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By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 15th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
Two Door Cinema Club‘s third album ‘Gameshow’ will be out on in mid-October. Judging from what’s already been revealed from the new album, it could be a very polarising album for longtime fans. ‘Bad Decisions’ is the latest song (and video) to be unveiled, and it’s already getting loads of comments. The song itself looks like it was plucked out of the ’70s and ’80s, as Alex Trimble’s falsetto voice warbles like the Bee Gees and
I’d agree with some of them that the promo looks like it was conceived when they were on acid. However, the weirdness of this video could simply reflect the many challenges the band have faced since they had to cancel their headline appearance at Latitude 2014. I think it’s safe to say that all of us fans really had no idea the trials Alex, Sam and Kevin were going through. (You can read DIY’s cover story with the band here. Warning: it’s a lot to take in.) Yet there is also a sense of whimsy right from the start of this video, as if they’re laughing at themselves. If you’re a little sensitive about what your children/siblings watch, you might want to watch this first before showing it to them. You’ll see what I mean rather quickly. Watch the video for ‘Bad Decisions’ below. Two Door Cinema Club’s new album ‘Gameshow’ will drop on the 14th of October on Parlophone Records.
VANT are currently one of the new class of bands drawing attention, particularly due to frontman Mattie Vant’s political voice he puts forward in his songwriting. Their previous singles, such as ‘The Answer’, which concerns the questionable UK/US relationship, have already shown his solid songwriting process that leads to tracks filed with raging choruses and affecting lyrics It’s with their debut EP ‘Karma Seeker’ that all of these key points join in perfect execution.
The EP opens with title track ‘Karma Seeker’. It’s about the idea of searching out the future and seeking the reward rather than living day to day, a notion that probably could serve the majority of the current generation well. Beginning with a simply strummed acoustic guitar that’s joined by the rest of the instrumentation and into a rather Blur-like swagger, as the verse runs through, it’s the chorus where the cause meets effect. Furiously pounded drums align with Vant’s roaring call of “karma seeker don’t sway, karma seeker pure bliss, if you search you’ll destroy what you miss”. A full-bodied track that doesn’t quite hit as hard as the previous singles ‘The Answer’ or ‘Fly-by Alien’, this tune still packs the power to set the scene for the rest of the EP.
‘Welcome To The Wonderful World of Berners Lee’ tackles conspiracy theories and how easy they are to be consumed by their mystery and as excitement from regularf life. From the idea of lizard people being in control (“maybe she’s a lizard, maybe she’s a lizard, who knows?”), to the major events of the 1960s as government conspiracies (“the man on the moon shot JFK”), each point is repeated incessantly, with the ending of “my futile mind has just been blown”. The use of repetition represents the seemingly never-ending stream of different theories and how even as one point is debunked, it will come back in a stronger form., As a fairly straightforward track that does little to build upon the traction gained from ‘Karma Seeker’, musically, it doesn’t hold as much weight as its predecessor.
American culture is a big influence on Mattie Vant’s songwriting, with ‘Jesus Was a Conman’ referring to the country’s infamous 2nd amendment that gives its people the right to bear arms. Pushing further forward from ‘Welcome…’, ‘Jesus…’ has a much stronger stance that supports his powerful position against the law. The chorus sums up the idea within the song completely – “let’s get naked, fire 47s, get naked, fire 47s, get naked, fire 47s, fire 47s on heroin”, with a rousing and soaring musical accompaniment. You could quite easily refer to each verse within the track and the points made toward changing the second amendment (that’s why it’s called an amendment). In previous interviews, Vant has made it clear that he wishes to use the band as a vehicle to speak about important issues to the generation he’s a part of. With tracks such as ‘Jesus…’, he’s doing a mighty fine job.
Finale ‘Birth Certificate’ tackles immigration, in particular the loss of Vant’s girlfriend, who was deported back to Australia. You can hear the passion in his voice as he sings his deeply personal lyrics. Most affecting is the second verse, “patriotism is a fucking lie, I’ll be branded British until the day I die, I got this label through invasion, so maybe one day we’ll be called Korean”, though none of this holds its true weight without the chorus “it only takes a second to burn your birth certificate, if the world’s ours, then why she gotta go home”. Another vicious track that does its damnedest to support the words that so easily carry his point across, it’s a perfectly apt closer, especially considering the recent Brexit events in his home country.
‘Karma Seeker EP’ is a must listen (and buy) for everybody. It features a political voice not heard for many years and finally gives the current generation a positive influence. When VANT finally release their debut LP, they have the chance to influence a generation who could, in turn, influence the future. There’s a reason VANT are such a widely watched band: they have the songs, they have the power. It’s just a matter of time until it all comes together into a movement.
VANT’s debut EP ‘Karma Seeker’ is out now on Parlophone Records. To read previous coverage of VANT on TGTF, including about their appearance at Reading 2016 last month, click here.
If you missed part 1 of TGTF’s interview with Syd Arthur frontman Liam Magill, you can find it right back here.
Syd Arthur‘s current opening slot for Jake Bugg‘s North American tour doesn’t afford them the luxury of much time on stage at the moment, but Magill says the band are trying to play a mix of songs from their 2012 debut LP ‘On an On’ and 2014’s ‘Sound Mirror’ along with the new ones. “It’s kind of like half and half, because we’ve got three records to dip into, and lots of material we can chop and change and make different sets up as we go. So we’re experimenting and trying the new stuff out, as well as playing older songs. Sometimes it can be short with an opening slot, but we’ve got like 45 minutes, so there are sections that are open where we can freak out and jam out and stuff. It’s fun to do that every night, you know, and keep it a bit free like that”.
The band sound remarkably clean and tight on the first three singles from ‘Apricity’, especially considering that they’ve recently had a major change in their lineup. Drummer Fred Rother was forced to step away from Syd Arthur before they started recording the new album, due to severe hearing difficulties. Rother is replaced on the album and in the band’s live setup by Josh Magill, sibling to Liam and bass player Joel. “It was a precarious moment, Fred leaving, but Josh sort of saved the day, in a way. The transition was slightly difficult because we’ve been a tight band, you know, us four members, for a long time. That was a big change, and it seeps into the music of this new record and informs the new record, because Josh is obviously on this new album. It’s a different style of rhythm and he’s a different drummer.”
Raven Bush is Syd Arthur’s resident multi-instrumentalist, and Magill says that he and the rest of the band used a broad sonic palette on ‘Apricity’. “There was lots of experimenting on these recordings, trying to get the best sound, and lots of stuff was done and ditched in trying to get to the best thing. Raven’s playing lots of keyboards, he’s playing mandolin, synthesizer, stuff like that.” In this context, Magill specifically mentions an instrumental track called ‘Portal’, which he describes as “quite hypnotic and expansive” before mentioning, a bit wistfully, that the track is “actually sort of like a dedication to Fred.”
For his part, Liam Magill seems happy to have another brother alongside him on tour. “[Josh] has been really good. He’s taking to the whole thing really well. He’s played [with us] before, and he had a band before, but he’s really gotten so involved now, and he’s playing so well. It’s worked out a treat. It can be good to have your brothers around. The joking and the banter is fun, you know, having some family on the road. [And] Raven’s been with us for a long time, we’re a big family. Bands are like that, bands are like a little family unit, you know.”
Touring across North America with Jake Bugg has been a valuable experience for the band as well, despite (or perhaps because of) the difference in style between Bugg and Syd Arthur. “He’s an interesting songwriter, he’s very mainstream”, says Magill. “But it’s about us getting that exposure across America [with] the people that he’s pulling in. It’s a business thing, in a way. But just watching him the last couple of nights, I’ve got a lot out of just seeing what he does. I’m not a massive fan, I wouldn’t go to a show of his, but I’m involved with it all now and it’s interesting. It’s not what you’d expect, necessarily, but it’s working. His fans are enjoying our music when we open up, and we’re enjoying him.”
Following the tour with Jake Bugg, Syd Arthur will return to England in October for a quick tour with Austin, Texas rock band White Denim. Magill describes White Denim as slightly more similar to his own band’s sound: “It’s guitar music, bluesy, rocking guitar music. They are like us, but I suppose we’re a bit more English, and we have a bit more sort of a jazz influence or something compared to them.” I suggest that it might not be possible to find an exact match to Syd Arthur’s unique blend of psychedelic-jazz-rock, and Magill laughs. “No, we’re a bit of an outsider band.”
The middle of October will find Syd Arthur embarking on their own headline tour of England and Ireland, which will extend into early November. The band will celebrate the release of ‘Apricity’ with a special album launch show on the 18th of November in their hometown of Canterbury.
I thank Liam for taking time out of his busy tour schedule to chat with me, and he ends the interview with a neat contextual twist. “It’s fine”, he says, “we just pulled over off the [highway], and I think the lads are having a drink while I’ve been sitting on a bench in the sunshine chatting with you, so it’s all good.” Be it summer sunshine in the States, or winter ‘Apricity’ back in England, both seem to suit Syd Arthur quite well.
Our thanks to Dan for coordinating this interview, and our best wishes to Fred as well.
Syd Arthur’s new album ‘Apricity’ is due out on the 21st of October on Communion (UK) / Harvest Records (North America). TGTF’s previous coverage of Syd Arthur can be found through this link.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 14th September 2016 at 6:00 pm
Norwich teenage duo Let’s Eat Grandma released their debut album ‘I, Gemini’, and they’ve already garnered attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Best friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth have already proved in their off-kilter past singles including ‘Deep Six Textbook’ and ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’ that they’re really out there. Latest single taken from ‘I, Gemini’, the cheekily titled ‘Sax in the City’, continues close behind in their footsteps.
The video for the song, too, shows off the pair’s penchant for not following the pack. Director Ben Sommers, who also directed the ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’ promo, had this to say about the making of this new visual:
We intended to keep the video quite lighthearted and playful, with Jenny and Rosa as babies crawling through the busy city landscape – we also wanted to make a subtle comment on social and political issues – the outcome a slight nod to Orwell’s 1984 and how true his novel is seemingly becoming. The baby aspect adds something quite bizarre to the video, I think it echoes the eclectic and psychedelic nature of Let’s Eat Grandma’s sound – but also gestures something worryingly poignant in respect to the world that future generations are growing up in.
The Let’s Eat Grandma girls themselves had this to say about the video: “Just us at our favourite place, wearing our favourite colour, doing what we do best – this is the most real video of Let’s Eat Grandma yet. PS Look out for the rat.” Ha! Watch it below. ‘I, Gemini’ is now available from Transgressive Records.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 14th September 2016 at 4:00 pm
Not sure why it took 10 months for this live gig video to appear, but we’re not (too) sore about it. Paris via Winchester singer/songwriter Josh Savage, who we’ve featured quite a bit here on TGTF, played a sold-out show last night at the Islington, so it’s great timing for this video to have surfaced. Back in November 2015, we hosted the exclusive stream of ‘Quatre Épines’, Savage’s then new EP.
Around the same time and in a much larger room than when I saw him perform in Manchester in April 2014 as part of another Sofar Sounds showcase, watch as Savage and his backing band hold the entire audience rapt in attention in performance of the EP’s title track. Catch the performance below. For more on Josh Savage on TGTF, follow this link.
It’s been a couple of years since we at TGTF last spoke with Canterbury rock band Syd Arthur. They made a lasting impression on me at SXSW 2014, where I saw them play the Harvest Records showcase along with Glass Animals and Arthur Beatrice. At the time of my last chat with the band, Syd Arthur were in the midst of the promotion cycle for their second album ‘Sound Mirror’ and had just finished an American tour with progressive rock band Yes.
Now, a bit more than two years later, Syd Arthur are back in America, touring through the end of September with singer/songwriter Jake Bugg. They’re also anticipating the release of a new album, their third, titled ‘Apricity’, due out on the 21st of October. Syd Arthur played shows along the U.S. West Coast at the end of last week, and I had the rare opportunity to do a phone interview with the UK band while they were in the same time zone as myself. I caught the members of Syd Arthur at a stop along the road “somewhere between Seattle and Portland” last Friday afternoon, and though they were between gigs, lead singer and guitarist Liam Magill graciously agreed to have a chat with me while his bandmates took a break for refreshments.
Magill revealed straightaway that Syd Arthur had a brand new single released that very day, a groove-oriented track called ‘No Peace’. ‘No Peace’ is the third single from ‘Apricity’, following ‘Sun Rays’ and the album’s title track. I wondered about the sleek, vaguely pop-leaning sound of the three new songs from a band who have often been described as “psychedelic” and “progressive”, but Magill says it’s not really a new approach. “It’s always been a part of something we’ve tried to do”, he says. “We’ve always tried to streamline and condense lots [of sounds] into a small thing. I guess this is just more of that sort of thing going on. But when you hear the whole album, there are expansive tunes on there. And when we’re playing live, we can open them up and do more expansive stuff with them in the live setting as well.”
The full album ‘Apricity’ might be expansive, musically speaking, but its title is quite specific. In case you haven’t yet consulted your dictionary on the matter, the word ‘apricity’ refers to the warmth of the sun in wintertime. “It’s a curious word,” Magill muses. “It’s like the feeling that you sometimes get, feeling the warmth of the sun in the winter. We were feeling [that] here and there, writing the record and tracking the record. We didn’t know the word at the time, we just knew that feeling.” He says they happened upon the name when band member Raven Bush’s girlfriend gave voice to the feeling. “Raven’s girlfriend is quite a wordy person, and she told us the word, and we liked the concept and the word itself, so we decided to use that.”
Eponymous album track ‘Apricity’ has been waiting even longer for a title, and Magill’s explanation turns into a discussion of Syd Arthur’s fluid songwriting approach. “That’s an old song, but it was reworked several times up until it becoming the ‘Apricity’ song on our record. A lot of the time, the music’s been written first and the lyrics will be added in. Or there’ll be some music that won’t have any words associated with it for a while, you know, and then all of a sudden the words fall into place. Sometimes I’ll have a title, and just that one word or two words will springboard a whole tune. Often there’s words that just appear as the music’s being written, and they cling, and then you add stuff to that and it all becomes clear. It all just comes together over time, really.”
Early album single ‘Sun Rays’ fits quite neatly into the ‘Apricity’ theme, but it also played nicely into the more summery vibe of TGTF’s July Spotify playlist. “It is a catchy tune, yeah”, Magill agrees. “It’s fun to play, and it connects well live. It’s quite powerful, and it feels quite modern and sort of supersonic, in a way. We’re enjoying playing that one, it’s fun.”
Stay tuned to TGTF for part 2 of this interview, which will post tomorrow. In the meantime, check back through our prior coverage of Syd Arthur right back here.
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