Posts Tagged ‘Brian Oblivion’

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Cults’ utterly mesmerizing new album, “Host”, was written more collaboratively than ever before and recorded primarily with live instruments for the first time. The collection marks the start of a bold new chapter for the band, one fuelled by an ever-deepening trust and a boundless appetite for growth and experimentation. The songs here are deceptively charming, with lush, airy arrangements that belie their dark, weighty lyrics, and the production is rich and multifaceted to match, blending retro and futuristic palettes into a spellbinding swirl of high-def indie rock and lo-fi bedroom pop. As its title suggests, Host is an exploration of the sinister dynamics at play in a parasitic relationship, but rather than dwell in the discomfort, the record charts a cathartic journey towards freedom and self-reliance, revelling in the power that comes from standing your ground and declaring independence in the face of exploitation and manipulation.

Cults have embarked on a radical reimagining, both of the band’s sound and its dynamic, and the result is the NYC indie duo’s utterly mesmerizing fourth album, Host. Written more collaboratively than ever before and recorded primarily with live instruments for the first time, the collection marks the start of a bold new chapter for the band. The songs here are deceptively charming, with lush, airy arrangements that belie their dark, weighty lyrics. The production is rich and multifaceted to match, blending retro and futuristic palettes into a spellbinding swirl of high-def indie rock and lo-fi bedroom pop. As its title suggests, “Host” is an exploration of the sinister dynamics at play in a parasitic relationship, but rather than dwell in the discomfort, the record charts a cathartic journey towards freedom and self-reliance,

New York duo Cults struggled to piece together their fourth album. After all of the music was recorded, something wasn’t working and the two artists weren’t happy with it. “It just didn’t feel like an album yet,” says singer Madeline Follin. It wasn’t until she—for the first time—brought her own songs to the table that the album started to become more like what they’d envisioned.

The title Host is partly inspired by this newfound collaborative effort, while also playing with ideas of power dynamics and independence. Multi-instrumentalist/singer Brian Oblivion said of Follin’s contributions: “The music just floored us, and suddenly everything started to click.” the duo broke down every track on Host, explaining themes of exploitation, addiction, relationships, and more.

1. “Trials”

Focuses on the power that addictions and harmful ideologies have to transform. The chorus walks a tight rope between a metaphor for gaslighting and a despairing worry about the person you still hold out hope for.

2. “8th Ave”

A song we wrote a long time ago at our old studio on Eight Avenue across from Port Authority. It’s an area with a well documented history of exploitation and corruption, but freedom and acceptance as well. Sonically it sounded like what we saw out the window and the lyrics flowed from there.

3. “Spit You Out”

This the first song we wrote for this record, trying on some of our more left field influences from the exotica sounds of Esquivel to Nine Inch Nails–style heaviness. It focuses on parasitic relationships and breaking away from toxic patterns of interaction. We never imagined it would relate to a worldwide pandemic.

4. “A Low”

One of the few romanitic-ish songs on the record. It starts with a kind of Greek chorus, setting the scene for the narrator to step in. From there the song tries to explain how transformative relationships can be even in the deepest depression, and even when the other party isn’t aware.

5. “Honest Love”

A quick tune that harks back to our first show at the Mercury Lounge. It draws on the metaphor that the fear of unpreparedness to perform a show shares with feeling unprepared to form a new connection. It also explores the vulnerability that comes with singing a personal song to strangers and how that relates to having intimacy with a new person.

6. “Working It Over”

This is our power ballad and end of side A of the record. The song centers on the importance of holding close to personal support systems and fighting against escapism in the face of hopelessness. It’s a reminder that the past is not greater than the present, and the future is unknowable. You’re probably not going to live in space, so we have to work together to deal with the problems of right now if we want to find satisfaction.

7. “A Purgatory”

Cutting the strings on a manipulative relationship and exiting the purgatory that could have continued without action.

8. “Masquerading”

Impostor Syndrome is the name of the game here. There’s a particular fear you experience every time you hear your words and songs anywhere in public—that fear of inadequacy haunts every new effort. Masquerading is a kind of acceptance that you’ll always have to play different roles as this will likely never go away.

9. “No Risk”

Antithetical to the title, the song is all about the benefits of taking risks, and how difficult that can be as a woman when being constantly told in both transparent and subliminal ways that you’re “second best” or not worthy of the same voice. The song transforms the title from a place of complacency to a challenge to empower yourself.

10. “Like I Do”

The song starts with a boast (“Can’t nobody sleep like I do”), and gradually transforms into a song about self destructively sweeping your problems off to side so you can keep moving forward.

11. “Shoulders to My Feet”

Touches on the difficulty of fending off intrusive thoughts of the past or fears of the future that get in the way of pursuing something positive.

12. “Monolithic”

A kind of happy ending. Its about giving in, and getting outside yourself even if you aren’t sure what the outcome will be in the end. After a record of pain and self doubt, it’s a jump into the abyss.

Trials” is from Cults’ upcoming album ‘Host’, out September 18th via Sinderlyn Records

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Cults duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have announced a new album, “Host”, and shared a new song from it, album opener “Trials,” via a video for it. Host is due out September 18th via Sinderlyn Records and features “Spit You Out,” a new song Cults shared in June.

In a press release Cults collectively had this to say about the new song: “‘Trials’ focuses on the power that addictions and harmful ideologies have to transform. The chorus walks a tightrope between a metaphor for gaslighting and a despairing worry about the person you still hold out hope for.”

Jeff Strikers, who directed the “Trials” video, had this to say: “Cults asked me back in April if I had any ideas for a music video we could make while quarantined across the country. Via Zoom, we shot Madeline’s performance against a green tablecloth from a party store. I started experimenting with an old optical illusion called ‘Pepper’s Ghost,’ projecting Madeline’s image onto a sheet of glass to create a ghostly, hologram effect. They use this technique on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. It was pretty magical and the whole process was constant discovery and surprise. An ideal creative experience.”

Cults co-produced the Host with Shane Stoneback and it was mixed by John Congleton and mastered by Heba Kadry. Loren Shane Humphrey (The Last Shadow Puppets, Florence and the Machine, Guards) plays drums on the album. The album finds Follin exerting a bit more creative control than before and taking a larger role in the songwriting. “In the past, I’d never brought my own music to the table because I was just too shy,” Follin says in a press release.

“When Shane and I heard what Madeline had written, we couldn’t believe it,” says Oblivion. “The music just floored us.” The band’s last regular studio album was 2017’s Offering. Although in 2018 Cults also released another album where they covered The Motels’ classic 1979 debut album Motels in its entirety as part of Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious Series.

The cover of Offering, Cults’ third album and their first in four years, says it all. After the opaque nocturnal allure of their earlier recordings, the New York City-based duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion have come out of the dark, drenching their sharp pop songs in a warm, sumptuous glow that makes them more approachable and welcoming. While Offering draws on many of the same influences as its predecessors—namely, girl groups of the 1960s, like the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes, as well as chillwave artists like Toro y Moi and occasionally, the airy minimalism of the xx—here, they feel more lived-in. “I Took Your Picture,” for instance, contains echoes of Tame Impala’s kaleidoscopic psych rock, but delivers a human warmth and directness that the former lacks. Later, the thudding piano figures in “Recovery” blur the line between acoustic and electronic instrumentation to captivating effect.

While the song’s narratives aren’t necessarily overflowing with giddiness or optimism, there is a newfound confidence and self-awareness in Follin’s lyrics that melds seamlessly with the songs’ colorful arrangements. The album begins with an intention to live in the present moment—“Know I can’t see it all yet / But it’s so real to me”—and then echoes that sentiment throughout; “Our time is nothing now / It slips through our fingers,” Follin sings later on “I Took Your Picture.” Keeping the forces of time and doubt at bay is never an easy task, she seems to be saying, but it’s worth the battle. Sometimes all you can do is make an offering, and make it as exquisite as possible.

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