Here’s this month’s playlist! I ~curated~ this one by adding songs that I have really enjoyed listening to over the course of the last 30 days as I went along. Looking reflectively at the songs I’ve chosen, they are for the most part are very chill, some are a bit sad, and many of them make my heart feel ‘some kind of way’ (looking at you especially, Leonard and Frank). I hope you enjoy, and if you’d like to listen to last month’s playlist you can do so here.
This is my very first monthly playlist post. You asked, and I have delivered. Or perhaps more accurately, in response to my feeble attempt to try to gather info about what you’d like to see more of on this website, a few of you said that you would like more music posts. So here we go.
October’s playlist is comprised new and new-ish music that I have been listening to a lot, have seen live recently, or am just particularly enjoying. This month is not themed in any way by genre, and includes everything from dream-pop to post-punk. As such, it doesn’t necessarily flow but is more like having lots of very good songs on shuffle.
I really hope that you enjoy this – please do let me know who you like, and if you’d like to hear more of these!
I have properly ‘done’ festival season this summer, and I’ve had an absolute blast. I’ve never been a massive festival person, weirdly, because I have always been a massive live music person. It is perhaps the immersiveness, the committing to a full weekend, the organisation and the camping that has put me off in the past, but I’ve gone all in and have had the opportunity to do some really fun festivals this time around.
My final festival of the year was Electric Picnic, which Rocket Dog kindly flew me over to Ireland for, and kitted me out with the white trainers pictured above (reserved for first day dry weather only) and the appropriately named waterproof ‘rainy’ boots in the other outfit here (very necessary by the second day).
Millie and I started our festival on Friday evening with Nas, The 1975 and Chemical Brothers and lots of beer and chips, followed by an night of getting extremely lost in the woods (drop a pin at your tent, kids).
The most pleasant surprise of the festival came in the form of Whitney, whose easygoing, heart swelling and just plain lovely songs were exactly what I needed to drag me out of the (figurative) bin on Saturday afternoon – I don’t think I have gone more than a day or so without listening to Light Upon The Lake since (actually though). After a dance at Mura Masa, we headed over to Noel Gallagher and I sang my northern heart out in the rain to Oasis banger after Oasis banger in what turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole weekend. The reason I wanted to go to EP in the first place was because LCD Soundsystem were headlining the Saturday – they absolutely did not disappoint and, let me assure you, I danced my lil socks off.
The Sunday of a festival can be a struggle, but Savages‘ set got me in the mood to power onwards. I don’t know if I want to be Jehnny Beth or marry her, but Savages are one of the most incredible things to watch live. Afterwards, we watched the extremely talented and frankly adorable Nao before (another festival highlight) New Order. For a band I thought I would maybe never get to see, I’ve now seen New Order three times and dancing along with all the dads (‘1987! What a year! Before you were born that’ said one to me during Bizarre Love Triangle) isn’t getting old. Lana Del Ray headlined the main stage on Sunday and, as much as I love Born To Die, I found her somewhat boring (although I’d love to try to watch her again in nice weather or at her own concert) and we decided to escape the rain and watch Skepta instead who was, obviously, class.
See you next year, festival season.
From Camden Market or Afflecks Palace bootlegs, to £40 allegedly ‘vintage’ looking Metallica shirts in any given high street store, to, you know, actual gigs, band t-shirts are everywhere. Throughout my life as a teen emo kid, to a grown up emo kid and frequent concert-goer, I have owned and worn my fair share of them. Looking back, many have been horrendously ugly (but I loved the band and obviously I had to buy something, to make sure everyone else knew that), so in my old age I have reigned myself in a bit and refined my taste, and will now only buy a shirt if I like it in an aesthetic capacity, as well as liking the band it represents. Thus, I am able to wear my band t-shirts as part of an outfit more #fblogger appropriate than black skinny jeans and Dr Martens.
This ‘look’ is an example of my idea of dressing up a band shirt. I wore my Sheer Mag shirt with some smart wide legged trousers (which you’ve also seen here), all white Converse and my standard biker jacket, and accessorised with very #fashion skinny scarf (tied at the back, for a nice change), Dior round sunnies and my Stella McCartney bag. I think that this all balances out quite well – the outfit dresses up the band t-shirt, and the band t-shirt dresses down the more formal trousers.
There’s something I really like about considering old (or new) band shirts as an actual sartorial option, rather than just a souvenir or hungover Sunday only outfit, and I hope you’re off to dig out your old merch after reading this. I’ve also put Sheer Mag video (for their absolute 10/10 hit ‘Fan the Flames’) above, in case you fancy a listen!
Photos by Joe Davenport
The record pictured is Grimes – Art Angels, a release from the closing months of the year but one that basically blew everything that came before it out of the water. It’s an obvious choice to include here, having featured in the end-of-year list of every music magazine ever, but it is easily one of my favourite albums of the whole decade. Art Angels is a perfect pop record, but also so much more than a pop record; it has obviously catchy hits (Flesh Without Blood, Realiti), but maybe more remarkable is the true originality of it. It is just the right amount of ‘weird’; I think that the more unconventional sounds (which run throughout the album, but are especially prominent in songs like Scream, Venus Fly and intro to the album laughing and not being normal) really show off the full range of Grimes’ currently unparalleled creativity and genius as a producer and artist.
You’ve actually been to the UK three times this year, what do you like so much about playing here? If you do like it that is?
Cleo: we do like it! Our label was originally based here so they have a strong understanding of what shows are cool and where to play, and what’s going on.
And what do you like about being here?
Cleo: I’ve always really loved the UK and Europe, it’s a fascinating place to me growing up so far. I think everything is different so it’s kind of cool to jump into a totally different world. It’s also fun to exercise those parts of yourself that you work on so far away, and exercise things that are so close to yourself, and yet to be in a space that’s the furthest you could possibly be from familiarity. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to live inside of!
Harmony: I feel like I learn more about my culture coming here, in a weird way, because it’s like ‘oh I didn’t realise that was part of my DNA that isn’t just human, it’s only the United States’. That’s interesting, and also visually it’s so different from America. Like the architecture and the way things are put together and placed; I feel like every culture has a certain way they shape things, and the visual exploration of that feeling is interesting. Your environment affects you so much that perceiving a different world visually affects internal dialogue, even.
For sure, especially being from somewhere as far away as L.A. You recently moved to Philly too, how has that been?
Harmony: it’s been cool!
Cleo: it was sort of similar to the feeling of coming here, entering a space and environment that we’ve never really lived inside of. It’s fun! Right now and for a long time our eyes have been really wide, and with moving we have been soaking up loads of new feelings too.
So your new record, Before the World Was Big, is really great! Can you tell us a bit about it? Are you happy with it?
Harmony: we both feel really good about the record, we feel like it really hones in on a moment in our lives and represents a perspective and a feeling or idea that we both shared and explored together, and it’s really powerful and cool to put it out into the world. It feels really cool!
Cleo: yeah we’re both proud of it and feel close to it still, we love it a lot.
Apart from music, what other creative things are you guys into?
Cleo: pretty much everything! We both draw, I take photos, and we love making videos.
Harmony: yeah, and just thinking about ideas…..
You both have a cool, distinctive style. What, if anything, do you think inspires that?
Cleo: I like a lot of certain colours, like bright colours and juxtaposition and contrast… except right now I’m not wearing that haha. I don’t think I consciously have any style icons, though.
Harmony: I remember when I was like 13, and Say Yes by Elliott Smith was playing, and I was just like ‘I want to dress like this song today’. I can’t remember what I ended up wearing! I think that the things I like inspire what I wear, but I don’t know what they are exactly.
Do you think that fashion and music influences cross over?
Cleo: I don’t know, it’s strange that image is involved at all, but I guess because there is performance there are visual representations. It’s strange because when you’re sitting writing a song you don’t think about that.
Harmony: yeah you’re like wearing sweat pants or your PJs and eating snacks!
So do snacks inspire the music?
Harmony: totally, peanut butter crackers.
Cleo: yeah, and coffee!
What is your tour-drobe like? It must be a really annoying thing to have to pack for a tour, so how does that go down? What are your essentials?
Cleo: it’s very weather dependant. We came from the east coast which right now is about a million degrees, so we packed warmer clothes for here. And you’ve always got to bring that pair of pants that you really love.
Harmony: and a good pair of sneakers, and some nice underwear that are really comfy. And good socks! We’re very into socks.
Cleo: really your tour-drobe evolves as you go, I haven’t actually been to a shop in Manchester yet but we did a lot of shopping in London!
Harmony: yeah we went to Brick Lane, and have been to a lot of charity shops and stuff. And there was a lot of cool stuff at End of the Road Festival too!
Thanks so much for chatting to me!
Slow Club have been around for quite a while. Almost ten years, in fact. A favourite of the self-proclaimed ‘indie kids’ in secondary school (in my 2005-2010 era at any rate), they have stood the test of time and continue to put out music that is both interesting and (imo) just really nice to listen to. Originally hailing from Sheffield (just like the last band I interviewed, Nai Harvest), Charles and Becca now live in London. I caught up with them at a Disaronno Terrace event in Manchester, and had a chat with Charles about Slow Club past, present and future, the creative process, and of course clothes.
I guess just trying to push yourself, and not do the same thing every time. We’ve always been conscious of trying to make a record that’s different to the last one, purely to keep ourselves entertained. I guess the differences between records are a reflection of what we’re listening to at the time, and where we’re at with our lives.
When I’m writing I always try to do something else as well, something creative but not songs, so they feed off each other. For our first two records I was painting a lot, and for the last record and this record I enrolled at St Martin’s last year to do a writing thing, so I’ve been using that as a springboard. I find if I’m doing something like that, I write loads and loads more music as well. It’s like being fit, if you only write a song once a month, when you come to do it it’s going to be difficult, but if you do little and often you’re able to communicate your ideas a lot more easily. I kind of treat those other creative activities like, say if you were making a dress, the bust that you put it on – I treat the other activities as a framework to build writing songs on. You could just write the same song over and over again, but if we stopped tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to look back on what we’ve done and think we could’ve put more work in.
That’s really interesting, I definitely find it helpful to have to have more than one thing going on at once too. You live in London now, do you still keep up with the DIY scene in Sheffield and the north? Any names to watch?
A lot of our friends are in bands back up north and in Sheffield. We’re good friends with Seize the Chair, and I guess those guys in Nai Harvest and Best Friends are all part of the same group. I’ve seen them a few times and I really like it, I like the link between skate culture and music and you often end up with really interesting stuff. If you move away from a place you do get disconnected from that, you kind of have to be there to appreciate it, but whenever I go back I always try to see stuff.
Onto fashion… how important is ‘aesthetic’ to you as a band?
I think if you asked Becca this question, you’d get a totally different answer! It’s nice to have some sort of unity on that front, we always try it or there’s some sort of vague attempt to do it, but then three days into the tour we just want to wear something comfy.
Where do you get your clothes from? What are you wearing right now?
Anywhere really! Right now – I got some new Dr Martens today, and I’ve actually really got into dying clothes recently. This shirt was light blue last week, so I got a sachet of dark blue and black dye and I’ve just been dying a load of clothes.
I had this last question for Becca, but she couldn’t make it here, so maybe you can help. I wanted to ask if she finds that as a “””girl in a band”””, there’s any more pressure on her to look a certain way or at least to be concerned with fashion? Do you notice that her experience is different to yours?
Yeah, it’s still a pretty male dominated industry. I don’t think there really should be a distinction at all. She shouldn’t be a “girl in a band”, she’s just a woman playing music. Some people seem to think that it’s this really incredible thing that a girl is in a band and writes songs, I think it’s a bit of a 70s view to have! I’m sure she does have a different experience than me, but I think she just makes an effort the same as anyone would.
Words and photos by Hannah Farrington
Nai Harvest is Ben Thompson (vocals and guitar) and Lew Currie (drums). They are a two-piece from Sheffield whose sound (in very brief summary) has grown from roots in twiddly emo to a sort of fuzzy indie punk that music media seems to find difficult to describe. Whichever adjective you prefer, their new record Hairball is really, really good; from the very first line ‘I wanna know what the weather’s like in your mind’ to energetic title track Hairball. I’ve had the contagious first single Buttercups stuck in my head for months, and dreamy Ocean of Madness is proper ~summer anthem~ material (and my personal favourite song from the album).
How’s tour been?
Ben: it’s been really good, we’ve been with our best friends and had all our friends opening the shows. It’s been really nice to be able to curate a tour and ask people we want to play with to play with us.
Lew: the best tour we’ve done I reckon.
The new record is very sick, what’s your favourite song from it?
Ben: All The Time, it’s really easy to play.
So you’re both into creating visual art in one way or another (Ben studies at Manchester School of Art and Lew is an illustrator), how important are visuals to you as a band?
Ben: I guess the aesthetic of a band is quite important, obviously music is the most important but you’ve got to have a clear direction visually.
Lew: I think it’s 50/50, you’ve got to stand out these days pal.
Ben: yeah, if your record covers are ugly and your t-shirts aren’t nice then no-one’s gonna buy them, regardless of how good the songs are – a sad but true fact! And as we’re both artists it’s kind of important to have an art vibe with Nai Harvest as well.
Which do you prefer to create then, art or music?
Ben: I actually prefer music these days, art is becoming more and more stressful as time goes on.
Lew: yeah same, I wouldn’t say art is a job but it’s more that way than music.
Ben: me too art is becoming more a job and I have to think about it more, whereas music comes really naturally.
And Lew quickly tell us about the book you’ve just done?
Lew: I basically decided to do a book because I got bored of doing conceptual work. I wanted to draw what I know and I really like football. It’s basically a collection of moments in my style.
*check out Lew’s Tumblr for his illustrations, and pick up his book via Snöar Press if you’re into that*
Where do you get your clothes generally?
Ben: off Etsy or eBay, or just general charity shops. There’s a really good one near where I live in Withington, shout out to Cancer Research UK.
Lew: pretty much the same, charity shops and my dad actually.
Out of all the current UK bands in this scene you two have one of the most distinct aesthetics, has this ever been a conscious thing?
Ben: not at all! It’s weird because people in America always ask if we’re brothers even though we don’t physically look alike. I think it’s because we look sort of coordinated, but it has actually never been intentional.
This is my least favourite question that I get asked as a blogger; can you describe your style?
Ben: my style is kinda lazy, baggy and comfortable. I don’t like anything to fit properly.
Lew: the bigger the better! Pretty much the same, but a bit more sporty.
Can you describe my style?
Lew: fire emoji.
Ben: haha fiery fashion babe. I don’t know, it’s like London Fashion Week in Manchester casual.
Ok cool I’m putting that in my bio. Any fashion influences or icons?
Ben: Orlando Weeks from The Macabees, still swag after all these years. He brought white trainers and sick bowl cuts into rock and roll, legend.
Lew: Mike Skinner I reckon, hard as fuck.
What about other bands you know, who else dresses great?
Ben: Best Friends probably.
Lew: Magic Gang.
Ben: yeah they’re pretty swag… like Jack Wills punk, yacht punk, gone on a boat but also in a punk band…
Lew: and Mahogany!
Ben: Hetty from Night Flowers always dresses really Vogue, like really long coats and heels, she always looks very put-together. And when we saw Alvvays, Molly had the coolest stripy t-shirt on I’ve ever seen, with a red Mustang and white trainers. She was dressed like a boy and it looked so sick!
And your favourite bands, musically and/or visually?
Lew: I’m gonna say The Streets, musically and visually it works together.
Ben: yeah The Streets is a good one he’s got that scally thing on lock. Mac De Marco’s got a pretty good look on the go with the whole gap teeth, cap, stoner-but-not-actually-a-stoner vibe, dungarees and stuff… I reckon he’d be so fun to hang out with.
Lew: at the moment musically it’s Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Ben: yeah and the new Waxahatchee record is amazing, and I can’t wait for the show.
Nice, and finally what can we expect from you in the next year?
Ben: just loads more live shows, probably a cool support tour, and back to the states in October.