Mute Records recently announced the signing of Land Observations, alongside debut album Roman Roads IV – XI, set to release on September 4th, 2012.
For the uninitiated, Land Observations represents the solo project of James Brooks. He made his first major public appearance at the Short Circuit, the Mute Festival at the Roundhouse in May 2011. Brooks’ previous outfit, Appliance, released four critically lauded albums via Mute before disbanding.
During his post-Appliance hiatus, Brooks further nurtured his acumen for visual and audio art, which consisted of various shows across the UK, North America and Europe. His last exhibition, The Information Exchange, was at Domobaal, London, WC1 until August 2012. In Land Observations, Brooks continues to stress commensurate importance to visual components that help accentuate certain aspects of his sound. The solo project also emphasizes Brooks’ fascination with minimalism, achieved through fastidiously layered, repetitive electric VI string guitar — a method that evokes warmth in his instrumentals.
Roman Roads isn’t an entirely solipsistic exercise, either. A great deal of research went into the album’s historical underpinnings: the former Roman roads that remain just outside his flat in Hackney, East London, stretching from the old City of London and out across parts of Britain. According to Mute’s press release:
Although Brooks spent considerable time researching Roman roads, with each of the compositions responding to the psychogeography of an individual road – this is not just a historical project, or an attempt to look only into the past. There is an obvious fascination with Roman Roads as man made structures, with their bold lines carving through the landscape, creating an album that’s a reflection on the broader ideas of travel, momentum and progress.
As mentioned above, Roman Roads IV – XI releases on Mute on CD, vinyl and digital download this September. Packaging will feature original drawings by Brooks himself. If any of this at all piques your interest, don’t miss the SoundCloud stream of the album’s track, “Appian Way,” embedded below:
VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO
For the full tracklist of the reissue, see our post notes*.
Via Prescription PR (UK), Goodbye, Labrador, a fourtet with respective roots in Brooklyn, Barcelona, and Prague, are to set to release their debut EP, A Thousand Times Before, on August 6th (Dead Fisherman Records). The band is especially characterized by their guitar-led, dreamy textures and punk and post-punk-laden homages to the chugging, staccato baselines of Pavement, Interpol, and XX (albeit, I hear a great deal of Peter Bjorn and John in their vocal stylings). From the Prescription PR press release:
Formed in 2008 in a dimly-lit bar in Barcelona’s neighbourhood of Grácia, eager to create the band decided to use their shared love of early 80s punk and post-punk, to 90s art rock. They began recording demos before relocating to different cities. Later, they reunited for their first shows in Portugal, which earned them many fans.
Long distance relationships are gut-wrenchingly difficult. Producing an album long distance is something entirely different—and exponentially more challenging.
The early days proved to be quite difficult. It meant long days writing in musty rehearsal rooms and countless nights sleeping on foreign beds and couches on both sides of the Atlantic. Song ideas were traded by email, band meetings held via Skype. A great idea that was inspired at midnight in New York had to wait until the next day to be heard in Europe.
In 2010, NYC, the band recorded and produced their self-titled debut, featuring catchy vocal duets over layered guitars and mechanical rhythms. In 2011, following performances in the US and Europe, the band began work on their follow-up release in Lisbon, Portugal.
The band describes their work sessions as intense and consuming, requiring monk-like dedication. But they have grown together through these immersive experiences, forging deep friendships and a shared creative voice. When asked about what being in Goodbye, Labrador has meant to him, singer Martin Pípal simply responds, “to belong where I want to belong.”
Goodbye, Labrador are: Martin Pípal (Guitar, Vocals); Phil Gold (Guitar, Percussion, Vocals); Gonçalo Hipolito Martins (Bass, Vocals); and J. M. Silverman (Drums, Percussion).
Don’t miss their six-track SoundCloud stream, embedded below:
Three months ago, I reviewed Cold Specks’ masterful album, I Predict A Graceful Expulsion. If you missed the review back in May, be sure to catch it here (for the sake of the album, of course, not the review). Don’t miss Specks’ latest music video for “Winter Solstice,” embedded below for your viewing wonts. It’s quite a heartbreaker. Cold Specks has upcoming shows in Brooklyn, Seattle, and Los Angeles. For a full, live listing of tour dates, go here.
The band has recently been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, along with Grimes, Japandroids, and Feist. Much deserved.
For the introspective, folk-driven types yearning for yesterday’s classic songwriting, Harry Oakwood is there for you. His band draws on the sonorous specters of The Band and Patrick Watson by using deceptively effortless, albeit flawless three-part harmonies and analog instrumentation. If you find it’s your cup, listen to their EP on SoundCloud here, and don’t miss the music video for their campfire-friendly track, “Empty Chair,” embedded below.
Last but most importantly: [Via PitchFork.com] The seminal, late/great singer-songwriter Elliott Smith’s former label, Kill Rock Stars, put out a series of rare, unreleased tracks recently, beginning with an alternate studio session of Elliott’s “Alameda,” whose official version was first released in his 1997 full-length, Either/Or. This version of the song contains different lyrics:
Kill Rock Stars is also set to reissue Either/Or on 180-gram vinyl sometime this month to commemorate Smith’s upcoming birthday on August 6th. The 6th also marks the day that the label plans to sell its 2010 compilation, An Introduction To … for $4.99. If you sign up for the mailing list on launch day, you’ll receive a special gift, the details of which are unknown at the moment. Lastly, be sure to watch Jem Cohen’s 1997 Elliott Smith film, Lucky Three, embedded below.
Featured image by Autumn de Wilde, http://www.fishercenter.bard.edu
*Velvet Underground & Nico (Re-issue tracklist):
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO V6-5008 (stereo version)
Originally issued as Verve V6-5008, March 1967.
1. SUNDAY MORNING 2.54
2. I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN 4.37
3. FEMME FATALE 2.37
4. VENUS IN FURS 5.10
5. RUN RUN RUN 4.20
6. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES 5.58
7. HEROIN 7.10
8. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN 2.38
9. I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR 2.12
10. THE BLACK ANGEL’S DEATH SONG 3.12
11. EUROPEAN SON 7.46
12 . ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES (alternate single voice version) 5.58
13. EUROPEAN SON (alternate version) 9.06
14. HEROIN (alternate version) 6.15
15. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES (alternate instrumental mix) 5.58
16. I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (alternate mix) 2.16
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO V-5008 (mono version)
Originally issued as Verve V-5008, March 1967.
1. SUNDAY MORNING 2.55
2. I’M WAITING FOR THE MAN 4.46
3. FEMME FATALE 2.38
4. VENUS IN FURS 5.13
5. RUN RUN RUN 4.24
6. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES 5.59
7. HEROIN 7.14
8. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN 2.41
9. I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR 2.14
10. THE BLACK ANGEL’S DEATH SONG 3.12
11. EUROPEAN SON 7.57
12. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES 2.49
13. I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (alternate ending) 2.17
Mono single, issued as Verve VK-10427, July 1966.
14. SUNDAY MORNING (alternate mix) 2.56
15. FEMME FATALE 2.37
Mono single, Verve VK-10466, released December 1966.
NICO: CHELSEA GIRL
Originally issued as Verve V6-5032, October 1967.
1. THE FAIREST OF THE SEASONS 4.10
2. THESE DAYS 3.34
3. LITTLE SISTER 4.27
4. WINTER SONG 3.20
5. IT WAS A PLEASURE THEN 8.06
6. CHELSEA GIRLS 7.27
7. I’LL KEEP IT WITH MINE 3.21
8. SOMEWHERE THERE’S A FEATHER 2.20
9. WRAP YOUR TROUBLES IN DREAMS 5.10
10. EULOGY TO LENNY BRUCE 3.46
DISC FOUR / DISC TWO DELUXE EDITION.
SCEPTER STUDIOS SESSIONS:
Acetate cut on April 25, 1966
1. EUROPEAN SON (alternate version) 9.03 *
2. THE BLACK ANGEL’S DEATH SONG (alternate mix) 3.18 *
3. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES (alternate version) 5.57 *
4. I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR (alternate version) 2.11 **
5. HEROIN (alternate version) 6.17 *
6. FEMME FATALE 2.36 (alternate mix) **
7. VENUS IN FURS (alternate version) 4.39 **
8. WAITING FOR THE MAN (alternate version) 4.15 **
9. RUN RUN RUN 4.23 (alternate mix) **
* from tape / ** from acetate
THE FACTORY REHEARSALS:
January 1966 rehearsal, previously unreleased.
10. WALK ALONE 3.28
11. CRACKING UP / VENUS IN FURS 3.52
12. MISS JOANIE LEE 11.49
13. HEROIN 6.17
14. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN (with NICO) 2.09
15. THERE SHE GOES AGAIN 2.56
LIVE AT VALLEYDALE BALLROOM, COLUMBUS, OHIO:
1. MELODY LAUGHTER 28.26
2. FEMME FATALE 2.37
3. VENUS IN FURS 4.45
4. THE BLACK ANGEL’S DEATH SONG 4.49
5. ALL TOMORROW’S PARTIES 5.03
LIVE AT VALLEYDALE BALLROOM, COLUMBUS, OHIO:
1. WAITING FOR THE MAN 4.50
2. HEROIN 6.42
3. RUN RUN RUN 8.43
4. THE NOTHING SONG 27.56