Dilly Dally – Green Door Store – 27th January 2016

Where were Dilly Dally hiding for the duration of 2015? On their debut Sore, the Toronto group filtered all the best bits of alternative rock into a cohesive album packed with consistently great song writing. And yet it totally passed me by, as I’m sure it did for many others, not getting an ounce of the exposure or praise that it rightfully deserved. When local and touring support band Tigercub takes to the stage however, the room is already packed. Proving that if the music is good enough, there will be people who want to listen to it.

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Songs of Innocence and Experience: revisiting the Arctic Monkeys debut ten years later

My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk. – Colin Barrett, Young Skins

To be honest, The Strokes were really a big deal for us. That was a gateway to a lot of other music for me. There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15 years old that manages to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception of things. – Alex Turner

Alex Turner should be commemorated for being such a humble dude in the above quote, when you consider that for many of a certain age, Arctic Monkeys were exactly that band. Something it seems unlikely, he would be completely oblivious to. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not was an early example of a band translating Internet hype into commercial success, becoming the fastest selling British debut ever. But in a way, it was also one of the last albums to do so. Arctic Monkeys arrived in that very short-lived period of time where both forms of musical consumption existed simultaneously. A band's Internet exposure could almost be directly translated into real world sales. Ten years on, there’s a rather large dissonance between what’s being hyped online and the music topping the charts.

It wasn’t just the impact on the music industry that makes Whatever People Say I Am… a significant release. It was responsible for producing a voice that hadn’t really been heard before in British guitar music and in turn, went on to produce a whole wave of imitators. Much in the same way The Strokes re-ignited rock music in the USA in 2001, with Julian Casablanca channelling the boredom and restlessness a new millennium brought with it. Super-trendy Brooklyn however, had been replaced by the outer-reaches of Sheffield as the battleground where a new generation was trying to find its voice. At the tender age of 13, what was instantly appealing about Whatever People Say I Am… was its sardonic streak; Alex Turner kept the outside world at bay with a sharp tongue and an impeccable eye for observation. It was incredibly appealing and an empowering tool for navigating the obstacles of puberty. But returning to the album a decade later, there is more to it than just detached irony. There is an affection for the world it is describing and the characters that inhabit it.

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No Ditching – West Hill Hall – 16th January 2016

With DIY venues and culture currently booming in the UK. The U.S magazine and website The Fader, usually known for covering the next up-and-coming rap star, recently published an article on the DIY venues popping up around the country. But considering the DIY spirit of so much of the music coming out of Brighton, its strange there isn’t really an equivalent space here. The West Hill Hall isn’t entirely a DIY music venue, the other days of the week it’s putting on swing lessons and yoga classes. But promoters Dictionary Pudding and Feminist punk Riots Not Diets are definitely onto the right track by putting a significant portion of their shows on here.

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Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

 

“What is emotional mugging?” Ty Segall rhetorically asks us in a video preview for his new record, mocking the ‘you believe what I say because I’m in a lab coat’ bullshit of pseudo-scientific adverts, as Casio keyboard muzak plays in the background. Luckily Dr Segall is on hand to explain it to us: “a response to our hyper-digital sexual landscape … and essential practice in the age of digital intimacy … non-verbal and non-physical emotional exchange”. What he’s getting at is a well-trodden path by this point. Instead of bringing us closer together, technology is actually pushing us further away from each other and making any sort of meaningful connection more difficult.

Its unclear whether Segall really is trying to make a point about contemporary human relations with this new album or if this is purposefully obfuscating jargon. But if you’re using ‘Breakfast Eggs’ as an example, it doesn’t suggest any such nuanced approach to human relations. “Candy, I want your candy” he purrs, and it sounds more like a sordid late night encounter in a car park involving wandering hands, rather than a thoughtful reflection on technologies influence of emotional intimacy. ‘Emotional Mugging’ probably doesn’t have any fixed meaning, merely a juxtaposition that helps capture the “this is so wrong but it feels so right” sleaze everything on this album has been thickly coated in. This thing is dirty. Like weird smelling stuff under your fingernails kind of dirty, and a huge sound so all encompassing, it almost sucks the oxygen right out of the room.

But all the adjectives that you could attach to a raw, lo-fi garage record like this seems to detract from just how listenable a record it is. This thing grooves, and has melody in spades. Even calling it lo-fi feels like a disservice, when so much of the records sound and texture goes into making its queasy atmosphere and feel. The distortion on ‘Diversion’ is nothing short of monstrous and gives the run of the mill garage rock tune an undercurrent of bubbling anxiety. “Let’s ride” he suggests in ‘Emotional Mugger/Leopard Priestess’, but there’s a subconscious knowledge the good times are eventually going to burn out. The strange disjointed rhythm and toy-like organ sound on ‘Squealer’ makes a kind of deranged kids TV theme song. In fact the unconventional use of syncopation on much of this record goes a long way to creating its madcap landscape.

‘California Hills’ lurches between a Black Sabbath riff and frantic, sped up spasms. A bit like someone is fast-forwarding on a cassette to get to the good part again. “American Nightmare/ jilted generation / fingers on the pulse of their parents alienation” goes the chorus. The L.A the Ty is singing about is the same seedy and meretricious L.A of Ariel Pink and even a little bit David Lynch. Segall is perfectly happy spending his time with the freaks, the scumbags and the burnouts. ‘Candy Sam’, ‘Mandy Cream’ … in the most literal sense possible, these people sound like very unsavoury characters to be hanging around with. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make for interesting company. They’re the kind of people to show you the cities underbelly and teach you how to scratch it just right. All these characters come alive through Segalls’ vocals. He can sound coyly effeminate or drop his voice down to a low, deep croak, often adopting different voices in a single line. In ‘Big Baby Man (I Want a Mommy)’ he lets out an infantile sigh and the effect is nothing short of unnerving.

‘W.U.O.T.W.S’ is a simple but very effective narrative-framing device. After all the debauchery we’re left with sonic snippets of previous songs bleeding in. It’s the swirling happening in your soup for brains as you begin to regain consciousness at try and piece together what you just put your body through. Did I really say that? Did that really happen? ‘The Magazine’ is the comedown that follows, and all the paranoia and cold sweats that come with it. Insistent disembodied handclaps ring out and its like coming to the realisation that these racing thoughts aren’t going to be stopping any time soon.

I’ve never been a total Ty Segall devotee. To me he has always been the super prolific garage rocker that we had to settle for after the tragic loss of Jay Reatard. If you want evidence Reatard was the more interesting songwriter, compare his wilfully oddball Matador Singles ’08 compilation and Segall’s own competent but more by the numbers Singles 2007 -2010. But on Emotional Mugger Segall’s produced a record that lives in its own fully formed universe. There’s a strange darkness to this album and something almost hellish in the hedonism it revels in. I won’t pretend to have listened to everything Segall has put out, its an intimidatingly large catalogue to say the least. But if this isn’t one of the best things he’s ever done, then I should have been paying more attention.

Louis Ormesher
 

Website: emotionalmugger.com

 

 

The Beatles

The music industry at the moment sometimes feels like one of those photos from the end of the Vietnam War, people dangling off helicopters, as there’s a massive scramble to escape. Adele has been choppered out and pulled the rope ladder up behind her, Taylor Swift might be able to haul herself in, but everyone else is loosing their grip and about to plummet into the sea. But the Nielsen U.S. Year-End Report on the industry points to another potential getaway vehicle: Streaming! Percentage wise it's up rather a lot, audio streams in 2015 increased a whopping 83% on their 2014 numbers.

The Beatles, probably the most celebrated discography in the entire history of popular music, suddenly becoming available on all of these platforms seems to also point towards this as the industry’s next hope. As a catalogue, its resisted modern forms of music consumption at every turn, in fact it wasn’t until 2010 that their albums became available on iTunes. This is the direction music listening is heading, and to resist seems like a form of Luddite stubbornness. Ignoring streaming risks the danger of alienating the ever-allusive ‘millennial market’ (hint: the reason why its so hard to get us to buy anything is because we’re all broke).

But not everyone is happy about the future. In 2015 Taylor Swift pulled her catalogue from services such as Spotify, and Tidal was launched in opposition to the unfair royalties paid to artists. A seemingly well-intentioned venture that was marred by being fronted by a bunch of really, really rich people, making it look like a conspiracy of some new world order. Whether streaming in its current form is a viable source of income for artists is another debate. But seems an odd target when you consider these artists happily feature their songs on Youtube, a website with an abysmal record for paying royalties, whilst absolutely dwarfing pretty much every audio streaming service combined when you look the number of users and songs listened to on the website.

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Gang – Interview – 2016

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. Yep, it’s two men fighting to the death amongst the soil, one entirely naked, the other a hunter trying to track him. I’m afraid you’ve stumbled into the deranged and carnal world that the video for Gang’s new single ‘Animalia’ inhabits. Big, slow and as fuzzy as a woolly mammoth, Gang’s music brings together the density of doom and stoner metal with a melodic sweetness and flourishes of kaleidoscopic colour. It’s like if Electric Wizard had grown up on The Byrds as much as Black Sabbath, or if someone had put a bit of 60’s tie-dye colouring in their grey and ashy bong water.
 
Last week they celebrated their single release with a righteous show at the Green Door Store before setting off on their first tour around our green pastures. I communicated with guitarist Eric via invisible waves of electromagnetic radiation (the internet) to see if he might tell us some more stuff.
 
Who are you and what do you want from us?
I am Eric. I'm in a band with my buddy Joe and my brother Jimi. All we want is a nice, clean fight.
 
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Going to see Iron Maiden when I was 7 and Jimi was 9. We thought Eddie was real.
 
What was the record that made you realise you wanted to be in a band?
Probably Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavoured Water by Limp Bizkit. I got that when I was 7 and thought it was the raddest shit ever. Soon after that my dad showed me Nirvana and I told him it wasn't heavy enough for me.
 
Outside of music, what else inspires you?
Everything except love.
 
You’ve got a new AA-Side about to come out but each side feels very different tonally from the other. ‘Animalia’ is more typically heavy but ‘Breath Before Death’ feels much dreamier. Was creating that contrast and tension intentional?
Absolutely. It's a goal of ours to represent both sides of that spectrum.  Life can be beautiful and dreamy, Life can be very heavy.
 
How involved are you in the production aspect of things? I vaguely recall you saying you did ‘Animalia’ basically yourself. 
Yeah, I've recorded and mastered all of our stuff so far. We do it in our garage turned studio back in Kent (where we're originally from) with some nice old gear and a big old live room.
 
How do you get such a massive sound? What’s your setup?
I think we kind of just learned to play heavy. We've not drop-tuned yet (surprise, surprise), partly because we think it's more interesting to work out ways to make something sound big without just giving it more bottom end. The time will come though.
 
Breath Before Death’ is a bit of a departure for you sonically, what inspired that song?
Jimi wrote it after he put too many plants in his body and had a series of deathly panic attacks.
 
Your videos always have some pretty unique concepts. How involved are you in making them?
Our friend Chris Wade (Dogbrain videos) has made all of our videos thus far. We've always been very involved with the process in the past, who knows what the future may hold. Maybe we'll lose all creative control.
 
Has the music scene in Brighton or living here had any influence on your music? 
Not particularly. Joe and I moved down a year and a half ago because Jimi was studying here, and we wanted to try and do the band thing. At the point we moved we already had an idea of what we wanted to do, and it's just grown very organically since then. Brighton and its music scene are rad, but I think we'd be pretty much the same band if we were elsewhere. Brighton's a sweet platform for creative stuff though, which is why we like it here.
 
You’re heading off on tour this month, what can people expect if they venture out to see you?
Severe discomfort.
 
Who would be the headliners of your dream festival (dead or alive)? 
Probably the first caveman who played music because he was a true original.
 
Apart from Gang, who else should people be listening to at the moment?
Their parents, the government, corporations etc.
 
What other gang/criminal organisation would you like to belong to?
Avon's crew in The Wire.
 
Who do you wish you could collaborate with?
Keith and Orville.
 
What was the last gig you caught that really made an impression on you?
Kagoule at The Green Door Store's 5th Birthday party was super peng.
 
What else does 2016 hold in store for Gang?
Many beautiful things that only the slow unveiling nature of time will reveal.
 
Classic stoner metal album showdown: Electirc Wizard’s Dopethrone or Sleep’s Dopesmoker?
After much deliberation we can't decide. Instead I'm going to say Dry Hitter by the band Dopethrone, even though it's not quite as good as either of them (it's still sick).
 
And finally, what strain would you recommend for listening to Gang’s music?
Mutant Psychosis.
 
Website: gangband.co.uk
 
 
 

Star of David

At the time of writing, over Forty-eight hours have passed since the news. The essays and tributes are still flooding in and here I am, still reading them. The reason why is that so many of these eulogies feel so personal and subjective; I’m not reading the same biographical details over and over. By and large, people are using Bowie to talk about themselves.

We’re both asked to sit down and write what images, sounds and memories come to mind when we think of David Bowie. The chances are we’ll both end up with a very different list. Here are some of things that might be on mine:

For me its buying a CD of Low when I was fourteen for £5 from Resident, hearing ‘Sound and Vision’ for the first time and feeling as electric as the blue coloured room he’s singing about. Years later, I’m watching the scene from The Man who Fell to Earth that the album cover is a still from. He’s standing at the end of a dock looking out onto the water, like Gatsby pining for Daisy’s green light.

It’s finding a list of his favourite books online whilst an English literature student, and being thrilled we both shared a penchant for Japanese author Yukio Mishima. A web of possibilities between different art forms is opening up, all pulling from and influencing each other.

It’s the howl of despair on ‘Word on a Wing’. He sounds like he’s been carved out, totally hollow and desperate for something to ignite feeling within him. He sings about “this age of grand illusion” and it sounds so baroque compared to any conception I have of the world. I’m beginning to realise music can just as strongly produce the sensation of absence as it can emotion. I’m beginning to finally articulate depression.

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Alex Calder – Prince Albert – 6th December 2015

Having previously shared a stage with Mac Demarco when he was in Makeout Videotape, Alex Calder is subject to endless comparisons with his former band mate. What he does share with him is an interest in classic song writing, even if it is filtered through his own weird sensibilities. His sound however is much stranger, often recalling Deerhunter at their most disorientated and fugue-like.

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Martin Newell – The Greys – 26th November 2015

Outside The Grey’s tonight it looks like any normal evening down the pub, but inside one of the most underrated British songwriters of a generation is performing to a hand full of people. Its an astoundingly intimate show, so much so that a few members of the audience treat it as just another night down their regular, much to the visible irritation of some of the other punters, but overall the atmosphere is cosy and relaxed. Performing at what Martin Newell assures us is a kitchen table with a single bottle of hair spray on it; it’s the ideal setting to bring out the distinctly British eccentricity in Newell’s song writing.

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TRAAMS – Modern Dancing

Brighton may be TRAAMS’ surrogate home, their meshing of krautrock complexity and an indie sensibility has made them reliable regulars on the local DIY scene over the last few years, and this new one is out on Brighton’s very own Fat Cat Records. But on their 2013 debut Grin, it was very much their original home of Chichester that was the main influence in forming that album's sound. The frustration of growing up in a vacuum, and wanting to create art in a place that offers no opportunities or places to do so. It’s this feeling they harnessed to create their affronting and abrasive sound.
 
With the small-town ennui exorcised from the band’s psychology, on Modern Dancing, TRAAMS feel much freer. More content with their place in music and the world generally. Guitarist and singer Stu Hopkins describes it as “a more positive record” and while it may be less overtly angry or frustrated, this still seems like something of an overstatement. Instead it occupies an emotionally ambiguous zone, more interested in the physical aspects of music. It almost completely circumvents emotional intelligence and goes straight for the subconscious operations happening in the body. “I see you dancing”, Hopkins observes on ‘Modern Dancing’, “and I know you can’t help it”. It could very easily be the listeners of the very record he’s singing on that he’s addressing, pre-empting the automatic response his own music creates.
 
It all starts with a rumble of static and clattering percussion, almost like a palette cleanser before the album starts. But instead offering a sorbet, its more like someone trying to sandpaper off the nerve endings on your tongue. With that out of the way we can get to business with ‘Costner’, there’s no slow atmospheric opener here, just a solid piece of self-propelled dance-punk rhythms as the guitar draws out long and sustained notes.
 
Hopkins’ voice has a catch and bark in his voice that is reminiscent of Yannis Philipakis on the first Foals record. Much like that band early on, there’s also an interest in the effects of repetition in lyrics. TRAAMS lyrics are largely built up from these repeated phrases, the rhythms and cadences the words create is of just as much interest as what their actual meaning is. But married with the music they can very effectively create a particular mood or atmosphere. ‘Succulent Thunder Anthem’ warns “that there’s ice on the road / please don’t slip / and break your neck”, and it sounds suitably threatening and ominous sang along with a pulsing bassline. You get the sense that secretly Hopkin’s is hoping you really do slip. There are the typical expressions you get in a radio friendly song as well, except the context of the music surrounding them sets them slightly aslant. ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme (Love)’ could be a punk tune about unrequited love in the spirit of a Buzzcocks track, but the chord progression never goes exactly where you expect it will.
 
The rhythm section is what drives all of the songs here, the taught interplay between the bass and drums allows for the guitar and vocals to be free roaming and looser. It’s a much more streamlined effort than its predecessor. There are no seven-minute-plus krautrock jams complete with extended bass solos like on Grin. Lean and stripped of fat, nothing is added that doesn’t perform some kind of essential function.
 
Almost counter-intuitively the title track is the band sounding their most fatigued. The tempo is lethargic and the guitar ops for the loose-wrist strumming of indie bands such as Pavement. ‘Bite Mark’ is built from stiff rhythm stabs and a guitar part that brings a bit of warmth, only for it to be quickly and mercilessly snatched away. As the song progresses it slowly begins to defrost, everything becomes slacker and more relaxed, as if all the muscle tension is slowly being released.
 
The central contradiction of ‘Modern Dancing’ is what makes it such a rewarding listen worthy of repeated listens. On one side it’s a very human album, three guys writing together in a room and coming out with a record that sounds very much just like that. But its also has a cold methodology, producing the mechanics that create movement in the body while also celebrating how music is able to do this, the Modern Dancing referred to in the title.
Louis Ormesher