Weekend Wonders: Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Mat Hunsley - Cassie and Maggie MacDonald - The Proper Ornaments - Deep Sea Diver - The Lovely Days

Joan As Police Woman & Benjamin Lazar Davis - Satellite.

Background promo - Brooklyn based Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis today release Let It Be You, via Reveal Records/BFD*/RED Distribution. The band will celebrate the album's release at Good Room in Greenpoint on 10/26. Also on the bill is another of Ben's projects, Cuddle Magic.

Initially announced under the moniker ‘2001’ the duo released a pair of partner videos directed by Benjamin Gregory featuring Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia); one for the song “Overloaded” with Ben on lead vocals and “Broke Me In Two” featuring Joan on lead.

A deeply soulful artist, Joan As Police Woman (Joan Wasser) has famously worked with Antony (Anohni), Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed and David Sylvian. Benjamin is a talented multi-instrumentalist who currently performs with his band Cuddle Magic, Okkervil River, and Bridget Kearney (Lake Street Dive). Joan and Ben met each other after separate trips to Africa; Ethiopia for Joan as part of Damon Albarn’s Africa Express,  and West Africa for Lazar to study traditional music. They initially bonded over Central African Republic Pygmy musical patterns and wrote this album together loosely inspired by this music. The band recently performed at the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival.

The band will be touring Europe in November and December. Performing with a full band, Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis will showcase songs from the new album and re-imagine recordings from the four previous Joan As Police Woman albums (Real Life, To Survive, The Deep Field, The Classic)
. More here.

This is our second track feature (following on from 'Magic Lamp' three weeks ago), from todays album release, this time we have the song 'Satellite'. It's another highly original and unique piece, where the duo again focus on creating and performing their eclectic music, it's different however quite accessible.


Mat Hunsley - Fires.

Background - ‘Fires’ is the lead single from Mat Hunsley’s debut EP, which is available to pre-order from iTunes here.

Produced by Mick Ross (Ajimal, Tessera Skies, The Lake Poets) and mastered by Tom Woodward (The Cribs, Fidlar, Frankie & The Heartstrings), the ‘To Being Free’ EP is released on 18th November. It represents another personal step forward for Mat, who has had to overcome numerous frustrations – not least his own self-doubt – just to get to this stage.

Those experiences have fed into Hunsley’s unique brand of storytelling, which is laid bare on ‘Fires’, his most personal song yet. Nods to contemporaries including Bon Iver, Nathaniel Rateliff and James Vincent Mcmorrow are evident in the track and provide the perfect backdrop to his poignant lyricism and ethereal vocals.

Just last month the Newcastle-based artist premiered his debut song ‘Dropping’, which has led to a who’s who of music industry taste makers talking about Mat.

‘Fires’ is sure to propel him to even greater heights, culminating in the release of his debut EP, a body of work that perfectly represents what this outstanding young talent is all about. A passionate and intelligent documentation of the world as it revolves around him, it’s the first chapter in a colourful songbook that Mat appears to be compiling as he attempts to move past previous insecurities and reconnect with the human being inside worn and weathered 21st century skin.

'Fires' demonstrates just what a distinct and melodic voice Mat Hunsley has. Add to that a thoughtful and well structured song, and for me, your onto a winner.


Cassie and Maggie MacDonald - F# Minor Set.

Background - Inventive Young Canadian Duo Cassie and Maggie MacDonald Bend the Beloved Folk Symbol in New Directions on The Willow Collection

Back in the day, people would lay willow wands beneath their pillow when they struggled to cope with strong feelings. “They would dream through it in the night and be better in the morning,” explains Maggie MacDonald. “That’s why it’s associated with grief.”

The willow’s powerfully emotional, innately flexible role as folk symbol inspired Nova Scotia-born duo Cassie and Maggie MacDonald’s latest, most exploratory album yet, The Willow Collection (release: November 4, 2016). The young player’s piano, guitar, fiddle, and flying footwork reveal the many facets of tying together songs that feature the tree. The MacDonalds have branched out from their deep Celtic roots into new, related regions, ranging from Appalachian and Ozark ballads to country classics.

We really wanted to explore the different genres that came from the same origins,” Cassie notes. “The Scottish people in Appalachia, for example. We wanted to trace those roots and really get a feel for how they took on a life of their own here in North America.” Website here.

The Willow Collection Tour:

11/7 Calais, ME: Calais Celtic Concert Series, Wash. Co. Community College
11/9: Mexico, ME: Green Church ;
11/10: Farmington, ME: North Church Concerts
11/11: Harvard, MA: Harvard Public Library
11/13: Harrisburg, PA: Susquehana Folk Song Society, Appalachian Brewery Company
11/17: New York, NY: Silvana
11/18: Oxford, NY: Six on the Square
11/19: Oswego, NY: Oswego Music Hall, McCrobie Building
11/20: Woods Hole, MA: Woods Hole Folk Society, Woods Hole Community Hall
11/22: Portland, ME: One Longfellow Square  

Unfortunately at present there is nothing to share from 'The Willow Collection', however as it's such a fine album, I just wanted to give it a mention along with the duo's forthcoming tour dates. Hopefully 'F# Minor Set' will raise some interest, if this please your ears then check out the soon to be released album.


The Proper Ornaments - Memories.

Background - The Proper Ornaments – the project of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) and Max Oscarnold (Toy) – announce the release of their second album. Foxhole will be released through Slumberland Records (US) and Tough Love Records (EU) on January 20, 2017.

James and Max started out writing Foxhole, the follow up to the bands 2014 released debut album ‘Wooden Head’, in January 2015. On ‘Foxhole’ they’ve sliced away a whole stratum of their sound, removing some distortion and lowering the frequency of plectrum strokes to allow more nuanced, piano-led ideas to emerge. The title isn’t a reference to Television’s jaunty proto-punk record but seems to be more of a dark, protective interior, a head space sketched out on ‘Jeremy’s Song’. While their particularly recognisable production style remains, three things stand out as likely reasons for the shift in mood. By the time they got around to recording again in James’ bedroom in Finsbury Park that Summer, the instability around the recording of ‘Wooden Head’ (and the five years before) had slid into a deep and seething acrimony. Second, they both bought pianos. Third, when the band, with Daniel Nellis and Bobby Syme joining on bass and drums went to record at Tin Room in Hackney in June, the pinch wheel on the 8 track machine was broken and somehow no one noticed. All but one recording, ‘The Frozen Stare,’ was hopelessly warped, so they went and did it all again from scratch back at James’.

Proper Ornaments hold the attraction of seeming to not try very hard at all and achieve something outstanding nonetheless. Quite apart from our attachment to laziness and chance which make this seductive, textures of dappled drums, softened-out guitars and vocal harmonies that slide along as effortlessly as this, any evidence of conscious construction spirited away, are in themselves totally ecstatic to listen to. Facebook here.

'Memories' is a gentler paced song, where the vocals and understated music complement each other superbly. Melodic and natural, the laid back vibes are just so quick to calm and please me.


Deep Sea Diver - Wide Awake.

Background - Seattle-based indie-pop band Deep Sea Diver have shared "Wide Awake," the second music video from their recent sophomore album Secrets. The video is a beautifully shot live performance of the song, spotlighting the band's high energy live shows - they have a couple tour dates coming up (see below).

"Wide awake, and I'm chasing after you" - exclaims a breathless Jessica Dobson, singer and multi-instrumentalist of Seattle's Deep Sea Diver. The lyric is one that best encapsulates the front woman's bravado and fearlessness which dominates Deep Sea Diver's forthcoming sophomore LP, Secrets --Out February 19th on their own High Beam records. In their desire to explore dualities, Deep Sea Diver urgently and deliberately move you from rock experimentation to dreamy soundscapes, Kraut-esque drum and bass grooves to angular danci-ness, and full fledged orchestration to bare bones simplicity. Dobson has the voice and authority to tie it all together, and turn it into a cohesive unit that soars yet remains beautifully delicate and intimate. Live, the band has received acclaim for their festival-ready power and presence, Jessica's larger than life guitar hooks, and their cascading layers that build upon each other until they reach their explosive peak.

In late 2013, Dobson put in her notice to former Shins boss, James Mercer, in order to give full attention to her own musical vision. Mercer agreed, saying "I'll miss you, but I give you my full support. You've gotta pursue Deep Sea Diver." While much was gleaned from the experiences in her many years spent playing with top tier musical outfits (Beck, the Shins, Spoon, Yeah Yeah Yeahs,) something was brewing that demanded a sort of dedication and alertness that couldn't be fully engaged while moonlighting as a side-woman for those greats. Facebook here.

10.29.16 - Disjecta Portland, OR
11.07.16 - Paramount Seattle, WA w/ The Head and The Heart

'Wide Awake' is a hypnotic rocker, where the vocals of Jessica Dobson gradually take the song to a more dreamy and smoother place. As an intro to the recent album, it's gotta hook a few more ears.


The Lovely Days - Lordness.

Background -  Hailing from Byron Bay, via Melbourne Australia comes four piece Australian indie band The Lovely Days who are set to release their self-titled debut EP on October 7th. The Lovely Days features brothers Tennyson Nobel, 23 [keys, vocals] Holden Nobel, 25 [bass, vocals] along with Stephen Dickie, 22 [guitar, b/vs] and Jackson McIvor, 21 [drums].

Scratch beneath the surface of The Lovely Days song-craft and you’ll discover trace elements from four young lads from Liverpool some 50 years ago, through to the classic songwriting that defined the prolific songs of the 70's and 80's. Featuring feel-good harmonies delivered by the Nobel brothers who seamlessly share the lead vocal across different tracks, The Lovely Days are indeed a rare breath of fresh air in today’s music scene with the EP being self-penned and self-produced.

The Lovely Days began recording their debut EP in different locations; starting in a big fancy studio, then mid stream finishing it off in a beach house and a mate’s bedroom at his grandmothers house. Lead singer Tennyson explains; “Studios are cool, but for us we really dig the DIY dynamic of recording in a lush space where you can cook together and go to the beach.”

Two brothers and a high school friend travelled from Byron Bay to Melbourne to kickstart their careers where they met their drummer to form a brotherly partnership that is The Lovely Days. If you’re vitamin D deficient and usually take supplements in the morning with your juice, stop…from now on just listen to The Lovely Days instead. Website here.

Bright and breezy indie rockers The Lovely Days know how to lift the mood as 'Lordness' ably demonstrates. Coming in at just over two minutes, it's like an energised shot in the arm, and an excellent taster for the fine new EP.