Tag: Nick Cave

New Video: The Tender and Gorgeous Visuals for Xylouris White’s “Daphne”

Over the past 12-18 months 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 Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill 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.

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 intuitively 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.

The duo’s third, full-length effort together, Mother was released earlier this year, 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 recently released video features White’s and Xylouris’ mothers dancing to the song in their homelands of Australia and Crete, Greece respectively. As White explained both in press and to Brooklyn Vegan, “For this clip they are dancing separately but both connecting with their sons’ music through dance. They are also relating to the ground they are dancing on, one in Australia and one in Crete.” The visuals convey and emphasize a remarkable tenderness — and well, it should make you think of your own mother. 

New Video: The Mischievous and Illustrated Visuals for JOVM Mainstays’ Xylouris White’s “Only Love”

Over the past couple of years, 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 as a member of the internationally acclaimed instrumental rock act Dirty Three and for collaborating with a number of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill 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.
Now, as you may recall the duo can actually trace their origins to when the renowned Cretan and his ensemble was touring Melbourne in the early 1990s. And as the story goes, White was a member of locally-based avant-garde rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he had met and befriended Xylouris, who would later collaborate with White’s then future band, Dirty Three whenever Xylouris and his Ensemble were touring Australia. Unsurprisingly the collaboration between the members of the Xylouris Ensemble and Dirty Three became a rather fruitful collaboration based on a healthy, mutual admiration, as well as the influence of Xylouris’ father Psaratonis and Xylouris’ work and sound had on Dirty Three’s own 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 and friendship constantly influences how 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 mountains; 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 release through Bella Union Records next week, and as Giorgos Xylouris explains in press notes, the album was named to denote “new life.” “Mother is the extension of Goats and Black Peak,” Xylouris adds. “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 their 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.”

Mother’s first single “Only Love” is a rollicking and furiously passionate song featuring a roomy yet simultaneously dense arrangement consisting White’s propulsive rock ‘n’ roll-like drumming paired with Xylouris’ dexterous, power chord, heavy metal-like lout playing, accompanied by Xylouris’ sonorous and plaintive baritone. And in some way, the song evokes a swooning urgency of the pangs of first love, while revealing the duo’s mischievous and improvisational-like compositional approach. 

Directed by  Lucy Dyson, the recently released video for “Only Love” is a animated video featuring cartoon collages of Xylouris and White running to meet each other, riding enormous goats and chasing after anthropomorphic version of their instruments, that also ride goats. At various points, they’re all chased by skulls. It’s colorful, wild and downright mischievous. 

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.

The Los Angeles, CA-based desert punk act, ExSage is essentially the solo, recording project of its creative mastermind, primary songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frontwoman Kate Clover, who throughout the project’s run has chosen local musicians as part of her touring band, although with the project’s recently released sophomore EP, Total Devotion, Clover has specifically chosen an all female backing band. As it turns out, Clover had initially overlooked being the only woman member of the project, and she believes that it’s a highly symbolic (and necessary) change, that she hopes will inspire women to pursue what they believe in — especially grabbing instruments and kicking ass.

Interestingly, the project’s sophomore EP was inspired by a midnight drive through the Los Angeles area and she was driving, she heard Suicide’s “Ghost Rider” on a left-of-the-dial radio station. Returning home, Clover feverishly wrote new material — with a deeply personal mission: to be true to herself, no matter the cost. Additionally, the material on the EP is reportedly inspired by the work of PJ HarveyLet Love In-era Nick Cave and Black Sabbath while lyrically, the material draws from French Surrealistic poetry — namely the work of Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. And although  “Under Your Spell,” the EP’s first single is inspired by Suicide, sonically the song to my ears, reminds me much of Only in Dreams and Too True-era Dum Dum Girls, PJ Harvey and Josh Homme’s renowned Desert Sessions compilation, thanks to a blazing psych rock meets stoner rock-like power chord-based turn towards the song’s last one-third, but the song is under-pinned by a urgent and insatiable desire.

 

New Video: Introducing the Swaggering Badassery of Worcester UK’s HVMM

Comprised of Any Teece (vocals, guitar), Ebony Clay (lead guitar), Jack Timmis (bass) and Samuel Jenkins (drums), the Worcester, UK-based indie rock quartet HVMM have developed a reputation across the UK’s West Midlands for an overall aesthetic that draws from several disparate sources simultaneously — on stage and in press photos, members of the band dress in an anachronistic, Victorian era-like clothing while playing brawny yet off-time, power chord-based riffs reminiscent of Led Zeppelin 1 and Led Zeppelin IV paired with angular bass chords and darkly seductive and menacing lyrics and anthemic hooks reminiscent of The Doors’ “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar),” Nick Cave, and The Amazing Snakeheads as you’ll hear on the band’s latest single “Lacerate.” And as a result, the song possess a decadently sleazy, swaggering strut perfect for late night misadventures, shenanigans and shit-starting. 

The recently released video for the song further emphasizes the song’s brooding nature while nodding at the work of O. Henry, Edgar Allan Poe and others, but with a hyper modern flare. 

New Video: The Symbolic (and Messy) Visuals for INVSN’s “This Constant War”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Umea, Sweden-based post-punk quintet INVSN, an act comprised of some of Sweden’s most accomplished musicians — including Dennis Lyxzen (vocals), a founding member and frontman of Refused, and a former member of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Lost Patrol Band, AC4, and who has collaborated with The Bloody Beetroots and others; Sara Almgrem (bass, vocals), a member of The Doughnuts, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Vicious and Masshysteri; Andres Sternberg (guitar, keyboards), a member of Deportees, The Lost Patrol Band and a member of Lykke Li’s backing band; Andre Sandström (drums, percussion), a member of Ds-13, The Vicious, The Lost Patrol Band, Ux Vileheads and others; and Christina Karlsson (keyboards, vocals), a member of Tiger Forest Cat, Honungsvägen and Frida Serlander‘s backing band. And interestingly enough, the members of the band are five, long-term friends, with Lyxzen in particular being known for a lengthy career incorporating sociopolitical themes into his work; in fact, as Lyxzen has publicly explained, “Music always meant more to me then just entertainment. It has had a profound impact on everything that I am as a person and I see music as art and art as life. We live in a world devoid of meaning where we serve the lowest common denominator at all times. Where politics as an idea has failed us and where art is being reduced to consumerism and clickbait.”

The band’s initial recordings were written and recorded with lyrics in their native Swedish under the name Invasionen, but when the members of the band decided that it was time to take the project and their work internationally, they felt that writing and singing lyrics in English, along with a new name would be necessary — and they settled on INVSN.   Regardless of the name or the language, the post-punk band has always had a political message — and during this particular moment, when humanistic, Enlightenment values and thinking are being challenged by extreme right wing and extreme religious movements across the world, the members of INVSN strongly believe that their music, and the work of other like-minded musicians are part of a necessary and urgent outcry from a counterculture that has yet to give up. And while being righteously angry, their overall approach is rooted in the belief that change is gonna come — and it’s going to come real soon. 

The Swedish band’s latest effort The Beautiful Stories is slated for release on Friday, and the album was recorded and produced by by Adam “Atom” Greenspan, best known for his work with Nick Cave and The Veils at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Reportedly, the album finds the band experimenting and expanding their aesthetic and songwriting approach with material that possesses elements of post-punk, industrial electronica, indie rock and indie pop, which gives their sociopolitical concerns an accessible, almost radio-friendly vibe. 

Now, as you may recall “I Dreamt Music” was a decidedly post-punk leaning song, sounding as though it drew influence from Joy Division and Gang of Four, thanks to the song’s decided politically charged tone. And as Lyxzen explained in press notes,  “I wanted to write about the longing for resistance to the cultural/political/musical landscape that holds us imprisoned. I wanted to write about the naive, romantic and pretentious notion that music and art should be about ideas that can change and transform and maybe even be the beacon of hope in these dismal times.” And as a result, the song manages to possesses a sense of cynicism and distrust and an equal bit of outrage.”

Interestingly enough, Beautiful Stories’ latest single “This Constant War” finds the band pairing jangling, Country-leaning guitar chords, layers of buzzing electronics and a propulsive rhythm section with boy/girl harmonies and a soaring, swooning hook in a song that sounds a bit like Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby-era U2 but filtered through Primal Scream, New Order and Ministry, while nodding at The Lonely Wild, as the material possesses a cinematic yet yearning quality at its core. 

The recently released video for “This Constant War” features the members of the band passionately singing the song or broodingly staring off into space as the hands of an unseen person smears colored paint onto the faces and bodies of the bandmembers. 

New Audio: The Politically Charged, Post-Punk Sounds of Sweden’s INVSN

Comprised of Dennis Lyxzen (vocals), a founding member and frontman of Refused, and a former member of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Lost Patrol Band, AC4, and who has collaborated with The Bloody Beetroots and others; Sara Almgrem (bass, vocals), a member of The Doughnuts, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, The Vicious and Masshysteri; Andres Sternberg (guitar, keyboards), a member of Deportees, The Lost Patrol Band and a member of Lykke Li’s backing band; Andre Sandström (drums, percussion), a member of Ds-13, The Vicious, The Lost Patrol Band, Ux Vileheads and others; and Christina Karlsson (keyboards, vocals), a member of Tiger Forest Cat, Honungsvägen and Frida Serlander’s backing band, the members of Umea, Sweden-based post-punk act INVSN are five long-term friends who are among some of the country’s most accomplished musicians — with Lyxzen in particular being known for a lengthy career incorporating sociopolitical themes into his work. In fact, as Lyxzen explains in press notes, “Music always meant more to me then just entertainment. It has had a profound impact on everything that I am as a person and I see music as art and art as life. We live in a world devoid of meaning where we serve the lowest common denominator at all times. Where politics as an idea has failed us and where art is being reduced to consumerism and clickbait.”

Initially, the band recorded several albums in their native Swedish under the name Invasionen; but when the members of the band decided to take their project internationally, they felt that writing and singing lyrics in English, along with a new name — INVSN — would be necessary. But regardless of the name or the language, the post-punk band has always had a political message and interestingly enough when human decency and humanistic values are being challenged by extreme right-wing movements across the world, the members of the band believe that their music is part of a necessary outcry from a counterculture that has yet to give up. And while being angry, their overall approach is rooted in the belief that change is gonna come — and that it’s not far away.

The Beautiful Stories, the band’s forthcoming full-length effort was recorded by Adam “Atom” Greenspan, best known for his work with Nick Cave and The Veils at Svenska Grammofonstudion in Gothenburg, Sweden and the album reportedly finds the band expanding upon their sound, meshing post-punk with industrial electronics and a indie rock/pop sensibility — or in other words, the band manages to pair political messages within an accessible fashion.

“I Dreamt Music,” The Beautiful Stories’ latest single is a decidedly post-punk song, sounding as though it drew from Joy Division and early 80s post-punk while having a decidedly political bent. As Lyxzen says of the song ” I wanted to write about the longing for resistance to the cultural/political/musical landscape that holds us imprisoned. I wanted to write about the naive, romantic and pretentious notion that music and art should be about ideas that can change and transform and maybe even be the beacon of hope in these dismal times.” And as a result, the song manages to possesses a sense of cynicism and distrust and an equal bit of outrage.

The Beautiful Stories is slated for a June 9, 2017 release through Dine Alone Records.

Live Concert Review: Xylouris White with Marissa Anderson at National Sawdust

November 11, 2016

 

Those who know me the best know that I lead an insanely full life. I commute back and forth between my apartment in Queens and my full-time day job as an Acquisitions Editor at a downtown Manhattan-based book publisher, run this site on the side as a mostly full-time effort, participate in a radio segment that airs Fridays on Norway’s P4 Radio and on occasion I even have time for a social life. And if I had a 40-hour day, I’d probably squeeze in even more that I’d need to do or would like to do! As you can imagine, with all of those various and competing obligations it can be difficult to spend some time to actually sit down and write in a way that I’d like; but as a wise man once rhymed “the hustle don’t sleep.”

Last month, I was at one of Williamsburg’s newest and most intimate venues, National Sawdust to catch the highly-acclaimed duo Xylouris White along with the incredibly talented Northern California-born, Portland, OR-based guitarist Marisa Anderson. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past month or two, you may recall that Xylouris White is comprised of 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 an incredible list of equally renowned artists including PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Bill Callahan a.k.a. Smog and others; and beloved Crete-born vocalist and laouto player Giorgos Xylouris, best known as the frontman of Xylouris Ensemble and the son of legendary vocalist and lyra player Psarantonis Xylouris. The duo’s collaboration together can trace its origins back to the early 90s when the renowned Cretan vocalist and laouto player was touring through Australia in the early 90s. At the time, White was a member of Melbourne, Australia-based avant garde rock band Venom P. Stinger, when he met and befriended the younger Xylouris. When White along with bandmates Warren Ellis (violin and bass) and Mick Turner (guitar and bass) formed The Dirty Three, Giorgios Xylouris would collaborate with the band whenever he and his Ensemble were in town. Interestingly enough, the members of The Dirty Three have publicly cited Psarantonis and Giorgios Xylouris as being major influences on their sound and approach.

Although White and Xylouris have known each other for more than 20 years, it wasn’t until 2013 when they decided that should collaborate together, and it was accelerated when White played with both Psarandonis and Giorgios Xylouris at an All Tomrorow’s Parties Festival, curated by Nick Cave. Unsurprisingly, the duo’s long-held mutual admiration has deeply influenced how they write and perform music – and in some way, it sounds as though the duo is dancing, as at any given point they could be accompanying or leading each other and at any given moment and their live sound reflects that same mischievous fluidity while drawing simultaneously from both contemporary and ancient folk; in fact, during their National Sawdust, Giorgios Xylouris sang the lyrics of a song based around a 14th century love poem in his native Greek and the although the majority of the audience didn’t understand the words, we could understand the ache and longing within the song, punctuated by White’s jazz-like drumming. Several other ballads throughout their set evoked the imagery of herders and farmers singing around campfires with friends and family, before passing on the instrument to the next person.

While watching the duo playing “Black Peak” off their recently released Black Peak album, the stomping and rollicking song took on an improvisational and jazz-like feel as you can see both musicians practically having a non-verbal conversation with each other – in which at any given point White or Xylouris will say to the other “now, it’s your turn.” “Hey Musicians,” took on a wildly, mischievous, almost danceable feel; in fact, off to the corner of the room, I saw a few people dancing and stomping about with a joyous ecstasy while the rest of the crowd was enraptured by the old pros, doing their thing with an effortlessly cool, self-assuredness while walking a tightrope between an elegantly simple beauty and a muscular forcefulness.

Northern California-born, songwriter and composer Marissa Anderson is a classically trained guitarist, who dropped out of college at 19 to walk across the country and eventually settle in Portland, OR, where she’s currently based. Interestingly, Anderson is a classically trained guitarist, who has honed her skills playing in country, jazz and circus bands, collaborating with Beth Ditto, Sharon Van Etten, Circus Des Yeux and others, and has written the scores to a number of short films.  With the release of her first solo efforts – namely, her 2009 debut The Golden Hour, 2011’s Mercury and 2013’s Traditional and Public Domain Songs Anderson has developed a reputation for a sound that channels the entire history of guitar-based music and stretches the boundaries of tradition, as many of her compositions are not only based upon the landscape of American music but attempt to re-imagine them as her work possesses elements of minimalism, electronic music, drone, 20th Century Classical Music, blues, jazz, gospel, country, folk and Americana – often simultaneously.

Anderson’s latest effort Into the Light has Anderson leaving the Appalachian folk and Delta blues that first won her attention from the likes of Billboard, Rolling Stone, NPR, Spin Magazine, Pitchfork and Wire among others – with Into The Light landing on Spin Magazine’s best of 2016 and her split LP with Tashi Dorji being named one of the best experimental records of 2015 by Pitchfork and The Out Door. Anderson’s latest effort Into the Light, has the composer and songwriting leaving Appalachia and the Delta Blues – with the album’s ten compositions written as though they were the soundtrack of an imaginary sci-fi/western in which she tells the story of a lost visitor wandering the Sonoran Desert. And as a result, the material on the album is naturally cinematic and anachronistic in a similar fashion to the night’s headliner – in the sense that the material manages to feel both contemporary and yet timeless.

Adding to a growing national and international profile, Anderson has made appearances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Sweden’s Gagnef Festival, Fano Free Folk Festival, Le Guess Who and the Festival of Endless Gratitude, as well as opening for the renowned duo Xylouris White during their brief East Coast tour, a tour which also included a stop at National Sawdust last month.  Accompanying herself with only her guitar, Anderson’s set further cemented her reputation for material that went across both the breadth and length of American music – briefly touching upon early Delta blues, folk, murder ballads and country but a with a uniquely earthy and post-modernist take, while being deeply contemplative. She’s been known to perform a version of “House Carpenter,” a title given to most American derivatives of the British folk song “Demon Lover,” a song roughly about a woman, who takes up a lover, has an affair and leaves her husband and kid – only to discover that she’s fallen in love with a demon/Satan; however, Anderson’s rendition, as she explained before she played it was meant to consider the woman’s perspective, which not only humanizes the song’s main character, but manages to be pensive and lonely in a similar fashion to “Make Sure My Grave Is Kept Clean.” Interestingly, Anderson has frequently played a medley of both songs – and it shouldn’t be surprising as the narrators of both songs wind up dead and in some way plead for forgiveness, understanding, empathy through the years.

The material off Into the Light manages to evoke natural phenomenon – a song inspired by Anderson’s time in the desert, observing harshly swirling and howling winds can make you picture people huddling in from dust storms or sitting around a fire, just listening and thinking. It was a song that possessed an elegant and deceptive simplicity. And the entire time the crowd was enraptured by this woman playing instrumental compositions that could burrow deep into the earth, yearn and arch themselves heavenward or just focus on the simple joys of being happy and existing in a particular place in time. Simply put it was a fascinating night of old pros capturing a crowd and taking them in challenging, new sonic and thematic directions.