Formed in Cleveland, OH by producer/activist Ra Washington, Mourning [A] BLKstar is a multi-generational, gender and genre non-conforming amalgam of Black Culture dedicated to servicing the stories and songs of the apocalyptic diaspora.
In keeping with the pace that the collective that is M[A]B set since 2016, Washington presented a series of song sketches during the summer of 2018 -- one per week -- while the group practiced and toured their debut records, BLK Musak (Glue Moon Records, 2016) and The Possible (2017). The result, Reckoning, will be released on April 6th, 2019 in collaboration with Don Giovanni Records.
Reckoning represents a deep dive into the M[A]B vaults -- a dizzying array of styles, big boy reverb, the heat transversing through love won and love lost, and the tensions that go with living in a world that is increasingly hostile to POC futures and wholly locked in on its disgusting treatment of the poor.
Led by producer RA Washington, Mourning [A] BLKstar features a trio of dynamic singers—James Longs, LaToya Kent, and Kyle Kidd—and an indeterminate number of musicians. The ensemble traffics in a gritty strain of DIY Afrofuturist soul music, balancing hip-hop production techniques with lo-fi experimentation that bathes sultry grooves in darkness, either in scratchy samples or washed-out synth tones.
Out March, 29th on Don Giovanni Records, The Big Freeze is the long-awaited fifth album by New York-based songwriter Laura Stevenson.
gravity is strong enough, at the end of time our universe will
collapse, pulling all of existence back down to infinitesimal size, like
before the Big Bang. But if expansion outpaces gravity, eventually the
universe will be cold and empty--all light, heat, and connection will be
gone. That possibility is called The Big Freeze.
Recorded in her childhood home during the dead of winter, The Big Freeze
represents a pivotal step for Stevenson. Despite her pedigree in the
punk and indie rock scenes, and the occasional inclusion of a backing
band (like the sprightly, C86-inspired pop track “Dermatillomania”), for
the first time on record Stevenson’s voice and guitar are in clear and
highlighted focus. It is a natural aesthetic choice for the musician,
who has often toured as a solo act and who pulls influence from the
great American songbook, and a choice that plays to the core strength
and organic beauty of her writing. And though it is easily the darkest
and most emotionally-devastating album of Stevenson’s career, it is also
without a doubt her most powerful.
Stevenson builds on her own
private worlds with choruses of multi-tracked voices, swarms of cellos,
French horns and violins; orchestration that blooms and swells
throughout each intimate performance. Exploring thematic ideas of
distance and misconnection; worlds pulling apart, aching loneliness, and
attempts to drive out hibernating dormant demons.
opening track Stevenson’s voice insists the listener “lay back with arms
out, all-in, unfeeling,” to allow themselves to sink into a flood of
instrumental sound that thrums between dissonance and resolution. From
waves crashing in an abandoned waterpark on the haunting “Value Inn”, to
the last leaves trembling before winter sets in on “Rattle At Will”, a
creeping sense of isolation and anxious beauty surrounds every song. And
yet there is also warmth, and hope. The album’s third track “Living
Room, NY” tells of an intercontinental love and longing which seems to
have the strength to thrive despite even the most trying and impossible
of circumstances. Across ten tracks, the listener will travel through
the cold night, following after a small but powerful flame burning from
the other side.
Stevenson is a songwriter whose strengths have gone unsung for far too long, but The Big Freeze
is likely to change that. At times you will be reminded of
classic songwriters from both the mainstream and the fringe, whether
it’s Jason Molina, Judee Sill, Harry Nilsson or Dolly Parton. But always
you will be reminded of the power of the human voice (and a single
guitar) to invoke the universe. Or in this case, it’s end. LAURA STEVENSON ON TOUR
2.7 – Gainesville, FL @ Changeville Festival 2.9 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom (sold out) 3.14 – Austin, TX @ SXSW 5.3 – Washington DC @ Black Cat 5.12 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge 5.14 – Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore 5.15 – Seattle, WA @ Vera Project 5.17 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill 5.18 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theatre 5.22 – Boston, MA @ Sinclair 5.23 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA 5.24 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade 5.25 – Burlington, VT @ Arts Riot 5.29 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen 5.30 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme 6.3 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry 6.5– Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater 6.6 – Madison, WI @ Memorial Union Terrace / University of Wisconsin
Out November 23rd on Don Giovanni Records, Magnetic Memory is a new full-length by NYC-based composer, producer, and performer Hprizm (aka High Priest, aka Kyle Austin).
A founding member of Anti-Pop Consortium, Prizm has consistently challenged the boundaries of hip-hop, collaborating and performing alongside a diverse cast of creative musicians, including Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, and Vijay Iyer.
Composed and recorded throughout last year, Magnetic Memory is guided by Prizm’s desire to reconnect with a more traditional approach to sampling. That is to say, sampling as a primary element of composition. “History has moved on from seeing sound art as compositional,” he explains. “I wanted to re-embrace that. I thought there was more to say.”
In constructing Magnetic Memory’s rhythms and atmospheres, Prizm chose to work within the technological constraints of his earliest days as a producer. “Not a lot of gear,” says Prizm. “To make it more basement.”
“At my point of entry, you couldn’t do long-form sampling. You had to make something out of 9-12 seconds,” he explains. “Thus, the focus is not on adapting hooks from identifiable songs, but snatching isolated moments to form the basis of instrumentation.”
It’s not about nostalgia. It’s about applying old constraints to new technology in an effort to reconnect with a voice. Prizm is joined on the LP by New York City-based jazz musicians, James Brandon Lewis, Heru Shabaka, and Shawn Keys.
Common Blah is the debut full-length by Portland, Maine’s Weakened Friends. Founded by songwriter Sonia Sturino, bassist Annie Hoffman, and drummer Cam Jones in 2015, the trio is a low pressure outlet for emotionally volatile music. Engineered and produced by Hoffman and perfected over the last year, the record broadcasts heavy feelings amid screech and feedback with little more than a distortion pedal to clog up the signal chain.
For Sturino, writing in Weakened Friends is more of a physical process than a mental one. “I have to feel the vibration or sound coming out of my body. I need the physicality to do it, to enjoy singing it,” she says. “People probably hear the vocals and think, ‘she just puts on that weird voice,’ but it’s really just what comes out. It’s my body making that sound.”
Many of the songs reckon with deep mid-20s malaise — with the feeling of being young, stuck, and settling for less. “Sometimes, things look good on the outside, but they’re not working. That’s how it used to be for me. I’d hear, ‘You have a really cool job. You live in a cool city. Your band is cool.’ It was ‘Common Blah’ though because I was miserable. I didn’t care. Now, I’m at the other end of the spectrum. People do something that they think they’re supposed to do when it’s not what they should be doing and it doesn’t make them happy. In a lot of ways, this is the first time I’ve found happiness. I wrote the lyrics about the time before that happiness.”
On Common Blah, Weakened Friends use volume — instrumental and emotional — to reassert a sense of control in a time when daily life has slid out of tune. The album also features guest shredding by peer and kindred spirit J Mascis on the song “Hate Mail.” Common Blah will be out on CD, LP, and digital download via Don Giovanni Records on October 19th. The band will tour the US and Europe throughout the fall, including stops at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris and The Fest in Gainesville.
8.30 - Halifax, NS @ The Seahorse Tavern 9.01 - Bar Harbor, ME @ Lompoc 9.13 - Syracuse, NY @ Spark Art Space 9.14 - Waterbury, VT @ Zenbarn 10.12 - Bangor, ME @ Bangor Arts Exchange 10.19 - Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall * 10.20 - Brooklyn, NY @ Trans-Pecos * 10.21 - Richmond, VA @ The Capital Ale House * 10.24 - Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade * 10.25 - Asheville, NC @ Fleetwoods * 10.26 - Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar * 10.27 - Gainesville, FL @ THE FEST * 10.30 - Paris, FR @ Pitchfork Music Festival 10.31 - Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin 11.2 - London, UK @ The Old Blue Last 11.8 - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen * 11.9 - Detroit, MI @ Deluxx Fluxx * 11.10 - Toronto, ON @ The Monarch * 11.11 - Montreal, QB - Casa del Popolo * 11.14 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showroom * 11.15 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott * 11.16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits * 11.17 - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd *
Out today on Don Giovanni Records, Live at the Nick documents Lee Bains & the Glory Fires' two night stand at The Nick late last year in their hometown of Birmingham, AL. Taped at the culmination of more than six months of touring for their 2017 2xLPYouth Detention, these shows took place at a tense moment for the band, personally and also politically -- with Roy Moore then still in the running for a US Senate seat.
In August, the band will embark on a tour of the UK and Europe followed by a jaunt through the southeast joined by Bad Moves and Nana Grizol. Find the full list of dates below.
Lee Bains on Live at the Nick:
In November of 2017, we played two nights at The Nick in Birmingham with some of our favorite Alabama bands -- \\GT//, Shaheed & DJ Supreme, Bad Example, Dommel Mossel, Me & My Knife, and Snacks, and raising attention for our friends at Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice and Hometown Action. Tension was in the air. While Trump's deportation squads, racial vitriol, and anti-worker policies were strafing the country, Alabama was caught in the most heated U.S. Senate race of our lifetimes. Roy Moore, whose reign as a Christian-supremacist homophobic judge had spanned most of our lives, was in great danger of being sent to D.C. as Alabama's senator. Meanwhile, our former Senator Jeff Sessions was implementing and excusing the worst of Trump's policies as Attorney General.
It was fitting, then, to find ourselves in the heart of Birmingham's Southside, the neighborhood that so many young Alabamians have found as a sanctuary, and inside the pine-box walls of the Nick, where many of us ordered our first beer, or saw our first indie rock show, or watched our first bleary-eyed sunup. While the world roiled beyond the slanting, sun-bleached front porch, we felt together and strong inside. We still do. We sent Roy Moore packing, and we're working on Sessions and Trump, too. This record is about raising hell for and from your home-place and your home-folks. Let's keep on working.
LEE BAINS ON TOUR
8.22 - Bristol, England @ Tunnels 8.23 - Winchester, England @ Railway 8.24 - Nutley, England @ Bylines Festival 8.25 - Amsterdam, Netherlands @ BlueMoon Fest 8.26 - Kettering, England @ Greenbelt Festival 8.27 - Kettering, England @ Greenbelt Festival 8.28 - Newport, Wales @ LePub 8.29 - Edinburgh, Scotland @ Leith Depot 8.30 - Glasgow, Scotland @ Hug & Pint 8.31 - Newcastle, England @ Cluny 9.1 - Halifax, England @ The Lantern 9.2 - Sheffield, England @ Greystones 9.3 - Brighton, England @ Prince Albert 9.4 - London, England @ Brixton Windmill 9.23 - Waverly, AL @ Standard Deluxe (Lee solo) 10.11 - Little Rock, AR @ White Water Tavern 10.12 - Fayetteville, AR - Smoke and Barrel 10.13 - Tulsa, OK -@ Colony 10.14 - Norman, OK @ Opolis 10.15 - San Antonio, TX @ The Mix 10.16 - Austin, TX @ Beerland 10.17 - Lafayette, LA @ Pearl 10.18 - New Orleans, LA @ Santo's* 10.19 - Birmingham, AL @ The Firehouse (early show, all-ages)* 10.19 - Birmingham, AL @ The Nick (late show)* 10.20 - Nashville, TN @ East Room* 10.25 - Augusta, GA @ Soul Bar 10.26 - Macon, GA - Creek Stage @ the Rookery 11.2 - Charleston, SC @ Royal American 11.3 - Greenville, SC @ Radio Room 11.4 - Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern 11.9 - Gainesville, FL @ Loosey's 11.15 - Charlotte, NC @ Milestone 11.16 - Whitesburg, KY @ Summit City 11.17 - Chattanooga, TN @ JJs Bohemia