Posts Tagged ‘St Louis’

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The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above. There’s a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown – each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen. The singer-songwriter’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Angel Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, new album, “All Mirrors”, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.

By her usually prolific standards, it’s been a long time between albums for Angel Olsen. “All Mirrors” is her first album for three years – an epic gap given that she used to average an LP a year in the early stage of her career. As usual, Olsen has redefined her sound once more, offering up impassioned songs that come backed by bold, wall of sound style production from John Congleton.

There are many moments of stirring intensity, where swirling strings, eccentric electronics and low-slung indie-rock grooves join forces to create stunning and arresting musical works of art. The more contemplative moments often sound a little like “Mezzanine”-era Massive Attack or Portishead, though Olsen’s voice and Congleton’s production are always unique enough to make comparisons with those bands moot.

The mid-album ballad, “Spring.” Over warm, gently warped piano, Olsen opens with advice: “Don’t take it for granted, love when you have it,” she singe, before observing almost in passing how quickly time flies: “Remember when we said we’d never have children, I’m holding your baby now that we’re older.”

For anyone who’s ever invested too heavily in a hypothetical future, or mentally broken apart every minuscule bit of a fresh and failed romance, that lyric can be a terrifying reminder that we will never know what will happen next. Olsen says as much in the next few lines: “I’m beginning to wonder if anything’s real, guess we’re just at the mercy of the way that we feel.”

Her message never veers into existential-panic territory, though, instead held steady by the song’s even-paced, rolling rhythm, and Olsen’s fuzzy vocals, hovering like a reassuring guide. She ends her gentle journey on the only piece of certainty she has access to: the fragile and fleeting present. “So give me some heaven, just for a while,” she sings, before her falsetto takes off into the heavens: “Make it eternal, there in your smile.”

“Spring” is the song that stayed with me the longest, through my dozens upon dozens of replays lying in my darkened bedroom, cooking with my roommates in my kitchen, singing by myself in the shower, like a forever-looping Twilight Zone-ish theme song. There is no true rhyme or reason to anything; there are just things that happen to us and people we meet, and we should try to enjoy everything while it lasts. It may not be a satisfactory revelation and — don’t get me wrong — it will emotionally wreck you. But once the tides of perpetual uncertainty subside, it’ll feel quite freeing.

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The St. Louis band’s rise has been both rapid and bumpy, first emerging on the emo-revival scene with The Albatross in 2013 before slipping somewhat out of that style with the divisive (though excellent) Dealer in 2015. Last year’s Nearer My Godexposed them to a larger audience at the possible expense of some of their older fans, but this was a risk Murphy and his bandmates were willing to take in order to make something impactful.

Murphy isn’t shy about expressing his ambition. He wants Foxing to be a band who releases great records and also performs great live shows—the latter of which has already undeniably been accomplished, reaching near-mythic proportions. With that aspect of Foxing’s attack fully-formed, they’ve relentlessly pursued perfection in the studio on their upcoming fourth LP, in hopes of equaling Nearer My God. That album presented its ideas nakedly, unflinching and unafraid. It was big and bombastic, an explosion of punk and rock and emo that never committed to any of those ideals fully. In short, it was tremendous, and Murphy might be pursuing a fool’s errand in trying to make a record that will appease rabid fans of their live shows. Still, his goal of embodying the best possible iteration of Foxing propels the band forward. He just wants to see them get bigger and better.

While the album touches upon the universal angst felt by many people in the nation, Nearer My God is also deeply personal. The standout track, “Five Cups,” is a haunting nine-minute dirge where Murphy recounts the desperate moments of trying to communicate with the recently deceased. He name-checks several friends who have died, lamenting how these losses have left him with a void that cannot be replaced.

Murphy’s evocative lyrics and elastic vocals — which shift at times from the baritone of the National’s Matt Berninger to the caustic screams of Desaparecidos-era Conor Oberst — highlight the album, but Foxing are far from a one-man effort. Guitarist Eric Hudson helped produce the album (alongside Death Cab for Cutie vet Chris Walla), and each track reflects equal creative contributions from the band (guitarist Ricky Sampson and drummer John Hellwig round out the quartet).

Foxing “Heartbeats” from the album Nearer My God

For the first minute and a half, Nearer My God sounds like a lot of indie music that comes out nowadays. There’s a pulsing synth, electronic handclaps, an R&B-inspired falsetto — you know, the kind of thing you’re basically guaranteed to hear if you turn on Alt Nation or show up to some band’s set at Lollapalooza. And then Conor Murphy screams “I’m Shock Collared At The Gates Of Heaven,” live drums come in, and all of a sudden you’re listening to some of the most crushing post-hardcore to be released this year. It’s a sudden 180, but it’s also the same kind of post-genre experience that many internet-era listeners arrange for themselves anyway. Do you like The Blood Brothers, but also TV on the Radio, but also Radiohead, but also M83, but also Frank Ocean? It’s not that weird to answer yes, and if you did, then Nearer My God is for you.

The level of ambition it takes to pull something like this off, and getting it right nearly destroyed Foxing. But, with help from producer and former Death Cab For Cutie member Chris Walla (who called Nearer My God “one of the bravest and best records I’ve ever been a part of”), they pulled it off like experts. It’s an innovative, risk-taking album that cares about accessible pop appeal as much as it cares about schizophrenic prog-punk fury (“Gameshark”) and long stretches of meditative ambience (“Five Cups”). It’s an album you can rock out to and scream your lungs out to as much as it’s an album you can spend alone time with and really pay attention to the many intricate details.

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It’s less common than it used to be to get indie rock albums with this level of masterful ambition, but it doesn’t feel right to tie this album in with a past era. Nearer My God is looking nowhere but forward, and there’s hardly anything else like it.

FOXING – ” Dealer “

Posted: September 11, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Foxing initially won me over by being such a towering live band (if you haven’t seen them, seriously fix that ASAP), but their second album Dealer went the opposite direction of their shows. It goes into more somber, intimate territory, and it’s the best thing they’ve done yet. The album takes on soaring post-rock, tear-jerking piano ballads, downtempo glitch, melancholic horns and strings, and highly vivid lyrics, all brought together by some of the richest-sounding rock production of the year (courtesy of Minus the Bear/Mastodon producer Matt Bayles).

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It’s an album that stops me in my tracks every time I listen to it, whether it’s Conor Murphy’s gorgeous falsetto or the weight of the keys on “Winding Cloth” or the sudden moments where the band sound twice as large as they are. There’s a certain type of record that comes along every now and then, when an indie band swings for the fences but maintains delicacy and evokes real emotion from the listener. I’m thinking of albums like The Antlers’ Hospice album and self-titled Bon Iver, and now I’d add Dealer to that list too.

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If you’ve ever looked at an old document and noticed brown spots on it, what you are seeing are signs of aging. It’s not exactly clear what specifically causes them, but one day, the page will completely brown over and be no more. This is called foxing.
A group of St. Louis musicians took this idea and turned it into a band. “From the conception of the band, we realized: we’re not gonna be around forever,” says Foxing singer Conor Murphy. “There’s classic literature that over time grows really old. But hopefully, you can make something that meant something at some point and will mean something down the road, even if it is aged and dated.
Foxing’s forthright lyrical honesty paired with their stunning orchestral sound quickly started earning them devoted fans, It’s something Foxing didn’t expect and certainly were not prepared for. “I was really surprised at the reception we got from this record because it’s very, very specific and personal so it’s weird to have people grasp that and feel a kindredness to it, that’s insane to me,” says Coll. In addition to the new fans who were responding to Foxing’s music in such a personal way, the band also caught the attention of Triple Crown Records. The label took notice of the organic buzz surrounding the band and are re-mastering and rereleasing The Albatross.

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“Indica Two” was recorded in Seattle, Washington
performed by Foxing and produced by Matt Bayles
strings performed by Emma Tiemann
additional vocals by Jess Abbott
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“Redwoods Two” was recorded in Saint Louis, Missouri
arrangement composed and produced by E.M. Hudson of Foxing
vocals by Lena Woods

Bruce Springsteen  has unleashed his first archival live release of the year, with the rocker focusing on a rarities-filled St. Louis gig from 2008. The August 23rd, 2008 concert, recorded in the midst of the E Street Band’s tour in support of “Magic”, featured Springsteen and company performing some songs for the first time in decades thanks to sign requests in the audience. On the 2007-08 Magic tour, fans began bringing song-request signs. Bruce seemed to revel in the challenge, while the suggestions also appeared to inspire him to resurrect songs he hadn’t played in decades.

These include the band’s renditions of the Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and Harold Dorman’s “Mountain of Love,” which hadn’t been performed by Springsteen and the E Street Band since 1975.

Springsteen also delivered his seldom-performed cover of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” in the encore; the St. Louis gig in 2008 marked the first time since 2002 that Springsteen played that track live, as well as the last time the E Street Band has whipped it out in concert.

There’s no finer show to capture this fan-artist dynamic than this outstanding performance in St. Louis on 23/08/2008 including the surprise opener of The Crystals’ Then She Kissed Me and Chuck Berry’s Little Queenie during the encore. In addition to those two covers, Springsteen also aired out rarely-played-these-days songs like “Rendezvous,” “For You,” “Drive All Night” “Detroit Medley” and Harold Dorman’s “Mountain of Love,” which he hadn’t performed since a New Year’s Eve concert at Philadelphia’s Tower Theater in 1975.

Check out Springsteen’s live archive site for full track list and download information. Physical copies of Scottrade Center, St. Louis, 8/23/08 will ship May 1st.

In November, the Springsteen archives bought a Buffalo 2009 Concert that featured a full album performance of Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. as well as the last time saxophonist Clarence Clemons played with theE Street Band before his June 2011 death. 2016 also saw the official release of Bruce Springsteen’s famed Christic shows a pair of solo concerts recorded in Los Angeles in November 1990.

This marks the first archival concert from Springsteen this year. Shortly before Christmas, he gave an official release to his November. 22nd, 2009 concert from the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. It contained the only full-album performance of his debut, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.,

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Trump is like a horrible car crash with a bad comb-over. When he can’t be bothered to keep up that bird’s nest on his head, he wears a stupid hat that was most definitely made in China. He loves the sound of his own voice, but his breath smells like dog shit. He wants to bring all the glamour of professional wrestling to Washington. But most importantly, and seriously, Trump might be a Manchurian Candidate for Russia. A real comrade to the Kremlin.

To combat apathy, entertain the citizenry, and provide a soundtrack to resistance, over the next four years, the producers of 30 Days, 30 Songs will assemble a playlist of 1,000 songs. One song every day to get us through what promises to be a tumultuous and frequently dispiriting and certainly bizarre presidency. The playlist will feature original tracks, unreleased live versions, remixes, covers, and previously released but relevant songs that will inspire and amuse and channel the outrage of a nation.

Despite the results of the election, we still believe it’s possible to build a more inclusive, equal, and just America. The world will not end on January 20th. It will continue to move forward, and it is up to us to chart its course. In the coming weeks, we plan to raise money for this endeavor through a crowdfunding campaign.

Foxing have done a lot of touring this past year in continued support of last year’s album “Dealer” (among one of our favourite records of that year). They’ve now made a new video for “Dealer” standout track “Indica” and you can watch that below.  LP Dealer, out now on Triple Crown Records.  Full of emotional vocals and meaningful songs.The whole album flows perfectly and each track has its own feeling.

Foxing debut release The Albatross became a self-fulfilling prophecy for this St Louis band Foxing. The group’s relentless touring enabled the slow-build success of their debut, the aching opening track on Dealer recounts the effect of Conor Murphy having to repeat ugly truths about himself night after night for the better part of two years: “I am caught up in the guilt/ Making a living off of drowning.” Though Dealer is an artistic triumph and a significant advance from The Albatross, it’s even heavier, more compositionally complex, and more personally revealing than its predecessor. And that’s why, from its very first second, Murphy sounds drained over the prospect of doing it all over again every night  Dealer is not an easy listen.

It’s in Foxing’s nature to welcome a challenge, they made the most demanding, unique and self-assured debut. It certainly earned the genre tag—silvery guitar figures streaked and twinkled like Explosions In The Sky, while Murphy’s vocals delivered confrontational and caustic story-led lyrics with spasmodic, burst-and-bloom dynamics. he ripped his heart out while it was still beating and shoved it directly in your face.

“Indica”, which recounts Colls time as a soldier in Afghanistan. Few, if any, indie rock bands have access to this kind of firsthand experience, Aside from a brief clatter of field snares, there’s little but a single, clean guitar and Murphy’s vocal catatonic from both PTSD and self-medication: “Could I give back the sounds of their children’s screams?/ Let go of what I’ve seen?” Dealer isn’t a narrative, but both his civilian and Coll’s soldier could share the exhaustion of closer “Three on a Match”—”For what we did, my love, I’m sorry…the Lord won’t let me in/ I’m survived by the weight of my own sins.” .

Dealer pulls all of Foxing’s influences inward, constructed like an expensive timepiece where you can see every exacting movement behind a glossy lacquer. Murphy’s much-improved vocals negotiate the curvature of “Weave”‘s mournful melody . While there were short instrumental passages on The Albatross, “Winding Cloth” is a full-on string orchestration, offering four minutes to absorb the shell shocked war reportage of “Indica” before segueing into the heavy-hearted poetry of “Redwoods”.

When Murphy and bassist/co-songwriter Josh Coll take on universal topics like sex, religion and war, they’re framed through personal experiences: “The Magdalene” is the most dour song about losing one’s virginity drawing on strict Catholic upbringings that instilled what Coll has said “the internal fear that spirits are in the room witnessing ‘sin’ in action”: “Mother of God on the rosary/ Is she here with us?/ Does she want what she sees?” The guilt carries on to the present day as Murphy becomes choked by the supposedly no-strings hook-ups in “Night Channels” and “Glass Coughs”. Both build up from spare, plaintive introductions to restrained screams and contained, brassy cacophony—Murphy allows you to feel every pang and writhe of guilt.

Foxing are going on an extensive European tour in 2017. Those dates are listed below.

Mar 13 Stereo Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mar 14 Deaf Institute Manchester, United Kingdom
Mar 15 BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB Leeds, United Kingdom
Mar 16 Scala London, United Kingdom
Mar 17 Firebug Leicester, United Kingdom
Mar 18 Bodega Nottingham, United Kingdom
Mar 19 The Exchange St Philips, United Kingdom
Mar 21 Joiners Southampton, United Kingdom
Mar 22 Green Door Store Brighton, United Kingdom

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Tom England you are a legend! His sign asked whether he can work on the highway with the E Street band. Bruce noticed the sign just about as he was going to kick into “Working on the Highway”. He asked Tom if he could play, and if he knew which key the song was written in. Tom got the question right, and the rest is E street legend. this is what makes touring special, and being in the pit with “The ties that bind”

A series of incredible coincidences came together for Tom England to experience a moment he calls “life changing.” If La Salle, where England is a senior, was not on spring break when Bruce Springsteen happened to be in his hometown of St. Louis, it would have never happened. If England hadn’t been in the fourth row thanks to a lucky lottery draw, it would have never happened. If England’s sign wasn’t … well … weird enough, it would have never happened. If Springsteen, who hasn’t been taking many fan requests on this tour, hadn’t have gotten a kick out of England’s sign, it would have never happened.

But the gods who preside over the Church of Springsteen looked fondly on Tom England on Sunday. Springsteen, England’s idol, invited him up onstage to play “Working on the Highway” with the E Street Band.

“It was big and obnoxious,” England said about the sign. “I was four rows from the stage. I was enjoying the concert. Anthony said as soon as he’s finished playing The River [the 1980 album Springsteen has been playing in full to kick off this tour] throw your sign in the air.”

“I saw him read it,” England said. He told Springsteen he plays guitar. “Okay, if you play guitar, what key is ‘Working on the Highway’ in?” Springsteen asked. “C!” England responded from the crowd. Springsteen jokingly looked at the band and said, “Is that right? Is it in C?”

Next thing England knew, he was onstage with an acoustic guitar in his hand. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” Springsteen said to England.

When England was supposed to come in with the band, guitarist Stevie Van Zandt looked at him and said, “You ready?” “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” England replied.

“I was so just happy. It felt like I was playing with my really good friends. You look out and see all these people who are dancing and singing and clapping in the crowd. It was just so surreal and Bruce was just so gracious. He’s my hero. I still just want to thank so so much. I want one more chance just to thank him again,” England, a business school student, said. “I’ve never felt more alive. That was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life and Bruce was able to make it happen.”

Beth Bombara is a singer-songwriter from St. Louis. Drawing inspiration from artists ranging from Gillian Welch to Laura Veirs, she writes frank, elegantly-crafted Americana. Her fifth, self-titled album will be out later this year

St. Louis is the only place Beth Bombara could have created her fifth album, which borrows gracefully from the city’s proud alt-country and blues traditions while embodying the collaboration, experimentation and resolve of the tight-knit scene developing there today.

Beth has been a musician for most of her life. She started a punk band in high school and, after college, began playing guitar with Samantha Crain. She moved to St. Louis and started a solo project in late 2007. “The city requires you to be active in your engagement of it,” she says. “There’s not much room for takers. But if you put in the work, the city rewards you.”

Today, Beth tours extensively across the country and is hailed as one of St. Louis’ finest songwriters. She is equally comfortable headlining the rock club Off Broadway and the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Whitaker Music Festival, where she recently performed for a crowd numbering over 10,000.

Beth’s new, self-titled album displays its authors’ finest work to date. Previous efforts have served as explorations of Beth’s musical personality (you’ll find records written in the languages of folk, rock and Americana in her back-catalog). There is no easy way to describe the new album. It is full of crafty melody and effortless instrumentation. Her lyrics find the shortest path to the truth.

This also marks a major progression in Beth’s collaboration with her husband, fellow musician and producer Kit Hamon. “We’ve always worked together on Beth Bombara records,” she says. “They’re an extension of our relationship, and the efforts that make a good song are not unlike the efforts that make a healthy relationship. Whether the result of that work is good or bad has to do with how graciously we can sort the strong ideas from the weak ones.” On this new album, they have found grace and strength to spare.

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