Having released their album Cheater a year ago to much acclaim, and soon to arrive in the UK for a bunch of live shows, Norway’s Pom Poko today release another brilliant 4-track EP titled This Is Our House. Of the EP the band say: “This EP is both an afterthought and a peek into the future for us. We are combining new recordings of old songs, old recordings of old songs and new recordings of new songs on it, and it’s kind of a demonstration of all the different identities we feel that Pom Poko can have; hammering fuzz-rock grooves, soft and yearning melodies and deconstructed noisy explorations.”
“The band’s pop-punk sound veers between the grunginess of The Breeders, through jumpy math-rock into Devo-esque weirdness… If you’re in the mood for eccentric eclecticism it’s excellent.” Sunday Times
“Pom Poko are a band who make every few seconds feel like a cliffhanger… ‘Cheater’ is one hell of a trip with a rare band who are singularly themselves. No-one else could do what Pom Poko do.” NME – 4 Stars ****
“Here’s a riotous blast of an album to cheer you up… There is a bit of Pixies’ old ‘loud-quiet, ugly-beautiful’ vibe to keep listeners on their toes.” The Sun – 4 stars ****
“the gleeful abandon of the second album from Norway’s Pomo Poko takes them to more angular, harder-hitting places than their debut… embracing the contrast between frenetic delivery and songs with sweet melodies… With the frequently assaultive Cheater, Pomo Poko have revealed their unfettered selves.” MOJO
“Over the course of 10 seat-of-the-pants tracks, Pom Poko make a gleeful racket full of catchy, turn-it-up-loud brilliance… A fun, breathlessly exciting record.” HiFi Choice – 4 stars ****
“A glorious mix of frantic and fun… Pom Poko are one of those acts that are a joy to witness live and with Cheater they have managed to harness that energy.” The Line Of Best Fit – 8/10
“Pom Poko’s music has an explosive sweetness… Cheater is filled with such unexpected dopamine spikes, the detailed guitar work fitting somewhere between St. Vincent’s Annie Clark and the Pixies’ Joey Santiago.” Bandcamp
“Cheater manages to balance fuzzy production logic with heartfelt, cheery pop hooks.” Backseat Mafia – 9/10
“Cheater finds Pom Poko stretching and redefining their own unique blend of mangled aesthetics and creating a ruptured post-punk-pop world that’ll leave you staggered and anxious for just one more song.” Beats Per Minute – 8/10
Today, Beach House is sharing Chapter 3 (of four) from Once Twice Melody, the group’s forthcoming double album, out February 18th, 2022.
Once Twice Melody, the first album produced entirely by Beach House, was recorded at Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, MN, United Studio in Los Angeles, CA, and Apple Orchard Studios in Baltimore, MD. For the first time, a live string ensemble was used, with arrangements by David Campbell. Once Twice Melody was mostly mixed by Alan Moulder but a few tracks were also mixed by Caesar Edmunds, Trevor Spencer, and Dave Fridmann.
Once Twice Melody features 18 tracks, and in the lead up to the physical release, will be presented in 4 chapters with lyric animations for each song.
Earlier this month, Beach House’s “Space Song,” from their 2015 release Depression Cherry wascertified platinum by the RIAA.
What people are saying about Once Twice Melody: “Chapter One captured that storybook quality with sweeping ballads fit for a baroque fairytale, each guided by Victoria Legrand’s typically enchanting vocals.” – The AV Club
“…Their most cinematic record yet. Working with a live string ensemble for the first time, they summon a sound more surrealistic than anything on 2018’s 7, bringing to mind 1960s psychedelia, Stereolab, and Broadcast’s ‘Come On Let’s Go’.” – Pitchfork
“Beach House’s music contains many gifts, but it’s the group’s ability to magnify life’s small dramas into sky-sized emotions that glitters (“Superstar”).” – New York Times
“All of them are amazing. All of them have their proponents. But “Superstar,” while perhaps not the most novel of the bunch, is the one that gave me the spine-chilling sensation of listening to a bona fide Beach House classic for the first time.” (“Song of the Week”) – Stereogum
“Things begin with the stunning title track that mixes low-fi electronics with baroque touches and a stirring string section. You can hear echoes of Broadcast, Stereolab and Spacemen 3 (whose Sonic Boom produced their last album, 7). The hand-drawn animated lyric video, directed by Annapurna Kumar, is great too. From there, it’s the pulsing, kaleidoscopic ‘Superstar’ (video by Nicholas Law), the neon dread of ‘Pink Funeral’ (full of strings right out of a horror film and a video by Scott Kiernan), and the melting arpeggiations of ‘Through Me’ (with a video by San Charoenchai). The visuals for all four songs are fantastic, very different, but majorly psychedelic.” – Brooklyn Vegan
“‘Over and Over’ shimmers, shines and ultimately uplifts for more than seven minutes. Throughout the mesmerizing track, vocalist Victoria Legrand beguiles alongside enveloping synths.” – Cool Hunting
“Beach House has perfected the “escapist” song, which knocks you into dizziness and elation, heightened by those rotating, shimmering synths… it may also have the power to temporarily cure you of seasonal depression. ‘Over and Over,” from the Baltimore’s pair’s new album, Once Twice Melody, is made for those few minutes between sunset and night — when purplish light extinguishes and noses turn red from the cold.” – NPR Music
C Duncan today announces his new album Alluvium, released 6th May via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To celebrate the announcement Duncan has shared his new single “Heaven”, an irresistible pop song sprinkled with retro-synth stardust which comes accompanied by a charming lyric video featuring his distinctive animation.
Commenting on the track Duncan says: “Heaven is an upbeat and optimistic song about moving on to greener pastures. It’s about turning corners, looking to the future and embracing what lies ahead.”
“We’re at the end,” sings C Duncan, playfully, as his new album opens. Don’t be fooled: endings are the spur for new beginnings on the fourth album from the classically trained multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. After the haunting raptures of Architect (2015), the Twilight Zone-inspired reveries of The Midnight Sun (2016) and the richly melodic Health (2019), Alluvium is a sublime palate-refresher for Duncan (C for Christopher), brimming with revitalised fluency: a warming dispatch from the daylight zone, if you like.
With personal stories as fertile soil for its multi-stranded growths, Alluvium navigates its many tones and styles with lightness and grace. As Duncan explains: “With Alluvium I wanted to make a positive record with lots of different musical ideas and lyrics that could move from serious to playful to over-the-top romantic in a fluid way.”
That sense of fluidity buoys up the well-titled opener, ‘Air,’ the first song written and recorded for the album. With the sweep, levity and discreet intricacy of John Grant’s symphonic intimacies, the song sets the tone for an album that knows endings can sometimes sow seeds for rebirths. Inspired by a conversation Duncan had with his late grandmother about her life, the Carpenters-ish ‘We Have A Lifetime’ reflects on the need to let go of those things you can’t change and accept the things you can, a humble design for living adroitly set to a tranquil backdrop.
The nimble left-turn of ‘Bell Toll’ further showcases Duncan’s dynamism, bringing to mind a meeting between Michel Legrand and early Kate Bush. The tender interlude of ‘Lullaby’ follows, clearing the way for ‘Torso’, a love song with poetry in its heart. “It’s about how you could give away every part of yourself for somebody (metaphorical limbs and all!) and yet still be more complete,” says Duncan. “The world around you disappears and all that matters is this intense adoration.
In the clearest case of the lockdown’s influence on Alluvium, ‘Pretending’ sets an account of a move out of the city to a breezy, liberated pop melody. Elsewhere, Duncan thrives in fleet-footed contrasts, setting songs of change and partings to lush soft-pop (‘You Don’t Come Around’), zero-gravity synth-pop (‘I Tried’) and misty-eyed hypnagogic waltzes (‘Sad Dreams’). The title track is a harpsichord-led reverie, ‘Earth’ a kind of follow-up to ‘Air’ couched in, says Duncan, a mix of “the melodramatic and the mundane. It’s apocalyptic on the one hand, and on the other it’s an account of somebody switching off their TV, packing up their personal belongings and simply relocating before the sun fades from existence. It could be attributed to all sorts of personal upheaval but it’s essentially about setting fire to everything and running away.”
The Sufjan Stevens-ish hymnal of ‘The Wedding Song’ continues that sense of exquisite unburdening, before ‘Upon the Table’ closes the album on a note of romantic gratitude. “‘Upon the Table’ is a love song written for my partner,” says Duncan. “We have been through a lot in the last year or so, as have many others, and it is a reminder that whatever comes our way, there will always be love and support waiting there.”
Following the thematically loaded Health, Duncan set out to make a record guided by instinct rather than prescriptive themes. Subtexts emerged of their own volition: of “moving forward, leaving things behind and ending up somewhere totally new and different,” he says.
Behind the scenes, changes steered the record. A move to a home near the water in Helensburgh a couple of years ago proved instrumental. Here, Duncan worked on the album in his home studio, writing, recording and producing himself (he did the artwork, too). “It’s a very inspiring place to work,” he says, “and I wanted to return to recording from home as it gives me time and space to develop songs without any outside pressure. I feel very comfortable working alone.”
Supple and serene, buoyant and beatific, Alluvium moves at its own pace, evidence of an intuitive talent in unforced flow.
With their new album For the Sake of Bethel Woods due out 18th March via Bella Union, and following first single “Meanwhile…” , today Midlake share an absorbing video for new single and album standout “Bethel Woods” directed by Brantley Gutierrez (Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Diplo) and starring acclaimed actor Michael Peña.
Of the track Midlake frontman Eric Pulido says: “Bethel Woods lyrically was born out of a documentary film still of Dave Chandler (Jesse’s Dad) at 16 years old sitting in the massive crowd of Woodstock in 1969. Dave died a few years ago in tragic circumstances and I was moved to write this song from his point of view with a message of peace in returning to that special place and reuniting with loved ones ‘down the road’.”
Director Brantley Gutierez adds: “When Midlake approached me to direct the video for ‘Bethel Woods’ I knew I wanted to do a take on a ghost story. To play with the idea of returning to a place full of memories. The concept of emotional attachment to the people and the memories in those places, what the confusion might feel like for those who have passed on. Working with the highly talented Michael Peña was an absolute pleasure; he brought something to the character that felt honest and relatable.”
Loss and hope, isolation and communion, the cessation and renewal of purpose. Timeless and salient, these themes echo throughout the fifth album from Midlake, their first since Antiphon in 2013. Produced to layered, loving perfection by John Congleton, For the Sake of Bethel Woods is an album of immersive warmth and mystery from a band of ardent seekers, one of our generation’s finest: a band once feared lost themselves by fans, perhaps, but here revivified with freshness of intent.
From the cover to the title and beyond, a longing to reconnect with that which seems lost sits at the record’s core. The cover star is keyboardist/flautist Jesse Chandler’s father, who, tragically, passed away in 2018. As singer Eric Pulido explains, “He was a lovely human, and it was really heavy and sad, and he came to Jesse in a dream. I reference it in a song. He said, ‘Hey, Jesse, you need to get the band back together.’ I didn’t take that lightly. We had already had these feelings with everyone in the band of, oh, this could be a cool thing to do. But the dream was a kind of beautiful depiction of a purpose to reconvene and make music together as friends.”
Featuring Chandler’s father during John Sebastian’s set, the cover image was taken from the 1970 documentary Woodstock. In 1969, Jesse’s then-16-year-old dad had joined a friend and hitchhiked from Ridgewood, New Jersey, to the legendary festival. Raised in Woodstock after his father moved there in 1981, Jesse later paid pilgrimage to Bethel Woods with his father; there, the elder Chandler recorded an audio account of his festival experience in the museum’s public database. “So for me, the picture of that kid, my dad, forever frozen in time,” says Chandler, “encapsulates what it means to be in the throes of impressionable and fleeting youth, and all that the magic of music, peace, love and communion bring to it, whether one knows it at the time or not.”
A desire to commune with the past and connect with present, lived experience asserts itself from the opening of the album. A song that resonates with Midlake’s return and, perhaps, our lockdown era, ‘Commune’ can also be read in terms of a deeper urge to re-engage with sometimes neglected ideals and beliefs. ‘Bethel Woods’ sustains and develops that reconnection, evoking the steadfast and contemplative urgency of The Trials of Van Occupanther to back a lyric steeped in yearning for a paradisal time and place of hope and optimism. Soaring guitars and atmospheric noise effects extend a sonic scope further developed by ‘Glistening,’ where arpeggios dance like light glancing off a lake. In just three songs, Midlake reintroduce themselves and reach out into fresh territory with a richly intuitive dynamism, honouring their past as a seedbed of possibility.
The psychedelic space-rock and sticky guitars of ‘Exile’ shift the album to another plane, promising rich returns live, before ‘Feast of Carrion’ splices apocalyptic imagery with lustrous harmonies: darkness and light, held in rarefied balance. A deeply personal turn follows on ‘Noble,’ a song of tender innocence named after drummer McKenzie Smith’s infant son, born with a rare brain disorder called Semi-Lobar Holoprosencephaly. Pulido, who has been friends with McKenzie since they were 16 years old, kept McKenzie in mind for the lyrics. “I wrote the song from his perspective in a way, his expression to me of how he had been feeling towards his son. And then among the lament of his condition, it’s also embracing this child who has only joy. Noble doesn’t know that he has a condition, he just loves life. And smiles, and is so innocent, and perfect in so many ways.”
Elsewhere, the prog-enhanced funk-rock of ‘Gone’ seeks to find hope in relationships that seem fragile. The ELO-esque ‘Meanwhile…’ draws inspiration from what happened when Midlake paused after Antiphon, developing universal resonance as a song about the beautiful growths that can emerge from the cracks and gaps between things. ‘Finally, ‘Of Desire’ meditates on letting go of what you can’t control and attending to what you can during uncertain times.
Midlake began re-attending to their patch in 2019, with the bulk of the album’s work undertaken when the world shut down in 2020. The lockdown turned out to be helpful, in terms of offering an escape from grim reality and focusing the band’s energies – essential for an outfit whose members (Pulido, Chandler, Smith, Eric Nichelson and Joey McClellan) had all pursued alternative ventures following Antiphon. Also on-hand was new collaborator John Congleton, who produced, engineered and mixed the album, marking Midlake’s first record with an outside producer. “I can’t say enough just how much his influence brought our music to another sonic place than we would have,” says Pulido. “I don’t want to record without a producer again. Part of that is the health of the band, because as you get older you get more opinionated and you kind of need that person who says, ‘No, it’s going to be this way!’ It’s hard to do that with your friends.”
The result is a powerful, warming expression of resolve and renewal for Midlake, opening up new futures for the band and honouring their storied history. An album of thematic and sonic reach with a warm, wise sense of intimacy at its heart, an album to break bread and commune with, honour the past and travel onwards with. In ‘Bethel Woods’, Pulido sings of gathering seeds. On For the Sake of Bethel Woods, those seeds are lovingly nurtured, taking rich and spectacular bloom.
For the Sake of Bethel Woods is available to preorder here. The album will be released in various formats including standard black vinyl and 180g white vinyl with an accompanying signed print.
Destroyer is pleased to announce LABYRINTHITIS, out 25th March via Bella Union and available to preorder here. Alongside this announcement, Destroyer shares the first song and video from the album, “Tintoretto, It’s for You”.
For the first time, Bejar himself played a big role in creating the visuals for the video (“for better or worse,” he notes). “I had an idea of writing a couple lines on the idea of ‘mystery’ and ‘going nowhere,’ as they are two of my favorite themes. That and the Grim Reaper and being pursued by some silent, unnamable thing that constantly lurks one foot to the left of you. Especially as the world’s decay becomes increasingly less abstract. Also wanted to write on the romance of terror. The song ‘Tintoretto, It’s for You’ speaks to all these things, oddly enough so does the video…”
Video director David Galloway adds: “It hopefully presents some loose giallo vibes despite the fact that it clearly isn’t a giallo at all. Nobody dies, nothing is explored at length, and it’s ultimately a collection of neighbourhood red herrings. All leads that go nowhere. But that’s the mystery. That’s the mystery about music videos.”
LABYRINTHITIS is a journey deep into uncharted Dan Bejar country. It brims with mystic and intoxicating terrain, the threads of Bejar’s notes woven through by a trove of allusions at once eerily familiar and intimately perplexing. “Do you remember the mythic beast?” Bejar asks at the outset of “Tintoretto, It’s for You,” casting torchlight over the labyrinth’s corridors. “Tintoretto, it’s for you / The ceiling’s on fire and the contract is binding.”
More than an arcane puzzle for the listener, LABYRINTHITIS warps and winds through unfamiliar territory for Bejar as well. Written largely in 2020 and recorded the following spring, the album most often finds Bejar and frequent collaborator John Collins seeking the mythic artifacts buried somewhere under the dance floor, from the glitzy spiral of “It Takes a Thief” to the Books-ian collage bliss of the title track. Initial song ideas ventured forth from disco, Art of Noise, and New Order, Bejar and Collins championing the over-the-top madcapper-y.
Bejar and Collins conducted their questing in the height of isolation, Collins on the remote Galiano Island and Bejar in nearby Vancouver, sending ideas back and forth when restrictions didn’t allow them to meet. Ahead of mixing, the Destroyer band was brought into the fold to further the unprepared synchronicity and mutual discovery.
Lyrically, LABYRINTHITIS embraces a widescreen maximalism, blocks of text dotted with subversions and hedges. Building from the koans of Have We Met, Bejar continues to carve his words precisely, toying with expectations and staid symbols, while Collins’ production reconstructs the pieces into a unified whole.
In support of LABYRINTHITIS, the Destroyer band heads out on a tour of North America this spring. Bejar recently released a documentary of the previous tour for 2020’s “Have We Met.”
With their new LP Everything Was Beautiful due out 25th February via Bella Union, and having previously shared album opener ‘Always Together With You’, today Spiritualized share a video for new single “Crazy”, a sweet country-soul lament which features backing vocals from Nikki Lane. The stunning video, directed by J Spaceman and partly inspired by Andy Warhol’s Kiss, can be viewed now.
While some people imploded in the lockdowns and isolation of the epidemic, others were thriving. “I felt like I’d been in training for this my whole life” says J Spaceman. He was referring to his fondness for isolation and when you reframe loneliness as “beautiful solitude” then it isn’t so bad. He would walk through an empty “Roman London” where “even the sirens had stopped singing” and where the world was “full of birdsong and strangeness and no contrails.” He used the birdsong walks to listen and try and make sense of all the music playing in his head. The mixes of his new record, a ninth studio album, weren’t working out yet.
Spaceman plays 16 different instruments on Everything Was Beautiful which was put down at 11 different studios, as well as at his home. He also employed more than 30 musicians and singers including his daughter Poppy, long-time collaborator and friend John Coxon, string and brass sections, choirs and finger bells and chimes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. So there’s a lot going on.
“There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it, but going around in circles is important to me. Not like you’re spiraling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of… achieve. Well, you get there.”
Eventually the mixes got there and Everything Was Beautiful was achieved. The result is some of the most “live” sounding recordings that Spiritualized have released since the Live At The Albert Hall record of 1998, around the time of Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space.
The opening track “Always Together With You” is a reworking / supercharging of a track originally released in demo quality in 2014. This new version is a perfect Spiritualized song; a breathtaking, hard-edged, psychedelic pop tune where themes of high romance and space travel collide.
The artwork is designed once again with Mark Farrow. If you buy the vinyl you can pop a pill box out of the sleeve, revealing gold foil underneath, and assemble the Braille-embossed little thing and put it somewhere in the house. The box set has 8 of them. Literally a boxset. It looks more beautiful in the flesh. “Farrow and I were talking about what we should do and we just said, ‘It’s called Everything Is Beautiful, how could you not have a pill?’”
All these layers, all these details, the year-long mixes, the making sense of it all and the lives lived within these lyrics; for somebody so famously unconfident of his own abilities, isn’t this a punishing thing to keep doing? “Yeah, but I like what I do. There’s a line from Jonathan Meades that’s about having all the attributes to being an artist. ‘Paranoia, vanity, selfishness, egotism, sycophancy, resentment, moral nullity and more idiot than idiot savant.’ “And that’s what it feels like, this kind of thing. You’re your own worst enemy and biggest supporter. “There’s a ‘Of course this is worth it. It’s me’ and then this kind of deep doubt of ‘What the fuck is this all about?’ “And then ‘Why is it important?’ and then knowing there’s no easy answer. But it’s there. I know it’s there.”