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  • Foxwarrenself-titledalbumartwork.jpg

    Album release: Foxwarren
    Release date: 30 November 2019
    Label: Anti-Records
    More info: Band website

    Growing up in scattered small towns across the Canadian prairies, Foxwarren is comprised of singer songwriter Andy Shauf (guitars/keys/vocals) and his childhood friends Dallas Bryson (guitar/vocals) and brothers Darryl Kissick (bass) and Avery Kissick (drums & percussion) who eventually found themselves in Regina, Saskatchewan. The initial sessions for their self-titled debut – coming out November 30th via ANTI- Records – began ten years ago in the Kissicks’ parents’ farmhouse while they were away on vacation. Upon their return, Foxwarren was forced to relocate and recording resumed back in Regina in a rented house where the members lived as roommates. The band's name comes from the Kissick brothers’ family home in Foxwarren, Manitoba.

    Today the four-piece has released its first song 'Everything Apart'; the driving krautrock, drum machine backbone of the song evokes a ticking clock – a race against time. “Combined with Andy’s existential lyrics, the song’s propulsive feel reminded us of the noir-ish tension of classic spy thrillers like ‘The Conversation’, ‘Three Days of The Condor’, and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’,” explained the video’s directors, the Ft. Langley Production Company. “With the band’s blessing, we set to work on creating our own micro cold-war thriller, paying homage to era tropes like zoom-heavy camerawork, trench coats, and analogue tech.”

    Watch Foxwarren video ‘Everything Apart’ on YouTube

    As college friends, Foxwarren initially bonded over Pedro the Lion and drew influence from The Band and Paul Simon. Now a decade into the project, Shauf reflects on their debut release: “So much time and effort went into making this album; it's something I think we're all really proud of. My touring and recording schedule got pretty wild over the past three or four years, so it put the Foxwarren album on the backburner. Making the album was such an enjoyable time - the collaboration and frustration of it all. All of us trying to make something better than we previously had. I'm excited to get it out into the world and have other people listen to it. We've been a band for 10 years or so and never properly released an album, so this is special for the four of us.”

    "...recalls classic pop songwriters in the vein of Harry Nilsson or Randy Newman, coupled with the plainspoken timbre of a Paul Simon, albeit with a laconic Canadian drawl." - NPR Music

    "...one of the single most promising voices to emerge from Canada in recent memory." - Flood Magazine

    "...Shauf has always had a way of portraying characters and telling their stories in the most delicate and piercing ways." - The Line Of Best Fit

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  • HY1.jpg

    Single release: ‘Blue’ by Hayes & Y
    Release date: Out now
    More info: Band website

    "'Blue' feels like the complete pop package." - CLASH

    "From the synth flecks to those speckled Nile Rodgers esque guitar lines, 'Blue' feels like the complete pop package." - CLASH

    Hayes & Y have returned with a brand new single, 'Blue'. Described by CLASH magazine as "a moody dancefloor burner with a killer chorus", it follows recent track 'Always So Simple, Always So Cold' which was featured on Spotify's UK Viral Top 50 chart. Already picking up plays at BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music, the group adds a little more insight into their latest creation;

    "Blue is the first in a series of songs we've named after colours. It is about loneliness, insanity and imaginary friends. ‘Blue’ is a song about longing, masquerading as a dance track. The most ambitious work we've done so far, challenging ourselves and hopefully, our audience."

    Listen to 'Blue' here.

    With band members that hail from as far afield as Bulgaria and Finland before settling in Manchester, Hayes & Y collect their influences to create their very own sound. Their strong chemistry and rich musicality are manifest in their effortlessly sleek, immediate and addictive brand of pop - which has been compared to the likes of Jungle and Nile Rogers - with CLASH going on to comment on their "infectious funky yacht pop, their bleached out sound recalls everyone from Jungle to Kool & The Gang. 'Blue' will only serve to increase the hype around the quartet, an irresistible new single from the group."

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  • jp-harris.jpg

    Album release: ‘Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing’ by JP Harris & The Tough Choices
    Release date: Out now
    Label: Free Dirt Records
    More info: Artist website

    • UK Tour begins this Saturday in Scotland. Tickets here.

    • Featured: 10 New Country Acts You Need To Know In August 2018 - Rolling Stone

    “...thoughtful, authentic music.” - Don Henley, The Eagles

    “…has the rugged edges of outlaw, the danceability of honkytonk, and classic country’s beloved emotional candour - Harris has a timeless voice.” - Wide Open Country

    After performing across Europe earlier this month, JP Harris is set to start his UK tour this Saturday November 10th with his full band, The Tough Choices, accompanying him. Including three dates in Scotland to kick things off, the critically acclaimed musician will also be stopping in Newcastle, Bristol, Oxford, Bedford, and headlining at the Omeara in London on November 16th.

    With his latest album ‘Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing’ (released October 5th on Free Dirt Records), Harris is back after a four-year hiatus to remind folks what a lifetime dedicated to country music looks and sounds like. Sure to please fans of his hardscrabble earlier work, this new collection of songs finds the acclaimed songwriter and vocalist stretching himself both musically and personally.

    In today’s musical culture, the word “authenticity” seems to have lost all meaning. What used to represent something bona fide and true is now just watered-down marketing speak, stamped onto press releases without a second thought. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1983, JP Harris doesn’t fancy himself a musician as much as he does a carpenter who writes country songs. However, his stranger-than-fiction story begins after the eighth grade, when he left home on a Greyhound bus in the middle of a summer night. And he’s never looked back.

    For over a decade, Harris travelled the country, often alone, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains while making his living as a farm labourer, shepherd, woodsman, and carpenter, among many other titles. Still an in-demand carpenter to this day, Harris has been writing and performing country music for nearly ten years, releasing his debut album, ‘I’ll Keep Calling’, in 2012. He followed that release with ‘Home Is Where the Hurt Is’ in 2014, which only saw his star rise both among country fans and critics at major outlets like Rolling Stone. Even Eagles frontman Don Henley referenced Harris in a 2015 interview with Hey Reverb saying that Harris made “thoughtful, authentic music.”

    Working with producer and Old Crow Medicine Show member, Morgan Jahnig, Harris tapped a handful of his favourite players, sent them acoustic demos, and gave some pretty unconventional instructions: “Take five days to think about these songs. Please write notes of whatever ideas come to mind. Please don’t talk to each other about it. Let’s all just get in the studio on day one and compare notes as we go.”

    The resulting sessions featured a palpable spontaneity and creative energy, both of which manifest in an album that’s real, raw, and more akin to his live performance than anything Harris has put out thus far. “We took a counter-intuitive approach,” he says. “We had no pre-production. There were no rehearsals. We basically had a whole studio full of multi-instrumentalists, a six-piece band total, for the whole recording session. Everybody played at least two instruments. It was a really interesting way to do it and I think it helped us avoid anybody, including myself, overthinking the songs.”

    Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing opens with ‘JP”s Florida Blues #1’, a hard driving country rock number that details some of Harris’ darker days touring Florida with his band, the Tough Choices. ‘Lady in the Spotlight’, an affecting song with layered strings, turns a critical eye to the stark gender imbalance and the seamy, predatory side of music industry.

    Album highlight, ‘When I Quit Drinking’, is, as its title suggests, a tender look at one of Harris’ most personal struggles. ‘Gossamer’ strands of pedal steel complement the gentle quaver in his voice, underpinning some of his most personal lyrics to date.

    After years of writing and playing, Harris is more in love with country music than ever before. He sums up his hopes for the album simply: “I’m just hoping that me coming to the table without gimmicks or cool-looking costumes or fancy vintage jeans—just the grubby guy I am with a sleeveless shirt and a pair of boots on—is enough to get people into the music.”

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  • AHII_Special_Edition_lo.jpg

    Soundtrack release: ‘All Hallows’ II’ by OGRE and Dallas Campbell
    Release date: 25 January 2019
    More info: Band website

    ‘All Hallows’ II’ is a full-length studio album by transatlantic synthesists Robin Ogden (OGRE) and Dallas Campbell. The sequel builds upon the previous instalment of All Hallows’: slasher synth chase sequences, atmospheres laden with powerful dread and eerie soundscapes score a true horror story, track by track, to a thrilling and cinematic conclusion. ‘All Hallows’ II’ is a conceptual narrative journey into cults and the occult, unfeeling cosmic horrors, and the unplumbed darkness of the human condition.

    Hear / share ‘have You Seen Me’ here.

    Despite living 3594 miles apart, and having never met in person, Robin and Dallas collaborate online by the combined powers of FaceTime, Dropbox and Sid Meier’s Civilization V, sharing a passion for all things analog, tape machines and esoteric vintage synths. All Hallows’ II draws on the duos combined nostalgia for the halcyon years of Carpenter and Goblin-esc soundtracks, cheap horror movies and sweet synth scores. The soundtrack is the fourth instalment of their many transatlantic collaborations, and builds upon their last horror outing, a re-score of George Romero’s classic Night Of The Living Dead on Grammy winning soundtrack label Lakeshore Records (Stranger Things, Drive etc.).

    The accompanying story could be ripped from the pages of Weird Tales and is a delicious throwback to the slow-burn pulp horror movies of yester-decades. For fans of the weird and eerie, Lovecraftian horrors, Cronenberg’s early works and immersive fiction, All Hallows’ II is an ambitious work of deep fiction told through a series of found artefacts: coroner’s reports, newspaper clippings and ominous bloodstained notes. The synopsis reads: “35 years ago, police discovered the remains of over a dozen former patients in the sub-basement of an alternative healthcare facility, The Shepard Institute For Psionic Inquiry. All Hallows’ II is the story of investigative journalist Ellis Ledstone, and Shepard’s other victims, whose bodies was never found.”

    All Hallows’ II includes the unaltered case files of the events of 1983. The onus is on the reader to stitch together the narrative and come to their own conclusions about the mysterious events of 1983 and what really happened at The Shepard Institute For Psionic Inquiry, by examining the interviews, reports and artefacts, which are included both digitally with the release and physically with physical versions of the soundtrack.

    The soundtrack features 24 tracks and will be released both digitally and on cassette with a special edition physical package of ‘All Hallows' II’ including a hard print copy of the story component and a 'found artefact' meditation cassette. A separate selection of B-sides and cuts entitled: ‘All Hallows’ II: Coda’ will follow the release.

    Praise for OGRE & Dallas Campbell

    “As an exercise in pure immersion in a genre, this is pretty much perfection. The only imaginary synth horror soundtrack you’ll ever need.” – the Quietus

    “The international duo love the Berlin school of synthesizer music and cheesy horror flicks, and they curate the perfect sounds from a panoply of MOOGs, Korgs, Farfisas, and more.” – Bandcamp

    “If you’re into the recent trend of synth with horror influences then this is going to be right up your alley!” – Bloody Disgusting

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  • 9-web.jpg

    Single release: ‘Always Settling’ by Imperial Daze
    Release date: Out now
    Label: Caroline/Fiction Records

    Watch / share ‘Always Settling’ new video here

    Made up of singer/guitarist Alex Cameron-Ward, guitarist/bassist Felix Rebaud-Sauer, keyboardist/singer Facundo Rodriguez and drummer Tom Sunney, Peckham, indie-psych-pop quartet Imperial Daze started as a 3-piece studio project. At the end of 2014, the band decided to build a recording studio together with the intention of making music for advertising under the company name of AudioCommune, following Alex’s previous band being placed in a Sony PS4 advert, bringing in enough money to set up a recording hub in the basement of an industrial old warehouse building in Battersea.

    Having begun writing music together, late-2016/early-2017 saw Imperial Daze release a short series of hotly received singles earning critical acclaim from the likes of DIY (Neu Pick), Clash (Track of the Day), Indie Shuffle, Hilly Dilly and more, whilst clocking up tens of thousands of plays across streaming platforms. The band’s hazy, rolling indie-pop and self-made success also caught the attention of Rupert Jarvis from The Maccabees and Ian Brundrett from Caroline/Fiction Records who took the band under their wing for both the production and management, helping the band to further explore their sound.

    Having performed as a studio project up until meeting Rupert, the decision was made to put a live band together with the idea of recording a first EP and touring. Taken to The Drugstore (The Maccabees own recording studio in London) by Rupert, the band recorded their debut EP ‘Solid Fair’, which due to a last-minute line-up change also featured Sam Doyle (also of The Maccabees) on drums. These recordings and the bands work with Rupert led to the band supporting a series of estimable artists over the second half of 2017 including Mystery Jets, Matt Maltese, Nilufer Yanya, The Maccabees, All We Are, Man,The Echo and more, allowing the band to craft and hone their live show.

    Having found their new (and current) drummer, Tom Sunney, again the band had to move their recording studio. History repeating itself, a strike of luck brought the band another opportunity to build their own walls inside a giant disused commercial freezer under a railway arch in Central London. Getting a call for AudioCommune to score an advert for a large ice cream brand, they land the job, get the pay check and with the extra help of a successful crowdfunding campaign they manage to gather enough money to build from scratch what is now called The Electric Eel Recording studio (the freezer was previously used to store eels) by Tower Bridge, London.

    Having their own creative space has allowed the band to expand their sound and repertoire. They began by scoring, recording and producing the soundtrack to director Nathan Sam Long’s short movie ‘Give Up The Ghost’ (selected for Cannes) signalling a more “cinematic sound” to come. Going forward the band are continuing their collaboration with director Nathan Sam Long throughout two new music videos for their upcoming singles. The tracks have been recorded between their own studio and the now defunct Maccabees’ Drugstore studio and with ‘Always Settling’ out now a follow up single is due ahead of the bands forthcoming headline show at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington in November.

    Previous praise for Imperial Daze

    "hazy and romantic, rolling along with little urgency, just a beautiful, driving vocal set against surf pop guitars." - DIY (Neu Pick)

    "a succinct, groove-led summer jam with a chorus to stop you in your tracks." - CLASH (Track of the Day)

    "if you're a fan of the genres described and know when a group not only has potential, but is nailing the kind of sound you love, this track is definitely one you'll like" - Hillydilly

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  • Dreyfus-Jazz.jpg

    Album release: Dreyfus 'Jazz Reference'
    Release date: 30 November 2019
    Label: Sony BMG

    • Reissue of 14 titles from 'Jazz Reference' collection

    • Available for the first time on vinyl (and CD) with new artwork by Seb Jarnot

    • Digital promo copies and very limited physical copies available upon request

    The 'Jazz Reference' series was originally created by Francis Dreyfus at the very start of the 21st century. This incredible catalogue regrouped the biggest names in Jazz at a groundbreaking sound quality.

    Almost twenty years later it is still perceived as one of the best ever created. To help a new generation rediscover this amazing collection, BMG is releasing a first selection of 14 titles: from Louis Armstrong’s trumpet or Django Reinhardt’s guitar to the voices of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, only the very best has been kept.

    Now, this collection will available for the first time on vinyl, and all formats display a brand new artwork from Seb Jarnot, exclusively created for this special reissue.

    Speaking about the collection on it's original release, the late Francis Dreyfus, said:

    "Since my early childhood, I’ve been crazy about Jazz. This childhood fascination is what inspired me to create Dreyfus Jazz.

    I am releasing these masterpieces in order to discover, through another perspective, a collection of the most beautiful tracks ever recorded before 1960 by the biggest and most renowned creators of the lively and flawless language of jazz.

    Who is this anthology for?

    It’s for those who already love Jazz, and for those who will find great pleasure in re-discovering it, thanks to the sound quality that is unexpected and unequaled. It’s also for the younger generation who don’t yet realize that they are going to love this music that burnt down from its creative violence and its jubilant swing throughout the entire twentieth century.

    First, I had to achieve the near impossible: “Break the wall of sound” in order to enhance the already sublime tracks of yesterday… to make them sound as though they’d been recorded yesterday. Thanks to technological information storage and the resolute research of exceptional sound engineer René Ameline (with never ending passion and patience) it was possible to give a “new youth” to the voice of Ella and Billie, and to offer an unheard freshness to formidable improvisations by Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. We have included the best sources, the best songs, the best documents and there were no “second takes” or “false starts”.

    I wanted to start from the original signals inscribed deeply in the wax, to enlarge and enrich the entire sound spectrum until it was inaudible and mute. It was necessary to carefully clean each chosen song, meaning that every useless scratch and annoying click had to be wiped, whilst avoiding stripping away the original grainy sound. With this we were able to achieve a more spacious sound, offering more depth and fullness compared to the original 78 record collection. The result is spectacular!

    This collection is truly unique. From the will of a passionate perfectionist who manifested its conception like bearing a child, it was championed by a team of specialists who are lovers of jazz in all its dimensions: Claude Carrière, Noël Hervé and Daniel Nevers.

    To really define the spirit of this adventure, which has lasted almost two years, I cannot think of a better way to conclude but to quote Claude Debussy: “Finally, a savage music with modern comfort”!"

    Full list of 14 titles:

    • Billy Holiday – You Go To My Head

    • Charlie Parker – Now’s The Time

    • Miles Davis & John Coltrane – Trane’s Blues

    • Dizzy Gillespie – Cubana Be, Cubana Pop

    • Django Reinhardt – Echoes of France

    • Duke Ellington – Ko-Ko

    • Louis Armstrong – C’est Si Bon

    • Nat King Cole – Route 66

    • Stan Getz – Lullaby Of Birdland

    • Sarah Vaughan – Lullaby Of Birdland

    • Ella Fitzgerald – Love For Sale

    • Erroll Garner – Trio

    • The Gerry Milligan Quintet with Chet Baker – Soft Shoe

    • Lester Young – Just You, Just Me

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  • webTheSteelWoods_CreditAlyssaGafkjen_027.jpg

    Album release: ‘Old News’ by The Steel Woods
    Release date: 18 January 2019
    Label: Thirty Tigers
    More info: Band website

    "Though there is not a shortage of Southern rock bands, few have the edge and darkness The Steel Woods bring to the table..." - Saving Country Music

    ‘Old News’, the new album from Nashville based southern-inspired rock band The Steel Woods is set for a January 18th release via Woods Music/Thirty Tigers. Centred around the soulful and commanding vocals of lead singer Wes Bayliss and the instrumental prowess of guitarist Jason (Rowdy) Cope, Old News makes a statement in the continuing evolution of The Steel Woods as a unit and the Bayliss/Cope combo as songwriters, something their 2017 debut ‘Straw In The Wind’ only scratched the surface of. Listen to the title track here.

    Over the last two years The Steel Woods have built a loyal and passionate fan-base through their road warrior touring mentality and extraordinary live shows. Whether headlining or supporting artists such as Dwight Yoakam, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jamey Johnson, Cody Jinks, Miranda Lambert, Blackberry Smoke and many more, The Steel Woods consistently convert audiences with each performance. Click here for a full schedule of The Steel Woods tour dates.

    The themes reflected on Old News range from perseverance (‘Wherever You Are’, ‘All of These Years’), to unity (‘Blind Lover’) to hope and resilience in the stand out title track ‘Old News’. Their belief in finding common ground through shared life experiences and a musical connection was inspired by the conversations the band had with people they met on the road.

    As with their acclaimed debut album, The Steel Woods again included a Black Sabbath cover (‘Changes’), but also felt the need to acknowledge some important artists we have recently lost. The four tribute tracks honour Tom Petty (‘Southern Accents’), Merle Haggard (‘Are The Good Times Really Over (I Wish A Buck Was Still Silver)’), their dear friend Wayne Mills (‘One Of These Days’) and Gregg Allman (‘Whipping Post’).

    Old News was recorded at Echo Mountain Studio (Asheville, NC) and Blackbird Studio (Nashville, TN) and features band members, Wes Bayliss (guitar/vocals/keys/mandolin/harmonica), Jason Cope (guitars), Johnny Stanton (bass) and Jay Tooke (drums/percussion).

    The Steel Woods are a band steeped in Southern culture with a modern approach and powerful intensity in live performance. Though their style is apologetically Southern Rock and Rock, just pull back the layers to find lyrics that feature passionate storytelling and messages that resonate.

    Brand new album from The Steel Woods, ‘Old News’, available for pre-order here.

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  • TJF.jpg

    Tour announcement: The Joy Formidable
    Tour dates: February 2019
    More info: Band website

    The Joy Formidable’s new album ‘AAARTH’ has keenly shone the spotlight back onto the Welsh alt-rock trio. An album packed with inventive and emotive rallying cries, born from a place of renewed vision, ‘AAARTH’ has become their most experimental work to date, and among their most heralded.

    As their live outings in support of the new album got underway in the summer – with main stage appearances at Reading & Leeds Festival, a sold-out show at The Lexington, followed by extensive touring in support of Foo Fighters through the US and Canada – their latest material has been connecting with fans old and new, and is turning into a defining record in the band’s already storied career. Three huge singles - ‘Dance of The Lotu’, ‘The Wrong Side’, and ‘The Better Me’ – have picked up airplay across BBC Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music too. Watch the video for latest single ‘The Better Me’ here.

    Never ones to sit still for long, the band are already plotting an extended return to UK venues and have confirmed their first full UK tour of the album through Feb 2019. Tickets will be on sale on Weds 24th Oct from 10am at the band’s website here. They will bring their magnetic live show to the following cities.

    Listen to new album ‘AAARTH’ here.

    Praise for new album AAARTH

    The Welsh rockers build their towering songs on wobblier foundations for the sheer thrill of trying to make them topple. - Pitchfork

    All Beck groove, Beatles psych, volcano solos and guitar hooks that sound like Elon Musk trying to catapult himself to Mars. – The Guardian

    Tightly-wound rock riffs and pummelling drums. A great leap forward. - Q

    An album of compositional daring and fierce experimentation. – DIY

    It’s an album that sees them back on solid footing, re-energised and ready to take on the world again. – Upset

    Joyfully experimental and refreshing. – Total Guitar

    A biting, visceral return. - CLASH

    Riffs as high as a Welsh mountain. – Louder Than War

    The trio have found their form again (4/5) - Dork

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  • paul smith.jpg

    Album release: Diagrams’ by Paul Smith
    Release date: Out now
    More info: Artist website

    Today, Paul Smith releases his brand-new solo album ‘Diagrams’, a record that strips bare his work to this point and ploughs fresh songwriting pathways. Already riding a wave of positive reviews, the record will be BBC 6 Music’s Album of The Day on October 29. ‘Diagrams’ sees the Maxïmo Park frontman continues to sharpen his skills via a keenness to step out of his comfort-zone, and an ever-present desire to digest culture in all its forms. Most recently he found himself performing alongside folk star Rachel Unthank for Lauren Laverne’s Great Northern Soundtrack, and he is currently a host for publisher Penguin’s podcast alongside David Baddiel and Konnie Huq, discussing the latest book releases.

    Smith gives songs from the album their first live airing at a sold-out launch show at The Waiting Room in Stockton on Oct 28th, before taking the show on the road with a full band through November. Full details can be found here.

    With each Paul Smith release we expect an evolvement, and on Diagrams he remains committed towards expanding the parameters of his songwriting. From the anthemia of his debut solo outing ‘Margins’ (2010) to the exploratory minimalistic jazz of his Peter Brewis (Field Music) collaborative album ‘Frozen By Sight’ (2014) and the spirited, guitar pop record that was ‘Contradictions’ (2015), Diagrams sets its stall out as a vivid and complex album that binds the obscure and the everyday, searching for romance under stones that not many songwriters would think to turn over.

    As a body of work, it seeks to unite the strengths that Smith has in his canon, drawing on his ability to both write from experience, yet also conjure new stories of unknown protagonists. Sidestepping (but not wholly ignoring) the more autobiographical work that played out through previous releases, ‘Diagrams’ instead sees Smith further explore his nous for telling these short stories. Alongside co-producer Andrew Hodson, of 6 Music favourites, Warm Digits, he charts a course into the yearning, melancholic jangle-pop of The Go-Betweens, finding himself drawn to the literate, grunge-pop of The Lemonheads, to build a cohesive collection that pulls in his many strengths.

    “I try to absorb information and filter parts that interest me into the songs, while retaining my own, singular voice. I still believe in the power of a pop song to alter someone’s day, and although this record was mostly made in a bedroom, I felt the songs would have a universal appeal.” – Paul Smith

    With his ability to unravel the day-to-day and transform the commonplace into an eloquent turn of phrase, the thread that holds ‘Diagrams’ in place is Smith’s honesty and empathy. It’s these matters-of-the-heart elements that push and pull at the listener’s emotions. Resultingly, it’s a collection that feels incredibly relatable.

    Album opener ‘The Public Eye’ sets the tone with a dark undercurrent and was written in the aftermath of the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy adopted by the British Home Office. Taking aim at our climate of suspicion, it shines a light on how vulnerable groups are attacked without factual foundation (‘Convictions without proof’). ‘Around and Around’ similarly details the futile merry-go-round of the news cycle, before ‘Silver Rabbit’ conjures a story of self-doubt, set against the low-budget romance of the seaside, and channelled through overdriven guitars. ‘Lake Burley Griffin’ - inspired by the story of Walter Burley Griffin, an American who designed Canberra alongside his wife Marion Mahony Griffin – is the album’s discordant left-hand turn, taking in the post-rock influence of Slint or Tortoise. A love story featuring prominent clarinet, it showcases – along with the saxophone in ‘The Public Eye’ – Smith’s addition of woodwind instruments to his musical palette. Elsewhere on ‘John’ he imagines a life that can never be known, inspired by a name scrawled on the back of a toilet door, extrapolating the sentiment and following it into a world where the story unfolds from schooldays to falling in love. It’s in these instances that Smith’s talent is subtly exemplified. He envisages unknowable situations and turns them on their head to evoke truly universal emotions of hope and regret (“what if the first chance, is the last chance?”).

    Through ‘The Beauty Contes’t and ‘Critical Mass’ – the former featuring folk royalty, Marry Waterson, the latter inspired by JG Ballard and Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' - Smith again shows us he can veer into and out of songs inspired by reality. ‘The Beauty Contest’ plots a late-night train journey, and ‘Critical Mass’ plumbs bleak and apocalyptic depths, albeit alongside a black sense of humour.

    ‘Diagrams’ is a collection that further cements Smith’s reputation as a revered songwriter and lyricist, whose skills continue to find new avenues through which to develop. Listen to ‘Diagrams’ here.

    PRAISE FOR DIAGRAMS

    "Always an artist doing interesting, exciting and unexpected things." - Lauren Laverne, BBC 6 Music

    "A wealth of strong songs… Shapeshifting between bright guitar pop and darker, introspective tales" - Mojo

    "Around and Around and John pleasingly recall the breezy stylings of early Real Estate or Best Coast" - DIY

    "His way with words is as a poet, and mastery of the English tongue shines throughout" - Dork

    "Around and Around offers fine poetic storytelling" - The i Paper

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  • JosephineDavies4.jpg

    Album release: 'In The Corners Of Clouds' by Josephine Davies' Satori
    Release date: 9 November 2019
    Label: Whirlwind Recordings
    More info: Artist website

    • View the new single 'Wabi-Sabi' premiere with JAZZIZ

    • Listen/share new single 'Wabi-Sabi' on YouTube

    Saxophonist and composer Josephine Davies is engaged in a continually evolving, creative musical expedition with near-chordless trio project Satori; and for this second recorded waymarker, ‘In the Corners of Clouds’ (the follow-up to the 2017 Whirlwind debut, Satori), she welcomes drummer James Maddren alongside existing double bassist Dave Whitford to explore eight original numbers, fronted by her own inquiring tenor resonances.

    The spontaneity of this purely acoustic trio has already captured imaginations, as well as spurring Davies on in its progression. “We played a lot of shows after the first release and soon after I had written another album’s worth of material; and because our approach has become more and more open, I began to see my tunes mainly as a basis for improvisation. It might be seen as limiting to have no traditional "harmonic instrument" in this line-up—especially with the deeper frequencies of the tenor—but it actually throws melody to the fore, which I like. And if melody is happening you really can do whatever you want. We create so much space together that it actually encourages me to both compose and play in a different way.”

    Comprised almost entirely of first takes, the less-rehearsed immediacy of Satori’s sound is fundamental to the ambiences which Davies seeks, and is encapsulated in opening number ‘Wabi Sabi’, named after a Japanese philosophy which embraces and celebrates the beauty in imperfection.

    Here, Whitford’s rhythmic ostinato and the core melody are broken up, creating an oriental long groove for improvisation before being put back together into a similarly beautiful state. Davies’ long-held fascination with the music of John Coltrane can be heard in ‘Dancing Saint’, its bluesy, smouldering rhythms and long, shaped tenor lines paying homage (with animated individual features for bass and drums).

    Title track ‘In the Corners of Clouds’, prompted by two Haiku based on these opposingly angular and ineffable subjects, “arrived very quickly and fully formed”, explains the saxophonist; and its almost singer/songwriter feel is characterised by an attractive, cantabile, downward sequence.

    Gingerly-trodden ‘Oddities’, built from a clutch of motif snippets, leads to ‘The Space Between Thoughts’, whose finely-spun thoughts echo Buddhist meditation. The impassioned weight of Coltrane-like tune, ‘Cry’, pushes tenor out close and high, dramatized by rumbling bass and drums, only to be contrasted by the joyful South African township sway of ‘Lazy’. To close, ‘Scattered’ (a favourite of the saxophonist) travels through differing key centres, sans time signature, with complete abandon.

    Reflecting on the affecting unrestraint of Satori, Josephine Davies concludes: “As a culture, we mostly don’t celebrate the crusty, technically imperfect, unglossed aspects of life, but rather seek perfection—and that doesn’t move me. I’ll always go for the intangible or the emotional; that ‘creative something’—which is what I feel all the timeless albums have got. The enduring appeal of Satori is its freedom—a wonderfully exciting and valuable experience.”

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