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.

Exclusive! Hear a track from Dan Penn’s first studio album in 26 years

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Legendary songwriter Dan Penn has announced that Living On Mercy – his first studio album in 26 years – will be released by Last Music Co on August 28 (with vinyl to follow on October 23).

You can hear an exclusive track from it, “Soul Connection”, below:

Penn wrote the songs on Living On Mercy in collaboration with the likes of Wayne Carson, Spooner Oldham, Gary Nicholson, Carson Whitsett, Will McFarlane, Bucky Lindsey, Buzz Cason and the Cate Brothers. “When I’m writing songs with someone, I need to know ’em,” Penn says. “And I need to like ’em and trust ’em. I like to find me a good musician to write with, someone who can offer things I don’t really know how to do. Because what I basically do is beat the heck out of a guitar. But it all seems to work.”

Recording took place in Muscle Shoals and Nashville with a band including Milton Sledge (drums), Michael Rhodes (bass), Will McFarlane (guitar) and Clayton Ivey (keyboards), along with a full horn section.

Queen to appear on postage stamps

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Cementing their status as British rock royalty, Queen are to be honoured with a series of postage stamps from July 9.

They are only the third band feature on a UK stamp, following The Beatles in 2007 and Pink Floyd in 2016. Freddie Mercury featured on a stamp by himself in 1999.

Brian May said: “Sometimes it’s strange to wake up and realise the position in which we are now held – we have become a national institution! And nothing brings this home more than this incredible tribute from Royal Mail.”

You can view all the 13 different Queen stamps and pre-order various presentation packs here.

Bright Eyes unveil new album, Down In the Weeds, Where The World Once Was

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Bright Eyes have confirmed that their long-awaited new album, Down In the Weeds, Where The World Once Was, will be released by Dead Oceans on August 21.

Watch a video for new single “Mariana Trench” below:

Down In the Weeds, Where The World Once Was was recorded in Omaha’s ARC Studios, Los Angeles’s Electro-Vox and LA’s Capitol Studios, with a rhythm section of Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Jon Theodore (Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age).

Check out the artwork below and pre-order the album – including limited-edition coloured vinyl bundles – here.

Penetration’s Pauline Murray announces new solo album, Elemental

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Pauline Murray of Penetration and Invisible Girls has announced that her third solo album Elemental will be released on September 25.

The album was produced by Robert Blamire. It features Penetration’s Paul Harvey, Steve Wallace and Ken Goodinson, augmented by the keyboards of Steve Hopkins from the Invisible Girls and Roxy Music’s Paul Thompson on drums.

Watch a video for lead single “Secrets” below:

“Secrets” was originally written and recorded on a 4-track Teac tape machine in the late 1980s. “It was mixed to a cassette and left in a box for years,” explains Murray. “When we were recording the new album, we remembered this track, found the cassette but couldn’t find the original master tape. All the parts were there, and it sounded really good, but the recording was unusable. We decided to re-record it and tried to replicate the original arrangements, keyboard parts and sounds whilst maintaining the original atmosphere. It’s amazing that something hidden away for so long can assert itself fully into the here and now. Like a secret being revealed.

“Lyrically, it’s about the pressure to conform to social perceptions and expectations,” she continues. “Having to rely on body language and energy exchange to see what’s really going on.”

You can pre-order Elemental on various formats – including signed orange vinyl – here.

Watch Roger Waters’ latest isolation performance

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Following their recent lockdown performance of “Mother”, Roger Waters and his band have tackled another song from the encore of his Us + Them tour.

“Two Suns In The Sunset” features Roger Waters on guitar and vocal, Dave Kilminster on guitar, Joey Waronker on drums, Lucius (Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig) on vocals, Gus Seyffert on bass, Jonathan Wilson on guitar, Jon Carin on piano and keys, Bo Koster on Hammond and Ian Ritchie on saxophone. Watch below:

In an accompanying message on his website, Waters writes: “That we allow nuclear weapons to exist in a world controlled by deranged sociopaths is, in itself, a deranged arrangement. We are many they are few. We could just say no, to the whole MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) insanity. It makes zero sense and is potentially omnicidal.”

You can now stream the Us + Them concert film (or pre-order the physical version) here.

Bruce Hornsby: “I’ve never been the vehicle for your stroll down memory lane”

Originally published in Uncut’s November 2019 issue

Sitting in his hotel room in Denver, Bruce Hornsby is wryly pondering his current predicament. His latest album, Absolute Zero, has re-established him as a creative force – inspired by Don DeLillo and Steve Reich, it artfully combines the resonant, piano-led heartland rock of his 1980s heyday with spry neoclassical arrangements, jazz-funk and avant-garde flourishes, sometimes ending up not a million miles from the rousing, deconstructed anthems of his famous disciple Justin Vernon (who also guests on two tracks). Yet Hornsby is still being booked to play the kind of civic festivals where vintage rockers are expected to boost the profits of local breweries by smiling politely and playing the hits.

“Who knows what they’re gonna think when I start singing about cryogenics or IRS tax examiners as American heroes?” he laughs, of his upcoming engagement at the Dillon Amphitheatre. “But lucky for us, the uninitiated seem to be following along nicely.”

It should be a clue that Hornsby has long since swapped The Range for a backing band called The Noisemakers. But how does he feel when the crowd just want to hear “The Way It Is” and “Mandolin Rain”? “It’s definitely a challenge, but we’re not shying from it,” he says. “Nasty letters abound in my world, ever since my second record. I’ve never been the vehicle for your stroll down memory lane. Let’s face it, most people who go to see bands are there for that nostalgic night out. I get it. But it’s a creative prison for me, so I refuse to be shackled by it.” And then he laughs again, keen that we don’t confuse him for a tortured artist. By continuing to evolve, Bruce Hornsby is having the time of his life. Some things will never change? Don’t you believe them.

_________________

What’s your daily routine while on tour?
Nathan, Rochester, MN
It’s fairly quotidian, I would say. I get up and take a walk, to get the body moving. I try to walk in spaces where I can also warm up my voice. I’m an inveterate New York Times newspaper reader, so they always try to find me one on the road. I’m a crossword fanatic, so I want to do the crossword – in pen! Then I’ll spend some time catching up on emails, texts, sexts… No, I’m kidding, I don’t get those. After soundcheck, I have a little keyboard in my room and I’ll practise some of the more demanding material that I regularly inflict on my poor, unsuspecting audience. My music for several years now has included a good bit of that modern, chromatic dissonance, so I have to work to keep those pieces really under my fingertips.

What does the Absolute Zero of your new album title refer to?
Pat Cornish, via email
It’s a cryogenic or cryonic fantasy. There’s this whole consciousness that exists now where people are interested in freezing their bodies in a cryogenic chamber and hoping to be awakened 100 years from now and recharged! They want to become semi-immortal, I guess. So I found it to be an interesting idea. I read the great Don DeLillo’s book Zero K and that helped inform the song “Absolute Zero”.

What was it like to be championed by a “cool” younger musician such
as Justin Vernon?
Freddie Haynes, Bristol
It’s always really fulfilling when your creative output is recognised by a completely different age group. Justin started shouting me out around the early years of this decade as having been someone who was important to him growing up. I was getting these Google alerts about this young man and his band, Bon Iver. So it made me curious, I started investigating and I loved what I was hearing: “Holocene”, “Perth”, those records. Then he reached out to me and asked me to work with him on a Grateful Dead tribute record, and it’s gone from there. He’s an amazing talent, he’s incredibly gifted. I haven’t really been influenced by his music – for instance, I’ve not started to sing in falsetto! – but his attention and support has been a great boost and an inspiration. Whenever I work with him, the sparks seem to fly.

Why do you think you’ve managed to strike up such a lasting working relationship with Spike Lee? Does he ever discuss his film ideas with you?
Karl Redding, via email
It’s a very simple answer: he just likes what I do. We’ve been working together for 27 years now, after being introduced by our great mutual friend Branford Marsalis. It started with Spike every few years asking me to contribute to a song for a film. In 2008 he asked me to start scoring for him, so I’ve been doing that too for the past 11 years. I don’t think anything I write musically informs the content of his films. He’s very prolific and generally pretty sure of what he wants to do. If something I’ve written has influenced him, he’s never told me, so I assume that has not happened!

Literature figures prominently in your music. Have you considered trying your hand at fiction?
Jennifer Warden, via email
Ah, life’s too short! It’s difficult and challenging enough to do something of worth in music. And I would be completely intimidated. After the concert, in the bus, I’m usually reading a book – right now I’m reading the book of a great friend who I met through Spike, called James McBride. He’s an incredible writer and I’m finally reading his memoir, The Color Of Water. I don’t have any illusions about my own ability as a fiction writer, I’ll just continue to be informed by it in my songwriting and that’ll be enough for me.

What was it like to have
such a big hit with your first record? Did the experience put you off wanting to be a pop star?
John Cameron, Dundee
I was pretty bad at being a pop star. It was so often an inane, idiotic situation; I’d find myself in Cleveland, Ohio, sitting at tables autographing things, with New Kids On The Block on one side of me and Tiffany on the other. I was 31 years old and I’d look around and say, “What’s wrong with this picture? It’s me!” We made some of the worst videos ever made in the MTV era… We didn’t take it very seriously, they were just an excuse to get our friends on TV. But it was fantastic in another sense because it got the word out about what I was doing. “The Way It Is” was probably one of the least commercial songs on the album – I was improvising on Top 40 radio, on a song about racism. It got a lot of attention from amazing musicians, who started reaching out to me. I wrote with Don Henley, I played on a great Bonnie Raitt record, I played on a Bob Dylan record, Robbie Robertson… I know I’m name-dropping like crazy here, but it just shows the force with which this song hit. So there was the good and the bad: my failings as a pop star but then the subsequent attention that I got from idols of mine. And that part of it has been very fulfilling, of course.

Can you please explain your relationship with Jerry Garcia and what it was like to be part of the Grateful Dead?
Kathy Thoma, via email
I miss him so much. Jerry Garcia is one of my favourite people I’ve ever known. He was a walking encyclopedia of American traditional music and I was very interested in all that, so we connected deeply. I think so many of the songs he wrote with Robert Hunter, they sound like they could have been written 100 years ago, they have that deep gravitas that old folk music has. I can’t say enough about him, I miss him so much. Playing with the Grateful Dead, there were many nights when the hair would stand up on my arm because what they were doing was so moving to me. And where else can you play one song for an hour but in the Grateful Dead?

What was it like to work with Bob Dylan?
Roland Kay, via email
Well, that was very memorable. I got a call from David Weiss of Was Not Was, who were co-producing Bob Dylan’s record Under The Red Sky. I was part of this “all-star” band that they put together, with Kenny Aronoff on drums, Randy Jackson – of future American Idol fame – on bass, Robben Ford on guitar, and I was playing piano. Bob came into the room, he was wearing a big hoodie with a baseball cap underneath. He introduced himself to us, then he went over to a table and started emptying his pockets, every pocket, and revealing all these napkins and pieces of hotel notepaper filled with jottings. Then he came over to the piano and proceeded to teach me this great song called “Born In Time”. That was a surreal moment for me, remembering how important his music was to me as a kid. So we recorded that, then we took a little break and came back and started up this little one-chord jam. All of a sudden Bob walks in, goes over to the table, sifts through the napkins, picks one up and goes over to the mic and starts singing. And that became a song on the record called “TV Talkin’ Song”. Talk about spontaneity!

Nicole Atkins – Italian Ice

To describe Nicole Atkins as a woman out of time is in no way a criticism. She’s always spoken with love and admiration for classic soul, pop and rock, while her own music draws especially from the ’50s and ’60s. Indeed, covering songs by the likes of Harold Arlen and Marie Queenie Lyons points to a commitment that’s deeply felt, not driven by trends. But although her natural habitat is the past, it’s in a state of constant development, more a vehicle for her own ideas than a hallowed site of worship.

The New Jersey singer-songwriter and guitarist, who now lives in Nashville, bedded into the evergreen greats early. She was introduced to the likes of The Drifters and Eddie Cochran via her mother’s Cruisin’ Classics album, and as a young teenager was turned on to Traffic when an uncle convinced her to buy John Barleycorn Must Die instead of a New Kids On The Block tape. She taught herself guitar at 13. Much later, there was a move to Charlotte, where she dug into the local indie-rock scene, and then a spell as an open-mic regular at NYC’s storied SideWalk Cafe.

It was while she was back in North Carolina that Atkins started to develop her own style and in 2006 released her “Bleeding Diamonds” EP, a mix of Brill Building pop, torch song and alt.country balladry. After expanding into blues, psych-rock and prog with 2011’s Mondo Amore and then into synth-pumped pop with Slow Phaser, she fixed on emotionally candid country soul for 2017’s Goodnight Rhonda Lee. Now comes Italian Ice, its title a reference to the frozen treat sold on the Jersey Shore boardwalk of Atkins’ childhood.

Over the past 15 years or so, “retro soul” has become something of a plague, especially on UK houses, but Atkins’ fifth is an instantly winning exemplar of its kind, featuring 10 confident yet unflashy originals and one cover (of King/Goffin’s “A Road To Nowhere”), played with casual finesse by a collaborative cast that includes Spooner Oldham, Jim Sclavunos of The Bad Seeds (with whom she’s worked since Slow Phaser), My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel and long-time member of the Dap-Kings, Binky Griptite.

Recorded for the most part at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in just five days, it was co-produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and radiates a congenial glow from start to finish. Which is not to say Italian Ice is all sunshine, no shadow. Atkins has always let her feelings run free, and alongside the touching invitation issued to her husband that he might lean on her for a change (“Captain”), sit a humanitarian reminder to pay attention to the big picture (the over-easy strut of “AM Gold”), a note of the importance of always seizing the day (the twangled grooves of “Domino”) and her philosophical takeout from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy (hollering, honky-tonk epic “In The Splinters”, a co-write with Hamilton Leithauser).

The first track on an album isn’t always central to its identity, but on Italian Ice, it certainly is. “We’re stranded in the garbage of Eden/We’re starvin’ what we should’ve been feedin’/No angels, no saints, no heathens/Just people needin’,” goes the chorus of “AM Gold” – Atkins added the AM radio element later to tie it into the album’s main theme, which she explained to Uncut: “Everybody and their family is out on the street arguing and we’re all so divided now. Then somebody passes away and everybody gets together again. Or little, simple things happen: I’ll have a show and my cousins, who are super-Trumpers, are partying with people that aren’t. We’re not feeding the things that make us happy or make us fall in love with the world; we’re focusing more on these bad things. At the end of the day, people just want to be loved, be with one another and go outside and enjoy things. What always brings me back when I’m stuck on that wheel of negativity is thinking about the New Jersey boardwalk and the radio.”

Echoes of that comfort are everywhere. They’re audible in “Never Going Home Again”, a co-write with Sclavunos that catalogues some of the drama and darkness of the now-sober Atkins’ drinking days (“Cherished every moment/Saw a priest for my atonement/Went right back out and did it again”) and which sounds like a salute to Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe”, although she says it’s more The Mamas And The Papas. There’s comfort too in “Forever”, where the spirits of Laura Branigan and Stevie Nicks lurk, and in the psychedelic soul of “A Road To Nowhere”, which suggests Fleetwood Mac had Christine McVie grown up in Chattanooga, rather than Cumbria. Moreover, her voice is a soulfully versatile force, variously recalling Brenda Lee, Mama Cass, Bobbie Gentry and Dusty Springfield, although she belts it out far less often than on earlier records. This means that when she does let rip, as on the King/Goffin cover, closer “In The Splinters” and ’60s shirt-rending stonker “St Dymphna”, the emotional hit is much harder.

For all that, these new songs have a far greater impact than they would if Atkins was hellbent on faithful replication. Despite casting back to days gone by, she’s no purist, which is why the King/Goffin cover is more to do with her own emotional reaction to the song than its original sound, and why she gave “Forever” an ’80s power-ballad edge. The video for “Captain”, too – Atkins’ self-aware performance framed as a personal ad on a local cable channel – betrays a playful side of her aesthetic. That there’s no whiff of veneration or pastiche is down to her clean, modernist vision (plus the players’ chops). The Amy Winehouse comparisons made around the time of Neptune City have been put to bed, mercifully: they were never on point but are even less so now. In terms of adding topspin to a primary source, Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten are much more her peers.

With Italian Ice, Atkins seems settled, not in the sense of complacency, but in that this record is the sound of her hitting the sweet spot, achieving what she’s been steadily working towards for more than a decade. “At the time,” she said of her approach to the album, “I needed a record that would make me feel better and I wasn’t hearing any. So it was like, the passion of an Italian New Jersey family, on the beach in the summer, out of time. This is me living without anxiety.”

The “out of time” is telling, if in a different way. She’s been tipped for success for years, but when throwback soul was at its peak, Atkins’ interpretative flair ran against the tide; when she made Slow Phaser, the sad disco banger had yet to be identified; even Goodnight Rhonda Lee some found “too much” (woe betide the grown woman who enjoys theatrical catharsis). The clear-eyed, warm and stylish Italian Ice, though, could trigger a career shift that’s both deserved and long overdue.