Saturday, December 10, 2016

DJ Shadow (Featuring Run The Jewels): Nobody Speak

Yeah, I know it's right up there with John Lennon singing 'Imagine", but hey, it's almost Xmas so bear with me for a moment or two.

Wouldn't it be nice if, rather than left to politicians, local, regional, national and international relations were instead put in the hands of artists and bands, famous and not? Yep, I know a lot of creative people have big egos and some recording artists are known for their kids-in-a-sandbox feuds, but I can't think of a single musician who has started a bona fide civil war or world war (nope, not even chest-beating rockers and rappers have that on their resume.)

British director Sam Pilling's tragic-comic, powerful and sublime video accompanying DJ Shadow's superb track "Nobody Speak" featuring El-P and Killer Mike aka Run the Jewels from the 2016 album 'The Mountain Will Fall' was published in August. Included in the notes on YouTube is the following delightful dead pan statement from DJ Shadow himself:

"We wanted to make a positive, life-affirming video that captures politicians at their election-year best. We got this instead."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Native Dancer: Pixies + In Clouds

London band Native Dancer was founded in 2013; it was named after Wayne Shorter's 1974 album, and like Shorter they are fearless sonic explorers: by mixing their favorite genres pop, soul, electronica, be-bop, hip hop, trip-hop and rock, the quintet has managed to come up with a sound that is remarkably distinct and utterly irresistible.

Jonathan Harvey (bass), Sam Crowe (keys), Joshua Blackmore (drums) and Josh Arcoleo (sax) all display truly outstanding musicianship; however, the group's ace is Frida Mariama Touray whose formidable voice is one of the finest I've ever heard.

Born and raised in Sweden, the 26-year-old vocalist has been living in the UK since 2010. Her resume is impressive: a Bachelor degree in popular music performance from the British and Irish Modern Music Institute aka BIMM Institute, steady work with Lianne La Havas among others, plus playing in several bands. She dropped the excellent solo EP 'Mamas Fiestis' in 2011, but in Native Dancer she seems to have found her musical home, releasing two stellar EPs with the band and regularly playing live with the lads.

Native Dancer will be performing at next year's SXSW Festival in Austin (March 13 - 19) which will hopefully attract industry attention in the States as well as gain them many new American fans.

The superb live performance of the song "Pixies" was filmed in London on October 20 as part of the ongoing concert series SoFar (Songs From a Room). (NOTE: "Pixies" is not included on either of the band's two EPs and so must be a recent composition.)

The beautiful video for the sublime track "In Clouds" off the 2016 EP 'Vol II' was directed by London based photographer Tom Griffiths.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Easy Wanderlings: Enjoy It While You Can + Faces

"We are a bit secretive because we want our art to be our identity. If you really want to know us you can always come to one of our gigs."

Mystery band Easy Wanderlings was founded in March 2015 and are based in India. The line up seems to change from one performance to the other.

This fall they performed in Bombay/Mumbai and in Bangalore/Bengaluru as part of the ongoing concert series SoFar [Songs From a Room.] The live performances of the stellar songs "Enjoy It While You Can" and "Faces" are both wonderful; make sure however to also listen to the studio versions on SoundCloud.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wild Palms: A Is For Apple + Temper Gold + 100 Cymbals

After Parish, before Bacon  

Drummer and co-founder James Parish left London band Wild Palms not long after they finished their eagerly awaited second full-length 'Live Together, Eat Each Other' which dropped in May. No word on whether the title reflects the challenges of the members recording together for five years.

Danny Bacon has now replaced Parish and will join singer Lou Hill, bassist Gareth Jones and guitarist Darrel Hawkins for a show on home turf at The Waiting Room this Friday night November 25. 

Brighton film maker/animator Jeb Hardwick directed three excellent and very different videos to go with the utterly stunning album tracks "A Is for Apple", "Temper Gold" and "100 Cymbals" (the latter is a 360 degree clip: use the arrows in the top left corner to get the full effect.)  (music service options)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Palace: Holy Smoke

London band Palace have been touring continental Europe this month and have six UK shows scheduled for the next two weeks.

They released the EP 'Lost in the Night' in 2014, followed up with the EP 'Chase the Light' in 2015 and dropped their eleven-track debut full-length 'So Long Forever' November 4.

video was published already in late September to accompany the gorgeous track "Holy Smoke" off the new album.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Leonard Cohen: A Thousand Kisses Deep (R.I.P.)

At age 35. Photo by Irving Penn for Vogue, 1969

Another giant has fallen. Canadian poet and singer Leonard Cohen, one of the finest songwriters of our time, passed away peacefully Monday November 7 in his home in Hancock Park in Los Angeles at the age of 82. His acclaimed fourteenth studio album 'You Want It Darker' was released October 21. Recorded mostly at home, it was produced by his son Adam Cohen.

His songs have been covered by many, among the very best and most famous versions are "Suzanne" by Judy Collins and "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley.

But today I wanted to hear the man himself and chose the haunting live performance of "A Thousand Kisses Deep" from his 2012-2013 world tour.

Leonard Cohen, September 21, 1934 - November 7, 2016. R.I.P.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Glass Gang: Outside Your Love

Brooklyn trio Glass Gang attracted attention with their mixtape in 2014, but it is the outstanding five-track debut EP '1 For None' released last week that ought to propel them towards the same level of rabid adoration enjoyed by the giants they cite as inspirations, chiefly The Cure, Bauhaus, and Sisters of Mercy. (I would add genius melody makers Depeche Mode to that list of influences.) Like Depeche Mode and The Cure in particular, Glass Gang have wisely realized that "catchy chorus" and "catchy tune" are not dirty words and that music which is most frequently termed dark and gothic can sound as sunny as the brightest pop gem.

A gorgeous, semi-creepy black/white video was made to accompany the superb single "Outside Your Love" and published in June. The clip was directed by filmmaker and photographer Taylor Antisdel.

The three members of Glass Gang (who have so far declined to give their names to the press) will perform three debut UK shows: Leeds on November 6, London November 8, Brighton November 9.

NOTE: Make sure to listen to all five EP tracks on Soundcloud - there's not a bad apple in the bunch.