This morning Steve Gunn has confirmed a new August/September European tour in support of the critically acclaimed ‘The Unseen In Between’, accompanied by Anton Coene’s footage of the album’s standout “Morning Is Mended”, filmed in the former monestary, Caermersklooster.
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.
Perfume Genius has announced a collaborative dance and music performance with Kate Wallich + The YC titled The Sun Still Burns Here. The evening-long piece, set to debut later this year, is co-directed by Perfume Genius and Wallich and stars Perfume Genius’s Mike Hadreas alongside the dance troupe the YC.
Ahead of the official premiere events in Seattle and NYC this Fall, Mass MoCA in North Adams MA and Mark Morris Dance Theater in New York City will host work-in-process showings and workshops with the ensemble. Info for all related events is below.
Work In Process Showing
Saturday, June 8th Mass MoCA, North Adams MA
Workshop with The YC
June 21st and 22nd Mark Morris Dance Center, New York NY
October 4th & 5th Moore Theatre, Seattle WA
East Coast Premiere
November 13th – 17th The Joyce Theater, New York NY
Earlier this month, Interpol announced they will join Morrissey on the road in North America surrounding the one-year anniversary of Marauder. Today, the band has extended their routing to include headlining dates in additional cities throughout The United States. General on sale for the newly announced shows is this Friday, April 26th at 10am local time.
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.
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 will mark their first anniversary on the road in support of ‘Marauder’ with a series of large-scale indoor and outdoor September dates alongside Morrissey. Tickets go on sale Friday, April 12 at 10am local time.
Lucy Dacus has announced new tour dates surrounding her festival performances in Europe this Spring and Summer. These dates follow next month’s headlining shows in the American South. All dates listed below are on sale now.
In addition to the major festival appearances below, there’s 3 new headlining Snail Mail shows on tap including July 31st at Brooklyn Steel. Tickets for the dates in bold go on sale this Friday at 10am local time.
After releasing videos alongside the advance singles “Viktor Borgia,” “Rushing The Acid Frat,” and “Come Get Me,” Stephen Malkmus’s solo record Grooved Denied is out in the world today. Stream the new album/Purchase the clear vinyl edition or CD HERE.
Malkmus’s solo dates are selling out quickly, see a full list of his May ’19 Groove Denied performances as well as upcoming shows with The Jicks below.
Stephen Malkmus will partake in a Reddit A.M.A. today at 4pm Eastern– more information about that interview is available here.
Marking the beginning of his European dates tonight in Amsterdam, Steve Gunn has released an acoustic rendition of The Unseen In Between single “Vagabond.” The video, filmed by The Mitcham Submarine, was shot late last year at a London bookstore. Gunn’s full-band performances begin tonight in Amsterdam, see a full list of his upcoming dates below.
Seemingly acting in defiance of a bone-crushing touring schedule (covering five different countries in five short days) Lindsey Jordan managed to find a spare six minutes during Snail Mail’s tour of Asia last October to record an epic version of ‘Pristine’ for MTV Asia’s ‘MTV Jammin’.
In other ‘The Tour That Never Ends Tour’ news, Lindsey and the gang will be visiting our friends in the Southern Hemisphere for shows across Australia and New Zealand early next month, details below.
After the briefest of respites, Lucy Dacus’ seemingly endless global touring continues next month in Savannah, GA. In addition, 6 southern U.S. dates with support from Mothers were just announced, with tickets on sale this Friday at 10am local time (links below).
In addition to August’s hotly anticipated Boaty Weekender cruise with guests Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, Japanese Breakfest and many others, Belle and Sebastian have confirmed 8 summer appearances in the US and Canada. Tickets go on general sale this Friday at 10am local time.
Spoon spent nearly two years touring in support of ‘Hot Thoughts’ so what better way to commemorate the summer of 2019 than by visiting the continent’s finest ampitheatres and multi-purpose entertainment venues on a package tour alongside such show business titans as Beck and Cage The Elephant? If an answer to this question pops into your head, please don’t bother sharing it as the shows are already booked and tickets go on sale rather soon (Friday at 10am local time, in fact).
Though Car Seat Headrest’s current North American run recommences this Thursday in Boston, MA, the band have confirmed 9 additional summer show. Pre-sale begins Tuesday at 10am local time.. You can sign up for the presale (password TODAY ONLY) at https://carseatheadrest.com/tourdates. You’ll receive a text and email 10 minutes before tickets go on sale. General onsale begins Friday at 10am local time.
After completing sold-out dates on the West Coast last month, Snail Mail has announced today additional Spring and Summer touring plans in support of her debut LP, Lush. New European dates are on sale today, new American dates are on sale this Friday at 10am local time. Snail Mail performs for their first time at Madison Square Garden next weekend, February 16th, with Interpol and Car Seat Headrest.
“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)