Will stratton reveals “Black Hole” video

With his new album The Changing Wilderness due for release 7th May via Bella Union, and having previously shared the tracks ‘Tokens’ and ‘When I’ve Been Born (I’ll Love You)’, today Will Stratton reveals an intriguing video for his new single “Black Hole”.

Of the track Stratton says: “I wrote Black Hole shortly after our last president took office. I had spent the morning of the inauguration staring at a sculpture, a neon wall by Dan Flavin in the basement of a local museum. I tried to capture the energy that I felt staring at the green light in the dark. The song is about fascists and authoritarians of all kinds, how hard they are to completely shake once they take hold in the public consciousness, and how they tend to warp the minds of everyone in their proximity, even their opposition.”

Of the video he adds: “Donald Borenstein asked me if he could direct a video for one of the songs on this record almost a year and a half ago, and we became good friends. After some deliberations, we filmed the video over a chilly weekend last October, on the outskirts of the Iron Mountain data facility in Rosendale, New York, an underground complex full of meticulously stored corporate secrets and a whole wing of unused, cold war era hotel rooms built for use by executives in the event of a nuclear war. My partner Blair very generously agreed to act in this video, playing the role of a hiker who gets taken in by a mysterious force in the woods. The concrete mines of this area supplied much of the material for the Brooklyn Bridge and the base of the Statue of Liberty, and the visual phenomena left in the concrete’s absence makes for lovely late afternoon light. Thanks to Donald for working so hard on this over many months, and to Zappa Johns for putting many hours in on the visual effects, which were generated using textures made by the painter Bee Ebben.”

Early praise for upcoming album The Changing Wilderness:

“Having over the past 13 years sought to locate a stylistic mid-point somewhere between Jackson Browne and Nick Drake, Will Stratton has developed a musical character pretty much all his own… An album that sustains a beautiful atmosphere throughout.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Haunting and evocative… There’s an aching beauty to the major-to-minor chord changes on ‘Infertile Air’ while ‘The Rain’ is simply breathtaking.” Uncut – 8/10

“A singer-songwriter of pure class and quality… If deft fingerstyle guitar with warm vocals and thought-provoking lyrics are your thing then you are in for a real treat with The Changing Wilderness… The songs deal with current world issues, invoking the spirit of greats such as Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake… Wonderful.” Guitarist – 8/10

Lost Horizons announce special guests for London Scala show

Following excellent reviews for new album In Quiet Moments, and with current single ‘Halcyon’ selected as Shaun Keaveny’s Record of the Week on 6Music, Lost Horizons have announced news of their first set of guest vocalists for their one-off London Scala show on 19th October. The band will be joined by label-mates John Grant, Laura Groves and Jack & Lily Wolter from Penelope Isles, all of whom will sing their respective tracks from the LP, while Scott Matthews will perform the track “Grey Tower”, originally written with Tim Smith from Midlake. Many more guest vocalists will be announced over the coming months.

Additionally, Lost Horizons today share a video for the track “Blue Soul” which features guest vocalist Laura Groves. Of the track and video Groves says: I filmed the performance myself at home using the very basic tools I have – very much the same way as my music video for “Infinite Wisdom”. These restrictions were imposed by the lockdown we were under at the time, but were also reflective of the words that I wrote for ‘Blue Soul’; themes of solitude, inner worlds and landscapes, connection with nature and a very personal creative process that permeates and is often interchangeable with everyday life, and maintaining those connections on a planet that is endangered.”

Acclaim for In Quiet Moments:

“Second album from super-duo contains multitudes… With the knowing retro-etherealism of Every Beat That Passed (featuring Swedish vocalist Kavi Kwai) or Cordelia’s new age tides controlled by John Grant, In Quiet Moments opens out its own space to wander, a many-moods piece for complicated times.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“The array of moods and a distinguished cast of guest singers on this album dazzles and delights.” The i – 4 stars ****

“Former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde’s search for a vocalist as distinctive as Liz Frazer continues on Lost Horizons’ second album. He and partner Richie Thomas strike gold with Swedish newcomer Kavi Kwai on the ethereal ‘Every Beat That Passed’ while Gemma Dunleavy comes close on the mysterious ‘Linger’, as does a sumptuously serene Ren Harvieu on ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’.” Classic Pop – 4 stars ****

“Lost Horizons return with a 16-song set that expands their palette considerably, including jazzier ventures with Ren Harvieu and soul singer Ural Thomas. Lest anyone forget about Raymonde’s past life as a Cocteau Twin, reverb-soaked collaborations with Kavi Kwai and KookiLou ensure there’s plenty of the old shimmer and spangle to savour, too.” Uncut – 7/10

“Lost Horizons triumph on second album In Quiet Moments… There’s some textbook ethereal elegance but also much restless energy and joy.” PROG

“Melodic, heartfelt and healing… John Grant’s vocal on ‘Cordelia’ will lift you out of this world and into the cosmos… A warm blanket of an album in every way.” HiFi Choice – 5 stars *****

“Lost Horizons involves the former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde and multi-instrumentalist Richie Thomas constructing tracks out of loose jams. Collaborators include John Grant on the choral ‘Cordelia’ and the soul singer Ural Thomas on the jazzy title track.” Sunday Times

“Absolutely breathtaking… A masterpiece of concept, design and execution.” NARC – 5 Stars *****

“With experienced mood masters Raymonde and Thomas at the tiller In Quiet Moments is holistic audio balm to soothe, hug and give hope in these ‘unprecedented times’ and beyond.” Music OMH – 4 Stars ****

“Impressive and captivating… Penelope Isles shine with a statement piece of charming dream-pop while John Grant provides the records most impressive and emotive moment.” The Line Of Best Fit – 7/10

“An epic 16 track record of quite stunning beauty… A masterful sonic journey of discovery.” Contact Music – 5 Stars ***** 

Lost Horizons is the project of Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas of Dif JuzThe band’s new album, In Quiet Moments, was released in February via Bella Union. 

Lost Horizons have previously shared videos for ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring The Hempolics, ‘Grey Tower’ featuring Tim Smith, ‘Cordelia’ featuring John Grant, ‘One For Regret’ featuring Porridge Radio, ‘Every Beat That Passed’ featuring Kavi Kwai, ‘In Quiet Moments’ featuring Ural Thomas, ‘Marie’ featuring Marissa Nadler, ‘Heart Of A Hummingbird’  featuring KookieLou,‘Halcyon’ featuring Penelope Isles and ‘This Is The Weather’ featuring Karen Peris from the LP.

Lanterns On The Lake announce “Gracious Tide, Take Me Home” anniversary edition

Lanterns On The Lake have announced news of a deluxe 10th Anniversary vinyl reissue of their acclaimed debut album, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, out 11th June via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The band’s much-loved debut has been meticulously remastered at Abbey Road studios and will be released on double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve with gold foil print. Additionally, the album comes with five previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original sessions.

Fusing the most fragile and graceful end of the folk music spectrum to the most luminous properties of cinemascope rock, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home used a smorgasbord of instruments to paint a variety of beautiful vistas, from the ambient ‘Ships In The Rain’ to the galloping ‘A Kingdom’, from the six-minute layers of ‘The Places We Call Home’ to the skeletal 73-second finale ‘Not Going Back To The Harbour’. There’s always been a compelling drama to Lanterns On The Lake; the way the opening track ‘Lungs Quicken’ shifts from dreamy restraint to a full-blown crescendo indicated the true power at their fingertips.

Lanterns On The Lake formed in 2008 combining a group of friends who had all played in various bands on the local music scene. Hazel Wilde (vocals, guitar), Paul Gregory (guitars, backing vocals, electronics) and Ol Ketteringham (drums, piano) still comprise the core of the band whilst previous members Adam Sykes (vocals, guitar), Brendan Sykes (bass) and Sarah Kemp (violin) departed prior to the second album.

Hazel commented at the time that: “A lot of lyrics were inspired by my moving back to the coast (North Shields), where I grew up, after I’d been living near the city centre. They’re also memories of growing up here, the feeling of homesickness, and stories of people around us and of the sea. The title Gracious Tide, Take Me Home seemed to sum up all the themes.”

There might be a vein of sadness through this music – ‘Ships In The Rain’ was inspired by a local fisherman who went missing at sea, and ‘A Kingdom’ was inspired by the book letters sent home by WW2 soldiers – but there is just as much hope in ‘Keep on Trying’  and ‘You’re Almost There’, where fear and insecurities are banished by self-belief; “the feeling that you’re going places,” as Hazel says. Mirroring the sentiment of the album title, ‘I Love You, Sleepyhead’ and ‘Places We Call Home’ draw on the comfort and security of home, friendship and memory.

Having been forced to postpone their touring plans for last year’s Mercury nominated Spook The Herd album, Lanterns On The Lake should finally have the chance to perform the songs live for their fans this Autumn when they take to the road for the below UK live dates…

Mr Ben & The Bens announce “Melody Shed”

Following last year’s “Life Drawing” album, cult British DIY outfit Mr Ben & The Bens today announce news of Melody Shed, a 6-track EP released 21st May via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The EP is a set of songs written shortly after the album release as the world entered lockdown. Speaking of the record band leader Ben Hall says: “This group of songs is definitely the little brother to the larger set of songs on the album, with an emphasis on stripped back lyrical folk writing, and acoustic instruments.” Thematically the songs range from introspective musings on the start of a day of work (Ben makes pottery full time as day job) to mushroom picking, even a lament to the stripping of local bus services. “I went into the studio intending to record the songs with just my voice and guitar so they have been tracked live in single takes,” adds Hall. This approach has given the EP a charming, affable quality, with slip-ups and slight time shifts adding to the character of the recordings. The EP precedes a set of socially distanced acoustic gigs alongside a full UK headline tour in August/September, the dates of which can be found below.

The band have a shared a first track titled “How Do I Get To You?”. Speaking about the track Hall says: “This is the song that completely changed the course of the entire EP. The songs were originally written to be played totally acoustic, and when I got to the studio I laid all the songs down live with just a nylon guitar and a couple of mics. Listening back they were just begging for more melodies so bit by bit more instruments were added until this song became this kind of warped folk power-pop stomper. Lyrically it is written from the perspective of someone on a bad trip trying to find their way home. The Crux of the narrative is that point that occurs when you are tripping sometimes that your brain just snaps back to engaging with reality and you solve those non-existent problems that were troubling you the whole time.”

Lost Horizons & Penelope Isles share “Halcyon” visuals

Lost Horizons today share a video for their track “Halcyon”, taken from their recently released album In Quiet Moments, which features frequent collaborators and close pals Penelope Isles. Speaking of the track, Simon Raymonde states…

“Loved Penelope Isles from the first time I heard them and loved them even more from the first time I saw them! I released their debut album on Bella Union and my wife Abbey and I also manage them. Jack and Lily  were the first people I asked to be on the album. Penelope Isles supported Lost Horizons on our first UK headline tour and set the bar incredibly high every night. 

The music for Halcyon started with Richie and I improvising in our studio in Brighton but when I brought that track back home, I ditched the music and just started again from scratch. I had just bought an old Tokai guitar in a local guitar shop that reminded me of the guitar Alan Curtis had used in Richie’s old band DIF JUZ and the second I plugged it in for the first time, and played along with Richie’s lonely drum track, the notes just fell out of me. Within an hour or two the track was done and I sent it over to Jack. I adore what he’s done and love that Lily also sings on the song in that glorious section at the end. It was always going to start the album and now I am thrilled it is being released as a single.”

Jack Wolter of Penelope Isles, who also made the dreamy visuals that accompany the track had the below to say…

“The video for Halcyon is made up of footage I collected during my early twenties, whilst studying and living in Cornwall. I felt the need to film a lot in this period of my life. When I started writing the lyrics and getting into what this song was going to be about, I found myself reflecting back to the importance of this time, the people I shared it with and the days we lived. Beautiful relationships providing unworn conversations although all tangled up in warped spaces and darker moments. The song and video are a reflection into the past and how certain times stay with you forever.”

In other exciting news, Lost Horizons will perform a live show, with special guests, at the Scala in the Autumn of 2021. Tickets for the show, which will feature an array of the album’s collaborators, are on sale now. See HERE for more details.

Laura Veirs shares ‘The Panther’

Today Laura Veirs shares The Panther, a special digital release containing two versions of same song. In recent years Veirs has been writing different versions of songs as part of her creative process, in an attempt to find the right musical home for lyrics that resonate with her. This new release is two such versions of a song Veirs wrote called “The Panther” named after a poem by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Both the Electric guitar version and Ukelele version are available now!

Originally recorded by herself in late 2016, Veirs explains: “I am sharing these songs now because I like them and think listeners might find them interesting, especially because they are such radically different musical treatments of essentially the same lyrics. I also want to share them now because this song adapts words from one of my favourite poems. Since many of us around the world are still in quarantine, I think listeners will be able to relate to the plight of Rilke’s panther. There are times in life when we find ourselves trapped, either by external circumstances or by self-limitation, or both. Hopefully in those times we can realize that our state of confinement will change and pass, like all things, eventually.” 

Acclaim for My Echo:

“The author of some of the most insightful songs in the modern country-folk canon. ‘Another Space and Time’, which uses stings and a bossa nova beat in its pondering of other realities, and ‘End Times’, with its lilting, Sunday-school piano, are just two opportunities to swoon.” Uncut – 9/10

“It’s gorgeous… The 10 songs drift between intimacy and rich instrumentation. Among the many highlights are the lovely I Sing To The Tall Man and Freedom Feeling, where Veirs’ intimate voice and guitar morph into something so lush and bright it feels like somebody switched the sky on.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Poignant, cathartic, consistently brilliant… Veirs is one of the greatest American songwriters.” The New Stateman

“Laura Veirs sings with serene grace and clarity. Her voice is pure and clear. It soothes and beguiles.” Financial Times – 4 stars ****

“As breakup albums go, it is surprisingly positive… ‘Turquoise Walls’ is a shiny marvel while ‘Freedom Feeling’ encapsulates hope for a better future.” Sunday Times

“Vividly imagined, richly exploratory songcraft… Bright, beautiful and brimming with resilient wisdom.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“There’s vulnerability and candour in the lyrics, and whether tackling infidelity (Turquoise Walls) or celebrating the healing power of nature (Memaloose Island), the rich instrumentation and transporting voice deliver an unexpected but unmistakeable feeling of release.” The Mirror – 4 stars ****

Portland, OR-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs has forged a career singing personal songs of romantic intoxication, everyday vignettes, and social commentary that are often heavy on introspection and intense character scrutiny. She is fascinated with the intersection of poetry and science and explores this in her lyrics. Her most recent album is My Echo from which she’s shared videos for the tracks ‘Burn Too Bright’‘Turquoise Walls’ and ‘Freedom Feeling’.