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Call Me Maybe'
KissThe second studio album from Canadian vocalist Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012's Kiss follows up the smash success of her 2011 single, Call Me Maybe. With production from a bevy of name artists such as Max Martin, Toby Gad, Josh Ramsay, and others, the album includes, in addition to Call Me Maybe, Jepsen's duet with Owl City on Good Time and the long-awaited pairing with pop singer Justin Bieber on Beautiful. Kiss also features the lead off single Tonight I'm Getting Over You.1. Tiny Little Bows
2. This Kiss
3. Call Me Maybe
5. Good Time
6. More Than A Memory
7. Turn Me Up
8. Hurt So Good
10. Tonight I'm Getting Over You
11. Guitar String / Wedding Ring
12. Heart Is A Muscle$24.99Vinyl LP Picture Disc - Sealed Buy Now
UNIM-SIL-4010xCarly Rae Jepsen
Emotion (Awaiting Repress)Emotion follows Jepsen's 2012 U.S. debut Kiss, which featured the viral smash, Call Me Maybe. Jepsen recorded Emotion in Los Angeles, New York and Stockholm, working with a bevy of producers and songwriters from across the musical spectrum. While the LP boasts contributions from proven pop hitmakers like Sia, Shellback (Taylor Swift, Maroon 5) and Greg Kurstin (Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry), it also features rising stars like Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Madonna), Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij and Blood Orange mastermind DevontÉ Hynes.
- Rolling Stone1. Run Away With Me
3. I Really Like You
4. Gimmie Love
5. All That
6. Boy Problems
7. Making The Most Of The Night
8. Your Type
9. Let's Get Lost
10. LA Hallucinations
11. Warm Blood
12. When I Needed You$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
City Wrecker EPHello everyone and anyone.
I recently made some more recordings under the name Moonface, which take the form of a 5 song EP called City Wrecker, and run at around half an hour.
City Wrecker is the title track of the ep. I wrote it before Miley Cyrus released "Wrecking Ball", but I cannot prove it. Oh well. In describing the song (and maybe the whole EP) I would say it's the aesthetic opposite of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus, which is not to say that's a good thing or a bad thing, just an apple for you to hold up beside your orange. Regardless of all that, my friend Eetu, who recorded this EP, still likes to call the song "Wrecking Ball" and to sometimes call me Miley, but that's okay cuz we're buddies.
I lived in Finland for a couple of years, but now I live in a little town nestled in the woods of Vancouver Island. This is a recent move, and so City Wrecker represents the last album I completed in Helsinki. Maybe I will go back to that big icy lighthouse, and all the lovely weirdos within I have come to love, one day, but for now I have used it up.
I have a tendency to wreck the places I live. I am a luster scraper; a green grass imaginer. I wreck places emotionally, as in, even though they stay the same objectively, they somehow worsen in my heart. I wreck their meaning, and so ultimately their function. No more crackling inspiration. I waste my own time. I get bored. I turn gardens into dust bowls.
And I am a city wrecker not just for myself, but for those close to me as well, for my wrecking is a quiet and creeping poison that is hard to identify; hard to see coming through my mist of moods. I fuss, and then still am dissatisfied, making my loved ones feel sad and helpless, angry and confused, and perhaps most terribly, responsible. Though of course they are blameIess and magnificent.
I suppose this is why I have moved so many times in my life. It is not a good characteristic, and one I should work toward eradicating from my personality. But having regret is also unhealthy. So, I am Popeye?
Anyway, all of the songs on this ep, in one way or another, are about places. Going in and going out. Regret and hope. The past and the future. Ducking out early from your own farewell party. That's why it's called City Wrecker.
-Spencer Krug1. The Fog
2. City Wrecker
3. Running in Place with Everyone
4. Helsinki Winter 2013
5. Daughter of a Dove$13.99Vinyl EP - Sealed Buy Now
The HybridSCINTILLA is a science fiction thriller film, set deep underground in the wilds of a former
Soviet state where strange genetic experiments are taking place. The film has inspired a
newly formed super-group THE SCINTILLA PROJECT, fronted by SAXON's own BIFF BYFORD,
who will be releasing their album THE HYBRID, featuring songs inspired by the film.
Biff Byford states:' I was introduced to Lionel Hicks by Toby Jepson while recording 'Call To Arms'.
This was leading Saxon to write a song for the Lionel Hicks produced film 'Scintilla'. As the film
developed through production, our minds began working - maybe we could put together a
concept album based and inspired by the film. While I was having a break from writing with
Saxon me, Lionel Hicks and Anthony Ritchie ( both 'Balance Of Power') decided that I would
produce and also sing on the album, I brought in Andy Sneap to co-produce and play guitar on
some tracks'.1. Scintilla (One Black Heart)
2. Beware The Children
4. Some Nightmare
7. The Damned And The Divine
8. Life In Vain
9. No Rest For The Wicked$26.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Lotta Sea Lice (Awaiting Repress)KURT VILE: We ran into each other on the road
in various continents and talked about the
recordings. I guess it wasn't till I had another
tour booked for the following summer in
Australia that we thought we should record as
much as we can, no major goal to make it a full
length but it came together that way because
the vibe was so strong. I love working with
Courtney, the collaboration was laid back with
COURTNEY BARNETT: Now we finished the
album, we dreamt up an amazing band which
we've called THE SEA LICE (inspired by a Stella
Mozgawa beach-side-story) and me n Kurt will
be standing there out front with our guitars
singing songs together. Songs from this album
we did, a handful of our own songs from
previous albums, maybe some old folk songs n
what not. Harmonies and guitarmonies galore.
Lotta Sea Lice is the result of 8 days in the
studio spread over almost 15 months when
Courtney and Kurt's respective touring
schedules allowed for them to be in the same
place at the same time.1. Over Everything
2. Let It Go
3. Fear Is Like A Forest
4. Outta The Woodwork
5. Continental Breakfast
6. On Script
7. Blue Cheese
8. Peepin Tomboy
9. Untogether$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
UNIM-CON-3291xThe New Pornographers
Whiteout Conditions'Cohesive.' It's a word New Pornographers founder A.C. Newman still sounds a little bit surprised to say as he describing the band's seventh album, Whiteout Conditions. It's a quality that you wouldn't necessarily intuitively associate with a so-called supergroup that, by its very collective nature, seems bound to have a good deal of stylistic variance built into the formula (or lack of it). Can an outfit built on the appeal of multiple frontmen and frontwomen develop a signature sound after all? Maybe, and maybe better late than never.
'On other records,' says Newman, 'it felt like sometimes it was very clear: oh, this is a fast one with me singing, and then the next would be a slow song with Neko (Case) singing. And I've always liked that in a White Album kind of way - being a band that just does whatever the hell they want from track to track. But when we did Brill Bruisers (the band's previous album, released in 2014), it was the first time where I thought: Let's try to make a cohesive record. Let's try to give it a sound and see how focused we can make it. And on this record, I think we went a lot farther down that road.'
The focus on Whiteout Conditions (The New Pornographers' first album on their own imprint, Collected Works Records, in partnership with Concord Records) comes down to a couple of notable shifts: increased tempos, for one, and increasingly blended vocals, for another. There are fewer extended solo lead vocal turns by any of the band members and more choral effects or interplay between the men and women in the group. If you're of a certain age, you might start thinking of them as an indie-rock Mamas and the Papas, or... 'I'll take that,' Newman says, 'but the Fifth Dimension is always the one we're going for, way more than the Mamas and the Papas! I hesitate to throw out catchphrases that might be repeated back to me a thousand times, but at the beginning of this record, there was some thinking that we wanted it to be like a Krautrock Fifth Dimension. Of course, our mutated idea of what Krautrock is probably doesn't sound like Krautrock at all. But we were thinking: Let's try and rock in a different way.'1. Play Money
2. Whiteout Conditions
3. High Ticket Attractions
4. This Is The World Of The Theatre
5. Darling Shade
6. Second Sleep
8. We've Been Here Before
10. Clock Wise
11. Avalanche Alley$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Front Porch SessionsSouthern Indiana-bred singer-guitarist Reverend Peyton is the bigger-than-life frontman of Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. He has earned a reputation as both a singularly compelling performer and a persuasive evangelist for the rootsy country blues styles that captured his imagination early in life and inspired him and his band to make pilgrimages to Clarksdale, Mississippi to study under such blues masters as T-Model Ford, Robert Belfour and David "Honeyboy" Edwards.
That passionate inspiration has made Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band America's foremost country blues outfit and fuels the Rev's new release, The Front Porch Sessions. Peyton's dazzling guitar mastery is equaled here by his knack for vivid, emotionally impactful songwriting, and his originals are matched in their authenticity by the deeply felt vintage blues tunes that he covers. The album showcases the Rev's irrepressible personality while echoing the enduring spirit of such acoustic blues icons as Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Furry Lewis, whose "When My Baby Left Me" receives a memorable reading.
"It started as a literal whim on my part, but it turned into something really special," Reverend Peyton says of this new collection. "I wanted it to feel like you're on my front porch. You can almost hear the wood creaking."
The Front Porch Sessions maintains a potent level of intensity throughout, from the upbeat optimism of the album-opener "We Deserve a Happy Ending" to the blunt slice-of-life rural reality of "One More Thing" to the rollicking, playful swagger of "Shakey Shirley," "One Bad Shoe" and "Cornbread and Butterbeans." Meanwhile, the instrumentals "It's All Night Long" and "Flying Squirrels" demonstrate the Rev's nimble, imaginative guitar work."
I didn't have much planned when I went into the studio," the Reverend notes. "I went into the studio with some new songs and some old songs that I've always wanted to try. At first, I thought 'Well, maybe we'll make it a download or release a single.' But it took on a life of its own, and when it was all said and done, I was as proud of it as anything I've ever done. To me, it was a lesson in not overthinking things; I just went in and let my gut guide me."
We recorded this album at a studio called Farm Fresh, which is right down the street from my house," he continues. "It's in the shade of the oldest poplar tree in Indiana, and there's a graveyard next to it and train tracks run across there. In fact, I think you can hear the train on one track on this record. The studio's in an old church, and the main sanctuary is the tracking room, so the haunting reverb that you hear is that room.
"We used a lot of vintage gear in the recording. I love that organic sound, and I'm always chasing that in everything I do. I just like things that feel timeless. Feeling timeless to me is way more important than feeling old. When you try to make something sound old, you're trying too hard."
That lifelong pursuit of musical authenticity was instilled in his musical consciousness while Peyton was growing up in rural Indiana, where his early love for blues, ragtime, folk, country and other traditional styles gave him a sense of direction that would soon manifest itself in his own music. He and the Big Damn Band won a large and loyal fan base, thanks to their tireless touring efforts and high-energy showmanship, along with such acclaimed albums as Big Damn Nation, The Gospel Album, The Whole Fam Damnily, The Wages, Between the Ditches, So Delicious and the Charlie Patton tribute disc Peyton on Patton.
Despite his prior achievements, the Rev views The Front Porch Sessions as a personal creative milestone.
"This record's very personal for me, because so much of it is just me," he says. "The Big Damn Band is on there, but it's mostly me. There's washboard only in a couple of songs, and the drum kit is a suitcase drum set that we put together in the studio. It's a snapshot of the week we spent in the studio, but it also represents a lifetime of me building up to it."
The Front Porch Sessions has also spawned a series of audio-vÉritÉ companion videos, many of them shot on the Rev's actual front porch, that embody the album's intimacy and immediacy. "A lot of these songs started on the porch, and that's what the videos are," he says. "I'd be pickin' and go, 'I like the way this sounds, let me get my camera.'"
Reverend Peyton has already begun to integrate The Front Porch Sessions' spare approach into the Big Damn Band's expansive live shows, which are renowned for their intensity and abandon.
"In a lot of our shows in the past few years, we'll take a break and I'll come out and do a song or two by myself," he explains. "That brings things down and allows me to do some songs like this. We're definitely gonna be doing more of that, so there's definitely gonna be moments in the shows where you're gonna hear a lot of these songs. We may also do some Front Porch Sessions shows, and maybe present some of our other songs in a more stripped-down way. We did one earlier this year as kind of a test, and that worked really well.
"Over the years, our shows have gotten more dynamic," he continues. "The ups are more up and the downs are more down. That's something that's important to me. If I go and see a show and someone's just standing there and staring at their feet and singing their songs, I feel insulted. That's not a performance. I want to know that you're living that song, not just regurgitating it. I don't think artists should seem like they're too cool for their audience."
The Rev's dedication to delivering the goods on stage is reflected in his flamboyant performance persona. "The Rev is me," he states. "Sometimes that freaks people out, because the person who's on stage is exactly the way I am offstage. I don't know how to separate myself from my music, because it's so personal to me. My mom calls me Rev; it's been my nickname since I was a teenager. It was a name that was given to me by some friends, and it sort of stuck.
"I'm one of those people who feels everything really hard, for better or worse," he continues. "If I'm angry, I'm really angry. If I'm sad, I'm really sad. If I'm happy, I'm really happy. So onstage, I tap into that. There are certain songs that I can't play on some nights, because they're just too sad. That may be the rantings of a crazy person, but it's the God's honest truth."
With The Front Porch Sessions showcasing his expanded musical palette, Reverend Peyton is excited about bringing his new music to his fans.
"I really think it's one of the best things I've ever done," he asserts. "I'm interested in making hand-made American music, and the goal is to be timeless."1. We Deserve a Happy Ending
2. When My Baby Left Me
3. Shakey Shirley
4. What You Did to the Boy Ain't Right
5. One Bad Shoe
6. It's All Night Long
7. One More Thing
8. Flying Squirrels
9. Let Your Light Shine
10. When You Lose Your Money
11. Cornbread and Butterbeans$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
TweenThe word "tween" implies a certain, very specific kind of awkwardness, and
those implications are rarely positive. But think about it like this: Something
"tween" is in the process of becoming something else, and there's a very
specific kind of beauty in that becoming. There's something rewarding in
recognizing and celebrating it-in meeting it halfway.
Tween is a collection of eight songs born, raised, and almost abandoned for
various reasons during the years between 2011's breakthrough Civilian and
2014's reinvention-of-sorts, Shriek.
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack described these songs as "not emblematic of
a step forward, but a step sideways in time." In other words, they just didn't
make sense for album number five-which will happen at some point in the
future. But just because they didn't belong there doesn't mean they don't
belong anywhere. To wedge them onto Shriek would've been dishonest; to
orphan them would've been somewhere on the line between criminal and just
Now that your expectations are lowered, let's build them back up, because
Tween is full of gorgeous Wye Oak songs whose only crime was timing and
context, made by two people at the height of their game. At first these songs
sounded too disparate to me to be called an album, but the more Tween sank
in, the more it made sense: One minute Jenn and Andy are embracing their
floatiest Cocteau Twins instinct ("If You Should See"), the next they're back
in Civilian territory a bit ("No Dreaming"), and later they're slinky and
electronic and gorgeously '80s ("On Luxury").
The common thread: These are no castaways or cutouts. In fact, pound for
pound, Tween might actually be more directly accessible than Shriek. It should
join the pantheon of amazing not-albums of history whose names try to
downplay how good they actually are, like R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office, The
Who's Odds and Sods, maybe even Dinosaur Jr.'s Whatever's Cool With Me.
Who knows what an album is at this point, anyway? Here's what Jenn and
Andy had to say: "We rejoice in being free to make what we like and release it
in a way that feels true, and you are free to enjoy it or dismiss it as it suits you.
We hope, of course, for the former. But-all gimmicks aside-we created this
thing with love and are so happy to share it with you, whoever you are."
-Josh Modell1. Out of Nowhere
2. If You Should See
3. No Dreaming
4. Too Right
5. Better (For Esther)
6. On Luxury
7. Trigger Finger
8. Watching the Waiting$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
X-Rated Fairy TalesRecorded with a fairly straightforward backing band (bassist Mark Duran, synth-player John Carlan, and drummer/keyboardist Bill Roth), Creed's first solo album still turned out to be something touched with the unmistakable mark of Chrome. The production was often murky and strange, effects processing was everywhere, Creed's vocals sounded on the edge of sanity, and, of course, the guitars. Still creating one massive rock surge after another, with feedback piled on top of feedback and, likely enough, more pedals than anyone had ever seen at any one time, Creed showed once again why his guitar-god reputation exists in the first place. That his first solo album continued the true vibe of Chrome where Damon Edge's own use and abuse of the name made him a laughing stock probably wasn't that surprising in the end. Creed himself thought of this album as a more stripped-down, less stony affair, but it's mostly a matter of splitting hairs from an outside perspective. Considering that the title track itself is an acoustic guitar-led acid folk number with appropriate crumbling guitar noises in the background and post-hippie vibes everywhere, one has to wonder what Creed considers to be really stoned music. The most crisp the album gets is with the rhythm section, which often has a good full-bodied punch to it (and if anything sounds a bit like the work of Can, one of Chrome's inspirations). There's a little less stuff about alien takeovers and lurking gods outside the solar system and the like -- there's even a semi-cover of the old Chuck Berry classic Johnny B. Goode -- but then again one almost-dancefloor number is called Sex Voodoo Venus, so go figure. Showdown is also a pretty focused, rhythmic number notable for chunky riffs rather than extended soloing, while the You don't like me/I don't like you lyrics are pretty funny (and maybe about Edge -- and who could blame him?).
-All Music Guide1. The Descent
2. Un-Human Condition
4. X-Rated Fairy Tales
5. Blood Red
6. Mystery Room
8. Sex Voodoo Venus
9. Money Man
10. Johnny$37.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP + CD - Sealed Buy Now
Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal SonDamien is out of his goddamn mind.
This isn't a recent development, but it's an important aspect of his work that often goes ignored. In place of
this key element is the idea that his music is a sober and in-depth excavation of the American landscape and
rural psyche. Well, folks,I'm sorry, but it's not.
Damien Jurado is every character in every Damien Jurado song. He is the gun,the purple anteater,the paper
wings, the avalanche, the airshow disaster, Ohio, the ghost of his best friend's wife. It is a universe unto its
own,with it's own symbolism, creation myth, and liturgy. You might go as far as to call it a religion, and your
religion is a character in his religion.
Level with me. You're reading this because of Damien Jurado's new album,Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal
Son (produced by Richard Swift). You are a progressive minded, left-leaning person who in parlor-style
conversation regarding the globo-political ramifications of Sky Person relationships laughs knowingly so as
not to be judgmental and very reasonably concedes "Well, I don't believe He's some old man with a beard
sitting up in the clouds" at which point everyone agrees on [insert benign middle-ground] and moves on.
Consider this:What if the only way to understand a religion is to create your own?
Who is this Silver community? Where the hell are they in the Bible? Is this heresy? Agnostic reference? Isn't
this sun business a little, I don't know, animistic? Pagan? Go ahead and answer that question for yourself. I'll
give you a second.
Do you understand the music any better?
You know that adage we all use so we have something to say while we shrug our shoulders? "People change"?
That one. Is that applicable to Jesus Christ? Maybe he's been on a personal journey of discovery since he
ascended. He went through the 60's, 70's,he turned on,tuned out, got disillusioned. Why can't we talk about
that Jesus? Does it have to be the old-timey one all the time? American folk Jesus,ugh. The one who's always
winning Best Soundtrack Oscars for people. Rarely do stories of faith make us identify with Jesus. It's
Abraham, Satan, Silver Timothy, Salome, Dr.J, Saul of Tarsus; divinely imperfect brothers and sisters who give
Gawd something to do.
Damien Jurado made up his own Jesus because a Damien Jurado album needs a beautiful Jesus. Some freaky
space Jesus that I don't recognize. The name is the same, a lot of the imagery is the same, but he's reborn.
Born again,I mean. Yeah, as if Jesus got born again. That's what this album sounds like.
Jesus is out of his goddamn mind and I want to live in Damien's America.
Sign me up.
--- Father John Misty; 09-20-20131. Magic Number
2. Silver Timothy
3. Return To Maraqopa
4. Metallic Cloud
5. Jericho Road
6. Silver Donna
7. Silver Malcolm
8. Silver Katherine
9. Silver Joy
10. Suns In Our Mind$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Mystery Girl ExpandedEveryone involved with Mystery Girl sensed the magic in Roy Orbison, who, in 1988, was enjoying a full creative renaissance and resurgence of popularity. One of Roy's classic recordings, "In Dreams," memorably lip-synched into a hurricane lamp by Dean Stockwell, had served as a key thematic element in David Lynch's "Blue Velvet," igniting a renewed interest in the Big O.
In a series of bold aesthetic moves, Orbison directly addressed his legacy, first with Class of '55 (a 1986 reunion album with fellow Sun Records alumni Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins) and then, In Dreams: The Greatest Hits, where Orbison recut many of his biggest songs, using 1980s technology to produce results often surpassing his original recordings.
At this same time, Roy Orbison became a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys, the roots rock supergroup also featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty. It was during work with the Wilburys that the vision for Mystery Girl, a new Roy Orbison album made of original songs from a variety of writers-including Roy Orbison, Diane Warren, Elvis Costello, Wesley Orbison and U2s Bono and the Edge (among others)-began taking shape.
"When he sang it, it was absolutely magnificent," said Jeff Lynne, who would produce tracks for Mystery Girl. "His voice, I had never heard a voice like that live, you know, in the studio, ever . He had this wonderful spirit, almost like a kid in many ways.
He was just a happy guy. I love him . One of the proudest things I've ever done is to have become his friend. I'd look at him and just go, 'Wow, it's him. The Big O.'"
Roy's core group of musicians on the original Mystery Girl recordings included Jeff Lynne (guitar, piano, bass, backing vocals), Tom Petty (acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Mike Campbell (guitar, bass, mandolin), Jim Keltner (drums), Howie Epstein (bass, backing vocals), and Benmont Tench (piano, organ, cheap strings). Contributing artists on the album include Barbara Orbison, Roy Orbison, Jr., Al Kooper, George Harrison, Bono, T Bone Burnett, Steve Cropper, The Memphis Horns, and more.
"I was just taken by how amazing this guy was. Just sitting, singing softly, sitting on the sofa with an acoustic guitar, his voice was unbelievable." remembers Tom Petty. "The music will live on, you know; it's very timeless music."
Mike Campbell added, "Any time I hear one of Roy's songs, wherever I am, I just stop and listen to it and he's there, you know. His artistry and his voice and his spirit and the depth of his soul is so unique and it just connects with you in such a deep way . He just had a way of getting into your heart."
"He was a real innovator, truly a great singer," said Bono. "The real rebels to me always had manners. Elvis, you know, and Roy, Roy was a true gentleman. And that's a scary thing in a man, do you know what I mean? A man that's so sure in himself that he can be polite."
The legendary guitarist Steve Cropper confided that, "I've only met basically three, maybe three-and-a-half, of what I call 'light bulbs' in my life. And what I mean by 'light bulbs' is they're the brightest one in the room and when they walk in the door every head turns. Every head. Not just a few, not some people still talking in the corner. It's like everyone stops what they are doing. Elvis Presley, Otis Redding and Roy Orbison. And I saw that happen to Bill Clinton. So, there you go and I've never seen that happen to anybody else, ever."LP1
1. You Got It
2. In the Real World
3. (All I Can Do Is) Dream You
4. A Love So Beautiful
5. California Blue
6. She's a Mystery to Me
7. The Comedians
8. The Only One
10. Careless Heart
1. The Way Is Love
2. She's a Mystery to Me (Studio Demo)
3. (All I Can Do Is) Dream You (Studio Demo)
4. The Only One (Studio Demo)
5. The Comedians (Studio Demo)
6. In the Real World (Studio Demo)
7. California Blue (Studio Demo)
8. Windsurfer (Work-Tape Demo)
9. You Are My Love (Work-Tape Demo)$39.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Profile: Best Of Emmylou HarrisAlready celebrated as a discoverer and interpreter of other artists' songs, 12-time Grammy Award winner Emmylou Harris has, in the last decade, gained admiration as much for her eloquently straightforward songwriting as for her incomparably expressive singing. On Hard Bargain, her third Nonesuch disc, she offers 11 original songs-three of them co-written with Grammy- and Oscar-winning composer Will Jennings-that touch on the autobiographical while reaching for the universal. She recalls the storied time she spent with her mentor Gram Parsons ("The Road") and composes a sweet remembrance of the late singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle ("Darlin' Kate") and the time they spent together, right up to the end. Harris locates poignancy and fresh meaning in events both historical and personal. On "My Name Is Emmett Till" she recounts a violent, headline-making story from the civil rights era in a heartbreakingly plain-spoken narrative, told from the murdered victim's perspective; on "Goodnight Old World," she fashions a bittersweet lullaby to her newly born grandchild, contrasting a grown-up's world-weariness with a baby's wide-eyed wonder. "Big Black Dog," with its loping canine-like rhythms, is also a true tale, about a black lab mix named Bella. Harris, who runs a dog shelter called Bonaparte's Retreat on her property, rescued Bella from the Nashville Metro pound and provided an especially happy ending to her story: "She goes on the tour bus with me now, along with another one of my rescues. I think of all the years on the road I wasted without a dog. They make it so much more pleasant. I'm making up for lost time now, that's for sure."Few in pop or country music have achieved such honesty or revealed such maturity in their writing.
Forty years into her career, Harris shares the hard-earned wisdom that-hopefully if not inevitably-comes with getting older, though she's never stopped looking ahead. The candor of Harris's words is matched by a simple, elegantly rendered production from Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, Jack Ingram, Cage the Elephant), with whom she'd previously recorded a theme for the romantic drama, Nights in Rodanthe. While Harris's acclaimed 2008 All I Intended to Be was recorded intermittently over a span of three years and featured an all-star cast of musician friends, including Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, and the McGarrigles, Hard Bargain was cut in a mere four weeks last summer at a Nashville studio, with only Harris, Joyce, and multi-instrumentalist Giles Reaves. Joyce gets big results from this strikingly small combo: Harris played acoustic guitars and overdubbed all the harmonies; Joyce layered shimmering electric guitar parts; Reaves-employing piano, pump organ, and synths as well as playing percussion-conjured gorgeous atmospherics, often giving these tracks, as Harris puts it, "a floaty, dreamy quality.""It's such a beautifully realized sound," says Harris. "We didn't have the need for anyone else given how versatile Giles and Jay are. We became our own little family in the studio. We cut very simply, with just maybe a click and whatever they wanted to play and me on an acoustic guitar, going for that vocal and that feel, right to the heart of the matter. After we got a track, there were all those lovely brush strokes they were able to add to it later on. I particularly love the guitar part Jay put on 'My Name Is Emmett Till.' It's a simple part but it just breaks my heart whenever I hear it. It's like a cry from heaven or something. Jay works really fast but he puts so much thought into what he does. I've been very lucky to work with so many great producers over the years and now I guess it was time to increase the stable."On "The Road,"1. One Of These Days
2. Sweet Dreams
3. To Daddy
4. (You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie
5. Making Believe
6. East From Now On
7. Together Again
8. If I Could Only Win Your Love
9. Too Far Gone
10. Two More Bottles Of Wine
11. Boulder To Birminham
12. Hello Stranger$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
The Violent Sleep Of ReasonPressed On Grey / Black Splatter
Limited To 1000 Copies
The Violent Sleep of Reason, the band's eighth full-length studio album, finds MESHUGGAH building upon their legacy for fearless metal sculpting within the context of extreme metal, but also recapturing some of the magic and excitement specifically within the aspect of performance, finding flow and groove that would be a challenge for any lesser band to locate, given such technical geometric madness at mischievous hand.
"There's a distinct methodology", says drummer, writer and spokesman for the band Tomas Haake, that was put into motion to help the band achieve the level of "intensity" the attentive fan will feel as he/she makes their way through The Violent Sleep of Reason.
For this one, it's all live takes, with either 3 or 4 of the band members recording their respective instruments simultaneously - which is a way of recording they haven't used in many years. And that definitely goes against the stream of what you see in most technical metal nowadays, where editing, drum programming, the use of "beat detectives" etc. is a way more common approach to recording. So on this one, MESHUGGAH went back towards a more old-school approach, properly rehearsing the songs as a whole band before going into studio to record them. Jens was in one room, guitarists were in one room, bass player Dick was sitting right next to the drum set with an amplifier/cab in the next room. So in that sense this is more "old school"; the methodology is in that sense more like what bands were doing in the '80s and 90s. "And that vibrancy comes out", says Haake; "it's a very audible difference, sloppier sounding if you will, but at the same time it brings a different energy than the last few albums - this is "less perfect", but in that sense, also more alive."
The personal challenge taken on by the band produced fortunate byproducts as well, or, rather, it inspired them to "de-machine" other aspects of the technical MESHUGGAH juggernaut.
"Yes, for this one we also changed our approach toward the guitar recording/sounds," explains Haake, who nonetheless confirms that the band is still using eight-string axes, and for the most part, tuning down half a step to achieve that torrid MESHUGGAH guitar grunt. "The last few albums have been mostly digital, guitar sounds-wise, using all digital guitar gear as opposed to analog tube amps and regular cabs. The upside of using all digital like we did previous, is you can re-amp it afterwards, as it's basically a clean signal so you can pick, choose, and tweak things at a later point. But with this album, it was six speakers, all separately miked in one (super-loud) room, each cabinet with a different head -Marshall, Orange, Mesa Boogie etc-and then mixing it up a little bit depending on the song. If there was a song that was a little slower and sludgier, we might add more of the Orange amp to get a tad more of that stoner sound. And if it's a bit more metal, we'd maybe use the Marshall head or the Mesa head a little more in the mix. So we did have the opportunity, to mix and match for each song so the guitar sound is not exactly the same for every song. And that's a difference from Koloss and obZen, for example, where pretty much every song had the same drum and guitar sound."
But the end result is still a relentless onslaught of MESHUGGAH -patented ideas, save for one gorgeous and atmospheric respite, at the close of "Stifled."
Framing the pacing and contours of record, Tomas says, "None of the songs stick out quite like, for example, the way "Bleed" did on obZen. To me, it doesn't really have hits-it just has really cool songs! Not that we ever really had "hits" though (laughs). They're just maybe a little "wilder" sounding on this album, much due also to the live recording approach. Dick and I wrote about half of the material, and the rest was either me and Mårten working together or Mårten writing on his own. We were kind of going for something nuts as is the case with all our writing/recording albums - We wanted to hear something that we hadn't heard ourselves do before." Fredrik was not part of the songwriting for this one, as he's been hard at work on his next solo album, but as always he was still very involved with every aspect of the recording, from recording rhythm guitars, guitar solos etc . "And that's also a completely new thing," continues Tomas. "Dick was never involved in the songwriting prior to this album, whereas Fredrik always was. And that, of course, creates a difference in the way the album as a whole came out."
At the lyrical end, highlights include the title track, which, set to a massively heavy arch-djent rhythm, speaks of "the violent outcome of not dealing with what is going on, the violent implications of being asleep. "The title is actually inspired by a Goya painting called 'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.'"
A second highlight is strident opener and longest song on the album, "Clockworks," which is strafed by a typically super-human drum performance from Haake. "That's more about looking to yourself and who you are and things you want to change about yourself. And then in the context of how your mind works, as a clockwork. It's the idea of taking out all the little pins, wheels, and springs and kind of rebuilding it to make you function in a different fashion. So lyrics for that song is a look in on self, at things that you wish that you could change about yourself."
Listen to tracks like the vertigo-inducing "Nostrum" and the slower if equally circular and note-dense "By the Ton," and it's easy to understand why it's been four years since a MESHUGGAH album. But mind-numbing complexity of the material is not the only reason, explains Haake.
"No, well, I would say first of all, it takes us a lot of time to write. And we're very bad at focusing; we're very bad at multitasking. I don't think we ever wrote one single riff on a tour bus or in a hotel room. So if you have a touring cycle of two, two-and-a-half, three years, there's not going to be anything written in that time period. And that's just how we all function. We need to have a break, like, okay, time out now-nothing else for a year. We need to write for one year. But you also want to tour as much as possible for an album. Koloss, for example, we toured for like two-and-a-half years. And then you write. And when we do finally write, we scrutinize those songs, riffs, structures over and over and over, and change things as we go. So in a lot of the songs, maybe only one riff was actually there originally. So writing for us does take a long time, no doubt."
As a result, the band's erudite and intelligent fan base "get something that they don't really hear in any other bands". On the first album you still hear a lot of Metallica and Anthrax and Bay Area kind of thrash metal influence. "We knew that we sounded a bit like that, but we were aiming for something we hadn't heard in any other band. And that's still the main fuel. We're not trying to write your average metal song. We're not trying to write catchy songs. We're not trying to write hit songs (laughs). We're just trying to write something that is cool, that we haven't heard before, and hopefully our fans haven't heard before. And that also gets harder and harder though, because by now, there are so many awesome musicians and bands and so much great music out there. But it would seem like the followers that we do have, the people that have kept buying our albums and stayed with us for a lot of years, are not necessarily the typical metal fans. The crowd we have is diverse. We have a lot of geeks and nerds and weirdos, and they are beautiful ones, you know? We have a lot of people with talent, and a lot of people that are also interested in music as art, and not just an event."
But it's not lost on Tomas that MESHUGGAH is making daunting progressive music, music where melody is subservient to jackhammer rhythm, as evidenced by the way that even his lead singer, Jens Kidman, is situated within the maelstrom that is MESHUGGAH
"He's the perfect tool for the job. Just like most people, we all, of course, like music where there's "proper singing", and we all love a great singer. Personally, I think the voice is the most empathic instrument. You hear someone sing and you're like, oh my God, that's the coolest instrument in the world. But at the same time, what we're trying to do is not that. Just like the guitars and me as a drummer, Jens also is a rhythmic tool, one that adds aggression, as well as words to back up that aggression if you will."
So would Tomas then acquiesce to the idea of MESHUGGAH as metal's reigning enemies of melody?
"In a sense, yeah. I mean, there is definitely melody and a lot of melodic thought put into tonalities, harmonies between bass and guitars and things like that, but at the same time, we're not often going for anything pretty. Sometimes there's a little bit, where we go, 'Awww, that's beautiful," but then we usually immediately mess it up again. You give it a little bit of something "nice" sometimes, but basically we're not going for niceness (laughs)."
Produced by Meshuggah; engineered by Tue Madsen, Puk Studios, Kaerby, Denmark.1. Clockworks
2. Born In Dissonance
4. By The Ton
5. Violent Sleep Of Reason
6. Ivory Tower
9. Our Rage Won't Die
10. Into Decay$27.99Colored Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
U-MenThis 3xLP Box Set Collects The Entire Studio-Recorded Output Of The U-Men
Plus 5 Unreleased Songs
With 16 Pages Of Photos, Liner Notes & Interviews With The Band
Executive Produced By Jack Endino
The U-Men are one of the best bands I've ever seen. They were
hypnotic, frenetic, powerful and compelling. It was impossible to
resist getting sucked into their weird, darkly absurd world. They
effortlessly blended The Sonics, Link Wray, Pere Ubu, and
Captain Beefheart. Their shows were loose-limbed, drunken
dance parties and no two shows were alike. The U-Men were
avant-garage explorers and, most importantly, they fucking
rocked. I was lucky enough to live in their hometown and I saw
them every chance I could.
From 1983 to 1987, the U-Men were the undisputed kings of
the Seattle Underground. No one else came close. They ruled a
bleak backwater landscape populated by maybe 200 people.
They were the only band that could unify the disparate
sub-subcultures and get all 200 of those people to fill a room.
Anglophilic, dress-dark Goths; neo-psych MDA acolytes; skate
punks who shit in bathtubs at parties; Mod vigilantes who
tormented the homeless with pellet guns; college kids who
thought college kids were lame; Industrial Artistes; some random
guy with a moustache; and eccentrics who insisted that they
couldn't be pigeonholed: all coalesced around the U-Men.
Sub Pop co-founder, Bruce Pavitt released the first record by the
U-Men, a 4-song 12" EP on Bombshelter Records. By the time
they had recorded songs for another record, Bruce was too broke
to release it on his proto-Sub Pop label, so he hooked them up
with Gerard Cosloy at Homestead Records. This was a big deal.
Homestead had a heavy rep at the time with recent releases by
Foetus, Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, and Big Black. I was sure that
the release of their second 12", Stop Spinning, would propel the
U-Men into the ranks of those Homestead acts and the
worldwide underground would get hip to Seattle's finest.
Following the departure of bassist Jim Tillman (replaced by Tom
Hazelmyer of Amphetamine Reptile Records, and then Tony
Ransome), the band recorded two fantastic singles, and recorded
their one full-length album, Step on a Bug, for Black Label,
which was run out of Fallout Records. They became increasingly
disenchanted with the direction the Seattle underground was
heading and called it quits in 1989.
The U-Men had nothing to do with Grunge. They were their own
unique thing. I loved them and I still miss them. I remember
thinking at the time that most of their recordings were a little
soft and didn't capture the power of the band live. Now, thirty
years later, their records sound great to me and we are lucky that
they exist. I'm stoked that Sub Pop complied these long
out-of-print records and scrounged up some unreleased songs so
that everyone has a chance to take a trip back to old weird
- Mark Arm, Seattle, August 2017LP 1
2. The Fumes
3. Flowers DGIH
4. Shoot 'em Down
6. Trouble Under Water
7. Mystery Pain
8. Last Lunch
2. Cow Rock
3. Green Trumpet
4. A Year and a Day
5. Ten After One
7. U-Men Stomp
8. Solid Action
9. Dig It a Hole
1. Whistlin' Pete
2. 2 x 4
3. A Three Year Old Could Do That
4. Juice Party
5. Flea Circus
6. Too Good to Be Food
7. Willie Dong Hurts Dogs
8. Papa Doesn't Love His Children Anymore
9. Pay the Bubba
11. That's Wild About Jack
12. Bad Little Woman
13. Selfish$44.99Vinyl LP Box Set - 3 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Sea When AbsentAppropriately for new beginnings, Sea When Absent marks a number of firsts for ASDIG-it's the first album recorded in a real studio by someone who isn't Ben or Josh, the first album not written mostly by Ben, the first album with next-to-no reverb, and the first time in ASDIG's history that it has existed as anactual band (not just Ben or Josh playing everything). There was also a conscious effort to get away from aspects of recording that have defined this band in the past-namely heavily reverbed and buried vocals [ed.- they never sound buried to Ben]. Vocalists Jen Goma and Anne Fredrickson have beautiful voices and it was time to explore the possibilities of their abilities/talents. Jen took on a central role in the making of this album, stepping up to write most of the lyrics and melodies. Anne also contributed melodies throughout the album and put her classical cello training to use adding string arrangements. Since 2009 Ben has called Sydney, Australia home and while he was down under, multi-instrumentalist/backup vocalist/engineer/jack-of-all-trades Josh Meakim was Our Man in Philly, overseeing the recording sessions and adding all of the musical and production ideas he usually does. The distance between Ben and the rest of the band also forced novel ways of building songs from across the world. Bassist Ryan Newmyer, in Brooklyn, was tasked with deconstructing and rebuilding several songs in his own way-Oh, I'm a Wrecker (What to Say to Crazy People) bears the fruit of this tact. Holding it all together is drummer Adam Herndon. Adam is Sea When Absent's alchemist-weaving between, and often reconciling, the colossal boom of electronic beats (see Golden Waves or Double Dutch) and the subtle elegance of a drum kit in a room (see The Body, It Bends or The Things They Do to Me).
Between releasing Ashes Grammar in late 2009 and Autumn, Again in late 2010, ASDIG spent the better part of that year on tour. The six members in this band returned to six different Ithacas and the various dramas and adventures they've endured since then inform a lot of Sea When Absent. But 2014 is also just an insanetime to be alive. Dominant narratives have broken down and the stories we tell ourselves have never been more up-for-grabs.It's all happening and A Sunny Day in Glasgow want to be as simultaneously everywhere and nowhere as the rest of us. Sea When Absent is ASDIG's story for the milieu-a fever-dream about the now (or maybe a lucid dream about the fever-now) and a future possible set in pop-major.1. Bye Bye, Big Ocean (The End)
2. In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing)
4. MTLOV (Minor Keys)
5. The Things They Do to Me
6. Boys Turn Into Girls (Initiation Rites)
7. Never Nothing (It's Alright [It's Ok])
8. Double Dutch
9. The Body, It Bends
10. Oh, I'm a Wrecker (What to Say to Crazy People)
11. Golden Waves$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Tyler Bryant And The ShakedownA Band On The Verge Of Rock N Roll Greatness!
After carving out a fervent fan base and drawing widespread critical applause with their heady, high-voltage brand of guitar-driven rock, shooting from both hip and heart, Nashville's Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown find themselves at the epicenter of an advanced rock 'n' roll adventure that continues to take them around the world, appearing at some of the biggest venues along the way
Starting with a guest spot on AC/DC's 'Rock or Bust' World Tour in 2016, the quartet - Caleb Crosby on drums, Noah Denney on bass and backing vocals, Graham Whitford on guitar and Texas-born Tyler himself on vocals and guitar, a musician immersed in blues music from an early age - have continued to share events and stages with some of rock's most legendary names, including Guns N' Roses, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Deep Purple and ZZ Top.
At the same time as projecting their music into stadiums, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown - The Shakedown to friends and fans - have continued to build their name and reputation as a headline act, and indeed it was backstage after a sold-out, bill-topping show in London (June 2017) that the band signed their new deal with Snakefarm Records - the most immediate and exciting result being an 11-track, self-titled studio album set to be the label's inaugural release, with November 3rd locked in as the day of the launch
"So many great things have happened over the past few months," exclaims Caleb, "and it's all just so surreal. I remember seeing that Guns N' Roses were playing two stadium shows in London on June 16th and 17th earlier this year, which are birthdays for Noah and myself, back to back, and I said wouldn't it be amazing if we appeared on both of those shows and we did!"
Rewinding back to 2008, Tyler moved to Nashville by himself at the ripe age of 17 to write songs and form a band. It was here he met Caleb, and together they put together what would become The Shakedown
"The instant we started playing, I knew there was something special," reflects Caleb. "We played our first show a week later and haven't stopped since!"
The next addition to the ranks was Graham Whitford, a young guitarist from Boston, Massachusetts. Introduced to Tyler as the guy who could put him out of a job, it was clear from the start that Whitford was a force to be reckoned with. As soon as Tyler heard him play, he asked him to uproot and move to Nashville to join the band.
All that was needed now was the right bassist: enter Noah Denney, who instantly added a whole new dimension to The Shakedown's sound. As Tyler recalls, "his bass sound scared me and he brought an edge and an attitude to the band that we didn't even know we needed."
2013's 'Wild Child' album announced the quartet's arrival with a bang as they logged time on the road with the likes of Aerosmith, Jeff Beck & ZZ Top, while receiving the endorsement of Guitar World, Rolling Stone, Los Angeles Times, Nylon, Interview Magazine and Paste. Taking over TV, they lit up the stage at both Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! and AXS Live.
Following the release of 'The Wayside' EP (2015, produced by Grammy Award winner Vance Powell), the boys crisscrossed the country alongside Billy Gibbons & AC/DC on that celebrated 2016 run. April 2017 found them without a label and only a month out from joining Guns N' Roses on a European tour
"We had just decided to self-produce a record completely on our own," says Tyler. "I'll never forget driving home that morning and getting a call from our manager saying, 'You wanna go back to Europe with Guns N Roses?' That was a great kick-start to the first day of tracking."
So they hunkered down and set about writing & recording their second full-length album, with John Fields (Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg) coming on board to handle the mix. Blending a sense of history with a youthful, energetic heartbeat, this anticipated outing features a host of brand new tracks, some of which have become staples of the live set. It also stands as the start of a relationship with the newly-launched Snakefarm label.
Housed within the global infrastructure of Spinefarm Records (a UMG label), the Snakefarm brand will provide a targeted home for international artists, both established and new, from the increasingly buoyant roots rock world - music based on authenticity and emotion, under-pinned by core values and beliefs.
In this respect, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown - who can lay claim to a fast-growing international presence, with major UK festivals such as Download, Ramblin' Man and British Summer Time already under their belt, alongside headline shows plus guest appearances with Nashville neighbors The Cadillac Three - are a flagship representation; what's more, in 'Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown' they've delivered a genuine genre-defying labour of love, a varied and infectious statement shot through with passion, pride and a welcome dash of glamour.
"This is the definitive Shakedown record as of now, and that's why we decided it should be self-titled," explains a fired-up Tyler. "It's the definitive Shakedown record due to the fact there were no other cooks in the kitchen. We put so much energy into writing and recording each song. It's not just a guitar album; it's a song album, and I'm proud to hang my hat on this one."
The first single / video, 'Heartland', introduces Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown with a one-two punch of gritty guitars and soulful vocals before slipping into a hypnotic bridge punctuated by airy clean guitars. Tyler sings, "There's a slow beat in the heartland, going down in the quicksand, stack 'em up and watch the cards fall, if it happens to one, then it happens to all".
"It's no secret that there's crazy stuff going on all over the world right now. There's madness all around and people are constantly picking sides. Every night when the Shakedown takes the stage, I'm amazed that music brings people together. Nobody is thinking about what side they're on when they're singing at the top of their lungs next to a complete stranger. I thought maybe through music I could remind myself and our TBSD family that when one person falls, the rest of us do, too. I wanna get together with a bunch of folks and sing that sentiment because it's one I strongly believe in.
Elsewhere, 'Backfire' struts along on a stomping drum groove driven by thick distortion with lyrics "about pulling the short end of the straw and feeling vengeful". Then there's 'Aftershock'. Hinging on hummable riffing, the track simmers at a steady swamp crawl before the Sabbathian refrain.
"That's a tune about feeling the effects of a situation long after it's come and gone.
As Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown spend 2017 lighting up stages with the likes of Guns N' Roses (again), The Who & Alice Cooper - as well as making their first appearance at Rock In Rio - this new album sees them fully realize their vision with a sound that resounds above the bleachers, plus a collective desire to keep the entertainment flag fully unfurled
"I want people to put this on and literally escape," Tyler leaves off. "I hope they feel free. That's what rock 'n' roll makes me feel. You don't have to think about your bills or any of the other things that have the power to bring you down when you've got your fist up in the air, your eyes closed and you're lost in the music. Angus Young told me, 'You've got to make the audience think you're taking them on a journey, and they'll go with you. If you believe it, they will too'. I believe it with this record."1. Heartland
2. Don't Mind The Blood
3. Jealous Me
5. Ramblin' Bones
6. Weak And Weepin'
7. Manipulate Me
8. Easy Target
9. Magnetic Field
11. Into The Black$29.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Hug Of Thunder"I don't want to go out there being presumptuous," Kevin Drew says, "because, I've worn those presumptuous shoes before, and you don't want it to feel like, 'Oh, what a let-down.'" That's the fear when you bring back one of music's most beloved names seven years after their last album. But with Hug of Thunder, the fifth Broken Social Scene album, Drew and his bandmates have a right to feel presumptuous.
They have that right because they have created one of 2017's most sparkling, multi-faceted albums. On Hug of Thunder the 15 members of Broken Social Scene - well, the 15 who play on the record, including returnees Leslie Feist and Emily Haines - refract their varying emotions, methods, and techniques into something that doesn't just equal their other albums, but surpasses them. It is righteous but warm, angry but loving, melodic but uncompromising. The title track on its own might just be the best thing you will hear all year - a song that will become as beloved as "Anthems For a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" from their breakthrough album, You Forgot It In People.
Its title, Drew says, captured what he wanted people to feel about the group's comeback, and how they sound playing together again: "It's just such a wonderful sentiment about us, coming in like a hug of thunder."
Broken Social Scene had reconvened, in varying forms, several times over the past four years - the odd festival show here and there, preferably ones that involved the least possible traveling. But the idea that they might turn their hand to something more than greatest-hits sets had been stirring since November 2014, when producer Joe Chiccarelli told Drew the group needed to make a new album.
"He started showing up at our label, asking if we were going to make an album," Drew recalls. "He just didn't give up; he just kept saying, 'You've got to strike, you've got to do this, the time is now,' and so finally we agreed."
As might be expected to be the case with a many-headed hydra of a group, getting all the principals to agree wasn't easy. Drew's co-founder Brendan Canning was keen, but Drew and fellow BSS lifer Charles Spearin took more persuading. A turning point for Drew came with the Paris terror attacks of November 2015, which made him feel the world needed an injection of positivity: "It just sort of made us want to go out there and play. Because I think we've always been a band that's been a celebration."
Canning picks up the story: "By autumn of 2015 we had started getting together and trying some ideas out, just getting back in that jam space, in Charles' garage. Then we set up shop in my living room and we were starting to come together in a very familiar kind of way, jamming in the living room, eating meals in the kitchen together, because that's what the band is about: 'Hey, let's all get on the same page and get the energies flowing in the same direction.'"
Recording finally began in April 2016 at The Bathouse studio on the shores of Lake Ontario, with later sessions in Toronto and Montreal, before the group went right back to basics. "It was very beautiful the way that it ended in Charlie's little rehearsal garage space," Drew says, "after going to all these studios. We just worked there, doing backup vocals and handclaps and all the shit we used to do when we were younger." And then it was to Los Angeles, where the album was mixed.
The result is a panoramic, expansive album, 53 minutes that manages to be both epic and intimate. In troubled times it offers a serotonin rush of positivity: "Stay Happy" lives up to its title, with huge surges of brass that sound like sunshine bursting through clouds. "Gonna Get Better" makes a promise that the album is determined to deliver. That's not to say it's an escapist record: Broken Social Scene is completely engaged, wholly focussed, and not ignoring the darkness that lurks outside. But there is no hectoring, no lecturing, but a recognition of the confusion and ambiguity of the world. As the title track closes with Leslie Feist murmuring "There was a military base across the street," the listener is caught in the division between the national security provided by national defense, and the menace of the same thing.
The gestation of Hug of Thunder was no idyll. When You Forgot It in People made their name, Broken Social Scene were young men and women. Fifteen years on, they were adults in or on the cusp of middle age, and - as Drew puts it - "all the adult problems in the world were happening around us individually, whether it was divorce or cancer". Three members of the band lost their fathers while the album was being recorded, "and it seemed like the days of going in the studio, getting stoned, drinking five beers and saying, 'Who gives a fuck?' were over".
Then there's the fact of the size of the ensemble, and the number of competing voices. "You don't always get the final say with Broken Social Scene," Canning says, with a certain degree of understatement. He compares the process of getting everyone to agree on a song to party politics: "It's like you're trying to get a bill passed through the House - you have to be really committed to wanting to win."
But, still, if they were to return, it had to be with everybody, no matter if that meant things might get unwieldy. "I'd like to believe that Broken Social Scene can be whatever it can be," Canning says, "but I think the fact we'd gone away for so long meant we really, we really couldn't have done the same thing without everyone involved, you know?" The story of Broken Social Scene, he insists, was built on the involvement of everyone, and so if the story was to be continued, those same people had to return.
"The thing that has changed is that the relationships between us are established," Drew suggests. "And in a family, you ebb and flow and you come and you go and you're in love and then you're annoyed - but it's established now, the relationships aren't going anywhere, you know? And I think through time, because we've been through so much together, personally and professionally, when we're all on stage, everybody knows what they're doing, everybody has a melody to back up someone else, you feel supported, you're a crew, there's nothing but protection all around you."
Canning picks up the theme: "Before we were making this record, I said to everyone: 'We all basically want the same thing, we might just have slightly different roadmaps on how to get there. So how do we stray off on certain country roads but get back onto the main thoroughfare?'"
That Broken Social Scene was a family again, driving along the same main road, became apparent to UK fans in September 2016, when the group - with Ariel Engle the latest woman to assume the role of co-lead vocalist - came over for less than a handful of festival shows, to test the waters. Their Sunday teatime appearance at End Of The Road - an ecstatic hour of maximalist music, physically and emotionally overwhelming - ended up being one of the biggest hits of the festival. It achieved what Drew has always felt music needed to do: it created transcendence, a pocket of time where everyone present was living only in the moment.
"My 11-year-old nephew asked me, 'Uncle Kev, why do adults get drunk?' and I looked at him and thought, 'OK, brilliant question, I'm going to give a brilliant answer,'" Drew recalls. "And I looked at him for about 10 seconds and I said, 'Because they want to feel like you. Because they want to feel like a kid again, they want to forget everything, they want to be innocent.' We are built in a way now where you can't do that because you're walking around with the anti-transcendence box in your pocket, and in your hand, and in your home, and on your bedside table: it's the anti-transcendence. It's called your phone! And we're getting killed, we're getting killed!"
So what do Broken Social Scene want listeners to take from Hug of Thunder? Canning wants it to make them "pause for the cause and maybe just leave things in your life alone for 53 minutes". For Drew, it's about what it's always been about: making the connection. "I just hope they understand that there's others out there, that they're not alone," he says. "I know that's silly! But you'd be surprised how many times I've had to tell people, 'Hey, you're not alone on this, you're not alone thinking these things.' I mean, with the title Hug of Thunder, I want to hold people. I want to fucking hold them. And when we do shows, I'm not: 'Look at me, I'm elevated up on the stage,' It's: 'We're here with you, this is us together.' Broken Social Scene is about the people, and it's always been about the people."1. Sol Luna
2. Halfway Home
3. Protest Song
5. Stay Happy
6. Vanity Pail Kids
7. Hug of Thunder
8. Towers and Masons
9. Victim Lover
10. Please Take Me With You
11. Gonna Get Better
12. Mouth Guards of the Apocalypse$25.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Radium DeathKnown for the sparse, haunting qualities of his mostly solo recordings of what he refers to as roots-folk music, in which his husky voice is often accompanied by little more than a banjo or acoustic guitar, William Elliott Whitmore sought to add some new pitches to his bullpen for his new ANTI- release Radium Death. I purposefully went into it wanting to make a little bit of a departure, sonically, using an electric guitar a little bit more and adding more instrumentation, more full-band type stuff, says Whitmore. I wanted to switch it up a little bit and plug in to see what that felt like. I was reading a lot about the so-called 'radium girls' of the early 1900's, these assembly lines of women painting watch dials with radium to make them glow in the dark, he says, detailing how the workers would lick the tips of their paintbrushes to get them pointy while dipping them repeatedly into the chemical substance before it was known to be dangerous. So, in my mind 'radium death' came to represent something that you're told is good for you-maybe by a higher power-but really is killing you. It represents those lies that are told, and how we can protect ourselves against them. The songs assembled, while not a concept album, present a cohesive look into those recurring Whitmore themes of respect, protection, sustenance and survival. The blazing (even by WEW standards) opener, Healing To Do, pulls no punches, kicking in immediately with the rhythmic shuffle of a full band, an organ, and Whitmore's upbeat rasp. The pace continues with songs like Trouble in Your Heart, 1000 Deaths and Don't Strike Me Down, preaching patient hope, rebirth, renewal, and revolt over stomping drums, acoustic strumming and even an electric guitar solo.1. Healing to Do
3. Trouble in Your Heart
4. A Thousand Deaths
5. Go On Home
6. Don't Strike Me Down
7. Can't Go Back
8. South Lee County Brew
9. Have Mercy
10. Ain't Gone Yet$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now