‘Scott Street’, the song eventually breaking into a sun-dappled outro wherein Bridgers puts a cap on an awkward reunion via the repeated lyric “Anyway, don’t be a stranger,” and even the desperation underlying ‘Demi Moore’ (jokingly christened ‘The Sexting Song’ by the singer and actually named for a misheard lyric) is leavened by Bridgers’ closing proclamation that she has “a good feeling” - albeit one she’s quick to note “doesn’t happen very often.” ‘Funeral’ is of a piece with the matter-of-fact, stream-of-consciousness style Mark Kozelek has deployed so frequently of late, while Conor Oberst duets on penultimate tune ‘Would You Rather’, his increasingly reedy, craggy presence coalescing perfectly with Bridgers’ hushed, softer tones. Now something of an elder statesman on the scene, Oberst, alongside Ryan Adams, has been a vocal supporter of the singer for a while now, and Bridgers makes no secret of her love for folk music and singers like Kozelek and Elliott Smith (named as a major formative influence). She has toured and become friends with Julien Baker, another singer who mines heartbreak, youth and identity crises in her music, the pair fashioning introspection into something galvanising and direct as opposed to self-pitying or maudlin, in much the same way as Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley and the rest of Oberst’s erstwhile Saddle Creek cohorts did some 15 years ago - and acts like Waxahatchee, Hop Along and Big Thief do so today. width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9sfYpolGCu8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Bridgers closes proceedings with a cover of Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle’s ‘You Missed My Heart’, from their tremendous 2013 collaborative LP Perils from the Sea. A sordid fever dream of violence and assault that wrestles beauty and profundity from its bleak narrative, the song finds the Sun Kil Moon man at the peak of his storytelling powers. Bridgers’ version is remarkable: she makes very few changes, slowing down the melody and substituting the original’s brittle electronica for lambent keys and backing vocals, but the tenderness with which her delivery imbues Kozelek’s verses makes it something genuine[...]



Liverpool Psych Fest 2017: The DiS Preview

2017-09-20T09:30:05+01:002017-09-20 09:30:05 +0100

DiS heads to Liverpool this weekend for the 6th International Festival of Psychedelia The International Festival of Psychedelia or Liverpool Psych Fest as its come to be known returns to the city this weekend. Now in its sixth year, the 2017 edition will see over 80 artists perform over the course of its two days. Taking place on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September across four stages - Furnace, Camp, Blade Factory, and District - alongside numerous other features such as the Pzyk Colony's late-night installation Furnace 2.0, The Pzyk Cinema's 'Psychedelia In Film', and Saturday afternoon's [Musings In Drone] chatshow programme including Drowned In Sound in conversation with headliners The Black Angels. Having once again curated a stellar line-up, here are the 10 acts we're most excited about seeing. --- A Place To Bury Strangers (Saturday 23rd. Furnace. 2020) This Brooklyn trio have been pushing sonic boundaries for over a decade now having formed back in 2003. Essentially the brainchild of Oliver Ackermann who also makes effects pedals under the moniker Death By Audio, A Place To Bury Strangers fourth and most recent long player Transfixiation came out in 2015 and while they've been relatively quiet on the recording front recently, their live show is still one of the most captivating on the planet today. Currently on tour with The Black Angels, their first visit to Liverpool Psych Fest is already one of the most eagerly anticipated sets in the festival's history. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D7iG_s4PJM8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> CaStLeS (Saturday 23rd. District. 1615) This Welsh trio fuse all manners of styles and genres into their mind-melting sonic frenzy. Expect an amalgamation of krautrock, abstract folk, math rock and tripped out psychedelia that's drawn comparisons with Can, Super Furry Animals, and Don Caballero among others. Debut album Fforesteering came out last year to a wave of critical acclaim while their largely improvised live set is a joy to behold in itself. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/PHzEEvaZsso" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Krautwerk (Saturday 23rd. Pryzm + Cinema. 0000) Harald Grosskopf and Eberhard Kranemann can count Kraftwerk, Ash Ra Tempel, and Neu! among the bands they've played with individually but until last year, they'd never actually performed together. Having met at a festival last year they decided to collaborate on an album Krautwerk, which came out earlier this summer. Their midnight set on Saturday promises to be a highlight of the weekend not to mention providing a rare opportunity to see two genuine musical innovators at work. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_jY-VnXQWfM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Magic Shoppe (Friday 22nd. Blade Factory. 1710) This Boston outfit have been creating tripped out aural blizzards since hitting the ground running in 2010 with the excellent Reverb EP. Veering between classic mid-sixties psychedelia and the garage inspired paisley sound of bands like The Long Ryders and The Othermothers two decades later, their long-awaited debut at Liverpool Psych Fest is not to be missed. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-M8YwKocqyE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Mass Datura (Friday 22nd. Blade Factory. 1600) This London-based five-piece have been gaining a reputation as one of the most original bands to emerge from the UK psychedelic scene since forming in 2014. Debut long player Sentimental Meltdown comes out next month while in the meantime, they've bagged a couple of support slots with The Black Angels and White Manna into the bargain. Make sure you arrive early Friday to see what all the fuss is about. We guarantee you won't be disappointed. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MreL46fcEaw" frameborder="0" allowfu[...]



Prophets of Rage - Prophets of Rage

2017-09-19T21:57:55+01:002017-09-19 21:56:21 +0100

The slogans feel thin, but the music itself is substantive When three-quarters of Rage Against The Machine announced they were uniting with Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Cypress Hill’s B-Real as Prophets of Rage most rock fans had the same reaction: 'Well that’s fucking cool'. It is cool, isn’t it? Comfortably the most successful political agitators in alt-rock meeting the fury of early hip-hop’s most righteous MC is a meaty enough idea. Adding in B-Real – no stranger to slick couplets and serious activism himself – is another layer of cool (along for the ride is late-period PE turntablist DJ Lord, although, being absolutely honest, it’s not massively clear what he’s contributing outside of the live show. But still... cool.) A quickly gained (although, let’s face it, absolutely predicted) reputation as an incredible live act and the announcement that RATM/Audioslave producer Brendan O’Brien would be helming a debut album was cooler still. This seemed to be about more than ‘cool’ though. Guitarist Tom Morello didn’t put the outfit together to drag a new twist on ‘Killing In The Name’ around the festival circuit. The very existence of this band is a political act, born before Trump’s election and driven by the fury he generates. Morello described the band to Rolling Stone as 'an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit’. That’s not just cool, it’s exciting. Even necessary. And while you might question whether six wealthy rock/hip-hop stars in their forties and fifties can produce a work vital enough inspire people to 'unfuck the world', you can’t fault them for trying. width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jc3waP7syjk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Whether the rap-rock super-group’s debut passses its 'audition to be the soundtrack for the resistance' (Morello again) remains to be seen, but it feels unlikely. Most audiences hearing Prophets of Rage won’t be inspired in the same way fans of their composite groups were, way back then. RATM, for all their Lollapalooza crossover-appeal, lit a fire with their debut; Public Enemy, even more so. All three bands were unique, unforeseen detonations of their time. Sadly 25 years on from Rage Against The Machine, and nearly 30 from It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back those messages have been weakened by repetition. We KNOW the RATM trio want to smash the system, we know Chuck hates the police and B-Real wants to legalize weed. Even against a backdrop of politicised social activism, this stuff feels like predictable sloganeering, and while fans of all three acts will lap that up; with the best will in the world it’s preaching to the converted. And that’s without getting into the whole subject of a band that charge £50 for a gig ticket and £20 for a fucking baseball cap on their website, encouraging us to kick against the system. If you separate the ideology from the artefact, then there’s plenty to enjoy here. Prophets Of Rage is never more than the sum of its parts, but that’s okay when those parts function as well as this. The core backline of Morello, bass player Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk have unassailable chemistry as a rhythm section, kicking out head-nodding jams one after another. While ‘Legalize Me’ and ‘Take Me Higher’ fall on the wrong side of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, ‘Radical Eyes’, ‘Unfuck The World’ and ‘Hands Up’ are fist-in-the-air smashers that would musically have sat comfortably on any RATM record. B-Real’s flow is a seamless fit and contrasts nicely with Chuck’s bulldozer approach. The pair make an unlikely but effective foil for each other. It works, So yes, the message feels less than vital at a time when vitality is so needed, and no, there will be no revolution off the back of the subversive[...]



Annie Hart - Impossible Accomplice

2017-09-19T21:48:12+01:002017-09-19 21:47:27 +0100

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A perfectly charming piece of work

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Welcome though Au Revoir Simone’s evolution from bedroom electro twee to eyebrow archingly sophisticated electro pop was, Annie Hart’s debut feels like a hug from an old friend. Right from its dusty pink opening synth chord, Impossible Accomplice at feels familiarly sweet.

And that’s not to say this is unsophisticated, mind, as Hart’s synth mastery comes as no surprise. The album she has created is one of beautiful, dreamy space coloured with soft, floating riffs, each one delicately placed, carefully so as to look effortless, with a sense of 'of course that sound belongs here'.

width="540" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/qMza1y1dD98" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>

The minimalism of Impossible Accomplice suits Hart well, her voice too sounding understated and giving the emotions she’s expressing a muted, unsure feel. As though she’s shy about telling the listener what she wants us to know. That apparent shyness with which she sings such declaratory statements as “I don’t want your love anymore”, “my heart’s been broken” and “don’t give me love cos I deserve more”, that cautious almost-uncertainty, feels hugely relatable in its contradiction - the insecurity that comes with treating your big-deal feelings as a big deal as a woman feels captured perfectly in her pained yet muted vocal delivery.

There are moments, though, where the album’s delicate balance of minimalism isn’t quite achieved and a song will feel like too much of one thing or not enough of another. While penultimate track ‘I’ve Been Seeing You In My Dreams’ holds up perfectly well without any drum beat on its own and would’ve been a perfect closing track, actual closer ‘Would You Answer’ has a far cutesier riff, and in following the penultimate track with another drumless one, the latter totally lacking in atmosphere, this otherwise perfectly engaging album loses its intrigue. Earlier, too, the declaratory chorus of ‘Run To You’ feels a bit much, with no harmonic tension and a lyrical hook with imagery too cliché to seem sincere.

Mostly though, Impossible Accomplice is a perfectly charming piece of work. Hart excels at using the subtleties of relatively simple ideas to create wonderfully vibrant sounds, and this album is full of her doing just that. She paints the sounds she creates with a gorgeous lightness of touch so that the emotions they colour - be they pain, desire, loss or simple joy - feel careful and considered, yet light and airy. The album as a whole, while not enormously captivating, is totally enjoyable.

![105112](http://dis.resized.images.s3.amazonaws.com/540x310/105112.jpeg)



A Little Older, A Little Wiser: DiS Meets Mac DeMarco

2017-09-19T07:56:53+01:002017-09-19 07:56:53 +0100

Indie rock’s biggest character tackles aging, apathy, and the face of WWE “I met John Cena the other day. That was weird.” It is weird. It's also weird that Mac DeMarco is now technically moving in the same circles as WWE superstars. They crossed paths on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where both were invited guests; DeMarco to play ‘One More Love Song’ from his latest album, and Cena to plug the second season of his reality show, American Grit. The idea of DeMarco appearing on the world’s longest-running talk show remains almost as patently absurd now as it would have been when the Canadian was a teenager working in road construction in his native Edmonton (his nickname on the crew was ‘Lil Bitch’), or when he made his first forays into music back in 2009, ingratiating himself into Vancouver’s underground scene and playing live shows that outraged public decency as a matter of routine. width="540" height="304" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eHRxaATvzZk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Even when his career began to take off, after he signed with hallowed Brooklyn label Captured Tracks in time for 2012’s deeply weird debut EP Rock And Roll Night Club, this was not a man anybody was looking at and thinking: “Matter of time before this guy’s on an A-list chat show”. That same year’s first full-length proper, 2, offered plenty of ramshackle charm as well as indications of a preternatural grasp of melody, but no obvious indication that this was a star in the making. The record that launched DeMarco to that level, Salad Days, was recorded in a tiny bedroom with little more than rudimentary gear, a limitless flow of cigarettes and an attitude to timekeeping that did not allow for perfectionism; he laid down the final drum track with minutes to spare before he left for the airport to begin the album’s tour. By the time he followed it up in 2015 with a profoundly sad collection of love songs, Another One, he had cemented his status as one of indie rock’s leading lights, but remained entirely grounded, living in a decidedly serviceable house by the water in what you might charitably describe as one of New York City’s less bijou neighbourhoods. Famously, he gave out the address at Another One’s conclusion, along with an invitation to listeners to stop by for coffee. If the dedication of DeMarco’s young fans, many of whom present as mini-me versions of him at his concerts with their staunch adherence to his unrefined dress code, was somehow still lost on him when he made that decision, it wouldn’t have been a few months later: hundreds took him up on his offer. That is not the sort of humble behaviour you’d readily associate with a musician at this height of success and the fact that he’s managed to maintain it whilst still ticking off the kind of career milestones most only dream of – selling out two nights at Brixton Academy back in May, and headlining both New York City’s Radio City Music Hall and California’s Greek Theater this month – suggests that it never was a persona or a put-on. DeMarco is the genuine article and an absolute character – quite right that he’s on national television and shooting the shit with the walking embodiment of hustle, loyalty, and respect. Who, by the way, is apparently one of the good guys. “Cena was really cool. A very nice guy,” DeMarco concludes from his Los Angeles home, to which he’s just returned after a European tour. “We did Conan O’Brien a couple of years ago, so I went into this one thinking: ‘No problem, been here before, all gonna be OK.’ And then you get to the green room, and you’re watching the show happen on the screen as it’s being taped, and you remember that there’s this weird weight to bands playing late night TV – The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, or Zevon o[...]



Weathering The Storm: DiS Does Haven Festivalen

2017-09-19T09:07:45+01:002017-09-19 07:51:00 +0100

A five-star curated event that surely has a bright future It’s been a tough year for festivals. Aside from the fiascos at Y Not and Hope & Glory, who can forget the schadenfreude of watching the disaster that was Fyre Festival – “first class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere” – unfold on social media? Add sluggish sales for all but a handful of marquee events to the sense that the market for summer musical events is well past saturation point, and it’s a surprise that anyone would want to start a new one. To paraphrase an old joke: How do you make a small fortune from a festival? Start with a large one. But then Haven Festivalen is no ordinary event. The founding ethos is to “merge experiments in art, music, food, and beer”, and for a start, they have world-renowned experts in charge; The National’s Dessner brothers for music, Noma co-founder Claus Meyer for food, and Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a cult figure in craft brewing circles, for drinks. Their idea is brilliantly simple (if devilishly difficult to pull off) – five-star food & drinks in a repurposed industrial setting, overlooking the city and the harbor, while some of the most iconic bands and artists do their thing. The choices are certainly bewildering; as well as a dedicated stout bar, I count over 25 different types of ale and IPA available, alongside all manner of wines, spirits, and soft drinks. One food stall is roasting an entire pig over an open pit, while another has a portable, wood-fired clay oven to make huge, sourdough calzone. There’s ramen, fresh fish, tacos, barbecue, Indian curries, fusion hotdogs – don’t ask – paella, and falafel. Some genuinely world-class chefs, such as Guy Rawlings, Johnny Spero, and Sergi de Meia, have brought a signature dish to Haven, and there’s not one but two coffee stalls, both roasting beans and fermenting kombucha on-site. None of this is particularly cheap of course, but then nothing is in Denmark. In fact, for what you get, it’s remarkably good value; nothing is less than delicious, and despite a shortage of proper places to sit and eat, and some lengthy, early evening queues, there are few issues, proving it’s not that difficult to offer proper alternatives to bland, greasy fare and weak, warm “lager”. Supping a smoked porter and munching slow-roasted, Texas BBQ ribs while watching Band Of Horses run through the grandiose, heart-on-sleeve pomp of ‘The Funeral’ provides one of many moments of genuine satisfaction that even an early Autumnal chill and intermittent drizzle can’t spoil. Despite being labeled as miserabilists, there’s something euphoric about The National, particularly live. Their songs seem to soar even higher than on record, possessed of an extra friction that burns away the melancholy. Perhaps it’s the way they concoct such grand, sweeping songs about intimate details and quiet moments that connect in such a universal way, or just the looser nature of new album Sleep Well Beast, allowing each member to musically stretch their legs a little more. And then there’s Matt Berninger, a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. He shuffles instead of struts, at times looking positively morose, and despite being elegantly dressed in fashionably dark shades of black and grey, looks like a slightly confused, ageing professor. His drink – a pint of white wine on the rocks that he refers to as “Cincinnati sangria” – is frequently tossed into the crowd; each time, a new one magically appears by his side a few seconds later. They’re on good form, and while the highs – ‘England’, ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, ‘Fake Empire’ – are stunning, there’s a sense that they can’t quite slip into top gear. It’s not helped by a middle section that turns into an extended [...]