We all are driven to doing certain things and making certain decisions in our lives for any number of reasons, be it ambition, fear, greed or love. The last purpose is perhaps the most identifiable to most of us, and so it is no great mystery that that which drives us can both reward us immensely and plummet us into the greatest depths of inconsolable sadness and regret. On Julie Doiron’s first album of new material in over two years, she addresses in her signature intimate songwriting style both the heights and the fallout in a way that forces the listener to reexamine their own loves.
One of the most important and greatest loves in Julie’s life is that towards her family. The first half of Woke Myself Up details the joy and awe that her family has given her. Immediately, one knows that her unabashed and unaffected lyrics are coming from a woman truly moved. The second half sees Julie making mistakes, blowing second chances, and coming to terms with the sad truth that one cannot live up to expectations set by herself or those she loves. The harrowing untitled final track (recorded and added to the album at the eleventh hour by Doiron) may very well be the most affecting of Doiron’s performances ever committed to tape.
Also important to the recording of this album was a reunion of sorts with her musical family. Founding Eric’s Trip bandmate Rick White produced and played on the entire album, and a handful of the songs contain the entire original Eric’s Trip band nucleus that took the Canadian indie underground by storm 15 years ago. Working with an old friend and collaborator like White was key to this album’s intensely vulnerable and emotionally raw tone. What’s captured is timeless and universal, in the same way as Cat Power’s Moon Pix, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love And Hate, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
Goodnight Nobody finds an unguarded Julie Doiron, efficiently but undeliberately creating her first masterpiece in only a few days time at three different locations. Ploughing through the studio in just a few days with a gangly crew of musicians, the result is a collection of songs that all are “allowed” to speak for themselves. Their instinctive “rawness” remains intact, not cooked out by incessant knob twiddling or second-guessing. With the help of friends like Herman Dune (who also perform as her European touring band) and ex-Eric’s Trip collaborator Rick White, she has taken the textures of her first widely released full-length Loneliest in the Morning and mixed them with the crystalline vocal performance of her most recent full-length Heart and Crime. Goodnight Nobody is the end product, the best of both worlds, downcast and moody pop tunes right from the heart, aimed straight at the heart. Even though she is described frequently in the press as an “indie-diva” or “chanteuse” of the highest power, Julie Doiron fits these well-intentioned approbations only in that she is a woman singer comfortable in her own skin. Under-reported are her signature guitar-stylings and her singular mastery of conveying mood and sentiment in song. For fans of Cat Power, Leonard Cohen and Hayden.
Jagjaguwar is proud to release the long lost Julie Doiron album Broken Girl, expanded to include her first two 7"es. It was originally released in 1996 (in a scant edition of 1000) by Doiron after her band--the psychedelic folk group Eric's Trip — had crumbled around her, under the temporary moniker "Broken Girl". The name did nothing to hide her feelings regarding the breakup of her band and the relationships that she shared with its members; neither did the songs on the record. The twelve songs from the original album come across like an epitaph for a departed lover. Broken Girl was a watershed for Doiron, showing her to be the sort of songwriter and performer that Eric's Trip only hinted at. Achingly beautiful and showcasing her vocal style and personality as a songwriter, the reviews immediately put her in the same class as Leonard Cohen in terms of importance as a Canadian solo artist. The album was self-recorded in the same home-y manner as the classic Eric's Trip albums which helped--along with albums by peers Sebadoh, East River Pipe and Smog — define the bedroom aesthetic of the early '90s. While some rock scribes would call it lo-fi, the fidelity of the recordings that Doiron and her Eric's Trip mates employed in the first half of the '90s was clearly the most appropriate medium. The close-mic'ing of everything from the vocals to the swirling guitars and peaking drums created a sense of real intimacy (while avoiding a lot of the awkward pitfalls that so many confessional songwriters run into) and suburban claustrophobia. Rolling Stone wrote, "Fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen once titled an album Songs From A Room. Montreal-based Julie Doiron apparently took up residence there and removed whatever furniture was left behind."
Will You Still Love Me? and Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars are the two much-acclaimed albums that Julie Doiron released on Tree Records in 1999 (the latter was also released on her own Sappy Records imprint in Canada, where it won the 2000 Juno Award-the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy-for best independently released record of the year). Having been out of print for the greater part of two years, Jagjaguwar is proud to reintroduce them to the record buying public in newly packaged form, with upgraded booklets that include lyrics for the first time. Also, the Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars CD will include a compressed version of her video for the song "Dance Music", accessible to fans with personal computers. After a solo album on Sub Pop (her home for the previous decade with Eric's Trip), Doiron found a good home in Tree, for whom she first released Will You Still Love Me? As the inaugural EP, it was also a creative spring-board for Doiron, a mini-album that has endured as a fan favorite. Adored for its sparse, no-nonsense demeanor, the EP offers a first glimpse at what has become Doiron's signature style, the moody union of vocals and guitar whose unified tone both expresses and evokes a timeless longing for a comforting, primal maternalism.
One writer puts it best: "Fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen once titled an album Songs From A Room. Montreal-based Julie Doiron apparently took up residence there and removed whatever furniture was left behind." Heart And Crime is the follow-up to the much acclaimed Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars (winner of the coveted Canadian entertainment award, the Juno, for 2000) and comes hot on the heels of the French-sung Jagjaguwar release Desormais. Like her previous records, Heart And Crime abhors unneccessary accoutrements. It relies on naked and minimal arrangements to propel familiar themes of self-doubt, hope, longing and sadness. The tone of intimacy throughout the record is like that which comes after three bottles of wine; a solitary singer with guitar, singing to herself, accompanied only by the sounds coming through the wall. Described frequently in the press as an "indie-diva" or "chanteuse" of the highest power, Doiron fits these well-intentioned approbations only in that she is a woman singer comfortable in her own skin. Under-reported are her signature guitar-stylings and her singular mastery of earnestly conveying mood and sentiment in the body of song. The latter is where she outpaces contemporaries like Edith Frost, Mia Doi Todd, Catpower, Elliot Smith or Beth Orton. Doiron seems destined for the pantheon of important singer-songwriters of this generation, and her affective powers are significant. According to another writer, Doiron's "moody minor key whispers make Joni Mitchell seem almost giddy by comparison."
Julie Doiron is the most entrancing chanteuse at this North American block party. Fans of her work as a founding member of early '90s hyper-moody Eric's Trip will be thrilled with this latest chapter in her unfurling body of work. Desormais is the French-language record Doiron has always wanted to create. Although the full-length is mostly sung in French (all but one song), it still contains all of the hallmark characteristics of Doiron's songwriting; it is a record that contains music of spartan beauty while the songs all tend towards moodiness but hedge themselves by steadfastly remaining understated. Whether or not you understand the French tongue, Doiron's stylized guitar and vocal melodicism are so lyrical that they transcend the need for translation. It is no surprise that this Acadian songwriter from Montreal, Quebec, is often compared to songwriters of a previous generation. Perhaps the most appropriate comment made by any writer is how Doiron's "moody minor key whispers make Joni Mitchell seem almost giddy by comparison."
After a solo album on Sub Pop (her home for the previous decade with Eric's Trip), Doiron found a good home in Tree, for whom she first released Will You Still Love Me? As the inaugural EP, it was also a creative spring-board for Doiron, a mini-album that has endured as a fan favorite. Adored for its sparse, no-nonsense demeanor, the EP offers a first glimpse at what has become Doiron's signature style, the moody union of vocals and guitar whose unified tone both expresses and evokes a timeless longing for a comforting, primal maternalism.
From that understated gem she launched right into her most critically-acclaimed and accessible album, Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars. Ottawa-based quartet the Wooden Stars played as the back-up band and helped Doiron step out of her solitary, introspective robe and venture into a more urgent and upbeat, albeit still relatively spartan, direction. Combining elements of rock and jazz-a la Joni Mitchell's early '70s work-Julie and the Wooden Stars somehow translated the coldness of the Canadian winter into one of the warmest and most tender records to be produced in the Eastern province in years.
Ladyhawk's kiss-of-death evokes the devilish sounds of Goats Head Soup guitars, the honey-slides and howling of Neil Young in his darkest hours, and the phantoms that haunted Roky Erickson at the Holiday Inn. Recorded over a period of two weeks in an abandoned farm house behind the shopping mall in the band's childhood hometown of Kelowna, British Columbia, Shots is an album filled with the cold creaking and ghostly echoes of the old house in the dead of winter. Like a party for the last house standing in a sea of strip malls and condos, surely near the end of its time.
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you get up just to get down again. Sometimes you run just to feel the wind against your face, and sometimes you stand still to watch things crumble around you. Vancouver's Ladyhawk knows this. And they got up - way up - and entered a recording studio for a day-long session between tours in the first half of 2006. Perhaps they then soared too close to the sun, like moths drawn into the flame, only to fly again into the shadows, their wings singed. And then maybe, gathering their burned and broken instruments about them, they limped their way home, rearranging the pieces and sounds haphazardly, letting them all lay as they fell.
The end result is the sound of four brothers breaking something down to create something new, reaching into the fire again. It is a shattering 6-song march called Fight For Anarchy, all unmuzzled and jawing out, nothing edited or expunged. And on it Ladyhawk show that, like Spoon, Dinosaur Jr. or Tom Waits, they have the ability to conjure growls, snarls, and storms of sound into musical lightning, never striking the same place twice.
Ladyhawk's core is bracing rock. Neil Young's Tonight's The Night is the hailstorm on the hood of The Replacements Let It Be, while distorted guitars invoke the thread and swerve of Silkworm and Dinosaur Jr. Helped along the way by Amber Webber (vocals) and Josh Wells (percussion, organ, singing) of Black Mountain, it will be hard to find a more hauntingly beautiful set of rock music than this debut. It was recorded and mixed, with the help of Black Mountaineers Wells and Matthew Camirand, in the "Karachi Vice" clubhouse, in the back of a furniture factory, amongst chicken and fish processing plants. With some of the more “inexpensive” ladies of the night scattered about, it captures the bottlenecked frenzy of their much-loved live show. There, each night, these grown-up kids at heart fall over, get right back up, cry on shoulders and fold the day in halves, watching the sun come up over the dashboard.
"Ices" is a celebration of flight, levity, and the conviction that you can leave earth. You take wing in an airplane, you go to real places when you dream, you have out-of-body experiences, you get high, you lose yourself in someone else.
When we started work on these songs, I was beginning a gradual move to California, constantly traveling back and forth from New York. I was experimenting. I was falling in love. Our studio in the Hudson Valley was full of electronics and computers and the sounds of future ships sailing through the vastness of space, and I sometimes forgot where I was. The first songs we wrote were called "flying 1", then "flying 2", and so on, which eventually evolved into songs on the album. Flight became a metaphor for the ignition of the imagination. The process created a lightness in me, a freedom and positive energy that I'd never before felt or explored.
This recording session became a two year music and spiritual retreat with my psychic twin brother, Eliot. A private journey during which we abandoned old habits and familiar sounds. We got really geeky and experimented in our studio. We obsessed over sympathetic magic, "Ancient Aliens", and the NBA. We allowed everything we loved to find its way in: Persian percussion, hip-hop beats, lo-fi, hi-fi, Pakistani pop, Link Wray, Jason Pierce, gospel, dub. We developed new systems; we worked with synthesis, software, and samples; we became producers. The Hudson Valley was home base, but I wanted to keep flying. I wrote songs in California, recorded vocals in Atlanta, and worked with Clams Casino in Brooklyn. For the first time, Lia Ices felt like an inclusive project with its own identity, not just a name.
"Ices" as a whole is devoted to these certainties. While we have evolved, we are still animals. We respond to planets, patterns, and cycles. We require the sounds of our origins. We live in the future but stay bound to the primitive and primordial. We will always want tribe, we will always want rhythm, we will always need music to guide us into our deepest sense of what it means to be human. So we hear sounds from all over the planet in this album. We devour so much music, and with this album we allowed ourselves to claim bits from all of it.
Drawing a parallel between Lia Ices and Pink Floyd is much easier than anticipated — they share a love for space that is both palpable and patient. If you've been curious about a starting point with her, please start here. The A-side originally appeared on MOJO Magazine's tribute to Pink Floyd's mighty Wish You Were Here. Lia's take on the title track soars high and quickly nose dives back to Earth. The B-side takes a turn at "Late Night", the closing track to Syd Barrett's solo debut The Madcap Laughs. On it, Lia balances just the right amount of jangle-y brawn and off-kilter poise that one of our best love songs deserves.
Lia Ices' emotionally driven and experimental pop music is both avant-garde and timeless. A natural yet refined grace permeates her work.
Ices' voice floats and flutters around you, like the leaves from trees on a fleeting fall day, and the instrumentation matches that subtle dynamism. Grown Unknown is a walk in the park on a day of carnival, the most beautiful day so far this year.
Appearing as a guest vocalist for "Daphne," the only duet on the album, is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
Lightning Dust's 3rd proper full length finds its inspiration in skeletal synth pop, modern R&B beats, the films of John Carpenter and -- in accordance with Lightning Dust's only longstanding rule -- absolute minimalism. The core of Fantasy lies as much in the songwriting as in its sonics, and begins with tools familiar to Webber and Wells: her acoustic guitar and his Wurlitzer piano. They worked to distill the arrangements to just the few key elements that were necessary to make the feel right, and through countless hours of labor in The Balloon Factory - their Vancouver studio - the songs found their way to a sonic palette more squarely electronic than either expected.
Infinite Light, Lightning Dust's sophomore album for Jagjaguwar, finds duo Amber Webber and Joshua Wells (both of Black Mountain) calling upon the powers of classic pop arrangements and making the most of five days with a Steinway Grand piano. While Webber and Wells met through their involvement in what they described as two of the saddest bands in Canada, the songs written for Infinite Light found the two moving away from the uniformly downbeat. Rather, the songs were more suited to lush and melodramatic arrangements. Cue the strings. Moments of Infinite Light remind us of the glory days of musical theatre, with touches of Hair, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Tommy. Lightning Dust have delivered a cosmic record about the adventure in finding love and the journey in losing and rediscovering "the light."
Amber Webber and Joshua Wells have been playing together for many years as part of Black Mountain. They've toured the world and have played impenetrable space-rock to the unlikeliest of audiences. With an abundance of creative energy to spare, the two decided to start a separate project together, that they named Lightning Dust.
Committing themselves to a more simplistic approach with Lightning Dust, Webber and Wells also decided to escape the comforts of their familiar instruments and writing styles. On their self-titled debut, minimal and spacious arrangements and a moody, theatrical vocal-style aptly expose the demons, creating songs that creep into your bones with a haunting chill.
The album was recorded in a dank cave and a bright blue house, perhaps an unconscious yet obsessive protest of the sunny beach and beer world that surrounded them on the outside. But despite this unattractive external world, and while completing the album in small fits of insanity, the two were compelled to retreat to the coastal summer air from time to time, when they could take no more of the shadowy frame that they had decided to enclose themselves in.
Many of the songs on this self-titled debut began years ago as melodies which persistently floated around in Webber's head. And, conveniently, Wells was at a loss for words to accompany the piano songs that wouldn't leave him alone. Their creation Lightning Dust matched these lingering ghosts with each other, creating a special, lasting work that perfectly brings together the shadows with the sunshine.
The expansive American experience Lonnie Holley quilts together across his astounding new album, MITH, is both multitudinous and finely detailed. Holley's self-taught piano improvisations and stream-of-consciousness lyrical approach have only gained purpose and power since he introduced the musical side of his art in 2012 with Just Before Music, followed by 2013's Keeping a Record of It. But whereas his previous material seemed to dwell in the Eternal-Internal, MITH lives very much in our world - the one of concrete and tears; of dirt and blood; of injustice and hope.
Across these songs, in an impressionistic poetry all his own, Holley touches on Black Lives Matter ("I'm a Suspect"), Standing Rock ("Copying the Rock") and contemporary American politics ("I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America"). A storyteller of the highest order, he commands a personal and universal mythology in his songs of which few songwriters are capable - names like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joanna Newsom and Gil Scott-Heron come to mind.
MITH was recorded over five years in locations such as Porto, Portugal; Cottage Grove, Oregon; New York City and Holley's adopted hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. These 10 songs feature contributions from fellow cosmic musician Laraaji, jazz duo Nelson Patton, visionary producer Richard Swift, saxophonist Sam Gendel and producer/musician Shahzad Ismaily.
"While lovers of gritty, post-punk, gothic blues need look no further than Love Life - in fact, you might want to drop some of your other loves - even disparagers of the genre may find Ms. Ford too formidable a force to dismiss. Sounding like the bastard offspring of blues-era Diamanda Galas and a teenage Nick Cave, Ford outdoes both, growling and wailing and offering guttural conciliation while succinctly punctuating the ghastly things that befall the human heart." - Silke Tudor, San Francisco Bay Guardian Here is Night, Brothers, Here the Birds Burn is Love Life's second record, their first for Jagjaguwar. On it the Baltimore quartet create dark, twisted operatic-rock for the rest of us. Featuring ex-members of Jaks, Universal Order Of Armageddon and The Great Unraveling, their music is the evil carnival without the kitsch. Or the dance of the bull-fight without the sword. It co-mingles the sacred with the profane, making the juxtaposition seem natural. Odd time signatures, driving bass, spooky, multi-layered arrangements and Katrina Ford's uniquely sinister, guttural voice and lyrics...the music of Love Life is unlike anything else.
Manishevitz are a bunch of introverts trying their hardest to make extroverted music (and failing). City Life is the third Manishevitz album, but it is truly the first product of the band Manishevitz. The first two albums, Grammar Bell and the All Fall Down (1999) and Rollover (2000), were largely composed by Adam Busch and Via Nuon. But after extensive touring in support of Rollover, a new larger band nucleus evolved to also now include cohorts Joe Adamik, Ryan Hembrey, Nate Lepine and Fred Lonberg-Holm. Vocalist Adam Busch has foregone his oft-indiscernible mumbling-like singing for a more articulated and attitude-fueled vocal performance. His delivery resembles that of Bryan Ferry’s 70’s work, while the rest of Manishevitz play foil to his Ferry. Most immediately noticeable are Nuon’s historical leads, Adamik’s rock steady drumming, and Lepine’s snotty sax riffs. City Life is about wonderment, estrangement, mania, exhaustion, solitude, and togetherness. Manishevitz bounces these themes back and forth as the songs thoughtfully bleed into each other (check out the wall of sound climax of “Hate Ilene” as it is hard spliced into the groove-y rock charge of “Mary Ann”). Sleazing, sweating, grunting and moaning through each tune, Manishevitz have created something that will endure. Produced by Michael Krassner and engineered by Andy Bosnak, the album was tracked in Chicago at Clava and then mixed and over-dubbed in Los Angeles at Kingsize with long time friend of the band, Wil Hendricks.
Following the So-Cal pop earnestness of 2000's Rollover, Manishevitz has taken us by the hand with their Private Lines EP and into a Chicago improv club where band leader and principal songwriter Adam Busch tosses his umbrella in the spitoon and lets his hair down while the band gets drunk in the street. Raging on the title track, Manishevitz more closely resembles the incredible live act they've become over the past three years than they ever have on record. It's here where their collision of art pop and jazz rock is sewn. It's as if Lou Reed's 1976 Rock And Roll Heart tour band was still alive and kicking. When the horns blare through the din mid-way through the tune, it's a profound declaration of clarity for modern rock music. Also featured on the EP are two stellar covers: "Free Will" by Robert Wyatt and "2 HB" by Roxy Music.
When Manishevitz's debut record GRAMMAR BELL AND THE ALL FALL DOWN was released in 1999, the record was quickly branded by the press as an "underground treasure" that was "bleak and baleful." To them it possessed "a poker-faced Gothic sensibility flavored with sinister acidity." In contrast, Manishevitz's followup record ROLLOVER is a more upbeat affair, possessing the absorbing chemistry of Mr. Van Dyke Parks, Arthur Lee's Love, and (from a different continent altogether) Robert Wyatt. This is exactly as intended. When Adam Busch, the man behind the band, decided to move from Charlottesville, Virginia, to Chicago, he was also looking to find a new home for his masterful collection of spacious blues effigies. The result: the fractured folk lonesomeness evident on the first record has become wrapped in glistening sheaths of 1960s So-Cal pop enthusiasm.ROLLOVER was produced by Michael Krassner (Boxhead Ensemble, Lofty Pillars and Simon Joyner) and arranged by cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm (Peter Brotzmann Tentent, John Zorn and Light Box Orchestra). In the recording of ROLLOVER, Manishevitz expanded to not only include Krassner and Lonberg-Holm, both of whom performed throughout the record, but also Via Nuon (Drunk and Bevel), Ryan Hembrey (Edith Frost and Pinetop Seven), Jason Adasiewicz (Central Falls) and Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5 and The Flying Luttenbachers). With the help of this superb collection of Chicago-area musicians, Adam Busch has put together a record backed by cascading percussive pellets and simmering, mellifluous horns that resound in mysterious cyclical rounds.
From the first cymbal crash on the first song of this debut record, you know instantly that you're dealing with something extraordinary. A songwriter has arrived, and he is much younger than he sounds. You must already know that songwriters are like mathematicians... they all peak in their 20s and early 30s. Then it is all downhill. We have so much to look forward to.Manishevitz is Adam Busch. And GRAMMAR BELL AND THE ALL FALL DOWN are confessional rock songs informed by old school rhythm and blues. It is obvious that the inestimable substance and the words that hold these songs together come from someone well beyond his years, in both lyrical ability and world-weariness. A glimpse of Busch's apparent trajectory was first seen in his previous work as part of the now defunct quartet called The Curious Digit. Whereas The Curious Digit were "adept impressionists" who, with their second record HESSIAN HILLS, created a few sweeping portraits of sonic, artistic and emotional paralysis, Busch, as Manishevitz, has created with GRAMMAR BELL... "a brittle folk document with quiet, understated power."
Midnight Sister is brought to you by the isolating landscape of the San Fernando Valley - its colors, diners, lunatics, neon lights. Midnight Sister's Juliana Giraffe and Ari Bazoulian, both lifelong residents of this storied valley, have only become more inspired by the area's mythology over the years: its two-faced magical wonderland and tragic circus.
Giraffe, 23, an André 3000 fashion disciple and daughter of an LA disc jockey, was raised almost exclusively on disco and David Bowie. Her lyrics and lyrical melodies were composed gazing out from a tiny retail window on Sunset Boulevard. Her Rear Window-like longing allowed her imagination to run wild and cook up the wild narratives that would fill Balouzian's compositions. Balouzian, 27, classically trained and already a go-to arranger for odd-pop names like Tobias Jesso Jr. and Alex Izenberg, is inspired by the immersive, almost visual language of Stravinsky and Ravel as much as the cinematic jeu d'esprit of Altman's Brewster McCloud and Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch Drunk Love.
Saturn Over Sunset, their debut album, is a shared musical vision of Hollywood's oddest corners. It is the baroque, eldritch alley you must pass through to fine the speakeasy night of your life. You’ll come out bleary-eyed and the sunrise will be pouring all pink and orange through the smog and palm trees.
Make the Dead Come is a limited edition mini-album that Minus Story created as a creative outlet in the middle of making their upcoming full-length My Ion Truss (due out June 19, 2007). In between recording sessions for My Ion Truss with producer John Congleton (The Polyphonic Spree, Explosions In The Sky) at Electrical Audio and Low Key, the band self-recorded Make the Dead Come on their 8-track in Kansas City. A thematic continuation and resolution of the death/ghost songs from their last two full-lengths No Rest For Ghosts and The Captain Is Dead Let the Drum Corpse Dance, Make the Dead Come is a darker and scarier journey with the group of Boonville, MS natives. On it, they rejoice in their trademark intuitive & distorted self-recorded style, which they've warmly named the Wall of Crap. This is their first recording with new band member Lucas Oswald, who contributes hammer dulcimer and background vocals.