The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. (Sacred Bones)

    With the unlikely Olympian duo Fuck Buttons having largely been on the back burner since 2013, Benjamin John Power has had plenty of time to concentrate on his side project, Blanck Mass. Not surprisingly, many of the highlights of his fourth solo album – a treatise on capitalism and loss – nod to Power’s better-known band. Death Drop drags distorted death metal screams on to the dancefloor and ends up coming across as an industrial evisceration of the Doctor Who theme music. Album highlight Love Is a Parasite, meanwhile, is the sort of overloaded Wagnerian techno maximalism that is Fuck Buttons’ calling card, its distorted beats driving a melange of house motifs, deeply buried R&B vocal lines, soaring orchestral strings and punishing sheets of noise.

    But just as 2017’s World Eater showcased a newfound knack for melodic levity amid the Sturm und Drang, so Power reins in the cacophony here on the blissfully minimal Creature/West Fuqua. The hypnotic No Dice eases back on the intensity, aims for the hips rather than going for the throat, and consequently is rather more Massive Attack than massive attack.

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  2. (Frenchkiss Records)
    Craig Finn’s barstool-rock raconteurs paint a portrait of booze-soaked Americana with their most enthralling record in years

    You don’t listen to Hold Steady albums – you live in them. Craig Finn’s barstool-rock raconteurs’ six albums so far have been engrossing adventures through an America full of delinquents and dreamers, their stories sketched into bolshy, blue-collar indie singalongs. It’s a formula that’s served the group well: with the exception of 2010 misstep Heaven Is Whenever, the Hold Steady have operated with a dependability befitting their band name since forming in Brooklyn in 2003, amassing a devoted cult fanbase in the process. On seventh album Thrashing Thru the Passion, they further cement their punk poet laureate credentials over 10 songs-cum-caterwauling character studies that are among Finn and friends’ most enthralling to date.

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  3. (Casablanca Records/Polydor)
    Harking back to the era of funkily optimistic pop may not speak to our times, but FF’s first album in eight years is truly joyous

    When Friendly Fires released their debut album in 2008, the St Albans trio’s busy, brooding brand of electro-punk seemed precision-engineered for a music scene craving respite from the scratchy guitars and pointy brogues of landfill indie. By the time the band’s second, Pala, came out three years later, they were on the precipice of proper mainstream success; their dancefloor-friendly synthpop merged intricate, pulsing percussion with big, yearning choruses. Now, however, as the band return to a fractured pop landscape after a momentum-quashing eight-year break, their relationship to the zeitgeist is far less clear. Perhaps they know this: on their third album, they instead seem intent on submerging themselves in the past.

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  4. As Foo Fighters prepare to headline Reading and Leeds, Dave Grohl talks us through his landmark songs, from the ‘blood and guts’ of Nirvana to an anthem for a doomed election

    Foo Fighters HQ is a warehouse in LA’s San Fernando Valley that acts as a temple to Dave Grohl. Every corridor is plastered with discs awarded to the bands he has put his stamp on: Foos, Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, Tenacious D, not to mention various other projects. There are awards from countries all over the world (and custom surfboards from Australia). The hangar in the back is home to fan-made flags and paraphernalia. Pinball machines are never far from reach; the wifi network is called “Suck It”; there is even a painted portrait of Grohl in a smoking jacket. The sofas are decorated with pillows that Grohl’s mum made out of old band T-shirts. “My mom asked me one day: ‘What are you gonna do with all your T-shirts in the attic? Can I make pillows outta them?’” he says, holding a Led Zeppelin one. “I thought: ‘Mom this is your second career.’ Could you fucking imagine?”

    Grohl, now 50, spent his youth in Virginia before flying by the seat of his pants all over the US in the name of rock’n’roll. He lived in Washington DC and LA with hardcore band Scream. He spent time in Olympia, Washington and Seattle after joining Nirvana. His Foos duties saw him settle in LA. Today, in his studio’s control room, he sits opposite the sound desk that Nirvana’s landscape-changing Nevermind (1991) was made on. “This thing will outlive us all,” he says. It’s signed by Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, even Paul McCartney. Tacked to its left corner is a picture taken of Grohl’s drumkit. “Oh look!” he says, picking it up. “Here’s the only picture I have of recording Nevermind. Isn’t that funny? That’s all I got.” He’s joking, of course. It gave him everything …

    Related:Kirk Weddle's best photograph: Nirvana's Nevermind swimming baby

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  5. (Mom + Pop)
    Drummer Janet Weiss has left the band since recording this St Vincent-produced album – but their songwriting suggests they can weather anything

    In WB Yeats’ most famous line, “things fall apart, the centre cannot hold”. Things were pretty bad when he wrote that in 1919, the first world war segueing smoothly into the Irish war of independence, but Sleater-Kinney twist the line into something even worse. The centre “won’t” hold – it could, but it won’t. Order might theoretically reign, but we’d prefer to reject it and watch the world burn.

    This, then, is an album full of friction: between bodies, generations and, it turns out, the band themselves. The Pacific Northwest trio went on hiatus for a decade after what many consider their masterpiece, The Woods, in 2005; co-frontwoman Carrie Brownstein became hipster-famous in the interim for her sketch comedy show Portlandia. They returned to huge acclaim with No Cities to Love in 2015, and for this follow-up, enlisted Annie Clark, AKA St Vincent, as producer. But before its release, drummer Janet Weiss quit after 22 years, saying “the band is moving in a new direction and it is time for me to move on”.

    Related:Sleater-Kinney: ‘Music has always been the playground of men’s sexuality’

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