Tag: M. Ward

New Video: Acclaimed Drummer and Songwriter Kyle Crane and The Shins’ James Mercer Team Up on a Shimmering and Nostalgic Single

Kyle Crane is an acclaimed drummer and prolific songwriter, who has been a part of the touring bands for the likes of Neko Case, M. Ward and others. Additionally, he was the drum double for the Oscar Award-winning film Whiplash.  Crane recently announced a solo album of his own, Crane Like The Bird, which is slated for a January 18, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly steeped in Crane’s autobiography: Crane’s father was a Coast Guard lieutenant and pilot, whose helicopter went down in a search-and-rescue mission in 1997. The album tells the story of the time leading up to his father’s death and the effects on them; in fact, the album cover photo is a picture of his mother at the crash site, throwing a rose out to sea, and the album art includes his father’s old pilot logs and maps. 

As a result, the album’s material touches on love, loss and memory but also ski lifts and Nintendo, perhaps as a reminder that along with love, a healthy dose of nostalgia is part of the universal experience. Interestingly, the album finds Crane collaborating with a who’s who of indie music including Conor Oberst, Daniel Lanois, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Luke Steele, Peter Bjorn and John‘s Peter Moren, Sabina Scuibba, Brad Mehldau and The Shins’ James Mercer — and each collaborator allows the material on the album to be sonically diverse, as the material nods at points to jazz, New Wave, country and others. The album’s latest single is the jangling, Smiths-like “Wishing Cap,” an achingly nostalgic track that wishes for simpler and easier times, perhaps with loved ones who aren’t with us now. 

Animated by Tim Lierman, the recently released video is a larger metaphor for being transported back in time. After putting the wishing cap on, the video’s hero is transported with the task of healing a world that has fallen apart. That world represents Crane’s broken heart, after his father’s death. As Crane explains, “When I would visit my Grandparents i would stay in my father’s old room that he grew up in. One time I was rummaging through the closet and I found an old shoe box with letters and an old green baseball cap in the closet. I thought ‘what if I put this hat on and it gives me special powers and I can climb through that old photo on the wall and be transported to the past’”

Advertisements

New Video: The Understated Beautiful Visuals and Sounds of Bay Uno’s “Black Beauty”

It’s been over a year since I’ve last written about him and his work but he’s been playing a number of shows across town — including a December 7, 2016 set at The Slipper Room, which benefits Barc, a no-kill shelter. In any case, his latest single “Black Beauty” is a thoughtful and gorgeously hushed single featuring strummed guitar, twinkling percussion, bursts of accordion and a cinematic sweep paired with Bay Uno’s earnest and thoughtful crooning in a song that evokes the swooning sensation of being swept up in profound love and of finding oneself through a connection with nature. And much like his previously released singles there’s a sense of childlike awe and wonder that’s infectious — and should remind the listener of their own forgotten inner child.

The recently released video was shot on a grainy Instagram-like filter and shows the singer/songwriter riding a beautiful black horse, with whom he seems to have a profound connection, and of being in nature. And much like the song it possesses a simple and understated beauty.

Tomorrow marks the release of Mavis Staples’ latest album Livin’ On A High Note and the album will reportedly reference and draw from her 60+ year musical career influencing and defining gospel, soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues rock and even hip-hop — and that shouldn’t be surprising.  But the most interesting and compelling aspect of Livin’ On A High Note is that Mavis recruited a number of diverse and critically applauded contemporary artists to write songs specifically for her including Neko Case, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, tUnE yArDstUnE yArDs, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart and M. Ward — with Ward also taking up production duties. As the legendary soul singer explained in press notes “I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”

Now you might recall that I wrote about album single “High Note.” The single focuses on something that’s much easier said than done for most of us — taking the higher road despite how hurt, betrayed and disgusted you might be over a particular person or a particular situation, and doing so with grace and dignity. At the same time, the song’s narrator points out that taking the higher road requires wisdom and experience — sometimes embittering and hurtful ones to know when and how to do so. Sonically, the song pairs a loose and bluesy guitar line with Mavis’ legendary vocals in a song that radiates a comforting and soulful warmth that says “hey, I’ve been there, too.”

Recently, two more singles from the album were released — the Nick Cave penned “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me” and the tUnE yArDs penned “Action.” “Jesus Lay Down Beside Me” pairs slow-burning and bluesy guitar chords with Mavis Staples’ unmistakable vocals in what may arguably be the most gospel-leaning song on the entire album as the song’s narrator offers Jesus comfort for his suffering — with the understanding that even for the most religious their faith can seem both distant and easily questioned. “Action” is a shuffling and upbeat call and response-based song in which its narrator says that desperate times often require desperate measures — and that when you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, that you’re getting up off your ass and doing something. And much like Charles Bradley‘s “Change For The World,” “Action” points out that civilization’s current plight is untenable and unsustainable until we’ve had enough and change it. It seems like we all need to listen to the old-timers, huh?

More than enough ink has been spilled throughout the lengthy and influential careers of The Staple Singers and Mavis Staples, and as a result it would make it unnecessary to delve deeply into her biography — or to repeat what countless others have written and said about her. What I will add is that over the past couple of years the legendary soul vocalist has been remarkably prolific — last year saw the release of the critically acclaimed Good Fortune EP, which was produced by renowned soul artist Son Little. And perhaps much more momentous, the posthumous release of Pops Staples‘ last recorded effort Don’t Lose This, an effort that required the assistance of Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy, who has been a frequent collaborator over the past few days, as well as a number of guest musicians to complete the album as her father intended.

February 19 marks the release of Mavis Staples’ latest album Livin’ On A High Note and the album will reportedly reference and draw from her 60+ year musical career influencing and defining soul, folk, pop, R&B, blues rock and even hip-hop. But the most interesting thing about the new album is that Mavis recruited a number of diverse and critically applauded contemporary artists to write songs on the album including Neko Case, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nick Cave, Ben Harper, tUnE yArDs, Aloe Blacc, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart and M. Ward — with Ward also taking up production duties. As the legendary soul singer explained in press notes “I’ve been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new. I told the writers I was looking for some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up; I’m so busy making people cry, not from sadness, but I’m always telling a part of history that brought us down and I’m trying to bring us back up. These songwriters gave me a challenge. They gave me that feeling of, ‘Hey, I can hang! I can still do this!’ There’s a variety, and it makes me feel refreshed and brand new. Just like Benjamin Booker wrote on the opening track, ‘I got friends and I got love around me, I got people, the people who love me.’ I’m living on a high note, I’m above the clouds. I’m just so grateful. I must be the happiest old girl in the world. Yes, indeed.”

 

 

The album’s latest single  “High Note” discusses something that is easier said than done for most us — and it’s certainly the case for me: taking the higher road despite how hurt, betrayed and disgusted you might be over a particular person or a particular situation, and doing so with grace and dignity. At the same time, the song’s narrator points out that taking the higher road requires wisdom and experience — sometimes embittering and hurtful ones to know when and how to do so. Sonically, the song pairs a loose and bluesy guitar line with Mavis’ legendary vocals in a song that radiates a comforting and soulful warmth that says “hey, I’ve been there, too.”