2011Candy - March Edition Two

Background: Dub Is A Weapon Make Psychedelic Studio Sounds Breathe Fire on Vaporized and on Tour, April 2011 - "It can't be done, man!" That's what Dave Hahn, mastermind behind Dub Is A Weapon, heard when he first floated the idea of a live dub group, as he and his mates listened to some prime 1960s King Tubby cuts in the band van. "Everyone seemed to think you could only do dub in the studio," Hahn recalls.

Hahn set out to prove them wrong, with skills learned live and on the road, and with help from a Jamaican beatnik percussionist, an old high school friend, and young upstarts from the Brooklyn scene. Together they've honed their live take on the genre's spaced-out grooves, a sound felt in full force on Vaporized (Harmonized Records; April 26, 2011) and on stage on their upcoming March/April tour.

Hahn had been kicking around the New York music scene for a while. He'd played ska with The Slackers and the Stubborn All-Stars, and Afrobeat with Antibalas. He worked as a dub engineer for the Easy Star All-Star's Dub Side of the Moon tour. But he wanted to make a dub record of his own: The music had the modal appeal of Coltrane, but was built for the dance floor. "Dub hooked me in," explains Hahn. "It really reminded me of modal jazz with its static harmony, which gives musicians lots of freedom to explore and encourages listeners to contemplate what musicians are thinking about. At the same time, dub and reggae are dance music, even if you have that same meditative quality."

This perfect mix of pensive and driving rolls through Dub Is A Weapon's music. Hahn finds dub inspiration everywhere: in the complex interlocking grooves he mastered with Antibalas, the intense snowfall on Hokkaido, or in a simple melody plunked out on a piano. He crafts a bass line, then builds from there. The vibe is trippy, but with a fire and edge that give Dub Is A Weapon's music real punch. This is music for serious dance floor moves, not spacey evenings on the couch.

Witness the funky polyrhythm of tracks like "Turbulence," with its dubbed-out, 3-against-4 beat and Ethiopian-inspired waves of brass. Or "Turmoil," with its dueling bass lines, shifting sections, and blissed-out solos. Hahn saw "Forwarding Home," featuring vocals by Rob Symeon as a round, swirling around rich modal melodies and guitar licks that flirt with both major and minor moments. Through it all, a powerful stream of dreamy, gritty effects flows in and out.

Figuring out how to make psychedelic studio sounds burn up the dance floor took years of experimentation, of trying things on the fly in illegal Brooklyn loft nightclubs or on tour as Lee "Scratch" Perry's backing band. Eventually, Hahn got it: He wasn't leading a band, he was riding the faders. "At first I really struggled with getting the band to create dub that felt as powerful as what I could create in the studio. I finally figured out I had to think of each musician as a fader on the mixing board, cuing them to drop out and come back in so I could replicate the dub mix I had in mind."

To make dub happen live, Hahn worked with a shifting group of friends, including bassist Dan Jeselsohn from the New York's Mephiskapheles to jam and record with him at his Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio. Soon a multigenerational core of strong musicians emerged. These included percussionist Larry McDonald, who had played on several crucial Bob Marley cuts in Jamaica and had since backed up American icons from Taj Mahal to Gil-Scott Heron to Bad Brains-moves that earned him the sometime nickname of "Original Beatnik." Ben Rogerson, equally at home on the bass or guitar, was a friend of Hahn's since high school when they played in the jazz band together. Drummer Madhu Siddappa and Hahn met at a mysterious rehearsal session with Lauryn Hill, who came in, tried some songs, and wandered out. Sax ingénue Maria Eisen joined the group straight out of college.

Vaporized captures the group's diverse energy in a way that mirrors their live shows. The band played and did the dub effects live, with next to no overdubs or post-take tweaking, at a studio run by a friend, the sound engineer for reggae band John Brown's Body. "It's like a jazz record from 1950s," notes Hahn. "We did a couple takes of each song, then picked the one that sounded best. We laid the stuff down and made it happen." - "It's like hearing us live," he continues, "when you can feel all the drama of dub as parts come in and out. That's what's exciting about our music: We never play things the same way twice."

2011Candy Says: OK I have a fondness for reggae and dub and this is just superb, not to heavy and some really fine musicians that produce classic examples of these genres. All reggae and dub instrumental fans should give them a listen asap.
Listen: Turbulence. Web: Official.

Background: San Francisco's Sandwitches have been plugging away at their craft for a couple magical years now, sprinkling their barbed, alluring electric folk briars across unsuspecting gardens in the Bay Area and beyond. Previous releases, such as the swampy ecstasy of How To Make Ambient Sadcake and last year's oceanic ouija board of an EP, Duck Duck Goose!, captured distinct sides of the trio. Their latest platter, Mrs. Jones' Cookies (out March 29th via Empty Cellar Records), is here now to unify their uniquely whimsical and creepy vision.

Mrs. Jones' Cookies pours Sadcake's plaintive bounce into Duck Duck’s celestial, mysterious drift, spiking the mix with a side they've previously only hinted at: a playfulness, a comfort. It's the sound of a band at ease with unease. Even when they're plumbing the most desperate depths, there's an unforced confidence in the lonely plucking of guitarists Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper.

The shared vocal duties are where these ladies truly and finally let loose. On "Lightfoot" and single "Summer Of Love," drummer Roxy Brodeur punches out lively, soul-flecked trots, as Grace and Heidi tickle the end of their high and low ranges, returning later to those highs and lows with extra force and bluster, shooting out the lights with aplomb. The Sandwitches live for moments like this, teasing the listener with deceptively simple backing, then letting fly with soaring vocal saltwater taffy that can be scary, cartoonish, or both. Then, of course, the girls backtrack on a dime and plant a mournful lullaby in your lap, as affecting and otherworldly as you'll ever hear and complete with a wandering flute.

Ultimately the confidence with which they mingle with these vague ideas of beauty, sorrow, humor, and freakishness adds up to what this band and this record have in spades: mystique. You may not have any idea as it's happening, but the Sandwitches are playing with you, not for you.  Engineered by Donny Newenhouse, mastered by Paul Oldham, and featuring guest appearances by San Francisco swingers Shayde Sartin, Dic Stusso, and James Finch Jr, Mrs. Jones' Cookies come in both CD and LP flavors. All LPs include a complimentary digital download.

"The ten songs on Mrs. Jones’ Cookies stand as a doorway leading to the House of God. The music of these three cascade in and out like active and passive expressions of the Divine Energy. Sometimes high, sometimes low, Sulfur and Salt, Good and Bad, Light and Darkness, that, when placed in the proper chamber of initiation graft into one androgynous creature that blazes forth eternal verities revealing temporal truths."  – Sonny Smith.

2011Candy Says: Feisty girl band music meets modern folk with wonderful harmonies and a freshness that I can only recommend, an easy pick for this edition.
Listen: Joe Says. Web: MySpace, Buy.

Background: Sarandon’s “Age Of Reason” tells the story of Big Trev, a man frustrated with his lot and determined to change his life. The album is narrated by The Shend (The Cravats, The Very Things) who plays the voice of the story’s hero.

Musically Sarandon have moved their sound forward – Produced once again by the inimitable Anthony Chapman (Collapsed Lung, Bis, Klaxxons, Ten Benson), the sound is a more mature take on the angular agit-pop of their previous outings. The cheese-wire treble of the guitars remains, the bass thuds and booms and the drums clatter at light speed, but the songs contained in “Sarandon’s Age Of Reason” are more carefully crafted and arranged. There are songs to make you shout and songs to make you sing. There are even songs to make you dance.

Sarandon are back with a vengeance. Back to rescue you all from the mundanely of modern la-la-love-you indie pop.

Other guests on the album include Robert Lloyd (The Nightingales) and Rhodri Marsden (Scritti Politti).

To celebrate the release of the album there will also be Sarandon's Age Of Reason Beer especially brewed by the Revolutions Brewing Co (www.revolutionsbrewing.co.uk/)  coming as cask & bottled beer with super limited edition beermats for the collectors out there.

The album is released in UK/Europe on Odd Box Records.  In the USA the album is coming out on the legendary Slumberland Records.

Live Shows:
26th March – Brixton Windmill,  London  (Album Launch Show)
27th March -  The Hop, Leeds

Sarandon are currently:
Crayola (Colgates, Future Sperm Brasil):  Guitar & Voice
Alan Brown (bIG fLAME, The Great Leap Forward):  Bass & Voice
Tom Greenhalgh (World Sanguine Report):  Drums & Voice

2011Candy Says: Tight guitar, sharp vocals, post punk style and a story to tell. It's different and Big Trev has always wanted to do something... Piglet is one of the songs you will have to check out the story yourself.
Listen: Piglet. Web: Official.

Background: and we quote from Indiecater records - We haven’t heard a collection of songs from Utah’s Adam and Darcie since the summer of 2009 but the wait has been worth it. This release is everything you’d expect from the duo and this time they’ve teamed up with a few of their buddies to record the Early In The Morning EP.

You might recognise Aotearoa from our World Cup compilation, Fast Forward, of last year and its appearance here feels just right given the recent tragedy in Christchurch. There are also a couple of covers amongst the 6 tracks which you can read more about below.

Not many artists can do soothing melodies quite like Adam & Darcie, not that they are laid back in their arrangements as each song here has a beautifully delicate and intricate detail.

2011Candy Says: Have to agree with the promo background on this one, really nice harmonies and singing over delicate music and well worth a listen (or two).
Listen: 2 Cities. Web: Indiecater Records.

Background: Little Tybee is something of a mini orchestra with its ever-evolving five to ten members all engaged in intricate musicianship. Their name comes from a tiny island off the coast of their native Georgia, where legend has it, an undetonated atomic bomb from the 1950s lies missing. They jokingly attribute the quirkiness of their debut album Building a Bomb to the long-term effects of eating radiation-drenched seafood, but it’s more likely they were just born that way” -Lavinia Jones Wright, ASCAP

One might think from their humble beginnings in the backwaters and basements of coastal Georgia to their headlining shows at some of Atlanta’s most well known independent venues that the members of Little Tybee were the harbingers of some secret formula for artistic success.  In reality, they are simply a group of friends who couldn’t stop making music together if they tried.

The core of each of their songs begins in the relentless and creative mind of vocalist/guitarist/pianist Brock Scott.  The songs mature through the dedicated musicianship of 8-string guitarist Josh Martin, violinist Nirvana Kelly, bassist Ryan Donald, and percussionist Pat Brooks. Since the release of their first LP last year, they have discovered that change is not only inevitable, but indeed good.

Little Tybee has been raking in the local love in their Atlanta/Savannah base as of late, but now it's time to show the rest of the country what the buzz is all about (pun very much intended). Kicking off their tour in just a few days in support of their upcoming album, Humorous To Bees, out April 5th, Little Tybee will be making their way through the deep South (Savannah, Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans) and into Austin for SXSW. Post SXSW, Little Tybee will make their way Northwest-bound hitting Ft Worth, Little Rock, Miami, Asheville, Marion, Philadelphia, and New York City before heading back home through Charlotte and finally back to Savannah and Atlanta for their CD release shows.

2011Candy Says: Yet another gem comes to us from Paper Garden Records, this time in the form of Little Tybee who make it all seem so simple as they mix a variety of styles and really cool musicianship around fine vocals. Sometimes up tempo, sometimes calm, always cool.

Listen: Nero. Web: Soundcloud.

Background: Cowboy and Indian, along with nine other bands, will play a free, all ages and open to the public show as part of Paper Boat Music and Harris Radio’s SXSW Day Party at Betsy’s Bar on Thursday, March 17 at 4pm. The line-up, consisting of Paperboat Music artists, friends and great bands spun on Harris Radio includes: Jeremiah Birnbaum's Electric Shoes, Wakey!Wakey!, Pearl and the Beard, Haley Bonar, Danny Malone, Buddy, Jenn Grant, Kacy Crowley, and The Sour Notes.

Cowboy and Indian, a rootsy trio, began when Jazz Mills (T-Bird and the Breaks) got together with Jesse Plemons to write their first song. The collaboration took off and before long the pair was drawing major buzz at SXSW. Daniel James (frontman of SF based "Leopold and His Fiction") soon joined the band to complete the trio.

“We came together out of nowhere and were immediately inspired by one another,” Mills said. The band put that inspiration to work by recording their first song, “Hurt My Pride”. With James in San Francisco and Mills and Plemons in Austin, the bulk of the song was written over the phone. Yet when it came time to record, the chemistry was obvious to all. “We tracked the song as soon as we arrived in San Francisco,” James said, “and did it from the ground up, recording in living rooms, bedrooms and closets.”

The band is currently working on their first full-length album, produced by James and due out this spring. They recently recorded their video "Hurt My Pride” (featured on taste-maker blog Baybridged.com) while on their cross-country tour, using playful footage captured in Chicago and on the banks of Lake Michigan. The band’s song “Trouble Tracks” was recently featured in an episode of the NBC hit series Parenthood.

2011Candy Says: You will clap your hands or tap your feet, it's inevitable. Is it roots or blues or just plain sing and jig along? Your call!
Listen: Ledbellies. Web: Facebook.

Background: Paul, Grace, Meaghan, Chris and Dan met in Belfast, Northern Ireland and became great friends who were musically and artistically happy in each other’s company. So they decided to start a band and sought the same harmony in their music. The whole thing went wonderfully well. They created an intricate blend of electronic and indie music and they called it Morning Claws.

They have recently recorded a single with former Oppenheimer member Rocky O’Reilly at  Start Together, Belfast. ‘Slack Magic’ is scheduled for release on 11th April 2011. The band will launch the single with an intimate show at Belfast’s oldest tavern, White’s and will then play shows across Ireland and the UK while recording their debut album.

April 28th, 2011  - White's Tavern, Belfast
May 14th, 2011 - Whelan's , Dublin.

2011Candy Says: I think mixing indie rock or pop with electro or dance still has along way to go. Morning Claws are definitely one to watch, lets hope they get the chance to explore some more.
Listen: Slack Magic. Web: Official.

Background: Life is a process, - this is something Renée Wahl seems to have realized instinctively from an early age. As an alternative country, Americana, Rockabilly artist, Renee Wahl has followed a non-traditional path to a career in music, and yet no one who has known her over the years would ever question her destination. Wahl enrolled in the musical theater program at Staten Island’s Wagner College only to find college life mundane. Finding her way to Philadelphia, Wahl became a regular on the local Indie music scene. After a stint in the US Air Force, where Wahl served first as a flight specialist and later as a physicist and educator, she returned to music. Eventually making her way to Nashville, Wahl’s affable personal style helped her network with some of the brightest lights on Music Row. This combined with her natural talents as a singer and a songwriter have Wahl poised on the verge of widespread name recognition.

Renée Wahl writes intelligent, literate songs from the heart. Working both on her own and with Roger Prescott (Trainwreck Ghost, The Texacala Jones Band), Wahl displays a talent for creating and inhabiting characters and moments in the fashion of Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt. Combine this with a voice that finds the soft parts of your soul and insinuates itself there and it’s easy to understand why Wahl has been compared to Maria McKee (Lone Justice). Wahl acknowledges being a bit of a tomboy, loving to take things apart to see how they work. She invariably practices the same art in her songwriting, dissecting people, places and moments and recreating them in song in ways that bring new light and understanding.

Wahl was inspired early on by such asymmetric songwriters as Neko Case and Chris Isaak. Writing from deep emotional waters, Wahl’s songs bespeak a stark intellect. Wahl paints portraits with words, bringing to life her own experiences and those of people she’s known or observed. Wahl’s eye and ear perceive with the refined understanding of an artist, and her musical media are many. Wahl is equally comfortable writing in the realms of rock, country, Americana, Motown and even 1950’s pop, and her songs are infectious. It’s clear that Renée Wahl enjoys making music, and whether on stage or in the studio, it’s impossible not to pick up on that energy and enthusiasm.

2011Candy Says: The featured track reminds me a little of Emmylou Harris circa Elite Hotel era, take that as a positive as Renee stamps her own mark on the music. Thats only one dimension of her, there is alot more and you would do well to check out the album Cumberland Moonshine if this song grabs you.
Listen: On Something New. Web: Official.

Background: Losing Colour is Stricken City’s final album. Recorded and produced in London by the band over the course of a year it includes the Skellington remix of “Pull The House Down” from the well-received mini-album Songs About People I Know. In the time since their last release Stricken City’s sound has become more honed and complex; a dance-pop beat here, a looselimbed  sway there, and awash with dreamy notes ranging from haunting saxophone solos to tropical island pipes and distant moaning drums.

March 8th sees the worldwide digital release via The Kora Records of Losing Colour. Several stunning reviews have already come in from the UK and the album has been featured on BBC Radio 1.

When Iain Pettifer (guitars) and Rebekah Raa (vocals/keys) first met in math class they were wearing exactly the same clothes and quickly coupled over a mutual appreciation of introverted, romantic guitar music; not to mention a palpable sense of detachment from the cool kids.  Rebekah spent her entire student loan on a guitar and 8 track recorder while Iain educated her with his extensive music collection including of a full set of Twisted Nerve 7”s and the complete works of Richard Hell.  Soon joined by Kit Godfrey (drums) and Mike Hyland (bass), our heroes holed themselves up for hours on end, making and breaking songs about life and loss, love and desperation, hatred and hunger.

Defined by their clattering guitars, the scatter gun pounding of the drums, bass lines bursting with hooks and the strikingly voiced melodies of otherworldly front woman Rebekah Raa; SC produce an indie-pop of hitherto untapped gems drawn from influences Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Young Marble Giants and The Slits as well as those lost sources of alternative melodica Life Without Buildings, The Sundays and Bow Wow Wow.

“Loose limbed guitar-pop magic… manna to the ears and a ctrl-alt-delete on the musical torpor that is always so close at hand. Stricken City have a floppy, just-short-of-fully-formed form that is beyond endearing and reaks of tiny record labels, the Festive Fifty and musty record shops down back alleys. Tak O Tak effortlessly unfolds as a gorgeous three minutes of lens-flare pop, made all the more palatable by Raa’s voice, which achieves the perfect balance of being exemplary without drowning in its own excellence. Restore your faith in indie with this fab, slightly ramshackle four-piece. More please.” The Times.

2011Candy Says: The featured song 'Some Say' has to be one of my favorites this time around. Indie still has a good future if bands of this calibre continue to deliver such fine music.
Listen: Some Say. Web: Official.

Background: Hidden Shoal Recordings have announced the release of the new single ‘Endlessly’ by neo-classical/minimal ambient artist Antonymes, taken from the forthcoming album The Licence To Interpret Dreams.

In its opening moments, ‘Endlessly’ patiently weaves traces of nature with unearthly, oscillating tones, creating a delicate, pensive atmosphere. Its apex comes halfway through as the gentle tones give way to a strident, emotive piano theme. The accompanying video is a continuation of Antonymes’ stunning explorations into the still and moving image. Hypnotic, minimal and expertly crafted, it is the perfect visual echo of the music.

The Licence To Interpret Dreams is an album of resonant beauty, it is as expansive as the wilds of North Wales from which it came, yet as delicate and intimate as a loved one’s breath upon your skin. Each song deploys a modest array of instruments and textures, giving them ample space to breathe and glow. The album is released on 21 April, distributed via n5Mailorder, and will be available for pre-order from 1 April.

2011Candy Says: I guess this could be the song that's 'different' in this round up of new music. Minimalist music demands attention to detail by its very nature (IMHO) and this works for me. Late night, lying in bed with the lights out, and listening to this is a dreamy way to end any day.
Listen: Endlessly. Web: Hidden Shoal.

Background: Known for her melancholic, melodic pop CALLmeKAT is the moniker of Danish singer, keyboardista and composer, Katrine Ottosen. With her vintage keyboards and a voice that sets her apart from the masses, CALLmeKAT creates music where live samples, haunting bass lines and a broken omnichord dance together under the twilight of the moon.

To announce CALLmeKAT’s sophomore performance at SXSW, Katrine has chosen to give away “Bug in A Web” for new and old fans alike. For the fans who have already fallen in love with CmK, this song will be another delicacy filled with the raw delivery and honest performance they have grown to expect from her. For new fans, this song about love lost, will draw you in- not just with Katrine’s hauntingly beautiful voice but also with the theme of struggle told through the story of the bug in a web. It’s a tale we all know too well.

It’s no wonder NPR has called CMK’s music"...Just mesmerizing" as solely via word-of-mouth, she is singly drawing crowds in clubs throughout Germany, Benelux, France, Switzerland and Austria, all before an official international album release.

In 2008 CALLmeKAT released I'm In A Polaroid Where Are You? (EP) and 'Fall Down' both of which made the media in her native Denmark fall head over heels, while word quickly trickled across to the U.S. with nods in Billboard, Spinner, and Interview Magazine.

Since her two 2008-releases, CALLmeKAT has toured as a solo headliner, opened for artists such as Au Revoir Simone, Okkervil River, Nouvelle Vague, The Dø and Sebastien Tellier and played numerous festivals including SXSW, NXNE, EuroSonic, Northside Festival (NY) and CMJ (NY). At the 2010 SXSW Festival, CALLmeKAT was invited to perform on NPR's All Things Considered followed by a pick on Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton's "Who We Liked List". In addition CMK's music has been featured alongside artists such as Bat For Lashes and The Brunettes on several compilations including Perfect As Cats - A Tribute To The Cure (Manimal Vinyl, 2008) and Stella Polaris - A Handful (Stella Polaris, 2009). Katrine has also appeared as a vocalist on Nouvelle Vague's 'Hollywood Mon Amour' album (2008).

Living in New York for most of 2010, Katrine collaborated with Joe Magistro (Prophet Omega, The Black Crowes) to finish her international debut When Owls Are Out mastered by Chris Athens of Sterling Sound, NYC. A hand numbered, limited first edition will be for sale exclusively at CMK shows and at select stores, in 2011, with a proper release date to be determined.

2011Candy Says: This is another artist that has gone on my 'one to watch out for' list. Gentle rhythms support dreamy vocals and all is well for the Beehive. Anyone who has been featured alongside Bat For Lashes gets my attention, this song deservedly so.
Listen: Bug In A Web. WebMySpace.