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Conner Youngblood

Cheyenne

    Nashville resident Conner Youngblood crafts melodies through a wide range of obscure instrumental arrangements. Often centered around a specific place of natural landscape or human connection his songs embody delicate, nuanced moments in nature and the introspection of these moments.

    Where many musicians pick their instrument of choice and let it be their primary songwriting vessel, Youngblood finds different instruments allow him to tap into varied parts of his songwriting brain. His debut album ‘Cheyenne’ features no less than 30 different instruments – a harp, a bass clarinet, a tabla, etc – all of which are played by Youngblood on a record featuring no guests. Instead it’s simply him and an engineer he’s known and worked with since he first started releasing music back in high school. Though he’ll be building up a band to play live, he has before now mimicked the sounds of certain instruments on stage and supported people such as Janelle Monae, SOHN and Angus & Julia Stone.

    “Listening to music there are certain ways you think are the right ways to create songs, then you realise you can write however you want. Like, ‘Oh, I can play bongos, accordion and a guitar’ – as long as it sounds good,” Youngblood explains of his writing process. Though he initially started out learning clarinet, he’s been collecting instruments from a young age, often being gifted a new one for birthday and christmas or seeking out cheap and used rarities from local stores.

    The result of this lifelong process of collecting and playing instruments means ‘Cheyenne’ is a record that’s rich in atmospheric, organic sound. Sitting somewhere between the more low-key elements of The Band (who Youngblood wrote a thesis on while studying at Yale), the beautiful melodics of Moses Sumney and the Grammy nominated songwriter Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, this latest collection of songs feel embedded in the fabric of life – Youngblood examines what makes us human, the earth, translating his findings back into music.

    For those who may not already be aware, the release of ‘Cheyenne’ comes off the back of an already illustrative career for Youngblood. Born and raised in Dallas – a city he describes as “a lot of concrete” – Youngblood spent his formative years switching between skateboarding (he had built a half pipe in his backyard), wrestling and playing in local coffee houses. His first few releases – ‘Monsters’, ‘Australia’ and ‘A Summer Song’ – shot immediately to the top end of the Hype Machine chart and clocked up hundreds of thousands of plays and attracted offers from labels in the process.

    Though the opportunity was there, however, Youngblood decided to pursue his studies before music. That Youngblood continued his education in American Studies at Yale is an interesting point. His real name is Kneeland Conner Youngblood, after his father, a former physician who participated in sit-ins at Princeton University, while his grandfather was initially turned away from Princeton for being black - making Youngblood the next in a strong, essential American lineage.

    Though the 13 songs on ‘Cheyenne’ all have their own story, they each centre around a familiar theme. The record was written over a two year period, during which Youngblood travelled extensively. Lead track, ‘The Birds of Finland’, is a perfect example of these expeditions, touching on the tonality of these places scattered across the globe. “Travel might be a response to not feeling comfortable to stay in one place too long. I love meeting new people and seeing new terrains,” he explains. “With that being said, I do feel like the idea of a home is very important. Otherwise traveling ends up feeling more like drifting.”

    The response is a record that involves travel, but also the grounding aspects of the people Youngblood has encountered along the way, in particular the women in his life. In essence, ‘Cheyenne’ – which follows 2016’s ‘The Generation of Lift’ EP – is Youngblood having introspective conversations with himself about the relationships he holds and tying them together with specific places. That doesn’t mean these songs are specifically focused around love stories, instead the tracks on this record are about people that “have come and gone, stayed; family and friends; exes; people I like and don’t like.”

    “I've never consciously written about women, but for some reason I felt inclined all of a sudden. And one song led to the next with this album. I usually enjoy writing about places, but this time it was nice to put different people into places,” says Youngblood of the writing process. Since he has five siblings, all of whom are sisters, one of these tracks in particular stands out – ‘My Brother’s Brother’ – which was written by Youngblood after a break-up and “wishing I had a brother to talk to about it.”

    “A lot of the times I’m writing down what I want to try out as combinations before I’ve even started a song,” says Youngblood, about the songs on the record, many of which have been laboured over often for weeks at a time; as a living entity that needs to be explored, played around with and worked out.. “For example… on ‘Stockholm’, I specifically wanted to do a song with 808s and a harp, and see where it goes from there. I ended up using a vocoder too. I often think about what I haven’t used together, and use it in different ways.”

    Clearly – whether it’s what Youngblood humbly puts down as “musical ADHD” or sheer talent – ‘Cheyenne’ is the work of a musical polymath. As well as travel informing the content of the songs, it’s also a crucial part of the album’s concept as a whole. The album’s artwork is shot by Youngblood (and friends he was travelling with) who took around 2,500 photographs while touring around Europe in the past couple years, mostly in places such as Iceland, Macedonia and Finland as well as a few hiking trips around the United States. The CD and LP comes with a book full of these photographs as well as notes, sketches, essays – essentially a map of how Youngblood created this record.

    Ultimately, positioned between the sincere folk-like melodies of Elliott Smith, the pure sonics of and instrument switching ethos that’s reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens, ‘Cheyenne’ presents Youngblood an accomplished songwriter. While there are a few distant key figures grounding his sound Conner's music carves out a future narrative that is very much his own with unexpected instrumental parts and obscure melodies a step outside the current landscape.

    What So Not (formerly a collaborative duo with Flume) is the solo project of Australian producer Emoh Instead. Here he drops his debut album, "Not All The Beautiful Things", via Counter Records. Including collaborations with Skrillex, Toto, Daniel Johns, Rome Fortune and writing from Jono Ma (Jagwar Ma), it features a highly advanced sound palette which draws from modular techniques and mixes them with a high end precision beats and a full frequency patina. 

    For fans of Flume, Skrillex, JACK Ü (Diplo & Skrillex), Mura Masa, Machinedrum.

    Previously recognised for his dancefloor-ready releases on Sweat It Out and Skrillex’s label OWSLA.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xLP Info: 2LP on 180g heavyweight vinyl in a gatefold sleeve
    (350gsm) with 6mm spine on standard board with gloss varnish and black paper inner sleeves.

    Jono McCleery

    Seeds Of A Dandelion

      Jono McCleery - a man blessed with a truly magical, heart-melting soul voice and skills on the guitar to match - releases a suite of acoustic cover versions of songs that date from 1941 to 2013, encompassing works by Billie Holiday, Scott Walker, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, Atoms For Peace, Beyoncé and Peven Everett with Roy Davis Jr.

      For fans of Nicky Mulvey, Fink, Jose Gonzalez.

      Recorded over 10 days at Urchin Studio in East London - Tim Rowkins took on recording, production and mixing duties (as he did on Jono’s 2015 album ‘Pagodes’) whilst Dan See (Jamie Woon / Nick Mulvey), Milo Fitzpatrick (Portico Quartet) and Steve Pringle (Michael Kiwanuka) provided drums / percussion, bass and keys / organ respectively.

      ‘A Moment Apart’ represents Odesza's growth, delivering a more mature sound through weighted atmospheres, shimmering synth lines and familiar feelings of nostalgia, optimism and hope. The album's featured guests include Leon Bridges, Regina Spektor, and RY X, creating an eclectic mix that showcases Odesza's dynamic range. RIFL: Mount Kimbe, Four Tet, Fatima, Burial etc etc, 

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Double LP on translucent green heavyweight 180g vinyl in a gatefold wallet. Includes download code

      ‘Hurt & The Merciless’ marks a musical culmination for The Heavy, a mesmeric blend of their trademark rock & roll classicism and funk and soul grooves with added sonic experimentation.

      The 12 track album - featuring the lead track ‘Since You Been Gone’ with its lolloping groove, plus the spiky garage rock anthem ‘What Happened To The Love?’ - is a batch of their strongest songs yet.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP Box Set Info: Deluxe boxset comprises hardback box with lift off lid, ‘Hurt & The Merciless’ on CD and heavyweight 180g vinyl, two 7” singles featuring the tracks ‘Panic Attack!’ / ‘WTF?’ and ‘Since You Been Gone’ / ‘What Happened To The Love?’, a set of badges and stickers and an A2 poster.

      LP Box Set includes MP3 Download Code.

      Submotion Orchestra

      Alium

        Since forming in Leeds in 2009 Submotion Orchestra have carved out their own special place in the UK's ever-changing musical landscape. The seven piece band's fusion of bass heavy electronica, jazz, soul and much more besides has made them a favourite of the likes of Gilles Peterson, Trevor Nelson and Jo Whiley, whilst their live show has seen them play festivals around the world and sell out venues such as London's famous KOKO.

        Now following two critically acclaimed albums, Finest Hour and Fragments, Submotion Orchestra return bigger, brighter and bolder than ever with 'Alium'; their first album for Counter Records. 'Alium' sees the band in an expansive mood as the interplay between their electronic and acoustic sounds has become more natural than ever, whilst Ruby Wood's vocals continue to find new levels of emotion.

        Written over two years in the remote Welsh countryside with just 'passing sheep and a rusty ping-pong table for company' and recorded in Brighton, 'Alium' has been a true group effort with every band member involved in the writing and recording process, something that is reflected in the album's varied nature.

        From neon synth strafed opener 'Awakening', to the bruising 21st century soul of 'Time Will Wait', the tense cinematic drama of 'Bring Back The Wolf', 'The Hounds’' late night / early morning jazz workout and the unashamedly big pop moment that is 'Trust Lust', Alium may be a dazzlingly eclectic record showcasing the band’s myriad talents, but thanks to producer Ruckspin's deft touch remains a satisfyingly coherent whole.



        Spokes

        Everyone I Ever Met

          Spokes have played festivals including The Big C1hill and End Of The Road and have completed three full UK tours prior to signing to Counter, in addition to dates with Everything Everything.

          They are one of XFM’s New Bands Of The Year, with additional support from Radio 1, Radio 2 and 6 Music.

          “Great rewards surely await the angelic Spokes” - Clash Magazine
          “... pastoral indie with a post-rock veneer that builds to glorious climaxes” – NME.


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