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Image  —  Posted: March 16, 2019 in FESTIVALS, MUSIC
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Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst come from the same musical orbit. One could even argue, the two songwriters—age 24 and 38 respectively—are like long-lost musical siblings. Though at vastly different points in their careers, both musicians know how to crush and revive listeners with inspired woe, romantic poignancy and their instantly recognizable, consoling pipes.

Bridgers’ breakout 2017 debut LP, “Stranger in the Alps”, and her recent work with critical darling supergroup, boygenius, has safely reserved her position in the club of young singer-songwriters poised for rosy careers. Oberst has dozens of records to his name, most notably with the angsty indie outfit Bright Eyes, then as a solo artist and with bands like Desaparecidos and Monsters of Folk. Whether it’s the fictitious firm they reference on their band social media accounts or the album of the same name. With one new song, “Little Trouble” available on their new 7-inch single.

Better Oblivion Community Center is a healing endeavor, and though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the former, the latter is undoubtedly potent. They capture the serenity of a still lakefront, the spontaneous vigor of a thunderstorm, the lifelong, scenic memories of a childhood road trip and the peaks and troughs of relationships. The two tear-jerking singer/songwriters are at the peak of their powers here, and they’ve managed to distill the exhilaration of that one summer you hoped would last forever and the crackling warmth of a bonfire into 10 effortlessly touching tracks.

Finn Andrews new album One Piece at a Time is his first solo effort outside of his band The Veils. (Andrews wears Zambesi and is styled by Karen Inderbitzen-Waller.)

Finn Andrews has a new solo record “One Piece at a Time”. Yes, solo. The former Veils frontman unveiled himself of his band and left the group and London, his adopted hometown, to return to his childhood home of Auckland over a year ago.

“It’s the longest I’ve been here since I was 16,” he says with a slight air of wistfulness. He had left London, At first it was the record. I wanted to make the record here. And knowing I couldn’t be in London any more.” “Well, I’m certainly the happiest I’ve ever been,” he grins. “I got to a place in London... it’s odd really, for a place with so much going on I barely would ever go out. I was always at home. It was about working, being there. I was born there and have been back and forth my whole life, but for the past 15 years I’ve been pretty solidly there and most of that time I’ve spent locked up in a room writing things. Or worrying about not writing things.”

He sighs, then smiles and says, “I feel this has been the first year of life I’ve had in a while.”

That’s because for the first time in a long time he’s been free to live. With a notebook bursting with songs, he quickly assembled a band and went straight into the studio to lay down the album shortly after landing. Three weeks later it was done. He’d intended for it to come out last October, spend a couple of months touring and then regroup in the UK with The Veils to begin work on the follow-up to 2016’s brilliantly macabre album, Total Depravity. But life has a habit of getting in the way.

“It’s all been delayed,” he says, explaining that his label decided to hold the record until now. “I would have totally put it out straight away. But it’s alright. I took that opportunity to open the blinds and be in the world a bit.”

“A dissolution of a relationship,” he says. “And I’d written a lot of records in that room. I needed to be somewhere else, be in a different space for a while. It’s been good to be here.”

“I’d written a bunch of songs in this book for the last few years and it was getting to a ludicrous point where I felt I had to do something with these songs or I couldn’t take myself seriously as someone who wrote songs anymore,” he says. “I played a few of them with the Veils and they didn’t make any sense.

“They’re pretty different. Everything with The Veils is so loud. I’m so loud, my guitar’s really loud, everybody plays really loudly… This is a very soft record. A break from that world was needed.”

The obvious difference is that Andrews is sitting at the piano for these songs. “It was weird being chained to a piano,” he admits. “It’s also hard to do anything that cool while you’re playing the piano.”

“But it comes with a lot of familial weight. I’m nowhere near as good as my dad [Barry Andrews, keyboardist and founding member of UK art-pop band XTC]. It’s an uphill thing for me. There’s less room for hitting it, which is generally how I play guitar. The piano demands a refined approach. It was a challenge stepping up to the piano. To be worthy of that instrument.”

From Finn Andrews‘ album “One Piece At A Time”

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On this day in Alarm History… the original worldwide release of “Strength” 30 years ago today on October 1st 1985.

The band’s classic album Strength has been expanded, remastered and revised for future generations to enjoy. All tracks have been remastered from the original master tapes by Mike Peters and Pete Maher with extensive sleeve notes and quotes from original band members, plus a host of previously unseen photographs.

2CD – The best Alarm album is now reissued on Double CD / Digipak with the original 1985 US album pressing (which includes the band’s preferred version of Absolute Reality that was left off the UK Version of the album).

CD 1 features the US album along with the original 1985 7” version of Strength (with the guitar / vocal beginning), that has never been issued on CD before along with the 1986 7” single version of Spirit Of ‘76 which is also making its first ever appearance on CD. All four original Strength period B-sides are included also.

CD 2 features 22 previously unreleased album session recordings including outtake versions (with different lyrics and guitar parts), for every song on Strength including an outtake of the unreleased electric version of One Step Closer To Home. An in studio jam session of spontaneous and impromptu covers of Led Zeppelin, TheWho, Free, T-Rex, Lou Reed and Deep Purple are featured between tracks along with a complete run through of the previously unreleased live in the studio version of Rod Stewart’s Maggie May which segues into re-workings of The Beat’s Stand Down Margaret and Bob Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm, providing a fascinating insight into The Alarm working together in the studio on the way to creating their magnum opus.

2LP – Side 1 and 2 features the UK album remastered from original 1985 mix and running order. Side 3 and 4- Features 9 demo tapes for the original album concept of Absolute Reality including 3 previously unreleased songsSons Of Divorce, Black Side Of Fortune and Memorial Day. All the demos were recorded with Strength album recording engineer Nigel Luby and feature raw versions of Knife Edge and We Are Majority both with different lyrics along with the original version of Deeside which was then known as Steeltown. The album also includes the Strength’ era soundcheck demo of the title song and two other unreleased studio demos of In The Cold Light Of Day(which was originally written for The Who’s Roger Daltrey), and Dave Sharp’s River Still To Cross.

I wish the original line up had stayed together (no disrespect intended to current/past members). The energy & passion created by The Alarm live throughout the 80’s all the way through to Brixton 91 are some of the greatest memories I have. I love watching these videos and reliving it all over again. Much love & best wishes to all members of the The Alarm (past & present) and especially to Mr Peters MBE for keeping the dream alive

Cream

Cream, live at the Sports Arena, San Diego on 20th October 1968 Worn out by touring and personal disagreements, Cream agreed to disband after a farewell tour in October 1968. Recorded in outstanding fidelity for broadcast on KPRO-FM, this outstanding gig features a cross-section of their best-loved material, and clearly indicates why they were regarded as the pre-eminent rock band of their day. It’s presented here together with background notes and images.

Cream were a 1960s British rock power trio consisting of drummer Ginger Baker, guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and bassist/singer Jack Bruce. The group’s third album, “Wheels of Fire” (1968), was the world’s first platinum-selling double album. The band is widely regarded as the world’s first successful supergroup. In their career, they sold more than 15 million copies of their albums worldwide. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as “Crossroads” and “Spoonful”, and modern blues such as “Born Under a Bad Sign”, as well as more current material such as “Strange Brew”, “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and “Toad”.

Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals Jack Bruce – bass, vocals Ginger Baker – drums, percussion

2LP – Double 180 Gram Red and Purple Marbled Vinyl in Hand Numbered Gatefold Sleeve. Limited to 1000 Copies.

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Image  —  Posted: March 15, 2019 in ALBUMS, FESTIVALS
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Beirut

Beirut release their fifth studio LP Gallipoli via 4AD Records. The 12-track album, Gallipoli, started life in the winter of 2016, with Zach Condon returning to his old Farfisa organ, the same one used to write the first two Beirut albums (2006’s Gulag Orkestar and the following year’s The Flying Club Cup), which he inherited from a traveling circus when he was a teenager.  Following recording stints in New York and Berlin (where he now calls home), Condon settled in Sudestudio, a studio complex deep in rural Puglia, southern Italy.  It was here that he rediscovered the old joys of music as a visceral experience which became the founding principle for Gallipoli.

The band performed on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on 7th February and CBS Saturday Morning on 9th February.

“Triumphant and understated.” – NPR Music
Gallipoli is the sound of one of our most talented musicians rediscovering his love for what he was born to do.” – The Line Of Best Fit (9/10)
“His best album in years, arguably his best yet… sumptuously romantic, restlessly inventive, emotionally generous and stylistically bold.” – Uncut (8/10) 
“Impressive.” – Q ****
“Swooningly gorgeous and rich.” – Under The Radar (8/10)
“Exquisit world music experiment” – Popmatters
“A hug of a record.” – Record Collector ****
“Creates nostalgia for something lost…  bound to no time or place.” – Cool Hunting

Sending you my best wishes from Sydney, Australia. I have been here for the past month playing shows and catching up with some of my favourite humans. Have you ever had an Aussie breakfast? I can’t recommend the combo of avocado, poached eggs, haloumi cheese and Vegemite highly enough. It’s a weight loss must. As you know, I am a lifelong follower of the rails and this photo was taken outside the Ballarat Tram Museum in Victoria.

Incidentally, it was electric traction that drew me to San Francisco to record the ‘Eye’ album, which turns 29 this week. To celebrate, we have reprinted the popular ‘Eye’ t-shirt.

Live recording of “Sunday Never Comes”, filmed by Jeremy Dylan Featured in the film “Juliet, Naked” directed by Jesse Peretz, starring Ethan Hawke & Rose Byrne

Sending many thanks to the folks who have already pre-ordered my new 7 inch vinyl release. “Sunday Never Comes” which was written for the feature film ‘Juliet Naked’ and “Take Off Your Bandages” has only previously been heard at selected live shows. The official release date for these singles is April 19th, however all mail order singles have early bird privileges and will be shipped on March 20th.

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Holly Herndon operates at the nexus of technological evolution and musical euphoria. Holly’s third full-length album titled “Proto” to be released 10th May 2019 isn’t about A.I., but much of it was created in collaboration with her own A.I. ‘baby’, Spawn. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing, and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion.

Proto makes reference to what Holly refers to as the protocol era, where rapidly surfacing ideological battles over the future of A.I. protocols, centralised and decentralised internet protocols, and personal and political protocols compel us to ask ourselves who are we, what are we, what do we stand for, and what are we heading towards?

Since her arrival in 2012, Holly Herndon has successfully mined the edges of electronic and Avant Garde pop and emerged with a dynamic and disruptive canon of her own, all while studying for her soon-to-be-completed PhD at Stanford University, researching machine learning and music.  Her LP Platform closed out 2015 by gracing year-end lists from Pitchfork, The Guardian, NME, and The Wire.  In the aftermath, Radiohead hand-picked her to open up their European tour.

Just as Platform forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, PROTO is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come.

The acclaimed performer and composer reveals new single ‘Eternal’, a ghostly transmission inspired by ideas of eternal love through mind uploading; a modern-day vampire story.  Punctuated by grandiose orchestration and the voices of her Berlin-based vocal ensemble, the accompanying video was constructed from footage processed from the perspective of an intelligent machine, analysing and searching for a face, yearning for a connection.

New album “Proto” released 10th May 2019

No Words Left was recorded in Brighton, produced by Tim Bidwell and mixed by Cenzo Townsend.

We last heard from Lucy Rose with the release of 2017’s “Something’s Changing”, a record that heralded a new outlook for the musician who was re-evaluating what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it.

If Something’s Changing was an artist rediscovering their voice, No Words Left is Lucy Rose using that voice to devastatingly frank effect. Lyrically and musically fearless, this record is a beautifully intense, but often unsettling listen. It’s a body of work, a fine modern example of the enduring strength of the album format.

Describing the record and its process, Lucy explains: “Releasing this record feels entirely different to every other record I’ve released. But to try and sum up my emotions is virtually impossible. “I don’t believe this the best album I’ve ever made because I don’t believe in making comparisons when it comes to music. But it’s different.

“In every way I’ve approached writing, recording and now releasing music, it’s been different. I’ve lost all consciousness in caring and it’s been liberating. It is what it is. It’s a feeling, it’s a song, it’s a sound, it’s a part of me which I can’t decipher whether it’s good or bad, but it’s sincere. I recently learnt that the word sincere is derived from the Latin sine = without, cera = wax due to dishonest sculptors in Rome or Greece covering flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer. So, a sculpture “without wax” would mean honesty in its perfection.

“That really struck a chord with me as sincerity really is the key to this record. It’s my truth. Sincerity is the truth of a person, not just the good but the bad: the flaws, the realness, which can never be ‘perfect’. This album reflects the reality of my life, the toughness life throws at you, and for a period of time it did become too much for me to handle alone.

“I could try to explain more about each song but in all honesty, I can’t particularly remember writing them, the feeling being too strong and too big for me to comprehend. But songs came out and through writing them and working through my thoughts I saw the truth lying in front of me and a way to move forward.

“I always hope my music would be a comfort to someone, however this record may not be the easiest listen. But it’s in its discomfort I believe a different form of comfort can be found. I’m certain of it. “

Wow, time has really flown and it’s only one week until you will be able to hear ‘No Words Left’ and what’s been in my head this last year. Today I want to share with you another song from the album, which is so important to me.

‘Treat Me Like A Woman’ was written one afternoon in Munich after a combination of events which pushed me to think about the way people interact with me purely based on my gender. I’ve often thought things like, ‘Would that have happened to me if I was a man?’ and a feeling of lack of respect at times purely because I’m a woman.