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Photos of the year 2014

in Photos by
The Rolling Stones (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

It has been a busy year for Here Today. During 2014 our photographers and journalists covered Roskilde FestivalNorthside FestivalTrailerpark FestivalWasn’t Born To Follow (a mini festival by Smash! Bang! Pow!), as well as over 50 live shows with artists like St. VincentSwansAngel OlsenSharon Van EttenThe War On DrugsMac DemarcoCommunionsFirst HateLower, and many more.

We have put together a selection of the best photos of the year 2014. It has not been easy. Some stood out, though, like the picture below of Perfect Pussy; a picture that captures the raw energy of the show while still being very carefully composed and a perfect example of Henry Cartier Bresson’s concept of the decisive moment.

Perfect Pussy (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)Perfect Pussy | Wasn´t Born To Follow, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Another amazing photo is the one of Damon Albarn (by Tom Spray) spitting water at the audience at Roskilde Festival. The crowd, the big empty space and the solitary figure (Damon) at the edge of the stage in a defiant stance; it is a picture with allegorical qualities, one that can make you mind wander.

Damon Albarn (Photo by Tom Spray)

Damon Albarn | Roskilde Festival, Arena Stage (Photo by Tom Spray)

Then there is Morten Aagaard Krogh‘s photograph of the The Rolling Stones (at the top of this post) from when the band played the legendary Orange Stage at Roskilde Festival, a stage that has come to symbolize the festival. The Orange Stage was originally made for The Rolling Stones’s 1976 Summer tour, but in 1978 it was sold to Roskilde Festival. For the first time since 1976 The Rolling Stones where reunited with their old stage. It was also the first time they played Roskilde Festival. James Hjertholm’s photo of Hexis’s leadsinger Filip Andersen is also very powerful and last, but not least, there is a whole gallery of photos (at the bottom of the page) that are equally great.

Hexis (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Hexis | Roskilde Festival, Rising Stage (Photo by James Hjertholm)

See the gallery with Here Today’s photos of the year 2014 below.

The gallery features photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com), Tom Spray (tom-spray.com), James Hjertholm (jameshjertholm.com), Ivan Boll (ivanrb.dk) and Jonas Bang (jonasbang.com).

All images are copyright of the individual photographers.

Roskilde Festival 2014, Saturday 5th July

in Live Reviews by

Bottled in England 

Bottled In England is perhaps an unorthodox band name choice for a pair of Danes. They’re loosely described as “electro punk”, but this is a thin disguise for their brand of high energy, imaginative and exciting drum n’ bass. But instead of plugging in laptops and pratting about onstage, August Dyrborg and Daniel Vognstrup play all their instruments and mix their beats live, with an almost continuous conveyer belt of collaborations. There are vocalists, male and female, including Zambian born Lucy Love. Singers are then replaced with an electric guitar, the distorted strings of which sound like screaming. Then comes a trumpet trio, who instead of bringing a big, brassy jazz note, carry a soft ambience to the performance. They are slow and subtle, whilst the drums remain frantic and paranoid in anticipation of the drop, or, in Danish, the ‘fucking klimax’.

 HT

Psyched Up Janis

Before there were The Raveonettes, there was Psyched Up Janis, both created by Danish noise rock musician Sune Rose Wagner. Their last performance was in 1999, also at Roskilde Festival, so there’s a lot of pressure to make this homecoming performance one of their finest. Crashing, clashing and overdriven-into-the-ground guitar is fuzzy with the wailing vocals of the duo. The concert is heavy with reverb, drenching the Orange Stage area and everywhere surrounding it with sticky grunge. The slightly lighter, melodic tones of hit track ‘The Stars Are Out’ seem out of place with the rest of the set, but manage to bring the concert to a neat finish before the encore.

HT

Omar Souleyman

It’s been a great festival for international music (never, ever refer to it as “world music”) this year, and Saturday is no exception. While Mali’s Les Ambassadeurs play the Arena stage, Omar Souleyman is playing at the more humble Apollo. The audience throngs around the small stage, making it look tinier and more like a magical pumpkin than ever. The Syrian singer is not one for great stage theatrics—not much interaction with the crowd, and only a producer pressing play on the backing tracks on the desk behind him—but the manic quality of the music wins through. Towards the back of the audience several apparently spontaneous dance circles form as “Wenu Wenu”, the titular track of his debut album, erupts with its techno beats and lightning-fast keyboard scales. The definition of party music.

CC

Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Omar Souleyman (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Manu Chao

In 1986 José-Manuel Thomas Arthur Chao underwent a series of drastic medical procedures in order to become a super-being known as the “6 pesos man”: a human genetically engineered to be amazingly popular at music festivals throughout Europe. Little did he know then that this was to be a curse as much as it was a boon. His fingers were bent out of shape, allowing him to play only three chords, always in the same sequence. He didn’t notice this affliction for twenty years. But listen, I’m sure we all have moments when we want to listen to “flamenco-tinged ska” (or whatever verbal wallpaper you wish to use to hide the fact that this is some real hippie shit), and thank god this usually only manifests itself during festivals. Imagine a place where people listen to this all the time. Sigh. Pass me the siren and the whistle then.

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Manu Chao (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Manu Chao (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Mano Chao (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh 

Arctic Monkeys

The things I’d do for Alex Turner. The leather jacket, the cuban heels, and that quiff. And I’m not the only one; the pit queue for Arctic Monkeys is stretching so far back I don’t even know where it ends, but once it’s cleared, I find a nice spot of my own underneath the screen to see his greaser locks blown up several times over. Behind the stage, the album artwork for AM is lit up, flashing and rushing through the sound waves like a heart scan. I get flashbacks to their headliner show at last year’s NorthSide Festival in Århus, where Turner was powerfully in command of the entire crowd. But when he finally enters the stage with his band members in tow, it’s more of a stumble than a sexy glide. The band slightly awkwardly open their set with ‘Do I Wanna Know’ and ‘Snap Out Of It’. By the time they’ve reached ‘Arabella’, he’s lit up either a self rolled cig or something else, and drawls the words out with low, improvised licks and brooding murmurs. Even when he appears high as heaven, his voice is still warm as honey, if not better for the differentiation from the record, the lyrics are still genius and the melodies still hit precisely the right point. The song finishes, he looks dazed and holds the microphone to his mouth as he decides what to say. An awkward pause. “We’re the Arctic Monkeys, baby,” he says, like a drunkard impersonating an old Hollywood Movie Star.

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

“This one’s called ‘Brianstorm’,” he continues. It’s the first old track they’ve played, and it goes down a treat with the Roskilde audience. But Turner’s heart isn’t in it. He stares into the audience with a glazed look. It’s a song from the past. Now he seems older, more mature, but for the first time in a long time, frightened. The same thing happens when they play ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’, which has been slowed down to match Turner’s bumbling pace. The woozy sound of ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ sees the frontman closing his eyes and summoning his words slowly. It’s genuine, emotional, and cuttingly beautiful. At an earlier point in the evening Turner told the audience that the Arctic Monkeys were “having a good time.” But as the Sheffield band juggle old, fast-paced indie with more balladic new directions, they appear disillusioned, and I wonder whether his remark was genuine.

HT

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol

Four rather dapper looking gentlemen take to the stage at Arena, reminding everyone that in the great Interpol-Editors war of the mid ‘00s it was the Americans who got the more good looking band. Weaving the odd piece of new material in with the ‘hits’, the set is something of a walk down memory lane for people in their mid-twenties, albeit a glamorized, slightly artificial walk. Interpol certainly have their sound locked down, with real confidence and precision, but that same precision has the undesired effect of making many of the songs sound identical. Though I listened to Interpol as much as anyone when I was 15, I find that I can only identify a song by the lyrics in the chorus. But it is undeniable that the band is as slick as frontman Paul Banks’s hair.

CC

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Interpol (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Slowdive

Anyone remotely interested in shoegaze music will have felt a thrill when it was announced that Slowdive would be replacing Chromeo at the Avalon tent. The recently reunited quintet are second only to My Bloody Valentine in their hold over the genre, and a fair number of Roskilde’s hippest have been draw away from the likes of Major Lazer to be able to witness tracks from Souvlaki played live. Unlike MBV, Slowdive retained some of the influences and sounds of 80s jangle-pop, and temper their moments of pure, joyous noise with delicate, almost clean guitars. “Allison” and “When the Sun Hits” punch and swirl, and the magnificent “Souvlaki Space Station” features a delayed guitar sound that might be better than the one on record. Slowdive might not have the most commanding stage presences (the only interaction is a couple of thank-yous from singer Rachel), but their sound is unlike anything you will hear at this festival, pure and simple. Audiophile- and guitar-fetishist-heaven.

CC

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Arctic Monkeys | Roskilde Festival, 05.07.2014

in Photos by

Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Arctic Monkeys (Photo by Tom Spray)

Roskilde Festival 2014 | Bands to catch

in Blog by

Thursday 3rd July

Who: Earl Sweatshirt
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 17:30

Who: Outkast
Where: Orange Stage
When: 18:30

Who: Chance The Rapper
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 21:00

Who: The Rolling Stones
Where: Orange Stage
When: 22:00

 

Friday 4th July

Who: Connan Mockasin
Where: Pavilion Stage
When: 14:00

Who: Damon Albarn
Where: Arena Stage
When: 20:30

Who: Darkside
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 23:00

Who: Trentemøller
Where: Orange Stage
When: 01:00

Saturday 5th July

Who: Omar Souleyman
Where: Apollo Stage
When: 17:30

Who: Manu Chao
Where: Orange Stage
When: 19:30

Who: Arctic Monkeys
Where: Orange Stage
When: 22:30

Who: Interpol
Where: Arena
When: 00:00

Sunday 6th July

Who: A$AP Ferg
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 16:00

Who: Julia Holter
Where: Gloria Stage
When: 17:00

Who: Stevie Wonder
Where: Orange Stage
When: 20:30

Who: Forest Swords
Where: Gloria Stage
When: 21:00

Albums of the year 2013

in Blog by

AutreNeVeutAnxiety_1024_1024_90

1. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Arthur Ashin’s second album oozes emotional intensity throughout, with the album title perfectly summing up Ashin’s emotions while writing this album. Whether its about the anxiety of calling his grandmother for fear of her death (“Counting”), dealing with hitting his 30’s (“Gonna Die”) or going through a break-up (“World War”). Starting off with “Play By Play”/“Counting”/“Promises”/“Ego Free, Sex Free”, Anxiety has to be one of the strongest back-to-back hit filled albums released for a while. From start to finish this is an album to you can listen to whether its a Friday night ready to go out on the town or on a relaxing Sunday morning nursing a hangover as Ashin soothes you with his alt-R’n’B.

mbv

 2. My Bloody Valentinem b v

If you say you’ve been waiting 22 years for this record, you’re lying. Even the most faithful of My Bloody Valentine fans gave up hope of ever seeing another release from the band long ago. When this album was released in February with little ceremony and an ordering process that temporarily broke the internet, there should have been no shock that it wasn’t another Loveless. Instead we’ve been treated to unexpected guitar solos, unexpected guitar-free compositions, more of Bilinda Butcher’s beautiful voice, and a few genuine what-the-fuck-is-that-sound moments. If you say this album wasn’t worth a two-decade period of absence, you’re lying.

iceage (1)

3. IceageYou’re Nothing

Still pissed off, still drawing heavily on post-punk angularity and tinny black metal bleakness, Denmark’s finest return with a more diverse album than their debut. The fast tracks still explode with spit and bile (“Ecstasy”,“Coalition”), but interspersed are moments of slow, muddy thuds (“Morals”), and even the odd Hüsker Du-influenced riff (“In Haze”).  Iceage are lads of impeccable taste, whose energy elevates them out of the mire of influences that so often burdens hardcore bands. The “New Way of Danish Fuck You” might not be so new any more, but with any luck, it is far from over.

 

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Vampire Weekend

4. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires Of The City

With this album, Ezra Koenig and his gang have progressed from the afro-pop elements of earlier days to a more diverse soundscape. Evident in the infectious pop tune ‘Step’, the playful ‘Ya Hey’ with manipulated chipmunk-voices and the beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Obvious Bicycle’. The different textures are quite seductive and ‘MVotC’ has been a recurrent visitor on my record player. On top of that Ezra Koenig has a way with lyrics that really enthrals me: ”The harpsichord is broken/The television’s fried/The city’s getting hotter than a country in decline” from ‘Finger Snap’ is a line you don’t hear everyday. A great album that showcases a great band’s development.

 

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factory floor

5. Factory FloorFactory Floor

“Turn it up”. Take their advice: Factory Floor’s first album is a commanding blend of instinct and control, the human and mechanical. The trio’s double LP draws as much on minimalist, New York disco as it does on Throbbing Gristle, resulting in tracks whose power lies in the combination of cold synth lines, ghostly voices, and infectious beats (drummer Gabe respects, as we should all do, the mythical cowbell).

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away

6. Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsPush The Sky Away

Push The Sky Away is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 15th studio album. The first album, where Nick Cave is the only remaining member of the original line-up, and also a masterful example of the growing collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. After the end of the loud and noisy Grinderman, which in large parts consists of the same people as The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away can be seen as return to a more quiet expression that makes you recall albums like The Boatmans Call. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was formed thirty years ago; Push The Sky Away is a promise of many more years of great music to come.

juliaholterlcs

7. Julia HolterLoud City Song

Loud City Song is the third album in as many years by LA-based Julia Holter. As with her earlier albums, the classically trained artists has found inspiration in artworks from the past – this time the 1958 musical Gigi. The album is diverse, yet very coherent, and Julia Holter manages to breed new life and sounds into a classical instrumentation of horns, strings, piano and drums. Loud City Song is atmospheric; it feels more accessible than her earlier albums (that are also great) without losing the playfulness and experimentation.

As she explains Loud City Song began with the end of her second album Ekstasis; more precisely the song Maxim’s III. The song need it’s own album, she thought, and what an album it got!

national-trouble-will-find-me

8. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

High Violet was always going to be a tough album to follow up for the Cincinnati quintet, however, I had the same thought with some of their previous albums Alligator and Boxer, they seem to effortlessly write albums start to finish that are hard hitting and grab you in a way no other band can. Trouble Will Find Me gives us an insight into the life Matt Berninger has settled into in his more mature years having admitting “…I didn’t care what the songs were going to be about, or if they were going to seem depressing, or cool, or whatever”, even so, they still manage to roll out the hits with tracks such as, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “Sea Of Love” and “Graceless”. 

 

Ed Harcourt

9. Ed HarcourtBack Into The Woods

In the 12 years since Ed Harcourt released his Mercury Prize-nominated debut, he’s explored all complexities for the conveyance of his baroque pop style. So if he decides to strip things back, he must be certain of himself. Recorded in just six hours at Abbey Road Studios in London, Back Into the Woods is the kind of natural, unadorned performance you can only get away with if the songs are really that strong.

At its core, most of the album is just Harcourt at his piano or guitar, and a natural warmth that emanates from the instruments, in lovely contrast to the husky timbre of his voice.

queens-of-the-stone-age-like-clockwork

10. Queens Of The Stone Age….Like Clockwork

Frontman Josh Homme was sidelined for months after complications from a routine surgery, and …Like Clockwork is the manifestation of him literally getting back on his feet. If a little strife provides good inspiration, then it’s no wonder this is QOTSA’s strongest album in years. It’s equal parts brutal and creepy, with tracks like “If I Had a Tail” marking Homme as heir apparent to Scott Walker. Dave Grohl plays a bulk of the drums, and there are guest spots from Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, and Elton John. If you haven’t paid much attention to QOTSA in recent years, …Like Clockwork will make you regret ever counting them out.

kanyewestyeezus

11. Kanye WestYeezus

Yeezus‘ bookends feel like a follow on from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a time when he was going through darker periods of his life after the death of his mother and a break up, to his current life with Kim Kardashian with “Bound 2”. If this is anything to go by we can expect the follow-up to Yeezus to be an R’n’B love album…….yeah right! The album contains unmatched production qualities with tracks that will make Kanye’s live set for years to come as he rolls out the albums other hits, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”.

Sigur Ros

12. Sigur RósKveikur

In tribute to Jonsi’s made up language, “hopelandic”, I have retranslated my review in six different languages, resulting in some nonsense they can be proud of:

“Finally ROS Sigur dark, interesting bass lines and shiny surfaces with just the ignition Mogwai album in Iceland felt a huge area, sounds more and more electronic sound plan. Browse all Vacuum guitar violin, or Jónsi is much better able to withstand it.”

In English, Sigur Rós have returned with a power that had largely dispersed in their later recordings. The tweeness has been replaced by darker and heavier electronic sounds, undercut by Jonsi’s distinctive vocal style.

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09-18-Discs-Trentemoller-Lost-1024x1024

13. TrentemøllerLost

Trentemøller has gradually shifted away from the more overt, techno style of electronica towards grander, more cinematic compositions. Lost is a sweeping, sometimes broody, cinematic work that prioritizes subtlety. It’s definitely an album made more for headphones than stereos, and maybe it’s most conducive to quiet moments of reflection, but ultimately, it is beautiful. And with appearances from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Low’s Mimi Parker, and the Drum’s Jonny Pierce, Lost might prove to be one of those gateway albums that lures unsuspecting rockists into the dark underbelly of electronic music.

Blood Orange

14. Blood OrangeCupid Deluxe

There is a good reason why Devonté Hynes is the producer in quest these days. The Englishman’s musical sensibilities are as sophisticated as a cat walking through a dollhouse, knowing exactly where to place the paws without compromising the arrangements, that is perfectly balanced between the cheesy and the chic – just as if the aesthetic of the 80’s was taken to contemporary society. Exactly the 80’s are along with New York the main point of reference for the album, which combines the best of the decade (New Romanticism, Golden Age Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing) with a who’s who of Brooklyn-socialites such as David Longstreith (Dirty Projectors) and his fiancé Samantha Urbani (Friends). Cupid Deluxe is in many ways the preliminary redemption of Hynes’ vast talent.

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These-New-Puritans-Field-of-Reeds

15. These New Puritans – Fields Of Reeds

Taking inspiration from classical and experimental composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten foremost among them, These New Puritans may not be the most light-hearted or humorous of bands, but Fields of Reeds is the culmination of the band’s unique and exacting approach to music. Singling out songs from this tightly woven work may be counterproductive, but “Organ Eternal” signals the power TNP can generate from a simple, “Tubular Bells”-like riff. Don’t think progressive, Fields of Reeds has the best claim this year on the title of “timeless”.

 

overgrown

16. James Blake – Overgrown

Last year, when I told people James Blake was Dubstep, they refused to accept the fact. Whilst ‘Overgrown’ is hardly at Skrillex’s level on the ‘drop the beat’ scale (yuck), it’s a lot closer than the artist’s debut. Blake’s talent means one can never tire of ‘Overgrown”s multiple layers; it has an extraordinary power to be at once very personal, whilst the electronic framework makes it like the grown up echo of a dance album. It’s about when the songs bite, just like a “Digital Lion”. See “Retrograde” for reference. What that boy does with a piano, a vocal warble and a computer is just insane. No wonder that Mercury Prize ended up in his hands.

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Arcade Fire (2013) Reflektor LP Vinyl Record Album 1

17. Arcade FireReflektor

Alongside countless other fans, I was impatiently awaiting the release of the fourth album by the Canadian seven-piece. A release that consolidates Arcade Fire’s position as one of the greatest indie bands on the planet. ‘Reflektor’ shows a more up-beat side to the band, in the disco-tinged title track, ‘We Exist’ and ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’, alongside rock anthems like ‘Normal Person’ and ‘Joan of Arc’. Utter magnificence that keeps growing on me, fuelled by Win Butler’s intense vocal delivery.

With a playing span of 75 minutes the band’s typical epic scope remains constant and this album is another brilliant addition to an awe-inspiring catalogue.

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Darkside Psychic

(18) DarksidePsychic 

Described as “rock’s cosmic outer edges through the immersive, body-moving framework of 21st-century house and techno”, upon the release of Psychic, Nicolas Jarr and Dave Harrington’s debut album brought a breath of fresh air to the electronic music scene in 2013, just as Jarr has previously done with his solo venture. Post-rock riffs and downbeat electronica dominates Psychic. Tracks such as “Paper Trails” has glimpses of Jarr’s solo work vocally, although admittedly containing a denser and more textured sound. Darkside have left us hungry for more as they continue to take the album on the road in 2014.

cate le bon

19. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

The always-evolving Cate Le Bon found sunshine in California and a more stripped-back sound for her third full length. The Velvet Underground influence on Mug Museum should smack anyone over the head, even if s/he hasn’t gone on a Lou Reed listening binge following his death. Le Bon’s sparse, minimally-produced album has easy sing alongs, a few moments of total chaos, a duet with Perfume Genius, and stays just on the right side of that vaguely surfy vibe to distinguish her from every other band that has hit the reverb a little too hard. Mug Museum is 2013’s best palate cleanser.

arcticam

20. Arctic Monkeys – AM

“Who the F*ck are the Arctic Monkeys?” Only kidding! Perhaps you didn’t see enough of the Arctic Monkeys on every music magazine’s front page and website this summer? Never fear, they’re gonna be on every end of year list. With very good reason. The Sheffield band’s fifth studio album was an absolute masterpiece from those first two drum whacks of “Do I Wanna Know?”, (a song which also possesses one of the best rock riffs of all time), to the dreamy, track twelve cover of John Cooper Clark’s poem, “I Wanna Be Yours”. The pace is sickingly fluctuating, but the adrenaline is never wavering. It also produced a video of Alex Turner wandering around London pretending to be drunk and hallucinating about kebab salesmen humping, so who can complain?

ARTICLE: Arctic Monkeys – The Road to ‘AM’

in Blog by

INTRODUCTION

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.

 

COOL COLLABORATIONS

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?”

AM

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”.

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