Groundbreaking Sheffield rockers 65daysofstatic are to preview their new album with an upcoming UK tour.

People in Sheffield seem to do things differently. Having already given the world Warp Records, the city’s ever industrious rock spawned 65daysofstatic almost a decade ago.

Mixing post rock with electronics, the group’s live shows were unlike anything heard before. A stunning sonic assault, their volume was matched by moments of genuine beauty.

Since then, 65daysofstatic have become a cult phenomenon. Continual touring led to support from The Cure, with the goth rock legends inviting them aboard their lavish tour bus. Exposing the band to a wider audience, the Sheffield group decided to take time off.

Releasing a live album last year, 65daysofstatic were soon hard at work on new material. The result is ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ the latest no holds barred statement from the Sheffield band.

Throwing away the rock textbook, 65daysofstatic have even disregarded their own output. Lean and polished, ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ is yet another groundbreaking move from perhaps the most forward thinking rock band in the UK.

Due for release on April 26th, 65daysofstatic are set to preview their new album with a series of tour dates. Despite their increasingly adept studio activities the band essentially remain a live beast – prepare yourself.

65daysofstatic are set to play the following shows:

May
1 Leeds Stylus
2 Carlisle Brickyard
3 Glasgow Oran Mor
4 Newcastle Academy 2
5 Birmingham Academy 2
6 Sheffield Octagon
7 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
8 Bristol Trinity
9 Cambridge Junction 1
10 Portsmouth Wedgwood Rooms
11 Plymouth White Rabbit
12 London Koko
14 Belfast Mandela Hall
15 Dublin Crawdaddy
16 Cork Cypress Avenue

Click here to buy tickets for 65daysofstatic!

It’s the early hours of Saturday morning in downtown Tallinn and having been summoned over to sample the exotic delights of Estonian music we’re now well into our second hour of Depeche Mode songs, in front of a large Depeche Mode poster, in the Depeche Mode bar.

This curious monument to Essex’ foremost industrial electro-rock outfit may be as empty as Dave Gahan’s soul (late-eighties vintage) but is also nicely indicative of this city’s uniquely quirky charms. Capital of a former Soviet republic, it’s one of the most technologically-advanced locations in the world – pretty much the whole town is a wi-fi hotspot – while also teeming with majestic old medieval buildings, many of which have had gig venues carved into them.

These musical hotspots are now awash with wristbanded folk as it’s the second annual Tallinn Music Week, a beautifully-managed showcase featuring the best, most promising and just downright wonkiest talents in Estonia (and a few neighbours). Even the country’s president, in his opening address, suggests that “what is considered alternative music elsewhere, here is definitely part of the mainstream.” Nice bowtie, too.

Friday

We begin at Mustpeade Maja with Maria Minerva, a chirpy young singer accompanied by a surly-looking bloke who could well be her sulky younger brother, forced to join in by their parents. He provides a varied array of beats but also a great surge of feedback halfway through which puts Minerva off her stroke. She’s shaky but ploughs on regardless.

This is pretty much her first ever gig, apparently, and that’s a theme for the weekend – a number of acts new to the stage and a lot more who’ve been banging away for years and are still half-hoping to have fame thrust upon them, but, hey, aren’t going to get all stressed about it.

Antonina are also in the former camp, having only traded up from duo to trio in November. They play earworm-inducing Europop which even the official program describes as “overly pop-sweet” and sport equally jaunty outfits, notably the guitarist who has fashioned his suit from an old tablecloth. A packed crowd seem to dig it but if this is your cup of tea you must take, ooh, nine or ten sugars in it.

Tallinn is lovely but also a bit of a maze, hence we get hopelessly lost and manage to miss the intriguingly Japanese-influenced electronica act Shirubi Ikazuchi, playing at a downtown metal club. We do then stick around for the less-heralded Freakangels though, as they certainly have a look going on.

Elaborately attired, their frontman is rocking an excellent Marilyn Manson-esque make-up job and what look like black binliners up his arms, which I initially assume are to mask the self-harming scars. As his two similarly-sinister bandmates crank out their intro, however, he stands slightly nervously stage-left and gets a ‘good luck’ peck on the cheek from the missus before sauntering on to gurgle at the crowd in an otherworldly fashion over a wall of classic industrial techno while several Dita Von Teese-alikes whoop it up down the front. Sweet.

Back at the curious Mustpeade Maja (which must have the largest pillars of any venue in Europe, blocking the stage for about two-thirds of those present), the fun-loving Rubik have made the short jaunt from Helsinki, albeit without their regular brass section. No matter; they may look like lumberjacks who’ve been lost in a Finnish forest for several decades but after seven years honing their craft this energetic collective manage to be both refined and ramshackle and, quite possibly, ready for the big leap forward.

You’ve gotta love that post-communism anything-goes Estonian ethos. Their version of the One Show finished early on Friday evening with a track by a band called Mimicry replete with numerous F-words, and this bolshy quartet also close out the evening at the largest central venue, Von Krahl. As the name suggests they aren’t massively original but have a lively singer in Kene Vernik and some pleasingly chunky beats.

Time for bed then? Ha! Estonia never sleeps. After that misjudged visit to the Depeche Mode bar we Tallinn virgins bounce back via a thoroughly entertaining set from Estonia’s top DJ, Quest, at the Balou club and are then spirited off to a late-night underground speakeasy called Levist Väljas. Translation? Out of Coverage, because you can’t get a signal down there. Being off-radar is clearly quite a novelty in these parts.

Saturday

TMW has an accompanying seminar program and the highlight of Saturday afternoon’s talks is a Jukebox Jury-style affair in which four industry types chew over demo tapes from participating bands. Reactions range from pleasant surprise to downright horror, with a bit of gender confusion thrown in for good measure. What’s the panellists’ overall assessment? “Er, very varied,” ponders the slightly bewildered bloke from Rough Trade.

As the maker of any good tape knows, it’s best to start with something visceral to immediately grab the attention, but Estonian live venues take a different tack. Friday’s Tallinn-spotting begins with the cerebral sounds of the Weekend Guitar Trio, not to be confused with the Estonian Guitar Octet, Free Tallinn Trio and UUS Tallinna Trio who are also playing here.
The WGT consists of three middle-aged men making ambient music so minimal that many in the audience remain blissfully unaware that they’ve actually started. There’s a whole classical strand running concurrently with the poppier stuff, which the organisers have interspersed throughout the regular program, thus subjecting younger folk to a few stealth strings along the way.

The curiously-monikered Opium Flirt are another muso-led trio but definitely couldn’t be confused for a classical act, although they do throw every other genre into the mix, from prog-rock power chords to jazz-funk and back again. Tremendous stuff. Originally a slightly charisma-free duo, they’ve now been joined by the weird long-haired bloke from the Phones4U ad (“Yeah…! Yeah!”) who acts as frontman, occasional drummer and also manager. Who says men can’t multi-task?

A bit of a tactical error now: we miss Jurga, an electropop singer whose rather good CD was thrust upon us by an unfeasibly tall Lithuanian the previous day, and also Iiris, who’d gone down well at the demo session, to trek downtown for Badass Yuki, a teenage band who have been getting rave reviews from those in-the-know here. Perhaps it’s another case of on-stage inexperience but they underwhelm, particularly the over-earnest singer who veers toward the drearier side of Ian Curtis. Lighten up son, it might never happen.

Junk Riot are less popular with the Tallinn media types as they’ve apparently gone a bit off the boil since breaking big a few years back. True, they are openly derivative, but also clearly talented, cranking out hugely competent Foals and Arctic Monkeys-style riffs topped by a distinctively castrato frontman. They could be genuine contenders, if they can be bothered.
A couple of electronic outfits to finish the weekend festivities. Jesse are also from Finland and clearly cut from the same cloth as compatriots Rubik, personality-wise, with a nice line in hats and shades and an inability to keep still. This is rough and ready bastard techno and the chaps onstage are clearly enjoying it as much as the ones off it.

Fuck Yuo (sic) I Am a Robot are more reserved, despite the name. They follow the classic electro-duo blueprint of one outgoing bloke and his nerdy mate, and pump out some impressively heavy beats, despite looking like Estonia’s answer to Erasure.

Now an Erasure bar, that would be worth a look.

Words by Si Hawkins
Photos by Vasilis Panagiotopoulos

Sheffield outlaws 65daysofstatic have spent the best part of a decade expanding the boundaries of rock music.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, the band introduced electronic elements into the post-rock template. Literally no stones were left unturned, with 65daysofstatic seemingly content only with the future.

Cult heroes, their live shows are simply a sight to behold. Taking time off after the release of 2007’s ‘The Destruction Of Small Ideas’ the Sheffield group entered the studio last year with an urge to resist complacency.

Challenging their own boundaries, 65daysofstatic have returned with a typically joyous slice of post rock. ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ is filled with the same intense intelligence which buoys the band’s finest work.

Due for release next month, ClashMusic has grabbed an exclusive preview of the new album. ‘Crash Tactics’ is a bass heavy monster, the sort of rock song which could turn Aphex Twin onto playing the guitar.

Grab it HERE.

65daysofstatic are set to release their new album ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ on April 26th. Tracklisting is as follows:

1. Moutainhead
2. Crash Tactics
3. Dance Dance Dance
4. Piano Fights
5. Weak4
6. Come To Me ( featuring Robert Smith/The Cure on vocals)
7. Go Complex
8. Debutante
9. Tiger Girl

Cult American shoegaze types Black Tambourine have spoken about their continuing cult status.

A recent glut of groups from Brooklyn has seen shoegaze pushed to the front of the hipster slang book. Bands such as Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts have released acclaimed albums, with one group continuing to be cited as an influence.

A ghostly presence on the American indie scene, Black Tambourine only played a handful of shows in their lifetime. Yet the band’s influence persists with new fans discovering their music each day.

With the new retrospective ‘For Ex Lovers’ out now ClashMusic tracked down guitarist Brian Nelson to talk about the enduring appeal of Black Tambourine.

Asked about their new found fashionable status, the guitarist appeared to be pleased. “It’s very flattering to think that we are – at least in the conscious of the critics, if not the bands – part of the stepping stones along the way” he argued.

“Although I definitely think that a lot of those bands are more influenced by the same people we were, rather than by Black Tambourine. We share the same aesthetic. I don’t necessarily think that we were some pivotal group, but nonetheless it’s very flattering to be mentioned alongside a lot of cool new bands”.

Continuing, the guitarist spoke about his own feelings on Black Tambourine’s output. “I was always very happy with all of our recordings and our aesthetic. I felt we had an idea about what we wanted the band to be, and we came closest to achieving that- at least on record” he explained.

“The records aren’t especially well recorded or anything, they’re just underground lo-fi recordings, but I think we kind of nailed the sound we had in our head.”

To read the entire interview just click HERE.

It must be a strange feeling.

Phoned up, out of blue by a journalist in Scotland (is that North of London?) to talk about a band you left behind some twenty years ago. Formed as a side project, Washington DC based shoegaze group Black Tambourine seemed to tap into something deeply personal leaving their mark on the indie landscape.

Recorded a mere ten songs, their back catalogue is brief to the extent of seeming blunt. Black Tambourine’s mixture of noise pop, vintage Motown and more gave their output a power which belies their record sales.

Bastions of the early Slumberland scene, Black Tambourine have been picked up by a new breed of shoegaze influenced acts. Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts combined with half the population of Brooklyn seem to be listening to the band with a new retrospective emptying the vaults.

ClashMusic caught up with erstwhile guitarist Brian Nelson to talk about Black Tambourine’s enduring appeal…

– – –

There is a story that Black Tambourine initially started as a side project – is that correct?
It was pretty much a side project. At the time I was in a band called Whorl, and Archie (Moore) was in Velocity Girl. When we started Pam (Berry) was overseas, doing her post-college travelling time. She wasn’t in any bands at the time, so when we started it was a side project for all of us, but we’d been in communication with Pam saying: “when you come back you’re gonna be in our band”. She sorted of agreed.

How did the Washington DC indie pop scene develop?
We had a group of friends who all met in college and all fell into a similar taste in music. I have to admit that Mike (Schulman) – who now runs Slumberland – he really picked up on British bands, the likes of Postcard Records, Creation and really made myself and some of our other friends aware of this stuff. He was the catalyst, and we fell in love with the records and the sounds. It came out of that. We were all friends who liked this music, so eventually we pieced together the influences and began trying to make our own. We loved that music but we weren’t hearing it anywhere and it was hard to find – those records were like treasured jewels to us! Maybe it was just because we couldn’t get enough of it that we had to make it ourselves.

Was this an Anglophile streak then? Did you consciously look to Britain to get away from the nascent grunge scene?
It was a little before grunge, we were just getting into this stuff during the late 80s a little before Nirvana broke. It was formative years for us, in terms of our tastes. We always knew of American bands like Beat Happening, Galaxie 500, The Feelies – any of those bands were also hugely influential to us. But there wasn’t anybody doing the type of thing that Creation Records, eventually Sarah Records were doing over here in the States. Once we had picked up on them those records were so good and it was so hard to find them that we started to form bands who were doing the same type of thing. So it wasn’t necessarily a conscious Anglophile thing, in that we weren’t trying to copy the way British bands sounded – Galaxie 500, Yo La Tengo and things equally influenced us like that.

Black Tambourine – For Ex Lovers Only

– – –

Black Tambourine have a definite bubblegum pop influence, how did that come into play?
I think we were all sort of Motown, doo wop fans as well. Again I think Mike was the taste maker for us in many ways. When he grew up his dad had a huge record collection from the 60s, and I think that’s how he got into music. He would just listen to those seven inches, and his dad had a lot of Motown, doo wop singles. Most of that aspect of our sound came out of Mike coming up with riffs and guitar bits that reflected that type of music. But as well, The Jesus And Mary Chain were an enormous influence on us and they took a lot from the girl group, 60s sound. They could carry that 60s sound with a lot of noise and distortion, and we just wanted to do the same thing.

The band only play a handful of shows. Why was this, and what were the gigs actually like?
The shows were sparsely attended! Very few shows. At the time, it wasn’t necessarily easy to get shows, we were lucky in that we had a club in DC called Deepsea Stage and they were really great in that you could almost just book the space and play your show. A lot of the early Slumberland bands played there, I mean we played there a lot. We also managed to get a couple of college radio shows, as well as a few shows out of town. Again the band was a side project to a certain degree. We all had other bands and other involvements going on as well. We didn’t always have a whole lot of time to practice for shows. The whole notion of going on tour was very alien to us, we were doing this on our own so we didn’t have the backing of a label behind us to get the records out and do any sort of touring. Playing shows kind of happened when it happened, and we were happy to play them we just didn’t pull that many off.

How did you promote records and shows? Was there an underground network of shoegaze fans?
It was kind of like that. We knew pockets of people here and there in other cities. When we started Mike worked at a record store in Maryland called ‘Vinyl Inc’. It was through this record store that he began working up contacts with distributors, and other sorts of people who could help get a record out. Once he had done that we could get it disseminated through fanzines or through going on tour. We established friendships, contacts with other bands that helped us figure out where the best place to send the records was – where they actually sell.

Why did the band split up in the end?
It’s kind of easy to me with the benefit of 20 years of time, but we kind of just stopped doing it. I joined Velocity Girl with Archie, and we eventually got signed to Sub Pop Records. Mike got more involved with Slumberland, the label really picks up and he started putting out records by out of town bands. It didn’t really leave a lot of time for practices and then shows. What we recorded was just our material at the time, so we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to write more. We were all kind of pushing our energies in different ways. It wasn’t a conscious “this is it, we’re done” it just stopped.

Black Tabourine – By Tomorrow

– – –

Black Tambourine then have this curious second life, developing a cult following. Did this surprise you?
Yes! It surprised me very much. Even now, a decade or so later there’s a lot of bands in Brooklyn – Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts – who get compared the Black Tambourine and some of those bands are referencing it as something they listen to. It’s very flattering to think that we are – at least in the conscious of the critics, if not the bands – part of the stepping stones along the way. Although I definitely think that a lot of those bands are more influenced by the same people we were, rather than by Black Tambourine. We share the same aesthetic. I don’t necessarily think that we were some pivotal group, but nonetheless it’s very flattering to be mentioned alongside a lot of cool new bands.

Is there anything else left in the cupboard that is yet to be re-issued?
Nothing that we deemed releasable. We have some live shows that we recorded on cassette, and some demos, but we don’t want to put stuff like that out. This isn’t Neil Young’s ‘Archives’ – we’re not going to throw everything out warts and all, we only want people to hear the best stuff. Anything that is not out, it is unlikely that it will be released as it is embarrassing for us for one reason or another.

The band go on to have these varied careers, is that period in Black Tambourine something which stuck in your own minds?
Yeah. I was always very happy with all of our recordings and our aesthetic. I felt we had an idea about what we wanted the band to be, and we came closest to achieving that- at least on record. The records aren’t especially well recorded or anything, they’re just underground lo-fi recordings, but I think we kind of nailed the sound we had in our head. For that alone I would remember it. Having been involved with plenty of other records I can tell you how hard that is! I’m really happy with it, it was very fulfilling to have an actual package of songs. In retrospect perhaps it’s better that we didn’t go on to put out a bunch of bad records.

Black Tambourine – Throw Aggi Off The Bridge

– – –

Black Tambourine’s new retrospective ‘For Ex Lovers Only’ is out now

Watch the video for Death Of London’s ‘This Is Japan’, taken from their ‘The Independent State of Death of London’ E.P., out April 5th.

Death of London: This Is Japan from W&B on Vimeo.

Creation records boss Alan McGee has spoken to ClashMusic about his experiences with My Bloody Valentine.

Independent labels are run on a shoe string budget, running on an economy of time and love rather than money. However when Creation Records backed My Bloody Valentine, they would need all three.

On 1991’s ‘Loveless’ album the Anglo-Irish group would re-shape rock music, creating a seminal piece of work. For Creation Records, however, the album almost meant bankruptcy as Kevin Shields studio perfection dragged sessions far beyond the patience of most normal human beings.

Speaking to ClashMusic, Alan McGee reflected on the release of the album. “I remember when we were making ‘Loveless’, this is back in the very early days, real backing tracks not even any tunes, and Kevin Shields was telling me about a tune that was going on inside it and I’m actually quite attuned to music so I was really listening but I told him that I didn’t hear it at all and then I asked him years later if he was taking the piss and he said no – that’s when I realised how attuned to melodies and rhythms that guy really is.”

Continuing, the one time Creation boss revealed that he expected My Bloody Valentine to have the same impact as Nirvana.

“I remember when Nirvana came out and we were making ‘Loveless’, I honestly thought it was going to be the next ‘Nevermind’ and it was going to change everything. It sort of did, but it happened twenty years later. I actually thought, in the same way I thought about ‘Psychocandy’, was that it was a revolution. And you know it was ripped off from the Bay City Rollers…”

Read the entire interview HERE.

Jaunty two-piece Slow Club have unveiled a series of British tour dates running throughout May.

First they were twee but now they ain’t. Once sweet and wholesome, Slow Club’s music has developed over time to take on a new directness, approaching matters such as love and heartbreak from unsettling honest viewpoint.

Which isn’t to say that the duo are all doom and gloom. Live, Slow Club are one of the most rollicking enjoyable experiences on the road right now, combining singalong hits with a sweet stage manner.

Following their debut album with a sneaky Christmas EP, Slow Club have taken a short break after a hectic 2009. Now the band are packing the tour bus for another jaunt across the country.

With support from Summer Camp, Slow Club are set to tour the nation in support of their new single ‘Giving Up On Love’. A bittersweet ode to growing up alone, beneath its cheerful melody lies some heartbreaking sentiments.

Due for release on May 24th, Slow Club will celebrate the release of the track with a series of British shows. Opening on May 15th at The Great Escape the duo are to travel across the country.

Ending with their largest ever headline show in London’s Koko venue, Slow Club will be supported on the night by Spectrals, Veronica Falls and more.

Slow Club are set to play the following shows:

May
15 Brighton The Great Escape
25 Oxford Academy 2
26 Swansea University
27 Liverpool University
28 Manchester The Factory
29 Leeds Cockpit
31 Newcastle Evolution Festival

June
1 London KOKO

Click here to buy tickets to Slow Club!

Revered American songwriter Gil Scott Heron is set to play a special out door show at Somerset House.

A stately manor on the outskirts of London, Somerset House turns its grounds over to music fans each summer. Organising a series of massive shows the event captures some stellar performers.

Returning this year with his first new album in over a decade, Gil Scott Heron remains an immensely talented songwriter. On ‘I’m New Here’ the singer matches a knowledge of blues and jazz with a taste for something new.

Matching Heron’s unmistakable voice to an electronic backdrop, the album is an enormous artistic success opening up another chapter in the singer’s career.

Set to play a special show at Somerset House, Gil Scott Heron has agreed to take part in what must rank as one of the summer’s must see gigs. Taking place on July 14th, the American songwriter will mix new material with a trawl through his illustrious back catalogue.

Meanwhile organisers have also added a show by The Divine Comedy. Preparing to release their new album ‘Bang Goes The Knighthood’ this summer, the band are on typically acerbic form.

With acts such as Air and The Temper Trap already confirmed for Somerset House demand for tickets has been high. Fans have snapped up briefs quickly, with a number of shows already sold out.

Sadly, all the tickets for Air, Florence And The Machine, The Temper Trap and The xx have been sold. However with a host of other acts to choose from fans are still spoilt for choice.

Gil Scott Heron is set to play the following show:

July
14 London Somerset House

Click here to buy tickets to Gil Scott Heron!

Word of mouth spread quick on Nina Nastasia.

Recording her debut album ‘Dogs’ in 2000 the singer could only afford to press 1500 copies. Sitting up all night in her apartment Nastasia put the sleeves together by hand, mailing them out to fans.

Handed a copy by Steve Albini, legendary DJ John Peel fell in love with Nina Nastasia’s music. Sparking a growing cult phenomenon, the American singer released her latest album ‘You Follow Me’ in 2007 before deciding to take a break.

Easing herself away from music, Nastasia instead found creativity flowing through her. Hooking up with long term producer Steve Albini, the singer has crafted a typically affecting collection of new songs.

‘Outlaster’ is due to be released on June 7th, with Nina Nastasia on stunning form. Accompanied by a sparse group of musicians, the singer’s voice is wrapped in a tiny orchestra assembled by Paul Bryan.

The result is one of her strongest albums to date. ‘Outlaster’ matches the economy of Nina Nastasia’s songwriting with confident, even lush arrangements. Early reviews have only whetted fans appetites, meaning that ClashMusic are proud to offer a sneak preview of the new album.

Taken from ‘Outlaster’, ClashMusic can exclusively offer album track ‘You’re A Holy Man’ as a free download. A deeply meditative work, it finds Nina Nastasia exploring religious themes in a manner which is intelligent without being preachy, mature without losing a sense of her youth.

Click HERE to grab it!

Nina Nastasia is set to release ‘Outlaster’ on June 7th. Tracklisting is as follows:

1. Cry, Cry, Baby
2. Moves Away
3. You’re a Holy Man
4. You Can Take Your Time
5. This Familiar Way
6. What’s Out There
7. A Kind of Courage
8. Wakes
9. One Way Out
10. Outlaster