Allow us to shed a little light on the subject: today, The Lampshades are dropping their brand new single, “Astrology II”, which appears on their upcoming LP, Astrology. The Pittsburgh-based trio is made up of lead vocalist Jaren Love (who also plays guitar), drums by Daren Adelman, and Chris Kibler on bass. The inter-genre group puts out absolutely authentic and unique music, and “Astrology II” is no exception, as well as the rest of their forthcoming record.
“Astrology II” is unlike any song you’ve heard before; it is beautifully chaotic. With an almost eerie, otherworldly melody, this track fits it’s space-themed title perfectly. About 3:30 in, the song takes the listener for a spin with a surprising fiddling solo, but it works. It’s the kind of song you have to listen to more than once to fully appreciate. “Astrology II” is truly a unique sonic experience.
The Lampshade’s fifth full-length record, Astrology, will be released on March 23, but until then, be one of the firsts to give “Astrology II” a listen today!
Having just released their brand new album Strange Times this morning, Los Angeles-based psych pop trio Hollow FortyFives – comprised of Lucas Renberg, Brett Incardone, and Travis Corsaut – is revving up to play their album release party tonight at The Troubadour. Which means they have absolutely no time to bask in the glow of their work and treasure the audience response, as they’re focused on what’s to come with the entirety of the week still to unfold.
Luckily, we got a hot minute to catch up with them to find out the inspiration behind their work as a whole, the album you’re probably about to listen to on repeat, as well as to poke and prod them with silly little questions that give us peace of mind. Check out our words below!
What was your first musical memory? Did it have any bearing on how you respond to or create music now?
Lucas: Listening to a Beatles cassette that my Uncle had made for me. Then seeing some footage of The Who play live, after that i knew i had to play music.
Brett: Driving in my dad’s car and asking him who the band was on the radio. Also, asking my brother which instrument was playing and him teaching me the different sounds.
Travis: Being taught to play the guitar by my uncle. I quickly gave up and when I got a drum set 5 years later was forced into lessons. I really grew to love it.
Where do you believe you pull the most inspiration from for your work?
Lucas: A big chuck of it comes from the music I listen to and care about, My two favorite songwriters are John Lennon and Bob Dylan. The rest i would have to say come from the way I see the world. Anything can spark a song.
Brett: My biggest inspiration for lyrics would be the people I’m surrounded by whether it be friends, family, or even strangers. For music, simply, it can be bands I like, a riff I hear, or something that just grabs my attention.
Travis: I’d have to say that Lucas and Brett are my biggest inspirations in writing.
What inspired the track “Return Ticket” specifically?
Lucas: “Return Ticket” came about from the feeling of wanting to leave and get away. I live in this paradise that is California, but it’s a huge world out there. Always nice to take a look around, and no need to fear when you have a return ticket back home.
Your album is finally coming out, and we are so excited about it. What was the process for creating this album like for you guys?
Lucas: It was great writing the album and giving these songs the treatment they deserve. As a band it was our first time not recording ourselves, which was a whole new experience itself. We didn’t have to worry about mic placement or levels, we could focus on just playing the songs. And that really helped us grow as a band.
Brett: The process was very fun and smooth. The creative process was an absolute blast to be a part of and recording the album was a lot how I had hoped it would be: lots of late nights, laughs with my band mates, and excitement for being in a professional setting.
Travis: It was eye opening creating this album. The most important part for me was seeing how the songs had grown into something we’re all really proud to show you.
How do you imagine people listening to this release in its entirety?
Lucas: In a smokey room, either laying on a carpet floor or dancing away as the music flows out the speakers.
Brett: Driving in a car on a nice, sunny day, windows down with a cigarette in your hand.
Travis: When you listen to this song, I want you driving to Joshua tree in the rain with one hand out the window. If your friends are awake belt it with them and if they’re asleep wake them up by belting it. Noise is for the boys.
If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Lucas: As a kid i was obsessed with Robin. So it would have to be Robin! He’s got the bat bike and is the only one I know who can question Batman.
Brett: Spiderman because he’s been my favorite since I was a kid, I’ve always loved Spiderman stories, and no matter how tough his life gets he always finds a way to overcome his struggles. Besides, who wouldn’t want to swing from skyscrapers?
Travis: Captain Planet, let’s strive to always improve this world guys.
If you could collaborate with any artist on any medium, who would you choose and what would you make?
Lucas: I’d love to be able to do a split single with my favorite current musician Tim Presley of White Fence.
Brett: Co-writing an album with Jeff Tweedy at the Wilco loft. It would be the craziest thing ever.
Travis: I want to do covers of the Barenaked Ladies with the ghost of Buddy Holly.
Cats or dogs? Substantiate your claim.
Lucas: Dogs who act like cats and cats who act like dogs. Best of both worlds.
Brett: Dogs. I had a cat once when I was a child, but she was a demon. Now I’m not saying all cats are evil, but I have a dog now and he is an absolute angel.
Travis: Cats AND dogs, lil cuties are a damn blessing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Lucas: Keep living life between the headphones.
Brett: Tip your bartender.
Strange Times is out today and will be available here. Be sure to catch them at their album release show TONIGHT and keep up with the band here.
PSA: this is not your typical cello playing. Serena Jost is soon to release her album, Up To The Sky, a collection of vocal/cello songs, recorded in Chelsea, NYC’s St. Peter’s Church. Up To The Sky, released via Second Kiss, includes covers as well as original songs by Jost, all utilizing her signature vocals and cello playing.
Up To The Sky follows Jost’s previous records that she released with her band (Julian Maile, Rob Jost and Robert DiPietro),A Bird Will Sing and Closer Than Far. Jost will celebrate her album release with a performance on April 19th at St. Peter’s. Appearing on Up To The Sky is a cover of “Happiness” by Molly Drake. Jost’s powerful and ethereal vocals definitely do the song justice. While just a small taste of what is to come, “Happiness” encompasses the precise skill that Serena Jost possesses. This is not a record you’ll want to miss.
We’ve been inundated with a little too much fluff lately. And, while we’re all about being happy and upbeat and feeling free, sometimes you need to slow it down and enjoy a good song for what it is: emotional, dark, intense, and equally as freeing. This is the feeling you get from the first chords of Nathaniel Bellows‘ new track “To Wait”, which finds its exclusive streaming premiere right here, right now. As the song progresses, a dark and beautiful love affair brims within its lines for those who happen upon it.
If nothing else, this track reminds you that patience – even when you’re waiting for dissonance in instrumentals and the next line of a brand new song – is a damn virtue.
We caught up with Nathaniel himself briefly before the release of this new track to talk shop. Check out our words below!
How is your new LP, Swan and Wolf, different from your previous album?
With Swan and Wolf, I left the city and went up to Maine to record all the vocals and guitar tracks by myself. Being in that secluded environment, I was able to spend more time organizing, layering, and experimenting with how the background vocals interacted with the main vocal, which ultimately—hopefully—gives the songs greater emotional texture and depth. Another main difference is that, with Swan and Wolf, I worked closely with a mixer, Brian Losch, who really understood the mood and tone I was looking for, and which resulted in a more cohesive, consistent overall sound.
While The Old Illusions featured two of my drawings as part of the CD booklet, Swan and Wolf incorporates more of my visual art: I created ten illustrations that correspond to each of the ten songs on the record, which are available to view on the album’s website, and in a limited edition hardcover book that I produced as a companion to the music.
How would you describe the sound of Swan and Wolf?
As with The Old Illusions, I was looking for a very direct, spare, open-room sound, but this time, with a more polished, professional sheen. There aren’t that many elements in these songs, but I was eager to have each component sit within the mix in an organic, but ordered way. Overall, I wanted the sound to be clean and immediate, with a slight tinge of rawness, and the distinct presence of human imperfection.
Where do you find the inspiration to write?
I grew up in rural environments, so I’ve always been very inspired by the natural world. I live in New York City now and have written most of my music here, so maybe there’s something to the urban landscape that particularly inspires this work—perhaps the pervasive, invisible rhythms of the city? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely given me a lot to write/sing about (much to the dismay of my neighbors, I think!).
You are a poet, a novelist, a visual artist, and a musician. What got you into doing music?
Playing and studying music has always run alongside the other disciplines that I work in. I took piano lessons for 11 years when I was young, and I picked up the guitar when I went to college. I started writing songs around the time I finished college and went to graduate school as a way to explore a different approach to poetry, which I was mainly writing at the time. Ever since then, songwriting has slotted in among my other artistic pursuits in a pretty seamless and satisfying way.
How do you differentiate yourself from your music and your writing?
There is a definite overlap in my music and my writing. But with the songs, I tend to include more vernacular language than I would in a poem—the rhyming is more forceful and structured, and there’s a more deliberate symmetry in a song’s verses and choruses, which are choices I don’t employ so overtly in my poetry. Sometimes I use quotations in the songs in a way I might when writing fiction, but the songs tend to be blurry, abstract meditations on emotion, memories, events or images, so I don’t feel any need to crystalize these spoken scraps into something more narratively realized, the way I do when writing a short story or a novel. In all my work, I aim for clarity, specificity, and vividness, but with songwriting, I like to explore the tension between exactitude and ambiguity.
What was the inspiration behind your first single, “Keep in Mind”?
It takes me a long time to write songs, because they evolve as a slow accrual of ideas, generated in fits and starts, over months and sometimes years. I’m also unable to write lyrics in the absence of the guitar—the lyrics and music tend to evolve in tandem. I practice a lot and record drafts of the songs on my phone, and walk around listening to them to try to figure out what the music is attempting to evoke and express. It can take a while. Given all of this, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what the inspiration is for any one song, except that they usually begin with a central image or phrase, around which the song slowly congeals. In the case of “Keep in Mind,” I think it was the image of the seabirds mentioned in the second verse—the idea that they have an innate sense of where they are headed, how they are meant to live, all in their own mysterious and unknowable ways.
What is next for your career?
I am looking forward to playing these songs live in the upcoming months, after the release. I have also been working on a new novel—a contemporary ghost story set on a small island off the coast of Maine—and I’m in the process of finishing my second collection of poetry.
I frequently collaborate with the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider—our first record, Unremembered, a song cycle for 7 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics, based on 13 of my poems and illustrations—came out in 2015. We are now working on a Mass for Trinity Wall Street, about endangered animals and the environment, which premieres this spring, and we’ve also begun work on an opera.
Folk-rock artist Greg Connors is about to drop his brand new record, Home Made Compass, on March 3rd. Today, we’ve got your first listen with a streaming premiere of it in its entirety, as well as the premiere of the picturesque music video for his single “Armadillo”.
Starting off with “BEGIN ANYWHERE”, Connors brings his own take on folk music with this raw track. Next up is ARMADILLO, a deeper track that focuses the listener into the multidimensional layers of his music. “ARMADILLO” is followed by “JUST TO BE”, which features some killer guitar moments; a truly laid back and smooth rock track that balances folk aspects as well. Taking a completely different angle with “BUTTERSCOTCH”, a spoken-word interlude, Connors moves the listener into “INVISIBLE AUDIENCE”, a gutsy song that takes the listener for a trip.
A groovy, almost psychedelic track, “ONGOING END”, follows up next. With emotion packed lyrics and some “radio” parts, it’s a unique song on Home Made Compass. “RAPTORS” takes the reins next, definitely leaning towards the rock side of the LP. The first few notes are almost Bowie-esque. “CALICO”, another spoken interlude, carries listeners into the final two tracks on Home Made Compass. “TENNESSEE’, the denouement of the album, is a lovely song filled with a love for home, even if it’s not where you come from. Closing out Home Made Compass is BOATYARD”, the last song on the album. With masterfully poised instrumentals, Connors ends his album on a nostalgic, yet hopeful note.
Overall, the album does an excellent job of marrying folk with rock, and balancing the strengths of the two throughout the record. Whether you prefer rock or folk, Connors has got you covered.
California husband-and-wife duo of 16 years Fawns of Love (Jenny and Joseph Andreotti) are gearing up to release their new single, “Something Stupid”, which will appear with “Zine Days” as a two-song 7-inch. Following the success of their debut album, Who Cares About Tomorrow, this new music continues the vision the Andreotti’s have for their creativity. Fawns of Love uses vintage equipment to record their own music at their Bakersfield home, and the homemade, attention-to-detail aspects of their songs is evident. “Something Stupid” is anything but that. Pairing Jenny’s floating vocals with nostalgic instrumentals is a recipe for success.
Says Jenny: “I wrote ‘Something Stupid’ while I was at an art gallery. I was there before anyone I knew had shown up, so I got bored and started drinking a lot of wine. I just wrote observations about my drunken self. Although I didn’t realize it at the time it is lyrically similar to Sparks’ ‘Pretending To Be Drunk’ (but I was actually drunk). Instead of having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, I had the Mael Brothers on each shoulder inciting me to write something whimsical and self-deprecating.”