Bedfordshire wunderkind Alfie Templeman makes bedroom-pop worthy of billboards

Credit: Danny North/NME

Like most 16-year-olds in 2019, Alfie Templeman finds himself growing up torn between a maelstrom of political uncertainty, environmental crisis and, well, tweeting pictures of your face photoshopped onto a dog. Unlike his peers though, Templeman’s face has been showing up in some even less likely places – namely splashed across billboards in LA and Times Square. With gloriously hazy new single ‘Used to Love’ adding to an already impressive list of early releases, he might need to start getting used it.

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Dry Cleaning: the London group uniting murky post-punk, Meghan Markle and really weird YouTube comments

Photo credit: Hanna Katrina

For those who possess both the requisite drunken bravado and burning desire to maul Robbie Williams’ back catalogue, karaoke parties are rarely the start of something beautiful. Mistakes are made, memories are lost, and some traitor inevitably captures the whole tawdry scene on video. When Lewis Maynard, Tom Dowse and Nick Buxton – old friends whose previous bands had crossed paths in London – united to belt out some Deftones bangers, however, it proved to be the unlikely catalyst to start a new band together.

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Liam Gallagher says he’d legalise drugs if he was Prime Minister

Liam Gallagher has declared his first mission if he was Prime Minister – legalising and improving the quality of drugs in the UK.

“I’d legalise drugs because they are shocking these days,” the ‘One of Us’ singer told Mr Porter in a new interview. “Improve the quality and make some money out of it. Get the Peruvian back. ‘Cos at the moment, I’m not enjoying the quality of the drugs.”

In the interview, which also touched on Noel’s daughter Anaïs being brought into their recent feuding, Liam commented on the difference between rock ‘n’ roll nightlife now and in the 90s.

“I remember the 1990s and it was full of cunts back then. Now it’s full of cunts who want your picture with a phone camera. But now the drugs have got worse, so it’s full of cunts with cameras and shit drugs.”

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Nine Songs: Bat For Lashes

 

When Natasha Khan announced a new album informed by the baby pinks and teals of 80s music and cinema, it would have been easy to sneer at it as the latest cultural power-grab for nostalgia, the aural equivalent of a New Coke can left in shot a little too long. That it would be a costume to dress up in for the night rather than something, you know, authentic. As it turns out, Lost Girls is a phenomenal record, which should come as little surprise for an artist whose just about to release her fifth on the bounce as Bat For Lashes (six if you count the Sexwitch LP, which you absolutely should). But that’s almost beside the point.

The point is that costumes and make-up are ways of telling stories; when we strike a pose, we reach towards something higher than the everyday motions learned by rote, which is ultimately what Khan does best. Each of her albums carries a concept, and yet even when they’re playing dress-up – quite literally in the case of Pearl, the blonde-wigged chaos twin she built into the Two Suns narrative – they’re telling us something about the artist, about ourselves.

Continue reading at The Line of Best Fit

We’re Terrifyingly Unprepared to Defend Against Extreme Weather

 

If you spent any amount of time getting high with political science undergrads in the last 15 years, you’re probably familiar with the boiled frog concept. The theory goes that a frog placed in boiling water will immediately leap out again, but a frog placed in tepid water before being slowly heated to boiling point will barely notice the change and, in true English spirit, die out of politeness rather than complain. Unfortunately, no less a figure than the Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at Washington DC’s National Museum of Natural History made his position beautifully clear on the veracity of the theory: “Well that’s, may I say, bullshit.”

Nonetheless, it’s proved to be a hugely expedient analogy in both political and psychological terms, with an irresistible climate change parallel; unsurprisingly, Al Gore borrowed it for his 2006 climate treatise An Inconvenient Truth. While the theory may not tell us much about amphibian cognition, it reminds us that climate disaster doesn’t necessarily start with Dwayne Johnson attempting to navigate a speedboat up the crest of a tsunami. It starts with a punch-up at a public swimming pool in southeast London.

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A Flower Bloomed: Conan Gray Interviewed

 

The pop star has barely been on stage for a few seconds before the screaming begins. At the front of the venue, diehard fans have cast off any prior nerves about seeing their idol in person; now all that tightly coiled energy is sprung into cheering, crying, jumping up and down, singing every word back to every song.

I close my eyes and picture the scene: BTS at Wembley, perhaps, or One Direction at the San Siro. When I open them again, the small stage is dominated by a slightly awkward young man, school tie wrapped around his head, occupying an early afternoon slot at Brighton’s 140-capacity Komedia Studio.

And it’s sensational.

Continue reading at Clash (cover feature)

Living With The Human Machines: Sarah Angliss Interviewed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since Hugo’s head fell off and his teeth spilled across the stage, Sarah Angliss has been hesitant about bringing him on tour. The experimental musician has worked with a variety of collaborators over the years – as I speak to her on the phone, she’s building up to a performance at Supersonic festival, where she’ll be appearing as a trio with Sarah Gabriel (vocals) and Stephen Hiscock (percussion) – but her 1930s ventriloquist dummy head on a stick may not make the journey this time. “I worried that no one would enjoy the show without him,” she confesses, an anxiety belying the fact that her entire live show is extraordinary beyond Hugo.

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Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry

Returning to the Orkney Islands of his childhood, Erland Cooper instinctively sought to map out the nooks and crannies of life there as organically as possible. When it came time to record ‘Sule Skerry’, the second album in a triptych sketching the region, the musician didn’t merely seek out standard field recordings and local commentary, but impulse responses – the sonic capture of a specific acoustic environment, echoes marked with as much prestige as the call.

Continue reading at Clash

Some Good News About the Environment! (But Also Some Bad!)

Photo credit Pierre Crosby

On the 15th of March, 2019, children around the world walked out of school and took to the streets to march in the first global climate strike. Across the world, classrooms from Tokyo to Kampala emptied to send out the message; in Stockholm’s central square, particular attention was being paid to 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, whose activism had seen her nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize just one day prior.

The strikes received sufficient media attention to call them a success, but Thunberg knows better than anyone that placid token gestures can be more dangerous than silence. The now-famous speech she gave at Davos hit home specifically because it took aim at those polite expressions of contrition – what we might call the “thoughts and prayers” narrative – in the way we talk about climate emergency. “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” she said. “I want you to panic.”

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Channel-Surfing the Apocalypse: The Strange World Of… Daniel Higgs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The yggdrasil is the great tree of Norse mythology that connects all of the Nine Worlds, the supreme unifier between heaven and ash and everything in between. The term essentially translates as ‘Odin’s horse’, though various hair-splitting etymologies delineate its importance as either a symbol of the gallows or a dread call to Ragnarök, the succession of natural disasters and grand battles that ultimately purge the planet of humanity, the better to purify its scorched earth once more. It is part-way through a discussion of this concept with Daniel Higgs that he turns his ire to CD-ROMs.

“So you get a tool user’s manual, and then you gotta watch a movie about it before you can go use it, you know? It makes me uneasy,” he tells me down the phone from Washington, DC. To be in conversation with Higgs, the former frontman of legendary post-hardcore band Lungfish, is to be frequently drawn down such rabbit holes – only to be dragged sideways at the last moment, a fresh excavation each time. If it sounds exhausting, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an invigorating seventy minutes.

Continue reading at The Quietus