Divus Julius presents…International Teachers of Pop

When times are hard for Britain, Sheffield produces brilliant electronic pop groups. The Human League in the 80s, Moloko in the early 90s… and now International Teachers of Pop, arriving ready for Brexit with a dazzling debut album and tour.

They first appeared last summer with minor-key synthpop epic Age of the Train, which they described as “Northern Rail-baiting nerd disco”. A sample of an automated station announcement (about a delay to the 13.21 to Manchester airport) graced the middle-eight, and other songs tackle modern life’s absurdities through similarly witty means. On Repeat is about the monotony of going to work in May’s Britain set to a Giorgio Moroder-style soundtrack. A Kraftwerk-like cover of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wallis, fittingly, called The Re-moaner Mix.

ITOP are Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer (of Moonlandingz and theEccentronic Research Council), plus singer Leonore Wheatley, whose vocals give the music an iciness redolent of Ladytron. The album was written on analogue synthesisers and dusty drum machines, but the band have a shiny, contemporary vision.

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Hit of the week: Cage the Elephant “Ready to Let Go”

Deeply inspired by punk music, brothers Matt and Brad Shultz began playing music in high-school with fellow students Jared Champion and Daniel Tichenor. Shortly after forming the band, they made the bold move to London to begin their career. Their self-titled debut album gained them international attention, catapulting them up the Billboard Alternative and Rock charts and achieving RIAA Platinum certification.

Cage the Elephant have announced details of their fifth studio album, Social Cues, due April 19 via RCA Records. In advance of the release the band has shared the first single from the record, “Ready to Let Go,” with a video directed by lead singer Matt Shultz.

Favourite Gig: Passenger

There have always been two sides to Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger: the epic, radio-friendly sound represented by his international number one single, Let Her Go, and his UK number one album, Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea (2016), and the more introverted, singer-songwriter side heard, for instance, on Whispers II(2015) and The Boy Who Cried Wolf (2017). 



Runaway, the new album, finds Passenger embracing the epic once again: the melodies are unforgettable, the choruses colossal. Sonically, too, Runaway draws on Americana, for instance the early work of Ryan Adams. Passenger has come a long way since the release of his first album, Wicked Man’s Rest, back in 2007. The initial incarnation, in which Rosenberg was backed by a full band, was followed by his reinvention as a solo artist and a period of busking, largely in Australia and New Zealand. Suite Festival present him tonight in concert at Gran Teatre del Liceu.

Music by Berman: These New Puritans 

The last we heard from Essex brother duo These New Puritans was earlier this decade with acclaimed album Field of Reeds – an album of sombre, stark indie rock as powerful as Radiohead’s Kid A.

Now, the band, whose core members are brothers Jack and George Bennett, are back with the song ‘Into The Fire’. It’s their first material in five years and it’s not dampened our admiration of their musical ability one bit.

A truly innovative group, the atmospheric track, marries melancholic vocals, choppy drums, doom-y piano, a sinister choir and some distorted bass. Strange samples, somewhat akin to martial arts sounds, and other layers of multi-effects add to conjure an air of chaos and distress. Despite all this sonic experimentation, there is a song at the heart of it that feels somewhat familiar and melodic.

Lyrically, it’s quite existential with numerous panicked references about falling into the sun, it seems.

Best Covers: The Lemonheads “Can’t Forget”

Evan Dando started the Boston fuzz-pop band the Lemonheads in 1986, and they went on to make some serious alt-rock radio hits in the ’90s. They broke up in 1997 and got back together in 2005, but it’s been a long time since we heard anything from the Lemonheads.

The first thing that we get to hear is the Lemonhead’s take on Yo La Tengo’s “Can’t Forget,” a lovely low-key ramble from YLT’s 1990 album Fakebook included in their new covers album ‘Varshons 2’

The muses of La Musa: r.e.a.l.

They are not only a cool image, although you must see how scandalously magical their photos are. The temptation to get hooked on r.e.a.l just for their fashion design is overwhelming. The music by Isabel and Sara is above the rhetoric of fads and capital letters. The experimental electronic pop music, according to their own definition, of these two Madrid-based Galician artists draws you in because it appears before you soft and elegant and very refined. That is until you stretch out your hand and, ouch, it pricks. Like some of the names that they mention here and there in their interviews (Warpaint, King Krule, Jon Hopkins, Olafur Arnalds, Grimes…) their beauty is all the more beautiful because… it hurts.

Favourite Gig: Balthazar

Balthazar was one of the great discoveries of VIDA 2016. An elegant, warm and bright pop, signed by the tandem between Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Pérez, who captivated both the public and the specialized press. After four years of silence and enjoying at the last two editions of VIDA of their parallel projects -Warhaus and J. Bernardt-, Balthazar announces their long-awaited return with “Fever” (Play It Again Sam, 2019). A fourth studio album that will be released on January 25 and we can already enjoy the first single by the same name. Tonight at La 2 de sala Apolo.

Radio Magazine about Barcelona's indie and alternative music & culture scene. Live broadcast every Monday from 6:45PM to 9:30PM at Barcelona FM 100.5