Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Introducing Art School Girlfriend – the most recent signing to Paul Epworth’s record label, Wolf Tone (The Horrors, Glass Animals). The musical project of Margate-based Polly Mackey, Art School Girlfriend was born out of the ashes of Welsh shoegaze outfit Deaf Club. Once the group disbanded in 2014, Polly, who was a founding member of the band, found herself drawn to London’s pirate radio networks and began making experimental electronic music, eventually releasing her debut EP as Art School Girlfriend, ‘Measures’, late last year.

Now preparing for its follow-up, Art School Girlfriend has shared another single Her music is atmospheric and stark in equal measure, exploring themes of lust, queer identity, infatuation and disillusionment

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ILL is a genre-evading band which believes in the power of disobedient noise. With a repertoire of precarious pop songs and frequent improvised departures, ILL revel in the right to be weird, exploring the borders between the funny and the sinister, the personal and the political, the mundane and the surreal.

“Kick Him Out The Disco” is a song about realising that it’s not You, it’s definitely Them. It’s about standing up for yourself and giving your manipulative exes and incompetent overlords a glittered middle finger.
ILL warmly invite you to “Give them the final shove” and tell them to go prorogue themselves!

“Absolutely fantastic.” John Kennedy, Radio X

“Grotty, wild, weird, frenzied music… fiercely political.” – The Guardian

The Band
Harri Shanahan – vocals and keys
Whitney Bluzma – vocals and bass
Fiona Ledgard – drums
Ben Nield – guitar and percussion
Music and lyrics by Harri Shanahan, Whitney Bluzma, Fiona Ledgard, Ben Nield, Tamsin Middleton

releases October 11th, 2019

Bold, weird, wild, wired, sonically luxurious yet never losing touch with its DIY-‘til-I-die roots, Thumb World is a voyage to the outer rings of Pictish Trail’s mind at its darkest, funniest and most inventive – a plugged-in, fuzzed-out, fucked-up contemplation on, as he puts it, “life repeating and gradually degrading, the inevitable cyclical nature of things, and the sense of their ultimately being no escape.”

Expect alien abductions, thumping beats, Trump-haired pigs, paternal panic, astronaut sex, bad acid trips, worse hangovers, lashings of distortion and a lot of anthropomorphic thumbs. “Our opposable thumbs are the things that separate us from most other animals on Earth,” Pictish explains, of the fat digit symbolism, “they are also the things that we use to swipe on screens, to separate ourselves from our normal lives, but which in turn trap us within an artificial reality.”

Produced and mixed by Rob Jones, featuring string arrangements from Kim Moore and drumming from Alex Thomas (Squarepusher, Anna Calvi, Air), Thumb World is Pictish Trail’s most collaborative album to date.

An audio-visual dialogue with Swatpaz, AKA Scottish artist Davey Ferguson – the man behind the Turbo Fantasy series and an entire episode of cult TV phenomenon Adventure Time – furnished Johnny with not just a graphic aesthetic for the album, but even helped him to shape the sound of the finished record. “I sent Davey a work-inprogress mix of the album,” Johnny says, “he came back with sketches in which he had reimagined Thumb World as an 80’s arcade game. Some of the songs are centered around specific visual images, inspired by Davey’s sketches.”

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Due for release on Fire Records on February 21, 2020. Four years in the making, Thumb World is the much-anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed Scottish Album of the Year Award public vote winner Future Echoes.

Releases December 20th, 2019

The Londoner plugs in the synths for a journey into the supernatural. Natasha Khan’s latest is a synth-pop love letter to the ’80s sci-fi and fantasy films of her youth. “Lost Girls” is the fifth studio album by Natasha Khan, known professionally as Bat for Lashes. It was released on 6th September 2019 through AWAL  Recordings. It is Khan’s first album since 2016’s The Bride. The lead single “Kids in the Dark” was released on 10th June 2019.

Lost Girls is no less fantastical. Loosely centered around a new character (Nikki Pink) and a gang of biker women who roam the sunset streets of an eerie, make-believe vision of LA, it’s essentially a love letter to the ’80s sci-fi and fantasy films of her youth. She wrote the songs while working on a script of her own, and the starry-eyed, big-screen synth-pop of “Kids in the Dark” sounds like the soundtrack to the big romantic clinch in her own coming-of-age flick.

Khan has cited 1980s music and cinema as an inspiration for the record, citing artists such as Bananarama, Cyndi Lauper and The Blue Nile as well as film composer John Williams.

released September 6th, 2019

Bat For Lashes rarely makes anything less than a big statement with each of her releases—even the one-off side projects—and Lost Girls is not an exception. In some respects it feels like a paring down; the songs are shorter, the concept a bit less cosmic or emotionally overwhelming, but the final product remains grand, a rich headphone experience as much as it is a backdrop for some particularly elaborate daydreams.

Big news from FMHQ: We’ve accidentally made a new album – it’s called “Making A New World” and it’ll be out for your delectation in January 2020. And…err…it’s pretty much a concept album about the aftermath of the First World War. Wait! Come back! It’s not THAT kind of concept album! Honestly!

The songs grew from a project for the Imperial War Museum and were first performed at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019. The starting point was an image from a 1919 publication on munitions by the US War Department, made using “sound ranging”, a technique that utilised an array of transducers to capture the vibrations of gunfire at the front. These vibrations were displayed on a graph, similar to a seismograph, where the distances between peaks on different lines could be used to pinpoint the location of enemy armaments. This particular image showed the minute leading up to 11am on 11th November 1918, and the minute immediately after. One minute of oppressive, juddering noise and one minute of near-silence. “We imagined the lines from that image continuing across the next hundred years,” says the band’s David Brewis, “and we looked for stories which tied back to specific events from the war or the immediate aftermath. If the original intention might have been to create a mostly instrumental piece, this research forced and inspired a different approach. These were stories itching to be told.

The songs are in a kind of chronological order, starting with the end of the war itself; the uncertainty of heading home in a profoundly altered world (“Coffee or Wine”). Later we hear a song about the work of Dr Harold Gillies (the shimmering ballad, “A Change of Heir”), whose pioneering work on skin grafts for injured servicemen led him, in the 1940s, to perform some of the very first gender reassignment surgeries. We see how the horrors of the war led to the Dada movement and how that artistic reaction was echoed in the extreme performance art of the 60s and 70s (the mathematical head-spin of “A Shot To The Arm”). And then in the funk stomp of Money Is A Memory, we picture an office worker in the German Treasury preparing documents for the final instalment on reparation debts – a payment made in 2010, 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. A defining, blood-spattered element of 20th century history becomes a humdrum admi nistrative task in a 21st century bureaucracy.

We’ve done songs about ultrasound and about shooting yourself for the sake of art and about gender reassignment surgery and about Becontree housing estate. We’ve even done a party tune about sanitary pads, called Only In A Man’s World, which is now streaming in all of the usual places  (huge thanks to Lauren Laverne and BBC 6 Music for giving it its first airing this morning.) If you want Only in a Man’s World with a side order of facts about the invention of sanitary towels head on over to our YouTube now.

Only In A Man’s World is taken from the new Field Music album “Making a New World”, to be released on 10th January 2020.

Making a New World can be pre-ordered on limited edition signed red transparent vinyl, CD, cassette and download from our shop along with the first ever FIELD MUSIC MUG (which you can dry with the Open Here tea towel). The usual discounted pre-order bundles are available; just look at these beauties:

Tourdates : 9 Nov – Dundee, Neon at Night 01 Feb – Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery 21 Feb – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms 22 Feb – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club 27 Feb – Whitley Bay, Playhouse 28 Feb – Manchester, Dancehouse 29 Feb – London, EartH

Whenever the end of summer rolls around, no matter how hot it is outside, I develop a fierce hankering for folk rock: the pastoral acoustics and spacious arrangements, the heavenly-sung melodies, and most of all, its omnipresent comfiness. How to Live, the debut album from rising British band Modern Nature—which includes Jack Cooper of Ultimate Painting (RIP), Will Young of Beak>, Aaron Neveu of Woods, and Jeff Tobias of Sunwatchers, among others—not only encapsulates everything I love about the subgenre, but re-invigorates it, with occasional nods to hard rock (“Nature”), experimental electronica (“Peradam”), and even kraut (“Footsteps”).

Saxophone and cello co-mingle with motoriks, field recordings, and stoner fuzz, as limber grooves flutter about the mix, aloft like the pigeons on the cover art. It might be hot as hell outside, but hey — it’s never too early for some sweater-weather listening.

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There was a Leeds music scene at the time that revolved around the Leeds University Art Department, and local bands The Gang of Four and The Mekons were doing well. Kelvin had briefly replaced Hugo in The Gang of Four and was recommended to Delta 5 as a drummer. Kelvin and I played in a band in York together so I went along to audition and joined in May 1979.

First release “Mind Your Own Business” / “Now That You’ve Gone” – 1979. The Gang of Four were recording their album, Entertainment, in the WorkHouse in the Old Kent Road and they decided that they could help us out at the same time. We stayed with them on a houseboat on the Thames at Cheney Walk, Chelsea and their manager Rob Warr arranged for us to go in and record whilst they were out at a Madness/Specials gig in Camden.

“You” was supposed to be the first recording but it wasn’t happening so we changed tack and recorded both songs in about 8 to 10 hours. We had only been together a few months and done about 3 or 4 gigs by this time. Rob took the tapes to EMI who were paying for the studio but they passed – no surprise there – so Rob went to Geoff Travis at Rough Trade. Geoff came to see us at The Global Village (later Heaven) and we met him afterwards and agreed to a deal on a handshake.

John Peel was given a pre-release copy and he decided to play it twice that night. The next day we got a call asking if we’d like to do a session for him – yes please!! Then, we were off and running.

“Delta 5” and “Make Up” included on this CD are from that session of February 1980. We recorded a follow-up, “Anticipation” / “You” in February 1980. We were gigging more often at this point and “You” turned out pretty well. More gigging in Europe and the UK; around 1980 – 81, we played quite a bit at The Lyceum in London and shared the bill with The Gang of Four a few times, Echo and the Bunnymen, B52s, Specials, Teardrop Explodes and U2 to name a few. We toured with The Gang of Four and Pere Ubu in 1980.

In September 1980 we did our second Peel session, which included “Triangle,” which is included on this CD. Later in September 1980 we went to the USA.

We played New York and all along the East Coast. Then we went West, and “Shadow,” “Circuit,” and “Journey” are all from a show we did at the Berkeley Square in Berkeley, CA. Back to England in October and we recorded “Try”/ “Colour” with the Bad Manners horn section who we had met at a festival In Finland. In February 1981 we toured Holland and Belgium. In March 81 we signed with the Pre record label in April we went into Rak Studios in St John’s Wood to record an album. Rak was Mickie Most’s studios and The Animals, Hot Chocolate and Sweet had recorded there.

We experimented quite a bit on the album and perhaps we should have just recorded the songs as they were – the session versions included here are more a reflection of how we were live as they were all recorded quickly in one or two takes.

None of us really liked the title of the album but it was a compromise – I think we argued quite a lot back then. We did a UK tour culminating in a headline gig at The Venue London. We even had a horn section including Rico on trombone.

We went back to the USA for a few shows on the East Coast in May and came back to England in June. We recorded “Innocenti,” “Train Song,” “Final Scene” and “Singing The Praises” for a Richard Skinner session in July 1981.

The album came out somtime late in 1981 and we went to Holland in October – I decided it was time to leave when we got back – I think Julz and then Kelvin left and Bethan & Ros made one more single with new personnel before calling it a day in 1982.

The early days were the best and although we did argue a lot, (what band doesn’t!), we also had a lot of laughs – for a couple of years we got to play live and make some records, and then that was enough.

A “must have” best of by this influential 1980’s Leeds, UK group that is still name-checked and covered by current bands.

What a Boost artwork

For all the upward motion suggested by its title, What a Boost basks in a cozy kind of groundedness. The subtle, psychedelic folk on Rozi Plain’s fourth album is as soothing and reliable as a mug of milky tea; these songs don’t rise and fall as much as they simply steep. The British singer-songwriter refined the record over the course of a year on the road, and it bears the marks of an itinerant existence: Worn grooves stretch on like the white lines of a highway, circular guitar figures convey a dutiful sense of routine, and Plain’s fragmented lyrics meander like backseat daydreams. On the hovering ”Conditions,” she sounds a bit like Charlotte Gainsbourg fronting the Beta Band as she sings “Is this the way for love?” with the nonchalance of a traveler asking for directions.

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Tweaked and refined during a year spent touring the world playing bass in This Is The Kit, ‘What A Boost’ nurtures its homely roots and then blooms into a record that isn’t strictly about life on road but is undoubtedly, and beautifully, shaped by it. Textural, repetitive, propulsive, the whole piece plays out like a soundtrack to the world flying past the window; all of the shapes, colours, sights and sounds, flickering fast as we try to take as much of it in as we can. 

The music of Rozi Plain has always felt like a freeze-frame. A colourful and graceful snapshot of the world, paused, suspended in time, and then gently toyed with, like stepping out of the linear world as we know it.

Introducing Art School Girlfriend – the most recent signing to Paul Epworth’s record label, Wolf Tone,

Diving is about desire and anxiety in equal measure,” explains Art School Girlfriend (AKA Polly Mackey). Written during a shift in Mackey’s personal life, the lyrics muse on the anticipation of new possibilities in her relationship. Grounded in quintessential Art School Girlfriend production elements – cavernous space, swathes of reverb and great rushes of air – Mackey’s vocal is centered in the ebb and flow.

‘Diving’ is the second side to Mackey’s most recent single ‘Come Back To Me’. Both tracks will be available soon on a double-A 7” vinyl.

Released June 12th, 2019

The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies – but there’s something happening in between, too. As factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads, the friction can be palpable, the aura electric.

The lines between city and country were on Jack Cooper’s mind when he named his new band Modern Nature. He took the phrase from the diaries of filmmaker Derek Jarman, written on the coast of Kent in his Dungeness cottage. Visiting Jarman’s home, Cooper was struck by what he calls a “weird mix of urban and rural” – such as the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands.

On Modern Nature’s debut album, How to Live, urban and rural cross into each other. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shine with reflective saxophone accents. Throughout this continuous work, where no song ever really seems to end, there’s an indelible feeling of constant forward motion. It’s as if the band is laying down a railway and riding it simultaneously, and you can hear all kinds of landscapes passing by.

The endless feel of How to Live was inspired by Cooper’s experience making his 2017 solo album Sandgrown. It was the first time he made a record with a defined theme – a suite of songs about his hometown of Blackpool – and imposing a narrative framework turned out to be refreshingly liberating. “When I started thinking about a new project,” he recalls, “going back to making an album of unconnected songs seemed as strange as making a movie with completely unconnected scenes.”

As he began writing songs, Cooper was also tuning to the vibes of Earth Loop, an instrumental solo album by BEAK>’s Will Young (under the name Moon Gangs). For a long time, Cooper had hoped to work more with Young, who almost joined his first band, Mazes, and was in the touring version of his next group, Ultimate Painting. So he decided now was finally the time, as he puts it, “to make good on hundreds of late night ‘we should really do music together’ conversations.”

“Over the next few weeks I started sending Will songs, and we began meeting up, working on ideas and formulating the bigger picture as it were,” Cooper recalls. “Approaching the album as a film or play made complete sense, and from that came the idea to have a very defined narrative, reoccurring themes and chord progressions, field recordings and a set palette of instruments and sounds. Each song came with pages and pages of notes, musical references, films, books, places, words and feelings.”

Cooper is hesitant to explain too much about How To Live’s story, preferring to let the listener to find his or her own narrative to fit what they hear. But he can offer some guideposts. “Broadly speaking, the album moves from an urban environment at the beginning to an escape at the end…whether that’s solitude or acceptance or isolation,” he says. “At the beginning the songs reflect a different type of isolation, the sort of isolation or disassociation one can only feel in a very crowded, hectic environment.”

The vibrations of these environments come across immediately on How To Live. The album’s first line is “There’s a hum in the street,” and the rest of the hypnotic “Footsteps” masterfully paints a picture: “the click repeats, repeats, repeats”….”Isolation, repetition, spark burst fission”…”turns loops to the point in which they meet.”

Throughout the remainder of the record, ideas recur and sounds return, often forming new shapes. A careful guitar pattern sprouts into the halting “Seance”, which ends with that same guitar pattern flipped into reverse. The beatific “Peradam” revels in the cycles of nature, as Cooper asks to be led “out of spirit worlds, let it whirl, out and in, swirling like fireflies. The pulsing “Nature” takes a darker view of our current environment, calling it “the great failure” and concluding with the imperative to “lock them up and don’t forgive them.”

The richness of the ideas in these songs is matched by the resonance of the music. Cooper and Young’s organic compositions gain skin and muscle through the thoughtful cello of Rupert Gillett, the insistent drumming of Aaron Nevue (of compatriot outfit Woods), and the expressive saxophone of Jeff Tobias, from Brooklyn jazz/rock juggernaut Sunwatchers. Each track on How to Live evolved as these creative forces joined the group, and it shows. The entirety of How To Live courses with both precision and vitality. The band is closely tuned to the core of each piece, but also unafraid to throw themselves into every moment.

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The care that went into How To Live is clear in album notes, which map out impressionistic ideas behind each step – one block describes the song “Nightmare” as “the calm after the storm, nihilism, acceptance!! HOW TO LIVE??” – and include a list of the music and film that inspire Modern Nature. You can hear traces of those influences throughout the album – the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs, the searching melodies of Robert Wyatt, the atmospheric waves of Harmonia.

But ultimately, the music on How to Live speaks for itself. It’s a work of surprising layers and limitless depths, impressing more strongly with each listen. Modern Nature may have been inspired by the line between urban and rural, but with How To Live they’ve gone a step further, and created their own complete world.

releases July 23rd, 2019