FIVE FAVOURITES: PETSEMATARY

Oxford newcomer PETSEMATARY creates atmospheric, shoegazey soundscapes that in spite of their clear production, brood with a raw intensity. She recorded her first EP VOL I, independently, with all proceeds going to the charities Mind and Shelter.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a new artist is by asking them what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with PETSEMATARY to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you listen to her track ‘Tall Boys’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Jeff Buckley – Grace
This album pretty much made me want to make music. There’s no other way to describe Jeff’s voice other than pure self-expression in sonic form and it’s just fucking magical to listen to. It was the first time I’d heard music that made me want to smile and cry and scream and sing and it just made me want to use my voice in the most true way possible. Singing is a really intimate and personal thing. Your voice is you and there’s not much you can do to change it, and I think that Jeff’s music encouraged me to be as true to that as possible. The album is a kind of beautiful mess of different sounds – Grace is like an orchestral and cinematic love song, whereas tracks like ‘So Real’ and ‘Dream Brother’ are dark and abstract and dreamlike, and Jeff’s voice traverses to whatever depths the songs take him. There’s a lot of darkness in the songs but also there’s this hopefulness and light which really inspires me.

2. Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
I love everything about Emma. Her songs are dark and twisted and raw and I just think that she’s one of the most powerful female musicians around at the moment. I admire that her songs are both honest but also elusive – she manages to paint scenarios that don’t need to be explicit lyrically, and that makes them all the more powerful. Her guitar work was also a massive turning point in how I approached writing. Even though I’ve been playing guitar since I was a kid it has always been something I’ve felt self-conscious about or something I should always work a little harder at, and something that I have always felt I am inferior at among my male peers. Listening to Emma’s work made me realise that being good at guitar doesn’t need to mean being able to shred scales as fast as all the other guitar guys, but that you can make hauntingly beautiful and unique soundscapes through space, open tunings and effects.

On the title track ‘Marked For Death’ she has these beautiful sparse reverb-drenched plucked guitars that implode into a haze of delayed slide guitars in the chorus – this album pretty much made me want to put slide guitar on every track I make ever. Lyrically I also really admire her. Tracks like ‘Medusa’ and ‘Hand of God’ made me think a lot about female characters in literature and mythology and how they can sort of serve as a way of communicating my own experiences. I think there’s a lot of power in reclaiming those old tropes about women – the seductress, the woman scorned etc. All of those ideas are constructed as reactions to (and fear of) female power, and I feel like in reclaiming them in songwriting or any narrative they can become a way of coming to terms with your own experience. I feel power in reclaiming my own experience through that lens.

3. Elliott Smith – Figure 8
Elliott was the master of making the most bleak things sound melodically beautiful and uplifting. My favourite Elliott record constantly fluctuates, but for songwriting I always seem to go back to Figure 8. His lyrics can be both candid and enigmatic, and just in the way he sings there is an honesty and vulnerability which I find really inspiring. His songs are all feel and no bullshit, and it’s that sort of understated genius aspect which I love so much about all of his music.

The songs are vulnerable and raw but not afraid to hit where it hurts, and I think it just shows that being able to saw how you really feel is a lot of the time more powerful than dressing stuff up in metaphor. That sort of honesty opens you up in songwriting and that really inspired me in how I wanted to communicate my ideas through my songs. I love the arrangements on this album. Obviously his acoustic tracks are beautiful enough as they are but tracks like ‘Wouldn’t Mama Be Proud’, ‘Junk Bond Trader’ and ‘Happiness’ are just really powerful and dynamic to me in terms of their instrumentation.

“All I used to be will pass away and then you’ll see that all I want now is happiness for you and me” – the lyrics really are just bleak as hell yet he manages to twist them into an uplifting and harmonically beautiful track, and I guess its that incongruity between the dark and the light which makes this album and Elliott’s songwriting in general all the more twisted and brilliant to me. It’s all just so beautiful and haunting.

4. PJ Harvey – Is This Desire?
This record has so much depth and dynamic, and PJ is the mistress of dark and light and just everything to me. There’s a lot of noise and dissonance to the songs and I think they all speak to this theme of instinct and rawness which lie behind a lot of the tracks. Tracks like ‘A Perfect Day Elise’ and ‘The Sky Lit Up’ have these hazy distorted soundscapes, and PJ’s voice can go from whisper to growl to scream to ghostly wailing, and I think she’s just an incredibly powerful songwriter and performer. It’s sorta like a constant fluctuating between chaos and calm.

My favourite track on the record probably is the title track, ‘Is This desire?’. The simplicity and honesty of the words, the stripped back accompaniment and vocal are just really evocative to me. It’s my favourite record of hers because it just feels really raw and intimate, and again no-bullshit. I like the idea of these female protagonists which drive the story of the songs – Elise, Angelene, Catherine and so on. From that angle it speaks to me as a record about raw female experience, passion and desire, and I think that the same honesty in reclaiming your own desires and instinctual emotions is what inspired me when making Petsem Vol I. Desire as instinct, possessiveness and anger as instinct and so on.

5. Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream
Billy Corgan for me is one of the most important songwriters (although he is eminently memeable) and I think Siamese Dream is testament to that. It’s just one of my favourite guitar albums ever. There’s a sorta surreal circus-like feel about the songs – it’s sludgy and psychy but has a really great pop melodic feel to it. You have the spacey sleepy-eyed dream tracks like ‘Luna’ and ‘Spaceboy’, which are really beautiful and surreal, but then you also have the way songs like ‘Soma’ and ‘Silverfuck’ soar between sparse reverby guitars to heavy sludge vibes. It’s dynamic and exciting, and an album I go back to again and again when I feel uninspired or am struggling to write. The songs constantly travel to parts you aren’t really expecting. They can be grungey and dark and heavy, but also upbeat and light, all the while with fucking great vocal melodies and harmonies. Also Corgan is a gift to this earth and we don’t deserve him.

Thanks to PETSEMATARY for sharing her favourites with us. Follow her on Facebook & Bandcamp for more updates.

Record Store Day 2018: GIHE Picks

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… That’s right, Record Store Day. The excitement, the unity of eager queuers, the smell of that shiny black vinyl as you release it from its sleeve, the empty pockets at the end of the day… But most of all, the music. A day dedicated to celebrating our favourite music, and those wonderful shop-owners who provide us with so much of it.

Ahead of the big day this Saturday (21st April), we thought we’d share some of the special releases that we’re most looking forward to this year. From the emotion-strewn nostalgia of classics by artists no longer with us, to some not-yet heard releases from some of favourite new bands, here’s what we can’t wait to get our hands on…

Mari Lane:

Soundgarden – A-Sides
The day I learned that Chris Cornell had tragically left us all too soon also happened to be the day I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. I remember the day well. I listened to Soundgarden’s A-Sides on the way to and from the clinic, trying to find release in a band in whom I’d sought comfort on such days for the last 20 years. And, as I gazed out of the train window, I soon forgot my health worries as the realisation of what an immense loss the world had just suffered hit me. 

It may seem dramatic being so affected by someone you’ve never met, but I guess I’ve always found something particularly therapeutic about Chris Cornell’s voice. From the raging passion of ‘Jesus Christ Pose’, ‘Outshined’ and ‘Rusty Cage’, to the heartbreaking desperation of ‘The Day I Tried To Live’, ‘Pretty Noose’ and ‘Fell On Black Days’, it’s always been something I’ve sought refuge in; a voice that’s stirred a feeling in me that few other artists ever have.

Released for the first time on vinyl for Record Store Day 2018, A-Sides is a compilation album with songs spanning Soundgarden’s thirteen-year career. It was originally released on 4th November 1997 through A&M Records.

Haley – ‘Bratt’
Formally known as Haley Bonar, American artist HALEY has previously charmed listeners with 2016’s Impossible Dream and played on ‘Later… With Jools Holland’, as well as for the BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow. Now, under her new moniker, she recently shared ‘BRATT’. 

Propelled by uptempo, looped beats, it flows with a twinkling, ethereal haze and the subtle impassioned power of HALEY’s delicate vocals. Oozing an exquisite, emotion-strewn splendour, ‘BRATT’ sparkles with a shimmering, captivating grace, showcasing HALEY’s ability to create stirring, heartfelt creations.

‘Bratt’ will be specially released on a Memphis Industries 7″ for Record Store Day.

Courtney Barnett – ‘City Looks Pretty’/ ‘Sunday Roast’
Though I haven’t yet heard either of these singles yet, I have every confidence they’ll be worth the £9.99 I’m hoping to spend on Saturday. I’ve loved everything else Courtney Barnett has created, from 2013’s Double EP A Sea Of Split Peas (featuring the absolute self-love anthem that is ‘Lance Jr’) to the recent first taster of her upcoming album, ‘Nameless, Faceless’ – a refreshingly honest take on male chauvinism.

Courtney Barnett is probably my favourite, and most relatable, lyricist. She has a unique ability to tackle everyday life with a perfect wit and raw honesty; that, combined with her woozy vocals and infectious jangly melodies, makes for an utter dream, and I cannot wait to hear more from her.

 ‘City Looks Pretty’/’Sunday Roast’ is out on 12″ exclusively for Record Store Day via Marathon Artists. Tell Me How You Really Feel, the upcoming album from Courtney Barnett, is out 18th May.

Kate Crudgington:

Blanck Mass‘Odd Scene b/w Shit Luck’
Artists who release via Sacred Bones have been my obsession since listening to The Soft Moon’s latest album Criminal a few months ago, so I’m super keen to hear what Blanck Mass’s RSD release sounds like.

He came to my attention through Gazelle Twin, who contributed a remix of ‘The Rat’ to his latest EP, World Eater Re​-​Voxed. Here on ‘Odd Scene b/w Shit Luck’, the sonic punch of Blanck Mass manifests itself in “a couple of anti-macho pop songs” about a “pair of walking hardons” he observed at a truck stop whilst touring last year. The context will resonate with anyone who becomes enraged when they overhear ignorant people spouting trash in public (aka me).

Neither track will appear on a future Blanck Mass album, as the style deviates from his musical norm – making it the perfect release for RSD.

Odd Scene b/w Shit Luck is a 2 track 12″ released exclusively for Record Store Day via Sacred Bones.

L7 – Fast & Frightening
What’s the opposite of a ‘Shitlist’ – a hitlist? Well, that’s what Riot Grrrls L7’s Fast & Frightening album should be at the top of!

Since watching the ‘Pretend We’re Dead’ documentary (which Tash recommended to me), I’ve been listening to these punks on the regular. This album is filled with rarities, cover versions, tracks only found on compilations or one-off split 7″ singles, and plenty more.

It’s the first time the record’s been released on vinyl, and the perfect purchase for anyone who was lucky enough to score a tickets to their Electric Ballroom gig in Camden on 12th June.

Fast And Frightening is a 2LP out for the first time on vinyl for Record Store Day.

Rage Against The Machine – Democratic National Convention 2000
“Anger is a gift” – Zach de la Rocha’s powerful lines on ‘Freedom’ taken from RATM’s self-titled debut (released back in 1991) still burn with meaning and motivation. In the current political climate, I think we all need RATM more than we need oxygen most days.

This live recording of their protest concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2000 – attended by 8,000 people – is proof that Rage were a band unlike any other; politically informed, militantly organised and immensely talented.

Each time I think I’ve discovered all I need to know about this band, something like this crops up. They may have split back in October 2000, but their ideologies remain relevant and inspirational.

Live At The Democratic National Convention 2000 is an exclusive Record Store Day release of RATM’s concert in protest of the American political party system.

Em Burfitt:

Ask me? Record Store Day is one of, if not the best, day of the year. Christmas and even Halloween lose all appeal when faced off against independent record shops, limited release vinyl, and queueing. If Brits are the masters of queueing, then I consider myself a master of excitedly queueing on one particular day for records I woke up at 6am to find.

Last year, I added Patti Smith’s Hey Joe/Piss Factory and Anna Calvi‘s Live at Meltdown to my collection. Not to mention the free coffee offered ’round the back of Newcastle’s RPM, Reflex, and Beatdown Records (my “locals”). This year, it’s these releases that have all my attention.

Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire EP
One of the first Arcade Fire songs I ever heard was My Heart is an Apple from the 2003-released Arcade Fire EP. This to the point in which I still tell people that my heart is both full and an apple. I won’t say Napster had anything to do with it, but in rural England in a place where No Cars Go in the early noughties, you do what you can. The Arcade Fire EP will be released for the first time on vinyl and if I don’t find this individually numbered Holy Grail by my favourite band in the world, I’m going to be quite sad.

Arcade Fire EP is out for the first time on 12″ vinyl for Record Store Day.

Daughter – Music Before The Storm
Life is Strange: Before the Storm was Daughter’s first deep dive into the world of scoring and as a massive fan of the game series wherein music is so much a part of the experience that it’s as big a character as the storm it speaks of. In a flagship store on Portobello Road this January, the instantly recognisable track Flawsbroke out of the speakers and my heart, filling it with kind of pain I want to experience again and again. Music from Before the Storm is a double LP that belongs with me, and I shan’t hear otherwise.

Music From Before The Storm will be out for the first time on 2LP clear vinyl for Record Store Day.

(Honorable mentions that will break my bank account: Twin Peaks (Music From The Limited Event Series – Soundtrack) and every single Bowie record available.)

John McGovern:

GOAT – Double Date OST
GOAT are at the forefront of the psych resurgence, and the elusive Swedes are rarely away from my thoughts, so it’s exciting to see them cross over into a more popular medium with the soundtrack to Benjamin Barfoot’s comic-horror. The disc is blood-red and features ‘Run to Your Mama’ amongst other tracks. I might even see if I can pick up a copy of the film on Blu-Ray somewhere – the band themselves appear in one scene which, from the trailer, looks suitably trippy.

Double Date will be limited to 500 copies on 10″ for Record Store Day.

The Heads – Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere
This is a re-issue of The Heads’ second album from 2000 and is widely considered to be the Bristol psych survivors’ best. However, I’ll be trying to get hold of a copy (on clear blue vinyl naturally) because the band’s set at Liverpool Psych Fest in 2015 led to me and my housemates making a new, old friend. He was dancing so curiously that we couldn’t help but say hello and have knocked around with him the last couple of years on-and-off. It’s been a while since I’ve heard from Jon B and there’s no Liverpool Psych Fest this year, and, to be honest, I miss him.  

Everybody Knows We Got Nowhere will be limited to 500 copies on clear blue vinyl for Record Store Day.

The Lovely Eggs – Eggland
I still haven’t got round to picking up wobbly lo-fi psych indiepoppers The Lovely Eggs’ fifth album but having observed their career at a distance, both fascinated and slightly daunted, this RSD release – in Special Fried edition, white vinyl with a yellow yolk centre – has me captivated. Single ‘Wiggy Giggy’ had heavy rotation on Marc Riley’s 6Music show (normally around the time I would actually be frying things for dinner) so it seems like it’s the time to crack on.

Eggland LP will be limited to 500 copies in a special hand-packed sleeve for Record Store Day.

Otoboke Beaver – Okoshiyasu!! Otoboke Beaver
Lately, I feel as though I’m being increasingly led to Japanese music. Gideon Coe played Otoboke Beaver’s ‘anata atashi daita ato yome no meshi’ on his show last month and I’ve been curious about this self-described ‘“Japanese girls ‘knock out or pound cake’ band” ever since. Okoshiyasu!! Otoboke Beaver was designed as an introductory compilation for Western audiences, and is a furious non-stop melee of punk and garage with songs written in Kyoto’s slang. Perfect for dinner parties then.

Okoshiyasu!! Otoboke Beaver, a compilation of Otoboke Beaver’s output from 2010-2015, will be released on solid pink 12″ for Record Store Day.

Finally, we’d like to give a special mention to Jeff Buckley – Live at Sin-é. We actually all singled it out as a particularly special record, and both Mari and John have written about what it means to them… 

John McGovern:
There’s two kinds of people in this world: people who desperately want a special edition version of the outré-emotional sound of young (and sadly departed) Jeff Buckley playing his heart out in the East Village’s most famous little dive, and people who are lying to themselves. I’m in the first category.

Mari Lane: 
I’d never been hugely into Jeff Buckley – I knew ‘Grace’ and ‘Hallelujah’, though having been brought up on Leonard Cohen, I had always favoured the original of the latter… However, in the early days of meeting my partner Paul, I would stay over and he would play music all night as he slept. One of his most-played night time albums was Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-é – an absolutely perfect collection of exquisite lullabies. Being a light sleeper, I would lie awake and listen to the gut-wrenching raw emotion of each and every syllable. From the heartbreaking pleas of ‘Lover You Should’ve Come Over’, to the poignant cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ and the soaring, quivering emotion of ‘Just Like A Woman’, I challenge anyone with a heart and working tear ducts to listen to this album with dry eyes. It’s a truly special collection of spellbinding songs from an artist who left us much too soon.

 Live at Sin-é was Jeff Buckley’s debut release for Columbia Records in 1993. Exclusively for Record Store Day, it’s being released as a limited edition with four individually designed LP jackets and an eight page, full colour booklet of photos and liner notes.

Find info on all the Record Store Day releases here. And, in the run up to Saturday, have a listen to our Record Store Day playlist!


@marimindles

@kcbobcut
@fenderqueer
@etinsuburbiaego

Introducing Interview: Beckie Margaret

(Originally posted on Gigslutz)

When Parallel Lines first announced Beckie Margaret’s debut London gig at The Waiting Room earlier this year, I immediately scrawled it in to my diary (using ink, none of that pencil nonsense). As an avid fan of Cool Thing Records (the label Beckie is signed to) and all of the artists on their roster; instinct told me this was going to be something special. My instinct turned to panic when they (very kindly) asked me to DJ on the night under the name of Get In Her Ears, but the panic subsided at the thought of chatting to Beckie before the gig, and spinning a few 90s grunge classics throughout the night.

I met Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records) outside the venue, and was introduced to Beckie shortly afterwards. We joked about both being from Essex and my questionable DJ skills, before heading down to the backstage area of the venue to have a proper chat. Although Beckie is new to interviews and gigging, speaking to her about both was effortless and genuinely enjoyable. We laughed our way through interruptions (that’s what happens when you sit on a chair in front of a door) and talked about her influences, her expectations, and where she’d like to perform next…

So, Beckie, when did you first start writing your own songs?

I started playing songs when I was about 7, and then when I was around 9…

That’s so young!

I know! I think it’s because I just loved poetry and words from a really young age, so just out of curiosity I started using other peoples poems and putting them to guitar. I mean, obviously they weren’t very good – I was 9 (laughs) but I’ve always been interested in English language and literature. I think the poems were just things that I’d find on the internet, or in old non-recognisable books in charity shops…God knows (laughs).

That’s cool. So your inspiration came from poetry originally, but are there any songwriters/musicians in particular that your song-writing is influenced by?

I love Jeff Buckley.

ME TOO! Sorry, carry on…

Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, they’re probably my main ones. When I started to self-produce, James Blake became a massive influence in terms of arrangement, but for song-writers it would definitely be Jeff Buckley and Bon Iver. Purely for the organic emotion, that gets me.

Same, especially with Jeff. How did you hear about your label Cool Thing Records? Did you approach them or did they approach you?

Luke (Asylums/Cool Thing Records founding member) is a teacher and he taught me song-writing, and he’s one of the reasons I’m doing my song-writing degree at ICMP (The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance). I’m in my third year of that now. I left college, started my degree, self-produced my single ‘Cars & Catacombs’, got it mixed and mastered and ready to go, but I didn’t know how to release music.

I dropped Luke a message asking if he could recommend any websites and how to release new music, and he asked me to send it to him. I was like, “why does he want to listen to it?” (laughs) and I remember saying to my boyfriend “I’m really nervous, why does he want to listen to it?” – the next thing I knew, I was in a meeting with Luke and he said he wanted to sign me. I literally just thought I’d get a link to a website when I sent the message (laughs).

That’s great, he obviously had faith in your talent if he took you under his wing straight away?

He’s great, he’s always helped me. Even when he taught me back in college he understood that sometimes I didn’t always work as well in a group so he’d let me sit on my own, and just let me be, you know?

It’s great that you’ve got that level of support from him. 

Your sound differs quite dramatically from the other acts who are also on the Cool Thing label (Petty Phase, Suspects, BAIT, Asylums). What do you like about these bands? Is there something in their sound that inspires you in your own performances or song-writing?

I think it’s mostly just about being yourself, and each band doesn’t really care about trying to be like anyone else. I think that’s what Luke looks for, as well as quality. I really love how different and versatile everyone is. It’s a real support system as well, everyone’s behind each other all the way and that’s what makes it an inspiration for me. Music is music at the end of the day, as long as you can emote to it, it doesn’t matter what genre it is!

Wise words. You’re about to play your first London headline show for Parallel Lines at The Waiting Room. How are you feeling? What are your anticipations for the night?

I’m hoping I won’t just be playing to my Mum (laughs). I’m new to gigging, so I think it’s just about remembering you’re doing it because you love it, and to not take it too seriously. I just want to enjoy it, which is actually harder than it sounds (laughs). I’m just gonna focus on my band mates and get lost in the music, and if it goes wrong – it goes wrong! (laughs)

That’s a good attitude to have! I know you’ve only just started to perform live, but once you’ve established a larger following (which I’m sure you will) do you have a “dream venue” that you’d like to perform in?

KOKO. I love KOKO. We’ve (Cool Thing Records) had discussions about potential followings and finding a following that’s loyal, and not big – kind of like Lucy Rose. I saw her at a festival recently and I went up and spoke to her and we were just having a chat about her music and her little dog, but no-one else really came up to her and knew who she was. I’d like to be like her, to be respected but not be mobbed, you know?

That sounds cool. What new music have you been listening to recently?

This is gonna sound really weird, but I starve myself of music as part of my creative process. I tend to listen to Brian Eno, Philip Glass, and drone music because it provokes lots of thoughts and helps me to write my own songs. I’ve been starving myself of music while writing single 3 (listen here to single 2). I have listened to Nothing But Thieves new album though, and Anderson Paak, and I’ve gone back to Bon Iver recently too. And of course, the Cool Thing guys too. I couldn’t help myself in those areas!

Of course! So, what’s next for Beckie Margaret? More song-writing? Recording? Live dates?

Everything really, we’re going to be stepping it up a notch. I’m already working on single 3, I’m working on a cheeky EP, and just getting ready for next summer really. I’m going to make this my project for the final year of my degree too, so very busy. It’s good to be busy though!

Huge thanks to Beckie for answering our questions, and to Cool Thing Records for being as cool as ever. Follow Beckie Margaret on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut