Rowland S. Howard RIP

Influential Melbourne guitarist Rowland S Howard dies

Rowland S Howard

Rowland S. Howard. Picture: Karen Dodd Source: HWT Image Library

MELBOURNE musician Rowland S Howard has lost his battle with liver cancer.

He passed away this morning, aged 50.

Howard was waiting for a liver transplant and had cancelled recent shows due to illness.

The influential guitarist came to prominence as a member of Melbourne punk band the Boys Next Door who became The Birthday Party, fronted by Nick Cave.

Howard wrote their iconic hit Shivers, and his guitar skills would inspire a generation to come.

The guitarist was also a member of bands including Crime and the City Soultion and These Immortal Souls.

His second solo album, Pop Crimes, was released in October to critical acclaim.

His final gig was at the Prince of Wales in October to launch the album.

In an interview with Rolling Stone to promote the album Howard spoke of his years of poor health.

“Being told that you've only got a couple of years to live without a transplant is a pretty frightening experience and certainly changes the way you feel about your life, [it] makes things so much closer."

Rowland appeared in this year’s Melbourne punk scene documentary We’re Living on Dog Food, released with the DVD of Australian film Dogs in Space.

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BEST RECORDS of the 21st Century so far
By Alexander Laurence

1. Brian Wilson - Smile
2. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun
3. Primal Scream – XTRMNTR
4. Radiohead – Amnesiac
5. Antony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
6. Gorillaz – Gorillaz
7. Arcade Fire – Funeral
8. Black Mountain – In The Future
9. Joanna Newsom – Ys
10. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

11. PJ Harvey – Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
12. Goldfrapp – Felt Mountain
13. The White Stripes - Elephant
14. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
15. Blonde Redhead - 23
16. Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
17. The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side
18. The Strokes – Is This It?
19. White Stripes – White Blood Cells
20. Fiery Furnaces – Blueberry Boat

21. Sparklehorse – It’s A Wonderful Life
22. DFA 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine
23. Mercury Rev – All Is Dream
24. The Hives – Veni Vidi Vicious
25. Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
26. The Coral – The Coral
27. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
28. Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse - Dark Night of the Soul
29. Trail of the Dead – Source Tags and Codes
30. MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

31. TV on The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
32. Hope Sandoval – Through The Devil Softly
33. Colder - Again
34. The Streets – Original Pirate Material
35. Jose Gonzalez – In Our Nature
36. Burial – Burial
37. Bat For Lashes – Fur and Gold
38. Ali Farke Toure – Savane
39. Wire - Send
40. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell

41. Devendra Banhart – Rejoicing In The Hands
42. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close
43. Portishead – Third
44. LCD Soundsystem – Sound Of Silver
45. The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
46. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
47. CSS - Cansei De Ser Sexy
48. TV On The Radio – Dear Science
49. Blonde Redhead – Misery Is A Butterfly
50. The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love

51. Bob Dylan – Love and Theft
52. Adult: Anxiety Always
53. Burial – Untrue
54. Murcof - Cosmos
55. Beck – Sea Change
56. Secret Machines – Now Here Is Nowhere
57. Singapore Sling – The Curse of Singapore Sling
58. The Pleased - Don't Make Things
59. The Kills – No Wow
60. Devendra Banhart – Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

61. Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree
62. The Horrors – Primary Colours
63. The Knife – Silent Shout
64. Mogwai: Happy Music for Happy People
65. Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
66. A Place To Bury Strangers – APTBS
67. TV on The Radio – Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes
68. Soundtrack of Our Lives – Behind The Music
69. White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
70. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

71. UNKLE – War Stories
72. Elliott Smith – From A Basement On The Hill
73. Ladytron – Light & Magic
74. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
75. Klaxons – Myths of The Near Future
76. The Walkmen – You & Me
77. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
78. Spiritualized - Amazing Grace
79. Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose
80. The Vines – Highly Evolved

81. The Libertines: Up The Bracket
82. Ray La Montagne – Gossip In The Grain
83. Doves – The Last Broadcast
84. The xx - XX
85. Teddybears – Soft Machine
86. Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump
87. White Stripes – Icky Thump
88. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
89. Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns
90. A Girl Called Eddy – A Girl Called Eddy

91. ARE Weapons – ARE Weapons
92. Wire – Object 47
93. Hecuba - Paradise
94. Wolfmother – Wolfmother
95. Super Furry Animals – Rings Around The World
96. Black Dice – Beaches & Canyons
97. Raveonettes - Chain Gang of Love
98. Liars – Liars
99. MIA – Arular
100. Autolux – Future Perfect

101. Beth Gibbons and Rustin Man – Out of Season
102. Mull Historical Society - Loss
103. PJ Harvey – White Chalk
104. Soulsavers – Broken
105. Fischerspooner - #1
106. Clinic – Walking With Thee
107. Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf
109. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – How I Long To Feel Summer In My Heart
110. Ryan Adams - Gold

111. Band of Skulls – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
112. David Holmes – Bow Down To The Exit Sign
113. Super Furry Animals – MWNG
114. Shelby Lynne – I Am Shelby Lynne
115. Arab Strap – Mad For Sadness
116. Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
117. Low – Things We Lost In The Fire
118. The Polyphonic Spree – The Beginning Stages of…
119. The Notwist – Neon Golden
120. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power

121. Junior Boys – Last Exit
122. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus
123. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
124. M83 – Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
125. Calla - Televise
126. The Futureheads – The Futureheads
127. Richard Hawley – Cole’s Corner
128. Gorillaz – Demon Days
129. Scott Walker – The Drift
130. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll

131. The Black Angels - Passover
132. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
133. Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul
134. Annie - Anniemal
135. Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of The Understatement
136. Grinderman – Grinderman
137. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
138. The Veils – The Runaway Found
139. The Divine Comedy – Absent Friends
140. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

141. Hot Chip – Made In The Dark
142. The Knife – Deep Cuts
143. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
144. Amy Winehouse - Black To Black
145. Joanna Newsom – The Milk-Eyed Mender
146. Broadcast – Tender Buttons
147. Cat Power – You Are Free
148. Soulwax – Nite Versions
149. Liars – Drum’s Not Dead
150. The Rapture - Echoes
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VOICEsVOICEs to tour US with Prefuse 73 and Gaslamp Killer this January ; "Origins" out next month

VOICEsVOICEs to tour US with Prefuse 73 and Gaslamp Killer this January ; "Origins" out next monthExperimental rock duo hit the road on the US as both the openers and the live backing band for Prefuse 73. He also will be playing with their band as well.
MP3: Flulyk Dreams (Edit)

"Their sound-- part ambient electronic, part primal scrawl-- is tough to pin down and always taking unexpected turns"
Pitchfork Media

"schized-out drone pop"
VOICEsVOICEs are a two-piece making warm, seductively atmospheric, mostly instrumental music from Los Angeles. Formed in June of 2008, Jenean Farris and Nico Turner, came together to break away from the musical mold they were confined to in previous projects to defy what they've been taught, and challenge what they know. Their use of pedals, looping, spellbinding vocals, and heartrending drumming results in hauntingly beautiful music that will awaken even your most subconscious dreams and fears. L.A. Record says "Los Angeles has one of the most exciting music scenes going on in the world right now and in the center of all this is the darling female duo, VOICEsVOICEs."

Both musicians were originally drummers for other bands and wanted to show that drummers were creative musical forces and more than merely providers of backbeats for other people's songs. The project began as an experiment in the creation of sound, with masking vocals that swirl like ghosts in a sea of reverb, beats and distortion, creating a sound that amounted to a beautiful clutter. Although they hadn't much experience performing other instruments prior to combining their forces, or perhaps because of it, they developed a psychedelic ambient sound that is unique in a way that separates them from the other bands in the abundant Los Angeles music scene.

While they both still play drums and various percussions, they learned to incorporate guitars, pedals and looping effects, even as they were still learning to play the instruments. Rather than procrastinate in a rehearsal space, they chose to perform live as often as they could at any place that would welcome them. Through dozens of shows in their early months, they developed their style and their fanbase at the same time, playing mostly in galleries and all age venues. Rather than relying on luck to be discovered, and confident in the power of their sweeping scores, they released their first self-produced and self-released ep, "Sounds Outside" within a few months of forming and it was warmly received, garnering rave reviews from Los Angeles publications like LA Record and grabbing the attention of influential label Manimal Vinyl and producer Prefuse 73.

Quickly advancing to the the top indie rock clubs in town like Spaceland, The Echo and The Smell, their fanbase and reputation grew in leaps and bounds. They were immediately snatched up by Manimal Vinyl who is releasing their new ep "Origins" in January. The EP was produced by Prefuse 73, who postponed his own recording for the opportunity to work with the band. In the studio, Prefuse added textural instruments and arrangements and brought the two musicians vocals closer to the forefront. The result is a combination of compositions that fall somewhere between Enya and the Plastic Ono Band. Barely a year after combining forces, VOICEsVOICEs were opening shows for artists like Blackheart Procession and Octopus Project In November, 2009 they were tapped for a month-long European touring with Brightblack Morning Light and Rio en Medio. Their shows are notable for attracting some of the top local musicians and scenemakers who become avid fans after one or two listens. Their soundscapes will send you into a peaceful slumber or make you scream and want to break things, sometimes causing both reactions at the same time.

ORIGINS OUT 01.26.2010 on Manimal Vinyl

12/31 Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL #
01/19 Music Hall Of Williamsburg Brooklyn NY *
01/20 Middle East Downstairs Cambridge MA **
01/23 Eagle Theatre Pontiac MI **
01/25 Triple Rock Social Club Minneapolis MN **
01/29 The Nightlight Lounge Bellingham WA *
01/30 Neumos Seattle WA *
01/31 Holocene Portland OR *
02/02 Slims San Francisco CA *
02/03 Troubadour Los Angeles CA *
02/05 Urban Lounge Salt Lake City UT **
02/06 Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom Denver CO *
# w/ Umphrey's McGee
* w/ Gaslamp Killer, Voices Voices
** w/ Gaslamp Killer


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Best of 2009 lists GUY BLAKESLEE

BEST OF 2009 list
by Guy Blakeslee of THE ENTRANCE BAND

V/A- I Woke Up One Morning in May (Mississippi Records)
Abner Jay- The True Story of Abner Jay (Mississippi Records)
Bishop Perry Tillis- In Times Like These (Mississippi Records)
Joseph Spence- Good Morning Mr. Walker (Mississippi Records)
V/A- Mortika (Recordings from a Greek Underworld) (Mississippi Records)
V/A-String of Pearls (Jewels of the 78 rpm era, 1918-1951) (Mississippi
Fred McDowell- S/T (Mississippi Records)
Nirvana- Live at Reading DVD (DGC)
Kurt Vile- Childish Prodigy (Matador)
V/A- Fire In My Bones (Raw+Rare+Otherworldly African American Gospel,
1944-2007) (Tompkins Square)
Group Bombino- Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2 (Sublime Frequencies)
Group Doueh- Treeg Salaam (Sublime Frequencies)
Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavillion (Domino)
The Growlers- Are You In or Out? (Everloving)
Fool's Gold- S/T (I Am Sound)
Sonic Youth- Live performance in Birmingham, Alabama @ Sloss Furnaces

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Gallery is here. All SLITS photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in San Francisco.

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The Slits @ The Echo SUNDAY

Gallery is here. All SLITS photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in San Francisco.

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Top Twelve Gigs of 2009

NUMBER ONE! October 6th: Fever Ray @ Glass House

This was an amazing gig. It was underattended. It was a special night.

NUMBER TWO - October 2nd: Thom Yorke + friends

I still can't believe I was at this show.

NUMBER THREE - Sept 10th: Nine Inch Nails @ Wiltern

The final gig. He played for three hours. Everyone looked pissed off.

NUMBER FOUR - June 16th: Bat For Lashes + Hecuba @ El Rey

Great show. Harder than hell to get in.

NUMBER FIVE - April 16th: My Bloody Valentine @ El Rey

Another amazing night and can't believe they let me in.

NUMBER SIX - March 21st: Black Mountain @ Echoplex

First time I had seen these guys, so it was a special night.

NUMBER SEVEN - August 29th: The Dead Weather @ San Diego Street Scene

If you went to one show this year, you should have saw these guys.

NUMBER EIGHT - July 2nd: Amazing Baby + Band of Skulls @ Hammer Museum

This gig was hilarious for all the nonsense surrounding it.

NUMBER NINE - Feb 27th: St. Vincent @ Great American Music Hall

This was the surprise show of this year's Noise Pop 2009.

NUMBER TEN - Oct 21st: The XX @ Mercury Lounge

People were lined up hours before the gig, and I was one of the last ones let in. This gig featured all four members.

Honorable Mentions:

NUMBER ELEVEN - Feb 24th: Antony and The Johnsons @ Nob Hill Masonic

Another great Noise Pop show. Only time I have been to this venue.

NUMBER TWELVE - May 27th: The Prodigy @ Hollywood Palladium

First time I have seen The Prodigy. Worth noting.
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Gallery is here. All PEACHES photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in Seattle.

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APTBS + The Big Pink



03/10/10 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
03/12/10 Seattle, WA
@ Neumos
03/13/10 Vancouver, BC
@ Venue
03/14/10 Portland, OR
@ Doug Fir Lounge
03/18/10 Minneapolis, MN
@ First Ave
03/19/10 Madison, WI
@ Turner Hall
03/20/10 Chicago, IL
@ Metro
03/22/10 Newport, KY
@ Southgate House
03/23/10 Cleveland, OH
@ Grog Shop
03/24/10 Toronto, ONT
@ Mod Club
03/26/10 Montreal, QUE
@ Cabaret
03/27/10 Boston, MA
@ Paradise
03/28/10 Hoboken, NJ
@ Maxwells
03/30/10 New York, NY
@ Webster Hall
03/31/10 Philadelphia, PA
04/01/10 Baltimore, MD
@ Rams Head Live
04/02/10 Chapel Hill, NC
@ Cats Cradle
04/03/10 Atlanta, GA
@ Masquerade
04/05/10 Tallahassee, FL
@ Club Downunder
04/07/10 Houston, TX
@ Warehouse Live Studio
04/08/10 Austin, TX
@ Parish
04/09/10 Dallas, TX
@ Granada
04/10/10 Lawrence, KS
@ Bottleneck
04/11/10 Denver, CO
@ Bluebird
04/12/10 Salt Lake City, UT
@ Urban Lounge
04/14/10 Phoenix, AZ
@ Rhythm Room
04/15/10 San Diego, CA
@ Casbah

A Place To Bury Strangers and The Big Pink will hit the road on a North American tour March 10th, 2010 in San Francisco. The tour sees the bands hitting select U.S. and Canadian cities before heading back to the west coast to end the tour April 15th, 2010 in San Diego. The kindred bands have been neighbors on many of 2009’s year end best of lists and The Big Pink proudly uses APTBS frontman Oliver Ackermann’s Death By Audio pedals.

A Place To Bury Strangers’ sophomore album “Exploding Head” was released on Mute October 6th, 2009 and debuted at #1 Most Added at College Radio week of release. In their 4.5 star review of the album, Alternative Press says "Like Sonic Youth before them, the trio have perfected the fine balance of loud and quiet, the result being one of the finer melody-driven noise-rock records in recent memory." “Exploding Head” continues to rake in the praise, making a nomination for Best Band In New York from the New York Press.

And the Philly Daily News writes of their live show; "Foot pedals lined the stage, lending the band their signature mix of blissed-out shoegaze and dramatic new wave. The band barely spoke, but poured their passion into the tunes, with front man Oliver Ackermann hunched over his guitar like an animal, swinging his arms wildly. His vocals—when audible—sounded a bit like Ian Curtis, and the whole thing—when viewed primarily in flashes of strobe light—seemed overwhelming and surreal. Welcome to an alternate reality. Welcome to APTBS."

A Place To Bury Strangers are Oliver Ackermann (vocals/guitar), Jono MOFO (bass) and Jay Space (drums). They release “Keep Slipping Away,” the second single from “Exploding Head” December 7th, 2009. Stay tuned to Myspace this weekend for the “Keep Slipping Away” video premiere!

“Keep Slipping Away Tracklist
Keep Slipping Away (Radio Edit)
Hit the Ground
Keep Slipping Away (South Central Remix)
Keep Slipping Away (Cereal Spiller Remix)
Keep Slipping Away (Maps Remix)
Keep Slipping Away (Richard Fearless Remix)
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More top ten CDs of 2009: Gliss, Zaza

Victoria Cecilia (Gliss)

1. Peter Doherty: Grace/Wastelands
2. The Warlocks: The Mirror Explodes
3. The Big Pink - A Brief History Of Love
4. A Place to Bury Strangers- Exploding Head
5. The Horrors - Primary Colours
6. Graham Coxon - The Spinning Top
7. Bon Iver - Blood Bank
8. Camera Obscura -My Maudlin Career
9. The Morning After Girls – Alone
10. Choir of Young Believers - This is for the white in your eyes

Jennifer P. Fraser (Zaza)

1. In and Out of Control by the Raveonettes
2. Two Suns by Bat For Lashes
3. Fever Ray by Fever Ray
4. Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride by The Black Ryder
5. Rewild By Amazing Baby
6. Does You Inspire You By Chairlift
7. Veckatimest By Grizzly Bear
8. Midnight Boom By The Kills
9. Exploding Head By A Place To Bury Strangers
10 The New Sarena Maneesh record
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The New No. 2

Gallery is here. All photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in Seattle.

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Lisa Germano Interview

Lisa Germano Interview
By Alexander Laurence

Lisa Germano is an American songwriter. She grew up in Indiana, but now
lives in Los Angeles. She has done a load of collaborations and numerous solo
records including Geek The Girl (1994), Excerpts From A Love Circus (1996),
Lullaby for Liquid Pig (2003), and In the Maybe World (2006). Her latest
record is called Magic Neighbor (2009). She also contributed a track to the
compilation Seven Worlds Collide.

AL: You haven’t been doing many interviews lately?

Lisa: Yeah. I didn’t do many interviews for this record. It’s not like I
don’t really care, but I don’t care. I got a bunch of reviews. I am just
glad to put out a record that has artwork that you can touch and feel. I still
believe in that. People need that. It’s fun. We can show each other our CDs
instead of going into this world where we don’t relate to each other. Don’t
touch anything.

AL: Do you reject this computer based world?

Lisa: I don’t reject it. It’s over my head. I am trying to learn more
about the computer. I don’t want to be out of the loop completely. I don’t like
how it seems to make everyone numb. I don’t like how it treats music

AL: You spent a lot of time learning how to read music and learning an
instrument. There are people today who make competent music using a computer.

Lisa: I don’t reject that. I reject it when it becomes uncreative. With all
the computer stuff I am sure there are ways to be creative on it. Since
that is the way things seem to be going. When kids get excited on the computer
and blog about something, they are sharing music. It’s different from
touching it. If you can do both it’s better. I don’t think that the computer
stuff is horrible. It just makes people unfocused. People’s attention span is
gone. They don’t sit down and actually listen to a record. They go to track to

AL: It is like people seem to know about authors like Bukowski and Rimbaud,
but they don’t seem to have read anything, and actually been engaged in
reading a book.

Lisa: They know what they are. They have information. But they don’t
experience it. That is what I am saying about the music. They will know the new
bands, but they don’t spend a lot of time with them, when you do when you have
the actual CD in your hands. You can feel it and see it. It’s different
when it’s on the computer.

AL: What happened with that 7 World’s Collide CD?

Lisa: It should have been very well received. It was something we all did
for OXFAM. It was all for free. We all gave up our publishing. It was me, and
Neil Finn, Tim Finn, two guys from Radiohead, Johnny Marr, Sebastian
Steinberg, and Wilco. We all gave up our time and wrote a record last February. It
came out in September and nobody seems to know that it’s out. It’s
unbelievable. KCRW was nice to do a little show, but they haven’t really followed
up, and continued to play the record. At Christmas time that record should be
in the displays. This is the only place where you heard these songs. It’s
called 7 World’s Collide “The Sun Came Out.”

AL: Many great records are not promoted. The media doesn’t really write
about new music. The radio stations don’t really play exciting new records. So
the internet and blogs are maybe one of the only places to hear about what is
out there.

Lisa: It’s really bad right now. The music business has always been based
on money because you have to sell records. One of the problems now is there
is too much music. It’s pretty cool that you can make music on your computer.
It’s great that you can make your own CDs. It’s cool. You want people to
be creative. But I think it’s made people lazy rather than creative. People
just are like “I made a CD” rather than really working on it, and making
something that you have really seen through, and lived with it. So you go “Oh,
that song is not happening, I am going to change it.” That was when good
record companies were great, because they wouldn’t let you put out a record
just because you finished it. Sometimes they wanted you to have a hit, but
still, there was less music coming out.

AL: A record company would sign a band and not put out the record also.

Lisa: Yeah. There’s that. Sometimes there’s a good piece of work and then
they don’t put it out.

AL: Things are backwards now. You release a CD and it’s a blueprint of what
the live show is going to be like. Then, people who go see a live show will
buy a CD as a souvenir.

Lisa: I see what you mean. You make money on tour with the merchandise. I
think it’s cool when the CD sounds quite different from the live show. Why do
you copy it? I just saw that.

AL: Do you think in the 1980s and 1990s there was more pressure on the
artist to have a hit?

Lisa: Yeah. I preferred not to have that pressure. When I was on Capitol,
we fought for months, because I wanted my sequence: because it told the story
of my record. They wanted the song that was radio friendly to be the second
song. To them, the hit was the whole idea of the record. To me, it ruined
my whole record. If that song wasn’t a radio hit, I have to live with this
record the rest of my life. You’ll just drop me. It’s more important to have
artist integrity. So we fought. They just put it out after I had to
compromise a bunch of stuff. Then they fired everybody. I took that record over to

AL: Sheryl Crow did “All I Wanna Do” as an afterthought and it became a
smash hit.

Lisa: That was at the same time as my record, Happiness. They worked that
record. It was more of a pop record than mine. I was jealous at the time.
They kept releasing singles from it until they got attention. They released
mine and fired everyone. My record got lost. Working with Michael Gira and
Young God Records is really different. He still puts out records. It’s not easy
for him to do that, financially. He works with me. He will tell me what he
likes and doesn't like. So did Ivo at 4AD. It doesn’t mean that I can’t do
it. But I have enough respect for them that I will listen to their ideas. If
I agree with them that’s fine, but if I don’t, I have to be stronger about
my own opinion. You are working together.

AL: How do you get from Capitol to 4AD, then to Michael Gira, who seems to
come from another world?

Lisa: It sounds cocky, but I think he was a fan. It still blows me away
that he likes my music. I tell him this all the time. I sort of understand what
he likes about it.

AL: When I think of your music, there is this sense of beauty going on.
What do you think about that?

Lisa: There is a sense of beauty in my music. But what I am saying in my
songs is sort of dark, but you use beauty to hide it. People talk about my
songs as fairy tales. I like when they do that. I didn’t used to think that,
but now I know what they meant. Where fairy tales are really pretty “Long ago
there was a really bad king….” They can tell stories that are really dark
with a nice lilt, and it’s easy to understand. That is what my music is

AL: It’s music that you listen to late at night?

Lisa: Yes. It’s bedtime music. I hardly ever listen to it during the day.
Although this new record is the most upbeat one. It’s a daylight record.

AL: Did you take a break before making this record?

Lisa: I am always doing music. I work on music when I can. I have to make a
living. I used to make a living just doing music, but it’s a long story.
People think I quit. There was all this drama. I will tell people that I am
not playing music anymore. If I am writing, I will write a record. I don’t
want to feel like it’s my job. It’s like a gift. When it comes. When I can
express things, and make sense, and things come together. And it’s like wow, I
like that enough to want to share it with people. People might like it.

AL: How many songs did you write for Magic Neighbor?

Lisa: I only wrote four new songs. They were all old songs. I looked at
them and reworked them. I changed the lyrics and recorded it differently.

AL: Did you play everything on the record?

Lisa: I played everything, except my boyfriend Sebastian Steinberg, played
the bass guitar. Greg Leisz played the pedal steel guitar on three songs. He
plays on everyone’s records. He’s played with me for years. It’s just us
three. Jamie Candiloro recorded it at his house. That what was different from
my other records. I used to record them full on, and take them to Pro Tools
at Jamie’s or Joey Waronker’s. Then work on them. This one was all fresh,
and worked on them at Jamie’s. I didn’t even practice things sometimes.

AL: You do this thing in your songs where you change the tempo. It’s more
like classical music, where it’s more about the tempo of the emotion.

Lisa: I like to do that. I think that I have always done that, but I do
that more now. It’s not on purpose. I want to do what I want. I don’t want to
be stuck with the drumbeat. I like silences and pauses. It gives you time to
think. What did you just say? Instead of an in your face song all the way
through. I get bored with that.

AL: There is a lot of noises and tapping going on in the record. What is
going on there?

Lisa: We did lots of things. We had things that we rattled. We had a thing
that goes “Boom.”

AL: What is the cover?

Lisa: It’s a painting by a friend in New Zealand. He’s a great painter.

AL: Do you have a website?

Lisa: Yes. I should get more involved. There is a Myspace page that someone
else runs. I was thinking maybe I should have one of my own. I can’t
decide. I don’t know if it helps or not. I don’t know if I want to put myself out
there or not. I was stalked before by a psychopath. Yeah. It was years ago.
The more they know about you, the more they can get into your life. I don’t
need that.

AL: I know that they are bringing back the Lilith Fair. Did you ever do

Lisa: They never asked me. I would have done it if they asked me. It’s
weird. I am like this strange artist, but I am not THAT strange. There is
something strange about it where people think the music is too dark or too pretty.
I have a following of people who get it, but it is mostly in Europe.

AL: What is the song “The Mighty One” about, and is that related to

Lisa: I didn’t call it “The Mighty One” for a long time. We call our cat
“The Mighty One” because he had cancer. That song is basically about
fighting with your demon. When you are a depressed person you got this demon. You
can be having a great day, and this thing will come back from your childhood.
Sometimes you know what it is or not. It fucks you up. That is what that
song is about. It’s about fighting that demon, and finally winning. You are
saying “fuck you, man.” I am in control and can send you on your way.

AL: Did you grow up with religion?

Lisa: I was raised Catholic, so I was afraid of God most of my life. I
thought God was going to hurt me. Once I moved away from home, I got away from
that sort of thinking. I still feel guilt about things I shouldn’t feel guilt
about. I think there are hidden forces. I think there are demons and angels
out there fighting with your spirit. An angel can be a beautiful thought
that can get you out of a terrible situation. So you don’t kill yourself.

AL: What do you think of all this talk about 2012?

Lisa: I hate that. We have always thought the world was ending. It’s harder
to be happy, than to be full of doom. I find that stuff really boring.

AL: You played with Smashing Pumpkins for a few weeks about ten years ago.
What happened there?

Lisa: That was just a bunch of young kids being powerful and not being
respectful of anything. They asked me to join the tour. I quit my job here in
Los Angeles. I moved my cats to Indiana. The tour was supposed to be four
months long. I had to sublet my apartment. We went through rehearsals. Billy
Corgan, D’Arcy, and James Iha didn’t talk to each other. So for one, it was a
fucked situation. They wouldn’t talk to each other. Billy would say “D’Arcy,
would you sing backup on this?” And if she didn’t say anything, Billy would
say “Lisa. Why don’t you sing backup on this?” So I was doing stuff that
nobody would do. Billy would tell James Iha to play mandolin on a song. And
James would say “I am playing guitar on this man.” So I would play the
mandolin. I was playing on a shitload of stuff. So they were fighting at that
time. What then happened was the weekend before our first show, they wanted me
to sign a contract out of the blue. The contract listed all this stuff I
couldn’t do while I was on tour with them. They knew I wouldn’t sign that.
They knew I had a record coming out. The contract said I couldn’t release
anything while I was in Smashing Pumpkins. So I didn’t sign it. They sent me home
without discussing it.

AL: What were some of the other conditions on the contract?

Lisa: That I couldn’t talk about Smashing Pumpkins during those four
months. I couldn’t talk about them in interviews. I touched Billy on the knee. I
said “You can’t do this! It’s not fair. You put all this money into me being
here. It’s silly sending me home.” He said: “Don’t worry. We’ll work it
out.” And that night I was sent home. He’s such a lame ass. He wouldn’t talk
to me. He wouldn’t explain anything. I wrote him letters. I wanted to sue
them for two weeks, because they didn’t pay me. They were complete assholes and
it fucked me up. They were irresponsible. Billy is very egocentric. His
karma will come back to him.

AL: You have done some other more successful collaborations?

Lisa: I just recorded some stuff with Phil from Radiohead in England. It’s
his first solo record. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome. It was me, and
Sebastian, and the drummer and keyboard from Wilco. Phil sings and plays guitar.

AL: I saw Thom Yorke play with Flea and Joey Waronker.

Lisa: Phil’s record is coming out soon. Thom Yorke’s solo stuff is beat
driven. Phil’s music is the opposite: it’s songwriter driven. Even though
he’s a drummer.

AL: Have you played any shows for this record Magic Neighbor?

Lisa: I haven’t done anything. It came out and there have been a bunch of
reviews. I am just starting now thinking about touring Europe. Phil and I
might do something together. My last few tours have been me by myself, or me
and Sebastian. I haven’t been able to afford a band. I am just glad there are
reviews. I am shocked that people like it.

Website: http://www.lisegermano.com/
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J. Tillman Interview

J. Tillman Interview
By Alexander Laurence

J. Tillman is a musical artist based in Seattle. His albums include I Will
Return (2005), Minor Works (2006), Vacilando Territory Blues (2009) and now
Year In The Kingdom. J. Tillman is also the drummer for Fleet Foxes who
became very popular in 2008. I got to ask the very reclusive J. Tillman a few
questions about his music. You don’t see a lot of interviews with him. I was
lucky for these few words. Hopefully everyone out there can go to the shows
and let the music speak for itself.

AL: Do you like touring?

J. Tillman: I've always liked touring.

AL: Who is in your band now and how did you find these musicians?

J. Tillman: My brother, my friend, my drug-dealer, and my mechanic.

AL: When were these songs written that are on your album, Year In The

J. Tillman: Last year.

AL: What are your songs specifically about?

J. Tillman: I don't really write about isolated, linear experiences.

AL: How do you feel about people downloading your music illegally?

J. Tillman: I've never downloaded an album. I would have a hard time
judging an experience I haven't had. It might make music better for some people.

AL: What were some of the festivals you played this summer, and were
there any stand out moments?

J. Tillman: Bananaramathon, Laid 'N' Tha Shade, ATQRMPXW, etc. Funnel cake
grease dripping down my face as I look for the wristband pavilion in the
pouring rain overhearing a band that everyone loves and I can't understand why.

AL: What other new bands do you like?

J. Tillman: "Other" new bands?

AL: Can you recommend a book?

J. Tillman: "Cosmic Serpent" by Jeremy Narby or "Secret Teachings of All
Ages" By Manly P. Hall if you're looking for a classic.

AL: What should people expect in your shows this December?

J. Tillman: 10-13 J. Tillman songs.

AL: Is there any musician who you would want to collaborate with?

J. Tillman: If you can hunt me down a singing kitten.


J. TILLMAN plays the Troubadour on Wednesday, December 2nd
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Genre-smashing musical pioneers Goldfrapp announce their brand new album ‘Head First’ to be released through Mute on March 23rd, 2010. This will be preceded by the new single ‘Rocket’ on March 9th, 2010.

Head First’ is Goldfrapp's most powerful trip to date, a speedy rush of synth optimism, euphoria, fantasy and romance. With life affirming lyrics and stellar production it lifts off at full tilt and takes us on a journey to the heart of 2010.

The duo’s fifth album, ‘Head First’ is written and produced by band mates Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory and was recorded throughout 2009 in Bath and in London.

Fizzy with inspiration, the brand new single ‘Rocket’ is a goose-bump brilliant tune destined to float out of radios across the land.

Goldfrapp will take ‘Head First’ on tour later in 2010 - following the massive acclamation for both the 'Supernature' and 'Seventh Tree' tours and festival appearances around the world, Goldfrapp have underlined their reputation as one of the most transcendent and inventive live bands around.

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Warpaint @ echoplex tonight

Gallery is here. All Warpaint photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in Seattle.

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Heartless Bastards

Gallery is here. All live photos here taken by Angel Ceballos in Seattle.

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Angel Ceballos's top 40 records of 2009

Happy 2009 everyone - 2010 promises to rock even harder!!

1. The Horrors – Primary Colours
2. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
3. Miike Snow – Self title
4. Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
5. IAMX – Kingdom of Welcome Addiction
6. White Denim – Fits
7. Boy Crisis – Self title
8. Circlesquare – Songs about Dancing and Drugs
9. Hecuba – Paradise
10. Cock and Swan – Marshmallow Sunset
11. The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
12. Golden Silvers – True Romance
13. The Raveonettes – In And Out Of Control
14. Gliss – Devotion Implosion
15. Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg
16. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Pains of Being Pure At Heart
17. The Polyamorous Affair – Bolshevik Disco
18. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
19. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
20. Har Mar Superstar – Dark Touches
21. Logh-North
22. Amazing Baby – Rewild
23. Warpaint – Exquisite Corpse
24. The Dead Weather – Horehound
25. Grizzly Bear –Veckatimest
26. Múm – Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know
27. Band of Skulls – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
28. The xx - XX
29. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close
30. Miranda Lee Richards – Light of X
31. Alessi’s Ark – Notes From The Treehouse
32. The Answering Machine – Another City, Another Sorry
33. Corridor - Corridor
34. Real Estate – Self Title
35. Girls -Album
36. Mission of Burma-The Sound The Light The Speed
37. Doll and The Kicks – Self title
38. A Camp – Colonia
39. The Pinx –Look What You Made Me Do
40. Igor Spectre – Tramps in Stereo

Honourable mentions:
  • Sue and The Unicorn– assorted singles

  • Robots in Disguise – assorted singles

  • The Soft Pack - Muslims EP

  • Zaza – Cameo EP

  • Voices Voices – Sounds Outside EP

  • Magic Wands – Magic, Love & Dreams EP

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Alexander 's favorite CDs of 2009

The Portable Infinite

1. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
2. Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse - Dark Night of the Soul
3. Cold Cave – Love Comes Close
4. The Big Pink – A Brief History of Love
5. Hope Sandoval – Through The Devil Softly
6. The Horrors – Primary Colours
7. A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
8. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
9. The xx - XX
10. Hecuba - Paradise
11. Soulsavers – Broken
12. Band of Skulls – Baby Darling Doll Face Honey
13. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
14. Late of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel
15. Amazing Baby – Rewild
16. Alessi’s Ark – Notes From The Treehouse
17. Neon Indian - Psychic Chasms
18. Dot Allison – Room 7 1/2
19. Taken By Trees – East Of Eden
20. St. Vincent - Actor
21. Flaming Lips – Embryonic
22. White Denim – Fits
23. Florence and The Machine – Lungs
24. Telepathe - Dancemother
25. Githead - Landing
26. David Sylvian – Manafon
27. PJ Harvey & John Parish – A Woman, A Man, Walked By
28. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Pains of Being Pure At Heart
29. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
30. Gliss – Devotion Implosion
31. Aidan Moffat & Best-Ofs – How to Get to Heaven From Scotland
32. Devendra Banhart – What Will We Be
33. The Dead Weather - Horehound
34. The Raveonettes – In And Out Of Control
35. The Answering Machine – Another City, Another Sorry
36. Vuk – The Plains
37. Lightning Dust – Infinite Light
38. Polly Scattergood – Polly Scattergood
39. Antony and The Johnsons – The Crying Light
40. Empire Of The Sun – Walking On A Dream
41. Julian Casablancas – Phrazes For The Young
42. A Camp – Colonia
43. Wolfmother – Cormic Egg
44. Vetiver – Tight Knit
45. Spinnerette – Spinnerette
46. Múm – Sing Along To Songs You Don’t Know
47. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
48. Corridor - Corridor
49. Lisa Germano – Magic Neighbor
50. Andrew Bird – Noble Beast

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Lightning Dust Interview

Interview by Alexander Laurence

Lightning Dust is a band from Vancouver, British Columbia. It’s a duo,
Amber Webber and Joshua Wells, who are also members of the band Black Mountain.
They have two albums: Lightning Dust (2007) and the new one Infinite Light
(2009). So far this year they have toured with Cave Singers and Bonnie Prince
Billy. They tour Germany this December 2009.

AL: Have you toured in Germany and Berlin before?

Joshua: Black Mountain has a whole bunch. We have been there four or five
times now. We have done both festivals and club shows. Most of the time in
Germany we play clubs. The festivals are more likely to happen in the UK, the
Netherlands, and Scandinavia. WE have played a lot of clubs in Berlin. The
place we have played the most is the Festival of Kreutzberg, which is a
staple of the neighborhood. It’s a hall.

AL: When you get to Germany on a tour, do you have time, or a day off, to
look around?

Joshua: Yeah. We have a little bit. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.
It’s cool to check out European cities, especially Berlin, which is huge.
You can spend months there and not see much of the city at all. It’s a
beautiful city. Parts of it are a wasteland and parts have amazing architecture. A
lot of it is quite modern. Berlin is constantly in decay and rebirth.

AL: The last Black Mountain record came out almost two years ago, and you
toured on that record until Spring 2009. When did you have time to do this
Lightning Dust record?

Joshua: We made the record last winter. It was in between Black Mountain
tours basically. You can’t really tour anywhere, unless you are in the
southern hemispheres. We started the record in November 2008, and finished it in
January 2009. The record came out in the summer, after we had finished all the
Black Mountain tours. We had to put together an actual band to tour as
Lightning Dust. The new stuff requires a full band. The first album was
different, and we played as a duo. We have done a few North American tours, and are
excited to go to Europe.

AL: You never thought about coming out with a laptop computer?

Joshua: We have never done that. Our first album is really sparse. It is
actually only piano and guitar. And vocals. We did one tour as a duo and a
bunch of local shows and one off shows. We couldn’t do that with the new
record. When we record, especially with this band, we never think of what it’s
going to be like when we play live. It is a studio group. This album is way
more orchestrated. We had to put together a band to tour.

AL: How was it playing shows with The Cave Singers and Bonnie Prince Billy?

Joshua: The Cave Singers are old friends of ours. We feel comfortable
playing shows with them. That is a familiar arrangement. That was an extensive
five-week tour of North America. It was great to play small clubs to a few
people. It’s great when both bands get noticed by people who listen to music.

AL: Since you know Cave Singers so well, do you collaborate or play with
each other?

Joshua: Yeah. Both Amber and I have played with those guys. Amber has done
some singing on both of their records. I played some drums on their first
records. On this tour I played some keyboards. It’s pretty fun that way.

AL: And Bonnie Prince Billy?

Joshua: It was really different. It was frightening too because it was our
first tour with this band, with the extra members. We had to rise to the
challenge of playing really nice theaters every night in front of sit down
crowds. It was really cool. We had really attentive audiences.

AL: Some bands that are a little more quiet and subtle, and have silence
and space in their music, have a hard time in these rock clubs where people
are talking all the time. What do you think about that?

Joshua: It’s hard to get people to listen especially if you are thrown in
front of people who have no idea what you are all about. If people come to
see you, they might understand better. It’s a challenge. Shows are social
occasions and part of life. Lately, they have been matching us up with some good

AL: Did you write these songs when you were on tour with Black Mountain?

Joshua: Mostly we wrote the songs in the time in between tours. We
collected the songs over a period of two years. There is not a lot of time on the
road to sit down with a guitar and piano and write new songs.

AL: Does Amber write all the lyrics and melodies first?

Joshua: We write songs two ways. Amber writes songs on guitar and her songs
are based more on melody. The vocals come first in the way that she writes.
There is another way we write songs. That is where I write a song on piano
as an instrumental, and she adds the melody and the lyrics to them.

AL: Since you are writing songs all the time, how do you decide which songs
go to Black Mountain and which ones go to Lightning Dust?

Joshua: It’s pretty obvious that we are not the main songwriters in Black
Mountain. Steve is the main songwriter in Black Mountain, and we are involved
more in arrangements in that band. Amber has written a song or two. Black
Mountain is a rock band. Our songs are not suitable for a rock band.

AL: What songs are you playing nowadays?

Joshua: We have picked some favorite songs to play. It’s mostly new songs.

AL: So now we are talking to Amber. Where did you go?

Amber: I was buying something at a department store. The line was long.

AL: Are there any good places we should check out in Vancouver?

Amber: We have cool stores here that our friends are running. It’s a skate
shop called Antisocial. They have a lot of cool stuff. They have an art
gallery in the back. Bands play there.

AL: Is anyone in Lightning Dust a skateboarder?

Amber: Josh and I used to skateboard. I think Ryan the drummer still does
it. Most of the band doesn’t though.

AL: Was there any new influences on this new Lightning Dust record? Were
there any books that you read? Was there anything you wanted to do that was
new with this record?

Amber: We only did one small tour for the first album. The only thought I
had when we did the second album was to have more instrumentation so we could
tour easier. When things are that sparse, it’s hard to tour in rock clubs.
I don’t think that I was influenced by any books. I just read the Twilight

AL: You like vampire stories?

Amber: No. I just read those because it was light reading. Josh read Master
and the Margarita by Bulgakov. I just read Glass Castles by Jeannette
Walls. I like that. It’s a memoir.

AL: Do you bring a lot of gear on tour?

Amber: No. We have tried to condense it down. Josh used to bring a
Wurlitzer organ. All the old gear brakes down. It’s hard to bring stuff around on
planes. We have one of those ugly Nord pianos. It’s all in one pianos. My
sister used to be in this band, The Organ. It used to take every member in the
band to carry this organ around. My sister now plays bass in Lightning Dust.
We have a simple setup.

AL: So you just rent a bunch of gear when you get in Germany?

Amber: Yeah. We have our man, Heist, in Germany. I am bringing this
terrible guitar, because I don’t want to bring my good one. We brought some stuff,
as Black Mountain, and left it with Heist. Now Josh can have a better snare
when we get to Germany. It becomes expensive to bring a bunch of guitars.

AL: You have toured a lot this past two years?

Amber: Yeah. Black Mountain probably toured for six solid months. We got to
go to Brazil and Australia. We haven’t been to Asia yet.

AL: Have you seen any good new bands?

Amber: We played with The Oh Sees. They are from San Francisco. I saw
Dinosaur Jr. I wasn’t really a fan, but seeing them live was rad. We played a
couple shows with Portishead. They were the headliners. We played with Neil
Young in Denmark. We saw Jay-Z too. The tour with Bonnie Prince Billy was

AL: You can’t top that.

Amber: Definitely you can’t top that. Watching him play every night never
got boring. The way they play the songs changes every night. He has a group
of people who are very passionate about music. It was inspiring.

Website: www.lightningdust.com
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Beach House "Norway"

Free Mp3 from Beach House - "Norway"

Sub Pop is excited to offer up the first free download ("Norway") off Beach House's highly anticipated upcoming release, Teen Dream, out January 26th 2010.

To quote our very own bio for Beach House, Teen Dream is “ without question, more expansive and moving than anything they have shared before”… We think you’ll hear evidence of that very evolution on their track “Norway” – here's your link to listen for yourself: http://subpop-public.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/audio/6124.mp3

Beach House Artist Page (complete with Beach House band bio, new band photos, Teen Dream album artwork, mp3 and band website links) : http://www.subpop.com/artists/beach_house ;
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Voices Voices

Gallery is here. All photos taken by Angel Ceballos.

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Alessi's Ark Interview

Alessi’s Ark
Interview by Alexander Laurence

London-based Alessi Laurent-Marke has been doing music for almost three years now.
I have been writing about her for so long on the Portable-Infinite, that she was
called just Alessi back then. I attended one of her first shows, if not the
first. Much time has passed. She recorded an album called Notes From The
Treehouse (2009) with Mike Mogis. Her album came out earlier this year in
the UK, but not in the USA. She has played almost 150 shows by now. She has
done some art shows. She played at Glastonbury with Neil Young and others. She
has an EP coming out soon. She is off to Germany for the first time for
some shows there. She has done this all at the age of nineteen. Hopefully we
have a full length record to look forward to soon, and some American shows
next year.

AL: How do you like being here in New York City?

Alessi: New York is amazing and made even more special by some wonderful
friends that live there.

AL: Who is in your band now and how did you find these musicians?

Alessi: The Ark ebbs and flows and it's more like a gang than a band I
hope. Not that there's anything wrong with bands, but gangs/collectives
means more people can be involved! The fellows I’ve been playing with
for quite some time are Jamie Backhouse (guitar), Sam Nadel (drums)
and Adam Newton (bass). Sam lives in London and introduced me to both of
the others, Jamie lives up in Liverpool and Adam lives in Bristol.
Sam and Adam have been in their own band, Blackbud for a long while. I've
been fortunate enough to meet and play shows with members of the Willkommen
collective and we recently recorded some new songs together. It's been lovely
sharing the songs with these very kind
people dotted all around the country.

AL How were the recent shows with Cerys Matthews and Au Revoir Simone?

Alessi: They were very nice and both took place at the Union Chapel. It is
a very ornate chapel in Highbury & Islington. The acoustics are
beautiful and the audience sit amongst hundreds of glowing tea lights.
Cerys has the most beautiful voice and her band are very talented and
sweet, some from these parts and some from Tennessee.

AL: How has association with a big label like EMI been?

Alessi: Working with EMI was a good experience at first and it gave me the
chance of working with Mike Mogis, which was an experience I'll always
remember and hold closely. When the team I worked with left, the label became a
different place.

AL: I heard that you met artist Laura Levine recently. She created the
cover of your album. How was that meeting?

Alessi: It was a dream to meet her. She is a very rare and special person –
I admire her very much.

AL: What are your new songs about?

Alessi: Learning and friendship mostly.

AL: Are you writing about new experiences or are these more songs
connected to the earlier ones?

Alessi: New experiences.

AL: How do you feel about people downloading your music illegally?

Alessi: If somebody comes across your music and it keeps them good company,
that's what matters. There's so much music to find and search through, not
everybody wants to pay for it - but if they find an album or an artist that
strikes a chord with them, hopefully they'll go and tell a
friend or their sister and spread the word. It's a different way of paying
for it. Enthusiastic word spreading.

AL: How were your shows at CMJ?

Alessi: They were fun. The Living Room is a lovely venue and wins brownie
points for having a photobooth . Some very sweet friends came out to that
show despite the torrential rain and we ate a Mexican dinner up the road
afterwards. It was a win!

AL: What were some of the festivals you played this summer, and were there
any stand out moments?

Alessi: We played at quite a few this year ; Bestival, Glastonbury, Secret
Garden Party, Camp Bestival...and they were all very different and special
in their own ways. It was wonderful playing for little ones at
Camp Bestival - it's a family friendly version of Bestival that takes
place at Lulworth castle. The smaller festivals like Lounge On The Farm
and Nozstock are out there on their own in terms of paying attention
to lovely little details. One stand out moment was at Nozstock where
we are stuck in Dad's car in mud so thick, every single car on the
site had to be towed out by one tractor, one by one. Almost like
magic, we soared through the mud and avoided the tractor towing! Hyde Park
Calling was one of the best weekends of all time. We played on a bandstand
and then went to listen to Neil Young and his band play around the corner. He
is one of my favorites and it was just before my birthday. A very special

AL: How do you go about making videos?

Alessi: 'For one year' and 'The Crown' were made by Layke Anderson. 'My
Bedroom' was made by Madeleine Morley. Making things with friends is unlike
anything else in the world. We had a lot of fun just wandering around together
in different areas. 'For one year' covered a lot of West London - Ladbroke
Grove, Kensington and Holland Park and 'My Bedroom' and 'The Crown' were
both made in North London, in and around Hampstead Heath. 'The Horse' was made
by a lovely duo called 'DuckEye' in East London and we brought over Jake
Bellows to sing his parts. I was quite nervous at first to work with a team
other than friends but I've been lucky that everyone I’ve worked with has been
very warm and welcoming. 'Over the Hill' was made by Karni, a director from
Bristol who most often works as 'Karni + Saul' with her husband. The video
was made in an old house overlooking the river, up the road in Hammersmith.
A family live there and their cats and dog kept us company. One cat made an
appearance at the beginning of the video - look out!

AL: You have done some art shows. Can you describe what was happening in
that realm?

Alessi: I've always liked drawing and a friend, Lynden, encouraged me to
share the drawings in a local exhibition. Sometimes, it takes a friend to give
you a nudge to do something and you feel brave enough to do it. She has b
een organizing exhibitions and most recently a music festival, under the name
'The Velvet Sneaker' and is somebody I really admire. The exhibition was up
at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from august 4th till September 27th and
with Lynden's support it wasn't half as nerve wracking as I thought having
an exhibition would be. At the moment, I'm working on some artwork for a band
from Milan called Green Like July and drawing some bits and pieces with Ben Phillips -
you can have a look at his illustrations here : www.benjaminphillips.co.uk

AL: Is there a new EP on the way?

Alessi: Yes, It'll be called 'Soul Proprietor' and it'll be out early next
year. Ben and I have been working on the artwork. Three of the four
songs were recorded live.

AL: What other new bands do you like?

Alessi: Treetop Flyers are an amazing band from West London, my family and
I try to catch as many of their shows as we can. There is a lot of special
music in Brighton; Shoreline, Sons of Noel and Adrian,
Mechanical Bride... and I recently heard Dan Michaelson & The
Coastguards perform and thought their sound was lovely too. From
across the waters, I still listen to favorites ; Neva Dinova, Coal
Beautiere, McCarthy Trenching, Thunder Power and more recently ;
Forest Fire, Sharon Van Etten, She Keeps Bees, Alberta Cross and
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.

AL: Can you recommend a book?

Alessi: Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser.

AL: What should people expect in the shows in Germany this December?

Alessi: Some new songs from and probably some singing together, I'll be
going over with Jake Bellows. Give him (Neva Dinova) a listen if you haven't

 All photos taken by Angel Ceballos.

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Múm Interview

Interview by Alexander Laurence

Múm is an Icelandic band that started in 1997. They are well-known for
their music which is often experimental and for their unusual instruments. They
have had many members in their collective, but the two main members of the band
are Gunnar Örn Tynes and Örvar Póreyjarson Smárason. Their sixth album is called
Sing Along to Songs You Don’t Know (2009). I caught them at CMJ in New York
City at their first American show in a few years. I spoke with Örvar and we
all ran down to the bar to bet on racing cars.

AL: What have you been doing these past two years? Have you taken some time
off from music?

Örvar: We were still making music most of that time. We were making the
album the whole time. It’s all periodical. There is the time for the album and
the tours. It has been exactly two years since we did a proper tour of the
States. We were at Coachella in 2008. I remember when we were in Kansas for
Halloween exactly two years ago. We all wore costumes.

AL: Was there any games plan or concept with the new album?

Örvar: We always try to steer away from game plan. We are not good at
deciding something and then following it. We never decided to make music. It’s
more like turning on a faucet. The only thing we planned was making a little
more simpler.

AL: How many songs did you end up writing?

Örvar: There were twenty songs. We are using most of them. There are two
that we didn’t finish yet. We had an EP come out in October 2009. Now we have
exclusive tracks that will come out in Japan only. We have exclusive tracks
for Australia. Everything is so complicated now. You want people to buy
these records with extra songs. We want to have another EP in the Spring as

AL: Did you do some other collaborations besides the one with Animal

Örvar: A few things. The last one we did was a radio theater. We love doing
that. We have two radio plays in Iceland. We won a Scandinavian Award for
best radio play. We have done plays based on works by contemporary Icelandic
authors. We have worked with a director who makes adaptations from novels.
They are poetic books.

AL: Many of us in America have heard of Halldór Laxness, but not many new
writers in Iceland. We don’t have a lot of translations over here.

Örvar: Yes. It doesn’t get translated in English very often, but French and
German obviously more often. It’s hard to get published. I wrote a novel a
few years back, and I had it translated. It came out in Italy as well. I had
it translated into English, but I couldn’t be bothered with sending it to
people over here, because it is different.

AL: Did you find that it was easy to write a novel?

Örvar: It took a long time. It was something I wanted to do for a long t

AL: I have met Henrik from Singapore Sling.

Örvar: I used to play guitar for Singapore Sling. Henrik was in a car
accident recently. I hope that he is okay.

AL: Henrik told me that people in Iceland are often in multiple bands.

Örvar: That is what I have done for the past ten years. I have been in
twenty-five bands. I like playing with a lot of bands. Now I am only playing in
two bands. The other one is a dance technopop thing. I only sing some disco

AL: There was a documentary film called Screaming Masterpiece that came out
a few years ago. What did you think of that movie?

Örvar: Well. The people who did that movie told us that they were making a
film that would not go in the same direction that every film about Icelandic
music. They were really excited about it. They promised to us that it was
going to be a loose study of a thousand years of Icelandic music. It was
supposed to be about how bands interact. It ended up being a landscape tourist
video. I had to shut it off halfway through. People like it but it wasn’t for
the bands.

AL: What songs are you playing in the live show now?

Örvar: We play mostly songs from the new album, and the last album. We play
at least one song from every album.

AL: Do you bring gear to the United States?

Örvar: It’s really difficult. We used to tour with a lot of gear. We try to
bring less with us so we don’t have to pay taxes. They charge by weight. We
have t-shirts and CDs from here, and we buy some gear from here. It’s
cheaper buying amps and gear here than bringing things over.

AL: Do you have a lot of music stores in Iceland?

Örvar: None.

AL: So if you have a guitar amp in Iceland, you are a popular guy?

Örvar: We have so many amps loaned out in Iceland. We don’t even have a
space to store them all. Our amps are all over the place and being used.

AL: Are these new songs personal songs, or are they about stuff going on
right now?

Örvar: I wouldn’t connect these songs to any year. The feelings are a
starting point for the songs, and there is a lot of reflection. I often go back
to childhood in songs. I think people do that all the time. Sometimes you
smell something in the air, and you think about some moment you never thought
about before. Sometimes it doesn’t seem so important, and then that memory
comes back to you. That is very important for me. I live for stuff like that.

AL: It’s like a magical moment.

Örvar: Exactly. It’s a really nice feeling. We have always made music based
around that notion, but it’s also us just playing around.

AL: When you are writing a song, do you sit around with an acoustic guitar
and figure out some chords, or do you play around with sounds, and record
sonic ideas?

Örvar: We do both of those things. We do a hundred song ideas before it
gets cut down to these twenty songs. Some songs begin by playing the piano or
acoustic guitar. Or getting some beats out of an old Casio. It comes from
there. We like to record beats on a cassette tape recorder like the one you
have taping this interview. It has good compression.

AL: How do you decide who plays with you in the band?

Örvar: It’s pretty free and open. It’s a big group of friends.

AL: How many people have been in Múm?

Örvar: About twenty. Now we have these seven people, but it is always
changing. Some people can’t make it. We have had a few different drummers.

AL: Are there any bands that you have been excited by recently?

Örvar: I listen to some Icelandic bands. There are some teenage bands that
I like. The next generation of bands is really interesting. They are very
colorful and energized. It’s happy music. There is no style. There is no scene
that dominates. There are never two bands who do the same thing. That is
frown upon.

AL: Have you played a lot this year?

Örvar: We played a few UK festivals and we did a European tour. We have
been playing for about three months. We went to Israel and Japan. We are
playing until the end of the year.

AL: Is there anywhere in the world you like to go?

Örvar: Japan. We have played there ten times.

AL: Was that one of the first places you became popular?

Örvar: Yes. We play our biggest shows there. They get quiet and they are
very respectful. It’s very quiet. I have had art shows there too. I have shown
my drawings and paintings.

AL: They get loud at the art shows. You don’t have to be polite there.

Örvar: Yeah

Website: www.mum.is

Gallery is here. All photos taken by Angel Ceballos.

Playing at the EL REY on November 6th.
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