Derek Robertson

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

DrownedInSound

Too Clever For Their Own Good? On Arctic Monkeys, Art, & Critical Kickings

There was a time when Arctic Monkeys could do no wrong. Alex Turner’s wry, savvy social commentary marked him out, at a mere 19 years of age, as a Poet Laureate for millennials, his lyrical dexterity earning comparisons to John Cooper Clark and Jarvis Cocker. The scorching, clever guitar anthems of their debut led to chart-topping singles, the Mercury Music Prize, and a rumoured million pound record deal; the last great superstar band, destined for greatness, headliners of the future.
Loud And Quiet

Parquet Courts 'Wide Awake' Review

What now for slacker rock? I’ve always had the feeling that Parquet Courts were late to the party. Had they appeared a few years earlier, they might have enjoyed the cultural cache and critical acclaim heaped on fellow New Yorkers The Strokes and Interpol. Then again, perhaps they’d have endured the same struggle to break free from that scene’s gravity. As it is, they’ve defiantly followed their own outsider instincts, pairing literate, savvy rock with skittish punk and fizzing guitars.
Gigwise

Coming In From The Cold: Iceage Interviewed

An audience with Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is not supposed to be an easy ride. He’s “rock’s most difficult frontman”, a scowling, sullen presence who wields paperback novels by cult writers like a shield. He’s the tempestuous frontman given to falling around on stage and howling at the heavens. He’s the dark and mysterious post-punk poet for Millenials, a modern-day Byron revelling in excess. And, above all, he has a well-documented dislike for music journalists and the endless rounds of promotion required for an album launch.
The Independent

Tallinn Music Week Review

It’s not every festival that opens with a heartfelt address by the actual President, but then Tallinn Music Week is a festival like no other. “I’m so proud to see how this has developed into a creative hub, combining the freshest thinking about music, the future of our cities, and facing environmental challenges,” says Kersti Kaljulaid in a keynote speech that also touches on love, our shared humanity, and what Martin Luther King can still teach us 50 years after his assassination.
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.
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