About a month ago the LA based electro-punk noise makers released ‘New Coke’, the first track from their forthcoming third album ‘Death Magic.’ It was a a mind blowing, intense and industrial smack in the face.
Their next single ‘Stonefist’ also has all of these qualities yet, differs in the delivery of them. Where, ‘New Coke’ quietens and pauses throughout before delivering yet another sonic punch line, the noise in ‘Stonefist’ is a constant presence. The vocals are far less distorted which gives it more of a pop edge (but only a slight one of course) and there’s even a sort of chorus/vocal hook of “love’s not in our hearts.”
There is still drama as the track twists and turns and we’re greeted with various instrumental break downs but it this track’s a smoother, hypnotic ride than what we’re used to from HEALTH. It is still an absolute blinder of a track though. They’re also renowned for their light / strobe happy, energetic live shows and are touring Death Magic currently which I would completely recommend it!
Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis have teamed up and created a track called ‘Slow Boy’ for the forthcoming volume of Converse’s CONS EP series.
Inevitably awash with feedback (presumably from Kim Gordon) before launching into a distinctive slacker rock guitar line from J Mascis, this track merges the two slightly different late ’80s / early ’90s guitar sounds to create something extremely interesting and disruptive.
Gordon’s singing enhances the chaos with its original aggressive, snarly tone to match her equally as gnarly distorted guitar as well as there being a real lack of chorus. This lack of chorus is a great thing – if this song had an simple structure, I’d be sorely disappointed. Although this song clocks in at 3 minutes and 14 seconds, it has the impact and intensity of a punk rock song half of its length.
Throwing blanket assumptions onto bands are always something that can irk and irritate bands and fans alike. But good golly am I about to envelop Girlpool, in an Ikea double duvet sized set of LOVE. This Wichita released debut album ‘Before The World Was Big’ from LA kickabouts Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad captures life through a fishbowl camera lense with soft lighting.
The key theme underpinning BTWWB is relativity. The lyrics on opener ‘Ideal World’ befit life in LA just as much as it would here in the somewhat colder city of London. Over an incredibly simple melody, we get an insight into the mind of Girlpool, “I thought I found myself today/no one noticed/things are ok”. Late teenagerdom and early adult are so fraught with daily existential crises and personal discovery that it can be a thoroughly exhausting experience, but when set to music, somehow everything feels like an episode of The OC.
It feels a tad nosy listening to ‘Dear Nora’, as if the collective Girlpool diary has been left out unintentionally. This track would be what you would find, set in page after page of hand-scrawled ink, documenting life as it happens. The redution in tempo echoes the slow ebbing away of self-confidence that comes with young womanhood. Whilst not outrightly preaching a message of self-love, BTWWB is instead a supportive hand for you to hold in moments of self-doubt.
‘Crowded Stranger’ is the jewel in the Girlpool crown, the addition of reverb and an extra guitar give the vocals the platform they need to deliver the OOMPH WHAM BAM moment every cracking album deserves. There are such sublte yet powerful messages embedded and dotted throughout BTWWB and here the gloomy “everybody always makes me feel the same” idea calls in to question the idea we are fed as young women that our knight in shining armour is forever on the horizon. Well I am here to tell you that 1. Screw the knight in shining armour, be your own bae. and 2. That even if you think you’re not doing great, you really are, and me and Girlpool are here as your own personal cheer-squad so don’t text that person back, do take that killer selfie and do wear that outfit if it makes you feel cute and adorable.
Following on from that, we get to the sombre ‘Pretty’ which if it had an alternative title would be called ‘The Perks Of Being Needy’. Affection is great, get it when you crave it. ‘Pretty’ and follow-up ‘Emily’ signal that the record is drawing to a close. Tucker and Tividad harmonise together in a true sisterhood style, their twin spirits lifting one another up and above the grungey Seattle guitars that they weave so well.
The power of Girlpool is such that by the time closer ‘I Like That You Can’ trails away before your eyes, everything feels like it is going to be ok. Speaking about the process behind writing the album, Cleo and Harmony told of how their goal for the record was merely to get people to feel empowered. About what? They don’t mind, as long as you have fun doing it and the consistency of this message across the ten track chronicle is a little soul-saving. Sometimes we all need to be told that it’s all going to be ok. Before The World Was Big is that voice.
I caught up with Arcadia who in September 2015, will be unleashing their metallic arachnid creation in Bristol for a huge Arcadia party.
When did your obsession with industrial materials start?
We’ve always been very focused on creative recycling, especially of military equipment which had originally been purposed for a very specific use. A key inspiration was the idea of transforming not only the form and function of the materials we work with, but what they represent. Reshaping military machinery into celebratory structures designed for people to dance around felt like a really important foundation to what we do.
Have you always been into electronic music too?
Electronic music and dance culture have always been important to us, although when we debuted our very first sculpture for Glastonbury, the music wasn’t a core element yet. Right up until Eat Static came up to us and asked us if they could play, and the next thing we knew, a cable had been dug to a neighbouring sound system and the spark was lit. Music has played a vital role in the immersive experiences we seek to create ever since.
Was your intention always to bring the Arcadia spider to Glastonbury? Were you commissioned to do it?
Glastonbury’s support has been integral to Arcadia’s development. We originally built our first structure, the Afterburner for Glastonbury in 2008 and from then, with our ideas and their support, we grew from there. The Spider actually began life as an evolution of the Afterburner once we found the Customs and Excise scanning units that would be the ‘legs’ and from then we refined them both into separate sculptures.
Are the recycled materials used supposed to replica the way in which electronic artist recycle and transform music?
It’s a very interesting echo – but we were far more motivated to try and be conscious as an organisation of just what can be done with what the world discards – especially those objects that we felt had a real symbolic strength by their repurposing. We also love the process in which something that you would never imagine as an eye, an arm or a leg can be made to work perfectly with a bit of lateral thinking – it keeps the creative momentum lively and interesting.
Do you get any say in the artists that get booked for Arcadia?
We book all artists ourselves – we take immense care and pride in our lineups and how they individually shape the feel of the full Arcadia experience.
Do you find it hard to keep your mouth shut when you know who the ‘secret’ guests are?
Only when people really want to know and keep messaging us – but it’s generally for a behind the scenes reason beyond manufactured hype.
Who’s playing Arcadia this year or are you not allowed to say?
We released our Glastonbury lineup a few days ago – we feel it’s got great diversity, some incredible artists and we’re really looking forward to it – people like Adam Beyer, Spor, Pan-Pot, Maceo Plex, Skream, Booka Shade, DC Breaks, Annie Mac, Groove Armada, Swamp 81, The Bug, Congo Natty.
The Bristol lineup is still in progress and should be out after Glastonbury.
Tell us more about Arcadiacoming to Bristol. ‘Metamorphosis’ sounds pretty epic!
We’re really proud and very honoured to be performing in our home town and to be a part of Bristol’s year as Green Capital. Bristol has played a seminal role in our development alongside Glastonbury and we’ve had incredible support from across the community and the council. The event is in Queen Square, a historic Georgian landmark in the centre of town and we’re hoping to make it a celebration both of the city and of ideas around waste, recycling and how they can be powerful sources of celebration and unity as well as conscious thinking. We’re really looking forward to seeing Arcadia come alive within such a new and yet such a familiar context. Metamorphosis is also the name of our new performance show this year.
Do you make anything else apart from giant spiders?
Oh absolutely, we have everything from 6 wheeled amphibious bugs with wings that open to reveal a fully rigged stage and DJ booth, to the 360 degree Afterburner stage.
What are your plans once Glastonbury / Metamorphosis are over?
We plan to continue doing more overseas shows, evolving what we do and exploring new ideas and new horizons.
It’s not hard to see why this was Annie Mac’s hottest record of the week – West Londoner Shura is set to be one of 2015’s greatest stars. It feels like an age since we last heard anything from her, when it was actually only a few months ago that she released her last single (‘2Shy’). Thankfully, ‘White Light’, a seven-minute swirl of 80s synthy-disco is here to satiate us.
It certainly is different from previous releases, which have been more poppy yet more introspective and contemplative; ‘White Light’s subject matter basically switches focus from her twin brother to the first glimpses of an alien (“[It’s about] embracing the social weirdness which actually makes you unique”).
This space theme runs through the music, with glimmering guitar licks and funky grooves, transporting you off into a different world. The vocals are soft and effortless and leave the song around the 4:45 mark, allowing us to get lost in the tunes of her most experimental, hypnotising single to date.
After announcing in February that there would be a video for track ‘Rain,’ it is now here and it sure is a good one.
FVC (full name Florence Van Camerijk) has appeared in Rory Atwell’s Warm Brains, Oscar and Parlour, but she’s now branched out on her own and the results are wonderful.
With lyrics like “You are fun but not very clever” and “It’s not as if you ever care, so I’ll find someone else instead,” the track is honest, but is cleverly masked by the red lipped smile that follows you through the video.
The track, produced by Oscar, is a mix of truthful lyrics and 80s inspired synths, and it’s no surprise to discover Camerijk is a fan of Blondie. There are remnants of Debbie Harry’s vocals here, too, but with the Dutch accent popping through in places, she’s sets herself apart.
The video, which was directed by Bad Baby Productions’ Christina Hardinge, follows FVC around various places from Swindon to Hackney, is shot on super 8 film, features lots of (great) double exposure, and with the pastel colours of a perfect summer sunset, it is not only a pleasure to listen to, but to watch as well.
It’s been 20 years since Larry Clark’s ‘Kids’ was released. Describing the film as ‘gritty’ would be an understatement. From the way that the cast were recruited (the majority of the cast were found skating in Washington Square, NY) to the way that it’s shot in a low budget, lifelike documentary style, this film explores the lives of poor inner city New York kids in a way that hadn’t been done before.
It takes a graphic and unfortunately realistic look at the lives of teenagers in the city in the early nineties with particular attention paid to their promiscuity and the spread of HIV. I don’t think that any film has explored a grim subject topic in such an intense way since, apart from Gasper Noé’s ‘Irreversible’that features an incredibly realistic 15-minute rape scene in a subway as well as exploring general attitudes that men have towards women in horrific detail.
Kids opens with young (perhaps 16/17 year old) Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) kissing a 13-year-old girl in her bedroom (from the off the movie deals with statutory rape, a legal minefield for sexual active teens).
She’s a virgin and he loves it. “You can tell she just ended puberty”, he later brags to his friends.
We are then subjected to an uncomfortable dialogue between him and the girl where she is saying that she doesn’t want to do it because she doesn’t want a baby but Telly manages to convince her to do it anyway and we have to watch the awful sex scene whilst the girl screams in pain. Stealing a girls virginity is an unsavoury hobby of his because, he gloats, “If you fuck a virgin, you’re the man….no-one else has the power to do that again.”
The behaviour of the kids in the film is abhorrent throughout – from Telly’s sick virgin fucking habits to stealing money from their own (clearly very poor) parents as well as beer from an Off Licence, getting stoned at 12-years-old and a large gang of kids beating a man (perhaps to death) with skateboards and feeling no remorse about it.
This film is not for the lighthearted but does everything it set out to do which is to shine a light on the lives of young kids in New York.
The fact that it was written by a kid that Clark found in the skate park (Harmony Korine) also suggests that its subject topics are of common knowledge to the very kids that it’s about.
Korine wrote the script in three days and went on to create some of the world’s most critically acclaimed indie films such as Gummo,Trash Humpersand his mainstream debut Spring Breakers.
This film is partially responsible for the getting a kid out of the skatepark and creating films, some could argue. We also see an indie debut from Chloé Sevigny who went on to star in a lot of Korine’s films.
At the heart of this film is the subject topic of young people’s ignorance to HIV and AIDS. It’s a disease that was largely associated with homosexuality and African people that these kids saw it as just a myth. This is echoed today, not just with AIDS but an array of sexual transmitted diseases –Kids shines a stark light on the teenage mantra of ‘it won’t happen to me’.
As one stoned boy says in the film, “I know no kid with AIDS. No kid died of AIDS. That shit’s all made up.”
If any young people watched this at the time and thought this then I’m pretty sure afterwards they left with a changed viewpoint.
This is surely an incredible achievement for Larry Clark and Harmony Korine as it’s obviously a subject that they wanted to exploit with this film. No film before or since has been so direct and perhaps affective in its approach at tackling this difficult subject topic.
The film is also of its time as a lot of the filming would not be allowed to happen any later in time for gentrification purposes and changes in the law.
Clark would not be able to film 12-year-old boys smoking what appears to be real weed or be able to film a legless man on a subway (who we assume he sourced from an actual subway journey he’d taken).
Kids with its stark realism, cast of actual teenagers and fearlessness in dealing with subjects at the dark heart of teenage lives is what makes it a standout movie. And to think people were outraged by Skins!
This is surely what makes it such a classic, poignant film – it is relatable to everyone who has been a teenager but also showcases a dark world that, for a lot of us, luckily, is so far removed from our own.
“What’s it like to be a girl in a band?” is a question that is still being asked today and has been publicly mocked by women over the years, most recently Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac. It’s a question that specifically English journalists posed to Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon during her time touring over here in the late eighties and early nineties. According to Gordon in this memoir, the offending journalists would then go on to disregard her answer to this question and go on to write both ageist and sexist reviews.
Gordon’s book answers the question of what it’s like to be in her own band whilst also beginning with her 60s/70s childhood in scenic L.A., where the Manson murders taint the sun soaked city and hippies roam free. She also writes of her relationship with her brother, Keller who later goes on to be diagnosed as a schizophrenic and her early experiences with art and music.
The book stretches from her first initial artistic steps, through to art school in Toronto and finally New York. It talks about her meetings and relationships with various artists and musicians in the Punk and No Wave scenes in early eighties New York. The only problem that one might find with this book is that unless you’re aware of every single one of the artists named you can easily lose track of who’s who and be left thinking “wait, is that the sculptor or the visual artist?”, “which band was that girl in again?”
My favourite part of this memoir is that Gordon gives open explanations about some of the inspiration behind some of the songs from all of the albums that Sonic Youth and her various side projects released, as well as giving us an insight into how Sonic Youth operated creatively.
It also gives the reader a clear indication of just how creative Gordon (and indeed the rest of Sonic Youth) is. Sonic Youth were an art band that never aimed to create an easy listening pop song that could equally as easily be forgotten in a lost city of mediocre pop songs but created images and told stories within their music upon a layer of sound heavily influenced by Punk and No Wave whilst guitar tunings change from song to song.
All of this is found at the heart of the novel sandwiched between Kim’s upbringing and her family life – the upbringing of her own daughter, Coco Moore and the demise of her marriage to Thurston. The importance of her family, from her love for her parents to the love she has for her daughter is something that is an underlying theme of the whole book.
It’s a very personal memoir and often melancholic at times, a vibe that we’re introduced to right at the start of the book with Kim’s memory of Sonic Youth’s last ever show which took place in Brazil in November 2011. The intense prolificness of Gordon is portrayed in this book and should do nothing other than completely inspire the reader. We’re shown how Gordon has always thought in the mind of an artist and never a musician which is probably the only way to approach making the visceral and at times very chaotic music that Sonic Youth created. This is the perfect read for anyone aspiring to be in some form of punk rock band or anyone who’s an artist of aspiring artist in general.
Italian clothing brand,55DSLcelebrate their 20th birthday this year. Originally they set out as a spin off of the Diesel brand but twenty years on they are still going strong and fuelled with just as much of a creative driving force and fun attitude towards their brand. They work well within an urban setting with their eye catching graphics. Creative director Andrea Rosso seeks out artists all over the world to collaborate with which gives an artistic feel to the clothes as well as them clearly taking inspiration form various different countries. In the film below 55DSL discuss their twenty year history from the birth of the brand to its collaborators. The music is by Bloody Beetroots.
The video for Girl Band’s cover of Blawan’s ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ has a particular grim narrative of a mortician at work. The video was shot by Bob Gallagher and shows an old man strip a naked dead body of jewellery and then its vital organs.
There is also a tape deck playing a song in the background and, after the Y-incision is sewn back up they are both possessed by the song and engage in a violent freak-out. The brutal reparative beats and screeching of guitars prove to be a bizarrely brilliant piece of background tracking for a rave in a morgue.
Most guitar groups stick to what they know; rock, grunge, punk but obviously Girl Band have set themselves differently by covering a techno track and have turned it into more than just a cover song. I’ve heard that the live version is a high point for fans. The video is fantastic (although don’t watch while eating!)
Girl Band have got the guts for terror techno and can cause a panic in eight minutes just by making a lot of noise. The video follows plans unveiled for their debut EP The Early Years, which will arrive on April 21 via Rough Trade. The Irish lads will make a trip across the pond to support the release with a string of North American live shows.
I hope the future EP gives as much energetic noise-rock as their cover of ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’
In the meantime put the food away and watch the video for ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’
You can read the tracklist for ’The Early Years’ below.
2. ‘De Bom Bom’
3. ‘I Love You’ (Beat Happening Cover)
4. ‘Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?’ (Blawan Cover)
5. ‘The Cha Cha’
Dorset born singer / songwriter PJ Harvey announced earlier this year that she would be inviting fans to come and watch her record her 9th studio album in an exhibition at Somerset House. Tickets were snapped up fast but luckily new dates were added and I managed to grab a ticket and make it down to a Wednesday afternoon session.
Upon arrival, phones and any other potential recording devices are taken away from me and I’m led downstairs to a room with a huge glass showcase in it. Polly and her band are on the other side of the one way glass (it’s one way glass so that they’re not distracted by spectators and things are kept as natural as possible) recording some drums. These are not just any drums however; one of the drums is a snare drum, with a smaller drum skin held loosely into place to create an incredible ringing sound when struck whilst the other guy (presumably Jean-Marc Butty) plays marching band-esque drum roll, which has a sort of sacrilegious / ceremonial feel to it. Sonically, we are fed exactly what the band are hearing which is the barebones of a track with some impressive guide vocals. The track itself has an incredibly hypnotic feel to it whilst also containing some classic PJH style “oooo”s.
The band are all seemingly very relaxed despite the fact that they’re in a glass display cabinet being watched and the floor is white, the walls are white (bar a PJ Harvey line drawn crest) and the sofa is also extremely white. This is far from your moth eaten rug and cigarette stained walls environment that most artists are offered when it comes to recording an album. Even when they reach the ‘dilemma’ of which organ sound they should use in order to give the song a “pulse” they seem calm and collected and simply flick through the organ sounds unfazed until deciding on what they consider to be the perfect tool for the job at hand.
Another treat that we’re given are handwritten lyrics to the tracks from the new album that are nailed onto the wall; this is an eyeopener as to what theme the new album will be on. Again, this album seems to be about conflict and injustice, however, rather than being about a particular war or place, it has an international feel. Polly’s moved away from landscapes and tapped into the mindset of those at the hands of injustice all over the world. It going to be a sad but beautiful, and of course creative album for sure whilst also being heartbreakingly relevant to bad state that the world is in right now.
‘Cry Baby Cry’ by the London- based new punk rockers: PROM is an exciting track. It is a relentless tune that doesn’t seem to tire. A great grungy debut from the murky underground that will bounce out of your headphones no matter how low you turn the volume down. Not that you’ll want to as this is a refreshing, rare find that music fans have been waiting for.
What is great is this track has a visual masterpiece that matches the sheer wonderment of the single. The self-directed music video is weird but also mesmerising. It features the lead guitarist (Pip Stakem) dancing in a wedding dress. With his moustache galore, muscles twitching and writhing as the white dress clings to his body until the bass and drums reach their inevitable crescendo.
The end of the video features the rest of the band; Ed Kirkwan (Drums) Angela Won- Yin Mak (Vocals/Guitar) and Nick Benton (Bass) who describe themselves as “desperate, isolated obsessives of the alternative/sleaze canon (who) strike out on new musical endeavour after falling off last year’s bandwagons.
Expect barely-contained aggression and pent up Freudian urges from this rejection-grade scattering from all corners of the punk/alt/goth axis.”
The capital has produced us a great collective bunch; who look like they are having the time of their lives and who would be fantastic to see live. I have great expectations to the follow up to ‘Cry Baby Cry’.
Also, check out the other half of this double A side single, ‘Celebrate’ below:
‘Celebrate’ / ‘Cry Baby Cry’ will be released on 12th January 2015. Pre-order it here.