INTERVIEW: Margaret Glaspy

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BALANCING INSTINCT AND REASON

Margaret Glaspy has had a career-high last 12 months that has seen her go from working long hours to pay New York rent to touring large venues with The Lumineers. She takes Chris Familton through the creation of her debut album and the changes it has brought her.

With so much work going into the writing, recording and producing of Emotions and Math, Glaspy had both high hopes and realistic expectations of how her album would be received by both critics and music fans. “When I was making the record the big success was that it would be finished and I’d get it to where I’d like it. Anything else was going to be the icing on the cake,’ she says humbly. “I take it with a grain of salt in terms of measuring success. I know I’ll probably make some records in my career that others will hate and hopefully they’ll like a few of them too. I can’t take it all too seriously but I’m certainly appreciative.”

Getting to this point, in her late 20s, has meant Glaspy has had plenty of time to develop and refine her songwriting and guitar playing since she first ventured into that world in her late teens.

“That’s evolved quite a bit and changed over time, slowly. I started to write songs when I was 16 or 17 and now I’m 28. I don’t know if that’s a success story or a failure story, but it’s my story,” she laughs. “My love for music has always been very consistent and I think my skill level has changed for sure but when I listen back to snippets of things I recorded back then, I can see what I was going for. I see what I was trying to accomplish. I’m glad I waited a bit longer until I was a more mature artist though.”

The album’s title refers to that conflict or healthy co-existence of emotional and reasoned responses and feelings that we all encounter daily. Glaspy found a way to draw that into her songwriting and it is an omnipresent part of her personality and one she has come to accept.

“It is in everything I do. There’s always some measure of discipline or logic or practice and then there’s the side that just happens. The skills you learn work alongside the natural flow and keep it on track. The reason why the record is called that is that I see it rise in my life a lot. I see both sides of that rage pretty hard all at the same time. I’m very analytical and very emotional and I think they complement each other but sometimes it’s difficult. I’ve always felt I wanted to be either a left or right brain person and label myself as one, but it’s not that simple. Everybody has their own chemistry that makes us special and unique and human.”

Glaspy already has one eye on plans for recording her next album, once this touring cycle concludes in September and it promises to be another stage of her journey as a songwriter. “I’ll never make this record again and I look forward to that and I’m happy about that. My DNA is to evolve and make new things. Our responsibility as artists is to take people someplace and not just leave them in the same place all the time. It’ll be an evolution all the time for me I hope. That’s the goal.”

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NEW MUSIC: Bad//Dreems – Feeling Remains

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Bad//Dreems have released the second single from their forthcoming new LP Gutful (out April 21st).

Feeling Remains is reliably and solidly straight from the BD songbook. It has those tension-filled verses they do so well, full of tumbling toms and rolling bass, with Alex Cameron’s guitar clipped and urgent downstrokes carving out a stacatto rhythm that contrasts with a Saints/Sex Pistols descending chord progression. It defines their status as one of the few bands in Australia that can sit comfortably at the nexus of punk, classic rock and indie rock.

When they hit the chorus, and Bad//Dreems are a band with seemingly endless cache of rousing choruses, the rush and the push lifts the song skyward. Interestingly the sense of euphoria that it instils is at odds with the song’s subject matter of mental health and the endless struggle to accept, manage and mitigate the effects of depression in one’s life. “The feeling still remains, and the question stays the same, then I put it into all the things I can do to make a heart strong, but the feeling still remains” sings Ben Marwe in his distinctive angst-ridden howl.

That blend of melancholy and euphoria at the core of the song is an astute representation of the mood swings and divisive extremes of both defiance and helplessness that so many battle on a daily basis. Dig deeper below the surface (and taken in tandem with their first single Mob Rule) of what at first may seem like a bristling 3 minute rock song and it’s clear that the band have taken a wider societal and critical view on the new album.

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NEW MUSIC: The Bug Vs Earth – Snakes Vs Rats from their new LP Concrete Desert

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Dylan Carlson (Earth) has once again teamed up with The Bug’s Kevin Martin (Techno Animal, Ice, God, Razor X, King Midas Sound), this time for a full-length LP called Concrete Desert. The album also features guest vocals from Justin Broadrick from Jesu/Godflesh etc on two tracks. Below you can hear the first taste of the album – ‘Snakes Vs Rats’.

Martin says that the album is in some ways a Los Angeles-set companion piece to London Zoo. The record’s beautiful, chiming melodies are like shards of sonic light, glowing in currents of heavy bass darkness. There are pulsing soundscapes, ambient pinks and whites, and irresistible grooves. This is music that grips you entirely, and catches you in its lava-flow – an astonishing, primal album of vast depth.

Inspired by J.G. Ballard’s urban dystopias, Concrete Desert could be understood as reflecting a “mistrust of “Hollywoodisms”, the shadow of Hollywood fantasy that looms large over life in LA, and the USA in general. “Dylan’s a master at amplifying the flavour of America,” Martin says, “but not the side we see in this Trump climate.” For Martin, the “American dream is like a nightmare under Trump” but Dylan captures the “best side of that dream, a utopian openess…I hear the writing of Cormac McCarthy in his music. His playing conjures deserts, and wide open spaces.”

Concrete Desert is out 24th March via Ninja Tune. Preorders available HERE

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NEW MUSIC: Ride Release Two New Songs

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Ride have been hard at work in the studio since they reunited for live shows back in 2014. The as yet untitled new album is due out soon and already this week they’ve released two new songs. The first, ‘Charm Assault’ finds them in full throttle glammed-up rock mode while the second, ‘Home Is A Feeling’ is authentic early Ride in its sound and a promising hint of the range of the new record.

The album, scheduled for release this summer, sees the band reunited with Wichita Recordings co-founders Mark Bowen and Dick Green, who worked with Ride during the band’s early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again.

 Mark Gardener says: “‘Home Is A Feeling’ to me is like a slow, wide-screen, sonically, layered, slowed motion warm wash. Like returning home as dawn rises totally exhausted and spangled after a long… long… big, great night out.

Andy Bell says: “Out of all the new songs ‘Home Is A Feeling’ comes closest to the early Ride sound. We felt comfortable going vintage on this tune because the album we are making has a pretty broad sonic scope. It’s a short and sweet, melodic tune, with stacked harmonies, reverbed-out guitars, slowed down drums, and a huge distorted bass sound. Erol put his sage-scented electronic wizards hat on to sample up some of our harmonies and make them into a synthesiser preset, which we ended up using on this and some of the other tunes too. We wanted this song to sound jet lagged, so everything on it was recorded with varispeed, either faster or slower than real time. It’s like 1966 Beatles meets 1988 MBV… in other words, Ride.

 

NEW MUSIC: Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You

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Spoon (Britt Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, bassist Rob Pope and Alex Fischel on keyboards and guitar) are releasing their new LP Hot Thoughts on March 17th via Matador Records/Remote Control Records. They’ve already released the first single and now they’ve posted the warped and spooky clip for the keyboard-heavy clip for ‘Can I Sit Next To You’, reminiscent to our ears of The Cure and Prince in the clipped rhythm.

Spoon – Sydney & Melbourne Headline Shows

Thursday 23rd March – Metro Theatre, Sydney

Saturday 25th March – Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne

LIVE REVIEW: My Disco @ Newtown Social Club

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My Disco, Marcus Whale, Hviske @ Newtown Social Club, 11 February 2017

Minimalism shaping grand emotion was the order of the night at NSC for My Disco’s last stop on their summer tour. From the headliners down through Marcus Whale and opening duo Hviske, there was a common thread of space, intensity and the blurring of technology and organic instrumentation to create dramatic musical pieces.

Hviske are Kusum Normoyle and Ivan Lisyak and they generated a densely rhythmic mix of techno and cold wave electronica that hit the occasional peak but for the most part settled into a rewarding mix of hard surface sounds and minor melodic excursions. Live, Normoyle’s vocals were the weak-point compared to the more layered and integrated sound on their recordings and she seemed unsettled and distracted, never fully immersing herself in the music.

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Marcus Whale

 

Marcus Whale’s solo work seems to go to another level every time I see him live. Flanked by two drummers with stripped down kits (tom, snare, ride cymbal) and performing over backing tracks Whale took us deep into his album Inland Sea, his voice urging, consoling and serenading the audience with conviction and passion. The closest comparison is Bjork’s more recent work crossed with avant hip hop and dark electronica. A compelling performance.

My Disco have progressively peeled back the layers of their sound with each new album, whilst simultaneously ratcheting up the tension and their avant garde leanings. They are still a band of guitar, bass and drums but they now sound like a raw machine, ominous and commanding with their instruments often bathed in as much silence as coruscating noise, relentless drones and repetition. King Sound set the scene with Liam Andrews intoning those two words like an android with a glitch in its system while guitarist Benjamin Andrews scattered shards of distortion across the audience at high volume. The heartbeat of the band is still Rohan Rebeiro who brings the most humanistic element to their music, he controls the machine with his blend of doom and jazz-tinged tribalism. Their intensity and commitment to their sonic aesthetic is what defines My Disco, from throwing in an overlong drum solo to the complete lack of audience interaction, they have their own musical eco-system which made their set feel like we were temporary visitors to their fascinating, hypnotic and shadowy world.

Chris Familton