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Country and blues singer/songwriter Jon Allen has just released his third studio album ‘Deep River’, as well as announcing a string of UK tour dates in support of the release. ‘Night and Day’, the first single from ‘Deep River’, was playlisted on BBC Radio 2 earlier this year; if you missed it there, you can take a listen to a live version of it below the tour date listing. In addition to these shows, Allen is scheduled to appear at BluesFest in London this October.
Saturday 4th October 2014 – Hartlepool Grand Hotel (Music vs Cancer)
Wednesday 15th October 2014 – Shrewsbury Henry Tudor House (solo show)
Thursday 16th October 2014 – Birmingham Glee Studio (solo show)
Monday 20th October 2014 – Glasgow King Tut’s
Wednesday 22nd October 2014 – Newcastle Cluny 2
Thursday 23rd October 2014 – Sheffield Greystones
Friday 24th October 2014 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Sunday 26th October 2014 – Leicester Musician
Monday 27th October 2014 – Bristol Colston 2
Tuesday 28th October 2014 – London Jazz Cafe
Thursday 30th October 2014 – Cambridge Junction 2
Sunday 2nd November 2014 – Brighton Komedia Studio
Monday 3rd November 2014 – Portsmouth Cellars
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 22nd July 2014 at 6:00 pm
I sense an ’80s, Debbie Gibson / Tiffany vibe to Lykke Li‘s ballad single ‘Gunshot’. Do you agree? There are conflicting ideas on what this video is about, with some of her fans saying she’s dead in the story (which might explain the pale makeup on her face) and others saying she’s sold out and is more like Lorde now (ouch). Watch it below and decide for yourself.
‘I Never Learn’, Lykke Li‘s latest album, is out now.
I was first introduced to Fink by fellow TGTF writer Cheryl, who described their 2011 album ‘Perfect Darkness’ as being “like a smooth whiskey”. We listened to it while getting ready to go out to a gig (I can’t remember now who we were going to see), and it occurred to me very quickly that a more apt comparison has probably never been made. Fink’s lyrics, sung by frontman Fin Greenall, are dark and bittersweet, their potent flavor quickly subdued by the deep, spreading warmth of the rhythmic groove provided by bassist Guy Whittaker and drummer/guitarist Tim Thornton.
Fink were looking to build on the success of ‘Perfect Darkness’ (reviewed by our John here) when they wrote and recorded their fifth LP ‘Hard Believer’. Once again, they decamped to Los Angeles to work with American producer Billy Bush, who also produced ‘Perfect Darkness’, at Sound Factory studios. The band have described ‘Hard Believer’ as their most collaborative effort to date; thus, I’ve chosen to use the name Fink here to refer to the full trio rather than to Greenall himself. (Watch the band’s video commentary ‘The Making of Hard Believer’ below.)
According to Ninja Tune Records, who have provided support for the album’s release, the phrase “Hard Believer” comes from the vernacular of the American South, where it refers to a person “who is difficult to persuade, who requires proof”. Musically, that Southern drawl is felt immediately in the bluesy guitar riffs and languid vocals of the title track, which you might already have heard in our previous MP3 of the Day feature.
As the album progresses, its tone shifts between artfully coaxing another person and desperately hoping to convince oneself, as in the subtle but edgy ‘2 Days Later’ and the fragile façade of ‘Looking Too Closely’ (featured earlier as a Video of the Moment). ‘Pilgrim’ pairs the provocative lyric “Come a long way / not to ask the question that’s been on your lips all the way” with a palpably anxious and harmonically dissonant rhythmic pulse. The expansive and evolving ‘Shakespeare’ reflects on the fictional tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in the context of a failed romance, building from a sparse and gentle acoustic to a lush, full dynamic over the repeated phrases “Turn the pages / and learn nothing…”
Throughout the album, Fink make effective use of their usual tools: hypnotically repetitive lyrics, spellbindingly sensual rhythms and Greenall’s alluring vocals. While only a few specific moments stand out on ‘Hard Believer’, the record maintains a sense of penetrating emotional warmth and its parting impact is strong, not at all unlike the effect of a rich single malt Scotch late in the evening.
Fink‘s fifth album ‘Hard Believer’ is out now on Fin Greenall’s new label R’COUP’D.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 21st July 2014 at 6:00 pm
Perfume Genius – aka Mike Hadreas – will be releasing his next album ‘Too Bright’ in mid-September. Ahead of that, he’s letting loose bits and pieces to get us all excited. The promo video for single ‘Queen’ is a confusing one (pigs in elevators! cheerleaders with the words ‘Free Bird’ emblazoned across their chests!), but it’s all based on this song that Hadreas wrote about confronting what it’s been like to be a gay man, getting strange looks from heterosexual ones. Hadreas described it on the Matablog like this:
I’ve seen faces of blank terror when I walk by. Sometimes from seemingly strong, macho dudes – somehow my presence confuses and ultimately scares them. There is a strange power to it that I’ve only recently begun to understand and embrace. After many years trying to sort out exactly what they are scared of, most of the time converting the result into personal shame, there are now moments of monstrous pride.
Watch the video below. ‘Too Bright’ drops on the 22nd of September on Matador Records.
By Mary Chang
on Monday, 21st July 2014 at 12:00 pm
Even though they’re still a relatively new band, I’ve written quite a bit on London five-piece Longfellow already. Having sufficiently impressed me on the strength of early single ‘Siamese Lover’, then in person live in Austin and in conversation at SXSW 2014, I think this group have what it takes to make it.
It seems quite strange in my mind that their current release ‘Prelude’ is being hawked around as a mini-album, as if a full album designation isn’t warranted. While it has only eight tracks and some of these have already seen the light of day (singles ‘Siamese Lover’ and ‘Hug-Kiss-Make Up’), these eight tracks are very good, and although it’s only available digitally as of now, a physical release through their label Fierce Panda will follow the first week of August, just 2 weeks from now.
If you’ve been following Longfellow up to now, their music up to this point has aspired to be majestic indie rock and stadium-filling, which has drawn the band comparisons to their label’s earliest success story, Coldplay. So it is with some surprise that in ‘May the Light’ sees the group calling out to Jesus and breaking out the tambourine to go towards folk. (There is also hints of this in later number ‘Wolf Cry’.) However, that doesn’t last (sorry if that’s your thing, but it’s not my bag). Mini-album opener ‘Polaroid’ is more representative, featuring Ali Hetherington’s winning piano and James Thomas’ guitar lines at the start. Frontman Owen Lloyd’s haunting voice provides an effective counterpoint when virtually alone but melding nicely with the instrumentation in the chorus.
Newer track and album standout ‘Lullaby’ continues this trend. Lloyd’s lyrics as sung in the chorus “stitch me, heal me, help me escape my mortality / bathe me, dress me” weigh heavier than normal for pop music, but you can do nothing but simply appreciate words like these: they indicate the reliance we have for another when we’re in a relationship, and the universality of how our very existence is intertwined with another’s. The bridge of this song shows just how effective their songwriting can be, with just Hetherington’s notes on the ivories and Lloyd’s voice.
The imagery of being washed of sin, or at least the effort to be repentant, is repeated in album closer ‘The Convent’, which begins poignantly, with piano and strings. The song invokes further emotion in the chorus: “And I don’t want to be your heartbeat, I tell you all the time; maybe I’ll sleep tonight / And I don’t want to feel your breathing, pretend you’re not alive; maybe I’ll sleep tonight”. There’s certainly conflict in here, between what is right and wrong, between what feels right and what feels wrong. I have my suspicions on what this song is about, but what’s most important is that we are hearing truly heartwrenching thoughts through the voice of this sweeping song.
‘Lullaby’ and ‘The Convent’ seem to be polar opposites in mood to previous single ‘Siamese Lover’, which just begs for pogoing during the chorus. The words “standing on the edge of the world” seems to indicate there is looming danger and anxiety, but the harmonised emphasis of “don’t lose faith” leaves the listener with optimism. ‘Hug – Kiss – Make Up’, their latest single I reviewed before my last trip to England, rings with similar brightness and now that Longfellow have inked an American label deal with Brooklyn indie Ooh La La Records, with the song’s spectacular bombast, it would be my choice for their debut single here stateside.
Older song ‘Gabrielle’ (promo video at the end of this post) has a memorable melody and rhythm, but even more impressively, it manages to have lyrics that seem on the surface entirely callous with regards to the end of love: “I’m tired of life, I’m always losing / And I don’t want to see her, I just want to see her cry”. In fact are proof that the man that’s singing this to us and telling his story is hurting deeply inside. That’s what I want people take away from this (mini)album: too few musicians these days show us their hearts and make it in this business. Music that stirs true feelings within is not only important but vital to all of us. Buy ‘Prelude’ and prove to the industry just how essential music like this truly is.
‘Prelude’, the first mini-album from London band Longfellow, is out now digitally, with a physical release to follow on the 4th of August on Fierce Panda Records.
By Mary Chang
on Sunday, 20th July 2014 at 10:00 am
It’s kind of a given that Simian Mobile Disco videos will be computer-generated images on a loop and therefore kind of clinical, yeah? So it should come as no surprise that the promo for ‘Tangents’ follows this rule. This song has been released ahead of the band’s forthcoming ‘Whorl’, out on the 9th of September on Anti Records.
Interestingly, we’ve heard that the electronic duo – James Ford and Jas Shaw – put limitations on themselves during the recording of the new LP, only allowing themselves only one rack of modular synth gear and one sequencer each to use. And no computers. At all. Hmm. Only time will tell what this will mean to SMD’s sound on the new release.
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