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From Ziggy With Love: David Bowie’s New Video for “Valentine’s Day”

16 Jul

More creepy video goodness from David Bowie arrived today in the form of this new video for “Valentine’s Day”. For all you vinyl lovers out there, Bowie’s latest record, “The Next Day”, was pressed into a limited edition red vinyl in May. But before you get too excited, the UK only release comes with a hefty price tag; $250.

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Interview with Chris Wade of Dodson and Fogg

29 May

Purple Dog Records is based in the US but we certainly don’t limit ourselves to a specific region when it comes to discovering independent musicians.12750544779bc5e91347700601 I was recently made aware of a band called, Dodson and Fogg from Leeds led by the very talented, Chris Wade.   Their second album, Derring Do hooked me immediately with a beautiful acoustic introduction. The whole album continues heading steadfast toward prog folk perfection. The word, “chill” is often overused in describing music but damn it, I can’t think of anything else to call it. It’s just so good. With songs like “The Leaves They Fall”, and “What Goes Around” it’s hard to tell in what era they were recorded. Chris Wade’s musical style gives the impression of a man who could have been friends with John Lennon, but by no means is he repeating the sound. Each song had a timeless quality and a brand new feeling attached to every guitar lick and yes, even trumpets (trumpeting?). I had the pleasure of speaking with Chris about his band’s new album coming out this July among other fun tidbits of information.

PDR: Have you written and performed music prior to Dodson and Fogg?

CW: Yeah, I started playing music when I was really young. Me and my brother started learning guitars early on. Before I had a guitar I remember making one with rubber bands and an ice cream tub. I was always obsessed with music. I remember my first favourite c wadebands were Nirvana when Kurt was still alive, when I was 8 or 9, and Black Sabbath, who I was totally obsessed with, and who I still love to this day. I started collecting their vinyl and saving pocket money to go to Relics in Leeds to get the records. We started writing songs then, me and my brother… well, I say writing. My dad has some tapes of them and they are grotesque haha. In my late teens I had a 4 track tape machine and used to make demos in my bedroom whenever I got home from work, back then I worked at a toy shop which was a fun place to work. And in my early 20s I had a band with my friend Shawn and my brother, which then turned into a band with my brother and my sister, and that “line up” did some gigs in Leeds where I live in around 2007 and 2008 I think. But that was more straight forward punk rock really, not like what I am doing now which I prefer. We were playing in some really ropey venues sometimes, but family and friends always came along and made parties of these gigs. That fizzled out though, and I started  writing and illustrating in about 2009 and left music for a while until last year when I made the first Dodson and Fogg album. I firstly wanted to be a fiction writer, and did some really weird broadly comic novels that were made into audiobooks, narrated by Rik Mayall and Charlie Chuck, but there was no way I was going to be able to get that into a proper direction. Some of them stories were just mental, haha. This is different though, and really satisfying.

Chris Wade and Rik Mayall
*Editor’s note – If you are a fan like me of that complete bastard, Rik Mayall then you’ll love “Cutey and the Sofaguard”.

PDR: Who are some of your main influences? 

CW: Well I love Black Sabbath and I also listen a lot to early Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Incredible String Band, early Leonard Cohen, Kinks and especially Donovan, who I think is just a brilliant artist. There’s loads of stuff I listen to. I really like Goldfrapp at the minute, been listening to Air as well, and Amy MacDonald, alongside Yes, and early King Crimson, the first two albums in particular. But I don’t know how much they have influenced me knowingly. When I make music it comes out naturally and I know I am happy with a track when I feel I could put it on myself and listen to it for pleasure. So maybe musical tastes just seep in for any artist subconsciously affect what music they record. I basically like to record music I could listen to myself I think. That’s why I never understand the bands or artists who can’t listen to their own songs. It’s questionable, like almost as if they’re in it for the money really, as Frank Zappa might say. But I will say that any band recording and mixing music these days, and paying close attention to it, HAS to be influenced by The Beatles, even if they don’t know it…

PDR: One of my favorite songs of yours is “All Day Long” (featuring Celia Humphris of Trees) off of the debut album. How did she become involved?

CW: Thanks, glad you like the song. My dad has always been a big music fan and he was into Trees when I was a kid. First he had two of their tracks on these old samplers, one of which was called Fill Your Head With Rock (a classic compilation that anyone reading this should check out) and then he finally got a hold of their two albums, On the Shore and Garden of Jane Delawney. I was a fan right from then thanks to my dad and I interviewed Celia in 2009 or 2010 for my Hound Dawg Magazine (which was a free online PDF then, and now it’s a print magazine) and asked her about the band. I hadn’t stayed in touch with her though, but in around May or June last year I sent her some tracks to see if she was interested in collaborating and I could not believe it when she said she would sing on them! That’s when I took this project seriously and dived right into it. She is one of my favourite singers, her voice is a proper instrument in itself, and on Derring Do she is doing all sorts of amazing things I wish I could do with my voice. On All Day Long as well, like you say, her voice on that is fantastic. I used three or four of her harmonies on that and mixed them all together. Worked out great I think. 

PDR: Do you have a preference of one song over another? I can imagine it’s almost like playing favorites with a child though.

CW: It’s weird answering questions about your own music. It’s funny because the Dodson and Fogg first album was only released last November, and most of these songs are pretty new to me really, so it’s hard to look at them in a retrospective way. I will say though that Meet Our May, I wrote that when I was about 18, ten or so years ago and All Day Long comes from a melody I had in my had for years and never did anything with. So them two, and Crinkle Drive off the first album with Nik Turner of Hawkwind on it, I do have a soft spot for them chappies. To be honest though, the next album has my own favourites on it so far. I am really pleased with it.

PDR: You also have a solo project released, titled, “Moonlight Banquet”. How does this differ from your work in Dodson and Fogg?

CW: That was a side thing really, because I had these instrumentals that didn’t quite fit with Dodson and Fogg and my girlfriend said ‘why don’t you release them?’ So it isn’t really a major project or anything but it is a nice way to use some ideas I really liked and never got round to releasing. They’re longer and more progressive I suppose, with extended solos and worked out sections. Fun to do actually, but Dodson and Fogg is definitely staying as my main focus. Working at home though, and with music being my hobby as well as a job type thing, I have plenty of time on my hands to try all sorts of things out. 

cover bigger file-page-001

PDR: Finally, do you think of the third album, “Sounds of Day and Night” as a continuation of the last two or are they all completely separate concepts?

CW:Well the third one is kind of following a concept, different characters so to speak and situations from the morning to the night, all kinds of scenarios and set ups, but it sounds similar to Derring Do, with the instrumentation and production. But it also sounds a little different too. It’s hard to describe it, but I kept working on it, rewriting songs and getting rid of certain tracks, then bringing in new ones from around January when I started recording it (just before Derring Do came out) and it was last month or so when it actually started sounding like a step on from Derring Do. I’m finding myself listening to the albums and thinking that if they sound like a progression from their predecessor I am doing something right and pleasing myself. Then I think, well if I am happy with it, the folks who liked the other two albums might be up for it too. You have to not think about the whole process too much, as you know as a writer, because if you look too far into it  you end up taking it too serious or you risk over analyzing your stuff and taking the fun out of it all. So while it is a little different in some of its moods, it is also like a continuation, but broadening the scope hopefully. That said, Celia is going to be singing on it again so it is nice to have her on board, and there are some other possible guest artists, but I won’t say who just in case it doesn’t happen. Also, my girlfriend Linzi Napier is a painter and she has done the cover art for the next album, one of my favourite pictures of her’s. She has an exhibition in July which we are both excited about and some of the work for this next album will be on display.

Thank you, Chris for taking the time to chat! Be sure to check out Dodson and Fogg’s latest album “Sounds of Day and Night” coming July 2013. Let him know what you think!

Article and interview by Erin Gavin

A (not so) Short History of Biffy Clyro – part 2

21 Mar

biffy_clyro02_website_image_bstc_wxga“Puzzle.” The aptly named fourth album, saw the band find that final piece and reach the commercial success their talent warrants in 2007. This was the album that brought them into the collective consciousness of the nation. It allowed their long-serving fans the opportunity to proudly talk about their knowledge of previous albums, boast of how long they had been fans for and brag about how many times they had seen them play live in small and intimate venues.

The problem with your favourite lesser-known band suddenly becoming popular, however, is that the songs are now everywhere. They get over-played on radio. People not nearly cool enough begin to express their interest in the band. They start to play larger venues. And tickets are sold out before you get a chance to buy them. Basically, it’s a nightmare.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your stance, this album achieved all it deserved. The album is brilliant and the songs are instantly accessible to new fans while being Biffy enough to please existing ones. Written in the wake of singer Neil’s mother’s death, the lyrics are so blatantly obvious about love and loss and coming to terms with death that it could easily have sounded cheap and cheesy had it come from almost anyone else. But Neil accomplishes it with style, passion, integrity and apparent ease. The band simultaneously showed their heart while flexing their muscles through their biggest sound to date. For any prospective Biffy Clyro fans, this is the place to start. Whether you choose to move on from “Puzzle” forward or backward chronologically is up to you. Forward means commercially more successful tracks with slightly more catchy choruses. Backwards means musical strangeness that will keep you coming back for more.

Start with track 1; “Living is a Problem Because Everything Dies”, and keep going.

I then had a small fall out with Biffy over 2009’s “Only Revolutions”. I felt that it was too soft, too ‘mainstream’ and lacking of that classic Biffy twisting-turning song structure which caught my attention at the start. And then, after a bit of a break, I listened to it properly. It is still not my favourite Biffy album, but it has some great songs that showed Biffy Clyro’s growth into their new success.

Tracks: “Mountains”, “Bubbles”, “Many of Horror”.

January 2013 saw the release of their most recent offering, the 2-disc “Opposites”. On this album, the band look to have found the formula that balances the technical skill and musical interestingness of early Biffy with the mainstream appeal of latter day Biff. There are songs with heavy distortion and wild vocals, and others with clean guitars, harmonies and beautiful melodies. And then there are tracks with touches of both. They seem to have delved deeper into the realm of heavy guitars and sweet, sweet melodies working together. Biffy Clyro continue to grow as stars and musicians both. They have put in the time and are now reaping the benefits. And rightly so.

Tracks: “The Joke’s On Us”, “Victory over the Sun”, “Black Chandelier”.

However far they have come up to this point, the recent announcement that they will be headlining the UK’s Reading Festival Main Stage this August has left some questioning their worthiness of this Sunday slot usually reserved for legends of the industry (previous performers include Pearl Jam, Muse and Metallica). So dedicate your ears to the mighty Biff, spend some time getting to know them and make up your mind for yourself.

A (not so) Short History of Biffy Clyro – part 1

19 Mar

BiffyClyroNMEAwardsDC250211Though you may not be aware of it yet, Biffy Clyro have earned your listening pleasure. As far as hard-working bands go, they are up there near the top. But they have not simply been putting in extra shifts to compensate for any lack of ability. Hardly. These are talented musicians who, for a three-piece, have a massive sound that has been years in the making, but has also been around for years longer than the general public might be aware.

While studying at Glasgow University, Scotland, the band gigged relentlessly, often playing five, six or even seven shows in a week. That sort of live exposure, when added to the quality of both song and performance, led to a terribly devoted fan base that was constantly growing. Their first album, “Blackened Sky”, was released in 2002 and was made up of many of the songs from this period. It is a fantastic début record showing some of what was to come from the band, containing well-crafted songs that are interesting and unafraid to be different. They work the quiet/loud dynamic brilliantly, which would be polished to a sheen in later releases, and gave us a taste of singer Simon Neil’s vocals.

Tracks worth listening to: 27, Justboy, 57.

Then came 2003’s “The Vertigo of Bliss”. The band was largely unknown outside of their home land at this time, but the album was embraced by their adoring fans. With the luxury of hindsight, however, it doesn’t seem to measure up against their other releases. Joining Simon Neil’s vocals and guitar, are (Scottish and ginger) twins James and Ben Johnston, on bass and drums respectively. When your rhythm section have shared a womb, and your band have shared stage space as much as these three have, it creates an undeniable musical understanding between the members. They are tight. Very tight. When they perform live they seem to move as one and can read each other’s playing in a way that can only come from spending endless hours locked away in rehearsal rooms and exposed on stage, and they put that to good use when recording their second album.

You see, they recorded it in a day. One day in the studio to lay down thirteen tracks. That is how tight they are. The songs that make up this album are powerful, tender and interesting, changing direction mid-song when you’re not quite expecting it. Unfortunately, though the songs are solid, the album tends to get largely overlooked by fans as it doesn’t feel quite right as a whole, probably due to the rushed nature of the recording. But it is still definitely worth a listen.

Tracks: Questions and Answers, The Ideal Height, Toys Toys Toys Choke, Toys Toys Toys.

Biffy’s third album, “Infinity Land”, is many fans’ favourite and an incredible musical achievement. The sound is different to their previous releases, but it is still unquestionably Biffy. The guitar is more angular, the sound at times heavier, the changes of direction more pronounced while still making perfect sense within the context of the songs. The album keeps you interested even after years of listening, which is not an easy thing to achieve. For me, this is the Biffy that I know and love. Biffy at their best. They may have reached higher heights with later albums, but this is their best musical achievement. It sounds like nothing else before or since and has a timeless feel to it that calls you back time and again.

Tracks: My Recovery Injection, Got Wrong, Glitter and Trauma.

Tune in again soon for Part-2..

Steven Wilson’s Raven: Haunting and Brilliant

17 Mar

Album-cover-with-titlePorcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson has a long history of surprising music releases, blurring genre boundaries and showing fans sides of him they’ve never seen before.  Just when it seemed like there was nothing new left for him to do, Wilson has released The Raven that Refused to Sing, a collection so mysterious and beautiful that it nearly defies description.

The haunting stuff doesn’t come right at the beginning, though.  To say that Raven takes the listener on a journey would be an understatement.  It starts out as a straight-up heavy prog album, with hints of Yes and King Crimson in there, but by the time you get to the sixth and final track, you’ll wonder how you were carried so seamlessly into Radiohead territory, and marvel over the steps that got you there.

And big steps they are, too.  As you might expect from a progressive rock album, Raven is light on track numbers but heavy on track duration.  The shortest track comes in at just over five minutes, while the longest (“Luminol,” the album’s opener) comes in at just over twelve.  This means that there’s plenty of space in each song to explore and experiment, which is where Wilson excels.  What may come across as aimless wandering in the hands of any other musician appears as a clearly articulated path when Wilson is the one leading the way.

Although the first five tracks are certainly essential components in the overall picture, there’s no doubt that they also serve as a framework to support and highlight the brilliance of the sixth track.  It’s no accident that Wilson saved the title track for last, and from the first dissonant strains of strings punctuated by unusual piano chords and floating vocals, it’s obvious why this song couldn’t have played any role other than finale.

There’s so much near the end of the album that’s reminiscent of Radiohead right after they shifted gears in 2000, but in a timeless rather than a dated way.  Melodies that are as passionate as they are sad are combined with rich musical arrangements and lyrics tinged with despair.  It sounds depressing, and it is somewhat, but there’s also a strange sense of hope that the future holds something brighter.

All in all, this is a beautiful album, and worth buying the special edition simply for the gorgeous work of artist Hajo Mueller, who lent his talents to the album design.  This is definitely one of Steven Wilson’s finest releases, if not the finest, and any rock fans will find something here to love.

-This article was written by BJ

When she’s not busy seeking out new music and artists, BJ spreads her love for music across the web as a blogger and small business marketer.

Bands hit the road young

27 Feb

As a twenty-something, I and most of my friends are caught in near constant crisis as to what exactly we’re supposed to be doing with our lives. It’s especially comforting, then, to discover some musical genius apparently starts young: all of the following bands formed in high school.

We may have some catching up to do.

The XX
Hailing from London, The XX (Oliver Sim, Jamie Smith, Romy Madley, and former member Baria Quereshi) got together as high schoolers back in 2005 and released their debut album, “xx” in 2009. Having seen international success, the group will be a headliner at Bonnaroo 2013.

Fleet Foxes
Founding members Robin Pecknold and Skyler Skjelset started playing together after meeting in high school. Due to lack of funds, their first songs were recorded in houses and garages, but local shows quickly won them attention. Their debut album went platinum in the UK.

Van Morrison
Although the Emerald Isle’s Van Morrison didn’t rise to fame until the mid-60’s (after a stint with Irish band “Them”), he started playing everything from guitar to saxophone to the harmonica back as a teenager. Known for hits such as “Brown Eyed Girl” and “Moondanace,” Morrison performs to this day and has won six Grammy Awards. He’s been inducted into both the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Local Natives
Indie band Local Natives formed after guitarists Taylor Rice and Ryan Hahn and keyboardist Kelcey Ayer met in high school in Los Angeles. After recruiting Matt Frazier (drums) and Andy Hamm (bass), the bandmembers crammed into a house in Orange County to put together their debut album, “Gorilla Manor.” The album debuted well and they’ve since toured with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and played at Lollapalooza.

Album Review: An Awesome Wave by Alt-j (∆)

5 Feb

Do you remember that elusive creature, that almost mythical monster, the complete album? I do. Just. But it has become such a rare occurrence in this degenerating industry of massive hit singles and album filler that it is so very noticeable when an entirely good album comes trundling along. Well, 2012 saw the debut release of England’s alt pop newbies, Alt-j (∆), with the album An Awesome Wave. And it lives up to its name.

Taking their name from the keyboard shortcut for the Delta symbol (triangle) on a Mac keyboard (“triangles are my favorite shape”, sings Joe Newman), they arrive in your awareness already inciting curiosity. Having been accused of a contrived ideal, it is difficult to see where the accusation is supposed hit them. Openly stating that they tried not to push too many boundaries, but tried more to make the sort of music that they enjoy listening to, and having spent five years working on this record, it is slightly contrived. But it is more well-thought-out. And it needs to be.

The varied sound and the genre-straddling nature of the album is surely enough to piqué anyone’s interest. From the ominous piano intro and growing, dirty bass on opening track “Intro”, slipping seamlessly into the intricately stuttering a Capella “Interlude I” before the first track proper kicks in, this album takes you on a journey.
“Tessellate” revolves around a simple yet elegant bass line and well-used spacing, often stripping right down to vocals only, before building the layers toward the end. The record has some upbeat moments, namely on “Breezeblocks” and “Dissolve Me”, there’s the Radiohead-inspired “Something Good”, and the slightly heavier (read louder) “Fitzpleasure” which uses, to bigger effect, the fat, dirty bass touched on in “Intro” which is only highlighted by the clever and gentle interplay with the softer instruments and the breaks in the song.
One of the standout tracks is more delicate “Matilda”. Once again the simple bass and guitar interplay over percussion bears most of the load, but by changing back and forth between major and minor keys, the song has a somber yet uplifting feel.

When listened to with headphones it is easy to notice the balancing, splitting the instruments over the left and right channels, making it easy to pick them out individually. It also enhances the subtle touches used so brilliantly throughout the record and gives each song more space to roam around your head.
The use of spaces and breaks within each song, and the well-placed interludes across the album to a larger degree, works beautifully. At times it sounds as though the components of each song may have been written separately. Like verse, chorus and breaks were conceived in isolation and compiled at a later stage. But each song flows excellently despite the seemingly independent writing. With the almost separate parts of these songs flowing so well on their own, this could be a major factor in the overall smoothness of the album as a whole.

Toward the last few tracks you have become aware of the basic formula and have a good idea of what to expect. While each song has its own defining nuances, the album tends to slowly fade out instead of bidding farewell with a bang in a giant ball of flame and glory, which is a pity. Sort of. You see, this, oddly, seems to fit very well with the flow of the album as a whole. Though you may be disappointed with this unremarkable ending to a remarkable album, the disappointment can be averted by simply turning on the ‘repeat’ function and sliding from “Hand Made” straight back to “Intro” and starting the journey all over again.
Believe me, this is a journey you will want to undertake more than once.