US live music scene: “Without government support, you won’t have independent venues in America”

“I didn’t postpone the shows because of local guidance or venue guidance,” she told NME. “I just decided to myself.”

Credit: Squirrel Flower/Press

Williams has had to conduct her own research on COVID rates and venue safety while out on tour, telling us that’s it’s been hard to make moral decisions for “me, my band, my fans, and for the venue workers because there is no government guidance.”

For her, the lack of guidance for artists is a symptom of the government’s lack of respect and support for the livelihood of Americans in general.

“I don’t think the government gives a shit about any workers in the US right now,” Williams told us. “When you look at [president] Joe Biden he’s not giving [money] to anyone except for already wealthy people and bailing out banks and large businesses.”

In 2020, the government started multiple Federal Unemployment Programs to support those who could no longer work because of COVID. Those benefits expired in September of 2021.

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“At the beginning of the pandemic when the government was offering support, a lot of musician friends of mine were in a comfortable financial position for the first time in their lives,” the singer explained. “We’re now seeing so much amazing music that came from people being able to focus on their craft and not have to worry about being in debt or being behind on rent.”

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When asked how she handles COVID safety concerns without the support of a large team, Squirrel Flower told us: “I am effectively my own tour manager.”

“When you go to a venue, you’re essentially having to advocate for your needs and COVID adds another element to that,” she said. “You’re having to ask people working to wear masks or ask the venue to check proof of vaccination, even if the state doesn’t require it.”

For Williams, touring during COVID also means covering the added cost of masks, COVID tests, and even hotel rooms since crashing with friends could lead to accidentally contracting the virus.

“For anyone going to shows right now: if they have the means to, they should buy merch and support artists in any way they can outside of just buying a ticket,” she told us. “There are a lot more expenses behind the scenes now.”

Despite her frustration over the lack of government guidance across all venues, when asked about recent tour stops at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right and Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge, she said “at the root of it, everybody at these venues is doing the best they can.”

Credit: Getty / David A. Smith

Dayna Frank, CEO of First Avenue Productions and president of NIVA, has witnessed the struggle Williams told us about first-hand. “Working class and emerging artists have had the toughest time over the last couple of years without touring revenue,” she told NME.

Formed in March 2020, shortly after the pandemic shuttered the doors of almost every independent venue in the US, NIVA successfully lobbied to obtain $16billion in federal relief funding via the Save Our Stages Act, which passed as part of the COVID-19 relief bill in December of 2020.

“The grants were a god-send,” Frank told us. “I don’t want to swear, but it feels like a fucking miracle. I can’t overstate what the impact has been and will be for decades to come from this grant program. Without it, you wouldn’t have independent venues in America.”

She added: “That’s why you saw everyone fighting so hard in 2020, because we all see our books, we all know what the realities are of keeping our businesses open when there was no business, no resources, and no hope.”

Credit: Caitlin Abrams

Now, the coalition is lobbying for additional funds to deal with “inflation and worker shortages compounded by the fact that COVID is still ongoing.”

“There’s about $2billion left [in funding] and NIVA is advocating for more time [to use those funds],” Frank said. “Because of the shutdowns, there were fewer concerts and fewer events to utilize the money. At the same time, venues in urban areas that were shut down completely, have use for more funds.”

NIVA is also working on a proposal to open its relief program to businesses that were deemed ineligible for the first round of funding. Last month, the organisation spoke before the US House Small Business Committee. At the time, no-show rates for ticket-holders had hit a high of 50 per cent.

“That no-show rate, we call it the drop count, is one of the key metrics we watch for,” Frank said, noting that when rates reach 50 per cent “you can’t operate profitably for artists or venues.” As COVID rates have dropped, however, so has the rate of no-shows.

NIVA shared that currently “on average, across new venues, we’re seeing a 15 per cent [drop count] which is a massive improvement from 50 per cent. Industry standard in the before times was about three to five per cent, so we still have a little bit to go, but it’s certainly trending in the right direction.”

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Independent venue owners are hoping that the rate will continue to drop because, as Frank told us, when attendees don’t show up it’s “impossible to plan, you’re overstaffed, you have too much inventory and the entire economics are askew.”

“Artists and venues rely on customers entering the venue, buying drinks, buying merch, coming with friends, to make all of the finances of a concert work,” she said.

On how fans can assist in lowering no-show rates, Frank said: “If you have a ticket for a show that’s been rescheduled, and you can’t go to the new date or you’re exposed [to COVID] give your ticket to somebody who will go. Let them experience the band, let them experience live music.”

According to NIVA, independent venues have been hard at work ensuring the safety of fans who attend shows during the pandemic. The organisation recently distributed 200,000 KN95 masks to venues across the country, and has also worked with venues, promoters, and bands to push for vaccination checks and cleaning procedures so fans feel safe at shows again.

“The safety of concert-goers and fans are as important to us as it is to them because without them we don’t have a business and we don’t have this magical experience that we’ve worked so hard for,” Frank said. “Every independent venue owner I know is doing every single thing they can to keep everyone safe.”

Squid plays at Empty Bottle Credit: Ricardo E. Adame

Looking back on how his venue endured the past two years, Bruce Finkelman, owner of Chicago’s The Empty Bottle told NME: “I think our perseverance as a people and as a music scene has been amazing.”

Like many venue owners in the US, Finkelman has had to make his own decisions on which COVID protocols to follow for his venue because “a state could go ahead and mandate something and have a certain restriction and then the city could do something completely different.”

The team at The Empty Bottle decided to follow Center for Disease Control guidelines, noting that although they have to adhere to city and state mandates to keep the venue open, their main concern has been to “ensure that our families, our staff, our performers, and our guests are as safe as possible.”

He added: “The only thing that made sense was to take whatever advice we could from medical professionals and actually use that as our guidelines above and beyond the politicians.”

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Now that Omicron is subsiding and “there appears to be a little bit more comfortability with the idea of going back into a venue and seeing performances,” Finkelman is excited to welcome fans back, adding that, “as a venue owner, there’s nothing better than being able to see our spaces utilized as they were intended.”

“The most important thing for all of the independent venues is that we want to be around,” he told us. “I speak from Chicago having one of the best music scenes in the world and groups like CIVL (Chicago Independent Venue League). We’re concerned with making sure our music scene gets preserved for years and years to come.”

Though there’s still uncertainty surrounding how long certain protocols will be in place and if new variants of COVID will arise, the Chicago venue owner said that The Empty Bottle is starting to feel the way it did before the pandemic.

Dry Cleaning perform at The Empty Bottle Credit: Ricardo E. Adame

“There is a spot at the end of the bar where you can see the bartenders working and you can see the band and you can see the people,” he said. “That’s my favourite place on earth.

“One of the things I looked forward to throughout the pandemic was being able to sit on that stool again and see that happen again. It’s been pretty amazing to slowly get more and more glimpses of that as we move towards whatever this post-pandemic normal is.”

Last week, Dr Ross McKinney Jr., an infectious disease specialist, and chief scientific officer of The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), told NME that although “we may be in a quiet period in terms of COVID” during this upcoming music festival season “there’s still no way to tell” if that will last.

Though Dr Mckinney Jr. said he understands why events would “just throw their hands up and say ‘It’s not worth the effort’,” he still thinks that “it’s the right thing to do to require vaccination.”

“When people are vaccinated, they are less likely to get sick themselves and less likely to make others ill,” he told NME. “It’s not perfect, but right after your booster [you can have] as high as 90 per cent protection against getting infected at all and later on you’re still less likely to get seriously ill. Even if you do get infected, your period of being infectious will likely be shorter.”

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Phoebe Bridgers on first time texting Taylor Swift: “It was just a total high”

Now, speaking to Billboard, Bridgers has given her side of the story, explaining that at first she thought the text was from The National‘s Aaron Dessner.

“I got this random text from Aaron Dessner that was really weirdly worded for him,” she said. “And I was like, ‘What the f–k is this?’ And as I was reading it, I [realized], ‘Oh, my God, it’s from Taylor Swift.’

She continued: “We started texting about all kinds of stuff. It was just a total high. It felt like when you meet someone at a party and you’re in the corner all night being like, ‘Me too!’”

Bridgers then revealed that she and Swift have still not met in person. “I’m excited for when we hang out for the first time,” she said. “We’ve only been very [COVID-19], online friends.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Bridgers was asked about the future of Boygenius – the indie-rock supergroup she plays in alongside Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus – and whether they plan on releasing a follow-up to their 2018 self-titled EP, which NME called “a record that leaves you yearning for more” in a five-star review.

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“Since that band started, our plans have been like, ‘Whenever it’s easy and fun.’ I’m sure we will, but none of us have gotten to tour our own solo [albums], so we’re just meeting up whenever we can,” Bridgers said, adding: “Maybe we’ll try to go on a vacation or something. Maybe the next time we hang out will not be for music.”

Back in November, Boygenius reunited at a San Francisco charity event, marking the first time they’ve performed together since 2018.

The one-off benefit gig took place at Saint Joseph’s Arts Society, with all proceeds from the event going to the Bay Area nonprofit Bread & Roses.

Bridgers has kept incredibly busy in the year-and-a-half following the release of her second album, ‘Punisher’, launching her own record label (Saddest Factory) and dropping the ‘Copycat Killer’ EP of reworks. ‘Punisher’ earned itself a five-star review, and was previewed by the singles ‘Garden Song’, ‘Kyoto’, ‘I See You’ and ‘I Know The End’.

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Watch Noel Gallagher talk about the last time he spoke with David Bowie

Gallagher went on to explain that he first met Bowie after seeing him perform at the Wembley Arena – Bowie did four gigs on that stage in November of 1995, playing to a cumulative 200,000 Londoners in support of his ‘Outside’ album. Gallagher’s last interaction with Bowie was after the 2014 BRIT Awards, where Gallagher and Kate Moss accepted Bowie’s award for Best Male Solo Artist.

“The very next night, I got an email pinged through on my iPad,” Gallagher explained. “It just said, ‘Thanks for the shoutout last night. Keep writing, love David.’ And I was thinking, ‘David? Who’s David? I don’t know anybody called David.’ And then it slowly dawned on me, so I emailed back straight away, ‘Oh, no problem mate…’ And then he emailed back straight away, and I was like, ‘Am I in a conversation with David Bowie?’

“Turns out it was in fact David Bowie, and he was like ‘Oh, keep writing,’ and I was like, ‘Start gigging.’ He was a dude. A bit too tall for my liking, but still, a bit of a dude.”

As for his favourite song from the Bowie catalogue, Gallagher rounded off a few particular tracks from his ‘80s output – specifically ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Blue Jean’ – but noted that “the one that [he] always go[es] back to” is ‘Let’s Dance’ because “there’s not enough dancing in the world”.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Bill Nighy was cast as the lead role in a forthcoming TV reboot of Bowie’s The Man Who Fell To Earth. The classic sci-fi movie, based on Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel of the same name, marked one of Bowie’s most memorable roles, starring as Thomas Jerome Newton – an alien posing as a human in an attempt to save his home planet.

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The new Showtime adaptation was first announced in 2019, and is set to premiere later this year. Commenting on the series recently, NME writer Matt Charlton said the makers should “tread carefully around Bowie’s legacy”. A graphic novel adaptation – written by Dan Watters (Cowboy Bebop, Lucifer) and illustrated by Dev Pramanik (Dune: House Atreides) – will also launch in 2022.

Back in January, Gallagher covered Bowie’s 2013 track ‘Valentine’s Day’, performing it as part of a special livestream to celebrate what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday.

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Sofi Tukker announce new album ‘Wet Tennis’, share new self-love single ‘Original Sin’

“‘Wet Tennis’ is an acronym that stands for: ‘when everyone tries to evolve, nothing negative is safe’ and that’s what this song is all about. We live in a troubled world, it’s not our fault if we have trouble sometimes. That’s part of what makes us human. But when we evolve together and celebrate instead of judge each other, we can move through negativity into a more optimistic way of life.”

Sofi Tukker explained that the lush greenery and sunlight featured in their playful ‘Original Sin’ music video was intended to create a “Garden of Eden” for the world they’re creating with their new album.

“It’s a place beaming with sexual freedom and colorful possibilities,” they said. “At first, we see everybody in their traditional roles, wearing all white, clapping politely, acting as one “should” during a tennis match, but as the world unfolds, we see that everyone is a freak. At the end of the video, that freakiness is liberated as we all look up to the ‘Wet Tennis’ statue in the sky.”

Along with their dancefloor-worthy self-love anthem, the band dropped a trailer for ‘Wet Tennis’. Watch it below.

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The genre-defying pop stars also shared dates for their 2022 world tour. The tour starts in Washington, D.C. on May 21 and continues for 17 dates through the US and Canada. The pre-sale for the North American leg starts February 8 with general on sale on February 11th. Tickets are on sale here. See a full list of tour dates below.

Credit: Press

MARCH
5 – San Diego, CA – CRSSD Festival (Live Set)
25 – 27 – Miami, FL – Ultra Music Festival (Live Set)
31 – Cancun, Mexico – Tiesto: The Trip (DJ Set)

MAY
21 – Washington, D.C. – 9:30 Club
23 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
25 – Brooklyn, NY – Avant Gardner The Brooklyn Mirage
26 – Boston, MA – Roadrunner
28 – Quebec City, QC – Imperial Bell
30 – Montreal, QC – MTELUS

JUNE
1 – Toronto, ON – HISTORY
2 – Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
3 – Chicago, IL – Radius
6 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
8 – Denver, CO – The Mission Ballroom
9 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
11 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
14 – Seattle, WA – The Paramount Theatre
16 – Berkeley, CA – Greek Theatre
18 – Los Angeles, CA – Shrine Exposition Hall
20 – San Diego, CA – SOMA

JULY
9 – Barcelona, Spain – Cruilla Festival (DJ Set)
15 – Lisbon, Portugal – Super Bock Super Rock (DJ Set)
22 – Byron Bay, NSW Australia – Splendour in the Grass Festival (Live Set)

In 2020, Sofi Tukker sat down with fellow electropop great’s Icona Pop‘s to discuss their collaboration ‘Spa’ for NME’s Friends Like These series. “We were [already] big fans of Icona Pop. I think in our first conversation we were like: ‘We have to work together!” Hawley-Weld said of the collab. “The energy is so good here, let’s do something!’”

In a three-star review of their 2019 EP ‘Dancing On The People’ NME called the electronic hitmaker’s music, “Sugary-sour electro-gloop, with a bittersweet chase, it’s a glimpse of the feelings that send people running for the dancefloor in the first place.”

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Alice Cooper says he doesn’t think “rock ‘n’ roll and politics belong in the same bed together”

Nugent recently called Bruce Springsteen a “dirtbag” for “supporting communists” has backed the baseless conspiracy theory that Antifa and Black Lives Matter activists were behind the US Capitol riots, and confidently claimed systemic racism doesn’t exist.

Tom Morello also defended his unlikely friendship with Nugent in an interview with NME last year, when he said that although they “certainly have differences, I consider him a friend”. The Rage Against The Machine guitarist, whose political views are a stark contrast to Nugent’s went on to say he “reserves the right to be friends with anybody”.

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Elsewhere in the new interview, Cooper also shared his personal view on being vocal about politics.

“I don’t ever talk politics… I hate politics. I don’t think rock ‘n’ roll and politics belong in the same bed together, but a lot of people think it does — because we have a voice, and we should use our voice. But again, rock and roll should be anti-political, I think,” he said. “When my parents started talking about politics, I would turn on The [Rolling] Stones as loud as I could. I don’t want to hear politics, and I still feel that way.”

The rock icon went on to explain that he wanted his show to be an escape from the news, before pointing out the fact that he has involved political imagery in his live show.

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“My music and my show is designed to give you a vacation from CNN, you know what I mean? I’m not preaching anything up there, and I’m not knocking anybody. If I do a thing like on ‘Elected’, which we would always do during the elections, and I’d bring out [Donald] Trump and Hillary [Clinton] to fight, and both of them would get wiped out!” he said about performing the first single from his sixth studio album ‘Billion Dollar Babies’.

“That’s what was funny about it. If you’re in the political theater, you’d better be able to take a joke. So, that’s okay. I don’t mind the satire of it, but I don’t ever go up there and tell you who to vote for,” he added.

This is not the first time Cooper has opened up about his anti-political stance. In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, he said, “I don’t like to mix politics and rock ‘n’ roll,” adding, “When musicians are telling people who to vote for, I think that’s an abuse of power. You’re telling your fans not to think for themselves, just to think like you. Rock ‘n’ roll is about freedom — and that’s not freedom.”

Alice Cooper (Picture: Getty)

He also said rock stars sharing their opinions was, “the worst idea ever” because “we’re not smarter than anybody else. I mean, why do you think we’re rock stars?”

Though he may not have an optimistic view of politics, he does feel confident about the future of rock and roll. In a video interview with NME last year, Cooper said, “rock ‘n’ roll is where it should be right now”, adding: “We’re not at the Grammys; we’re not in the mainstream. Rock ’n’ roll is outside looking in right now, and that gives us that outlaw attitude.”

Last month, Cooper revealed he is working on his 29th and 40th studio albums simultaneously. “They’re two entirely different kinds of albums, but they’re Alice Cooper, pure rock ’n’ roll albums,” he said. His most recent studio album ‘Detroit Stories’ was released in February 2021.

He is also scheduled to undertake a co-headlining UK arena tour with The Cult and a run of US dates later this year, as well as appearing at Graspop Metal Meeting and the Monsters Of Rock cruise.

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Watch Lucy Dacus’ nostalgic new video for ‘Kissing Lessons’

With the new video announcement, Dacus also shared plans to release ‘Kissing Lessons’ and ‘Thumbs Again’ as a 7” on June 3. ‘Thumbs Again’ was shared in November of last year and is a reworked version of her track, ‘Thumbs’ with added electric guitar, synth, and drums to better replicate her live performance of the fan favourite. The physical copies of the singles are available for pre-order here.

‘Kissing Lessons’ was originally recorded during the sessions for Dacus’ third album ‘Home Video’.

Credit: Press

In a four-star review of the album, NME wrote that Dacus, “transports us with gawky, awkward vignettes from her youth”. ‘Kissing Lessons’ with its lyrics on childhood infatuation and infectious guitar sound continues with that theme.

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Dacus will head out on a US tour next week and shared that she’ll be playing a headline performance at New York Cityʼs SummerStage in Central Park on July 21 with tickets set to go on sale this Friday (February 4). You can purchase tickets here.

Last November saw Dacus reunite with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker for their first performance together as Boygenius in three years. Fans eagerly await news of more music and shows to come.

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Mitski on how she feels about returning to music: “Terrible. Absolutely terrible”

“You develop this constant ticker in your mind of people’s potential criticism or commentary on whatever you’re making, even in the middle of making it,” she told the BBC. “And that will never really go away, I don’t think.”

She also discussed the real reason that she stepped away wasn’t “physical exhaustion”, but being overwhelmed by the “super-saturated” consumerism of the music industry.

“It was simpler to just explain it away as physical exhaustion which, of course, was part of it,” she said. “But looking back, it was more mentally [about] being a working person in the music industry, which is like this super-saturated version of consumerism.”

Mitski also said that during her time away from music she was “filled with regret and grief” thinking “maybe I’d made a big mistake”. At one point, she couldn’t listen to other people’s music without crying.

“I would think, ‘Oh my God, I wish I was still doing this,’ and I would just tear up, which is pathetic,” she explained. Though she always planned to come back, and referred to music as “the only thing I can do”, she admitted to still having complicated feelings about the release of her latest album.

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“How does it feel to be releasing a record again? Terrible. Absolutely terrible,” she said.”It’s like, ‘Oh Jesus, here we go again. I thought I was having fun and now it’s no fun anymore’.”

Despite Mitski’s complicated feelings, fans have been anticipating the release of her latest work since the release of 2018’s critically-acclaimed ‘Be The Cowboy’.

In the four-star review of ‘Laurel Hill’, NME said that the album “blends hints of disco strut with a bold sense of theatrical” and called it her “grandest music yet.”

Her lengthy US tour kicks off on February 17 at The Orange Peel in Asheville, North Carolina, before she returns to the UK and Europe for a full tour through April and May. She’ll also be supporting Harry Styles at a run of UK stadium shows in June amidst a summer of festival appearances.

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Eels’ Mark E Everett on wanting to “bury the hatchet” with Colin Firth

“I’m making this last plea. Colin, please, let’s bury the hatchet. The world is waiting for this.”

E clearly wants no bad blood staining the largely bright-side vibe of ‘Extreme Witchcraft’, his 14th album, and second of the pandemic following 2020’s ‘Earth To Dora’.

“I wasn’t even thinking about making another album because it hadn’t been that long since the last one,” he said, but when ‘Novocaine For The Soul’s video director Mark Romanek got in touch out of the blue to tell him he’d been playing Eels’ 2001 fourth album ‘Souljacker’ – co-written with PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish – during the pandemic, it inspired E to re-establish contact with Parish.

“When we’re in the same town as John he’ll usually jump on stage and play with us,” E said. “But we hadn’t made anything in the studio since ‘Souljacker’, I realised. I know that he’s a busy man but I just thought ‘you know, I’ll just check in with him and see if he’s interested in seeing what we might make now. It just happened to be good timing. He was in between some projects and had a little bit of time and he was interested and immediately started sending me ideas. It began this rapid-fire back and forth between us. A few weeks later we had an album.”

As the album drops, E sat down with NME to tell us about

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Credit: Gus Black

NME: The early part of the album has a retro garage rock feel – was that from John or from you?

E: “Definitely from him. It’s very John Parish. It was definitely stuff that I felt like doing. The last album ‘Earth To Dora’ was primarily kind of singer-songwritery and I definitely felt like rockin’ a bit this time… Sometimes I would say ‘make it a little more voodoo’ or ‘give me something spooky’ or whatever, but for the most part we were on the same wavelength.”

It’s also a quite a loud record for one that was apparently recorded mostly at 4am, when Parish’s files would arrive in LA?

“Which is tricky when you have a four-year-old sleeping in the other room. I always had to keep an eye on the volume. It’s definitely a new way of working, the whole process was a new way of working in. It’s definitely not as much fun as making a record not in pandemic conditions – it can be frustrating having to get up at four in the morning to check the latest thing John Parish has sent me so I can send my part back to him before he goes to bed and before my son wakes up, and sometimes that that’s just to tweak something small that would take a minute to do when we were in the same room together. It can be frustrating how long it can take, but it was always exciting because of the music.”

Did you find you could come up with good ideas at dawn?

“I’ve been a morning kind of person for a while and particularly when you have a little kid, but I’m a very poor excuse of a rock star. A real rock star’s going to bed at 4am.”

If ‘Earth To Dora’ traced a relationship from start to finish, is ‘Extreme Witchcraft’ a coming-to-terms-with-it sort of record?

“I think everything I write is trying to come to terms with life. But it’s just a song-by-song basis. For me each song has its own story and I’m not really conscious of any one particular theme or handle to put on this whole album. I think it’s one of the keys to happiness is to just try to be conscious and grateful for the good stuff.”

Certainly ‘Strawberries And Popcorn’ is a song that’s revelling in post-relationship freedoms – eating junk for dinner, never cleaning and so on.

“That song is about a guy who has recently found himself independent from the relationship that he was in and he’s trying hard to celebrate the good feelings of independence, but there’s a part that illuminates that it’s not all good. The original inspiration for that title was having a little kid – I’m sure a lot of parents can relate – sometimes you forget to feed yourself and one evening I realised I hadn’t had anything for dinner and I was too tired to make anything so I just looked at the kitchen counter and I saw my son’s bowl of half-eaten popcorn and half-eaten strawberries from earlier in the day and I just thought ‘fuck it, I’m just gonna eat that for dinner’. Which I have to say was a wonderful combination. Really sweet and savoury, I’d recommend it.”

And ‘Good Night On Earth’’s message seems to be no matter how bad things are, it’s still great because we’re here.

“Exactly. I was just sitting on my back porch one night in the thick of the pandemic and all the crazy awful things happening in the world and I just thought ‘you know what, if I don’t think about all that right now, this is a pretty nice moment, I’m having a nice evening’. So I think it’s important to acknowledge and hang on to the good moments.”

Eels’ Mark ‘E’ Oliver Everett (Picture: Gus Black / Press)

There’s a track called ‘Learning While I Lose – are you?

“The original inspiration for that title came from playing the game on my phone, Words With Friends. I have a friend who’s somewhat autistic, on the spectrum, and she’s a really amazing Words With Friends player that I can never beat because, because of her autism, she can with no effort go through every possible letter combination until she finds some crazy long word that you’ve never heard of that scores 100 points.

“But they have the option to click on the definition of a word so I told her I enjoyed playing with it because I always look at the definition of these crazy words that she finds and I just want to learn while I lose. That’s kind of been my philosophy since I was a little kid, I was a scrawny kid who was one of the last to be picked for sports teams and I early on decided I’m not gonna worry about winning games. I’m just going to enjoy that I get to play.”

Latest single ‘The Magic’ is a bit of an egotistical song: ‘Try me, you’ll find me, a personality, That you can’t get enough of once you can feel the magic…’

“I don’t know if I’d call it egotistical because the guy in that song is acknowledging that he thinks he’s all that, but not everybody does. That was probably unconsciously inspired maybe by. It’s an awkward time to find yourself divorced right before a pandemic that’s going on to year three and you have a kid who’s not old enough to be vaccinated yet – it’s impossible to date. So I am left feeling, during these pandemic years, often like what do I do with all this magic?”

Can you pinpoint what the Mark E Everett magic is?

“The people that I have shared the magic with knew exactly what I’m talking about.”

Everyone’s selling their catalogues for vast amounts of money at the moment. How much are you going to be after when you decide to cash in?

“How much did Springsteen get?”

Something like £400 million.

“I want £400 million and one cent. I gotta be the top dog.”

‘Extreme Witchcraft’ is out now. Eels head out on a full UK and European tour from March.

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Holly Humberstone shares heartbreaking new single ‘London Is Lonely’

“I kind of lost myself in the city. I didn’t exactly know who I was anymore, and so going home and writing felt like my safe space to process everything. It’s funny now listening to the song almost two years on, post-pandemic, and feeling like nothing much has changed at all.”

She concluded: “I’m still trying to find my place here and make it my home and so it felt right to put this song out into the world right now, when so many other people are probably feeling lost right now too.”

You can listen to ‘London Is Lonely’ below, as well as watching Humberstone perform it live.

‘London Is Lonely’ comes as Humberstone gears up to release her debut album, which, as the Lincolnshire native told NME last year, was nearing completion but a while off from hitting shelves.

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“An album is a really daunting thought,” she admitted. “Being done with my debut album and having that much work, and all of it being final, is so scary – so I think it’s going to be a while [before it’s released].

“I’ve had loads of time now to just experiment and try different things out, and to have fun with my writing without the pressure.”

Humberstone’s latest release, her second EP, ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’, came out last November via Polydor/Darkroom/Interscope. It included the singles ‘Scarlett’, ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’ (a co-write with Matty Healy of The 1975), ‘Haunted House’ and the title track.

In a four-star review of ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’, NME praised the EP – the follow-up to 2020’s ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ – as “a light-hearted ode to how Humberstone sees that heartbreak is behind her and hope is always just ahead, a flame that keeps reigniting despite all attempts to extinguish it.”

The record also made it to NME’s list of the best EPs and mixtapes of 2021, while her upcoming full-length is one of our 20 albums to get excited about in 2022.

December saw Humberstone crowned as the winner of this year’s BRITs Rising Star Award. The singer-songwriter follows in the hallowed footsteps of other artists who have won the prize, including the likes of Adele, Celeste, Florence & The Machine, Sam Fender, Ellie Goulding, and last year’s winner Griff.

The day she received the award, Humberstone teamed up with Sam Fender for an acoustic version of the latter’s hit single ‘Seventeen Going Under’.

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Brandon Boyd looks for a signal on new track ‘Dime In My Dryer’

He continued: “All of a sudden it would stop for brief intervals and in those gaps is where I began to see the parts of my life and my general experience that offered more signal and less noise.”

‘Dime In My Dryer’ follows the singles ‘Pocket Knife’ and ‘Petrichor’, all three of which are set to appear on ‘Echoes And Cocoons’, the follow-up to Boyd’s last solo project, 2013’s ‘Sons Of The Sea’. The LP – which is due out March 11 – is produced by Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer John Congleton.

Listen to ‘Dime In My Dryer’ below:

Discussing his upcoming album in a recent interview with NME, Boyd said: “It’s really cool. It’s a very different record for me.”

“What I’m going to do is put out a single every five or six weeks and then hopefully drop the actual album sometime in February,” he explained.

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As for Incubus, the band’s most recent project was last year’s ‘Trust Fall (Side B)’ EP, released via ADA Worldwide. Asked about the progress of the band’s next album, the follow-up to 2017’s ‘8’, Boyd said the band hope to have something out by spring next year.

“We went out and did some shows and we’re all rehearsed up and ready to play,” said Boyd. “Our intention is to put together a new group of songs, whether it’ll be an EP or an LP, I’m not sure, but we’re hoping to have that done sometime by spring – but there’s a lot of hope in that statement.”

In October, Incubus celebrated the 20th anniversary of their seminal fourth album ‘Morning View’ with a livestream concert of the record performed in its entirety at the Malibu beach house it was originally recorded in.

Speaking on the initial decision to record the album in the house on Morning View Drive in Malibu, Boyd talked to NME about the making of the record and how they wanted to be free from distractions during the recording process.

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Listen to The Rills’ jaunty new single ‘Do It Differently’

On the new track’s breezy, jangle-driven chorus, frontman Mitch Spencer sings: “Well you could say/ We like to do it differently/ We don’t care for your boring ways/ And I say I won’t even give it time of day/ We like to do it differently.”

Have a listen to ‘Do It Differently’ below:

The titular ‘Do It Differently’ EP is due out on May 6 via Nice Swan Records, with pre-orders open now on The Rills’ BandCamp page. Though its full tracklisting is yet to be revealed, the EP – hyped up as “all taught, propulsive rhythms and witty, acerbic vocals” – will also feature The Rills’ 2021 single ‘Skint Eastwood’.

Speaking to NME last November, Spencer said he had hopes for the EP’s release to catapult The Rills to a larger audience. “I don’t know if this is because we’re from Lincoln, but right from day one we’ve been like: ‘We want to headline Glastonbury, we want to be the biggest fucking band we can be’,” he said.

Likening their current slate of ambitions to the Arctic Monkeys song ‘Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But…’, bassist Callum Warner-Webb added: “Alex Turner is singing about getting advice from people telling them to just do gigs at local pubs. That makes you think, ‘No, I’m not going to limit myself to a situation where it makes sense to be in a band in a small town. I’m going to completely go against that and run with this idea – even if it kills me’.”

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The Rills were also named on the NME 100 list for 2022, where Andrew Trendell wrote that the band “pen guitar bangers about teenage boredom, smalltown ne’er-do-wells and living for the weekend” and labelled their brand to be “a heady dose of reality and one hell of a laugh”.

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Kanye West named as a suspect in criminal battery case

“A fan says he saw Kanye sitting in his car and walked up to the window to ask him for an autograph,” journalist Gigi Graciette said in her televised report. “Words were exchanged – what those words are, well, that’s all part of the police investigation – but the fan told officers that Kanye jumped out of his car, called him some … words not suitable for television, and then punched him, knocking him to the ground.”

Graciette noted that West is under investigation by police, however the alleged incident is being treated as a misdemeanour battery case – which carries a maximum jail sentence of six months – meaning it’s unlikely West will be formally charged.

Shortly after the news was aired, TMZ posted a video of West engaging in a heated exchange between two unknown figures in a public street. The surreptitiously filmed clip, said to be shot “sometime between Wednesday night and Thursday morning”, appears to show West yelling: “Did y’all say that or not? Because that’s what happening right fucking now.”

The publication reported that West was seen earlier in the night at West Hollywood supper club Delilah.

NME has reached out to representatives of West for comment.

The news comes just hours after West was announced as one of three headliners for this year’s Coachella (alongside Billie Eilish and Harry Styles), where he’s billed under his legal name, Ye. Yesterday (January 12) also saw the rapper reveal that he’s planning to release a new song – likely featuring Pusha T, The Game and DJ Premier – later this week.

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In more unusual news, it was reported on Wednesday (January 11) that West was planning a trip to Moscow later this year, where he would host a performance with his Sunday Service troupe and meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A representative for West later called the reports “entirely fabricated”.

This week has also seen West share a new music video for the ‘DONDA’ cut ‘Heaven And Hell’, as well as a trailer for the forthcoming Netflix documentary Jeen-Yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy. At the start of the week, footage emerged of Kanye letting a fan freestyle for him in a New York City street.

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Listen to Yard Act’s tongue-in-cheek new single ‘Rich’

He continued: “I also wrote it because I thought it would be quite funny if Yard Act made a shit ton of money after I’d written an anti-capitalist concept album. It’ll be funny if I’m singing this song on stage when I’ve made my mint. At worst it makes no sense, at best it comes off as pretentious, but that’s the point I’m trying to make when I write anything really.

“Things only really make sense if you exclude the bits that don’t back up the point you’re trying to make. I’m a hypocrite just like everyone else. I don’t have the answers and I’m just trying to do the best I can. It’ll never be good enough though. Enjoy the ride, life is short and you never know what’s round the corner.”

Take a look at the video for ‘Rich’, directed by longtime collaborator James Slater, below:

Initially set for release today (January 7) before being pushed back due to vinyl pressing delays, ‘The Overload’ is now slated to land on January 21 via Zen FC. In addition to ‘Payday’ and ‘Rich’, singles from the record include its title track and ‘Land Of The Blind’.

On the day of its release, Yard Act will embark on a run of in-store performances across the UK, starting with two back-to-back gigs at Rough Trade East in London. They’ll play a third show in London the next day (as well as Kingston-Upon-Thames’ Pryzm), before hitting Southsea, Brighton, Oxford, Bristol and Nottingham.

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From there, the band have full-scale tour dates booked all the way though to the end of May, with stints lined up for the UK, Europe and North America. The festivals Yard Act are due to perform at this year include SXSW in the US, Deer Shed in North Yorkshire, Liverpool’s Sound City, London’s Wide Awake and the Eurosonic Noorderslag in the Netherlands.

More details on the band’s tour dates can be found on their website.

Back in October, Elton John praised Yard Act as one of his new favourite bands. The legendary multi-hyphenate told NME in a recent cover story: “It’s that kind of talking with the music behind it – Channel Tres does that a little bit: he mixes hip-hop and talking with electronic music, and it’s a different ballgame… I can’t do it but I love it and I wonder how they do it. There’s a lot of that on the album.”

The band were also recently nominated for the BBC‘s prestigious Sound Of 2022 title, however they lost out to PinkPantheress.

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Wolf Alice postpone 2022 UK tour due to surge in COVID-19 cases

Read the full statement below:

pic.twitter.com/RpnVnd4p05

— Wolf Alice (@wolfalicemusic) January 4, 2022

New dates for the UK tour are yet to be confirmed, however Wolf Alice say they “will be making an announcement in the following weeks”. All tickets for the old shows will remain valid, with refunds available for any punters unable to make the new dates.

At the time of writing, the band are still booked in to embark on their European tour in February. That’s set to keep them occupied until the first week of March, with a slate of festival appearances scatted throughout the rest of the year.

Wolf Alice released their third album, ‘Blue Weekend’, back in June via Dirty Hit. In a five-star review, NME’s Rhian Daly called it “the group’s most cohesive listen, [which] keeps intact the restless spirit that makes their work so unpredictable and exciting”.

Wolf Alice previously also brought their new record to a tiny show at Kingston venue Pryzm as part of a tour supporting the Music Venue Trust’s Revive Live campaign. Reviewing the show, NME wrote: “What’s impressive is how seamlessly the band shift gears, segueing from tender vulnerability to teeth-baring riffs without missing a beat.”

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Speaking to NME, bassist Theo Ellis said that it was “amazing” to be back out on the road post-COVID restrictions. “There’s such a huge and different community of people that have been affected by [the pandemic] in the music world,” he said. “It’s not just us – it’s all of our crew, all the people who work at these festivals, all the people who work at venues.”

Wolf Alice’s postponed UK tour dates are:

JANUARY 2022
5 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
7 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
8 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom
9 – Newcastle, City Hall
10 – Norwich, UEA
12 – Manchester, O2 Apollo
13 – Manchester, O2 Apollo
14 – Sheffield, O2 Academy
15 – Liverpool, O2 Academy
18 – London, Eventim Apollo
19 – London, Eventim Apollo
20 – London, Eventim Apollo

22 – Southampton, O2 Guildhall
23 – Bexhill-on-Sea, De La Warr Pavilion
24 – Dublin, Olympia
25 – Dublin, Olympia
27 – Birmingham, O2 Academy
28 – Plymouth, Pavilions
30 – Bristol, O2 Academy
31 – Bristol, O2 Academy

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Quavo reportedly being sued by limo driver for alleged assault

TMZ reports that the driver is seeking unspecified damages from Quavo, Migos Touring and the Virgin Hotel. NME has reached out to representatives of Quavo and the Virgin Hotel for comment.

Earlier this year, Quavo was investigated by police over a leaked video that reportedly showed the rapper getting into an altercation with his former partner, Saweetie (aka Diamonté Harper). He denied that he “physically abused”  Harper, saying: “We had an unfortunate situation almost a year ago that we both learned and moved on from.”

Despite his recent legal troubles, Quavo has kept active with the release of Migos’ recent fourth album, ‘Culture III’, as well as his joint single with Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel, ‘Shmoney’. He also released two of his own singles this year: ‘Blame’ in May and ‘Strub Tha Ground’ (with Yung Miami) in October.

Quavo confirmed in June that he was working with Pop Smoke before the latter’s death, and still plans to release the tracks they collaborated on.

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Cordae shares throwback video of himself rapping over Kanye West’s ‘Gone’

‘From A Bird’s Eye View’ is due out on January 14 via Atlantic. It follows the April 2021 release of his four-track EP ‘Just Until…’ – for which he teamed up with A Tribe Called Quest founder Q-Tip, Young Thug and Raphael Saadiq – and is set to feature the singles ‘Gifted’ (featuring Roddy Ricch), ‘Super’ and ‘Sinister’ (featuring Lil Wayne).

Earlier in the year, Cordae teamed up with Eminem and Jack Harlow for a new version of the former’s track ‘Killer’. The original version of the song appeared on Eminem’s most recent album, ‘Music To Be Murdered By – Side B’.

Meanwhile, West recently teamed up with Drake for their ‘Free Larry Hoover’ benefit concert, which took place in LA earlier this month. It marked the ‘DONDA’ rapper’s monumental reunion with Drake after the pair put an end to their longstanding feud, and saw them perform together for the first time since 2016.

In a five-star review of the concert, NME said: “Tonight it turns out that you don’t need to have faith in anything other than the power of two talents at the top of their respective games to have a near-religious experience. Here’s to making up with your enemies.”

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Roddy Ricch says he spoke to the Grammys about Lil Baby and Lil Uzi Vert snubs

“When I was talking to the Grammys,” Ricch continued in his chat with Durant, “I was like, ‘Y’all ain’t nominate Uzi for [Best] Rap Album?’ I was tripping on them. Even Lil Baby – y’all ain’t nominate Lil Baby? I’m tripping, ‘cause it’s like, everybody got their own lane, it should be spoken about, it should be talked about more.

“I feel like the n****s now that’s doing shit, like, no disrespect, but we really breaking barriers. We reachin’ different [heights]…”

Take a look at the interview clip below:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by 2Cool2Blog (@2cool2bl0g)

Though Ricch didn’t it make it explicitly clear which awards he thinks Uzi and Lil Baby were snubbed for, it’s likely he was making reference to the Best Rap Album category at last year’s Grammys. Both artists released albums in 2020, with Lil Baby’s ‘My Turn’ landing in February, and Uzi’s ‘Eternal Atake’ in March.

Ricch won his first (and currently only) Grammy at last year’s ceremony, taking home the title for Best Rap Performance at the hands of his Nipsey Hussle and Hit-Boy collab, ‘Racks In The Middle’. The track was also nominated for Best Rap Song, while ‘Ballin’’ (a collab with Mustard) was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Performance.

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At this year’s Grammys, Ricch was nominated twice for Best Rap Song and Best Melodic Rap Performance, with both ‘The Box’ and ‘Rockstar’ (his team-up with DaBaby) earning nods. The former track was also nominated for Song Of The Year, and the latter for Record Of The Year.

The rapper dropped his second album, ‘Live Life Fast’, earlier this month on Atlantic. In a four-star review, NME said the album “finds Roddy Ricch on a creative upswing”, noting that “his unprecedented composure in the face of gargantuan success is impressive”.

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Wolf Alice postpone gigs in Glasgow and Dublin

Tickets will automatically roll over to the rescheduled dates when they’re locked in, however any fans that are unable to make them will be entitled to a refund.

pic.twitter.com/vFvXVB1cVK

— Wolf Alice (@wolfalicemusic) December 24, 2021

At the time of writing, all 15 of the remaining dates on Wolf Alice’s UK tour are on track to go ahead as planned. All but two of them are sold out, with gigs lined up in Newcastle, Norwich, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, London, Southampton, Bexhill On Sea, Birmingham, Plymouth and Bristol. A little over a week later, the band will embark on an equally massive trek throughout Europe.

Amid the gigs will be a slate of festival appearances, with the band set to perform at Reading & Leeds, Best Kept Secret and Tempelhof Sounds, among others. More details on all the shows they’ve got coming up can be found on their website.

Wolf Alice released their third album, ‘Blue Weekend’, back in June via Dirty Hit. In a five-star review, NME’s Rhian Daly called it “the group’s most cohesive listen, [which] keeps intact the restless spirit that makes their work so unpredictable and exciting”.

Wolf Alice previously brought their new record to a tiny show at Kingston venue Pryzm as part of a tour supporting the Music Venue Trust’s Revive Live campaign. Reviewing the show, NME wrote: “What’s impressive is how seamlessly the band shift gears, segueing from tender vulnerability to teeth-baring riffs without missing a beat.”

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Speaking to NME, bassist Theo Ellis said that it was “amazing” to be back out on the road post-COVID restrictions. “There’s such a huge and different community of people that have been affected by [the pandemic] in the music world,” he said. “It’s not just us – it’s all of our crew, all the people who work at these festivals, all the people who work at venues.

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Live music venues suffer as Wales introduces new restrictions and social distancing rules

There will be exceptions for smaller-scale sporting events – which will allow up to 50 spectators – and events tailored towards children. Personal events, such as weddings, funerals and wakes, will also be exempt from the new rules.

Speaking to NME today (December 23), Angie Evans – who mans the ship at Cardiff’s Fuel Rock Club – said the entertainment sector was looking dismal enough as it was before the new rules came into effect. “We’ve had a steady decline in business over the past couple of weeks, peaking at a 50 per cent downturn over the past weekend,” she said.

“It’s disappointing because we were only just getting back to normal trading figures, and it’s worrying because we’ve made losses over the past couple of weeks when we’re already in a poor position financially. The decline has been due to a variety of factors: gig cancellations, customers worrying about catching COVID, and customers actually being COVID-positive and so unable to attend. We understand people’s uncertainty and worry, and we empathise.”

Welsh business owners will be offered respite in the form of a government relief initiative, with a total of £120million set aside for nightclubs, retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses. Evans told NME she was “thankful” for the government’s financial aid, but stressed that it was “nowhere near enough”.

“I’m very worried that we’ll be forced to trade under social distancing restrictions as this means that we’ll continue to make a loss and won’t be offered financial assistance,” she said. “Having successfully battled through the last 18 months, it’s a demoralising and daunting prospect. I’m very worried about our ability to keep staff employed and to keep the business going.”

As for hopes for live music returning soon in 2022, she added: “Many touring bands have already postponed their tours to avoid January, as I think that many of us are doubting that gigs will be allowed to go ahead. As a grassroots venue, this is a real blow. We survive for, and because of, the music. Without it, we are just another regular pub competing with all the other regular pubs in the city centre. We lose our unique selling point.”

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Last month, COVID passes were made mandatory to gain access to cinemas, theatres and concert venues across Wales. Proof of full vaccination or a negative test had been mandatory to visit nightclubs in Wales since October 11, but the rules were recently extended to cover other venues.

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Watch Billie Eilish make cameo in soothing video for Finneas’ new song ‘Only A Lifetime’

It is the third track lifted from his recent album following singles ‘A Concert Six Months From Now’ and ‘The 90s’,

NME gave ‘Optimist’ a four-star review, with Rhian Daly calling it “an accomplished first album that really shines” and praising it for delivering both “classic, timeless pop songwriting and something more modern and cutting-edge”.

Meanwhile, Finneas recently revealed that he had already started working on Eilish’s third album. The Los Angeles multi-hyphenate said he and Eilish were “really excited to start working on” the latter’s third album. When asked how far along they’d made it into the creative process, O’Connell said they had “interesting skeletons” for songs written, but were “not sure what animals they are”.

“We’ve got the net in the ocean, and we’re picking up detritus,” he added. “And then you sift through all that, and you pick out the treasure, and then you have an album. I’m really excited. I think we’ve got a lot to say.”

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The pair also recently performed two tracks from Eilish’s recent LP ‘Happier Than Ever’  during her appearance on Saturday Night Live at the weekend, including the title track and ‘Male Fantasy’.

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Burna Boy announces ‘One Night In Space’ at Madison Square Garden

2021 has been a monumental year for Burna Boy. He kicked it off with a performance of his hit ‘Way Too Big’ on Late Night With Seth Meyers, then linked up with WizKid for a stylish clip to accompany their collaborative track ‘Ginger’. He then joined Sia for a new version of her song ‘Hey Boy’, then featured on Headie One’s single ‘Siberia’.

March saw Burna Boy win his first Grammy Award, taking home the trophy for Best World Music Album with his fifth full-length effort, 2020’s ‘Twice As Tall’. His first solo tune for the year came in May with ‘Kilometre’, which he then followed up in October with the Polo G collab ‘Want It All’. During his performance at this year’s Parklife festival, he was joined by Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba.

Last month, Burna Boy – who fans can also catch at Primavera Sound next year – announced his ambitions to host a Live Aid-style concert to raise money for Africa. If he’s able to pull it off, he’ll do so “in the biggest stadium in the UK with any/all artists who care”.

“It’s just a dream right now but I expect the British Government to support this fully,” he said in a social media post detailing his idea. “After all, most of us are/were British colonies.” He tagged Boris Johnson, the UN and Global Citizen, the latter of whom recently hosted a mammoth 24-hour global concert raising awareness about a number of issues.

Speaking to NME last year, Burna Boy said: “There are so many situations where a fight needs to be had. A revolution is needed, and I want to inspire it. [With the album ‘Twice As Tall’] I’m painting a picture of what we already see every day, but maybe no one has painted the picture in an honest form before.”

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Last year, Burna Boy used his platform to draw attention to police brutality happening in Nigeria and the End SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) movement that was combating it.

He called the protests “the most important moment in Nigeria’s history” and offered his support with a powerful performance at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards alongside Coldplay’s Chris Martin, as well as releasing the track ‘20 10 20’ which condemned the actions of Nigerian police.

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Squid announce North American tour dates for 2022

‘Bright Green Field’ landed back in May via Warp. It featured the singles ‘Narrator’, ‘Paddling’ and ‘Pamphlets’, and was celebrated with the launch of Squid’s very own beer (in collaboration with Gan Yam Brew Co). The band followed it up last month with a cover of Bill Callahan’s 2011 track ‘America!’

NME gave ‘Bright Green Field’ a five-star review, with writer Will Richards saying: “From their very earliest material it was clear to tell that Squid would only be able to truly fulfil their potential when given the canvas of an album, on which to tell a story that ebbs and flows at a pace and route that they dictate. On ‘Bright Green Field’, in all of its weird, frantic and fantastic glory, they’ve gone above and beyond.”

The record also made NME’s list of the best debut albums, EPs, mixtapes of 2021, and the half-yearly list of the best albums overall.

Squid’s 2022 North American tour dates are:

MARCH
Tuesday 8 – Seattle, The Crocodile
Wednesday 9 – Vancouver, Rickshaw Theatre
Saturday 12 – San Francisco, August Hall
Sunday 13 – Los Angeles, Regent Theater
Wednesday 16 – Chicago, Vic Theatre
Thursday 17 – Detroit, El Club
Friday 18 – Toronto, Horseshoe Tavern
Saturday 19 – Montreal, Bar Le Ritz
Monday 21 – Washington, Black Cat
Tuesday 22 – New York, Bowery Ballroom
Wednesday 23 – Brooklyn, Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Friday 25 – Boston, Brighton Music Hall

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Listen to Kim Petras’ provocative new single ‘Coconuts’

“Music is such a powerful thing because it’s supposed to break barriers and it doesn’t really matter in music what gender you are, or what sexuality or what skin color you have – music is a very universal thing.”

The song itself is quintessentially Petras’, melding bright and confident vocals to a bubbly disco-pop instrumental primed for the dancefloor. In a choice passage of ‘Coconuts’, she sings: So juicy and so ripe/ You wouldn’t believe/ I give ’em different names/ Mary-Kate and Ashley/ They ask me what’s my size/ Just give ’em a squeeze.”

Take a look at the lyric video for ‘Coconuts’ below:

‘Coconuts’ marks Petras’ second new track for 2021, following the release of ‘Future Starts Now’ back in October. Both songs will appear on her as-yet-untitled second album, which is due to land sometime in 2022. Petras confirmed in July that the upcoming record was “fully done”, and would feature “no sad songs”.

In a four-star review of Petras’ debut record ‘Clarity’, NME‘s Nick Levine called it a “hook-packed” and “complex album that’s boastful but never one-note,” adding that Petras “already sounds like a legit pop star”.

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Since releasing ‘Clarity’ in June of 2019, Petras has also released two standalone singles: the sun-kissed ‘Malibu’ and the Halloween-themed ‘Party Till I Die’.

Meanwhile, Petras revealed at last year’s NME Awards that she wants to work with Robyn. “I would die. She’s the queen of the Earth,” the German singer-songwriter said, before adding how much she admires Courtney Love. “She’s an icon… a badass forever,” Petras said of the Hole musician.

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Watch the trailer for Juice WRLD’s HBO Max documentary ‘Into The Abyss’

“When you’re a fan of this shit, you look at it from a certain perspective,” Higgins says in a key snippet, “but when you’re in it, you see it for what it really is. I’m still happy I could change the world, but… It’s not what it looks like.”

The film will also touch on Higgins’ struggles with mental illness, and how during his short time in the spotlight, he became “a therapist for millions of kids” and “a voice of that generation”.

Another section of the trailer draws from an interview in which Higgins said: “If you’ve got anxiety [or] depression, they all look at you like you’re crazy; that’s not how it should be [but] that’s how it is, and that needs to change. And hopefully I’m one of those people that could bring that change.”

Juice WRLD: Into The Abyss was directed by Tommy Oliver, whose previous works include the 2013 drama 1982, and last year’s HBO documentary 40 Years A Prisoner. Per HBO, the latter “chronicles one of the most controversial shootouts in American history, the 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE, and the aftermath that led to a son’s decades-long fight to free his parents”.

Preceding the release of Juice WRLD: Into The Abyss will be Higgins’ second posthumous album (and fourth overall), ‘Fighting Demons’. It’s set to land on December 10 via Grade A / Interscope. Two singles have been shared from it thus far: ‘Already Dead’ and ‘Wandered To LA’, the latter a joint effort with Justin Bieber.

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Thursday also saw Higgins’ mother, Carmela Wallace, share a touching letter in his memory. “Although it has been nearly two years since you’ve been gone,” she wrote (via Complex), “I still think about you every day and losing you has changed my life forever. I’m glad that we always made sure that we said goodbye when we left each other because we didn’t know when we would see each other again.”

The first posthumous record from Juice WRLD – who passed away in December 2019 – came in the form of last year’s ‘Legends Never Die’. In a review of the project, NME wrote: “[The album] is a sprawling 21-track project that pays necessary homage to the talented rapper, but is too bloated and featured-packed to say much about him.”

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Janelle Monáe announces short story collection based on ‘Dirty Computer’ songs

Monáe wrote the book with collaborators Yohanca Delgado, Eve L. Ewing, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danny Lore and Sheree Renée Thomas. According to its publishers at HarperCollins, Monaé and her team drew inspiration from such legendary sci-fi writers as Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Becky Chambers and Nnedi Okorafor.

The publisher’s synopsis boasts that The Memory Librarian “brings to the written page the Afrofuturistic world of [Monáe’s] critically acclaimed album, exploring how different threads of liberation – queerness, race, gender plurality, and love – become tangled with future possibilities of memory and time in such a totalitarian landscape … and what the costs might be when trying to unravel and weave them into freedoms.”

“Who holds your memories?”

The official cover for THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN and Other Stories of Dirty Computer. APRIL 2022. Pre-Order now avail. 🤖 pic.twitter.com/2GE3kfXssE

— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather👽🚆🤖🚀🪐 (@JanelleMonae) December 2, 2021

‘Dirty Computer’ hit shelves on April 27, 2018 via Wondaland/Bad Boy/Atlantic. NME gave the album a five-star review upon release, with Andrew Trendell highlighting the influence Monáe took from her late friend and collaborator Prince.

“She’s got The Purple One’s punk, mad-scientist approach,” he wrote, “but creates a world all of her own. Throwing in rap, soul, pop, R&B, space-rock and whatever the hell she wants with her fearless message, Janelle Monáe doesn’t believe in walls or limits: this is a fluid celebration of freedom, raging and raving against the oppressors. In fact, only one label sticks – icon.”

Though a full-length follow-up to ‘Dirty Computer’ remains elusive, Monáe – who is non-binary – has kept mighty busy in the years following its release. She’s dropped the singles ‘That’s Enough’, ‘Turntables’, ‘Stronger’ and ‘Say Her Name’, and starred in such films as Disney’s 2019 Lady And The Tramp remake, and the horror flick Antebellum.

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Next year, she’ll appear alongside Daniel Craig, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn and more in the as-yet-untitled sequel to Rian Johnson’s whodunnit Knives Out.

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Watch Kacey Musgraves sing about ‘All The Colors Of The World’ on ‘Sesame Street’

Take a look at Musgraves performing ‘All The Colors Of The World’ on Sesame Street below:

Musgraves’ appearance on Sesame Street marks the latest in a sprawling slate of recent musical cameos. She joins previous guests like Billie Eilish, Maggie Rogers, Dave Grohl and Chance The Rapper; artists set to follow her this season – the show’s 52nd – include Anderson .Paak and Jon Batiste.

Musgraves – who recently became the first musician to play nude on Saturday Night Live, channeling Forrest Gump in her performance of ‘Justified’ – released her fifth studio album, ‘Star-Crossed’, in September. NME gave it four stars upon its release, writing that her “dissection of a crumbling relationship is inspired by Romeo & Juliet and split into three parts, never collapsing under its own concept”.

It was recently confirmed that ‘Star-Crossed’ would be ineligible for consideration in the Best Country Album category at next year’s Grammys. It is, however, eligible for the Best Pop Album and all-inclusive Best Album categories. Additionally, her song ‘Camera Roll’ has reportedly been accepted for the Best Country Song category.

Musgraves responded to the Recording Academy’s decision on Twitter, posting a photo of herself as a child in a pink cowboy hat. “You can take the girl out of the country (genre) but you can’t take the country out of the girl,” Musgraves captioned the photo.

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Last month, she released a cover of Coldplay’s 2005 song ‘Fix You’, recorded as part of a stop-motion film from Chipotle called A Future Begins.

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Young Thug’s lawyer fires back against “negligence” claims in $1million lawsuit

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Georgia, alleges that the employee had placed the bag in “a secure/locked location” with a note instructing other employees not to release it without her permission, assuring Thug that he’d be able to retrieve it from the concierge. Another employee, however, allegedly passed the bag over to an unnamed individual with no relationship to Thug.

In addition to $40,000 (£29,000) in cash, the bag’s contents reportedly included a diamond-encrusted watch valued around $57,000 (£41,500), a diamond chain valued around $37,000 (£27,000) and a hard drive containing approximately 200 unreleased songs, which Thug claimed is worth at least $1million (£728,000).

Young Thug and Travis Barker performing on ‘Saturday Night Live’. Credit: Press.

The Trace’s parent company, JLB Peachtree Management, responded in a new court filing that Young Thug’s own “negligence and failure to exercise ordinary care” may be a factor in the incident, denying the company assumed a duty to protect the property and asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

However, Thug’s lawyer, Charles Hoffecker, has suggested that the claim is missing vital information. “The suggestion my client’s negligence – if any – outweighs the defendants’ ignores the simple facts the defendants’ employees acted to secure the property, knew whose property it was, committed to keep the property safe in a secure location, communicated to my client they would keep the property secure, and then released the property to an unknown person,” Hoffecker told Rolling Stone.

“Now that the defendants have filed their answer, we look forward to pursuing Young Thug’s rights through the litigation process,” he added.

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Thug is suing for damages, citing negligence and failure to train its employees. As his representative wrote in their filing, the concierge employees “undertook a duty to safeguard and return [Thug’s] property” when they agreed to hold the bag. The filing also claims that The Trace’s staff have been “unreasonable and stubbornly litigious”.

News of the theft arrived just days after the release of Thug’s latest album ‘Punk’. Featuring lead single ‘Tick Tock’, the record landed last Friday (October 15) via YSL/300/Atlantic.

In a five-star reviewNME writer Kyann-Sian Williams said: “‘Punk’ was long-awaited, and, boy, did Young Thug live up to its hype. It’s so different from the rest of the music he has been putting out, and Young Thug shows that he can make hits can transcend the rap world.

“Many say Young Thug is one of the greatest musicians of the current generation, and with ‘Punk’, he’s proved that to be true.”

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Mogwai are recruiting Glasgow fans for an upcoming film project

The call to arms came in a Tweet on Monday (November 1), alongside which they also shared what appears to be a teaser for the film. It comprises landscape shots of Glasgow soundtracked by various snippets of Stuart Braithwaite boasting of his band’s heritage.

The teaser ends with a title card reading ‘Mogwai 25’, indicating that the film – set to be helmed by longtime collaborator Antony Crook – will cover the band’s quarter-century tenure thus far.

Take a look at the teaser and recruitment callout below:

Hi everyone – we're making a film with our good pal @MrACrook and we want YOU to be involved 📹

If you're coming to our show in Glasgow this weekend (Sun 7 Nov) and would like to take part, please email mogwaigig2021@gmail.com for more information.

See you soon ⚡ pic.twitter.com/9WGXbcqZVc

— Mogwai (@mogwaiband) November 1, 2021

Mogwai released the Mercury-nominated ‘As The Love Continues’ back in February, flanked by the singles ‘Dry Fantasy’, ‘Ritchie Sacramento’ and ‘Ceiling Granny’. It earned the band their first UK Number One, following a head-to-head battle with Ghetts that featured celebrity endorsements and a stunt involving a tank.

Reviewing it for for NME, writer Damian Jones said the record “opens beautifully but falls short at times during its second half”, caveating that its material as a whole “works so much better in a live setting”.

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The album also ranked third place on NME’s list of the best albums conjured up in lockdown, with writer Gary Ryan saying: “it doesn’t define our current predicament so much as provide much-needed escapism from it.”

The band’s former live agent, Mick Griffiths, died earlier this month from complications owing to cancer. Mogwai were among a slew of acts that paid tribute to Griffiths, posting in a statement: “Mick believed in us when not many others did. We’ll be eternally grateful for everything he did for us over the years. We wouldn’t be the band we are today without Mick. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Following their UK tour, Mogwai will head to the US for a 16-date run of headline shows next April.

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Incubus’ Brandon Boyd talks new solo album ‘Echoes And Cocoons’

However, this idea has now developed into a full-length solo album of new material – his first since 2010’s ‘The Wild Trapeze’ – entitled ‘Echoes And Cocoons’, produced by Grammy Award-winning producer and engineer John Congleton.

Congleton, who is also the former frontman of alt-rock band Paper Chase, is best known for his work with Phoebe Bridgers, The Roots, St. Vincent and Angel Olsen. It was his work with the latter that caught the attention of Boyd.

“I was feeling very brave one afternoon after listening to Angel Olsen’s ‘All Mirrors’ album, which is so good, and I was like, ‘Who produced this? It sounds so amazing’,” Boyd told NME. “I looked it up and it was this guy John Congleton. He’s produced for everyone but somehow escaped me up until this point.”

Listening to Angel Olsen’s ‘All Mirrors’ album inspired the creation of Brandon Boyd’s new solo record. CREDIT: Robin Little/Redferns

He continued: “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna reach out to this dude and see what he’s doing.’ So I did and he’s like, ‘Nothing. What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘You want to write some songs together?’ Then six months later we have a full solo record with original material and two covers on it.

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“It’s really cool. It’s a very different record for me. And we did it before even meeting in person. We just we did it over the phone, it’s a full COVID record. It was awesome.”

‘Echoes And Cocoons’ has been finished for six months and Boyd said he’s now planning its roll out. “I actually just shot a visual for the first single which is going to come out next month,” he revealed. “Then what I’m going to do is put out a single every five or six weeks and then hopefully drop the actual album sometime in February.”

As for Incubus, the band’s most recent project was last year’s ‘Trust Fall (Side B)’ EP, released via ADA Worldwide. Asked about the progress of the band’s next album, the follow-up to 2017’s ‘8’, Boyd said the band hope to have something out by spring next year.

Incubus. CREDIT: Press

“We went out and did some shows and we’re all rehearsed up and ready to play,” said Boyd. “Our intention is to put together a new group of songs, whether it’ll be an EP or an LP, I’m not sure, but we’re hoping to have that done sometime by spring – but there’s a lot of hope in that statement.”

Boyd also offered an update on the ‘Make Yourself’ 20th anniversary UK shows which were supposed to take place last year but were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As soon as we can get permission to come overseas, we’re going to make them up. It’s just so weird and complicated right now,” Boyd added. “We’re dying to come over to England and Europe to play shows. And just from a human and sort of tourist traveller point of view, I’m dying to get back over there. So as soon as we can, we will.”

Last month, Incubus celebrated the 20th anniversary of their seminal fourth album ‘Morning View’ with a livestream concert of the record performed in its entirety at the Malibu beach house it was originally recorded in.

Speaking on the initial decision to record the album in the house on Morning View Drive in Malibu, Boyd talked to NME about the making of the record and how they wanted to be free from distractions during the recording process.

Incubus’ new EP ‘Trust Fall (Side B)’ is out now on ADA Worldwide

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Relive the highlights from NME’s House of Papa gig

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