Rare Chance to Catch Lily & Madeleine Live

June 7th, 2013 , by

Lily and Madeleine are hitting the road for the first time.

“We’re kind of making it a family vacation,” explains Lily Jurkewiecz, the younger of the two sisters that make up the acoustic duo.  Lily and Madeleine, who followed up their viral video success by recording an EP of original material, played—and sold out—their first-ever live shows earlier this year. Now their EP, The Weight of the Globe, has been picked up for a June 11 release by Asthmatic Kitty, and the duo is set to make a handful of appearances in the Midwest and Northeast.

The sisters kick off the summer with a show in their hometown of Indianapolis this Saturday, June 8, in the Deluxe Room at the Old National Centre, followed by their first-ever East Coast show at Joe’s Pub in NYC on June 11, and a June 12 performance at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

They’re also excited about their upcoming performance at the Clawhammer festival in Oshkosh, WI, from July 20-21. “I’m looking forward to connecting with other musicians,” says Madeleine. “That’s going to be neat.”

Are they anxious or intimidated at the thought of playing their first shows outside of Indiana? No, Madeleine laughs. “People have asked us that, and I think like, ‘Am I supposed to be intimidated?’ I feel really good about it. It’s going to be like a whirlwind, I think, but we’re just along for the ride.”

After the full-band sound of Weight of the World, these live dates mark a return to the stripped-down sound of the duo’s home recordings—accompanying their own voices on keyboard and guitar—but the two look forward to heading back into the studio with the new material that they and songwriting partner Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) have written for their first full-length album.

The sisters hint that we can expect the new material to be slightly more optimistic that their melancholy first recording, thanks in part to the possibilities opened up by their sudden musical success. “The EP was mostly about the feelings of like anxiety and restless that come with being a teenager—teen angst—but the new stuff is more about the excitement of this new adventure” as musicians, says Madeleine; it’s “more positive. We’re excited about it.”

These summer dates mark a rare chance to see the two perform live. Lily is heading into her senior year of high school this fall, and Madeleine is off to start her first year of college. They’re taking their parents and younger brother along to the East Coast dates, which they’re looking forward to not just as a performing opportunity but as a change of scene.

“We don’t know what to expect from New York,” says Madeleine. “I’ve just been there once, and Lily’s never been.”

“It’ll be fun,” says Lily. “It’ll be a family adventure.”

Getting Back to the River with Lily & Madeleine

June 4th, 2013 , by

Director/photographer Allister Ann seems to have nothing but warm words for sister duo Lily & Madeleine, whose first music video drops today. Released in advance of their Asthmatic Kitty EP, The Weight of the Globe, Ann’s video for “Back to the River” marries the melancholy track to black-and-white footage of the sisters.

“Even though the song itself is very slow and almost nostalgic,” says Ann, “the girls’ vibrant charm needed to be portrayed, so what we hopefully ended up with is a good balance of representing the music and the artists.”

For Nashville-based Allister Ann, that meant balancing the sad nostalgia of the song against footage capturing the duo’s easygoing personalities. She scouted locations around the two young women’s native Indianapolis that matched the timeless qualities of the track, and wardrobe stylist Mizzie Logan outfitted the girls in a classic look to match.

“It was wonderful going into a town with a fresh pair of eyes,” says Ann. “The architecture and history of that city was so inspiring, with bits and pieces that reminded me of old Europe. Ultimately I chose places that I thought would best represent the feel of the song.”

The result is a clip that manages to seem nostalgic for the present, as if capturing the singers’ youthful energy in a time-capsule of vintage home movies. Ann says that he shoot itself was as much fun as it looks: “Lily and Madeleine are so sweet, kind and talented; they made everything effortless and were so easy to work with.

“Best of all,” she adds, “I made some new friends.”

See the video on Vogue.com here, or below.

[youtube width="547" height="308"]http://youtu.be/VVnvhjFywFQ[/youtube]

Shannon Stephens has Spring Fever; On Tour

June 4th, 2013 , by

“It must have been spring fever,” says Shannon Stephens; a Facebook announcement from the Seattle-based singer-songwriter says she’s hitting the road in the month of June on a “crazy regional tour.”

On Thursday, May 30, Stephens kicked the tour off with a concert at Olympia’s Spar Cafe, featuring Graydon Holden of lower lights burning, to be followed by seven more dates around the Northwest. Filling out the bill at most shows will be Stephens’ fellow Seattleites, singer-songwriter j. wong and three-piece Pablo Trucker.

Upcoming dates include June 6—j. wong’s birthday—at Seattle’s Sunset Tavern; June 7 at Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre; Boon’s Treasury in Salem, OR on June 8; and a June 15 show at Everett, WA’s Anchor Pub featuring Tomo Nakayama and Cami Lundeen. Finally, wong and Pablo Trucker return to the tour for three more dates: June 21 at Mikey’s Gyros in Moscow, ID; June 22 at Sandpoint, ID’s Downtown Crossing; and June 23 at Caffè Mela in Wenatchee, WA.

The Seattle Weekly called Shannon Stephens the “Best Female Vocalist of 2012,” and those clear, warm vocals come with a wry and often dark songwriting sensibility. She led the band Marzuki along with Sufjan Stevens, and her music has been covered by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, who also sings on her latest album. Pull It Together, her third LP, came out last year on Asthmatic Kitty, and Stephens has begun writing songs for a fourth.

[youtube width="542" height="305"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyUySbnhMVY[/youtube]

Asthmatic Kitty Invade UK

June 4th, 2013 , by

We have not one, not two, but four shows in just three days for Asthmatic Kitty artists Fol Chen and Denison Witmer in London, starting on June 3.

Denison’s recently released self -titled album has received glowing praise from the likes of Uncut, who gave it an 8/10 and said “it’s a beauty” and  featured one of Denison’s tracks on their Best Albums of the Month compilation.  Denison will play his first headline UK show  at the Angel in Islington on June 3. He follows that  and then an invite only show at Black’s, also in London on June 4 (for an invite, please email tom at asthmatickitty dot com.  Denison then heads north to Manchester for a show at the Castle on June 5.  All ticket details are available on the tour page.

Fol Chen will make their way into the UK for their first London show for 3 years when they play a free gig at the Shacklewell Arms, London on June 5.  Tickets can be downloaded here. They’ll be playing songs from their brand new long player The False Alarms described by The Line of Best Fit as “everything is meticulous, deliberately ingenious. It all flows excellently; there’s no disjointed genre-hopping here.”

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May 24th, 2013 , by

(Photo by Mike Massaro)

DM Stith has hardly been silent in the years since the release of his eerily intense Asthmatic Kitty debut, 2009′s Heavy Ghost. The Revival Hour, his project in collaboration with John-Mark Lapham of the Earlies (Secretly Canadian), put out its first full-length earlier this year, and is gaining momentum with a new remix EP, a new video, and soon, a European tour.

The dark, soulful sound of the first Revival Hour LP, Scorpio Little Devil—sometimes nostalgic and warm, sometimes noisy and futuristic, but always densely, lavishly arranged—has garnered especially rapturous acclaim in the UK press. The Independent praised the duo’s “exotic musical creations,” and the Guardian argued that contrary to the name of the band, “five seconds of this stuff,” hardly a full sixty minutes, were all the Revival Hour needed to revive its listeners.

Now, two tracks from Scorpio, “Hold Back” and “Run Away,” have been remixed by Lost in Edit and the Earlies, respectively, for a 7″ available from Bandcamp and totally free to download until May 26. The smoky Memphis sound of “Hold Back” has also become a suitably sultry new music video, directed by the Antiphon Music Group and streaming on YouTube and Vimeo.

Coming up this fall, European audiences will get a chance to hear The Revival Hour make their music in person, with dates already announced at Vieland’s Into the Great Wide Open Festival on Sept. 6 and 9 in the Netherlands, at Radar in Aarhus, Denmark on the Sept. 11, and at London’s Sebright Arms on Sept. 17.

You can buy Revival Hour music all in one place here.

[youtube width="542" height="305"]http://youtu.be/w4kEBx_8vA4[/youtube]

New Album from Julianna Barwick on Dead Oceans

May 16th, 2013 , by

Big changes are afoot for Asthmatic Kitty alumna Julianna Barwick, who is moving forward with the release of a new record on a new record label.  Nepenthe, the follow-up to 2011′s highly acclaimed The Magic Place, will be released this summer on the prestigious independent label Dead Oceans, already home to such diverse artists as Frog Eyes, Califone, and Akron/Family.

Nepenthe marks a departure for Barwick in more ways than one.  Like her concert performances, driven by live loops and effects, The Magic Place created complex, layered harmonies primarily using Barwick’s voice, with almost no instrumental accompaniment.  A Brooklyn native raised in the South, Barwick named the album for a tree in the back pasture of the Louisiana farm where she grew up, and recorded it in her figurative backyard, at a Brooklyn rehearsal space.

With Nepenthe, the process was radically different.  For her latest effort, named after a mythical potion for forgetting one’s sorrows, Barwick recorded in the dramatic landscape of Mosfellsbær, Iceland, at the Sundlaugin recording studios established by Sigur Rós.

Alex Somers, the band’s producer as well as half of the duo Jónsi & Alex with his partner, Sigur Rós singer Jón Þór Birgisson, produced and engineered the new disc, while other luminaries of the Icelandic scene contributed their performing talents.  Performers from múm and the string quartet turned multi-instrumentalist ensemble Amiina contributed to the record, along with a whole choir of local young women.

Nepenthe is scheduled for an August 2013 release, eagerly anticipated by critics and fans alike, as well as by her friends at Asthmatic Kitty Records.

[youtube width="542" height="305"]http://youtu.be/cTuxswB_Rew[/youtube]

Denison Witmer’s New Album Out Now

May 2nd, 2013 , by

A decade and a half into his musical career, singer-guitarist Denison Witmer has released a self-titled album, and for Witmer, Denison Witmer comes as an occasion to reflect on the unusual lessons of a life spent as a quiet, underground success.

“Looking over the arc of a career, there are moments when you got it right,” he says, “and moments where you didn’t. For me, music’s always about the process. It’s not always about the final product; it’s more about the journey. You work song by song and album by album in pursuit of something—I really try to trust that approach.”

Building the Honey Jar studio with producer and collaborator Devin Greenwood has made it possible for him to create a recording using the same patient, intuitive processes that have driven his songwriting—and his career. Witmer was able to bring in trusted performers like Greenwood, William Fitzsimmons, Dawn Landes, and Sufjan Stevens, and give them free rein to realize his music.

The result is an organic musical self-portrait, drawing inspiration and consolation from sources as different as Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet and the life of knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, and weaving them into what is arguably Witmer’s most direct and personal album to date.

Denison Witmer is out today on Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Be sure to check out Denison on American Songwriter, where he’s Writer of the Week.

“One  source of inspiration for this record was the story of the knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey . . . He said that some days you pitch it perfectly, other days you don’t. It’s so erratic that when the ball leaves your hand, you have to immediately accept that it might not be great or go where you want it to. You have to focus on the next pitch and let go of the mistakes behind you.” Denison Witmer, speaking to American Songwriter

New Video from Lily & Madeleine

May 2nd, 2013 , by

Along with the rest of the internet, we were immediately captivated by Lily & Madeleine the first time we saw “In The Middle” on YouTube (see that video here).

American Songwriter just released “Tired,” another video of Lily & Madeleine from the same acoustic session. It is just as striking and lovely. You can view it here, or below.

Other good news: we’re told that the 10″ vinyl of their forthcoming EP, The Weight of the Globe, is finished production and should be landing soon. We’re told it looks and sounds fantastic. You can reserve your copy of the 10″, which we’ll ship to you in June, here.


‘Til I Die: New Single from Chris Schlarb

May 2nd, 2013 , by

Chris Schlarb’s new album, Psychic Temple II, arrives July 16th but you can hear the album’s first single now. “‘Til I Die” is Chris Schlarb et al’s take on one of the only Beach Boy songs written entirely by Brian Wilson (Wikipedia entry on the song here).

Chris enlisted the help of Nedelle Torrisi, Raymond Raposa of Castanets, and Sufjan Stevens for vocals, and Mars Volta keyboardist Ikey Owens, and Paul Masvidal.

SPIN has generously premiered the song. You can listen on SPIN.com here, below, or on Soundcloud here. If you’d like to take the song with you, you can download it here on Bandcamp.

[youtube width="542" height="305"]http://youtu.be/u2JaCBnEzsM[/youtube]

All Skate: New Video from Fol Chen

April 13th, 2013 , by

Premiered by Impose Magazine here, and directed by Chris Wilcha, this new video of “I.O.U.” captures everything you love about roller skating and Fol Chen at the same time.

“I.O.U.” comes to us from Fol Chen’s new album, The False Alarms. Notably Canadian Exclaim wrote that “listening to The False Alarms is like hooking up an I.V. drip with maple syrup to your arm.”


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