Sturgill Simpson – Later

Later can be a bit hit or miss these days, though given there’s not much else besides it on the BBC it remains an important programme for artists and there’s none more deserving of a wider audience than Sturgill Simpson, so let’s be hoping that Joe Public can drop their pre-conceived ideas about country music and open their eyes and ears to the Metamodern Sounds in Country Music , the album is out on May 12th in the UK and you can pick up a copy from the fine folks at Loose.

Other guests on next week’s edition of the show include The Horrors, The Afghan Whigs, Little Dragon and Aloe Blacc.

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Gruff Rhys – American Interior

LP packshot

In 2012 Gruff Rhys set off on an investigative concert tour of the ‘American Interior’ to retrace the steps of a relative John Evans and search for his grave, John Evans had left Wales for the Baltimore 220 years earlier and had then travelled into the wilderness of the Allegheny a region of the vast Appalachian Mountain Range in search of a fabled lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans who were believed to be the descendants of Prince Madog who had according to folklore sailed to America three hundred years before Christopher Columbus set sail for the ‘New World’.

American Interior is a true multi-media project, as well as the ‘concept’ album there’s a book about John Evans’s adventures, a film plus an App that tells the same story, for more insight into the project head over to the Guardian and read ‘An extremely tall story on an epic scale‘ – the album sit’s on the fringe of my personal music preferences but I found it be a really engaging piece of art with the story pulled together across an eclectic soundscape.

American Interior is the first new material from the Super Furry Animals frontman since 2010, his previous album was another ‘concept’ Praxis Makes Perfect based on the life of an Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli released by Gruff and LA based producer Boom Bip, collectively Neon Neon.

Gruff is supporting the release with a series of gigs including a sold-out 6 night series at London’s Soho Theatre and a number of festival appearances throughout the summer including Indietracks and End of the Road.

5th 10th May Soho Theatre, London (SOLD OUT)
16th May Corn Exchange, Brighton
25th July Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall
26th July Indietracks Festival, Derbyshire
29th Aug End Of The Road Festival

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Hallelujah the Hills – Have You Ever Done Something Evil?


Have You Ever Done Something Evil? is the new album from Boston MA. based band Hallelujah the Hills, I was on the Kickstarter bandwagon for this one having already had the HTH’s experience with the bands previous album, the excellent, No One Knows What Happens Next

The band have already picked up some airplay in the UK with the track Pick Up An Old Phone being featured as Mp3 of the day on Lauren Laverne’s 6Music show last month, but hey sometimes Beat Surrender can reach places even the mighty 6Music can’t (maybe wishful thinking?).

So here’s a selection of the many delights that the album brings, and they’re are not even the best bits in my opinion, the whole recording is a glorious angular and ragged affair that you really need to hear – it’s out next week and comes highly recommended.

A tour of Boston’s Rock N Roll Landmarks with the band Hallelujah The Hills.

Here’s the back story from frontman Ryan Walsh (who also looks after the bands Twitter account – you should follow).

I quit my job of 12 years, in part, to see what it would be like if I dedicated myself to writing the new HtH album with the hours one devotes to a full time job. Starting in November 2012, I showed up to our cold, mini-loft-rehearsal-space in Charlestown, MA every single day and wrote songs whether I felt like it or not. I would sometimes go to Brooklyn, NY to stay at my friend Neal’s place, and some of the songs were written there as well. It would be no exaggeration to say I was feeling terrified for the future when this album was written. I eventually had to go back to a day job and had to admit that I couldn’t record the album myself with my old, trusty Boss BR-8 Digital Recorder (I tried).

I had a book idea as well. It was non-fiction and it was about something I was going to try with people who said they were psychic. I got a literary agent and everything (my book proposal remains unsold, contact me if you wanna get this thing into the real world, publishers!). In my research for this book I came upon the story of two girls from Rochester, NY, Maggie and Kate Fox, who began to hear, summon, or clandestinely produce knocking sounds that they claimed were communications from dead people in1848. The Fox Sisters’ claims became a worldwide phenomenon and triggered the Spiritualist movement in America. Imagine the circumstances in which your childhood bedroom mess-arounds escape your parents’ house and change the course of society. Their story made me ask a question: Where did young people put their weird ideas before rock bands became a viable thing for relatively poor people? Maybe, and I know this is a stretch, you had to pretend you were summoning knocks and whispers from the dearly departed to shove your odd ideas out into the world. In Fall of 2013, when we decided to record at 1809 Studios, 12 miles from where the Fox Sisters grew up, the coincidence was too much to bear, and some of the ideas brought up by their story made it into the last few songs written for the record.

We lived at 1809 Studios for five days while recording HYEDSE? in a bunk-bedded living quarters connected to the studio. You could roll out of bed and be in the isolation room, recording guitar feedback in less than ten steps. This intense incubation situation helped get the sounds we got, I am certain. We shopped for our food at the local Kroger’s and attended the T-Rex tribute night at The Bug Jar, just as if we were Rochester locals. On the penultimate evening of recording, when we wrapped for the day, we tried to seek out the memorial obelisk in Rochester dedicated to the Fox Sisters. It was snowing hard, and the directions were poor. We almost gave up several times. Finally, we parked the van and started walking north. Finally, across from a nondescript apartment complex we found the obelisk with its insistent, eerie inscription: “THERE IS NO DEATH / THERE ARE NO DEAD.”

We were all a little taken aback by that. On the final day of recording someone yelled that line somewhere on the record. I won’t say where, I don’t even think it’s fully legible, but know that it’s in there and take that however you wish.

Pre-order at Bandcamp:

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Hallelujah The Hills, April 2013

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