Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Finn's Motel Video Up On YouTube.

Check out the new "Recent Linear Landscapes" video from Missouri basement rockers with day jobs Finn's Motel.

Finn's Motel will be playing at SXSW 2007, showcase info tba.

Finches Spin.com artist of the day

The Finches
January 30, 2007
The Finches

Who: Not to be confused with pop-punk band Finch, the Finches consist of Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs (vocals/guitar) and Roots of Orchis' Aaron Morgan (vocals/guitar). Fueled by the impressive record sales of their first self-released EP, Six Songs (which sold over 1,200 copies without the help of any distribution), the pair signed to Dulc-I-Tone Records to release Human like a House.

What's the Deal: Human like a House breezes along with gently weaving guitars and pitch-perfect harmonies. Ranging from dreams about June Carter Cash's voice to childhood memories, Riggs' Mirah-like vocals and eloquently nostalgic lyrics are always delivered sincerely. And, as an added bonus, the album comes with a chipboard digipack, which features twelve of Riggs' beautiful, delicate woodcut drawings.

Fun Fact: "My first self-elected instrument was a bright red, rattling drum set," Riggs revealed to SPIN.com. "I still have hopes of incorporating some percussion into the live shows -- big, rolling-thunderous, timpani drums." KRISTINA GRINOVICH

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Beirut Name Checked On Gilmore Girls.

Pop culture references on nationally syndicated television have reached a new level of obscurity. Beirut's Gulag Orkester album along with the names of other indie rock luminaries where name checked on last night's episode of Gilmore Girls. Yes, the Gilmore Girls. The scene went something like this:

Dude with mandolin: Mostly I've just been messing around. I wrote
one song that's kind White Stripes, a little Ghost meets The
Decemberists meets Gulag Orkestar...

(this is right before Sebastian Bach walks in to hang out with the "band")

Whoa, where/how does David S. Rosenthal dig this stuff up? The show must have some pretty hip interns. Beirut's new ep Lon Gisland streets next Tuesday January 30th.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Higgs Hits The Upper 7+ Range On Pitchfork Today.

Daniel Higgs' Ancestral Songs reviewed on Pitchfork today Jan. 24th.

Daniel Higgs
Ancestral Songs
[Holy Mountain; 2006]
Rating: 7.8

Known equally for a staggering stage presence, his elegant tattoo art, and what he's spent so many years incanting, Daniel Higgs has produced brilliant, poetic rambles as the frontman/focalpoint of Baltimorean post-punk band Lungfish. A restless experimenter, Higgs has occasionally stepped outside the Lungfish framework: On Ancestral Songs, he labels himself "Interdimensional Song-Seamstress" and drops his most intriguing and powerful effort in years.

Building acoustic raga with guitar, voice, jaw harp, toy piano and banjo, Higgs conjures a vast nexus of hell, heaven, demons, angels, man, and all the overlaps in between. Imagine, if you can, the phrases and philosophies on the sides of Dr. Bronner's soap put to song by Roky Erickson and Henry Flynt.

Every bit a solo tent revival or one-on-one confession, the recording's spare, closed-in. The structure's reminiscent of David Thomas Broughton, but the ambience is less mournful, more celebratory. And, when he does get especially worked up, as in "O Come And Walk Along (for S.)", his chanted questionnaire ("Have you heard the lies about Christ?/ Have you heard the truth about Christ? It is a music evolving in time/ In the time of Christ, amen") reinscribes his hardcore roots.

Tracks move through various phases (in both senses) of Indian drone and lapped lap steel. He stuffs the corners with a wonderful pallet-- electrocuted bells, flange tunneling, tonal strums, electric noise, a toy-box Hendrix squall, warped ringing. Now and again a guitar turns into a sitar. Each psalm offers echoes.

Opener "Living in the Kingdom of Death" introduces the central themes/doctrine: The human body is something we'll eventually throw off ("I love these living rags I wear") and reality's a sort of "kingdom of dreams" where there's no clear-cut good or evil. For instance, the devil shows up in the "true" Christ and is also Christ's child bride. Sonically, the piece lays out a thread of tones that hums throughout the album. This has an obvious conceptual arc behind it-- the collection's title comes from this idea of inescapable connectivity: "A mirror as broad as your life is long/ Your reflection, an echo of an ancient song." That reflection and overlap occurs very much in the present: "My beloved, the daughter of the sea and the air/ The reflective sea beneath the invisible air/ The conjunction of everything is everywhere."

The chirpy field-recording "Thy Chosen Bride" is comparable, in parts, to Jewelled Antler or Will Oldham: Birds chirp and a banjo motors, and it lasts for more than 10 minutes. In its gentle duration, Higgs' playing is different than, say, Ben Chasny-- more traditional in some regards (hillbilly avant garde?), and he seems less interested in going places. Six-and-a-half minutes into "Thy Chosen", for instance, the music moves from finger picking to strums and singing. His voice channels Erickson (again): "The root of time taps the corpse of space." The birds hit various tones-- some are constant and some that seem to step forth and solo subtly in the background.

Albums that spend so much time on instrumental drone and ambient builds rarely nail the words like holy writ. Higgs could easily get consumed with one element-- he plays vast stretches of music as often as he sings-- but manages to wed the two threads. It's a fitting convergence considering his themes, and likewise, Ancestral Songs' shivers multiply after repeat listens-- each time he howls "amen" I want to get me to a church on time. But I guess part of Higgs' sermon is that you can never really be late.

-Brandon Stosuy, January 24, 2007

Finches Feature In This Week's SF Bay Guardian January 24th.

The Finches new alum Human Like A House streets next Tuesday (1/30). The band is currently on a West Coast tour which includes an Amoeba Music-SF in-store and a record release show at Cafe Du Nord. An adjoining East Coast leg will follow in late February through March. A full list of dates is listed below.

Follow that bird
Keeping house with the Finches

With so many duos still adhering to the muddied-guitar-and-drums style years after the White Stripes broke, it's refreshing to see local twosome the Finches reaching back to an earlier, folksier model wherein melody and songwriting win out over bombast and swagger.

"We actually tried to have our friend Justin play drums at the practice space with us once, and none of us really knew what we wanted at that point," guitarist-vocalist Aaron Morgan muses over tea at a noisy café a few blocks west of the UC Berkeley campus.

"And it was Justin himself who told us, 'You know, you guys don't really need a drummer.' "

When the boy-girl duo of Morgan and vocalist-guitarist Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs perform, their plain-harmony vocals and soft-spoken stage patter make it a little difficult not to think of A Mighty Wind, but the earnestness is clearly paying off. I've seen the group play several times over the last year, and it's hard to miss all the kids drifting by the merch table to pick up the group's self-released EP, Six Songs, an endearing batch of tunes topped with a tender Pennypacker Riggs print showing a girl with a finch, riding off into a dreamscape of mountains and night.

That merch table will be a little busier soon with the release of the Finches' debut, Human Like a House. The full-length feels very much like a natural growth from Six Songs, and while fans will certainly be pleased to hear more of a good thing, there are subtle surprises here too. For starters, the Pennypacker Riggs album art that so catches the eye has expanded to an accompanying book, How I Was Carried Away.

"I like to conflate the visual and the aural," she explains. "They're kind of the same stories."

For now the duo seem grateful for the support they've received on their own merits and are thrilled that they've been added to the Revolver Distribution and the Dulc-I-Tone label rosters. "I think the word will spread about them to people who really get it," Matt Lammikins at Revolver says, "and that's how they have gotten a weird following all over the country [the world, really] that has no rhyme or reason, and my friends still don't know who they are.... It's just good honest songwriting." The confidence all this has inspired shows on Human Like a House, especially in Pennypacker Riggs's increasingly varied singing range. There are several songs here — "Last Favor" and the title track — that elaborate on the Six Songs formula: song-pirouettes in which melodies circle one another, matching up with Pennypacker Riggs's forlorn lyrics. This balancing tends to work best when the tunes are kept short. In "June Carter Cash," for example, weget a clear-eyed snapshot of love and loss in a few rounds of the stately chord progression. The song is about the way we express our own feelings and experiences in other people's voices and music. Hence the heartbreaking lyric "June Carter and John have flown / Now I'm ready to let you let me go."

"My favorite songs were the last we wrote," Pennypacker Riggs confesses. It shows: "Step Outside" is ebullient, the sound of the Finches falling in love, singing, "When we stop / It feels as though / We're rolling backwards" over descending chords.

Elsewhere the band leavens its duets with drums, pedal steel, and cello. The last is provided by Vetiver's Alissa Anderson on the shimmering "Two Ghosts," a song in which Anderson's drones seem to reel in Pennypacker Riggs's and Morgan's conversing guitar lines like something caught at sea.

Guest shots aside, Human Like a House is a homespun affair. The pedal steel is provided by Morgan's father, David, who also engineered much of the recording in the family's San Diego garage. "My dad's just beginning to learn how to engineer recordings," Morgan explains. "This was his learning experience, which, I have to say, I think he did a nice job on." Indeed, the guitars sound a little brighter than on Six Songs, the harmonies delivered with a newfound warmth and clarity. Finishing touches were added in Pennypacker Riggs's family garage in El Cerrito, with the vocalist's mother contributing a recorder overdub before the duo closed the book on Human Like a House.

These production choices seem appropriate given the ground the duo treads on this album. "Owning a home [in the Bay Area] is pretty much a fantasy, a domestic fantasy," Pennypacker Riggs says when I ask her about recurrent images of homemaking. "I love this area, but I won't be able to afford to stay here forever, which bums me out."

It's a rootlessness all too familiar to many of us and one that Pennypacker Riggs rubs up against on Human Like a House. The album's centerpiece, "The House under the Hill," crescendos with a chorus fleshed out with vocals by Morgan's parents in a swelling show of support. But then, moments later, it's just the guitars and Pennypacker Riggs's voice again: "Alone I am nameless / And fearless and faceless." Bob Dylan might ask her, "How does it feel?" but by the end of Human Like a House, we have a pretty good idea.

01/25 Los Angeles, CA @ Safari Sam's
01/26 Sacramento, CA @ Fools Foundation
01/27 San Francisco, CA @ Amoeba Music (in-store 2 PM)
01/31 San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord (Record release show)
02/20 Philadelphia, PA @ Kyber
02/21 Brooklyn, NY @ Zebulon
02/22 Saratoga Springs, NY @ Lively Lucy's
02/23 Northampton, MA @ King Street Manor
02/24 Boston, MA @ Nadav's
02/25 Portland, ME @ Strange Maine
02/27 Middletown, CT @ Earth House @ Wesleyan
03/01 New York, NY @ Printed Matter Books (in-store 5 PM)
03/01 New York, NY @ Cake Shop (w/ Essie Jaine)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Smooch Label Spotlight In the Denver Westword

Andrew Murphy of the Smooch label gets some long distance admiration from his old smooching ground.

The Beatdown
Murphy's Law
Andrew Murphy carries on a long-distance love affair with Denver music.
By Dave Herrera

Jan 18, 2007
The pull of Denver's music scene must be very strong for Andrew Murphy. I mean, why else would the guy continue to run a Mile High-centric label from more than 1,200 miles away? Murphy, the proprietor of Smooch Records, says the motivation behind this labor of love hasn't changed since the late '90s, when he helped launch Radio 1190's Local Shakedown program: It's all about helping his friends gain greater notoriety.

Murphy's love affair with homegrown music began in the mid '90s, when his family came to Boulder from Texas. Embittered by the move, Murphy discovered a few local punk bands that helped ease the transition; he was drawn by the primal magnetism of such now-defunct acts as Priest, Monsters and Saints (an outfit that my buddy and former bandmate Oscar drummed for once upon a time) and Juhl (whose members went on to play in Maraca Five-0, Blussom and Blue Blooded Girls). "It was the only thing I liked about Colorado," he remembers.

He also found that he liked Albums on the Hill in Boulder. There the high-schooler was befriended by a curmudgeonly clerk named Jayson Munly Thompson (or just plain Munly, as he's known these days). The enigmatic songwriter took a shine to Murphy and later helped him land a job at Albums. Given Munly's forbidding on-stage persona, it's hard to imagine him befriending a fawning, precocious teenager; even Murphy has absolutely no idea what prompted the guy to reach out to him. He may never know: Munly's not a man of many words.

"He doesn't really talk that much," Murphy explains. "And I don't really ask him very many questions. We're very close friends, but we still don't even talk that much. I mean, I stayed at his house when I was in Denver [over New Year's Eve], but we didn't really chat that much."

While still in high school, Murphy started volunteering at KVCU/1190. He was soon lobbying the station for a program that focused on local music -- particularly music by Munly and his other friends. Although the idea initially met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from the station's managers, eventually they relented and let Murphy and Sharon Gatliffe, a friend from high school, get behind the mike for two hours every Friday afternoon with Local Shakedown.

Murphy kept doing the show after he enrolled full-time at the University of Colorado, and started looking for ways to expand the concept. In November 1999, the DJ put together the first of a series of two-night bills at the Bluebird, diverse lineups that included everyone from the Kalamath Brothers, the Down-N-Outs and O'er the Ramparts, to the Blast-Off Heads, Letches and Space Team Electra, to Munly (natch), Hoochie and the Pin Downs. And when he approached noted knob-turner Bob Ferbrache, already a fan of Shakedown, about the possibility of recording the shows, Ferbrache gladly signed on.

At first Murphy intended to release the live recordings as a way of commemorating the concerts. But that plan soon gave way to the idea of assembling an expansive Local Shakedown compilation, complete with contributions from Jello Biafra (conscripted by Murphy, who cold-called the Dead Kennedys founder when he was at his parents' house in Boulder), 16 Horsepower and the Apples in Stereo. Their participation ultimately convinced the powers-that-be at KVCU that the project was viable, and after a lot of back and forth with the station's ten managers -- one non-student and nine student GMs -- the funding came through. The resulting 45-track disc, released in May 2000, earned positive notices in this fish-wrap and convinced Murphy to pursue the label in earnest. His next release, a platter from Maraca Five-0, arrived later that year.

Over the next six years, as Murphy went on to work with Fanatic Promotion and Wax Trax, then relocated to San Francisco in the spring of 2004, he released a spate of discs from the likes of 16 Horsepower and Lilium, one of its offshoots, as well as Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Munly and Tarantella -- bands with a kindred sound unique to Denver. Although Smooch recently issued Andrew Rothbard's (VSS, Pleasure Forever) new solo disc, Abandoned Meander, many of the label's fifteen releases have been reissues. It's not that Murphy isn't interested in procuring fresh material, because he is. But he's also become something of a curator/historian of the scene, and he's determined to help preserve Colorado's recorded and often unheralded legacy. To that end, Smooch's next releases will include a Denver Gentlemen reissue, followed by a never-before-released full-length from the Soul Merchants, Ferbrache's '80s-era goth band.

I have to hand it to the guy for displaying such unwavering devotion to a city that he no longer lives in. Nearly three years after taking up residence in the Bay Area, Murphy still tirelessly advocates all things Denver more fervently than some of those who live here -- even though it's clearly not a lucrative mission (Smooch's biggest seller has moved just over a thousand units). Murphy stays solvent by working full-time at Revolver Distribution, the company that exclusively distributes Smooch, and he has plenty of other projects keeping him busy these days. He's been running interference between Munly and Alternative Tentacles -- which co-released Munly's last disc -- and hatching plans to write a book documenting the scene and produce a movie focusing on the "Denver Sound," which will feature Denver Gentlemen, 16 Horsepower, Lilium, Woven Hand, Slim Cessna, Munly, DeVotchKa, Tarantella and the Kalamath Brothers, among others.

"Seeing Slim live wins over fans who were not impressed/didn't get the album," he notes. "The hope is that the movie will do the same, and on a larger scale than a single concert."

It's ironic that Murphy singles out Slim as someone he'd like to prop up as an exemplar of the Denver Sound. Like Murphy, the tall, slender fella is no longer a tax-paying resident of Denver -- even if he still performs in the area with enough regularity that some folks are none the wiser. And while Murphy admits he can sometimes feel slightly disconnected from the Denver scene, it helps that more and more people from the Mile High City are moving to the City by the Bay.

"There's a ton of Colorado people here," Murphy points out. "There's four people at Revolver out of thirty who used to work at Wax Trax. San Francisco -- I don't know how familiar you are with the city, but it's sort of like every five blocks or so is a different neighborhood. I live in North Beach, which is the old Italian neighborhood. The Mission is the Mexican neighborhood, and there's Russian Hill. Sometimes I joke that there will be a Little Denver since there's so many of us here."

In San Francisco, maybe, but they left their hearts in Denver.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bracken Reviewed on Pitchfork Today

Bracken scores a respectful 7.4 review On Pitchfork today. We Know About The Need starts shipping to stores next monday (January 22nd) and officially streets on January 30th.

We Know About the Need
[Anticon; 2007]
Rating: 7.4

Born as a sort of ramshackle folk act, peddling lo-fi ennui à la Sebadoh, the Leeds quartet Hood evolved surprisingly into a post-rock act. And their recent work, peaking on 2001's Cold House, took another startling turn, toward Anticon's glitchy hip-hop aesthetic. This abiding sense in Hood's work of the pastoral slowly giving way to technology is mirrored in band member Chris Adams' one-off solo project, Bracken.

Adams drew an analogy between producing We Know About the Need and assembling flat-pack furniture. "A lot of square pegs," he admitted, "end up being forced into round holes." His approach gives the record a charming incoherence. Adams riffs on his old band's signature sounds: the drone ("Evil Teeth", "La Monte Lament"), the hiccuping futurism ("Safe Safe Safe", "Many Horses"), and textures you can swim in ("Heathens"). What marks We Know is a pronounced dubstep vibe, a haunting emphasis on the low-key and the low end.

"Of Athroll Slains" announces this emphasis, resting on its moody, clattering rhythms, as Adams sings with a halting delivery that unfurls into sleepy melisma. It's as close to a disembodied voice as it gets. He perfects the mixture of atmosphere and dub thump on lead single "Heathens". The density of the sound-- a soup of horns, organs, guitars, reverb-soaked vocals-- makes the song sound like screwed-and-chopped background noise. But in a good way. There are untold details to sift through, melodies to follow, in the washes of pirate-radio static.

For every person bored to tears by dubstep, 100 are bored by drone. Yet Adams' flirtations with willful monotony always leave something for the ear: the lushly Gregorian "Music for Adverts"; the drum solos and humming cello of "Evil Teeth"; the quivering, unbroken tone of "La Monte Lament". These forays into stillness work as well as their can't-stand-still foils, from the fluid and urban musique concrète of "Fight or Flight" to the twitches of nervous digitalism on "Many Horses", humanized by the clarinet and piano. They manage to be warm and icy, mechanical and natural, at the same time.

Not until we round back to the closing track "Back on the Calder Line" does the repetition start to tire, as Adams attempts to recreate the anomie-laden majesty of "Heathens", building on glacial beats, his ghostly phrasing, and fingerpicked notes. Nevertheless, We Know About the Need emerges as a slippery, engrossingly genreless take on the old theme of desolation in the city.

-Roque Strew, January 19, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Germano Review & Tour Dates

Excellent review of Lisa Germano's In The Maybe World on evilsponge.org

January '07
In the Maybe World
Lisa Germano
Young God Records
Reviewed by: Indoor Miner

It's tempting to write that these gentle, softly sung pieces will sound best in a candle-lit room on a long winter's night, the flickering flames casting unusual shapes across the walls whilst a coal fire burns brightly. But one of the first times I heard this album was when I was driving along a narrow, seemingly never-ending eighteen mile country lane that dissected some Scottish woodland which separated the main road and a quiet Loch-side village. I may have had written directions in front of me, but I've got to admit I'd long since started to wonder just where the hell I was going. And somehow Germano's quiet, slightly eerie voice was perfect for this journey.

In The Maybe World opens beautifully with The Day. I should warn you, however, that if you don't like this track, then you may as well switch off now, because The Day pretty much typifies the album as a whole. If you do like it though, are you in for a treat! Too Much Space follows and is even better as Germano sings…

In the morning without a sound
and the stirring of dreams around
then you wake up
he wasn't there again

…over a pretty piano before some kids voices burst in to eerie effect on a number that occasionally brings John Cale's contribution to The Velvets to mind. It's helluva track. But I could say the same for pretty much everything here. Indeed, I'll resist the urge to use the word "melodic" ad nauseum, because I'd be using it to describe all twelve tracks. So I'll just mention a few highlights starting with Moon In Hell and its haunting violin solo. Golden Cities is another worthy of mention, opening as it does with a tinkly piano and some breathless whistling, leaving you feeling that you're listening to some particularly sinister music box. A similar effect can be found on In The Land Of Fairies, a cyclical tinkly piano riff with
Germano nervously telling us that…

Somebody saw a monster
It was real mean

…before going on to tell us that the monster was the worst you've ever seen.
It's only then that Germano adds…

Scary little joker
It was only me

It's hypnotic stuff. The slightly unsettling title track, which is somehow reminiscent of Julian Cope's beautiful Head Hang Low, is another highlight whilst Red Thread builds up to find Germano sounding almost angry as she relates a "Go to hell" / "Fuck you" argument, before both parties concede defeat with a "I love you" / "love you too" reconciliation.

The album ends with After Monday, surely one of the strongest tracks here.
Germano does her best to sound upbeat when she announces…

Hey hey it's just a normal day
I was so sure that love would be the cure.

But you know there's going to be a "but". And sure enough there is. Indeed, there's something disturbing about the backing noises, and Germano's tone is such that when she says, "When you wake up it'll be ok", it made me think that I'm not entirely sure that I'd actually want her to fall love with me. Because for all Germano's gentle beauty and wispy voice, on this evidence you'd never be sure what she'd do if you left her. There's definitely something that makes you think that you might not want to leave your pets lying around unattended.

Of course, I'm not saying this album will appeal to everyone, and apart from
flippantly suggesting that depressed Kate Bush fans might like it, I'm not
entirely sure who I'd target as an audience. Mainly this is because the
album, with its head-on collision of soft, melodic, and beautiful with
eerie, haunting, and disturbing, has some unique qualities. And I don't use
the world unique lightly.

Whatever, it's a class act.

Lisa Germano will be on tour with Michael Brook staring late January through early February.

01/25 Los Angeles, CA @ Largo
01/26 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
01/28 Vancouver, BC @ St. James
01/30 Toronto, ON @ Revival
01/31 Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe
02/01 Boston, MA @ Paradise Lounge
02/02 New York, NY @ Joe's Pub
02/03 Philadelphia, PA @ North Star
02/05 Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
02/07 Chicago, IL @ Schubas

Sixteen Minutes of Beirut Receives Eighty-Seven Words From Rolling Stone

Beirut's Lon Gisland ep reviewed in the new Rolling Stone.

Lon Gisland EP
RS:3.5 of 5 Stars
Average User Rating:4 of 5 Stars

Zach Condon is that truly rare thing, an American -- in fact, a very
young American -- who turns a foreign style to his own inauthentic
uses without doing it dirt. Gypsy brass as he hears it is gorgeously
lyrical because lyricism is his thing, and so he softens the three
horns on this EP not just with idiomatic accordion but with ukulele
and glockenspiel. The trumpets are cushy too, establishing a comfort
level his melodies earn. The worrisome part is that his lyrics are
kind of soft too.

(Posted: Jan 8, 2007)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Field Music Featured In The UK's Top Selling Tabloid!

Brother David Brewis of Field Music shares some words with Simon Cosyns of The Sun.

January 12, 2007

Field Music - Tones of Town
Rating: 4

FURTHER proof, if needed, that the North East is firmly on the musical map in 2007 comes with Sunderland’s Field Music.

Following in the wake of Maximo Park and The Futureheads, the trio are gaining a growing reputation as one of the most original and inventive bands around.

Field Music consist of brothers David and Peter Brewis, the core songwriting partnership, and keyboard whizz Andrew Moore.

Their second album proper, Tones Of Town, is a riveting exercise in pairing concise, everyday tales with multi-faceted pop stylings.

They’ve drawn comparisons with many top drawer acts, from the angular post-punksters Wire to the masters of melodic pop The Beach Boys.

SFTW decided to find out more from David:

HOW and when did you guys get into writing and performing music?

Back in 1989-90, it just seemed like the thing the cool kids were getting into. Peter got a very cheap drumkit one Christmas, which he had a very natural and rapid rapport with (though I don’t think anyone realised quite how natural at the time). Then I got a £20 Argos acoustic guitar and Peter developed a very natural rapport with that too. It took me a little longer. Andy had a couple of guitar lessons when he was a youngster but gave it up almost straight away and ended up practising organ and piano along to Doors records.

We played together for the first time for Andy’s music GCSE and then started doing a band a few months later. We mostly did covers of rock classics in pubs.

Who have been your major influences?

Our parents and friends and each other are our biggest influences by far. There’s an awful lot of music we love and records which have qualities we aim to capture in our music.

Tell us about the North East’s music scene and your links to the city’s other well-known bands, The Futureheads and Maximo Park?

We did our musical growing up with The Futureheads — it was a nice time. Peter was originally the drummer in The Futureheads and I helped to record their first few demos at the studio we set up together. Barry and Dave also played in mine and Peter’s bands.

We still share the studio and hang out together whenever we’re around Sunderland.

We met the lads from Maximo Park from doing gigs around Newcastle and became friends with them. We loved Tom’s drumming so we asked him to help us out and he ended up being Field Music’s regular drummer for a year or so. He’s also a little bit busy for that now.

They’ve been really supportive as things have taken off for them — it’s incredibly touching that Paul always gives us a plug in interviews. Again, we see them whenever they’re at home and go for a few drinks in Newcastle.

Do you support Sunderland and approve of manager Roy Keane’s efforts?

We do and always have done despite the heartache. I think Roy’s doing well — I really hope he’s given time to put his stamp on the team. There’s been too many lazy or half-hearted attitudes at the club for too long.

As brothers in a band, do you ever have Liam and Noel-style bust-ups?

We tend to simmer and then bicker. Right from the start we’ve always said that whoever writes a song has the final say over it, which works pretty well when we’re recording.

However, it’s more difficult when we’re out on tour and it’s just us cooped up in a van and there are decisions to be made.

We do most, if not all, of our own admin, driving, artwork, video ideas and it tends to be about those things that we can get a little tetchy.

I’ve been intrigued to read that the new album is about “There’s no place like home, but how come I don’t always feel ‘at home’?” Can you elaborate on the song Working To Work etc?

Well, the lyrics for that one are Peter’s but I’ve interpreted it as being about how much time and energy we expend on our workaday jobs, just in order to have the time to work even harder at trying to do the things we care about.

It was a difficult year for us in 2005 — we were working full-time, rehearsing a few nights a week and then using up all of our holidays for touring, living on an absolute pittance, struggling to pay the rent. It’s a wonder we managed to record that first album.

Actually, we’re still getting by on a pittance and wearing ourselves out touring, recording and rehearsing but at least we’re not trying to hold down office jobs as well.

How has your sound evolved and progressed since the debut album? People have mentioned Wire produced by The Beach Boys.

In terms of constructing our recordings, we’re very conscious of avoiding clichés and not just doing things for the sake of it, which is a classic punk or post-punk artistic approach. On the other hand, we can play and sing pretty well and aren’t afraid to incorporate harmonies or make a feature of unusual melodies in our songs, which is probably quite a Beach Boys-style thing.

You’re not believers in repeating yourselves, ie through the use of choruses?

As David Byrne once sang, “Say something once, why say it again”. That kind of sums it up — if there’s a good reason for repeating something then I’m all for it.

People have said there’s an element of prog-rock, particularly some of Andrew’s Genesis-style keys, in your music. Do you agree?

There’s a lot of music in the prog-rock cannon which is lazy and cliched, thoughtless, smug and trite. However, generally the idea of being progressive, which for me means trying to do something new, seems like a pretty good idea.

I’m a big fan of Peter Gabriel but the only Genesis album I really like is The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway — it’s funny and irreverent in a way which they’re not usually given credit for. Funnily enough, I don’t think Andy has any affinity for prog-rock whatsoever.

And you appear to like keeping things short and sweet, just 31 minutes . . .

It would be even shorter if we didn’t repeat ourselves at all. I find most songs that last more than four minutes have boring bit in them. I’d rather do songs which don’t have boring bits, even if that means they don’t quite hit the two-minute mark.

Where do you hope Field Music will be by this time next year?

We’re trying really hard to keep working and not let touring and admin stop us from coming up with new ideas, writing and recording and being brave.

Field Music's new album Tones Of Town will be released domestically on February 13th.The band will be playing SXSW and touring the US throughout February and March 2007.

Video for "A House Is Not A Home"

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Vashti Bunyan & Vetiver Complete Tour Bio

DiCristina label mates cult legend Vashti Bunyan and avante/pastoral pop exemplars Vetiver will be undertaking a joint East Coast tour this coming February. The tour kicks off with a special showcase at Carnegie Hall being hosted by David Byrne February 2 that will also feature their mutual close friend Devendra Banahart as well as Coco Rosie. This will be Vashti’s second-ever U.S. tour and Vetiver’s fifth since the Spring ’06 release of their second full length CD To Find Me Gone.
A full 35 years on from the release of her debut album Just Another Diamond Day (her only previous album), Vashti wrote, recorded and released the long-overdue follow-up in 2005, the breathtakingly beautiful Lookaftering to overwhelmingly ecstatic response from a whole generation of younger musicians, journalists and music lovers. After a few exploratory festival dates in the U.K. and Europe late in the year, Vashti mounted her first ever extensive touring starting in the Europe, then continuing in North America being enthusiastically received by fans and critics alike. She’ll be accompanied on her ’07 dates by Jo Mango (piano, flute, kalimba, concertina), Gareth Dickson (guitar) from Scotland, Kevin Barker (of Currituck County on guitar) from Brooklyn and Helena Espvall (ESPers) on cello and Kat Hernadez will be playing violin.
Vashti Bunyan had been discovered by The Rolling Stones' guru, Andrew Loog Oldham in the 60’s. Becoming disillusioned with the music business, she bought a horse and cart and set off for the creative colony that Donovan was setting up on the Isle of Skye. By the time they arrived, Donovan had left, but the experience formed the songs for Just Another Diamond Day, the album recorded by Joe Boyd (featuring members of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention) in November '69. Rather than promote the record, Vashti left to live with the ISB in Scotland, and then (with horses, wagons, dogs and children) on to Ireland and anonymity. In the late '90s, typing her own name into an Internet search engine, Vashti became aware of the cult JADD had accrued over the years and arranged for it’s re-release - to huge critical acclaim. A host of young, new admirers emerged citing her influence, and Vashti has since recorded with Piano Magic, The Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde, Devendra Banhart, and Animal Collective. The positive response then encouraged her to make her first new music in over three decades, Lookaftering, a startlingly powerful return to artistic activity.
Meanwhile her labelmates Vetiver released To Find Me Gone in 2006, two years after Vetiver’s eponymous debut. In that time band primum mobile, Andy Cabic has toured the world repeatedly as a member of his chum Devendra Banhart's live band, as well as with Vetiver (occasionally with Banhart in tow) and released Between, an EP of live and demo recordings in 2005. Most basic tracks on To Find Me Gone were recorded by Cabic with guitarist Kevin Barker (Currituck County) and percussionist Otto Hauser (ESPers) who he then toured with extensively backing Banhart, road-testing and adjusting some of this repertoire during those shows. Finishing touches were added and additional songs recorded throughout the year by an intriguing cast of characters including Devendra, Noah Georgeson (producer of Joanna Newsom and another member of Banhart’s band), Vetiver’s resident cellist Alissa Anderson and Brightblack Morning among many others. Vetiver’s touring line-up is Cabic (vocals, guitar), Alissa (cello), Otto Hauser (of ESPers, on drums), Sanders Tripp (guitar, vocals), and Brent Dunn (bass).
Andy Cabic grew up in northern Virginia and spent a few years in Greensboro, North Carolina, playing guitar, writing music and recording as a member of the Raymond Brake. After moving to San Francisco, Cabic joined the rock band Tussle, simultaneously recruiting other local musicians including cellist Alissa Anderson, troubadour Devendra Banhart, along with special guests Colm O'Ciosoig (My Bloody Valentine), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and the then-unknown Joanna Newsom among others to record Vetiver. And then began two years of touring and recording with his best friends, creating some of the loveliest, most subtley powerful music made this century.

Vetiver + Vashti Bunyan U.S. Tour dates
Wed 1/31/07 Eclectic Society/Wesleyan College Middleton, CT (VETIVER ONLY)
Fri 2/2/07 Carnegie Hall New York, NY
Sat 2/3/07 Johnny Brendas Philadelphia, PA
Sun 2/4/07 Satellite Ballroom Charlottesville, VA
Mon 2/5/07 The Arts Center Carrboro, NC
Tue 2/6/07 40 Watt Club Athens, GA
Wed 2/7/07 Mercy Lounge Nashville, TN
Fri 2/9/07 Rock & Roll Hotel Washington, DC
Sat 2/10/07 Southpaw Brooklyn, NY


Thirty-six years ago, a willowy young British singer-songwriter named Vashti Bunyan, above, hung her guitar up in sadness, considering her one album, “Just Another Diamond Day,” to be an artistic and personal failure. Despite her association with the fashionable folk scene that included the Incredible String Band and the producer Joe Boyd, Ms. Bunyan’s enchanting songs of wandering and pastoral domesticity, sung in a tremulous, impossibly delicate voice, failed to attract any attention, even, she has said, among her friends. (“I just couldn’t think why anybody would want to listen to something that was so very personal to me,” she said in a recent radio interview.) Three decades and three children later, after the belated reissue of “Just Another Diamond Day,” she was sought out by Devendra Banhart, the shaggy prince of the psychedelic folk revival. Amazed to find herself beloved by a new, young audience, Ms. Bunyan broke her silence to sing on records by Mr. Banhart, Animal Collective and others, and last year finally made her second album, “Lookaftering”. At first glance, its similarity to “Diamond Day” is astonishing: the same tender guitar, the same mousy voice, the same uncorrupted sunniness. Look closer, though, and a contemplative wisdom emerges, as Ms. Bunyan sings knowingly about childrearing, the search for a home and the endless study of a lifetime. (“I wanted to be the one with road dust on my boots,” she sings, “and a single silver earring and a suitcase full of notes.”) BEN SISARIO/New York Times

…Thirty-five years later, the fingerpicking songstress retains every bit of the innocent hippiedom she displayed on her lost-and-found 1970 debut Just Another Diamond Day (shaped by the same mope scientists who masterminded Nick Drake’s three albums, producer Joe Boyd and arranger Robert Kirby). Devotee Devendra Banhart co-arranges with producer Max Richter, setting Bunyan’s airy compositions in a drifting cloud of stereo-panned acoustic guitars, the returning Kirby’s strings and Joanna Newsom’s harp. Bunyan glides breathily through odes to winter nights and wordless lullabies almost certain to show up in future Wes Anderson pictures. A preciously solemn soundtrack for blustery days, Lookaftering is a sleepy report from Brigadoon. Jesse Jarnow/Paste

… Bunyan's is wonder inspired by something or someone calling her out of herself and into a mutual indwelling that illuminates what binds and separates all things. Hers is wonder, as she puts it in one sublime track, born of the realization that everything is "the same, but different."
Emanating from the enchanting likes of dulcimer, harp, Mellotron, and glockenspiel, the music that envelopes Bunyan's pastoral musings doesn't so much produce sounds as channel and shape those that are already coursing through the flora and fauna. The same is true of the album's twilit closer, "Wayward Hum," in which Bunyan's wordless murmuring testifies to how no human pronouncement can adequately convey wonder.
Bill Friskics-Warren/No Depression

… Bunyan emerges 35 years after her debut album, with a disc that sounds as if it could have been recorded in the same era as Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking, Shirley Collins’ No Roses and Nick Drake’s Bryter Later. Lookaftering – even the title has that trippy, Anglo vibe – is a stunner from start to finish, exquisitely produced and arranged by Max Richter and Bunyan and featuring freak-folkers Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart and Adem. The instruments are warm; the vocals chilling. And when Bunyan sings “Once I had a childe,” she brings to bear all the power of a single word – “once” to evoke loss. How good it is that she’s been found again. Pamela Murray Winters/Harp


The rustic and the hypnotic meet on Vetiver's "To Find Me Gone", the second album from the San Francisco band led by Andy Cabic. Acoustic guitar picking and drone harmonies are the underpinnings of the folksy songs, which are full of tentative thoughts of love. When a song tells a story, like "I Know No Pardon," Mr. Cabic shows worthy Bay Area roots in the Grateful Dead, and his quivery voice also makes him a kindred spirit to Devendra Banhart, who sits in on a few tracks. But Vetiver's most distinctive songs, like "Been So Long," diffuse the focus from the singer. They let lyrics turn into mantras and send instrumental phrases echoing through the mix, like ripples from a pebble tossed into a pond. Jon Pareles/ Sunday New York Times

Of all the groups lumped into the “freak folk” movement, Vetiver are probably the least deserving of the tag…and easily the most noteworthy. The San Francisco group helmed by Devendra Banhart pal Andy Cabic has profoundly matured since its self-titled 2004 debut. Cabic’s dreamy West Coast acoustica has shed most of its outsized ethereality and become more focused on well–crafted and evocative songs. That’s not to say that this discs is any less ambitious (or dreamy – sounding) than Vetiver’s debut, but To Find Me Gone is definitely a more cohesive and accessible work. Rootsy cuts like “I Know No Pardon” – with its rich organ work and delicately twanging guitars - come close to sounding straightforward, and the rollicking groove of “Won’t Be Me” makes it clear that Cabic is anything but a shoegazer with a 12-string. That’s not to say that To Find Me Gone is an attempt at simplified normalcy: there are still a half-dozen guest musicians (from Medicine’s Brad Laner to improv violinist Irene Sazer) all putting their individual marks on these works, as well as a loose, smoky, after-midnight vibe that permeates the entire affair. Jason Ferguson Harp

Andy Cabic, the San Franciscan who is the main creative force behind folk-rockers Vetiver, wouldn't seem to be much of a VH1 fan. But by the end of his group's set Sunday night at the Warehouse Next Door, it was clear that Cabic and the cable channel had one thing very much in common: They both really love the '70s.
Cabic is also a member of freak-folk kingpin Devendra Banhart's band, so Vetiver has been lumped into that scene, along with just about every other group that has a large, rotating cast of members and shows an appreciation for Marc Bolan when he was in the band still going by Tyrannosaurus Rex. But on Vetiver's recent album, "To Find Me Gone," which provided much of the evening's material, Cabic has shifted from composing gentle, acoustic fare to a more pleasing, polished country-rock sound that is heavily indebted to Neil Young and Gram Parsons… songs such as "I Know No Pardon" and "Won't Be Me" were rollicking, if not quite rocking, ditties that were versatile enough to feature both memorable melodies and a bit of modest jamming…David Malitz/Washington Post

Named after an aromatic East Indian grass increasingly employed to solve soil-erosion problems, Vetiver evokes serene fields on its mellowed-out sophomore effort "To Find Me Gone" (DiChristina Stairbuilders). Anchored by the mystically voiced Andy Cabic, who also plays in Devendra Banhart's band, the collective gently stirs hypnotic folk undercurrents, out-west pedal-steel accents, quivering organ chords and rustic cello notes into a melting pot that brims with a rapt mix of devotion and solitude. Vetiver's gorgeous solemnity gives off whiffs of psychedelic textures, country-garden blues and chamber-pop drones, adding to a dreamy atmospheric that should prevail onstage. (Don't Miss It) By Bob Gendron Chicago Tribune

For more information or materials contact Howard

527 Barclay Avenue, Morrisville, PA 19067
215-428-9119 tel 215-428-9119 fax * howlingwuelf@aol.com

Higgs Receives Acclaim From Mojo Magazine

Mojo Magazine deemed Daniel Higgs Ancestral Songs February's underground ablum of the month.


"Already well respected as the big-bearded voice if Dischord riff-workers Lungfish and blues-folk duo The Pupils, Daniel Higgs has donned the peculiar mantle of "interdimensional song-seamstress" for his first outing alone. Alternating between avant-blues primitivism and tranced out instrumental meditations Ancestral Songs is very much a rough-cut gem. When singing, Higgs leans heavily towards the spiritual, following religious and cosmic conscious streams while he picks out sparse repetitions on guitar or banjo, sounding like an elder bluesman or gospel preacher with his third eye opened wide. Elsewhere his fingers speak instead-playing complex banjo runs like Sandy Bull, Indian-style ragas like Robbie Basho and making distorted strings roar like a railroad engine. It's a weird mixture for sure, but one that deserves not to be overlooked." - Andrew Carden

Essie Jain Featured On Dusted Today

Dusted's Daniel Levin Becker interviews London's latest gift to the Big Apple, Essie Jain.

There are, as of this writing, four photographs in the “images” section of Essie Jain Wilkinson’s website. The first is a study of a pretty young blonde woman in a sober striped dress, reclined on a crate of books in an otherwise barren room. The second is the same woman with only the pebbly white wall behind her, her gaze shyly diverted from the camera. The third is a close-up of a butterfly made of leather, and also the cover of her enchantingly consumptive debut album, We Made This Ourselves, minus text. The fourth, explained only by the heading “a little bit of everything,” is a stark mugshot of a can of Heinz Baked Beanz. The fourth, for the sake of adventure, is where we will begin.

“It’s one of my all-time favorite British comfort foods,” explains Wilkinson, 28. “Beans on toast. That involves making toast, covering it in butter, adding cheese if you feel like it, salt and pepper. And tea. PG Tips tea, tons of milk and sugar. That meal alone can make anything better.” Short reflective pause. “I’m firmly grounded in a belief in that,” she concludes, not without irony. “It’s been a very large part of my life.”

The import, so to speak, of her devotion to something so canonically British (for the record, The Who Sell Out is 12 years older than she is) comes to light when you consider the operative displacement of her life and career. Raised in London, where she studied a handful of instruments and trained briefly as an opera singer, she moved to Brooklyn at 23 to pursue a development deal with the American arm of Carlin Music, and to Manhattan soon after. “I thought New York would be a lot like London, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth,” she says. “People are a little more closed off here, and it took me a long time to find healthy friendships. If I were honest I would say it’s more isolating than I would have wanted.”

Which brings us to the second photograph, the fair-haired maiden lit from the left and facing the right, looking down toward the place where she becomes indistinguishable from her shadow. Wilkinson’s New York songs, as We Made This Ourselves could faithfully but incompletely be described, blur the line between the pallor of the writer and the darkness of her work with disquieting expertise, plumb the depths of what it means to make music organically. “The record is the last three years of my life,” she says. “Every single thing, every year of being in New York and every strange thing that my dad has sent me in the mail, went into it.” Even the decision to record as simply “Essie Jain” was less a decision than a default: “I didn’t think I had to find a band name, because I didn’t ever think I would be, like, a band. The name is as personal as the music, that’s all there is to it.”

The album’s genesis stayed accordingly close to home – at home, in fact, excepting the piano tracks recorded at four different studios – produced by Wilkinson and guitarist Patrick Glynn. “I learnt a tremendous amount, because I’d never engineered before,” Wilkinson recalls. “Half of it was sheer blind luck; both of us were absolutely winging it.” She had sketched out more than half the record in this fashion – and played at New York venues from the Rockwood Music Hall to the Mercury Lounge (so much for staying cloistered) – by last August, when she was invited to play a session on WNYU and left some recordings that got quickly passed along to Ben Goldberg of Ba Da Bing! Records. Goldberg offered to release the songs as they were or to let Wilkinson develop them further; she opted for the latter, completing the writing process and enlisting a handful of friends and acquaintances to embroider her sparse arrangements. “Jim White came in at the very end and did this incredible job of drumming over tracks that were devoid of conceivable time,” she says (White, officially of Dirty Three, has lent tasteful percussive whispers to a number of kindred spirits, from Nina Nastasia to Cat Power to Nick Cave).

Indeed there is a ragtag, faintly communal feeling to the album (“a lot of people were involved,” Wilkinson explains, “that’s why it’s not I Made This Myself.”) that offers a key counterpoint to its bare-bones composition. Its parts coalesce almost, but never entirely: the seams of each song are exposed, the transitions supremely tentative. One seems to recognize the clinking of flatware in the background of a wistful waltz, the shortest and probably cheeriest number on the album, called “Disgrace.” There is warmth in these moments of imprecision, but it hardly tempers the cold baroque sadness, the deafening stillness, that envelops them.

Still, the simplicity audible in early listens – underscored by reticent titles like “Indefinable” and “Understand” (only one track has a two-word name, the lovely “No Mistake,” and it surpasses the others in muteness) – is deceptive. Songs like “Haze” build themselves in front of you out of the smallest, most basic ideas, slowly gaining certainty and color until suddenly, sometimes scarily, they tower with immediacy. The power of this duplicity lies in Wilkinson’s endlessly nuanced voice, by turns velvety and wispy, mournful and lusty, operatic and girlish; it reins in its oft-swerving accompaniment and reaches out to the listener in lyrical snatches, all while drawing itself, and the whole undertaking, inward and away.

“That record is its own person now,” Wilkinson says. “It’s gone, out of my hands. I think it has an elegance about it that I didn’t really anticipate; you’re prepared for a messy homegrown kind of feeling with something like this, but it’s very warm and close, very sitting-in-room-with-rainstorms. For me it’s definitely that feeling of not being able to go outside for” – pause – “some reason.” This, in all its cold comfort, is what she means when she describes her music as “intimate”: safe, personal, perhaps even palliative, but inseparable from the isolation that created it.

“I’ve had a hard time working out what my place is in this city,” she reflects. “I’ve always felt a bit larger than it – not in the sense that I’m amazing, but in that I haven’t been involved in a scene here, I’ve never found where I am.” And that unfixed feeling – due to lack of easily pigeonholed contemporaries rather than lack of exposure or talent, one supposes – will be where the third photograph comes in. “I’ve had that leather butterfly for a really long time,” she explains. “For me it’s the idea that if you’re broken or in trouble, you can become something else, attach onto things that will heal you. There’s a place for anyone anywhere.”

And Wilkinson seems fairly certain that New York will not always be her particular place, though she’s already “knee-deep” in songs for her next album. “I don’t want to be one of those artists that goes on forever,” she says. “I don’t want to keep making records when my time is up. New York will serve its purpose for me as long as it serves its purpose, but that purpose is going to stop. It either becomes the center of your world or it doesn’t. Sooner or later I’ll need wide open space and better air. Wanting to get out of here is a heavy weight on your shoulders.”

Which brings us finally to the first photograph, the figure between the open window and the open door, considering the light from outside but blending into her own shadow with the smallest hint of satisfaction on her face. “Maybe if I moved and lived on a nice farm with some cows, the music wouldn’t be as dark as it is,” she says. “Living in New York has contributed to the darkness, the intensity. But I think if I drove into the mountains of Portland I’d find that quiet little spot, that dark pocket of the jacket, and jump in it, too.”

Essie Jain's new album "We Made This Ourselves" streets on February 13th.

Essie Jain will playing in New York on Jan 27th @ Webster Hall and a record release show @ Tonic on February 7th.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Memory Band - Artist Of The Day On SPIN.com January 9th 2007

You can download an mp3 from the Apron Strings album and read more about The Memory Band on Spin.com today - hurray!

Read more here

A Whopping 30 Hour Sonig Retrospective

Holy Shit, it's the Sonig mother load! The maniacs at WHRB will be conducting a Sonig label marathon on January 10th, 11th, 12th, & 14th. More info follows...

Radio Retrospective "Orgy" of Sonig Music

"Record Hospital", the underground music department of Boston-based radio station WHRB 95.3FM, will be conducting a retrospective "Orgy" of Sonig music this week that you don't want to miss. DJ Willbpayne and friends will be playing a total of 30 hours in rough chronological order, with material ranging from old classics (such as Mouse On Mars, Jason Forrest, Aelters, etc.) to unreleased tracks, remixes, side projects and precursors. Interested Sonig fans outside of the Boston area can tune in to WHRB's live web feed at http://www.whrb.org.

Listener participation and feedback is encouraged. More info about this and all of Record Hospital's winter Orgies can be found at http://www.recordhospital.org.

The air times (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) for the Sonig Orgy are as follows: Wednesday, January 10th, 8:00 p.m. - Thursday, January 11th, 6:00 a.m., Thursday, January 11th, 11:00 p.m. - Friday, January 12th, 6:00 a.m., Sunday, January 14th, 12:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m."

Great Vert video for the pop masterpiece "Velocity"

DJ Elephant Power gets in touch with nature in "mc doux doute" video.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Scottish Literary World Collides With The Scottish Musical World

Vashti Bunyan contributes a track to a unique project featuring collaborations between some of Scotland's finest writers and musicians.

The brainchild of Idlewild’s Roddy Woomble, Ballads Of The Book began as a simple idea to bring together the literary talents of Scotland’s writing community with a diverse range of new and established recording artists. Following Idlewild’s work with Edwin Morgan on their Remote Part album, Roddy wanted to explore the possibilities of more artistic collaborations with various writers providing original lyrics for recording artists to interpret in whichever way they saw fit. Having enlisted the enthusiastic support of the Scottish Arts Council and with Chemikal Underground onboard, it wasn’t long before the nascent idea and fledgling list of interested parties flourished into a brilliantly realized collection of songs: as musically eclectic as they were elegantly poetic.

Full tracklisting:

Mike Heron & John Burnside - "Song For Irena"
De Rosa & Michel Faber - "Steam Comes Off Our House"
James Yorkston & Bill Duncan - "A Calvinist Narrowly Avoids Pleasure"
Foxface & Rody Gorman - "Dreamcatcher"
Lord Cut-Glass & Alasdair Gray - "A Sentimental Song"
Aidan Moffat And The Best Ofs & Ian Rankin - "The Sixth Stone"
Norman Blake & John Burnside - "Girl"
Karine Polwart & Edwin Morgan - "The Good Years"
Sons And Daughters & A L Kennedy - "War On The Love Song"
Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson - "The Leaving"
Strike The Colours & Rody Gorman - "Message In A Bottle"
Aereogramme & Hal Duncan - "If You Love Me You'd Destroy Me"
Malcolm Middleton & Alan Bissett - "The Rebel On His Own Tonight"
Trashcan Sinatras & Ali Smith - "Half An Apple"
Vashti Bunyan & Rodge Glass - "The Fire"
King Creosote & Laura Hird - "Where And When"
Emma Pollock & Louise Welsh - "Jesus On The Cross"
Idlewild & Edwin Morgan - "The Weight Of Years"

The album Ballads Of The Book is out on 5th March 2007 on Chemikal Underground.

Vashti Bunyan
will be touring the UK and US with Vetiver throughout January and February.

01/12 Brighton, UK @ Corn Exchange
01/13 London, UK @ Roundhouse
01/14 Gateshead, UK @ The Sage
01/16 Glasgow, UK @ ABC
01/17 Birmingham, UK @ Glee Club
01/18 Bristol, UK @ St George's
01/19 Manchester, UK @ Bridgewater Hall
01/20 Leeds, UK @ City Varoities
01/31 Middleton, CT @ Eclectic Society/Wesleyan College (Without Vashti Bunyan)
02/02 New York, NY @ Carnegie Hall
02/03 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas
02/04 Charlottesville, VA @ Satellite Ballroom
02/05 Carrboro, NC @ The Arts Center
02/06 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
02/07 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
02/09 Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
02/10 Brooklyn, NY @ Southpaw

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Swamp Fox & The Chicago Sun Times

The following Tony Joe White article is from the December 6th issue of The Chicago Sun Times written by Jeff Johnson.

"To thine own self be true" is second only to love as a pop music theme. It's your thing, go your own way, and while you're at it, be true to your heart, your music, your girl, even your school.

No, Tony Joe White wasn't there when Shakespeare quilled that line -- after all, he's a mere 63. But the singer certainly lives by that philosophy.
Take his new album, "Uncovered," which most artists would have played up for its guest-star appeal. After all, White and his son Jody, his producer, assembled a Fab Five that includes Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, J.J. Cale and and the late Waylon Jennings.

But for White, it's the songs that matter, and several of the strongest tracks
are the ones sans star power.

Back in 1969, White singlehandedly popularized "swamp music" with the single "Polk Salad Annie" about a granny-chomping gator. The music not only evoked images of his native Goodwill, La., but it even captured the region's languid atmosphere and climate.

Some fans thought "polk salad" was a euphemism for pot and would want to "toke some polk" with White backstage, but he says polk was a spinachlike plant that grows wild in marshy areas. "It has a big purple stalk with purple berries," he says. "You cook it just like greens, but after the berries come, it'll kill you if you eat it."

Rockers have built careers by varying White's ingredients slightly. Creedence Clearwater Revival had never set foot in the land of giant "skeeters" and Cajun queens. They took a ribbing from the Swamp Fox during tours. "They was always 'swamp this' and 'swamp that,' " White says. "One night I asked [John] Fogerty, 'Why do you boys mention the swamp every night? Last time I looked, there were no alligators in San Francisco.' "

White maintains that songwriting should come straight from the heart. The notion hit him like a lightning bolt in the late '60s the first time he heard Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe."

"I heard the realness of that song," White recalls. "I was doing Elvis Presley and Lightning Hopkins onstage, and I said to myself, 'I am Billy Joe. If I ever write anything else, it's going to be real.' Three or four weeks later, both 'Polk Salad Annie' and 'Rainy Night in Georgia' [his megahit as recorded by Brook Benton] came along. I drove a truck for the highway department, and if it rained, I'd stay home and play my guitar all day."

That genuine quality struck a chord with superstars such as Presley and Tom Jones, both of whom recorded "Polk Salad Annie"; Tina Turner, who did four White songs on her CD "Foreign Affairs," including "Steamy Windows"; Jennings, who recorded "Closing in on the Fire"; Ray Charles; Tim McGraw, and Hank Williams Jr. Still, the industry went to great lengths to reshape White for the pop market.

"That was one thing that caused some of the trouble in the early days with the record companies," he says. "If they can't box you up like a McDonald's burger, they didn't know what to do with you.

"They didn't know whether to call my music swamp blues or country or rock. The big companies tried to get me to change. One even wanted to market me as 'the white Barry White.' ... I write a few love songs, so maybe I could become 'Barry Joe White.'

"I've always had that deep voice, so I guess it made some sense," he says with a laugh.

White doesn't have to suffer such fools anymore. He and Jody run their own label, Swamp Records, from a studio and headquarters in suburban Nashville that served as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War. "Uncovered," which was recorded there, was eight years in the making.

"Getting these five men together was to me like such a powerful thing where I might just sit back and go fishin' for a while afterward," says White, who has been touring heavily behind the disc, including a gig Thursday night at Schubas. "I told Jody, 'Man, you've cut down on my fishing.' "
Guitarists Clapton, Cale and particularly Knopfler all share White's minimalist philosophy.

"It proves itself over and over through the years," White says. "Years ago, I learned that my 20-something licks could be reduced to three. It was so beautiful with Clapton. He did five takes and said, 'I'll sleep on it tonight and really do it tomorrow.' The next day, he took out about three-fourths of his guitar. That's the same way Knopfler works. He and J.J. leave that breathing room in there."


Amazing footage of T.J.W. performing "Swamp Boogie" on Musik Laden 197?

Pitchfork Awards An 8.1 Review To Black Devil Disco

After more than twenty some odd years Black Devil Disco gets some much deserved praise. Check out today's 8.1 review on Pitchfork.

Black Devil Disco Club
28 Later [Lo Recordings; 2006]
Rating: 8.1

There are some acts so thrillingly obscure and mysterious that to embrace them takes a certain leap of faith. In fact, the lack of a paper trail becomes part of the fun.

According to what little lore exists, Black Devil is the French duo Bernard Fevre and Jackie Giordano. Or maybe that's spelled Jacky Giordano, as he was credited on the group's 1978 EP, along with Joachim Sherylee and Junior Claristidge, who may (or may not) be made-up, or possible pseudonyms of Fevre and Giordano. Until now, that EP was the only known document of the group's existance. Titled Disco Club (that is, assuming it wasn't a self-titled release by Black Devil Disco Club all along, to whom this disc is credited), it was initially released to little fanfare, but has steadily gained notoriety and recognition since its original issue. And rightly so: Its few spooky tracks of European electro-disco were brilliant enough to have supposedly influenced and inspired throngs of italo-disco and dance artists over the years.

Of course, the disc was a well-kept secret, until some deep cratedigging led the Chemical Brothers to sample a Black Devil track called "Earthmessage" on "Got Glint?" from their 1999 Surrender disc. And a few years later, in 2004, the first and only Black Devil Disco Club EP was parceled out via a series of 12"s by Rephlex, leading some to wonder whether the whole thing was just an elaborate ruse perpetrated by label co-founder Aphex Twin, who, as everybody knows, has nothing better to do than to prank his fans.

Fast forward two more years and a six-song disc has appeared credited to Black Devil Disco Club, titled 28 Later. Is this the same Black Devil from 1978, twenty-eight years later? The copyright reads 2006, but the only credit on the jacket notes "All Titles Written & Produced by Bernard Fevre." OK, but written and produced when? 1978? 1983? 2005? The eerily timeless disc could have been produced in any of those eras, as it propels itself along on a familiar and formula of analog synths, Giorgio Moroder-styled pulse/throb basslines, simple drum machine patterns, pitter-pattering faux bongo beats, and someone (Fevre?) singing heavily processed vocals and wordless gibberish.

And what of Giordano? Is he dead? Did he ever exist? Could he and Fevre be the same person? Mysterious French record dealer/producer/DJ Gwen Jamois gets a special shout out on the disc. What's his relationship? Did he dig this up? Did he make this up? And who's the dude with the Bruce Lee 'do pictured on the foldout sleeve? Better to just go with it, especially since there's so much giddy fun to be had here: 28 Later is as proudly anachronistic as it may be ahead of its time-- full-on funky Euro-disco that doesn't skimp on the sleaze or, thankfully, the hooks.

"The Devil in Us" spends less than a minute on minimal synths and beats before a monster Moroder bassline sneaks in, and from then on, the only thing keeping the disc from total dancefloor dominance are the short gaps between tracks. The tempo kicks up a couple of cuts later with "Coach Me", and if the sound is largely the same, the smart arrangement squeezes maximum ideas into a minimal arrangement, all diva drama as drawn from the mind of a homespun bedroom genius.

On "Part Two" (the compact disc equivalent of side B), the irresistible synth-scatting of "I Regret the Flower Power" is as otherworldly as Jon Hassell's trademark trumpet, or the Knife's twisted vocals, while the deceptively spare condensed epic "On Other Skin" skirts clubland euphoria with its funky percussion stabs, canned handclaps, robo vocals and chilly keyboard flourishes. And then it all just ends, suddenly, like a strange fever dream that finally breaks-- until you hit play again to make sure what you thought you heard really happened. It did.

-Joshua Klein, January 03, 2007