Posts Tagged ‘Bella Union Records’

Whenever the end of summer rolls around, no matter how hot it is outside, I develop a fierce hankering for folk rock: the pastoral acoustics and spacious arrangements, the heavenly-sung melodies, and most of all, its omnipresent comfiness. How to Live, the debut album from rising British band Modern Nature—which includes Jack Cooper of Ultimate Painting (RIP), Will Young of Beak>, Aaron Neveu of Woods, and Jeff Tobias of Sunwatchers, among others—not only encapsulates everything I love about the subgenre, but re-invigorates it, with occasional nods to hard rock (“Nature”), experimental electronica (“Peradam”), and even kraut (“Footsteps”).

Saxophone and cello co-mingle with motoriks, field recordings, and stoner fuzz, as limber grooves flutter about the mix, aloft like the pigeons on the cover art. It might be hot as hell outside, but hey — it’s never too early for some sweater-weather listening.

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The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies – but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric.

The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” – such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

On Modern Nature’s debut album, “How to Live”, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents. Throughout this continuous work, where no song ever really seems to end, there’s an indelible feeling of constant forward motion. It’s as if the band is laying down a railway and riding it simultaneously, and you can hear all kinds of landscapes passing by.

The endless feel of c was inspired by Cooper’s experience making his 2017 solo album Sandgrown. It was the first time he made a record with a defined theme – a suite of songs about his hometown of Blackpool – and imposing a narrative framework turned out to be refreshingly liberating. “When I started thinking about a new project,” he recalls, “going back to making an album of unconnected songs seemed as strange as making a movie with completely unconnected scenes.”

As he began writing songs, Cooper was also tuning to the vibes of Earth Loop, an instrumental solo album by BEAK>’s Will Young (under the name Moon Gangs). For a long time, Cooper had hoped to work more with Young, who almost joined his first band, Mazes, and was in the touring version of his next group, Ultimate Painting. So he decided now was finally the time, as he puts it, “to make good on hundreds of late night ‘we should really do music together’ conversations.”

“Over the next few weeks I started sending Will songs, and we began meeting up, working on ideas and formulating the bigger picture as it were,” Cooper recalls. “Approaching the album as a film or play made complete sense, and from that came the idea to have a very defined narrative, reoccurring themes and chord progressions, field recordings and a set palette of instruments and sounds. Each song came with pages and pages of notes, musical references, films, books, places, words and feelings.”

Cooper is hesitant to explain too much about How To Live’s story, preferring to let the listener to find his or her own narrative to fit what they hear. But he can offer some guideposts. “Broadly speaking, the album moves from an urban environment at the beginning to an escape at the end…whether that’s solitude or acceptance or isolation,” he says. “At the beginning the songs reflect a different type of isolation, the sort of isolation or disassociation one can only feel in a very crowded, hectic environment.”

The vibrations of these environments come across immediately on How To Live. The album’s first line is “There’s a hum in the street,” and the rest of the hypnotic “Footsteps” masterfully paints a picture: “the click repeats, repeats, repeats”….”Isolation, repetition, spark burst fission”…”turns loops to the point in which they meet.”

Throughout the remainder of the record, ideas recur and sounds return, often forming new shapes. A careful guitar pattern sprouts into the halting “Seance”, which ends with that same guitar pattern flipped into reverse. The beatific “Peradam” revels in the cycles of nature, as Cooper asks to be led “out of spirit worlds, let it whirl, out and in, swirling like fireflies. The pulsing “Nature” takes a darker view of our current environment, calling it “the great failure” and concluding with the imperative to “lock them up and don’t forgive them.”

The richness of the ideas in these songs is matched by the resonance of the music. Cooper and Young’s organic compositions gain skin and muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Nevue (of compatriot outfit Woods), and the expressive saxophone of Jeff Tobias, from Brooklyn jazz/rock juggernaut Sunwatchers. Each track on How to Live evolved as these creative forces joined the group, and it shows. The entirety of How To Live courses with both precision and vitality. The band is closely tuned to the core of each piece, but also unafraid to throw themselves into every moment.

The care that went into How To Live is clear in album notes, which map out impressionistic ideas behind each step – one block describes the song “Nightmare” as “the calm after the storm, nihilism, acceptance!! HOW TO LIVE??” – and include a list of the music and film that inspire Modern Nature. You can hear traces of those influences throughout the album – the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs, the searching melodies of Robert Wyatt, the atmospheric waves of Harmonia.

But ultimately, the music on How to Live speaks for itself. It’s a work of surprising layers and limitless depths, impressing more strongly with each listen. Modern Nature may have been inspired by the line between urban and rural, but with How To Live they’ve gone a step further, and created their own complete world.

the debut album by Modern Nature‘How To Live’

Our new song and video, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” has arrived! Dedicated to trans people everywhere, it is a song very dear to my heart, the one ballad on our forthcoming record “Twelve Nudes” (due out august 30th preorder it now here https://www.ezrafurman.com/pre-order jabber jabber clang clang)

This video was a joy to make. Directed by Alix Spence, choreography by Sarah Prinz, and dancing by the delightful Brandon Mathis (red) and Jobel Medina (blue), and all kinda of other help from many other people. Everyone involved is so good at what they do. I think this might be my favorite music video we’ve ever made. It comes out tomorrow. “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend,” a song of transgender longing, track 7 on Twelve Nudes which by the way comes out August 30 and you can preorder it there’s a link in our Instagram bio. Thanks a million everyone who worked on this vid with me. It was such a fun and oddly empowering process. Many blessings.

I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ is taken from the album ‘Twelve Nudes’ by Ezra Furman, released 30th August 2019 via Bella Union Records.

As any doo-wop-type song should, this one has a B-side, also out today: it’s called “Evening Prayer”
and it’s available on all the streaming services  Also from “Twelve Nudes,” it is perhaps even dearer to my heart. It’s a furiously spiritual song calling for us to throw our whole souls into the fight for economic and climate justice.

‘Evening Prayer’ is also taken from the album ‘Twelve Nudes’ by Ezra Furman, released 30th August 2019 via Bella Union Records.

Thank you all for your support.
-Ezra

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Modern Nature, the new band from Jack Cooper (Ultimate Painting, Mazes) and Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs), will release their debut album later hits later this month, and they’ve just shared the video for the gently motoroik new single “Footsteps.” Directed by Jake McGowan, the video follows Jack as the camera flips over and over, changing scenes along the way. “One of the threads through the album is a journey from the chaos of the city to the sanctuary of the country, so we wanted to condense that idea down over the course of ‘Footsteps’ with the final scene being a baptism… washing everything away,” says Jack. “There were a few films that felt very present when writing the album, so there’s some references to Mike Leigh’s Naked, Withnail And I, Tales From A Hard City, Emily Lloyd in Wish You Were Here and The Rise And Fall Of Reginald Perrin.”

Taken from the new album ‘How To Live’ released on 23rd August via Bella Union Records

The Soft Cavalry share ‘Never Be Without You’ video

With the release of their self-titled debut album just over a week away (via Bella Union), The Soft Cavalry (the husband/wife duo of Steve Clarke and Rachel Goswell of Slowdive) have today shared a video for new single “Never Be Without You”, animated by James Bates.

Of the video Clarke comments: “I can’t quite remember how the idea for this one started but as it developed I could sense it was going to turn into something of a love song. I don’t really like writing love songs. I’ll leave that to the masters and the true romantics. All relationships are different and I therefore certainly don’t feel qualified to make blanket statements on the subject.The lyric had to be honest. About the importance of relationships as well as the struggles and responsibilities that are often created by other things in your lives. Rachel’s son Jesse downloaded an app (as he often does) on my phone. A game called Limbo. It’s pretty dark and depicts a little character making his way through a forest, coming up against all kinds of traps and weird creatures. This kind of kick started the idea for the video that James Bates has so brilliantly executed. We didn’t want the creatures to be too scary – hint at the idea of them as something to be concerned about… but equally playful in design.James drew every one of these characters by hand before animating them. A true labour of love.”

The self titled album from The Soft Cavalry is due 5th July on Bella Union Records

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The Soft Cavalry are a new duo featuring Rachel Goswell of legendary ’90s shoegazers Slowdive alongside her husband Steve Clarke. They are releasing their self-titled debut album on July 5th via Bella Union Records. This week they shared another song from the album, “Bulletproof,” via a video for the track. The striking black & white video features the band performing the song via sign language.

Goswell had this to say about the video in a press release: “For a long time now I have wanted to do a video that incorporates BSL (British Sign Language) due to my son being Profoundly Deaf with no hearing. He also has additional needs with CHARGE Syndrome that brings many added complications. I live within two worlds both Hearing and Deaf; and have learned a lot in the last nine years about the many barriers Deaf people can face in our society. One of the main points I was taught very quickly is how music is accessible to Deaf people. Of course music can be felt through vibration but visually I feel so much more could be done to enhance the experience. We made this video with the support of Sign Up BSL to translate ‘Bulletproof’ so that the song flows properly in BSL. Sometimes with signing videos – they can be a literal translation of the words (Sign Supported English) which will make little sense to the Deaf viewer. Our hope is that we have achieved this and also that one day as my son gets older and develops his language skills he will be able to understand this song.”

Previously they shared its first single, “Dive,” Then they have shared a video for “Dive.” Hand Held Cine Club directed the video, which fittingly featured a man contemplating taking a high dive into a public swimming pool.

Of the theme of the album, Clarke says: “It’s recovery versus new doubt. I’m there, in the middle. The word that kept coming back to me was ‘resilience.’ With the right mentality and people around you, especially family, we get through, and find a level of hope.”

Clarke’s brother Michael Clarke produced the album, which also features keyboardist Jesse Chandler (Mercury Rev, Midlake), guitarist Tom Livermore, and drummer Stuart Wilkinson.

Slowdive released a new album, a self-titled affair and their first full-length in 22 years, in 2017 via Dead Oceans.

Clarke has been a musician since the late ’90s, playing bass and singing backup vocals with various bands live and in the studio. But The Soft Cavalry is the first album he’s been in creative control of. He’s also been a tour manager, which is how he met Goswell, managing one of Slowdive’s reunion tours in 2014. He had been divorced since 2011 when he met her.

In a press release Clarke sets the scene for when he first met Goswell: “I was hung-over in the back of my van trying to work out how I was going to fit all the band’s gear into this confined space whilst I still had all of mine from the show that I’d played in London the night before. The second of two sold-out shows at Hammersmith Apollo with David Brent!”

A year later, Clarke and Goswell were living together. They got married in 2018. In the press release Clarke says that Goswell inspired him to focus more on his own music.

“I’d always had ideas but never felt that anything I had to say was worthy of anyone’s attention, let alone my own,” he says. “I wish that I could have done this 15 years ago but, in reality, I simply couldn’t have. But I’m not one to overly wallow. I’d rather plough the various levels of confusion into songs.”.

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The perpetually underrated indie-rock mainstay Ezra Furman has shared the lead single from his latest album release“Twelve Nudes”, due out August. 30th. It’s accompanied by a colorfully macabre music video that visualizes the song’s panic attack-driven narrative, as Furman dances, falls and smokes through the anxiety.

As is typically the case with Furman’s songwriting, “Calm Down” (aka “I Should Not Be Alone”) just shreds. Furman has always been able to bridge this gap between pop-rock and garage meltdowns with a particular punk-rock sensibility; the immediately laid-back and groovy bass line that kicks the song off paves the way for an absolute ripper of a bridge that finds Furman yelling at the listener to calm down.

It’s almost impossible to calm down while listening to the song, though—this thing rocks. The video, animated by frequent Furman collaborator Beth Jeans Houghton, matches the breakneck pace of the track, using vibrant colors to underscore the cognitive dissonance between feeling pretty on the outside and like you’re on the verge of a meltdown on the inside. There’s dancing eyeballs, demon babies, fornicating dogs and all sorts of other psychedelic imagery. “Calm Down” is over way sooner that you’ll want it to be,

That catchy mentality seems to pervade the rest of Twelve Nudes, which Furman says will be among his punkiest, most political songwriting. Furman says of its lead single in a statement:

Desperate times make for desperate songs. I wrote this in the summer of 2018, a terrible time. It’s the sound of me struggling to admit that I’m not okay with the current state of human civilization, in which bad men crush us into submission. Once you admit how bad it feels to live in a broken society, you can start to resist it, and imagine a better one.

Twelve Nudes is inspired in equal parts by the legendary punk-rocker Jay Reatard and the poet/essayist Anne Carson, whose work inspired the album’s title. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes,’” Furman says. “So, my album is called Twelve Nudes.”

The record is produced by John Congleton, whose recent work with Sharon Van Etten rather impressed. Furman will be backed by Sam Durkes, Jorgen Jorgensen and Ben Joseph on this record.

Official music video for ‘Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone’ by Ezra Furman. Taken from his forthcoming album ‘Twelve Nudes’ out 30th August via Bella Union Records.

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“IVRY” is a new song with lyrics written by Patti Smith and inspired by Antonin Artaud’s time in the mental hospital in Ivry ,The song is part of our new album with Patti Smith ‘The Peyote Dance’, to be released by Bella Union on May 31st.

Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith THE PEYOTE DANCE ,The sound of walking in a Mexican canyon transforms into the distinct beat of the heart, distant chants, sticks, stones, and the whistle of blowing wind: Featuring Patti Smith, and produced in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum and Nicolas Becker a soundtrack of elements that invites us to explore a sacred space. The album takes as its starting point Antonin Artaud’s book ‘The Peyote Dance’, a work inspired by his revelatory experiences with the Rarámuri in 1936, 

Featuring original footage by Stephan Crasneanscki, Lelio Moehr and Sylvie Marchand. Courtesy, Association Temps Réel, Collectif Gigacircus, France (www.gigacircus.net/fr/) Lyrics by Patti Smith, copyright / © (2019) (Patti Smith) All music produced by Soundwalk Collective in Mexico City and NYC in collaboration with Leonardo Heiblum and Nicolas Becker with original instruments from the Rarámuri Indians of the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico Voice: Patti Smith Traditional Guitars: Joel Cruz Castellanos Traditional Drums, Chapareke Snare, Chihuahua Bells: Leonardo Heiblum Foley: Nicolas Becker Recorded at Audioflot Studios in Mexico City and Hobo Sound in New Jersey

Introducing Penelope Isles

Penelope Isles are a Brighton-based indie rock quartet centered across the songwriting chemistry of siblings Jack and Lily Wolter. After signing to Bella Union Records and impressing at this years SXSW with their searing reside present, they’re on the point of put out their debut album, “Till The Tide Creeps In”, later this summer.

Bella Union are thrilled to introduce new signings Penelope Isles, Between its chiming dream-pop, fuzz-noise waves, indie-psych currents and lustrous melodies, the album is a transporting show of expansive DIY vision, its elemental metaphors a fertile backdrop for the band’s innate inner chemistry and acute grasp of contrast.

Crisp and woozy, blissful and biting, it’s also an album powerful enough to sweep you away live. 

We’ve already heard two songs thus far, the fuzzily psych-rocking lead single “Chlorine” and a reside recording of the layered nine-minute available Live At Bella Studios opus “Gnarbone.”

“Chlorine” “It’s a song we often open our shows with, so it felt right to have it as the first single off the record,” say Penelope Isles. Bright and brisk, wide-eyed and wistful, ‘Chlorine’ is a dreamy introduction to the instinctive charms and alt-rock chops of the Isle of Man-via-Brighton quartet, ‘Chlorine’ harbours a tale of what the band call “a heart-breaking family divide”. Its potency heightened by the juxtaposition between the band’s fiery lead-guitar sorcery and sailing three-part harmonies, it’s a song of tremendous melodic calm and emotional rip tides, inviting and immersive.

Self-produced by Jack and recorded in Brighton’s Bella Studios, ‘Chlorine’ is a hypnotic teaser for Penelope Isles’ debut LP, And now they’re sharing one other new monitor, a dreamy old-school rock ‘n’ roll sway known as “Round”

“It’s a love music — a set of moments and ideas of what it’s wish to be in love,” Jack Wolter explains. “All the gorgeous moments and all of the troublesome occasions too. Going spherical full circle. The verses are like the gorgeous occasions that we’ll at all times keep in mind the place the refrain is the reality of the way it’s not at all times that simple.”

‘Round’ is taken from the debut album by Penelope Isles.

Hannah Cohen will release her third album “Welcome Home” on 26th April via Bella Union Records.

“It was the beginning of September and NYC was in the midst of a big heat wave.” Cohen says of the track. “I was staying with my partner at the time and had locked myself in the bathroom to work on this song. It was very early in the morning, the air conditioner was buzzing away. At the time we were searching for our first apartment together, and had seen about 27 apartments in person. All were gross or out of our price range. It was definitely a catalyst for wanting to move out of the city – and it all came rushing at me. I really needed a change. Locked in a boiling hot bathroom, playing my nylon-string guitar, I realized that this is it… my life is crazy, it’s time to make a big move.”

Hannah Cohen has arrived home. From the title of her new album to the depth and beauty of the music, the Woodstock, NY-based singer-songwriter’s third album, “Welcome Home”, displays a new level of confidence and comfort with the many creative tools at her disposal. Cohen’s remarkably evocative voice is surrounded by dreamy, swooning incantations, from the rippling ‘This Is Your Life’ and the slow-burning, forthright statement of ‘All I Want,’ to the soul swagger of ‘Get in Line’ and dramatic vocal leaps of ‘Wasting My Time.’

With Welcome Home, “I don’t feel I have to cover up anything, or not be able to share,” Cohen says. “There’s less to interpret, I’m more visible. And as to reflecting on the past when things didn’t go well, I’ve left that behind. It was all worth it, to make my way to this point.”

Produced by Cohen’s partner Sam Owens, the producer/writer who performs as Sam Evian, the artist began developing the material that became Welcome Home in 2017. Taking her time with the songs, she wrapped herself in the fulfilling quiet of a new home, and a new creative partnership that supported finding a clarity in her writing and vocals. Many of the songs were written on an old, nylon-string guitar painted with Hawaiian scenes of beaches and palm trees (which can be heard on ‘This Is Your Life’), that, no matter the final arrangement, gives the songs a lighter touch, a warming glow that suffuses the whole album. Listeners may find echoes of folk and R&B, radiating with vocal-powered pop production, electronic accents, and bursts of pulsing guitar/bass/drums energy. Irresistible echoes of soul enchanters such as Carrie Cleveland (an early touchstone for Cohen and Evian), Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and their friend and sometime collaborator Nick Hakim blend with the reflective shadings of singer/writer forebears such as Carole King and Harry Nilsson.

Welcome Home is almost brutally honest in its self-examination, as Cohen couches home truths in velvet-lush settings. As she explains, “A lot of the album is about checking in with reality and taking the wheel, being honest with myself and my intentions. Being transparent as much as possible. They’re about exploring why I’m here. And the songs question love – if it’s real or something else, finding love that’s healthy, mature and supportive.”

All of Cohen’s new material was crafted in Brooklyn except ‘Big House,’ which was written in an isolated stone farmhouse in upstate New York where they sometimes recorded, preserving the intimacy at the core of Welcome Home. The album was mostly tracked with a live rhythm section: bassist Brian Betancourt (from Evian’s live band) and drummer Vishal Nayak (Nick Hakim). Says Cohen, “We wanted to capture the essence of the song, quickly, and not toil over details for two years.”

That straightforward immediacy marked an important change in Cohen’s relationship with her music and the recording process. After growing up around professional musicians, she moved to New York from the Bay Area at 17, an intrepid adventurer who was drawn to New York’s singer-songwriter world. “New York became my world and my community, and formed me as a person, though I have never felt settled here until the last two years.” Her first two albums, Child Bride and Pleasure Boy, document the sound of a young artist finding her feet on a stage populated by established performers, a very public evolution toward the lived-in experience and command of Welcome Home. The desire to live on her own terms has recently led her to the less-crowded vistas of Woodstock, NY, a no-less iconic musical destination.

‘Old Bruiser’ documents that feeling of escape, specifically a west coast road trip (“Made it back to the city by daylight and we turned to each other as if to ask why /did we make something special just to go and leave it all behind?”). ‘Build Me Up’ also reflects Cohen’s desire to move: “Living in the city has such extreme effects on your body, your nervous system, the constant grind, living on top of people and never really having any true personal space. I am naturally a very sensitive person, I feel a lot of energy and people are really intense in NYC. I have been inspired by that energy but after fifteen years it became exhausting trying to keep up with the grind and hustle. I wanted a change of scenery and a new pace. It was hard to let go after putting so much time and work into building my life and community, and in a way I went from one extreme to another. But I felt I needed to make a big move to break free from all the noise. Welcome Home chronicles my last year in New York City before moving on. Onward and upwards.”

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releases April 26, 2019