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Nomadism is the singer/songwriter project of Jeet Mukerji, whose music blends tense electronics and guitars with a dark reason reminiscent of Different Class-era Pulp. Harbouring a slight post-punk lilt and closing with the brilliant “Romance and Violence”, this Soundcloud set is a thoroughly compelling twenty-five minutes of songcraft.

 

In some alignment of the stars, the weekend of May 26/27 saw the brilliant Slam Dunk Fest hit the UK in a ray of brilliant sunshine – two distinctly annual events for the price of one – as the two-day celebration of rock, punk and metal arrived in Leeds for its seventh year running. The festival, which also includes a southern leg at Hatfield University, welcomed an absolutely goliath line-up this year which saw Taking Back Sunday headline the main stage, supported on stages across Leeds Students’ Union by bands like Motion City Soundtrack, Architects, Mayday Parade and Fightstar frontman Charlie Simpson in his capacity as a solo artist.

 

So in the blazing heat of northern England (I just wrote that? Wow) Leeds was a buzz of Converse from the city centre up the hill to the Students’ Union. One of the things that strikes me about Slam Dunk now is how communal it all feels; a huge number of artists play the festival (and for a really good price) but there’s no great sprawl between stages and everything is close enough to feel like everybody present is a part of the same event. This year, the site layout (including a marquee stage: more on that later) was perfect for getting about quickly, and it needed to be, too, with the heat.

 

Lower Than Atlantis (source: www.marianneharris.co.uk)

 

After watching Cartel play a stroke of an acoustic set in a secluded spot, the first band I got…

I recognise this isn’t exactly going to bolster my hipster cred.

“WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SONG, DUDE?” – for years, my go-to response when faced with this ludicrous question was Feeder’s ‘Just A Day’. On the not infrequent occasion that my tormentor didn’t know the song, or thought it was called ‘All By Myself’ (because all pop songs’ titles are their hook lines, duh), I would gleefully drag it up from the depths of my collection and admire the hold it still had over me. It astounded me that the sheer adrenaline and energy of that guitar riff (do do-do do, and so on) never wore off or ran aground; it still does the same things to me today, though now I have to measure my enthusiasm through an artistic spectrum because somewhere along the line it became not okay any more to just love awesome rock songs.

Except, you know, it is. I don’t drive, but if I decided to learn, it would be purely due to an imaginary scenario in which I just drive down the M1 and (probably) back all night listening to songs like ‘Just A Day’. But inside our adventurous natures (we’re all here because we explore music, right, instead of just absorbing it?) we sometimes manage to convince ourselves that the only things worth listening to are the abstract, the weird and the ironic. As a result of that conceit, we fail to care about those direct, simple songs, and as a result of…

Even though the Internet is, in theory, a technology which opens the floodgates and makes the acquisition of information more fluid, more chaotic, and more free, the simple truth is that as a result of that (over-)abundance, we feel the need to divide lest we forget how to conquer. What hypothetically should enable us to digest music without its labels ultimately leads us to label it even more ridiculously than we did before, to compartmentalise in new, almost innovative ways just in order to construct a road-map through the hell of cyberspace and the ideas with which we’re presented.

This isn’t exactly a revelation, but what interests me is the way we handle it when an unexpected event screws with our neat ideas of what constitutes good, bad, pop, metal: how do we adjust when someone moves the goalposts artistically? This has to be a test, because no person is capable of removing the art they’re experiencing entirely from its context or from the discourses surrounding it. Would that it were possible, but it isn’t.

So when Bon Iver punched through the speakers to deliver the curveball that was “Woods” way back on his Blood Bank EP, everyone went insane. You’ll recall that this was a point, distant though it now may seem, when Justin Vernon was still in most regards a cult superstar and perceived as a lonely, bearded guy with a guitar. Nobody expected anything else from him; if they claim they did, they’re having you on.…

Earlier this year, the world was meant to end. You’ll probably recall that it didn’t, but on looking around, you could probably just about be forgiven for keeping the champagne on ice; it’s not exactly pretty out there. With that in mind, there is obviously no room any more for miserable or downtrodden music. Forget F# A# Infinity: the true sound of the apocalypse is blind defiance in the form of these nine songs, some ecstatic, some considered, all (ultimately) optimistic. And it goes like this:

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Coldplay – Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

Said soundtrack begins, obviously, with a synth. Everything about Mylo Xyloto was euphoric and celebratory but this track is a microcosm of all the joy and release that Coldplay’s new album sprints through. In 4 minutes it morphs from an innocuous (but still insatiably catchy) beginning to a deafening climax. Every tear, every tear, every teardrop is a waterfall. Denial? Who cares.

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The Dangerous Summer – War Paint

Like those intro drums indicate, sometimes it’s better to clench your fists and rise to a challenge; here, it’s the noble cause of laying down your arms. Poltical relevance! But really, nobody pictures a battlefield in the Middle East on hearing the words “Come down; all the fighting’s over!” It’s packed full of adrenaline and conviction in all the right ways, and opens one of the most relentlessly energetic albums of 2011. COOOME DOWWWWWN…

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Scroobius Pip – Broken Promise

Hi. My name is Adam. I’m 22, I speak three languages, and I don’t believe in god. When I was 15 I got my heart broken and fell into radio pop-punk, which put it back together again without even thinking twice. Since then, I’ve gradually fallen deeper and deeper into music; I discovered post-rock through God Is An Astronaut and dubstep through Burial, and as it grew more dizzying it got more important. I love music.

Is it so wrong to admit that? And yet, almost every professional music publication in the world denies the humanity behind both its writers and its readers by presenting itself as wholly impartial. Critique 101 reads as follows: “don’t refer to yourself in the first-person; it looks unprofessional.” Is that what “professionalism” means now – detachment? How can you expect people to take seriously any article whose author claims that what he’s written is not a reflection of himself? Why would you want to? People don’t listen to music in a state of disconnect; whatever’s playing right now, the chances are that it’s making you feel something. So why would you ever want to even pretend that the best way to talk about music is by taking five or ten steps back? Or even one?

There is simply no such thing as an objective stance on music. OK Computer is not better than “Friday” by Rebecca Black. Sorry. I wish beyond all limits that it were possible to say so, but there are definitely…

Music does a lot of different things to a lot of different people but I think what I love about it the most is the way it can condense and translate the most complicated and screwed-up ideas, situations or emotions into a song, or (better) just a single line. Some artists have the capacity to say in a word what would take most people a paragraph. I think of Hemingway’s response to a friend’s wager that he couldn’t write a story in six words: For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn. I think what this kind of beautiful expression needs is a connection at the front end so powerful that instinct takes over and says it for you.

(Or, alternatively)

Sometimes artists express things in simple ways and it rules, LOOK, songs!

The Mountain Goats – Old College Try

I wanna say I’m sorry for stuff I haven’t done yet; things will shortly get completely out of hand.

I’m just delving into the Mountain Goats discography and I get the feeling this isn’t the only line he’s written that could fit on this list. To me, this line sums up that feeling of unavoidable chaos where you know you’re strapped into a ride that you should technically be able to stop but really, really can’t. What I absolutely adore about the way he phrases it is that it’s so matter-of-fact it almost makes it seem not his fault. Or mine.

Yeah. Stunning.

The Weakerthans – Virtute

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