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We'll resume normal service here on TGTF on 13 October.
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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 29th September 2015 at 4:00 pm
The next release from Scottish trio The Twilight Sad will be their live ‘The Oran Mor Sessions’ song collection. Just exactly as it sounds, the new release features songs from their 2014 album ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’, recorded live at the beautiful, legendary venue in Glasgow.
Last month, we shared with you this live gig video of James Graham, Andy MacFarlane and Mark Devine performing ‘It Was Never the Same’. Today, we have for you the latest reveal from the sessions, in the form of a reworked version of the album title track. Watch it below.
‘The Oran Mor Sessions’ will drop on the 16th of October on FatCat Records. Catch all of TGTF’s previous coverage on The Twilight Sad here.
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 29th September 2015 at 12:00 pm
After signing to the Verve imprint of Universal Records last year, former boyfriend/girlfriend yet still longtime Aussie musical collaborators Falls released their ‘Into the Fire’ EP in February 2014. Over a year and a half and a move to Los Angeles later, the duo – Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown – are gearing up to release their debut album this very Friday. Produced and recorded by the legendary Mike Mogis at his Presto! Recording Studio in Nebraska, the album takes its name from the Midwestern town where much of its toughest work was done. Quite a long way from the Hotel Hollywood bar where the pair first cut their teeth playing live in Sydney, where they also played a series of back-to-back sold out shows to devoted fans just 2 weeks ago.
Kirwin says of their music, “Our songs are at times deeply personal. They’re raw, they’re real and they’re very honest.” There’s no questioning the duo’s sincerity, as their songwriting on ‘Omaha’ matches the brilliance of their past output seen on such tracks as the beautiful yet catchy ‘Home’. For sure, ‘Omaha’ as a whole sounds rich thanks to the production and string arrangements by Tony Buchen. But as you might expect, working with a superstar producer with a stellar track record like that of Mogis has polished some of Falls’ edges.
Whether this professional polish helps or hinders their success outside Australia remains to be seen. To those who have never heard of Falls before, this album might just be the perfect entry point into their world, which now has an anthemic quality instrumentally that goes well beyond the folk sensibility on which they made their name with in Oz. An example of this is album opener ‘Let in the Light’, floaty in its sweeping, echoey instrumentation, yet feeling too lightweight in the lyrics department (“tell me how you spend your days/ how do you spend your nights / how you do tell yourself it’ll be all right?”).
Showing Falls at their poppiest, it’s not hard at all to imagine both ‘Beating Hearts’ and ‘Falling’ being played on daytime Radio 2, the former with an infectious drum beat throughout, the latter showcasing the pair’s faultless harmonies. With its “na na nahs” and strummed chords, ‘Better Way to Go’ is another enjoyable number that should inspire quite a few singalongs at their future gigs.
Running on the opposite side of the spectrum are the LP tracks on ‘Omaha’ that speak more directly to the Aussie duo’s musical roots. With charmingly disarming piano chords, ‘Summer’ is a simple ode to homesickness, while ‘Nothing Ever Comes My Way’ is tinged forlornly with regret and loneliness, themes that are returned to on the album’s conclusion and Rudston-Brown’s star moment, ‘Don’t Ask’. ‘When We Were Young’ – said by Kirwin to have been inspired by being in New York City in the middle of winter in early 2014 and imagining the personal stories of the many people they would see on their intercity travels – is conveyed well as a memorable hoedown. An additional tribute to their adopted homeland, ‘Independence Day’ weaves a beauteous story about a lost love and the holiday on which it was written on.
While Falls’ classic and simple guitar folk sound may have been embellished on instrumentally through outside influence in some places on ‘Omaha’, it’s Kirwin and Rudston-Brown’s confident storytelling that proves far more important – and satisfying – on their debut album.
‘Omaha’, the long-awaited debut album from celebrated Aussie folk singer/songwriter duo Falls, is out this Friday, the 2nd of February on Verve / Universal. For past coverage on TGTF of the duo, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 28th September 2015 at 6:00 pm
Sister folk rock group The Staves have had a busy year that has included the release of ‘If I Was’, their second full-length studio album, back in March. Their next single from the album, ‘Steady’, will be released on Atlantic Records on the 9th of October, and the single now has its own promo video. Filmed on 16 mm film in an apartment tucked far away in the woods, the sisters – Emily, Jess and Camilla – witness their own untimely ends in this promo. Yes, creepy. Thank goodness the music is beautiful, though. Watch it below.
All of TGTF’s past coverage of The Staves, including my review of their headline show at Dublin Olympia back in May, is here.
Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer for Scottish electropop trio CHVRCHES, has been outspoken throughout her career against the objectification of female musicians. She has recently come into the media spotlight again with the virulent response to the video for CHVRCHES’ recent single ‘Leave a Trace’, from their second album ‘Every Open Eye’.
The swirl of media attention surrounding ‘Leave a Trace’ casts a new light across all of the glam-pop songs on ‘Every Open Eye’. Without the context of the recent Internet attacks on Mayberry, the songs’ lyrics are ostensibly focused on a romantic breakup, the female protagonist cutting her losses and determinedly moving forward with her life. But in terms of the ongoing discussion about misogyny directed toward female musicians, Mayberry now seems to be singing about overcoming her detractors, sending a bold message that she won’t be silenced.
The gloriously infectious chorus of opening track ‘Never Ending Circles’ draws the listener’s attention immediately with Mayberry’s sharp, sweet vocals and an irresistibly catchy dance beat. Its sparkling musical arrangement is an ironic contrast to the sense of futility and frustration in the lyrics, “here’s to never ending circles / and building them on top of me / here’s to just another no man / if you want another, say you need another”.
Mayberry continues that brazenly ironic tone of voice on the aforementioned ‘Leave a Trace’, as she sings, “I have somehow got / away with everything / anything you ever did was strictly by design”. She carries the idea through to the song’s chorus where her male antagonist is warned “take care to bury all that you can / take care to leave a trace of a man”.
‘Keep You on My Side’ and ‘Make Them Gold’ are both vigorously rhythm-oriented, though their lyrical themes are more inwardly focused. The strident dance beat in the former track reinforces the repeated verse “I don’t sleep well laying low / never letting up, never letting go” as Mayberry reaffirms her own inner strength, while a glimmering keyboard line and deeply resounding bass riff underscore the hope and resilience in the chorus of the latter.
Mayberry best expresses the turmoil of her situation in the anxious suspense of standout track ‘Clearest Blue’. Nervously pounding drums propel her rapid-fire diction in the chorus “just another time I’m caught inside / every open eye / holding on tightly to the sides / never quite learning why”.
The album’s flow is interrupted a bit at its midpoint, ‘High Enough to Carry You Over’, where one of Mayberry’s male bandmates takes over the lead vocal helm. Taken individually, the track works well enough, harkening back to a darker and more angular ’80s synth rock style. But it falls flat in the context of the bright synthpop of the rest of the LP and its chorus, while engaging, comes across as more defeated than optimistic.
The overall musical tone of the album changes after this point, becoming slightly bitter and even a bit belligerent in moody tracks ‘Empty Threat’ and ‘Playing Dead’, where Mayberry stares her antagonist down with the lines “you can tell me to move and I won’t go / you can tell me to try and I won’t go”. ‘Down Side of Me’ is a darkly brooding cauldron of thickly bubbling synths and swirling layers of backing vocals centered around the haunting chant, “you’re not the same”. By contrast, Mayberry’s voice is especially sweet and ethereal on the airy postlude ‘Afterglow’, whose lyrics are pregnant with meaning when considered beside the recent Internet trolling drama, particularly the echoing final line “I’ve given up all I can”.
The first half of ‘Every Open Eye’ is a strong and self-assured statement of intent, and while the second half falters slightly, the album leaves an overall impression of confidence and forward momentum. Its glitzy pop-centred production sweetens the bitter aftertaste in Mayberry’s lyrics, but her message is clear and undiluted, delivered with the kind of bold bravado and cool confidence that only comes from hard experience.
‘Every Open Eye’ saw its release last Friday, the 25th of September, on Virgin EMI / Goodbye Records in the UK and on Glassnote Records in America. CHVRCHES will support the album’s release with a run of live dates in the UK this November.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 28th September 2015 at 11:00 am
As part of their #PluggedIn60 campaign, fashion house Original Penguin interviewed Flyte to ask them what decade of popular music has proven to be most influential to their songwriting and their style of music. Filmed by the sea, Will Taylor (lead vocals, guitar), Sam Berridge (guitar / keyboards / backing vocals), Nick Hill (bass / backing vocals) and Jon Supran (drums / backing vocals) chat about the Beatles, Paul Simon and currently active bands like Tame Impala who share a similar approach. Watch the clip below.
The band’s last release was back in December 2014; the ‘Diamond White’ EP is available only on vinyl. Past coverage on indie pop group Flyte on TGTF is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 28th September 2015 at 10:00 am
When we were at SXSW 2015 back in March, I was at Cedar Street Courtyard, staring at a massive hanging sign for Meow the Jewels, emblazoned with a large grey and white cat wearing serious bling. I like cats a whole lot but I thought this sign was a massive, hilarious joke targeted at cat owners. Later on of course, I read that American hip hop duo Run the Jewels actually planned on taking this ball of yarn (heh heh, get it?), running with it to put together the first-ever cat remix album, featuring what else but cats meowing and purring on these new versions of songs from their album ‘Run the Jewels 2’. Remixers collaborating on this project include Zola Jesus and Geoff Barrow of Portishead. For an idea of what this sounds like, have a listen to first taster ‘Meowrly’ below.
In case you missed why they decided to do this project in the first place, here’s a brief run-down. Run the Jewels members El-P and Killer Mike decided they wanted to raise money for the families of victims of American police brutality, determining that a concept album as absurd as a collection of remixes featuring cat noises would reflect the absurdity of the senseless killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and others. After a successful Kickstarter campaign proved the public was keen on backing the project, no matter how ridiculous the means, the concept became a reality, and last Friday, the ‘Meow the Jewels’ album became available on the Run the Jewels Web site.
We’re running this post as an MP3(s) of the Day feature because you can download the remix album in digital format for free from their Web site; however, if you so wish to contribute to their cause, limited edition vinyl is available for purchase.
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