Albums Club #38: Black Midi, Pip Blom, Two Door Cinema Club, Cate LeBon, Yeasayer, Madonna

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Getintothis’ Albums Club for July 2019

As the temperature rockets, Getintothis brings you the hottest albums of the month.

At the time of writing, Glastonbury is in full swing.

Now, Glastonbury is big enough to be many things to many people.  It can be mainstream, it can be leftfield, it can be pop, it can be rock, it can be…well you get the picture.

But it can also still be controversial.

This is, of course, a peculiar British type of controversy; the kind of thing that John Peel described as ‘an occasional fit of irrational morality‘ that sees tabloids jump on something, seemingly at random, and then proceed to fill column inches with faux outrage.

One example of this year was with the previously little known outfit called Killdren.  The band, who describe themselves as ‘a two-bit rave-punk band with a smelly attitude‘ feature in their set a song called Kill Tory Scum (Before They Kill You), which features, as you might expect, some fairly violent lyrics, stating ‘Murder them all to the beat of a drum, kill Tory scum, kill Tory scum‘.

Such was the media outcry that the band were removed from Glastonbury‘s lineup.

Had they played this ‘inflammatory’ song with no media attention, it would likely have been heard by around 0.1% of the audience and received zero television or radio coverage.  But once the papers get a whiff of some lite scandal, they like to run with it.

The overall effect of this was that Killdren had their name in the major papers, on TV and radio and have, you would imagine, never been so popular.  Such is the way with publicity of even this ‘negative’ type.

Was it right for Stormzy to publicly shame Snowbombing Festival?

Friday at Glastonbury saw more controversy in the form of Stormzy‘s headline set.

There were of course the usual cries of whether a rap star (this time with just one album out) should be headlining Glastonbury.  So far so yawnsome, we’ve been here before.

But when performing Vossi Bop, Stormzy got the vast crowd to sing ‘Fuck the government and fuck Boris‘.

In fact, he seemed to enjoy this so much, he repeated the process all the while wearing a Union Jack stab vest.  Live on the BBC.

And what has the media reaction been?  Well, nothing really.  It has been mentioned in reviews, but only in passing.

Call me cynical, but it’s almost as if the media is up for a spot of pretend outrage when it suits them (and when it garners a few hits on their websites), but only if their target is an unknown band who do not have huge amounts of support behind them.

But when faced with one of the country’s biggest stars. backed up by 100,000 people shouting anti government slogans they would rather not be seen to be going against the grain.

This is the media equivalent of a bully who only picks on little kids it knows can’t put up a fight.  Which sadly sums up our media in too many situations these days.

I suppose it is still good to know that, despite some pandering to media hysteria, Glastonbury still has some teeth and for that, this year, we can thank Stormzy.

This was a deserved headline slot from Grime’s number one star and saved the headline slots from being too safe and too old.

Anyway, enough of that.  Let us delve into the best albums that the month of July can offer us. – Banjo, Getintothis features editor.

Album of the Month

Black Midi: Schlagenheim
Rough Trade Records

You either love them or you hate them.

St Vincent loves them.

And Laura Snapes hates them.

Either way, it’s good to have a band that elicits such strong opinions. The Black Midi sound is uncompromising and distinctly noncommercial, and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Their UK tour is currently sorting each camp from the other.

The dismissive stand on one side, while the band may have some fans for life on the other.

They’ve been given a platform rare to most groups in the current climate, and exposure unheard of for a band playing such experimental music.

The question now is: how will they use it?

After having had time to reflect on their live show, and to live with the album for a week, it’s clear that the band are already beginning to move away from the album. The songs are starting to mutate and metastasise.

We can see from recordings of gigs in 2018 that the album is a fairly faithful rendering of the songs as they stood then; that each riff, each line, each note has been carefully considered. The superlative drumming of Morgan Simpson notwithstanding, the songs are set in stone.

This much is clear from the detail on their recorded offerings: the fuzzy rattle haunting Of Schlagenheim, like a lost phone vibrating on your head; the anxiety-inducing feedback that introduces bmbmbm; the heartbeat electronics and Tibetian percussion of Years Ago.

For all its complexity, this is a very well thought-out, clear-headed record.

It’s been built from the sustained analysis of hours of improvisation. It’s this, along with the spontaneity of Simpson’s drumming (even he doesn’t know what he’s going to play until it happens, we’d wager) that gives Black Midi their sense of lawlessness.

But while Of Schlagenheim isn’t quite like anything else you’ve heard before, there are still touchstones.

The stop-start breakdown of the main riff in 953 recalls yourcodenameis:milo.

Speedway, with its flat, simmering groove, recalls Slint and CODY-era Mogwai.

Near DT, MI, has echoes of Fugazi at their most anguished and unsettled.

Years Ago sounds like Shellac and Boredoms having a bees-eating competition. Western, meanwhile, has echoes of Led Zeppelin’s Over The Hills and Far Away.

That the band should have their own, distinctive sound while all these influences are present is no mean feat. This is the main strength of their debut album.

Schlagenheim is an exhilarating listen, a breath of fresh air when every “next big thing” you hear is rehashed landfill indie, or well-rehearsed PR drama.

That said, there’s a sense that Black Midi are only just coming to terms with their powers; that they need to make more of their anchors – like Ducter, with its simple, shock-and-awe breakdown – to help stabilise their more improvisational proclivities.

The future is going to be interesting. There are already some interesting lyrical conflicts of style, which could pull the band in different directions; the politics of Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin (Near DT, MI: poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water supply) versus the Georgie Greep flights of fancy (Western: a pink caterpillar with six anorexic children make an appearance here).

For now though, there’s Of Schlagenheim; an imperfect, chaotic listen, one that’s been a shot in the arm for those who are so inclined.

Virtuosity and creativity combined with some of the best drumming you’re likely to hear, along with a little bit of craziness. – Matthew Eland

Black Mountain: Destroyer
Jagjaguwar

There’s something quite magical about entering the Swan Pub in town. Barely touched in how many decades it positively roars ’70s Marquee era hard rock.

Going down those stairs is like entering the bowels of hell while simultaneously accompanied by the best darts walk on music ever.

Or ring walk. Whatever sport you like, the clattering percussion and throwback riffing makes you feel alive.  Just don’t pinch a regular’s bar stool or you may expect trouble.

Black Mountain‘s Destroyer evokes similar feelings – a 38 minute rollicker complete with duelling harmonised guitars and huge tub thumping beats – it positively radiates leather wastejackets, denim patches and dodgy moustaches.

Yet, this is no throwback of an album – quite the opposite. With founding members Amber Webber and Joshua Wells now departed, a new line up boasts singer Rachel Fannan of Sleepy Sun (who sounds FANTASTIC), and three drummers: Adam Bulgasem of Dommengang, Kliph Scurlock formerly of the Flaming Lips, and Kid Millions from Oneida.

The result is a band reborn: gone are the Drugganaut stoner boogies replaced by a progressive soar with an epic feel – see Licensed to Drive‘s symphonic Black Sabbath meets Yes prog euphoria, while High Rise is six minutes of careering rock and roll before mainstay and keyboard player Jeremy Schmidt sends the song into the stratosphere with frentic organ wig-outs. It’s truly terrific stuff.

Of course, chief songwriter Stephen McBean is all over the record layering textures and guitar motifs in every direction, so long time fans will find much to revel in (see opener Future Shade‘s blazing motorik guitar frenzy) but elsewhere it’s Schmidt who’s front and centre with his ’70s synth theatrics – Pretty Little Lazies coming off like Pink Floyd‘s Rick Wright jamming with a Canterbury prog outfit.

The album was conceived as a road-trip – and it’s ideally suited to be blasted out while driving down a dusty freeway with no line on the horizon.

However, we’ll settle for a dimly lit local with it cranking out the jukebox. Make mine a Guinness. Horns up! – Peter Guy

Pip Blom: Boat
Heavenly Recordings

Recent Heavenly signee Pip Blom seems to have always had a somewhat unique approach to songwriting.

She began using a Loog (a three stringed guitar system aimed at children) to construct her first twenty minute sets before graduating to the regular six string version.

Her current preffered method is to play whilst watching documentaries.

She says “if what I am playing becomes more engaging than what I am watching I know I am on to something.” It is a methodology that seems to have served her well if her debut full length release is anything to go by.

Boat begins in the strongest way possible with lead single Daddy Issues and continues the pace with the pounding bass riff of Don’t Make it Difficult.

Fans of their earlier singles and last years well received EP Paycheck will be happy to learn that Pip and her band (which includes her brother Tender) have not lost any of their rawness and that they have not had their immediacy and post-punk attitude tamed or suppressed, as perhaps might have been the case if they had signed with a bigger label who would want to see the profits roll in.

This is a very enjoyable piece of work that seamlessly blends fuzzed out indie rock with some damn catchy choruses.

And it gets better the more you listen to it. You will be singing along. That is a rule. – Andy Sunley

New Irish Noise, a journey to the gritty side of the Emerald Isle

Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
Drag City

‘Personal’ albums can walk a tightrope.

‘Confessional’ or ‘break-up’ albums can either be fascinating glimpse into the psyche of a tortured artist that touches upon universal themes we can all relate to, or they can end up a bit too close to the bone, with us listeners left feeling maybe some of this stuff is best left for the therapy room or the pub with pals.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a line that is even trickier to walk; the ‘I got happy’ album. It is a rare thing to master and more often than not, they end up rather saccharine, overly sentimental and –worst of all – dull.

It takes a skilled craftsman to avoid falling into this ditch; someone like Bill Callahan.

His first album in six years, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, sees him detail, in typical part-cryptic, part-disarmingly-blunt style, the birth of his son and marriage to filmmaker Hanly Banks.

It would probably be safe to say few saw this coming, least of all Callahan himself – who muses at one point “I never thought I’d make it this far/ little old house, recent-model car/ and I got the woman of my dreams” and the wonder at a new life opening up to him is tangible throughout.

747 for instance finds Bill on a plane, high above the clouds, rhetorically asking his new-born son if “this is the light you saw” right before he was thrust into the world, while Watch Me Get Married contains the gleeful line “let’s spend a light year together, oh I know it’s a distance”.

Songs like Writing and Call Me Anything also find Callahan falling back in love with his art again – “it sure feels good to be writing again” he reveals on the former.

In lesser hands, lines such as “I got married… to my wife… she’s lovely” would rightly be disregarded as utter tripe, yet in the hands of Callahan, it is a heart-warming, semi-humourous gem of a line that sits comfortably within this sprawling double album.

A buyer’s guide to the brilliance of Bill Callahan

It would be wrong to write this album off as being consistently as simple as this however, as another theme permeates throughout, namely the death of Callahan’s mother.

Yet, rather than let this dominate the psyche and allow Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest to become a grief-focussed album (a la Panda Bear’s Young Prayer), this event is set within the context of the flow of life with lines such as “death is beautiful, we say goodbye to many friends who have no equal”.

Songs such as Circles and When We Let Go are wonderful reflections and ponderings on the mysteries of life, death and rebirth; it’s stunning.

Stylistically, things are much more bare-boned than recent offerings.

At 20 songs and reduced to mainly acoustic instruments with only hints of the chaos and ethereal ambience of Apocalypse and Dream River, some songs do inevitably pass by or bleed into another, but such is the focus of Callahan as an artist – this is an album that will clearly give back as much as the listener puts in and promises to be one we can cherish throughout life – and death. – Matty Loughlin

Enablers: Zones
Lancashire and Somerset

Following up from their jaw-dropping masterpiece – 2015’s The Rightful Pivot – San Francisco quartet, Enablers, return with Zones.

Consisting of guitar interplay between Joe Goldring (formerly of Swans) and Kevin Thompson and cannon ball drum fills from Sam Ospovat, this undercurrent of razor-wired instrumentation provides a spiky foil for poet/vocalist Pete Simonelli.

Simonelli is an unhinged hell-cat on heat – a product who breathes a unique vitality into the most sordid and marginalised aspects of every day life.

He is a whiskey-addled knuckle-in-dirt street brawler from the dingy nursery once shared by the likes of Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski.

Whether people know it or not, since Enablers‘ inception, Simonelli has found himself entrenched in this broad-church of meat-raw wordsmiths that American has conceived over the years. His poeticism is persuasive and pure and these abilities are once again showcased on Zones.

Enablers have always been a proficiently gifted collective of musicians and with Zones, they sound at their most comfortable.

Musically, there’s an organic telepathy between all members. There will always be comparisons with post-hardcore touchstones, Slint, Rodan, and June Of 44, but Simonelli’s involvement should be enough to shake off this comparison.

Zones could almost be split in two parts. While Enablers have always been a band to inherit the quite loud builds-ups championed by the likes of Steve Albini, for the most part during these nine songs, this aspect seems segregated.

On one side of the fence, Enablers crank it up and get abrasive with Squint and Bill, In Consideration providing the loudest moments, filled with feral sound scapes and Ospovat‘s tumbling drums that tower over everything, including Simonelli‘s poignant yarns.

Where Zones thrives is when things are toned down.

Opening track, Even it Lies, the atmospheric textures during Furthermore and the overarching gloom in Goon Seat are as tender as Enablers will ever get, demonstrating a sheer intent on exploring the darkest quiet corners this world has to offer.

While quiet and loud appear on either side of the fence, there is one moment where both aspects meet in the middle and that’s during the elusive offering that is In McCullin‘s Photography, which builds through rolling drums and Simonelli‘s harrowing tale of a dying child.

The album’s climax is the closing title track. Thinly barbed instrumentation gently rattles behind Simonelli who unleashes yet another spoken-word gem.

The last five minutes of this number consists of sparse guitars and freezer-cold feedback that allows us to reflect on the thirty-nine minutes that has just passed.

The Rightful Pivot was head and shoulders the finest record released in 2015 so coming into Zones and Enablers were was always going to be at long odds to better their career-defining oeuvre.

Zones is what you would class as a typical Enablers album. Make of that what you will but as long as Enablers keep on releasing new music, then the world isn’t all bad.

That’s how important this band is and should be to others. So unique is their standing in the landscape of artistic endeavour, the tangled mess of beauty that is Zones is yet another string to this band’s bow. – Simon Kirk

Exit Music (For a Film) #3: High Life, Madeline’s Madeline, Birds of Passage 

Aldous HardingDesigner
4AD

Aldous Harding’s third outing sees her tone down the weird and bring a sinuous piece of folk to the n there’s some of her lyrics ‘I know you have the dove, I’m not getting wet, looks like a date is set, show the ferret to the egg, I’m not getting led along’, but it’s par for the course when it comes to Harding.

On Designer we find her in a more upbeat mood than on previous album, Party, the songs feel lighter and gone is the anguish of her voice instead it’s softer and smoother.

Album opener Fixture Picture has a classic folk feel as the instruments gently lilt along with Harding’s guitar and the harmonising vocals lift the chorus while the accompanying string in the final third adds an extra touch of class to the song.

The first half of the album carries on in a similar vein. Title track Designer, is an intriguing piece as the song’s rhythm is interrupted by small interludes pocketed in-between verses before a piano melody then takes over, while Zoo Eyes has an ethereal feel and Treasures is more contemplative, but lyrically still hard to decipher meaning ‘I made it again to the Amazon, I’ve got to erase the same as the others’.

When the album arrives at the piano led Damn, there is a shift in tone, where as the first half was lighter and playful the final four songs feel more introspective.

Sorry I was late and you didn’t get your weekend’  Harding repeats on Damn, while Heaven is Empty feels very mournful as a lightly strummed guitar backs up Harding’s vocals which feel full of pain.

As with her previous albums Designer will require multiple listenings as you try to decipher Harding’s lyrics and interpret their meaning but taken at face value Designer is an album packed with intelligent and beautiful crafted folk songs. – Michael Maloney

Hatchie: Keepsake
Heavenly Recordings

After a string of singles (Without A Blush, Stay With Me and Obsessed) now comes the full hit from Brisbane’s Harriette Pilbeam aka Hatchie.

You may have heard a track or two shimmering across the airwaves over the last few months- this is the sound of summer in a speaker.

This is shoegaze indie-pop or as it’s more commonly filed these days, dreampop. Brimming over with flawless melodies and luscious synth-layers the hooks themselves brand it firmly in a style that’s not short of peers these days.

Saying that, these tracks are a pure slice of radio-friendly pleasure-pop.

Twinkly layered guitars and washed out reverbed vocals make it one of the finest revisits of 90’s gangly pop. All neatly placed over the white-noise hum and propelling rhythms.

Even with the sweetness strong enough to dissolve your molars there’s a fair whack of emotionally-tangled terrain covered here. On lead single Without A Blush jagged guitar riffs and woozy rhythms meet in a sprawling piece of industrial-pop with Hatchie’s airy voice channeling loss and longing, regret and self-doubt.

One of the albums highlights When I Get Out is psychedelic pop perfection. With harmonies abound, chiming guitars and Marr inspired riffs.

Those of us luckily enough to catch her at Primavera this year will already know the live experience is where these tracks soar. Don’t worry if you missed the brief UK tour in June.

No doubt you’ll be seeing more of Hatchie over the forthcoming months- ready for every prime time TV show with a token ‘music slot’ at the end. – Howard Doupé

Cate LeBon: Reward
Mexican Summer

Cate Le Bon’s fifth long player is easily her best yet.

Unusually, it’s both immediately appealing, with some very memorable melodies that’ll have you humming along before the first catchy chorus is over, and yet also something of a grower. Each spin reveals further hidden depths.

The overall sound of the album is noticeably different from previous outings – less reliant on the guitar, with greater emphasis on keyboards and saxophone, and deceptively sparse production and arrangements.

It’s a neat trick because a closer listen reveals subtle and intricate layers.

Le Bon’s trademark idiosyncratic lyrics are as mystifyingly intriguing as ever.

One theme clearly emerging however, solitude or loneliness, is partly inspired by the circumstances under which these songs were written, as Le Bon ensconced herself in a remote cottage in the Lake District.

A rural retreat has long been a way musicians seek inspiration, with somewhat mixed results, but pastoral clichés are avoided here. Much of the record was composed at the piano rather than the guitar, which also partly explains its distance from previous releases.

The theme of loneliness is contradicted by the numerous collaborators who assisted in the recording (in Los Angeles), including stalwarts Tim Presley and H Hawkline, as well as Kurt Vile, Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa and Red Hot Chilli Pepper‘s Josh Klinghoffer, but despite this stellar crew it remains every bit Le Bon’s record.

Hints of post-punk, krautrock and oft-kilter pop can all be detected here, but are re-assembled in surprising, fresh new ways.

If you’re unfamiliar with her music, then this is a good stepping-on point.

Given the overwhelmingly positive reviews it has already garnered, it’s likely to be highly and deservedly placed on many ‘best of the year’ lists, and is certainly one of mine so far. – Gary Aster

Madonna: Madame X
Live Nation/Interscope

There’s a huge difference between ‘liking’ an album and admiring it.

Madonna’s latest studio effort Madame X is a truly perplexing listen, bursting with the eclectic eccentricity she is famed for.

Madame X is certainly not an easy listen, with catchy, singalong hooks few and far between on the record.

However, Madame X somehow leaves me coming back for more every time, trying to desperately decide whether I actually ‘like’ this album, or simply admire the illogical, upside-down world the album forces you into.

The LP opens with the sensational track Medellín, one of the catchier tracks on the album. The infectious groove of this track is irresistible, and will undoubtedly leave you tapping your foot and nodding along in no time.

Immediately after this track, the album quickly derails into the fascinating Dark Ballet, which bizarrely fuses booming synthetic drum beats with a ballad-like piano song, and incorporates a heavily vocoded voice singing along to Tchaikovsky.

The initially similarly natured God Control begins as a haunting piano ballad at times reminiscent of the singer’s 80s works, detailing the controversial issue of gun control – yet at the 01:24 mark decides to veer off into Nile Rogers-esque funk.

In defence of Madonna

Of course, Madame X is anything but predictable. And I’d be disappointed if it were.

Madame X is so illogical, so bizzare, and so downright absurd that it’s impossible not to admire it’s tenacity.

Personally, I absolutely love it. It’s perhaps not a particularly pleasant listen at times, but the theatrical nature of the album and the unpredictable nature of the record keep the listener on their toes, and will undoubtedly transfer perfectly to a live setting.

The ever-shifting nature of Madame X ensures that it refuses to be confined to the background. This isn’t an album to put on in the background and forget about – there’s simply so much going on that you can’t help but notice what’s going on in the dense sonic soup prepared by chef Madonna.

Due to the diverse and illogical nature, it’s undoubtedly a divisive record already, splitting the opinion of fans and critics.

Think of Madame X as Madonnna’s Yeezus, an absolute Marmite album that you’ll either love or loathe.

Whether or not you like the record, it’s undoubtedly worth a listen, so if you haven’t already checked it out, be sure to take a listen to Madame X.

Just be prepared, in these waters anything can happen. – Max Richardson

Glastonbury: Back to the Garden?

Pelican: Nighttime Stories
Southern Lord

The pioneers of B-flat tuning, Pelican, return with their first long-player in six years, Nighttime Stories.

The follow-up to the very underrated Forever Becoming, Nighttime Stories was inspired by the sudden passing of Tusk frontman, Jody Minnoch – a band Pelican guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw and former Pelican member Laurent Lebec were both a part of.

Nighttime Stories unravels with death being its central theme. Guitarist Dallas Thomas‘ father also passed during the recording of this album and the frayed acoustic drone of opening track, W.S.T. pays him tribute.

Following the gentle meanderings of W.S.T., things become heated. Midnight & Mescaline sounds like rubber-on-asphalt highway metal.

Abyssal Plain is a ferocious collision of psychedelic sludge rock and pure post-metal while Cold Hope and the album’s title track brim with face burning chords that could only have been conceived from the bottom of a swamp.

You won’t hear a better representation of sludge metal all year with Cold Hope in particular.

If Cold Hope wasn’t enough to sit listeners on their backsides, then the vice crushing cauldron of noise during Arteries of Blacktop certainly will.

It just about feels like vintage Pelican, however the closing track, Full Moon, Black Water, is probably closer to that very mark, containing an eye-watering groove that forms the track’s spine.

It’s a number that could have easily nestled into Pelican‘s world circa The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. It’s an unmistakable roaring hell-fire of sonic glory.

While the sounds of dark psychedelic undercurrents are prevalent throughout Nighttime Stories, its essence still holds that signature Pelican sound.

Arguably the greatest triumph is located behind the drum kit in Larry Herweg.

Sharply critiqued in the past (see City of Echoes), Herweg delivers his greatest performance on Nighttime Stories, riding the skins in machine-like fashion, underpinning Pelican‘s overall aesthetic.

Nighttime Stories holds a similar aroma to 2009’s What We All Come to Need. Even the artwork between the two albums holds a striking similarity with hazy post-apocalyptic reds and blacks dominating the canvass.

With Nighttime Stories though, you get the sense that there’s more of an emotional framework. The B-flat tunings still shudder bones and tickle rib-cages, but the aggression here seems more focused and less haphazard. There’s a new found maturity at play here.

Pelican have always been immune from producing substandard music and with Nighttime Stories that notion still remains.

Here, they sound as majestic and dangerous as ever. – Simon Kirk

The Rhythm Method: How Would You Know I Was Lonely
Moshi Moshi

We first came across London duo The Rhythm Method two years ago in 2017.

Supporting Shame, they brought quite a following who already knew the words to half the set and left after the band finished, leaving Shame to play in front of a handful of people. Our reaction was wtf did we just see?

Skip forward to 2019 and they’re just releasing their debut album.

Maybe they were waiting for the right moment in our country’s history. Wait until things are looking incredibly bleak and then hit us with an album full of puns on our mundane everyday lives.

This what you need to listen to as the country silently disappears. It’s just what we needed.

So it’s like a budget 90s boyband backed only by a Casio keyboard but sung by Ian Dury, mixed by The Streets and every lyric is a pun.

Stand out tracks include the wonderfully honky-tonk Salad Cream and Wandsworth Plain and summer pop bop Something For The Weekend.

Other tracks to look out for include the ode to all inclusive holidaying Continental Breakfast, the post night out reality of Sex And The Suburbs and, the gets stuck in your head for days, Local, Girl.

The UK is a sinking ship and The Rhythm Method are the band playing as the boat goes down. – Lucy McLachlan

Two Door Cinema Club: False Alarm
Glassnote Records

I first saw Two Door Cinema Club in McHughs Bar in Belfast in 2007.

A few of us took on the running of a fundraiser for Oxfam and turned it up, Oxjam Festival was born and Two Door Cinema Club were front and centre.

I hadn’t seen them, but one of our crew booked them and if memory serves, two were underage and their parents drove them down in family hatchbacks.

They packed the place.  It didn’t take more than 100 people, but this was their second gig, their set would become Tourist History and bother the charts.

They won the Choice Music Prize in Ireland and promptly gave the 10,000 € to charity. Tourist History sold 350,000 units.

We were around for a few of the early gigs. We were there the night an emergency gig was thrown together in the Ohyeah Music Centre in Belfast.

There were A&R men in town to see them and the support slot they were due to play vanished as the headliner cancelled.

The next time we saw them was in a warehouse in Toronto, there were thousands there and I blagged our way in, we stood at the back of the room in awe at what were witnessing.

Thousands came out to see three kids from Bangor. Their team was fresh out of the box, lights, sound, the lot, all kids from home.

The energy was infectious, the place bounced from the first note to the last, politely, it was Canada after all. I’d never seen anything like that, either.

Their second long player, Beacon, wowed audiences and they toured the world on it, to the point where it almost ruined them.

Addiction and conflict followed, lots of conflict. Come 2013 they were ready to quit, 200 shows a year, radio, TV, press and relentless travel took its toll. Health issues, depression and anxiety crept in, they grew to hate each other.

Kevin Baird collapsed on a flight to London and was hospitalised for two weeks. Gigs were cancelled, they spent eighteen months getting as far away from each other as possible.

Baird moved to LA, quit drugs, and watched the world for a while. Halliday stayed in London, got hitched, played football and learned how to cook. Trimble went to Portland and found a drug habit that would pull him apart as he hid in a rented pad. His saving grace was a camera and the need to create.

He delivered a few fascinating exhibitions, displaying a unique eye and a casual joy in voyeurism, finding peace and sobriety in work and calmness in Yoga.

The band found the drive to talk again in 2015, they wrote Gameshow via Skype, it was still difficult to be in the same room.

When they had the bones of Gameshow they headed into the dessert with Jacknife Lee and dropped the self-imposed noose of the TDCC sound.

One of their final shows for Beacon had been a headliner at London’s O2 Arena. Their return couldn’t have been more different.

They played in Whelans in Dublin as Tudor Cinema Club, a TDCC ‘cover band’. It didn’t take long for the joke to be outed, it was a sell-out and they were back, in some form.

While Gameshow had glitz and glam and while it was different from previous work it didn’t set the world ablaze. It’s been three years since and a lot has changed for Two Door Cinema Club.

This time nothing has been left to chance. The scale of their PR machine, the change of tempo and image, and the attention to detail in their live shows gives off a whole new Two Door vibe that has split the critics.

They appear relaxed, in interviews and on stage, with a camaraderie that is good to see.

As for the album, its a very different beast. False Alarm takes Two Door in a whole other direction, it is perhaps their bravest release yet, they’ve certainly cut away with that noose that has bothered them for so long.

This is a record that will sit well with the previous three but there is no mistaking the intent, this thing will do serious damage during the Summer at festivals just about everywhere.

It’s almost designed for dancing like a loon in a muddy field, Dirty Air is a brilliant party tune complete with screaming, ranting samples and a old school disco beat.

Satisfaction Guaranteed is a synth heavy pop tune that looks at our reliance on social media, likes and love and questions whether we’ve all gone mad.

Nice To See You is a wonderful slice of the 80’s,with bleeps, synth and a snippet of what the future should have been. Where are our jetpacks anyhow?

False Alarm is a creative, bold, eccentric statement that cuts across a dozen genres with ease, it is pop, rock, disco, funk, dance and a whole lot of soul.

This is not the Two Door Cinema Club of McHughs, but God it would be a joy to book them again, in McHugh’s obviously. – Chris Flack

Yeasayer: Erotic Reruns
Yeasayer Records

Bringing 2019 some sought-after sunshine is the latest release since their 2016 slightly surreal and psychedelic worldie Amen & Goodbye, we now take a look down the wrong end of the kaleidoscope in Yeasayer’s Erotic Reruns, the fifth of five albums that characteristically diverges off-road from what we’ve heard and loved before.

This is the band’s very first album to be self-released on Yeasayer Records, and what better way to celebrate their newfound independence than with a fun-size party-mix of auditory bangers.

From bubblegum pop tracks from the opener such as People I Loved and Ecstatic Baby to the politically charged sax-driven 24-Hour Hateful Live!, Erotic Reruns is like a Dominos Half ‘n’ Half of first world struggles and addictively upbeat melodies, coming in at thirty-minutes or less.

Vocalist Chris Keating has described how one track, Let Me Listen In On You, was born from the vision of ex-US Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a homeless schizophrenic, which encapsulates a sense of the Brooklyn trio’s left-field absurdities, and sums up the album’s entire vibe.

While some moments are a candid, almost intimate comment on society, others are akin to a drama club comedy sketch.

Perhaps longstanding fans would regard this as cautious or non-committal, but Yeasayer have never claimed to be profound, stunningly deep lyricists.

The music they create is colourful, erratic and consistently inconsistent which, paradoxically, is part of what makes Erotic Reruns hang together so well.

From what I have taken from it, Erotic Reruns (both title and tracks) is Yeasayer’s idea of just a bit of fun.

A twenty-nine minute dalliance with love, politics, and everything else middle of the road for anyone who is interested, and a big fat va te faire foutre for the ‘stay in your lane’ers’ who aren’t.

Or…naysayers…? I’ll see myself out. – Susie Harrison

 

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