Tag: K Records

New Audio: Calvin Johnson Returns with a Meditative Bit of Bubblegum Pop

 Over the past couple of months, I’ve written quite a bit about Calvin Johnson, an  Olympia, WA-born and-based guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer and DJ best known as a founding member of Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team and The Halo Benders, all of which prominently feature his sonorous baritone. He’s also the founder and owner of renowned indie label K Records — and he was one of the major organizers of the International Pop Underground Convention.

Now, as you may recall, Johnson’s forthcoming A Wonderful Beast is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through his own K Records, and the album, which was recorded at  Audio Eagle Studios in Nashville, TN finds Johnson collaborating with the The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who cowrote and produced the album and Michelle Branch, who contributes backing vocals on three songs.  Johnson can trace the origins of his collaboration with Carney back to 2005, when the Olympia, WA-based singer/songwriter guitarist, producer and DJ was on a Stateside tour to support his sophomore solo album Before the Dream Faded — and Carney and Johnson met during that tour. As the story goes, the two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they should collaborate; but based on their schedules they were only able to work with each other recently. Branch, a solo artist of note is best known for being a member of The Wreckers, and as it turns out that she lives next door to Audio Eagle Studios. Intrigued by the sounds she heard from the shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what was going on, and she wound up on the album.

“Kiss Me Sweetly,” A Wonderful Beast’s first single was centered around a 60s bubblegum pop-like arrangement featuring a propulsive rhythm section consisting of a thumping, almost boom-bap-like backbeat, a funky bass line and blasts of swirling, kaleidoscopic guitar playing — but by far, the star of the song is the harmonizing between Johnson’s rich, sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal soprano, which further emphasizes the song’s swooning nature.  The album’s second single was the Tom Vek meets bubblegum pop-like “Like You Do,” a track that features jagged blasts of guitar, soaring synths and a dance floor friendly hook — but unlike its predecessor, the album’s latest single possesses a mischievous irony at its core, as it features a self-obsessed, self-absorbed narrator, who only sees his own greatness. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “(I’ve Still Got) Sand In My Shoes”  continues in a similar vein as its predecessors, as its a bubblegum pop-inspired yet meditative arrangement, featuring an angular and propulsive rhythm section and blasts of swirling guitar and synth lines, centered by Johnson’s sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal vocals harmonizing to give the song a breezily coquettish yet wistful air. It’s the sound of another summer ending, of cooler weather coming and the impending end of yet another year. 

New Video: Calvin Johnson Releases Playful Visuals for Dance Floor Friendly “Love Me Like You Do”

Last month, I wrote about Calvin Johnson, an  Olympia, WA-born and-based guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer and DJ best known as a founding member of Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team and The Halo Benders, all of which prominently feature his rich baritone vocals He’s also the founder and owner of renowned indie label K Records — and he was one of the major organizers of the International Pop Underground Convention.  

Now, as you may recall, Johnson’s forthcoming A Wonderful Beast is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through his own K Records, and the album, which was recorded at  Audio Eagle Studios in Nashville, TN finds Johnson collaborating with the The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who cowrote and produced the album and Michelle Branch, who contributes backing vocals on three songs. Interestingly, Johnson can trace the origins of his collaboration with Carney back to 2005, when the Olympia, WA-based singer/songwriter guitarist, producer and DJ was on a Stateside tour to support his sophomore solo album Before the Dream Faded — and Carney and Johnson met during that tour. As the story goes, the two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they should collaborate. Branch, a solo artist of note is best known for being a member of The Wreckers, and as it turns out that she lives next door to Audio Eagle Studios. Intrigued by the sounds she heard from the shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what was going on, and she wound up on the album.

The album’s first single “Kiss Me Sweetly,” was centered around a 60s bubblegum pop-like arrangement featuring a propulsive rhythm section consisting of a thumping, almost boom-bap-like backbeat, a funky bass line and blasts of swirling, kaleidoscopic guitar playing — but by far, the star of the song is the harmonizing between Johnson’s rich, sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal soprano, which further emphasizes the song’s swooning nature. A Wonderful Beast’s latest single is the Tom Vek meets bubblegum pop-like “Love Me Like You Do,” a track that features jagged blasts of guitar, soaring synths and a dance floor friendly hook — but unlike its predecessor, the album’s latest single possesses a mischievous irony at its core, as it features a somewhat self-obsessed, self-absorbed narrator, who only sees his own greatness. 

The recently released video features Johnson in someone’s backyard, singing along to the song and doing some extremely white guy dancing to the song — with a brief blasts of psychedelic imagery. It’s goofy as hell but downright enjoyable. 

 

 

Calvin Johnson is an Olympia, WA-born and-based guitarist, singer/songwriter, producer and DJ best known as a founding member of Cool Rays, Beat Happening, The Go Team and The Halo Benders, all of which featured his rich baritone vocals. He’s also the founder and owner of renowned indie label K Records — and he was one of the major organizers of the International Pop Underground Convention.

Johnson’s forthcoming album A Wonderful Beast is slated for an October 12, 2018 release through his own K Records, and the album, which was recorded at Audio Eagle Studios in Nashville, TN finds Johnson collaborating with the The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who cowrote and produced the album and Michelle Branch, who contributes backing vocals on three songs. Johnson can trace the origins of his collaboration with Carney back to 2005 when the Olympia, WA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, producer and DJ was on a stateside tour to support his sophomore solo album Before the Dream Faded. The two kept in touch over the years, with Carney suggesting that they collaborate. Branch is best known for being a member of The Wreckers and for a solo career, and as the story goes, she lives next door to Audio Eagle Studios. Intrigued by the sounds she heard from the shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what was going on, and she wound up on the album.

A Wonderful Beast‘s first single is the swooning and urgent “Kiss Me Sweetly,” a single centered around a 60s bubblegum pop-like arrangement featuring a propulsive rhythm section consisting of a thumping, almost boom-bap-like backbeat, a funky bass line and blasts of swirling, kaleidoscopic guitar playing — but by far, the star of the song is the harmonizing between Johnson’s rich, sonorous baritone and Branch’s ethereal soprano, which further emphasizes the song’s swooning nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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]