Posts Tagged ‘Belly’

Star-Belly

With stints in Throwing Muses and The Breeders behind her, Tanya Donelly was more than ready to front her own alternative rock band, and Belly captured the spotlight even more firmly than those previous groups. Filled out by three musical cohorts from Donelly’s Rhode Island home base, Belly made an impressive debut with “STAR” the 1993 Sire set included a Modern Rock chart-topper in “Feed The Tree,” another MTV favorite in “Gepetto,” and brought the quartet two Grammy nominations. These 15 originals give indie dream pop plenty of appealing hooks – even if the album’s sweet-sounding vocals sometimes sing about rather strange stuff. Today we’ll wish upon a Star in honor of Tanya Donelly’s birthday.

Star was borne out of artistic restlessness, Donelly having blossomed as a songwriter in her first band, Throwing Muses, by the sessions for their fourth album The Real Ramona, becoming an equal to the band’s heretofore leader, and Donelly’s stepsister, Kristin Hersh.  Donelly came to the sessions with more than her requisite pair of songs, quickly realising elsewhere would be a better fit for the bulk of them rather than the latest Muses’ album.  Initially, that home was ostensibly The Breeders’ sophomore release:

“The songs I brought to The Real Ramona were the two that ended up on there (“Not Too Soon” and “Honeychain”), “Full Moon, Empty Heart,” “Slow Dog,” and “Gepetto” (all songs that would appear on Star).  This was around the time [the early quartet lineup of Throwing Muses] had started to dissolve so I thought, I’ll have the two on there and save the rest for The Breeders.  They had several home options for about six months there.”

In the time off between Throwing Muses albums at the turn of the 1990s, Donelly and Pixies guitarist Kim Deal collaborated on a new project, The Breeders, who released their debut Pod in 1990 largely consisting of Deal’s songs with the plan of the follow up featuring largely Donelly’s songs.  As luck would have it, that second Breeders album would become Belly’s first.

“Everything that is on Star was intended for the next Breeders album.  All the old reels I have in my basement of the demos are labeled The Breeders.  The Pixies had announced a year long, worldwide tour and Kim signed on for that.  I sort of got antsy, had already left the Muses and so I thought, I’m taking my songs and making my own band!”

In retrospect, with such a flurry of activity occurring in such a compact timeframe, the aesthetic groundwork for Star appears to have been laid in Donelly’s final pair of Muses tracks; the off-kilter, chipper pop of “Not To Soon” and the harrowing dreamlike beauty of “Honeychain” portending the two ends of Star’s spectrum.  Indeed, Donelly views the latter as forming “the bridge between my Muses and my Belly life.”

Star’s appeal is clear; its tone is impeccably balanced between oblique jangle-pop and moody dream-pop, tracks that individually would appear at odds with each other benefitting by this balance to achieve an unwitting congruity.

That said, with the exception of REM’s Automatic For The People, the upper echelon of the UK albums chart in and around February 1993 was continuously peppered with compilations of legacy pop acts with nary a blink at rising alternative acts until Suede’s debut would chart a couple months later, so how and why Star?  .

Indeed, few albums can as deftly move from the Eastern European flavours of “Angel” to “Gepetto”s jangly bounce, veering over to “White Belly”s gorgeous murk and back around to the countrified folk of “Untogether”.

While truthfully a rather sprawling album at 15 tracks over 51 minutes, Star plays small owing to its constant shift in tone reinvigorating the listener track to track.  “Dusted”s razor wire riff belongs chiseled on a Rushmore of indie rock hooks while there is nary a chorus as exuberant in the annals of indie rock as “Slow Dog”.

It’s Donelly’s unsuspecting vocal prowess that threads Star together as an album rather than a collection of songs.  Wafting vaporously into view on opener, “Someone To Die For”, she proceeds, throughout the album, to emit just enough grit and force to stay atop her band’s thunderous patches while reining back at precisely the opportune respite points.

Release date 25th January 1993

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The Swan Song Series is a collection of songs in which Tanya Donelly — grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter and founding member of three of the most influential and successful bands of the post-punk era (Breeders, Throwing Muses, Belly) — collaborated with friends, musicians and authors and explored an impressive range that wasn’t always captured on previous albums. This exclusive collection includes 31 tracks on an impressive 3 album set.

Tanya Donelly wows with this career-defining collection. Donelly — the grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter + founding member of the Breeders, Throwing Muses, and Belly — collaborated with friends, musicians and authors Rick Moody, Robyn Hitchcock, John Wesley Harding, Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom), Tom Gorman and Gail Greenwood (Belly), Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields) and others. This exclusive collection includes 31 songs across three albums.

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Tanya Donelly is a singer-songwriter and founding member of three of the most successful bands of the post-punk era.
At the age of 16, she and stepsister Kristin Hersh formed Throwing Muses, which became the first American band ever signed to the influential British label 4AD. Not only did the Muses‘ dreamy, swirling guitar sound prove highly influential on many of the alternative acts to emerge in their wake, but they also made any number of unprecedented advances into the male-dominated world of underground rock.

Donelly later sidelined with Pixies bassist Kim Deal to form the Breeders, appearing on the debut LP, Pod. She later exited both the Breeders and Throwing Muses to form her own band, Belly.
After issuing a pair of well-received EPs, Belly released their full-length debut, Star — a superb collection of luminous, fairy tale-like guitar pop songs — and for the first time in her career, Donelly earned commercial success commensurate to her usual critical accolades.

Not only did the record go gold on the strength of the hit single ‘Feed the Tree’ but the band even garnered a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Donelly would eventually disband Belly to raise her two daughters.

*Special ACLU Benefit Bundle* A portion of all sales from this special bundle will be donated to the ACLU. The bundle includes the Swan Song Series on Vinyl + Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith on CD, featuring Tanya covering “Between The Bars.”

CAR SEAT HEADREST – TEENS OF DENIAL
‘Teens of Denial’ is the thirteenth album in Car Seat Headrest’s (aka 23-year-old Will Toledo) oeuvre, second on Matador, and first to be recorded in a proper studio with a full band and producer (Steve Fisk). On Denial, Toledo moves from bedroom pop to something approaching classic-rock grandeur and huge (if detailed and personal) narrative ambitions, with nods to the Cars, Pavement, Jonathan Richman, Wire, and William Onyeabor. By turns tender and caustic, empathetic and solipsistic, literary and vernacular, profound and profane, self-loathing and self-aggrandizing, he conjures a specifically 21st century mindset, a product of information overload, the loneliness it can foster, and the escape music can provide. At the heart of the album sits the 11:32 ‘Ballad of the Costa Concordia,’ which has more musical ideas than most whole albums (and at that length, it uses them all). Horns, keyboards, and elegant instrumental interludes set off art-garage moments; vivid vocal harmonies follow punk frenzy. The selfish captain of the capsized cruise liner in the Mediterranean in 2013 becomes a metaphor for struggles of the individual in society, as experienced by one hungover young man on the verge of adulthood.
2LP – Double Vinyl with Download.

ARIEL PINK / R STEVIE MOORE – KU KLUX GLAM

Psych-pop masterpiece from two of the best to ever do it. Los Angeles native and weirdo-pop enthusiast Ariel Pink joins forces with lo-fi pop pioneer R. Stevie Moore in a crazy freak-out extravaganza. Back in 2012, two leaders of the modern psych scene colluded together in making a 60+ track album. Here, we have the definitive collection of songs from ‘Ku Klux Glam’. Re-mastered and compiled by R. Stevie Moore, this is a presentation of this record in it’s clearest form.

BELLY –  STAR

The 1993 classic album reissued on limited Gatefold Double White Marbled vinyl with CD Version. Following her inestimable contributions as a founding member of both Throwing Muses and The Breeders, Tanya Donelly took centre stage to form Belly with brothers Tom and Chris Gorman on guitars and drums respectively and Fred Abong on bass. Around the release of their debut album ‘Star’ in 1993, Fred left the band and was replaced by Gail Greenwood. Among a wave of essential new American guitar acts in the early-90s, it was Belly’s spikey dreampop that helped set them apart. Catching fire with singles ‘Feed The Tree’ and ‘Gepetto’, ‘Star’ saw them grab their moment and catapulted them in to the mainstream, selling almost two million copies worldwide and earning them two Grammy nominations. A second album followed in 1995, ‘King’, before they called it quits a year later. Coming with updated artwork from Chris Gorman and package design from Chris Bigg, the new version is now spread across two LPs, pressed on white marbled vinyl and presented in a gatefold sleeve. It also includes a bonus CD of the album.

BEAR’S DEN –  RED EARTH AND POURING RAIN

‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales with the band’s long term producer Ian Grimble, in sessions following a six week European and UK tour that had culminated in an ecstatically received sold-out show at The Roundhouse last October. Inspired by – among other things – the paintings of Edward Hopper, the novels of Raymond Carver and film director Robert Altman’s Short Cuts – ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ is both erudite and intensely personal, defying trends and easy labelling. Musically, it also sees a startling progression. Because while the band’s folk roots are still evident, they now come cloaked in the lush alchemy of ’70’s and ’80’s FM rock: Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and in particular, the nocturnal ambience of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’. More contemporary influence, meanwhile, comes from artists including The National and Sufjan Stevens. Brutally honest, brilliantly realised and spiritually uplifting, ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’ is a masterful album from a band confident enough leave their past in the rear view mirror.
CD – Digi sleeve on reverse board.
LP – Reverse board standard sleeve with printed inner.

THE CULT OF DOM KELLER – GOODBYE TO THE LIGHT

The Cult Of Dom Keller – a four-piece from the Midlands – make the kind of experimental goth- tinged psych that, has thus far, eluded 2016. Fans of Swans and The Icarus Line will find plenty to entertain them here – this is a band unafraid to take risks. The thing that first impresses on hearing The Cult Of Dom Keller is the sheer scale of their intentions. Speaking of first single ‘Broken Arm Of God,’ the band said “we wanted it to sound like a volcano giving birth to an atomic bomb. It has bass and baritone guitar that killed 3 guitar amps in one afternoon, then a studio preamp. It’s probably costing us a fortune in damages and repairs. The result was exactly what we wanted though” This band can make a lot of noise. To focus on that however would be to negate what makes this band truly beguiling: nuance. Take ‘Deepest Pit Of Emptiness’ for example – its prog leanings combined with a decidedly English vocal delivery are as distinctive and profound as anything released this year. The Cult Of Dom Keller have pushed themselves sonically on this album, it’s by far their most experimental release to date. It’s also an album rooted in darkness. “The new album deals with the theme of uncertainty, and put more simply – the end.” That theme resonates throughout the entire album. Fans of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will be enamoured, but play to it a Sisters Of Mercy fan and watch their reaction: there is a new contender for the throne.
LP – Limited Coloured vinyl album.

JOSIENNE CLARKE AND BEN WALKER – THROUGH THE CLOUDS

British duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have risen to star status lately on the English acoustic scene, earning last year’s Best Duo award from the BBC Folk Awards and across-the- board praise for two self-released albums, most recently ‘Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour’, with its lush single ‘Silverline’. Clarke and Walker release a new EP, ‘Through The Clouds,’ via Rough Trade, featuring a handful of the best tracks from their small catalogue, rearranged anew. ‘Through The Clouds’ is meant as an introduction to the duo; in addition to ‘Silverline’ it features a new, stripped-down version of ‘Done’ (ballads on opposite sides of love and loneliness), an alternate mix of the spooky Shirley Collins cover ‘Hares On The Mountain’ and the original album version of ‘The Tangled Tree’, a brilliant showcase of Clarke’s vocal range and expression. While The Guardian anointed them “chamber folk” (they certainly cut their teeth in that thriving part of the UK music scene), Clarke is an unusually compelling singer, sharing more in common with Sandy Denny, Gillian Welch, or even Nina Nastasia and Laura Marling, than your usual staid folk artist. Walker is a prodigiously talented guitarist and arranger and the two of them are engaging and often funny in a live setting where, in addition to their own songs, they choose covers brilliantly, from Denny, to Jackson C Frank, to Nina Simone, to death-obsessed traditional ballads. Clarke and Walker will be recording their Rough Trade debut album for an Autumn 2016 release, with an eye toward bringing bigger, more modern arrangements and production to their beautifully-wrought songs and Clarke’s tremendous voice.

AGNES OBEL  –  CITIZEN OF GLASS

‘Citizen Of Glass’ is the new album from Agnes Obel, released on Play It Again Sam. ‘Citizen Of Glass’ is the follow-up to Obel’s UK breakthrough album ‘Aventine’ and was recorded, produced and mixed by Obel at Aventine-Neukolln and BrandNewMusic-Studios in Berlin.
CD – With lyric booklet
LP – 180 Gram black vinyl LP with download code and housed in a Gatefold sleeve.

THE AMAZING  –  AMBULANCE

‘Ambulance’ sees The Amazing continue their journey to a place where music is free of restrictions. Despite reflecting Chris Gunrup’s often bleak worldview, the music is expansive and beautiful, marked by playing that’s as much free jazz as rock – pure music without any showiness. The songs unfold slowly, without a traditional verse / chorus structure, spinning gauzy webs of shimmering mystery with their own inimitable dynamic of sinuous, swirling guitars; rich, ambient basslines; crisp percussion and restrained, church-like, keyboard textures. The stately tempos suggest a room full of shadows desperately reaching out for intimacy but never quite making the connection. The songs brim over with tension and more implied release than actual relief. Gunrup is known for his reluctance to talk about his process and prefers to let the music speak for itself and if 2015’s ‘Picture You’ was brighter, exploding outward to explore the limits of experience, ‘Ambulance’ is much more intimate. The mix denser and darker, the instruments pressing closer, crowding each other, imploding inward to reconnoitre the uncharted distances that exist between us, even in life’s most intimate moments. Sharing members with Sweden’s psych forefathers Dungen, the album delves into the hidden recesses of the heart, finding inner space to be just as expansive as the midnight sky. It was recorded in just a few days in one tiny room at Stockhom’s Buller and Bang studio.
LP – With Download.

THE FIREWORKS  –  BLACK AND BLUE EP

Limited to 300 Copies. Shelflife is proud to bring you the Limited Blue vinyl 10″ ‘Black and Blue EP’, the first release by London and Brighton-based group The Fireworks since their debut LP, 2015’s ‘Switch Me On’. Following a handful of fantastic 7″ singles and a self-titled EP, the quartet exceeded already high expectations on their debut album. ‘Switch Me On’s 13 tracks soar by in a blur of warm, fuzzed-out feedback, infectious hooks and pure unadulterated energy.  Fans old and new of The Fireworks will not be let down by their new ‘Black and Blue EP’. The release may only be four tracks long, but you’ll be needing to take a breather after it’s done. These songs mark the most rocking we’ve heard The Fireworks thus far, while still keeping the catchy melodies and pop sensibility we’ve come to expect from them. The driving opener ‘All the Time’ is an instant favourite, and the dynamic track tells listeners right off the bat that this is no mellow, passive listen. ‘The Ghost Of You‘ features jangly guitar work and fantastic dual vocals from Matthew Rimell and Emma Hall, making the track a shimmering pop gem. Of course, the distortion that smattered ‘Switch Me On’ is still present, and tracks like ‘Bury Me’ will have you jumping around in a fit of uncontrollable vigor (perhaps why they chose to name this the ‘Black and Blue EP’). The band touches down on all bases on this new release, making it an essential listen whether or not you’ve been a fan in the past. For fans of: Razorcuts, Buzzcocks, Girls At Our Best!, Revolving Paint Dream, The Shop Assistants, Meat Whiplash, Bubblegum Splash. Vinyl with Download.
Image of Faun Fables - Born Of The Sun

Faun Fables are back with ‘Born Of The Sun’. Since 1998, Faun Fables has been the musical world of Dawn McCarthy, visited in collaboration with her partner Nils Frykdhal. In early times, their wild spirit roamed the streets and hills of the SF / Oakland community while, pilgrim-like, wandering the world and issuing two albums of deeply-rooted, swirlingly other folk music in 1999 and 2001. With the release of ‘Family Album’ in 2004, Drag City got involved and ‘The Transit Rider’ (2006), ‘A Table Forgotten’ (2008) and ‘Light Of A Vaster Dark’ (2010) followed. Now, suddenly, it’s 2016. Six years have passed since ‘Light Of A Vaster Dark’ appeared. Life has happened, in the form of three children born to Dawn and Nils.

Anyone who has spent time in the thrall of Faun Fables’ bewitching sound knows that this was the dream; beyond Dawn’s passion for song, dance, theatre and all manner of folklore (plus a regular regimen of yodelling), the mythic shadows of home and hearth, friends and family, have infused all of their expressions. Now, raising the family that was once only dreamed about makes for an earthier and more expansive Faun Fables album, informed by the slow and sudden progress of time that occurs when we are with the very young.

‘Born Of The Sun’ is in itself another birthing, the songs gestating over several years, then recorded mostly in concentrated periods over the past two winters. On previous albums, the passions of Faun Fables seemed to be laid firmly on the stones of the Old World. The minstrels who cavorted across the cover of ‘Mother Twilight’ seemed out of another, hard-to-place time. ‘Born Of The Sun’ continues on in this exalted tradition but also reflects the rhythms of family living, where each day is a new and irreversible step forward through the necessarily scorched earth of raising children.

Where ‘Family Album’ and ‘A Table Forgotten’ looked yearningly through time at the spiritual natures of communal living, ‘Born Of The Sun’ is forged in the crucible of now and, as such, has a feeling apart from the previous days of Faun Fables.

Dawn and Nils and the kids (whose vocals on ‘Wild Kids Rant’ suggest they are following their parents’ path into the forest) are embracing the phenomena of creation as they move inexorably forward. ‘Born Of The Sun’ is the bountiful and exuberant album of this place and time – an old, candlelit world of arcane beliefs in our brightly-lit world, growing ever more profound in the light of perpetual discovery that bathes all of Faun Fables’ songs.

An enchanting and often beguiling mix of traditional medieval folk and swirling Californian psychedelic sounds. Progressive but coherent chord changes and textures develop as time goes on, building and morphing into a cacophony of instrumental depth and vocal intensity. Fascinating and thoroughly skilled instrumentation and (in places) frightening heart-wrenchingly poignant lyricism. A Journey not to be missed.

BEACH SLANG –  A LOUD BASH OF TEENAGE FEELINGS

Beach Slang’s second full-length is a crash-and-thunder collection of songs about what it takes to keep yourself going, to make it through the rest of the night – hell, through the rest of your youth – and beyond. Frontman James Alex wrote much of ‘A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings’ on their first album’s support tour, during which he spent a lot of time with the kids who’d picked up the record. “A lot of the songs [on Loud Bash] are the stories of the kids who got turned on to Beach Slang by the first album,” says Alex. “They’re autobiographical, too, but kind of at a remove – I’m not that young kid anymore, but I used to be. You know how it is; rock and roll is a new crop of 15-year-olds picking up guitars every year and having at it. There was something really cool about documenting someone elses life, but seeing myself in it. I suppose that’s why we connect. We’re all kind of one big gang.” LP – Black Vinyl. LP+ – Limited Clear with Blue Splatter Vinyl.

BEACH HOUSE – ZEBRA
“Zebra” was Beach House’s follow up EP to the highly acclaimed breakthrough album “Teen Dream” which was centered around that album’s lead-off cut.

BELLY – ” Star “

Posted: July 17, 2016 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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4AD’s limited coloured vinyl reissue of Belly‘s 1993 debut Star is out today and meets all expectations – it’s a thing of beauty…

This limited edition double marbled white vinyl set doesn’t really look anything like the very colourful ‘artists impression’ shown on the news story earlier this week. The two records are basically pinky-white and bluey-white both with fairly subtle ‘marble’ effect.

The records are both 140g vinyl pressings,  they are both 33RPM, even though the album is spread over two records.

Chris Bigg’s design work looks fantastic, the gatefold is high quality, printed on uncoated stock – as are the two inner sleeves – and even though this isn’t particular cheap, it feels like you’re getting decent value. Particularly because this comes with a CD rather than the ubiquitous MP3 code-on-a-card. Having the optical disc is great, but you’d wish they’d cobbled up the extra budget to put this in a printed card sleeve.

The vinyl sounds great – quiet and warm and it’s a lovely way to get to know (or reacquaint yourself with) this album which is 23 years old at the of the year. The lack of standalone CD edition may be addressed at some point, but we’d love to see more vinyl reissues demonstrate this level of care and attention.

Star, Limited 2LP Gatefold white vinyl edition, is out now.

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Enjoy this brand new track from Tanya Donelly’s Swan Song Series available May 20th exclusively on American Laundromat Records, Swan Song Series cds! I am very, very proud of this project that has been in constant creation for the past few years ~ each song is co-written with a writer or songwriter that I love and admire, and there are countless guest appearances by musicians that I love and admire. It’s a pretty stellar group of collaborators, and I’m grateful to have worked with all of these people

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Tanya Donelly’s complete Swan Song Series is now available for pre-order. This exclusive 3xCD set includes the first 5 volumes + 7 brand new songs. Be sure to scoop up Bundle 2 quickly (which includes a great looking tee, 1″ button, and decal) – the first 300 orders receive a signed CD from Tanya. If this isn’t enough, you also get a first listen to a brand new, previously unreleased track co-written with Damon & Naomi

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“Send Me Your Next Nightmare”

This is the first song I’ve written with fellow Belly comrade Tom Gorman in over twenty years. Tom and I share a lot of space in terms of musical taste and writing style, and we were very harmonious writing partners in the Belly days. And for those reasons, and because sometimes it just happens this way, this song’s lyrics and melody came to me in about 15 minutes. It was like stepping into a very familiar room