Next Wave: Joy Crookes

The first time Joy Crookes laughs in the video for ‘Power’, it’s a disarming moment. The video, shot entirely in black and white, matches the song’s ele-gance in both purpose and style: classic yet modern, collective yet singular, softly spoken and sharp-tongued all at once. If that’s the case, it’s perhaps be-cause Crookes seeks to celebrate women, to exhibit joy, as much as denigrate those who seek to compromise their integrity. “You came here through a woman,” she sings. “Show some fucking respect.”

Published in Clash Magazine (and online)

Jon Hopkins – Singularity

Whatever proximities we care to chart across the star maps of ambient and electronica, both share a light that typically burns in cooler shades. On 2013’s ‘Immunity’, Jon Hopkins supposedly charted the course of a night out; in utilitarian terms, the bangers were at the front. This year’s leitmotif is the intersection of city and forest, but if there’s a discernible change of pace on ‘Singularity’, it’s perhaps that the record’s harder and softer moments are less discrete.

Published in Clash Magazine (and online)

Grouper – Grid of Points

We’re going to the beach. Not the clean, iridescent shores of film scenes or sepia photographs, signifiers of a landscape that privilege the temporal over the spatial — it is always the childhood or the honeymoon that we beckon toward, and whether the sand in the picture belongs to Blackpool or New Jersey is mostly irrelevant — but the real beach. The sun is not shining. It rained a few hours ago, in fact, or is just about to, because there’s a dull kind of sadness in the air that lingers either side of the storm. To your left is a row of shops and cafés, closed on Sunday. To your right is a parking lot, asphalt grey in keeping with the weather, littered but otherwise empty. In front of you is the sea.

The sunless beach is a powerful image for the same reason that suicide rates spike at Christmas: from early childhood, we are inundated with words and pictures reinforcing the idea that happiness is something to be manually allocated, that weekends and holidays are the ecstatic reprieves that we deserve from our institutional labor, and that these times and places represent our best shot at real joy. When reality doesn’t match the picture, our first assumption is never that the picture needs fixing, but that our lives are out of sync. The map supersedes the territory. Like no other artist, Grouper’s Liz Harris seems to sing from these points of dislocation, lighting up lost or forgotten neural pathways like a lighthouse in the fog. In contrast to 2014’s colossal RuinsGrid of Points feels relatively slight, though it remains incredibly spacious.

Continue reading at Tiny Mix Tapes

“I’m not afraid to be vulnerable”: DiS Meets Half Waif

 

Sifting through the embers of a year, extinguished across all but a few scattered patches of colour or warmth, we find ourselves longing for either the fire or the ash. To remember the vibrancy of our hurts as brightly as the healing pleasures that allayed them, however briefly; or else to stub it out, to usher in the comfort of a charcoal totality that doesn’t hurt this much. Listening to ‘Lavender Burning’, the heartbreaking introduction to what might be Half Waif’s first masterpiece, neither suffices. It is a record that lives and breathes the ‘strange kind of loving’ that occupies the embers, the infinite split between love and loss.

Continue reading at Drowned in Sound

Tom Misch – Geography

Perhaps you blinked and missed it, but Tom Misch is kind of a big deal these days, already scheduled into festival slots above the likes of Flying Lotus and Mavis Staples this summer. For his debut album ‘Geography’, the 22-year-old has roped in several guest appearances, and across the duration of an LP, it becomes abundantly clear why: like fellow producer-turned- guitarist Mark Ronson, no-one’s really paying to hear him jam out Stevie Wonder covers.

Published in Clash Magazine (and online)

Laura Veirs – The Lookout

For all our literary devotion to sunlit afternoons and dark nights of the soul, real life rarely works in such easy contrasts. Our gold medal moments are flecked with sadness, swollen in purples and blues under the skin, and we scold ourselves for allowing the compromise: this should be the job, the house, the lover, the moment. “How can a child of the sun seem so cold?” Laura Veirs asks on her tenth album The Lookout, and though the line appears only once in allusion to the Colorado native’s childhood memories, it is the question that permeates the entire record.

Continue reading at Gold Flake Paint

“I’m always a little surprised when we make a new record”: DiS Meets Yo La Tengo

 

Drums are fading in. In film soundtracks, the immediate crash of cymbals is never cause for concern, but an arrival of known quantities; the singularity has passed, the explosions are here, chaos reigns. It’s the fade that unsettles, that sweeping sense that war is on the horizon. Yo La Tengo have just made a record called There’s A Riot Going On, and by the time opening number ‘You Are Here’ has swung into full view – by the time the record begins to show its hand – you realise this is, in fact, the most relentlessly serene the band have sounded since Summer Sun. The riot is elsewhere.

Continue reading at Drowned in Sound

Into The Shadows: DiS Meets Fabrizio Cammarata

 

The first thing you notice are the houses floating in the sky. Flashes of light rise up from the water, one after another, each one an impossible feat of geometry and space that rents the physical world asunder, unclear whether it should belong to the ocean or the stars. As the bus moves further into the city and your eyesight adjusts to unseen horizons, realisation dawns: the creases above the light do not cleave the sky from the clouds, but the mountains from the sky. In England, certainly, seaside towns are not usually distracted by mountains. If this sounds familiar, perhaps you have also seen Palermo for the first time on a late evening bus journey.

As I depart the bus and find my suitcase, a man is already stood waiting for me. Even by Sicilian standards, Fabrizio Cammarata is absurdly handsome, and although he confesses to several stories of having his heart broken across the weekend to follow, one suspects it has worked both ways. In Palermo, the eyes begin to adjust to beauty as they would to the dark; by the time we’ve reached the renovated 19th Century palace that I’d be calling home for the next two days, I fear that the slightly fancier Wetherspoons pubs of Exeter and Sheffield may no longer hold the same majesty.

Continue reading at Drowned in Sound

Wild Beasts – Last Night All My Dreams Came True

On a clear night — wide-eyed, gin-soaked, fists raised, starry-skied — the streets of towns and small cities take on their own blurry glamour. The shatter of glass after dark is a starting pistol here, spurred on by the sound of sirens and the faint taste of blood in the mouth, sprinting around corners and side streets. In the early years, at least, every Wild Beasts song seemed desperate to synthesize that juvenile adrenaline, crooning about exchanges that were sometimes brawling, sometimes lusty, often both. Last Night All My Dreams Came True is their attempt to distill 16 years and five albums into one loving retrospective, a “best of” collection where each song has been re-recorded in one final, go-for-broke session. For a band whose magic was almost entirely captured in those early scenes, it leans pretty hard on their late-career Junior Boys impression, but consistently lifts those tracks beyond their original pallor.

Continue reading at Tiny Mix Tapes