I’m poised. I’m psyched. And I’m worried.

Daft Punk always tweak the global nipples of anticipation. Ever since 2001’s ‘Discovery’ they’ve riled the world into a frenzied state with a minimal-output-to-maximum-hype effect.

As we awaited the only playback copy being delivered, I reflected on my 20 years with Daft Punk. As a lifelong fan, I took my second-ever (edited for legal reasons) at Thomas Bangalter’s early ‘Daft Punk’ set at Bugged Out in 1994.

(I was naïve! Whilst in the queue and reading the flyer, I had to check with a fella in a leather jacket that it wasn’t a punk night).

The experience clearly fried my juvenile dancing mind, resulting in a mess of jangled feet.  

In 1996 I carried an unreleased copy of ‘Homework’ to university after a record shop in Macclesfield accidently sold it to me months ahead of its rearranged release. Many students wouldn’t believe it was even their album. Kudos ensued. My fan-boy obsession rocketed.

Once sponsored by the warm bosom of a student loan, I frantically learnt how to DJ badly with Roulé records such as Bangalter’s ‘Spinal Scratch’ or ‘Trax On Da Rocks’, which cemented the foundations for the French Touché sound: a dance movement that’s powered France’s underground ever since.

Later, I had the privilege of doing a cover interview for Clash with Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo around their ‘Human After All’ album. That was followed by the duo smashing the Clash stage at Rockness on 2007’s ‘Alive’ tour.

In short, they’ve shaped my younger musical mind, and helped me get hooked on a lifetime-long career in dance music. Consequently I’ve devoured everything Daft Punk has ever released. Now their fourth studio album, ‘Random Access Memories’, has just arrived in the room…

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‘Give Life Back To Music’
No prologue. No warm up. No teaser soliloquy. Straight into the disco! Daft Punk set their stall out early and down the front is Nile Rodgers, the powerhouse behind disco legends Chic. His unmistakable funky fretwork fuses with a crescendo that quickly leads to a vocoder-ed vocal drop, sampled crowd cheers and incidental sounds. It’s loopy robotic disco just like we remembered it. I’m relaxing into their warm analogue dream; the production gleams so brightly my ears are almost blinded. I lean forward in my leather chair.  

‘The Game Of Love’
Cinematic soundscapes rise up, recalling US west coast driving experiences I’ve never had. The vocals are delivered by sad robots, melancholically pondering the time “when you decided to walk away”. The song has the lightness of easy listening, powered by an analogue pulse. Off-kilter percussion and weird keys perform a more interesting outro than the spine of the song suggested would be possible. “I just wanted you to stay…” whines the robot at the end. Poor, sad robot: if you had a heart to break, it’d be in at least four pieces. Overall, that was a tepid jaunt that didn’t really develop. I sink back into the leather.

‘Giorgio By Moroder’
Giorgio Moroder, the legendary Italian synth producer, is talking. It’s a monologue about him sleeping in his car around 1970 because he was too tired after his half-hour set in a German nightclub to drive home. Its vivid and informative before it feints into a signature-style Donna Summer synth wig out. This is tropical muzak meets Teutonic proto-techno. A strange and kitsch mix which finally drops away into more monologue inveigling the listener in the wisdom of integrity as he sound-bites such nuggets as: “No-one told me what to do” and “Free yourself from the melody and harmony”. A four-minute voyage ensues that’s crammed full of spazzed-out Roland 303 acid, crescendos drenched in glam processed guitars, orchestral sweeps, vinyl scratching and dizzyingly fingered bass chords. At nine minutes it ends abruptly. That was exhaustingly dense. Those monologues are really going to do my head in on repeated listens.  

‘Within’
A gentle, poignant piano teaser entices us in as delicate yet propulsive pads and gently brushed cymbals create an oh-so-sensitive structure on which a sad robot comes and sits. “There’s so many things I don’t understand.” It seems this android is a little lost. Maybe its watched Wall-E too many times. The machine continues morosely: “There’s a world living inside me that I can’t explain,” before wailing, “Doors all look the same.” As plummeting analogue reverberations swell, the robots mourns: “I can’t remember my name.”  Presumably this robot is incongruously in a K-hole. I’ve (edited for legal reasons) in Somerset once. Can robots confound themselves with recreational drugs? It seems so.

‘Instant Crush’
Lovely stuff, the lush west coast vibes are back. You can almost sense Fleetwood Mac having brunch with each other. Or Steely Dan waxing his bumper. (Yes, we know Steely Dan isn’t a guy.) The music instantly transports me from this dry office… but there’s more sad robot pleading. Thankfully the music this time has a lot more urgency, gilded keys colliding with thrilling air guitar moments. Our robot protagonists are still feeling that delusional experience; they’re squeaking about falling in love and pining “never to be alone again”. It seems the robots have a complex mental condition, an inverted depersonalisation disorder. Or these Frenchmen are taking their android narrative way too seriously. Maybe those helmets have fogged their vision a tad?

‘Lose Yourself To Dance’ (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Nile Rodgers is clearly back. Phew! The guitar is instantly livid with life and energy. Pharrell seems to be singing – crucially there’s no vocoder to be heard. It’s a slow jam, building into pure disco vibes, handclaps and studio voodoo in abundance. Rodgers is working his fret in double time as the vocals are tantalisingly leading us to the metaphorical dancefloor. Eventually the robots start harmonising. They’re keeping it simple. Repetitive phrases of “C’mon!” meld with chunky strutting and loops before they go for a long fade. Who does a long fade these days, eh?

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– – –

‘Touch’ (feat. Paul Williams)
Oooft! The androids are getting angry. Via the medium of Paul Williams from The Muppets fame, we’re suddenly slap bang in the middle of an astral opera, seemingly written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The robots are recalling being “touched”, possessed by “sensation” as big band brass breakdowns insinuate Broadway moments. A piano lumbers to the ghost of a choir. It’s really dragging on. We’re in a nightmarish delusion created by the short-circuitry of bad musical meets tired disco. Somewhere, Touché is in tears. Daft Punk’s Disney-fication continues strongly.

‘Get Lucky’ (feat. Pharrell Williams)
The pre-album single. This is sounding better and better amid this depressed robot day care centre fare. And it’s still as catchy as hell when heard in context of this unfolding album. ‘Random Access Memories’ seems to be mainly powered by the disco manna of the Chic guitarist. He’s propping up this deep-space journey, and you get the impression he can serve up his musical gold till Jupiter’s cows come home.

– – –

– – –

‘Beyond’
First up are some large Disney strings: you can imagine Danny Elfman scampering around in the background with some lost analogue tapes from Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy sessions. Things are tempestuous but settle down into further sunshine vibes as the vocals return, like a horny Metal Mickey, to the topic of love and desire. “You are the light behind the cloud.” Now, Daft Punk lyrics often suck, but this album is perhaps their nadir of dog-log-fog rhyming. If you’re going to blast out average lyrics, the songs needs to slay us. 

‘Motherboard’
Cute, playful and cinematic strings softly rise as melodies burble like a spring scene from Snow White. Can I hear Bangalter rustling around in the pantry finding more crackers to heap this cheese upon? Sorry, that was nasty. It’s getting edgy and darker, and these tones whisk me away again as film scores have the power to do. What does it conjure? I’m getting a paranoid house droid doing the ironing. Just before the end it swells into an enjoyable break-bleep that recalls William Orbit’s finer work in the late ‘90s. Another long fade.

‘Fragments Of Time’
We’re back to laconic disco. Suggestive guitars, determined drums and the whimsy of a gently tickled Moog dapple over human vocals, recalling driving to paradise. It’s impeccably produced, as percussive gestures pulse along with analogue warmth. It’s a jaunty ride that has more robots remembering fragments of previous lives, overly rhyming again but not as delirious as the space opera of ‘Touch’. In comparison this track has absolutely zero edges of friction and zero objectionable parts. In fact, that was lovely.

‘Doin’ It Right’ (feat. Panda Bear)
This is much better! Urgent vocoder and a decent clubby bassline combine in minimalist funk. Daft Punk have really considered their song architecture and flow – it’s ebbing and flowing with uncomfortable bi-polarity. This is clearly Panda Bear’s track: he sings in blocky, enunciated words, similar to his style in Animal Collective. It’s got a bit of an Afrika Bambaataa-proto-electro vibe. It’s also very much like Daft Punk’s great track ‘Technologic’, with fast-spat lyrics over terse low hertz. This is a great track, but feels like it should belong to another album. At least we found Panda Bear easily enough – Julian Casablancas’ presence on ‘Instant Crush’ went entirely unnoticed.

‘Contact’
A spaceman is delivering stilted walkie-talkie banter. Sounds like a sample from the final Apollo mission, mumblings about a UFO. Grandiose organ chords build and massive drums tumble forth. Huge, digitised guitar parts chime as the ascending screech of a spacecraft dominates the sound field. This is fairly agonising. Child-like volume control flicks jar heavily with the lush production on other songs. The overall composition gathers pace, its makers clearly trying to write an expansive club banger; but it's a mess of ideas and sounds dated. Eventually the muttering is lost to the static fuzz of near silence. All three journalists look cautiously at each other before shaking heads at the offer of listening to any specific part or song again.

– – –

We go home: slightly confused, but happy that Nile Rodgers can channel such incredible talent into Daft Punk’s increasingly melancholic robotic vision.

– – –

Words: Matthew Bennett

‘Random Access Memories’ is released on May 17th.

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With her schoolmates in the electro-pop class of 2009 – La Roux; Ladies Gaga and Hawke – enjoying varying fortunes since graduation, Little Boots looks to shed her own L-plates with ‘Nocturnes’.

This perhaps overdue follow-up to her debut album of 2009, ‘Hands’, finds DFA man Tim Goldsworthy on production duties. And as he beefs up her disco cred, Victoria Hesketh keeps one eye firmly trained on the halcyon, silver leggings-clad days of four years ago.

And on charmingly hummable tracks like ‘Confusion’, that proves to be no bad thing. For the most part, though, ‘Nocturnes’ feels a bit tired – ‘Broken Record’ (video below) even apes her own past hit ‘Stuck On Repeat’ lyrics-wise. But the results here feel somewhat less spirited.

6/10

Words: Jack Scourfield

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Hylton Symthe’s unofficial godson drones on, rhyming in Chris Eubank’s jodhpurs and tweed jacket, but replacing the monocle with a Terminator’s eyeball.

Obaro Ejimiwe is the know-it-all shoulder shrugger to Roots Manuva’s older guru. As his raps become more stretched and less-syllabic, idly, distractedly commenting on the world passing by outside, you remain drawn to Ghostpoet’s apathetic addresses that best served ‘Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam’ cold.

Patting you from the palm of his hand, he sits loftily, courting a preservation chamber lit by synths and orderly electronics capable of a domineering aspect set to an unhurried flicker: ‘Them Waters’ is something for new wave vampires to lock themselves into.

They toy with you like the bard himself, the quintessential Englishman sidling through (the glum-upon-ghostly ‘Dial Tones’), inexplicably breaking out into a mediaeval swing on ‘Plastic Bag Brain’. The sedated, understated authority, brooding with a Mensa membership but refraining from a finishing pincer movement, turns Ghostpoet into a wallowing post-apocalyptic crooner revealing few new layers.

In a dangerous game of substance against presence, gambling on less-is-more and the often excellently closed-in music to carry him home, his logic and peculiar magnetism – playing vulnerable on ‘Meltdown’ (video below) and Sloth Trot’, though he could just as easily not notice the isolation – keeps the geezer’s verve of a ‘I Just Don’t Know’ or ‘Cash And Carry Me Home’ at a distance.

Don’t mind Ghostpoet, he’s just on his hobby horse; leave him be, rocking away in the corner. In a way an ideal sequel, but it’s a missed opportunity to find out more about the man.

7/10

Words: Matt Oliver

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Ghostpoet reviewed some singles for Clash – read what he made of Little Mix, Primal Scream and more here.

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Glaswegian duo Mia Dora have stepped in to remix Grum's comeback single 'Everytime' – stream the results on ClashMusic.

Making his name during the frenzied rush of the mid Noughties electro scene, Grum was always more than a one trick producer. Flexible, able to stretch his awareness of house classics added a fun, frothy bounce to even his wildest moments.

Now, three years after his debut album, he's back. Grum's new track 'Everytime' is sheer house abandon, with that 4/4 shuffle pushed to the limit.

Out now via Beatport, the full release of 'Everytime' comes equipped with a remix from Glaswegian duo Mia Dora. It's Scot-on-Scot action, with the pairing adding a melancholic edge to Grum's production whilst retaining the essential spring of the original.

Listen to it now.

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'Everytime' is out now on Beatport, with a full release to follow on May 13th.

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Out towards the horizon, the sky and the sea seem to stretch endlessly out towards one another.

If they ever met, we imagine it's the sort of place Cloud Boat would inhabit. Half-theoretical, half-mythical and absolutely beautiful, the duo's music seems to float along barely impacting on the physical world.

Signed to R&S offshoot Apollo Records, the pair recently sealed off sessions on their debut album. Matching electronic awareness with an astute control of songcraft, new full length 'Book of Hours' arrives at the end of May.

Ahead of this, album track 'Youthern' will gain a standalone release on May 20th. A beautifully constructed piece of music, the song comes equipped with a strikingly shot video courtesy of You Ness.

Featuring Cloud Boat – Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke – throughout, the clip juxtaposes the duo with a young dancer. Evolving along its own unmistakeable path, you can watch the video first on ClashMusic.

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'Youthern' is set to be released on May 20th.

Mad Professor has stepped in to remix The Orb and Lee 'Scratch' Perry's collaboration 'Ball Of Fire'.

The infinite space suggests by dub music means that bass exploration will never be at an end. Each new generation seems to produce another batch of sub-low cosmonauts, soaring off into uncharted regions of the soundsystem.

Last year saw two sets of sonic cartographers pairing up. 'The ORBSERVER In The Starhouse' matched The Orb against Lee 'Scratch' Perry and the results were, in truth, fairly fascinating.

New release 'More Tales From The Orbservatory' contains a few more tracks from those sessions, with upcoming single 'Ball of Fire' acting as a succinct preview.

Out on May 13th, it comes equipped with a raft of new remixes. ClashMusic are able to present a re-working by none other than Mad Professor, a producer who has done more than anyone to push dub forward across the past two decades.

A skanking, dancefloor friendly cut with an exploratory bent you can stream it below.

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'Ball Of Fire' is set to be released on May 13th.

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Descending into The Nest there is only darkness, and disco. Red lasers and lights barely cut the gloom, bodies whisper to each other in the club's seated alcoves, or writhe under the barely-clad ladies of 1970s sexploitation film posters on the walls.

All it needs is Blondie doing rails off the bar and trannies offering handjobs in the loo and it could be a time-warp to Studio 54.

Right on cue, 'Ring My Bell' puts smiles on faces, because disco is the order of the day; dubby disco and deep house from three acts who have that sound nailed.

Psychemagik's producer/DJ pair of Danny McLewin and Tom Coveney are perhaps most known for their epic remix of Fleetwood Mac's 'Everywhere', which has been the hands-in-the-air record for right-thinking DJs for years. But aside from their remix and re-edit work, their psychedelic disco sound suffuses their original tracks and the records they play.

The Juan MacLean, noise rocker turned house DJ, scored a couple of hits with 'Give Me Every Little Thing' and 'Happy House' in the '00s and is a well-known stalwart on James Murphy's DFA Records.

The new kid on the block is Medlar of Wolf Music Records, a label for whom 2012 was a vintage year filled with disco-dipped deep house releases with just the right amount of jack to keep the floor rolling.

Medlar builds up the tension with progressively tougher cuts from the Wolf stable, from the slice of summer that is 'The Sun' to the garage snares and hi-hats of 'Can't Stop', bolted onto a great wedge of organ that shuffles and grooves.

Medlar's sound blends the early '90s organ and wobbly basslines that Glenn Underground would approve of, with the crisp swing and swagger of a very up-to-date, UK rhythm where vocal snatches are ruthlessly cut up and played back as stabs.

Playing back to back, Psychemagik bring with them a few of the re-edits they're known for, a rich vein of '70s flavour featuring a touch of James Brown, although Fleetwood Mac doesn't get an outing tonight.

Suddenly the place fills up – boys in shirts and jackets, girls with dreads and noserings, Friday-nighters, all-dayers – everyone's suddenly down the front.

Fortunately the world's most uptight bouncer is here to ensure that nobody leans on the rail, puts their coat or bag down, or attempts to dance on what could generously be called the “stage”. That doesn't stop anyone from trying, however, which leads to a standoff during which no one can hear what the other is saying anyway.

For the last half hour, Tom Coveney roughens up the beats, building up from deep, dubby disco with layers of chattering snares and highhats. They're a fine double-act.

Lean, rangy, cropped-haired, you could imagine that The Juan MacLean would be pretty convincing wielding a guitar. But once installed behind the decks he switches up to heavy New York-inflected house, sweeping between tracks loaded with piano and sax, woven with acid lines and fidgety beats.

Who can guess what demands Hackney's licensing department make or what fear they put into venues that laying your bag at your feet is considered unacceptable, but as long as there's house music like tonight to move to it'll take more than that to ruffle the feathers at this Nest.

Words and photo by Michael Parker

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Romare has stepped in to remix The Child Of Lov – listen to a re-vamped version of 'Fly' below.

Well, we do love it when a plan comes together…

Romare has been hotly tipped for some time, with the Black Acre affiliated producer pursuing an inspirational brand of Afro-Futurism. Stopping past our East Not-East night last year, the producer unveiled a beautiful live show which matched fluid, continually moving music to engrossing visuals.

The Child Of Lov, meanwhile, hasn't been short of praise either. Releasing his debut album via Double Six, the songwriter has left a deep impression with his vivid, dream like brand of pop electronics.

New single 'Fly' is set to be released on Monday (May 6th) and it matches both artists. Romare has agreed to re-work 'Fly' and – if we do say so ourselves – it's something special.

Listen to it now.

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'Fly' is set to be released on May 6th.

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Californian psych-poppers The Growlers have a gift. For this, the first night of two sold-out shows at The Shacklewell Arms in Hackney, that gift turns a manky cave into a buzzing surf-side club, where you’re considered a weirdo if you’re not dancing.

The Shacklewell may be a trendy east London hot spot, but that’s no excuse for its sound system to be as muddy as the neighbouring canal. Mixed with The Growlers’ layers of reverb, it makes the whole night pretty inaudible – summery psychedelia turned into a fuzz of noise.

Does it matter? Nope, not at all. It’s that gift. The simplest of melodies fight their way through, the percussion claws its way out of the actual hole the drummer is playing in, and the '50s guitar jangles from song to song.

While you can’t make out a word coming out of the mouth of front man Brooks Nielsen, the essence is there and that’s all that really matters. In a way, the fuzz in your face only adds to the eeriness of what the band calls "beach goth".

For those at the back, some of it may sound like screaming zombie corpses in the wings, with an air of The Monkees about it, of course. Further in, it’s more like a soundtrack to a Tarantino film – vintage, spooky, yet also so happy.

The crowd is loving it. The room, packed to the brim, is swaying, jumping and wooping like it’s a high school prom.

‘Graveyard’s Full’, the opener from 2010’s 'Hot Tropics' gets one of the biggest cheers of the night. Its slightly different feel and beat, verging on funk, breaks up the more similar tracks from this year’s release, ‘Hung at Heart’.  

But the new stuff goes down just as well. ‘Salt On A Slug’ could accompany a ride on a ghost train, and ‘Someday’ is beautifully manic.

‘Burden Of The Captain’ turns into a mass shout-along for its "more, more, more", sung at every opportunity, even though it’s only in the song about three times. ‘Row’ ends on a massive high with its excellent riff and bass, like a mangled version of ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’.

The Growlers, aided by vast amounts of whiskey, seem to bring together so many genres – psychedelia, garage, pop, funk, even disco – and just mould it into one hell of a good time, even if your lasting memory is dancing to white noise with a '50s guitar riff thrown in.

Next time, we can hope for a bigger and better venue: The Growlers totally deserve it. You just can’t do beach goth in these conditions!

Words by Gemma Hampson

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Of course, it was never supposed to be this way.

Still Corners began almost by accident, a success story which owed a debt to the kinetic pace of the internet. Snapped up by Sub Pop, the band were thrust into a world of media engagements, radio sessions and long journeys through the night across endless continents.

Experiencing a huge amount both as artists and people, Still Corners reconvened last year. Greg Hughes helmed sessions at his own studio, with singing partner Tessa Murray on hand to contribute throughout.

The results are gathered on 'Strange Pleasures' (read Clash's review here). Whereas the band's debut was heavily indebted to shoegaze textures, this new effort finds Still Corners exploring these influences in a new way.

There's a metallic sheen to the production, a tough beauty which recalls 80s synth pop. Electronic flourishes pepper the languid guitars, with the cold nature of the recording matched by Tessa Murray's warm, open, humane vocals.

Out now via Sub Pop, 'Strange Pleasures' is a subtle, beguiling return – something which holds its secrets close to its chest.

ClashMusic are able to present a UK exclusive stream of Still Corners' new album, alongside a track-by-track guide from Greg Hughes.

This is a collection of songs written directly after Creatures Of An Hour, we didn't think about any of it, Tessa and I just sat down and recorded. That's why it's called 'Strange Pleasures', because these songs were a little different for us but we loved them just the same. We wanted to create magic, let it all come out and not think about it too much. This is a record for the summer, for heat, for exploration, for love and rolling the windows down…

The Trip
I jotted the lyrics down when driving 36 hours from Minnapolis to Vancouver. Have you ever seen the sun come down over Montana? It's like a crack in the sky , orange and immense. There's nothing out there. It's easy to drive, the roads are straight. If everyone's asleep you're alone. This is a song for travelling.

Beginning To Blue
Sometimes you experience that moment when you're with someone and you realise that it isn't what it used to be, it was different, now it's all beginning to blue. Where there's love though there's hope so maybe some of you turn it around and make a new start, that's great too.

I Can't Sleep
Sleepless nights because the one you love isn't there and you just run films of them over and over in your head and it keeps you awake.

All I Know
The only knowledge obtainable by man isn't that life is meaningless as Tolstoy would have us believe, it's that we really don't know anything. Love, girls, boys, work, riots, etc., all unknowable. This is a song about the unknown and embracing it.

Fireflies
Life is a brief firework display just like a firefly, enjoy every moment of it as much as you can. Dance, sing and grab someone you love and make it count.

Berlin Lovers
Remember when you were young and being with the person you loved was all that mattered?

Future Age
Throw away your television…

Going Back To Strange
Sometimes you leave a place because it drives you crazy. Sometimes you leave that place and you're gone a long time. But after a while you start thinking about it again and little things you once loved start coming back to you. You inch closer and closer to it but you don't even realise it's happening. You eventually do return and go back to strange.

Beatcity
Dance until you drop dead.

Midnight Drive
When you can't sleep so you get in your car and drive. Maybe you're with someone. You look forward to getting lost out there. I've always been fascinated by driving in the city early in the morning, like 5am. Everyone is still asleep, the city is just waking up. The streets are empty – it's beautiful.

We Killed The Moonlight
A silhouette against a window at night. The room is bathed in midnight blue. It's late.

Strange Pleasures
Exploration, the desert, and love.

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Still Corners have confirmed the following shows:

May
3 Liverpool Sound City
4 Leeds Live At Leeds
5 Salford SFTOC / St. Philips Church
6 Brighton The Albert
8 Cambridge Portland Arms
9 London XOYO
10 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
11 Bristol Louisiana

Click here to buy tickets for Still Corners!

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