Ezra Furman’s ‘Sex Education OST’ is out now

Following the success of last year’s “Twelve Nudes”, Ezra Furman returns with Sex Education OST, songs from season 1 and 2 of the hit Netflix TV show. The 19-track LP is out today on Bella Union and is available to order here.

When the makers of the hit Netflix series Sex Education told Ezra Furman, “We want you to be the Simon & Garfunkel to our The Graduate”, they clearly recognised a kindred spirit. Who better to articulate all that awkwardness and alienation than Furman?

Sex Education is about Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother, Jean. In season 1 Otis and his friend Maeve Wiley set-up a sex clinic at school to capitalise on his intuitive talent for sex advice. In season 2, as a late bloomer Otis must master his newly discovered sexual urges in order to progress with his girlfriend Ola whilst also dealing with his now strained relationship with Maeve. Meanwhile, Moordale Secondary is in the throes of a Chlamydia outbreak, highlighting the need for better sex education at the school and new kids come to town who will challenge the status quo.

The Sex Education soundtrack gathers the original songs that Furman composed for the first series and the brand new second series, whilst adding tracks featured on the show that can be found on prior Furman albums such as “Perpetual Motion People” and “Transangelic Exodus”. Lining up alongside older cover versions of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘ I Can Change’ and Melanie’s ‘The Good Book’ is a new rendition of ‘Devil Or Angel’, The Clovers’ doo-wop jewel from 1956. It all adds up to a bumper 19-track set of Furman’s trademark enthusiastic emotional catharsis.

“Making music for a TV show was a new experience for me,” she says. “As a fan of many a high school comedy, for example The Breakfast Club and 10 Things I Hate About You, I knew how fun the music can be, and also how emotional. I wanted to rise to the challenge.”

Furman and her band recorded the new songs in between sessions for a “loud punk record,” namely the exhilarating “Twelve Nudes”, released by Bella Union in 2019. “I decided I’d use the Sex Education project as a place to put my tenderness, my sadness and longing,” she says. “The soft teenage feelings that every adult knows continue long after high school ends.”

For the first series, Furman was supplied with an extensive description of the show and the episode scripts. For the second series, she says, “They trusted us completely. They were like, ‘you know what to do’. I try to imagine what’s going to be on screen as a jumping-off point, but they don’t need songs that fit, they need songs of a high quality, that come from a real place. That’s why they wanted me, I guess. Also, I guess they noticed an exuberant vulnerability. I lay all my feelings out there.”

Given Furman’s personal experience at high school, having been closeted with regard to gender and sexuality, she wasn’t method-acting for a second. The new songs allowed her to reconnect to that past, but also the present, as teenager and adult. ‘Amateur’, for example. “I’m an amateur in my heart, and the show is about amateurs,” she says. “About bodies not yet fully formed, and hearts not yet hardened to the world.”

‘Every Feeling’ was inspired by a bad bout of depression: “I was so bored of having these feelings year after year, I just wanted to feel them all and get them over with.” ‘Care’ is afflicted by, “the noise of celebrity culture and politics.” Why can’t we just have, as Furman sings, “a world of love and care”? “That’s the dream I hang on to,” she says.

Songwriting, Furman concludes, “is a way of keeping tabs on what I care most about, the purest stuff, the matters of the heart that don’t expire. It’s what matters to teenagers, and revisiting the teenage perspective has been oddly centering for me. It’s a reminder of what’s important, and the emotional dramas that persist through life.”

Ezra Furman releases collection of demos via Bandcamp

Ezra Furman has announced a Bandcamp exclusive collection of Demos, Rehearsals and Shots in the Dark from her 2018 album Transangelic Exodus on a pay what you want/can basis.

Described by Furman as “a kind of audio ‘making of’ document for fans of the record” proceeds from sales of the collection, titled To Them We’ll Always Be Freaks will go to help support Furman’s band and touring crew who’s income has been affected due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the cancellation of forthcoming tour dates. Furman has also announced her European tour dates, due to start later this month, have been rescheduled until later in the year due to the global health crisis. Full dates can be found HERE.

To Them We’ll Always Be Freaks

aka Making Ourselves Up in the Rearview Mirror

aka “Wing That Shit”

Demos, Rehearsals and Shots in the Dark for Transangelic Exodus

“Welcome to a collection of malformed reject recordings, the unpolished refuse of the process of making our 2018 LP, Transangelic Exodus. I’m proud of the final version of the record, but I always yearned to let people glimpse some of the strange process of making it.

We all knew that we wanted to approach making this record differently than we had our other albums. In the past we’d usually listen to my solo acoustic recording of a song, talk about what we might do with it, get the band all together in a room and go with our best instincts of how to bring it to life. This time, we wanted to abandon our first instincts. Tim’s idea was that I should get together one on one with each band member and see what we came up with together when the others weren’t watching. Try out different combinations of band members and think of ourselves as a different band, playing for a different audience, or no audience. We wanted to get weird. Then we’d pool our findings and try to make a record of maximal impact, maximal originality and excitement.

So what we have here are some of the more listenable or potentially interesting artifacts of that process, which began in 2016 and really got going in early 2017. The last recordings featured here are from around March 2017—after that point we were working on the actual tracks for the record, where (as you can hear on the album) we made all kind of other steps forward, toward what I consider the best thing I’ve ever made.

This is for fans of Transangelic Exodus who want to hear a little bit of the process of mutation along the way. There’s a lot more that I won’t ever show you. Also, I’ve only included versions of the songs that made it onto the final album; there were many more songs we left behind as we realized they wouldn’t be part of the best record we could make. I also left off most of the solo acoustic demos; I kept one or two that showed how much the songs progressed from my initial idea for them. But I wanted to keep the whole experience close to the average length of a feature film. One shouldn’t spend too much longer than that being this up close and personal with my psyche.

I have catalogued the tracks with the personnel that appears on that track, plus my best guess at a date of the recording. The band members (The Visions) are: Ben Joseph, Jorgen Jorgensen, Sam Durkes and Tim Sandusky.

I’m very grateful that the weird passionate fictional-conceptual record we made has some fans that appreciate it. This is a little X-Ray of the process if you’re curious. The fact that you’ve let my dark hopeful dreams into your heart means so, so much to me. I hope those dreams are as useful to you as they have been to me.”

Love,

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman shares ‘Every Feeling’ video

Today, Ezra Furman presents a video for “Every Feeling” a standout track from Sex Education OST, released digitally last month via Bella Union (CDs and vinyl will be available April 24th). “Every Feeling” was inspired by a bad bout of depression and has an up-all-night, emotionally exhausted feel to it. The video, created by Sivan Kidron, is brightly coloured and entirely animated.

“Kidron and I talked about that all-nighter feeling and the feeling like you’re already gone. That’s why we wanted the video to be full of empty hotel rooms, cigarettes still burning, like you’ve just left leaving everything unfinished because you just need to keep moving,” says Furman. “Our dancing blowing flailing inflatable tube man is sort of the avatar for me at my most emotionally vulnerable. I love these images and the way Sivan brings them across, like we’re almost dreaming, like how the world feels when you’re really exhausted, like there are no people left in it, like you’re at the mercy of the wild wind.”

“When I first listened to the song, I immediately connected with it,”
 says Kidron. “It’s about going through everything and just feeling tired and empty, and to me it sounded like a mantra that is saying, in the end underneath all these tumultuous emotional layers there is pure love. The thought of how there is no actual empty space if you take in mind light and air made me play with the idea of a figure that is full of air, like an inflatable tube man. Also as humans, there is always something in us even when we feel empty, and the tube man kind of illustrates that. Lacking any ability to resist, it dances so totally that it seems completely open and free, as if it embraces this emptiness and celebrates it.” 

Sex Education is about Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother, Jean (played by Gillian Anderson). Season 1 shows Otis and his friend Maeve Wiley setting up a sex clinic at school to capitalize on his intuitive talent for sex advice. The second season, which is now streaming, follows late bloomer Otis trying to master his newly discovered sexual urges in order to progress with his girlfriend Ola while  also juggling his now strained relationship with Maeve. Meanwhile, Moordale Secondary is in the throes of a Chlamydia outbreak, highlighting the need for better sex education at the school.

The Sex Education Original Soundtrack gathers the original songs  Furman composed for both series alongside some of Furman’s older songs that were played in the show. Lining up alongside older cover versions of LCD Soundsystem’s  “I Can Change”  and Melanie’s “The Good Book,” there is a new rendition of “Devil Or Angel”, The Clovers’ doo-wop jewel from 1956.

Furman and her band recorded the new songs in between sessions for the exhilarating Twelve Nudes, released by Bella Union in 2019.

Ezra Furman announces Sex Education OST

Following the success of last year’s “Twelve Nudes”, Ezra Furman returns with Sex Education OST, songs from season 1 and 2 of the hit Netflix TV show. The 19-track LP will be released via Bella Union and is available to download and on DSPs from Friday, 24th January, with a physical release on CD and vinyl to follow on 10th April. The album is available to pre-order here. Furman has shared a first track titled “Every Feeling” from the soundtrack.

When the makers of the hit Netflix series Sex Education told Ezra Furman, “We want you to be the Simon & Garfunkel to our The Graduate”, they clearly recognised a kindred spirit. Who better to articulate all that awkwardness and alienation than Furman?

Sex Education is about Otis Milburn, a socially awkward high school student who lives with his sex therapist mother, Jean. In season 1 Otis and his friend Maeve Wiley set-up a sex clinic at school to capitalise on his intuitive talent for sex advice. In season 2, as a late bloomer Otis must master his newly discovered sexual urges in order to progress with his girlfriend Ola whilst also dealing with his now strained relationship with Maeve. Meanwhile, Moordale Secondary is in the throes of a Chlamydia outbreak, highlighting the need for better sex education at the school and new kids come to town who will challenge the status quo.

The Sex Education soundtrack gathers the original songs that Furman composed for the first series and the brand new second series, whilst adding tracks featured on the show that can be found on prior Furman albums such as “Perpetual Motion People” and “Transangelic Exodus”. Lining up alongside older cover versions of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘ I Can Change’ and Melanie’s ‘The Good Book’ is a new rendition of ‘Devil Or Angel’, The Clovers’ doo-wop jewel from 1956. It all adds up to a bumper 19-track set of Furman’s trademark enthusiastic emotional catharsis.

“Making music for a TV show was a new experience for me,” she says. “As a fan of many a high school comedy, for example The Breakfast Club and 10 Things I Hate About You, I knew how fun the music can be, and also how emotional. I wanted to rise to the challenge.”

Furman and her band recorded the new songs in between sessions for a “loud punk record,” namely the exhilarating “Twelve Nudes”, released by Bella Union in 2019. “I decided I’d use the Sex Education project as a place to put my tenderness, my sadness and longing,” she says. “The soft teenage feelings that every adult knows continue long after high school ends.”

For the first series, Furman was supplied with an extensive description of the show and the episode scripts. For the second series, she says, “They trusted us completely. They were like, ‘you know what to do’. I try to imagine what’s going to be on screen as a jumping-off point, but they don’t need songs that fit, they need songs of a high quality, that come from a real place. That’s why they wanted me, I guess. Also, I guess they noticed an exuberant vulnerability. I lay all my feelings out there.”

Given Furman’s personal experience at high school, having been closeted with regard to gender and sexuality, she wasn’t method-acting for a second. The new songs allowed her to reconnect to that past, but also the present, as teenager and adult. ‘Amateur’, for example. “I’m an amateur in my heart, and the show is about amateurs,” she says. “About bodies not yet fully formed, and hearts not yet hardened to the world.”

‘Every Feeling’ was inspired by a bad bout of depression: “I was so bored of having these feelings year after year, I just wanted to feel them all and get them over with.” ‘Care’ is afflicted by, “the noise of celebrity culture and politics.” Why can’t we just have, as Furman sings, “a world of love and care”? “That’s the dream I hang on to,” she says.

Songwriting, Furman concludes, “is a way of keeping tabs on what I care most about, the purest stuff, the matters of the heart that don’t expire. It’s what matters to teenagers, and revisiting the teenage perspective has been oddly centering for me. It’s a reminder of what’s important, and the emotional dramas that persist through life.”

Sex Education OST will be available to download and on DSPs from 24th January with a physical release on CD and vinyl to follow on 10th April.

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.

Happy Release Day Ezra Furman

Out today on Bella Union is ‘Twelve Nudes’, the electrifying new album from the one and only Ezra Furman.

Twelve Nudes is our punk record,” says Ezra Furman. “We made it in Oakland, quickly. We drank and smoked. Then we made the loud parts louder. I hurt my voice screaming. This was back in 2018, when things were bad in the world. The songs are naked with nothing to hide.”

Immediate proof is offered by ‘Calm Down’ (aka ‘I Should Not Be Alone’), the album’s insanely catchy opening track and lead single, bound up in a compact two minutes and 22 seconds.

“Desperate times make for desperate songs” says Furman. “I wrote this in the summer of 2018, a terrible time. It’s the sound of me struggling to admit that I’m not okay with the current state of human civilization, in which bad men crush us into submission. Once you admit how bad it feels to live in a broken society, you can start to resist it, and imagine a better one.” 

Furman’s preceding album, 2018’s Transangelic Exodus, was “an angry and fearful and pent-up reaction to events too,” he recalls. “But it was a carefully written and recorded version; we took a lot of time with edits and overdubs. I knew I wanted I make this album quickly and not spend time thinking how to play the songs. Twelve Nudes is a ‘body’ more than a ‘mind’ record – more animal than intellectual, And by affirming negativity, it gives you energy, to reject stuff. There’s more space for positivity.”

Far from being defeated by a world in turmoil, Furman’s productivity has only increased the worse things have got – and he’s taken up different disciplines to boot. Between Transangelic Exodus and Twelve Nudes, the 33⅓ imprint published his deeply personal, thoughtful and incisive book on Lou Reed’s legendary 1972 album “Transformer”, before Furman scored the soundtrack to Netflix’s acclaimed comedy Sex Education (it aired in January), which showcased the tender side of his songwriting.

But all his pent-up energy had to be channelled somewhere: hence Twelve Nudes, which Furman and band recorded in October and November 2018 before the album was mixed by the venerated producer John Congleton (Sharon van Etten, St Vincent, John Grant). Furman says the album has two spiritual heroes – the late great punk rock rocker Jay Reatard, and Canadian poet, philosopher and essayist Anne Carson. “She’s one of my top three living writers,” he says. “Anne had these visions, or meditations, to deal with the intense pain in her life, which she calls ‘nudes’, and similarly these songs are meditations on pain and recognising what’s there if you go digging around in your anger and fear and anxiety. So, my album is called Twelve Nudes.”

“The record is political,” says Furman, “but it offers an emotional reaction rather than being specific or partisan.” Furman’s Jewish identity shapes ‘Rated R Crusaders,’ triggered by the Israel/Palestine conflict and its complex web of refugee trauma. ‘Trauma’, meanwhile, seethes with the spiritual malaise brought on by watching wealthy bullies accused of sexual assault rise to power. America, Furman well knows, is balanced on a knife-edge between white male supremacy and the dream of universal opportunity; hence the references to Mexico, slaveowners and US ‘founding father’ Ben Franklin in ‘In America’. As Furman sings, reiterating the spirit of punk rock, and positivity, “Put it all in a two-minute pop song / A really-mean-it-a-lot song for America.

“One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger,” he concludes. “I want to be a force that tries to revive the human spirit rather than crush it, to open possibilities rather than close them down. Sometimes a passionate negativity is the best way to do that.”

“A raging hopelessness permeates Twelve Nudes, but the melodies are still indelible, the hooks still exhilarating… It’s the sound of someone exploding.” The Guardian – 4 stars ****

“America’s most refreshing indie artist… A short, sharp album, the eleven intense tracks spanning 28 minutes leave you yearning for more.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“A remarkable talent.” The i (Album of the Week)

Twelve Nudes is visceral… An extraordinary record… This re–queering of pop hasn’t come a minute too soon.” Metro – 4 stars ****

“A howl as savage and desperate as the age… Religion, gender identity, abusive politicians and existential angst entwined into a primal gutter punk roar.” Classic Rock – 8/10

“Furman has come into his own with this… A rambunctious, exciting album about modern life and it’s unavoidable tensions.” The Times – 4 stars ****

Twelve Nudes is a call to arms built on John Lydon’s ‘Anger is an Energy’ mantra, awash with swagger and smart soundbites.” Sunday Times (Album of the Week)

“Righteous but abundantly melodious punk… He channels the wild, life–affirming energy of the Ramones and New York Dolls into something cathartic and rapturous… Twelve Nudes is a deliriously fun, seriously thought–provoking record that manages to gratify on every level.” Q – 4 stars ****

“Given that matters in America (and beyond) have only worsened since his last broadside, Furman has chosen to surrender to negativity and pain to deliver some kind of catharsis… Twelve Nudes’ unbridled howl, mania and joy is on the nose.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“In unleashing an indictment of the ills afflicting society, Furman not only creates a stunning protest record, he also stands as an example for action, channeling his power as a musician to illuminate systematic abuse and the lives it plagues.” Uncut – 8/10

“One of the best blatantly queer rock albums in years.” DORK – 5 stars *****

“At 11 songs and just over 25 minutes, it all makes for a short, sharp, exhilarating blast.” The Observer 

“Furman turns anger into a howl of resistance… His most urgent and cathartic record to date.” The Independent – 4 stars ****

“Thrilling… Anyone who says rock music has stopped making protest songs is talking balls. Play them Twelve Nudes. Long Live Vinyl – 9/10

“Anger is an energy on Ezra Furman’s new album… Blazing with explosive tunes and throat–shredding fervour, Twelve Nudes leads by example.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

Twelve Nudes bleeds the hot, red blood of a man frustrated, confused and intensely pained by the state of our political and emotional dissonance. This is an album for losing your shit to.”  London In Stereo

“A furious stroll through rock’n’roll’s park.” Loud & Quiet  – 8/10

Twelve Nudes is out now on Bella Union.