Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Lee’

Lightning and thunder are so common that it’s easy to take for granted their dramatic majesty—the way the former crackles against a purple sky, or how the latter can sound like the house is coming down around you. On Thunder Follows the Light, Brooklyn’s Jordan Lee, aka Mutual Benefit, takes a decidedly softer turn, using those elements of weather as bookends for songs about reaching for love and comfort. Rather than offering flash-bang pyrotechnics, Lee and his band deliver an earthy, slow-burning LP with a cozy, comforting terroir all its own. 

Lee chronicles his travails in nature with a light, reedy tenor that floats atop his lush arrangements. With its folk-pop core—typically adorned in tasteful layers of strings and saxophone—Thunder Follows the Light strongly recalls Sufjan Stevens’s classic Illinois,if Stevens had chosen to hike the Appalachian Trail rather than study the Prairie State. Indeed, two of Lee’s tracks are Appalachian-adjacent; the sparkling “Mountain’s Shadow” was inspired by North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway, while the gentle, folksier “New History” explores his parents’ roots in Appalachian Ohio.

Throughout the record, Lee connects the need to find internal solace examinations of the natural world around him. He opens “Storm Cellar Heart” with lyrics about waking up early enough to see morning glory flowers bloom because a neighbor told him “that it helps to notice the small things.” Later in the track, he nods to a simple gesture that holds a universal appeal: “When you hold me, it’s so much better / It’s enough to drown out the thunder,” he murmurs.

Lee closes the record with “Thunder Follows,” which rolls along to rhythms that recall the distant rumble of a faraway storm. “Peace is more than just a season coming around again,” he sings, fingerpicked guitar and faint banjo plinks spiraling down around him in a delicate cascade. It’s a reminder that, though finding peace may not be as effortless as the passing of seasons, it can be a lasting presence. You just have to find your own version of it.

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This is one of those great albums where I just keep restarting it once it’s finished because i want more and don’t get tired or it. I personally keep coming back to “Stone Cellar Heart” – waking up early, acting quickly, noticing the small things – I can feel all that. Anyways give it a spin if for nothing else than to chill out for a smidge, but I suggest snagging a copy.

released September 21, 2018

Written by Jordan Lee 
With writing contributions from
Mike Clifford, Jake Falby, and Dillon Zahner

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“Thunder Follows The Light” contemplates the ongoing destruction of the outer world and how it shapes the storms of our inner ones. There are meditations on the environment, collective struggle, death, rebirth, reasons to believe it’s worth the fight.
For nearly a decade, Jordan Lee has crafted pop experiments blending orchestral instrumentation and ambient electronic sounds. “Thunder Follows the Light” is a testament to the power of music as a space for collective processing and emotional response. Like his other releases, it is a highly collaborative document. Its sprawling chamber folk features many returning collaborators—violinist Jake Falby, guitarist Mike Clifford, percussionist Dillon Zahner—as well as first-time players—vocalist Johanne Swanson (of Yohuna), drummer Felix Walworth (of Told Slant), saxophonist Gabriel Birnbaum (of Wilder Maker). Jordan can honestly do no wrong. He is absolutely growing and maturing musically before our very ears, and I for one am honored to be a part of it. Finishing an album is such a huge endeavor that I always feel like it leaves a permanent mark on me. I’m glad for what this process has taught me and am excited to live in this little universe for a while and play these songs around the world!

Lee’s aggressive pursuit of art-making for himself is empathetic and outward-facing, looking both to the past and the future with warmth and hopefulness. “Peace is more than just a season coming ‘round again,” he sings on two different songs—and the emphasis seems intentional: suggesting that harmony of the mind and the heart do not just transpire but must be worked for, growing from deep-rooted foundations. In the world that birthed Thunder Follows the Light, it feels like medicine.
Released September 21st, 2018
Written by Jordan Lee 
With writing contributions from
Mike Clifford, Jake Falby, and Dillon Zahner 

‘Come To Pass’ appears on the album ‘Thunder Follows The Light’ out 21 September 2018 through Transgressive Records

Mutual Benefit shares new couplet of tracks, “Shedding Skin” and “Come To Pass”

Multi-instrumentalist Jordan Lee, aka Mutual Benefit, has shared another duo of tracks that follow from the first couplet “New History”, and “Storm Cellar Heart”.

Having announced his forthcoming album at the same time as the first two tracks, today Lee shares the second wave of singles, “Shedding Skin” and “Come To Pass”.

His forthcoming album Thunder Follows The Light will consist of tracks accumulated over the past two years and will hold both returning and new collaborators.

On the first of two, “Come To Pass”, Lee states, “These songs came about at the same time on a busted 5 string guitar when I shut off my phone and declared my bedroom a makeshift, artist residency for a week. I had just returned from a tour that did a lot of meandering around the Appalachian Mountain region right as the “Make America Great Again” signs started popping up more and more. “Come to Pass” is a refutation of the idea that there was ever a golden age to return back to. Both personally and politically I’m afraid of this sort of constructed nostalgia that keeps us looking backwards instead of a having a powerful enough imagination to see the hard truths of the present but work towards a better future.”

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On the second track “Shedding Skin”, Lee explains, “I kept thinking about a town where I saw hundreds of these translucent cicada bodies from where they had clung to a tree, hardened, and then burst out of their own shell. This ghostly sight made me pay more attention to how things naturally regenerate, how loss is part of the fuel of growth. It became a powerful reminder that things shouldn’t stay the same, including parts of ourselves.”
Thunder Follows The Light is due out 21st September via Transgressive on all platforms, including a special edition vinyl. Mutual Benefit has announced a UK and US tour that sees him play London’s Oslo on 30 October.

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Musicians cover each other’s songs often enough that the results rarely qualify as news. But covering a whole album, song for song? That’s a labor of love ambitious enough to warrant attention.

The website Turntable Kitchen, which aims to bring food and music together in various ways, recently launched a monthly vinyl series called Sounds Delicious. Each month, a different artist covers an entire album, which the site makes available both as colored vinyl and as a digital download; the records can be ordered individually or by subscription. Participating artists include Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado (covering Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run) and Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard (who’ll tackle Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque), as well as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, GEMS and more bands.

For the next entry, due out June 23rd, Mutual Benefit — whose gorgeous albums offer an ornate and stately take on vintage folk and pop sounds — will tackle Vashti Bunyan’s 1970 classic Just Another Diamond Day. As these covers of “Jog Along Bess” and “Glow Worms” suggest, Bunyan and Mutual Benefit bandleader Jordan Lee are ideally matched, with a similar affinity for gentle introspection.

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“When I was approached about covering a full album, it was a no-brainer to attempt reinterpreting Just Another Diamond Day,” Lee writes via email. “Since my school days, it’s been one of those pieces of music that has been able to transport me to a calmer, more magical world than the one we currently inhabit. It was a unique assignment to use the downtime between tours to pay homage to an album I’ve spent so much time daydreaming with, especially since her songwriting style of soft-spoken observations — mixed with Robert Kirby’s intuitive string arrangements — has been such an enduring influence on my own music.

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“The legend of Diamond Day is almost too good to be true. In the late ’60s, feeling disenchanted from the life of people trying to make her into a pop star, [Bunyan] dropped out of society and took this long journey across the country to get to a commune, writing songs along the way. Eventually, she recorded this incredible and deeply personal album, but it was a complete commercial flop, so she decided she’d rather be a farmer instead of a singer-songwriter. It wasn’t until decades later that an acquaintance came upon Just Another Diamond Day on eBay for thousands of dollars and realized that various contemporary folk artists were calling the album a lost masterpiece.

“While much of the album is pretty compatible with our aesthetic, ‘Jog Along Bess’ was actually one of the more difficult songs to do in our own voice. The sing-songy lyrics mixed with the rollicking ‘good times’ story is something we had never tried to do. We are definitely amateurs at rollicking. Eventually, I started to get really into the lyrics about this misfit crew of people and doggies trying to make it across the country in a half-broken vehicle. I could definitely relate. The more people we had over to collaborate, the more the song took on its own life.”

Mutual Benefit’s album-length cover of Just Another Diamond Day comes out June 23rd via Turntable Kitchen’s Sounds Delicious vinyl series.

Mutual Benefit, the songwriting outlet for multi-instrumentalist and producer Jordan Lee, is pleased to announce details of a new album Thunder Follows The Light on September 21st via Transgressive Records.

Commenting on New History, one of the two first tracks to be taken from the album, which features vocals from Johanne Swanson (of Yohuna), he says:

I think people in power benefit greatly from a general lack of historic memory in the US. I’ve been wondering if the first step to imagining a more just world is to study our history better, not just the linear revisionist one that is oft-repeated but all the unsung champions of equal rights as well as the acts of unthinkable cruelty that humans are also capable of.

Following his last outing, 2016’s acclaimed Skip A Sinking Stone, Lee marks his return with a patient and prismatic collection of songs accrued over the past two years. Lee — who grew up in Ohio and is currently based in New York  has crafted pop experiments for almost a decade, blending orchestral instrumentation and ambient electronic sounds. His new album features an array of friends and many returning collaborators.

New History is the album’s truest folk song, with twangy harmonica and slide guitar. Its inspiration came to him while spending time in the economically depressed area of Ohio where his parents grew up.

The other song shared today, Storm Cellar Heart, is an ode to taking shelter and the fraught impulse to hide from the loudness of the outside world. It’s more of a long question than an answer: “Is it storms that help make the heart grow?” Says Lee: “Writing this provided a reminder that while moments of recharging are important, I didn’t want to get too entrenched in escapism instead of the messiness of living.”

He has also confirmed an all-too-rare solo UK show – playing London’s The Lexington this week (May 24th).

Mutual Benefit’s Skip a Sinking Stone, a gorgeous collection of orchestral folk, focuses on the carefully plotted tours of a newly successful band and frontman Jordan Lee’s adopted home of New York. rdan Lee had quietly released six albums prior to 2013, so Mutual Benefit didn’t exactly come out of nowhere three years ago. But Love’s Crushing Diamond sounded like it did, Mutual Benefit remains in 2016: Lee’s still a wandering spirit surrounding himself with an orchestra of friends, recording in “forests, attics and hotel rooms”

“Getting Gone” is from Mutual Benefit’s ‘Skip a Sinking Stone’ out now on Mom+Pop / Transgressive Records.

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It’s been too long since Jordan Lee, who performs as Mutual Benefit, has released an album; his last one came out in 2013. This month sees the release of Skip a Sinking Stone, his great new LP, which is out via Mom + Pop Records this week.Mutual Benefit has revealed the video for the stunning single ‘Lost Dreamers’, the second song taken from his upcoming album ‘Skip A Sinking Stone’.  Influenced by themes of surrealism from Chris Van Allsburg’s Being There, Rene Magritte’s Spirited Away and Beth Hoeckel’s The Insider, the video is a glimpse into a fantastical vision of tranquility where elements of New York City and its residents are disconnected from their bustling environment and placed into a serene natural space.

Order Skip a Sinking Stone: http://smarturl.it/MutualBenefitSASS1

A wonderful video for a beautiful song. I love this visual symbol for a “head in the clouds” (or, in this case, on a lake). Mutual Benefit always impresses. Brooklyn’s Jordan Lee has grown a sound that’s lush and deeply sympathetic over the course of several years. With a full moat of instrumentalists to surround his lulling voice, he constructs songs that feel like gentle reminders to the self. After taking time to tour following 2013’s breakthrough Love’s Crushing Diamond, he’s poised to release a follow-up, Skip a Sinking Stone—this one a reminder of impermanence and failure.

While the first half of the Skip a Sinking Stone deals with a time Lee was in love and touring constantly, the latter is about living in New York and the subsequent downturn in that love. “The Hereafter” is the final track on the new album, and it marks a resolute comedown. Resolute, but hopeful: Lee says, “The first song on the album is about being scared that things won’t work out and ‘The Hereafter’ is about learning to let go and finding peace in ‘murky depths where light is found’ when they inevitably don’t.”

It’s instantly calming, with descending pentatonics—the sound of a guhzeng, a Chinese zither, that Lee picked up at a friend’s studio. Lee’s voice hangs on a precipice as he asks, “What’s to say when we break / when the skin that was bending melts away?” Piano blooms out into a stirring orchestral arrangement, and with mention of swaying reeds and dragonflies, it feels too ethereal to have its roots in a place as unsanctimonious as Brooklyn, but that’s sort of what Lee’s getting at—there’s light hidden in the darkest of places. He asks, “Can love die / or does it come back and find us every time?” The answer to his question is embedded in the heightened sound that follows, and it’s promising.

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Jordan Lee’s work as Mutual Benefit has been nothing short of impeccably intimate thus far, and tastes of his forthcoming full-length suggest no such deviation from this path.  “the hereafter” closes out skip a sinking stone, out may 20th via Mom+Pop Records, replete with bucolic counterpoint that eventually coalesces into an ornately orchestrated outing.  staying constant amidst the evolving textures is Lee’s vocal, ever-soothing as he tentatively stretches into his upper register and resounding as he ventures back down to deliver the song’s central thesis.  get lost in “the hereafter”

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Mutual Benefit were probably new to most of the audience at Green Man Festival but they played a superb set for the crowded arena bringing a sound of american summer days , Mainly the musical project of  Jordan Lee and collected musicians the bands recent album “Loves Crushing Diamond”   received lots of critical praise recorded in the Ohm Studios in Austin Texas, the album released last year was voted as among the best albums by Pitchfork and Stereogum sites. This song recorded at the Green man Festival in August 2014