Preview: Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago

Out February 23rd on Matador, Shearwater’s sixth album The Golden Archipelago – is a stunning, dramatic work that merges Art Rock, whispy Folk, nature sounds, and a soundscape of complex, shifting harmonies that move like light on leaves.  From the outset, the album’s “Leaves Eclipse the Light” has an earthy, hypnotic quality that evokes the sense that we aren’t so much beginning an album as we are flowing into a more magnificent space.  Though there are more frenetic moments – “Corridors” and “Castaways” for example – the album seems content to speak in an intimate, frank voice that is just for you alone.

And perhaps that’s best… at the suggestion of the folks over at NPR, I’ve given this album a couple of listens through nice headphones, and it really is immersive and grand.

The Matador review tells us, and I sincerely echo:  “The results are singular, revelatory, and demand to be appreciated as a whole. Islands under siege, islands of impenetrable solitude, islands of the world and islands of the mind – all are here in The Golden Archipelago, whose shores and reefs flicker and beckon, even as they crumble under rising seas. “

You can hear the whole thing after the cut, courtesy of NPR, and you can download a couple of songs, too!


Continue reading “Preview: Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago”

Friday Night Videos – Revenge of the ’80s

So, this afternoon I had the pleasure of giving my girlfriend a tour of the ’80s via YouTube.  We went through white screens, bizarre experiments in contrast, several videos that were twice as long as the song they contained (I’m looking at you, Ms. Lauper), and more leotards than I really feel comfortable discussing.  One curious result: Because she’s from Luxembourg, my girlfriend is actually more familiar with “deep cuts” from Falco’s catalog than she is with Duran Duran or The Cure.  The things we learn, eh?  (And no, no buck teeth on her.)

Anyway, I’ve always found it fascinating to look back at the years after music videos first came into being – and now, with Youtube, I can waste countless hours doing it!  There’s so much experimentation – music videos with plots, really stupid plots, humor, sequels, space age effects, white screens, tour footage, high concept art, the Robert Palmer Girls… it’s all there.  And it’s great to see just how far everything goes before becoming more rigid and formulaic in the 90s.  Of course, it’s also amazingly embarrassing to sit through a lot of this stuff – but perhaps that’s part of the fun.  In thinking about all this, I was reminded of the now-defunct Friday Night Videos.

Now, we had MTV from the beginning.  Cable has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  But for some reason, my father and I would be up late to watch reruns of Friday Night Videos (usually after a lengthy session of Night Stalker on my Intellivision).  From that time, I think The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” and Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” are the two most memorable video-watching experiences for me.  So, whilst giving a tour from the Buggles through to Guns n’ Roses, I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the “gems” that turned up.  You know, have our own little Friday Night Videos revival…

Of course, some of them weren’t embeddable, and you’ll have to visit my playlist to see everything.  Just leave your irony-filter set to on, and click here.  Press play all, and you’re good to go!  And if you can think of anything I should’ve put on the list… let me know!  I’m sure this won’t be the last time…

Continue reading “Friday Night Videos – Revenge of the ’80s”

In Concert: Au Revoir Simone

One day, this site may run out of Au Revoir Simone photos and stories.  It could happen.  But that day will not be today, my friends!  From Central Music Portugal comes the following twelve-track Au Revoir Simone concert.  It’s the perfect way to fight off the Winter gloom… so, grab a mug of cocoa, and enjoy!

Preview: Peter Gabriel – Scratch My Back

I’m back from my dissertation-induced exile to let you know that the The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is streaming a preview of the forthcoming Peter Gabriel album Scratch My Back.  The idea behind the album is straightforward: For each song that Peter Gabriel covers, the artist whose song it was will cover one of Peter’s songs.  That album, to be released at a later date, is called I’ll Scratch Yours.  For the moment, though, we get to enjoy a release that is remarkable not only for its breadth, but for the speed at which Gabriel – a noted perfectionist and long-time studio noodler – has produced it.  Needless to say, covering tracks by Elbow, Radiohead, and Regina Spektor, among others, is a fairly bold career move at this stage in Gabriel’s career.  Fortunately, it all mostly works, and the result is a decidedly intimate, engaging album full of challenging interpretations of songs both familiar and strange.

Go ahead and use the player below to hear the whole album (courtesy of The Guardian).  Also, you can download a copy of Gabriel’s cover of Bon Iver’s “Flume” by following the link below the player.  Lastly, the album’s out on February 15th in the UK, and March 2nd in the US.  Enjoy!

As an added bonus, enjoy this cover (not on the album) of Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” featuring Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip: [audio:|titles=Peter Gabriel and Hot Chip – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa]

Lissie – Why You Runnin’ EP

I might have missed the release of her debut EP – “Why You Runnin'” – back in November, but I’m definitely trying to make up for lost time with Lissie.  From her soulful cover of “Wedding Bells” by Hank Williams (Sr) to the lush, aching deep of “Everywhere I Go,” Lissie’s music just makes your breath catch and your world slow down.  It’s a rare enough feeling that I’ve decided not to cloud it with too much exposition.  But if you want a little bit more, here’s an excerpt of Sean Moeller’s biography of Lissie over at Fat Possum’s site:

She lives by herself, with her dog, in a farmhouse in Ojai, Calif., where she tends to drink wine and will, on a whim, go to the store to buy paint for her rocks so she can construct a medicine wheel in her big backyard. She has all the time to listen to what’s happening in her inner chambers, what’s turning on and off her lights, what’s giving her goosebumps and where she thinks she’ll be led tomorrow.

You can find some of her songs on her myspace page, on daytrotter, down below this text, and wherever else fine music is served.  The EP (on vinyl and cd) is out on Fat Possum Records.  Go and check it out!

[audio:|titles=Lissie – Everywhere I Go] Download

[audio:|titles=Lissie – Wedding Bells] Download