Tag Archives: EP

‘We’re the only band in Southampton that sounds like us’ – Interview with Pivotal

Pivotal are that rarest of beasts, a local band that is just as exciting as any touring one. Ahead of their EP release gig at The Cellar on 19th July, they sat down with Anywhere in Albion to talk recording, influences, lad bands, girl drummers and being from Southampton.

Pivotal Interview

So you’ve just finished recording, will this be the first proper release from the band?

Lee Pearce (vox/guitar): Yes. Lots of the people who like us live just keep going on at us to go and record, go and record. We’d done a little bit of recording but we weren’t very happy with it to be honest but I think this one will be a lot different. We all enjoyed doing it and you’ll hear that when it comes out. We’ve done 5 songs, a couple of old ones, some really new ones. ‘Spitting Rivets’, ‘Lost Alliance’, ‘Messner’, which is new, ‘Division’ which is new, and ‘Mia’ which has been around for a while but I don’t think anyone’s heard it recorded.
Ben Johnson (bass): It’s a tough one cause we’re quite a live band, it’s very much about the live sound rather than the stuff we commit to recordings.
Lee: I think we’d all be happy if we just got put in a room and just played live and got recorded.
Lucy Pearce (keys/synth): We like it to have quite a lot of emotion. It’s hard when we record because sometimes it feels like we lose the emotion that we have live.
Chloe Elliot (drums): We recorded two of them without click because we decided that we enjoyed playing them with feel too much and when we tried playing them with the click it was just so different.
Lee: I think that’s quite a special thing though. For us, we really get involved in those breakdowns and feel the music and playing it with a click just takes all of that out and it just feels unnatural to play. We didn’t go crazy on the takes though, if there was something a little bit off, we left it in.
Lucy: There’s a few imperfections but it’s nice to have that, it’s more natural.

Who are your musical influences?

Ben: Interpol, a bit of Joy Division. Who else do we like? It’s quite diverse really, everyone brings their own bits to the bag.
Lee: I think our new songs are bringing that out as well, where everyone’s got more of an input I think.
Ben: The Walkmen as well
Lucy: People always say Editors but I think that’s because of Lee’s voice.
Lee: Yeah, we get put in that genre.
Ben: What did that guy just say? Simple Minds?
Lucy: ‘Like a New Order and Simple Minds love child’ wasn’t it?
Lee: Never heard that one before.
Ben: I can see New Order.
Lee: I love Warpaint. They’re a really good band for me at the moment.
Lucy: Maccabees?
Lee: I don’t think it comes out massively in our music but I think we’re all influenced by them, a lot of our breakdowns are a little bit similar.

Like Interpol it seems you have a kind of darkness in the music.

Lee: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s the sort of feel we’re going for.  A bit dark and a bit more depth with the lyrics just to carry it across and feel, this sounds a bit weird, the pain of the song or the emotion of the song maybe.
Chloe: Lee’s heartbreak!
Lee: Not always, there are happy moments! I think when you relate to a song most is when you can relate to the lyrics and you can understand what’s coming through and I think that’s what pulls it, especially for me.

Who are the bands that you go to for that kind of thing?

Lee: Paul Banks has got to be one of the best lyricists, Stevie Nicks. I don’t know who else.
Lucy: You like lyrics that don’t make sense completely.
Lee: Yeah, I like lyrics that you have to put a puzzle together to understand. That’s not just in your face ‘I love you’, that sort of shit.
Ben: We’ve got some interesting sort of subject matter though, haven’t we, pensive lyrics. What was the story behind ‘Spitting Rivets’.
Lee: Yeah, basically we had a song called ‘Tupolev Relay’ and some of us didn’t get on with it, so we just picked it apart so the whole song was basically the chorus of that old song.
Chloe: Aren’t there stories about your old drummer? That’s what I heard.
Lee: Basically the drummer and Lucy were moaning about the song and stuff so in the end I just started writing some lyrics just sort of taking the mick like how we didn’t like the song so it goes ‘Spitting rivets writing this song just for you / We’ll go round writing it only for you’ . I wasn’t really that angry! Then the chorus is like ‘Pick it apart, pick it apart / Grit your teeth and take two’. They’re not the best lyrics to be fair!

You’ve got a mixed-gender band which is a bit unusual because most local bands seem a bit laddy.

Lee: When you say laddy you mean quite butch and a bit more attitude? I think most bands are like that in Southampton. I’m not into music that’s bullish and all really arrogant and stuff, but I don’t like all music just because it’s by women.

Do you feel that Pivotal move away from ‘LAD’ music?

Chloe: I don’t think you could tell just by listening to it, unless you’ve got a female singer I don’t know how you’d tell.
Lee: I think a lot of people are surprised when they find out there’s two females in the band because, I don’t know, it’s just usually there’s not.
Chloe: Maybe the synths might sound a bit ‘female’, do you think? There’s that twinkly stuff you do in ‘Messner’ that’s pretty girly.
Lucy: Yeah, I suppose.
Lee: I just think that sounds loads like The National.
Lucy: There’s a few little piano arpeggios in there.
Ben: It’s definitely a good gimmick having that gender split.
Lee: Anything that gets you talked about is a good thing.
Lee: I’ll be honest I was quite reluctant to have like, when me and Lucy were starting out I was a bit ooh… but I sold her my Juno [keyboard], we cracked out some tunes and then it’s built from there. It wasn’t something we looked for with a drummer to have another female in the band.
Chloe: But you couldn’t say no!
Lee: We tried out a few drummers and Chloe was the one that just fitted the bill basically.
Chloe: Some girls are good at drumming, did you know?
Lucy: Guy drummers are shocked that Chloe’s a drummer, it cracks me up.
Ben: Yeah it’s very rare to have a really good female drummer.
Chloe: Thanks, Ben.
Ben: Not saying that you are, but when you think female drummer you think like Meg White, really simplistic.

Didn’t Meg White ruin it for girl drummers?

Chloe: No, she was great because all I have to do now is play one thing and everyone’s ‘wow, you’re amazing!’
Lee: It’s quite a good balance we have, we have a good laugh which is important. We all get on.
Lucy: It’s quite nice to hear the guy views on things and the girl views on things
Lee: We were having a funny conversation just a minute ago actually, but we won’t go into that.
Lucy: Rude stuff always comes up
Lee: Rude stuff, yeah, naked pictures and stuff, shenanigans, who’s sending who – Not within the band! But yeah we have a good laugh.

Do you feel that you fit into the local scene?

Chloe: Not really. We get asked that question quite a bit, and I think there aren’t any bands we’ve played with that we’ve felt particularly well aligned with.
Lee: I think that’s quite a beautiful thing about us, is that we’re the only band that I’ve heard in Southampton that sounds anything like we do.
Ben: I think there are some good bands knocking around Southampton.
Chloe: We all decided we liked, well they’re from Portsmouth so it’s cheating, but Kassassin Street.
Lee: They were really good, we played with them the other night, they were on after us.
Chloe: Do we like any other bands? I’m sure there’s loads we just haven’t seen them.
Lee: There are good bands they’re just not our bag I think.
Lucy: We’re not really in the scene as such.

What about the influence of Southampton as a city on the music?

Chloe: The girls of Southampton!
Lee: Most of the girls that come through the lyrics aren’t from Southampton to be honest.
Ben: Mia’s a foreigner isn’t she
Lee: Yeah, she’s a foreigner, let’s leave that there…
Lucy: There’s some lyrics about the city, ‘Social Minefield’, that’s about Southampton
Lee: Hold on, I can’t remember the song
Ben: It’s got those elements of Southampton nightlife.
Lee: Yeah we’ve got a song called ‘Social Minefield’ which is pretty much just like about the bullishness of how people can get when they’ve had a few drinks and how things get out of hand, shit like that.

All the big grey buildings make it seem a bit industrial.

Lucy: Post-war really.
Lee: I think that comes through, I want that to come through in our artwork in a way, I think our music’s quite industrial and cold in that sort of sense. I tried taking some pictures of the docks for some artwork but they haven’t come out very well.

How did you end up with the artwork for the ‘Within Circles’ EP?

Lee: We basically had the dandelion from an old picture Lucy had taken. We then worked on the idea of it falling apart or dying, or is it starting new beginnings? It’s open to interpretation… Basically, it works well with the songs which are about the same things but in life.

Within Circles Cover

Pivotal release their ‘Within Circles EP’ at The Cellar, Southampton on Friday 19th July. The group for the event is here, you can buy tickets here. Like Pivotal on Facebook here and follow them on soundcloud here.

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“We’ve got teeth and we’re not afraid to use them” – AiA meets Public Service Broadcasting

In which PSB discuss their debut album, WWII and the EDL, Mogwai, Interpol, potential collaborators and classical music.

Public Service Broadcasting Album

It was in February when I was invited up to a secret room in The Railway, Winchester for a chance to chat with 6music darlings and sample wizards Public Service Broadcasting on their tour of then-new single Signal 30. With some gentle Clarinet drifting in from The Railway’s upstairs stage, mastermind J. Willgoose Esq. and rhythm chief Wrigglesworth take me from the formation of the group to the release of their debut LP Inform, Educate, Entertain (out now in all good record stores) and via the British Empire and the EDL…

We’ll begin at the beginning, how did you decide to start making this kind of music?

[J Willgoose Esq] We’re gonna get asked that quite a lot, yeah, I don’t really know. I mean, I was listening to an archive hour program on radio 4, which seems apt enough, it was Tom Robinson presenting a program about the release of some new COI [Central Office of Information] films online and one of them was quite a famous one called ‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases’. I ended up making a song using that as the basis for it and then played it to a few people and they said it was actually quite good, which was the first time I’d ever played anyone anything and they said it was quite good so just carried on from there really, and things have grown beyond all my biggest hopes really.

Before then had you played in any bands or made music before?

[JWE] I’d been through several incarnations, yeah, never had any success really, at all. I’d always played guitar, guitar was sort of the main thing and a couple of my old bands sort of broke up so I started learning how to do stuff on my own, and learning how to record stuff, and make things sound alright. So it as all kind of leading towards it without really knowing it.

Is getting the samples from the films a pretty difficult thing to do?

[JWE] It depends who owns the rights to be honest with you, it’s the BFI who gave us all The War Room footage. They’re extraordinary, they’re brilliant, you can just phone them up and say… well I did just phone them up and say this is what we do, this is what I’d like to do and I sent them an example video and I think they got over some initial confusion and then they’ve been right behind us all the way, really supportive and really accommodating. And then there’s other people who you just kind of meet a corporate wall of ‘you need to pay us £400 pounds for every 5 seconds’.

How much of the music that you make is dictated by the films you pick or is it the other way round?

[JWE] Sometimes I’ve got a musical idea and it sends me off looking for films in a certain way, like for Signal 30, which is going to be the new single, I had a very fast aggressive guitar, most of it written, and I thought, well what could that song possibly be about, well there’s loads of driving information films I’m sure, if you’re gonna about ‘don’t drive fast’ it should probably be a fast song, counter-intuitively. In that case it was that way round, but in other cases, with ‘Everest’ for example, it was the other way round. I don’t write to picture, I don’t sit there and try and come up with a melody while watching people go up a mountain, I just take a feel from it away and then write something, then go back to it and try and put it together.

How important is the video to the music? Pretty much everything you’ve released has had a video to go along with it.

[JWE] Well when it started it was just me, and no telly or anything, and then after a year of doing gigs, and it went down really well, then I added the television and edited the films so they all kind of fit, it started to go down even better because I think people could kind of see, it’s a big visual element I suppose. In a way it’s become the frontman, it’s what takes people’s attention and we just get on with playing the music around it and just enjoying ourselves really. It’s quite good because it’s a frontman without any ego or any ridiculous rider requirements.

Is the album finished?

[JWE] It is finished, the title is ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’, in keeping with our Reithian ideals [John Reith founded the BBC with those ideals]. We’re basically putting it out ourselves so there’s been quite a bit of stuff to do behind the scenes. Somehow I’m now the owner of two limited companies, which is a bit odd, hopefully I don’t get disqualified from running them.

Do you feel there’s any political edge to the music you make?

[JWE] There probably is. With the World War Two footage it was really hard trying to make it as apolitical as possible; just try to leave it as a comment on what people at the time thought of it rather than try and put any of my own spin on it. I really didn’t want to do make it very patriotic, and a few people have picked up on it, and that’s what I really appreciate. ‘Spitfire’ for example, so many reviews of it say, it’s a stirring, patriotic thing… with a Krautrock beat, and yeah, good, glad you got that, because it’s supposed to undercut any y’know… God forbid the bloody English Defence League get hold of it, that’d be horrendous.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with patriotism, it’s not believing your country is better. There’s nothing wrong with saying you’re happy to be from England. I am very happy to be from England, I think you’re incredibly lucky if you’re born in this country, even today. But I certainly don’t go out there waving flags around, I don’t get involved in Jubilee celebrations or anything like that.

When I was listening to ‘London Can Take It’, it’s very hard not to feel a stirring pride with those words.

[JWE] Well, actually, as someone from London that probably was a bit more from the heart, from me, maybe. You can kind of name on one hand songs about London, but people fawn all over New York, Alicia Keys and bloody Frank Sinatra, Ryan Adams, millions of songs. Even Manchester, I reckon, has more songs, Doves, Elbow, The Smiths, everybody’s on about how great Manchester is. Maybe London doesn’t need to do that because it’s big enough and self-assured enough that it doesn’t have to shout about it, but I was of the view that it’d be quite nice to write a song about my hometown. Yeah, maybe there was a bit more, personal feeling in that one. I don’t think that’s particularly tub-thumping, just a bit of pride maybe.

What kind of bands are influencing the music you make? With The War Room EP, I definitely heard a lot of Kid A / Amnesiac era Radiohead.

[JWE] You’re the first person who’s said that, but that’s good because there definitely is. Kid A is probably one of my all-time favourites. I’ve got it framed in my living room at home, it’s an extraordinary album. Definitely Radiohead, as I get older I just listen to more and more stuff y’know. The rhythm from ‘London Can Take It’ is actually taken from, well I got mildly obsessed with this Dancehall compilation called ‘Invasion of the Mysteron Killer Sounds’. It’s all like ‘boom boom cha, boom boom cha’ so I kind of borrowed that and wormed its way in. Various other bits and bobs, I found some amazing south Indian soundtrack music and some of that got in there on various levels. The bedrock, my musical education it was Oasis when I was about 14 and then moved on to Radiohead. I’ve got a soft spot for John Squire of the Stone Roses, I have to say, but I can’t play guitar like him, so we’re never going to sound like them.

There’s a bit of post-rock in there as well…

[JWE] Definitely Mogwai, I must have seen them about 15 times I think so it’d be amazing if none of it got in there somehow. We actually ended up by a strange twist of fate recording the drums, which are the only things recorded in a studio, most of the drums were done in Mogwai’s studio. I used to work with one of the guys that helped set the whole thing up and they kind of own part of that studio so their guitarist came in one day when we were just recording drums but I was too shy to say anything. They’d just finished working on that soundtrack they’re doing quite a lot of pres for at the moment, Les Revenants. I’ve got a photo actually of their hard disks: master and backup. They’re right next to each other, that’s not much of a back up, if the whole place goes up, oh where’s the backup. Ask Wrigglesworth something, he’s getting left out here…

We could do some drum talk, are you playing an all acoustic kit?

[Wrigglesworth] No I’ve got a lot of triggers and a pad, a Roland SPD-SX, it’s really good actually, I’d recommend that strongly. I play a Pearl Masters MMX kit to be precise. To be honest, I don’t know much about drums, I just hit them. I get what I think sounds nice and play it.

[JWE] His snare drum does sound very nice

[Wr] It’s a black panther.

[JWE] Yeah but I don’t think he knew that. Somebody came up to him and was like, “That snare, is that a black panther you’re playing?” “uhhhhhh….”

[Wr] I looked at the side and was like, “yeah actually!”

Public Service Broadcasting Live

Do you have any plans for expanding the sound?

[JWE] He’s a mean percussion player so the plan is to get him a little glockenspeil, xylophone, marimba… We can sneak it in there between the two toms. No it’d be nice to get some live glockenspiel in there, have you ever seen Wilco live? Their drummer does an amazing thing he plays two mallet glock while playing the drums with the other hand it’s absolutely incredible, just watching him open mouthed like how is he doing that… So that’s what we’re going to do.

I think one thing that has kinda characterised it, I’ve been doing this for about 4 years, is it’s just been getting bigger and bigger, not in an unnatural way but in a quite organic way. I think you’ve gotta keep, not building, but at least changing things and definitely the next thing after this album I’d love to get more musicians involved, different musicians, different kinda sonic pallet, broadening it out a bit.

Any collaborators you’d like to work with?

[JWE] Ha, I’ve got a long list. Eventually it’d be nice, if it happens in a natural way, it’d be nice to start having some vocals on some records. For some reason I got asked, and it was one of the few questions that’s ever riled me, ‘what happens when you run out of footage?’ Who else gets that, why do we get that? When they said ‘what happens when you run out’, well, first of all do you know how much footage there is, even in the BFI’s archive? You could work on that for years and have enough variety and enough stuff to keep you going. Secondly, would you say that to singers, ‘what happens when you run of notes? There’s only 12 of them, what are you gonna do?’  That mildly annoyed me and we’ve had it from a few critics as well, they think it’s a bit short-lived maybe, maybe it’s a one-album thing, but I’m quite stubborn. I’m quite keen to prove people wrong so hopefully we will. We’re not taking anything for granted anyway, I’ve got an idea for the next thing and I hope it’s gonna be big enough and different enough that we could silence a few people.

Your music has been really popular with the public as a whole, you won rebel playlist 4 times, is there something about your music that resonates faster than other people’s?

[JWE] Yeah, I don’t know what that’s about. I mean each time I thought ‘we’re not going to win’. The first time we were on it we had 250 people following us on Facebook and one band had 20,000 and we won. We seem to have quite an active following. They don’t just seem to like it and think it’s ‘alright’, they actually seem to get into it and really buy into it, which is absolutely fantastic. So… Thanks!

I think part of it might be that with instrumental music it’s easier to bring your own feelings to it, you don’t have somebody’s ego stamped all over it with a singer wailing all over it. For me a lot of the reasons I don’t like bands are that I don’t like the voice. Like The Smiths, I like the music but Morrissey’s voice is all throaty, it’s the same melody it’s up and down, it’s boring. You can’t really say that with speech, that the melody’s boring, it’s just speaking some words. I think for people of a certain age the WWII stuff gets an instant response, especially people who lived through it: I went to speak to Janice Long on Radio 2, and it has an older audience anyway, and she’d had an email in from ‘Muriel’ which tells you enough anyway, and when ‘London Can Take It’ came on and she heard the air raid sirens she burst into tears instantly and then threw up, and then listened to the rest of the song and loved it.

My aunt, who’s kind of the matriarch of my dad’s side of the family, she gave me all the photos of George Willgoose whose banjolele was passed down to me. He was 26 when he died at Dunkirk and she can remember being in the Second World War. I just think our generation doesn’t have a clue, including me, we don’t have a clue. You see some of the photos in the film for ‘London Can Take It’ especially, it’s just staggering. If you can imagine that happening every day, people getting on with it without fuss, not going on twitter to moan about the tube being down.

It’s interesting you say that because I think a lot of the way we choose to define ourselves is buried in the Second World War era, that’s why the EDL and such like to go on about it. It’s a key part of the British Identity, all the underdog spirit is borne out of the last great thing we actually did.

[JWE] And it was a great thing. There’s no beating around the bush there, that was the right side to be on unequivocally. I haven’t read much about WWII and I didn’t do History so I don’t want to start pronouncing on things I have no idea about but it did financially break the country and that’s why the empire collapsed because we basically bankrupted it for years fighting this war, even with America’s help which was sizeable to say the least. It was our last hurrah I suppose. I wouldn’t say it was a Pyrrhic victory but it was almost verging on that because we lost the influence we’d had up to that point. I can understand why it’s a very evocative period that some people hold on to but I think it’s good to move on from it.

Are you trying to move away from the WWII focus of The War Room now?

[JWE] Yes! Although Signal 30 was actually written before The War Room, I’ve been playing it since mid-2010 I think. It’s gone through a few incarnations and it’s kind of got heavier and heavier actually. So it’s not so much ‘after the war where do you go next’, Everest was a bit like that, I’d had my head in WWII for six months, I’d like something a bit more stirring and a bit more uplifting rather than terrifying. I thought it’d be really nice to do something with a good story, so yes Everest was a response to that. With Signal 30, we don’t ever want to repeat ourselves or get caught in a rut so we kind of wanted to show people, especially people who haven’t come to our live show where the intensity is a bit raised anyway, deliberately, that it’s not all received pronunciation, we have got teeth as well and we’re not afraid to use them. Which is good, when I go and see a band I want them to be like the band plus one.

Who have you seen that have really done that?

[JWE] Well Mogwai, for years and years and years. They’ve got an intensity live that’s extraordinary, and they’re also extremely loud, trouser flapping loud. I quite like that element to it. Bon Iver was one, after his first album, saw him in London and that was, after Radiohead at South Park, the best gig I’ve ever been to. Just walked away from that going like ‘what’s the point in trying to do anything’ it was just stupidly good. There’s been a few bands, like I remember going to see Interpol after their second album, their album is great, well the first two were great and after that it goes downhill a bit. I went to see them and just about halfway through I realised they were playing everything exactly like it is on the record. That’s not what you want to hear when you go and see a band, you want it to be kinda like the record and then more. You want it to be a different experience, more intense, maybe a bit louder and maybe a bit harder. That’s kind of what’s guiding our live ethos I suppose.

Well, that’s most of my questions, only one left which is: who are you listening to now?

[JWE] I went on holiday recently and I think I took the new Bat for Lashes, which was good, I listened to the new Dutch Uncles, which was good, and a lot of old stuff really, just discovering old stuff, a lot of funk especially.

[Wr] I’m listening to a lot of Mozart at the moment… Only because it’s soothing for babies

[JWE] He’s just had a nipper…

Do you listen to a lot of classical music then?

[JWE] A bit… It’s all quite melodic, nothing that left field. Tchaikovsky would probably be my number one, it’s about melody for me and the melodies in there are just ridiculous. The Planets, it’s cheesy maybe, but the trouble with classical music is it’s been on so many adverts and you hear these amazing pieces and you think ‘oh it’s the Dulux advert’. It’s such a terrible thing to say…

And on that bleak note, I left for the bar, and prepared myself for their set, which you can see a review of here. Many thanks to the kind folks as PSB HQ and the band for the interview. Go buy their album now.

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The 5 Best EPs of 2012

With the impeding approach of the all-important Album of 2012 list, and still a bit knackered from dealing with the behemoth Top 50 Songs of 2012, I thought I’d take a bit of time to celebrate the craft of the Extended Play. It’s a format that is becoming ever more important in the way that modern music functions. For starters it’s a great way for people to see if the bands are any good beyond one initial tune, it’s also vital for the bands themselves, so that they don’t rush headfirst into a 12-track album, but are still able to build a high profile. Their bargain price also means that I actually bought all of these releases, without the worry of forking out a tenner for something that could be crap.

Competition was incredibly high, and it’s worth saying that the order of the top 3 could be debated, but I had to pick one, and I absolutely stand by my decision. Commiserations to Haim, whose Forever EP nearly made it in, but I could never shake the vibe of the 80s off it. Pale Seas also had a release I liked in The Devil Waltz but it just didn’t have the power that these ones did.

5 – Twigs – Twigs

Twigs - Twigs

Twigs will win no awards for best cover art of the year, but this EP is a thing of unnatural beauty. Originally mysteriously anonymous and with only two intense songs and videos on youtube, this artist rose to prominence after being tipped by Grimes on Twitter. One of those two tracks was in my Top 50 of 2012, so when this EP was released only last week I was delighted. The Grimes comparisons only run so far, with opener ‘Weak Spot’ taking more from Massive Attack. Skittery drums and off-kilter beats give Twigs a very singular sound, intensely rhythmical without ever settling. ‘Ache’ is a masterpiece of dark beauty, with a genius video, while ‘Breathe’ is delicate twisted pop, and the closer, ‘Hide’, is a prorof of the minimalist music genius herein. This is edgy, dark and creepy music, and a sign that we might have a UK Grimes on our hands if the promise of these tracks can be fulfilled with the next release. The album is probably best experienced via her tumblr and watching all four songs through their very arty videos.

4 – Savages – I Am Here

Savages - I Am Here

I don’t need to reiterate why I think Savages are one of the best new bands around to any people unfortunate enough to talk to me about music in real life. Simply enough, Savages are a band that plunder one of the golden eras of music, the early punk/post-punk scene, specifically bands like Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. By moving from being more influenced by the latter than the former with this EP Savages pushed further ahead with dips into quieter moments while never letting the tension up. This EP was taken from recording of the band life and the ferocity, aggression and, yes, savagery of their playing really comes across. Saving their defining song, ‘Husbands’ (again, one of my Top 50) till last ensures that when this record ends, the only thing you want to do is get to a Savages show, that’s if you can resist throwing yourself around the room with the pure, unadultarated energy of this insane track.



TNGHT were a revelation. I was fully prepared to be annoyed at them for nicking SBTRKT’s little name trick. That is, until I saw them supporting SBTRKT at Manchester’s Warehouse project. After checking up on them once home I continue to be impressed by this music. The 5 songs here are intense enough to be highlights of any night out, especially the track ‘Higher Ground’ which I cannot resist, but they are all also short enough to prevent getting tired of them, or having to worry about not being sustainable. The genre ‘Trap’ is getting increasingly bandied around, along with the phrase ‘the new dubstep’, and it seems TNGHT may have accidentally placed themselves (renowned producer Hudson Mohawke (Scottish) and Lunice (Canadian)), at the apex of this style, with it’s half time beats and 808 intensiveness, being a strong feature of this EP. The fact this is being taken up by fans of all sorts of music, as well as regularly getting actual club plays proves how good this EP is, with it’s surreal samples and massive beats.

2 – Peace – Delicious

Peace - Delicious

“WHAT! NOT NUMBER ONE!” I hear you yell impotently at your screens. “But, but… it’s so perfect. These four songs, each bringing something unique to the EP, the intro of ‘Ocean’s Eye’, the better-than-Foals-funk-pop of ‘Bloodshake’, the best ballad of the year in ‘California Daze’ and the genius rising, falling waves of the 10 min long trance cover ‘1998 (Delicious)’.” Yes, yes, all of that. This EP is definitely perfect. It put Peace on the map as one of the finest bands in Britain around. The level of musicianship these guys have is ridiculous. I am eternally in awe of the outro to ‘Bloodshake’ where the guitars and drums make impossible rhythms seem effortless, and they way they converted trance into psychadelic rock is worthy of worship, making a massive song so easy to listen to. Their album is recorded and ready to be released next year, and seeing as I also love earlier single Follow Baby it’s one of the most anticipated records to come. But this EP is not number 1. Then what is?…

1 – Burial – Kindred

Burial - Kindred

They’ll be two reactions to this news. The first “Who the fuck is Burial and why is this better than Peace”, and the other “Yeh this was an easy guarantee”. Burial is a producer from London who has come to make some of the most important and influential electronic music around. And while I knew this last year, and was familiar with his seminal release Untrue, it wasn’t until I got this EP that Burial unraveled and I could appreciate the genius within. In simple terms these three songs are all longer than a usual Burial track, and it allows each song to fully unravel in a way that cannot fail to blow your mind. Opener ‘Kindred’ takes the trademark choppy garage drumbeat but expands it with this heavy bass, that is immensely unsettling. Multiple times the song seems to just disintegrate completely into this ambient rain-soaked calm before returning with more of the trademark spliced vocal hooks. What instantly makes this release so much more different and so much more special than his other work is the sense of unease and depression that soaks through this track. Electronica music should not be able to be so emotionally affecting, that’s supposed to be the clarion call of the indie-punk guitar bands, the Jake Bugg Tru-Music clan. But somehow this release pulls it off.

And then the EP gets to ‘Loner’ with it’s sampled intro. It moves out of the what we would expect, applying House drums to this consistent aura of darkness. As the vocals slide in and out and the distant bass rolls across arping synths, I am struck yet again by how incredibly powerful this music is. It takes everything that made Kindred so outstanding and keeps applying it to make the single saddest song that can still get your feet dancing. Finally, almost 20 minutes after pressing play we reach track 3, ‘Ashtray Wasp’. Somehow this manages to build the two previous songs into one insane, super-long track that jitters and whirls, fading and returning, shifting and changing.

11 minutes later, after a half hour of music, for only £2.50, we emerge. The oppressive darkness and depression is lifted, and we can reflect on the experience. Thirty minutes of awe-inspiring music, the most intensely affecting electronic music you’re likely ever to hear. While Peace’s EP was perfect and built the anticipation for next years release, this release doesn’t need anything else around it, it is completely fulfilling. The best albums are musical journeys that leave you a slightly different person once they’re finished, like The Suburbs, or It’s A Wonderful Life. Burial is able to accomplish this in only three tracks. For £2.50 you can get a record as good as anything on the upcoming album of 2012 list. So now you’ve read this, what’s stopping you?

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