2011Candy - January Edition Two

Background: The elusive and talented man behind a long list of film scores and musical projects, Ben Lovett, is unveiling a new opus that spans the country and includes an all-star carnival of contributing musicians, film directors, kids, choirs, and painters.

The Lovett collective are releasing Highway Collection, available March 15th, 2011.

Through a nomadic and exploratory lifestyle, Ben Lovett has created an album of compelling variety, captured in motion, each song brilliantly crafted ‘from a different part of another life’, into a diverse philosophy of sound deep enough to sink a ship.

On Highway Collection you find a driving pulse and child-like innocence akin to The Shins, layered with zany and dreamy backing vocals a la The Flaming Lips, floating above the rolling drumbeats of a modernized Strawberry Fields-era Beatles, all led by a constantly evolving voice with an eloquent message of mature and heartfelt universality.

Lovett's eclectic cast of contributing musicians includes members of The Avett Brothers, The Mars Volta, and Cursive, to name a few, additions by Money Mark, Electric Owls, Ponderosa and appearances by talents involved in projects as diverse as the Eels and Spiritualized to Against Me, The Zac Brown Band and the Sonos Quartet.

Ben Lovett has composed original scores for 12 films, including Last Goodbye, starring Faye Dunaway; the Sundance critically acclaimed The Signal, in 2007; and was awarded Best Score in the 2009 Brooklyn International Film Festival for his work in The Last Lullaby.  You’ll also spot his name in the opening credits of MTV Films 2010 original movie, My Super Psycho Sweet Sixteen II, having composed the score to both the cult favorite and it’s predecessor in 2009.

Having also produced several acclaimed albums that include Hot Water Music vocalist Chris Wollard’s solo debut, Chris Wollard and The Ship Thieves, and the Epitaph-released Patent Pending (2006) from collaborative project Heavens with Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio, it’s no surprise that Ben Lovett’s own debut is a masterpiece of production.

2011Candy Says: I really love the featured song and it's just a taste of some great music, the mood builds from the opening beats as a masterful anthem unfolds.
Listen: The Fear. Web: Official.

Background: Forming in the summer of 2010, Vermont’s Chamberlin is ready to release their debut album, Bitter Blood on March 1st via Roll Call Records/EMI. Recorded in Burlington, VT Bitter Blood was produced by Scott Tournet of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, whom Chamberlin will be touring with from January 13th – February 12th.

Locked away in their secluded cabin in Goshen, VT (population 200), Chamberlin has written an album stained with the influence of whiskey-fueled bonfires, harsh winters, and the women that seem to run perpendicular to their lives. From the electric opening track, "Fools" – a stormy, scathing rebuke of two lovers – to the resolute, mostly a capella "Sixty Days," the nine songs on Bitter Blood are photographs, or perhaps photograms, of Chamberlin's world, with varying degrees of aperture.  Despite its title, Bitter Blood is not without pleasantries.  “Turn Around," the B3-laden third track, may even sound best as a drink-in-hand, late-night back porch sing-along. While first single, “Dust”, beautifully sums up their musical tenor with heavily percussive, electric guitar laden verses countered by the rim shots and acoustic drop out of the chorus.

2011Candy Says: Sometimes keeping the music stripped back and allowing great vocals and harmonies to stand out makes all the difference as is the case with this song, which is enough for us to want to hear a lot more from Chamberlin.
Listen: Dust. Web: Official.

Background: Shayfer James can be described pointedly as a myth in wolf's clothing. Referred to by his rapidly growing group of followers as The Villain King of New Jersey’s underground noirpop music scene, Mr. James is devilishly captivating and deliciously unusual. From the worn bottom of his ripped black boots, to the wrinkled top of his black pinstriped hat, Shayfer James is the portrait of vagabond royalty. A man of bewitching grace, grisly humor, profound story telling, and whiskey-flavored wit. The self defined “spawn of the elephant and the empress”, Mr. James attributes his musical and lyrical abilities to his early exposure to pipe smoke, demons, and jesters” and his oddly chivalrous nature to his life-long apprenticeship to L.V.S.” (his mother's father).

When Shayfer James approaches the piano, there is a certain power and mischievous charm that surrounds him. A bewitching sense of foreboding builds as his fingers touch the piano, and as he begins to sing, we are immersed in his darkly lyrical and evocative stories. His wry poetry is stitched seamlessly to peculiar arrangements that are simultaneously unsettling and familiar. Mr. James lures us into a devious world where the gods tear wings from angels and every man has a siren waiting to devour him.

Mr. James'’gift for songwriting is singular. The songs on his first full-length album, The Owl and The Elephant range from beautifully sad to frightening and furious, and his performances are tailored to match. His style is theatrical, but never contrived.

2011Candy Says: Shayfer James has a class and style that hits us from the opening notes, this is oh so professional and yet loose and devious enough to please the Beehive big time.
Listen: Siren Song. Web: Official.

Background: Once upon a time in the not so distant past, the band The District which comprises of six friends escaped New York City and descended upon Wellfleet, Massachusetts in the dead of a sleepy New England winter to chase ghosts and make a record. Ron Pope, Zach Berkman, Paul Hammer, Will Frish, Chris Kienel, and Mike Clifford wrote songs, drank whiskey, played blues in the middle of the night, and came away with a collection of songs that they decided to christen Wellfleet. The record is bold and evocative of varied moments from American musical history while finding a way to rest squarely in the here and now.

Wellfleet is built on the shoulders of stories about confusion, faith, love, grief, trust, and above all else, hope. It's a record that was brought about by a sense of brotherhood and togetherness. Accomplished on their own - the record marks the reunion of these 6 musicians and close friends. Band member Ron Pope has sold over 500,000 singles on iTunes in the past two years and performed on MTVs TRL. Paul Hammer is one half of the Brooklyn indie group, Savoir Adore, which has developed a strong cult following in both the US and Europe after releasing their debut album on Cantora Records. Zach Berkman was a castmember on MTVs Starmaker and his music has been featured on various prime time TV shows. Furthermore, the band includes the former guitarist of V2's The Rosewood Thieves, Will Frish and solo artists Mike Clifford and Chris Kienel.

2011Candy Says: OK so there is a story to go with this band as you can see from the above promo material we received. Bottom line is always the music which as the featured song demonstrates is spot on. It charms us and conjures up images of the band sat around singing to themselves and enjoying the vibes.
Listen: Open Arms and Broken Heart. Web: Official.

Background: Zoey Van Goey are Matt Brennan, Michael John McCarthy, Kim Moore and Adam Scott. Brennan, McCarthy and Moore, hailing from Canada, Ireland and England respectively, formed the initial trio in Glasgow in 2006, with Scott becoming a fullyfledged member in 2010.

In 2009, they self-released their debut album The Cage Was Unlocked All Along securing fans at radio such as 6 Music‟s Marc Riley & Gideon Coe and more recently some unlikely airplay from none other than Lou Reed on his NY Shuffle show. The release also stirred up a flurry of press adoration: “pop that comfortably resists pigeonholing” (The Big Issue), “our new favourite band” (MusicOMH), "irresistible pop thrills... definitely one of Scotland's finest at the moment" (Sunday Mail) to quote just a few.

Zoey Van Goey kicked off 2010 by impressing the ever-discerning Chemikal Underground faithful as the label’s newest signing at its 15th anniversary bash. As the year ended they found themselves headlining centre stage at the Belle and Sebastian-curated ‘Bowlie 2’ All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. And in between they tested out new material at a series of Difficult Second Album Syndrome research gigs in Glasgow.

The title of the resulting long-player, Propeller Versus Wings, has been inspired by Powell and Pressburger's magnificent A Matter of Life and Death, a film with which it shares a sense of romance and adventure. Perhaps emboldened by the addition of the multi-talented Scott (as well as the results of their research), this collection of songs sees Zoey Van Goey displaying a newfound musical confidence, borrowing freely from disparate styles whilst still sounding like themselves, in a fashion not dissimilar to heroes such as Yo La Tengo and The Magnetic Fields.

Thus Propeller Versus Wings swings from the slow burn of opener “Mountain on Fire‟ which overflows with a heart-wrenching gentle tenderness that many bands aspire to but very few pull off, to the evocative period jazz of “My Aviator”; from the Spektoresque piano balladry of “Escape Maps‟ to the bubblegum-punk revenge-of-the-nerds tale that comprises “Robot Tyrannosaur”.

2011Candy Says: Sometimes all you need is great pop music, the sort that delivers on the class of the band rather than just the skills of the studio engineer. Add to that an element of folk and as far as we are concerned you are home and dry. The featured track emphasises the pop aspect you need to grab a copy of the album to see just how good this band is (and they are great).
Listen: The Cake and Eating It. Web: MySpace.

Background: Moments before the ball dropped on 2011, New York’s Bodyface dropped their debut album Bias which is set to wind the clock back to the heyday of rock.

A statement against image obsessed scenesters and musical martyrdom, Bias delivers unapologetic punk rock with dance inducing hooks that bitch slap you out of your self indulgent sorrow.

Having formed three years ago, Jared Kerr (Vocals/ Guitar), Roger El Asmar (Drums) and Matt Lyons (Bass) have already toured Europe and in the process gained a reputation for their intensity and command onstage.

Their powerful presence has also extended to the airwaves with 104.3 FM’s ‘Out Of The Box’ regularly sending the bands song ‘Get Away’ into the stratosphere.

To hail the release of Bias, Bodyface will embark upon a West Coast tour in early March kicking off in Portland on the 3rd. In the meantime those lucky enough to live in the bands hometown New York can catch them at The UC Lounge Jan 29th.

2011Candy Says: It's rock music. Low hung guitars, plenty of attitude and the tightness of any class punk outfit. Sometimes keeping it simple and streetwise is all you need to dust off your personal air guitar and join in!
Listen: Sunrise. Web: Official.

Background: Hailing from the failed steel town of New Castle, Pennsylvania, When Summer’s Gone embodies the spirit of a populace convinced their best days are behind them but still can’t quite give up hope for the future. Dave Graziani handles vocals and guitar while drummer/bassist Chris Lepri provides the rhythmic background that keeps the duo on track. Graziani and Lepri have been friends since high school and have played in numerous bands together and apart over the years. After a decade of dealing with pretentious egos and the writing whims of others, Graziani and Lepri decided to go it alone together, using their close musical ties and shared influences as a springboard to writing no bullshit rock and roll.

When Summer’s Gone was formed in 2007 as a studio project, and debuted to the world on MySpace in 2008. In spite of the lack of live shows, When Summer’s Gone has developed a strong following. The band’s 2009 debut album, December, earned rave reviews, and was referred to as a solid, powerful blend of Alice In Chains, Incubus and Sevendust. Much of When Summer’s Gone’s reputation is based on the juxtaposition of style and intellect; the band blends a working class hard rock sensibility with a story-telling style handed down from Dylan to Springsteen to When Summer’s Gone. In the process, Graziani and Lepri manage to create music that speaks to the first generation who can’t rightfully expect to live better than their parents did. It is this no-nonsense, working-class approach to songwriting that sets When Summer’s Gone apart from the pack. This sound continues and with a bit more finesse on When Summer’s Gone’s newest EP, Matinee.

2011Candy Says: Music that builds as it plays, with the above background info giving more than enough of a hint about where this band are coming from (both literally and musically). Powerful and layered music with enough rock and energy to keep you interested.
Listen: Echoes. Web: Official.

Background: Balkans are back at it again. The Atlanta, GA band is releasing the 'Edita V' - 7" on February 22nd and a new self-titled album on May 10th (US, May 9th in the UK), both on Double Phantom Records (Roman Photos, Abby Gogo, Carnivores). A few days ago My Old Kentucky Blog premiered their new video for the b-side "Cave," shot on Super 8 by director Tony Summerlin at a fair in the band's hometown.

The band's forthcoming LP is chock full of the raw, heavy guitar fuzz Balkans have become known for. After releasing several seven inch singles through local labels, they're more than ready to unleash their debut record to the world.

2011Candy Says: We are definitely doing some guitar rock this time around. Balkans up the energy on this song and then duel guitars with some class. No nonsense music and ideal if you are in the mood for a severe rock blow out!
Listen: Edita V Website: Official.

Background: Hailing from the romantic landscapes of England’s Devon Hills (loads of hills in Devon, sound more romantic than Plymouth or Torquay though - beehive editor) , The R.G Morrison sound is as sentimental and nostalgic as the antiquated thatched-roof cottage surroundings.

Fronted by indie haven Drift Records and Drift Record Shop founder Rupert Graeme, this four piece began entrenched in the folk roots of Crosby, Stills and Nash, yet the beautifully composed ballads are sung in a humbled and understated whisper akin to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, while the perfectly harmonized lyrics give a solemn breath akin to Low.
Just as you wander into the contemplative songwriting, reverb-rich lines of electric guitar wash through whilst the traditional elements of folk are tweaked with analogue synthesizers, adding a raw and contemporary edge to the intimate sincerity of this ‘Cult Balladeer’ (Word Magazine).

Having toured across Europe in 2010, playing The Rolling Stone weekender, through Germany supporting John Hiatt, Spain and Switzerland, and fresh off headlining Spain’s Tanned Tin Festival this month, The R. G Morrison are ready to bring their intimate rendition of Lo-fi Americana to North America, with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy drummer Alex Neilson along for the ride to showcase at the 2011 SXSW Festival, Canadian Music Festival, with a quick visit to New York along the way.

With the stand-out success of previous releases ‘Learning About Loathing’ (Drift Records first release, 2007) and the latest record ‘Farewell My Lovely’ (Drift Records, in partnership with Loose Music, June, 2010) selling out all beautifully hand-detailed copies in their homeland UK, there’s no doubt that the understated, gritty and glowing talent The R.G. Morrison will be making more than a splash when they cross the Atlantic this March.

2011Candy Says: OK so I am bound to show some favour to a band who originate from the next county to where home is for me these days. Actually no! No favour this is just wonderful music from a superb band who could just as easily come from the over side of the Atlantic. I reckon you will hear more about these folk in the coming months.
Listen: Introducing Diamond Valley. Web: MySpace.

Background: When Italy's A Classic Education was in the States for last year's CMJ festival, they popped over to Philly for a Shaking Through session and shared insights into their creative processes along with some new music. Below is what Shaking Through had to say.

They have a name inspired by the school system in Bologna Italy, but we assure you A Classic Education is far more exciting than their namesake. Singer/guitarist Jonathan Clancy and his fearless indie pop outfit bravely came all the way to the Philadelphia to record a session for Shaking Through.

It's not often that music coming from Italy has the ability to take root in the U.S. "We always joke about the fact that being a band from Italy is like starting at a minus 10 points. You have to do that much extra to get to 'zero' to be on pace with everyone else," says Clancy. A Classic Education's humble yet determined attitude make them a perfect addition to Shaking Through, a series created to help establish sustainable careers in music. After a quick listen, you'll know what we're talking about.

The band was selected for Shaking Through by guest Curator Elise Oleksiak of the smart Brooklyn-based music BLOG "Pixelhorse." "I love pop music. I love music that is well written, well composed, well executed..." says Oleksiak. "People need to know their music. People need to hear them and see them!..."

The group recorded "Night Owl", a dreamy love story between a boy and an owl, deftly capturing the band's elegant and soaring pop sound. It's a band favorite for its unconventional song structure: three parts that fail to repeat, all jammed into three minutes. Even without a verse or chorus to be heard, "Night Owl" still holds true to A Classic Education's irresistibly engaging pop sensibility. "I thought this tune would work nice in a studio with a big room sound," said frontman Jonathan Clancy.

Formed in 2007 by Canadian singer and guitarist Jonathan Clancy and his Italian mates Luca Mazzieri and Paul Pieretto, the band has grown to a six piece with the addition of Giulia Mazza, Federico Oppi and Stefano Roveda. They've released recordings on small indie labels Bailiwick, Holiday Records, and recently on California's Lefse Records. Their latest EP, "Hey There Stranger," has Spin Magazine, Gorrilla Vs. Bear, FADER, and Brooklyn Vegan all singing the praises of A Classic Education.

According to the band, it's far more difficult to balance musical aspirations and work in Italy. The members of A Classic Education have a banker, radio manager, photographer, computer programmer and psychologist among their ranks, meaning they had to book vacation time to fly over to the states. In one marathon trip, they recorded their full length in Brooklyn with Jarvis Tavenerie of the band Woods, they played CMJ and drove to Philadelphia to record "Night Owl" at Miner Street.

When they come back in March for a US tour and an appearance at SXSW, they'll certainly have to tie up lose ends with work. Regardless, they're excited to be back in the U.S. playing music. "It'll mean giving up secure jobs and lives! But we like that idea."

2011Candy Says: If you cant be bothered to read through the above background on this band then just listen to the featured song. Then see if you don't read up on them. 'I Lost Time' is just one great song in every aspect - loving them.
Listen: I Lost Time. Web: Official.

Background: Seattle-based sci-fi pop band Hotels, one of KEXP’s ‘top discoveries’ of recent years, are back with a new single. 'The Bat Watusi' is a pace-quickening taster of the delights in store on Hotels’ new album, On The Casino Floor. The noir-punk track is Hotels at their most lithe and propulsive, with an insistent rhythm section, sci-fi synths and unashamedly rocking guitars. The song repeatedly strips itself back to a muscular yet dreamy core, only to build into a tight celestial rock frenzy.

On The Casino Floor sees Hotels take their addictive and singular meld of post-punk, shoegaze rock and cinematic pop and launch it into outer space. The band has managed to leap headlong beyond the consummate songcraft of acclaimed sophomore album Where Hearts Go Broke into the creation of a wildly inventive and immersive song-suite. The concept album’s seven masterful cuts tell the story of a secret agent, his former mentor and current arch-nemesis, and a nefarious prince’s plan to destroy Earth during the grand opening of the universe’s only outer space casino complex...

“Hotels fuse elements of new wave, goth, and surf so seamlessly that genre tags will be the last thing on your mind when you hear their bittersweet, atmospheric pop songs” – Time Out New York

“With angular guitars, sober vocals, omnipresent synths, and a taste for the cinematic, Hotels come off like the ultimate ’80s soundtrack band, something akin to a cross between the dreamy haze of M83 and the angst garage rock of The Strokes” – PopMatters

2011Candy Says: As those of you that read the detail on Beehive Candy will know, I have tremendous respect for Seattle's KEXP. So as 'a top discovery' of the station in recent years these guys slapped the personal radar good and proper. I am still not sure what sc-fi pop is but I have been reminded of why I respect KEXP. Hotels are exceptional and lets not forget this is about them and not the radio station. Superb band!

Listen: The Bat Watusi. Web: Official.

Background: Columbus based Max Sollisch is Dolfish and he is releasing his debut EP 'Your Love Is Bummin' Me Out' on Indiecater this Valentine's day. As well as being available digitally the EP will also be released on cassette tape.

'Your Love Is Bummin' Me Out' contains 5 tracks and is all over around the eight minute mark. We think you'll be completely smitten by Dolfish at that stage though because pithy bittersweet tales rarely sound this good. Your Love Is Bummin’ Me Out is Indiecater’s third physical release and because everyone knows CD’s are dead we decided to release it on cassette as well as our default digital delivery. Everyone who buys the cassette (€8 which includes worldwide postage) will also get a digital copy for when they ditch their walkman. For those of you who prefer to shop from us over the iTunes of this world you will be rewarded with the full artwork and lyrics in your digital bundle!  

2011Candy Says: Oh just go and buy this! We are in a state of being blown away and don't want to spoil the moment by writing anything else whilst listening.
Listen: Your Love Is Bummin' Me Out. Web: MySpace.

Background: Peter and Jo went to high school together outside of Boston, trading home recordings and exploring rooftops. After graduation 2007, they finally got together in an attic to write and record a huge collection of very strange pop songs on a cassette four-track. Then they went off to colleges on opposite coasts, and so much for the band, until, a year later, Peter dropped out of college and moved back to Boston.

The Great Valley recorded their reunion tape Sophia’s Skull/White Gloves in another attic, eating only pumpkin and coconut products, sleeping during the day, and recording through the night. Jo went back to nearby Bard College and Peter moved into the Spookcat House in Jamaica Plain with the members of Prince Rama and Quilt. The Great Valley started playing through the Boston house show circuit and quickly earned the tag line “Halloween Every Night” and a reputation as the spookiest, most mysterious pretend-pop band on the block. They founded Spooky Town Records in 2009 to release their split LP with Prince Rama Divine/Journey, and a bunch of material from other weird pop groups around Boston.

Over the next year, The Great Valley toured up and down the east coast and molded all of their spookiness and their inverted 60s pop influence into the five songs on the Holiday, Holinight EP. The EP was recorded by the band on a bunch of analog equipment from the 80s (SPKY TWN Studios) and released as a free download in the summer of 2010. Jo perfected his drumming-while-keyboard-playing trick and Peter plugged his guitar into an octave harmonizer so that, despite being a duo, the band could reproduce the lush arrangements of their recordings live.

The Great Valley found a new home for SPKY TWN Studios in an abandoned house in Tivoli, New York, where they wrote and recorded their newest full-length In the Silver Dream. The album spins the spooky duo in a new carnivalesque direction with synthesizers and pitch-bent guitars and broken, enigmatic double crooning. Released on pink vinyl in January 2011 by the band’s own SPKY TWN RECORDS. The Great Valley is currently working on a hot new surprise at home in Tivoli. They both plan on graduating from college in a few months.

2011Candy Says: Interesting final track for this round up. The Great Valley seem to have loads going on within this song, that it took a second listen to take it all in. As lovers of music that takes us in an alternative direction and delights us at the same time, consider it job done in this case. (we reckon you will give it another listen to).
Listen: Tall Smoke. Web: Spooky Town.