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Updated: 2018-01-17T12:10:37+00:00


“It’s Basically Always Beer Time”: DiS Meets Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?

2018-01-17T12:10:37+00:002018-01-17 12:10:37 +0000

We talk beer, politics, and, of course, Jane Fonda with the madcap Finnish trio When you acquaint yourself with Finnish rabble-rousers Have You Ever See The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?, two things immediately come to mind. One, why didn’t I bring a beer?, and two, why didn’t I read up on Jane Fonda? You wouldn’t suspect that a working knowledge of the latter would be required in a modest band interview, given the trio’s absurdist tendencies in their carnival-ready, synth-powered garage rock. With a new album called Jazzbelle 1984-1988 that entails grandmas fighting He-Man and folks donning “magic swimming pants”, the term “Jane Fonda aerobic VHS” reads like just another surreal nugget in Have You Ever’s bottomless swag bag. And indeed, whenever asked about certain phrases or passages from the album, songwriter Ekku Lintunen merely shrugs. “Why the hell not?” seems to be his philosophy on nearly everything – writing, talking, drinking. However, for all their devil-may-care attitude, the band harbor’s tenacious devotions to the matters that concern them most. Lintunen and his stoic drummer Janne-Petteri Pitkälä built their unswerving love for rock and roll together since they were 11-year-olds; bassist and singer Susse Stemma-Sihvola switched nimbly from guitar to bass to complete the mighty power trio. And while their collective adoration for the American underground flares in abundance on Jazzbelle, our 45-minute conversation reveals other surprising passions, such as local politics, Scottish accents, and – you guessed it! – Jane Fonda. I meet Have You Ever on their couch, in their tiny but storied hometown of Kouvala, from my usual card table HQ in Atlanta. After a few stiff and uninspired questions on my part, and a few choice chugs of their favorite cheap beer on their end, our chat really takes off once Lintunen starts asking me about my adopted city. We break often into fits of giggles – perhaps because we’re both hacking through each other’s English and Skype’s mangled sound quality, but also because Have You Ever enjoy a good hang as much as anyone. By the end, we’ve sworn silly promises to each other – a) that the band will share their fine alcohol with me if they should ever fly to the States, and b) that, if I do ever encounter the mythical Fonda, I’ll certainly pass their heartfelt greetings on. --- DIS: Tell me more about your hometown of Kouvala – it’s described as a small town, but one that has a very communal vibe. Plenty of small towns don’t have a scene at all! Ekku Lintunen: There are two things [about Kouvala]: lots of great rock and roll bands, and athletes. We have an ice hockey team, a basketball team, and this Finnish baseball, called pesäpallo. We’re in the major leagues. Those are the two things that Janne and I used to play: we played ice hockey, and at the same time we liked rock music. So that’s two things that Kouvalian people are keen on. Ah. Gotcha. That explains the cover of Teenage Sweetheart [their debut album]. EL: Yes. That was also our first release, so we’re all dressed up with our NHL jerseys and hockey sticks and everything. Right, so obviously I wanted to talk about the new album – it’s still fun and exciting like the last one, but there’s lots of sweetness and bitterness, too. I’m thinking especially of songs like ‘Corazone’. width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=""> EL: Yeah, that was a love letter to Janne. Susse and me were in our rehearsal space, making demos of our new songs, and Janne at that time was in Spain. Susse Stemma-Sihvola: Four weeks. He spent four weeks in Spain, and we missed him! It was a song for him. Tell me how this artwork came about – it’s this very surreal image, that looks like a pastiche of your songs[...]

Shopping - The Official Body

2018-01-16T11:59:25+00:002018-01-16 11:58:45 +0000

The sound of a band pushing themselves forward towards a wider scope of themselves For over five years, Shopping have quietly been one of the UK’s most vital bands. Deeply involved in the queer/DIY-punk scene in London (and now, also Glasgow, where drummer Andrew Milk now takes residence) their brand of ESG-inspired post-punk their consistently solid output over two albums - 2013’s excellent Consumer Complaints and 2015 follow-up Why Choose? - saw them rewarded with a deal with FatCat Records and a tour of the US. Ironically, it is lead guitarist/vocalist Rachel Aggs’ other band, the (mostly) Glasgow-based Sacred Paws, that has finally seen some wider acknowledgement to her talent as a songwriter and guitarist, as a thoroughly deserving winner for last year’s Scottish Album of the Year Award for Strike a Match. So Shopping’s third set, The Official Body, is their first since Aggs’ success and as a result could well be the band’s defining moment. Recording with the legendary Edwyn Collins in his studio in the Highlands certainly doesn’t hurt, but The Official Body is the sound of a band pushing themselves forward towards a wider scope of themselves. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> While the album’s lead singles and one-two openers ‘The Hype’ and ‘Wild Child’ may seem like standard fare for anyone who’s heard the band before, there’s renewed energy to their sound that perhaps waned slightly on their second album Why Choose?. Both are driven on Milk and bassist Billy Easter’s funk-punk grooves, Aggs’ melodic guitar-lines and a back-and-forth vocal line, there’s an assuredness that they are currently the best out there in this, albeit quite niche, genre. Easter’s fast-paced walking bass-line on ‘Wild Child’ is especially inspired, rolling through Aggs’ lamentations that one’s idols aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. However, there is also a literal expanse into Shopping’s sound, as for the first time they are utilising synths and samples as opposed to their so-far exclusively lo-fi drums, bass, guitar, vox line-up. The synths first appear on ‘Wild Child’ but they become more prominent as the album progresses. In the album’s second-half, the positively dark and moody ‘Discover’ - with Milk’s haunting backing vocals “I’m not lonely/I’m fine” - especially hammers home this sound, while later on album highlight ‘New Values’ the band update samples often associated with dub-reggae into a new context of their own, with the “new values” of the title referring both to economic and social worths. Prominently, however, Shopping remain committed to their lo-fi sound, albeit with a fuller production sound realised by the former Orange Juice frontman. ‘Asking for a Friend’ and ‘Suddenly Gone’ for instance are just excellent examples of the band doing what they do best, fast moving, thoughtful, dreamy post-punk with a social conscience that keeps the listener on their feet. The band’s ability to carve new ideas out of a fairly established sound remains an impressive feat but their ability to couple that with socio-political ideas such as issues of representation in being both queer and a person of colour, in Aggs’ case on ‘Suddenly Gone’, without hitting you over the head is one to be admired. Overall, another great album from one of the UK’s best underground talents who may not remain so underground for long. ![105332]( [...]

Porches - The House

2018-01-16T11:59:25+00:002018-01-16 11:58:37 +0000

The agony is there, but none of the nuance or substance that would make you empathise or relate with it Why are we here? Why do we want to talk about another New York hermit who obsesses over himself and fiddles with cookie cutter beats like an oversized infant fiddles with Fischer Price toys? Why do people follow his precious wikkle Twitter diary of chicken scratch and eyelash loss? Why did anyone willingly dip into the anesthetic haze of 2016’s Porches record Pool, if not to siphon out the excess chlorine that burns eyes and bleaches hair? WHY? Sorry. Forgive me – at least, for venting too soon. But we have to draw some lines here. The celebration of the mundane isn’t the sole specialty of novelists any more – every damn chirpy member of the social networks relishes now in the self-centred banal. And yet this is what pseudo-sprite Aaron Maine employs to convince us that he’s a special snowflake – a self-imposed isolation, point blank surface observations, suspended adolescence. These are truths like shiny gold balloons: poke too deep and they pop, and release nothing but hot breath. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> We could talk about The House, Maine’s third album, and second stint into uninspired bedroom electronica for sad kids that want to pretend they dig synth pop. Or, we could talk about Willis Earle Beal’s Nocturnes, another hypnagogic liturgy of domestic and electric ballads from a self-exiled bloke, which I severely undervalued two years ago. The difference (err, beyond a genuine lack of ego) is that Beal can actually sing – which alone wouldn’t redeem one artist over the other, but that achingly expressive voice lent warm blood to the starry void synth drones. What does Maine add to his dead horse of a mix? What, beyond a faceless monotone, blurred even further by that godawful Autotune (again)? We could, theoretically, break down the songs like we’re supposed to, and pinpoint what’s a rip-off of who (short answer: a shade of Arthur Russell in the woodwork, a pinch of Majical Cloudz in the corners, maybe even sprinkles of his old pal Frankie Cosmos, but ultimately heaping teaspoons of sugary house and modern R&B). But basically, the only time that Porches doesn’t manage to bum you out with stupefying boredom is ‘Find Me’, where a potted techno synth and clipped horn tones at least attempt some levity while Maine moans about hiding in his house. Everything else just drags, and not in a good way. You can hear the airbrush gliding over blank T-shirts, stylising Maine’s empty apartment in neon pinks and purples, especially on the Avalon-esque 'Now The Water' and the crying-in-the-club trap dirge of 'By My Side'. The agony is there, but none of the nuance or substance that would make you empathise or relate with it. Oh, do we want to talk about words? Do we? Like the time when Maine tries to rhyme “mirror” with “idea”? Or, let’s see, how the whole album is just variations of “hello, I’m an incorrigible hermit, but I demand your affections, because all my spare brain power is concentrated on a perfect portrait of you”? That’s literally it. Pitchfork’s Jeremy Garden even admitted – on a 'Best New Music' review, no less - that Pool portrayed the mind of a man who doesn’t possess much of a mind, and The House doesn’t change that impression. Indeed, Maine trots out the I’m swimming in thoughts of you metaphor so often, that he basically confirms his own shallow depths – like, wow, not only does the guy openly confess that he can’t focus on anything other than lust, but he then lacks the imagination to render that obsession in any other form. Even Greta Kline, his old sweetheart and the once closeted Frankie Cosmos, broke out of her hermitage to reach her fans. In that light, The House depicts Maine not as a mirror for the modern world, but simply a victim, no different[...]

Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018: The DiS Preview + 50 Song Playlist

2018-01-15T13:22:12+00:002018-01-15 13:22:12 +0000

Here's the 10 acts we're most excited about seeing at this year's Eurosonic Noorderslag This week Drowned In Sound is heading to the Dutch city of Groningen for the 32nd edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag. Rightly heralded as Europe's most prestigious event for breaking new acts, this year's festival will once again provide maximum exposure to around 400 artists from across the continent over the course of its four days. As with previous years, the festival will also host the European Border Breakers (EBBA) alongside the European Festival Awards. With so many acts to choose from, DiS is unsurprisingly spoiled for choice but having intensely studied the line-up, here's 10 acts we're particularly excited about seeing. --- Blackberries (Wednesday 17th, All Round Poolcentrum @ 20:45) Hailing from the city of Solingen in Germany, Blackberries make elegant psychedelic rock that fluctuates between melodic pop and freeform jams, often in the same pieces of music. Second album Greenwich Mean Time came out in 2016 and despite forming in 2009, they're still relatively unknown outside of their native city. We suspect that will change very soon. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Canshaker Pi (Thursday 18th, Heerenhuis @ 23:20) This time last year Canshaker Pi proved to be one of the highlights of Eurosonic Noorderslag. Having already enraptured none other than Stephen Malkmus who produced their debut album, they've gradually established themselves as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the Dutch underground in years. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> D/Troit (Friday 19th, Huize Maas Main Hall @ 01:15) One of the most consistently prolific independent labels on the circuit right now are Copenhagen's Crunchy Frog, and this soulful five-piece are among many exciting acts on their roster as it stands. Influenced by the classic sounds of Motown, Atlantic, and Stax Records, D/Troit aren't afraid to go back in time in order to create a sonic palette for the future. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Hater (Thursday 18th, Huis De Beurs @ 20:00) Malmö is becoming something of an indie rock hotbed having first unearthed Fews a couple of years ago. Following hot on their heels are Hater, a four-piece led by the inimitable Caroline Landahl whose vocal stylings fall somewhere in between Molly Rankin of Alvvays and Annelotte De Graaf, better known as the brains behind Amber Arcades. Their Red Blinders EP brightened up a somewhat cold December and we're expecting the band's live show here to make a similar impact. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Housewives (Thursday 18th, Vera @ 22:15) Arguably one of the most left field bands to grace the Eurosonic Noorderslag bill in a long while, this South London outfit create music that's beyond genre categorisation and as a result, stand out as one of this year's unmissable acts. Last year's FF061116 long player heralded them as uncompromising experimentalists in a similar vein to Steve Reich, Einsturzende Neubaten, or more recently, Factory Floor. Prepare to be mesmerized. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Iceage (Wednesday 17th, Vera @ 23:45) This Copenhagen four-piece should need no introduction having released two of the decade's finest long players in 2011's debut New Brigade and 2014's third offering Plowing Into The Field Of Love. With a new album said to be imminent, this opportunity to hear some o[...]

Bradford's Track By Track Guide to Shouting Quietly

2018-01-15T11:22:12+00:002018-01-15 11:22:12 +0000

Singer Ian Michael Hodgson talks us through the band's critically acclaimed second album prior to its reissue Blackburn five-piece Bradford were once hailed as natural successors to The Smiths by none other than Stephen Patrick Morrissey himself. Indeed, Morrissey covered their 1988 debut single 'Skin Storm' as the B-side to 'Pregnant For The Last Time' as well as occasionally including it in his live sets. Their self-titled debut came out in 1988 to a rapturous reception from all corners of the music press but it was 1990's follow up Shouting Quietly that established them as one of the most intelligent, politically charged outfits to emerge from the post-C86 indie scene. Produced by Stephen Street and released on his Foundation label, the album receives an overdue reissue entitled Thirty Years Of Shouting Quietly courtesy of A Turntable Friend Records next month (9th February) and comprising of thirty songs including the original LP, the extremely rare French mini-album which was withdrawn by their former label Midnight Music prior to release, and several previously unreleased songs. Here, singer and songwriter in chief Ian Michael Hodgson talks us through each of the songs that make up their critically acclaimed second record. width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=""> --- Greed And Peasant Land This song also opened our live shows and "set our stall out" politically and musically speaking. Little Lefty leaning skinheads poke a Doctor Marten toe at the Thatcher years. A nod to Dexys with the brass section pre-chorus. One of the first tracks to begin the Shouting Quietly sessions with the wonderful Stephen Street in deepest Wales summer 1989. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> To Have And To Hurt I was going through a big word play/pun stage as evidenced by the title once more. A lot of chords in this song - I think songwriters go through a lot of chords stage then relax and stop trying to impress fellow musicians. Then its back to smashing three chords with unabashed new respect for the form. I think Bolly's (John Baulcombe) keyboard playing in the coming out of the middle eight is some of his best. Gang Of One Talking of bashing chords...I like this one best as it touches upon our live sound and energy - love the choppy guitar texture interplay and I'm proud I'm in there sawing away somewhere too. Yup, it's another word play title too! A classic misfit song for all the misfits out there - takes one to know one. Always Torn Hats off to Jos for his spontaneous bass playing on the outro. Lovely guitar interplay by Ewan (Butler) too throughout - Ewan is my favourite guitar player. In the same way Charlie Watts never overplays the drums in the Stones, Ewan does a similar thing throughout the album, providing perfect backdrops. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" gesture="media" allow="encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Lust Roulette A Bradford "oldie but goldie" from our earlier sets. It's hard to imagine how crap it is going to a Blackburn nightclubs as a young man and feeling like you're on a bad game show or something. Out pops a song of course. This one. The hair I was combing in the song has since disappeared, as has any semblance of Blackburn nightlife. Adrift Again Stephen Street's production and ideas throughout the album are superb and this, our second single release from the album shines radiantly with them. It's funny how nearly all the songs on this album bar 'Radio Edna' and 'Gary's Going Down' come from a highly charged emotional perspective. We were all very switched on throughout the three weeks of recording - miles from anywhere with only cows a[...]

Tune-Yards - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

2018-01-15T06:52:04+00:002018-01-15 06:51:54 +0000

I Can feel You Creep Into My Private Life is an album very much of its time, and very much needed I Can feel You Creep Into My Private Life is an album very much of its time, and very much needed. With the world in political, social and environmental disarray, it’s the Anohnis, Pussy Riots and Against Me!s of the music world who we can turn to not only for respite, but also for meaningful commentary to help us calm our spinning minds. And Tune-Yards earn their place on the list by looking further – looking inside at what we as individuals are all about, our cracks and failures, our contradictions and ways that we might need to challenge ourselves before we can change things around us. This album is packed full of the energy pouring from singer, percussionist and general all-round frontlady Merril Garbus. She harnesses the power that comes from facing up to difficult truths and transforms this into a myriad of complex yet addictive dance, Eighties-inspired pop and ear-pummelling lyrics. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen> Garbus has retained much of her hallmark style, from looping and layering vocal lines to blasting out her fabulously malleable voice in a myriad of styles. Bassist and long-time collaborator Nate Brenner is now a fully-fledged member of Tune-Yards, allowing for much closer collaboration. While in the past he’s played more of a supporting role (including encouraging Garbus to drop the focus on face paints and ukulele riffs!), their core strengths of bass and vocals are clearly on display here. Tracks such as ‘Look at Your Hands’ and ‘Hammer’, while unashamedly classic Eighties dance, also showcase the mellow bass-riffery that intertwines, lifts and slides around the melody. But while a lot of these songs would be called ‘floor fillers’, they’re not uncomplicated. ‘Heart Attack’ is a strong opener: a retro electronic vibe that’s all at once minimal, dissonant and uncomfortable. It sets the tone for an album packed with polyrhythmic chattering, note bending and off-key slips that plunge an uplifting chorus into minor-keyed disquietude at the drop of a beat. This is most apparent, and compelling, in tracks such as ‘ABC 123’, which tightropes somewhere between reggaetón and nursery-rhyme, or the school-yard strains and refrains of 'Private Life'. At its most personal and bittersweet moments, ICFYCIMPL finds the duo sticking fingers into the darkest aspects of human nature through self-exploration. What are your greatest flaws? What do you know about yourself? The spaces between the sounds, the clipped, sometimes arrhythmic noises leave emptiness that fights to be filled. Is Garbus asking the listener to find their own weakness, their own dark side, the little secrets that make us less than the moral being we present to the world? Maybe, unless you just listen to this as a building-filling dance album! As Garbus said in a recent interview with the Financial Times, 'I'm surprised and relieved to find people are still interested in us'. And while there are some tracks that feel like the duo have worn themselves out, points at which the album can support neither its stubbornly fusion-pop soul nor its lyrical depth, for the most part it shines. 'Colonizer' is one such luminous track. It is the spiky backbone running through the centre of this album, structurally palatial with hypnotically sweet and simple lyrics belying the struggles of a front woman pulling apart her own cultural appropriation; “I use my white woman voice to tell stories of travels with African men/ I hear the blood in my voice”. Meanwhile the bass, synths and melange of culture-straddling sounds create a shock-wave of energy that continues to ripple long after the abrupt ending shuts the track down mid-step. ![105331](http://dis.resized.images.s3.ama[...]

Shame - Songs of Praise

2018-01-12T11:09:12+00:002018-01-12 11:08:30 +0000

An unimaginative album from a promising band The most you can ask of a young band is honesty. Inauthenticity is as transparent as it is deadly and even the slightest scent of it can doom an act to a short lifetime of irrelevance and anonymity. Fortunately, Shame pass the authenticity smell test; unfortunately, their genuineness exposes the fact that they are a band without much new to say. When we have the taut, minimal rage of Idles, the self-possessed political punk of Dream Wife and the situationist rock’n’roll debauchery of The Moonlandingz, the bar is high for a new voice looking to make a mark. Shame are aware that the platform of a debut album is an opportunity, but the execution lacks imagination. The Brixton five-piece formed three years ago in the same rehearsal space that spawned Fat White Family, and they came up in a community that included Goat Girl, HMLTD and the dearly departed Dead Pretties. This debut album arrives sooner than that of any of those scene-mates and does encapsulate the broiling, discontented energy that binds those bands together. Singles ‘One Rizla’ and ‘Concrete’, for example, are driven by sharp, impatient dual guitar licks and acerbic, scowling vocals from Charlie Steen. They resist obvious boozy, shout-a-long-able choruses too, which is a bonus. But the tunes that propel Goat Girl, the formal experiments that define HMLTD and the blues rock power that spearheaded Dead Pretties are all absent, as is an equivalent defining feature of their own. At their most successful, they find a dark, menacing mood that fits their voice and sound, most strongly on ‘Dust On Trial’, which sees Steen’s black gothic vocals and Sean Coyle-Smith’s unrelenting anger-chiming guitars combine to create a creeping, intimidating final product. For a band that do not have the instinct to make their music pretty, this is a satisfyingly ugly opener. They do strive to have something to say and it coagulates into a statement most impressively on ‘The Lick’. Over a lead guitar line that falls somewhere between a prowl and a strut, Steen speak-sings, “So why don’t you sit in the corner of your room/And download the next greatest track to your MP3 device/So sincerely recommended to you by the New Musical Express,” before continuing to implore us to take it to our friends’ place and to sit and marvel at our “four chord future”, because “that’s what we need/something we can feel/something that’s relatable not debatable”. Steen’s deadpan delivery might even be dry enough to convince us that this could be a good idea, were it not for the fact that he had started the song by detailing a trip to the gynaecologist with a “golden ticket hanging out of my pocket”. Shame are having fun here, and this tale of the way we consume our music is no celebration. Elsewhere, the one time they succumb to an earworm-able tune with ‘Friction’ is welcome, with Steen reading out a list of wry soul-searching questions that could have existed on an early Scroobius Pip release. But as is true throughout Songs of Praise, the little variety we get in lyrical content is not reflected musically. As a recording band, they exist within a narrow stream, neither daring to dabble with more colourful textures, nor mastering the essence of their own simplicity. It is, ultimately, an unimaginative album from a promising band. Better records may lie ahead for them, but for now they will struggle to reach far beyond their existing fanbase. ![105328]( [...]

The Academic - Tales from the Backseat

2018-01-12T11:09:12+00:002018-01-12 11:08:19 +0000

A relaxed and fun record about growing up The new year always brings a fresh bout of ones-to-watch artists, and this year The Academic is one of the first of those bands to release a record. Tales from the Backseat is the debut album from the four-piece group from the Irish Midlands. As the follow up to their 2015 EP Loose Friends the album promises tracks which are energetic and explosive, with surprises around every corner. With all the band members in their early twenties, the record explores themes of coming-of-age, nightlife and relationships in a small town. On first listen, the album comes across as a little underwhelming, maybe like the kind of music you would hear in the background in Wetherspoons or in those scenes in TV shows where a band performs at low volume in the background while characters discuss something more important. The music on this album sounds like a hybrid of a lot of other bands, such as The 1975, Kodaline and The Vaccines, but not really yet at the level of any of them. It’s hard to remember what most of the songs sound like until you’ve heard them several times. It’s accessible and easy to listen to, but equally possesses the quality of sliding past you without leaving any lasting impact if you don’t listen quite hard enough. The album opens on upbeat and summery ‘Permanent Vacation’, which is a high-energy opener. The chorus is a little haphazard as the band jaggedly tries to cram as many words in as possible, alongside the slightly rudimental refrain of "What’s my motivation?/ To leave this permanent vacation". The second track, ‘Bear Claws’, offers greater potential, as the lyrics implore the listener to cast off dating tradition and "Show me all your flaws, show me your bear claws/ Go rip your heart out tonight". Sonically and lyrically, it’s more interesting than its predecessor, but it’s not exceptional. The band’s first single, ‘Different’, is fantastic in its new incarnation, with guitars creating a wall-of-sound feel and vocals by Craig Fitzgerald soaring over the backing. The track is imbued with energy and fervour. Lyrically, the song is simple, but this supports the essential single-minded nature of the song. Other high points of the album include ‘Bite My Tongue’, a fiery, high-octane riposte of a track, and ‘Fake ID’, which is self-deprecating, clever and more memorable than other parts of the record. Other tracks fall flat, such as ‘Northern Boy’, which is a little monotonous and lacklustre. Additionally, final track ‘Girlfriend’ makes an early play for some of the most badly-written and cringe-inducing lyrics of 2018 with "She’s only 20 and she’s driving a Bentley/ She’s only 20 and she’s driving me crazy". Overall, the album has a lot of good elements, such as great harmonies and frequently interesting instrumentation. You’ll need to get past the clunkiness of some of the lyrics in Tales from the Backseat to be able to enjoy it. It isn’t about to win any prizes for its exceptional horizon-stretching, genre-setting musicality, but that isn’t really what the record has been created to do. It’s a relaxed and fun record about growing up and not taking things too seriously, and it certainly conquers that vein successfully. I think a lot of teenagers and young adults will enjoy it. However, within their indie rock niche, The Academic will have to work harder to create music as memorable and lasting as some of their peers. ![105329]( [...]

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Wrong Creatures

2018-01-12T11:09:12+00:002018-01-12 11:08:06 +0000

Wrong Creatures is just disappointing Well. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club used to be cool. Just like The Raveonettes used to be dangerous (and not just signifiers of film noir), or Wolfmother used to be awesome (not just puppets miming Led Zep – which also used to be awesome), or Tame Impala used to be the rock revival that everyone so desperately wanted (and not just Aussie lads stroking a prog-sized ego). But years passed, and we, the white kids of the Noughties, grew out of our parents’ record collections. At least, I hope you guys did. I’m listening to ‘Calling Them All Away’ now, from BRMC’s thirteenth or so bid for commercial success, Wrong Creatures. It’s one of those 'yeah, we’re gonna purge, have a spiritual revival now, with all the feedback and sitar' moments, which cruises in slow like Spiritualized and ends big and boisterous like Swervedriver. It’s a deliberate ratchet upward, like Peter Hughes and his mate Robert Turner Been had already mapped out the arena, and plotted the choreography, and rehearsed the semi-sincere-but-intentionally vague stage banter that they’d toss out at the gig. Meanwhile, backstage, Hughes swigs the whiskey in his tumbler and snorts. Don’t take much to please those suckers, huh, he says to Been with a chuckle. See, BRMC used to be cool, when you believed all the myths about rock – that guitar-based music is dying, that electric guitars careening through solos are the pinnacle of godhood, that only the grandiose motions and formulae of a Solid Band could convey True Emotion or Real Faith or Good Music. The thing is, Hughes doesn’t even buy into that shit. 'The only advice I would give is don't fall into the trap of thinking you're important or what you're doing is important,' he told us last month. 'That's one of the dangers you've got to watch out for.' And THAT’S curious – if you see your own output as disposable, then why the fuck should I even bother to analyse it? But, y’know. If you swallow Hughes’ advice wholesale, and pretend that Nick Cave did nothing more than serve quality product to an audience hungry for murder ballads, and discredit dialogue or catharsis or the molding of identity, then Wrong Creatures is fine. Like how Horrors are just fine after Primary Colours. ‘The Ninth Configuration’, in fact, reeks of that modern pre-packaged epic mentality. If you believe in rock – or rather, if you can’t hear the blues without dollops of fat-laden reverb – then ‘Question of Faith’ is absolutely fine for a single. Yes, quite fine. Ain’t it fine, Jim? Hand me a beer. Even by BRMC’s terms – which, let’s face it, haven’t been that high a standard since ‘Abstract Dragon’, the song so definitively experimental that Hughes and Been named their label after it - Wrong Creatures is just disappointing. Anyone who bandies the phrase “I want your creature love” in a potential new jingle for Ford trucks (‘Little Thing Gone Wild’ – see, even the chorus sounds destined to accompany dirt-slinging motor vehicles and other signifiers of masculinity) clearly isn’t concerned with 'moving forward' or 'making a statement'. Rather than set out into any new territory – like, I dunno, the new year – BRMC merely tick off boxes on the time-tested How To Build A Rock Album checklist: ‘DFF’ is the laminated portfolio cover, ‘Circus Bazooko’ the prerequisite wonky cut, ‘Echo’ the ballad that can carry across a stadium. No wonder Hughes can’t give a straight answer about anything beyond the technical parts of his work – there’s nothing creative to discuss. But hey – BRMC are still cool. And if dated poses of coolness and Good Music are all you care for in rawk, then here’s another album for ya, just like all the other ones you consider cool. ![105330]([...]

Various - Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk 81-88

2018-01-11T17:31:35+00:002018-01-11 17:31:10 +0000

Some of the best and brightest examples of City Pop, all by female artists Japan in the Eighties: a time when economic growth was at an average of four percent, GNP was the second largest in the world and unemployment was low. The country began to shift away from manufacturing and towards a more information and computer-based system, led by highly sophisticated technological advances. Even away from financial concerns, the decade also saw the establishment of Studio Ghibli and the popularisation of the likes of Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong, helping to take Japanese culture transatlantic. During this time, many young men and women moved to bigger cities in search of wealth and fortune, finding affluent neon-lit wonderlands where prosperity helped give birth to flashy restaurants and opulent discos. There, a new sound was born, influenced by American R&B and boogie funk: 'City Pop'. As its name suggests, it was a sound designed to be heard in bustling urban environments, something that the opening notes of Culture of Soul’s new compilation takes to heart. For a few fleeting seconds, Hitomi Tohyama’s ‘Exotic Yokogao’ transports the listener directly into those boom times with the lively buzz of chatter and the chink of glasses, as if toasting the success of the decade. This is Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk: 1981-1988, a 12-track collection of some of the best and brightest examples of City Pop, all by female artists. Compiled by Eli Cohen of Alliance Upholstery and Deano Sounds of Cultures of Soul, the selection showcases some of the more unique aspects of the genre. For any listeners expecting a Japanese version of the type of boogie-funk and disco that tore through Studio 54 in the late 1970s, you may be in for a bit of a surprise. Yes, the strong rhythmic grooves and buoyant basslines of the likes of Chic and Parliament-Funkadelic are present here. It comes on strong on the likes of Aru Takamura’s ‘I’m In Love’, which adopts an almost laid-back, understated vocal style that makes it somewhat reminiscent of Diana Ross’s ‘Upside Down’, ‘Wanna Kiss’, also by Hitomi Tohyama, which features a prominent bassline directly taken from Chic’s ‘Good Times’, and Junko Ohashi’s ‘Dancin’, with its vintage chorus of “I’ve got dancin’ in my feet.” Even on ‘Dancin’ though, there’s more than simply a re-tread of American sounds going on; it opens with an explosion of cosmic, swirling synths and its beats are reminiscent of early house music. Indeed, as Japan itself was becoming more technologically advanced, its music wasn’t about to get left behind. Instead, producers such as Tatsuro Yamashita and Haruomi Hosono were quick to adopt the latest, state of the art equipment, from synthesisers such as the Yamaha DX7 and Moog Polymoog to drum machines such as the Linndrum, with digital reverb being applied liberally. As the collection’s title may suggest then, what results is a fusion of styles that keeps disco, funk and soul as its foundation, but layers on elements from a variety of other genres. There’s a familiarity to be heard in the underlying grooves, but the City Pop on display here reaches far beyond, giving an almost cinematic, all-encompassing breadth to its sound. Unsurprisingly, it’s J-Pop and power pop that comes to the fore the most in the majority of the compositions, not least in Mizuki Koyama’s ‘Kareniwa-Kanawanai’, possibly the most strident and striking example of City Pop fusion on the collection. An explosion of pounding drum machines accompanies Koyama’s emotional vocal melodies, only for that to be superseded by high-energy electronic brass and a shimmering hook so irrepressible that it’d feel as much at home on the charts as it would the dancefloor. Not every track her[...]