Featured

INTERVIEW: Adrianne Lenker

adrianne_lenker_h_0918_pic_shervin_lainez_2

THE OVERWHELMING SENSATION OF BEING ALIVE

Three years on the road with her band Big Thief has been a life changing experience for Adrianne Lenker and as she explains to Chris Familton, she wanted to document and archive her thoughts and emotions through that period on her new solo album abyskiss.

I made my first solo record when I was 21 and I was so much closer to my influences then. Now I’ve got farther from those influences although I’m more influenced by more things than I’ve ever been,” explains Lenker as she ponders they ways in which she’s evolved musically and personally since her debut, Hours Were The Birds, was released. “I’m 27 now and I feel like there have been so many things that have happened. When I made that record I hadn’t even met the band and I’ve spent the last three years on the road and they’ve become my family. That in itself has completely changed me. I’ve shed skins. I’ve been so influenced by the music the guys in the band have shared with me and people I’ve met on the road. My heart has been expanding with the challenges and heartbreak and the wounding and mending over that time.”

The album was predominately written on the road, something many artists choose to avoid. For Lenker, her muse has a habit of dropping in at any time and capturing the songs in certain situations can make for a difficult creative process. 

“Songs are always welcome in my soul but reality sets in sometimes and there are moments when I can’t give attention to a song that’s coming through. That can be so frustrating. Time is so fleeting and with touring pretty much all of your hours in each day are structured and everything is planned out ahead of time. Writing on the road is about stealing time from myself, finding moments to get lost in my soul,” says Lenker. “That can just be for 20 minutes or a couple of hours or for a day, but there have been so many times when an idea has been forming that I’ve felt really excited about and then we have a soundcheck or a show or a meeting. That’s happened countless times where I’ve lost ideas that I’ve loved. I also think when it doesn’t form fully it is meant to be, they’re just stepping stone ideas to get to another thing.”

Sonically, there is a clear separation in the sound of the album from the full band elements used on Big Thief recordings. “I had the intention to keep them minimal because I really wanted the acoustic guitar to shine,” explains Lenker. The approach is an effective one, drawing the listener into the intimacy of her performance and the simple details of her songs. “I just sat in front of the microphone and sang and played the songs and recorded them. There was no editing at all and we only aded one or two other elements. I was conscious to keep it like that – quiet.”

Lenker is known for her astute and sensitive approach to detailing events and the emotional impact they have. On abysskiss she again takes a magnifying glass to life experiences but places them in  the context of big picture existential questions.

“The biggest theme is the least original thing possible. Life, pain, birth, death, the cyclical nature of things. A lot of it is about questions themselves. The aching bittersweetness of being alive and the inherent duality of everything. What kind of twisted, hilarious or crazy thing brought all of this into being and how insane it is that we are brought into his world and then leave and the only guarantee we have is that we will die and lose everyone that we love. Somehow that’s what makes it so rich,” she says, with a mix of wonder and passion in her voice.

“I’m fascinated by the microcosms and explosions that are happening minute to minute within all of us. It’s creating this crazy tapestry that feels extremely gruesome, morbid, gory and bloody and also so delicate and magical and pure. The ocean exists and the most beautiful harmony exists but also war and destruction. I’m constantly overwhelmed by the sensation of being alive. That’s where it’s coming from.”

NEW MUSIC: Luxury Mane – Domestic Bliss

1538945110547

Here’s the title track from Luxury Mane‘s album that is due for release on December 12th. The Florida quartet deal in kaleidoscopic indie rock, complete with cascading melodies and colourful psych pop arrangements. Their song ‘Sitting Still’ first caught our attention and this one seals the deal.

Advertisements

NEW MUSIC: Pip Blom – Come Home

45055314_1506267136183745_1164477109821767680_n

Today we’ve got some great new music from the Netherlands, in the form of the track ‘Come Home’ by Pip Blom. Indie rock styles aplenty, built on a wonderfully insistent and pulsing rhythm section, guitars that snake about and create all kinds of interesting sonic shapes. Vocally the voices overlap and intertwine giving ‘Come Home’ a distinctly hypnotic feel.

Pip’s Paycheck EP was released 5th October digitally with a 12” vinyl release due in November, via Nice Swan Records. She’s supported Franz Ferdinand and The Breeders.

UK NOVEMBER TOUR DATES

14 – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds

15 – Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh

16 – Think Tank? Underground, Newcastle

17 – The Night and Day Café, Manchester

19 – The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham

20 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

21 – The Prince Albert, Brighton

22 – The Lexington, London

24 – The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool

25 – Whelan’s (upstairs), Dublin

26 – The Cookie, Leicester

27 – The Boileroom, Guildford

NEW MUSIC: Skelatin – It Takes The Pain Away

1537159410013

If you ever wondered about the lasting influence of The Strokes then a sure sign of their ongoing infiltration in the songwriting and sound of young bands can be found in this quickfire and clever slice of indie rock, one that finds a sweet spot between blank-eyed slacker rock and knotty musical intellectualism.

Skelatin, led by Sam Levine,  hail from New Orleans and this track is one half of their 2018 two-track EP of the same name.

NEW MUSIC: Lennard Rubra – L’archetipo di Artemide

 

a1309179780_10

Here’s a great track from Lennard Rubra, a 21 year old multi-instrumentalist from Riccione, Italy. ‘L’archetipo di Artemide’ recalls the sparkling knotty and intertwined guitars of Television and the avant-indie post-rock of the 2000s such as Dirty Projectors and Ponytail.

‘L’archetipo di Artemide’ is the opening track on his recently released debut album Paracusie Notturne.

ALBUM REVIEW: Deep Sea Arcade – Blacklight

deep_sea_arcade_blacklight_1018

It’s been six years since Nic McKenzie and Nick Weaver released their debut album Outlands. On the back of a run of singles they’d built a strong sense of anticipation about that first record and it certainly lived up to expectations. Fast forward to 2018 and how does a band evolve and change over that time? The DSA model is to essentially stick to the template with some refinement and an easing off of the accelerator.

As you’d expect with such a long gestation, they’ve no doubt rewritten and reworked tracks and that has given these ten songs a sense of calm control. The more frantic edges of earlier songs have been rounded off. This is the band sounding less indie psych rock and with more of an ultramodern sheen that embraces electronic and disco sounds as much as it distils the pop and psychedelic qualities of their past work. Mercury Rev, Spoon, Beck, The Horrors are names that come to mind, acts that all relish melodic hooks as equally as they paint in cosmic colours. 

McKenzie’s voice is shorn of some of its more nasally proclivities and is now in perfect marriage with the music. Musically, the Manchester 90s vibe is still there in tracks like Joanna with its dance-ready rhythm section. The closer Ready is a highlight of studio-polished melancholy while Learning To Fly is an absolute ear-worm of a track that uses hooks and repetition to bury itself deep. The other highlight is the single Close To Me with its loping trip hop groove and psych-soul feel that blossoms into one of the duo’s finest choruses.

Black lights are employed for artistic lighting effects as well as diagnostic and therapeutic uses and in that sense it’s a fitting title for a record that looks to combine art-pop and post-relationship dissection. There are moments when form supersedes the strength of the songwriting but overall Blacklight justifies the long wait for this second album.

Chris Familton

ALBUM REVIEW: The Goon Sax – We’re Not Talking

goon sax

They were young when they formed, young when they recorded their first album and they’re still only just sloping out of their teens as they release their sophomore album. At its strongest, We’re Not Talking still reaches the same impossibly catchy jangle-pop heights that they impressed with on their debut, but across its 30 minutes some minor risk-taking doesn’t quite pay off. 

Their trademark innocence and honest dives into the realities of approaching and entering adulthood is still intact and if they were previously singing about those things from an observational POV, now they’re reporting from the inside, as they experience them. Other changes include the three band members take a greater share of lead vocals, with Riley Jones’ voice particularly impressing on the tender Strange Light. They’ve also experimented with different instrumentation such as strings, piano and a drum machine, widening their palette from the straight rock trio format.

When the album works it’s a thrilling dash through young love and self-doubt. Opener Make Time 4 Love is brisk, fun and infectious, She Knows is reminiscent of the rough and barely contained sugar rush of The Strokes while Sleep EZ and Get Out recall the golden heyday of Flying Nun’s skewed pop moments. In contrast, other songs such as Now You Pretend are only partly formed interludes. They add variety to the album but they feel like filler before the next primitive, melodic pop explosion occurs.

The many highlights on We’re Not Talking suggest that The Goon Sax are still evolving and successfully exploring the art and craft of confessional, catchy and quirky songwriting.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: Heartthrob Chassis – Sister

heartthrob-chassis-cover-1533852169402

Here’s some blank-eyed, gutter-glam noise-rock from Heartthrob Chassis out of Detroit. The band is headed by Margaret Doll Rod, former songwriter and member of the stage-smashing Demolition Doll Rods.

The track lurches and staggers along with an almost Suicide-like drone quality. Babes in Toyland and early Hole are reference points too, with some added Sonic Youth squalls, dirge and dissonant causticity.

The track comes from Heartthrob Chassis’ recently released full length LP Arrhythmia, out on Milan Records and available to purchase HERE.

NEW MUSIC: The Original Cowards – Curse Of The Commander

23316437_2119533084738757_8953987650156103303_n

Here’s some searing panoramic dust storm countrified rock from The Original Cowards, a trio from Northampton, MA whose self-proclaimed influences include Dinosaur Jr., Neil Young and Crazy Horse, sacred herbs, garage and psych, fuzz, The Who, and thunder. They live up to those lofty aspirations on ‘Curse Of The Commander’, a seven minute track that rumbles, sways and lumbers along with paint-peeling solos and a bedrock rhythm section. They call this song a sonic flip-off the orange American Satan in chief.