Happy Release Day To Nell & The Flaming Lips

With the physical release of Nell & The Flaming Lips’ Where the Viaduct Looms out today, they have shared a video for ‘We Know Who You Are’. Shot in the Tennessee caverns and co-directed by Wayne Coyne and Blake Studdard of Atria Creative, you can watch the video below…

Originally released digitally in December 2021, Where the Viaduct Looms comprises nine Nick Cave cover versions with vocals and instrumentation by Nell Smith and instrumentation and production by The Flaming Lips. The album was mastered by Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios. Nell & The Flaming Lips have previously shared videos for ‘Into My Arms’‘Girl In Amber’‘The Ship Song’‘No More Shall We Part’ and ‘Red Right Hand’.

“US teen Nell Smith’s glassy sweetness is a great fit for the Lips on a Nick Cave covers LP. The more gothic the song (Girl In Amber, Red Right Hand) the better the interpretation.” MOJO

“This sweetly bizarre experiment pays off… Drenched in electronic buzz and psychedelic fuzz, these shimmery reworkings of Cave classics are pleasingly free of both solemn reverence and ironic kitsch.” Uncut

“Cave’s glowering menace acquires a new, lighter prettiness when his apocalyptic words are delivered in Nell’s high, youthful voice, drenched in echo and backed by the Lips’ familiar woozy electronic rock.” Evening Standard

“A soothing Bad Seeds tribute… The Lips apply their trademark psychedelic tinges to Cave’s odes… Nell Smith sounds wise beyond her years, and remarkably undaunted by having to sing one luminary’s songs with a group of others.” Record Collector

age of 12 at The Flaming Lips’ headline show at the Sled Island Festival, Calgary, in 2018 with her family. Nell had already attended several Lips shows and was a regular at the front of the stage, dressed in a parrot costume and screaming out the band’s songs. Coyne soon began to notice the kid in the parrot suit and sang a David Bowie cover directly to her at the show in Calgary, with Nell singing every word back.

A musical bond formed with Coyne staying in contact with Nell and her father Jude as she learned to play guitar, while their creative relationship began to flourish when she started to write her own songs.

When a planned trip to record with the band in Oklahoma had to be cancelled due to covid Coyne suggested Nell record some Nick Cave songs and email them to Oklahoma to be backed by the band. Coyne chose Nick Cave because Nell didn’t know him and wouldn’t have preconceived notions as to how to sing the songs.

Speaking about the collaboration, Coyne comments: “It’s always great to meet excited, young creative people. With Nell we could see she is on a journey and thought it would be fun to join her for a while and see if we could get things going. It was a great way to connect with her and help harness her cool attitude to making music.”

When asked about the experience, Nell comments: “I still can’t really believe it. It was a really steep learning curve but Wayne was so encouraging when I was struggling with a few of the songs that I kept going. I hadn’t heard of Nick Cave but Wayne suggested that we should start with an album of his cover versions, and then look at recording some of my own songs later. It was cool to listen and learn about Nick Cave and pick the songs we wanted to record.”

Nells goes on to say: “I’m so excited to see this turn into a real record release. I’m super happy to be working with Bella Union and really looking forward to everyone hearing the album.”

In a pleasing addition to the tale the great man himself has given his seal of approval to the collaboration. Alerted to the cover by a fan Nick Cave took to his website The Red Hand Files to write: “This version of ‘Girl in Amber’ is just lovely, I was going to say Nell Smithinhabits the song, but that’s wrong, rather she vacates the song, in a way that I could never do,” said Cave. “I always found it difficult to step away from this particular song and sing it with its necessary remove, just got so twisted up in the words, I guess. Nell shows a remarkable understanding of the song, a sense of dispassion that is both beautiful and chilling. I just love it. I’m a fan.”

Where The Viaduct Looms is out now on Bella Union.

Happy Release Day Simon Raymonde

Following excellent reviews in the likes of MOJO, Uncut and Record Collector, Simon Raymonde today releases Solo Works 96-98 via his label Bella Union. To mark the occasion Raymonde has shared a hypnotic and visually striking video for album highlight “Tired Twilight”, directed by Jasper Harrison aka DIGISTITCHER the video can be viewed HERE.

Commenting on the video Harrison says: “The video for Tired Twilight communicates the disorientating feeling of coming to terms with a nostalgic yet anxiety-inducing memory of a time, person and place. This is embodied through the loose narrative of a woman restricting herself to the house before setting out into the city in a representative overcoming of her fear. The driving shots of the night-time city reference the woman’s inner turbulence as she moves past her unspecified trauma. Throughout this journey, she negotiates her fond memories of the recurring shadowy male figure with a desire to begin a process of recovery. The final liberation of this repressiveness is depicted in the clouded dancing at the videos climax, as she pushes away the fog of past experience in an aggressive but beautiful way. For this piece, I combined a number of influences including the surrealism of Jodorowsky, the use of chiaroscuro by directors such as Lynch and the tempo of the American beat authors to give the video a morphing, slow paced energy. Once edited, I ran the footage through a feedback visual synthesiser, which enabled me to add delay, blur and strobe to the picture in sync with the music’s swells. Changing the parameters in real time enables me to blend scenes together seamlessly to create a cohesiveness in the edit, with the objective of transporting the viewer into the disorientating yet emboldening world that the protagonist finds herself in.”

Simon Raymonde recorded his debut solo album Blame Someone Else whilst still in Cocteau Twins. Fellow Twins Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie both appeared on the album.

But Cocteau Twins were no more by the time the album was released. Originally issued in October 1997 it became the first release on Bella Union, the new label run by Simon and Robin. And soon after by Simon alone. Circumstances change, and the album unexpectedly arrived in a world where Cocteau Twins were in the past.

Twenty-five years later, Blame Someone Else is being released on vinyl for the first time as Solo Works 96-98 with the addition of three bonus tracks recorded in the same time period. “It was begun in 1996 at a time of turmoil with Cocteau Twins,” says Simon of the album now. “At the time, I was unsure if I should make the album but my band-mates were extremely supportive, and their encouragement helped me get the record finished. It took me 25 years to feel comfortable with these songs being available again. We all have hurdles to get over before we can feel ready to let go of certain things. Today, I feel that the first-ever release on Bella Union should once again be an active part of the label’s history, if only to bookmark these first 25 years.”

Time changes context. Perspectives too. But the impact, scope and sensitivity of Solo Works 96-98 remain unaffected. During the opening track “It’s A Family Thing” Simon sings of yearning for stability, acknowledging the hesitation inherent to stepping out on his own. “In My Place” is more explicit – if he’s losing face, it’s his face. This one is on him. Versions of touchstone songs by Television and Scott Walker further state that this his own endeavour.

Any intimations of uncertainty evaporate as the album ends with the sonic whirlpool “Tired Twilight,” a seamless union of the impressionistic and rhythmic. Ultimately, knowing the dates and circumstances is unnecessary, Solo Works 96-98 occupies its own space.

Philip Selway Shares “Check For Signs Of Life” Video

With his new album Strange Dance due out 24th February via Bella Union, and having previously shared a visualizer for lead single “Check For Signs Of Life”, today Philip Selway shares a mesmerising and beautifully-shot black and white video for the track. Produced by Uncommon Creative Studio with director William Williamson, the video features a quartet of renowned and award-winning dancers and choreographers: Siobhan Davies, Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, Simone Damberg Würtz and Liam Francis. Siobhan Davies is one of the UK’s most celebrated dancers and choreographers while Simone Damberg Würtz is a leading light of the Rambert Dance Company, with whom Selway has collaborated, and is currently to be found playing the lead role of Polly Shelby in the company’s adaptation of Peaky Blinders. 

Commenting on the video Philip Selway says: “The video for ‘Check For Signs Of Life comes from an idea I had to develop a dance piece over a series of songs from Strange Dance. I wanted the piece to explore imagined conversations between future and past selves and to be based around this particular quartet of dancers. The piece has been choreographed by Simone Damberg Würtz and Liam Francis. They both perform in the video alongside Siobhan Davies and Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp.”

Director William Williamson adds: “Working closely alongside Philip and choreographers Simone and Liam we set out to explore the complex relationship between future and former self through the medium of contemporary dance. Transcending time and moving through varied emotions, we wanted to create a film that will inspire the audience to hang their own narrative on.  As we rehearsed, the intimacy and fragility of the choreography became so clear I decided to shoot it all in a single take. It meant pulling together the dance, camera and lighting, to communicate a sense of unity and power, which stays focused in the moment.”

In other news, Selway was recently announced as an Ambassador for Independent Venue Week which is this year celebrating its 10th anniversary. In conjunction with the event Selway embarks on a 5-date UK tour in late January and early February. Selway has also just announced a run of UK and European tour dates for May 2023 including a headline performance at the Union Chapel in London. Dates and info below:

Monday 30th  January – Norwich – Arts Centre

Tuesday 31st January – Cambridge – Junction

Wednesday 1st February – Hebden Bridge – Trades Club

Thursday 2nd February – Stockton-On-Tees – Georgian Theatre

Friday 3rd February – Guildford – The Boileroom

Thursday 4th May – Brussels – Ancienne Belgique Club

Friday 5th May – Paris – Café Del La Danse

Saturday 6th May – Amsterdam – Melkweg

Sunday 7th May – Berlin – Columbia Theater

Tuesday 9th May – Copenhagen – The Koncerthuset Studio 2

Monday 15th May – Glasgow – Oran Mor

Tuesday 16th May – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

Thursday 18th May – London – Union Chapel

Friday 19th May – Bristol – Thekla

Saturday 20th May – Birmingham – Hare & Hounds

Sunday 21st May – Manchester – Gorilla

Happy Release Day Sophie Jamieson

Today, Sophie Jamieson releases her highly anticipated and already much acclaimed debut album Choosing via Bella Union. To coincide with the release Jamieson has announced news of 4 x UK headline shows in February including a London performance at St Pancras Old Church. Additionally, Jamieson has shared a video for “Boundary”, one of album’s many standout tracks, about which she says: “This song comes from a kinder place than some of the others on this record. It steps back and acknowledges self-inflicted pain and the repeated effort to heal. It’s about trying and failing, knowing there is something you’re trying to grasp but that keeps slipping out of your reach. The journey isn’t smooth or pretty but it’s hopeful, and the light starts to creep in once you choose to be honest with yourself.”

Early acclaim for Choosing:

“’Enthralling… a remarkable match of intimacy and intensity… consistently startling and affecting.” Uncut – 9/10

“A raw, intimate, brilliant debut, falling somewhere between Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Germano and PJ Harvey… Her torch-song voice is often exposed by spare arrangements, but songs also burst into euphoric life, like exorcisms… every second is disarming and beautiful.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Jamieson moves seamlessly between minimal arrangements where her vocal is the focal point, before the instrumentation becomes suddenly exhilarated, as it does on the thrilling opener ‘Addition’. Jamieson and co-producer Steph Marziano expertly build tension within these vast compositions.” Loud & Quiet

Released via her new home at Bella Union, Choosing is a strikingly personal document of a journey from a painful rock bottom of self-destruction, to a safer place imbued with the faint light of hope. It’s an album that sings openly of longing and searching, of trying, failing, and trying again – and always and throughout, the strength of love in so many varying forms.

Following on from the pair of EPs she released in 2020, Choosing finds its own shape by a subtle reforming of Jamieson’s sound into something both organic and simpler. Sophie describes the songs on those two EPs as “black holes” and while Choosing covers similar ground it never takes its eye away from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip even when everything is telling her to let go. 

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.”

Produced and engineered by long-time collaborator Steph Marziano (Ex:Re, Lapsley, Hayley Williams) and mixed by Isabel Gracefield, Choosing asks the listener to look deep within their own selves, to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face.