The Guardian Indie

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The Guardian
  1. Back with a new album, the Fannies frontman remembers his teenage years, from the kindness of the Specials to selling guitar strings to John Martyn – and trying to impress with his ice-skating skills

    I got my parents to buy me a bass, because I admired the Clash’s Paul Simonon and thought that would be the easiest instrument to learn. McCormack’s was a Glasgow institution: when the Beatles played the Apollo, when it was known as the Green’s Playhouse, the amps came from McCormack’s. I got a cheap Fender Precision copy and a Wem Dominator amp from there. Plugging in for the first time was an incredibly visceral experience because it was so loud. I moved on to guitar, but after I left school I didn’t have a job and so asked if I could work in McCormack’s, which was amazing aged 17. I got to meet the artists that came in when they were playing Glasgow. I was told that John Martyn never paid for his guitar strings so I handed them over and he went: “Thanks, wee man!” I got to test the latest synthesisers and the reason I’m good at tuning guitars is because I did it 5,000 times in McCormack’s. I could also play them all day. In those days, Sean Dickson [Soup Dragons], Francis McKee from the Vaselines and Duglas T Stewart [BMX Bandits] and myself went busking together. My first band was with Duglas, whom I was at school with. It’s completely ridiculous but we were called the Spanking Newts.

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  2. Whether her theme is desire or depression, Marie Ulven’s honesty, wit and willingness to share her secrets have turned the Norwegian musician into a Gen Z queer icon

    “I’ve never heard a song with people screaming they want to cut their hands off,” muses the Norwegian singer-songwriter Marie Ulven. Recently, she decided to rectify this with Serotonin, a joyfully effervescent pop-punk track about her long-standing battle with intrusive thoughts (produced by Finneas, Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator). For Ulven, writing about her mental health is an act of both catharsis and public service.

    “Just saying that you have intrusive thoughts is very liberating,” she says, hovering her phone camera close to her hoodie-encircled face. “I think at some point pretty much everyone will get some weird thought. Not everyone has them so intensely; I have OCD, so when I’m very sick I get them a lot and go crazy.”

    I don’t feel like I’m being really vulnerable because these are things that we all go through

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  3. (Metal & Dust/Ministry of Sound)
    The British trio stick to boilerplate emoting and bland imagery, but there are small sonic steps forward

    Given the icy pace and prevailing mournfulness of London Grammar’s last album, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, the British trio naming their third record Californian Soil might suggest they were warming up a bit. Not quite: a reluctance to relinquish their sonic crutches – heavily reverbed electric guitars, meandering melodies and restraint masquerading as reverence – and a lyrical propensity for gloominess means things haven’t thawed much.

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  4. They scored a UK No 1 single and the biggest-selling independent album ever. Thirty-seven years into their career, the California band ponder middle-aged sex – and being denied respect

    “It’s very fashionable now to say, ‘When we were young, we didn’t fit in,’” says Dexter Holland, frontman for multi-platinum punk-rockers the Offspring, Zooming from the band’s plush Orange County recording studio. “But it really was true for us in high school, where everything was about looks, athleticism and popularity. I mean, look at us!”

    Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman, guitarist and Holland’s long-standing foil, leans in and taps his milk bottle-lensed specs. “And you should have seen me back when I had braces and headgear,” he grins.

    There was no thought of a career or anything – we just wanted to be rad

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  5. The US indie star who has played with Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten and more is confronting emotional blindspots on her stirringly brilliant new album

    As the promo cycle for Jenn Wasner’s second album as Flock of Dimes kicked in recently, she felt eager to get back to work. Then she was struck by a new feeling. “Oh, but I don’t want to do anything?” she recalls from her green sofa on a sunny day in Carrboro, North Carolina, sounding bemused. “I would like to read my book and lie in the sun. A thought like that was so novel to me.”

    Over the past decade, Wasner seemed to have an unusually healthy relationship to her work. In 2011, she and fellow Baltimorean Andy Stack experienced a breakthrough with their third album as indie-rock duo Wye Oak, the ruminative and stormy Civilian: rave reviews, syncs on The Walking Dead and One Tree Hill, 200 gigs in one year. Burned out by their moment in the sun, Wasner decided to abandon the pursuit of career growth to remain connected to her music and unencumbered by external expectations, following in the footsteps of her irreducible hero, Arthur Russell.

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