Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Helms Alee premiere new track via Pitchfork, announce Sargent House album debut

Seattle trio Helms Alee premiere a new track today via Pitchfork. The tune, "Tumescence" is culled from the band's forthcoming Sargent House debut album, out in February 2014. Listen/share the song on Pitchfork or Soundcloud

Helms Alee's music is exactly the sort of mutant, fantastic hybrid that used to only occasionally erupt out of small, isolated scenes, uninformed by trends of the day - instead inspired by the band's own collective contributions. The Seattle trio's unique amalgam of metal, art rock, pop and punk is charmingly reminiscent of the fertile creativity that groups once had before the Internet seemed to instruct bands to only copy one another. Helms Alee's third album, Sleepwalking Sailors sounds like many styles combined into one, and none of it concerned with any notion other than creating vital, urgent and uniquely characteristic music. 

Bassist/vocalist Dana James, drummer/vocalist Hozoji Matheson-Margullis and guitarist/vocalist Ben Verellen combine a vast array of ideas within a single song, while still sounding entirely cohesive. Their songs are undeniably heavy, but also freely roaming through icy post-punk and warm melodic haze at any given moment. Any given song can be pummeling one moment and then subtly shift into triply harmonies without the listener even realizing what has happened. 

"The weird thing about it," Verellen muses, "is that we've got three different people contributing lyrics, parts and melodies to each song. So, they end up being disjointed by our individual input. We spent 3-1/2 years writing the songs for this album, so it's thematically all over the place."

Sleepwalking Sailors was recorded with engineer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) in Seattle, with intentionally built-in limitations. "We recorded the album to tape in order to confine ourselves from ProTools refining every detail. We ended up with something that sounds really big, but also a bit more aggressive." Helms Alee's previous album Weatherhead was released in 2011 to much acclaim by their longtime label HydraHead just before it went under. Undaunted, and as a testament to the band's strong fan base, Helms Alee originally crowdfunded Sleepwalking Sailors, eventually raising an impressive recording budget. Upon hearing Common's early mixes, Sargent House quickly offered to bring the band onto their management roster and release the new album. Throughout the course of the album's creation, the band's independent aesthetic becomes clear: a dedication to truly representing themselves, regardless of trends and outside influence. 

Album opener "Pleasure Center" kicks off with churning riffs and staccato drums that repeat and morph in a constant build that's equal parts Gang Of Four as it is early Soundgarden. The slithering and perfectly meshed distorted rattle of James' bass with Verellen's climbing, chiming single notes on "Tumescence" lead off with Neurosis style heft, but soon give way to compelling minor-key vocal harmonies laid over the proceedings. Elsewhere, James' and Matheson-Margullis' even more pop-hook leaning vocal harmonies lend a transcendence to the proceedings. "Pinniped" pits near chamber-pop group vocal harmonies against screaming, wailing guitar blasts and thumping tom drum beats. Throughout the album, Helms Alee prove that their unique creative spark is its greatest asset in creating incisive and insightful music.

Sleepwalking Sailors will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download on February 11th, 2014 via Sargent House. 

02/01  Seattle, WA @ Neumos w/ Sandrider, Survival Knife
03/04  Seattle, WA @ Neumos *
03/05  Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom *
03/07  San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall *
03/09  San Diego, CA @ The Casbah *
03/10  Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre *
03/12  Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom *
03/13  Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad *
03/14  Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory *
03/15  Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar *
03/16  Chicago, IL @ Metro *

* w/ Russian Circles, KEN Mode

Artist: Helms Alee
Album: Sleepwalking Sailors
Label: Sargent House
Release date: February 11th, 2014

Track list:
01. Pleasure Center
02. Tumescence (STREAM)
03. Pinniped
04. Dangling Modifiers
05. Heavy Worm Burden
06. Crystal Gale
07. New West
08. Fetus. Carcass.
09. Slow Beef 
10. Animatronic Bionic
11. Dodge The Lightning

On the Web:

Follow Helms Alee on Twitter: @HelmsAleeMusic

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

VEVO hosts worldwide exclusive premiere of M+A video from sophomore album

Click image above to watch video

"No matter the tempo, atmosphere, or style, the duo has the musical abilities, bright ideas, and ear for a lovely melody to make everything sound good." -- All Music Guide

"Nimble and inventive, the pair’s naivety makes for a refreshing take on pop." -- RCRD LBL

Italian artpop duo M+A premiere the stunning new video from their sophomore album These Days today with a worldwide exclusive on VEVO. The clip for "Down The West Side" is directed by Francesco Calabrese and is available to watch/share HERE.

M+A recently shared the second album single, "B Song" which is available as a free download/stream via Soundcloud HERE. The album's lead track, "When" is available to stream/download HERE. M+A launch European tour and festival dates in early December. Please see dates below.

The playful, sophisticated dance pop of M+A's second album These Days is so seamlessly hooky and compelling that upon listening it's hard to imagine a world without it. It's a perfect distillation of a yearning for endless summer.

M+A's 2011 debut Things.Yes was an inventive and spirited exploration of an organic, heartfelt variety of genre-hopping electro-acoustic pop that promised many good things to come from the young artists. But, perhaps nothing could've prepared us for These Days.

M+A is Michele Ducci, 22, (vocals, instruments) and Alessandro Degli Angioli, 25, (instruments) of Forli, Italy. Much like their French neighbors to the northwest, M+A explore dance music as a medium for emotional expression much more than a conduit for cold, cut 'n' pasted samples and beats. M+A's euphoric electronic pop is clever, but not for cleverness' sake. Ducci's earnest and delicate vocals, which hearken to the warmth of Phoenix's Thomas Mars, pair the bittersweet edge found in the best classic pop songs with the buttoned-up retro dance grooves of Beck and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories.

These Days is the result of meticulous collaboration begun in spring 2012, often from great distances with both members frequently on the go. "In this album we tried to experiment mainly with the song form, freeing ourselves of any bias towards any genre," the pair explain. "We haven't tried to remain faithful to anything." Rather than relying on samples, M+A played all of the instruments, apart from the impressive acoustic drumming of Marco Frattini.

From the very first seconds of These Days, the album is off and running with lush hooks driven by the propulsive beats, pizzicato strings and syncopated electric piano of dancefloor-filler "When." The hooks never stop throughout the 11-song, 42-minute album. "B Song" evokes the blue-eyed retro-funk of late 90's era Beck. "Down The West Side" is a masterful slice of sun-drenched pop perfection sure to soundtrack many a summer BBQ or banish those rainy day blues, while songs like "New York There", "Game", "Practical Friday" and "Midnight Radio" easily pair up alongside recent 80s-reminiscent efforts by artists like Daft Punk, The Strokes and Phoenix. With These Days, M+A effectively prove themselves worthy of a place among their more celebrated contemporaries.

The album is available on CD, download and deluxe 180-gram vinyl (300 copies on white vinyl with color printed inner sleeve and a free album CD included inside) via Monotreme Records. Orders of all physical albums from the Monotreme web shop will include free M+A pins and stickers while supplies last, plus one free previously unreleased bonus track download. Digital-only orders will also receive the bonus track.

12/08  Ravenna, IT @ Bronson (w/ Mount Kimbie)
12/09  Milan, IT @ Circolo Magnolia
12/11  Forli, IT @ Diagonal Loft Club
12/13  Ghent, BE @ Glimps Festival
12/19  Torino, IT @ Astoria
12/20  Brescia, IT @ Lio Bar
12/21  Ravenna, IT @ Bronson @ Passatelli in Bronson Festival
12/25  Salerno, IT @ "Amen" Inattività Musicale @ Teatrino Comunale di Via Ripa
12/26  Lecce, IT @ Contronatura Winter Fall
12/28  Ascoli Piceno, IT @ ElectroChristmas Festival
01/03  Modena, IT @ Vibra
01/04  Firenze, IT @ Glue
01/05  Trieste, IT @ Tetris
01/08  Pesaro, IT @ Dalla Cira
01/10  Rome, IT @ Circolo degli Artisti
01/11  Padova, IT @ Mame
01/16  Groningen, NL @ Eurosonic Festival @ News Cafe 

Artist: M+A
Album: These Days
Label: Monotreme Records
Release Date: September 30, 2013

01. When (MP3)
02. B-Song (MP3)
03. Down The West Side (VIDEO)
04. Freetown Solo
05. Game
06. New York There
07. L.E.M.O.N.
08. Practical Friday
09. De-Light
10. Slow
11. Midnight Radio

On The Web:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Qui premiere video via SPIN, announce forthcoming third album

L.A. duo Qui premiere the first video from their forthcoming third album today via SPIN.com. The clip for "Mucho Sex in America" is directed by Laban Pheidias (Justin Timberlake, Billie Joe & Norah Jones, et al.) and available to watch/share HERE (direct Vimeo link). Qui's album Life, Water, Living... will be available in early 2014. Please see track listing and current tour dates below. 

If the third full length by L.A. duo Qui sounds like a radical departure, you probably were never really listening properly in the first place. Sure, perfectly taut vocal harmonies and precise, sparse instrumentation supplants much of the band's early fume-huffing punk-noise here, but their penchant for challenging, button-pushing ideas is stronger than ever. Qui also employed harmonies and experimental structures on their previous album Love's Miracle (2007) with former vocalist David Yow (The Jesus Lizard). But, Life, Water, Living... is clearly the band's most meticulously refined effort at using melody and harmony as subversive weapons. 

After a 5-year absence involving considerable near-death experiences (more on that later), Qui is once again back to the original duo formed in 2000 by drummer/vocalist Paul Christensen and guitarist/vocalist Matt Cronk. Life, Water, Living... features inventive song structures and warped pop sensibilities reminiscent of early Sparks and Frank Zappa with Queen-style harmonies... or something like if Badfinger were the Melvins. Throughout, it's an album that subtly commands attention as it shifts from a soft whisper to a chuckle to a scream. 

Album opener "Kicked Out of Mime College" dares to keep it (deceptively) simple, based primarily around a churning bass riff and soft, but elastic vocal harmonies of Christensen and Cronk, slowly building to rumba percussion breakdowns and a soaring Theremin-like keyboard line. The title track follows with stop and go rhythms as Cronk switches back-and-forth between crunchy power chords and lightly strummed, clean minor chords. Meanwhile, the singers harmonize beautifully, with particularly impressive vocal acrobatics from Christensen (all the more impressive seen live as he pounds on the drums simultaneously). "Mucho Sex in America" takes a revved up ZZ Top boogie riff and stomping drums driven by frantic, paranoid vocals. Elsewhere, tracks like "The Kind of Jazz This Is" and "Awkward Human Interest" employ bossa nova rhythms, cheeky jazz riffs, a cappella passages, light keyboard flourishes and an overall enthusiasm for the unexpected. Life, Water, Living... was produced by renowned engineer Toshi Kasai and Melvins drummer Dale Crover at Entourage Studios in Los Angeles.

Since their first performance in L.A. in early 2001 and the release of their first full-length, Baby Kisses in 2003, Qui (pronounced, "Qui,") maintained a prodigious pace of both local performances and national tours. In late 2006, Qui had the serendipitous good fortune to collaborate with vocalist David Yow of The Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid fame, first as a guest and eventually as a full-time member. The band soon partnered up with Mike Patton's Ipecac Recordings, for their second full-length entitled, Love's Miracle, which was released on September 11, 2007. With it came a full tour of the US and Canada, followed by a trip to the UK and Europe.

After returning home from Europe in Dec of 2007, both Yow and Cronk were hospitalized with life-threatening medical conditions and were forced to cancel a planned Spring tour. The band spent the first half of 2008 licking its collective wounds and were back in action by August with a make-up tour of Europe. In October of 2008 Qui played what would be their last two shows in the US for the next four years. During the next six months they began recording the follow-up to Love's Miracle. The sessions resulted in The Little Golden Blanket, a limited edition seven-inch released in May 2009 on Infrasonic Sound Recordings.

In 2009 Qui was invited to play at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England, along with Devo, Sleep, HEALTH, Harvey Milk, and for the first time in ten years, The Jesus Lizard. The rest of the year had Yow's calendar full with The Jesus Lizard's highly anticipated reunion tour, during which time Christensen focused on two new musical projects; the rock band, Help, and his staggering country/jazz/bossa nova duo, Paulene. Cronk, following a generations-old family tradition, enlisted in the US Army and was deployed to Iraq where he would serve in an elite Special Forces unit the end of his tour of duty in 2011.

After a roadside car bomb nearly claimed his life, Cronk received a Purple Heart and an honorable discharge from the Army in the Spring of 2011. He returned home and began once again to play music with Christensen. With no real agenda, the duo spent the better part of a year writing new music. Yow was by then fully engrossed in his new careers as an actor and artist, unable to commit to playing full-time. So, Qui elected to proceed as their original line-up, with future Yow collaborations an imminent possibility, schedules permitting. In July, 2013, Qui released, "Awkward Human Interest," a limited edition spit 7" single with Mike Watt + The Secondmen on ORG Music. 

Life, Water, Living... will be available February 25th, 2014 on LP, CD and download in partnership with Cobraside Distribution.

11/20 San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern 
11/22 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey w/ Helms Alee
11/23 Portland, OR @ the Porch House w/ Helms Alee

Artist: Qui
Album:  Life, Water, Living...
Label: Cobraside Distribution
Release Date: February 25th, 2014

01. Kicked Out of Mime College
02. Life, Water, Living
03. Mucho Sex in America (VIDEO)
04. Awkward Human Interest
05. Boogie Down Disappointment
06. The Kind of Jazz This Is
07. Proof of Bass
08. Songbirds
09. You're a Girl
10. Whatareeyadoin
11. Ham Spray

On The Web: