Posts Tagged ‘Amen Dunes’

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After Amen Dunes released their third album, “Love”; a spiritual record of sorts, it was heralded as a far more popular, accessible work than the much lower-fi obfuscation of its two predecessors. Yet for all of its greater clarity and openness, “Love” did take some eighteen months, a similar number of musicians and five different studios before it finally came to fruition. “Cowboy Worship”, is a six track Extended Play recording, is, in essence, what was swept up off the cutting room floor from those extensive sessions.

Four of “Cowboy Worship’s” tracks – ‘I Can’t Help Myself’, ‘I Can’t Dig It’, ‘Green Eyes’ and ‘Love’ – are alternative takes of songs that first appeared on Love. The self-protection of ‘I Can’t Find Myself’ and Love’s beautiful, reverential title track – as if Nina Simone had somehow been joined in holy matrimony with Traffic’s jazz-inspired epic ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’ – differ by degrees, those nuances of detail that can only change with a shift in time and place.

‘Green Eyes’ does not stray too far from its version on Love either. It still reminds you of what Syd Barrett may have sounded like had he not fallen into that deep abyss of emotional meltdown. But ‘I Can’t Dig It’ – an angry outburst of wracked failure on Love and a song seemingly at odds with the devotional serenity of the rest of the albumis finally granted absolution on “Cowboy Worships”.

Another song to be reincarnated is ‘Lezzy Head’. First appearing on Amen Dunes’ second album Through Donkey Jaw, it is given the full band treatment on Cowboy Worships without losing any of its spectral core. This leaves ‘Song To The Siren’ as the only “new” track to appear on the EP. With Ben Greenberg’s elliptical guitar and Damon McMahon’s echoing voice, it drifts in the ether that lies somewhere between the This Mortal Coil version of the song and Tim Buckley’s original recording.

It would be very easy to dismiss Cowboy Worship as a mere collection of outtakes that add little or nothing to the purity that embraces the Love album. Yet if the six songs that comprise this EP are evaluated in their own right, they do somehow distil Love’s essence into something that feels, if anything, even more redemptive.

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The Cowboy Worship EP will be released via Sacred Bones on 19th January 2015

Freedom, the new record from Amen Dunes (aka New York songwriter Damon McMahon), is a first and foremost a study of desperate men.

Damon McMahon has been releasing a somewhat steady stream of music for the past 15 years – as the lead singer of Inouk before launching solo project Amen Dunes. But it’s the new album Freedom that finally takes him from a local New York act to an international name. On ‘Dracula’ – one of the final tracks on his fourth full-length under the Amen Dunes moniker – Damon finds himself somewhere between Cass McCombs’ poeticism and Jim James’ modernised classic rock with a standout number on one of 2018’s stand-out albums so far.

With every record, Damon McMahon aka Amen Dunes has transformed, and Freedom is the project’s boldest leap yet. The first LP, D.I.A., was a gnarled underground classic, recorded and played completely by McMahon in a trailer in upstate New York over the course of a month and left as is. The fourth and most recent LP Love, a record that enlisted Godspeed! You Black Emperor as both producers and backing band (along with an additional motley crew including Elias Bender Rønnenfelt of Iceage and Colin Stetson), featured songs confidently far removed from the damaged drug pop of Amen Dunes’ trailer-park origins.

Love took two years to make. Freedom took three. The first iteration of the album was recorded in 2016 following a year of writing in Lisbon and NYC, but it was scrapped completely. Uncertain how to move forward, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends, and began anew. Along with his core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome. McMahon discovered Panoram’s music in a shop in London and became enamored. Following this the two became friends and here Panoram finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record.

The bulk of the songs were recorded at the famed Electric Lady Studios in NYC (home of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, D’Angelo), and finished at the similarly legendary Sunset Sound in L.A., where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player extraordinaire Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings.

On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording.

The characters that populate the musical world of Freedom are a colourful mix of reality and fantasy: father and mother, Amen Dunes, teenage glue addicts and Parisian drug dealers, ghosts above the plains, fallen surf heroes, vampires, thugs from Naples and thugs from Houston, the emperor of Rome, Jews, Jesus, Tashtego, Perseus, even McMahon himself. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.

Yet, if anything, these 11 songs are a relinquishing of all of them through exposition; a gradual reorientation of being away from the acquired definitions of self we all cling to and towards something closer to what’s stated in the Agnes Martin quote that opens the record, “I don’t have any ideas myself; I have a vacant mind” and in the swirling, pitched down utterances of “That’s all not me” that close it.

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The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it’s a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable. The combination of a powerhouse rhythm section, Delicate Steve’s guitar prowess filtered through Amen Dunes heft, and Panoram’s electronic production background, makes for a special and unique NYC street record.

It’s a sound never heard before on an Amen Dunes record, but one that was always asking to emerge. Eleven songs span a range of emotions, from contraction to release and back again. ‘Blue Rose’ and ‘Calling Paul the Suffering’ are pure, ecstatic dance songs. ‘Skipping School’ and ‘Miki Dora’ are incantations of a mythical heroic maleness and its illusions. ‘Freedom’ and ‘Believe’ offer a street tough’s future-gospel exhalation, and the funk-grime grit of ‘L.A.’ closes the album, projecting a musical hint of things to come.

Released March 30th, 2018

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Happy Easter! Welcome to this week’s essential new Easter releases, As befitting a major public holiday weekend, there are lots and lots of great albums released tomorrow. You can choose from Cabbage, The Vaccines, Ben Harper, Haley Heynderickx, Trembling Bells, Frankie Cosmos new favourites Sons Of Kemet and much more besides. Plenty of reissues too out tomorrow , A really nice collection and very limited of The Damned singles box set, this will be gone soon so if you are looking for a copy, grab one now – other re-releases include the albums, Spacemen 3 and some a fab Supremes set on CD only.

Some very nice pre-orders available now including the two biggies which are both are actually reissues, though it’s doubtful that many of you have one of these in your collection. The Pink Floyd ‘Pulse’ 4LP set is getting a re-release on the 18th May and a reissue of The Floyd’s ‘Relics’. Also on the reissues tip is the very wonderful looking  Supremes box set; ‘Supreme Rarities’ is coming out as a 4LP set from of all places Third Man Records. Already selling well is the forthcoming re-release of ‘Version 2.0’ from Garbage, with an orange 2LP version or a deluxe box set.

Have a great Easter weekend (don’t eat too many of those Chocolate Eggs!)

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Cabbage  –  Nihilistic Glamour Shots

Cabbage have finally released their highly anticipated debut album (not counting the Record Store Day release), following on from a trio of EP’s, released under the delightfully tactful ‘‘Young, Dumb & Full Of…

We start off with the thrashing garage rock of ‘Preach To The Converted’ with twanging distorted guitar and the sort of snarling vocals you could imagine being venemously spat from the edge of the stage before launching into the fuzzy off-kilter rock of Arms of Pleonexia, reminiscent of a younger Ty Segall swagging around the stage before a baying croud after one too many bottles of corner-shop white lightning. Things continue at this frenetic pace with ‘Molotov Alcopop’ providing a bit of nuanced rhythm before the gothic rock of ‘Disinfect Us’ suggests a more mature suite of influences, from the militant march and languid blues overtones of early White Stripes.

Further on, we get syncopated guitars over a meandering drum machine on the brilliantly swaying ‘Pendurabo’ and jangling hazy indie, topped with a curiously (but effectively) distorted vocal affectation over the top.

Brilliantly varied, but held together with a persistent narrative thread, ‘Nihilistic Glamour Shots’ lives up to the hype of the earlier 3 EP’s, with a willingness to experiment but a knowing nod to all of their numerous influences.

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Frankie Cosmos  –  Vessel

New York-native songwriter Greta Kline has shared a bounty of her innermost thoughts and experiences via the massive number of songs she has released since 2011. Like many of her peers, Kline’s prolific output was initially born from the ease of bedroom recording and self-releasing offered by digital technology and the internet. But, as she’s grown as a writer and performer, devising more complex albums and playing to larger audiences, Kline has begun to make her mark on modern independent music. Her newest record, Vessel, is the 52nd release from Kline and the third studio album by her indie pop outfit Frankie Cosmos. On it, Kline explores all of the changes that have come in her life as a result of the music she has shared with the world, as well as the parts of her life that have remained irrevocable.

Frankie Cosmos has taken several different shapes since their first full-band album, 2014’s Zentropy, erupted in New York’s DIY music scene. For Vessel the band’s lineup comprises multi-instrumentalists David Maine, Lauren Martin, Luke Pyenson, and Kline. The album’s 18 tracks employ a range of instrumentations and recording methods not found on the band’s prior albums, while maintaining the succinctly sincere nature of Kline’s songwriting. The album’s opening track, “Caramelize,” serves as the thematic overture for Vessel, alluding to topics like dependency, growth, and love, which reemerge throughout the record. Although many of the scenarios and personalities written about on Vessel are familiar territory for Frankie Cosmos, Kline brings a freshly nuanced point of view, and a desire to constantly question the latent meaning of her experiences. Kline’s dissonant lyrics pair with the band’s driving, jangly grooves to create striking moments of musical chemistry.
Vessel’s 34-minute run time is exactly double the length of Frankie Cosmos’ breakout record, Zentropy, and it is an enormous leap forward. Typically, albums by artists at a similar stage in their careers are written with the weight of knowing that someone is on the other end listening. Yet, despite being fully aware of their ever-growing audience, Kline and band have written Vessel with a clarity not muddled by the fear of anyone’s expectations. Vessel’s unique sensibility, esoteric narratives, and reveling energy lace it comfortably in Kline’s ongoing musical auto-biography.

Vessel was recorded in Binghamton, New York with Hunter Davidsohn, the producer and engineer who helped craft Zentropy and Next Thing, and at Gravesend Recordings in Brooklyn with Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader. It features contributions from Alex Bailey (formerly of Warehouse, and now part of the live configuration of Frankie Cosmos), Vishal Narang (of Airhead DC), and singer/songwriter Anna McClellan, all of whom have played on bills with Frankie Cosmos and collaborated on-stage with the band.

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Haley Heynderickx –  I Need to Start a Garden

Haley Heynderickx’s highly anticipated debut album. Haley has a wonderful voice and the lyrics are poetic and heartfelt. Musically it’s sometimes reminiscent of early Velvet Underground in that many of the songs quickly build into frenetic and emotive climaxes. The difference here is that these crescendos dissolve into tender moments of unabashed vulnerability, rather than fragmenting into splinters of drug-fueled confusion. It’s beautiful and heartfelt. For fans of Velvet Underground, Angel Olsen and Cat Power.

Amen dunes freedom

Amen Dunes  –  Freedom

Over the course of 10 years, Damon McMahon aka Amen Dunes has transformed continuously, and Freedom is the project’s boldest leap yet. The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it’s a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable. It’s a sound never heard before on an Amen Dunes record, but one that was always asking to emerge. Eleven songs span a range of emotions, from contraction to release and back again. Blue Rose and Calling Paul the Suffering are pure, ecstatic dance songs. Skipping School and Miki Dora are incantations of a mythical heroic maleness and its illusions. Freedom and Believe offer a street tough’s future-gospel exhalation, and the funk-grime grit of L.A. closes the album, projecting a musical hint of things to come.

In creating Freedom, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends. Along with core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer, and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome, who finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record. The bulk of the songs were recorded at Electric Lady in New York, and finished at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings.

Yet, if anything, these eleven songs are a relinquishing of all of them through exposition; a gradual reorientation of being away from the acquired definitions of self we all cling to and towards something closer to what’s stated in the Agnes Martin quote that opens the record, “I don’t have any ideas myself; I have a vacant mind” and in the swirling, pitched down utterances of “That’s all not me” that close it.

“Miki Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing’s commercialization. He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated. With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one’s youth, the song is about Dora, and McMahon, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.”

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Camp Cope  –  How To Socialise and Make Friends

Camp Cope’s new album How To Socialise and Make Friends is the current Australian buzz band. The follow up to their 2016 self-titled debut kicks off with the instantly remarkable bass line of The Opener, an explosive diatribe against the sexist double standards of the music industry at large. What follows the lead single are a collection of songs that anchor on the cycles of life, loss and growth through resilience and those moments of finding and being yourself. Throughout the nine songs on How To Socialise and Make Friends it becomes clear that if their debut was the flame, this is Camp Cope rising from the ashes, stronger and more focused than ever. For fans of Courtney Barnett, Bettie Serveert and Liz Phair.

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Dead Meadow  –  The Nothing They Need

Since their widely-acclaimed self-titled debut album released in 1999 Dead Meadow have released seven studio albums – three via Matador records (Shivering King and Others (2003), Feathers (2005), and Old Growth (2008)) and two live albums which includes Three Kings, a feature length live film and soundtrack. Their unique marriage of Sabbath riffs, dreamy layers of guitar-fuzz bliss with singer Jason Simon’s melodic croon has won over psychedelic pop/rock and stoner rock fans alike and with their new album The Nothing They Need (Xemu Records) the band show that in 2018, they continue to fuse their love of early-’70s hard rock and ’60s psychedelia into their own distinct sound.

The album was recorded in Dead Meadows’ studio/rehearsal space, The Wiggle Room and it celebrates twenty years of the band with eight songs that feature everyone that has been musically involved with the band over the years. Jason and Steve Kille are joined by original drummer Mark Laughlin, Stephen McCarty ( the drummer throughout the Matador years), and current drummer Juan Londono. Cory Shane joins them on guitar for some Feathers era dual guitar interplay.

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No Joy / Sonic Boom  –

No Joy / Sonic Boom is Jasamine White-Gluz and Pete Kember. You know Jasamine from her eight-years (and counting) stint as a founding member and principal songwriter of Canadian shoegaze / noise-pop band No Joy. And Pete Kember is Sonic Boom, of Spacemen 3, Spectrum, and E.A.R. While neither can accurately recollect how they met, the pair first touched on the idea of working together in an exchange of emails during the fall of 2015. No Joy had just finished touring on the back of LP More Faithful (their third full-length on the Mexican Summer imprint, and their heaviest to date), and Jasamine was eager to walk a new path. “No Joy functioned as a four-piece ‘rock band’ for so long,” she says. “I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle. Pete is a legend and someone I’ve admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible.”

What started as a sonic exploration between two friends—passing songs back and forth intercontinentally, with Jasamine writing and producing songs in Montreal and Pete writing, arranging, and producing in Portugal—soon grew into a project of substance, the result being four glistening tracks that dance along the lines of electronica, trip-hop and experimental noise. “I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them. I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas. There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds.” The No Joy / Sonic Boom EP begins with the 11+ minute epic “Obsession,” a disco-y dream trance jam that ebbs and flows, before “Slorb” slinks in, casting its seductive spell. “Triangle Probably” rings triumphant, an industrial beat thumping below, the track interwoven with Jasamine’s silvery vocals. “Teenage Panic” begins in celebration, brimming with hope and excitement, and then—a full stop—before striking back in the form of a droning loop that gathers more and more layers as it spins out into the infinite void.

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Holy Wave  –   Adult Fear

El Paso’s Holy Wave will release their new album, Adult Fear via The Reverberation Appreciation Society. The band have always differentiated themselves from the psych pack with their keyboard-forward sound that rarely falls into standard trippy tropes, and the album’s title track is a good example of that, with a grooving bassline and nice harmonies in the chorus.

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The Damned  –  Stiff Singles 1976 – 1977

BMG proudly present this limited edition set comprising of 5 x 7″ vinyl singles including the famed first ever punk single New Rose and all the other early hits from the impressively chaotic punk quartet. All singles have been recreated with their original artwork, including the ultra-rare, previously fan club only Stretcher Case Baby. These are all packed in a superb box, collaged with original press cuttings from back in the day. Also included is a Damned embroidered patch, exclusive to this boxset. It was the summer of 1976 when Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies and Captain Sensible recruited guitarist and songwriter Brian James, they played their first gig supporting the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club and quickly signed to Stiff Records and began writing the very first chapter of the punk rock history books. Their debut 7” – New Rose – was written by Brian James and backed by a proto-thrash version of The Beatles’ Help. It was recorded by Stiff’s in-house producer, Nick Lowe and set the punk dream alight at exactly 9.00am when record shops opened for business on 22 October 1976, stealing a march on the Pistols by becoming what is widely acknowledged as the very first punk record ever released.The band really came into their own with their second single – Neat Neat Neat – which had two cuts on the B-side, Stab Yor Back and Singalongascabies. Produced, like New Rose, by Nick Lowe, the vinyl had a message from one band member scratched in the run-out groove: “this is your captain speaking…” So what were Captain Sensible’s favourite acts on Stiff, one journalist asked him in 2007? “I wasn’t interested!” he insists. “It was mainly pub rock in the early days, which we despised and sneered at in our young and snotty way…” After a special 7” – Stretcher Case Baby – cut to give away at gigs celebrating the band’s first anniversary, they went back into the studio, this time with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason at the controls. Third single Problem Child was written by Brian James with Rat Scabies and featured new recruit Lu Edmonds on guitar. An incendiary two minutes of the band in their prime, it failed to crack the UK top 40 but did make number 27 in NME’s alternative singles chart. By the end of 1977, the Damned were ready to part with Stiff, just as Brian James and Lu Edmonds were ready to part with The Damned. Their last single was Don’t Cry Wolf, backed with another Nick Mason-produced track, One Way Love.

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Spacemen 3 –  Playing With Fire

Every once in a while a record comes along that somehow manages to define an era. in the late 80’s there can be no doubt that one such record was released – and that record was Playing With Fire by Spacemen 3. Fuelled by narcotic indulgence and an overwhelming sense of darkness it was rightly hailed as a classic at the time and is still considered to be one of the greatest albums of the time by many today. Its mesmerising beauty and sublime originality are still recognised as a genuine triumph to this day.

2CD – Double CD with live versions of Suicide and Repeater and recordings of Che and May the Circle be Unbroken. Not only that but they’ve also included a second CD full of studio out-takes and demos, including the Spacemen 3 version of Any Way That You Want Me – the song which went on to become Spiritualized’s debut single.

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Jade Bird  –   Something American EP

Jade Bird’s debut EP Something American – originally released in 2017 gets a limited physical release. Across the 5 tracks, her voice has arrived like a total breath of fresh air in the current musical landscape – putting her own positive, refreshing spin on a richly complex personal and musical heritage. Within the EP, Jade manages to twist huge themes including disillusionment, divorce, cheating and sorrow into the realities of an independent-minded modern British teenager. Produced by Simone Felice (The Lumineers, Bat For Lashes etc), the EP was recorded at Clubhouse Studio in Rhinebeck, NY and features Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, St Vincent) on drums, Will Rees (Mystery Jets) on guitar and Sara Lee (B-52’s) on bass.

This Week’s Full Releases list

Alfa 9 – ‘My Sweet Movida’ limited clear vinyl LP
Anthroprophh – ‘Omegaville’ swirl vinyl LP

Barbarossa – ‘Lier’ limited turquoise vinyl LP
The Bug Vs Burial – ‘Flame 1’ 12″
Cabbage – ‘Nihilistic Glamour Shots’ LP
The Cars – ‘Heartbeat City’ limited coloured vinyl 2LP reissue
The Cars – ‘Shake It Off’ limited coloured vinyl 2LP

Chris Carter – ‘Chemistry Lessons Volume 1’ coloured vinyl 2LP
The Cavemen – ‘Nuke Earth’ LP
The Cavemen – The Cavemen’ red vinyl LP reissue

Frankie Cosmos – ‘Vessel’ limited blue vinyl LP
Graham Coxon – ‘The End Of The F***ing World: Original Soundtrack’ 2LP

Czarface & MF Doom – ‘Czarface Meets Metal Face’ LP
The Damned – ‘Stiff Singles 1976-1977’ limited 5×7″ singles box set
Dead Meadow – ‘The Nothing They Need’ LP
FACS – ‘Negative Houses’ LP
Fever Ray – ‘Plunge’ deluxe 2LP
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – ‘No Mercy In This Land’ LP
Micah P. Hinson – ‘At The BBC Broadcasting Corporation’ LP
Hollywood Sinners – ‘Khome Kakka’ LP
Interrobang – ‘Interrobang’ limited orange vinyl LP
Major Murphy – ‘No.1’ LP
OST – ‘Mr Robot: Volume 4’ limited coloured vinyl 2LP
Max Richter – ‘Hostiles: Original Soundtrack’ 2LP
Sonny Rollins – ‘Saxophone Colossus’ LP reissue

Steve Reich – ‘Pulse/Quartet’ LP
Shit & Shine – ‘That’s Enough’ 12″ EP
Sons Of Kemet – ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’ 2LP
Spacemen 3 – ‘Playing With Fire’ black vinyl LP reissue
The Streets – ‘Original Pirate Material’ 2LP reissue
The Streets – ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ 2LP reissue

The Third Eye Foundation – ‘Wake The Dead’ LP
Trembling Bells – ‘Dungeness’ LP
The Vaccines – ‘Combat Sports’ limited orange vinyl LP

AMEN DUNES – ” Love “

Posted: February 26, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

While the previous Amen Dunes records had all been largely improvisational first-take affairs, recorded in a matter of weeks at most, the forthcoming full-length, “Love”, is the product of close to a year and a half of continuous work.

Damon McMahon (aka Amen Dunes) chose to hold the main recording sessions in Montreal with Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In addition to recording the sessions that McMahon produced, members of Godspeed also played on several of the songs, along with Colin Stetson on saxophone and Elias Bender-Ronnenfelt of Iceage, who duets with McMahon on two tracks. The result is definitively the most substantial Amen Dunes record to date. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory, as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open, and beautiful.

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originally released May 13th, 2014

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Amen Dunes (aka the project of New York-based Damon McMahon) has shared the video for his new single Blue Rose, taken from upcoming long player Freedom which is out on the 30th March.

The song is a teenage clarion call born from McMahon’s growing up with an unpredictable father, his fighting back with music, drugs and fantasy, and his eventual escape from it all via one of the many identities, that of a musician.

“Freedom” took three. The first iteration of the album was recorded in 2016 following a year of writing in Lisbon and NYC, but it was scrapped completely. Uncertain how to move forward, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends, and began anew. Along with his core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground producer Panoram from Rome. McMahon discovered Panoram’s music in a shop in London and became enamored. Following this the two became friends and here Panoram finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record.

The bulk of the songs were recorded at the famed Electric Lady Studios in NYC (home of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, D’Angelo), and finished at the similarly legendary Sunset Sound in L.A., where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player extraordinaire Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings.
On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording.

From ‘Freedom,’ out March 30th, 2018.

Band Members
Damon McMahon + Jordi Wheeler + Parker Kindred

Freedom

Amen Dunes (aka the project of New York-based Damon McMahon) will release his fifth album, Freedom, on 30 March via Sacred Bones Records.

Amen Dunes last released an album in 2014. The album was called Love .  The tune below is called “Miki Dora” . Here’s what McMahon has to say about the track.

Miki Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing’s commercialization. He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated. With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one’s youth, the song is about Dora, and McMahon, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.”

On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording. The characters that populate the musical world of the album are a colourful mix of reality and fantasy. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.The lead single  Miki Dora”, and its accompanying video, which features 17-year old Boomer Feith with McMahon appearing as both the story’s narrator and its subject.

Of the track, McMahon says, “Miki Dora was arguably the most gifted and innovative surfer of his generation and the foremost opponent of surfing’s commercialization. He was also a lifelong criminal and retrograde: a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche. He was a living contradiction; both a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated. With lyrics of regret and redemption at the end of one’s youth, the song is about Dora, and McMahon, but ultimately it is a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions.”

On every record, Damon McMahon’s project has transformed continuously, and Freedom is its boldest leap yet. On the surface, the album is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording. The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it’s a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable. The album comes out March 30th.

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The video for the first single from Freedom, “Miki Dora,” is out now.

The first LP, D.I.A., was a gnarled underground classic, recorded and played completely by McMahon in a trailer in upstate New York over the course of a month and left as is. The fourth and most recent LP Love, a record that enlisted Godspeed! You Black Emperor as both producers and backing band (along with an additional motley crew including Elias Bender Rønnenfelt of  Iceage and Colin Stetson), featured songs confidently far removed from the damaged drug pop of Amen Dunes’ trailer-park origins.

Love took two years to make. Freedom took three. The first iteration of the album was recorded in 2016 following a year of writing in Lisbon and NYC, but it was scrapped completely. Uncertain how to move forward, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends, and began anew. Along with his core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came  Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome. McMahon discovered Panoram’s music in a shop in London and became enamored. Following this the two became friends and here Panoram finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record.

The bulk of the songs were recorded at the famed Electric Lady Studios in NYC (home of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, D’Angelo), and finished at the similarly legendary Sunset Sound in L.A., where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player extraordinaire  Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings.

On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse.

The characters that populate the musical world of Freedom are a colourful mix of reality and fantasy: father and mother, Amen Dunes, teenage glue addicts and Parisian drug dealers, ghosts above the plains, fallen surf heroes, vampires, thugs from Naples and thugs from Houston, the emperor of Rome, Jews, Jesus, Tashtego, Perseus, even McMahon himself. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.

The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it’s a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable. The combination of a powerhouse rhythm section, Delicate Steve’s guitar prowess filtered through.

It’s a sound never heard before on an Amen Dunes record, but one that was always asking to emerge. Eleven songs span a range of emotions, from contraction to release and back again. ‘Blue Rose’ and ‘Calling Paul the Suffering’ are pure, ecstatic dance songs. ‘Skipping School’ and ‘Miki Dora’ are incantations of a mythical heroic maleness and its illusions. ‘Freedom’ and ‘Believe’ offer a street tough’s future-gospel exhalation, and the funk-grime grit of ‘L.A.’ closes the album, projecting a musical hint of things to come.

 

 

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Hazy New York psych project Amen Dunes released a new album earlier this year, and have just shared a video for “Lonely Richard,” a song that features vocals from Iceage frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. It’s a grainy slo-mo video consisting of shots of an idyllic-looking New York City and the nature that surrounds it. It was shot on 16mm film by director Kenneth Zoran Curwood, who told Fader that the video is meant to “channel the land from which [the song] flows.”

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Amen Dunes, is the project of Damon McMahon, what began as a collection of improvised songs made in the fall of 2006 in a trailer in upstate New York. After sharing them with a few friends, the tapes were shelved, and the following summer McMahon moved to China and all but quit making music.

Three years later they emerged to underground critical acclaim as D.I.A., prompting McMahon to move home and begin performing live in the US and in Europe with a rotating cast of musicians, in recent years focused around the core of Jordi Wheeler and Parker Kindred.

Amen Dunes releases have taken a variety of forms, from spoken word and bedroom industrial music, to downer Ethiopian covers and harsh folk, to classic American ballads. At the center of its various manifestations, however, all Amen Dunes music is the exploration of the alien elemental song.

From the forthcoming new EP “Cowboy Worship” out January 20th, 2015 on Sacred Bones Records.

New York-based Amen Dunes’ has announced news of a companion EP to follow the release of his critically acclaimed album ‘Love’, which came out earlier this year via Sacred Bones. Entitled ‘Cowboy Worship’, the forthcoming record is an attempt to give life to some of the music that played a crucial part to the creation of ‘Love’. It’s set for release on Jan 19th and new track ‘Song To The Siren’, taken from the EP,