There hasn’t been much to shout about up North recently. Critics’ tip; Let’s Buy Happiness, are pregnant with promise but it’s still far too early to judge, The Futureheads recent offering (as good as it was) fluttered by seemingly unnoticed and Maximo Park are muted. Cometh the hour, cometh the hairy geordie: David Burn, as inspiring as he is completely convinced of his own ability.

Detroit Social Club are the audacious new voice of the North. Their debut album, ‘Existence’, is a bold marriage of ravaged blues/country influences and their own grinding stomp-rock sound. ‘Northern Man’ is the closest one can come to Ashcroft without becoming poor imitation, whilst ‘Silver’ and ‘Rivers & Rainbows’ tip each end of the album’s spectrum from glorious optimism to booming drama.

8/10

Words by Joe Zadeh

Dot To Dot’s sixth year kicked off in Bristol yesterday, with the usual mix of biggish names, and smaller up-and-comers. Taking place simultaneously across eight different venues around the city, it’s impossible to see everyone. Still, that didn’t stop your intrepid reporter from strapping on the Converse and hoofing it about from place-to-place, trying to cram in as much as possible.

First up, and it’s Grandaddy! Wait… what? In fact, it was local boys Countryside, though with their artfully shitty synths, heavy guitar and be-capped singer, the resemblance was startling. That’s no bad thing, and indeed, the crowd were soon lapping it up. Singer Stephen’s voice is eerily high, giving the impression of a lost little girl singing amidst the machines. On a grey day, in the industrial gloom of The Thekla, Countryside were a welcome ray of summer sunshine.

“A melancholy mix of Nick Cave melodrama, Shadows twang and Roy Orbison croon,” is how An Axe describe themselves on their MySpace page. It’s an apt description. Playing The Cooler on Park Street, this doomy, deathly four piece herald their arrival with a tolling bell. The guitarist – who looks not unlike Jimi Tenor – sports a Godspeed You! Black Emperor tattoo, which perhaps explains the blasted landscapes they effortlessly conjure up. Hardly a band to get the party started, they are, however, a good one.

Besides, if you were looking to dance, Fol Chen were next, bringing their sonic riot in matching red jump suits. They’re an undeniably tight band, and the suddenly huge crowd were definitely up for it… but this reviewer was bored. Perhaps it was the heat, or the fact that everyone seemed to be talking, but something wasn’t right. A shame.

Never mind, eh? Here come Wax Fang, armed with a theremin. With only a short set, the three-piece do what any self-respecting band with a theremin would do: they go big and loud and ultra-prog. And you know what? It works. They play maybe four songs, each roughly a year long, but with mesmerising intensity. Singer Scott Carney does a second solo let, later in the day, at the marvellous Rise Records and it’s… not so hot. It’s an OK acoustic set, but pales in comparison to the epic performance the band put on here.

One more act to see in The Cooler, before hiking up the hill to The Ansom Rooms for Field Music. Ruby Suns’ recent album ‘Fight Softly’ is pretty damn good, and the improbably named Ryan McPhun is clearly a versatile talent. Still, the moment where, draped in garlands of flowers, the band transformed this dingy venue into the world’s smallest carnival was a huge surprise. With shades of Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend, the mixture of electronics and tropical rhythms had everyone dancing, despite a few technical difficulties, which persisted throughout the show. The Suns already have a cult following. On this basis, crossover success is surely close at hand.

And so to Field Music. The Sunderland four-piece are up against it from the start, playing in the sucking void of The Ansom Rooms to a crowd that fills up maybe a third of the space at best. They’re a good band who play nice songs well, but sandwiched between The Ruby Suns and Liars, it did feel a little incongruous – as if someone had stuck on a Travis album, when you’d been listening to Sunn O))). The fans enjoyed it, and that’s good. Me? I found myself drifting off a little. But hey – go buy ‘The Week That Was’ album. It’s brilliant.

A couple of years back, Liars were just another cult act – albeit one with celeb fans and two bona-fide classic albums to their name. Now, in the wake of ‘Sisterworld’, it’s surely clear to everyone that they’re America’s best rock band. Hype? Perhaps, but it’s a rare band that can convey such a ferocious intelligence, a playful sense of humour, an awkward sexiness – and still rock like a bastard. Most of Sisterworld gets a run-through, plus some old favourites – including a rare outing for ‘Loose Nuts On The Velodrome’ from their debut. Angus Andrew prowls the stage, thrusting and screaming like a demonically possessed Mick Jagger. He reveals that recent single ‘Scissor’ was written in Bristol, drawing cheers from the crowd, and then proceeds to twitch towards us like Sadako crawling out of the telly in The Ring. Terrifying, sexy and funny – he’s a proper rock star, and Liars are a genuinely world-class band.

Finally, the journey ends, back where it started at The Thekla. Warp-signee Lonelady has had a lot of buzz recently for her post-punk funk. After Liars it was bound to be disappointing, but she puts on a good show, getting the crowd moving without actually speaking. It was, perhaps, a little too arch and humourless for my taste. She could have cracked a smile. But it’s hard to argue when surrounded by hundreds of people dancing and clearly having a ball.

So, one expected hit with Liars. Two unforeseen treats in the form of Ruby Suns and Wax Fang’s full-band set, and only a few grumbles. Dot To Dot continues today in Nottingham, and tomorrow in Manchester – and if you’re in the area, you really should check it out.

Words by Will Salmon

Hollywood legend, and pop culture icon, Dennis Hopper has died aged 74 following a battle with cancer.

Hopper was best known for his roles in ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ and of course ‘Easy Rider’, which he co-wrote and directed with Peter Fonda.

Late last year it was revealed he had been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, a condition which grew worse and ultimately led to his death.

Surrounded by stories of outrageous behaviour, Hopper was the ultimate rock’n’roll actor with suitably impressive friends. Country music star and actor Kris Kristofferson told Clash how Hopper’s invite to appear in his ‘The Last Movie’ film kick started his career.

Electro rock outfit 65daysofstatic are urging fans to get their remixes in for a new competition.

Hailing from Sheffield, 65daysofstatic craft an experimental mixture of rock and electronics. Defying categorisation, the band’s output has built a cult audience who thrive on their demolition of boundaries.

Returning earlier this year with their free download single ‘Crash Tactics’ the band’s new album could well be their most complete document to date. The first full length in three years by 65daysofstatic the material reeks of a new assurance in their own abilities.

A lengthy tour with The Cure honed their live chops, while a spell in the studio saw the band regain a sense of focus.

Released last month, ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ has delighted fans starved of new material. To celebrate, ClashMusic teamed up with 65daysofstatic to launch a new remix competition – and we need your help!

Fans were given the stems to a track from the album and invited to go wild. To grab the original track just click HERE.

Invited to remix the track, any style is acceptable with 65daysofstatic acting as personal judges for the competition. To upload your entry, just click HERE.

Closing date is May 31st so BE QUICK. The winner will receive the following good stuff:

– signed copy of ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ on CD and LP
– 65daysofstatic t-shirt
– exclusive ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ test pressing of the LP (only 5 in existence)
– guestlist entry to a 65daysofstatic show
– SoundCloud Pro Plus account (worth €500)

Soul icon Martha Reeves has spoken about the Motown spirit, claiming it could sold the recession.

Founded in 1959, Motown came from humble origins to dominate pop music. One of the 60s most remarkable and enduring stories, the label produced some of the decade’s most timeless hits.

Set against this is the city of Detroit. With the car industry in decline, the area was ravaged by civil unrest. As Motown topped the charts, Detroit tore itself apart with a series of deadly race riots.

Now one of the most deprived areas in the United States, Motown icon Martha Reeves claims to have the solution to the city’s problems. Recently elected as a councillor, the singer is passionate about her home city.

“Motown revived Detroit” she told The Guardian. “We were in a recession in 1959 when Barrett Strong first sang Money. We all needed some money. So when more Motown records hit, all of a sudden Detroit started getting more attention.”

Continuing, soul star Martha Reeves remembered the effect Motown had on previously segregated audiences. “We needed change and we knew it wouldn’t be long before things that we’d hoped for would come around” she argued. “Things were coming into fruition that we’d dreamed of, like having our hit records and playing in front of integrated audiences. After all, we started off playing to segregated audiences.”

“I remember Smokey Robinson telling the guards and the people who were making those rules stand back because our music was for everybody. I remember people who had been separated come together and dance together at the end of the show” she recalled.

“Barriers were broken down and I know our music had a lot to do with that. But it’s vital to know that we weren’t representing young black America but young America in general.”

Click HERE to read the full interview.

Ireland’s Electric Picnic has confirmed a host of new acts with math rock heroes Foals amongst the latest additions.

Held in the rolling Irish countryside, Electric Picnic is the country’s alternative festival. Small enough to remain familiar yet large enough to continually surprise, the hand picked bill always contains a few surprises.

Taking place between September 3rd – 5th, the festival will return this summer with a series of stunning headliners. Yet in a new announcement Electric Picnic have surprised fans with some new announcements.

Oxford math rock group Foals are set to play at the Irish festival, following the release of their new album. ‘Total Life Forever’ was hailed by critics as a brave move on from the band’s debut, with Foals secluding themselves in Sweden for sessions.

The result is the band’s most mature material to date. Set to perform at Electric Picnic Foals will be joined by the Archie Bronson Outfit and more.

Already confirmed for the event are art rock legends Roxy Music and 90s dance icons Leftfield. Also set to play RockNess, Leftfield are promising a series of surprises for fans at their first live appearances in a decade.

LCD Soundsystem will appear at the event, with reformed post-punk icons Public Image Limited set to perform on Irish soil.

Continually adding new names to the bill, organisers recently confirmed appearances from Cathy Davey, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, cult human beatbox artist Beardyman and The Mighty Stef.

Electric Picnic takes place between September 3rd – 5th.

With their debut single, ‘Five Trees’, out on Monday (31st May) and a weekend of appearances at the Dot To Dot Festival in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester, Clash captured Chapel Club live at Village Underground, 27th May 2010.

Photos by Al de Perez

Technology is supposed to improve matters.

The advancing of machinery was intended to relieve the burden of work from our shoulders. Yet in recording studios across the world, bands are struggling with broken pedals and laptops in a state of permanent meltdown.

Teaming up with Cutty Sark, Asian Dub Foundation are laying down tracks for their new album. Allowing cameras to film them as they work, the band are allowing fans unprecedented access into their working methods.

Building the album piece by fragile piece, Asian Dub Foundation have reached Episode Five. Merging their frenetic mixture of Bhangra samples and punk rock guitars with ambient textures, the group are working towards a delicate new sound.

Surrounded by guitar pedals, sonic devices and other contraptions the band seem submerged in sound. Yet somehow, like a lighthouse through fog, new textures emerge which guide the group in a different direction.

Watch the video now…

San Diego noise pop duo Crocodiles are to release their new single ‘Sleep Forever’ on July 5th.

The desert seems the place to be right now. In the past year or so both Gonja Sufi and Arctic Monkeys have emerged from the sands of California clutching remarkable new material, inspired by the sun kissed landscape.

Now Crocodiles have lurched out of California with new material. Centred on Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowells, the noise pop duo’s debut album leaked out through Fat Possum towards the end of last year.

Titled ‘Summer Of Hate’ it was a nasty slice of organ drenched psych pop. An inverse of the ’67 spirit, it seemed to recall the bad vibes of Altomont channelled through a strict lo-fi DIY experience.

Now the duo have recorded a brand new single. Teaming up with renowned producer – and part time Simian Mobile Disco member – James Ford the result is ‘Sleep Forever’.

If the ‘Summer Of Hate’ was a party record (of sorts) then the new single is the comedown. A near coma like pulse reverberates through the track, reaching a state of euphoria that recalls the sweep of the Californian sky.

Due to to be released on July 5th, ‘Sleep Forever’ is a sign that Crocodiles are already thinking of their second album. In addition to this, the group are travelling to the UK for a one off show.

Set to perform at Madame Jo Jo’s in London, the June 1st show will feature the full fury of the Crocodiles live experience.

Crocodiles are set to release their new single ‘Sleep Forever’ on July 5th. The band have confirmed the following show:

June
1 London Madame Jo Jo’s

Click here to buy tickets to Crocodiles!

Highland event Belladrum has added Kitty, Daisy And Lewis to its bill, amongst a host of other additions.

Set beside the sleepy village of Beauly, Belladrum is a unique and fast growing event. Also named ‘The Tartan Heart Festival’ it’s easy to see why, with a warm and family friendly atmosphere assured.

This year the event returns in an expanded format, with plenty of new attractions to keep the crowds occupied. Working each day to bring new acts to the party, Belladrum has just confirmed a host of new additions to its bill.

Sunday Best signings Kitty, Daisy And Lewis are set to perform at the Highland event, with their second album due for release shortly. An unusual family trio, the band blend a love of rockabilly with a shrewd ear for melody.

With their debut album a cult curiosity Kitty, Daisy And Lewis are set to join the fun at Belladrum. Elsewhere, rising Scottish stars The Boy Who Trapped The Sun will arrive with a barrel-load of hype.

Hotly tipped indie rockers The Goldheart Assembly are due to perform, with other new additions including Mull songwriter Colin McIntyre, Harper Simon and Edinburgh based ska collective Bombskare.

Already confirmed for the event are reggae icons The Wailers, Amy MacDonald, The Levellers, The Divine Comedy and many more.

Last year’s event sold out in advance, with revellers enjoying a rather un-Scottish blast of sunshine throughout their weekend. One of the most scenic festivals in the UK, Belladrum is proving that its ambition is undimmed.

Belladrum takes place between August 6th – 7th.