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Chupa Cabra

ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: Chupa Cabra

A band who describe themselves gloriously as ‘one generation or another’s alienation, derangement and dirty washing’ projected back at you through their ‘nauseating, salivating, hypnotizing, no good sucker-punch-piss-yourself polystyrene agitator-blues’ should never go amiss. We’ve been big fans of the lads from North-Wales for some years now, and can tell you that Chupa Cabra are exactly the description set-out above.

What’s more, ahead of supporting the formidable Cabbage for a few dates, the hotly rising 3-piece will be joining the bill for our final Free Vibes event at Band on The Wall, alongside Leeds’ Elephant Trees, Mancunian acid-punks Springfield Elementary and quirky art-pop, ex-MCR Live residents The Vanity Project.

Sending us out in style, we want you to be there to party with us and celebrate the past two years. Entry for Free Vibes is totally free, but make sure you don’t delay… Our last event sold out the 600 capacity venue! As our closing party – and with one day to go reaching similar figures – we’re almost certain it’ll happen again.

Find out a little more as to what you can expect from Chupa Cabra on the night by listening to their ultimate playlist, below.

chupa cabra

Tayt (Drums)

Good Vibrations – Beach Boys

Everything about this tune gives me goosebumps. One of my all time favourites. I always think to myself how much acid I’d need to take to get me to a level where I could write a song anything like it.

The Model – Kraftwerk

My favourite kraftwerk song, electronic at its finest. I could’ve picked any song from the man machine but this always stood out for me. Probably something to do with rammsteins cover, my favourite band when I was 13.

Since I’ve Been Loving You – Led Zeppelin

No one will ever top John Bonham in my eyes. Big, heavy drums in a tune about heartbreak just gives it a completely different edge. Just a dramatic song that needs to be felt, not heard. One to piss your mum off with.

Bournemouth Runner – The Fall

A man who needs no introduction, deffo my favourite one from a very long list. Everything you could want from a fall tune.

Jazz (We’ve Got) – A Tribe Called Quest

Tribe are the arguably the biggest legends of the East Coast. Seem to just top everything that came out era for me, and

Q-tip is just the coolest guy I’ve ever seen in my life.

Hayden (Vox / Guitar)

I’m Not a Sicko Theres a Plate in My Head- Oblivians

If an alien were to ask me what garage punk was, I’d show them this- provided they don’t probe me first.

Elastic Seal- Duds

A sure-fire combination of deadpan lyricism and delivery set to mechanical-clockwork no wave.

Mr Eliminator- Dick Dale and his Del-Tones

RIP king of the surf guitar! This dude invented shredding. Fuck Yngwie.

If It Takes All Night- Roxy Music

I just want to be Bryan Ferry.

Diversion- Ty Segall

Sabbath worship at the altar of Marc Bolan.

 

Nath (Bass)

I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself  – Elton John

I have a lot of love for Elton, less love for skagging yourself but can appreciate the sentiment.

Nice One Eckhart – Chris Young and the Ever diminishing ego

Who the fuck is Eckhart Twolle? Chris is absolutely great and ‘Nice One Eckhart’ is a phrase for the ages

Poptones – Public Image Limited.

Poptones is the best song ever written turn off your mind relax and float downstream

It’s the End – Mr Ben & the Bens

These are gonna be massive and this is a beautiful song. Nice chap is Mr Ben.

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts – Bob Dylan

One of those great mythic  Dylan songs that do nothing and are epochal in equal measure

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springfield elementary

ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: Springfield Elementary

Merging their favourite sounds from the last 50 years of Punk and Psychedelia, Springfield Elementary have only been going for a year but are already making waves in the North – creating their own fuzz-soaked cocktail that truly speaks for itself. The 4-piece will be joining the bill for our final Free Vibes event at Band on The Wall, alongside Elephant Trees, Chupa Cabra and MCR Live favourites The Vanity project.


But, as a new band it’s likely you’re asking yourself “what can you expect” and “why should I come”? If the Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Sonics had a baby, Springfield Elementary would be the fruit of that labour – if that doesn’t whet the taste buds then we’re truly baffled. Championed by publications including Louder Than War, No Fun Magazine and ourselves the Manchester-based quartet have a real penchant for the pulse of punk’ and we know they’re going to add something different to the bill. 

Entry for Free Vibes are totally free, but make sure you don’t delay! Our last event sold out the 600 capacity venue and as our closing party, we’re sure it’ll happen again.

Find out a little more as to what you can expect from Springfield Elementary on the night by listening to their ultimate playlist, below.

springfield elementary

Dead Kennedys – Too Drunk to Fuck

One of our biggest influences, a lot of their songs are quite hectic yet articulate and it’s something we think we achieve.

Happy Mondays – Olive Oil

The Squirrel and G-Man album is a constant feature on road trips to out of town gigs. Shaun Ryder is my dad.

Bleached – Think of You

There is a tiny section of one of our songs that we subconsciously ripped off from one of Bleached’s songs… we aren’t gonna say which one, but this is a nice nugget of a tune!

Goat – Goatman

Again, one of our favourite bands. We bonded over Goat before we were a band, we are really drawn to raw psychedelic music like this. They’re top live too!

The Rats – The Rats Revenge

We always swap records with each other and this tune is on the Back from The Grave compilation, which is full of old, garage punk tunes from the late ’60s. This specific song stood out to us and soon we started greeting each other by saying ‘the rats!’ (like how they shout it on this song… ) fuck knows why.

Bloc Party – Helicopter

A tune from our childhood… the energy of this tune is so infectious – especially the drumming. Pretty sure it was on Fifa too.

The Doors – Soul Kitchen

Another raw piece of psychedelia!

Wire – Ex-Lion Tamer

We love this band… they remind me of a more fuzzy Gang of Four.

The Growlers – Red Tide

Another band we all bonded over before we made the band! All their albums are great but everything on Are You In Or Out is so sick!

Goat Girl – Crow Cries

We realised that most the songs on this playlist are pretty old so here’s a token new tune from one of our favourite albums from last year.

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lady bird band

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Lady Bird

Lady Bird are one of the most exciting upcoming punk bands in the UK right now; signed to Girl Fight Records, the new label from Slaves duo Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent. Lady Bird have a lot in common with Slaves; both bands are from the apparent-recently vibrant Kent scene and both make the same brand of witty, unapologetic punk-rock. The band are currently in the midst of their debut headline tour – which is impressively very close to completely selling out – and will feature support from Witch Fever, Guru and Arxx (and you should totally nab the last tickets, here).

With the release of new single ‘Love‘, we caught up with Lady Bird‘s guitarist Alex to talk about the guys’ bright future, the most interesting places they crashed on tour and the bands you need to keep your eyes on.

You recently finished your UK tour with Slaves, how was that for you and what was the best night of the tour?

The tour with Slaves was an incredible moment in our lives. To be invited to join them on those shows was a real honour and the people we got to play to was like nothing we’d experienced before. In terms of picking a favourite show, that isn’t easy! Glasgow Barrowland was off the charts. Manchester Academy, of course, was insane. There were many beautiful cities and experiences to choose a favourite!

We saw you playing at the YES basement during Neighbourhood last year – a big step up to now, playing sold-out arenas within only a month. Did the size of the audience knock you guys back at all? Any nerves?

I think the size of the crowds did take us back at the beginning. We stepped out on the first night in Newcastle expecting the room to be half empty and it was rammed! Having that many people be in the same room and be listening to our music is a real force of nature. We took that energy and it helps us push our performances each night, challenge ourselves. But I’m terms of nerves, for me, it’s more just the adrenaline that’s pumping round my body that I haven’t got on stage yet to use up!

We noticed that when you’re touring you often turn to Twitter looking for fans to put you up for the night. Have you got any interesting stories from those experiences?

Whilst on tour, we met some amazing people and made new friends along the way – we can’t thank the people that put us up last minute enough! Everyone was always so kind. We stayed with a lady in Glasgow called Hannah who had a kitten (and kittens are a deal-breaker for sure!). Such a nice thing to come home to after a gig!

You’re currently on your first headline tour, is there one night that you’re looking forward to more than any others? Will you be travelling to any new places?

Yes! We’re incredibly excited to be out doing our own string of dates – it’s been a dream of mine since I was a teenager! I can’t say I’m looking forward to certain dates more than others, but just the whole experience, really! We’re getting to visit some cities we’ve already been to before and it’s a nice return to continue your relationship with the place. (Soup kitchen is gonna go off!!!!)

What can we expect from the tour?

You can expect 3 blokes making some noise while trying to make sense of the world around them. New music, old music, sweat, fun, laughter and everything else in between.

How has it been for you, being recently signed to Slaves’ own record label ‘Girl Fight’? Do you get to work quite closely with the band when writing new songs?

Our songwriting process is very much ours and I don’t think the boys would ever want to step on our toes when it comes to that. But they encourage us in our creative endeavours and push us to create the best that we can. They’ve given us a great platform from which to work from and it’s up to us to continue that endeavour. It’d be fun to write some songs together one day, though!

 

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Boys done good ❤️ @thisisladybird

A post shared by Girl Fight Records (@girlfightrecords) on

Your songs tend to tell an interesting narrative, whats the general method behind writing? Does anyone take the lead? Where do you normally find inspiration?

I don’t think there is a set way a band can write a song – getting stuck in a method can be restrictive so it’s good not to be regimented. We’ve all got ideas and thoughts and Sam has the incredible knack of being able to sum it all up in poetry. The music just comes and you have let that flow so that it’s natural. Inspiration is around us all the time. The only thing we can talk about with certainty is our own lives, and our own experiences, so that’s a great starting point to getting out what we want to say.

What about new music? We know you’ve recently released ‘Love’…

Off the back of the tour with Slaves, we’ve been turning our minds to being back in the studio writing and recording and it’s been fruitful and enjoyable. It’s where it all starts for a band ya know? Writing songs. It’s an innocent stage as it’s the inception of an idea. Not yet touched by the world. Not yet reacted. So it’s definitely an exciting period to be in.

What else is coming up for Lady Bird during 2019?

Well, there will plenty more shows and new music. Plenty more writing and recording. We’re looking forward to going to Europe for the first time as a band, connecting with people on the continent and just continuing to experience life as much as we can while sharing that with the people around us.

What do you guys get up to when you’re not playing/ writing/ recording music? Any other hobbies, or other burgeoning talents amongst yourselves?

I think for all 3 of us, music really is our only hobby. It’s what we love doing so it’s what we do most of the time – being able to do it in Lady Bird all the time is a blessing.

Who else should we be listening to?

You should be listening to Willie J Healey. His 666 Kill EP is amazing. New Gorillaz album The Now Now and the new The Good, The Bad and The Queen album Merrie Land are works of art. Big up Damon Albarn in general. Radio Ethiopia by Patti Smith is on a lot for me at the moment too. Also, check a cracking band from Brighton called Guru and their new single ‘Consumer Helpline.

363

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Empress Of

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

Lorely Rodriguez AKA Empress Of is fiercely fighting-the-good-fight. With lyrics delivered with her LA twang that wraps around millennial vocals – see “don’t be pissy with me” and “I don’t even smoke weed / it gives me anxiety” – Empress Of may have the ingredients for your run-of-the-mill pop songstress but she’s working with a different recipe to the norm.

Of course, releasing an LP infused with an R’n’B basis (her debut album Me) wasn’t a rarity in 2015 but Rodriguez stepped it up a level with the catchy electronica influxes throughout and a tracklist that smacks the stereotype of a dismissive female off its feet. From Kitty Kat to Need MyselfMe is rife with angsty feminine empowerment and, you’re invested in every word. These cries for self-love and fighting back are expanded on with the feat that the album was all, entirely self-produced. In comparison, 2018’s sophomore record, Us, sees her work alongside the likes of Dev Hynes, duo DJDS (Kanye West, Khalid, Kacy Hill), Cole M.G.N. (Ariel Pink, Christine and the Queens). It’s a collaborative piece that offers less of an internal monologue but more of a discussion on about mutual relationships.

It’s clear that the record, and Lorely’s method of creating it, cultivated from her peers and her relationships with them. When we catch her, she’s in Cologne, having played Amsterdam the night before at 12:30 am. Images enter the mind of fluoro-brightened rooms and revelers lip-syncing her high-octane hit track Woman Is A Word – as featured on another female-fronted plotline, the recently aired Killing Eve. She speaks of her relationship with Dev Hynes – who produced Everything To Me, the first track on Us – as “friends first and then collaborators”, with the singer recruiting him particularly because she penned When I’m With Him about their friendship. Yes, yet another stereotypical barrier is broken down, this time in the form of a song about platonic relationships.

Her reign began when ‘Empress’ was brought up on a tarot card that a friend pulled out for. “I related to it so much, the mothering, strong, feminine energy of it. There are so many parts of me. The anxious side, the insecure side but I feel so empowered by my own music and I wanted to show that to people.” What really translates is that she’s by no means calling herself the Messiah though – “I can’t be that person…” Instead, she wants to embody a character that raises others up, be that showcasing her friends’ talents through collaboration or sanctioning positivity into the minds of her audience.

Empress Of isn’t just about empowering women. A feminist through and through, equality is the name of the game, as best transcribed by the recent Perfume Genius cover of the aforementioned Us track When I’m With Him. “I love that he sang the song from his perspective. It’s just beautiful.” Lorely mentions how her version of the track is from the point of view of a heterosexual woman and Perfume Genius takes it and eloquently ties it in, from his own point of view.

As we continue, the talk turns to social media as Lorely reveals that she no longer uses Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth – Facebook. “Everyone’s constantly resharing political stories and views. I’ve seen friends go down spirals about ‘fake news’ and other political garbage.” Being from LA she is of course mostly aware of North American news and media but, we’re not too different over this side of the Atlantic. Globally, Facebook and generally all social media platforms have morphed from ‘hey look at my holiday snaps’ into a full-blown news site with twenty-four hour, twenty-four-seven, updated every microsecond. “I find it important to stay in touch with what’s happening in the world but I don’t want to be clouded by it.” A valid point of view amongst a society where ‘procrastination’ is a regular in our vocabulary.

The next two months sees Lorely take to writing once more, so perhaps You is in the pipeline? Two particular characters that always catch her attention are Mariah Carey and French new wave artist, Lizzy Mercier Descloux. “Before every show, I look at these two photographs and, it makes me feel like, they’re watching over me.” Let’s hope that these two iconic acts only continue to watch over this LA protégé.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

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hotel lux

ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: Hotel Lux

Originally hailing from Portsmouth, five-piece Hotel Lux moved to London to fully enhance their garage/punk rock sound. Sounding like a mix between Cabbage and Shame, Hotel Lux take influence from the world around them, to paint pictures of dark, deteriorated people and landscapes. They also cite the film works of Shane Meadows as a major influence, who’s best know for This Is England, which is one of the reasons why Hotel Lux sound so quintessentially British.

Hotel Lux aren’t your typical punk band in terms of aggression, they don’t throw themselves around and completely lose control. Instead, they vent their frustrations through the brooding, intimidating atmosphere they express at their live shows. Take the song, Berlin Wall for example, a track which uses sinister whistles and funeral-esque keyboard parts to create an atmosphere of the macabre. Front-man Lewis Duffin sounds as morose as the most foreboding of undertakers.

Hotel Lux have just released their latest single, English Disease and it’s another corker. In celebration, we recently asked the band to pick out one track each from a new band they like, and one old /classic tour bus favourite:

 

 

Lewis Duffin (Vocals)

Fountain of Good Fortune – Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

100% one of my favourite bands at the minute. Beautiful, beautiful melodies

Up the Junction – Squeeze

All-time classic. The amount of times we’ve tried ripping this tune off in our recent writing sessions is silly.

Cam Sims (Bass)

Cruelty – Disgraced

This tune scratches every punk itch for me. With only one track out i’m really looking forward to seeing what this lot get up to in the future.

The Impressions – We Must Be In Love

It’s impossible to feel sad when listening to this track. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work.

Sam Coburn (Guitar & Keys)

Idles – I’m Scum

One of the few bands doing it right at the moment. good melodies, excellent lyrics.

Meet Me in the City – Junior Kimbrough

Cigarette stained riffs. GOAT.

Jake Sewell (Guitar)

Nineteen Seventeen – The Good, The Bad & The Queen

The members are all from different musical backgrounds, I think that’s what makes everything they release so interesting. Tony Allen’s drumming is especially good on this.

I’m Gonna Leave You – Nina Simone

There isn’t a dull moment in this track, it’s rapid from start to finish. You can almost hear her gasping for air by the end of each verse.

Craig MacVicar (Drums)

Squid – The Dial

By far my favourite live band at the moment. Looking forward to more releases from these guys.

Gorillaz – 19-2000

I think I first heard this on Fifa 02 back in the day and I’ve still got it on repeat. The Soulchild remix isn’t too bad either.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

95
Ibibio Sound Machine Interview

IN CONVERSATION WITH: Ibibio Sound Machine

WORDS + PHOTO – JAMES WARD

My interview with Ibibio Sound Machine did not start well. Within less than a minute of sitting down with Eno Williams, I’d fumbled the word “Ibibio” and was questioning my worth as a journalist who can’t even say the name of the band he’s interviewing. Having corrected my mistake and Eno having graciously accepted my apology we began the interview proper.

Ibibio Sound Machine are a unique band. They play a blend of West African and electronic music that has found a mainstream audience. This year they are playing Live at Leeds, All Points East and Handmade Festivals (amongst others) where the typical punter is less likely to have had a wide exposure to the modern forms of Highlife they play then if they were playing at a jazz or “world music” focused festival. I started by asking Eno what artists people who discover Ibibio’s music at a festival should investigate to get to know their sound a little better…

“Well there are people like Oumou Sangare, Fatoumata Diawara, Angelique Kidjo, there are so many of these African artists who are in the style of music that we do. What we’re trying to do is bring that with a mixture of funk and electronic stuff as well.”

Today, Ibibio Sound Machine are part of a larger movement of West African music present within the UK but this wasn’t the case when they started out. Around the release of their second album, Eno spoke of how Ibibio’s appearance on Jools Holland had felt like a moment of acceptance from the UK music establishment. As the band looks to find their way out of the 6 Music bubble, one wonders what factors contributed to this mainstream acceptance.

“I think to be honest that it’s to do with the sound, the vibe, the electronic, the high-life. The fact that the music itself is quite positive, quite high energy, high octane and there’s a vibrancy to it. It feels like in the times that we live in that sometimes there’s a bleakness or a shadow over people and people just want something to lift them up to take them to a different space and just escape from the norm and the everyday bleakness. I think that’s why I guess that it’s being accepted, it’s kind of a different sound and people like something different… and people like to dance! That’s what we’ve realized, the set is like a work out session so I’m really sorry if I get people dancing too much and sweating.”

We turn our attention to the new album at which point Eno jumps in enthusiastically.

“22nd of March, one week today, the album comes out. There’s a lot of influences in that we kind of joined influences from our highlife and electronic genres. We’ve been trying to make it very much a live album as well. We’ve been playing quite a lot of gigs in the last few years and found that it felt very organic to get all of us in the room and create something that was reminiscent of that.

IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE INTERVIEW

The title is called ‘Doko Mien’ which means “Tell Me”, which has two sides to it: one side asking the universe “tell me/direct me what to do” and then there’s the flipside – the commentary on women often being told what to do. So, it’s about speaking up and having a voice and being able to express your opinions. For example, in the creative process of writing that particular song we got into a bit of an argument. I was trying to do one thing and Max the producer going “oh well I think we should do it this way!” and I’m like “yeah yeah yeah, I know your way is the right way so just tell me what to do and I’ll do it… but you need to hear my voice!’”

Ibibio Sound Machine albums are themed, the first (self-titled) was an opportunity for Eno to share old Ibibio stories in a musical setting. The second Uyai or “Beauty” has a much stronger focus on female empowerment which the new album continues.

“Doko Mien continues that empowering ideal with more of a live connection, and more focus on the ebb and flow of life more generally, whilst still touching on culture, storytelling and the things that make our sound “good”. We’ve tried to include English lyrics this time to include the listener, to get them into the backdrop of what I’m singing about.

Most of the lyrics and the melodies come with the Ibibio language, as it is quite lyrical and quite rhythmic, so that comes first and then we do the translation. The English and Ibibio languages as sort of two poles apart; a word in English translated to Ibibio could be three or four phrases. Trying to make that move and that shift in English can be really tricky but we just try to keep the rhythms and the melodies flowing in tandem”

IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE INTERVIEW

In May 2017 Ibibio Sound Machine played in Morocco, their first gig on the African continent. For a band whose identity is so steeped in Nigerian culture and West African music more broadly, it seems strange that they haven’t had the opportunity to play there more often.

“We’ve had a couple of invitations, but they clashed with other tours so sadly we haven’t made it yet. [We would want to] be in Nigeria of course, because that’s the Heritage of the band-name. Then maybe Ghana, maybe South Africa. We’re looking at exploring Africa in the future…

As there’s 8 of us in the band, it’s the logistics – touring around England and Europe is already a challenge! These are places where everything is already in place, but somewhere like Nigeria… it’s just the logistics of making it happen. In the near future, we really want to make it happen. I just keep thinking ‘it will happen but it has to be the right time.’”

Doko Mien is out on the 22nd of March and you can catch Ibibio Sound Machine at festivals across the UK this summer. If you want to explore their sound a little more, see the playlist below to introduce you to more West African music.

59

Disko Never Dies – Remembering The Fall

WORDS BY FERGAL KINNEY      POSTER BY ERIN CAINE

When Mark E Smith died in January 2018, nights playing only The Fall seemed to spring up everywhere – well, London and Hebden Bridge – but surprisingly, not Manchester. Deciding this was not on, myself and Daniel Cooke, of Let’s Make This Precious, got in touch with the Star & Garter with a view of putting on a one-off Fall club night; strictly all The Fall, all night. Onlookers praised the talents of Smith and saluted his memory, late into the night.

The evening went off without a hitch so, it felt only right to do it once more, this time on Saturday 23rd March 2019 – one year on from the previous display of memorial affection for the Fall singer. Entry is £5 per person, with the night running from 11 pm ’til 3 am. Want to know more? You can RSVP to the event right HERE.

There’s room for this to become an annual celebration. Taking a look back at his career here are some tracks that we’ll be playing on the night that speak to a unique artist that remains peerless from his generation.

Rock n Roll isn’t even music really. It’s a mistreating of instruments to get feelings over

The Fall would have happened regardless of punk – the young Mark E Smith was already chaining Captain Beefheart, The Velvet Underground, CAN etc – but the ’76 moment provided an open door for Smith to sneak through and an infrastructure on which to launch. 

Industrial Estate is probably the only point in the Fall’s history where they sound aligned with what’s going on around them. This track was recently used at the end of Ben Wheatley’s film of the Ballard book High Rise, and was perhaps the only good thing about that film. There’s a bit of a parallel with Smith and Ballard; both lived in suburbia, writing about the weird from a non-metropolitan vantage point, and were sneered at for this.

The fact that weird fiction/horror writers like HPLovecraft, Arthur Machen and MR James are widely read now is thanks in no small part to Smith championing their work at a time when those names (especially Machen) had fallen well out of favour. Pulp horror would be a huge influence on Smith’s writing (Mark Fisher wrote brilliantly on this in his essay Memorex for the Krakens), and The Fall track, Wings, is the most successful, most thrilling embodiment of that. The song’s protagonist appears to be shot during the US Civil War, which is the trigger for him hitting a cosmic timelock darts him back to 1825 and then forward to the present, via gremlins and flabby time-traveling wings. Billy Bragg this ain’t.

The fact that The Fall burned through some sixty-six members is well-documented but is also a bit of a red herring if you’re looking for clues about the man. He was a great artist, he just looked nothing at all like our expectations of great artists. 6ft with a stoop and wearing your grandad’s slacks, he dressed like a man twenty years older than his age and cultivated an image more akin to a world-weary mafia boss than an avant-garde musician. But he was an avant-garde musician, which does mean that a lot of The Fall isn’t really aimed at the dancefloor. When it is, however, the results are thrilling. Hear the birth of LCD Soundsystem on Telephone ThingJames Murphy would even directly lift the track’s “I’m tapped” hook for the 2005 single Movement.

As Let’s Make This Precious‘ co-DJ Daniel Cooke likes to remind me, The Fall were nothing if not a great cover’s band. Victoria, There’s a Ghost in My House, White Lightening – some of the group’s definitive cuts were covers. Lost In Music is my personal favourite. Released in 1992, you can hear the influence of this track’s louche WMC disco all over Pulp’s His’n’Hers, which would come out two years later. Sensibly, Mark E Smith sat out the Britpop thing. Insensibly, he used it as an opportunity to go bankrupt.

There was a view peddled in obituaries last year that Mark E Smith declined as an artist, that the booze got to him; this is a wrong view. Imperial Wax Solvent, The Unutterable, Your Future Our Clutter – just three utterly indispensable post-millennium Fall albums, and there’s plenty more where that came from. Just listen to Dedication Not Medication, the electroclash banger from The Fall’s penultimate LP. You know that awkward moment when you go to the doctors over your chronic bedwetting, but the GP is Piers Brosnan and he’s prescribing you Curly Wurly bars? More than anything, Mark E Smith was overlooked as a surrealistic, a Manchester Magritte. And, just so you know, that bassline is about to demolish your flat.

Like this? Read up on all of our blog posts HERE 👀

94

ULTIMATE PLAYLIST: The Vanity Project

Flora Jackson and Rob Paterson are the duo that makeup one of Manchester’s most-promising, and incredibly unique bands, The Vanity Project. With an emphasis on performance, the duo sit somewhere between pop clowns and cabaret cult leaders – if you can imagine such a thing. Using infectious pop hooks and drawing you in with tales of hallucinogenic soft drinks and fascistic seaside towns, we can’t wait for the two-piece to join us at Band on The Wall for our latest Free Vibes takeovers.

But what can you expect? The Vanity Project have not only been championed by the one and only Marc Riley on his 6Music show, but Everything Everything frontman Johnathan is also a big fan, citing that ”they put on a great show’. And of their set? It promises to be a live performance full of monologues, costumes and the occasional dance routine. If they’re good enough for Johnathan & Marc, we cannot wait to see what they’ll bring to the night.

Joining them on the bill, the two-piece will be wonky-psychedelic Springfield Elementary, Garage-punksters Chupa Cabra and the mysterious weird-funk of guano on Thursday 25th April at Band On The Wall. Our last Free Vibes SOLD OUT the 600 capacity venue, so make sure you RSVP now!

Before then, and to give you more of an idea of what you can expect from The Vanity Project, we asked Rob & Flora to pick out 10 tracks which best describe them… see you there!

I NI SOGOMA – Dinosaur Feathers

Dinosaur Feathers are a New York band we discovered a year or so back, and the way they balance strange off-kilter rhythms with catchy melodies is something that we’ve often tried to emulate, to variable success.

HAPSBURG LIPPP – Everything Everything

EvEv are definitely who we started off as, and it’s still difficult for us to shake the desire to break into a Jonathan Higgs falsetto at any given opportunity. He name-dropped us once in an interview with a Cumbrian local newspaper. True story.

THAT’S REALLY SUPER SUPERGIRL – XTC

If we started off as an EvEv tribute band we’re metamorphosing into an XTC one. Rob and I fell in love with Skylarking a couple of years ago and both that record and English Settlement have massively influences our writing styles.

BABOO – Pixx

Pixx‘s record The Age of Anxiety was one of the most underrated releases of the past couple of years, and the willingness to experiment with weird sonic pallets while still always remaining pop is something we try to replicate.

Radio Silence – Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby‘s been a musical touchstone for both of us for ages, and although in general, he’s a lot synth-ier than us, this track, in particular, fits our vibe pretty well.

Oily water – Blur

Blur‘s a weird band to cite as an influence because it could really mean anything. Are you a straight Britpop band? A Kinks-a-like? Heroin addicts? Do you just know Song 2? We went for this angular oddball cut from Modern Life Is Rubbish.

The City – Dismemberment Plan

The Dismemberment Plan changed a lot of my perception of chords; they love 7ths and open strings and taking one shape and moving it up and down the fretboard for eerie effects. One of our songs was even just called “D-Plan” until we eventually found a name for it.

NO PLACE – Ezra Furman

Transangelic Exodus was Rob‘s favourite album last year (my favourite, Daphne and Celeste Save the World, is maybe not appropriate for this playlist). This track has a brilliant atmosphere to it, but the real reason we picked it is we’ve just launched our night called No Place, so think of this as its unofficial theme song (tho, cough cough, we came up with the name way before, ahem ahem)

THINGS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HELPFUL TO KNOW BEFORE THE REVOLUTION –  Father John Misty

We’re both big FJM fans and though musically we walk different paths, the defeatist humour he uses in his lyrics is a strong influence on ours (though I like to think we’re at least slightly more optimistic…)

HEY LIFE- TUNE-YARDS

Finishing off the playlist comes Tune-Yards, who along with Owen Pallett taught us that you can do things with a loop pedal that isn’t just, well, loop pedal music. And by melding frantic but catchy melodies with weird rhythms, we’re right back where we started…

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The Flame That Keeps Burning: Keith Flint

WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY

The Prodigy were cool in a different way than other bands that found mainstream success during their reign as unique figureheads of the alternatives and dissenters – as well as being a crucial part of the soundtrack to the last pre-internet-generation of music fans. They’d established a dedicated following well before that though – via desire to listen to them, dance and nothing else. Being part of a movement back then happened without online chat-rooms, or, any other form of internet based-promotion. People came, heard and told everyone else what they were missing. This often took place in old, industrial areas at illegal raves, or at within the networks of parties, that people had. Spaces simply had to be found, because the thought of not getting together to celebrate what being alive is really about – shaking off the drudge of the working week and the stifling constrictions of nine to five just wasn’t feasible.

The big sound, packed full of fuck offs and meaty beats, injected the power of being alive into you. The party well and truly started as soon as people heard those unmistakable sounds of The Prodigy. Mayhem and love met. They brought people together, as the experience was always better shared. Many wild nights were made more-wild by watching your mates take it all in – it was as if you needed to observe someone else, at times, just to make sense of the sheer power and force occurring. They watched you too. It was reciprocal; the magic of it kept the wonderful self-fulfilling loop of it going. A rocket-fuelled ceremony on repeat.


Even when they hit big, and were at their commercial peak, The Prodigy still maintained a status as separate. They celebrated many punk attitudes both in their sound and image: raw energy, individuality and sheer love of the music, amongst other attributes that never fail to mobilise new listeners within a generation. So much more than that though, they reached people of varying tastes, penetrating clicks and usually closed off clubs. If you were Oasis or Blur didn’t matter. The Prodigy offered something else entirely and were too likeable to not enjoy. They were immersive and immediate. Everyone knew. Contemporaries watched and learnt, even if they didn’t give the praise The Prodigy deserved. It didn’t matter to them. The sound and the fans did – making as much of an impact as possible, whenever and wherever they could.

Their enigmatic front man, who originally joined as a dancer, epitomised what music can offer, exploiting perfectly via the electronic sermons, that he was the divine instigator of, harmony, happiness and collective expression. Keith Flint achieved the rare accolade of being the coolest person in music without any accusations of selling out. The man simply wasn’t capable of that. Yes, he changed, but only in so much as the party got bigger and better, and he adapted for that. He dressed for the occasion, but not for marketing purposes or to sell an image.

He was genuine, and that’s what people wanted to emulate more than anything. He was adored, but not with sycophantic adulation. His achievement was the total respect of those who knew how dull and flat life can get without someone to get things blazing. Keith wore the uniform of self, proudly, and taught others that they could too, and should. He wasn’t interested in being shocking or making statements. He was too intelligent for that, and simply not interested. He just liked to dress that way, so he did. Of course, there was some theatricality in his peerless performances, but that was the music flowing into him and pouring back out. He caught the energy of the crowd – a filter for the moment. It was clear he loved making people happy by doing what he loved.

One way to measure bands, a method that separates forgettable from legendary, is how they hold up in a live performance. The Prodigy were made for performing, and if they were there, so were their army of followers – many from the early days – Keith was well known as “that dancer”, at the parties that stemmed from the early nineties’ own Summer of Love. First up and last off the floor, no doubt. Some of the future crowd probably spent time alongside him, although none could compete. He was the public talisman of the group, the face that let everyone knew they were creating something. Bonding. Mattering. It was the Holy Grail for many, to go and see The Prodigy live.

The inclusion of their track, Mindfields, from The Prodigy’s seminal 1997 album, Fat of The Land (it was a landmark record that stands up today and paved the way for so much) on the soundtrack to The Matrix (1999) is entirely unsurprising. It shows how culturally relative they were, somehow tuned in to what people needed, not just wanted. If anything is going to jolt you out of a fugue-state it’s Keith’s sneering vocal, to the backdrop of an impossibly clever array of noises that collectively, could cure zombification in an instant, by the sheer musical excitement.

His delivery incites a sort of static-shock, absent from mainstream music today. If you’re ever unsure of what’s real and what’s not, then listen to that and watch the hairs on your arms start tingling and dancing. It’s honestly just not an option to stay still when you play their music and hear Keith make the announcement “This is Dangerous”. Indeed, in the best possible way. You can’t ignore it, even if it’s not for you. The stuff it’s made of won’t let you. Those crashing battering rams of drumming, the sublime, synthesised sonics of reverb and bent notes.

Following news of Keith’s death, even with him gone from mortal form, his light will continue to make many sparkle and fizz with heat and never want to be extinguished, for even a second. An absolute icon and cultural phenomenon. He’ll be much missed. Though his death may cause many, for a while, to feel that a flame within them has been extinguished – for older fans perhaps seemingly snuffing out that eternal burning combustion that is youthful reminiscence, the inevitable tears won’t stop him starting fires for long. They mustn’t and can’t. There are too many parties yet to first discover him and the petrol of his song. Once they do, like so many before, they’ll burst to life, ignite and make the night go boom.

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