Pinkunoizu.

Some of the best new music is coming from the north lately. And when we say the north, we mean the north of the entire world. Not, like, Yorkshire or somewhere. Pinkunoizu are from Copenhagen, Denmark, so they fit neatly into that category, but that’s about the only one.

Their Peep EP, a limited 12″ released through Full Time Hobby, crosses so many musical boundaries you just have to forget the idea of music making sense. Even more impressive is that it does so with only three tracks. Opener ‘Time Is Like A Melody’ ushers you into their expansive sound quite perfectly, and laughs in the face of anyone who might label them unaccessible, all swathed in melody and loopy goodness as it is. Second track ‘Everything Is Broken Or Stolen’ came to life as a long jam, and certain moods will have you wishing it rushed right past the eight minute mark with its addictive, mesmeric groove. Finally, 11-minute epic closer ‘Dairy Queen’ seems initially sparse and wonderfully atmospheric, and then continues to tear at your consciousness with a swirling psychedelic pick’n’mix of what the band call the sound of “global connectedness”. This is experimental music at its peak.

It’s fair to say that the Peep EP has got us more than excited for the album, set to follow next year. Meanwhile, check out the video for ‘Time Is Like A Melody’, below:

From Joe Abbitt.

Sucking Lemons.

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Interview: Simian Ghost.

Swedish chillwave/electro troupe Simian Ghost released their seven-track EP Lovelorn on November 14th, through Hiest or Hit Records. We think they’re great, we wanted a word, and they very kindly gave us a few.

Firstly, can you talk us through your decision to produce this record yourself…

It wasn’t so much of a choice really. Lovelorn is a collection of songs I’ve made myself at home just to keep myself occupied. I can’t really relax if haven’t got some project going. I produce myself out of two reasons; one is that I want total control over what I do. The other is that I just can’t afford studio time. I think that might be the biggest reason. Not living the rock star life just yet.

It seems evident with ‘Lovelorn’ that the environment in which you write your music has a big effect on the overall sound of the album. What was the ideal location when creating this album?

I don’t think there’s an ideal place for making art. Whatever works is my rule of thumb. Our next album is produced in Mathias basement, so it’s a little more classed up production wise. We used three microphones rather than my usual set-up of one. I get what you mean though, and I really like how the environment, in a very tangible way, sometimes manifest itself within the work you’re doing. The kind of softness in “Gently Submissive” for example, comes from the fact that I recorded it at night and didn’t want to wake the neighbors. I was just trying out some melodies and the next morning I looked back at it and really liked the whispering vocals. I think the best art is 50 percent hard work and 50 percent lucky accidents. A great artist is the one who knows how to make good use of those accidents.

There have already been some complimentary comparisons in M83 and Active Child. If you could be compared to any band right now, who would it be?

I don’t know really. I feel a connection to Thom Yorke. He inspired me a lot when I was younger and I too fall very far to the left in terms of political ideas. But I really don’t know who I’d like to be compared to. It’s a great way to discover new music, to read what others compare your work to. Active Child for example, was totally new to me when people started discussing our similarities. I like that. GZA is a strong influence on my songwriting too. I’d love to be compared to the Wu-Tang Clan.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Right now I’m listening a lot to Mount Kimbie, Moderat, Pantha Du Prince, Panda Bear, Caribou, Gold Panda, Luke Abbott and other interesting electronic and semi-electronic acts. I tend to float between listening to a lot of electronic stuff and more traditional guitar based alternative music. That’s where I come from originally. I always listen a lot to Sonic Youth.

Who were your major inspirations when writing ‘Lovelorn’?

These kind of questions are very hard to answer, because I listen to so much music, and you really don’t have much insight into how your subconscious sort and rearrange the ideas you lift from others. I’d say I was very inspired by the ideas of Robert Anton Wilson at the time. And also I had just downloaded the holy Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita in app form to my phone.

Are you planning a visit to the UK any time soon?

We’d love to visit the UK. There are some plans being made right now as to how and when we’ll get there. Hopefully before the end of this year!

Was the decision to sign to Heist or Hit Records a natural, smooth transaction or did it take time to commit?

The people on Heist or Hit are great. They work from a roots kind of perspective and they’re super nice people who really cares about their artists. That’s the kind of people I’d like to work with. And I’m not just saying this, I’ve worked with some real asses in the past.

And finally, when life gives you lemons…..??

I make lemonade. I squeeze those suckers and drink their juice.

From Richard Mutimer.

Sucking Lemons.

H Hawkline.

H Hawkline

A couple of things come to mind when you think about H Hawkline. The first might be that his moniker sounds brilliantly like the name of some 20s blues guitarist who might just have gone and sold his soul to the devil at a crossroad. And the second? Well, you know how cool Bob Dylan looks around about the time of Blonde on Blonde? Huw Evans is pretty much rocking that look.

We’re not here for that stuff though. We’re here for the music, and pretty awesome music it is at that. His newly released album, The Strange Uses of Ox Gall, is full of crazy-inventive psychedelia and seems glossed with an almost childlike will to just see what might happen. Sort of like Syd Barrett his most acid fried. At the same time, Huw Evans is clearly possessed with an ear for simple and affectingly brilliant pop songs, like ‘You Say You Love Me’ or ‘Mind How You Go’. Those Syd comparisons just keep stacking up, then.

From Joe Abbitt.

Sucking Lemons.

King Krule.

King Krule

We featured Archy Russell right back at the start of the year when he was plying his trade under the Zoo Kid moniker, so yeah yeah alright it’s not technically fresh, but he’s so great we thought he deserved a mention for the stuff he’s doing under the new name – King Krule. Everything that was first great about him remains, from the dark sparsity of the music to that brilliant cockney voice pitched somwhere between Jamie T and Joe Strummer. New track ‘The Noose of Jah City’ builds a stark, heady atmosphere, pinned down by lyrics that belie his youth and punch you right in the gut. King Krule’s second release is set to drop on November 8th.

From Joe Abbitt.

Sucking Lemons.

Kathleen Edwards.

Kathleen Edwards has recently been in collaboration with Bon Iver, with her new single ‘ Wapsuk’. Both the title track and the B-side ‘Change The Sheets’ were produced by Bon Iver. He also lent a helping hand in the vocal department deploying some backing vocals on the track too.

Kathleen Edwards ia also doing a healthy stint supporting Bon Iver:

09-07 Minneapolis, MN Orpheum Theatre
09-08 Council Bluffs, IA – Stir Cove at Harrah’s Casino
09-09 Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
09-11 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
09-12 Dallas, TX – Winspear Opera House
09-13 Austin, TX – The Long Center for the Performing Arts
10-19 Manchester, England – O2 Apollo
10-20 Dublin, Ireland – The Canal Theater
10-22 Edinburgh, Scotland – Usher Hall
10-23-24 London, England – HMV Hammersmith Apollo
10-26 Utrecht, Netherlands – MCV
10-27 Brussels, Belgium – AB
10-29 Paris, France – La Grande Halle de La Villette (Pitchfork Music Festival Paris)
10-30 Cologne, Germany – E-Werk
11-01 Berlin, Germany – Columbiahalle
11-03 Oslo, Norway – Sentrum Scene
11-04 Stockholm, Sweden – Globen Annexet
11-05 Copenhagen, Denmark – Falkoner
11-06 Hamburg, Germany – Docks
11-09 Leeds, England – O2 Academy
11-11 Bristol, England – Colston Hall

Listen to the track here:

From Richard

Sucking Lemons

Givers – In Light. 7/10.

Givers - In Light

It’d be less of an understatement and more downright bloody obvious to say that Givers’ first single, ‘Up Up Up’, was absolutely played to death on the radio waves since its release. And adverts. And telly montages. You get the idea. As ace a debut single it might be, ten hours of singing “Yeah, we up up up!” to yourself is enough to drive anyone a little crazy. Basically, that kind of irresistible happiness does get boring, folks. So it’s perhaps a blessing in disguise that it appears on In Light as the opening track – no needless skipping to the only track you know.

Saying that, it’s highly likely that you’ve also heard ‘Meantime’, the just-as-infectious, just as bounce-inducingly bonkers second single. The Louisiana outfit could, quite fairly, be accused of front loading their debut record just a bit here, but for the mental opening rush being taken down a relieved notch on ‘Saw You First‘, which showcases their ever present harmonies to subtler effect.

These subtleties deserve a mention; amid the cacophony of Jamaican-Brazilian drumming and insane tempos hide some really quite impressive electric-guitar flourishes and MGMT-esque synths. They’re the same small touches that made Vampire Weekend’s debut so absorbing too, and In Light feels a lot like Vampire Weekend caked in layers of riotous noise and general nuttiness.

Like the band’s hometown, this record is a melting pot of influences and tried and tested styles. Most work to the utmost of success, like ‘Ceiling of Plankton’, where Animal Collective-isms and a star-gazing naivety tone down the hyperactivity to a more palatable notch. Some, like the stripped back, seven and a half minutes ‘Go Out All Night’ really don’t act as anything more than throwaways. It’s a cracking sentiment, but Givers, unfortunately, haven’t set it to music all that well.

But for the odd missed mark, this is a mostly great debut. Probably the most refreshing and, strangely enough, least obvious thing about it is the fact that it sounds so much like a collection of tracks inspired by a certain lifestyle. At the risk of mawkishness, the band’s appreciation of their home and of the musical diversity it offers lends this album a feeling of authenticity. You might not fancy the over-active drumming, or the twirling, sea-sick tempo changes, but it takes a cold hearted music fan not to appreciate the feel of a record, and so while Givers’ In Light might not exactly be the gift that keeps on giving, it’ll give you enough for a good while at the very least. Particularly in the sun.

From Joe Abbitt.

Sucking Lemons.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – In The Pit Of The Stomach. 8.5/10.

Difficult second album syndrome refers to an instance in which a second, or sophmore, album fails to live up to the standards of the first effort.  Cheers Wikipedia, invaluable as always.  This curse has affected great bands for decades, from The Stone Roses to The Strokes, so isn’t it refreshing when a band follow up a great LP (2009’s These Four Walls) with something even more impressive?  We Were Promised Jetpacks have done just this with their second record In The Pit Of The Stomach.  Recorded in Iceland in Sigur Ros’ studio no less, the album marks a noticeable progression and development in the band’s sound.  Ambitious and intelligently arranged throughout, it’s evident the band have rushed nothing and created a record where even the tiniest element has been lovingly perfected and refined.

Things kick off in a frantic, breathless fashion with the superb Circles And Squares.  Crashing, manic drums and choppy, distorted guitars providing the perfect backdrop for Adam Thompson’s distant vocal and as the first track reaches it’s stunning climax it’s clear we’ve got something quite special on our hands.  First single Medicine follows, complete with massive and infectious chorus; it’s a band at the top of their game, exuding confidence and ambition.  Act On Impulse initially highlights a softer side to the band, before the tranquility is quickly replaced by an inevitable build up of noise.  Lyrically dark and sombre “you were dead when we arrived/you died on impact”, it’s another engaging and intelligent piece of music and illustrates how far this band have come.

The record continues in a similarly impressive fashion.  Sore Thumb although more instrumental and subtle is still forward thinking and dynamic throughout.  Human Error the shortest and perhaps most orthodox track on the album is still superb.  Album closer Pear Tree strips things back, and gives us a tender and gentle couple of minutes before slowly piece by piece building up again to a soaring and spectacular conclusion.

So about that difficult second album… We Were Promised Jetpacks have succeeded where countless others have failed and delivered a second album that has exceeded expectations.  In The Pit Of The Stomach is a bold, clever and adventurous record throughout and is exactly how a band should approach album number two.

From Alex Walker

Sucking Lemons.

Interview: The Rifles

Shortly after the release of their third album, I caught up with lead singer Joel Stoker to see if he’ll ever write an album like my favourite, ‘No Love Lost’ again, and the success of their third record.


The success of your third album must be overwhelming; what is it about your new record that will surely see it peak higher in the charts than the previous two records?

I think it’s much more universal – a lot broader basically. I think a lot more people, once they hear it, will enjoy it. The first album was a lot more, say, niche.

What has the new line up for your band offered you when writing ‘Freedom Run’? Has it offered you anything different?

Live, it’s very solid, but I mean a lot of the songs were written indoors – me and Luke wrote them at home – so it’s pretty much there on a plate when we got to the rehearsal room. It’s just me and Luke who write the songs so it didn’t really affect the writing of the songs – but obviously the way it’s played, we’re really happy with the two new boys because they’re really solid, really good, musicians.

What are you most looking forward to about touring?

It’s nice because you do get a good gage of songs once you play them live; you get a reaction from the crowd – you can tell what songs they enjoy, you get that feedback instantly from the crowd instead of hearing it through websites and magazines.

It seemed evident last year when performing acoustically that it was important to return to the normal set up of electric guitars, what did you make of the fans mixed reaction to the acoustic sets?

We really enjoyed it. That all started from a thing  we do every year at Boogaloo in Highgate, it’s just like a Christmas thing we do, an acoustic thing, and they’re always really good nights, so we thought we’d branch out and do a few more places. Everyone we spoke to seems to enjoy it.

There seems to be a bigger margin in your song writing from your earlier tracks such as ‘She’s Got Standards’ and ‘Hometown Blues’, to the newer stuff such as ‘Tangled Up In Love’. Will The Rifles ever write a record like No Love Lost again?

I’m not sure. I think the next record will be different again. We never set about trying to write this record to make it sound like anything – it’s just the way the songs turned out. I think next time we’ll be influenced by other things and they’ll sound different again.

Always looking forward – Any ideas for the fourth record?

No not really, like I said, when we get the time we’ll sit down again and I’ll suppose whatever place we’re in at that time – that’ll affect what the songs will wound like

And finally, when life gives you lemons?

(Laughs) You make lemonade don’t ya?

From Richard Mutimer

Sucking Lemons

The Drums – Portamento. 3/10.

The release of the self-titled debut by The Drums seems like an awful long time ago already. However, it’s actually only been a year since that release and in that time, they’ve managed to pick up as many critics as they have fans, lose a band member and record their new album Portamento. Considering that bands often take years to release their second album, it comes as a refreshing change that The Drums have enough confidence and ideas to release a new album in such a short period of time.

Or at least, that is, until you play this record. Opening track ‘Book Of Revelation’, is in fact no revelation whatsoever, picking up where they left off and sounding not too dissimilar to fan favourite ‘Book Of Stories’. But herein lies the problem – the sense of familiarity becomes overbearing far too quickly. In fact, the first six songs on this album sound virtually identical, so much so that it becomes painfully clear that this is a rushed release. If you’re already a fan, you may well be enticed once again by their trademark sound and retro basslines, but the lack of growth here is startling.

There are some positives though. Even their harshest critics would find it difficult to criticise the band’s lush harmonies (although it probably says a lot about a record when the backing vocals are one of the only saving graces). When they do decide to try something a bit different, they do actually succeed. ‘Searching For Heaven’ acts as the centrepiece of the album, with a sparse, cold synth that proves that when they bother to, The Drums can live up to the hype.

Sadly, the energy, naivety and sense of fun that defined their debut EP and record are all totally absent here. Nearly every song is indistinguishable from the next, to the point that it sounds like they’re playing the same song over and over again. The fact that that one song is merely okay makes this an even sadder affair.

Closing with ‘How it Ended’, singer Jonathan Pierce repeats the line “I don’t know how it ended, I don’t know where you ran to, I’ll always be right here.” Well it ends as it began, with bitter disappointment. Unless they have a major rethink next time around, The Drums will definitely not be here for much longer.

3/10.

From Craig Jones.

Sucking Lemons.

Live: Zola Jesus. Toynbee Studios, London. 26/9/11. 9/10.

Zola Jesus, the alter ego of Nika Roza Danilova, returns to London to celebrate the release of her highly acclaimed new album Conatus. With the term ‘conatus’ being a reference to personal enhancement, Danilova recently stated: “I really appreciate artists that constantly evolve and challenge themselves.” Whether her audience tonight feel the same way, remains to be seen.

First of all, Breton take to the stage, standing unassumingly before an artistic visual accompaniment.  It’s easy to see why even the band themselves find it difficult to describe what it is they do. Veering off into many different tangents throughout their 30-minute set, Breton create a wall of sound, blending together hip-hop, electronica and spiky, irresistible riffs. There’s no stage presence to talk about here, but it’s a wonderful showcase of undoubtedly great things to come.

After the most bizarre of intervals, with the likes of the Pink Panther theme tune and Soulja Boy being played over and over again, Zola Jesus creeps onto the dimly lit stage, backed by three shadowy figures. Dressed in a white cloak and with her face covered by a shock of bright white hair, she stalks the stage like a woman possessed.

Opening with ‘Avalanche’, propelled by crashing drums and eerie synths, Danilova demonstrates the majesty of her vocal prowess. There’s a real emotional power to her voice – there would be similarities to Florence & The Machine, if Florence realised that she didn’t have to shout all the bloody time.  Musically and lyrically though, the two are polar opposites.  The dark atmosphere that hangs heavy tonight is most evident as Danilova falls to her knees during a spellbinding performance of ‘Collapse.’ The intense melancholy is somewhat unsettling, but it’s a moment of real beauty and emotional honesty.

Although this evening is all about the new album, some old favourites are unleashed. In particular, ‘Night’, which would have been a massive hit if we lived in a just and fair world, reveals itself to be an affecting and grand highlight of the set.

The arrival of Conatus suggested growth, and there’s plenty in abundance with ‘Ixode’, a new song led by an impulsive electronic beat, which sees Danilova chanting to herself, as though she is summoning evil spirits and begging them to dance throughout the night. Lead single ‘Vessel’ then provides the thrilling climax to the evening as she explodes in a fit of fury and joins in with the propulsive, chaotic drumming.  It’s a frightening, captivating conclusion to a stunning and mesmerising performance.

Returning to the stage for a gorgeous encore of ‘Run Me Out’, Danilova’s extraordinary vocal delivery seems almost too powerful, almost inhuman for someone of her fragile and miniscule frame. With nothing left to give, she then stalks off stage to rapturous applause. Into the end of the night.

From Craig Jones

Sucking Lemons.