Happy Release Day Go Dark

Go Dark are out there on the fringes, two lone figures working in the twilight to illuminate the world. 21st century cyber punk that touches on the sickness of modern life, Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos and Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker are bound by an incommunicable sense of purpose, the two merging completely on scorched debut album Neon Young. Today, Neon Young is the first album to be released on Bella Union in 2019 and we are delighted to share it with. Get stuck in!

“Go Dark is music for women of my kind, the striving maniac animal,” says Crash, “bitches that wear skirts and knives who can go into the woods and track things.” Dose adds: “A lot of music is meant to take you to a place you’d rather be, but this is meant to be a score for the way it is.”

Go Dark emerge from digital ghettos, torn up synths and blunt, punk-edged Brutalism that conjures John Carpenter style visions of futuristic dystopia – except it’s happening right here, right now.

People like to ask Crash about the source of her ferocious energy. The short answer is Chicago, the city she ran away to at 14, leaving a broken home for friends’ couches and artist squats. In time, she’d become an underage bartender, cross-country hitchhiker, and international busker. Settling in Oakland as a painter, poet and resident of the LoBot gallery/warehouse, she quickly met Dose, long after he’d bounced around his own fractured family, weathered the gauntlet of macho battle MCs, and met a cadre of similar rap misfits.

In emigrating from the Midwest to found the Anticon collective, he discovered a legendary breadth of expression via projects whose names ring out to this day: Deep Puddle Dynamics, Themselves, cLOUDDEAD, Subtle. Dose was earning new acclaim for his wild video game scores (Gang Beats, Enter The Gungeon) when Crash played him a demo.

“I’m an on-off switch, and I was immediately in,” he says. “I just want to hear her voice over a nastier beat at all times.” Meanwhile, says Crash, “I’m waitressing by night and basically going to Doseone school during the day, learning my voice and Ableton on his rig while he’s at work.”

2014’s ‘Bitchsword’ and 2015’s ‘Brightwild’ EPs paved the way, with debut album NEON YOUNG taking the pair’s music to the fullest extremes of their creativity. Fidgeting, sleep-deprived creativity, absolutely driven in its sonic obsession, Go Dark presents a DIY scene multi-disciplinarian and an art-rap survivor, the two forging pathways dominated by a maximal soundtrack of glitch hyper-reality, eerie soul, distorted 808s, and manic synth-punk.

“We’re not really minimalists,” Dose says. Crash elaborates: “Our show is like punk-rock cardio for an hour but without a single guitar. You won’t remember us because I was cute or some shit. You’ll remember us because I grabbed you and screamed in your face or threw something.”

Recorded in Dose’s ground-floor apartment in the heart of Oakland, sessions took place as protests over police and presidents roiled outside. There are real sirens on the LP, as well as references to addiction (‘Big Rot’), misogyny (‘Beautiful Bitch’), poverty (‘El Barrio’), and the solidarity one can find among it all (‘The Brand’). The Ghost Ship disaster also deeply affected their community and looms over ‘Get Out’, a song about Oakland’s rapid gentrification.

Ultimately, Neon Young is a record about repression and identity, about the pathways forged when life begins to suffocate, and the lengths that people go to just to survive. “To be from nowhere, which we both were,” says Dose, “and have nothing but your dreams and a desire to manifest them with like minds? That day is done.” Crash concurs, “We have to stay connected when everything’s crumbling. This album is a flag for people struggling with this shit.”

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Go Dark share Slow Magic remix of “Violetest Red”

SantaFe-based electro-clash duo GO DARK are pleased to reveal the Slow Magic remix of their single ‘Violetest red’. Listen to the remix of ‘Violetest Red’ below. 

The band have also announced a string of UK live dates including a performance at London’s Sebright Arms on 12 April. The tour begins april 8th in Glasgow and sees them stopping off in Leeds, Bristol and Manchester. Full dates can be found here

Go Dark are out there on the fringes, two lone figures working in the twilight to illuminate the world. 21st century cyber punk that touches on the sickness of modern life, Ashley ‘Crash’ Gallegos andAdam ‘Doseone’ Drucker are bound by an incommunicable sense of purpose, the two merging completely on scorched debut album Neon Young.

“Go Dark is music for women of my kind, the striving maniac animal,” says Crash, “bitches that wear skirts and knives who can go into the woods and track things.” Dose adds: “A lot of music is meant to take you to a place you’d rather be, but this is meant to be a score for the way it is.”

Go Dark emerge from digital ghettos, torn up synths and blunt, punk-edged Brutalism that conjures John Carpenter style visions of futuristic dystopia – except it’s happening right here, right now.

People like to ask Crash about the source of her ferocious energy. The short answer is Chicago, the city she ran away to at 14, leaving a broken home for friends’ couches and artist squats. In time, she’d become an underage bartender, cross-country hitchhiker,and international busker. Settling in Oakland as a painter, poet and resident of the LoBot gallery/warehouse, she quickly met Dose, long after he’d bounced around his own fractured family, weathered the gauntlet of macho battle MCs,and met a cadre of similar rap misfits.

In emigrating from the Midwest to found the Anticon collective, he discovered a legendary breadth of expression via projects whose names ring out to this day: Deep Puddle Dynamics, Themselves, cLOUDDEAD, Subtle. Dose was earning new acclaim for his wild video game scores (Gang Beats, Enter The Gungeon) when Crash played him a demo.

“I’m an on-off switch, and I was immediately in,” he says. “I just want to hear her voice over a nastier beat at all times.” Meanwhile, says Crash, “I’m waitressing by night and basically going to Doseone school during the day, learning my voice and Ableton on his rig while he’s at work.”

Recorded in Dose’s ground-floor apartment in the heart of Oakland, sessions took place as protests over police and presidents roiled outside. There are real sirens on the LP, as well as references to addiction (‘BigRot’), misogyny (‘Beautiful Bitch’),poverty (‘El Barrio’), and the solidarity one can find among it all (‘TheBrand’). The Ghost Ship disaster also deeply affected their community and looms over ‘Get Out’, a song aboutOakland’s rapid gentrification.Ultimately,Neon Young is a record about repression and identity, about the pathways forged when life begins to suffocate, and the lengths that people go to just to survive. “To be from nowhere, which we both were,” says Dose, “and have nothing but your dreams and a desire to manifest them with like minds? That day is done.” Crash concurs, “We have to stay connected when everything’s crumbling. This album is a flag for people struggling with this shit.”

Piroshka share “What’s Next?”

Following the announcement of their thrilling debut album Brickbat (to be released February 15th via Bella Union) and the release of first track “Everlastingly Yours”, today Piroshka are pleased to share another exceptional track titled “What’s Next?”. 

Piroshka is comprised of former Lush vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi, former Moose guitarist KJ “Moose” McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch.

Speaking on the new track, Berenyi comments“‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together. The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it! It’s the only track on the album mixed by Alan Moulder – before we got picked up by Bella Union, we had an album’s worth of demos but we only had enough money to get one of them mixed!”

The album is named after the word for a missile, which nails the record’s heavyweight lyrics if not the music’s gorgeous, bittersweet and euphoric pop. Think of Brickbat as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – which suits the name Piroshka, the Hungarian take on the wolf-terrorized fairytale hero Little Red Riding Hood.

The connections between the members are a veritably tangled family tree. Before they lived together and raised a family, Miki and Moose were notable figures on the so-called shoegaze scene, while Elastica were Britpop peers. After post-punk pioneers Modern English split for a second time, Mick became a latterday member of Moose, while Justin joined the reformed Lush in 2015. And when Lush required a bassist for what proved to be their final show (in Manchester) in November 2016, Mick stepped in. 

It was the rehearsals for that Manchester show that laid the foundations for Piroshka. “We sounded great!” says Justin. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Mick agreed. “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available we thought, let’s all have a bash, see what happens.”

Though Brickbat kicks off with a squeal of feedback, the album is far from a proper punk record, with as much sublime delicacy as physical force, with guitars to the fore but also electronic flourishes in all manner of spaces. Combined, they drive the nuggety melodic bombs long associated with Miki’s songwriting. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would want to join a new band. In the wake of Lush drummer Chris Acland’s unexpected suicide in 1997, his shocked and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Miki, in particular, “had to get completely away from music. The gate just shut for me.” 

As a parent with a full-time job, it took Miki until 2015 to agree to reunite Lush, with Chris’ good friend Justin on drums. But it wasn’t to be a permanent arrangement. “After the Manchester show, Justin asked if I’d be up for something else,” Miki recalls. “But I’d never made music outside of Lush, and I’ve never wanted to do anything solo. I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough’. When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards – I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”

The blunt, forceful lyrics are many miles from Lush, tapping the current fear and loathing at the heart of society and politics, sometimes viewed through the heightened, anxious prism of parenthood, brutally honest at every turn. Take “Village Of The Damned”, the words penned by Moose (alongside ‘Hated By The Powers…’ and ‘Everlastingly Yours’). “It’s about school shootings,” he frowns, “and our reaction to almost being unable to take our eyes off twenty-four-hour news and internet feeds. You’re depressed and appalled by what you see.” 

“Heartbeats” is Miki’s parent-related lyric, “the idea of closeness with your baby, and then as they grow, you have to let them go off into the world.” And what a world awaits them. Both “What’s Next” and “This Must Be Bedlam” were inspired by the mess of Brexit (“the idea of unity versus disunity” says Miki), “Never Enough” rails against greed and inequality and “Hated By The Powers That Be” was inspired by a button badge that Moose found with the slogan Hated By The Daily Mail. “It feels good to be that kind of person,” he declares. “To know we are not alone in being appalled with what’s going on.”

Bella Union skipper Simon Raymonde had been one of the first to hear the demos; he instantly signed the band, further entangling the Piroshka family tree – his former bandmate Robin Guthrie (of Cocteau Twins) produced Lush’s debut album, while Raymonde’s current bandmate Richie Thomas (in Lost Horizons) is a former member of Moose. Raymonde subsequently introduced Piroshka to Paul Gregory of Bella Union labelmates Lanterns On The Lake who mixed Brickbat (except ‘What’s Next’, mixed by Alan Moulder) and to Fiona Brice (another Bella Union alumni), who wrote Brickbat’s strings arrangements, with Terry Edwards (ex-Higsons, current Blockhead), who played on Lush’s final album, on brass. 

Together, from the feedbacking intro to the beautifully fuggy dream that is the album finale “She’s Unreal”, Piroshka and Brickbat are a wonderful and unexpected union of proven talent.

Lowly announce sophomore album “Hifalutin”

LOWLY have announced news of their second album Hifalutin, released 12th April via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The band have shared a first track entitled “Baglaens”, which is streaming below and live shows are currently being finalised and will be announced soon.

“If you stick to just what you know, your music, your art or whatever your situation is becomes stagnant”, say Denmark’s Lowly. “And we wouldn’t like to miss out on anything, just because we felt too comfortable.”

A band unafraid to reach beyond their comfort zone, Lowly thrive on the embrace of doubt and curiosity. An inquisitive spirit drives the quintet’s second album, which evolved from an open-ended process in large spaces, from lost factory halls to water towers. Released via Bella Union in April, Hifalutin brims with suggestive discoveries from its title onwards. Dictionary definitions include “pompous” and “larger than life”; the word is also antonymic with the word Lowly. However you take it, the result is the work of five people expressing themselves freely as a tight collective: focused, yet fertile with possibility.

Warmly received in Pitchfork, Uncut and elsewhere, Lowly’s debut album, Heba, was a feast of dramatic dream-pop. Yet Hifalutin is more ambitious still. The album was primarily recorded in a 150 square meter warehouse, just outside the city of Aarhus. Band members recorded their parts as individuals and as a group; meanwhile, the producer, Anders Boll, placed microphones in nooks and crannies of the enormous space, all the better to highlight the dynamics between the band members.

“We dared to be even more curious,” explains guitarist and singer Nanna Schannong, “and started recording without knowing where we would end up. This curiosity released a huge amount of trust and confidence between us: we became much more tolerant of each other’s diversity, and dared to give each other space. It also meant that some sketches suddenly became two pieces… or, that eight to nine different pieces suddenly found themselves in one song.”

A willingness to turn their backs on accepted frames of practise, for both recordings and performances, has characterized Lowly since their formation in 2014 at the music academy in Aarhus, Denmark, where they studied different subjects but forged a unique chemistry out of contrast. Last autumn, they played a concert in Brønshøj Water Tower, in the suburbs of Copenhagen, where the reverb was long and pronounced. The band had to carefully reconsider which notes and chords they could play; too many tones would muddy the sound. Pieces from this concert would find their way to Hifalutin.

As synthesizer player Kasper Staub reflects, “We want to give doubt, and curiosity, a voice. It is needed in a world characterized by obsession and goal-orientated living. You don’t need to know the answer in advance to express yourself. If we don’t allow ourselves to forget the goal, we risk missing all that we did not already know.”

Fittingly, Hifalutin is an album of many entrance points. After the glistening come-hither to wandering minds of ‘Go for a Walk’, ‘Stephen’ reflects on death, inspired by the loss of Professor Stephen Hawking. The warm currents of ‘Baglaens’ (or “backwards”) contrast sharply with the buoyant beats cluster of ‘Staples’. ‘i’ resembles a hymnal Stina Nordenstam, constantly seeking new ways into a song, while the alt-R&B-ish ‘In the Hearts’ offers an unguarded paean to connectivity: as Lowly put it: “It’s about the magnificent power of love that transcends everything and connects us all.”

These diverse songs find hidden connections to each other through the chemistry between the sounds and Boll’s productions. And, of course, through the literate, abstract lyrics, which include references to works by experimental poet Inger Christensen and Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. “Our lyrics consist of images and scenes that briefly glide into one’s field of view, and then disappear again,” co-lead singer Soffie Viemose explains. “We’d rather show something than say something quite literally.” An invitation sent from and to curious minds, Hifalutin is luminous modern pop at its most delicate and robust, assertive and open-ended.

Hifalutin will be released 12th April via Bella Union. 

Mercury Rev and Norah Jones share “Okolona River Bottom Band”

Mercury Rev have shared the opening track from The Delta Sweete Revisited – their track-by-track resurrection of Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 overlooked masterwork ‘The Delta Sweete.’ Norah Jones provides vocals for a swelling, psychedelic jazz version of “Okolona River Bottom Band.” Listen below (or via Nylon)…

Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue says of the track: “While sipping concoctions from a coffee cup labeled ‘Near Enough,’ a brilliant mind once theorised that in any large enough system, even the most improbable event will occur. So, like bats in the moonlight, we pinged our sound out there and waited to see what bounced back…and then, much to our surprise what came back was Norah Jones singing the daylights out of our lil’ pocket fantasia version of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Okolona River Bottom Band’. Theorem proved.”    

The Delta Sweete Revisited is out 8th February via Bella Union (Partisan Records in the US). In addition to Norah Jones, Mercury Rev are backed on vocals by an unmatched roster of women across a range of genres: Norah Jones, Margo Price, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucinda Williams, Vashti Bunyan, Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Susanne Sundfør, Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab), Marissa Nadler, Kaela Sinclair (M83) and more.

Originally released at the height of Gentry’s superstardom following her #1 smash “Ode To Billie Joe,” ‘The Delta Sweete’ is an unrestrained statement of empowerment that dips into everything from swamp-rock, R&B-style horns, and orchestral arrangements.The Delta Sweete Revisited’is Mercury Rev’s committed and affectionate resurrection of an album that anticipated by three decades their own pivotal expedition through transcendental America, 1998’s ‘Deserter’s Songs.’ Not unlike ‘The Delta Sweete,’ that record merged jazz, folk, and rock with Disney soundtrack fantasia, and heralded Mercury Rev’s rebirth as purveyors of a unique brand of the popular American songbook.

E.B. The Younger shares “Out of the Woods”

With his debut solo album To Each His Own due for release 8th March via Bella Union, E.B. The Younger (aka Eric Pulido from Midake) has shared a video of him performing an acoustic version of the track “Out Of the Woods”, directed by the Refueled Creative Agency. Of the track and video Pulido says: “Being ‘out of the woods’ often refers to that of escaping difficulties or problems. I liked the juxtaposition of using that reference while also placing goodness within the ‘woods’ as well. Doing this stripped down version of the tune is a cool representation that the Refueled folks captured so beautifully.”

To Each His Own is a deeply personal record rooted in Pulido’s love of warm, glowing rock, folk and country hues that came of age in the 1970s woven with contemporary recalibrations: guitars ripple, sigh and sizzle alongside gliding keyboards over crisp, choppy and becalmed rhythms. Pulido’s lyrics equally look back and forth, philosophising about his place in the world, the choices he’s made, and where they have taken him.

Or, as he describes To Each His Own, “an eleven-song journey through the life and times of a wayward Midlaker seeking to find purpose in an uncharted land. Will he find his way? Listen, and ye shall find.”

Pulido’s “wayward” phase began in 2014 with a break from Midlake, “to invest time in kids and musical projects less physically demanding”, he says. His first project was the transatlantic collective BNQT, a self-described ‘poor man’s Travelling Wilburys’ featuring Pulido, Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Fran Healy (Travis), Jason Lytle (Granddaddy) and Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand) who recorded the 2017 album BNQT – Volume 1. But To Each His Own is all Pulido – or rather, E.B. The Younger.

“It’s an antiquated way of naming a younger member of a family,” he explains. “I’m expressing, simply, that something greater came before me. It’s countering the idea in today’s culture that everything revolves around ourselves, that we’re the most important thing in the world. I feel that humility is a lost virtue – you only have to look at America’s current leader to see just how lost – which I want this record to represent. Honesty, empathy, love.”

In this case, honesty begins at home. Solo debutantes typically distance themselves from their musical past, but Pulido freely acknowledges Midlake’s presence on To Each His Own, from the three Midlakers in his backing band to an album title that stems from his memories of band discussions. Says Pulido: “It’s very common in bands to have artistic differences, and we were no exception. Saying ‘To each his own’ was almost a way to collectively acquiesce and move forward when differences would arise. It’s OK that we feel differently, because both opinions are valid. The phrase is also about me doing something on my own, a statement that it’s OK to define who you are outside of what has defined you before.”

With Pulido on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, he drafted in Midlakers (and BNQT contributors) Joey McClellan (electric guitar), McKenzie Smith (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute), who dovetail with Scott Lee (bass), Daniel Creamer (keyboards) and Beau Bedford (keyboards) from local country-funksters The Texas Gentlemen to form an empathic ‘alt.Wrecking Crew’ of session players. Bedford is also the album’s principal producer, while studio engineer and Centromatic drummer Matt Pence acted as the overarching producer, alongside Pulido, as well as adding percussion and occasional drums.

As Pulido explains, “Midlake self-produced and recorded everything, but as with BNQT, I wanted to embrace collaboration. I’d present songs with just voice and acoustic guitar and ask the musicians where they heard things going, and so we built the songs up organically.”

Within that organic build, Pulido still had specific ideas in mind. He singles out the late, great Harry Nilsson as a key influence. “Midlake songs were often cerebral and minor-key and I wanted some of mine to be more playful and buoyant and major key, which Harry did so well, while still making deep, thoughtful music.”

Pulido also hears traces of The Eagles, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Wings and CS&N in To Each His Own, plus an “eighties vibe” to the record’s freewheeling lead single ‘Used To Be’, inspired by The Last Waltz, the film documentary about Pulido’s all-time favourites, The Band. As he recalls, “The guys are sitting backstage playing ‘Old Time Religion’, and Robbie Robertson says, ‘It’s not like it used to be!’, which has always stuck with me. But it’s OK by me that it’s not like it used to be. Embrace where you’re at, and look forward. Be both the old and the young.”

The closing title track emanates a palpable sense of peace while crystalising Pulido’s past-present/old-young mindset: “I’ve been about all alone / I’ve never felt so good before… And what we did before / No I do not ignore”. With a new BNQT album in the works Pulido is already looking forward. But his present is E.B The Younger, and his effortlessly melodic, gorgeous songs invested with honesty, empathy and love. Listen, and ye shall find.

To Each His Own will be released 8th March on Bella Union and is available to preorder here