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DOMINO RECORDS

Fat White Family

Serfs Up!

    Serfs Up! is Fat White Family’s third album and their first for new label Domino. Released on Friday 19th April 2019 it marks the most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in recent musical history.

    The band have today shared the first track to be taken from the album, Feet, a triumphant return which perfectly heralds the overwhelming musical scope and ambition of the album.

    Having released their second album, Songs For Our Mothers in January 2016, core-members Lias and Nathan Saoudi relocated to Sheffield and set about writing the album. Joined by co-conspirator Saul Adamczewski and recorded at their own Champzone studios in the Attercliffe area of the city, Serfs Up! was finished in late autumn 2018 with the help of long-time collaborator, Liam D. May and features a guest appearance from Baxter Dury on Tastes Good With The Money.

    Serfs Up! is a lush and masterful work, lascivious and personal. Tropical, sympathetic and monumental. It invites the listener in rather than repel them through wilful abrasion. Fat White Family have broken previous default patterns of behaviour, and as such their third album heralds a new day dawning.

    Gregorian chants, jackboot glam beats, string flourishes, sophisticated and lush cocktail exotica, electro funk and the twin spirits of Alan Vega and Afrika Bambaataa punctuate the record at various junctures, while the dramatic production of Feet is as immaculately-rendered as ‘Hounds of Love’-era Kate Bush. The dirt is still there of course, but scrape it away and you’ll find a purring engine, gleaming chrome.

    Echoing within the arrangements throughout are traces of blissed-out 60s Tropicalia, Velvets/Bowie sleaze-making and star-gazing, 80s digital dancehall, David Axelrod-style easy listening, joyous Pet Shop Boys synth crescendos, acid house, post-PIL dub, metropolitan murder ballads, doom-disco and mouth-gurning, slow-mo psychedelia so by the time it comes to a close only a fool would deny that Serfs Up! is something very special. No longer is unadulterated music malevolence Fat White Family’s stock in trade; this is cultivated music for the head, the heart. For tomorrow’s unborn children.

    Where once they soundtracked a grubby Britain of vape shops, Fray Bentos dinners and blackened tin-foil, a crepuscular comedown realm stalked by Shipman, Goebbels and Mark E. Smith, Fat White Family now inhabit another cosmos entirely. Serfs Up! is the product of a band of outlaws reborn. Few but themselves could have forecast it: Fat White Family survived. Fat White Family got wise. Fat White Family got sophisticated.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indies only gold coloured vinyl.

    Raised in England, Hynes started out as a teenage punk in the UK band Test Icicles before releasing two orchestral acoustic pop records as Lightspeed Champion. In 2011, he released Coastal Grooves, the first of three solo albums under the moniker Blood Orange. His last album, Freetown Sound, was released to critical acclaim in 2016, and saw Hynes defined as one of the foremost musical voices of his time, receiving comparisons to the likes of Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo for his own searing and soothing personal document of life as a black man in America. He has collaborated with Solange Knowles, Skepta, fka twigs, Carly Rae Jepsen, A$AP Rocky, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Blondie, and many other artists, and was recently one of four artists invited to the Kennedy Center to perform alongside Philip Glass. In addition to his production work, he scored the film Palo Alto, directed by Gia Coppola.

    Negro Swan was written and produced by Hynes. Says Hynes:

    “My newest album is an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color. A reach back into childhood and modern traumas, and the things we do to get through it all. The underlying thread through each piece on the album is the idea of HOPE, and the lights we can try to turn on within ourselves with a hopefully positive outcome of helping others out of their darkness.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Millie says: The return of the incredible Dev Hynes brings us Negro Swan, his music continues to be the most innovative and original sound out there at the moment. Hynes explores themes of struggles from people of colour and sexuality in this album, and brings a message of hope. Blood Orange has a powerful voice and his work remains to be worlds apart from everyone else, big love.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Independent retailers exclusive on heavyweight
    orange coloured vinyl with digital download code.

    2xLP Info: Double LP pressed on heavyweight vinyl with digital
    download code.

    Modesty and plain good manners might prevent them from saying so themselves, but the fact that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have thrived, rather than simply endured over 17 years and delivered six albums of buzzy, sub-cultural significance, constitutes an impressive legacy. The challenge with album number seven is one that any successful band with integrity faces: how to safeguard that legacy and hold on to their identity without rehashing old ground (unthinkable), and also say something meaningful while (crucially) having fun doing it?

    Meeting that issue head on in the run up to The Jicks’ seventh record involved some “navel gazing”, according to singer, songwriter, and guitarist Malkmus and not only in terms of what it means to be releasing music in 2018. If, like him, you’re a voracious consumer of all kinds of culture and feel the need to interact with it, rather than just react, then inevitably “there’s a world that prompts you to put your best foot forward”. With Sparkle Hard Malkmus, Mike Clark (keyboards), Joanna Bolme (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) do exactly that. And they hit the ground running – on air treads.

    It’s light ’n’ breezy, head-down heavy, audacious, melancholic and reflective, goodtime and bodacious, and it pulls off the smartest trick: it’s both unmistakeably The Jicks and – due to the streamlining of their trademark tics and turns, plus the introduction of some unexpected flourishes (Auto-Tune, a fiddle, guest vocalist Kim Gordon, one seven-minute song with an acoustic folk intro) – The Jicks refashioned. If 2014’s Wig Out At Jag Bags balanced the lengthy prog workouts of Pig Lib with Mirror Traffic’s sparky pop moments, then Sparkle Hard bears less obvious direct relation to what’s come before. It also has turbocharged energy and enthusiasm by the truckload.

    Malkmus started writing Sparkle Hard in 2015. He’d upgraded his home-recording equipment and bought some electronic drums and had been working on the Netflix series Flaked (he penned the incidental music and the end theme song). Demos were done in one day in April of 2017 and then in May, The Jicks started recording at a new studio in Portland called Halfling, which is managed by multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk of The Decemberists, who produced the album.

    Self-indulgent escapism has never been The Jicks’ bag, but on Sparkle Hard, the reality of modern life sits closer to the surface, communication cutting to the chase whether it’s a proto-punk grind or a back-porch country duet doing the talking. A cleaner burn for dark and complex times.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Classic slacker vibes, double tracked vocal flourishes and more acoustic balladry make up the backbone of Malkmus' output, but this one takes the elements previously laid and fleshes them out into tender but beautiful statements of melody and rhythm. More full-on heavy moments are tempered with their ability to reduce things when needed ; the bass/guitar scree in 'Shiggy' serving as a perfect example of a wholly accomplished concept, executed with style.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Indie-exclusive deluxe heavyweight coloured vinyl with insert.

    LP Info: Heavyweight vinyl with insert.

    Will Oldham, AKA Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, here continues to carve his niche in the world of indie-Americana with "Beware", his seventh under his current alias. Where his preceding album, 2008's "Lie Down In The Light", was a reasonably cheerful and buoyant affair, one look at the song titles alone for this release indicate that Oldham is considerably less bright here. Titles such as "Beware Your Only Friend", "Death Final" and "I Don't Belong To Anyone" seem to suggest that the mood is significantly more sombre for this outing. The constants with Oldham, though, are his sparse arrangements and world-weary howling delivery, and "Beware" sees him continue to be a much-admired songwriter.



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