Thursday, 9 April 2009

NME Radar Piece: Wavves

Nathan Williams has been riding atop (ahem) a wave of blog hysteria since late 2008. When international hype can be generated with a few savvy Wordpress placements it all seemed a little suspicious what with Williams’ background as hip rap blogger Ghostramp. Was it all a scam? Were kids pre-ordering 7”s that sold out before release and already change hands for hundreds of dollars on Ebay on blogsay alone? The short answer: no. The rap blogging came from “the sheer boredom of working 9-5 in a San Diego record store” Williams sleepily explains, waking from a weed-induced slumber on a friends sofa. Wavves is inspired by “all the things with offensive covers that my mum wouldn’t let me listen to as a kid” and its fuzzy, lowest-fi take on K-Records slacker pop infused with girl-group harmonies and g-funk bounce is the wonderous soundtrack to a neverending summer that probably only exists in Nathan’s head. Of the online attention Williams remains nonchalant: “I just put it all into Garageband and what comes out comes out. If people want to talk about it that’s up to them”. If the forthcoming “So Bored” 7” on Young Turks is anything to go by the tongues are set to continue wagging.

NME Radar Piece: The Strange Boys

Being Rolling Stones ‘new favourite band’ is not furnishing The Strange Boys with riches just yet as NME catches up with guitar slinging vocalist Ryan Sambol skiving from his dishwashing day job in an Austin restaurant. Sambol founded the band as a two-piece at the tender age of 16 with drummer Matt Hammer who made the cut simply by being “the only other guy who skated in school”. Initially playing “stuff that sounded a bit like the White Stripes covering The Jesus and Mary Chain” the addition of Sambol’s brother Philip on bass and Greg Enlow on guitar in 2005 saw the band begin to dizzyingly twist and turn the tired garage-rock template on it’s ass setting them apart from a sea of also-rans. Sambol happily admits to being entranced not by the usual garage diet of Nuggets box sets but by Link Wray and early Stax and Sun Records releases. On a slew of self released CDR’s sold at shows sharing stages with everyone from Total Abuse to Reigning Sound they have honed their craft and a forthcoming debut LP on In The Red feature the lean, spiraling guitar lines and machete-sharp vocals that tracks like “Woe Is You And Me” have been threatening for so long. Who needs to be another 13th Floor Elevators rip-off outfit when you’ve opened for Rocky Erikson and had a nod of approval from the mad old granddad of psyche-garage himself?

NME Radar Piece: Mob Rules

Mob Rules take their name from a record that bass player Paul Steere assures NME is “Gregg Ginn of Black Flag’s seventh favourite Sabbath album”. They are also the pick of a Leeds punk scene currently seeing something of a renaissance with bands like Rot in Hell, Broken Arm and Hordes all coming out of a city that offers “many excellent examples of how not to do things and ten months of terrible weather a year that act as a good incentive to spend the prime of your youth locked away in sweaty rooms making music”.

Mob Rules daringly mine perhaps the most ambitious, and least well known, of all hardcore sub-genres, the terrifylingly named: ‘powerviolence’. With Steere and drummer Connor Rickford’s precise and devastating rhythm section pointing to the dynamics of powerviolence pioneers Infest and Crossed Out while Ben Hirst’s guitar work is reminiscent of late 80’s New York legends Citizen’s Arrest. Combined with the thugguish vocal delivery of ex-Birds of Prey man Thomas Cambell who sounds a little like a bi-polar rottweiller whose balls are slowly being crushed in a vice and you are witnessing a home grown band plying the genre with unprecedented success.

To see Mob Rules live is to discover new levels of that overused journalistic adjective ‘intense’. All crushing riffs and impossibly fast drums their violent sets are usually done in ten minutes flat. In fact your only real chance to catch them at all is at a show or on their debut 7” on SuperFi Records. This is due to what Steere sees as a crisis of definition: “The phrases 'Hardcore band' and 'social networking' should be mutually exclusive. It's an anti-social form.” AKA: don’t expect to find Mob Rules on MySpace…

NME Radar Piece: Mike Bones

Meet Mike Bones. A man whose literate, heartbreakingly rendered songs of love and hate are the most exciting transmission from planet ‘guy with guitar’ since everyone fell in love with Cass McCombs. Figures then that Mike was once McCombs’ touring guitarist. Amidst stints playing with everyone from Gang Gang Dance to Andrew WK via The Sian Alice Group, Bones somehow found time to record “A Fool For Everyone” an album borne of playing with “whoever would pass through town and play at this little club called The Tonic that was the centre for everything for in twon for a while” and a decision to finally “record all this stuff that I sat and wrote every day but couldn’t face other people hearing”. While he might sing about a point when he can “give up on guitars” and hopes one day to finally write a novel there’s no need to fret about loosing Mike’s unique voice too soon: “I already have two more albums written and there’s more where that came from. They just need recording”. Of the lyrics of his idol Johnny Thunders tattooed on his arm he mutters that “I was always mesmerized by that combination of sheer dumbness and brilliance”. If emulation of his hero is what Mike’s been going for we are sad to inform he’s failed but what he lacks in dumb he makes up for with a shedload of brilliance.

NME Radar Piece: London No Fi Scene

The nascent rumblings of a dewey eyed new movement in terminally jaded London are a sound to cherish and one that doesn’t come along every day. Whether it’s the sheer size of the city, the diversity of bills on offer on any given night or just that no one likes talking to each other very much the capital consistently does a great job of failing to produce coherent scenes in comparison to the nations more moderately sized metropolis’s.

However, in East end basement dives like The Moustache Bar and Bardens Boudoir, beyond the confines of Shoreditch, up the Kingsland Road and deep into the heart Dalston a crop of bands have embraced a solidly DIY ethic, a healthy dollop of not caring too much what anything sounds like as long as it’s fast, fun and immediate and each other. They share bills, play house parties and warehouses together, co-own labels and release split 7”s and tapes in such a flurry that they make your average jangly indie jobbers look like a bands worth of the dad guy from The Royle Family.

As well as sharing stages and sides of vinyl all of these bands have clearly spent their childhoods digesting similar records. The loud/quiet dynamics of early 90’s grunge, the immediacy of puerile late 70’s US punk all figure but the shimmering hiss and fuzz of K Records lo-fi taken to it’s ramshackle no-fi endpoint is perhaps the defining attribute.

Having been together for a whopping eighteen months, stripped back three piece Graffiti Island are, relatively speaking, elder statesmen of the whole shebang. Sounding like a lost 4-track recording of an imaginary jam session Beat Happening might have had with The Wipers their dusty tales of mysterious diseases and ancient tribes are underpinned by taught bass lines swathed in fuzz and alluringly handsome frontman Pete Donaldson’s sardonic vocal delivery.

The all girl trio PENS offer a shambolic take on skuzzy Germs style punk as sang by the Shangri-La’s codeineified younger sisters as well as a drummer who stands up and a cover of The Gun Club’s “Sexbeat” so wantonly joyous it makes you never want to hear the original again.

Male Bonding are three guys with two guitars and a drum kit who playing dizzying, spazzed out, lean punk that sound a little bit like Naked Raygun playing through Morphiene’s amps. They also run Paradise Vendors inc., the label that has already released the bands split with PENS and will soon drop a four way split with Grafitti Island and like minded Stateside souls Rapid Youth and Old Blood.

It could be easy to see the sound emanting from this East London DIY no-fi bubble as analogous to the music that US acts like Wavves and Blank Dogs have been pedaling on labels like Woodsist and Captured Tracks but while both the influences and modes of operation are similar the diversity of output offered by bands like laptop and electric drum kit lowest-fi adherents TEETH or the tumbling, urgent, reverb soaked garage of Thee Fair Oh’s will make it more than worth your while to go hunting for something exciting out East under the fuzz.

Intro For Hannah Rollings: Utterly Mindless Thrills

Someone asked me to write an introduction to a book for them:

Although I encountered Hannah and her (really, truly wonderful) work virtually I insisted that were I to write anything about it I would need to see it physically. In the flesh. Up close and in my eyeballs. Quicker than I could say “send me a copy” one had turned up and under inspection it proved more vibrant, odder and gripping than the flat impersonal palate of a computer screen could ever convey.

So, I hope that if you are reading this then it is inside a copy of the book that you have bought and if you are reading this and yet to buy it then I hope that this small ramble sways you because you will not be disappointed. Hannah’s work runs the gamut from insightful to inane to stark to hilarious and back again without pausing for breath and does so in a ceaselessly and singularly coulourful world of it’s own.

Enjoy it. I do every time it falls into my eyesight.

J.N.R. Knight

Psychopedia Feature: Punk Is Hippies

Here is an interview with Tony Gunnarrson, the guy behind the amazing Punk Is Hippies blog in it's uncut form.

How old are you? Some of the 'zines on the site are very much of theirtime, were you there at the time or have you come to it

I’m not actually sure what the oldest fanzine on PunksIsHippies is, but I know that there are a few early Norwegian and English ones from late 1970s, maybe as early as 1977. I was born in 1979 so obviously I have come to fanzines as well as punk retrospectively.

How many years have you been collecting for?
I have certainly been aware of fanzines since I was at school, say at about the age of 10-11 or so -which was around the same time when I discovered punk music. It's actually a misconception that PunksIsHippies is backed by one large collection of fanzines owned by me. The archive is largely run by contributions from various people. I like reading fanzines so not surprisingly I have stacks of randomly acquired ‘zines laying around at home. Obviously since starting PIH I have started to collect ‘zines with the more of an intention to make them available online. Many of the ‘zines on the site were purchased at an auction last year, perhaps 30-40 old and mainly UK fanzines which set me back more than what could be deemed acceptable from my partner's point of view! I used to own quite a lot of ‘zines from when I was making them myself and tape trading as a teenager but sadly my poor mum decided that she'd clear up some of my stuff laying around in her house in Sweden, and they all got recycled. Imagine how pissed off I was. In fact I still am.

What originally attracted you to the 'zine format?
I think the initial attraction had to do with it simply being different. ‘Zines belong to a sphere removed from one's parents. Obviously the do-it-yourself aspect was a definite attraction before I had even heard the term or understood what it meant fully. When I was a kid, fanzines were much less about serious music journalism, 'punk constructs' or politics. Put simply, you did not even have to be able to spell to be a fanzine editor. Hands-on layout using marker pens, newspapers, scissor and glue represented a total sense of freedom. I mean you could exaggerate this, but I think fanzines were extremely exciting little things especially at that young age, before you grew up and saw things from a more mature perspective. Being a grown-up means inevitably interpretating everything as post-ironic pretentious crap.

What came first for you: punk or the 'zines?
Strictly speaking fanzines, for me came after punk music. On the first day of school in 1989 my friend Ola Beglert were handing out mix cassette tapes to us other seven year old kids. His older brother Henrik was a punk and Ola must have copied tapes when Henrik wasn't around as Henrik used to beat on Ola and his friends whenever he could. This first tape I got from Ola had Blitz, Discharge, Black Flag, Rovsvett, Cortex, Asta Kask, Ramones, Protes Bengt, Johnny Thunders and GBH on it. Pretty fucking great mix-tape to get when you're 7 years old. A year or so later there was a travelling museum exhibition in my hometown, Tidaholm, Sweden, called "To Be Do". It was about the rise of separate youth cultures and sub-cultures in the decades after the Second World War. The exhibition had this hang-out area with a turntable and a bunch of singles that you were allowed to play and there were tons of punk fanzines. Where the curators got hold of these I have no idea. Obviously we stole all we could from that exhibition and we all went on to reinvent ourselves based on what we'd nicked. My friends and I began making our own punk fanzines the same year. Previously we'd been doing comic fanzines and stuff like that.

If you weren't collecting 'zines what would you be collecting? Are you a collector by nature?
I am not a collector type of person, I think. I am too spontaneous and impatient to be a serious collector. Even when it comes to music and records what is most important to me is having the music. When it comes to fanzines it is all about the information, 'the content', as opposed to having collectable pristine or 'mint' copies of ‘zines. That said, I studied history at university and my mother is an archivist so I suppose it'd be pretty weird if I did not have some lasting sympathy for archives, conservation and historical artifacts.

Why is it that you think that 'zine has been so synonymous with punk?
It is absolutely the DIY aesthetic of self-publishing, but also fanzines had a very significant historical role to play in the development of the punk scene. Punk was an underground subculture and if you wanted to hear about some band or record then you can only find out about it from underground fanzines. Bands and fanzines feed off of each other. On a personal level, I have always been into stuff that is removed from 'the mainstream'. But sure, there is also this 'other' fanzine culture, what with graffiti artists making little art zines, art college fanzines, official band fanzines, paper clipping fanzines, pornographic fanzines, serial killer fanzines (Peter Sotos' Pure for example), skateboard fanzines, comic fanzines, film fanzines, fringe group political fanzines (neo-Nazis like Combat 18 as well as far left groups and animal liberation groups use fanzines as part of networks) and so on. Dduring the rise of the counterculture in the US from the 1950s there were literature fanzines, or 'small magazines'. These were the breeding ground for avant garde literature with authors like William S. Burroughs, who published lots of his stuff first in 'small magazines' before going on to revise texts for novels. I would guess that the whole Detroit and motorcity music scene that coincided with the 'New Left' on American universities in the late sixties and early seventies would have been when historically small magazines and proto-punk meet. I am speculating here but musically punk inherited a lot of that scene so it follows that the first punk ‘zines could have come from this era and geography. I guess nowadays fanzines are increasingly synonymous with non-punk subcultures, particularly the arty types I mentioned. I mean, see Publish of Be Damned for example. I've been there a bunch of times and I have yet to see a punk fanzine there. Same thing goes for Facebook fanzine events and such. That said there’s tons of punk ‘zines still around.

Where do you keep them all?
Well for the last 2-3 years I have been living with most of my stuff in various boxes and stuffed under beds because of space restraints. So today I have a box with some 50 or so zines on top of a wardrobe in the hallway, totally disorganised. Next to this box is my girlfriend's scanner. As it is a bit of a hassle to get everything down, it goes some way to explain why I haven't been able to scan as many ‘zines as I would have liked to this year. Stacks of books, zines, records, patches, badges and correspondence are everywhere in our flat. But I'm buying a house now so hopefully when we move I'll be able to have some sort of 'designated fanzine storage'.

How wil you organise them once you get the space?
I don't really have anything organised as of now. Of course I have some sort of system, like at the bottom of the big box are zines that haven't been digitalised yet. I should also mention digital storage of fanzines, but unfortunately I haven't been very good here either. I guess I have 4-5 GB of scanned ‘zines stored across two laptops, an external hard drive, on DVD-Rs and obviously what's on PIH is stored on fast host providers. The long-term idea for PunksIsHippies has always been to get a server to store high-resolution scans of fanzines.

What originally gave you the idea of archiving 'zines on a blog?
There has also a whole new slate of punk histories coming out like in recent years, such as American Hardcore and Ian Glasper's brilliant books on the UK scene. A few years ago when I started a punk blog called Only In It For The Music I was using a lot which is a really good punk and hard core reference site made by some people from Maximum Rocknroll magazine. Having observed that there were some scanned fanzines already circulating on P2P networks and such I started thinking about making a website that would do what KFTH does for bands and records but for ‘zines.

Underlining this there is so much punk music and related stuff being distributed online and I think that interest in punk culture is on the rise. So I reckoned that there would be a lot of interest in making some sort of permanent archive for fanzines. This could be particularly useful in correcting much of the repeated misinformation about bands and records, as well as helping writers or researchers of punk histories to source material for books. I mean Wikipedia is a great thing and I use it everyday but if you check out a band like Terveet Kadet or Gauze’s Wikipedia pages they are bound to be grossly out-of-date and misleading and in turn the same out-of-date Wikipedia info being reused on Myspace and LastFM etc.

It also seemed strange to me that fanzines were not considered serious historical artefacts. I mean, why quote from NME about some early punk record when there were thousands of ‘zines that had a much richer take on a record, and most importantly a take on a record that is not bound by mainstream agenda.

How has the internet changed the nature of the 'zine? Are 'zines still relevant and will they continue to exist?
Yes, in some ways absolutely. The internet works to discourage people from making fanzines, as people turn to making online ‘zines or increasingly to blogging. But I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to the internet ways of communicating with bands are much easier and faster. The bottom line is that the vast majority of fanzines get read by so few people, the internet could easily be used to significantly increase readership per ‘zine.

The problem is what to do with the tools the internet offers as well as the information you get from using such tools. But on the other hand there are still tons of fanzines being made, as I said before. Hopefully people will make better webzines in the future and perhaps people's perceptions will change as a consequence. The point is that both physical and digital should exist alongside each other and supplement each other.

There are increasingly signs that punk bands are beginning to release demos and releases on cassettes again so I think if people are willing to deal with the trouble of tapes then paper ‘zines still have a long lifetime.

Has the internet made the acquisition, dissemination and reading of 'zines easier?
Yes of course. I purchased a medium collection of zines on eBay earlier this year. Before the internet I doubt I would have been able to do so, or indeed bothered. But like for records, the internet works both ways. Some records are sold out on the day they are released only to be appearing on eBay for ridiculous sums shortly after. This has been the case for all recent releases from Japan's Overthrow label, with Extinctos and Isterismo 7" selling in the region of $50-100 only weeks after being released. But I think that as the world gets used to the internet as it is today things like this will probably slow down a little.

Has the blog bought you into contact with a lot of 'zine fanatics?
Yes it has. But less so than I expected to be honest. Record collectors and ‘zine collectors are infamously nervous about sharing their precious collections, and people like this I think are generically suspicious of new technologies. The fact that PunksIsHippies is at present a blog tends to discourage some collectors. But at the same time, the response to the blog so far has been exceedingly positive. But the point is that you really have to prompt people to give feedback about something and that can be a bit discouraging. I get emails from people asking about the zines or the blog every week, if not day.

Which country do you think produces the best 'zines?
I think US, UK and Sweden have produced some truly amazing fanzines, but then I am biased as I am Swedish as well as bound by English-language. I know for example that Greece, Norway and Japan had some fantastic early fanzines. I have noticed that Indonesia and Russia are hot spots for fanzines today. But I don't think it is right to generalise as most countries and regions with active punk scenes have had their own share of ‘zines. As a rule of thumb you can perhaps say that wherever there are punk bands you shall find good punk fanzines.

What do you think was the halcyon period for 'zines?
I think the golden age for ‘zines was in the mid to late 1980s and into the 1990s right up until the internet. That is to say, at the tail end of the second generation of punk when heavy metal and cross-over took the place of punk as the biggest musical subculture. ‘Zines during this period were crucial in maintaining networks and it coincided with the golden age of tape trading. That said, the ‘zines of the early to mid 1990s that were inspired by late 1980s ‘zines were really good too. It kind of goes in waves, the next bunch of 20-something nerdy punks looking back on what had gone on a few years before and thinking that it was much better back then. So you have all these ‘zines at various points of time which are partly in homage to earlier ‘zines and partly new innovative things that mix in whatever is new and immediate in the scene that they are part of. Just like the music really. You could probably write a PhD to argue the case that zines were virtually as important as the records because the two expressions of punk have so many correlations.

What 'zines that are being produced today do you think are comparobleto the great 'zines of yore?
To be brutally honest I am not that informed about ‘zines today. The best ones I can think of are Distort from Australia and Not Very Nice, Warning and Evil Minded from the USA. Skitliv! from Sweden is of course very good but they just sadly made their last issue. Many ‘zines that started around the same time as webzines mushroomed have turned into magazines now, like Short Fast & Loud from the States, or Denimzine from Sweden.

What are the rarest ‘zines that you own?
From the 1980’s ‘zines I acquired earlier in the year some of them appeared to be quite obscure and rare, but it's hard to say. Because most ‘zines are printed in fewer than 100 copies any ‘zine that is older than 5-10 years is bound to be rare although I know of ‘zines printed in 1000 copy runs that are still sought after collector items.

What 'zines that you don't own do you wish that you do?
I would love to own complete runs of the great Swedish fanzines from the golden age of Swedish ‘zines: Trasket Gloder, Brutal Chaos, Crash Mag, Fetvadd and Profit Blaskan. These were the ‘zines I grew up looking to. Also I would love to get hold of full runs of the legends of UK second wave and hardcore ‘zines like Filthy Trash, Ripping Trash and Ripping Hell.

What production qualities does a 'zine require to be termed a 'zine?
Well, none! You can make a zine that is hand written on a toilet roll, if that is what you're into, and this is the whole beauty of fanzines. So yeah it follows that I think that overproduction tends to move a publication out of being a ‘zine to becoming a magazine.

Do you collect 'zines not related to punk?
Not really. I have some ;zines which are not punk, for example my friend, the artist Dave the Chimp does art ‘zines occasionally and copies always tend to mysteriously end up in my flat. If I see a good looking fanzine I will want to read it. But based on what I have seen at Publish or Be Damned fanzines as a collectionable end in itself is not desirable to me. Last time I got a bunch of literature ‘zines from there and without naming the publication in question the writing was terrible and what is worse it seemed to aspire to the literature pages of UK tabloid media.

Do you produce you own 'zines?
Sure, though I always tend to fail at making the ‘zines available to people! I made my first punk fanzine around 1990 or so, it was called Mincemeat Massacre and the first issue only made it to 5 copies. It had a really bad drawing of the Dead Kennedys' “Nazi punks fuck off” on the cover and had some really lame preadolescent record and TV reviews. I did another issue in 1991 under the new shortened name Mincemeat and it had real bonafide punk band interviews, mostly Swedish "trall punk" bands like Radioaktiva Raker and Scrotum. I sent some 50 copies or so to a punk distributor who traded me tons of demos. The ‘zine had a third issue, which was more of the same really, with the addition of a homemade compilation cassette tape with songs by all bands interviewed (without permission), but by the time I had finished the ‘zine I had totally stopped caring for 'trall punk' and I don't think I made more than 30 or so copies all which I traded for d-beat demos. Meanwhile my friend Ola had made two issues of his Kauokopops ‘zine, named after Cocopops cereals, misspelt on purpose which was sort of like my fanzine in scope and quality. After a year or so, during which we had in earnest discovered alcohol, tobacco and Discharge we began making a collaborative ‘zine that unashamedly ripped-off Swedish Discharge-worshipping fanzine Sika Apara. That one was called Javel (or Bastard) and aimed to break records for number of bands interviewed per issue as well as break records for new lows of questioning ("When you masturbate, do you prefer to think of your mother or your sister?" and stuff like that). We made 2 issues of Javel and each issue had a print run of about 35-75, before calling it quits around 1994 or so. We might still do a third issue.

Apart from punk zines, I have made other ‘zines: A skatezine around 1996 or so called Crew Credits consisting of interviews with my skateboard friends and pictures of us mainly drunk. In 1998 a friend and I were writing stuff when we were drunk for a ‘zine to be called Cockroach but it never happened. In 2002 I used made the first issue of El Cockroach ‘zine, including some random creative writing style drafts and skatephotos of my friends and I. The second issue of El Cockroach has already been promised for end of 2010 latest. Finally, a few years ago I collected little drawings and intended fanzine covers for ‘zines that never happened. You should always begin a ‘zine with making the cover. It was called 53rd & 3rd and it had three issues of dubious quality and went out in a printed run of perhaps 20 or 30 per issue.

More recently, I started a new punk ‘zine called Distort Hackney with the intention to have a mix of interviews with elusive obscure bands as well as in-depth interviews with known bands. It was partly begun because no UK magazine would print stories or interviews I have made with bands like Amebix and Disorder, as well as a desire to make the fanzine I always wanted to make. This zine ended up as yet another webzine, at, because the print would be too expensive: £200 = 200 copies, but I was looking to print at least 500-1000 per issue. The first issue has interviews with Skitslickers, Kuro, ORdER, Amebix, Deathcharge, Sub Alert, Terveet Kadet and more. The second issue was supposed to be a noise punk special so has interviews with bands like Disorder, the Wankys, Chaos Destroy, D-Clone, Chaos Channel and so on. I have one more issue of Distort Hackney to put online featuring Reality Crisis, Zyanose, Mob 47, Warvictims, Perkele and then I am going to call it quits. I have yet to think of what the next ‘zine will be, but I intend to make it the best ‘zine of all time. And on paper obviously.

Vice Interview: Cleckhuddersfax


Cleckhuddersfax are men, not aubergines

Cleckhuddersfax are part of a group of vaguely London based outfits like Spin Spin The Dogs, Man Aubergine and Poltergroom. They have all somehow ended up sounding weird and intensely fun withouth that ever really being the intention. In their own heads they probably think they just sound like an even pop-er version of Devo. Which they sort of do. If Devo were covering the Blackadder theme tune with a bag full of MDMA strapped to their eyeballs. Oh, and the band’s singer Lawrence Abu-Hamden has a tendency to wear a pretty revealing all in one Speedo affair on stage which is more than a little revealing.

Some people who don’t really know much about anything have been calling these groups ‘art-school’ bands. What does that even mean? None of Cleckhuddersfax even really went to a school where they teach you art. They are however all into things like painting and drawing and making funny noises. The music they’ve ended up making is just an extension of wanting to do something instead of sitting around all day watching Deal Or No Deal and smoking cheap hash. Except that they like doing that too. Hmm.

Vice: Is it true that you stole your stage outfit from Sacha Baron Cohen while you were working part time on a soundstage at Shepperton Studios?
Lawrence (Vocals):

It looks a lot like that though, like a big bright orange Speedo suit. Who had it first you or Borat?
Me. Mine is a little less revealing but somehow more repugnant.
Shakeeb (bass): His definitely stinks worse. He never washes it. The crotch area gets pretty bad on tour.

You guys are all pretty willful, do you ever get into Cleckhuddersfights?
Tom (keyboards):
No we just sulk.
Shakeeb: Lawrence and I were bought up as Druze in Lebanon so we are pretty calm in general.

You sound sort of like five different bands playing at once but in a good way. If you could each make up your own backing band, who would you choose on what instruments?
3 Geddy Lee’s.
Lawrence: Prince and Danzig.
Joe (drums): My friend Denesh.
Tom: Can I just have four of me?

What exactly is a Cleckhuddersfax? It sounds like some magical stone that Merlin might use to banish evil spirits away back across the Styx before retiring to his chamber to converse telepathically with Paragon Belial or something.
It’s just the name of a naturally occurring triangle in Yorkshire.


Cleckhuddersfax have a cover of Oneida’s "Sheets Of Easter" out now on Furniture records. Their self-titled debut album will be released in the not too distant future.

Vice Interview: Spin Spin The Dogs

Another one that never saw the light.


Spin Spin The Dogs Look Like Tennis Umpires

The problem with doing an indie band in the fashion issue is that you kind of know that they are going to a wear a bunch of clothes that they either got given by their mum, dad, aunt or uncle or alternatively bought for 73p from Save The Children on Catford High Street. Now, when I say indie I don’t mean indie in a New Cross, Fred Perry v-neck, ACNE jeans and Poste pointy shoes, English angular guitar band indie kind of way. No siree. I am talking more kids that go to shows at Bardens, smoke limp roll ups and make their girlfriends with names like Arrabella or Letitia mixtapes featuring bands like Polvo, The Lapse and Native Nod kind of way.

While it would be easy to dismiss their slap shod appearance and apparent total lack of effort an any area of anything these kind of kids redeem themselves by usually being insanely nice, totally positive and stupidly knowledgeable about tones of records you should really own and know inside out but were too busy organizing Friday nights out with your ‘buddies’ on AIM to ever listen to. If you go for a beer with a bunch of them you can easily sit there and let a bunch of band names, label references and in jokes wash over you for hours. It is pretty calming.

Spin Spin The Dogs are a whole gang of these type of indie kids. They are nice, funny and make music so laden with reference points that it is a total waste of time even beginning to tell you what it sounds like. You will just have to trust us and go out and listen to them even if for no other reason than that at this point in time they are that rarest of things: an English guitar band worth a shit.

VICE: So. Clothes. Gotta ask, sorry.
Vincent Larkin (vocals):
At the moment I look slightly like a tennis umpire to the untrained eye but that could be because I am feeling ill. In general I go for a look that I have referred to in the past as ‘the sleazy preacher’. It is based on Dylan during his Christian phase but without the constant accompanying gospel choir.
Dean Hinks (bass): I don’t really pay for clothes. I wait until people get too big or too small for them. I am like this consistent median in life. Others fluctuate but I will forever be a hand-me-downable or upable size.

What do you spend all the money that you are not spending on clothes on?
Beer at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on a Saturday night.
Luke Younger (guitar): Billies?

Okidoke. How would you go about spinning a dog? Sounds cruel.
We were referring really to spinning the dog around in circles with the use of a twig, branch or similar object of attention. To actually physically spin a dog around would be cruel yes. That said I did throw a dog at someone once.

Jesus. What happened?
The dog was menstruating at the time as it happens so it was actually pretty gross to be honest. Not my finest moment.


Spin Spin The Dogs excellent EP Cats is available now on Fancy Paradise records.

Vice Interview: Skeletons & The Kings Of All Cities

Here is another one that never ran.


Skeletons And The Kings Of All Cities rob and run

Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities aren’t quite a band. They are more a loose unit of musicians, artists and strays who can number anything between two and twenty depending on time and place. The whole shebang spins around the vortex of filmmaker, artist and photographer Matt Mehlan, founder of the Shinkoyo DIY art collective and ParisLondonWestNile and Silent Barn performance spaces in New York.

When they get to playing Skeletons come on like a bunch of psychedelic grave robbers plundering the bones of western pop, eastern ragas and African tropicalia before proceeding to dance on their tombs playing a reconstituted patchwork of the lot until way past dawn.

The band successfully reinvision centuries of sonic history, coat it in a glaze of melody and play it for all it’s worth. While the outfit has been gestating and regurgitating weird sounds since 2003 it is in this years Lucas full length that all the crazy sound thievery finally comes together. You should go check it out.

VICE: Your music sounds deliciously out of step with pretty much anything. Which era of history would you say it belongs to?
Jason McMahon (guitars, vocals, synths):
The past is always changing, and that’s good for it’s survival. If history never changed, it would cease to mean anything; it would sort of shrivel and die like Grandpa Lincoln. Sometimes you hear people say that something is ahead of its time, but later it turns out it was actually just right on time. Except if you’re talking about something that was just a bad idea to begin with, which belongs to no era at all.
Matt Mehlan (guitars, vocals, synths): I just read the Wikipedia entry about the fall of the Roman Empire. One theory is that instead of the aqueducts, which purified the Romans' water they began using lead pipes. It's similar to the Glass Armonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin. Everyone thought the eerie tone of the instrument caused insanity, but really it was the lead in the glass bowls.

Remind me to steer clear of those. There seems to be a sense of the primitive about your music. Is that something you are going for or do you just not know how to play your instruments?
Music is only primitive in the sense that the performers are masters of their instruments in ways that don’t make sense. Music is always trying to talk about right now, whether it’s trying to understand what the past means to us, or what we think the future can be like. I think that “right now” influences us the most because it’s the closest. I don’t believe in astrology because those planets are just too far away.

Who are your favourite Kings of all time?
Martin Luther, BB, Carol, Freddie, Tubby, of Queens, the movie Kingpin, Crimson, Tut, Larry, Stephen, Kong, Jesus, Burger, Rodney, Rat, The Lion, Cobra, of the Hill, of Leon, Lear, Lizard, Sofa, NoSmo, NoPar. There are a lot of good kings.


Lucas is out now on Ghostly International.

Vice Interview: The Tranzmitors

Here is an interview I did that never saw print.


The Tranzmitors Play It Underground

When it comes to making tunes everything has been done already. That’s just one of those maxims you have to remember. Why bust a nut trying to make freakier, out thereier, avant-psche popadelia than everyone else? You just end up looking like a cunt. Either that or your name is Devandra Banhart. No matter how hard you try there will always be someone out there doing whatever is you think that only you are doing before you. Wanna make low frequency drone splatter explosions? Dude, haven’t you heard of Filthy Turd? Wanna make miked up, glass shatter, self mutilation? Dude, never heard of Justice Yeldham? The point being that sometimes it’s more productive and, hell, just a lot more fun to look backwards in order to move forwards. Why bother re-inventing a wheel when you can just make it the slickest, lowest riding, big dick swingingest, chromed out 22” dub out there. Or in the case of the Tranzmitors, the sharpest suited, pointiest shoe’d most slicked back band out there. These guys all look like they’ve just stepped out of the cover of “In The City”. Ok, ok, so they kind of look like cunts but I sure would prefer them to be playing at the bar than the fabulous freak brothers. They play sinewy, refined pop punk that makes you want to sing along to all the choruses about dancing in the back rows and all sorts of other crap you don’t really care about. They are so dedicated to the whole backwards looking thing that Stiff records has come out of retirement to put their LP out. Groovy.

You come from Canada, what are you playing at pretending that you are in the Jam?
Jarrod O’Dell (keyboards, vocals): We just love all those records. The Jam, The Style Council, Mod stuff. I wouldn’t say 2 tone influences our sound but I like the way they dress. I mean, come on, look at us. That is why we are super psyched about the record coming out on Stiff over here. They had Ian Drury and the Blockheads and Elvis Costello and a killer logo. They had it all really. Mod stuff is great in general though wouldn’t you say? Scooters and all that crap, I love it, they really had it going on. Are there any scooter rallies here?

Dude, London isn’t like Quadrophenia any more. If it was who would you play with?
Jeffrey McCloy (guitar, vocals)
: Well, The Jam obviously. And Madness.
Bryce Dunn (drums, vocals): Shit, that makes us sound so boring. Can’t we talk about fighting and drinking or something?

You do seem to just want to talk about the Jam. Everyone calls me Jam. Maybe we can just talk about me?
: Maybe not.

OK, you are all pretty big. I don't want to get in a fight with you? Do you get into many fights?
: It’s been known. We won’t back down. You have to be able to come out swinging you know?


The Tranzmitors self titled debut LP is out on Stiff Records now.

Vice Blog Post: They Said They'd Take Me Anywhere


So The Vaselines played at The Forum the other day and for some reason they agreed to let me go talk to them for a while before the show. I don't remember ever feeling nervous before doing an interview before but the thought of meeting Francis and Eugene actually had butterflies going in my stomach for the first time since I sat at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my parents to come home after I'd fallen asleep while filling the bath and flooding the house when I was 9. I even had to duck into The Assembly House for a swift one beforehand. Which is kind of ridiculous considering they only ever managed to write less than twenty songs.

Vice Blog Post: Do They Owe Us A Living?


Unless you have been resolutely comatose and/or trapped in a box in a Siberian layby for the last 24 hours you probably won't have failed to notice that there was a bit of a kerfufle in London yesterday over this thing. Because I'm terribly political and desperate to write myself into history, I decided to take a day out of the office, enjoy some good old-fashioned English rioting, and see what everyone was getting all hot and bothered about.

Vice v7n4 Feature: Dubai

This was one that I did intro, research and edit on but most if the captions and the excellent photos (go to Viceland to check them out) are by Adam Patterson.


Inside Dubai’s Terrordome

Dubai: A city where oil-rich Emirates are willing to pay $14 million just to drive around with a license plate bearing the number “1” (seriously, look it up). A country of vast metal spires that actually feel like they scrape the sky, constructed with materials that can withstand solar heats, vortex winds and are built on the sweat of others’ misery.

When I landed in Dubai to photograph the structures and the men who made them, the atmosphere resembled the kind of sick feeling you get when noticing a starved pitbull has crept up on you – except here he has been fed acid and has every intention of seizing the very air from your lungs.

Annually 700,000 Brits love the cheap flights from the UK. They splurge money on continuous A/C and luxury bedding. They came for the holiday of a lifetime and it fits the bill. 250,000 limeys love it so much that they now call it home. The papers tell of no crime, they see no beggars or rubbish on the streets and they leave wondering why the UK cannot learn from this fine example. What many people will not consider is a lack of free press. Murders and crimes happen but are rarely reported, and any criticism of the government will leave the respective publication closed for business.

However, it was the structures and those who built them that I was pre-occupied with. As the global economy slowly limps into total bankruptcy and the tourist trade that the oil-raped country has come to rely upon dwindles, so the dollars pouring in dry up and lay-offs begin.

A report issued in January showed that while $692 billion worth of building projects are going ahead, $582 billion worth have been put on hold due to the economic slowdown. What will happen to these huge monoliths of futurist architecture gone wild when there is no one to stay in them? What will happen to the work force shipped in from India and Pakistan whose services can longer be rendered? In 2008, the Wall Street Journal placed Dubai's debt, relative to gross domestic product (GDP), at 42 percent. If you compare this to Abu Dhabi's debt of 2.9 percent of GDP, Dubai looks in serious trouble and the brutal reality behind the shiny titanium façade is far scarier than I could possibly have imagined. Despite the number of labourers being in excess of millions, there are currently only 400 government building inspectors. And that is more than double the 2007 figure. It is common for employers to offer no medical insurance, confiscate passports (illegal even in Dubai) and withhold pay for months on end as an incentive for workers to continue labouring in 120-degree heat that often causes fatalities. In 2006, there were 667 labour-related deaths in Dubai.

The specific details of the structures read like a Dan Dare metropolis designed by a demented Donald Trump. For example, the Burj Al Arab: 321 meters and constructed on an artificial island 280 meters out from Jumeirh beach, taller than the Eiffel Tower, just 65 meters shy of the Empire State Building and constructed from 70,000 cubic meters of concrete and 9,000 tons of steel. To secure a foundation on the artificial base, builders drove 230 40-metre long concrete piles into the sand. The cost of staying in a suite begins at $1,000 per night; while a night in the Royal Suite will set you back $28,000. Its Al Mahara (Arabic for "The Oyster") restaurant has to be accessed by a simulated submarine voyage via a large seawater aquarium, holding roughly 35,000 cubic feet (over one million liters) of water. The tank, made of acrylic glass in order to withstand the water pressure, is about 18 centimeters thick. The hotel can only be reached by causeway in one of its courtesy white Rolls Royces or by helicopter, which lands at the hotel’s heliport that cantilevers out of the roof. It has also served as a grass tennis court for Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, and a golf green for Tiger Woods. Calling itself a 7-star hotel, despite the fact official ratings only go up to 5, the Burj also boasts the world's fastest lifts, which travel at 7 meters per second.

Once upon a time (also known as the late 90s) the Jumeirah Beach Hotel (the one that looks like a big wave that you always see on TV) was one of the tallest in Dubai but now it barely scrapes the top 100. It did however utilise next generation prefab products with strange names like Reynobond Aluminum Composite, which reflect the fierce sun, as well as Colorweld 300 coating and Reynobond panels, which allowed builders to construct the whole shebang in 12 months. To stop the place overheating, a massive cooling plant was constructed at a site almost half a kilometer from the hotel so as not to allow the engineering requirements to intrude on the main building.

At the pyramid-shaped Raffles you can get a 24 carat gold facial treatment and swim in a pool that, from above, operates as a functioning clock via moving jetted streams of water. You can eat brasserie prepared by Prince Charles’ former personal chef at The Grosvenor. Once finished, the $300m dollar Hydropolis Hotel project will allow you to stay in a wholly submerged hotel 22 meters below sea level in a structure the size of London’s Hyde Park for a cool $5,500 a night. The Lost City of Atlantis in the infamous “Palm” (a water-based, shaped clump of islands similar to the infamous “World” enclosure) resort contains just the 1,539 rooms. For £14,000 you can get a night in 1,105 square yards of hotel, the use of six bedrooms, 12 khazis, one gold-plated dinner table, two butlers, two maids, a dishwasher and two chefs.

Planned structures include The Trump International Hotel and Tower, which resembles a huge version of the rocket from Tintin’s Explorers on the Moon and the Dubai Death Star which looks exactly like, erm, a Death Star. Seriously. Zaha Hadid’s Dancing Towers will involve three entwined spikes rivaled only in nuttiness by the Infinity Tower, which will include a 90-degree twist, the Dubai Towers, which look a little like octopus tentacles writhing skywards and the Dynamic Tower, which will offer 80 floors all capable of rotating independently, powered by wind turbines fitted between each floor. The Al Burj, still under construction, will be 1,051 meters tall when finished and requires the tallest structure ever created in order to use as a platform to build the place. Perhaps the most insane proposed structure of all is The Cloud which will resemble a nebulous mass suspended 300m up on pylons designed to resemble rain. Yikes.

Caption Quotes:

* 1: (Opener. No quote.)

* 2: This was taken at around 4:30 AM. These workers must walk to work from their labor camps, which are often miles outside the city. Others are shutteled on prison style buses with faces peering through barred windows. They are part of an approximated 10 million migrant labour force mainly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and The Philippines. They look here much like they are within Emirate society: the ghosts of the great highway, the men building the dreams of Dubai.

* 3: In the rush to modernise, the Emirate of Dubai has ploughed any evidence of its past into the sand. There is no culture here, no way of doing things. Tourists are herded through the predictable turns like the gold souk, a rebuilt fabrication catering to the western craving of how things might have been.

* 4: 2007 reports claimed that Dubai retail and commercial space covered 1.3 million square feet, a figure projected to double this year. 15-25 percent of the world’s cranes are in Dubai, while the economy grows at an annual rate of 16.7 percent and the population 6.4 percent.

* 5: The push for western construction butts up against the pitfalls of religious tradition and often workers collapse and fall to their deaths by dehydration.

* 6: Rest during a lunch break. In summer, the mid-day sun has sweat blinding your eyes within minutes – regular water is needed to maintain – but during the month of Ramadan, when nothing may pass the mouth during daylight, problems arise.

* 7: Many of the workers aspire to be taxi drivers and spend years working their way up – getting permits and passing the taxi law tests. As a taxi driver they can earn as little as construction workers - about 500 Dhs a month ($130) - and will work 13-hour shifts, with only one holiday every two years to see their family.

* 8: Hygiene is minimal but the hand wash offers a brief chance for respite. Many workers discuss their homes and families. No matter the conditions those in a job are still earning ten times what they might at home in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh. Sometimes this is not enough though and in 2006, 87 migrant workers took their lives, many of whom would be sending the life insurance directly to their families.

* 9: The oldest tower hails only from the 70s, and its 30-year-old facade was a completely different incarnation to the one we see today. It was English financiers that saw potential in the tax free zone, and, teamed with Arabic backing, exploited it. It is Dubai law that companies have to be headed by at least one national, and there must be a ten per cent staff of nationals at all times. If a national is fired, the company will be fined by the government.

* 10: Hand in hand, Arabic families and British professionals regenerated the once faceless country, and so a relationship between the two has formed. It is estimated that within two years there will be more British residents than nationals. Judging by the streets of mini skirt-wearing, beer-swilling English who don't even try to tone down their national tongues let alone learn Arabic words, and malls of snogging couples, pasty white in their cut-off shorts and Crocs, this is a statistic quite believable and a world away from the work forces building their playgrounds.

* 11: In March 2006, workers rioted on the site of the Burj Dubai causing around $1 million of damage. Their protests led to a 20 percent increase in salary to match inflation but failure to deliver led to further riots in October 2007 with 4,000 workers being imprisoned and later deported without pay.

* 12: UAE labour laws, particularly in the ‘free zones’, are constructed to benefit the employer and undermine any rights the labour force have. Migrant exploitation is almost literally government sanctioned.

* 13: The day finally ends at sunset, usually at around 7.30 PM. The workers walk along worn paths, away from the public that toss dust into the air and leave a line of gritty, ghostly silhouettes moving into the distance.

* 14: This was taken in Sonapur (‘land of gold’ in Hindi), Dubai’s largest labour camp, which embassies estimate house upwards of 50,000 workers – although these figures are questionable and there are believed to be many more.

* 15: This is Ikram on the left with his friends in a rare moment of relaxation. As the economy begins to fail they have been given a ticket home. They are not sure when, but they are expected to feel lucky for this small mercy. Over the next few days they will be taken to the airport and shipped back to the mountains of Pakistan.

*16: They are excited to see their families again, but there was an over-riding sense of the reality of serious debt, and visits from the collectors. Most went to Dubai on broken promises – the recruiters paint a dream that cannot be realised. The prodigal sons are returning but without the bounty. You have one month to leave following the termination of employment. Whether you have worked two months or 20 years, no one can retire here. It is not an option.

* 17: These guys’ eyes looking back at me with more emotion than I could handle on a hot afternoon, or any other time for that matter, had me near to tears as I considered my photographs could never offer the realities of their suffering and the fact that these men were effectively being held as prisoners who had committed no crimes.

* 18: Imran was a goat herder from northern Pakistan. His family came together and pooled the cash for his flight to Dubai, with the promise of an exciting wage and solid work. On arrival he was informed that this wage would be halved and two months later Imran was told that he must leave Dubai within three days. There is no work; he now has no job.

* 19: Life in Sonapur is squalid and disease and illness rife. Open rubbish bins and sewage are everywhere, leading to high levels of disease and illness amongst workers with little to no access to medical care.

* 20: I visited a workers’ camp on the edge of nowhere. It wasn’t even a village. In fact, all signs prior to arrival indicated that we should immediately turn around, or risk being lost, forgotten and never found. We had left Dubai only an hour before, but this was like being in another world.
Around 30 Indian workers were living here, only months after being miscounted and left to survive on dates that have fallen from trees. They are looking healthier now, thanks to the woman who had taken me to see them. She was a company director that found them nearing starvation only months before and decided to blow the whistle.

* 21: A security guard on a small scale development.

* 22: Sewage left in acrid open pools. You could smell this from within the camp and as you approached, from miles before the camp was even in sight.

* 23: These are the huge pumps that pour the sewage out of the camps. They look like huge octopus tendrils snaking through the refuse-strewn streets.

* 24: The thing I remember most about this guy was his feet. They were rough and worn, like old leather sacks. His skin spoke of a style of living I had never known, or wanted to.

* 25: On my last night in the camp, the poor safety precautions finally caught up with the cheap and squalid living conditions and a petrol fire broke out. It is strange that even in a wholly impoverished culture the TV is still the first thing to be saved.

* 26: I followed Imran to the airport as he prepared to fly home. There were broken bodies everywhere. The workforce constantly reminded me of ghosts in that they are silent and ignored by the city. This shot became a physical manifestation of that feeling.

* 27 + 28: While the male workforce is often ignored but visible, the plight of female domestic servants occurs behind closed doors and is equally harsh. I managed to get scans of Alamesh, a domestic worker from Ethiopia’s pay slip: 500 Dhs ($130) a month for working seven-day weeks and often 18-hour days. Migrant workers send billions of dollars home annually. UAE Exchange claims that of their annual volume in 2008 they turned around 12 billion dollars, most of it to India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

* 29 Alamanesh and Mali working in an Emirate home.

* 30: Here a Filipino domestic worker I met called Jenny enjoys some respite in the Global Village, one of the few leisure areas domestic servants are allowed to enter in Dubai.

* 31: The government has ruled that families must live in villas or flats but female staff like Miss Suzi cannot afford the 150,000 Dhs that would cost. She lives with 24 others in a 3-bedroom villa. She told me: “My dream is to one day go back to the Philippines for good and not come back to Dubai. I don’t know when, there is no future here with the freeze, they have stopped hiring and people are losing their jobs.”

Vice v7n4 Literary Reviews

Thomas Hooper

This is a book of skulls. There are some bones in there too so maybe if Thomas was to be perfectly, titularly accurate he should have gone for Book of Skulls & Bones. But then again Hooper is one of the greatest tattoo artists currently permanently scarring people with ink out there so he can do pretty much whatever he damn well pleases thankyouverymuch. If you don’t believe us on just how good he is then go check out his blog which we’ve handily listed down there. Still, even with all of this fawning it remains a book of skulls. And bones. So if you are into pictures of either of those things this is probably the best book you’ll ever own.

Chris Seddon

This one could have gone either way as, despite being amazingly well presented, it perpetuates a single joke: that it is a tribute to a made up musical genre called ‘HAM’. Written down that doesn’t sound so funny. Maybe it isn’t and I I’ve just lost any sense of humour but I was literally falling off my chair reading the mocked up interviews and fliers for nights at places like ‘Le Porcine’ in Marseille with lineups including Wiggy Fettel and Nicky Iberico playing HMNML to baying charcuterie loving French crowds. It’s a bit like that Cake episode of Brass Eye but about pork and not on TV.

Chris Leah

Being forced out into the wet, freezing, windy, rain sodden outdoors for indulging in the simple pleasure of slowly killing yourself has been a hardship the smoking public have been putting up with, reacting and adapting to in this country for a year and a half now. This has been ample time for Chris Leah to gallop around the UK taking shots that are hilarious, depressing and sometimes even manage to be both at once. Some of the “you’re robbing us of our rights” commentary that accompanies the images grates after a while, even as a resolute twenty-a-day guy, but there is enough here to make it well worth seeking out. Even if only to show your kids the days when you could still smoke outdoors as opposed to just in the chained casket, in a basement, below the tube lines. Oh wait, don’t cigarettes kill your chances of having kids too? Whoops.

Joe Dunthorne

OK, deep breath, brace yourself, are you ready? Well, I don’t want to cause any minor strokes or major heart palpitations but this a review of, wait for it, a novel. Yep, an actual work of fiction as opposed to lots of pictures. Bear with me here, I’ve not completely lost the plot. Firstly, people still read these things and some of us here do too so we thought it timely to let you know about a new novel actually worth picking up. Secondly, this particular one is by Joe Dunthorne who you may remember wrote a wholly engrossing tract for us entitled My Appetite for our 2007 annual Fiction Issue. We hate to do a big “we told you so” but Joe’s debut novel is a perfectly pitched journey through what it is actually like being young and watching everything spiral out of control. We could compare it to The Catcher In The Rye but you probably stopped reading this review after hitting the word “novel”. If you haven’t: go out and buy it. Dunthorne is a genius.

Theboyking & Nefatron

Okay, okay, so this one isn’t even actually a book. It is a DVD. But it looks a lot like a book and it has chapters and it is by far one of the most interesting things to land on the desk in many moons. The guys behind this thing originally set it up so that if you wanted a copy you had to go see a guy called Rajah who runs the Mimi-Mart on Bricklane but these days you can get hold of a copy from popular information superhighway interface ‘the internet’. Back II Life is essentially a DVD mixtape with footage ranging from exclusive video clips featuring the RZA, Badness, Jammer and, well, you get the idea, all the way to spending time with a guy called Herman who hangs out in Bangla town, a feature on London forward thinkers Real Gold, and interviews indie band Let’s Wrestle and an old lady called Marion who seems to live in a hairdressers. Eclectic then.

Vice v7n4 Record Reviews

Tim Hecker
An Imaginary Country

8 Listening to Hecker’s records has always been like falling into that swirling, multicoloured, pulsing wave thing that your laptop defaults to if you leave it alone for more than three seconds. The only thing that changes from album to album is the colours that you imagine yourself woozily floating in. Not sure if the sleeve disproportionately influenced me but this one is definitely warm greens and chilly blues.

Jams Lavile

Southern Lord

9 Don’t let the fact that it’s on Southern Lord stop you from giving this one a go because blog metal it ‘aint. After six years and a meager couple of 7”s Orcusts finally vomit forth a full length and while it might tick all the corpse paint and disemboweled-amputate-fetus artwork boxes it’s easily the best black metal release this side of the last Deathspell Omega. Grim with lots of “I’s” etc etc


Pink Mountaintops
Outside Love

8 I never got Black Mountain. It just sounds like a po-faced version of Uncle Tupelo created in a laboratory to give Uncut readers involuntary ear boners to me. The Pink Mountaintops stuff that Black Mountain singer guy Stephen McBean whips up on his days off comes on like a tall glass of greatness though.

Bo Fiddley

Insect Warfare
World Extermination

9 Woe betide anyone attempting to traverse the tricky bridge to grindcore land in 2009. Sorry, you’re bound to end up in the smelly stream of mediocrity at best or just get laughed offstage at Le Pub in Newport at worst. That is unless your band is called Insect Warfare.

Bic Nullen

Chained To The Nite

8 Earache have, in the past, pinned their tails on some pretty duff donkeys. The New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal may seem like another loosing bet but somehow Cauldron have rapidly wedged themselves into constant rotation in my iTunes and, worryingly, my head. It’s all swords, sorcery and assorted other silliness but I’ve not had this much fun since the guy from Dragonforce started doing 10-minute keytar solos.

Perry Nutkins

Nathan Fake
Hard Islands
Border Community

9 Putting the word “hard” in your album title and telling anyone who’ll listen that you are “pre-occupied by the dancefloor” just makes you come on like a little kid with scuffed knees talking a big game in the playground. You aren’t fooling anyone Nathan. Beefier it may be but it’s equal parts sinewy, uplifting and as beautifully crafted as ever.

The Redruth Ripper

Sleepy Sun

2 Maybe putting on six million festivals a year makes your ears so filled with music that you forget what “good” and “bad” sound like. Not that you won’t find me in Minehead come May. Just saying is all.

Jams R Us

The Coathangers
Suicide Squeeze

8 Imagine The Black Lips but with boobs. Sounds good right? The Coathangers might just be better than even that. Note perfect, spiraling garage riffs, a tonne of sass and vocals that come on like Mary Weiss doing Huggy Bear covers. We should all be kneeling beside our beds and thanking the big guy upstairs for Atlanta every single night.

Goodie Goodie Mob

Coming From Reality
Light In The Attic Records

3 Just because everyone went monkey-nuts over David Holmes ‘finding’ Rodriguez and his long out of print debut getting reissued last year doesn’t mean you have to milk the poor cash cow till his udder teats are raw and rouged. Stick with last year’s Cold Fact set and be done with it. There’s a reason this was the last record Sixto cut before retiring.

Sugar Jam

Silversun Pickups

1 Swoon? Faint From All Consuming Indifference more like. I’ve heard Eddie Stobart haulage drivers whistling in the toilets at Newport Pagnell services that had me nodding my head more than this would in a million months of Sundays.

Alexis Petri Dish

Metric Music International/PIAS/Intergral

2 The soundtrack to Grey’s Anatomy self release new record. World fails to even manage a partially interested “huh?” Has it really been four years since you couldn’t walk ten feet without hearing that “Monster Hospital” song? Does anyone still even care?

Jam 69

Tut Tut Now Shake Your Butt
Truth Cult

9 Who’d have imagined when we put them on together at The Old Blue Last that Japanther and former Crass leader and eternal agit-heckler come stream of conscious poet Penny Rimbaud would disappear off into the studio and make something of unsurpassable excellentness? Not only did they manage to do just that but they also somehow squeezed matey from Spank Rock on there wittering about getting banged up in JFK for wearing a flashy necklace. Or something.

General Bacardi

Golden Silvers
True Romance

2 Lot’s of people I know really like this band. Not even in a passing “they’re ok” liking way but in a sing-it-from-the-nearest-spire televangelical liking way. Maybe I need to go home and have a long hard think about who I make friends with.

Bruce Grobellar

The Black Lips
200 Million Thousand

9 Still the most fun band of lovably roguish babes currently playing music? Check. Still making the jingliest, rawest garage-punk this side of the Swinging Medallions covering “Black Monk Time”? Check. Still likely to pee through your mailbox, run off with your girlfriend and somehow make you wish they were still around? Check, check, check. The Black Lips are still all of these things but this time around they have managed to squeeze gut-wrenching into their already brimming repertoire and if I “I’ll Be With You” doesn’t make you want to run off into some secluded corner and have a big blub then you are an emotional void.

Day Ravies

Vice v7n3 Feature: Wear Dare

A feature involving me wearing seven days worth of clothes that my biddy Bruno had selected for me for the paltry some of £50. I did the same to him. It doesn't really work without the photos but meh, whatever.

Day One

Today I feel like a camp male stylist in Lil Kim trousers. And a Hackney wino’s shoes. Thanks, Bruno. The little old guy who has been letting me through the gate with my bike for about 15 years at Kingston train station dispensed with his usual cheery smile and did a green-cross-code-guy stop signal with his hands and examined my ticket eyeing me up like he was a gumshoe in some Raymond Chandler novel about to snuff my ongoing offense to decent dressing. Next stop: BBC Radio 6 Music. The building 6 Music broadcasts out of shares studios with Radio 2 and usually it’s a pretty fun deal pretending you are John Peel but from security right through to actually getting inside the studio I got stopped about four times and grilled. I usually sail through no questions asked. The producer guy even informed me that I wasn’t “dressed for radio”, whatever that means. I then had to go see a friend’s band play at Café 1001 off Brick Lane. Luckily the amount of two bit LCC drop outs who drape themselves all over Dray’s Walk hoping Gilbert and George might wink at them made me feel pretty camouflaged in my get up. So far not so bad.

Day Two

Today’s combo was actually hugely comfortable. The Hawaiian shirt was made of kind of silk and its verdant greens were almost soothing. The trousers were basically pyjama bottoms that someone else had worn into that really nice thin soft stage without any effort on my part. The only major downside of this whole shebang was what can only be described at best as skid marks, at worst “a load of crap stains in my trousers”. I managed to finally provoke some reaction when I tipped up in my piggy jim-jam suit to the Underworld to catch the end of Wolves In The Throne Room’s set. All the stern-faced blog metal kids with sixty-seven variations of every Sunn release looked as though I’d casually strolled in and started sodomising their mothers because I wasn’t wearing a t-shirt with some band on the front whose logo you’d need a PhD in BM symbols to decipher. Sadly they all also live with their mothers and were never taught bar fighting at Stowe or Harrow or wherever they went to school so I managed to go another day without grievous bodily harm.

Day Three

Today I had to wear a dress. So did Bruno but luckily mine was more like some kind of gown I imagine a hash peddler in Marrakesh might wear. The hat still brought it down to an escapee-from-a-home-for-the-severly-autistic level but, compared to the Tinker Bell number I’d got Bruno in, I was pretty OK with the set up. I was beginning to feel a little like I had been overly malicious but you can’t dwell on these things. After some warm-up drinks in the safety of my flat we took to the town. All was fine at the Old Blue Last amidst the usual turn out of ridiculously dressed guys who look like girls for a living but the walk up Hoxton Street saw us get into a little bother after someone took offence to Bruno’s lilac frock. It finally felt like the British aversion to silliness had been vindicated.

Day Four

After yesterday’s triumph of brutality, today came felt a little like an anti-climax. Until I got a call from my mum reminding me that it was my grandmother’s birthday. Granny and Grandpa Knight are from old south-west London building stock so don’t look too kindly on any unnecessary fruitiness. I feared that their predictions that their grandson might get turned “a little queer” by a career in “media” might be confirmed by the mock Juicy Couture bottoms and green roll neck. They took it all surprisingly in their stride and just offered me cocktail sausages and pineapple and cheddar on a stick maintaining the stiff upper lip drill right through until goodbyes when I got an “if I make it through to my next one, can you not come dressed like your sister?”. Sorry nan.

Day Five

The most inappropriate till last. My computer had warned me it might snow today but the BBC are about as trustworthy as the guy on Great Eastern Street who has told me he needs a pound to call his lawyer every single day for the last two and a half years. For once though Auntie was on the money. The temperature had dropped to solidly around zero, the sky was swelling with white stuff and I was in some shorts Maradona would have waved off for being too high-cut back in 1978 and a vest that made me look like a Brazilian beach volleyball player. Leaving the house led to my hopes of future fatherhood halving every second they were indecently exposed and imposed on passers by. After a day of shivering and shaking I couldn’t turn down an invitation to a lamb shank pot roast at my girlfriend’s parents’ house. Her 11-year-old brother gave me perhaps the most withering “grow the fuck up” look of the week when he answered the door but I was too hungry to care about the raised eyebrows that accompanied every bite.

Vice v7n3 Record Reviews

Alasdair Roberts
Drag City

9 You know in Jurassic Park how they make the beasts from the DNA found in the dinosaur blood sucked up by mosquito’s who’d been crystalised in amber for millions of years? Ali Roberts was probably made in a similar way. Except in his case they extracted some ancient Celtic minstrel’s DNA and perfectly re-created him for the heartless consumption of an uncaring 21st century audience. His boundless talent seems sadly squandered on you all. What a waste.

Woody Guffree

Waylon Jennings
Waylon Forever

10 When I was about 17 I read that Howard Marks book Mr Nice. I’m not proud of it. I was 17. It was what you did. Even then the guy’s cod philosophy and self serving morality made me want to sick up in my mouth but one thing did strike me about Marks: he always used to check into hotels under the name ‘Waylon Jennings’. Anyone who name checked the original country outlaw must have had at least a few ok-guy fibres rattling around his bones. Anyway, Waylon might have dodged death by trading his seat with the Big Bopper on ‘the day the music died’ but it got him in the end. Here are his last few tunes. I miss him every day.

Rambin’ Jam

Hard Ons
Suck & Swallow
Boss Tuneage

8 You aren’t likely to see the Hard Ons selling car insurance or butter anytime soon. In fact, if you live in Kettering you’ll be able to see them play the Sawyers next month. However, I defy you to show me a band that has played melodic punk so well and so hard for so long. Here we find Australia’s greatest punk export tidied up into 25 handy morsels to represent their 25 years. Thanks Boss Tuneage!

Jam 69

The Flowers Of Hell
Come Hell Or High Water

7 Wow, this is like that Guitar Loops record J. Spaceman put out a while back played by the band they get going on the Last Night Of The Proms. In a good way. There has to be at least thirty people playing on this album. Must be a ripe smelling tour bus.

Devandra Jamhart

Magik Markers
Barf Quarry
Drag City

8 This one is really going to piss off the chin-stroke guys who stand on the front row of shows at The Red Rose muttering things like “intriguing” and “what great use of mid range” at incomprehensible walls of sound ‘cos guess what? Magik Markers only went and wrote some tunes. Ones you can hum along to and everything. Pop: 1, beard scratch: 0.

Dickie Bishop

Gui Boratto
Take My Breath Away

8 Despite naming his record after the theme tune from Top Gun Mr Boratto manages to improve upon the promise of his superb debut and offers a refined set that may initially seem restrained but after a few plays suggests you really are hearing the whole 11 working at full tilt. Hardly dancefloor fodder but all the more spectacular for it.

The Unknown Folder

Extra Life
Secular Works
LoAF Recordings

8 Woah. Hold on a minute there. What just happened? I’ve tried listening to this several times now and I’m still not sure. But something about it is relentlessly exciting. If I was 16 these guys would be my Lightning Bolt.

Brian Jamestown

Loren Connors & Jim O’Rourke
Two Nice Catholic Boys
Family Vine Yard

9 From blissed out, fuzzy feedback to atonal, bluesy dirge in the split of an eye and back again. Three tracks in 45 minutes and not a bum second amongst them. Does O’Rourke ever not be anything other than absolutely perfect?

Pewter Perret

Hymn To The Immortal Wind

2 For a long stretch there Mono got away with being a slightly boring version of Explosions In The Sky that people claimed to like because they had scary song titles. Now that it’s finally OK to say that Explosions suck Mono are just well, boring.

Perry Nutkins

Kitsune Tabloid
Kitsune Maison

0 You can dress a turd up in as many Lou Reed solo records and Red Crayola B Sides as you like but it will still be a turd.

Mick The Spanish

Alaska In Winter
Regular Beat

1 Ouch. What is this? It sounds like a keytar wearing a Von Dutch cap having an epileptic seizure. This kind of made me want to pull my eardrums out with a bent paper clip and then just read forever in a log cabin in the Cotswolds.

Alex Petri-Dish

The Veils
Sun Gangs
Rough Trade

2 Every time I see Geoff Travis’s son around he seems like a happy go lucky guy. Not a care in the world. Has anyone told him his dad is frittering his inheritence away on this? I know it has been a few years since their last one and I am all for loyalty but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Cyron Boley

Birds Of Delay/Family Battlesnake
Split EP

8 They may well be minor national treasures but that isn’t going to stop the Birds of Delay droning on nihilistically across one side of this 7” while Family Battlesnake takes it down a notch on the other. If you like white, round things that are made out of a substance you can touch then this might just be the release of the month for you.

Cosy Fan Tutti Frutti

Mark Durgan
Ploughing Furrows Into Rotten Burrows

10 If you don’t know who Mark Durgan is and you claim noise then go home. Durgan has been terrifying people as Putrefier via bilious missives on his Birthbiter label for the better part of two decades now. This handsomely presented 12” on Bill Kouligas’ fledgling Pan imprint offers three tracks under Durgan’s own name that may be a little more organic than you might have imagined but still pack a hefty punch to the gonads when you least expect it.

Kay Davies

Vice v7n2 Band Piece: Mike Bones


Mike Bones Is Our Favourite Misanthropic Novelist Stuck Inside A Singer Songwriters Body

We first came across Mike Bones while he was playing guitar with one of our other favourite singer-songwriter guys of all time, Cass McCombs. He then turned up playing with yet another band we have a big old crush on, The Sian Alice Group. With credentials like that and a background in the Lower East Side scene centered around the Social Registry label and much missed all hours spot The Tonic coupled with several albums worth of unreleased solid gold gems of melancholy introspection and we couldn’t help but want Mike all to ourselves. So we decided to snaffle him up and put his record out. A Fool For Everyone might just be the downer hit of the year, sleep on it at your own peril.

Vice: How did a punk kid with Johnny Thunders lyrics all over his arms become a singer-songwriter?
Mike Bones:
To me it’s the same thing. It all comes from the same place. It’s just that the songs are slower now. That guy was huge to me though. That contradiction of being so fucking dumb and yet so brilliant. He wrote one of the greatest songs of all time. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”? Huge.

There is a lot of hate in your songs. On a scale of 1 to 10 how misanthropic are you?
How can you not be a hater? You have to comment on the things around you and it’s hard to write an upbeat song. I’m not interested in writing a catchy tune or a melody, I just want to make sure that the words are as good as can possibly be. A Fool For Everyone was recorded in four days in this place called the Seaside Lounge in New York that the Excepter guys use and the whole time I was there Neko Case was in the studio next-door recording one song. Not even the whole song either, just the vocals, syllable by syllable. It was insane.

Do you still have time to teach guitar?
Sure, I’ve been doing that for years. In New York you get a lot of models that want to play guitar and be in a band so my students are often these crazy model types. That or people in bands. I’m not gonna say who but you’d be amazed at some of the people in big New York bands who’ve e-mailed me and asked for a lesson.

Some of your numbers read more like novels than songs. Have you got a book in you?
I’d love to write a novel. There aren’t any other singer-songwriters around I’d rip off but there are plenty of novelists and poets: James Salter, Denis Johnson, and the Marquis de Sade. De Sade was an amazing writer. You should read Philosophy In The Bedroom; it will give you a fucking hard-on. I was reading it on the plane the other day and I thought they’d take it off me; it’s full of sodomy and these insane rape scenes. The basic premise is that these two men and a woman turn this fifteen-year-old virgin into a subservient sexual slave. It makes you pretty glad to be a guy. All the fucked up stuff in de Sade happens to the girls.


A Fool For Everyone is available now on Vice Records

Vice v7n2 Band Piece: White Lung


Vancouver Punks White Lung Are Prepared To Kill

Hardcore is just about the gayest form of music around. Elecroclash? At least those guys had the balls to just come out with it and dress like women. Italo? Those guys can all take ten times the drugs you could and run a mile. Hardcore on the other hand is full of rippling, topless, sweaty, repressed guys groping each other to bands with names which sound like they were made up by an insecure four year old with a tough guy complex. All of a sudden though a group of four mouthy girls from Vancouver have turned up to save the day and show all the dickless boy wonders how it’s done. White Lung combine the feral energy of The Germs with the taught, wiry dynamics of The Wipers and have released a string of 45’s that somehow keep improving in a bewilderingly exponential fashion. In fact they are this repressed, gropey hardcore kids favourite new punk band as of right now.

What on earth is a ‘white lung’? It sounds like a black lung gone nuclear.

Natasha Reiche (guitar):
An eight-legged ball of fury.
Grady Mackintosh (bass): Isn’t it a degenerative disease associated with long-term asbestos exposure?
Mish Way (vocals): No! A ‘white lung’ is the slang term for a disease that bakers get from inhaling flour. Our friend Steven worked at a bakery and suggested we call the band White Lung. We had a show coming up and we were still nameless but they needed to make posters and White Lung worked. It sounded pure but intrinsically disgusting. I liked it immediately.

You list "fighting with taxi drivers" as an influence on your MySpace page. How often do you find yourselves trading blows with cabbies?

It's pretty hard to find a cab driver that will pick up four people equipped with amps and guitars. Usually we end up having to get one person to stand up the road a bit and flag one down then while they're distracting the driver we all run up with the equipment and throw it in.
Mish: I wish you'd asked how 'hot teenagers' influenced our music instead.

You guys might just be the first punk band ever to have a song about ketamine. You know that over here it is mainly a drug that squat kids who listen to psyche-trance take.
That's hilarious that you associate ketamine with psyche-trance kids. One of my ex-boyfriends befriended another ex-boyfriend of mine when they both lived in Berlin. It broke my jealous little heart. They partied a lot together and one used to feed the other ketamine. The song is just an excuse for me to be a resentful hag through shitty symbolism.

Do you ever get shit being a band of laydees in the sweaty, macho, male world of punk?

Once a guy walked up to me while we were playing and broke my guitar in half, chucked it at some innocent girl, and told us to get punk or get out. So I killed him with my bare hands.


White Lung’s Magazine 7” is available now on Deranged Records

Vice v7n2 Feature: Photo Of The Day


Jamie Livingston took a Polaroid photograph of himself every day of his life for 18 years, between 1979 and 1997, with a Polaroid SX-70 camera. He entitled the project “Photo Of The Day”.

Were this to be set of isolated images it would be hard to tell much about a person. As it goes there are a lot of days in 18 years. That means a hell of a lot of Polaroids and no matter how he is feeling or what he shoots on any given day, as a cumulative body of work, the photos give a unique window into a single individuals life.

It is a strange feeling to discover simple things about a man you will never meet. Like which American Football team he supports. And that he seems to be a filmmaker. And that he likes ice cream.

The series becomes particularly moving as Livingston chronicles his own declining health as he contracts and fights brain cancer. Throughout he maintains a sense of humour, goofing around for shots with wigs and showing off his shaved noggin for his trusty SX 70.

On the 25th of October 1997, on the day of his 41st birthday, Livingston dies in hospital. This too is logged.

The project has been lovingly archived by his friends Betsy Reid and Hugh Crawford and can be accessed in its entirety online. The Polaroids were exhibited last year at Bard College where Livingston studied and began the project. This is the first time that the shots have been published. We spoke to Hugh about his friends legacy.

VICE: What do you think initially motivated Jamie to take a photograph every day of his life for eighteen years?
Hugh Crawford:
I think it started out pretty casually, and then he kind of became increasingly committed as the project progressed. I don’t think that he really became aware of the scope or the sense of it being this epic project until about 4 or 5 years in.

Does it not feel kind of weird laying friend's life bare for anyone who cares to pop online to see?
No, I think Jamie operated in the tradition of Stan Brackage and others who made art from their life, and in turn life their art. I’d like to think it is what he would have wanted. What is unusual about Jamie’s work is that its narrative encompassed pretty much his entire adult life. Only one picture a day, only one lifetime to do it in. That's true of everybody of course, but not as consciously as this.

Can a whole life can really be represented by a single glimpse a day?
Having known Jamie I’d say that if you take even a small sample of the 6600 or so shots, it becomes stunningly accurate portrayal. It’s scary.

You exhibited the work last year in the college where Jamie started the project. Was an exhibition Jamie's ultimate intention?
I think so. He would annually display all the photos to date up until the twelfth year or so when on this basketball court. We’d all help out, it would take four days to lay out and cover the entire court.

Where do you think Jamie fits in terms of the direction that photography has taken since he started the project?
You have to remember that when Jamie started the project it was during the late 70’s and early 80’s in downtown Manhattan. We were all soaking in the Mekas brother’s film making, Warren Sonbert was a frequent dinner guest which you can see in the photos as was Adolfas Mekas. Jamie's upstairs neighbour in the loft was Cindy Sherman, so there was a lot of that autobiographical art making in the air. The work that Jamie was producing in stills and other film makers were creating in music videos and advertising spread that sensibility to a broader public and was a precursor to a lot of what we see on the Internet today. Jamie wasn't keeping any secrets. All of the overlapping relationships were there to see, much like some of the more live your life in public blogs of today, or the original jennycams. I that think that Jamie was sort of ahead of his time and by keeping his work in the public realm people can see that.

Vice v7n2 Record Reviews

And So I Watch You From Afar
And So I Watch You From Afar
Smalltown America

8 Just when the barrage of vacuous Pelicisis clones threatened to take the whole ‘instrumetal’ ship down to the deepest depths of irrevocable mediocrity this weirdly clothed beast turns up and reminds you that once upon a time it was all rather exciting to mix Mogwai, Neurosis and a dollop of not really caring what came out the other end.

Perry Nutkins

Ride On A Brand New Time
Prohibited Records

7 You always have to be a little weary of people who insist on punctuating their names unnecessarily but F.lor and his equally improbably named buddies Don Nino and ‘Mitch’ have consistently produced the kind of joyful, day-glo riot through Can’s back catalogue you’ll find here for a long time so we can forgive them that errant full stop just this once.

Jerry Homely

The Bastard Noise
Rogue Astronaut

10 Six new jams from perhaps the most consistently unrelenting, uncompromising musical odyssey in western music. I don’t think Wood is wired to comprehend the concept of ‘stop’ so on we go unto an apocalyptic near future where the Earth is raped and mankind are imprisoned on dead prison satellites while all the while the sonic spheres grate, scream and convulse with noise enough to decimate whole populaces at will.

Gordon Ranks

Human Hair
Human Hair EP
Sex Is Disgusting

8 Human Hair is the side project of the unhinged but totally lovable hippy guitar player guy from Lovvers. Someone told me that he’d stopped smoking industrial quantities of weed the other day but you’d never have guessed from these four frenetic, unraveling tracks on up and coming Brighton DIY label Sex is Disgusting.

Julio Incognito

Tight Knit
Bella Union

3 Nothing much changes in Andy Cabic’s dusty, husky world of frayed, hushed Americana. Which is a good thing if you are into stuff that’s gentle on the ear and makes for good filler on that mixtape you are putting together to mark the three month anniversary with your photography undergrad girlfriend but am I the only one who’d prefer it if 16 Horsepower were still around to spit some brimstone amidst all the bucolic reverie?

Jam 69

Polly Scattergood
Polly Scattergood

2 When did Mute go from releasing stuff that made you confused and scared to putting out someone who can’t decide if she wants to be Kate Nash or Kate Bush?

Milky Bones

The Invisible
The Invisible

8 Bands should be banned from releasing eponymous debut albums. Unless your band name is almost a Grant Morrison comic title or the music you make is so good that you can pretty much go on to own the name forever.

El Mirador

Punctuated Equilibrium
Southern Lord

9 Can you believe that St Vitus have reformed? It’s got to be between that and Sleep doing Holy Mountain at Minehead for stoner-rock event of the year hands down. Considering his dizzying output it’s almost a surprise that this is Wino’s first solo record but it is and guess what? It’s incredible.

Circle Jams

A Psychedelic Guide To Monsterism Island
Lo Recordings

9 If you have to make one crisis credit crunch CD purchase this month you could do a lot worse than this musical representation of what life is like inside the head of the guy who does the Super Furry Animals sleeves. Luke Vibert, Jonny Trunk, Jerry Dammers and whole heap of other folks contribute so you’ll easily get you pennies worth. Or you could just download it.


Sebastian Grainger
Sebastian Grainger & The Mountains
Saddle Creek

3 This guy was always the one who looked less like he might kick you in the balls and elope with your girlfriend out of the two seven foot lugs that made up DFA1979 so I really wanted to like this. Sadly it sounds like out takes from the first Killers album sung by a narcoleptic Graham Coxon. Oh well.

Million Jam

Made In Mexico
Skin Graft

2 Just when you figured that Skin Graft had finally cemented itself in the ‘extinct’ section of the almanac of forgotten 90’s noise rock once and for all a couple of ex-members of Arab On Radar pop their heads back over the precipice on the back of a song your little brother will know from Guitar Hero 2. Life is just full of surprises.


Action Beat
The Noise Band From Bletchley
Truth Cult

8 Despite possessing by far and away the worst name for a record this month and looking a little like a sectioned, naturist version of the Polyphonic Spree this is one of the closest things to a genuinely exciting British debut in years. Who’d have thought it would come out of Bletchley? I have absolutely no idea where that even is.

Alexis Petri-Dish