Tag: Bella Union Records

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Beach House Return with a Gorgeous and Atmospheric Single from Forthcoming Album

Comprised of Victoria Legrand (organ, vocals) and Alex Scally (guitar, vocals), the  Baltimore-based indie rock act Beach House have released a handful of critically and commercially successful albums, including 2015’s Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, which were written and recorded within a two-and-a-half year period between 2012-2014 — and while being individual efforts, they’re meant to be viewed as closely related companion pieces, as metaphorically being two sides of the same coin, as they built upon similar themes and a related, overall sound centered around sparse and atmospheric arrangements of organ, guitar and Legrand’s ethereal vocals. 

Much like countless bands before them, Legrand and Scally have written and recorded a large number of songs throughout their career, some of which have been played live or released that for whatever reason just didn’t quite fit their album-based material. Over the years, some of those songs have proven to be increasingly difficult to find and listen to, and to accommodate their fans, they released B-Sides and Rarities, a 14 track compilation of songs that they’ve recorded and released that just didn’t make their albums, and two previously unreleased singles “Chariot” and “Baseball Diamond,” recorded during the Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars sessions. As a music journalist and fan, B-side compilations can offer a revealing look into a band’s creative and editorial processes as they write and record an album.  

Interestingly, the Baltimore-based dream pop duo will be releasing a new album later this spring through Sub Pop Records in North America, Bella Union Records in Europe and Mistletone Records in Australia and New Zealand, and the as yet untitled album’s first single “Lemon Glow” will further cement the duo’s reputation for crafting tender yet atmospheric material centered around Legrand’s ethereal vocals but this particular track is a bit more jangling and finds the duo (to my ears at least) subtly drawing from shoegaze as it possesses an equally subtle cosmic glow.

New Video: The Lush Swooning and Psychedelic Visuals and Sounds of Jonathan Wilson’s “Loving You”

Jonathan Wilson is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who has collaborated with the likes of Father John Misty, Lucius, Karen Elson and Conor Oberst, contributed guitar and vocals as a member of the backing and touring bands for Roger Waters‘ Grammy nominated Is This The Life We Really Want?, and throughout that same period, the highly sought after Wilson has released two albums which have garnered comparisons to the Laurel Canyon troubadours of the 1960s and 1970s — in particular Crosby, Stills and Nash, Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, Tom Petty and others; however, Wilson’s third and forthcoming album, Rare Birds, which is slated for a March 2, 2018 release through Bella Union Records is reportedly one of the singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s most ambitious, “maximalist” works to date featuring contributions from collaborators Father John Misty and Lucius, as well as Lana Del Rey and New Age musician Laraaji.

While much of the album’s material thematically and lyrically find Wilson meditating on a failed relationship and its aftermath, he has insisted in press notes that it’s not meant to specifically be a concept album. “It’s meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming, healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music, to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It’s all in there.” Late last year, I wrote about the album’s first single “Over The Midnight,” which brought to mind Peter Gabriel 3, Security and So-era Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Tears for Fears  while nodding at the lush psych pop of Tame Impala; but the song is underpinned by a swooning Romanticism, as it’s about a sacred and profoundly safe space where lovers could exist and freely be in love, escaping a world on the verge of collapse.

Rare Birds’ latest single “Loving You” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its a lush yet deeply meditative track with the bittersweet tinge of regret of someone, who’s looking back at a major relationship in his life, and of all the things he felt and believed that he should have or could have done. And as a result, it evokes the lingering ghosts of a man, who’s lived a messy and complicated life. Wilson says in press notes about the song, “One day, one of my musical heros Laraaji came into my studio to just experiment and record some music. I had the ditty ‘Loving You’ lying around, (it was a song I wrote from a feeling or inflection of a word I heard John Lennon emote in one of his songs) and I then put down a simple little drum machine beat along with the piano and vocal that you hear now. Laraaji then beautifully chanted over the song, one take … then he played his cosmic zither, undulated gracefully with his ipad, and truly shaped the scope of the track. I then added a specific drum/cymbal treatment used throughout Rare Birds, my funky Crumar bass, Lana Del Rey, a few other things and boom that was the genesis of the new album Rare Birds, that song set the tone.”

Directed By Matthew Daniel Siskin, the recently released video for “Loving You” will also continue Wilson’s run of pairing trippy and beautiful visuals to lush instrumentation. In this case the video features the renowned New Age multi-instrumentalist Laraaji floating over some gorgeous natural scenery — at points holding an old TV monitor that features a meditative Wilson singing the song. Later on, Wilson’s face and on that old TV monitor is seen in a number of New York locales, including an airport, a train station, a Manhattan intersection and so on. And interestingly, the visuals manage to further emphasize the swooning nature of the song.

 

Initially releasing singles like “Seeing Is Forgetting” and “Half-Empy Happiness” under the intentional cloak of mystery, the Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape quickly received attention across the blogosphere for crafting moody and atmospheric pop that’s deeply indebted to 80s synth pop — i.e., Depeche Mode, The Human League and others —  while evoking the sensation of a half-remembered dream.

However, with the forthcoming release of their highly-anticipated full-length debut, Life Is Short The Answer’s Long through Bella Union Records on April 27, 2018, the Canadian pop duo have removed some of the mystery surrounding them; in fact, the duo comprised of Addy Weitzman and Patrick A Boivin can trace the origins of The Beat Escape to a college short film they had collaborated on together. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Canadian pop duo explain in press note. And since that initial collaboration, the duo have collaborated on a series of projects — but interestingly, their full-length Beat Escape debut finds them thematically speaking coming full-circle while further developing the sound that grabbed the attention of the blogosphere and elsewhere.

Interestingly, the album’s first single “Sign of Age” pairs a propulsive and undulating Giorgio Moroder meets motorik groove with a deliberately, almost painterly and textured quality that makes the song feel as though it’s gently drifting along. And in some way, the song will further their reputation for crafting pop that evokes being roused from some half-remembered dream; but unlike their previously released material, the duo balances this with a melancholy and spectral minimalism.

 

 

 

 

 

Karl Blau is an Anacortes, WA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who over the course of his 20+ year career as a musician has developed a now, long-held reputation for an eclectic, genre-defying approach as his sound routinely incorporates elements of folk, dub, R&B, Bossa nova, grunge, hip-hop, drone and worldbeat among others, as well as being a member of the Knw-Yr-Own/K Records collective. Along with that Blau has played in a number of bands including D+, Brothers Blau, Captain Fathom and Your Heart Breaks, and has collaborated with a number of Washington-based musicians including The MicrophonesPhil Elverum, Mount Eerie, LAKE, Earth and Laura Veirs. And additionally, Blau has released material through his Kelp Lunacy Advanced Plagiarism Society monthly subscription service.

And although Blau has writing, recording and releasing albums for over 20 years, he hadn’t received European distribution until 2015 when renowned indie label Bella Union Records released Introducing Karl Blau, which was considered by many — including album producer Tucker Martine, as shining a light on “one of the great hidden treasures of music.” Interestingly, Introducing featured gorgeous, lush covers of Nashville country/soul; however, his latest effort Out Her Space continues an ongoing collaboration with Spacebomb Records‘ founder Matthew E. White that goes back to 2009.

 

As the story goes, Spacebomb Records’ Matthew E. White had asked Blau to helm the recording sessions for his band Great White Jenkins. When White started Spacebomb Records in 2012, he envisioned the label as having a house band in the style of old school Stax Records and Motown Records. After White started the label, he called Blau to collaborate once again on an album — the critically applauded Big Inner. As the story goes, after hearing the Out Her Space demos, White suggested that the Spacebomb Records house band, centered Cameron Ralston (bass), who’s now a member of Fleet Foxes; Pinson Chanselle (drums) and White (guitar, synth), along with Megafaun’s Phil Cook (piano) and a cast of collaborators, who contributed horns, viola and backing vocals — with the album material being something of a cousin to its predecessor.

The album thematically speaking plays with humanitarian themes, against a backdrop of self-immolating American politics; in fact, as Blau explains in press notes, the album’s title was inspired by an “overwhelming feeling to point out that men, in general, need to listen, to stop being so assertive and get out of her space, let her balance again. Chill out dudes, rather than lead us over the cliff.” Sonically speaking, the material, as you’ll hear on album single “Beckon” is a languid and shimmering track that draws from 70s AM rock, classic soul, funk and Afropop with a slick, carefully crafted hook.

Blau has an upcoming NYC area show 1/11/18 at Rough Trade to promote the album.  [TICKETS/INFO]

 

 

 

 

Oli Deakin is a London-based singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, who has received airplay from a number of BBC DJs, including Huw Stephens, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq, as well press attention for his mostly solo recording project Lowpines. Initially begun through a series of lo-fi phone records, which were then overdubbed with multiple layers of reverb soaked instrumentation, Deakin eventually released several EPs and a full-length cassette over the past few years.

 

In Silver Halides, Deakin’s official full-length debut was written in rural England during the winter and recording began the following spring in a greenhouse, during an unseasoned heatwave. Understandably, the heat and sunlight created some intense recording sessions that were frequently interrupted by either the artist or the equipment overheating, which gave songs written with wintry imagery a new and very different direction. Opting to record with doors and windows throw open, much of the early demo recordings are filled with the ambient noises of the surrounding countryside, which managed to echo through the layers of reverb soaked instrumentation. Additional recording sessions were produced by IggyB at Bella Union Studios and featured Oli Deakin’s brother Jamie (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute).

The album’s slow-burning and haunting first single “We Come Right” pairs Deakin’s plaintive and aching vocals with shimmering guitars, cinematic strings and subtle echoes of distant vocals and ambient sounds — and in some way, the song evokes the accumulation of lingering and inescapable ghosts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the past year or so, I’ve written a bit about the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known for being member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ HarveyNina NastasiaCat PowerBill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and lute player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.

Interestingly, the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble were touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. At the time, White was a member of avant rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met Giorgos Xylouris, who would later collaborate with the Dirty There whenever he and his Ensemble were touring Australia. Unsurprisingly, the collaboration with Xylouris and the members of the Dirty Three was based on a healthy, mutual admiration of the elder Xylouris and his son’s work, which managed to influence the Dirty Three’s sound and compositional approach.

Strangely enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. The duo’s long-held admiration of each other’s work and their friendship have naturally found a way to influence everything about their creative process, revealing a mischievous and deep simpatico in which each musician intiutively knows when it’s time to lead, when to follow backwards and in heels, as the old saying goes. when to coax more from each other or when to hold back– but underneath there’s a jazz-like sense of unfettered and effortless improvisation of two old masters at their craft.

Unsurprisingly, Goats their debut effort together was indebted to their unique creative approach, which Giorgos Xylouris has poetically described in press notes as being ““Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.” The duo’s sophomore effort, Black Peak continued the goat analogy, although the album’s title was derived from one of Crete’s most famous and beautiful mountains; however, the album, which was produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto and was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris joked in press notes, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it nodded heavily at classic rock, punk rock and jazz, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging,” both of which are two of my favorite songs off that album.

Now, as you may recall, the duo’s highly-anticipated third, full-length album Mother is slated for a January 19, 2017 release through Bella Union Records, and as Xylouris said in press note about the duo’s new album “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak. Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” As Xylouris adds “a theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach. So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

Mother‘s first single “Only Love” was a rollicking and passionate stomp that consisted of White’s propulsive and forceful drumming, Xylouris’ dexterous and heavy metal guitar god-like lute playing and an infectious hook paired with Xylouris’ sonorous baritone. And while possessing a rare mix of urgency and a deceptive simplicity, the song further reveals the duo’s unique chemistry, as it features a playfulness as its core. The album’s latest single “Daphne” is a gorgeous yet meditative song that while building up to a explosive climax, manages to be a swooning declaration of love — a love that may be unrequited, but interestingly enough, as Xylouris explained to Stereogum, the song actually goes back to his time with Xylouris Ensemble — or roughly sometime in the early 90s when they first met. And as Xylouris admits, the duo had discussed recording a version of the song featuring their arrangement — lute and drums. The lyrics were written by Mitsoo Stavrakakis and are translated into English below:

It’s a song following us a lifetime
It’s a love song and the lyrics say

I’ve got your love roots in my heart,
And your blossom in my mind

I float in your scent
Because your scent is beautiful

The duo will be embarking on a series of Stateside tour dates to support the new album, and it included a February 28, 2018 stop at Murmrr Ballroom. Check out the rest of the dates below and if they’re in your town, I’d suggest catching these two old masters.
Tour Dates
Feb 23 – Portland, ME – Space Gallery
Feb 24 – Portsmouth, NH – as3
Feb 25 – Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Feb 26 – New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine  
Feb 28 – Brooklyn, NY – Mrmurr Ballroom
Mar 1 – Baltimore, MD – Creative Alliance at The Patterson
Mar 2 – Harrisburg, PA – The Cathedral Room
Mar 5, 12, 19, 26 – Los Angeles, CA – Residency at Zebulon
Mar 15 – Portland, OR – Holocene
Apr 3 to 8 – Iowa City, IA – Mission Creek Festival 

 

If you had followed this site throughout the course of 2016, you would have come across a small handful of posts featuring the genre-defying, world music duo Xylouris White, comprised of Melbourne, Australia-born, New York-based drummer Jim White, who’s best known as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ HarveyNina NastasiaCat PowerBill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, the son of renowned vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris, and who is best known best known for leading the Xylouris Ensemble.

Interestingly, the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble was touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. As the story goes, White was a member of locally-based avant rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met and befriended Xylouris, who would later collaborate with The Dirty Three whenever he was touring Australia. And unsurprisingly, the collaboration with Xylouris and The Dirty Three was a rather fruitful collaboration based on a healthy mutual admiration and the influence that both Psaratonis Xylouris and his father Giorgos had on the Melbourne-based trio’s sound and compositional approach.

Straggly enough, although White and Xylouris had been friends and collaborators for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 that they decided that they should directly collaborate together, a process that was accelerated when the duo played together at a Nick Cave curated  All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. And unsurprisingly, the duo’s long-held admiration and friendship have found a way to influence who they write, record and perform together — with their compositions frequently sounding as though they were dancing, as though at any given point, one instrument leading with the other one following and quickly shifting in a wildly fluid fashion. Goats, Xylouris White’s debut was  largely inspired by their creative approach, an approach that Xylouris poetically described as being “Like goats walking in the mountain. They may not know the place, but they can walk easily and take risks and feel comfortable. Really, the goats inspired us.”

Black Peak, Xylouris White’s sophomore album furthers the goat analogy, with the album’s title being derived from one of Crete’s most famous; however, the album, which was “recorded everywhere,” as Xylouris jokes in press notes and produced by Fugazi‘s Guy Picciotto, found the duo expanding upon their sound as the material possesses a subtly modern take on traditional sounds and motifs — at points sounding as though it drew from classic rock, as you’d hear on album singles “Black Peak,” and “Forging.

Mother, the duo’s third, full-length effort together is slated for a January 19, 2017 release through Bella Union Records, and as Psaratonis Xylouris explains in press notes, the album was named to denote “new life.” “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak,” Xylouris adds in press notes. “Three things, all part of a whole. Goats are mothers, Zeus was raised on Amaltheia’s milk, Black Peak is Mother Earth . . . Mother Earth is the mother of everything.” Reportedly, the duo will further cement the duo’s reputation for having a fluid and mischievous chemistry in which they intuitively known exactly when to listen, when to accommodate, when to lead and get out of the way, and to find something completely new together. “A theme of the album is the significance of simplicity and a child-like approach,” Xylouris explains. “So, we connect mother and child and play instruments as toys. Xylouris White is still gestating.”

The album’s first single “Only Love” is a rollicking yet passionate stomp of a song featuring White’s propulsive drumming, which gives a lot of room for Xylouris’ incredibly dexterous, heavy metal-like louto and an infectious hook, accompanied by Xylouris’ sonorous baritone, singing lyrics in Greek — and while possessing a swooning and urgent passion, the song reveals the duo’s mischievous, free-flowing improvisational-like nature.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Pavo Pavo Return with Hazy and Dreamy Visuals for “No Mind”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past 12-18 months or so, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring the Brooklyn-based experimental pop/psych pop act  Pavo Pavo. Deriving their name from the name of southern constellation Pavo, which is Latin for peacock, the members of the band Eliza Bagg (violin, synths, vocals), Oliver Hill (guitar, synths and vocals). Nolan Green (guitar, vocals), Austin Vaughn (drums) and Ian Romer (bass) can trace its origins to when the members of the quintet were studying at Yale University. And since their formation, individual members of the band  have collaborated with the likes of a number of renowned and accomplished bands including Here We Go Magic, John Zorn, Dave Longstreth, Porches, Olga Bell, Lucius, Roomful of Teeth and San Fermin among others. Now, as you may recall their “Ran Ran Run”/”Annie Hall” 7 inch was praised by a number of media outlets and blogs, including Stereogum, who praised their sound as being “weightless pop music that sounds like it was beamed down from a glimmering utopian future.” Although, I’d mention that while clearly nodding at 60s psych pop and 80s New Age, just underneath the glimmering surface, there’s a subtle hint at unease, anxiety, rot and dysfunction. 
The band’s full-length debut Young Narrator in the Breakers was released last year through Bella Union Records and according to the members of Pavo Pavo, the material thematically describes both the magic and panic of adult life, with the understanding that much like getting caught in a vicious breaker while swimming at the beach, you have to stop fighting and ride it out until you can get to shore safely. And unsurprisingly, the album was met with critical applause with Pitchfork describing the album as “a lovelorn alien reaching out from the farthest reaches of the galaxy” and The Guardian describing the album to “Brian Wilson running amok in the BBC radiophonic workshop.” 

“No Mind,” Young Narrator in the Breakers’ latest single is a deceptively straightforward track. Although it hews very close to hazy 60s psych pop, the song is a swooningly wistful and lovelorn song that seems much more bittersweet than their previous releases while retaining their incredibly crafted sound centered on Bagg’s and Hill’s gorgeous boy/girl harmonizing, soaring, vintage analog synths and sharp hooks. “No Mind” may arguably be the most human of their tracks, as there’s a real ache over 

Directed by the band’s longtime friend Jon Appel, the video started as a concept devised by the band’s Eliza Bagg. Bagg’s concept began as a take on the prototypical performance-based music video; but featuring an abstract narrative and dance choreography. Reportedly, she pictured a bleak, digital space with her own character being a sort of rebellious siren of truth, dancing and singing songs of real connection while the rest of her band grew increasingly complacent and robotic within the video’s highly artificial and colorful confines. Appel guided Bagg and her bandmates through the process of adapting and bringing her ideas to life — and as a result, the video builds off the characters of the other videos off Young Narrator, an amalgamation with Bagg returning to the sunshine on a white cloud chrysalis. And while being a hazy, almost lysergic-tinged dream, the video possesses a tender and surreal beauty.