The Guardian Indie

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  1. (Drag City)

    Related:Bill Callahan: 'I can't die – life is too good, it can't end'

    “The panic room is now a nursery,” sings veteran leftfield tunesmith Bill Callahan on Son of the Sea. It’s just one instance of pregnant understatement on a 20-track album that ends this extraordinary American songwriter’s six years away from the release schedules. Life happened: marriage, a baby son, the death of his mother and now, a purple patch of tunes that combine the allusive rigour of his finest work with a looser, chatty style. “It’s nice to be writing again,” he offers on Writing. The Ballad of the Hulk, a meditation on anger, playfully details how Callahan “shared a tailor” with the superhero.

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  2. (Drag City)
    Humour and subtly shattering insights into a new life as a parent add profundity to Callahan’s expansive album

    Online, the “wife guy” gets a bad rap – he is “worthy of suspicion because he appears to be using his devotion to his wife for personal gain”, as the New York Times put it. So Bill Callahan’s latest may arouse suspicion – 20 songs from his perspective as a new husband and father. But despite brilliantly sly lines like, “I got the woman of my dreams / And an imitation Eames” (What Comes After Certainty), Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is neither uxorious nor queasy.

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  3. With help from his wife and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the artist formerly known as Smog has opened up. He’s even talking to his neighbours, he says

    Originally, I was going to interview Bill Callahan at home in Austin, Texas. Then he was going to fly to London for a more efficient European press trip. Then his publicist forwarded an email from the 53-year-old songwriter: “Every round-trip flight from New York to London melts 32 sq ft of polar ice... in light of global warming, any chance this could be done via FaceTime? These empires must crumble!”

    Reading about Extinction Rebellion strengthened Callahan’s decision, he says, when we speak by phone, along with hearing a friend cite that chilling statistic. Still, he will keep touring. “Performing music is worth melting the ice caps,” he says, with a chuckle that clicks like a latch closing.

    Related:Bill Callahan review – from cult figure to force of nature

    I thought keeping things private was the ultimate test for my music. But I tried that. Now I’m gonna be more open

    Watching someone die is awful but beautiful. I felt I was at a gate where life is becoming death and death becomes life

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  4. (Prolifica Inc)
    The Northern Irish trio have embraced electronic pop, but they fail to give their strong hooks any personality

    Does 2019 offer a more baffling musical phenomenon than the continued success of what you might call second-wave noughties indie? Not the bands that erupted into the public consciousness at the start of the decade, with their huge hit singles and era-defining albums and identifiable images eagerly co-opted by fans – Coldplay, the Killers, the Libertines et al – but the ones who came five years later, damned as “landfill indie”, so nondescript you imagined them convening for rehearsals and peering puzzled at their bandmates: “Sorry, do I know you?”

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  5. Their songs excoriated rape culture, their motto was ‘girls to the front’ – and they inspired Nirvana’s biggest hit. Now Bikini Kill are back with a mission still relevant in 2019

    Bikini Kill never intended to reunite. “It wasn’t something that crossed my mind as a possibility or anything that I would want to do,” says drummer Tobi Vail. “Going back in time doesn’t make sense to me.” It wasn’t until 2017, two decades after they’d parted ways, that the pioneering riot grrrl band witnessed a model for doing it. They’d been asked to play a song at a New York event in honour of the Raincoats, prompted by a book about the London-based feminist punk group’s self-titled 1979 album. In that room, Vail witnessed a group often erased from the punk canon writing their own history.

    “They were telling their story on their own terms,” recalls Vail. “There’s a power in seizing history. To me, that’s what being a band allows you to access. If we see historicisation as an institutional force, let’s be inclusive: let women’s voices in.” After that night, Bikini Kill watched as fans called their brief performance a “reunion”. It “felt right”, says Vail, so they decided to do more shows.

    Related:The art and politics of riot grrrl - in pictures

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