Pelican, the Chicago-based quartet renowned for their instrumental excursions to the outer reaches of caustic heaviness and cathartic melody, have announced a 19-date US tour to commence this August. The dates represent the groupâs first major tour since Spring of last year, during which time the band has shifted their focus to working on the long awaited follow up to their acclaimed 2013 album Forever Becoming. The tour, which includes a Southwestern jaunt with VAâs Inter Arma and an east coast run with recent Sargent House signees Jaye Jayle, offer the band an opportunity to preview new material as they work their way toward recording their next full length. The dates commence with an appearance at the highly regarded Psycho Las Vegas festival, concludes with a rare show with experimental rock mainstays Grails as part of celebrated Chicago venue Empty Bottleâs 25th anniversary, and includes a headlining set at the inaugural US edition of Europeâs long-running Dunk!Fest. Pelicanâs performance at 2016âs Dunk!Fest was a career highlight, yielding the (previously physical only) 2xLP live album Live at Dunk!Fest, which the band today reissued via streaming and digital services. Full tour dates and artwork below.
Throughout their seventeen year career Pelican have eschewed genre classification, crafting a wholly unique take on heavy music that careens between the bombastic visceral elements of metal and the epic atmospheric expanses of post-rock. Across five full lengths, seven EPs, and hundreds of live shows the quartet have cultivated a chemistry that borders on telepathy, catapulting the band to outlier appearances at international music festivals including Primavera, Roskilde, Pitchfork, Bonnaroo, Roadburn, and Maryland Death Fest, and headlining club tours across four continents.
The Appleseed Collective / Wild Ponies 'Galax' Release Tour with Special Guest James Fornear
The Appleseed Collective is real Americana. I figured out sort of a mathematical equation last night- it's like Satch plus Django plus Joplin plus Bob Wills plus a little Bill Monroe, but the sum is actually greater than the parts." So said Jason Marck of WBEZ Chicago's Morning Shift, introducing the band for a live segment in November 2014.
No Americana sound could ring so true without miles of highway to back it up, and The Appleseed Collective certainly has that- 2014 has seen them travel coast to coast in support of their two studio albums, Baby to Beast (2012) and Young Love (January 2014). According to Aarik Danielsen of the Columbia Daily Tribune, "Young Love sweeps out the various corners of American music, taking a long look at both the sublime and the strange. The group explores both dark and light in a way that other string-band revivalists haven't touched."
Formed in 2010, The Appleseed Collective has become a force of nature powered by their local community and developed by a strong sense of do-it-yourself drive. In an age of corporations and climate change, the band's commitment to buying & selling local, eating from gardens, and being their own bosses has led to the kind of success that feels simply organic.
Each part of the Collective comes together to form an amalgam of complementary and contrasting elements. With a Motown session musician for a father, guitarist Andrew Brown was exposed to pre-World War II jazz on a trip to New Orleans. Shortly afterwards a chance meeting introduced him to Brandon Smith, violinist, mandolinist and improvisatory magician who grew up playing old time fiddle music. Vince Russo, multi-percussionist and van-packing savant, blends influences of funk, jazz and rock n' roll on the washboard. Eric Dawe comes from a background of choral singing and studies in Indian classical music and provides the bottom end on the upright bass. The whole band sings in harmony.
The band's latest release is a live album recorded in one night at world-renowned venue, The Ark in their hometown of Ann Arbor MI. On Live At The Ark (December 2014) the energy is palpable, the crowd ready to receive, and the band primed to deliver. With a mix of new and old material, as well as a few specially requested covers, Appleseed does just that. The album balances barn burners, old soul jazz, and sparse mood pieces, all suspended above a room hungry for more. It's a daring spectacle but it pays off- the album feels at once electric and intimate, glamorous and genuine, or as Joshua Pickard at Beats Per Minute put it, "music best served alongside a roaring campfire but that also has the ability to challenge the rafters of any grand arena."
The Appleseed Collective is not a bluegrass band. It's not The Hot Club of Paris. It's not a ragtime cover band. The Appleseed Collective represents Americana music rooted in traditions from all over the world and from every decade, creating a live experience that welcomes every soul and is impossible to replicate.
Although they're based in Nashville, Wild Ponies have always looked to Southwest Virginia - where bandmates Doug and Telisha Williams were both born and raised - for inspiration. There, in mountain towns like Galax, old-time American music continues to thrive, supported by a community of fiddlers, flat-pickers, and fans.
Wild Ponies pay tribute to that powerful music and rugged landscape with 2017'sÂ Galax, a stripped-back album that nods to the band's history while still pushing forward. Doug and Telisha took some of their favorite musicians from Nashville (Fats Kaplin, Will Kimbrough, Neilson Hubbard and Audrey Spillman) and met up with revered Old-Time players from Galax, Virginia (Snake Smith, Kyle Dean Smith, and Kilby Spencer). Recorded in the shed behind Doug's old family farm in the Appalachians (steps away from the site where Doug and Telisha were married), it returns Wild Ponies to their musical and geographic roots.Â
Growing up, a young Doug Williams spent many an hour watching and learning as his grandfather played banjo alongside local musical legends like Snake and Kyle Dean. Although both of his grandparents have now passed away, they would surely be proud to see Doug and Telisha gathered in the shed with Snake, Kyle Dean, Kilby, and a diverse handful of the best musicians from Nashville. The result is a broad, bold approach to Appalachian music, created by a multi-cultural band whose members span several generations. Â
Wild Ponies proudly dive into their old-school influences with songs like "Pretty Bird" - a rendition of theÂ Hazel DickensÂ original - and the traditional mountain song "Sally Anne." "My grandfather used to say, 'It oughta been the goddamn National Anthem!'" Doug says of the latter song, which kicks off the album with gang vocals and fiddle. Even so, don't mistakeÂ GalaxÂ for a traditionally-minded folk album. Wild Ponies offer up plenty of contemporary material, too, building a bridge between past and present. The lyrics reflect a similar mix of old and new, with Doug and Telisha Williams writing songs inspired by family heirlooms (including a wooden-bound, 70 year-old book of poems written by Doug's grandfather, whose lines form the basis of "Here With Me"), the Catawba tree on the farm, the nostalgic pull of one's birthplace, a mother's tough lough, leaving and believing, and the cyclical natures of death and love. Although named after the town in which it was recorded,Â GalaxÂ looks far beyond the southwestern tip of Virginia for its source material.Â
"We didn't want to go home to Virginia and just make an Old-Time record," explains Doug. "We wanted to make something that still sounded like Wild Ponies. We asked everybody to stretch and reach towards something new, something different. We wanted to not only reconnect with our roots, but learn how those roots can also weave into our current world."
Once everyone had arrived at the farm, Neilson Hubbard set up a makeshift studio in the shed.Â Just a few nice microphones in a circle. There's no cell phone signal on the mountain. No WiFi. No distractions. Instead, everyone focused on making raw, genuine music, fillingÂ Galax's track list with upright bass, acoustic guitar, twin fiddles, Telecaster, banjo, pedal steel, mandolin, harmonies, gang vocals, and even some stripped-down percussion. They recorded the songs live, never once pausing the process to listen to the performance they'd just captured. It wasn't until Wild Ponies returned home to Nashville that they finally heard the wild magic documented during those mountaintop sessions.Â
ReleasedÂ on August 25thÂ on Gearbox Records,Â GalaxÂ salutes Wild Ponies' traditional roots while exploring new, progressive territory. It's an album about the pieces of our past that stick with us, informing our present while pushing us toward a future. An album about a town, a country, and a world that's forever spinning toward something new. An album that redefines Wild Ponies' sound, while highlighting influences that have always rested just beneath the surface.
"We'll always be the pinball that bounces between folk, rock & roll and country," says Telisha, "and this Old-Time style will always weave its way through everything we do. It's been there from the start, even on the loudest songs we've made. It only took us a couple of days to record it, but this is the album we've been making our whole lives. We just needed the right people and the right songs to finish it."
The Growlers with Very Special Guest Delicate Steve
At the end of September, Wye Oak will embark on a special tour. The band describes what the audience can expect at these performances:
We're so excited to set out on a brief run of smaller, more intimate shows this fall, where we'll be trying out a bunch of brand-new material for the first time, taking questions from the audience, and just generally exposing y'all to our legendary brand of TMI-style stage banter. Come for a sneak peek at what's next for us, or just to say hi.Â
Also, on September 22, Merge will release "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Waterâ, a limited-edition 7-inch on red vinyl. Pre-order your copy now! Jenn and Andy told us a little about each track, both of which were originally released in partnership with Adult Swim:
"Spiral"popped up around 2012, at a time before we began work on Shriek. We were just starting to experiment with synthetic and more pop-oriented sounds, and also got assistance on the marimba from our friend Rod Hamilton, with whom Jenn was sharing a loft at the Copycat in Baltimore at the time.Â
"Wave Is Not the Water"was created in the early months of 2017, without either of us ever setting foot in the same space. Andy was touring as the drummer for Lambchop and volleying the recording back and forth with Jenn via email, as seems to be the current state of things.Â
Pre-order "Spiral"b/w "Wave Is Not the Water"now, and don't miss these very special evenings with Wye Oak!
Judah & the Lion â Going to Mars Tour with Special Guests The Academic and Tyson Motsenbocker - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
Years before forming one of Nashville's most genre-bending bands, the members of Judah & the Lion grew up in separate corners of the U.S., listening to every type of music that came their way. They loved it all: the twang of folk, the beat of hip-hop, the drive of rock & roll, the punch of pop. Later, after college brought all four musicians to Tennessee, it only made sense to combine those different backgrounds - and different sounds - together.
With their second full-length album, Folk Hop N Roll, the guys shine a light on the place where their influences overlap. It's a wide-ranging sound, with fuzz bass, hip-hop percussion, distorted banjo riffs, and super-sized melodies all stirred into the same mixing pot.
"There's no boundaries," says frontman Judah Akers, who shares the band's lineup with drummer Spencer Cross, mandolin player Brian Macdonald, and banjo wiz Nate Zuercher. "We wanted to make something raw, something with attitude. We all grew up loving these hip-hop beats, so why not make an album that has the grit of Run DMC or Beastie Boys, along with all the folk instruments that we play?"
Like Kids These Days - the band's debut record, which climbed to number four on the Billboard Folk Chart and number two on the genre-wide Heatseekers chart after its release in September 2014 - Folk Hop N Roll was produced by award winner Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton). Cobb captured the band's new songs in a series of quick, inspired takes, aiming for performances that sounded real and raw rather than polished and perfect. Everything was done in just two weeks. The goal was to fuel the album with the same electricity that fills the band's live show.
An independent band whose success has arrived not on the back of some big-budget major label, but through the band's own touring, Judah & the Lion have built a large, loyal fanbase on the road. They played 150 shows in 2015 alone, stretching their gigs all across America and Scandinavia. Along the way, they shared stages with artists like Mat Kearney, Drew Holcomb, and Ben Rector. That sort to drive - the commitment to chasing down their dreams, one en- core at a time - also fuels the lyrics that appear on Folk Hop N Roll, a record whose songs spin stories of struggle, triumph, and all points in between.
"This record was made for the live show," Akers promises. "Our shows are all about the experience we share with our fans. We know that people work everyday jobs or go to school, and they're dealing with life, and yet they're still choosing to spend the night with us. We don't take that lightly. We give them an experience. We throw an absolute rage. And all the songs were made with that in mind. They're fun, carefree, and youthful, and we live our lives that way, too."
Anthemic and wildly creative, Folk Hop N Roll is unlike anything else in modern music. It's a rule-breaking record, with Judah & the Lion creating a sound that belongs entirely to them. From the earthy stomp of roots music to the bold bounce of hip-hop, Folk Hop N Roll casts a wide net, proof that Judah & the Lion - who are now four releases into their career - have developed quite the roar.
"It was just circumstance," Tony Scalzo says of the eight-year recording gap that preceded the new Fastball album, Step Into Light. "We've always been active, and we've never really gone a year without doing a bunch of Fastball shows. But things are really picking up now, and things are rolling like crazy."
The 12-song Step Into Light, on the band's own 33 1/3 label, embodies all of the qualities that have endeared Fastball to listeners during the trio's twenty-year-plus career. Such catchy, compelling new tunes as "We're On Our Way," "Behind The Sun," "Best Friend," "Love Comes In Waves" and "I Will Never Let You Down" continue the band's longstanding legacy of infectious songcraft and pointed lyrics, as well as playfully inventive arrangements that lend additional depth and resonance to Scalzo and Miles Zuniga's distinctive songwriting.
"My favorite kind of songs," Zuniga says, "are the ones that have hope in the face of hopelessness. Songs that say 'Life sucks and everything's against me, but I'm gonna smile and survive anyway.' That's the essence of rock 'n' roll music for me, and I think there's a fair amount of that on this album."
Fastball recorded Step Into Light in its hometown of Austin, Texas, with the three bandmates co-producing with longtime friend Chris "Frenchie" Smith (Slayer, Meat Puppets, â¦And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) at Smith's studio, The Bubble. The album was mixed by legendary engineer Bob Clearmountain, who also handled mixing duties on two prior Fastball albums.
"We consciously decided to make this record in a short period of time, so we just went in and knocked it out," Zuniga explains. "I really liked working that way, and I think the fact that we recorded it in under two weeks made it a better record. We didn't have the luxury of getting too precious about things, so we gave ourselves a hard deadline and pretended it was the 1950s-the record light's on, let's do it! It also helped that we've grown a lot as musicians, so we have the ability now to get things right pretty quickly."
"We had a great time making this record," asserts Shuffield. "Working fast was really positive for us, because we had a lot of adrenaline going and there was no wasted time. A lot of the stuff we did was one or two takes of all three of us playing together in the same room. You can't really do that as a new band, but the fact that we've been together so long creates a certain unspoken communication that saves a lot of time."
Rise Against with Special Guests Pierce The Veil and White Lung - Presented by Opus One, PromoWest North Shore & 105.9 WXDX
Experiencing one emotion at a time is a luxury of the past. Think back to that moment at the womenâs march or the pro-science rally, when you spied a small child holding a handmade sign that read âI love naps but I stay wokeâ or âBoys will be boys good humansâ or âMay the facts be with you.â How adorable! How upsetting! How the hell are they going to make it to adulthood in this toxic environment?
Deerhoof is right there with you. They recognize that we are simultaneously living in two worlds, one a maniacal, mainstream monoculture hell-bent on driving humankind into extinction, the other a churning underground teeming with ideas and dogged optimism and the will to thrive and survive. Mountain Moves refutes the former by ecstatically celebrating the latter.
Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide open. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines. The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesnât fit into a single, neatly-defined category â and doesnât wish to.
The results, as expected, were unexpected. Guide vocals and simple melodies were dispatched via email, only to be answered with an outpouring of alternate harmonies, suggestions for arrangements, additional instrumentation. Every file received triggered a new rush of jumbled emotions. Some guests crafted their contributions in the small hours of the dawn, toiling in hotel rooms before driving eight hours to the next tour date; others hopped on the subway and recorded with the band in-person.
Collisions and collusions abound on Mountain Moves. In addition to its bounty of originals, the program includes three covers that epitomize the albumâs assemblage of disparate ideas and personalities. Reducing Bob Marleyâs âSmall Axeâ to a beat-less fragment of hymn-like simplicity magnifies the songâs rebellious spirit and undercurrent of violence. Deerhoof vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, a Japanese immigrant, lifts the Staple Singersâ âFreedom Highwayâ out of its original place and time, imbuing it with a new sense of alienation from oneâs own country. Snippets of the bass recitative âFor behold, darkness shall cover the earthâ from Handelâs Messiah provide the foundation for a fresh take on Chilean folk hero Violeta Parraâs bittersweet masterpiece âGracias a la Vida.â
Adventures outside the United States also informed the making of Mountain Moves. During a recent visit to Brazil, the band was astonished to see how enthusiastically audiences at concerts sang, danced, and reveled â a cultural response, they learned, to the scarcity of resources for all but the nationâs wealthiest elites. Elsewhere, the experience of confronting unfamiliar audiences of fired-up Red Hot Chili Peppers fans taught them that one of their greatest skills â the ability to recalibrate their sound nightly to suit a particular venue â wasnât limited to basements or small clubs. The broader strokes of Mountain Moves sprang forth from lessons learned while trying to engage audiences of 20,000+ across the vast distances of Northern European sporting arenas.
If Mountain Moves were a movie, it would be a double feature, Journey to the Center of the Deerhoof and Escape from Planet Deerhoof, shown side-by-side simultaneously. The record epitomizes the band at its very best, exploring new realms between the poles of independence and invention. It also serves as a welcoming point of entry for new listeners outside Deerhoofâs traditional orbit, an opportunity to bring even more voices into the communal conversation. Weâre all in this together.
Deerhoof is John Dieterich, Satomi Matsuzaki, Ed Rodriguez and Greg Saunier. The only thing they see eye-to-eye on is the freedom to not see eye-to-eye. Their guests on Mountain Moves include Awkwafina, Juana Molina, Matana Roberts, Xenia Rubinos, LÃ¦titia Sadier, and Jenn Wasner. Together, they made this record for you. For all of us.
Dangermuffin with Special Guests Buffalo Rose and Daryl Shawn
Heritage-it's more than a place on the map. In their sixth and most purposeful album to date, Dangermuffin's Heritage takes listeners on an eight-song exploration to the roots of human knowledge, before spirituality became "organized."
Where are we really from? Through "Ancient Family" to "One Last Swim," we meet the seeker of truth, looking for wisdom from our prediluvian ancestors. Water and the ocean serve as repeated metaphors in a storyline of healing through spiritual awareness.
Recorded, in part, at the Unitarian Church in Charleston, a National Historic Landmark where congregations have sought truth with open hearts and minds since its founding in 1772, the album's inception and creation echo its motives and message. Heritage is about getting to the shared roots of humanity, and following that all the way out to the branches where the forbidden fruit-the muffin, sweet and simple-begs to be plucked and consumed. But donât take a bite without an open heart.
Gogol Bordello with Special Guest Lucky Chops - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
âSeekers and Finders is just a very magical and playful record for us,â says frontman Eugene HÃ¼tz of renowned gypsy punk band GOGOL BORDELLO about their new album, the seventh in their wide-ranging oeuvre which comes out August 25 , 2017 via Cooking Vinyl. âIt just feels quite complete in capturing the Gogol familia transcontinental lifestyle, every side of itâ¦ the Good, The Bad, and the Snugly.â
Written over an extended time on three different continents, Seekers and Finders finds the nine-piece multi-cultural band in top form - an aural party of violins, accordions, trumpet, marimba amongst the standard rock basics of guitars, drum and bass. âI was still bouncing between Latin America and Eastern Europe when songs were emerging, but finally, as soon as I moved back to New York, it all came into focusâ¦ as it always did for me here,â he explains.
Kicking off with âDid It All,â an incendiary exchange of violin and accordion licks, bolstered by Eugeneâs full-throated ensemble vocals, Seekers and Finders injects an adrenaline-rush into the current music bloodstream. The lilting and breezy title track features fellow Eastern European and close personal friend Regina Spektor who duets with Eugene, adding a comfortable cushion to his wide-eyed and immediate vocals. âIt's the duet of the wandering Jew and the roaming gypsy by the campfire, which we represent most perfectly," he adds. The album's excitement doesnât relent until youâre left breathless with the final fade of âStill That Way.â
Not content to keep the music in its recorded form, Gogol Bordello have announced a full-fledged headlining North American tour to bring the excitement and dynamics to the stage. NYC's brass/woodwind/drums juggernaut LUCKY CHOPS will be direct support.
Formed in 1999, Gogol Bordello took their style of Eastern European-influenced gypsy punk and doused it deep into the underground rock of New York City. Having worked with numerous grandmasters of production including Rick Rubin, Steve Albini, Andrew Scheps, and Victor Van Vugt, Seekers and Finders brings the band full circle with Eugene taking over the producerâs chair. âAs the new songs were emerging, I had a feeling that Seekers and Finders was going to be such an intimate record that, for this time, I felt the need to get behind the wheel myself and try marry the two: everything we learned from grandmasters with the Original Gogol Intention.â
With this album in hand, it seems like not only did he marry the two, heâs throwing one hell of a honeymoon.
Gogol Bordello is Eugene HÃ¼tz (Vocals/Guitar), Sergey Ryabtsev (Violin), Thomas Gobena (Bass), Pedro Erazo-Segovia (Vocals/Percussion), Pasha Newmerzhitsky (Accordion), Boris Pelekh (Guitar), Alfredo Ortiz (Drums), Pamela Racine (Vocals/Percussion), and Vanessa Walters (Vocals/Percussion). Seekers and Finders will be released on August 25, 2017 via Cooking Vinyl. Pre-orders available now here: http://gogolbordello.shop.musictoday.com/store/
(Early Show) Matt Light with Special Guest Ray Zawodni
Mine- Matt Light- one of the hottest comedians in the industry today. - takes
every topic in life and twists them on their head with the perfect mix of charm
and tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Now in remission from Hodgkin's Lymphoma, his
new outlook to make people laugh at life and death, and enjoy the silly
observations of that comes with it, is contagious when he's on stage - as told on the front cover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Matt has his only monthly comedy show case called "Lights out" at the Pittsburgh Improv, he hosts "Man on the street" for WDVE Morning Show and has performed in front of clubs and colleges across the United States. Matt had a viral video from the Pittsburgh Improv that reached over 3 million views, was featured on Good Morning America and he was just recently named Pittsburgh's Best comedian for the third year in a row by Pittsburgh Magazine.
(Late Show) Ray Zawodni with special guest Matt Light
Pittsburgh native, Ray Zawodni has been called a son, a brother, a lover and a loser but he mostly prefers to be called a stand-up comedian. After finishing his fourth year at West Virginia University, the proud Mountaineer returned to the Steel City to pursue a dream that he has had since he was a small child...but when he realized he was too out of shape to be a superhero, he decided to try comedy instead! Over the past 6 years, he has used his devilishly good looks and boyish charm to entertain audiences all over the east coast. Zawodni is a regular performer at the Pittsburgh Improv and the Arcade Comedy Theater.He also performs at colleges across the region including the University of Pittsburgh, California University of Pennsylvania and his alma mater, WVU.
The National - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
Stephen Kellogg was born on November 28, 1976. He grew up in Southern Connecticut and in 1997 began his musical career in Northampton, MA while interning for a local club. A few years later, he married his high school sweet heart and began a well-publicized affection for his role as husband and later, father to their four daughters. Over the last decade he has performed more than 1500 concerts in more than a dozen countries, both solo and with a band. In 2013 Kellogg gave a TEDx Talk about job satisfaction. Recently on a tour of Europe, SK (as fans often refer to him) made a detour to play the Middle East, Africa and an aircraft carrier for the Armed Forces. Upon returning to the USA, he started his annual lyric writing campaign to raise money and awareness in the fight against pediatric cancer. At first glance none of this has anything to do with his music, but Stephen Kellogg would argue, "it is the whole story. The music I make is a reflection of how I spend my time and what I care deeply about."
When it comes to performing, CBS Radio has called Stephen, "the best live act you've never seen." Another writer at No Depression magazine gives him the oddly flattering title of "the best songwriter you're not listening to." Interestingly though while Kellogg may not be a household name at present, he has persisted in building a substantial career, which has landed him on stage with some of the biggest touring acts in the country (Train, Sugarland, OAR, Josh Ritter to name a few), in the billboard charts, and with his songs as the backdrop of numerous films and TV shows (One Tree Hill, Men of a Certain Age, Mercy). Perhaps most importantly to Kellogg, he's ingratiated himself into the lives of his listeners. That sort of mentality has garnered him descriptions like this one from Macaroni Kid, "an unassuming manner, self-deprecating humor, a heart for those around himâ¦100% genuine and utterly moving." His Americana-tinged, sometimes folk, often rock, occasionally pop stylings can make Kellogg hard to define, and his most recent four part album "South, West, North, East" embraces the notion of genre splitting to the fullest.
Recorded literally "all over the map", the premise of "South, West, North, East" was to record each section of the album in a different region of the USA, with different co-producers and different groups of musicians. "I've never felt that the genre was as important as the message and making the record this way was a chance to really explore that idea." The end result is a collection of 20 songs that defy categorization. The Southern rock flavor of "South" (recorded in Nashville and Atlanta) slides into the cowboy motif of "West" (recorded on a farm in Boulder, CO); and the more indie rock feel of "North" (recorded in a cabin in Woodstock, NY) gives way to the songwriter pop of "East" (recorded in Washington DC). "You often hear about the importance of âpicking a lane' and while I completely understand the marketing savvy and focus of that concept, I picked my lane a long time ago; it's called the âwords that describe what I believe to be true' lane."
Against Me! Tour with Special Guests Bleached and Dirty Nil
Laura Jane Grace - vocals/guitar // James Bowman - guitar/vocals // Inge Johansson - bass // Atom Willard - drums
Four years is a measurement of time that America has used for centuries to indicate change. Presidential terms last four years; high school diplomas and college degrees typically take four years apiece, too. Itâs not an arbitrary thing, either: It typically takes that much time from the declaration of something changing for it to actually change.
Meet Laura Jane Grace. Four years ago, the Against Me! frontwoman came out as transgender; 18 months later, she released the bandâs sixth album, the fiery Transgender Dysphoria Blues, one which she began working on before her transition and helped document the struggles she was facing. It was an intensely personal record that took on a life of its own, connecting with thousands of new listeners drawn to Graceâs honesty and complexity while still pleasing Against Me!âs dedicated fanbase.
Now, four years after Graceâs public reintroduction, Against Me! is ready to release their new album, Shape Shift With Me, September 16 on Total Treble. While much has changed in the lives of Grace and her bandmatesâguitarist James Bowman, bassist Inge Johansson and drummer Atom Willardâin that time period, itâs clear that those intervening years have done wonders for creativity.
âEverything with Shape Shift With Me has been really about keeping momentum going,â she says. âIn between every tour we did for Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I would have a couple songs I had written and we would demo them. At the end of two years of touring, we had an album ready to record. Usually, you come off of touring for a record and you're back at square one. But this was so fully formed it felt like there was no choice but to go ahead and record the songs.â
Shape Shift With Me has the distinction of the first album Grace has written truly from the heart, with no metaphorical cloaks cast over the lyrics. Itâs an album about love, that deceptively complex emotion we all struggle with yet has somehow eluded most of Graceâs songwriting for the past 20 years.
As such, Shape Shift With Me is a loose concept album about traveling the world and falling in and out of love, with Grace serving as the narrator. But even though she was opening herself up to new songwriting topics, she knew what her mission was from the start.
âIs there a record that is about relationships from a trans perspective?â she asks rhetorically. âThere needs to be more records about trans rights and everything like that, but feeling like I already did that, I wanted to move on to write commentary on living from a trans perspective. I wanted to write the transgender response to the Rolling Stonesâ Exile On Main St., Liz Phairâs Exile In Guyville and the Streetsâ A Grand Donât Come For Free. All those records are relationship records. Thereâs been an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.â
With Graceâs new motivation came a new outlook on the band, as well. Previous albums found the songwriting process to be a largely solitary experience, but she embraced the spirit of collaboration for Shape Shift With Meâso much so that when Cody Votolato of the Blood Brothers sent her some demos of songs he was working on for another project, she became inspired and ended up co-writing âBoyfriendâ and âNorse Truth,â two of the albumâs most memorable tracks, with him.
âIt was just about opening up to whatever comes my way karmically,â Grace says. âWhatever everyone in the band is willing to offer, I just wanted to be open to it. I didnât want it to be like what it was in the past where it may have felt closed. I want it to be different.â
In a career already full of classic punk records, Shape Shift With Me feels like the definitive Against Me! albumâitâs poppy and catchy (âRebecca,â âSuicide Bomberâ), aggressive and in-your-face (âProVision L-3,â âDead Ratsâ), sentimental and longing (âCrash,â âAll This And Moreâ). Moreover, itâs the culmination of four years of existence as Laura Jane Graceâthereâs no going back now, so she might as well embrace it.
âWhile Iâve always wanted the moon and the stars, I have a certain amount of humbleness,â she admits. âI just want to play shows and make records and write songs. Thatâs what Iâve always wanted to do. Of course I always want the biggest and best things for those shows and records and songs, but when it comes down to it, I just love doing it. I have no other ambitions or career goals.
âDavid Bowie put out 27 full-lengths. Prince put out 39 full-lengths,â Grace remarks. âThat is so inspiring to meâworking, creating art, creating records and let everyone else sort it out. Thatâs what Iâve always wanted to do and thatâs what I will keep on doing.â
Through sleepless nights of listening to broadcaster Art Bellâs paranormal-themed archives, Frankieâs thoughts had turned to "who am I, Iâm not cut out for this business, itâs not for me." She continues, "I was literally in my room in L.A., not knowing how I was going to get out. But out of it all, I just decided to keep making music, because it is what I love and what I do â regardless of the outcome."
Towards the end of her time spent in Los Angeles, Frankie reached out to Jorge Elbrecht (Tamaryn, Gang Gang Dance, Violens) and began sketching what became the basic outline of what felt like a new album. Then, rather fortuitously, Frankie ended up back in Brooklyn with the realization that "in the end, Iâm on my own. I have to do these things on my own."
The months that ensued meant basically working with no budget and finding ways to record in-between days. This time enabled Frankie to experiment musically with a variety of people that ultimately changed the way she worked. "I got a lot of input from people like Dave Harrington (Darkside), who was helpful reconstructing the songs, adding dynamics and changing up the rhythms."
The result of this existential odyssey is Cage Tropical, Frankieâs 4th album. It is awash with vintage synths, painterly effects pedals, upside down atmosphere and reverberating vocals. It evokes a new wave paranormality of sorts that drifts beyond the songs themselves. "My references arenât just music," says Frankie, "I love old sci-fi. They Live is one of my favorite movies ever, same with Suspiria. 80âs sci-fi movies with a John Carpenter soundtrack, with silly synths â that makes it into my file, to the point that Iâll write lyrics incorporating that kind of stuff. Itâs in there."
Beginning with the shimmery, cinematic and percussive sparkling of the albumâs opening track "Love in Rockets," the songâs refrain of "a wheel, a wheel of wasting my life: a wheel, a wheel of wasting my time" immediately alludes to those darker circumstances that led to the creative origins of Cage Tropical."Itâs all essentially based on what happened to me in Los Angeles and then a return to Brooklyn," says Frankie. "Misery turned into something good. The whole record to me is a redemption record and it is the most positive one Iâve made"
"I feel like I am finally free from worrying about an outcome. I donât care. I already lost everything. I already had the worst-case scenario. When that happens, you do become free. In the end, itâs about me rescuing myself via having this record."
Andrew W.K. returns to the stage with his full band for the first time in five years to deliver the total live concert experience on âThe Party Never Dies Tourâ. As he readies the release of a brand new album of rock music, his first in over a decade, itâs safe to say, nobody has partied harder, longer or more fervently than the undisputed King of Partying himself, Andrew W.K.. A one-man music machine possessed of a single-minded, monomaniacal focus to spread a singular message: That to party is to exist, and to exist is to party. This mission he embarked upon in 2001, with the release of his debut single and signature tune âParty Hardâ, and has never swerved from since, while also adopting a dizzying array of roles that took him into virgin territory for a rockânâroll musician. These include being the advice columnist for the Village Voice and Vice Magazine, the host of Cartoon Network game show, and lecture and speaking tours at Yale, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon and the UKâs Oxford University. The party lives on!
Eternal life can seem like an eternity. Ask any vampire. The continuous march of sun ups, sun downs, transformations of form, seductions, cape fittings & exsanguinations. Eventually it all just becomes an endless, tired routine. It all seems so exciting & so sexy to those of us who operate knowing we have limited time. But ask any vampire about the downside of eternal life, & you won't be surprised to hear tales of binge eating garlic bread just to feel the hurt, or of the occasional dangling of a wooden stake just over the center of the rib cage. Electric Six knows all about eternal life. Electric Six has been around forever & it can never die. That's lovely, but it's also very tiring. Fresh Blood For Tired Vampyres is the new release by Electric Six on Metropolis Records. One listen & you will immediately understand that the sexiest vampires are urban vampires. Where E6 has dabbled in dance, hip-hop & R&B in the past, Fresh Blood is the whole enchilada. It's thirteen songs designed to make the listener interested in smooth & nasty fuckin', the way they do it in the city. From the Grandmaster Flash-inspired Number Of The Beast to the super smooth tour of the NYC outer boroughs Mood Is Improving, the listener finds himself immediately deposited into an urban drop zone with hustlas & dickblockas coming from behind every corner. The radio-ready pop hits I'll Be In Touch & Dance With Dark Forces are the tracks that get the listener off the street & into the club. & it would not be an Electric Six album without an epic closer, that being the beautiful & haunting Spacewalkin', the ballad that assures the listener that the vampire has now fed & will live a thousand more years, albeit in outer space. Electric Six changes more frequently than change itself, but ultimately this just means they're never gonna put out the same album twice. Fresh Blood for Tired Vampires is poppy & smooth, nasty & raw...& oh so life affirming, especially if you are undead
RESCHEDULED TO APRIL 13 - NYLON Presents Clean Bandit
Clean Bandit have defied expectations from the very beginning. Their experimental fusion of electronica and classical mustâve seemed like odd bedfellows back when they first played at their own National Rail Disco while still studying at University, but they immediately recognized their potential mass appeal.
Such resolute self-belief was vindicated in awe-inspiring style. Their debut album âNew Eyesâ raced to 1.6 million sales, and was propelled by 12 million sales of their omnipresent global hit âRather Beâ which was the worldâs second biggest-selling track of 2014. The awards soon followed: a Grammy for âBest Dance Recordingâ and then two Ivor Novelloâs wins for the bandâs multi-instrumentalist/producer, Jack Patterson, for âBest Contemporary Songâ and âMost Performed Workâ.
The inevitable question that chases such success is simple â how do you follow it? Clean Banditâs answer was a back-to-basics approach.
âItâs about being able to recognize that a song works as a piece of sheet music and a chord structure â like how a jazz standard has a chord structure, a melody and lyrics,â explains the bandâs dominant creative force Jack Patterson. âYou can that produce and render that however you want. Itâs making sure that all of the songs have that solid foundation.â
âItâs a total contrast to how we made the first album, where it was all produced as it was written,â adds cellist Grace Chatto. Itâs an approach that was particularly evident with âTelephone Bankingâ, in which their collaborator Love Ssega wrote the lyrics during its video shoot.
This creative process resulted in Clean Banditâs anthemic 2016 comeback single âTearsâ, which evolved from a minimalistic piano / vocal composition into the richly layered production which became their fifth domestic Top 5 hit when it was released earlier this summer; the single has reached over 80 million streams and is one of the most successful single releases of this year.
Written by Jack and Sam Romans, an early version of âTearsâ found its way to Simon Cowell who called Jack to ask if his X-Factor winner Louisa Johnson could perform it. His initial reticence was countered by Graceâs enthusiasm for Louisaâs talents, and soon both Jack and drummer Luke (the younger of the two Patterson siblings) were enthralled by her performance.
Always eager to collaborate with new vocalists, Clean Banditâs second new track - the dancehall-tinged âRockabyeâ - featured an especially striking presence in the shape of Sean Paul.
âWhy? Because weâve always wanted to with him,â smiles Grace. ââTemperatureâ and âBreatheâ were such big songs for me growing up. Jack and I went to his gig in Shepherdâs Bush in 2013 and gave him our first EP. We both wanted to do something, but weâve literally been on tour for three years and heâs been really busy as well. Eventually he and Jack got together, and Sean Paul recorded an amazing verse for it.â
Its story of a single mother battling to do her best for her child resonated with many people who lived through similar experiences. Also featuring the soaring vocals of Anne-Marie, âRockabyeâ has provided the bandâs second UK #1 almost three years after âRather Beâ had first conquered the charts. Moreover, aside from X Factor alumni, the single is the first UK #1 by a UK act in 2016 and now heralds Clean Bandit as one of just two UK artists to land two UK Top 5 singles this year.
âIâm really into dancehall music at the moment, so âRockabyeâ is really special and I want to make more songs like that,â declares Grace, adding that sheâs appreciative of co-writer Ina Wroldsenâs contribution to the track. âIt also has a super-hot sweet Scandinavia sound with a reggae element thatâs reminiscent of a lot of the early nineties music that I love.â
The trio have strived to incorporate fresh sounds and textures into Clean Banditâs emerging songbook. In addition to Graceâs love of dancehall, Jack has been inspired by the âconfident, pure and very boldâ production of Frank Oceanâs âBlondeâ album, while both Patterson brothers have experimented with modular synthesizers and acoustic sax techniques. âThose ideas have to work within a coherent album,â asserts Jack. âThereâs no point in just throwing that in for the sake of it.â
Thematically, the rest of the new tracks follow the deeper themes that were presented in âRockabyeâ. As Grace observes, âThe lyrics are a lot darker but the music is full of full and joy, whereas the first album was often the other way around â particularly with âRather Beâ, the lyrics are so pure and happy, but you can hear sadness in the music. Weâve always been interested in juxtaposing different feelings within the music.â
Itâs a stance reiterated with the upbeat âDisconnectâ which features Marina and the Diamonds. Grace interprets the song within the context of a break-up. âYouâre constantly on the phone, looking up the person and wondering what theyâre doing. You need to let go and disconnect from a relationship, but itâs so hard.â
âIt feels very relevant,â opines Jack. âItâs talking about young people who seem to be completely consumed by technology to the extent where itâs suffocating them.â
While the bandâs debut album âNew Eyesâ magnified the attention on a range of rising talents, most notably Jess Glynne, the new songs boast a plethora of big names. Thereâs Sir Elton John, who introduced himself at a party by serenading his new friends with âRather Beâ; they all praise Craig Davidâs almost supernaturally precise vocal gift; and Zara Larsson provides the exuberant energy of musicâs current breed of talent.
One person who isnât present, however, is founding member Neil Amin-Smith who recently quit the band after a decade together. âWe knew something wasnât quite right,â states Luke. âBut it was a major shock when it happened,â interjects Jack. âI felt sick and really sad.â
Grace: âIt was a decision that he didnât take lightly, but he was always one to do other things. After ten years, it was his time to do something else. Heâs definitely irreplaceable.â
His exit is undoubtedly a blow, but itâs also one that has precedence in Clean Bandit history. The departure of vocalist Love Ssega felt like a devastating blow at the time, but it set Clean Bandit on a path towards collaborating with a variety of different singers. Indeed, as Ssega has recently returned for live shows, it feels as if the door will remain open should Amin-Smith want to return in some capacity in the future.
In the hectic life of a working band â shows, promotion and the myriad range of other activities that come unexpectedly along the way â moments of triumph can arrive in spectacularly mundane circumstances. News that âRather Beâ had topped the charts was received by text as the band drove back from a gig in Manchester. For Jack it felt like a âweird, Christmas-type feelingâ, but it was a lot for the then 21-year-old Luke to come to terms with.
âI just really wasnât ready for it,â he admits. âIt was never my goal. It was something that had happened that was completely out of my control and I was quite scared.â He soon adjusted to the situation. âIt wasnât so bad in all honesty,â he says with a glint in his eye, âbecause itâs not so bad being number one!â
As their reputation expanded exponentially from continent-to-continent, their world became ever stranger. Grace remembers a surreal moment being recognized in a small shop in Tokyo, and Luke is still struck by arriving in Jakarta to find so many fans waiting for them that they needed a police escort in order to get to their hotel â where what they thought was going to be straightforward interview instead turned out to be a press conference that recalled the mania of The Beatlesâ heyday.
Fast-forward to Los Angeles: February 2015. Itâs the Grammy Awards and Clean Bandit have just won Best Dance Recording from a Britcentric list of nominees which includes their old friends Disclosure and Basement Jaxx. And yet â as anyone can see â the award has been accepted by someone who most definitely isnât Clean Bandit.
âWe had no idea that we were going to win it, it felt like an absolute long shot,â recalls Jack. âAnd then Wes Clark, a mix engineer, ran up and accepted the award for us because he thought we werenât there, even though we were like ten meters away from him.â
âIt was quite chaotic,â summarizes Luke, before Jack corrects him: âIt was quite annoying!â
Nonetheless, such an accolade means that itâs time to cut loose. Clean Bandit DJed at wild, celeb-packed scenes at the official Warner party at Chateau Marmont before heading to Sam Smithâs bash in the Hollywood Hills where Luke was the last man standing. âIâve never seen you look such a state in my whole life,â chuckles Jack as Luke looks as sheepish as he surely did the next morning.
As well as representing a landmark achievement for years of dedication, a Grammy forecasts a glowing future for Clean Bandit in which anything is possible. Theyâre keen to keep pushing themselves, as evidenced by both their excitement for the expansion of their live band and by Grace and Lukeâs passion for directing their videos. Clean Bandit have carved their own distinct niche in music, and fans the world over have embraced their individuality.