Posts Tagged ‘Grapefruit’

Flamin groovies box cover

Coming up on February 22nd! The Flamin’ Groovies: “Gonna Rock Tonite!” The Complete Recordings 1969-71 is a 3CD clamshell box set reissue of three peerless albums – ‘Supersnazz’, ‘Flamingo’ and ‘Teenage Head’ – taken from the original master tapes and embellished with bonus outtakes, alternative versions and single mixes!

Irrespective of musical direction, sales figures or personnel changes, The Flamin’ Groovies have always had greatness attached to their name. Cyril Jordan’s mid-Seventies revamp of the band was certainly a huge influence on entire generations of skinny-tied power poppers, but the Groovies took their first tentative steps on the long and winding road to cult stardom back in the late Sixties, when lead singer, original band leader and rock’n’roll aficionado Roy Loney battled for the upper hand with young pup and Beatles obsessive Jordan.

After the tentative, privately-issued 10” mini-album debut Sneakers, The Groovies made the transition from San Francisco also-rans to genuine contenders with a trio of peerless albums – Supersnazz, Flamingo and the particularly magnificent Teenage Head – for major labels (Columbia’s Epic imprint and Buddah subsidiary Kama Sutra). Bolstered by sundry outtakes, alternative versions and single mixes, those three albums now appear under one roof for the first time with Gonna Rock Tonite!, a complete anthology of the band’s studio work during the pivotal 1969-71 timeframe: halcyon days that ended in late 1971 when Loney abruptly quit the group he’d formed just a few short years earlier.

Bursting with creative tension, wilful diversity and absurdist wit, Gonna Rock Tonite!climaxes with the classic albumTeenage Head, a brazen attempt to out-Stone the Stones that saw one critic describe it at the time of its mid-1971 appearance as “close to being the best hard rock album ever released by an American group”. The definitive issue of these definitive recordings, Gonna Rock Tonite! is a 3-CD set taken from the masters and housed in a striking clamshell box. It includes a 20-page booklet that also features a new 7,500 word essay on the band.

from Teenage Head (1971)

Kiran Leonard.

Kiran Leonard was born in Saddleworth, Greater Manchester in 1995, a fortnight after Oasis lost their famous chart battle with Blur. This is nicely symbolic because Leonard couldn’t be further removed from the cliched indie-lad template. His dad, a former folk singer, encouraged him to learn the mandolin when he was five. From there he graduated to the guitar, and at 10 years old he was devouring his older brother’s prog, noise and jazz records while recording his own music on the computer with a cracked copy of Ableton. “I didn’t really care about learning how to play other people’s songs,” he says. “I just preferred to fuck about. I used to record a lot of absolute shite… and never stopped.”

Leonard’s 2012 debut album Bowler Hat Soup – on which he played virtually everything himself – careened confidently from lush chamber pop to chewy prog via deranged music-hall stomps, placing its 16-year-old narrator on the Pyrenean ski slopes of Port Ainé or in the midst of an ancient battle. Yet Leonard now dismisses the lyrics of Bowler Hat Soup as “mostly bollocks”. Whereas heavier new album Grapefruit is only “half bollocks”, with entertaining salvoes of nonsense wordplay such as Ondör Gongor (named after a legendarily tall Mongolian man) nestling alongside the likes of Half-Ruined Already’s more unsettling exploration of the human psyche.

“That’s based on a Werner Herzog short film called Last Words,” he explains. “There’s an anecdote in the film about two people with leprosy: a man with no legs and a woman with no arms. So the man used to walk around on the woman’s back and together they formed a full-length avatar, and as a result entered a common-law marriage. It’s an example of co-dependence taken to extremes. So essentially the song is asking: Am I actually in love with this person or do I just want their limbs?”

Evidently there is a high level of intellectual curiosity at play here, so it may not be a surprise to learn that Leonard is in the second year of a degree course in Spanish and Portuguese at Wadham College, Oxford. He has been reluctant to talk about his academic life in interviews, but given we’re drinking in a 14th-century tavern in the shadow of the Bodleian Library, it’s a difficult topic to avoid. Mainly, Leonard is concerned that people might think he’s another posh-boy rocker in the Mumfords mould. “But Oxford’s not what people think it is. There are 22,000 students here and they didn’t all go to Eton.”

With his grungy jumper and blunt Lancastrian vowels, nobody is likely to mistake Leonard for a member of the Bullingdon Club. His music is clever and quixotic but it’s also governed by purist punk ethics. He doesn’t use effects pedals and has only recently taken to carrying a spare guitar with him to shows because he didn’t want to look flash. That doesn’t mean he lacks ambition; he compares his next album after Grapefruit to Pet Sounds and he’s already mapped out its narrative arc, even though he’s yet to write all the songs.

Leonard’s Manchester musical peers include the likes of Dutch Uncles and Everything Everything, who can be heard loudly praising his work at every opportunity. But pinning him down to one particular scene is difficult. The best comparison is with someone like Jim O’Rourke, whose refusal to play the game allows him to move between orchestral pop, post-rock and avant-garde spheres at will.

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Kiran Leonard is just 20 years old, but if you were looking to paint him as a wide-eyed ingénue, you’ve already missed the boat: Such is his experience and tireless work ethic he’s already coming to resemble a veteran. A rangy young man from Oldham, Greater Manchester, Leonard picked up the mandolin aged five, and wrote his breakout 2013 song “Dear Lincoln” a manic piece of psychedelic pop, like Van Dyke Parks reincarnated in the body of a hyperactive English schoolboy when he was 14 years old. Leonard is an intellectual sponge drinking up an ocean of knowledge. His frame of reference encompasses playwright Samuel Beckett and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the mangled productions of Death Grips and the brainbox pop of Elephant 6, while “Pink Fruit” – the second song on this, his second LP – is a sprawling song suite with more twists and turns in its 16 minutes ,The crux of its peculiar lyric? An erotic encounter between a woman and a squid.

It’s a lot, right? Right. Grapefruit is by turns astounding, accomplished and difficult to digest, an album shouldering ambitions so big that you fear that at any point it might give way at the knees. Undoubtedly, Leonard is an autodidact of amazing talent and energy. At times his idiosyncratic performance style resembles Dirty Projectors’  see “Don’t Make Friends With Good People,” with those wandering, pointillist guitar lines, that voice that leaps boldly across octaves, as if participating in some tipsy parkour. Elsewhere, he recalls a fellow British outsider, Richard Dawson, whose take on the narrative folk tradition is both wild-eyed and whimsical. The lolloping, rusty groove of “Öndör Gongor” is a fractured song-story sketched in enigmatic strokes – a strapping maritime fantasy set “in the night of the shotgun,” in which sharks lurk as “a clatter of shins hit the dock” and a mysterious orb named Ethel waits, hungrily. The song ends with staccato blasts of guitar and a chanted shanty-like coda, although how all this relates to the subject of the song’s title – a giant who lived in early-20th century Mongolia – is left unaddressed.

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Grapefruit is a gnarlier-sounding record than its predecessor, its lurching guitars and skittering, free percussion. It is at its most digestible, however, when Leonard plays it orchestral. “Caiaphas in Fetters” is a beautiful confection of strings and fluttering guitar that finds him posing questions to a lover: “Ask yourself/Do you feel as I feel?” “Half Ruined Already,” meanwhile, is a finger picked love song in which two participants – one legless, one armless – come together in one romantic whole. It was inspired by a Werner Herzog short about a couple who met in a leper’s colony, but succeeds in taking such grim subject matter and alchemizing it into warm sentiment. At the other end of the scale is the somewhat opaque “Exeter Services,” which flips between quizzical improv and skidding emo, all flail and gasp and rickety cathedrals of language built to collapse: “I’m in the Catskills! Total duality! All of Ophelia! Absolute anarchy!”

Grapefruit is 57 minutes long and feels packed to the rafters, as if Leonard is a hoarder of ideas and song fragments, unwilling or unable to let anything go. Take “Pink Fruit.” In its 16 minutes, it flits between noisy spazz-rock, folk shambling, woodwind interludes, short-wave radio tinkering and free percussion. I’d stop short of calling it confused – even when it’s getting wild, there’s enough recurring lyrical cues to suggest its maker is working to a detailed map. But he can be rather an impatient guide, and while the ground it covers is startling and often picturesque, Grapefruit is an album you feel led through, rather than being left to explore or inhabit. Perhaps in this regard, at least, Kiran Leonard still has things to learn.

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Thanks to Pitchfork,

Kiran Leonard

The Manchester multi-instrumentalist’s art rock via prog, folk and psychedelia has earned him comparisons with everyone from Jeff Buckley to Dirty Projectors. He released his second LP in March, but you get the feeling that even the 20-year-old’s cast-offs are special.

Low Four welcomes this mercurially talented 20-year-old from Oldham who has already notched up two critically acclaimed albums with the second, Grapefruit released earlier this year.
31 videoed minutes
The Session features. versions of Ondör Gongor, Don’t Make Friends With Good People, Secret Police, Geraldo’s Farm.

This record is called ‘abandoning noble goals’ partly in reference to a lyric in the last song but also to reference the fact that i had two central motifs for this record – first joy, and then honesty – and i failed at fulfilling both of them. in june i decided i wanted to make an ‘ep of joy’ as soon as i finished my end-of-year exams, like a cathartic release. i also wanted to do this because the last two albums i put out (the pend oreille LP and “terreiro do paço”) are probably the two bleakest records i’ve ever put out in my life. they’re just overflowing with introspection, and hopelessness, and pessimism, and unsureness. this ‘ep of joy’ didn’t end up transpiring but the last two songs on this album (both of which were written in the past month), are related in part to this aforementioned cathartic release, and trying to articulate the joy of coming out of, say, a bout of low self-esteem (this is what the song ‘visions of worthless shortcomings’ is about).

it’s difficult to talk in detail about how you feel when the feelings aren’t overwhelmingly positive, as they inevitably aren’t from time to time, but i think honesty’s a really important skill for a songwriter to develop that i hope to develop as i get older/less self-conscious (i hope the two run in tandem??). for me the absolute king of honesty in songwriting is daniel johnston – a man who is exactly what he says he is, in song and in person. i remember i once sent him some fan mail when i was maybe 15; i’d been listening to his song “grievances” on repeat, and there’s a line in it where he’s talking about running into a girl he has a huge crush on (who he often references by her real name … can you IMAGINE writing a song for a girl you’re interested in and referring to her by her REAL NAME?), and the line he sings is “you were standing there like a temple”. and i just thought that was a totally perfect encapsulation of how it feels to be in the company of someone you’re really attracted to, that hyperbolic awe and complete worthlessness of the self. and i write this letter to him, a facebook message, i say to him: “you know, i really think that’s a beautiful lyric”, and in his reply he says to me (and i quote): “thank you kiran / very beautiful lyrics that came from very painful emotions”. and i just thought … well, shit, to say something like to a complete stranger, it just about sets the high watermark for honesty among songwriters doesn’t it. and the thing about his forwardness and his openness is that it really does help too. if i ever feel lonely, or upset about something, or unhappy, all i need is to listen to tracks from “don’t be scared”. “she said i was a real loser / at least i’m real / and being real sometimes / is a losing game”. i obviously don’t want to faithfully emulate his writing style but a lot of my songs lyrically are either very hollow, or very obscure and distant, and i wanted to try and write songs that were more honest and straightforward, in the hope of their composition being therapeutic and maybe to communicate even an iota of the feelings daniel johnston is able to communicate to his listeners in his songs. i wrote a song that was openly political for the first time (you can find more info on that on the ‘working people’ track page), and also with ‘visions of worthless shortcomings’ and particularly ‘eunuch’ tried to be more honest about introspective stuff. ‘eunuch’ actually ended up being a song about trying to be daniel johnston-level honest and failing. the last line of the song, and the motto for the whole record (and the title source of the EP) is “honesty is a noble goal until it comes too close”, because i believe both parts of that statement to be true.

by the way, this record also has the subtitle of “the ‘sorry grapefruit isn’t out yet!’ ep” (cause i’m sorry grapefruit’s not out yet! it’s coming early next year. i promise). and another reason the EP failed at both of its goals is the inclusion of the tracks ‘after the rain came in’ and ‘o hospideiro’, which are older (atrci: written nov 12, recorded jul 15; o hospideiro: recorded mar 15) and so kind of detached from the mental processes that were instrumental in the composition of the three middle tracks. again, you can find more info on them on the track pages.

-kiran (early hours of 01/08/15)

credits

released August 13, 2015

kiran leonard: acoustic guitar, banjo, bass guitar, drum kit, electric guitars, field recordings, finger cymbals, frying pan, mandolin, melodica, muesli packet, piano, reed organ, sandpaper, synthesiser, tambourine, tenor guitar, toms, toy megaphone, violin, voice

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Kiran Leonard has signed to Moshi Moshi and shares here the lead single, ‘Pink Fruit’, to be taken from his forthcoming album, ‘Grapefruit’. ‘Pink Fruit’ is the album’s 16 minute long centrepiece and is released as a one-sided etched 12” vinyl single. Sixteen minutes of twisting turning experiment rock music with ditch dirty guitars and all manner of diversions taking in nods to Shellac, Jeff Buckley, Slint and La Monte Young along the way. Bodes very well for upcoming Grapefruit long player.

The first single from Kiran Leonard’s new album ‘Grapefruit’ out on 25th March 2016. Get this track immediately when you pre-order the album, Also available on one-sided limited edition 12″ etched vinyl: smarturl.it/PinkFruit

© The Vinyl Factory, best 7" vinyl recors of 2015, artist name,

Although he’s been creating music for a few years now, Kiran Leonard (not to be confused with singer-songwriter Kieran Leonard}, who – coincidentally – was a ‘One To Watch’ for 2015! this year has changed direction somewhat and succeeded in creating his own utterly majestic and unique sound.

Following 2013’s Bowler Hat Soup, it was almost hard to believe that this year’s EP Abandoning Noble Goals was by the same guy. At just 20 years of age, Kiran Leonard has already proved himself to be a wonderfully innovative artist.

After a run of festival dates this summer (including wowing me at Green Man), and plenty of airplay particularly from 6Music’s Marc Riley, Leonard’s most recent single ‘Pink Fruit’ is 16 minutes of angst-driven musical bliss. Oozing a dream-like, emotion-strewn cacophony of sound, it’s reminiscent of underrated ’90s grunge outfit Slint, and flows with an eerie, distorted charm. It’s a stupendous work of art that you really must let your ears devour.

With his new album, Grapefruit, due out in March 2016, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more of this unique artist in the new year.

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