Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Iggy And The Stooges - Ready To Die

Iggy Pop has become something of an easy target in recent years. His ventures, both featuring on Ke$ha's latest album and his stint as an insurance salesman left a stale taste in the mouth akin to the morning after a night at CBGB's. It should be remembered however that Iggy Pop is a performer, a lava lamp of a man clad in very little, diving on glass, vomiting behind amp stacks and walking on the hands of his audience. That's the Iggy this review will focus on, there will be no talk of 'raisin-faced warbling' or 'dinosaur rock', this is a review of another album by a very important band. 

As good as they are, The Stooges are often forced into the back seat of their own vehicle by putting Jimmy Osterburg Jr up front. As a fan since I heard the opening riff of Search & Destroy it is something of a treat to review their latest work. 

Ready To Die represents the second comeback album for The Stooges, and the first since the departure of guitarist Ron Asheton for the great gig in the sky, and it is a pinball machine pull back and release nod to everything that has come before and since. They seem to have constructed an album which will be safe in the legacy of the band. There's no risk, it sounds how a Stooges album should sound forty years on. There are moments of acoustic clarity mixed into the throttle and groan of what could become live favourites. Opening track 'Burn' drops like an Acme safe, and features the potent combination of fuzzy riffs and Iggy's signature croon. This is brilliantly followed by 'Sex And Money', a saxophone heavy blues number courtesy of Steve Mackay, which has a near Stones faculty to it. It's good to see Iggy's priority on song titles hasn't changed. The backing female adds something to the expected wall of sound The Stooges build, it's another aspect, another string to the bow but still sounds like they did on Fun House. 'Job' represents the final piece in the trilogy which opens the album before it changes tact. "I got a job, I got a job, I got a job but it don't pay shit" Iggy sings, leaving the listener wondering which of his enterprises the lyrics refer to. 

'Gun' sounds as though it could have been written by or for Lou Reed, there's a sustain to the chorus vocal which could have come straight from Transformer, but the solo it gives out to is straight Stooges. 'Unfriendly World' represents the first of three acoustic tracks on the album, something the band are not known for pulling off. It sounds a little Tom Waits but in a complimentary way. This is twinned with the last two tracks; 'Beat That Guy' and 'The Departed'.
Ready To Die hasn't pulled out all of the tricks at this halfway point though. The title track and 'Dd's' are an absolute treat. It could be assumed the latter was about erstwhile punk pal Dee Dee Ramone, but the chorus of "I'm on my knees for those double D's" reveals the true intentions. It's a tad self indulgent and a little Spinal Tap but if Iggy & The Stooges don't craft these songs, who will?

Ultimately, Ready To Die is a triumph. It recalls the glory days, doesn't dwell on them but shows why so many artists around today owe them so much. The Stooges are a band who deserve to be respected, not just for daring to make the albums they did, but for continuing to do so, and carrying it through with such aplomb.


Paul Schiernecker

Monday, 29 April 2013

Braids - Amends

With Katie Lee leaving for the equally dazzling Port St. Willow, and Raph focusing on crafting the excellent 'Untogether' record under Blue Hawaii earlier this year, it was difficult to see which direction Braids might delve into. 

Having established themselves as exciting figures in the Canadian art-pop scene back in 2011 with the mini album 'Native Speaker', it would appear that Braids have morphed into something altogether more atmospheric and grand. Work with Blue Hawaii has clearly carried over and colours the bands a new tint, with the electronic stutters in the vocals, and the sense of stillness conjured in both the instrumental and Raph's now less emotive delivery.

'Amends' builds on the foundations of sprawling experimental pop songs that Braids have done so well before, with the incorporation of a more electronic angle and a whole new array of musical experiences for the band members, and it's by all means, great.

Braids' new album is set for release this Autumn on Arbutus Records. 

Toby McCarron

Thursday, 25 April 2013

RSD Competition: Pulp / Soulwax - After You

Unless you've been under a rock for the last few weeks, you'll know that it was Record Store Day on Saturday and we were out in force across the nation. Some of our writers hit up the best shops in the country including Pie & Vinyl, Spillers, Crash, Jumbo, Banquet, Sister Ray's, Rough Trade and many more. It's safe to say Sound Influx was present at Record Store Day.

Half of our editorial team hit up UK Organisers Rough Trade East from the very early hours of the morning and not only did we pick ourselves up a bag-load or three of incredible records for ourselves; we thought of you too!

So it is with our great delight that we come to you with the following giveaway:
PULP - AFTER YOU 12" featuring Soulwax remix. Exclusive Record Store Day 2013 Release.

And if you're about, we'll also throw in a pair of tickets to our Birthday Party with Death at Sea, Yearbook and Luke Godwin at the Tooting Tram and Social on Monday May 13th.

So what do you have to do to win?
Like us on Facebook and write on our wall with the name of your favourite Pulp track. It's that simple.

The winner will be selected at random on Thursday 2nd May at 6pm which means you have a week and a week only to get all your friends to help you win.

Good luck.

(If you win, we'll either post the record out to you or meet up with you in London at a time of both our conveniences. We promise not to tell any other companies that you like Pulp and Soulwax; because y'know, that's the exact material they want for marketing right?)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

Despite the much-discussed and really pretty terrifying artwork, the lasting impression of ‘Mosquito’ is actually a subdued, introspective album, which is perhaps surprising given the loud, bombastic nature of some of the songs on it. Opener ‘Sacrilege’, the first song to be released from the album, is a sexy, ballsy track, with a hugely catchy hook and a gospel choir. A proper YYYs anthem. Then there’s ‘Area 52’ which is a Stooges-influenced tribute to space, and aliens, and that kind of thing. ‘I wanna be an alien’ snarls Karen O over fuzzy guitars. ‘Mosquito’ is another loud one, with the screamed hook ‘They’ll suck your blood!’
Despite these tracks, the album still feels a little understated. This doesn’t mean the other songs lack interest, in fact, it may be that the (for want of a better word) quieter songs are the ones that stand out the most due to their beauty, with touching lyrics and O’s tender vocals. ‘Subway’ is a beautiful song, a sad tale of lost love crooned over a sample of a rattling subway car. ‘Always’ is a synth drenched delight, again quieter than one might expect from this album, based on its opener.

The slow build-up and almost New Order feel of ‘Despair’, a strangely uplifting ode to, well, despair, make it a definite highlight of the album. This is mirrored by the brooding build-up of the closing track, ‘Wedding Song’, with its moody bass and echoing piano. The guitar on ‘Wedding Song ’are strangely reminiscent of Noah and The Whale’s ‘The First Days of Spring’ and the mood of the track seems, at first to mirror the mood of that album. However the lyrics tell a different tale of devotion and never-ending love. It’s a pretty beautiful track to end the album with.

‘These Paths’ is another more chilled song, with almost house inspired elements. This is another impression of the album, a band experimenting with different sounds. The experimentations, although subtle, are present with the aforementioned ‘These Paths’ dabbling with house inspiration. Or the dub-reggae influence ‘Under The Earth’, with its reverberating vocals. ‘Buried Alive’ is also bit of a surprise, with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem producing and ‘Dr. Octagon’ aka Kool Keith providing a rap. It’s a pleasant surprise though, with Karen O’s drawled vocals and a guitar riff from Nick Zinner that can’t seem to remind me of anything other than The Smith’s ‘What She Said’.

With ‘Mosquito’, Karen O proves once again that she has one of the best voices in the whole of rock. Thanks to her obvious passion, she can go from tender to powerful to screeching with amazing agility and always, always sound amazing. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are finally back with a record which might not instantly grab you (other than ‘Sacrilege’, how can a huge gospel choir not grab you?!), but after a few listens, it may start to grow on you. And so it should, it’s fantastic.


Holly Read-Challen

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Phoenix - Bankrupt!

For those smart enough to have jumped on the Phoenix bandwagon already Bankrupt! has been a long time coming. It represents the fifth album for the band, and their first release in four years. For those fans concerned about the prospect of a more experimental offering emerging from the flames of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix you can feel safe in the knowledge the Versailles four-piece haven’t swayed too far from the beaten track.

Starting out with Entertainment which sounds like the child of Turning Japanese by The Vapors and True Love (For Now) by Spector, the album was entirely worth the wait, and exceeds expectation. Each track is pure and definite. S.O.S. In Bel Air shapes the vibe of the album. While there appears to be a lot more focus on electronica and synth there is still the influence of lead guitar pinning most of the tracks down. Lyrically it also sets the tone for further tracks like Bourgeois and Oblique City.

Trying To Be Cool is one of their most obvious and poppy tracks to date. It has an almost Motown rhythm and bass line, covered in a fuzz of 80’s synth. Title track Bankrupt! deserves the exclamation mark and sits as a good central point for the album, the Love Like A Sunset of the new record.

Drakkar Noir is crafted to dance to, it has the catchiest of choruses and the phaser guitar up against the brilliance of the keys. It should carry across as a firm favourite at festival season, given as Phoenix are already confirmed for Coachella and Rock am Ring. It closes with a distorted ice cream van like tone which leads into the next track Chloroform.

Closing track Oblique City is a highlight which is a hard thing to achieve on an album so good. It features a brilliant flow lyrically and the undercurrent of piano taps make you wish it could keep on going. The closing Eagles-like guitar picking is a touch of genius and a beautiful way to fade out.

There is every chance this could be the album which pushes Phoenix out to more ears than ever before and in doing so may mean they are lost forever to those who have held the secret so close to their chests for so long. Only time will tell.


Paul Schiernecker

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sound Influx's Birthday Party

In just over a month, we will be two years old as a blog. We've only properly existed for just over a year in our current format and we've only been a dot com for a matter of months but nonetheless, we're going to be the ripe old age of two years old in May.

To celebrate, we'll be putting on our first proper show. We've collaborated in the past and we've put Yukon on the tube but this; this is our first proper show.
On Monday May 13th, we'll be taking over the Tram & Social in Tooting, South London for an evening of live music from some of our favourite up and coming acts and if you follow us on Twitter or Facebook you'll already be aware of who these acts are. Incase you're not part of our social media following however, here are the details.

Headlining will be the brilliant Death at Sea and they'll be supported by Yearbook and Luke Godwin. All three acts are acts we're tipping for the future and as an introduction, why not listen to them all below?

So do we have a poster and tickets? Of course we do! Sam Hopper (who also helps with our sessions) has designed us a SoundInPugs poster and tickets are just £3 from our BigCartel!


We look forward to seeing you there
Braden - Live Editor

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Spring Breakers - Review

The opening few minutes sets the tone really; dubstep roars as beer floods over heads, writhing torsos, bared breasts and middle fingers that wag and taunt at the camera. This is “Spring Breakers”, a shocking pink tsunami of nihilism from director Harmony Korine that attempts to tackle a contested, deeply western topic; “YOLO” culture and the spray tanned pursuit of happiness through sex, drink, drugs and money. Its neon soaked portrait of debauchery is so excessive that it makes for queasy yet transfixing experience; not dissimilar to a horror film.

Former Disney teen queens Selena Gomez (as Faith) and Vanessa Hudgens (Candy), along with Ashley Benson (Brit) and Rachel Korine (Cotty),star as bored college students at a nondescript school smoking weed, hanging out, sometimes reading and even attending classes. Over a series of dreamy, elliptical scenes that slide from night to day and back, it emerges that the four friends want to escape for spring break but just don’t have the money. While Faith prays on her problems the other three opt for a more psychotic approach: armed with squirt guns and a lady-sized sledgehammer, they go full-on GTA and rob a local fast food restaurant.

From here the girls join an invading army of “Spring Breakers” that swarm every inch of sand, surf and hotel. This tanned, white-trash, white-teethed caricatures of American youth (think MTV’s “Jersey Shore” on mass) spill onto balconies and into pools, laughing and yelling as they drink, snort, dance, grind and thrash. They’re monstrous, enthralling and repellent; western sleaze personified.

A plot finally kicks in when Alien a hustler/rapper/whigga, played by an unrecognizable James Franco, takes an interest in the girls. Wearing grillz and long cornrows, Franco manages to make the character simultaneously cartoonish and stupid yet grounded. For the four girls he becomes something of a slimy Prince Charming, leading them further down the rabbit hole of nihilism and violence.

Unfortunately, for everything the film gets right it seems to get something wrong. Visually the film is often mesmerising with splashes of gorgeous, gaudy color and other interesting touches, like bright pink balaclavas decorated with unicorns, which give the film a unique sense of style and attitude. However the party scenes and constant barrage of crotch shots and bare breasts manage to just seem unappealing and sometimes laughable, but perhaps that’s the point.

Another interesting touch the surreal bends in the narrative and presentation, adding brief flash-forwards and flashbacks that make it seem as if the story were incessantly 
swaying back and forth. Gestures, lines of dialogue and emotional moments are repeated in a desolate, dream-like fashion. However, while sometimes used effectively, this effect often slows the film down to almost a snail’s pace, especially in the quieter less visually impressive moments, where the director seems far too interested in laborious montage than moving to the next plot point.

“Spring Breakers” looks different depending on how you hold it up to the light. From one angle it comes across as a vicious social commentary that jumps from one idea to another - the American dream, racial stereotypes and the search for one’s self- without properly stitching these ideas together. From another it is questionable that the film is even being critical or satirical, the lack of any clear point or moment of epiphany sometimes makes it seem as though Korine is actually just erotising and selling sleaze for commercial gain. Or perhaps his commentary just comes more from a place of morbid fascination than criticism.

Ultimately though, “Spring Breakers” is simply an interesting yet incredibly flawed movie; one that see-saws between stylish satire and awkward soft-core porn, art-house and commercial too often and too poorly to be taken as an entirely enjoyable whole.

Isaac Christian

Monday, 8 April 2013

March 2013: Albums Summary

Better late than never (8th April, sorry!), here's our monthly summary of albums.

Check out what March had to offer:


Nai Harvest - Whatever (8/10)
The Strokes - Comedown Machine (6/10)

Kavinsky - Outrun (8/10)
Wavves - Afraid Of Heights (5/10)
Phosphorescent - Muchacho (8/10)

Album of the month 

Daughter - If You Leave (8.5/10)

"Daughter have gone from creating music focused on pain, to creating music that encapsulates pain and acts as medicine. Some may call it depressing, I’d argue they’ve not listened hard enough." Braden Fletcher 

The Rest

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (8/10)

What was pencilled in as a return to form, quickly escalated to discussion of a reinvention of the pop album. Although the 20/20 experience is certainly an 'experience', a revelation it isn't. Timberlake's most ambitious effort to date just falls short of iconic, with most songs pressuring the 9 minute mark, it's hard to fault Justin for the concept behind the music showcased and the drive to create something as culturally resonant as his previous two records. Exquisitely crafted pop gems permeate and delight throughout (even if most of them last 2 or 3 minutes too long) with Timberlake's trademark tongue in cheek lyricisms not extending too far from the expected (sex, love, a rather naive foray into drug metaphors on Pusher Love Girl so aloof it's largely hilarious.) Timberland's production is on point with the tried and tested beat-box style instrumentals only sounding a tad dated, and the strength of the choruses Timberlake delivers on the likes of Don't Hold The Wall and Mirrors are amongst the most memorable of his career. Not ground-breaking, but a lot of fun and a refreshing revival of a male pop-star who isn't completely loathsome and punchable. Toby McCarron

Peace - In Love (7/10)

When Peace first broke through with their glorious EP last year; it was already apparent to many that to keep up a level of quality across a full length record would be a feat in itself. Not phased with this level of pressure, the Birmingham group released Wraith and featured the hugely infectious Lovesick on the record. Whilst at times you feel like the album lacks in the cutting edge (ie. Waste of Paint through to Sugarstone), the re-workings of Follow Baby and album closer California Daze more than make up for it. Definitely one to catch this summer, if you can fit in the tent. Braden Fletcher

Chvrches - Recover (7/10)

If you were to write a brief history of Chvrches it would probably run something like this: Glaswegian indie band members decide they’re sick of selling three records to guys with beards and decide to do something shamelessly commercial. Actually, this summary is slightly unfair - vocalist Lauren Mayberry was keyboardist and co-vocalist in Blue Sky Archives, whilst Martin Doherty was a live member of miserable post-punks The Twilight Sad - but it’s true that as musical projects go Chvrches have attracted a hell of a lot more attention than these past ventures ever did for their shiny but slightly fussy electro-pop.

Channelling early eighties new wave group OMD lead single ‘Recover’ is a huge sounding tune, led by pulsating synths and Mayberry’s elfin vocals which bring to mind Emily Haines of Metric. Even if it doesn’t quite match up to the excellent ‘The Mother We Share’ single that the trio released last year it’s an electro pop anthem in the mould of Passion Pit’s ‘Sleepyhead’. If anything it’s actually improved by the remix courtesy of Cid Rim that closes this four-track EP when, unshackled from the need to appeal to both rock and dance crowds, some of Chvrches’ restraint is stripped away and it’s transformed into a full on dance floor workout.

Martin Doherty takes centre stage for the first time on ‘ZVVL’, a relatively lightweight track redeemed by its startling lyrics, ‘a flash of blood’, that draw your gaze away from the discotheque and down some darker pathways. Though their USP is bounding, keyboard-led pop, darker strains of electronic music both old (Depeche Mode) and new (The Knife) have played their role in shaping Chvrches so it’s interesting to see the trio explore some murkier corners. ‘There is so much I want to tell you’ croons Lauren on ‘Now is Not the Time’. For Chvrches the world is listening with open ears. Max Sefton

Bastille - Bad Blood (6/10)

When a pop act breaks through with the dedication that Bastille have, you have to admire it. The likes of Flaws push through to the almost anthemic sounds of Pompeii and its from this point onwards that you have to give appreciation to a a record that; whilst half full of tracks that will never light up the world will most definitely be part of most people’s summers. It may be cheesy and in parts it may not be the most musically adept; it also lacks in complete consistency but it’s the border of indie and pop that Dan Smith crosses that makes Bad Blood an enjoyable listen if one that won’t make it past the Autumn. Braden Fletcher

Wavves - Afraid Of Heights

Two years on from his third record ‘King of the Beach’, ‘Afraid of Heights’ finds Wavves’ Nathan Williams adjusting himself to life after chillwave, the short-lived music scene for which he and his girlfriend, Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast briefly became a sort-of lo-fi Sid and Nancy.
Unlike Bethany and Bob Bruno’s own sophomore record, he seems to have realised that singing about being stoned all the time quickly goes past its sell-by-date, whilst the presence of John Hill (MIA, Santigold) behind the mixing desk appears to be sign that Wavves are shooting for a wider audience here than on previous outings. Hill’s impact is immediately tangible on the bright and crunchy guitar sound of ‘That’s On Me’ and ‘Sail to the Sun’ which rock the same emo power-pop vibe as Weezer or Brand New but too often Williams is guilty of backsliding into territory he’s covered better before.

The main barrier to a more mature audience though is Williams himself: self-pitying song titles like ‘Beat Me Up’ and ‘Everything is My Fault’ indicate a songwriter who struggles to leave teenage angst behind, yet lacks the wit to eloquently deconstruct the situations in which he finds himself. Rivers Cuomo has many flaws but he’s always been good at finding a universal metaphor for his inner turmoil; Williams seems content to blame others or stew in his own juices.

With ‘Afraid of Heights’ he’s bought into a calculated aesthetic - an album that sounds like it’s being played on shit speakers even when it’s not and one on which latching onto a particular phrase and repeating it over and over is enough to elicit memories of endless summer days. Unfortunately when the phrase is ‘I Don’t Know’ you’re not even sure what Williams is rebelling against. ‘Whaddya got?’ snarled Marlon Brando; Williams is more likely to shrug and spark up another joint. That’s a shame because for a committed stoner he has a way with peppy, energetic tunes that cut straight to the chorus in a Ramones-hit-the-beach manner - ‘Demon to Lean On’ sounds like Nirvana might have done if Kurt Cobain had fully embraced his bubblegum side, whilst ‘Mystic’s fuzzy vocal and handclap percussion would sit perfectly happily on ‘King of the Beach’.Four albums in, Wavves may be the voice of a stoned and drifting young America but they’ve never found a voice of their own.


Max Sefton

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Flaming Lips - The Terror

There are very few bands who can handle the trip in the way Flaming Lips can. They don’t seem to have ever come back in fact. The Terror represents the thirteenth studio release for the band and it is just as heavy-lidded and encapsulating as anything they have released before. If anything the album is too ambient, it isn’t until the fourth track on the album that any kind of fathomable tune is identified. Up until then it feels like a lull before the big drop into the album. That song is You Lust. For a nine track album that’s a pretty wild gesture to make, even by Flaming Lips standard. The problem is the overworking of reverberation. Each track sounds as though it is being heard while dangling from a helicopter.

The Terror is a notable step away from the joyous celebration of their recent releases. Frontman Wayne Coyne has stated it is a much bleaker album, which may explain the absence of an obvious single. He described it as concerning the fear the world continues without the idea of love. The title track follows You Lust and springs a wide range of electronica. If possible The Flaming Lips have made a more experimental album than what they appeared to be settling into, an impressive feat for a band celebrating their thirtieth anniversary.

You Are Alone ambles like a nightmare Pink Floyd may have had. There is a clear feeling on desolation on the album and it’s a hard thing to break through and enjoy in any capacity when entirely sober. Butterfly (How Long It Takes To Die) is a similarly bleak track, almost attempting to be dance in places, but being pegged down by a change in stark chords.
Turning Violent almost has a repeatable lyric to its chorus but beyond that is another blunt soundscape. While everything on the album sounds rich and complex, it isn’t easy listening by any degree, but when have The Flaming Lips ever been easy to listen to. It takes a certain person and a certain state of mind to enjoy. I’m sure they will be present and correct when it comes to festival season and when it comes to their sensational stage props and hi-jynx the new songs won’t fail to disappoint but as a purely aural experience it falls slightly short of the high tide mark they previously hit.


Paul Schiernecker 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Rachael Kilgour - Interview

Rachael Kilgour is a political singer-songwriter from the icy cold shores of Duluth, Minnesota. Focusing on both the personal and the political she’s released a new EP entitled ‘Whistleblower’s Manifesto: Songs for a New Revolution’ that is so excellent that we’ll forgive her for using comic sans on her official website. Willing to play everywhere from barns to coffee houses, she’s criss-crossed America penning snapshots of hope and deprivation with sharp, topical lyrics and shared the stage with folk luminaries such as Greg Brown. Recently she spoke to Sound Influx about growing up in the cold, money-grabbing labels and loving both Woody Guthrie and M.I.A.

From Bob Dylan through to Low and Charlie Parr, Duluth, MN seems to do pretty well music-wise. Do you have any idea why that might be?
Um...no! Not exactly. We seem to have a lot of opportunities for everyone, no matter what your style or ability level and I think that's a pretty great model. Out of that many artists and that many venues, you're bound to find some amazing talent. Or maybe surviving a freezing cold Duluth winter helps spark the creative mind. Or maybe we're just lucky.

‘Whistleblower’s Manifesto: Songs for a New Revolution’ is a pretty provocative title. What does revolution mean to you? And do you think artists have a duty to address political events?

I believe our society is due for some drastic change - change led by the people. We could do better in many areas - our foreign policies, the racism, sexism and homophobia that are still rampant today, and my own personal favorite, the unequal distribution of wealth. Our economy is not functional in a way that benefits the majority of our society. I think it is disgraceful that a handful of people hold most of our wealth, and the rest of us haven't banded together to demand something different yet. My song "In America" specifically addresses this issue: "the bottom few could be privileged too, if they'd buckle down and try." I'm so sick of this idea that we are all responsible for ourselves - that a person should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and make a life for themselves. It is simply not true. Sure, there is a certain amount of ambition that person needs, but in many regards, are paths in life are predetermined. I don't think the way our system works today is sustainable and I'm fairly certain that we will experience some sort of collapse eventually, and maybe that will lead to real change.

To your second question, yes, art is an incredibly powerful way to address political and social issues. But not everyone is called to make art about it. For some people (including myself at times) art is deeply personal and it is hard to sing about anything broader than your own personal life. I totally respect that. On the other hand, I think we tend to be a nation of narcissists and sometimes it's a good thing to push yourself to think about and write about things beyond your own personal experiences.

What are your favourite political songs and why?

I grew up listening to a lot of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and the political music of the 60's and 70's and I liked all of it. Some of my favorite songs are by Malvina Reynolds - "Little Boxes" and "We Hate to See Them Go" are two ridiculously awesome songs. In "We Hate to See Them Go" she imagines an America where the "gentleman of distinction" sign up for the army and go off to war. Here's a verse:

"The bankers and the diplomats are going in the army, It seemed a shame to keep them from the wars they love to plan. We're all of us contented that they'll fight a dandy war, They don't need propaganda, they know what they're fighting for. They'll march away with dignity and in the best of form, And we'll just keep the laddies here to keep the lassies warm"

I also really like the songs "Banks of Marble" by Pete Seeger. The verses highlight some of the low-paying, hard-labor jobs that left (and still leave) families struggling, and then finishes with the chorus:

"But the banks are made of marble With a guard at every door And the vaults are made of silver That the workers sweated for"

As for recent work - I think M.I.A. has some incredible messaging and I also really like Nellie Mckay and Ani Difranco.

Why do you think that the political left has better music?

Because we are right of course. The political left has, for a good long time, been primarily focused on the struggles of the underdog. That's just plain and simple WAY MORE inspirational. Save the rain forest, equal rights for women, government services for the poor, freedom to marry for everyone, stop killing people in pointless wars, end racism... I think our consciences are tied to the issues quite strongly and that leads to some impassioned music. Plus, I think we've just relied on that avenue of expression for a longer time so we're better at it.

According to your Facebook page you’ve chosen not to sign to a record label. Why was this? And do you think record labels, which are out to make a profit, can ever adequately produce political material?

You nailed it. I am definitely open to working with a label, but I haven't yet found one that is in line with my ethics. I would never agree to compromise my beliefs in order to make it as an artist. Clearly I am not out for profit, as evidenced by my sad little bank accounts. I think there are a handful of labels out there that might be a good fit for me in the future, and I'm grateful for the good work they're doing.

Your wife sings harmony vocals for you. Was it fate or good luck that your voices happen to go together so well?

Not sure how to answer this one. I guess both? I do love singing with Adeline. We've navigated a long road of collaboration for the last seven years and it's had its ups and downs. Of course working with your spouse is a challenge for anyone, but the thing at its core - the singing - has always been wonderful. When we first met we started out singing old covers like Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan on our dates. It was very sweet. Adeline overcame some pretty severe stage-fright to back me up. She's the best harmony vocalist I've ever worked with. She can come up with a harmony part the second she hears a song for the first time. I think it is superbly attractive.

From your press material I was expecting more of a singer-songwriter approach so I was surprised to find you had a full-band. How did your backing group come together? And are you thinking about what the whole group might be doing when you write a song?

Actually, I do a lot of performing solo. The full band is fantastic, and I play with them as much as possible, but it usually only works out for bigger shows and for recording. I always work with Jeremy and Jake Hanson. They are extremely talented brothers out of Minneapolis and they are wanted by everyone and their mothers - which makes it hard to nail them down for a show. Jeremy plays drums in the band Tapes N' Tapes and Jake is the guitarist for Halloween Alaska and Mason Jennings and they both play for Haley Bonar among many other groups. I don't think a bit about what Jake and Jeremy will add to a song - they are so good they rarely need my feedback. My writing self is a simple, solo singer-songwriter. I usually play a new song for Jake and Jeremy and then they'll throw a handful of options out for me and I'll pick my favourite.

Are there plans for a full length album?
Not quite yet. I think full length albums may be on their way out. I guess I haven't decided where to go next with it, but I'll keep you updated.

Is there a concept that ties your songs together?

I guess most of them, particularly the songs on this EP, are meant to inspire people to be their best selves. I go at it differently in each song - sometimes it's a snotty satire and sometimes it's an appeal to listeners' emotions. Mostly I want people to think when they hear my songs, and think hard.

If you could change one thing about modern day America what would it be?

That we would put our financial resources into eradicating poverty instead of into war. And on a personal level, that individuals would think less of themselves and more of what they can do for their neighbours.

Max Sefton