Things We Love This Week: Island, Superorganism, Mount Eerie

Photo: Melanie Tjoeng

There’s chaos in the air. KFC ran out of chicken and Fergie took an “artistic risk” with her rendition of the US anthem. Calm down by having a listen to these nice things.

Island – Ride

On Tuesday, this London four-piece shared a video for their latest single, Ride. In it, we watch the band messing around and playing shows in between travelling through serene snowscapes and mountain ranges. The almost pizzicato guitar riff, heavy on both reverb and delay, gives it a simultaneously energetic and chilled out feel, really igniting that desperation to go on a road trip somewhere snowy right away. Ride is taken from new full-length ‘Feels Like Air’, which is due for release on April 6 via FrenchKiss Records. They’re also off on tour in May.

Superorganism – Reflections On A Screen

The latest offering from this hyper-modern pop group, Reflections on a Screen, deals with that whole rigmarole of modern day technology addiction, in a manner far more introspective and far less perky than their previous singles Something For Your M.I.N.D and Everybody Wants to Be Famous. The video captures exactly that feeling of spending too much time staring at a screen, zoning in and out of concentration. Their self titled debut is due on March 2 through Domino.

Mount Eerie – Tintin in Tibet

Last month, Mount Eerie announced ‘Now Only’, his follow-up to 2017’s ‘A Crow Looked At Me’, a heart-wrenching record inspired by the passing of songwriter Phil Elverum’s wife, Geneviève Castrée. His new track, Tintin in Tibet, is the new record’s opener, and is equally as gentle and crestfallen as its perfect predecessor. ‘Now Only’, will arrive on March 16 through his own label, P.W. Elverum & Sun. 

Over and out.

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Things We Love This Week: Courtney Barnett, Jungle, Albert Hammond Jr., Smashing Pumpkins

This week we shared one of the most special, loving days of the calendar. PANCAKE DAY!

Although, if you forgot to buy pancake ingredients and actually just ate your body weight in chocolate like I did, then praise be to you. When I wasn’t snacking, I was listening to some sweet new tunes and keeping an eye on the music news…here are some cool things I discovered.

Courtney Barnett

Oh, she’s a teaser. Although we had her Kurt Vile collaboration, ‘Lotta Sea Lice’, last year, we’re still waiting for more of that charming single-handed Barnett sound. Her last solo record was released back in 2015, so it’s about time we had some new stuff.

On Tuesday, a video hit the internet depicting the musician flitting around the studio, hitting toms, plucking at an acoustic guitar and sat at a piano, playing what appeared to be fresh material. Exciting stuff! Both at the end of the video and on her website she asked fans “Tell Me How You Really Feel”.

Then, in a not particularly surprising twist, we had Nameless Faceless dropped in our laps. It’s the first cut from her upcoming album, which will (shock!) be titled ‘Tell Me How You Really Feel’. Start a countdown now – the record is due for release on May 18, and it’s going to be awesome. The track, meanwhile, boldly addresses and explores themes of misogyny and patriarchal structures, paraphrasing Margaret Atwood in the chorus: 

“Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them”. She’s not wrong.

Jungle

JUNGLE ARE BACK!

The neo-soul band have announced a new tour to take place throughout America, Europe and here in the UK in May!

Their debut record dropped back in 2014 to positive critical reception, and a place on the Mercury Prize shortlist. Dripping like a magical musical faucet with bangers such as The Heat, Busy Earnin’ and (my personal favourite) Julia, the self titled album got a big thumbs up.

Tickets went on sale on Monday. The announcement of new tour dates came with the hint of new music, too. This is not a drill! Here’s the actual real-life proof.

Albert Hammond Jr – Far Away Truths

This new track by the Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr is the latest cut from his upcoming album, ‘Francis Trouble’, which is scheduled for release on March 9. 

I’m currently halfway through Lizzy Goodman’s revealing time-capsule Meet Me In The Bathroom and duly going through a big Strokes/Interpol/LCD Soundsystem/New York post-punk revival phase. This new track from Hammond Jr., although distinctly his, embodies the Strokes-esque choppy, tight guitar structures that fans have become obsessed with. Although perhaps not as intricate and detailed as some of the tracks on his last solo outing, ‘Momentary Masters’, Far Away Truths is catchy and perfect for the car.

The Smashing Pumpkins’ Reunion Tour

What is going on with this!? Rumours are flying around the office and in the press. No D’Arcy? What’s up with those texts between her and Billy Corgan?

Yesterday the band teased big news with a countdown clock on their website, then at 5pm they announced their Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour for 2018. Reunion Time!

It’s all very mysterious and hazy as to whether Wretzky was officially asked to join in or not – and there must be more beneath the surface story – but three quarters of the classic line up will perform on the upcoming US tour: Corgan, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and guitarist James Iha, alongside Jeff Schroeder.

See you next time!

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Things We Love This Week: Arcade Fire, Teen Creep, MGMT

Oh hi there, it’s me again! Glad to have you back.

Thank heavens January has come to an end. It was dark and dreary and terribly miserable. Hang on a minute, though. Somehow the weather seems to have got even colder, and I’m not at all happy about it. But hey, look at the plus side: it’s not pitch black when I leave work anymore, and there’s definitely a chance of a snow day soon. Let’s celebrate the approach of spring, however far away it feels, with a cup of tea and some merriment. 

Arcade Fire – Ann Ale! (Let’s Go!)

This the most cheerful music around at the moment. Fact. It’s loud, brazen and obnoxiously happy. Be transported to a carnival of song, dance and colour with the foot-tapping, horn-wielding, maraca-shaking song of the week.

Its lyrics translate to “We will dance / We will play / We will pray / We will continue to make the world a better place for all” and this collaboration between Arcade Fire and the Preservation Hall (for Krewe Du Kanaval, which was held on Tuesday) is truly a celebration of the human spirit.

Listen on the Krewe Du Kanaval Website. Obtain dancing shoes with immediate effect.

Teen Creeps – Sidenotes

Teen Creeps are a trio from Belgium, and they’ve just announced their debut album. It’s set to be a blend of ’90s alt rock and hard hitting punk. This week, the band released the record’s first cut, Sidenotes, and an accompanying video. Let’s focus on the video. It is just so fun. He’s not even dancing, really, just flailing around. It’s brilliant.

Teen Creeps described the video as an “entire dance routine that perfectly translates the vibe and energy of the song”  and that’s exactly what it does. I’ll be bringing these moves to a dance floor near you very soon.

MGMT – Me and Michael

While we’re on the subject of bonkers new videos, here’s another that caught the eye of this bonkers lady. 

MGMT’s new album ‘Little Dark Age’ is out today through Columbia, and features the new single Me and Michael, which dropped yesterday. Its video begins with a note stating “An Afghan a day keeps the doctor away” and a drawing of an Afghan hound. Dog lovers will be hooked initially, but ultimately disappointed.

The rest of the video features little to no furry friends. Instead, viewers get squelching raw meat and characters constantly licking their fingers, tied up in the (supposedly fictional) narrative of MGMT stealing the song from a (real) Filipino band called True Faith. They get found out, and their music career ends in tatters. Where do they come up with these things? What happens in their brains? And who the fuck is Michael?

When speaking to BBC 6 Music yesterday, MGMT said of the track: “It’s super meta. We’ve really confused everybody, including ourselves.” I am definitely confused. Maybe that’s the point?

That’s it for Things We Love This Week, dear readers. Over and out.

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Things We Love This Week: Green Man and All Points East

It’s been two long years since the last instalment of Things We Love This Week, but now it’s back with a bang for 2018 with a brand new author. Me! Every Friday we’ll be running through the songs, albums, live shows or videos that caught our eye in the preceding days. Think of it as a one stop shop. Happy Friday, everyone!

Green Man Festival

First off, this week saw a plethora of festival line-up announcements right in time for payday – some good, some… not so. The first that caught my eye was Green ManSet in the stunning Brecon Beacons, it could easily be your new favourite festival. In the past, the line-up has seen the likes of James Blake, Fat White Family, Beirut, Floating Points, the Horrors, Jagwar Ma, Belle and Sebastian and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard take the stage, to just to name a few. The first wave of acts for 2018’s bill dropped yesterday, and it’s set to be another fantastic year.

Proof? See below.

“But Helen, there are so many amazing acts!” I hear you cry. “Which ones shouldn’t I miss?” Here’s where my answer gets complicated. Can I say everyone? Phoebe Bridgers ranks highly. Her debut album, ‘Stranger in the Alps’ dropped in September last year, and, forgive the cliché, it’s a hauntingly beautiful record. The countless reviews about her mesmerising live performances make it sound like an unmissable experience.

Now, picture this. Pint of legendary Welsh cider in hand, you’re sat on the slightly damp grass of the Walled Garden Stage. It’s about to rain, but you don’t mind. Goat Girl, an indie band who signed to Rough Trade before releasing any music whatsoever, are playing. Their hazy, jangly guitars and witty, political lyrics wash away your hangover, and it’s the epitome of contented festival moments. That’s my jam. Public Service Broadcasting are another band you should be seeing this year. The dorky duo (named, incedentally, J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth) weave old radio broadcast samples into catchy synth melodies. It’s like nothing you’ve heard before. 

All Points East Presents: The National

The next thing that grabbed my attention, line-up wise, was the expansion of the National’s All Points East Presents show. 

These darlings of alt-rock, and now, UK chart toppers, headline this day-long sister event of All Points East Festival, accompanied by some very special guests. The list of previously announced acts would have been more than enough. The War on Drugs, Future Islands, and Warpaint? If you’re into American indie-rock, this day alone will make your summer immeasurably better. However, the organisers have expanded the line-up to tip those on the fence over the edge.

Don’t recognise the name Rostam? What about Rostam Batmanglij, the former producer, multi-instrumentalist and co-lyricist from Vampire Weekend? Gone solo under this mononym, his debut ‘Half-Light’ is full of fun and dreamy art-pop. Check out Bike Dream below. 

Fresh from their own headline tour, alongside supporting slots with the National last year, This Is The Kit are another perfect addition to an already faultless line-up. With Bristol-based Kate Stables and her band on the bill, expect an injection of contemporary folk, aesthetically-pleasing harmonies and wholesome melodies into your summer’s day. 

James Blake: If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead

Aside from festival line-ups, a new single by the clever and quirky producer, singer, songwriter and pianist (is there nothing he can’t do?) James Blake has to be included as a last minute adjustment to Things We Love This Week. It’s the first non-collaborative material we’ve had since ‘The Colour in Anything’ back in 2016, and with overlapping vocal samples melting softly in to synths so slick they could drip out of your headphones, it’s classic Blake.

Until next time, kiddos.

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Staff Picks: Helen Payne

 

GIGS

As I reminisce on the gigs I’ve been to throughout the year, a sudden realisation washes over me after a painful, head-scratching 10 minutes. Disappointingly, I can only count a meagre seven, in addition to two day-long festivals and one weekend festival. That’s a hugely unsatisfactory effort on my part, and I blame this entirely on being forced to spend my final uni days moping around a library, struggling through essays on existentialism and a dissertation on music and mental health (well, should’ve been – I actually spent most of my final year bingeing on Fargo and pretending Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was “research”). For this reason, alongside the fact that Exeter’s Cavern had been largely destroyed in a fire, I didn’t go to anywhere near as many as I wanted to. The shameful list of shows I actually attended in 2017 goes as follows, in chronological order:

  • Fickle Friends @ Exeter Phoenix (Attended at the suggestion of a friend. Even after several G&Ts, it was distinctly average, with the weirdest support act I have ever laid eyes on.)
  • Bear’s Den @ Exeter Lemon Grove (Amazing.)
  • Redfaces @ Exeter Phoenix (My band were the support act. They’re actually getting pretty big now, and all of them were absolutely lovely. My four friends were the only audience members.)
  • Laura Marling @ Exeter Lemon Grove (Last minute press pass. Beautiful.)
  • Exefest @ Exeter University (Cascada, The Hoosiers, Wheatus… we left promptly after Example started a DJ set.)
  • Poltimore Festival @ Poltimore House (An adorable local grassroots festival that gets bigger and better every year – Matthew and The Atlas headlined.)
  • Isle of Wight Festival (Attended solely for Arcade Fire, who did not disappoint. Also featured the inimitable and fascinating Rod Stewart.)
  • The National @ London Eventim Apollo (Battled with the flu to drive from Cardiff to London and back, almost didn’t make it through. Finished the night with Lemsip and a headache. So rock and roll.)
  • This Is The Kit @ Cardiff Globe (Birthday. Sent from heavenly folky Bristol Gods.)
  • Mutation @ Cardiff Globe (Really fun night with Laura, worst hangover I’ve had for years. I don’t think I fit into the raging metal vibe very well.)

Best Gig

Looking back, the show that sticks with me the most (in a self-aware attempt to shift my attention away from the National) has to be Bear’s Den, as one of the most intimate, special moments I can remember from the year – and probably at any gig I’ve ever been to. The end of their set saw the bespectacled, bearded fellows huddle in the middle of the crowd, playing an entirely unplugged performance of a track from their debut album, ‘Bad Blood’. It would’ve been rude to whisper during such a breathtaking, intimate and profound moment such as this, and I was absolutely blown away.

ALBUMS

Most of my favourite music this year stemmed from getting my first real-life-full-time-actual-adult-job here at Stereoboard, which somehow, miraculously for me, involves spending all day writing about and discovering new bands, while listening to BBC 6 Music in the background all day. In doing so, I’ve stumbled across some amazing things. Here are just some of them.

  • Sampha – ‘Process’
  • Nadine Shah – ‘Holiday Destination’
  • Alex Lahey – ‘Love You Like A Brother’
  • Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – ‘Lotta Sea Lice’
  • The War on Drugs – ‘A Deeper Understanding’
  • Grizzly Bear – ‘Painted Ruins’

Since being here, I’ve also done a handful of reviews of varying opinions – one astounding, one fine, and one I didn’t like at all.

Best Album

The National – ‘Sleep Well Beast’

The National are one of my favourite bands, and their latest record only skyrocketed this opinion further. It is triumphant, having reached number one status in the UK and received a Grammy nomination, and holds nothing back with a one-two punch of daring guitar solos by the Dessner brothers and Matt Berninger screaming his face off to Turtleneck, then hitting home with that graceful lyricism, gorgeous instrumentation and a style of storytelling that never ceases to amaze me on some of the softer songs. Each record sees the band develop further, honing their craft to perfection, and ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is no different.

OTHER COOL STUFF OF 2017

Campaign I Have Eternally Mixed Feelings About And Need To Voice (But Ultimately Dislike)

Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’

‘Everything Now’ is a particularly on the nose, self-aware critical commentary. Everything is monetised, capitalism is bad, massive corporations bring emptiness to everyone’s lives, and the current culture of immediate gratification will be the ruin of us all. Fine. This isn’t groundbreaking territory though – for years people have dissected and critiqued the way we live our lives through screens and massive corporations. So why make the point? And why make it in such an extravagant fashion?

Arcade Fire are not the type of band to create a fictional company to take over their marketing strategy, a fictional social media co-ordinator (who, when it all went to shit, released a fictional statement about taking his fiction too far, and got sacked from his fictional role), ridiculous, diva-esque demands and strict dress codes to their shows. On the flip side, it’s impossible to know whether any of these things hold any truth (#FakeNews), or if everything was calculated to go down as it did. The whole thing is bizarre, and it’s not the same band who wrote ‘Funeral’ or ‘Neon Bible’, which, incidentally, make similar points more eloquently. I’m not convinced the lack of depth on the album can be excused by such an obvious, and frankly embarrassing, conceptual point.

Solo Debut

Mr Jukes – ‘God First’

Having recently re-listened to ‘So Long See you Tomorrow’, the final material from Bombay Bicycle Club before they parted ways on an indefinite hiatus, it’s clear to see the direction Jack Steadman, frontman, was desperate to go in, pulling the band towards sampling, more electronic sounds, and complex rhythms. On his solo (well, not so solo, given the number of collaborations including De La Soul, Horace Andy and Lianne La Havas to name a few) debut ‘God First’, Steadman takes the listener on a journey through modern jazz styles, old school RnB samples and breakbeats to meld genres into one awesome listening quest.

Musicians Doing Cute Non Musician Things

Orlando Weeks – ‘The Gritterman’

After announcing the end of bill-topping indie band The Maccabees (RIP) with huge farewell performances this summer, it is refreshing to see frontman Orlando Weeks injecting some adorable goodness into the world. His latest project, The Gritterman, is a children’s book-come-album-come-live-show about an ice cream man whose big dream is to help his community during the winter months by gritting the roads. Wholesome and heartwarming, perfect to get you in that Christmas spirit.

New Songs I Discovered and Can’t Stop Playing

  • Pip Blom – Babies Are A Lie
  • Hatchie – Sure
  • NARCS – Raus!
  • Allusondrugs – I’m Your Man
  • Weaves – #53
  • Alvvays – Not My Baby
  • This Is The Kit – Hotter Colder
  • Django Django – Tic Tac Toe
  • Manchester Orchestra – The Gold
  • Everything Everything – Night of the Long Knives
  • Esper Scout – Compass
  • Drahla – Form of Luxury

 

All in all, I leave 2017 with a desperate need to see more gigs, a desire to increase my band t shirt collection and with a heavy heart, as this has been an ultimately life changing year for me. What’s next?

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On This Day In Music: Jimi Hendrix Dies Aged 27

On September 18, 1970, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Mary Abbot’s Hospital in London. He was said to have choked on his own vomit at the age of just 27. Many conspiracy theories floated around about the cause of Hendrix’s death, including a suicide, and even an arranged murder by his manager.

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On This Day In Music: Queen Film Bicycle Race Video


The video for Queen’s single ‘Bicycle Race’ was filmed at Wimbledon Stadium on September 17, 1978. The video features 65 naked professional models racing around the stadium on hired bicycles. The rental company requested payment for all the saddles once they found out how the bikes had been used.

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On This Day In Music: Marc Bolan Dies Aged 29


On September 16, 1977 former T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan died in a car crash. His girlfriend, Gloria Jones, was driving the car on the couple’s way back to Bolan’s home in Richmond, London. Jones broke her jaw in the accident, whereas Bolan sadly died instantly.

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