Archive for the ‘MUSIC’ Category

It must be frustrating to have planned to roll out your new album and a massive months-long tour at what turned out to be the exact beginning of Lockdown 2020. But even if this disaster of a year stymied Ratboys’ hopes to conquer the open road, the band can take solace in knowing their new album is one of the year’s best, a barnburner that builds their appealing, folksy Americana into arena-ready anthems. Expanding their sound without losing the sweet, exposed heart of Julia Steiner’s humanistic vocals, tracks like “I Go Out At Night” expertly straddle the line between bombast and beauty, suggesting a group on the verge of something enormous. If only this damn virus would go away so they could get in front of everyone and prove it.

RatboysJulia Steiner had a fairly different experience with the record, citing a lyric from the track “Life Is Long” as a direct inspiration on the vaguely emo Chicago band’s third and latest LP, “Printer’s Devil”. “I’m lost but I’m not afraid” has become the unofficial mantra for the record, summing up the uneasy transitions occurring in Steiner’s life during the album’s inception period. Paralleling these changes was a shift in the band’s chemistry—once a two-piece comprised of Steiner and Dave Sagan, “Printer’s Devil” is the first Ratboys album to feature a full band, adding touring members Sean Neumann and Marcus Nuccio to the mix.

The result is something deeply personal, while injected with something of a Wikipedia-wormhole curiosity (several tracks seem to explore bizarre histories detailed on the free online encyclopedia) and a tinge of science fiction.


Printer’s Devil is streaming now, and will be officially released tomorrow via Topshelf Records. Listen below, and read on to hear what Steiner had to say about the history of each track.

1. “Alien with a Sleep Mask On”

This was the first song that we recorded when we got into the studio. We took a couple hours to get drum sounds and make the guitars sound good, and then we just went for it. I started writing this song while we were on tour—after we had sound checked one day I was feeling pretty exhausted mentally and needed to get some space. I walked to our car and just played guitar for a while. The bones of the song came out right away, and they felt really fresh and urgent. The melody and hook had kind of been stewing in my mind for a while, which helped me just let it out I think.

I kept workshopping the song during sound checks throughout the rest of the tour, just singing and playing the parts I had so far and improvising them in that small amount of time. I always like doing that with new ideas on tour. Eventually Dave and I demoed out the song and nailed down the structure in Kentucky a few weeks later, and then we built it out even more with Sean and Marcus from there. For me, the song is about the disorienting reality of life on the road. And just about being inside your own head all the time, to the point where you start to question how you come off to others. It’s kind of a heavy topic, but I wanted it to be light hearted too, because that’s kind of how tour feels a lot of the time—heavy, but so fun.

2. “Look To”

This song rocks, and we had so much fun recording it. I remember it took us a while to find the right tempo, but once we got it I feel like we just locked in 100 percent as a band. The lyrics of this one deal with family relationships getting more complicated as you grow older. When we were demoing at the house where I grew up, I kind of found myself taking stock of the bonds I share with my family, specifically with my parents, and just thinking about how they’ve changed over time. The idea of helping your mom or dad through a hard time is so powerful to me, so that became the central image of the song in my eyes.

And then confessing a bit of frustration in the chorus, that things aren’t as simple as they seemed before. This song is very, very fun to play, we like to go absolutely wild with it. Then finally we tacked on a bit at the end—we wanted it to sound like you were walking into a sing-along at a party. That bit is an idea I woke up singing in the middle of the night. I recorded it right then in a little voice memo, which you can hear at the very end of the song.

3. “My Hands Grow”

This song is one of two on the record (the other being “Printer’s Devil,” the title track) that was based around a series of drum loops and overdubs, rather than using a live band performance as the base of the track. This one was really fun to put together, it almost felt like doing a puzzle. I love how clean everything sounds—I remember Erik (Rasmussen, who recorded the album) had to run an errand at one point, but he left a minute-long instrumental loop of the song going while he was gone. It must have been going for, like, thirty minutes, but all of us were just reading and chilling, we didn’t even notice the time passing or the song looping.

We realized after he got back that the music must be pretty nice if we could just listen to it for that long without stirring. The lyrics are based around some memories I have of spending time with two of my best friends from high school, driving down the back roads in Kentucky and hanging out by the river during the summer. I wanted to write lyrics that sort of reassure them that I’ll always be there to love them and protect them, even if I don’t say that out loud nearly enough. It’s a song about friendship and spending time outside in the sun.

4. “A Vision”

This song came together very quickly—I think I wrote it in less than an hour, all at once. I remember I was in my bedroom in my old apartment, and we had some friends over, but I got sucked into this moment where I had to write the song. That happens very rarely, so when it does and you know you’re 100 percent onto something, you have to follow it, no matter what else is going on. I had known for a few months that I wanted to write a song about a specific rainy morning that I had experienced on the road. It felt almost like a fantasy or a dream, so the song had to be that too. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was able to connect some rhymes across the length of the song, which doesn’t often happen naturally for me. I think that makes it really pleasing to sing.

I’m also really proud of how the studio recording turned out, because we were somehow able to capture the essence of the song while all playing together in the same room. I remember Ian (Paine-Jesam, our friend who played drums on this song) had to play extremely quietly, so that the drums didn’t drown out my acoustic guitar. We had a lot of fun adding some strange little overdubs. Lots of noises and textures, things that I can’t even remember now what we used.

5. “Anj”

This was the first song that Dave and I wrote for the new record. As soon as we unloaded and set up all of our gear for the first demo session, the riff for this song is the first thing I played, the first thing that came out. It felt natural right away, and we had so much fun just jamming on the progression because it’s so simple. For me, the lyrics are drawn from my life, specifically from my relationship with the woman who watched my siblings and me throughout my childhood. The time and effort she put into raising us while my parents worked is something I’m just now starting to really appreciate, so I wanted to write a song for her, to try to tell her how much I care for her and how I want to be there for her, to give some of that nurturing love back in some way. I think the song has that same mixture of heaviness and lightness that I find so appealing. Marcus’ drumming makes the whole song sound so huge and poppy—it was the final element we needed to really go full force and drive home the hook.

6. “I Go Out at Night”

This song is actually the oldest one of the bunch in the sense that it’s the only one that uses an older idea that we re-discovered and re-purposed for the album. I wrote the first verse and main guitar riff when I was nineteen or twenty, sometime around 2011. I always hoped that we would build the right little world for this song, and luckily the time was right and it happened. To me this song is about feeling a little restless, about figuring out the world in the midst of big change or creeping anxiety. Just kind of floating above everything.

We knew we wanted this song to feel different from the rest, something like a daydream. I ended up writing the bridge during our time demoing in Kentucky, and the lyrics deal directly with moving out of your home and saying goodbye to the places that shaped you. That physical sensation of the sun waking you up, of the day breaking and pushing you onto the next phase. I experienced that during the end of our stay in KY, and it was powerful. I had to acknowledge and honour that sunlight. As silly as that sounds, it moved me.

7. “Victorian Slumhouse”

OK so this song is pretty ridiculous, and it’s one of my favourites on the album. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever just said “fuck it, let’s have some fun” and gotten really loose with our ideas. I remember that the inspiration for this song came about when Dave and I were visiting his parents and watching PBS after dinner. This British reality TV show called Victorian Slum House came on. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s based around a historical re-enactment, where all of the participants volunteered to be on the show because they have ancestral ties to the slums of Victorian England. It’s hard to explain, but the show is so entertaining—all of the participants constantly dwell on how much they miss the conveniences of modern life, and there’s a ton of drama.

We were kind of just sitting there mystified watching this and having so much fun, so I remember I started strumming the guitar and came up with the little opening vocal tag and guitar riff to make Dave laugh. Eventually we kept jamming on it because it was too much fun. I decided that I wanted the song to be about reality TV, and how it’s so voyeuristic and strange. I spent a lot of time imagining what it must have been like to be on that set, in the carefully recreated Victorian-era slum, but also surrounded by tons of high-end film production equipment and the whole crew, trying to tease content out of you at all hours of the day and night. I find I’m often drawn to crazy contrasts, and that’s this show for me. The song is a rocker, and we absolutely love playing it, especially the outro riff that just circles on and on.

8. “Clever Hans”

This song is based on a true story that I came across while reading Wikipedia one day. It’s told from the perspective of a horse named Clever Hans, who became famous in the 1800s because his owner claimed he could do math and tell the days of the week and stuff like that. Huge crowds would come and watch the horse, and eventually, teams of psychologists came to study Clever Hans. They realized rather quickly that the horse couldn’t, in fact, do math—but they noticed that Hans always picked the right answer out of a multiple choice set, because he perceived tiny, subconscious cues in his owner’s face when the correct answer was read.

Long story short, it turns out that Clever Hans was, in fact, extremely intelligent, just not in the ways everybody expected. He was emotionally intelligent. After reading that story, it made me wonder about all of the ways that animals feel and perceive the world around them, ways that we may never fully understand. So I wanted to write the song from Clever Hans’ perspective, to write poetry as a horse. Something tells me that horses are capable of writing poetry, in their own ways. So that’s really what this one is about.

9. “Listening”

I wrote this song one morning during the KY demo session immediately after I learned of the passing of Anthony Bourdain. This is the only song we didn’t demo—we finished arranging it in the studio.

10. “Printer’s Devil”

This is the title track, and my personal favourite song on the album. It feels like an artist statement to me. Dave and I sort of stumbled into this jam while we were demoing, and it had this meditative, almost addictive quality to it, like we couldn’t stop playing it. Eventually I started improvising vocal phrases on top of the guitar, which loops over and over again for the whole song. I wrote a ton of lyrics and ended up whitling them down to what’s on the recording.

The lyrics were inspired by some stories I had read about the poet Walt Whitman, about how he worked as a “printer’s devil” (or printer’s apprentice) as a young boy. I read about how Whitman’s boss in the print shop was obsessed with this radical Quaker theologian named Elias Hicks—so obsessed that he dragged Whitman and another employee to the cemetery in the middle of the night, to dig up Hicks’ grave. They were caught, and Whitman moved on to a different print shop, where he kept learning the trade.

I also read about how Whitman would test the ink in the shop by putting down lines of “little sentimental bits,” which made me think that maybe this job was the place where he started experimenting with poetry or just pondering language in general. That idea of just putting down lines, combined with reading about the teachings of Elias Hicks, fueled me to write and write and write, as if I were testing out the ink in the shop. The song felt right immediately, and we were able to record it and find the right sounds very quickly in the studio. It was a joy to make.

Guitar, vocals, lyrics – Julia Steiner
Guitar, bass (Tracks 3, 8, 9) – Dave Sagan
Bass – Sean Neumann
Drums, synths – Marcus Nuccio
Drums (Tracks 3, 4, 8, 10), Vibes – Ian Paine-Jesam

Released February 28th, 2020

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Elvis Costello releases “No Flag”, recorded in Helsinki, Finland. In the late ’70s, Elvis Costello burst onto the then-fledgling punk scene as the quintessential angry man: getting banned from Saturday Night Live, for example, for playing “Radio, Radio”—the song he was explicitly told not to play. Forty-some years and numerous albums later and Costello’s angriest side has now returned, a bit wiser and a lot more jaded, with his most barbed-wire-filled track in years, “No Flag.” Employing some spooky synth percussion to kick it off, “No Flag” then quickly shifts to a hypnotic tantrum-filled riff, Costello dually assaulting with an aggressive guitar line and lyrics that rage against the weak idols that have let everyone down in 2020: “No flag waving high above / No sign for the dark place that I live / No God for the damn that I don’t give.” As caustic as it is, it’s a refreshing return to form for Costello, at an ideal time for angry, catchy protest songs

Asked about the choice of recording location, Costello, explained, “I wanted to go somewhere nobody knew me. So, this is ‘The Helsinki Sound.’

Elvis Costello releases “No Flag”

The instrumental credits list only: “Elvis Costello – Mouth, Drum, Fender Jazzmaster, Hammond Organ and Bass.”

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Elvis Costello has indeed shared another new song whilst in lockdown. Titled “Hetty O’Hara Confidential,” a description of the song reads as “the tale of a tattler who outlives her time.” Fair enough

A few weeks ago, Costello shared “No Flag,” which was his first new song in over a year. He trekked to Finland in February and worked for three days at Suomenlinnan Studio, a recording facility a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Helsinki. This song is from those sessions, which Costello produced. “Hetty O’Hara Confidential” was recorded and engineered by Eetü Seppälä and mixed in Los Angeles by Sebastian Krys.

Earlier in the quarantine, Costello performed an acoustic set from his home in Vancouver in order to raise funds for UK healthcare support network Artists4NHS. Following the death of singer/songwriter John Prine, Costello penned an essay in tribute to Prine.

“These were songs that no one else was writing, filled with details that only Prine’s eye or ear caught; the arcane radio, the damaged and the destitute,” Costello wrote. “The songs were filled with what sounded like sound advice from a friend in a crowded bar or a voice in the margins, but never one that was self-pitying or self-regarding.”

Costello’s next song arrives on August. 14th.

The release of “Hetty O’Hara Confidential,” by Elvis Costello. The tale of a tattler who outlives her time. Produced by Elvis Costello at Suomenlinnan Studio in Helsinki, Finland, Costello is credited with: Mouth, Hammond Organ, Fender Jazzmaster, Upright Piano, Rhythm Ace & All Other Noises.

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We are announcing the release of four new songs, Side A.  While we take pride in our art and love to share it with our fans:

Regarding the new release: you can hear the first track “What’s the Matter” now. Clay says this song “was written with groove in mind. recorded it in our practice space studio. got our friend V.V. Lightbody to play some of the funkiest flute you ever heard. our friend Sima smacked on some of her gorgeous singing. A song against the darkness, against Ganon, a song for the outdoors and the hero. There is a sword hidden in the lost woods and it will be found.” Here is a message From The Dudes:
Hello, we here at TWIN PEAKS DUDES LLC are writing to inform you of our new release, “Side A.” We run the recording side of our operations out of our very own Studio D at Treehouse Records. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we realized our recording efforts would be waylaid, so we wanted to finish the songs closest to completion remotely;

When you preorder the 10”, you will instantly receive a download of all four songs so you can hear it right now. The 10” won’t be shipping until October because of delays related to Covid, but the EP will officially be released digitally on July 3rd.

We refuse to let this release distract us from the moment at hand. If you support our music, couple that with actions, today and every day henceforth, that are for the betterment of our community in Chicago, for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for dismantling the structures of White Supremacy in America.

We must all continue to educate ourselves, listen, donate, share resources, and allow ourselves to learn. You can start by making a donation to Black Lives Matter Chicago.

To provide some resources, here are two lists of petitions, donation funds, resources, and information on how to make yourself useful to the movement and take action:


All Them Witches will return with a new album, their first as a trio, called “Nothing as the Ideal” on September 4th. All Them Witches boarded a flight to London on February 27th and spent nine days recording at Abbey Road. “It was incredible. We have a studio south of Nashville, and it’s an amazing sounding space, but it just wasn’t the right time to record this record there,” McLeod says. “I decided that I wanted to do another album with Mikey Allred, who produced and engineered and mixed Dying Surfer Meets His Maker. We started writing more in January and February, and Mikey and I were talking one day and we both just came up with the Abbey Road idea. Robby and bassist Michael Parks were totally on board, and something like later that afternoon, we booked our dates.”

According to McLeod, the studio is as magical as fans would expect. “I walked in and it was like one of those out of body experiences,” he remarks. “Robby got there like an hour before I did and he looked at me and was like, ‘Dude, I almost cried three times.’ It’s a huge room, and the vibe isn’t in the vintage microphones that the Beatles used, it’s not in any of the gear, the old compressors and all that stuff … you go there because the room sounds good. For me, that was the icing on the cake. This studio actually just sounds amazing.”

The record is their most experimental work to date. It’s also their heaviest album and we’re very much liking the sound of lead track Saturnine & Iron Jaw, a near seven minute slow, bluesy burn that takes off from a looping, chiming intro and gentle guitar into a hypnotic, full-on psychedelic wig out crescendo. Time for some heavy, heavy psych – channeling their inner Sabbath, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd – All Them Witches deliver a masterpiece of throwback 70s riffola on The Children of Coyote Woman.

We’ve been fans of Nashville psych-rock outfit All Them Witches for a while now, their lysergic, riff-worshipping sound striking the perfect balance between reverent throwback and forward-thinking experimentation. Shades of Sabbath, Zeppelin, Blue Cheer, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues and others abound, but All Them Witches are on their own unique trip. Nothing as the Ideal, the follow-up to 2018 LP ATW and last year’s standalone single “1X1,” and the group first full-length since they slimmed down from quartet to trio. Recorded at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, the eight-track album features some of the band’s heaviest moments and some of their quietest.

All Them Witches deliver a masterpiece of throwback 70s riffola on The Children of Coyote Woman.

“‘The Children of Coyote Woman’ is a retelling of the founding of Rome through a southern perspective,” ATW frontman Charles Michael Parks Jr. tells us. “Two brothers fight to see who will control the region after the passing of their mother, a woman so fierce and legendary that people would rather leave their homes than get in her way. Though powerful, though fierce, their lives exist in a minuscule blip in the universe and are still tied to the struggles and hardships of trying to survive in the poor rural south.

“In my mind, there are a lot of similarities between the Roman empire and the USA. The same essence of power and ingenuity, as well as it’s brutal conquests for resources. The founding fathers undoubtedly studied the reign of the Caesars and chose it as a model for their new republic.”

All Them Witches are offering up a nice respite from all the chaos going on in the world. The Nashville rockers have announced the forthcoming release of a new album, Nothing as the Ideal. Moreover, the band share a taste of what’s to come with opening track “Saturnine & Iron Jaw”. Regarding the song “Saturnine & Iron Jaw”, guitarist and songwriter Ben McLeod tells us, “We very specifically wanted to lead with this track. I think it’s the most well-rounded track on the record; it’s constantly changing, it has a lot of different vibes to it.”

He gives a hint at what to expect with the rest of Nothing as the Ideal, as he adds, “Obviously there are way heavier songs on the record,” but “Saturnine & Iron Jaw” should let fans know All Them Witches are still very much rooted in psychedelic and bluesy rock. “This is our first record without keys,” he continues, “but in this song, there is something for everyone.”

With a slow-burn of an opening, the track builds into a crescendo of psychedelic rock. “That whole intro is a compilation of about five or six loops that Robby Staebler, drums had made on tour,” he explains. “He gave them all to me and we knew that we wanted the album to start that way. The only thing I added, production wise, is a little after the one minute mark, the pitch drops and then there’s a bell that rings five times. It’s totally cheesy, but I thought it would be cool to have it ring five times before the guitar comes in, kind of representing our previous five studio albums. And then on the fifth bell, the sixth album begins.”

This album for me is a return to center, and not in a way that is repeated by countless social media influencers or retail giants trying to improve their score. It is a return in the fact that even in the lowest moments and even when I’m shoveling past rock bottom, I have a choice, and it shows up when it shows up. My job is to catch the moment of action when when it arrives and to see it as neither a burden or a blessing, but as “the way.”

We love you, please enjoy the music that we have made, and please love yourself, your neighbours, and your planet. Parks, ATW

The new album available September 4th, Nothing as the Ideal will arrive on September 4th via New West Records The album was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles famously laid down most of their iconic catalogue.

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There’s something shattering about the music of Fontaines D.C. Following on from the release of “I Don’t Belong” last month, the Irish post-punk outfit return today with another piercing look into the void in the form of “Televised Mind.” “That’s a televised mind/That’s a televised mind/That’s a televised mind,” repeats frontman Grian Chatten on the song – an incisive indictment of groupthink and echo-chamber living that cuts like a knife.

It is the third track shared from their forthcoming LP A Hero’s Death, which is out on the 31st July.

The track heaves, drones, and churns – a faultless embodiment of the bruised and battered – perfect in its uneasy, resigned melancholy.

“Televised Mind” taken from the forthcoming album ‘A Hero’s Death’ out 31st July on Partisan Records.

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The stone that’s buried: what the fruit is for.” So goes the title track from Plum, Widowspeak’s forthcoming fifth album. The line serves as an apt analogy for the record itself: the self-aware sweetness that the band employs to deliver the seed of a harder, sharper idea. Singer Molly Hamilton coats wry observations in a voice as honeyed as the sun-ripened fruit, and Widowspeak have always made a bitter pill much easier to swallow. From its opening strum, there’s a palpable warmth and familiarity to the music even as it hints at darker truths below the surface, questions about inherent worth. What value and meaning do we assign ourselves, our time, and how do we spend it?
With Plum, the songwriting partnership rooted in the creative rapport between Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas continues to expand on shared visions, delving deeper into what was always there: dusty guitars, ear-worm melodies, warm expansive arrangements. Each entry to their catalogue has marked a subtle reimagining of Widowspeak’s sound, though perennial points of reference remain the same: 90’s dream pop, 60’s psych rock, a certain unshakeable Pacific-Northwestness. Speaking to the timeless feeling of each, the albums continue to be discovered well beyond their respective PR cycles, made beloved by new listeners through word of mouth.

“Money” is the latest track to be shared from Widowspeak’s upcoming long player “Plum”.

A song focused on the worth of contribution versus the cost of selling out, it is gloriously hypnotic, built on a cyclical repeating motif, with singer Molly Hamilton asking “Will you get back what you put in?” over an insistent guitar riff.

Plum carries a sense of unhurried self-awareness. It feels comfortable and lived-in: humble in structure, heavy on mood. Perhaps that came taking time off from the touring grind, instead working full-time jobs and settling into the rhythm of daily life in a small upstate New York town. Plum was recorded over a handful of weekends last winter by Sam Evian (Cass McCombs, Kazu Makino, Hannah Cohen) at his Flying Cloud studio in the Catskills.
In addition to Hamilton (vocals, guitar) and Thomas (guitars, bass, synth), it features instrumental contributions by Andy Weaver (drums), Michael Hess (piano), and Sam himself (bass, synth). Plum nestles into the band’s canon like it was always there, but with new textures coming to the fore, like the polyrhythmic pulse of “Amy” and “The Good Ones”, or the watery, Terry Riley-influenced track “Jeanie”.
The broader themes that run through Plum are almost eerily prescient for the time of its release, written and recorded in the eve of a global pandemic. Hamilton couldn’t have predicted the relevancy of mesmerizing track “Breadwinner”, with its central analogy of bread as time as money, or the song’s yearning pleas to a partner who’s “always bringing their work home”. And on “Even True Love”, Hamilton acknowledges the imminent loss of those closest to us: “In the deepest wells, in the shallow sick/I can see you shaking in the great unknown/Will you learn to live with what you chose?/Even true love, you can’t take it with you”. They’re songs for our time to be sure, but Plum reckons with existential pain that was always there, that will endure well beyond social distancing and into our collective new reality.

Official video for Widowspeak’s new single “Breadwinner”.

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“Vienna”, taken from the fourth album by Ultravox, was released on this day (11th July) in 1980.

It was released as the third single from the band’s album Vienna. It also won “Single of the Year” at the 1981 Brit Awards.

The music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, is particularly evocative of The Third Man. It was Ultravox’s second video, after “Passing Strangers” (also with Mulcahy), and cost £6000–£7000, footed by the band after Chrysalis refused to fund it.

“It may come as a surprise to know that approximately half of it was shot on locations in central London, mainly at Covent Garden and also in the old Kilburn Gaumont Theatre in North London (now a Bingo hall). The embassy party scene was in some house we’d rented in town. Can’t remember where, but I do remember that it took the crew a long time to set up the lights to prepare for filming. So long that we all got impatient with waiting and dipped into the many cases of wine we’d laid on for refreshment after the shoot. By the time the crew was ready to film, we were all well partying for real.”

“The other half was in Vienna. We did it on the cheap. There was just us and Nick, our trusty camera man. We took an early morning flight to Vienna, ran round like loonies in and out of taxis as we filmed, and soon discovered that, due to it being the winter off-season, many of the splendid places we’d been counting upon filming were either shut for redecorating or covered with webs of scaffolding. “What do you mean it’s ‘closed for repairs’?!” We finished up in the cemetery for the shots with the statue which had been used for the single’s cover (a gentleman who made pianos for the rich and famous of his time, I believe), did the sunset shot, and then dashed back to London to start editing.”
Warren Cann, Explaining the location details to Jonas Wårstad

The gravestone that is shown in the video and on the single cover is part of the grave of Carl Schweighofer and is located on the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. Schweighofer was a famous Austrian piano manufacturer.

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Dexys Midnight Runners ‎– “Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” is the debut studio album by Dexys Midnight Runners, released on this day (11th July) in 1980.

Led by Kevin Rowland, the group formed in 1978 in Birmingham, England, and formed a strong live reputation before recording their first material. Recorded during April 1980, the album combines the aggressiveness of punk rock with soul music, particularly influenced by the Northern soul movement.

Searching for the Young Soul Rebels has been widely acclaimed by critics. AllMusic critic Ned Raggett remarked that on the album, Rowland “takes a role that Morrissey would have in 1985 and Jarvis Cocker in 1995 – the unexpected but perfect voice to capture a time and moment in the U.K – the return of ‘soul’ to English rock music at the dawn of Thatcherism.” The album cover features a photograph of a 13-year-old Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after being forced from his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland because of civil unrest in 1971. The photo was included in the Evening Standard the next day and was picked up by the band nine years later. The boy later identified himself as Anthony O’Shaughnessy.

When “Come On Eileen” first became a hit in the U.K. In retrospect, it fits with what I now know to be Dexys’ R&B roots. But at the time, you just saw these people dressed in Dickensian street-Dockers clothes, doing this kind of fiddle song that had a number of catchy hooks, with a singer, you know, yelping. “Searching for the Young Soul Rebels”, released on 11th July 1980, through EMI Records.

That particular record, “Too-Rye-Ay”, was a bit of an apotheosis of where the band had been moving. Kevin Rowland is a singer of Irish descent from Birmingham my home city, and they had this whole Celtic-soul kind of thing from the punk era, with a little bit of that energy and edge. And I think the pinnacle of this earlier incarnation of Dexys is the song “Geno.”

It was a huge hit in the U.K.  It’s just a really great, horn section-driven song; I think it’s in this song that I started to realize what Kevin Rowland was doing with his warbly, emotive soul yelp — this Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett kind of shout-singing. In many ways, Rowland’s voice was the embodiment of that straddled position but you would be hard pressed to find a voice more emotive. It conveys alternately and simultaneously determination and desperation and, through all of the changes Dexys would go through (in both line-up and music), gives continuity to an otherwise schizophrenic catalogue. The sobbing style was conceived specifically by Rowland to set him apart, and though it may have put him up for parody to a degree, it is a small price to pay for the instant recall and nostalgia now evoked by his timbres in whatever setting they appear.

Released to numerous glowing reviews, the album went on to become a staple in the Top 100 British Albums of all time and has rightfully earnt a place in the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’ series.

The record opens with ‘Burn It Down’, the reworking of original Dexys single ‘Dance Stance’, which kicks off with squealing radio frequencies after which Kevin shouts at Jimmy (Paterson, trombone) and Al (Archer, also called Kevin, but alas there could only be one!) to “burn it down” before launching into a soul-inflected ode to the Irish victims of ignorance – dropping names like Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Laurence Sterne.

Instrumental ‘The Teams That Meet in Caffs’ goes on a bit, but is worth enduring as the following ‘I’m Just Looking’ proves itself an absolute jewel in Kev’s madcap crown. Never are his sobs more shoulder shifting or the brass interjections more dramatically staccato. Icy organ sends chills as Rowland moves from eerie whispers to rolling Rs and exasperated bellows, giving the warning “Don’t come any closer”

The only track coming close to being this moving is album closer ‘There There My Dear’, an open letter to what Rowland perceives to be a dishonest music scene. “Perhaps I’d listen to your records but your logic’s far too lame,” Rowland laments. “And I’d only waste three valuable minutes of my life with your insincerity”. Although the track begins akin to a Bar Kays jam sesh, horns build melodrama amongst another dabbing of literary name dropping until it culminates in a breakdown of rising action where Rowland bewails the vanishing of the young soul rebels.

The influences showcase continues with a cover of Northern Soul classic Chuck Wood’s ‘Seven Days Too Long’ that would not have been out of place spinning at the Wigan Casino, chugging along at speeds allowed by the Dexys’ namesake amphetamine.

‘Thankfully Not Living in Yorkshire It Doesn’t Apply’ is another beast entirely from the rest of the album. It’s completely incomprehensible, but irresistibly fun with playful organ, daft falsetto and a lovably silly “ooh ooh, aah aah” chorus.

“Young Soul Rebels – fierce, raging and passionate – remains one of the greatest debut albums of all time,” wrote Daryl Eslea for BBC Music.

“Ultimately, the myth-making around Kevin Rowland tends to obscure the fact that he’s been responsible for some truly soul-scorching music,” wrote Graeme Thomson of Uncut.

Mojo called ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels’ “the most incandescent and refreshing record” of 1980.

A rousing anthem delivered with passion – Rowland’s paean to the ‘greatest soul singer that every lived’ – “Geno” had such dance-drive that it was easy to overlook the sentiment: concealed within was a song about a kid bunking into a gig and experiencing his first musical epiphany.

This romantic vision was vibrant, deep and begat one of the greatest modern soul records of its day – and one that continues to deliver on the dancefloor.

Melody Caudill is a 16 year old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. Coming from a musical family, and learning how to play piano at the ripe age of four, she’s been immersed in the creative world of song writing since before she was in kindergarten. After picking up the ukulele at 13, learning guitar became the natural next step. With inspirations from artists like Priscilla Ahn, Phoebe Bridgers, and Elliott Smith, Caudill writes with a certain sense of vulnerability and confidence.

Ever since she could remember, Melody was always making up new songs. “It was never a question, I always did that.” Caudill shared about writing her own music. At the age of 12, she became enamored with music in a new way. She decided to record some of the songs she had written at 13 to keep as a makeshift time capsule for herself. After the producer told her she should consider releasing the music she had created, Melody did just that.


At 13, she recorded and released her first EP, Thirteen. Thirteen chronicles the life of a pre-teen navigating new life changes. Now almost 16, Melody has written her second EP, Teachers Pet.  captures the essence of what it’s like to be in high school dealing with issues of self-confidence and finding a sense of belonging. However, Melody isn’t to be boiled down to another angst-driven teen. Her song-writing touches the core of the emotional turmoil we all go through. Whether that’s feeling smaller than your peers or being afraid to show your true self, there are just some inner-struggles we never grow out of.

Released June 12th, 2020