Penelope Isles Head Out On Summer Tour

Penelope Isles are once again heading out on the road to celebrate the early 2022 release of their album Which Way To Happy. The tour will include stops at a number of summer festivals including Primavera, Glastonbury, Ypsigrock and Green Man Festival. To mark the tours kick off this week, the band have shared an alternative version of their track “Play It Cool” as well as the below statement…

“We have been working on how to re-imagine songs from Which Way To Happy for our festival shows this summer…. Play It Cool seemed to fall into place a lot easier than others… maybe because we stripped a lot of things away that are in the album version, so we felt that it would be ‘cool’ to re-mix and create an alternative version, where the arrangement and sonics are more like how we are doing it live. Everything is pretty hard panned in the stereo mix, so the drums are on one side and the bass on the other. It’s kind of fun to pan to one side and isolate things. Inspired by those early Byrds and Beatles mixes.

The video is a little nod to when you feel like you’re in a film, riding your bike or walking with music in your ears. Your main character moment.

As we head to Italy today for some gigs on our way to Primavera next week, we are thrilled to show you this new mix of Play It Cool and a lovely wee video to accompany! We are also playing all these shows below before the end of the year and cannot wait to say hi to you all somewhere along the way. Love Penny Isles xx”

Full upcoming live dates below…

2nd June – Salerno, IT – Disorder Festival

7th June – Barcelona, SP – Primavera Sound Festival

11th June – Bellocq, FR – Very Good Trip Festival

17th June – Edinburgh, UK – Hidden Door Festival

22nd June – Pilton, UK – Glastonbury Festival

15th July – Leeuwarden, NL – Welcome To The Village

24th July – Isle Of Man, UK – Dark Horse Festival

29th July – Bruton, UK – Farmfest

5th August – Sicily, IT – Ypsigrock Festival

18th August – Brecon, UK – Green Man Festival

1st September – Nottingham, UK – Bodega

2nd September – Birkenhead, UK – Future Yard

3rd September – Manchester, UK – Manchester Psych Fest

6th September – Tunbridge Wells, UK – Forum

7th September – Cardiff, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach

8th September – Portsmouth, UK – The Kings

9th September – London, UK – Oslo Hackney

10th September – Reading, UK – Down At The Abbey

14th September – Bath, UK – Moles

15th September – Falmouth, UK – The Cornish Bank

16th September – Exeter, UK – Cavern

Tallies Share “Special”

The Toronto-based band Tallies are today sharing their new single “Special” which comes as another preview of the band’s forthcoming second album, Patina, which is out 29th July via Bella Union. The latest single arrives following a string of recent tracks which have found support at Stereogum, Paste, Clash, Under the Radar, Exclaim and Brooklyn Vegan.

Speaking about this new single, singer Sarah Cogan says: “Special is about longing to be seen and heard by those who matter to you most. Sometimes feeling invisible is particularly painful when the indifference comes from someone whose opinion means a lot to you.”

Nostalgia: it’s a fickle beast, isn’t it? Everyone loves music that evokes a strong sense of days gone by, but stare through those rose-tinted glasses too long and you lose the magic of the present. With their brand new sophomore album, Patina, Toronto-based indie pop band Tallies have found a way to expertly walk that razor-thin tightrope, nodding to their favourite bands of the past while transforming their sound into something tight, bright, and undeniably fresh. 

Tallies started in earnest when singer Sarah Cogan, guitarist Dylan Frankland, and drummer Cian O’Neill began collaborating in late 2017. All throughout their career, they dove into the bands that would influence their sound–the Sundays, the Smiths, Aztec Camera–all while adding their own signature elements; Sarah’s airy-yet-arresting vocals, Dylan’s stunning gossamer guitar work, Cian’s astronomic drumming.

They got down to business quickly and in 2019 their debut self-titled album was released on Hand Drawn Dracula in Canada and Kanine Records in the United States. Solidifying the band’s status as Canada’s leading dreampop scholars, its mix of upbeat pop hooks and heady, larger-than-life production won the band critical acclaim from the indie underground to the mainstream alike. They began work straight away on a second record, which would prove to be an even more life-affirming endeavour than their debut. 

All albums are labours of love by definition of the term, but the recording of Patina was particularly challenging at points. In the throes of the pandemic, the band was torn between the pressures of writing a record in lockdown, and using all the extra time they had to polish and refine what they had already begun. It was during this process that Tallies began a working friendship with one of their musical heroes—Simon Raymonde, ex-Cocteau Twins bassist and founder of Bella Union, caught wind of Tallies and made it his mission to sign the band. Through transatlantic phone calls, Tallies were able to deeply connect with a member of one of their favourite bands; “a light at the end of the tunnel,” explains Sarah.

The juxtaposition of light and dark is a strong theme in the music of Tallies. While many of their tunes are upbeat, with Dylan’s breezy guitar lines drenched in reverb, soaring over Cian’s propulsing drumbeats, Sarah’s lyrics can add a hint of shadow to even their most jangly tunes. Patina’s first single, “No Dreams of Fayres”, speaks of a severe depressive episode during Sarah’s teen years that was mirrored during the making of the album, while elsewhere on the record, “Hearts Underground” describes the slippier side of personal relationships over effervescent indie pop. “I think that’s an interesting part about the music,” says Dylan about these sonic contrasts. “There are these conflicting elements. The music can be upbeat, but you’re talking about the realities of life.” 

In addition to its tight songwriting and composition, Patina’s lush soundscapes were produced by Graham Walsh of the art-rock band Holy Fuck. The album also features Grammy-nominated cellist Michael P. Olsen (Arcade Fire, Drake) and percussionist Peter Anderson (The Ocean Blue), who also contribute the levelling-up of Tallies’ sound. 

There we are again: that balance of nostalgia and forward-thinking that Tallies do so well. Yes, they are holding the torch high for the dreampop fans, but have put in the work to appeal to alternative music fans of all ages. The title of the album’s closer says it all: “When Your Life Is Not Over” an ode to looking towards the future, not back into the things that defined you, but forwards into what you have the power to create. And for Tallies’ it’s clear that there’s much, much more of that to come.

Beach House Peform “Superstar” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Last night, Beach House performed the Once Twice Melody single and standout “Superstar,” on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertNew York Times says of the song, “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.”

Once Twice Melody features 18 tracks, and was presented in 4 chapters with lyric animations for each song. Watch the lyric animations for the entire album now at Beach House’s YouTube channel.  

Once Twice Melody is the first album produced entirely by Beach House, and was recorded at Pachyderm studio in Cannon Falls, MN, United Studios 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.

The album comes out on deluxe vinyl, standard vinyl, CD and cassette today in Europe.

Laura Veirs Debuts “Seaside Haiku”

With her new album Found Light due out 8th July via Bella Union, and having previously shared a video for lead track “Winter Windows”, today Laura Veirs shares her new single and video, “Seaside Haiku”. Additionally, Veirs has announced that she’ll be appearing at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, performing on the acoustic stage on Saturday 25th June.

Commenting on the track “Seaside Haiku” Veirs says: “I took a solo vacation last winter and wrote a bunch of haikus after wandering around on a windy beach in Seaside, Oregon. Later I turned the haikus into the lyrics for this song. I love the breakdown in the middle of this song, how the instruments clear out and my vocals sound very close and intimate. I also love how mixer Phil Weinrobe warped my out-of-time acoustic guitars in the choruses. It reminds me of cold, sandy ocean waves rolling in and receding back into the sea. This song captures the feeling I had of my emerging independence as a solo woman in the world during that wintry time. It’s been a learning curve for me to figure out how not to give too much of myself in relationships at the expense of my own needs. This is a song to remind myself not to give too much, and also to remind all women who are socialized to give so much to others. This song is a call to hold onto our strength and power and to share it reciprocally instead of blithely giving it away.

Regarding the video she adds: “I returned to the beach a year later to make this video. I thought getting buried up to my neck in the sand would be a weird, eye-catching beginning to the video. (Little did I know a wave would almost overtake me in the first verse!) This video captures the threads of unburying and freedom that run throughout my new album.”

If 2020’s My Echo—written and mixed just prior to her 2019 split from her long-time husband, her long-time producer, and the father of her two sons—was Veirs’ divorce album, Found Light is about what comes after. The separation left her questioning her identity as an artist: had that part of her, which seemed intractably intertwined with her partner for so long, been swallowed in the split? Would she ever make music again? Historically, Veirs handled her song’s most fundamental elements — the writing and the singing — but she always left arrangement and production decisions to her partner, even down to the final tracklist. Though she co-owned a studio with him, she never led the charge in it, and she had never played guitar while singing on tape at the same time. Despite having put out a dozen albums, she wondered if she actually had the know-how to make one without him.

Absolutely and emphatically: Yes. Following a string of brief sessions (some with Death Cab for Cutie multi-instrumentalist Dave Depper, and some alone in her own home), she booked time at Portland’s Jackpot Studios, then called her old friend Ismaily and asked him to join. They clicked and opted to co-produce the album. Ismaily offered guidance and insight, but gave her space to make her own choices and invite her own guests, like Sam Amidon and Karl Blau. She finally sang while she played guitar, realizing perhaps for the first time she was actually great at something she’d done most of her life.

Veirs spent months doubting herself, doubting her ability to make an album without the aegis of her ex-partner. But after her divorce, she started writing, exercising, painting, playing, and seeing other people, both romantically and artistically. She was discovering new sides of herself, or even rediscovering ones she’d lost — in both cases, finding new light. Found Light is a provocative document of it all, from her paintings that adorn it to her tales of lovers and woes and realizations therein. Despite the sadness and suffering that prompted these 14 graceful wonders, they are ultimately a testament to the inspiration of independence, to shaping new possibilities for yourself even after great loss. Found Light is a reminder that we are always capable of something more.

Laura Veirs June UK tour:

Thursday 9th June – Norwich – Norwich Arts Centre

Friday 10th June – Nottingham – The Bodega Social Club

Saturday 11th June – Cambridge – Storey’s Field Centre

Sunday 12th June – Birmingham – Hare & Hounds

Tuesday 14th June – Gosforth – Civic Theatre

Wednesday 15th June – Edinburgh – Summerhall Arts Venue

Thursday 16th June – Glasgow – Stereo

Saturday 18th June – Leeds – Belgrave Music Hall

Sunday 19th June – Manchester – The Deaf Institute

Tuesday 21st June – Pentrych – Acapela Studios

Wednesday 22nd June – Bristol – Thekla

Thursday 23rd June – Exeter – Phoenix

Saturday 25th June – Glastonbury – Glastonbury Festival

Monday 27th June – Portsmouth – Wedgewood Rooms

Tuesday 28th June – Guildford – The Boileroom

Wednesday 29th June – Brighton – Komedia

Thursday 30th June – London – Union Chapel

Ural Thomas & The Pain Share “Promises”

With their new album Dancing Dimensions due out 3rd June via Bella Union, Ural Thomas And The Pain today share a final pre-release track, “Promises”, from this much-anticipated LP. Of the track Ural says: “The song Promises talks about one of the most powerful things I believe in, that tomorrow is not promised to us so what we do today really matters. I try not to promise anything to anyone in the future, instead I strive to give all the love to the world that I can right here, right now.”

“Veteran soul man enjoys continued renaissance… His third LP since emerging from retirement a decade ago sounds like a compilation of 70s’ soul highlights: the title track could be Shuggie Otis, ‘Heaven’ resembles the soulful funk-folk of Bill Withers, ‘First Dimension’ is like a Roy Ayres jam session. Best of all is the sprightly, Jackson 5-inspired ‘Gimme Some Ice Cream.’ Throughout, the octogenarian Thomas’ voice is in astonishingly limber condition.” Uncut – 8/10

Ural Thomas And The Pain recently announced a bunch of new UK live dates in June as well as a performance at the End Of The Road festival in early September – upcoming live info below:

Friday 17th June – Brighton – Patterns

Saturday 18th June – London – Jazz Café

Sunday 19th June – Elsewhere – Margate

Tuesday 21st June – Glasgow – Audio

Wednesday 22nd June – Edinburgh – Voodoo Rooms

Monday 27th June – Leeds – Headrow House

Thursday 30th June – Manchester – Band On The Wall

Friday 1st July – Liverpool – Philharmonic Music Room

1st Sept – 4th Sept – Larmer Tree Gardens – End Of The Road

Walking through the residential heart of Portland’s Mississippi district you’ll find a charming wooden house under the overcast Oregon sky. This local landmark is the home of soul legend Ural Thomas, built by hand with found materials decades ago. The basement is overflowing with musical equipment. When you walk down into the room you may see Portland’s Soul Brother Number One at the table chuckling, telling stories and jokes, and espousing his personal humanist philosophy obtained from 83years of unfathomable experiences. He’s often joined by either his generations of biological posterity or the adopted family that is his band, The Pain. You may also find this infinitely magnetic personality ripping through a cover song at full volume or working out a new original with his loved ones.  

Though Ural Thomas is widely recognized as one of the most exciting singers remaining from the original soul era, and an active musical institution for over 60years, his band, all decades younger, are treated as equals. The Pain are no backing band, but rather a well-oiled tightly-knit musical aggregation that’s spent the last eight years with Thomas developing a unique sound of its own. 

Born in Meraux, Louisiana, in 1939, and moving with his family to Portland, Oregon during World War II, Ural Thomas grew up to become Rose City’s Soul Brother Number One. Already an established singer in his teens, he became the leader of the wild twistin’ rhythm and blues vocal group The Monterays – who achieved regional fame and recorded the canonical single “Push-Em Up” for the local Sure Star Records. His success brought him to Los Angeles where he caught the ear of industry bigwig Jerry Goldstein of The Strangeloves, best remembered for managing Sly and The Family Stone and producing dozens of iconic records by the likes of War, The McCoys, and The Angels. Goldstein saw star quality in the young singer and brought him into the studio with arranger Gene Page (known for thousands of recordings with everyone from Aretha Franklin to Elton John to a veritable who’s who of Motown stars) to record two landmark 1967 singles “Pain Is The Name of Your Game” and “Can You Dig It” for the MCA pop subsidiary UNI. Around this point Ural also recorded a 1968 live LP for MCA’s soul imprint Revue and the 1967 James Brown-informed proto-funk dancefloor dynamite that is “Deep Soul” for Seattle’s Camelot label. All are widely admired and continue to be heard at DJ sets and dance parties worldwide. 

Ural Thomas next left Los Angeles to record in Cincinnati at King Records with James Brown’s production manager Bud Hobgood. After the two had a falling out, Portland’s soul man took a bus to New York City where he was featured more than forty nights at the Apollo. Eventually disillusioned with the industry and missing the communal aspect of making music, by the end of the 1960s he returned to Portland where he established a Sunday night jam session that continued for decades. In 2014 Portland DJ and drummer Scott McGee sat in. They became friends and within months Magee had assembled a full show band that they christened Ural Thomas and The Pain. The new group wasted no time performing and recording, touring the world and releasing two LPs between 2015 and 2018.

So few of soul music’s original practitioners of are still among us. Even fewer are still active. And of those, even fewer can still deliver the goods on the same level that made your hair stand on end the first time you dropped the needle on their record. Rumor had it that the complete package of undiminished passion, sweat, wailing, dancing, and banter, the elusive soul man we always seek out, could be found tearing it up in the Pacific Northwest. When Ural Thomas finally made it out east to play at Jonathan Toubin’s soul revue billed alongside Irma Thomas, Archie Bell, Joe Bataan, and other legends, it was his first New York City gig since his Apollo reign four decades prior. Having previously shared the stage with James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Etta James, and nearly any star from the hyper-competitive world of classic soul performance, Ural Thomas was not intimidated. He rose to the occasion, bringing down the house both nights and drenching an entire new generation of New Yorkers in his soul sweat! 

And the band played on… Despite the usual COVID-19 obstacles, Ural Thomas and The Pain finally completed their much-anticipated third album, Dancing Dimensions.  While exploring everything from sweet Chicago soul to airy West Coast psychedelia to Sly funk, their latest collection retains the distinctive sound the band organically developed organically over years of relentless work. Classic yet unmistakably contemporary at the same time, “Dancing Dimensions” is the most accurate representation of The Pain’s unique flavor, power, and musical breadth committed to vinyl thus far. 

Happy Release Day Helen Ganya

Helen Ganya, who previously recorded under the name Dog In The Snow, has today released a new 4-track EP, titled Heart to Heart Mirage. Of the EP Helen says: “Heart to Heart Mirage is a collection of four songs written to accompany and precede the next album, crafted around similar imagery and themes but standing alone as an independent collection. The title comes from a lyric in the song ‘Haze/revolution’ which lent itself well thematically.”

To celebrate the release Ganya has shared a video for “Haze / Revolution”, a track that “explores what counts as meaningful (or meaningless) in such non-material and divided times. This song contains the title of the EP – Heart to Heart Mirage – a line that I felt thematically connected all four songs together. Exploring that liminal space of understanding (or trying to understand) between yourself and another.

Born to a Thai mother and Scottish father, Helen Ganya spent her formative years in Singapore before returning to the UK, settling in Brighton. As a teenager, learning guitar and discovering GarageBand simultaneously became a gateway into songwriting. She absorbed influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Scott Walker, David Lynch, Clint Mansell and Brian Eno: brooding, immersive and filmic universes that helped transcend her ongoing sense of fragmented identity, of being mixed race.

Since moving to Brighton, Helen has been a session player for bands such as Fear Of Men as well as Lost Horizons – the project of Bella Union’s label boss Simon Raymonde. After a short-run debut record, she signed to Bella Union and released her first album proper, Vanishing Lands, a haunting and luminous collection of songs covering themes of environmental destruction, lifted by euphoric melodies and absorbing lyrics.

In a rave review MOJO said this of the album: “Echoing the rich gothic drama of 80’s post-punk, the aerial swirl of 90s dream-pop and Kate Bush, Vanishing Lands unfolds in a dreamlike manner.” It was also specially selected by Tim Burgess for one of his Listening Parties during the height of lockdown.

Since the pandemic, Helen felt a sense of panic and urgency surrounding anti-Asian hate that re-surfaced and amplified in western societies due to Covid. This partly inspired the name change from Dog In The Snow to Helen Ganya to reflect the importance of visibility “particularly for those that move in predominantly white spaces”. She now also runs a regular radio show on Brighton’s Slack City radio called Mixed Tapes which showcases music from musicians of colour in the independent music world as well as interviews with POCs in different parts of the music industry. She has since returned to school and is currently finishing a Master of Science in Climate Change, a subject matter that has been a recurring theme in much of her music.