2011Candy - May Edition One

Background: Golden Glow is the charming solo project of Manchester singer/songwriter Pierre Hall. Son of a British father from Trinidad and Tobago, and a Mauritian mother, Pierre's early years were spent near Liverpool before moving to Manchester at 18 for university. Although he had already dabbled in poetry and guitar, it was in Manchester that music became the central focus of his life. Not long after befriending the creative promotion team Akoustik Anarkhy, Pierre began his own weekly club night Friends Of Mine and threw a series of raucous house parties that lead UK Nightlife guide City Life to say "if Manchester music really is going though a golden age of partying and cool DIY indie club nights, then Pierre Hall is unquestionably the city's chief party organiser." It was during this same fertile period that he fronted the short-lived but much-loved Brit-Pop band Lead Balloons.

In October 2009, just as Lead Balloons were ending their time together, Pierre was in a serious automobile accident that left him unable to walk for nearly six months. Although the recovery was tough, and this was a dark time in his life, it also changed the way Pierre approached his art. Naming his new project Golden Glow as a tribute to the band Felt and their track "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow" he began to write songs that captured what he was living through. Starting simply, and sticking to the DIY aesthetics that have marked Manchester bands since the first days of punk, songs were written and recorded on a four-track with minimal equipment and no grand plan for where things might end up. While the recordings may have originally been thought of as demos, it quickly became clear that there was an intimacy and rawness to the songs that were as much a function of the situation they were being recorded in as they were of Pierre's writing and performance. Being home-ridden and unable to live his active life led to beautiful songs that mixed hope and sorrow. Not quite knowing how to work the equipment in front of him led to a sometimes distorted, yet always captivating blend of Brit-Pop and shoegaze that would not exist under any other circumstance.

By late 2010, Pierre Hall had completed the set of songs that were to make up the Golden Glow debut, Tender Is The Night. He had also started to apply the same lo-fi aesthetic to a series of music videos. Using super-8 shots of his life, and learning to edit as he created, the videos and the music matched perfectly. The string of positive press has been constant since “Adore Me” was given the seal of approval from The Drums, and Pierre has put together what will be the Golden Glow live band. He toyed with the idea of re-recording the songs in a cleaner studio. Then he thought of releasing the songs in their original form but limiting the outlet and calling them demos, but everyone who heard the tracks gave the same advice. Don’t ruin the magic captured on that four-track. Don’t clean-up the charm. Release the music as it is.

Golden Glow’s debut album, Tender Is The Night will be released in all of its distorted beauty by Mush Records with help from the label Bleeding Gold, who will handle a limited run of vinyl. The eleven-song album kicks of with “Adore Me” – a perfect piece of music that at once captures three generations of Brit-pop, from Joy Division to The Libertines. Whether on the album’s more pop-based tracks (“Locked Inside” “Books” “Streetlighter”) or the more hazy meditations (“The Blizzard” “On My Own”), Pierre Hall proves himself a master at capturing meaning and feeling in a four bar verse. The recordings are raw. The performances are perfect in their obvious imperfections. Tender Is The Night is the record to introduce Golden Glow to the world.

2011Candy Says: Raw energy, excellent guitar and vocals and no pretense just good honest music.
Listen: Adore Me. Web: MySpace.

Background: When the late British musical icon John Martyn sat down at the keys, veteran music producer and good friend Jim Tullio sighed. Martyn, an innovative guitarist and singer, had just finished a suite for the London National Ballet Company, which Tullio was mixing, but insisted he needed to lay down a keyboard part. Tullio prepared for hours of noodling, but Martyn made one pass and left. As Tullio incorporated the track into the mix, he was blown away.

“It worked perfectly,” Tullio recalls. “I learned a lesson then, to trust his instincts. John was a genius. He made music more naturally than anyone I’ve ever met, as effortlessly as the way you and I speak.”

Tullio is not alone in his assessment. Martyn, a cult-status musician’s musician, was admired by everyone from Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page to Lee “Scratch” Perry and Bob Marley. Martyn’s groundbreaking guitar technique, tape delay, and recording approaches inspired Brian Eno’s ambient sound and The Edge’s shimmering, delay-drenched strings. He was lionized by Bristol trip-hoppers and chill-out DJs.

After Martyn’s passing in early 2009, Tullio and co-producer Gary Pollitt put Martyn’s last musical testament in order, transforming rough-edged vocals, expansive takes, and complex guitar work into Heaven and Earth (Hole in the Rain; May 3, 2011). Martyn’s voice and striking songs reveal the depth and perception of a musical elder, with his signature grit and sprawling panache.

Several close friends and long-time musical collaborators—including Phil Collins—contributed elements to Heaven and Earth. But the heart of the album—felt on tracks like “Gambler” and “Bad Company”—beats in Martyn’s intuitive, idiosyncratic sense of the blues, filtered through his earthy feel for roots- and jazz-inspired songwriting and his raw voice.

Sounds like: the gritty yet sparkling last word from a neglected music legend who transformed rock, reggae, club music, and folk. 

2011Candy Says: This is a must for any fan of the late John Martyn's music, the featured track is just one dimension of this final collection of songs.
Listen: Stand Amazed. Web: Official.

Background: Synchronized Swimmers, the sophomore album from Icelandic pop siren Hafdís Huld was released not so long ago on OK! Good Records. The new album contains thirteen tracks and is the follow up to her internationally successful debut album Dirty Paper Cup, released in 2006. Her quirky personality perfectly accents the album’s witty lyrics that are filled with imagination and charm.  “Hafdís Huld is proof that Iceland’s waters breed elfin pop stars who are musically original and deliciously bonkers”  - The Sunday Times 

Hafdís Huld has been in the limelight for years. At 15 she was touring with the iconic band GusGus and also found success as an actress in her native Iceland. Since then, she has become a fixture on the festival scene performing at a variety of venues including The Glastonbury Festival and South by Southwest. Huld’s uncanny ability to take risks has garnered her reputation as a multi-faceted
performer. She was a vocalist on Tricky’s 2008 album, Knowle West Boy and received international acclaim when she was featured performing an acapella version of Sam Brown’s Stop for a European Mercedes-Benz Ad Campaign. 

Synchronized Swimmers marvelously blends commercial folk-pop with offbeat and youthful melodies. The album contains two Icelandic number one hits; Kongola, which means spider in Icelandic, (an ode to urban climber Alain Robert) and the title track Synchronized Swimmers. Often compared to the likes of Björk and Cery Mathews, Huld has proven time and again she is in a league of her own. “An exquisite and supremely original female singer, Hafdís Huld is the kind of heroine music really needs” - Play Music

2011Candy Says: OK so the album Synchronized Singers has been out for a while but it deserves a mention because I say so! Nothing like a bit of of Icelandic pop to while away the hours.
Listen: Action Man. Web: Official.

Background: Sacramento’s Ganglians return after a relatively quiet two years since their dual album dropping in 2009.  The aptly titled Still Living hits the streets August 23rd stateside via Lefse, and August 29th throughout Europe via Souterrain Transmissions. Ringing in at just under an hour, the double LP stays true to their psychedelic roots established on their self-title debut and immediate follow-up Monster Head Room (both via Woodsist), they step it up a notch both stylistically and sonically by enlisting the help of producer Robby Moncrieff (who also played a crucial role in the shaping of The Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca).

2011Candy Says: We first featured Ganglians back in May 2010 and a year on they have reminded us just why. Love the guitar work on this track, it reminds me of The Shadows.
Listen: Jungle. Web: MySpace.

Background: A couple of weeks ago on Tuesday, May 3rd,  No Future: A Tribute To The Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Damned  was released by UK label Released Emotions, and distributed in the US by E1.

This is tribute to the three bands that pioneered the punk revolution in the late seventies,  and are still influencing new bands to this day, includes cover versions provided by a  varied selection of established UK indie and alternative acts from the last twenty years.

There are 18 tracks on the album, with 6 tracks each dedicated to the Pistols, the Clash and the Damned. All the bands were tasked with providing covers of a high standard. Expectations were high, and yet the artists managed to create something new & radically different.

The bands featured are The Sex Pistols Experience (UK’s top tribute to the band), Leatherface, Terry Edwards (Serious Drinking, Higsons, Tindersticks), Steve Drewett (Newtown Neurotics), Attila the Stockbroker, The Blaggers ITA, Bleach, Anhrefn, The Price, Red Letter Day, The Bolsheviks, Identity, Exit Condition, Robb Johnson and The Urchin String Quartet!

In light of the recent passing of legendary X-Ray Spex singer, Poly Styrene, this is a timely release, and shows that the urgent fire of the original punk movement burns as brightly as ever.

2011Candy Says: So punk in the UK was along time ago now, this album recaptures the urgency of it all, but I think I'll leave the bondage trousers in the wardrobe...
Listen: Leatherface - Melody Lee.

Background: At a time when most kids his age are obsessed with the music video game Guitar Hero, 16 year old singer/songwriter Clay Melton is getting ready to prove his real world Guitar Hero status. As leader of the Clay Melton Band, he’s already impressed his live audiences with his Blues-infused Rock style. At just 11 years old, Clay found his calling in life--playing guitar--after listening to Jimi Hendrix’s blistering version of “All Along The Watchtower.” Clay knew what he was meant to do and got to work straight away. He took a one-week guitar course at the local community college and spent all of his spare time in his room just playing. The hours a day listening and learning have paid off as he prepares to open for legendary musician Edgar Winter.

The Clay Melton Band does some impressive covers of a few Jimi tunes including “Voodoo Chile,” “Little Wing” and of course, the song that started it all, “All Along The Watchtower,” but Clay is determined to become a lot more than just a top notch cover artist. He’s determined to make a name for himself with his original songs—following in the footsteps of one of his idols, Stevie Ray Vaughan. He’s recruited two strong players, Wes Arvin on Bass and Noah Coffelt on drums to help him make this dream a reality.

Clay Melton was born in 1994 in Lake Charles, LA, but by the age of 2 was calling Texas home. He credits his father Jack with exposing him to all kinds of great music from the Blues pioneers Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy to modern performers like John Mayer and Dave Matthews. When asked what his long term musical goals are, Clay simply says, “I want to bring The Blues Back.” And if he wasn’t so polite and soft spoken about it, you might mistake him for an arrogant child prodigy who believes he’s already got the world all figured out. Instead, what you find is a very down to earth young man who isn’t afraid to work extremely hard at his craft and make the most of the opportunities he’s been given.

What’s next for someone who is already competing against adults in The International Blues Challenge and who’s playing more live dates than many musicians twice his age? Clay says, “Our mission is to be the best live band in the world. We don’t need flashy costumes and we don’t need crazy dance moves—for us, it’s all about the music.”

2011Candy Says: So we have a few guitar led songs in this round up and Clay Melton is up there with the best of them. You might even want to dust off the air guitar and join in!
Listen: Straight To My Grave. Web: Official.

Checkout: I and I, and this track "Should Have Been a Beekeeper" it's from his new album The Alpha Future out now on Alchemist Records.

Listen: Should Have Been a Beekeeper.
2011Candy Says: Dreamy atmospheric and then the rhythm kicks us into another curious direction. 

Background: New Orleans, Louisiana band MyNameIsJohnMichael just premiered their newest single, ‘Orphan’ via Consequence of Sound  and wrapped up the final touches on their sophomore record produced by Raymond Richards (producer of Local Natives “Gorilla Manor”). They will be kicking off an east coast tour with appearances at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival alongside Okkervil River, Gene Ween (Ween), Brett Dennen, The Strokes, and New Orleans royalty Trombone Shorty, amongst many others. Following their hometown Jazzfest shows, the band will be hitting major markets in the South and up the east coast.

The New Orleans influence is clear in the band’s funky approach to crafty singer-songwriter pieces. MyNameIsJohnMichael is a 6 piece indie rock band born and raised in New Orleans, which began as a solo project in 2008 when lead singer John Michael Rouchell accepted a friendly challenge to write, record, and release 52 songs in one year. Only 4 months into the project, a more realized MyNameIsJohnMichael was born, and in March of 2009 the group put out their self-released debut album, "The People That Come and Go." The tracks on the album came from the 52 songs of 2008 and were voted on and selected by fans.

Full of vibrant energy and explosive performance, MyNameIsJohnMichael's live shows go unrivaled, featuring horns, trashcans and chains.  The group has an impressive touring resume, playing national festivals like Bonnaroo, New Orleans Heritage & Jazz Festival, Voodoo Fest, Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, B.O.M.B. Fest, French Quarter Fest, Lollapalooza, and CMJ (to name a few.) They have opened for the likes of Phoenix and Surfer Blood, and Monsters of Folk, to great reviews from publications like SPIN and The Metro.

John Michael Rouchell’s music has been featured in an ad for Coach, and the singer was recently featured in a Black Cab Session when the well-respected Internet taste maker made its way from the UK to the States to discover new up and coming acts  A guitar prodigy from an early age, Rouchell made his major ‘public performance’ debut at the  age of 14, when he found himself pulled on stage at a New Orleans Parliament Funkadelic show. He’s only gotten better since that auspicious debut, and Rouchell’s guitar work is a key feature of the band’s sound.
SPIN Magazine featured MyNameIsJohnMichael as one of the Top 25 Bands to See at CMJ 2009, calling the sound, "straight forward, plaintive acoustic balladry infused with a bit of brassy Big Easy bravado. " The review was followed quickly by The Metro's declaration that MyNameIsJohnMichael was one of the 5 top bands you should have seen at CMJ, calling the band "a Bayou-flavored version of the Arcade Fire's anthemic indie pop, [this] six-piece band sing dead-on harmonies and rock out ferociously when the occasion calls for it."

2011Candy Says: There is definitely a "New Orleans sound" that somehow can weave it's way across differing genres. Case in point this song, which has a little bit of a Dr John vibe at times but I mean that in a most positive way, oh just play it...
Listen: Orphan. Web: Official.

Background: Austyn Sullivan is a 20 year old self-titled ambient project currently residing in Baltimore, Maryland, originally from Mandeville, Louisiana. Sullivan experiments with murmured vocals beneath the surface accompanied by repetitious melodies which creates a wave of thought and emotion. Sullivan’s music makes for a perfect late night/pre-dawn listening. Over the past year Sullivan has been prolifically creating music in all mediums from atmospheric piano to ambient full-band projects. Sullivan is currently working on a full length album titled Recollections Become Phantoms. It’s a highly textured album of concepts and ethereal sounds. Along side of his self-titled project, Sullivan occasionally works under the stage name Portraits of American Firing Squads and is currently playing drums for Dead Mellotron.

2011Candy Says: This is perfect unwind music, or as suggested above pre-dawn music. As far as my mp3 player goes I can play it anytime and just chill for a few minutes.
Listen: A Waltz To Wonder. Web: MySpace.

Checkout: The Whatevers hail from Leeds, England. Mike writes the songs and Kate sings them. Al plays bass guitar. The EP, "City Lights Fade," is a picture-perfect example of lo-fi boy/girl bedroom pop. Jangling guitars, charming vocals and irreverent lyrics pervade these five songs. The band channels Eux Autres for their beautiful cover of “Anne Boleyn.” The Whatevers will also be playing on the trains at this year's Indietracks Festival.

Listen: City Lights Fade.
2011Candy Says: What can I add, just charming uplifting and well worthy of a listen, music can be kept simple and work oh so well.

Background: Alexander Turnquist is a guitarist/composer who uses his 12 string acoustic finger-style approach in creating very dramatic and emotionally engaging music. Turnquist started playing at a young age with an experimental approach from the onset, and has always held to the use of the acoustic guitar as the driving force and foundation in his compositions. In addition to his guitar playing he cleverly writes into his compositions accompaniment in the form of mallet percussion instruments, strings, and piano. Turnquist's first full length Faint at the Loudest Hour was released in 2007 on VHF Records, his first fully realized album of solo pieces and analogue electronic experimentation's

Alexander Turnquist has toured extensively throughout the United States and in Europe. Now at the age of 23 he is set to release his third full length solo album on VHF Records entitled Hallway of Mirrors out on May 17th, 2011. Hallway of Mirrors is a continuation of the territory he entered into on As the Twilight Crane Dreams in Color, although on Hallway of Mirrors the compositions are driven with a very concise energy, heavily patterned and completely acoustic. Recorded in a large room with natural reverb, the album is an interplay of harmonic resonance and instrument sustain.

2011Candy Says: I love this piece of music, simple as that!
Listen: Spherical Aberratio. Web: Official.

Checkout: Yes we repeat check out Little Owl's "Black on White" Their EP "Stories and Observations of Argus Madur" (out now) was produced by Shane McKillopp with guidance from Chris Lynch, both from the band Gardens & Villa (Secretly Canadian).

2011Candy Says: I'm trying to pin down who this reminds me of and failing, still its a fine little song that leaves me wanting more.
Listen: Black On White.