October 17, 2018

Touring: Beach House

Mistletone very proudly presents Beach House‘s Australian tour 2019.

BEACH HOUSE TOUR DATES:

  • PERTH: Thu February 28 @ Perth Festival. Tickets & info here.
  • MEREDITH: Sat March 9 @ Golden Plains Festival. Tickets & info here.
  • watch this space for more…

To quote Aunty Meredith’s Golden Plains announcement;

“Time and Place.

Saturday night, just on dark, GP Thirteen, as an expectant Sup’ swells in eucalyptic, festooned anticipation.

It was late at night
You held on tight
From an empty seat
A flash of light

Perfect Time and Place. And Space.

Beach House have entered the pantheon of great dream pop acts. More recently, that dream has woken into epic soundscapes: cinematic, shoegazey, loud and dramatic. They’ve represented a high water mark for so many music-lovers for a long time now (77 songs to be exact) and recent albums, 7 and Depression Cherry, have lifted us higher still.

Fall… back… in… to… place

Perfect.”

  •  “Beach House are special, maybe even one of a kind – undeniably, consistently brilliant” – Noisey
  • “A radical blast of psychedelic pop bliss” – Rolling Stone

Beach House (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, with drummer James Barone) bring their overwhelming, cinematic live show back to Australia next summer.

Beach House last toured Australia in 2016, with a Sydney Opera House show described by The Music as “testament to the band’s enduring commitment to creating unforgettable sonic experiences”. At once intimate and cosmic, Beach House explode onto the stage with glorious finesse and grandeur, bringing their adored songbook to kaleidoscopic life.

Beach House released 7 (their 7th full-length record) on Mistletone (Australia) and Sub Pop (worldwide). They have been a band for over 13 years and have written and released a total of 77 songs together. Mail order 7 and other Beach House goodies here.

The creation of 7 involved rebirth and rejuvenation; Scally and Legrand used to limit themselves to what they thought they could perform live, but this time that limitation was ignored. Unlike the last four albums, 7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) became a significant force on this record by shedding conventions and helping to keep the songs alive and fresh. The band’s trusted live drummer from 2016 to the present, James Barone, played on the entire record, helping to keep rhythm at the centre of a lot of these songs.

In the band’s own words, “we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source.

The number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart. Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in ‘Seventh Heaven.’ At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that.”

October 12, 2018

Touring: Julia Holter


Julia Holter (photo: Dicky Bahto)

JULIA HOLTER TOUR DATES:

  • LAUNCESTON: Friday January 18 @ MONA FOMA. Tickets & info here.
  • More to be announced!

Mistletone proudly presents the return of Julia Holter with her stunning ensemble, hot on the heels of her incredible new album, Aviary (out Friday October 26 on Domino).

Aviary is an epic journey through what Los Angeles composer Julia Holter describes as “the cacophony of the mind in a melting world.” It’s her most breathtakingly expansive album yet, full of startling turns and dazzling instrumental arrangements.

The follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2015 record, Have You in My Wilderness, it takes as its starting point a line from a 2009 short story by writer Etel Adnan: “I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds.” It’s a scenario that sounds straight out of a horror movie, but it’s also a pretty good metaphor for life in 2018, with its endless onslaught of political scandals, freakish natural disasters, and voices shouting their desires and resentments into the void.

“Amidst all the internal and external babble we experience daily, it’s hard to find one’s foundation,” says Holter. “I think this album is reflecting that feeling of cacophony and how one responds to it as a person – how one behaves, how one looks for love, for solace. Maybe it’s a matter of listening to and gathering the seeming madness, of forming something out of it and envisioning a future.”

The first song to be shared from Aviary, ‘I Shall Love 2’ echoes that hope: “I am in love… There is nothing else“.

Watch the video directed by Dicky Bahto below:

“In a lot of the songs, when I mention love, it’s about a seeking for compassion and humility in a world where it feels like empathy is always being tested,” Holter says. In Aviary’s case, that search for sweetness – that bridging of the gulf – becomes a metaphor for the creative process itself, cutting through the hierarchies of history, language, and musical form to offer something more fluid, more inclusive, more idiosyncratic.

Aviary, executive produced by Cole MGN and produced by Holter and Kenny Gilmore, combines Holter’s slyly theatrical vocals and Blade Runner-inspired synth work with an enveloping palette of strings and percussion that reveals itself, and the boundless scope of her vision, over the course of fifteen songs. Holter was joined by Corey Fogel (percussion), Devin Hoff (bass), Dina Maccabee (violin, viola, vocals), Sarah Belle Reid (trumpet), Andrew Tholl (violin), and Tashi Wada (synth, bagpipes).

 

October 11, 2018

Touring: Nakhane


Nakhane (photo by Tarryn Hatchett)

NAKHANE TOUR DATES:

  • LAUNCESTON: Sunday January 20 @ MONA FOMA. Tickets & info here.
  • More to be announced!

One of the glorious things about pop music is the way that singular talents can come from anywhere – and 2018 is infinitely more interesting thanks to the arrival of Nakhane.

Born 30 years ago in Alice, a small town on the eastern Cape of South Africa, Nakhane has a ravishingly beautiful voice and plenty to express with it. His album You Will Not Die excavates his religious upbringing, his need to renounce Christianity after feeling that it was incompatible with his queerness, and his periods of depression and anxiety – but there’s also love, joy and self-acceptance, not least on the title track, in which Nakhane realises that despite the traumatic events he’s been through, he’ll survive.

As an album, You Will Not Die is gorgeous to listen to, Nakhane’s magisterial voice aligned with solid-gold songwriting. Producer Ben Christopher, whose credits include Bat For Lashes, melds choirs, strings and electronic pop into something sumptuous and urgent. From the choral hip-hop of opening track “Violent Measures”, through the anthemic pulse of “Star Red”, to the gorgeously limpid torch song “All Along”, You Will Not Die reveals the measure of Nakhane’s considerable talents.

Born in Alice, South Africa, Nakhane grew up in Port Elizabeth before moving to Johannesburg aged 15. A umXhosa, the second largest ethnic group in South Africa after the amaZulu, Nakhane was raised in a musical family – his aunt, who brought him up (and who he refers to as his mum), and her sisters sang in choirs. “My first musical memories are voices in a room singing Mozart and South African choral pieces,” he says. “And then when we moved to Port Elizabeth my mum introduced me to Marvin Gaye and the O’Jays. I didn’t really know current pop music until I was in high school.”

Nakhane performed in musicals at school, including the lead role in Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, and loved singing harmony with this aunt on car journeys. Everyone in the family could sing, he says, “but for some reason I could see that singing was something I got validation from a lot more than anyone else around me.” Nakhame didn’t realise as a youngster that he had an extraordinary voice, at once triumphant and tender. “With songwriting there was a lightbulb moment where I thought ‘Yeah, I can do this!’ But with singing it was like learning how to speak, you don’t realise you’re learning and then you suddenly can.”

More difficult was Nakhane’s growing awareness of his sexuality. Though South Africa is liberal regarding LGBT rights, his family’s Christianity was becoming increasingly hardline: “the older I got, we became very staunch, more conservative”. At the age of 19 he came out, to the consternation of his church and family, who decided that his “sin” could be prayed away – “like if you have Jesus in your heart this is a temptation that you can learn to live without”. For six years until the age of 25, Nakhane was a poster boy for fundamentalism, preaching about the way God had taken away his attraction to men, “a testament that ‘look, it can happen, someone can think that they are homosexual but if they just accept Jesus into their heart and fight this temptation they can be good Christians’.”

Inevitably however, Nakhane realised that his sexuality could not – and should not – be denied. He renounced his Christian faith after a dream which inspired You Will Not Die. “One night, I dreamt a voice gave me a date, that of my death,” he remembers. “Suddenly, having forever lived in fear of divine punishment, I was certain I wasn’t to die the next day, or even 10 years later. It was incredibly freeing. I decided to catch up on lost time, to finally live my life.”

Along with his sexuality, Nakhane embraced his artistic identity. Inspired by mould-shattering musicians including Anohni, Busi Mhlongo, David Bowie, Mbongwana Star and Nina Simone, Nakhane started to write songs on his acoustic guitar and play them on the folk circuit in Johannesburg: “grungy little pubs where everyone would talk over you”. He was spotted performing in an acoustic competition in Johannesburg by the boss of a record label who signed him, then in 2013 released his first album Brave Confusion which, he says, “took a while to catch on.” In 2015 Nakhane published his first novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues, about a relationship between a young man and an uncle whom he discovers is in a same-sex relationship. The same year Nakhane collaborated with the South African DJ Black Coffee; their addictive, pulsing dance record We Dance Again was a hit and gave the singer a wide audience in the country.

His achievements are not confined to music and literature. Last year Nakhane starred in The Wound, a film about homosexuality in the Xhosa community which has been shortlisted for the best foreign language film at this year’s Oscars. This January he visited New York for a podcast-based project with the actor and filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell. He’s a polymath, then: but a musician first and foremost, with You Will Not Die showcasing him in full bloom.

Nakhane wanted it to be an electronic album, partly a reaction to his early experiences as a musician. “The folk scene is so fucked up,” he says. “It purports to be authentic which is a word I fucking hate, because it normally means white guy with a beard and an acoustic guitar. I don’t tick those boxes.” In fact, You Will Not Die ranges from the effervescent glam-tinged stomper Interloper, through the abstract blues of The Dead, to the meditative piano ballad Teen Prayer. There are some sounds which run through the record – for instance choirs, a reference to Nakhane’s upbringing – and of course that glorious voice, delving deep into his experiences. The ominous waltz Fog is about suffering what Nakhane’s doctor says is chronic depression and generalised anxiety disorder. “Four years ago it was difficult to talk about mental illness without people rolling their eyes at you,” says Nakhane. “It affects every facet of my life, unfortunately. But I’m on good medication now.”

The shimmering dance tune “Clairvoyant” is a love song, inspired by a line in Jean Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles. “There’s a line there that goes ‘love had made them clairvoyant’ and I remember thinking ‘Jesus, love doesn’t make me clairvoyant – if anything I become more of an idiot when I’m in love’.” The lyrics, Nakhane says, are neither euphoric nor despairing, but about that tricky middle ground: “how you can love somebody but you can also resent them.” Its video is a sumptuous portrait of a same-sex couple, stylistically inspired by Wong Kar-Wei’s Happy Together, in which Nakhane appeared naked. “Oh yeah I am, aren’t I?,” he chuckles. “I went to the director and said to him that I wanted to show a same-sex black couple living their normal day to day life. I wanted to showcase banality but make it beautiful and stylise it.” As for the nudity, “I had a very naked family, nudity was never anything that was frowned upon. As an artist, my body is just another tool for me to use to say what I want to say.”

“Teen Prayer” was inspired by a visit to a tarot card reader who recommended that Nakhane went back to the places in which he grew up – advice he took. A kind of anti-gospel record, Teen Prayer is “about letting go of the fear that I’m going to hell. I also wanted to queer that Biblical language and gospel sound. There’s a line ‘He moves in me’ which is a double entendre. One could read it as the Holy Spirit moving in you, or one could read it as anal sex.”

The title track “You Will Not Die” delves into a subject Nakhane had previously thought was too tender to write about – the fact that his biological parents had not brought him up. “For the first five years of my life I was moved around a lot,” he says. “My father was never on the scene really, I’ve met him twice. I lived with my mother for a year when I was six, it didn’t work out, and then my aunt and her husband adopted me and they, for all intents and purposes, became my parents for the remainder of my life. It was never forethought, but life made it that way and as traumatic as it became when I was growing up, now when I look back I’m so much happier – I prefer that I was raised by my aunt.”

The song is about this hard-won acceptance of painful aspects of the past, and a hymn to Nakhane’s resilience. “That line ‘And when I woke up in the morning I knew that I wouldn’t die’. So your parents left, did you die? No. There’s always tomorrow – hopefully.”

Nakhane’s tomorrow is a hugely promising one – and he travels to the UK with his family’s blessing, despite the complexities of religion and sexuality. “It took a long time and a lot of complicated conversations, but over time I think the ice thaws,” the singer says. His experiences have turned him into a vibrantly creative artist destined to push pop’s boundaries. “I remember being young, black and queer and having no-one representing me in the world ever, you know?,” he says. “I discovered James Baldwin when I was 19 and I was never the same person ever again. So if my album can do something like that for someone, then my work is done.”

September 18, 2018

Touring: Parquet Courts

PARQUET COURTS TOUR DATES:

  • AUCKLAND: Monday, 28th January @ Albert Park. Tickets: Official Website
  • BRISBANE: Saturday, 2nd February @ Brisbane Showgrounds. Tickets: Official Website
  • SYDNEY: Sunday, 3rd February @ SCA and Callan Park. Tickets: Official Website
    ADELAIDE: Friday, 8th February @ Hart’s Mill, Port Adelaide. Tickets: Official Website
  • MELBOURNE: Saturday, 9th February @ Footscray Park. Tickets: Official Website
  • FREMANTLE: Sunday, 10th February @ Esplanade Reserve and West End. Tickets: Official Website

 

Mistletone is rapt to present the return of Parquet Courts to Laneway Festival 2019. Watch this space for more!

August 29, 2018

Touring: Kurt Vile

Mistletone could not be prouder to present the return of the supreme Kurt Vile & the Violators, touring brand new album Bottle It In with special guests RVG. Tickets on sale now!

KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS TOUR DATES:

  • SYDNEY: Monday 15 April @ Enmore Theatre with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • WOLLONGONG: Tuesday 16 April @ Unibar with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • CANBERRA: Wednesday 17 April @ ANU with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • BYRON BAY: 18-21 April @ Bluesfest. Tickets on sale now.
  • MELBOURNE: Monday 22 April @ The Forum with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • ADELAIDE: Saturday 27 April @ The Gov with RVG. Tickets on sale here.
  • PERTH: Sunday 28 April @ Rosemount Hotel with RVG. Tickets on sale here.

Weeks of speculation come to an end today as details of the new Kurt Vile album can finally be confirmed: One of the most critically and commercially acclaimed artists of the last decade will release Bottle It In on Friday 12 October via Matador Records / Remote Control.

A sprawling new jammer titled ‘Bassackwards’ follows previously released Bottle It In single, ‘Loading Zones’, an ode to the parking challenges in Vile’s native Philadelphia, described alternately as “Vile at his comforting, shaggy best” (The Guardian), and an “ambiguous rumination on small town life” (MOJO). The epic, loping ‘Bassackwards’ is the album’s beating heart and Vile’s most compelling evocation of how he sees the world: “I was on the ground circa Planet Earth, but out of sorts,” he sings over a gently psychedelic bed of backmasked guitars. “But I snapped back, baby, just in time to jot it down.

Travel can inspire in surprising ways: Kurt Vile discovered as much making his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around the country over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips. Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music—not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on “Hysteria,” how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of “Mutinies,” how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to “Come Again.”

These journeys took Vile more than two years to navigate, during which time he toured behind his breakout 2015 album b’lieve I’m goin’ down, recorded a duets album with Courtney Barnett, opened for Neil Young in front of 90,000 people in Quebec, famously became a clue on Jeopardy, hung out with friends, took vacations with his wife and daughters.

In April 2017, he trekked out to Indio, California, to catch the Stagecoach Festival and sit in with his friends the Sadies (“my favorite modern band”). Inspired by Willie Nelson’s epic set, Vile spent a few days in Los Angeles working with producer Rob Schnapf at his Mant Sounds studio.  The two had previously worked together on “Pretty Pimpin,” the leadoff track on b’lieve that became a number-one AAA radio hit. Their second collaboration was similarly inspired: Featuring backing vocals from Cass McCombs, the eleven-minute title track is full of ominous bass rumbles, hazy-steady drumbeats from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, delicate harp stabs from Mary Lattimore, and what sounds like chewy distortion leaking out of a David Lynch flick.

 
Months later, when a lengthy Violators tour ended in Salt Lake City, Vile let the momentum carry him further west, where he recorded several more songs with engineer/producer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, the War on Drugs) at The Beer Hole in Los Angeles.  Other songs were put to tape during sojourns to Portland, Oregon, and to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where fellow Violator Rob Laakso co-produced. The bulk of Bottle It In was bottled up at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Peter Katis (Interpol, the National) engineering and producing. Bottle It In captures the spontaneity of these impromptu sessions, revealing Vile as a diligent and singularly determined musician.
 
These recordings are the destinations, but the journeys were just as important, whether they gave him time with his wife and kids or an opportunity to get some writing done. “For a while I was terrified of flying, so I would be listening to whatever country songs I was obsessed with. I’d have George Jones blasting in my ears. Or, I would be reading something about country music. Or, I would start writing songs in that flash of being afraid, being swallowed by life. I’m up there on a plane drinking wine because like everybody else I’m afraid to die. And I wrote ‘Hysteria’ up there.” That new song, with its woozy guitar fanfare, captures mid-flight queasiness well, as Vile daydreams about escaping the flight: “Stop this plane ‘cause I wanna get off,” he sings. “Pull over somewhere on the side of a cloud.”

Bottle It In is about place only insofar as it is about the people in those places: friends and family, bandmates and music heroes, colleagues and collaborators. There’s a lot of love in these big-hearted songs, a lot of warmth toward everyone in Vile’s orbit and even toward those whose paths he’s yet to cross. “Loved you all a long, long while,” he sings on “One-Trick Ponies.” “Looked down into a deep dark well, called all of your names.” The jangly country-rock tune serves as a valentine to… he won’t say, but he and Mozgawa and Farmer Dave Scher deliver a beautifully sympathetic sing-along chorus that invites every one of us one-trick ponies to join in. 

 

As Vile prepares for another round of lengthy tours and countless shows, these songs should prove good company, reminders of the love and responsibility he has toward those he leaves at home and those he meets along the way. That makes the sentiments resonate more strongly and lends Bottle It In an emotional weight. “It’s like that moment on the airplane,” Vile says, “when you’re on your way somewhere and you have that burst of panic. When you’re terrified of dying, that’s when you want people to know you love them.”
August 27, 2018

Grand Salvo: Sea Glass

Mistletone is proud to present Sea Glass, the eagerly awaited new album from esteemed Melbourne artist Grand Salvo. Pre-order on vinyl or CD here. Release date: November 2.

  • “One of my favourite musicians. I’ve loved Grand Salvo since he first began. I used to go to every single one of his shows when I lived in Melbourne, sitting on the floor at the Corner Hotel, and over many records, he has just completely taken us into another realm. He’s not only a great songwriter, but often thematically takes us into all kinds of worlds. There’s a very textural quality to what he does, he’s explored death, and on this new album Sea Glass, he’s focusing on the idea that a single, vivid memory can shape who we are” – ZAN ROWE, DOUBLE J

“In the water”, the first excerpt from Sea Glass is a baroque-folk rumination on memory, loss, the passing of time and death: “Oh say you love me before I go / will you remember me when I’m gone”. Someone walks slowly along the beach, though it soon becomes apparent that this is a beach of dreams, where everything is allegory and symbol. “I wander slowly along the shore / the tide is high and the sun is low”; a childlike attempt to articulate the endless flow of time.

Paddy Mann has made six albums under the Grand Salvo moniker: (1642-1727), River Road in 2002, Temporal Wheel in 2005, Death in 2008, Soil Creatures in 2009 and Slay Me In My Sleep in 2012. His songs can be both sparse and heavily orchestrated, with each album focused on a particular idea or theme. Death was a story-book affair, with narration and intricate programmatic arrangements; Slay Me In My Sleep, an ambitious narrative-based song cycle co-produced with Nils Frahm, was shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize. All Grand Salvo’s albums have received lavish critical acclaim, winning Album of the Week on RRR (twice), Radio National, PBS, RTR and 4ZZZ.

Sea Glass is Grand Salvo’s seventh album, and his Mistletone debut. This richly allegorical album explores how a single, vivid memory can shape who we are; resurfacing and altering our thoughts and recollections as the years go by. The album’s very structure is an approximation of how such a memory is forged; each song radiates out from a seed memory which unfolds like a lotus jewel in Field of Flowers, the second-last song and the only “straight” narrative song of this remarkable album. The album then closes with Standing On The Sea, a dreamlike journey on the beach that uncovers “a shard of sand smoothed emerald glass / and a change in the light”, layering the dreams of childhood and the memories of adulthood into a woozy contemplation of eternity and the cyclic, ever evolving nature of memory.

Sea Glass was recorded using a number of non-western instruments including qanun (Persian dulcimer), kora (African harp), koto (Japanese stringed instrument) and Indian percussion, with a heady female chorus (Laura Jean, Lisa Salvo, Hannah Cameron, Michelle Surowiec) reprised throughout the album, woven through the narrative like a recurring dream.

Grand Salvo has performed throughout Australia and internationally, making appearances in London, New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and throughout Japan. He has shared stages with artists such as Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan and Sharon Van Etten, and has produced and arranged live shows with up to 25 musicians at Melba Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre and The Arts Centre Victoria. His collaborations include Daughters Fever (2015) with Peter Knight, Curious Animals (2016) with baroque violinist Lizzy Welsh and Tamara Saulwick’s Helpmann award-nominated theatrical work Endings (2015).

May 29, 2018

Touring: Liars

Mistletone proudly presents the first Australian Liars shows in 4 years.

LIARS TOUR DATES:

  • MELBOURNE: Thursday September 27 @ The Curtin with Hex Debt + HTRK DJs. Tickets on sale now.
  • MELBOURNE: Friday September 28 @ ACMI Wonderland Late Nights. Tickets on sale now.
  • SYDNEY: Saturday September 29 @ Oxford Art Factory with Party Dozen + Buzz Kull. Tickets on sale now.
  • WOLLONGONG: Sunday September 30 @ Yours & Owls. Tickets on sale now.

“UTTERLY bizarre and utterly brilliant” – The Arts Desk
“ANOTHER excellent album” – Loud and Quiet Magazine
A TRIUMPH” – BrooklynVegan
SHORTLISTED for the Australian Music Prize 2017

Liars have provided the soundtrack for a forthcoming film by Jeremy Phillips, entitled 1/1. Hear/share the first taste, ‘Liquorice’:

Listen to Liars head honcho Angus Andrew’s “Listening to Australia” Spotify playlist below:

Liars have, as a matter of course, sounded radically different with each album, pursuing new concepts and occupying diverse mindsets, from the pell-mell post-punk of their 2001 debut, They Threw Us All In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top, through the No Wave Hallowe’en stories of They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, to the haunted electronica of Mess. But there’s no defining style to TFCF, no overriding concept, as it shifts between sampled elements, brash processed sounds and “real” instrumentation, passages of pointed abstraction and passages of wilful songcraft, avant gestures and genuine pop moments. There’s no mask being hid behind, and the album is Liars’ most honest and autobiographical yet.

Angus grew up in Australia, but at the age of seventeen he lit off on a vision-quest that took him all across the globe. It was while travelling that he began to discover his creative voice, but, he says, “I always had this strong urge to return to Australia, as I still regarded it my home.” 

So, two decades later, he returned down-under, intrigued to see how his new environs might affect his output. After all, Angus had never made music in Australia before. “I wondered if I’d even be able to create here,” he says. 

Angus had been keenly aware of how his location had influenced previous Liars albums. His remote new abode brought with it fresh challenges. “Suddenly, the tides of the ocean became the most important thing to me, because I live right on the ocean now, and to get my boat out in the morning to get groceries on the mainland, I’ve got to know when the tide is coming in, or I’ll get stuck. Very basic things like that suddenly became top priority in my life. And the effect was interesting. The last record, Mess, was made in LA, and had very tight corners and clean edges – it was sharp, programmed, organised. It sounds a lot like living in a city. But now, everything started to fall off-time.”

It wasn’t just Angus’ surroundings that had changed, however – his whole creative process was about to undergo a drastic upheaval. Since arriving in Australia, as he worked on material for what would become TFCF, Angus had kept a line open with Aaron Hemphill, his Liars bandmate and only constant collaborator since the group had formed. “That line, fairly quickly and consistently, began to deteriorate,” says Angus. “At one point I visited Aaron in Berlin, where he was living, and he told me he didn’t want to finish the record.”

Their friendship endures, but the breakdown of their creative relationship exacerbated the isolation Angus was experiencing out in the bush. “I was physically isolated, and now I’d lost this connection with my past, with my bandmate, with the rest of the world. Things began to feel really fragile.” As he reworked the songs for the new album, he realised the lyrics he’d been sketching out – “Just off-the-cuff things about how I was feeling” – were about “this lack of connection, this breaking-down in communication. Classic break-up tropes were surfacing. I was narrating the process of a creative relationship deteriorating.”

Angus describes TFCF as “a super-sad record”, but this mood is offset by the restless creativity on display throughout the album. Cut off from the rest of the world in his remote home studio, with no other distractions, Angus gave free reign to artistic impulses he’d never explored. “I wanted to do lots of sampling,” he says. “I’d done a little in the past, but I’d started to realise the possibilities of the process, of sampling myself playing ‘proper’ instruments, and then using the sampler to put it all together in an ‘artificial’ way.”

In tandem with his embrace of the sampler, Angus also incorporated “authentic” sounds previously considered verboten within Liars; in particular, acoustic guitar. “That’s always been a frightening prospect to me,” he laughs. “‘Real music’, in the worst sense of that term.” But there is acoustic guitar all over the new album, albeit often sampled and repurposed. “It gave me an opportunity to create a sound that was warmer and more sensitive. Which was important, considering the subject matter of the lyrics.”

As he recorded the tracks for the new album, Angus kept a microphone running that he’d set up just outside of his studio, pointed out into the bush. “A lot of the sounds I was working on were samples, they lived inside my computer, but I still wanted to have a connection with everything around me,” he says. “So everything I was recording was in context of the world outside the studio… Sometimes I’d have my headphones on, just listening to the bush, and a bird would fly up and scream into the microphone. The truth is, even in New York or LA, I was still pretty isolated. Here, there are no other people around, but I feel much more connected to the environment around me than in a big city.”

The album’s reinvention of the Liars paradigm – blurring the lines between electronic and acoustic, between the experimental impulse and the addictive pop sensibility – is evidence that Angus’ creative energies remain as healthy as ever, even given the upheaval within the group. Even in his darkest moments, he never considered not finishing the album, still engaged by the challenge of making new art, the satisfaction of exploring new frontiers. 

“I feel like, ‘I haven’t tried this, maybe I could try it because I haven’t done it’,” he says. “The innocence of experimenting with something that you don’t know how to use. And that’s what’s driven the music from one extreme to another, the possibilities of the unknown, putting myself in a position that’s uncomfortable. ‘I don’t know how to write a record with strings and acoustic guitars, what would happen if I tried?’ Using equipment the way it wasn’t supposed to be used, because I don’t know how to use it – it gives me a chance to find a way of using it in a unique way.”

TFCF, then, is another unexpected chapter in the saga of Liars, and one that confirms, for Angus, that there will be more to follow. “Suddenly you wake up, fifteen years down the track, and realise, ‘Liars is actually my life’,” he grins. “You start off thinking you’re only messing around, and suddenly you’re eight records into it. And it feels empowering. It’s all a learning curve, experimenting with new ways of expressing myself. And that’s really exciting to me.”

March 8, 2018

Beach House: 7

Beach House‘s new album 7 is out Friday, May 11 on Mistletone via Inertia Music. Pre-order the LP on exclusive Australian-only white vinyl or CD, while stocks last, from Mistletone mail order.


Photo credit: Shawn Brackbill

7 features standouts including the Valentine’s Day 2018 single “Lemon Glow” [link here], along with “Black Car,” “Drunk In LA,” “Dark Spring,” and their latest offering, the transcendent “Dive”[link here]. All of the songs on 7 began in Beach House’s home studio in Baltimore, and were finished at Carriage House in Stamford, Connecticut and Palmetto Studio in Los Angeles. The album was mixed by Alan Moulder.

Beach House (Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand) released B-sides and Rarities in 2017, which served as a proverbial “cleaning out the closet” to pave way for a new creative process.  Their approach in the creation of 7 was rebirth and rejuvenation.  Scally and Legrand used to limit themselves to what they thought they could perform live, but this time that limitation was ignored.  Also, instead of one long studio session, Beach House recorded when inspired by batches of songs, which resulted in five mini-sessions over the course of eleven months.

Unlike the last four albums, 7 didn’t have a producer in the traditional sense. Spacemen 3’s Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) became a significant force on this record by shedding conventions and helping to keep the songs alive, fresh, and protected from the destructive elements of recording studio overproduction and over-perfection.  The band’s trusted live drummer from 2016 to the present, James Barone, played on the entire record, helping to keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs.

7 is available for preorder now from Mistletone mail order on white vinyl, exclusive to the Australian LP pressing, while stocks last.

7 is our 7th full-length record. At its release, we will have been a band for over 13 years. We have now written and released a total of 77 songs together.

Throughout the process of recording 7, we wanted to rethink old methods and shed some self-imposed limitations. In the past, we often limited our writing to parts that we could perform live. On 7, we decided to follow whatever came naturally. As a result, there are some songs with no guitar, and some without keyboard. There are songs with layers and production that we could never recreate live, and that is exciting to us. Basically, we let our creative moods, instead of instrumentation, dictate the album’s feel.

In the past, the economics of recording have dictated that we write for a year, go to the studio, and record the entire record as quickly as possible. We have always hated this because by the time the recording happens, a certain excitement about older songs has often been lost. This time, we built a “home” studio, and began all of the songs there.  Whenever we had a group of 3-4 songs that we were excited about, we would go to a “proper” recording studio and finish recording them there. This way, the amount of time between the original idea and the finished song was pretty short (of the album’s 11 songs, 8 were finished at Carriage House in Stamford, CT and 2 at Palmetto Studio in Los Angeles).

7 was co-produced by Beach House and Sonic Boom. He became a great force on this record, in shedding conventions and in helping to keep the songs alive, fresh and protected from the destructive forces of recording studio over-production and over-perfection. And James Barone, who became our live drummer in 2016, played on the entire album. His tastes and the trust we have in him really helped us keep rhythm at the center of a lot of these songs. 7 was mixed by Alan Moulder.

In a more general sense, we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny (see “Dark Spring,” “Pay No Mind,” “Lemon Glow,” “Dive,” “Black Car,” “Lose Your Smile”).  The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source (see “L’Inconnue,” “Drunk In LA,” “Woo,” “Girl Of The Year,” “Last Ride”).

The title, 7, itself is simply a number that represents our seventh record. We hoped its simplicity would encourage people to look inside. No title using words that we could find felt like an appropriate summation of the album.

The number 7 does represent some interesting connections in numerology. 1 and 7 have always shared a common look, so 7 feels like the perfect step in the sequence to act as a restart or “semi-first.”  Most early religions also had a fascination with 7 as being the highest level of spirituality, as in “Seventh Heaven.”  At our best creative moments, we felt we were channeling some kind of heavy truth, and we sincerely hope the listeners will feel that.

Much Love,

Beach House

 

 

 

 

Beach House
7 
Tracklisting:

1. Dark Spring
2. Pay No Mind
3. Lemon Glow
4. L’Inconnue
5. Drunk in LA
6. Dive
7. Black Car
8. Lose Your Smile
9. Woo
10. Girl Of The Year
11. Last Ride​

February 6, 2018

Touring: Michael Hurley

Artwork: Michael Hurley; design: Alex Fregon

MICHAEL HURLEY TOUR DATES:

  • GYMPIE: Saturday March 17 @ Wolvi Hall with Darren Hanlon. Tickets on sale now.
  • BRISBANE: Sunday March 18 @ Junk Bar. * SOLD OUT!
  • LENNOX HEADS: Tuesday March 20 @ Lennox Sessions with Darren Hanlon. Email lennoxsessions@gmail.com for tickets or phone Mark: 0418 210 802
  • GLENREAGH: Wednesday March 21 @ Boo Radley Shed with Darren Hanlon. Tickets on sale now.
  • SYDNEY: Thursday March 22 @ Petersham Bowling Club with Leah Flanagan. Tickets on sale now.
  • STANWELL PARK: Friday March 23 @ CWA Hall with Jordan Ireland and Purple Orchestra plus special surprise guest. Tickets on sale now.
  • CANBERRA: Saturday March 24 @ Smiths Alternative. Tickets on sale now.
  • LAUNCESTON: Wednesday March 28 @ Saint John with Darren Hanlon. Tickets on sale now.
  • HOBART: Thursday March 29 @ Republic Bar with Darren Hanlon. Tickets on sale now.
  • CASTLEMAINE: Friday March 30 @ Theatre Royal with Chastity Belt (USA) + Darren Hanlon. Tickets on sale now.
  • MELBOURNE: Tuesday April 3 @ Northcote Social Club with Susie Scurry. Tickets on sale now.
  • TALLAROOK: Easter Weekend at Boogie Festival.

Mistletone and Flippin Yeah present one of America’s last true outsider folk troubadours, Michael Hurley.

Michael Hurley’s music sounds old, like it has always existed, and simultaneously singular, like something you’ve never heard anyone else play quite like that before. This timeless quality ensures that Hurley’s audience constantly renews itself. From the the beatniks in the NYC Village where he started in the early 60s, to the hippies in Vermont, to the Americana fans, indie rockers and freak folkers from the last two decades, and those who have covered and championed his songs — from Cat Power to Calexico — Michael’s music never fails to find fresh new ears. Pressed for a description, Hurley has called it “jazz-hyped blues and country and western music”.

Michael Hurley grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. As a teenager in the 1950s he fell in love hearing the music of Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers and Bo Diddley blast from the radio, and was enthralled by the records of Blind Willie McTell, Hank Williams and Uncle Dave Macon that he sought for his own. This love for music, true and unvarnished, supplied him with a finely tuned musical compass he has not wavered from for 50 years and counting.

Hurley’s early records were released on Folkways, Warner Brothers/Raccoon and Rounder; in 1975, he released the impossibly excellent Have Moicy! which Robert Christgau called the Greatest Folk Album of the Rock Era. While in recent years, stalwart independent labels like Gnomonsong, Mississippi and Tompkins Square have been carrying the torch. A new album on the Mississippi label is due this spring. Besides being a truly unique musician, Hurley is also a cartoonist and watercolor artist of note — the instantly recognizable results of which grace his album covers.

WHAT SOME FOLKS HAVE SAID ABOUT MICHAEL HURLEY:

“Undoubtedly one of American’s greatest folk singers, Hurley has little in common with the majority of today’s folk performers. While they seem bent on demonstrating that all people are alike, such a suffocating presumption has no place in this man’s work. Michael Hurley is nothing like his potential audience. What better reason to hear what he has to say?”
– Chuck Cuminale

“…I don’t know what else to say about what he writes and sings, other than that it is gosh-darned great. What kind of music is it? Hell, what kind of weeds does God grow? Let’s just shut up and listen and go to where Michael Hurley is. After all, we can always turn around and come back. He can’t.”
– Nick Tosches

“Michael Hurley is the last unreconstructed folkie-shaman in America. His songs are primordial tales of the hunt for good cheer and satisfying sex, etched like cave paintings on city walls and farmland silos. Like many characters in his songs, his voice seems to have been run over by the dump truck of life, but it marries human mystery to forthright music like no other.”
– Milo Miles

“Whether weaving a yarn about a mysterious hog or comparing the human heart to a mechanic’s toolbox, Mr. Hurley create(s) elaborate vistas in a musical version of outsider art”
– Ann Powers / New York Times

“Hurley remains one of the elusive masters of American folk”
– Chris Morris / Billboard

“Trusting in his own peculiarities, Hurley makes the world spin just a little bit slower, and a little bit bumpier. Somehow it feels much more natural that way.”
– Jim Macnie

“Somehow, thinking of Hurley, I find myself thinking also of Samuel Beckett. Now I don’t see Hurley having much truck with the modernist strain of 20th Century art, and, as a high school dropout, he would probably be nauseated by the gasbag spewings of the ivory tower intellectual. A true and deliberate neo-primitive, his inspiration springs from nature, the rural blues and the lure of remote hills and woodlands, landscapes that loom in the backgrounds of his comics like vast parabolic gumdrops.”
– Vernon Tonges

October 5, 2017

Touring: HTRK


HTRK photo by Jeremy Yang

HTRK TOUR DATES:

  • SYDNEY: Thursday November 16 @ Cake Wines Cellar Door with special guest Julianna Barwick (USA). Tickets on sale now.
  • MELBOURNE: Sunday November 19 @ Melbourne Town Hall, headlining Melbourne Music Week. Tickets on sale now.

HTRK have announced two Australian shows in which they will be performing a mix of old and new material.

One of Australia’s most esteemed bands, HTRK is the duo of Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang. Owing as much to the unsettling qualities of (David) Lynch and (Lydia) Lunch, mixed with industrial imagery and the surface aesthetics of synth pop, HTRK have struck a chord with fans and critics the world over.

HTRK’s music is layered with enough subtle cultural reference points to attract critical dissection, raw enough to appeal to beer-swilling live crowds, and visceral enough to make sense throbbing out of a club soundsystem. Throw together the core influences of HTRK and you’ll find David Lynch’s unsettling surrealism next to Bill Henson’s industrial landscapes, with Mika Vainio’s minimal compositions alongside the malfunctioning synth-pop of Suicide. It’s a potent concoction.

HTRK formed in Melbourne in 2003 as the trio of vocalist Jonnine Standish, bassist Sean Stewart (d.2010) and guitarist Nigel Yang. After six years in London, Standish and Yang returned to Australia in 2012. They have produced three critically-acclaimed studio albums for electronic labels Ghostly International and Blastfirstpetite, released locally via Mistletone. Collaborators include musician Rowland S. Howard (Marry Me Tonight LP, 2006), artists Pussykrew (Live tour visuals, 2012), artist Laure Prouvost (Poison video, 2013), designers PAGEANT (Capsule collection, 2014) and dance company Chunky Move (Supersense Festival, 2015).

• “HTRK possess an originality and mystery worthy of obsession and scrutiny, for their beautiful and damaged sound is truly, and thankfully, their own” — Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
HTRK will be joined by very special guest, the alchemical Julianna Barwick (USA), whose immersive, ethereal multi-tracked harmonies take listeners to a psychedelic other-world, creating an epic auditory landscape of huge majesty. Once memorably described by Diplo as the sound of “Care Bears making love”, Julianna Barwick’s cleansing frequencies have also been praised by Pitchfork as “among the best and most artful ambient music being made today”. Since her third full-length album, Will, came out on Dead Oceans Records, Julianna Barwick has toured with Sigur Rós, sung with children’s choirs around the world, recorded and performed with the Flaming Lips, recorded Bach’s “Adagio from Concerto In D Minor” on Sony Masterworks, played piano and sang with Yoko Ono and brewed a wasabi beer, Rosabi, with Dogfish Head. Julianna Barwick’s diverse past has also included collaborative albums with Ikue Mori and Helado Negro, a remix commission from Radiohead and her song “Vow” remixed by Diplo. Upcoming Barwick projects include a film score and a music box.