Posts Tagged ‘Anti Records’

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Nandi Rose has shared this synthy mood piece from her upcoming Half Waif album The Caretaker which is out March 27 via ANTI-Records . “‘Halogen 2′ is a song about isolation and the search for strength,” says Nandi. “The halogens are some of the most reactive elements on the periodic table, and in this song, winter and a life alone in the country are like halogen: an unrelenting force that produces change. I wrote this song at home in Upstate New York last March at a time when my sense of isolation was at its height. And yet I’ve always been someone who loves my alone time, so there was a sense of shame that I couldn’t handle it this time. I needed to tell myself and anyone witnessing my restlessness: ‘Don’t misunderstand, I do what I must.’ Nearly a year after writing the song, we shot most of the music video in the same location: my house and yard. The two opposing feelings presented by the verses and choruses are represented visually in the Blue World of cold, stagnant country life and the Orange World of the unfettered, fiery strength that lies beneath.

“Halogen 2” by Half Waif from the album ‘The Caretaker,’ available March 27th

Steve Wynn says “The Regulator” is a microcosm of The Dream Syndicate’s new album “The Universe Inside”. “It was just a formless, trippy mass as we all started playing together,’ says Wynn. “There was an early 70’s drum machine—a Maestro Rhythm King, the same model used on Sly Stone’s “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”—with Dennis locking in and setting the pace. Stephen grabbed an electric sitar because it was the first thing he saw. Jason and I were kicking pedals on like lab monkeys in a laboratory and Mark was a lightning rod, uniting all of those elements into one tough groove. I collected a list of random, unconnected lyric ideas that I kept on my phone. I tried them all out in random order in my home studio just to see how they would feel and that one-take test run is the vocal you hear! There’s just so much lightning-in-a-jar, first take excitement on this record.”

The Dream Syndicate is:
Steve Wynn – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
Jason Victor – guitar
Chris Cacavas – keyboards
Mark Walton – bass guitar
Dennis Duck – drums

Special guests: Stephen McCarthy (electric sitar, guitar, six-string bass, pedal steel, backing vocals)

“The Regulator” by The Dream Syndicate from the album ‘The Universe Inside,’ available April 10th

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There’s a palpable joy and freedom to these recordings that make it the most appealing Son Little album to date. The songs themselves benefit from a lack of spit and polish, as Aaron Livingston has always been a bluesman at heart. His compositions here are raw, unvarnished extrapolations of old country-blues and early rock and roll tropes, and they’re all the better for sounding a bhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mpcl0_4cPnsit shaggy. And if Livingston has an old soul, he’s by no means stuck in the past, something evident from the SoundCloud-style naming conventions in some of these songs (“bbbaby,” “about her. again”).

“Letting go can be a scary prospect,” says Son Little. “But there’s beauty in it, too. Everything you leave behind opens up space for something new in your life.”

That was certainly the case with Little’s remarkable new album, ‘aloha.’ Written in only eight days and recorded at Paris’s iconic Studio Ferber, the entire project was an exercise in letting go, in ceding control, in surrendering to fate. While Little still plays nearly every instrument on the album himself, he put his songs in the hands of an outside producer for the first time here, collaborating with French studio wizard Renaud Letang (Feist, Manu Chao) to create his boldest, most self-assured statement yet.

“I’d always produced myself in the past,” explains Little, “but it’s easy to get caught up in an endless quest for perfection when you do that. Working with Renaud let me see my work from an outsider’s perspective, and that helped me get out of my own way.”

Son Little from the album ‘aloha’, available now

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Few artists are storytellers as deft and disarmingly observational as Andy Shauf. The Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician’s songs unfold like short fiction: they’re densely layered with colorful characters and a rich emotional depth. On his new album The Neon Skyline(out January 24th via ANTI-Records), he sets a familiar scene of inviting a friend for beers on the opening title track: “I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.’ He just laughed, said ‘I’ll be late, you know how I can be.'” The LP’s 11 interconnected tracks follow a simple plot: the narrator goes to his neighborhood dive, finds out his ex is back in town, and she eventually shows up. While its overarching narrative is riveting, the real thrill of the album comes from how Shauf finds the humanity and humor in a typical night out and the ashes of a past relationship.

His last full-length 2016’s The Party was an impressive collection of ornate and affecting songs that followed different attendees of a house party. Shauf’s attention-to-detail in his writing evoked Randy Newman and his unorthodox, flowing lyrical phrasing recalled Joni Mitchell. Though that album was his breakthrough, his undeniable songwriting talent has been long evident. Raised in Bienfait, Saskatchewan, he cut his teeth in the nearby Regina music community. His 2012 LP The Bearer of Bad News documented his already-formed musical ambition and showcased Shauf’s burgeoning voice as a narrative songwriter with songs like “Hometown Hero,” “Wendell Walker,” and “My Dear Helen” feeling like standalone, self-contained worlds. In 2018, his band Foxwarren, formed over 10 years ago with childhood friends, released a self-titled album where Pitchfork recognized how “Shauf has diligently refined his storytelling during the last decade.”

The Party earned a spot on the Polaris Music Prize 2016 shortlist and launched Shauf to an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as glowing accolades from NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and more. “That LP was a concept record and it really made me want to do a better album. I wanted to have a more cohesive story,” says Shauf. Where the concept of The Party revealed itself midway through the writing process, he knew the story he wanted to tell on The Neon Skyline from the start. “I kept coming back to the same situation of one guy going to a bar, which was basically exactly what I was doing at the time. These songs are fictional but it’s not too far off from where my life was,” Shauf explains.

For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to start each composition on guitar instead of his usual piano. He says, “I wanted to be able to sit down and play each song with just a guitar without having to rely on some sort of a clever arrangement to make it whole.” The resulting album finds its immediacy in simplicity. While the arrangements on folksy “The Moon” are unfussy and song-centered like the best Gordon Lightfoot offerings, his drive to experiment is still obvious. This is especially so on the unmoored relationship autopsy “Thirteen Hours,” which boasts an arrangement that’s both jazzy and adventurous.

Like he’s done throughout his career, Shauf wrote, performed, arranged, and produced every song on The Neon Skyline, this time at his new studio space in the west end of Toronto. Happy accidents like Shauf testing out a new spring reverb pedal led to album cuts like the woozy closer “Changer” and experimenting with tape machines forced him to simplify how he’d arrange the tracks. Over the course of a year-and-a-half, Shauf ended up with almost 50 songs all about the same night at the bar. Though paring down his massive body of work to a single album’s worth of material was a challenge for Shauf, the final tracklist is seamless and fully-formed.

As much as The Neon Skyline is about a normal night at a bar with friends and a bartender who knows exactly what you’ll order before you sit down, the album is also about the painful processing of a lost love. Lead single “Things I Do” examines the dissolution of the narrator’s past relationship. Over tense and jazz-minded instrumentation, Shauf sings, “Seems like I should have known better than to turn my head like it didn’t matter. Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?” He explains, “a lot of this record is a breakup record. I haven’t had a breakup in a long time, but a lot of relationships have had one of those nights where one person shows up somewhere when they weren’t supposed to and then picks a fight with their partner.” Elsewhere, songs like “Clove Cigarette” explore the better times, honing in on a memory that “takes me back to your summer dress.”

With any album about a lost love, the key ingredient is a generosity and kindness that can only come from a writer as empathic as Shauf. On the standout personality-filled single “Try Again,” the narrator, his friends, and his ex find themselves at a new bar. The former lovers’ reunion is awkwardly funny and even sweet, as he sings, “Somewhere between drunkenness and charity, she puts her hand on the sleeve of my coat. She says ‘I’ve missed this.’ I say “I know, I’ve missed you too.” She says, ‘I was actually talking about your coat.'” It’s a charming moment on a record filled with them. Shauf’s characters are all sympathetic here, people who share countless inside jokes, shots, and life-or-death musings on things like reincarnation when the night gets hazy.

On top of heartbreak, friendship, and the mundane moments of humanity that define his songwriting, Shauf makes music that explores how easy it is to find yourself in familiar patterns and repeat the same mistakes of your past. His characters wonder, “Did this relationship end too soon? Would going to another bar cheer my friend up?” Or in the case of the foreboding “Living Room,” where a character asks herself, “How hard is it to give a shit?” the songs on The Neon Skyline ultimately take solace in accepting that life goes on and things will be okay. Shauf says, “there’s moments on the album where the characters are thinking ‘this is the end of the world.’ But there are also moments with some clarity and perspective: Nothing is the end of the world.”

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Andy Shauf’s excellent 2016 album The Party – a wallflower indie pop concept album about the depressing aspects of drinking and socializing – brought his approach and sound to the mainstream, making fans eager for his next offering. For Toronto-via-Saskatchewan’s multi-instrumentalist baroque pop prince, it comes in the form of a self-titled debut from his hometown band, Foxwarren. Actually, this is technically Foxwarren’s sophomore album, but Shauf has been rather secretive about the group’s past work.

From a musical standpoint, Foxwarren – featuring Shauf’s ethereal, honey-toned, voice and his acoustic guitar, his childhood friends D.A. and Avery Kissick and Dallas Bryson – is quite similar to the sound of The Party. Still, Foxwarren doesn’t feel like Andy Shauf and his backing band; it feels like a creative, cohesive group.

Opening track To Be sets up the themes of the album without hesitation. Much like Shauf’s solo work, motifs of isolation, depression and other sombre notes live within the songs.

The instrumentation is eccentrically diverse and well thought out. Foxwarren seems to be a band that, at times, throws traditional song convention out the window. Everything Apart begins with a lone, steady snare drum and morphs into an almost psychedelic organ prog rock epic, then blissfully comes to a close with a standard indie guitar line. It takes tremendous production skill to make those jumps seem effortless.

The album does, however, have its fault with the song I’ll Be Alright, featuring Shauf and his acoustic. It sounds like a B-side of his solo work and falls slightly flat when compared to a song like Fall Into A Dream, a jumpy groove that makes perfect use of its indie funk guitar riff and angelic harmonies. The song brings to mind the early days of George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, highlighting a droney, psychotropic jam between the Kissick brothers, Bryson and Shauf.

I truly hope Foxwarren remains one of the main projects for Shauf. While he certainly didn’t take a back seat during Foxwarren’s process, it’s refreshing hearing him in a new, collaborative light.

Mavis Staples has never shied away from making a statement, going all the way back to the raw vocal power and unshakeable commitment of The Staple Singers’ 1965 civil rights anthem “Freedom Highway.” The records she’s been making on ANTI for the last 15 years — the overt examples being We’ll Never Turn Back and If All I Was Was Black— have been increasingly oriented toward raising consciousness and, considering Americas’s current state, we need Staples’ fiery forward momentum more than ever.

The message is clear from the get-go on We Get By, as the dirty, grinding blues riffs of Staples’ bandleader/guitarist Rick Holmstrom power opening cut “Change.” “What good is freedom if we haven’t learned to be free?” asks Staples, and the band’s gritty rumble underlines her outrage.

Jeff Tweedy produced and wrote her last album, and wasn’t above gently pushing the envelope, but Ben Harper fills the writer/producer role by just letting Mavis be Mavis on We Get By. Harper takes her down a vintage Staple Singers path with the funky “Brothers and Sisters,” and when she sings, “trouble in the land, we can’t trust that man” her intentions aren’t exactly elliptical. The classic vibe is carried forward with Holmstrom’s doomy Pops Staples-style guitar licks on “Heavy on My Mind.”

Staples’ gospel repertoire comes to the fore on the sanctified stomper “Sometime,” when she utilizes simple, gospel-style lyrics to passionately reiterate the need for change. It’s not all current affairs though — for all the biblical allusions, when Mavis sings “Nothing in the world is stronger than my love for you” in blues-rocker “Stronger,” she seems to blur the line between earthly and spiritual. And she allows a peek at her intimate side on when she dips into her sensual side for the slow-burning, love-hungry, “Chance on Me.”

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Nearly 80 upon the album’s release, Mavis is the last surviving member of the Staple Singers’ ’70s lineup. But closing out the album by calling for “One More Change,” she makes it plain that her struggle is our struggle, and it goes on.

Ryan Pollie Announces New Self-Titled Album

Inspired by the warm, inviting sounds of ’70s singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne, Carole King, and Graham Nash, Ryan Pollie is the most personal music of the seasoned songwriter’s career to date. Leading the showcase is the video for “Aim Slow,” a touching clip featuring childhood home videos and footage taken during Ryan’s recent chemotherapy. The song is the lyrical centerpiece to the album and addresses the paradoxical nature of life and death, good and evil, yin and yang. Weaved throughout the song is a story of a struggling romance, the beauty and pain of what goes into love, and “Aim Slow” proves to be successful to Pollie personally – it tells his story which is one of love and searching.

Ryan Pollie had released two albums as Los Angeles Police Department, and working on his soon-to-be-released, self-titled studio album, he prepared himself to shed the protective barrier of his old band name — to make music, simply, as himself.

And then he got cancer. Nearing the end of his twenties, Pollie had already been mulling over the big questions: spirituality, purpose, the fleeting nature of existence. “I just wrote a record about mortality and whether or not I believe in anything, and then I’m faced with the biggest challenge of my life,” he says. Open, searching, and vulnerable, Ryan Pollie takes full advantage of the language of 20th century California pop to bolster its queries on the perplexing nature of being human. Piano, guitar, and bass intertwine with banjo, pedal steel, and saxophone to support Pollie’s sugar-sweet hooks.

Bolder and crisper than the albums he’s made as Los Angeles Police Department, the new album emerges from a deeply collaborative place. As Pollie went through chemotherapy in the summer of 2018, he relied on the support of his friends to finish the album. “Mixing is where it all came together for me,” he says. “Because I was sick, it was this new challenge — ‘I have to finish this record. I have to get out of bed. I don’t feel too well, but I’m going to go down the street to the studio and I’m going to give my notes and overdub some piano.’ I finished the record while I was sick, and that was a big thing for me, being sick and being able to finish something. It made me feel strong.”

One song, “Only Child,” addresses that period directly. Ironically, it’s one of the more upbeat tracks on the record, tackling the fear and uncertainty of illness with Pollie’s characteristic levity and humor. “My hair is falling out/My parents are calling now,” he sings amid a buoyant bassline and trills of flute. Other songs work through periods of loss, confusion, and ultimately triumph. The delicate, synth-driven “Raincoat” traces the end of a relationship with careful empathy. Against a briskly strummed guitar, “Leaving California” fleshes out his relationship with his parents and his childhood home in New England, while “Getting Clean” makes use of a glowing West Coast pop palette to articulate the frustration of trying to break out of a deep rut.

Living through illness becomes just one chapter in a record that celebrates living in general, and all the difficulties and surprises that come with it. More than anything, Ryan Pollie is a testament to the power of vulnerability — to the magic that happens when you open yourself up and invite the world inside, no matter how frightening or uncertain it may be.

The Dream Syndicate Release Mind-Bending New Album 'These Times'

Los Angeles’s the Dream Syndicate is thrilled to release these times today, their second album of new music since their 2012 reunion nearly thirty years after they first influenced California’s paisely underground scene. if 2017’s how did I find myself here was a 10 pm record, all swagger and cathartic explosion, then these times is the 2 am sibling, moodier and more mercurial with the band acting as djs of their own overnight radio station as the listener drifts off into dreams and wonders the next morning if any of it was real.“when i was writing the songs for the new album I was pretty obsessed with donuts by J-Dilla,” lead singer and songwriter Steve Wynn explained. “I loved the way that he approached record making as a dj, a crate-digger, a music fan wanting to lay out all of his favorite music, twist and turn the results until he made them into his own. i was messing around with step sequencers, drum machines, loops—anything to take me out of my usual way of writing and try to feel as though i was working on a compilation rather than ‘more of the same’. you might not automatically put the Dream Syndicate and j-dilla in the same sentence, but I hear that album when I hear our new one.”.

The Dream Syndicate recorded these times once again at Montrose studios in richmond, virginia. co-produced by John Agnello (Phosphorescent, Waxahatchee, Hold Steady, Dinosaur jr.), Wynn wrote all of the song’s lyrics in the studio after the band finished tracking, so that the words would be dictated by the sound rather than the other way around. this process contributed to the urgency of the album’s title.“not content to deliver ‘the days of wine and roses 2019’ [the Dream Syndicate] have emerged with a vibrant collection of songs that ranks among the best the veteran group has recorded,” popmatters said of these times. “this is not a band competing with its past but instead carving out a bold new future.”

The Dream Syndicate has a long and storied history. but where are they right now? they’re here. right here. in these times.

The Dream Syndicate from the album ‘These Times,’ available now

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The follow-up to 2017’s “Abysmal Thoughts,” which marked the band’s first release as a solo project from front man Jonny Pierce, “Brutalism” is quite possibly the best collection of songs in the band’s ten-year career.

Listen to the latest album single “Loner”. Pierce describes the track below:

Being a bit of a loner is sort of like being gay for me. When I was a kid, I would pray to be anything but gay – and now as an adult, I treasure the fact that I’m gay. I celebrate it daily. Being gay forced me to think differently, develop my creative side, and to carry a punk attitude. It also helped me define my values and find empathy for those who are marginalized. Being a loner is very similar to that. I don’t like hanging out in groups because I feel real connection is often sacrificed in those settings. Since most people seem to disagree and love a group hangout, that means I spend a lot of time along and listen to my heart. It helps me navigate my life, but it still offers sadness that is always there. You can’t be sensitive without carrying some sadness, and that’s okay.

Like Jonny Pierce, who co-produced the album, Brutalism is a bicoastal record – written and recorded between Upstate New York and a studio in Stinson Beach. Following a painful divorce and an incredibly difficult stint living solely in Los Angeles, Pierce decided it was time to face his demons, and the making of this record is a part of that process. “I was exhausted, depleted and sabotaging myself, partying so much but in reality running away from pain. It was a downward spiral.” Pierce knew it was time to go to therapy, and begin to reckon with his depression. “It was do or die,” he says. While he focused on his mental health, the making of Brutalism became an extension of self-care for Pierce, and makes for some of his most honest and relatable music to date.

On Brutalism, a lot is different. The album is defined by growth, transformation and questions, but it doesn’t provide all the answers. It’s rooted in an emotional rawness, but its layers are soft, intricate and warm, full of exquisitely crafted pop songs that blast sunlight and high energy in the face of anxiety, solitude and crippling self-doubt.  Pierce was more open than ever, keeping his control freakery at bay while working with others to produce and record the album. He brought in Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands, Amen Dunes) to mix it.  If there was a guitar part he wanted to write but couldn’t play, he brought in a guitarist. It’s also the first Drums record with a live drummer. Delegating freed up Pierce’s time to produce a more specific vision.

The past year has been transformative for Pierce, who may a permanent rain cloud above his head but is working towards a better, healthier headspace“I don’t think I’ll ever really find myself,” he says. “I don’t think people do. I don’t think there’s a day that you wake up and you go, Now I know who I am. The best way for me to be an artist is by taking a goddamn minute, being still and listening to what it is that I want and need.” It was a real year of growth for him, but growth towards what? “I don’t really know, and that’s OK.”

Foxwarren’s backstory reads like a page torn from the manual of rock & roll authenticity, as this group of siblings and childhood friends originally formed more than a decade ago. Growing up in scattered small towns across the Canadian prairies, Andy Shauf (guitars/keys/vocals), Dallas Bryson (guitar/vocals), and brothers Darryl Kissick (bass) and Avery Kissick (drums & percussion) eventually found themselves in Regina, Saskatchewan. The initial sessions for their self-titled debut began in the Kissicks’ parents’ farmhouse while they were away on vacation. Upon their return, Foxwarren were forced to relocate and recording resumed back in Regina in a rented house where the members lived as roommates. The band’s name comes from the Kissick brothers’ family home in Foxwarren, Manitoba.

Foxwarren initially bonded over Pedro the Lion and drew influence from The Band and Paul Simon. Now a decade in to the project, Shauf reflects on their debut release: “So much time and effort went into making this album; it’s something I think we’re all really proud of. My touring and recording schedule got pretty wild over the past three or four years, so it put the Foxwarren album on the backburner. Making the album was such an enjoyable time – the collaboration and frustration of it all. All of us trying to make something better than we previously had. I’m excited to get it out into the world and have other people listen to it. We’ve been a band for 10 years or so and never properly released an album, so this is special for the four of us.” The self-titled album will be released on November 30th, 2018 via ANTI- Records.

The infectious first single “Everything Apart” is built around a robotic bass line and came together very quickly. “We wrote it late one night,” remembers Darryl, “Andy was home between tours, and the skeleton of the song came together really quickly. This one felt like a real experiment and was almost left off the album; it seemed like an outlier.”

In contrast, the second single “To Be” was one of the first songs written for the project. “We tinkered with it for ages and ended up drastically reworking it the weekend it was recorded. We knew early on that it was going to be the opening song on the record,” states Darryl.

“It was a guitar riff that I’d been playing for a few years at least, trying to figure out what to do with it,”adds Shauf. “It went through quite a few versions if I remember correctly. Foxwarren have a bad habit of never finishing vocal melodies and lyrics before we finish the music, so it made it a bit tricky and ended up being overhauled at the last minute.”

Subtle and thoughtful, it draws parallels to frontman Andy Shauf’s solo work while leaning on collaboration and looseness rather than Shauf’s meticulous arrangements. Where Shauf leaves space for orchestration, Foxwarren take time to ruminate on passages and themes. Propped up by warm driving rhythms and a familiar voice, and coloured with soft electronics and coarse guitars, it’s a record that ultimately hinges on sincerity. It captures the feeling of friends pushing each other, of a band looking inward for inspiration instead of outward for influence.

The Band : Andy Shauf / D.A. Kissick / Avery Koissick / Dallas Bryson

“Sunset Canyon” by Foxwarren from the self-titled album, available now on Anti- and Arts & Crafts