Bella Union wishes M. Ward a very happy release day!
Having spent the last decade-and-a-half based in the perennially damp Portland, Oregon, the singer-songwriter and producer has learned how to shine through the soggy gloom by simply embracing its inevitability. With his new album More Rain, Ward has made a true gotta-stay-indoors, rainy-season record that looks upwards through the weather while reflecting on his past.
“I think one of the biggest mysteries of America right now is this: How are we able to process unending bad news on Page One and then go about our lives the way the Style section portrays us?” says Ward. “There must be a place in our brains that allows us to take a bird’s-eye view of humanity, and I think music is good at helping people—myself included—go to that place.”
This album finds Ward picking up the tempo and volume a bit from his previous release, 2012’s A Wasteland Companion. Where that record introspectively looked in from the outside, More Rain finds Ward on the inside, gazing out. Begun four years ago and imagined initially as a DIY doo-wop album that would feature Ward experimenting with layering his own voice, it soon branched out in different directions, a move that he credits largely to his collaborators here who include R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Neko Case, K.D. Lang, The Secret Sisters, and Joey Spampinato of NRBQ. The result is a collection of upbeat, sonically ambitious yet canonically familiar songs that both propel Ward’s reach and satisfy longtime fans.
Ward has released a string of acclaimed solo albums over the past several years, along with five LPs with Zooey Deschanel as She & Him and a 2009 collaborative album with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis under the moniker Monsters of Folk. In addition to his celebrated work as a musician, Ward is an accomplished producer, handling those duties for such luminaries as Mavis Staples, Jenny Lewis, and Carlos Forster as well as his own musical projects.
More Rain is out now!
Exciting times for JOHN GRANT. Following across-the-board rave reviews for new album Grey Tickles, Black Pressure the LP entered the UK album charts at Number 5 with first week sales of almost 10,000 (UK) and over 30,000 across Europe. Meanwhile on the live front his biggest London show to date at Hammersmith Apollo on 12th November has already sold out.
Thursday 12th November – LONDON – Hammersmith Apollo **(SOLD-OUT!)**
Friday 13th November – BRIGHTON – Dome **(SOLD-OUT!)**
John Grant’s 2016 UK live schedule can be found further down the announcement.
Critical acclaim for Grey Tickles, Black Pressure, out now on Bella Union:
“With Grey Tickles, Black Pressure John Grant arrives at one perfect amalgam of his peculiar skills, securing a subtle musical balance between the lush orchestral pop of Queen Of Denmark and the flinty electropop of Pale Green Ghosts… A richly rewarding album.”
The Independent – 5 Stars ***** (Album of the Week)
“His most riveting album yet.”
Q – 4 Stars ****
“The confessional king’s funkiest and finest yet.”
Uncut – 8/10
“A magnificent album, enthralling in its complexity.”
MOJO – 4 Stars ****
“Grant has blossomed into arguably the most interesting and original songwriter in contemporary pop, blessed with the strongest melodic sensibility this side of Paul McCartney.”
The Telegraph – 4 Stars **** (Album of the Week)
“His ability to suddenly change mood and find tenderness and compassion amid the bleakness can knock you sideways… Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is variously agonising, hilarious, uplifting and moving: another bravura display from a unique songwriting talent.”
The Guardian – 4 Stars **** (Album Of The Week)
“Musically, he jumps just as easily between gorgeous soft-rock ballads (Global Warming, Geraldine) and funky electro-pop (the wonderful Disappointing). Result? Grey Tickles is a worthy follow-up to its illustrious predecessors.”
Sunday Times (Album Of The Week)
“Grant is still angry, still purging, but with a heightened sense of mischief, both musical and lyrical.”
The Observer – 4 Stars **** (Album Of The Week)
“Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is moving, funny, unnerving and angry; one of the albums of the year.”
NME – 4 Stars ****
“One of the best songwriters since Leonard Cohen – certainly the funniest.”
The Times – 4 Stars ****
“No one takes on the cosmic injustices of existence quite like John Grant, let alone with tunes.”
“The follow-up to 2013’s rapturously received Pale Green Ghosts finds his ability to write choruses the size of Mongolia undimmed… Even as he courts discomfort the range of emotion and texture is impressive.”
Evening Standard – 4 Stars ****
“The music is as winning as his lyrics, a mix of twisted disco, dramatic ballads, strutting glam funk and cinematic techno pop… For all their brutal honesty, Grant’s records are flooded with humanity.”
Metro – 4 Stars ****
“Grant has a fascinating combination of wisdom, world-weary cynicism and righteous anger, buoyed by his typically biting humour – a healthy mix of gleeful and sardonic.”
DIY – 4 Stars ****
“The sharp-witted, silken-voiced singer-songwriter has created a bunch of marvellous songs for Grey Tickles, Black Pressure that barely leave a genre unturned yet are all unmistakably his own.”
Time Out – 4 Stars ****
“A multi-hued sonic delight of swooping orchestrations, buzzing electro and velvet-lined balladry. Grant’s open-hearted, funny and angry insights show his questing and compassionate spirit operating at its unbounded best.”
The Mirror – 4 Stars ****
“An album that illuminates the darkness with rich reserves of art, heart and humour.”
The Independent On Sunday – 4 Stars ****
“Grant holds our attention with unexpected juxtapositions, charming harmonies and sly wit… Too much, in his hands, is never enough.”
Financial Times – 4 Stars ****
“The most powerful use of electronic sounds since Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration.”
Sunday Express – 4 Stars ****
“Bursts at the seams with humour, charisma and personality… What Grey Tickles, Black Pressure shows us is Grant is continuing to turn his hand to new stylistic pastures with ease.”
Loud & Quiet – 8/10
“Moments of sheer beauty and unbearable melancholy make it essential.”
Attitude – 8/10
“A bold hybrid of dancefloor fillers, lushly arranged orchestral pop, and poetic mediations… John Grant’s third effort sees the Iceland-based musician reach a new level of maturity.”
The Skinny – 4 Stars ****
John Grant 2016 UK/Ireland live schedule:
Tuesday 26th January – GLASGOW – Royal Concert Hall
Wednesday 27th January – BELFAST – Mandela Hall
Thursday 28th January – CORK – Opera House
Saturday 30th January – GALWAY – Seapoint
Monday 1st February – COVENTRY – Warwick Arts Centre
Wednesday 3rd February – CAMBRIDGE – Corn Exchange
Thursday 4th February – SOUTHAMPTON – O2 Guildhall
Friday 5th February – LEEDS – Town Hall
Sunday 7th February – LIVERPOOL – Philharmonic Hall
Monday 8th February – MANCHESTER – Albert Hall
Wednesday 10th February – GATESHEAD – Sage
Thursday 11th February – SHEFFIELD – Octagon Centre
Wednesday 15th June – LONDON – Royal Albert Hall
A full list of John’s global tour dates can be found on his website.
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure is out now on Bella Union.