The 1975 frontman Matt Healy is a very smart boy, albeit one caught up in the temptations of the human mind, exaggerated by the pleasures and pains of being a bit of a rock star. Yet, like all 20-somethings, he has energy, passion, and confidence in abundance. Along with the help of his childhood friends and bandmates, he also has the wherewithal to channel these qualities into artistic pursuits, that while having countless detractors, is pure and brilliant enough for The 1975 to become perhaps the biggest and most important indie band of the decade, a very rare beast of an alt-pop band to be still having top 40 single hits. If they can keep it together, there could be no stopping them becoming bigger still, perhaps the biggest 21st century band of them all.
The Vaccines’ Combat Sports was released in the spring of 2018. That it ever saw the light of day was a testament to the band’s inner belief, but a belief that had been badly dented by the departure of founding member Pete Robertson, in mid-2016, after the completion of their third album; the less-than well received English Graffiti. There had also been some well-publicised inter-band fighting, most notably between Freddie Cowan and Justin Hayward-Young.
Since we last interviewed Pale Waves, in 2017, the Manchester four-piece have been making much bigger waves with their infectious and upbeat indie-pop. Label mates with The 1975, they only performed their first headline show two years ago, and since then their debut album, My Mind Makes Noises, has reached the top ten. Having already performed in New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden with The 1975, they are about to go out on tour again with them, including a date in Brighton. We caught up with guitarist and frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie, to talk about The 1975, and the whirlwind that has been the fast and furious rise of Pale Waves.
You Tell Me have forged something bright and bold, a work that largely marries the personal lyricism of Hayes, with the production and multi-instrumentalist skills of Brewis. Low key on the surface, less grand than what we are used to with Field Music, and recorded in a very short space of time, it is still full to the brim with sparklingly short and inventive orchestral-pop vignettes that place melody at the forefront. A minor triumph.
This was a night of mixed emotions. On the plus side, the Brighton-formed Blood Red Shoes are back in action, following a near split, and with a new album due for release in the new year. The dynamic duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell are roaring back into life. However, for Sticky Mike’s, the flame is shortly to be extinguished, this coming New Year’s Eve, to be exact. It will be the end of a long road (barring some miracle of re-birth) for the venue that has been a multitude of incarnations since the 90s. Blood Red Shoes became alerted to its imminent closure and decided that they wanted to be a part of the tearful farewell, quickly organising this show.
Sussex’s Love Supreme festival has announced that Madeleine Peyroux, Kamaal Williams, and 22-time Grammy-winning Latin-jazz pianist Chick Corea will join the line-up for the 2019 edition, which takes place from 5th – 7th July, in Glynde Place.
These three top line acts join festival favourites Snarky Puppy – who played the first Love Supreme festival back in 2013 – Jamie Cullum, and Gladys Knight, who were all announced a couple of weeks ago.
Guitar music has had a bit of a rough time of late. The 00s represented its last great heyday, when the likes of The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, The Zutons, Arctic Monkeys, and The Kooks et al, bestrode the world stage, guitars, drums and bass at its beating heart. The internet was young, smartphones did not exist, singles still mattered, Brtipop a fresh memory, and mainstream radio continued to shine a light on the classic pop-rock formula, via beat combos with six-strings at its epicentre. Johnny Borrell still loves his rock’n’roll, but he is under no illusions that the landscape has changed, and not for the best, in his opinion. “It’s not very fashionable at the moment. Every song in the charts is by Rita Ora, isn’t it?” he claims. “It sounds like it, I can’t really tell the difference. There’s no B or C list anymore. There’s A and D. A is absolute bullshit right now, bands pretending to be electro-pop or that millenial electro-pop thing which is the same fucking melody for every song, which is dog shit. Or you’ve got D, which is really underground, and alternative. I can see those things going on, but B and C is just being wiped out. I think the thing that was great ten years ago, even on mainstream radio, you would have some big Dre-produced thing, followed by Kaiser Chiefs, followed by Outkast, followed by Gnarls Barkley, followed by The Zutons or Razorlight or Libertines. There was much more variety. Some people send me links to stuff on YouTube. Too many bands use click tracks. Quite often, I can’t tell the difference between the advert, and when the song begins.”
Bristol’s band of the moment Idles, have captured the imagination in a way few have been able to do in recent times. In lead singer Joe Talbot they have a lightning rod for some of the most pressing and talked about malaises of these times; men’s vulnerabilities being at the top of the list, along with fear of immigrants, stoked nationalism, toxic masculinity, and class warfare. Celebration and communion are at the heart of Idles, in a way that Killing Joke epitomised at the height of their powers in the 80s; a kind of open-armed tribal-punk catharsis, that pulls zero punches. With a roaring, groove-based post-punk band behind him, Idles are one of the best live acts around, as they mesh up Swans, with Birthday Party and The Fall, and transport this to the 21st century. They were able to transcend splintering genres to sell out this gig in one day, and next year’s follow up at the Dome, also in almost no time at all. A remarkable band for these extraordinary times.
Shoegaze legends Ride aren’t known as an acoustic band. Their huge, melodic noise rides waves of ethereal vocals and guitars. They did (and still) do it well, and that was the reason people got into them in the first place. It may seem strange for a band to want to do this. Yet, like Nirvana, who helped pave the way for stripping things back via their legendary MTV Unplugged sessions of the early 90s, it is perhaps surprising how effective it can be. Especially if it’s in the right setting.
Every year for the past nine years, Jay McAllister, aka Beans on Toast, has released an album on his birthday, 1st December. Beginning with the sprawling 50-track debut, Standing On A Chair, recorded and produced over the course of a weekend by one Ben Lovett, of subsequent Mumford & Sons fame, it was done in the loft of his parent’s house.