Laura Veirs announces My Echo

Laura Veirs has announced news of her eleventh solo album My Echo released 23rd October via Bella Union. The album features guest appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward and others. Veirs has shared a first track, “Burn Too Bright”, inspired by the late Richard Swift.

Of the track Veirs says: “I wrote about a million versions of this song before landing on this version at the end of the recording session for my new album last summer. Sometimes a song pours out fully finished and sometimes I need to wrack my brain and try many different approaches until it feels right. This one messed with me for a long time and I almost gave up on it – but I’m glad I persevered because this is one of my favorite tracks on the new album. The song was inspired by the passing of the great NW producer and musician Richard Swift. I didn’t know him personally but he was a close friend to many in my community and I admire his artistry a lot. His death got me thinking about people who seem to ‘burn too bright’ for this world. The song is dedicated to the many bright, artistic and heroic souls who have sadly left this plane too soon.” 

Of the video Veirs adds: “In March I had been walking my dog around the neighborhood thinking about how to make a cool video with sidewalk chalk and this concept came to mind. It was shot by Lance Bangs right before lockdown. It was drawn be me, my two sons Oz (7) and Tennessee (10) and our babysitter Lori VanRavenhorst over the course of 8 hours in a church parking lot in NE Portland. Much of the video was shot from the ground; I love how the entire piece is revealed in the final drone shot. The next day rains came and washed the chalk away. Much of my new album is about disintegration, death and the ephemeral nature of things, so the making – and nature’s taking away – of this giant chalk drawing fits well into the album’s overall concept.” 

My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album. My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a “Secret Poetry Group” that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.
In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.
Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (Turquoise Walls). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (Memaloose Island). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (Vapor Trails and All the Things). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (Freedom Feeling). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (Another Space and Time).

Produced by Tucker Martine in the summer and fall of 2019 in Portland, OR. Includes appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward and others.”

Liela Moss shares ‘Turn Your Back Around’

With the release of her new solo album Who The Power less than two weeks away on 7th August, and having previously shared the tracks ‘Atoms At Me’ and ‘Watching The Wolf’, Liela Moss has today shared a video for “Turn Your Back Around”, the compelling opening track from the LP. Of the track Moss says: As its almost game over for the planet, I’m enjoying one filthy upbeat downhearted close-your-eyes-and-dance by-yourself pop song and offering it as a parting gift to Mother Earth. It’s a lament, at an urgent bpm.” Watch below to check out some impressive freeform dance-by-yourself moves by Moss.

Who The Power’s choruses ascend the stratosphere, the percussion booms and melodies have a stadium-friendly reach.” MOJO

“There’s an urgency to these 10 songs, with Moss embracing the 80s goth sounds recently favoured by Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, with propulsive electronic beats underpinning her biting lyrics. It feels like a very contemporary album, succinctly unpicking our shared worries over the state of the world.” Uncut

“If you’re going to deconstruct the modern psyche,” says Liela Moss, “you might as well dance to it.” On her second solo album, Who the Power, Moss fulfils that remit with all the power its title calls for. After 2018’s deeply personal My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth – a debut solo album at times serene, at others stormy, on every front sumptuous – Moss entered a period of profound creative and personal self-reflection. When she emerged, she forged an album of questioning intensity and synth-loaded drama, with the expressive force in her voice refuelled by the urgent desire to interrogate the role of selfhood in fraught times. And, crucially, backed by the urgent grooves needed for the job.

As Moss says of her feelings during the build-up to the album: “To make music for the sake can sometimes feel like a narcissistic thing to do, and very reflective of our times. So much of being a musician and live performer is about projecting energy outward, which can be a beautiful and powerful thing. I experienced a good round of that over previous years, and now wanted to explore my fears of tipping the scales the other way: why should I continue to re-enact the narcissistic habits of our generation, desperate for validation, desperate for space, for ‘a platform’?” 

With Moss’ new life as a parent at a time of ecological and political upheaval also very much in mind, she entered a period of “hardcore self-enquiry” that included a return to a 10-day stay at a silent Vipassana Meditation centre. Determined to avoid “content for content’s sake”, Moss’ intent was to cleanse her palate and anatomise her motivations to make music. “Fucking about with some demos to justify my existence,” she says, “was not an option.”

Duly, evidence of “fucking about” is notable only by its absence on album opener “Turn Your Back Around”, a yearning eco-lament set to banked synths over a propulsive beat. Or, as Moss puts it: “One filthy, upbeat, downhearted, close-your-eyes-and-dance-by-yourself pop song, offered as a parting gift to Mother Earth.” “Watching the Wolf” is another forthright song for today, its brooding, near-gothic swagger framing a righteous modern-day folk tale about wolves converging to unseat a toxic political pundit. A controlled rage shows in Moss’s voice, which grows more liberated still amid the simmering darkwave throb of “Atoms at Me”, where Moss issues a call to free the senses from the call to consume. 

That sense of freedom further shows in the album’s dynamic focus and passion. The near-ceremonial “Always Sliding” draws power from the idea of impermanence, from the call to “keep searching”. “The Individual” sets a Paradise Lost-ish narrative to a sulphurous bass-line and lunging synths, while the graceful synths and infectious melody of “White Feather” frame lyrics with teeth. “‘White Feather’ is a lament for the earth, sung with fingers crossed behind my back,” explains Moss. “Humanity is losing connection with something vital, and willingly letting itself slip into an abyss. This isn’t as simple as my reaction to the distressing reality of environmental damage; it is my thoughts on our lousy behaviour to one another.” 

Elsewhere, the moody elegance of “Battlefield” and bruised plea of “Nummah” rank among Moss’s finest vocal performances – tall praise. “Suako” offers pulsing synth-rock impetus to risk starting anew, while the blissful “Stolen Careful” ends the album on a palpable note of revitalisation, all risks rewarded as Moss emerges refreshed in her hunger to explore new, meaningful ways to engage with the world.

As with the widely acclaimed My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth, that engagement took place close to home. Working again with partner/producer Toby Butler, Moss wrote and recorded the album in their studio in Somerset, where they live with their child. The difference this time, she explains, was a desire “to create something more urgent”, which captured a sense of renewal while conveying a strong sense of despair at modern culture. “Perhaps that oscillating energy is best expressed musically via machines. We spent much of our time playing with vintage synths and drum machines, building a more visceral palette. I wanted the album to convey a depth of field, to be multi-layered yet feel simple, and to groove.”

Widescreen ambitions fulfilled, the result is another bold leap forwards for one of alt-rock’s most magnetic, exploratory voices. Over 14 years, Moss’s work with the Duke Spirit (on pause) ranged from brawling riff-rock to more cinematic ventures. Other gigs have included synth-rock recordings with Butler under the name Roman Remains and various collaborative ventures – with UNKLE, Nick Cave, Giorgio Moroder and Lost Horizons, as well as serving as muse for fashion icons Alexander McQueen and Phillip Lim, among others.

If My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth offered a haunting snapshot of Moss’ restlessly intuitive instincts, Who the Power repurposes and refuels those instincts, standing as fertile testament to the potential in Moss’ self-possessed yet receptive way of working. As she puts it, “My offering is only mine. It lacks ubiquity. Crucially, it doesn’t seek to rob from others. In actual fact it only has to feed three mouths, under the shelter they need, and provide enough time to nourish their minds so that they can in turn be in the productive service of others. It doesn’t need to win to succeed. Just to be understood for what it is, is enough.” Now that’s a beautiful and powerful thing, indeed. 

Happy Release Day Psychic Markers

Having only released their self-titled album back in May this year, London band Psychic Markers today share a whole new collection of songs on their mixtape Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque. Previously only available as a bonus cassette, the mixtape is available digitally to stream and buy.

The album, split into two parts, was recorded during lockdown between London and Paris, where band members Leon Dufficy and Steven Dove were holed up respectively. Initially recorded as a bonus cassette for the self-titled album Psychic MarkersBlue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque is a collection of new ideas manifesting, as Steven Dove mentions… 

“I spent a lot of lockdown waiting impatiently for books and other goodies to be delivered, one of which was Richard Bruatigan’s ‘In Watermelon Sugar’ who you can hear reading the poem “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace” on the final track. The rest of my time was spent watching movies, eating and making this record, ’Sucre de la Pasteque’, or in English ‘Watermelon Sugar’. In contrast with most musical projects there was no grand plan here, I wanted to make something inspired by how I was feeling on a day to day basis. I knew I had a limited supply of equipment and only a pair of headphones so I relied heavily on my imagination, which thankfully had plenty of time to drift off on various tangents.” 

“There was also an emphasis on having my location influence the songs (I was in Paris), most obviously on the duet ‘Speechless Implications’ in which the lyrics are sung in both English and French, a bi-lingual pop song of sorts. Above all it gave me the freedom to write and record in a manner reminiscent of the days starting out making music, hopefully it comes across this way.”

Leon Dufficy also gives his take on the creation of this new collection of songs… “One morning I was in an internet rabbit hole looking for vibes/visuals to accompany the band and I stumbled across some footage of a 60’s housewife taking LSD for the first time. The way she describes what it was doing to her mind/body, a sort of hope wrapped up in sadness or nostalgia for a forgotten memory or an unknown future. It directly resonated with me, I tried to keep that feeling present through my side of the tape.  

These are weird times and it makes you think about the real things like friends and family, these feelings crept their way into my songs. The last track has my 3-year-old son Orbison singing a song he wrote, in other parts you can hear nature recordings that were made in my mums’ backyard in Australia. It was my way of keeping them close to me while we waited out the days.”

Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque is available to order HERE.

Lanterns On The Lake nominated for Mercury Prize

A proud and happy day for Bella Union. Today sees one of our core acts Lanterns On The Lake shortlisted for the Mercury Prize 2020 for their acclaimed album Spook The Herd, released in February via the label. Of being nominated for the award vocalist Hazel Wilde says: “We’ve always put our hearts into the music we make – but never more so than with this album. We’re especially proud of this one. So to have it recognised in this way means more than I can say. With the tours being cancelled and everything being put on hold it was crushing to think that the record could be forgotten about. Then, right when we thought the story was over for this album, it gets nominated for the Mercury Prize. What a beautiful plot twist.”

Acclaim for Spook The Herd:

“With this brave, political LP, Lanterns On The Lake have found their time… Hazel Wilde’s words are clear, emphatic and beautifully sung… The songs are shimmering and sharply defined; infused with melody and searing musical ideas.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“It’s reassuring to know that raw beauty can still be found within the groove of vinyl, of which this Newcastle band’s fourth LP provides rich evidence.” Record Collector – 5 stars *****

“A glorious shot of potent romanticism… While the songs are Lanterns’ leanest yet, fusing dream pop melodies with Paul Gregory’s soaring post-rock guitar, it’s Hazel Wilde’s lyrics that quicken the pulse. If we are sleepwalking towards apocalypse, Lanterns are here to sing us out in style.” Long Live Vinyl – 9/10

“Succeeds in painting atmospheric images, with elliptical poetry set against dreamy, FX-laden guitars, twinkly pianos and jagged beats… Lanterns On The Lake can be quietly magnificent.” Uncut

“Poised, rising and falling soundscapes… From the yearning Every Atom to the bittersweet Baddies, every track trembles with individual intensity… A Northern powerhouse.” PROG

“Mesmerising… There is an extra urgency and bite on the fourth album from a band that commonly trades in hazy loveliness… It gradually reveals itself to be rather wonderful.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“A masterpiece… This album is all the proof you needed that their excellence was staring right at you all along, you just failed to truly see it.” Music OMH – 5 stars*****

“Musically elegant, emotionally eloquent, and absolutely vital.” The Line Of Best Fit – 9/10  

“A fitting record of our times.” God Is In The TV – 9/10

Psychic Markers share ‘Blue Dreams’

Psychic Markers share another hypnotic track from their upcoming mixtape Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque. Today’s shared track, titled ‘Blue Dreams’, uses a sample of a 60’s housewife reflecting on taking LSD for the first time, set against a dreamy soundscape. 

Of the track Dufficy states…”One morning I was in an internet rabbit hole and I stumbled across some footage of a 60’s housewife taking LSD for the first time. The way she describes what it was doing to her mind/body, a sort of hope wrapped up in sadness or nostalgia for a forgotten memory or an unknown future… It directly resonated with me.

These are weird times and it makes you think about the real things like friends and family, these feelings crept their way into my songs. The last track has my 3-year-old son Orbison singing a song he wrote, in other parts you can hear nature recordings that were made in my mums’ backyard in Australia. It was my way of keeping them close to me while we waited out the days.” 

The album, split into two parts, was recorded during lockdown between London and Paris, where band members Leon Dufficy and Steven Dove were holed up respectively. Initially recorded as a bonus cassette for the self-titled album Psychic Markers, Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque is a collection of new ideas manifesting and will be available digitally on Friday 24th July.

I Break Horses shares I Live At Night (Live At Night)

Having released her new album Warnings on May 8th via Bella Union, I Break Horses today shares a live video performance for “I Live At Night”, which is also now available digitally on streaming platforms. The video recorded live in Lindén’s back garden was originally broadcast as part of the Bella Union ILOVERECORDSTORES day celebrations.

“Vivid, noirish narratives that are well-set to their masterful, atmospheric music” NME – 8/10

“A beautiful record tempered to a slower pace of life.” The Line of Best Fit

“The best I Break Horses album so far, which fulfils their Beach House-go-Kraftwerk promise, in metronomic, reverie-inducing songs… Hypnotic stuff.” Q – 4 stars ****

“The music is statelier than ever: a hypnotic, electronic take on shoegazing framing Linden’s bleached-out voice with a pulsating keyboard wash and twinkling arpeggios. A mood piece seemingly reflecting on heartbreak, the album is crowned by the extraordinary, seven-minutes-plus ‘Death Engine’, where Linden’s emotions are at their rawest.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Lushly layered art-pop songs such as ‘I’ll Be The Death Of You’, which channels Kraftwerk with its relentless beats and synth arpeggios, and the epic ‘Death Engine’ on which Linden’s ethereal vocals encapsulate shoegaze at it’s dreamiest best.” Uncut – 7/10

“Lush and cinematic… Linden builds huge walls of sound, one minute Bach-like, the next evoking Kraftwerk, as her beautiful singing voice, midway between Dusty Springfield and Bat For Lashes, delivers lyrics of real anger and bite.” Sunday Times

Warnings majors in the sort of gently woozy homemade synthscapes that defined its predecessor, most effective on I’ll Be The Death Of You and the nimble, propulsive, Kraftwerk-influenced Neon Lights.” The Observer