Interpol today release a new 5 song EP, ‘A Fine Mess’, including the sought-after live favorite “Real Life,” first heard during the band’s ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ 15th anniversary tour in 2017. Recorded during time spent in upstate New York with Dave Fridmann, the five songs that make up ‘A Fine Mess’ gradually emerged as a body of work with a narrative and flow unto itself. The title track, “Fine Mess,” then received further production from Kaines & Tom A.D. and mixing from Claudius Mittendorfer, who had first worked with Interpol as engineer on ‘Our Love To Admire’. The resulting set is a living, breathing postcard from the band to their fans as they tour the world throughout 2019, and a linear continuation of the visceral and contagious energy set loose with ‘Marauder’.
Echoing its title, the artwork for ‘A Fine Mess’ is illustrated by a series of lost images, recovered from an abandoned police station in Detroit, MI. In a crumbling evidence room – amongst the rubble – an undeveloped roll of film, dated “1-20-96”, featured latent images of a breaking and entering scene, the rooms in chaos.
From the beguiling refrain of the title track, to the soulful topsy-turvy of “No Big Deal,” cathartic chorus of long sought-after live favourite “Real Life,” anthemic swell of “The Weekend,” and angular shades of “Thrones,” ‘A Fine Mess’ is a bracing and distinct entry in Interpol’s oeuvre.
More August dates have been added to Snail Mail’s August US schedule (shows in bold below) including a second NYC show at the newly reopened Webster Hall on August 1 and a headlining appearance at LA’s Wiltern Theatre on August 22. Pre-sale tickets are available on each venue’s site beginning tomorrow at 10am local time by entering the code LUSH19.
In other Snail Mail news, Lindsey Jordan has been selected to be a Fender Next Artist representing the diverse state of music globally. Her partnership with Fender as a featured artist in their new Player Series campaign is celebrated in the above new video clip as she shares her story and creative journey as a world-class guitarist.
In honor of both Mother’s Day and Taurus Season, Lucy Dacus has released a new song titled “My Mother and I”, Following her Valentine’s Day cover of “La Vie En Rose,” this is the first original composition of her ongoing 2019 holiday song series, which will also include singles tied to Independence Day, Springsteen’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.
“My Mother And I” is a lullaby of sorts, about “babies born in the month of May” that are “down to earth” and “see eye to eye” and “dig our feet in,” but at its core, it’s a brutally frank exploration of body image and the emotional form it takes when passed down generationally.
In Lucy’s words: “Being adopted has encouraged me to consider what mothers pass on through blood and body, and what they impart in the way of socialization and context. We — daughters, and all children — easily inherit the shame and fear of our mothers, but also the pride, self-assurance, and lessons of love. This song focuses on body image and the distinction between the body and the soul, which I can hardly claim to have clarity about to this day. I also reflect on traits my mother and I share as Taurean women- how we are steadfast but headstrong, empathetic but grounded, and dedicated to finding and giving reliable love and comfort.”
Austin City Limits is thrilled to welcome two remarkable artists under the age of 25-years-old. Lauded singer/songwriter phenoms Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus join us for the first time on July 30 for a taping highlight—a one-of-a-kind co-headline evening with these two accomplished solo artists.
Memphis native Julien Baker’s chilling solo debut, ‘Sprained Ankle’, was one of the most widely acclaimed works of 2015. The album, recorded by a then 18-year-old and her friend in only a few days, was a bleak yet hopeful, intimate document of staggering experiences and grace, centered entirely around Baker’s voice, guitar, and unblinking honesty. Sprained Ankle appeared on year-end lists everywhere from NPR Music to The AV Club to New York Magazine’s Vulture. With 2017’s ‘Turn Out The Lights’, Baker claimed a much bigger stage, but with the same core of breathtaking vulnerability and resilience. From its opening moments — when her chiming, evocative melody is accompanied by swells of strings — Turn Out The Lights throws open the doors to the world without sacrificing the intimacy that has become a hallmark of her songs. The album explores how people live and come to terms with their internal conflict, and the alternately shattering and redemptive ways these struggles play out in relationships. “Turn Out The Lights is beautifully crafted throughout,” noted Spin, “full of the kinds of songs that linger long after they’ve ended.” Under the Radar declared, “Baker is writing faultless songs that will always have a home in our hearts because finding comfort in even the saddest moments means we’re still feeling. And if we’re feeling, there’s hope for us yet.”
2018 was a milestone year for Richmond, VA’s Lucy Dacus. Her widely celebrated sophomore record, Historian, was met by a cavalcade of critical elation, with NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NBC News, Slate, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, Stereogum, and more choosing it as one of the year’s best albums. Dacus’ remarkable sense of melody and composition are the driving force throughout, giving Historian the immersive feel of an album made by an artist in full command of her powers. “This is the album I needed to make,” says Dacus, who views ‘Historian’ as her definitive statement as a songwriter and musician. “Everything after this is a bonus.” She played revelatory sold-out shows at clubs and festivals alike, along with multiple high profile television appearances. A glance at her worldwide touring schedule in 2019 shows little sign that Dacus is slowing down, and in fact, she will release a series of songs titled 2019 to celebrate. Recorded in here-and-there studio spurts over the last two years, 2019 will be released later this year as a physical EP on Matador Records, and will be made up of originals and cover songs tied to specific holidays, each of which will drop around their respective date: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day (and Taurus season!), Independence Day, Springsteen’s Birthday, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.
Want to be part of the audience? We will post information on how to get free passes a week before the taping. Follow Austin City Limits on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episode will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.
Steve Gunn has released a tribute to the late director Agnes Varda who, among many other works, created the film Vagabond after which Gunn named the first single off his new album The Unseen In Between. The director of Gunn’s new music video Naomi Yang had these words to share:
The lyrics tie the song very directly to the imagery in the film so I felt the main challenge in making the video was to honor the film without trying to literally recreate it, and to express the emotional weight of Steve’s song which was all his own.
Formally, Varda’s film is structured around 12 long tracking shots of the main character walking from right to left. There are also a few simple reoccurring props in the film: cigarettes, a painting, a transistor radio. These elements I pulled from the film and used in the video. I decided that by echoing some formal elements from the film we could be secretly give a nod to the film in homage, but it would not depend on you knowing the film to understand the song or the video.
I set the video in Pittsburgh – a place that both Steve and I were essentially strangers. Steve and I wandered the edges for 3 days. The thought was Steve was following in the footsteps of the character from Varda’s film, that perhaps she had left right before he arrived, had just moved on – leaving Steve to find only her traces. And after all, isn’t that not unlike the itinerant life of a musician?
Years ago, when I was in Galaxie 500, we arrived in a club in Europe, and found personal greetings in graffiti to us on the wall of the band room. Friends of ours had played the same club the week before, left us a message and moved on.
And now, sadly, Agnés Varda has passed on. But she has left us with her incredible, soulful, mischievous, political, compassionate body of work to discover, rediscover, and be inspired by.
— Naomi Yang, 2019
Steve Gunn continues on his tour dates in support of The Unseen In Between this week in North America, beginning Thursday in Milwaukee. See a full list of upcoming dates below.
(photo by Halfdan Venlov)Marking the start of their North American tour, Iceage have released a new video for ‘Pain Killer’, one of the standout tracks from their critically acclaimed fourth album Beyondless.
Hallucinogenic epiphanies filmed between Tijuana, San Diego and LA interspersed with 70’s pulp animation? Visual cues from Wild At Heart, Fear And Loathingin Las Vegas, and the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage? VHS footage featuring a cameo from Sky Ferreira shot in the garage of Lili Hayes?
Directed by Mortis Studio with additional animation from Josh Freydkis and featuring lead actors Linda Abud & Sebastian Alvarez, the video for ‘Pain Killer’ truly has it all, and is a potent chaser to the visceral and intoxicating potion of the audio.
Iceage’s North American run of dates in support Beyondless kicks off Friday, April 12th in Las Vegas, with Shame and Nadah El Shazly supporting on select dates. A full list of upcoming dates can be found below.
With a triumphant European tour about to conclude and a US tour with Gun Outfit about to commence, Steve Gunn announces a new run of headline North American tour dates this summer. Spanning the Northeast corridor, the tour begins on July 24th in Portland, ME and ends with a hometown show at Brooklyn’s Industry City on August 3rd. The full list of tour dates can be found below and is accompanied by the release of an acoustic video for ‘The Unseen In Between’ standout track, “Chance,” the third in a series of live acoustic videos made by The Mitcham Submarine — this one filmed at London’s Albert Memorial.
Interpol today announce a new EP, ‘A Fine Mess’, which will be released May 17th. The new track “The Weekend,” is available to stream and purchase today.
Recorded during time spent in upstate New York with Dave Fridmann, the five songs that make up ‘A Fine Mess’ gradually emerged as a body of work with a narrative and flow unto itself. The previously released title track, “Fine Mess,” then received further production from Kaines & Tom A.D. and mixing from Claudius Mittendorfer, who had first worked with Interpol as engineer on ‘Our Love To Admire’. The resulting set is a living, breathing postcard from the band to their fans as they tour the world throughout 2019, and a linear continuation of the visceral and contagious energy setloose with ‘Marauder’.
Echoing its title, the artwork for A Fine Mess is illustrated by a series of lost images, recovered from an abandoned police station in Detroit, MI. In a crumbling evidence room – amongst the rubble – an undeveloped roll of film, dated “1-20-96,” featured latent images of a breaking-and-entering scene, the rooms in chaos. From the beguiling refrain of the title track, to the soulful topsy-turvy of “No Big Deal,” cathartic chorus of long sought-after live favorite “Real Life,” anthemic swell of “The Weekend,” and angular shades of ‘Thrones,” A Fine Mess is a bracing and distinct addition to Interpol’s oeuvre.
While supplies last, all pre-orders of the A Fine Mess EP will receive a bonus “All At Once” 7”, available only on vinyl, not on streaming services. This value add is available exclusively on Matador’s webstores worldwide. Orders have the option to bundle the “A Fine Mess” t-shirt, and to purchase the t-shirt separately. This bundle is available only on the US Matador webstore and on Interpol’s online store.
Ahead of the release of Groove Denied next Friday March 15th, Stephen Malkmus has premiered the track “Come Get Me” and its accompanying lyric video. The new song follows the recent release of “Viktor Borgia” and “Rushing The Acid Frat.” Malkmus’s Groove Denied performances are quickly selling out, see an updated list of dates both solo and with The Jicks below.
Stephen Malkmus had a vision … or so begins the lyrics to “Rushing The Acid Frat,” the newly released single from his forthcoming ‘Groove Denied'(out March 15th). The song title, inspired by Stephen’s memories of a specific student fraternity (think less beer-pong-bros, more “Grateful Dead druggy tie-dye” vibe) at his UVA alma mater, is a “Louie Louie”-style shindig rumpus, which he imagines as the soundtrack to a “Star Wars bar scene in such a frat … it’s kinda 12-bar but gigged with psych lyrics.”
In the accompanying video (above), created by Robert Strange and James Papper, features an animated Stephen taking a romp through LA’s Koreatown and Hollywood Forever Cemetery, followed by a trip to the moon, and back to a field on Earth (fun fact – it’s Ben Kweller’s ranch in Texas), tinged with hallucinatory enhancements.
Along with this May’s solo dates, additional shows have been added at NYC’s The Kitchen and the Art Institute Of Chicago (ticket links below).
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is Pavement’s record-of-many transitions. From Louder Than You to Random Falls. From Gary Young to Steve West. From indier-than-thou (Matador) to FAKE INDIE (Matador/Atlantic). But most importantly, it’s the album where Pavement would flex the sort of musical and lyrical range that would later make some of you deeply resent everything else the band members ever did solidify their status as a once-in-a-generation phenomena. Except we’re still here talking about it.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’s 1994 release, and I believe it was George Santayana who said “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Good thing we’ve got a goddamn photographic memory, because there’s some stuff we went thru trying to get radio stations to play “Cut Your Hair” that NO ONE SHOULD EVER BE FORCED TO RELIVE. So let’s focus on the good times and not get bogged down in gloomy stuff like the journalist last week who asked me (seriously) if Billy Corgan or Scott Weiland still bore a grudge over “Range Life”. I’m sure you think my job is super fucking easy but there’s no simple way of answering a question like that without getting the person on the other end of the phone very very angry, so if you’re ever in that situation, I suggest you handle it exactly the way I did (pretend you’re been stung by a wasp).
All orders received today through Thursday, February 21st from the U.S. Matador Webstore that include Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain will receive a free MATADOR REVISIONIST HISTORY slip mat and a reproduction of Pavement’s 1994 press photo (credit: Gail Butensky). Random orders will receive a press photo signed by Stephen Malkmus. UPDATE: press photos are now OUT OF STOCK, orders will still receive the slip mat.
2018 was a milestone year for Richmond, VA’s Lucy Dacus. Her widely celebrated sophomore record, ‘Historian’, was met by a chorus of critical acclaim, with NPR, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NBC News, Slate, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, Stereogum, and others calling one of the best albums of the year. Her collaborative EP as 1/3 of boygenius (with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers) landed on many of those same lists, plus Newsweek, The New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times. She played revelatory sold-out shows at clubs and festivals alike, and made network TV appearances on “CBS This Morning”, “Late Night with Seth Meyers”, and “Last Call With Carson Daly”.
A cursory glance at her worldwide touring schedule in 2019 (below) shows little sign that Dacus is slowing down, and in fact, she will release a EP titled ‘2019’ to celebrate. Recorded in here-and-there studio spurts over the last two years, ‘2019 ‘will be released later this year, and will be made up of originals and cover songs tied to specific holidays, each of which will drop around their respective date: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day (and Taurus season!), Independence Day, Springsteen’s Birthday (not an official holiday, though we’re told Chris Christie often took that day off), Halloween, Christmas, and New Year’s.
Dacus uses her gift as a songwriter to help understand and cope with the world around her, including making sense of national holidays, often more geared towards social media boasts and manufactured consumerism than authentic celebration. “What is going on,” she asks herself on these days, retreating from the heightened expectations of holidays to figure out what to make of them and to find her own meaning. “I’ve collected some songs from trying to answer that question,” she says, and “this EP seems like the right place to put them next to each other. These songs are self-contained, not indicative of a new direction, just a willingness to do something different and sometimes even out of character.”
“Fine Mess” continues the invigorated creative spirit of 2018’s triumphant ‘Marauder’, presenting Interpol at their most urgent and essential – with Paul Banks’ feverish vocals and haunted lyrics telling of “a sanguine and starry pair, buoyed and dashed alike by their own dreams and appetites” interlocking with Daniel Kessler’s serpentine riffs and Sam Fogarino’s thundering rhythm section, distilled around the seditious refrain: “you and me / make a fine mess.”
Ahead of a busy worldwide tour and festival season with Primavera, NOS Primavera, and Best Kept Secret already announced, “Fine Mess” is further testament to a band at their peak, and the first chapter in what promises to be yet another eventful year for Interpol.
For once, the rumors are true (some of ’em, anyway). The “rejected” electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been alluding to over the past year will see the light of day on March 15th. That said, ‘Groove Denied’ is not a plunge into EDM or glitch-city. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. ‘Groove Denied’ is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a recent video interview, “It’s kind of funny to mess with stuff you’re not supposed to mess with.”
The first taste of Stephen’s new groove can be sampled today, with the release of single “Viktor Borgia,” and its accompanying video. The title playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. . “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982,” says Stephen, adding “and also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”
Stephen will embark on a brief solo tour, sans Jicks, in May. The newly announced run of dates can be found below. A full bio, composed by Simon Reynolds can be found as well.
When Stephen Malkmus first arrived on the scene in the early Nineties, as frontman and prime creative force in Pavement, the area of music with which he was associated couldn’t really have been further from the techno-rave sounds of the day. Electronic dance music, then as now, was about posthuman precision, inorganic textures, and hyper-digital clarity. Whereas the lo-fi movement in underground rock championed a messthetic of sloppiness, rough edges, and raw warmth – a hundred exquisitely subtle shades of distortion and abrasion. “Imperfect sound forever” was the rallying cry for a micro-generation of slacker-minded dreamers and misfits.
Fast forward to the present and here comes Malkmus with a surprising new project that embraces the very digital tools and procedures he’d have once gone out of his way to avoid. Groove Denied – Stephen’s first solo album without his cohorts the Jicks since 2001 – was made using Ableton’s Live, a software sequencer and “digital audio workstation” that is the preferred tool of discerning techno producers and deejays worldwide. Instead of a human-powered rhythm section of electric bass and drums, Malkmus’s arsenal further includes drum machines, along with a host of plug-in FX and “soft synths” (digital simulations of vintage electronic hardware that inhabit your computer rather than take over your entire living room).
For the first time on record, what you hear here is just Stephen and the Machine(s).
But Groove Denied is not a full-blown plunge into EDM or hiptronica, into the soundworlds of Deadmaus, Villalobos and Skee Mask. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. But Groove Denied is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a video interview, “It’s fun to mess with things that you’re not supposed to.”
This departure from the tried-and-tested stems back to earlier in this decade, when Malkmus spent a couple of years living in Berlin and was exposed to the city’s vibrant club scene Back in the Nineties, Stephen had given rave culture a wide berth, in part because of bad personal associations with the drug MDMA (he’d had “a really really bad trip” on Ecstasy in 1987, bizarrely on a visit to New York to see Miles Davis perform). But in Berlin, thanks to a younger deejay friend, Malkmus made forays into the city’s world-famous all-night party scene and became fascinated by techno. “The music can be great… you can zone out, dance, and focus on music – or just get wasted!”
It would not be entirely off-base, or an overly cute rock-historical reference, to describe Groove Denied as Stephen Malkmus’s Low. Although largely recorded in Oregon, the bulk of the album was written while he was living in Berlin. Updating his home studio with Ableton and teaching himself rudimentary Pro Tools, Malkmus “started fucking with effects and loops”. He compares the process of track-construction to the way his kids “used to make these girls on my iPhone – choosing hair colour, dresses, etc. That intuitive swipe and grab thing. Chop and move the waves. Apple computer scroll style of thinking.” It’s a very different way of making music to the feel-oriented way of coming up with chord progressions and rhythm grooves on a guitar alone or jamming with a band. And in fact, electric guitar – while it does feature on Groove Denied – is really “just color for the most part”.
Yet while the methodology behind Groove Denied is absolutely 21st Century, the reference points for the sound-palette hark back to the pre-digital era. “The electronic music side of the album, I wanted it to be sonically pre-Internet,” explains Stephen. “So the EQ-ing is a bit 1970’s, that sloppy DIY sequencing. And the influences are kinda 1981 post punk – actually quite British.” “A Bit Wilder”, one of the stand-out cuts, specifically recalls Cabaret Voltaire, its slack-stringed dank-with-reverb bass a dead ringer for the Stephen Mallinder sound. “Yes, I was thinking the Cabs – and Section 25, whose 1981 album Always Now I think is a serious underdog stoner album. That grey industrial Martin Hannett sound. But also all these cute DIY group that imitated The Cure back then – loners with 4-tracks tape recorders and dreams of “Killing An Arab”.” Malkmus says he was trying to conjure or reinhabit the “fan perspective” on things like Joy Division and the Cure – the sort of “getting it a bit wrong” that unintentionally brings something new into the world.
Groove Denied is frontloaded with this Cold Wave redux sound – a style we’ve never heard from Stephen Malkmus before. Opener “Belziger Faceplant”, for instance, features a most peculiar processed vocal that sounds withered and grotesque, like a deflated wrinkly balloon still lingering on in your house weeks after a party. “I envisioned ‘Belziger Faceplant’ as made by someone off their head after a night out in Friedrichshain,” says Malkmus, referring to a district of the former East Berlin now rife with techno clubs like the legendary Berghain. “Coming back at 5 AM, firing up the laptop in the morning light and trying to make a song, but the instruments are tripping over each other. You can’t even speak because of all the Ketamine or whatever!” Malkmus adds that he’s never tried K but “for some reason I imagine it like that”.
Then there’s “Viktor Borgia,” a title that playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. With its stately melody and the almost-English-accented vocal, the coordinates here are early Human League or even Men Without Hats. “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982. And also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”
“Forget Your Place” features another eerily wobbled vocal a la “Belziger Faceplant” plus dub-style detonations of submarine sonar and nagging bleeps. Frankly, it sounds pretty darn wasted. “Like ‘Belgizer’, this is a pretty solid Ableton-based track – moving waves around, finding a trippy loop and throwing an echo on it,” explains Stephen, adding that “at times it feels almost childish, working with Ableton – like finger painting. But ‘Forget Your Place’ also makes me think about death – don’t ask me why!”
Alongside the early Eighties “minimal synth” and industrial influences, the other main palette of tone-colors audible on Groove Denied is closer both to Stephen’s comfort zone and to what his fans would expect from him: “warped psych,” as he terms it, that avant-garage tradition of dirty guitars and ramshackle grooves, except that in this case, it’s “one person pretending to be a band.” That illusion is pulled off magnificently on loose ‘n’ swinging tunes like “Come Get Me” and “Love the Door,” although the electronic element manifests still with the crisp and prim pitter of drum machine beats and a spume of Moog frothing all over “Door”. Then there’s “Rushing the Acid Frat”, whose title came from Stephen’s memories of a student fraternity at the University of Virginia that, unlike the typical beery bro frathouse, had a “Grateful Dead druggy tie-dye” vibe. Malkmus imagined “Rushing” as a “Louie Louie”-style shindig rumpus to soundtrack a “Star Wars bar scene in such a frat… It’s kinda 12-bar, but gigged with psych lyrics”.
As the album enters the homestretch, it returns to more familiar Malkmusian terrain, with a warmer, grittier sound. “I did frontload Groove Denied with the stuff that signals “80’s/cold,” he says. “That stuff excited me the most – and it sounded braver. If I had another year, it could have been all in that style.” Still, with the second half offering gorgeous tunes like the hazy-lazy ramble “Bossviscerate” and the glittering “Ocean of Revenge” – both graced with his signature style of odd-angled melodic beauty – who’s complaining? Mellow closer “Grown Nothing” feels like Malkmus easing back towards the sound of his recent album with the Jicks, Sparkle Hard. In fact, although it has been released after Sparkle, 70% of Groove Denied was completed before work on the Jicks record. Indeed, Malkmus’s explorations with sound-processing influenced that album, most notably with the unexpected appearance of Auto-Tune on a couple of tracks.
Groove Denied will shake up settled notions of what Malkmus is about and what he’s capable of, repositioning him in the scheme of things. But looking at it from a different angle, his engagement with state-of-art digital tech actually makes perfect sense. After all, Nineties lo-fi – the sound in which he and Pavement were initially vaunted as leaders and pioneers – was nothing if not insistently sonic – it was all about the grain of guitar textures, about gratuitously over-done treatments and ear-grabbing effects. Noise for noise’s sake. It’s just that it was looking to older modes and antiquated technology. From the Big Muff and the Cry Baby Wah pedal through to today’s deliberately distorted deployment of pitch-correction, there’s really an unbroken continuity: the creative misuse of technology, the aestheticization of mistakes and flaws, wrongness-as-rightness.
As Stephen tweeted recently on the subject of Auto-Tune’s omnipresence in contemporary music-making: “We long 4 transformation….and we humans fucking luv tools.”
Simon Reynolds, Jan 2019
(Tour Dates, New Shows sans Jicks In Bold, On Sale Friday Jan 25, 10am Local Time)
Steve Gunn today shares a third song off of ‘The Unseen In Between’ (out January 18), the gorgeous “Vagabond” and its accompanying official video. Named after Gunn’s favorite Agnes Varda film, “Vagabond” could almost be the soundtrack to a Denis Johnson short story or Sam Shepard play, with its rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray — like Mona who “camped out in a graveyard” and Jean-Pierre who “came from the road, his artwork remains unsold.” Accompanied by gorgeous harmonies from Meg Baird, the song is a meditation on our restless times, an ode to the runaways, drifters, and vagabonds trying to make ends meet.
Jason Evans directed the accompanying official video, which includes graphics by Stephen Powers. It’s a stylish black & white performance film with a timeless feel, taking its visual cues from Richard Avedon and David Bailey. The intimacy lends itself well to Gunn’s impeccable guitar work, with close-ups of his fingers casting spells on the frets
Gunn has also announced a lengthy run of new headline full-band tour dates for the spring, which will commence upon his return from playing East Coast, West Coast, and European shows on April 18th in Milwaukee. The full list of tour dates can be found below.
Following “Balm Of Gilead” released earlier in the month, Iceage today unveil a second new single with “Broken Hours.” A five minute epic of doom-laden swing and crashing, spidery riffs that backdrop Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s howling incantation: “Dying figures, they settle in / Broken hours / It lingers on” – it’s another heart-racing transmission from a band at the peak of their craft.
Iceage cap off their 2018 North American touring tomorrow night in Brooklyn with a show at Elsewhere; their biggest ever UK headline show follows in London on December 7th.
To coincide with their North American tour kicking off tonight, Iceage have unveiled the previously unreleased “Balm of Gilead”, a striking reminder of the band’s ability to create a confident anthem in a dark age. “Balm of Gilead” is part of a split 7” with tourmates Black Lips and will be available in physical form exclusively at the shows on this tour.
Iceage — Elias Bender Rønnenfelt (vocals, lyrics), Jakob Tvilling Pless (bass), Dan Kjær Nielsen (drums), and Johan Wieth (guitar) — will return to as a quartet on this North American run. Fans can expect a taste of new music on top of the band’s beloved catalog. Or alongside. The repertoire is up to them (as always)
Interpol returned to “Later… with Jools Holland” (BBC) this week with a striking performance in black & white of “The Rover”, from their critically acclaimed new album ‘Marauder’. Alongside, the band have released a new version of “If You Really Love Nothing” by Pêtr Aleksänder, the duo of London musicians Tom Hobden and Eliot James, which sees the anthemic song reimagined as a transcendent, string-laden opus.
Steve Gunn’s long awaited new album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, will be released on January 18. Following the guitarist/vocalist’s 3-night residency at Brooklyn’s Union Pool this month and next, Gunn will tour with a full band throughout the US and Europe in 2019 (full dates below)
For over a decade, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gunn has been one of American music’s most pivotal figures – conjuring immersive and psychedelic sonic landscapes both live and on record, releasing revered solo albums ranking high on in-the-know end of year lists, alongside exploratory collaborations with artists as diverse as Mike Cooper, Kurt Vile, and Michael Chapman (whose most recent studio album he produced). Gunn is known for telling other people’s stories, but on his breakthrough fourth album, ‘The Unseen In Between’, he explores his own emotional landscapes with his most complex, fully realized songs to date. The lyrics evoke voyages, tempests (actual and emotional), and a rich cast of characters met along the way — the work of an artist finding a place of calm in the midst of a storm. Produced by frequent collaborator James Elkington and engineered by Daniel Schlett, the immaculately recorded ‘Unseen’ forces a reassessment of Gunn’s standing in the pantheon of the era’s great songwriters.
Getting to ‘The Unseen In Between’ itself was not easy for Gunn. In the summer of 2016, Gunn released ‘Eyes On The Lines’, his winning and elliptical debut for Matador. It should have been a triumphant moment, but exactly two weeks later, Gunn’s father and namesake died following a two-year struggle with cancer. During his sickness, he and his son had connected as never before, listening to one another’s experiences and understanding one another’s perspectives; they became not father and son but real friends.
This experience yielded the emotional centerpiece of the album. “Stonehurst Cowboy” is a duet for Gunn’s raw acoustic guitar and spare basslines by Bob Dylan’s musical director Tony Garnier, whose featured throughout the album. The song distills the lessons Gunn learned from his father and it is a solemn but tender remembrance, a tribute to his father’s reputation as a tough, wise, and witty guy from far west Philadelphia.
A sense of musical renewal and emotional complexity fits the new songs perfectly; “Luciano” seems to be about the chemistry between a bodega owner and his cat, an unspoken romance of gentle obedience and quiet gestures. But Gunn peers below the relationship’s surface and wonders about the owner’s lonely future once the cat is gone, a devastating meditation wrapped in soft strings. And then there’s “Vagabond,” Gunn’s graceful attempt to humanize a rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray, wanderers who live outside of society’s modern safety net, who pursue “a crooked dream” in spite of what the world expects. Supported by the perfect harmonies of Meg Baird, Gunn finds something lovely in the unloved.
Inspired by contemporary artist Walter De Maria’s Dia Art Foundation-affiliated installation of 400 stainless steel poles atop the high desert of New Mexico, “Lightning Field” considers what we get out of art when it doesn’t work, when lightning does not light up the night for visitors. Opener “New Moon” may begin in the mode of a deep track from Astral Weeks or Fred Neil, with its upright bass and sparse tremolo guitar. But during the song’s final minutes, strings double the melody, and then the guitar rushes headlong, pulling ahead in a wave of ecstatic deliverance. It is a brief but liberating solo, an instant release of tension from the fraught scene Gunn has built, complemented by one of his most arresting vocal performances.
In a final contrast, “Morning is Mended” is an acoustic beauty so resplendent it ranks alongside Sandy Denny or Jackson C. Frank. Buoyed by a melody that sparkles like sunlight on still water, Gunn acknowledges the hardships around him, the feeling of being a “nothing sky,” and then moves forward into the world, walking tall into the fresh morning. The song is an apt encapsulation of ‘The Unseen In Between’, a gorgeously empathetic record that attempts to recognize the worries of the world and offer some timely assurance. It is a revelatory and redemptive set, offering the balm of understanding at a time when that seems in very short supply.
“We were thinking about remixers like Frankie Knuckles when we approached this one. A guy like that could take a song from any genre and make these incredible grooved out dub versions of his own. We looked at our remix of “The Rover” like that… just trying to build something that could be played in a club late at night.”+- DJDS
Interpol have shared a new remix of “The Rover” by electronic production duo DJDS aka DJ Dodger Stadium (Jerome LOL and Samo Sound Boy, known for their work with Kanye West, Khalid, Vic Mensa and others), the first in a series of remixes from their critically acclaimed new album ‘Marauder’. The infectious rework sees Balearic synth stabs and undulating rhythm serve as the backdrop to Paul Banks’ haunting vocals and lyrics of an elusive cult leader.