Posts Tagged ‘Red House Painters’

NOTHING – TIRED OF TOMORROW

Philadelphia’s Nothing return with ‘Tired Of Tomorrow’, their beautifully profound follow-up to 2014’s widely-acclaimed ‘Guilty Of Everything’. Recorded over the course of a month at Studio 4 with Will Yip (Circa Survive, Title Fight), ‘Tired Of Tomorrow’ is a modern, nihilistic take on the triumphant fuzzed-out guitar rock of the 90’s, replete with huge hooks and brooding melodies. Much like the events it’s based on, the album displays an unparalleled balance of opposites and contradictions, rife with sweet-and-sour themes, downcast grooves, infectious choruses, and blissfully expansive washes of sound. With ‘Tired Of Tomorrow’, Nothing have worked the deepest influences of their youth and maturation into a confident, memorable album that is sure to soothe old wounds while simultaneously opening up new ones. Recommended if you like: Smashing Pumpkins, Ceremony, Merchandise, My Bloody Valentine, Diiv and Radiohead.
LP – Rough Trade Exclusive – 300 Copies on Grey Vinyl with Download.
LP+ – Standard Black Vinyl with Download.

YAK  –  ALAS SALVATION

Just over a year since their first single ‘Hungry Heart’ was released – a period that saw their unpredictable gigs and electrifying clutch of studio recordings earn them a reputation as the most exciting and talked about new act in the UK – Yak have channelled their ferocious live experience into their debut album ‘Alas Salvation’. Recorded with Pulp’s Steve Mackey, it’s a wired and ambitious record that refuses to be pigeonholed. Yet beneath all the head-spinning chaos lies a beating heart of great melodicism and a hyperactively eclectic and inventive approach to making.

EAGULLS  –   ULLAGES

Rough Trade exclusive with a Zine – Procrastination Compilation George Mitchell – Limited to just 500 Copies. Releasing their much-acclaimed self-titled debut-album in 2014, the following 12 months saw the fiercely independent Leeds-based band go from strength to strength. Highlights of the year included taking both Later… With Jools Holland and The Late Show With David Letterman in the U.S. by storm, sharing the stage with the likes of Arcade Fire and Pharrell while scooping a major prize at the NME Awards and playing across the globe at some of the world’s most renowned festivals including Coachella, Latitude, Field Day and Reading / Leeds. Retreating to their rehearsal space to begin work on their second album, ‘Ullages’ (an anagram of the band’s name) gradually took shape over long days and nights in the converted Catholic Church in Leeds. Intent on breaking new ground, drawing out the textured melodies that lay discreetly amongst the speed, intensity and heady fuzz of their debut and creating an altogether different record, ‘Ullages’ is a near perfect distillation of their agenda; a record that recalls the shimmering opulence of the Cocteau Twins and the melancholic majesty of Disintegration / Pornography-era The Cure.
LP – Black Vinyl with Download.
LP+ – Limited Green vinyl with Download. 500 Copies only for the UK.

JOHN DOE  –  THE WESTERNER

John Doe is a founding member of the seminal L.A. punk rock band X and the country spin-off band The Knitters. The album features ten new tracks from Doe with guest appearances from Chan Marshall of Cat Power, Debbie Harry of Blondie, Cindy Wasserman of Dead Rock West and Tom Brosseau. ‘The Westerner‘ was produced by Howe Gelb (Neko Case, M. Ward), Dave Way (Fiona Apple) and Doe. The album’s artwork was designed by Shepard Fairey and Aaron Huey to support Native American rights via a campaign called Protect The Sacred, with additional photography by Jim Herrington.
LP – With Download.

RED HOUSE PAINTERS –  OLD RAMON

Released almost concurrently with head Red House Painter Mark Kozelek’s solo venture ‘What’s Next to the Moon’ (a selection of deconstructed AC/DC covers), ‘Old Ramon’ allows the rare opportunity to hear an artist both then and now. Recorded in 1997, ‘Old Ramon’ languished in the limbo of label fallout, finally to be rescued and released by Sub Pop in 2001. Meanwhile, though, it seemed Kozelek had moved on, releasing a flurry of projects with nary a look back, making ‘Old Ramon’ almost seem like an afterthought. But what a lovely afterthought it is. The trademark features of the Red House Painters are all here: the songs are long and meandering, the guitars seesaw languidly, the drums plod, dissonant harmonies moan and Kozelek’s olive-oil voice seeps around everything. The best tracks include the light and airy ‘Wop a Din-Din’, an homage to Kozelek’s cat; the dark and beastly ‘Byrd Joe’ and the understated ‘Cruiser’.
LP+ – Limited Double Vinyl with Download.

PUMAROSA –  CECILE

Limited beautiful White Vinyl 12″ with Download. London five-piece, Pumarosa are a band who assembled from unexpected and varied quarters. Isabel met drummer Nick at a rehearsal for a new band in a rundown Homerton pub and when no one else showed up the pair formed a guitar-and-drums Punk duo and began writing and rehearsing in the basement. After moving to a warehouse in Manor House, they met Henry, Tomoya and Neville and began a period of intensely hot rehearsal in a 10′ x 10′ chipboard room. In the summer of 2015, the band was offered a residency in the cavernous disused cinema of an Italian surrealist, situated within the cliffs of Calabria. Scraping together a van and driving non-stop to Italy, the band worked on new material in beguiling forty degree heat, developing further their expansive sound. It was also in Italy that they settled on the name Pumarosa: in part reflecting Isabel’s Chilean roots, but also the lurid-looking jungle fruit of the same name. In September 2015 Pumarosa released debut single “Priestess’, produced by Mercury-nominated Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Bat For Lashes, Toy) via Chess Club / Mom + Pop (US). Zane Lowe on Beats 1 had the world’s first play and within three days ‘Priestess’ was the second most blogged about song worldwide.

THE BIG MOON – CUPID

Limited 7″ only. The Big Moon release a new single ‘Cupid’, their first through Fiction Records. It was produced and mixed by Catherine Marks (Foals / Wolf Alice), and follows their two acclaimed singles to date, ‘Sucker’ and ‘The Road’. It has been an exciting introductory year for Juliette, Fern, Soph and Celia of The Big Moon. Releasing their first recordings to widespread acclaim in 2015, the band have been busy selling out their shows across the UK, and performing to expansive audiences on high-profile support tours with the likes of The Vaccines, Ezra Furman and their new label mates The Maccabees. The band return with another bullet of a track that heightens their already sky-high appeal. ‘Cupid’ is everything that The Big Moon have already promised and more. A track full of punch, verve and a knowing swagger, capped by vocalist Juliette Jackson’s wry snarl of a delivery, and her bandmates pin-sharp harmonies. It’s a smart and confident next step forward.

BRYDE  –  EP1

Exciting new London solo-artist Bryde releases her debut EP, simply entitled ‘EP1’ via Seahorse Music. The release contains previous singles ‘Wait’ and ‘Help Yourself’ alongside two brand new tracks (‘Nectar’ and ‘To Be Loved’) which have already been making an impact at her live shows around the country. Earning comparisons to the Sharon Van Etten, PJ Harvey, Jeff Buckley and London Grammar, her powerful vocals, sharp, evocative lyricism and searing guitar tones have won plaudits from the likes of NYLON, The 405 and The Line Of Best Fit, with the latter declaring Bryde’s heady concoction as “tearjerk folk-pop”. Limited to 500 copies on transparent light blue vinyl.

CAT’S EYES –  TREASURE HOUSE

If Cat’s Eyes self-titled debut was grown in the dark, then ‘Treasure House’, their second, is born in light. If the nocturnal interiors of Cat’s Eyes were a cult flick viewed in smudgy black and white on cathode ray, then ‘Treasure House’ takes everything into the great outdoors and shoots it in Technicolor on wide silver-screen; an old school blockbuster, of the kind they no longer make. This is the third album by Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan, previous albums include Cat’s Eyes self-titled 2011 debut and last year’s European Film Award awarding wining soundtrack to Peter Strickland’s film, ‘The Duke of Burgundy’.

ULTIMATE PAINTING – LIVE AT THIRD MAN RECORDS

Ultimate Painting is a young, yet already distinguished UK duo comprised of Jack Cooper and James Hoare. As the story goes, these two spent time touring together with Cooper’s band, Mazes, supporting Hoare’s band, Veronica Falls. A fateful friendship developed and, to make it quick, demos were recorded and swapped, which all eventually led to their debut seeing release on Trouble In Mind. The project has been so thoroughly adored for its uncomplicated, beautifully calm approach to VU-style riff-making and loose-but-biting vibes that the follow up, ‘Green Lanes’, was released a mere ten months later. Needless to say Third Man Records are so glad they carved their way through the great land of Nashville, TN. Recorded direct-to-tape, ‘Live at Third Man Records’ is an impeccable document of English rock ‘n’ roll. The band is in top form here and their set consists of the finest material from the band’s first and second albums, ‘Ultimate Painting’ and ‘Green Lanes’ respectively, with a handful of extended jams featured here. This live record is a must own for fans of the band, not to mention anyone smitten with mellow guitar magic that absolutely explodes into some true, stately mayhem.

DEATH AND VANILLA  –  DEATH AND VANILLA EP

12″ Blue Vinyl EP / CD digipack. The first release for the Swedish Psychedelic dream-pop band, their self-titled EP caught the attention of French label ‘Hands In The Dark’. They originally released EP in 2010 on CD an extremely limited edition run of 100 copies. The EP will be reissued on blue vinyl to match the cover alongside the ‘From Above’ 7″ and their self-titled debut long player.

CLINIC  –  INTERNATIONAL WRANGLER  Reissue

Clinic’s long-awaited debut album Internal Wrangler fleshes out the sound the group crafted on their self-released EPs, and it also adds a few new twists. Though eerie, punk-tinged songs like “The Return of Evil Bill” and the title track sound like they could have appeared on the band’s first singles, Internal Wrangler’s best songs concentrate on the experimental yet accessible sides of Clinic’s sound. “The Second Line”‘s darkly catchy throb, the aptly named “2nd Foot Stomp”‘s organ-driven pulse, and “Voodoo Wop”‘s blend of surf and Krautrock are a logical progression from Clinic’s roots, but ballads like the “Pale Blue Eyes”-esque “Distortions” and the late-night calm of “Goodnight Georgie” are a leap into new territory for the band. Though some of the thrashier songs like “C.Q.” and “T.K.” and a bottom-heavy song sequence detract from the album’s flow, Internal Wrangler is still a strong debut from one of England’s most promising and distinctive indie bands.

CLINIC –   WALKING WITH THEE  Reissue

Right down to its gritty, mod-punk art direction, Walking With Thee seems like it should fit right in with Clinic’s previous work. Indeed, the group’s second full-length album could’ve been a carbon copy of their debut, Internal Wrangler, but to Clinic’s credit, the band makes a few changes, opting for a smoother production and a quieter, more implosive sound than their previous work offered. Frustratingly, though, most of these changes end up detracting from the group’s strengths and diluting the album’s impact. Walking With Thee’s production is far from slick, but a huge part of Clinic’s appeal was that the band seemed to record in an underwater garage, giving their songs a fuzzy, cavernous sound that made their messy, thrashy moments even more dangerously alluring and their ballads that much more affecting. Stripped nearly bare of reverb and static, much of Walking With Thee sounds incomplete, particularly on the almost-punk of “Pet Eunuch,” “Welcome,” and “The Equaliser,” which, with its rattling percussion and driving bassline, could’ve rivaled Internal Wrangler’s ugly-beautiful intensity if had a little more oomph. However, the album isn’t a total washout — for every lackluster moment, there’s one that connects. “The Vulture” and “Walking With Thee” nearly reach the frenzied, strangely sexy, bottom-dwelling heights (depths?) of Clinic’s best work. And beginning with the chilly, hypnotic opener, “Harmony,” many of the album’s quietest moments are the most compelling. Filmic tracks like “Come Into Our Room” and the dreamy finale “For the Wars” follow suit, though their brooding, stark sound will only strengthen the Radiohead comparisons. There’s a lot of promise on Walking With Thee, but nothing here touches the deadpan cool of Internal Wrangler’s “The Second Line,” the detached poignancy of “Distortion,” or the raw energy of “Second Foot Stomp.” The band sounds like they’re still figuring out how to make the urgency of their previous work jell with a more polished, experimental sound, which makes Walking With Thee not so much a progression or regression as a step sideways. Clinic is still one of the most intriguing acts around, and while this isn’t the masterpiece the band has the potential to deliver, an interesting disappointment from them is still better than a successful but boring album from a less-inspired group.
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Red House Painters boxset

Mark Kozelek is virtually alone among music mid-lifers. Over 25 years into his career, his current records are considered as vital as the Red House Painters albums with which he made his name. Rarer still is that this new material engages deeply with his past without attempting to relive it, or lapsing into its defining self-pity. The relationship between now and then remains complex: Sun Kil Moon’s 2012 Among The Leaves saw Kozelek griping about his audiences – middle-aged blokes who turn up to hear ancient Painters songs. If there’s any reconciliation between the two, it’s in the form of gratitude: 2014’s opus Benji referenced getting his 4AD deal from Ivo Watts-Russell in the early ‘90s. “He signed Red House Painters when we couldn’t draw 20 people,” said Kozelek.

Decades before the Mark Kozelek we know today, the waspish essayist, he was a depressed Ohio kid who had been through rehab at 14. After moving to San Francisco in the late ‘80s, he met his Red House Painters bandmates and forged his forlorn Midwestern gothic built on smoky coils of guitar. A 20-track cassette demo eventually made its way to Watts-Russell via American Music Club’s Mark Eitzel. Kozelek’s music came from a deeply lonely place, but he wasn’t plumbing this furrow alone. There was Low in Duluth, Idaho in California, Codeine in New York and Bedhead in Texas – the “slowcore” movement was fittingly isolated. But no-one else had a frontman like Kozelek, a Morrissey fan of equal melodrama and self-loathing that he refuted any comparison. “Morrissey is funny, charming and intelligent,” he said in ‘93. “I am none of those things.”

He is openly misanthropic on the Painters’ debut, 1992’s Down Colorful Hill (six cleaned-up songs from the demo tape), rendering a break-up in obsessive excess on “Medicine Bottle”, and declaring, “This dictionary never has a word for the way I’m feeling” on the bleak “Japanese To English”. Bass lines prowl gently, while Kozelek plays down-tuned, disquieting guitar. But there’s humour on the Lemonheads-jaunty “Lord Kill The Pain”, and a single compassionate note: the warm “Michael”, a study of a lost soul that prefigures his current approach.

The prospect of wider attention begat paranoia and cruelty on the Painters’ next record, a mass of music divided across two self-titled albums. The first pushes the debut’s sound in two opposing directions: sentimental (“Grace Cathedral Park”) and dirt-kicking (“Funhouse”). But it’s still the sad centre where Red House Painters thrive: understandably, “Katy Song” – a tribute to an unsuccessful relationship with a woman who offers escape from his “cold solitary kingdom” – remains his calling card. As if to underline Katy’s importance, it’s sandwiched by “Down Through”, where he admits domestic violence, and the equally spiteful and beautiful “Mistress”. But RHP II sounds like the wound bled dry. It’s grandiose and Kozelek’s lovelorn lyrics become obsessive: “Helicopter” imagines him dying with a woman he hasn’t met yet. By the penultimate “Blindfold”, he’s screaming with rage; closing with a Crazy Horse-styled “Star Spangled Banner” feels perverse.

1995’s Ocean Beach is more polished and expensive-sounding than its predecessors. The reverb is gone from Kozelek’s vocals, and he even attempts balladeering on “Shadows”. There are just two standout songs – acoustic devotional “Summer Dress” and “Drop”, about his inability to reciprocate love. It would become Red House Painters’ final album for 4AD, the relationship between Kozelek and Watts-Russell severed because the songwriter wanted to record covers and unwieldy solos.

In 1993, Kozelek declared that he didn’t want to sell tons of records and be on MTV: “respectability and recognition don’t interest me.” But Red House Painters soon signed to John Hughes’ Island imprint, Supreme, for $100,000 and sold their cover of The Cars’ “All Mixed Up” to a Gap ad. Although their comparative mainstream success was a brief cautionary tale, it’s hard to begrudge the notion of this hypnotic, quiet music being heard, however brief their moment in the sun.

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Mark Kozelek’s songwriting sure has evolved a lot over the years since the early days of Red House Painters. In recent years the slowcore founding father’s transformation has been especially evident, and nowhere is that truer than “Ben’s My Friend,” the closing track from the forthcoming Sun Kil Moon album “Benji” . Kozelek has always leaned toward the plainspoken as a lyricist he writes what appear to be basically a series of detail-laden short stories all seem to be autobiographical, with songs such as “Sunshine In Chicago” functioning as play-by-play travelogues. That’s truer than ever on “Ben’s My Friend.” As with the other songs we’ve heard from “Benji” especially “Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes,” adopted the syllable-cramming cadence of his trusted muse Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, but this time out Kozelek’s traded Brock’s quirky, effects-laden guitar squeals for saxophone-infused mid tempo lounge styled sounds. It exists in an entirely different sonic universe from the stone-faced melodrama of Red House Painters’ “Have You Forgotten” or even the spare acoustic plucking of Sun Kil Moon’s Modest Mouse covers album. There are a lot of ways to sing a sad song with an acoustic guitar!

Kozelek’s latest sonic realm is the background for a story about Kozelek going to see the Postal Service. He feels old amongst a crowd of 8,000 twentysomethings, and tinges of jealousy spring up when he thinks back to when he first met Ben Gibbard at a festival in Spain in 2000, when his band was outdrawing Gibbard’s. Hearing a line like “The other night, I saw the Postal Service/ Ben’s my friend, but getting there was the worst” in a song .