JPNSGRLS are a Canadian phenomenon, fusing dancefloor energy with indie songcraft.
A flamboyant live experience, the group have been able to piece together a series of Eps and one off singles.
Now, the band have outlined plans for their debut album. Out on April 6th via Light Organ Records, JPNSGRLS kept things as simple as possible in the studio.
"We wanted to get it sounding as live and raw as possible," guitarist Oliver Mann says. Long time friend Charlie Kerr offers: "something we said a lot in the studio was, 'What would the Pixies do?' We went with simplicity a lot of the time, and I think that's a really good thing."
Clash is able to premiere the video for 'Circulation'. Available as a free download for those who pre-order the album, it's a crisp encapsulation of this intoxicating Canadian group.
Check it out now.
Catch JPNSGRLS at the following shows:
25 Bristol Hit The Deck Festival
26 Nottingham Hit The Deck Festival
14 Brighton The Haunt (Bermuda Triangle), The Great Escape
Photo Credit: David Fyfe
BBC Introducing is one of the most important showcases for new music in the country, a place where countless careers have been made.
With strands in every region, the BBC Introducing team are able to shine a light wherever it is needed.
New compilation 'BBC Introducing Presents… Volume 1' is a twin-disc affair, featuring some of the brightest and best discoveries in the history of the project.
Out now, Clash thought it only appropriate to place some of the current BBC Introducing team in the hotseat for our weekly Singles Column.
– – –
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental – 'Bloodstream' – by Gareth Lloyd (BBC Introducing in Beds, Herts and Bucks)
This is the fourth track to be taken from Ed Sheeran's chart-owning 'X', an album that seems to have taken up rightful permanent residence around the top of the charts. For anyone doubting how long Ed can keep airplay domination up for, he's gone and joined forces with label roommate Rudimental to take it even further. With hypnotic bass lines and a drop that would shake your neighbour's house it's an inspiring assault on your senses. The gentle guitar-led verses perfectly conflict with the driving beat-frenzied chorus. Ed is able to shock and surprise with an unexpected musical journey.
– – –
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental 'Bloodstream' – by Dean Jackson (BBC Introducing in Nottinghamshire)
The track first released as an "instant grat" last Summer gets a Rudimental remix. It's a driving piece of mesmerising pop with Sheeran's effortless vocals gliding over the slick instrumentation which builds throughout. Having lulled us into suspicions of a gentle soulful composition the uplifting bass kicks in a euphoric fashion. I love the chunky bass layered over with the, at times, understated vocals. And just when you thought you'd got the template, in sneaks the brass! It won't appeal to the same crowd as 'Thinking Out Load' but it's not meant to. It reminds us of the many dimensions of Mr Sheeran and it's destined to be a landmark track of spring 2015.
– – –
Hudson Taylor – 'World Without You' – by Gareth Lloyd (BBC Introducing in Beds, Herts and Bucks)
'World Without You' is an insight into what we can expect from Hudson Taylor's debut album 'Singing for strangers'. With Irish flavours, a sprinkling of folk and a catchy melody it has everything needed to be a good pop tune. You can't knock the boys from Dublin with their perfect harmonies and a skill in writing a tune true to their routes but it just seems to lack something to take it from nice to great. It's a great tune and when the pounding heartbeat of a drum starts mid-track the roof of any live venue will be well and truly blown off but if this energy translates into a studio recording is questionable.
– – –
Ben Howard – 'Rivers In Your Mouth' – by Sophie Little (BBC Introducing in Norfolk)
There's a refreshing new pace and rhythm in this track that's not typically Howard and it contains the most satisfying guitar work on his album. A fleeting guitar slide that appears just twice is instantly nostalgic; it's a miniature treat almost Hendrix-esque in sound (and truly, there is no closer comparison). Some fans might miss big moments and perhaps a bit of light and shade – but they'll be overlooking how it stands up without that kind of pomp and performance as a decent and interesting melancholic lament.
– – –
Rae Morris – 'Love Again' – by Sophie Little (BBC Introducing in Norfolk)
A miniature Rae Morris lives in my ear, singing the chorus of 'Love Again' on repeat. No eviction required. A highlight on her debut album that feels like a signpost for where she might go next. It's an intelligent and emotive exploration of human yearning and vulnerability with Morris' recognisable key tinkling – but at the same time – a club-perfect, remix-craving, celestial anthem.
– – –
Saint Raymond – 'Come Back To You' – by Abbie McCarthy (BBC Introducing in Kent)
Since seeing Saint Raymond on the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury a couple of summers ago, I've become a big fan. This song has all the components of a great indie-pop record: ace vocals, a catchy, energetic melody and an anthemic hook. I'm looking forward to hearing his debut album later this year!
– – –
Faith No More – 'Superhero' – by Abbie McCarthy (BBC Introducing in Kent)
I heard this premiered on the Radio 1 Rock Show by Daniel P. Carter and right from the start it's loud, driving rhythm is a punchy statement that they are back, it immediately grabs your attention. They've been away for a long time (since 1997!) but Faith No More's spirit and attitude remains, their sound has developed to stand it's ground in the landscape of the music scene in 2015, but it's not completely different, it's still a classic sounding, raucous rock record. In fact, it's such a hard hitting epic noise it could easily be a superhero movie soundtrack. It's no surprise at all that bassist Billy Gould has said how comic books have inspired him as a song maker.
– – –
Eric Prydz vs CHVRCHES – 'Tether' – by Bethan Elfyn (BBC Introducing in Wales)
Although this is an oddly comfortable marriage of international superstar house producer, Eric Prydz, and Scottish electro-pop diamonds CHVRCHES, I can't help but wonder if the remix's loss of the melancholy slow-drip start of the original is its biggest flaw. I'm sure in the clubs it'll be 'da bomb' but give me the album anytime!
– – –
Paloma Faith – 'Beauty Remains' – by Bethan Elfyn (BBC Introducing in Wales)
Deep, soulful, retro, and best of all – simple. Paloma's belter of voice, hasn't always had the best songs to peddle, but here's a great classic track, that with a few listens has the prospect for ear-wormery. One of the few great pop stars around at the moment – vocalising, politicising, dramatizing, and flouncing like very few around her – seeing her work with a truly great piece of music would be something.
– – –
Madeon – 'Pay No Mind' – by James Santer (BBC Introducing in Devon)
When I first heard 'Icarus' I knew it would become one of my songs of 2012. But of course, 'Icarus' was an instrumental record, so let's break down the French producers latest offering 'Pay No More'. As an instrumental piece I had to triple check it wasn't in fact Nile Rogers making a guest appearance on guitar, it's fun, it's funky and at times replicates the best pop moments from Daft Punk's 'Discovery' (2:19) or Justice's 'Audi, Video, Disco' (3:50) but lacks the raw energy and power of previous work.
One of the major factors three years ago was that this 'kid' was only 17… Madeon can't boast that anymore, and I wouldn't be doing my job as a BBC Introducing presenter if I didn't suggest that there are now younger producers making great electro house tracks in their bedrooms and university dorm rooms… Duplex Sound, Takao, Libra and Joba Delirious are just some in Devon doing that very thing. But don't get me wrong. The 'Adventure Live' tour will be in full swing by the summer, and I'll be one of the first to make sure I'm part of his audience. I have faith that the live set and album will be a banger, even if this track is not.
– – –
First Aid Kit – 'Waitress Song' – by James Santer (BBC Introducing in Devon)
I didn't even need to listen again to First Aid Kit's latest 'Waitress Song' when approached to write a review. The album 'Stay Gold' was probably on constant rotation on the car stereo for about six months from last summer. This still does exactly what you would want and hope from the Swedish duo, stunning harmonies, stirring strings and lyrics that encourage you to paint vivid pictures of the American mid-West in your head. Go and get the album, it's one of the best of 2014.
– – –
'BBC Introducing Presents… Volume 1' is out now.
Jack + Eliza are a New York duo, a pair drawn together by a mutual love of music.
Between them, the pair have hatched a sound which is both sparse and affecting, gloriously fuzzed up and sharply melodic.
Debut EP 'No Wonders' was a cult success, with Jack + Eliza plotting to release their debut album 'Gentle Warnings' on June 9th.
New track 'Diamonds' is online now. Featuring production from Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, it's a bittersweet return, as beautifully intricate as the gem itself.
Check it out now.
Beth Jeans Houghton is ready to attempt something new, something different.
Adopting the Du Blonde moniker, the singer will release upcoming album 'Welcome Back To Milk' on May 18th.
Taken from said LP, new track 'Mind Is On My Mind' has been placed online. Du Blonde explains: “I wrote 'Mind Is On My Mind' on the back of a motorbike riding down the Pacific Coast Highway in LA and had to remember it all the way from Topanga to Malibu. I was interested at the time in writing songs with no repeating sections, but rather a succession of acts."
"A couple of months later, Sam (Herring) and I took a trip out to the desert and came back to LA to make some music. I played him the track and he got in the booth and ad-libbed his lyrics over the instrumentation. He was done in like one or two takes. When I was back in London I'd become obsessed with these Middle Eastern and Greek guitar scales and I added the lead guitar in the outro as a contrast to Sam's vocals.”
Featuring Samuel T Herring from Future Islands, it's an intense yet gorgeous listen – check it out below.
Catch Du Blonde live:
3 Brighton Green Door Store
4 London 100 Club
5 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
6 Bristol Louisiana
7 Nottingham The Bodega
9 Manchester Deaf Institute
10 Glasgow Broadcast
11 Newcastle The Cluny
24 Thirsk Deer Shed Festival
Photo Credit: David Chavennes
The Maccabees are set to release their fourth album later this year, a self-produced effort which promises to take the band in fresh directions.
A few moments ago, the group unveiled new single 'Marks To Prove It'. A visceral return, it's got an impact date of May 11th – but you can check it out below.
"These new songs are a reminder of why we started the band," says Hugo White. "With the enthusiasm to play music that's exciting and makes us excited."
Fancy checking the new material out live? Well, you're in luck as The Maccabees have pieced together four rather intimate tour dates:
11 Birmingham Institute
12 Glasgow ABC
13 Manchester Ritz
14 London Coronet
Photo Credit: Pooneh Ghana
Jon Phonics has a real sense of depth.
Born and brought up in London, the producer soaked in the sounds he heard around him – whether that was grime, 80s electro-funk or some classic house.
Elements of each creep into his music, with the selector's DJ sets going even further. Jon Phonics is set to hit London on Thursday night (April 2nd) to spin at the Book Club in Shoreditch, on a bill which also features a live set from Debruit.
Asked to provide a playlist, Jon Phonics decided to really push the eclecticism – check it out below.
– – –
Robert Rental – 'Double Heart'
I first heard this song maybe three or four years ago when I was discovering a lot of post-punk and no-wave stuff, mostly through reissues of Suicide etc. It's one of those songs that as soon I heard it, I felt like I’d known it forever. Sometimes, with the way music is consumed these days, it's easily forgotten what makes it so special in the first place. Music has a way of capturing and communicating emotions that words can't express. There's something in this song that optimises that feeling for me and – judging by the YouTube comments – I’m not the only one.
– – –
Robert Wyatt – 'At Last I Am Free'
This is an amazing cover of an equally amazing Chic track. I only really started getting into Robert Wyatt a couple of years ago and it started with this. The lyrics are obviously about a break up and the Chic version has this shiny, uplifting positivity to it, which is great and everything, but this version just seems to resonate so much more with me. That's probably because I’m English and everything here is grey and shit, so I tend to be a bit sceptical of anything that's shiny and overly positive. Robert's rendition also feels like it could be about anything, rather than just a break up song, like he's just got some good news about his blood tests or something.
– – –
Jaisu – 'Leaving The World Behind'
If you don't know Jaisu, he is a producer from Edinburgh and he is also the king. His record 'A Long Player' is out in April on my label, Astral Black and I couldn't be more happier about that fact. This track is maybe five years old or something and is a perfect example of why he's my hero. When I get together with other producers, we spend a lot of time listening to Jaisu beats or just talking about how dope the last batch he sent was. Jaisu has always been the understated best. You might say 'Jon you're biased', to which I say 'that's true.' But watch all his beat videos on YouTube, check his mixtapes and then you'll get an idea of where I’m coming from.
– – –
Group Home – 'Suspended In Time'
Obviously DJ Premier is one of the greatest and this 'Group Home' LP is definitely my favourite example of his work. The production on this track is particularly wavey, before wavey was even a thing. Lil’ Dap and Malachi The Nutcracker both have exactly what I like in rappers too – thugged out dudes, breaking their hearts over a beat. 18 year olds that you would not want to run into down a dark alley with lyrics like "I think about my soul, cos this shell is just a frame – only used for money, hustling and playing the game" and in the next video they are weighing crack on the scales… it doesn't get much realer than that.
– – –
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah – 'Heaven & Hell'
These early Wu albums were the first hip hop I became truly immersed in and Rae, Ghost and of course, the RZA, influenced me profoundly. Their slang, style and production are untouchable. The content on this track embodies for me the sound of those records and the poignant, contrasting messages within their music.
– – –
Lyman Woodward Organisation – 'Joy Road'
Lyman Woodward is a bit like jazz music’s J Dilla in the way that I would have been hearing a lot of his work as a producer but without realising he was the man behind it. I first heard the 'Saturday Night Special' LP after it's reissue on Wax Poetics in 2009. I have fond memories of listening to this song, riding the number 12 bus up Walworth Road in the sun shine.
– – –
Visual – 'The Music Got Me' (Instrumental Mix)
This is the instrumental version of Visual's 'The Music Got Me', produced by the legendary Boyd Jarvis. I did a b2b with my good pals Raj and Budgie (from Livin' Proof) at the Numbers' Pleasure Principle festival, we were playing in a tiny bar on top of a little hill and this one got the place rocking so hard I thought the bar was going to topple over.
– – –
Shadow – 'Let's Get Together'
A rare calypso gem, this one from Shadow. If you hit it right, the energy this can give the dancefloor is crazy. I think an edit got released a few years ago on wax but would love to find the OG.
– – –
Alhaji K. Frimpong – 'KyenKyen Bi Adi Mawu'
AKA the best song ever. A Ghanaian highlife classic, it's only from 1998 but sounds like it could be 20 years older than that. Shouts to Nick Bam for me putting me up on this one. Would like to listen to this whilst driving in the mountains one time, please.
– – –
The Fall – 'Rebellious Jukebox'
I often put this on my headphones when I first leave the house and it makes me walk dead fast. I always thought that if I ever made a movie, this would be the soundtrack to the opening titles. I went to go and see them at the Clapham Grand a few years back. They didn't play this unfortunately but my friend described Mark E. Smith as looking like a 'bus driver with a head made of paper mache', which made me laugh.
– – –
Jon Phonics is set to play the Book Club on Thursday (April 2nd) – details.
Abjects know how to have fun.
It's there in the stage show, it's there in the videos and it's there in the band's music.
Deliriously fuzzed up indie pop with just a shade of punk attitude, the London based trio released a cassette through PINS' Haus Of PINS imprint last year.
Since then, they've blazed through a series of shows before finding time to shoot a new video.
'Gone' is the title track of their upcoming EP, with Abjects throwing together Jon Spencer riffs, Debbie Harry vocals and more.
The accompanying visuals are pleasingly DIY – check it out below.
'Gone' EP will be released through Stolen Body Records on May 11th.
“We had two minutes to set-up, then got up and did our shit. I was like, ‘Okay, that’s what you do here.”
Nate Mendel is not used to the frantic scheduling of South By South West, and it’s probably been some time since he’s had to personally assemble his stage equipment. As bass player for international rock giants Foo Fighters, his is a well-oiled machine that no doubt leaves little room for spontaneity or error. But then, Nate is not here as part of his hard-rockin’ day-job, and it’s his embracing of change that finds him walking (largely unrecognised) through the streets of Austin.
He’s here under the guise of Lieutenant, a solo project that’s been five years in the making, which finds him stepping out of his comfort zone and into the spotlight, centre stage. The debut album, ‘If I Kill This Thing We’re All Going To Eat For A Week’, is out now on Dine Alone Records, and finds Mendel taking refuge from the Foos’ bombast in a more reflective, melodic indie outing. When Clash caught the band mid-week at SXSW, they were only three gigs old. Nate, understandably, looked shy yet assured on stage.
The next morning, the reality of going solo begins to hit hard – the prospect of press time and a handful of interviews lingers, but this time there’s nobody else to answer the tough questions. Is this a situation he’s comfortable with yet?
“I’m not uncomfortable with it, but it’s new,” he says. “I’m in a band with some pretty heavy extroverts, so when it comes time to do press they take up a lot of air space. So I’m just getting acclimated to having that space to fill… I like that happening – the responsibility of it,” he smiles. “It’s a different angle on making music. It’s really all on me, at this point, where I’m used to that responsibility being largely on Dave [Grohl’s] shoulders, but filtered through the rest of the band.”
Here in the maelstrom of new music showcases that is SXSW, in a downtown hotel where managers mingle, networkers network and weary revelers crumple onto couches, Nate may be an old dog, but he’s excited by the opportunities his new tricks are presenting here.
“There’s a little bit of a push from name recognition, but you realise pretty quickly that it’s a pretty level playing field,” he says, surveying the view from the windows behind him. “Like, there’s a thousand bands here, and I just feel like what we’re doing is just one of those grains of sand out there that doesn’t have any particular pedestal. (Laughs) But I like that, you know?”
“I think that the record that I made is interesting and I want to go out and figure out how to perform it live and do it in front of people, and hopefully generate a bit of an audience for it, like everybody does. And I like doing it in this kind of… I don’t want to say competitive environment, but that’s kinda what it is – I mean, you’re basically competing for people’s attention, and I like the challenge of that. ‘Alright, well, why should we care about what you’re doing?’ And you’ve got to figure out a way to make it compelling. So that’s cool.”
The first big question he faces from Clash is: how the hell did it take five years to make this record?
“I didn’t decide to make a record until a couple of years ago, with real focus,” he says, revealing that though the songs have been crafted over that long period, it was only more recently that he harnessed his intentions to polish them up and pull them together. “And as soon as I culled the best ideas from that herd and focused on them, then it happened pretty quickly.”
Not purely a solo mission, however, ‘If I Kill This…’ is awash with contributions from friends, including guitars by Helmet’s Paige Hamilton, Josiah Johnson from The Head And The Heart, and fellow Foo, Chris Shiflett, plus additional vocals by Nate’s ex-bandmate, Sunny Day Real Estate’s Jeremy Enigk. Though all add to the album’s innate depth and broad textures, it was Enigk’s input that helped most in enhancing what Nate felt was the album’s challenging obstacle.
“I sent the record to Jeremy and I said, ‘What do you think, man?’ He’s like, ‘I think it’s really, really good. I like it a lot. The weak part is your vocals.’ I’m like, ‘I know, that’s why I sent it to you.’ I’d never recorded my voice before. On demos, a bit, but no one else is in the room. So I thought, ‘When I get an engineer, they’ll know how to make it sound good.’ But you still have to sing it. So I had to find it. That was hard. That was difficult.”
– – –
– – –
The sound throughout ‘If I Kill This…’ is built on a grand scale. Having clearly enjoyed helming the creative process, Nate has explored textures, layers and styles to produce elaborate yet immersing songs, whose emotional core is all the more accessible through his modest vocals. ‘The Place You Wanna Go’ rings with Beach Boys harmonies, while ‘Rattled’ runs with Weezer-like riffs; the lilting ‘Some Remove’ is a warm, woozy, self-assuring hug, while ‘Sink Sand’ is somewhat more sombre. Its diversity and cohesion is a credit to Nate’s development as a team leader, and though there are moments where confidence and/or inspiration begins to thin, his ambition is to be applauded.
Bringing the album to life was naturally the next step. The group of musicians here in Austin with Nate has only recently been assembled – he only met the drummer a month ago – but the intentions are for the band to be an ongoing concern with a stable line-up (“A singer-songwriter and his group of hired musicians to me is always less compelling than a band,” he asserts). Overcoming his reservations about his voice in the studio is one thing, but how does he feel about doing it live? How’s it going to compare to being off-centre with the Foos?
“Oh, a stadium Foo Fighters show is far less challenging than playing to 30 people with this band,” Nate laughs. “Yeah, this is ten times more harrowing. Not that I mind it. Actually, I enjoy singing in front of people. The few times I’ve done it, I like it. But the challenge is in not having full confidence in it. How do you put on a good show with that knowing that you’re not at the top of your game? I think the key is just getting to the top of your game as quickly as fucking possible.”
After Texas, however, Lieutenant aren’t going to have much time for anything – the Foo Fighters’ summer tour starts in Europe next month, hitting the UK at the end of May and again in June, and will stretch all the way to October, having taken in Japan, North America, and their first trip to South Korea. Realistically, Nate reasons, there’s little chance of him doing any more writing or recording this year, never mind letting the world hear Lieutenant live.
Laughing off the suggestion that perhaps Lieutenant could support the Foos on tour, he considers whether the Foos’ staunch fan base would even like the album. “I haven’t talked to Foo Fighters fans about this, so I don’t know,” he chuckles. “The answer to that is I don’t know. I have assumptions… People say to me, ‘Oh, I’m surprised – it doesn’t sound like the other music that you’ve done.’ Well, man, that’s sort of the point.”
As the lure of the sun’s rays outside tempts Clash back into the 6th Street circus, Nate rounds up on his side-project’s fate, as the thought of putting it back in its box after these intimate dates plays on his mind. Is there life beyond the Foo Fighters? Can Lieutenant compete? The answer, Nate concludes, is that they probably won’t have to.
“Obviously Lieutenant is not going to be in the same league of stuff that Foo Fighters are doing,” he rationalises. “And there’s so much music out there, and people don’t really care about rock music that much anymore – it doesn’t have the same currency that it once did – so you know that the pool you’re looking at is, ‘Okay, I hope this is a record that somebody finds and it’s that obscure record that they like.’ That’s my game. This is not going to be a popular band, but I do want to make music that a handful of people find and appreciate. That would kinda be my goal.”
– – –
Words: Simon Harper
Photography: Katherine Squier
The simplest of things can be most effective.
Michael Baker's music is sparse, skeletal yet often deeply moving.
The songwriter has been perfecting his art for some time, working alongside producer Jim Lowe and Bristol-based Dan Brown.
New EP 'Keys To The Kingdom' arrives on April 27th, a succinct five track introduction to an artist with a deeply individual voice.
Ahead of this, Clash is able to unfurl the video for 'Dust And Bone'. Boasting the guest talents of Georgia Mason and production from Speakman Sound, it's a graceful, moving clip.
Check it out now.
Table Scraps strip things down as far as they can go.
Just drums, wires, voltage and hollering, the Birmingham duo's live shows have drawn comparisons to Royal Trux or Spacemen 3 in their dirty, dirge-like splendour.
Debut single 'Bug' collapsed in a heap after 90 seconds, while the band's upcoming debut album clocks in at just over 30 minutes.
Clearly, Table Scraps aren't in the mood for hanging around. New track 'Electricity' fizzles and crackles around a seismic riff and some leather jacket attitude.
Deviant, debauched behaviour, you can check out the video below.
'Electricity' will be given a single release next month – watch out for Table Scraps' debut album 'More Time For Strangers' in June.