Sharing the chevelure and initial letters with Hanson, it should be obvious to draw a comparison between the boy band darlings of the 90’s and girl group Haim. Yet, there is an originality of difference between the two. Where Hanson obliged to the commercial conventions of popular music, Haim rather makes a virtue out of retaining their own original sound.
The signature elements of tom-tom drum fills, conspicuous guitar riffs and middle sister Danielle’s timeless vocal, the genealogy of which shows traces of Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), Tracey Thorn (Everything But The Girl) and Alanis Morrisette, indicates that the sisters respectfully recognize their influences, yet is also given the postmodern privilege of patterning the puzzle in new ways, most obvious in the at times unfavourable overtones of subsequent overdubbing.
Exactly the ratio between electronic and acoustic elements influences their sound for better or worse. Most recent single ‘The Wire’ serves to illustrate; if one listens to the more than a year old demo of the song on YouTube, you will hear a much more stripped down and less mastered version of the track than the official single released about a month ago. Though it might be put down to their choice of record label, that of international conglomerate Universal, the excessive postproduction appears a little redundant taking the sisters’ – all of whom are proficient on more than one instrument – musical mastery into consideration.
Growing up in a hypermusical family in San Fernando Valley, a place mostly known for its favourable weather conditions as well as being home to the adult industry, the girls’ talent is nature-given. Copenhagen concertgoers got more than a glimpse of this genetic coherence at the group’s August gig at Lille Vega, where the three sisters sang, played and charmed their way into the hearts of the crowd. Also the attendants got to have experience big sister Este’s (in)famous ‘bassface’ firsthand, the scapegoat of many a meme and gif, that in inscrutable ways probably has helped the group reach an even greater and perhaps unlikely audience.
With their debut album released today it seems like the perfect time after names like Twin Shadow, Kindness and Blood Orange have primed the ground and forefronted the turn towards the retro-sound of the late 70’s and 80’s. Likewise these acts, Haim represents a turn away from the pompous and perfectionism surrounding many artists on the contemporary music scene with their sympathetic and down-to earth attitude. A dimension in which they could actually resemble the Hanson-brothers.
You might be interested in
A new album is out with dream pop trio Au Revoir Simone. Here Today met with Annie Hart prior to the bands rehearsal hour. Among other things we talked about the time that had passed, the title of the new album, Move In Spectrums, and cover art.
Ten years ago Erika Forster and Annie Hart met on train heading for New York. They shared a dream of an all-keyboard band. Fast forward two years and Au Revoir simone releases their first album: “Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation”. Another two years: Second album “The Bird of Music”. Yet another two years: ”Still Night, Still Light”.
It seems like a pattern, but no. Four years has gone by and in world of pop-music that is quite a while, but to Annie Hall it did not seem so:
“After the release of Still Night, still Light we where on tour for about 2 years. At that time I got pregnant, still we kept touring until I was about 8 months in. I had the baby and still we where playing shows. About one and a half year ago we began making this record. So much has happen in between these two albums that it does not feel like four years has past.” says Annie Hart.
Doing those four years Au Revoir Simone have matured as songwriters. Move In Spectrums is honest album stripped from any attempts of being “poetic”, Annie Hart explains, but finding a title for the album was a challenge. Erica went away to a meditation retreat upstate in the woods.
“The yoga teacher mentioned we move in spectrums with our feelings. It is not all black and white, you are not really angry or really happy, but there is kind of spectrum. You can shift yourself along these lines, between these feelings; you don’t have to be happy or sad, you can be in the middle or leaning one way or the other like a meter.
When she said that frase – move in spectrums – we where like ‘that is the perfect title for a record’ and we all started jumping up and down,” recalls Annie Hart.
Bright neon colors
A spectrum can also be a spectrum of light – like a rainbow – and the band where looking for excactly that kind of cover. Something Pink Floydish like a prism, as Annie Hart puts it. They had their eyes on Berenice Abbott, a female photographer, that worked twenty years to “prove that photography was the medium uniquely qualified to unite art with science”, but when they found out, what it would cost to use her images, they began to look in other directions.
During that time photographer Amelia Bauer and flower arranger Elizabeth Parks Kibbey collaborated on a project called Book Of Shadows; a series of still lifes based on magic spells. Especially one of the photographs enticed the band because of the way it combined flowers and nature with bright neon colors and black.
“We and really wanted to do something with bright neon colors for this record becuase we felt that this record felt more alive, present and vibrant than our records had in the past. We wanted more a direct, vibrant sensation and we thougth that that photograph was just so beautiful and that it captured that feeling,” says Annie Hart.
Move In Spectrums is released today (23.09.2013). You can stream it at NPR
You might be interested in
Here Today: So I hear you formed in Chichester, sort of out of boredom. Why was Chichester not floating your boat?
TRAAMS: Well it’s weird, we did form in Chichester, but it was more about getting out of Bognor [Regis], really. That’s we’re all from originally, and we all moved around a bit, and formed the band after years of knowing each other. But yeah, it’s true in a sense, because there aren’t many places to play in Chichester. There’s not really much of a scene here. There’s lots of musicians, but nothing real.
HT: So it was like a reaction?
TR: Yeah, definitely. When we first formed we knew we would have to play London and Brighton a lot, and it’s good now that we’re going to other places. We thought the band might be able to help us escape.
HT: So I hear you’re based in Brighton now? How does it compare?
TR: Oh, it’s a lot better, for the music scene at least. But we practice in Ford, and we do a lot of our writing there. It’s nice to not be in a city environment to get stuff done. Brighton is quite distracting, it’s hard to not go out every night.
HT: So you’ve had pretty good feedback on ‘Grin’ so far. Excited about the release?
TR: Yeah, it’s great, we’ve seen a few reviews and a lot of people seem to be liking it, which is great news, because obviously, being a debut you don’t really know where you stand. We haven’t really gigged much, so we’re still figuring out what people think of us, really.
HT: And do you have a favourite track or something you especially like about the album?
TR: When we were sorting out what tracks to put on the album, we had loads of songs to choose from, so everyone has different favourites. Some are my favourite playing, some are my favourite to listen to… I really like “Headroll”. That’s a nice long one that’s really fun live.
HT: That’s my favourite too!
TR: Oh really? Maybe I’m bias because there’s a massive bass solo in it.
HT: It struck me that there are a few different atmospheres on the album, like “Flowers” which is loud and fast, and “Headroll” which is almost like a driving song.
TR: Well, “Flowers” we wrote in our first ever band practice, and we thought “oh that’s nice, we should probably do this every week. It was about finding our feet really, we just wanted to try different things out, and the albums just the result of loads of different ideas that we had when we first started, so it was sort of by accident really. We didn’t expect to have an album where some of the songs might be eight minutes and some of them would be two. We didn’t expect to have an album full stop. But, I think it works in context on the album. Live, we mess around a bit more, and moving forward we might try to focus on one or the other approach, but I quite like the mashup.
HT: I heard that you recorded a lot of the album live. Why did you make this decision? And what’s a TRAAMS live experience like?
TR: We really try and be well rehearsed, and that’s why a lot of the recordings are done live. We also thought that if people want to see us live, we want it to be as close to the album as possible, especially being a three piece, there’s not much we can do onstage. Everyone’s got a job each, we can’t go crazy in the studio, letting stuff down and adding too many bells and whistles, but it’s basically just a loud, three piece band, really. Nothing out of this world, but we try and be really loud. Me and the drummer especially. We really try and tighten, which leaves Stu [the singer] to make as much of a racket as he wants. Wear earplugs.
HT: That’s something I noticed, listening to the record. You and the drummer play a really big role, you’re very tight and the rhythm seems very important.
TR: Yeah, I knew Adam before I met Stu. We grew up together and we’d been in a band together. When we were younger we listened to loads of Interpol, Vision, and Kings of Leon almost where the bass and the drums are playing the same thing, it’s like one band member. We try and treat TRAAMS like a two piece, in a way. Me and Adam are doing one job, and Stu’s doing one job as well, singing and playing guitar at the same time. Four sounds, but two members, in a very weird way. When I was in a band with him before I was on guitar, and it was like “why aren’t you playing bass? I know exactly what you’re gonna play next.” I can just lock in with that. That’s part of building the song, making sure me and Adam compliment each other to create one driving force.
HT: I really liked the video for “Flowers.” Was it fun to shoot?
TR: Yeah it was lots of fun to shoot. We just did it in the garden. James Burgess directed it, and he’s brilliant. He plays in Boneyards, but he’s done videos for Flamingods and The History of Apple Pie. We really wanted to do it with him, he came up with the idea, and so we just spent loads of money on loads of custard, died it green and threw it at each other in the garden. It didn’t take too long. Good job it was a sunny day, as well. We’re really glad with the outcome, and we just wanted a fun video. Hopefully if we do get to make more videos they’ll all be stupid, having fun. I don’t think serious videos would work with our music
HT: So the custard’s not symbolic in any way?
TR: Nah, it was quite nice, it broke some tension. It was quite nice to just being able to throw a load of custard at Stu, and vice versa. I think that’s the way we should do it. If we do get to make more videos it would be nice to do story lines, maybe even like The Lonely Island, where they’re just taking the mick out of life.
HT: Is that a big part of your band’s ethos then, taking the mick out of life?
TR: In a way, just not taking things too seriously. It’s just very hard to, when you’re doing exactly what you want. I get to make music with my best friends, and you can’t get luckier than to do what you want, so you just have to react in a way that says “this might not happen forever, let’s just have fun.” We can’t really relate when we’re playing with other bands and they’re all deadly serious about what they’re doing. You know, good luck to them, but I don’t see it that way. It’s weird.
HT: Talking of other bands, you’ve been supporting some pretty cool names recently, like Fidlar and Temples. What was it like working with and supporting them?
TR: Oh, brilliant. They’re all great. It’s nice to play with a band where you know the record very well before you even get to the gig. Fidlar were a lot of fun, especially the crowd. Again, it’s weird that we do get to play with band’s that are a slightly different genre but where we do fit in sometimes. We’re going to go see Temples again tonight, they’re fun lads.
HT: And the British indie scene is in quite a good place right now, wouldn’t you say?
TR: Oh yeah, there’s way too many good bands at the moment. They’re all popping up out of nowhere from all over the place, there’s not one particular scene. But MJ [TRAAMS, Hookworms] seems to be producing them all, so maybe he’s the secret… At the end of the day, we’re all just rock bands, but it’s hard to fit in a scene when all these bands are from different places. But it’s great when you get to play with them at all these different festivals.
HT: So do you think it’s almost easier to be in a rock band at the moment when you’ve got other bands around to support you?
TR: It definitely helps when there are other bands doing similar things, getting shows and things, but there are also a lot of musicians out there who are really pushing things forward, making amazing albums, but it might be harder for them to get involved, supporting other bands, or vice versa. If you’re making really original music, it needs to stand alone.
HT: So what do you really want the audience to take away from the album?
TR: Have fun, form a band! There’s no big secret with us, we’re pretty straightforward.
TRAAMS’ debut album ‘Grin’ is released on the September 16th, on FatCat Records.
You might be interested in
Scarlet Chives release their second album, ‘This is Protection’ on Monday. We sat down to talk to lead singer Maria Mortensen, about feeling cosy in a freaky way, a cabin in the Swedish woods, and naked people.
Here Today: So the new album ‘This is Protection’ is about to be released. Excited?
Scarlet Chives: Yes very much. It was very easy to make, but the finishing process has been very long. Now we’re just excited to find out if people like it.
HT: So where did the name of the album come from?
SC: Well the theme of the album is just about admitting that there has to be other people around you, or else nothing’s worth anything. So it’s very simple, but that’s why the album is called ‘This is Protection’, because other people are your protection.
HT: So where did the album start? Was it one particular song or event that triggered it?
SC: Well we’d been playing our old album for a very long time because it came out in Denmark, and then came out in Norway almost a year later. We started touring the old album again after it had been finished for almost two years, so we didn’t really have too much time to make new music. As soon as we got time to see each other again to just write music, people started doing sketches [of songs] for the band, and we just got together and made the album very fast because we had been so excited to make new songs for a very long time. It wasn’t like we wrote one song and it made sense to write songs just like it. We got together, sat down and wrote them.
HT: So I understood from your Facebook that it was written in the Swedish woods?
SC: Yes it was. As I told you, we had a handful of sketches, and all the boys sat down and did sketches by themselves, so they all had little sketches with them when we went to Sweden. We borrowed a cabin in the woods for one week, in Spring last year. I listened to the sketches through my headphones all the way in the car, writing text ideas. As soon as we got to Sweden we installed different studios in different rooms in the cabin and we just started finishing the songs together. This little vacation was all about trying a new sound, playing together, and finding out what we would like to do with the new record. But we didn’t really have to. We just worked with the songs. Separately, actually. All of the boys sat with their own sketches in their own little rooms, and I could go visit them making melodies for all of the sketches. In the evenings we got together and started recording ideas, and actually finishing the album that way. When we got home one week later we had ‘This is Protection’.
HT: So there wasn’t one person in charge? That’s interesting.
SC: No, everybody was bringing something. It was always a dream for us that we could make music that way, but it’s always harder than you think. We would always like to have a little democracy where everybody is just as important as the other. The only way to do that is just to accept that everybody’s bringing something. If you just sit back and listen, or shut up and play… We didn’t have to talk too much. We could just work with each other’s songs and be inspired by the ideas that somebody came with. And that was really cool. We’re all very different, we have different references, we can do different things… I don’t even play any instruments so I just like to respect the ideas of somebody who knows some techniques. That way you can focus on the things you do best. That was how we worked all week because we just wanted to be productive with getting a lot of ideas recorded that we could work on when we got home. So yes, it was very interesting, and we are very happy with the result.
HT: So was the environment important? The Swedish woods…
SC: I don’t think we knew it at the time, but listening to the record I can really hear that it’s cosy in a very freaky way, just being on your own. Even though there were six of us, there were not a lot of people around. It was a very small village, maybe four houses, and of them was ours. In the other cabins there lived men and their dogs, by themselves, just wandering around the house and looking to see what these hippie Danes were doing. They could hear us recording music. It was a very nice experience, but also a bit freaky, and I think that’s also how the record sounds. It’s cosy in a very dark way.
HT: So it’s quite solitary then?
SC: Yes, very much.
HT: Is that one of the themes that comes out in the album?
SC: Yes, I think it is. When I got home and listened to it it kinda freaked me out, and I think that’s when I got the idea that it should be about other people, because I was far away from them. The sound of the record too, is very solitary. Even the very pretty songs, where the vocals are in front, there’s always something very spooky underneath.
HT: So would you say it’s a record to listen to on your own?
SC: Yes. I think it is. I never thought about it, but I think it is, because there are many fragments there, many different stories. I think I get many pictures from it. I think it would be a good idea to listen to it on your own at first, but there are also many easy songs on the record, and songs that you can even dance to.
HT: So it sounds like it was quite an easy process to put it together. Were there any challenges that you faced when you were writing the album?
SC: Yes, a lot. I think the biggest challenge with the album was that it felt like it made itself. We had been very hungry to write music for a very long time. We were six people at the time, and I don’t think it was quite stimulating enough for some of us. We never really got to play that much, because it sounded good before we thought it was finished. We had been looking forward to working together again, the boys had been looking forward to doing all of those nerdy things with all of their effects, recording a hundred different ideas, choosing the best of them. And we never got to that, because we felt it was finished before we felt done working with it. That was a big challenge because it doesn’t really feel fair telling people not to play. So of course we had some discussions about that.
HT: What are the changes from your debut album?
SC: Many. First of all because, like I told you, it was made in a very different way. With the first album we all got together writing songs, even from scratch. The new album is also more diverse as everyone had ideas. It was not like that with the first album. It’s also not as noisy, but I think it’s more dramatic, colder, in a way. And then of course, we have all developed and got new inspiration.
HT: So you’ve released two videos from the new album so far, for “The Timber Will Fall”, and “Some Days Stay”. They’re both quite… striking? Maybe a feminist edge?
SC: Yeah, I guess you could call them that! The first video we released, for “The Timber Will Fall” was made by director Aske Bang. I came up with some of the ideas, but it was his video. I’m not a feminist at all, but we definitely wanted somebody to make a video for us that would work with the boundaries of what is accepted when you make art today. Especially as now things are virtual, and boundaries are not as wide as we were once used to in Denmark. I think that censorship for grown ups was removed in the sixties or something, and then it’s of course very sad for artists today to feel locked to certain rules when they make art, if they want anyone to see it. The video was removed from Facebook and YouTube. That was not at all what we wanted. We didn’t really think it would happen. We didn’t know the rules. We just knew that you didn’t see it that often, now we know why. We hadn’t really looked that much into modern censorship but we wanted to move boundaries for what was acceptable and normal. It was on purpose that we made a controversial video, but it was not my intention to be feminist. I never really saw it that way, I actually saw it like the opposite, mocking women for using their sexuality to get power. We really liked the result though, we thought it was very beautiful. The only thing I talked to Aske about was that I wanted normal naked people. If you want to see normal naked people, and it’s not in porn, it might be in movies, or in an art installation, not trying to reach a wide audience. We just thought that you would like the thought of beautiful, naked, all natural, normal skin, somewhere where everyone’s got access.
HT: Compared with where I come from, England, being so free and liberal about your body seems like quite a Danish thing. Could the video and your art be considered a celebration of that Danish freedom?
SC: Very much. That’s pretty much all it is, actually. I think it takes many years for boundaries to move in what is accepted, and we should be very proud to be in a country where you can just make art and nobody gets insulted. People wouldn’t. They might think it’s interesting, maybe they don’t, but nobody dies from seeing naked people. We all know it’s beautiful.
HT: But then again, you show a much more realistic representation of the female body in your video, compared with, say, the video “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke.
SC: Exactly, and I think we live in a time when it is important to remind each other of what is beautiful. We were shocked when we released this video, to find that some people actually find it scary. They’re afraid of looking at naked women, looking all natural. That scares me, quite a bit.
Scarlet Chives’ second album ‘This is Protection’ is released Monday 16th in Denmark, and Friday 20th in Sweden and Norway.
You might be interested in
In 2005, when the Arctic Monkeys were first thrown into the arms of the indie music world, a video of the band performing “I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor” depicted the young band looking awkward and boyish, but brilliant. Before the performance began, Alex Turner cleared his throat and drawled, in a thick Northern accent, “Weahr the ahrctic moonkees… Don’ buhleeve the ‘ype.” That proved impossible. The hype was real, and eight years on, it’s time for the band to release their fifth studio album, ‘AM’. After eleven years since their formation in 2002, the infant apes are all grown up, and ready to take over the world, one drunk text at a time. Here Today takes a look at their career up to this point, and why ‘AM’ makes them the greatest rock band of our generation.
THE CHANGING STAGE
Earlier this summer, Arctic Monkeys played the biggest gig of their career when they headlined Glastonbury Festival in the UK for the second time. However, every band has to start somewhere, and they didn’t start on the Pyramid Stage. On Friday the 13th June 2003, the band played their first ever gig at The Grapes, a small pub in their home town of Sheffield. What I would give to have a time machine and a ticket to Sheffield. Their set included “Ravey Ravey Ravey Club”, an unreleased track. But of course, there’s a grainy recording on YouTube:
As teenagers, Alex and ex-bassist Andy Nicholson found employment pulling pints at famous local venue, The Boardwalk, that had played an important role in launching up and coming bands from the area. When they returned to play a homecoming gig at the small venue, ex-bassist Andy pulled on a staff t-shirt and served behind the bar again. Alas, The Boardwalk went into administration in 2010.
In 2005, the band blew up and embarked on its first world tour. By the time they reached the UK leg, every concert was fully sold out, and £7 tickets were being flogged for £100 for two on eBay. Talk about demand.
At The Grapes in 2003, The band made a total of £27 in ticket sales. Less than ten years later, Turner is number 11 on the Heat Under 30s Rich List, and worth an estimated £9.8 million.
THE MYSPACE GENERATION
Shortly after the Grapes gig, the band started producing demo CDs at 2fly studios, to distribute for free at their small concerts. So began the band’s rise to first internet, then global fame. Whilst the boys didn’t know how to put music on the internet, had never heard of Myspace and got a mate to set up the website, fans were sharing the demo tracks online. It was a fan who came up with the title ‘Beneath the Boardwalk’ for the 17 track demo CD, and yes, that is referring to the same Boardwalk where Alex and Andy used to work. Just a year or so later, the band beat the British record for fastest selling debut album with ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ selling 363,735 over-the-counter copies in the first week. There was a time when Myspace was relevant.
You’ve probably heard of The Last Shadow Puppets, Alex Turner’s incredibly cool side project band, which consists of himself, Miles Kane and James Ford. They’ve released only one album, ‘The Age of the Understatement’, but both Turner and Kane say they’ll record new material “when the time is right.” The Last Shadow Puppets may be on extended break, but Turner and Kane have continued to work together, and prove that mods and rockers can be friends after all. The “Milex” relationship has also been the cause of some slightly creepy tumblr blogs celebrating the bromance.
If Miles Kane wasn’t cool enough, Alex Turner and the Monkeys just happen to be good friends with Queens of The Stone Age legend Josh Homme. As well as co-producing the Monkeys’ third album, ‘Humbug’, Homme features on ‘AM’. Talking to Zane Lowe, Turner described the appearance as “very much a case of one of us returning a back scratch to the other,” referring to his own contribution to the latest QOTSA album, ‘…Like Clockwork’. “Just fun, it’s friends, extended family now,” is how Turner descibed the collaboration. ‘AM’ also features guest appearances by The Coral’s ex-guitarist Bill Ryder Jones and drummer Pete Thomas.
But it’s not just guitar brandishing musicians that Arctic Monkeys have worked with. In 2007, the band joined forces with British rap artist Dizzee Rascal, to create “Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend” and “Temptation”. The former was the Arctic Monkeys track, featured on the ‘Brianstorm’ EP, where Rascal rapped over a verse. The latter was Rascal’s interpretation, a full rap song with Turner’s dulcet tones sampled underneath. The two acts came together again during the Monkeys’ headliner set at Glastonbury in 2007.
THE HAIRVOLUTION OF ARCTIC MONKEYS
It’s safe to say that with each new Arctic Monkeys album, comes a new style, especially for Alex Turner. As a teenager in Sheffield, he sported a polo T-shirt and Jeremy Clarkson jean combo, with some pretty flat snips on his head. Fast forward to 2009, and he’s sporting a rather different look. Luscious locks of shiny brown hair hang around his face like a mop, and a gorgeous Alexa Chung is tucked under his arm. Then 2012 saw the introduction of greaser Turner. This slick LA Alex wears Saint Laurent, a leather jacket to promo shoots, has Topman style guides in dedication to his Teddy boy look, and rolls his hair into a slick quiff. Talking to GQ, Turner said he adopted the look because “All the boys got shorter hair and I thought, ‘What can I do to one-up them?’ I am the singer after all, and you’ve gotta be a dick sometimes.”
Turner is a style chameleon, musically as well as in fashion. ‘Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not’ was a perfect, grubby, indie rock storybook of suburban teenage life, and with tracks like “Fluorescent Adolescent” on ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’, their follow up followed on a similar thread. However, as the title suggests, something about their second album already showed signs of a new musical style. ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ was loud, fast, austere and dangerous. The violent opening riff of “Brianstorm” sets the tone for the record: the really great, really well received record.
The view from Alex Turner’s 2009 ‘Humbug’ era eye covering mop of hair must have been pretty dark and confusing to have produced tracks like “Pretty Visitors”. Arctic Monkeys fans obviously think that none of the albums are bad, but this is often the one they don’t like as much. Personally, Humbug is one of my favourites because it’s confidently experimental, never a bad idea for a band that’s been around a while.
Whilst the first three albums got darker with each release, ‘Suck it and See’, also a reaction record, changed the other way. It was more accessible, “vintage”, but not addictive like the previous three. However, it was released just a few months before Turner announced to The Sun that he had “fucking forgotten how do that,” in reference to writing a smash hit. So you never know, maybe we’re in agreement about ‘Suck it…’
Now, in 2013, Turner is churning out different quotes about his song writing and recording process, albeit bizarre ones. To GQ: “The whole thing for me is like a chemical reaction. It’s like you put your different elements into all the test tubes, and you try and mix them together and get the right-colour smoke.”
Or there’s this one to NME: “Writing songs for me is like waiting for deliveries,” he explains. “You get a window: the washing machine’s got to be there between 11 and 5. You’ve got to wait for it. It [the song] is the washing machine, the idea! You’re like, ‘Right, we’re gonna do this record between now and then, and in the middle something is gonna arrive. A loosely metaphorical washing machine.” Turner’s dark patch where he forgot how to write a mammoth single is over. Finito. Gone. Need proof? Just sit back and listen to “Do I Wanna Know?”
Ever since I find out that the name of this album would be ‘AM’, I’ve been totally stumped as to what it could stand for. Then Turner cleared it all up in an interview with Zane Lowe, where he admitted he’d stolen the idea from The Velvet Underground’s ‘VU’ record. Suddenly it all made sense. Here are nine more facts about ‘AM’:
Alex Turner describing ‘AM’: “It sounds like a Dr Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl cut and then we’ve sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.” (Rolling Stone)
On what happened in that LA studio: Matt Helders broke his hand because it “came into contact with something that was stronger than me.” (NME)
On ‘AM’, Arctic Monkeys make their drum machine debut with “I Wanna Be Yours”.
“Mad Sounds”, the seventh track on the album, was debuted at Hultsfred Festival in Sweden.
Josh Homme on the new record: “It’s a really cool, sexy after-midnight record… and it’s really good.” (NME)
Haim turned down the opportunity to be on “Do I Wanna Know?”, as they couldn’t fit it into their schedules. Bass player Este Haim said it was “maybe the worst day of my life,” to call and say no. (NME)
The record was finished in the nick of time. “We were on the phone, getting things finished like adding a tambourine to a chorus, when it should have been mastered. It was right down to the last minute.” Those dastardly tambourines. (XFM)
“Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” debuted at number 8 in the UK charts, making it the band’s first top 10 single since 2007, when they released “Fluorescent Adolescent”.
You might be interested in
It comes as a shock to think that Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago was released only six years ago. The album that launched Justin Vernon into a muddled collective unconscious was notably bare and intimate, wintry landscape, inspired by the solitary Wisconsin cabin in which it was conceived. It could have been a rugged example of American frontierism, but instead “Skinny Love” became stock music for TV teenage angst. A lesser man would have left it at that or cashed in quick.
Instead, buoyed by a series of apparently unlikely collaborations with Kanye West, Vernon released a Bon Iver album that utterly did away with the lo-fi insularity of its predecessor. Bon Iver, featured a much higher level of production, instrumentation and arrangements, and songs like “Hinnom, TX” seem to indicate that West ended up having some influence upon Vernon’s sound, however indirectly.
Listening to Bon Iver in chronological order, it becomes apparent that Vernon’s recent choice to tank the project is completely logical, with “Flume” and “Beth / Rest” as bookends. “Beth / Rest” always stuck out from the sophomore album as an oddly cheesy track, with Chariots of Fire-style synths and 80s saxophone. It is an experiment in tone that we have to respect, a divisive track that harkens back to Leonard Cohen’s 80s albums, the way the soul of a song permeates through the kitsch instrumentation.
Vernon is most often associated either with the “Skinny Love” sound or that of his Kanye collaborations, yet a quick look at his back catalogue is proof not only of the breadth of genres and sounds he has explored over his career, but also the number of people he has worked with. Not quite the solitary man in a cabin we once imagined.
Pre-Bon Iver, Justin was part of DeYarmond Edison, which, after his departure, became Megafaun. It’s always interesting hearing him harmonise with other people (as opposed to himself, as in “Woods”), and one of the best examples is in the Crosby, Stills and Nashe inspired tracks of DeYarmond Edison.
On the other end of the spectrum, we find him wearing Blues Brothers glasses, playing blues-rock and singing in a manner unlike anything we’ve heard him sing before with his other-other band The Shouting Matches. It is a timely reminder that there is definitely a light sight to Vernon, and that he has always operated on the margins of what can loosely be defined “Americana”, though the term does him a disservice.
Though there is likely to be no end to Vernon’s appearances on the most disparate albums imaginable, it is perhaps Volcano Choir that promises to be the successor to Bon Iver, since Volcano Choir’s new album also shows signs of a departure in sound, echoing those from Vernon’s previous band. Unmap had a certain wintry feel, but also featured higher production than the debut Bon Iver album, as well as relying much more heavily on cyclic guitar riffs and harmonized vocals. Some of the folk elements of the debut have been eliminated from the follow-up, Repave, and replaced with a more traditional rock instrumentation and touches of the anthemic.
It is tempting to draw up a timeline for Vernon’s career, tracing some kind of linear musical evolution. But what the selection presented here proves is that these different sounds, groups and voices have largely coexisted side by side. Whether he is playing on a Blind Boys of Alabama record or singing backing vocals for Kathleen Edwards or Megafaun, the evidence is that, Bon Iver or no Bon Iver, Justin Vernon will be around for quite some time.
You might be interested in
Its almost like talking about Christmas on December 26th but still people are starting to speculate to who will be headlining Roskilde Festival 2014 which is set to take place between 28th June to 6th July. Although its early in the day certain patterns emerge with festivals and heres our list as to who we think is likely to grace the hallowed Orange Stage in 2014.
Why?: Three flawless albums and another just around the corner with the release of their forth studio album Reflektor on October 29th. They’re set to go on a worldwide tour in support of Reflektor starting off down under at Big Day Out Festival, come summer they’ll hit the shores of Europe expecting to play some of the largest festivals this fine continent has to offer, what other festival is bigger in Scandinavia than Roskilde Festival?
Last played the festival: 2007 (The year of the flood)
Likelihood of them appearing: Highly
Why?: Roskilde always try give a diverse mixture of Danish and International headliners and across the rest of the bill for that matter. Hes about to release new album Lost September 23rd. Trentemøller has already announced shows across Europe and North America with his popularity only growing since his last headline show of Roskilde in 2009.
Last played the festival: 2009
Likelihood of them appearing: Almost certain
Why?: Roskilde’s organisers are friendly people and each year they ask who the public want to see play their festival, each year RATM top that list (or somewhere close), we appreciate that they’re a tough band to book since they only play shows when it suits them. Next July will mark 3 years since they last played live together, however, theres every chance 2014 could be that year with them strongly rumoured to play LA Rising in August, Roskilde and a string of other festival dates in the summer of 2014 could be a nice warm up.
Last played the festival: 1996
Likelihood of them appearing: Slim, but theres every hope
Why?: After dropping Random Access Memory this year we all expected them to play at least a few festival slots with strong rumours of them appearing at Primavera Sound, Glastonbury and even Roskilde. This unfortunately never happened. And while appearances from them have been minimal this year they made a short appearance at the MTV VMA’s last week and this could work as a snowball effect to have them announce concerts and festivals “around the world” next year.
Last played the festival: 1997
Likelihood of them appearing: Doubtful
Why?: The always active Brooklyn/Chicago rappers both have recently released their own albums Magna Carta Holy Grail/Yeezus (respectively) this year, common trend with these two is that they hit the European circuit a year or so after dropping an album. However both have just had their first children, this could deter them, however they’re entrepreneurs and know the value of touring.
Last played the festival: 2008/2009
Likelihood of them appearing: Fairly good
Why?: He just played Reading/Leeds festivals last weekend and he’s about to release Marshall Mathers LP 2, I’m sure he’ll want to play a handful of European shows in support of the album. He’s isn’t as relevant as he was back in 1999 and sure he’s cleaned up his act, but he’s still got a back catalogue of hits worthy of any festival.
Last played the festival: Never
Likelihood of them appearing: Miracles can happen
Why?: They’re about to release their forth album and again another Danish band worthy of being a headliner. Although what goes against them is that they played Orange stage back in 2012, that wasn’t so long ago but they surely can’t miss out on booking them again.
Last played the festival: 2012
Likelihood of them appearing: Likely….but…..
Why?: With rumours of new material and them playing most other large festivals across Europe in recent years, 2014 could be the year they make it back to Roskilde Festival, after all Damon Albarn has a long lasting relationship with the festival having played recently with Gorillaz and three times previously with Blur. They performed at SmukFest in 2012 and this year could finally be the year they roll out the hits once more to a 60,000 strong crowd rejoicing to epic sing-a-longs to one of Brit pops finest bands.
Last played the festival: 2003
Likelihood of them appearing: Good chance
Why?: Its sometimes hard to constitute who a headliner is at Roskilde, although they most likely won’t be billed as a headliner theres a good chance if they book Vampire Weekend they’ll make an appearance on the Orange Stage in a similar slot to what The National played at this years festival. The band released their third album Modern Vampires Of The City earlier this year to critical acclaim, their first two albums secured them headlining spots at several high profile festivals across the globe and have now proved themselves worthy headliners. What better music to hear on a Saturday evening as the sun is setting over the Orange Stage than Vampire Weekend?
Last played the festival: 2010
Likelihood of them appearing: High
Why?: The Staten Island rap collective played many high profile festivals worldwide this year including their set at Vangaard Festival in Copenhagen. That hyped set has left fans purring for more and will most likely be one of the top 5 bands the fans vote to headline the festival in 2014, after all it will mark 10 years since they last played Roskilde!
Last played the festival: 2004
Likelihood of them appearing: High!
You might be interested in
Here Today: You recently released your third album, ‘Loud City Song’. Where did this record begin?
Julia Holter: There was a song that I was going to put on ‘Ekstasis’ that didn’t really work, and I decided that it needed to have a whole new record behind it, and that was what ‘Loud City Song’ became. That song is now called “Maxim’s II” and I made this new record for it.
HT: So is “Maxim’s II” the centrepiece of the album?
JH: Not necessarily, but if people are looking for some sort of centrepiece conceptually, which I don’t think you have to, then I guess it could be, but I wanted to make a record that didn’t have to be about the concept, and could just be a record to listen to and experience, and make your own judgements about.
HT: Was it difficult to go from writing in your room by yourself to having an ensemble of musicians around you?
JH: No, it was really great. It was way better than doing it alone because I was able to get help doing the things that I don’t know how to do very well, like recording drums for instance. People who have years of experience doing that do it so well. It makes a huge different having players play the parts, instead of just me playing everything on keyboard.
HT: When I listened to the record I got a sense that it was about feelings of intimidation in the city. Was that intentional?
JH: Yes, it’s kind of like the individual feeling bombarded by society.
HT: Is the city an intimidating place to be then?
JH: For me it’s not, I love the city, but it was more abstract. The city was a way to physically place society.
HT: Like a metaphor?
JH: Yeah exactly. The record’s more a story than a political commentary. It’s sort of like a coming of age story. There are elements of contemporary celebrity culture, like on “Maxim’s II”. I think that’s a kind of a tangent, but I do think that’s a way to look at it. So it’s not specifically anything about society, it’s not like I made a record about the problems of society, it’s more just a coming of age story about an individual in society making different decisions, like running away from society or staying in it. You can interpret it any way you want. In Gigi’s case, she’s expected to become a courtesan by her family, and she doesn’t want to do that. It could be anything; in the record there are different hints about what it could be, like being chased by paparazzi, or you could be a celebrity that’s always being spied on.
HT: There are lots of different emotions, atmospheres and sounds on the record. Why did you choose to put them all on one album?
JH: I don’t think I thought much about it. I basically had a story, and I let myself go free with whatever music fit each song. I wasn’t thinking, “well this song is going to be jazzy, and this one will be a soaring, dream experience song.” I have an idea of what’s going on in the song, and the music emerges out of that. It was all in my demos. Everything you hear atmosphere-wise was present in my demos when I made them at home, in a much cruder form than they are now. So it just sort of comes out of you and you don’t have a way of explaining it. I get people asking me “why is it jazzy?” and I have no explanation. It was like that in the demos; it’s not as if I got jazz players and it suddenly became jazzy, it just was. It wasn’t a conscious decision or style.
HT: So the story is what really guides you when you’re writing the music?
JH: Yeah, a lot of times it is, whether it’s for the album, or even on ‘Ekstasis’, which doesn’t have a concept, it’s just a collection of different songs, united by certain general things, each song has something of a story or a situation between characters. I build off that and don’t think about the musical genres.
HT: Do you think you get a better song if it’s naturally crafted?
JH: I think it’s the only way I can write. I don’t think about, “is this the right way?” it’s just the only way for me. I mean, there are always exceptions. I can probably think of a some times when I listened to a piece of music and then wanted to work off some musical ideas. “Maxim’s I” for instance was more complicated. When I wrote it I already had “Maxim’s II” which was then just “Maxim’s”, and then one day I was playing the keyboard and I really liked some chords that I was playing. It just came to me that he lyrics for “Maxim’s” could work for those chords as well. So sometimes it does just start with the music and the music creates the story itself.
HT: And do you have a favourite song in particular from the album?
JH: I don’t have one favourite, it changes. Recently it’s been “Maxim’s I”. It’s a really tricky one, and it took a long time to make, to mix and produce because the interaction between the acoustic instruments and the electronic was really tricky to master. Not literally, but figuratively, to get them balanced.
HT: Do you always write your music in the same frame of mind?
JH: Generally I just have to be really clear headed. If I’m being very creative I like the mornings, but if I want to get some technical stuff done the nighttime is good because I get kind of obsessive. But I do write in front of the computer sometimes, and I get distracted. I shift back and forth and walk around outside. It’s not like I’m sitting there for hours and hours. But I can’t be drunk when I write, whereas I like having one drink when I perform.
HT: So I hear you used to do tutoring part time.
JH: Yeah, it was a job and I worked in High Schools. So many high school students today are so hip, they’re into all different types of music. It was very inspiring to work with some of them on music, recording etc.
HT: Did they ever ask you for advice?
JH: Yeah definitely. It takes a long time to get their trust, but when my music first started to get attention, it was really inspiring to them. They actually respected me more after that, which was funny. I think I was more of a mentor than a teacher. A tutor is always in that awkward, in-between place. College applications or life questions, homework, I helped them with that. Or even showing them cool music to listen to, and writing music.
HT: Did they ever inspire your writing?
JH: Well I didn’t write songs about them, but like everything in my life, it comes through somehow, indirectly. You have emotions and interactions in life, and that’s the only way you can be a writer. To draw on those experiences.
Loud City Song is out now on Domino Records. (Photos by Tom Spray)
You might be interested in
With the weekend fast approaching Roskilde Festival is just around the corner and we’ve compiled a final list of “must see” bands to catch during the festival. Our Roskilde Festival mini series continues tomorrow with the release of The Woken Trees adding to our current releases of Ice Cream Cathedral and Schultz and Forever.
Ice Cream Cathedral (Pavilion Junior // 14:30 // 30.06.2013)
Broke (Pavilion Junior // 17:30 // 30.06.2013)
Schultz and Forever (Pavilion Junior // 14:30 // 01.07.2013)
Mø (Pavilion Junior // 22:00 // 01.07.2013)
The Woken Trees (Pavilion Junior // 17:30 // 03.07.2013)
Ghost Venue (Apollo // 19:30 // 03.07.2013)
Baby In Vain (Pavilion Junior // 22:00 // 03.07.2013)
Savages (Pavilion // 20:00 // 04.07.2013)
Animal Collective (Arena // 22:30 // 04.07.2013)
Metz (Pavilion // 18:00 // 05.07.2013)
EL-P (Cosmopol // 20:00 // 05.07.2013)
Crystal Castles (Arena // 01:30 // 05.07.2013)
Parquet Courts (Pavilion // 15:00 // 06.07.2013)
The National (Orange // 19:30 // 06.07.2013)
Sigur Ros (Arena // 00:00 // 06.07.2013)
James Blake (Orange // 14:30 // 07.07.2013)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Orange // 16:45 // 07.07.2013)
Queens Of The Stone Age (Orange // 19:00 // 07.07.2013)
You might be interested in
Last weekends SPOT Festival kick started the festival season and this coming weekend Here Today’s team will be at Øresundsfestival in Malmö, Sweden to give extensive photo coverage of sights, sounds and Swede’s. We’ve put together of some must see acts of the weekend……
Friday 10th May
The Eclectic Moniker – 19:00 @ Debaser Inne
Fallulah – 19:15 @ Kulturbolaget (KB)
Kashmir – 21:45 @ Kulturbolaget (KB)
Folkeklubben – 21:45 @ Far I Hatten
When Saints Go Machine – 23:20 @ Debaser (Inne)
Saturday 11th May
VIEW THE FULL LINE UP HERE