It’s nice to know that Alec Ounsworth is still moving ahead with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. His band’s bar was set quite high with the 2005 self-titled debut, an album that almost seemed to create its own sub-culture of music fans. In the three albums since, Ounsworth has continued to put out quality music, if not as widely acclaimed. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s new self-released album The Tourist is due out February 24th and the new song “Better Off” was shared today.
Along with The Tourist’s lush and progressive production – mixed by Dave Fridmann, who also worked on two previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah albums, 2007's Some Loud Thunder and 2014's Only Run – there’s a close focus on lyrical content and vocal melody and Ounsworth’s limber falsetto nimbly rides the sunlit wave of “Better Off”. Listen Here.
A press release previews the upcoming album: “The Tourist emerged from a period where Ounsworth was doing a lot of intense soul-searching, and processing personal events that irrevocably shaped his life and future. But although most of these songs came together during this time of reflection, he considers the record to be cathartic—an exhale of sorts, rather than a collection of songs where he was indulging in self-pity or letting things stagnate or fester. "The album was a type of purge," he says. "A purge of certain emotional confusion that manifested itself in the last several years. It was not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me."
“Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's career arc is all about building on previous successes while staying true to a core artistic vision. And although The Tourist may have emerged from challenging times, it reflects Ounsworth's uncanny ability to move forward, no matter what the circumstances” – Charles Steinberg
There were a handful of unfortanately timed album releases last Friday the 20th, Inauguration Day, and so it's fitting to give some deserved attention to music that may have been obscured by distraction. One of those releases was from Vancouver native Eric San, known as Kid Koala. His new album Music To Draw To: Satellite, released via Arts & Crafts, features Icelandic singer, Emiliana Torrini and is an expanse of ambient melancholia. The title offers a good suggestion of what to do while listening to it, as the long play alternates between moving ambient nocturnes and those with Torrini's timeless voice tip-toeing through them. "Novachord" is an arresting example of the former.
In a label press release, San's new direction is described: "Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted journey for the legendary scratch DJ, producer, and composer. A record of many firsts, the inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To collaboration series finds Kid Koala working with a singer, writing lyrics, and producing and performing all instruments. Satellite is the renowned audio-collagist's first non-sample-based record, using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, basses, strings, turntables, noisemakers, and inventive recording techniques."
"The result is an emotional work of expansive instrumental soundscapes blended with chilling vocal ballads. Inspired by beloved ambient records that Koala would sink into while drawing or touring, Satellite is not so much a departure from the turntable as instrument, but a choice to feature different voices in the music. Along with every instrument in his studio, San employed inventive recording techniques to create the album's ghostly, surreal sound. For example, he would record instruments to vinyl or even magnetic cassette cards, which he would then re-record for detailed texture and the effect of boundless space." – Charles Steinberg
Entrance: Protest Video: “Not Gonna Say Your Name”
Jan 20, 2017
Keep those protest songs comin'. The day before the inauguration day that nobody wanted to face, Los Angeles based musician Guy Blakeslee (aka ENTRANCE), released a new track, "Not Gonna Say Your Name" and a video of inspiring fan submitted footage from protests that have taken place all over the country since the November election. Watching it gives you the warm feeling of collectve dissent and makes you want to hit the streets tomorrow.
“Not Gonna Say Your Name” is now availablevia Thrill Jockey on participating DSPs, with all proceeds from song purchases and streams going directly to Planned Parenthood, an organization that Blakeslee holds near and dear to his heart. “I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls,” he says. “It's the least I could do - for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother - to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda.”
Entrance is also honored to announce that he will be performing at a Planned Parenthood Benefit taking place in Los Angeles at the Teragram Ballroom this Valentine’s Day alongside artists including Ty Segall, Kevin Morby, and King Tuff.
Entrance's first album in over a decade Book of Changes is due out February 24th via Thrill Jockey. –Charles Steinberg
Coud Nothings: “Enter Entirely”
Jan 19, 2017
Count me as one of many who are looking forward to the new Cloud Nothings album, Life Without Sound, set to be released next Friday, January 27th via Carpark Records. Today, the band shared one more new track from the forthcoming album, "Enter Entirely". Do you ever feel like listening to Pavement without actually listening to Pavement? Here's an opportunity. "Enter Entirely" follows last week's release of the video for "Internal World", the lead single from the new album which you can also watch below. All of this is to rev you up for the next chapter for Cloud Nothings.
In a press release, Life Without sound is described as, "the radiant, far-far-better-than-okay fourth full-length the rock outfit has recorded since (Frontman Dylan Baldi) began writing and releasing songs on his own under the Cloud Nothings alias in 2008. While its highly acclaimed predecessor - 2014's Here and Nowhere Else - came together spontaneously, in the little time that touring allowed, Life Without Sound took shape under far less frenetic circumstances." John Goodmanson (Sleater Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie) came on board to produce the album.
In addition to the new single, Cloud Nothings will embark on a lengthy tour next week that will see them hit North America in January and February before heading to Europe in March. – Charles Steinberg
Kelly Lee Owens
Kelly Lee Owens: “Anxi” Ft. Jenny Hval
Jan 18, 2017
Up and coming London producer/vocalist Kelly Lee Owens announced her self-titled debut album today, due March 24th via Smalltown Supersound and shared the lead single, “Anxi” featuring Jenny Hval.
Hval murmurs and swoons into into the minimalist, syncopated pulse-wave submerged in tension. Owens says of working with her cohort in disquieted plunging, “It has been my most freeing and open collaboration so far, and my first time working with a female..It was a very powerful experience for me, I felt she brought something strange and quite beautiful.”
The debut album follows the release of herOleic EP this past fall. Owens produced the album herself, taking inspiration from Daniel Avery, who’s 2013 densely motorized Drone Logic, features Owens’ vocals. In the press release the album is described as one, “that bridges the gaps between cavernous techno, spectral pop, and Krautrock’s mechanical pulse” Together, Kelly Lee Owens and Jenny Hval tap something absorbing. – Charles Steinberg
Premiere: Surfer Blood - “Frozen”
Jan 17, 2017
Surfer Blood's fourth studio album, Snowdonia, is due out February 3 via Joyful Noise Recordings and Under the Radar has the premiere of new song "Frozen." The band leaps back to the fold in familiar fashion with jaunty guitar phrasing and zeal that makes you think of The Vaselines with a big grin on your face. Check it out below, followed by the band's upcoming tour dates.
A lot has happened in the lives of these South Florida rockers in the past couple of years and the substance of their new songs reflects the growth from their experience. Snowdonia is the band's first album since the death of guitarist Thomas Fekete, who passed away last May after a hard fought battle with cancer. Understandably, the band now has a new lineup, with frontman John Paul Pitts and drummer Tyler Schwarz remaining and being joined by their high school friends Michael McCleary on guitar and Lindsey Mills on bass. Former bassist Kevin Williams previously left the band in October 2015. Pitts has assumed sole writing and mixing duties for the first time since 2010's Astro Coast, while the dextrous guitar of McCleary and precious background vocals of Mills find prominence. A press statement from the label describes the new dimension: "Much of Snowdonia finds the band tackling heavy themes like mortality and aging through longer, more complex songs and also features the most narrative and autobiographical material lead singer John Paul Pitts has written." Surfer Blood are one resilient band and after well more than their fair share of tragedy and misfortune, they keep forging ahead and are positively welcome back.
1/27: Tallahassee, FL @ The Wilbury 1/28: Mobile, AL @ The Merry Widow 1/29: Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon 1/30: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall (upstairs) 2/1: Austin, TX @ The Parish 2/3: Tucson, AZ @ Flycatcher 2/4: Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet's 2/6: San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Brewing Company 2/7: San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel 2/9: Portland, OR @ Holocene 2/10: Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt 2/11: Seattle, WA @ Barboza 2/12: Seattle, WA @ Barboza 2/14: Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst Atrium 2/16: Las Vegas, NV @ The Bunkhouse Saloon 2/17: Los Angeles, CS @ Teragram Ballroom 2/18: San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar 2/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar 2/21: Dallas, TX @ Club Dada 4/14: Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits 4/15: West Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern 4/16: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter 4/18: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's 4/19: Allston, MA @ Great Scott 4/20: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg 4/21: Washington, DC @ DC9 4/22: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern 4/23: Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant Street 4/24: Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar 4/25: Knoxville, TN @ The Concourse @ The International 4/26: Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre 4/28: Miami, FL @ Gramps 4/29: West Palm Beach, FL @ Respectable Street Block Party
Gold Star: “Sonny’s Blues”
Jan 13, 2017
Vienna born and Los Angeles bred Marlon Rabenreither writes and sings the material for his main project Gold Star. Just signed to Autumn Tone Records, his sophomore album Big Blue, was announced today and its first single "Sonny's Blues" was shared. His weary drifter, country tinged rock has been aptly described as "stark guitar-noir Americana" and on "Sonny's Blues" his influences and comparisons to the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Wilco, and Cass McCombs bear out. There's some of the feeling of Red House Painters too. Lucinda Williams and Ryan Bingham approve, as both have expressly asked Gold Star to open for their shows. So kick up your boots and have a listen. Big Blue is due out March 24h. – Charles Steinberg
Teen Daze: “First Rain”
Jan 12, 2017
Through his electro-ambience, British Columbia's Jamison Isaak has had a penchant for production that reaches and feels for the skies. Under his recording name Teen Daze, his fifth LP, Themes For Dying Earth is is due February 10 and will be the the first to be released through his new label, FLORA. Today, Teen Daze shared the second track, "First Rain". It features Bon Iver band member. S. Carey, as well as a sublime backing track of rain fall that whisks you away to the mountains of B.C. In a press release, Isaak puts this in context:"First Rain was the first song I wrote for the new LP, and the first to be written in my newest home studio. We had just moved into this new place, which is much more secluded and quiet, and I started recording almost immediately. The sound of the rain you can hear at the start and end were done on that first day of recording, right outside our front door. As the song progressed, and I tracked more instruments, having vocals lead the song felt more and more necessary... It was around this time that I contacted Sean about possibly helping co-produce a song, or to collaborate in some way. He's quite a busy guy, and involved in more than enough projects, so when he was eager to contribute I was so ecstatic. I'm such a huge fan of his, and having him want to be involved was a dream. When he sent me back what he recorded, it was so immediately perfect for the song. In an email exchange we had after everything was finished, he noted that it felt like we're both appealing to the best versions of ourselves, and I couldn't agree more." Isaak's synth keys have recalled scores to 80's romantic dramas and comedies like The Secret of My Success and "First Rain" is no different, if not more spacial and subdued. Close your eyes and take it in. – Charles Steinberg