Penelope Isles share ‘Round’ video

Brighton based brother/sister led quartet Penelope Isles released their incredible debut album Until the Tide Creeps In this Summer via Bella Union, and are about to embark on their first-ever North American tour. Today the band are pleased to announce that TOLEDO will be joining them on their upcoming tour dates, and release a music video for “Round” to celebrate. Watch the video now and get your tickets to an upcoming show near you HERE.

The band’s  Jack Wolter, who directed the music video as well as wrote and produced the track, says: 

“‘Round’ was the first song I wrote when I moved to Brighton a few years ago. I wrote it on a dan electro 12 string, which I had to sell to pay the rent. We played the song constantly when we first started gigging and ended up leaving it out of the set for a while. We revisited it, as it felt weird to not include it on this record. We made the video in Brighton on one of the hottest days of the year. It consists of footage of Lily, dressed in a large round blow-up suit that pulsates with bright psychedelic colours and floating images of the band. We had a laugh making this one!” 

Penelope Isles are also pleased to share Penny Isles TV, a new way for fans to keep up to date with the band while they are on the road. Watch episode 2, which features outtakes from the bands first trip to SXSW earlier this year!

Ezra Furman shares Thermometer video

Ezra Furman releases a video for “Thermometer,” a track from her “potent, impatient record” (Bandcamp) Twelve Nudes, released last month via Bella Union, ahead of her UK tour in November. Throughout “Thermometer”, Furman’s vocals are defiant and ragged, matched by loud, lively instrumentation. The accompanying video shows Furman in various settings – shaving her legs, riding her bike across town, reading a book – with a hazy, old-school filter. 

“‘Thermometer’ was inspired by touring with the inimitable So So Glos back in 2014, wondering if I could write anthems like theirs,” says Furman. “It’s called ‘Thermometer’ because as artists it’s our job to check the temperature of the surrounding culture and try to respond with the appropriate musical medicine. Right now we’re all running so hot the mercury is breaking the glass.”

Ezra Furman continues to tour through 2019, see HERE for details.

Introducing… Ren Harvieu

Anyone who believes there are no second chances needs to be re-introduced to Ren Harvieu. Seven years after her Top 5 debut album, having overcome a life-threatening injury, the Salford-born singer-songwriter returns with “Teenage Mascara”, the first track from a new album due for release Spring 2020 via Bella Union. The album is a brilliant, bolder and broader take on her timeless pop classicism, a compelling diary of a struggle with self-belief and a celebration of liberation and survival. “Teenage Mascara” is accompanied by a colourful and exuberant video directed by celebrated photographer Rankin. Of the track Harvieu says: “I see Teenage Mascara as a dance between the many versions of ourselves. The woozy, dreamlike intoxication of the music helps swirl those emotions we sometimes have where we can go from feeling like sultry sex kittens to being bedridden with despair and greasy hair. I think it’s important to celebrate it all, the sass through the tears, the vulnerability behind the make up.” Additionally, Harvieu recently announced news of two UK live shows, in London and Manchester next month, which follow her upcoming performance at the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg this weekend. Full list of dates can be found HERE.

Harvieu has come a long way from the 17-year-old who was signed to Island Records and who had no intention of becoming a singer-songwriter. Even when she made her debut album “Through The Night”, her confidence was low. “I did help write a few of the songs on that record, which I’m still very fond of, but I felt more of a mouthpiece for someone else’s talent, which eats away at you especially because I had so much to say lyrically I just hadn’t learnt how to as yet. I couldn’t fathom that people were responding to the emotion in my voice. Maybe I was scared of harnessing it’s real power.”

Her injury – a broken spine following “a freak accident” between recording and releasing her debut album – undermined Harvieu even further. Likewise, Island parted ways with her six months after it’s release, despite a Top 5 chart entry, making the BBC’s Sound Of 2012, a 5-star live review from The Guardian and TV exposure (2012’s BBC Proms, singing two James Bond film themes backed by the BBC Philharmonic, was a particular highlight). But she remains sanguine about that part of her life. “I wasn’t surprised, or angry, or devastated when my relationship with Island ended. I didn’t really know them and they most certainly didn’t know me. And I was still dealing with extensive injuries. I had to work out how to re-emerge into the world and ask myself did I even want to.”

What followed was as Harvieu describes as “some very dark years”.A split with her long–term partner, her manager and then her beloved Salford. “In one fell swoop everything was gone. I knew I had to get away, start again, rebuild myself” 

It wasn’t until 2015 to be exact, when she met Romeo Stodart, the Magic Numbers frontman and songwriter who had emailed after seeing her perform on Later… With Jools Holland, to ask if she’d consider writing together. “When we started, the energy was immediately different to anyone I’d worked with before, there was this insane instant musical connection” she says. “I loved that Romeo really embraced who I was and encouraged it. I was starting to realise that I didn’t have to be anything other than myself.”

The pair spent the next two years co-writing: “I wasn’t in a massive hurry, because at last I was having fun” Harvieu says. ‘We’d stay up all night drinking, dancing and playing music, I felt like I was re-discovering a girl who had been hidden, quietened. I’d tell Romeo, I don’t just want to paint pretty pictures I want to revel in the drama of my life, the good and the bad, before I was afraid to say something in my lyrics, but no longer. I felt free.” 

The album was co-produced by Romeo Stodart and Dave Izumi Lynch, owner of Echo Zoo studio in Eastbourne where recording took place.

The final piece of the jigsaw was a new record label that she could call her home – Bella Union. “Ren’s name kept cropping up from friends in bands and other folk whose taste I appreciated,” recalls label boss Simon Raymonde. “I was struck by her incredible voice, the classic arrangements and the quality of the songs. She’s got this seemingly effortless cool style countered by a very deep emotional connection.”

Creep Show debut ‘Uneffable’

With their first ever UK tour just a few weeks away in early October, Creep Show today share a new single, “Uneffable”. The original track was made in Cornwall at Memetune studios by Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter and Benge using ancient drum machines and modular synths (Casio DDD1 and ARP2500). However, it was finished in Iceland: “I wanted a trip to Iceland to see John’s studio full of brand-new-vintage synths”, says Benge and he actually means it! So 12 hours later, without a lagoon, fjord or waterfall in sight, he found himself sitting down at the new ARP Odyssey clone made by Korg, and a vintage Roland Juno 106 with John Grant in Reykjavík. “We spent a few days working on the track,” he adds. “John did the vocals in a monotone voice and I played with an MXR pitch shifter to put the weird robot-like intonation back into his voice.” Job done, he jetted straight back to the UK.

Stephen Mallinder sums up Uneffable’s birth as “a track built from bits of electricity and static, shaped in Icelandic lava and Cornish granite. Sprinkled with love and irony from the honey tones of John Grant. Creep Show are a group made of impeccable taste and technology who live far clung corners of the world, seriously challenging the capabilities of sat nav, and mysteriously come together by casting spells…”

Creep Show brings together John Grant with the dark analogue electro of Wrangler (Stephen Mallinder / Phil Winter / Benge). Recorded in Cornwall with a lifetime’s collection of drum machines and synthesisers assembled by Benge and explored by every member of Creep Show,  the band’s acclaimed debut album Mr Dynamite conveys real sense of freedom in the shackles-off grooves, channelling the early pioneering spirit of the Sugarhill Gang through wires and random electric noise. 

See HERE for full list of Creep Show live shows.

Mercury Rev debut ‘Louisiana Man’ with

Earlier this year, Mercury Rev released the much adored track-by-track resurrection of Bobbie Gentry’s 1968 overlooked masterwork ‘The Delta Sweete’. The album featured an unmatched roster of female vocals from Susanne Sundfør, Norah Jones, Margo Price, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucinda Williams, Vashti Bunyan, Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Susanne Sundfør, Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab), Marissa Nadler, Kaela Sinclair (M83) and more. 

Today, Mercury Rev are pleased to announce a limited 7” vinyl featuring a brand new cover of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Louisiana Man’ with vocals from Erika Wennerstrom, which is available to stream now. Of the collaboration, Wennerstrom says, “I grew up listening to Bobbie Gentry. I realized while working on this project just how much she has influenced the way I developed my voice and song writing over the years. Whenever Ode to Billie Joe came on the radio my mom and I would sing every word. I’ve been a big fan of Mercury Rev for a long time as well. I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this project.”

Pre-order your copy of the limited edition 7” vinyl HERE, due for release 8th November exclusively via the Bella Union store .

Critical acclaim for The Delta Sweete Revisited, out now on Bella Union

“A stunning collection, resting on a sumptuous cushion of hazy, echoing sounds… A treasure.” Evening Standard – 5 stars *****

“An audacious remake of Bobbie Gentry’s masterpiece, here rebooted with tender opulence, affectionate awe, and full commitment to a widescreen, almost transcendental experience… All the women here rise to the occasion, audibly honoured to salute Gentry.” MOJO – 4 Stars ****

“Laetitia Sadier’s delicate reading of Mornin Glory and Hope Sandoval’s reimagining of Big Boss Man are highlights, but there isn’t really a wrong turn anywhere… A gem of an album.” Sunday Times (Album of the Week)

“A beautiful suite of music that guides a new generation to one of the great lost albums of the 1960s.” The Times – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev, antennae always twitching to big–sky Americana, redirect attention to the record’s soulful crosscurrents with this celebration… A grand tribute.” Q

“The stately arrangements subtly embellish the sultry originals… A classic.” The Observer – 4 stars ****

“Gentry’s country–soul masterpiece has been remoulded with orchestral nuance and a healthy dose of the Rev’s innate dreaminess.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“Full marks to Mercury Rev for corralling an impressive array of female vocalists to revive the daring and dreamy swamp masterpiece… A quality, deeply–felt labour of love.” The Mirror – 4 stars ****

“Sumptuous arrangements and fabulous performances from Margo Price, Susanne Sundfør and Beth Orton.” The Guardian

“They handle this suite of vignettes with care, kicking off with the soothing tones of Norah Jones followed by the sultry sound of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.” The i Paper – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev bring woozy psychedelia covering her second and finest album, employing fine female singers to achieve their vision.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“Mercury Rev have reimagined Gentry’s country–soul classic beautifully… Gorgeous and intuitive singing by Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval and Margo Price make their respective tracks the record’s highlights, each bringing a distinct point of view and vivid energy to the new arrangements.” Uncut

“Mercury Rev lend the songs a fresh vitality, replacing the swamp–blues and country–soul of the originals by framing Gentry’s vivid storytelling with haunting atmospherics and melodic strings.” Daily Mail – 4 stars ****

“An inspired move, giving Bobbie’s songs a dense, spookily atmospheric makeover.” Shindig – 4 Stars ****

“An esoteric choice but fuelled by Gentry’s wonderful songs and a remarkable array of guest singers.” Mail On Sunday – 4 stars ****

Broen share ‘Strings’

Broen are pleased to reveal their new single ‘Strings,’ taken from their forthcoming LP, Do You See the Falling Leaves?, due for release on 18 October via Bella Union.

Speaking about the track, the band say: “When life goes ahead without you, but you’re in the middle of it. And it’s hard to know what’s up and what’s down. You feel that everything melts together and gets blurred. And you’re just being drifted by the stream. You don’t know what your dreams are and what you want, or even what’s dream and what’s reality. The only thing that’s true is nature, that you’re always a part of, when everything else goes around.”

Broen return with eyes open to new vistas on their second album, Do You See The Falling Leaves?. Back in 2017, Norway’s experi-pop quintet brought exuberant reserves of intelligence, positivity and warm-spirited commonality to the world-building bustles of jazz, funk, psychedelia, electronics and hip-hop on their international debut, I Love Art. Due for release via Bella Union on 18 October, 2019, Do You See the Falling Leaves? extends its predecessor’s vision and expands its brightly generous worldview, opening the door to mindful, invigorating and mind-bogglingly inventive ways of composing, engaging and connecting: with nature, with each other, with their own potential.

As Anja Lauvdal (synths, piano) explains, finding ways to connect is a core theme. Even if EE Cummings’ classic minimalist poem ‘l(a’ was not an influence on the album, its use of a falling leaf to symbolise loneliness clicked with Anja. “I thought that was a nice comment to the title/theme of the record. People can use each other and nature around us to feel connected instead of lonely. The opposite of loneliness is maybe to be connected – as an individual – but also connected to the world. In a way, ‘do you see the falling leaves’ then also means ‘do you see the lonely people’, and that you can open your eyes or reach out a hand.”

Broen’s eyes are sharp from opener ‘Where Is Passion’, where singer Marianna Røe asks “Where is history… peace… love hiding?” over amniotic ripples of effects and piano. When she breaks surface to seek out “passion, complexity, duality, singularity” and more, the song leaps to funky, playful, searching life with her. Like sunshine prog-pop on a mindful mission, the radiant title-track seeks to define true engagement – rather than mere distraction – over fluent backdrops of synths, ever-shifting in tune with its lyrical explorations.

Elsewhere, Broen match meaning to method with fresh punch and focused purpose. The funk-pop urgency of ‘Dorian Grays’ mirrors its encouragement to live in the now. While ‘Never Was’ lives in its delicately introspective moment, the knottily explosive ‘Lines’ frames an urgent call to embrace possibility.

Certainly, Broen are open to curveballs. “A couple of the songs are pure love songs, which is nice because we didn’t have a big repertoire of those,” Marianna deadpans. Dreamy and dappled, ‘Bring It Closer’ and ‘Shut Down’ harbour beautiful twists on romantic sentiments. Around them, contrasts mount. ‘Free World’ issues stingingly satirical critiques of divisiveness; ‘Bubbles’ mounts an effervescent take on cultural polarisation. Finally, ‘Strings’ mirrors its invitation to loosen our tethers in an unmoored saxophone break, floating into space in preparation for – presumably – more new perspectives to come.

To prepare for Do You See…, Broen brainstormed themes. “We wanted it to have a positive message,” Marianna explains, “but some songs ended up more aggressive than positive. That’s because we wanted to explore what it means to be human in this world and in a capitalistic society, and also the historical aspect of it. Why do we keep making the same mistakes? We also wanted to talk about nature. Some songs use images from nature as metaphors but we also wanted to get into our relationship with nature.”

Meanwhile, Røe (vocals), Lauvdal (synths, piano), Heida Karine Johannesdottir (tuba), Hans Hulbækmo (drums) and Lars Ove Stene Fossheim (guitars) dug deep into their collaborative relationships. Although intra-band bonds stretch back to Broen’s time as music students, they stretch themselves anew on Do You See…. The instrumentation is “more naked”, says Lars Ove, than usual. Heida’s tuba is played untreated; Anja plays more piano. Fresh noises include Lars Ove’s synth guitar and guest Signe Emmeluth’s sax. The songs were developed in the studio, flipping Broen’s tendency to explore them live before recording. “Because we have so many great possibilities inside this wonderful band, we try to challenge each other to find other ways of thinking all the time,” Anja explains.

This can sometimes take the form of navigating a “big bowl of influence soup”, says Lars Ove, who namechecks Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Mahmoud Ahmed, Neil Young, Mariah Carey, TLC and more. Marianna adds Destiny’s Child and Joy Division to the broth. Mostly, though, Broen deal in distinction. Anja references a Village Voice essay in which US writer Jessica Hopper praises the – predominantly – female-driven best albums of 2018 for transporting listeners to “discrete new worlds”. These albums, Hopper argues, recognise raw realities but also imagine a life “beyond chaos, strife, and dysfunction”. Likewise, Do You See… rises above mere genre-juggling in its self-contained, forward-thinking intent. “I never think of our music as a ‘mix of things’,” says Anja. “It’s more its own world.”

Certain constants supported Broen’s commitment to the new. Like their debut, Do You See… was recorded in Oslo’s Studio Paradiso. Noel Summerville (mastering) and Jaga Jazzist’s Marcus Forsgren (mixing, co-voice on ‘Lines’) returned to assist.

But all bets will be off live, where Broen revel in reinvention. Anja recalls a recent trio of shows played “for fun” at Khartoum, a small bar in Oslo, where they found new, playful, thoughtful ways to navigate their songs. “I think we’re going to do more of that – try to find spaces that make us feel like stuff can happen. For us, the music has to be able to move.” A snapshot of a fluent band in motion, Do You See the Falling Leaves? is a glorious spur to Broen’s ongoing explorations.

Broen’s new LP “Do You See the Falling Leaves?” is due for release 18 October via Bella Union.