Posts Tagged ‘Matador Records’

“Mike Hadreas has confidently dropped an intense album of brilliantly realised pop songs. As the quivering vocals mirror that synthesiser bouncing from from one ear to the other, the opening few seconds of opener Whole Life announces “Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” to the world.

The nom de plume of US singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas, Perfume Genius continues to flourish in his element as a genre-defying, expectation-destroying catalyst for modern pop.

No Shape, Perfume Genius’s remarkable fourth album, marked a bold leap for Mike Hadreas—stuffed with eye-popping pageantry, panicky swarms of violins, and incandescent, sun-drenched pop. Its follow-up, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, instantly overwhelms the senses in much the same way. Hadreas hasn’t lost his flair for the cinematic, and Set My Heart sways from one musical style to another so casually you’ll feel the urge to stop and catch your breath.

That makes for a rewarding sonic journey, but underpinning Hadreas’s fearless versatility is striking self-analysis and vulnerability. Opener “Whole Life” is a glimmering 1960s waltz, but it’s also a grim reckoning with the passage of time. Likewise, while Hadreas’s vocals and a tiptoeing harpsichord initially command attention on “Jason,” his intimate, colourful recounting of a one-night stand, they elevate the song to something greater. Instantly accessible and technically impressive, Set Your Heart on Fire Immediately quickly earns your admiration, but its raw emotional weight is what keeps you coming back.

While many artists in Hadreas’ field openly struggle with their transition out of the prototypical “young pop star” motif, Perfume Genuis pushes the envelope as he always has, and continues to bring truth, emotion and raw sincerity to everything he does.

From Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” released on May 15, 2020 on Matador Records.

Car Seat Headrest Makes an Album for Arenas, But Loses Itself in the Process

When Car Seat Headrest began their opening set at Madison Square Garden in February 2019, they opened with “Can’t Cool Me Down,” a then-unreleased song that built up to a cheeky refrain: “Hey we’re not supposed to be here!” But, by all accounts, the indie rock band has long sounded like an arena act—complete with booming drums and squealing guitar intros and outros.

By many measures, Car Seat Headrest’s new album Making a Door Less Open, their fourth for Matador Records and 12th overall, sounds like the sort of record that could play well in large rooms like Madison Square Garden. It combines the ambitious live techniques they’ve honed over the last few years with newer electronic elements, like those on the revamped “Nervous Young Inhumans” from 2018’s Twin Fantasy redux. Making a Door Less Open may be an album seemingly made for arenas, but, unlike their past life-affirming, hands-in-the-air material, it doesn’t care to play to the nosebleeds.

That ambition is obvious on album opener “Weightlifters,” a song that puts the arena mentality front and center: “Put your heart on the target / They expect you to scream / Music blasts through the market / It’s the sound of the machines.” But instead of being like Dave Grohl and going on some lengthy diatribe about computers killing rock ‘n’ roll, Toledo embraces those sounds—glowing synths abound on “Weightlifters,” where hip-hop drum machines provide the backbone on skeletal lead single “Can’t Cool Me Down.”

In some cases it works. “Weightlifters” and “Can’t Cool Me Down” sound fresh despite lacking the cathartic choruses that made the band’s first three Matador releases, particularly Teens of Denial, so damn loveable. They represent a successful sonic experiment. “Life Worth Missing” offers a nice middle ground between the new and old Car Seat Headrest as shimmering synths build to a rousing finish.

The more traditional Car Seat Headrest songs are actually the less interesting bunch on Making a Door Less Open. “There Must Be More Than Blood,” a track that features the same squealing guitar jams that were prevalent between songs on their 2018 tour, doesn’t really go anywhere across its seven minute run time. “Martin” glimmers with a clean, upbeat acoustic guitar, and it could be the most approachable song Toledo’s ever written (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it still leaves something to be desired).

Worst of all is “Hollywood,” a “how did this make the album?!” head scratcher on what could’ve been their mainstream breakthrough. Knowing Car Seat Headrest’s discography, you might assume the cliché guitar riffs and incredibly bland anti-Hollywood lyrics (“Hollywood makes me want to puke” is unforgivable) are some sort of tongue-in-cheek dig at alt-rock radio, but it works only about as well as Arcade Fire’s Everything Now lowlight “Chemistry,” another song that unsuccessfully played with irony. Each line throughout “Hollywood” is horrendous, from “Sick of drinking / Sick of drugs / Sick of fucking” to “They don’t talk about the 12 year olds on pills waking up in beds of big producers.”

The lyrics throughout Making a Door Less Open aren’t as indefensible as those on “Hollywood,” but they’re rarely as relatable as anything they’ve released prior. Gone are the lines like “You have no right to be depressed / You haven’t tried hard enough to like it / Haven’t seen enough of this world yet / But it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.” Instead, Toledo’s songwriting is streamlined too much, which has adverse effects on the album itself. With fewer refrains and memorable melodies to latch onto than ever before, the lyrics, which find Toledo grappling with fame and deteriorating relationships, revert to well-worn rock ‘n’ roll territory, not really offering anything new.

All that said, Toledo is frequently frustrated with listeners, particularly critics, ingesting his lyrics as autobiographical, as this New York Times profile suggests. He’s currently attempting to occupy a new gasmask-wearing alter-ego named Trait, referencing his frankly unlistenable comedy-EDM/rap side project with drummer Andrew Katz called 1 Trait Danger. But it’s tough to figure out how the two projects interact on Making a Door Less Open: The concept—could this be a concept album?—is simply vague at best, made even more confusing with at least two separate tracklists.

There’s a very real chance this would all make more sense with the new, deconstructed live set the band has been talking up for quite some time. But because of the coronavirus-induced concert shutdown, we may have to judge the album solely on the recording rather than the theatrical live set it was apparently made for. And that’s a shame, because Making a Door Less Open isn’t as memorable as its predecessors on its own: Toledo’s vision as a whole never feels truly fleshed out, representing the first legitimate misfire in the career of one of this generation’s most talented indie-rock songwriters.

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Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas is one of modern pop’s true boundary-pushing juggernauts. Each of his four albums—but particularly the last two: 2014’s Too Bright and 2017’s No Shape—rattled with sonic magnificence and lyrics of deep trauma, the fierce reclamation of space and the transcendence of love and intimacy. Hadreas is fresh off a collaborative dance piece with choreographer Kate Wallich and The YC dance company, and he’s now poised to bring that vulnerable physicality to his first Perfume Genius album in three years: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. While No Shape saw him lean into bold, adventurous art-pop, Set My Heart sees him embrace American rock ‘n’ roll glory. It still preserves his enthralling tenderness and idiosyncratic pop palette, but it adds torched guitars and classic rock melodies. Songs like “Describe” are led by a dreamy, prevailing calm while still shaking the ground with guitar distortion. It’s Hadreas at his most abstract and carefree.

While I haven’t previously delved into the albums of Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas), I read his profile/interview in The New Yorker and was immediately intrigued, so I went straight to listen to Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, his new record; the song that grabbed me the most was “On the Floor.” It has a steady, side-to-side groove, the kind that might bring you to the nearest dancefloor on a cool evening.

The lyrics however drip with longing, and a touch of fear. Hadreas sings of big feelings for someone, presumably big love, and begs, “take this wildness away,” as the instruments pare down for a moment, leaving only the desperation in his voice before the groove picks back up. 

From Perfume Genius‘ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” released on May 15th, 2020 on Matador Records.

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Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, the fifth studio album by Perfume Genius, boasts the best album title of 2020. There’s a visceral quality to it that not only paints a picture, but beautifully marries the urgent earnestness and theatrical camp that has defined his decade-long career. The album contains some typically transcendent musings on love and self and acceptance, this time painted with colours of rock and country – two traditionally hyper-masculine genres, confidently embodied and beautifully muddied by one of the most enigmatic artists working right now.

Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas is one of modern pop’s true boundary-pushing juggernauts. Each of his four albums—but particularly the last two: 2014’s Too Bright and 2017’s No Shape—rattled with sonic magnificence and lyrics of deep trauma, the fierce reclamation of space and the transcendence of love and intimacy. Hadreas is fresh off a collaborative dance piece with choreographer Kate Wallich and The YC dance company, and he’s now poised to bring that vulnerable physicality to his first Perfume Genius album in three years: Set My Heart on Fire Immediately. While No Shape saw him lean into bold, adventurous art-pop, Set My Heart sees him embrace American rock ‘n’ roll glory. It still preserves his enthralling tenderness and idiosyncratic pop palette, but it adds torched guitars and classic rock melodies. Songs like “Describe” are led by a dreamy, prevailing calm while still shaking the ground with guitar distortion. It’s Hadreas at his most abstract and carefree.

From Perfume Genius’ new album ‘Set My Heart On Fire Immediately” released on May 15th, 2020 on Matador Records.

Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest have shared “There Must Be More Than Blood,” the latest song from their forthcoming album Making a Door Less Open. The song is a lengthy one, clocking in at around seven-and-a-half minutes. The new album will be out next week and the band has shared another new song off of it. It follows the singles “Hollywood,” “Martin,” and “Can’t Cool Me Down.” Below, find the official song and acoustic version, performed by Will Toledo’s alter ego Trait, the album’s protagonist, who was wearing a mask before it was cool. The chorus: “There must be more than blood that holds us together/ There must be more than wind that takes us away/ There must be more than tears when they pull back the curtain/ There must be more than fear.”All of them are good. Spoiler alert: The whole album is good! But we’ll have more to say on that later. In the meantime, here is one more good song to pique your interest.

Making a Door Less Open is out May 1st (via Matador) and marks the first studio album from Toledo and co. since the release of Twin Fantasy in 2018. Last year, the band also released the live album Commit Yourself Completely.

The band’s leader, Will Toledo, planned to conduct business for his entire album cycle in a modified gas mask. He planned this (you guessed it), before the pandemic. “It was supposed to be sort of an exotic alternative to reality — like a challenge, I guess, to normal life,” Toledo said. “And now it just feels a lot more pointed in a way that I wasn’t planning on and don’t really take any pleasure in.” That new album, “Making a Door Less Open,” is a very different type of record for this indie-rock band with such a fervent fan base.

Steve Gunn released Acoustic Unseen on Matador Records, a new EP of intimate acoustic versions of songs from his critically acclaimed latest album, The Unseen In Between. Accompanying the news of the release is a short documentary titled Unseen Anthology which opens to a scene of Gunn performing outside one of London’s thirteen green cab shelters, diminutive sheds which were originally introduced in 1875 to provide shelter for cabmen – and also to keep them out of the Victorian pubs.

The Unseen In Between is befitting of its title; a mysterious and mesmeric edgeland offering glimpses into the underbelly of a half-remembered neighbourhood, and the trials and habits of its outcasts. It could be argued that the view is too familiar for some, causing them to wander and grow listless. Upon looking deeper however, many will find solace in the oblique tales and tragedies. Those relatable human moments, which can be found right under your nose….” . The EP features a stripped down perspective on the stately set and disclosing the songs’ rich individual elements in Gunn’s dexterous and lyrical guitar style. Steve says: “After being on the road with the band since January, I wanted to spend an afternoon capturing the songs from The Unseen In Between as I originally wrote them, with just me and my acoustic. Mid-year, I went back to the great Strange Weather Studio in Brooklyn, and played through the songs in their most basic form. It felt good.”

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Directed by The Mitcham Submarine and edited by James Harman, the documentary weaves together footage from touring, live sessions, official and unofficial music videos – including a breath taking session for Toutpartout in a transformed convent in Ghent, on the road footage captured on a Fisher-Price camera by Steve and his band, and acoustic videos filmed across London, including a Cecil Court bookshop. Taken together, it’s an engrossing live document of an artist in need of little more than a guitar and his voice to conjure a transfixing atmosphere, and a perfect visual companion to the EP.

released October 15th, 2019

Steve Gunn – Guitar & Vocals,
All songs written by Steve Gunn

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Muzz, is the new project of Paul Banks (Interpol), Josh Kaufman (producer/multi-instrumentalist and one third of Bonny Light Horseman), and Matt Barrick (drummer of Jonathan Fire*Eater, The Walkmen, and Fleet Foxes’ touring band), have announced their self-titled, debut album, due out June 5th on Matador Records.

The phrase “Interpol side project” should rightly send a shiver down your spine, and yet somehow Muzz (the new band from Paul Banks plus producer Josh Kaufman and The Walkmen’s Matt Barrick) is something special. The trio went to high school together and that lived-in feel permeates the music they make together. “Bad Feeling” is their first release and combines a gorgeous guitar tone with jazz flourishes and heavenly backing vocals.

Muzz was born out of longstanding friendship and collaboration. Banks and Kaufman have known each other since childhood, attending high school together in Spain before separately moving to New York. There, they independently crossed paths with Barrick while running in similar music circles. They kept in touch in the following years: Barrick drummed in Banks + Steelz and on some of Kaufman’s production sessions; Kaufman helped on Banks’ early Julian Plenti solo endeavour; various demos were collaborated on, and a studio was co-bought. The self-titled debut album, written, arranged and performed by all three, is dark and gorgeous, expansive and soulful. No matter the sonic direction, Muzz goes there effortlessly and with maximum emotional charge.

This is a new band. Now they have announced their self-titled debut album and shared another song from it, “Red Western Sky,” via a video for the single Muzz is due out June 5th via Matador and features two previously shared singles, “Bad Feeling” and “Broken Tambourine.” Check out the “Red Western Sky” video tracks below.

Their first song, “Bad Feeling.” It was a little more lush and chill than the post-punk assault of Interpol and was one of our favourite songs. Then they shared another new song, “Broken Tambourine,” via a video for the track.

Banks and Kaufman have known each other since they were teenagers and both have also worked with Barrick before. Muzz’s earliest recordings date back to 2015. All three members wrote, arranged, and performed the album. And while Banks is usually the sole lyricist in Interpol, here all three members contributed to the lyrics.

Josh has more training as a theory musician while Paul comes from a different perspective,” Barrick says about the process in a press release. “You never know how Paul’s gonna approach a song, lyrically and melodically, so it’s always unusual and exciting. Everyone is open to everyone else’s ideas. I think three is a great number of people for a band. We all had a big hand in everything.”

Kaufman had this to say about the band’s sound: “The music has this weird, super removed vibe but is also personal and emotional at the same time. If something felt natural in a simple way, we left it. I’d never heard Paul’s voice framed like that—a string section, horns, guitars—we know none of that is visionary but it felt classic and kind of classy.”

The band’s name stems from the word Kaufman used to describe the band’s sound, or as the press release puts it, “the music’s subtle, analog quality and texture.”

Summing up the album Banks says: “Ultimately, the music speaks for itself. We have a genuine, organic artistic chemistry together. It’s partly a shared musical taste from youth, as with me and Josh, but then it’s also the souls of my friends that resonate with me when expressed through music. I think it’s cosmic.”

Interpol (which also features Daniel Kessler and Sam Fogarino) released a new EP, A Fine Mess last year also via Matador. It followed their 2018 album Marauder. Outside of Interpol, Banks has released two solo albums (2009’s Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper and 2012’s Banks and one album with RZA as Banks & Steelz (2016’s Anything But Words).

Muzz’ self-titled album out June 5th, 2020 on Matador Records.

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Muzz

Paul Banks of Interpol has formed a new band, Muzz, that also features Matt Barrick (The Walkmen) and Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman). On Tuesday they shared a new song, “Broken Tambourine,” via a video for the track. The single is out now via Matador Records. Interpol have such a specific sound that it’s also nice to hear Banks branch out with his solo and side projects.

Earlier this month, we were introduced to a new indie supergroup called Muzz when a song called Bad Feeling quietly appeared online. Matt Barrick (the former Walkmen drummer who also plays in Fleet Foxes’ touring band),  Josh Kaufman, the multi-instrumentalist who’s played with everyone from the National to Hiss Golden Messenger to his current project Bonny Light Horseman. The members all go way back — Banks and Barrick have known each other since they were teens, and also played together with Banks’ RZA collab Banks & Steelz — and they finally got together and formed a band themselves.

The song Broken Tambourine – in a nutshell – is about sadness and joy, and the uneven distribution of those elements. When I started thinking about imagery to accompany the song, a lone and lonely moon man came to my mind. I wanted to show his trials and tribulations, his aloneness and his wonder. And I felt that would nicely amplify the thinking behind the lyrics.
I contacted my friend and sometime collaborator Griffin Frazen to help me bring the idea to life. His vision and style are immaculate and we jived immediately. It was a blast refining the ideas and the world of the moon man in collaboration with Griffin.

Previously Muzz shared their first song, “Bad Feeling.” It was a little more lush and chill than the post-punk assault of Interpol . Not much more is known about the band, such as whether or not the singles are taken from a forthcoming EP or album. Banks and Kaufman have known each other since they were teenagers and both have also worked with Barrick before. Muzz’s earliest recordings date back to 2015.

With “Bad Feeling” being billed as something of a soft opening, today we’re getting the real introduction to Muzz by way of the new single called “Broken Tambourine.” It’s also their first single to officially come out via Matador. “Bad Feeling” was already a promising preview of this new band, and “Broken Tambourine” is probably even better.

“Broken Tambourine” begins with a sombre piano introduction courtesy of Kaufman, before building into a brooding thing of hushed, meditative grandeur. Banks intones over piano and clarinet, while Barrick’s percussion rumbles in the distance. You can certainly hear a bit of each of their projects colliding here; in a way, it kind of feels like Banks’ response to a sound we might normally associate with the National.

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Car Seat Headrest (aka Will Toledo and band) are releasing a new album, Making a Door Less Open on May 1st via Matador Records. Now they have shared another song from it, “Martin,” via a lyric video for the track. Previously Car Seat Headrest shared the album’s first single, “Cool Me Down.” 

Car Seat Headrest’s last album, Twin Fantasy, came out in 2018 via Matador. It was a re-imagined version of an album also titled Twin Fantasy that Toledo self-released to Bandcamp in 2011. But his last album of completely new material was 2016’s Teens of Denial. In 2019 the band also released the live album Commit Yourself Completely.

As well as Toledo, the band features Andrew Katz (drums), Ethan Ives (guitar), and Seth Dalby (bass). Making a Door Less Open had a somewhat unique recording process. In a press release it is billed as a collaboration between Car Seat Headrest and 1 Trait Danger, a Car Seat Headrest “electronic side project consisting of drummer Andrew Katz and Toledo’s alternative persona, ‘Trait.’” The album was recorded twice, first with guitars, bass, and drums and then secondly with purely synthesized sounds. Then in the mixing process the two recordings were combined.

Toledo had this to say about the album on the band’s website: “This album was made from January 2015 to December 2019, starting as a collection of vague ideas that eventually turned into songs. I wanted to make something that was different from my previous records, and I struggled to figure out how to do that. I realized that because the way I listened to music had changed, I had to change the way I wrote music, as well. I was listening less and less to albums and more and more to individual songs, songs from all over the place, every few days finding a new one that seemed to have a special energy. I thought that if I could make an album full of songs that had a special energy, each one unique and different in its vision, then that would be a good thing.

Andrew, Ethan, Seth and I started going into the studio to record songs that had more finished structures and jam on ideas that didn’t. Then I would mess with the recordings until I could see my way to a song. Most of the time on this album was spent shuttling between my house and Andrew’s, who did a lot of the mixing on this. He comes from an EDM school of mixing, so we built up sample-heavy beat-driven songs that could work to both of our strengths.

“Each track is the result of an intense battle to bring out its natural colors and transform it into a complete work. The songs contain elements of EDM, hip hop, futurism, doo-wop, soul, and of course rock and roll. But underneath all these things I think these may be folk songs, because they can be played and sung in many different ways, and they’re about things that are important to a lot of people: anger with society, sickness, loneliness, love…the way this album plays out is just our own interpretation of the tracks, with Andrew, Ethan and I forming a sort of choir of contrasting natures.

“I think my main hope for the world of music is that it will continue to grow by taking from the past, with a consciousness of what still works now. Exciting moments in music always form at a crossroads -a new genre emerges from the pieces of existing ones, an artist strips down a forgotten structure and makes something alien and novel. If there is a new genre emergent in our times, it has not yet been named and identified, but its threads come from new ways of listening to all types of music, of new methods of creating music at an unprecedented level of affordability and personal freedom, of new audiences rising up through the internet to embrace works that would otherwise be lost, and above all from the people whose love of music drives them to create it in the best form they possibly can. Hopefully it will remain nameless for some time, so it can be experienced with that same newness and strangeness that accompanies any and all meaningful encounters with music.”

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Car Seat Headrest return with ‘Making a Door Less Open’ on Matador Records this 1st May! Limited pink vinyl available! . The band Car Seat Headrest has announced his new album. The follow up to 2016’s Teens of Denial, Alongside the news, Car Seat Headrest, aka Will Toledo, has shared the album’s lead single “Can’t Cool Me Down”. The album sees Toledo adopt a new persona, known as ‘Trait.’

The new Car Seat Headrest album sounds like quite the trip. Will Toledo recorded it twice — once as Car Seat Headrest and again as his alter ego, an electronic musician named “Trait.” “Can’t Cool Me Down” is the first taste and it’s immediately clear things are a little different to normal. Gone are the epic rock landscapes crafted with guitars and endless drums and in their place is a sparse but magnetic ‘80s electro-pop tune.