As the dog days of summer splutter into the first mists of autumn we’re taking a moderately chilled approach to this week’s show with tracks from artists in Nashville, Halifax, New York and Lisbon, Portugal. Kick back, chill out and enjoy the music although there is, of course something bit more rocking in the first track.
Blue Hotel – Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden (Nashville, USA)
The State I’m In - Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden (Nashville, USA)
Seattle-born, Nashville-based Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden play lush, layered indie rock with sparkling melodies and shimmering soundscapes.
In 2013, the band launched a highly successful crowd-funding campaign via Kickstarter for their collaborative film+music venture, The Shape The Color The Feel. The project attracted the attention of many, including Huffington Post who called the “effort to bring the best of the past and the present together” “admirably ambitious,” going on to say, “the real beauty of the project is that just as it seeks to recapture some of what music has lost to technology, it’s utilizing the same technology to make that happen.”
Upon completion, KT+SOS turned the record over to a group of filmmakers and artists, handpicked by the band, asking each of them to choose a song and create a visual expression of it. The first of these aural and visual pairings, “Looking Around,” premiered on the Vinyl District in November and the most recent, “Best Friends’ Love” saw its debut on Esquire. Music videos and short films are set to premiere throughout 2014.
In addition to the short films and music videos, Australian artist Jessie English created a series of wet process photograms based on each song. The Shape The Color The Feel visual exhibit opened in Nashville on February 16, 2014 and will travel to several cities throughout 2014.
As this all unfolds, Tucker and filmmaker Miriam Bennett are working on a documentary featuring the creative community that has emerged throughout the project. For Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden, The Shape The Color The Feel is a sort of homecoming, but it’s also a leap into the great unknown.
Sep 26 The WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham, AL
Dec 06 Musica Akron, OH
Dec 07 Empty Bottle Chicago, IL
Dec 08 Plush St Louis, MO
Babylonis – M-PeX (Lisbon, Portugal)
Staphila – M-PeX
A tradição envolve-se com a modernidade numa relação que tem tanto de promíscua como de frutífera e verdadeiramente interessante. M-PeX é um projecto que alia a Guitarra Portuguesa à música electrónica, e que ousa explorar paisagens musicais nunca antes visitadas.
Uma experiência arrojada que estabelece um teste aos nossos sentidos, que se atreve a derrubar clichés e que prova que a música tradicional também pode ser moderna, ou vice-versa. Imagine-se o som cristalino de uma Guitarra Portuguesa. Imagine-se um laptop a debitar ritmos electrónicos. M-PeX é isso mesmo, música electrónica com Guitarra Portuguesa. Ou talvez seja Guitarra Portuguesa co electrónica. De qualquer forma, o projecto cruza estilos musicais aparentemente inconciliáveis. Mas afinal parece que é possível. O resultado não é Fado, nem electrónica, nem apenas a soma dos dois: é algo de indefinível que nasce do casamento da tradição com a inovação.
Which basically means that if you’re familiar with the works of Portuguese Fado singers such as Mariza you’ll know and probabl y love the sound of the 12 string Portuguese guitar. Now mash that sound up with a laptop generating electronic elements and you’ve got a new take on Fado.
Both tracks are from his Jamendo album, iPhado which you’ll find at https://www.jamendo.com/en/list/a136632/iphado
Thanks to Nick in Germany for the screen shot of his SnC collection, every single edition since 2006. He did describe last weeks show as “diversified”. Yes I rather think so, perhaps a bit too diversified! This week perhaps less so.
Season’s Rest – Paper Beat Scissors (Halifax, NS, Canada)
A welcome return for Tim Crabtree aka Paper Beat Scissors. We’ve heard a few of his beautiful etherial tracks in the past year or so including a couple of tracks from his live recordings at St. Matthew’s Church. This time both tracks are from the eponymous and solidly excellent Paper Beat Scissors album.
Tim is a Brit living in Nova Scotia and an active member of a vibrant musical and creative community in and around the city.
If you get the chance, do catch one of the shows on his current European tour – his live performances are very special indeed.
Watch Me Go – Paper Beat Scissors
Remaining dates on the Paper Beat Scissors Solo Euro Tour:
September 17 – Mainz, DE: Haus Mainusch
September 19 – Newcastle, UK: The Butterfly Cabinet
September 20 – Ramsbottom, UK: Ramsbottom Festival
September 22 – Sheffield, UK: Cafe #9
September 24 – Leeds, UK: House Show
September 25 – York, UK: TBA
September 27 – Paris, FR: TBA
September 28 – Augsburg, DE: House Show
September 29 – Graz, AT: Die Scherbe
October 3 – Reykjavik, IS: Kaffi Rósenberg
CMJ initial artist line-up and mixtape
Did I mention that the initial artist line-up for CMJ has been announced and it looks as intriguing as ever with loads of artists I’ve never heard of! That’s the point really – discovering new music. There will be more announcements in the next couple of weeks before the Music Marathon itself in NYC Oct 21-25.
The initial daytime panel programme looks rather good too. I often think that the quality of some of the panels is itself worth the price of admission, although youm can still save $25 omn 2014 badges if you’re quick about it. Having said that, the full badge is discounted from $549 but then that is for four full days of music, panels and the parallel Film Festival. A student badge will cost $365 less the $25.
It’s not cheap, but in my view, it’s excellent value. There’s also a free mixtape available from CMJ if you fancy a listen to something else a bit different. Free download here:
… and let me know what you like.
L’été - Wyatt (New York)
Walking Down 6th Avenue – Wyatt
WYATT’s music is born out of the Colorado calm and NYC craze that have molded Maddy as a writer. It continues on the folk/pop path they’ve forged, but this time it’s infused with bits of psychedelia, California dreaming and French revolution.
Maddy, Paul, and Alex Wyatt grew up outside Denver, right where the mountains start, and WYATT’s music is influenced by the space, peace and grandeur that Colorado exudes. Coming from French Canadian stock on their dad’s side, and having been taught songs in French from a very early age, it was fairly inevitable that Maddy would start writing songs in French. She embraces the inherent beauty and flow of the language, and enjoys the challenge of writing in a second language, as it forces her to keep things simple and efficient as she puts the pen to paper.
Here Comes Everybody is produced by Matthew Maroulakos (Waking Lights) and Grant Zubritsky (Alex Winston, Nina Persson) at The Den Studios in Woodland Park, NJ. It was mixed by Dave Robertson (Dangly Studios) in Brooklyn, NY and mastered by Hans DeKline (Sound Bites Dog) in Los Angeles, CA.
WYATT will be on the road through the fall in support of the Here Comes Everybody EP scheduled for release on November 11, 2014.
We’ve got a live recording from the high desert of New Mexico, Ghostly sounds from Seattle, Afrobeat from Brooklyn and to start, songs collected by a biologist in the Carpathian mountains of Central and Eastern Europe over a hundred years ago.
Ej, Lasko, lasko – Aram Bajakian & Julia Ulehla (Dálava) (New York City, USA) Rock Paper
A biologist was so enchanted by the music of a small Moravian village at the western hem of the Carpathians over a hundred years ago that he meticulously transcribed them into a tome of a book.
The songs had been carefully preserved. But how could they come alive over a hundred years later?
The NYC based band Dálava gives a beautifully idiosyncratic answer with their eponymous debut album (release: October 14, 2014). Based on the Moravian folk songs transcribed by biologist and ethnomusicologist Dr. Vladimir Úlehla, and led by vocalist Julia Ulehla (Vladimír’s American great granddaughter) and guitarist Aram Bajakian, the album vibrates with intensity, even when whispering and sparse. Prepared and distorted guitar alternates with eerie soundscapes. Ulehla’s voice teases and caresses (“Milá má”), then leaps and bounds (“Mamičky”).
“The song texts feel like fairy tales, like compact parables,” muses Ulehla. “They are so evocative of a whole miniature universe. We tried to give each song its own sound world. We knew nothing about the traditional way it was done at the time. It was simply a work of creativity and imagination. We were totally free.”
Bajakian has toured extensively with Lou Reed, who he played alongside during the rock legend’s final two tours. Bajakian then went on to perform over 100 shows alongside multiple Grammy winner Diana Krall during her much lauded Glad Rag Doll Tour. He learned from friend and guitar mentor Marc Ribot, and has worked with John Zorn and his circle to compose and perform challenging contemporary music (though often with a strong rock kick). He has also experimented with tender, more acoustically leaning treatments of Armenian folk tunes with his project Kef.
Ulehla, classically trained at the Eastman School of Music, left the opera world for the uncharted, exploratory territory of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, drawing on the experience of the theater icon and his collaborators to dig deep into the physical experience and ritual mindset of songs in performance.
The two childhood friends crossed paths again as adults, meeting up in Italy where Ulehla was an actress at the Workcenter. Eventually, they found themselves back in New York together as young parents and curious musicians. They decided to tackle the love songs and philosophical ballads, the recruiting chants and cryptic fragments transcribed by Ulehla’s great-grandfather Vladimír.
A ty moja najmilejsi – Aram Bajakian & Julia Ulehla (New York City, USA)
The Trilogy – We Are The West (LA, CA, USA)
We heard from We Are The West a while ago and now they have a new work out in the wild called We Are The West III. This is a single track offering somewhat confusingly called Trilogy.
Brett Hool together with his musical soul-mate, John Kibler, are interested in exploring the convergence of sound and space. For this recording they leave the storm drains and underground garage spaces of LA and head out for a live recording in the high desert of New Mexico. Yes, WATW really are interested in exploring the convergence of sound and space.
Their skilfully crafted music is layered into the context of very live performing and recoding spaces, resulting in songs of a haunting beauty and intimacy.
Their WATW III recording brings us close to performance poetry in places but always underpinned by fabulous playing and voices that reveal real passion. It repays focussed listening.
Ann De Witt has an insightful written interview with Brett and John in The Believer magazine
You can get the EP (if that’s what it is) at http://wearethewest.com/WATW/EPIII.html where there is a link to their Bandcamp page. It is offered on a pay what you like basis (min $3) have a listen and discover how much you like it, then let that tell you want it is worth – I’d say the benefit to my soul is worth way more than $3.
The bands previous episodes in the four recording suite are available from Bandcamp too.
Arterial – Lusine (Seattle, WA, USA)
Lusine is Texan Jeff McIlwain, an ambient/IDM musician. Originally a Texas native, McIlwain now resides in Seattle. After his diverse yet cohesive 2013 album The Waiting Room, Lusine, is back with a more tightly focused EP.
The release of Arterial, his fourth EP for Ghostly International, marks another successful foray into a niche that most artists would spend their careers immersed in. A calmly effortless work, Arterial is economical in everything it does, creating its own tiny universe to house expertly crafted productions. On the title track, crackling samples simmer like heated atoms narrowly missing each other, suspending us as we wait for release.
“Eyes Give In” encapsulates the EP’s feel, taut, with no sound out of place, and yet over the course of its five minutes warming into something undeniably human, even comforting. “Quiet Day,” the most accessible track here, demonstrates McIlwain’s gift for merging heady electronic music with the visceral appeal of pop, as his gorgeous synth melodies compliment submerged vocals.
Eyes Give In – Lusine
At 20 minutes, the EP is exactly as long as it needs to be, showcasing yet again the multiplicity that exists within Lusine’s work through songs that form a compact whole. As McIlwain told Giant Step in a recent interview, his goal is to find “beauty in strange places” and “warmth under the surface” through all his music, and on Arterial he fulfills this wonderfully.
You can buy it direct from Ghostly International at: http://www.theghostlystore.com/collections/music/products/lusine-arterial
Bella Ciao – Underground System (Brooklyn, NY, USA)
Underground System’s music finds its roots in Fela Kuti’s West African pioneered Afrobeat aesthetic that is chopped and screwed with the disparate influences from dance halls around the world. The band’s female frontline pushes them ahead with a unifying socially conscious voice, Underground System is a force: a freaky, dancey, multicultural party.
From the two track Bella Ciao EP a five track remix album has emerged, that truly displays the diversity of Underground System’s music. To create this album Underground System has called upon their extensive network of beat makers, electronic musicians, rappers and DJs to create five incredibly different remixes of the tracks D.O.N. and Bella Ciao. Underground System Remixed features reworked tracks from the Brooklyn-based trio Archie Pelago brings their electronics, trumpet, cello, sax in for a spaced-out disco remix of Bella Ciao. Globe-hopping DJ and educator Chief Boima twisted that same track into a dark percussive track ready for the international dancefloor. The Bella Ciao remixes are rounded out by none other than Peter Matson, Underground System’s own bandleader and accomplished DJ and producer in his own right. The track D.O.N. was put into the hands of Das Racist alums Kool A.D. and Kassa Overall aka Kool and Kass, the result is an epic extended verse track that only these two hip hop magicians would produce. The final remix of D.O.N. is the premier of the newest Underground System offshoot project Big Everything (Elenna Canlas and Peter Matson) dance floors beware!
The video for the original mix.
Variety again I’m afraid, with tracks from a bunch of Milwaukee collaborators, a film music studio not quite on the Pont d’Avignon, the legend that is Plastikman and, to start, a multi-instrumentalist obsessive in Portland, Oregon.
Violet Waves - Bike Thief (Portland, OR, USA)
Bike Thief is the brainchild of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Febian Perez. According to PDXPick.com, Perez was inspired by the Italian film, The Bicycle Thieves, when he named his band Bike Thief. After moving to Portland in 2012 and auditioning over one hundred musicians, Perez finally found band-mates who could help him realize his precise and complex musical vision.
Perez acknowledged that he knew exactly what he wanted out of the band back when he was the only member and living in Austin, Texas. It was tumultuous at the beginning, and Perez admits that he is a bit obsessive when it comes to his sound and, by extension, the pieces that make it. Perez is adamant, however, that this obsession comes from a place of passion: “I want to make our music as true as possible to the sound I hear in my head.”
Last weekend saw release of their debut record, Stuck in a Dream. Benjamin Violet, known for his work with Of Montreal, The Polyphonic Spree, and Kishi Bashi, directed the animated video for “The Burning Past.” According to Portland’s Deli Magazine, Bike Thief “capture sounds of deterioration and rejuvenation through crooning vocals and stirring string movements.”
Ghosts of Providence – Bike Thief
Swing – ALM Productions (Avignon, France)
A hip hop enthusiast from a young age, ALM offers us a journey through time. Starting with 1930s samples and swing jazz exclusively from old vinyl he builds layers out of those old sounds accompanied by rhythmic old school hip hop, sometimes very “dirty”, but always impressive. Everything is inflated by the very powerful and enriched sounds of vintage synthesizers and subs.
His work seems to be geared towards sound for sync licensing but you can still enjoy it free from Jamendo.
Just do it…every night – ALM Productions
Who Is Right Now? - Twin Bother (Milwaukee, WI, USA)
Twin Brother has been kicking about their musical aspirations in the upper Midwest in various formations throughout their collective years in Milwaukee, rooted in the steady musical (and comradic) bond between vocalist/guitarist Sean Raasch and drummer Tyler Nelson.
The energetic pop-rock duo, Jackraasch is where Twin Brother really took off, and their progression into their freshly determined (but still easy-spirited) music is a testament.
It wasn’t until Raasch and Nelson ironed out those early-20s’ wrinkles in their Jackraasch days that they set their form to fly true by joining forces with musical comrade, Lodewijk (“Lodi”) Broekhuizen on bass and violin and set to writing, together, with Raasch at the helm. The three matured and bonded with their new musical form, claiming its name of Twin Brother (holding familial meaning to Raasch), flying right and singing out with a sincere, new sound.
Early 2013 saw Twin Brother reach out, pull in and collaborate even further with several Milwaukee musician friends to set to tape Raasch’s songs filled with nervous conviction. Nelson’s busy but delicate shuffle on the kit and Broekhuizen’s steady bass and strings set the ground solidly for additional strings from Nathaniel Heuer and Amelinda Burich (upright bass and viola, respectively) and lapsteel from Shawn Stephany (all of Milwaukee’s Altos).
That collaborative taping lead to Twin Brother’s fully realized and sparsely beautiful self-titled debut, Swallow The Anchor which The Onion’s AV Club hailed as “[taking] the basic elements of folk and graft[ing] them to the fraying body of alt-rock.” True enough, Twin Brother’s debut held fast to modern folk efforts but was singed through with the defiant energy of the 90s — heartfelt and winsome but with plenty of piss and vinegar, playing off of Raasch’s lyrically acerbic but hopeful viewpoint.
Way To Be – Twin Brother
Exhale – Sonar Live Mix – Plastikman (Windsor / Berlin)
Richie Hawtin is many things – an extraordinary DJ, creator of the ENTER. experience, mastermind behind the M_NUS label, technological innovator, art aficionado – in 2011 he collaborated with British sculptor Anish Kapoor for an installation in Paris – and style icon. Before this, though, and perhaps most famously of all, he was and is Plastikman, an electronic music phenomenon whose followers are legion and fanatic.
Between 1993 and 2003, Plastikman created an astonishing body of work, one that didn’t so much define a time and place as explode them, expanding the dimensions of Detroit techno and redefining the possibilities of electronic dance music. Across six albums (‘Sheet One’, ‘Musik’, ‘Recycled Plastik’, ‘Consumed’, ‘Artifakts (B.C.)’, and ‘Closer)’ and numerous singles such as ‘Spastik’, ‘Plastique’, and ‘Sickness’, Plastikman evolved into one of contemporary electronic music’s most distinctive voices: minimalist, psychedelic, seriously groove-laden, and ever mindful of the transcendent properties of electronica.
On the evening of 6 November 2013, at the invitation of Raf Simons of Dior, a special Plastikman live show composed of entirely new material took place at the Guggenheim Museum, NYC. The album, EX, was released in June, and then days after its release, a second performance took place at the renowned Sónar festival in Barcelona.
Plastikman has now unveiled a live recording of EXhale from the Barcelona performance – the Sónar Live Mix – available as an MP3 / AIFF to download for free.
EX Plastikman’s first album release since 2003’s Closer, and is out now on vinyl, CD, digital and limited edition SubPac bundle. For the limited edition, Plastikman teamed up with SubPac to create a Limited Edition Premium Bundle: the album is presented on vinyl, with a signed certificate of authenticity and a custom Plastikman edition of the SubPac S1.
Here’s the video of the Barcelona performance.
An interesting collection of artists again this week a few of which take us off into almost uncharted and mysterious territories.
Every once in a while it’s good to hit your ears with something a bit different eh?
Black Eye Friday – Heavyball (London, UK)
Heavyball are a hard rocking indie/ska band based in London. They are a four piece whose sound fuses traditional British ska with contemporary indie. The music has distinct and uplifting melodies with a driving percussion heart and honest lyrics.
Formed in late 2011 when Nottingham brothers Bigface and Habs Salisbury and school friend Johnny Iball, began to play together. The band’s sound is indie fused with traditional UK ska. Influences include Viz, Shane Meadows and the story writing traditions of country and western.
Heavyball’s recordings have been championed by DJs such as 6 Music’s Tom Robinson and Chris Hawkins.
In 2013 Heavyball supported the Kaiser Chiefs on their UK and Holland tour, playing sell out venues such as the Manchester Apollo, Glasgow’s Barrowlands and Corso in Rotterdam.
2014 sees Heavyball embarking on a busy UK and Europe festival season, a European tour in October (Holland, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia) with a debut album scheduled for recording in winter 2014.
Small Town Hero – Heavyball
They have shows listed on their site – most of the upcoming ones are over on the mainland.
Our Conversations - Lay Low (Ölfus, Iceland)
Lay Low is the easy name of Icelandic songwriter Lovisa who has been putting out some gorgeously intimate music for a few years now.
The name Lay Low came about in 2006, after Lovísa was contacted by a local label that picked up on a raw demo that she had uploaded onto MySpace. Not one to waste an opportunity, Lay Low’s debut album ‘Please Don’t Hate Me’ was released that same year. An intoxicating take on classic Americana sounds, the record topped the Icelandic charts and became the bestselling original album in the country, winning no less than 3 Icelandic Music Awards.
She’s been a great favourite of Codger Cogle and The Grumbler for most of those years since they first saw her at TGE. This year, they got to hang out with her for a while after the show which clearly pleased the dear old chaps.
Our Conversations is on her current album Talking About The Weather.
By and By – Lay Low
The track is on her second album “Farewell Good Night’s Sleep” (2008) but Mr Cogle has the extreme presence of mind to record her performance at The Speigeltent at the Great Escape this year.
There’s not a lot of updating going on on her site but you can get hold of her music through the “Shop” tab in the menu bar on her site.
Hear more from Lay Low at TGE on PC Podcast 463
The Great Escape
I expect I’m the last person in the world to work out the significance of name of the festival.
Doh! It don’t occur to me until Sir Richard Attenborough died at the weekend that as well as having a big role in The Great Escape (1963), he also starred in the Boulting brothers’ 1947 production Brighton Rock which is, of course, exactly what we go to Brighton for – every year!
I just booked my ticket for next year. A pretty good deal at £43.45 for three days of interesting live music.
If you’re up for it, let me know and we’ll arrange a meet-up in Brighton.
Réalité – Silence (Bruxelles, Belgium)
More mystery. This is an album called L’autre endroit that has had almost 2 million plays on Jamendo since its release in 2006. The artist has provided no information and, as you’ll see the given url leads to a 3D designer who may just be the artist. Who knows.
Interesting sounds though.
Cellule – Silence
Shine – Catalin Dinu (Richmond, BC, Canada)
30 years old Catalin Dinu lives in Richmond, Canada. Although his favourite instrument is the bass guitar, which he took as a major in college, you’ll not hear much of it on this track.
This is from his second album, My Religion.
Born in a modest, middle class district of the city of Brasov, Romania he had dreams of becoming an actor, early before the age of 11. That’s when he moved to Canada. Years went by and he never really gave up on his bass. He took lots of lessons– bass, music theory, piano– and eventually landed himself a position as a bass major at one of the top colleges in Vancouver.
Tare Too Te Rut Te Instrumenta – HooYooSay (unknown)
I really can tell you almost nothing about the artsit(s) here.
The birth of hooyoosay was an occasional recording jam, a couple of guys playing some cover songs just for the fun of it, but eventually leading to an online release.
As the founding artists each had their own reasons for remaining anonymous, this idea was maintained as a principle when things further developed into an organized project.
So hooyoosay became this peculiar music recording project, having a variety of constantly changing unnamed collaborators, inevitably displaying a wide diversity in styles with their releases.
Googly Goo – HooYooSay
A somewhat exotic show this week with a slight variation of approach. We’ve got five fascinating independent artists from Amsterdam (with their take on the music of Curaçao), Montreal (singing in Spanish), California but with a song in Serbian and, of course, a German Ska band.
Take My Hand – Dirty Primitives (Lille, France)
The band comprises Jean Bernard Hoste: singing, feet drumming and basic guitar along with David Bausseron: guitar, noise / Fuzz and More Fuzz! The minimalist duo’s music is described as “electric and noisy primitive”.
Located somewhere near the crossroads of stomp garage rock and blues folk noise. The line-up offers two electric guitars, a bass drum, a hi-hat, and a few touches of “random loop” electro. Dirty Primitives played their first concerts in 2011
Chilly Winds (Trad. Appalachia) - moira smiley & VOCO (CA, USA)
Moira Smiley & VOCO have created on their new album, Laughter Out of Tears (released September 15, 2014 on Whim Records), pulling together people from Australia, Europe, and all throughout North America.
Redefining harmony singing with the power & physicality of folksong, the avant-garde fearlessness of Béla Bartók and vaudevillian combo of cello, accordion & banjo.
Working with voices has always been Smiley’s joy. A virtuosic singer, she works with artists as varied as Paul Hillier, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, KITKA, Tim O’Brien, Solas and tUnE-yArDs, and has sung everything from Stockhausen and Stravinsky to traditional folk music – which remains her deepest love, to the level that she’s spent time as a song collector in the Balkans. She’s recorded Irish sean-nós on her solo record Rua, been featured on radio, television and films, taught at the University of Birmingham in England and several American universities, and been the recipient of an enviable list of grants and awards.
In 2006 Smiley formed VOCO, a five-piece group of singers and players, with an improvisational – and uniquely vocal – approach to American and Eastern European folk music, and Smiley’s polyphonic originals.
“The band is made up of spare ingredients,” she says. “There’s usually cello, always body percussion, and everyone sings, of course. I write for three or four voices in harmony, and I play banjo and accordion.”
Laughter Out of Tears continues a journey Smiley has begun with VOCO’s three previous releases.
Oj Jabuko (trad. Serbia) – moira smiley & VOCO (CA, USA)
A second track from Moira Smiley.
Relojes – Alejandra Ribera (Montreal, Canada)
Alejandra Ribera has a small tattoo inside each wrist. On the right, in Spanish, is the word ‘Listen’: on the left, ‘Remember.’ They’re not for display, but reminders to herself, watchwords for living and art. And she does both without compromise on her long-awaited second album, La boca (release: June 10, 2014 on Pheremone Recordings), a disc that brings together all the separate strands of her life and creativity.
“My first album (Navigator, Navigather) came out in 2009, and people said I was crazy to wait to record the second,” she explains. “But I knew I wanted to work with producer Jean Massicotte (Lhasa de Sela, Patrick Watson). He was booked, so I waited for three years until he was available. And I was right; he was the person to find my thread, no matter whether I was singing in English, French or Spanish.”
In part, her approach to words comes from the fact that Spanish was her first language. Her father hails from Argentina, and the family spent a year there when Ribera was very young. Finally, when they returned to Canada, she announced that she was just going to speak English.
“But the sound of Spanish still feels very familiar,” she says. “It’s like something just out of reach, beyond a veil. So much of my writing is like a conversation with myself that’s very open-ended. And going outside my comfort zone, especially traveling where you don’t speak the language, stimulates me.”
But the Canadian-born singer-songwriter has always followed her convictions, no matter where they’ve taken her: to Glasgow when she was 19, to see her mother’s Scottish homeland, living in Paris and Malaga, or moving to Québec to work with Massicotte.
I Want – Alejandra Ribera (Montreal, Canada)
A second track from Alejandra Ribera which features on her album, a richly textured, multilingual album that reflects the artist’s roots as much as the journey she took to bring it to fruition. The artist, who cites amongst her greatest influences Rufus Wainwright, Chavela Vargas, and bagpipes, now divides her time between Montreal, Paris and Malaga where she continues to create..
August 20th, 2014 New York City, NY Joe’s Pub
August 21st, 2014 Washington, DC Bossa Bistro
October 3rd, 2014 Lavaltrie, QC Café-culturel Chasse Galerie
October 4th, 2014 Eastman, QC Cabaret Eastman
October 9th, 2014 Varennes, QC Maison Saint-Louis
October 24th, 2014 Saint-Georges de Beauce, QC Entrecours du Cegep Beauce-Appalaches
November 14th, 2014 Sherbrooke, QC Théatre Centennial
November 15th, 2014 Baie-Du-Febvre, QC Théatre Belcourt
November 20th, 2014 Charlottetown, PEI The Mack
November 21st, 2014 Margaretsville, NS Evergreen Theatre
November 23rd, 2014 Truro, NSMarigold Cultural Centre
November 26th, 2014 Saint John, NB Imperial Theatre
December 6th, 2014 Ottawa, ON National Arts Centre Studio
Lightswitch – Kuenta i Tambú (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
When Roël Calister, a Curaçao-born percussionist who moved to the Netherlands, began his career, it was with the traditional music of his homeland, everything he’d learned as he grew up. The band he founded in 2005, Kuenta i Tambú, played and sang acoustically. It even infused the material he composed. But in 2010 a sea change happened, following a change in band membership.
“Like a lot of people, we were listening to hip-hop, to dance music,” Calister recalls. “We started experimenting with beats and electronics to give our music the feel that fascinated us in European electronic music, music we really loved. We released an EP and the style we call Tambutronic was born.”
Since then Kuenta i Tambú have evolved and refined their music. They’ve introduced Tambutronic music to several continents, including prestigious gigs at Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center, and added a new singer, Diamanta, to make them into a five-piece. And, Calister says, “We knew it was time to make a proper album.”
For all its contemporary sound, though, the music of KiT is very solidly based in tradition.
Bool – Kuenta i Tambú
Our second track from KIT
Here’s the About video:
No Ska Today - Skabrot (Hünfeld, Germany)
“No Ska Today” continues with the philosphy of Skabrot’s previous release “Neotanzmusik” from 2012: music is diverse, colorful and true to life. The inspiration for this work comes from the expectations of society towards young people: Exciting, but back-breaking. Therefore the journey crosses Ska, Indie-Rock, Punk, Reggae, bliss and doubts.
Free album download from Jamendo.
… and here’s their “about” video
A show of considerable contrast this week with more music than is probably good for you. Like Benyoro (pic) it’s a bit of a meeting place.
An Sera – Benyoro (NYC, USA)
The band is, quite literally, a meeting place. Its name, taken from Mali’s Bamana language, means precisely that.
That the six-piece group would come together in NYC seems almost inevitable. The city is the polyglot home to a thousand different languages and dialects, where African music devotees can find their kindred spirits in recent émigrés from the continent. Where South African jit can nuzzle up next to merengue and the blues can sit next to Kenyan benga. And as the band shows on its debut album, Benyoro (July 8, 2014), it’s a place where the Mandé music of West Africa can thrive.
“What we really do is play praise music,” explains guitarist and ngoni lute player Sam Dickey. “We’ve just sped it up a little; it brings the music into a more dance-oriented context. Toumani Diabaté and his Symmetric Orchestra have been major innovators in this regard.”
The album is heavily weighted toward traditional Mandé songs, like the classic “Kulanjan,” but they sit with perfect ease next to three original compositions, and everything is given the Benyoro treatment.
“Listen to the first track, ‘An Sera,’” suggest Benyoro’s kora player, Yacouba Sissoko. “We make the connection with Congolese soukous there. That’s natural – soukous is hugely popular all over the continent, it’s informed every type of African music. But Africa is such a big continent, with so many different cultures, and we try to make music for all Africa, to put the different sounds together and create a new color.”
“We started out just playing traditional music, then we worked up some of our own material. A few of the arrangements pay tribute to Toumani in their style.
Moment Of Fame (ft. Charlie Clark) – Sugar Plum Fairies (LA, CA, USA)
Sugarplum Fairies was originally founded by Ben Bohm (guitars, bg vocals) and Silvia Ryder (vocals). After the duo parted ways in 2013, Ryder assembled a rotating line-up of co-writers and guest musicians, culminating in the creation of ‘Godspeed & Silver Linings’, which was released June 10 on Starfish Records.
Somewhere between Hapsburg and Honkytonk, swaying palm trees and swirling dark espresso, airy minimalism and waltzing Americana, the Fairies play melancholic songs on sparkling instruments. Think of an evening gown captured in Kodachrome. Gustav Klimt on Route 66. This is music for when you’ve been up all night but are still in control. Reminiscent of Nico and Leonard Cohen singing duets on accordion and ’58 Les Paul out by the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
On the album, ‘Godspeed & Silver Linings‘, SPF has crafted another expansive collection of austere Angeleno pop. The album was produced by Marlon Rabenreither (Gold Star, Lael Neale), mixed by Todd Burke (Belle & Sebastian, Ben Harper), mastered by Pete Lyman (St. Vincent, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Dandy Warhols) and featuring guest performances by Charlie Clark (The Reindeer Section, Arab Strap, Snow Patrol) and RT Valine (RT n’ the 44s).
Ladder – Wry Lion (UK)
As a dyspraxic asthmatic with Aspergers syndrome, it’s easy to see why Wry Lion has never tried to fit within the mould of a traditional emcee. Combining the technique and theatricality of Tech N9ne with the lyrical depth of Mos Def & Eminem, throw in a uniquely British quirkiness and a singing voice that is equal parts Mike Skinner, David Bowie & Ian Dury. Musically, he is one of the most dynamic artists working today, mixing his unmistakable vocal style with beats that mix rock, blues, funk, soul & jazz with a molten core of hip hop, combining these influences with a knack for pop songwriting that puts him light years ahead of most of his contemporaries on the UK Hip Hop scene.
Wry has just released his debut album Theatricks, an intimate look into the mind of an eccentric. Through a cast of colourful characters and esoteric storytelling mixed with a progressive political stance and emotionally charged perspective Wry Lion has created a work that deconstructs the tropes of Hip Hop while never losing sight of the need for a catchy beat.
Days Like These – Dee C’rell (London)
From the new double A-side “Chromatisch” on Holm Records
Holm records present a new double A-side from Dee C’rell entitled, Chromatisch. A kaleidoscope of sound manipulation and vocals entwined with the trademark elements that define Dee C’rell’s understated music making, Chromatisch takes jazz and down-tempo lounge into new territory, gently implementing the audacious music making of contemporary electro-acoustic jazz.
Days Like These is a chill-out and down-tempo mixture of jazz, electronics and sound design, embracing the idiosyncratic characteristics of Dee C’rell’s sound. There is contemporary electro-acoustic jazz integrated throughout the compositions, with reshaped sound design and audio manipulation. With the interweaved sultry vocals of Alda Olafsdottir adding an air of suspense over a complex but sparse rhythm, Days Like These is a delightful track for those lazy summer days and beyond.
The recording is available on iTunes and other worldwide digital stores.
Cassettes – Beef Terminal (Toronto, Canada)
Named after a meat processing facility in the west end of Toronto, Canada, MD Matheson has been releasing albums under the Beef Terminal name since 2000. The latest, “Canadian Patent” is the first since 2011’s “Humidex” release.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother to make another Beef Terminal album. After some bad experiences involving “Humidex” with labels, I contemplated just packing it in and making sounds on my own with no real intention to release it out in the world. I felt like I was just throwing more music on a massive pile of music that everyone else was making and just getting ignored, so why bother? But the point of this project has never been recognition or money, it has been about true fans of the music, who seem to somehow find it and get in touch, telling me how much it has meant to them.
Alex Chilton said: “Somewhere a long the line I figured out that if you only press up a hundred copies of a record, then eventually it will find it’s way to the hundred people in the world who want it most.” This has been my experience, and that’s the reason why I’m going to keep going and keep releasing music, no matter who is there to hear it. I’ve had times when what I was doing was popular and got some radio play, and times when I was completely ignored. But none of that matters.
I recorded the album starting in April of 2013 in Toronto and finished it up in Florida in early 2014. The name “Canadian Patent” comes from an old scaffolding company in Toronto, the name was painted on the side of a building (probably torn down now for condos) and I thought it might be a cool name for an album. It sounds kind of mysterious and weird to me, and as a proud Canadian I thought it might be cool to reference my country in the album name as well.”
Thank You England – Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank Jeremy (London, UK) direct
Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank Jeremy are two, well-know (and loved) London buskers who spent years arguing with the authorities – in and out of court – about the right to perform on moving trains, have now recorded an album called, unexpectedly, “Away From The Tube Trains”.
I met them on a London Underground train, travelling from Earl’s Court to Kew Gardens six years ago. I bought their album and gave Jeremy my Suffolk’n’Cool card. Last month he got around to calling me with an apology for the delay! The result, two more deliciously quirky albums of songs with huge integrity and honesty.
This track evoke one aspect of English manners which may have been retreating for some years but remain as part of the nations expectations as ever, and it’s wonderful to hear this simple gratitude for a country and its culture, not for a politician, expressed like this.
The bulk of the material was recorded in far-away, sunny Macedonia, although the title track itself was created in more nearby and rainy, Surrey Docks.
Mainly ballads, with a folk/rock/country sort of feel, they feature Mike’s talents as street poet and vocalist and Jeremy’s finger-style work on banjo and guitar.
Bongo Mike and Extremely Frank Jeremy on iTunes
Something’s Wrong – Neal Fox (Florida, USA)
An artist for whom I have huge respect. I played his track Swank-ay way back on Suffolk ‘n’ Cool 046 in December 2006 and a few others at improbable intervals since then.
At age 20 Neal had his first record deal. Three contracts, one music production company and 40 years later he is still producing great music. Only now, he’s doing it on his own terms and his own label. His sixth release Now it’s Personal came out in 2008.
Much of his work now is multi-media which creates even broader canvasses for his burgeoning creativity. Take a look at the video below.
Do pay a visit to his site if you have a few minutes, there’s loads to see and hear.
Gypsy Song – Freak Fandango Orchestra (Barcelona, Spain)
The Freak Fandango Orchestra is a multi-ethnic balkan-gypsy-punk band from Barcelona (Spain). The band exists since 2006 and is performing live since 2007. You can see them a lot around Barcelona but they also play at international venues, like for example at the New York Gypsy Festival 2011.
They are: Noe, Armin, Vitto, Jürgen, David, Xavi, Jordi, Alfonso (miembro de honor)
Their music is a explosive mixture of folk, polka, gypsy music from the Balkans and punk-rock. The band is composed by musicians with lots of different instruments (guitar, bass, drums, violin, saxophone, trumpet, accordion and percussion). They are influenced by artists like Emir Kusturica And The No Smoking Orchestra, Goran Bregović and Gogol Bordello.
In 2009 they published their first EP Love, Death And A Drunken Monkey
In 2009 they published their second EP Tales Of A Dead Fish with over 200.000 downloads (more than 120.000 downloads on Jamendo and 100.000 downloads on FMA).
The Freak Fandango Orchestra (www.freakfandango.es) present their 3rd album “Wild Goats and Useless Heroes“.
Financed trough a crowd-funding campaign and finally released in May 2014 it’s again full of energetic songs with crazy lyrics.
We’re going somewhat pop this week. Not exclusively and no, not your standard bland radio pop but some really rather interesting examples of how in the hands of real musical craft people every genre of music has the potential to surprise and delight.
Tracks this week all come via our good friends Adam, Heather, Vickki and the gang at Planetary Music in LA. I just mention that because its true – for no other reason!
Sophie Heppell and Melissa Walker spent the last six years perfecting the harmonies, grooves, calls and responses that became the Edmonton-based band Two Bears North. Heppell’s melodic sense, Walker’s incomparable groove and the addition of Nich Davies on drums have made the band unstoppable.
These two West Coast women finding each other in the prairies and bearing the North together; on a journey to figure out the complexities of the human psyche.
With upright and electric bass, vocal harmonies, electric guitar, synth, glockenspiel, violin, trumpet, drums and various percussion, Comeocean is bound to sound refreshing to music listeners anywhere. The entire album is an extended dialogue between the head and the heart. It is a constant yearning for comfort in our surroundings and relationships but realizing that becoming content and complacent may be the biggest fear of all.
They won the People’s Choice at the 2014 Edmonton Music Awards and their nine song debut album Comeocean was released December 2013.
Catch them in September at:
September 13, 2014 Kelowna, Canada @ Streaming Cafe
September 14, 2014 Vancouver, Canada @ Guilt and Co
September 19, 2014 Edmonton, Canada @ The Street Car
September 20, 2014 Edmonton, Canada @ Art in the Park
September 26, 2014 Calgary, Canada @ Broken City
September 27, 2014 Lethbridge, Canada @ The Owl
September 30, 2014 Saskatoon, Canada @ Vangelis
Body Fight Time – Eden Mulholland (Melbourne/Townsville/Auckland, Australia/NZ)
Eden Mulholland’s take on the pop music of the future comes complete with strange voices, ripped apart rhythms, momentary flashes from ethereal orchestras, and all with a complete disregard for genre boundaries. It may well be that Eden’s less conventional path in music -‐ he formerly was a contemporary dancer -‐ has helped shape his experimental approach to composition.
Ricky Birmingham: Drums
Eden Mulholland: pretty much everything else
Paris – Scenic Route to Alaska (Edmonton, Canada)
Scenic Route to Alaska is the story of three best friends from Edmonton, Alberta. Growing up together, Trevor Mann (lead vocals and guitar), Murray Wood (bass) and Shea Connor (drums and vocals), have been friends for as long as they can remember.
When they were first introduced to music, it wasn’t long before they had formed a band and began practicing together. Initially, the band was playing rhythm and blues, and rock and roll covers for hall shows and weddings but it wasn’t long before they were gaining demand around town. Becoming a kind of session band, the trio began backing up countless local artists of varying genres and accumulated the valuable performance experience that made them stand out as a mature young group.
After several years of this and having performed at nearly every venue in Edmonton, the trio finally made their move to create Scenic Route to Alaska in the summer of 2010.
The enthusiastic trio released their second full-length album, Warrington, recorded by Brad Smith and produced by Jay Sparrow, in June of 2014.
Westfjords – Stargroves (NYC, NY, USA)
Stargroves’ story begins like those of many indie bands, but unlike most such starry-eyed hopefuls, this dynamic group of NYC dreamers are making their fantasy a reality. Stargroves was the brainchild of NYU student and lifelong musician Teddy Watson, who fronts the band, writes their songs, and recruited its eclectic and talented members.
Inspired by upbeat, unique visionaries like Stars and Sigur Ros, in 2012 Teddy took an exotic three month hiatus to Iceland to get away from the constant drone of NYC and focus specifically on music. In the solitude of Reykjavic, Teddy relearned how to listen, to embrace the beauty of silence, and loudly celebrate the victories. Teddy returned to NYC with the majority of the debut album written.
The album is built on a full rhythm section that includes Teddy Watson (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo), Charlie Rauh (lead guitar, supporting vocals), Bryan Percivall (bass guitar, supporting vocals), Brad Whiteley (keyboard, synthesizer), and Max Maples (drums). Featured vocals are by Abigail Breslin.
The album Stargroves was recorded at Threshold Studios in New York City o ver the course of a year and produced by Teddy and some fine engineering by Jeremy Sklarsky.
Good Morning, Boyfriend – Prom Date (New Orleans, LA, USA)
Prom Date’s first full-length album is a testimony to the complex nature of relationships. The ten songs on Portraits highlight how love grows and fades as the distance between people changes.
The group originated as a friend-rock band with penchant for pop music. Experimentation with electronic instruments drew the group to danceable pop music. Prom Date was born from this synthesizer awakening.
After years of playing across Louisiana, the band settled in New Orleans to hone their sound. A self-titled EP in 2012 resulted in several regional adventures on the way to SXSW. Later that summer, sessions at Magic Ranch Studios in Austin, TX became the cornerstone for Portraits.
Their album Portraits dresses everyday issues in fabulous clothing. It was self-released yesterday, when they played an album release shows in New Orleans. They have another in Baton Rouge on Friday followed by a tour in September.
8.8.14 Baton Rouge @ The Spanish Moon
8.9.14 New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
9.6.14 New Orleans, LA @ The Beatnik
9.11.14 Beaumont, TX @ Texas Rose Saloon
9.12.14 Austin, TX @ Carson Creek
9.12.14 Austin, TX @ Spider House
9.15.14 Fort Worth, TX @ Lola’s
9.17.14 Denton, TX @ Hailey’s Club
9.18.14 Shreveport, LA @ TBA
9.19.14 Texarkana, TX @ Silver Dollar
9.20.14 Memphis, TN @ The Buccaneer Lounge
Save Me – Moxi (LA, CA, USA)
Moxi is an indie pop duo from Los Angeles, CA, built on the dreamy vocals of Anna Nelson and surrounded by the moody, atmospheric keyboards of Andy Toy. Drawing on elements from pop, classic cinema, and 80’s new wave, Moxi sets Nelson’s distinct vocals on a backdrop of big drums and electronic textures.
“Through the Dark“, the follow up EP to 2013’s “In My Dreams” lives up to its name as darker, more beat-driven, and more of a wanderer than it’s predecessor.
Teaming up with Emmy award winning producer Bobby Hartry, Moxi plans to release “Through The Dark” in the fall of 2014 with CatBeach Music.
Get Your Shit Together – The Wet Secrets (Edmonton< Alberta, Canada)
Swampy bass lines, primal drumming, dancing ladies with brassy horn stacks, keys, congas, & vocal harmonies galore.
Formed on a dare by Lyle Bell, Trevor Anderson and Kim Rackel, the bass and horn heavy quintet burst onto the scene with 2006′s A Whale of a Cow CD. Written and recorded within one week of the band’s formation, it was a clarion call to anyone within earshot that The Wet Secrets had arrived.
Their shows at The Great Escape were, frankly, unforgettable. In the very best of ways.
Lyle Bell: Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals
Trevor Anderson: Vocals, Drums
Kim Rackel: Vocals, Trumpets
Emma Frazier: Vocals, Trombone
Paul Arnusch: Vocals, Keys, Congas
You can still catch the interview I did with Kyle and Trevor at TGE on SnC416
Its a while since we devoted the entire show to just one artist. It’s something that I really like us to do because it gives a chance to dig a bit deeper into the music and background of some hugely talented independent artists – the very people who have the depth to make such exploration so thoroughly worthwhile
Gianna Lauren (Halifax, NS, Canada)
Its a while since we devoted the entire show to just one artist. It’s something that I really like us to do because it gives a chance to dig a bit deeper into the music and background of some hugely talented independent artists – the very people who have the depth to make such exploration so thoroughly worthwhile.
This week we focus on Guianna Lauren whose almost wistful music was showcased at The Great Escape. It’s a while since we recorded our conversation, just before I went down with what I’m increasing convinced was Great Escape plague!
We found a corner of the green room at The Blind Tiger, one of my favourite Brighton venues and I started by asking Gianna how the practicalities of music works for independents in Canada.
Originally haling from Ontario in Canada, Gianna Lauren released her EP ‘On Personhood’ via Forward Music Group on 5th May 2014.
The single ‘Anchor Down’ is a beautifully crafted slice of lush indie atmospheric rock, overlaid with softly percussive drums and serene guitars. Stylishly quirky Lauren makes dreamy songs, with real depth.
In this set you’ll have heard all six tracks from her excellent “On Personhood” album. If you’ve liked them even just a bit, please bear in mind that an mp3 podcast is fine to give you a flavour of the music but I’d seriously recommend shelling out the princely sum of just $5 to get the album in your choice of high quality format and listening to it full, glorious colour.
The very good news for UK listeners is that only four months after her first European tour, Gianna Lauren will be returning to England in September.
She’ll be playing four shows in England, including a performance at London’s Hoxton Square Bar opening for Sweden’s Jennie Abrahamson. Showcases at The Great Escape festival in Brighton back in May introduced Gianna’s music to English audiences through the UK release of her On Personhood EP. She is currently mixing a new full-length that will be available in 2015.
September 25 – Southampton, UK: The Art House
September 26 – London, UK: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen // tickets
September 27 – Cardiff, UK: Four Bars
September 28 – Bristol, UK: The Canteen