The Guardian Indie

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  1. The Haunt, Brighton
    The crowd are left awestruck as Natalie Mering pares back the luscious Titanic Rising and strips down a Beach Boys classic

    Peering from the stage, Natalie Mering singles out a member of the audience. “This guy has been to every one of my shows for the last seven years,” she announces. “It’s been a journey, right?”

    It certainly has. From early dabblings in lo-fi noise and fractured, Syd Barrett-inspired freak folk, Mering has somehow wound up making Titanic Rising, a swooning update of early-70s west coast pop that feels suspiciously like one of the albums of the year. “It’s OK to write songs, right?” she adds.

    Related:Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising review – beauty deep enough to drown in

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  2. Royal Festival Hall, London
    Debuting their new album, I Am Easy to Find, the Ohio band herald a new phase as lead singer Matt Berninger mellows out

    Sometime this decade, the National won an indie-rock title fight that nobody knew they had entered. No unifying concert or pop culture moment, no critical consensus on a game-changing album. Yet this bookish troupe of Ohioans has grown to symbolise the possibilities for alternative music in the modern era. Their Grammy-winning 2017 album, Sleep Well Beast, sealed the deal, but what got them there, of course, is stamina. Forever maligned as the patron saints of boredom – that particular boredom suffered by highly strung music zealots – they stuck around for so long that detractors got bored with hating them.

    Anyone planning to disparage them as adult-contemporary frontiersmen could scarcely have chosen a better setting than the Royal Festival Hall. But at this one-off London show, the seated venue plays to their strengths. Precise acoustics suit the Dessner brothers’ fastidious arrangements, while charisma-beacon Matt Berninger – emboldened by a rapt, reverent audience – whips out gags with renewed enthusiasm. At one point, he teases co-singer Eve Owen with a slapstick routine; later, he plunges into the crowd to serenade a fan, stealing their phone and posing for selfies.

    Related:People: how the National and Bon Iver's streaming service frees musicians

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  3. Against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper and fascist thugs, bands in late-70s Leeds started creating the most dynamic DIY music in the UK – and all from a single pub

    In the late 1970s, a small group of art students at Leeds University created a pivotal hotbed of radical post-punk. Gang of Four’s jerky-punky-funky music would influence bands as diverse as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Massive Attack. Together with the jaggedly romantic Mekons and the slightly lesser-known Delta 5 (and, initially, the early Scritti Politti, who formed at the polytechnic), they established a blueprint of fiery, political, community and DIY-based creativity that reverberates through the city’s music scene to this day.

    “Some nights I’d watch Gang of Four and think, ‘I’m watching the best band in the world’,” original Mekons guitarist Kevin Lycett remembers over a green tea in the Fenton, the pub where the scene once congregated. “‘And they’re my mates. How on earth is this happening among people I get pissed with?’”

    You didn’t need to be a trained musician to make music – there was suspicion and derision if you were

    Related:50 great tracks for April by Holly Herndon, Amon Amarth, Shura and others

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  4. (Glassnote Records)

    Jade Bird talks a good fight: she writes her own songs; doesn’t want other people telling her how she feels; made her first recordings in the Catskills with Simone Felice. She’s got some people very excited – one US industry commentator reckoned last year: “If this were the late 80s, Jade Bird would already be a star.” That’s perhaps a decade out: her debut album is MOR-Americana-with-edges of the kind that Sheryl Crow and Meredith Brooks were having hits with in the 90s.

    Bird is unsparing about disappointing relationships (Uh Huh, Love Has All Been Done Before, Going Gone), and sometimes the plainness of the language imparts an unexpected force: in Good at It?, the “it” is the it of the eternal teenage urge – “Have you done it yet?” – and the angry baldness of the question hits home. Other times, though, the hominess of the phrasing undercuts the slyness of the song. Going Gone takes an unusual subject – the role of the girlfriend in propping up a feckless boyfriend – but “I hate to inform you’re still living in your mother’s house” sounds like the retort you blurt out before the killer line comes to mind.

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  5. Responding to a fan letter about censoring musicians accused of misconduct, Cave suggested ‘dissolute behaviour’ is key to rock’s identity

    He is seen as one of rock’n’roll’s last defenders: showman, icon, innovator. But the musician Nick Cave has cast aspersions on the beleaguered genre’s future as it faces a post-#MeToo reckoning with its legacy of bad behaviour.

    A fan wrote to Cave’s website, the Red Hand Files, to ask how he felt about “the current trend of connecting the shortcomings of an artist’s personal conduct and the art they create and using that criteria to determine if said works are corrupted and therefore to be relegated to the dustbins or not?”

    Related:The Ryan Adams allegations are the tip of an indie-music iceberg | Laura Snapes

    Related:Nick Cave is showing us a new, gentler way to use the internet | Russell Cunningham

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