Now Playing: Dead Pony – ‘Everything Is Easy’

Thursday, May 28, 2020
Photo by Daniel Blake

We’ve come to realise that there must be something in the water in Glasgow after the emergence of so many exciting bands during the past few years, and the latest to catch our attention is Dead Pony. At the beginning of the month, they unleashed their addictive new single ‘Everything Is Easy’.

On ‘Everything Is Easy’, the band reflects on the ways particular memories feel different as you get older. Dead Pony’s own Anna Shields said on the track, “‘Everything is Easy’ is a take on how simple childhood experiences can be soured as you grow older. Lyrically, we tried to capture that feeling of betrayal you feel as a young, naïve child when you find out Santa isn’t real or that your conception wasn’t via your Dad finding a snotter on the wall and raising it to become you. We came up with this idea after having discussed how ridiculous the things were we believed as children.”

With more music planned for 2020, we can’t wait to hear what Dead Pony serves up next.

Written by Amy Smolcic 




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Interview: Seeing the World Through the Lens of Choir Boy

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Photo by Karen Judith Davis

“Part of the sadness of adulthood is that things become dull for people. Nothing feels new or exciting anymore and I think people can get jaded and disillusioned with life," says Choir Boy frontman Adam Klopp.

A few weeks ago, amongst the uncertainty, Salt Lake City band Choir Boy shared their bold and fascinating sophomore record Gathering Swans (via Dais Records). The album provides listeners with an unforgettable listening experience — leaving them wholeheartedly enchanted by the passionate and nostalgic tracks. Gathering Swans also possesses the ability to invite listeners to evaluate life through a different lens.

The band first gained attention with their debut record Passive With Desire — which was originally released in 2016 before getting re-released by Dais Records in 2018. Their emotional and stirring debut was praised for its cinematic quality, introspective lyrics and Klopp’s sincere vocals.

Over the years, the lineup led by Klopp has changed — Choir Boy's current lineup features bassist and longtime collaborator Chaz Costello, saxophonist and keyboardist Jeff Kleinman, and guitarist Michael Paulson.

In-between albums, the band had a busy touring schedule, which made it difficult to find time to work on their sophomore release. Klopp also worked on a dark electro-pop project with Costello under the moniker Human Leather. Inevitable after an album as impressive as their debut, there was also a looming sense of pressure that was beginning to leave Klopp feeling apprehensive about the band's new music — he knew they could make an emotional pop song after their debut offering, but he wanted to expand on that and try something different. “When you go into the studio to create the imaginary thing that you’ve thought of, it’s hard when those things don’t match up exactly.”

Some songs on the album resulted in four or five different versions, and ultimately he had to learn how to accept something was done instead of making iterations of the tracks. “Part of the problem was that I sat on things for too long. I think there was a feeling of apprehension where I could sense that things were done. It occurred to me that you can’t be overly precious about everything. Maybe it’s not everything you dreamed it would be and that’s okay.”

Passive With Desire, which Klopp describes as more “flowery and verbose” than Gathering Swans, was written during a difficult time. “Some of the songs reference a prior state of mind — just the self-soaking in depression. I was really depressed while writing Passive With Desire”. Though the new album touches on all-consuming emotions such as disillusionment and heartache, Klopp does so in a tone that’s much lighter than Passive With Desire. There are tracks like ‘Complainer’ where Klopp takes a step back and analyses his own feelings of self-pity. He sings on the track, “But it's not that bad / I never really had it worse, no no / I'm just a complainer.” The new album still has the gloomy atmosphere of their previous album, but his words aren't as inward-looking.



“I still struggle with some emotional setbacks, some that were present in my life during the writing of the new record, but I think Gathering Swans is a bit more external and reflective on life in a broader sense. Having a laugh at yourself is a little more effective than just soaking in sadness.”

For Klopp, the album is intended to depict the feeling of seeing the world as if you were encountering it for the first time. “To me, a lot of the songs feel like they’re expressing varying feelings of wanting to feel things in vibrance. That’s the overarching theme of the record, to feel purpose and feel vibrant things.”

Despite the departure of his much darker lyrical tone, the ability to see vibrance in the middle of a difficult circumstance displays a different type of self-awareness and reflection. "I probably sound less articulate on the new songs, but to me, it feels like the more mature record in that sense."

Gathering Swans has been intricately and cleverly designed in a way that features love songs for one-half of the record and “existentialist self-help songs in varying levels of comedy” for the other half, with the tracks mirrored in a way that has a call-and-response effect. For instance, the record opens up with a protagonist overcome with feelings of hopelessness, and the B-side for it is ‘Sweet Candy’, which Klopp describes as a “story of someone who would really love to participate in a romantic experience, but they're denied that.”

“I really like the tradition where people would format a record where the A-side was the singles and the B-side you get to screw around a bit. I like that tradition of having a different feel on different sides of the record. Since we're consciously trying to make pop music, it makes sense for us to do little nods to certain traditions.”

The band have taken the reins of the visuals for this album, with Klopp playing a major part in the creative process. For the videos released so far, including ‘Complainer’ and ‘Toxic Eye’, the band has self-directed them and Klopp has edited them. He cites LA-based songwriter, musician and visual artist Geneva Jacuzzi as an artist he's particularly inspired by.

Not only is it much more cost inhibitive for the band to create their own visuals, but it also means that they can be in control of the way they’re portrayed. “You have this idea of what a video should look like and then when you get other people involved, you risk being completely misrepresented in the video.”

Klopp is particularly interested in creating comic book-style characters for the videos that are grotesque yet picturesque. For the ‘Complainer’ video, he is shown wearing heavy layers of chains around his neck. In another interview for Altvenger, he said that they wanted the video to be reminiscent of a back alley fight. They filmed a big portion of it in front of a dumpster amidst cold conditions — he committed fully to the role, with the intention that he should be suffering whilst he performs in the clip. Then there’s the video for ‘Toxic Eye’, which depicts Klopp in gory costume makeup and his bandmates appearing vampire-like.



“When you’re making something yourself, you don’t have anyone to blame when you have a shortcoming. If we’re just fucking around with a broken VHS camera at our practice space and it looks like shit, we made it and it’s an honest portrayal of us.”

The world has been a different place since finishing their album and awaiting its release during the last few months. Their touring plans, which included a number of shows in the US, a UK and Europe tour and talk of potentially visiting Asia and Australia were put on hold. In the meantime, they’ve been working on a weekly show on Twitch called Choir Boy Karaoke, where they invite their friends on, conduct interviews and have some fun. However, Klopp and the band are missing live shows more than ever — especially the human connection element that the live experience can bring.

“It’s occurred to me that touring is the only real valid way to really show our record’s work. There’s something special about a live show where you’re actually in the same space. It’s [virtual shows] a good placeholder, but I don’t see it having the same impact when you’re hearing something through an internet stream.”

if you've had any questions about the toll cancellations and lockdowns has had on artists, Klopp's words will leave you pondering the future of music. “If things are forever different, I don’t know if I want to do this. I don’t want to be an online musician forever. I would rather do something different.” Let's hope things change soon, the world needs bands like Choir Boy.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

Listen to Gathering Swans by Choir Boy below:



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Now Playing: Courting – ‘David Byrne’s Badside’

Monday, May 25, 2020
Photo by Maisie Delaney

Liverpool four-piece Courting impress once again with their thrilling new track ‘David Byrne’s Badside’ (released via Nice Swan Records). The track follows the band’s previous singles including ‘Football’ and ‘Not Yr Man’. The up-and-comers bring a lot to the table and they’re absolutely ones-to-watch for the rest of 2020.

‘David Byrne’s Badside’ sees them combine the vibrance of Britpop’s latest revival with the vivacity of post-punk and each second is pure goodness. There’s also a saxophone solo towards the end, which caps things off impeccably.

If you try and dig into the lyrics to find a connection to David Byrne, there isn’t one. According to Sean Murphy-O'Neil from Courting, ‘David Byrne’s Badside’ is about casual racists and the contradictory views those types of people have. “It’s a portrait of the type of person who votes UKIP and wants to close our borders yet promises they’re not a racist. The type of person who says to buy British yet owns a Porsche. At the same time, we’re referencing and poking fun at more lighthearted aspects of British culture, like the collective rage when somebody takes the low of er on The Chase, and Twitter spats about Blur and Oasis. We also really just wanted an excuse to have a saxophone solo.”

Get acquainted with Courting and their single ‘David Byrne’s Badside' below.




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Feature: The Ingredients of Like Sand with Marie Dahlstrom

Friday, May 22, 2020

Over the course of approximately nine years, Danish and now London-based artist Marie Dahlstrom has spent time perfecting her craft and sound. Her hard work has led to the release of her exquisite debut album Like Sand (via JFH Records), which features fourteen smooth and eloquent servings of emotionally-driven jazz-tinged R&B. To celebrate the release of Like Sand, she takes us through the influences behind the record and how it came to be.

A Strong Foundation
One thing about this album that has been different to my previous projects is that I’ve been writing from a different perspective; from the outside looking in, with a calm and clear mindset, rather than from a place of needing an outlet to release ‘my’ strong emotions (like resentment or hurt). I think this has given me some clarity — and taught me a little more about writing. Sometimes I think of it as an argument: while you’re in the middle of it you tend to speak just to get your point across rather than listening — but after a little space, you are able to listen to the other person and see their point of view, without forcing your emotion down on the person. Music is an outlet for emotions, but it is about listening. I think this has made my songs less selfish and more capable of seeing the bigger picture.


Plants (Growth)
I have equipped my whole house with plants! They just bring a different mood to the home studio - and they represent growth — something I think all artists should thrive for, from project to project.


Community
Having a community around me: people who genuinely are excited about my songs coming out, who listen to me when I’m annoyed and upset without judging and who can bring a new perspective on life and make Sunday BBQs. THE BEST! <3


Focus
I find that in life, goal setting is really important to me. It focuses me in, brings energy and purpose, and it gives me something to look forward to. I work best that way. I like to plan.


Cooking
I have always loved cooking. The kitchen is the point of gathering in my family home, and in the house where I live now. On top of that, my brother is a chef, so I am picking up a couple things from him.

During the past couple of years, I’ve explored so many new things. I’ve cut out gluten and dairy, explored new grains & flours, herb & spice blends and I’ve started working on a little cookbook with my boyfriend, where we share our favourite recipes. I also feel like cooking has many similarities to music-making. Ingredients!



Listen to Like Sand by Marie Dahlstrom below:


Listen to 'I Don't Wanna Wake Up' (feat. James Vickery):




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Now Playing: Lucia & The Best Boys – ‘Let Go’


When it comes to Glasgow-based band Lucia & The Best Boys, we’re always left in awe of their expansive range and ability to leave us surprised — their tender new single ‘Let Go’ (released via Sweet Jane Recordings) showcases a side of the band that we haven’t witnessed yet. The track isn’t their first offering of the year, with it following in the footsteps of their exceptional EP Eternity at the start of 2020.

The introspective number was written by Lucia Fairfull from the band during a confusing time, with ‘Let Go’ ultimately helping her communicate exactly what she was feeling. “I have always enjoyed writing songs that are clear and to the point but I think ‘Let Go’ is the most honest and true I have ever been in a song. Last year I had a tough time trying to put my thoughts into comprehensible words because I was emotionally confused and sometimes lost. This led me to try things out, like writing on a piano which I never really do as I’ve always started writing songs on a guitar. Somehow this allowed these words to spill out of me whilst sitting at a piano, after a very long and frustrating time of finding what I wanted to say.”

Sit back and get ready to be covered in goosebumps with ‘Let Go’ below.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)




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Now Playing: Squid – ‘Broadcaster'

Photo by Machine Operated

Squid has shared their second single with Warp Records, yesterday coming through with ‘Broadcaster’. The track is also their second single of the year, the first being ’Sludge’. To celebrate both tracks, the band will be releasing a 10” vinyl on June 26, which is set to feature ‘Sludge’ as well as an extended version of ‘Broadcaster’.

‘Broadcaster’ commences with escalating synths building behind Judge’s vocals, before gradually transitioning into a state of chaos. The pulsating new track was inspired by visual influences according to Squid’s own Ollie Judge. “Lyrically the track was inspired by the visual artist Naim June Paik and his TV Garden installation. I thought it blurred the lines between a dystopian and utopian vision. I imagined what it must be like living synonymously amongst nature and technology in the most literal way I could imagine, with TVs towering over me amongst forests.”

Check out Squid’s new track ‘Broadcaster’ below.

Written by Kristy Smolcic 


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Now Playing: 0171 – ‘Automatic'

Photo by William Spooner

0171, the joint experimental electro-pop duo featuring Joe Bedell-Brill and Georgie Hoare, have returned with their first offering of the year with their newly released single ‘Automatic’. Last year saw them release their incredible three-track debut EP Red Light, which was a poignant exploration of human connection by the duo. ‘Automatic’ is the first track to be shared from their untitled sophomore EP, due at some stage in 2020.

On ‘Automatic’, 0171 reflect on the tedious balancing act of being swept up in your worries and learning to let go, instead, adopting a nihilist mindset — this is captured in the contrast between the monotonous nature of the vocals and the sweeping nature of the synths.

0171 said on the track, “Our music can make us feel so powerful, and at other times lost and anxious — so the songs reflect that - a disorientating mix of confidence and sadness. In ‘Automatic’ we are moving endlessly onwards, away from our own anxieties — fragile mother of pearl kids in the whirlwind. We choose a defiant nihilism over anxiety, no matter the cost. And when everything clears around us, we have just each other left.”

Check out ‘Automatic’ by 0171 below.

Written by Amy Smolcic 


Feature: Dissecting the Creative Process with BATTS

Photo by @re._stacks

Despite the very challenging circumstances that have arisen due to the pandemic, Tanya Batt aka BATTS, has found the drive to create during this trying time. After losing her main source of income and dealing with a series of cancellations (including her appearance at South By Southwest in Austin), she needed to find a new way to help keep afloat financially ⁠— resulting in the start of a new project, which offers custom covers of songs at any price people feel like paying (as long as it's over $20). Since starting the project, BATTS has been inundated with requests, making almost fifty covers within the span of a few months.

One of the requests, 'Space Oddity' by David Bowie, struck a special chord with her, and once she made it, she decided that she wanted to share it with the world. After a series of emails, BATTS was given approval to share her soothing and heartfelt cover.

BATTS took some time to explore and dissect the process of creating the covers with us.

Listen to the Song
Obviously, I’ll just go to Spotify or Youtube and listen to the song, sometimes, if I’m super organised, I’ll work out what I’m doing that day and add them to a little playlist, go for a walk and play the 2 or 3 songs I plan to do that day to try and familiarise myself with the melodies.

Chords and Lyrics 
The internet is quite often wrong so I have to do a bit of checking, I normally copy-and-paste the chords and lyrics into a word doc and try to make it all fit because I can’t be scrolling and recording at the same time. If the charts don’t exist online, I’m very lucky that my partner just writes them all up for me (what a legend).

Learning the Song
Now, the enjoyment factor of this heavily depends on the song, but this is also the part where naturally I learn it in a way that I try to make it achievable for me to pull off, whilst also making it a little more ‘me’. It’s also the part where I decide what guitar to use, luckily we have a plethora of guitars to choose from in this apartment.

Record
Once I’ve successfully played through the song a couple of times, I’ll hit record and hope for the best. I have a basic home studio setup that does the job nicely and I use Logic for anyone that maybe wants to know. I must say though, some songs have a completely different process to this. This is an example of the ‘kind ones’. I hit record, play the whole song through and if it’s a good take, then this main section is done and the fun part begins. I really like to do full takes with everything I do, I’m not a big fan of section by section, although some of the covers have definitely called for that.

All the Fun Stuff
Well, now I get to the part where I get to start producing the track, I get to add all the fun little extra bits, add lots of harmonies, guitar noodles, go through a million different plug-ins and try to make the song sound like something I’m proud of and happy to share. This is the part I enjoy the most and genuinely love doing.

Mixing
To be quite honest, I kind of mix as I go so this is normally the tidy up, the last go-over before it’s ready for the final test.

The Previewer
Nothing gets sent off until I share it with my partner Lachlan who is a phenomenal musician and has helped me track guitar on some of the trickier covers. He has had to hear every single one before it gets sent off (sorry Lach), I like to have some fresh ears on something before I send it off though to make sure everything sounds a-ok.

Send
I send the covers off and this is always so rewarding, marking them off the list always feels so good and then the responses from people always make it so worth it too. As much as some days I dislike doing this project, looking back now as restrictions are beginning to ease etc, I definitely feel like I’ve accomplished a lot with nearly 50 recorded covers and some new skills I’m grateful for.

Listen to BATTS' cover of 'Space Oddity' below:




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Now Playing: Girl Friday – ‘Amber's Knees: A Matter of Concern'

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Photo by Al Kalyk

LA-based quartet Girl Friday yesterday unleashed their full-throttle new single ‘Amber's Knees: A Matter of Concern’. The track is the first cut to be shared from their debut full-length Androgynous Mary, due for release on August 21st via Hardly Art. The album is set to follow in the footsteps of their 2019-released EP Fashion Conman, which was also shared via the label.

According to Girl Friday, ‘Amber's Knees: A Matter of Concern’ was written over a long period of time, often working on it in fragments. The band said, “It’s the first song we wrote for the album. It has to do with the borders of culturally sanctioned dissociation and the willful ignorance we often employ to keep things functioning, which manifests differently for everyone. “

Along with sharing the single, Girl Friday also unveiled the video for the single, which was inspired by their guilty-pleasure viewing of Rock of Love featuring Bret Michaels. “ We wanted the video to be an extreme example of this, so naturally we turned to reality TV for inspiration. However, that initial idea festered into a visual fever dream fueled by our increasingly dystopian waking reality. As life seems to spiral ever further out of our control, we keep ourselves grounded dancing above a greenscreen sea.”

Dive into Girl Friday’s sharp and clever new track ‘Amber's Knees: A Matter of Concern’ below.

Written by Amy Smolcic 




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Feature: The Ingredients of isaac's insects with Isaac Dunbar


Alt-pop’s latest shining light, Isaac Dunbar, is creating music well beyond his 17 years. His soaring new EP, isaac’s insects, features eloquent and poignant writing by Dunbar, reflecting on the moments that have touched him the most over the course of a few years. Though many have aligned his sound with pop music, his fearless approach to creating music sees him experiment with an array of sounds and genres. Shortly after sharing the EP, he took some time out to explore the influences that inspired him the most when working on isaac’s insects.

King Princess
The cover art of my EP was shot on film and normally I shoot digitally. For a while, I actually hated how film looked on me, but I then discovered King Princess' album Cheap Queen and the cover art was so captivating to me. It is a portrait of her shot on film and it changed how I viewed film and now I'm obsessed.

Bugs
Bugs really inspired this EP. I had this experience in my old house where a bunch of water bugs crawled up from my four walls and gathered on my ceiling in the middle of my room, and it was so weird. That's what inspired the whole concept of "isaac's insects"... it felt like these bugs saw me for who I was and knew everything about me and it freaked me out.



PC Music
Growing up, I listened to a ton of EDM but I lost my spark of interest towards it. It wasn't until recently that I listened to a lot of electronic music creating isaac's insects, specifically a lot of PC Music. Sophie and Acra and Charli and all the PC girlies. I love layering a bunch of synths to create walls of sound and I love autotune and synths so much.

My life
Another thing that inspired isaac's insects is my life and all of the things I went through when I was 16. I discovered what I like and what I don't like, who I am and who I'm not. I still am to this day, but 16 was the year it all really started. It felt right to go more in-depth with who I am through this project.

Museums
A majority of my EP was conceptualized when I was on tour with girl in red in fall 2019. We had a pit stop in Boise, Idaho and it was so inspiring there. There was a really cool museum I went to and it really sparked something in me. A very creative type of energy followed me from that place. That whole day was so nostalgic and I believe it aided in my creativity making the EP.

Listen to isaac's insects by Isaac Dunbar below:



Watch 'scorton's creek':



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Now Watching: Crack Cloud – ‘Ouster Stew'

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

If all this time being cooped up indoors has left you feeling a tad bit bored, we’ve got a treat for you. Outlandish Vancouver-based collective Crack Cloud has shared an enticing instalment from their forthcoming debut album PAIN OLYMPICS with ‘Ouster Stew’. The album is due for release on July 17th via Meat Machine.

‘Ouster Stew’ is the disorderly masterpiece we’ve come to expect when it comes to Crack Cloud. Sonically, the track is energetic and animated, yet also apocalyptic and eerie at the same time — it's pure chaos from start to end. The self-made clip captures the anarchic energy of the single, featuring some good ol’ rioting, choreography and all sorts of madness by the Canadian collective and their friends.

If you love ‘Ouster Stew’ as much as we do, be sure to check out the album when it’s out in a few months.

Watch ‘Ouster Stew’ by Crack Cloud below. 

Written by Amy Smolcic


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Now Playing: Katy J Pearson – ‘Take Back The Radio’

Photo by Olivia Clapp

Last month, Katy J Pearson unleashed yet another captivating single, this time coming through with her vibrant new number ‘Take Back The Radio’ (via Heavenly Recordings). The track follows in the footsteps of previous offerings ‘Hey You’ and ‘Tonight’, with each single as addictive as the next.

‘Take Back The Radio’ sees her join forces with labelmate and good friend Davey Newington of Boy Azooga on backing vocals, drums and synths as well as her flatmate Laurie Nankivell of Squid on horns. The single was also released alongside a stunning animation by Raissa Pardini.

Katy J Pearson’s music always possesses the power to take you to another place — you tend to forget your surroundings and you’re transported to her world. ‘Take Back The Radio’ is absolutely no exception. On the track, she said, “Writing this paragraph from isolation also makes me reflect upon how some of the lyrics feel quite poignant to our universal situation – “and the land giving hope”. So many people are getting out into their gardens, or are walking to keep them sane during this strange time .. I also hear that radio stations have had a surge in listeners which tickles me into thinking this song is certainly appropriate!”

Check out ‘Take Back The Radio’ by Katy J Pearson below.

Written by Amy Smolcic 




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EP Review: Hotel Lux – Barstool Preaching

Monday, May 18, 2020
Photo by Jody Evans 

After a string of memorable singles, Portsmouth-formed and now London-based band Hotel Lux have delivered their debut EP Barstool Preaching via Nice Swan Records. They may have originally attracted attention for their impressive singles like ‘The Last Hangman’ and ‘English Disease’, but the EP showcases their growth as a band that's on the rise.

One thing that particularly stands out about Hotel Lux is the unpredictability of their sound — the moment that you think it’s definable, they do something completely different on the next track. It can sometimes take bands their whole career to showcase that level of versatility, but they’ve mastered the skill of keeping listeners guessing. If we had to describe their style, it would be somewhere between Britpop and post-punk, but it’s neither one of them singlehandedly — it’s much more complicated than that.

The EP opens up with the lyrically direct ‘Tabloid Newspaper’ — the track is their honest take on the lies that mainstream media often spin. Next up is ‘Eddie’s Gaff’, which is vibrant and spirited whilst also appearing quite sobering. The swirling and introspective number is an ode to better days. The words, ‘wasting our lives away’, are chanted in unison and are reminiscent of a sing-a-long at the pub. Placed in the middle of the EP is our personal favourite track ‘Charades’. The mysterious song features sharp vocals by Lewis Duffin on the verses before moving into a much hazier chorus — the contrast of these different tones is intriguing.



As we reach the concluding stages of Barstool Preaching, we’re met by ‘Loneliness Of The Stage Performer’. It’s told from the perspective of an idealistic performer who is desperate for validation — including contemplating one’s suicide just to envision the comments they would receive on Facebook. Lyrically, they’re able to capture all facets of this character and it's superb. ‘Ballad Of You & I’ marks the end of the release, leaving listeners with the grand sounds of a trumpet and a reflective sing-a-long.

On their debut offering, Hotel Lux presents a series of tracks that don’t only sound satisfying, but are also vastly entertaining — there’s a lot to love about the band and we’re eagerly awaiting their next move.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)


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Album Review: Choir Boy – Gathering Swans

Friday, May 15, 2020


It’s been a couple of years between albums, but it’s been worth the wait for fans of Salt Lake City band Choir Boy. Their sophomore release, Gathering Swans, is home to an eclectic blend of dream-pop, goth-pop, new wave, 80s synth-pop, and sounds inspired by the New Romantic period. Despite these nostalgic influences, what Choir Boy creates still sounds unique and authentic — in fact, they’re probably doing it better than many bands from the 80s.

There’s a sense of yearning that remains present during the album’s duration — it’s an arc that glues the songs together, resulting in a tracklist that’s cohesive and smooth. The album opens up with ‘It’s Over’, which is ironic given it’s the song that kicks things off. The slow-burning number is graceful and gentle. From the opener, you can get a good sense of what to expect from the tracks that follow — including passionate words, murmurs of heartache, stunning melodies and Klopp’s unique vocal delivery.

Gathering Swans is an impressive release where the album is a highlight in itself, but there are particular moments that stand out. The first being their previous single ‘Toxic Eye’. Led by a trumpet, the anthemic song is impossible to fault. Klopp’s remarkable vocals fuse with the enchanting synths with ease, and in a way, they appear as one. The chorus is also incredibly catchy, and all it takes is one listen for it to be etched in your mind for hours. ‘Complainer’ is a rhythmic and frantic cut, with Klopp’s ethereal vocals having a piercing effect on the listener. ‘Nites Like This’, which follows, is another dazzling highlight. The words, “Falls the night / and deeply sighs our woven melody / nites like this / stars don’t bother to shine / hold me tight / as you and I fade to a memory,” are especially moving. ‘Shatter’, appearing later in the album, is an arresting and all-consuming offering.



The memorable ‘Sweet Candy’ is a charming track that features surf-rock-inspired sounds, but with gothic undertones. It’s a warm and vibrant number, whilst simultaneously remaining melancholic throughout. ‘Sweet Candy’ also provides for one of the more distinct lyrical moments on Gathering Swans, with the words reflecting on a narrative that they created based on a character named ‘Andy’.

The album ends with ‘Happy To Be Bad’ and ‘Gathering Swans’. The first of the tracks doesn’t feel as essential to the record — with it providing the album’s one and only lacking moments. The same can’t be said for the album’s title track, also the grand finale. The closer is elegant and heartbreaking, ensuring that the very near perfect release ends in the right way.

Whereas many bands might fall into the trap of sounding like a cheap knockoff of an 80s band, the same can’t be said for Choir Boy. The band from Salt Lake City are one of the most unique and intriguing bands of our time and their sophomore release reaffirms this.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)



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Now Watching: CHAI – 'Ready Cheeky Pretty’


Dynamic Japanese four-piece CHAI have unleashed their second single of 2020 with their freshly released single ‘Ready Cheeky Pretty’. The release of the track was also shared alongside the accompanying music video, co-directed by YUUKI from the band and Hideto Hotta, with YUUKI also doing the illustrations for the clip.

The fearless single is about self-empowerment according to the band. They said on the single, “KEEP IT REAL! Go back to the real you! It’s all about moving forward and living by instinct! To go forward with the voice of your heart! Nothing symbolizes this more for us than the carefree nature, strength, and purity of a monkey. We pay homage to this in ‘Ready Cheeky Pretty’ because we feel that animals have the ability to be REAL more than humans.”

I think we can all agree that ‘Ready Cheeky Pretty’ is the exact song we all need during these testing times — blast it on-repeat with us below.

Written by Kristy Smolcic 


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Now Playing: Lazarus Kane – 'Night Walking'

Photo by Joshua Atkins

The ever-so-enigmatic Lazarus Kane has returned with a brand new single, this time coming through with ‘Night Walking’. The new track follows in the footsteps of his electric debut single ‘Narcissus’ — one of our top tracks of 2019 — which he released via Speedy Wunderground last year.

The disco-inspired new single was designed for strutting down the street in your finest threads. We could describe the single, but it’s best told in words of Lazarus Kane himself, “‘Night Walking’ was originally written as a Bond theme for ‘Live And Let Die’ back in 1973, however it lost out to Paul McCartney and Wings, whose ingenious use of the surprise reggae section was the cherry on top for Sir Roger Moore. I think I actually wrote this for Saturday Night Fever, but I ended up sending it to the wrong studio. My bad’. Now, with the wonders of modern technology, the song has been re-recorded and updated with the latest specs. Strap in people, it’s about to get weird.”

Take a step inside Lazarus Kane's world with ‘Night Walking’ below.

Written by Kristy Smolcic 


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Now Playing: Pottery – 'Hot Heater'

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Photo by Brooke Rutner 

With the release of their highly anticipated debut album Welcome To Bobby’s Motel fast approaching, Montreal band Pottery have served up another tasty preview of what they have coming up with their brand new single ‘Hot Heater’. The track is set to join previous tracks ‘Hot Like Jungle’, ‘Take Your Time’ and ‘Texas Drum Pt I’ on the album.

The intoxicating single is the band’s attempt at creating a “disco song with a robotic feeling”, and they’ve knocked it out of the park. The band said on the single, “Austin was originally really interested in heat as a musical concept/feeling — some of the early album titles we threw around were Hot Hot Hot and Sun Fever — and there are a bunch of other heat references on the album [see previous single “Hot Like Jungle”]. In the studio he’d be joking around and yelling stuff at us like “Let’s make it hot!” right before a take. A lot of that didn’t end up totally sinking in, but some did… like on this song.”

Each cut from the album has been just as impressive as the next, and ‘Hot Heater’ is yet another sign that Welcome To Bobby’s Motel is about to be one of the most talked about albums of the year.

Written by Amy Smolcic 


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Interview: Sports Team on the chaos and building a community

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Photo by David Titlow

“A lot of them generally don’t like our band. I’m not saying it as a gimmick or anything like that,” says Sports Team frontman Alex Rice. Many bands might say they have a close relationship with their fans, but no-one does it quite like Sports Team do.

The six-piece openly share their personal contact numbers through their WhatsApp group, they don’t hide where they live, and just like mates do, there is often back-and-forth roasting between the band and their fans.

Rice admits that to outsiders, it all might come across as a little ‘cult-ish’, but it’s all part of the chaos of Sports Team. Their shows, which have the energy and buzz of a world-class travelling circus, bring in an array of attendees — there’s the die-hard fans, people who love to hate the band, and those who don’t even like the band at all. The latter two are part of why they have one of the most intriguing fanbases around.

Even for the fans who aren’t into them, Rice ensures that they’re going to have a good time at a Sports Team show too. “They come in and then they’re involved in this thing whether they like it or not. So you end up with a more diverse cross section of people. They say, ‘we’re going to the Sports Team show tonight’ because that’s where their mates are going. So they all meet up through that and it’s still fun whether you hate or love the music”



Sports Team are arguably one of the most talked about UK bands of the last two years. Sometimes it’s because of the music, but many times it’s because Rice has called out another band or made a comment, usually giving a UK music publication a one-liner to run with. There’s also the unavoidable opinions some commentators have about the band’s origin story — meeting whilst studying at Cambridge — and using it as a way of questioning their privilege or wrongfully asserting that they’re conservative (the band are firm and vocal Labour supporters).

They’re not asking for sympathy — Rice notes that the comments don’t bother them too much, but they hate to see their fans dragged into a fictitious narrative. “I think our fans are really diverse people. They're a group of fans that span class, gender and borders and live in completely different parts of the UK,” says Rice. And if you do have any questions for the band, they aren’t afraid to answer them. “If you want to ask us about politics or our backgrounds, anyone can ask. We’re always really open, we never lie to people.”

Inaccurate narratives aside, what Sports Team have done is create a community of young people who may feel like they’re at a crossroad or might feel overcome by ambition but are trapped in a 9 to 5 job that they hate — in fact, it was only a few years ago where they were in the same predicament as some of their fans, which is why they’re able to connect with their fanbase at the level they do. Fresh out of university, they all found themselves working jobs whilst playing shows on the side. Their debut album Deep Down Happy captures this period of uncertainty.

“When we first got to London, we always had the sense that we were working,  being in a band, and that’s it. It’s comfortable and it's prosaic and it's fine and we're lucky to be in this situation. We've always been told this is a lucky, happy situation, so this is what you think you’re supposed to be doing.”

But they still had a lingering sense of wanting more. “We always would come home every night and think, there must be more to this. This feels crushing. It doesn't feel like enough. And so I think that a lot of the band was spawned out of that. This sense of yearning that I think a lot of people in their mid-twenties in general have. About just wanting more out of life and feeling like there should be something more transcendent than a steady march to retirement”



“The album's bookended by the line: if you want to find love you can always move to London. And the Deep Down Happy title also, I think is just this questioning tone, it's saying, has our alternative model made us happy? That we're all still living together, we're a bit older now. Do we still like it? Are we still a really good group of mates? Is this the best thing in the world or is this actually just really scrappy living that's worse than before?”

For them at first, it was about the parties and messy live shows. “I think you get a lot of bands that start off as quite proficient bedroom producers and then the live stuff comes after,” says Rice. “When we first started and we first recorded we were quite amateurish about it. We went into the studio for the first few times and realised we couldn't play to a click and it was actually really hard to record a song that sounded the way we wanted it to.”

Instead, they focussed their attention on live shows and developing the songs after testing them out during a gig. Having played approximately 150 shows last year, it was near impossible for them to spend any extended period locked away in a studio. “We’ve always had that quite scrappy lifestyle around when we were recording it. So I think you hear a lot of the personalities of us and the dynamics between us and how much we probably annoyed each other at the time.”

Outside of the band, Sports Team keep occupied with their own imprint, Holm Front, which they haven’t only used to release previous singles of their own, but to also share a single with Glasgow up-and-comers Walt Disco, as well as music with Amsterdam-based band Personal Trainer. According to Rice, they have big plans for the label and have a couple of bands they are looking to work with.

Whether it’s through the shared experience of a live show or writing a song that perfectly captures the mundanity of working a tedious job, Sports Team know how to relate to twenty-somethings trying to figure life out. Deep down, they're after something that's bigger and more profound than the quick headlines and one-liners in the media. "We've tried to build this community of fans around it, that's been a big part of why we do this, and I think the bigger the music gets the more you can do that, which is brilliant."


Sports Team's debut album Deep Down Happy will be released on June 19th. Click here to purchase it. 


Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

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Now Watching: Sleep Eaters – 'In This Town'

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


London-based country-garage five-piece Sleep Eaters have returned with a brand new single, this time coming through with their twangy new number ‘In This Town’ (via PNKSLM Recordings). The single comes after sharing their impressive debut EP Holy Days in August of last year. The band are currently prepping up to share their first full-length release, which will hopefully be out later in the year.

One listen of Sleep Eaters’ howling new single and you would think the band were gunslingers from the Wild West. ‘In This Town’ is about the burning sense of wanting bigger things for yourself, but instead you're feeling confined and stuck — which is only fitting given the world's current circumstances. The accompanying video compliments the American influences brimming in the brooding single through the grainy and picturesque clips of American towns and neon signs.

Dive into ‘In This Town’ by Sleep Eaters below.

Written by Amy Smolcic





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Now Playing: Meadow Meadow – 'Bonzo'

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Meadow Meadow, the project of Peter Darlington and James Green, has this week released their superb debut single ‘Bonzo’ via Practise Music. The single is the first song they wrote together for their new project and was written remotely between Manchester and London.

After departing their previous band, writing together was a cathartic experience for them both. Through their music, the duo draws upon memories as well as their shared experience of growing up in towns surrounded by the beauty of nature.

Peter said on the single, “‘Bonzo’ was the first song we wrote together that we felt captured the direction of where we wanted to go creatively. It’s about an experience I had riding a bus in the evening to my old hometown that I hadn’t visited for a few years. The journey evoked a slightly surreal nostalgia and I began piecing together some forgotten experiences and memories from my childhood.”

Listen to ‘Bonzo’ by Meadow Meadow below.

Written by Amy Smolcic


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Now Playing: The Ninth Wave – 'Happy Days!'

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Photo by Nuala Swan

After a breakthrough year, Glasgow’s own The Ninth Wave have unleashed their first song of 2020 with ‘Happy Days!’. The track follows the release of their impressive debut album Infancy last year and will feature on their new EP, due on July 17th via Distiller Records.

The striking number features an entrancing rhythm, shifting beats, ambient sections and the absorbing vocals of Haydn Park-Patterson. According to the band, they set out to experiment with a much darker sound this time around. “Happy Days! is a song of ups and downs. At its core, the lyrics shine a torchlight on the murky highs and lows of life. We wanted to make something harsher and more direct than songs we had written before, and this came together relatively quickly.”

Also adding, “The flow of the song really captures what we were trying to get across with the lyrics: there's a rumbling undertow throughout the whole song, interspersed with ethereal ambient sections and culminating in big nasty crushing beats. We all agreed that this should be the first song from our new EP to let people hear, and hopefully they're not frightened away.”

From the sounds of ‘Happy Days!’, The EP is going to be a must-listen. Until then, play the single on-repeat below.

Written by Amy Smolcic 


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Now Playing: Arlo Parks – 'Black Dog'

Photo by Charlie Cummings

Arlo Parks has returned with her second single of the year, this time sharing ‘Black Dog’ (via Transgressive) — which follows in the footsteps of ‘Eugene’. Over the space of approximately 18 months, Arlo Parks has left listeners moved with her poignant words and ‘Black Dog’ is yet another beautiful addition to her remarkable collection of releases.

Her reflective number was inspired by a feeling of helplessness after watching a loved one face mental health battles. She said, “It's supposed to make people who are struggling feel less isolated and start a conversation surrounding the prevalence of mental health issues in today's world.” Along with sharing the single, she also recently became an ambassador for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).

Listen to Arlo Parks’ mesmerising new single ‘Black Dog’ below.
  
Written by Amy Smolcic 


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Now Playing: Sinead O’Brien – 'Roman Ruins'

Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Photo by Nicholas O’Donnell

Irish poet and performer Sinead O’Brien has shared yet another gem with her brand new single ‘Roman Ruins’ (via Chess Club Records). Once again, O’Brien proves why she is one of the most exciting songwriters around right now through her dazzling fusion of poetry and absorbing observations. The track is set to feature on her upcoming debut EP Drowning in Blessings, which is due for release in the coming months. ‘Roman Ruins’ was also produced by Speedy Wunderground’s own Dan Carey.

According to O’Brien, the startling number was written during a series of moments of heightened awareness whilst in a mansion in Hampstead with around fifty other people. She said, “All four of my bedroom walls faced a different room or hallway. It was set up like a boxing ring. I could hear multiple narratives, coming from all directions even in my sleep. There were ‘episodes’ reeling in my mind through the night and into morning. The relentless sounds, conversations. Images from the lyrics are also heard in the musical arrangement. ‘Standing still will kill you’; This shuffling drum, checking in and out like the rug pulling from underneath the feet. Unsettling the foundations. Revealing the ground under. The drum has this magnetic raw power over the other elements - almost tidal. I love this bossiness.”

Explore the magic of Sinead O’Brien and her new single ‘Roman Ruins’ below.

Written by Amy Smolcic



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Feature: Breaking the Ice with Jazzboy

Monday, May 4, 2020
Photo by Louise Desnos 

Parisian avant-pop auteur Jazzboy recently announced his 10-track double-EP Jazzapocalypse, which will be out in the world on June 5th. He has also unveiled a preview of what's to come with the video for his latest single and the EP's title track. On the self-directed video, he said, "The idea for the video was to illustrate the feeling of an inner-apocalypse, in a fantasylike, Shakespearian fashion. It’s the violent tale of a dying butterfly witnessing the birth of a brand new one. It’s about metamorphosis, cycles of love, death and rebirth." To celebrate the video and his upcoming release, he took some time out of his day to answer some quick-fire questions for us.

What have you been up to today?

Tried to put a set of electric guitar strings on my old nylon acoustic guitar, which seemed to work.

Last song you listened to?

An unreleased banger from my best friend Demon V

Best gift you've ever received?

My first electric guitar, because it was my little door to enter the world of music.

Best book you've read?

Sexy by Joyce Carol Oates

Last tv show you binge-watched?

I kind of stopped watching tv shows a few years ago so I can't really remember, probably Breaking Bad or The Sopranos.

What's your 'perfect day' involve?

My girlfriend and my friends, music, movies, skateboarding, cooking, boxing, partying, sleeping......

What kind of secret society would you start?

A non-violent one

Favourite dinosaur?

Diplodocus

Last Youtube video you watched?

A video about the accident that happened in Villeneuve-la-Garenne involving the police and a young man on a bike, that broke his leg.

Have you ever texted the wrong person?

Yes

Last dream that you can remember?

I was playing a show, but it was weird.

Favourite hiding spot?

La Creuse.

Favourite music video?

"The Picture" by my twin brother Ryder The Eagle.

What ice cream flavour would you invent?

Ultra Vanilla

What planet would you move to?

I wanna stay on earth and save it :'(

Favourite soundtrack?

It's a hard one... Maybe Aguirre, the Wrath of God by Popol Vuh. And more recently, absolutely loved Mica Levi's soundtrack to Monos.

Title of your future memoir?

Ahaha I wouldn't write that.

Dream place to play a show?

Any snowy place.

Check out 'Jazzapocalypse' below:





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Feature: The Ingredients of Floatr with Happyness

Friday, May 1, 2020
Photo by Holly Whitaker 

London-based band Happyness, featuring Jonny Allan and Ash Kenazi, have today shared their brand new album Floatr via Infinit Suds. Over the space of a few years, they underwent a series of changes — describing that particular period of time in a statement as, "the best and worst years of our lives." Learn more about the influences that shaped Floatr with Happyness below.

Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron
Daniel Clowes is a well-known cartoonist/graphic novelist, probably best known for writing Ghostworld. "Like a Velvet Glove Cast In Iron" is an early-ish graphic novel of his. It’s noir-y and super weird and mysterious and has a ton of amazing characters like a dog who was born with no orifices that has to be given a special injection every day to stay alive.

The Glory
After Ash came out he needed to find an alternate space to develop his drag. The Glory is a super-inclusive space in London with hella good vibes and is ALWAYS decorated really well. There are a bunch of amazing drag acts who put on regular nights there. We started going there halfway through writing Floatr and it gave us a place to feel ok about ourselves. It also features quite heavily in our music video for 'Vegetable'.



Dark Star
(*Spoiler warning*)

This was John Carpenter's first film, it started as a student film, and got made longer later. There’s a scene in it where a beach ball with feet chases an astronaut around a spaceship that the whole movie Alien was based on (the guy being chased is the guy who wrote Alien, and co-wrote Dark Star). The sound is super eerie, there's loads of crackly space noise. Also there’s a scene at the end where a guy has to talk a sentient bomb out of exploding and killing them all which was kind of an early blueprint for Floatr.

Adrianne Lenker 
Queer Icon, songwriting hero, legendary slayer of guitars.

NO MAG
NO MAG is a punk zine from California in the late 70s early 80s. It’s stylistically awesome and has features on a ton of bands that went on to become super iconic. Some of the content has definitely aged really fucking badly, to the point where we were gonna pass on mentioning it, but a lot of the art and words are absolute gold. Also it’s founder Bruce Kalberg was crazy on maybe a Tiger King level. He used to go everywhere with a liver on his head and ended up shooting a friend of his, but getting let off for some reason. We're not glamorising him at all, he sounds like a psycho, (there are other ways to attack polite society, like putting on a bodysuit and slut-dropping), but there's some cool stuff in his zine. The whole thing is online here.

Listen to Floatr by Happyness:


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