Posts Tagged ‘Kiran Leonard’

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I first saw Kiran Leonard back in 2018, just after he released Western Culture” I think it was at the Green man Festival, his first studio album and first with his backing band. The Manchester, U.K. singer/songwriter has been uploading music to Bandcamp since 2013, and he’s released three albums with Moshi Moshi Records—quietly becoming one of the most fascinating singer/songwriters and gifted artists of our time. His brand new release, “World Argument Live”, includes live recordings with his old band from 2016 and 2018, along with newly-recorded versions of previously-shared tracks. Leonard codes the song titles in abbreviated capitals, so it might be difficult to decipher for anyone unfamiliar with his music, but fear not, I can help—highlights include “Öndör Gongor” from 2016’s Grapefruit (“ÖN/GO”), “An Easel” (“EAS”) and “The Universe Out There Knows No Smile” (“U/OUT”) from 2018’s Western Culture.

I first wrote about Kiran Leonard back in 2018, just after he released Western Culture, his first studio album and first with his backing band. The Manchester, based singer/songwriter has been uploading music to Bandcamp since 2013, and he’s released three albums with Moshi Moshi Records—quietly becoming one of the most fascinating singer/songwriters and gifted artists of our time. His brand new release, “World Argument Live”, includes live recordings with his old band from 2016 and 2018, along with newly-recorded versions of previously-shared tracks. Leonard codes the song titles in abbreviated capitals, so it might be difficult to decipher for anyone unfamiliar with his music, but fear not, I can help—highlights include “Öndör Gongor” from 2016’s Grapefruit (“ÖN/GO”), “An Easel” (“EAS”) and “The Universe Out There Knows No Smile” (“U/OUT”) from 2018’s Western Culture. By the bold titles, you can tell Leonard isn’t your average artist—he has a unique sonic and thematic imagination that becomes apparent immediately. This new release merges chaotic art rock jams with regal and pastoral compositions that border on chamber-pop and psych-folk. This combination of experimental clamour and pretty subtleties is precisely what makes Leonard such a dramatic force of nature. File World Argument Live under “albums so incredible that you have to pace around the room in deep thought.” Leonard is donating the funds from this release to The Music Venue Trust and the United Families & Friends Campaign, so please consider purchasing it on Bandcamp here.

By the bold titles, you can tell Leonard isn’t your average artist—he has a unique sonic and thematic imagination that becomes apparent immediately. This new release merges chaotic art rock jams with regal and pastoral compositions that border on chamber-pop and psych-folk. This combination of experimental clamour and pretty subtleties is precisely what makes Leonard such a dramatic force of nature.

Setlist: 0:35 Öndör Gongor 7:45 Secret Police 10:53 Don’t Make Friends with Good People 20:50 Geraldo’s Farm.

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Despite having released two records prior, Kiran Leonard’s latest album Western Culture is his first professional studio album and his first with the backing of his live band. Though assisted by some additional players, Leonard contributes the lion’s share of instrumentals with everything from guitar, organ, piano, violin and vocals to sandpaper, goat bells and frying pan. After releasing a five-movement concept album last year, Western Culture is similarly elegant, but far more expansive and pop-oriented. Leonard’s brand of baroque pop-tinged rock is both astoundingly pretty and wildly vigorous. Tracks like “The Universe Out There Knows No Smile” and “Working People” sound almost too highbrow and meticulously composed to be considered rock, yet too dogged to be classified as classical or baroque-pop. Western Culture isn’t just a gorgeous album of nuance, it’s also laced with musings on the recurring problems plaguing the populace like the lack of communication and feelings of alienation.

Unreflective Life is taken from Kiran Leonard’s forthcoming new album WESTERN CULTURE, out on Moshi Moshi Records on 19th October

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Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit – Live From the Ryman

Americana icon Jason Isbell and his band the 400 Unit release a new live album release. The album is set in none other than the Mother Church of Country Music, the Ryman Auditorium. Live From the Ryman was recorded at Nashville’s famous auditorium, and will feature live versions of songs from Isbell’s three latest releases, Southeastern, Something More Than Free andThe Nashville Sound. Songs included on the project are Last of My Kind, Hope the High Road, Something More Than Free and the Grammy Awards-winning If We Were Vampires, among others.

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The Lucid Dream – Actualisation

The Lucid Dream return with the release of their 4th album, Actualisation. Driven by fans raising £10,000 to help replace all equipment robbed after a Paris show in early 2017, a new album became the instant focus in the summer of 2017 for a rejuvenated The Lucid Dream. Actualisation is soaked in the influence of acid house, amalgamated with dub and kosmische. The album was penned over the summer of 2017 by Mark Emmerson (vocals/guitar/synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing. Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. Several months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have completed their 4th album in 5 years. A record made for the dancefloor. Recorded at Whitewood Studios, Liverpool, with Rob Whiteley, the album is produced alongside long-time collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios, Leeds), with mastering via Dean Honer (All Seeing I/I Monster/The Moonlandingz). The confrontational techno-punk of Alone In Fear opens the album, a 9-minute attack fuelled by the frustration and anger spawned by Brexit, government and a realisation of what 2018 Britain currently is. Recent single SX1000 (the first work from the album, unveiled via 12′ vinyl in April this year) is the band’s first move into pure acid house. The acid house fusion runs throughout the record, represented furthermore by Ardency, a track already praised by live critics when aired live for the first time earlier this year as ‘even on first hearing, would’ve raised the roof of The Hacienda’. The 2-part opus of Zenith follows, commencing with a space-dub / house instrumental groove before building into a track that will go for your head as much as your hips. Only Breakdown harks back to sounds of old for the band, a little reminder of the skull-crushing impact they can make when stripped to the bare bones. No Sunlight Dub closes the album, a dark-dub that invites the classic acid-house tool (Roland 808) into the dub. The track makes a stop-off into drum ‘n’ bass / jungle along the way before rounding up in a manner suited to Lee Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and other Jamaican greats.

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Titus Andronicus – Home Alone on Halloween

Limited to 1,300 for world on Orange Vinyl with Download. With Home Alone on Halloween, noted rock band Titus Andronicus celebrate the spookiest of the seasons by staring into the abyss and confronting the bone-chilling terror which lies at the haunted heart of our human experience. Bearing the justly feared catalog number MRG666, the 12-inch EP spans 31 minutes and features three tracks recorded concurrently with the group’s most recent full-length A Productive Cough, offering an autumnal tableauof dread and decay to complement its LP companion’s springtime visions of rebirth and new possibilities. The title track remixes A Productive Cough’s hardest-rocking selection, foregrounding its ominous strings and swelling organ and featuring a soulful new lead vocal from frequent captain Matt “Money” Miller, while Only a Hobo plucks an oft-forgotten gem from the dusty corners of the Bob Dylan songbook to paint a grim portrait of hopes dashed and potential squandered. Eeriest of all is A Letter Home, which, across nearly 17 minutes and more than 1,200 words, drags the listener along for a harrowing descent into the darkness and proves definitively that this ceremony is no mere monster mash.


Kiran Leonard – Western Culture

Kiran Leonard is a 22 year old musician from Saddleworth, Greater Manchester. Debut album proper Bowler Hat Soup(2014) and follow-up Grapefruit (2016) were both recorded at home, with Kiran playing virtually every instrument himself. Dervaun Seraun (2017), a concept album in five movements inspired by five pieces of literature and arranged for piano, strings and voice, was an ambitious departure from his usual sound. Western Culture now sees him return to the signature sound of his first two records, yet marks a huge sonic progression thanks to the involvement of his venerable live band on record for the first time, as well as being the first to have been made in a professional studio (Old Granada Studios in central Manchester).


Novo Amor – Birthplace

Novo Amor, aka multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Ali Lacey comes from deep in the Welsh mountains. Recording, mixing and producing everything in his home studio, Lacey’s emotive vocals and the sounds he uses, often formed through sonic experimentation, make for fantastically atmospheric songs that are moving and striking. On his debut album Birthplace, the sounds of his home bleed in – the chatter of a party across the street, Bonfire Night fireworks, the seagulls that gather on the building site next door. Even the sound of the late-night recording hours kept to avoid the sounds of construction make their presence felt. The songs cover many theme and thoughts – Repeat Until Death deals with friends experiencing drug addiction, Seneca is rooted in the story of a town in Nebraska that tore itself apart over a dispute over how many horses might be kept in a yard.

LP – Single LP made from recycled vinyl, housed in full-colour printed inner sleeve and full-colour printed reverse board outer sleeve. Includes download card and 8-page 12’’ tracing paper booklet, featuring gold Pantone detail to mirror the effect of the original artwork used on the cover. As using recycled vinyl every record will be unique, no two colours will be the same. All cardboard used is FSC certified.

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The Oscillation – Wasted Space

The Oscillation are back with their sixth and most ambitious album to date, Wasted Space. A meditation on the nature of existence in the face of what can be insurmountable odds, Wasted Space finds The Oscillation painting from the darker shades of the kaleidoscopic scale. “The origins of Wasted Space go back to Monographic in 2016,” muses Demian Castellanos – themastermind behind The Oscillation. “That was a very bleak and heavy record and I really needed to move out of that mindset. Making U.E.F freed me up to write a coherent collection of narrative songs and compositions. Wasted Space is a partial continuation of a journey started with U.E.F., but one that re-incorporates more song-based ideas again.”What’s immediately apparent is that Wasted Space sets it stall well away from the prosaic third-eye tropes that have become orthodoxy. Album opener ‘Entity’ establishes the pace with a focus on the dance floor as much as on the navigation of existence. Fusing muscular grooves with an industrial wall of sound,these are bold steps into wholly new territories. “There’s an irony at play here,” considers Castellanos. “It’s a twisted party song, albeit a party for one.” But what a party it is. The mutant disco is bolstered by the rhythmic call-and-response of ‘Drop’, a track that eschews conventional methods of dance sensibility for more instinctive and primal urges. This is music that calls out to the suitably attuned.

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Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning

Last Building Burning is the product of eight days with producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Wolves in the Throne Room, Boris) in Texas studio Sonic Ranch. Clocking in just over half an hour, the eight-song album sees Cloud Nothings capture their onstage appeal with help from Dunn, who Dylan Baldi describes as “technically minded without relying on technology to perfect the live sound.” In that, Last Building Burning is a return to Cloud Nothing’s sharpest form – the unhinged, feverish, guitar-heavy sound that they explode with onstage – without their early angst. “It’s not an angry record,” says Baldi. “It’s a very joyous thing for me. And it feels so nice to scream again, especially when you know people in the crowd will be screaming along back at you.”

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Peter Holsapple vs Alex Chilton  –  The Death Of Rock

Newly discovered recordings of early solo Peter Holsapple and Like Flies On Sherbert–era Alex Chilton. Liner notes by Peter Holsapple and author / filmmaker, Robert Gordon. Previously unseen photos from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. It’s 1978 at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, TN. Peter Holsapple had rolled into town chasing the essence of Big Star. He hooked up with musician / engineer / friend-of-Big-Star, Richard Rosebrough after approaching, and being turned down by, Chris Bell who Holsapple had hoped might be interested in producing him. Together Richard and Peter started laying down tracks during the off hours at the studio. Chilton meanwhile, was knee deep in the making ofLike Flies On Sherbert, also being tracked at Phillips. He told Peter, “I heard some of that stuff you’re working on with Richard . . . and it really sucks.” Alex promised to come by and show Peter “how it’s done.” The results? Alex’s tracks definitely line up with the chaos found on Flies, while several of Peter’s songs found homes on The dB’s albums (Bad Reputationand We Were Happy There) and on an album by The Troggs (The Death Of Rock retooled as I’m In Control), so not a loss at all. What we have in these newly discovered tapes, is a fascinating pivot point with both artists moving past each other headed in distinctly different directions. Chilton moved toward punk/psychobilly as he began playing with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and produced The Cramps debut, Songs The Lord Taught Us, within a few months of these recordings. Holsapple was off to New York to audition for The dB’s and enter the world of “sweet pop.” Liner notes by Peter Holsapple tell the story of these recordings firsthand and author / filmmaker / Memphian, Robert Gordon, helps pull the time and place into focus. Previously unseen photos included in the package are drawn from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer.

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Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow

ATO records release Dave Matthews Band’s long-awaited new albumCome Tomorrow. Come Tomorrow is the band’s ninth studio release and its first since 2012’s Away From The World, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard 200. Working between tours at studios in Seattle, Los Angeles and Charlottesville, Dave Matthews Band chose to record with several different producers, including John Alagia, Mark Batson, Rob Cavallo and Rob Evans. The cover art for Come Tomorrow is by Béatrice Coron, who creates narrative allegories in silhouette to render archetypal stories.


Insecure Men – Karaoke for One: Vol 1

Insecure Men return with a 10 track covers record, featuring takes on Bruce Springsteen, The Pogues, The Carpenters, Peter Andre et al.

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R.E.M.  –  Live At The BBC

REM grew up with the BBC, and this historic relationship is lovingly celebrated across an incredible collection that beautifully illustrates the career trajectory of one of modern music’s greatest bands. The collection comprises a treasure trove of rare and unreleased live and studio recordings culled from the BBC and band archives. This is a must-have collection for REM fans and an authoritative introduction for newcomers.

9CD – In-studio performances featured in the 8-CD / 1-DVD box set include a John Peel Session (1998), Drivetime and Mark and Lard appearances (2003) and a glorious Radio 1 Live Lounge performance (2008). Live broadcasts include a rough-and-tumble show from Nottingham’s Rock City (1984), the stunning 1995 Milton Keynes Monster Tour (their first after a six-year break), a blistering 1999 Glastonbury headline set and an invitation-only 2004 show at London’s St James’s Church. The DVD kicks off with a sixty-minute intimate retrospective of the band’s legendary performances at the BBC in the Accelerating Backwards film – previously broadcast only in the UK and available commercially for the first time here. Accelerating Backwards also includes revealing interviews with Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, further testifying to R.E.M.’s long, special relationship with the BBC. The DVD also offers a complete 1998 Later….With Jools Holland episode uniquely dedicated to the band, plus TV appearances on Top of the Pops and more.

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For an artist who’s released so much, it’s easy to forget Kiran Leonard is just still 22 year’s old. The Saddleworth-born musician already has an enviable back catalogue, with two home recorded albums and 2017’s ambitious literate concept album, Dervaun Seraun. Kiran’s latest album, Western Culture out next month, is also his first to be recorded in a professional studio, and is a record Kiran describes as, “both more accessible and more peculiar than my other records”, which Kiran Leonard fans will know makes for something really quite peculiar!

Ahead of the release, this week Kiran has shared the video to the latest single from the record, “Unreflective Life”, notable not least for what Kiran describes as, “a nice Bon Jovi solo at the end”. Lyrically as ambitious as always, Kiran suggests the track is what he sees as a total misunderstanding of how we use the internet, “the internet is not about total self-absorption, or attracting users to look in our direction,” says Kiran, “it is a complete paralysis, a disarticulation of the self which is caused by the act of looking outwards and being subsumed by the vastness of the violence we witness”. Musically, there’s a focus and a drive here, perhaps the result of recording with his live band for the first time. As always the track ebbs and flows, clattering from visceral crescendos to lush, intense periods of calm, and that guitar solo really is quite something! Kiran Leonard remains one of the most intriguing artists this planet has to offer, as challenging, rewarding and boundary pushing as ever, the constant re-invention of Kiran Leonard is a wonderful thing to behold.

Western Culture is out November 9th via Moshi Moshi Records.

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He’s already achieved so much that it can be hard to remember Kiran Leonard is still only 22-years-old. The Saddleworth songwriter released his debut album back in 2014, took a giant leap forward with 2016’s Grapefruit and then proceeded to write,“a concept album in five movements inspired by five pieces of literature and arranged for piano, strings and voice”,a move as inspired as it was ludicrously ambitious. This week Kiran has shared details of his upcoming third album, Western Culture, as well as sharing the first single from it, Paralysed Force.

Kiran Leonard: “”Paralysed Force” is about how insecurities you should settle within yourself often get transplanted onto other people you know. Projecting the question towards another allows you to shirk responsibility for your own well being, but all this does is suspend the issue at hand, and prolong an inevitable falling back. “There’s also a sort of compulsiveness, a wanting to be suspended, that’s involved in it all, because sometimes it feels good not to have to think about yourself. I suppose the song’s about being caught between those two points — basically, that even if you know you’re being irresponsible (and possibly daft), there’s still a desire to give yourself up.”

Western Culture is the first album Kiran has ever recorded in a professional studio, as well as his first recorded with the involvement of his live band, and he has suggested it is, “both more accessible and more peculiar than my other records” – on the evidence of Paralysed Force you can certainly see where he’s coming from. Discussing the track, in his usual inimitable fashion, Kiran has suggested it is about, “how insecurities you should settle within yourself often get transplanted onto other people you know.” Musically it is as close as Kiran ever gets to a straight up indie-rock song, it’s still angular and awkward sure, however in the melodies and rhythms at times there’s an unquestionably hooky and approachable quality. With a title like Western Culture, it’s inevitable that this is a record that glances out to society, Kiran has suggested it looks to the power of words to shape the discourse, how, in his own carefully chosen comment, “the words we use have a funny sort of position, both as a feeble opponent to real-life violence, and as the critical foundation for that very violence.” With our own words, we’d strongly urge you to explore the fascinating work of quite possibly this countries most intriguing new musical voice.

Kiran Leonard releases brand new album Western Culture on 19th October 2018 on Moshi Moshi Records:

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.


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.


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.


Thanks to Pitchfork,

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“DEREVAUN SERAUN” is a piece I wrote a couple years back in five movements for voice, piano and string trio. Each movement is written about a different piece of literature, exploring the value I see in each work and the impression it has made on me, and there is nothing more to it than that. The pleasure of books – of good verse and stories and ideas – is a very simple thing, and I felt that some lofty unifying theme for the entire piece would be a betrayal of that belief. I think that when a work resonates with you it is an instinctive response to something. You can be taught to understand a challenging book, but not to feel affection for it; I think a lot of conversation around art, especially around literature, sometimes forgets this. In my experience, the art I like the most, irrespective of its ‘difficulty’, is the art I can advocate most directly and plainly, and about which I can say: “I read this piece and now I do not read or think in the same way that I did before”, or: “This is a story that I could not explain to someone; I do not understand it word-for-word, yet I feel like innately I understand the whole, and that the whole spoke to me”. This is a piece about five books that I like and why I like them.” – Kiran Leonard



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Kiran Leonard doesn’t strike us as a man who would know what to make of a day off. Despite still being at University studying Spanish and Portuguese, and only releasing his monumentally ambitious LP, “Grapefruit” last year, he’s already on his way back with a brand-new eight track cassette release coming out next month on Very Bon. This week he’s released the latest offering from that record the track, Cracked Globe.

Cracked Globe is in many ways typical of Kiran Leonard; that is, it sounds quite accessible, but was recorded in a manner that’s so unique and challenging, we barely even understand how it works. Discussing the process behind the track Kiran explains, “I wrote this song one morning at the house of a good friend in Whalley Range. he’s got all these old acoustic guitars. I set to lining four of them up against a wall and tuning each to a big chord.


I played the guitars like a big harp and they were awesome and resonant”. Thankfully, it’s not just completely bonkers, it also sounds great; the guitars sound tremendously rich and resonate, crackle and echo as if multi-tracked, atop them Kiran croons a raw, emotive and unpolished vocal. Oddly it might just be most accessible song he’s recorded to date. This sort of purposeful creativity is exactly the sort of boundary pushing music Kiran has always thrived at, and the world might just be a better place if more people’s minds were as fascinating as Kiran Leonard’s.

Monarchs Of The Crescent Pail is out next month via Very Bon.

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.
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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)


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