Clash are delighted to announce their partnership with purveyors of cutting edge high street fashion River Island, in their upcoming 'Select' sessions.

A series of intimate gigs showcasing an array of exciting young artists will play Concrete, Shoreditch's premier live music venue, over three weeks in October.

Launching on 9th October with Blaenavon, a wildly talented three piece from Hampshire, who at the tender age of 18 are already creating quite the stir.

The boys – Ben Gregory, Frank Wright and Harris McMillan – have been garnering acclaim since the release of their infectious debut single 'Into The Night' and their follow-up EP 'Koso' released last autumn.

Fans of Wild Beasts and Maccabees should definitely pay specific attention. Further sessions are due to take place on 16th and 23rd October, respectively.

Watch this space for the upcoming headliner announcements.

For your chance to attend one of the sessions, please email [email protected] stating 'Blaenavon' in the subject.

Entry closes 7th October 2014.

Photo Credit: Neil Bedford

Related: Next Wave – Blaenavon

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On the surface, Neon Waltz could seem like just another bunch of indie hopefuls.

Dig beneath this, though, and there's something remarkable in there – a true diamond in the rough. Unlike the rather wafer-thin indie hype stories we've been fed these past few years, the band seem to have some substance, the will to do something different.

They cover Deerhunter, they worship at the throne of lost Liverpool legend Michael Head and they play secret shows in an abandoned castle turned arts commune.

Freswick Castle lies in a remote location, not too far from John o' Groats. Accompanied by Far North films, Neon Waltz played a special performance there last week, a final salute to friends and family before heading back out on tour.

Caught live, it's a tantalising prospect. 'Sundial' has that 'Nuggets' style Vox organ sound, chiming guitars with a stuttering, almost Beefheart style rhythm and an epic, soaring vocal.

It's not perfect – no band at this stage is – but there's something in there, an unerring, youthful charm which pushes aside those early doubts.

Check it out below.

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There's something classic within the soul of JP Cooper.

Signed to Island, the rising talent supported Angie Stone earlier this year. New EP 'Keep The Quiet Out' swiftly followed, a dextrous demonstration of a talent about to flower.

Since then, the singer has been relatively quiet. JP Cooper is set to play the Island Life Show with George The Poet October 13th – ticket link – but ahead of this the London singer has unveiled new track 'Satellite'.

It's a soft, dextrous composition, with folk edges laden around his soulful voice. There are traces of hip hop, too, both in JP Cooper's delivery and the production itself.

Could this lead to something new? Too early to tell, but it's heartening to see such a precocious artist take another forward step.

Check it out now.

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New York five-piece The National has risen from off-radar also-rans to a globally known indie phenomenon over 15 years and six studio albums. The band’s latest LP, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ (review), was released in May 2013 and earned a Grammy nomination, while charts-wise it went to number three in both the UK and US.

Fronted by the distinctive baritone of Matt Berninger, with the line-up completed by Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan and Scott Devendorf, The National are to finish their ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ touring with a massive show at London’s o2, on November 26th. Ahead of that, Clash got on the phone to bassist Scott for a little catch up.

– – –

‘Graceless’, from ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

– – –

The National has grown in profile with every album. Do you have an idea of how big the band can become – and how you’ll respond when you get there?

I guess we have been at this for a while, so it’s been a very slow, progressive thing for us. Everything that’s happened to the band, we’ve been excited about, and we’ve seen a whole lot of stuff happen beyond our expectations. For me, I think we’ve been taking small steps all of the way, so we’ll just have to see how it continues. It is weird that the stuff we would wish for a few years ago, we’re now able to do, and have – like going all around the world, playing shows and festivals. So, I don’t know if there’s ever been a target, or a goal, in mind.

Do you ever wonder what the you of 1999 would make of the you of 2014, with The National positioned as it is today?

Yeah, I don’t think I’d have had any idea back then. We started the band as something to do after work, to play music together. It was a hobby. But steadily it became a bigger thing – first in New York, and then beyond. We were always inspired by bands around us, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol – and we’d see their successes, and I suppose want some of that for ourselves. There was always stuff going on for us, in the beginning, but I guess that everything changed, and became more serious, around (2005’s) ‘Alligator’.

So it was that period leading up to ‘Alligator’, your third album, where you really locked into the band as a full-time thing?

Yeah, and signing to Beggars Banquet was a big thing for us. ‘Alligator’ was on a proper label, with good distribution and a great reach. We loved being on our own label (Brassland), but there was only so much we could do. I think on ‘Alligator’, we came to realise a more coherent sound, and that combined with the better record label… I don’t know, but whatever it was, it worked.  

– – –

The formative years for the band were really important. That definitely keeps us in check when we’re doing things today…

– – –

When you were on Brassland, I know you came over to tour here in the UK – you stayed at my house, as weird as that might sound, as my housemates worked for your distributor of the time. I was out for the night, so I missed you. But having done that kind of cramped-van, crashing-with-strangers touring, I guess you don’t take what you have now for granted?

That definitely means that whatever we do now, however we travel and wherever we stay, we don’t take any of it for granted. The formative years for the band were really important. And at the time it was still a lot of fun. You don’t forget those tours, when the trips were on tighter budgets. We did as much as we possibly could, within our means. I have good memories of back then – and we got out to a whole lot of places. Being able to travel was great. That definitely keeps us in check when we’re doing things today, things that are way different.

Sticking to growth, are you able, this far into making music together, always able to find new forms of expressing yourselves, when you get together to write material?

I mean, every time we make a record, we’re aiming to do something different from before. Though I’d say we do have a distinct sound, something that is ours – but we like to push towards the edges of that. We think about the things we enjoy about our sound, and how best to push that into new spaces. We kind of get bored with what we’ve done previously, in a way. There are always things we like about past records – but we’re always looking to record in new ways, or with different people, to freshen things up. But it’s always a challenge. Especially as there are now public expectations surrounding our records. Anytime we make a new record, we get that challenge again. And hopefully we meet it, without upsetting our audience.

Well, it’s not like you’re about to make some freak-out jazz album. But do you think that having such a prominent frontman, with such a distinctive voice as Matt’s, gives you guys some freedom to go off-piste more, arrangements wise, than peers without such an immediately recognisable element in their music?

Yeah, I understand where you’re coming from there. Matt has such a distinctive voice, which we love – but we also have ways of writing music that we love, too. We have our range. But Matt is maybe our calling card, I guess. Everyone contributes, though, in their own ways – and while Matt doesn’t play anything, he’s not uninvolved in the making of the music.

– – –

‘I Need My Girl’, from ‘Trouble Will Find Me’

– – –

Something that I find interesting about you guys is that you’re unafraid to bring outsiders into your creative processes – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, for example, features a wealth of contributors, from St. Vincent to Richard Reed Parry, from Arcade Fire. And you had Sufjan Stevens playing piano on 2007’s ‘Boxer’.

That’s the whole idea, to help us explore more sides to our own music. We’re five people who have played together for this number of years, and it’s nice to get that outside opinion. We’re quite an open band, and part of our recording process is to pile everything on and then begin to strip it away, and that’s where those outside voices can be great. That can take a long time, and having other people involved on a song helps us to find somewhere else to take it, perhaps when we’re struggling with quite how to reach that finished state.

The last few albums have arrived in three-year cycles, so do you have any plans in place for a seventh LP to come out in 2016?

Well, we’re slowly coming to the end of our touring for this album – I think we have three more shows. And then I think everyone is going to take some time off, some time apart from each other. And then we’ll begin to think about next year, when we’re going to write, and where, and how we might record. We have no specific plans in place yet, but there won’t be any kind of five-year gap between albums or anything like that. We have put a new record out every three years since ‘Boxer’, but that’s just how it’s come, naturally. I don’t feel we’ve ever rushed anything, nor that we need to. And that’s the same way I feel now. We’ll recharge in the next few months, and then get back together. It’s all fun.

– – –

Words: Mike Diver
Photos: Deirdre O’Callaghan

The National are online here. See them live as follows:

26th – The o2, London, with Wild Beasts

Related: Slow Show: The Evolution of The National

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Breaking through in 2012, Vanilla Ace is now an international phenomenon.

Making serious in-roads across the United States, the DJ has even taken his sound – fluorescent house, disco overtones with a jagged edge – all the way to India.

Returning home for a quickfire series of shows, Vanilla Ace had just enough time to finish off another party stopper.

Initially a product of the imagination of DJ Cassidy, 'Make The World Go Round' is a smooth R&B groove which benefits from some bonus contributions by the one and only R. Kelly.

In the hands of Vanilla Ace, though, it becomes a stripped down house monster. Arriving just in time to keep us warm as the temperatures begin to dim, the London producer retains the vital elements – R. Kelly's beseeching voice, that R&B shimmer – and lays over some frenetic dancefloor action.

Arms aloft fare, expect this to become a major feature of a Vanilla Ace set while summer turns to autumn.

Check it out now.

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The Russell Athletic Facebook page bio reads, ‘Team is not something you do alone. Team is plural’, which is both a nice attitude to have, in life, generally, and a clever token message from the brains behind the brand, gently summing up just what the sports label is about.

With over a hundred years experience in the cotton sweatshirt industry – securing its reputation over a decade period from the late ‘50s up until the late ‘60s, when Russell Athletic provided sportswear to all of the eight Ivy League universities – in 2014 it’s the good old days™ that make for the strongest collection reference.

For AW14 this means contemporary interpretations of well versed aesthetics – tees, jerseys and hoodies – each in bold, team appropriate shades such as red, blue and black, with decoration via typically retro flocking, embroidery and applique. 

Now pick a team.


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One of the defining independent labels of the past 20 years, DFA Records is known for a certain sound.

Post-punk fused with modern techno, their dystopian visage is often matched to a potent, heady disco brew.

But recently, the label has diversified. Dan Bodan's forthcoming album on DFA verges on jazz territory, while Slim Twig is a true original.

Loosely billed as baroque pop due to his subtle orchestral leanings, the songwriter's art-rock poise is similar to, say Scott Walker's initial solo endeavours.

New track 'All This Wanting' is online now – check it out below.

Slim Twig is set to release new album 'A Hound At The Hem' on December 1st.

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Joe Cole has got his head screwed on. At the grand old age of 25, he’s already made some smart career decisions that belie his years.

First rising to prominence in critically acclaimed Channel 4 drama series Skins in 2012, in the short time since he’s impressed with roles in British youth reformatory drama Offender and, of course, Steven Knight’s 1919-set Birmingham gangster drama Peaky Blinders. This by way of cancer tearjerker Now Is Good and parts in British television’s The Hour, The Thick Of It and Playhouse Presents. Yep, that’s right. All in just two years.

We’ve arranged to meet at a flat in southeast London to talk about the new series of Peaky Blinders. The first series was so well received it’s captured the attention of telly bigwigs across the Atlantic, and it’s soon to be made available to viewers on Netflix over there, with both series running together as a thrilling 12-parter.

– – –

Peaky Blinders, series two trailer

– – –

Joe’s estuary tones come sing-songing through the door before the rest of him follows. He’s striking – with strong features and a head of glorious red-tinged hair (good TV hair, some might say). If you only know Joe from Peaky, with that soft Brummie accent and slick, brown, cropped hairstyle, it’s kind of a surprise. Of course, if you think he’s the Aston Villa midfielder (many do – Total Film referred to him recently as the identically-named footballer, which Joe drew amusement from tweeting), it’s even more of a surprise.

Anyway, he’s keen for a cuppa, and a conversation sparks up about how to brew the perfect cup of tea. “This is like a scene out of The Royle Family!” he laughs, as we discuss milk in first, agitation techniques and brew time.

Now’s probably the time, then, to turn the conversation to the grittier world of early 20th century gangsters – while Peaky Blinders is a work of fiction, its premise is based in reality. Writer Steven Knight’s relatives were involved in the gang whose name the series is taken from: they used to sew razor blades into the peaks of their caps to use as lethal weapons.

“His granddad and his great uncles were mixed in with that world,” Joe explains. “He heard a lot of stories about these mythologised gangsters, and he found the whole thing quite seductive and he subsequently wrote Peaky Blinders about it.”

While a series like Boardwalk Empire, the lavish American HBO episodic prohibition-era drama with which it has parallels, is bound by historical documentation to stick – to some extent – to known accounts and real-life characters, Steven found a freedom in this material.

“He wasn’t tied down by the constraints of fact,” says Joe. “A lot of what they did and what happened was purely fabled within Birmingham. It wasn’t actually put down on paper, so Steven had free rein. He wanted to create this sense of mythology and to glamorise them [through the storytelling].”

Joe is interested in the comparison to Boardwalk Empire, mostly because it highlights the differences between the dramas. “Peaky Blinders is more of a family drama. There’s more in the relationships between the brothers and the matriarch – Helen McCrory’s character (Aunt Polly Gray).”

But that isn’t to say it’s insular. “In the new series, there are more gangsters and the world’s expanding; they’re moving to London and things are changing,” says Joe. “It’s not just behind the doors of the illegal betting shop – you actually see a lot more of this world.”

As a family drama, it seems fitting, then, that Joe’s younger brother, Finn, is joining the cast for the second series. Joe, who grew up in Kingston in a household with four younger brothers, drew on his childhood to inform his portrayal of John Shelby, a young father of four whose wife has died.

– – –

I just had this light bulb moment. I’d just sold an 18 by 20 thick-pile carpet and I remember thinking this was not for me…

– – –

“I’ve been surrounded by kids for as long as I can remember,” he says. “My house has always been a madhouse. There are parallels with the Peaky Blinders family, just because there were never less than six people in the house, and there was often up to 15. It was just crazy. So you pick up things.”

As the eldest, Joe admits to having had some responsibility for his brothers, but he would have also surely been a role model. It’s no wonder that Finn wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but Joe is humble at suggestions he’s been an influence: “Finn always wanted to find his own path – he was very keen and showed a real energy and passion for acting.”

So it’s an enthusiasm Joe spotted and encouraged?

“He just kept nagging me,” he says. “I batted him off, actually, but eventually I said, ‘I’ll talk to [the show’s producers] if you read the lines and you figure out the character and you learn the accent and you learn the scenes. You do the preparation, and I’ll film you doing it.’ He put in the work and, credit to him, he worked very hard at it and he got his just desserts.”

So what about Joe? Did he have anyone that helped him along the way with his ambitions? For the eldest boy in the family, it was a different story.

“I’ve been acting for about six years now but I never really set out to be an actor. I messed up at college, didn’t get the grades I needed. So I went back to my old sixth form, re-took. I was in my brother’s year while all my mates were travelling and off at university and stuff like that, and I was selling carpets and coffee.”

Did he feel left behind?

“I just had this light bulb moment. I’d just sold an 18 by 20 thick-pile carpet and I remember thinking this was not for me.”

He made a decision to knuckle down and work harder than anyone else he knew, got in to the National Youth Theatre and his career took off from there. “I met an incredibly inspiring director who gave me some belief. I did a play with them and then I started working. I got an agent and started writing, too. I was creating my own work and doors were opening through that.”

He’s currently penning a comedy series with Matt Lucas, which he’s hoping will get picked up. It’s based on a gang of boys he knew at school that were stealing and selling cars. Other aspects of his background have presumably informed the script.

Joe says: “I’ve worked in pupil referral units, doing anti-knife crime. I was working with ex-offenders and people like that. And there were so many different characters [at my school]. Some of these people, even some kids, even 14-, 15-year-old kids, they know how to be quite intimidating. I found that quite interesting and I’ve tried to replicate that.”

– – –

Peaky Blinders, series one recap

– – –

Joe may not have done well academically but he’s more than making up for it now, with a talent that’s earned him a shedload of praise and an impressive work ethic that’s allowed him to combine acting with writing, and goodness knows what else. He also seems to have the golden touch when it comes to choosing projects to work on, selecting jobs that interest him over any old Hollywood nonsense. It’s generally an equation that adds up to longevity and acclaim.

“I think a lot of young actors believe that America – if you go to Hollywood – is the achievement. But it’s just about doing the best projects.” In Joe’s case, that means Green Room, Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier’s next film about a punk band in peril.

“I’m out filming in Oregon for two months from the end of September. It’s a crazy, crazy script. Everything just feels like it’s moving in the right direction. Some people talk about what superhero they want to play but for me, I much prefer playing a [great] character, working with interesting people and finding this sort of stuff.”

Does he find it more challenging?

“I don’t know,” he sighs. “I find it more fulfilling. I guess it is, in a sense, but there is a challenge in being able to take yourself seriously when you’re dressed in pants over your spandex.”

Keep making those smart choices, Joe, and you’ll be just fine.

– – –

Words: Kim Taylor-Foster
Photos: Liam MF Warwick

The second series of Peaky Blinders is on BBC Two on Thursday nights (starting October 2nd), with catch-up available on BBC iPlayer. The DVD and Blu-ray of the series is available from November 17th. More information here

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An international group – three Brits and an Aussie – Sunset Sons were brought together by a love of surfing.

It's there in their material, a brash yet supple mixture, one born from the endless expanse of nature. It was also their in those early shows, which took Sunset Sons around the UK in search of the perfect, shuffling from Penzanze to Caithness in the process.

Now they're ready to take their sound to the world. Seemingly out in Nashville right now, new EP 'No Bad Days' is released on October 26th.

Ahead of this, Sunset Sons have placed the video for 'Remember' online. Strong, strident songwriting with no small degree of emotion, this is open, accessible music, almost tailor made to occupy massive venues.

Check it out now.

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There's something slightly out of time about Syd Arthur.

The four piece hail from Canterbury, an area closely linked to psychedelia thanks to the efforts of Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers et al.

Yet there's a blues edge, a directness which contrasts to their fluid rhythm section. New single 'Autograph' drops on October 6th, via resurrected imprint Harvest Records – the original run of which catered for afore-mentioned troudabour Kevin Ayers.

With flecks of acoustic folk in their songwriting, 'Autograph' is perfect for the gentle decline of summer and the introduction of autumn. Bullion has stepped in on remix duties, adding swathes of electronics to the mix.

It's a nice re-work, respectful to the original but with a desire to try something new.

Check it out below.

Syd Arthur have confirmed the following shows:

17 Bristol The Louisiana
18 Birmingham The Sunflower Lounge
20 Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
21 Glasgow Broadcast
23 Leicester The Cookie Jar
24 Hull Adelphi
25 Newcastle The Cluny
26 Sheffield The Leadmill
27 Folkestone Quarterhouse
29 Brighton Komedia
30 Southampton The Joiners

1 London Dingwalls
2 Manchester Band on the Wall

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