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DOUBLE SIX

"Volume One" introduces a boy and girl choir making music the old-fashioned way: by hand and with as few machines as humanly possible. The She & Him story begins when in 2006 when renowned one man band M. Ward, recorded a duet with a girl named Zooey Deschanel. A delightful recording session, the experience led to a dialogue between the two about collaborating further. This, in turn, led to Deschanel admitting to secretly making dozens of home demos and hoarding them like acorns for the winter. Realising that if songs were acorns then this was indeed her wintertime, Deschanel sent the recordings to Ward and the demos became the basis for their first record, entitled "Volume One". Aiming to achieve the warmth and charm of pop and country records from the early and mid twentieth century, Ward, who also produced the record, and Deschanel, who wrote most of the music, called upon the help of a number of extraordinary musicians including: Rachel Blumberg, Adam Selzer, Mike Coykendall, Tom Hagerman, Peter Broderick, Mike Mogis, and Paul Brainerd.

FORMAT INFORMATION

CD Info: Presented here on CD with jewelcase packaging.

Having written most of his previous albums alone, About The Light marks a change in approach for Steve.

“I decided with this album that I wanted to get my live band involved at every stage because I wanted to capture the energy that we produce when we play live shows, so this time the band and myself worked on a collection of songs over the course of last year,” he explains.

Picking Stephen Street to produce the album, and with a very clear plan in mind, from the off the goal was to capture the songs live and draw out their soulful elements.

Talking about the process, Stephen Street says, “Steve explained that he wanted to make this album with his band playing more ‘live’ than on some of his previous offerings and also to augment the songs with brass and female backing vocalists. I felt this approach of first stripping back the songs to a more ‘live’ feel to create more space for the more ‘soulful’ elements to breathe in was an interesting one and we got down to work!”

Recorded at studios in London and Brighton, About The Light, sees a subtle yet noticeable evolution in Steve’s sound.

“When I listen to this album it feels and sounds like the first ‘legitimate’ record that I have ever made. It’s hard to explain but it sounds like a ‘real’ album. I think that is partly the production, the playing and the work that I did with the band for all those months in our rehearsal room on the South Coast,” says Steve.

“It’s a beautiful, confident, positive, angry, loving and gentle album which once again moves what I do forward,” he adds. “David Bowie said that you should always be slightly out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve greatness, and for the first time perhaps ever, I deliberately pushed myself into that place. Who doesn’t want greatness?”

STAFF COMMENTS

Laura says: Wearing his heart on his sleeve both emotionally and politically, the former Beta Band front man brings us his best and most direct album to date. As ever he dabbles with different genres, be it folky ballads, melodica tinged dub, Stones-ey southern Soul or big hook filled pop songs, but this time around, more than ever, he’s managed to meld everything into a cohesive, uplifting whole.

FORMAT INFORMATION

Coloured LP Info: Limited indies exclusive silver vinyl edition.

All We Are

Sunny Hills

All We Are are Guro Gikling from Norway (vocals, bass), Luis Santos from Brazil (guitars) and Richard O’Flynn from Ireland (drums/vocals). It hasn’t escaped them that the world seems to be spiraling into a period of darkness and through their music; they want to say it’s ok not to belong and it’s ok to feel different.

The resulting Sunny Hills is an irresistibly danceable, dark yet uplifting record about what it means to be alive right now and the power of friendship and togetherness in a world intent on driving us apart.

The artwork echoes this sentiment, the band explain “it shows an old house sandwiched between two large buildings under development. The woman who owned the house refused to sell to a number of developers including Donald Trump. She resisted for years while the developers even bought the space above the house. She finally won the case and stayed there for a further decade until her death. Before that, she watched Donald Trump’s casino fail and close its doors. There is a feeling of powerful resistance in this story that we relate to along with a real sense of defiance and eventual victory against a bigger power.”

Whilst political, Sunny Hills also documents the emotional rollercoaster the three-piece have been on in the past two years. Their adopted city Liverpool affected the album as well, it’s “an immigrant city with a proud history of welcoming everyone” they state, it’s also a singularly radical and resistant city and the band see a parallel between today’s climate of alienation and fear and the era of Thatcher.

Political, poetic, danceable and affirming - for all the proud citizens of nowhere, All We Are give you Sunny Hills.

Written at home by Mason, the tracks were then rehearsed in Brighton with touring band mates Steve Duffield and Greg Nielson, before being recorded with Elbow keyboardist and producer Craig Potter at Blueprint Studios in Salford. Recorded in the studios ‘big room’, an ex-factory space with floor to ceiling windows, the album took shape during a smooth and enjoyable six weeks in the early summer of 2015.

Following from his ‘double political concept album’ ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’ this album is a move towards a more simple ethic; ‘an album where each song is a separate entity, where there is no great narrative running through it.’

‘Meet The Humans’ is shot through with a sense of renewal following Steve’s recent move to Brighton, swinging musically across dance, pop, folk, dub, and deep house influences. It’s a record which repeatedly returns to core themes, the possibility of others to redeem the self, the opportunity of change for the better in the individual, the joy of life and the world we inhabit, it’s arguably the most complete and direct of Steve’s long discography - eleven personal stories combined into one positive and proper whole, the sweep of the human condition written large and full of love and hope and joy.


STAFF COMMENTS

Andy says: The funky ex Beta Band maestro returns with a buoyant encapsulation of all that is good in his groovesome world. The lush production and airy vibes make this pretty close to a pop record, but as ever, there's always the melancholy in the melody for Mr. Mason. However, certain tracks on here take us right back to those glorious baggy days of 1989, which I always thought was Steve's musical template. Combining these with the more introspective moments make this possibly the best album of his career so far. Inspirational.


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