Conversation Barbers

Read too many articles about the Middle East. Don’t talk about it. Sleep is organised by capitalism. So are pills, all pills. I know Umiaq addresses this song to some /you/ but the truth is he has unwittingly grabbed his fingers a MOMENT far greater than any personal pronoun or simple sentences collected neatly in the accusative case. To say. Something like the silent following: Goodbye Europe, Goodbye schooldays, Goodbye Heaven, I don’t need you now I know exactly how I want my haircut for the rest of my life. And still I watch the BBC news article scroll away into some grey archive of fear. And still I shudder in the wake of some stencilled 7 hour sleep. And still I imagine the gulping and the nurse, the comedy of a son drowning in University shallows, fresh meat and strobe lights. And so I sit, a sombre black heap, hopelessly watching my black tufts of hair cascade to the varnished floor around me. Cut to exactly 1 inch. Europe, schooldays, metaphysics; framed pictures hovering above my head in the mirror. All I can muster is a sense of unreadiness and loss, Umiaq crafts that sense into sound, a picture of miscellaneous, tidy haircuts on beach heaven, somewhere else, some 30 hours later, when I return to the inbox, a tinge of crass, past empathy.

Dark, again, dramatic, gravity, dubbed screenings of pop for the weary deep divers; Umiaq and his soon-to-be EP, Far From Home, of which the above is a teaser.


A dark landscape for Apache Jackson

Here’s some transition post, sealed with something heavy in my fingertips, at least, always listening, I know what it is now.

A dose of rugged determination.

Dead-centered units, a heartily crowded scowl.

The scruff of the neck, the dream sweats. As an individual, I am invigorated by this figure of dark pop. Apache Jackson‘s new album called Auto Recall, another appearing blurt on the internet, teased with a track named below, squeezed in between some faded amber lights, emerging in this inky downtown of your long bright facey day. And now, old shard of plate, playing, you’ll find Apache knocking big bad black shades where there was once a drawling nothingness white.

This is mind liquid, murky, synthetic lounge; rugged determination for your walking-ons, your getting-outs, your going-overs. This one’s for someone’s nightlit photography, for multi-headed demons and their unfortunately-moonlit prey, the jazzy images painted with opposites; the sea at the side of the city, where dark congregates in the wonderful worries of streetwise youth, whilst the waves crash, strangely, onwards.

Expressive Lyrics

The best songs, the best lyrics are becoming hard to catch, I can’t quite make out what exactly the singer is singing. Singing’s version of mumbling. This movement is moving. It’s moving for every listener. As, for every song I savour as antidote to restless, emotional, transitionary, searching states of mind, I take good notice of the lyrics if there are any, I listen out for them and I listen to them in the context of whatever music they move around in. And I’m excited by the number of newish songs I’ve been hearing in the last four years where the lyrics are intentionally difficult to decypher. All I, the listener, figure out is a vague geography of human sound, looking for lines to sing along to, to know off by heart, instead I recollect only a maze of translucent human noise in its certain tune.

Take heartache as subject matter for an instance; instead of brandishing clear cut one-liners against ears, the expressivist lyrics will meander something sounding like heartache and its original words; the scrawled beginnings become a mosaic of roughly different blue sounding words, howls, hands, groaning, soft, hard, harmony, strong, brittle; the sounds of what it feels like to love and miss something aching in the heart.

Here I am spelling out my logic and movements in no uncertain terms. I conclude that music should sometimes be the opposite of this; it should be a misty juxtaposition to the well-meaning silent reading of written ideas.

So, two songs that have really really struck me along the aforementioned lines (both deserving of an individual post and some retrospective hype and recognition at another post):

Happiest Lion – Ely has the Quarry Blues

Annie Eve – Shuffle (Feversome EP)

Latitude 2014

For those of you who were tuned into the blog when we ran our preview pieces and who have read our thoughts on the festival over the years you will know just how much we love it. How that year after it has become a ritual. A ritual made up of wooded raves, forested rambling, canopied dancing, open air dancing, lakeside sprawls, teenage crowd surfing, Poetry laced naps and a general feeling of wonderment and contentedness. In the more recent years I must admit we have found ourselves not so much crowd surfing to CSS and New Young Pony Club and nipping across the site for improvised interviews or tweeting pictures of 3D glasses. This year we


Even though our tastes change Latitude is always there catering to the highest quality. In 2007 all 8 of us went straight to the main stage as soon as it opened on Sunday to wait for Arcade Fire’s headline slot. That day I saw for the first time bands that would go on to be some of my favourite acts around today  including The National, Au Revoir Simone, Cold War Kids, The Rapture and Andrew Bird. Even if any festival could book a run of acts as fantastic as that I don’t think I could enjoy it more than I did aged 17. Latitude has always been the festival where I experienced and got to know my music as a teenager and you can never get that sensation back (although you can get pretty close).

It was a funny thing to look at the thousands of kids packed out to see Haim this year and going absolutely berserk for every song whether they knew the words or not. The buzz of seeing great new music in an immediate crowd of friends who in turn are surrounded by many thousands of like minded individuals is huge and should be a seminal part of every teenagers life. It was an odd moment of perspective noticing that we have these annual music institutions where kids can do exactly that whether those bands are The Rapture, CSS and The Hold Steady or Haim, Crystal Fighters and Catfish And The Bottlemen.

The year that Hold Steady played we had all been packed into the Obelisk Stage crowd for hours having the time of our teenage lives. The security guys were handing out water to everyone at the front which was filtering back providing momentary hydration or ammunition to throw at the girl you fancy. The band each had a bottle of beer by their side and every time Craig Finn took a swig it was almost torture to watch, especially when all you could hope for that weekend would be a smuggled Lucozade bottle of underage whisky or something equally gross when you got back toy our tent. This year I accidentally bought some prosecco with a raspberry in it before putting my head inside a tree to enjoy a small piece of installation art. In the process I realised that I had indeed grown older and my tastes had changed. But this was no issue for Latitude and its arsenal of the extraordinary and the unexpected of entertainment I would’t have thought twice about in my formative years.

But the festival really has not changed despite almost being 10 years old. Granted it has grown and is now at a very stately 35,000 capacity with each stage/tent sprawling accordingly. But rather than pile us all into 1 bigger pot Latitude caters for an increasingly diverse crowd with more focus going in to the late night parties, heritage acts and the genuinely stunning Thursday/Friday night performances carried out on the lake surface. Everything from the post exam youngsters to mid 20s hipsters to families of 6 to elderly couples come to Latitude and have an extraordinary time. Indeed they could easily spend the entire weekend at Henham Park unaware that there are entire other demographics a stones throw also having the time of their life but rather than creased up to WitTank in the Cabaret Tent they are in fact being stunned by the extraordinary Nils Frahm playing in the woods or just maybe they are watching Damien Albarn being joined on stage by Graham Coxon under a sky filled with thunder and lightning.

I’ve done a few festivals now and, sentimental and biased though I am, I don’t think there is another one out there that books acts and artists of such a high calibre across such an incredibly diverse range of the arts and I hope that doesn’t change


Our highlights of this year (in no particular order):

The Meridian Brothers




Rag N Bone Man

The Acid

Agnes Obel

Booker T Jones

A short film about a boy and a girl who share a flat in Glasgow

Tom Vek

Wit Tank

Nils Frahm

James (1000 times James)

Parquet Courts

The War On Drugs


Tame Impala


Huge thank you to the festival and to all at Midas PR for being so wonderful as ever.


The opening words to an interview with Hella Better Dancer in Summer of 2013

You’re getting close to something golden good that doesn’t diminish through time. The Bob Dylan the parents like, the vinyls etched in atemporal vibration, you need no fresh up-to-dateness when everything’s about the good rather than the new.

So here’s an interview I did 1 year ago to this month with one of this blog’s favourite bands, and one of the few indie artists whom we’ve followed consistently with an insatiable interest, Hella Better Dancer (above).


Sitting down…

what’s happened in the last year for you guys?

we’re a lot less nervous
I used to almost feel physically sick
Lot more comfortable, a lot more confident
with writing as well

our sound’s changed, though it’s hard to know how
we’re more punchy, more direct, a lot better at communicating things in our brain through music, articulating things

more pedals, more effects, more controlled

totally. + we’ve set up our set to make it as anxiety free as possible
it’s a different world to writing
when you’re writing and it’s good, you’re like “THIS IS SICK”
but when you’re playing live, it’s like “Ah, no”

Farao asked me ‘when do you know when the lyrics are finished?’

the lyrics are finished when I’m not embarrassed to sing them
when you’re working with other people, you have to say them to people, almost without the music, have to be prepared not to be shy

it’s a different world performing, you kinda change in a good way

… And so, you’re being lead down a stready sporadic excitable stream of agreement with band Hella Better Dancer, I talk to them after their performance at Leefest 2013, 1 year after I first saw them for the first time, with my brother for his first time as well, at the very same festival. These guys speak like a river, this time I’m the guy on the river bank, counting my peace, chilling but also trying to get a hold on similar aged heads with my microphone and my own nerves. The drummer Josh turned up half way through the above stream seamlessly, interjecting with ‘totally’ and his own version of the conclusion we’re all steadily arriving  at before a pause and they ask themselves what else they’ve done in the last year. I’m really engaged and my ears are tuned; this band are instantly golden on stage, and I’m over-excited to find they’re similar off stage as well.


to be continued…


Succeeding Oblivion

Introducing the two-part transitive listening experience of songs by Aimee deBeer (above).

Her singing voice would be the sound that would meet you if you were to unlock an old forgotten box you’d randomly found buried in the back garden of the Highlands; the box would open and the concentrated heartache of ghosts would clamber high / elegantly / far off into the sky / filling in the clouded gaps / leaping the grey rumble / towards somewhere else / unseen and unreal /not without leaving you with a something of the here and of the now / the seen and real / aftermath /the pleasant light sting of salt-water all-over.


The curtains billowing open for a second and the sun shining through. This voice is covering me, I’m restless in bed. The head billows open for a few seconds and the bed opens up. This bass guitar is holding me, I’m restless I said. The train door billows open for three seconds and the eyes slam shut.

Persephone and the Devil

The two songs would help me slumber drift down a half-conscious river wherever I be; the window, the bed, the train. And the sound of the riverflow is bruised and slowed with countless kneecap-shaped rocks, drums, not at all out of control, despite the current of strings that lightly splashes over.

At the end of river, one is flumed into a sea of unforgettably faced wash… Yet nothing to show of the descent other than the soft-pounding mark of purple on my knee, and “It’s okay not to be real” [Oblivion], a voice ghostly aching of the buried box in the heart. It’s a quiet, filled with neutrality and all the sad energy that neutrality might have implied before, back through cracks in the curtains and blank open beds, back in the old days of rivers and riverflows.

Intentional juxtaposition between pictures

And so, it’s this song, especially Oblivion that was my first listen, but not without its seamless follow-up, Persephone and the Devil, that, that has taught me how, in reflecting upon music and songs, one should sometimes focus less on the song itself, and rather on the silence that immediately succeeds the song’s ending [And, surely that would work neatly for a listener who listens best in half-daze]. Because, to murmur moreover, the silence succeeding both these two songs of an upcoming EP, Strange Fiction, from Aimee deBeer is one filled with something substantial, really okay, solemn, relaxed, dim-truth-realised feelings, no longer restless, charged with nothing more neurotic than neutral, an uplifting uniqueness of sound that keeps your feet on the ground and your head in the right position. I feel distilled. I feel the lightly pleasant sting of salt-water all over.

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