Bedouine, Ultra Q, Caroline Kingsbury, Phantom Limb, Mackin Carroll, Michael J Woodard, Mirrors are among these press releases for November.
Bedouine – “The Solitude”: An acoustic guitar ballad that works like a moody lullaby with Azniv Korkejian’s soothing vocals. This is the opening track from her new album “Waysides” just released last month. The song’s impetus came when the Los Angeles-based artist picked up on a line from Joni Mitchell’s “My Old Man” and ruminated on how well Mitchell conveyed a mood. It comes with an elegantly captivating new video, directed by Azniv and Dre Babinski. Azniv explains: “I was listening to Joni Mitchell’s “My Old Man” and kept returning to the lyric “the bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide.” I was so taken by that; conveying a feeling by describing a change in proportions. I wanted to expand on that and it became kind of an homage. Otherwise, it’s about the realization that I’m not impervious to co-dependencies or being in denial about them.” The songs of the new album were penned over several years of songwriting but never previously recorded or released. These songs were nevertheless important to Azniv and she felt they should be gathered together, recorded, and shared. Evoking comparisons to savants like Nick Drake, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton, the Syrian-born, Armenian-American Korkejian was praised as a “future legend” by The New York Times and has become synonymous with the best songwriters of the last few decades.
Ultra Q – “It’s Permanent”: A pushy, pulsating track with a gloomy mood evoking a post-punk/new wave era followed by a Strokes-like chorus. The mysterious video accompanying the song accentuates the darkness of the song and was made by Jakob Armstrong with a collection of old tour footage and some scenes from the film “The Decline of Western Civilization.” On the track, Armstrong says, “If there’s one song on this EP that is remembered in any way, I really hope it’s this one. I so vividly remember making the demo thinking that this might just be total trash, but alas, I think it’s my favorite of the bunch. The goal with ‘It’s Permanent’ was to really try and create something cinematic, which we had never attempted in a song before.” He adds, “It was all about the atmosphere. A lot of the vocal clicks and guitar flourishes were kept from the demo as they just worked well with what we had. Lyrically there’s something in there about getting wasted in an eastern European nightclub, surrounded by flashing neon lights and doom, but it’s lathered in a healthy layer of nonsense. If nothing else, I hope this song provides a couple of minutes of gothic escapism.” This is another taster of their new EP “Get Yourself a Friend,” out November 19th via Royal Mountain Records.
Caroline Kingsbury – “Breaking Apart”: With an atmospheric ‘80s vibe, Caroline Kingsbury’s towering vocals are echoing over bright layered synths and a percussive background. Her new LP, “Heaven’s Just a Flight,” was released via Fortune Tellers Music. She wrote the album shortly before her brother passed away of cancer in 2019, despite the fact that the song is “surprisingly upbeat.” She hopes this album represents “an honest retelling of her life—born out of her experiences, insecurities, and self-discovery.” When showing the album to her family, she warned them about ignoring some of what they were going to hear in her lyrics. “The album is called “Heaven’s Just a Flight,” and it’s named after a song that I wrote actually, at the end of the writing process of the album,” she explained. “My brother passed away from brain cancer in 2019 and it was right after I got home from my first tour, I was opening for an artist and I came home and basically found out that my brother was gonna die. And that was when I wrote, ‘Heaven’s Just a Flight.’ We just knew that it was the end. And I wanted to write a song that I could show him and that I could play on stage for the rest of my life and think about him. The song is super upbeat. It’s literally gonna be the jumping moment in the show. Because my brother would have loved that, and I showed him before he passed away and it was just my connection to him. I spent the last three and a half years writing this album, and then all of a sudden my brother dies at the end of my first tour when I’m just getting started. It really changed the whole process of making the album and releasing it.“ The singer-songwriter has announced an East Coast Tour with The War On Drugs, and she will even play Madison Square Garden on January 29.
Phantom Limb – “Shave Your Head”: A strange noisy track with clanging melodies, distorted synths, and surf rock guitars combined with commanding vocals. The result translates anxiety and energy wrapped around a large dose of weirdness. “Shave Your Head” is another single off Phantom Limb’s upcoming LP, “Pastoral,” which is due November 16 via Earth Libraries. As summarized by frontman Andrew Laningham, “‘Shave Your Head’ is about needing to destroy a part of yourself in order to figure out which parts of life are the most crucial. When I was writing the lyrics to this song, I was stuck in a place where I felt like my daily routine of writing endless emails and working all the time was taking over my personal life. I started having these dreams where I was pulling out my teeth and shaving my head. I felt like I needed to cut off some part of my current self in order to feel normal again, which was scary. Earlier this year, I moved to Atlanta from Birmingham. One of the last nights I was in Birmingham, I hung out with Rolfe (the drummer of Phantom Limb) and we did an I Ching reading (an ancient Chinese divination text). I’m usually not into mysticism, but we did a reading about my move and work/life balance. The reading from the I Ching mentioned shaving your head as a form of sacrifice, which freaked me out. In retrospect, I think what I was trying to get at with the lyrics of ‘Shave Your Head’ was sometimes you have to sacrifice a part of yourself that you thought was foundational in order to recenter and figure out what’s really important. ‘Shave Your Head’ is built around this hocketed guitar part. Hocketing is this composition technique where you take a melody that could be played by one instrument, and split it up between multiple ones. It’s something Gregorian Monks used a lot in choral compositions. I think it’s interesting because two instruments are ‘sharing’ a musical idea, which is a theme I really liked playing with on this record. That idea of sharing is reflected in the lyrics to ‘Shave Your Head’ as well, where the part of myself that I had to destroy was this idea that I needed to be totally self-sufficient and do everything myself. Through this making song (and the record as a whole), I realized relying on my friends for help and sharing responsibility was as central to my life as anything else, and is something I’m still working on now. “
Mackin Carroll – “Black Hole Song”: A smooth and melancholic song with beautiful and soaring indie-pop arrangements and emotive vocals. This is the new single by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Mackin Carroll, but this is also a breakup song inspired by outer space. It was written at the beginning of the end of a romantic relationship, right around when NASA took the first picture of a black hole. This got Carroll thinking about matter and energy and where that matter goes when it passes through a black hole. Does it just disappear? Just like a relationship, where does the love go when it leaves? The song contemplates this thought over a drum machine and some echoey guitars. This song is off his forthcoming debut album “Learning to Swim” out November 12th. Carroll’s eclectic singer-songwriter songs range in subject from things like outer space, to breakfast foods, to utter heartbreak – all sung in a voice that’s both jagged and sweet. Carroll, who was inspired by musicians such as Conor Oberst, Sufjan Stevens, Jeff Tweedy, Ben Gibbard, or Ben Folds, writes songs drenched in folk with indie-rock spirit, but deeply personal and riddled with both offbeat metaphors and illustrious melodies.
Michael J Woodard – “Hope Full”: Helium vocals for a radio-ready pop song. This is a new single by an artist championed by super pop star Katy Perry on the hit television series American Idol and signed to Unsub Records—an independent label founded by Perry herself. “I was dazzled by Michael’s instantly identifiable voice and playful personality since I saw him on the first season of American Idol a few years ago,” Perry describes. “I knew immediately that I wanted to take him under my wing and help him grow into the artist he wanted to be by giving him the tools to hone his writing and recording skills.” “Hope Full’ is a song that encourages you to try and stay optimistic and focused on reaching your goals. Especially when you’re hit with obstacles or when things aren’t going quite as you expected,” Woodard explains of the song, “I’ve had to remind myself to keep moving forward over the years, and as I’m now starting to share my music with the world, I feel like I’ve really begun to see the results of that determination.” Since signing with Unsub, Woodard has been in the studio nonstop, strengthening his talents as a songwriter which has resulted in him writing over 130 songs in the last 18 months.
Mirrors (Becca Stevens, Gisela João, Justin Stanton, Louis Cato, and Michael League) – “The Call”: A poignant and alluring song with a Latino/Flamenco/Fado flair, sung in duo by Gisela João and Louis Cato. This is a song from the forthcoming collaborative album “Mirrors” by acclaimed artists Becca Stevens, Gisela João, Justin Stanton, Louis Cato, and Michael League, out November 12 via GroundUP Music. “The Call,” accompanied by a video and sung in both Portuguese and English, is about the intangible bonds that exist among people in their closest relationships. “‘The Call’ is a suspenseful expression of universal love,” says Cato. “From the first note, the intensity never once lets up.” “Mirrors” originated with Stanton, the Tennessee-born artist and multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and member of the GRAMMY-winning instrumental ensemble Snarky Puppy, who since the early days of the pandemic had been living in Lisbon with his girlfriend, the renowned Portuguese fadista Gisela João. As borders began to reopen, Stanton yearned to reunite with his musical friends. In addition to João, Stanton recruited his longtime bandmate Michael League, the acclaimed founder and creative director of Snarky Puppy, Louis Cato, a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer, songwriter, and member of Stay Human (the house band for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and his own labelmate Becca Stevens, a GRAMMY-nominated vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist to produce a record. Living and working under one roof in western Portugal in August 2020, Stanton, João, League, Cato, and Stevens were led by one simple guideline: that each participant must co-write a song with one another. The concept for “Mirrors” was conceived of by Stanton months earlier and inspired by one of his favorite albums, The Telluride Sessions. The 1989 LP featured an all-star cast of bluegrass artists who each paired up to write a song together. “That record was so formative for me. It had such an impact on my musicianship,” says Stanton. The result is Mirrors: a dynamic and introspective collection of songs that not only serves as a testament to the artists’ versatile talents but also to the power of human connection.
Creem -America’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1971 (Volume 3, Number 6)
“Sure, we don’t pay much but then who else do ya know who’ll publish you?”
in the immortal words of Jason Isbell to me at Gov Ball a coupla years ago: “let’s do this…”
one of the great top tens of the 2020
old school Puerto Rican underground sounds
a masterful pop about loving a drug addict
Interpol is at Just Like Heaven
the best post punk UK rock band alive
a beautiful set that held our trust like a child
“We’ll see you next time”
A(S)F on top with a real baddie