Posts Tagged ‘Midlake’

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Midlake will be back with “For The Sake of Bethel Woods”, their first new album in nearly a decade, on March 22nd via ATO/Bella Union. Their fifth album, it marks the first time the band have worked with an outside producer, John Congleton, who also engineered and mixed the album.

The album is named for the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival and the town is where flautist/keyboard player Jesse Chandler grew up. The album cover is an illustration based on his father at the original Woodstock. “At age 16 my father and his friend hitchhiked from Ridgewood, NJ to the Woodstock festival in 1969,” says Chandler. “This image of him with his hand to his face appears in the 1970 Woodstock documentary, as the camera pans across the crowd during John Sebastian’s set. My father actually ended up moving to Woodstock, NY – where I grew up – in 1981. For me, the picture of that kid, my dad, forever frozen in time, encapsulates what it means to be in the throes of impressionable and fleeting youth, and all that the magic of music, peace, love, and communion bring to it, whether one knows it at the time or not. (I think he knew it).”

The first single from the album is “Meanwhile…,” which is a typically lush Midlake creation and a wink towards the band’s absence. “’Meanwhile…’ is a song referencing the time in between what transpired leading up to our hiatus in ‘14, and what inspired us to reconvene in ’20,” says singer/guitarist Eric Pulido. “The former being an unhealthy and unsustainable place that called for pause and the latter a serendipitous visit from Jesse’s late father (Dave Chandler, depicted on the album cover) in a dream encouraging him to reunite with the band. Everyone had their respective experience during the uncertain time apart culminating in a confident and celebratory return to form.”

It’s been almost a decade since we’ve heard from them, but now Midlake are set to return with their unique take on folk rock. ‘For the Sake of Bethel Woods’ is their first since 2013’s ‘Antiphon’, and drops next year on Bella Union. The Texan outfit are known for mid-2000s classics including ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’ and their sound which mixes Laurel Canyon folk with indie rock, psychedelia, and chamber pop.

Loss and hope, isolation and communion, the cessation and renewal of purpose. Timeless and salient, these themes echo throughout the fifth album from Midlake, their first since “Antiphon” in 2013. Produced to layered, loving perfection by John Congleton, “For the Sake of Bethel Woods” is an album of immersive warmth and mystery from a band of ardent seekers, one of our generation’s finest: a band once feared lost themselves by fans, perhaps, but here revivified with freshness and constancy of intent.

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Simon Raymonde never really meant for Bella Union to become a music industry success story.

When he started the label back in 1997, it was nothing more than a vehicle for his artistic endeavours with Cocteau Twins. Bruised by dismaying music business experiences, Raymonde and bandmate Robin Guthrie made a brave, autonomous move – starting a label with which to put out their own records.

Then, in a classic indie-label-starts-with-laughable-disaster moment, Cocteau Twins split up. Six months after we started the label, Liz called up and said she didn’t want to do the band anymore. The intention of the label was to put out our own music – it was never to sign other bands, to be an actual record label; we hated record labels! We had such a terrible experience with 4AD, and then another terrible experience with a major.

Raymonde knew if his fledgling record label wasn’t going to be dissolved before it had got going, he needed to become an A&R, and sign some bands. The band [Cocteau Twins] had an undeniably difficult relationship with 4AD. Then we made a huge mistake and signed with Universal – with Mercury – in 1994.

We started the label, got the logo done, letterheads, an office, staff… and then we had no band.

Nineteen years later, we have his willingness to do so to thank for standout records from the likes of John Grant, Explosions In The Sky, Laura Veirs, Midlake, Beach House, Father John Misty, Ezra Furman, The Walkmen, The Flaming Lips, PINS, Money and Lanterns On The Lake.

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Of course, you can also add to that list Fleet Foxes – whose self-titled 2008 debut and 2011 follow-up, “Helplessness Blues”,have reached a level of commercial success all-too-rarely enjoyed in the independent label sector.

Getting a BRIT Award nomination for John [Grant, 2014] and Father John Misty [2016] – that’s huge when you think how this label started.

It’s a real challenge to break a new band – much more than it was five years ago. Yeah, we’ve got John Grant, Beach House, Father John Misty, Explosions in the Sky and several artists like these who sell 20,000 to 50,000 records. And that’s decent. I’m very happy. But those are all bands who are now in their 30s.

The challenge is, how do we break a band in their 20s who haven’t put three albums out back in the age when CDs were still selling and you could get blanket press? I fear it’s not easy.

There’s brilliant bands everywhere. Especially Fleet Foxes, That band has been massive for Bella Union. I probably wouldn’t be here without them, and the signing, to keep the whole thing going, was pivotal. I was about to give up the label before I heard that song, “White Winter Hymnal”.

I’d gone to Oya Festval in 2007. We’d had Midlake’s record [The Trials Of Van Occupanther], which came out in 2006. I was so upset this record hadn’t sold a million copies. I still think it’s a classic album.

We’d sold 30,000 copies in the UK, which was good, but it wasn’t what it deserved. I was thinking, if only I had some money in the bank, even something small – £10,000 extra to do some posters or some more marketing.

In those days our marketing was literally: put the record out. There was no money for anything beyond a press and radio campaign that we did in-house with Duncan and Cool Badge.

It was the same with Fionn Regan [who released Mercury-nominated album The End Of History on Bella Union in 2006]; we got to that 30,000 level but we didn’t have the cash injection to get it above 50,000. It was so frustrating.

So I was at Oya Festival, miserable, thinking, ‘I don’t think I can do this any more.’ My first marriage had gone all wrong and I’d just gotten divorced. I was at a low ebb.

Claus who runs Oya had invited some people including me to his house for a get-together but I was really not feeling sociable at all, quite out of sorts, sat overlooking the fjord – I thought, okay, I’m going to go home, tell everyone at the label, that’s it.

I got back to my hotel room and got an email from this friend called Trey, who booked Midlake and Beach House in the US. He said, ‘You’ve got to listen to this MySpace link. I just saw this band’s third ever gig – I think you might like it.’

I pressed play and within ten seconds, I was like, ‘I HAVE to sign this band. This is the one.’ I wrote to the band on Myspace, from my hotel room and it turned out that Robin the band’s singer/writer was in Norway with his brother and sister – despite living in Seattle. His ancestors are Norwegian. A really weird coincidence.

I explained what Bella Union was and that I used to be in [Cocteau Twins], and I was encouraged that he knew who I was. He was flying to London the next day, and that’s where we met the next week. We got on really great.

I offered him a worldwide deal, even though we didn’t really have anything going on in the US at the time. I also offered to manage him! Whatever I could do, you know. Then it went a bit quiet – a month went by after I’d made him an offer, and I’d heard a whisper that he was talking to Sub-Pop. He lives in Seattle, so it made sense he would be speaking to them.

I put 2 and 2 together and realised something was going wrong, and that I needed to do something about it. Eventually, he wrote me and said: ‘Listen, we’ve had a worldwide offer from Sub-Pop and I think we’re going to do it. I wanted to let you know about it first.’

I immediately wrote back, without self-editing, with what I felt. I said: ‘I get it. I’d probably do the same thing in your shoes. Why wouldn’t you? It’s an iconic label, one of the best, round the corner from your flat. But just think about it for a second. Over here, Sub-Pop don’t quite have the setup. Who’s going to meet you at the airport in London or Paris? If you sign to Bella Union, or any label with a similar setup around Europe, you’ll have a home here.’

It was true. The next day, I got the contract back from the band, signed, for Europe. It was musician to musician, not as a guy cynically trying to get him to sign. That’s where sometimes, I win, and sometimes I lose.

 


Bella Union also signed The Czars, 

Yeah. I’ve worked with John Grant since 1998; the year after the label started. In the days when people used to use DATs, he sent me one of a Czars demo and it was… awful.

I remember writing back – he seemed really nice in the letter – saying, ‘Your voice is good, really interesting. But the music’s not. Maybe send me some stuff another time.’ A few months later, another DAT, and some of it was pretty good, but the band still sounded pretty rubbish. I told him. He was like: ‘Yeah, I know. I’m trying to do something about it.’

Then I saw them play in Denver. The band were good, not great, but he had something about him. He was this big guy with this fragility and an amazingly powerful voice.

In those days, we had a beautiful recording studio which Cocteau Twins had on the river in Richmond. It was Pete Townshend’s studio and, well, ‘cos it was in Richmond, the rent was fucking ridiculous – like £60,000 a year.

The band had broken up by then, so there was no income to pay for the studio. Pete was a very generous guy [and let the band owe him rent]. It was the last days before we were kicked out, really.

I offered to bring The Czars over and to produce their album in that studio. That’s what I did; I played a lot of the instruments, got very hands on with it. I really enjoyed the process. I think John did too, in his own way.

Then we made another album, and I went to Denver to produce that one. I always knew that it was all about John. The Czars made a third album, then John was starting to have some problems with the band – they weren’t improving at the rate we needed them to improve, but his songwriting was getting better and better.

I should say, we were selling no records at all at this point. The Czars first three albums probably sold 5,000 copies each. But I just knew that John would make an amazing record at some point.

Then he got into trouble – he had big problems with drink and drugs and stopped making music. He was translating Russian medical text books into German and living in New York, I think; he’s an incredible linguist. He speaks about 10 languages fluently.

He was miserable as sin. Then the Midlake guys, God bless them, heard he wasn’t well – rumours were that he was on suicide watch in a hospital, I think – and they said: ‘You need to get back to Texas. We’ll look after you. We’ll get you well. Come and stay with us and make a record.’

They literally put him up in their houses for six months to a year. Going in the studio in the evening after they’d finished their own record during the day time. My part in this is very minimal, really. I believed in him and thought he’d make a great record, but I wasn’t the one looking after him. Midlake did it all off their own back. And then John delivered this amazing record, “Queen Of Denmark”.

The catalyst to the whole John Grant success story is Phil Alexander, the editor of Mojo, who had come to my office in Hackney. I was playing him the latest Midlake album and talking to him about getting on board with it – he’s a massive fan. And as he was about to leave, I said come back and let me play you this thing by John Grant from The Czars. I played him two unmixed tracks and he was completely blown away.

A month later, I was speaking to Phil about something else and I said, By the way, how did that interview with John go? And he was like, ‘It was unbelievable – it was a four hour phone call. I couldn’t ever transcribe it. It was like a therapy session. It was too intense, too personal.’

But two months later, Phil made Queen Of Denmark Album Of The Month in Mojo. That support was huge – for John Grant to get a five-star, two-page review with a hand-painted illustration on the second page… when no-one knew who he was. .

We are lucky enough to have two limited and exclusive coloured vinyl pressings of the long out of print Jonathan Wilson albums Gentle Spirit and Fanfare. If you purchase any of the Bella Union titles you’ll also get a free sampler CD and booklet, once again exclusive to Rough Trade

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20 years doing ANYTHING in music seems faintly absurd, let alone running a record label, something my previous 20 years making music mostly with my band Cocteau Twins certainly did not prepare me for. What I do know is that i have always wanted to run this label from the perspective of an artist and was always advised that this wasn’t possible to make work over a long and sustained period. So, even if this all goes pear shaped tomorrow, I think we have done a great job to still be in business after 20 of the most tumultuous years in the music industry’s history, and this I am sure is in great part down to the team I’ve been lucky enough to work with at the label throughout these dark times. Simon Raymonde – Bella Union.

BNQT is made up of members of Midlake, Band of Horses, Travis, Grandaddy and Franz Ferdinand.

In December 2015, we profiled Banquet, a Denton-based band made up of four members of Midlake along with members from Band of Horses, Travis, Grandaddy and Franz Ferdinand. This week their first single, “Restart,” dropped and their full debut album is set to be released on April 28th.

The release, titled Volume 1, marks the first time we’ve heard from the members of Midlake in a while; their last LP came out in 2013. Midlake vocalist and guitarist Eric Pulido was inspired to start BNQT — the spelling has been changed to distinguish them from another band with a similar name

BNQT is the new indie super-group conceived and led by Eric Pulido of Midlake and featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy with backing from other Midlake members McKenzie Smith (drums), Joey McClellan (guitar) and Jesse Chandler (keys).

Pulido was about to become a first-time father, and it seemed like the right time to embark on a new chapter in music as well. He envisioned a group that would channel The Band, for which multiple singers came together to create a new sound. Since Midlake had recorded and performed with artists such as Beth Orton and Jason Lytle before, he thought it would be a natural progression. His Midlake bandmates Joey McClellan, Jesse Chandler and McKenzie Smith agreed and joined up. But don’t mistake BNQT for Midlake 2.

The addition of other famous singers has built anticipation for Volume 1. Pulido wrote and sang on two songs, and the rest of the 10-song album features two songs each from Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. The tracks were recorded at Denton’s Redwood Studio, which is owned by McClellan and Smith.

When Pulido reached out Lytle, Healy, Bridwell and Kapranos about the possibility of collaborating, he was careful not to express too many expectations for the project or how it would be made.

“I kind of gave them a blank slate of, ‘We can be as little or as much for you. We can write with you, we can just be your backing band, we’ll help produce things. You can come to Denton. You can do it remotely,’” Pulido says. “I wanted to leave it open to make it as easy and accommodating as possible.” In the end they used a combination of in-person meetings and email to trade rough demos.

“It was a myriad of responses and opinions about what we were doing,” Pulido says. “The guys who came to [Rosewood Studio], Jason and Fran, it was really nice to at least get a great start on the songs with their involvement and production help.”

Everything BNQT recorded made it onto Volume 1, but Pulido is already excited at the thought of making a second record.

“We’ll see,” he says. “We definitely look at it as an organic thing where if these guys wanted to do more, if other people want to join in and do stuff, it could be a bigger album or a whole new set of singers. We’re figuring it out as we go. … It was really out of a labor of love and joy of creating music with people we respect and love.”

In the meantime, BNQT are focusing on promoting their first album. This will likely include live shows at some point, but Pulido says it will take time to coordinate everyone’s schedules.

“They have their own respective bands, respective families and all that. Whatever we do, it will be special and we want all the guys involved.”

BNQT’s Volume 1 will be released April 28th on Dualtone in America and Bella Union in Europe.

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Metal Box was the band’s second album, originally released on 23rd November 1979. Metal Box is issued in a square metal tin (CD and LP) (the 1979 original was issued in a round metal film canister) with an embossed PiL logo. Include a 72 page booklet together with an exclusive poster, art-prints (LP version) and postcards (CD version). With all lyrics written by John Lydon ‘Metal Box’ was recorded with original PiL members Keith Levene and Jah Wobble. Original drummer Jim Walker had left, to be replaced by a succession of drummers. ‘Metal Box’ came out less than a year after PiL’s debut ‘Public Image: First Issue’ yet it was nothing like its predecessor. Things had changed, and so had PiL. While outside pressures mounted PiL channeled their energies (negative and positive) into a record that would set them apart back in 1979, and indeed today in 2016. Whether it be John’s powerful and passionate vocals; Keith’s wailing guitar and melodic synths; Wobble’s sub-disco reggae basslines; or the crashing rhythm that holds it all together, ‘Metal Box’ has many strengths. The album was originally released as 3 x 45rpm 12″ singles, housed in a metal ‘film’ canister. As made by ‘The Metal Box Company’ in London’s East End; hence the name. The deluxe edition includes rare and unreleased mixes from the recording sessions, along with B-sides and BBC sessions, plus a live recording from a now legendary unplanned show at Factory Records Russell Club in Manchester arranged on the day of a Granada TV appearance in 1979.

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Limited copies come with a bonus CD of Dan Carey dubs / mixes / re works of album tracks. Toy return with a new 10 track album Clear Shot on Heavenly Recordings. Splitting their time between Tom Dougall and bassist Maxim Barron’s place in New Cross and Dominic O’Dair’s flat in Walthamstow, where they set up a makeshift studio and laid down the early album demos, Clear Shot began to take shape in the first half of 2015. Taking inspiration from an esoteric blend – Radiophonic Workshop, Comus, the scores of Bernard Herrmann, John Barry and Ennio Morricone Fairport, Coum, Acid House, Incredible String Band, The Langley Schools Project, The Wicker Man soundtrack and even the direction behind Electric Eden, Rob Young’s book about the development of folk music in the U.K. – by the time they entered Eve Studios in Stockport in October 2015 with producer David Wrench, the band were clear about the direction the album should take. The result is their most coherent and confident album to date; lushly cinematic, shot through with their most expressive melodies thus far and coated with a ‘sheen’ courtesy of Chris Coady (Beach House, Smith Westerns, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), who mixed the album in LA with some of the reverbs and vocal processors used on Purple Rain, across the 10-tracks strands of ideas appear, sink and re-emerge in an almost modal jazz manner. Clear Shot sees Toy working both in bigger colours and more minutely crafted detail, achieving an altogether higher level of artistry than before

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Midlake celebrate the 10th anniversary of ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’ with a deluxe reissue via Bella Union on 180 Gram gold vinyl, complete with a B2 pull-out poster, handwritten lyrics and previously unseen photos. The cover artwork has been reimagined in a fittingly flushed, hallucinatory painting by neo-impressionist (and pavement-scorching skateboarder) Brian Lotti. The original album is accompanied by a special bonus 7″ featuring two previously unreleased tracks, the plaintive rolling lament of ‘The Fairest Way’ and the revelatory psychedelic swirl of ‘Festival’, two tracks recorded before original vocalist Tim Smith departed the band. In 2006, Van Occupanther was hailed as an instant classic and over the course of the next year proved to be the band’s commercial breakthrough. While their debut, 2004’s ‘Bamnan and Slivercork’, had drawn acclaim alongside comparisons to Grandaddy and Radiohead, Midlake looked further afield and deeper within for the follow-up. Suffused with a romantic yearning for the simpler life, this was a record pitched between 1871, 1971 and somewhere out of time: between Henry David Thoreau and Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’, between 1970s Laurel Canyon thinking and a longing for something more mysterious. Rich reserves of wistful melody, dreamy horns, rolling guitars and plaintive pianos reflect its elusive, idiosyncratic narratives: a couple long to be robbed by bandits so they can start anew, an outcast scientist ponders his pariah status, a woman chases a frisky deer, a river leads who knows where yet leaves you little choice but to follow… Famous admirers included Thom Yorke, Beck, The Flaming Lips, Paul Weller, James Dean Bradfield, St Vincent, actor / skateboarder Jason Lee and The Chemical Brothers, and the album went on to secure high placings in the end-of-year polls. Since then, their influence has perhaps been felt in the breakthrough of many a band or singer at one with the stuff of beards, bucolic yearning and blissful West Coast harmonies, from Fleet Foxes to Band of Horses, The Low Anthem, Jonathan Wilson, Matthew E White and beyond. Not that Midlake stood still to lap up the praise: a band acutely attuned to nature’s shifts, they embraced change. In 2010 they ventured into darker psych-folk thickets for The Courage of Others and backed John Grant on his celebrated breakthrough album, ‘Queen of Denmark’. When Tim Smith subsequently departed, guitarist / singer Eric Pulido stepped up to the lead vocal role for 2013’s freshly exploratory ‘Antiphon’. Since then, Pulido and various Midlake members have embarked on a new musical project with a cast of all-stars including members of Grandaddy, Franz Ferdinand, Band of Horses and Travis, for an album due for release next year. All of this serves to reminds us what fertile seeds were sown with ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’: a modern classic, made of vintage craft and timeless magic.

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Third World Pyramid is the first album that was fully recorded and produced at Anton’s new Cobra Studio in Berlin . It is the 15th full length release from the Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded from early 2016. Featuring Ricky Maymi, Dan Allaire, Joel Gion, Collin Hegna and Ryan Van Kriedt from the band. Also Emil Nikolaisen from the Norwegian band Serena-Maneesh joins the band on this album, plus vocal performance Tess Parks and Katy Lane.

Iggy pop live album

Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression album, a collaboration with co-writer and producer Joshua Homme from Queens Of The Stone Age, is his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album for many years. On 13th May 2016, Iggy Pop brought his Post Pop Depression live show to London’s revered Royal Albert Hall and almost tore the roof off! With a backing band including Joshua Homme and Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age and Matt Helders from the Arctic Monkeys, Iggy delivered a set focused almost entirely on the new album plus his two classic David Bowie collaboration albums from 1977, The Idiot and Lust For Life. Fans and critics alike raved about the performance and this will definitely be remembered as one of Iggy Pop’s finest concerts.

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8CDs, Collectors Box Set with 16 Page Full Colour Booklet with Background Liners and Rare Images.
Exhilarating live performances across 4 decades of Bob Dylan masterpieces. Since coming to prominence in 1962, Bob Dylan has never ceased to create and innovate, his remarkable songwriting being matched by the quality and quantity of his live performances. This 8-disc set gathers several historically important sets, all originally recorded for broadcast on various different stations, including WBAI-FM, WNBC-FM and others. They find him playing intimately and in front of huge crowds, with material ranging from protest folk to rock’n’roll, and are accompanied here by background notes and images.

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Mapping The Rendezvous is the fifth studio album from Courteeners and follows the spectacular success of 2014’s Concrete Love and the subsequent tour that saw the band sell out venues all across the country before playing a record breaking seven nights at the Manchester Apollo last Christmas

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Psych-pop fuzz freaks The Lovely Eggs tell it like it is with their new single Drug Braggin. The Lovely Eggs are back again with another fuccked up, fuzzed out freak single . Released on eye-watering psychedelic swirl vinyl. The limited edition 7” sludge pop mind-melter sees the pair (Holly Ross and David Blackwell) take on their latest pet hate: drug posers. Sick of hearing people crowing about how many drugs they’ve done on a night out or at a festival, The Lovely Eggs retort with a big fuck-you to the pricks with a typically surreal insight in to their crazy world. The B-Side On the Line is another new song, which was recorded with an electronic voice unit with a strange disembodied American accent after Holly was diagnosed with a vocal nodule. This brand new material represents yet another twist and turn in The Lovely Eggs‘ musical odyssey, cementing their reputation as one of the most exciting, innovative and genuine bands on the UK underground scene. In keeping with their other recent releases, Drug Braggin is accompanied by artwork and video by cult underground artist and baboon keeper Casey Raymond. The artwork has been created so that it seems never ending as it is joined at every corner in a self repeating pattern, keeping the viewer trapped inside The Lovely Eggs self contained world. It shows Holly and David having a mental meltdown as a result of too much exposure to drug braggin’.

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Wyatt At The Coyote Palace is a book of essays and lyrics with two CDs included. It gets its name from an abandoned apartment building behind Kristin’s studio that her son Wyatt spent the majority of this recording session exploring.

With the full studio album on CD, photographs and artwork by Dave Narcizo and Kristin Hersh. Lyrics for each song stories and essays by Kristin Hersh to accompany each track

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The dream of the Seventies was alive in Denton, Texas, home to the quintet behind this meticulously layered evocation of the foreboding, psychedelic soft rock of their youth and the craftsmen of a century earlier.