“Does anyone know if Whitney Houston did a Christmas song?” – An interview with Peking Duk and Icona Pop

If you’re looking for video shoots where people set themselves on fire, these party specialists won’t ‘Let You Down.’

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Originally published in The Edge

Coming five years and 10 platinum certifications since they first hit their native charts, the London debut of Sydney-based electronic duo Peking Duk feels long overdue. However, when speaking to The Edge on an open-top Original Tour bus on a crisp December lunchtime between sold-out nights at The Garage and KOKO, Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles already feel right at home. “We went to the West Ham vs. Arsenal game last night – had the time of my life,” Styles says. “It was a 0-0 boring game but there were a lot of loose eastenders out and it was fucking hilarious. It was sick.”

‘Let You Down,’ their fizzy, self-deprecating new release, marks another first, with Hyde debuting his own vocals alongside those of Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo. His move comes as the logical next step from the band launching their full Weeknd-inspired live act over the summer at Splendour In The Grass, which one of their crew describes to me as Australia’s equivalent Glastonbury. The result was evidently successful – tastemaking radio station Triple J described the performance as “stepping things up to 11 without sacrificing the simple pleasures of a Peking Duk throwdown” – and, to feature on spring’s impending debut album, it made perfect sense to rekindle a friendship that began with some spilt orange juice in the air years prior. “We met on an aeroplane from Miami to LA,” Hjelt recalls. “We were like, ‘We saw some Australian dudes play last night,’ and you were like, ‘It was actually, kind of, us.’ That was the first meeting, and then we met in Sweden at the Northbound studios [in Stockholm].” Continue reading ““Does anyone know if Whitney Houston did a Christmas song?” – An interview with Peking Duk and Icona Pop”

101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all

Don’t worry, there’s no Lil Pump/Big Shaq/Katy Perry/Chris & Kem/Ed Sheeran here.

2017 has been quite a year. To celebrate three things – its musical goodness, me finally getting things in order on these pages, and a year of better playlisting that’s allowed me to bring all the best bits together without it taking approximately a million years – here’s a collection of 101 of the best songs it’s spawned. There’ll be many more words, playlists, and things appearing here over the coming months, especially if I can figure out how to make Spotify embeds look as nice on WordPress as they can elsewhere, so do say hello if there’s anything you think I’ve missed.

Continue reading “101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all”

Album review: Lorde – Melodrama

Our Lorde is 2017’s saviour

Originally published for The Edge’s album of the year countdown

Having gone from winning an Auckland school talent show and covering Pixie Lott in a radio session to selling 10 million copies of her debut single and being anointed by David Bowie as “the future of music” before she’d even had a moment spare to turn 17, it may come as no surprise that Ella Yelich-O’Connor opted to retreat towards normalcy as the Pure Heroine days wound down. Of course, sailing was not entirely plain: between incessant partying, herding idols like Kanye West and The Chemical Brothers for her Hunger Games soundtrack, taking helicopter rides into the wilderness to work on follow-up material, and covertly reviewing onion rings on Instagram came a painful breakup and a biting pop landscape eager to absorb her “incorrect” stylings.

Melodrama, the resulting Lorde record, comes rooted in that hedonistic habitat whilst trading the sprawling naïveté of (relative) youth for an affecting glare at heartbreak. A far cry from the days of ‘Tennis Court’ (“It’s a new artform showing people how little we care”), it is a remarkably bare concoction that pairs unorthodox pop competence with conscious overwrought feeling. Detail is superfluous to requirements, save for exposed piano ballad ‘Liability’ indulging in fame’s unceremonious responsibility for the theme (“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy / ‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me”), whilst the meeting of bitterness and a euphoric yearning for escape that is impeccable lead single and album opener ‘Green Light’ serves as a mostly upbeat red herring. Continue reading “Album review: Lorde – Melodrama”

Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth. For what it’s worth, I think that He might’ve created Dua Lipa’s live set first.

Originally published in The Edge

To anyone who had encountered her work in the 18 protracted months between amorous entrance ‘New Love’ and the release of her debut album, it wasn’t particularly hard to fathom Dua Lipa as a bonafide pop superstar just simmering gently before something truly massive. Eventually, it was the seventh single properly pushed from the record that proved to be said something – over the summer, the defiant breakup recovery jam ‘New Rules’ turned her from a perennial hope to one of the top ten most-streamed artists on the planet.

Thus, in the grand scheme of what is now almost certain to come, her autumn schedule feels like a bizarrely quaint juncture. Less than a week on from trying on arena life for size with Bruno Mars in North America, The Self-Titled Tour – which will now stretch to venues like Alexandra Palace and Birmingham’s Genting Arena in the spring after some exotic stadium dates in Coldplay’s company – kicked off earlier this month, including a chilly Friday night in an art deco Bournemouth hall nestled amongst a gaggle of fast food outlets. Continue reading “Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth”

“Hopefully it cements us as a band” – An interview with Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice

We talk Visions Of A Life, DJing dodgems, and gigs 9,800 attendees apart.

Originally published in The Edge

The way Ellie Rowsell speaks of her recent jaunt to DJ on the Brighton Pier dodgems at SlavesGreat Escape gig isn’t brimming with enthusiasm – imagine a miserable, rainy Thursday night with decks that don’t entirely work properly. Yet, although it was her only billing during her band’s first summer in five years without a festival tally in the double digits, things aren’t as relaxing as they might seem. Barely nine months on from concluding the run for 2015’s acclaimed debut My Love Is Cool with their first festival headline spot, Wolf Alice has five tour legs in as many months, reaching from Los Angeles to Osaka, lined up around the release of “personal” new record Visions Of A Life. Continue reading ““Hopefully it cements us as a band” – An interview with Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice”

Live review: Craig David at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

It may not have been quite the homecoming spectacle originally intended, but David’s slicker than your average display of many talents proved fodder for a delightful if unconventional Mayflower evening.

Originally published in The Edge

Thanks to a rapid transition from years of accumulating obscurity to selling out a nationwide arena tour, bagging a BRIT nomination and topping the album chart for the first time since his 2000 debut with last autumn’s Following My Intuition, the past two years have been nothing short of extraordinary for Southampton-bred Craig DavidExtending the tour to a day at the Ageas Bowl – a cricket stadium capable of hosting upwards of 20,000 for events like this – seemed like a rather logical way to bring everything back to square one in a suitably exciting fashion. Speaking at its announcement in February, he waxed passionately about the “iconic” location, which has previously lined up performances from Oasis, Luciano Pavarotti, Rod Stewart, and, most recently, Little Mix.

Yet three months after tickets went on sale, everything was quietly canned, citing concerns following the 17 indoor dates that the show “would not work outdoors,” even though he’d been booked for plenty of other shows in forests and festivals up and down the land. Those who had taken the plunge for a Friday in the sun were instead scattered between four replacement nights at the Mayflower – a venue a tenth of the size that is more accustomed to live music in the shape of Joe McElderry and Jools Holland than anyone who packed out both of London’s concert arenas mere months ago – and, perhaps inevitably, a fair scattering of empty £42.50 seats remained as David entered the theatre for the very first time, despite spending his formative years barely a kilometre away on Orchard Lane. Continue reading “Live review: Craig David at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton”

“If somebody likes it, there must be a reason” – An interview with Off Bloom

The Anglo-Danish electropop trio talk Morricone, Mohawke, and playing rugby with tasers

Originally published in The Edge

For Off Bloom, the invitation from producer friend Two Inch Punch – who you might know from his work on chart-topping records from Years & Years, Rag’n’Bone Man, and Sam Smith, in addition to the trio’s ferocious February release ‘Falcon Eye’ – to up sticks and head from their longtime base in Copenhagen to join him in his London studio couldn’t have come at a better time. Or, in other words, “Let’s fucking move over here. We’re here all the time anyway.”

Following late 2016’s debut offering of the Love To Hate It EP, the band has toured the UK and beyond in support of Dua Lipa and Polydor labelmates LANY, whilst their summer is turning into a whistlestop tour of electrifying festivals from Brighton to Leeds and everywhere in between. The highlight? Glastonbury, of course, says singer Mette Mortensen. “It was on a stage that was super weird – they had arranged it so it was kind of tables and chairs all the way around, so people were having lunch. When we went on we were like, ‘OK, what is this gonna be?’ But then I jumped out in the audience and then people came in and it ended up being super cool.” Continue reading ““If somebody likes it, there must be a reason” – An interview with Off Bloom”