October 16th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Audiences at the Austin City Limits performance of My Brightest Diamond were surprised by a Minor Mishap, but it was all part of the show. The live experience of the tour This Is My Hand, My Brightest Diamond’s ambitious and eclectic new LP, has been a full-tilt rock spectacle, and this time it included an appearance by Austin’s own Minor Mishap Marching Band.
Long fascinated by the spatial dimensions of sound, My Brightest Diamond vocalist and songwriter Shara Worden went into the planning of the This Is My Hand tour and record with every intention of making the concert a fully immersive sensory experience. In Austin, this meant recruiting the self-described “renegade circus-punk-brass band” Minor Mishap to parade through the crowd and onto the stage, marching, dancing, and pumping up the crowd with their own high-energy live show—a little bit Balkan, a little bit Dixieland, a little bit hip-hop—before breaking into the cadence for “Pressure,” the opening number of This Is My Hand and of MBD’s Austin City Limits set.
The entire Minor Mishap Marching Band performance, from the first steps of their procession through the crowd to the last note of “Pressure,” was captured in YouTube footage shot from the lawn in Austin, complete with honorary band member Worden in a drum-majoresque stage costume proudly accented with the yellow and black of the Minor Mishap uniform.
The local press went wild for My Brightest Diamond’s set, which the Austin Chronicle dubbed “one of the most underrated performances of the weekend.”
“Given the intensity of her songs,” said the Chronicle’s Doug Freeman, “Worden nevertheless projected exuberance and appreciation throughout, unleashing a guitar maelstrom” on the seething live version of This Is My Hand‘s complex and hypnotic “Resonance,” and concluding that “My Brightest Diamond has matured into a musical force.”
Now on tour in Europe, My Brightest Diamond returns to the US for another string of live dates from St. Paul to San Diego in November and December.
October 7th, 2014 , by John Beeler
With their second LP, Fumes, scheduled for release just a year after their self-titled debut, singer-songwriting team Lily & Madeleine are turning out to be as prolific as they are precocious. Fumes follows up on the promise of that first full-length by showing the sisters moving even further beyond the nostalgic, acoustic pop sound of their early recordings with the poised rock sound of songs like their new single, “Rabbit,” whose debut this week is being celebrated with a special premiere at Elle, a new Noisetrade download, and a special fanmade video contest.
As heard at the Soundcloud stream premiered exclusively at Elle, “Rabbit” brings the Jurkiewicz sisters’ commanding voices and cool, dry wit to the part of the wronged lover in a relationship gone south. Like “The Wolf is Free,” the first track released from Fumes, it exudes both a honeyed charm and an undercurrent of menace.
At least, that might be one interpretation—but Lily & Madeleine want to see yours. At lilmadrabbit.com, the pair are offering a chance to submit fan videos, with a shot at winning one of two prize packages: as chosen by the fans, the best video wins a signed poster and a limited edition copy of Fumes on colored vinyl; as chosen by the sisters themselves, the best video is not only selected to be the new official clip for “Rabbit” but also wins a $500, a colored limited edition Fumes LP, a black-vinyl copy of the the self-titled debut LP, a Lily & Madeleine t-shirt, and a signed poster. Having once been aspiring YouTube stars themselves, Lily & Madeleine are not necessarily interested in discovering the most experienced filmmaker in the world, so much as they are in seeing a distinctive vision for their track from fans of every age.
To make it easier to enter, Noisetrade has made “Rabbit” available today in a special download, by itself or in a special compilation of singles. A new sort of song from Lily & Madeleine, “Rabbit” demonstrates just how much Lily & Madeleine have grown as musicians since they first began recording, realizing their acute songwriting instincts through a new range of studio strategies—subtle coups of arrangement and production that underscore the equally elegant fillips of their wry lyrics and close harmony. “Rabbit,” the latest snapshot from the year-in-the-life that is Fumes, portends great things from this album… and the next, and the next.
October 3rd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Our latest sampler is up just in time for autumn. The compilation begins with a shiner from My Brightest Diamond, follows up with Castanets, and proceeds down our eclectic catalog with songs from Mozart’s Siser, Helado Negro, and Lily & Madeleine, as well a retrospective inclusion of a song from Sufjan Stevens’ BQE.
Artist, architect, designer, musician, and skateboarder Matthew Skjonsberg designed the cover art.
September 25th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Lily & Madeleine’s “Sounds Like Somewhere” will be on tonight’s premiere of the final season of Parenthood. Will it air during Amber’s pregnancy test? When Sandy drives into town? And what does it mean that this season will be about the “cycle of life?”
Watch it tonight on NBC 10pm EST.
September 23rd, 2014 , by John Beeler
The music of Helado Negro travels unusually well. Florida-born, Brooklyn-based, Roberto Carlos Lange—the man behind the Helado Negro moniker—composes grooves that are the definition of cosmopolitan. His new, emphatically bilingual LP, Double Youth, effectively hybridizes musical elements from across the Western Hemisphere—traces of experimental electronica, hip-hop, dub, and a range of Latin musical languages—into something deeply personal and unique, but as close as one could imagine to a universal music. Double Youth can expect to find itself at home wherever it goes.
This fall, Helado Negro’s Double Youth is spanning the coasts in a marathon tour starting Friday, Sept. 19 at The Roxy in Los Angeles. For these first West Coast dates—L.A., San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver, Seattle—Helado Negro is supporting sardonic pop symphonist and fellow Brooklynite Son Lux.
The second leg features the mesmerizing funk/soul of Sinkane—a singer-songwriter based in London and every bit as cosmopolitan as Helado Negro—and goes from Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on Oct. 5 through Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Charlottesville, VA; Asheville, NC; Louisville, KY; Chicago, IL; and Minneapolis, MN before returning to the West Coast.
After more dates in Washington, Portland, San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego, Helado Negro and Sinkane swing back up through Tucson, Phoenix, Austin, New Orleans, Birmingham, Nashville, Columbus and Pittsburgh, before the final show in New York, NY on Sunday, Nov. 2.
Also: Helado Negro’s live performance on WNYC’s Soundcheck is now available in the form of an audio stream at wnyc.org—featuring the songs “Are I Here,” “Ojos Que No Ven,” “Invisible Heartbeat,” and an insightful interview with host John Schaefer—plus two YouTube videos for the performances of “Invisible Heartbeat” and “Are I Here” in the Soundcheck studio.
The performances feature Helado Negro himself, Roberto Lange, on lead vocals and electronics, with guest vocals from Xenia Rubinos and a very special appearance from a trio of “tinsel dancers,” three literally scintillating backup dancers who must be seen to be believed.
September 16th, 2014 , by John Beeler
“Before the words, there was the sound.”
Primal, cerebral, at times ecstatic or uncannily serene, the new My Brightest Diamond album is out today, a personal statement by singer/composer Shara Worden and a paean to the universal power of music. This Is My Hand is an album about reconnecting—with a community, with oneself, and with one’s own body.
The press is already raving. The Guardian dubs Worden an “operatic cult star”; NME says the new LP ought to mark Worden’s entry into the “US experimental pop pantheon.” Shara Worden has said that This Is My Hand is in part about reaching out to bring together a community of listeners. And Pitchfork.com insists that she has succeeded: “This Is My Hand works on a visceral level, conjuring Worden’s intended image of tribal, fireside collaboration through a rich diversity of texture, detail, and tone.”
Naturally, This Is My Hand—an album that explores communal listening and music-making—will also be bringing together crowds around the world all autumn long by fueling a forty-stop tour across the United States, as well as in Canada and Europe.
The tours kicks off with a hometown show in Detroit, MI on Sept 19, followed by an leg running south from Toronto, Canada to Atlanta, GA from Sept. 20-Oct. 1. After a trio of Austin, TX shows (one on Oct. 3 and two on Oct. 10) during the Austin City Limits Festival, My Brightest Diamond plays The Kessler in Dallas, TX on Oct. 12, then heads to Europe for a string of performances on the Continent from Oct. 17-Oct. 26, plus four shows in the UK and Ireland Oct. 28-31. Finally, the tour returns home to the Midwest to conclude with a second run of US dates all the way from St. Paul, MN on Nov. 8 to San Diego, CA on Dec. 13.
This Is My Hand is available as a digital download, on CD, on black or limited edition red vinyl, and in a VIP edition literally, personally stamped with Worden’s own handprint (ed: sorry, hand-stamped edition is sold out!).
September 8th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Finally, it can be heard in full: NPR is offering an exclusive First Listen of This Is My Hand, the latest stage in the ongoing metamorphosis of My Brightest Diamond.
We’ve gotten sneak peeks at My Brightest Diamond’s new LP before, in the form of a pair of streaming singles and a visually stunning new video for its lead track, the defiant pop anthem “Pressure,” but This Is My Hand takes on another layer of meaning when listened to from beginning to end.
Shara Worden, the singer-songwriter of the My Brightest Diamond project, composed the album out of a deeply personal, almost confessional emotional impetus, but constructed it note by note and song by song according to a rigorous formal intelligence.
NPR’s Katie Presley gets it: “Worden’s music feels simultaneously micro-orchestrated and entirely, ecstatically spontaneous,” she says, adding, “Every song here works as both a mission statement and a directive that’s propulsive and demanding of full attention—while Worden’s voice, particularly in the title track, provides a firm yet loving affirmation.”
This preview of This Is My Hand is only available for a limited time, but the album will be available as a physical LP, CD or digital download on Tuesday, September 16.
Listen to the preview here.
September 6th, 2014 , by John Beeler
The new video to Mozart’s Sister’s “Good Thing, Bad Thing” debuted on Dummy Magazine. “It’s the sort of pop song that’s designed for people to dance around the living room to,” described Dummy, “so props to Martin and Eva who made the video for deciding that it should feature Mozart’s Sister (or many Mozart’s Sisters, as is actually the case) dancing around the living room.”
The Editorial interviewed Caila Thompson-Hannant of Mozart’s Sister.
“I still feel an urge to be really successful and I think a lot of artists do. But at the same time, that urge is an ego-based urge. It’s not really where the nectar lies in creation. The real nectar of creation is feeling this sense of your form disappearing. It’s like a disappearing of your ego itself in a way. At least it is for me. It is a feeling of tapping into something that isn’t you, it’s just something you’re participating in.” I ask her if she thinks her music is egoless. “No, I consider it to be ego-driven. But an ego that is questioning and self-reflexive. Or at least trying to be.”
The debut LP from Montreal’s Mozart’s Sister is now available on CD, LP, and digital. Buy it here.
September 5th, 2014 , by John Beeler
“I’m determined to change,” sings Denison Witmer in “Keep Moving Brother, Keep Moving Sister,” a song from his self-titled tenth record. In a new video set to the song and directed by Laura Dart, a couple’s relationship changes and moves, set against the dreamlike backdrop of rising and falling hot air balloons at The Great Prosser Balloon Rally.
Denison had this to say about the song and video:
My wife and I were driving through New Jersey a few years ago when we noticed the sky was full of hot air balloons. It was so beautiful that I almost crashed my car. We pulled off the highway with a simple plan: find out where those balloons are taking off or landing. We drove for an hour or more, winding through the countryside, stopping often to get out of the car and take in the sky full of balloons. Its an indelible moment of spontaneity, love, weightlessness, and being in the moment with someone you love. I feel the same way every time I watch this video.
Denison is also embarking on a “Living Room Tour” from November 2014 to February 2015.
West Coast USA – November 2014
Germany / EU – December 2014
East Coast USA – January 2015
Midwest USA – February 2015
Want to host Denison Witmer show in your living room? Email contactdenisonwitmer at gmail dot com for more details.
September 3rd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Rookie Magazine interviewed Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and premiered a brand new video for “Pressure.”
Did you find the answer to what the value of music is?
The answer came in not needing to answer the question anymore. In American culture, we have so much that communicates to us that art is superfluous. If something doesn’t have an immediate financial gain, then we say, “Well, that’s not valuable to us, and we’re not going to prioritize it.” In asking this question, I fell in love with making records again, and I fell in love with what music has meant to me. You can’t separate human beings from music. It’s always been with us.
Read the interview at Rookie here.
Derrick Belcham and Emily Terndrup directed the new video, which you can watch at Rookie or above.
My Brightest Diamond is making another video for the song “This Is My Hand” and you can be in it. See details here.