Archive for the ‘ALBUMS’ Category

There’s a bittersweet beauty to the passing of time, the changes it brings are just as often heartbreaking as they are heartwarming. The inevitable tension that arises from that sway is Gretchen Peters’ most trusted muse. With melody supporting that melancholy, the songs on Peters’ new album, Dancing With The Beast, combine to lift the effort over the high artistic bar set by her last outing, 2015’s award-winning Blackbirds. Strung together and populated with strong and broken female heroines, those vignettes make up Dancing With The Beast and, indeed, Peters’ entire discography.

Dancing With The Beast puts female characters at the fore, from teenage girls to old women. And intentionally so. With the 2017 Women’s March and #MeToo Movement as bookends to her writing time, Peters knew that a feminist perspective would be the critical core of the record. She admits, “You can trace the feminist DNA in my songwriting back to ‘Independence Day’ and probably before. The thing that 2017 did is just put it front and center.”

Beauty tempered by dread, sorrow buoyed by hope, these are the ever-present tugs of war that make life worth living and songs worth writing. And they are the over-riding themes that make Gretchen Peters one of her generation’s most compelling singer/songwriters.

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Strung together and populated with strong and broken female heroines, Dancing With The Beast has a bittersweet beauty that lifts it over the high artistic bar set by her last outing, 2015’s award-winning Blackbirds

“Beautifully defined and utterly compelling album.. Peters’ ability to give voice to believable characters is unbeatable.” –

“Right now, you would be hard-pressed to find a better songwriter than Gretchen Peters. Her willingness to sing about tough, somber subjects is a rarity in the industry, and on her new album, Dancing With The Beast (due out May 18th), she continues to prove her mastery.” – The Shotgun Seat

“50 minutes of exquisite-sounding emotional devastation, depression, murder and heartbreak” – The Tennessean

 

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The follow-up to Jenny Hval’s acclaimed 2016 album Blood Bitch is The Long Sleep, an adventurous new EP that sees the Norwegian multidisciplinary artist embracing an instinctive, even subconscious, approach to creating meaning. In contrast to Hval’s more explicitly conceptual work, The Long Sleep foregrounds the act of composition itself, letting the melodies and structures reveal the other elements of the songs. All of the songs on the EP recycle the same compositional motives, but manipulate them into very different shapes that take them further and further out of their original, “life-like” context.

Hval recorded The Long Sleep with longtime collaborator Håvard Volden and producer Lasse Marhaug, along with an ace new supporting cast of talented players from the jazz world — Kyrre Laastad on percussion, Anja Lauvdal on piano, Espen Reinertsen on saxophone, and Eivind Lønning on trumpet. Hval calls them some of her favorite contemporary musicians, and their musical background helps to give the songs on The Long Sleep their intuitive, improvised feel.

Releases May 25th, 2018

If Beach Slang is James Alex fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is him head-over-heels for The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt.” Their first two and a half years as a band (2014-2016) saw them release two great EPs and two great full-length albums, and that’s not counting their cool covers EPs where they pay tribute to the artists they very openly love. If they were to put out a “greatest hits,” it’d be one of the most rock-solid punk albums of our time, and frontman (and only remaining original member) James Alex has sort of done just that with his new solo album as Quiet Slang. Titled Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, it’s stripped down versions of ten of Beach Slang’s best songs, from their first EP to their latest album, re-arranged for piano, cello, and voice.

This is an utterly gorgeous record that moves, inspires, and invites mixtape inclusion at every turn, Alex’s punk rock transformed into ethereal hymns to love and comradeship. A true delight.”

“Musically, these new versions feel totally natural, with Slang’s melodies holding up to scrutiny and the simple chord patterns leaving room for piano and cello to decorate the songs.

Beach Slang can be a raging punk band, but they’ve always had a sweet side to their songs, and that comes through loud and clear (well, quiet and clear) on Everything Matters. The songs sound beautiful with these arrangements, and in their own way, they’re just as effective as the originals. Who knew that the headbanging punk of “Filthy Luck” could work as a minimal piano ballad, or that the fist-raising “The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk!” shouts of “Noisy Heaven” could flow so gorgeously into a sea of cello? It’s a really special record, one that could easily appeal to longtime Beach Slang fans and newcomers alike, and we’re excited to be premiering a stream of the whole thing. Listen, along with the just-released video for “Future Mixtape For The Art Kids,” .

Considering that, there’s something almost cheeky about the title of his new project: Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that’s set to drop on May 18th.

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That’s when he turned to the project’s key influence: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. Merritt’s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. “Why do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?” goes the final lines of “100,000 Fireflies.” “We should be whispering all the time.”

“That just always stuck with me,” Alex says, “how quiet can sometimes be more powerful.” He continues, “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.”

Quiet Slang

This album has a way of digging deep inside the listener, hooking on to emotions saved only for the most solemn or ethereal experiences. Adult Mom is real life magic and this album is proof of that.

its cute and simple and very pleasing, Stephanie Knipe brought totally loving love songs and truly hateful hate songs, like a home-made lo-fi cassette version of the SZA album. Adult Mom shows off the acerbic wit that turned heads on tapes like Sometimes Bad Happens and Momentary Lapse of Happily. Nine songs in 26 minutes, peaking with “Same,” where Knipe strums a hate letter to somebody barely even worth the time it took to write the song.

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Released in celebration of the one year anniversary of Adult Mom’s critically acclaimed sophomore LP, Soft Spots, these 9 demo tracks are stripped down and straightforward, yet equally as moving and powerful as the fully orchestrated songs they would eventually become. Intimate, deeply personal and without pretense, Soft Spots (Demos) showcases what Adult Mom’s Stephanie Knipe can do with their voice, a guitar and an iPhone.

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Band Members
stephanie knipe, bruce hamilton, liv battell

The Nude Party – one of 2018’s most groovy and dynamic rock records is produced by Oakley Munson of The Black Lips and recorded in Woodstock, NY at Dreamland Recording Studios, the circa-1896 former St. John’s Church. The self-titled album finds that formidable music machine cranked all the way to cosmic. Maybe it’s the electric waters of Lake Norman, NC where the band spent a primordial summer, or the upstate New York vibes that have beckoned American spiritualists and storytellers for a dozen generations, but something gives these cats a glow. At very least the numerology scans. Even when heartbreak crashes the party, like on the hilarious “Records,” the buoyancy of the band’s demeanor negates the inevitable bummer. From the self-aware irreverence of “Chevrolet Van” to the apocalyptic resignation of “War Is Coming,” The Nude Party surfs heavy wavelengths with elegance and grace.

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on New West Records

River Whyless have released a beautiful new track titled “Motel 6”, taken from their forthcoming new album Kindness, A Rebel. Penned by the band’s Ryan O’Keefe, “Motel 6” was inspired by their experience of being a band on the road over the last decade and a sudden moment of realization.

“We were driving home from a tough supporting tour, we were broke, which wasn’t uncommon. Halli had just moved to Oregon and we’d dropped her at a Motel 6 to spend the night before her morning flight. Watching her check into the motel as we pulled away felt like an ending. It was as if I removed a pair of tunnel vision goggles and could see the world and my life for the first time since we started this band. I felt incredibly small, fragile, irresponsible, foolish, at a loss for what to do next and very alone. The reality of what we had been trying to do for a decade came crashing down in an almost laughable way. We didn’t talk about it and I don’t know if anyone felt the same way but, at that moment, I changed. The funny thing is that a month later we had the most successful tour we’ve ever had.” — Ryan O’Keefe, River Whyless

Kindness, A Rebel will be available everywhere on June 8th Available as opaque white LP, CD, and digital download. All physical orders include an exclusive KAR flag enamel pin, as well as an immediate download of all three singles released so far.

Valley Queen! The LA-based band, fronted by Natalie Carol, released their 2017 Destroyer EP to widespread critical acclaim, with the track “Stars Align” even named one of Top 50 songs of the year on NPR’s All Songs Considered.

When asked what this album is about, I’ve gone mute. The bulk of the songs on this record were written over the past two years in my bedroom, backyard, or plucking away in the back of the van on Neil’s old Japanese guitar and headphones. I realize now a lot of the songs were written in fever dreams, fits of aggression, hot anger, ecstasy, longing, quietude.
In the experience of falling in love, going on tour in very seedy situations, being broke and in debt, self doubting, the band Valley Queen breaking up, the band Valley Queen getting back together, the guitar has always been sitting there for me to pick up and hammer out the inner reality of the external situation. We’re still here, and Supergiant tells you why.
I’m still as lost as ever, no conclusions have been made, no greater wisdom to impart – but for now, this is all I have.
What ecstasy. What a ride.  “Supergiant” is now live 

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Announcing Supergiant – July 13th on Roll Call Records

Jessica’s Brother is the eponymous debut album from London trio Jessica’s Brother, comprised of songwriter Tom Charleston, Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) and Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band). Channelling the spirit of the Brothers Grimm to create an otherworldly atmosphere, they weave their motley influences together making a rich and eclectic vision, with nods to Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson and Neil Young. There are themes of joy, anger and silliness in a carefully crafted world with a colourful cast of characters.
The trio formed in October 2016. Jonny and Charlie worked together in a framing business and had often talked about collaborating in a band together. Fate intervened when Jonny’s girlfriend Jessica introduced him to her brother Tom, and they found a songwriter in waiting. The trio clicked immediately and just nine months later they recorded the album with Laurie Sherman at The Booze Cube in Stoke Newington, with input from Darren Hayman. A few other friends joined them in the studio, including Dan Mayfield (Enderby’s Room), who added a dose of Bad Seeds/Dirty Three vibes on the violin and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’/Tigercats) lent a hint of country twang on guitar and slide guitar.

With Jessica’s Brother, we see Tom Charleston’s songwriting blossoming in to a tour de force. Influenced more by poets than other musicians, he cites John Ashbery, T.S. Eliot and Philip Larkin as inspirations. He is drawn to how they can be irreverent, unassuming and playful, as he explains; “I suppose I wanted to offer something lyrically engaging and hopefully different.” His modestly lofty ambitions have paid off, with ten startling individual vignettes telling their own stories from a variety of narrator’s points of view.

“Humdinger” is perhaps the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquility is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral. If you’re going to call a track Humdinger, it had better be, well, a humdinger, and thankfully these chaps know what they’re doing. Probably their most languid and sun-drenched moment to date, Humdinger, is a wonderful fusion of serenity and the quiet feeling that it can’t possibly last, as Tom explains it is, “the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquillity is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral.” Musically, it never gets above a gentle shuffle, yet in the easy languid bass, meandering guitars and steady, perfectly judged drums, there’s more than enough to hold the listener’s attention. This laid-back style also allows Tom’s lyrics to shine, as his vocal, sometimes accompanied by a female vocal (as far as we know unidentified), sing out, “lo humdinger, I’m just a lazy singer with my mind in two.” Always poetic, always musically intriguing; sure it’s unlikely to make much of a fuss, but make no mistake, Jessica’s Brother’s debut album might just be one of 2018’s most exciting .

Weaving a variety of influences from jangly indie-rock to gothic country and contemplative psych folk, Jessica’s Brother create the sound of a band coming together and getting caught up in the rush of starting new and enjoyable. The instruments clamber over each other in a small room, with Helm’s distinctive drumming counterbalances the gothic guitar thrums and wailing violin.

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Released by: Fika Recordings, Release date: 4th May 2018

The Flying Burrito Brothers The Gilded Palace Of Sin album cover web optimised 820

When The Gilded Palace Of Sin was released, on 6th February 1969, sales were initially not good but their debut album by The Flying Burrito Brothers has since earned its status as one of the defining albums of country-rock and Americana music. named it as one of the 500 essential albums all music lovers should own.

Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman formed the The Flying Burrito Brothers after both leaving The Byrds. They brought in bassist Chris Ethridge and pedal steel guitarist Pete Kleinow to complete the line-up, appropriating the band’s name from a group of Los Angeles musicians who gathered for jam sessions.

“We’re a rock’n’roll band that sounds like a country band,” said Gram Parsons, a Harvard theology student drop-out who was 22 when the album was made. The singer-songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist is acclaimed as one of the most innovative forces in country music, becoming a huge influence on musicians as diverse as Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams.

There are 11 songs on The Gilded Palace Of Sin, including the haunting classic ‘Sin City’, which was co-written by Hillman and Parsons, and which included allusions to contemporary figures such as Robert Kennedy (“A friend came around/Tried to clean up this town”), who had been assassinated in June 1968.

Hillman said he woke up one morning with the lines “This old town’s filled with sin/It’ll swallow you in” swimming in his head. He roused his flatmate Parsons and they completed the song in about 30 minutes. “It was just before Christmas and it was about to rain; and we were living in the San Fernando Valley in a tract type home,” Hillman recalled. ‘Sin City’ has been covered by scores of musicians .

There was a spontaneity to the album’s production that helps make The Gilded Palace Of Sin sound fresh half a century later. Chris Ethridge said, “I told Gram I had a couple of old melodies from back when I was growing up. I played them for him and we wrote the two songs that day, ‘Hot Burrito #1’ and ‘Hot Burrito #2’, and then that night went into the studio and cut ’em.”

As well as being full of modern Americana classics – including the achingly beautiful two-part harmonies on songs such as ‘Juanita’ and ‘Wheels’ – there were also innovative cover songs. Hillman said that Parsons opened him up to new musical experiences by setting the challenge of taking great soul songs – such as ‘The Dark End Of The Street’ – and reinventing them.

Hillman said, “We also took the interesting song ‘Do Right Woman, Do Right Man’, which was Aretha Franklin’s big soul song at the time, but we did it country. That was the genius of Parsons. He got me into looking beyond the country parameters.” They brought in David Crosby to sing backing vocals on that track.

Drummer Jon Corneal, who had worked with a teenage Parsons in The International Submarine Band, and went on to work with Loretta Lynn, played on five tracks and was one of four drummers used on the album.

One of the qualities that underscores the whole album, right from the energetic opening track, ‘Christine’s Song’, is the brilliant playing of “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow’s pedal steel guitar. In 1969, the Burritos didn’t really have a lead guitarist so a lot of the solos fell to Kleinow. Parsons used to call him “The Maharishi Of Country Music”, and Kleinow became one of the most sought-after session musicians in the business.

‘My Uncle’ (the only track to feature Hillman on mandolin) and ‘Hippie Boy’ are counterculture songs of the time about the Vietnam draft and the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago, which Parsons described as “the toughest challenge on the album”.

The album’s artwork is also special. It was overseen by Tom Wilkes, who had joined A&M after being the art director of the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Parsons had arranged for custom-made Nudie suits to be created by the acclaimed designer Nudie Cohn. Parson’s one, which featured red poppies and marijuana leaves, hangs in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. Wilkes said: “We decided to take them out to the desert and do something kind of surreal with the Nudie suits, shot by Barry Feinstein. And they looked great anyway. They looked funky and kind of country western and kind of rock.”

Gram Parsons, who was aged 26 when he died, in 1973, left a marvellous legacy, including The Gilded Palace Of Sin, which helped draw the blueprint for both 70s country-rock, Americana and the alt.country sound.

Where next after the album Surf’s Up?That was the question for The Beach Boys as they sailed the uncertain commercial waters of the early 1970s. The surprising answer was an album in which Brian Wilson’s involvement was limited, on which Bruce Johnston barely featured after his sudden (and temporary) departure, and which was named after the band that Carl Wilson and Mike Love had formed in high school.

Carl and the Passions – ‘So Tough’was released on 15th May 1972, and if it failed to deliver any major hits, It was the Beach Boys’ 17th studio album stands as a showcase, especially, for Carl, as he took a greater hand in studio direction. Surf’s Uphad won rave reviews and landed the group on the cover of Rolling Stone in an extensive interview, but it was less than a sales blockbuster, and the group’s direction was to change again.

Sessions for the new record began in December 1971 at the Beach Boys’ new recording studio, Brother, just before the group embarked on some pre-Christmas tour dates. ‘All This Is That,’ written by Carl, Mike and Al Jardine, was one of the first songs to come together, as were ‘He Come Down’ and ‘Marcella,’ which (as Keith Badman’s The Beach Boys diary book detailed) came to life under the title ‘Beatrice From Baltimore.’ 

By the new year of 1973, the factions within the band were prompting Carl to suggest that fresh impetus and new faces may be needed. Not long after the sessions began, Bruce Johnston had a falling out with manager Jack Rieley and left the band. That led to the arrival as official members of South Africans Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin, as the Beach Boys became, in name at least, a seven-piece outfit. Their input was felt on the albums that continued, firstly at Brother, and then at Brian’s home studio in Bel Air.

Fataar and Chaplin wrote and sang on ‘Here She Comes’ and ‘Hold On Dear Brother,’ while Dennis Wilson took lead vocals on the pretty ‘Make It Good’ and ‘Cuddle Up,’ written with Daryl Dragon, later to find fame as one half of the Captain & Tennille. Brian’s main involvement was on the opening ‘You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone,’ which became the LP’s first single, followed by ‘Marcella.’

By the spring, Johnston’s departure through what he called “differences in musical policy” was confirmed. When the album emerged, with the Beach Boys on an extensive European tour, the overall feeling was of a highly listenable if disjointed record, by a group heading in several directions at once.

Carl Wilson described this album as “a scattered project , it wasn’t everybody pitching in…”.it’s certainly an eclectic collection ; “all this is that ” is certainly a hidden gem. I’ve always much preferred side two of “Carl & The Passions” over side one – I’ve always taken “Hold On Dear Brother” to be about Brian.. I think that “All This Is That” is one of The Beach Boys more beautiful songs – kind of their own “Across The Universe” in a way, and the two Dennis Wilson songs are career high points for him, in my opinion…“Marcella” does sound kind of Stones-ish to my ears – the Chaplin/Fataar songs, sound very much to me like something by The Band – but the first five songs on the album, to me, are just so – so. good,

Reprise released it in America as an initial twin-pack with Pet Soundsa juxtaposition which hardly helped the new record to shine.  Rolling Stone felt that only four of the tracks were “acceptable”, and that Brian Wilson’s lack of genuine involvement hurt the album.

The Beach Boys
  • Blondie Chaplin – vocals
  • Ricky Fataar – vocals; drums; slide guitar; production on “Here She Comes” and “Hold On Dear Brother”
  • Al Jardine – vocals; production on “He Come Down” and “All This Is That”
  • Mike Love – vocals
  • Brian Wilson – vocals; production on “You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone”
  • Carl Wilson – vocals; guitar; bass; keyboards; production on “He Come Down,” “Marcella,” and “All This Is That”
  • Dennis Wilson – vocals; production on “Make It Good” and “Cuddle Up”
  • Bruce Johnston — harmony and backing vocals on “Marcella”