August 4th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Lily & Madeleine’s goal is to release an album-a-year for three years — a rare feat when the trend among singer-songwriters is to space albums by half-decades. So far, they’re on track: Fumes, the duo’s second LP, will be released October 28, 2014, 366 days after last year’s Lily & Madeleine.The sophomore album is a leap forward for the duo, a mature sentiment of two gifted young artists who have launched from their hometown onto the world stage with speed and grace.
When Indianapolis sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz first started making music together, it didn’t cross their minds that they could make a living at it. Although they now find themselves in an acclaimed full-fledged career, what got them here has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with the spirit.
“The music will always be first,” says Lily. Indeed, Lily & Madeleine’s artistic souls are obvious to anyone who has heard their recordings. From the beginning, the sisters’ calling card has been the breathtaking and intuitive union of their voices.
NPR’s All Songs Considered debuted “The Wolf is Free,” our first listen from the fall-bound album. It’s a wispy, ethereal, haunting song, a perfect summer track for that moment when the day turns to dark and the shadows start to loom among the trees. NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson, who’s heard the full record, praises, “This record has a little more of a kick to it…it’s fuller and more produced and more fleshed out…this whole record is zippier. I am excited about it.” Hear it on NPR here, or above.
July 22nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
Noisey has premiered Helado Negro’s latest music video, directed by Ryan Dickie and set to the album’s first single “I Krill You.” The video features Roberto Lange (aka Helado Negro) set against a projection of electronic nature: trees, bright lights, streamers, and lasers.
Helado Negro will be touring with Son Lux and Sinkane in the fall. See his tourdates here.
The album is out September 2. Limited edition blue vinyl, as well as VIP hand-made edition, are available to preorder here.
July 16th, 2014 , by John Beeler
It starts today: the latest phase in the musical evolution of My Brightest Diamond has officially begun with the release of None More than You, an EP of new material from composer/performer Shara Worden.
The five tracks collected here hint at a new direction for My Brightest Diamond, as Worden begins combining lullabies and laments of an almost tremulous intimacy with pop songs that take as much inspiration from classic poetry as they do from the latest dancefloor anthems.
Two of those tracks are a pair of vastly different takes on “Dreaming Awake”: the raw Son Lux Mix that opens the EP, and a mix by Mason Jar Music, who got caught trying to record the song at a secret session inside of an abandoned power station. Footage of that recording session—including the bust by the police, and the subsequent al fresco performance—has been uploaded to YouTube and premiered by Consequence of Sound, along with an embedded Soundcloud stream of the complete EP.
None More than You has been released exclusively on translucent purple vinyl or as a digital download here. In addition, iTunes has bundled together a Prismatic Edition of the forthcoming My Brightest Diamond LP, This Is My Hand, that includes a download of this EP, a pre-order of the LP (due in September), and a special advance download of “Pressure,” the lead track from This Is My Hand. It’s all available now.
July 8th, 2014 , by John Beeler
A lovely new digital EP is out today from Lily & Madeleine. The EP highlights seven acoustic versions of songs from their self-titled debut, and features a striking version of “Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips, later covered by Cat Power. You can purchase the EP on Bandcamp, iTunes, in our own store, or hear it on Rdio here.
Having just returned from a robust west coast tour with cellist Shannon Hayden, Lily & Madeleine also managed to record sessions at KCRW, Jefferson Public Radio, See also KCRW’s history of “Sea of Love” here. And if L&M weren’t busy enough, they managed to shoot a new music video set to the original, album version of “And Tonight.”
July 7th, 2014 , by John Beeler
“There’s a lot of freedom in playing solo,” says Chris Schlarb.
Fresh off the release of his new one-man, four-song, full-length LP, Making the Saint, Schlarb is taking to the road for a solo tour of the US this summer. Freed from the constraints of collaborative playing, his repertoire will encompass not only Saint‘s generous gamut from pop standard to long-form composition, but also covers ranging from Tears for Fears and XTC to ’60s soul duo James & Bobby Purify, in addition to material from both LPs recorded with his Psychic Temple project.
There will be a few surprises, too, says Schlarb: “Really, the only limitation is what I am able to come up with and execute.”
Schlarb’s tour will take him across the country and back, playing some 30 shows in just 40 days over July and August.
“Also,” adds Schlarb, somewhat mysteriously, “I built an 8 foot tall, mobile Psychic Temple to perform inside of.” This alone may be worth the price of admission.
A full list of Chris Schlarb’s tour dates is available at his official website, and Making the Saint can be purchased on CD, MP3, and limited edition white vinyl.
July 2nd, 2014 , by John Beeler
It’s been thirteen years since Asthmatic Kitty Records released Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit, but we’d never pressed it to vinyl — until this year. Now that it’s available in limited edition, colored vinyl, we thought we’d celebrate by asking director and animator Geoffrey Hoskinson to create a video. We let him choose the song and the concept for the video. What he created is mesmerizing and beautiful.
We asked Geoff a few questions over email about the video.
What appealed to you about the song “Year of the Tiger?”
“Year of the Tiger” is a really outstanding track on the record. I love how it is like a soft ballad juxtaposed with noisy glitchy interruptions and a big climax. It is these dynamics that really appeal to me.
Could you talk a bit about how you made this video? It’s so vibrant and alive. What tools did you use?
The video was created with Photoshop and After Effects. I designed all of the pieces in Photoshop and then animated them in After Effects.
There’s some really interesting visuals here; obviously the tiger is important, but you even have tiger sperm swimming through to a sun-egg. Your work tends to address some life/death issues. Could you speak to that?
What mainly drove the visuals for the video was the concept of birth. This was inspired by the notion of the birth cycles of the Chinese zodiac and the (then) impending birth of my son. The vocal parts in “Year of the Tiger” sounded to me like a wordless lullaby for a baby. So in the video, I saw the tigers as spiritual beings who were calling a new soul into existence with their song.
You can buy Enjoy Your Rabbit here, or at your local record store.
June 30th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Where does Helado Negro’s music come from? Awash in rich, ambient resonance, it seems to have emanated from someplace as remote as the future, or a distant memory.
But like all his music, Helado Negro’s new LP Double Youth was recorded in the place where he—Roberto Carlos Lange, a.k.a. Helado Negro—lives, in the home studio in his living room. And for all its sonic spaciousness, it’s also inescapably intimate.
Lange began work on Double Youth immediately after completing the last Helado Negro full-length, Invisible Life, during breaks from an enormous range of concurrent musical projects: along with Helado Negro material, he was creating experimental, conceptual works for performance by large ensembles.
And the funk/hip-hop tinged electronic grooves of Double Youth are experimental too, in a way: structurally, texturally, and rhythmically complex and unexpected. But the process of creating the album was about concision and directness, building songs out of of nothing but voice and electronics, and then paring away every inessential section from a piece of music to find the perfect pop song at its core.
The lyrics show him wrapping his head around subtle, often abstract concepts, and putting them in a language that’s easy to understand. Literally: Double Youth shows Helado Negro thinking bilingually, making the sound of his voice more present than ever, and singing lyrics—in Spanish and English—designed to transcend grammar and idiom to speak emotional truths directly to the listener.
Double Youth arrives on CD, LP, and digital on September 2. A VIP edition is available in limited quantities (just 100), hand-made and hand-numbered by Roberto Lange himself. A limited edition first-pressing in translucent blue is also available. Preorder those here.
To hear the first single, head over to FADER.
June 17th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Chalk it up to good fortune: Sufjan Stevens’ Enjoy Your Rabbit is finally coming out on vinyl.
Fourteen electronic instrumental tracks—one for each sign of the Chinese Zodiac, plus two—Enjoy Your Rabbit was first released on CD in 2001, and it was destined to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous future. The Osso String Quartet’s Run Rabbit Run album recreated Stevens’ pieces in arrangements for live, acoustic chamber ensemble, and choreographer Justin Peck’s acclaimed Year of the Rabbit ballet is set to an orchestral interpretation of the album.
On June 24th, 2014—the Year of the Horse—the original recording will be made available as a double-LP set, with lucky bonuses for anyone who picks up the limited-edition pressing.
Disc 2 is clear, but disc 1 could be pressed on either white, red, blue or green translucent vinyl. Only the Zodiac knows which color is hidden inside each copy of the album.
And no one can foresee who will receive one of two very special boxes of fortune cookies, containing fortunes penned especially for this occasion by Sufjan himself. (Check with your local record store too!)
A perennial favorite for fans of Sufjan Stevens’ electronic side, Enjoy You Rabbit‘s time has come around again. Preorder now, and we predict some very beautiful music headed your way.
Bonus: Order Enjoy Your Rabbit on vinyl with Osso’s Run Rabbit Run on vinyl for just $30.
June 16th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Castanets singer-songwriter Ray Raposa hasn’t been gone long. It was just two years ago that Raposa’s new band, Raymond Byron and the White Freighter, came out with their shaggy, rocking debut LP. But as he returns to the helm of his solo project for the first Castanets recording since 2009, Decimation Blues, it sounds like a silence being broken.
And Decimation Blues, out this summer on Asthmatic Kitty Records, communicates as much through silence, through what goes musically or lyrically unsaid, as it does through words and music. The arrangements are sparse, and the performances, especially the rich patina of Raposa’s own singing voice, are laid nearly bare.
But it’s the sorrow in the grain of that voice that makes the warmth of his melodies that much more consoling—in the same way that the joy his songs find in moments of basic human connection so often seems to imply the end of a deep, unspoken loneliness.
Decimation Blues arrives to refresh parched ears on August 19th, as a CD, vinyl LP or digital download. A limited edition of the LP will be pressed on marbled blue vinyl. Preorder it here and receive an immediate download of the first single, “Out For The West.”
June 10th, 2014 , by John Beeler
It’s time to celebrate—with singing choirs, rattling tambourines, fuzz bass, wrong-speed magnetic tape playback, and other joyful noises—because the new Half-handed Cloud album is here, and you’ll want to sing along.
Half-handed Cloud is the solo project of John Ringhofer, who began working on Flying Scroll Flight Control in Belgium, while his wife was doing research at a Brussels museum. The album began as a series of totally DIY, one-man recordings put together with anything Ringhofer had to hand, setting ancient, sacred texts to upbeat pop melodies. Back in the States, Ringhofer then re-recorded the whole thing on old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape as layers upon layers of homespun goodness. The result: music of labyrinthine mysticism and complexity, but made out of raw, humble, unpretentious stuff and offered in full earnest.
Flying Scroll Flight Control is available on MP3, CD or LP. The LP comes on totally transparent vinyl with a card for a free digital download, and a deluxe edition of the vinyl release comes with a beautiful slipmat at which to gaze through the “pop-bottle-clear” record.