It’s that time of year – the sun’s peekin’ its way past the outer fluff of the clouds, and pale-faced indie boys are thinking about takin’ off their tops. They won’t, of course – we’re too shy for that. Festival-wise, there is but one event that truly whets the insatiable appetite of the indie boy: All Tomorrow’s Parties.
Of course, indie girls attend, too – where would the weirdie beardies be without the fairer sex to coax them into occasionally trimming their facial fuzz? This spring sees ATP spread itself broadly across two weekends: May 12-14 and May 19-22. The powers that be are calling this The United Sounds of ATP. During the first weekend, the regular Camber Sands site will be overrun by curators Mudhoney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Devendra Banhart. P’haps you’ve heard o’ these bands; they are, after all, A Big Deal in such left-of-centre (but only just) circles. Each has handpicked a selection of artists to perform, and here DiS profiles five per day, to give you a wee insight into what to expect prior to the event itself.
May 12 – Mudhoney Day
Mudhoney (11.30pm, upstairs stage)
It’s fairly impossible not to sing the praises of one of rock music’s most enduring and affecting bands. Together in some form or other for almost twenty years, Seattle’s Mudhoney are absolute veterans compared to most acts appearing about them. Although each member is now comfortably residing in his middle-age, the four-piece’s last album, Under A Billion Suns, proved that they’ve lost none of their aggression; indeed, it was in every way as furiously immediate as Superfuzz Bigmuff , yet retained the more out-there compositional intelligence that marked its predecessor, Since We’ve Become Translucent. In Mark Arm they have a frontman capable of next to anything while a mic’s in his hand, and Dan Peters remains a true powerhouse behind the kit. Our advice: get a few drinks inside you, get down the front and get that shirt off. Dance, drip, fall over, get back up, smile, hug the guy next to you, enjoy. It’s such behaviour that Mudhoney were made for.
Link to Sub Pop, band’s label
Read DiS’s interview with Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner here.
Comets On Fire (8.45pm, downstairs stage)
From Santa Cruz, Comets On Fire began life as a two-piece at the turn of the millennium, with Ethan Miller and Ben Flashman having every intention of creating a band that existed beyond the confines of r’n’r genre pigeonholes. The result is something like so very many recognised musical classifications – drone, stoner rock, doom – yet to this day sounds both original and utterly compelling. It is music to move the body and the brain, albeit slowly; it is music best heard in a haze, be it the mist of a new day’s dawn or the technicolour clouds of a pot-smoker’s bedroom. Blue Cathedral is the band’s most recent long-play offering, and marked the beginning of their relationship with Sub Pop. Subsequently, they’ve attracted massive critical acclaim and supported Julian Cope at the Royal Festival Hall. “Flag-bearers of modern psychedelia” is how they’ve been described; we just sit back and let our minds wander, free of any desire to discover hooks to hang the music upon.
Comets On Fire’s website
Read DiS's verdict on their Royal Festival Hall show, here.
The Flesh Eaters (10.15pm, downstairs stage)
So you thought Mudhoney were total old-timers? Check these guys out: The Flesh Eaters formed back in 1977, in Los Angeles. Singer/songwriter Chris D was the catalyst, and it is he that leads the current incarnation of The Flesh Eaters, one that hasn’t actually performed together since 1981. Yep, 25 years ago this line-up splintered, with Steve Berlin, for example, becoming part of Los Lobos, but now it’s back for ATP; there is but one record in existence that features these players, A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die, so expect to hear tracks from that. We’ve got to confess that we know little beyond the above, having been but wee in 1981, but we’re fairly certain The Flesh Eaters’ performance will be one not to miss on the Friday.
The Flesh Eaters’ website
The Country Teasers (4pm, upstairs stage)
It’s garage rock, son, but not as you whippersnappers know it. Raw and sweaty, stinkin’ drunken rockin’, Country Teasers are to The Strokes’ take on rawk what Millets are to Tracy Emin’s stupid tent thing: straight up, no frills, plenty o’ thrills. In their own words they speaketh: “Country Teasers have been described most flatteringly as Tammy Wynnette meets The Fall fronted by W.S.Burroughs.” Our words are certain to fall on deaf ears, mind, as the Teasers’ racket is likely to leave all but those pressed against the wrong side of the bar with three days of lughole-stingin’. Eight albums into their career, these homegrown purveyors of American-boozed mutant blues, deep fried and crisped to stab, are still not to be missed.
Country Teasers at In The Red
Black Mountain (9.45pm, upstairs stage)
Vancouver, that’s what is says under ‘location’, but there’s every chance that each member of Black Mountain has roots that one can trace back to the Moon. Their sound is both classic and confusing, 1970s in shimmying swagger and beguilingly futuristic. That they’ve shared a stage with Coldplay recently just ups the puzzle’s ante further. Their debut long-player, a self-titled effort, won many an admirer, containing as it did songs that could be heard as ballads and blasts of rock bombast. Many an offshoot band has sprouted forth from Black Mountain’s core, but they remain the biggest draw born of the five individuals that make up its whole.
Check this website out
May 13 – Yeah Yeah Yeahs Day
Yeah Yeah Yeahs (11.30pm, upstairs stage)
Perhaps you’ve heard one or two songs by the former scene kings ‘n’ queen of the NYC fashion-core sect? Perhaps, even, you liked what you heard, and concluded that Yeah Yeah Yeahs were indeed worthy of the hype that so blinded many factions of their audience until the release of second album, Show Your Bones, earlier this year. Not an immediate record by any means, the YYYs’ follow-up to mega-shifting debut Fever To Tell is nevertheless an album that deserves its acclaim (although DiS couldn’t hear what certain other scribes were so thrilled about first time through). Straddling both the folk and the frenzied, it’s an album that’s sure to produce a compelling liver performance, so quit with the snobbery and get on down the front.
YYYs own homepage thang
Read DiS’s interview with YYYs’ Nick Zinner here.
Liars (10.15pm, downstairs stage)
Masters of reinvention, Liars’ evolution from NYC scene creamers to left-of-centre oddballs has seen fans come and go quicker than vultures descend on Nevada highway corpses. The trio aren’t entirely keen on playing safe, so expect their performance to be marked by acts of improvisation and music that mutates before your own two ears. You’ll laugh, cry, die and be reborn; you’ll smirk at the hilarity of a rake-thin scarecrow playing junior witchcraft and regret your actions when you awake on Sunday morning with a tail poking from your pants. Current album Drum’s Not Dead is an absolute certainty to make DiS’s end-of-year best-of list.
Read DiS’s interview with Liars here.
Blood Brothers (8.45pm, downstairs stage)
Crazed frenzies and flailing limbs and twisted torsos pulling tea-pot dance moves from pulverised keyboards and shredded guitars. Or, great punk rock playing at lightspeed. Currently working on their fifth studio album with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, The Blood Brothers are masterful mavericks in a field of sound-alike punk’d punx; they are to Blink-182 and its fledgling offspring what Blink are to a Barney The Dinosaur megamix. Expect to sweat, a lot, and smile like you totally mean it.
Check their website out!
Read DiS’s ReDiScover piece on The Blood Brothers here.
Oneida (8pm, upstairs stage)
Newly expanded to a four-piece, Brooklyn’s Oneida exist in a similar state of mind to Liars: this is ramshackle riot rock tempered by subtle soul, charming and mystifying yet brutal when force is called for. While their last long-player The Wedding possessed no little semblance of romance, as its title so implies, live Oneida are a tough beast to pin down. Thus, DiS isn’t about to raise your expectations for any particular experience: we’re not told-you-so types, oh no.
Get wired yo!
TV On The Radio (9.30pm, upstairs stage)
Is this a no-brainer? Probably. Only an album old and yet so revered, TV On The Radio are a sure-fire hit of the weekend. Surely, no more needs saying…?
TV on the internet.
Read Adam Anonymous' 9/10 album review here.
May 14 – Devendra Banhart Day
Vetiver (7.15pm, upstairs stage)
Oh eeek… we’ve got to tell you that a lot of Sunday’s folk-hued action doesn’t totally appeal to DiS’s hardened rockers, but Vetiver are a welcome exception. Fronted by core member Andy Cabic, the outfit is also blessed by the presence of superb guitarist Kevin W. Barker. Oh, and some sandal-wearing sort called Devanbra or something… Anyway, with a new album, To Find Me Gone, out soon through Fat Cat, expect a set heavy on all things current. Even though it sounds a little, y’know, old…
Click me for Vetiver stuff!
Bat For Lashes (4.30pm, downstairs stage)
Currently being talked about by many a corner of this press of music, Bat For Lashes is, essentially, Natasha Khan. With comparisons already including Kate Bush (wow), ATP attendees could just be lucky enough to witness the formative stages of an incredible talent. But hey, don’t take our word for it alone – download the single, ‘The Wizard’, if you like, here. What’s that? Part of the Drowned In Sound Digital Singles Club, you say? Well I never…
Lashes of Bat news and STUFF.
Espers (6pm, upstairs stage)
It’s the sound of the long-forgotten past, dusted and amplified. Music for hazy mornings with last night’s whiskey still floating behind your eyes, a slight sting in your ears and a lump in your throat. It’s something like so many things you heard growing up – there are traces of what you figured folk was, yet the rhythms are as infectious as nursery rhymes – yet absolutely like nothing else you’ll hear all weekend. The Philadelphia-based collective – for they always were and still are an ever-changing ensemble – released their debut, self-titled album last year to rave reviews; this year will see its successor delivered to the world’s critical ears. Expect said ears to choke in intoxicated bliss.
Read a 9/10 single review here.
Bert Jansch (8.30pm, upstairs stage)
Mercifully, others have done the hard work for us, here. Just look at some of these offerings of considered praise:
“Jansch’s influence on modern music is incalculable” - TIME OUT
“One of the most influential musicians of all time” – THE GUARDIAN
Expect Jansch’s technically accomplished yet wholly organic approach to the guitar to beguile, entirely. Try it at home and finger cramps are yours for the immediate future.
Tarantula A.D. (3.45pm, upstairs stage)
Semi-classical trio Tarantual A.D. left this writer pleasantly lost for words with their Book Of Sand long-player. Containing elements of post-rock and the odd blast of punk fury, yet with a spread of classically indebted passages designed, it seems, to soothe the burn such scorching guitars leave in their wake, the album is next to unique.
Look out for DiS’s preview to the second weekend of The United Sounds Of ATP, coming next week. You can see exactly what other bands are performing, on the first weekend and the second weekend, by clicking to ATP's own site, here.