The New Cue #75 October 8: Hayden Thorpe, Mitski, Dennis Bovell, Pond, WH Lung, Phoebe Green, Arlo Parks, Dinner, We Are Scientists, John Lydon
8 October, 2021
Come in come in come in. It’s Friday, which means it’s time for The New Cue’s packed out Recommender edition.
We have so much for you to read about today. Niall called up the former Wild Beasts singer Hayden Thorpe to hear about what he’s been up to. Recent Mercury Prize winner Arlo Parks tips an album to blow your mind. And we have an absolute landslide of new music, old diamonds and heavy playlists for you, too. It looks like a lot, but it zips by in no time. Here’s a playlist, go on, listen along:
We are relentless, determined, focussed upon your musical needs. Next week we have some big pow-wows in the can: on Monday, Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan starts the week with you; on Wednesday, we have Primal Scream’s Andrew Innes revealing all his best stories about Screamadelica and the soon-come Demodelica.
Spread the word! Love you,
Ted, Niall and Chris.
Line One: Hayden Thorpe
Next week, Hayden Thorpe releases his second solo album Moondust For My Diamond, an atmospheric, slo-mo electronic pop record with Hayden stretching his airy falsetto over the top. It’s the follow-up to the former Wild Beasts’ singer’s solo debut Diviner. That album was stark and minimalist but this is him in full flight and something about the lusher and more textured sonics brings out his theatrical best. He’s an artist who benefits from a bit of grandiose, and sometimes it crops up in his conversations too – he’s prone to saying things like “if I may dare” when he’s chatting. And what’s wrong with that? Niall gave him a call to talk about Moondust For My Diamond a couple of weeks ago and afterwards Hayden sent us the nice, smiley selfie above. Cheers Hayden!
Hello Hayden, what's going on?
I'm in the studio at the minute in Tottenham so I haven't been outside a lot today. I'm over caffeinated and under-sunned, which is the usual prescription.
I really like the new record, but before we get to that, tell me about how you look back on the Diviner period. You made it immediately after Wild Beasts split up.
Going into that record, I didn't know how one makes a record without having rehearsed the songs in a room for three years with your family/ associates/husbands. It was a huge undertaking that was a bit of a mystery to me. I guess it was looking back on it now. I definitely got to honour the loss of that time, the sadness of that time, I got to satiate that feeling. In a time when sadness is seen as being kind of dysfunctional and unhelpful, where we medicalize sadness and try and kind of chemical our way out of it, it’s important for art to swim in that, do backstroke in that swimming pool for a while. Sadness can tell you very important and concise things about your life and it needn't be something that is stigmatised. Having explored it, I was allowed to move out into much more rich and positive, more outward-looking approach. The legend of our time, if I may say so, is everyone's inner quest, everyone's inner story. We're all perpetuating our own legend and I got fed up of it. Frankly, I can only find myself so compelling and once you hit that threshold, you start to just look outward. And that's what I did.
So what happened next?
I toured the record and enjoyed playing those songs, just me and a piano, meeting this instrument as if it were a stranger and having this one-night stand with this piano and the hazard of the unknown of that. And then I ended up back in the Lake District. You always imagine when you end up in the house that you grew up in, in the town you grew up in, that something has gone wrong, you're at fault somewhere. And I guess for a start, things did go wrong for society and the world as a whole and I was trying to leave the trenches of Britain for a bit but a couple of days before I was going to get the flight out, the new strain hit and all the airports got shut down so I ended up without a house, without a home and ended up back at my dad’s. I ended up making music in the room I made music as a teenager and I went through the exploration of what that is and tried to destigmatise to myself that somehow this was an affliction and a curse and actually came to understand that it was such a magical opportunity to return to that space with the craft that I learned having left home, if I can dare to say so, of having the artistic chops to bring some dignity to that situation. And living near nature too, living in the lakes was a reawakening, like ‘how on earth did I live away from such a tangible sense of the natural world’.
Yeah, I saw you off hiking on your Instagram a lot. You definitely got your steps in.
Yeah, considering it was lockdown, I basically had the entire mountain range for myself. There were days where there wouldn't be anyone for many miles and you're at the top of a mountain and there's no planes in the sky. There was some pretty distilled moments and I felt very lucky at that time. It was a beautiful winter, too, there was a lot of snow and it felt very light, lots of light bouncing around. In many ways, walking is similar meditation to music, it's a physical process, but it's also a mental one, it creates a synergy and an inner-rhythm that I find really inspiring. There's something about being suspended between rock and sky that does something to your senses, a drug-like effect really.
You can feel that appreciation of expanse in the new record.
Oh, thank you very much, that's a real compliment. Because I didn't want it to be about the top of the mountain, I wanted it to feel like the top of the mountain. And that's kind of one of the magic properties of a song, you don't know it, it makes you feel it. So it's a kind of a true replication of that euphoria, and I wanted to just capture a small fraction of it as best I could. I wanted it to be body music, I wanted it to capture you from the neck down before your conscious thought comes in. Working on the record, I was exploring all these kind of different altered states.
How did you feel when you got to the end of the record?
Well, I went and got really fucked up, to be honest. That was my main response, to get out my head immediately.
Well, you know, just go on a wild one for a weekend. As soon as it was finished, as soon as I could put it down and I could lay it to rest, I just had to go out for a few days and not come back. It requires that out of body, you need to leave yourself a bit. It does the ritual that's required. It's a brutal act to finish a record because you lose the umbilical cord to your soul in a way. You think, ‘what the hell now that you're untethered from the thing that's been sustaining you’, so rather than wallow in that and feel bereft for a while, I just thought, ‘I'm just going to execute this’.
The Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski has been delivering left-of-centre pop songs filled with frosty longing for the best part of a decade. Over the course of her five albums she’s refined the sound with ever chillier precision: her last, 2018’s Be The Cowboy, was also her most fully realised. She sings songs that sound like a face you love being driven away from a tense encounter, staring back blankly from the rear seat while dressed in avant-garde headwear. So it is with her first new song from an as yet unannounced sixth album. It begins in a fog of synths, with Mitski declaring “I cry at the start of every movie, I guess ‘cos I wish I was making things too/but I’m working for the knife…”. A song about half-remembered dreams and keen necessities, delivered with increasingly desperate intensity over its two and a half minutes.
The mighty Dennis Bovell is bringing his Soho Radio show Dub On Air to London’s swinging Social on Little Portland Street on Saturday night, taking over both floors with a variety of other DJs. Bovell is, of course, one of the most heroic architects of Britain’s pre and post-punk musical landscape. A multi-instrumentalist producer, songwriter and mixer, he’s responsible for Janet Kay’s Silly Games, all of Linton Kwesi Johnson’s output, The Pop Group’s Y and Slits’ Cut, Orange Juice’s The Orange Juice and so much more, including stacks of his own reggae. His music has sound-tracked so much of my life - yours too no doubt. To preview the night, I arranged to interview Dennis on the phone. He didn’t call. I rearranged. He disappeared again, which is a shame as I had good questions for him. I will try again for a future Lost In Music, but in the meantime I strongly recommend snapping up one of the last tickets to Saturday’s rama-lama-ding-dong and listening to his recent commemorative Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry Dub On Air show here to whet the appetite.
Do you have a love/hate relationship with any albums that you nevertheless feel unable to relinquish? That’s where I am with Howlin’ Rain’s The Dharma Wheel after just a few listens. At its worse, Ethan Miller’s psychedelic troupe become lost in their own sticky trousered jams, like the hairy Californian space cadets they no doubt are. I am fundamentally opposed to rock musicians jamming and then releasing that music. I do not want to live in a world of rock jams; I live in a world of songs. But there’s a far-out heaviness to The Dharma Wheel that I just can’t shake, dammit. Where do you stand?
Last week, the Guardian writer John Harris got in touch to let us know about this fifty-track mixtape that Kevin McGrath had made of exciting new music from Wales (and slightly beyond). The aim of the compilation is to raise money for the NHS Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. A noble cause in itself, but the mixtape is also, it turns out, an enjoyably immersive listen. It costs seven quid. Worth every penny.
Perth cosmonauts Pond have always felt like a more feral, scruffy younger brother to Tame Impala. Frontman Nick Allbrook was in the initial TI lineup, they regularly share and swap band members. More often than not, you’ll find Kevin Parker on production duties for a Pond record. After a run of releases that swam in Parker’s slicker, modern pop slipstream, 9 (their ninth album, in case you were wondering) finds Allbrook back in his natural psych rock setting. With songs fashioned together from extended jam sessions, it’s winningly unhinged and eccentric, pinging from bong-huffing Pink Floydian reverie to thumbing techno, gnarly krautrock and flouncing glam rock posturing. Often within the space of a single song.
Out today via Melodic, the second album from Manchester’s WH Lung is more focused stylistically. On Vanities, the five-piece mine a rich seam of slightly seedy sounding 1980s synth pop. There’s the shadows of Soft Cell, New Order and even The Cure moving through the dry ice and disco lights here, with tracks like Gd Tym’s spindly groove bringing to mind Depeche Mode had their pop-purist founder Vince Clarke hung around for when things got a bit darker.
If you were to look for Bdrmm at a disco you’d imagine it would be stood in the corner, not talking and studiously examining their footwear. Big on swirling clouds of guitar and the liberal use of an FX pedal, the Hull band (pronounced Bedroom just incase you’re reading this out loud) are keen adherents to all things shoegazing. Out now via the genre’s modern day spiritual home Sonic Cathedral, their latest release, Port, is a masterclass in noisy, sky-scraping atmospherics, building from a low malevolent throb to a gigantic, shuddering explosion of multilayered sounds and textures. There’s a couple of top drawer, yet-to-be-announced, remixes of it coming soon too…
Following 2000’s The Covers Record and Jukebox in 2008, Cat Power has announced her third album of cover versions. With a title that once again does exactly what it says on the tin, Covers draws from an eclectic pool of source material including Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Jackson Browne and Kitty Well’s country standard It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. Both taster tracks Domino released this week are testament to Chan Marshall’s expert retooling of other people’s tunes. She makes Ocean’s Bad Religion her own, while in Marshall’s hands The Pogues’ whiskey-breathed ballad A Pair Of Brown Eyes is a minimalist interplay of voices that lands closer to Brian Eno or Laurie Anderson than Shane MacGowan.
Hold on, are you telling me Chris chose a song from the new Cat Power record, which is a collection of covers, and I’m choosing a cover of a Cat Power song by Dave Gahan from Imposter, his own new collection of covers with Soulsavers? Please hold my laptop for a second whilst I piece together an elaborate and incomprehensible conspiracy theory relating to this suspicious chain of events. Depeche Mode’s Dave has done a lovely version of Chan Marshall’s Metal Heart and his voice is in very, very good nick on it. He’s got great range hasn’t he? Well done Dave. We’ll be speaking to him about the album in Monday’s edition, so please don’t delete your email account before then.