Album Review: Homeshake – Fresh Air

With Mac Demarco seemingly well on his way in an unassuming bid for world domination, it would come as a surprise that one of his closest affiliates opted to step out of the slacker demi god’s shadow, leave the crazed hordes of fans behind and go it alone. Even with the unfathomable price some would pay to regularly be in the presence of Demarco’s charisma, upon listening to his records, it’s quite easy to grasp why Peter Sagar aka Homeshake made the risqué decision to quit the Demarco dynasty nearly four years ago. Not only an escape from a heavy touring schedule, Homeshake offered Sagar a chance to wriggle free from the maturity that was seeping its way into Mac Demarco’s music, and well and truly indulge in the quirkiness that provided Rock and Roll Nightclub with its inimitable atmosphere.

As a base for his new project, the melting pot for hazy, lo-fi indie that was Montreal circa 2013 opened its arms to the delectable guitar twang and idiosyncratic lyrics of Homeshake, labeling it as one of the emergent scene’s prize exports alongside that of Alex Calder and his former band leader. Since the moniker first surfaced, Montreal has breathed life into four Homeshake records, with the most recent coming in the form of Fresh Air; Sagar’s best attempt to date at making a serious record whilst trying at all costs to not be serious at all.

Moving away from the cartoon samples and charming guitar licks generously topped with reverb, the self-confessed RnB lover has conveyed his musical passion on more recent records, offering up a rather bizarre blend of indie darling meets MTV Base in the process (‘Give It To Me’ from previous LP Midnight Snack marking the evolution with grandeur).

On Fresh Air, Homeshake is once again at his combustible best, effortlessly achieving an equilibrium between slacker and heartfelt crooner when dabbling in abstract slow jams. When the record burns, it burns bright; it’s what happens in between the magnesium like bursts of energy that leave the album wanting in terms of structural foundation and direction. But in turn, that may just be the signature of Sagar’s work; never rooted into one spot and the free to explore the imaginary realms his music has created, and since immersed itself in.

Album opener, the aptly titled ‘Hello Welcome’ initiates the record in a familiar fashion, igniting a sense of hope for fans longing to hear Sagar call upon the sounds that littered his first EP Homeshake Tape. Its creamy guitar lick sizzles and upon contact with the heavily produced bass line beneath, however, the sense of intriguing ambiguity soon vacates with the arrival of ‘Call Me Up’ and ‘Not U’ shortly after. The odd ball tracks border on parody rather than genuine attempts to recreate the urgency and unadulterated suggestibility associated with Homeshake’s music.

Cue ‘Every Single Thing’, arriving in the nick of time to restore a sense of consciousness: “are you even paying attention to me right now” sounding out as the track begins. Opening with shimmering UFO sounds akin to a low-budget sci-fi film, the track catapults into the cosmos aboard a squelching beat before bringing home an infectious groove that disperses over the rest of the album. The standout moments of Fresh Air that follow come in the form of ‘Getting Down Pt II’, ‘TV Volume’ and ‘Khmlwugh’ – albeit the latter continuing a minute longer than necessary. All three tracks tilt a tried and tested RnB format slightly off kilter to fabulous effect, turning the absurd into quite frankly arousing.

Spying an opportunity to solidify his music in its own light, the move to focus on more RnB influences presents itself as a tempting path; one where the balance between creativity and claptrap is all that more delicate. Luckily Homeshake toes the line on Fresh Air, pulling out the stops when they’re most needed, just as the album starts to drift off without any real cause to follow.

At risk of feeling constrained by the loveable guitar licks birthed during his time with Mac Demarco, Peter Sagar’s desire to progress forward into the world of RnB with no pretext or focus is what grants his music with its honest texture. Instead of placing Fresh Air under the microscope, the album leaves its hazy aesthetic open to interpretation, and with that calls for being looked upon through a similarly out of focus lens.

Originally published to Muso’s Guide 03/02/17

Leeds Indie Food set for return in May

Annual food and drink festival Leeds Indie Food returns for an 18-day culinary celebration in May.

Now in its third year, the festival brings together Leeds’ thriving independent food and drink community to curate a series of bespoke events accessible to all levels of gastronomy enthusiasts. Running from 11th-28th May, events will take a place a number of venues spread across Leeds city centre and surrounding areas.

The latest incarnation of Leeds Indie Food incorporates three new festival strands consisting of Eat, Drink and Do. Each of the 100 plus events part of festival will fall into one of the three categories, with experiences to be indulged such as wine tasting, barista competitions, cooking classes. Those of the food conscious persuasion will be able to attend workshops, family friendly classes and film screenings over the duration of the festival.

The Festival Passport Scheme will once again be on offer, encouraging punters to explore Leeds’ independent scene in return for exclusive discounts on food and drink, all for a one off £10 payment. Passport holders will also be given priority access to tickets for Leeds Indie Food’s most popular and sell out events.

Leeds Indie Food Passports are on sale now.

A full schedule for Leeds Indie Food 2017 is set to be announced in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of Jessie Leong

Originally published to Ticket Arena 16/02/17

In Conversation: Better Lost Than Stupid

With the ability to intrigue simply by the power of its name, the exploits of Better Lost Than Stupid were never going to reside in enigmatic shadow for too long. Following an impromptu back to back set in 2010, Better Lost Than Stupid – comprising of Matthias Tanzmann, Martin Buttrich and Davide Squillace – began to make a series of one off appearances under their newly formed moniker, with a rapturous set at this year’s BPM festival signaling a new era for the collaboration.

Sensing the opportunity to establish the project in its own right, Better Lost Than Stupid embarks on a debut tour this month, culminating at Circus in Liverpool on Saturday 25th February. Wanting to dig deep into the the fibres that make up Better Lost Than Stupid, we took the opportunity to chat to Martin and Davide about the dynmics of the the project.
 

First things first, in regards to the name of the project, why Better Lost Than Stupid? A unifying state of mind, perhaps?
You could say that, but it’s also a representation of our approach to music and life. Our main goal is to create a fun atmosphere through our music and stage production, something you’ll see during our tour.

Secondly, in contrast to the name given to the project, was there a defining moment of clarity that set Better Lost Than Stupid in motion?
The project was born when the three of us were asked to play together at Electric Zoo Festival in New York 2010. It went so well that we decided to take it to the next level.

It’s been stated that you have been hard at work to take Better Lost Than Stupid up a level in 2017. Since first coming together in 2010, what elements of the project have been developed in an attempt to achieve your vision?
When it comes to our stage production, we will be pulling out all the stops to create a unique experience, for example we’ve previously had polar bears and rock stars incorporated into our stage design. You’ll just have to wait and see to find out what we have in store for the tour.

When Better Lost Than Stupid take to the decks, to what extent does it is feel like more of a performance than a regular b2b2b set?
Wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a performance but it is definitely a lot more fun playing as a group.

b2b sets sometimes come in for a little bit criticism, even going as far as being portrayed solely as a means for selling out clubs and festivals. On the other hand, it can be argued that a whole new dimension of DJing, track selection and energy can be unlocked through a shared experience behind the decks. Where do Better Lost Than Stupid stand on the matter?
Well for Better Lost Than Stupid, it’s more than just us playing b2b as we’ve steered away from using our individual names and come together as a group. We find the experience to be incredible; we bounce off each other really well. We follow each other’s lead when it comes to switching the tempo or mood and are quite free with what we play.

So far this year you have road tested the new and improved project at BPM Festival. How did you find the experience ahead of the upcoming tour?
It was incredible. There was an amazing atmosphere as always with BPM Festival – we ended up playing for six hours! It was a teaser for the audience and us of what’s to come so we’re really excited to start touring again.

Is it possible to clarify the rumours of album on the way in the near future? If so, what kind of material can we expect to emerge from the studio baring the Better Lost Than Stupid signature?
We can confirm that there is an album on the way that we have been working on recently. We can’t give too much away at the moment but it’s all going really well so far – we are all trying to do something new and separate from what each of us have done individually in the past.

Given you are all well established artists in your own right, are there any specific mechanics you incorporate regarding creative control of the project?
There’s not really anything specific that we each bring to the group. We try to steer away from what we do individually and just bring our skills and experiences to our productions and sets. We want it to be an entirely different experience to what you would usually get if you saw us individually.

You’ll be taking your alias to a number of clubs around Europe on tour through February before finishing up at Circus in Liverpool. Will you be looking to replicate a similar musical atmosphere and aesthetic at each of the shows on your tour?
Each show will be different, as we like to keep our sets new and exciting for each crowd we play to. The atmosphere will also differ as every country has a different vibe to it, but hopefully we’ll bring something uniquely Better Lost Than Stupid to each one.

Photo courtesy of Better Lost Than Stupid

Originally published to Ticket Arena 10/02/17