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Antoni Maiovvi and ANTA Fight For The Heart Of Prog.

Antoni MaiovviWith a new album which consists of an imagined score to a story written by John Reppion, Antoni Maiovvi & ANTA firmly set their controls for the heart of the sun. Simon Tucker writes.

Since the invention of the Long Player there has been a steady evolution and battle for the heart and soul of the concept album. From Woody Guthrie’s themed Americana through Sinatra’s tales of broken hearts and whisky, the concept album has been through many changes and stages of public acceptance. Dylan, The Beach Boys and The Beatles claimed it for their own as a mark of high art expression. Then European bands came and did it cooler (like they often tend to do) and the clutch of famed German bands that spewed forth a brand new musical dialogue took the ideal of a high concept and turned it into some of the most progressive and influential music that has ever been recorded. This influence seeped into the minds of our own innovators who then hung songs together in a way that from start to finish you got the sensation of a tale being told. Bowie, who himself had been no stranger to the idea of concept records in the early 70s, took that European ideal and hung the thread of narrative and of feel over his acclaimed album Low (in this case the theme being the start and end point of a man suffering post-traumatic stress from cocaine addiction, divorce and the break up of a professional relationship). Bowie was aided by Brian Eno who was another important step in the journey of the concept album before it got bloated and old. Drunk on its own ego particularly here in the UK and the States via the over indulgence of Prog bands which is a story you have heard a million times so lets not pull at that thread again.

A resurgence of concept albums and a reclaiming it from the capes and trapped arms in alien pods begins with the birth of both dance music and hip-hop. Once these genres got established and the creators started painting pictures over more than just 12″ singles then the art of the concept album breathed once again. From Doggystyle to A Grand Don’t Come For Free via Timeless and Fear of a Black Planet the concept album has evolved to survive. Skip forward to 2021 and we now find ourselves in a place where artists are unashamed to aim for the grand idea…for the essence of ‘concept’ to be returned to its home of Prog and leading the charge we have Antoni Maiovvi, ANTA and John Reppion who with ‘Church Of The Second Sun’ have not only created a proudly Progressive and Psych-Rock album, they have written around the story created by Reppion in his micro-novel that accompanies the release. As grand concepts go this is up there and it is a pleasure to hear artists unlocking any invisible shackles created by the reputation of the past and just aiming for the BIG IDEA. So when was this whole concept born?

Antoni MaiovviInitially the music came from two ideas. 1) to write an album for other musicians to play slash using a pre-existing band as my “orchestra” and 2) After watching the Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary and finding out about the missing Magma ‘House Harkonnen’ soundtrack I started wondering what that might have sounded like. I don’t particularly think this album sounds like Magma, but that was the seed of the music. When I run with an idea I try not to force it too much and hopefully just let it be what it wants to be. It became important to us as we rehearsed the material with the band that it have its own identity, and so Alex from ANTA had the idea of bringing John on board to tie all of the work together once we had the first mixes.

I’ve known ANTA for many many years, James, Joe and I all played for Rose Kemp’s live band back in the 00s and toured together. Alex and I also toured together around that time as solo acts. The Bristol music scene is (or was) pretty small so we’d always be seeing each other at shows and the like.”

John Reppion:The whole thing was already written and recorded before I got involved, so I had a rough mix of the album to work from. The kind of story which went with that music was immediately apparent, so it was a case of following along with the tracks and transcribing what they made me see in my head.”

LTW: How did you decide who to work with on this project? Have you all known each other for a while?

JR: I’ve known Alex from ANTA for a good few years just through online stuff and when I used to write music reviews regularly. I’ve been a fan of Anton’s work since I first heard Shadow Of The Bloodstained Kiss ten years or so ago. So, being asked to work with ANTA and Anton was something I was completely up for even before I heard the tracks.”

LTW: When and where did you record the album?

AM: “First rehearsals began in August 2015 at Joe’s Studio (Joe’s Garage) in Bristol. Recording took place in 2016 and mixing was done a couple of years later. As you can imagine the project was quite ambitious and we all had work and life related things slowing the process. I moved countries a few times for example. But as I mentioned, I’m always happy to let a project be what it wants to be and thankfully we didn’t abandon it which I think says a lot as to our faith in it.”

LTW: Grand conceptual pieces like this went through a time of being derided in the late 70s yet there seems to be a resurgence in artists using the LP format to tell a full narrative. Why do you think this is especially as we now live in the age of Spotify and playlists where like the 50s and early 60s the single is the dominant force.

AM: “I’m not an expert in what is popular by any stretch of the imagination but from what I see and hear a lot of it is very surface level and to a certain extent I can understand the need for that sugar fix and even the desire for things to be simple, but I’m sure also that there must be the desire for something deeper that people can sink their teeth into. For example I used to only find time to read when I was on the road, but in the last few years, mostly born of frustration from all those prestige TV shows that simply do not fucking end, I decided I would read more at home and watch more strange films and once I started doing that I definitely began feeling a lot more satisfied from my media consumption. I can only assume I’m not the only one who has this need for something more.”

JR: “Because the record was always very much a soundtrack in everyone’s head, there was already this understanding that there was a narrative running through the whole thing. We were all always looking at the album as a whole from day one, but that never really felt like a High Concept thing; it was just the way it was. Then each track being a chapter in a story just made sense to us all.I love listening to soundtracks by Steve Moore, Goblin, Carpenter … all the usual suspects when I’m writing, but I don’t have to watch the films at the same time to enjoy them. All we’ve done with Church of the Second Sun is reverse the normal order of things: its not the music from the Motion Picture, its the story from the music. You can enjoy them separately if you choose, but that’s the whole package we’ve put together. That’s how it all fits together.”

LTW: Science Fiction has often been a way of telling current social and sociopolitical stories with themes and points of view often hidden in plain sight. Are there any floating under the surface here? I seemed to spot a environmental theme.

JR: “Since the novelette is only 8,000 words long I don’t want to give too much away, but yeah, the future that’s portrayed in the story has all of its roots firmly planted in where we are now.”

LTW: They way you’ve managed to sync up the emotional elements of the story with the music is wonderful, there were moments when I was reading  / listening where I was getting really stressed on behalf of the characters, was that a hard thing to get right? It must have been a fine balancing act to get the two mediums (story / music) as synced as they are? 

JR: “It wasn’t planned that the story would literally sync up with the music originally, but it just started to happen because of the way I was writing it. I sat and made notes about when each of the changes occurred in the music, writing down the times each section began and ended and noting what kind of mood those changes had. Soon I realized that, to make the changes happen in the text at roughly the correct times, I’d have to work out how fast people were supposed to be reading. When I realized that 33.3 words per minute worked really well I thought “that’s just too perfect, I’m going to have to fully commit to this now”. So I drove myself a bit mad after that. I’ve got a couple of notebooks full of second by second annotations of the tracks which I worked from. Once you’ve got the speed right and you’re reading along there’s a real sense of propulsion, which I really like. You’re interacting with the music because you’re effectively performing your own scripted part of it to yourself and, in the same way as if you were playing an instrument, you can’t stop. You’ve just got to keep going. It’s relentless.”

LTW: How do you see this project connecting with people? What do you hope an audience get from it?

AM: “With all my albums I hope that it fires off something in their imagination and they go on a weird trip to a place they hadn’t dared go before.”

LTW: The album / book is being released by Death Waltz who are known for their brilliant soundtrack releases. Was it important for you to work with a label predominantly known for those kind of releases? I guess by doing so you can move people away from any lazy assumptions/preconceptions. Is that fair to say?

AM:”I’ve been working with Death Waltz since 2012 over various releases. They understand my ideas and allow me to release unusual projects. Given the scope of this release it would have been almost impossible to have done it without them. And for that I am eternally grateful.

LTW: Any future plans for the project?

AM: “We discussed at length doing a joint tour with us performing some of the tracks from the album together at one point, but as you can imagine Covid put a stop to that. Never say never though, we could always revisit this in a few years. I’m very curious as to how the album-tour cycle will look like in the next few years.”

And then they were gone…

In a time of circling tension and a constant drip feed of anxiety escapism to a mythical future is most welcome and with Church of the Second Sun Antoni Maiovvi, ANTA and John Reppion have laid down a path for our minds to travel away from the real and in to the land of sci-fi and the fantastical. Its grand scheme is to be celebrated and enjoyed so don your capes and drop your preconceptions…enjoy the ride.

Church of the Second Sun is now available via Mondo Death Waltz


Antoni Maiovvi can be found via his website  and via Twitter where he tweets as @maiovvi

ANTA can be found via Bandcamp  or via Twitter @ANTAmusic

John Reppion can be found via Twitter @johnreppion

All words by Simon Tucker. More writing by Simon on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Simon on twitter as @simontucker1979.




The post Antoni Maiovvi and ANTA Fight For The Heart Of Prog. appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Peter Hook And The Light: Mexico City – live stream

Peter Hook & The Light
Mexico City
January 15, 2021

Sure, it’s strange to be seeing live shows solely from the spaces of our own living rooms, but performances like these offer us a chance to celebrate the music we love in a moment where time and space are temporarily suspended. Yes, reader, Hooky transported us all back to Mexico City on November 2, 2014, for some Joy Division revelry during Día de los Muertos.

Who wouldn’t want to escape the confines of a global pandemic to hear both Joy Division albums in their entirety? The special “live” concert streaming event last night of Peter Hook & The Light’s Live in Mexico City gave isolated fans what they wanted.

The show opens with a photographic image of Ian Curtis on the stage, an ofrenda just below him full of colour and spark. Translated literally as an “offering,” the ofrenda is an altar to the dead. As the portrait appeared on my television, I thought of Kevin Cummins’ gorgeous limited edition book Ian Curtis: Memento Mori, a collection of photographs that capture the many and varied objects—offerings, as it were—left on Ian Curtis’s grave in Macclesfield. Yet those objects are steeped in mourning, trappings of a material world imbued with loss and anxiety over the fragility of human existence. Hooky’s show does something different. If Cummins’ book serves as one kind of memorial to Ian Curtis, published for the 40th anniversary of the singer’s passing, Peter Hook’s Mexico City concert acts as a compliment, a flip-side kind of commemoration. 

Unlike rituals of lamentation that occur at gravesites, Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a life-affirming celebration. The centerpiece ofrenda on Hooky’s stage isn’t a tombstone at which to grieve, but rather a luminously constructed place at which to conjure the spirit of the dead, just briefly, into the joyous realm of the living. And in the course of the show, the viewer comes to realize that the entire stage itself mirrors the construction of an altar, an ofrenda, strung with papel picado along the back and adorned with marigolds, calaveras, and dazzling guitars that sparkle under the stage lights. Instead of offering traditional food for the deceased, the band on the stage-like altar becomes the sustenance to welcome Curtis back for just a little while. In this way, as Hooky sings some of the lyrics to the Joy Division songs Curtis wrote, his voice gives aliment and offers a path into the gratifying raucousness of the material world: “This is the way, step inside . . .”

Yet celebrating the dead with mirth and revelry can also be marked by melancholy, especially when a loss is more recent, immediate. Hooky opens the Mexico City concert with “Atmosphere,” dedicating the song to Michael Shamberg, who had passed away just a day prior on November 1, 2014 after a long illness. Shamberg headed up Of Factory New York, the American Factory Records arm at 325 Spring Street in New York City. Shamberg produced some of the incredible New Order music videos for “Blue Monday” and “True Faith,” and helped connect the band with film directors like Kathryn Bigelow and Jonathan Demme. 

The show circles back quickly to the sheer pleasure that emanates from the music of Joy Division. The gig is smashing, and it’s obvious to anyone watching that Hooky is having such a good time playing and singing these songs. After opening with “Atmosphere,” the audience gets to hear “Digital” before the band moves into playing the tracks of Closer and Unknown Pleasures in their entirety. Hooky even plays the melodica on “Decades.” After the last track of Unknown Pleasures, the audience gets four more songs: “Dead Souls,” “Ceremony,” and “Transmission,” ending, of course, with “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” During “Ceremony,” the camera cuts ever-so-briefly to Pottsy smiling as he plays guitar. Several close-up shots of Jack’s bass could just as easily be images of Hooky, expertly playing those iconic bass lines. 

For most of the gig, we—as viewers in the 2021 present—feel present. The sounds rock our living rooms, and we wish we had bigger television screens to watch the show (am I right?). But there are also key moments where we realize we’ve been transported in time and space. As “Love Will Tear Us Apart” starts to close the performance, the audience in Mexico City begins a fútbol-style chant to the notes and beats of the song, humming along as if they’re rooting for a win. 

It’s tough to make a really good concert film, and I appreciate that this one wasn’t designed to compete with works like Stop Making Sense. I loved how the filmmaker brought viewers across the world to the show, and gave us what felt like a live and immediate performance. Yet I did find myself longing for more experimentation and variation. When “Twenty Four Hours” started, I enjoyed how the quick visual cuts were nearly in line with—but ever-so-slightly distinct from—the fast beats of the song, reflecting the strangeness of any idea of “permanence” in a space designed for fleeting performance. I’d have liked to have seen more attention to the interplay between sound and vision in the show. Of course, it’s all subjective, but if I’d have directed the film, I would have cut to the same colour-saturated shot of the Ian Curtis ofrenda that opened the film just after “Decades,” as Hooky finished singing aloud to the gone (yet ever-present) lead singer. 

But let me just say, how about the fact that the show gives us all a chance to travel to Mexico City? I love CDMX, and I immediately ran a quick map search of the venue so I could engage in some imaginative travel. The Jose Cuervo Salon, where the gig took place, is just a stone’s throw from the Museo Soumaya, and a short walk from the studio and library of the famed Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (the Sala de Arte Publico Siqueiros, in case you find yourself in the city at some point in the future). It’s also pretty close to Enrique Olvera’s restaurant Pujol, where we might all have gotten some amazing mole for dinner before the show. Ah, after the pandemic. After. In the after times.

“Live” streams like this one offer a glorious escape from the wretchedness of a pandemic life. I hope there will be more, but I also hope it’ll be safe to return to the actual spaces of live music sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m more than happy to be transported to Mexico City and to summon the spirit of Ian Curtis through the music of Joy Division. 

Live Mexico City Peter Hook Light

You can find out about upcoming Peter Hook & The Light gigs here, and you can follow Peter Hook on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook


Screenshots grabbed by Audrey during the live concert stream of Peter Hook & The Light: Live in Mexico City.

You can follow Audrey on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

The post Peter Hook And The Light: Mexico City – live stream appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Redg Weeks (Invada Records) Albums Of 2020

Redg Weeks InvadaInvada Records’ Redg Weeks presents his annual top 15 list of albums he has loved this year. As usual, the list is eclectic with plenty of titles worthy of your time and investigation (Redg has kindly put together a Spotify playlist for you to listen to which you can find at the bottom of the piece)…over to you Redg…

Despite the obvious misery and anxiety 2020 has brought upon the world, musically the year handed me a lot of fantastic albums to appreciate. This is the first year I haven’t included any Invada releases for the simple reason this years output would’ve dominated my list & left very little room for anything else. As per previous year-end selections my choices are comprised of new artist albums across genres, film scores, live material , reissues & in a couple of cases “come back” albums.

redg weeks

1: Soul Original Score by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

2: Oneohtrix Point Never – Magic

3: Ulver  – Flowers Of Evil

4: Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways

redg weeks

5: The Beloved – Where It Is “2020 Deluxe Re-Issue”

6: AC/DC -Power Up

7: Big Cheese – Punishment Park

8: Mr Bungle – The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo

9: PJ Harvey – Dry Demo’s

10: Neil Young – Homegrown

11: Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer

12: Three Knee Deep – S/T

13: Color Out Of Space Original Score by Colin Stetson

14: Prince – Sign O’ The Times “2020 Super Deluxe Edition”

15: Drain – California Cursed

Thanks Redg. LTW would like to say congratulations to Invada on what has been another wonderful year of releases for the label with a few titles landing in our very own Albums of the Year lists which can be found here and here


For more information about Invada visit their website  They’re also on Facebook and tweet as @invadauk.

Redg himself can be found on Twitter as @redgweeks


The post Redg Weeks (Invada Records) Albums Of 2020 appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Mark Lanegan: Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 — album review

Mark Lanegan Dark Mark Christmas 2020Mark Lanegan

Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020

Rough Trade

Out Now

These are songs of melancholy for a deep, dark winter. On Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020, Mark Lanegan reminds us of all the ways music can, so radiantly, break our hearts. 

Did I ever think I’d be eager to review a Christmas album? No, honestly no. But this isn’t really a Christmas album. Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 has some of the most haunting and exquisite sounds I’ve ever heard. I’m going to be listening to this long after the holiday season has passed and well into the darker days of winter. Mark Lanegan shouldn’t need any introduction, but you likely know him from Screaming Trees, or more recently after reading his acclaimed memoir Sing Backwards and Weep (a White Rabbit Books publication and Rough Trade’s Book of the Year 2020). Now back to the Christmas record.

If you went to a Mark Lanegan show in 2012, you might have bought a copy of Dark Mark Does Christmas 2012. The album was only available to those who went to a live gig. That version of the album contained six tracks of traditional Christmas songs and some incredible covers, including Lanegan’s take on Roky Erickson’s Burn The Flames. The album is great, and anyone who didn’t get a copy back in 2012 should fear they’re missing out (they are). But it’s the songs he adds to the 2020 release that truly bring me to my knees. The new release adds four additional tracks, including two dazzling original songs and two Christmas covers that leave me breathless with sorrow and reverence. 

Have you had a conversation with me since I heard Lanegan’s cover of In The Bleak Midwinter? You might already know just how moving I find his version. But first, a little bit of background on this song: the lyrics come from a Christina Rossetti poem first published in 1872 and later set to sound by Gustav Holst in 1906. Since then, musicians across genres have covered it as a holiday carol, ranging from versions that feel pious and pedantic to those that are devastatingly beautiful. Bert Jansch’s 1975 version – before I heard Mark Lanegan’s – was always my favorite of them all. And then, reader, less than two weeks ago, I heard Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 and haven’t been the same since. His alteration of the original arrangement envelops the listener in an atmosphere that’s marked by an unlikely combination of more warmth and sorrow than I thought was possible in a song. Lanegan’s gravelly voice is drenched in melancholy, almost as if weeping. His sadness becomes luminous and resplendent.

Then there’s his follow-up cover of Christmas Eve Can Kill You, written by Dennis Linde (who notably wrote Elvis Presley’s Burning Love) and originally performed by the Everly Brothers. I’d never been crazy about this song despite its deeply plaintive lyrics – the sound somehow encapsulates everything I want to forget that happened musically in certain parts of the 1970s. (But I should say that those lyrics, unlike the Everly Brothers’ song, feel prescient, as if written for a world in mourning.) Other artists have since covered it, and I was a little surprised to see the track listing on Dark Mark. Then I listened. It retains some of the organ notes that initially marked the song but turns them into pulsing daggers, overlaid by Lanegan’s affecting vocals. When Lanegan sings Christmas Eve Can Kill You, it’s prepossessing, magnetic. Mark Lanegan, you are breaking my heart. 

Through In The Bleak Midwinter and Christmas Eve Can Kill You, we get a sense of how Lanegan’s melancholy becomes embedded in his work. I’m reminded of one of the last lines of Sing Backwards and Weep: “Some of the ghosts of my old life still haunted me.”

Those two cover songs bookend Lanegan’s original Death Drums Along the River, which I think you’ll really like. The title mirrors a 1960s film of the same name (a tale of British colonial violence on the African continent), yet the riotous drum synth distinctly places the track in a more present time and place. In sound alone, Death Drums could be your new favorite holiday dance party tune. The sonic resonances belie the bleakness of the lyrics, as you might have guessed, as Lanegan sings lines like “to my memories I had been a slave.” But truly, when the pandemic is behind us, this is a song to dance to. 

And finally, let me just say: if anyone was made to cover Roky Erickson’s Burn The Flames, it was Mark Lanegan.

You might be able to snag a copy of the album from Rough Trade if you hurry.

You can find Mark Lanegan on his website, and you can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube


Words by Audrey J. Golden. You can follow Audrey on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

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Tourists: Another State – album review


Another State

Modern Sky UK 

Out Now

The inviting first album from the Torquay-based Tourists calls back to the past with its potent synth tracks and frenetic drumming, all while offering a distinctly modern sound. 

Another State is a carefully constructed entity, a whole – each track feels as if it’s in dialogue with what came before and what ultimately follows, both in language and sound. It’s ultimately a sonically driven record, with lyrics highlighting some of the melancholy themes imbued in each song. Silent Type, the first track, gently draws us in as it illumines the interplay between aural and visual cues that drive Another State

I can’t escape those prying eyes
I can’t escape those prying eyes
I can’t escape those prying eyes

The lyrics fade out about a third of the way through, perhaps an ironic nod to the song’s title. Yet the instrumental sounds that follow are anything but speechless as they envelop us in an atmosphere originally sculpted by bands like the Cure, the Smiths, and Echo & The Bunnymen. As Silent Type recedes, songs like Align and Smokescreen come in to pay homage to Stephen Morris’s drumming and Hooky’s bass lines, reaching out to listeners who wonder if there’s any good music getting made these days. The tracks feel like they were carefully crafted by a band listening to a lot of Joy Division and New Order. Those nostalgic sounds pick up again on Blindside, more than halfway through Another State. When I asked the band about their musical influences, I mentioned some of those 1980s sounds that emanated from the recorded. The band replied:

“Yeah, those influences are in there. Some of these songs have been about for quite a few years, some more recent. So the list of bands and influences over that time span is huge…the post-punk influences have always been there underlying, and we love bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four. Then more recently, we’ve taken inspiration from bands like Preoccupations, Froth, Beach House, The War on Drugs, Slowdive, Interpol, NEU, Lower Dens. Those kinds of influences are all in there on the album I think.

As if speaking directly to Blindside through song, the follow-up track is an instrumental Black Friday, introducing more of the shoegaze and dream pop elements that are also at work across the album. Another State ends wistfully, speaking softly to the ephemerality of music, of space, and of time:

Four nights ago I prayed
I felt the sun shining across my face
And I learnt another state
It was fine and I felt safe
Such a calm and lonely place
We can’t stay here too long
We can’t stay here too long

The video for Another State draws on those themes, full of fading footage and aging sunlight.

I speculated that the band’s spatial roots in Torquay materialise across their music, and they gave weight to my suspicions:

“Our music has definitely been influenced by where we’re from and the slow pace of life we have here in Torquay. We tried to pay tribute to that with the video for our recent single Another State. It’s quite a chilled, dreamy track that we recorded in the summer, and I think it probably reflects us as people and where we’re from the best of all these album tracks (we recorded the guitar outside so you can hear the seagulls in the intro!). We have always felt in our own bubble down here, not overly influenced or constrained by other bands or any sort of scene, so it’s enabled us to stay authentic and do our own thing.”

While the album certainly has a coastal feel, some of the darker tracks also have a grittiness to them. Daniel Schlett (The War on Drugs, DIIV), perhaps unsurprisingly, produced Another State. I asked the band about Schlett’s influence on the album, and they spoke about his distinctive approach:

“It was a real privilege to work with Daniel, who’s really on the top of his game. We knew what we wanted with this record—to capture our live sound and to get a more atmospheric, raw, dynamic feel with the production. We knew from his previous work with bands like DIIV and The War on Drugs that he would be the perfect man for this aesthetic, so we got in touch with him and sent him some tracks…He agreed to mix the album at his studio Strange Weather in Brooklyn, New York, and he totally nailed it.

The band is desperate to return to playing for crowds in a post-pandemic world. When it comes to gigs and live music, their words say what we’re all thinking:

“I think it’s what we all need. To be in a room together again, enjoying live music, embracing each other. It’s what makes us human. I don’t think anyone will take that for granted again after this whole Covid experience.”

You can listen to Another State on Bandcamp, and you can follow Tourists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

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Watch this! Shoun Shoun unveil lockdown video for new single Stuck


Shoun Shoun


Self-released / Buy here

“We’re stuck together through good and bad.” The tedium and frustration of lockdown is captured perfectly musically and visually by Bristol band Shoun Shoun in their no-budget video for new single Stuck.

Recorded in a garage, mixed in a loft, with the neighbour playing the bass line – lo-fi meets no-fi – it’s a classic DIY pandemic production, shot with an old digi camera in her garage, directed and edited by Annette Berlin, the driving force of Shoun Shoun.

With its tensely insistent groove, squall of fuzzed-up guitars and chaotically clattering cymbals set against Berlin’s laconic vocal, a throwback to the DIY ethic of The Ting Tings, it’s an urgent articulation of the way we all feel right now.

“It was a case of either going doolally or writing a song about it,” she says. “When writing Stuck, I was seriously worried about what condition my condition was actually in. I felt completely stuck, but at least I could still be creative, although I had to change my technique.”

Berlin pushed the DIY theme as far as she could, going through costume changes and unleashing the kind of dance moves we all try in the privacy of our own homes. “The song and the video were both created in my garage. I could bounce off the walls and nobody would care. What luxury! Not all of the band members felt inspired during the recording of the song, doing everything via the internet, being stuck themselves.

“That sucks – it’s what the current circumstances can do to you – so I had to be inventive to be able to finish the song and record some bits without the band actually being there.”

The single has already caught the ear of radio presenters including Tom Robinson – no mean achievement for a band with no manager or plugger – and an album will follow next year, just as soon as they finish off a few tunes and record them. “We’ve finally been back in a room together, all four of us, and that helps,” adds Berlin. “We’ve got ideas coming out of our ears.”

You’d expect nothing else from the Bristolian Berlin, a German-raised noisemonger who paid her dues with spells in Big Joan, Male, The Final Age and Rose Kemp, before striking out solo with songs of alienation, redemption and the emptiness at the end of the party, aided by band members Boris Ming (violin, synth) and rhythm section Giuseppe La Rezza (drums) and Ole Rudd (bass).


All words by Tim Cooper. You can find more of Tim’s writing on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He is also on Twitter as @TimCooperES


More of Shoun Shoun at Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud.



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Twist Helix: Machinery – album review

Twist Helix MachineryTwist Helix


LP | CD | DL

Out Now

In their latest album Machinery, Newcastle’s trio Twist Helix offers angsty, synth-heavy send-ups to sexism and to the music industry. And like the best electronic music, they’re all tracks that make you want to dance. 

If you long for clubs and dance parties featuring new wave sounds and the pulsing, sonic buzz of electro synth-pop, you’re going to be ecstatic to discover Machinery. This second album from Twist Helix has track after track of songs that all seem like hit singles. Diving deeper into the music, the lyrics have the band members taking their work in a definitively more political direction. 

Moving seamlessly between English and Spanish, lead singer Bea Garcia highlights the problematic nature of the current music industry and the ways in which sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of prejudice damage society. In Garcia’s own words, Machinery aims to “pick apart the workings of the music industry, and to try and explain it to our audience as we experience it—not just the product you see on stage.” Accordingly, Garcia highlights, “the album ends up touching on themes of exploitation (Vultures’, the shallowness of consumer culture (Frida Kahlo), how human relationships become disposable (Festival Season), chauvinism and the lack of gender diversity (Ghost, Louder), and finally the misunderstanding of culture and the folly of nationalism (Good Night Little England).” Indeed, as drummer James Walker explains, “for us the music industry isn’t just bands and songs—it is a system of cultural product which, when put under a critical lens, gives as revealing an insight into our society as the product itself.”

Each of the songs has sonic resonances with earlier synth bands, especially calling back to New Order, but the music on Machinery is also moving forward. For Twist Helix, those connections to 80s synth-pop and new-wave sounds from acts associated with the “Second British Invasion” and “La Movida Madrileña” are present, but the band also want to forge new ground. Garcia says Twist Helix is “probably just as much influenced by 00’s indie as by retro synth, the blog culture, and the MySpace moment that blew up in our teens,” and bassist Matthew Barron focuses on the importance of “reminding people that not all synth music has to be a pastiche of the 1980s—it keeps evolving and growing.”

Machinery’s graphic design is also stunning, with rainbow-colored visions of DNA helixes giving rise to new visual forms. Each song has its own design, thanks to the artistic vision of Natalie Heaver. 

Twist Helix currently has plans to kick off a return to live shows on February 27, 2021, supporting Parralox at FAC251 in Manchester, with future gig plans at Springkell Live in Dumfriesshire, Twisterella in Middlesbrough, and Solfest in Cumbria in the summer.

Stream Machinery here:

You can find Twist Helix on their website, and you can follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.


Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

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Believe in Magic: 30 Years of Heavenly Recordings By Robin Turner – book review

Believe in Magic Heavenly Recordings Believe In Magic: 30 Years of Heavenly Recordings

Written By Robin Turner

Designed by Paul Kelly

Published by White Rabbit 

£30/£35 Limited Edited

Released November 2020

A delicious panoply of voices archiving the visions and sounds of an inimitable record label.  

This is a thirty-year chronicle, in full and glorious colour, of the singular Heavenly Recordings. I can’t imagine a better book to capture the beauty, the ingenuity, and the wholehearted ethos of Heavenly than Robin Turner and Paul Kelly’s Believe in Magic: 30 Years of Heavenly Recordings. White Rabbit is quickly establishing itself as one of the most fantastic presses for music books on any side of the Atlantic. This is a book for lovers of the bands on Heavenly Recordings and the Heavenly Sunday Social club, but it’s also an object for collectors. Immense care went into the book itself and into the ephemera that accompanies it: a 7” Saint Etienne or Working Men’s Club vinyl, depending upon the edition you get, and a specially commissioned fold-out map of the London spots that feature prominently in the thirty-year history of the label.

One of the things I love the most about this book is its collective nature. Robin Turner and Paul Kelly are listed as the authors (and what fantastic writing and design), but this text is truly a community vision. Each chapter contains commentary, in the form of past-tense memories and brief recollections, from musicians, managers, promoters, designers, DJs, and others tied to Heavenly’s distinguished history. There’s Andrew Weatherall, Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne, James Dean Branfield of the Manic Street Preachers, Beth Orton, Sally Rodgers of A Man Called Adam, Annie Nightingale, Jon Savage, Mark Lanegan, and so many others. All of these voices contribute to Believe in Magic, offering perspectives of Heavenly that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s rare to find a book with such a delicious panoply of voices archiving the visions and sounds of an inimitable label.  

Of course, Heavenly isn’t just a record label. As Robin Turner writes, at its heart, Heavenly is “a design for life for whoever wants it.” Its legacy proves that the best labels aren’t just putting out music—they’re creating a vision, an ethos, a “state of mind,” as Jeff Barrett calls it. Naturally, Believe in Magic is a chronicle of Heavenly’s music releases and the figures defined by their association with the label over its first thirty years. Yet it also records so much more than those music releases. A chapter, for example, focuses entirely on the Heavenly Sunday Social, while another documents the “Heavenly Hairdresser” Christopher Camm. A full-colour page toward the end of the book reminds us of the stylish and varied typography that drew listeners and fans to Heavenly in the first place. It’s all part of what Nicky Wire describes as “the maverick spirit of Heavenly.”

As a physical object, Believe in Magic is also an homage to the analog. In an era of mass digitization, Paul Kelly (and White Rabbit) pays close attention to the book as physical object, illuminating the corporeality of music. The hardcover book has luscious royal blue endpapers followed by—instead of typical fly-leaves—full-page, full-colour reproductions of Heavenly images. Those graphics speak to the DIY ethos of Heavenly, but also to the pzazz and enchantment of the label and everything it produced . . . the magic, as it were. The physically dense leaves selected for the book reflect the substance inside it. Lightly coated, each page has a weighty yet silky feel within the reader’s hands. 

The sheer number of full-colour images throughout the book is stunning. Nearly every page has gloriously saturated reproductions—a wide variety of detailed handwritten letters, photographs, handbills, NME and Melody Maker covers, record labels, contact prints, band t-shirts, and storyboard sketches for music videos. In some of the final pages of Believe in Magic, there’s a visual archive of every Heavenly Recordings single sleeve made, followed by a detailed list of Heavenly catalogue numbers. 

Given that each chapter focuses on a specific album or entity linked to Heavenly’s thirty-year narrative, readers can absorb the text wholly from start to finish or can spring between and among sections, exploring Believe in Magic based on specific interests. The book is certainly for Heavenly fans. Yet it’s also crafted in such a way that anyone who loves music, and the inventiveness of sound and sonic design, will soon discover that they, too, are Heavenly devotees. 

You can purchase Believe in Magic from Rough Trade and other booksellers, and you can buy copies of Heavenly Recordings albums and singles direct from the label, from Sister Ray, and your other favorite local record stores.

You can check out the Heavenly Recordings website, and you can follow the record label on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, Instagram, and Spotify. You can follow Robin Turner on Twitter and Instagram.


Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

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Molly Parden: Rosemary – album review

Molly PardenMolly Parden’s new album Rosemary is a collection of delicate songs that illumines the stark fragility of loss and its persistent, unlikely beauty.

The album feels so vulnerable that it draws an empathetic engagement with the listener, leaving us sensing the deep pain that produced it. Yet still, the songs throughout Rosemary encircle us with the warmth of Parden’s diaphanous voice. It seems natural that so much of the album’s imagery, in sleeve covers and music videos, contains dustings of snow and rosemary branches—that warm green against a cold, bitter white. They’re visual fragments that at once reflect the consummate chill of a snowfall while producing a sense of hygge—precisely what Parden’s exquisitely gossamer voice brings to a collection of songs with heartbreaking lyrics.

I wonder if you think of me
I hardly ever think of you
Only when I use my legs to walk
Only when leaves do somersaults
You know it’s just on days the mail goes through
These are the times I think of you

Molly Parden by Mark Cluney
Photo by Mark Cluney

The video for Kitchen Table, the opening track, reveals an ephemerality that permeates the entire album. Digital filters create light leaks, creating a ghostly visual presence that lingers then fades. The sounds that emanate from Kitchen Table recall some of Paul McCartney’s sweeter and sadder works in his early solo work, especially the wistful synth in the opening verses of Band on the Run. That connection seems to come full circle in the ‘let it be’ refrain that echoes in Parden’s song, Feel Alive Again.

Call me when the storms are closing in
And let me hold you then
Fall into the arms of this old home
And let me drink you in
Lay your troubles down beside my door 
Come and rest with me
Where the light is there is dark no more
Close your eyes with me
The world is quietly below
And you are free with me
I can see you wanting to let it go
And let it be
Let it be

You can check out the video for Kitchen Table:

The midpoint track on the album, ‘Who Are We Kiddin’, breaks away from the tenderness that characterizes much of Rosemary, offering a brief reprieve from the solitude that shapes the record. The remaining songs are raw, lo-fi recordings that might trick you into thinking you’ve uncovered someone’s secret longings, captured on audiotape inside an empty home. Yet these are ultimately songs to share. The liner notes speak to Parden’s audience: These songs are my friends. I take them with me to every show I play, I sing them quietly at home when I can’t seem to do anything else, or when I’m doing everything else. They gently tell my stories back to me. And now they’re yours, too. Take them with you.”

Molly Parden has been making music in Nashville, Tennessee’s underground scene for nearly a decade. She has toured with bands as a bassist, guitarist, and singer, providing backing sounds for musicians like Faye Webster, Sam Outlaw, and David Ramirez. She released her first album, Time Is Medicine (2011), through a Kickstarter campaign. Since then, she has been crafting the songs and sounds that you hear on Rosemary.

You can stream Rosemary here. You can find Molly Parden on her website, and you can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud, iTunes, YouTube, and Facebook.


Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

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Post-Punk Politics and Irish Pirate Queens: An Interview with M(h)aol

M(h)aol‘M(h)aol is about disrupting and changing the political reality we have access to. Everyone has a voice and in these intensely historical times, we should be using it.’ —Róisín Nic Ghearailt of M(h)aol

The Irish intersectional feminist post-punk band M(h)aol is making some serious sonic waves. Their new single Laundries seeks to confront the past while revealing its persistent effects in the present. If you’ve ever dreamed of a sound where Joy Division meets Le Tigre, Laundries is exactly what you’re seeking. The song screams out—literally—against the repressive, violent institutions that have perpetuated sexism and gender-based violence in Ireland across the twentieth century, as droning synths and drums aurally emulate the anxiety-inducing, entrapping confines of the Magdalene Laundries themselves. 

m(h)aol Laundries Single Sleeve
Laundries — New Single from M(h)aol

Why address the Magdalene Laundries in a twenty-first century single? I’m so glad you asked. Irish prose writers, playwrights, and filmmakers have exposed and critiqued the Magdalene Laundries for quite some time and to varying degrees. Relying on fiction and other forms of imaginative literature to reveal the false gender binary of the Virgin Mary/Mary Magdalene in Irish society, those authors and directors discredit the notion that women must fall into one category or the other.

Patricia Burke Brogan’s Eclipsed (1992), an all-woman play set in one of the Laundries, has now been staged nearly one-hundred times in theatres across the globe. Years earlier, even prior to the founding of the Irish Free State, James Joyce’s Clay, which appeared in the author’s short story collection Dubliners (1914), opens in the Dublin by Lamplight laundry. That narrative highlights stark harms while revealing the author’s own complicity in maintaining sexist institutions.

Jumping back into the present, and more than twenty years after the last of the Laundries closed, Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s novel All the Bad Apples (2019) illuminates the ‘family curse’ of intergenerational trauma among Irish women that emanates from the decades-long violence of the Magdalene Laundries.

The Magdalene Laundries were Irish Free State institutions that housed so-called “fallen” women—anyone who didn’t fit neatly into the perceived category of a moral woman as defined by the church and state. That long list included women who became pregnant outside of marriage, prostitutes, rape and sexual abuse survivors, and independent women who refused to conform to the gender roles outlined by a stifling theocratic society. The Laundries were sites of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Up until the last of them closed in 1996, more than 10,000 women were imprisoned over the course of nearly a century. Survivors of the Laundries continue to seek redress for the human and civil rights abuses perpetrated against them by the state.

In Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment (2007), James M. Smith suggests that narratives and testimonies arising out of the Laundries must become more pervasive if the violence is to be recognized as a human rights issue deserving of international attention: While literature has always contained the story of the Magdalen woman, it is only through a broader study of Irish culture – film, folklore, ballads, paintings, memorials – that one can break the silence on this secretive past and confront society, the state, and the church in their collusive roles in punishing its most vulnerable citizens.”

m(h)aol video laundries still 2
Still from Laundries Music Video

M(h)aol is doing just that. This group of brilliant, politically minded musicians are resisting sociocultural labels while creating a new soundtrack for the revolution. Based across Dublin, London, and Bristol, the band includes Róisín Nic Ghearailt, Constance Keane, Jamie Hyland, Zoe Greenway, and Sean Nolan. Their video for Laundries, created by Greenway, intertwines early found footage of women and religious spaces with the colors of a world on (digital) fire. If you’ve ever seen film stock burn in a projector, you might have a sense of what I mean.

Greenway’s video at once brings those decades-old images back to life, demonstrating their persistence in the present, while setting them alight through means that are only achievable in the twenty-first century. She brings the images forth just as she sends them up in technological flames. The film conjures a gloriously grotesque vision in which Maya Deren meets Bill Morrison head on. Check out the video here:

When I first heard Laundries and watched the music video for the song, I knew M(h)aol was doing something urgent and powerful. Yes, reader, I fell a little bit in love with the music and its sociocultural commentary. Now that I’ve had a chance to chat with the band and to hear more about their work, I’ve got a serious question for you: What are you doing if you’re not listening to M(h)aol? Put them on your list of must-hear, must-see bands for the present and future. And in the meantime, read more about the amazing work they’re doing to create an exciting political soundscape.


AG: So great to chat with you all. I’d like to start by asking how M(h)aol got started and the ideas that are currently driving the band’s music. 

Connie: M(h)aol got started when I shaved Róisín’s head. I had been in music in Dublin for a few years and was frustrated with how I was treated as a woman, so I wanted to start a loud band where I could challenge some of the behaviour I saw happening to both myself and other women in the scene. 

Róisín: Connie was the driving force behind M(h)aol. She kind of put the shape on it over the years. Iconically, she found Sean in a record store and then asked Jamie, who had been recording us, to join. Zoe and I are really good friends, and I asked her to join after our original bassist had to leave. The driving concept behind the band for me is the idea of intersectional feminism, a concept coined by Black Feminist Kimberle Crenshaw to describe how intersecting identities influence both a person’s experience but also their political reality. 

We attempt to approach political issues from an inclusive point of view that recognises not only our subjugation but also our privilege. M(h)aol is about disrupting and changing the political reality we have access to. Everyone has a voice and in these intensely historical times, and we should be using it. To not take a stance on politics is a political stance within itself. 

AG: Can you tell me more about the band name?

Connie: Gráinne Mhaol is an Irish pirate queen whose story fascinated me. ‘Maol’ means ‘bald’ in Irish, and she had a shaved head. I wanted to use a word that as an homage to women in Irish history, and also something that could be seen as a play on words. When you read M(h)aol phonetically, it comes over like “male.” There were a lot of discussions about men using women’s names and the word “girl” in their band names at the time and I was really interested in that discussion. 

Jamie: For those who don’t know, in Irish, “mh” is pronounced a bit like a ‘w’, which is why the “h” is in parenthesis, so that the impeccable phonetical humour remains intact while also adhering to appropriate grammar. If anyone has issues with that, take it up with John Cleese and the county (or whatever) of WUSTER.

AG: Given that Laundries contends with the history of the Magdalene Laundries and gender-based violence, can you say more about the aims of the song and the ways in which music might play a role in redressing historical violence?

Connie: I find music as a great entry point for political discourse in general. Also, I think being a woman on a stage and representing yourself how you want to be represented is redressing historical violence.  

Róisín: For me, the song evolved over the five years between it first being written and when it was recorded. While it definitely focuses on the Magdalene Laundries and their political shadow, it is also a reflection on how the State treated wom*n during that time. The third verse actually focuses on another case that involved a young girl and her baby whereas the fourth and fifth verses bring it to the modern day. 

I believe that Ireland has replaced the Catholic Church with the Church of Neoliberal Capitalism. We’ve created a new political landscape that is still in many ways shaped by our old one. This is most evident in the way that the State treats those living in Direct Provision, a completely unethical system of housing refugees and asylum seekers. They pose a difficult political question about our society, as did the wom*n within the Laundries, and the same kind of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality is used to deal with both groups. 

My aim is to encourage people to critically engage with how history shapes modern ethical and political issues, and how we have progressed in some ways and how we have not in others. I am completely confident that in ten, twenty years people will look back on this period of Irish history and be asking themselves how we could have treated the people in Direct Provision like this. In the same way, our generation asks those questions about the Laundries. 

m(h)aol video laundries still 1
Still from Laundries Music Video

AG: The Laundries video is incredible. I’d love to hear more about the thought processes behind its creation.

Zoe: I feel confrontation and reflection are important steps in the journey of redressing historical violence. I’m inspired by a lot of politically conceptual artists’ work, which influences how I approach our music and its aims. The visual accompaniment I made for Laundries became a way of communicating this historical and religious brutality towards women, and creating a fully formed multi-media representation of the song and its political implications. 

The video juxtaposes the song’s powerfully honest lyrics and abrasive instrumentation with silky abstract textures and heavily obscured archive footage of women in the Our Lady of Charity Magdalene asylum in Dublin and the abandoned laundry in Donnybrook. This intentionally reflects the Irish Church and State’s shrouded attitude towards these injustices. I think experimenting with the music and extending its visual expression is a powerful alternative way of addressing these injustices. It hopefully provokes a self analysis in the individuals who listen to and view the song, and a motivation to encourage a redress of the broader abuses of power in society. 

AG: How do you see the historical memory of the Laundries persisting in Ireland today?

Connie: The Laundries are such a huge part of our history, and the last one only closed about 24 years ago. To have something so recent, yet so swept under the rug, is alarming – as a woman and as an Irish person. It shows a strained relationship between women and a state run by the Catholic church. That has been challenged over the years, but I’m still not fully comfortable with that relationship.

Often, Irish history on an international stage contains a lot of narratives surrounding men. There are plenty of things that are obviously worth talking about, but women’s roles in Irish history are very overlooked, and things done to Irish women throughout history have been marginalised. That’s why I wanted to discuss the topic of the Laundries in this song – to put it on an international stage and to show how women have been oppressed by the state and this messed up patriarchal structure. Internationally, I don’t think there’s a clear understanding of how it impacts women in intergenerational ways. 

AG: Yeah, that notion of intergenerational trauma, and its ties to British colonisation and imperial violence, often goes undiscussed.

Connie: Yeah, and what happens when you found a new state on the back of that trauma? You end up giving too much power to the Catholic Church, and generation after generation face the trauma produced by that history. We have seen the marriage equality referendum come through, but the discussion of the Magdalene Laundries isn’t sufficiently discussed. 

Róisín: There’s a strong Republican tradition here still. Although it’s commonly associated with the IRA, the Republican movement is just the idea that we should be a state. Since the founding of Ireland as a free state, there’s been a strong tradition of speaking out against the state, and speaking out against the Church – there’s a strong link and a symbiotic relationship between being wary of the State and the Church as institutions. We’re continuing on in a very important tradition within Ireland.

M(h)aol Band Press Photo intAG: It strikes me that Laundries also pushes back against the male-dominated music industry and much of the subject matter of modern music. Could you say more about the ways in which you see M(h)aol’s work speaking to broader histories of gender-based exclusion or bias in music?

Connie: For me, M(h)aol is a space where I can challenge certain power structures in music, and express my annoyance at gender-based issues throughout the industry. But more importantly, it’s about creating a space where people who aren’t straight cis white men can feel welcome to join in and express themselves. M(h)aol for me is about having a laugh while questioning and challenging things. I like taking the piss out of stuff as much as I like talking seriously about injustices. 

Jamie: One of the first things my therapist said to me was that, while it may seem inappropriate, a lot of people tend to use laughter and humour as a coping mechanism to help them talk about the things that trouble us most. 

Róisín: Anger is very healthy. We are a queer, wom*n-centric band that resides in a particularly masculine corner of music. Even if we weren’t political, our very presence is making some kind of statement. Therefore, if our presence is making a statement, we may as well take ownership of our narrative and steer what statement we are making. 

When we were gigging, unless we were on a wom*n centric bill, we would inevitably be one of few wom*n on the line-up. Promoters made sexist remarks, the lads didn’t want to hang out with us, and all that. It would have been really easy to become discouraged. But we thought we were great, we supported each other, and we believed that what our songs talked about was important. We had some really fun times in among the weird times. It’s important to see wom*n having fun while being political, to see people on stage who are not just straight, white cis men. 

Politics can be fun because you are building a better future. When it comes to putting on our own gigs and who we work with we try to be as inclusive and intersectional as possible. Politics is built of your micro and macro actions. M(h)aol is a good example of the micro and macro. On the micro side, we are making a difference by existing. On the macro, we are hopefully shining light on pertinent political issues and our individual and collective societal responsibilities, as well as problems within the music scene. 

AG: Beyond the Magdalene Laundries, are there other moments in Irish history that M(h)aol is thinking about addressing in upcoming music, or broader global contexts that you’d like to consider in your music?

Róisín: As of such there are no key moments in Irish history that we are going to address, but that also doesn’t rule anything out! 

In terms of the global context, our next single is about rape culture and the narrative put out in the Global North about survivors and how society treats them. The song is inspired by personal experiences as well as some recent high profile sexual assault cases in Ireland and abroad, but more generally, it’s about the narratives society perpetuates about rape, narratives about people who are raped, and how that shapes life. 

AG: Speaking of the Global North, Joe Biden was just elected US President. It feels incredibly significant to know that Trump will soon be leaving office. Thinking about some of the political issues you’ve mentioned, does that election have reverberations in Ireland and in the UK?

Róisín: For me, America is a hegemonic power, so it shapes the world. America defines international politics in the Global North. When you have someone [like Trump] who is adamantly against racial justice, against trans rights, you’re weakening a belief in democracy and in truth. There’s a symbiotic relationship between Boris Johnson and Trump – Johnson feels empowered to make claims surrounding Brexit. 

Biden is also a massive advocate for the Good Friday Agreement. Boris Johnson lacks a lot of respect for that agreement and fails to understand the sociopolitical history of Ireland. It’s great to have someone in the White House who cares and was around when it came into effect. He has spoken very passionately about it. Hopefully this will turn the tide.

Connie: I usually live in London, and I was there last December when the Tories were reelected. We’ve seen things going in a more conservative, right-wing direction, so it’s hopeful to see things swinging back in the opposite direction. As an Irish person living in the UK, you still face discrimination. To be living there while a party attempts to govern with no respect for the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland, or the lives of people in Ireland, well…[T]his has given me a sense of hope.

AG: Let’s shift gears. Beyond the political aims of your music, I simply love its sound. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Connie: Enya, Kim Gordon, Tobi Vail.

Jamie: Jacqueline du Pré, Billie Holliday, Carol Kaye, Miss Djax.

Sean: Chris Cutler, Seamus Ennis, Marion Brown, Jean Ritchie.

Zoe: Karen Dalton, Dorothy Ashby, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Michael O’Shea. 

Róisín: Princess Nokia, ABRA, Kelsey Lu, Big Joanie, Bikini Kill, Junglepussy, Perfume Genius.

AG: Who are some of your biggest influences more broadly, such as writers, filmmakers, or cultural critics?

Connie: I’m gonna say Mary Robinson and Rihanna.

Jamie: Síoda, the sadly recently deceased first hound of Ireland.

Zoe: Carolee Schneeman, Adrian Piper, Chantal Ackerman, Germaine Dulac. 

Róisín: The Irish organisation MERJ, Audre Lorde, Una Mulally, the survivors of the Laundries, Cynthia Enloe, Kimberle Crenshaw, Alison Phipps. 

AG: You describe yourselves as post-punk, but can you say more about what post-punk means to you?

Connie: For me, calling our band post-punk was a joke about the supposed post-punk revival that’s been happening in especially UK and Irish music over the past few years. So many of those bands were so annoyed at being called post-punk by the media, so I thought it was funny to claim the title. Those two words make men so angry…it’s hilarious.

Jamie: I actually feel like I would agree unironically with Connie’s classification to a degree. Partly, I feel like post-punk should only refer to the music scene that came immediately after punk, but I also feel like it’s appropriate for taking the punk ethos of not necessarily adhering to musical norms or rules, and having a decidedly political message but not attempting to recreate what punk music itself really was. I do feel funny about genre-isation of music in general though. Borders like that are a construct and their inherently soft, squishy nature needs to be kept in mind.

Sean: I agree in part with Jamie and Connie, but I think post-punk is pretty useful as far as labels go. Kind of allows us to take the more useful aspects of ‘punk’ (DIY ethos, social/political awareness) without being saddled with the more unhelpful baggage. As a musical descriptor, I guess if there’s a spectrum of post-punk, we’re probably closer to the gloomy noisey end than the angular funky end. 

AG: I’d love to hear more about how you write your music. Is it a collective effort?

Róisín: For Laundries, I wrote the lyrics and then have edited them consistently over the years with each new iteration. I am not musically inclined, and so I have very little input into the actual music end of things. They usually come together at the same time. With Laundries, I was thinking and writing a lot about politics at the time in my personal life, and therefore it made sense that it would bleed into how I viewed the lyrics and the kind of impact they could have. It is a collective effort so far as we are all supporting each other. 

Jamie: Instrumentally, it’s definitely a case of everyone making noise and seeing what sticks. We all kind of know what the music should sound like and how it should feel to hear. Lyrical content also heavily dictates the overall tone, such as our unreleased Don’t Order Meat, which is Connie and Ró’s combined mounting anger at restaurant goers ordering meat and leaving it to be thrown out, condensed from about four years into ten seconds.

AG: What kinds of changes would you like to see in the music scene, and in our social and political climates more broadly?

Connie: I’d like it to be a more supportive and welcoming place for anyone who isn’t a straight cis white man. I’m pretty passionate about the fact that women should be allowed to be crap at their instruments, or singing, and for that to be okay. Everyone has to be crap at some stage. I’m very tired of the pressure, which I still carry with me, of having to “prove yourself” as a musician coz you’re a woman. If a guy is playing a completely out-of-tune bass, it’s automatically presumed to be some genius artistic choice, but if I miss a single beat when drumming, it means all women ever are awful at the drums. It’s boring. 

Zoe: Completely agree with Connie! Although I work in the film industry, as opposed to the music industry, I’ve experienced a very similar attitude from straight cis white men. It’s tedious when someone’s musical or filmic ability is discredited based solely on gender, and it’s a pretty archaic outlook at this point. 

Róisín: Totally agree with both of them! I am not in any way gifted musically, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to get up on stage and wild out. In terms of political and social climate, it would be excellent if the current populist leaders were to lose their followings and that the slide to right that is occurring all over the Global North is reversed. It is a crucial time in our history in terms of climate change, racial justice and (hopefully) an overhaul of the current neoliberal capitalist system. The Black Lives Matter uprising over the summer raised many vital questions about our societies, the structural nature of racism, and particularly the intersections of gender and race.

AG: What’s next for the band?

Jamie: We have another single to be released some time next year, but beyond that, does anyone know what’s next at all? It’d be great to play gigs, but I definitely foresee a few other things in the meantime.

Connie: I’m very excited to play shows. We have some in the UK we’re waiting to be rescheduled at the moment. 

Róisín: We’re in a lockdown right now, but we’re planning to meet up over the Christmas period to write and record. It’s not going to be another five years until we put something down again. Keep your eyes peeled! 

AG: What advice would you give to other women and wom*n-centered bands that want to engage in political activism through music?

Róisín: If you are not a straight, white, cis-het man and you think that you would like to be in a punk band but don’t have the confidence, you absolutely do. Literally anyone can do this. Punk is about disrupting the status quo. Go out there and disrupt your own status quo!


You can follow M(h)aol on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify.


Audrey J. Golden is a literature and film professor who lives in New York. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and you can check out her personal website to learn more about her writing and her archive of books, records, and ephemera.

The post Post-Punk Politics and Irish Pirate Queens: An Interview with M(h)aol appeared first on Louder Than War.

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