Posts Tagged ‘Secret City Records’

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Braids have been taking the time and space necessary for little miracles to occur. Burrowed in their Montreal studio, the band has spent the better part of three years crafting “Shadow Offering”, their 4th album, due out in June 2020 via their new label home, Secret City. On Braids’ fourth album, Shadow Offering, the Montreal art-pop trio is at its cleanest and most refined. They teamed up with producer Chris Walla, who teases out the rockier side of their tunes, turning the group’s taut synth reveries into glistening and forceful songs that tackle topics like abuse and desire and self-hatred. Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice is dizzying; she presents her fears not as a persistent dull ache but as something that is going to rip her apart from the inside out.

Unlike previous albums, Braids decided to stay close to home for the recording of Shadow Offering. Taking over a spacious sound recording studio tucked in an old warehouse, the band were able to slow down and creatively rediscover themselves. “With this album, we wanted to give ourselves time to achieve a higher caliber of artistry and collaboration,” Tufts says. No longer riding the novelty of youth, the band deliberately took time to recommit to themselves and their craft, and channel new energy into their music. They wrote 40 songs. They went through their Saturn Returns. They learnt how to support one another better. They drank a lot of La Croix.

The band sketched and re-sketched new material for eighteen months before lucky circumstance found Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) renting out space in their studio. The four began wandering into each others’ rooms, curious about each others’ projects. Typically opting for a private and insular creation process, the friendship between the four saw the band sharing their songs with Walla, and naturally resulted in Walla co-producing and engineering Shadow Offering. Pushing the band out of their comfort zone, he at once broke and unified the band’s dynamic, unearthing individual creative energy long buried over the years. With a new sense of confidence, listeners will find Braids at their most personal, unabashedly flexing through their new music.

Braids are a Montreal-based, three-piece band. Formed in 2007, they have solidified a decade-long reputation for their musical ingenuity and established themselves as one of Canada’s most acclaimed art rock bands. With Standell-Preston’s vocals as the pillar of their sound, Braids weave organic and electronic elements together amidst a lyrical landscape that is intimate and emotionally-immersive

Braids

Prior to recording “Shadow Offering”, Braids’ continued intentions were to manipulate guitars to the point of being unrecognisable. Indeed, they have since admitted they felt they had succeeded once the guitar was hidden between layers of textures, loops and effects.

On their fourth full-length LP, the Canadian group have made a conscious choice to bring guitars to the forefront of their sound again. They rediscovered the instrument as a “vehicle for cathartic release, drawn to its visceral and authoritative qualities,” and were keen to embellish and utilise its imperfections and the spontaneity it can bring to a performance or recording. Montreal-based indie trio Braids will release their new album “Shadow Offering” on June 19th via. Co-produced with Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, the album finds the band at their most personal, unabashedly flexing a new sense of confidence through songs that reach a higher level of artistry and collaboration.

New single ‘Just Let Me‘ explores the push and pull of a relationship, the narratives created between partners, and inevitable hardships of love. The accompanying video features singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s directorial debut with collaborator Derek Branscombe.

“The song was born of a desire to get through to one’s partner, to work through those feelings of complacency, stagnation, of pointless arguments; when you feel your partner, though sitting across the table from you, is further away than if they were not there at all,” stated the band. “It’s a yearning to understand how a love that was once there and so clear, could slip away. It asks the universal question that so many relationships encounter along their journey – where did our love go?”

With former Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Chris Walla in the producer’s chair, they entered into a new world of experimentation, utilising a plethora of equipment from Audio Kitchen amps, a 1967 Rickenbacker 340 and a 1963 Gibson LG-1 to masses of outboard gear and a reamping chain that included multiple rack units including an Elysia Mpressor for live sidechaining and even tremolo and phased vibrato effects.

A multi award-winning band, Shadow Offering follows their acclaimed 2015 album Deep in the Iris – which won the 2016 Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year – and could be considered their most honest and intuitive yet. Here, the band detail their five favourite guitar parts on the album, from discovering chorus pedals to using their drummer as a rotary speaker…

Eclipse marked our first taste of the front-and-centre roll the guitar would come to play on this record. While tracking, we were uneasy over what elements would lead the mixes, and how a myriad of instruments and sonic explorations would all glue and fit into songs. We never recorded a record this way – producer at the console, amps and live tracking sessions, capture over construct. It required a leap of faith on our part, something a group of three highly strung control freaks admittedly struggled with.

With Eclipse, Chris and Raphaelle experimented ad nauseum with wonky open tunings for deep and resonant chords. We also discovered chorus – something we foolishly avoided for years. With Chris’s guidance, we coloured outside our comfort zone. Listening to the first mix draft was a decisive turning point in our process. After months spent chasing an ephemeral ‘idea’ of what guitars might bring to our songs, we finally developed the film so-to-speak, and the image staring back at us was bold, expansive and all-encompassing. Needless to say, we were pleasantly reassured that what we were striving for was possible.”

Snow Angel

“At once jarring and visceral, tracking for Snow Angel was also a moment of joy, of exalted discovery. After laying down the song’s basic structure, Raphaelle had asked to be set up in the live room on a whim, amps pinned, for a few takes of unscripted overdubs. It was a moment of flexing and experimenting with the musicality of an extremely loud amp. And for Raphaelle, the birth of an emotional conduit just as immediate as the human voice, to provide emotional armour, and a violent counterpart to the album’s most confessional and raw poetry.”

Fear Of Men

“This song is Austin’s shining guitar moment. Austin doesn’t play guitar, he plays drums and as such had a spare hand to lend during our guitar tracking sessions. With the amps cranked, we set him up in the live room – heavily earplugged – and got him to be a real live rotary speaker. Microphone-in-hand, he spun around the room in his best ‘flanger’ impression, and the resulting audio is about as bespoke a ‘swirl’ effect as one could hope for.”

Young Buck

“We mixed Shadow Offering in our Montreal studio. The studio has two rooms – control and live. We spent a month mixing, and a typical day saw Chris [Walla] and Mike our mix engineer in the control room working on a mix, while we spent the day in the live room, chasing all sorts of extra parts for second verses and second choruses, intros and outros.”

“We’d reconvene once in a while to share progress, listen to mixes, and trade song progress back and forth. We’d been battling with the groove in Young Buck, struggling to get the mix to lock. Upon listening to the n’th rough mix, it suddenly came into focus. Through sheer relief, we didn’t ask too many questions at the time, and it was only while digging through stems, long after the mixes were wrapped, that we discovered Chris had clandestinely been tucking layer upon layer of palm muted guitar parts into the mix, gluing the song together.”

Just Let Me

“Stories and process and memories aside, Just Let Me is our favourite guitar ‘moment’ on the record. At every step of the way, the song is structured around creating this luscious and blooming key change, centred on two interlocking guitars. If at the outset of this record we wanted to take a swing at guitars-as-centrepiece, this is the moment in which we unapologetically enjoy the fruits of this journey.”

Shadow Offering is out June 19th on Braids Musique Inc. and Secret City Records. Braids’ new album “Shadow Offering”

Leif Vollebekk: Off the Grid

The best drum machine always is a human being,” says Leif Vollebekk, underscoring the organic aesthetic of his fourth LP. With the soulful New Ways, the Montreal native aimed to escape “the grid” of modern music production: rejecting rigid metronomes in favor of the wavering pulse of a drummer, recording live to tape instead of endlessly editing in software. “The computer or the click track is a robot, so you’re working within robotic time,” he reflects. “You can be human within it, but I want the human to be on the outside.” New Ways exudes humanity. Over the fluid, oceanic piano chords of “Never Be Back,” Vollebekk alternates between a raspy Ray Charles moan and rapid-fire Kendrick Lamar triplet rhymes—occasionally just ahead of or behind the beat, depending on where the groove takes him. “It’s basically only about the feel,” he says, noting the record’s discarded placeholder title, The Way That You Feel. Given how gracefully these songs flow, it’s surprising to learn the album nearly didn’t exist.

Discouraged by the collective shrug that greeted his first two LPs, a pair of folky projects more blatantly inspired by his formative hero Bob Dylan, Vollebekk contemplated pivoting to another career altogether: “I thought, ‘If this doesn’t work, I might hang it up for a little while,’” he recalls. “Nobody needs another record, and I don’t need to keep recording when people aren’t coming to the shows.” He decided to go out on his own terms: Ignoring any kind of outside perceptions of his music, he wound up crafting his 2017 breakout, Twin Solitude, a set of “chill” ballads that generated an influx of Spotify streams, TV syncs and a shortlist nod for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. New Ways, then, was built on the foundation of that goodwill. He wanted to “connect with people,” to be less meditative and “solipsistic.” So he used a bare-bones recording process that broke down almost every barrier between artist and listener: In the studio, he played and sang accompanied by a live drummer, later embellishing the tracks with unobtrusive bass and strings to “shape” the atmosphere. Having “cleansed his palette” of balladry, he moved away from “ethereal” sounds into a vibe slightly more upbeat, tighter sounding and direct. “For the longest time, I thought I wasn’t supposed to have feel,” Vollebekk says, reflecting on his sonic evolution. Now that feel is everything.

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“Your Girl” is a wistful folk-pop song in the tradition of Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Maniacs – crisp and clean in structure, but earthy and wholesome in aesthetics. Basia Bulat’s perspective is somewhat ambiguous in this song, shifting between a first-person testimonial about how she’s become hesitant to fall in love after some difficult experiences and choruses in which she’s addressing someone else about how they’ve let down their girl. It could just be that she’s talking to the one who wronged her, but there’s a suggestion of elapsed time. It could be advice to a friend, a warning to an ex that they’re keeping up the same mistakes, or maybe it’s just her reliving the same old traumas. But it’s notably that the song isn’t bitter or angry, just resigned to the seemingly inevitable catastrophes of people getting close to each other.

I wrote “Your Girl” during one of those classic Montreal snowstorms (mon pays c’est l’hiver!) and recorded it under the warmest desert sun in Joshua Tree. Then we added some beautiful harmonies in the springtime. So of course it only made sense to film a video for the song in the autumn rain. The song is about getting free from a painful situation, when there’s joy but there’s also heartbreak – and trying to understand why those storms came through your life the way they did feels impossible. So you to the wind and dance with the memory instead.

Basia Bulat’s new album Are You In Love? is due out March 27th via Secret City, and she’s shared another early taste of it, “Already Forgiven.” Speaking about recording in Joshua Tree, Basia says, “one day Andrew recorded the wildest wind outside and sent the signal through a path of electronics and the swirling feeling of those floating melodies that drift through the song are as important as the lyrics to me. The harmonies are there even if you can’t hear them at first listen. It can take years to say it, but you’re already forgiven.”

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Attempting to guess where Richard Reed Parry might go with a solo album is a nigh on impossible task. He can play just about anything, as his work with Arcade Fire demonstrates, and he’s worked with many artists over his career. The multi-instrumentalist released a new solo album, “Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1”, last September via ANTI-Records , his first for the label.

Seven tracks long, only two of which last less than six minutes, it’s music crying out for careful attention. Songs ebb and flow, and then ebb some more, teasing beauty from Parry’s quietly rich, complex compositions. Birds chirps, doors close in the background, guitars are handled delicately, and vocals drift out. Lying underneath, Parry adds gently glitching synths, neon city meets sunrise in the cornfield.

It makes for ravishing music. “Gentle Pulsing Dust” builds and builds into a sound dizzy with intimacy. “On the Ground” echoes vocals back hauntingly. Each track pulls off similar tricks, each comes packed with flourishes and swerves, begging for repeat listens.

Now he has announced its follow-up album, “Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2″, and shared its first single, “Long Way Back,” via a video for the song. Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2 is due out June 21st. Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1 was released during the autumn equinox and Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2 is being released during the summer solstice.

In a press release Parry says “Long Way Back” is “a song about remembering everything you’ve ever lived. Your childhood home, the happy or heavy or beautiful or miserable feelings you ever lived with, the fleeting and pristine random moments of perfection, the infinitely complex tapestry of emotions you feel towards your parents; anything that resides anywhere in those floating worlds that exist inside your mind and your heart, holding all these things up to the light of memory, embracing it all and then letting it go.”

Nothing is as good as “Song of Wood.” After a deliberately stuttering start, a soft trilling combines with lush vocals, growing into a final minute that is utterly gorgeous, as beautiful as anything released this year.

The most spectacular thing here is that “Song of Wood” isn’t an outlier. It’s merely the shiniest treasure on an album full of them. Vol. 2 has a lot to live up to.

Parry says the album is about “memory and the unconscious mind.”

“What separates us from dissolving into the experience around us?” he further explains in the press release. “It’s a feeling I’ve definitely had many times, where the boundaries of self and world are permeable to the point of disorientation. So much of this record is about being this young person in an older people’s world of music and song, this folk music community where the torch is passed, and losing my father at a young age, and being completely disoriented by that. This record, the songs are also referencing that nebulous psychic territory when you lose your most familiar world, when the village of your childhood disappears and you try to relocate yourself in a different one.”

“Long Way Back” by Richard Reed Parry from the album ‘Quiet River of Dust Vol. 2: That Side of the River,’ available June 21st

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Watch the new video from Patrick Watson for his brand new single ‘Broken’ which was recorded at studio PM in Montreal last month.

“This is a song I just felt like sharing before the next record. Dedicated to the storms we went through.” Patrick Watson Of the video, recently shot in Montreal, director Pedro Pires says: “It was a real pleasure to work with Patrick to create this video. We started with simple intuitive ideas such as characters fleeing or running away in fast moving vehicles. I then proposed to use reflections and flares to fragment the light to reveal a more impressionist moody state of mind of these various “broken” characters”.

Patrick Watson – Broken (Official Video) the new single.