The Guardian Indie

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The Guardian
  1. Time in prison helped the east Londoner reflect on his life. He’s now releasing a brilliant album that considers race, class solidarity – and the odd flirty, boozy night out

    Hak Baker is harking back to the east London of his childhood, before the oat milk lattes and experiential advertising creatives moved in. “Old boys taking me boxing, or to the scrap yard to flip tyres for 40 quid: that stuff gave me a sense of belonging,” he says. “But now when I look out my window, it’s just not the same. That old guard is being priced out, and if you say hello to someone in the street, they look at you like you’re weird. That’s not where I came from. Not at all.”

    Gentrification is one of the glum topics on the singer-songwriter’s debut album World’s End FM, alongside a host of others: colonialism, surveillance, depression. Then there are joyous songs like Doolally, where Baker flirts and boozes around a party sounding like the Streets on Fit But You Know It. Few other British albums this year are as vibrant, and true to life’s contradictions. “When people are low and it feels like world war three is on the balance, it’s hard to believe in yourself,” he says of its paradoxically cheery end-of-days vibe. “But if we’re all gonna die, I don’t want to spend the time being sad about it.”

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  2. From the unique sonic world of Yaeji to the dark folk music of Lankum, here are our picks of the best LPs from the first half of the year

    Perhaps the pandemic forced us to appreciate the art of lolling about, but for whatever reason, the sound of slacker indie is as popular as ever, and this London trio are peak practitioners. They sound as if they’d borrow your cigarettes outside a pub with the most cursory of thank yous – there’s shades of Justine Frischmann’s delivery at times – but they are far from aloof, covering a broad emotional and stylistic range: nervy post-punk, perky lo-fi pop and also a kind of sexy shoegaze on songs such as Changer, Horsey Girl Rider and the superb Missus Morality. Ben Beaumont-Thomas

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  3. With tracks about turning into a sea creature and going insane online, the Melbourne post-punk band captures a very contemporary existential crisis

    There’s a moment on RVG’s third album that made me laugh, then seconds later blink back tears. “They’re playing Drops of Jupiter, cause they never really knew ya,” Romy Vager sings – a genius rhyme – before the rest of the scene unfolds: “The room is so cold and dark / Your family are wearing masks / I can’t hear the eulogy /The stream is bad quality”. The kicker follows: “I don’t wanna see you go through a tab on Google Chrome”.

    That song, Tambourine, is a lament for a lost friend through the uncanny lens of a livestreamed funeral – a deeply intimate scenario experienced through a terribly impersonal medium. Tambourine captures that dichotomy beautifully, and encapsulates what the Melbourne post-punk band does best: unfurling the oddities of modern life through lyrics spiked with pathos and black humour.

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  4. (Sour Mash)
    The ex-Oasis man’s new album has hints of psychedelia and Easy Now is great but there aren’t enough big galumphing choruses to bellow into the night

    With Blur about to release a new album and Pulp’s return taking the form of a bustling summer gig schedule, all we need to make 2023 the return of the Britpop Big Three is an Oasis reunion. Alas, with Liam and Noel still scrapping, lately via the mediums of talkSPORT and Twitter, it looks like the closest we’ll get is another High Flying Birds record. Which is, admittedly, quite far. If the Gallaghers did miraculously patch things up at short notice, Noel’s solo project already has the perfect comeback track: Easy Now, the centrepiece of the outfit’s fourth album, is a vintage patchwork of lump-in-throat melodies, sleazy riffs, sentimental lyrics and a big galumphing chorus just begging to be bellowed into the cold black night.

    The rest of Council Skies – a title Noel nicked from a book by his mate, the artist Pete McKee – is less moreishly nostalgic. The title track is a tinny, chugging slice of 00s indie that seems to go out of its way to produce as generic lyrics as possible (“Cause life is unpredictable / You can win or lose it all”) and although there are a few nods to the bright psychedelia and good-time glam of the band’s previous album, Who Built the Moon?, there is also much greying meat-and-two-veg guitar pop, which occasionally veers into old-man gentleness (see: the actually rather Blur-ish Dead to the World). Despite a handful of the elder Gallagher’s irresistible everyman anthems, much of Council Skies is unambitious and generic to the point of tedium.

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  5. In a second feature marking 40 years of the Smiths, fans including Andy Burnham and Connie Constance consider how and why the band have endured

    ‘An astounding rush of real-time creativity’: 40 years of the Smiths’ Peel Sessions

    John Peel once described the Smiths as “just another band that arrived from nowhere with a very clear and strong identity”. Unlike other bands, he said, the Smiths weren’t trying to be T Rex or the Doors; they were simply the Smiths, a group whose aesthetic lineage was curiously hard to trace.

    What they left in their wake, of course, is far easier to map out: there are few indie bands since who don’t, at least in some way, take their cues from Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce and the recently departed Andy Rourke. As far back as their 1983 debut, the Smiths were inadvertently shaping ideas about how indie should interact with fandom, masculinity and the mainstream music industry, and writing music that would be referenced and reinterpreted by generations to come; over the past 40 years, you can see their aesthetic and spiritual influence in everyone from the Stone Roses to Oasis and the 1975.

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