Archive for the ‘ALBUMS’ Category

Daily Dose: Cheekface, "Dry Heat/Nice Town"

One of the few bands on this list who’ve actually already released their case for being one of 2021’s most intriguing bands, Cheekface released their brand-new album, “Emphatically No”, through New Professor Music. The record finds the Los Angeles-based trio contrasting the mundane nature of everyday living to the background of a world in chaos, it takes a dark-side to find comedy in the face of the void, yet somehow Cheekface seem to manage it, on Best Life they note, “everything is normal”, with the conviction only someone who knows that to be a complete lie can manage.

Cheekface is a catchy band from Los Angeles with clever lyrics like “life is long like a CVS receipt.” Think Parquet Courts meets They Might Be Giants, maybe.

Musically, Cheekface seem to exist in the lineage of American talk-singers, from Jonathan Richman through to Stephen Malkmums, and more contemporary artists like Car Seat Headrest and Savage Mansion. This a record of strutting bass-lines, guitars with the angularity of post-punk, only without all the po-faced seriousness normally associated with the genre. At the centre throughout are the dual vocals of Greg and Amanda, trading comical lyrical barbs as they discuss geopolitics, mental health crises and narcissistic fascists, mentioning no names of course. If that’s all sounding a little self-congratulatory, worry not, like Jeffrey Lewis or Scott Walker, Cheekface aren’t looking down on the world, they’re very much part of the joke, as Greg notes, “no one else is the punchline of these lyrics…if me and Mandy are poking fun at anyone, it’s us”. If the current state of the world needed a soundtrack to poke a little fun at the darkness, then on “Emphatically No”, Cheekface might just have written a perfect contender.

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1. “‘Listen to Your Heart.’ ‘No.’”

Greg Katz: This is obviously a song about the negative messages your brain sends to you when you are suffering with a mental illness. It was the last song we wrote before we started recording stuff for this album. We recorded almost the whole album at New Monkey in LA with Greg Cortez recording and mixing, including this one.

I remember when me and Mandy were writing this one, getting the hook was pretty easy, but I was having a really hard time coming up with a melody for the verse. I must have improvised, like, 25 different ideas that didn’t work. Then Mandy was like, “Well, I think it should be this!” And she sang the first four notes of the song. I was like, “Why did you let me torture myself trying to come up with something when you knew what it was supposed to be the whole time?” I’m incredibly grateful to have Mandy as a writing partner, even though she sometimes likes to watch me suffer.

Amanda Tannen: I’m so thankful to have found Greg in Los Angeles after moving from NYC. From when we started the band up until March, almost every weekend we would get together to write songs. Whatever song came out that day normally would reflect how we were feeling that week. I remember while writing this one I was getting more comfortable with saying “no” in general. But also feeling judged by so-called “self help” fads. You can say “no” to anything supposedly good for you, or bad, reminding myself that only I can make that decision for myself. 

2. “Best Life”

GK: This is one of three on the album that we recorded in Brooklyn with Jeff Berner at Studio G. The opening line, “Everything is normal,” had been in my notes for quite a while, and I’d written several songs trying to use that line. But that lyric finally found a home in this one. The guitar lick that plays eight bars in, that was what started the song idea. I think I was trying to channel the slippery lick from “Satan Is My Motor” by Cake. 

AT: We were in Brooklyn in mid-February at the end of traveling to three cities to play. To top it off we recorded with Jeff at Studio G, at the end of the trip. I’m so happy we fit it in! It was so much fun for me to be back recording in Brooklyn. It had been over a decade since I had recorded anything in the city. We even started the day off with some good bagels. Perfect day. 

3. “Call Your Mom”

AT: At the time of writing this one I think we had a handful of mid-tempo songs. For personal reasons, we needed a fast one. Punk songs are good for my mental health. 

GK: The title lyric, “They want your attention 24/7? Resistance is easy, call your mom,” is about how the federal government tries to insert itself into our lives constantly and consume all our attention to consolidate power. Ignoring it is an act of rebellion, in my opinion. This song has a ripping guitar solo from Devin McKnight of Maneka (and ex-Speedy Ortiz) fame, and the laser gun sounds are him on guitar too.

4. “Crying Back”

AT: I consider this one a chill walking-while-wandering song, which I can always use more of in life. I remember my one mixing note was more shaker. Love the shaker in this one, it takes center stage. Echo’s got talent. 

GK: My favorite part of this song is that the pre-chorus is the same chords as “Cruel to Be Kind” by Nick Lowe. That was not intentional. But we had learned the song at band practice once for fun, and Mandy pointed out that we ripped off the changes for this. The lyric “No pockets for your phone in your surgical gown” was written on my phone in a hospital emergency room after I got in a car wreck. 

5. “Wedding Guests”

GK: We wrote this one with our friend Brijesh Pandya, who’s an amazing drummer and songwriter in LA. He was like, “I have this monster riff saved in my phone that I don’t know what to do with,” and it became this song. He also kicked in the lyric about “a man, a plan, a plain bagel, and an omelette” and a couple more of the good punchlines in the verses. I remember when we were recording this song we were listening to “99 Problems” and “Crazy in Love” to see how to give the song some more lift in the chorus, hence the bell loop that you hear there. That’s the Mellotron Hammond sound beaming through at the end. The other keys were a toy Casio.

6. “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Calabasas”

GK: One influence we came back to a lot while writing this album was Minutemen. They don’t get the credit they deserve as both an influential LA band and a thoughtful political band. This one is a pretty direct reference to them, down to the lyric “What makes a man want to be a referee” that references their What Makes a Man Start Fires? album title. This didn’t make it into the final version, but we also recorded some mariachi trumpet overdubs and Greg Cortez on nylon guitar as a nod to Calexico’s version of Minutemen’s “Corona.” Cooler heads prevailed and those ended up on the cutting room floor, i.e. a muted Pro Tools channel. 

AT: While writing this, Greg had to explain to me where Calabasas was. The LA area is still new to me after nine years. I remember starting the lyrics by riffing off of bottled water brands. 

GK: Calabasas is a place, but it’s also, you know, a metaphor.

7. “Original Composition”

GK: This one nods to Minutemen’s “History Lesson Part 2.” I thought the guitar solo should be one note, but Mandy said it should be two notes, and she was right. Echo really knocked the drum groove out of the park on this one, in my humble opinion. I improvised the whistling hook at the beginning and end of the song when I was waiting for the mic to come on to record vocals, but it ended up sticking, even though I don’t like songs with whistling in them.

AT: Another walking song. Whistle while you walk. I love guitar solos, this one needed two notes. Simple.

8. “No Connection”

GK: Another song where the Mellotron gets a look. That’s the Mello plucked strings at the top and the Mello harp glissando. Echo played the toy piano on that nine chord that opens the song. Before writing this one, we’d covered “Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez at a few shows, and it has a sample of “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads that plays through it. I think that really called our attention to the super simple disco kick drum pattern in “Psycho Killer” that gives it so much power. We used that kick drum pattern in the chorus of this song and in a few other places on the album, including the next song on the album, “Emotional Rent Control.” Also, I want to go on the record saying sorry that the guitar solo in this one is so long.

AT: When asked if the guitar solo was too long, I said no, should it be longer? And yes, up the fuzz pedal. If you can’t tell, I’m a huge Dinosaur Jr. fan. While recording this batch of songs we would take dinner breaks and eat vegan taco salads. Mmm, Cheekface taco night. We try to keep dinner light, combatting the dreaded food coma.

GK: In my old band, we lost a half day to burrito comas in one session. Never again! In my meandering experience, you forget to eat in the studio, then you overeat when you realize you’re starving. Terrible for the blood sugar flow, and it means you play worse as the day goes on. So now I always pull up to the studio with a fresh baguette, a couple bags of baby carrots, roasted almonds and a couple tubs of hummus. I spread them all out in the control room to start the day. Keeping a low-level semi-healthy nosh going throughout the session means that no one is ever tracking during a calorie crash. That’s our tip for the other productivity-conscious bands out there.

9. “Emotional Rent Control”

GK: This one we started writing a few weeks after Ric Ocasek died. We definitely wanted to give a direct nod to The Cars. There’s a lot of Cars-inspired moves in our songs, like the Moog solo in “Dry Heat/Nice Town.” So with this one we wanted to go straight for a “Just What I Needed” vibe to pay respects to the legend. Also I’d been listening to “Highway to Hell” a lot by AC/DC around the time we wrote this, so this one has the tom-tom thumping pre-chorus like that song, and also the bass dropout after the chorus that lets the air in. Last thought: every single one of Mandy’s bass lines is pretty great, but this one is especially nasty.

AT: Sometimes we write songs by looping a riff over and over—bass or guitar. After playing that riff a while, I end up picking what I think beat one is, but a lot of the time it’s not the same one Greg is thinking, it can make the interplay between guitar and bass have a push and pull in places, which I love. 

10. “Big Big Friend”

GK: This was the last one written that went on the album, it was written at the top of 2020, and it was recorded last, in February 2020, and it kept evolving pretty much until we recorded it at Studio G in Brooklyn. The quiet guitar solo with the harmonics was in the original demo, but the loud guitar solo right after was added in the last band practice before we recorded it. It’s a song about how hard it is to thrive in a big bureaucracy like a university.

11. “Loyal Like Me”

GK: This one is the oldest song on this album—we wrote it before we recorded our first album, Therapy Island, but it didn’t make the cut for whatever reason. It was one of several efforts to do something like “Anything Could Happen” by The Clean, which is one of the greatest indie rock songs ever, but it didn’t come out very similar. The song is about how I take other people’s generosity for granted. It’s a sad song to me because I feel guilty about doing that, but I guess everyone else does it too. Echo does some pretty nifty drumming under the second verse.

12. “Do You Work Here?”

AT: We wanted to write a darker-sounding song, with some big distortion. I remember I was listening to a bunch of psych rock at the time—B.R.M.C., The Warlocks, Black Angels, and Autolux, who are one of my favorite LA bands. The effects to Greg’s voice were added at the end and fit so well.

GK: Oh yeah, Greg Cortez killed it with the reverb and delay throws in the mix. I think we were like, “Why don’t you try some delay throws?” And he was like “OK, where?” And we were like, “We don’t know, everywhere?” The stuff you hear was all his first pass.

13. “Don’t Get Hit by a Car”

GK: One day we came into our practice space to write, and I think Mandy had just watched a documentary about A Tribe Called Quest, and she was like, “All their songs have that same groove, can we try something with that feel?” So we started that new-jack drum groove and draped the chords from “Sweet Jane” on it. To me it sounds more like “Jack & Diane” than it sounds like either of the actual inspirations. Not gonna lie, I feel really exposed by the lyrics on this one, hence we buried it at the end of the album. But shouts to Lena Dunham, hope she doesn’t take us on The People’s Court for name-dropping her. It’s all love, Lena!

Originally Released August 12th, 2020
Music and lyrics by Cheekface

Amanda Tannen on bass guitar and backing vocals
Greg Katz on vocals and guitar
Mark Echo Edwards on drums and percussion

Tucson, Arizona interdisciplinary artist Karima Walker walks a line between two worlds. Aside from her long resume of collaborative work with artists in the diverse fields of dance, sculpture, film, photography and creative non-fiction, Walker has long nurtured a duality within her work as a musician, developing her own sonic language as a sound designer in tandem with her craft as a singer/songwriter. The polarity within Walker’s music has never been so articulately explored, or graced with as much intention, as on her new album, “Waking the Dreaming Body”.

Waking the Dreaming Body was written, performed and engineered entirely by Walker, with the exception of some subtle upright bass from C.J. Boyd on the song “Window I.” Producing the album on her own wasn’t Walker’s original intention, though; after flying to New York in November 2019 to develop some home-recorded tracks with The Blow’s Melissa Dyne, a sudden illness forced Walker to cancel the sessions and return home to Tucson to recover, and soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic ruled out the possibility of a return trip to New York. Instead, Walker decided to finish the album herself in her makeshift home studio. She spent the following months recording, processing and arranging her self-described “messy Ableton sessions” into densely harmonic arrangements of synthesizer, guitar, piano, percussion, field recordings, tape loops and her own dulcet singing voice, allowing trial, error and intuition to guide her way. The final result is a 40-minute dream-narrative of her conscious and subconscious minds that oscillates between the rich textures of her ambient compositions (as in the instrumentals “Horizon, Harbor Resonance” and “For Heddi”) and the melody and poetry of her melancholic, Americana-tinged song writing (as in the lyrics-focused tracks “Reconstellated” and “Waking the Dreaming Body”), their ebb and flow recalling liminal states of half-sleep where images and emotions are recalled and forecasted from the previous night’s dreams. Night falls in regular intervals throughout the album, forming a natural dialogue between waking and dreaming.

Walker explains:

“I wanted these songs to stand alone as complete worlds, and this required a shift in my usual way of writing. I found myself trying to escape from an excess of interiority by exploring outward, by thinking about the mirroring that happens when you seek connection to others and to the natural world—when you try to bring the outside in. I sought to make arrangements that swell at certain moments and barely hold together at others, moving with my breath and other rhythms connecting my body to the natural world. Ultimately, I was seeking to draw myself out, to reconstruct my personal narrative.”

“I see myself as an in between person I guess,” Walker continues. “Though I haven’t very explicitly brought my own personal history into my music, I think it’s there, and it continues to show up in its own ways and time. I am Arab, half North African/Tunisian on my mother’s side, but was raised in a very white context, with a lot of white passing privilege, especially as I’ve gotten older. But my journey into making music was so different. I kept falling in love with musicians and artists for a while before I realized that maybe I wanted to be so close to these people because they were doing something that resonated deeply in me. So there’s a way in which making music has been a way for me to overcome divides that I couldn’t quite articulate in other ways.

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“Waking the Dreaming Body” is out February 26th, 2021 on Keeled Scales / Orindal Records

All songs written, performed, mixed & produced by Karima Walker

tim cohen give me yours song premiere origins stream

The veteran San Francisco songwriter (of The Fresh & Onlys fame) is putting out a record called “You Are Still Here” this March, and on it features “Give Me Yours”, a single that came together while Cohen waited six hours for a plane out to Denver. He’d already had the chords and arrangements mapped out, but the lyrics came pouring out after Cohen had ordered a tequila soda and chicken sandwich at the airport to pass the time. Oh, and did I mention that he’d also popped “an edible” before leaving his house?

Penned while “on the verge of hallucinations,” as Cohen described it, the track reads like a paranoid fever dream. “They’re gonna drink our drinks/ They’re gonna eat our bones,” Cohen sings in the opening verse, referencing his own airport meal but in exaggerated terms.

“This ‘they are coming to get us’ attitude is a by product of the despair and hopelessness I felt being at the mercy of corporate airlines in what I deemed an irreversible front to my artistic freedom,” he explained and in my half-delusional state I adopted the ‘us against them’ desperation that permeates the album.”

Although fuelled by agony and anxiety, musically “Give Me Yours” actually sounds like a bouncy ball of sunshine. Cohen trades in his Fresh & Onlys garage rock for guitar-led folk-pop that’s much softer yet has an irresistible charm. The percussion snaps and the rhythm sways like something out of the ’60s, and it’s all smiles by the time you reach the extra peppy guitar that pops around all over the chorus. If only my breakdowns at JFK and Newark sounded this good.

Fresh & Onlys frontman Tim Cohen wrote “Give Me Yours” during an airport layover and then fleshed it out in the studio. He’s always had a way with a hook and this one’s no different. 

His new album, You Are Still Here, arrives March 26th via Bobo Integral.

Prolific New Zealand-born, Melbourne based singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick is releasing “Me and Ennui Are Friends Baby” on February 5th via Ba Da Bing Records, and the latest single is “Full Mood,” which Sarah says “is about a Valentine’s Day date I went on. The owner of the bar we were at tried to get us both to fuck her, but she wouldn’t let me be in charge so we didn’t. I remember afterwards we were walking down the road and it was streetlights and still at 3am and everything felt great and shining and I remember thinking that I wish my dad could’ve done this, got drunk and kicked around the city at night when it’s all sparkly, holding onto someone who lights you up, not been stuck in silent dark rural New Zealand, watching other people’s lives on TV, drinking half glasses of box wine while his frowning wife ironed.”

“Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby” is the latest full-length from New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, Sarah Mary Chadwick, whose brutally honest song writing has cast her contrary to the gentleness of most current music. Comprised entirely of minimal solo piano arrangements, the album is despondently clear-eyed and smirkingly self-deprecating, completing a trilogy of records that started with The Queen Who Stole The Sky recorded on Melbourne Town Hall’s grand organ, and her only outing to date featuring a full band, Please Daddy. Each record has followed Chadwick’s internal processing after a traumatic event, with Chadwick’s zeal for psychoanalysis front and centre. On Ennui, Chadwick presents an exacting intensity with her choice to pare back to piano and vocals. It’s in this stark setting that she focuses on the attempt she made on her life in 2019.

Directed by Tristan Scott-Behrends

Starring Daniel Villarreal & Sarah Mary Chadwick “Only Trumpets” Clip featuring Daniel Crook & Xavier Jimenez March ‘Full Mood’ is the third single from forthcoming album ‘Me And Ennui Are Friends, Baby’, out February 5th 2021 through Rice Is Nice Records & Ba Da Bing.

Find Sarah Mary Chadwick on Bandcamp – https://sarahmarychadwick.bandcamp.com

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Title Fight co-frontman Ned Russin has shared a second single from his upcoming Glitterer album, “Life Is Not A Lesson”, which arrives 26th febuary via ANTI-Records (pre-order). Like lead single “Are You Sure?”, the just-released “Didn’t Want It” is a little closer to the loud, driving Title Fight sound than the last Glitterer album was, and it’s another very promising taste.

“‘Didn’t Want It’ was the first song I wrote for the new record,” Ned says. “Despite having no road map for how the rest of the songs would turn out, this track established a lot of the qualities that would be further explored as I continued to write – more present and fuzzed out guitars, minimalistic chord changes, and uncertain, longing lyrics.” It comes with an animated lyric video by Rob Fidel, which you can check out below.

“Didn’t Want It” by Glitterer​ from the album ‘Life Is Not A Lesson’, available February 26th

Here’s what they say about it: At long last, we’re proud to announce our new album, ‘Green to Gold’ will be released on March 26th via Anti / Transgressive Records! You can pre-order the new album via Bandcamp. And today, we’ve got a new song to share with you. This one’s called “Solstice”.

“Solstice” is a flashback to the infinite days of peak childhood summer, innocent barefoot hikes, staying outside all afternoon and late into the evening, well past it being too dark to see. But it’s remembered from the vantage of a present day that feels unbearably long rather than joyously endless. It’s an invocation of those simpler times, an attempt to conjure the lightness of youth, before life got so damn complicated. Peter Silberman is back with the first Antlers album in seven years, which will be out in March. Here’s the new single.

Eager to share the rest of ‘Green to Gold’ with you this spring. Thank you for listening. With love,The Antlers”

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Vocals, guitar, bass, pedal steel, piano, and organ by Peter Silberman
Drums and percussion by Michael Lerner

Bass clarinet on “Wheels Roll Home” by Jon Natchez
Violin and viola on “Solstice” by Will Harvey
Cello on “Stubborn Man” by Brent Arnold
Banjo on “Just One Sec” and “Volunteer” by David Moore
Slide Guitar on “Just One Sec” by Dave Harrington
Baritone saxophone, flute, clarinet, and french horn on “It Is What It Is” by Kelly Pratt
Guitar on “Green to Gold” by Tim Mislock

Releases March 26th, 2021

While the days when you might spot David Byrne at a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show are behind us, Alec Ounsworth has continued to hone his skills as a songwriter. Born out of a dark year, “New Fragility” finds Ounsworth inspired and the songs shared so far are terrific. If it doesn’t end up being Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s best since 2005 it definitely will be the best to feature a song called “CYHSY, 2005.”

In any discussion regarding songwriters and lyricists of 21st century indie music, Alec Ounsworth and his moniker, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, will feature prominently. Few have been as consistently brilliant, eclectic, and intimate; fewer still remain defiantly independent, refusing to sign deals that compromise artistic vision. That is what characterizes Ounsworth’s oeuvre, especially the lifetime project he initiated sometime in the early 2000s, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And with each release since its landmark self-titled debut, he has refined and broadened his sound, indulging an ever wider set of influences.
Prolific and enigmatic as ever, his recent works marry the quirky, left-field spirit of the early years with a well-earned confidence, and grander sense of scale and ambition. Always heading down new avenues of song arrangement and organic connection to his audience, after nearly two decades Ounsworth remains one of music’s most distinctive voices.

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The upcoming album New Fragility (February 12th, 2021 CYHSY/Secretly Distribution), including the advance singles Hesitating Nation / Thousand Oaks and Where They Perform Miracles, was produced by Alec Ounsworth, with additional production from Will Johnson
 
New Single of upcoming album ‘New Fragility’
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The Sonder Bombs will follow their great 2018 debut album “Modern Female Rockstar” with “Clothbound” on 1/29, and the singles find them taking their ukulele-fuelled indie-pop punk in all kinds of exciting new directions. The Sonder Bombs have doubled down on their second record. 2018’s debut “Modern Female Rockstar” was their first bet: an all-caps attack against a male-dominated scene brandishing a ukulele and dry wit as chosen weapons. A year and some change passed, where the Cleveland band’s relentless touring ethic and tough love caused a homegrown fan base to explode worldwide. Clothbound, like the title suggests, weaves a different narrative—one of loss, letting go, and losing patience with losers. If the first record introduced unapologetic sensitivity, Clothbound searches for the root causes of other key elements.

Produced in Philadelphia during quarantine with Joe Reinhart (Hop Along, Beach Bunny, Modern Baseball), “Clothbound” captures a band burning at both ends. Fans of vocalist/ukulele/guitarist Willow Hawks’ exasperated kiss-offs will have plenty to unpack here, from the frantic goodbyes spat through “Swing on Sight” or “What Are Friends For,” where Hawks entertains this question while the background smoulders around the punctuation—a ukulele strum here, Willow Hawks’ vocal line trailing like an asteroid collision there. As this is the second volume in the Sondie songbook, evolved moments, like the acoustic-electric elegy “Scattered,” sit near the band at their most sloganeering and effective. “Crying is Cool” a live staple eagerly awaiting its reveal, teaches listeners of all ages that it’s okay to hole up with your feelings as long as you give them room to grow. The band’s also not afraid of taking their own advice, letting their emotions run wild on “k.,” an absolute barnstormer of a track where the Bombs fire off all cylinders while winking to hardcore and metal. The chips are down and the deck is stacked here. The band’s all in. Are you? 

releases January 29th, 2021

The Sonder Bombs “k.” From their album “Clothbound” Out January 29th via Take This To Heart Records/Big Scary Monsters (UK/EU)/Dew Process (AUZ/NZ)

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JULIEN BAKER – ” Hardline “

Posted: January 15, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC

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Judging by the first single, “Faith Healer,” Julien Baker’s official solo follow-up to 2017’s Turn Out The Lights will be her most fleshed-out sounding solo album yet. A departure from her more stark, minimalistic material, “Faith Healer” features a full band, drums included, while losing none of the power of Julien’s emotionally charged vocals and lyrics. The album — her first release since 2018’s Boygenius EP that had her teamed up with Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers — was recorded before the pandemic, but we’re counting on its arrival to resonate deeply in lockdown all the same.

Julien Baker has shared the second single off her highly-anticipated third album, “Little Oblivions”, the highly-anticipated third album, is due out February 26th via Matador, and she’s just shared its second single, first track “Hardline.” Like “Faith Healer,” it’s a more fleshed-out sounding song than many others we’ve heard from Julien in the past, but it’s still as emotionally resonant as her more spare, bare bones material.

“A few years ago I started collecting travel ephemera again with a loose idea of making a piece of art with it,” Julien writes. “I had been touring pretty consistently since 2015 and had been traveling so much that items like plane tickets and hotel key cards didn’t have much novelty anymore. So I saved all my travel stuff and made a little collage of a house and a van out of it. I wanted to incorporate it into the record and when we were brainstorming ideas for videos we came across Joe Baughman and really liked his work so we reached out with the idea of making a stop-motion video that had similar aesthetic qualities as the house I built did. I don’t know why I have the impulse to write songs or make tiny sculptures out of plane tickets. But here it is anyway: a bunch of things I’ve collected and carried with me that I’ve re-organized into a new shape.”

Baughman directed the video for “Hardline,” he writes, “even after having spent 600 hours immersed in ‘Hardline’ and having listened to it thousands of times, I am still moved by it. It was a fun and ambitious challenge creating something that could accompany such a compelling song. The style of the set design, inspired by a sculpture that Julien created, was especially fun to work in. I loved sifting through magazines, maps, and newspapers from the 60s and 70s and finding the right colours, shapes, and quotes to cover almost every surface in the video.”

Meanwhile, Julien recently taped a performance for KEXP Radio a week ago, which just came out today; it includes a solo acoustic performance of Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days” around the 43 minute mark, and you can watch the whole thing below.

Julien Baker sharing a live performance recorded exclusively for KEXP and talking to Cheryl Waters. Recorded January 6th, 2021.

Songs: Faith Healer Song in E Hardline Fell on Black Days

Julien Baker – vocals / guitar / keys Calvin Lauber – bass Mariah Schneider – guitar / bg vocals Matt Gilliam – drums Noah Forbes – keys (overdubbed) Becca Mancari – guest bg vocals Session recorded at Third Man Records in Nashville, TN

Julien also appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week performing  “Faith Healer.”

Julien Baker makes her return to A Late Show with this performance of “Faith Healer” from her upcoming album “Little Oblivions,” available everywhere on February 26th.

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It might seem that British artist Katy J Pearson appeared out of nowhere, fully formed at 24 with her quirky but confident debut album “Return.” But looks can be deceiving.

Released last November the album seemingly effortlessly blends folksy acoustic guitar chords with synth-looped percussion and effervescent, vibrato-edged vocals reminiscent of classic American country. Yet it’s the end product of nearly a decade of struggle that started with the pop duo Ardyn she and her co-vocalist brother Rob formed as teenagers while living at home with their parents in Gloucestershire.

“It’s taken me such a long time to get this baby up and out,” she says. “But I really get it now, that sometimes it really does take a long while to find art that’s worth doing and find your own voice.”

The fascination was romantic at first — as a kid on vacations to Devon, she would often gaze wistfully at Kate Bush’s cliffside home and dream of a showbiz career. When she and her brother formed Ardyn, the siblings’ ethereal harmonies set them on that path via an unexpected recording contract with Universal offshoot imprint Method. But Pearson quickly discovered that youthful experimentation wasn’t welcomed. “It was very corporate,” she says in retrospect. “They weren’t bad people. They were just businessmen, and as soon as we signed, it was like, ‘Oh, can you write another song that sounds like that song that we signed you for? Ten more times?’ They weren’t really interested in any artistic progression.”

But the company had deep pockets. Before they knew it, the kids were being whisked off to Los Angeles to work with a cavalcade of renowned collaborators, like Semisonic’s Dan Wilson and Andrew Wyatt from Miike Snow, a process they found both humbling and enjoyable. “But when we got back, we got told off for not writing a hit,” Pearson says. “They said, ‘We sent you to America to write something really big, and you’ve given us all this left-field stuff!’ And I was like, ‘What? But this is what I do!’ I was supposed to write something that only they like?”

After discovering that all future co-writers had been warned to stop Ardyn sessions if they turned too eccentric, she begged to be released from her contract. Luckily, the imprint let her go, and returned ownership of her material, as well. The duo moved to more bustling Bristol, but after Rob contracted glandular fever and moved back home with the folks, Katy, at 21, was left alone in a strange new city and unsure of her own abilities.

Nearly eight fallow months passed with no inspiration, at which point she was seriously considering giving up music for good and becoming a gardener. After finding a writing-recording space at a community arts center called The Island, she decided to treat song writing like an actual job. “So I’d wake up at 9 every morning, grab a coffee, walk to the studio and get to work,” she says. The routine provided her with renewed purpose. That’s when she found her idiosyncratic solo style, inspired by Kate Bush, Carole King and Win Butler’s co-vocalist wife in Arcade Fire, Régine Chassagne. “In Ardyn, I was singing in a more artificial pop way,” she says. “But now when I hear myself sing, I’m singing as natural as possible and my vibrato is there, and I’m writing things that suit my voice much better.”

Visualizing a perfect blend of the electronic and organic, she arrived at playful folk-synth janglers like “Beautiful Soul,” “Take Back the Radio” and the fluttery “Fix Me Up,” a pep song she penned to herself at her lowest post-Ardyn point.

“I was glad I found a happy sonic medium,” she says, proud that the posh imprint Heavenly Recordings is releasing it all. Pearson admits to being blindsided by the pandemic, which shut down the spring tour for her and her band, which now includes her brother on guitar; he moved in with her in Bristol a year and a half ago, after recovery.

“Because I was kind of pushed around by people that were older than me, and I felt like I had to give in to them. But now I think it’s all about really putting your foot down and saying no when something doesn’t feel right. It’s about staying true to yourself and the things that you believe in.” The Bristolian songstress Katy J Pearson released her debut LP last year to critical acclaim, and it’s great to hear one of the stand-out tracks released as a single in its own right. Melancholic apreggiated chords and driving acoustics propel Pearson’s exquisite vocals.

My debut album ‘Return’ is out ! I am so proud and overjoyed to share it with you all + have so many people to thank for making this record and project a reality. My brother Bob who has been my musical collaborator and support since the beginning,

“Beautiful Soul” is taken from the debut album ‘Return’, out now via Heavenly Recordings.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'KATY PEARSON RETURN "thebirth "the birth of new indie star..." "an addictive whoop of pure joy" Music Week The Guardian "Katy manages find humanity in every moment" DIY, ★**★ "an uber-catchy celebration ofnew-found confidence" Dork, ★**★ "one stand-out track after another" Gigwise, 10 "one of the year's truest talents" Uncut, 10 "Return road trip well worth taking" Mojo, ★★*★ "country heartbreak & life-affirming pop indie hero' Loud and Quiet, 8/ Heavenly PIAS recordings'