Posts Tagged ‘The Proper Ornaments’

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it’s just over *One* week now till Record Store Day 2019 and the excitement is palpable. People are already eyeing up the sacred list, marking down their order of priorities, and what a bumper year it is this year too – with an unbeatable set of rarities, exclusives, fancy editions and downright collectables to feast your eyes and ears on.

Notable releases this week : music fans were rewarded with some of the most exciting new releases of the year so far. Natalie Mering, aka Weyes Blood, has released a career-defining LP, Titanic Rising, one of the highest-rated albums of 2019 so far. also received this week the highly-anticipated sophomore LP from D.C. rockers Priests, The Seduction of Kansas. In terms of track releases, we heard new singles from Vampire Weekend, The National and Big Thief plus some great cuts from Julie Shapiro, Field Medic and Porridge Radio.

The David Bowie ‘Spying Through The Keyhole’ 7″ box set looks great!
Circa Waves bring out a brand new record – limited blue vinyl.
There’s a new Weyes Blood album that has had excellent reviews – limited red vinyl.
the New Order ‘Movement’ box set looks nice – weighs a ton too.
A second set of Motorhead reissues.
Limited coloured vinyl from Music On Vinyl for Matthew Sweet and Within Temptation reissues.
Black vinyl for The Wannadies ‘Be A Girl’ .

W.H Lung’s dinked n limited “Incidental Music” should be first album of note to receive the attention combining it does, the thrust of Krautrock, the shimmer of psychedelia and all the gung-ho decadence of space rock.

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W H Lung – Incidental Music

W. H. Lung’s arrival at their debut album has been less conventional than most. A trait shared with the music they make, which weaves between shimmering synth pop and the infectious grooves of 70’s Berlin. The band never had any intention of playing live when forming, aiming instead to be a primarily studio-based project.

That approach was challenged when they released their debut 10” (‘Inspiration!/Nothing Is’) in 2017, which meant that they were quickly in demand. Booking requests started to flood in and W. H. Lung found themselves cutting their teeth on festival stages that summer. Though whilst some new bands may have let that interest change the course of the project, W. H. Lung stayed true to their original reticence and worked mainly as a studio band with their formidable live shows kept sporadic.

W. H. Lung have allowed this album to naturally gestate over the course of two years . The result is a remarkably considered debut – the production is crisp and pristine but not over-polished, the synths and electronics radiate and hum with a golden aura and the vocals weave between tender delivery and forceful eruptions. There is a palpable energy to the songs, as experienced in 10 glorious minutes of opening statement ‘Simpatico People’.
“I think it’s important to erase the distinction between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture,” states Joseph E. This colliding of worlds not only exists in the potent mix between whip-smart arrangements, lyrics and seamlessly danceable music but also in the fact that they are named after a cash and carry in Manchester. As Tom P. explains, “I thought it was funny juxtaposing those kind of austere associations with W. H. Auden and other initialed poets, writers, artists, etc. with the fact that it’s really just a Chinese supermarket.”

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Rozi Plain – What a Boost

Rozi Plain has been making music since her brother taught her a few chords on the guitar aged 13. Raised in Winchester, she spent a few years studying art and painting boats in Bristol, where she began collaborating with long-term friends Kate Stables (This Is The Kit) and Rachael Dadd among many others on a thriving local scene. It was there that Rozi made her first two albums, 2008’s Inside Over Here and 2012’s Joined Sometimes Unjoined, each works of deliciously sad and beautiful pop full of heart-wrenching harmonies dotted with unexpected instrumental flourishes. Released in April 2015 on Lost Map and featuring contributions from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor among others her last album Friend was a deeply meaningful and wonderfully measured ode to memory, place, companionship and music’s remarkable power as an emotional salve. A companion album of remixes, unreleased tracks and radio sessions, Friend Of A Friend, was released in 2016.

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Luke Sital-Singh – A Golden State

Luke Sital-Singh releases his third album A Golden State on Raygun Records. The album was produced by Tommy McLaughlin (Villagers, Soak), who also produced Luke’s last album, 2017’s Time Is A Riddle, and recorded in Portland’s Jackpot Studios, famously set up by Elliott Smith, where alumni include R.E.M., Stephen Malkmus, and The Decemberists. A Golden State contains new single Los Angeles, plus the 2018 singles The Last Dayand Love Is Hard Enough Without The Winter.

At its most basic, A Golden State is album of California dreaming. The songs therein reflect a new chapter, and a new mindset for Luke. “Overall, there is this ethereal, positive vibe – without being too cheesy,” he says. “There is an Americana fantasy, of wanting to escape to this gorgeous place – but also about what I’m escaping from.” The cover artwork, created by Hannah, a four-colour lino cut of the Venice Beach canals, is taken from her upcoming art book, Coastline.

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Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

The phantom zone, the parallax, the upside down—there is a rich cultural history of exploring in-between places. Through her latest, Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood, a.k.a. Natalie Mering, has designed her own universe to soulfully navigate life’s mysteries. Maneuvering through a space-time continuum, she plays the role of melodic, sometimes melancholic, anthropologist. Tellingly, Mering classifies Titanic Rising – which was written and recorded during the first half of 2018, after three albums and years of touring – as the Kinks meet WWII or Bob Seger meets Enya. The latter captures the album’s willful expansiveness (“You can tell there’s not a guy pulling the strings in Enya’s studio,” she notes, admiringly). The former relays her imperative to connect with listeners. “The clarity of Bob Seger is unmistakable. I’m a big fan of conversational songwriting,” she adds. “I just try to do that in a way that uses abstract imagery as well.” The Weyes Blood frontwoman grew up singing in gospel and madrigal choirs. (Listen closely to Titanic Rising, and you’ll also hear the jazz of Hoagy Carmichael mingle with the artful mysticism of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the monomyth of scholar Joseph Campbell.) “Something to Believe,” a confessional that makes judicious use of the slide guitar, touches on that cosmological upbringing. “Belief is something all humans need. Shared myths are part of our psychology and survival,” she says. “Now we have a weird mishmash of capitalism and movies and science. There have been moments where I felt very existential and lost.” As a kid, she filled that void with Titanic. (Yes, the movie.) “It was engineered for little girls and had its own mythology,” she explains. Mering also noticed that the blockbuster romance actually offered a story about loss born of man’s hubris. “It’s so symbolic that The Titanic would crash into an iceberg, and now that iceberg is melting, sinking civilization.” Today, this hubris also extends to the relentless adoption of technology, at the expense of both happiness and attention spans. But Weyes Blood isn’t one to stew. Her observations play out in an ethereal saunter: far more meditative than cynical. To Mering, listening and thinking are concurrent experiences. “There are complicated influences mixed in with more relatable nostalgic melodies,” she says. “In my mind my music feels so big, a true production. I’m not a huge, popular artist, but I feel like one when I’m in the studio. But it’s never taking away from the music. I’m just making a bigger space for myself.”

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Priests – The Seduction Of Kansas

What is at stake in the seduction of Kansas? Like a gavel or hammer, the question rattles across the second LP from Washington, D.C. rock iconoclasts Priests: Entering their eighth year as a band, Priests—drummer Daniele Daniele, vocalist Katie Alice Greer, and guitarist G.L. Jaguar—remain an inspired anomaly in modern music. A band on its own label—jolting the greater music world with early releases by Downtown Boys, Snail Mail, Sneaks, and Gauche—they are living proof that it is still possible to work on one’s own terms, to collectively cultivate one’s own world. Priests enlisted two primary collaborators in writing, arranging, and recording The Seduction of Kansas. After playing cello, mellotron, and lap steel on Nothing Feels Natural, multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin (Mellow Diamond, Marissa Nadler) returned to breathe air into Priests’ demos, serving as primary bassist and a fourth songwriting collaborator on The Seduction of Kansas.

The band also found a kindred spirit in producer John Congleton (Angel Olsen, St. Vincent), recording for two weeks at his Elmwood Studio in Dallas. It marked the band’s first time opening up their creative work to collaborate with someone outside of their DC-based community—a decidedly less hermetic approach. Priests found a third collaborator in bassist Alexandra Tyson, who has also joined the touring band. The songwriting process found the group once again analyzing the textures and scopes of albums as aggressive as they are introspective, like Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, Portishead’s Third, and Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral. The first single, “The Seduction of Kansas,” is Priests’ purest pop song to date. It is dark and glittering—though there is still something fantastically off about it, decadent and uneasy at once.

As journalist Thomas Frank explored in 2004’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, the ideological sway of Kansas has often predicted the direction in which the U.S. will move—whether leaning socialist in the 1800s or going staunchly conservative in the 1980s. Illustrating Kansas’ potent place in our national imagination—as well as “a chorus of whoever is trying to persuade the social consciousness of Kansas”—Greer sings brilliantly of a “bloodthirsty cherub choir” in a cornfield, of “a drawn out charismatic parody of what a country through it used to be,” beckoning that “I’m the one who loves you.” The song does what Priests do best: They make us think, stir us with complexity.

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Son Volt – Union

Led by vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Jay Farrar, Son Volt became one of the leading bands in the alternative country community, attracting critical praise and an audience that was loyal if not always large. Farrar has collaborated with Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Steven Drozd (The Flaming Lips), Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and several other well respected artists / musicians. Union is the bands 10th studio album and mixes present and past into strong confluence. The thirteen new songs written by Farrar confront our turbulent politics and articulate the clarity and comfort music can offer in the tumult.

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Lady Lamb – Even In The Tremor

Even in the Tremor marks Spaltro’s latest full-length LP following 2015’s After and it’s a remarkable achievement because, among other things, it’s the first time in her career that Spaltro is singing explicitly about herself. Between confessing a tantrum in a batting cage (Little Flaws), telling the story of her parent’s kiddie-pool baptism (Young Disciple) and singing openly about untangling her girlfriend’s wet hair (Deep Love), Even in the Tremor is deeply rooted in the people and places, extraordinary and mundane, that have shaped Spaltro into the self-determining artist she is today. Known for her keen observations of others, Spaltro now turns her multifaceted ruminations inward; She calls out from dreams, peers into churches, has fits of rage, and struggles to get out of her head long enough to love herself and those around her. Commitment to creating only what is necessary and urgently felt is the key to appreciating Spaltro’s fearless songwriting, as emotional as it is philosophical. Even in the Tremor signifies the arrival of her most sonically soaring and brutally honest album to date.

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Shana Cleveland – Night Of The Worm Moon

Shana Cleveland has been beguiling listeners for years in her role as the superlative front woman for elastic surf rockers La Luz. Now Cleveland is evolving her sound on the new solo full-length Night of the Worm Moon, a serene album that flows like a warm current while simultaneously wresting open a portal to another dimension. As much a work of California sci-fi as Octavia Butler’s Parable novels, Night of the Worm Moon incorporates everything from alternate realities to divine celestial bodies. Inspired in part by one of her musical idols, the Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra (the album’s title is a tip of the hat to his 1970 release Night of the Purple Moon), the record blends pastoral folk with cosmic concerns. Cleveland dreamt up this premise while living in Los Angeles, a city where – as deftly explored on La Luz’s recent Floating Features – reality and fantasy casually co-exist.

Abetting Cleveland during the recording process was a familiar gallery of co-conspirators: multi-instrumentalist Will Sprott of Shannon and the Clams, original La Luz bassist Abbey Blackwell, Goss, pedal steel player Olie Eshelman, and Kristian Garrard, who drummed on Cleveland’s previous solo effort (with then-backing band The Sandcastles), 2011’sOh Man, Cover the Ground. But whereas that album was internal and contemplative, Night of the Worm Moon occupies a different, vibrant kind of headspace. UFO sightings, insect carcasses, and twilight dimensions are all grist for Cleveland’s restless creativity, and they and other inspirations collide beautifully on the album’s 10 kaleidoscopic tracks–a spacebound transmission from America’s weirdo frontier.

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Gurr – She Says

Gurr return with a new 7 track EP “She Says” released in April 2019. Recorded with New York producer Mathew Molner (Sunflower Bean, Friends) and Berlin based producer Tobi Kuhn at the UFO studios in Berlin.

“We met Sunflower Bean at Latitude Festival in UK and asked them who produced their album “Human Ceremony” as we liked how it sounded retro and modern, they connected us with Mathew and we brought him to Berlin to record with us” says Andreya Casablanca... “After ‘In My Head’ was recorded all in analogue we definitely wanted to have a little bit more room for the production in these songs. We were adding guitars, small synth lines and sounds after laying down the basic tracks.”

The writing of the EP was heavily influenced by the big transitions in the lives of Laura Lee and Andreya Casablanca in the 12 month period after the release of ‘In My Head’, which can be heard in the fake highs of optimism of tracks such as “Of Hollywood” and “Bye Bye”, the melancholia of “She Says” and “Hush” and the angst of Middleton Mall but musically the band draws inspiration across genres, from contemporary dream pop wonders Beach Fossils to psychedelic classics such as The Velvet Underground.

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David Bowie – Spying Through a Keyhole

With 2019 marking 50 years since David Bowie’s first hit, Space Oddity, Parlophone release a 7″ vinyl singles box set of nine previously unreleased recordings from the era during which Space Oddity was first conceived.

The title Spying Through A Keyhole is a lyric taken from the previously unknown song, Love All Around, and though most of the other titles are known, these versions have never been officially released until late last year. Most of the recordings are solo vocal and acoustic home demo performances, unless otherwise stated.

The design of each single label is presented to reflect the way David sent many of his demos to publishers and record companies, featuring his own handwritten song titles on EMIDISC acetate labels. The singles themselves are all mono and play at 45 r.p.m.

Due to the nature of some of the solo home demos where Bowie accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, the recording quality isn’t always of a usual studio fidelity. This is partly due to David’s enthusiastic strumming hitting the red on a couple of the tracks, along with the limitations of the original recording equipment and tape degradation. However, the historical importance of these songs and the fact that the selections are from an archive of tracks cleared for release by Bowie, overrides this shortcoming.

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The Proper Ornaments – 6 Lenins

‘Six Lenins’, the third album release from The Proper Ornaments, sees the band master their seemingly effortless but finely-wrought sound as their songwriting prowess refuses to plateau. Fresh from an US tour in Autumn last year, the London jangle pop group led by James Hoare (also of Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls) and Max Claps (Toy) went into James‘ home studio in Finsbury Park, London and made their finest recordings to date on a newly-installed 16 track Studer machine – joined by Danny Nellis (Charles Howl) on bass and Bobby Syme (Wesley Gonzalez) on drums. Having escaped deep, twisting tunnels of illness, divorce and drug abuse to release their second record in January 2017, it’s unsurprising they sound sunnier this time around. What their supremely melodic work suggests is a nonchalance or naivety but is in fact an expensively bought slice of coherence and clarity within a constantly shifting backdrop to their lives and landscapes. The band exists as an unassuming and resilient organism in a fiercely competitive, trashed environmental niche. Throughout their years of hard-edged music industry Darwinism, they’ve shown longevity and growth scuttling from the wreckage of their previous guitar bands to become one united organism. “We started writing new songs in the Summer. I was in bed recovering from hepatitis and very broken and tired so couldn’t do anything else apart from playing guitar,” says Max, “and the songs slowly started to appear. In August we realised we had five new songs each and free time, so we decided to record them. The actual recording only took two weeks and it was considerably easier than our previous recordings.” The speed with which “Six Lenins” was made suggests the two songwriters managed to keep a keen focus on what they wanted to achive, further finessing the balance of conflict and collaboration that lends their sweet, succinct tunes their nervous energy. Well-crafted songwriting and a controlled sonic despite a zealous analogue sensibility. The opener ‘Apologies’, sets out stridently and the mood and momentum, even as we weave through some more sombre moments, never dips before soaring with the Velvets-y propeller riff of live favourite ‘In the Garden’ to end the record.

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Circa Waves – What’s It Like Over There?

The new studio album from Circa Waves, titled What’s It Like Over There? via Prolifica Inc. / [PIAS]. Recorded in just one month, and renewing their blossoming co-producing relationship with Alan Moulder (Foals, The Killers), What’s It Like Over There? is an album that’s creatively unshackled and refuses to stay still. It fuses the visceral thrill of rock music with a slick pop sound, its themes of modern ennui, emotional fragility and all the inside-outs and upside-downs of relationships making it a record that could only have been made now. Whilst the anthemic Movies will appeal to the band’s long-standing fan base, the likes of Sorry I’m Yours and Be Somebody Good see Circa Waves experiment with a new progressive sound that will surprise and delight in equal measure. Me Myself and Hollywood touches on the band’s love of R&B, whilst Times Won’t Change Me is a piano-led, Beatles-inspired future hit. What’s It Like Over There? always manages to sidestep genres and easy pigeonholing, but what remains constant is Circa Waves’ ability to create the kind of infectious music that is propelling them towards the top tier of British music.

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The Drums – Brutalism

Brutalism is quite possibly the best collection of songs in The Drums’ ten-year career. The album is defined by growth, transformation and questions, but it doesn’t provide all the answers. Brutalism is a form of simplistic architecture defined by blocks of raw concrete. Brutalism is rooted in an emotional rawness but its layers are soft, intricate and warm, full of frivolous and exquisitely crafted pop songs that blast sunlight and high energy in the face of anxiety, solitude and crippling self-doubt.

Even the fact that Brutalism sounds intentional, focused and efficient is a symbol of how Pierce’s prioritizing of his own health and wellbeing has bled into how he makes music. For the making of this album, between his lake house in Upstate New York and a studio in Stinson Beach, California, Pierce was more open than ever, keeping his control freakery at bay, working with others to produce and record the album. He brought in Chris Coady (Beach House, Future Islands, Amen Dunes) to mix it. If there was a guitar part he wanted to write but couldn’t play, he brought in a guitarist. It’s also the first Drums record with a live drummer. Delegating freed up Pierce’s time to produce a more specific vision.

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Molly Tuttle – When You’re Ready

Award-winning guitarvirtuoso Molly Tuttle, whose debut album, ‘When You’re Ready’ is an insightful, gifted album from a songwriter who was crowned “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Awards on the strength of her EP Rise, Tuttle has broken boundaries and garnered the respect of her peers, winning fans for her incredible at picking guitar technique and confessional songwriting.

Graced with a clear, true voice and a keen melodic sense, the 25-year-old seems poised for a long and exciting career. ‘When You’re Ready’, produced by Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers) showcases her astonishing range and versatility and shows that she is more than simply an Americana artist.

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Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend

Matthew Sweet is an American singer-songwriter and rock musician. He was part of the burgeoning music scene in Georgia during the ‘80s, before gaining commercial success in the ‘90s. In 1991 Matthew Sweet released Girlfriend, the pop-rock album which was widely considered an artistic breakthrough. It quickly garnered impressive sales, spawning a top 10 single with the title track. Girlfriend is Sweet’s most commercially and critically successful album to date. Both the title track and Divine Intervention did well on the charts. The album was included as number 61 on Paste’s list of “The 90 Best albums of the 1990s”.

LP – Limited edition of 1.000 individually numbered copies on 180 Gram pink vinyl with Insert.

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New Order – Movement – Definitive Edition

Out of the ashes of Joy Division, the remaining members decided to carry on recording under the name of New Order. The band’s debut album Movement recorded between 24th April to the 4th May 1981 at Strawberry in Stockport and featuring all new material, produced by Martin Hannett was released in 11th November 1981 on Factory Records. TheMovementboxed set includes the vinyl LP with its original iconic sleeve designed by Peter Saville, original album CD in replica mini album sleeve, a bonus CD of previously unreleased tracks, DVD of live shows and TV appearances plus hard backed book all housed in a lift off lid box. The vinyl LP of the original album is cut on 180 Gram and features the 2015 remastered audio, presented in a replica of the original sleeve. The second CD includes 18 completely unreleased tracks made from Demos, Sessions, Rehearsal Recordings and an Alternative 7” version of Temptation Accompanying the set is a 48 Page hard back book which features photos and an essay.

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Karen Dalton – The Karen Dalton Archives Box

Packaged in Ampex studio tape style carboard box. Including for the first-time ever on Vinyl – 3 LP : the 1962 double live album Cotton Eyed Joe remastered…. and the 1963 home recordings album Green Rocky Road remastered. 4 CD – same albums and 1CD of unreleased home recordings including a mesmerizing take on God Bless The Child – 52 Page Book with scans of Karen Dalton Personal archives (writings, photographs, memos) disclosed here for the first time. It also comes with a Large T-shirts and a Download Card.

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Fake Laugh -Honesty / Surrounded

Hot on the heels of his debut LP and follow up 7”, Fake Laugh AKA Kamran Khan delivers yet two more bangers for the kids, in the form of another double A-Side. The driving, dream-pop bop that is Honesty features guest vocals from Poppy Hankin of previous tour-mates Girl Ray, whilst the skittish, social commentary of Surrounded hurtles along set against a backdrop of razor-sharp melodies and instant-hit hooks.

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The Proper Ornaments is a great name for a band infatuated with their record collections—a group that decorates their spare little songs with only the most finely curated influences, like so many baubles on a tree. The Beatles’ White Album here, Pink Floyd’s *Meddle *there. The Beta Band here, Yo La Tengo there. The Velvet Underground everywhere. But there’s no reason to be cynical about this London quartet. The Proper Ornaments are based primarily around the songwriting partnership of James Hoare (of the wonderful now demised Ultimate PaintingandVeronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold. Unlike some of their ’60s-loving, vinyl-obsessed peers it’s possible to separate your appreciation of the Ornaments’ nifty influences from your appreciation of their songs. The pair craft beguilingly simple, guitar-driven psych-pop stitched together by gorgeous, laidback harmonies.

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The Proper Ornaments have been through a lot together. Essentially hinging on the friendship between James Hoare (also of Ultimate Painting/Veronica Falls) and Max Claps (Toy), the pair’s second album was largely an escape from drug issues and mental health problems.

Emerging from this, subsequent sessions took on a brighter, more upbeat hue, with a gentle, uplifting energy permeating their music. New album ‘6 Lenins’ is the result. Out on April 5th via Tapete Records, it was recorded at James‘ flat on a newly installed 16 track Studer machine.

“We started writing new songs in the summer. I was in bed recovering from hepatitis and very broken and tired so couldn’t do anything else apart from playing guitar,” says Max, “and the songs slowly started to appear. In August we realised we had five new songs each and free time, so we decided to record them. The actual recording only took two weeks and it was considerably easier than our previous recordings.”

Stripped from the LP, ‘Song For John Lennon’ is a curious return, with its warm tones seeming to envelope you from every side. A tip of the cap to the titular Beatle, ‘Song For John Lennon’ oozes out of the speakers like aural honey; completely addictive.

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releases April 5th, 2019

2019 Tapete Records

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French band Beat Mark teams up with British band The Proper Ornaments on a split 7″ inches single to embody their friendship built on several gigs around France and England these last years. “Flowers” by Beat Mark is a lovely indie-pop gem that recalls their debut LP “Howls of Joy” published in 2010. Built on the double singing of Karin Schlageter and Julien Perez, some nice jazzy guitar tones evoking the subtle sound of Orange Juice or Aztec Camera, it’s delicate and fresh as a daisy. “Two Weeks” is everything we love with The Proper Ornaments, the lovely harmonies of Max Claps (Let’s Wrestle) and James Hoare (Veronica Falls, Ultimate Painting), a Byrdsian jangly guitar and something that also calls to mind the pop side of The Velvet Underground. This 7′ on Croque Macadam encapsulates the best of both bands, strictly limited to 350 copies, it should be sold-out pretty soon.

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Proper Ornaments is the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy, Pink Flames). The band germinated slowly from their friendship, which began when Max distracted James from shop-keeping, as his then girlfriend attempted to steal shoes. Max was freshly arrived in London from Buenos Aires; helped out by Andrew Loog Oldham as it happens, to escape a drug-lead implosion of a previous band and a family member’s plan to have him sectioned.

The chance meeting blossomed into an epicurean riot of luminous highs and cold, dismal crashes that conversely produced music that was very well ordered and faintly angelic. It was so much deeper and more refined, serious, simple and affecting than anything suggested by the bare facts – a guitar band in East London, ten years into the infancy of a millennium that had so far freighted those five words with plenty of horrendous mental associations.

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They released a single on San Francisco’s Make a Mess and an early E.P. with London’s No Pain in Pop in 2011 – then a collection, “Waiting for the Summer” (Lo Recordings) in 2013, which bore the influence of past UK guitar music: The Beatles, Felt, Durutti Column, Television Personalities, Teenage Fanclub – framed by West Coast psychedelia and sunshine pop. Tape recorded and unpretentious in all sorts of ways, it seemed bound to slide around the sides of a snow globe-like mainstream, into that ambivalent fate of being a bands’ band: Real Estate, Woods, Crystal Stilts, and Metronomy solicited them for support slots.

Debut LP “Wooden Head” came out in July 2014 and was heard more widely. Perfecting the unique slant of their previous work and polishing it, the album crackled with hints of something majestic behind what could at first be heard, a secret sotto voce world inside. It was as quietly sly and mercurial as it was driving and accessible, and its masterly crafted simplicity drew extensive critical praise. The sweetness of the record, unless you took to a certain track with the lyrics, in fact belied their circumstances. They were living in Whitechapel on slender means and debauched psyches, crawling through the remains of homelessness, unemployment and divorce. Unpredictable, violent acquaintances that were occasionally made band members orbited and crashed. The album was made in a whirlwind of chair-breaking, knife-drawing chaos.

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James and Max started out writing the follow-up in January 2015. On “Foxhole” they’ve sliced away a whole stratum of their sound, removing some distortion and lowering the frequency of plectrum strokes to allow more nuanced, piano-led ideas to emerge. The title isn’t a reference to Television’s jaunty proto-punk record but seems to be more of a dark, protective interior, a head space sketched out on “Jeremy’s Song.” While their particularly recognisable production style (a bright, frozen counterpoint to the airless mixes one encounters more often) remains, three things stand out as likely reasons for the shift in mood. By the time they got around to recording again in James” bedroom in Finsbury Park that Summer, the instability around the recording of “Wooden Head” (and the five years before) had slid into a deep and seething acrimony. Second, they both bought pianos. Third, when the band, with Daniel Nellis and Bobby Syme joining on bass and drums went to record at Tin Room in Hackney in June, the pinch wheel on the 8 track machine was broken and somehow no one noticed. All but one recording, “Frozen Stare,” was hopelessly warped, so they went and did it all again from scratch back at James“.

“We ended up doing the whole thing there as the atmosphere suited the direction of the foxhole and we were more comfortable working on it in our own time,” says James, “We wanted to move in a slightly different direction from “Wooden Head,” away from the distorted guitars and into a more peaceful area.”
The mechanical blow out that had wasted weeks of their time and money coincided with a thaw in their friendship, and by the time they were re-recording they were both being treated conspicuously gentler by life.

“That’s why the record has a laid back, conversational, not imposing or anxious feel in my opinion,” Max says about their rapprochement, “There’s also the technical limitation of doing it on an 8 track which gives the songs a more sparse sound.”

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Themes of their previous work have been picked up again and honed. The sense of being overlooked and isolated, inevitable change and drift particularly set in terms of age, predominates. Undercutting the feelings of forward movement are ones of a gnawing permanent stasis and confusion wrought by memory. It’s a sombre but also more direct and open effort, from its first number “Back Pages” (“See me on the back page/of last year’s modern age”) onwards.

If “Always There” was the most melodically fluid but dimly lit point of the first record, there are another half album of songs here at least that are as strikingly gorgeous and unsettling. “Memories,” “Just a Dream,” “Frozen Stare” and “When We Were Young” are in this mould, as is the icy, slightly devastated goodbye that closes the record “The Devils,” filled out with piano reminiscent of Big Star’s “Third” or Lou Reed’s “Berlin” and cracked double bass. What was in evidence in two of their earliest songs – “You Still” and “Are You Going Blind?” – an understated, poetic play of moral sensitivity against a callous distance, of warmth and hostility, has reached its most sustained expression yet and gives their pop moments of a haunted love song quality along the lines of Del Shannon, Lesley Gore or Roy Orbison.

“Bridge by a Tunnel” and “When You Wake,” on the other hand, share in the breezily abstracted character of 2014 single “Magazine,” the later laying a sardonic (non)apology – “I know you know, things could’ve been different/but they’e not” over careful daubs of slide guitar. “Cremated” is also guitar-lead, and reaches an early apogee of morbid oblivion baiting, while “1969” is a really perfectly recorded grand sweep of sound that recalls Serge Gainsbourg and “Harvest”-era Neil Young.

Proper Ornaments hold the attraction of seeming to not try very hard at all and achieve something outstanding nonetheless. Quite apart from our attachment to laziness and chance which make this seductive, textures of dappled drums, softened-out guitars and vocal harmonies that slide along as effortlessly as this, any evidence of conscious construction spirited away, are in themselves totally ecstatic to listen to.

Album number two from this trippy Velvet/Chills loving band. Not sure they’ve ever surpassed that first EP, but I love to hear them keep trying. Proper Ornaments is the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy, Pink Flames). The band germinated slowly from their friendship, which began when Max distracted James from shop-keeping, as his then girlfriend attempted to steal shoes. Max was freshly arrived in London from Buenos Aires.

The chance meeting blossomed into an epicurean riot of luminous highs and cold, dismal crashes that conversely produced music that was very well ordered and faintly angelic. It was so much deeper and more refined, serious, simple and affecting .

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Taken from the album, Foxhole, out on January 20th through Slumberland (US) and Tough Love (R.O.W)

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After their debut album ‘Wooden Head’ was released in 2014, in between their other ventures James Hoare from Veronica Falls and the brilliant Ultimate Painting and Max Claps from Toy got back in a room together. Back in November there was another track by Proper Ornaments, It’s the second song they’ve shared from their second LP ‘Foxhole “Creamated -Blown Away” was the first but this from this wonderful duo of Ultimate Painting’s James Hoare and Toy’s Max Oscarnold. The band is back today with “Bridge By A Tunnel,” a Velvet Underground-indebted low-key groove that will have you comfortably easing into the work week’s wintry abyss. It’s from their imminent sophomore album Foxhole is due out 20th January via Slumberland in the US and Tough Love in the rest of the world.

The Proper Ornaments – Foxhole – 2017

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The Proper Ornaments are soon set to release their second full album, “Foxhole” via Tough Love, due for release in parallel with single ‘Memories’, which is premiering above.

The London-based band are comprised of Veronica Falls’ James Hoare and TOY’s recent addition Max Oscarnold. Foxhole is a follow-up to their first release in 2014, entitled “Wooden Head”, and working in a similar vein, this new album showcases Hoare’s knack for ‘60s pop songwriting but with cleaner, piano-based accompaniment. This was achieved using self-imposed limitations; “doing [the album] on an 8 track… gives the songs a more sparse sound.”

Here, The Proper Ornaments are now refining and exacting their process, both as composers and musicians. The resultant feel is more of gentle, resigned melancholy rather than the upbeat power pop of their previous release. In reference to this, Hoare says that “[they] wanted to move in a slightly different direction from Wooden Head, away from the distorted guitars and into a more peaceful area.” ‘Memories’ unravels at a leisurely pace, though is not without hooks in its winding chord progressions.

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Slumberland Records is pleased to announce the signing of London-based neo-psychedelic pop group The Proper Ornaments. Mining the rich territories of The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys, their debut album proper “Wooden Head” features fourteen thrillingly taut and melodic pop songs with a deep, dark undercurrent. Comprised of Argentinian Max Claps and James Hoare (also of Veronica Falls) – who both sing and write the songs – and joined by Daniel Nellis (bass) and Robert Syme (drums), the band have already shared stages with the likes of Real Estate, Woods, Crystal Stilts, Toy and Metronomy.

Maximo Claps arrived in London in 2008 on a one-way ticket from Buenos Aires, aided by former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham. Oldham had produced a record by Claps’ Argentinian band of the time but the group had fallen apart in a mess of drugs and acrimony and Claps‘ family were attempting to intervene by sending him to a mental hospital. The only option seemed to be to flee the country. As Claps recalls, “The day before flying to the UK I got run over by a car and had to escape hospital in order to make it so I arrived with bandages and my head all stitched up.”

A few weeks later Max walked into the vintage clothes shop where James Hoare sat behind the counter reading a book on The Velvet Underground, and attempted to cause a diversion while his kleptomaniac girlfriend stole a pair of boots. “She didn’t steal them in the end,” says Max. “They weren’t her size”. However, the shop assistant and the would-be accomplice bonded over a mutual love of the Velvets, Love, Felt and West Coast pop and began writing together, taking their name from a song by the pioneering soft psych band The Free Design. In 2010 they released their first single, “Recalling”, following it up with a five-song EP for London label No Pain in Pop. In 2013 Lo Recordings released all their output to date on a collection titled “Waiting for the Summer”, followed by the single “First Step Out” in February 2014.

Their new album was recorded at a studio in Hackney, as well as at home in their old flat in Whitechapel on a broken 8-track reel-to-reel bought off eBay from an angry guy who threatened to shoot them and chop off their balls when they attempted to return it – a terrifying experience for a pair of skinny indie boys. Taking inspiration from Berlin-era Lou Reed, Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Darklands”, The Television Personalities and West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, the songs are breezy and easy on the ear, with sublime harmonies and chiming Byrdsian guitar, but with a darker twist and a pervasive air of melancholy. Stand-out tracks include the beautiful but sad “Summer’s Gone” (about mental illness), “Magazine” (an upbeat number written from the perspective of a bullet in the barrel of a gun) and “You’ll See” (about how when you die you’ll see everyone you know, all there lined up in a row).

With “Wooden Head”, The Proper Ornaments prove that it is still possible to create an album of pure pop perfection. Max’s girlfriend may not have stolen the boots, but The Proper Ornaments are about to steal your heart.

“The joint project of James and Max, through romantic drama that borders on that of The Libertines. And when you hear The Proper Ornaments you’ll see why it’s all worth it. It’s like they’re meant for each other, like Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts”

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Argentinian songwriter Max Claps and James Hoare of UK indie-poppers Veronica Falls started a London band The Proper Ornaments with a penchant for hypnotic harmonies  and neo-psych. The stylistic touches on the album Wooden Head released as the Proper Ornaments’ debut Album, after last year’s promisingly ramshackle Waiting For the Summer, which collected previously released singles and EPs with those sweet Beach Boys vocal counterpoints sit Byrds style buzzing guitar interplay and some Velver Uunderground soundscapes. Claps and Hoare are joined by bass player Daniel Nell and drummer Robert Syme to complete the band.

As that list of comparisons probably suggests, the Proper Ornaments mix and match these related stylings with new bands such as Crystal Stilts and Woods, , and Real Estate  As with those bands’ efforts, though, Wooden Head is strongest when it leaves you remembering smart hooks and great songs