Music


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‘I thought: I could be dead by the end of this’: Cate Le Bon on making art from Covid chaos

She moved to the Mojave desert, but the pandemic stranded the psychedelicist back in her native Wales. She explains how ‘three people losing their minds in a terraced house’ ended up with an album of the year“It looks like the bottom of the ocean, the light is completely different. And the perspective of time changes out here. The days are so long.” Down the line, Cate Le Bon is describing the beauty of desert living. “Everything is so still,” she says. “Sound travels differently out here. It fe...
Tags: Music, Wales, Culture, Pop and rock, Psychedelia, Indie, Pompeii, John Grant, Devendra Banhart, Mojave, Cate Le Bon, Topanga Canyon, Joshua Tree California, COVID


Anaïs Mitchell: ‘Hadestown was larger than life. This album is life-sized’

The singer-songwriter is back with a new album after a decade spent nurturing her award-winning musical. She reflects on white privilege, finding a musical community – and moving back to rural Vermont“Anything that you love can become a trap,” says the singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. She’s talking about the career-defining stage musical Hadestown, an energetic Depression-era retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice which dominated her life for more than a decade.Mitchell first toured it a...
Tags: Music, Country, Culture, Broadway, Indie, Time Magazine, Folk Music, Vermont, Bon Iver, Mitchell, Rachel Chavkin, Anais Mitchell, Hadestown, Anaïs Mitchell She


Cat Power: ‘To this day I sleep with my bedroom door locked’

After breakups, breakdowns, stalkers and worse, Chan Marshall has rewritten her bleakest lyrics and recorded an album of highly personal covers. ‘We all need sweetness,’ she saysChan Marshall is sitting cross-legged on a bed, crying. It’s a sniffly, unselfconscious kind of crying, tears smudging sooty eyeshadow. Thirty years into her often wayward career as the US singer-songwriter Cat Power, she is crying because in a few weeks’ time she is 50 and she can’t believe she made it, that life turned...
Tags: Music, Women, US, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Sexual Harassment, Marshall, Chan Marshall, Cat Power, Uuuurgh


The Wombats: Fix Yourself, Not the World review – noughties indie returns bigger and brighter

(Awal)The trio repurpose their sound from post-punk to pop-facing with a polished and snappy fifth albumScroll down the Wombats’ Spotify page and you come to the section headed “Fans also like”. It features a selection of their mid-00s contemporaries, fellow strivers in the league of what was cruelly dubbed “landfill indie”: the Pigeon Detectives, the Kooks, the Enemy, Scouting for Girls. As everyone knows, fashion is cyclical and this stuff currently lurks at the foot of fortune’s wheel: old en...
Tags: Music, La, US, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Nme, Oliver Nelson, The Wombats, Matthew `` Murph, Jacknife Lee, Dan Haggis


The 50 best albums of 2021: 50-3

Who could be in at No 3 (clue: she’s not an extrovert, except when she is)? We continue to count down one LP per day to the best album of the yearThe best songs of 2021More on the best culture of 2021This list is drawn from votes by Guardian music critics – each critic votes for their Top 20 albums, with points allocated for each placing. Check in every weekday to see our next picks, and please share your own favourite albums of 2021 in the comments below. Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Metal, Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, The War On Drugs, Dave, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Dance music, Jazz, St Vincent, Mogwai, Low, Gojira, Nick Cave


The 50 best albums of 2021: 50-21

Next in our albums countdown are Greentea Peng’s drowsy flow, Kacey Musgrave’s breakup, Madlib’s new direction and the Coral’s songs for lonely fishermenThe best songs of 2021More on the best culture of 2021By Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura SnapesThis list is drawn from votes by Guardian music critics – each critic votes for their Top 20 albums, with points allocated for each placing. Check in every weekday to see our next picks, and please share your own favourite albums of 2021 in the comments ...
Tags: Music, Metal, Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, The War On Drugs, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Dance music, Jazz, St Vincent, Mogwai, Low, Gojira, Floating Points, Madlib


The 50 best albums of 2021: 50-41

Our countdown opens with a list of LPs that includes Gojira’s climate-crisis rally-cry and an uplifting house full-length from US producer Eris DrewThe best songs of 2021More on the best culture of 2021By Ben Beaumont-Thomas and Laura SnapesThis list is drawn from votes by Guardian music critics – each critic votes for their Top 20 albums, with points allocated for each placing. Check in every weekday to see our next picks, and please share your own favourite albums of 2021 in the comments below...
Tags: Music, Metal, US, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Dance music, Jazz, Gojira, Black Country, New Road, Ben Beaumont Thomas, Eris Drew, Eris DrewThe, Laura SnapesThis


‘I wrote it from the perspective of a night light’: How They Might Be Giants made Birdhouse in Your Soul

‘I’m completely happy that we fall within the noble tradition of the one-hit wonder in the UK’ We had played the showcase night at New York’s CBGB, but didn’t stand out, so we tried instead playing alongside performance artists in East Village. People showing up to watch avant garde performance art bought our cassette, and we became part of this groovy little scene of really enthusiastic people. Continue reading...
Tags: Music, UK, New York, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Giants, Cbgb, East Village People


The 20 best songs of 2021

We celebrate everything from Lil Nas X’s conservative-baiting Montero to Wet Leg’s instant indie classic – as voted for by 31 of the Guardian’s music writers Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Rap, Culture, Pop and rock, Hip-hop, Punk, Indie, Dance music, Bruno Mars, R&B, Electronic Music, Abba, Self Esteem, Bts, The Weeknd, Little Simz


Amyl and the Sniffers review – a blizzard from Oz

Electric Ballroom, LondonChannelling singer Amy Taylor’s rage and joyous abandon, the Australian punk band bring their second album to glorious fighting lifeWe are living through what often feel like end times for genre. If recording studios had windows, rulebooks would be flying out of them constantly, endangering passersby. Crossover smashes such as Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road have been obvious manifestations of this shift. But colouring inside the stylistic lines has been in decline for a while...
Tags: Music, Culture, Pop and rock, Punk, Indie, Taylor, Old Town Road, Amyl, Amy Taylor, Electric Ballroom LondonChannelling


‘You can’t cancel me, I’ve got bills to pay!’: music stars on pop’s strange 2021

Laura Mvula, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno, Snail Mail, BackRoad Gee, Sigrid and Eris Drew mull over the year’s big stories, from Britney’s freedom to battles over plagiarism and streamingHow did you feel coming into 2021, after the unprecedented bleakness of 2020? Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Rap, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Dance music, R&B, Electronic Music, Kasabian, Britney, Laura Mvula, Eris Drew, Laura Mvula Kasabian, Serge Pizzorno Snail Mail BackRoad Gee Sigrid


‘It’s repulsive to me’: the bitter feud of indie-rockers the Wrens

Their 2003 album The Meadowlands earned them adulation, but a long-promised followup never arrived. Now their frontman is back as Aeon Station – and his former co-writer is very unhappy…Before taking flight as indie-rock heartbreakers the Wrens, Kevin Whelan and Charles Bissell were an awkward, prickly pair who met at a graduation party in an abandoned house. “I never had any friends or girlfriends,” the affable Whelan, 51, says with a self-effacing laugh from the New Jersey home he shares with ...
Tags: Music, New York, Music Industry, Culture, Pop and rock, New Jersey, Indie, Whelan, Bissell, Charles Bissell, Kevin Whelan


Let’s Eat Grandma: ‘How can I view death purely in a negative way when someone I loved is dead?’

Childhood friends who would finish each other’s sentences, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth were growing apart. Then Hollingworth’s boyfriend died aged 22. The pop duo explain what they learned in a devastating yearLet’s Eat Grandma arrive in a cafe after their Guardian photoshoot, looking exactly like a pair of pop stars. Jazzed up in opulent jewel tones and immaculate eyeliner, they are both tall – about 5ft 9in – but the resemblance ends there. Rosa Walton has the plump red curls of a 40s m...
Tags: Music, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Kate Bush, Electronic Music, Hollingworth, Jenny Hollingworth, Rosa Walton


Sonic Youth’s greatest songs – ranked!

As they release two live albums to benefit abortion support groups, we rate the best of the New York band who collided alt-rock with the avant garde in a thrilling noiseGiven short shrift on release, the reputation of the dense, chaotic, beat poetry-infused NYC Ghosts & Flowers has been burnished at least a little by time. The title track, which slowly builds over seven minutes from hushed intro to cacophonous climax, is the perfect example of the dark, bad-dream power the album wields at its be...
Tags: Music, New York, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Experimental music, Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore


Damon Albarn: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows review – beautifully haunting

(Transgressive)One of the most driven artists of the Britpop era, now unbothered by commercial success, is back with a second solo album that drifts along in a melancholy, stoned mistWhen May’s Glastonbury livestream finally creaked into life, it offered viewers an interesting study in contrasts. At 9pm, Coldplay appeared, rolling out the big hits from their 20-year career on an illuminated platform in front of the Pyramid stage, the empty field filled with lights. It was a performance with a di...
Tags: Music, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Coldplay, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz, Blur, Glastonbury, Dee, Albarn, Fela Kuti, Kronos Quartet


The greatest songs about the climate crisis – ranked!

As Cop26 opens in Glasgow, we provide the soundtrack, ranging from Gojira’s metal fury to gorgeous environmental paeans by Childish Gambino, Neil Young and Joni MitchellFrom its cover shot of a submerged bedroom down, 2019’s Titanic Rising feels like an album informed by the climate crisis, but the lyrics seldom address it explicitly. Something to Believe is the perfect example: a plea not to feel overwhelmed by or nihilistic about the challenges faced, beautifully steeped in the lush sound of e...
Tags: Music, Metal, Disco, Environment, Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Soul, Neil Young, Culture, Pop and rock, Hip-hop, Punk, Indie, Dance music, Glasgow, Folk Music


‘I’m so glad you guys exist!’ Carrie Brownstein meets the Linda Lindas

When teenage LA punks the Linda Lindas went viral, they caught the attention of Amy Poehler, Jimmy Kimmel and original riot grrrl, Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, who joins them for a cross-generational chinwagIn May, the US punk band the Linda Lindas went viral with a performance of their no-holds-barred track Racist, Sexist Boy. Written in response to a real-life incident in which drummer Mila de la Garza was racially harassed by a classmate, the song alternates between sludgy punk and br...
Tags: Music, La, US, Los Angeles, Culture, Pop and rock, Punk, Indie, Carrie Brownstein, Epitaph Records, Sleater Kinney, Lucia, Mila, Los Angeles Public Library, Linda Lindas, Amy Poehler Jimmy Kimmel


Indie pop star Connie Constance: ‘People play with your career as if it’s not your entire life’

She was on a major label, hanging out with Dua Lipa – but being sidelined behind the scenes. Now independent and thriving, the UK musician has a cautionary tale for women in the music industryThe pandemic temporarily spelled game over for emerging pop stars: who could compete for headlines and livestreams with the likes of Dua Lipa? For Connie Constance, it stalled a career she had only just jump-started. A few months earlier, the Watford-born songwriter broke ties with AMF, then an imprint of V...
Tags: Music, UK, London, US, Los Angeles, Music Industry, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Watford, Sims, AMF, Dua Lipa, Connie Constance, Constance Power, George Floyd Marcus Rashford


Skunk Anansie: how we made Weak

‘It was a vulnerable moment that turned into a moment of strength. It was basically me saying: I am never going to be hit by anyone ever again’ Weak was written about an experience I’d had a few years earlier. I was dating a guy I shouldn’t have been going out with in the first place: he was older, he wanted to get married and all these things, but he didn’t ask me, he just decided. Back then, I was so meek and mild. My friends would say: “Your boyfriend is so controlling. You have to stick up f...
Tags: Music, Society, Domestic Violence, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Britpop


‘A summer of love!’ Musicians on the awesome, tearful return of gigs

From Sleaford Mods in London to Mogwai in France, bands and performers talk about the strange and wonderful experience of returning to the stage after 16 months of deprivationThere were those few weeks of strange, haunted gigs in autumn 2020, but for most people live music disappeared at the start of March last year and didn’t return until this summer. It was a peculiar enough experience being in the crowds, but what was it like for the artists walking on stage after 18 months without the hum of...
Tags: Music, London, France, Soul, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dance music, Jazz, Folk Music, Electronic Music, Mogwai, The Vaccines, Rudimental, Sleaford Mods


Big quiffs, zombies and dead crows: the wild world of psychobilly

The turbocharged twist on rockabilly enraptured 80s punks and rock’n’rollers – and alienated plenty more – with its food fights, ferocious club nights and phantasmagoriaIf you wanted to date the moment one of the biggest youth subcultures of 80s Britain arrived, you could pick 40 years ago this month, on 4 July 1981. That night, at the Marquee club in Soho, a few hundred kids gathered to watch a band who were almost singlehandedly kickstarting a new wave of alternative music. Waiting for them to...
Tags: Music, Country, Culture, Britain, Pop and rock, Punk, Indie, David Lynch, Soho, Mark Harman


‘Everyone was going full pelt’: how Giddy Stratospheres captured indie’s hedonistic 00s

The euphoria and tragedy of the 00s indie music scene are the subject of Giddy Stratospheres. Is it accurate? Klaxons, the Long Blondes, New Young Pony Club and more look back – and give their verdictIf you ever ran for a dawn train after a narcotic all-nighter in 2007 with The Rat by the Walkmen pounding through your liquified brain and a hip flask of “breakfast vodka” in your pocket, expect flashbacks from the opening moments of Giddy Stratospheres, director Laura Jean Marsh’s debut film set a...
Tags: Music, Film, Culture, Indie, Marsh, Boosh, Klaxons, Dirty Pretty Things, Long Blondes New Young Pony Club, Laura Jean Marsh, Dolly Rockers


Gaz Coombes: ‘It felt good that life was speeding up’

As Supergrass return to festival stages, their frontman remembers his younger days, from the majesty of Spacemen 3 to love letters via mixtapesThis was a big thing for me: lots of recording off the radio. I’d wait for the chart show, and I’d know that Madonna’s Into the Groove was currently at No 3. I remember that pressured feeling of trying to hit record at the right time so you don’t get too much of the DJ introducing the track, and I’d build up these compilations. I did my own best-ofs – the...
Tags: Music, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Madonna, Gaz Coombes, Supergrass


The best albums of 2021 so far

From drill’s high watermark to Tuareg rock, Colombian pop and London jazz, here are our music editors’ picks of the best LPs from the first half of the year Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Metal, London, Rap, Culture, Pop and rock, Psychedelia, Indie, Jazz, Folk Music, Electronic Music, St Vincent, Experimental music, Nick Cave, Wolf Alice, Dry Cleaning


The greatest ever songs of the summer – ranked!

From Don Henley to Drake, we rate the hottest sounds of the seasonFor a fleeting moment Brooklyn’s the Drums were the skinny jean-sporting indie band du jour. This is their crowning moment, all pogoing bass, petal-soft whistle riffs and a lyric about waking up on a sunny morning and running to the beach. “Oh mama I don’t care about nothing” feels like a very summer 2021 mantra, too. Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Beyonce, Rihanna, Beach Boys, Daft Punk, Jay-z, Culture, Brooklyn, Pop and rock, Indie, Spice Girls, Dance music, Take That, Drake, Reggae, Carly Rae Jepsen


Folk singer Mustafa: ‘I’m trying to preserve the memories of young Black Muslims’

The poet, a songwriter for artists including the Weeknd, explains how music helped him explore the loss of friends to inner-city violence: ‘Sorrow is meant to be experienced and felt’Appearing on a Zoom call from his Los Angeles apartment, sporting the white, perforated kufi skullcap worn in mosques, 24-year-old Canadian musician Mustafa is a long way from Regent Park, the predominantly Black, working-class neighbourhood in downtown Toronto where he grew up. Regent Park is a place with a dual id...
Tags: Music, Toronto, Los Angeles, Culture, Indie, Folk Music, Drake, The Weeknd, Mustafa, James Blake, Camila Cabello, Sampha, Regent Park, Ano Santana Ali, Jahvante


Juliana Hatfield: ‘Women turn our anger on ourselves’

The indie-rocker is now a touchstone for a generation of young songwriters – and after learning to channel her pain and frustration, her 18th album is one of her bestJuliana Hatfield speaks with deliberation: her thoughts unfurl after pregnant pauses and are sharpened by astute clarifications. “I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought,” she says at one point, doubling back to ensure her meaning is clear. Such consideration isn’t a surprise, given the rippling effect of an infamous early-career inte...
Tags: Music, Culture, Pop and rock, Indie, Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield, Cambridge Massachusetts


Arlo Parks: Gen Z star entrances all who hear her

The 20-year-old’s debut album is up for three Brits this week – and has captivated fans from Billie Eilish to Michelle ObamaThere were fewer than a dozen people out in east London on a Saturday night in Paper Dress Vintage when Arlo Parks arrived on stage. The clothes shop by day turned live music venue by night had the then 17-year-old second on the bill, where she performed with a band made up of schoolfriends. Most of the audience were mates from sixth form. But there was also a scout from Tr...
Tags: Music, London, Culture, Pop and rock, Awards and prizes, Indie, Billie Eilish, Arlo Parks, Transgressive records, Michelle ObamaThere, Mike Harounoff, Transgressive Harounoff


‘My energy comes from optimism’: the hopeful music of spring 2021

In part two of our series on the musicians foregrounding hope in their songs, Esperanza Spalding, Rostam and more discuss the importance of positivityI started writing songs after my father died when I was 13. I used music to release the sadness that was flooding my heart and held on to my guitar like it was a float in an ocean. As an artist, I’ve always wanted to provoke chills, because to me that means I’ve connected with the spirit that’s giving me the music. Continue reading...
Tags: Music, Environment, Country, Culture, Pop and rock, Wildfires, Sexuality, Indie, Dance music, Jazz, Folk Music, Clubbing, Vampire Weekend, Coronavirus, Esperanza Spalding Rostam


‘If not hope, then what?’: the musicians finding optimism in dark times

Against a backdrop of Covid, a striking number of musicians, from hard rock to jazz, made music rich with positivity. In the first of a two-part series, they tell their storiesI had really given up on music after my mom passed away [in 2014], and then of course the record that I saw as my death rattle [2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet] got picked up in a big way. It was a very bittersweet moment where all these great things were happening in the wake of loss. I didn’t allow myself to feel ...
Tags: Music, Metal, Race, Mental Health, Culture, Pop and rock, Wildfires, Christianity, Indie, Dance music, Jazz, Peru, Folk Music, Americana, Bereavement, Coronavirus



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