Monthly Archives: February 2013

Junip – Line of Fire

A few weeks ago Junip announced that their second self-titled album will be released on April 22 through City Slang. Since then, new track Line of Fire has notched up over 200,000 plays and their London show at Village Underground has completely sold out.

Now the trio, Jose Gonzalez , Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn, have announced the release of the official video to accompany Line of Fire. This video is the first instalment of a two part series of videos directed by Swedish film-maker and former Jose Gonzalez documentary-maker, Mikel Cee Karlsson.

Junip

Dynamic trio, Junip

He explains: “The video(s) tell the story of a tormented old man, stuck in a relationship that perhaps was not his choice or preference to begin with. We see fragments from childhood, the first awkward kiss, the father watching over him making sure he follows the right path. The old man, like all of us, a person programmed by the convictions and beliefs of others. In the case of the old man, the unconscious suddenly manifests itself when a young, jeans wearing character appears in their home, forcing him to question who he really is.”

The video for Line of Fire is stunning as is the song itself. The video portrays the emotion behind the song perfectly; reflecting on the life you have led and what you might have done differently.  The images shown compliment Gonzalez’s lyrics to make sure the track gets you thinking. Line of Fire tells its audience a story and asks them to question their own choices in life.

You can see Junip live on the following dates:
May 1 – AT – Vienna – Szene
May 2 – CH – Zurich – Plaza
May 3 – DE – Heidelberg – Karlstorbahnhof
May 4 – DE – Munich – Kammerspiele Theatre
May 5 – DE – Berlin – Astra Kulturhaus
May 6 – DE – Hamburg – Uebel & Gefaehrlich
May 7 – NL – Amsterdam – Melkweg
May 8 – BE – Brussels – Les Nuits Botanique
May 10 – DE – Cologne – Stollwerck
May 13 – UK – London – Village Underground SOLD OUT
May 14 – FR – Paris – Trabendo

More dates to be announced very soon.

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City Reign Set Off On Tour…And Make A Playlist For Q

Mancunian indie rockers City Reign set off on a national tour last week that includes a support slot for Bella Union’s Concrete Knives.

The band have released a behind-the-scenes video to show their fans what they got up to in the rehearsal studio. Just a heads up – you will be surprised at how glamorous their rehearsal space is…You can view the video below.

Not only have they been busy rehearsing for their tour, they have also compiled a playlist as requested by Q Magazine. As City Reign recorded their album in Salford’s Sacred Trinity Church, Q Magazine asked them to curate a playlist of their favourite tracks that were recorded in odd places. They picked a varied bunch, including Johnny Cash, Doves, Bon Iver, U2 and My Morning Jacket. The playlist can be found on Spotify here.

Their single Making Plans is set for release on February 25 with their debut album, Another Step being released on March 11.

City Reign Forthcoming Live Dates:

Mar 8 Castle Hotel Manchester, United Kingdom (SUPPORTING CONCRETE KNIVES)
Mar 15 Bull & Gate London, United Kingdom

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Darktown Jubilee – Stay (Acoustic Live)

Darktown Jubilee have recently released a video of them performing their new single Stay live. The video sees the band perform the single acoustically.

Darktown Jubilee

Darktown Jubilee

Stay is taken from the forthcoming album, The World, The Flesh & The Devil which is set for release on March 11. It’s the follow up to 2012′s Breakdown and has seen the band gain a lot of attention. Stay made such an impact that world renowned engineer, Cenzo Townsend mixed the single for them. Cenzo Townsend has worked with The Vaccines, Florence + the Machine, The Machine, U2, The Editors and The Maccabees.

Stay is a classic and triumphant indie rock song which works perfectly as an acoustic number. Hearing it acoustically opens up the emotional aspects of the song, it starts to feel like a love song, dare I say.

Singer/guitarist David Boardman from the band comments:

“Stay is the most emotionally direct song on the record and has always connected with audiences so it became an obvious choice when we were considering singles. It was a dream to get Cenzo to remix it for us. He has mixed some of the greatest records of the last 10 years and I think brought out the best in the track, bringing to it an increased energy and dynamic range.”

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CocoRosie – Gravediggress

Sisters Sierra and Bianca Casady AKA American duo CocoRosie release a track from their upcoming album, Tales of a Grass Widow. Tales of a Grass Widow will be their fifth album. As they are now signed to City Slang Records, the album will see a European release on May 27.

Gravediggress is representative to their album’s theme; transformative ecstasy in the face of harmful neglect. The song tells the story of an imagined conversation between an abandoned child and an outcast old woman. The young girl asks the Gravediggress to bury her love in the ground for safekeeping. Cleverly, the sisters take on a character each with Bianca impersonating the child’s voice in the chorus, “Gravediggress dig me a hole I can bury, all of my love in, all of my holy” while Sierra sings in haltering yet clear tones to imitate the voice of an old woman.

CocoRosie

CocoRosie Gravediggress artwork

The track is very cleverly put together with the vocals overlapping suggesting that perhaps the child and the old woman are the same person. A simple electronic drum beat and a piano are all that accompany the sweet, innocent vocals of each.

You can listen to it here.

Tales of a Grass Widow features 11 tracks and was produced in association with Valgeir Sigurðsson. Later this year Bianca Casady launches ‘Girls Against God’ – an arts and letters print publication.  Linked to this project, Bianca and Sierra Casady have founded the Future Feminists with Antony Hegarty and performance artists Kembra Pfahler and Johanna Constantine.  The group’s platform is to “free society and protect the planet from the corrosive effects of patriarchal belief systems”.

The songs in Tales of a Grass Widow touch on CocoRosie’s personal response to the group’s feminist mission. Tales of a Grass Widow is out on May 27 across Europe.

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Marla Mase – Speak (Deluxe Edition)

Marla Mase is a writer, performer, producer, singer and songwriter from New York City. On top of being multi-talented in the musical and artist side of life, she has been awarded an honorary ‘Messenger of Peace’ award by Friends of the UN for her work as a visionary artist and songwriter. Marla Mase isn’t your typical punk rock chick.

Marla Mase

Marla Mase and the Tomas Doncker Band

Marla Mase has become known for her provocative and raw live performances and thought-provoking lyrics which focus on the injustices of the world, media pressures upon women among other political and social issues. Marla Mase isn’t a passive member of society. She uses her thought-provoking songs to inspire others (just as others like Bob Dylan did in the past). However, unlike those huge inspirational artists of the 60s and 70s, Mase doesn’t take a back seat. Whatever she sings about, she also puts into practice. Songs like Queen of Imperfection and AnnaRexia highlight the issue of the pressure that is put on women by the media and society to look a certain way. Mase sings about this while also actively campaigning. AnnaRexia is spearheading the StayImperfect Project or Love Your Butt Campaign which Marla created to empower women to not only accept but love themselves and their bodies. Proceeds from AnnaRexia as well as emerging artist, Lael Summer’s track, The Good Fight (whose EP Marla co-produced with Doncker) will go towards theprojectheal.org, a non-profit organization founded by two teenage eating disorder survivors, that raises scholarship money for girls whose families cannot afford to send them to treatment.

For the above reasons among others, Mase has been noted as being a true musical pioneer of our time. She is about to release the deluxe edition of her album Speak. Speak was first released in 2010. The deluxe edition features the ten original tracks plus six extra ones such as AnnaRexia and Piece of Peace.

Marla Mase has been compared to the likes of Jim Morrison and Patti Smith. Two of the most inspirational musicians of the 60s and 70s. Mase certainly has a Patti Smith feel to her music and to some extent, her appearance and attitude to life. Songs like Open Up My Heart and Queen of Imperfection really do ooze Smith’s attitude and spirit. Her musical style reflects that of Smith’s as well. Her music is poetry in song. She mixes spoken word, punk, rock, global soul and reggae influences to produce a sound all her own. It seems Mase belongs in the 70s but is a few decades too late.

Lyrically, Mase is not as strong as Smith or Morrison, she is less literary and more factual. Her songs’ messages are easier to understand than that of Smith’s or Morrison’s. For example, the lyrics of and meaning behind track five, New Cell Phone are pretty obvious – the world has become too digitalised, mobile phones and the internet are the only way people communicate now. Mase sings about changing her number and trying to escape the world around her.

Marla Mase

Marla Mase performing live

Mase is more straight forward in her approach to lyrics, she’s clear and direct. However, saying that, Open Up My Heart is a narrative about a protected princess who longs to witness real life and experience true love. It reminds me of the story of the Buddha in some ways, a protected being who wishes to see the real world and how others live, even if that means witnessing love and hate.

Other favourite tracks on Speak are Queen of Imperfection, She Hooked Him Up, Divine Restlessness and Dance the Tango. Usually it’s easy to distinguish your favourite tracks on an album but this time round it was hard. Most of the tracks are outstanding due to the way they open your mind and make you think about the world and how we all live in it together.

Queen of Imperfection sees Mase singing her heart out about how she is not ‘perfect’. No-one is perfect and this is something we should all celebrate. The lyrics, “I’m cracked, flawed and defective just like you are…My body has some wear and tear because it ain’t been airbrushed and I don’t care…Ain’t no cover girl/Ain’t no pornographic supermodel movie star/My hair ain’t combed/My house is a wreck…” are all too true. We should embrace that we are all real and unique and not false like Hollywood movie stars.

She Hooked Him Up has a great funk beat that will instantly have you tapping your feet. This song is about the power of sex in society. Sex sells as we all know far too well.  Divine Restlessness is one of the few slow numbers on the record where Mase sings about switching off and fully relaxing in an Eastern meditative way; reaching the Divine. Dance the Tango is a song that feels separate from the rest of the album which is why it’s a favourite. This is the only track on the album with folk influences and is a welcomed break from the punk influences found in the rest of the tracks. Vocally, Mase sounds more angelic and less angry in Dance the Tango. It has a great melody and beat that will have you bobbing along in no time. It’s a narrative about a woman who died and her obituary was read in the paper. However, it missed out how she enjoyed dancing the tango, “They forgot to mention how you liked to laugh and how you loved to dance the tango”. Dance the Tango focuses on remembering the little things about those people you love; those things that made them happy, not about how much you miss them when they’ve gone.

Mase has the ability to write lyrics and create songs that open your mind. They will get you thinking. There are layers to her songs meaning you can take what you want from each one. Those interpretations above are my own but you might listen and find other meanings in the songs. There are not many artists that can write in that way these days. There are not many artists who can create songs that make you think about the wider picture. For most songs we are a passive audience but when you listen to Mase, you will become an active audience member.

Speak (the deluxe edition) will be available from Thursday 28 February. You can listen to the stream here.

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A Primitive Evolution – Lord of Reason

Alternative blues rock band A Primitive Evolution recently released the official video for their new track, Lord of Reason. The video release comes after the band’s first full length album release in September last year titled The Prize.

The blues rock band consists of Brett Carruthers (vocals and guitars), Stephany Seki (bass, cello and vocals) and Stu Dead (drums and percussion). Based in Toronto, Canada, this trio have a unique view of the world and the human race. Carruthers said: “Creation is evolution. That’s what I figure we’re trying to say with A Primitive Evolution. As evolved as we think we are as humans or animals, we are very much in the beginning of the evolution of mankind. We have so much to learn and yet so much has changed in the last hundred years. We have a long way to go as a species. We want our band to reflect that too, going off of what we feel, doing it out of instinct and evolving naturally; having some fun existing on this planet.” And this is exactly how their music comes across. Punchy, fun and full of life without sinking into that stereotypical view of blues rock. Their music means something, it’s not commercial.

A Primitive Evolution

A Primitive Evolution artwork

A Primitive Evolution has a range of influences including Jane’s Addiction, Stone Roses, Tool, Outkast, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Faith No More, Vivaldi and Motorhead to name just a few. This is what makes their music accessible and original at the same time. They have drawn on many different influences which gives their sound a varied feel.

Lord of Reason is a fantastic blues rock track with influences of folk blended in nicely to compliment it. The beginning is mesmerising. The acoustic guitar riff sets the scene with its perfect tones and loose sounding strings while Carruthers’ vocals are slowly introduced. Everything about this song feels right. There are no flaws. The band have become known for their Alice in Wonderland-esque videos and the video for Lord of Reason definitely fits that category.

Dead said about the band’s sound: “It’s bulldozing electronic music without the keyboards. We use real instruments instead. It creates this heavy, industrial aspect. In this band, we push each other to step out of comfort zones. It’s in my nature to always be uncomfortable. That’s when you can really create.”

Seki added: “…The Prize came out really pretty; better than we were hoping. We strive to avoid repetition, to be very raw, real and organic. We don’t follow trends because we don’t work well in that environment. Even if people recognize the songs, The Prize is something unto itself.”

Dead concluded: “Get ’em hot and bothered. They should be excited about music; surprised. As a musician, that’s the greatest reward. We always bring something new, be it this recording or our live show. We  challenge our audience to come with us on our journey. That’s why we went from a super hard record to a crazy acoustic soundtrack record. Some bands put out the same shit over and over. We don’t want to stagnate and becoming boring. We’d never do that to our audience.”

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Introducing…Department M

Department M is the new project of Leeds-based Owen Brinley. The debut single from the artist, I’ll Fax You An Apology, is set for release on March 25 through Hide and Seek Records.

Brinley’s career as a DJ and binge-drinker in many Leeds nightclubs saw him suffering with Hyperacusis, an acute over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges. He decided a lifestyle change was needed but giving up his love for music wasn’t an option.

Department M

Leeds-based alternative band, Department M

His condition over time created a tension, an adversary to battle against and something which informed the lyrical and musical elements that would mould Department M’s sound. Brinley uses bitter industrial noise in his compositions to compliment the prevalent 80s analogue synth he so loves – perhaps its his way of inflicting discomfort back onto the music, perhaps it eases his pain.

You can listen to the debut single, I’ll Fax You An Apology here. I’ll Fax You An Apology is a song with swooping, emotional vocals mixed with electronic rock style music. It really is a unique sound.

Department M got its name from the grey and dour drama, The Lives Of Others on the night Brinley recorded the first of his songs last year. The first demo was more designed than written, on an ancient Toshiba laptop with some stolen software and a missing enter key.

In between Brinley’s trips to the job centre, producer James Kenosha (Pulled Apart By Horses) pushed these recordings into the forefront. The sound of the project took on a surrealist future/retro adjacency, swathes of analogue synthesizer born in the same era as Brinley himself were stained with ad-libbed noise breaks and oscillations.

The results of these sessions, finished in mid 2012, were posted online and attracted the attention of Leeds label Hide And Seek Records.

With a live band now gigging together, Department M demands attention in 2013.

See Department M live on the following dates:

25th March – Old Blue Last, London  (Free entry)
27th March – Kraak Gallery, Manchester
29th March – Wharf Chambers, Leeds

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