Say No To The Yes Men: Nadine Shah Interviewed

Nadine Shah is texting me from a Wetherspoons. ‘I’m gonna duck out of this shithole and call you in 6mins. That ok?’ Half an hour later, we’re wrapping up with a discussion of their gin palace. (She’s got a double waiting inside.) Somewhere in between, we cover the Syrian refugee crisis, British nationalism, the current Tory government, immigration, gender, and revolution.

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Kesha – Rainbow

As our march toward the world’s end builds to a canter, the narratives we wrap around human tragedies both great and small remain the same: resurrection, hope not hate, the phoenix rising from the ashes. After Eagles of Death Metal survived the terrorist attack that interrupted their 2015 Bataclan show in Paris, the appropriate responses began flooding in, spearheaded by (a) a collection of largely ersatz covers of ‘I Love You All The Time’, and (b) the usual well-meaning platitudes about hope and fear. Frontman Jesse Hughes didn’t get the memo. ‘I know people will disagree with me,’ he told The Guardian a few months later, ‘but it just seems like God made men and women, and that night guns made them equal.’ Suddenly, it appeared the protagonists had their own complex moral code, one that didn’t necessarily fit with the scripted liberal response. The phoenix proved as unmanageable as the ashes.

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Mammút – Kinder Versions

The vocabulary of post-punk is one that shifts, but never bends. Its album reviews – certainly this side of ‘Silent Alarm’ – are littered with the kind of abrasive descriptors that suggest the album may also function as a rudimentary bandsaw: jagged, angular, serrated, combined with a mitre fence for accurate repetitive cuts. Thank heavens for Mammút then, whose fourth album ‘Kinder Versions’ is equally arch at its edges and swollen with unkempt joy in the middle.

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Siobhan Wilson – There Are No Saints

We’re all chancing along the precipice, of course. The gentlest of pressure applied to the glued-up, duct-taped seams of the responsible world finds the whole thing bursting apart, and with it our job titles, rictus grins, marriage vows, sobriety chips, management buzzwords. On her second album There Are No SaintsSiobhan Wilson identifies herself as “neither Cathy nor Anna Karenina,” but perhaps an interlocutor between the two: pulling at the scuzzy fabric and binding it into something both prettier and more substantial.

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Waxahatchee makes her voice heard on Out in the Storm

There’s a pivotal scene that closes out the first season of Spaced, the cult TV debut of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright, in which Tim has an epiphany waiting for his ex-girlfriend to arrive at the bar. “It’s like walking in on yourself, you know? Like, ‘What are you doing?’ That’s how I felt tonight feeling my heart miss a beat every time the door opened. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’” On her fourth album as WaxahatcheeOut in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield’s natural introspection transcends navel-gazing to place distance between herself and a toxic relationship, and the effect is both vituperative and life-affirming: in its most brutally honest scenes, we catch the Alabama native walking in on herself.

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Everything Slays: What Indie Rock Can Learn From Animation’s Queer Voices

 

The world is a sharp place, and art that serves only to map out its painful edges proves as useful and welcome as Owen Smith’s post-election hubris, or chlamydia, or waking up and realising that Owen Smith’s post-election hubris has somehow given you chlamydia. The scenes that leave a real scar are those that locate the intersection of tragedy and farce; the ragged contours, the poignant moments Simon Reynolds once described as “the exquisite meshing of two contradictory feelings”. It’s driven by characters who compromise the expectations attached to their role, and by proxy, the way we identify ourselves within them. The world’s villains are still easy enough to caricature. But if you happen to fall outside the heteronormative matrix, chances are the heroes don’t look anything like you either.

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Beach House – B-Sides and Rareties

‘All I wanted comes in colours,’ Victoria Legrand once sang, and while it’s tempting to mark that as a collection of euphonically pleasing words rather than a mission statement, there’s an element of both. Perhaps I’ve read too much into Beach House’s artwork over the years, but all those records seem to hold together as cohesive shades from start to finish: the woozy amber of the first two releases; Teen Dream’s pearly whites; the cobalt midnight of BloomDepression Cherry, of course. It’s no coincidence that their reviews tend to be written in visual terms, too, with inclusion of the term ‘widescreen’ increasingly mandatory since their 2010 breakthrough. Whichever way you cut it, Beach House records tend to come in colours.

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