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Stop Making Sense'
The Name Of This Band Is Talking HeadsAlthough most people probably think the only Talking Heads live release is Stop Making Sense, the fact is that there's an earlier, better live album called The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads. Originally released in 1982 on LP and cassette, the album chronicles the growth of the band, both stylistically and personnel-wise. The first LP is the original quartet version of the band, recorded between 1977 and 1979, performing excellent versions of tunes (mostly) off 77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food. Also included were the previously unavailable A Clean Break and Love Goes to a Building on Fire, as well as early versions of Memories Can't Wait and Air. The second LP comes from the Remain in Light tour, recorded in 1980 and 1981.
In order to present something close to the music on that album, the original quartet lineup was greatly expanded. Added were two percussionists (Steven Stanley, Jose Rossy), two backup singers (Nona Hendryx, Dollette McDonald), Busta Cherry Jones on bass, Bernie Worrell (!) on keys, and a young Adrian Belew on lead guitar. The excitement of this material is palpable, and the muscular band rips into these tunes with more power than the originals in most cases. Drugs gets revamped for live performance, and Houses in Motion kicks into high gear with a great art-funk coda. Belew is absolutely on fire throughout, especially on The Great Curve and Crosseyed and Painless, where his deranged feedback soloing has never sounded better. At this point in their career, Talking Heads were still basically an underground band; it was Burning Down the House that really thrust them into the mainstream, and Stop Making Sense documents their arrival as a more or less mainstream act. The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads captures a hungry band on its way up, performing with a fire that was never matched on later tours. Unfortunately, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads remained unavailable on compact disc for years, which is a shame since it's arguably one of their finest releases.
- Sean Westergaard (All Music Guide)LP 1
Recorded for WCOZ broadcast, Northern Studios, Maynard MA, November 17, 1977
1. New Feeling
2. A Clean Break
3. Don't Worry About the Government
4. Pulled Up
5. Psycho Killer
Recorded at The Capitol Theater, Passaic NJ, January 17, 1979
6. Artists Only
7. Stay Hungry
9. Love - Building On Fire
10. Memories (Can't Wait)
Recorded at Emerald City, Cherry Hill NJ, November 8, 1980-November 9, 1980; Central Park, New York, August 27, 1980; Sun Plaza Concert Hall, Tokyo, Japan, February 27, 1981
1. I Zimbra
3. Houses in Motion
4. Life During Wartime
5. The Great Curve
6. Crosseyed and Painless
7. Take Me to the River$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Speaking In TonguesSpeaking in Tongues is the fifth studio album by the band Talking Heads, released in 1983.
The album was a commercial breakthrough that produced the band's first (and only) American Top 10 hit, Burning Down the House, which was accompanied by a promotional video. The following tour was documented in Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense, which generated a live album of the same name. (The concert film and live album's title comes from the repeated phrase Stop making sense! during the song Girlfriend Is Better.) In addition, the album crossed over to the dance charts, peaking at number two for six weeks. In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #89 on its list of Best Albums of the 1980s.
David Byrne designed the cover for the general release of the album. Artist Robert Rauschenberg won a Grammy Award for his work on the limited-edition LP version. This album featured a clear vinyl disc in clear plastic packaging along with three clear plastic discs printed with similar collages in three different colors.1. Burning Down The House
2. Making Flippy Floppy
3. Girlfriend Is Better
4. Slipper People
5. I Get Wild / Wild Gravity
7. Moon Rocks
8. Pull Up the Roots
9. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Boy (Discontinued)Its enough to make you stop and say, What is that? It being the gorgeous melodies and lean, spellbound guitar lines of Colin Caulfield, an English/French lit major whos about to change what it means to be a shapeshifting singer-songwriter in the YouTube age.
Just ask Bradford Cox. He knows. Why, just a year ago, the Deerhunter frontman stumbled upon Colin Caulfields organ-grinding rendition of Rainwater Cassette Exchange and said its fantastically superior to the original. It actually sent shivers up my spine, especially during the second verse.
Believe it or not, that chilling cover was just a warmup session. As killer as he is at capturing the very essence of everything from Animal Collective to Ariel Pink, Caulfieds true talent is in telling his own Young Man stories. The first chapter of which goes by the name Boy, a deceivingly-simple suite of songs about wanting to grow up without having the slightest idea of what being a man actually means.
Now thats a reason to hit rewind, from the tone-setting tenderness and psych-infused harmonies of Five to the restless rhythms (Caulfield was a drummer well before he became a singer/guitarist) and room-engulfing intimacy of Up So Fast. Both of which feature some of the most hopeful/haunting choruses youll hear all year.
And thats just the beginning, of course. Since Young Man was conceived as a concept project about the passing of time, love, and loss, Caulfield already has two loosely-linked LPs on tap, a faceless collection of fragile characters that could be any one of us, really.
A lot of its autobiographical, explains Caulfield, but its universal at the same time, because everyone goes through these things.
Listen closely. Itll all make sense soon enough. Trust us.1. Five
3. Home Alone
6. Just a Growin'
7. Up So Fast$11.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Dangerous ThingsDan Layus is set to release his debut album, Dangerous Things, via Plated Records.
Dangerous Things spans influences from Hank Williams to Tom Waits, from Dwight Yoakam to Woody Guthrie. The album was recorded in Nashville at SouthxSea Studios with minimal production. The lyrics are about life's struggles and its simple joys, and harmonies are provided by Muscle Shoals' own Secret Sisters.
Primarily known as the frontman of the critically acclaimed band Augustana, Layus explains, "I always knew this album was out there waiting, I just had to let it come to me. That was the most challenging part of this record. It was three years of repeatedly realizing I was trying too hard to write a perfect song. It all started to make sense and feel good as soon as I stopped treating songwriting like it was songwriting. Somewhere along the way I decided that if an idea was going to turn into a song on this album, then it had to be written organically and purely. It had to be an inspired moment that was unfolding melodically, musically and lyrically, all while making me feel something. Subsequently, that's how I recorded the songs-I played the song live a few times in front of some microphones and when I felt something real happen, we moved onto the next one. The songs and recordings on this album are inspired by other people's stories and informed by my own experiences and I've never felt more proud or comfortable sharing an album as I feel with this one."1. Dangerous Things (feat. The Secret Sisters)
3. Four Rings (feat. The Secret Sisters)
4. You Can Have Mine (feat. The Secret Sisters)
5. Only Gets Darker (feat. The Secret Sisters)
6. Call Me When You Get There
7. Let Me Lose You
8. Fell In Love On A Beach
10. Enough For You
11. The Nightbird (feat. The Secret Sisters)$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Merriweather Post PavilionMerriweather Post Pavilion is the ninth full length album from Animal Collective, recorded with Ben Allen in Oxford, Mississippi. Animal Collective have made a universal record that makes the same beautiful sense on headphones by day, or soundtracking the small hours of the morning, or stretched out in a field on your back. Whether a state of mind, or a rest stop somewhere along the way, Merriweather Post Pavilion magnificently redefines your sense of direction.
Located in different continents, Avey Tare, Panda Bear and Geologist, having operated in their unique way since their inception, have now arrived at a point where their innerlogic makes perfect sense on the whole. Listening to Merriweather Post Pavilion you'll hear echoes of everything they've recorded to date, especially the mesmeric and melodic repetition of Panda Bear's last solo opus Person Pitch. The whoops and hollers that have previously held together the sublime, chaotic urgency of their earlier work, now signal the calm sense of euphoria and wonder that ripples through this wide eyed record.
Throughout Merriweather Post Pavilion, Panda Bear and Avey Tare sing in a newfound clarity, enraptured by the possibilities of the sound they're making. This record feels like a defining moment for Animal Collective; linear, wild and beautiful, it's the sound of a band waiting, with arms open wide, to tell you about what they've found. And it's something pretty special.1. In The Flowers
2. My Girls
3. Also Frightened
4. Summertime Clothes
5. Daily Routine
7. Guys Eyes
9. Lion In A Coma
10. No More Runnin
11. Brother Sport$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
The Inevitable EndThe Inevitable End is Röyksopp's most personal album to date and their second album release in the space of six months, following their critically
acclaimed mini album Do It Again with fellow Scandinavian legend Robyn.
"With 'The Inevitable End' we've moved into a darker subject matter, with emphasis on the lyrical content. This candid approach feels very both personal,
sincere and conclusive," says Svein. "With this album it became clear we wanted to make an album in a classical sense even if it's the last one we make,"
Having now created five complete bodies of work, the pair feel like the future is open to being more experimental with how they share their music. "We
feel like this is a goodbye to the traditional album format," explains Svein. "In our consecutive run of albums, we have been able to say what we want to
say and do what we want to do with the LP. We're not going to stop making music, but the album format as such, this is the last thing from us."1. Skulls
2. Monument (T.I.E. Version) feat. Robyn
3. Sordid Affair feat. Man Without Country
4. You Know I Have To Go feat. Jamie Irrepressible
5. Save Me feat. Susanne Sundfør
6. I Had This Thing feat. Jamie Irrepressible
7. Rong feat. Robyn
8. Here She Comes Again feat. Susanne Sundfør
9. Running To The Sea
11. Coup de Grace
12. Thank You
13. Do It Again (RYXP Version)
14. Goodnite Mr. Sweetheart
15. Caramel Afternoon
16. Oh No
17. Something In My Heart feat. Jamie Irrepressible$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
AcousTech Electronic Stylus Force Gauge
The Deluxe AcousTech gauge is set apart from the standard version by a full metal casing, AAA battery support, and a deluxe storage case. Includes mini screwdriver and calibration weight.
The AcousTech gauge will accurately read your tracking force within 0.002 grams, the finest reading available. Many imitators only read accuracy of 0.01 grams.
Accurate and simple to use - that's the essence of a great stylus force gauge, and that's what you get with this AcousTech model. We all know, or certainly we all should know, that dialing in your correct tracking force is absolutely essential for optimal record playback. If you miss on the heavy side, your sound becomes thick and sluggish. Miss on the light side, and your cartridge is more likely to mistrack and the sound will be light and anemic.
So stop messing with those mechanical stylus balances that aren't even accurate. This is one case where digital makes more sense when it comes to fine-tuning your analog.$79.99Electronic Stylus Force Gauge Buy Now
Geocidaltetema is a new duo project from Mike Patton (FNM, Bungle, Fantomas, principle Zorn interpreter) and Australian composer/pianist Anthony Pateras (Thymolphthalein, Pivixki, Pateras/Baxter/Brown, Beta Erko). geocidal is audio caffiene injected direct into your eyeballs. Recorded across half the
continents on the planet, this record investigates the murder of place. Do borders even matter any more? Should we even leave the house? Is there any specificity left in this generalised cesspool of culture? Or has the tidal wave of digitally-fuelled apathy swamped any sense of tangible individuality? tetema
demand another universe to this one, and have built one especially for you.
Boasting a 12-piece all-star cast of incredible musicians and featuring special guest drummer Will Guthrie (absolutely slaying), tetema hand picked a devastating team of instrumental virtuosi to assist their quest to make indispensable music in the age of permanent refuse. As a result, geocidal brings the
most glorious noise, interrogating the deepest cosmogonies and malformations of man. It's true! Antique synths? Check. Outlandish orchestration? Definitely. Face-frying vocals wrapped in velvet? You know it.
If we could name some references for you to file this under, we would, but some application is eventually going to tell you what it sounds like anyways, so we won't. To us, it sounds like two maniacs in their respective studios having the time of their lives, rebirthing some of the most insane songcraft this side
of the godforsaken Miley-Cyrus worshipping millennium. So stop like-ing cat jpegs, stop drooling into your phone and listen to this freaking record - it will literally re-wire your existing perception of sonic possibility, although that's probably underselling it. Featuring absolutely gorgeous drawings from Sydney
artist Nik Kamvissis, this album brutally articulates the hell of now!1. Invocation Of the Swarm
2. Pure War
4. The Hell Of Now
5. Ten Years Tricked
6. 3-2-1 Civilisation
9. Kid Has Got The Bomb
10. Emptiness Of Ecstasy
11. Death In Tangiers$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
WindfallIf the opening notes on Joe Pug's new LP "Windfall" are a bit disorienting, his fans won't likely be surprised. The Austin, TX singer songwriter has made a habit of defying expectations so the piano-driven "Bright Beginnings" and the atmospheric rumination of "Great Hosannas" are just further indication that he's quite comfortable stepping outside of the guy-with-a-guitar trappings of the genre.
His rise has been as improbable as it has been impressive. After dropping out of college and taking on work as a carpenter in Chicago, he got his musical start by providing CDs for his fans to pass along to their friends. This led to a string of sold out shows and a record deal with Nashville indie Lightning Rod Records (Jason Isbell, Billy Joe Shaver). As he toured behind "Messenger" (2010) and The Great Despiser (2012) it was with a band that looked as much like a jazz trio as an Americana band. "I never quite found a live band that captured what I was aiming for until I connected with Greg [Tuohey--electric guitar] and Matt [Schuessler--upright bass]. It was an arrangement that maybe didn't make a ton of sense on paper but 10 minutes into the first rehearsal I knew this was going to be my band." The following years would have them on the road for over four hundred shows, including stops at Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and The Newport Folk Festival.
1. Bright Beginnings
2. Veteran Fighter
3. Stay and Dance
4. The Measure
5. Great Hosanas
6. Burn and Shine
7. O My Chesapeake
9. Pair of Shadows
10. If Still It Can't Be Found$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
UnvarnishedUnvarnished is the 14th studio album by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts released on the Blackheart Records label.
Joan Jett has been through some dark times over the last 10 years - so many that she refers to it as her 'decade of death.' But she's channeled that grief into a new album, 'Unvarnished,' that contains some of her most personal work.
I wrote a lot about what teenagers write about: love, sex and partying and having a good time. As you grow up, things change, she explained. You have responsibilities and realize you've got to do stuff. I suppose you could run from that, but you've got to be there for your family and your friends.
Jett's 'decade of death' included the loss of both parents, which - as one might expect - proved difficult to cope with. They made it possible for me to do this. They encouraged me. They got me the guitar, she recalled. My father, who hated rock & roll, put up with it. He didn't come down on me to stop it. So losing my parents was big, and I think it translated to the music in songs like 'Fragile,' which is about life being fragile, love being fragile, how easy it is to break hearts.
Those themes carry over into other songs on 'Unvarnished,' as Jett went on to explain. 'Hard to Grow Up' is about responsibility and realizing that I've got to do this, she continued. The song 'Make It Back' is about Hurricane Sandy and people's attitudes. You don't see a lot of press about it as I go around the country. It was very devastating. My town is still beat up. People were really crushed. It gave me a sense of what it's like to be in a war zone.
It wasn't just personal or communal tragedies that stood between Jett and new material, either. I convinced myself I had writer's block, she explained. It was 'Reality Mentality' that was the song that took me a long time to write. I used to think that songs just came to me. They didn't - you had to sit down and work at it. Just be patient, write a couple of lines, leave it, come back to it and stuff will pop out. And all of a sudden, stuff started coming, and I realized: You don't have writer's block. Your expectations were wrong.
What it all adds up to, in Jett's opinion, is a record that should resonate with fans. The songs have a serious tone, but they're relatable, she concluded. They're songs about stuff everybody goes through.1. Any Weather (606 Version)
3. Soulmates To Strangers
4. Make It Back
5. Hard To Grow Up
7. Reality Mentality
8. Bad As We Can Be
10. Everybody Needs A Hero$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
As Good As DeadLocal H will dig into their back catalog and release their breakthrough album As Good As Dead on 180 gram vinyl via srcvinyl. This re-issue marks the first time that the album will ever be available in this format. The high-quality, double LP will have a premium gatefold jacket and insert.
As Good As Dead, Local H's second full-length album, was produced by Steven Haigler (Quicksand, Pixies) and was originally released on April, 16, 1996 on Island Records on CD and cassette. The record was the band's first foray into making a concept album and is centered around life in a dead-end, small town. Venerable rock critic Robert Christgau gave the album a stellar A- review in the Village Voice, writing, at the time, "...I wish Pearl Jam, whose leader stars in the title song, packed such isometric power -- that sense of tremendous force bravely exerted against implacable reality -- and I say the exercise makes all of us stronger."
"The question I get asked the absolute most is when are we gonna put the older records out on vinyl?" says Local H frontman, Scott Lucas. "Here's the answer -- in the best possible way. The package is looking pretty good and I'm ALMOST as excited as anybody to finally drop the needle on this album -- on double vinyl, at last."
As Good As Dead spawned four modern rock radio hits including the above-referenced "Eddie Vedder," "Fritz's Corner," "High-Fivin' MF" and "that copacetic song" -- "Bound for the Floor," a track that remains a staple on alternative radio station playlists around the the country two decades later. The band made videos for each of the singles.
Local H, whose members during this time period were Lucas and original drummer Joe Daniels, toured the U.S. non-stop for two years after As Good As Dead was released, headlining their own small and large club shows; opening for Silverchair in bigger venues and Stone Temple Pilots in even bigger arenas (including Madison Square Garden in New York and Rosemont Horizon in Chicago); and performing to audiences of thousands at radio station festivals across the the country, including 1997's HFStival at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. They toured Australia and played some played some European shows on this album, as well.LP 1
1. Manifest Density Pt. 1
2. High-Fiving MF
3. Bound For The Floor
4. Lovey Dovey
5. I Saw What You Did And I Know Who You Are
6. No Problem
7. Nothing Special
1. Eddie Vedder
2. Back In The Day
3. Freeze-Dried (F)lies
4. Fritz's Corner
6. Manifest Density Pt. 2$32.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Buy Now
Lee-WayBlue Note Reissue
How do these new deluxe re-issues stack up to the alternatives? Not surprisingly, the big difference comes from the 45-RPM cutting. The faster cutting speed creates greater dynamic range and the sense of more air around the instruments, which stand out in better relief and give that you-are-there feel. The tradeoff requires you to flip the record twice as often, a small price to pay for this level of enhanced realism. These new issues maintain that timbral accuracy and at the same time bring out the piano sound like never before, for the first time Blue Note re-issues sound right. Dennis D. Davis, Hi-Fi+, Issue 57
As much as I'd love to relay all kinds of anecdotes about the challenges Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray encounter during the mastering sessions, I witness none. These boys know the sound of the facility and the Van Gelder masters like the backs of their hands. Back home a month later, I unpack some test pressings Chad Kassem has sent me. I hear the most realistic-sounding drums ever reproduced by my system. It's as though I'm sitting at the point of creation, experiencing the same high that brought such gifted musicians together as one. Steve Hoffman, Kevin Gray, Chad Kassem, and Don MacInnis have done Rudy Van Gelder and his Blue Note artists proud. Jason Victor Serinus, Stereophile, April 2008
...these first five Acoustic Sounds Blue Note re-issues are pure bop genius...The best news is that Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman were keen enough to do nothing more than gently clean up the masters, bringing us even closer to the hard bop edge. The 45 rpm pressings that I received were all super quiet with every last drop of resolution from the master tapes. I had almost forgotten just how good Paul Chambers and Phil Joe were together as the backbone of these groups. I've always loved this music but I didn't remember it sounding this good! Hank Mobley offers us some brilliant sax bits on one of Kenny Dorham's finest recordings, Whistle Stop and Dexter Gordon's performance blew me away as well. The biggest surprise were the Lee Morgan records. I suggest turning these up loud, since they possess unlimited energy and some hooks that will knock you out. Amazing! Just a small warning: Once you start playing these Blue Note recordings you will be hooked. The good news is that Acoustic Sounds is working on at least 20 more of these jazz gems. So make sure your turntable has a setting for 45 rpm, clean your stylus occassionally, and get ready to be transported to nirvana. - Dan Babineau, Tone Audio, No. 14 2008, www.tonepublications.com
This album is unique within Lee Morgan's vast and rich Blue Note discography. With then current employer Art Blakey, band mate Bobby Timmons on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Jackie McLean on alto saxophone, the trumpeter abandons time constraints and stretches out on four, soulful, hard-bop compositions (the first and the last are by Cal Massey). These hard bop masters are constantly inspired by Blakey's explosive grooves.
This title is not eligible for discount.These Are Soulful Days
The Lion and the Wolf
Nakatini Suite$49.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP 45 RPM - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
American LoveJake Owen's fifth studio LP is new territory for the singer who's known for lighthearted beach and party tunes, and he feels really good about that. After the release of "Real Life" (which was also around the time his divorce was announced), Owen started over with new songs - and he is not releasing the material he originally planned on.
"I was at a different place when I was making that record," he tells EW of ditching the material. "I was still married, and all of the sudden that ended, and I had to find a way to feel good again.
"I started down that path and then I realized that, for me, making music is as about feeling good as the listeners that gets to hear it," he says. "I have to make an album that I enjoy singing every night."
The album is about love. But don't expect every track to be a gushy love song. It turns out Jake Owen enjoys singing about love on tour: "I kept noticing this reoccurring theme. The word kept appearing, but it was said in such different ways. I'm really proud that I got to encompass how love can be felt different ways but still remain the same, if that makes sense."
His vocals will be on full display for American Love. Though he's not entirely walking away from the ultra-cool speak-singing he's known for, Owen wants to really show country fans he can sing. "Sometimes my voice gets hidden," he admits. "People don't even have the opportunity to know that I love to sing."
The album will street July 29, and Owen reveals that he listens to it in his car. "It's been a long time since I made a record that I put on in my car and listen to on my own - but I can't stop. It makes me happy, and I know how much work I put into it."
Included in the album is a collaboration with Chris Stapleton. He helped write "If He Ain't Gonna Love You," and Stapleton also sings backup. "And it sounds so good," Owen tells Taste of Country Nights host Sam Alex. "He sounds unbelievable on it, so I'm so excited."
-Christina Vinson (The Boot)1. American Love
2. After Midnight
3. Where I Am
4. Everybody Dies Young
5. VW Van
6. Good Company
8. If He Ain't Gonna Love You
9. When You Love Someone
10. You Ain't Going Nowhere
11. American Country Love Song$19.99Vinyl 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
The Deviant ChordColored Vinyl: Transparent Turquoise With Black Swirls
FOR JAG PANZER, TEAM SPIRIT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE. WITHOUT TEAM SPIRIT, GUITARIST MARK BRIODY WOULD NO LONGER SEE ANY REASON FOR CONTINUING THE BAND.
We're like a family, we've all known each other for many years, he says and looks back at the years between 2011 and 2013 when Jag Panzer were on the brink of calling it a day. Two band members quit and there was little interest in hiring new people and starting over. Introducing new musicians would have been tough, so we decided to disband. But then the American power metal act's strong fan base made itself heard, causing the spark to be rekindled. Briody: We had a lot of interest in our early albums, so my band mates soon noticed that people were still listening to Jag Panzer, that the audience was still there. We started talking on the phone more and more. Some excellent gig offers arrived so we decided we should get back together. What a stroke of good fortune, after all now the public can look forward to an accomplished comeback album. The Deviant Chord is a veritable metal manifesto and consists of ten awesome songs featuring all those typical Jag Panzer strengths that the band's fans have come to appreciate.
Together with band members John Tetley (bass), Harry 'The Tyrant' Conklin (vocals), Rikard Stjernquist (drums) and Joey Tafolla (lead guitar), who has returned to the fold, Briody has recorded an album that impresses in every respect and that benefits from the outstanding qualities of all five band members. John does our 'quality control', meaning that he makes sure every song wedo is the best it can be. Harry is a musical genius. He's been singing since we were kids, he's very skilled in vocal arrangements and vocal recording techniques. This skill makes him a very big contributor in the songwriting. Rikard is all about drumming. He's been drumming since he was a small child and has never stopped. He grew up living all around the world and he has always been in a band. Joey is the classic lead player in every sense of the world. He has amazing skill on the guitar plus an outstanding stage presence. His playing makes every song better.LP 1
1. Born of the Flame
2. Far Beyond All Fear
3. The Deviant Chord
5. Foggy Dew
1. Divine Intervention
2. Long Awaited Kiss
3. Salacious Behavior
4. Fire Of Our Spirit
5. Dare$19.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP + CD - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Bright Sunny SouthNonesuch Records releases Sam Amidon's label debut, Bright Sunny South in 2013. Produced by Amidon with his childhood friend and longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett (a.k.a. Doveman) and legendary English engineer Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Vashti Bunyan, R.E.M.) and recorded in London, the record features a band made up of Bartlett and multi-instrumentalists Shahzad Ismaily and Chris Vatalaro. Jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler also makes a cameo. Amidon himself not only sings but also plays banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, and piano on the album.
Amidon describes Bright Sunny South as a "a lonesome record" and a return to the more spare sound of his 2007 self-recorded debut, But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted: "There was an atmospheric quality to my last two records; those albums are like a garden of sounds," says Amidon, "but this one is more of a journey, a winding path. The band comes rushing in and then they disappear. It comes from more of a darker, internal space."
A longtime admirer of Boys' work, Amidon was particularly enamored of his recordings with Martin Carthy in the 1970s, as well as the Ali Farka TourÉ/Toumani DiabatÉ duet albums on World Circuit/Nonesuch: "Those are so beautiful. I listened to all of that. I loved the sense of documentation, the unadorned quality. Everything sounded so clear."
The Vermont-born and raised, London-based Amidon is known for his reworking of traditional melodies into a new form. In addition to country ballads and shape-note hymns, Bright Sunny South features interpretations of traditional and contemporary songs, including Tim McGraw's "My Old Friend" and Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off." The record also includes a version of "Weeping Mary," a shape-note hymn that his parents, Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, had recorded with the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus for Nonesuch Records on the 1977 disc Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns from the Sacred Harp Tradition.
Bright Sunny South follows 2010's critically acclaimed I See the Sign, which earned Amidon praise from SPIN for his "quirky alchemy contrasting pretty sounds with violent lyrical undercurrents" and Pitchfork, which said, "[Amidon's] interpretations are so singular that it stops mattering how (or if) they existed before."
Prior to I See the Sign, which was released on the Iceland-based label Bedroom Community, Amidon released But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted (Plug Research, 2007) and All Is Well (Bedroom Community, 2008). In addition to his solo albums, Amidon has collaborated on performances pieces with musical polymath Nico Muhly, toured as part of Thomas Bartlett's group Doveman and the Brooklyn band Stars Like Fleas, collaborated with Beth Orton, and embarked on a series of live shows with the guitarist Bill Frisell.
Sam Amidon, sing, banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar; piano (8)
Thomas Bartlett, piano, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, Moog synthesizer; percussion & electric guitar (11)
Shahzad Ismaily, electric & acoustic guitars, electric bass, Moog bass; drums (2); shaker egg (7)
Chris Vatalaro: drums & percussion; flute (6); a taste of the Wurli (2)
Kenny Wheeler, trumpet (2, 5)
Doug Wieselman, clarinets (11)
Tyler Gibbons, electric bass (10)
Produced by Sam Amidon, Jerry Boys, and Thomas Bartlett
Engineered and Mixed by Jerry Boys
Recorded at Snap Recording Studios and Livingston Studios, London
"Weeping Mary" Engineered by Patrick Dillett at No Fat Studios, New York, NY
Violin and bass on "Streets of Derry" Recorded by Tyler Gibbons at Red Heart Studios, Marlboro, VT
Assistant Engineers: Ben Mclusky at Snap; Sonny at Livingston
All songs are traditional, reworked & arranged by Sam Amidon, except track 4 written by McEwan/Wiseman, arranged by Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett; track 8 by Cox/Carey/Austin/Dupri, arranged by Sam Amidon; track 11 by McCurry/Power, arranged by Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett
Design by John Gall
Executive Producer: David Bither1. Bright Sunny South
2. I Wish I Wish
3. Short Life
4. My Old Friend
5. He's Taken My Feet
7. As I Roved Out
8. Shake It Off
10. Streets of Derry
11. Weeping Mary$24.99Vinyl LP + Bonus 7 - Sealed 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
The MugicianGrammy Award winner, Keyon Harrold, one of the world's most sought-after genre-bending trumpeters, will release The Mugician via Legacy Recordings/Mass Appeal Records.
Long known as the artist's artist - he has worked with Maxwell, Common, BeyoncÉ, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Eminem and a long list of the world's top musical icons - The New York-based musician now takes center stage with a captivating LP that ponders the fears and frustrations of a divided country while yearning for justice and peace.
As the word "Mugician" is an impromptu hybrid of words, this album is an accumulation of Keyon's eclectic tastes, with stylistic twists and turns everywhere taking cues from jazz, hip-hop, blues, rock, reggae, and rap. The new LP features an all-star list of collaborators, including Gary Clark Jr., Big K.R.I.T., Bilal, Pharoahe Monch and Robert Glasper. From spiritual chants and soulful singing to bombastic expressions of frustration and melodic pleas for understanding, Keyon's arrangements color the different ways to hear the world in 2017.
If there are echoes of Miles Davis in Keyon's style and sound, it's no mere coincidence; Keyon played the trumpet sound of Don Cheadle playing Davis in his 2015 biopic Miles Ahead and on its Grammy-winning soundtrack. Don reflects on this and the birth of The Mugician, the nickname that came from that project, in the liner notes, which he contributed to the album.
Ferguson holds a large presence throughout The Mugician. The instrumental "MB Lament" is a tribute to Michael Brown as strings echo a smoking gun while the bass line repeats over and over, reminiscent of the frequency of gun violence and systemic police brutality. "When Will It Stop" answers the calling of "MB Lament" as actor and comedian Guy Torry, also from the St. Louis area, uses humor to confront bigotry, sexism, racism, and more while Keyon leads a driving groove. And on "Circus Show," Keyon and Gary Clark Jr. trade verses and hooks while trying to make sense of America's "Broken" newscast over the repeated phrase "What's going on?"
Themes of home and family loom large on The Mugician. With nine brothers and seven sisters, several of whom are also accomplished musicians, Keyon considers family essential; the album opener "Voicemail" features Keyon's own mother encouraging her son to stay true to himself and to never give up in the face of trials and tribulations. The Mugician is Keyon upholding his mother's wisdom.
Keyon Harrold has become one of the most sought-after trumpeters in the world having been featured on nearly 100 albums spanning jazz, R&B, pop, gospel, blues, and hip-hop. Harrold has recorded with the world's leading artists from Maxwell to Keith Richards and has toured with music's most bold-faced names including BeyoncÉ, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Common, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, D'Angelo and the Vanguard, and more. In 2016, Keyon released "Running (Refugee Song)" in collaboration with songwriting partner Andrea Pizziconi as part of their initiative Compositions for a Cause. The song, also featuring Grammy Award-winning rapper Common and Grammy Award-winning singer Gregory Porter was included on Billboard's list of "6 Songs Offering Hope & Perspective During Immigration Ban" this past January.
Legacy Recordings and Mass Appeal Records have combined their creative and marketing resources in a first-of-its-kind collaboration on behalf of Keyon Harrold's, The Mugician. "We couldn't be more proud of signing Keyon Harrold and of the album he's made," said Adam Block, President of Legacy Recordings."We're especially excited by the record's range of repertoire and the broadness of Keyon's appeal. Working with Mass Appeal, who've long been champions of Keyon's, exponentially expands our ability to reach fans with Key's music and the creativity and channels with which we'll do that."1. Voicemail (feat. Shirley Harrold)
2. The Mugician (feat. Josh David Barrett)
3. MB Lament
4. When Will It Stop? (feat. Guy Torry)
5. Wayfaring Traveler (feat. Jermaine Holmes, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Robert Glasper)
6. Stay This Way (feat. Bilal and Big K.R.I.T.)
8. Her Beauty Through My Eyes (feat. Pharoahe Monch)
9. Ethereal Souls
10. Broken News (feat. Andrea Pizziconi)
11. Circus Show (feat. Gary Clark Jr.)
12. Bubba Rides Again$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Teacher Don't Teach Me NonsenseTeacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense: Fela explains the role of the teacher in any society with the concept that: all the things we consider as problems, and all the good things we accept from life as good, begin with what we are taught. The individual teaching begins with when we are children - our mother is our teacher. When we come of school age, our teacher is the school-teacher. At the university, the lecturers and professors are our teachers. After university-when we start to work, government becomes the individual's teacher. When then is government's teacher? 'Culture and Tradition' says Fela. This is the order of things everywhere in the world. However, it is the problem side of teacher and student that interests Fela in this song. Because every country in this world except in Africa, it is the respective culture and tradition of that country that guides the government on how to rule their people. Going for specifics, Fela mentions France, Germany, England, Korea, Japan, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Etc., it is the culture of these countries that shapes and guides their respective government's decisions. The culture and traditions of these countries serve as a teacher to their respective governments. Turing his attention to Africa and her problems. Problems which he had sang about: corruption, inflation, mismanagement, authority stealing, electoral fraud, the latest addition which even makes him laugh is -austerity. Fela says if you ask him why 'austerity makes him laugh? The answer is that it is beyond crying. The government steals money from the country, the same government is introducing austerity measures-forcing the poor people to pay for their own greed and calling it 'austerity measures'. How funny if to say the least. Who taught African 'leaders' to rule the way they do today? 'Na the oyinbo' (meaning in Yoruba language: 'it is them white folks') referring to ex-colonial ruler of each country. Take electoral fraud, which is a true test of our democracy. Many African leaders rig elections with impunity and their respective ex-colonial rulers say nothing against this form of 'democracy'. While the same 'white folks' are quick to claim credit for Africa's 'civilization'-which Fela disputes in this song. Is this democracy? , he asks. Turning to other problems like the ever-growing gap between the rich and the poor. Particularly, since the rich are the rules, and also the people stealing the country into poverty. Is this democracy? Or dem-all-crazy? In conclusion, as an African personality, Fela says he is not in the same league as those who believe in dem-all-crazy, so he calls on the Western powers who claim to be Africa's teachers not to teach him nonsense-Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense.
Look and Laugh: By 1981 when Fela wrote and started to perform live the song Look And Laugh, he was living a life that could be described as a recluse. Fela, who loved to go out in public places, clubs, etc. Suddenly, was always found sleeping or playing sax at home with women around him, or performing at the Africa Shrine. His old attitude of keeping abreast of events, giving lectures at universities and institutions of higher learning stopped. He rarely gave press conferences or press releases, like he used to do. Finally he wrote the song to explain what was going-on with him. He sang: ' many of you go dey wonder why your man never write new song! wetin I dey do be say I dey look and laugh.' Meaning: many of you must have been wondering why, your man has not written new songs! what I am doing is just look and laugh! Fela went on to explain his contributions and sacrifices for the cause of black emancipation, the countless beatings and arrests from the Nigerian police and army, his trials and tribulations, his ultimate sacrifice being the burning down of Kalakuta by the Nigeria army. But despite his sacrifices and sufferings like millions of other Africans, it was obvious that things were not getting better for the average man on the street. There is still injustice everywhere, no freedom, no happiness. All these made him feel disillusioned and all he could do about the situation is to Look and Laugh.
Just Like That: This song is a call to arms from Fela to all Africans to rise up and do something about the political, economic, social and cultural retrogression that has plagued Africa since independence. For more than three decades of independence, there is glaring mismanagement of people's lives, corruption in the highest echelon of government-all these carried out with impunity-'Just Like That' he sings. Using the Nigerian experience as an example of the 'lack of maintenance culture', in Africa's present day neo-colonial administrations, he says: 'White man ruled us for many years, we had electricity constantly, our leaders take over! No electricity in town-Just like that!' Fela explains that the attempt to transplant 'Western style democracy' in an African society is the cause of all the problems. Despite calls for African Unity from leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, who said: '..Until all foreign institutions and culture are removed from the African land, that is when the African genius will be born and African personality will find its fulfillment..'. Instead of heeding Nkrumah's call, Nigeria's political founding fathers, like most African leaders at independence, chose the option of fashioning the constitutions of their respective countries after those of the departing colonial 'masters'-Just Like That. The ambiguity of such decisions can be seen in the poor imitation we make of our attempt at 'Western style democracy'. Persistent political gangsterism, military coups, and sometimes wars, are means used to enforce the already compromised constitutions. As another example of enforcing a fragile constitution, Fela stresses the face that in 1966, Nigeria for a civil war to keep the country ONE. General Gowon, the military head of state, divided Nigeria into twelve administrative regions, subsequent administrations divided the regions into more-Just Like That. He adds that if the idea of the civil war was to keep the country ONE, sub-dividing Nigeria into more regions would separate rather than unite the country. Turning to the position of traditional rulers in the mess called government, Fela sings: ' nothing good for town to give the youths good examples, how our traditional ruler they do, them come make youths look-up to Europe and USA, in those places them don lose them common sense, na the number of Nuclear weapons you get, na him give you power pass! Right now! Fight now! Suffer must stop! Just Like That". Therefore, calling on the people to fight now for a better society.1. Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense
2. Look and Laugh
3. Just Like That$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
MTV Unplugged - Summer SolsticeIn the land of the midnight sun, the clocks tick slightly different than they do elsewhere. This is especially true during the summer solstice, when the sun hardly sets at all, bathing the small Norwegian island of Giske - where a-ha played their first ever two acoustic concerts - in an eerie twilight.
Giske is a tiny island in close proximity to the city of Ålesund on the shore of the North Atlantic Ocean - a popular city much frequented by day trippers arriving on huge cruise ships during Norway's short yet intense summer season. But a-ha's audience didn't get to Giske on such boats. Coming from destinations all over the world, for them getting to Giske meant embarking on a plane to Oslo and from there to Ålesund. And from there you finally have to drive through a series of seemingly endless and frighteningly deep undersea tunnels to reach Giske, an island so beautiful and, well, remote, that one immediately wonders why a-ha handpicked this specific location to play their long awaited first MTV Unplugged shows on the night of the 2017 summer solstice, right where the world seems to end.
Pål Waaktaar-Savoy: "Choosing Giske is like most of the things we do: It's been 50% chance and 50% planned. We were discussing many different places to play these special shows - among them Manaus in the Amazon jungle, Berlin, London and New York. At the end of the day it was the Ocean Sound Recordings studio in Giske that made the difference. We knew that we could rehearse undisturbed in an extremely good sounding facility."
a-ha booked the Ocean Sound Recordings studio, which looks out onto the ocean, to revisit their own back catalogue for two weeks together with producer Lars Horntveth, who had already been working on the acoustic arrangements for more than half a year. The nearby Øygardshallen (Giske Harbour Hall) turned out to be the perfect venue to stage their two first ever acoustic shows: They simply had to lay cables from A to B and then were able to use the studio at Ocean Sound Recordings to capture the shows perfectly. a-ha performed in front of an audience of just 250 people - the Øygardshallen's glass front allowed the audience to gaze out into the pale night and onto a number of LED video steles that had been set up behind the band, serving as a minimalist backdrop to the concert. Suffice to say, the concerts were sold-out within minutes, as a-ha were to play "concerts so close to our audience like never before". As Magne Furuholmen puts it: "These were by far the most intimate concerts we've ever given."
Yet the beauty of the North Atlantic Ocean, the light of the midnight sun and the exclusivity of the concerts are only one half of the story. The other half is that the idea of a-ha playing their vast catalogue of world hits stripped down to their very essence is indeed a promising endeavor.
Pål: "We've talked about this idea for so many years. And in many of our concerts we've also played some acoustic songs. But if you consider that we don't use much technology at all when we write the songs, the idea an entirely acoustic show makes total sense. Playing all these songs now in their acoustic versions is like returning to their origins."
Magne expands the thought in a more universal direction: "Most of our songs draw inspiration from a childhood directly exposed to Norwegian culture, even the folk music tradition, perhaps more so than we thought. We were constantly faced with questions from journalists implying how our 'Norwgian-ness' was a unique part of our sound, even though we lived and worked in London.
As a creative person it is almost easier to tap into this nordic mindest from a distance. History is full of good examples of how iconic Norwegians in the past did their best work away from home; The writer Henrik Ibsen wrote on universal topics with a strong Norwegian tone while living in Italy, Edvard Munch's melancholic force defined expressionism while living in Berlin - yet he simply couldn't be from anywhere but this country. And of course there is Edvard Grieg, who took a lot of inspiration directly from folk music. His music always felt particularly resonant in our ears growing up. With such strong figures and influences defining what it is to be a Norwegian, it becomes part of what you are. Our darker, melancholic streak definitely harks back to these early influences. We feel connected to all that, which is why we thought returning home for this project was a very natural step.
Morten Harket stresses the fact how crucial it was to have arranger/producer Lars Horntveth on board as a catalyst and fearlessly driving force behind the scenes: "He confronted our music by presenting completely new arrangements, also taking out 'untouchable' parts, which easily came across as being disrespectful. I say this as a compliment, by the way... And of course we hated it! But we also needed it! This was exactly what we had asked of him. We needed someone who would boldly question everything that we stood for as a band - someone who could stand up to us. Of course it led to shouting matches. It's part of the creative process. Lars deserves the credit for bringing the band closer together than we have been for a very long time."
For the MTV Unplugged shows, a-ha played 17 songs in completely new arrangements as well as two new songs and two cover versions on vintage acoustic instruments, accompanied by a backing band featuring Karl Oluf Wennerberg on drums, Even Ormestad on acoustic bass, Morten Qvenild on piano and various acoustic keyboards, Lars Horntveth on multiple instruments and Madeleine Ossum on violin and vocals, Tove Margrethe Erikstad on cello and Emilie Heldal Lidsheim on viola and backing vocals. Furthermore, a total of four guest stars served as duet partners for Morten Harket. Most notably, Echo & The Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch had been invited by Magne Furuholmen to sing "Scoundrel Days" and Ian's very own "The Killing Moon" on the first of the two shows. On the second night, a-ha were joined by Alison Moyet of Yazoo fame to duet with Morten on "Summer Moved On". Highasakite's Ingrid Helene Håvik guested on "The Sun Always Shines on TV" on both nights, while, last but not least, American singer Lissie did the same on "I've Been Losing You".
"In the cacophonic world of popular music, with its high-impact effects and productions, the music is often somewhat lost as it ends up being premeditated." Morten Harket addresses the subject of subtlety: "The world of pop is a world where everything always has to be more than anything else."
Attending the concerts and the last full day of the rehearsals, you could tell that the whole group and especially Morten did indeed try to reveal the soul of each and every song performed. During the last run-through on the day before the first night the band took things extremely seriously. Songs were started, stopped and deconstructed. Discussions between Morten and the group as well as with the recording engineers dealt with the tiniest details of sound, cohesiveness and attitude. As a result, the two shows benefited profoundly, both in terms of microstructure (the new arrangements reveal so much of the songs' essences), as well as in that the overall dramaturgic arc of the concerts, which steadily built towards a climax that would astound even the most dedicated follower of the group. During the encore, a-ha would play - "as usual" - their first and biggest hit to date, "Take On Me". But an unexpected chord change in the chorus and the skeletal arrangement not only allowed a new perspective on the song's lyrics, it also left the audience with tears in their eyes.
Magne: "When you rearrange songs for an acoustic rendition it is also an opportunity to do more than to just simplify them. I especially like what happened when we took a fresh look at Take on me, which went from being an uptempo syntheziser-driven popsong to a much more melancholic, yearning ballad in this slowed down arrangement, it shows with much more clarity how the song at its core is not some standalone upbeat track, but belongs squarely inside our catalogue alongside more thoughtful, darker songs like scoundrel days etc.
There are only a few bands in the world who can look back on similarly close ties with the music channel MTV as a-ha. Alongside the likes of Duran Duran and Yello, in 1985 a-ha were worldwide pioneers who immediately understood the power of the music video as both a narrative and commercial tool. Steve Barron's classic "Take On Me" clip is still a milestone of music video and in 2003 was voted by the MTV audience as one of the top ten best videos ever made. There have long been efforts by a-ha and MTV to organize an Unplugged concert.
The fact that the two MTV Unplugged concerts in June 2017 actually took place on Giske also left a deep impression on a-ha themselves. Like every other band that has been successful on a worldwide scale for over three decades, a-ha have had their share of problems, split-ups and re-unifications. A thoughtful Magne reflects: "After such a long time, a-ha have now become a band that simply continues from project to project. This turned out to be a very healthy approach for the three of us, because going acoustic also had the taste of a new project."
Pål: "When we recorded our last few albums, we were sometimes working pretty isolated from each other. We should do this again - sitting and recording in the same room together for a couple of weeks or months and see what comes out as a result. We may argue about a lot of things, but we are also a band that has very close ties."
After the closing applause that seemed would never end, the band left the stage and walked out of Øygardshallen into the living daylights. Having performed two triumphant concerts together, the three band mates climbed into three separate vehicles and headed off into the sunlit night. But everybody in the audience had a feeling that a-ha had now just opened a brand new chapter in their unparalleled career. To quote a line from one of the highlights of these unplugged shows: "Cause I've been told / Stay on these roads / We shall meet, I know."
-Max DaxLP 1
1. This Is Our Home (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
2. Lifelines (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
3. I've Been Losing You (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
4. Analogue (All I Want) (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
5. The Sun Always Shines on TV (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
6. A Break in the Clouds (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
7. Foot of the Mountain (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
1. Stay on These Roads (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
2. This Alone Is Love (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
3. Over the Treetops (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
4. Forever Not Yours (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
5. Sox of the Fox (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
6. Scoundrel Days (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
7. The Killing Moon (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
1. Summer Moved on (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
2. Memorial Beach (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
3. Living a Boy's Adventure Tale (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
4. Manhattan Skyline (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
5. The Living Daylights (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017 / LP Edit)
6. Hunting High and Low (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)
7. Ake on Me (Live from MTV Unplugged, Giske / 2017)$45.99Vinyl LP - 3 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Bad Self Portraits (Out Of Stock)Bad Self Portraits, taking its cues from the social media "selfie" phenomena, is a startling record, one that shows the group tightening up its songwriting chops and presenting a much more unified statement, front to back. Lead singer Rachael Price sounds as disaffected a woman scorned as ever, and, though she throws some of the vocal leads to her male counterparts, particularly on the song "Seventeen", she's still as commanding (and, as someone else in Review Land has noted, LOUD) a presence as ever. But Bad Self Portraits is notable for dialing down some of the jazziness of their previous full length - you have to get a few tracks in before you hear the group's distinctive horns and Bridget Kearney's thick thunk-a-thunka stand-up bass lines don't really get a chance to shine until third track "Better Than". Bad Self Portraits, then, is a much more streamlined and rockist affair. Even though it doesn't reach the same heights, in terms of bowling you off your feet and knocking you over with infectiousness, as Lake Street Dive did, it is still an excellent record, and one that sees the group emerging as much more mature and self-confident. Bad Self Portraits shucks the adage that anything released in the depths of winter is dross.
What makes Bad Self Portraits particularly astonishing is that it naturally follows from previous releases in a logical progression. While the Fun Machine EP seemed at the time to be merely a stop-gap release meant to tide fans over to this slightly more than three year wait between proper albums (Lake Street Dive was released at the end of 2010), it now makes a great deal more sense in terms of providing a direction for the group. When the band covered Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" on that affair, it was merely a means of setting up the grandiose statement of the infectious piano led "Rabid Animal", which is probably my favourite thing on the record although it is, alas, the briefest at two minutes and change. Still, that shouldn't sell the rest of the album short. The gorgeous rock number "Stop Your Crying" (no, not a cover of the Pretenders' "Stop Your Sobbing" or a certain Bob Mould song from Black Sheets of Rain) is insanely propulsive and invites you to clap along. The countrified "You Go Down Smooth", the song the band performed on Colbert, rambles and careens in equal measure. It is, to quote the lyrics sheet, a "special treat". "Better Than", with its seeming time signature shifts in certain measures, shows the band's willingness to experiment with off-kilter sounds. And when Price sings "I have lived a privileged life, but I have seen my share of strife", on "What About Me", you feel it; right in the gut.
What makes Lake Street Dive so special is that, even though the band members are talented individuals in their own right, they are able to interplay and lock together to form a solid backbone to their music. Price, in particular, isn't even 30 years old yet and has the razor sharp wit and wisdom of a woman a decade ahead of her. It's impressive that the band can sound as tight as they do, as Kearney moonlights in other outfits (Joy Kills Sorrow, Cuddle Magic). If anything, Bad Self Portraits is another outstanding release from a really crucial and important group who is on the cusp of shedding its relative anonymity for bigger and better stages. While I doubt Lake Street Dive is ever going to headline stadium tours, their years of playing scuzzy bars (which impacted their selection of name) is clearly well, well behind them. Bad Self Portraits is an awesome addition to the band's catalogue, and I cannot be effusive enough in my love for this group, self-deprecation be damned, that can make you feel so wonderful to be alive and breathing. Lake Street Dive has that kind of effect on listeners, and it's blistering.
- Zachary Houle (Pop Matters)1. Bad Self Portraits
2. Stop Your Crying
3. Better Than
4. Rabid Animal
5. You Go Down Smooth
6. Use Me Up
7. Bobby Tanqueray
8. Just Ask
10. What About Me
11. Rental Love$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Temporarily out of stock