Tag: Mark Lanegan

New Video: Lunar Twin Releases a Brooding Late Night Visual for Trip Hop-like “Leaves”

Deriving their name from a scientific theory that suggests that Earth may have had a second moon, a twin moon that was destroyed in a massive collision during the earliest moments of our solar system, Lunar Twin, which is comprised of vocalist Bryce Boudreau and multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Murphy can trace their origins back to 2011’s Denver Underground Music Festival when Boudreau joined Murphy’s goth band Nightsweats as a guest vocalist. And by 2013, the duo started collaborating together full-time.

With the release of their debut, 2014’s self-titled EP and 2017’s Night Tides EP, the duo which is currently split between Hawaii and Salt Lake City have developed a unique take on chill wave/dark wave that draws from and possesses elements of synth pop, shoegaze, dream pop and others. A couple of years have passed since I’ve written about Lunar Twin — and as it turns out, the duo’s Chris Murphy has been busy sharing the stages with a growing list of acclaimed and renowned artists including Grimes, Bonnie Prince Billy and Peaches through other projects he’s worked in. But the duo have also been working on their long-awaited third EP Ghost Moon Ritual, which is slated for a February 16, 2020 release through  the band’s own imprint, Tropical Depression/Desert Heat. 

Ghost Moon Ritual reportedly finds the duo expanding upon the sound that caught the attention of this site and elsewhere with some of the material nodding at psych folk and desert noir-themed late night moon music. The EP’s latest single, the moody and atmospheric “Leaves” is centered around Boudreau’s sonorous, Mark Lanegan-like baritone, layers of buzzing and shimmering synths and thumping beats. And while simultaneously nodding at trip hop and dream pop, the song evokes — for me, at least — a a specific late night loneliness I’ve known — wandering a new town, a new country on your own, as a stranger, a man from far away. 

Directed by San Francisco-based Zoey Nyguen, the recently released video is set in a raw, late night, neon cityscape — her neighborhood of Russian Hill. ” I wanted to embody the song with visuals from my within my neighborhood and local surroundings and to include basically a collage of clips from different time periods and eras of the City,” Nyguen says in press notes. “I made the video as a simple Creative Commons project and then approached the group about a possible collaboration and then filmed them performing to add to the story I had built around their song into something more” 

“Collaboration with a new person is always a surprise creatively and I thought her vibrant and imaginative approach visualizing the song to be just right .. to curate this version of this songs story,” Bryce Boudreau says of the video. “Her choice of imagery really melds with the track. I’m very happy with the way the video develops and encapsulates everything we are trying to express musically” Chris Murphy adds in press notes. 

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New Video: Mark Lanegan Releases a Hallucinogenic Visual for “Night Flight to Kabul”

Over the past few years, I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, known as the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

As a solo artist, Lanegan has released 10 critically applauded albums that have seen a fair amount of commercial success. (Ironically, his solo work has seen much more commercial success than his work with Screaming Trees.) The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay’s tenth solo album Gargoyle was a collaboration between him, British-born and-based musician Rob Marshall and longtime collaborator, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. That album’s material was both an expansion and refinement of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his two preceding albums  2012’s Blues Funeral and 2014’s Phantom Radio.

Somebody’s Knocking, Lanegan’s 11th full-length solo album is slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Heavenly Recordings, and the album’s material finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter turning to some of his most formative musical influences and loves — electronic music. “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan says in press notes. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Somebody’s Knocking came together during an 11 day session in Los Angeles, much of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including the album’s two other writing partners Martin Jenkins, who records as Pye Corner Audio and the aforementioned Rob Marshall, who contribute some newer, murkier forms. Reportedly, Lanegan approached working with each of the album’s writing partners from the perspective and lens of a fan and interpreter. 

Lyrically speaking, the album purportedly sets the listener down multiple rabbit holes, as Lanegan paints psychedelic pictures inspired by the music. “I feel like I write lyrics instinctively. I let the melody come first and then it tells me what the words are going to be and I write whatever feels appropriate,” Lanegan says in press notes. “That said, I’m also influenced by everything I’m into. I don’t usually like to talk about what a song means to me; I prefer that the people who connect with a song do so with their own interpretation. It never crossed my mind what Neil Young meant by After The Gold Rush, only the personal movie it created in my head. My entire life, all the music that I’ve connected to has drawn me in like that. Joy Division, Nick Drake, Son House, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gun Club… all the music that meant the most to me, the music that saved my life was the music that told my own story back to me.”

Naturally, some aspects of the real world can’t help but seep their way into the album’s material. “It seems to me that the entire world is in a weird, precarious place right now,” the Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “I try to not be someone in a constant state of worry and alarm but watching the massive divide that is taking place and the political situations, especially in the US and UK makes me think, ‘what the fuck are these idiots thinking?’ The hatred, racism and all this other fear-driven shit, these ‘adults’ that continually drive the machine that perpetuates this ignorance to their own ends should all be in the prison cells instead of the non-violent drug “offenders” in them now. I can’t specifically say how any of this effects my writing but I know that most of the things that occupy my thoughts have a way of coming back out in a song.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the bluesy-Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen-like “Letter Never Sent.” The album’s latest single “Night Flight to Kabul” may arguably one of  be the album’s more dance floor friendly tracks, as it’s centered around thumping, four-on-the-floor drumming, rumbling bass lines, shimmering and skronky guitars, a tight motorik groove and Lanegan’s imitable croon. In some way, the song will likely remind listeners a bit of a bluesy take on the likes of Gary Numan and New Order. But lyrically, the song evokes a hallucinatory and surrealist fever dream, in which things aren’t quite what they seem. 

Directed by Dean Karr, the recently released video for “Night Flight to Kabul” is a hallucinogenic and feverish dream. ‘“The artistry and genius of Dean Karr is what made this video happen,” Mark Lanegan says in press notes. “5,000 still photographs taken in eight hours were painstakingly put together to give the appearance of a strange wraithlike figure moving weirdly through the desolate landscape of the Salton Sea. My third video with Dean in three different decades and I have to say this was the best. The most artistically challenging and satisfying.”

“We had been talking about doing this video for ‘Night Flight to Kabul’ for a month or two and my only concern was how could I pull this off with such a challenging budget for my friend?” The video’s director, Dean Karr adds in press notes. “Being a photographer before I was ever a director, I decided to use my Nikon D810 still camera for the entire music video and turn it into animation throughout the entire clip. What a simple solution! There’s lots of post work involved, which was done by editor and FX artist Joel Nathaniel Smith. There’s alot to be said for the simplicity of working WITHOUT a crew, it was just Mark, myself and a fan of Mark’s (Jason Hall) who drove 3 hours out of his way to meet us at the The Salton Sea, CA to help us shoot a beyond unique video! I think this is one of the freshest looking things out there today and love the ‘melty’ moments, which remind me of doing hallucinogenics back in the day!”

 

I’ve spilled my fair share of virtual ink, covering Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who known as the frontman, and founding member of  Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and an acclaimed solo artist, who has collaborated with an eclectic array of artists and bands — including  Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam’Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-BirdCreature with the Atom BrainMobyBomb the BassSoulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight SingersUNKLE and others.

Lanegan’s solo career has seen him release ten, critically applauded albums that have seen a fair amount of commercial success. (Ironically,. his solo work has actually seen more commercial success than any of his work with Screaming Trees.) The Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s tenth solo album Gargoyle found him collaborating with British-born and-based musician Rob Marshall, who’s best known for stints with  Exit Calm and Humanist and his longtime collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. Interestingly, the album’s material was both an expansion and refinement of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his two previously released albums 2012’s Blues Funeral and 2014’s Phantom Radio.

Now, as you may recall, Lanegan’s 11th full-length album Somebody’s Knocking is slated for an October 18, 2019 release though Heavenly Recordings, and the album reportedly less the tale of a brooding rock veteran and more that of someone consumed by a lifelong love affair with music and words. Interestingly, much of the album’s material finds Lanegan turning to some of his most formative musical influences and loves — electronic music.

“I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan says in press notes. “I think the reason those elements have become more obvious in my music is that my tastes have changed as I’ve grown older. The bulk of what I listen to now is electronic. Alain Johannes and I had actually written “Penthouse High” for Gargoyle but then it didn’t really fit on that record. I have been a huge fan of New Order and Depeche Mode forever and have wanted to do a song along those lines for a long time – a blatantly catchy, old-school dance-type song.”

Although Lanegan’s forthcoming 11th album came together during an eleven day session in Los Angeles, many of the album’s deepest musical influences are decidedly European, including some newer, murkier forms provided by Martin Jenkins. who records as Pye Corner Audio or Rob Marshall, a collaborator on Gargoyle and on his own, forthcoming debut album as Humanist. In each case, Lanegan approached working with each of the writers from the perspective of a fan.

Lyrically speaking, the album purportedly sets the listener down multiple rabbit holes, as Lanegan paints psychedelic pictures inspired by the music. “I feel like I write lyrics instinctively. I let the melody come first and then it tells me what the words are going to be and I write whatever feels appropriate,” Lanegan says in press notes. “That said, I’m also influenced by everything I’m into. I don’t usually like to talk about what a song means to me; I prefer that the people who connect with a song do so with their own interpretation. It never crossed my mind what Neil Young meant by After The Gold Rush, only the personal movie it created in my head. My entire life, all the music that I’ve connected to has drawn me in like that. Joy Division, Nick Drake, Son House, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Gun Club… all the music that meant the most to me, the music that saved my life was the music that told my own story back to me.”

Naturally, some aspects of the real world can’t help but seep their way into the album’s material. “It seems to me that the entire world is in a weird, precarious place right now,” the Ellensburg-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “I try to not be someone in a constant state of worry and alarm but watching the massive divide that is taking place and the political situations, especially in the US and UK makes me think, ‘what the fuck are these idiots thinking?’ The hatred, racism and all this other fear-driven shit, these “adults” that continually drive the machine that perpetuates this ignorance to their own ends should all be in the prison cells instead of the non-violent drug “offenders” in them now. I can’t specifically say how any of this effects my writing but I know that most of the things that occupy my thoughts have a way of coming back out in a song.”

Centered around a motorik groove, shimmering guitar lines and a tight hook, “Letter Never Sent,” the album’s latest single manages to bear an uncanny resemblance to Heaven Up Here-era Echo and the Bunnymen but imbued with a bluesy tinge.

 

Best known for being a member of the San Francisco-based indie rock acts Fine Points and Sleepy Sun, guitarist Evan Myall will be releasing his debut solo EP Basic Gardening on November 16, 2018 — and the EP’s latest single, the breezy and infectious “Frances” manages to draw a bit from Myall’s previous work while being a subtle yet mischievous departure from it, as the track is centered by big, buzzing power chord chords, a simple yet propulsive backbeat, Myall’s easygoing crooning and a buoyant hook featuring some harmonized ooohs and ahhs. In some way, the song manages to recall 70s AM rock, Mark Lanegan‘s solo work and 90s guitar pop simultaneously. And while sounding as though it’d be perfect in as part of the soundtrack of Wes Anderson movie, it’s a friendly, joyful tune and a much-needed respite in a vicious and cynical world on the verge of collapse.

As Myall says in press notes, “My friend, Bobby Renz, and I hunkered down at Different Fur Studios in the Mission district of San Francisco to make these recordings. Working on the jams with Bobby was really fun. This type of  studio merrymaking occurs when everyone is working hard and not taking themselves too seriously. Sprinkle in some coffee, tacos, and a couple talented musician cronies on slide guitar/ooohs n’ ahhhs – you’ve got yourself a tune!” 

 

 

New Video: Grunge Pioneer Mark Lanegan Teams Up with Duke Garwood on an Atmospheric and Eerie Single

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about Mark Lanegan, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who is best known as the frontman, and founding member of  Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and for collaborating with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind; as a member of the renowned grunge All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready; as a member of  Queens of the Stone Age featured on five of the band’s albums — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork; with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins; as well as former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, Lanegan has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others.

While developing a reputation for being a highly sought-after collaborator, Lanegan has also managed to maintain a solo career that has seen him release ten, critically applauded and somewhat commercially successful albums; in fact, ironically, his solo work has seen more commercial success than his work with Screaming Trees. Lanegan’s tenth solo album, 2017’s Gargoyle found the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist collaborating with British-based musician Rob Marshall, who’s best known for stints with  Exit Calm and Humanist and his longtime collaborator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Alain Johannes. Sonically speaking, the material was both a refinement and an expansion of the Krautrock-tinged blues of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio.

Duke Garwood is a British-based blues/indie rock multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who has written and released six albums as a solo artist — 2005’s Holy Week, 2006’s Emerald Palace, 2009’s The Sand That Falls, 2011’s Dreamboatsafari, 2015’s Heavy Love and 2017’s Garden of Ashes. He’s also collaborated with renowned The Orb,  Archie Bronson Outfit, Savages, Shezad Dawood and the aforementioned Mark Lanegan among others; in fact, Garwood has released an album with Lanegan — 2013’s Black Pudding and as has recorded and toured as a member of Lanegan’s backing band for the renowned grunge pioneer’s last three albums. Interestingly, Garwood and Lanegan continue their ongoing collaboration with their forthcoming, second album together With Animals, which is slated for an August 24, 2018 release through Heavenly Records, and the album, which was split between old-fashioned studio collaboration and Trans-Atlantic file sharing is a decided sonic departure for both artists, as it finds them crafting spectral and sinewy music, focusing on the spaces between notes while employing much different instrumentation — dusty, analog synthesizers and drum machines. The album’s first single, the sparse, mournful and aching “Save Me” is centered around Lanegan’s imitable vocals, fluttering, synths and metronomic drum machines, and in some way the track sounds like a discarded remnant of life just before the apocalypse; but underneath, the song feels made of some older stuff, as though it channels an ancient pagan ritual.

 
As Harwood says of his lengthy collaboration with the renowned grunge pioneer, “Over the years, we’ve recorded together and apart. This time, I started this record alone with many animals as company. It flowed, I set to work and out it came. Our music is instinct, there is not much talking about it, just creating. I think that if you are at peace with your work, and feeling it right, it flows, and can feel ‘easy’. Music isn’t meant to be hard. Though sometimes it can burn you to ashes. Making music for a singer, so they can inhabit it with a song means hitting the right soul buttons. There is no hit without a miss. It is a healing record, for us the makers, and for the listeners. It grows natural. We are gardeners of sonic feelings.  The recently released video features footage of 80s wrestlers but in heavily filtered negatives, which further emphasizes the song’s trippy vibes.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Tinariwen Return with a Mournful Meditation on Time, Friendship, and the Tuareg Way of Life in Visuals for Album Single “Nannuflay”

Over the past few years, I’ve written quite a bit about the internationally renowned Algerian Tuareg pioneers of the Desert Blues, Tinariwen, and as you may recall the act can trace their origins back to the late 1970s when the band’s founding member, guitarist Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, joined a small group of Tuareg rebels living in refugee camps in Libya and Algeria. The group of rebels Ag Alhabib hooked up with had been influenced by radical chaabi protest music of Moroccan groups like Nass El Ghiwane and Jil Jilala, Algerian pop rai, and western artists like Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Carlos Santana, Dire Straits, Jimi Hendrix, Boney M, and Bob Marley  — and they started writing music that meshed the traditional folk music of their people with Western rock, reggae and blues-leaning arrangements. Upon relocating to Tamanrasset, Algeria, Ag Alhabib started a band with Alhassane Ag Touhami and brothers Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Liya Ag Ablil that had played traditional Taureg music at various weddings, parties and other occasions across both Algeria and Libya. Interestingly, as the story goes, when the quartet had started, they didn’t have a name; but people across the region, who had seen them play had begun calling them Kel Tinariwen, which in the Tamashek language (the tongue of the Taureg people) translates roughly as “The People of the Deserts” or “The Desert Boys.”

In 1980, Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi issued a decree inviting all young Tuareg men, who were living illegally in Libya to receive full military training, as part of his dream of forming a Saharan regiment, comprised of the best young Tuareg fighters to further his territorial ambitions in Chad, Niger, and elsewhere across Northern Africa. Al Alhabib and his bandmates answered the call and received military training. Whether or not the founding members of the band truly believed in Gaddafi’s military ambitions would be difficult to say — but on a practical level, a steady paycheck to support yourself and your family certainly is an enticement. Five years later, Ag Alhabib, Ag Touhami and the Ag Ablil brothers answered a similar call by leaders of the Libyan Tuareg movement, who desired an autonomous homeland for their people, and wound up meeting fellow musicians Keddou Ag Ossade, Mohammed Ag Itlale (a.k.a “Japonais”), Sweiloum Ag Alhousseyni, Abouhadid Ag Alhousseyni, and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni — all who had sang and played guitar. At this point, the lineup of Tinariwen was completed and the members of the collective began writing songs about the issues and concerns of their people.

The members of the band built a makeshift studio and then vowed to record and distribute music for free for anyone who supplied them a blank cassette tape. And within a short period of time, their cassettes were a highly sought-after item, and were traded throughout Saharan Africa.

In 1989 the collective had left Libya and relocated to Ag Alhabib’s birthplace of Tessalit, Mali; but by the next year, Mail’s Tuareg population revolted against the Malian government — with some members of the collective participating as rebel fighters in that conflict. After the Tamanrasset Accords were reached and agreed upon in early 1991, the members of Tinariwen, who had fought in the conflict had left the military and devoted themselves to their music full-time. By 1992, some of the members of the band went to Abidjan, Ivory Coast to record a cassette at JBZ Studios, which they followed up with extensive gigs for their fellow Tuaregs across Saharan Africa, which helped furthered the reputation they had developed primarily by word-of-mouth.

A collaboration with renowned French, world music ensemble Lo’Jo helped the members of Tinariwen receive a growing international profile, which included their a live set at  Africa Oye, one of the UK’s largest African music/African Diaspora festival. Building on the increasing buzz, the band released their full-length debut The Radio Tisdas Sessions, which was their first recorded effort to be released outside of Saharan Africa. Since their formation, the collective has gone through a series of lineup changes, incorporating a younger generation of Tuareg musicians, who haven’t fought during the military conflicts of the elders, including bassist Eyadou Ag Leche, percussionist Said Ag Ayad, guitarist Elaga Ag Hamid, guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida, and vocalists Wonou Walet Sidati and the Walet Oumar sisters.

Despite their lineup changes, Tinariwen has received international acclaim, particularly over the past decade, as they’ve regularly toured across the European Union, North America, Japan and Australia, frequently playing sets at some of the world’s biggest music festivals — including Glastonbury, Coachella, Roskilde, Les Vieilles Charrues, WOMAD, FMM Sines,  Printemps de Bourges and others, as well as some of the world’s best known music venues, as they continued with a sound that evokes the harsh and surreal beauty of their homeland, centered around the poetry and wisdom of a rough and tumble, proud and rebellious people, whose old-fashioned way of life is rapidly disappearing as a result of technology and encroaching Westernization. Along with that, a bloody and contentious series of religious and ethnic wars have splintered several nations across the region — including most recently Mali and Libya, where members of Tinariwen have proudly called home at various points of the band’s existence.  Unsurprisingly, Tinariwen’s latest album Elwan (which translates into English as The Elephants) thematically focuses on the impact of Westernization and technology has had on their people, the band’s life of forced exile, and their longing for their ancestral homeland.

Elwan’s latest single “Nannuflay” is an atmospheric and shuffling blues centered around a hypnotic groove and a gorgeous, looping guitar line that features the renowned pioneers of the Desert Blues collaborating with guitar god Kurt Vile and the imitable, grunge rock pioneer Mark Lanegan, that manages to be a powerful connection between Saharan Africa and the West, and a mournful longing for a past that the song’s narrator knows he cannot have back; but along with that, there’s a tacit acknowledgement that time is passing by — sometimes faster than anyone wants to admit.

Directed by Axel Digoix, the animated video for “Nannuflay” follows an older Tuareg man, who returns to the camp where he grew up for a party. The man remembers both the joys and torments of the nomadic life, he once lived with a friend, who has since died, including childhood memories of life in the sand dunes, the adventures they had as teenagers, the fights, dramas and responsibilities of their adult lives. Throughout the video, the two men’s friendship details the lives of the Tauregs and the duty and obligation they feel towards each other and to passing along as much of the old traditions as humanly possible.

New Video: Mark Lanegan Band Releases Surreal Yet Cinematic Visuals for “Emperor”

Mark Lanegan is a Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as one of the founding members and frontman of renowned Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees, and as a solo artist who has collaborated with an incredibly diverse array of artists and bands throughout his lengthy career including Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain on an unreleased Lead Belly cover/tribute album recorded before the release of Nevermind. Along with that Lanegan is also known for being a member of the grunge rock, All-Star supergroup/side project Mad Season with Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and Pearl Jam‘s Mike McCready and for joining Queens of the Stone Age after the breakup of Screaming Trees, contributing on five of the band’s albums  — 2000’s Rated R, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, 2007’s Era Vulgaris and 2013’s . . . Like Clockwork. Lanegan has also collaborated with The Afghan Whigs‘ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins and has collaborated with former Belle and Sebastian vocalist Isobel Campbell on three albums. Additionally, he has contributed or guested on albums by Melisa Auf der Maur, Martina Topley-Bird, Creature with the Atom Brain, Moby, Bomb the Bass, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli’s The Twilight Singers, UNKLE and others. As a solo artist, Lanegan has released 10 studio albums that have been critically applauded and have seen a fair amount of commercial success. 

Lanegan’s 10th and most recent album Gargoyle was released this past summer through Heavenly Recordings. And interestingly enough, the Ellensburg, WA, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter can take the origins of the album’s overall sound and aesthetic back to early last year. As the story goes, the grunge rock legend was working on ideas for what could be a new, solo album, when he received an email from his friend and collaborator, British-based musician Rob Marshall, who he met several years before when Marshall’s former band Exit Calm had supported Soulsavers, a band that Lanegan had been fronting. Marshall’s email thanked Lanegan for his participation on a Humanist album — and in the email, Marshall offered to write music for Lanegan, if he needed it to return the favor. As Lanegan recalled in press notes, his response was along the lines of “Hey man, I’m getting ready to make a record, if you’ve got anything? Three days later he sent me 10 things… !” 

Interestingly, the music Marshall had written had managed to fit perfectly with the direction Lanegan had been thinking of for some time — an expansion of the Krautrock-inspired electronic sounds and textures of his previous two albums Blues Funeral and Phantom Radio. Eventually Marshall wound up co-writing six of the album’s 10 songs with the remainder of the album being written and produced by Lanegan’s longtime collaborator Alain Johannes at 11AD Studios in West Hollywood. Gargoyle‘s second single “Beehive” pairs Lanegan’s imitable boozy, growling baritone vocals with a bluesy and swaggering production featuring shimmering guitar chords and enormous tweeter and woofer rattling beats, essentially pushing Lanegan’s recent forays into the blues into the 21st Century; but in a way that feels both warmly familiar and yet new.

Gargoyle’s latest single “Emperor” finds Lanegan and his backing band pairing Lanegan’s imitable, boozy and growling baritone with the sort of old-timey, bar room blues that brings to mind Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” complete with jangling and shimmering guitars and a propulsive backbeat; but much like its predecessor, the song possesses a weary and existential weariness just underneath the surface. 

The recently released video continues a string of cinematic yet surreal visuals — in this case, the viewer is thrown into a vaguely Russian styled dictatorship, full of state sanction violence upon innocent people while also nodding at Julius Caesar. While being fictional, the video manages to evoke our dangerously strange and uncertain times. 

Over the past handful of years, I’ve written a handful of posts featuring the Cincinnati, OH-based, JOVM mainstay act The Afghan Whigs. Currently comprised of founding members Greg Dulli (guitar, vocals) and John Curley (bass) along  Jon Skibic (guitar), multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson and Cully Symington (drums), the band can trace their origins to when its founding trio of Dulli, Curley and Steve Earle founded the band in 1986, after the breakup of Dulli’s previous band, The Black Republicans. Interestingly, the band has the distinction of being one of the first bands that Sub Pop Records signed outside of the Pacific Northwest, as well as being one of the more highly-regarded and critically applauded bands of the early 90s, with 1993’s Gentlemen landing at number 17 on The Village Voice‘s Pazz and Jop critics list and 1996’s Black Love, landing at number 79 on the Billboard Top 200 — all while going through several lineup changes. 

After the band’s initial breakup in 2001, the members of the band went on with other creative pursuits — with Dulli famously collaborating with Mark Lanegan in The Gutter Twins, his other post-Afghan Whigs project, The Twilight Singers and with a lengthy list of contemporary artists; however, the members of the band would occasionally reunite for a series of one-off shows and festivals sets that eventually lead to 2014’s Do To The Beast, which marked the band’s first proper release in over 16 years, and the band’s return to their original label home, Sub Pop Records. And while being one of my favorite albums that year — and one of the more forceful rock album of 2014 — the album’s material centered around Dulli’s long-held obsessions.

Released earlier this year, In Spades is the Cincinnati-based indie rock band’s second post-reunion album, and the album, which was produced by the band’s Greg Dulli reportedly finds the band emphasizing a decidedly populist, arena rock-leaning sensibility while retaining the urgent, dark and seductive sound they’ve long been known for; but with an underlying spectral vibe. ““It’s a spooky record,” Dulli remarks in press notes. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me, it’s about memory — in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the album’s first single “Demon In Profile,” a single that evokes the lingering ghosts of one’s life — but in particular, the electric touch of a lover’s skin against your own; that lover’s smell and taste, and the sense of irrevocable loss that permeates everything, once they’re no longer in your life. But interestingly enough, it may be the rare Afghan Whigs song that directly reveals a classic soul influence, as they paired their enormous sound with an explosive yet strutting horn line. The album’s second single “Oriole” featured Greg Dulli singing occult and death riddled lyrics paired with a lush and cinematic arrangement of acoustic guitar, xylophone and a soaring string section paired with a power chord-based anthemic, electric guitar-based hook — with the result being a song that meshes 60s bubble gum pop and 90s alt rock.

The Cincinnati, OH-based band’s latest single “You Want Love” was originally released by the New Orleans-based Pleasure Club on their second and final album together, and the Afghan Whigs’ rendition of the song features the song’s original vocal and songwriter James Hall — and interestingly enough, the song has become both a staple of their live set during their ongoing tour, and a tribute to the band’s Dave Rosser, who recently died after a battling colon cancer. As the band’s Greg Dulli has recently mentioned publicly, he and Rosser had been fans of the long defunct New Orleans-based band, and they had talked about covering the song for years; but they just never found the opportunity to put it on wax — until recently.  Of course, once you hear the original, you’ll know why Dulli and Rosser dug the song so much; it sounds and feels much like it should have been a Whigs song.
Next week will begin another extended leg of touring, which will have the band in Europe throughout August, including a stop at the gorgeous Paradiso in Amsterdam and a handful of festival sets, followed by some extensive North American touring, which will have the band playing Brooklyn Steel on September 16, 2017. Check out tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Aug. 04 – Vienna, AT – WUK
Aug. 05 – Prague, CZ – Lucerna Music Bar
Aug. 06 – Zurich, CH – Mascotte
Aug. 08 – Munich, DE – Backstage Halle
Aug. 09 – Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso
Aug 11 – Gothenburg, SE – Way Out West Festival
Aug 12 – Rees, DE – Haldern Pop Festival
Aug 13 – Helsinki, FL – Flow Festival
Aug 15 – Nottingham, UK – Rescue Rooms
Aug 16 – Leeds, UK – Church
Aug 17 – Brighton, UK – Concorde 2
Aug 19 – Kiewit, BE – Pukkelpop
Sep 06 – Orlando, FL – The Social
Sep 07 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
Sep 08 – Raleigh, NC – Hopscotch Music Festival
Sep 09 – Washington DC – 9:30 Club
Sep 11 – Richmond, VA – The National
Sep 12 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Sep 14 – Boston, MA – Paradise
Sep 16 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel
Sep-18 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount
Sep 19 – Toronto, ON – Opera House
Sep 21 – Minneapolis, MN – First Ave
Sep 22 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Sep 23 – Chicago, IL – Metro
Sep 24 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall
Sep 26 – Detroit, MI – St Andrews
Sep 28 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts
Sep 29 – Nashville, TN – Exit IN
Sep 30 – Birmingham, AL – Saturn
Oct 12 – San Diego, CA – Belly Up
Oct 13 – Los Angeles, CA – Fonda Theatre
Oct 14 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Oct 16 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
Oct 17 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
Oct 18 – Seattle, WA – Showbox
Oct 19 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Oct 21 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
Oct 22 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar
Oct 24 – Austin, TX – Mohawk
Oct 25 – Dallas, TX – Trees
Oct 26 – Houston, TX – Heights Theater
Oct 27-29 – New Orleans, LA – Voodoo Festival