Tag: Seattle WA

New Video: Mike Edel Releases a Hook-Driven and Joyous Single

Mike Edel is a Linden, Alberta, Canada-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, who currently splits his time between Seattle, WA and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Since  2008, Edel has released two EP’s 2008’s , 2008’s Hide from the Seasons and 2012’s The Country Where I Came From and three full-length albums 2011’s The Last of Our Mountains, 2015’s India, Seattle and last year’s Chris Walla-produced THRESHOLDS.

Now, as you may recall, THRESHOLDS was a decided change in sonic direction for the Canadian-born signer songwriter and guitarist.  Shortly before he went went into the studio, he adopted a “consistency-is-boring” mantra, which helped him transform his sound and songwriting approach towards hook driven rock anthems centered around earnest songwriting. 

Co-written by Edel and Parker Bossley, Edel’s latest single  “Hello Universe” is a decidedly upbeat and optimistic anthem centered around boom bap beats, atmospheric synths, shimmering guitar, Edel’s plaintive vocals and a rousing, arena rock friendly hook. While continuing a run of hook-driven rock paired with earnest songwriting, “Hello Universe” focuses on finding life’s joys. 

The recently released video for “Hello Universe” was shot in Morocco and follows Edel, accompanied with an old school boom box, as he traveled through the North African country. And while giving the viewer a small glimpse into Moroccan life, the video reminds us all that although we all may have different cultures, languages and even different religions, we can all bond over simple yet profound things —  a smile from a kind face when you’re a stranger in a foreign land, a favorite song blasted on a boom box and so on.

“Somehow, Jordan Clarke and I ended up shooting the best music video we’ve ever made in Morocco – a single day before all the borders shut down due to the pandemic,” Edel says in press notes. “We were chased by a snake charmer for filming, but the people we met during the shoot loved the boombox. We almost didn’t make it home!”

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Starlight Girls · Teenage Crime

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker and Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. Bernard and Walters found their bandmates — Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist.

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they recorded an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs took the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. Unsurprisingly, as a result, Starlight Girls quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they supported with a handful of national tours — including an opening slot for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, and they followed that up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP.

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina AbramovićThe Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory.

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording— and the material is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it? Last month, I wrote about Entitled‘s expansive first single “Get Right,” a kaleidoscopic and cinematic track that possesses elements of shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and 70s AM rock — all while being one of the sexiest songs they’ve released to date.

“Teenage Crime,” Entitled‘s second and latest single is a slow-burning and atmospheric single centered around reverb and pedal effected guitars, twinkling keys and a soaring hook — and while reminding me a bit of Slow Air-era Still Corners and Stevie Nicks, the track’s lyrical themes, as the band’s Christina Bernard explains touches upon spiritual exploration, hope for the future and reconciling the past.

“As far as songwriting goes, most of the music came together spontaneously during rehearsals,” Bernard says of the EP’s creative process. “There was a lot of change happening for us around the time we wrote it—a lot of times when we played we didn’t know when our next time playing together might be. So the energy was insane every time we played.

“We’d gotten really in sync as a band through playing live so much, so someone would pull a riff out of the air in rehearsal and we’d just run with it full speed for four minutes and that would be the song. I’d always record rehearsals in case magic happened, and it did a lot. Then I would write lyrics (if I hadn’t already written them on the spot) and later we’d recreate what we’d played.

The only song that didn’t happen that way was Teenage Crime, which I wrote one night in my room. The guys in the band hated it at first because it’s like the slowest thing we do. But when we played it live all the ladies started swaying and I think that’s when everyone changed their minds.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our influences are hard to pin down. We all listen to really different music and I can’t remember what we were each into while recording. I personally was out dancing a lot to some pretty out there international drum circles. I was getting into the idea of music as a ceremonial thing—repetitive and rhythmic and visceral—so I was influenced by that, and how those ideas would translate to rock.

 

Lyric Video: Seattle’s The Unfit Return with a Feral Howl into the Void

Formed back in 2012, the Seattle-based punk act The Unfit — longtime friends and grizzled Seattle scene veterans Jake Knuth, Michael Lee, T.J. Johnson and Tyler Johnson — have a history of sporadic recording sessions and scattered postings of tracks online. But after a decade of being together, the members of the Seattle-based punk quartet will finally be releasing their self-titled, full-length debut on June 5, 2020 through Share It Music. 

The Unfit’s full-length debut finds the band firmly establishing their sound, a sound that draws from ’80s and ’90s punk, grunge and indie rock in a way that’s forceful and extremely loud. Thematically, the album touches upon finding meaning, belonging and honesty in a bleak and unrelenting hells cape, where those things are difficult to find — and figuring out a way to cope with the lack thereof.  Interestingly, the material is underpinned by the sentiment that in our morally bankrupt world, the survival of the fittest is tilted towards those with the greatest capacity for dishonesty, grift, shamelessness and zealous self-interest, and that one can perhaps take pride in finding belonging as one of the proverbial unfit. 

Last month, I wrote about the album’s feral and furious ripper “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels,” a mosh pit friendly song and incisive criticism of the capitalist rat race that was seemingly fueled by the desperate urgency of our moment. “The Picture,” the Seattle-based act’s latest single further establishes the band’s for crafting feral and cathartic rippers — but in this case, “The Picture” may be the most desperate song of the album released to date: it’s an a power chord-driven howl into an unceasing and indifferent void. 

“It’s about the terror and sadness that overcomes me when I think about the fact that my memory is me and that my memory is limited and impermanent – and everything that I am and every moment, however profound, however beautiful, will go away and, for all anyone knows or cares, ultimately might as well never have existed,'” the band’s Jake Knuth explains in press notes. “The song is also a sort of way of grieving for me – over the loss of youth, loss of partners and loved ones, loss of various parts of me and my life that I will never get back. I want to preserve and remember these things, these profound moments and feelings, but it will all ultimately fade away.  

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. The Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal. After spending two years studying at NYU, Allison returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music.

Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork‘s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images.

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago,Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more.performing album track “crawling in my skin.”

Continuing some wildly creative ways to maintain the momentum of her full-length debut, Allison recently launched a singles series, Soccer Mommy & Friends that sees some of her most accomplished friends and associates covering her work — and Allison covering their work. The singles series will see contributions from MGMT‘s Andrew VanWyngarden, Beabadoobee, Beach Bunny, Jay Som and a list others — with releases dropping every two weeks. The singles series first release finds the acclaimed Oakland-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte, the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed indie rock act Jay Som covering Soccer Mommy’s “Lucy.”

Interestingly, Jay Som’s take on “lucy” turns the jangling guitar pop anthem into a shimmering and brooding track, centered around atmospheric synths, thumping beats and ethereal vocals that to my ears reminds me quite a bit of Air’s ethereal remix of Beck’s “Heaven Hammer.” “I had an extremely fun time recording the ‘lucy’ cover,” Duterte says in press notes. “Sophie has such a special way of entwining catchy melodies and sometimes dark chord progressions. I feel very lucky to be a part of this comp!”

All net profits from Bandcamp sales from the series will be donated to Oxfam‘s COVID-19 relief fun. Oxfam is working with partners to reach more than 14 million people in nearly 50 countries and the US to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in vulnerable communities and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. As we’re all aware women and girls usually bear a disproportionate burden of care in a crises like COVID-19, and Oxfam has a proven record of helping women cope during and recover after these crises in ways that allow them to be safer and stronger than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Starlight Girls Release a Woozy and Trippy Visual for “Get Right”

Brooklyn-based indie rock act Starlight Girls can trace their origins back to 2011, when Christina Bernard (vocals), an Ohio-born megachurch chorister turned rocker; Shaw Walters (guitar), a San Francisco-born, guitar savant and tech wizard met and decided to start a band. They find their bandmates Sara Mundy (keys) and Isabel Alvarez (backing vocals), two Long Island-born theater junkies, Tysen Arveson (bass), a Seattle-born, Hawaii-raised art freak and Josh Davis (drums), a University of Michigan educated jazz drummer through Craigslist. 

The band initially emerged into the public eye through a wildly successful April Fool’s prank: they record an impression of acclaimed artist Joanna Newsom covering one of their songs and a handful of blogs take the bait, covering the song with rapturous praise. As a result, they quickly became a buzz worthy band, eventually releasing an EP that they support with a handful of national tours — even opening for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Building upon a growing profile, the Brooklyn-based at played one of Europe’s biggest festivals, which they followed up with their noisy and attention-grabbing Jamie Stewart-produced 7 x 3 EP. 

2016 saw the release of their enigmatic and cinematic, full-length debut Fantasm, which they supported through tours with an eclectic array of artists including Kate Nash, St. Lucia, Tilly and the Wall, Nick Waterhouse, Total Slacker, Crystal Fighters and Lucius. Since then, the members of the band have ventured outside of music and outside of Brooklyn in a variety of different creative projects: Christina Bernard has delved into film and directing, directing a self-penned short film shot in California, which will be released later this year. Shaw Walters has become a rising star in the tech world, traveling around the world creating holographic augmented reality projects for performers and artists, including a mixed-reality collaboration with acclaimed artist Marina Abramović, The Life, which has become a lightning rod for alt-right conspiracy theorists. The rest of the band has continued to solider on as musicians, during what may be the most difficult time for artists and creatives in recent memory. 

Interestingly the band’s Christina Bernard-produced EP Entitled was recorded at Upstate New York-based Marcata Recording– and the material reportedly is a dark yet upbeat come-on to an unknowable future while evoking a sexy freak-out from the edge of oblivion. That sounds and feels familiar, doesn’t it?  Hinting at Ennio Morricone film scores, shoegaze, art rock, goth rock, psych rock and Fleetwood Mac, the EP’s expansive first single “Get Right” further establishes the band’s cinematic and kaleidoscopic sound — but while arguably being the sexiest song they’ve released to date. 

Directed by the band’s Christina Bernard, the recently released video for “Get Right” was shot on a commune in rural North Carolina and is a feverishly surreal and psychedelic spoof on 90s karaoke videos that seems — to me, at least — to nod at Dario Argento films, as it’s part lysergic freak out, and part sensual slow dance into the dark recesses of the psyche. 

New Video: Acclaimed Indie Artist Soccer Mommy Goes on a Virtual 8-Bit Tour

Sophie Allison is a Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the critically applauded indie rock project Soccer Mommy.  Allison first picked up guitar when she was six — and as a teenager, she attended Nashville School of the Arts, where she studied guitar and played in the school’s swing band. By 2015, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began posting home-recorded songs as Soccer Mommy to Bandcamp during the summer of 2015, just as she was about head off to New York University, where she studied music business at the University’sSteinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. 

While she was in college, Allison played her first Soccer Mommy show at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Silent Barn. She caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed her to a record deal — and after spending two years at NYU, she returned to Nashville to pursue a full-time career in music. Upon her return to Nashville, the acclaimed Swiss-born artist wrote and released two Soccer Mommy albums — 2016’s For Young Hearts through Orchid Tapes and 2017’s Collection through Fat Possum Records. Her proper, full-length debut, 2018’s Clean was released to widespread critical acclaim, and as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Alison has wound up touring with Stephen Malkmus, Mitski, Kacey Musgraves, Jay Som, Slowdive, Frankie Cosmos, Liz Phair, Phoebe Bridgers, Paramore, Foster the People, Vampire Weekend, and Wilco.  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was gearing up to be a massive year for the young and rising singer/songwriter and guitarist: she began the year by playing at one of Bernie Sanders’ presidential rallies and had joined a list of contemporary artists, who endorsed his presidential campaign. Allison’s highly-anticipated sophomore album color theory was released to critical applause — and building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Nashville-based artist had been gearing up for a massive year: she was about to embark one a headlining tour with a number of dates sold-out months in advance, along with that, she had lined up appearances across the global festival circuit that included a stop at Glastonbury. Additionally, she was supposed to make her late-night, nationally televised debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

With touring being on an indefinite half for the music industry, the Swiss-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist recognized that this was a unique opportunity to get creative and experiment with new ideas. Combining her love of video games and performing, Allison held a digital concert on the online gaming platform Club Penguin Rewritten with over 10,000 attendees, who all had to make their own penguin avatars to attend it. The concert was so popular, that her fans crashed the platform’s servers, forcing a rescheduling of the event. Allison has also performed a number of live streams events, including  NPR’s Tiny Desk At Home (which she kicked off) and Pitchfork’s IG Live Series. And she also recently released her own Zoom background images. 

Recently, Allison and company embarked on a an Bella Clark-directed 8-bit virtual, music video tour in which the band plays some of the cities she was meant to be passing through — Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Toronto, and Austin. Instead of virtually playing at the more common tourist locations or a traditional music venue, the members of the band are mischievously placed in unusual locations: an abandoned Toronto area subway station, a haunted Chicago hotel, a bat-filled Austin bridge and more. Interestingly, the video four features the virtual band playing the album’s latest single “crawling in my skin.” Centered around looping and shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line, shuffling drumming and subtly shifting tempos, the track reveals a remarkably self-assured young songwriter, who has an unerring knack for pairing earnest songwriting with an infectious hook. (Oh, and you’ll see the band adhering to social distancing rules while virtually performing!)  

“It’s really hard having our tour be postponed because I was really excited to play all of the songs on color theory for everyone, ‘crawling in my skin’ in particular,” Allison says. “I hope this little 8-bit performance can hold everyone over until the tour can happen.”

New Video: Jupe Jupe Releases a Stylish Visual for New Order-Inspired “Leave You Lonely”

Seattle-based indie electro pop act Jupe Jupe — My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar, bass, sax), Patrick Partington (guitar), and Jarrod Arbini (drums, percussion) — have released four albums since their formation in 2010 — Invaders, Reduction in Drag, Crooked Kisses, and Lonely Creatures — that have firmly established their sound: an infectious, dance floor friendly sound influenced by post-punk, synth pop and Americana. Adding to a growing profile, the act has collaborated with the likes of The Afghan Whigs‘ Rick G. Nelson, Lusine, Mike Simonetti, Erik Blood and a number of others on their remix album Cut Up Kisses. 

Released earlier this year, the Seattle-based quartet’s Matt Bayles-produced Nightfall EP was recorded at Seattle-based Studio Litho and continues their ongoing collaboration with Bayles, who produced and engineered their last album.  Meticulously written over the course of a year, the five song EP features five hook-driven upbeat yet simultaneously melancholy songs that thematically focuses on yearning and desire — with the addition of a saxophone to their sound.

EP single “Leave You Lonely”is a shimmering and decidedly New Order-like track centred around shimmering synth arpeggios, angular guitar blasts, a propulsive bass line, four-on-the-floor drumming, My Young’s plaintive vocals and an infectious hook. And while being a pop-inspired confection with ambitious songwriting, the song evokes a swooning and earnest yearning. 

The recently released video features a meshing of three distinct visual styles — line animation, live footage shot in a high contrast negative and a lyric video — while being decently 80s influenced — and in a way that brings A-Ha’s “Take On Me” to mind. 

New Video: Seattle’s Jupe Jupe Releases an 80s MTV-Influenced Visual for Brooding Disco-Tinged “How Could We Both Be In Love”

Seattle-based indie electro pop act Jupe Jupe, which features My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar, bass, sax), Patrick Partington (guitar) and Jarrod Arbini (drums, percussion) have released four albums since their formation 2010 — Invaders, Reduction in Drag, Crooked Kisses, and Lonely Creatures — that have firmly established their sound: an infectious, dance floor friendly sound influenced by post-punk, synth pop and Americana. Adding to a growing profile, the act has collaborated with the likes of The Afghan Whigs‘ Rick G. Nelson, Lusine, Mike Simonetti, Erik Blood and a number of others on their remix album Cut Up Kisses.

Released earlier this year, the Seattle-based quartet’s Matt Bayles-produced Nightfall EP was recorded at Seattle-based Studio Litho and continues their ongoing collaboration with Bayles, who produced and engineered their last album.  Meticulously written over the course of a year, the five song EP features five hook-driven upbeat yet simultaneously melancholy songs that thematically focuses on yearning and desire — with the addition of a saxophone to their sound. 

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the shimmering, New Order-like “Leave You Lonely,” a decidedly ambitious and cinematic pop confection that expresses an aching yearning. Centered around a sinuous bass line, four-on-the floor drumming, shimmering synth arpeggios, plaintive vocals, an anthemic hook, and a mournful saxophone line, “How Could We Both Be In Love” continues a run of brooding yet disco-tinged pop confections. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the track sonically manages to bring Avalon-era Roxy Music and Duran Duran to mind while evoking late night, noir-ish vibes. The recently released video by Dirty Sidewalks’ Erik Foster is an incredibly stylish and moody visual that nods at French nouvelle vague and 80s MTV.  

New Video: Seattle Punks, The Unfit Release a Furious Ripper

Formed back in 2012, the Seattle-based punk act The Unfit — longtime friends and grizzled Seattle scene veterans Jake Knuth, Michael Lee, T.J. Johnson and Tyler Johnson — have a history of sporadic recording sessions and scattered postings of tracks online. After almost a decade together, the members of the Seattle-based quartet will be releasing their self-titled, full-length debut on June 5, 2020 through Share It Music. 

Drawing from 80s and 90s punk, grunge and indie rock, The Unfit’s sound is forceful, loud as hell, at times sludgy and at times hardcore punk-leaning. Thematically, their full-length debut focuses on finding meaning, belonging and honesty in a bleak and unrelenting hellscape where those things are harder to find — and figuring out a way to cope with the lack thereof. Underlying the material is the sentiment that in our world, the survival of the fittest is titled towards those with the greatest capacity for dishonesty, shamelessness and zealous self-interest, one can perhaps take pride and finding belonging in being one of the proverbial unfit. 

Clocking in at a little over two minutes, the self-titled album’s first single, album opening track “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels” is a feral and furious ripper, built around enormous power chords, thunderous drumming, a propulsive bass line, mosh pit friendly hooks and howled vocals that’s fueled by the desperate urgency of our moment. At it’s core is an incisive criticism of not just the capitalist rat race but of us that’s centered around the album’s central idea: the world is a bleak and uncertain hellscape of festering bullshit, greed and selfishness — and that bullshit, dishonesty, greed an selfishness may get us all killed. Worse yet, is deep down we all know this, even if we can’t immediately accept it. 

Directed by Ryan Taggart and the members of The Unfit, the recently released video for “Caged Rats and Hamster Wheels” is split between gorgeously shot and intimate footage of the band performing the song in a studio, which makes you feel as though you’re in the room — and stock footage of scientific experiments on lab rats. The rats gradually placed in situations in which the competition for food and survival is at its most primal and vicious. 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Mark Lanegan Releases a Brooding and Atmospheric New Single

I’ve spilled a fair share of virtual ink covering Mark Lanegan over the years on this site. And as you may recall, the Ellensburg, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist is known for being the frontman and founding member of Seattle-based grunge rock pioneers Screaming Trees and for a lengthy career as 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.

Lanegan’s 11th full-length solo album Somebody’s Knocking continued an incredible run of critically applauded releases but the album’s material found the JOVM mainstay and grunge rock legend turning to some of his most formative musical influences and profound loves — electronic music.  “I’ve always been into electronic music since I was a kid,” Lanegan said in press notes at the time. “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.”

2020 looks to be a momentous year for Lanegan: Lanegan’s memoir Sing Backwards and Weep will be published by Da Capo Press on April 28, 2020 — and his 12th solo album Straight Songs Of Sorrow will be released through Heavenly Recordings on May 8, 2020. Featuring guest appearances from his longtime  Greg Dulli, Warren Ellis, the legendary John Paul Jones, Ed Harcourt and countless others, Straight Songs Of Sorrow is inspired by his own life story, as documented in his memoir.

Reportedly, Sing Backwards and Weep is a brutal, nerve-shredding read, centered around Lanegan’s unsparing and unadulterated candor recounting his journey from troubled youth in Eastern Washington, through his days as a drug-fueled member of Seattle’s grunge rock scene to today with Lanegan finding peace and salvation within himself. While the book documents his lifelong struggle to find peace within himself, his forthcoming 12th album emphasizes the extent to which he realized that music is his life.

“Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis,” he chuckles. “All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realized there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realized that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record.”  In press notes, Lanegan affirms that each of Straight Songs Of Sorrow‘s 15 songs references a specific episode or person in the book — albeit, some more explicitly than others.

Whereas the previous two Mark Lanegan Band albums, 2017’s Gargoyle and the aforementioned Somebody’s Knocking found Lanegan pairing his lyrics to music written by collaborators, most of Straight Songs Of Sorrow was written by Lanegan — with the exception being the collaborations with Mark Morton. Two other songs have shared credits — and those two songs were cowritten by Lanegan’s wife Shelley Brien. And much like the book, the album ends with its hero overcoming adversity and struggle and turning, battered and beat up, but cleansed, towards a bright new day.

Last month, I wrote about Straight Songs of Sorrow’s first single, the slow-burning part bluesy lament, part tale of survival and redemption, “Skeleton Key.” Centered around Lanegan’s increasingly Howlin’ Wolf-like baritone, which manages to convey the aching despair, hard-fought and harder-won wisdom that comes from living a messy life, full of dissolution, sin, fucked up decisions and fucked up events. “Bleed All Over,” the album’s second and latest single is a bit more uptempo track featuring rapid fire beats, a looping acoustic guitar line, shimmering synth arpeggios and one of the more plaintive and vulnerable vocal performances from Lanegan in quite some time with a subtle Western tinge. A at its core are the inescapable and lingering ghosts of our lives, the weight of our decisions and actions upon ourselves and others — and the desire to escape it all.