Flowers – Everybody’s Dying to Meet You – review of the second album

London trio Flowers pulled in Bernard Butler for their first album, 2013 debut ‘Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do’, Now for the second lp, Brian O’Shaughnessey, who’s worked with Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine has assisted on Everybody’s Dying To Meet You. Sam, Rachel, and Jordan, as they are listed on their Facebook page, have brought the tension between sweet vocals and contained grungy guitar to bloom. Rachel Kenedy has been compared to Elizabeth Fraser of The Cocteau Twins. That’s stretching it a bit further than the truth, but the choirgirl quality of her voice is one of the selling points of the album.

They dive right in. Always start an album as you mean to go on. And the sound is the type of extremely fashionable breathy female vocal coming in over the jangly guitar which then turns into a sort of post garage thing, bass, chords, while never straying far from the pop song format, with nod to the sixties as a variation on the theme. Pull My Arm, sets the scene as the first song on the album.

And is there a theme to the whole lp? Looking at the list of song titles might feel like you’ve been peering over someone’s shoulder on public transport, as they write out the cool version of their day, scene by scene, on their phone.

Next up – Bitter Pill. Sweet ethereal vocals become the big drum sound of the ballads of old. Makes one think of the Kinks. Phil Spector. Francoise Hardy . The second song is usually reserved for the single. Is this it? Not sure. It’s very spacious and dirty guitar at once. A bit of feedback at the end, but it’s all rather bloodless for that.

Ego Loss up next. Just when you’re hoping for strengthening, this feels slightly throwaway. Trademark space, breathy clear vocals, deep bass, drums front – now we need a song with a bit more. Ooh. There’s that rough guitar sound. Were they keeping us waiting, in the hope that the change would inspire excitement? It nearly works.

All At Once. Yet again the hidden, repressed threat and slight edge of the guitar saves the song. It’s almost fun to imagine it all unleashed. But well on the leash here. Her voice is sweet.

Intrusive Thoughts. If you like church choir tone over deep bass, then this could be for you. The chorus removes all hope of depth of emotion. A bit low energy.

How Do You Do. Bless the chorus pedal. Then that rough guitar. It’s easy to see how someone or all of them, thought that these contrasting tones, the schoolgirl voice, the simple yet decisive chords, a bit of distortion, not too much, would form a dish where the opposites attract. Does anyone else wish for albums where something after the first three songs jumps out at you?

Tammy. Every good band has a good drummer. It would have been nice if the drum and bass had been allowed to show off their relationship before we were swept into verse chorus verse chorus. Vote for this for next single. That rumble of energy under the surface is right here. “You’re the hunger in me, Tammy.” It’s not a classic line, is it? It is catchy though.

Russian Doll. Is that synth? Oh, someone let go the leash. Please do that more. Wait, this is one of the first songs they penned. What was wrong with this idea? The contrast between quiet and bursts of excitement is better than rough/soft. Here the voice pairs with the guitar rather than floating above it. Perhaps less style and more passion would push this right over the edge. But at least the edge is there.

My Only Friend. Feels very West Coast. Folkie. Then becomes an anthem for the small venue. Or Glastonbury. Easy to see people swaying to this, while some head back to the bar for a beer. The drummer holds this one together.

Bathroom Sink. The last song. The goodbye, the remember me by, the summing up. Echo and distortion. It delivers on its promise of offering a bit more blood, the intro to the chorus should have been the whole song. Still.

Now that the record companies have decided that a female vocalist might be the key to fame and fortune (not to mention a bit of an antidote to the relentless male bias of music), we will see quite a few more of these bands, especially on the back of Wolf Alice’s success, and the mind melting passion of Savages. Flowers does a decent job putting their own stamp on the trend. It would be invigorating to see women grab these opportunities by the throat and push back against all the expectations.

Review by Alice Severin

Link to article on Northern Transmissions

Review of Wet – Don’t You

Wet is singer-songwriter Kelly Zutrau, and multi-instrumentalists Joe Valle and Marty Sulkow. According to the press, Wet wrote the album in the countryside, on hiatus from Brooklyn. They released an EP in 2014 that drew attention. Kylie Jenner likes them. And now a brand new album.

But coming off what is now nearly a month of listening to David Bowie, as a result of the wonder and shock at such brilliance and loss, it’s been tricky to dip a toe back in the recycled water of modern pop rock alt – whatever you want to call it. Living in Brooklyn might lend more sympathy for the parade of earnest and not so earnest musicians, clutching their guitars or Macbooks, pushing past the crowds on their way to hopeful fame and fortune as they shuffle onto the L line. It’s not easy to get heard. But Wet, whose last single seemed to have clocked up 17 million views on Spotify, have been heard, earning themselves a shot at the golden ring of major label backing. And the new album, Don’t You, shows off the delicate yet tortured anomie stemming from the emotional turmoil of desire and loss, or maybe just the wondering if you’re going to make back the advance.

The first song, It’s All in Vain, kicks off the album. “Tell me baby tell me slowly all the things you couldn’t show me”. A heartfelt tug at the emotions, a mix of electronica, a hint of soul, and lots of diary entry after midnight yearning, struck through with a weighty and slightly icy space, interspersed with some tasteful guitar here and there. Space and multi-tracked vocals. The press for the band says they are self-produced. Lovely.

The second, Deadwater, occupying the usual single spot on the album, starts off promisingly with a deep bass vibe. Then the vocals come in, using word play to scan back and forth, the keyboards in the background offering an anchor to Kelly Zutrau ‘s slightly nasal, delicately tortured vocal. The middle eight and its lack of overdubs accompanied by heavily treated vocals, opens up into another take on the chorus, vibrating emotion.

Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl is the third track. This one was the big breakthrough. The video is one of those ones that make you think it’s all been filmed on someone’s phone, intimate, behind the scenes, on the cheap, out in nature, quick glimpses of vulnerable skin. It’s got all the hallmarks of the big produced soulful ballad, just miserable enough to avoid being called pop, perfect for the moment when your favorite fanfic characters from your favorite TV show exchange those deep focus looks, over a body, or a car, or something. Or not. To her credit, Kelly’s voice manages to deal with the vast overproduction, keeping her tone of sad sincerity intact.

Weak. Here the vocal swerves a little to left of The Cranberries’ second cousin, before heading back to the country folk, before going right back to pop, depressive version. This one feels a little more like she’s trying to really nail a vocal, while the bass and keyboards and overdubs carry it forward, before the guitar comes in, sensitive. It all builds and swells. Hope the producer got a writing credit.

Island features that hollow sound we associate with the Nordic countries. Then it changes for the vocal. “I’m on fire, put me out”. Then the production really comes in, thick, shrinking down to one point, then back into the verse. Either you love her voice, or you don’t. With all the doubling and produced synth, it’s a song for the winter. The delicate piano enters, then the electronica. Is this what people are looking for? Heavily produced, quasi-innocent vocals, a soup of atmospheric diary entries waiting for a script? It’s possible.

Small and Silver is the obvious big label take on Zola Jesus. “Small and Silver teach me how me how to live”. It’s got all of the echo –y forest sounds. Was that a treated whale song? Put your money on this for the soundtrack of the next 50 Shades of Sequel. “You leave me breathless.” Indeed.

Move Me wants you to “call me by my real name.” Ok. “Call me baby.” Wait, is that your real name? “Can you save me or move me?” I suppose that’s the question. This song needs to be in every TV show. Totally see why the majors threw money at this one. Dolby sound around and popcorn in a movie seat while we focus on someone’s perfectly toned arms thrown around another tragically misunderstood love interest. This one is a fairly perfect example of the genre.

Body, the penultimate song features handclaps. Perhaps they are edging towards the dance remix area of things. It does seem that this band has had more remixes than actual songs. Not sure what that means. Doubled vocals over the handclaps. “No one said it would be easy.” “You make me forget I have a body.” Guitar comes in to give some weight to the half whispered vocals. Keep thinking of ways to market this. “Our love our love our love.” This could be a free track with a Victoria’s Secret set. Why not? Bit of a soulful vocal overdub there. Why the weird synth sound? Fades on either wobbly bird tweet or squeaky old bike. We are in Brooklyn…let’s bet on the rusty gears.

You can’t blame the record people, labels and listeners, for wanting lots of production after years of enabling the addiction. Wet will be playing at Rough Trade, and it would and could be very interesting to hear what it all sounds like live. And it’s sold out. So much of the sound of the album is based on Kelly Zutrau’s voice, and that’s the sort of thing you will either love or not. Distinctive enough. Modern in the way so much music is now – you’ve broken it down to its pieces – but they don’t always fit back together the way you thought they would.

 

http://www.northerntransmissions.com/album-review/dont-you-by-wet/

 

Review by Alice Severin

Interview with Fred Macpherson of Spector

A very enjoyable interview with the affable, sharp, and nicely bittersweet Fred Macpherson, who also wins a prize for his Twitter tribute to the great Alan Rickman. 

 

Spector. The Guardian described them as being “somewhere between Roxy Music and The Strokes”. Enjoy It While It Lasts, their first album, stormed through the UK charts. “All the Sad Young Men”, the first single off the second album, was Zane Lowe’s hottest record in the world. They’ve played Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds. How to follow up? Well, August saw the release of Moth Boys, album number two that takes all the promise of the first and builds from there. Sharp and witty lyrics that unveil a laser vision of life burn through a mix of pop and rock that frequently soars, showcasing a clever reworking of 80s influence. Spector, and their front man, Fred Macpherson, deliver hook filled choruses and melancholy moments with a decisive boldness. When they arrived in New York City a couple of weeks ago, Spector played a storming set at Mercury Lounge that saw the usually tough crowd seduced by the sheer energy and verve of the singer and the band. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear from Spector about their year. Alice Severin talked to Fred Macpherson about the album, his influences, and plans for the future.

Northern Transmissions: Hi, how are you doing and where are you this morning?

Fred Macpherson: I’m good, thank you. I’m in London, in my house. I’m trying to meet my cousin online. Which is quite a good way to waste the morning, especially if you could see the weather in London right now. But I imagine New York isn’t much better.

NT: It’s not too bad here. And you’ve had terrible weather over there. Big storms.

FM: Yeah, it’s not great.

NT: Over here, we’re just having global warming. So it’s 60 in December. So thanks so much for doing this. I saw you at Mercury Lounge – was it just last week?

FM: It was, yeah. This time last week.

NT: How was it for you, and how was the New York trip?

FM: I really enjoyed it, actually. We very much enjoyed it. That night…we were in celebratory mood after the gigs, it was our last gig of the year. And then kind of…the wheels fell off a bit later in the evening and I ended up…I don’t know what. (laughs) But it was a great night. We really enjoyed the show. The NY crowd was quite sympathetic. I thought people might be, one of those cities where people can just kind of stand still and you really need to convince them. It seemed like people were quite warm, actually.

NT: I think that can definitely be true. I thought you were quite convincing though – there was a tremendous amount of energy that you all had.

FM: Thank you very much I think so much of gigs just depend on the people who are there really. Like we played in Brooklyn on Tuesday and it was a completely different vibe. It was fun. But Thursday it felt quite special, I guess. Like what one would want for your first gig in a city like that, or a country that you’ve kind of grown up knowing a lot about and being a big fan of. It was exciting.

NT: It’s a huge thing. I always think it’s kind of fascinating because you come over from the UK, you’ve played big festivals, Reading and Leeds and then to move to a small club. What does that feel like?

FM: It’s quite good. We have the same thing like when we go to other places, like countries in Europe where we don’t play to that many people. So we’re kind of used to playing to bigger crowds and small crowds. And actually sometimes it’s more humanizing and more real just playing to a small room without a big light show. Because it makes it more about you and the music and it’s fun to have to prove yourself to people rather than just being complacent and resting on your laurels.

NT: The new album – Moth Boys – I wanted to ask you more about that. But first of all – is it going to be released over here?

FM: It is. We’re just kind of working out what’s going on with what we’re going to release where, as in which label. So we just need to sort out the boring stuff, and it will get an official release. I think it’s on iTunes and Spotify now. What we might do is a kind of compilation of some of our best songs from both albums, which might be something cool to do to kind of bring people up to speed.

NT: Yes – because your first album was fairly huge in the UK.

FM: Yeah, it was quite big. I don’t know about huge, but it seemed to…people were aware of it. I think this album is a nice step on musically, and so we just need to keep working to get people hearing our songs. I think especially a song like “All the Sad Young Men” which is the first track on it, and probably the best song we’ve done, so. We just need to keep working hard to keep getting the music out there, and get people hearing it, I guess.

NT: And Dev Hynes co-produced the album with you.

FM: He did, three or four songs. He co-wrote a song on it called “Cocktail Party”, he co-wrote a song called “Decade of Decay”. He kind of had an influence on it production wise, and writing wise. But we also worked with two producers in London called Duncan Mills and Adam Jeffrey, who we had met through various people. But the thrust of a lot of the production was done by ourselves at home. It was quite a long journey from beginning to end and often we were kind of carried by ourselves which was good, and there were great influences from people like Dev along the way.

NT: How do you go about the process of it all? Does it depend on the song?

FM: Yeah, it does, because we, especially on this album we have more of us writing songs. But my process generally is working on instrumentals at my flat in London under my bed where I have a very, very small studio set-up. I don’t even know if it could be described as a studio, but a computer and speakers and microphones and a piano. And I kind of just start making bits of music, and then I persevere with the ones I like. And then I write loads of lyrics all the time on my phone. And when I feel a song is worthy of completion, then I start putting lyrics into it and vocal melodies. It’s a slightly disjointed collage-y kind of process. I don’t sit down with a guitar and write a song from beginning to end. But I think the style in which we write suits the lyrical content and mood, fragmented, momentary thoughts or musings on different bits of what life is.

NT: Your lyrics are quite unique in a way because you incorporate regular, day to day phrases and things that people say in this way that’s very ironic and witty.

FM: Yeah, I think that’s been influenced by things like Twitter, and text messages, and the way I communicate with people on the internet. And the phone stuff. Because it creates a kind of, what’s the word for it – aphorisms – little one liners, trying to say things, like quips, kind of thing. And that, as I grew up, even before I was making music, it was always kind of jokes and one-liners that were what I got the most of joy out of. So I think it’s just taking that approach of like kind of how people make jokes on the internet or how they communicate with each other on the internet through these kind of short, witty lines. That’s kind of what’s been as big a lyrical inspiration as lyricists and musicians I love.

NT: Some of the lines…it’s almost a little like Oscar Wilde in a sense, but very modern.

FM: Yeah, and when you read something like Oscar Wilde now, it sounds a stupid thing to say, but you can see how much he would have loved something like Twitter, this outlet for smart, funny one-liners. And for me, lyrics don’t always have to be one-liners, but it’s just a good chance to say something honest. And if you say it in a funny way, sometimes that makes it something – like with dark subject matter, you get to engage with it.

NT: You grew up in London.

FM: Yeah, I was born in London, I’ve never really lived anywhere else. It’s probably about time I should.

NT: What was it like for you growing up there? Do you think that coming from London, gives you a certain world view?

FM: Potentially, yeah. I think I didn’t realize when I was young that I guess growing up in a city like that is quite a unique thing, or potentially privileged. It gives you, doesn’t it, a certain outlook to what a lot of people have. And now, being this age, I realize how few people who I know were actually born in London, who live in London now. But I think England has had a bigger influence on me than London, although obviously being amongst the kind of… It’s so densely populated and so many buildings, there’s been a kind of urban influence, but for me, the influence is really England and its humor. It’s the most important thing to me about being English and a kind of ability to laugh, even in the darkest situations, and a kind of irony and just a sense of humor that I think helps carry the whole, everyone, through all sorts of situations, going back to world wars or whatever. Sometimes English people aren’t as emotional as they could be, maybe, but I think it’s definitely shaped my world view. I know I feel that more when I speak to American people. And you realize that even though on paper we’re so similar and we speak the same language, we have the same culture in terms of a lot of the music and cinema and stuff. But actually England is quite is kind of unique place. Not without its problems, obviously, but I think I like the kind of attitudes that we have here.
NT: So are there plans to come back over here and do some more touring?

FM: Yeah, I think it’s just…depends on who wants to see us and whether it’s cost-effective and everything, because I know English bands who bankrupt themselves touring America just for the sake of doing it, just to kind of prove something to themselves. And I think we’re quite keen, it took us a few years to get back to America. We’re just conscious that we only want to go to places when people want to see us rather than necessarily kind of forcing ourselves upon people. But we’ve got visas now, so I hope we’ll be back in America next year.

NT: Tell me more about the album and writing the songs. Is there one song that was particularly easy or difficult that stands out?

FM: Some come really quickly. There’s a song called “Don’t Make Me Try” which is one of my favorites and one of the most honest songs on the album. And that I wrote in a few minutes – it just came out. Like a few chords, and all the lyrics came pretty much immediately. Then there’s one’s like “All the Sad Young Men” where we wrote the music of it quickly but the lyrics we agonized over and were still changing single words right up until the last couple of days of recording. And then there’s a song called “Lately It’s You” on the album, that it ends with, that I’ve had in kind of fragmented forms for years, even before our first album. These bits of kind of electronic choir chords and stuff, and melodies. I’d been writing all these bits never really knowing what to do with them. And I had the idea to put them all together, because I felt that lyrically, it could act as a good conclusion to the record. So it’s a kind of boring thing to say, but sometimes songs come really fast and sometimes you have to agonize over them. I think the way we write isn’t always very helpful, because we don’t have someone writing a song on guitar and then taking it to the band, saying let’s learn the song. We are kind of sometimes slowed down by our songwriting process being quite blocky, in terms of building things up from lots of different strands of ideas and samples and drum loops and stuff put together on computers and then almost kind of deconstructing them. Our writing style is quite digital, you know, the lyrics are all quite personal. We don’t write as a band and we don’t write in the traditional way, guitar piano, but maybe we’ll begin to absorb a bit more of that as we go on and make it, make the process a bit more human. Because the process always has a big effect on the vinyl thing.

NT: Are there influences that you think of, or does everything come together in a big melting pot?

FM: Well, I mean, there’s influences, but I think some of our influences we don’t necessarily sound like. You have Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits – those kind of lyricists, but also modern, more pop hip hop stuff like Drake and Kanye West. I like characters in music, where any song you listen to you feel like you’re tuning in to some part of the story, whether it’s them telling their story or someone else’s story, more in your Nick Cave and Tom Waits’ case. But someone like Drake, I feel like every time he puts a song out he just gets another angle on his life or another piece. And that kind of inspires me. Even listening to Frank Sinatra, whose subject matter was essentially the same for fifty years. It never worries me, writing songs about the same thing because I think there’s always another way to say it. It’s kind of not what you say, but how you say it. My biggest influences are artists who kind of have careers that feel like they just continue to unfold even when they are singing about the same stuff.

NT: It’s a progression. What you’ve learned.

FM: Yeah. Variations on a theme.

NT: Your stage presence is very interesting. And the image is obviously different from the standard front man, out there. But you also have these elements of intimacy and theatrical intensity. I wanted to ask if you had any background in theatre at all.

FM: Well, a lot of my family are actors. And two of my cousins are actors. My grandparents both worked in films. I was never planning on doing it but there was kind of always a sense of just showing off in our family. And entertainment. Especially growing up. I had four cousins and my brother, and we kind of just spent a lot of time trying to entertain each other and trying to create these kind of …as I’m sure a lot of kids do, you’re making films or putting on plays, making bands and writing songs, even going back to when we were like 4 or 5 years old. And I guess some people grow out of that, and maybe I didn’t. But also the people I love on stage, once you bring that kind of theatricality, people like Nick Cave, where it really feels like you’re getting more than just a band playing songs but someone trying to tell a story, physically as well, I guess. So it was never kind self-conscious, that there would be a theatrical influence, but I think that’s just where my style fits naturally. Like I don’t think I’m a kind of “sexy pop star” so I can’t really play it in that way. I think it’s more, I think I have strengths in other places, more just kind of trying to work out how to tell the story in a way that’s personal to us, and human.

NT: It’s funny, I saw Nick Cave playing solo, a show at Town Hall, and he’s definitely one of these people who has presence, even simply coming out onto the stage. When I think of theatricality, that’s what I mean. And I think you have that. You come out and the stage gets smaller – and you get bigger.

FM: Haha. Well, that’s nice of you to say. You were lucky to see us at a good gig. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. I do see a concert in a sense as an event, especially if people are paying for it. And also especially when you’re on tour, you’re offstage 23 hours a day and you’re onstage for one. So it’s kind of like your only real chance to exhibit the things you believe are the most important in the world. So it’s not an opportunity that you really want to waste. That sounds a bit pretentious. Obviously it’s still entertainment, but if there’s an hour in every day to entertain then I think, yeah, you’re going to try and take the bull by the horns, as it were.

NT: You had said, which I really liked, ‘it’s the journalist’s job to theorize about the musicians, and not the musician’s job to theorize about what the journalist is thinking.’ It seems now that artists are asked to do everything. They’re going to do their own PR, they’re going to tell their own story, their own meta-narrative to the whole thing. Do you think that the constant stream of comments that’s out there makes it trickier to be creative?

FM: I think it makes it trickier for the audience to take the creativity at face value. Because it’s been filtered through a constant stream of comments. I think it only makes it more difficult for the person being creative if they’re aware and they engage in that stream of commentary. And in the past, I’m sure we’ve been guilty, as many people have and will be, of kind of tuning into that stream. And when you do, that’s dangerous. Undoubtedly, we, and many artists, will be at their most creative when they’re at their most disengaged with all the feedback. But that’s what’s getting harder and harder to do. Especially with the all the technology that’s at our fingertips the whole time. And so my goal for the next year is to just try and disengage a bit more with that whole stream and engage more personally with the creative element and not…kind of almost not be hearing that feedback the whole time. That background noise. Because it’s can be pretty tough to take if you try to engage in it all. It’s like in The Man Who Fell to Earth, when David Bowie watches like 10 TVs at the same time. It’s too much. It’s like, you should never google yourself because you just fall down a kind of rabbit hole. The opinions of your friends and family and a critic or something that’s personal to you, what they say might mean something to you. But how can everything that everyone thinks about you hold meaning? It would be like saying everyone has a right to define a color in their way. Or a flower, or whatever. Everyone’s going to see it slightly differently. And that’s a great thing. And it’s great for audiences, in some ways, to be able to communicate their feelings about music and art, because it allows underground things to really spread as well. But, yeah, I’m trying to engage in that less, even though I find the internet so addictive.

NT: It really is. I agree with you. Because everyone’s got a different opinion, you can’t possibly take it all in. It drives you mad. And gets you further away from what you were thinking on your own, which is what got you there in the first place.

FM: Yeah.

NT: Are you working on new music at the moment?

FM: Yeah, we’re writing now. And next year, depending on what we wrote, we’ll work out what and how, where, and when it will get released. But I still kind of feel like there’s still work to do on this second album to spread the songs. But yeah, we’re writing and we’re starting to think about what direction we would move in and what the next thing we want to say is, I guess.

NT: And five albums that you return to.

FM: Alright.

Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
It’s one that…I just think it’s one of the best albums of all time and it chills me every time I listen to it. And I hear something new in it and it feels very human and very joyful and very painful. That’s the sort of album that makes me think it’s worth keeping making music, to try and get closer to something that feels that honest and true, I guess.

The Strokes – Room on Fire
I would say Is This It, but it’s kind been almost overplayed in my life and is too associated with certain times growing up, it makes me feel uncomfortable to listen to, whereas Room on Fire, it’s kind of like the underdog of those two albums but I think it’s as good, and it’s one that I return to more because it’s less harrowing, in terms of…it’s less like a trip down memory lane. I can just enjoy it more on a surface level. All those first few Strokes albums are just classic.

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
It’s an album, there’s so much in it. It’s like going to a party every time you listen to it. If I ever need reminding why life is worth living, that’s now my go-to. It’s one I completely love.

Nick Cave – Push the Sky Away
It’s one of my favorite albums, probably my favorite album of his. And he’s my favorite artist, one of my favorite artists, and so it’s great to have a desert album that’s so recent by him. I can go back to it, and just lyrically, it’s just a masterclass, it feels like he’s on the top of his game.

Throbbing Gristle – 20 Jazz Funk Greats
If I want to listen to something slightly more for the mind, and just be challenged and remind me when art should be challenging I guess. An album that was one of the first albums that really proved to me that it’s worth pushing boundaries, especially knowing that that was made around the time when there were all these three chord punk bands. And Throbbing Gristle were making something genuinely uncomfortable and transgressive, in the sense of fun and irony at the same time.

Interview by Alice Severin

 

 

Link to Northern Transmissions page – Spector interview

Spector – live review – Mercury Lounge NYC

Spector

Mercury Lounge, New York City

December 3, 2015

a blood hot example of teetering on the edge, never falling – guaranteeing an audience riveted by his audacity

Spector. A band from the UK. Sometimes not knowing exactly what to expect, the stage is set for something to happen. Wait and see. The lure of the unknown quantity.

Of course, there is that one video of Spector’s performance at Reading and Leeds Festival, the thronging crowd singing along, knowing all the words. And Dev Hynes, otherwise known as Blood Orange, produced their latest album, Moth Boys. The lead singer, Fred Macpherson, was previously in Les Incompétents and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man. Thomas Shickle plays bass. Jed Cullen is on synth and guitar and Danny Blandy plays drums. Those are the details.

And there’s the fact that NYC traditionally is the first port of call for musicians who are looking to break into America. They’re big enough in their home market, usually the UK, that the decision has been taken to test the waters over here. What that means in practice is that bands who have played huge festivals, who have a devoted set of fans, who know their way around a stage, get to feel like it’s the first time all over again. It’s not. But playing your first gig in America is a pretty big deal. It’s a moment, and always illuminating to watch what happens faced with that reality.

So last Thursday, a mixed group of the curious and faithful turned up for Spector at Mercury Lounge in NYC. What was going to happen? Looking at that video of them at Reading, how was all that energy going to fit into the low-ceilinged space of a small club?

One thing about Mercury Lounge is that you’re so close to the performers as they make their way through the crowd, to the dressing room, to the stage. You turn with your beer, and you’re suddenly practically face to face with someone. He looks so familiar. There’s a moment of disconnect before you realize that he is the guy from the videos, the lead man, the host for tonight’s proceedings, Fred Macpherson.

As it’s New York City, a couple of people recognized him and most ignored him. It must be unnerving to feel like you’re starting from zero.

But if you could predict success on only one thing it might be the manager getting in the sound booth and politely but forcefully twirling the knobs for the sound check himself. Not trusting it to anyone else. The sound at the Mercury can be uneven. Hands on the wheel. Will it pay off?

When Spector takes the stage, there’s a second of hesitation, anticipation. And then they take charge and take over. From the very first half of the first song, there’s no doubt. The neat trick of two different microphones, one super processed, one not, to change up the vocals on the first song. Fred Macpherson unwrapping a whirlwind package of charisma and energy, as if the smartest guy in the class had suddenly leapt onto the professor’s desk and started singing his blog posts of searing observation and wit, while notebooks dropped to the floor. His deep, melodic voice and casually intense delivery of lines like “baby if you think you’re lonely now, wait until we’re alone”, “these girls like to pretend they can’t feel anything anymore”, “show me a good time, and I’ll show you a liar”, and “you always read the last page first so you’re ready for the worst” seem made to be committed to memory.

He starts out as he means to go on, taking a moment to passionately kiss the bass guitarist in ironic glam rock style. The band is talented, delivering crisply on every song, tight bass, structured keyboards, ringing guitar, all anchored by a careful drum sound. Spector has modern pop verve, with a dash of an 80s sensibility, mixed with indie indifference and enough attitude to play to the city, without scaring off anyone else. Gathering his long hair back, with his hands in constant motion, Macpherson’s buttoned up white shirt and glasses tear up the rule book on front man image. He stares intently into the eyes of the audience. Behind him, the band rips through the songs.

Macpherson is in charge, and steers the show. He gets the guy from New York who uploads a capella versions of their songs to come up on stage, and says he’s their biggest fan over here, dropping as an aside “maybe our only fan”. The newcomer may be nervous, but the singer is encouraging him over his stage fright, until he’s creating a big moment. There’s a genuine joy there as they both hug at the end of it. Fred Macpherson may have sheer ego running in his veins, but he’s not afraid to share the limelight with him or anyone else. There’s enough light pouring off him, a searing wit, smart asides for the crowd, always one step ahead.

The stage patter in Chevy Thunder, where he actually stops the song to make demands that he makes seem completely reasonable – is a blood hot example of teetering on the edge, never falling – guaranteeing an audience riveted by his audacity.

By the last song, the crowd is jumping up and down at the front. When Macpherson leaps up and wraps his legs around the bassist until they finally tumble into a homoerotic heap on the stage to screams from the audience, it’s a memorable end to a show filled with stand-out moments. Now everyone knows who they are when they make their way through the crowd. A tall blonde woman places herself strategically in his path for a kiss and a hug.

Songs, attitude, and daring. Spector is a band to watch out for. And the sound was brilliant.

Review by Alice Severin

Spector live review on Northern Transmissions

All The Sad Young Men

 

Reflections on Dave Gahan and Soulsavers at Town Hall, NYC

 

Dave Gahan and Soulsavers – live at Town Hall, NYC

October 22, 2015

 

Town Hall in New York City is one of those historic theatres, built at a time when acoustics mattered. Not to mention comfort, or the rare quality of being able to see the stage from wherever you are. It’s a far cry from the herd-them-in warehouse style of Terminal 5 or even Barclays Center where Depeche Mode played last time they were in NYC, where the economics of scale count more than quality. Did Dave Gahan choose it specially to highlight the vastly intimate proportions of a new album, Angels and Ghosts, which demonstrates a trajectory that purposely leaves behind the arena appeal of Depeche Mode? Or was it just available? Either way, there’s a quiet hum that fills the room as the mix of post-work suits and leather and black-clad Devotees file in. 815pm, and everyone who expected to make a late arrival is missing the instrumental intro. This is a one on one, intimate encounter, unspoiled by any preliminaries.

 

When the band finally enter, the cheers cascade on top of the applause. But it’s nothing compared to the swell of recognition when the elegantly attired Gahan, maroon jacket, black shirt and trousers, hair slicked back, comes into view. He creates a distinctive silhouette, oddly recognizable even in the half-lit shadows of the stage. When the first song, “In the Morning”, starts up, the lights grow slightly brighter, and the shouts, in contrast, reach hysteria levels. Will the music all be drowned out by the crowd? But the faithful want to hear him. Thankfully, because the sheer power of his voice, warm, and deep, rich, ringing out to the very back row, is almost incomprehensibly good. There’s something of the angel and demon there, that gospel feeling paired with the rock force of a vocal instrument used to carrying over drums and screams and other musicians who want their due. But that’s the magic of the partnership between Gahan and Rich Machin of Soulsavers and the entire outfit – Martyn LeNoble on bass, Sean Read on keyboards, Kevin Bales on drums, Rich Warren on guitar, Duke Garwood on guitar and horn, as well as the great backup singers – Wendi Rose, Janet Ramus and TJ Cole. They form a tight, cohesive outfit that has the chops and ears to listen to each other. There’s a musician’s appreciation of space and timing, and respect for the strengths of Dave Gahan’s voice that hasn’t been seen, dare I say it, since Songs of Faith and Devotion. And clearly it’s not the vocal instrument that has changed much, but the setting.

 

Physically, Gahan resembles nothing other than a sort of magic black-clad sprite (once the jacket goes), a caged dancer, filling up the stage with his presence and wiry energy. In this setting, the time honored Depeche moves – shaking his hips, wagging his ass at the audience, the strange little dance steps – don’t seem to be a nod to his regular band. Now they belong only to him, his lithe figure overflowing with a force he can barely contain, his voice releasing some of the fervor. In songs like “Don’t Cry”, or “The Last Time”, as he calls on the audience to respond, it’s impossible to refuse this exhortation, and the audience begins to be swept away by his intensity, with an increasing abandon. It’s especially at those moments that the gospel feel of many of the songs makes perfect sense. It’s a personal and universal journey. Lines like “This will be my last time, scratching and tapping my troubles away” from the beautiful “The Last Time” speak to a suffering that he clearly is in touch with and remembers, but is able to extend out to all longing, all of our struggles.

 

Of course, there’s no denying that Depeche Mode, from a certain point onwards, spent time exploring the blues and gospel roots of American music, melding them into a dance infused electronic grunge. It was a combination that worked more magically than one would expect from a so-called new wave, electronic band from the other side of the edge of London. But with the stellar production values demonstrated on Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, (missed by many), it all worked. And, it’s fair to say when Johnny Cash covers one of your songs, you’ve clearly hit a vein.

 

In 2015, the gospel nod, the slow vibe, the backing singers, made the theatre feel like a church, the streets of NYC left behind, as Gahan encouraged the faithful to feel. To respond! When the band ended with “My Sun” and he said good night, we all knew it couldn’t be the end, whether we’d taken a sneak peek at the LA setlist or not. Those of us that did (confession time) knew more was coming.   And when the band came back on, and Dave said, “you may know some of these, or not”, the wave of adoration that washed up from the crowd as he swept into two of the best known songs from his first two solo albums, “Kingdom” and “Dirty Sticky Floors”, lifted the energy even higher. As the notes of “Condemnation” rang out, the figure on the stage upon whom everyone was irresistibly fixed was a washed clean Gahan who looked for a moment like the passionate lost soul he was in those days, but now able to continue channeling that edge without further damage. And his powerful voice – riding on the support of the excellent Soulsavers – did full justice to the classic. The last song, “Walking in My Shoes”, also from Songs of Faith and Devotion, provided a moment of rare fulfillment, a musical synergy between band and singer and listeners, where all rose together and exhaled as one. That the second part of the show fit seamlessly with the new songs from Angels and Ghosts was testament to the symmetry between the two, the quality of the new offerings standing tall next to the classic history of the past.

 

Someone on Tumblr said “we were in the presence of god.” Perhaps, but certainly Dave Gahan breathed life into all of us, made the audience rise above our dusty, downtrodden souls. A magical moment, as was once said. It was a show that set the bar very high for whatever Depeche Mode might decide to do next. One has to hope that Dave Gahan’s ability to infuse a song with his damaged and resurrected, scarred and persistent strength will be front and center, where it belongs. Thanks to Rich Machin and Soulsavers for a collaboration that respected those considerable abilities – and for the brilliance of the band that let everyone shine that night.

 

 

Review by Alice Severin

review here press

 

Dave Gahan on Le Grand Journal

 

Dave Gahan – website with hologram video 

My interview with the iconic John Taylor of Duran Duran

Q Icon Award last week.  MTV Video Visionary Award tonight in Milan. The global force that is Duran Duran. Time to acknowledge a band that changed everything.

 

Nick Rhodes. Simon Le Bon. John Taylor. Roger Taylor. If you haven’t heard of Duran Duran, that’s unusual. At the recent CD signing in New York, every person who stopped on a busy rush hour street to ask why people were on line when everyone else was heading home, had heard of them. People from different countries, different boroughs, different lifestyles. There was the guy who asked what was going on and then said “New Yorkers. That’s what I love about this city. They’ll wait on line for sneakers, CDs, autographs, they’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want.” Not unlike Duran Duran themselves, who over 35 years of determined longevity, have weathered the” slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, as one of their countrymen said. They had it all. Every video you’ve ever seen since the dawn of the MTV age owes it all to their willingness to act up for the camera and their sense of the visual which they initially saw in their glam rock heroes like David Bowie and Roxy Music.

Oddly enough, the 80s seem to be enjoying a resurgence. Luckily enough, Duran Duran don’t care. Having succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, 100 million albums sold, sprawling houses, fast cars, and the whole pinup lifestyle, they don’t need to revisit any territory. Maybe that’s what makes their latest offering, Paper Gods, so brilliantly unexpected. It sounds like classic Duran Duran. It also sounds like the newest of the blisteringly new. And by listening to the lyrics of the title track “Paper Gods”, no one could fail to be struck by Simon Le Bon’s ability to analyze the current atmosphere of distrust and disappointment. In fact, there’s a dark side to this album which is startlingly on point. Perhaps especially so, when you consider it comes from a band that for a lot of people are consistently symbolic of a pleasure obsessive culture.

John Taylor, bassist and co-founder of Duran Duran, detailed the wildness of being at the top with an unexpected eye for detail and metaphor in his autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove – Love, Death, and Duran Duran. So it was a real pleasure when Northern Transmissions had a chance to interview the multi-talented musician. Every Duran Duran hit (like the famous bass line in “Rio”) has featured his subtle, deeply forward, riding-the-groove bass playing that owes as much to Motown and dance music as it does to a punk sensibility of taking all the chances. If you’re looking back to the 80s, there’s nowhere better to start than with the musicians who cut a stylish swathe defining the music and video of the time. If you’ve never appreciated the sheer talent and determination it takes to be riding the wave for over 30 years, have a listen to their new album which is a brilliantly addictive musical path weaving through light and dark. And read Taylor’s autobiography to see how crazy the game of being famous can get. Alice Severin had some questions for John Taylor – and he was as just as fierce and passionate about the music as you’d expect.

NT: How are you and where are you?

John Taylor: I’m a little tired this morning after arriving in New York last night from Los Angeles.

NT: The new album, Paper Gods, is incredible. And now it’s your first top 10 in the States for 22 years, number 5 in the UK. But you threw out everything you had at the beginning and started again. What was that like, and how did you reach that decision?

JT: We wrote a couple of songs with Mr Hudson, ‘You Kill Me With Silence’ and ‘Paper Gods’ and felt they set a whole new standard for what we were attempting to do.

NT: I went to see you play the other week on the Today show. Watching you all play live, there’s a certain energy and excitement that comes through- like you’re not just enjoying what you are doing, you’re energized by the music, by the interactions between all of you on stage.

JT: That’s why we do what we do.

NT: One of my favorite songs on the album is Northern Lights. The bass line, the way it plays with keyboard, coupled with the ethereal guitar of John Frusciante – both atmospheric and driving. Why was it a bonus track?

JT: That was a pre-Mr Hudson track but we all loved John’s contribution so we kept it in the race. When it came down to choosing the album running order it just didn’t feel strong enough as a song, nor did it make absolute sense in the album narrative.

NT: I heard somewhere that you write out and decide on the set lists. Do you see yourself as the band leader, a sort of guiding musical and organizational force? Do you feel a certain responsibility?

JT: In my own way I’m driven to make the show as best as I can. I’m a little obsessive regarding running orders, album sequencing, live shows, but that’s just my thing. The great thing about Duran is the amount of territory we cover between us.

NT: You’ve mentioned James Jamerson as an inspiration. And he was one of the greats – as described by Marvin Gaye, who wanted him for What’s Going On – “the incomparable James Jamerson”. Your playing has a lot of that feel – solid, warm, always driving the song but in a very subtle way. When did you start listening to Motown, and what does his playing mean to you?

JT: Funny, I was listening to ‘What’s Going on’ Sunday. The bass playing on that album is a masterclass in inventiveness, subtlety and rhythm. Motown was huge in the U.K – you heard it everywhere. It was inevitable that the sound would get under my skin.

Duran Duran GQ UK photoshoot

Image result for duran duran photos

Image result for duran duran photos

NT: At the GQ ceremony honoring Giorgio Moroder, you nodded in agreement when Nick Rhodes mentioned the band Chicory Tip. Clearly you’ve this wide range of knowledge about bands and musicians and music. How did you start exploring and is thinking about all music interconnected for you?

JT: Gosh that’s a big question. I’m tempted to say, ‘read my book’! You know, if you’re a music person you understand. You just get it, when your schoolmates are into other stuff, like school work…! and you’re the one daydreaming about the new Bowie album or Kanye or whatever music school kids daydream about today. And I never had to stop. I still get to spend my days obsessing about music. Mine or otherwise.

NT: What were your record shop excursions like? Do you like looking for obscure albums?

JT: Well again, I talk in detail about that in my book. I do like hunting through record stores, there are great stores in Atlanta and Austin (for example) and L.A. I like used vinyl – I like sleeves that have LIVED. Sometimes I go in with a sense of something particular but these days my tastes are so varied I can almost always find something interesting.

NT: Your autobiography, In the Pleasure Groove, was a really fascinating read. Do you think you’d like to write another book? You always come across as a very verbal person, with a flair for wit and description as well as being able to pick the right moment.

JT: Yeah, maybe…if I can figure out what the message of a second book would be.

NT: You’ve said that you’re competitive. How do you balance that with the creativity, or are those two elements compatible for you?

JT: They absolutely are. To succeed in anything you have to have a sense of competition. Maybe there is a way to succeed without it, but I haven’t gotten there.

NT: Are you thinking at all yet about the next album, or is the focus on the tour? Do you ever write down ideas on the road?

JT: Not one bit. I’m all about Paper Gods.

NT: And – five records that you always go back to.

JT: The White Album – The Beatles

C’est Chic – Chic

London Calling – The Clash

Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

Northern Transmissions -John Taylor – click the link

 

 

Mercury Prize Nominees – my interviews with Wolf Alice and Jamie xx

Congratulations to Mercury Prize Nominees – Wolf Alice and Jamie xx. I did interviews with both over the summer. See what they each had to say about their music and why they do what they do.

 

Jamie xx

Jamie xx

Jamie xx

Jamie Smith, better known as Jamie xx, has had a meteoric rise in the music world. He’s accomplished so much already – first with The xx, whose debut album, xx, won them a Mercury Prize, and grabbed top position in a host of end of year lists. Their second album, Coexist, was released to major acclaim, and The xx were in demand. Shows like the limited run series in New York City at the Park Avenue Armory attracted a range of high-profile fans from the art and film world. And Jamie xx has created remixes of artists as diverse as Adele and Radiohead, and worked as a producer with Drake and Alicia Keys. After releasing a number of singles, his first highly anticipated solo album, In Colour, is finally going to be released in June. As he said, “I’ve gone from being a fan of electronic music, admiring great artists and producers, to feeling like I’m a part of their world.” There’s no question that this release will only confirm his status. Northern Transmissions was able to connect with him as he arrived here to prepare big summer of festivals, both here and in Europe and the UK. Alice Severin talked with Jamie xx about the brilliant new album. Soft spoken, he gave the impression of an individual with an encyclopedic knowledge of musical artists and a deep connection to what he does.

I guess when I first play them, I really don’t know how well…basically if they will make people dance or not. I never expected things like “Girl” to work so well live, because it’s not like, it’s not even the same tempo as anything else I’ve played. But it does work. It’s nice, it probably takes people by surprise in a way, it’s a bit different, yeah.

Jamie xx keeps talking – click link

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice

London-based Wolf Alice fears no genre. As the repressive need for boundaries evaporates, the four piece has jumped into the fray with an array of songs that casually parades their mastery of the free range. From pop to garage, grunge to folk, the band stamps every song with their inventive energy, like on their first official EP, Blush. Songs like “White Leather” scored them comparisons with The xx. No surprise that right from the start, the band has been one to watch. Now Wolf Alice is due to release their first album, titled My Love Is Cool, on June 23 through Dirty Hit/RCA, and the latest single, “Giant Peach,” was one of Zane Lowe’s hottest records in the world. They’ve been on tour in the US and UK, and are now gearing up for festival season, which gave Northern Transmissions a chance to hear from the hard-working band. Ellie Rowsell, the front woman of Wolf Alice, talked about creativity, challenges, and cute pets with Alice Severin.

We just have a lot of influences and we all have a hand in writing, so it makes sense that our sound is quite varied. It’s important to us as we don’t want to be pigeonholed, and we like the freedom of being able to take our music to different realms.

More right this way…

 

 

 

Katie Monks and Dilly Dally

Katie Monks of Dilly Dally talks about what matters…

Dilly Dally has been kicking around Toronto for a while, but their moment to step under the bright spotlight has arrived. Comprised of Katie Monks on vocals and guitar, Liz Ball on guitar, and newer members Jimmy Tony on bass, and Benjamin Reinhartz on drums, Dilly Dally has found a perfect line up, one that can deliver their spot-on mix of urgent emotion and empowering risk taking. With their debut LP, Sore, coming out on Partisan Records in October, it’s beyond time for the rest of the world to get to know them. The first single off the album, “Desire”, unleashed a powerful sound combining anger and melody. Now the second single, “Purple Rage”, has come out to blast away any end of summer blues or regrets. The band’s been getting play and attention from a lot of different quarters, including Zane Lowe and Noisey. Not a surprise, when Katie Monks’ vocal delivery and fierce energy create an irresistible force field of defiance and frustration. Northern Transmissions wanted to hear more about the band. Alice Severin caught up with Katie Monks in New York City, where they talked about the album and the fight to find your own voice.

NT: How are you and where are you?

KM: I’m in New York. Just waking up and whatever. I’ve had a slow morning.

NT: That sounds perfect. What are you doing in New York?

KM: I’m just hanging with my brother.

NT: Nice. Anywhere in particular you’ve been going, or anything you like to do here?

KM: Honestly, this is my first time chilling here where I’m not like doing band stuff, so. Just been like kicking back, going to the beach today. Pretty minimal, to be honest. A pretty chill version of New York.

NT: That sounds ideal. It’s going to be a good beach day. Which beach?

KM: I think it’s called Rockaway. Apparently there’s water and stuff. (laughs)

NT: So you’ve been doing lots of interviews lately and the band has been getting a lot of attention, which is great. So what’s life been like for you and the band lately?

KM: Life has been chill. We’re just kind of antsy, I guess, because we’ve been working on this band for like six years now, had different members and stuff. It feels like we just have so much energy pent up inside us, and we just want to play shows all the time. Since we’re not on the road at the moment, I think everyone’s just kind of like feeling antsy, and I don’t know, just trying to keep busy with alcohol and working in restaurants and stuff.

NT: You’re going to be touring in the fall, you’ve got a big tour lined up to promote the album.

KM: Yeah, I’m so excited. It’s like our first real big trans-state, and we’re headlining, which is crazy.

NT: Have you got a tour bus? It looks like you will be out West a lot, then you’ll be back here in New York.

KM: Yeah, we’ve got like a crusty band van, that one of our friends will drive, do merch, pretty DIY tour situation. It’ll be a good adventure. But no tour bus yet.

NT: The band’s has been going for a long time, and you’ve got new members. But you’ve said that you feel like you’re all friends. You’ve known Liz for a really long time. Does that make the experience a lot more fun?

KM: Yeah, yeah. Totally. Literally everyone we work with on the band, it’s like if they’re not, if there isn’t like a real personal connection, we’re just not interested. And of course, that is super real with the band. We’re lucky we are all friends. Let’s see what happens in five years, but yeah. (laughs) Who knows? We haven’t been in a band with only each other for as long as we may be so we will see what happens. More to come.
NT: I’ve been listening a lot to the latest song and the video from the new album. What’s the writing and recording process been like? I’m excited to hear the entire album.

KM: Yeah, back in the winter, I quit my job at a restaurant, I was cooking breakfast, and I broke up with a friend I was dating, we mutually broke up. I went back to my parent’s house – I’m 26, it kinda sucks to go back, but just wanted to focus on literally writing as much material as I could before we got in the studio. I find that sometimes the newest songs are like just come out really good when you record them.

NT: That’s really true. And it’s hard to have a voice as a woman, in any business, especially in the music business. It must be strange being asked for the sound bite – ok, define everything in ten words, go.

KM: Yeah. I mean, it would be so easy if I could go, yeah, this record is about when I went to the zoo last week. (laughs) Whatever. Yeah. Definitely that hit me, the fact that I even feel like that anyone has to fight so hard to be heard.

More this way….press the link below

Interview with Katie Monks of Dilly Dally

 

 

Desire

 

 

Lull the band from London – say hello to noise pop

The second I set foot across the pond, or they come here, I’m rushing to a concert. The idea of hearing them loud and live…on serious repeat on the playlist.

From the moment “Bubble Tea” comes soaring through the speakers, flooding the room with layers of sound, it’s clear that the self-titled debut EP from London newcomers Lull is something special. Lull isn’t riding a shoegaze wave, they’re generating it. Like a massive storm out to sea, their sound is a mixture of commanding tension and watery melancholy, pierced through with the flashes of blistering, swirling guitar, and anchored by a powerful, crashing drum sound. Toby, Jon, Filipe, and Simon, who came together by complete chance to form Lull, demonstrate their mastery of melodic reverberation. The band complete each other, their heady music forming a signature sillage, like a scented trail left by a fragrance, or a wake left on the water, leaving no doubt this is a debut to watch. Out in North America on PaperCup Music, the EP has been getting a lot of love over here. Northern Transmissions was able to catch up with the band in London. Alice Severin talked with songwriter and guitarist Jon about influences, style, and substance.

Northern Transmissions: How are you and where are you?

Jon: Yeah, I’m doing great. I’m in Spitalfields in London, in East London where I work. And yeah, just about to decide whether to get a baguette or something a bit more bourgeois. (laughs)

NT: Are you still based in North London, all of you?

J: Yeah, so the majority of us live in North London. Yeah, we all live sort of north London. It’s actually quite remarkable that we were this close.

NT: So the EP’s come out in June, and you’ve been playing gigs. How’s it been going?

J: Yeah, most of the shows that we’ve been playing have been in London. We played one show in Portugal, because our drummer Filipe is from Portugal. So it was quite easy to get this gig hooked up, which was an amazingly hot experience. Honestly, I think it was like the hottest show we’ve ever played – it was crazy. Mostly, it’s just been London shows for now. We’ve been speaking with some friends to try and do a more regional tour of the UK, places like Manchester and Sheffield and that sort of thing.

NT: That would be really great.

J: Yeah, it would be good to get out of London for a bit. I’m from Manchester originally, and I really, really want get back there and play some shows, definitely.

But I think Toby is into a lot more US indie rock sort of things that are just a lot more clearly rhythmically structured. He sort of brought the pop balance to it. But I think that my insistence on there being this drowning pool of noise gave us that combination, gave us that signature “noise pop” sound, I guess?

More interview this way…tap tap

Day Wave live review at Mercury Lounge, NYC

Day Wave
Mercury Lounge, NYC
August 19

Day Wave, the new alt-emo-surf-pop band, the project of Jackson Phillips, played last night at Mercury Lounge. Promoting the new EP, Headcase, the five member live stage band dove right into the set.

Starting out with the single, “Nothing At All”, the sweet vocals contrasting with the world weary ennui of the lyrics “What am I good for/Somebody tell me/I don’t know anymore”, the band was crisp and energetic right from the start, a sharp snare sound keeping things tight. The crowd was right there with them. The second song, “Total Zombie” elicited a howl of pleasure of a pair of girls in front, possibly delighted with Phillips’ doe eyed, chiseled features and stage presence, a mix of earnest watchfulness and introspective stillness that matched the bittersweet beach party reflections of the lyrics.

The music is carefully put together, fashioning a surf-infused depression that you can dance to. The summery appeal of the songs was not lost on the sold-out crowd. After a few songs, Jackson Phillips said hello and announced that it was their first show in New York. The audience weren’t shy about shouting out their approval.

Day Wave knows the appeal of a hooky chorus and a heart-tugging middle section that allows even more emo verve to surge through. By the time they reached the last song, “We Try But We Don’t Fit In”, a serious anthem of summer energy, the relaxed ease with which Day Wave aced their New York debut left the audience convinced they had been in the right place to be last night.

Day Wave is playing a late show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, tonight, August 20. Go catch the wave.

Day Wave on Northern Transmissions