Month: October 2016

Happy Halloween from Scotland’s, Eugene Twist: “Halloween Drama Queen”

Eugene Twist is already known in Glasgow, Scotland for his talent as a “narrative songwriter” and he has come to us this October with a Halloween-themed single. The track titled, “Halloween Drama Queen”, showcases his poetic and theatric abilities. The music video perfectly captures the details in Eugene’s story, the images bouncing between black and white and color. It is a story of a man who loses his lover on Halloween, forced to spend the night alone.

 

 

Eugene Twist is schedule to release a new record called, The Stuntman, early in 2017. Stay tuned and check him out live if you’re in the area:

 

Nov 3rd – Record Factory, Glasgow

Nov 26th – Strange Behaviors Festival,

Stirling Tollbooth

Interview: Alfred Howard of The Midnight Pine

The Midnight Pine is an ethereal folk group based out of California. Their newest record, which is self-titled, is an incredible collection of  tracks that dance the blurred line between blues and folk. The Midnight Pine is Shelbi Bennett on vocals, Alfred Howard as a multi-instruentalist, and Matthew Molarius on guitar PLUS a full band. Al Howard answered some questions regarding how the sound of The Midnight Pine came to be, who their inspirations are and much more. Check it out:

 

MFL: What is the story/concept behind this new album? Are the tracks stitched together with a common theme or does each stand alone?

Alfred Howard (AH): The Midnight Pine songs have always dealt with love and its opposite. There was no conscious effort to tie the tracks together lyrically, but they naturally moved through similar themes. But musically, we tried to bridge the divergent influences with seamless transitions and present the record as if it were one fluid piece. It makes the genre hopping sound natural.

 MFL: Who are your musical inspirations as a band and why?

 AH: Lyrically, artists like Townes Van Zandt, Jason Molina, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits have always informed our efforts. They usher in a certain kind of specific melancholia we’ve always gravitated towards. Tonally, Radiohead, Wilco, Gillian Welch, Karen Dalton, Timber Timbre and even Sharon Jones have touched the sound. There’s infinity to pull from.

MFL: Midnight Pine has such a unique sound. It’s blues reinvented with a twist of pop, a pinch of soul and a hint of rock. How did this come to be the sound of Midnight Pine?

AH: All of us have very eclectic backgrounds musically, between our members, we probably have about 20 currently active bands that go from hard funk, to psych to alt country. At the Pine, we resolve all those divergences and meet somewhere in the middle, uncompromised.

MFL: If you were to name five bands, past or present, that you think you all sound like, who would they be?

AH:  I don’t really think sounding like anyone is the goal. And I could pick out elements where I’ve heard similarities, but Shelbi Bennett has one of those unique voices. She sounds like herself, and whatever she does, is going to stand on its own.

MFL: How has Midnight Pine’s sound changed over time from the release of your debut in 2012 to the release of your latest record this October?

 AH: We started as a stripped down acoustic act. Just guitar, voice and percussion. Which worked well for those first two albums. There’s a lot you can do with even that line up, but we wanted to explore new terrain, so we added a rhythm section. The drums push more power from Shelbi’s delivery, more dynamic. We also added strings and horns and a second guitar, so there’s more textures, but we were very attentive to leaving enough space, because that’s the most essential thing to our music, room for Shelbi’s voice to flourish.

MFL: What music is buzzing around in your ears currently? Meaning, if I were to hop in your car right now, what would be playing?

AH: Andy Shauf: The Party has been on all our radars. Timber Timbre: Hot Dreams. Wilco: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The Zombies: Odyssey and Oracle. Charles Bradley: Changes. Radiohead: Moon Shaped Pool. And Run the Jewels 2.

MFL: What kind of venues are your favorite to play and why (dive bars, theaters, coffee shops)?

AH: I love a theatre, but any venue catered to music and listening. If the audience shows up ready to focus in and listen acutely, they’ll be rewarded.

MFL: As a band, what are your top two favorite tracks from each record to play live?

AH: “This Heavy Heart” and “Best Place” from Awake Now. “Buried” and “Always” from Buried. And “Vice” and “Barricade” from the self-titled.

 

MFL: What is on the calendar for Midnight Pine tour-wise in the next year?

AH: We are having a vinyl release show on Oct 28th at The Music Box in San Diego and are part of a special New Year’s Eve show we’ll be announcing soon…We’ll have some shows in the new year we will be announcing as well. 

Thank you to Mike Bell of Far Digital for getting my quesitons to Alfred! You can find all of The Midnight Pine’s music on iTunes and Bandcamp.

 

Album Review: “Beneath a Yellow Moon” by I Have a Tribe

Beneath a Yellow Moon is the debut record from Dublin, Ireland’s always-smiling, heavily-bearded, passionate poet-of-a-musician, Patrick O’Laoghaire. His musical project goes by the name I Have a Tribe and after two EPs, he has released an 11 song full length, heavily decorated with intimate vocals, gorgeous piano and undeniably impassioned lyricism. O’ Laoghaire’s voice is simple but perfectly on pitch, his vibrato fluttering high above. His voice is playful, his Irish accent exposing itself now and then, and his enunciation is immaculate; no word is in question. He speaks like a true poet, his words are the center of his songs and the English language his tool.  His lyrics are sharp, witty, smart and perfectly executed. They are surrounded by building, swirling instrumentals that stack upon each other. Every song ends somewhere higher, somewhere bigger and more beautiful than its beginning. Every track is the song for a separate story. Each song speaks to the listener so individually, as if each one is the theme song to a different short film.

 

o-laoghaire

 

This record took me by complete surprise. After being introduced to his single “Cold Fact”, I was instantly a fan but this song is more subdued than many of the other pieces on his record. So, upon my first listen to Beneath a Yellow Moon, I was shocked by the rich, cinematic composure of every track. The opening cut, “Passage”, is an honest, transparent piece about growing up, being frustrated, throwing in the towel, questioning everything but having no shame and moving on. The following track, “La Neige”, is equally as beautiful. He plays with harmonies, layering husky vocals upon each other, gospel harmonies hang hauntingly in the background amidst O’ Laoghaire’s fantastical instrumental organization. Over and over again he repeats, each time with more fire:
I’m lost for words, when this occurs,

Through the seasons, reveals the reasons.

 The song finishes with one simple, stunning statement:

 Take the right to be human.

If one was to listen to one song on this record to get an idea of who O’ Laoghaire is as a musician, it would be “Battle Hardened Pacifist.” It’s the perfect example of how he plays with his words and how he uses the power of instruments to make them more meaningful. The song rises and falls again and again, taking the listener on what I now understand to be the typical zealous-rich musical ride that O’ Laoghaire creates.

 

 

Then there is the 9 minute ballad, “Casablanca”, in which the cornerstone lyric appropriately is:

Here’s looking at you, kid.

O’ Laoghaire’s voice reaches such a level of passion, it almost completely disappears, a sweet piano melody tinkers along until the very end. In this song and others, you hear traces of the non-musical aspects of playing the piano: the sound of the keys when they are pressed, the pedal creaking. These qualities bring another level of honesty to his music.

This record is an absolutely glorious celebration of music and poetry. They are weaved together in such a way; it is not possible to pull them apart. Beneath a Yellow Moon was released October 14th on Groenland Records and is available for purchase on iTunes and via Groenland Records.

Gorgeous music video from Mitski: “A Burning Hill”

The video captures the gorgeous simplicity that hides the intense complexity of her message in “A Burning Hill.” The track is the conlucding song on her newest record, Puberty 2 which came out in June on Dead Oceans. The emotion you see in her face in the video is real, as real as the lyrics that gently trickle out of her.

“Today I will wear my white button down

I’m tired of wanting more

I think I’m finally worn.”

This song is a sigh of relief, acceptance of reality and embrace of the state of things. About the music video Mitski says:

The director and I spent a weekend just driving around New York and Pennsylvania while the camera kept running, and most of the time I’d forget I was being filmed. It felt like a vacation, but it was also quite emotional, as I was thinking about the song and what it means to me now while jumping in rivers and driving down dirt lanes.” — Mitski

 

Mitski’s tour kicks off on October 31st and you can find Puberty 2 on iTunes and directly from Dead Oceans’ website.

Mon. Oct. 31 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre – SOLD OUT
Tue. Nov. 1 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
Thu. Nov. 3 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
Fri. Nov. 4 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Bag
Sat. Nov. 5 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Sun. Nov. 6 – St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
Thu. Nov. 10 – Athens, GA @ 40 Watt
Fri. Nov. 11 – Orlando, FL @ Back Booth
Sat. Nov. 12 – Miami, FL @ Gramps
Sun. Nov. 13 – Jacksonville, FL @ Jack Rabbits
Tue. Nov. 15 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle
Wed. Nov. 16 – Durham, NC @ Motorco
Thu. Nov. 17 – Charlottesville, VA @ Southern Café
Fri. Nov. 18 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat – SOLD OUT
Sat. Nov. 19 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church – SOLD OUT
Mon. Nov. 21 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall – SOLD OUT
Tue. Nov. 22 – Brooklyn, NY @ Market Hotel – SOLD OUT
Tue. Feb. 21 – Paris, FR @ Les Etoiles
Wed. Feb. 22 – Switzerland, CH @ Mascotte
Fri. Feb. 24 – Bologna, IT @ Covo Club
Sat. Feb. 25 – Munich, DE @ Milla
Sun. Feb. 26 – Vienna, AT @ B72
Mon. Feb. 27 – Prague, CZ @ MeetFactory
Tue. Feb. 28 – Berlin, DE @ Postbahnhof
Thu. Mar. 2 – Utrecht, NL @ Ekko
Fri. Mar. 3 – Brussels, BE @ Rotonde, Botanique
Sat. Mar. 4 – Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
Mon. Mar. 6 – London, UK @ Village Underground
Tue. Mar. 7 – Bristol, UK @ Thekla
Thu. Mar. 9 – Manchester, UK @ The Ruby Lounge
Fri. Mar. 10 – Edinburgh, UK @ Electric Circus
Sat. Mar. 11 – Newcastle, UK @ The Cluny

Music Video Playlist: Sites and Sounds of Fall

Since I can’t include all of the wonderful music o that sits in my inbox in my Soundcloud playlits, I have created playlists on YouTube. I highly recommend you take a moment now and then to check out the music videos and let your eyes AND ears enjoy what’s happening.

Playlist: New Season, New Songs

With the change in season comes new music. I hope you enjoy it.

Interview: Luke Roberts

Luke Roberts is a musician, father, traveller and man of few words. In so few words he can convey an immense message. Similarly, his music does the same. It is rich, supple, stratified and stunning. His search for somewhere began at a young age. He began a habit of trainhopping which he has somewhat continued into his adulthood spending time everywhere from Paradise Valley, MT (near my home of Bozeman, MT) to Kenya (where his latest record, Sunlit Cross, was born). I hope you enjoy Luke’s answers to my questions as much as I did. They are beautiful, just like his music.

MFL: It sounds like throughout your life you have found peace in never settling down, always looking for the one place you fit in. Have found the place you were looking for? And, is truly a “place” or is your “place” being in constant motion?

 Luke Roberts (LR): The thing I’m looking for is the thing that’s looking. 

MFL: I read that you spent some time in a trailer in Montana. Being a Montana native myself, I’d love to hear about this experience in as much detail as you’re willing to share. I grew up in Missoula and have been in Bozeman for the last 10 years. It’s a beautiful state! I hope you had a positive experience here.

 LR: I just like the mountains out there a lot. I lived in a mobile home in Paradise Valley, near you. And in the parks. I had two cats that followed me around everywhere and I was kind of lonesome. I worked in an Italian restaurant to save enough money to leave and play some shows when my second record came out. 

MFL: How old were you when you started train hopping and was music part of your life at this point?

 LR: I was 11. I liked hair metal at that point.

MFL: How did you choose your geographical destinations? Did music dictate these choices or did your location dictate your music? Perhaps both?

 LR: I had no idea where to go so I just guessed. I went to Florida and New Orleans. It was pretty random.

MFL: Has any one place you travelled tugged at you more than the others? Is it difficult to extricate yourself from these places or is there always a right time to leave?

LR: I always go back to Nashville and New York. Now I just call my family home. 

 

 

MFL: What was it about Kenya that made it the birthplace for Sunlit Cross and where does the name of your album come from?

LR: The people in Africa reminded me of what music can be.

MFL: The pedal steel appears multiple times on this album. What is it about this instrument that is appealing to you? What does it add to your music?

 LR: John Neff plays it beautifully on the songs that call for it.

MFL: How did Kurt Vile end up on Sunlit Cross and is there anyone else special you’d like to credit on the record?

LR: I met him online. I played him the track and he wanted to sing on it. 

 

 

MFL: The songs on this record are stunning. “Untitled Blues” is a gorgeous piece with a sense of lament while “Silver Chain” has a sense of adventure, train hopping if you will, about it. I love the harmonies, lyricism and the thoughtfulness within each song. Does each song stand alone or are they all connected by a common thread? If there is a connection, what sews them together?

 LR: I like that question. I’m not sure what it is but the meaning of it all will change over time.

MFL: Pick one track on this record and break it apart. What were you doing when you wrote it? What were your surroundings? What is the song about? Who are the characters? Are they real or fiction? Etc.

LR: The album came together right after my son was born. My attitude changed and I decided to put music out again. I wanted my son to have music to go to sleep to and know his dad with. And in case I die too soon I wanted to show him how to be an artist. And a storyteller. 

 

Thank you Luke for answering my long-winded questions and thank you to Pitch Perfect and Stephanie Bauman for connecting us for the interview. Sunlit Cross is due out October 14th on Thrill Jockey and can be pre-ordered on iTunes now.

Photo Credit: Andrea Behrends