More music from Glasgow: Yaya Club

Darren Vincent moved from his native High Lands to Glasgow, venue city, media hotpot, centre of creativity in Scotland. There the singer-songwriter, so he says, can often be found baking banana bread (yummy) and stealing the neighbour’s cat – I hope the two are not connected in any way. He performs under the moniker of Yaya Club.

His first release was the EP “Poor Sheesht”, pure American tradition, beautifully rendered. Then followed “Born In The Eighties” featuring a lush band sound. The man takes folk, country, pop and blues and makes it all his own. Does he ever write a huge big profile about himself? Er, nope. But he can blather, preferably on stage. And I imagine a YaYa Club gig to be musically intense, professionally executed with loads and loads of funny natter in between!

If you cannot make it to one of his gigs, either solo, or supporting or playing with others, you can listen to loads of Yaya Club’s tracks on his soundcloud page.

Why am I telling you all this? BECAUSE Darren Vincent is working on new stuff, a new album is coming in a few weeks, during holiday time, so for crying out loud: Don’t miss it,  watch this space!

Here are a few tracks for your delectation:

(Sorry, have to compose myself here, hanging off the chair laughing, listening to “Fluffy Sheep”…I would also like to introduce you to “Geez A Swatch” merely for the title which translates as “Let me have a look”. But now, guys, seriously…)

From the forthcoming album, this is “Wandering Girl”:

And old favourite “Sometimes”

 

 

Whale Bones

Whale Bones are just a two-some: Nathan Kane on vocals/guitar and Paul Lierman on drums. Not to be mixed up with Whalebones in one word, please! Whale Bones are at home in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. and they make this rocking, rich, lush, warm music that only can come from the US.

Drums are being drummed, guitar is being played and lyrics and melodies are being sung and not just so but intensely  with an aptitude for a fine melodious alternative rock song. May I thank them here for letting me have a pre-listen to their new EP – dearest readers, something to look forward to in July!

In last spring Nathan and Paul spent a week in Florida to be creative. The result will be The Seaside EP to be released in July 2015. The EP explores the progression of self-regret and eventual forgiveness which is bound to be interesting.

Last week they have released a video for one of the songs of the EP, so we can all have a glimpse and a listen together: “Hiding From The Sea”

Coastal Tones – New Album by Orphan Boy

Avid readers of this blog will have come across Orphan Boy and I have also indulged the dear listeners of my radio shows with Orphan Boy tracks. Hark now, here comes Coastal Tone – new album by Orphan Boy.  To get the ones who missed these opportunities up to date: Orphan Boy are Rob Cross on guitar/vocals, Paul “Smithy” Smith on bass, Chris Day on drums and Sam Carlton on sax/guitar/keys. They call Cleethorpes in Northern England their home and went to Manchester to try their luck.

This happened in 2010 after the release of their first album “Shop Local” in 2008 which Orphan Boy describe as council pop (which has a very funny double meaning as “council pop” is also a name for tap water. Their second album “Passion, Pain & Loyalty” sounded a tad more experimental and dealt – amongst other subjects – with the pitfalls of the music industry. That is, if you even get close to the music industry. Orphan Boy wrote, played and toured, then toured some more, then…you get the drift. You have a band there, that knows how to play live which is a blessing. Even if the major music industry deserted them, Orphan Boy have something they have both well-earned and can be proud of: A very loyal and loving fanbase and a dedicated label and management in Concrete Records. But they chucked it in in 2011…

Thankfully, they came back by popular demand and because they felt an urgent need to continue and get it out of their system and thus gave us “Coastal Tones”, their third album, released on May 26th 2015 (Concrete Records).

And what a corker of an album “Coastal Tones” has become. That drive, that hypnotic sound, that urgent voice, that knack for melodies, those guitars, the composition, the lyrics…I am sounding incoherent, I know, but let me try to put this in one sentence: Orphan Boy have created a classic and it is truly their own. They were very true to themselves and the album breathes that in every single song.

Lyrically a lot of the songs are about small towns, often former industrial towns and their being overlooked, unfairly so, as they offer homes, community spirit, support, and yes, pride and beauty despite their appearance to the superficial onlooker. Sadness and the past as well as haunting places are felt but become not so much something suffocating but are acknowledged in the looking forward to the future. This is how it feels to me.

The music mirrors the lyrics and the images and emotions they evoke so perfectly in every track, it is spooky. If you want me to liken the music to other bands, some spring to mind, but Orphan Boy are Orphan Boy and “Coastal Tones” was born out of letting go listening to: Silence.

Coastal Tones offers you a whacking 10 tracks, let’s have a look a them:

Beats Like Distant Tides was the first single off the album and sets the tone in the driving rhythm section, a “stuck-in-your-ear-for-days-melody”, the clever use of instruments and that melancholy, that sweet melancholy that does not make you surrender but continue.

Sunken Hearts continues in this vein, veers towards more pop song than driving rocker though. Lovely arrangements.

Transpennie has this incredible drum drive again which kicks in after a quiet start – this is a travelling, a moving song and indeed it is about train journeys. Some beautiful guitars in here as well. The vocals sear over the music and make together with the guitars for a very hypnotic sound.

On A Nelson Skyline slows down the pace a little just tempo wise and would be a perfect companion to sit in a caf on a rainy day and watch people or getting home in rush hour on a bleak winter’s day…ah stop me…it befits all seasons and all surroundings really that have a little greyness about them with warmth lurking. Oooooh, nice sax!

From The Provinces is the second single and the very track that lists the overlooked towns. It has a definite 80’s feel to it but in a good way. (It’s the keyboards perhaps).

Money To Money has loads to offer, apart from the usual goodies, a lot of interesting tempi changes, nice harmonies and it could become a real anthem.

Clover kicks in right away with those far-away, high-above vocals in quite a high voice (usually baritone is my thing, but it suits the urgency and the wistfulness of the songs perfectly). Sumptuous guitars galore.

Bury Your Stars starts out with some harmony singing and develops into an ever faster rocker, like a merry-go-round that we are all flying off at some stage.

Coastal Tones is the title track and drives shudders down your back with the incredibly bleak sax section at the beginning and the beats kick in and a very sad melody that reflect the lyrics of monotony of a working life. The day fading in a seaside resort, the music conjures up every single image.

Thirtysomething Lovers Ballad stands out as almost-spoken-word track, the vocals very much in the foreground. A description of life in a grim northern seaside town. “We wash away those dreams”. The rhythm section again drives on relentlessy, the guitars emphasise the madness of life. And yet, there is hope. (And, wow, seagulls at the end).

Now, I am off to listen to Orphan Boy’s “Coastal Tones” again, a classic, may I repeat, both lyrically and musically and as Northern England as can be and yet it stands for description of small working-class town life and you can listen to it now here, too:

Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler Interview

Somewhere I read that only real music nerds into a certain kind of music who have a pastime of perusing credits will have heard of Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler. In my humble opinion, anyone who listens to music could not fail to come across the two lately.

Mary Lattimore is a harpist who plays her extraordinary instrument with virtuosity beyond all genres. She played with Thurston Moore, Kurt Vile & The Violators, Sharon van Etten, Meg Baird, to name but a few. She also released her EP The Withdrawing Room on which she already got supported via tonal soundbed by Jeff Zeigler.

Jeff Zeigler in turn is a musician, band member of Arc In Round and producer, sound engineer, tour sound engineer for all the Philadelphia greats such as Kurt Vile, Purling Hiss, The War On Drugs and (soon to come) The Morelings’ debut full album (which I am so happy about). He also mixed Steve Gunn’s latest album Way Out Weather and currently, together with Mary Lattimore is support act for Steve Gunn & Band on the European leg of his tour.

But before I prattle on, you can read all this in the interview the two so kindly gave me on the occasion of their gig in Hasselt, Belgium, May 26th 2015. Again, just like for the Steve Gunn interview, the audio files will go up here a little later. I also include some photos, but it was sooooo dark….

Again, grab your chance to see Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler with their awesome project supporting Steve Gunn on his tour right now, or should you have missed it, definitely at a later stage and also have a listen to their beautiful, unlike no other, album “Slant of Light” (Thrill Jockey Records) – oooooh, even in limited edition vinyl.

Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler / Slant of Light

Question: Mary, you picked the possibly most expensive, certainly most cumbersome and most difficult instrument to play, the harp. How did you decide on the harp as a kid?

Mary: My Mum is a harpist and so I grew up with it. She’s got harpist friends. It was just in my house all the time. My Mum is always practising. She plays for an orchestra too. I went to see her play a lot when I was a kid. It came naturally.

Question: You must have gone through years of classical training (Mary sighs). Was there ever a point where you felt like chucking it in?

Mary: Yeah, definitely (laughs). I guess, in high school it is not that fun to get ready for the prom in a McDonalds bathroom because you have a recital you have to play right beforehand. It is just sort of a nerdy thing to do but it is really fun – now. Love it.

Question: Once you had the basic training you could find your own style which kind of transcends all genres. What does inspire you?

Mary addresses Jeff (“Jeff?”) to help her out – Jeff feels addressed as “the inspiration” and is a bit flustered.
Jeff: What inspires YOU? Mary: His name is Jeff. Jeff: Yes…oh, I SEE! I was like suggestions are welcome…(big laughter).
Mary: I dunno, lots of things, landscapes, places, just sort of translating how I feel when I am hanging out somewhere, the feel of places. I listen to a lot of music, too, different artists.

Question: What’s your connection to Philadelphia like?

Mary: It’s cool. I have been there ten years. We have a lot of musician friends, very good scene there. Lots of collaborators, creative things going on. It is really fun. A good place.

Question: Jeff, to most of us producer and sound technician of the album of the year 2014 (The War On Drugs’ “Lost in the dream” (Jeff chuckles: “Yeah, one of them.”) but also multi-instrumentalist, band member, collaborator in many projects. Would you tell us a bit about your biography? What did you start out as?

Jeff: Yeah, I played guitar a lot when I was a kid, in high school and before that. And then I stopped and started doing other stuff all the time. Lost the interest in that from the angle that I was doing it as a kid. It was all hardcore stuff and that can only go so far. Then I rediscovered guitar in college at the same time that I started a recording class. I would borrow the recording equipment and write and relearned how to play guitar. The two became gelled together, so I always thought of the process of making the music and recording the music at the same time. And that sparked it from there.
The term multi-instrumentalist is a bit misleading because in the studio, there is a lot of cheating involved. So I ended up playing a lot of instruments but probably at a skill-level that is below than someone like Mary, her insane virtousity.
But there is a level of trickery where you can create a more intricate mass of things. (Mary: He’s having a great ear!) An overall aesthetic is beyond everything, yeah, to possess an aesthetic…whatever that is. It seems to translate somehow.

Question: Do you find that the creative and the engineering side complement each other or do they sometimes disagree?
Jeff: They generally complement each other. I think the talent for a while was to find the balance between the two because it can be so all-consuming to be working on records. And the same for art and artists. It is very hard not to be consumed by that. That and trying to keep a focus on making music. There is that itch, when not scratched, you are going all crazy. But I figured out to make a balance that I am happy with at his point.

Question: I was thinking about that. You are going on tour, quite a long tour and meanwhile people are queuing up at your door wanting production work done. How do you get it all done?
Jeff: Before I left there were a lot of 18 hour days to finish up everything. Yeah, but I know. Generally, it gets a little crazy sometimes. But there are also times when it is not like that at all. I find myself taking on more than I should. But there is not so much you can do about it. Short answer: I dunno!
I love my work, it does not really feel like work – maybe on hour 17 it starts beginning to feel a bit strenuous.

Question: You are both from Philadelphia or moved there quite a while ago. How did you first meet, did you have friends in common or have you know each other forever?

Mary: I was touring with Thurston Moore and Jeff was touring with Kurt Vile as his sound guy and we all hang out at the tour together. Jeff and I, we have a bunch of mutual friends. We always heard about each other, been in the same bar. But we had not really hung out until that time.
Jeff: Mary was about to start working on a solo record and she talked to Kurt (Vile) about it and Kurt suggested potentially us working together. And then we did. There was a point at which I helped processing. She is all involved in her harp processing, effects on the fly. And I added some other processing on top and the side, some synths. Then we played together.
Mary: Then we decided to make it some sort of a project.

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Question: You have done music to a silent film together but your first proper album together “Slant Of Light” came out now. How do work together, do you sit together and start jamming?

Mary: That’s it, basically. That whole record was improvised. We did take a couple of takes. We improvised and then were like, ok, let’s do this again. First or second take. I think, it was a lot about the environment. It was super snowy in Philly. We were stuck in the studio. I spent the night at Jeff’s that night. We couldn’t move out of the studio at all. That was one or two years ago.
Jeff: Yes, we were holed up for a few days in the middle of the winter.
Mary: Was that last year?
Jeff: It was two winters ago. It was the last of the winter storms. We had had quite a lot that year. That kind of set the tone for us. The last track on the last side, we did that in one take – the darkest of them all. But there are a few popular short tracks, Mary started that one and I go: Oh, that sounds nice and I tried the guitar and that was not easy.
Mary: And then we just recorded it.
Jeff: Yeah, and play the track a few times. But that was probably the most refined process for any of them.
Mary: It was pretty laid back. Jeff’s studio is really, what’s the word, not “cohesive”. It lends itself to that kind of…
Jeff: It is conducive to.
Mary: Conducive to!!! It is conducive to that kind of thing. It is very cosy. It feels like a good place.
Jeff: It is not like a sterile environment, really, instruments everywhere.

Question: I hope the “Welsh Corgis In The Snow” did not spring from that?

(General merriment).
Jeff: They are frozen in the snow.
Mary: Corgi blood in the snow.

Question: Your music reminds me – maybe not so much in style – but sort of the atmosphere it conveys of The Durutti Column. Do your musical tastes sometimes clash or what you want to convey?

Mary: I dunno.
Jeff: I dunno either.
Mary: I think we have similar taste in music, stuff we like to listen to.
Jeff: Yeah, hm, hard to answer. Not necessarily, no. There are times, like on the tour the last few days, when you are completely improvising a set, we are coming from different angles. Because when you do an improvised set during the whole tour, it starts feeling less improvised, less spontaneous, so have to figure out ways to spark it. We talk about it when we go back to some stuff that we already know and working that off too.
Mary: You’ll hear the song “Welsh Corgis in the snow tonight”, for example.
(Me: The song is beautiful, but it is just a very funny title).
Mary: I knoooow.
Jeff: It’s pretty ridiculous.Yeah, we come from a lot of the same places musically. It makes it a lot easier.

Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler, Hasselt, May 26th '15

Question: It is possibly also about sensing what the other half wants to express. You cannot possibly shout on stage: No, I did not mean THAT!

Jeff: I think, we both kind of know where we want to go to some extent at this point. I like to make more of an atmospheric bed for Mary. The more intricate, the more dynamic – there is a certain response to that. If we both constantly tried to take the fore, we would not be as successful or effective. I am creating a sonic bed for what she is doing which is a bit more on the composition end of it.

Question: Mary, I heard you were once using a battery on the harp strings?

Mary: A battery??? Where did you hear THAT (Me: Can’t remember.) I once used a screwdriver but not on stage. (Me: Would have been very Einstürzende Neubauten anyway, a battery.)

Question: Your album is not something to listen to in the background, well, maybe some people do. But you have to really immerse yourself and get rewarded. Is this album difficult to reproduce on stage?

Mary: I don’t think so, only that White Balloon song. We don’t get the feeling right.
Jeff: Also from a practical standpoint, I’d have to play guitar which is otherwise not part of the set at all, at least not for right now. Generally we go the same way we produced the record: We have loose idea and go from there. It’s never going to be the exact same as on the record. So it is more the spirit.
Mary: I feel like that is the point of the project, not to make it exactly the same every time. It is all about creating some colours, a vibe, a mood.
Jeff: Yeah, just kind of keep it loose, not so much like a traditional band.

Question: So, how has the tour (with Steve Gunn) been so far?

Mary: So far, good. Steve is a really good friend, we worked together and it is great touring with him and the band.
Me: How are the audiences?
Mary: Yeah, everybody has been super quiet.
Jeff: Audiences have been great. I think, in general, Steve’s audiences are a bit more open-minded. It is not as if we were touring with a traditional rock band. There is a bit of an open-minded audience appreciating the contrast. Also, there is something about a harp that commands a little respect. Like: Holy shit! Something serious is about to happen.

A big thank you to Mary & Jeff who surely must be some of the loveliest, funniest people I have met lately! They complement Steve Gunn & Band perfectly on this tour, their album is a sheer joy and thank you:-)