Search Results for:

BELLA UNION

The Trouble With Templeton

Someday, Buddy

In the two and a half years since the release of their last album ‘Rookie’, Brisbane’s The Trouble With Templeton have, says frontman Thomas Calder, been busy “breaking down and re-assembling what it means to make music for us.” On the evidence of the richly confident and clear-sighted ‘Someday, Buddy’, released through Bella Union, that time was well spent.

The full-bodied songs here can take the emphasis, no trouble. The Trouble With Templeton weren’t slouching on ‘Rookie’, where Calder and company wedded vibrant melodies and multifarious alt-rock flavours - epic, jangly, glam - to a core of emotive cogency. On ‘Someday, Buddy’, however, their personality emerges sharper and clearer. “Our goal was to make a record that is raw, bare and honest,” says Calder, a claim borne out by the incisive lyrics of the swelling ‘Sailor’ and lilting ‘Heavy Trouble’, where Calder’s falsetto dances over a tender indie folk backdrop.

Sometimes fragile, sometimes forceful, Calder’s voice remains a marvel on ‘Bad Mistake’, a combination of intricate verses and a huge chorus pitched somewhere between Pavement and Elliott Smith.  ‘Someday, Buddy’s recipe is one of slow burn songs harbouring great reserves of potency: the discreet neo glam swagger of ‘Complex Lips’, the sunburst chorus of ‘Vernon’, the gorgeous ripples of album highlight ‘1832’.

For The Trouble With Templeton, the album is the culmination of time spent refining the band’s qualities following extensive touring for ‘Rookie’. After taking time out to recharge their batteries, Calder, Ritchie Daniell (drums) and Sam Pankhurst (bass) recorded as a trio with help from their friend Matt Redlich; later, they were joined by another buddy, guitarist Jack Richardson. As a result, says Calder, the band’s bonds are “stronger than ever.” By the time ‘Someday, Buddy’ fades out with the understated confidence and poised beauty of ‘Sturdy Boy’ no one could doubt it.

TRACK LISTING

Sailor
Heavy Trouble
Bad Mistake
Complex Lips
Vernon
I Want Love
Double Life
1832
Sturdy Boy

Xylouris White are George Xylouris - a Cretan lute player who is part of a famous Greek musical family and one of Crete’s best-loved artists - and Jim White, drummer in legendary Australian instrumental band Dirty Three.

‘Black Peak’ pays testimony to both men’s remarkable histories. One of Crete’s best-loved artists, Xylouris is a scion of Greek musical royalty, a family from a mountain village near the Cave of Zeus, while Jim White has commanded international attention for more than two decades as part of Australia’s Dirty Three. Now New Yorkbased, White is often found collaborating with alt- A-listers such as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power and Smog.

TRACK LISTING

Black Peak
Forging
Hey, Musicians
Erotokritos (Opening)
Short Rhapsody
Pretty Kondilies
The Feast

Having announced themselves to the world with their acclaimed self-titled debut in 2014, Arc Iris return with their second album, ‘Moon Saloon’, released on Bella Union.

‘Moon Saloon’ constitutes a natural progression from the first album’s whimsical explorations. Produced by the group and mixed by electronic producer David Wrench of FKA Twigs and Caribou fame, the album showcases beat-heavy melodies and textural, grooveriding rhythms. It developed from the band’s distillations of musical influences, combining traditional elements with percussive structures and dense, beguiling harmonies.

In many ways this second album captures Arc Iris’ musical odyssey as a band. “It has a heavier sound, more intense,” says Arc Iris keyboardist Zach Tenorio- Miller, who makes liberal use of sampling in many of the songs. The group matches an unusual array of organic acoustic instruments with layered electronic sounds.

“Though they are only a three-piece, they have a large arsenal of sounds and sensibilities to work with, and they use every bit of it to make beautifully textured soundscapes difficult to box into any genre.” - Stereogum

TRACK LISTING

Kaleidoscope
Kingdom Come
Paint With The Sun
Pretending
She Arose
Lilly
Johnny
Saturation Brain
Rainy Days
Moon Saloon

Jambinai

A Hermitage

    South Korean trio Jambinai sound less like a band than a force of nature, fusing the full dramatic range of post rock dynamics to Korean folk roots to create an exhilarating, vivid and unique fusion.

    ‘A Hermitage’ is Jambinai’s first album for Bella Union, recorded in MOL Studio in the South Korean capital Seoul, where the trio also made their 2010 EP ‘Jambinai’ and 2012 album ‘Différance’.

    In Korean, ‘Hermitage’ translates as ‘Eun-Seo’: “it means person, or creature, who is hiding like a hermit, or undiscovered,” explains the band’s Bomi Kim. “This connects to Jambinai because most people don't know us yet, or they cannot imagine how our type of music fits together.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Encompassing elements of traditional Korean folk music within the realm of noisy post-rock doesn't sound like an easy proposition, but here it is handled with restraint and grace. Both driving and meditative, 'A Hermitage' spans the full dynamic spectrum : trad 'loud-quiet-loud' instrumental formula interspersed with dynamic plinky-plonky zithered folk. Intense and exciting.

    The Wilderness is the band’s sixth album, and first non-soundtrack effort since 2011’s ‘Take Care, Take Care, Take Care’. Arguably the most progressive instrumental rock album since EITS’ 2003 breakthrough ‘The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place’, The Wilderness is a bold, experimental work combining the singular song craft that has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and tickets with the cinematic sensibility that has elevated the band to the level of regard and demand its members enjoy as film composers (Lone Survivor, Manglehorn, Prince Avalanche, Friday Night Lights).

    The first Explosions In The Sky album not produced entirely by the band, The Wilderness features long time collaborator (and Grammy-winning producer) John Congleton in a co-producer role for the first time. The band's most ambitious songs to date branch into unexpected new dimensions accordingly - Exhibit A being “Disintegration Anxiety,” currently streaming on all platforms and available as an instant grat download with all pre-orders. With its cacophonous opening washes that ultimately resolve into a locked groove, “Disintegration Anxiety” marks the rock solid midpoint of an aggressively modern and forward-thinking work. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Expanding upon their trademark sound, much like fellow Texans This Will Destroy You ; Explosions In The Sky have encompassed, to great effect, elements of drone and electronica into their (still unmistakeable) post-rock sound. Distorted beats, crunchy snares, and dusty arpeggios atop soaring guitars and crackly synths. A vast departure for the band, but without endangering what makes them tick, The Wilderness is bold, brave, and brilliant.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Wilderness
    2. The Ecstatics
    3. Tangle Formations
    4. Logic Of A Dream
    5. Disintegration Anxiety
    6. Losing The Light
    7. Infinite Orbit
    8. Colors In Space
    9. Landing Cliffs

    Emmy The Great

    Second Love - Bonus Disc Edition

      BONUS DISC INFO: Emmy was born in Hong Kong to a Chinese mother and English father and spent most of her childhood there. She's always been a fan of UK/US music but there has also been a less conspicuous affection for South East Asian pop derived from her time in that past of the world. When she plays in Hong Kong she often throws in a couple of local songs sung in Cantonese. And on this bonus CD she has finally found the time to record some of her own songs in Cantonese and Mandarin. In the case of the latter admittedly with some help from her mother.

      Emmy The Great announces her highly anticipated third album ‘Second Love’, released on Bella Union.

      There is a distinct nod to her debut ‘First Love’ in terms of the storytelling that first impressed her lyrical and emotional dexterity upon so many. On ‘Second Love’, however, Emma-Lee Moss delves into the chambers of a human heart ever-connected to the glare of a nearby screen.

      This is an album imbued with modern sounds, a nod to new eras while maintaining the human warmth always associated with an Emmy The Great album. The songs are full of emotion and questioning, with the chatter of friends and collaborators ‘coded’ into the sonic landscape. These tender, glacial arrangements lead ‘Second Love’s exploration through a new world, filtered through technology.

      “In all the uncertainty,” Emmy concludes, “I couldn’t say for sure whether this is Utopia or Dystopia or something in between, but for some reason it only made me more certain of one thing: that, wherever we’re heading, we’re going to need music, and we’re going to need love. ‘Second Love’ not only helped me reach this conclusion, it led me to almost every good thing that has happened to me in the last three years.”

      The roll call of talent enlisted to assist Emmy The Great’s new albums is as impressive as the vision itself. Produced by Dave McCracken (Oh Land, Beyonce) and Ludwig Goransson (Haim, Childish Gambino) and mixed by Neil Comber (M.I.A.), the album features musicians from far and wide, including Tom Fleming (Wild Beasts) and Leo Abrahams (Pulp, Brian Eno).

      M. Ward returns with a stunning new album, ‘More Rain’, released on Bella Union. Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five albums with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters Of Folk.

      In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis and Carlos Forster as well as his own projects.

      M. Ward knows how to live with rain. Having spent the last decadeand- a-half based in the perennially damp Portland, Oregon, the singer-songwriter and producer has learned how to shine through the soggy gloom by simply embracing its inevitability. For Ward, there is inspiration in a dark sky and harmony in foreboding winds. With his new album ‘More Rain’ he has made a true gotta-stay-indoors, rainyseason record that looks upwards through the weather while reflecting on his past.

      “I think one of the biggest mysteries of America right now is this: How are we able to process unending bad news on Page One and then go about our lives the way the style section portrays us?” says Ward. “There must be a place in our brains that allows us to take a bird’s-eye view of humanity, and I think music is good at helping people - myself included - go to that place.”

      This album, Ward’s eighth solo affair, finds the artist picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012’s ‘A Wasteland Companion’. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, ‘More Rain’ finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include REM.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, kd lang, The Secret Sisters and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: More warm 50's/60's vibes from the golden voiced maestro. Another enveloping record where everything feels just right. Great songs, obviously.

      TRACK LISTING

      (More Rain)
      Pirate Dial
      Time Won’t Wait Up
      Confession
      I’m Listening (Child’s Theme)
      Girl From Conejo Valley
      Slow Driving Man
      You’re So Good To Me
      Temptation
      Phenomenon
      Little Nany
      I’m Going Higher

      Wild Nothing, aka Brooklyn-based musician Jake Tatum, released his debut album ‘Gemini’ in 2010 to critical acclaim. Five years on, with an equally impressive sophomore release and a series of EPs under his belt, Tatum is pleased to announce his third-studio album and self-proclaimed most “mature and honest” work to date, ‘Life Of Pause’.

      When Jack Tatum began work on ‘Life Of Pause’ he had fascinating ambitions. “I desperately wanted for this to be the kind of record that would displace me,” he says. “I’m terrified by the idea of being any one thing, or being of any one genre. And whether or not I accomplish that, I know that my only hope of getting there is to constantly reinvent. That reinvention doesn’t need to be drastic, but every new record has to have its own identity, and it has to have a separate set of goals from what came before.”

      ‘Life Of Pause’ is an exquisitely arranged and beautifully recorded collection of songs that marry the immediate with the indefinable. “I allowed myself to go down every route I could imagine even if it ended up not working for me,” he says. “I owe it to myself to take as many risks as possible. Songs are songs you have to allow yourself to be open to everything.”

      After a prolonged period of writing and experimentation recording took place over several weeks in both Los Angeles and Stockholm, with producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Beachwood Sparks) helping Tatum in his search for a more natural and organically textured sound. In Sweden, in a studio once owned by ABBA, they enlisted Peter, Bjorn & John drummer John Ericsson and fellow Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra veteran TK to contribute drums and marimba. In California, at Monahan’s home, Tatum collaborated with Medicine guitarist Brad Laner and a crew of saxophonists.

      From the hypnotic polyrhythms of ‘Reichpop’ to the sugary howl of ‘Japanese Alice’ to the hallucinogenic R&B of ‘A Woman’s Wisdom’, the result is a complete, fully immersive listening environment. “I just kept things really simple, writing as ideas came to me,” he says. “There’s definitely a different kind of ‘self’ in the picture this time around. There’s no real love lost, it’s much more a record of coming to terms and defining what it is that you have - your place, your relationships. I view every record as an opportunity to write better songs. At the end of the day it still sounds like me, just new.”

      TRACK LISTING

      Reichpop
      Lady Blue
      A Woman’s Wisdom
      Japanese Alice
      Life Of Pause
      Alien
      To Know You
      Adore
      TV Queen
      Whenever I
      Love Underneath
      My Thumb

      In 2013 MONEY released their debut album ‘The Shadow Of Heaven’, following a handful of concerts that felt more like communions in out-of-the-way venues, advertised by word-of-mouth only.

      Two years on, the new MONEY album, ‘Suicide Songs’, takes you deeper into their sound and vision. It feels more advanced and yet simpler, more perfected and yet more open. It is, by turns, a tender, barren, cavernous, smouldering, despairing and inspirational piece of work.

      Out of a renewed, richer palate of sound, a sense of greater self-belief has emerged. However, as its title suggests, ‘Suicide Songs’ doesn’t shirk from the emotional truths that birthed it. “I wanted the album to sound like it was ‘coming from death’ which is where these songs emerged,” Jamie explains. “Above all else, I’m just trying to project and portray a poetic truth. Suicide is about anonymity, to the point where you don’t exist, which I definitely feel in my songwriting and as a person. But rather than writing myself out of anonymity, I want to remain there, in this record at least.”

      TRACK LISTING

      I Am The Lord
      I’m Not Here
      You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky
      Night Came
      Suicide Song
      Hopeless World
      I’ll Be The Night
      All My Life
      A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year

      Billie Lindahl, the woman behind the name Promise & The Monster, brings a vivid landscape to life on ‘Feed The Fire’, her first album for Bella Union.

      ‘Feed The Fire’ was recorded in Stockholm, where Lindahl lives, at Labyrint, a small basement studio run by her friend Love Martinsen who produced the ‘Feed The Fire’ album and shares most of the instrumentation with Lindahl. “We aimed at combining the elegance of old Sixties recordings with something darker and more mechanical,” she recalls. “Like you would play a Lee Hazlewood song on top of Nico’s late Eighties records.”

      Duality sits at the core of ‘Feed The Fire’, likewise the name Promise & The Monster. “To feed the fire can be seen as both constructive and destructive,” Lindahl concludes. “You keep the fire burning, the spark alive. But fire can kill you. To see, listen and feel is quite a violent and confusing experience, and I think my lyrics often evolve around that, blurring boundaries between dream and reality, and between sanity and insanity.”

      TRACK LISTING

      Feed The Fire
      Hunter
      Time Of The Season
      Slow And Quiet
      Apartments Song
      Julingvallen
      Hammering The Nails
      The Weight Of It All
      Machines
      Fine Horseman

      Lanterns On The Lake

      Beings

        Two years on from the critically acclaimed Until The Colours Run, Lanterns On The Lake return with their third full-length record Beings. It marks another leap in the band’s development as they expand their range, pushing the envelope of their signature atmospheric rock and scaling new heights of absorbing song-craft.

        Work on Beings began in February 2014, hard on the heels of successful tours of Europe and North America. It proved to be a productive period. “The ideas came effortlessly and in abundance,” vocalist Hazel Wilde says of the writing process. “At first we had no expectations, no prescribed ideas of how we wanted the songs to turn out. We were just writing and playing together because that’s what we’d always done.”

        This was made possible by their setup, working in splendid isolation; writing, rehearsing and recording in their Newcastle rehearsal room meant the results were undiluted by outside influence. Imaginatively produced and mixed by guitarist Paul Gregory, it’s also his experience that helped yield such compelling results. This allows Beings to move seamlessly from airy, chiming beauty to dense, forbidding soundscapes - sometimes in the same song - while still feeling like the product of a cohesive unit, retaining the band’s spark. “We wanted it to be more raw,” Wilde says of the record. “At its darkest points, we wanted it to feel like you’d dived into the deepest part our dreams and were taking a look around. At its lightest we wanted it to feel like you were coming up for air.”

        Opening song ‘Of Dust and Matter’ strikes just such a balance. The band’s most sinister moment yet, it prowls out of a burble of radio static and feedback, propelled by ominous piano chords as its menacing pulse builds to a tumbling climax of almost discordant, warped guitar parts and the fractured drumming of Ol Ketteringham. “In my greatness I vowed to destroy all I am,” Wilde sings. “It brings out the best in me.”

        It’s an interesting early lyric, and it soon becomes apparent that this is a braver, more headstrong Lanterns on the Lake, a band now less about floating on water than racing across land, eager and with points to prove. Often their melancholy necessarily turns to action. “Fractured lives like faultlines, unto the breach my friends if you will” is Wilde’s call to arms on ‘Faultlines’, a critique of austerity, as the band turn in a cavalry charge with her voice as the clarion call.

        Wilde's lyrics also shudder with evocative and often surprisingly dark imagery in songs that attempt to understand the world around her, built from charged moments of universal insight. “There is a sense of the need to connect to something; the need to find meaning,” she says of the material. “There’s such frustrating injustice in the world, yet this feels like a time of disconnection where we’re encouraged to celebrate the shallow side of culture. This record carries that sense of yearning for something greater.”

        This gives Beings immediacy, depth and resonance as it touches on community, love, culture, politics and self-examination, and our own place and limitations within each. “I want to walk with the brave, give me a good day, I want to feel human” Wilde sings on the graceful ‘I’ll Stall Them’, exploring the importance of connection, kinship and reconciliation.

        Beings is the engrossing product of a band operating in total harmony to the point where their music creates its own idiosyncratic world whilst also distilling outside concerns into it. The horizons open to Lanterns on the Lake are now as broad as the sweep of these beautiful songs.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Andy says: Starker, darker but still really beutiful, the Lanterns'third is an engrossing listen.

        Beach House

        Thank Your Lucky Stars

          Less than 2 months after the release of 2015′s much celebrated 'Depression Cherry', Beach House will grace us all with their sixth full length LP titled 'Thank Your Lucky Stars'. 


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: Beach House wowed us this year with their gorgeous comeback LP "Depression Cherry" and now, only 2 months later, they do something fairly unique in pop by releasing a second, brand new collection. This is not an odds'n'sods out-takes jobby. This is a just as brilliant sister record, totally beautiful in it's own right, but with an even better sleeve! Swoon again.

          TRACK LISTING

          Majorette
          She's So Lovely
          All Your Yeahs
          One Thing
          Common Girl
          The Traveller
          Elegy To The Void
          Rough Song
          Somewhere Tonight 

          It’s been the most spectacular of journeys, from a place in time when John Grant feared he’d never make music again, to winning awards, accolades and Top 20 chart positions, collaborating with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Goldfrapp and Elton John, as well as a Best International Male Solo Artist nomination at the 2014 BRITS Awards.

          Now comes Grant’s third album, the invitingly titled Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, a veritable tour-de-force that further refines and entwines his two principal strands of musical DNA, the sumptuous tempered ballad and the taut, fizzing electronic pop song. There are newer musical accomplishments across its panoply of towering sound, like the title track’s new steely demeanour, while the ominous drama of “Black Blizzard” echoes both John Carpenter and Bernard ‘Black Devil Disco Club’ Fevre’s beautiful and icy synthscapes. The contagious, gleeful “You And Him” marries buzzing rock with a squelchy electronic undertow, while orchestral drama swathes the bad-dreamy “Global Warming” and the album’s gorgeously aching widescreen finale “Geraldine”.

          Grey Tickles, Black Pressure was recorded in Dallas with producer John Congleton (St Vincent, Franz Ferdinand, Swans) - coincidentally the same state of Texas where Grant nailed his 2010 solo debut Queen Of Denmark in the company of Denton’s wondrous Midlake. After that landmark return, which MOJO made its album of 2010, 2013’s Pale Green Ghosts was made in Icelandic capital Reykjavik (where Grant has lived ever since), which entered the UK Top 20 in its first week and ended up as Rough Trade Shop’s Album of the Year 2013, The Guardian’s No.2 and in MOJO and Uncut’s Top Five). Such recognition, iced by years of sell-out shows across Europe and a recent US tour as special invited guest of the Pixies, should allow the notoriously self-critical and insecure Grant the passing thought that Grey Tickles, Black Pressure will deservedly cement his reputation as the most disarmingly honest, caustic, profound and funny diarist of the human condition in the persistently testing, even tragic, era that is the 21st century.

          “I do think the album’s great, and I’m really proud of it,” he says. “I wanted to get moodier and angrier on this record, but I probably had a lot more fun making it.” He cites “amazing” session keyboardist Bobby Sparks, “who really funked things up,” as part of that fun; likewise a month of Dallas sunshine “after a brutal dark winter in Iceland. And there was a lot of laughter.”

          That said, fun isn’t the first ingredient you’d expect when you know the roots of the album title. “‘Grey tickles’ is the literal translation from Icelandic for ‘mid-life crisis’, while ‘black pressure’ is the direct translation from Turkish for ‘nightmare’,” Grant explains, an unusually gifted linguist (he’s fluent in German, Russian and now tackling Icelandic).

          Nevertheless, there are plenty of positive streaks in Grey Tickles, Black Pressure. Grant, for one, is in fabulous voice throughout and has moved on from the specific subject matter that shaped both previous albums (though the concept of love always figures into the mix). “Disappointing” – featuring vocal guest Tracey Thorne – is an exuberant tribute to new love, against which Grant’s favourite Saturday Night Live comediennes, Russian artists and “ballet dancers with or without tights” pale in comparison. The album’s other two guests are vocalist Amanda Palmer and former Banshees drummer Budgie.

          But the end result is indeed a moody, angry record, laced with levering humour and wounded pathos, yet as dark as Reykjavik in February. It starts and ends with spoken word snippets called, simply, “Intro” and “Outro”, both taken from the same Biblical quote (from 1 Corinthians 13) regarding the divinity of love that young John was taught in church. In between are 12 songs that document the reality of love on planet Earth, corrupted by “pain, misunderstandings, jealousy, objectification and expectations,” as Grant puts it.

          The album’s last two songs are among its finest. “No More Tangles” fights against co-dependency “with narcissistic queers,” he sings, through the metaphor of hair care products. “It’s about not apologizing for who you are and not putting up with unnecessary bullshit from people who do not care about you”. But in “Geraldine” (as in the late Geraldine Paige, “one of freakiest, strongest, coolest actresses I’ve come across”), Grant’s latest actor-inspired song is Grant’s chance to ask her if she too had to “put up with this shit” that life dishes out.

          So Grant still manages to keep fighting the good fight, and writing his way out of trouble with another fantastic record. “I want to continue to challenge myself,” he says. “To keep collaborating, to get the sound or the direction that will take me where I need to go. To keep taking the bull by the horns.” 

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: Lush, deep production bringing throbbing electronics further to the fore, which when married to Grant's enormo ballads and hilarious lyrics, make this John's most complete album yet.

          TRACK LISTING

          1. Intro
          2. Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
          3. Snug Slacks
          4. Guess How I Know
          5. You & Him
          6. Down Here
          7. Voodoo Doll
          8. Global Warming
          9. Magma Arrives
          10. Black Blizzard
          11. Disappointing
          12. No More Tangles
          13. Geraldine
          14. Outro

          As Mercury Rev began recording their eighth studio album in autumn 2013, when asked what people could expect, co-pilot Grasshopper responded, “Steel Resonator Mandolin. Timpani. Sleigh Bells. All sorts of electric guitars…..” He subsequently added, “It is the best stuff we have done in a long, long time. Gonna be big sounding!”

          Two years on, The Light In You more than lives up to its billing. The record is filled with wondrous and voluminous kaleidoscopic detail, but also intimate moments of calm, and altogether stands up to the very best that this notable band of maverick explorers has ever created. Its ecstatic highs and shivery comedowns also reflect a particularly turbulent era in the lives of Grasshopper and fellow co-founder Jonathan Donahue, of calamities both personal and physical, but also rebirths and real births (Grasshopper became a father for the first time in 2014). There's a reason for the seven-year gap since the band's last album, Snowflake Midnight.

          “It was one of those otherworldly life sequences, when everything you think is solid turns molten,” explains Jonathan. “But also, when something is worth saying, it can take a long time to say it, rather than just blurt it out.”

          As well as The Light In You being the first Mercury Rev album with Bella Union, it’s also the first with only Jonathan and Grasshopper at the controls, as scheduling conflicts and travel between the Catskills and Dave Fridmann's Tarbox studio became too great to overcome. On The Light In You, Jonathan and Grasshopper decided they were best served being based at home in the Catskills for once. Surrounded by longtime friends such as engineer Scott Petito and bassist Anthony Molina, Jonathan and Grasshopper quickly found their stride recording themselves in their own basement studio as well as venturing out into the daylight to record tracks at some of their old haunts like NRS and White Light Studios. The two even found time to arrange backing vocal harmonies and record with Ken Stringfellow at his studio Son du Blé studios in Paris.

          Yet from its title down, the album clearly reflects the core relationship between Jonathan and Grasshopper, best friends since they were teenagers, who accompanied each other through the musical changes, band fractures and exulted breakthroughs that has marked Mercury Rev’s career since they emerged with the extraordinary Yerself Is Steam in 1991.

          “You can go as deep as you want with the title, on a metaphorical, spiritual level, or just poetic license,” Jonathan suggests. “It’s the beacon that shines and allows us to see ourselves – and then there’s the music between Grasshopper and I, which is how we reflect each other. The arc of the album, lyrically, is someone who’s gone through an incredible period of turbulence, sadness and uncertainty, and as the album progresses, a light appears on the water.”

          The album’s track-listing follows a similar trajectory, from the opening slow-build cascade of ‘The Queen Of Swans’, through the epic lonely beauty of ‘Central Park East’ and the album’s half-way peak between ‘Emotional Freefall’ and ‘Are You Ready’ before the closing sequence, with the exhilarating pop beacons of ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Rainy Day Record’ sandwiching the more tranquil ‘Moth Light’. The light is reflected both by the album’s brilliantine colours and imagery drawn largely from the elements and the seasons, creating a world as only Mercury Rev know how. “It’s like taking a drug, but not actually taking a drug,” Grasshopper reckons. “Just sit back and enter and immerse yourself.”

          Since Snowflake Midnight, Jonathan and Grasshopper have stayed productive, for example with their improvised collective, Mercury Rev's Cinematic Sound Tettix BrainWave Concerto Experiment at John Zorn's club in NYC, creating live soundtracks to favourite films at various junctures across Europe (most recently in London as part of Swans’ Mouth To Mouth festival in 2014). There were also occasional festival shows such as headlining 2014’s Green Man festival to celebrate the deluxe version of 1998 opus Deserter’s Songs.

          “Playing tracks again from Deserter’s Songs helped us look at where we’ve been, and where we were going,” says Grasshopper. “Though by no means did we want to make Deserter’s Songs Two, we did feel we had some loose ends to tie up.”As Grasshopper once commented about Deserter’s Songs, “It’s special because that was the one that brought us back from the brink.” The Light In You is special for that very same reason.

          STAFF COMMENTS

          Andy says: Mercury Rev bin the glacial electronics and return to splendor with the sweeping, multi-layered, enchanted sounds of their classic Deserter Songs period.

          TRACK LISTING

          The Queen Of Swans
          Amelie
          You've Gone With So Little For So Long
          Central Park East
          Emotional Freefall
          Coming Up For Air
          Autumn's In The Air
          Are You Ready?
          Sunflower
          Moth Light
          Rainy Day Record

          Ezra Furman

          Perpetual Motion People

            ‘Perpetual Motion People’, Ezra Furman’s first album for Bella Union, offers a cascade of memorably bristling hooks driven by a unique splicing of timeless influences, delivered with a restless urgency and combative spirit that shines through the American’s vocals and lyrics.

            TRACK LISTING

            Restless Year
            Lousy Connection
            Hark! To The Music
            Haunted Head
            Hour Of Deepest Need
            Wobbly
            Ordinary Life
            Tip Of A Match
            Body Was Made
            Watch You Go By
            Pot Holes
            Can I Sleep In Your Brain
            One Day I Will Sin No More

            Pins grabbed everyones attention with the raw energy of their debut album "Girls Like Us", which they self recorded live in the studio in Liverpool. 

            On their second album they've stepped things up a little, heading off to Joshua Tree and Rancho De La Luna with Dave Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal). And boy can you tell the difference! There's still plenty of Manchester grime in there as you'd hope: the guitars buzz and the drums pound but the sound is somehow crisper and the melodies more succinct.

            A real leap forward for Manchester's favourite girl gang.



            TRACK LISTING

            Baby Bhangs
            Young Girls
            Curse These Dreams
            Oh Lord
            Dazed By You
            Got It Bad
            Too Little Too Late
            House Of Love
            If Only
            Molly
            Everyone Says 

            Hannah Cohen

            Pleasure Boy

            Music often comes from a deep place, and in the case of Hannah Cohen’s stunning and heartrending second album, it’s very deep indeed. Mainly inspired by a painful break-up and the anxieties that loss can trigger, Pleasure Boy cushions its sadness in an exquisitely nuanced soundscape of aching melancholy and lush melody where Hannah’s vocal conveys all the different shades of heartbreak. Following the album’s completion, she’s survived the calamity and found a new level of happiness, but to paraphrase the classic Sixties hit, there will always be something there to remind her with Pleasure Boy.

            ‘Pleasure Boy’, like her debut ‘Child Bride’, was produced by Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, whose work with artists such as The National, Antony Hegarty and David Byrne singles him out as one of America’s current finest producers and collaborators, though he’s also a talented pianist. The dynamics of ‘Pleasure Boy’ was the result of Hannah and Bartlett, “bunkering down with my songs, experimenting with different tones and sounds, and layering them. My first record was so airy and roomy, I didn’t have patience for that again, I wanted more movement, something more mysterious and witchier, so we created this sound wall together.”

            “I wanted the music to hurt, to have a visceral effect,” Hannah says. Her voice sometimes sounds delirious or icy; other times she recalls the vulnerable, piercing beauty of Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) and Karen Peris (The Innocence Mission). But Pleasure Boy‘s sound wouldn’t exist without the vision that launched it. The album title arrived as the record took shape. “Pleasure Boy is a character of who it’s about, someone who represents gluttony and decadence and richness,” Hannah explains. She admits it was a tough record to make, given she was aiming to heal emotionally while feeling “devastated and hurt. But it wouldn’t be the record it is if I hadn’t done that.”

            TRACK LISTING

            1 Keepsake
            2 Lilacs
            3 Watching You Fall
            4 Fake It
            5 Claremont
            6 Queen Of Ice
            7 Just Take The Rest
            8 Baby

            STANDARD VINYL EDITION, with a gatefold jacket with black vinyl and fold-out poster, featuring a collage of Emma Tillman’s intimate photos, designed by Alia Penner and an extensive “Exercises for Listening” written by Josh Tillman

            CD EDITION, which includes fold-out poster, featuring a collage of Emma Tillman’s intimate photos, designed by Alia Penner and an extensive “Exercises for Listening” written by Josh Tillman

            'I Love You, Honeybear' is the highly-anticipated follow up to his acclaimed debut, Fear Fun. The album, featuring “Bored In The USA,” “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins),” “True Affection,” and the title track, was produced by Josh Tillman and Jonathan Wilson, mixed by Phil Ek, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. 

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Andy says: Americana's answer to Jarvis Cocker, Josh Tillman uses his FJM persona to tease and torment (and behave like the coolest, sexiest, superstar ever!) whilst behind the guise casually writing some of this year's greatest songs! It's a superb record and a huge hit.

            TRACK LISTING

            01 I Love You, Honeybear
            02 Chateau Lobby #4 (in C For Two Virgins)
            03 True Affection
            04 The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.
            05 When You’re Smiling And Astride Me
            06 Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow
            07 Strange Encounter
            08 The Ideal Husband
            09 Bored In The USA
            10 Holy Shit
            11 I Went To The Store One Day

            BC Camplight

            How To Die In The North

              Lost treasure needn’t be found in the distant past; the 21st century hides many artists who disappeared into the great wide yonder. BC Camplight is one such example. The alter-ego of American songwriter Brian Christinzio released albums in 2005 and 2007, both gems of a certain psych-pop vintage, combining eloquent songwriting with a self-destructive bent. Christinzio certainly knew it – he’s described himself as, “the guy who blew it.”

              But this sublime talent with the keening vocal and fearless approach to lyrical introspection has another chance. His new album ‘How To Die In The North’, recorded in his newly adopted home of Manchester, England, is a fantastically rich, stylistically diverse trip. From dramatic, layered pop to a haunted take on Sixties sunshine-pop, from blue-eyed soul to speedy surf-pop, from sparser piano balladry to psychedelic showstoppers and a grand finale that’s part Nilsson and part Broadway showtune.

              Originally from New Jersey, Christinzio started playing piano aged just four, inspired by his mum’s Jerry Lee Lewis and Nilsson records and his Dad’s classical collection. Depression and crippling hypochondria clashed with captaining the football team and a penchant for boxing. Post-school, he fell in with people, “willing to go through shit to be a musician,” which saw him relocate to Philadelphia where he occasionally played live with Philly faves The War On Drugs and guested on Sharon Van Etten’s album ‘Epic’.

              He’s already done two sessions for long-term fan Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music, which featured Christinzio’s band of Mancunians who he met at The Castle Hotel pub, a watering hole in the city centre particularly popular with musicians. Christinzio also heard John Grant’s album on the jukebox there, which encouraged him to approach Bella Union. Grant’s cocktail of depression and self-sabotage thwarted an outrageous talent, but he took his second chance. The same deserves to happen to Christinzio, a similarly outsize, sharp and funny personality with a non-conformist streak. Far from dying, BC Camplight has been reborn in the North!

              John Grant And The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

              Live In Concert

                Early October saw John Grant turn in a truly fabulous performance as part of the BBC Philharmonic Presents Series which was broadcast across 6Music and other BBC networks. This one-off live recording saw John performing much of his celebrated catalogue with the 60-piece BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, with arrangements by his long-time collaborator Fiona Brice.

                So good was the performance, and also in response to public demand, Bella Union are delighted to announce that the recording will be released in a few weeks time on 1st December. The recording should also serve as a memento (of sorts) for John's upcoming sold-out orchestral tour with the Royal Northern Sinfonia which will see him performing in some of the UK's most prestigious venues.

                TRACK LISTING

                It Doesn’t Matter To Him
                Sigourney Weaver
                Vietnam
                Marz
                Fireflies
                Where Dreams Go To Die
                Caramel
                Glacier
                T C & Honeybear
                It’s Easier
                GMF
                Pale Green Ghosts
                Outer Space
                You Don’t Have To
                Drug
                Queen Of Denmark

                The Flaming Lips

                With A Little Help From My Fwends

                  'With A Little Help from My Fwends' is the fourteenth studio album by The Flaming Lips. It is a track-for-track tribute to The Beatles album 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' and features, as you'd imagine a whole host of musical 'fwends'.

                  Ballet School

                  The Dew Lasts An Hour

                  A fresh, vibrant take on the lush, emoting tropes of Eighties pop and rock but sounding resolutely 21st Century.

                  ‘The Dew Lasts An Hour’s diverse influences place Ballet School at the forefront of pop’s new alternative.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  ‘The Dew Lasts An Hour’
                  Slow Dream
                  Pale Saint
                  Ghost
                  Heliconia
                  Lux
                  Gray
                  Heartbeat Overdrive
                  Cherish
                  Jade
                  All Things Return At
                  Night
                  Yaoi
                  Crush (Alternative)

                  Bonus CD (BELLA453CDX ONLY)
                  Sara
                  Boys Again
                  Afterglow
                  Parisina
                  Day Off School
                  Heartbeat Underdrive

                  Electric Wurms is the new side-project from Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips.

                  This is the first of what could be endless communicated sound stories. It is titled Musik, Die Schwer Zu Twerk, which predicted this modern day dance move by almost forty years ago. Some of it is indeed hard to twerk to but some of it, is not. There is a particular track called Transform!!! that closely resembles a drug fuelled boogie freak rock track by Miles Davis. Another verse Heart Of The Sunrise sounds vaguely like a song by the prog folk group Yes. Of course Yes also turned themselves into space ships so it's no wonder these songs share a similar vibe.

                  The ensemble leans toward a hypnotic mood for most of the space bible readings. It is a scary truth that we are hearing and then forced to ponder. The pulsating poem Living states… "live as if you were living already for the second time. And that you had acted wrong the first time". So they call themselves Electric Würms after the greatest of the super freaks. But they are not a super-group. They are like Sherpas climbing with you. To help you. To love you. All the secrets that they know they tell you. That's what love is.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. I Could Only See Clouds
                  2. Futuristic Hallucination
                  3. The Bat
                  4. Living
                  5. Transform!!!
                  6. Heart Of The Sunrise

                  The Flaming Lips

                  7 Skies H3

                    In 2011 The Flaming Lips released a 24-hour song called ‘7 Skies H3’, packaged inside a real human skull sold for $5,000 and was made available to stream on a dedicated website ever since.

                    Now, for the first time, a 50 minute remastered distillation of this epic song is available on CD and digital download.

                    Produced by The Flaming Lips, Dave Fridmann and Scott Booker.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    7 Skies H3 (Can’t Shut Off My Head)
                    Celestial Trance
                    Battling Voices From Beyond
                    In A Dream
                    Metamorphosis
                    Requiem
                    Meepy Morp (Reprise)
                    Riot In My Brain!!
                    7 Skies H3 (Main Theme)
                    Can’t Let It Go

                    Already a huge success in Australia, The Trouble With Templeton is the creation of singer / songwriter Thomas Calder, a 23-year-old wunderkind who formed the band in 2011. The following year saw TTWT expand to a 5-piece, the new members complimenting Calder’s emotive vocals and songwriting with a collaborative, selfassured sound.

                    Adventurous, eccentric and stunningly melodic, ‘Rookie’ is an album that leaves a distinct musical impression. With their debut release The Trouble With Templeton have crafted a record full of warmth and heart, whilst displaying a willingness to make music that’s not afraid to affect or surprise.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    Whimpering Child
                    You Are New
                    Heavy Lifting
                    Like A Kid
                    Six Months In A Cast
                    Climate
                    I Recorded You
                    Flowers In Bloom
                    Secret Pastures
                    Soldiers
                    Glue
                    Lint

                    Horse Thief are purveyors of a panoramic yet nuanced sound, flowing from intimate to anthemic, the mood from vibrant to contemplative, with frontman Cameron Neal’s lyrics ranging from confessional to metaphorical. The result evokes the wide-open spaces of America’s Midwest but infuses the sense of grit and wonderment with edgier emotions.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    Intro
                    I Don’t Mind
                    Human Geographer
                    Devil
                    Holding On
                    Already Dead
                    Little Dust
                    Dead Drum
                    Let Go
                    Come On
                    Warm Regards

                    Marissa Nadler

                    July

                      Marissa Nadler lays the listener - and herself - on the line with ‘July’, her sixth full-length album in nearly a decade.

                      Recorded at Seattle’s Avast Studio, the album pairs Nadler for the first time with producer Randall Dunn (Earth, Sunn O))), Wolves In The Throne Room). Dunn matches Nadler’s darkness by creating a multi-coloured sonic palette that infuses new dimensions into her songs.

                      Eyvand Kang’s strings, Steve Moore’s synths and Phil Wandscher’s guitar lines escalate the whole affair to a panoramic level of beautiful, eerie wonder. The results are astonishing and occasionally reminiscent of David Lynch.

                      The impulse that drove artists such as Suicide, Einstürzende Neubauten and Scott Walker to embark on extraordinary and uncompromising journeys, refusing to flinch in the face of humanity’s ugly truths and terrible beauty, also underpins the sound and vision of Xiu Xiu, aka LAbased duo Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo.

                      ‘Angel Guts: Red Classroom’ is the sound of Xiu Xiu’s descent into the deepest blackness endurable.

                      TRACK LISTING

                      Angel’s Guts
                      Archie Fades
                      Stupid In The Dark
                      Lawrence Liquors
                      Black Dick
                      New Life Immigration
                      El Naco
                      Adult Friends
                      The Silver Platter
                      Bitter Melon
                      A Knife In The Sun
                      Cynthya's Unisex
                      Botanica De Los Angeles
                      Red Classroom

                      Jonathan Wilson

                      Fanfare

                        With 2011’s critically-lauded ‘Gentle Spirit’, audiences worldwide were introduced to the prodigious talents of singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and unrivalled guitar hero Jonathan Wilson.

                        The eagerly-awaited follow-up, ‘Fanfare’, is an even more ambitious production that instantly conjures thoughts of Dennis Wilson’s ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’.

                        STAFF COMMENTS

                        Andy says: Even better than his last one, Jonathan brings early to mid seventies West Coast vibes right back to life, this time adding Denis Wilson and Pink Floyd flavours to his heady, cosmic broth. Incredible.

                        Roy Harper

                        Man & Myth

                          Roy Harper’s first studio album in 13 years.

                          ‘Man & Myth’ isn’t just proof that one of the leading, most erudite and passionate orators of the British folk rock renaissance hasn’t lost an iota of his gifts; it’s also timely evidence for anyone who has wondered why so many musical luminaries have been lining up to praise this enigmatic and legendary singer songwriter.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Andy says: With the incredible Jonathan Wilson co-producing, this record puts Roy back where he should be. A poet, a mystic, a master of melody.

                          MONEY release their debut album The Shadow of Heaven on 26th August via Bella Union Records. Recorded in London through the deep, dark winter of 2012/13, it’s an ethereal, transcendent record that’s notable for its musical and intellectual ambition. Though ambition is perhaps not quite the right word. Because MONEY would never talk about ambition. Such things don’t sit well with them. They’d talk about anti-ambition and the revision of existing values — the kind of bold gesture already signalled by their unabashedly iconic name. It’s an album that defies convention and cliché, asking us instead to be courageous enough to see the world in different ways. As lead singer and ideologue Jamie Lee says, ‘Our aim with this band — in all things we do — is to create the world afresh on our own terms.’

                          MONEY are Jamie Lee, Charlie Cocksedge, Billy Byron and Scott Beaman. Having formed in Manchester amidst a prolific underground milieu, they soon came to embody the passion, creativity and optimism of a new generation of artists and musicians who found themselves presented with what Jamie describes as ‘an extraordinary, poetic city’. MONEY played shows in esoteric venues such as Salford's Sacred Trinity Church and ‘the Bunker', a former factory near Strangeways Prison and home to the cult independent label SWAYS, who released the band’s debut 7” single, ‘Who’s Going to Love You Now’ / ‘Goodnight London’ to wide acclaim. Having been tracked down by Simon Raymonde, the band subsequently signed to Bella Union, headlining the label's Christmas party at the Union Chapel before taking to the studio to record 'The Shadow of Heaven'.

                          The album consists of ten songs that range from stripped-back piano ballads such as ‘Goodnight London’ and ‘The Cruelty of Godliness’ to the more epic ‘Hold Me Forever’ and ‘Bluebell Fields’. Rooted in universal themes of the spirit, love and loss, the album also addresses man’s condition in the modern world, issues ‘such as isolation and mental health as logical reactions to it', says Jamie. It’s an album full of yearning and soul-searching, a voyage of (non-) discovery that only ends up finding itself and the sheer, aching beauty of questions asked in full knowledge of their own answerlessness. It’s metaphysics for the modern age, which might not be quite as spiritually bankrupt and bereft of meaning as we once believed.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          Andy says: There's always been a buzz around this band. This passionate debut album totally justifies it. Today: Piccadilly Records, tomorrow The World?!

                          John Grant

                          Pale Green Ghosts

                            After a breakthrough year that saw his exceptional solo debut "Queen Of Denmark" win MOJO’s album of 2010 and countless other accolades John Grant hasn’t rested on his laurels but created a follow-up that underlines his uncanny and charismatic talents. Recorded in Iceland and featuring Sinead O’Connor on guest vocals, the brilliant "Pale Green Ghosts" adds sublime notes of dark, gleaming electronica to the anticipated velveteen ballads, calling on all of Grant’s influences and tastes, presenting an artist at the peak of his powers.

                            It’s been an extraordinary journey for John Grant, from a point where he thought he would never make music again or escape a life of substance abuse to winning awards and accolades, collaborating with Sinead O’Connor, Rumer and Hercules & Love Affair and having his music featured in the award-winning film Weekend.

                            It’s a journey that’s taken him from his birthplace in Buchanan, Michigan to be raised in Parker, Colorado, studying languages in Germany and, after his band The Czars split up, basing himself in New York, London, Berlin and, most recently, Iceland, where the bulk of Pale Green Ghosts was recorded. It’s also been a journey from The Czars’ folk/country noir to the lush ‘70s FM alchemy of Queen Of Denmark to the astonishing fusion of sounds that lifts Pale Green Ghosts to even giddier heights.

                            As if to acknowledge his journey, Grant has named the album after the opening title track, which documents the drives that he’d regularly take through the ‘80s, from Parker to the nearby metropolis of Denver, to the new wave dance clubs that have inspired the electronic elements of Pale Green Ghosts, and later on to visit the boyfriend - the ‘TC’ of Queen Of Denmark’s ‘TC & Honeybear’ - that inspired many of that album’s heartbreaking scenarios.

                            “I’d take the I-25, between Denver and Boulder, which was lined with all these Russian olive trees, which are the pale green ghosts of the title: they have this tiny leaves with silver on the back, which glow in the moonlight,” Grant explains. “The song is about wanting to get out of a small town, to go out into the world and become someone and made my mark.”

                            That Grant has made his mark is blatantly clear from how Queen Of Denmark was rapturously received. “Like a couple of similarly intense classics before it – Antony & The Johnsons’ I Am A Bird Now and Bon Iver’s For Emma… Queen Of Denmark sounds like a record its creator has been waiting his whole life to make,” MOJO concluded. Another measure of achievement, and the journey, is that one classic that Grant first heard in those new wave clubs was Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Mandinka’. Two decades later, O’Connor has not only covered the title track of ‘Queen Of Denmark’ on her latest album How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, but supplies goose-bumping backing vocals on Pale Green Ghosts.

                            Sinead’s presence is a surprise, but not compared to the album’s portion of synthesisers and beats – unless you already know Grant’s enduring love of vintage synth-pop and industrial dance, and more current electronic acts such as Trentemøller and Mock & Toof. “Electronica is a huge part of my personality and my influences, though I don’t think many people see that fitting in to the John Grant image, whatever that is,” he says. There were occasional electronic undertows to Czars songs and two tracks (‘That’s the Good News’ and ‘Supernatural Defibrillator"’) on the deluxe edition of Queen Of Denmark were dance tracks.

                            One of those prime influences has even produced Pale Green Ghosts with Grant: Birgir Þórarinsson, a.k.a. Biggi Veira, of Iceland’s electronic pioneers Gus Gus. Queen of Denmark had been recorded in Texas with fellow Bella Union mates Midlake as his backing band, and Grant intended to return there to record again with the band’s rhythm section of McKenzie Smith and Paul Alexander. But a trip beforehand to see more of Iceland, after he’d first played the Iceland Airwaves festival in 2011, led to meeting Biggi, who invited Grant to his studio in Reykjavik. The two tracks the pair recorded – ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ and ‘Black Belt’ – convinced Grant he had to make the entire record there.

                            If Queen Of Denmark is Grant’s ‘70s album, channeling the spirits of Karen Carpenter and Bread, then Pale Green Ghosts is his ’80s album. Of the electronic tracks, the title track is a panoramic, brooding classic, while ‘Sensitive New Age Guy’ and ‘Black Belt’ are the tracks that you might dance to in new wave clubs. ‘You Don’t Have To’ is a classic example of Grant’s influences blending together, in a reworked arrangement of a track unveiled during concert tours in 2011. It also features the distinct spacey Moog sounds that are familiar to lovers of Queen Of Denmark, while McKenzie and Alexander play on ‘Vietnam’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter To Him’. Grant’s touring partner, keyboardist Chris Pemberton, plays the gorgeous piano coda on the album’s tumultuous finale ‘Glacier’.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Pale Green Ghosts
                            2. Black Belt
                            3. GMF
                            4. Vietnam
                            5. It Doesn’t Matter To Him
                            6. Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore
                            7. You Don’t Have To
                            8. Sensitive New Age Guy
                            9. Ernest Borgnine
                            10. I Hate This Town
                            11. Glacier

                            Fusing youthful exuberance with an artistic prowess far beyond their years, Concrete Knives are a band who have illuminated stages around Europe with their unique blend of resonating guitars, elaborate melodies, charging, pounding rhythms and euphoric collective vocals - an enticing and exciting mixture which unfailingly attracts the undivided attention of all who fall into their path. Now, this lauded Normandy outfit are set to unleash their highly anticipated debut album upon the world. Be Your Own King is a collection of tracks harnessing the inspired spirit, the mindset and the powerful energy of this group of Caen natives, which comprises the talents of Nicolas Delahaye, Morgane Colas, Adrien Lepretre, Augustin Hauville and Guillaume Aubertin.

                            Be Your Own King is much more than just an album title, it’s a philosophy. It’s an attitude, a call to arms, an instruction to confront the world in your own way, to realise your ambitions, and to have the time of your life while doing so. It’s an album whose songs fly the flag of all that Concrete Knives stand for, and a record which brandishes explosive dynamics, playful hooks, powerful, pulsating bass lines as well as an all important angular pop pinch.

                            "Our songs are pretty independent from each other, and from the moment they're born - generally from the mind of Nicolas - they hold a mystery that we need to take the time to solve,” explains vocalist Morgane Colas. “I really believe that the songs are born as mysterious and inaccessible, and that our job is to give them a sense that's faithful to their essence."

                            Working alongside Parisian production and writing stalwart Dan Levy of The Dø on "Bornholmer", "Greyhound Racing & Wild Gun man", on Be Your Own King, Concrete Knives have harnessed the unadulterated passion that floods their touted live show, and shaped and moulded it into this perfect collection of catchy, heart-filled, compelling tracks. From the inciting, driving guitar chords and echoing chants of opener ‘Greyhound Racing’, the sublime vocals and anthemic quality of ‘Happy Mondays’ through to the understated rhythmic sway of ‘Africanize’, the band remain resolute in their intention, to create bright and honest music the Concrete Knives way.

                            "We write as soon as the moment strikes us, no matter where, no matter when,” Morgane states, hinting at the impulsive, spontaneous energy that flows through the tracks, before going on to describe the band’s intentions for the future as "to let ourselves be amazed by music, our own and that of others. To travel the world, creating special relationships along the way. And to keep hoping."

                            Be Your Own King is a true and irresistible reflection of all that this Caen collective stand for, an intelligent, creative and rousing musical proposition offered up by the minds of a group of deeply inspired individuals. It’s the band’s philosophy captured in a series of peerless, distinctive indie motions, and it’s a record which proves that Concrete Knives have the boundless energy, the fire and the natural, deep rooted talent to tempt and sway each listener of their unique fusions into total submission.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Borholmer
                            2. Happy Mondays
                            3. Brand New Start
                            4. Wallpaper
                            5. Africanize
                            6. Roller Boogie
                            7. Greyhound Racing
                            8. Wild Gunman
                            9. Truth
                            10. Blessed

                            Poor Moon is a band comprised of longtime friends Christian Wargo, Casey Wescott, and brothers Ian and Peter Murray. And Poor Moon is the title of their full-length debut. But before there was a band or a record, there was the music, a series of songs forged by Christian Wargo over a period of several years. That's one of the things that makes Poor Moon sound so special: this band grew out of the songs, not vice-versa.

                            "I've known Christian for so long, and have loved his songwriting as long as I've known him," says Wescott. The two men previously played together in Pedro the Lion and Crystal Skulls; both are members of Fleet Foxes. For the past few years, he and the Murray brothers had been transfixed by the solo recordings Wargo periodically shared with them.

                            Thanks to their affinity for warm, earthy tones the music of Poor Moon can sound deceptively simple. Assorted timbres decorate these tenoriginals—marimba, harpsichord, fretless zither—but this isn't everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arranging. Whatever the instrumentation, the sense of choosing the right tool for the job always prevails. Thoughtful, impassioned vocal harmonies further reinforce the myriad musical bonds at play.

                            Likewise, the considered manner in which the words and music coexist, often despite seeming incongruities of mood, accounts for the distinctive character of the songs. The stretch between 2008 and the present when they were composed includes some of the most tumultuous episodes in Wargo's life. Yet Poor Moon handles even the heaviest topics, including death, addiction, and spirituality, with a certain lightness. "The way I deal with those is by drawing attention to the mystery and enjoying the whimsical aspects, but without being cute or precious about it," Wargo explains.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Clouds Below
                            2. Phantom Light
                            3. Same Way
                            4. Holiday
                            5. Waiting For
                            6. Heavens Door
                            7. Pulling Me Down
                            8. Bucky Pony
                            9. Come Home
                            10. Birds

                            The Walkmen

                            Heaven

                              'Heaven' is The Walkmen's sixth album and second since signing to Bella Union. The album was produced by Phil Ek (Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Band of Horses) whilst Robin Pecknold sings harmonies on two songs on the record.

                              “We felt like it was time to make a bigger, more generous statement…" When describing The Walkmen's new album, lead singer Hamilton Leithauser portrays a band hitting maturity, comfortable in its mastery after a decade together.

                              It's been ten years since the Walkmen made their debut album, 'Everybody Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone'. Ten years since critics attached them to a New York scene they never wanted to be part of. This spring the band played a series of 10th anniversary shows in the US that demonstrated how far they have outstripped their peers: two sets over two hours, no filler, rapturously received.

                              The Walkmen are the great New York band of their generation, making the best music of their career and filling their largest venues yet. Their spot at the top of the bill at May’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival, curated by The National, demonstrates the respect in which they are held by the current wave of bands making music in the city.

                              When renowned producer Phil Ek approached the guys last year asking if they’d like to make a record with him, they travelled to the studio he uses in the woods outside Seattle for the most intense recording sessions they had ever experienced. “There can be something brittle about our sound,” Maroon says. “He made it just a little bit warmer, a little bit stronger. When I play it in my car, it sounds strong, which I love.”

                              All five members of the band have kids now and if the impact of parenthood is hard to pin down in a single lyric, there is definitely a new openness and emotional honesty to the songs. Most importantly, the old gang mentality has deepened, becoming something worthwhile and lasting. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We’ve stayed friends and those friendships have grown,” says Bauer. “We have survival experience and real love that children generate in your life.”

                              'Heaven' is a definitive statement of purpose and commitment, from a band at the peak of its powers that is finally winning the recognition it deserves.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Darryl says: 'Heaven', their sixth album, showcases a band completely at one with itself. Confident and striding elegantly at their own pace the songs offer us a warm and enveloping sound very much in keeping with band's new maturity.

                              Beach House are pleased to share details of their fourth album, 'Bloom'. Like their previous releases it further develops their distinctive sound yet stands apart as a new piece of work.

                              The landscape of 'Bloom' was largely designed on the road, between the countless sound checks and myriad experiences of two years of touring. These ideas were later gathered and developed in Baltimore, where the band lives and works. 'Bloom' was recorded in late 2011 at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, TX and mixed at Electric Lady in NYC. The band co-produced the record with Chris Coady.

                              The many layers of 'Bloom' are meticulously constructed to ensure that each chord and melody performs its role to form a whole. Victoria Legrand states, “Bloom is a journey. For me, it is about the irreplaceable power of imagination as it relates to the intense experience of living. A bloom is only temporary... a fleeting vision of life in all of its intensity and colour, beautiful even if only for a moment."


                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Andy says: They've settled on their sound: a dreamy, lovelorn swirl. It's the songs that have stepped up: gorgeous, catchy, near-classics.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              01. Myth
                              02. Wild
                              03. Lazuli
                              04. Other People
                              05. The Hours
                              06. Troublemaker
                              07. New Year
                              08. Wishes
                              09. On The Sea
                              10. Irene

                              When discussing ‘Father John Misty’, Tillman paraphrases Philip Roth: ‘It’s all of me and none of me, if you can’t see that, you won’t get it’. What I call it is totally arbitrary, but I like the name. You’ve got to have a name. I never got to choose mine.”

                              He goes on, “‘People who make records are afforded this assumption by the culture that their music is coming from an exclusively personal place, but more often than not what you hear are actually the affectations of an ‘alter-ego’ or a cartoon of an emotionally heightened persona,” says Josh Tillman, who has been recording/releasing solo albums since 2003 and who recently left Seattle’s Fleet Foxes after playing drums from 2008-2011. “That kind of emotional quotient isn’t sustainable if your concern is portraying a human-being made up of more than just chest-beating pathos. I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humour and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plain-spoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like ‘Misty’. I mean, I may as well have called it ‘Steve’”. Musically, “Fear Fun” consists of such disparate elements as Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Russell, 'All Things Must Pass', and 'Physical Graffiti', often within the same song. Tillman's voice has never been better and often sounds like Roy Orbison, “The Caruso of Rock”, at his most joyous, while the music maintains a dark, mysterious and yet conversely playful, almost Dionysian quality. Lyrically, his absurdist fever dreams of pain and pleasure elicit, in equal measures, the blunt descriptive power of Bukowski or Braughtigan, the hedonistic philosophy of Oscar Wilde and the dried-out wit of Loudon Wainwright III.

                              The album began gestating during what Tillman describes as an “immobilizing period of depression”, in his former Seattle home. “Songwriting for me had always only been interesting and necessary because I saw it as this vehicle for truth, but I had this realization that all I had really done with it was lick my wounds for years and years, and become more and more isolated from people and experiences. I don’t even like wound-licking music, I want to listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it. I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about.” He continues, “I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.”

                              “It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time, and kind of had this musical ‘Oh-there-I-am’ moment, identical to how I felt when I was writing the book. It was unbelievably liberating. I knew there was never any going back to the place I was writing from before, which was a huge relief. The monkey got banished off my back.”

                              Tillman brought the demos to LA producer/songwriter/pal Jonathan Wilson, and in February 2011 began recording at his home-studio in Echo Park. “Initially, the idea was to just kind of recreate the demos with me playing everything, since they were pretty fleshed out and sounded cool, but a place like LA affords you a different wealth of talent, potential, etc than just about anywhere else. I realized what was possible between Jonathan’s abilities, and the caliber of musicians that are just hanging around LA, pretty quickly. People were coming in and out of the studio all day sometimes, and other days, it would just be Jonathan and I holed up, getting stoned, and doing everything.

                              “I was honest with myself about what music actually excites my joy-glands when I was considering the arrangements and instrumentation,” says Tillman. “As opposed to what’s been enjoyable to me in the past – namely, alienating people or making choices based what I think people won’t like or understand. Pretty narcissistic stuff.”

                              When asked about Laurel Canyon, where he eventually ended up living in the aforementioned tree-house with a family of spiders, Tillman says, “My attitude about it all is pretty explicit in the record. Given my pretty adversarial personal attitude about the music and aesthetic that comes from that place, it’s kind of a huge joke that I live in a former hippie-fantasy land. I have a really morbid sense of humour.” Phil Ek (who everyone knows has worked with Fleet Foxes, Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses) heard the rough versions of the album in May 2011 and offered his services to mix. “Phil and I have known each other for a while by virtue of Fleet Foxes, so he was familiar with my music, but we had never discussed working together. I think he immediately recognized the shift in my writing and singing from a producer and friend’s standpoint. His excitement is really evident in mixes, I think.”

                              Rarely is so much meaning conveyed in the space of six letters. And with regard to Xiu Xiu, its applications are infinite: always relevant, always provocative, always surprising, always evolving, always glittering.

                              It's fitting, then, that as the band (now comprised of Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo, Bettina Escauriza, Marc Riordan, and returning member Devin Hoff) marks a decade in existence, such a powerful sentiment would serve as the title of its latest album.

                              At its core, Always symbolizes the mutual camaraderie with and deep dedication to each person who has internalized Xiu Xiu’s work, tattooed its name on their skin or soul, and throughout the past ten years made the band a part of their lives.

                              The origin of these intense, everlasting bonds is Stewart. His fearless lyrics have given voice to life's most untouchable and taboo subjects, while his distinctively committed but hushed vocals crystallize and medicate their unsettling impact.

                              Those familiar with the band's work will take particular note of the times Stewart re-visits profoundly personal accounts from his own life -- most prominently on "Beauty Towne" (a not-so-uplifting postscript to the muddle of those depicted in "Clowne Towne" from 2004's Fabulous Muscles) and "Black Drum Machine" (which finishes the narrative of incest and molestation begun on "Black Keyboard" from 2008's Women as Lovers).

                              Elsewhere, Stewart's willingness to broach any subject finds him confronting both the topical and the intimate in equally meaningful ways: "Gul Mudin" seeks to bring comfort to an Afghani teenage boy murdered for sport by American soldiers; "Joey's Song" strives to do the same for Stewart's brother in the aftermath of a family tragedy.

                              "Factory Girls" chronicles the sexual objectification and desperate existence of Chinese female, migrant workers. "I Luv Abortion," featuring perhaps Stewart's most unhinged vocal ever, careens through the resolute heartache of a friend too young to be pregnant and seeks to personalize this most political issue.

                              But while such writing is worthy of reverence, Always' most arresting moments lie in its sonic innovation -- transforming avant pop elements from an undertone into a bright black focal point while adding new influences such a choral music, kraut rock and animal field recordings.

                              Produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier (who also contributes drums and vocals to the album) and mixed by John Congleton (Antony and the Johnsons, Marylin Manson, the Roots) the album is positively vibrant.

                              Opening track and first single, "Hi," is an immediate invitation for listeners to make their presence known, as Stewart commands you to voice the title refrain along with him: "If you are wasting your life / Say "Hi" / If you are alone tonight / Say "Hi."

                              The song's infectious, dance-worthy beat is only the first of many instances when Stewart’s unflinching lyricism is coupled with pure, singable melodies -- the kind of pairings that bring into stark relief how often life's worst moments are shouldered with a skewed, cheery grin.

                              Nowhere is this contrast more apparent than on the bittersweet duet "Honeysuckle," a pleasantly uplifting cadence undercut by feelings of utter despair and hopelessness in Seo's lyrics.

                              That such dazzling music can so seamlessly blend with such undeniably dark content is but one of the ways Always succeeds in accentuating the intent that is central to all Xiu Xiu creates.

                              During recording, Stewart saw a Bible verse spray painted on the wall of his gym. He interpreted the verse to mean, "Horror and beauty are the same; love and hate are the same, the tireless dread of our own lives and of living can be embraced with the same fervency as what we find beautiful."

                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Hi
                              2. Joey's Song
                              3. Beauty Towne
                              4. Honey Suckle
                              5. I Luv Abortion
                              6. The Oldness
                              7. Chimney's Afire (Mickensian Suicide)
                              8. Gul Mudin
                              9. Born To Suffer
                              10. Factory Girl
                              11. Smear The Queen
                              12. Black Drum Machine

                              Dirty Three

                              Toward The Low Sun

                                Legendary instrumental trio Dirty Three will boldly break cover in February 2012 with a remarkable new album, 'Toward The Low Sun', on Bella Union records.

                                'Toward The Low Sun' is the product of the most ceaselessly creative period in the band’s career, in which Jim White, Mick Turner and Warren Ellis have relentlessly made music in different permutations and locations around the globe. No other Australian band has ever impacted on international music in such a subversive fashion. This is a band that exists within itself and outside of itself, generating a massive (and massively influential) body of work.

                                Mick lives in Melbourne where he has built his own studio space, developed a fine reputation as a visual artist and released the Blue Trees album alongside the occasional Tren Brothers release. Jim is based out of Brooklyn but endlessly tours the world, recording and/or performing with the likes of Cat Power, Bonnie Prince Billy, Nina Nastasia and PJ Harvey. Warren resides in Paris, though is regularly to be found touring with the Bad Seeds and Grinderman or working with Nick Cave on soundtracks for such films as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Proposition and The Road. He recently made his acting debut in the film Médée Miracle, alongside Isabelle Huppert.

                                Dirty Three’s live appearances over the past few years reflect the band’s standing on the international stage. All Tomorrow’s Parties invited them to curate a three day event in the UK, and the band has also played at ATP festivals in Japan, Australia and the USA.

                                However, all of this frantic creativity and activity is now merely an exotic backdrop to the release of the new album Toward the Low Sun. A return to the mothership was inevitable. There is a certain magic that can only be invoked when these three elements are brought together. Nothing else sounds like the Dirty Three. They are one-off phenomena. As Warren Ellis says: “There is a dialogue within the group that we are all still keen to explore”.

                                Toward The Low Sun is not a cosy, nice-to-be-back, return to the comfort zone. There is an energy and a raw excitement evident from the first electrifying opening moments through to the album’s finale. In Warren’s words, “Dirty Three has always been about the way we play together and feed off each other. We wanted this one to be a return to the more improvised and instinctive approach of the earlier recordings”. And indeed Toward The Low Sun sounds like a first ever recording, a punk avant-garde art-jazz record! And for all their incredible music of the past, the Dirty Three have never seemed more relevant.

                                Toward The Low Sun is produced by Casey Rice and Dirty Three and was recorded in Melbourne at Head Gap studios and mixed at Sing Sing.

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Darryl says: The return of the Australian instrumental trio, 'Toward The Low Sun' is a highly emotive avant-garde album - you can almost feel the baking hot Antipodean sun. Excellent as always!

                                Jonathan Wilson

                                Gentle Spirit

                                  'Gentle Spirit' is not simply the name of the debut solo album by songwriter / musician / producer Jonathan Wilson, it represents the ethos of the artist himself. Warm, supple melodies etched in layers of stringed instruments and willowy organ motifs accompany his earnest, North Carolinian drawl as he tells tales of humane values lost and found.

                                  Wilson’s music is steeped equally in the woodsy contours of his Blue Ridge experiences and the atmospheric guitar reveries of Neil Young and Quicksilver Messenger Service. In fact, 'Gentle Spirit' is remarkably evocative of that golden late ‘60s, early ‘70s period when rural and urban sensibilities colluded in producing some of rock’s most imperishable recordings.

                                  Wilson, a native of Forest City, North Carolina, has been quietly earning a reputation as a musical jack-of-all-trades. He is adept behind the recording console, possesses a luthier’s knowledge of all things strummed, and maintains the innate ability to conceptualize an instrument essential to providing the right colour to a track in need of a defining detail. Whether working with promising new acts like the band Dawes, celebrated contemporary artists such as Erykah Badu and Elvis Costello, or Rock and Roll Hall of Famers such as Jackson Browne and Robbie Robertson, Wilson provides direction and support as tasty and soulful as anyone in the business today.

                                  It should then come as no surprise that Wilson, so resolutely committed to “old school” musical values, began recording 'Gentle Spirit' in Los Angeles’s fabled Laurel Canyon. As a long-time student of “Canyon culture,” his ideas echo many of an earlier generation as the album embraces a unique blend of folk, country, rock and roll and pop elements, which enduringly create a sense of time and place. After leaving Laurel Canyon, Wilson relocated to the Echo Park section of L.A, home to his new recording studio, to finish tracking and mixing 'Gentle Spirit'. “I recorded everything to analog tape which I’ve always done; it’s not something I’m trying to do as a boutique kind of hip thing. Analog simply captures things better and it takes the edges off. It creates a beauty much like film.” The album was mixed by Wilson and Thom Monahan, who has worked with many artists, including Vashti Bunyan, Devendra Banhart and Vetiver.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Gentle Spirit
                                  2. Can We Really Party Today?
                                  3. Desert Raven
                                  4. Canyon In The Rain
                                  5. Natural Rhapsody
                                  6. Ballad Of The Pines
                                  7. The Way I Feel
                                  8. Don’t Give Your Heart To A Rambler
                                  9. Woe Is Me
                                  10. Waters Down
                                  11. Rolling Universe
                                  12. Magic Everywhere
                                  13. Valley Of The Silver Moon

                                  Treefight For Sunlight’s self-titled debut album bottles their epic sunshine pop into ten mini-symphonies and shows Bella Union are embracing the new year with the same eclectic enthusiasm as ever… The band, who have known each other since childhood, hail from Denmark; clearly a breeding ground for mavericks judging by the likes of Mew, The Raveonettes, Oh No Ono and Treefight’s fellow Bella Union voyagers The Kissaway Trail. Bands that unstitch rock/pop’s rich tapestry and weave in their own unique and challenging DNA.

                                  In Treefight For Sunlight’s case, it’s the legacy of California’s west coast pop art, from its origins in the epic harmonies of The Association and The Turtles, which had a knock-on effect in the 70s with Sparks and the 80s with LA’s Paisley Underground scene. Fans of the Flaming Lips, MGMT and Panda Bear will surely also appreciate Treefight For Sunlight’s layered, twisting, caramelised energy and absorbing imagery.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. A Dream Before Sleep
                                  2. You And The New World
                                  3. The Universe Is A Woman
                                  4. They Never Did Know
                                  5. Facing The Sun
                                  6. Rain Air
                                  7. Tambourhinoceros Jam
                                  8. Riddles In Rhymes
                                  9. What Became Of You And I?
                                  10. Time Stretcher

                                  Hailing from Denmark, Our Broken Garden is the sound of sometime Efterklang keyboardist Anna Bronsted’s bewitching voice and songs plus assorted musical friends. Our Broken Garden’s debut album, “When Your Blackening Shows”, arrived in September 2008 and signalled Anna’s connection to water with various nautical references in her lyrics, and a deeply atmospheric, drifting ebb and flow to the sound - with a serene, torchy Anna resembling a modern day siren at its heart.

                                  "Golden Sea" is a substantial step forward. There’s more drama and rhythm this time round and Anna’s song-writing has evolved significantly… "In The Lowlands" has an overriding sense of blissed-out serenity sense while "Nightsong" is more haunted. "Share" and "Warriors Of Love" are more typically dreamy numbers before the devastating finale "The Dark Red Roses" where mournful strings preface one of Anna’s most haunting vocals… 

                                  Like the golden sea that names Our Broken Garden’s new album, their music is wide and deep, beautiful and mysterious…

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. The Departure
                                  2. In The Lowlands
                                  3. The Fiery And Loud
                                  4. Garden Grow
                                  5. Nightsong
                                  6. Garden The Burial
                                  7. Seven Wild Horses
                                  8. Share
                                  9. Warriors Of Love
                                  10. The Dark Red Roses

                                  The Walkmen

                                  Lisbon

                                    'Don't get heavy, let's be light', Hamilton Leithauser sings on "Woe Is Me", and that seems to be the Walkmen's creed on "Lisbon". The Walkmen were more than heavy on their previous album, the gorgeously moody "You & Me", and it's hard not to read the more upbeat attitude they have here as a response. This time, they dance on their troubles instead of drowning their sorrows - although the organ on album opener "Juveniles" warms like the first sip of wine. But while the mood is lighter, things are never completely sunny in the Walkmen's world.

                                    "Victory" sounds like a winner's brash cheer, but bears the sting of being second place. "Woe Is Me" turns a pity party into an actual party, making reminiscences about a girl who was 'my not so long ago' into one of the band's most immediately appealing songs in some time, while "Angela Surf City" shoots the curl of a difficult relationship's tides, ebbing and cresting like "Bows + Arrows"' "The Rat". These songs anchor "Lisbon"'s hazier, sadder moments, of which there are plenty: the title track closes the album with a dreamy remembrance that echoes "You & Me"'s brooding travelogue, minus that album's desolation; "Blue as Your Blood" and "Stranded" provide "Lisbon"'s broken but ever-romantic heart, filled with transporting stories of black-eyed girls and waltzes among broken glass. Best of all is "While I Shovel the Snow", which once again proves what a rich muse winter is for the band. When Leithauser sighs 'There's no life like the slow life', it's another potent Walkmen motto: "Lisbon", like the rest of their music, is meant to be savoured, the fullness of its songs allowed to develop over many listens.

                                    Lone Wolf

                                    Keep Your Eyes On The Road

                                      Lone Wolf, is Leed’s singer songwriter Paul Marshall. “Keep Your Eyes On The Road” is the first single to be lifted from his “The Devil & I” album.
                                      It’s an intoxicating blend of intricate folk-tinged guitar, pounding drums, and hushed vocals. With some nice rhythmic twists and turns along the way it eventually ends in heavy crashing climax. But despite the rock-out ending it still sits well alongside the likes of Fleet Foxes, John Grant , Tunng, Vetiver etc.
                                      One to watch we think!

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      Keep Your Eyes On The Road
                                      This Is War

                                      Pearly Gate Music

                                      Pearly Gate Music

                                        Listening to Pearly Gate Music is like descending the rabbit warren. You don’t know where it will lead. The same as with music recommendations – one leads to another, and to another. In this case, Simon Raymonde at Bella Union first heard of Fleet Foxes, which introduced him to Josh Tillman, the band’s drummer turned solo artist, which then led to Josh’s younger brother Zach.

                                        But Zach is a different species to his bro. If it’s a safe bet both appreciate Neil Young, then Zach reflects the skeletal, wrought folk-blues of "On The Beach" rather than Josh’s "After The Goldrush" influence. And if there are occasional lonesome-pine moods that echo Fleet Foxes, then Zach is much more Hank Williams that the Foxes' Brian Wilson inspiration. But what about "Navy Blues", with its haunting Mariachi sway, that uncannily suggests the swelling pride of a wedding and the melancholy remorse of a funeral? Other times, the ghost of Big Star’s deadbeat classic "Third/Sisters Lovers" floats up, or even primitive rock’n’roll classicism. The clear, ringing double vocals of "Oh, What A Time" are pure Everly Brothers – no surprise to know it’s Zach and John together.

                                        On his part, Zach says his musical origins can be found in a great love for Pavement's "Slanted And Enchanted" ('for its seemingly incongruous mix of punk beats and brilliant poetry'), which steered him toward the Velvets and Neutral Milk Hotel, among others. After high school, he later purchased a Casio keyboard, sang songs into his laptop and sometimes added scratchy acoustic guitar. But after becoming 'junior songwriter', at what Zach labels, 'local deadbeat record label' Barsuk, Zach enlisted Josh [drums], Joe [bass] and Colin [guitar] for recording, and played concerts supporting Josh around Europe and America, while finding time to pluck bass in a few friends’ projects.

                                        For a 'junior songwriter', Pearly Gate Music seems amazingly mature. Starting with "Golden Funeral", the most spellbinding intro you’re likely to hear this year, with hushed, distant, hymnal chords and trickles of rain sounding like they're suspended in mid-air. Just perfect for Zach’s opening words: 'When you turn your friends into lovers / and your lovers, they are all gone / so you bite down hard, a bitter bullet / and you ask them back'.

                                        '"Golden Funeral" is the album's flagship song', says Zach. 'I meant it, lyrically, as a benediction, and the production turned out perfectly. I wish the whole thing was that hissy'.

                                        John Grant

                                        Queen Of Denmark

                                        John Grant, former singer/songwriter with Bella Union cult favorites The Czars, finally returns in April 2010 with an extraordinary debut solo album made with Midlake.

                                        Everyone has a favorite band or singer they reckon is subject to criminal neglect. That John Grant’s effortlessly rich, expansive baritone, couched in typically heartbreaking, lush melody, hasn’t found a wider audience many would consider a crime. But no longer. Because Grant’s first solo album is so undeniably great that the world will surely listen.

                                        It’s a record of gravitas and grace, of FM melody magic laced with raw emotional bleeding. It asks why relationships are roulette and love is hell in a last-ditch attempt at self-improvement and atonement after years of alcohol and cocaine dependency. And on top, to further the album’s brilliance, Grant’s backing band on the album are Bella Union label-mates Midlake, contributing their most empathic ‘70s-style soft-rock know-how. Put simply, “Queen Of Denmark” is the record Grant’s been waiting his whole life to make.
                                        Not that the Czars didn’t hit their own heights. After emerging from Denver, Colorado, rave reviews were the norm… “Long distinguished by John Grant’s superlative baritone, ‘Goodbye’ reeks of wistful, melancholic class… as meticulous and complete-sounding as the best works by Mercury Rev or The Flaming Lips” said Uncut about The Czars’ final album.
                                        “Queen Of Denmark” was recorded in Denton in late 2008 through 2009 in the studio downtime while Midlake were recording their own record. The album moves through simple piano settings via an infusion of period-perfect synths that epitomise the lonely mood. There’s flute from Midlake frontman Tim Smith on the dreamiest cut ‘Marz’ and velvet strings on ‘Dreams’, which imagines Scott Walker influenced by Patsy Cline. There is pure longing in the opening ‘TC And Honeybear’ and bitterly sarcastic anger in the magnificent title track finale… Pain, hope, fear, regret and self-discovery… “Queen of Denmark” has it all… framed within some of the finest songs you’ll hear in this or any other year…

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. TC & Honeybear
                                        2. Marz
                                        3. Where Dreams Go To Die
                                        4. Sigourney Weaver
                                        5. Chicken Bones
                                        6. Silver Platter Club
                                        7. It’s Easier
                                        8. Outer Space
                                        9. Jesus Hates Faggots
                                        10. Caramel
                                        11. Leopard & Lamb
                                        12. Queen Of Denmark

                                        With the clanging of church bells leading the tumultuous charge into the panoramic sensation of their new album “Sleep Mountain”, The Kissaway Trail have returned with a renewed sense of purpose. “Sleep Mountain” is less a reinvention for the Danish quintet than a fabulous progression in the wake of its predecessor, 2007’s already grandstanding self-titled debut.

                                        “The Kissaway Trail” album established a sublime fusion of different musical strands. Imagine the urgent ebb-and-flow dynamic of bands as diverse as Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips with bona fide singer-songwriters, from Neil Young’s plangency to the dreaminess of "Another Green World"-era Eno and the frailty of Daniel Johnson.

                                        “Sleep Mountain” simply refines, improves and enriches that fusion. “Our previous album had a lot of different flavours to it, clearly showing that we were a band in the process of discovering ourselves,” declares co-singer/guitarist Thomas Fagerlund, “whereas the new album has a greater sense of direction and style, and shows that we had grown as musicians and people as well.” Add in dabs of electronica to the breadth of guitars and you have a contemporary, timeless, vulnerable rock classic.

                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Darryl says: Superb album, taking the fragile beauty of Mercury Rev, the lofty grandeur of Arcade Fire and the sonic dynamics of Sonic Youth. One of the albums of the year so far!!

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. SDP
                                        2. Painter
                                        3. New Year
                                        4. Don't Wake Up
                                        5. Friendly Fire
                                        6. Prelude
                                        7. Beat Your Heartbeat
                                        8. Philadelphia
                                        9. New Lipstick
                                        10. Whir Of Wings
                                        11. Enemy
                                        12. Three Million Hours

                                        Beach House

                                        Teen Dream

                                          Beach House return in January 2010 with “Teen Dream”, their third - and first classic - album, on Bella Union records.
                                          The Beach House you’re about to meet isn’t the same as the one you’ll remember from before. Lives have been shuffled, tangled and re-aligned. When Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally returned home to their hometown of Baltimore last winter, they were worn out from touring and travel. But deep inside them hot energies were incubating, ideas they had been whispering back and forth in the wake of their sophomore full-length, 2008’s “Devotion”. By spring they began handing themselves over completely to these impulses, holing themselves up and exchanging ideas in a new, secluded practice space for dangerously long periods of time. As the songs that would become “Teen Dream” began to live, breathe and take shape, the duo were compelled to leave much of their personal lives behind them. “We were forced to let go of people and things we were holding onto as individuals” Legrand muses. “We were dropped into a wilderness, but we had more clarity than we’ve ever had before”.
                                          Still driven to avoid distraction, the two marched further into isolation, deciding to bottle all those wild visions away from home. They packed up their lives and settled into a converted church in upstate New York with producer Chris Coady. For a month they continued the birthing process, sweating and pushing out sounds inside a cocoon of their very own weaving.
                                          “Teen Dream” is the sound of a band bursting at its creative seams. It is without question more expansive and moving than anything they have shared before.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Martin says: Alex Scally's crystalline wandering guitar lines spin a wistful web over Victoria Legrand's haunted, opaque vocals. A thing of bewitching melodic beauty.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          01. Zebra
                                          02. Silver Soul
                                          03. Norway
                                          04. Walk In The Park
                                          05. Used To Be
                                          06. Lover Of Mine
                                          07. Better Times
                                          08. 10 Mile Stereo
                                          09. Real Love
                                          10. Take Care

                                          It’s ironic that Midlake’s new album is titled “The Courage Of Others” because, if anything, the courage is all theirs. Namely, the courage to do what feels right and stay true to the spirit of artistic independence whilst ignoring any pressure to conform to expectations. The result is the Texas quintet’s third album, their most complete and beautiful body of work yet, best appreciated as a whole in the old-fashioned sense of an album - which makes perfect sense when you know Midlake linchpin Tim Smith’s fondness for the look and feel of past times.

                                          So what’s changed since "The Trials of Van Occupanther", their second, hugely loved breakthrough album? Just as that record was in part inspired by the soft(er) rock of the early-to-mid 1970s – from Neil Young and America to Fleetwood Mac – so Midlake’s new album also looks to a slightly earlier, and definitely British, trad-tainted folk sound. It may share the same gorgeously analogue-warm electro-acoustic template as "Van Occupanther" but it’s a slower, darker and more carved record, both eerier and dreamier. Perfect, in other words, for its February release date, at the height of winter.

                                          Neither do the new songs feature any hermit-scientists like Van Occupanther, or the mythical Roscoe. The songs that constitute "The Courage Of Others", Tim says, are closer to his heart than those of their first two albums because, 'I don’t feel I’m looking at the songs through someone else’s eyes. I’ve tried to keep it as true to myself as I could'. Guitarist Eric Pulido adds, 'We didn’t want to make the same album as Van Occupanther, so we carried on moving and creating and pushing for a newer sound and emotion'.


                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Andy says: I've been playing this LP every day for a fortnight and I absolutely love it. I feel daft that I was initially disappointed in the lack of pop songs, because this record is way beyond that. It's a proper grower: deep, layered and intricate with loads more guitars, floaty flute and all those folky inflections (see below). It's definitely darker but just as beautiful as "Van Occupanther". It just takes longer to reveal itself.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. Acts Of Man
                                          2. Winter Dies
                                          3. Small Mountain
                                          4. Core Of Nature
                                          5. Fortune
                                          6. Rulers, Ruling All Things
                                          7. Children Of The Grounds
                                          8. Bring Down
                                          9. The Horn
                                          10. The Courage Of Others
                                          11. In The Ground

                                          Emily Loizeau is no sedentary contemplative singer. Not for her the captive heart and cracked whisper of some Proustian maiden kept far from the world's clamour. Emily tends more towards Rimbaud, Jack London and Kerouac. She expresses her taste for adventure and hazardous encounters musically with all the force of a tropical cyclone, and lyrically with the reflective delicacy of the bilingual child still living within her. Emily calls Pays Sauvage her "hippie record": all her friends were invited to join the party, bringing their instruments and temperament along. Since the country house was too small to accommodate the whole shebang, these encounters took place in the studio in Paris, with sound recording from Jean-Baptiste Bruhnes and production by Emily. In today's France, where bands are born of international marriages, Emily (who is half English on her mother's side) has no shortage of cousins. Having admired albums by Herman Düne and Moriarty, she offered them visas for her "country", which she saw as a land of communion. David Herman Düne contributed to five tracks in different roles (co-arranger, musician and duettist), while the entire Moriarty family appear on four songs (their distinguished folk collective sets some memorable sparks flying!). Still, Pays Sauvage was primarily built around the two musicians who back Emily on stage and worked on the album's arrangements: cellist Olivier Koundouno and drummer and guitarist Cyril Avèque. Over the months, an extended troupe formed around this nucleus (with the addition of violinist Jocelyn West), building on songs that Emily devised in a spirit of pure sharing, deliberately choosing not to make herself their sole focus.

                                          "Year In The Kingdom" unravels some kind of galactic wilderness. J. Tillman's sixth album lyrically borders on the mystic; proffering a transcendent union, an effortlessness. Strange and honest, this song cycle inhabits it's own idea-scape; one seemingly obsessed with wrestling death. These are afterlife dialogues of a mysterious future. Celestial badlands. Unknown to just about everyone, Tillman started recording in April, tracking most of the instruments during the two week session himself. Hammered dulcimer, banjo, recorder, cymbals of varying size and wheezing air organs all feature heavily and lend "Year In The Kingdom" it's bizarre scale, conjuring tidal shifts with tiny movements. The string arrangements, performed by Jenna Conrad, as well as transposed from Tillman's sung direction, were intended to rest on chords almost counter-intuitively, bringing to bloom complex, de-contextualized tones. Most noticeable upon first listen, however, is the production itself. While most of Tillman's records evidence some shambolic home recording, it is undisturbed throughout. Out up front of the mix, and dry as a bone, Tillman's voice is featured in a way unlike any of his previous records.

                                          Tracklisting
                                          1. Year In The Kingdom
                                          2. Crosswinds
                                          3. Earthly Bodies
                                          4. Howling Light
                                          5. Though I Have Wronged You
                                          6. Age Of Man
                                          7. There Is No Good In Me
                                          8. Marked In The Valley
                                          9. Light Of The Living

                                          "Beacons" is the beguiling UK debut of Ohbijou. Borne in the bedrooms of a family home in Ontario, Casey Mecija's gentle compositions, bound with youthful frailty and unnerving beauty, found their natural habitat in Toronto. Enlisting the help of her younger sister, Jenny, and friends Heather Kirby and Anissa Hart, Mecija's songs began to take flight. An encounter with James Bunton and Ryan Carley led to further collaboration and the conception of Ohbijou. Andrew Kinoshita soon added his talents to Ohbijou's orchestration. Furnished with mandolin, violin, piano, banjo, cello and an impressive array of other instruments, a seven piece orchestral pop force began to appear on stages around Toronto that quickly affected the landscape of independent music in the city. Mecija pens songs wrought with the romantic afflictions of big city life. She sutures the intimate details of her personal relations to the macrocosmic relations of her city. Dressed with intricate melodies and vocal harmonies arranged by her bandmates, the songs reveal a striking musicality and virtuosity. Ohbijou's music has a seductive beauty, their delicate songs framed by elegant orchestral arrangements. Their emotive music is simultaneously both sad and life-affirming.

                                          Another uber-hyped album from a band that deserve all the impressive praise they've rapidly garnered, this beguiling record remains unrelenting in its sheer beauty. Appetites whetted by the absolutely stunning five-track EP "Sun Giant" this soon became a nailed-on Piccadilly album of the year, happily uniting all staff with its assured accessibility. Whilst many have been swift to dismiss their sound as too derivative – doubly accusing the Foxes of committing flagrant musical theft and lacking authenticity due to the tender age of lead singer Robin Pecknold - this record can be much better understood as a group of very talented music fans/singer-songwriters crafting effortlessly stellar tracks that, yes, borrow heavily from country-rock, gospel, baroque pop and the soft A.O.R of America, Dan Fogelberg and CSNY, yet make these influences sound utterly fresh and relevant today. This new 2CD version also includes all five tracks from the "Sun Giant" EP along with a brand new recording of the Steeleye Span classic "False Knight On the Road".

                                          Tracklisting
                                          CD1

                                          1. Sun It Rises
                                          2. White Winter Hymnal
                                          3. Ragged Wood
                                          4. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
                                          5. Quiet Houses
                                          6. He Doesn't Know Why
                                          7. Heard Them Stirring
                                          8. Your Protector
                                          9. Meadowlarks
                                          10. Blue Ridge Mountains
                                          11. Oliver James
                                          CD2
                                          1. Sun Giant
                                          2. Drops In The River
                                          3. English House
                                          4. Mykonos
                                          5. Innocent Son
                                          6. False Knight On The Road

                                          Beach House

                                          Devotion

                                            Baltimore duo Beach House have returned with their sophomore full length entitled "Devotion", Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand have written eleven delicate pop songs about love, feelings, and, of course, devotion. Their new album is a sure-fire antidote to the winter blues. Beach House have developed their craft exponentially since their 2006 self-titled debut. The recording is crisper; the songs are fuller. This is a band that is taking the pop duo format to the limit. The organs, slide guitars and reverb are still there, but Beach House lay down some new sounds for their newest offering. While on their debut critics made comparisons to early 90s dream popsters like Mazzy Star, Slowdive and Galaxie 500, on "Devotion" listeners will also hear the band's longtime admiration for 60s Motown and country folk.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            Wedding Bell
                                            You Came To Me
                                            Gila
                                            Turtle Island
                                            Holy Dances
                                            All The Years
                                            Heart Of Chambers
                                            Some Things Last A Long Time
                                            Astronaut
                                            D.A.R.L.I.N.G.
                                            Home Again

                                            Beach House

                                            Beach House

                                              Take a vacation at the Beach House away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Let the Baltimore duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally take you to a new place, a unique place where slow hazy pop fills the room with organs, slide guitars, reverb, echoes and simple yet unforgettable melodies. Beach House contains memories from past trips, times, and places: 70s Southern California (lunch with Karen Carpenter), mid 90s England (star-gazing with Mazzy Star no doubt), a weekend at Warhol's Factory in New York (shared a cab with Nico) and a camping trip in the Appalachians back in 1940 (with a country breakfast at Patsy's).

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              Saltwater
                                              Tokyo Witch
                                              Apple Orchard
                                              Master Of None
                                              Auburn And Ivory
                                              Childhood
                                              Lovelier Girl
                                              House On The Hill
                                              Heart And Lungs
                                              [silence]
                                              Untitled


                                              Latest Pre-Sales

                                              146 NEW ITEMS

                                              Weekly New Release Mailout https://t.co/4lm6opBfkd Parquet Courts, Self Esteem, Clinic, Dean Blunt, Pop Psychede… https://t.co/yIDgJ4uFne
                                              Thu 21st - 5:00
                                              📚BOOK📚 ‘Slowly walking round the block, the Supersonic book is now in stock’ *cough*. ‘Supersonic: The complete… https://t.co/JLVpaVtk22
                                              Thu 21st - 2:25
                                              The Parquet Courts are back with a new album ‘Sympathy For Life’ out tomorrow via @RoughTradeRecs Pre-order/purch… https://t.co/3LudiVbX3R
                                              Thu 21st - 12:58
                                              Buzzing new Glasgow five-piece Vlure @VLURE_ release their hotly anticipated debut 7” ‘Shattered Faith / Desire (Li… https://t.co/tj322al1u5
                                              Thu 21st - 12:26
                                              Toasty AF, extra thick hoodies just in time for the colder months from Detroit's no. 1 techno militia! JUST IN: Und… https://t.co/B0OwaynrS1
                                              Wed 20th - 10:15
                                              E-newsletter —
                                              Sign up
                                              Back to top