Dylan Henner’s ‘In C’ Opens Out A Minimalist Masterpiece

It's his take on the seminal Terry Riley composition…

Left-field composer Dylan Henner has shared his take on minimalist cornerstone ‘In C’.

One of the most important pieces of music coughed up by the 20th century, ‘In C’ stands as one of Terry Riley’s true masterpieces.

In the hands of Dylan Henner this oft-tackled piece takes on a new light, with the left-field artist bringing his own personality and passions to the table.

Part of new album project ‘Great Prairie Plains: Studies Of American Minimalism’ (out tomorrow, in fact) it’s a hypnotic, 25 minute excursion into audio possibility.

He comments…

‘In C’ is a piece of music I own in many forms. I have the original, a Bang On A Can take, an Acid Mothers Temple, Adrian Utley’s, and the African Express arrangement curated by Damon Albarn. Each one is unique and special. It’s a really unique and special piece.

I feel really honoured to contribute my own version and make up a new (and very small) part of its living, ongoing history. I tried to balance my boundless admiration for the piece with a personalised arrangement. It would be pointless to copy Riley’s original – it’s too good – but I can at least try to do well by it.

It’s not until the end of the piece that my arrangement begins to take a different shape to Su’s. Once I started playing along on the piano, the rest fell into place. 

A fine way to end the working day – tune in below.

Dauw. · Dylan Henner – In C [Terry Riley]

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Trans Europe Express: The Journeys Of Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains

François Marry on his subtle, absorbing, and timely new album…

François Marry started running over a decade ago and he’s never looked back.

Leaving his small-town home in the South West of France, he wound up in Bristol, before spending time in Glasgow after a stint in Camera Obscura’s live line up.

More recently he’s spent time in Berlin and Athens, two cities with similar appetites for left-field adventures, places that his project François and the Atlas Mountains have explored to their full potential.

In François’ life there are always new spaces to map out, new experiences to uncover – but now the road could be at an end.

New album ‘Banane Bleue’ is out now, and its title refers to French geographer Roger Brunet’s theory that industrial Europe could be segmented into one long coherent corridor.

Yet it comes as François Marry prepares to come full circle, finding a fresh base in France. With Brexit questioning cross-European communication and the concept of ‘home’ lingering in his mind, the songwriter opened up to Clash.

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The title feels very apposite right now.

I guess it’s just my lifestyle, the way I live, is connected to being European. I started music when I moved to Bristol in 2004, and some of the tracks on this album were written then. So the idea of being able to travel to a country to another has always been very much part of the way I live and create. This album started off in Berlin, then we did a bit just outside of Paris. Then we finished it in Athens, Greece. So by the time we finished the album I felt like I had created an axis through Europe, from Berlin to Athens via Paris.

I was trying to picture a way to talk about that, and then at the same time I was very aware that I wanted the album to be very simple and tasty and sweet. And so I thought of a fruit! It’s a fruity album, so it seemed like a funky title.

As a songwriter do you tend to gather lots of different ideas over time? Do you have multiple hard drives of these audio sketches?


No, it’s all in my head. Those are songs that have been with me for 14 years, some of them. Usually I keep them in my head or my fingers, when I play the guitar or piano, and it’s kind of like catching up with an old friend or an old memory.

Do they ideas evolve over time through that process of remembering and forgetting?



Totally. It’s for the best. When you haven’t seen anyone for a long time you only remember the best memories of them. Even if you lost someone through a break up. Or if someone passed away… the thing you keep from them is always the best memories. It’s the same with old material, I feel. And obviously there’s a lot of different voices. Jakko Eino Klavi produced the album and he made the songs shift a little… and for the best. He kept the best elements and then simplified everything, making it all more visible and clear.

Jaakko is such a creative guy, what does he bring?



I didn’t know him before I went to Berlin to try and record some songs with him. I think he became a friend. We’re in touch. We exchange a bit, but we met through the album. We got to know each other. It was all through Domino, really. I loved his music previously, so I knew that he was going to do a great job. – He did all the arrangements – all the drumming. I sang my songs to a click and then he shaped it all. He was the sculptor.

Is that a free-flowing process?



All the songs are in French and I didn’t even tell him what they were about. I played him my songs, and then he’s ask me to play it faster or slower. We just did it. We didn’t think very hard about it – it was just making music.

‘Holly Golightly’ is such a refreshing track, what spawned it?


It was back in 2005 when I met Tracyanne from Camera Obscura. I went to Glasgow, and she had a poster of Breakfast In Tiffany’s in her breakfast booth. The whole environment was new to me, and I didn’t know that movie but there was something about that photograph that was very striking. I borrowed the novella, and it came from there. Truman Capote’s writing. Reading the story of that friendship – in the novella there’s a fine line between the fascination and the friendship of the two characters. It was very inspiring, and that’s what I tried to convey through this song. Feeling fascinated by finding a new friend.

We’ve already visited Bristol, Berlin, and Glasgow in this conversation – how does travel inform your work?



Well, usually when I travel I just hang out. Meet up with people. There was a synergy between Berlin and Athens, in the sense that Berlin used to be very cheap to live in, and it attracted lots of artists who needed workspaces that were cheap. I guess it’s a bit of a stereotype – being a bohemian artist in European cities – but yes, I’m pleased that stereotype exists. I think it’s an inspiring lifestyle.

When I was younger I grew up in a small town in the South West of France and I couldn’t connect with anyone, but when I grew up all the artists I met matched the intensity of my own life and I knew that’s what I wanted. That’s the life I wanted to have. That was what was most important to me. To feel like there was this energy and inspiration in the people I met. In places like Berlin and Athens, there are spaces that exist where artists can live cheaply. It’s a really important aspect of life, in shaping the colour and elegance. 

I’m from a town in the Scottish Highlands, so there’s a hard-relate there.

Really? Growing up, every time I hard about a British town or city, I would imagine the musicians who were there. It would trigger this imagination process. I have this dream vision of the place. If you think of the early days of bands like Cocteau Twins, for example.

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The album opens with ‘Foreigner’ – you must have become used to being an outsider in these different countries.

The French word for ‘foreigner’ is the same as ‘outsider’ and it’s a reference to the Camus novel, I guess. It was more light-hearted, I guess – feeling like a passenger and being a bit of a tourist in your own life.

How do you get out of that? How do you find ‘home’?



Well, I just bought a home, so maybe that will help. I’ve never had a steady home before. I’ve found it in parts – like when I was living with Rozi Plain in Bristol. Then I moved to Brussels after that, and I had pockets of that feeling. I’m hoping I will build it a bit more in the South West of France. I bought a house near the ocean so maybe that will help.

Does that yearning for home appear in other forms throughout the album?

‘Lee-Ann & Lucie’ mentions the new home. ‘Leanne And Lucy’ is a couple of surfers who live together – they’re a couple. And it’s a vision of hope and home. There’s something really cool about them but also it’s the future of relationships. I guess they’re hoping to get a baby, they live together. There’s something really optimistic about it. Living by the ocean, and this population bringing together and younger generation of people who want to generate their own lifestyle.

You’ve made some short films, too.

Yes it’s three short abstract films, shot during the recording process. They’re very humble, there’s no big concept behind them. But it documents that wandering I was embarking on during the album. – It started off because I met Julia – she’s a film maker – in Berlin, and I had a connection with her. I felt like I had this connection, and just meeting her made me want to get her involved. I felt very touched by her sensitivity. I didn’t plan to do it – I met her, and I enjoyed having her around the recording process. I guess she inspired me too, as she was such a cool girl to hang out with.

Is making those relationships a key part of your journey?

It is. I remember watching Babe play at Homegame – the festival in Fife – I bumped into Gerard, and it was something as simple as catching his gaze, his eyes… and feeling that this person has something special about them that you want to meet and share. That’s how I felt when I bumped into him. He wanted to go to France at that time for personal reasons, and that was the beginning of our collaboration. We did a really wonderful album together and then he carried on his own ways, his own path. But there was a time when I felt really inspired by him and it felt like our life together was really precious. That’s the most important thing to do in life – connect with people. Just live that inspiration to its full potential.

Have you taken ‘Banane Bleu’ to its full potential?

I do. It was a surprise, as I didn’t know what to expect from Jaakko. He’s Scandinavian, he doesn’t say much! We didn’t discuss much but there was something about us being together that just made sense.

So, what’s next? Are you focussing on your next project?



I’m hoping to connect with my surroundings a bit more. There’s a crew of musicians down here, who work from a local studio. I’m hoping for a more local approach. Just before COVID I travelled to Morocco, and did some collaboration there. That was really exciting but it’s a distant, exotic project… it doesn’t seem very sensible to be doing that these days. On a spiritual level, it’s about looking for something local. I’ll try to focus on that.

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‘Banane Bleue’ is out now.

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Finding His Range: Backroad Gee Interviewed

"You gotta fly that flag, fly it high…"

A lot can change in a year. Today, London-based Backroad Gee sits at the forefront of UK Rap, having ambushed the game with his uniquely dexterous, unpredictable flow and a combustible energy not seen since the golden age of grime. For an artist who spent the latter part of 2019 sitting on the wing, the contrast couldn’t be starker.

“My brother, 2020 has been lovely jubbly! I can’t complain. I’m working. The work don’t stop. I can’t lie, everything’s been a highlight for me, the whole journey. I didn’t believe this was what I’d be doing. Things were very different last year… very different my brother.”

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Britain’s prison system is a trap, with a woeful record of rehabilitating people. It takes individual perseverance to avoid falling into the cycle of re-offending. “I’m never going back there, one hundred percent. It shapes you, and you have to think about your next steps. Music wasn’t part of the plan, but it ended up being. And look where we are.”

The encouragement of those in his circle persuaded BRG to turn his flair for emceeing into a career. “Music is a natural thing for man. But did I really think that I could blow up and it would work out? No, that wasn’t really on my mind. People around me, my close friends hearing me rap and telling me I could do this is why I tried a ting.”

Backroad Gee’s flair on the mic, that distinctive bounce to his flow, is rooted in his Congolese heritage. It’s something he’s fiercely proud of and it shapes his artistic process. “It influences everything. How I sound, and how I come across, and even how I structure my music. That’s where my understanding of music comes from.”  

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In November 2019, he signalled the new direction his life was taking with the aptly named ‘I’m Free’. BRG’s opening bars couldn’t be more lucid: “Alhamdulillah I’m free, my vision is clear, I can see.” The buzz created by the icy, Hargo-produced cut led bloggers and writers to hurriedly label BRG as a drill rapper.

It’s a label that didn’t do justice to Backroad Gee’s artistic range. His first EP ‘Mukta Wit Reason’ draws heavily on melodic afrobeat and afroswing. Excellent follow-up ‘Mukta Vs Mukta’ fuses elements of drill with the industrial reverberations of grime and xylophonic keys of UK garage. It’s a complex, nuanced sound, which speaks to the richness of Black music from Britain and beyond.

“I’m an artist man, I do everything. But the Dunya is a very funny place, people have their own assumptions and their own opinions. I gotta leave the people dem to do what they do, and I’ll keep doing what I do.”

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Released in January 2020, the anthemic ‘Party Popper’ blasted BRG’s career up towards the stars.  He attacks Finn Wigan’s ominous, percussive production with the emphatic delivery he’s built his name on. It’s dark, mosh-pit ready music at its best, closer to grime than anything else.

“The turning point was when ‘Party Popper’ came out. That’s when things really started to woot woot woot [onomatopoeic gunshots]. People hadn’t heard the kind of stuff that I do, innit. People weren’t really ready for that situation there, it took people by surprise. They wanted to know what was going on!”

A subsequent remix followed. It’s a real Pan-African affair, seeing BRG link-up with Pa Salieu and Ambush. Artists celebrating their African identity have produced some of 2020s most important, innovative UK Rap. It’s something that might not have felt possible a few years back. This year, against the backdrop of very public anti-Blackness and a resurgent Black Lives Matter movement, it feels especially important.

“Back then it wasn’t cool to fly your flag innit. Now it’s time for representation, you know what I mean? You gotta fly that flag, fly it high. We’re all family. It’s about unity. The unity is bringing us together, it’s beautiful right about now.”

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BRG’s affinity with Pa Salieu is symbolic of that unity; young Black men raised in different cities, of Congolese and Gambian heritage respectively, but shaped by similar struggles articulated through music. Their chemistry on the brooding, forceful ‘My Family’ takes head-tops clean off. It’s one of the year’s standout tracks, and there’s more heat to come from the pair.

“Pa was at the studio and called me. Man went there to chill, smoke up, link up, chill up. Fanatix played the beat. They was making it there. Pa turned around and said bro, come, back-to-back! That was it, organic. The killys linked up and made it happen. Inshallah, when the time is right …we’ve got bare bangers in the vault.”

BRG’s raucous, reloadable energy on the mic has attracted the attention of grime’s elder statesmen. He recently jumped on the all-star remix of D-Double E’s ‘Can’t Tell Me A Ting’ before recruiting the legendary JME and Lethal Bizzle for the motivational, super-charged ‘Enough is Enough’. “That’s big business man, trust me, working with the legends. For them to recognise my ting and see that I’m really working. It’s a blessing.”

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His journey so far is best summed up by the track’s memorable hook: “Life is rough, I woke up, said enough is enough.” On the surface, it appears to have been a rapid rise for one of the UK’s most unique artists. That idea fails to recognise the resolve BRG needed to make it out of a system shaped to trap him.

“Patience has been a big thing on my journey, because it’s something man has had to learn. Patience and perseverance man, trust me. You have to take time in life, and map out everything. Then when you sip that champagne it tastes a little bit better.”

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Words: Robert Kazandjian
Photography: Will Spooner

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Nia Wyn Shares Deeply Personal New Song ‘Come Home To You’

Her new EP 'Take A Seat' is incoming…

Welsh singer Nia Wyn returns with new single ‘Come Home To You’.

Now based in London, the songwriter infuses her work with a graceful sense of soul, re-tooling classic influences in a fresh way.

Incoming EP ‘Take A Seat’ is out on March 19th, an eight track journey that contains some personal revelations.

Often, though, it’s done in an incredibly subtle way – take the title, which Nia says is actually “a play on what receptionists of course say at mental health services when you have to sit in a waiting room…”

She continues: “But it’s also a statement asking the listener to sit down and be introduced to me, my music and what I have to say. And that this is just the start.”

New single ‘Come Home To You’ revels in the miniature aspects of comfort that come with being in love, while showcasing Nia’s jazz-leaning vocal style.

There’s an elegance to her approach, matched to the continuous honesty of her lyricism, that makes ‘Come Home To You’ truly beguiling.

She comments: “‘Come Home To You’ is a soul tune about being in love with someone you’ve been through a lot with, and just wanting to actually have that time with them instead of the daily grind, wasting hours not being happy.”

We’ve got first play of the video – tune in below.

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Taylor Swift Calls Out Netflix Show Ginny & Georgia, Says Their Jokes Are “Horse Sh*t”

The series referenced her private life…

Taylor Swift has slammed Netflix in a new statement.

The singer left us spellbound in 2020, releasing two albums of startling beauty.

2021 opened with Taylor being used as a punchline, however, with Netflix series Ginny & Georgia incorporating her private life into a one-liner.

“What do you care?” asks one character. “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift”.

Seems a somewhat poorly researched joke, if you ask us – Taylor has been happily in a relationship for some time now, as the millions who have heard ‘London Boy’ are probably aware of.

In a tweet, Taylor cut the show down to size, labelling the joke “horse shit” and reminding Netflix that it is Women’s History Month.

Here it is.

Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back. How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse shit as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you Happy Women’s History Month I guess pic.twitter.com/2X0jEOXIWp

— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) March 1, 2021

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Cymru Am Byth: 18 Essential Welsh Albums

In honour of St. David's Day…

Today – March 1st – is St. David’s Day, a celebration of Welsh identity.

The strange thing is, though, we’re no closer to defining ‘Welshness’ than we were 100 years ago – it’s a country in flux, code-switching and shape-shifting on an hourly basis.

Musically, however, we feel certain in saying that Welsh music – indeed, Welsh culture as a whole – has rarely been so strong, with new generations utilising the tools at their disposal to craft magnificent new aural shapes.

Clash writers have picked out 18 essential Welsh albums (caveat: we’re starting at the year 2000) and we’ve tried to look beyond the big names, blending seminal hits with some deep cuts, too.

As a curious side note: no Welsh artist has won the Mercury… that needs to change.

Dive into our list below and get involved on Twitter.

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Pretty Vicious – Beauty Of Youth

Barely twenty Merthyr Tydfil’s Pretty Vicious had been through a number of highs and lows. A record label bidding war led to a short adventure with Virgin EMI, but the four piece signed to Big Machine/John Varvatos Records and came back strong in 2018.

Lit with anthems, drenched in rapturous riffs, this record offers ferocious tunes like the anthemic ‘These Four Walls’, ‘Something Worthwhile’ and the stomping ‘Lost in Lust’. Frontman Brad Griffiths’ vocals on ‘I Don’t Wanna Know’ echo AC/DC’s Angus Young’s. Recalling bands like Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks, the punky swagger of ‘Are You Entertained?’ is a frenzy of a tune.

Strangely prophetic knowing that the band split up in 2019, ‘What Could Have Been’ becomes a reminder to focus on what was rather than what’s never going to be. A youthful rock and roll classic, the band’s album should be remembered for its authentic, raw quality. (Susan Hansen)

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James Dean Bradfield – Even In Exile

James Dean Bradfield has always wanted to be the frontman in a band – he thrives on collective insight, on using the energy of those around him to bolster his own intensity.

But then Manic Street Preachers needed to take time out. Eager to scratch the studio itch, he collected some words and lyrics from Patrick Jones – brother of Nicky Wire and a renowned writer under his own steam – and started to focus on the life and legacy of Victor Jara.

An enriching, hugely uplifting experience, ‘Even In Exile’ is a song cycle about the place where progressive politics and music intertwine, where art can inspire social change, and where purity and goodness in the soul of humanity can be found.

Much more than a side project or carefree solo endeavour, it found Bradfield in full creative flight – a terrific listen, ‘Even In Exile’ felt incredibly timely amid 2020’s strange dystopia. (Robin Murray)

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Boy Azooga – 1, 2 Kung Fu!

A gifted musician and songwriter, Davey Newington’s versatility is as mesmeric as the music he makes. – Multi-faceted and nuanced, his debut record is a playful celebration of style. Constituting a joyous listen from start to finish, influences cited are as wide as rap, heavy metal, indie, jazz, folk and more, truly satisfying a genuine thirst for intelligent and imaginative music solutions.

With songs written over a few years, the Cardiff based artist recruited members of bands like Shoebox Orchestra and Afro Cluster to join him for live performances. Signing to Heavenly Recordings represented an enormous opportunity, and numerous events soon followed including a chance to support Liam Gallagher, an appearance on BBC Two’s Later… with Jools Holland, a European and a US tour, and a session at Seattle’s KEXP.

Catering for melodic and rhythmic variety, ‘Loner Boogie’, ‘Breakfast Epiphany’, ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’, ‘Hangover Square’ and ‘Jerry’ are infectiously unforgettable. (Susan Hansen)

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Super Furry Animals – Mwng

‘Cool Cymru’ was a momentous era that saw a wave of hip bands including the Manic Street Preachers from Wales take the Millennium by storm, pretty impressive for a territory slightly larger than New Jersey. The Super Furry Animals held a particularly special place in this musical movement, who unlike their counterparts, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and Cataonia , possessed an affinity to their native language with a collection of tracks with Welsh lyrics.

The band took their mother tongue to places the bards of old only dreamed of, with Grammy nominations and world tours while heroically turning down a seven figure offer from Coca Cola to use one of their songs in an advert.

Mwag (pronounced “moong”) saw the bands lead singer Gruff Rhys release over ten Welsh- language songs he’d been in the process of writing since the band’s conception in 1995. Whilst the album doesn’t reach the anthemic heights of previous releases there is a charming grit to the body of work, a stripped back collection of tracks that act as a sonic nod to rock of old. (Josh Crowe)

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MC Mabon – The Hunt For Meaning

There was certainly a musical movement stirring in Wales at the turn of the millennium, MC Mabon was without doubt at the more experimental end of it. The Celtic nation had always had a boundless affinity with the arts and music, but cold rap flows and garage rock chug were certainly newer additions to its cultural canon.

Whilst many might have pre-empted the Welsh embracing hip-hop as cultural perversion, it really did work. Rather than imitating transatlantic inspirations Gruff Meredith, aka MC Mabon lays claim to his own brand of hip hop. The album is delivered with wry vocals and biting lyrics, tracks like ‘Fuck You If U Think You’re Cool’ are full to the brim in reckless glory, a toothless and smile and nod to the irony of it all. (Josh Crowe)

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Mclusky – My Pain And Sadness Is More Sad And Painful Than Yours

Mclusky’s debut album is an underrated classic. Everything about it is a sheer joy. Which is fitting as opening track ‘Joy’ just comes at you with abrasive guitars and a chip on its shoulder.

While there will always be something delightful about kids with guitars making a racket it’s Mclusky’s lyrics that really do the damage. They are drenched in bile, in jokes the kind of pathos middle aged comedic writers could dream of. “You’re moving to the city, ‘cos your village is shit”, and “Wash daily, cos everyone’s a hero” have always resonated.

The album’s pinnacle moment is the terse ‘She Come In Pieces’. A searing riff explodes from the speakers filled. It grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let go until it drops to the floor in an exhausted mess.

This is arguably as good as Mclusky anything they released until they mutated into Future Of The Left. (Nick Roseblade)

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R. Seliog – Megadoze

Electronic maverick R. Seiliog’s second album is an ambient techno marvel. Ambient in that these subtle techno workouts are underpinned with field recordings of nature and the everyday sounds that bleep in when listening to music, rather than some new age/devotional stuff from the 1990s.

The centre-piece of the album is ‘Vitamin Filter. The first half of song gently builds, adding layers of atmospheric electronics and serene basslines and until it breaks. Then everything comes alive with billowing breakbeats. As its elongated outro kicks in, it sets up the second half of the album perfectly, with hazy electronics and oscillating beats.

This is a singular and esoteric collection of songs. It works equally well when played at an obscene volume to people giddy with excitement or for that quiet and reflective cup of tea after a busy day. (Nick Roseblade)

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Llyn Y Cwn – Dinorwic

Looking at the cover of Llyn Y Cwn’s album ‘Dinorwic’ everything you need to know about the album is hiding in plain sight. The picture depicts Dinorwic a former 700-acre slate quarry in Snowdonia. There is a black and white photo of heavy clouds hanging over a mountain range, while a lake barely moves below.

‘Dinorwic’ is filled with slow-moving textures and tones. Some epic, others subtle, but always moving. Each track is named after a different part of the quarry and touches on themes of industrial, and cultural, desolation. Which, sadly, Wales has always known. You can still see the scars of across the Welsh landscape. Like Dinorwic. The album speaks about how history shapes the present, about how its effects can still be felt today.

This album is as powerful, and tender, as any other album on this list. It discusses feelings of national pride and identity and what happens after industry goes. (Nick Roseblade)

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Stereophonics – Scream Above The Sounds

It might not be the obvious choice for all, but ‘Scream Above The Sounds’ is one of Stereophonics finest albums. The Welsh rock heroes led by Kelly Jones who has one of the best voices in the industry can do very wrong.

Released 20 years after the striking debut ‘Word Gets Around’, the Stereophonics tenth studio album has an impressive selection of tracks such as the gorgeous ‘Caught By The Wind’ , the surging ‘What’s All The Fuss About’ and the fantastic ‘Never Going Down’ which is one of my favourite tracks to hear live. – With just Jones and a piano, the poignant ‘Before Anyone Knew Our Name’ – a tribute to the late Stuart Cable is emotive and endearing in equal measure.

Without a doubt, Stereophonics know how to play to their strengths – think souring choruses and crunching guitars, ‘Scream Above The Sounds’ showcases Kelly Jones’ strength as one of the UK’s best songwriters and is one of the most under rated albums from their sublime back catalogue. (Emma Harrison)

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The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

Huge walls of noise. Unforgettable guitar riffs. A cloying sense of claustrophobia juxtaposed ambitiously against a boundless sense of space. The debut album from The Joy Formidable was an ambitious prospect to 21-year-old me. Indeed, 10 years and whole host of cynicism later, ‘The Big Roar’ is a record whose lofty ambitions still hold up.

For some, the band’s richer, more nuanced, more refined later releases might have warranted inclusion over their debut. But as far as sheer energy, aggression and optimism go, it’s impossible to beat.

From its bold choice of opener in the sprawling seven-minute ‘The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie’, to the goosebump-raising catharsis of its shimmering conclusion ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’, ‘The Big Roar’ was both a fully formed debut, and a colossal statement of intent from not just one of Wales’ most exciting bands of this century, but one of the UK’s. (Dave Beech)

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Kelly Lee Owens – Inner Song

Kelly Lee Owens’ second album was borne from a period of profound introspectiveness, created during what she described as “the hardest three years of (her) life”; the title an homage to free-jazz musician Alan Silva’s 1972 opus.

A multi-genre offering, Owens traversed club-generated trance and techno on ‘Melt!’, woozy trip-hip on ‘Re-Wild’ and glacial dream-pop balladry with ‘L.I.N.E.’. Integrating narration by avant-garde artist and fellow Welshman John Cale on ‘Corner Of My Sky’, Owens’ requiem to manmade disasters and the natural order added objective weight and lyrical profundity to her own experiences.

An elegantly-rendered, cerebral experience, on ‘Inner Song’ Owens asked her listeners to step away from the travails of their lives into her windswept nirvana. (Shahzaib Hussain)

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Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

25 years on from his disappearance Richey Edwards remains a potent figure in the lives of fans, with the lyricist, wit, and style icon retaining an extraordinary sense of gravitas as the years pass.

To the remaining members of Manic Street Preachers, though, he was a colleague and a friend. It’s this background that justified their decision to use Richey’s remaining notebooks – handed to bassist and confidante Nicky Wire – as the bedrock for 2009’s extraordinary ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’.

A stunning experience, it matches some of the band’s most striking, visceral music – since ‘The Holy Bible’ at least – to those words, perhaps the final published sentences fans will gain from Richey’s imagination.

While some fans have always rejected the album, it is quite simply one of Manic Street Preachers’ bravest moves, and for this writer one of their most rewarding post-2000 listens. (Robin Murray)

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Gruff Rhys – American Interior

Released in 2014 ‘American Interior’ was Gruff Rhys’ fourth studio album, a steady stream of creativity that saw the Welsh songwriter confound expectations at every turn.

A song cycle based on a fabled exploration for a ‘lost’ Welsh speaking tribe of Native Americans, ‘American Interior’ looked at Welsh identity from a number of different directions – the diasporic expansions, for one, but also the role that stories and storytelling play in the preservation of culture.

As always with Gruff, the melodic verve and lyrical invention are neatly intertwined – a work of real immediacy ‘American Interior’ was nonetheless hugely complex, a work that stretched out into a book, a film, and even an app.

The search continues… (Robin Murray)

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Goldie Lookin Chain – Greatest Hits

It’s to the enormous chagrin of many a new Welsh MC that the only reference point the London based media seemingly have for Cymru hip-hop is Goldie Lookin Chain. That being said, GLC’s ubiquitous comedy rap shouldn’t be ignored for its often misguided appearance in album reviews – virtually everything on ‘Greatest Hits’ is absolute genius. 

Production wise it’s a loving echo of Golden Age Hip-hop, while lyrically it contains a mixture the crass and the profane, all intermingled with more South East Wales in-jokes that you can shake a stick at.

All the bangers are here – ‘Guns Don’t Kill People Rappers Do’ is present and correct – and it’s sheer, straight-down-the-line entertainment from Newport’s finest. (Robin Murray)

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Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf

Activist, songwriter, and former Pipette Gwenno cut her solo teeth across a dizzying four EP run, before releasing the dystopian, Welsh language science fiction full length ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ in 2014.

A wonderfully imaginative record, it fuses the work of cult Welsh speculative fiction author Owain Owain with her own creativity, matching synth pop lullabies to field recordings.

A beguiling song cycle that focusses on social upheaval and the requirement of direct action for progressive change, ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ is a record of contradictions – brilliantly immediate while boasting a dense array of complexity, it’s an incredible achievement, one that marked Gwenno out as one of the most original artists at work in Wales today. (Robin Murray)

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Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring

Picking your favourite Los Campesinos! album is next to impossible. After all, who would you leave out? From the spindly charm of their debut to novelistic elements that adorned 2017’s ‘Sick Scenes’, each occupies a singular universe.

If we literally had to pick, however, then 2010’s bruising, ultra-revealing ‘Romance Is Boring’ would win the day. With producer John Goodmanson at the helm and the band battle-hardened by near-constant touring, Los Campesinos! give it their all on a (we’re calling it) career high record, one that arrives soaked in emotion and personal revelation.

Ideas are dense, and the approach multi-faceted – songs like ‘Plan A’ may feel abrupt, but the density of information imparted is truly breathtaking. With more about-turns than a Scalextric kit, ‘Romance Is Boring’ is gripping from first second to last. (Robin Murray)

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Cate Le Bon – Reward

High doses of intricacy and complexity are contained on ‘Reward’. It is a record that signals an attempt to find and hold on to meaning in life. Intimate and personal, it is also one where mumbling is the order of the day, and where a lack of clarity is desired, intended and legit.

But permeating the record from beginning to end is the complexity. Expressed through a number of contradictions in songs such as ‘Mother’s Mother’s Magazines’ tackling the idea of “being around a lot of really fed up women”, the track stands in stark contrast to the measured sadness of ‘Home to You’. Also playing with surrealist imagery, polarized effects are created between the biting, tongue-in-cheek nature of ‘Sad Nudes’ and the flowing ease of ‘Magnificent Gestures’, a song that combines rumbling saxophone tones and trippy Ska influences. The sensation is delirious, but clever and effective. The mood is rectified on ‘You Don’t Love Me’ with its clarity and in-your-face lyrics.

Alternating somewhere in a grey zone land of ambiguity, between dream and reality, there is an adaptability and it manifests itself in sparks of humour or deep sincerity, and between cynicism and vulnerability. The effects are profound. (Susan Hansen)

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future of the left – Travels With Myself And Another

Clash could just list its favourite tracks hereand say how they make me feel packing in my job and running away to the Outer Hebrides, but that wouldn’t really do the album justice. ‘Travels With Myself And Another’ contains enough visceral thrills to keep the biggest noise addict happy, but the songs hint at much more than that.

Grappling with the dilemma of defining the modern British male, it never quite finds an answer yet never shies away from the problem, leaving questions that linger for hours, or days. Of course there is a simpler way to enjoy this album – just buy a copy, and PLAY IT FUCKING LOUD.

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Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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#PLTFRM: Jevon

Tune into Jevon’s debut LP 'Fell In Love In Brasil’ now…

Growing up, West London’s Jevon internalized the enduring effects of a nomadic upbringing; rootless, weighed down by generational curses and the lure of street life, he was in search of something deeper. At a creative crossroads, Jevon began what would be a life-altering peregrination through his familial past, travelling to Brazil to awaken a part of his identity that had long been dormant.

On his debut album, ‘Fell In Love In Brasil’, Jevon is the bridge between worlds. Within it we find universal themes of peace and reconciliation, a restoration of faith in the land, a dialogue between old and new generations and an assimilation of both historical and personal. While necropolitical wars rage on in Brazil, with Afro-Brazilian working-class communities ostracised by the elite, Jevon shines a light on the defiant spirit of the ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Jevon propels Brazilian music from the fringes to the mainstream. This isn’t standard UK rap fare: entwining funk carioca – known in the west as baile funk – samba and bossa nova, Jevon incites his own hybrid rhythmic rebellion; the essence of Brazil imported in full, HD technicolour with field recordings adding a layer of unvarnished authenticity to the auditory experience.

From the riotous carnival number with a dark undertow, ‘Cocaina’ to ‘Ghetto Cinderella’, a 2021 revamp of Carlos Santana’s ‘Maria Maria’, to the conscious rap of ‘Heaven’s Calling’, Jevon runs through a full gamut of emotions and moods without relinquishing his gritty realness. Where diasporic works can feel disjointed and dislocated, ‘Fell In Love is Brasil’ pulses with reverence and respect for its source material.

CLASH spoke to Jevon on the eve of his new release as part of our newly-launched digital #PLTFRM series, spotlighting global talent breaking down barriers.

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‘Fell In Love in Brazil’ was recorded over three years, it was gestating for a long time. How does it feel to finally have it out in the world?

It’s surreal. That’s the only way to describe it. It hasn’t really sunk in yet to be honest. It’s been a long time coming, and I put so much of myself in this.

You’ve been quite open in the past about your upbringing and transient home life. Tell me a bit about your origins?

My home life was quite different to most. It’s been very good and very bad. It started off rough; rough as you can get. I saw what street life was about through my Dad – he was a true hustler. A lot of the hustle in the culture is glorified, but I saw it from a different perspective because I saw it through my Dad’s eyes – that’s why I talk from a perspective of a child growing up in my music. My Dad is an amazing man. I’ve learnt a lot from him and I wouldn’t change anything, but seeing what I’ve seen growing up has really made me look at life differently.

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Some of your formative years were lost to the streets…

Absolutely. My Dad tried to keep me away from a lot of the bad stuff, tried to distract me and keep me focused on football, but kids are impressionable and they’re not silly, they’ll always pick up on things. I remember vividly one day my Dad saying: “I’m fed up with this life.” That’s when we moved to Coventry. During that time, I was misbehaving and acting out, I was hanging around the wrong people. I had to toughen myself up because I was a target. When you have nice things, when you have chains, you’re a target. That was the point when I realized I had to go out alone. You lose a lot of your childhood to the streets.

For those that don’t know, you’ve produced for next gen UK rappers: your work with Pa Salieu is frequently referenced, as is your production across Nines’ ‘One Foot Out’ album and XL’s 2017 ‘New Gen’ compilation. How would you describe the transition from a producer helping craft their vision to honing in on your own?

When I’m producing for artists, I put myself in their shoes and understand their vision and help bring it to life. My job is to make the best record I can for them. Creating my own body of work was confronting and I’d sum it up as a spiritual journey. I had to step inside myself and ask myself: What do you want to talk about? What direction do you want to take? Being a producer is about managing your inspiration.

Tracing your earlier material your production has always been a highlight. It’s not geared towards the mainstream per se; it’s idiosyncratic. For example, take a song like ‘Paranoia’ which sounds like a peak-Timbaland cut. From a producer’s perspective, where do you find your inspiration?

So many producers have inspired me! I was always the guy reading the credits on the album sleeve. I take bits I love from all my favourite producers and put them into a blender. I love nostalgic sounds like Timbaland, he’s a clear influence on me; Kanye is a big influence in terms of sampling; I love Pharrell’s use of chord progressions, it’s left-field and you can always identify a Pharrell beat. I’m drawn to old school 90s RnB production.

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You spent your formative years in Coventry. There’s a renascent wave of rappers coming out of Coventry and the Midlands that differs from the talent coming out of London. What’s the scene like there as someone whose been immersed in it – is there a sense of a tightly-woven community?

Yes and no. I moved to Coventry at a different time to when Pa Salieu was there and I saw it in a different light. When I moved to Coventry, there wasn’t a large demographic of black people there that I knew of; there were pockets of Afro-Caribbean communities which birthed a community of musicians but it still felt separate.

There was a music scene, but it was different to what I was hearing in London. The energy was different, they moved different in Coventry. As time went on, the community became more diverse, which was helped by the University; it became a multi-cultural hub. Musically, it’s been interesting to see the sounds that resonate in Coventry, and how it differs from London and the rest of the UK. London may be the Capital, but it doesn’t always define the rest of the nation.

The UK is experiencing a Golden era in terms of black music. I’d compare it to black music coming out of the US in the 90s: you had Def Jam, Rocafella and No Limits – we’re in that era now. In America, rap was a New York thing and London has a similar energy. Southern rap became a huge thing and was contesting NY rap. Andre 3000 could rap too! Look at Young T and Bugzy going crazy, not only in the UK but in the States as well. We’re breaking out.

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‘Fell In Love In Brasil’ feels like a turning point for you; a very personal passion project that sees you reconnect with your Brazilian heritage from your Grandfather’s side. What was your relationship like?

My Grandfather (from my Mum’s side) was initially the family figure I knew the least about. He’d split from my Nan and they were living separate lives. From what I remember of him, he had the most infectious laugh, he was always happy. He would call me and we’d talk and he’d reprimand me for not visiting. He was a big music fan; he met my Nan at a Bee Gees concert backstage!

He left me his vinyl collection and that’s where this story began.

Music has a way of continuing legacy. What a wonderful thing to inherit – to link your past and present. What was your Grandfather listening to?

João Gilberto and Marcos Valle were the two main artists. I got to work with Marcos on the album. His records were so complex. My Grandfather loved Marcos Vale, so getting him on board felt extra personal. Marcos was like Stevie Wonder in the way he explored different genres; soul, jazz and funk-inspired Brazilian music. The funk scene in Brazil was huge.

Initially, I was going through these vinyls to sample but the Marcos Valle vinyl really surprised me because it was recorded live – it had a different energy to it. It was then I thought I had to go to Brazil. I could get session musicians over here but I knew I needed to experience the real thing because their playing off a different rhythm in Brazil.

Did you feel a nagging sense that you needed to connect these parts of your ancestry because you’re a Father yourself? Did that alter your perspective in anyway?

100%. I was going through so much personally at that time, this was a chance to find myself. I had to go inside myself so I could be the version of myself my kids needed.

When it comes to music, I can express myself; in day to day life I keep a lot of bottled up. When I went to Brazil it felt like home; I saw people who looked like and me and I reconnected with myself again. It was a huge confidence builder for me because I doubt myself a lot. In Brazil, I was focussed on music and exploring, I wasn’t focused on expectation. Going back home made me realise where I’m going.

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‘Fell In Love In Brasil’ is a triumph. It ties these disparate worlds of UK Rap and RnB with baile funk with finesse and originality. These genres are all about rhythm. If you had to pinpoint what is it about these Brazilian genres that appealed to you as an artist on the frontier of UK Rap, what would it be?

I don’t know if this intentional or by accident, but I’ve noticed that with Baile funk and grime, they sound similar in rhythm. It’s bouncy and it gives me old school grime vibes. When I delved deeper, I found Miami bass which is influenced by the berimbau; a ritualistic Old African percussive instrument. The rhythm in the berimbau when they train for Carioca is the rhythm you hear in Baile funk, which has an off-beat on the third bar. It gives it a different rhythm. It’s all mathematics, and Brazilian musicians play to a completely different rhythm.

Baile funk has more in common with dancehall because it’s built from sexual energy; the kick drum will cut through in a carnival. In Rio, in the favelas, they have block and street parties all the time. The energy is unlike anything I’ve ever felt.

Tell me about the collaborators and features on this record and what they bring to the table. You’ve mentioned Marcos Valle but there’s a mix of contemporary regional Brazilian talent and UK talent on there as well…

On the track ‘Forest Fire’, there’s a Brazilian MC and producer called Rincon Sapiência, who really brought it to life. There’s an artist called Tessa Pavilach, better known as Hoodlem, who co-wrote that track. She’s amazing! Initially I had Nao in my mind when recording that song. As time went on, I realized it sounded more like an Intro. So, when I got to Brazil, I knew I had to expand on that track and it was one of the first songs I completed in Brazil.

Daniel Ganjaman, this Brazilian producer, helped produce the record and source a lot of the local collaborators you hear on the record. He’s the Dr Dre of Brazil.

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You’re a filter for these young musicians, and because of you, they’ll now be more accessible to the west and will go onto collaborate with artists here…

That was my goal. I felt a responsibility to give these local musicians a platform. They can go now go and work with anyone. They are so unique: they can produce, DJ, write and direct, they just the need resources. I also have to shoutout J Warner who was one of the first artists I worked with in London on the ‘New Gen’ album. His voice is amazing and we immediately clicked.

Your record shines a light on Latin-American communities in London, and other area codes in the UK. Did you feel this diasporic expression was underrepresented musically and socially when you were making the record?

I was conscious about my influence; I was conscious about how I could shine a positive light on my Brazilian heritage. As a Dad, I look at everyone else as someone’s else’s child. Especially because I come from a specific demographic, I come from a demographic that most people won’t make it to a certain age. When you’re in that place, you live a lifestyle that isn’t realistic, and you promote a lifestyle that isn’t healthy. There are people that look like you, that will receive your work and be led down a path they shouldn’t be led down.

When I was making this album, I was conscious that people would be looking up to me, and that they could do this shit too and do it better.

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I feel this record is your quest for a kind of home. Often when you live between nationalities, it’s hard to find a sense of belonging. At present, are you comfortable embracing every part of your identity? Is it an ongoing process?

It’s an ongoing process for me, and I don’t think it ever finishes. I would like to go to Africa, that’s the Motherland. I still need to delve into my culture there, so I understand myself better as a person. You can identify yourself more when you know your history. As a father and as a human you can never stop finding more knowledge to improve yourself.

What tracks from the album would you recommend as an entry point to the world of Jevon? For someone who hasn’t yet heard your music, what songs would you put front and centre?

‘Gringo’, would be my first. It’s a great intro track because it’s about not understanding the native language, but being able to communicate through music. We might not understand each other, but we can dance together, we can vibe together. There’s another meaning behind that song. I’ve always felt like a foreigner because I moved about a lot, I was always felt like a bit of an outsider. ‘Gringo’ was the nickname they gave me in Brazil.

‘Cocaina’ is very personal but I made it in a light-hearted way. I heard a Gucci Mane lyric the other day: “I had to laugh to stop me from crying”. That really struck a chord with me. ‘Cocaina’ is my Dad passing his demons on to me and his Dad passing demons onto him. I’m talking about family curses. But I wanted to be ironic about it. When it comes to mental health in these communities, it’s a sign of weakness. We don’t talk about our feelings; we don’t share our experiences or show our emotions.

‘Heaven’s Calling’, is another personal one. I talk about a friend who had passed, and it was birthed from me recording one day and then calling him but completely forgetting that he’d passed. It was a reflex. That was a moment when the grief hit me and I’d never experienced that before. I had to go to a vulnerable place to write this song and I let myself unravel a bit. I‘ve been dancing with death my whole life.

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You touch on death and the afterlife in your short film; it’s full of these rich, dreamlike sequences that sees you traveling between spiritual realms, ripe with Brazilian iconography. What are the themes at play here?

Artistically I wanted to make something visually gripping. The short film didn’t have the biggest budget but you don’t need the biggest budget to make gripping art. That’s an important message I want to convey to artists coming up.

I wanted to portray the reality of Brazil; that people over there are struggling. I wanted to portray a message that I am with them and this is my gift back to them. It was me giving back to my community. It was a very intense film to produce – so many things happened, forces were working against us, but we persisted and everyone delivered.

I shouldn’t say it but the suited gentleman you see in the ‘Na Hora’ and ‘Gringo’ segments – these snarling men are a visual representation of Bolsanaro.

The political climate in Brazil is so fraught right now, it predates the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro but his rise mirrors the autocracy of Trump. That’s a crazy backdrop to have…

It’s wild! When I first went back to Brazil, I met this activist, this woman of colour who was identifying all the corruption in Brazil and she was a force to be reckoned with. She was murdered. She was assassinated! She fought for LGBTQ rights; she was a fierce advocate against discrimination which really defines Brazil today. I remember vividly the day before, when everyone was roused by her, and the day after she was murdered, the confidence in my people was at an all-time low. The spirit left them. She was so special.

I started researching Bolsonaro and the far-right movement growing in power. I was talking to older musicians, and they were giving me the 411 on him. Brazil is such a beautiful paradise but it has a dark history. It is very segregated and the favelas are full of people of colour. Brazil is an incredibly diverse country, but it’s not reflected in the media.

My hope is for Bolsanaro to watch it, and have some nightmares!

I truly feel ‘Fell In Love In Brazil’ will stand the test of time. What do you want the record to achieve in the long run? What do you want your listeners to walk away feeling?

I would love them to appreciate my journey; I found myself in Brazil. This is very much a passion project for me and it wasn’t about proving anything to anyone other than myself and my kids. My kids just need their Dad. I spent three years making this and they deserve my time now.

Between me and you, this could be last album I make. I will forever be chasing the feeling of finding myself like I did on this record. I feel like if I create again, I might be chasing something I don’t want to be. I realised I wasn’t trying to be a superstar. At the beginning I wanted to be bigger than Kanye! At the end, I realised this was the therapy I needed. The record set me on the right path of what I want to achieve, and that is quality control in the UK from a development standpoint.

I wanted to make a classic record; the format isn’t appreciated as much as it should be. The culture recycles, and it becomes repetitive. I remember the happiest times I had was connecting with a body of work, an album, and taking the time to consider every detail. That’s what I achieved with this record.

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Listen back to part of our interview with Jevon broadcast on Clash Radio Show on Rinse FM here.

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Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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DJ, Producer Angel Moraes Has Died

Cause of death has not been confirmed…

DJ and producer Angel Moraes has died.

Known for his extensive involvement with the New York house scene, he co-founded the seminal label Hot ‘N’ Spycy in the mid 90s.

The Brooklyn figure earned an international reputation, matching his high-energy DJ sets to a nuanced production style that tapped into the soulful aspects of New York house music.

Launching the Montreal nightclub Stereo in 1998, he helped guide the club to become one of North America’s pivotal underground redoubts.

News of his death was confirmed on social media over the weekend, with a statement on Facebook stating that he died surrounded by his family.

It reads…

“Angel passed away yesterday abruptly. He passes away surrounded with the people that loved him unconditionally. Chris, the kids and me. I don’t know what to write. It is so painful. But I prefer you hear it from me. He lived a full life and he always told me: when I drop dead, I will have no regrets cause I lived an awesome fucking life.”

“He is one of the few that accomplished everything he set his heart to…but we still had so many projects for the future. This doesn’t make sense. I will do a ceremony in Montreal and one in NY. Will keep you guys posted. I’m sorry this message is not good but I don’t have the words.He was the light and colors and now everything is black and white…I don’t know how we can come back from that.”

take a moment today to acknowledge NYC House Music legend Angel Moraes who died suddenly yesterday. may he continue to bless the infinite beyond w/ his music.

— Tommie Sunshine (@tommiesunshine) February 28, 2021

And now we’ve lost another legend of the house scene. This is so sad. Another great producer, remixer, and DJ, and of course a lovely guy who I had the pleasure of hanging out with many times back in the day. RIP Angel Moraes. You will be missed pic.twitter.com/Cl7BdVZkp5

— CJ Mackintosh (@cjmackintosh) February 28, 2021

Saddened to hear the passing of Angel Moraes. RIP pic.twitter.com/MFYQ7NvOfk

— Faith Fanzine (@FaithFanzine) February 28, 2021

I am shaken. I was only speaking to Angel Moraes a few weeks back. Stunned to hear that he has passed away. Rest In Peace brother

— Simon Dunmore (@SimonDunmore) February 28, 2021

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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Influences: William The Conqueror

Song choices from a maverick thinker…

Naming yourself after one of British history’s most pivotal figures is a bold move, but then William The Conqueror could scarcely be accused of lacking ambition.

A group whose literary flair and in-depth musicality marks them out from the crowd, the three-piece set about constructing their new album last year.

Pieced together as the world seemed to collapse, ‘Maverick Thinker’ is shot through with a don’t-look-back attitude, imbuing each song with a potent form of energy.

Out on Friday – March 5th – the record will be accompanied by singer Ruarri Joseph debut novel, released on the same day.

Working to a musical tip, however, Clash tracked down Ruarri to explore William The Conqueror’s musical influences.

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Pearl Jam – ‘No Way’

Given that William is a version of my younger self, most of the references or influences came from records I’d been obsessed with as a teenager. It was about trying to tune in and remember what it was that got me excited and wanting to write my own songs in the first place.

Some things haven’t aged well (sorry, ‘Siamese Dream’) but others transported me fully back to my youth, submerging me like the bad guy in Ratatouille that’s reduced to tears of joy coz his meal is just like how his mother used to make it.

‘No Way’ by Pearl Jam (from the album ‘Yield’) is one of those songs that never gets old to my ears. Simple two chord patterns or repetitive riffs is still my go to approach as writer – let the melody and the lyrics do the hard work.

I could’ve cited ‘Tremor Christ’ from ‘Vitalogy’ for the same reasons, but that doesn’t have Jack Irons on drums. Jack Irons is always an influence on William’s vibe. And we blatantly stole the tambourine sound from ‘No Way’ too. 

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Bob Dylan – ‘Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands’

I love the stories/myths around this song: Dylan supposedly writing till four in the morning or the band assuming the song was over only for Dylan to loop back to another verse/bridge/chorus and keep the thing going for eleven minutes; Roger Waters apparently citing it as the moment he realised songs didn’t have to be a paltry three minutes.

The title track of our album ‘Maverick Thinker’ is only six minutes long but I was definitely thinking about ‘Sad Eyed Lady…’ when writing it. The progression has a carousel feel and if I hadn’t have figured out what I was trying to say in six minutes, we could’ve kept going round and round till we threw up for sure. One day we’ll have a song that takes up a whole side of vinyl.

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Booker T and the MGs – Fuquawi

Straight as a die and solid as gold from the get-go. I can definitely hear the influence in ‘The Deep End’. The Vox organ in the middle eight was a nod too for sure.

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The Soul Machine – Twitchie Feet

If I mention the vox in ‘The Deep End’, I have to mention ‘Twitchie Feet’ by The Soul Machine too. That mix is so fucking bold. Right on the edge of being painful.

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Nick Cave does apocalyptic storytelling so well. The mood setting in this song is awesome. It’s like you’re sat in a carriage on a ghost train, anticipating the frights you know lie ahead. It’s another looping progression (my favourite kind of song writing) and it builds on itself to drive the narrative deeper and deeper. The live version is even more dramatic in the way it accelerates.

We had a song called ‘Suddenly Scared’ that we’d played live a few times, but that we hadn’t quite nailed the structure of. It started as big as it ended, and felt like it was dropping the audience into the middle of a play they’d missed the beginning of. In a soundcheck one day, impatiently waiting my turn, I started up the riff, much slower and atmospheric. Harry joined in with a very Jubilee Street-esque rim knock and the lightbulb went on.

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Tom Waits – Filipino Box Spring Hog

It’s absolute classic Tom Waits – sparse, aggressive percussion, occasional nod to what key the song’s in by either harp or filthy guitar, Waits barking the story with his uncompromising authority.

‘Wake Up’ is one of the few songs on the record that was done to a click track. When we came to do it, we made a super distorted bass/snare loop with ‘…Box Spring Hog’ in mind, so we had something to play to that wasn’t the tedious blip of a digital metronome. We liked it so much we kept it in the mix.

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‘Maverick Thinker’ will be released on March 5th.

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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Download Festival Won’t Take Place In 2021

But dates for next year have been confirmed…

Download Festival will not take place in 2021.

The metal and hard rock festival had planned to host a 2021 instalment, if conditions surrounding the pandemic permitted.

Sadly, it seems as though it just won’t be possible to host a full scale event this year, so the team have taken the tough decision to call off this summer’s event.

All is not lost, however – Download will return in 2022, and will take place between June 10th – 12th.

Kiss, Iron Maiden, and Biffy Clyro will headline, with all previously purchased tickets set to follow over.

Here’s the announce.

We’re sorry to announce that Download 2021 will no longer be taking place. Please read the full statement below.

Download will return stronger than ever 10th – 12th June 2022 with headliners @kiss, @IronMaiden and @BiffyClyropic.twitter.com/eQ3xb0Djke

— Download Festival (@DownloadFest) March 1, 2021

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D’Angelo’s VERZUZ Set Was One For The Ages

An ultra-rare live performance from the neo-soul god…

There are legends in modern soul music, and then there is D’Angelo.

The singer practically defined neo-soul across two phenomenal releases, before seeming to disappear from view.

Returning with his jaw-dropping ‘Black Messiah’ full length and its accompanying tour dates, everything D’Angelo touches seems to turn to gold.

So it was for last night’s VERZUZ performance, recorded live at New York’s Apollo theatre – the place where he got a break as a raw unknown.

Breaking with the VERZUZ format, D’Angelo opened with a string of new cuts, suggesting that a follow up to ‘Black Messiah’ isn’t too far away.

Covering Smokey Robinson’s ‘Cruisin’, he then invited Method Man onstage for ‘Break Ups 2 Make Ups’.

‘Black Messiah’ supplied the spine of his set, before D’Angelo dipped into the ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Voodoo’ playbook.

H.E.R. came out onstage, and the Grammy winner assumed Lauryn Hill’s role on ‘Nothing Even Matters’ before D’Angelo closed his set with ‘Untitled (How Does It Feel)’.

Here’s the tracklisting:

(Untitled New Song) (with Keyon Harrold)
Cruisin’ (Smokey Robinson)
Alright
Lady
Me and Those Dreamin’ Eyes of Mine
Left & Right (with Method Man and Redman)
Method Man: “Break Ups 2 Make Ups”
1000 Deaths Back to the Future, Pt. 1
Sugah Daddy
Devil’s Pie
One Mo’ Gin
Chicken Grease
Feel Like Makin’ Love
Jonz in My Bonz
Really
Love Another Life
Send It On
Spanish Joint
H.E.R.: Best Part
Nothing Even Matters (with H.E.R.)
The Root
Brown Sugar
Untitled (How Does It Feel)

Related: Unshaken – In Search Of D’Angelo

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Björk Shares Immersive Sonos Mix

Tune in now…

Björk has shared an immersive new Sonos Radio mix.

Sonos Radio opened in the first weeks of 2021, with the audio brand teaming with some fantastic musicians on the streaming endeavour.

Björk has constructed a rare mix for Sonos Radio, and it moves through some of her key influences – early 90s rave, cutting edge electronics, and an array of global styles.

Online now in full, it seemingly draws on files collected across two decades – because Björk has kept the same laptop for 21 years.

She comments…

“I am quite thrilled to have had a reason to go through 21 years of music-file collecting. Since my first laptop, I have been CD shopping, awkward cassette finding, vinyl searching in secret stores on my travels and gathered them all into a library of gorgeous wave-files. It was only a question of time before I would share them and then in yet another form: them clouds and streams.”

“A lot of my heart belongs there… unbelievable memories with friends, loved ones, DJ-ing in little bars, all sorts of occasions possible, in boats, cars, planes. Here is music for weddings, solitudes, dancing, friendly chess matches or hikes…I thank all the musicians who have saved my life repeatedly through the years and hope you enjoy this as much as I have.”

Check out the mix in full below.

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Crep Protect Launch Sneaker Service Space With adidas

At the new Dubai flagship…

A surprise arrival from Crep Protect, the world’s leading premium sneaker care brand who’ve been keeping our footwear box fresh despite plenty of muddy woodland walks this past year, comes in the form of an interactive collaboration with adidas. The new Sneaker Service space, located in adidas’ new Dubai flagship store, the first flagship in the region. 

Looking to transcend your traditional shopping experience, the Crep Protect x adidas Sneaker Service space offers a unique experience with fun barbershop style chairs and a sneaker drop off counter where customers can choose from a menu of cleaning services from a luxurious sneaker foam cleanse and refreshing insole steam  to an exclusive new Gold service with the most comprehensive sneaker clean yet with a team of Crep Protect Sneaker Technicians on hand to assist and share their footwear expertise.

 

The Sneaker Services space also offers specialty shorecare interactive workshops alongside product demonstrations and practical hints and tips to keep your footwear in tip-top shape for longer.Crep Protect have also made their renowned range of exclusive co-branded sneaker care products available exclusively at select Sneaker Service locations, including the Ultimate Rain & Stain Barrier, Cure Cleaning Kit, Travel-sized wipes and Mark On Pens.

 

Snapchat users in the region are invited to join in on the fun with the exclusive adidas DXB filter to take a virtual tour of the new adidas store and be the first to ‘visit’ the Crep Protect Sneaker Services space. 

 

“Crep Protect is proud to bring our customers in Dubai the exclusive new Sneaker Services space, as we continue to innovate the sneaker cleaning category with superior services and premium products.” says Antony Mussi, Director of International Sales & Global Licensing at Crep Protect.

 

Visit crepprotect.com

 

– – –

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Motive105 Drops ‘The Drive Downtown: Part One’

Carefully etched lyricism…

Motive105 is working with alacrity.

A true craftsman, his approach to art is fastidious and personal, someone whose soulful lyricism cuts deeper than most.

Moving in his own lane, Motive105 has dropped a short burst of one off tracks of late, building to a new two part project.

Online now, ‘The Drive Downtown: Part One’ kicks off a huge year for this multi-faceted artist, someone who sets the bar incredibly high.

Those standards are evident throughout, from the introspection of ‘Free-Dom’ to the blunt lyricism of ‘No Secrets’ via powerful closer ‘Kantu & Kali’.

He comments…

“I made ‘The Drive Downtown: Part One’ just before my first born arrived into this world, so in the process of growth I knew I had to let go of some demons in order to move forward. The project was an introduction to a life long commitment towards my love for music and the love surrounding me that enabled me as a creative to gift the world my story in confidence.”

“The intent behind this project was to be able to take a listener through several emotions on the spectrum, displaying how a confident brash young man can also be vulnerable in the right hands at any given time.”

A sign of his personal and aesthetic evolution, ‘The Drive Downtown: Part One’ finds Motive105 answering no one’s call but his own.

Tune in now.

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Deborah’s Child Shares Saucy Single ‘Word Problems’

It's a deliciously uncensored pop banger…

Deborah’s Child isn’t one to beat around the bush.

A project helmed by Florida-born alt-pop wonder Brooke Danaher, this is her sacred space, a lane where she can discuss anything she wants to.

So, expect thrills, spills, and deliciously uncensored pop bangers, one that leave nothing to the imagination.

Take new single ‘Word Problems’. Sure, it’s teasing on the surface, but beneath that she’s not holding anything back, leaving little to the imagination.

The chorus is deliciously infectious, while the lyrics touch on matters of the heart… and elsewhere.

As Deborah’s Child puts it: “It’s four letters long. It starts with ‘F.’ It ends with ‘uck!”

Deborah’s Child directs and stars in the video for ‘Word Problems’ – check it out below.

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Lucky Rose, Jason Walker Distill Optimism On New Song ‘Help’

Check it out now…

Lucky Rose and Jason Walker have shared their new team-up ‘Help’.

The song is about reaching out for help, and allowing yourself to open up in the process – a message we can all resonate with.

Out now, ‘Help’ is a buoyant, up-lifting slice of pop bedlam, with Lucky Rose and Jason Walker moving side by side in he studio.

Glossy post-Millennial pop that kicks hard when it reaches the chorus, ‘Help’ punches hard and leaves you with a delirious grin on your face.

The pair comment…

“The song’s about how everybody needs some help sometimes, could be from a friend or a lover or your family. Sometimes you feel like a weak person, but I don’t think so. When you need it, you should look for it and people will be happy to help you.”

Tune in now.

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Old Fashioned Lover Boy Shares Atmospheric Single ‘L.A.’

It's an evocative return…

Old Fashioned Lover Boy conjures visions of Californian summer on new single ‘L.A.’ – tune in now.

The songwriter’s work fuses halcyon synth sounds with personal revelation, matching faint traces of nostalgia with something incredibly new.

‘L.A.’ is the perfect encapsulation of this, with its hazy, twilight feel tapping into 80s cinema while also presenting a hard-won truth from his own life.

A rich, romantic return, the smooth R&B melodies – think Hall & Oates – are set against a feather-soft bed of synths.

Old Fashioned Lover Boy comments…

“There are places that evoke emotions capable of lingering for a long time. These are the places that become important, and their memory can save a relationship from crisis”, he explains. “It’s just a matter of remembering joyful moments spent there with the person you love.”

Tune in now.

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Roosevelt Guides Clash Through New Album ‘Polydans’

It's a dexterous demonstration of unlimited creativity…

Think you know Roosevelt? Well, think again.

The producer’s rise from left-field dance elements through to mainstream festival stages has been accompanied by a stellar live show, and an ability to fuse underground elements with a rare essence of openness.

New album ‘Polydans’ however flips all that on its head. Returning to the studio, it’s the broadest demonstration yet of Roosevelt’s production prowess, moving from techno to R&B via some hugely personal songwriting.

Out now, it’s a release the producer marks as “incredibly liberating” commenting that he felt free “to go to the studio every day and just do the music that feels right…”

“In this respect, ‘Polydans’ is my most personal album yet, as there hasn’t been any creative limitations – I just did what made me happy.”

Clash caught up with Roosevelt for this Track By Track guide.

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– – –

Easy Way Out

I love album intros that build and introduce new layers using instrumentation. We always play live intros that way as well – basically so that everyone can hear each instrument starting individually and is able to make adjustments to their monitor mix. I definitely had that in mind while I was writing ‘Easy Way Out’, it’s a very lively track that should set the tone for the sonic world of the record.

Strangers

I’m inspired by French electronic artists a lot – acts like Air, Daft Punk, Cassius and Sebastian Tellier all seem to have a very special delicacy in their sound. To me it’s the approach of making a dance floor track feel like a melancholic ballad at the same time. That’s something I can really relate to and what I tried with Strangers. It was also the first time I got to work with a real string quartet, which was super exciting.

Feels Right

‘Feels Right’ was a funk-inspired loop for a long time. I listened a lot to early 80s dance-punk while making the record – stuff like ESG, Liquid Liquid and A Certain Ratio, and the track built upon that sound aesthetic a lot. All the synth layers came in later. It became a really empowering song to me about doing your own thing. I tried to emphasise that DIY attitude in the music video that we did for it.

Closer To My Heart

I have a thing for 70’s Yacht Rock and always wanted to fully explore an instrumentation like that on one of my albums. It features acoustic guitars, a synth and (!) a guitar solo, so it really feels like a loose and fun arrangement to me – more like a band jamming rather than a conventional song structure.

Montjuic

That song started as a demo that I actually made on the mountain near the Olympic Village in Barcelona called Montjuic. My voice memo of that day was still called that so i kept the title as I really liked it. To me this track introduces the second half of the album, which is more synth-based, more electronic and definitely has more of a night-time vibe to it. 

Forget

This one started with a casio drum machine and the arpeggio bass line, and stayed like that for months. I didn’t know what to do with it, until I just jammed on the drums and some other synths and it came together really naturally. It’s the track I’m most excited about to play live as it has this gigantic drum drop in the middle of the track where everything builds towards.

See You Again

Producing this really felt like connecting to some of my first tracks like ‘Elliot’ or ‘Soleil’. I definitely used a few techniques that I did in the beginning, like recording and sampling guitar chords and playing them on a keyboard. I often catch myself trying to move away from the production habits that I had when I started out, but in the end these are so essential to my sound. With this album in general I tried to revisit these approaches.

Lovers

I finished ‘Lovers’ as the last track on this album, and it really came together easily – I felt like there were so many syncopated, funk inspired grooves on this record, that the one song that it still needed was a super simple and naive synth track. It’s a euphoric song about falling in love and getting lost in that feeling.

Echoes

One of the goals that I often have in the studio is to sound as much as a band as possible, and ‘Echoes’ is probably the best example. I really wanted to capture a live energy with this, especially in the second part of the track which to me feels like a resolution to the first half, both musically and lyrically.

Sign

It’s super interesting to me to write ballads disguises as dance floor track. With ‘Sign’ I really wanted to take that to the extreme. Although i wrote the song on the piano and it has these very longing and sad lyrics, I wanted to turn it into something that would work perfectly playing it in a peak-time festival slot. I think sharing a feeling like that with a large crowd can result in a very special and intimate moment.

– – –

‘Polydans’ is out now.

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Track Of The Day 26/2 – Aligo

'Elevate' (ft. Marie Dahlstrøm)

Aligo doesn’t sit in any one particular box.

A Canadian who has made deep connections in Norway’s creative communities, the rapper nods towards North American developments while obtaining a soulful sound of his own.

At times reminiscent of those early J Cole projects, his easy-going flow is packed with emotional resonance, while his choice of producers puts Aligo in his own lane.

Recent EP ‘4InARow’ is a stellar offering, and it leads into his hazy, intriguing new single ‘Elevate’.

Produced by J Warner, it leans on Aligo’s soulful influences, with a jazzy resonance to that elastic beat.

Marie Dahlstrøm guests on the track, offsetting Aligo’s punchy bars with her own soft-on-the-ear melodies.

He comments…

“I think if you see where I was going with this song then you’ll understand where I am as an artist currently and what my intention was for this EP. Down to each verse feeling like a crescendo of energy, to Marie’s silky melody over the hook and the powerful baseline that evokes emotion, it’s all elevating. I feel like I needed a way to let people know that it’s only up from here…”

Tune in now.

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First Aid Kit Announce New Leonard Cohen Tribute

'Who By Fire' was recorded at special concerts in 2017…

First Aid Kit will release new album ‘Who By Fire’ on March 26th.

The Swedish group grew up around Leonard Cohen’s music, and were left deeply saddened by his death.

Hosting two special evenings in March 2017 at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater, the band reinterpreted the Bard’s work.

Those evenings are captured on ‘Who By Fire’, a “theatrical staging” of Leonard Cohen’s songs, poems, and letters, alongside an eight person band, strings, two actors, and a huge choir.

Re-visiting the tapes, the resulting album lands on March 26th and it’s a salute to Cohen, while also acting as a creative statement in its own right.

“We recently listened back to this concert and realized that this was something out of the ordinary for us. It was a challenge to create a performance that wasn’t centered around First Aid Kit songs. It was something we’d never done before, but everything came together so well.”

“Dwelling deeply into Cohen’s world was a pleasure, he was so prolific as both a poet and a songwriter, and everything he ever put out held a very strong standard. He cared immensely for his work. The band, the guest artists, the atmosphere on stage… everyone had a great passion and it felt magical. This is definitely a record that is best enjoyed listening to back-to-back with no interruptions. Allow yourself to just disappear into Cohen’s world for a little while.”

A live version of ‘Suzanne’ drawn from the album is now online – check it out below.

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Damien McFly’s ‘Underneath My Skin’ Is An Indie Pop Mantra

Tune in now…

Italian indie pop artist Damian McFly returns with new single ‘Underneath My Skin’.

The songwriter seems to offer a form of escapism, melding together folk, pop, and elements of electronics into a dreamy whole.

Out now, new single ‘Underneath My Skin’ offers a gentle series of mantras, hewn from Damian’s own inner explorations.

All twinkling hooks and delicious melodies, there’s a retro-leaning feel that is smothered in the latest production innovation.

Discussing his motivations, Damian comments that ‘Underneath My Skin’ “is a song about being brave when it comes to what your heart is feeling. The line ‘feel the love underneath my skin…’ is a Mantra you’re telling to your inner self. Don’t be scared cause you’ll find the hope and the strength to love, even if that means to let someone go.”

Tune in now.

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KD Young Cocky’s ‘No Smoke’ Is A Potent Offering

It's about listening to your heart…

Chicago artist KD Young Cocky has shared new single ‘No Smoke’.

The songwriter’s creative potency has saw him enter the studio with bona fide icons, drawn into the orbit of prestigious labels such as Interscope and Def Jam.

But this talented artist needed to speak his truth. Brought up on the Southside of Chicago, he saw first-hand how violence and drugs can rip communities apart.

New single ‘No Smoke’ is part of this process of obtaining honesty, with the thumping 808s matched to some super-flick vocals.

Beneath this, though, it’s raw and powerful songwriting, packed with hard-won wisdom and personal lessons.

Tune in now.

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Hey, What’s Up With These Sub-Par Rap-Rock Projects?

Five examples of rap and rock not playing nice together, including Trippie Redd, Logic and Vic Mensa…

As Kanye West famously said, “rap is the new rock ‘n’ roll”.

Hip-hop has a long connection with rock music, stemming back to its first mainstream crossover being a meeting of Run-DMC and Aerosmith. Rappers have been taking the daunting plunge into the world of guitars more often in recent years; who could forget Lil Wayne’s 2010 ‘Rebirth’, which gave the world one of the most iconically disastrous guitar solos of all time? Kid Cudi’s ‘Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven’ and Eminem’s ‘Revival’ both represent pitifully low points in the respective artists’ careers, garnering notoriety for making rock records that were hard to sit through.

Even more recent than that, though, lies a new and larger generation of wannabe rock stars, including a fresh inductee just this month via Trippie Redd’s new deluxe reissue.

Let’s dig deeper into this new roster, this synagogue of shredding, who are all as godlike as a pizza-faced teenager playing Guitar Hero in their bedroom. Rock on…!

– – –

Trippie Redd & Travis Barker – ‘Neon Shark vs Pegasus’

Trippie Redd has threatened more rock-leaning songs on past projects, but ‘Neon Shark vs. Pegasus’ packs all that into one diabolical weapon of mass destruction. This is a deluxe re-release of his third studio album Pegasus, possibly as a cruel joke because the original album was such an indignant assault on the ears at times. He enlists Blink-182 member Travis Barker to lend some surprisingly decent rock instrumentals, even if they sound like they were picked off the shelves. Redd’s goofy vocals deserve a full recall, clipping the mic on the hook of ‘MEGLADON’, and rampaging through ‘FEMALE SHARK’, whose lyrics were seemingly scrawled in crayon.

Trippie even managed to drag Chino Moreno of Deftones on here, which went over as well as a whoopie cushion in a coffin, and for contrast, the only solo cut without even Travis Barker ‘DREAMER’ is a concussion of 808s and the shrillest of guitars. The music on here is perfectly represented by its album cover and title – a bad experiment made with too many E-numbers, left to be covered up by someone competent.

– – –

Machine Gun Kelly – ‘Tickets To My Downfall’

It should be a testament to Eminem’s power that he managed to kick Machine Gun Kelly out of an entire genre. After being grilled by Em in 2018, he came back and was ready to bring back the punk(!), in the process becoming that irritating guy that walks into a new culture and thinks he knows it better than anyone else. In December, the banished rapper had the absolute gumption to question pop-punk’s authenticity when he went on a podcast and became triggered by rock artists wearing “comfortable shoes” onstage.

To play devil’s advocate, he may well have been an avid, lifelong fan of this style. But no evidence of that shows itself in the drab, by-the-numbers pop-punk that stinks out ‘Tickets To My Downfall’. Take the track ‘Bloody Valentine’, which has nothing to do with the Loveless band and everything to do with shoddily-written Kerrang fodder that should have been left in the high school playground where it once thrived. If this rap-rock crossover felt any more like a business move, it would be called LinkedIn Park (yes, I’m far too proud of that pun).

– – –

 Logic – ‘Supermarket’

Hurriedly bolting away from bad pop-punk, we arrive at Logic’s attempt at indie rock. Supermarket is a grotty little tie-in to his undercooked novel of the same name, and the record displays the type of wince-worthy material characterised by a dogged determination to bring something so deep and revelatory, yet is so surface-level. It’s a clown-shoes farcical that takes the worst elements of pop-rock and ramps them up to the point of parody, the worst example being the tear-strained lyrics of ‘Pretty Young Girl’ that read like a Plain White T’s track.

Just like the other picks, the music here is so shallow and childlike, because this is “baby’s first rock album” for Logic, complete with Garageband-quality loops and a hideous insistence on turning every track into a trap beat. Supermarket is the sort of thing you make in the comfort of your own home, cringe at and leave on a hard drive tucked far away in the cupboards. Yet here are, staring at it in total bemusement.

– – –

G-Eazy – ‘Everything’s Strange Here’

‘Everything’s Strange Here’ was one of the sigh-lights of 2020, as California rapper and walking Brylcreem commercial G-Eazy raked indie rock through the soggiest of mud to create The xx for frat boys. In fairness, its title does entice with potential themes of disillusionment or bewilderment at the world around them. Unfortunately, the main emotion it riles up is embarrassment, and not for myself. Some moments on the album have to be seen to be believed, such as the prepubescent vocals on the oh-so-gracefully-titled ‘Free Porn Cheap Drugs’, or the simp anthem ‘Stan By Me’, which captures his devastation in realising his one true love has an OnlyFans account.

Plodding on with all the appeal of a corpse in a bathtub, Eazy makes an obligatory ‘Where Is My Mind?’ rip-off on ‘All The Things You’re Searching For’ – we get it, you’ve watched Fight Club. Yet this is not even the worst reference to a rock artist, as he later devises an utterly jaw-dropping cover of David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’. Handing even the most minute of streaming money to this record feels like taking part in a money-laundering scheme.

– – –

Vic Mensa – ’93Punx’

For anyone wanting to recycle more, Vic Mensa has provided a handy trash bag of foul-smelling punk-trap. After years spent brushing shoulders with the likes of Kanye West, Pharrell and Chance the Rapper, he’s now in a world of his own, determined to be Chicago’s belated answer to Rage Against the Machine. Results are, to put it generously, unconvincing; ‘United States Of Evil’ makes Yeezus sound like wedding music, and ‘numb’ is an ill-advised attempt to be sexy whose slapped bassline and sloppy lyrics sound like a crude, biker gang-themed porno soundtrack.

What’s worse is the mindset that plagues Mensa throughout. ’93Punx’ exudes this high-and-mighty attitude that rears its head on the snarky pot-shots throughout the lyric sheet. Mensa is so shameless here, he could be part of the Gallagher family, adamant in this narcissistic need to tell the world that he is “not someone to be messed with”. But when he comes through with toothless hooks like ‘Camp America’, it only becomes even more insufferable. That track is less of a song and more of a situation, as it includes one of the most infamous lines in his career: “Take your clothes off baby, let me see what you got / We can have a good time if you’re legal or not…”

If you are a rapper who wants to make rock music, please file a restraining order on these albums unless you want to make the world a worse place.

– – –

Words: Nathan Evans

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KAM-BU’s ‘Black On Black’ Is Simply Phenomenal

It's an incredible single from the South London artist…

South London artist KAM-BU reaches dizzying heights on new single ‘Black On Black’.

The MC seems to think outside the box, with his stunning, continually challenging flow seeming to swerve past obstacles other artists can’t even see.

Out now, ‘Black On Black’ feels like an emphatic statement, an inversion of the titular phrase – so often utilised for ‘Black On Black’ violence – to instead locate a kind of positivity.

It’s an exhortation of identity, with KAM-BU leaning in to community and heritage, while paying homage to Fela Kuti’s vision of a truly African music.

The dense, future-facing music finds Pablo Pullen, HYLNU and Tom Henry linking on sound design, with additional production from Leon Vynehall.

A truly exceptional piece of music, ‘Black On Black’ comes equipped with some equally arresting visuals.

KAM-BU comments…

“This track is an exploration of how the ‘Black on Black’ narrative, which is often perceived as negative, can be flipped on its head to represent black culture in a positive way.”

“Discussing topics such as the teaching of financial literacy, the circulation of wealth and unity within a community. This song was inspired by Fela Kuti and his use of repetition as a sort of sonic marching song on demonstration day, this is what I was aiming for when writing the chorus. ‘Black On Black’ is a track for empowerment, equality and reflection.”

Tune in now.

Photo Credit: YOUT

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Premiere: Cujo Moon’s ‘Watch You Shine’ Is A Breakthrough

His new EP 'Bridges II' is out shortly…

Nashville based songwriter Cujo Moon digs into the craft on new single ‘Watch You Shine’.

Raised in Kentucky, he’s found his way to America’s Music City, a place where country, soul, pop, and the blues all intermingle.

His new EP ‘Bridges II’ doffs its Stetson hat towards the classics, while also allowing Cujo Moon to find a singular pathway through.

The work of a true songsmith, new single ‘Watch You Shine’ finds Cujo Moon revelling in the craft.

A song about grief and loss, there’s a lingering beauty amid the darkness.

He comments… “Being the first Cujo Moon song that I produced, this track really inspired the sound and direction for the songs that followed. The lyrics were inspired by a TV show where a father is estranged from his son due to years of drug use.”

“The song sat in my voice memos for months before I felt moved to produce it. Unfortunately, a super talented and long-time student of mine committed suicide at the age of 14, that December. It was a tragic event for everyone close to the family and I was completely torn up. Shortly after, I recorded this song as a sort of catharsis. I’d like to dedicate it to his family, in loving memory of Jaden.”

Tune in now.

Cujo Moon · Watch You Shine

‘Bridges II’ is out soon – order it HERE.

Photo Credit: Rae Mercedes

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Blondie Partner With Z2 Comics For New Graphic Novel

It'll be out in Autumn…

Blondie will release a brand new graphic novel later this year.

The book is named Against The Odds and finds the New York icons working alongside Z2 Comics.

Due for release in Autumn, it will incorporate references to some of their most iconic tracks, alongside a few deep cuts.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti pen the tome, following their lauded work on DC Comics character Harley Quinn.

It’s set to be a busy year for Blondie, who are also set to collate their work in Cuba back in 2019 for short film and soundtrack project ‘BLONDIE: VIVIR EN LA HABANA’.

Alongside archive endeavour ‘BLONDIE 1974-1982: Against The Odds’ the band are also working on fresh material, with producer John Congleton set to chair their 12th album.

Order Blondie’s graphic novel Against The Odds HERE.

Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.

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Ghetts Drops Epic Fire In The Booth

As he continues his chart race…

Ghetts has dropped an epic new Fire In The Booth.

The UK rap legend has appeared twice before on the freestyle series, but this is truly one for the ages.

With his album ‘Conflict Of Interest’ locked in a chart battle with Mogwai, he’s upped the ante, shooting a seven minute clip in Dubai.

Featuring unheard material, it underlines his stellar abilities as an MC – truly, one of the best to ever do it.

As if that’s not enough, he spent yesterday (February 24th) driving around London in actual tank.

Check out his new Fire In The Booth below.

Photo Credit: Adama Jalloh

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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – L.W.

Wild alchemy from the Aussie rockers…

Further to the release of recent single ‘Pleura’, the ebullient Australian rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have released ‘L.W.’ – the band’s seventeenth album and perhaps one of their most intriguing musical collections to date.

Recorded remotely during lockdown last year, this barnstorming album continues the journey where its predecessor K.G left off. It also finely showcases their use of microtonal tuning, which was first seen on with their 2017 album ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’.

Think crunchy guitars, crashing cymbals, and high-octane energy that will set the stage alight when played live. ‘If Not Now, Then When?’ kicks off proceedings fusing huge crunching riffs straight from the 80s with a total funk fest that is reminiscent of Tame Impala.

If you are expecting to rock out, then you will be disappointed. Influenced by the likes of AC/DC, The Doors and Black Sabbath, their recently released track ‘Pleura’ has a slightly Middle Eastern vibe to with the use of a bağlama, a Turkish stringed instrument which is interwoven with hypnotic drum beats and stirring guitars.

‘Static Electricity’ continues the same theme with an intoxicating rhythm which builds and builds. Another standout track is ‘Ataraxia’, a throbbing lo fi delight with a catch sing-along chorus and scintillating synth beats, this is a track that will be stuck in your head long after the record finishes. In a recent interview, guitarist Joey Walker stated when appraising L.W that “part of me thinks it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. And part of me thinks it’s the worst.”

We will leave it to you to make a judgement call, but this is an impressive and well-rounded collection of work from the hard-working Australians.

8/10

Words: Emma Harrison

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Paul Weller Announces New Album ‘Fat Pop (Volume 1)’

It's out on May 14th…

Paul Weller will release new album ‘Fat Pop (Volume 1)’ on May 14th.

The songwriter released his album ‘On Sunset’ last year, another accomplished about-turn from the British legend.

With the pandemic erasing his touring commitments, Paul Weller instead knuckled down and worked on new material.

New album ‘Fat Pop (Volume 1)’ is the result – there’s the possibility of a second volume in the future, and it’s a compendium of styles, in which no one sound dominates.

‘Still Glides The Dream’ is a Steve Craddock co-write, while ‘Cosmic Fringes’ dips into synths; ‘Moving Canvas’ is said to be a tribute to Iggy Pop, while ‘Failed, True and Shades of Blue’ deals with pop symphonies.

Guests include Paul’s daughter Leah Weller, while Hannah Peel contributes on arrangements.

‘Fat Pop (Volume 1)’ will be released on May 14th. Tracklisting:

COSMIC FRINGES
TRUE
FAT POP
SHADE OF BLUE
GLAD TIMES
COBWEB / CONNECTIONS
TESTIFY
THAT PLEASURE FAILED
MOVING CANVAS
IN BETTER TIMES
STILL GLIDES THE STREAM

Photo Credit: Sandra Vijandi

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UNKLE’s James Lavelle Remixes Japanese Television

'Falling Spikes' gets re-worked…

UNKLE’s James Lavelle has stepped in to remix Japanese Television.

The band’s single ‘Falling Spikes’ became a breakout moment in 2020, enjoying strong 6Music support and winning the group fresh fans.

Taking their psychedelic noir to a fresh level, ‘Falling Spikes’ has now been re-worked by a seminal electronic producer.

UNKLE figure James Lavelle taps into his psychedelic roots, exploring the band’s sound by taking it apart brick by brick.

“During lockdown we thought it would be cool to create a remix project with artists we admire. We love collaborating. It’s exciting to have them reimagine our tracks,” say Japanese Television.

The results are certainly a re-imagining – in the hands of James Lavelle, ‘Falling Spikes’ becomes this immersive experience, all billowing textures and surf-rock guitars.

The band add: “James is a living legend and as big fans it’s an honour to have him remix…”

Tune in now.

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