E.B. The Younger debuts “When The Time Comes” video

With his debut solo album To Each His Own due for releasenext Friday, E.B. The Younger (aka Eric Pulido from Midake) has shared a playful video for his current single “When The Time Comes”. The video, directed by actor Jason Lee and Exploredinary, reenacts an episode of ‘Playboy After Dark’ that inspired Pulido while on a hunt for live Harry Nilsson footage. Speaking of the video and the short-lived 1960s show, Pulido says… “Host Hugh Hefner would mingle with the hip attendees and the aesthetic and vibe was that of a casual 60’s cocktail party which included a featured performer. Acts like Grateful Dead, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf and many more performed and some loose interview banter was exchanged as well. I felt like these cool types of show formats don’t really exist as much any more and it’d be a fun way to tip my hat to the reference and style of yesteryear.

Co-director Jason Lee also added… “Getting to work with Eric Pulido and Chris Pastras on the ‘When the Time Comes’ video was like a reunion of sorts. Chris and I had collaborated with Midlake 15 years ago on our Stereo Skateboards video ‘Way Out East!’. And so to be able to direct Eric and Chris in a video for Eric’s debut solo record was really special for me.

“What came before you is why you’re here now,” declares the man born Eric Brandon Pulido. “So embrace both the past and the present.” The frontman of Texan legends Midlake embraces both past and present times for his glorious debut solo album To Each His Own, under his new enigmatic alias E.B. The Younger, released 8th March via Bella Union.

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.”

Early acclaim for To Each His Own

“Assured songs beautifully framed by sparkling arrangements, the defining touchstones are Harry Nilsson and an 80s Californian gloss exemplified by opening cut Used To Be.” MOJO

“An assured solo debut… Swoony Nilsson harmonies, melancholic lyrics about the inevitability of ageing and funky yacht rhythms. All crumpled George Harrison lushness that cracks a brew and watches the sun sink.” Record Collector

“Sunny and upbeat… Traces of Nilsson, the Eagles, CSN and Wings are readily discernible on what is basically a loving homage to 1970s soft–rock.” Uncut

To Each His Own is warm and assured. Pulido reinvents himself convincingly as a reflective ‘70s singer–songwriter, coming over musically like a more well–adjusted Father John Misty.” Shindig

Happy Release Day Pom Poko

We’re delighted to share with you all today the debut album from Norwegian quartet Pom Poko. To celebrate they will perform a free show tonight at The Shacklewell Arms in London. Get ready for a Crazy Energy Night!

Pom Poko are Ragnhild (lead vocals), Ola (Drums), Jonas (Bass) and Martin (Guitar). The 4 met whilst all studying at the Trondheim Music Conservatory in Norway and quickly garnered interest from a wider audience as they began playing and writing together. The group cite a range of influences for their unique sound, including “(West)-African music like Oumou Sangaré and Ali Farka Touré; indie bands like Vulfpeck, Palm and KNOWER; noisy high-energy bands such as Hella and Death Grips; and music with interesting lyrics such as Jenny Hval and Nick Drake.” But you’d struggle to pin them down to one or two forebears, given their resistance to anything resembling a prescriptive approach.

Speaking about the origin of their name, which taken from one of the more vigorously outré films by Japanese animation visionaries Studio Ghibli, the band explain, “The Pom Poko film captures a lot of what we’d like our concerts to be: high energy, fast pace, lots of stimulus for eyes and ears – and most importantly, really crazy and fun. The movie is basically the time of your life for two hours, and afterwards you’re in some state of ex-hausted ecstasy. Plus the raccoons in the movie, and raccoons in general, are really ba-dass.”

The band’s own bad-ass-ery is writ large on album opener ‘Theme1’, which locates a sweet spot between Deerhoof and Battles as singer Ragnhild issues loud, clear rebel yells over Martin’s math-rock guitar. Singles ‘My Blood’ and ‘Follow The Lights’ layer seduc-tively sweet melodies over squalls of sound, while the funk-fired ‘My Work Is Full of Art’ offers a kind of mission statement: “I’ll just let freaky surround me,” sings Fangel.

Elsewhere, Pom Poko’s instinctive dynamism teases uplifting thrills from boundary-melt-ing experiments. Glacial shards of guitar bounce off steel-drum flurries on the rapid-fire serotonin fix of ‘Blue’, before the sweetly infatuated ‘Honey’ comes sequenced next to the thrashing tonal lurches of ‘Crazy Energy Night’. The sing-song title-track spikes the ranks of sweetly sad birthday songs with a rebellious sting (“I’m not your bitch!”), while ‘Daytrip-per’ is a commanding come-on from a band who are no more likely to mince their words than limit their range. ‘If U Want Me 2 Stay’ resembles ‘The Tra La La Song’ retooled as a sci-fi cyber-pop anthem of carefree defiance, while ‘Peachy’ closes the album with an exultant melody and one last declaration of transformative independence: “Watch me as I shape shift.”

Ezra Furman shares “Good Book”

Previously only available on limited vinyl, Ezra Furman has announced the digital release of his covers EP Songs By Others on 22nd February via Bella Union. The EP features a number of hand-picked cover songs including Melanie’s “Good Book”, also used on Netflix series, Sex Education, which Ezra has written the soundtrack for. Read Ezra’s thoughts on the song and EP, and listen to “Good Book” below: Ezra says of “Good Book”: “It’s a genius song. I had actually never heard a song that is about what that song is about: how an audience wants something from a performer and wants reassurance, like, “Tell us you love us with a book or a song or a poem because we need it.” And that was a time when we were putting out Perpetual Motion People, and we had really been pretty obscure. That was the first album of ours that came out where it felt like a lot of people were waiting for it to come out and talking about it and playing the lead single on the radio. So I was just thinking a lot about what can be emotional or tender or beautiful in the audience-performer relationship. That song is like, “Tell us you love us so we don’t feel alone,” and it seems like the best thing a song could do — to make someone not feel so alone.”

Speaking about his love of cover songs, Ezra says:

“A good song takes you far,” sang Jackson Browne on tour in the 70’s. It’s true, and very strange– how these little three-minute compositions crafted on a whim in a bedroom end up bringing us out on planes and highways, into bars and ballrooms and radio stations, pouring out our hearts and lungs for those who themselves were pulled out of their rooms and into the world by the power of song. Browne understood this: he himself was covering Danny O’Keefe’s perfect ode to the bizarre, bittersweet life of a traveling musician, and when I listen to it crammed in a van full of instruments speeding across rainy Germany, it hits hard.

I have always played other people’s songs, alone and with friends, at home and on the road. I know our audiences’ main interest is in our original songs, and for that I’m honored. But I can’t seem to stop playing covers. Every time we are preparing to go on tour I can’t help assembling the Boy-Friends and demanding that we learn a new cover song to play live. I listen to so much great music and just ache to be able to inhabit it more fully. I want to be Beck or Melanie or Jackie Wilson. So this record is me playing dress-up, with the help of my incredible band.

(Don’t miss that point– The Boy-Friends are an incredible band that can do anything, without whom my voice would not be in your earholes.)

Thanks for indulging us in these cover versions, pieced together from studio recordings, recordings made on tour in backstage rooms and hotels, and a live show in Austria. I’d like to point out that we’ve included a song from every decade since rock’n’roll has been a viable marketing category, the 1950’s through the 2010’s. You are encouraged to look up the original versions if you’ve never heard them. They blew my mind.”

– Ezra, December 2015

Hannah Cohen announces “Welcome Home”

Hannah Cohen will release her third album “Welcome Home” on 26 April via Bella Union and today she reveals the album’s first single ‘This Is Your Life’ with an accompanying video.

It was the beginning of September and NYC was in the midst of a big heat wave.” Cohen says of the track. “I was staying with my partner at the time and had locked myself in the bathroom to work on this song.It was very early in the morning, the air conditioner was buzzing away. At the time we were searching for our first apartment together, and had seen about 27 apartments in person. All were gross or out of our price range. It was definitely a catalyst for wanting to move out of the city – and it all came rushing at me. I really needed a change. Locked in a boiling hot bathroom,playing my nylon-string guitar, I realized that this is it… my life is crazy,it’s time to make a big move.”

Hannah Cohen has arrived home. From the title of her new album to the depth and beauty of the music, the Woodstock, NY-based singer-songwriter’s third album, Welcome Home, displays a new level of confidence and comfort with the many creative tools at her disposal. Cohen’s remarkably evocative voice is surrounded by dreamy, swooning incantations, from the rippling ‘This Is Your Life’ and the slow-burning, forthright statement of ‘AllI Want,’ to the soul swagger of ‘Get in Line’ and dramatic vocal leaps of ‘WastingMy Time.’

With Welcome Home, “I don’t feel I have to coverup anything, or not be able to share,” Cohen says. “There’s less to interpret, I’m more visible. And as to reflecting on the past when things didn’t go well, I’ve left that behind. It was all worth it, to make my way to this point.”

Produced by Cohen’s partner Sam Owens, the producer/writer who performs as Sam Evian, the artist began developing the material that became Welcome Home in 2017. Taking her time with the songs, she wrapped herself in the fulfilling quiet of a new home, and a new creative partnership that supported finding a clarity in her writing and vocals. Many of the songs were written on an old, nylon-string guitar painted with Hawaiian scenes of beaches and palm trees (which can be heard on ‘This Is Your Life’), that, no matter the final arrangement, gives the songs a lighter touch, a warming glow that suffuses the whole album. Listeners may find echoes of folk and R&B,radiating with vocal-powered pop production, electronic accents, and bursts of pulsing guitar/bass/drums energy. Irresistible echoes of soul enchanters such as Carrie Cleveland (an early touchstone for Cohen and Evian), Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and their friend and sometime collaborator Nick Hakim blend with the reflective shadings of singer/writer forebears such as Carole King and Harry Nilsson.

Welcome Home is almost brutally honest in its self-examination,as Cohen couches home truths in velvet-lush settings. As she explains, “A lot of the album is about checking in with reality and taking the wheel, being honest with myself and my intentions. Being transparent as much as possible. They’re about exploring why I’m here. And the songs question love – if it’s real or something else, finding love that’s healthy, mature and supportive.”

All of Cohen’s new material was crafted in Brooklyn except ‘Big House,’ which was written in an isolated stone farmhouse in upstate New York where they sometimes recorded, preserving the intimacy at the core of Welcome Home. The album was mostly tracked with a live rhythm section: bassist Brian Betancourt (from Evian’s live band) and drummer Vishal Nayak (Nick Hakim). Says Cohen, “We wanted to capture the essence of the song, quickly, and not toil over details for two years.”

That straightforward immediacy marked an important change in Cohen’s relationship with her music and the recording process. After growing up around professional musicians, she moved to New York from the BayArea at 17, an intrepid adventurer who was drawn to New York’s singer-songwriter world. “New York became my world and my community, and formed me as a person, though I have never felt settled here until the last two years.” Her first two albums, Child Bride and Pleasure Boy, document the sound of a young artist finding her feet on a stage populated by established performers, a very public evolution toward the lived-in experience and command of Welcome Home. The desire to live on her own terms has recently led her to the less-crowded vistas of Woodstock, NY, a no-less iconic musical destination.

‘Old Bruiser’ documents that feeling of escape, specifically a west coast road trip (“Made it back to the city by daylight and we turned to each other as if to ask why /did we make something special just to go and leave it all behind?”).‘Build Me Up’ also reflects Cohen’s desire to move: “Living in the city has such extreme effects on your body, your nervous system, the constant grind,living on top of people and never really having any true personal space. I am naturally a very sensitive person, I feel a lot of energy and people are really intense in NYC. I have been inspired by that energy but after fifteen years it became exhausting trying to keep up with the grind and hustle. I wanted a change of scenery and a new pace. It was hard to let go after putting so much time and work into building my life and community, and in a way I went from one extreme to another. But I felt I needed to make a big move to break free from all the noise. Welcome Home chronicles my last year in New York City before moving on. Onward and upwards.”

Happy Release Day Piroshka

Today, alongside the exciting release of their excellent debut album Brickbat (via Bella Union), Piroshka (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) are pleased to share the compelling video for their track “What’s Next?”.

The timely clip was designed and directed by Bunny Schendler, animated by Bunny Schendler, Sofja Umarik and Jonathan Hodgson and also edited by Jonathan Hodgson.

Speaking on “What’s Next?”, 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-terrorised 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.” 

DOOMSQUAD announce “Let Yourself Be Seen”

Today Toronto electro-psych group DOOMSQUAD are pleased to return with new track “General Hum” alongside its enthralling Zak Tatham-directed video. The track comes in conjunction with the announcement of their new forthcoming album Let Yourself Be Seen that is due for release on May 5th 2019 through Bella Union.

Commenting on the video, the band offer: “We wanted to expand further on the idea of a post-identity hybrid-corporeality sense of oneness which we allude to in the album cover photo, and is mutually experienced by many in the nocturnal hours on a dance floor. Riffing on the source of much of our creative power: our siblinghood, and seeing how we could push that creative power further, we envisioned a state where we could go beyond the liminalities imposed by our bodies, genders, and senses of self. This state, or future form, (actually its quite archaic) is a merging of our beings into an all-powerful super body. It’s bare and vulnerable, with its mechanisms exposed for all to see, yet is perfectly suited for the world today; in its multi-faceted communal nature, it’s strong enough to take on all forces. Let Yourself Be Seen! “

Even this far into the 21st century, the recent social media furore surrounding US congresswoman and free-style dancer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez illustrated that the spectacle of someone dancing without compunction can still ruffle the right (and alt-right) feathers. In which case, all hail the third album from Toronto’s ardent, art-dance sibling trio DOOMSQUAD. Due for release on Bella Union on May 10th, Let Yourself Be Seen is the most assertive, ambitious, groove-sodden declaration of intent yet from Trevor, Jaclyn and Allie Blumas: the sound of dance floor believers and thinkers firing on all personal and political fronts, at a time when we need it most.

Even if DOOMSQUAD never lacked the courage of their convictions, Let Yourself Be Seen ups the stakes. On 2016’s Total Time, the trio issued invitations to free your mind, body and spirit over dirty bass-lines and hypnotic disco jams. And yet, their reliance on unspoken sibling intuition left them fearing that much of its “message and meaning” had gone unheard. Thus, the trio took a more forthright approach for their third album, aiming to “crystallise what DOOMSQUAD is and what it means to us. What we always knew but put at the forefront of this record is that DOOMSQUAD is a project of protest, catharsis and emotional and spiritual reconnection through music and, especially, through dance-music culture. It’s about activating the body on the most fundamental level, into states of change, release and reunion.”

Richly steeped in the influences of acid house, West African disco, spiritual jazz, NYC no-wave and new-age ambient music, Let Yourself Be Seen hums with a sense of vigorous, invigorating purpose. After the overture of ‘Spandrel’, ‘The General Hum’ sends out a buoyant new-wave rallying cry for maximised engagement just when the world seems intent on stifling it. “Is there a place for spirit anymore?” it asks. Kicking in with a percussive bustle that all but defies you to try and stand still, ‘Aimless’ answers in the affirmative.

Elsewhere on the album, DOOMSQUAD’s own dynamic thematic engagement alights on subjects ranging from formative influences to modern societal struggles and eco-crises. ‘Let It Go’ grapples with the challenges of social change at 140BPM, climaxing with a scalding guitar solo to match the heat of its questioning thrust. The mellifluous ‘Emma’ reflects on early-20th-century anarchist and activist Emma Goldman; ‘Dorian’s Closet’, meanwhile, honours New York drag queen Dorian Corey. “Let Yourself Be Seen was fuelled by the inspiration of outsider artists and thinkers before us,” say the band. “Through these songs, we get to glorify some of our heroes.”

DOOMSQUAD’S intent to carry their heroes’ “messages of empowerment, release and spiritual self-determination” to new audiences peaks on the title-track, where the album’s disparate parts build to a disco inferno with a call to “Let yourself be seen!” “The Last Two Palm Trees in LA” offers an empathetic take on a similar theme, based on the acceptance of ageing, before “Weather Patterns” steers a reflection on unity in the face of global crisis to a buffeting crescendo with a thrilling urgency.

The result is an album for fraught political times, charged by the impetus to bring “music back to the body”. Close-to-home influences on that score include Tanya Tagaq and Peaches, both of whom DOOMSQUAD have toured with; further afield, Peter Gabriel, Diamanda Galás, Genesis P-Orridge and Underworld numbered among inspirations. Meanwhile, as the trio’s creative process took them from a lakeside cabin to a studio in Toronto, they benefited from the input of kindred spirits such as Ejji Smith, whose virtuoso guitar-shredding propels ‘Let It Go’. Israeli jazz composer Itamar Erez adds watery synths to ‘Emma’, while a key studio collaborator was producer/artist Sandro Perri, whose credits include Barzin.

As for the future, DOOMSQUAD will soon take Let Yourself Be Seen to the live stage, an environment in which their convictions blaze with exhilarating life. “The dancefloor is our temple – the idea of the dancefloor as a utopian/protest space is the exact belief we carry with us. As much as we love making records, we love performing. The music we make is meant to be heard on a large sound-system. As performers, we are fuelled by the need to be in a live atmosphere.” And thrive in the live atmosphere they will, dates slated both in the US for SXSW and also a run of dates in Europe in May.

And if that need inspires others to voice their shared beliefs, such is DOOMSQUAD’s hope. “People change, ideas grow,” the band say. “And entropy is all around us. The fear that lies in the hearts of the elite patriarchy will soon die off, and the rest of us will be working together to repair what’s broken. And that is worth every bit of positive energy.” An album that honours its forebears by reaching towards a future worth fighting for, worth dancing for, Let Yourself Be Seen has positive energy in bright, sparking, forward-thinking abundance.