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Albert Hammond Jr

Albert Hammond Jr. follows up his last album with a fast new single.

TRACK RELEASE: Albert Hammond Jr. – ‘Fast Times’

WORDS BY JAY PLENT    PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

In the wake of his previous album FRANCIS TROUBLE, Albert Hammond Jr. has followed up with a new cut, FAST TIMES. Accompanied by a light-hearted wilderness-based video, it seems that there’s little intention by the artist to take the track too seriously, encouraging us to do the same. 

The immediacy of the start is great. You could easily drop FAST TIMES into any road trip playlist and find it fitting snugly, and given the amount of car coverage in the lyric video, that’s probably a very conscious decision on Albert Hammond Jr.’s part. Though largely unassuming, the song has a peppy upbeat mood to it, a cheery, throwaway bit of indie pop that’s jumpable, but not life-changing. As is par for the course with his work, there are very heavy Strokes vibe ongoing; the rough and ready feel could’ve been ripped straight out of Comedown Machine, as could the to-and-fro guitar and bass interplay.

Albert Hammond Jr.’s usual jerky guitar work is on point, and the high octane crunchy lead guitar feels like a voice all of its own. Some subtle backing vocals add a little depth, as do some clicks of percussion the odd electronic sample. However, as on the nose, as his lyrics are usually, this is a bit of a bludgeoning. Lines like “school’s out, found a ride, saw some friends, we got high, Friday night”, maybe deliberately simplistic, but come across as lazy, un-inventive and frankly boring.

Albert Hammond Jr. sounds like every kid in school who does nothing but talk about how much weed they did at the weekend, with little but borrowed personality from more interesting people to get by on. The conclusion, with its sliding, highly revered guitar solo is by far the most interesting inclusion; it polishes off the track nicely. Still refusing to embrace much beyond the conventional band layout, Albert Hammond Jr. continues to pump out pleasant but unmemorable tunes. People craving experimentation or boundary-pushing will find no such excitement in FAST TIMES.

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Yassassin

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER        PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

London’s own, having arrived from different points of the globe, Yassassin are a force to be reckoned with in their own right. The women of the moment with a stand-out name that catches the attention of any avid listener, the five-piece present a strong image but don’t want to be slotted into the typical “girl-band” slot.

We last caught the group at The White Hotel as part of Interior Presents‘ All-Dayer with outfits that conjur up that Vivienne Westwood/punk-era and an electric, raw sound – they’re image does all but leave your mind. So of naturally we jumped at the chance for a chat about where they’re headed. This year Yassassin were requested to tour with The Strokes legend Albert Hammond Jr, across his selection of UK shows which climaxed in a reputable Paris performance – quite the opportunity for a band that “grew up listening to The Strokes“.

Lucky enough to have been in the same circles in London, the group – which consists of Anna, Joanna, Moa, Nathalia and Stephanie – met in 2016 and with a couple of lineup changes along the way have become the fully-formed Yassassin. Their name obviously follows suit after the classic David Bowie song but are they nostalgic mega-fans of the Starman or is there another reason for the name choice? “Well it (the day of the name choice) happened to be the day that Bowie died and Yassassin means ‘Long Live’ so it worked” mention the group with a clear admiration for such an iconic transcendent musician.

Each step they take together is a completely natural, organic process that combines each member of the band, from drums to bass. As is with their brooding new track ‘Wreckless’: “Moa wrote the verse and I wrote the chorus, we lived together so we put them together and took it to the band” says Anna whilst Stephanie mentions that they generally demo tracks by themselves then bring them to practice and “slot each part into place”.

Recently, the group were involved in a project with the teams at Flying Vinyl and Girls Against to produce a compilation record of female artists, featuring the likes of Courtney Barnett, Dream Wife and Hinds. For starters, Yassassin highlight that of course – there shouldn’t be a need for these groups that raise awareness of sexual harassment/assault at gigs and within the music community. “Any message like that, we’re always onboard with. We’re fortunate enough that in what we do, it gets a message across in a creative way.” A strong sense of sexuality and equality are gladly a main theme for works by Yassassin.

“Our sound is constantly progressing, it’s constantly changing” mentions Mao of their inherent lifeline that they aspire to be ‘ungenre-able’. “We’re always experimenting with new things so it’s different, we don’t want to be tied down to an specific genre. But like any act there are stereotypes and genres thrust upon the group by way of they-sound-like tit-bits inputted by their fans: “people say we’re alternative, post-punk, riot grrl, girl band – all these labels.” As a band, their ideology and ethos is that Yassassin are Yassassin – no labels.

When asked to support Albert Hammond Jr, Yassassin were already set to head out on their own tour under their own moniker but due to financial reasons, the band couldn’t do both. But never fear, we’re assured that the dream team aren’t disappearing any time soon and have upcoming dates at Sŵn Festival, Dials FestivalSimple Things Festival and a slot at 2019’s Rockaway Beach Festival.

The group touch on their aspirations, to be able to financially sustain themselves in the creative industry. “It’s impossible in London, everybody’s got to work and it’s draining when you want to say, write some music” – as we’re speaking the group start to laugh as Natahlia points out that in the background, in the midst of his Manchester Academy sound-check, Albert Hammond Jr is trialling his hit record ‘It’s Hard To Live In The City’ – how fitting. With their strength and unity behind them it’s achievable for them to get where they want to be and we back them every step of the way.

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