Album Review – Young Knives: Barbarians

Young Knives – Barbarians

After a seven year absence, Young Knives return with a new album that feels dark, confrontational and a world away from their early troubled meeting with the parents in She’s Attracted To, although the simplistic but heartfelt opening line on Weekends and Bleak Days of ‘Hot Summer, what a bummer’ remains a valid statement of fact in my eyes.

Back in the present day, Barbarians takes much of its inspiration from John Gray’s provocatively nihilistic Straw Dogs, a book that effectively questions the human role in humanity. Taking this standpoint with all that is happening in the world right now, it becomes easier to understand the amplified vigour and aggression of Young Knives’ new sound.

Kicking off with the appropriately named Swarm, things surge straight into a wall of electronic noise and robotic oration. Follow up track Society for Cutting up Men (SCUM) implores, ‘Explain yourself to a live studio audience’, reflecting the need for people to feel seen, heard and validated in today’s society rather than to just do what’s best. Throughout the album, the inflections of psych synths and pounding drum machines ensure that this is a piece of work you need to sit up and pay attention to. There are moments of undeniably PIL-esque rage, in fact ‘Anger is an energy’ might just be the perfect way to describe Barbarians. I get the sense though that this will not end in a butter advert.

Both the title track and recent single Sheep Tick are stand outs, unsettling but arresting in their contention. The album finishes with What I Saw, a fitting close to what, after repeated listens, sounds increasingly like a concept album for the forgotten, dystopian dance-beats for the dissidents. Take a listen and be prepared to hear Young Knives like you never heard them before. 

Barbarians is released on 4th September via Gadzook, you can pre-order the album in various formats with some limited edition options here. Watch the video for Sheep Tick below.

Review by Siobhan 

28th August 2020

 

Street Smart – Urban Art

From scrawls on walls to guerilla street art, paste-ups and commissioned coverings, there are mixed media messages all around us. Sometimes thought provoking, often temporary, even the biggest names can be cleaned away overnight so enjoy them while you can. Here are a few that caught my eye, some grander than others, all taken in Worthing and Brighton…

I don’t have details for all the artists shown, feel free to let us know if you can fill in any gaps. Some of those whose work is featured above can be found on the following Instagram links:
Mick Mowgli  |  Horace  |  Minty  |  Broken Hartist  |  The Postman

Photos © 16 Beasley St Photography

25th August 2020

New Music – Bandante | Baby Vanga

New releases – Bandante, Baby Vanga

Bandante – So This is Now (music/video)

When he’s not playing guitar with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, George Vjestica fires some of the many strings from his bow into his always organic project Bandante, in which he records and collaborates with other musicians, artists and film-makers. The latest offering from Bandante is So This is Now, featuring visuals from Timothy Shepard, a contemporary artist who works with film, music, paper and photo montage.

The track is a multi-layered pool of crescendo and decline, a backdrop to modern day living that could conjure up powerful imagery on its own. However, the addition of Shepard’s cut up representation of dystopian protest is equally as compelling. There is talk of further collaboration between the two in the form of a sound and vision installation; based on this piece, it feels like that would be an experience to relish.

Watch the video for So This is Now below.

Bandante

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Baby Vanga – Electric Air (single)

If your genre pick is a fusion of psychedelic jazz and Latin funk, then Baby Vanga should be right up your street. If you just want to watch a video featuring safari suits, 60’s roll-necks and flying cars, you’re also in luck. With their latest single Electric Air, the band bring you kaleidoscopic nods to 5th Dimension’s Age of Aquarius updated with subtle jazz infusions and flute runs to hypnotise your mind into forgetting your troubles. The easy flow of the track belies the combination of instruments and flawless mixing and, as they’ve done all the hard work, you can dust off your flares, sit back and relax to the Baby Vanga soundtrack. The band say, “Electric Air is a brief exploration into the endless journey of finding purpose within actions, yet being aware of the beauty in the actions themselves. Reflecting this is the insecure effect of the odd time enclosed by entwining genres, that’s contrasted by lighthearted melodies and the overall optimism the song tries to illustrate.”

Strap yourselves in and watch the video for Electric Air below.

Baby Vanga

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Both tracks have been added to our Now Listening playlist

Words by Siobhan
Bandante photo © Michael Dent

19th August 2020

Interview – Annie Taylor

Ahead of the release of their debut album Sweet Mortality next month, we had a chat with grunge-psych-pop quartet Annie Taylor. Named after the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, the band are fast making a name of their own with their energy filled tunes and performances; get to know them better here…

Introduce us to Annie Taylor, who’s involved in the band?

We are a four-piece band from Zurich, Switzerland. There is Tobi on the guitar, Michael on the bass, Jan on the drums and I (Gini) am singing and playing guitar.

How are things with you, is lockdown still easing in Zurich?

Currently, it seems like people are getting aware again, that we are still in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. I guess everyone is longing to get back to their usual nightlife habits, but at the moment it looks like there will be no big events taking place anytime soon. But who knows? Could all be different by tomorrow…

And musically how have you managed to keep things going this year?

It was like being on a rollercoaster! We had so many plans in the beginning of 2020 that we were looking forward to: US tour, shows in the UK and festivals in Switzerland. Having the whole US tour and basically all festivals cancelled was a real bummer. And on top of that we also had to reschedule the release of our first album, which was not an easy decision… But on the other hand we suddenly had so much time again to spend with loved ones, writing music or just hanging around. It was a pretty busy time for us in the past year, so this ‘just hanging around’ phase was actually also pretty cool.

Your album Sweet Mortality is due for release in September – tell us about it, what have been the highlights of making the LP?

This was the first time that we actually recorded in a proper studio, where the sole focus was the making of this album. In the beginning of the band it was hard to pay for a studio, so on the previous recordings we got lucky to work with sound-engineering students, that needed some projects to work on in order to improve their skill set. This time, it was completely different. We recorded with engineer and producer David Langhard the first single of the album (17 Days) and it just instantly clicked. Spending time with him and recording at Dala Studios was a blast and I can’t wait to return! The whole production of the album recordings, artwork, music video and so on was really exciting and we also had a lot of support from very talented friends who helped us out wherever they could.

You have a vinyl option for the album, why do you think vinyl’s so popular again?

In our digital world, we are able to listen to whatever we want at any time. But I think it rocks when you go to a concert and buy a vinyl so you can actually hold the music in your hands. I guess it’s also a reminder of the good old times – vinyl forever!

Which other artists have been on your lockdown playlist?

We actually made a lockdown playlist and it turned out as a wild mix of everything! There’s songs of our favourite artists like Wolf Alice, Bleached or Amyl and the Sniffers on it, but also we discovered a lot of unknown artists during the lockdown, which made it on the playlist (I am very happy about getting introduced to Jessica Lea Mayfield!). You can listen to the playlist here:


And what’s your local music scene like, where have you rehearsed and played since the band started and who’s helped you along the way?

There are a lot of really nice venues in Zurich which are hosting a lot of amazing artists. So we are actually very spoiled, when it comes to listening to live music. A lot of touring bands make a quick stop in Zurich, which is awesome! We were lucky to open for bands that we are looking up to, like Sugar Candy Mountain or Sunflower Bean.

Thanks to the lockdown we finally cleaned out our rehearsal space, where we are practicing A LOT. It’s a shelter without windows, in an industrial basement. It’s not the nicest place to hang out, but it’s comfy. Sometimes we also have friends over and every once in a while our label daddy Piet (Taxi Gauche Records) or our booking and MGMT team from Young and Aspiring are popping round with some refreshments, i.e. cold beers.

Any album, any film and any book – what do you choose?

Jan’s pick: The movie Hidden Figures – it’s a very powerful movie about kick ass women and black community power.

Michael’s pick: Motörhead –1916, favorite album ever.

Tobi’s pick: The Ozzy Book. Why? I think this is the only book he ever read, lol.

Gini’s pick: I am hooked on the crime podcasts by GEO Epoche – it’s about historical crimes from the past.

Lastly, what are your hopes and plans for Annie Taylor over the coming year?

Right now, all we are hoping for is that the venues are surviving the pandemic and we can go play shows again.

You can pre-order Sweet Mortality prior to its release on 4th September via Taxi Gauche Records. Catch up with Annie Taylor here and check out latest release Where the Grass is Greener below.

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Piet Alder

13th August 2020

A Song for the Times – i refuse to die

Sydney Sprague, a Phoenix, Arizona singer-songwriter, has just released i refuse to die from her upcoming album Maybe I’ll See You at The End of The World. The title is a line from the song End of the World, written two years ago. All this music was written and recorded prior to the pandemic so it seems even more significant for the times we are living in.

Sydney started playing guitar at 11, appearing at coffee shops and malls with the support of her parents. Her dad was often her roadie as well. She moved to Austin, Texas at 18 for a short while before returning to continue writing and performing in Phoenix for the last 10 years. She has released 3 EPs since 2015. I’ve been fortunate to see her many times at Phoenix venues before everything shut down. It’s been fun to watch her grow musically and get to know her.

In January of this year Sydney headed up to Seattle, Washington for a month to work with producer/engineer Sam Rosson to record the album. She was joined by Chuck Morriss III, on bass and synth, and Josh Morin, on drums, both musicians from Jared and The Mill, a band out of Phoenix. Once the project was done, it was mixed by Mike Lepe and now is just waiting for release.

Sydney wrote i refuse to die in December prior to recording, to force herself to remain positive and not wait for the other shoe to drop. The song starts softly, switches to uptempo, then returns to the beginning tempo. She explores what is necessary to keep moving forward.

Because of the limitation placed on being safely in one place, Sydney created a video for the song by using a green screen, using her phone and spending two weeks learning how to use the software to create the video with Rachael (Ray Squared Productions) Smith helping with the news ticker. Set up as a news broadcast, Sydney and Chuck are the newscasters. It is a fun visual interpretation of the song that brings some lightness into these dark times we are living in. The song is on all streaming platforms; you can watch the video below and find more from Sydney Sprague here.

Words and photos (taken prior to lockdown) © Jennifer Mullins

10th August 2020

New Music – Hallan | Medium Love | Susan

New releases – Hallan, Medium Love, Susan

Hallan – Modern England (single)

Released today, Hallan’s latest single Modern England takes an askance look at the paradox of the nation, questioning what’s important as people stumble through life changing events whilst clinging on to social media trends and likes. The band describe the track thus, “With so many strange and vapid trends gripping the nation sometimes you have to take it all in and find some humour beneath the surface. Pugs and face changing apps. What’s that all about? And how could we forget Brexit? It’s a good job we all have our red passports. But then again does anyone in the country have a clue what’s ever going on? Maybe it’ll all blow over if I stick to my microwave dinner and keep my eyes on the screen.” Hallan sit alongside contemporaries like Squid and Shame, both in terms of musical style and observational lyrical content. It’s a real pity that there’s no opportunity to see these new tracks live right now, but don’t let this band pass you by as they seem to be producing consistently quality songs.

 

Hallan

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Medium Love – Overcoming Shyness (EP)

Releasing their debut EP today, Medium Love proffer four tracks filled with sun-kissed guitar riffs and hazy indie-pop that would ironically be perfect for a sunny day at a festival – alas, we can still only dream. Born from the break up of trippy songsters Big Deal, there are unsurprisingly some similarities in the harmonies but the overall sound feels clearer and more absorbent. With a hint of nostalgia and changes in pace between each of the tracks, Overcoming Shyness is a solid introduction to the band, displaying their ability to capture different moods and emotions in the blink of an eye. Vocalist Kacey Underwood says, “Most of my songs come to me in dreams – they are the soundtrack, sometimes I write about what happened in the dream or how it made me feel, I keep a phone by my bed to spit in all out before it evaporates into dream dust”. Take a listen to some captured dream dust here.

 

Medium Love

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Susan – Rose (single)

Hypnotic track Rose is the fourth in a series of monthly releases from Susan, an experimental pop artist who is creating an innovative mix of haunting melodies entangled with an ominous electro/guitar cacophony of sound. That may suggest something a bit disturbing but the result is really quite beautiful. Each monthly release will be backed with a visual created by different artists and videographers; this looks like a project that is definitely worth taking some time out to discover and embrace in all its other-worldly charms. Susan says, Rose is a track written about finding yourself within spaces where self love isn’t acceptable; Eventually pushing you to a place where you experience a higher knowledge of self. It’s about realising your worth through self doubt and depreciation… It needed to invoke the unsettling feeling of not understanding deeply who you are.”

 

Susan

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Words by Siobhan

7th August 2020

 

Exhibition – David Goldblatt | Johannesburg 1948 – 2018 (Goodman Gallery)

Exhibition, Goodman Gallery, London, until 25th August 2020 
David Goldblatt | Johannesburg 1948 – 2018

Header image: Margaret Mcingana, who later became famous as the singer Margaret Singana, at home, Sunday afternoon, Zola, Soweto, October 1970

Born in 1930 in Randfontein, David Goldblatt’s photography captured a reality of living through South African apartheid that was never shown on the news, his images conveying a very real picture of life and the people in his homeland; he is famously quoted as saying, “I was drawn not to the events of the time but to the quiet and commonplace where nothing ‘happened’ and yet all was contained and imminent”.

Domestic worker on Abel Road, Hillbrow, March 1973

His interest in taking photographs started at a young age, but running the family business sidelined his pursuits behind the camera until 1963, when he sold the company to focus solely on a career in photography. Having become a part of numerous artistic circles in Johannesburg, he was able to integrate with a wide range of groups in the community which, in turn, allowed him access to shoot in situations and capture portraits where others couldn’t. As his love for photography grew, Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop to allow for visual literacy and photographic skills to be taught to the younger generation. He went on to receive numerous awards and honorary doctorates and to have his work exhibited worldwide.

Baby with child-minders and dogs in the Alexandra Street Park, Hillrow, 1972

This latest exhibition captures his view of Johannesburg from 1948 until his death in 2018; the shots included will provide an important social document for many years to come. Excerpts from the press release below:

Left: An office worker from Tsmeb on holiday,
in a rooming house on Abel Road, Hillbrow, March 1973
Right: Rochelle and Samantha Adkins, Hillbrow, 1972

‘Goodman Gallery presents Johannesburg 1948 – 2018, the acclaimed South African photographer David Goldblatt’s first major solo exhibition in London since 1986. Renowned for a lifetime of photography exploring his home country, Goldblatt produced an unparalleled body of work within the city of Johannesburg, where he lived for 70 years. At age 17, Goldblatt would hitchhike from Randfontein, the small mining town where he was born, into Johannesburg. He walked around the city until the next morning, talking to night watchmen and following his intuition: “People would ask me what I was doing, and I would say, ‘I’m poeging. I’m walking around the city; I’m learning the city, and trying to take photographs.” This process became the foundation of his practice.

Coronation Restaurant in the Diagonal St Fruit Market, January 1962

The exhibition maps Goldblatt’s evolution of work in a city divided by structural racism and subject to waves of trauma and resistance. Goldblatt was engaged in the conditions of society – the values by which people lived – rather than the climactic outcomes of those conditions. He intended to discover and probe these values through the medium of photography…

Schoolboy, Hillbrow, June 1972

David Goldblatt died at his home in Johannesburg in June 2018. Working until shortly before his death, he remained, to the last, “a self-appointed observer and critic of the society into which I was born”. In 2011, art critic and social commentator Mark Gevisser described Goldblatt as “the doyen of South African photography” who cast “so clear an eye over the South African landscape […] that he has become the country’s visual conscience”.’

Portrait photographer and client, Braamfontein, 1955

David Goldblatt | Johannesburg 1948 – 2018 is on now at Goodman Gallery until 25th August 2020

Goodman Gallery, 26 Cork Street, London W1S 3ND
Opening times Mon – Fri 11am – 5pm
As with all public spaces, if you’re feeling unwell please stay at home to keep everyone safe

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Goodman Gallery; photos are © David Goldblatt, please do not reproduce without agreement

Intro by Siobhan

6th August 2020

Exhibition – Bill Brandt | Henry Moore (The Hepworth Wakefield)

Exhibition, The Hepworth Wakefield, 1st August – 1st November 2020
Bill Brandt | Henry Moore

Header image: Bill Brandt, Henry Moore, 1948, gelatine silver print, Hyman Collection London © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd – reproduced by permission of The Henry Moore Foundation

Photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) and sculptor Henry Moore (1898-1986) first met during the Second World War, when they were commissioned by the UK government to create images of civilians sheltering from the bombings of Blitz in the London Underground. Over 50 years later, this initial link forms the basis of an exhibition currently housed at The Hepworth Wakefield, newly reopened since the weekend.

The Hepworth Wakefield © Hufton & Crow

Bill Brandt is recognised as one of the masters of 20th century photography, his work ranging from social documentary to surrealism. His role as staff photographer for the Home Office brought him to the wartime role – he had already been capturing life in the capital for some years, contributing to magazines and publishing two books, The English at Home (1936) and A Night in London (1938). His later work included distorted nudes, portraits and landscapes.

Bill Brandt, Nude, East Sussex Coast, gelatine silver print, 1960,
Bill Brandt Archive London © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd

In the 1940s, Henry Moore was commissioned by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee to produce illustrations  of the work being carried out in collieries where the ‘Bevin Boys’ were conscripted to mine for the coal used to fuel armaments factories. The style of these drawings and those that he made of the mass air raid shelters are very similar, using wax crayon, watercolour, pen and ink. Better known for his monumental brass sculpted forms, Moore went on to become one of the best known names in sculpture, his influence still strong amongst many successors.

Henry Moore, Two Piece Reclining Figure No 4, 1961, bronze
The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection)
Photo © Jonte Wilde

The exhibition charts the journey of both artists as their paths continued to cross over the years. Further details from the press release below:

‘Organised in partnership with the Yale Center for British Art, the exhibition will bring together over 200 works including major sculptures, iconic photographs, drawings, little-known photo collages, unprinted negatives and rare original colour transparencies. Bill Brandt | Henry Moore will reveal the interdisciplinary range of these two artists, exploring how they both responded creatively to the British landscape and communities during the turbulent times in which they lived.

The exhibition will open with the moment the artists met in 1942 when Brandt photographed Moore in his studio to accompany a 10-page spread in Lilliput magazine juxtaposing the two artists’ shelter pictures. Brandt was a regular contributor as a photojournalist to Lilliput, a magazine known for its innovative photographic features, and this issue was the first time the two artists’ work was shown side-by-side.

Both artists were often drawn to similar subjects – leading up to and during the Second World War, there was a focus on ordinary people, the home and labour. Brandt’s bleakly evocative photographs of impoverished mining communities and families in the North of England taken in the late 1930s reflect social deprivation. Moore’s later sketches documenting the civilian war effort at his father’s colliery in his home-town of Castleford, although similar in theme, present a more optimistic view…

Henry Moore, Pit Boys at Pit Head, 1942,
pencil, pen, ink, wax coloured crayon & watercolour wash
The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield Permanent Art Collection)

The exhibition will reveal the important relationship for both artists between 2D images and 3D objects. Moore will be presented as a sculptor and draftsman who made a serious commitment to photography both as a creative medium and a means of presenting his work. On display will be little-known photographs of his sculptures, drawn on and collaged together to develop new ideas for future sculpture. Brandt will be revealed as a photographer who looked to sculpture as a subject and as a way of considering nature, landscape, and the human body, as exemplified by a series of rare colour transparencies of sculptural rock formations on the beach.

Bill Brandt |Henry Moore will also examine the complicated relationship between pictures and objects, between ‘primary’ works of art and ‘secondary’ published images used as an important means of disseminating their work to a wide public, and the material nature of the printed photograph.’

Bill Brandt | Henry Moore runs at The Hepworth Wakefield from 1st August – 1st November 2020, after which it will move to Sainsbury Centre, Norwich from 21st November 2020 – 28th February 2021. The exhibition is supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, Hiscox and The Hepworth Wakefield Contemporary Circle.

Social distancing means that numbers in the gallery at any one time will be limited and this may result in short waits during busy times. No cash payments are currently being accepted and booking is advisable; please check the website for updates before visiting and if you are feeling unwell please stay at home.

The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF1 5AW 
Opening times are currently restricted to Wed – Sun 10am – 5pm
Tickets £7.50 / £5 / free for Members, Wakefield residents and under 16s; various permanent exhibitions and the gallery gardens are open free of charge

Sir Michael Craig- Martin, Pitchfork (Yellow), 2013
on display in The Hepworth Wakefield Garden
Photo © Nick Singleton

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Hepworth Wakefield and are copyrighted / owned as credited

Intro by Siobhan

4th August 2020