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Updated: 2016-09-27T18:34:00+01:00


Celebrating 16 Years of Drowned in Sound

2016-09-27T23:32:02+01:002016-09-27 18:34:00 +0100

On Oct 4th come join us at Miranda in London for live music and DJs.

To celebrate DiS' 16th Birthday and to give you all an opportunity shout at our editor in person about the new forums (not to be found over here), we have organised a little event-slash-party at Miranda (the live music venue beneath the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch) from 7pm on October 4th.

Performing live will be Laura-Mary Carter from DiS favourites Blood Red Shoes, previewing material from her debut solo album. Supporting her will be our editor's favourite discovery of this year, Rhain (listen to her here), and we have some ace DJs including Eddy Temple-Morris, Ed Harcourt and Natalie Bang Bang spinning tunes until 1am. Full details on Facebook here.

It's only £3 to get in, and tickets are available with no booking fee from DICE.

Not on Facebook? Here's a flyer I threw together (with apologies to any graphic designers):


Piano Day Exclusive #3: Douglas Dare

2016-09-27T11:54:34+01:002016-09-27 11:52:00 +0100

Douglas Dare has been wowing audiences ahead of the release of his second album Aforger.

The first time I saw Douglas Dare perform was earlier this summer, at Union Chapel, the perfect venue for his solemn, austere music. He was, of course, utterly captivating, his voice clear and piercing, his playing echoing the majesty of the setting. But in among material old and new - and a Björk cover - one track hit harder than any other, 'Oh Father', an heartfelt lament about family, love, and acceptance.

It was just one of many concerts Dare has given in the run-up to the release of his second album, Aforger, and DiS is proud to premiere the video of his performance of 'Oh Father', shot at the Courtyard Theatre in London earlier this year, as the latest of our Piano Day exclusives.

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"The piano is my favourite instrument, my favourite piece of furniture, my preferred way of expressing myself, and my favourite way of listening to music. I love the idea of Piano Day and am honoured to be one of the few artists performing in its infancy. This was my second Piano Day and my first opportunity to play some new material from my upcoming album, Aforger. I chose to play the song 'Oh Father' because it leant itself nicely to not only the somewhat beaten up piano (let's call it 'well loved'), but the small yet packed room we played in. 'Oh Father' is one of my most personal songs and works especially well on this 'well loved' instrument because the song, like the piano, is raw, honest and, in places, ugly. I'm a big fan of old uprights so this is already one of my favourite performances."

Photograph by Alex Kozobolis.

Aforger is out on 14 October on Erased Tapes Records, and is available for pre-order here. For information and tickets for his upcoming UK and European tour, click here.


David Bowie - The Gouster/The Man Who Fell to Earth (soundtrack)

2016-09-27T10:16:37+01:002016-09-27 10:16:23 +0100

America reflected crazily back at itself, though a cracked lens The latest issues from the David Bowie vaults aren’t so much cashing in on his death as carrying on the constant, bewildering process of reissuing and repackaging that has been performed on the late legend's back catalogue for almost as long as he’d had a career. Still, they are notable for completing two bits of the Bowie puzzle: The Gouster is the more overtly soulful version of Young Americans that kiiiiind of got scuppered when Bowie bumped into John Lennon and recorded ‘Fame’; and The Man Who Fell to Earth is the very belated first issue of the soundtrack to his iconic film of the same name. Technically The Gouster isn’t getting its own release: it’s part of perhaps the most self-parodically representative Bowie reissue ever. Who Can I Be Now? (1974-76) is a 12-disc box set that encompasses the albums Diamond Dogs, Young Americans and Station to Station, plus various period appropriate live records and rarities. There is some of the best music ever made on it, but The Gouster is the only real talking point, so let’s just ignore the rest. This being 2016, to all intents and purposes The Gouster is just a compilation of outtakes that have been commercially available for aeons, and you should certainly take the Tony Visconti-fanned ‘myth’ of the album – that this is the ‘pure’ version of Young Americans that existed before Bowie hooked up with Lennon to record the ‘silly’ ‘Fame’ and pointless ‘Across the Universe’ – with a pinch of salt. Solely consisting of material recorded at the Sigma Sound studio in Philadelphia, The Gouster omits not only the controversial New York Lennon session, but also the markedly less contentious earlier NYC session that yielded the excellent songs ‘Win’ and ‘Fascination’. The result is genuinely interesting, a much more soulful record than Young Americans, and an even more radical departure from his glam era than that album proved to be. The opener sets the tone: ‘John I’m Only Dancing (Again)’ is a luxuriant seven-minute slice of proto-disco soul that retains the chorus but ditches almost everything else about the original ‘John…’, a classic Ziggy Stardust-era b-side. Followed up by an alt mix of the six-and-a-half minute Somebody Up There Likes Me, and the similarly length ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ – a poised, dramatic soul ballad often regarded as the great omission from Young Americans, it’s not Bowie's most avant-garde work, but it is the least immediate start to any Bowie album, three long ballads in a row. The Gouster is a braver record than Young Americans, but is it better? I would say no – it lacks two of the record’s three best pop songs (‘Fame’ and ‘Fascination’) and buries the other one, ‘Young Americans’, deep on the second side (I’m not entirely clear how The Gouster was in fact sequenced – not starting with ‘Young Americans’ is so perverse I wonder if it was just done here to avoid comparisons with the parent album). It also seems like a much less commercial album, and it would be interesting to see how his career would have developed if his first album post glam had been a failure. But it is a genuinely illuminating window into what might have been. The long-lost The Man Who Fell to Earth soundtrack has a massive picture of David Bowie on the front but is not in fact a David Bowie album. Legend has it that he penned some songs for it, but nobody quite seems to know what happened to them (everyone was on an awful lot of drugs at the time) though as near as I can work out the most accepted school of thought is that he wrote some stuff that was absolutely useless as soundtrack music that probably ended up in the Station to Station sessions. The job of creating original music for the soundtrack together was handed to erstwhile The Mamas & The Papas member John Phillips, who recorded the wantonly ersatz country and western ballads that make up the [...]

Devendra Banhart - Ape in Pink Marble

2016-09-27T10:16:37+01:002016-09-27 10:16:09 +0100

A fruitful album by one of the most respected musicians in the business. The last time we heard from Devandra Barnhart was 2013’s Mala, an album that received almost universal critical acclaim, sparked talks of being his greatest album to date, and spawned quite possibly his the most popular record in his entire catalogue, 'Never Seen Such Good Things'. Ever since 2009’s Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, Barnhart has somewhat slowed down his pace of releasing records. Whereas they used to come back to back, Barnhart is taking a few years in between projects, and consequently his latter material has been some of the best output of his lengthy career. Saturation doesn’t bode well for a lot of artists, but in Barnhart’s case, his increasingly refined formula might have more to do with both creative and personal maturation as well. For whatever reason, his work on non-musical projects seem to amplify his musical sensibilities, like the 2015 release of his collection of drawings and other artwork entitled 'I Left My Noodle on Ramen Street.' Barnhart’s music best functions when his mind is focused on an array of artistic ideas and notions. On Ape in Pink Marble, Barnhart’s ninth studio album, he revisits the materials that made the folksy, stripped-down Mala such a success, once again collaborating with musicians Josiah Steinbrick and Noah Georgeson while recording in Los Angeles again. Not to mention, the album is soaked in international flavors, incorporating everything from Japanese and Latin American music to Brazilian staples like the bossa and samba. There is also an element of a loose story involved. Barnhart recently stated that the album takes place in an imaginary Japanese hotel where the music is meant to play in the lobby. Throughout the record, some songs readily relate to this concept while others seem to momentarily stray. But even though there is not a strict narration, the overall aesthetic is truly what matters when one glides through the myriad smooth textures of the album. width="540" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> Barnhart is at his best when he lets his offbeat personality and perspective on the world flourish. Ape in Pink Marble is even more whimsical and freer a project than Mala, with a slew of comical poetics like 'Fancy Man'. Barnhart manages to keep a serious attitude toward the actual crafting of the material but he is at his best when he keeps a light-hearted view on things. But Barnhart is not Weird Al Yankovic, and the first track of the album and single 'Middle Names' acts as a contemplative reverie of longing, complete with Barnhart’s signature soft lulling-turned-lullaby and acoustic guitar. But Barnhart is back to his playful ways with 'Jon Lends A Hand', where over an earthy ambiance he sings about a beautiful love interest while borrowing a few lines from a man named Jonathan. The meticulous assortment of instruments Barnhart employs for the album at times makes for infectious listens, like the neo-disco vibe of 'Fig in Leather'. Unlike a lot of music on Ape in Pink Marble – or Barnhart’s wider career for that matter – the track has an instant dance-a-long quality. The ultra-specific 'Theme for a Taiwanese Woman in Lime Green' is almost cinematic in scope, relating to Japanese hotel lobby theme. On “Mourner’s Dance,” Devendra furthers his sonic experiments, and his hushed, whispered vocals let the instrumentals sing. Many paid heed to the tweet heard around the world when Barnhart released 'Saturday Night' recently and Blood Orange responded by tweeting that he makes insufferable music. Whether it was some secret ploy by Blood Orange to get fans to check out Barnhart’s music or an authentic diss, no one knows for sure, but 'Saturday Night' is one of the best records on the album. Barnhart croons one of his best lines, “please don’t love me because you’re through hating you”. For the album[...]

How to Dress Well - Care

2016-09-27T10:01:12+01:002016-09-27 09:59:59 +0100

An artist who seems to make it his life’s mission to move with - and reflect - the times

Tom Krell is many things. He’s an artist who approaches his work as How to Dress Well with some severity. You could call him a pop singer, too. He’s a doctor of philosophy, having obtained a PhD from DePaul University in Chicago. He’s an amusing presence on Twitter, where his screen name, until recently, was ‘literally your boy’. Most presciently, though, Krell is also perhaps the most accurate taker of the collective pulse there is when it comes to popular music in 2016. He made his second record, Total Loss, right when icy ‘urban R&B’ of the kind produced by The xx was at its most popular. 2014’s follow-up, “What Is This Heart?”, acquiesced to the fascination of the pop world with a sonic palette dominated by what was big in the Eighties. Krell has done the hard yards. He has earned his position as a tastemaker.

And now, with Care, his fourth LP, he’s produced the pop record that the modern age demands. This is an record that understands the abandonment, by the casual music listener, of the traditional album model, and therefore instead gives us 11 single-worthy tracks that run the gamut in terms of stylistic diversity. Sunny melodies that play like 2016’s answer to ‘Human Nature’? See opener ‘Can’t You Tell’. Detached, bass-heavy balladry, in the style of The Weeknd? That’s ‘The Ruins’. Brass-flecked, easy-going introspection? Covered with some flair by ‘Made a Lifetime’.

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The artists who have been the most influential in this second decade of the new century are the ones that have refused to be boxed in by traditional notions of genre; that, like magpies, have been happy to dive upon anything they consider shiny. Krell seemed to make a point of deconstructing pop on his debut, 2009’s spiky, awkward Love Remains, so the fact that three records later it feels as if he’s taking the opposite approach to doing so speaks to his flexibility. Where his past work came across as outwardly cerebral and perhaps even cynical about current pop trends, Care embraces them; it feels significant that Jack Antonoff, who helped mastermind 1989 with Taylor Swift, has contributed to this album, too.

The diversity of the album’s sonic approach is something that mainstream pop has been edging towards for a while now - the likes of Lemonade and Anti join Swift’s latest in that respect - and Krell goes one further by tying in a similar breadth of present-day lyrical themes, from ‘Can’t You Tell’s consent-pop celebration of sex positivity to the mental health introspection of ‘Anxious’ - which, funnily enough, is perhaps the poppiest cut on the album. There is something for everybody here. That he seems to pull off every style he tries his hand at with such assurance is a testament to his talent. Here, finally, we have an artist who seems to make it his life’s mission to move with - and reflect - the times.


Big Time Sensuality: Björk Live @ Hammersmith Apollo

2016-09-27T08:51:59+01:002016-09-27 08:51:59 +0100

Her piercing vocals are just miraculous alongside strings; always have been, always will. When Vulnicura came out last year, many people like me, re-established a connection with the Björk who had soundtracked a big chunk of their lives. Despite their exacting quality and futuristic appeal, projects like Volta and Biophilia felt as grandiose as they were intimidating, more like a collection of great ideas displayed in a museum than a pop record able to shake you to the ground. Then Vulnicura arrived and suddenly I felt taken aback, like the first time I listened to, say, Homogenic some 20 years ago. The connection between the two records has not escaped critics and fans: on the cover of Homogenic, Björk’s portrait had a warrior-like quality. On Vulnicura, to the contrary, it’s all about the titular wound; both records deal with love and devastation, and resort to strings and beats to signify the co-dependence between the two. Björk sure isn’t done evolving, plotting multimedia extravaganzas, educational apps, or re-packaging her landmark albums (a new box set celebrating her career is in the works and her Björk Digital exhibition is currently on show at Somerset House), but tonight’s gig at the Eventim Apollo celebrates emotions without necessarily resorting to the clinical or the futuristic. Accompanied by an orchestra (conducted by Andrew Gourlay), she relies on strings and her voice to guide the audience through a remarkably stripped-down and peculiarly nocturne set. Björk is not new to performing solely with strings, and fans will remember her recordings with the Brodsky Quartet or the strings-only B-Sides. Her piercing vocals are just miraculous alongside strings; always have been, always will - hands off. The first half of the set is dedicated entirely to Vulnicura, executed basically in the dark, her firefly dress marking her movements on stage. The absence of beats and visuals makes space for the lyrics to astounding effect. While ‘Stonemilker’ and ‘Lionsong’ mesh into a long, lush introduction to the record’s narrative, her words on ‘History of Touches’ leave the audience absolutely speechless. If anything, we sound petrified. “I wake you up in the night / Feeling this is our last time together”. There you go, Björk backed by an orchestra spitting her most relatable lyrics ever in your face. ‘Black Lake’ is, quite frankly, devastating. It’s a shame most folks are not familiar with the structure of the piece, as the audience interprets every pause in between verses as a good opportunity to clap and cheer. No, dude: it’s a ten-minute song, enjoy the silence. “No hope in sight, of ember / Reckoning eternal pain and horrors / I am a glowing shining rocket / Returning home”. Now clap to that. The first half of the show ends on the notes of ‘Notget’, the most percussive and perhaps ‘histrionic’ moment for the orchestra. Prancing around the stage, Björk stops to place one hand next to her ear and invite us to join her singing the verse “Love will keep us safe from death”, to which you can only sing along to with a bit of incredulity, I suppose. The second half takes off with the quiet resolution of ‘Aurora’, a very welcome cut from Vespertine, a record that was more about the leading up to love and true intimacy as opposed to the recurring images of destruction/reconstruction on Vulnicura. Things are kept relatively breezy with ‘I’ve Seen It All’ until the first song from Homogenic, ‘Jóga’, swoops in to make us teary again. The same happens with the classic epic ‘Bachelorette’ and, in the encore, with ‘Pluto’, an incredible surprise after the bucolic peak of ‘The Anchor Song’. “We have one more song, and maybe I will ask you to sing along”, says Björk. “What, on ‘Pluto’?!. More like ‘throat sing along’ you mean!”, I think. But we do, and as happens so often at her g[...]

“The idea of recording never really occurred to me”: DiS Meets Dave Harrington

2016-09-26T13:15:04+01:002016-09-26 13:13:00 +0100

Dan Cole meets the multi-instrumentalist to talk through his various projects. Finding articles that don’t talk about Dave Harrington’s earlier project with Nicolas Jaar is near impossible. But that doesn’t seem to irk him at all. Playing in Jaar’s live band, and then going on to write and perform as Darkside, was just another step in Harrington’s complex, sundry career. The New York, avant-garde, madshit guitarist, jazz-player, and all-round musician collaborates with whoever he can, performing in various bands with rotating members and doing improvised, one-off shows whenever possible. “The clichés are true,” he explains, as we catch up on a late-summer evening in Berlin, “it keeps me on my toes and makes me a better musician.” And he’s not wrong. His debut LP Become Alive arrived earlier this year. An album recorded with a bunch of friends and fellow musicians, including Jaar. It’s a record that embodies Harrington’s free-bodied approach and jazz lineage, but still somehow manages to come off sounding like a well-orchestrated, body of work. As a self-styled musician, it’s taken many years for Harrington to get around to making his own record, as DiS found out. DiS: Who is in the Dave Harrington group at present? Dave Harrington: The touring group for this run is myself, Sam Ghadry on drums, Andrew Fox – whose project is called VISUALS – and an incredible keyboard player called Morgan Z, who has a band called Chrome Canyons and makes this titanic synth-prog. Is it like this Broken Social Scene kind of thing, where you all play in each other’s projects? Yeah. It’s how I always do it and it feels like the right thing. I was playing in New York with a ton of people for a long time. Some were shows I organized, some by other people, some were improv and some even Grateful Dead tribute shows. It’s all been really cool, and it makes me a better musician and keeps me on my toes. I was trying to find more about your other projects, Bladerunner Trio and El Topo, but there’s not much online about these. Bladerunner has become this band that only really happens once or twice a year. It usually involves myself, Will the sax player – who’s on the new record – and Nico [Jaar]. It started out as one thing with me and a different drummer, and then it kind of shifted and changed into anybody’s band. El Topo was my main New York act for many years. I tried to make a record and ended up with three versions that I was never satisfied with. I will make an El Topo record one day, or maybe I’ll just give away all these old versions for free. The band has at least two, if not more, drummers, and I would play bass with a guitarist and keys and sax and trumpet. It’s super heavy – post John Zorn, acid – exotic – metal. Songs that are hilarious – no vocals, no chorus and no structures that don’t made any sense. Actually, when I describe it like that, it sounds pretty good, [laughs]. width="540" height="304" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen> There’s a big trend towards contemporary jazz through many of your projects. I would say that I’m very much a product of where I grew up, in New York in the late 90s and early 00s. I was going to the downtown scene, to the old Knitting Factory, to Tonic mostly, and going to see John Zorn, Steven Bernstein, Michael Blake [and] Ben Allison. It was unpretentious jazz music that equally embraced groove, noise, a punk aesthetic, Latin or whatever. The one band I saw probably more than any other was Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra. Bernstein was the leader of Sex Mob, who I also saw a lot. He would lead this band, at what would seem like midnight on Friday each week. He’s a slide trumpet player, and he would try and conduct this band, and it was totally anarchic and anything would go. You d[...]

Pixies - Head Carrier

2016-09-26T09:24:49+01:002016-09-26 09:24:03 +0100

there is nothing particularly new or interesting about the Boston quartet's sixth full-length even if there's not a lot wrong with it

After 2014's largely disappointing Indie Cindy, indie-rock legends Pixies are back for another crack at trying to revitalise their careers with Head Carrier, their second post-reformation full length. Much fuss was made two years ago as to whether this vastly popular, inherently 'alternative' band really needed to make new material at the risk of diminishing their legacy. It was a failure, however, early hype here has promised an edgier return to form but when a band's par is as high as Pixies' that's no easy task. While Head Carrier's opening title track suggests that may indeed be the case, it doesn't take long to see how difficult a task that really is.

Unfortunately, as much as there are some of the typically witty lyrics, catchy melodies and punchy riffs one would expect from Pixies, that in many ways are indeed the problem with Head Carrier. In short, there is nothing particularly new or interesting about the Boston quartet's sixth full-length even if there's not a lot wrong with it. There are some fleeting memorable moments here. 'Might As Well Be Gone' for instance is pleasant enough, with its bittersweet chorus especially capturing the attention. Elsewhere, 'Baals Back' is the promised ball-to-the-wall heavy rocker, heavy metal aping vocals and all, while 'Bel Esprit' is a fairly classic blues rock song done well, reminding us of how talented a songwriter Frank Black can be even with the simplest of resources.
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At its weakest, however, Head Carrier can sound derivative, or worst, just plain annoying. For instance, you'd be forgiven for mistaking 'All I Think About Now' for Surfer Rosa classic 'Where Is My Mind' at first. Its riff and tone are almost identical, but then to diverge expectations the vocal track ends up being new bassist Paz Lenchantin's best karaoke attempt at Kim Deal's glorious performance on 'Gigantic'. Meanwhile, songs like 'Oona', 'Talent' and 'Um Chagga Lagga' just don't have the same ironic bite their earlier counterparts possessed. Whereas poppier tracks 'Classic Masher' and 'Tenement Song' become infuriatingly infectious in a mostly unpleasant fashion. Towards, the end, the album merely burns out with a whimper via the instantly forgettable final two tracks.

So while Head Carrier may right some of the wrongs of Indie Cindy, it still remains a distinctly average affair from a band once considered the best band on the planet. Too often this sounds like a younger band's best impression of Pixies, or worse, a parody of themselves. While it is encouraging that they're trying, there isn't really anything here that they haven't already done better elsewhere. Pixies' formula has always been mystically simple. In their halcyon days, they took three or four chords at a rock steady tempo and turned them into something magic. While it isn't necessarily fair to compare a veteran band to their earlier glory days, there should at least be something exciting to hold onto in a new release to justify its existence. Unfortunately, only die-hards need apply here.


“We needed to remind ourselves why we started this band”: DiS Meets Warpaint

2016-09-26T09:14:38+01:002016-09-26 09:02:00 +0100

“It seemed like a good idea at the time. In practice, it didn’t really work.” There wasn’t supposed to be another Warpaint record this quickly. In March of last year, the Los Angeles four-piece wrapped up eighteen months’ worth of touring behind their self-titled second album with some of the biggest headline shows they’d ever played, including one at a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo. At the same time, they made it quite clear that they were bored of the hamster wheel that is the traditional release cycle, and seemed to think that they’d found a way off of it. They put out a couple of new tracks, ‘No Way Out’ and ‘I’ll Start Believing’, with the promise that more would follow later in the year. It’d be better for everybody, they reasoned, if they were to write, record, and then release new songs as and when they were ready - instant gratification all round. Plus, they were more than ready for a break, both from the rigours of the road and from Warpaint being their primary creative focus. Everybody had other things they’d rather be doing for a while, other itches to scratch, and a commitment to regular single releases, rather than the gargantuan task of a full LP, should have meant that those other projects would be able to coexist with the band. Stella Mozgawa, the drummer, spent time in both the studio and on the road with Kurt Vile, and sat behind the kit for sessions with Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley, too. Theresa Wayman enlisted Sarah Jones of Hot Chip and Guro Gikling of All We Are to form BOSS - one single, the electro stomper ‘I’m Down with That’, emerged last October - and spent time on a record of her own, too, one that’s been in the works for some time now. Emily Kokal, meanwhile, took a step back from music altogether. Jenny Lee Lindberg pressed ahead with a solo record as well, although unlike Wayman, she actually got around to finishing and releasing it; she did so in pretty traditional fashion, putting the sparse Right On! out through Rough Trade and touring behind it for most of last winter. It was in an interview with DiS last December that she mentioned that the single-by-single model had been scrapped. Album number three was back on the cards, and soon. “We’re working on the album,” she said, “and it is going to be an album.” She wasn’t kidding. Nine months later, the arrival of Warpaint’s third full-length, Heads Up, might have buried the group’s hopes of swerving the usual model of creative output for the time being, but it certainly doesn’t mean that they’ve done things by the book. Warpaint was recorded between London and Los Angeles, and saw the richly experienced Flood man the boards. It also sacrificed some of its predecessor’s intimacy for big, swirling synths and thumping programmed beats - the focus was still on atmosphere, but the received wisdom seemed to be that it should be of the monolithic kind, overwhelming the listener rather than ensnaring them. src="" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> Heads Up feels like an about-face. The big-name producer is out, and Jacob Bercovici, who oversaw the band’s first EP, is drafted back in. Most of the songs were demoed at the members’ individual houses, with the studio mainly used to tweak and embellish. There are out-and-out dance songs here, and beats and samples that feel like nods to hip hop. The sense that a weight’s been lifted is palpable. It all feels a bit more informal again, a bit scruffier. “The way I see it, making any album is a complicated process,” says Wayman across a transatlantic phone line. “Why make it worse by adding more and more unknowns to the situation? You’ve already got the constraints of time and money to work against,[...]

Flock Of Dimes - If You See Me Say Yes

2016-09-26T11:19:37+01:002016-09-26 08:48:00 +0100

An endearing, very likeable record indeed You suspect Jenn Wasner’s hometown roots run deep. Born there, lived and worked there. Wye Oak – her principle artistic vehicle and bread-and-butter for the last eight years or so – was formed there. You suspect, also, that a move from Baltimore to rural North Carolina involves quite some shift in pace, in tone, in intensity (the city, she says, was “eating her alive”). But as much as If You See Me, Say Yes — Wasner’s first record as Flock of Dimes — is informed by this relocation, it is about neither point of departure nor destination. Instead, it reads as a record about changing relationships with people and with place, the flux and the limbo experienced in a world whose dimensions are increasingly unknown to us. Shrinking as we become more mobile, growing with the increased distances that separate us from the spaces we know best. Flock of Dimes is a less gritty project than Wye Oak, seemingly borne of a process of multi-tracking rather than recorded with others in a room. A kind of synth-pop, almost. But the synthetic nature of this music (drum machines, glossed synths, Wasner’s guitar processed and shimmering) is played off against the warmth of Wasner’s voice, disarming and effortless, to fantastic effect. And when she leans into her melodic sensibility—languid, melismatic, free—the record really hits stride. The tidal contours of ‘Semaphore’, the melismatic extension of the word ‘minor’ on ‘Minor Justice’ (among the record’s best songs) so that it seems eternal, endless. The compound triple time of ‘Birthplace’, in particular, lets Wasner’s vocals slip merrily over the top of the drums and bass, moon boots that keep the song tethered to the ground. width="100%" height="450" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src=" comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true"> It’s in these playful, meandering melodies that the record’s themes start to emerge. On ‘Everything that Happens’, Wasner continues to untangle that muddle of people and place: “so if here is really there and you are really mine…”. ‘Given/Electric Life’ addresses that attempt to escape the city’s clutches: “I’m running aways to start counting days”. On ‘Semaphore’, Wasner contemplates the comfort she seeks in her new surroundings: “I can tie my own laces/find the solace I seek in other places”. It captures, albeit in big, broad strokes, that moment between the familiar and the new; in the words of Rachel Monroe it is “a kind of monument to those moments when you’re poised on the precipice, that feeling of diving into the new but at the same time looking back at what you’ve left behind.” These are familiar themes to many, but maybe they represent a particular pressure point for a touring musician. Time spent on the road is time spent perpetually baseless, after all. And Wye Oak have certainly spent some time on the road: 305,690 miles across the history of the band, according to big data wizards Songkick. But on If You See Me, Say Yes, it seems those miles have ensured one thing, at least: the musician may be uprooted, but Wasner’s soaring voice and knack for melody remain intact no matter the surroundings. An endearing, very likeable record indeed, and a confident first entry under the Flock of Dimes handle. ![104050]( [...]