Technics Headphones: Here is Sound

Technics headphonesI have something to admit. For the past five years, every record I’ve reviewed has come courtesy of my laptop’s speakers.

I appreciate this is a cardinal sin for a music reviewer. In my defence, I think I’ve become immune to the distress signals that frequently crackle out of the side of my keyboard. My CD player gave up the ghost a long time ago. Since then I’ve simply toddled along with my laptop in tow. The only other choice I’ve had is to upload particularly favourable tracks to my MP3 player and play purchased CDs in my car. I’m sat in front of my laptop all day. For the large part, music doesn’t make it beyond the hiss and spit of my good ol’ Toshiba.

I hadn’t realise it was creating such a racket until my family highlighted it to me. Looking for some country music related advice, this summer I hauled my laptop in the direction of my parents, Buffalo Clover’s new album blaring out of it as I went. My Mum’s first reaction was to shriek that I’d killed Dolly Parton. At this point, I knew something was wrong. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, my parents didn’t offer a solution to me in the form of money for some speakers. I’ve continued along my way, but from that day, I’ve known I’m maybe not giving some bands the best of chances.

That is until now. Last week, Panasonic very kindly offered me a trial run of their new Technics headphones range. I can test a pair of these headphones for seven days. That may be an unorthodox way of handing out promotional material, but it’s the deal I’m stuck with.

I’m pretty glad I am. Having worked out how to get the ear pieces to swivle around, I've given today over to rediscovering music through my temporary pair. You can guarantee I’ll be buying my own set of Technics headphones once these have been returned. It’s like sticking speakers inside your head, or plugging your CD drive into the back of your neck like what they do on The Matrix. Music hasn’t been clearer for me since err... well, never.

Today’s best offering via these Technics headphones has been Mirror Travel’s Mexico – a brilliant album that I’ve raved about before. Besides the lack of crackling, layers stand out perfectly and Lauren Green’s guitar swirls around your head like never before. I’ve also tried out Agnes Obel’s Aventine, Laura Stevenson’s Wheel, Beyonce’s surprise release and Public Service Broadcasting’s debut. To be honest, I’m beginning to wish I’d ranked Mirror Travel’s affair a little higher on my Top Ten Albums of 2013, due out on Monday. Just goes to prove my laptop wasn't doing some artists justice...

Twelfth Day of Halloween: DW is 8!

Issue 9Halloween is special to us. The eve of All Saints’ Day marks DrunkenWerewolf’s Christmas, birthday and heyday if ever there was one. In previous years we’ve celebrated with a booming house party that nearly landed us with an ASBO, a werewolf flashmob, a new music showcase and more besides. This year we’re keeping things digital, but there’s plenty to gorge on. Over the next twelve days, as per the carol, we’ll be posting tricks and treats to the g(l)ory of our readers.

Our first installment comes in the form of this, a special kind of retrospective. In 2013 DrunkenWerewolf suffers its eighth birthday – a decade away from the legal drinking age and creeping closer still to secondary school. To celebrate our hopefully ongoing life, our Constant Gardner Tiffany Daniels takes a look back at zine covers of years past, and discovers things her pickled mind had not-purposefully forgotten about.

DrunkenWerewolf began as an idea born out of frustration. By 2005 I was immersed in new music through legal and not so legal downloading sites, treasuring a huge selection of undiscovered artists thanks to recommendations from complete strangers. Weirdly, most of them were from New Mexico. The problem was, perhaps understandably given their source and the relative lack of blogs at the time, no British music publication covered these underground and up and coming acts, and I kind of wanted to know more.

Without stepping on the toes of our History section too much, what eventually came to light was the DrunkenWerewolf zine. This was a space for artists and writers to express their thoughts on new music in whatever form they saw fit. It was also a place for me to push new artists on the unsuspecting listener, and rant about Bad Music. Our team of illustrators put pencil to paper while a select few tapped away on keyboards in their squat-like bedrooms, churning out recommendations, reviews and features revolving around selected acts.

As a disclaimer, feel free to request a PDF of any of the zines listed below by emailing tiffany@drunkenwerewolf.com.

Issue 1: featuring Kat Flint, Art Brut, Frank Turner, UggaMugga, Harry and the Potters, Victory Collapse, Venus Bogardus, Oh Bijou

We’re going to say it; the first issue was fucking huge. It was so large I nearly gave up midway through and abandoned the project as an overenthusiastic, stupid notion. I spent the most part of Christmas 2007 sticking paper to the back of cereal boxes in a bad attempt to make the page design look pretty. Fortunately and despite my lack of Blue Peter knowledge, I caught the fever, and consequently the online blog became a lot more focused too. DrunkenWerewolf had at this point been around for three years, but like a dumbfounded toddler, we were only just finding our feet.

Issue 2: featuring Rhysmix, Captain Polaroid, Bishop Allen, Kitty Solaris, Manda Rin, Andrew Jackson Jihad, Old Time Relijun

I remember this issue specifically because Old Time Relijun continues to be most difficult musician I have ever encountered. The questions a writer sent to him were returned to me, the Editor, as “inadequate”. Three times. Eventually we pulled some sort of response from the singer songwriter, but it was so crammed full of theological theory I barely understood what he was saying.

Issue3Issue 3: The Bristol Special, featuring You and the Atom Bomb, Safetyword, Countryside, Rachael Dadd, Rasha Shaheen, Venus Bogardus, Paul Hawkins

The Bristol Special was realised over the course of the summer of 2006 but printed back up in Liverpool, where I was living at the time. Handily, a friend hosted a gig at Korova with You and the Atom Bomb and Safetyword later in the month, so copies were quickly dispatched and sold out. I didn’t really think about the possibility of this being an issue when I started the installment.

Issue 4: The Brighton Special, featuring The Go! Team, Talkshow Boy, Michael McLinn, Bela Emerson, Hamilton Yarns, I’m Being Good, Purr Records

One might ask why Talkshow Boy, a Melbourne based lo-fi musician, and Purr Records, then located in Bath, feature in a Brighton special. The answer is fairly simple: we ran out of acts. Or at least, the short lived sub-editor put in charge of this issue while I took my exams ran out of acts. In retrospect we shouldn’t have rushed it and I should have retained control, but the presence of The Go! Team and ambitions to make the zine bimonthly pushed the release.

Issue 5: featuring Lupen Crook, Kiran and the Night Owls, Untitled Musical Project, The Delta Fiasco, Planningtorock, Day for Airstrike, The Old Romantic Killer Band, Tim Holehouse

This is where I start to feel old, because I clearly remember putting this issue together, like it was yesterday. I remember the art work coming through and feeling particularly pleased with it. I can remember inserting the text around those alien themed borders. Jenny Hardcore lent us a photograph of hers for the front cover and it looks really professional and grown up. There were page numbers, and everything. It was a good day in the DW Design office.

Issue 6: featuring Jeremy Warmsley, Rose Kemp, Littlelostdavid, Pengilly’s, The Housewives, Betty & The Werewolves, Brontosaurus Chorus

This was a bad day in the DW Design office. All of the text slipped down on several pages to overlap the illustration. I photocopied 200 before I realised. Bad day. Bad, bad day.

Issue 7: featuring Polly Scattergood, Das Wanderlust, Penny Broadhurst, The Jealous Girlfriends, Serows, Jenny Hardcore

At this point several musicians had begun to write for us regularly. Penny, Laura from Das Wanderlust and Jeremy Warmsley all chipped in for at least five issues. I still attribute DrunkenWerewolf’s early success to their involvement. How it came about I can’t tell you. I was incredibly unorganised at this point so I think we basically lucked out.

Issue 8: featuring Caitlin Rose, Lisa Mitchell, Isa & The Filthy Tongues, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Haunted Stereo

Behold everyone: Caitlin Rose’s first ever piece of UK press, published around the beginning of 2007. Okay, so she’s rubbing shoulders with a future X Factor contestant, but we can’t always get it right, can we?

Issue 9Issue 9: featuring Mumford and Sons, Cherbourg, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Emily Stern, Esben and the Witch, The Ethical Debating Society, An Axe, Cuthbert and the Night Walkers

Cuthbert are the band that time forgot. They released one amazing song and then disappeared, the selfish so and so’s. Mumford and Sons, on the other hand...

Issue 10: featuring Jeremy Warmlsey, Lupen Crook, Das Wanderlust, Filthy Little Angels, House of Strange, OLO Worms, King Charles, Buffalo Clover

I can pinpoint this issue exactly because it was published for our 5th birthday party, the aforementioned ill-fated, ASBO threat inducing house party in November 2007. Though the line up is still stunning, we were a bit lazy and asked all of our regulars to contribute. It includes an amazing rant about education by Lupen Crook, specifically.

Issue 11: featuring Tristen, The Indelicates, Rachael Dadd, This is the Kit, Tristram, Laura Hocking, Naomi Hates Humans

Oh God this was confusing. I was going for Tristen, I accidentally booked Tristram, realised my mistake and booked both of them.

Issue 12: featuring Johnny Flynn, Frightened Rabbit, Lissie, Pearl and the Puppets, Adelaide’s Cape, Laura Stevenson and the Cans

Here marks the beginning of my obsession with all things Laura Stevenson. Also the first time anyone bellowed "HEY JOURNO" at me, courtesy of Lissie's tour manager.

Issue 13: featuring Mystery Jets, Paul Hawkins, Pete Roe, Bear Driver, Woodpecker Wooliams

There was a gap between Issues 12 and 13; how long I couldn’t tell you, but long enough for me to finally get my act together and sort out a coherent, fixed design. Consequently Issue 13 better resembles a magazine than what came before it, though it was still printed in the basement of the University of Liverpool’s library. I had to sneak in without a card at this point as I'd graduated and was poor.

Issue 14: featuring Kyla la Grange, Nat Johnson, Islet, This is the Kit, Heidi Talbot, Pengilly’s

The last issue from Liverpool before I moved back home to Bristol. I think we revisited Pengilly’s here because I felt so awful about their previous issue being shit. Also, we’ve interviewed This is the Kit more times than I thought.

Issue 15: featuring Melissa Auf der Maur, Jenny and Johnny, Emmy the Great, The Twilight Sad, K Anderson, Heathers

This issue nearly gave me a heart attack. Firstly Jenny Lewis’ PR actually offered us an interview with her. We didn’t have to beg or anything. And then, clearly drunk on life, I decided to give Melissa Auf der Maur a shot. It worked. I had to have a lie down followed by a stiff drink. This was a crowning moment on the DW timeline.

Issue 16Issue 16: featuring Jeffrey Lewis, Johnny Foreigner, True Womahood, Rhosyn, The Hysterical Injury, Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell

I interviewed Jeffrey in the basement of Cafe Kino, Bristol with his band sound checking behind me. It was loud, and he wouldn’t eat his dinner at the same time as talking to me because he said it was rude.

Issue 17: featuring The Thermals, Boy & Bear, Valentina, My First Tooth, Polly & the Billets Doux

With the exception of The Thermals, this issue is a bit boring. I think it was nearing Christmas, which would explain it.

Issue 18: featuring Follow That Bird, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Thomas Tantrum, The Coathangers, Roxy Rawson, Ghosting Season, Oax, Balto

This is an issue of bands that I continue to love while everyone else continues to ignore them. Oax are particularly worth checking out, and Follow That Bird are about to release a new album under the name of Mirror Travel.

Issue 19: featuring Slow Club, She Makes War, Beth Jeans Houghton, Youngblood Hawke, Bravo Brave Bats, Phil the Tremolo King

For this issue our fresh faced sub editor Alice Slater spoke to Phil the Tremolo King, now also a regular writer, about being generally awesome. It’s such an amazing, inspiring interview and definitely in my Top Five moments. Also the front cover of this issue looks nice.

Issue 20: featuring EMA, Marissa Nadler, Among Brothers, Love Inks, Emily Scott

A line up that reflects our move from zine to magazine; this issue also came with a cardboard cover and proper printed paper. It’s almost like we were moving towards greater things or something...

Introducing: WYATT

wyattA slow handclap and lazy guitar opens WYATT’s latest track “Trouble”. Followed by namesake Maddy Wyatt’s American drawl, at first the licked rock riff is deceiving, as the production hints at the fusion cool of Santigold and Sleigh Bells, but the song soon belts out a chorus fit for new country Kings and Queens Buffalo Clover.

Confused yet? It seem WYATT are content to cross states and genre boundaries. Their base is found smack bang in the centre of New York City, and "Trouble" was recorded in a Brooklyn studio and not on a dusty road to Nashville, but it’s still no surprise their self-titled EP found an audience at SXSW and CMJ last year, well before it rocked their hometown. With critical acclaim from Time Out New York dragging at their heels, it looks like the five-piece are set to crack their local scene this year at least.

Check out “Trouble” below.

Interview: Tristen

This interview was originally published in Issue #11, March 2010.

Tristen is a staple of the Nashville music scene, regularly playing shows alongside her contemporaries and gaining a lot of attention from the local press; she’s been dubbed ‘Best of What’s Next’ by PASTE Magazine and has recently played the NBN arena to debut her single “Matchstick Murder”. However, on this side of the Atlantic and like many artists before her, support is sorely lacking. In Tristen’s case, this is particularly perplexing considering the extent of her talents; her songs offer hints of pop, Americana and country alongside a smouldering vocal drenched in emotion, cigarette smoke and whisky slurs - utterly addictive and infinitely appealing to the ear.

Although she’s been performing and releasing material under her own name since she was a teenager, in 2009 Tristen released her first internationally available EP Dreamers Are Achievers to critical success. It can be downloaded for free from her BandCamp site: tristen.bandcamp.com. The twenty-something singer-songwriter is hoping to release an extended version of the EP, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, this summer, followed by a US tour.

DrunkenWerewolf’s Tiffany Daniels talks to the performer about her life before Nashville, sexism in the music industry, her current material and what she has planned for the future.

You’ve been making music from a young age and performing live since you were 14. What inspired you to first start penning your own songs? Does that still inspire you or have your motives changed?

It's hard to say, but I imagine because I was always singing as a child, writing songs was a natural way for me to express myself and my ideas as a teenager. I think that translates to my life now. I've grown so used to playing music and writing songs as a hobby, as something I can do fairly easily and enjoy doing more than anything else. I do try to make meaningful work and express my ideas to people through my songs. I'm sure that I am motivated by knowing that ultimately someone else will be listening to this song or I will be performing it for an audience. I'm sure that plays a part in the process.

What was the first song you ever wrote? Do you still play it?

I wrote my first song in 3rd grade and I still remember it because I was eight years old and the song is about a betrayed lover and it has a verse and a chorus. I don't play it but occasionally I'll think about it and it makes me laugh at what a dramatic child I was.

You’ve been performing and moving around the United States for several years; do you think your style has developed because of your relocations, or do you think you relocated because your style was progressing?

My style is always changing for many reasons. I'm always getting older, meeting new people, and seeing new places. Every person is a product of their experiences and influenced by their environment so I'm sure that living in Nashville has affected me artistically. But I still feel like I am chasing inspiration and fighting the bore war at all times. Moving around and having new experiences gives you a freedom to be who you want to be; there is no attachment to what you once were. I am usually ready to shed the things that make me complacent and comfortable in order to learn new things.

Do you still have ties to Los Angeles and Chicago [both cities Tristen has worked in]?

My family lives in Chicago and I still love that city.

A few of our writers and several of our readers are putting together a one off zine called VETO; it focuses on women in the music industry. What are your experiences of and thoughts regarding sexism in your profession?

[We’re] at the point now where [sexism] is uneducated and it’s unacceptable for men to admit they are sexist, but any person who understands the history of the subordination of women in the world knows that women aren't treated equally usually. There is a long history of programming that has to be reset. A lot of men still like beautiful, passive women who they can control and keep at home. A lot of women like being beautiful and passive and staying at home.

I think it's weak and lazy when women use sex instead of ideas to get ahead. I think it's shallow to get off on the attention men give you because they want to fuck you.

If you are a girl making music, you are constantly proving your proficiency. Men, usually the ones who are most unqualified, want to give you advice on how to further your career. A woman is a bitch if she’s outspoken. A strong woman is a novelty, a tart, or a new breed of female songwriter. But with all of this I am still privileged and completely capable so I can't complain about any hardship. I won't forsake my femininity. I'll still wear a dress, feel elegant in high heels, and put on make up. I still love flowers and decorating my house!

What great women of the past inspire you to write and perform?

Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Vashti Bunyan are some of my favorites.

Are you intending to stay in Nashville for the foreseeable future?

I won't be in Nashville forever but I'll definitely be here awhile. I'd love to get out of the United States at some point.

There’s been an upsurge of new music coming out of Nashville recently. What do you think has enticed musicians to join the city’s population? What made you move there?

Nashville has the best musicians. It's incredible. People come here from all over to be among the best and in that environment people are challenged to get better to survive. Nashville has no other prominent industry in town. It's all music, so it's rare to meet non-musicians. It's in the water here. This placed is steeped in its reputation and musical history. It's a great place to make records. The cost of living is low so it's much easier to be an artist. Musicians here appreciate the song and so it seemed natural for someone like me to bring my songs to Nashville.

We’ve interviewed Caitlin Rose and Buffalo Clover before now; what Nashville act should we interview next?

Cortney Tidwell! She is awesome. She's made a bunch of records (ALL GREAT!) and grew up in Nashville. She's covering a genre that is completely foreign to the music scene here. Imagine a modern Jefferson Airplane. She is a Nashville staple.

You’ve had a few short-lived projects with Caitlin Rose; do you intend to play with her on record in the future?

Definitely, Caitlin is one of my favorite singers of all time. We intend to play together for a long time, but only on grassy knolls.

What’s Holly House’s aim? Where are you all planning to take the collective?

Holly House is the name for a group of us who play shows and hang out together. I don't think it will go any farther than that. We are all doing our own thing and hanging out with each other afterward.

Who came up with the idea behind the “Matchstick Murder” video?

I wrote the script and did all the art direction. I cooked all the food and put together all the costumes. We made that video in a week and for a very small amount of money. Jeff Wyatt Wilson, the director, got all the awesome performances, and worked the cameras and lighting.

You’re planning to release a new album, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, this year. Will it differ from your Deceivers are Achievers EP?

Charlatans at the Garden Gate is 7 additional songs to the EP and new mixes of all the songs. We are also working on new artwork.

Do you have an exact release date yet?

Not yet, we are thinking this summer will be a good time.

Have you got any hopes to expand into the UK during 2010?

Not sure if it will happen this year but I want to come visit the UK as soon as I can!

What else do you have planned; will you tour to promote your new release?

I'm always touring the United States. I feel like I have home bases forming in New York and Chicago. But we are doing a full US tour to promote the record this year!