This week’s New Music Tuesday has us most excited about two lesser known bands in Slow Parade and Blue Blood. We have seen both live and have been eagerly awaiting their debut albums. But there is plenty more this week we are pumped to check out.
This week’s picks:
Slow Parade – Big Plans – “Slow Parade is a new project from a group established Atlanta/Athens musicians headed up by songwriter Matthew Pendrick. After calling upon bassist Andrea Demarcus (Cicada Rhythm) and multi instrumentalist Paul Stevens (Grand Vapids), Slow Parade was formed out of the need for a new extension. The goals were explicitly implied through means of analog conversion: follow sonic bliss until it exceeds the order of 38 db RMS above unity gain, translate the oft mud caked melodies back to silver vibrations of which they were born, catch the tail of the echo loop that does knows no decay.”
You can stream and buy the album on their Bandcamp at: https://slowparademusic.bandcamp.com/album/big-plans-2
Blue Blood – This Is The Life – “”They told me all is fair in love and war, so I killed the one I’ve been fighting for.”
So went the process for Hunter Morris after the dissolution of his prior band Gift Horse. A professional fly fishing guide by trade, he spent a year on the trout streams of north Georgia literally and figuratively far away from the music scene in his home of Athens, GA. This time of reflection produced the songs that would become Blue Blood. But it was the process of reinvention that provided the inspiration for these songs long before there were finished lyrics, structures, and arrangements.
Blue Blood began as a new solo project for Morris, but through the process of making demos in solitude and trying to find a new voice for his songs, what emerged was a collection of songs worthy of full band, psychedelic pop treatment. And Morris knew just the person for the job. He sent some of the songs to Hank Sullivant, who fronts Kuroma, was a founding member of The Whigs, and is currently the guitarist for MGMT, and who had previously produced the Gift Horse LP “Mountain of Youth”. After hearing Morris’ demos, Sullivant immediately assumed a more involved producer/instrumentalist role and the studio version of Blue Blood became a collaboration between the two. Morris and Sullivant recruited J.J. Bower (Dead Confederate, Battle Tapes) to play the drums, as well as keyboardist Dave Spivey, and they recently completed what will be the debut Blue Blood LP “This Is The Life”, which will be released in October of 2014 on This Is American Music.
The album was definitely the foundation upon which Blue Blood was built, as Morris and Sullivant essentially completed recording it before Blue Blood ever played a live show. However, it is the live lineup of Blue Blood that has brought the songs into their own. Morris says that having the songs recorded prior to forming a band to play them made the learning process much more efficient. But it’s what each member brings of their own playing style and personality that give the songs an added depth in the live setting.”
More albums to check out this New Music Tuesday:
Bill Fay – Who Is The Sender? – “Bill Fay’s new album, Who Is The Sender?, out 4/28 on Dead Oceans, is the much anticipated but hardly-dared-hoped-for follow up to 2012’s Life Is People, which was Bill’s first solo studio album in 41 years and a deserved critical and commercial success.
Previously, the profoundly affecting song “War Machine” was shared, Fay’s call to people everywhere to stop being complacent to the violence we often don’t realize is being committed in our names. NPR Music then premiered the meditative “Something Else Ahead,” a contemplation on what lies ahead once our time on earth is over. Now, we’re proud to share the gorgeous and slow build of “A Page Incomplete.””
Blur – The Magic Whip – “The new album from Blur, titled The Magic Whip, started life in Hong Kong when the band had an unexpected break in touring in May 2013. It is released by Parlophone Records on 27rd April 2015 – 16 years since 13, the band’s last record as a four-piece.
The recordings for the band’s eighth studio album began in Spring 2013 at Avon Studios in Kowloon. Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree spent 5 days jamming together and carried on with their live dates while the recordings were put aside and the group finished touring and returned to their respective lives. Dave resumed his day job as a lawyer and Alex returned home to his farm in Oxfordshire from where he writes a regular farming column in The Telegraph and hosts the annual food and music festival The Big Feastival with Jamie Oliver. Graham, who has released eight critically acclaimed solo albums to date, continued to work on his own material and, in 2014, Damon released his Mercury-nominated debut solo album ‘Everyday Robots’.
Then, in November last year, Graham revisited the tracks and, drafting in Blur’s early producer Stephen Street (Leisure, Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife, The Great Escape, Blur), he worked with the band on the material. Damon then added lyrics and the 12 tracks on The Magic Whip is the result.“
Braids – Deep In The Iris – “Braids are a three-piece experimental pop band from Montreal.
To record their third album, Deep In The Iris, Braidsdecamped to a series of retreats in the mountains of Arizona, Vermont, and upstate New York. Surrounded by nature in all its warm vitality, the longtime bandmates strove to shed the fabric of their day to day relationships, being bare and vulnerable before one another. What resulted is Deep In The Iris, their strongest record to date – powerful, yet fragile; immaculately sculpted, but deeply human.
Driven by roomy acoustic instrumentation and tasteful electronics, Deep In The Iris is easily Braids’ sunniest and most immediate record. While the icy, airless production of their second album Flourish // Perish suited the songs’ inward gaze, the widescreen warmth and full-bodied punch of Deep In The Iris are the perfect complement to its unflinching lyricism.
Raphaelle Standell has always had a formidable voice but rarely has it sounded as vital, focused, and powerful as it does here. True to the process that birthed it, the record explores a number of heavy subjects, including pornography, abuse, and slutshaming. Standell’s emotional vulnerability becomes a triumphant weapon in its own right: scything through wrongdoing and shame with equal aplomb, and clearing the way for the many others who will find resonance in the bravery of these lyrics. Written from a place of inspiring strength and unblinking lucidity, the lyricism of this record is a cathartic gift.
Longtime friends, Braids was formed in 2007 in Calgary, AB. After relocating to Montreal, the band released their critically acclaimed debut Native Speaker in 2011, and its 2013 follow-up Flourish // Perish. Consisting of Raphaelle Standell, Austin Tufts, and Taylor Smith, Braids are a collaborative whole, emphasizing a collective creative experience.
Deep In The Iris, out April 28th on Arbutus Records (World), and Flemish Eye (Canada).”
Colin Stetson has developed a unique and renowned voice as a performer and composer, chiefly on bass and tenor saxophones, where he rallies an array of technical strengths and innovations (circular breathing, contact micing of his own body and the body of his instrument, vocalizations through the reed) to make some of the most captivatingly organic, darkly soulful and otherworldly solo instrumental work of recent years. His brilliant trilogy of New History Warfare records (2007-2013) has been resoundingly celebrated by critics, fans and fellow musicians across many genres: avant/jazz, modern classical/minimalism, electronic/noise, industrial/dark ambient, black metal and indie rock.
The solo violin work of Sarah Neufeld has emerged more recently, and especially through 2011-2014, in the period between her primary band Arcade Fire’s last two albums. While no stranger to modern/minimalist composition with her Bell Orchestre ensemble dating back to the early 2000s, Neufeld has lately forged a newly distinctive, deliberate and evocative solo violin practice combining rock, folk, ambient and modernist sensibilities, culminating with her debut solo album Hero Brother in 2013.
Stetson and Neufeld first began playing in duo formation while on tour together as soloists in 2012, joining each other on stage for one or two of their respective pieces. Stetson had also collaborated in the past with Bell Orchestre and Arcade Fire, and with Neufeld and Shahzad Ismaily in an improv trio dating back to 2010 (including the Blue Caprice soundtrack). Duo compositions for their debut album emerged throughout 2014, and were road-tested that spring with performances at the Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (Canada) and Moers Festival (Germany). The album was recorded without overdubbing, looping, sampling, cutting or pasting at their farmhouse attic studio in rural Vermont by Hans Bernhard and mixed in Montreal by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire).
Never were the way she was is guided by the metaphorical narrative of the life of a girl who ages slow as mountains; excited, exalted, and ultimately exiled in her search for a world that resembles her experience. The album’s expansive sonic trajectory and multiplicity of structures and voicings belies the fundamental economy of two acoustic instruments combining in real time. The result is a musical chronicle that powerfully establishes its own spatial and temporal horizon, a soundtrack that requires no images but profoundly compels the imaginative. From the filigreed ostinato polyrhythms of “The sun roars into view” and “In the vespers” to the stately long tones of “And they still move”, the dark drone-inflected sea-saw waltz of “With the dark hug of time” to the growling, pulsing thrust of the album’s epic centerpiece “The rest of us”, Stetson and Neufeld offer up an incredible (and impressively diverse) integration of composition, performance, timbre and texture while holding their respective instruments in sparkling juxtaposition. Never were the way she was is a sum quite definitively and thrillingly greater than its parts. ‘
Mew + – “Some bands take the easier route, and then there is Mew.
Matching their fascinating, enigmatic album titles and lyrics, the Danes’ music follows its own unique path, transporting a pure-pop sensibility through ever-evolving scenery and around exhilarating hairpin bends, making music as layered and expansive as it is charismatic and melodic.
Following Mew’s fifth album No More Stories Are Told Today, I’m Sorry They Washed Away // No More Stories, The World Is Grey, I’m Tired, Let’s Wash Away, they are releasing a career-defining record, this time with the much shorter title of +-. The symbols capture the extremities of the band’s DNA: the pop ingenuity – Mew could be the new A-Ha if so desired – and the ambitious expansion of progressive giants such as Genesis and Yes.
“It’s like a photograph that’s been soaking in chemicals for a long time, to exaggerate the contrast,” reckons singer/spokesman Jonas Bjerre, on behalf of guitarist Bo Madsen, drummer Silas Utke Graae Jørgensen and returning bassist Johan Wohlert. “It represents the far regions of what Mew can be.””
Nai Harvest – Hairball – “Hairball, the follow up to Sheffield, UK indie punk duo Nai Harvest’s buzzed-about Hold Open My Head EP and huge single Buttercups (2014), was recorded with producer Bob Cooper (Sky Ferreira, Empire of The Sun, Citizen) over the course of one frenetic month.
Young guitarist and vocalist Ben Thompson (22) and drummer Lew Currie (24) are incredibly focused; a pair of best friends who have found their sound on their own terms. After two years of nearly relentless touring that took them to the other side of the world and back, the band has fully articulated that sound with Hairball.
Nai Harvest has always had a habit of surprising people, whether by surpassing their sonic expectations of a two piece or by effortlessly skipping between genres. Racing through ‘80s and ‘90s-influenced indie rock, Hairball is propulsive and elastic, taking sharp turns into hazy garage punk and feedback-laden grunge.
Hairball’s 10 tracks are brand new songs from Nai Harvest, apart from a new recording of the anthemic single “Buttercups”, (first released on flower-shaped vinyl in July of 2014). From the warm, major chord melodies of opener “Spin” to the fevered, buzzy pace of single “Sick On My Heart” and the neurotic phrasing of LP titled closer “Hairball”, the record places its focus squarely on memorable hooks, reverb and fuzz, all tied together by crashing cymbals and a driving rhythm section. At times, Hairball feels like an early Creation Records release, something Alan McGee would have championed before Oasis came along and threw his label into the big-time, or something that John Peel might have doted over.
Last year, the band toured across the UK and Europe, packed festival shows at Beacons, Bestival, Tramlines and Gold Sounds, sold out headlined shows across the UK, went on a US tour and performed dates for Rough Trade and more at CMJ. The band plans to tour relentlessly, much as they did last year, through 2015–this time, off the back of their best material yet.”
Odessa – Odessa – “It has been quite the journey for Odessa, a road well traveled that has led at last to her debut EP as a solo artist. A gifted violinist/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist with a CV that includes stints with such diverse outfits as Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Odessa has now lit out on her own and crafted a rich and human sound that defies easy classification, born of folk and pop, blues and psychedelia. Produced by Jacquire King (Of Monsters and Men, Norah Jones, Dawes), songs like “Hummed Low” and “I Will Be There” – famously featured in Subaru’s 2014 “Flat Tire” ad campaign – are melancholy, evocative, and strikingly original, fueled by Odessa’s instrumental prowess, passionate vocals, and utterly unique perspective.”
The Weepies – Sirens – “Singer-songwriters Deb Talan & Steve Tannen began writing together the night they met, and soon formed indie band The Weepies. On the strength of their simple yet insightful songwriting and distinctive harmonies, they quietly sold more than a million records, with over 17 million streams on Spotify, and 20 million views on YouTube. They married and had three children, rarely touring but continuing to release their music, five records over seven years.
Just before Christmas 2013, when their youngest son was 17 months old, Deb Talan was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She was in chemo by New Year’s Eve.
In 2014, Deb beat cancer, and The Weepies recorded the best album of their career. Coming back from the edge sharpened their skills and focus. At 16 songs and almost an hour long, SIRENS shows a band at the height of its powers.
The couple was unable to travel while Deb was in treatment, so they worked at home, inviting guest musicians to record remotely wherever each musician happened to be, resulting in an unlikely superstar backing band. Players from across the spectrum jumped in, including: Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello), Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters), Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), Oliver Kraus (Sia) and Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam), as well as veteran Weepies compatriots Frank Lenz, Eli Thomson, Jon Flaugher, Meg Toohey, and Whynot Jansveld, plus a horn section from New Orleans.
The prophetic “No Trouble” was written prior to learning Deb’s diagnosis. “I don’t need no trouble, but sometimes trouble needs me,” sings Steve; Deb’s vocals were recorded during her first weeks of chemo. The couple continued to write and record throughout treatment, with Deb providing several key vocals far into the year, including title track “Sirens,” captured in one take on a day where Deb really only had one take in her; her vulnerability is tangible. “We just kept going,” says Deb. “We also have 3 small children, and were homeschooling, and the effects of chemo blew whole days out of the water.”
The band was able to use their limited studio time as an escape, leading to some of their most joyful tracks ever, including the genre-bending “Fancy Things” and the upbeat “Early Morning Riser,” aided mightily by a fantastic rhythm section and horns. There’s plenty of heart and comfort for long time Weepies fans too – the deceptively simple “My Little Love,” the gorgeous “Brand New Pair of Wings” and the straight ahead poetry of “River From the Sky.”
After The Weepies had officially finished the album, and Deb was in recovery, they continued to record remotely with their phenomenal backing musicians for fun, eventually adding a cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” and a version of Irish balladeer Mark Geary’s “Volunteer” to the final album.
“No one song could capture that year,” says Steve. “16 seems like a lot to release at once, but each song reflects a different angle of that long, suspended moment. They hang together like a bunch of photographs from a certain time. It was intense, but there was beauty and inspiration, too. Deb made it back. And we’re still here.”
SIRENS will be released by Nettwerk worldwide on April 28, 2015.”
Turn To Crime – Actions – “Turn To Crime exists within its own pocket universe amid the Detroit music scene. Whereas some are beholden to the almost institutional credo of “loud fast rules” while others subscribe to the orthodoxy of established local genres like techno or garage rock, Turn To Crime stubbornly burrow through the ice cracked concrete to mine its own form of sonic magma. Turn To Crime is the singular product of Derek Stanton recorded in his studio and put out on his label. It’s a true example of D.I.Y. and a sui generis recording project that extrudes pop forms through an avant-garde dye.
Recorded over the last year in his basement studio in Detroit’s Southwest, Molten Sound, and released on Stanton’s label Mugg & Bopp, Turn To Crime’s newest Actions is a continuation of 2014’s critically acclaimed debut Can’t Love. That previous album’s tone, which Uncut Magazine called, “kosmische, post-punk and lo-fi electronic noise” that “keeps its sights on the pop hook” is present on Actions but taken to new heights of maximal minimalism. Akin to the more “out-there” eras of a Bowie and Lou Reed, or perhaps a less “out-there” Gary Wilson, Actions takes the raw materials of a pop tune (repetition and hooks) and atomizes them. Unique guitar tunings bump up against minimal electronics while sweetly sung harmonies ricochet in caverns of tape decay.”
A couple of new EPs to check out:
Ryan Adams – I Do Not Feel Like Being Good – Three great new songs from Mr. Adams. Just keep on making music man.
The Barr Brothers – Alta Falls – “Brothers Andrew and Brad Barr had spent most of the 90s criss-crossing North America, playing music with their spirited, improv-based rock trio, The Slip. In the spring of 2004, the band was playing a small club in Montreal, QC when a fire broke out in the venue. They grabbed a few guitars/drums and rushed out onto the rainy street with the rest of the concert goers. As the club’s mezzanine was swallowed by flames, Andrew offered his coat to one of the waitresses from the bar. One year later, Brad and Andrew Barr were living in Montreal. That waitress is now one of their managers.
In his first apartment in the new city, Brad shared an adjoining wall with Sarah Page, a classically trained harpist from Montreal, whose melodies would seep through the cracks of the wall and into the music Brad was writing. From this nebulous relationship, a friendship developed and the brothers, with Sarah, began recording and performing around Montreal. Soon, their friend and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial was brought in to lend his wide array of expertise to the outfit, playing keyboards, bass, vibes, percussion, and singing. They called themselves The Barr Brothers.”
The Japanese House – Pools to Bathe In – “One of the very last artists Zane Lowe championed before leaving BBC Radio 1was The Japanese House. There wasn’t much known about the rising London-based artist — just that she’s a she and only 19 years old — but her debut single“Still” was enchanting enough to warrant some airtime on the veteran DJ’s radio program as the “Hottest Record in the World.”” – via Consequence of Sound
Listen to all of the albums through our New Music Tuesday playlist on Spotify: