Mew Band

Johan Wohlert and the return of Mew

Mew image

Jonas Bjerre, Bo Madsen, Silas Graae, and Johan Wohlert, otherwise known as Mew, are releasing their first album in six years on April 27 on Play It Again Sam. Titled +-, it was recorded in Copenhagen with Michael Beinhorn sharing production duties with the band. It’s a sweeping, anthemic display of their particular musical sensibility, combining nuance and sheer energetic expansion. Back as a four member group for the first time in a long time, it’s another example of their unique sound, one that’s won them fans all over the world. The first two tracks to be released, Satellites and Water Slides, showcase their appeal. There’s a video to accompany Water Slides, an edgy and moodily romantic dark vision that is a perfect match to the music. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear about the new album. Alice Severin contacted Johan Wohlert, who recently returned to the Danish band. He talked about what brought them back together, and the Mew vision.

JW: I think we searched a bit on our second album Half the World Is Watching Me, but then with the Frengers album we became the Mew that we all know and love.

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Drenge open up about Undertow

cover of Undertow - Drenge

cover of Undertow – Drenge

Drenge hit the headlines when they were named NME’s Best New Band of the Year, an accolade they shared with past winners like The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. Their debut self-titled album had slamming tracks on it like “Backwaters”, “Fuckabout”, and “Bloodsports”, a song that Zane Lowe had as one of his hottest tracks. They played Glastonbury, and turned up wearing dresses at Reading Festival, delivering a blast of straight energy to the throbbing mosh pits of faithful fans. Now Drenge are back with their second album, Undertow, out on Infectious Records on April 6, worldwide release this time round. Northern Transmissions was able to catch up with the band when they came over to New York for an appearance on Letterman, and two blistering live shows. Alice Severin braved the bad weather to have an early coffee with Eoin and Rory Loveless, who opened up about their new album, the new bassist, and recording.

Rory: Yeah. I don’t want to call it like a difficult second album. But it was kind of difficult, in a way, to finish it, but we’re super proud of it.

tap tap interview

Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde of Moon King

My interview with Daniel Benjamin of Moon King

Moon King is the combination of two long-time friends and musical collaborators from Toronto – Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde. They started out by releasing 2 EPs, Obsession 1 and Obsession 2, and are now about to unveil their first full-length album, Secret Life, on Last Gang Records. It’s dreamy and intense, the vocals reaching out over music that shows traces of influences from artists as diverse as Kraftwerk and Neil Young. Dark, epic, and intriguing, Moon King have just been on tour with Alvvays, honing their talents on the road. They’ve released a couple of teasers from the album, as well as an intriguing live video that mixes the two songs together, and Northern Transmissions wanted the backstory. Alice Severin spoke with Daniel Benjamin as he prepared for their next tour about singing, the desert, and inspiration.

Music is something that if you take yourself too seriously you’re going to fall on your face and embarrass yourself. But if you take it just the right amount of serious, you’re going to fall on your face and then everyone will love you for it.

interview this way

My review of Undertow – the brilliant new album by Drenge

If you listened closely to Drenge’s first album, you would have noticed, floating here and there on the tidal wave of energy that burst out of each song, a moment or two of subtle craft. A drop of wordplay, a gap of silence that added more weight to what came next, a neat turn or twist in the direction that felt unexpected and new. With the second album, Undertow, all of the latent exploratory finesse which made them stand out now becomes the bread and butter of the music. This album is the Drenge boys at play and at work sculpting out their own sound, mapping out their own territory, even if this album moves them closer to their indie compatriots like Ty Segall or Hookworms or the perennial Arctic Monkeys, the opposite of the Aerosmith rock morning breath of a band like Royal Blood. Perhaps it’s something in the Sheffield water or attitude that makes it natural to create songs that offer up a little slice of unseen life, a line leading directly back to Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, a sort of natural confusion with life that turns to exploration and revelation.

All the moods that were there in the first album simmering under the surface of uncontainable energy have now been exposed and set free.

more review here…

Review of new self-titled album from American Wrestlers

Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to achieve. Think of The Kinks. A song like “Waterloo Sunset”, the timeless Ray Davies classic, manages to be both easily memorable and emotionally complex all at once. Sometimes listening to a song is like a doorway to a different life. More than the sum of their parts, you know them instantly, yet the songs always have that quality. “Jungleland”, the epic Springsteen song off Born to Run is another. An entire landscape of striving and pain unfolds in a few minutes, pulling you in from the first notes, whether you hear it while buying a six in a bodega or after dropping the needle on to vinyl, surrounded by expensive speakers. The song doesn’t care – it still produces that unexplainable connection. There are albums you listen to, and there it is. You play it again. You still don’t know why exactly but it’s undeniable. That pull. And with a handful of simple, almost lo-fi songs, American Wrestlers have produced a raw, rough-hewn album of singular beauty.

No moments of glossy pretense. If art should feel like all the moments you can’t talk about out loud, then American Wrestlers is wrestling with art.

review tap tap

My interview with Gary McClure of the band American Wrestlers

American Wrestlers. With a title like that, it’s hard to know what to expect. And for quite a while, when the songs were first released on the internet, there was no information as to how they came about or where they were from. Then the quality of the music began to attract attention, and eventually, the story emerged. American Wrestlers is the creation of Gary McClure, a musician originally from Glasgow, with a number of previous projects to his credit. The most well-known of these was a Manchester-based band called Working for a Nuclear Free City, described as “a flawless lucid-dream trip through a thousand fantastical influences”, who released a couple of critically acclaimed albums. After McClure put out a solo album, Wreaths, which didn’t find the kind of response he’d hoped for, fortune intervened when he met his future wife, and followed her to America. Waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn so he could work here, McClure thought he’d while away the time writing a couple of songs. A local pawn shop sold him a bass and a Tascam 8 track recorder, and his front room became the studio. Result. The warm, emotion-infused mix of songs starred through with guitar hooks and wry pop influences triggered a wave of record company interest. Now, the self-titled album is due out at the beginning of April. Northern Transmissions was curious. Alice Severin spoke to Gary McClure about living in another country, songwriting, and what it’s like to record without being linked to the internet.

And I was getting the feeling as well that – I don’t think this era is any different from any other era, I think it’s always been that way. But a lot of songs and a lot of music is about – look at me, and here’s me, and the music is really a vehicle to promote the person as some kind of star or something, or a weird character. A lot of people do that kind of thing, but – you know songs are things that people sing. That’s what a song’s for. And it’s not about the person who writes it, or being famous or something, or making some weird artistic statement. It’s supposed to be something with a common idea, that everyone can understand, so everyone can sing it. That’s what a song is. And it seems such a simple, stupid thing to say but it’s almost like people have forgotten that.

interview this way…