In the three years since Portland, OR-based troubadour M Ward released his last solo album – the universally lauded Hold Time – he’s toured the globe, released two albums as one half of Grammy-nominated duo She & Him as well as one with the talented group of friends collectively know as Monsters Of Folk.
Bella Union records will release Ward’s highly-anticipated sixth solo album, A Wasteland Companion, his first for the label, on Monday April 9th 2012.
Inspired by his increasingly itinerant lifestyle Ward set forth to create something of a musical travelogue. He explains, “Between now and when I made Hold Time there has been a lot of travelling which requires a lot of reckoning with what to leave behind and what to carry – material and otherwise – and thinking about what I want versus what I need, creatively and otherwise. I wanted to get a reflection of that on the album. It was a process of stripping away my security blanket, which is the same four walls I always record in.”
The album, consisting of 12 stunning tracks, was made with 18 musicians and recorded in eight different studios in Portland, Omaha, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin and Bristol (UK). Ward’s honey-soaked vocals, deft finger-picking, innate sense of melody and beguiling lyrics have already cemented his reputation as one of America’s true musical treasures and A Wasteland Companion features some of the finest songwriting and most striking delivery of his career. With each and every recording Ward finds new ways to make the colours of his songwriting palate sparkle and his dexterous skills as producer, arranger, guitarist and singer seem to burst into even brighter bloom on each release.
A Wasteland Companion features the talents of M Ward (piano, guitars, voice, production), Mike Coykendall (percussion, bass), Giant Sand’s Howe Gelb (piano), John Parish (percussion, marimba), Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis (organ), Susan Sanchez (vocals), She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel (vocals), Jordan Hudson (percussion), Adam Selzer (bass), Nathan “JR” Andersen (piano), Scott McPherson (percussion), Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley (percussion), Dr. Dog’s Tobey Leaman (bass), Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman (strings), Oakely Hall’s Rachel Cox (vocals), Amanda Lawrence (violin), John Graboff (pedal steel) and Tyler Tornfelt (bass). The recording utilized eight engineers, including Tom Schick (Rufus Wainwright) and John Parish (PJ Harvey).
Ahead of the release of “A Wasteland Companion” M Ward will perform a headline show at the Leicester Square Theatre as well as joining Feist as special guest on her European tour.
Upcoming UK live dates below:
Tuesday 20 March – LONDON – Leicester Square Theatre (£16)
Sunday 25 March – LONDON – Royal Albert Hall (with Feist)
Monday 26 March – MANCHESTER – Apollo (with Feist)
Tuesday 27 March – GLASGOW – Royal Concert Hall (with Feist)
Poor Moon is Christian Wargo (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls), Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards). The band, named for frontman and primary songwriter Christian Wargo’s favorite Canned Heat song, began four years ago as a long-distance project with demos being created and sent back and forth while Wargo and Wescott were touring in support of the Fleet Foxes 2008 self-titled debut and Ian and Peter were living in the Bay area. Their first shows were at intimate Seattle house parties where they used playful throwaway monikers like Rabbit Kingdom and Cookie Mask. It wasn’t until the band opened up for Daekon at Seattle’s Neumos that things began to really take form. Recording began and the four longtime friends became a band and Bella Union (and Sub Pop in the US) didn’t hesitate to pursue them with unabashed enthusiasm. And it worked!
Illusion was recorded in a variety of bedrooms, practice spaces, the Murray residence, as well as AVAST! and Fastback studios in Seattle, Washington with the help of engineer Jared Hankins with guest performances by many a musician friend.
You can download the EP track People In Her Mind on the Soundcloud link below:
Just before Christmas we announced that post-rock heroes Dirty Three will make their long-awaited return on Monday 27th February with a new album titled Toward The Low Sun… And now we’re very happy to share with you the first taste of music from this exceptional record in the shape of Rising Below. It is everything you could hope from a Dirty Three song, beginning slowly and subtly before erupting into a cacophony of noise. Speaking about the material Warren Ellis remarks ‘Dirty Three has always been about the way we play together and feed off each other. We wanted this one to be a return to the more improvised and instinctive approach of the earlier recordings’…
Dirty Three will be bringing their wondrous live show to these shores in May & June to play two festival dates:
Saturday 26 May – LONDON, ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror @ Alexander Palace
Friday 8th – Sunday 10th June – NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, No Direction Home Festival
Bella Union are pleased to announce that their rising stars Lanterns On The Lake will be joining label-mates Explosions In The Sky as special guests on their UK tour in late January. A pleasing synchronicity of band names and music if ever there was one!
Sunday 22 January – BELFAST – Mandela Hall (with Explosions In The Sky)
Monday 23 January – GLASGOW – Academy (with Explosions In The Sky)
Tuesday 24 January – LEEDS – Academy (with Explosions In The Sky)
Wednesday 25 January – GATESHEAD – The Sage (with Explosions In The Sky)
Friday 27 January – LONDON – Brixton Academy (with Explosions In The Sky)
Andrew Bird’s much-anticipated twelfth album, Break It Yourself, is due on Monday 5th March on Bella Union, and we have the artwork and tracklist for you here. Produced by Bird, the album was recorded at his barn in Western Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River. Break It Yourself follows Bird’s 2009 full length release Noble Beast, which was hailed as his “most instantly inviting album by far” by the Los Angeles Times while Rolling Stone praised him for “fusing…emotive indie rock with the chamber-music experimentalism of his early recordings.”
Andrew Bird ‘Break It Yourself’
1. Desperation Breeds…
3. Danse Caribe
4. Give it Away
6. Lazy Projector
7. Near Death Experience Experience
8. Behind the Barn
10. Orpheo Looks Back
12. Fatal Shore
13. Hole in the Ocean Floor
Andrew Bird will celebrate the release of Break It Yourself with a string of European shows that will include a SOLD OUT show at The Barbican, London on Monday 5th March.
Monday 5th March – LONDON, Barbican
Tuesday 6th March – PARIS, La Cigale
Thursday 8th March – BRUSSELS, Cirque Royale
Friday 9th March – AMSTERDAM, Paradiso
Saturday 2nd June – LONDON, Field Day Festival
Saturday 9th June – WELBECK ABBEY, No Direction Home Festival
Influential avant-garde pop provocateurs XIU XIU return with a remarkable new album, “ALWAYS”, released 27th February on Bella Union records. Click to check out the album’s first single and opening track “Hi” -
This will be followed by a UK tour in March, dates / info below ::
Monday 12 March – BRISTOL – The Fleece (£9)
Tuesday 13 March – MANCHESTER – The Ruby Lounge (£9)
Wednesday 14 March – GLASGOW – The Captain’s Rest (£9)
Thursday 15 March – BRIGHTON – Sticky Mikes Frog Bar (£10)
Friday 16 March – LONDON – Rich Mix (£12.50)
The creation of singer/songwriter Jamie Stewart, for the last 10 years Xiu Xiu have hurled a succession of relentlessly uncompromising records to a cult of devotees that values intensely emotional honesty and genuinely challenging originality above all else. Evolving from obsessions with modern classical percussion and orchestration, experimental electronics, a life long dedication to post-punk and the dance floor, Xiu Xiu’s sound is, to say the very least, utterly distinctive and compelling.
At its core, Always symbolizes the mutual camaraderie with and deep dedication to each person who has internalized Xiu Xiu’s work and throughout the past ten years made the band a part of their lives. The origin of these intense bonds is frontman Jamie Stewart who’s fearless lyrics have given voice to life’s most untouchable and taboo subjects.
Stewart’s willingness to broach any subject finds him confronting both the topical and the intimate in equally meaningful ways: “Factory Girls” chronicles the sexual objectification and desperate existence of Chinese female, migrant workers, whilst “Joey’s Song” seeks to bring comfort to Stewart’s brother in the aftermath of a family tragedy.
But while such writing is worthy of admiration, Always’ most arresting moments lie in its sonic innovation – transforming avant popelements from an undertone into a bright black focal point while adding newinfluences such a choral music, kraut rock and field recordings. That such dazzling music can so seamlessly blend with such undeniably dark content is but one of the ways Always succeeds in accentuating the intent that is central to all Xiu Xiu creates.
“Always” was produced by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier and mixed by John Congleton (Antony and the Johnsons, Explosions In The Sky, the Roots).
Laura Veirs Tumble Bee UK Takeover…
Laura Veirs will be performing across the UK in a few weeks in support of her latest record, Tumble Bee. The dates include a free performance at the V&A Museum of Childhood, and support sets from Alessi’s Ark.
29.01 – London, Museum of Childhood (4pm, Free)
30.01 – London, Queen Elizabeth Hall (w/Alessi’s Ark)
31.01 – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms (w/Alessi’s Ark)
01.02 – Salford, The Lowry (w/Alessi’s Ark)
02.02 – Gateshead, Sage Hall 2 (w/Alessi’s Ark)
03.02 -Glasgow, Celtic Connections
04.02 – MAC, Birmingham (3.30pm, Free)
04.02 – The Library, Birmigham (w/Alessi’s Ark)
On the weekend of the 25th-27th May 2012 at Alexandra Palace, London, All Tomorrow’s Parties present the second UK I’ll Be Your Mirror event. Tickets are on sale now via ATPFestival.com.
We went along last year to see Beach House perform, and this year we shall certainly be heading back – Dirty Three will perform on Saturday 26th of May on a day curated by Mogwai. More information can be found here.
Dirty Three will release their first album in 6 years, Toward The Low Sun, in March 2012.