Archive for the ‘ALBUMS’ Category

The Who have announced expanded editions of their 1967 album, The Who Sell Out. The new releases include 2-CD and 2-LP sets, as well as a 7-disc Super Deluxe Edition composed of 5 CDs and two 7-inch singles. The latter features the album in both mono and stereo plus previously unheard Pete Townshend demos, studio sessions, outtakes, unheard jingles and more. All arrive April 23rd, 2021, via Geffen/UMe.

The box set also features nine posters*, replica ephemera, and an 80-page hardbound book with rare photos and new liner notes by Townshend. There are 112 tracks in all, 46 of which are previously unreleased.  It also includes nine posters & inserts, including replicas of the 20″ x 30″ original Adrian George album poster, a gig poster from The City Hall, Newcastle, a Saville Theatre show 8-page program, a business card for the Bag o’ Nails club, Kingly Street, a Who fan club photo of group, a flyer for Bath Pavilion concerts including The Who, a crack-back bumper sticker for Wonderful Radio London, Keith Moon’s Speakeasy Club membership card and a Who Fan Club newsletter.

From the February 26th announcement: The Who Sell Out was originally planned by Townshend and the band’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, as a loose concept album including jingles and commercials linking the songs stylized as a pirate radio broadcast. This concept was born out of necessity as their label and management wanted a new album and Townshend felt that he didn’t have enough songs.

The ground breaking original plan for Sell Out was to sell advertising space on the album but instead the band opted for writing their own jingles paying tribute to pirate radio stations and to parody an increasingly consumerist society. Pete Townshend demos of “Pictures of Lily,” “Kids! Do You Want Kids” and “Odorono” .

The homage to pop-art is evident in both the advertising jingles and the iconic sleeve design created by David King who was the art director at the Sunday Times, and Roger Law, who invented the Spitting Image TV show. The sleeve features four advertising images, taken by the renowned photographer David Montgomery, of each band member: Odorono deodorant (Pete Townshend), Medac spot cream (Keith Moon), Charles Atlas (John Entwistle) and Roger Daltrey and Heinz baked beans. The story goes that Daltrey caught pneumonia from sitting in the cold beans for too long.

“We were hoping to get free Jaguars,” said Townshend last year. “We got 50 free tins of baked beans!”

The Who‘s third album followed 1965’s My Generation (released in 1966 as The Who Sings My Generation in the U.S.) and 1966’s A Quick One (released in 1967 as Happy Jack in the U.S.). Those first two achieved top 5 sales in the U.K. Despite the band’s success on the singles chart, with five top 5 U.K. hits under their belts, The Who Sell Out peaked at just #13 there. It reached just #48 in America. The album’s “I Can See For Miles” made it to #10 in England and #9 in the U.S. It remains their biggest American pop hit.

Those lackluster sales would change in May 1969 with the release of the rock opera, Tommy, a 2-LP set which reached #2 in the U.K. and #4 in the U.S.

A deluxe edition of The Who Sell Out was previously released in 2009

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Australian five-piece Mt. Mountain will release their fourth album, ‘Centre’, on February 26th 2021 via London’s Fuzz Club Records. Hailing from Perth, Australia, Mt. Mountain deal in a sprawling, motorik psychedelic rock sound that journeys between tranquil, drone-like meditations and raucous, full-throttle wig-outs that’ll blow your mind as much as your speakers. Taking cues from Krautrock pioneers like Neu! and Can whilst existing in a similar world to contemporaries like Moon Duo, Kikagaku Moyo and Minami Deutsch, Mt. Mountain are formidable torchbearers of the minimal-is-maximal tradition. 

Musically, the band’s sound is born out of long improvised jams so naturally much of the album was recorded live to capture the band at their most freewheeling. Growing up surrounded by religion but not a follower himself, Stephen Bailey (vocals/organ/flute) describes how, thematically, much of ‘Centre’ is a dissection of faith – both spiritual and secular – and his personal, often complicated relation to it: “The album for me, lyrically, is mostly about my experience of religion. It explores these concepts and the rules that were told to me from childhood to adulthood and my thoughts on my own connection to them. Similar themes arise between the tracks whether it be lyrically or structural, both a play on repetition and simplicity.”

With a number of EPs and singles and three albums behind them – their 2016 debut ‘Cosmos Terros’, 2017’s ‘Dust’ and 2018’s ‘Golden Rise’ – the Perth quintet have picked up a formidable reputation in their homeland and further afield, thanks especially to their wildly all-consuming live shows. Constantly touring across Australia with each release, they’ve also shared the stage with notable down-under comrades like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and ORB, as well as a long list of international heavy-hitters including Sleep, MONO, Thee Oh Sees, Acid Mothers Temple and Moon Duo.

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Fuzz Club members will receive the deluxe vinyl as part of the February 2021 membership package. Deluxe Edition: Limited to 300 copies on 180g ultra-clear vinyl with white and black splatter, hand-numbered tip-on gatefold sleeve and polylined innersleeve, Standard Edition: Limited to 700 copes on 180g grey vinyl

Released February 26th, 2021

Caught Beneath The Landslide

Lost tracks, hard to find versions, B-sides, remixes & more • 4CD or 2LP packages • 500-only limited editions with Kevin Cummins signed print. Demon Music will issue a new Britpop-era compilation curated by legendary music photographer Kevin Cummins called Caught Beneath The Landslide: The Other Side of Britpop and the ’90s.

Available as a four-CD set or a 2LP vinyl package, Caught Beneath The Landslide offers classic tracks, lost gems, live and alternate versions, B-sides and single edits from the Britpop era. Acts include Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Suede, Elastica, Radiohead, Lush, Supergrass, Menswear, Gene, The Auteurs, The Charlatans, Echobelly, Ash and Sleeper.

Kevin Cummins was chief photographer at the NME for more than a decade and was witness to – and documented the musical and cultural phenomenon in the first half of the ‘90s, that was variously tagged ‘Britpop’ or ‘Cool Britannia’. Now Kevin has compiled ‘Caught Beneath The Landslide: The Other Side of Britpop and the ‘90s’, brings together artists that topped the chart and set the agenda, some who were lauded one week and laughed at the next, and others who were just along for the ride. From an era of Lad’s mags and Girl Power, “football’s coming home” and chart battles making news headlines,

His photo-book While We Were Getting High: Britpop and the ‘90s, was published last year and now Kevin has compiled this companion collection. The four-CD package contains 71 tracks, which the 2LP vinyl set offers 26.

In-depth sleeve notes explore the bands, their influences and features contributions from producer Stephen Street, DJ Steve Lamacq, Johnny Dean (Menswear), Math Priest (Dodgy), Kevin Miles and Matt James (Gene) and Jaime Harding (Marion) and contain original photos from Kevin’s collection

Kevin Cummins says: “It was always my ambition to have a companion album to the book, a chance to enjoy the music of that era, music as timeless as the images. When I was selecting photos for my book, I took to Twitter to ask fans if certain bands could be considered part of the genre. Several musicians joined in to deny they were ever part of Britpop. The Manics were never considered part of the genre, nor Primal Scream, and much as I would have like to include them I chose not to. So it pleases me that we can feature both bands and many more in this collection, with its broader take on Indie music in ‘90s Britain.”

As well as the Amazon-exclusive 4CD set with signed print, Rough Trade in the UK have an exclusive 2LP black vinyl edition also with signed print. This is limited to 500, like the CD set. There is also a clear vinyl indies-only exclusive (also available at Rough Trade)

The four-CD set of “Caught Beneath The Landslide: The Other Side of Britpop and the ‘90s” is out on 30th April 2021, with the 2LP version following on 14th May.

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Reissue on vinyl of the fifth PJ Harvey studio album “Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea”. Produced by PJ Harvey with Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey, and originally released in November 2000, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea features the singles ‘Good Fortune’, ‘A Place Called Home’ and ‘This Is Love’ and includes a duet with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on ‘This Mess We’re In’. The album won the Mercury Music Prize in 2001. Reissue is faithful to the original recording and package, cutting by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering under the guidance of longtime PJ Harvey producer Head.

PJ Harvey’s “Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea” is the fifth studio album from the critically acclaimed artist, and it marked a dramatic shift from her previous two releases, To Bring You My Love(1995) and Is This Desire?(1998). The former was Harvey’s commercial breakthrough, which landed the album on several “Best of” lists in 1995 and the latter earned Harvey a GRAMMY nomination for Best Alternative Music Performance in 1998. 

Stories From The City differs from the previous two albums in that it veers away from the blues influences of “To Bring You My Love” and the melancholy of “Is This Desire?.” Harvey paints a very vivid and sensual picture of life in New York City, and if she is indeed the protagonist in these songs, she was definitely living her best life at the time. 

Ironically, the opening track is titled “Big Exit,” a raucous, upbeat tune that immediately lets us know this is going to be something much different than what we had come to expect from Harvey. Track 2, “Good Fortune,” is not only one of the best songs on the album, but it may be one of the best in her catalogue. Harvey seemingly summons the aura of Patti Smith and delivers a tale that examines the indescribable feeling one gets when they first start dating someone. She sings it in a way that brings you right there in that particular moment we’ve all felt at one time or another: “When we walked through / Little Italy / I saw my reflection / Come right off your face / I paint pictures /To remember / You’re too beautiful / To put into words / Like a gypsy / You dance in circles / All around me / And all over the world.”

“Good Fortune” has a thread that continues right through to the next track, “A Place Called Home.” As I listened to the song, it became apparent that this album is somewhat of a chronicle of a romance, and Harvey does not hold back, singing, “One day I know / We’ll find a place of hope / Just hold on to me / Just hold on to me / Walk tight one line / You’re wanted this time / There’s no one to blame / Just hold on to me.”

Harvey has shown vulnerability on her previous recordings, but on Stories From The City, there’s a beauty and joy that radiates throughout the entire album. The next two songs, “One Line” and “Beautiful Feeling,” bring the mood to a more tranquil place, with the latter being one of the darker yet gorgeous songs on the album (“And when I watch you move / And I can’t think straight / And I am silenced / And I can’t think straight / And it’s the best thing / It’s the best thing / The best thing / Such a beautiful feeling”).

The one song that does not have an overt reference to the album’s romantic theme is “The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore,” a song whose lyrical DNA reminds me of a Lou Reed song. The subject matter is definitely in his wheelhouse, as evoked through lines like “Speak to me of heroin and speed / Of genocide and suicide, of syphilis and greed / Speak to me the language of love / The language of violence, the language of the heart / This isn’t the first time I’ve asked for money or love / Heaven and earth don’t ever mean enough / Speak to me of heroin and speed / Just give me something I can believe.”

“This Mess We’re In,” along with the previously mentioned “Good Fortune,” ranks high on the list of Harvey’s best songs in her career. When I first listened to the track twenty years ago, I did not expect it to be a duet with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke singing its first lyrics. The pairing of Harvey and Yorke is sheer perfection, and “This Mess We’re In” made me want to hear more from them. Yorke also did backing vocals on “One Line” and “Beautiful Feeling,” but this one stands out amongst the three. The song is about two lovers whose affair is approaching its end and the conversation leading up to that point, with the duo echoing each other, “What were you wanting? (What was it you wanted?) / I just want to say (I just want to say) / Don’t ever change now baby (Don’t ever change) / And thank you / I don’t think we will meet again / And you must leave now / Before the sun rises over the skyscrapers / And the city landscape comes into being / Sweat on my skin / Oh, this mess we’re in.”

Additional highlights include “Kamikaze,” “This Is Love,” and the album send-off “We Float,” which, like the opening track “Big Exit” musically and lyrically takes the listener to an unexpected place (“We wanted to find love / We wanted success / Until nothing was enough / Until my middle name was excess / And somehow I lost touch / When you went out of sight / When you got lost into the city / Got lost into the night”).

Harvey has always incorporated sex within the thematic thrust of her albums, but with Stories From The City, it feels different from her previous output. Her inspiration had come from another place in her life. Harvey was living in Dorset, England at the time, but a couple of lengthy stays in New York influenced her writing. “New York certainly gave me a different kind of energy,” she explained in a 2000 interview. “I do think that has permeated to some of the music. I had long wanted to [live there]. I made a film with Hal Hartley in New York, and I realized at that time what an inspiring sort of place it felt to me. I can remember even when we were filming, I was writing songs, some of which ended up on this record. I just felt very inspired.”

As I sat down to write this retrospective, I listened to this album intending to play a few tracks at a time, but I often found myself settling in and letting the whole thing play. That’s what excellent albums tend to make you do. The deserving winner of the prestigious 2001 Mercury Prize, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea is an intense, loving, and beautiful valentine to a New York City that I miss dearly.

Happy 20th Anniversary to PJ Harvey’s fifth studio album “Stories From The City Stories From The Sea”, originally released October 23rd, 2000.

Fellow Portland guitarist and bandmate of Ripley Johnson and nature lover Dewey Mahood aka Plankton Wat has a great new album about to hit your doorsteps (if you snapped it up already). If you’ve yet to grab it, get a sneak peak at the beautiful art and packaging for Plankton Wat’s Future Times, and a killer song, with our unboxing video.

Make sure to check the new single “Wind Mountain” while you’re at it, a resplendent homage to the Native American sacred place and hiking trail of the same name.

The music of Portland musician Dewey Mahood exists in constant communion with nature. From acclaimed albums with heavy-psych mainstays Eternal Tapestry to his prolific solo excursions, Mahood’s work has always been defined by his restless exploratory spirit and reverence for the environment. As Plankton Wat, his expressionist compositions exude a supernatural grace and patience, reflecting the resplendent beauty and mythical energy of the West Coast’s wild places. Piece blossoms from low-lit, porchside ambience into powerful head-trips, ushering the listener through ravines of feedback and along warm currents of synthesizer drift to peaks of lysergic bliss. Mahood’s masterful and distinct guitarwork consistently blurs the confines of the instrument, at once texturally and melodically rich. Future Times elevates Mahood’s psychedelic instrumentals to new planes. Written to the backdrop of social unrest and climate change fuelled fires, Mahood lays out a sprawling cinematic and psychedelic survey of a planet in crisis that weaves a path of hope through the darkness.

Recorded in the Spring of 2020, with most of the United States sheltering in place, Future Times began as a meditation on the times. With the optimism of Spring and the promise of Summer replaced by anxiety about the future, music became an important means of processing difficult emotions and connecting with the outside world. Mahood developed pieces created with musical partner Dustin Dybvig and engineer/producer Victor Nash, transmuting the expansive energy of the live improvisations into lean guitar, bass and keyboards compositions. Pieces were then passed to Dybvig and Nash who fleshed out Mahood’s initial compositions with lustrous layers of synthesiser and subtle studio effects. Future Times transforms Plantkon Wat from a purely solo project into a virtual ensemble, itself a testament to art’s power to transcend physical and social boundaries.

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The album’s two elliptical sides trace Mahood’s own inner journey from anxiety to optimism. Side A emerges from the still-glowing embers of west coast wildfires on “The Burning World.” Smouldering synthesizer drones heavy with the scent of burning pine, a vivid portrayal of the artist’s experience of pervasive wildfires, only later to use fire as a symbol of spiritual rebirth. “Nightfall,” a muscular re-work of a long-standing Plankton Wat piece, picks through the ashes to reveal the sombre grace of “Modern Ruins.” Mahood ushers in the album’s aggressive peak on “Dark Cities,” with sharp Casio stabs and sky-clawing guitars, railing at police violence and racial injustice. Even here in the album’s darkest moments Mahood finds hope and respite in the fervour and optimism of protest, fully realised in the serene ambience of conceptual companion piece “Defund The Police”. Title track “Future Times” is another psychic turning point towards optimism and the title that would come to inform the record’s overall emotive arc. “Wind Mountain,” a Native American sacred place as well as a popular Washington hiking spot near Mahood’s Portland home, provides a space for reflection, a vantage point to look back across the album’s expanse but also out into the future heralded by the closing trumpet blasts.

On “Future Times” Plankton Wat uses his considerable guitar prowess to deliver songs that encompass both the wild, seeking energy of free-improvisation and the deliberate arrangements of more traditional composition. With his deft and stylistically varied playing Mahood escapes psychedelic tropes and chemical fuelled alterations and instead celebrates an escape into the natural world. Future Times taps into psychedelia’s counter-cultural heritage as music for protest, liberation and imagining new ways of being in this world.

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Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released a new single entitled, “Pleura”. The latest recording from the workhorse rock band follows previously-shared “O.N.E.” which was released late last month, and  “If Not Now, Then When?” shared back in December. All three recordings will appear on the band’s forthcoming 17th studio album, “L.W.” which is set to arrive on digital formats next Friday, February 27th. 

Similar to the songs heard on the band’s 2020 surprise K.G. album, the melodies heard throughout “Pleura” were evidently influenced by classical music from Eastern cultures. The dynamics heard on “Pleura” also cover a winding range of peaks and valleys throughout its 4:11 minute runtime, resulting in a mesmerizing, almost entrancing listening experience.

According to the band’s album announcement on Thursday, L.W. can be considered a companion piece to the recordings heard on K.G., so fans should be able to hear a sonic connection between the two projects.

The album is available to stream on digital platforms like Spotify, and the band will donate $1 from every download of L.W. on Bandcamp to Greenfleet, an eco-friendly organization that plants native biodiverse forests in the band’s native Australia and New Zealand. “We’re aiming to make 2,000 downloads which is enough to revegetate 1,000m2 at Pearsons Block in Central Victoria, King Gizzard singer/guitarist Stu Mackenzie said in a press statement. “Some of the species endemic to this region include Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora), Varnish Wattle (Acacia verniciflua) and Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).”

“For me personally, making a record is always a certain percentage of fun and a small percentage of agonizing over it too,” Mackenzie continued in regards to the process of writing and recording the two companion albums during this ongoing downtime from touring and playing live. “But there’s always a wild alchemy going into it. Like, you don’t really know what you’re doing, you’re just kind of throwing all of your emotional energy into nothing, which becomes…something?”

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are a psychedelic machine gun, having now released 17 albums in just nine years, maintaining a level of production only rivaled by Oh Sees and Robert Pollard. The latest was only officially announced a couple weeks ago and is the third record in their “microtonal” series where they explore the “notes between the notes.” It’s also clearly the second part of the record that started with last year’s K.G. Not that it needs to be spelled out, in this case literally, but the titles together are the band’s initials, the cover art for both are variations on a theme, and both feature microtonal instruments that give everything a sitar kind of vibe.

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The microtonal element colours everything, but King Gizzard apply it to a wide variety of styles on L.W. which makes it both high concept but also all over the map. That sound obviously suits itself to standard definition “pysch” and the band are clearly masters of that as heard here on the bongo-fueled “O.N.E.” and big ripper “Pleura.” But the album is more interesting when it applies microtonal instruments to things like the nearly nine-minute prog-metal opus “K.G.L.W.” which closes the album with some serious fireworks and sounds like a certain set-closer once shows can happen again (which is soon in their native Australia). More interesting, though, are songs that take them into new territory. “If Not Now, Then When?” builds like it’s going to be a rager, but then turns into a groovy ’70s style number with funky electric piano and falsetto vocals. Hopefully that’s an area they’ll continue to explore on future albums…which are probably being mastered as we speak.

For their latest recording, King Gizzard also shared its affiliated video which was impressively performed live, filmed, recorded, edited, and uploaded to YouTube all on February 18th.

The Australian psych band’s 17th album in nine years flies between the funky and the ferocious

Released February 26th, 2021

“Carnage” is a new album by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown. Although the pair have composed & recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo. After cancelling his already rescheduled 2021 UK and European tour due to the spread of coronavirus, Cave described this period as an “opportunity to take stock” and “time to make a new record”. Cave describes the album as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe. Making “Carnage” was an accelerated process of intense creativity,” says Ellis, “the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days.”

Cave said that his inspiration came from “reading, compulsively writing and just sitting on my balcony thinking about things”. With no initial intention of making an album, he said “the record just fell out of the sky. It was a gift.”

Cave & Ellis’ sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency. Carnage is a record for these uncertain times – one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope. Cave and Ellis’ creative chemistry is rooted in their long history of music making, both as collaborators and as individual artists. They first crossed paths in 1993, when Ellis played violin on several songs for the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album, Let Love In, before going on to join the band as a full time member. The two have also recorded as Grinderman, formed in 2006, and have composed and recorded numerous, film, TV and theatre soundtracks together.

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis. Credit: Joel Ryan

Warren Ellis: “Two people sitting in a room taking risks and letting whatever happens, happen. The eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days and then it was, ‘let’s just make a record!’ There was nothing too premeditated about it.”

Nick Cave: “The inspiration came from reading, compulsively writing and just sitting on my balcony thinking about things”. The record just fell out of the sky. It was a gift.”

NME says: “‘Carnage’ is arguably Cave and Ellis’ best record since The Bad Seeds’ latter day reinvention on 2013’s ‘Push The Sky Away’, or maybe even ‘Abattoir Blues’. It’s certainly two master craftsmen at the peak of their melodramatic powers.” first Impression: A mix of the romantic crooner and the haunting crooner. Growing with every spin. Compelling orchestrations, classical arrangements, with Ellis showing his musical skills once more. Can’t remember when Cave made an average album. Did he, actually? Okay, Carnage once again on my headphones.

Cave told fans via The Red Hand Files that these songs were born from missing the sensation of “the complete surrender to the moment” that comes from being on stage. They’ve certainly captured that abandon, along with all the heightened rushes of panic and mania that come with lockdown and recent world events, and those merciful moments of peace, serenity and hope for what’s to come. Cave and Ellis have taken a bold leap into the COVID era’s dark night of the soul, and found a truth that we all share.”

Originally accompanying Jagjaguwar’s tenth anniversary reissue of their 2010 final album ‘Public Strain’ but now getting a standalone release, this five-track EP gathers up rare material from art-rock outfit Women’s brief career between 2007 and 2010. Since the death of vocalist Chris Reimer in 2012 that effectively ended the band, members of Women have since gone on to form the bands Preoccupations and Cindy Lee.

On their debut self-titled album, Women embraced sonic brashness that deeper examination revealed to be tinted with sly pop melody. With the album “Public Strain” the band honed a sound truthful to that reverb drenched noise while allowing the pop sensibilities to surface into clearer focus. Patrick Flegel (vocals/guitar), Matt Flegel (bass/vocals), Chris Reimer (guitar/vocals), and Michael Wallace (drums) went into the studio with an abundance of ideas, working around conflicting schedules and graveyard shifts. With Chad VanGaalen again on production duties, the band laboriously crafted a timeless sounding recording over the dead of winter in Alberta, Canada. The result exploits their usage of harsh, grating dissonance in smaller and controlled doses, using noise as the foundation for richly structured, layered songwriting. Resting upon Matt Flegel’s plodding bass line, Patrick Flegel’s deadpan vocal delivery, and Chris Reimer on bowed guitars and cello, this moody, nocturnal ballad opens the album on a dark note 

A collection of rarities releasing in celebration of Public Strain’s 10th anniversary, courtesy of Jagjaguwar Recordings.

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Marina Allen glides on angelic highs, surfing the husky deep; she is one of the great new voices of her generation. Writing songs that carry notes from other realms; these are kitchen table tales about love and fear, the capturing of the wild heart, sketching the breaking of dawn, bringing real life back to life.

Every song on stunning debut album ‘Candlepower’ is a tick box of influences, asides, inspirations, quickfire theories, storylines and melodic progressions that galvanise a chemical reaction for each dramatic scene that unfolds on this genre-traversing seven song epic.

One listen to opening track ‘Oh, Louise’ underlines the range of Marina’s talent, it’s a filmic play on words, with an arrangement that’s like a Kate Bush dream sequence. It’s the perfect foil for the plaintive strum of ‘Sleeper Train’, a haunting, folky paean fit for Judee Sill brought up to date with some echoey electric guitar; or the conversational ‘Believer’; with a nod to Joni Mitchell in the lyrics it sounds every bit like Simon And Garfunkel at their Big Apple best listening to the ‘7 O’Clock News’ re-imagined on Sunset.

The stuff of legend for a voice that surfs many musical tangents, hovers, and persists, that stings with honesty; morphing from Karen Carpenter’s gentle reverence to Laura Nyro’s soulful grit, moving through the phases like some possessed Dada performance artist before throwing in a melody from Joni at her jazziest or from the close harmonies of the lamented Roches when they flipped out with Robert Fripp.

‘Candlepower’ is a juxtaposition of melodies, an achingly beautiful set of songs set against the clank of the mundane world, a beguiling commentary on the everyday and everywhere. It’s all here, in under 20 minutes… every second counts. 

Releases May 4th, 2021

Orange Synthetic by Cobalt Chapel

After almost four years, Cobalt Chapel, the English duo formed by multi-instrumentalist Jarrod Gosling and Cecilia Fage on vocals, flute and clarinet, are back with “Orange Synthetic”. The first, self-titled album showed an exuberant band mixing strong folk writing with rich, progressive arrangements and a spacious, psychedelic sound.

Nominally, the album to be released on 29th January 2021 would be the second album, but it should be noted that between the debut and this second work we find an episode at the same time curious and fascinating. It’s “Variants”, an album in which the duo decides to revise/remix nine tracks from their debut, dilating them and increasing the psychedelia level to 11. The result is a full blown trip, which surprisingly is perhaps even more fascinating than the eponymous debut.

But let’s come to “Orange Synthetic” which, as the band state, is an album strongly influenced by the area where the band live, Yorkshire, and which “is inspired by the humanity, anecdotes and folklore of the region, the creatures and legends of the dramatic landscape surrounding them”. The name in particular is linked to a singular incident that took place there about fifty years earlier. It was a jazz festival that, following the devastation brought by a storm, saw many of the spectators risk their lives, while the organiser was forced to wander the moors for days before being found. A singular story that, in moving from hopeful joy to moments of terror, seems to express effectively, according to Fage and Gosling, the feeling of the end of the world that is beginning to spread in our time. Paradoxically, however, it is the duo’s sunniest album. 

That album sleeve looks like every day out I’ve had in the beautiful countryside that surrounds us in Yorkshire. Cobalt Chapel have made an entire album called ‘Orange Synthetic’ about the place – about its history, folklore, nature and landscape. What a place! And the perfect subject matter for their style of music, one which includes all kinds of organ variants plus mandolin and recorders all topped off with Cecelia Fage‘s cut-glass vocal. 

The trademarks that remain unchanged are the two pillars on which the band stands. First of all, Fage’s bewitching and soft vocals, often reinforced by choruses with a medieval and magical flavour, and secondly, Gosling’s vintage keyboards and assorted organs (he seems to have 19 of them!), which from time to time create atmospheres that are now gothic, now psychedelic, often capable of teleporting into the space-time of the Canterbury sound.

If this is the musical dough of which “Orange Synthetic” is made up, then there is also the glaze in which the album is drowned; I’m referring to that hauntological and spectral patina that, while playing on similar grounds to those of bands like Broadcast or like the bands of the Ghost Box universe (not least Beautify Junkyards of which we spoke recently), manages to sound very peculiar, thanks to the strong sonic identity that the duo undeniably exhibits.

The result is pop that looks vintage, yet modern at the same time. The hazy, impalpable sound blanket that envelops the duo’s songs creates an alienating, ambivalent effect. Cobalt Chapel’s music gives at the same time the impression of being close, but distant: suspended between the mirage of a band that emerged from an indefinite past and the band of the future imagined or dreamed by a boy of the 60s.

We’ve mentioned Broadcast, and it is the late Trish Keenan’s band that is the most direct reference for the undulating “The Sequel”, delightfully decorated with creaks, oblique melodies and Gosling’s retro harpsichord touch. With its fast-paced rhythm, Canterburian organ and repeated refrain, “Message to” sticks directly in the listener’s brain. Then it’s the turn of the surprising “A Father’s lament”, maybe the best track, or at least the most complete in its variegated complexity: a strange mix of polyphonic choirs with a folk flavour, blasts of horns, organ and synth swirls, but above all sudden and unusual beach boysian (those of “Pet Sounds”) interludes . “A dream within a dream” as Edgar Allan Poe would say.

The album continues with the hypnotic “Our Angel Polygon” and the mini trip with a free ending of “Cry A Spiral”. An oblique melody drawn by the organ introduces “It’s The end, the end”, which then evolves into a song with an almost tribal, imposing rhythm and an ever increasing lysergic rate up to the remarkable instrumental finale. The final triptych is textbook: first the enthralling psychedelic waltz of “Pretty Mire, Be My friend” and then the return of spectral folk and medieval polyphony in “E.B.”, a track that’s almost exclusively vocal.

The conclusion is the six-minute intricate and fascinating title track, which develops around a sinuous melody brushed by Cecilia Fage, imaginative breaks and Gosling’s instrumental interventions.

Psychedelic band featuring Cecilia Fage (Matt Berry & The Maypoles) and Jarrod Gosling (I Monster, Regal Worm). Based in Yorkshire.the upcoming album ‘Orange Synthetic’