Posts Tagged ‘4AD Records’

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“Helen in the Woods,” is the third single off her third album Three Futures,

“I forgot. I totally forgot,” Mackenzie Scott said, laughing and adding, “My dad hates it.” Mackenzie Scott, the Brooklyn-based, Georgia-raised musician who records as Torres, wrote most of Three Futures, which is also her debut on 4AD Records (the label of Grimes, The National, Deerhunter, and Daughter), in one sustained period after the release of her critically adored sophomore record Sprinter. But the furious, delirious “Helen in the Woods,” which Scott, now 27, wrote approximately five years ago while still in college.

‘Helen In The Woods’ by TORRES. ‘Three Futures‘ is out now.

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Torres - Three Futures

It was only a few weeks ago when we were speculating about when we might receive an album shaped gift from Torres aka Mackenzie Scott the Brooklyn-based artist, has detailed the release of that record, To be titled “Three Futures” .

Three Futures the first single is a track that slowly reveals itself on repeated listens, such is the complexity of the ever shifting instrumental backing. Fluttering beats hold the track together, as heavily effected guitars, pulses of thrillingly gloomy synths and Mackenzie’s powerful vocal add the perfect dose of melodic sweetness. There’s something in the way the lines are delivered that takes seemingly indecipherable lyrics and gives them an emotional gravitas; a line like, “I hope that’s what you’ll remember, not how I left, but how I entered”, seeming to possess some deep secret beyond any obvious interpretation. Describing the inspiration behind the album, Mackenzie has suggested it, “is entirely about using the body that each of us has been given as a mechanism of joy”. 

‘Three Futures’ is the title track from TORRES’ new album, which is released 29th September on 4AD Records

Torres is the stage name for indie rock musician Mackenzie Scott. She’s originally from somewhere in rural Georgia, and she got her start in Nashville. Her 2013 debut Torres was a huge record and her sophomore release Sprinter was also well received .  Torres released a single and accompanying video yesterday via the excellent label 4AD Records. She had signed with 4AD recently, there apparently is a new album on the horizon.

While the first record was more “indie folk” than rock and the second record was more “indie rock” than folk, it sounds like this might be something different entirely. It’s just one song, but this sounds like a new direction for her. This song reminds me quite a bit of St. Vincent’s marvelous 2011 album Strange Mercy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Annie Clark played guitar on this. If she didn’t, Torres is taking a page straight out of her book and a line from her page.

This video has some strange direction, but it’s brilliant. It’s mysterious and sexy and dark and confusing.

The video was directed by Ashley Connor, who has directed lots of videos for Angel Olsen, as well as a few for Jenny Lewis, Jenny Hval, Julianna Barwick, and others. She also did the creepy/sexy/magnificent video for “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski. Just as she did with “Your Best American Girl”, Connor wants us to feel like creepy, filthy voyeurs with “Skim”. She also wants us to be confused. About a lot of things. No matter what, it’s a wonderfully shot video that has a few surprises in it. Also, as an added bonus, those scenes in the shower are also a subtle echo of some of the press photos from the first album. I like that.

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‘Skim’ by TORRES. Out now on 4AD Records

thanks to thisisthatsong,

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Following up the breakthrough is a tricky business. The easiest thing for John Moreland to do following the success of his 2015 album High On Tulsa Heat would have been to deliver a sequel-like rehash of the acoustic glories of that album. Instead he beefs things and takes a full-band approach on Big Bad Luv, which contains almost as many hooks as it does Moreland’s hard-earned kernels of truth.

You can sense the difference right off the bat with “Salisaw Blue,” which delivers some serious heartland crunch. “Ain’t We Gold” flirts with funk, while “It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before)” locates a chugging, Allman Brothers-style groove. Even mid-tempo numbers like “Lies I Chose To Believe” and “Amen, So Be It” find ways to engage the listener rhythmically as Moreland does his typically astute job with lyrics.

The feeling overall that you gather from these songs is that the difficult struggle undertaken by Moreland’s characters against the darker elements of life is absolutely worth it in the end.

Moreland does take a few moments here and there to go down the more harrowing roads of the previous album, as on “No Glory In Regret.” But even in that song, there’s somebody by his side to help him face his demons. On closing track “Latchkey Kid,” Moreland sings, “I don’t feel the need to prove myself no more.” Big Bad Luv benefits from that attitude, even as it proves this singer-songwriter hasn’t let down at all.

‘It Don’t Suit Me (Like Before)’ by John Moreland, from new album ‘Big Bad Luv’, released May 5th on 4AD Records

The National unveiled the title of their forthcoming album, called “Sleep Well Beast”. In addition to announcing the album, they also gave a sneak peek of the new music via single “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.”

“The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness” has an eerie accompanying video, directed by software designer Casey Reas. The track is undeniably catchy and offers listeners a throwback to earlier National records. You know them, you love them.  Cincinnati-turned-Brooklyn indie rock gurus The National have finally readied album number#7, their first full-length in almost 4 years.  Berninger and the boys’ have perfected their knack for channeling our inner melancholy and giving us a cathartic dose of anthemic rock and roll, and given the current sociopolitical landscape around us, The National should have plenty of material to fashion a charging album of glimmering hope.

This is the group’s follow-up record to 2013’s Trouble Will Find MeIn support of their new album, The National will tour worldwide starting in late June.

Sleep Well Beast will be available September 8th via 4AD Records4 AD have slung together two colorways for the album, and indie-exclusive on blue wax and a 4AD-exclusive white vinyl copy.  The word ‘limited’ has only been used for the blue vinyl, so if you’re looking for the rarer of the two, that’s most likely the choice for you.

Released on 2nd June, The Age Of Anxiety is a brave step forward from Pixx’s first release, 2015’s Fall In EP.  A deeply personal document of heartbreak, those four folk-infused torch songs drew early critical praise, with the Sunday Times hailing it “one of the most arresting debuts of the year,” and led to tours with the likes of Daughter, Lush and Glass Animals.

Instead of tales of loss and affairs of the heart, The Age Of Anxiety finds Hannah Rodgers ostensibly place herself outside looking in.  Her twelve-song collection seeks to address a generation increasingly isolated by an unprecedented new world order, from the pressures of social media to ever-changing political turbulence.

This bold debut borrows its title from W.H. Auden’s final poem, charting one man’s quest to find substance and identity in a shifting and increasingly industrialised world.  Published in 1947, Auden’s six-part rumination on human isolation in the modern age parallels the overarching themes of Pixx’s work some 70 years later.

Originally from Chipstead, just beyond the fringes of south London where suburban sprawl start to break into countryside, Rodgers experienced a year-long period of insomnia caused by recurring nightmares at age 9 – her first awareness of anxiety. It left a lasting impression, inspiring a fascination with different states of consciousness, and is one of many somnolent events she draws upon for The Age Of Anxiety.

Day Of The Dead

The National’s massive triple-disc Grateful Dead tribute album “Day Of The Dead” still keeps throwing out some classic covers. It’s took me an age to get through this album and still I keep discovering some beautiful gems. Already we’ve heard a whole pile of songs from it. the people behind the album have shared most of the tracks, and there are some heavyweights on them. For our purposes, the biggest of these is probably the version of “To Lay Me Down,” done as a funeral duet from Perfume Genius and Sharon Van Etten. Also we get to hear My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James doing “Candyman,”

‘Candyman’ by Jim James & Friends, from ‘Day of the Dead’, is a tribute album to the Grateful Dead curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, with all profits going to Red Hot Organization. ‘Day of the Dead’ was released on 20th May via 4AD Records. Featuring an incredible cast list, the compilation is a wide-ranging tribute to the songwriting and experimentalism of The Grateful Dead which took four years to record and features over 60 artists from varied musical backgrounds, with 59 tracks and a duration of almost six hours. The limited edition 10xLP ‘Day of the Dead’ LP boxed set is released today via 4Ad Records, on individually coloured vinyl.

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Among others are Unknown Mortal Orchestra covering “Shakedown Street,” Bonnie “Prince” Billy singing “Rubin & Cherise,” and old-school soul howler Charles Bradley teaming up with soul/funk revivalists the Menahan Street Band for “Cumberland Blues.”

The tracks curated from Bryce & Aaron Dessner ,The compilation was produced by Aaron Dessner and co-produced by Bryce Dessner and Josh Kaufman. Grateful Dead tribute album were released a year ago. Considering the album has 59 tracks, this is just a small sampling. Last March, a whole bumch of covers from the record were released, including takes from the National, Courtney Barnett, the War on Drugs, Bruce Hornsby with Justin Vernon’s band DeYarmond Edison, and Phosphorescent with Jenny Lewis., the National and Grizzly Bear members also performed a’ 17-minute cover of “Terrapin Station Suite” .

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Aldous Harding - Party

An artist of rare calibre, Aldous Harding does more than sing; she conjures a singular intensity.  Her body and face a weapon of theatre, Harding dances with steeled fervor, baring her teeth like a Bunraku puppet’s gnashing grin.

Her debut release with 4AD Records, “Party” (produced with the award-winning John Parish; PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse) introduces a new pulse to the stark and unpopulated dramatic realm where the likes of Kate Bush and Scott Walker reside.

Comprising a formidable clutch of songs, 2017’s Party sees Harding shape-shift through a variety of roles: chanteuse, folk singer and balladeer – all executed with her twisted touch of humour, hubris and quiet horror.  In other words, she’s having a good time.  Stretching her limbs with playful cunning; every note, word and arrangement posed with intellect and inventiveness.

Created in Parish’s hometown of Bristol, “Party” saw Aldous Harding depart her New Zealand base in the antipodes for an intensive two-week immersion in the studio.  Articulating her ambitions for “Party” to Parish was a galvanizing process for Harding, met with stunning results.  The pair developed a near non-verbal shorthand, audibly evident in a raft of musical contributions from Parish.  Alongside such special guests as Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas (having worked with Parish and toured with Aldous, it only took asking once), there is an exhilarating sense of risk throughout the record as Harding’s muscular wingspan extends.  Teased out with inflections of experimental instrumentation and arrangements; “Party” is always anchored by Aldous’s intimidating command of her own songs.

First single ‘Horizon’ is a lover’s call to arms, powerful for its brutal simplicity and rawness of feeling, love and loathing colliding to devastating effect.  “Aldous Harding repeats the line as a mantra, as a truth, as a reality. It’s as if the gift of life is right here, with all its beauty and its limitations”, said NPR.

‘Imagining My Man’ commands an air of delicacy as Aldous explores the curiosity of a lover’s idiosyncrasies; steering listeners into a state of intense intimacy laced with hyperactive shots, dirgey saxophone and Harding’s aching voice.  The track is one of two that Mike Hadreas lends his inimitably sultry vocals to, the other being the intimate Party closer ‘Swell Does The Skull’.

‘Blend’ sensitively ushers the mood of Harding’s flourishment throughout Party.  Its opening lines a nod to the mood of Harding’s last record; sameness is quickly quashed with an electronic drumbeat and the announcement of Aldous Harding as an artist of stirring ambition and trajectory.

The album’s eponymous single ‘Party’ harks to Aldous’ earlier work; delicately pulling at the threads of a seemingly late-night love affair.  Again, it’s not long until the rug is pulled out, with a searing chorus – Harding’s electrifying vocal accompanied by a choir of women and waves of percussive bass clarinet – piercing the balloon of expectations around Harding’s new record with effortless vigour.

John Moreland - Big Bad Luv

Big Bad Luv – the new album from John Moreland – is an honest, bruising experience.  A record about love, faith and the human condition, it’s his debut for 4AD Records and the first full-length released to worldwide anticipation on May 5th 2017

His fourth album and first with international ambition, Big Bad Luv, was recorded in Little Rock, AK, and mostly with a crew of Tulsa friends: John Calvin Abney (piano and guitar), Aaron Boehler (bass), Paddy Ryan (drums), Jared Tyler (dobro) and Lucero’s Rick Steff (piano).  Coming together in three sessions over ten months, which were sandwiched between touring dates and life, the final album was then mixed by GRAMMY winning Tchad Blake, who has worked with iconic acts from Al Green to Tom Waits.

Planetarium is an album co-composed by four musicians: Bryce Dessner, James McAlister, Nico Muhly, and Sufjan Stevens.  Flanked by a string quartet and a consort of seven trombones, this unique collaborative ensemble has assembled an expansive song cycle that explores the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other celestial bodies of our solar system (and beyond) through soundscape, song, science and myth.

The subject of the album is not just the wilderness of outer space, but the interior space of human consciousness and how it engages with divinity, depravity, society and self—what does it mean to be human?  This existential question rings clear from the opening lyric: “What’s right and what’s wrong?”  The 75 minutes of music that follow provide a complex thesis: to be human is to be a total mess.  The result of this creative alliance is a musical and aesthetic journey as far-reaching as its subject: from lush piano ballads to prog-rock political anthems, curious electronic back-beats to classical cadenzas, the vast musical styles seek to explore the diversity and mystery of our cosmos.

Planetarium is a concept album that occasionally gives way to ambient interludes and majestic brass chorales, buttressed by a percussive drive that keeps the momentum skyward.  In spite of all the experimentation in sound and style, Sufjan’s vocals provide a clear and coherent center of gravity.  The album includes some of his most diverse vocal performances to date (from soft hush to guttural scream), and whether he’s singing through effects pedals, vocoders, auto-tune or not, his voice delivers an ambitious flight map through the cosmos.

The project started when the Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven commissioned Nico Muhly to create a new piece for their audience, and Nico immediately thought of his friends Bryce and Sufjan.

‘Mercury’ by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister. Taken from the album ‘Planetarium’, released 9th June on 4AD Records:

“I’d known Sufjan for years,” says Nico, “and Bryce and I had been in each other’s business” — but, says Bryce, “we’d never worked on something this ambitious together.”  Each of the four brought their discrete and complementary strengths to the project.  Nico’s experience with composing music for cathedral choirs and symphony orchestras provided the framework for the piece, while Bryce brought his own sense of composition and orchestral color.

“Of the three of us, Bryce is the most virtuosic at his instrument,” said Nico.  A studied and accomplished classical musician, Bryce was also fluent in Nico’s unique musical language, and added a layer of rhythmic complexity to the songs.”

Sufjan became the driver behind the “song” part of the song cycle.  (Bryce: “I think ‘seven trombones’ was enough to lure Sufjan into it.”)  Sufjan also brought lyrics, and with them, the larger ideas around which Planetarium revolves: mythology and astrology, the ancient concept that stars and planets of the night sky represent gods, heroes and monsters.  As the project evolved, the group expanded the idea to encompass science and astronomy.

Sufjan also introduced frequent collaborator James McAlister to Bryce and Nico, and James brought the beats—drums, percussion and electronic sequencing.

In addition to the previously announced Paris show, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister will perform music from ‘Planetarium’ live at three special US concerts this summer. Listen to new track ‘Mercury’,