Justin (J) Fernandez might just be the real sound of America right now. With not an ounce of icey NYC ‘cool’ or hipster LA wankery about him, the Little Rock-born, Chicago-based songwriter’s music taps into that same sense of prevailing sincerity as Elliott Smith and Evan Dando. You could never call him brash or OTT, and that’s kind of the point. A map-maker by day, he made most of new album ‘Many Levels Of Laughter’ at his apartment in the Windy City’s Humboldt Park area.
“A decade is a long time to be in a band; you almost feel a little bit sick of who you are,” explained Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein in 2005. By this point in their career, the band had surpassed their DIY queercore roots in 1990s Olympia, Washington to become feted indie-rock champs – a success built on Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s interlocking guitars, Tucker’s unhinged vocals and Janet Weiss’ bolshy percussion. But after six similar albums and a challenging tour for 2002’s political post-9/11 album ‘One Beat’, the trio were agitated, itching to “stretch their legs”.
India loves Michael Jackson. Sure, because of his music, but also partly because Michael Jackson loved India right back. The singer made a tonne of stops to the country in the years before his death, most notably in November 1996, when he staged a huge concert in Bombay and refused to accept a penny from proceeds. Instead, 85% of ticket sales went towards creating 270,000 jobs for young people in Maharashtra - a move that earned him a special Humanitarian Award at the 1999 Bollywood Awards.
Few musicians are as prolific as the four members of The Magic Gang. Soundcloud is littered with solo material and songs by other bands they once played in – or still do – like Home School, Yrrs and Echochamp, a collective of Brighton groups that includes the likes of Sulky Boy and Our Girl. And they’ve also produced songs for their friends Manuka Honeys and Abattoir Blues. Despite all that, the quartet describe those endeavours as “things we do in our spare time” and have been busy harvesting over 50 Magic Gang songs that the world is yet to hear.
Not content with merely inspiring moshpits, Ho99o9 (it’s pronounced ‘Horror’) are the sort of band who want to be down there in them. During their Great Escape set at Patterns it doesn’t take long before co-vocalist Eaddy is off the stage and in the pit, shirtless and screaming into his mic.