Leeds, England

indie artrock band from Leeds with more instruments than you. our mums are really proud of us
virgin awful home-recorded EP done and finished, and a dazzlingly shiny single out now. catch us around leeds

Monday 29 February 2016

"frenchgirls" is OUT OUT OUT









tomorrow is the one. the big day. the day you've all (ideally) been waiting for.

that's right, besides justin bieber's birthday, tomorrow is the day we release our EP.

really it's a labour of love, this thing. you can say it's been a long time coming as well: we recorded treeman and catwalk over a year ago now, and the rest back in the autumn. i still fondly remember the day when we walked, baby faced and innocent, into the hallowed rooms of czar street, clutching our instruments and hoping to lay down something special. hopefully we achieved that, although you'll all be the ones to judge. we've had great fun making "frenchgirls" and we're proud of it; with enough luck everybody that hears it will appreciate the effort. i can promise right now that it's a damn sight better than jfkep.

you're all very familiar with catwalk by now, and in fact the majority of you will already know about the various tweaks it's been through to get it to the version that kicks off the EP. i think luka's multi-instrumentalism really shines here, stellar work.

ricochet ricochet is a relatively new song (relatively being the key word because, y'know, it's still like a year and a half old), and was probably the most complicated to work out. there's a lot of trickiness involved, but we came through in the end. while we'll be the first to admit that our live version of it, while getting better, isn't the greatest, on the EP i think we've managed to get it to its full glorious potential.

slippy has had a few incarnations, as have a lot of our songs. it's been through more name changes than any other song we've created, and still nothing we came up with was good enough for us to bother changing from slippy. we've grown to love it, in a way. sounds good too - some nice harms going on in the chorus, props to ben and jamie and me for that.

nine lives actually won the poll that we did on twitter to determine which song we'd release before tomorrow, but y'know, we forgot to release it. sorry. hopefully you can find a way to forgive us. besides, there's only like 6 hours to wait until you can hear it anyway, so no biggie. being in a six piece band it's very hard to do anything subtle, but nine lives is (we think) a very valiant attempt. this version is a tad more fleshy than the live one, but that's not to say that it takes away from the song, which is great.

and you've all heard treeman on fire by now. if you haven't, what the hell. we released it in october bro, get on that shit. the EP version is ohsoslightly different to the single version though... whoever can guess how gets an amazing prize that we'll think of later.

please please please enjoy this EP, you can buy it from our bandcamp or from itunes for only £2 (although it's like 20p more on itunes for some reason), or stream it on our spotify.

and finally, to keep you occupied tonight if you're dedicated to staying up late enough to hear the EP when it drops, thom's made a special playlist on spotify for you all to listen to to get you hyped for the release

let's fuckin go m8 xox

Tuesday 23 February 2016

ep advert

Saturday 13 February 2016

blog 53

woah i can't believe it. only 9 months and we've already made it to blog 53. talk about an achievement. i remember back in the heady days of our youth, when ben first had the idea to write "ouch - the beginning". remember that? remember when ben used to post on here? what a great time... now you've just got me and my stupid ass opinions.
enjoy blog 53 everybody, it's been a wild journey. here's to the next 53 xox
- thom


"frenchgirls" is now AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER exclusively from our bandcamp page yo.
tell your friends and family to reserve their copy now, available as a digital download or a physical cd shipped out in time for march 1st when it goes global on itunes, spotify, bandcamp and wherever else we've cast it on the internet.
those who preorder will also get a free download of treeman on fire to listen to to their heart's content, or at least until you're sick of it. ***for those of you (archie) who've already bought the song, hit us up and we'll give you another goodie instead***

as well as all this, we've just put a poll up on our twitter dot com page which will determine which song from "frenchgirls" we release for streaming ahead of the general release on march 1st. it's probably the most important vote you've ever had to do in your life so please take part and get your gran to take part and all that crap.

man we can't wait to share this ep with everybody, i hope you like it as much as we're proud of it xox

Friday 5 February 2016

"frenchgirls" friday

hey all,

as a treat (and because since we announced the EP two weeks ago and haven't rlly done any hype since), we're gonna drop some facts to you all right now, if you want to know some facts right now.

FACT ONE: "frenchgirls" is coming out on march 1st. but you knew that already. here's the cover -

isn't she a beaut.

FACT TWO: there are going to be five songs on the EP. rather than just list them now, we're gonna kill two birds with one windfarm and show you the back cover - 

banger central am i right

FACT THREE: we're playing a gig tonight, at the brude with NGOD and TREEBOY & ARC. we'll be trying our best to put on a great show and i'm sure we'll succeed. joel dent (photographer and brother) is gonna play drums for us because kit's away, but don't worry we've tested him out and he's cool.
the EP's gonna be available to preorder at the gig, as well as our posters which will still be available to buy off us. if you're super dedicated (or just think we're actually famous) we'll sign them for you.

FACT FOUR: treeman on fire is now on more internet places. we've uploaded it to spotify, itunes and even (i think) tidal, as well as the old places where it still is (bandcamp, soundcloud, youtube etc). funtymes, you can still buy it if you want but to be honest it's gonna be on the EP so you might get better value for money if you wait till march 1st.

 boy oh boy it's great being in a band, thanks everyone
goodnight, have a good one xox


Saturday 23 January 2016

Wednesday 20 January 2016

twenty sixteen

hey what's up we're back yo
got some stuff that we have planned for the next few months:

we're doing a gig! on february fifth at the big ol' brude we're supporting ngod, which is gonna be rad as rad can be. disaster seems to have struck however because kit clark (drummer for the leeds indie band frxxxxgirls) can't make it! fortunately we drafted someone else in, so everything can still go ahead. what, you want to know who the replacement is? i'm afraid you're gonna have to buy a ticket from lunatickets, seetickets, jumbo records or from us for only £5 and come see us to find out *~seamless plug~*

we're selling merchandise! well, specifically, we have some poster left over from girls night ii which are now available to buy on our bandcamp. there's a handful of the actual gig posters (beaut), as well as the (beaut) green and pink setup posters designed by joel dent. they're both pretty incredible and you defo need one in your life. honestly, we are to band posters what breugel was to the renaissance.

we're releasing an EP! not officially yet, but we're gonna make an official announcement on saturday and let y'all know the release date, as well as the title (it's a fantastic title, a fantastic date and a fantastic record). other stuff like tracklists are gonna be announced later on; i'm sure we'll find a unique and exceptional way to tell you all.

and i think that's it, hey what do you think of trump being almost-but-ultimately-probably-not banned from the uk? pretty fucked up how he's allowed in but tyler, the creator has been banned, right? another stupid and unnecessary attack on music, and in particular young black artists (on another note, YET AGAIN no grime recognised at all at the brits despite being the biggest genre to come out of the uk since new order invented dance music). all this and more will be up for debate at the next meeting of the annual frenchgirls discussion club next month... sign up here xox


Saturday 2 January 2016

twenty fifteen's finest albums - according to us

it probably would have made more sense to post this whilst we were still in 2015, but hey ho. why not start the new year with a final look back upon last year's highlights? we've given you our picks for song of the year, but what about those things that have songs on them? we haven't published our opinions on them yet oh wait we just did and that's what this blog is yo. enjoy our list, then go and listen to and enjoy these albums because they're all great. we've enjoyed them a lotttt. kanye's probably happy he hasn't released swish yet, because it'd have tough competition getting into this list i'll tell you that.

20. Mac Demarco - Another One
you can't ever deny that mac knows how to write a decent song or two. we loved this mini album when it dropped, and for a lot of people it became a nice little summer listen. short, sweet and without a poor song, which are all good things. plus he released a 'making of' video which was funny as hell so watch that, as well as listening to this album.

19. Tame Impala - Currents
this album nearly didn't make it onto the list - in fact, it was only luka reminding us the other day of the number of great songs on here that saved it. he's right though - let it happen is a TUNE, nangs is a (too short) TUNE, the moment is a TUNE, the less i know the better is a TUNE, disciples is a TUNE, cause i'm a man is a TUNE. this album flows differently to any record i've heard this year, peculiar but very cool.

18. Jamie xx - In Colour
considering how boring the xx were in their prime (only one moody banger to their name), this album brings a LOT more to the table than jamie could ever manage with whatever the other two are called. this is the xx, thrown through a 90s house kaleidoscope and remoulded into a keyboard heavy, dubby extravaganza. besides i know there's gonna be (good times), which is properly dogshit club-pop, every song on here bangs softly and surely.

17. Wolf Alice - My Love is Cool
who was actually expecting wolf alice to make an album this good though? especially considering their last EP was so crap... this was a very pleasant surprise when i first heard it, from the low key pagan intro track to the reworking of old BANGER fluffy it made some strange choices that - strangely - paid off. i know people berate wolf alice for being a little middle-of-the-road-radio-1-friendly indie, but this album throws a lot of those stereotypes off kilter. an interesting listen, and an excellent one.

16. Ought - Sun's Coming Down
hold on - you're thinking - how come if you said ought wrote the best song of two thousand fifteen their album isn't also one of the very best? well, i hear you. the sad truth is - not every song on this record is as superb as beautiful blue sky. although when you consider than no other song this year was as superb as beautiful blue sky, you'll let ought off. if you like the vocal weirdry and hilarity of bbs, you won't be disappointed with the rest of the record. men for miles is fabulous, passionate turn is fabulous, celebration is fabulous, the rest of the album is fabulous yo and you need to listen to it right now.

15. Pond - Man It Feels Like Space Again
on a track to track basis, this album is fantastically strong. pond are experts at writing great albums - see their last two, hobo rocket and beard, wives, denim for proof of this (or just ask tom adams). this album hops around the psych pop spectrum, the fast juttering beats of elvis' flaming star morphing into the slow balladery of holding out for you, which in turn morphs into the batshit crazy pop riffs of zond. the end of the album sees an acoustic track explode into colour-rock bliss, before the titular track closes the record off with a mad psycho-pop outro that lasts about 5 minutes. this album = fun fun fun.

14. Bjork - Vulnicara
well, this was certainly interesting. bjork is famous now mainly for being batshit crazy all the time, and when we saw that her latest album featured a picture of her with a vagina for a chest, we weren't quite sure how to react. as ever with bjork though, the weirdness of her music didn't take away from the quality - the first track on here is, as are a great number of songs on the record, a lovely balladish song, made strange (of course) by sparse electro drums and bjork's signature 'not-quite-sure-how-to-pronounce-anything' vocals. black lake is another highlight - a 10 minute bonkers string-led dance tune. suck on that, lady gaga.

13. Four Tet - Morning / Evening
it's a wonder four tet was allowed to release this record at all. i mean, if i turned up at a record label saying "yo i've got this album that's two songs long and each song is 20 minutes and don't go anywhere" they'd kick me straight out of their mahogony office. luckily, both the songs on this record are brilliant. also, four tet owns his own label and put this out through that so he was probably alright with it. morning side samples what sounds like an indian ballad (jai paul-esque) and fills it out with thumping bass drums and glittering arpeggios. evening side follows a similar formula, except it take about 15 minutes to drop. wonderful stuff, and 40 minutes flies by.

12. Dr Dre - Compton
dr dre came back! and he came back with something that wasn't detox (probably for the best as you don't hold off releasing an album for 10 years if it isn't shit - *guns n roses*)! instead it was the soundtrack to NWA's film straight outta compton, which was released this summer and spawned some lovely memes which we enjoyed a lot. we enjoyed the album a lot too - it's classic 90s hip hop brought into the 21st century, the coming together of old dogs like dre and snoop dogg with new pups like king mez and kendrick lamar. some of the verses on here are fire, and although dr dre doesn't make an awful lot of vocal appearances his production on this thing is unbelievable. #productiongoals am i right.

11. Songhoy Blues - Music in Exile
people try to combine african music with western music all the time, usually unsuccessfully (see fuse odg for an example) with the resultant trash sounding literally like a pitbull song with someone putting on a slightly too exaggerated ghanaian accent drenched in autotune over the top. songhoy blues, thankfully, do nothing of the sort. their story is incredible - i won't go into it in too much detail here but you should definitely look it up. they were forced out of their homes in northern mali by the jihadist group ansar dine, and forced into the capital bamako in the south of the country. their music is rebellion, but also euphoric celebration of the elevated power of music over oppression and injustice. plus they play blues rock with afrobeat grooves and it's amazing so y'know, good band all round.

10. Earl Sweatshirt - I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside
man, this album is depressing as fuck. it's good though - very good. earl's beats have retained the chilledoutness that made doris such a good record, but the instrumentation now has become minor and dark. mantra  and dna give a bleak telling of the depression and dependency that comes with fame, while faucet talks about the tricky relationship earl had with his mother before she sent him to samoa at the age of 16 - "i don't know who house to call home lately... when i run, don't chase me"the loneliness of "don't know where i'm going, don't know where i been" on grown ups is tangible, and the mother in me wants to give earl a hug. for a member of odd future, and a man who on his last album rapped about such touching concepts as "actually flick cigarette ash at bitch niggas", earl seems to be learning to speak properly about himself, coming into his own as a lyricist. 

9. Alabama Shakes - Sound and Color
this album is nothing like alabama shakes' last album. it's drenched in atmosphere blended from keyboards and reverb, and as full of psychedelia as it is blues. they have one of the greatest singers in the world right now as their frontwoman, plus with songwriting like they have on this album it's impossible to not want to go see alabama shakes live after listening to this album. we put don't wanna fight into our song charts, and rightly so because it's one of the catchiest songs of the year fo sho. there's a lot more to this record than just that though. titular opener sound and color is a spaceagey trip past saturn (as you may have seen in a recent apple advert because capitalism is everywhere, down with the oligarchs etc), and later on in the record songs like future people and the greatest have that classic bluesy shakes charm. the secret to alabama shakes' new sound is their ability to leave space in their recordings - there's stuff going on that's great, but just as important are the gaps in the recordings where there isn't much going on, and simply a reverb drenched void. it's all very pretentious, but this album is fab so who cares.

8. Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
courtney's first album proper, following a double EP that dropped last year and took most of the world by storm. everyone knows avant gardner, and therefore will be sad to hear that it isn't on this album. don't worry though - courtney's got plenty more where that came from. this album has, as jamie put it, the "perfect curve", meaning that it goes soft in the right places and loud in the right places, basically. hard to argue with that rlly, because he's right. the heaviest moments come at the beginning of the album with pedestrian at best (a loud, brash rock song essentially), and at the end with kim's caravan (a moody grungy buildup track). the bits in the middle are soft and romantic at parts, and upbeat and fun at times, but all times are good times. big ol' cb is one of the best lyricists in indie right now, managing to write about mundane scenarios like buying organic fruit at the supermarket and "drinking all the smoothies", but in a charming way that wins you over and just makes you love her more and more. i mean, if you think about the basic logistics of drinking "all" the smoothies, it's an incredible idea. i've drank smoothies in my time, but nowhere near all of them. i don't even think it's possible tbh. courtney continues to blow my mind with her simplicity.

7. Kamasi Washington - The Epic
this year i rediscovered jazz. and what the hell, it's brilliant. i owe my musical renaissance to two artists: miles davis and kamasi washington. comparing an album like the epic with, say, kind of blue, you see plenty of similarities between the two. although, to a n00b like me jazz does all sound the same... kamasi certainly knows what he's doing though, if this record is anything to go by, my god.  the first third (this is an album in three parts, duh) is complex and loud and excellent, traditional blaring horns and sax underpinned by what sounds like a gospel choir singing that kind of ahhhs that you'd associate with kubrick's a space oddessy. the drums sound almost afrobeat inspired, there are so many rhythms going on at once that you don't even notice on first listen but they're essential. okay - i just wikied it and the drummer has been playing since he was two years old, so i guess that explains why they're literally whiplash-level. his brother thundercat also makes an appearance on the bass here - as you'd expect, because he's the best jazz bassist in the world right now and mates with kamasi and they worked together on kendrick's record and yeah, y'know. needless to say, thundercat does a great job. all hail thundercat. there are mellower moments, like on second third opener miss understanding... oh wait, no, that's a fast tempoed psycho jazz explosion. my mistake. I LOVE THIS. miles would be proud.

6. Julia Holter - To Have You in My Wilderness
a properly moving and beautifully written album. this is the kind of thing that radio 2 love, yet still is great enough to be respected and adored by those of us that don't listen to radio 2 - i.e. are under 40. it's moving, it's sad, it's spacious, it's happy, it's wonderful. the cover may look like a joy division album, but there's no industrial post-punk soliloquies here. instead, this is just a tidal wave of pop balladery, reminiscent of perhaps the beatles in their more soppy moments. it's got completely unironic harpsichord, reverb soaked piano, and julia holter's lovely lovely voice serenading us for half an hour. half an hour well spent. the lyrics of this album give as much emotion as they raise questions, betsy on the roof for example - who knows what holter actually means when she says "i can't send the rain down baby, i can't send the rain down anymore" but at the same time, who cares? i don't. on sea calls me home, another choice cut from the album, holter sings about how the sea calls her home (weird, right) but how that rlly sucks because she can't swim. there isn't really much clarity to this album at all, yet at the same time it's extremely lucid - you know what she's saying, you empathise, you're in the zone - however wild and weird that zone is. you're in her wilderness, but it's oh so sweet. this is a proper, proper great record. suck on that, adele.

5. Dutch Uncles - O Shudder
if you're gonna start listening to dutch uncles, don't start with cadenza. other than a handful of good songs (and the song cadenza, which is a total banger), it's bizarre and loud and confusing and not that good. on this album though (and their last), dutch uncles have discovered the magical world of subtlety. this album is a wonderfully put together exploration of art-indie that revels in its own weirdness without being pretentious about it - a great skill in a world full of flaming lipses and miley cyruses. this band is criminally underrated, but if you actually do listen to their records you won't care too much yourself because you'll be too busy realising what a fantastic a band they are. this album doesn't ever really dip in quality - it starts incredibly strongly with the sequence of babymaking (a scientific, bleak dissection of sex which is strange, wonderful and with a chorus drop that rivals everything everything's to the blade as the best in indie this year) INTO upsilon (which we mentioned in our songs blog as one of the best of the year - read that to understand why) INTO drips (a more low key, tricky little song with rolls along and shows some of that wonderful subtlety that i mentioned earlier) INTO decided knowledge (which takes dutch uncles' talking heads influence and expands upon it with crunchy guitars and a healthy sprinkling of glockenspiel). also, stealing sheep sing backing vocals on the last track on the album, which is kind of unsurprising at this point because they've been everywhere all of 2015 really. it's a definite recommendation to see them live as well - their set at the town hall for live at leeds was the best gig of the year, even when the lights all went out in the middle of their penultimate song. but i digress - this is one of the best albums of the year, and dutch uncles are british music's best kept secret now skepta's gone global.

4. Death Grips - Jenny Death
well, this one was a long time coming. although to be honest, it kind of wasn't. there was less than a year between this and the first half of the powers that b, niggas on the moon, AND death grips released another record in between the two, so with hindsight it seems a bit strange that their fanbase got in such a state waiting for jenny death. in the midst of it though, this wasn't something i ever considered, caught up in the furor of breakup notes, fake 'leaks' and #jennydeathwhen. there were actually reddit threads where someone had seen the album in a shop and was being convinced by an army of fans to break in and steal it 'for the greater good'. it may not have been the whole world waiting for this album, but this album was still surely the most aggressively anticipated record of all time. all of this made it a bit of an anticlimax when the album leaked ahead of release. religious fans such as liam blake and anthony fantano waited until the official release date before they listened to it, but bastards like me just listened to it as soon as it came out. and god, it was great. i break mirrors with my face in the united states opened the album with punk-rap so vicious it hurt, and a title that can be filed on the 'genius' shelf along with 'have a sad cum' and 'you might think he loves you for your money but i know what he really loves you for it's your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat'. elsewhere, inanimate sensation (as i've said before) is INCREDIBLE, why a bitch gotta lie is 'hacker' part 2 - AKA disco death grips; pss pss is just plain weird; on GP is heartwrenching and coverworthy and the final song death grips 2.0 is... i don't even know. this album is an essential listen, both death grips' most and least accessible album since the money store. would have definitely been a worthy album to end on, had they not immediately then announced that they hadn't actually broken up and would be doing a US tour instead (no uk dates yet, the bastards #deathgripsukwhen).

3. Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear
hooooooo lordy lord. this is one tasty record. the most romantic album of the year, and the best by extension. lavish instrumentation, beautifully crafted songs and lyrics that explore love and sex with just the right amount of sensuality, without once slipping into the alex turner district of stupid metaphors and greasy faux-sexy line delivery. father john's a poet, and he's written some good poetry here. this is an album that you can take home to your mum, as long as you talk loudly over lines such as "she blackens page like a russian romantic, gets down more often than a blowup doll" and "carbon footprint, incest dreams, fuck the mother in the green". besides the occasional line like that, this album is a lovely letter to his wife emma, which i like. nobody writes for their partner any more (and when they do it becomes arabella by the arctic monkeys), so to find an entire album full of soppy love songs like this is a diamond in the rough. musically, it's classically romantic. strings, piano, acoustic guitars, it's got the lot. there's even a goddam mariachi band on chateau lobby #4, for christ's sake. the standout track in this respect is true affection, which i mentioned in the previous blog for its synthy subdue. this album has a lot of variety on it - which i suppose is necessary if you're gonna write an entire album about the same thing. there are the loud, lavish opening tracks i love you honeybear and chateau lobby, the choir-led sad tunes like when you're smiling and astride me and strange encounter, and the beautifully stripped back acoustic tunes like holy shit and i went to the store one dayit's one for the ages; a good old fashioned romantic album. the record also has one of the best sleeves of the year, featuring little father john as a kind of jesus-esque baby deity and (we're assuming) his wife as the madonna. there's also an arse on the left hand side, and we respect anyone who has the balls to put a painting of an ass on the front cover of their album. bonus points to father john too for having the best beard in the music industry.

2. Everything Everything - Get to Heaven
this is the perfect musical commentary on this year's world. it's worth remembering that while twenty fifteen has given us some superb music, twenty fifteen has also given us terrorism, extremism, the refugee crisis, ANOTHER tory election victory and the usual tales of widespread suffering, poverty and political corruption across the world. looking back at the events of this year, you can see why this album makes so much sense. on bonus track hapsberg lippp higgs sings "no matter who's bomb's on your bus, they're making examples of us", summing up the danger of racist islamophobic groups such as the edl and ukip, both of whom have risen to notoriety in recent years. and on the title track, the chorus goes some way to give us the perfect summary of trying to overcome the horrors of the world around us (or, alternatively, the ignoring of these problems by those who believe in higher powers): "we can get to that heaven, as the tanks roll by, we can get to that heaven, under a blood black sky, lunatic in my bedroom, i'm thinking 'where in the blazes did i park my car?'". listening to this song draws comparisons with the band's 2009 breakout single my kz ur bf, which dealt with the same themes of ignoring apocalyptic scenarios around you in favour of everyday trivia. you get the sense that, 6 years later, the band have grown to understand that both sides of the coin are of equal importance. let's leave the lyrics behind for a moment now though, however fantastic they may be - because the music on this record is incredible too. opener to the blade legitimately made luka jump when it first burst into life on the first chorus with one of this year's best riffs; distant past is the best thing this year to receive consistent radio 1 airplay; get to heaven is a crayola colour explosion that pulls you into a naive escapist vision. later on the album takes a darker turn, with tunes like the wheel and fortune 500 powerfully punching you with harsh synths and pounding drums, before the tricky blast doors and wistfully wonderful closer warm healer bring the album to a fantastic cinematic climax. everything everything have always been one of the uk's finest young bands, and with this album they made something truly brilliant. it celebrates, but at the same time commiserates. a "sad sad party" indeed.

1. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
it could only be this album though. to pimp a butterfly isn't just the best album this year, it's the best album this decade so far. it's a seminal hip hop album, right up there with illmatic, straight outta compton, the chronic etc. in fact, i strongly think that in a few years time when we look back, to pimp a butterfly will be regarded as not just one of the best, but THE best rap album ever written. this album has so much more depth musically, kendrick's collabs with kamasi washington and flylo in particular meaning that the typical hip hop beats of songs like king kunta sit right next to jazz freakouts like for free and soul-led opener wesley's theory. pharell williams is even on the album (briefly) on single and black power anthem alright. why an artist like kendrick would suddenly make a u turn just as GKMC made him massive and follow up a classic hip hip album with a 90 minutes jazz odyssey about as far removed from bitch don't kill my vibe as humanly possible confused some people when this record first dropped, but with hindsight kendrick was never ever going to do anything different - especially in the midst of the violent racial tensions in the US this year. musically this album encompasses every important black musical movement, combining them and fusing them together to create a sonic experience unlike anything i've ever heard before. there's jazz, there's soul, there's even the masonic worksong chanting of alright, a chorus which is already being chanted in marches across the country. if you listen back to k dot's previous work you can see the potential for a record like this - a song like sing about me, i'm dying of thirst from good kid madd city has a sprawling nature that wouldn't feel at all out of place on to pimp a butterfly: hell, these walls essentially continues the same narrative onto this new album. many critics have said blindly that to pimp a butterfly has "failed" because it has become so universally acclaimed. they argue that kendrick was trying to make a difficult album, something that nobody but those who it directly affects will understand. that's not true though. even if kendrick had wanted that to happen, he's succeeded in a much larger way now. this album encapsulates the black american experience - "alls my life i've had to fight, nigga", as he so elegantly puts it; he puts the issues of the african american population on a pedestal that no musician has ever been able to before. if this album had been released any time previously in the last 20 years, it could never have been so revered as it is today. because of the worldwide infamy of cases such as trayvon martin's and the ferguson riots, the commentary this album provides is perfect for its time. not just as a musical piece of art, but as a literary work, this is as culturally important as anything. barack obama's favourite song of 2015 was how much a dollar cost, a personal and religious song on which kendrick is denied a place in heaven because he won't give a homeless man money. comparing the anger of the blacker the berry with the peace of you ain't gotta lie shows the twofold ideas on black power - it can either be about violence and warcraft, or it can be about love and respect. this album tells the story of kendrick's journey from one ideal to the other. the first single i appears only as a live version, on which kendrick delivers an acapella verse which addresses the misuse of the word nigger by blacks in america, showing its etymology as a word used to describe a "black emperor, king, ruler", empowering the word in a new way. and then, on mortal man, the final piece of the puzzle. =throughout the album kendrick repeats and expands a self written poem called 'another nigga', which is recited for the first time in its entirety here and followed by a strange piece of dialogue with 2pac on which the two discuss their views on race, violence, black culture and fame. trust, it makes more sense on the record. i'm rambling. honestly - there is so much to say on this album. i won't claim to understand it completely because i'm ultimately a white boy from leeds, but while i can't connect with this album on an empathetic level, that doesn't mean i can't appreciate its worth.

"i remember you was conflicted
misusing your influence
sometimes i did the same
abusing my power, full of resentment
resentment that turned into a deep depression
found myself screaming in the hotel room
i didn't wanna self destruct
the evils of lucy was all around me
so i went running for answers
until i came home
but that didn't stop survivor's guilt
going back and forth trying to convince myself the stripes i earned
or maybe how a-1 my foundation was
but while my loved ones was fighting the continuous war back in the city, i was entering a new one
a war that was based on apartheid and discrimination
made me wanna go back to the city and tell the homies what i leaned
the word was respect
just because you wore a different gang color than mine's
doesn't mean i can't respect you as a black man
forgetting all the pain and hurt we caused each other in these streets
if i respect you, we unify and stop the enemy from killing us
but i don't know, i'm no mortal man, maybe i'm just another nigga."


Tuesday 29 December 2015

twenty fifteen's finest songs - according to us

thought we'd take advantage of us having some kind of internet presence, and share with y'all our picks for the best 20 songs of this year. it was tricky, and took a fair bit of deliberation, but here follows our faves from 2015 (side note - although we're very proud of it, treeman on fire will not be making an appearance as we aren't yet that narcissistic). enjoy, and if there are any songs here you haven't checked out yet then do so mayne xox

20. Martin Solveig - Intoxicated
THE song of the summer. this may have been a huge club bxnger, but we personally heard it first blaring impossibly loud out of the speakers of cocktail cocktail (or double cock, as we affectionately called it) @ leeds fest 2015. let me tell you, nothing keeps you awake like coors lite, vodka and deafening house pop.

19. Father John Misty - True Affection
fabuloso little song from his equally fabuloso album. while pretty much every other song on the record is acoustic and romantically lavish, this tune takes the techno grooves of a mid-80s new order and mellows them out with beautiful cooing vocals and a gorgeously honest sentiment that had us weak at the knees and questioning our sexuality.

18. Alabama Shakes - Don't Wanna Fight
easily one of the catchiest choruses of the year - as jamie will certainly testify. in fact, the only reason it isn't higher in the list is that he's been singing the chorus virtually non stop for the last 6 months and it's really annoying. despite his ruination though the song holds up very nicely, with juddering guitar harms and raspy bluesy vocals - much better than anything jamie can do.

17. Courtney Barnett - Depreston
courtney barnett's album was a pleasant surprise when it dropped, and we over here (me and jamie at least) were very very fond of it. this song is imho the best on the record, just because it's soft, grooving and old courtney's voice has never sounded sweeter. beautiful little ditty, it be. once again, courtney manages to sum up the universal experience of driving to a house in preston, australia, and how preston is really dull and depressing - you get the feeling she's never been to wakefield.

16. Juan Wauters - I'm All Wrong
awwwwwwwww juan. he's a cutie. we had the pleasure of supporting him in september at the brude, and it was honestly (from a punter's perspective, and nothing to do with us) one of my favourite gigs of the year. he played this song 3 times at ben's request, and you can see why. it's a sweet little acoustic song, with some of the greatest lyricism of our time - "like a movie that is good, you require my attention" will always be a classic. like we said in our previous blog about juan, he's uruguay's finest.

15. Dutch Uncles - Upsilon
fantastic song from a fantastic album. dutch uncles have always been able to write a banger or two, and this is the latest - and possibly the greatest of all of them. it's got this unrelenting marimba hook which underpins the entire song, and a chorus built around driving backing vocals, percussion and stringy synth, as all good choruses should be. while there were several other songs from o shudder which we could have put here - babymaking, in n out, decided knowledge to name a few, this is the one that makes me happiest when i listen to it. that's what pop music is meant to do, right? make you happy.

14. Lethal Bizzle - Fester Skank
while lethal bizzle has made himself a bit of a laughing stock in recent years with his... interesting forays into lad pop, this tune when it dropped was undoubtedly FIRE. while it can't be called grime as bizzle would probably like it to be referred to, fester skank is a fantastic pop song. the lyrics are hilarious as well - lines such as "it's me and diztortion, ending careers - abortion" providing some of the greatest rhymes since rihanna rhymed "resilient" with "brilliant" on hard back in 2009. i suppose, being a disciple of his snapchat (@denchchat if you don't know it), i am biased - but, for all his narcissism and ladness, bizzle can still make bangers like this.

13. Dr Dre ft. Kendrick Lamar - Genocide
who expected dre to come back in 2015? more yet - who expected dre to come back with a soundtrack album with a million collaborations on it? i didn't, which is why compton was such a massive record when it came out over the summer. this song is my personal fave - a classic hip hop bassline, verses from dr dre and kendrick, and a sample so obscure you can't even tell when you're listening to the original. also, the production is absolutely killer - but you expect nothing less from the king himself.

12. Slaves - Cheer Up London
slaves' album may have been a bit shite, but this single from it was definitely not. it was less than 3 minutes long, the lyrics had no depth at all and the riff was childishly simple, but that's what made slaves great for the 6 month period that they were good. the chorus is one of my favourites of the year, and a classic to shout along to on the train. "YOU'RE DEAD ALREADY, DEAD DEAD ALREADY-READY". the video was also pretty good, one of those one-shot-wonder things, with a load of balloons and people and impossible, madonna-esque costume changes.

11. JME ft. Giggs - Man Don't Care
this is a proper grime tune. skepta might have stolen the spotlight this year with shutdown (he even stole a higher spot on this list), but with jme releasing bangers like this he was impossible to ignore in 2015. this song in particular had a filthy organ sample (better than the sample from shutdown, imho), a feature from grime don giggs (who wore a fetching star wars hat in the video (which is great by the way)) and a verse from jme which had the traditional insane bars that he drops on pretty much all his tracks. i think it was pitchfork that said that "you'll get box in the eye with the fob i use to log into my hsbc" is the most british threat of 2015, which is a fantastic piece of journalism. but yeah, gr8 gr8 song. i'm just sad it couldn't be put higher on the list, but jme probably won't care.

10. Jacco Gardner - Find Yourself
forget anything off currents. forget whatever shit the flaming lips put out this year. this song is THE out and out psych song of the year (unless you count the pond song we've put at 7 to be a psych song, but whatever). it's got a great keyboard melody, it's got great vocals, it's got a great bassline, it's got everything you need for a nodheady psych banger. it sounds vintage and warm, but at the same time otherworldly, futuristic and KILLER. tame impala may have lead the psych revival of recent years, but they seem to have gone off on a funk tangent and moved away from the guitars and organs that this song brings back. it's glamorous, it's silly, it's blissful, it probably sounds fantastic when you're high.

9. Stealing Sheep - Not Real
stealing sheep are a band i've only recently discovered, which is odd because i've known about them for at least two years. they're on the same label as temples, toy and the wytches, but sound completely different to all of them. they aren't wimpy revivalists like temples, they aren't mascara clad scenesters in tight jeans and polo necks like toy, and they aren't a kinda shitty rock band like the wytches. instead they're a 3 piece who play music which sits somewhere between metronomy and warpaint. if you listen to this song, you get a prime example. it sounds essentially like what would happen if warpaint had written an album like the english riviera. considering that warpaint are an incredible band and the english riviera is an incredible album, you can see how this is so good.

8. GUM - Anaesthetized Lesson
kevin parker gets a lot of the attention for being the best songwriter in tame impala, but a lot has to be said for his (fit) keyboardist jay watson. you'd think that a man who's in both tame impala and pond would have enough music in his life to keep himself busy, but apparently not. his first album as GUM had some decent tracks on it, but nothing as catchy and sick as this. in fact, nothing tame impala or pond have ever written is as catchy as this. it's psych-funk at it's best, proper cheesy 80s keyboards and a falsetto vocal hook which has been in my head for months. jay is fitter than kevin parker and nick albrook, and as it turns out just as talented a pop writer. it might not be anything too removed from his tame and pond stuff, but when it's this good who cares (not me).

7. Pond - Sitting Up On Our Crane
you might think it's a bit hypocritical to say that anaesthitized lesson is a catchier song than this, then put it lower in the list - but hear me out. this song is completely different to gum's, although jay does sing on both. where the last song was a funk banger, this is for the most part a chilled out piece of electro psych which dealt with that relatable feeling where you climb up a massive crane with your friends and then want to commit suicide. it's cheery, really. also the outro is sick as fuckkk. possibly my favourite moment in music this year is the drop in this song - it's magnificent, and chilled, and druggy, and builds in grandiosity with arpeggios and classic oooooh backing vocals and strings and oh wow, it's great. trust.

6. Absent Parachute - Trip
we had to put ONE absent parachute song in here, c'mon. and why not put the best one. we know ben, arch and oli don't like their ep but we still do, and trip is surely one of the greatest indie tunes to come out this year yo. it may not have taken the charts by storm, but 30 years from now when the bbc does a documentary on the great underground indie bands of the '10s, this song will be considered one of the best. and everyone will be really disappointed that they didn't come and have a go on the trip when they were asked. ben morgan has never written better lyrics than the ones here (which is saying something because he writes great lyrics and is basically the next lennon).

5. Kendrick Lamar - The Blacker The Berry
WOAH. damn, this song went hard when it dropped. i had no idea kendrick had so much anger to spew out, but this showed the world that he had the potential to make a real difference to the hip hop game. out of the context of to pimp a butterfly, it seemed a little brash at first, but once you got to the third verse you understood exactly what he was trying to say. needless to say, once he dropped the line "so why did i weep when trayvon martin was in the street, when gangbanging made me kill a nigga blacker than me?" you were in the fukking zone, man. to pimp a butterfly is a seminal rap record, and it's all centred on this incredible track, which calls out the hypocrisy of race relations and black violence on both sides of the argument. you only need to look at the gifs in the comment section on rapgenius to see how good this song was as a piece of writing. musically too, it's pretty hard to beat. the chorus in unintelligible, but still fantastic, and the beat behind it all is one of the best to come out of hip hop's back pocket in the last decade. there's no argument of drake vs. kendrick really - we all know this beats the shit out of hotline bling.
4. Death Grips - Inanimate Sensation
that right there is the greatest song opening of two thousand fifteen. it'll make no sense right now unless you've already heard the song, but once you go across to our spotify playlist you'll get it straight away. death grips are one of the most important bands in the world right now, and songs like this make them top of whatever game they're playing. it's equal parts baffling and accessible, volatile and strangely poppy. it kinda sounds like a grime tune, just with more revvy synths and vocals from ride that are literally just shouting. genius. it was hard to choose between this and on GP, the HEAVY suicide song that we covered at AP's launch party back in april, but based on accessibility and on how much both songs bang, and also the fact that for a long time this was all the death grips we had to listen to while waiting for jenny death to drop, inanimate sensation just about edges it.
3. Everything Everything - No Reptiles
i could have chosen any one of the songs on get to heaven to put in this top 20 (apart from regret because that's a bit naff rlly isn't it), but this one is the best. again, it addresses a very relatable subject matter - in this case, feeling like a fat child in a pushchair, and how that's alright. it is seriously a song that connects with you though, and the lyrics and music both build together perfectly and create a song that's really more of an experience than pretty much everything i've heard this year. it's a psychological dissection of loners, which strikes a real chord with loners like me. one of my highlights of leeds fest this summer was singing along to this as loud as i could, surrounded in the nme tent by thousands of silent catfish and the bottlemen fans (twats). and now, if i could for a moment pretend that i'm writing for noisey or some shite: on an album which talks poetically about the strange state of the world in 2015, this song is a more personal perspective - and in the light of recent terrorist attacks such as at the bataclan in november and charleston in june, as well as others all over the world, lines such as "i'm going to kill a stranger, so don't you be a stranger" are eerily powerful.
2. Skepta - Shutdown
i know i said earlier that jme's man don't care has a better sample than shutdown, but i could certainly never deny (and i definitely won't) that shutdown is the bigger b@nger. this song has been EVERYWHERE since it dropped, to the degree where i don't think there's a single person in the uk (or even the US if you've seen the top boy documentary) who doesn't yet know the chorus. 2015 was the year that grime properly blew up and became international, and skepta is at the top of the game yo. this has also (unfortunately) become the year that suburban teenage girls with a moderate twitter following have taken to buying late-noughties adidas caps and sweatshirts and reciting the lyrics to shutdown every few minutes, but hey ho. every hyped artists spawns a shitty fanbase - just look at peace / mac demarco etc. bbk at leeds fest was absolute mayhem, and when this came on... i've never seen so much shit being lost at one single time. the chorus also contains enough references to other skepta tunez to please the die-hard fans, and provided the rest of us with homework. it's my goal to eventually be able to understand every reference in the chorus, and then and only then will i be able to call myself a skepta fan. britain has never produced a bigger or better rockstar than skepta, and never a song more massive than this.
1. Ought - Beautiful Blue Sky
america, on the other hand... britain may be proud of our musical heritage, and there will always be those who say that the americans are just copying us. listening to ought will bring up similar criticism - because let's face it, they do sound a fair bit like the fall - but who cares. the beatles sounded like every other band that was around in the early 60s. tame impala sound like dungen. every band that followed the arctic monkeys sounded like the arctic monkeys. ought may have some fairly obvious influences, but that doesn't stop them being one of the best young bands in the damn world. their first record only came out in 2014, and their latest dropped earlier this year. that's nothing if not prolific. and the great thing is - both albums have some absolutely class songs on. the weather song from the first is a certified TUNE, as is men for miles from the latest. and no song released this year was better than beautiful blue sky. it builds beautifully on a sweet bassline and driving drums, which are brilliant in their simplicity, with mucky guitars and smooth organ chucked on top for good measure. the reason this song is amazing, though, is the vocals. tim darcy gives us a performance that's unlike anything indie music has heard in years, if ever... as strange as it is brilliant. the chorus is in-CREDIBLE, and the lyrics are both funny as hell and incredibly poignant:
"how's the family? how's the family? how's the family?

beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today, beautiful weather today,
fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here, fancy seeing you here,
it's all that we have, it's all that we have,
just that and the big, beautiful blue sky,
i'm no longer afraid to die"
as rapgenius so elegantly summarises, "this song grabs the mundane and stares at it with its whole heart. it recognizes the extraordinary mundanity of its content, of the topics it considers, as an attempt to salvage authenticity from out modern society, which has become in many ways a constructed spectacle. though so much of the life is filled with bullshit, there is still the big beautiful blue sky - the human actor, though perhaps primarily at the behest of the world around him or her, is still human and can appreciate the big beautiful blue sky."

pretty elegant thought for such a young band. philosophy manifested in music, and the result is oh so sweet. a little more hard hitting than anything bieber's put out this year, anyway.

we made a spotify playlist of the top 20, which you can listen to here
the only songs we couldn't get on there were  trip by AP, because they don't have spotify (like taylor swift, artistic integrity, that sort of thing). so here's a link to trip, and we've replaced both songs on spotify with honourable mentions that didn't quite make the cut but were still great yo.

stick around for the next few days if you've enjoyed this, we'll be putting up a similar list for out albums of the year in the next couple of days xox