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.
September 2nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Yes, Helado Negro is one of the kids on the cover of his new album, Double Youth. But he won’t say which one. A long-forgotten photo dug out of a childhood closet, this mysterious image encapsulates the themes of his latest record, released today: the duality and ambiguity of memory, identity, and self.
He communicates them with language, through the ambiguity of his lyrical content, the duality of his bilingualism, and even through a gentle warping of grammar itself: what Helado Negro, a.k.a. Roberto Lange, calls the “confused consciousness” of the opening track—”Are I Here”—is right there in the title, as the words’ refusal to agree with each other manages to be at once technically incorrect and oddly appropriate.
And perhaps more importantly, he communicates it in the rich dualities and ambiguities of the music itself. His arrangements are replete with fuzzy basslines, blurry beats, and a haze of dreamy vocals, but organized with tautly syncopated grooves and focused songcraft. Through the nuanced layering of spare, but discreetly nuanced elements, he creates something vastly more textured and complex than the sum of its parts.
Sasha Geffen at Pitchfork reviewed the album: “Fittingly, Double Youth, the boldest and most intricate Helado Negro work to date, grapples with memory and its uncanny tendency to wear away despite our best intentions to preserve it.”
Catch Roberto of Helado Negro on CNN yesterday here.
Double Youth arrives in a plethora of formats: CD, digital download, black LP, limited edition translucent blue LP, and an even more limited VIP edition of 100 translucent blue LPs sleeves decorated by hand—complete with those two enigmatic youths, printed on photo paper, plus more hand-made surprises inside.
Buy it here.
August 29th, 2014 , by John Beeler
You can now hear the title track from This Is My Hand by My Brightest Diamond. The song debuted today on Hitfix. Go here to listen, and to read an interview with Shara Worden of MBD. Says Shara:
This song is really about self acceptance and re-integrating the WHOLE self and there is so much happening right now across the globe, with body image, our sexuality, slavery, racism, that I just feel like this song belongs to “the larger tribe” and I want to open up this video format so that more people can have a “ritual” of sorts, accepting themselves and the tribe shows itself to be beautiful and varied as possible.
You can be in the music video for “This Is My Hand” by taking a photo that matches the lyrics and posting it on Instagram. See here for details. We hope you do.
Limited edition translucent red vinyl is still available, and we have a few hand-numbered, handstamped VIP editions left (only 150 worldwide). Get either of those here.
August 19th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Castanets’ new album is out today.
When we asked writer Will Boast to pen the liner notes for Decimation Blues, here’s what he wrote:
Decimation Blues [is] the music of a man who’s learned to live and build among the wreckage—twelve seemingly offhand, secretly meticulous tracks that we can hunker down in. “Still always good to be alone in someone else’s home,” Raposa sings. He’ll lend us his place, or teach us how to fix up our own. Come in out of the rain, put your shoes by the fire. The walls might shake, the wind might howl, but you’ll be safe here a while.
Fred Thomas reviewed the record at Allmusic:
Perhaps the complete lack of self-consciousness is at once the most impressive and strangest thing about the album. This is the sound of an artist open to a range of possibilities so vast they can’t help but contradict each other, and he just can’t be bothered by the confusion or annoyance those contradictions may cause his listenership. In the end it doesn’t matter anyway, as Raposa is already on to one of the album’s many moments of brilliance by the time our heads have stopped spinning from one of its moments of unfettered oddness.
We have some limited edition marbled blue vinyl still left, which you can see and buy here.
And be sure to watch the new music video to “Tell Them Memphis” below
August 18th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Lily & Madeleine’s goal is to release an album a year. So far, they’re on track to hold to that promise. Last week we announced Fumes, Lily & Madeleine’s follow-up to last year’s self-titled LP. We also released “The Wolf is Free,” the first single from the album, a song that promises not just a new album but a developed maturity in sound for L&M.
Now we’re proud to release the video to the song. Directed by Laurel Cohen in the woods of Indiana, the video features Lily & Madeleine making preparations for a mysterious tea party.
Rookie debuted the video and also interviewed the girls about the song, the new album, and life in general. Read it here.
Fumes is due at the end of October. You can preorder it here.