The Spiritual Sounds of London Grammar

It’s been said that listening to British trio London Grammar is something of a spiritual experience. Were this listener to wax lyrical, she might say that lead singer Hannah Reid is like a cathedral choir of one—her ethereal voice soaring over aching electro beats, up into the rafters and out through the stained glass windows. Church is a place for confession, so maybe it makes sense that the members of London Grammar are known for making some candid admissions. In interviews, they’ve spoken at length about crippling performance anxiety, the destructive nature of touring, their fear of fame’s unforgiving spotlight—and this time around, how they underwent a kind of musical amnesia.

“Making our second album was very difficult—harder than the first,” says Dan Rothman, the band’s charismatic guitarist. “Our tastes had developed and changed, and there’s just so much weird shit going on in the world. We’d also been on tour for so long that when we came back to the studio, we’d forgotten how to do it.” 

The tour in question was for the band’s first album, If You Wait, which debuted in 2013 with hits like “Hey Now” and “Strong,” and which won them the iTunes Album of the Year award—along with a frenzied cult following. Often likened to The xx (a comparison they’ve called “lazy”), their music is a medley of soulful piano riffs, restrained electronic beats and reverberating balladry evoking the quandaries of heartbreak, the pain of youth—along with the panic of it slipping away. In June, London Grammar releases its hotly anticipated second collection, Truth is a Beautiful Thing, which throws the doors open on their sumptuous style with a sound that’s altogether more expansive, orchestral and upbeat. But true to form, despite the album’s hype, the band still admits to some anxiety about its reception. 

“Generally, with your first album, you never consider the fact that anyone would actually listen to it,” says Dot Major, the trio’s keyboardist and drummer. Adds Rothman, “We’re not the kind of band, unfortunately, that can judge success on where we chart.” At least one fan would say that’s not the worst thing. As Elton John recently commented, “[London Grammar] is not the kind of music that gets in the charts these days, because there’s no room for intelligence in the charts.” So success must be measured in less quantitative ways. “I’m excited about playing festivals,” Rothman says. “I think that’s the real barometer of whether people have actually been listening to the new album. Either they’ll turn up to see us, or they won’t.” Even in the four years since they arrived on the scene, the music industry has changed dramatically, and the band says that navigating it often feels like a shot in the dark. “The Internet has been amazing for music,” says vocalist Reid. “But it’s changed how young people value it, because it’s so accessible. I hope streaming becomes monetized in a more ethical way for the artist. Especially for independent musicians.”

Although London Grammar is signed to Columbia Records, independence of process is deeply integral to their DNA. While many of today’s younger artists are opting for fame with quickie collaborations, they’re hoping to land in the “longevity category,” as Rothman says.

“I think a lot of artists now become defined by the collaborations they do,” he continues. “We haven’t done much collaborating. I think that’s probably because we needed to get our own shit together. It’s hard enough collaborating between the three of us. Maybe on the next album we’ll do it more…” he pauses for a moment. “I think Hannah’s voice would sound great on a Drake track.” Let’s hope Drake joins the congregation soon. 

Main Image: From left to right: Dan Rothman, Hannah Reid and Dominic “Dot” Major in Ravenscourt Park, West London

Grooming by Lauren Reynolds using 3ina and Unite.

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It Sounds Ridiculous But this Video Featuring The Vengaboys WILL Make Your Tuesday Better

Look, it’s a depressing, scary world out there.

When it comes to things bringing joy, we gotta take what we can. Most of the time we can guess what form that joy might take. Dogs. A loved one. I’m going to a metal festival next week.

Most of the time we can tell.

But sometimes all the joy in the world seems to be contained in a video of some people driving down an anonymous road in the middle of the night, blasting a hit song by awful Dutch eurodance group, The Vengaboys.

I know, I know, but look, I don’t make the rules:

Who are these eurodance vigilantes, gliding up to an abandoned horde of revellers, delivering euphoric cheese-synth in hours of need? I’d probably hate them all after a few minutes. But just then and there, in that capsule of time?


And I would apologize for getting that song stuck in your head now for the next week or so, but…

Well, you know.


Petr Knava
lives in London and plays music


Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon «Bro-Biking» Together Looks as Hilarious as It Sounds

Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon have been making us laugh for years with their quirky friendship, and their latest adventure is no different. On Saturday, Justin shared a hilarious video of him and Jimmy riding a tandem bike in the Hamptons, or, as Justin put it «bro-biking.» Between the bike bell and Jimmy’s reaction, we can’t stop laughing — and you won’t be able to, either.

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‘Batman and Harley Quinn’ Animated Movie Sounds A Little…Off

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DC Animated Movies are amazing. Let’s just not talk about those additional scenes taped on the beginning of The Killing Joke and we can stay friends.

The third DC animated film this year is Batman and Harley Quinn, directed by Sam Liu (The Killing Joke) and co-written by Bruce Timm (Too much wonderful to list) and Jim Krieg (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox). When Poison Ivy and Floronic Man team up to take over the world with weird plant-related plans, Batman and Night Wing track down Harley Quinn to lead them to her best friend.

I’m on board with the storyline, because it’s always fun when Harley tries to help Bats. We have Kevin Conroy back as Batman and Loren Lester as Nightwing. Paget Brewster is voicing Poison Ivy. And Harley? Well, Harley is being voiced by Melissa Rauch (The Big Bang Theory) instead of Tara Strong and the result is cringe-inducing.

Oh my gooooood, Rauch is a terrible Harley Quinn. She’s uneven and grating and awful.

I’ll probably still give the flick a chance though.


The Best Man’s Speech at Pippa’s Wedding Sounds Like It Was Pretty Terrible

Pippa Middleton and James Matthews tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony in the English countryside on Saturday, but not every moment of their big day was perfect. After Kate Middleton’s younger sister walked down the aisle in a gorgeous Giles Deacon dress, the couple headed to the Middleton family’s estate for the reception. Just as the night’s festivities were really kicking into gear, James’s best man, Justin Johannsen, delivered a 10-minute speech to the 300 guests. According to E! News, Justin began his speech at around 11:30 p.m., which started off with innocently thanking everyone for coming. Things took an unfortunate turn, however, when he compared Pippa to James’s dog (not kidding). Justin brought up «the love of James’ life,» whom he called «beautiful, energetic, loyal, and soft-mouthed,» adding that she «comes on command» and has a «great behind.» «But that’s enough about James’s spaniel,» he said. «I’m here to talk about James’s love, Pippa.»

He went on to poke fun at Pippa’s prewedding workouts, saying, «First, some messages from those who couldn’t be here today: ‘Wish Pippa the best with the hair. We have really enjoyed seeing you and how you have mastered interpretive dance. Don’t forget to buttock clench on the star jumps.’ That’s from Steve and the gang at the Crazy Feet dance studio in Soho.» He also touched on his fear of losing the rings, saying, «James doesn’t know this but I have a habit of losing things. Not often, but they are usually quite expensive. I resolved to keep them on my person the entire time that they were in my custody. We both got up for a run early this morning and James jokingly asked if the rings were on my person. I had them in a shower cap tucked in my shorts. He said, ‘Really? In a shower cap? I don’t want that in my head when I am putting the ring on Pippa’s finger in the church.’ I’m sure it wasn’t on your mind in the church, but it’s on your mind now. Sorry, Pippa.'»

Despite the cringeworthy jokes, Justin also made sure to talk about Pippa and James’s love story. «I think I can say for everyone, that you look stunning,» he said while addressing Pippa directly. «The image of perfection. I know that James first fell in love with your gutsiness and your spirit and then succumbed to your beauty. You make James extremely happy. You have a voir la joie that warms the hearts of everyone who knows you, and you have won the heart of the best man that I know.»

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Vanessa Hudgens Rapping Nicki Minaj on Stage Is Just as Cringeworthy as It Sounds

Vanessa Hudgens wasn’t afraid to belt it out when she cohosted the Billboard Music Awards alongside Ludacris on Sunday night. Following Nicki Minaj’s opening performance, Vanessa went through a little lighthearted hazing by rapping a few lines on stage. Even though Drake looked a little less than impressed watching from the audience, Vanessa was a total good sport about the whole ordeal, turning the staircase into her own personal catwalk. She even channeled Céline Dion by singing her hit «The Power of Love.» Let’s just say, girl has pipes!

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Riverdale’s Archie Sounds VERY Different in Real Life

Riverdale is one of our newest obsessions for many reasons: the juicy drama, the talented cast, and yes, the extremely attractive KJ Apa (Archie Andrews). The 19-year-old actor (can you believe he’s only 19?!) is an all-American type of guy on the show. His character is an athlete, a musician, and, after going through puberty the Summer before the show begins, is a huge hit with the ladies of Riverdale High School. While he nails his cute American accent on the show, he actually sounds completely different in real life.

KJ, who has formed a cute bromance with costar Cole Sprouse who plays Jughead Jones (he’s also real hot, fyi), was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. His father is actually Samoan and is a Matai (chief) of his village in Samoa. Hearing KJ talk in his regular accent is slightly jarring if you’re a fan of The CW show, but we definitely aren’t complaining.

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