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StarStar is the 1993 debut album by Belly who were Led by singer/guitarist Tanya Donelly, a former member of Throwing Muses and The Breeders, the album showcases her sharp song writing and vocals as she finally got the chance to shine on her own project. The album features the modern rock hits Feed The Tree and Gepetto which propelled the record past gold in the U.S. and helped make Star one of the highlights of the early 90s alternative scene. Star still sounds as fresh and vital as it did when first released over 20 years ago. Reissued on 180 gram vinyl with a 2-sided B&W insert. Long out of print as a UK import, this is the first domestic release on vinyl.1. Someone To Die For
4. Every Word
7. Slow Dog
8. Low Red Moon
9. Feed The Tree
10. Full Moon, Empty Heart
11. White Belly
14. Sad Dress
15. Stay$21.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Dove (Awaiting Repress)The dream-rock band Belly blazed a bright trail in the '90s, releasing two albums full of taut, yet wondrous music that was memorable for its rumbling bass lines and insistent drumming as it was for its glittering riffs and airy vocals. Their new album Dove, which was recorded with friend of the band Paul Q. Kolderie, places Belly back on that trail, bridging the gaps between reverbed-out bliss and spaghetti-western drone and muscular, hook-forward pop.
Belly came together in 1991, when vocalist-guitarist Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, The Breeders) began playing with brothers (and fellow Rhode Islanders) Tom (guitar) and Chris (drums) Gorman, as well as bassist Fred Abong. He left before the band's 1993 debut Star came out, and Gail Greenwood, then playing around Providence, joined. Star was a hit with critics and listeners alike, spawning the alt-radio and MTV staple "Feed the Tree." The band toured extensively behind the gold-certified album, touring with the likes of Radiohead, the Cranberries, and Pavement and playing a show at the Hippodrome in Paris where they opened for U2 and the Velvet Underground.
Belly opened 1994 with two Grammy nominations, scoring nods for Best Alternative Music Album and Best New Artist at that year's edition of the awards. That summer, the band began work on King, their harder-edged second album. Belly toured behind that 1995 release extensively, opening for R.E.M. in Europe and bringing along Catherine Wheel and Superchunk for the American tour; their last gig was in November 1995, and the band officially dissolved in 1996.
Since then, Belly's members kept busy, with Donelly releasing a string of hailed solo albums and touring with Throwing Muses, Greenwood performing with brash rockers L7 and revved-up punker Bif Naked, and Tom Gorman performing with fellow New England alt-rockers Buffalo Tom and Donelly's Throwing Muses partner Kristin Hersh before launching a photography business in New York with his brother. They had occasionally broached the topic of getting back together in individual settings; Greenwood and Tom Gorman separately collaborated with Donelly on her Swan Song Series omnibus.
The idea of a Belly reunion, though, gained serious traction a few years ago. "We had just gotten to the point where we were just missing each other, and missing the music," says Donelly. "The music I've been doing in the past several years has been very collaborative, which made me kind of homesick for Belly; I missed that sense of having a band."
Early rehearsals showed that Belly was still very much a unit, the years falling away as the quartet went to work on older material. "We immediately fell back into our original relationship and musical dynamics," says Donelly. "Just a lot of laughing-it felt like a real reunion in the best and truest sense from the first practice on. We had a bit of trepidation: 'Is this going to work?' But the first practice really set all our anxiety to rest."
Eventually, though, the band's members, who had collaborated sporadically in the interim, got the itch to bring new songs into their set as a curveball for listeners-and for themselves, too. "You almost want to put yourself in the deep end," says Chris Gorman. "That just seems to be the inclination for creative people-you never just want to feel comfortable. You're always going, 'Well, what's the part of the night that's really going to make me really, really nervous and freaked out?' And that usually is, 'Let's try a new song.' When it works, that's the most the rewarding moment in the night."
Belly previewed some of their new songs, including the prowling "Army of Clay" and the folk-tinged "Human Child," at their early reunion dates to effusive audiences. "The crowds have been amazing," says Donelly. "We've never really operated on a level before where live shows feel genuinely communal. We got such great feedback on the new stuff-people were just as enthusiastic about it," Donelly recalls. That handful of tracks blossomed into Dove, a dozen songs that nod to past glories while also showcasing the four members' growth as songwriters and musicians, adding dramatic flourishes like strings and vibed-out guitars to the group's already widescreen sound.
Belly recorded most of the rhythm tracks for Dove at Stable Sound Studios in Portsmouth, RI, vocals at Greenwood's home studio, and guitars and overdubs in Tom's and Tanya's home studios. The songs spun out of a new songwriting system that was necessitated by the four members' far-flung hometowns. "It required a lot of trust," says Donelly, "because we were sending raw snippets to each other-anything from 30-second pieces to full songs. Tom and Gail and I would send demos back and forth, and then Chris would add drums to whatever snippets he'd heard, and Tom would sew everything together. It would sometimes be a very circuitous route to a song, but it was really fun."
"All three of the songwriters were locked in and working in a way that complemented the others' strengths," says Chris Gorman. "Gail's writing was in top form. Tanya is able to make anybody's song her own-she's got that gift. And Tom has really honed his arrangement and production style."
The shimmering, expansive "Shiny One," which pairs dreamy vocal harmonies with urgent riffing and dramatic string flourishes, is one of the best examples of Belly's new process. "I have a lot of affection for that one," says Donelly. "It was the first completely collaborative song we've ever done-Gail wrote the riff and the chorus, Tom and I wrote the verse and bridge, Chris's parts shaped the direction and vibe. When I hear it, I hear all four of us equally."
While Dove's flight was aided by previews of some new tracks during the band's reunion tour, the band is excited to release the album in full, and to show it off to audiences around the world. "We're all looking forward to presenting these songs in a live setting, and having the opportunity to play together again," says Chris Gorman. "We should be in for a really exciting year."1. Stars Align
2. Shiny One
5. Suffer the Fools
7. Human Child
8. Army of Clay
10. Heartstrings$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
The Last Days of OaklandFantastic Negrito is the incarnation of a musician who is reborn after going through a lot of awful shit. In fact, the name Fantastic Negrito represents his third rebirth, literally coming back from death this time. The narrative on this man is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy. Fantastic Negrito is the story of a man who struggled to make it, who got it, and who lost it all. For anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn't, this is your music; blues harnessed, forged in realness. For anyone who ever considered getting their old high-school band back together, this is your inspiration. These are singular songs by a true musician who writes and produces. They are his fuel as he embarks on the third comeback of his life.
The first life ('who am I and where am I going?'). Fantastic Negrito was raised in an orthodox Muslim household. His father was a Somali-Caribbean immigrant who mostly played traditional African music. When, at the age of 12, Negrito's family moved from Massachusetts to Oakland, he was hit with an intense culture shock. Oakland in 1980s was a million miles from Negrito's conservative childhood. He went from Arab chants to Funkadelic in one day, living in the heart of one of the wildest, most infamous, most vibrant black communities in the nation. Shit was extra real in Oakland.
By the time he was 20, Negrito had taught himself to play every instrument he could get his hands on. He was recording music, but he was also caught up in street shit. This went on for several years until a near death encounter with masked gunmen. After that Negrito packed his bags and headed to LA, armed with a demo on cassette.
The second life ('I want to be a star I think'). It didn't take long for Negrito to find himself entrenched in the 'Hollywood' lifestyle; clubs and bitches and bullshit politics that have nothing to do with great music. Negrito signed with a big time manager and soon after that, a million dollar deal at Interscope and soon after that, creative death.
The record deal was a disaster. Gangsta rap was ruling the airwaves and Negrito was in the wrong place at the wrong era. Negrito came out of the deal with a failed album and his confidence gutted. He was infected by the constant emphasis on 'what would sell'; which looks, hooks and gimmicks would attract an audience. He lost all sense of himself. The songs stopped coming to him, so he quit. He sold all of his shit and he quit.
In 2000, Negrito was in a near fatal car accident that put him in a coma. For four weeks it was touch and go. Because his muscles atrophied while bedridden, he had to go through months of frustrating physical therapy to regain use of his legs. Rods were placed throughout his body. And worst of all, his playing hand was mutilated. Though he rehabbed intensely for several years, the damage was permanent. In 2008, he returned home to Oakland.
The third life (the birth of Negrito). Back in Oakland, Negrito forgot about life as a musician. He settled down, planted vegetables, raised his own chickens, and made money growing weed. He also settled into being a man, on his own, clear of the distractions of wanting to be a star. This is when his specific POV of the world came into focus. His conservative Muslim values melded with the liberal, multi-cultural world of Oakland. The cynicism that comes from struggle made room for the hope that comes from cheating death. He truly knew who he was. He was confident about his place in the world because he understood it as much as any man can. And then his son was born.
With his son's entrance into the world, all the creative energy Negrito bottled for years came rushing out. His musical choices were sharp and without doubt. He began recording without the hindrances that come with chasing trends. Fuck what's hot now, what moves me? Negrito turned to the original DNA of all American music, the Blues. The beating life had given him primed him to channel his literal and musical forefathers: the Blues musicians of the Delta.
For Fantastic Negrito, derivative is the devil so to ensure his sound is his own, every chord comes from a place of immediacy. Immediacy opens the door for instinct. Instinct is God's tool that makes an artist into an individual. Negrito leaves the original sounds of Lead Belly and Skip Woods intact and builds bridges to modernity by looping and sampling his own live instruments.
When you listen to Negrito, you're invited to hear the story of life after destruction. Your dream can die. You probably will give up. But from there, you can start everything over.1. Intro - The Last Days of Oakland
2. Working Poor
3. About A Bird
4. Scary Woman
5. Interlude - What Would You Do?
6. The Nigga Song
7. In the Pines (Oakland)
8. Hump Thru the Winter
9. Lost In A Crowd
10. Interlude 2 - El Chileno
11. The Worst
12. Rant Rushmore
13. Nothing Without You
14. Push Back
15. The Shadows$23.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now