White Denim – World As A Waiting Room

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So here it is, then: the first great album of the coronavirus pandemic. Back in early March, White Denim suddenly found themselves at a loose end following the cancellation of hometown festival South By Southwest and their subsequent US tour. Needing to “keep busy”, the band hit upon the idea of writing, recording, mixing and manufacturing a brand new album in just 30 days. This being Austin, there’s now a vinyl pressing plant down the road from their Radio Milk studio, making the whole caper tantalisingly feasible.

What they didn’t account for was the tightening of lockdown conditions 10 days into recording. Suddenly, the whole tenor of the album was forced to change, from a back-to-basics garage-rock record played by four guys in a room, to a remote, crowd-sourced effort. Yet these restrictions have only spurred on White Denim to make a richer, more meaningful album than they might originally have imagined. To colour in their sketches, bandleader James Petralli took the opportunity to reach out to a number of musicians from the band’s wider circle, including fellow White Denim founder Josh Block. The two former best friends had fallen out after Block quit White Denim in 2015 to play drums for Leon Bridges. But hatchets have been buried and Block’s presence on three songs encapsulates the album’s unexpected themes of unity and all-in-this-togetherness.

Thankfully, though, World As A Waiting Room wears its righteousness lightly. As much as it’s an album for the times, it’s also a reaction to the temporarily adjourned “heady prog” album the band spent the previous year recording. World As A Waiting Room is full of the gleeful clever-dumb posturing and breakneck riffage that lit up previous White Denim albums like Fits and Stiff, combined with the unburdened pop smarts of Last Day Of Summer and Petralli’s solo Constant Bop.

Barrelling opener “I Don’t Understand Rock And Roll” is a classic White Denim manoeuvre, simultaneously satirising and celebrating their chosen metier. The overdriven two-chord riff could be Thin Lizzy, the terrace stomp rhythm could be Slade. But of course White Denim add a galactic fanfare intro and a brilliant Cars-style solo, while also slyly removing a beat from the bar somewhere so it feels as if the song is constantly racing off ahead of you down the street, uncatchable.

“Matter Of Matter” and “DVD” are even faster, making the seat-of-the-pants solos doubly impressive. Not for the first time, the thick harmonies, frenetic pace and sheer impish joy of the whole affair put you in mind of Supergrass, with a flicker of more acerbic intent à la Queens Of The Stone Age. More is usually more as far as White Denim are concerned, and by inviting all their mates to pile in, each song bursts with ideas, every overdub trying to outdo the last. There are playful musical references aplenty: is that a backwards Beatles riff? Can that really be the bridge from “Everybody Hurts” inserted into the frantic rockabilly of “Eagle Wings”? Deliberate or subconscious, it all adds to the fun.

“Slow Death” – not the Flamin’ Groovies song, but they surely know it – starts with 15 seconds of screeching dentist’s drills before locking into a brisk, bass-driven psych groove splattered with laser-gun noises and a ridiculous overabundance of vocal echo. “At a standstill, won’t stop running,” wails Petralli, “My mind, a refrigerator humming.” Yet even this depiction of anxiety and insomnia is fantastically moreish.

If you start looking for them, there are plenty of lyrical clues as to the strange conditions under which these songs were created. However, in terms of specific references to the pandemic, White Denim have crammed most of them into one song, the majestic “Queen Of The Quarantine” – music by Marc Bolan, lyrics by Randy Newman (“You don’t know what you got ’til the day that it gets tested”).

As with the whole idea of making an album from scratch in 30 days, in lesser hands this kind of thing could come off as a throwaway lark. But as we know by now, White Denim are congenitally unable to produce anything slapdash or rote. World As A Waiting Room hits the spot as a peppy new-wave blowout, but it’s also testament to how people can pull together under difficult circumstances to create something joyous and inspiring. A solo acoustic livestream is one thing, but this is the lockdown pick-me-up you really need.

The 7th Uncut New Music Playlist Of 2020

It’s been far too long since we’ve done one of these, so here’s a bumper playlist of exciting new music for your delectation – a mix of returning favourites, fresh faces and intriguing diversions.

Sufjan Stevens is back with something approaching a protest song, epic and distraught. The reliably wry Bill Callahan makes a swift return, Ride’s Andy Bell flies solo, David Gilmour goes to Greece and A Certain Ratio go pop. Ambient titans William Basinski (as Sparkle Division) and Sarah Davachi trail new albums, plus there are the first transmissions in many a year from American cosmic outliers Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Sun Ra Arkestra.

Truly, something for everyone. Although, as we prefer to think, everything for anyone. Whatever else is going on in the world right now, this steady stream of inspiring new music remains a great consolation. Thanks to all the artists and labels out there – please continue to support them by buying their music.

SUFJAN STEVENS
“America”
(Asthmatic Kitty)

BILL CALLAHAN
“Another Song”
(Drag City)

AFEL BOCOUM
“Avion”
(World Circuit)

DIRTY PROJECTORS
“Self Design”
(Domino)

DENT MAY
“I Could Use A Miracle”
(Carpark)

A CERTAIN RATIO
“Always In Love”
(Mute)

LONNIE HOLLEY
“Like Hell Broke Away”
(Jagjaguwar)

DAVID GILMOUR
“Yes, I Have Ghosts”
(Columbia)

SING LEAF
“Forever Green”
(Tin Angel)

FLOCK OF DIMES
“Like So Much Desire”
(Sub Pop)

SUN RA ARKESTRA
“Seductive Fantasy”
(Strut)

MARCOS VALLE
“Viajando Por Aí”
(Jazz Is Dead)

SPARKLE DIVISION
“Oh Henry!”
(Temporary Residence)

THURSTON MOORE
“Cantaloupe”
(Daydream Library Series)

ANDY BELL
“The Commune”
(Sonic Cathedral)

EMMY THE GREAT
“Dandelions/Liminal”
(Bella Union)

BONNY LIGHT HORSEMAN
“Green Rocky Road”
(37d03d)

JAMES ELKINGTON
“Corridor Country”
(Paradise Of Bachelors)

MASON LINDAHL
“Sky Breaking, Clouds Falling”
(Tompkins Square)

BEVERLY GLENN-COPELAND
“River Dreams”
(Transgressive)

SARAH DAVACHI
“Stations II”
(Late Music)

Send us your questions for Dan Penn

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“The Dark End Of The Street”, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”, “I’m Your Puppet”, “It Tears Me Up”… just a few of the indelible classics co-written by Dan Penn.

Penn was a pivotal figure in the development of ’60s southern rock and soul as a writer, performer and producer, first at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, then at American Studios in Memphis, making hits with the likes of Spooner Oldham and Chips Moman. He also helped launch Alex Chilton’s career, co-writing and producing much of The Box Tops’ output.

Although often preferring to write for others, Penn has released several acclaimed albums under his own name, and he’s currently readying a new one – his first full studio effort in 26 years – called Living On Mercy, due for release on August 28 (you can listen to a taster from it here).

So, what do you want to ask a soul survivor and legend of the songwriting game? Send your questions to audiencewith@uncut.co.uk by Thursday July 9, and Dan will answer the best ones in a future issue of Uncut.

Ennio Morricone has died, aged 91

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Ennio Morricone, one of the most prolific and important film composers of all-time, has died aged 91. He suffered from complications after breaking his leg ten days ago, passing away overnight in a clinic in Rome.

A statement from Morricone’s lawyer Giorgio Assumma said that, “He preserved until the final moment full lucidity and great dignity… He gave a touching remembrance to his audience, whose affectionate support always enabled him to draw strength for his creativity.”

Morricone was most famous for soundtracking The Good, The Bad & The Ugly along with Sergio Leone’s other spaghetti westerns, although he wrote over 400 film and television scores in his lifetime. These included Cinema Paradiso, Days Of Heaven, The Untouchables, The Thing and Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, for which he finally won a competitive Oscar in 2016 (he received an honorary award in 2007).

During the 1960s, Morricone wrote several pop hits for Italian and European artists, and in later years collaborated with admirers such as Pet Shop Boys.

Morricone also composed numerous classical works and from 1964 to 1980 was a member of influential Italian improv collective Gruppo di Improvvisazione di Nuova Consonanza.

“I saw with great sadness that one of my musical heroes, Ennio Morricone has passed away today,” wrote New Order’s Bernard Sumner. “His music introduced me to albums and the first album I ever bought was one of his. He made beautiful emotional music and was the master of melody.”

Nitin Sawhney tweeted that “Morricone’s melodies and themes were woven into the fabric of humanity.”

Film director Edgar Wright wrote that “He could make an average movie into a must see, a good movie into art, and a great movie into legend.”

Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak> simply hailed him as “The greatest ever film composer”.

Paul Weller – On Sunset

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When Paul Weller released the nostalgic ruminations of True Meanings in 2018, it might have suggested that having reached 60, the songwriter was ready to give up the sense of adventure that had informed his work since 22 Dreams. Perhaps he was going to ditch the krautrock and electronica for more albums crammed with string arrangements? Maybe he was about to knock out a big-band covers LP of American Songbook classics?

The release of “In Another Room” this January scuppered that idea. This limited-edition EP of sound collages and sonic experiments came out on Ghost Box, the label that pioneered the concept of hauntology in music – atmospheric, often avant-garde electronic sounds that evoke buried shared cultural memories. Weller’s contribution to the genre was in keeping with the aesthetic and typically accomplished.

This experience has found its way into On Sunset, Weller’s 15th album and first for Polydor since The Style Council. The album swings back and forth between now and nostalgia, as Weller tries to reconcile the desire to look back with his constant fear of stagnation. There are several songs that could have been on Style Council albums – solid, sometimes superb, soul anthems like “Baptiste”, “Village”, “Walkin’” – all of which happen to feature contributions from Mick Talbot. But there’s also “Mirror Ball” and “Earth Beat”, both of which carry the influence of Ghost Box.

On the former, it’s the subtle sense of nostalgia that infects the glistening atmosphere, as Weller croons a paean to clubs and dancing. The song – a True Meanings holdover originally considered as a B-side but eventually upgraded to album mood-setter – starts with a gentle waft of strings that gives a whiff of last waltz at the Woking youth club before the lights go up. It then moves gradually through disco, soul and funk as it explores and celebrates the way a physical space such as a disco can maintain meaning through different eras for successive generations.

This theme is covered by two other songs: “Baptiste” is a straight-up celebration of Weller’s love of soul, while “On Sunset” is a more personal take on the same notion. It starts a little like “That’s Entertainment” with a gentle strum of acoustic guitar as Weller reflects on his own experiences with The Jam in LA, before expanding into a more complex piece of freaky soul. Further echoes of the musical past can be heard on closing track “Rockets”, which has the suppressed drama of a Bowie ballad circa Hunky Dory and a free-wheeling lyric that sees Weller attacking institutions, hidden wealth and social mobility like the man who wrote “Eton Rifles”, “Mr Clean” and “Walls Come Tumbling Down!”, albeit with a resignation born of bitter experience.

“Earth Beat”’s debt to Ghost Box is more blatant and less successful than “Mirror Ball”. The label co-founder Jim Jupp gets a co-writing credit and has described it as a reworking of “The Willows”, a track Jupp wrote and recorded in 2004 as Belbury Poly. Featuring a vocal contribution from singer Col3trane (who happens to be dating Weller’s daughter), the song starts with a refreshing rush of electronica and R&B rhythms, but never follows up on that promise, lacking the space and strangeness of the original.

Equally odd in its own way is “Equanimity”. This marital anthem geezers in like a Kinks middle eight and features a smashing violin solo from Slade’s Jim Lea. It’s an unusually quirky approach from Weller, who for all his love of The Beatles and Small Faces, isn’t naturally disposed to that sort of music-hall whimsy. Sitting somewhere in the middle is the deliciously poised “More”. This song about pointless consumption boasts a French co-vocalist – Julie Gros of Le SuperHomard – and a beautiful drifting melody. But the real highlight
is the extended outro that brings a blizzard of mellow musical flourishes, including strings, Hammond, handclaps, soul brass, guitar (from Josh McClorey of The Strypes) and jazz flute. There’s a lot going on, but the way it is all held in balance is magnificent.

Yet for all this, the most surprising song on the album isn’t “Mirror Ball”, “Equanimity” or “Earth Beat”. Instead it’s “Village”, a beautiful soul number of the type Weller writes so well and which sees him singing of his satisfaction with his lot in life. “Lot of things, I’ve never been/I’ve never seen/I don’t care much,” he muses contentedly. “I might settle for what I am.” It’s an unusual sentiment to hear from the permanently restless Weller, especially as On Sunset demonstrates that complacency remains his greatest fear and most powerful muse.

Uncut’s Deluxe Ultimate Music Guide to Paul Weller is on sale now, featuring a wealth of spiky archive features and in-depth reviews of every album, from The Jam to The Style Council – plus an exclusive new interview. Click here to buy!

Nick Cave announces livestream of solo piano performance

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Nick Cave has announced the ticketed live-streaming of a solo piano performance, filmed at Alexandra Palace’s West Hall in June.

Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone At Alexandra Palace will be streamed as live on July 23, and will not be available to watch after the event, nor can it be paused or rewound.

The performance was filmed by cinematographer Robbie Ryan (The Favourite, Marriage Story, American Honey) and edited by Nick Emerson (Lady Macbeth, Emma, Greta). According to a press release, it includes songs from across the breadth of Cave’s career, including early Bad Seeds and Grinderman, right through to Ghosteen, as well as “rare tracks that most fans will be hearing for the first time”.

There are different timings for the live stream, depending on where you are in the world:

Australia & Asia: 8pm AEST
UK & Europe: 8pm BST / 9pm CEST
North & South America: 7pm PDT / 10pm EDT

For tickets (and more details on local timings) go here.

Watch Neil Young play “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

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Neil Young has uploaded the latest of his Fireside Sessions, entitled Porch Episode (given that he films most of it outside).

His politically charged selection includes “Alabama”, “Campaigner”, “Ohio” and “Southern Man”.

Young ducks inside a teepee to play Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and also rewrites the lyrics to 2006’s “Lookin’ For A Leader” (originally written under the presidency of George W Bush) to censure Donald Trump and to hope that Joe Biden can unite America.

Young finishes with “Little Wing”, from the current UK Number 2 album Homegrown. He also asks for donations for the Navajo Water Project.

Watch the Porch Episode here, although you need to be signed up to Neil Young Archives or have the app downloaded first.

You can read Uncut’s thoughts on Neil Young’s Homegrown here.

Win a limited gold vinyl edition of Bob Dylan’s Rough And Rowdy Ways

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Last week, Rough And Rowdy Ways became Bob Dylan’s ninth album to reach No 1 in the UK (keeping Neil Young’s Homegrown off the top spot).

Now we have 5 limited-edition gold vinyl copies of the album to give away.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy, answer the below question correctly.

Which action film hero does Bob Dylan compare himself to on “I Contain Multitudes“?

Is it:


a) Han Solo
b) Indiana Jones
c) Rick Deckard

Email your answer along with your postal address to competitions@uncut.co.uk by Monday, July 6. A winner will be chosen by the Uncut team from the correct entries. The editor’s decision is final.

You can buy Rough And Rowdy Ways on CD and download here. Why not listen along while reading Richard Williams’ definitive, six-page review in the current issue of Uncut – in shops now or available online by clicking here.

Hear Roger and Brian Eno’s new track, “Manganese”

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Following their recent album Mixing Colours, Roger and Brian Eno will release a companion EP called Luminous via Deutsche Grammophon on August 14.

It features six new pieces, along with “Pewter” which was previously only issued as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of Mixing Colours. Hear one of those new pieces, “Manganese”, below:

Pre-order Luminous here. A special version of the EP on sun yellow vinyl with a different version of the cover artwork will be on sale at smaller retailers.

The seven tracks on Luminous will also be available as part of Mixing Colours Expanded, released digitally on July 17, with a deluxe 2xCD version to follow on October 23.

Sufjan Stevens announces new album, The Ascension

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Sufjan Stevens has revealed that his new album The Ascension will be released via his own Asthmatic Kitty label on September 25.

The Ascension is his eighth album and the follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Carrie & Lowell.

A video for the first single, “America”, will be released at 2pm BST on Friday. In the meantime, you can pre-order the album here and check out the tracklisting and cover art below:

1. Make Me An Offer I Cannot Refuse (5:19)
2. Run Away With Me (4:07)
3. Video Game (4:16)
4. Lamentations (3:42)
5. Tell Me You Love Me (4:22)
6. Die Happy (5:47)
7. Ativan (6:32)
8. Ursa Major (3:43)
9. Landslide (5:04)
10. Gilgamesh (3:50)
11. Death Star (4:04)
12. Goodbye To All That (3:48)
13. Sugar (7:37)
14. The Ascension (5:56)
15. America (12:30)

This Is The Kit announce new album, Off Off On

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This Is The Kit have announced that their fifth album Off Off On will be released by Rough Trade on October 23.

Watch a video for the single “This Is What You Did” below:

“It’s a bit of a panic attack song,” explains Kate Stables. “The negative voices of other people that are your own voice. Or are they? Hard to say when you’re in this kind of a place. How to get out of this place? Needing to get outside more. Cosmically topical what with these recent days of inside all the time. Knowing the things, you should do because they’re good for you and make you feel better but for some reason you still stay inside and fester in your own self-doubt and regret and self-loathing. Fun times! We all get into negative mind loops sometimes. Especially when you’re not getting the fresh air and outside time you need to stay healthy.”

Off Off On was recorded at Real World Studios with Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman and Muzz. Alongside Stables, the band includes Rozi Plain (bass/vocals), Neil Smith (guitar), Jesse D Vernon (guitar/keyboards) and Jamie Whitby-Coles (drums/vocals).

This Is The Kit will play a couple of in-store gigs to launch the album, and have also announced a proper show at London’s Royal Albert Hall for next year. Dates below:

October 22 – Banquet Records Instore (London)
October 24 – (lunchtime) – Pie & Vinyl Instore (Portsmouth)
October 24 – (evening) – Resident Music Instore (Brighton)
April 1 – Royal Albert Hall (London)

Björk to livestream three orchestral shows

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Björk has announced that she’ll play three orchestral concerts at Reykjavík’s Harpa Hall on August 9, 15 and 23.

As Iceland is now reopening its facilities and welcoming visitors, the shows will be in front of a live audience. They will also be livestreamed online, raising money for the Icelandic women’s shelter.

The three matinee concerts will all feature Björk performing acoustically with a slightly different ensemble: August 9 is with the Hamrahlíð Choir; August 15 is with strings from the Icelandic symphony orchestra; and August 23 is with brass from the Icelandic symphony orchestra, plus flute septet Viibra.

Tickets are available from July 2 here, with livestream details to follow.

Robert Fripp on Eno, Bowie and King Crimson

The latest issue of Uncut – in shops now or available to order online by clicking here – features an exclusive, in-depth interview with Robert Fripp, in which he talks with wit and candour to Michael Bonner about his new Music For Quiet Moments series, “Crimson metal”, advice from David Bowie, how to avoid provoking armed police officers, and why you should never, ever have a band meeting. Here’s an extract…

When did you begin to develop an interest in long-form, exploratory music?
Going back to 1967–1968, having just moved to 93 Brondesbury Road with Peter and Michael Giles, carrying my fuzz box with me, the guitar seemed to be a relatively limited musical palette. Multi-tracking with Peter Giles on an early Revox was about as far as I can move in the technology until about July 1972 – when I bumped into Brian Eno in the EG office at 63a King’s Road and he invited me round to his apartment. I don’t know why, but I took my guitar and pedalboard. I arrived and Eno said, “Would you like to come next door and plug in?” That was the beginning of Fripp & Eno. We recorded “The Heavenly Music Corporation” at home, in 40 minutes.

After you disbanded King Crimson in 1974, you presented yourself as a “small, independent, mobile and intelligent unit”, free to pursue experiments with Eno and others. That must have been quite appealing. Fewer people to disagree with, presumably?
Oh, that’s a wonderfully positive outlook on that one! Well, how about including members of the audience? Are they all going to agree with you? I can give you quite a few examples. Whenever you walk on stage – maximum hazard! – you can never control an audience, and thank you for that. Increasingly, with technology in the ’90s and ’00s, artists, particularly in stadia events, have sought to control the performance of event – and some of it I understand because you have anywhere between 10,000 and 80,000 people getting pissy. It can be dangerous and I speak from experience of working in Italy in ’73 and ’74.

Why? What happened?
We were in Milan, in a stadium. The Maoist contingent in the audience smashed down all the glass entrance to get into the event, because music is free and for the people. The following night, because King Crimson were not about to give an encore, the Italian crowd, very angered, pulled out all the electrical cables and the police appeared at the front of the stage with machine-guns. King Crimson return to the stage. This is the adage of what do you do in a difficult situation, you keep playing – we will do an encore, crowd happy, hooray! Police with machine-guns leave the stage, Bill Bruford counts in, “One, two, three, four, bish.” However, let us remember the power had been pulled out. So all you have in the auditorium is an acoustic Bill Bruford, playing on his own whatever the encore piece might have been. In case this seems far-fetched, this is an everyday event in the professional life of King Crimson.

On the Frippertronics tours of ’79 and ’81, did you ever miss the camaraderie of being in a band?
Which camaraderie are you discussing, please?

A band as a collective with shared aim…
So, here you are – does the group share the same aim? And if not, then how do you continue the creative process and engagement with the others? One practical example, you embrace ambiguity by never, ever having a band meeting. If your band is going to break up, it is more likely to do it when having a band meeting. Quick thing, this is it, you’ve got music, musician, audience and industry. Robert’s role as, if you like, facilitator or convener within King Crimson; Robert is the only person within King Crimson that deals with all these terms, he’s in the middle.

Working within a group can be problematic. But what about the adrenaline, the excitement and the joy you share with people?
Hang on, hang on. So here is all this joy to share, yeah? Suppose one person thinks it’s all because of them? This is their joy because it’s all about them. And suppose two people in the band at the same time think it’s all about them… you see? In another context, though, working in a group with Eno, Bowie and Visconti, something is possible. But they don’t take it on the road. You go on the road, it’s very different.

What’s the best piece of advice Bowie ever gave you?
It was on the Scary Monsters session. The sessions began around midnight and I think it was “Up The Hill Backwards”. I said to David, “Any suggestions?” David said, “Think Ritchie Blackmore.” I knew exactly what David meant. So my playing was nothing like Ritchie Blackmore, but I knew what David meant – that was a direct piece of advice. Now, here’s another one, a wonderful piece of advice in the Bowie/Eno context. Overnight flight from New York to Frankfurt – first-class – then on to Berlin. Turning up at Hansa Studios at about quarter to six in the evening, with board and guitar. I said to David and to Brian, “Is there anything you’d like to play me?” Brian’s advice was, “Plug in.” So, having heard nothing, no words, plugged in, tape ran, one, two, three, four, and that was “Joe The Lion”. I’ve worked with other people who’ve said “plug in” and rolled the tape and expected me to work on the same level with them as I’d been fortunate enough to do with Bowie and Eno – and the result is not the same. Robert is, shall we say, the same, so what is different? Brian and David and Tony Visconti bring something to the party that not everyone does.

You can read much more from Robert Fripp in the August 2020 of Uncut, out now with The Beatles on the cover. For full details of the issue contents, go here.

Bill Callahan announces new album, Gold Record

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Bill Callahan has announced that his new album Gold Record will be released by Drag City on September 4.

It’s the follow-up to Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest, which came in at Number 8 on Uncut’s Best Albums Of 2019 countdown.

Among the musicians featured on the album are guitarist Matt Kinsey and bassist Jamie Zurverza. Starting on Monday (June 29), Callahan will share a new song every week leading up to the album’s release.

Pre-order Gold Record here and peruse the tracklisting below:

01 Pigeons
02 Another Song
03 35
04 Protest Song
05 The Mackenzies
06 Let’s Move to the Country
07 Breakfast
08 Cowboy
09 Ry Cooder
10 As I Wander

New 1995 David Bowie live album coming next week

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A new David Bowie live album – Ouvrez Le Chien (Live Dallas ’95) – will be released on streaming services next Friday (July 3).

The concert was recorded at the Starplex Amphitheater, Dallas on October 13, 1995, and is previously unreleased. Hear “Teenage Wildlife” from the album below:

The album also inclides two two bonus tracks – “Moonage Daydream” and “Under Pressure” – recorded live at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on December 13, 1995. Previously available on the “Hallo Spaceboy” CD single, both tracks are making their streaming debut.

The musicians on the album are David Bowie – vocals and saxophone, Carlos Alomar – rhythm guitar, Reeves Gabrels – lead guitar and vocals, Gail Ann Dorsey – bass and vocals, Zachary Alford – drums, Peter Schwartz – keyboards and synthesisers, George Simms – vocals, Mike Garson – piano and keyboards. The cover image was taken by Iman during the ’95 tour.

Check out the tracklisting below:

Look Back In Anger (David Bowie/Brian Eno)
The Hearts Filthy Lesson (David Bowie/Brian Eno/Michael Garson/Sterling Campbell/Erdal Kizilcay/Reeves Gabrels)
The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty) (David Bowie/Brian Eno/Reeves Gabrels)
I Have Not Been To Oxford Town (David Bowie/Brian Eno)
Outside (David Bowie/Kevin Armstrong)
Andy Warhol (David Bowie)
Breaking Glass (David Bowie/George Murray/Dennis Davis)
The Man Who Sold The World (David Bowie)
We Prick You (David Bowie/Brian Eno)
I’m Deranged (David Bowie/Brian Eno)
Joe The Lion (David Bowie)
Nite Flights (Scott Engel)
Under Pressure (David Bowie/Freddie Mercury/Roger Taylor/John Deacon/Brian May)
Teenage Wildlife (David Bowie)
Moonage Daydream* (David Bowie)
Under Pressure* (David Bowie/Freddie Mercury/Roger Taylor/John Deacon/Brian May)

*recorded at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on December 13, 1995

Prince’s Sign O’ The Times reissue to feature more than 60 unreleased tracks

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The next Prince album to get the deluxe reissue treatment is 1987’s double album Sign O’ The Times, which will arrive on September 25 along with more than 60 unreleased tracks.

The Super Deluxe Edition (8xCD+DVD or 13xLP+DVD) collects all the audio material that Prince officially released in 1987, as well as 45 previously unissued studio songs recorded between May 1979 and July 1987, and a complete live audio performance captured on June 20, 1987 at Stadium Galgenwaard in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

In addition, both CD and vinyl sets also include a brand-new DVD containing the complete, previously unreleased New Year’s Eve benefit concert at Paisley Park on December 31, 1987, which featured Prince’s only on-stage collaboration with Miles Davis.

Hear one of the previously unreleased tracks, “Witness 4 The Prosecution (Version 1)”, below:

Check out the full tracklisting for the super deluxe edition of Sign O’ The Times below and pre-order this (and various other more concise formats) here.

CD1 / LP1: Remastered Album (Disc 1)

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Housequake
4 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker
5 It
6 Starfish And Coffee
7 Slow Love
8 Hot Thing
9 Forever In My Life

CD2 / LP2: Remastered Album (Disc 2)

1 U Got The Look
2 If I Was Your Girlfriend
3 Strange Relationship
4 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
5 The Cross
6 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
7 Adore

CD3 / LP3&4: Single Mixes & Edits

1 Sign O’ The Times (7” single edit)
2 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (7” single edit)
3 La, La, La, He, He, Hee (Highly Explosive) (7” single edit)
4 If I Was Your Girlfriend (7” single edit)
5 Shockadelica (“If I Was Your Girlfriend” B-side)
6 Shockadelica (12” long version)
7 U Got The Look (Long Look) (12” edit)
8 Housequake (7” edit)
9 Housequake (7 Minutes MoQuake) (12” edit)
10 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (Fade 7” edit)
11 Hot Thing (7” single edit)
12 Hot Thing (Extended Remix)
13 Hot Thing (Dub Version)

CD4 / LP5&6: Vault, Part 1

1 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man (1979 version)
2 Teacher, Teacher (1985 version)
3 All My Dreams
4 Can I Play With U? (featuring Miles Davis)
5 Wonderful Day (original version)
6 Strange Relationship (original version)
7 Visions
8 The Ballad Of Dorothy Parker (with horns)
9 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 1)
10 Power Fantastic (live in studio)
11 And That Says What?
12 Love And Sex
13 A Place In Heaven (Prince vocal)
14 Colors
15 Crystal Ball (7” mix)
16 Big Tall Wall (version 1)
17 Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A
18 In A Large Room With No Light
All tracks previously unreleased

CD5 / LP7&8: Vault, Part 2

1 Train
2 It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings
3 Eggplant (Prince vocal)
4 Everybody Want What They Don’t Got
5 Blanche
6 Soul Psychodelicide
7 The Ball
8 Adonis And Bathsheba
9 Forever In My Life (early vocal studio run-through)
10 Crucial (alternate lyrics)
11 The Cocoa Boys
12 When The Dawn Of The Morning Comes
13 Witness 4 The Prosecution (version 2)
14 It Be’s Like That Sometimes
All tracks previously unreleased

CD6 / LP9&10: Vault, Part 3
1 Emotional Pump
2 Rebirth Of The Flesh (with original outro)
3 Cosmic Day
4 Walkin’ In Glory
5 Wally
6 I Need A Man
7 Promise To Be True
8 Jealous Girl (version 2)
9 There’s Something I Like About Being Your Fool
10 Big Tall Wall (version 2)
11 A Place In Heaven (Lisa vocal)
12 Wonderful Day (12” mix)
13 Strange Relationship (1987 Shep Pettibone Club Mix)
All tracks previously unreleased

CD7&8 / LP11-13: Live In Utrecht – June 20, 1987

1 Intro/Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Housequake
5 Girls & Boys
6 Slow Love
7 Take The “A” Train/Pacemaker/I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
8 Hot Thing
9 Four
10 If I Was Your Girlfriend
11 Let’s Go Crazy
12 When Doves Cry
13 Purple Rain
14 1999
15 Forever In My Life
16 Kiss
17 The Cross
18 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night
All tracks previously unreleased

DVD: Live At Paisley Park – December 31, 1987

1 Sign O’ The Times
2 Play In The Sunshine
3 Little Red Corvette
4 Erotic City
5 Housequake
6 Slow Love
7 Do Me, Baby
8 Adore
9 I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
10 What’s Your Name Jam
11 Let’s Pretend We’re Married
12 Delirious
13 Jack U Off
14 Drum Solo
15 Twelve
16 Hot Thing
17 If I Was Your Girlfriend
18 Let’s Go Crazy
19 When Doves Cry
20 Purple Rain
21 1999
22 U Got The Look
23 It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night Medley (featuring Miles Davis)
All tracks previously unreleased

* NB video content is exclusive to the physical DVD and will not appear on digital download or streaming versions of the Super Deluxe Edition set

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy

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Starting as they mean to go on, presenting decisive moments in a deceptively casual way, we join the second Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever album on January 2. The Christmas celebrations are over, but the new year has yet to get going. There’s optimism about the future, though tempered with thoughts about what might be left behind. It’s nostalgic but hopeful, a unique time, one foot in the old, the other in the new, which they articulate precisely as “the time fold in between/The two years”.

It shouldn’t stretch the imagination too far to suggest that the start of the year might be analogous to where Rolling Blackouts find themselves as they release their second album – reassured by the successes of their debut album, possibly uncertain about what’s ahead. The achievement of Sideways To New Italy, however, is to maintain their customary tempo while deepening the experience, giving their melodic indie rock a subtle sophistication and confidence.

Anyone who saw RBCF on their 2019 tour will probably have noted that they don’t paint themselves into an indie-rock corner. While we may have been drawn in by one element – say Fran Keaney’s disarming, impressionistic songs – we were then pulled in a different direction by the unshowy virtuosity of the band’s twin lead guitarists Joe White and Tom Russo. You went expecting Grant McLennan; you were delighted to also get Tom Verlaine.

Here, that interesting transition space between musical worlds is developed. As with, say, Real Estate, who find a way to find the mesmerising element in jangling indie, RBCF find room to make unshowy excursions into motorik, or post-punk (“Beautiful Steven”), or surging Smithsy folk (“Cars In Space”). A sense of progression being one of their best qualities, Sideways… pushes things forward by having these instrumentalists deliver their first classic songs.

Joe White’s “She’s There” is about a love affair that has suddenly cooled in temperature, leaving the narrator first besotted, then haunted; the genius of the piece being to turn his mounting unease into a singalong. As they pull the song’s tempo up short, we learn the reason why: “I open the letter,” White sings, adopting a worried tone, the penny dropping on his situation. “But the writing’s wrong.”

“Falling Thunder”, by Tom Russo, is for much of its four-minute lifespan a dreamy but purposeful indie-rock song. After it makes its return journey to the chorus via a jangling Byrdsian guitar solo, it then launches into an entirely different vocal melody altogether, as the song moves from sunset into night: “Red light is fading/Caught in the moonrise…” It’s a fantastic moment on a record not short of them. Opening a song up in its final minute – as the band do on “Cameo” later on – might be the album’s signature, signposting change, and also proving the band have so many melodies at their disposal they can spend on an outro section what some bands might have stretched to finance an entire song.

Elsewhere, the band’s deepening assurance marks them out as increasingly deft painters of scene, their three songwriters all setting up their worlds with laconic mention of place and time: sun in the eyes, summer rain, winter light. It’s all quietly dignifying to fleeting moments, harnessing the power in the ephemeral. “You’re freezing/In election season,” Fran Keaney notes of an encounter at a social event, in another of his fine contributions to the latter half of the record, “Sunglasses At The Wedding”. Vignettes a speciality, it’s all show not tell, as the band unlock the stories in the commonplace. His best song here, however, is “Cameo”, where he recounts a Wedding Present-style house party encounter with an old flame, and the wish to be more than “a cameo in your home video”.

A song of mounting drama, it keeps itself grounded with reference to the prosaic – the narrator is watching someone return from the toilet; he’s socially awkward to the point of his eyes sweating – before getting to the moment of decision. Can he make this moment count? Is this the first day of the rest of their lives? At this moment, the music takes off.

It’s romantic, it’s exhilarating, and seems to be the Rolling Blackouts’ talent in a nutshell, to dignify momentary, young-life experience with the power it deserves, mirroring their own rapid journey from good to great. It finds a meaning in the rush of information and the loaded potential – the beauty of the ride.

Rush – Permanent Waves

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You can certainly see the appeal of Rush for a certain teenage rocker of the ’70s and ’80s. Here was a band who seemed to take all the hallmarks of prog rock – the technical proficiency, the slightly manic intensity, the fiddly time signatures, the switches in tempo, the bombastic fanfares, the poetic-sounding lyrics – and distil them into an easily digestible heavy metal format.

This process of distillation was helped by the fact that there were only three members. Neil Peart played like Gene Krupa in a metal band, thumping furiously around every square inch of his enormous kit but never forgetting his overriding duty to groove. Alex Lifeson switched between fiddly lead guitar lines and thrashy rhythm playing, and Geddy Lee played muscular basslines while singing in a faintly hysterical full-throated tenor yelp – Jon Anderson’s elfin tones taken into satanic territory. Even with Lee overdubbing the odd keyboard part, things were kept as stripped back and brutalist as prog metal can get. “I don’t know about numerology or anything mystical,” said Neil Peart, “but there’s something good about three people.”

Plenty of teenage metal fans – including the likes of Dave Grohl, Beck and Stephen Malkmus – thought they’d discovered the Holy Grail when they came across Rush’s 1976 LP 2112, a concept album based on the sci-fi novella Anthem by the bonkers right-wing libertarian Ayn Rand. But this 1980 release has held up much, much better, partly because you can hear them tentatively making links between prog and punk. Lead track “The Spirit Of Radio” – their only real UK hit – successfully squeezes Rush’s oeuvre into a five-minute piece of compressed power pop, with chiming guitars, a funky undertow and even a reggae diversion. It’s not a million miles away from what The Police were doing at the time, and you can even hear Lifeson playing the kind of hands-free sustained guitar arpeggios that we associate with Andy Summers or The Edge.

“Freewill” is another tight, punky track that grooves far more effectively than any song in the arcane time signature of 13/4 has any right to do. “You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice,” Peart’s lyric mockingly suggests. “You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill/I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose free will.” It initially suggests the influence of Rand’s rational libertarianism but seems to be more of a defiant hymn to muscular secularism – more Christopher Hitchens than Ayn Rand.

Permanent Waves also sees Rush stepping outside their comfort zone with two mid-tempo ballads. “Entre Nous” is reminiscent of the kind of crossover track that Genesis were writing on Duke or Abacab around this time, with Lee seeming to sand down the more abrasive edges of his voice to reveal a much more expressive vocalist. Peart’s lyric is presented as an intellectual love song – exploring the conflict between affection and individualism (“We are planets to each other, drifting in our orbits”) and serves as a companion piece to “Different Strings”, a similar ballad exploring the difficulties of love and friendship, but this one with lyrics written by Lee. Weirdly, the latter fades out around the 3:50 mark, just at the point where Rush would usually launch into the third part of a symphonic epic.

Some of these proggier elements still survive. “Jacob’s Ladder” is a chugging piece of metal with sword-and-sorcery lyrics and some baffling jolts in metre, while “Natural Science” is another episodic piece, packed with enough ideas for an entire career. However, for a band who share many characteristics of prog, Rush’s music rarely recalls the bluesy improvisatory feel of the Pink Floyds and Led Zeps with whom they’re sometimes compared, something evident on the live section of this package. These 16 tracks from their 1980 tour are quite distinct from any of Rush’s dozen or so other live albums. Having made the leap from the student union circuit to five nights at the Hammersmith Odeon, they respond by playing with an uncharacteristic rawness.

Even when Rush are being complex, there’s a spartan intensity that seems to prefigure the NWOBHM bands that they would inspire. Two fast and furious live versions of tracks from 1975’s Fly By Night – “Beneath, Between & Behind” at the Manchester Apollo and a surprisingly concise version of “By-Tor And The Snowdog” at the Hammersmith Odeon – are both transformed into galloping NWOBHM howlers, with Lee’s shrieking voice sounding like Bruce Dickinson. Premonitions of Iron Maiden are also evident on the proggier tracks like “Cygnus X1 Book II” (from 1978’s Hemispheres) or “A Passage To Bangkok” (from 2112), while even the twinkly “Closer To The Heart” takes on a rather punky abandon. Never mind heavy metal – this is garage prog.

Extras: 8/10. Various editions may include previously unreleased live tracks, notepad, tour programmes, book, laminates and a poster.

Exclusive! Hear a new track from Bent Arcana, featuring Oh Sees’ John Dwyer

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Bent Arcana are a new improv collective convened by John Dwyer and featuring members of Oh Sees, TV On The Radio and Sunwatchers, among others.

Their self-titled debut album is out on August 21 on Castle Face Records, and you can hear a brand new track from it – “Misanthrope Gets Lunch” – below:

Writes Dwyer: “This is the first interstellar transmission from five days of electrified & improvised sessions recorded at Stu-Stu-Studio, edited down to 40 minutes for your earballs. Bent Arcana is the inceptive chapter in what I hope to be several releases showcasing these types of off-the-cuff musical compositions. So you can try your fry on and turn off. This one is very much on the ECM / 70s hard fusion / prog-kraut tip. It is a many pronged weapon, swung by the spontaneous sentinel.”

Read John Dwyer’s introduction to the band below:

Ryan Sawyer: drums, percussion, and voice (Charles Gayle, Marshall Allen, Mary Halvorson, Susan Alcorn, Nate Wooley, Mat Maneri, Thurston Moore, Zeena Parkins, Mette Rasmussen, Boredoms, Daniel Carter)
“Just an unbelievable player. I wish we lived in the same city.”

Peter Kerlin: electric and double bass (Sunwatchers, Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band)
“The second I saw him play bass, I knew I wanted to write with him, and that was probably 30 years ago in my home town. Fucking finally. What a pleasure.”

Kyp Malone: modular synthesizer (Rain Machine, Ice Balloons, TV On The Radio)
“What can I say about Kyp? Other than that he is a master improviser and he really brought something very special to the table for these sessions. Melodious and haunting. Love it.”

Brad Caulkins: tenor saxophone, Selmer electric saxophone (Earth Girl Helen Brown, Oh Sees)
“Fantastic saxophonist. A real bush wacker in terms of laying out a melodious and percussive path to follow through hairy searches during sessions. The man is an idea farm.”

Tom Dolas: keys (Mr Elevator, Oh Sees)
“One of my favorite people on earth to wing it with. He has God’s ears and Satan’s fingers. And he’s a good bloke to boot.”

Marcos Rodriguez: guitar (Prettiest Eyes, Henry Cole, Fernando Garcia, Matt Jenson, Hellman Escorcia)
“Dominator jazz guitarist / punk bassist and general roustabout. This was the first time I’ve heard Marcos play guitar and it made the hair on my neck stand up, which means I’m alive now.”

Laena “Geronimo” Myers-Ionita: violin (Feels, Shannon Lay, Michael Pisario)
“I’ve been haunting Laena about doing a project together for a couple years not and I couldn’t be more pleased with her addition to the ensemble. Her violin style has a sort of relaxed quality to it that reminds me on Mickael Karoli’s playing in Can, Ornette Coleman’s violin or even a little bit of Jerry Goodman, so what could be better than that?”

Joce Soubiran: tenor saxophone
“I feel like when Joce plays, his heart is hanging out the end of his horn, bleeding all over the studio floor.
He is a fantastically emotional player and jettisons all other distraction when in action. Overwhelming and setiment and range.”

Andres Renteria: percussion (Adam Rudolph’s Go:Organic Orchestra, Jose Gonzalez, Flying Lotus, Mia Doi Todd, Anna Ternheim, Nick Waterhouse )
“Fantastic hand drummer and man with amazing posture. He came in and danced around the drums without stepping on a single toe and brought more color to the bouquet.”

“And me, John Dwyer. We’ve met before so maybe you have an idea of what you are in for?”

HC McEntire announces new album, Eno Axis

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HC McEntire has announced that her new album, Eno Axis, will be released by Merge on August 21.

Watch a video for lead single, “Time, On Fire”, below:

McEntire describes “Time, On Fire” as “the catalyst to reopen my heart and mind. Its spirit also symbolizes the true foundation of Eno Axis; writing this song gave me direction to document the climb forward into new love.”

Eno Axis will be released on CD, LP, and copper marble vinyl – pre-order here.