Tress Of Eternity single 'Broken Mirror' due 11 November 2016

Single release: 'Broken Mirror' by Tress Of Eternity
Release date: 11 November 2016
Label: Svart Records
More info: Svart Records YouTube

Atmospheric doom-metallers Trees Of Eternity have shared the lyric video for their new track 'Broken Mirror' - their first since the tragic loss of lead-singer Aleah Starbridge.  Featuring Fredrik Norrman and Mattias Norrman (ex-Katatonia/October Tide) and Kai Hahto (Wintersun, Swallow the Sun).

'Broken Mirror' is featured on their forthcoming album, Hour of the Nightingale which will be released November 11 on Svart Records. Album available to pre-order from August 29th. The announce comes alongside a heartfelt letter from the band:  

Dear friends. 
 
Today is the day we can start to celebrate the music, lyrics and life of our beautiful Queen who so tragically and suddenly crossed the bridge of stars and left this world so young and so soon... So with tears in my eyes but my heart pounding with a proud, victorious beat I can finally tell you that our long awaited album 'Hour of the Nightingale' will be released worldwide on November 11th through Svart Records and pre-orders start August 29th. 
Here is the first single from the album, 'Broken Mirror', with a beautiful and very touching lyric video Vesa Ranta made for the song. 

There really are no words to describe the ultimate weight of the darkness, or the rays of the brightest of light that this album holds within its songs and lyrics. In so many ways this album turned out to be the most important album I've done in my life, and we both loved it from the first note to the last as we wrote it. 

About Aleah... I have never met a person and a musician more connected to the very core of the absolute emotion and the soul of each note and every word she wrote or sang. She wanted her music and lyrics to be 110% honest and truthful, absolutely nothing less would do. Music was her religion and passion, a gateway to her soul and beyond. There will never be another songwriter or voice like hers that can turn the day into the darkest of night, or turn the darkness into blinding light with just one word or a whisper. 

We were very proud to record 'Hour of the Nightingale' together with our friends, band mates and amazing musicians, Kai Hahto, Mattias and Fredrik Norrman who all played their hearts out on this album. And working with another good friend Jens Bogren producing, recording, mixing and mastering the album were were ready to take this music to the world and play it to you all. Sadly that never happened... But this is the point where we can finally start this long journey and celebrate our Queen and singer Aleah Starbridge whose words and music will live forever on. 

My heart is truly black and broken after the tragic loss of Aleah, but every time hearing her voice in these songs something pierces through the darkness like an flaming arrow. I hope this album will do the same to you no matter what might be shadowing your own path and bring you some solace and peace. 

I want to thank you all for showing so much love towards Aleah after her sudden passing. My friends, this is where her legacy starts, through the voice of an angel at this hour of the nightingale. Bless you all. 

Juha and on behalf of Kai, Fredrik and Mattias / Trees of Eternity

 

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The Gentle Good new album due 14 October 2016

Album release: 'Ruins/Adfeilion' by The Gentle Good
Release date:  14 October 2016
Label: Bubblewrap Collective
More info: Band Soundcloud

October  sees  the  return  of  acclaimed  Cardiff  singer-songwriter  and  folk  musician  Gareth Bonello,  also  known  as The  Gentle  Good.  A  collaborator  of  a  great  many  beloved artists, including  Cate  Le  Bon,  Richard  James  (Gorky's Zygotic  Mynci) and  Welsh  Music  Prize winner Georgia Ruth, Bonello’s fourth album Ruins/Adfeilion is one that’s title alone serves best to reflect the disparate themes within. Although not represented by a single concept, the songs have common themes of history, identity and social commentary. The title refers to a realisation that there is no true freedom to make the world as we would choose, but instead have  to  live  amongst  the  ruins  of previous  generations.  Some  of  these  ruins  are beautiful links  to our  past,  providing  a  sense  of place  and cultural  identity  for  instance, whilst  others are dangerous obstacles that hinder our progress.  

As  the  follow-up  to  2013’s Y  Bardd  Anfarwol  (The  Immortal  Bard) –  an  ambitious intercontinental project  during  which  Bonello  travelled  to  Chengdu,  China,  to  create  a project combining both Welsh and Chinese traditions - Ruins/Adfeilion looks much closer to home,  but  with  no  lesser  global outlook. Gwen  Lliw’r  Lili  (Gwen  colour  of  the  Lilly)  is  a fitting  album  opener  -  being  a  traditional Welsh  folk  song  from  the  Maria  Jane Williams Collection,  Ancient  National  Airs  of  Gwent  and Morgannwg (1844) –  and  an outward statement on the influence that the continuing influence of Welsh folk music on his writing. The guitar instrumental Un i Sain Ffagan (One for Saint Fagans), for instance, is Bonello’s own ode to his former place of employment, Saint Fagans Natural History Museum, and the spot where he himself first discovered traditional Welsh music. 

Many of the songs featured here pay tribute to the past whilst others address, in very direct terms, contemporary issues.  

Rivers of  Gold is  a  plaintive and  simple  protest  song  tackling the  subject of  trickle down economics, written in response to rising wealth inequality and the fact that it is the poor that have  had to  bear  the  brunt of  austerity.  Here  Bonello  channels Guthrie,  Dylan –  complete with harmonica solo –and there’s a touch of Stuart Murdoch in the lilting refrain “Rivers of gold / What a sight to behold / They’re the rivers that never will run.”In turn, Bound For Lampedusa tells  the  story of  Lampedusa,  a tiny  Italian  island close to  the Libyan  coast, noted  for  its acceptance of  thousands of  African refugees,  fleeing  conflict and  poverty.  The song was penned in despair at the lack of an appropriate response from both the UK and the EU to the refugee crisis, with the scale of some of the journeys taken perhaps reflected by the song’s near 7-minute length, as Bonello explains; “Thousands have lost their lives and many more continue to  risk  everything to  make  the  crossing in  search of  a  better life in  Europe. The song is told from the perspective of a group of refugees drifting in the Mediterranean, wondering    what    their    fate    will    be.    Seb    Goldfinch    wrote   the   string   and brass accompaniment so  beautifully  performed by  the  Mavron  Quartet,  and Jack  and  Callum provided  the  rhythm  section.  Profit  from  this  track  will be  donated to Oasis  Cardiff,  a centre  that provides  much  needed  social  services to  refugees  and asylum seekers in  the city.”

Elsewhere, Suffer   The   Small   Birds(a   deliberate   misquote   from   Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus)  makes the  political  point of  not  ignoring  the  little  voice. “The eagle  suffers the little birds to  sing  and is  not  careful  what  they  mean  thereby, knowing  that  with  the shadow of  his wings, he  can at  pleasure  stint  their melody.” Winston  Churchill is  said to have  used  the  quote after  World  War II,  his  attitude being that  they  needn’t  listen to  the concerns of the smaller nations, ultimately sowing the seeds for future conflict in the region.  

Tradition is then turned on its head for Pen draw’r Byd (The Far Side of The World), a song Bonello describes as  his “feminist  zombie  folk song”, saying; “This is  a  song  about  a young girl awaiting the return of her sailor boy. These tragic females commonly appear in Welsh folk song  and  their  role is  almost  always to  wander some bleak shoreline  and  helplessly yearn for the return of their lost love, who usually never comes back. I wanted to turn the tradition around  and so in  this  song  the young  lady curses the  sea  and wishes it be  left to the lonesome  cries of  the  seagulls. In  the  last verse she tells  herself that  even if  her  young love  should  return  from  the  dead  complete  with a crown of  sand and  seaweed in  his  hair she  would  still  beg  the  moon to  drag  the  sea and everything in it to  the  far  side of  the world.”

Album  closer Merch  y  Morfa  (Estuary Girl) makes  up  the album’s  sombre  lament  for  his late   grandmother,   featuring   a   field   recording   of   a   Curlew’s   fittingly   mournful   cry. Ruins/Adfeilion is  The  Gentle  Good’s message  to  world in  2016;  a  biting  commentary,  a dance with the past, a scorning of the present, and a new perspective on the traditional.  

The Musicians - Fiona Bassett (French Horn), Gareth Bonello (Lead Vocal, Guitars, Piano, Harmonium, Harmonica), Callum Duggan (Double Bass), Jack Egglestone (Drums & Percussion), Dylan Fowler (Mandocello & Lap Steel), Ceri Jones (Trombone), Georgia Ruth Williams (Harp & vocals), Tomos Williams (Trumpet) Strings performed by The Mavron QuartetChristiana Mavron (First Violin), Katy Rowe (Second Violin), Niamh Ferris (Viola), Beatrice Newman (Cello) 

Press reaction to date

**** - Mojo

“Spell-binding” – Uncut

“Relaxed but sturdy Celtic melodies.” – The Guardian

“Certain to glide into people’s sonic subconscious as gently and wonderfully as Gareth Bonello’s alias suggests.” – The Line Of Best Fit

“The Gentle Good, and its delicate, beautifully arranged songs deserve to reach a wider audience.” – The 405

“Unassumingly lovely.” – fRoots

“Exceptional.” – Folk Radio

 

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Chain Wallet debut album due 7 October 2016

Album release: Chain Wallet
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Jansen Plateproduksjon
More info: Band Soundcloud

It can’t be denied that there is something sorrowful behind the Bergen-based, lo-fi dream/psych pop trio Chain Wallet, and they can’t hide that their music suits the environment wherein it was created. It may be a cliché that it always rains in the band’s hometown, but when you play Chain Wallet’s self-titled debut album, it’s not too difficult imagine the mist hanging heavily over their dystopian vision of Bergen.  
 
Even though feelings of nostalgia and melancholy lurk in the Scandinavian shadows, it’s not difficult to find indie-pop gold in its purest form, glittering below the heavy layers of synth and reverb. Tracks like ‘Shade’ and ‘Abroad’ have an up-tempo urgency to them which calls to mind bands like Motorama, whereas other dreamy psych ballads like ‘Muted Colours’ and ‘Stuck In The Fall’ occupy a rich and hazy middle ground between Diiv and Wild Nothing. Though Chain Wallet may not have many genre colleagues in Norway, they easily join the ranks behind international indie counterparts like Twin Shadow or Beach Fossils.  
 
On their debut album, Chain Wallet explore themes of betrayal, idleness and crushed dreams against the backdrop of an existential breakdown. Wrapped in the shimmer and haze of the lo-fi soundscape that they conjure, the album is loosely based in the same universe, and portrays different aspects of the quarter-life crisis.  
 
Frode Boris from the band explains the band’s ethos and sound: “We want to capture the acute distress of an afflicted character; his self-indulgent pity, gradual loss of touch with reality and his forlorn attempts on returning to normal life. The abrupt disintegration unveils interesting tensions between urgency and inertia. The album is about fragmented memories, unfulfilled ambitions and the quiet whisper of a stranger.” 
 
With this debut the band show their absolute strength. Not just purveyors of somber earworms, they also possess a real skill for unifying the light and the dark, blurring the line between sorrow and happiness, leaving an enduring sense of quiet elation, after a journey that is both contemplative and pensive. That’s the impact good music should have.  

Press Reaction To Date

“...the band create a sense of urgency without ever really rushing towards anything...’’ – The 405
 
“Ones To Watch” – The Guardian
 
“New Wave-inflected widescreen shoegaze-pop... all ringing guitars and instagrammed vocals, the dreamy vibe accompanied by deceptively stadium-ready hooks’’ – Ja Ja Ja
 
“[Chain Wallet] have the chiming guitars and slightly fey vocals, but with the added twist of a bit of C86 dreaminess’’ – Nordic Spotlight

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Albert Af Ekenstam debut album our 14 October 2016

Album release: 'Ashes' by Albert af Ekenstam
Release date: 14 October 2016
Label: Kning Disk
More info: Artist website

Nine months have passed – have fallen like red autumn leaves to the ground –since I first heard Albert af Ekenstam’s melancholic solo material. 

During this time Albert has, amongst other things, released two singles on Kning Disk ('Walking' and 'Angel Liz'), acted as a warm up act for The Posies and Bear’s Den, moved from Gothenburg to Stockholm and appeared in prestigious Swedish music magazines such as Sonic and HYMN.  Naming his influences as Explosions in the Sky, Bon Iver and Mogwai, it is more than easy to lose yourself over and over in his mournful guitars, grandiose arrangements, heartfelt voice and poignant lyricism.  

What days and nights! On the 14th of October Albert of Ekenstam’s debut album ‘Ashes’ will meet its expectant audience. Singer/guitarist Sumie Nagano (whose self-titled album on Bella Union is a must for all who love unique voices), drummer/ keyboardist/producer Filip Leyman (who, together with Albert, make up the post-rock constellation Tempel) and trumpeter Max Lindahl (known from a number of jazz bands) have all helped Albert bring it to fruition. 

What a record it is! Like Elliot Smith (rest in peace) and Damien Jurado before him, Albert is a brave and straightforward singer-songwriter. His melodies and lyrics are like uncensored and infinitely beautiful letters – without euphemisms and false chords they let you know what’s on his mind. At the same time, they’re universal – if you’ve loved and lost you can relate to them completely. 

And yet it is full of hope! Albert’s mother died when he was 12 years old and him and his sister had to bring themselves up alone for the most part. Much of the album touches on loneliness and how he had to take responsibility early in his life in order to manage his own future –including his relationships and how he learnt to build a ‘safe point’ from within before relying on others. Songs like ‘The Devil Bird’ tell the tale of fighting to choose the right way you want to live and not living to the standards built up by outsiders. 

They also stir the internal movie projector. With “Ashes” on the stereo and eyes closed, memory fragments, glowing emotions and pure dreams fly and stir through your soul. Filip’s production (which you’ve heard on Anna von Hausswolff’s two latest albums) is both intimate and grand at the same time, making this personal cinematic experience even more sensational. 
What more can you ask for? 

 

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Seth Lakeman album released 16 September 2016

Album release: 'Ballads Of The Broken Few' by Seth Lakeman
Release date: 16 September 2016
Label: Cooking Vinyl
More info: Artist website

Seth Lakeman's eighth studio album is a stunning combination of his dynamic songwriting and playing, the genius of legendary producer Ethan Johns and the sublime harmony vocals of emerging young female trio Wildwood Kin. Between them they have conjured up an epic, soulful album of compelling songs that are stripped back to their very essence.

Ethan Johns has worked with the likes of Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, The Staves and Crosby, Stills and Nash.  He agreed to produce the album after Seth sent him one roughly recorded song on his mobile phone, with Wildwood Kin adding their lush harmonies to his own gritty lead vocals.

Continuing Seth's unique vision for recording in inspiring locations – previous albums have been recorded in a church and a copper mine - the 11 tracks for Ballads of the Broken Few were cut live with an organic, acoustic vibe in the Great Hall of a Jacobean Manor House and they shine with the atmosphere of that setting. The spiritual-sounding songs have a trance-like quality: they encompass evocative contemporary messages, yet have an ethereal sound as if they have been hanging in the air for centuries. Ethan has let nothing impair the raw, visceral content - just enshrined the pure sounds of voices and ringing instruments. He comments "The kind of record I like captures human performance."

The mood is set from track one. Seths soaring vocals are perfectly complimented by the seamless harmonies of Wildwood Kin - two sisters (Emillie and Beth Key) and their cousin (Meghann Loney), also from Devon. When Seth met them at a local charity gig, he was immediately struck by their effortless ability to create intuitive harmonies.

There is Seth's trademark stomp, his swooping, sighing and aching fiddle and viola, and strident electric tenor guitar. Multi-instrumentalist Ethan can't resist joining in on subtle underlying "dirty" electric guitar, mandolin and even hurdy-gurdy! "

'Ballads of the Broken Few' has seven original tracks plus a striking cover of 'Anna Lee', the Laurelyn Dossett song from Levon Helm's Grammy-winning 'Dirt Farmer' album. Seth also revisited the Cecil Sharp House archive featured in 'The Full English' project, which resulted in him and fellow leading British folk musicians claiming 'Best Group' and 'Best Album' at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He has re-worked several traditional broadsides, including 'The Stranger' and 'The Willow Tree', and there is also his take on a 19th century moralistic song, 'Pulling Hard Against the Stream'. The album will be available on CD, vinyl and digital.

Since the Mercury Prize nominated 'Kitty Jay' (recorded in his kitchen for £300), the follow-up gold selling 'Freedom Fields' and his last, highly acclaimed offering, 'Word of Mouth', a deft collection of mini musical biographies of colourful West Country characters, Seth Lakeman has relentlessly pushed his musical boundaries and those of folk and roots music. His innovative approach, ground-breaking albums and powerful live performances have put him at the forefront of the re-emergence of British folk and successfully steered it into the mainstream. With 'Ballads of the Broken Few' Seth demonstrates yet again that, far from being complacent, he is constantly exploring new and bold musical paths.  

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Georgia Ruth new album due7 October 2016

Album release:  'Fossil Scale' by Georgia Ruth
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Navigator Records
More info: Artist website

Welsh singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Ruth has announced a new album 'Fossil Scale', due for release on October 7, 2016 via Navigator Records. The record is the follow up to 2013’s Welsh Music Prize winning Week Of Pines - a feat Georgia never contemplated she’d achieve for her critically acclaimed, bilingual debut album. The record prompted The  Guardian to tip her as ‘One of the British folk discoveries of the year’, with Georgia going on to be twice nominated in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, alongside radio support across Radio 1 and 6Music. UK live dates to support the release of 'Fossil Scale' are expected to be announced shortly. 
 
'Fossil Scale' was written in Caernarfon, a town in North Wales defined by its space and tranquil landscape that Georgia, at the time, called home. The ancient surroundings of the town– its body of water and the neighbouring Snowdonia mountains - came to exert as strong a bearing on 'Fossil Scale' as the hours of Beck, Radiohead and Bowie albums that tracked this writing period. Though it wasn’t until Georgia stumbled upon a news article about a mysterious ‘mutant-fish’ - with reptilian head & fossilised scales- discovered by Russian fishermen, that she began to quantify her own life in relation to her immutable surroundings. This fish became something of a representation of those constants, as Georgia began to explore the detachment from them that modern life had brought about. 
 
Switching out her previous go-to writing tool- the harp- for a piano in search of a more expansive yet ambient sound, Georgia headed into the familiar setting of Snowdonia’s Bryn Derwen Studio in January 2015, to lay down the foundations of what would become Fossil Scale. When the sale of the studio just 5 days into recording threw plans awry, recording time was then split between studios in London and Cardiff – in the case of the latter, at friends and collaborators Manic Street Preachers’ Faster Studios (Georgia sung on ‘Divine Youth’, a track that featured on the Manics’ Futurology album). The album was finally pieced together in Mwnci Studios, co-produced with Italian producer Marta Salogni (Phil Selway, Eliot Sumner) and long-time collaborator David Wrench (Caribou, Bat For Lashes) some 11 months after those initial sessions began. 

During the year long period of recording, Georgia herself also relocated from Caernarfon to Cardiff- a move she considers pivotal to the album’s development, enabling her to further explore themes of detachment as she moved and lived around the world’s quiet constants. The comparative clamour of city life prompted those songs written in the quiet of Caernarfon to shed skin and inhabit a different world, mirroring Georgia’s own move. Thus, Fossil Scale is a marked progression in song-writing and style, driven heavily by keys, synths, guitars and layered recorders, alongside an Indian stringed instrument called the sarangi. The latter came about following an introduction to Hindustani classical music during time spent on The British Council's 'Folk Nations' project in Kolkata, where Georgia met James Yorkston-collaborator Suhail Yusuf Khan, who fittingly went on to play the instrument on Fossil Scale. In particular, tracks like the brass-capped ‘Good Milk’ and the album’s playful title track bear the stunning effects of this augmented instrumentation and layering, marking an adept departure from the more traditional folk foundations of ‘Grand Tour’, and the songs which comprised Week of Pines. 
 
Georgia currently still finds time to present regularly for the BBC’s Welsh-speaking radio arm BBC Cymru, where the selections during her 3 hour weekly programme champion not only the camaraderie felt between Welsh musicians, but the language itself. It’s little surprise then, that Fossil Scale is imbued with both- Georgia dips into her native Welsh on a sparsely tender cover of Meic Stevens’ ‘Sylvia’, whilst school-friend Meilyr Jones sings on the title track, ‘The Doldrums’ and ‘When I Was Blue’.  
 
Ultimately, whilst 'Fossil Scale' is a homage to the world’s, and life’s inscrutable constants, it is more pertinently a snapshot which captures Georgia Ruth as a young artist in unmistakeable transition. 

Press reaction to date

“A dazzling debut, rich with sweet pain and joy” - The Independent **** 

“Her own debut is a wonder, full of longing and melody” - MOJO **** 

“It could have been made in 1968, in the loveliest possible way” - Indy on Sunday **** 

“One of the British folk discoveries of the year” - The Guardian

“Heaven.” - Lauren Laverne, 6Music

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Black Surf debut EP out 26 August 2016

EP Release: 'Let’s Pretend It’s Summer' by Black Surf
Release date: 26 August
Label: Cowboy Records
More info: Band Soundcloud

Black Surf have an unusual backstory having formed in 2014 through the wonders of FaceTime and Dropbox. The fruits of their exchanges between Leeds, UK and Sydney, Australia have come to form their debut EP 'Let’s Pretend It’s Summer', recorded at Greenmount Studios (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses, The Vaccines). 
 
Not much longer than 10 minutes in its entirety, Black Surf specialise in the kind of fuzzed-up, adrenaline-shot indie-rock that’s straight to the point and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The reckless pace of opening track Sink’s synth-flecked bubblegum buzz is matched only by its enthusiasm and wild abandon. Bastard Man floats Pinkerton-era Weezer tones complete with its own narcissist complex, as vocalist Ali Epstone sings “I think I’m falling for you / I think I’m falling for me more.” before the amped-up motivational sermon of Get Up implores you to, well, Get Up / Get Out / Get Over.” EP Closer Baby Blue Washburn offers a moment of respite ahead of – what else – a huge chorus. Long Live Black Surf.  

Press reaction to date

“Oooh Weee Oooh they sound just like something brilliant.” - Rock Sound

“waves of outwardly catchy choruses and sun blistered chords.” - The 405

“…imbued with a far, weary, Weezer-iness that we just can’t stop huffing.” - Total Guitar

“Black Surf have a gift for thumping great melody that clearly threatens to propel them far beyond Yorkshire's shapely borders” - Classic Rock

“Keep a look out for more tracks from these guys in the coming months. We have a feeling you'll be hearing their name a lot.” - Pure Volume

 

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Heidi Talbot album released 23 Sept 2016

Album release: 'Here We Go, 1, 2, 3...' by Heidi Talbot
Release date: 23 September 2016
Label: Navigator Records
More info: Artist website

Heidi Talbot's fifth solo LP plays to the tune of quiet skips and giant leaps. It crosses the ages, jumps into the unknown, traverses oceans and musical styles – from folk, through Americana, to classic pop, and back again. The Co Kildare singer / songwriter, who now resides in Scotland with her musical partner and husband John McCusker, is joined by a host of musicians and co-writers on the album, including Louis Abbott (Admiral Fallow), Duke Special, Adam Holmes and Boo Hewerdine. 

“The title, Here We Go, 1, 2, 3, takes that idea of jumping, whether it's into new musical territories, new bands, a new studio, new label, new family – new everything, really,” says Talbot, the recipient of 2008's Indie Acoustic award and multiple BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations. “It's about taking a chance. I've written eight out of the 10 songs on this album in some context, whether it's the lyrics or the music – that's the most I've ever contributed. And it's quite personal. A lot has happened since my last album. We've built a recording studio, and started a label, and I've got a different band. I've had a second daughter. I've lost my mum. So, it feels like – okay, get ready to jump...” Also: we all need someone to catch us.

Here We Go, 1, 2, 3 explores the tricks and traits of time – the way it passes, rushes, falls back on itself. The way it stops. “The album was written over a couple of years,” Talbot says. “I stopped touring, stopped recording, took some time after having another baby, and sorted everything out in my head a little bit.” And although it was recorded in just 10 days - “it's the quickest album I've ever made,” she offers – it's a measured and unhurried long-player which reflects on birth, and death, and getting older, from gorgeous country-pop meditation 'The Year That I Was Born' (co-written with Louis Abbott), through downtime bluegrass psalm 'Do You Ever Think Of Me', to exquisite mortal jig 'Time To Rest', written by Adam Holmes.

One of the album's earliest songs was 'Song For Rose (Will You Remember Me)'. “I wrote that about the time when my mum was sick, and you know what's going to happen, but you'd do anything to change it – so you make all these sorts of deals, with God or whoever you believe in, to have this not happen,” Talbot explains. “I did all my crying while I was writing it, so now I can sing it. And talk about it. That helped a lot.” 

The album revels in the comforting, and restorative, powers of music: it's never maudlin or overly dark. 'Song For Rose (Will You Remember Me)' is not sorrowful, but rather gently uplifting. It ends on a lullaby, with a child's voice: a celebration of familial birth, and re-birth. “That's my little girl singing at the end,” Talbot offers. “When we played her it back she was like – I can't hear me! Turn me up!”

This sense of family and home is reinforced by the album having been recorded in Talbot and McCusker's self-built studio, housed in a converted eighteenth-century bothy next to where they live in the Scottish Borders. “Recording the album in our own studio was amazing,” Talbot says. “You're in your own environment, you're comfortable, you've got all the time you need, and the kids can come over. It feels like everyone can be a part of it.”

Everyone, on this occasion, means Talbot (voice, ukulele) and producer McCusker (violin, cittern, whistles, harmonium) – plus Innes White (guitar, mandolin), James Lindsay (double bass), James Mckintosh (drums, percussion), Megan Henderson (piano, harmonium), Toby Shippey (trumpet), Andy Seward (banjo), Donald Shaw (harmonium, Wurlitzer, accordion), Michael McGoldrick (Uilleann pipes, whistles), Toby Shaer (whistle), Adam Holmes (vocals), Louis Abbott (vocals, electric guitar), Su-a Lee (Cello) and Sorren Maclean (backing vocals, electric guitar). A barnful, and then some.

Talbot has not always been so settled. Celestial torchsong 'Chelsea Piers' (co-written with Duke Special and inspired by The Pogues) conjures a languid, late-night New York and recalls Talbot's years in the US, during which she sang with Cherish The Ladies, performed at the White House, and dreamed of home. Her cover of Natalie Merchant's 'Motherland' is particularly resonant in light of this. 

The title track is inspired by an old gospel song. “I loved the idea of it being quite uplifting, of it not being a funeral hymn, even though it's about death,” Talbot offers. The same could be said of a bright and beautiful album that touches on grief, depression and love. “It's as sad as you want it to be,” she says, smiling. It's equally heartening, cheering and enlightening. Hope springs eternal.

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Losers new album due 9 Sept 2016

Album release: ‘How To Ruin Other People’ s Futures’ by Losers
Release date: 9 September 2016
Label: 61 Seconds Records
More info: Band website

Made up of Tom Bellamy (ex-Cooper Temple Clause), Paul Mullen (ex-YourCodeNameIs:Milo/Young Legionnaire, Eddy TM (DJ/new music radio and club guru) and Dean Pearson (Vennart, British Theatre) and with years of history across a huge range musical landscapes, Losers are the rarest of species, a band with no safety net and no conformist formula to follow. Their previous material has crossed over a huge range of styles and genres with their earlier dance driven material developing all the way into the more rock driven and poignant emotive output of their previous album. Now, Losers are back with another more developed new outlook, as a new band, and more importantly, with their new album ‘How To Ruin Other People’s Futures’.  
 
Loser’s previous album ‘…and so we shall never part’ was received with critical acclaim across a huge range of publications spanning from electronic all the way through to the rock press. The album also saw multiple tracks synced to the likes of the London 2012 Olympics, Game Of Thrones, CSI, Michael Bay’s Black Sails, Xbox title Far Cry 3 and more. Achieving acclaim across the industry ‘…and so we shall never part’ has also earned plaudits from the likes of Zane Low and Rob Da Bank alongside Gary Numan and the legendary Sisters Of Mercy, who both handpicked the band to tour with them in 2013 and 2014 respectively. 
 
For long-time Losers fans ‘How To Ruin Other People’s Futures’ will be seen as a rapid evolution to the bands top form. The new album is a free falling head first descent into the bands new dark, brooding and emotionally brutal sound. Crushing electronics reminiscent of HEALTH collide with instrumental and vocal dynamics and intensity that call to mind the sounds of early-Nine Inch Nails, whilst the lyrics are far more visceral and caustic than before. On tracks such as ‘Chainsaw’ and ‘This Is A War’ Losers exhibit their newly found raw power and abrasive edge, at times calling to mind the electronic punk edge of early-Prodigy albums. The lyrics are contemplative and full of ferocity, however they also induce feelings of transfiguring uplift. ‘How To Ruin Other People’s Futures’ is the culmination of what Losers have been working towards over the past four years, harking back to the more guitar driven, melodic work of their second album, and even the more dance driven sound of their earlier incarnation, whilst eagerly succumbing to their darker and heavier sensibilities.  
 
Speaking about the new album, Tom Bellamy, said: “We had no rules when we began this record. Only to build on the epic noise we had been making in London but this time round having the isolation and alienation of a residential studio in the middle of a Brandenburg forest. The sound that came out is the documentation of a harrowing journey where two band members ended up joining a third in therapy.” 
 
There are countless wonders to unearth and embrace in ‘How To Ruin Other People’s Futures’, the album leads the band on journey into a more expansive, inventive, and adventurous territory than ever before. Losers have proven yet again that they are not willing to be pigeon-holed, and albums that manage to merge such a wide variety of styles and exhibit such a multitude of musical landscapes are rare. Losers have now morphed into a more muscular beast, flexing a heavier, gilt-edged sound than their previous manifestations, producing a romantically damaged but melodically immaculate third album.

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The Lucid Dream album due 23 Sept 2016

Album release:  'Compulsion Songs'  by The Lucid Dream
Release date: 23 September 2016
Label: Holy You Are Recordings
More info: Band website

Compulsion  Songs  is  the  3rd  album  from  Carlisle's The  Lucid  Dream.  Rather  than  bathe in  the  critical acclaim  of  their  recent  2nd  album,  The  Lucid  Dream  are  quick  out  the blocks,  venturing  into  pastures  new again,  making  no  secret  of  their  aim  to  separate themselves  from  their  peers  as  much  as  possible.  On Compulsion  Songs, pulling away from the pack is the order of the day, and the  ideas on show here reaffirm the many claims that The Lucid Dream  are one of the most important, diverse and exciting bands in the UK at present. Compulsion Songs is a demonstration of the band’s skill in binding the sounds of their broadening musical palette through their unifying songcraft.  

Recorded  at  Whitewood Studios,  Liverpool,  with  Rob  Whiteley,  the  album  is produced alongside  long-time collaborator  Ross  Halden  (Ghost  Town  Studios,  Leeds). Recent  single Bad  Texan  (the first work  from  the album  unveiled  via  12'  vinyl  in  March this  year)  sees  the  band  move  into dancefloor  meets  Krautrock.  The Krautrock/kosmiche groove  is  also  present  alongside new-wave  in  the 2-part  opus Nadir/Epitaph. 21st Century   is   quite   appropriately   the   nearest    the   band   get   to   a   protest   song,   a   2-minute   white noise/garage/rockabilly blast,  inspired  by  a  heavy  dose of  Beastie  Boys  listening.  Elsewhere,  the  bustling  of The Emptiest  Place  is  Morricone meets  60s  L.A, Stormy  Waters  bows  to  the  melodies  of The Stone Roses/The  Byrds, warping  them  with  a  sinister  twist  in  the  vein  of  Spiritualized. The  album’s showpiece however comes via the 8-minute space-dub of I'm A Star In My Own Right, as the band hit a full on Kingston, Jamaica dub/groove, set as it is to contorting, reverb-fueled passages.

Compulsion Songs follows 2015’s critically acclaimed 2nd album, which gained plaudits from Drowned  In Sound (who named the album #7 UK album of the year/#18 world album, and overall highest placed 'psych' album), Uncut, Q, Clash, Louder Than War, The Skinny, and major radio support from BBC Radio 1 (Huw Stephens), BBC Radio 2 (Huey Morgan), and BBC 6 Music (Lauren Laverne, Marc Riley (inc.  2  sessions),  Steve  Lamacq, Gideon  Coe,  Stuart Maconie,  Tom  Robinson).  'Mona Lisa', the opening  track  from  the album,  was  also included in The  Observer’s 'Critics  Favourite  Tracks  Of  2015' playlist.  The vinyl  pressing  of  the album  (750  copies)  sold  out  on  the  day  of  release,  and  was backed  by  a European  tour across  11  countries,  slots  at Indouro  Fest (Portugal), Eindhoven  Psych  Lab (Holland), and supports to Clinic and A Place To Bury Strangers.  

Compulsion   Songs   is   released   on   23rd   September   via   Holy   Are   You   Recordings   (CD/ltd   coloured vinyl/vinyl/download).

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HOO HAs EP due 29 July 2016

EP release: HOO HAs
Release date: 29 July 2016
More info: Band website

HOO HAs are an indie-rock quartet hailing from London. Frontman Jamie started off writing poetry which progressed to working alongside his old friend the late Robb Skipper, helping to write lyrics for his post-Holloways projects. After meeting Mark and Adam when they were performing in various musical outfits (including Hares), jamming at parties led to sessions above the Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park and electric late night gigs downstairs followed soon after. Incendiary live shows have always been a big part of HOO HAs heritage and they have since played shows supporting the likes of Gaz Coombes and alongside their good friends in the local scene such as: Francobollo, LA Salami, Mohit, Amaroun and Itchy Teeth. 
 
As the frontman of HOO HAs, Jamie’s deadpan vocal belies his clever off-kilter narratives about the 21st-century experience, which are always brutally honest and entertaining. The band substitute cynicism and pretention for wit and dark sarcastic humour, the lyrical content of the EP is full of 90’s Britpop nonchalance. It’s frank, yet charmingly candid, and whilst sharp, the driving force behind HOO HAs songwriting is its idiosyncratic simplicity. 
 
Combining cocky and powerful guitar hooks with anthemic vocal melodies and memorable shout-along lyrics, tracks such as ‘This is the New Me’ and ‘Hanna’ feel like they have been plucked from golden-era of NME indie. The band cite their influences as everything from “from JJ Cale to J Dilla”, and it shows, there are clear influences in the earlier tracks on the EP from the likes of Blur, whilst also calling to mind the sounds of Babyshambles and at times Art Brut. The latter tracks on the EP such as ‘Tippex Jeans’ display a completely different element of the HOO HAs songwriting technique with hints of Captain Beefheart and more prog-blues infused guitar lines and psych driven bass parts. Similarly the vocals take a beguiling avant-garde tone and melody whilst the lyrics still retain their acuity. 
 
On the songwriting behind their lead single, ‘Hanna’, Jamie said: "Hanna was written in the heat of a bitter moment. The end of a relationship can lead to you saying things despite knowing there is more to the story. Now looking back to when I was writing Hanna I feel I may have been focusing on her immaturity to avoid confronting my own..." 
 
This EP, much like 21st Century life, is a fast one-way play-through, tackling a whole range of emotions and post-millennial topics. It’s a loose narrative of the low-stakes anxiety that prods us throughout our waking lives, touching on topics usually only discovered post ‘coming of age’ along with the realisation that things are only as hard as you make them for yourself. HOO HAs are writing genuine songs about modern living and irreverently having a good time doing it, and as far as introductions go, their uninhibited and refreshingly original debut is as proficient as it is authentic. It’s reflective, percipient and demands multiple listens – It’s not one to be missed.  

Press reaction to date

“Irresistible!” – John Kennedy, Radio X
 
“I Love This! Terrific Stuff” – Gary Crowley, BBC Introducing

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KHOMPA album due 2 Sept 2016

Album release: ‘The Shape Of Drums To Come’ by KHOMPA
Release date: 2 September 2016
Label: Monotreme Records
More info: Artist website

In addition to touring Europe numerous times with his instrumental power trio STEARICA, sharing the stage with bands such as Girls Against Boys, Acid Mothers Temple, NoMeansNo, Dälek, Damo Suzuki and Coliseum, as well as working as a session player with several Italian acts, Davide Compagnoni has been hard at work developing his electrifying new solo project KHOMPA: an adventurous mix of drumming, electronics and cutting edge drum triggering technology. 
 
KHOMPA is a unique audiovisual live act whose main elements are: a drummer, a conventional drum kit, 4 drum triggers, a laptop and a stepsequencer. Each drum controls a virtual musical instrument (synthesizers, samplers, etc.) within Ableton Live music software that, in combination with a custom stepsequencer (developed with MaxforLive app), allows Davide to perform real melodies/electronic orchestration without the use of any backing track, loops or click track. 100% live. KHOMPA's live show will also be enhanced by an innovative custom lightning set that will be controlled by the same triggers used for the music.  
 
Musically, ‘The Shape Of Drums To Come’ is a multifarious amalgamation of styles and genres. Whilst it is predominantly an electronic record, in keeping with the title (a tribute to the seminal ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’ by Refused), the album is laced with a brilliantly challenging punk attitude whilst flirting with the avant-garde, using experimental rhythms and atmospherics. It’s no surprise that the album is due to be released via Monotreme Records (home to the likes of This Will Destroy You, 65daysofstatic and sleepmakeswaves). 
 
Tracks such as opener, ‘Nettle Empire’, combine complex rhythms with mellifluous and harmonious synth based melodies. It’s a clear display of technical prowess, without losing its intricate and well-formed composition and song structuring. Other tracks such as ‘The Shape’ and ‘Louder’ lean more towards the heavier side of the spectrum, sonically sitting somewhere in between the harsh electronic noise of early-HEALTH and Fuck Buttons and Davide’s previous experimental/avant-rock output with STEARICA. Elsewhere, the record continues to develop and evolve with tracks such as ‘Upside-Down World’ moving into an altogether more progressive sound combining ambient and melancholic instrumentation with idiosyncratic Japanese guest vocals from Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen. 'Wrong Time Wrong Place' also features guest production and electronics by Davide Tomat from the experimental electronic pop band Niagara (Monotreme Records), of which Davide Compagnoni was a founding member. 
 
This is the first album to ever be recorded live in this way, which is a monumental achievement in itself, however KHOMPA has managed to find the perfect balance between style and substance. ‘The Shape Of Drums To Come’ is a consummated and diverse release with a title that embraces the punk-meets-electronic attitude of the record, as well as the innovative side of the project itself. This album will have a clear appeal to the music tech crowd, but there is also a lot to be taken away from the album for those who know nothing about its methodology and everyone in between. 

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The Beat feat. Ranking Roger first album for over 30 years due 30 September

Album release: 'Bounce' by The Beat
Release date: 30 September 2016
Label: DMF Records
More info: Band website

The truly great bands are the ones you recognise in an instant –from a snatch of vocal, an inimitable snap and swagger of rhythm, a sonic fingerprint that says this could not possibly be anyone else.

That’s the way it is with ‘Bounce’, the spectacular new fourth album by first-generation 2 Tone skankers turned purveyors of joyous political pop The Beat. From the clipped and hectic rude boy shuffle of new tunes ‘Avoid The Obvious’ to the chiming sunshine pop romance of ‘Heaven Hiding’ through to ‘Fire Burn’’s heavy-duty righteousness, ‘Bounce’ shows off every gleaming aspect of the most musically diverse band to come out of the multiracial, multicultural explosion that remade British pop from 1979 onwards.

‘Bounce’ is the first album from The Beat in over 30 years and released on independent label DMF Records. Written by a combination of Ranking Roger, Mick Lister and Ranking Junior, it has been produced by Mick Lister (Bad Company, Amy Winehouse, The Feeling) and mixed by Tim Hamill and Mick Lister except Side to Side and My Dream mixed by Dennis Bovell (The Slits, Madness).

The same energy that drove the hit singles of the 80s; ‘Mirror In The Bathroom’, ‘Stand Down Margaret’ and ‘Too Nice To Talk To’ – reggae looseness plus razor-sharp songwriting meets the paranoid pace of punk – is here again. It’s all been re-rubbed, freshened and refracted through the multiple dance sounds that followed on from 2 Tone, all the black-meets-white, bass-meets-melody mashups that The Beat helped to trigger. Look into the DNA of every generation of British ravers from The Prodigy through drum’n’bass to UK grime and you’ll find traces of The Beat in there.

Joining Roger in the revitalised Beat is his son Ranking Junior AKA Matthew Murphy, a powerhouse MC who adds a new dimension to The Beat’s live shows, along with drummers Oscar Harrison of Ocean Colour Scene and Fuzz Townshend of Pop Will Eat Itself .  The line-up is completed by Chiko Hamilton on sax, bass guitar Andy Pearson, guitarist Steve Harper and Bobby Bird whose background in ambient dub as Higher Intelligence Agency brings a new psychedelic dimension to The Beat.

The first single to be taken from ‘Bounce’ will be 'Walking On The Wrong Side' which is released on 22nd July.

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Vomitface album 'Hooray For Me' due 26 August 2016


Album release: 'Hooray For Me' by Vomitface
Release date: 26 August 2016
Label: Help Yourself Records
More info: Band website

Jared Micah (vocals/guitar) and Preetma Singh (drums) found themselves trapped in their Jersey City, NJ, home during Hurricane Sandy. Drawing inspiration from their depressing surroundings and a shelf full of equally depressing records - Slint, Shellac, and Babes in Toyland, to name a few - Micah and Singh decided they had nothing better to do than to write loud songs. Those songs eventually became a band that they decided to call Vomitface, despite several industry professionals subsequently telling them that was a bad idea.  
 
From the beginning, Vomitface pledged to steer clear of the latest production trends and micro-genre tags, but despite their best efforts they soon became known as New York City's buzziest "black-surf avant-grunge sludge-pop" band (a term Micah may have coined himself). In 2014, Vomitface released their debut EP, S/T, followed immediately by a second EP, Another Bad Year, in 2015. The quick output, combined with a slew of DIY shows and tours, landed Vomitface on a list of "Hardest Working Bands in NYC" (Oh My Rockness), an accolade that contradicted a number of previous articles that had them pegged as "best new slacker rock." 
 
Following the release of Another Bad Year, Vomitface headed into the studio with bass player Angela Phillips (not pictured) and engineer Steve Albini to record their debut full-length, Hooray for Me (out 8/26/2016 on Help Yourself Records). Recorded in two days in mostly single takes, Vomitface left the studio with an album that finally encompassed the raw and unhinged energy the band had been striving for all along. After the session, Albini even went so far as to tell the band that the songs "sounded fine."  
 
The final product is an album full of sharp, deceptively catchy songs, each delivered with a self deprecating smirk. The son of a Tennessee preacher, Micah began writing songs in high school around the same time he started working at the local record store, where he would book after-hours shows and sneak out punk records behind the manager's back (he was fired). Singh is a law school graduate, who can beat the shit out of the drums and do a spot-on Courtney Love impression at karaoke. Singh's booming drum kit is the first thing you hear on opener "Senior Pictures," with Micah's buzzsaw guitar following close behind. On "Dramamine" and "It's Me," vocal harmonies layer over voyeuristic glimpses into the band's collective misfortunes. The band's nihilism and generational self-loathing boils over on "Chew Toy," a five minute dirge that ends with Micah sarcastically showing off his millennial participation trophies ("I hear applause it's all for me / Hooray for me”). 
 
Vomitface recently relocated from NYC to Singh’s hometown of Toronto, Canada. With a new home base, multiple tours on the horizon, and a debut LP, Hooray for Me - making a tumultuous splash on 8/26/2016 via Help Yourself Records - the pessimists in Vomitface may very well experience their long awaited first good year. 

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The Mirror Trap album 'Simulations' out 8 July 2016

Album release: 'Simulations' by The Mirror Trap
Release date: 8 July 2016
More info: Band website

Two years ago Dundee based band The Mirror Trap (TMT) were Scotland’s best kept secret. The 5-piece rock band met at music college and started writing and releasing music almost immediately, leading to considerable attention north of the border and much talked about appearances at T In The Park and beyond. 
 
After their album ‘Stay Young’ was released on their own label in 2014 the band were spotted in their home town of Dundee by none other than Brian Molko of Placebo. His immediate connection to their anthemic, direct song writing led to a bizarre and wonderful opportunity for the band; they were invited to support the indie legends on a Trans-Siberian train tour of Russia, followed by the iTunes Festival (which was TMT’s debut London show) and then Placebo’s UK tour in 2015. This brought them to a wider audience where their engaging stage show made many new fans. They were no longer a best kept secret. 
 
Gary Moore fronts the band, a personality not afraid to show his own opinions, a tonic to a variety of all too polite and passive modern frontmen; his dynamic sharp delivery backed by a powerful line of guitars and rhythm in Paul Markie, Paul Reilly, Ben Doherty and Mike McFarlane. At gigs they are joined by Scott Duffy on keys and percussion. 
 
The band’s new album ‘Simulations’ was recorded at the infamous Karma Studios in Thailand, recent home to recordings from The Libertines, Young Guns and Enter Shikari. Its 10 tracks deliver a real statement of intent from a band that at times shows reverence to the sound of indie-rock’s past – echoes of that early Manic Street Preachers intensity, the ambition of Suede or the wordplay and bookish intelligence of Idlewild’s Roddy Womble. Yet here that almost Evening Session-esque charm, that late 90’s bombast, meets an angular sound of a modern rock and roll all of their own.  
 
From the aggressive opener 'Under The Glass Towers' to the sloganeering album closer 'Bleach Your Bones', the band deal in a series of memorable hooks throughout. From 'No I.D.’s anthemic chorus through to the almost QOTSA low end of the brooding future single 'Piranhas', the bright melodies of 'Something About Forever' and the fragile, keys-led 'Joyride' there is a rare something here to unite fans of guitar music across the board. While the melodies stick with you so do the careful words, Moore’s lyrics on the record dealing specifically with the lack of identity in today’s electronic world. ‘New Trance’ is about “the feeling of being hypnotised by smart phones and iPads and social media. Knowing that you have so much to be doing, so many places you could be, but still finding yourself sitting in the same spot, scrolling through pointless information.”  
 
The release of ‘Simulations’ is July 16th. With KROQ in LA also playing tracks in advance of the release the USA is not far behind. The band’s first UK shows with the new material will be Stag and Dagger in Glasgow (May 1st ) starting a run of shows in Scotland including Madhatters Inverness (May 5th), Buskers Dundee (May 7th), Downstairs Aberdeen (May 19th), Mash House Edinburgh (May 28th) and Upstairs at The Garage (May 29th). Other summer shows include Ten Tons Moscow, YNOT in the UK and Summersonic in Japan. More shows to be announced very soon.

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Gregory Alan Isakov With The Colorado Symphony - Album Out June 10

Album release: Gregory Alan Isakov with The Colorado Symphony
Release date: June 10 2016
Label: Suitcase Town
More info: Artist website

The beauty of Gregory Alan Isakov’s latest album is realising how much it surprises and rewards the listener. It burns slowly, not unlike a campfire that blazes one moment and then crackles the next. A song might begin with the barest of bones, with Isakov’s resonant voice closely synched to his acoustic guitar. But then the orchestral layers begin to pile up, transporting the songs to cinematic heights.

Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony marks a milestone for the singer-songwriter, who’s beloved for the spectral intimacy of his recordings and live shows. Set for release on June 10 on Isakov’s own Suitcase Town Music label, the album finds Isakov cracking his catalogue wide open to see what else he—and we—can learn about them.

The album features songs from Isakov’s previous three studios releases, along with the debut studio recording of 'Liars', a fan favourite that’s been a staple of his concerts for the past few years. The album will be released on limited-edition LP, CD, and digitally. 

With orchestral arrangements by Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Jay Clifford (Jump Little Children) and with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Scott O’Neil conducting nearly 70 classical musicians, these are older songs cast in new and revelatory hues.

“I’ve always had this hunch that you can manifest whatever you really want if you dream hard,” Isakov says. “I think I wrote down this idea a bunch of times, thinking it would be so incredible. And when it finally happened, I was just over the moon.”

“It’s not that I thought these were better versions than the ones we put out before,” he adds, “but I think these versions are so different, and this collaboration with the symphony gave the songs a whole new angle.”

The kernel for the album was a 2013 collaboration between Isakov and his band and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Boettcher Hall in Denver. Since then, Isakov has performed again with the CSO at Red Rocks, as well as with the Seattle Symphony and the Oregon Symphony orchestras. This summer, he’ll collaborate with even more: the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra—all part of a tour that kicks off in early June.

“I was a little bit nervous about transitioning over to a symphony arrangement,” Isakov admits. “It was a daunting process in the beginning, and then I realized the opposite of what I expected actually happened. It opened up the songs way more than I thought it would.”

Perhaps most astonishing is the fact that the album’s expansiveness never compromises the intimacy that has been so crucial to Isakov’s work. You still feel like he’s in the room with you—just with an additional 80 musicians. 

“That’s exactly what we were going for,” Isakov says. “We recorded about 16 songs, and then we chose the ones that conveyed that element the most, the ones that drew the ear in. I really do work hard on creating intimacy in my records.”

“I was looking for the pieces that really lent themselves to these kinds of arrangements,” he continues. “My goal was to find some of the more intimate songs and see if they could work.”

It turns out, they did. Take “Amsterdam,” from The Weatherman. In its reconfigured form, it’s suddenly an anthem in search of a movie that hasn’t yet been made. “The Stable Song,” one of a handful of songs to feature Julie Davis’s haunting harmonies, is chamber folk at its most sophisticated. On several songs, in fact, Gregory Alan Isakov With the Colorado Symphony conjures echoes of the lush magic of Harry Nilsson’s 1970s recordings.

“Liars,” written by Isakov’s friend Ron Scott, opens the album with thunderous elegance, led initially by the starkness of Isakov’s voice and fingerpicking. Three minutes in, though, the song quakes with sweeping strings.

Originally from South Africa and now planted in Boulder, Colo., where he splits his time between his home studio (Starling Farm) and his four-acre farm (his horticulture degree has come in handy), Isakov co-produced the album with Jamie Mefford, who also plays and sings on it. 

“In a normal recording session, the other musicians are there in a supportive nature and generally find their place around Gregory,” says Mefford, who previously worked with Isakov on This Empty Northern Hemisphere and The Weatherman.

“Having the entirety of a symphony in the same room carries a weight and gravity that shapes and constrains the songs before a note is played,” Mefford says. “It's a different experience for Gregory and the band, and one that transforms the songs into a different shape and feeling.”

Isakov and his band—including Jeb Bows (fiddle), Philip Parker (cello), Steve Varney (electric guitar/banjo), John Grigsby (upright bass), and Max Barcelow (drums)—will take the record on the road this summer with a symphonic ensemble dubbed The Ghost Orchestra, a collective of Colorado musicians (some whom are also members of the Colorado Symphony) assembled specifically for this new tour.

“Even as I was finishing up the symphony record, I found it curious that I was delving into songs from my past. There were moments when I thought, ‘What am I doing? Shouldn’t I be working the new songs?’ he admits, adding that he has already sketching out his next album… “But I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of our symphony shows, that I thought these arrangements needed to be heard in these new contexts. They deserved that.”

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NARCS album 'A Thinking Animal' due 8 July 2016

Album release: 'A Thinking Animal' by NARCS
Release date: 8 July 2016
Label: Clue Records
More info: Band website

Pouring fury on driven-alternative-indie noise, Leeds quartet NARCS create a unique blend of passionate lyrical incisiveness with powerful, spine-cracking intensity and the occasional shaman-like rantings of a possessed mad man. Following on from their dark and tense recent single ‘Pig’ the band are now gearing up to release their new album ‘A Thinking Animal’, which will be released via Clue Records (home to the likes of: Allusondrugs and Forever Cult). 
 
Describing their sound as “guitar-centred alt-rock aimed at Tory scum”, ‘A Thinking Animal’ is a visceral attack on political apathy. It’s a passionate yet desolate onslaught on topics such as misogyny, greed, nepotism and self-loathing. However, this shouldn’t be taken as en-vogue right-wing sledging or liberalism, the content is both intelligent and sincere.  
 
Tracks such as the aforementioned single ‘Pig’ are a brooding statement of intent, pushed on by rumbling bass while the guitars scream as hard as the impassioned vocals, building throughout before bursting into a frenzied finish. Elsewhere on the album tracks such as ‘Bullingdon Boys’ carry the same venom, with verses that exchange caustic guitars for trenchant lyrics and vocal style and cacophonous instrumental sections that culminating in a volatile rhythmically driven end section, which conveys the bands frustration and dejection at current state of the country’s political and social status. 
 
Speaking on the new album Joe (guitarist) said, “This album came out the way it did because we’ve always used music as an outlet for the darker stuff that we needed to vent. At the moment, the way things are, we just got drawn back to the root of our anger and frustration time and time again: the ruling class, the political class, Etonites, whatever you want to call them. In a better time, we’d never have written this album. Hopefully we never need to write another one like it.  
 
Having said that, we are unapologetic about absolutely everything we are saying on this record. We want to see things change, we want people to feel anger instead of apathy; we’re under no illusions of being any kind of revolution leaders but we’re definitely of the opinion that music changes mood and just being able to connect your frustration to that of a band/song/lyric can make shit a bit easier to get through. 
 
Ultimately we wanted to aim this at the people who actually deserve it. There’s nothing more pathetic than artists of any type striving to seek popularity through attacking small fry.Everyone outside of the ruling class is so busy bickering over small details that we’re still stuck in some sort of feudal system that we’ve been duped into thinking is a democracy.  
 
We hope people enjoy the album, we hope it brings people whatever they’re looking for at this shitty period in history: comfort, motivation, inspiration, and anger, whatever.” 
 
2015 saw the band play Leeds & Reading Festival, Long Division, Tramlines, complete a full UK tour, whilst picking up acclaim from BBC 6 Music, Amazing Radio, Noisey and more. This year has already seen the band play the DIY stage and Live at Leeds, and Leicester’s Handmade Festival, with 2000 Trees, Tramlines and a number of other dates confirmed for later this year.  
 
As a whole body of work ‘A Thinking Animal’ is a punishing yet driving album, which mercilessly fires on all targets. It is the product of both dejection, vexation and resentment for the shape of current affairs, and is both a battle-cry and a wake-up call, which urges you to stand up with the band and scream along with them. 

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Hiva Oa new EP 'mk2 (part 1)' due 5 August 2016

EP release: 'mk2 (part 1)' by Hiva Oa
Release date: 5 August 2016
More info: Band website

New material from Hiva Oa has been a long time coming. Sometimes, it seems, a period of inactivity is better for a band than one of constant creation. With the release of their forthcoming 'EP mk2 (part 1)', core members Stephen Houlihan and Christine Tubridy departed Edinburgh, returning to their native Ireland seeking renewed inspiration. Hiva Oa retain the mystery and ambition of their former incarnations, but inject a heavy thrum to their intricate patchwork style, and turn their attentions to themes of fear, loneliness, abandonment and awakening.  
 
On lead single 'A Great Height' the band continue their controlled experimentation by marrying primal, dizzying electronica and a swelling bass hum, with minimal guitar patterns to create a tightly wound, suffocating and intense atmosphere that sets the tone for the EP.

Somewhat appropriately it’s an anxious listen, the influence of Thom Yorke on vocalist Stephen Houlihan here provides the forlorn, and almost hopeless, punctuating refrain “…and I fall from a great height.”  Elsewhere Seskinore demonstrates their skill in developing percussive motifs that flit from the suspenseful and shuffling, to eruptive, deafening, conclusions. A powerful resolution to each composition is never far from the minds of Hiva Oa.  
 
The latter part of 'mk2 (part 1)' begins to bring subtler intricacies to the fore. Christine is awash with swathes of gentle guitar, gifting the four-minute piece a transcendent quality that, coupled with another yearning vocal, offers the listener a brief glimpse into one of the EP’s more intimate moments, in this near-fearful, dream-like, serenade. Closing track Jonny Brazil again shifts unassumingly from sinewy indie-rock before revealing a raft of squalling guitars and inter-playing vocal melodies. Hiva Oa have become masters of developing atmospheres proving that, for them, a visit to old pastures has worked wonders.  
 
Hiva Oa is: Stephen Houlihan & Christine Tubridy. Additional studio & live members Matthew Collings and Daithi McNabb  

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Aaron Holm – album 'The Boy' out 29 July 2016

Album Release: 'The Boy' by Aaron Holm
Release date: 29 July 2016
Label: Dissolve Records
More info: Artist website

Aaron Holm is a Seattle-based producer and musician writing and performing experimental ambient and electronic compositions deep in the depths of the Emerald City. His fascination with ambient came during 1996 travels throughout Southeast Asia, where he listened to tapes of Future Sound of London, Scorn, and Shinjuku Thief while riding on trucks and longboats in Vietnam and Laos. Upon returning to Toronto, he put together his first electronic music studio in a warehouse above a furrier in Chinatown. 

Aaron’s field recordings of the birds of the Pantanal and other tropical sounds are blended into his first album, 'Still Dreaming...' while his later ones, simplifying the accompanying textures, capture his travels through India and Pakistan. He’s also been deeply influenced by ambient and electronic pioneers such as Brian Eno, Future Sound of London, Richie Hawtin, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Massive Attack, and Loscil- who all feed indirectly into his work. 

Holm took a decade break from music to focus on software and started three high profile technology companies over an 11-year period in Miami, New York, and Seattle before re-engaging with music and founding Dissolve Records in 2013.  He sits on the Boards of several technology companies and Youth in Focus, a non-profit organisation that empowers urban youth through photography. 

His ethereal mixes of real and imagined worlds continue in his organic new album, 'The Boy' in which Aaron explores the violence and isolation of the inner city boy as he grows, detaches and himself becomes a father. Pulsing, warm washes of sound in 'Little One’ explore the emotional push and pull of abandonment and a boy taken in and raised by all mothers. The woman’s voice represents the voice of the ocean calling to love and care for the boy. 

Other tracks of note include, ‘Catch a Falling Star’, the story of a father’s love for his child and his heartbreak on hearing of the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown.  On this one Holm says: 

“On the morning of the shooting, my daughter’s first grade teacher sent out a recording of the children singing ‘Catch A Falling Star’.  The recording is heard at the track start.  As I heard the news of the school shooting, first graders were the victims, I pulled to the side of the road and cried.  The voices in this track soothe broken hearts and the loss of innocence and brings the boy full circle from childhood to fatherhood.” 

Sitting in the same space as contemporary artists like Taylor Deupree (who also mastered The Boy), Susumu Yokota, and Jon Hopkins, this haunting yet beautiful new album is filled with sonic solace, calmly bewitching the listener into a state of pure tranquillity. 

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Chain Wallet debut album due 7 October 2016

Album release: Chain Wallet
Release date: 7 October 2016
Label: Jansen Plateproduksjon
More info: Band soundcloud

You can’t deny that there is something sorrowful behind the Bergen-based, lo-fi dream/psych pop trio Chain Wallet, and you can’t hide that their music suits the environment wherein it was created. It may be a cliché that it always rains in the band’s hometown, but when you play Chain Wallet’s self-titled debut album, it’s not too difficult imagine the mist hanging heavily over their indie dystopian vision of Bergen.  
 
Even though feelings of nostalgia and melancholy lurk in the Scandinavian shadows, it’s not difficult to find indie-pop gold in its purest form, glittering below the heavy layers of synth and reverb. Tracks like 'Shade' and 'Abroad' have an up-tempo urgency to them which calls to mind bands like Motorama, whereas other dreamy psych ballads like 'Muted Colours' and 'Stuck In The Fall' occupy a rich and hazy middle ground between Diiv and Wild Nothing. 
 
These sombre but captivating pop songs are a good introduction. Even though Chain Wallet may not have many genre colleagues in Norway, they easily join the ranks behind international indie counterparts like Twin Shadow or Beach Fossils. 
 
On their debut album, Chain Wallet explore themes of betrayal, idleness and crushed dreams against the backdrop of an existential breakdown; The album is loosely based in the same universe, and portrays different aspects of the quarter-life crisis, ensuring that 'Chain Wallet' hits on a visceral, teenage level, amongst the shimmer and haze of the lo-fi soundscape that they conjure. 
 
Frode Boris from the band explains the band’s ethos and sound - “We want to capture the acute distress of an afflicted character; his self-indulgent pity, gradual loss of touch with reality and his forlorn attempts on returning to normal life. The abrupt disintegration unveils interesting tensions between urgency and inertia. The album is about fragmented memories, unfulfilled ambitions and the quiet whisper of a stranger.” 

Here, the band show their absolute strength, which isn’t just writing songs that unavoidably stick in your mind, but also erase the divide between sorrow and happiness. You will be left with a feeling of both reflection and pensiveness, whilst at the same time as you’re quietly elated. That’s the impact good music should have. 

Press reaction to date

‘’...the band create a sense of urgency without ever really rushing towards anything...’’ – The 405
 
‘’New Wave-inflected widescreen shoegaze-pop... all ringing guitars and instagrammed vocals, the dreamy vibe accompanied by deceptively stadium-ready hooks’’ – Ja Ja Ja
 
‘’[Chain Wallet] have the chiming guitars and slightly fey vocals, but with the added twist of a bit of C86 dreaminess’’ – Nordic Spotlight

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