Saturday, 31 December 2011

The History Of Apple Pie - Mallory

Despite having one of the dumbest band names ever, The History of Apple Pie have seen their star gradually rising since touring with American indie favourites The Drums and being tipped for 2012 by almost everyone. Playing the brand of scuzzy indie guitar music which has propelled Yuck to cult success this year, the band make hazy soundscapes with drawn out vocals which are reminiscent of warm nights and ‘Mallory’ doesn’t change a thing. Starting with a guitar solo that could have easily been mistaken from something off the Yuck album; it leads into female vocalist Stephanie Min crooning ‘Mallory’ for the majority of the song. And this is the problem with The History of Apple Pie. They sound exactly like Yuck but with female vocals. So while they manage to sound bored and exciting at the same time they aren’t breaking a new ground. Maybe it’s just the bands bad timing in releasing their first singles so soon after Yuck have hit the limelight, but unfortunately for The History of Apple Pie it feels a bit been there, heard that.

By Jessy Parker

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The most poignant and awaited release in film of 2011 has finally arrived. Dripping in an atmospheric gloss, littered with shifty sinister beings and lacking in manners, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo unapologetically shoves anything that might be in its way. Although preconceptions may be that the film has a prickly disposition, its characters prove that above the thorns lies a beautiful rose, in the shape of Salander and Blomkvist’s relationship. It’s hard to put a finger upon what makes their relationship so captivating but it’s interesting how their roles change throughout their emotional journey together. At the start, Salander is reluctant to comply with anything and Blomkvist allows Salander to command him, confounded by the hold she has on him. Although, at the end, Salander warms towards him and it’s clear that she’s learned to love, as she throws the jacket she bought for him into the trash and leaves without hesitance on her motorbike when she sees Blomkvist hand in hand with Erika Berger in the last minute of the film.

The author of the Millennium trilogy, Stieg Larsson, was the Editor-in-Chief of Expo which poses the question as to how fictional Blomkvist really is, especially surrounding the sudden and unexpected death of Larsson soon after he had completed the trilogy. Larsson may not be alive to see his literary vision come to life, not once but twice, but this Hollywood version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo does the book justice and doesn’t skip out any of the gory details. There has been some dispute as to whether this version was needed, as the Swedish version was only released in 2009. With the lack of attention paid to these films and the iconic role of this cult phenomenon, it was down to David Fincher to be mindful of not only the book, but the previous film. When hearing the name ‘David Fincher’ mentioned in conjunction with any film, there’s no doubt that many would purely flock to the cinema for his legendary directorial work, only a year after the huge success of his last film, The Social Network.

Many have commented that this is a return to where Fincher belongs, in the realms of blood stained dystopia and out of the pretentious head of Mark Zuckerberg, as David Fincher has now eternally portrayed him. Further than the intriguing parameters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander’s heart warming relationship, there are more heart chilling topics that run throughout the film. Domestic abuse, rape and murder all feature heavily as the Vanger family and the two protagonists follow each other extremely closely. On the opening page of Part One in the novel, it states ‘18% of the women in Sweden have at one time been threatened by a man’. Rape and domestic abuse are often avoided by those who have suffered and have had people they know suffer so for a film to be so honest, it’s shocking to read about and even harder to watch.

Most women who are raped often react by hiding, letting the rapist get into their mind and take over their life as they find it difficult to express the agony to those closest to them or even admit to themselves. Lisbeth Salander is not most women. Instead of letting her deranged guardian Bjurman get away with his crime, she tasers him, makes him watch the tape she filmed of him raping her and tattoos ‘I am a rapist pig’ onto his bulging stomach. Even from this alone, it’s easy to judge that Lisbeth is a feminist as she is preventing any women after her from being lured into Bjurman’s sadistic home, whether it be without consent or otherwise. Although she is highly unaware of being remotely feminist, Salander does showcase some feminist ideas and her eyes light up as she suddenly pays attention to Blomkvist’s proposal when he announces ‘I want you to help me catch a killer a women’.

 Her confusing sexual status is a representation of modern sexuality in that she is not specifically ‘bisexual’ but she enjoys the company of both men and women. It’s clear that throughout the film, those who she meets already have these preconceptions about her from the way she dresses; her leather jacket that crinkles with every other move, her jet black jagged hair and her boyish physique. As a top researcher for Milton Security, she goes against expectations with her unappropriate attire as everyone watches her as she strides through the office to meet Dirch Frode. Everyone pays attention to her because she’s not like anyone else involved and Rooney Mara captures this character perfectly as Salander stays unaware of how interesting she is and never realises the power she has, as if she has never even looked in the mirror to see what everyone else sees.

An 18 slot was always going to inevitable for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo but that shouldn’t deter and as Daniel Craig has said, ‘It’s a proper adult thriller… for adults’. With expectations of many difficult points in the book being portrayed in a cloudy gauze, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo delivers these uncomfortable points with the potency of a glass of scotch and delivers clarity throughout. As gripping and tense to watch as reading the book itself, Fincher has created yet another masterpiece that is strangely cathartic.  

By Aurora Mitchell

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sound Influx: Tracks of 2011 - 30-11

30. Friends - I'm His Girl

29. Metronomy - Everything Goes My Way

28. Cold Cave - The Great Pan Is Dead

27. Kindness - Cyan

26. Bon Iver - Holocene

25. The Death Set - Can You See Straight?
24. The Throne - Murder To Excellence

23. Das Racist - Girl

22. Gross Magic - Sweetest Touch

21. Slow Club - Two Cousins

20. Yuck - Operation

19. Austra - The Beat and the Pulse

18. Patrick Wolf - The City

17. Summer Camp - I Want You

16. Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX - NY Is Killing Me

15. St. Vincent - Cruel

14. Death Grips - Guillotine 

13. Girls - Vomit

12. Battles - Futura

11. Wild Beasts - Bed Of Nails

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sleigh Bells - Born To Lose

2012 sees the return of noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells, coming after a seemingly unexpected wave of hype surrounding the duo in early 2010 which led to them becoming the aspiring hipster's party music of choice. Somewhat surprisingly, unlike many bands who return to make their 'difficult second album' Sleigh Bells' sound has not changed in the slightest.

In fact new track 'Born to Lose' is so similar to previous work, it's hard to believe it's a new track at all. The beat has the drive of 'Tell Em', Alexis' cooing backed with her lessened rebellious war cries point essentially to a rehashed 'Riot Rhythm'. While once Sleigh Bells brought something new and invigorating to the table, now they sound slightly out of ideas. M.I.A.'s most loved prodigies have allowed themselves to become moulded, presumably so the same people who loved them in 2010 don't wander astray. It all smells a bit of Sleigh Bells trying to cling to the zeitgeist that popularised them, failing to recognise that these sort of songs have been done already, albeit by themselves on 'Treats'.

On the upside it's at least got a bit of drive and excitement behind it, and will have the large majority looking forward to the Valentines day release of new album 'Reign of Terror'. But let's hope when that day comes, Sleigh Bells don't just reproduce their debut record for the sake of past acclaim.

By Toby McCarron

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Stay+ - Dandelion (feat. Psychologist)

Stay+ have a very definite sound, it’s pulsing synth that fades away with some breathy and echo-laden vocals over the top. Dandelion carries this sound for 40 seconds and then it drops. Not of the shitty bass variety, but the sudden inclusion of a clanging beat that recalls the bolder moments of Burial’s Untrue. Psychologist’s vocals, whilst still retaining the characteristic airy quality, have some definite heft behind them which imbues the whole thing with a sense of euphoria rather than the hysteric paranoia of former singles Fever and Stay+. It would appear that the Artists Formerly Known As Christian Aids have gone and done a banger and while it isn’t a radical change, the alterations they have made are all good indicators that they ready to properly embrace this pop malarkey.

By Ned Powley

Bleeding Knees Club - Teenage Girls

Aussie punks Bleeding Knees Club aren’t doing much different from a lot of other bands and in many ways their unoriginality makes them likeable. Music isn’t always about reinventing the wheel and besides this band are a cross between The Beach Boys and The Ramones, accurately covering the tricky topic of girls and feelings, which is hardly a bad thing. ‘Teenage Girls’ is a blink and you’ll miss it 2 minute corker and the perfect song to make you wish you were on the beach in the middle of summer (kind of a shame it’s winter right now). Beginning with a tantalising guitar solo, it dives in immediately with lead singer Alex Wall’s almost nasal vocals taking centre stage and it doesn’t look back. Touted as the next Wavves, Bleeding Knees Club are definitely ones to watch next year.

By Jessy Parker

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Honourable mentions (i.e Amazing albums that didn't make our year end list)

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Girls' third record is quite simply, a masterpiece. 

Das Racist - Relax

Rap's senior parodists returned with a more produced record,  and luckily the joke is still funny.

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

This is an easy choice as even on the basis of Midnight City alone, Anthony Gonzales created one of the most hauntingly catchy records this year.

The Death Set - Michel Poiccard

Michel Poiccard is a boiling pot of coffee to the face kind of record.

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Annie Clark fully unleashed her talents on third studio album Strange Mercy, also the most airtight concept album of 2011. 

Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde

 2011 was when Smith westerns cleared away the lo-fi haze on their glam rock ditties, and produced a sublime album as equally indebted to Suede as it was to Bolan.

Austra - Feel It Break

Canada's more radio friendly answer to Zola Jesus produced the dark pop album of the year.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

The only record that came out of the blue for me this year and it turned out to be the best discovery this year, with this lo-fi 60s funk influenced record from Ruban Nielson.

Washed Out - Within and Without

The sexy artwork for Within and Without has become one of the most iconic pieces of artwork this year and Ernest Greene accompanies it with the most honest and emotional record chillwave will probably ever get.

Tom Vek - Leisure Seizure

Tom Vek took a bloody long time making this record but Leisure Seizure is worth the wait full of Vek's alluring monotone voice and plenty of futuristic hooks. 

Active Child - You Are All I See

You Are All I See drips in atmospheric beauty but it would never be the same record without Pat Grossi's ethereal falsetto. 

Cold Cave - Cherish The Light Years

The cover for Cherish The Light Years is Wesley Eisold in drag and that pretty much encompasses the weird and wonderful music that is inside.

Katy B - On A Mission

2011's underground superstar Katy B brought her 'mash-and-merge of the underground sound' to the mainstream masses and still managed to keep it credible enough to cater to every audience. 

Let's Wrestle - Nursing Home

One of the most charming and humour filled records this year from a great new talent.

Neon Indian - Era Extrana

A polarised record from Alan Palomo with equally measures of joyous bopworthy music and dark electronic sludge. 

Teeth - Whatever

Brilliant trash electro that's as bratty as a trust fund kid. Not for the faint-hearted. 

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

As much as anyone may deny it, this is a dark, European techno influenced, anthemic record from Lady Gaga that is nowhere near as bad as its album artwork.

Toro Y Moi- Underneath The Pine

Chaz Bundick's second record is a funk odyssey, and a long way from playing up to the 'chillwave' tag any further. 

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

Regarded by many of one of the hip-hop records of the year, shabazz palaces rip rap's rule book in the most disturbing yet enthralling manner.

The Throne - Watch The Throne

'Watch The Throne' seems like a paranoid statement from Kanye West & Jay Z because they're still the kings of rap.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Sound Influx - Albums of 2011: Part 2 10 - 1


This debut by masked producer Aaron Jerome was dance music’s adrenaline shot in 2011. On it, is a variety of treats spanning many contrasting yet compelling ways of looking at music. There’s soulful crooning by Sampha on ‘Hold On’ and ‘Never Never’, warped forays into contemporary dubstep and Drum ‘N’ Bass influence on ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Sanctuary’ and even a straight up house banger ‘Pharaohs’. For a record that could easily have been a messy shambles, SBTRKT is lean, focused and incredibly precise in his production, and most importantly is engaging and often danceable from start to finish. By Toby McCarron

9. Friendly Fires - Pala

I don’t know about you but I’d say friendly fires where without a doubt the band that sound-tracked my summer. ‘Hawaiian Air’ in particular – which filled the air with some much needed summer spirit, we usually crave all year round. The album as a whole when released was nothing but refreshing and fun to say the least. Pala features vibrant dance tracks with Friendly Fires’ indie take on neon pop, particularly on songs like ‘Hurting’ and ‘Blue Cassette’. And to top it off lead singer Ed Macfarlane’s dancing over the festival session gave the band some extra gold stars from the crowds. But yes they may love a bit of cow bell; however Pala has been a huge stepping stone for the band as they re-emerged with a new colourful side. By Ailsa Morris
8. Fucked Up! - David Comes To Life

David Comes to Life manages the rare feat of being at once a ridiculously plotted rock opera about industrial sabotage and lost love in a northern mining town in the late 70’s and also one of the most shamelessly fists-aloft, life embracing albums ever made. It’s a testament to Fucked Up’s knowledge of working the hard graft that they could undertake a project so enormous in scale without losing an ounce of credibility. Not only did this result in the creation of a record 78(!) minutes in length but also an album of songs recorded by the band in the guise of numerous bands dwelling in the fictional town that the action is centred around. Throughout it’s 18 tracks, the album loses none of it’s velocity or power. The decision to drop The Other Shoe, a powerhouse that builds from a lone female voice to a crescendo of noise so overpoweringly wondrous that the listener is forced to simple relinquish their grip and embrace the totality of it, only fourth in the tracklisting shows the band had no fear about the unbridled energy that drips from every corner of the album. By Ned Powley

7. Slow Club - Paradise

Paradise is 11 perfectly crafted pop songs with pounding pianos, boy girl harmonies, dance inducing drum beats and the occasional saxophone solo. Sad lyrics about broken families, lovers that are hard to forget and the fact that "no-one really is a mystery" are accompanied by Rebecca’s dreamy voice to create something truly magical. Songs like "Two Cousins" and "Where I’m Waking" have the power to make you get up and dance. That not your thing? Well songs like "Earth, Air and Ash" could make you break down in tears. On paper "Paradise" sounds like there’s too much going on but it works so well and successfully pulls at the heartstrings whilst making you tap your feet. Slow Club proved everyone wrong with Paradise and shed themselves of their "twee" label. Paradise is Slow Club. By Eden Young

6. Yuck - Yuck

Mixing a typically indie sound with both grunge and pop, Yuck are a band like few others. Born out of the demise of Cajun Dance Party and adding a few members in, Yuck have formed a tight ship and created an album that’s slowly proved itself over time as one of the best crafted of the year. From the blissful heartbreak of Georgia to the painfully beautiful Rubber via the statement of intent that is Get Away, it’s an album that goes down well with a drink in the summer and at the same time doesn’t feel too out of place when it’s snowing due to the full sound of that guitar noise. Let’s hope that they stick around a little longer than their previous suggests and we might just have a genuine indie contender on our hands. By Braden Fletcher

5. Wu Lyf - Go Tell Fire To The Mountain

Shrouded in mystery, WU LYF ’s approach to being "more than just a band" has been copied many times. The difference being that WU LYF, and only a couple of others, have managed to back it up with exciting music. Go Tell Fire to the Mountain may have been overshadowed by some of the bigger releases of the year, but it should never ever be overlooked, especially considering its brilliance throughout. The incendiary howl of opener "L Y F" and the gang rebellion of "We Bros" flow seamlessly to the adolescent revolution of "Dirt" and the sonic explosion of closer "Heavy Pop". Go Tell Fire to the Mountain contains blistering melodies, an abundance of references to fire and crowns, and choruses that should be shouted from rooftops. This is an album that has made music exciting again. By Calum Stephen
4. Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Back in 2006, Justin Vernon secluded himself in a cabin in Wisconsin, in an attempt to "hibernate". Three months in solitude had created For Emma, Forever Ago, beauty and anguish shown in every song. Five years later, Bon Iver was released, and Justin Vernon seemed like a new man. From the opening 30 seconds of "Perth", its as if Bon Iver would pick up where For Emma…’ left off. But a military drum beat foreshadows what sounds like war, a frantic closing to the albums opening track, one of many highlights. Vernons ability to write gorgeous vocal melodies is shown best in "Holocene" and "Michicant", both are breathtaking from start to finish. On the albums closer "Beth/Rest" Vernon cites Bruce Hornsby as a major influence, the track containing 80s synthesizers and saxophones. Bon Iver is a magnificent album, one that can be listened to countless times until Justin Vernons next release, which is an incredibly promising thought. By Calum Stephen

3. Battles - Gloss Drop
 After the departure of Tyondai Braxton from Battles, the first version of their second album had been scrapped as the newly trio went back to the drawing board and produced Gloss Drop, one of the most outside-of-the-box records this year. Featuring Kazu Makino, Gary Numan, Yamantaka Eye and Matias Aguayo, they’ve taken a similar approach to bands like Gorillaz who featured several prolific artists on Plastic Beach. Although without these collaborations, Konopka, Stanier and Williams each portray their musical idiosyncrasies with ease and that’s what makes Gloss Drop, as well as Battles, so loveable. Peppered with glitch, electronica and the obvious experimental instrumental elements, Gloss Drop manages to captivate throughout. Especially on ‘Futura’, showcasing an looping synth and Stanier’s beastly drumming skills that tide you over for just over 6 minutes without any sign of vocals and instead of the usual constant anxious waiting that often accompanies listening to an instrumental track, for the first time; you stop waiting and just enjoy the song. The experimental trio have proved that they’re so much more than ‘Atlas’, and for many people who were looking for the same of old, the album no doubt disappointed. By Aurora Mitchell
2. Wild Beasts - Smother

As Wild Beasts’ career has progressed, they’ve become even more grandiose and overly confusing to some. Although, to others, myself included, their crazily genius concepts and excessive naturalistic metaphors are endearing and make their music close to an art form. Smother embodies the concept of the word ‘smother’ and the two interpretations of which they decided to form the album around, the literal smothering, like that of a pillow and the kind of smothering you get from a feeling. The former inspired the artwork, designed by Matthew Cooper and Jason Evans, as it depicts different coloured feathers merging together and this theme has continued onto all of the singles taken from Smother. Thorpe’s crooning falsetto resonates throughout the album and surrounds itself like a warm bath around the smoothly flowing instrumental. Thorpe’s vocals are delivered precariously as if he’s over thinking the meaning, which reflects the lamented nature of the lyrics that feature on the album. Full of off-beat percussion, woozy synth loops and repeated guitar riffs, Smother is the perfect start point to get into Wild Beasts and a natural continuation from Two Dancers for already adoring fans. By Aurora Mitchell

1. Metronomy - The English Riviera

And so, our album of the year is the third album that shocked and delighted so many in 2011 from Devon resident/electronic visionary Joe Mount’s band Metronomy. Where second album Nights Out dealt in melodies in abundance and youthful energy, The English Riviera is sophisticated and grown up and a truly stunning listening experience created by Mount’s love of his upbringing on the Devon Coast. The best thing about the album is that there isn’t a single weak moment. There’s the trademark bouncy indie-pop Metronomy became known for on secret hit of the summer "The Look" and the exceptionally ludicrous yaucht-rock romp "The Bay". Yet there’s also the tender quirky love songs such the sultry "Loving Arm" and the boy/girl heart-warming tale of young love "Everything Goes My Way". Metronomy matured without losing their spirit, something many young bands right now can hope to aspire to, but good luck reaching this standard. By Toby Mccarron

Perfume Genius - All Waters

 Perfume Genius, the moniker of Seattle’s Mike Hadreas, was often photographed shirtless, revealing bruises on his frail body. This was a motif that fitted perfectly with his music and his fragile voice on debut LP ‘Learning’, an album overflowing with honesty and heartbreak. However, a recent photo of Hadreas shows him wearing red lipstick and a hoodie with the message "Don’t Be A Pussy" scrawled on it. Could this mean a drastic change in character and sound on new record ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’?

From the opening bars of taster track "All Waters", it’s clear that Perfume Genius has not changed, but he has developed. The subject matter on ‘Learning’, true stories about a suicidal teacher on one track and a 10-year-old murderer on another, was often whispered by Hadreas, as if he was telling you his darkest secrets. Whereas Hadreas believes the subject matter on "All Waters" deserves to be broadcasted, the inspiration being Hadreas’ hesitation to hold his boyfriend’s hand in public, something that "fucking infuriates" him. The music has changed too, bold synths and distant guitar howls replace the chiming piano loops from ‘Learning’, giving the song a more commanding sound.

Hadreas’ voice sounds stronger than before, it sounded like he was on the verge of tears for most of ‘Learning’, but it reflects the strong person he has become. If "All Waters" is anything to go by, then the curiously titled ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ should be another beautiful album by a sublime talent.

By Calum Stephen

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tommy Reilly - Interview

There’s no denying Tommy Reilly won over everyone’s heart with his catchy indie pop song writing, and his cheeky chappy personality in Channel 4’s Unsigned-Act back on 2009. However after a year or two in hiding working on his new album, due for release early next year, I couldn’t help but jump at the chance to catch up with him on one of his intimate tour dates, up in Scotland this month. And I seemed to have picked the best venue to meet up with him – with a ball pit in the middle of his dressing room and a couple of footballs kicking around: some fun games were on the cards before the gig. Priceless!

So firstly; It’s been well over a year now since the release of the last album, "Hello, My name’s Tommy Reilly". What have you been up to since then, working on the next one?
Well yeah, I’ve made another one, in the summer. But I didn’t really want to put it out this year. Just because when I got round to thinking about it Christmas was coming up, plus I didn’t really fancy doing it this year, so I’m gonna do it early next year.

So the new material you have been working on. How does it differ from the last, have you been influenced by any bands you have been listening to? 

Well it’s a bit different, because on this one I got lots of friends in to play on it. The second one was just me and one other guy; me and Roddy Hart. And on the first one it was kinda the same, just myself and Bernard Butler. But on the third one I wanted to get a band together, so I got a couple of guys from a band Admiral Fallow, and my friend Gordon from Frightened Rabbit came, and played a little bit. So there was about four of us, and Paul Savage. So it was kinda nice to have a band, and you know they did a lot. It was nice. And I have chilled out; I guess I was a bit of a control freak on the first one, but on this one I was like, ehh people can do what they want. And when you’ve got people you trust and you like what you do it’s more relaxed. I think I’m the most happy with this one – because I have let people do what they want.

Obviously you won Channel 4’s Unsigned Act back in 09. If you hadn’t won the show do you think you would have carried on with music or?

Yeah, I mean I guess the whole thing was just to try and get more gigs, and I was kinda at a time when I was getting gigs which were good ones but just at home. But I wasn’t getting to play any where else, and I like travelling around, and this one was in London. So the interview came up, and there was an ordination, so I thought maybe I’d get a gig in London if I went. But I think I’d still be playing yeah.

In the show Hip Parade came 2nd, with Scarlet Harlots coming 3rd. Do you keep in contact with any of the bands or Judges such as Alex James?

Yeah I spoke to Rob recently from Hip Parade; well he’s sort of my mate’s cousin so we used to see them before the show, so I speak to those guys now and again. But Scarlet Harlots not so much. But it was cool, made some good mates at the time and it was fun, but I guess everyone’s busy doing gigs and stuff now. 

You were part of a talent show I guess, but what do you think of other "talent" shows such as X Factor?

I love watching them. I think they are really funny. I think some of them are good entertainment, but I guess it’s a problem in some ways. The only reason I considered doing Unsigned act I suppose was because it had to be your own songs. And whether it was me performing or writing a song for someone else, all I ever wanted to do was write my own songs. And that’s something I’m really interested in at the moment, is trying to write songs for other people. I’d love to hear somebody with a different voice performing them. So with that show I did it because it had to be original. I think there’s a problem though these shows, because there are so many people coming out and they can’t all be successful. And so it’s a shame, it’s not nice. 

Where's one of the weirdest places you’ve heard one of your tracks?
Oh well in a casino. One of my mates, I guess he was in a casino and heard it. And one of them was on a jukebox in a pub once. So that was weird. And they put it on for a laugh. But it was weird when "Gimme a Call" first went into the charts, and hearing it on the radio on the chart run down. Had all the mates round for a beer listening to it. Just really weird. Kings of Leon then me! I mean I have not really had a hit like that since, but that was a weird one off.

What can we expect next then Tommy. Any festivals maybe?

Maybe yeah. Guess I wasn’t really playing this year because I was recording. But we did Alex James’s harvest festival, which was a lot of fun, and a couple of wee things; like Home Game up in Fife. But next year, yeah hopefully some gigs. But I do want to counter that with this new interest in writing for others, and I’m gonna spend some time on that. 

Ok so one last question! When I told some guys I was interviewing you, they all wanted to know if you really don’t like coffee? (Originated from Tommy’s hit, "I don’t like coffee")

I don’t, no. It’s kinda all hot drinks really. It’s a weird thing though. No hot drinks. Not even tea or hot chocolate. Just hot drinks – not into it. I’m weird!

By Ailsa Morris

Sound Influx - Albums of 2011 Part 1: 20 - 11

20. Summer Camp - Welcome To Condale

For two people who started off anonymously and claimed to be a group of Swedish teenagers, Summer Camp have come a long way. After releasing their debut EP Young late last year, the internet went berserk for comparing the band to 80s teenage movies and similar popular culture references. Who could blame them with song titles like ‘Veronica Sawyer’ and ‘Jake Ryan’ that directly reference cult films Heathers and Sixteen Candles. Welcome To Condale sees the duo ease up slightly on references and brings forth a concept album based on the fictional place of Condale, based in America and you guessed it, its set in the 80s. Elizabeth Sankey sings about getting rid of whoever it is she’s singing about for a large part of the album and there’s a fiery independence in Sankey as she’s not afraid to voice her true opinions. As with any couple who happen to form a band, there’s a song that showcases both of their musical talents and makes you audibly ‘aw’ and that happens to be ‘Losing My Mind’. Despite singing about leaving the other and not loving someone anymore, Sankey and Warmsley manage to sound like they’re talking about being loved up and in general, it’s hard to not to fall for the charms of a girl/boy duo. For an album that focuses on the comedown of relationships and unrequited love, Welcome To Condale remains to be incredulously catchy and hard to ignore. By Aurora Mitchell

19. The Weeknd - House Of Balloons / Thursday

Sleazy, heartfelt, heartbroken and euphoric; The Weeknd’s recorded output thus far has been a myriad web of clashing styles and grand ambitions. Abel Tesfaye’s damaged slow jams became a word of mouth sensation and provided the platform from which he could preach his bad-vibes sermons. Veering from heartbroken to creepy in the space of one track like on the claustrophobically intense "What You Need" or crooning terrifying come-ons over a fucked-up carnival waltz on "Life of The Party", Tesfaye taps into the stereotypical male hip-hop mindset and gets busy messing it right up. The albums (they’re referred to as mixtapes, but it’s obvious from the quality of the material that these are fully fledged albums) can be seen as hugely evocative mood pieces, two slow burning beasts that invite casual enjoyment and reward repeated listening. But they also exist as reminders that the boundaries between hip-hop, dubstep and mainstream pop can be blurred with relative ease, and that when they are, the results are simply gorgeous. By Ned Powley

18. Iceage - New Brigade

Punk is a genre easily abused. Its lack of grace can be used as a mask by artists without vision or talent, who see it as a shortcut through the complexities of functioning as a band in this day and age. Iceage are, from the outset, punk as fuck. Their debut lasts a breathless 24 minutes in length, previous live shows have seen frontman Elias Bender Ronnenfelt taking every precaution to cause maximum damage to both himself and every audience member present and they publish a fanzine, titled "Dog Meat". All of this could be seen a smoke screen. A diversion to draw people’s ears as far away as possible from the only thing that really matters: the songs. So thank the lord that Iceage can bring them on an unparalleled level. There have been punk bands before them and there will be punk bands long after they’ve gone, but Iceage have got something special. Maybe it’s meant to last or maybe it’ll all disappear in a pool of beer and a puff of off-brand fag smoke, but right now, they’re the most exciting young bastards on the planet. By Ned Powley

17. Johnny Foreigner - Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything

It’s difficult for me to summarise an album that is 17 tracks long and amazing from start to finish. Johnny Foreigner have proved that you can do quantity and quality in equal measure and execute something incredible. It’s been thrown around that it’s the album to "make them or break them" and if this album does not make them, then nothing will. From the heart breaking sounds "new street, you can take it" to the shout along lyrics of "if i’m the most famous boy you’ve fucked, then honey yr in trouble" this album has proved to be a masterpiece and it cannot be faulted. If you’ve never listened to Johnny Foreigner before, then there’s no doubt about it that "Johnny Foreigner vs Everything" will make you fall in love with one of the most dedicated, fan loving bands in the world. By Julia Christmas

16. Suuns - Zeroes QC

In an age where lines between genres are becoming increasingly blurred, it’s becoming more and more difficult for artists to well and truly break new ground. Trawling through the thousands of new bands out there making the same kind of lo-fi boring shoegaze influenced music often leads to nothing but apathy and the general feeling of wanting to smash your face into your keyboard. Imagine my elation then when I discovered Suuns, a Canadian band who make the kind of music that you daren’t put in a box. There’s no doubting that Suuns are peculiar, and are by no means an instant band for many. ‘Zeroes QC’ however is a collection of songs so broad in sound yet so distinctive it’s impossible not to get sucked into it. There’s the borderline incomprehensible mumbles on tracks like ‘Up past the nursery’ and ‘Arena’ that sounds like Clinic stuck in a washing machine. There’s mutated synth noise blasts like ‘Armed In Peace’ and ‘Pie IX’ the latter sounding exactly like what David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time should have, unpredictable, haunting and very very weird. And if that wasn’t diverse enough there are furious math rock guitar anthems like ‘Maurader’ and ‘Gaze’ to quicken the pulse, and even a choice cover of lost Marc Bolan relic ‘Organ Blues’. A truly astounding album, from one of the most promising and perhaps overlooked bands around. By Toby McCarron

15. James Blake - James Blake

Whilst it appears likely that dubstep, a genre that felt like it could genuinely go in any direction and even reshape the face of pop as we know it, has been sabotaged by dreadlocked frat-boy cretins intent on creating music of such bludgeoning stupidity that even nu-metal bastards Korn have adopted it. James Blake’s debut appears to be one of the final reminders we’ll have of this era, so thank god it’s a thing of tremendous beauty. From the atmospheric overload of ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ through to jerky ballads like ‘To Care (Like You)’, Blake showcased technical proficiency and heart in equal measure, crafting an album that defied genre conventions whilst testing the very limits of pop. Treasure it, because we sure aren’t going to see a record like it for a very long time. By Ned Powley

14. Drake - Take Care

 In 2011, Drake returned to the scene with second album ‘Take Care’ and within moments of opening track 'Over My Dead Body', you knew he meant business. Lyrically, Drake has upped his game with the majority of the album centred around a past love that he's tried to replace by getting with many other women. Classy Drake. However, amongst the seedy bravado, a very personal and intimate side of the Toronto rapper comes out. This, coupled with production duties being mainly left to Noah "40" Shebib, brings out the best of the ex-child actor and helps the album one of the standout rap albums of the year. Stand out tracks include the Jamie xx produced title track and 'Marvin's Room', Drake's answer to the drunken phone call. However, with "bitches" and "niggers" still in heavy use, it's not the perfect album for the indie section to wilfully sing along to. By Robbie Baxendale

13. Florence & The Machine - Ceremonials

Florence + the Machine seemed to go from the darling of the UK indie scene to sensational superstar taking America by storm overnight. So it was understandable that fans might have been worried that Florence would go all commerical on us with her second album, Ceremonials. But we needn't have. Ceremonials is one of the most grandiose records you will have heard all year, complete with gospel choirs, strings and of course harps. Despite all this, it is still undeniably Florence, proving that she still has one of the biggest voices in the entire industry while at the same time writing songs which connect emotionally. It's more mature than Lungs, but no less brilliant. By Jessy Parker

12. Arctic Monkeys - Suck It & See

After the controversial release of ‘Humbug,’ it left fans and critics alike wondering where on earth Arctic Monkeys’ sound could go to next. Would they retreat back to the recording studio, tail between their legs, minds clouded with nostalgia and longing for the days when they wrote about pubs, clubs, girls covered in sticky fake tan, and scummy men? Two years later, they return from The States adorning leather trousers, enough hair grease to fry breakfast with and an album even more different than their first than the last. You can hardly deny that in true Arctic style they "stick to the guns, don't care if it's marketing suicide, won't crack or compromise…", with riddling lyrics, Helder’s relentless drumming and proof that all those cigarettes have only made Alex’s voice more alluring, ‘Suck it and See’ is a testament to good old fashioned rock and roll and an indisputable musical highlight of 2011. By Bella Roach

11. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia

In 2011 the ever-evolving Patrick Wolf returned with his fifth, triumphant album, concentrating on love at first sight and showcased what a powerful and uplifting emotion love can be. However he never loses the quirks that mark him out from the mess of bland, autotuned rubbish out there. First, there's the voice, then there's the stellar songwriting, and then of course the multitude of instruments that appear on the record. This album is his most emotion filled and cohesive offering to date, and fully deserving of a place on this list. By Holly Read-Challen