NEW MUSIC: John Lebanon – I Fail They Die

John Lebanon are a band  based in Providence, RI who recently released this new single ‘I Fail They Die‘. Founded by Roy S, MD, the project originally began as a way for the songwriter to cope with the physically and mentally exhausting work of a medical resident at Brown University.

Sonically their sound takes in spoken work, sparkling, burbling retro synths and melancholic guitar lines that track and trail through the landscape with beguiling curiosity and resonance.

“I work as a physician and needed a way to cope with all the stress going on…hence the track : If I fail they die. The track is meant to help me get ready for work. Be mindful and diligent yet relaxed and steady. It is also a message to all how we are connected more than ever need a healthy planet. Individual actions do matter.” – Roy

NEW MUSIC: Albin – Mellandagar

Albin is the moniker of Albin Johansson, a musician, composer, and producer based in Malmö, Sweden. Primarily using analog synthesizers and drum machines, he’s released material on a number of labels over the last seven years and performed in cities such as Malmö, Berlin, Vienna, and New York.

‘Mellandagar’ comes from his new EP Passage, and it cuts a wonderfully minimalistic swathe through the history of electronic music, from Kraftwerk through to the early 80s experimentalists in the UK who were adding pop aesthetics to the synthetic framework of the music. Bleeps, pulses, weightless drum machines and a playful sense of melody are the key elements of Albin’s track.

Check out the full EP over at Spotify and Apple Music.

NEW MUSIC: Drens – All My Friends Got Time

Super catchy summer vibes on this recently released track from Drens, who hail from Dortmund, Germany – apparently Europe’s capital of moustache style!

‘All My Friends Got Time’ is a bouncy, slacker surf track which comes from their new Pet Peeves EP. I can hear bands like Girls and Black Lips in their sound and they pull it off well, never forgetting the simple joy of hooks and killer melodies. A mad gaming-themed video clip too. Surf’s up!

NEW MUSIC: Danny Barwick – Mine Too

Danny Barwick is a Perth-based producer and singer who wrote ‘Mine Too‘ and the other songs on his recently released EP Naddi on a two month backpacking trip around India. He began his career in 2012 as a drummer, recording and touring in several bands before taking up production.

Inspired by the likes of James Blake, Nick Cave, and Thom Yorke, Danny’s music merges acoustic instrumentation with experimental electronic production and that’s the most appealing thing about this track, the way he weaves together the organic and the synthetic elements, topping it off with a wonderfully smoky, late-night vocal that recalls King Krule.

SPECIAL SOUNDS FOR STRANGE TIMES

Over the last few months, one of the things many people have been turning to during periods of isolation during the pandemic is music. Music for distraction, companionship, solace and joy. Whatever the reason, putting on a favourite album or discovering something new that pulls you in and hits the spot, intellectually or emotionally, can be a great and wonderful experience. In this series we check in with musicians, journalists and broadcasters to see what has inspired repeat listening and provided some special sounds for these strange times.

First up is Darren Cross, he of Gerling and Jep and Dep fame who has most recently been releasing solo material as D.C Cross. Under that moniker he’s created two excellent albums (Ecstatic Racquet (2019), Terabithian (2020)) that blend American Primitive guitar stylings with arcane English folk picking and immersive washes of new age-inspired drone and ambience.

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate (1971)

When it’s cold near/in winter time, I love to listen to depressing music. I don’t know, it’s just the way it is. One year, in the coldest house I have ever lived, Jack Elias’ Chopping Board was the winter breakfast album in our Alaskan house kitchen. A local songsmith, influenced by Cohen but even bleaker than Cohen, the half Lebanese guy Elias really hits you were it hurts.

Songs of Love and Hate has been flipped on the record player many a time during this Covid time. Its weird, I watched the Cohen documentary Bird On Wire for the first time recently. It’s about a 20 date tour that ended up in Israel in the 70’s where Cohen and his band are tripping balls on LSD and he is crying during his performance of S’o Long Marianne’ – mind blowing!

The guitar on Songs of Love and Hate is astounding – highlighting what Cohen calls “his chops” – his distinct picking style. This album is tender and angry and evil all at once… and the sentiment is perfect for a heartless winter.

Trumans Water – 10X My Age EP (1993)

When I was a wee lad in the 90’s, Trumans Water really blew my mind. Hailing from San Diego around the time Pavement appeared, (before Pavement ended up sounding like the the Verve) Trumans Water were deconstructionist – dismantling pop-grunge-math-rock that sounded like Captain Beefheart playing the angriest parts of Sonic Youth but 10x angrier, while collapsing down an eternal staircase to infinity.

I bought this 10 inch as I just had to hear these songs on vinyl. I mean one song is just a lo-fi recording of the drummer trying to learn the drum beat (bit annoying) but tracks like ‘Empty Queen II’ and ‘Enflamed’ still impress the hell out of me.

I recently found a rad doco about the San Diego punk scene called It’s Gonna Blow!!! – San Diego’s Music Underground 1986-1996 – which was unfindable online until recent times. I am pretty sure the title of the film comes from the Trumans Water anthem ‘Aroma Of Gina Arnold’ which is another of my favourite Trumans songs. Hunt this down. Such a great band. The artwork of the albums was really inspirational as well, long before collage and dadaism became a hipster staple.

Liquid Mind – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994)

Being a restaurant DJ and working on Saturday mornings as a thrift store sorter (go through the garbage, mould, urns of dead people, to find things to sell to rich people in rich areas) was playing havoc on my sleeping patterns. DJ’ing until 3am (playing ‘Thriller’ to 20 year olds on MDMA) then getting up to work and sort through the junk was really whacking me out (so I quit the sorting job). Not being able to sleep led me to those YouTube ambient music sets of three hours of buzzing electronic drone sounds that hypnotise you into sleepy slumberland submission. Luckily for me I really love those sounds and dug a bit deeper and found Chuck Wild, the godfather of 90’s ambient music.

Chuck Wild’s Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus (1994) is probably my favourite and it seemed really fitting, during these Covid times, to reach for this CD and sail away on cloud Chuck.

Chuck Wild went from doing the music composition on that crazy, ground-breaking 80’s, MTV-loving TV show Max Headroom, to a nervous breakdown where he stunningly chose meditation over medication and help invent 90’s ambient music.

The first track, ‘Zero Degrees Zero’ goes for over 28 minutes and like the most of this album, creates understated wooshes of pure 90’s ecstasy drone candy. This album has made me fell less anxious in this really weird and eerie time of self-isolation.

Coffee. Sleep. Sitting on the couch. More sleep. Trying to forget I can’t travel overseas to see my friends in Europe. Play guitar. Beer. Forgetting Covid – Liquid Mind I : Ambience Minimus – Suits my many moods. Repeat. Repeat.

NEWS: IDLES announce new LP Ultra Mono

IDLES are back with a new album called Ultra Mono that will be released on September 25th, 2020.

Accompanying today’s announcement, the band have shared album highlight and thunderous call-to-action Grounds’ alongside a music video (dir. by Rob French). 

Recorded in Paris and produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), with Kenny Beats (FKA Twigs, DaBaby, Vince Staples) providing additional programming, Ultra Mono was sonically constructed to capture the feeling of a hip-hop record. Across all twelve brutally relevant tracks, the band double down on the vitriolic sneer and blunt social commentary of their past work, with themes of active presence, inclusivity, class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity remaining ever-present. Ultra Mono also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum.

Ultra Mono tracklisting:
1. War
2. Grounds
3. Mr. Motivator
4. Anxiety
5. Kill Them With Kindness
6. Model Village
7. Ne Touche Pas Moi (feat. Jehnny Beth)
8. Carcinogenic 
9. Reigns 
10. The Lover
11. A Hymn
12. Danke

Frontman Joe Talbot says of ‘Grounds’: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jack hammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”

NEW MUSIC: Kidsmoke – The Bluest You

North Wales’ Kidsmoke released their single ‘The Bluest You’ back in April and it’s a wonderfully bright and sparkling slice of indie guitar pop that billows and cascades on the back of a pliable rhythm section and guitars that aren’t afraid to hit the effect pedals and soar above the clouds.

This song is a live favourite of ours. It is a fly on the wall look into a household where one person’s depression is affecting everyone else who lives there. The song doesn’t address the feelings of the person suffering with depression, it is a sort of commentary from the viewpoint of the rest of the family.”

The band have released EPs and a string of singles over the last few years, in the process gaining great recognition from the likes of BBC 6 Music and NPR, was well as an invitation to play at the Robert Smith (The Cure) curated Meltdown Festival. Kidsmoke also have a new single out called ‘Layla’s Love‘ which reminds us of the pure, pristine melodies of Prefab Sprout and The Boo Radleys.

Both singles appear on Kidsmoke’s debut album A Vision In The Dark which will be released on 19th June via Libertino Records.

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Still

New Zealand composer Rhian Sheehan has recently released a new album, Recollections, Vol. 1, which features a number of new tracks, and a number of tracks performed as part of his 2018 A Quiet Divide Album Release Tour.

Still‘ is a beautifully percussive and textured track that peppers an undulating piano line with clickety-clack rhythms that conjures everything from a ticking clock to a typewriter, or even metronomic footsteps. There’s a gentle lulling quality to the track for the first few minutes before tension is added using the same shapes but with greater push and a deeper synthetic swell.

Elsewhere on the album there are deeper electronic synth excursions, ambient and drone compositions and grand post-rock soundscapes.

Recollections, Vol. 1 is out now on Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa.