Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

PHOENIX – ” Identical “

Posted: August 22, 2020 in MUSIC
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Phoenix

The French indie-poppers Phoenix have returned with “Identical”, their first new single since 2017’s Ti Amo. Phoenix have returned with “Identical”, their first new single in three years. The indie-poppers has been recording at Motorbass Studios in Paris, and if “Identical” is any indication, they’re more exuberant than ever. The song uses club-ready drums and slowly-building synthesizers to induce even the most sedentary of butts to start wiggling. The emotiveness of the song makes it perfect for a certain kind of pop movie soundtrack, and indeed, it’s already landed a place in Sofia Coppolas’ upcoming On the Rocks.

Phoenix have been recording at Motorbass Studios in Paris, and if “Identical” is any indication, the band is more exuberant than ever. The song uses club-ready drums and slowly-building synthesizers to induce even the most sedentary of butts to start wiggling. This marks the fifth collaboration between that director and this band, in a partnership that dates back to the use of “Too Young” in 2003’s Lost In Translation. (Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars is also married to Coppola.) The accompanying video was directed by another Coppola — that would be Roman — who previously helmed visuals for “Funky Squaredance”, “Long Distance Call”, and “Everything Is Everything”. Here, he chooses to keep it simple; some men just want to light a shirt on fire and watch it burn. In On the Rocks, Jones plays a woman who fears her husband (played by Wayans) is having an affair. Enter her dad (played by Murray), a womanizer who helps Jones investigate if her husband really is unfaithful. Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars is married to Coppola and hence their music is often in her films.

Both song and video for “Identical” are dedicated to Phoenix’s late collaborator, producer and Cassius member Philippe Zdar.

Old Flowers

On her third album for both Fat Possum and Loose Records, Courtney Marie Andrews has pulled in to one package all the song-writing skill, vocal prowess, and musicianship displayed on previous albums, into one career defining statement. A break-up record for sure, though due to Courtney’s extraordinary storytelling gifts, more of a modern day
coming-of-age tale of love won, love sustained, and unfortunately, love’s inevitable dissolution.

To celebrate, I’d like to share some personal sentiments regarding these songs…on ‘Old Flowers’:

You can’t water old flowers. Yes, you fall in love, you make mistakes, and so do they. You run through blackberry fields in the summer of your youth, dream in passenger seats gazing past towns and fields, imagining a future life where everything works out. I fell head over heels in love at nineteen. The kind of love where you call up your best friend and say, “I think I’ve found my soulmate.” The pull towards that first true love is strong. It consumes you, makes you question your own dreams.

We taught each other, grew up together, we were family. We fit just right, for a time. Then one day, after a long and rocky nine-year road, life changed and became a complicated mess too hard to untangle. We couldn’t get our love back, no matter how many dreams that shadowed this hard truth. We grew resentful, selfish, harbouring past mistakes and holding them up like armour from every blow. We grew up and our paths diverted.

On New Year’s Day, 2018, a great horned owl dropped dead at my exes’ feet in my mother’s yard. It felt like a daunting omen, ushering on change for the both of us. We were distraught. We couldn’t afford the taxidermy, so we placed it in a big blue plastic garbage bin. Now it felt so cheap, that mystic creature in a plastic coffin. That’s how love feels sometimes – like we don’t serve it the ending it deserves.

The omen was true. That year, I started to see the woman I could be, the woman I wasn’t yet. Anytime I felt like myself, I was alone and wandering, and I knew that was a sign that it was time for change. New Year’s Day 2019, I said goodbye to my first true love and moved across the country. Losing someone you spend every day for nearly a decade with is intense. We talked in our dreams. I knew where he was, even before I entered a place. He’d always be there if I had a feeling. Humans are connected in unexplainable ways.

I was writing a lot after we broke up as a healing technique, preserving each memory like an emotional archaeologist. Late one night, I woke up from a dream where I was searching for him, my ex, at a carnival. It was so vivid. I woke myself up to write a song on my piano. The next morning, he reached out to me for the first time in months. We went out, had a drink, caught up, and he told me that the hardest part about our separation was a reoccurring nightmare where he searched for me at a carnival. In that moment, I knew, humans have ways of connecting beyond words and touch. I truly believe that. We had the same dream, without seeing each other for months.

Even with all the mystic symbolism that year presented, this is an age-old story I can’t make up. We fall in love, we grow up, we change, and they don’t change with us. ‘Old Flowers’ is about heartbreak. There are a million records and songs about that, but I did not lie when writing these songs. This album is about loving and caring for the person you know you can’t be with. It’s about being afraid to be vulnerable after you’ve been hurt. It’s about a woman who is alone, but okay with that, if it means truth.

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This was my truth this year – my nine year relationship ended, and I’m a woman alone in the world, but happy to know herself.
These songs came to me alone, late nights in Bisbee, Lisbon, Nashville, and London. Sometimes I’d just cry and sing, and a song would come out. I drank too much wine while writing this record, lit too many candles. You could say this was my attempt to summon the muse, but that’s bullshit, because she was just standing there naked looking me in the eyes. So I told her the truth.

This is my story of the most heart-breaking, but soul-revealing, year of my life. I drove myself mad. I drove to the smoky mountains just to drive back. I danced with a Portuguese boxer and cried on his shoulder in a Fado cafe. I did everything an artist is “supposed to do.” But at the end of the day, beyond all the romance, these songs are my truth. I think they might be yours too.

Released July 24th, 2020

Deer Tick guitarist/vocalist John McCauley unveiled a studio version of Courtney Marie Andrews‘ “Rough Around The Edges.” Andrews returned the favor by sharing her take on McCauley’s “Goodbye, Dear Friend.”

Courtney Marie Andrews is currently on tour as support for Deer Tick. Last Tuesday, Andrews joined Deer Tick for a cover of Jennifer Warnes & Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong.” Courtney originally recorded “Rough Around The Edges” for her 2018 studio album May Your Kindness Remain, while Deer Tick’s original “Goodbye, Dear Friend” can be found on 2010’s The Black Dirt Sessions.

Courtney Marie Andrews‘ acoustic cover of Deer Tick’s song, “Goodbye, Dear Friend”.

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Released May 2nd, 2019
Performed by Courtney Marie Andrews.
Written by John J. McCauley III.

‘May Your Kindness Remain’ is a year old today. It has been a magical and wild journey of a year. Thank you to all who’ve been a part of it.

After a decade spent at the height of the music industry, touring solo and with large pop bands, she realized her desire for a place to come home to. She found that in a small rural town in the deep forests of Washington State. There, she posted up at a local bar, slinging drinks, basking in the simplicity and reflection it allowed.

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Thank you to Rolling Stone magazine for naming my song “May Your Kindness Remain” the number one country/americana song of the year. I write music with the intention of connecting with myself and others through words and feelings, and I’m so happy to know this song has resonated with so many folks this year.

releases May 17th, 2019

Pedro the Lion has always been David Bazan, but it took a long time to get back there. In August 2016, during what he now recognizes as his lowest point, Bazan was touring the country alone in an aging minivan and found himself in his hometown of Phoenix, AZ. In need of a break from the road, he spent a night off at his grandparents’ house instead of driving on to San Diego. Before leaving town the next morning, after realizing that even the most familiar places can become unrecognizable, Bazan gave himself the gift of a quick detour past the house he grew up in, and on the way, experienced a breakthrough – one that would lead him both forward and back to another home he had built many years before.

From the beginning, Pedro the Lion didn’t work like the bands Bazan had played drums in, where each player came up with their own parts. Instead, like scripting scenes of dialogue for actors to play with, Bazan recorded and arranged all of the skeletal accompaniments for his obsessively introspective lyrics and spare melodies. Each player would then learn their parts and, together as a band, they brought the skeleton to life. While bandmates played on a few recordings, Bazan often played all or most of the instruments himself.

“I found so much joy working this way,” Bazan remembers. “It came naturally and yielded a feeling and a sound that couldn’t have existed by any other process. At the same time, I was also aware that not everyone wanted to play in a band where the singer wrote all the parts and might perform them on the record. Someone even suggested it might not be a valid approach to having a band in the first place. Being insecure and wanting to find camaraderie, I became conflicted about my natural process.”

By 2002, after recording Control, the high rate of turnover in the band finally caused Bazan to ditch his “natural process” in favor of a collaborative writing process. When, after a couple more years, this move did nothing to stabilize turnover, Bazan was perplexed. In November 2005, Bazan decided to stop doing Pedro the Lion altogether.
Ironically, Bazan didn’t see “going solo” as a chance to revert back to his original process of writing and playing all the parts. For the next decade Pedro the Lion felt off limits, even forgotten, like a childhood home Bazan had moved out of. He pushed forward with releasing solo albums & relentless touring in living rooms and clubs, through every part of the US and beyond, sometimes with a band, but mostly on his own. It took a toll on his family and more acutely on himself. By the summer of 2016, he still hadn’t found the personal clarity or the steady collaboration he’d been seeking and was at the end of his rope.

“I had abandoned my natural way of working in the hopes of creating space for a consistent band to write with…and it hadn’t worked. So I got a rehearsal space, mic’d up drums, bass, and guitar, and really leaned into my original process again. It immediately felt like like home. Before long I realized it also felt like Pedro the Lion.

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In June 2018, with Bazan on bass, vocals, and arrangement writing, Erik Walters on guitar and backing vocals, and Sean Lane on drums, Pedro the Lion went into Studio X and Hall of Justice with producer Andy Park to create Phoenix, the first new Pedro album in 15 years.

The songs themselves are the result of mining your past for who you are now. On opening track “Yellow Bike,” Bazan encapsulates a core ache he’s been exploring since 1998’s It’s Hard to Find a Friend with the line:

My kingdom
For someone to ride with

Phoenix also deals with having to be better to yourself in order to be better to others on “Quietest Friend,” and harkens back to Control’s “Priests and Paramedics” with a story about EMTs facing a gruesome scene, and storytelling as coping mechanism, on “Black Canyon.” It bears witness to both what was around and what was inside, with the signature kindness and forgiveness that lightens Pedro the Lion’s darkest notes.

The result is a twisting, darkly hopeful introspection into home and what it means to go back, if you ever can. It is rock and roll wrapped in tissue paper, its hard edges made barely soft. Every melody is careful, a delicate upswing buoyed by guitar lines that hold each tender feeling together like string before ripping them apart to see what’s inside. It is an ode to the place he still loves despite how alien it can appear to him now. It is the story of a life from the beginning, but not a linear one. This life is a circle, and Phoenix goes back to that first point, to show that when we are looking for home we’ll eventually run into it again, whether it’s in the desert, in a rehearsal space, or on a stage.
released January 18th, 2019

This is Courtney Marie Andrews‘ fourth record, “No One’s Slate is Clean.”
released December 6th, 2010, It’s near Impossible to pick a favorite track. This albums is stellar from start to finish. Do yourself a favor and listen to this album. Each song flows into the next in a logical, touching way, and there’s a large-scale building to (what I feel is) a climax.  a perfect snapshot of an age full of imperfections. Incredibly beautiful melodies, pro arrangements, and raw honesty – the marriage of simple things that birth complex emotions.

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All songs written and performed by Courtney Marie Andrews.

Courtney Marie Andrews: acoustic guitars, electric guitars, vocals, vocal harmonies, synth, string arrangements for, “Canals of Amsterdam” and “Songs for Tourists.”

Ethan McCracken: electric guitars, synth, vocal harmonies on, “Bumper in the Hail,” and string arrangements for “Canals of Amsterdam” and “Songs for Tourists.”

Tim Mechling: piano, rhodes, organ, and string arrangements for “Unbalanced Suns.”

Alex Stoops Sabel: bass

Luke Knezevich: drums, percussion

Additional Musicians:
Chris Testa: percussion
Patrick Austin: violin
Jared MacFarlane: violin
Clifton P. Antoine: viola
Brad Hawkins: cello

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Pedro the Lion  have released “Model Homes,” as the second single off their forthcoming album Phoenix, out January. 18th, 2019, through Polyvinyl Records. ‘

“Model Homes” follows October’s “Yellow Bike,” the first single off Phoenix. It lies in the same propulsive vein as that previous track, finding David Bazan newly re-energized and ready to face the world after giving up his most famous musical mantle for over a decade. “A redwood tree, properly starved for resources, might easily mistake itself for a saguaro cactus and learn to feel at home in the desert,” Bazan said in a statement, as inscrutable as ever.

Though songwriter Dave Bazan fronts the enigmatic rock band Pedro the Lion, his emotionally charged narratives, eye for telling detail, and mournful voice have more in common with J.D. Salinger’s “Nine Stories” or Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” than with the usual lyrical slant of popular music. Bazan is a gifted storyteller, weaving parables of spiritual conflict, suburban ennui, and personal surrender into magnetic, well-crafted songs.

“Model Homes” is taken from Pedro The Lion’s new album, Phoenix, out January 18, 2019.

 

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David Bazan’s been reliably releasing music and touring under his own name for nearly a decade; his most recent record, Care, came out last year. But before that, he was Pedro the Lion. He retired the name in November 2005, and after that, it felt off-limits: For Bazan, that designation belonged to a band, even if he was its only constant. Although Bazan was writer, arranger and principle player on all the Pedro the Lion records, he performed with a full band on tour. His self-titled material, however – whether recent synth-based pop experiments or acoustic reflections on big-picture questions – was often played solo.

“Yellow Bike,” the first single from Phoenix.The song begins with Bazan recollecting a childhood Christmas scene in his warm, worn tone. The titular gift under the tree makes his heart race, a kick drum thump animating the excitement. Over insistent bass and ascending guitar, he connects those childhood bike rides to an adulthood on the road. Its lived-in video, rendered in washed colors and grainy textures .

For both fans and Bazan himself, there was a sense of resolution in the reclamation and return to that name, which explains the excitement last year when he announced a handful of Pedro the Lion tour dates, a full U.S. tour. And now, there’s Phoenix, the first new Pedro the Lion record in 15 years. Out January 18th, Bazan recorded the album joined by Erik Walters on backing guitar and vocals and Sean Lane on drums.

Phoenix comes out January. 18th via Polyvinyl Records.

Courtney Marie Andrews, May Your Kindness Remain

The layers of singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews’ May Your Kindness Remain are vast as the music is enchanting. Her sixth record is easy to fall for, with her dusky soprano rising atop an easy-going, yet sultry band. Her groove is reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt, particularly with the way she slides around the spectrum of Americana: country, folk, gospel and something else you can’t quite put your finger on. Lyrically, Andrews is in touch with her own loneliness, kindness and empathy and that shines through songs like “I’ve Hurt Worse,” “May Your Kindness Remain” and “Two Cold Nights in Buffalo.” The inspiration for these songs came from meeting people on her tours and realizing that everyone is suffering from the same types of sadness. May Your Kindness Remain is an accurate, passionate account of facing problems directly and dealing with depression head-on.

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Two of the 10 songs from the new album Courtney Marie Andrews “May Your Kindness Remain”,  astonishingly beautiful new album, have the word kindness in the title. This is not a coincidence. The idea of kindness of empathy, of giving unto others, of needing the same from others — is as central to Andrews’ music  Even when it’s not what she’s singing about, it’s what she’s singing about.

One song on May Your Kindness Remain is about an old, broken-down, permanently messy house and about the couple who used to live there. It’s clear that they’re not still together — “There’s a bed upstairs if you’re ever in town / Or if you need a place to get your feet back on the ground” — but there’s still a fondness, a feeling of togetherness. She sings that the house is their home, that it belongs to both of them, and it feels like a powerful act of generosity, a gift of a song. It’s about how that warmth can outlast the end of a relationship. It’s just lovely.

There are some staggering love songs on May Your Kindness Remain, and there are also songs about needing love, about requiring that sort of empathy. “Lift The Lonely From My Heart” is about depression, about needing someone else’s help to get through it: “Pining, mining for a feeling I’m not finding / Looking to you to tell me what I’m worth.” And then there’s a song like “I’ve Hurt Worse” about knowing that empathy is not coming back to you: “I like you when I have to call you a second time / It keeps me wondering if you are mine / Mother says you love who you think you deserve / But I’ve hurt worse.” Andrews herself calls it a sarcastic song, but I hear a note of longing in there, of self-recrimination. Andrews is working within a country-music tradition that’s long prized a brassy toughness, but even at her hardest, that’s not really what she’s about. And that, in its way, is why a song like that cuts even deeper.

The empathy extends, too, to people beyond Andrews’ relationships, to people she might not know. “Two Cold Nights In Buffalo” is a song about getting stranded in an edge-of-oblivion upstate New York town, taking in all the misery around you, and wondering how shit ever got this bad. It gets a little on-the-nose when Andrews starts wondering how this place ever got this bad — “Is that the American dream dying?” — but it hits hard when she takes in the individual scenes of misery, extrapolating from a glance: “A snowy prison out on Main Street, heaters hang from the cells / A bum searches for shelter, so cold he dreams of hell.” And on “Border Song” she imagines the life of a Mexican immigrant trying to get through the desert, dreaming of a better life that’s still a hell of a lot harder than what most of the people reading this website will ever have to endure: “Stand outside that hardware store / Don’t matter the job they need me for.”

Courtney Marie Andrews’ music isn’t country the way “country” is commonly understood now. It’s country the same way that, for instance, the Black Keys’ music is metal, which is to say that it’s something that could’ve been called country in 1971 even if the tag no longer applies. Her voice has a deep twang, the kind that sticks to you. Her voice is huge, warm, expressive. She’s not a soul singer, but she’s got that soul-singer balance of fire and control, the two elements working together rather than against each other. Occasionally, when she’s really cutting loose, she gets some gospel in her voice. The album has some hazy psychedelic tremolo guitar and some sweaty blues-rock organ. She’s an Americana singer, I guess, but she doesn’t have the sleepy reverence that I (maybe wrongly) tend to associate with Americana singers. Her music is heavy and direct and alive.

Andrews is only 27, but she’s already a veteran. She released her first album when she was a teenager, and she’s been steadily cranking out music for about a decade while moving from Arizona to Seattle to Los Angeles. For a while, she was touring as a keyboardist and a backup singer for Jimmy Eat World. And for a while after that, she was bartending whenever she wasn’t touring. That changed in 2016 with the release of Honest Life, the album that finally got her noticed by the kinds of people who notice really good Americana albums. (I still slept on it.) If Honest Life was Andrews’ break, then May Your Kindness Remain is her big reach.

The new album belongs absolutely to Andrews. She sang and played guitar on every song, and she wrote all of them except for the one she co-wrote with a couple of dudes. She also co-produced it with Mark Howard, a veteran studio type who’s been doing mixing and engineering for people like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits for many years. It’s not a huge leap beyond Honest Life, but it’s got the exact right level of musical lushness. Andrews’ voice dominates, but it doesn’t overpower, and the arrangements shimmer like mirages around her. And for someone like me, someone who’s been shamefully ignorant of all the music that Andrews has been making for all these years, it’s a head-spinning discovery, a warm and gorgeous and fully formed piece of work. The kindness isn’t just in the lyrics. It’s in the way music like this can nourish you, can make your insides glow. An album like this can be a refuge.

May Your Kindness Remain is out on 23rd March on Fat Possum Records/Mama Bird Recordings.

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thanks to Stereogum