Derek Robertson

Editor-In-Chief @ Drowned In Sound. Freelance journalist and music writer: Guardian, Independent, The Quietus, Clash, Loud & Quiet, The Skinny, Gigwise.

Loud And Quiet

Sunflower Bean 'Twentytwo In Blue' Review

It wasn't that long ago that Sunflower Bean were being talked up as NYC'€™s coolest young band. Given the musical delights that forever pour out of that city, it was quite the accolade. Sure, they were never going to win any awards for originality, but there was a certain frisson to the songs that made up their debut album, ‘Human Ceremony’, even if it sounded a little one-paced for a group allegedly in thrall to Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, and The Velvet Underground.
DrownedInSound

We Love EU: The EBBA Awards

Of all the things I expect to encounter at The European Border Breaker Awards, Jools Holland bounding out onto the stage like an enthusiastic Labrador puppy isn’t one of them. But here he is, joshing with the warm-up man and explaining precisely how the night is going to work and when to applaud in that deliberate, stilting delivery of his. “Are you ready Groningen?” he asks. “I said, Are you ready Groningen?” Everyone whoops and hollers, and settles in for the show.
Loud And Quiet

Moaning 'Moaning' Review

"We'€™re the same / Everything else has changed"€ moaned singer and guitarist Sean Solomon on early single ‘The Same’. It's a neat line, succinctly expressing eternal desires and the frustration of a generation that feels cheated. That the accompanying homemade video showed the band playing on as friends set about demolishing the house around them with sledgehammers and pick-axes just extended the metaphor in a number of directions: you have to tear things down to build anew; smash the system; the circle of life.
DrownedInSound

Disco Inferno: Franz Ferdinand Interviewed

Even after sixteen years, there’s still a certain amount of glamour attached to Franz Ferdinand. “I’ll be with you in a moment, I just have to choose something to wear tonight,” says singer Alex Kapranos standing in front of a large, portable wardrobe. Its contents would be familiar to anyone who’s followed the band’s rise from scratchy art-school upstarts to indie juggernaut; sharply tailored trousers, geometrically patterned shirts, a smattering of leopard skin.
Gigwise

Superorganism's 'Reflection On The Screen' Reviewed

By now, you’ve no doubt heard of Superorganism. Specifically, it’s been pretty hard to escape ‘Something For My M.I.N.D’, the warped, technicolour pop nugget that set music Twitter ablaze this time last year. The eight-piece international collective – described by some as “part pop-group, part cult, full hivemind” – have a backstory that’s ripe for buzz (they live together in East London!; the singer is a 17-year-old Japanese kid they met on the internet!; they wear neon- coloured raincoats and 3D glasses!) and while all that might grate, thus far their music has charmed just enough to offset the more studied elements of their “art”.
The Quietus

The Boys Still Shout: Young Fathers Interviewed

Young Fathers are having an argument. An enquiry as to their thoughts on the power of modern pop stars as agents of change compared to more traditional “protest” music has set Graham ‘G’ Hastings and Alloysious Massaquoi off on a passionate back and forth. “Pop music has lost a lot of its power politically and socially,” says Hastings. “I’m not sure about that,” retorts Massaquoi. “Look at the biggest stars; they’re more relevant than politicians or governments. That’s because they’ve had hit songs, they’re all over popular culture.”
The Independent

Franz Ferdinand Live @ The Hippodrome

"We don’t often get a chance to play a matinee show, so it’d be wrong not to play this,” announces singer Alex Kapranos before Franz Ferdinand launch into "The Dark Of The Matinée", a curious tale of art-school passion lifted from their debut album. It’s the second song of nine the band breeze through for an early, all-ages show at The Hippodrome – a longer, adult-only show follows later – and it’s testament to their enduring appeal just how many teenagers bounce and dance and sing along, familiar with every word and nuance.
Loud And Quiet

Ezra Furman 'Transangelic Exodus' Review

Ezra Furman has never played by the rules. The 31-year-old has become one of pop’s unlikelier heroes, a performer of rare honesty who gained a sizeable cult following 2013’s ‘Day Of The Dog’ at the very point he was considering giving up music to become a teacher. So it makes a strange kind of sense that ‘Transangelic Exodus’, his fourth solo record and one that’s supposed to launch him towards pop superstardom, is something of a concept album; "€œa queer outlaw saga"€ as he puts it.
DrownedInSound

Unknown Pleasures: DiS Does Vil Vil Vest 2017

The first thing you learn about Bergen is that it’s full of colourful characters. People like Antonio Stasi for example. The Calabrian, who studied photography and architecture at Florence’s prestigious Università degli Studi di Firenze, arrived here 25 years ago and never left, opening a photography shop that deals exclusively with analogue formats and vintage cameras. “We were the last shop in the world selling actual film ten years ago,” he tells me, animatedly puffing on a cigarette.
DrownedInSound

Musical Ecstasy: DiS Does Le Guess Who?

A hush falls over the packed pews inside the neo-Romanesque Antoniuskerk as Karima el Fillali and Jamil al Asadi take to the stage. Al Asadi’s fingers start a slow, measured dance over his qanûn), a fiendishly intricate, complicated instrument, building up rhythms and weaving melodies while El Fillali’s voice rings out, strong and pure, a spiritual call that stirs the soul. The duo are performing tarab, a merger between music and emotional transformation that’s best translated as “musical ecstasy".
DrownedInSound

Francesco Tristano Live @ Royal Festival Hall

Francesco Tristano creates worlds. His songs often start off slow and gentle, but they gather momentum, spinning higher and faster. Even those that maintain a more somnambulant pace deepen in intensity. Such mastery of pace makes sense when you consider his excursions into house and techno; not only has he recorded an album of piano versions of Detroit anthems (2007’s Not For Piano), but he’s also experimented with dark’n’dirty dancefloor grooves (2006’s gritty Surface Tension).
DrownedInSound

Liam Gallagher 'As You Were' Review

Will rock’n’roll ever die? Not if Liam Gallagher has anything to do with it. He’s the self-appointed guardian of the cocksure frontman, keeper of the flame, defined by attitude as much as talent and a belief that the world should bend to your will. He’s the last of the old school hell raisers, putting the world to rights and swaggering across what’s left of a musical landscape flattened by the Britpop wars and 'cocaine panzers'.
DrownedInSound

Still Got Soul: DiS Meets The Killers

It’s only 3pm, but already the crowd outside Brixton Academy is swelling. They’re here not just to grab a spot at the front of the queue for tonight’s gig, but to hopefully meet their heroes as well. People congregate around the stage door, on the corner of Astoria Walk, and three black people carriers with tinted windows pull up. Two speed away (to the other side of the building) without dropping anyone off, and a few people shuffle out of the third. They are not The Killers. y
DrownedInSound

Weathering The Storm: DiS Does Haven Festivalen

It’s been a tough year for festivals. Aside from the fiascos at Y Not and Hope & Glory, who can forget the schadenfreude of watching the disaster that was Fyre Festival – “first class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere” – unfold on social media? Add sluggish sales for all but a handful of marquee events to the sense that the market for summer musical events is well past saturation point, and it’s a surprise that anyone would want to start a new one. To paraphrase an old joke: How do you make a small fortune from a festival? Start with a large one.
The Guardian

Neon Waltz: Dodging Superfans & Sheep With Britain's Most Northerly Band

Of all the things you might expect to find in Wick, a gently euphoric indie band probably wouldn’t feature high on your list. The town of just over 6,000 sits at the very north-eastern tip of Scotland, three hours from Inverness, seven from Glasgow – “the arse end of nowhere,” as Darren Coghill, drummer for Neon Waltz, jokingly puts it. It’s the sort of place where deer roam freely and castles outnumber supermarkets. Even the band themselves seem faintly bemused by their success.
The Independent

LCD Soundsystem Live @ Vega, Copenhagen

Expectation is in the air, and for good reason. It’s been over six years since LCD Soundsystem last played a standalone show in Europe, and after last year’s triumphant run of festival headline slots, they finally have some new material to showcase. Yet despite the near universal acclaim garnered by recent album American Dream, there’s a sense that, with this three-night stand in Copenhagen’s Vega, James Murphy & co are easing themselves slowly back into the game, reluctant to overplay their hand.
DrownedInSound

LCD Soundsystem 'American Dream' Review

Goodbyes are hard. Nothing ever lasts forever, but the sting remains, and knowing that it’s coming often does little to soothe the pain. In April 2011, it didn’t seem real that the puckish, enigmatic James Murphy was making good on his promise to end LCD Soundsystem with the world at his feet. The kid singing along to ‘All My Friends’, or those lost in tears and quiet despair captured the sorrow that runs throughout Shut Up And Play the Hits, the documentary filmed around their farewell concert; at one point even Murphy himself, standing in a room full of no-longer-required equipment, breaks down and sobs.
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