New Selections — TR/ST, Charles Bradley, Earthen Sea, Pinkish Black, Blossom, Siskiyou, Boy Harsher, Spirits Having Fun

I've been playing catch-up.

TR/ST: "Gone"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR / House Arrest / DAZED / YouTube)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:

TR/ST has shared the new video for “Gone”, the soaring electronic pop first single from his new LP The Destroyer - 1 out now on Grouch/House Arrest. Directed by LA filmmaker Jordan Hemmingway, the visual accompaniment to "Gone" is bursting with vivid colours and lens flare around TR/ST mainman Robert Alfons' dramatic and dark to camera performance.

Jordan Hemingway about the making of the video:
"Shot in a cavern in the hills of Los Angeles, the music video for 'Gone' is a visual homage to an era of music videos I grew up to. The jarring angles and visuals mixed with vivid color are meant to match the haunting vocals that sit beautifully over an upbeat sound."

Robert Alfons adds: "Filmed over the course of one weekend, I think Jordan did a fantastic job capturing the feeling of desperation and shame in this intimate video."
Releasing in two parts, The Destroyer - 1 and The Destroyer - 2, the first LP is out now with the second 8 track installment coming in November 2019 both on Grouch via House Arrest. Together the The Destroyer LPs are one piece but will be distributed as two stand-alone albums, different sides of the same coin. The Destroyer will be TR/ST's much anticipated third album. It follows the two previous records, 2012's self-titled release and 2014's Joyland. TR/ST is now in the middle of a tour that covers North America. Dates are below. Order the LP here.

Tour Dates:
04/26 - Toronto, ON | Phoenix Concert Theatre
04/27 - Montreal, QC | Corona Theatre
05/01 - Boston, MA | Brighton Music Hall
05/02 - Brooklyn, NY | Elsewhere*
05/03 - Brooklyn, NY | Elsewhere (Sold Out)
05/04 - Philadelphia. PA | Underground Arts
05/05 - Washington, DC | U Street Music Hall
05/09 - Detroit, MI | El Club
05/10 - Chicago, IL | Lincoln Hall
05/11 - Minneapolis, MN | Fine Line Music Cafe
05/14 - Portland, OR | Wonder Ballroom
05/15 - Seattle, WA | Neumos
05/17 - San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall
05/18 - Los Angeles, CA | The Fonda Theatre (Sold Out)
6/7 - Mexico City, MX | Sempra IR
06/08 - Austin, TX | Austin Terror Fest
*second show added

“The giant agaves outside my home only bloom every 20 or 30 years. Being around that was a powerful lesson in slowness. And in tenacity.” Robert Alfons says that accepting a radical change of pace was key in making The Destroyer, his new album under the moniker TR/ST.

In the five years since releasing
Joyland, TR/ST’s last full-length album, Alfons wrote and recorded songs in a farmhouse in southern Ontario and in Los Angeles—where he has relocated—and worked with an all-star cast of collaborators.
Maya Postepski, Alfons’s collaborator on the 2012 Juno Award-nominated debut TRST, co-wrote and co-produced six of the album’s songs, and Alfons worked with co-producers Lars Stalfors and Damian Taylor to refine the album’s sound. But he found the key ingredient to creating the driving, anthemic songs on the album—which will be released in two parts; the first on April 19, 2019 and the second in November, 2019—was patience.

“The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With The Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

“Iris,” the first song Alfons wrote for the album, began to take shape near the end of 2014, just before Alfons moved to Los Angeles. He credits the city with contributing greatly to the album. “It’s this huge, polarized, frantic place, bursting with sound,” he says, “But it can also be lonely and alienating. In a way, that contrast became a kind of inspiration for the new work.”

“Iris” would end up setting the tone for what became a collection of 16 tracks.
“Lyrically and thematically, ‘Iris’ characterizes what so much of this record is about,” Alfons says. “Sonically, it teeters between warmth, melody and exhilaration on one hand, and isolating, industrial hardness on the other. That was a contrast I wanted to play with from the beginning.”

Indeed, the first part of The Destroyer, which is comprised of eight songs, highlights industrial and dream pop influences on songs like “Colossal” and “Gone,” where Alfons’ knack for shimmering sounds and powerful vocals are on display. The second part reveals a more mellow, intimate side of the artist. however TR/ST’s trademark sound, which has been lauded in outlets including Pitchfork, FADER, and NME, is present throughout.

Following Alfons’ first releases, The New Yorker wrote, "The songs are buoyed by crystalline drum machines and chilling synths, and capped with Alfons' forceful vocals, which alternate between a feminine falsetto and a brittle, witchy monotone." Though this knack for the unexpected stays strong with The Destroyer, the album “is much more emotionally tumultuous than the earlier releases,” Alfons says. “It’s also much darker and more sincere.”

If there’s a theme that sums up the process of making this record, it’s the deconstruction of shame. “When I was a child, making music was a necessity for me in order to feel sane,” Alfons says. “It was a way to understand and overcome blockages I couldn’t necessarily define. And in a way this album was a return to that, to letting the music guide my growth, rather than vice versa.”

Alfons will follow the release of both parts of The Destroyer with U.S. and international tour dates throughout 2019.



Charles Bradley: "Lonely As You Are"
(via Big Hassle / Innit Recordings / YouTube)

Via Big Hassle:

In late 2016, Charles Bradley faced his greatest challenge in a lifetime filled with challenges. A stomach cancer diagnosis earlier that fall forced him off the road at the peak of his career. Weakened by months of chemotherapy, facing a potentially life threatening surgery and confronting his own mortality, Bradley stepped into a home recording studio in Queens, NY and spontaneously created “Lonely as You Are.”

Eyes closed and seated, Bradley listened to the looping track and began to speak and sing lyrics on the spot, expressing hope that
“one day when God says well done” he’d be reunited in heaven with his mother, grandmother, and other loved ones. He concludes the cathartic recording with the statement: “I love you. And this is Charles Bradley. I hope this one day gets out to the world.”

Bradley’s hope is fulfilled with the release today of “Lonely as You Are” (with Bradley backed by Seth Avett and Mike Marsh from the Avett Brothers, along with co-producers James Levy and Paul Defiglia) to be followed in May by another track from that session, “Lucifer.” These are Bradley’s final recordings.

“Charles knew ‘Lonely as You Are’ could comfort people and help them find a way to deal with their own loneliness. He was always looking for ways to make people feel better, even when he was confronting his own pain and suffering. He asked that ‘Lonely’ be played at his funeral; he wanted to share it with the world,” says Executive Producer Morton Lorge, Bradley’s former co-manager (with his partner, current Def Jam EVP/GM Rich Isaacson).

These sessions marked an improbable collaboration between Bradley and NYC recording artist, songwriter and producer James Levy. Working out of his Queens home studio, Levy was recording demos for a follow-up to a previous album produced by Guy Berryman of Coldplay and an EP released by Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records. Levy shared the chorus and music of “Lonely as You Are” with Bradley, who wrote verses on the spot.

To finish the tracks, Levy and Lorge enlisted Nashville producer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia, who had spent the previous five years recording and touring with the Avett Brothers and Langhorne Slim. Defiglia, who plays bass, piano and organ on both tracks, brought in Avett Brothers colleagues Seth Avett (acoustic guitar) and Mike Marsh (drums) for “Lonely.”

12 time Grammy winner Jay Newland mixed “Lonely as You Are” and two time Grammy nominee Alan Silverman mastered it. Giles Clement, of Nashville, shot the cover photo during the 2017 Newport Folk Festival.

The Bradley-Levy-Defilgia collaboration lead to Somebody - a James Levy album produced by Paul Defiglia and recorded in Nashville. Songs of Love, the first release from that album, along with an official music video by Crackerfarm, will also be released by Innit Recordings, on May 10, 2019.

The remarkable against-all-odds rise of Charles Bradley since the release of his 2011 debut album No Time For Dreaming has been well documented. Transcending a life in the streets, Bradley went from extreme poverty and homelessness to performing sold out shows and making national TV and festival appearances around the world, including at Coachella, Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, SXSW and many more. Poull Brien's 2012 documentary -- Charles Bradley: Soul of America-- gave a glimpse into how Bradley turned pain and heartbreak into joy and love. One of the great live performers of his time, Bradley’s 2016 appearance on CBS This Morning: Saturday was nominated for a 2017 Daytime Emmy award for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.” In celebration of his amazing life and to commemorate what would have been Bradley’s 70th birthday, Daptone Records imprint Dunham Records in November 2018 released Black Velvet -- a collection of ten songs recorded during the sessions from each of his previous three albums, produced by Tom Brenneck and performed by the Menahan Street Band.

Innit Recordings is a record label based in NYC. Current artists include Lolawolf, James Levy and Crewshade. 

Charles Bradley links:


Earthen Sea: "Shallow, Shadowless"
(via Rarely Unable / kranky / Soundcloud)

Via Rarely Unable:

Jacob Long’s reductionist rhythmic ambient vessel, Earthen Sea, ebbs towards a more purely elemental state on his second excursion for Kranky, Grass and Trees. He describes the creative process as one of “simplifying things as much as possible,” designing uncluttered spaces traced in nothing but breath, field recordings, and “sounds that could be played by hand but weren’t.” The results feel decentralised but dynamic, low-lit evocations of ambiguous nocturnal environments – dub techno disassembled into stray pulses and spare parts. It’s a music both interior and infinite, languorous yet transformative, made in the outer boroughs of a metropolis but attuned to its own liminal wilderness.

Long’s vision is a grounding one, rooted in the physical body but attuned to larger currents:
“In response to living in a fairly hectic city, and at a very hectic time for the world at large, creating something more drawn back and restrained felt appropriate.”


Pinkish Black: "Until"
(via Earsplit PR / Relapse Records / YouTube)

Via Earsplit PR:

Texas experimental duo PINKISH BLACK will release their fourth full-length, Concept Unification, on June 14th via Relapse Records.

Concept Unification is the band's most adventurous record to date. Each of its six tracks explore the innermost depths of forward-thinking doom rock, as psychedelic undertones collide with dark, crushing heaviness. Brooding synthesizers on Concept Unification's opening title track give way to the impending melancholy found on "Dial Tone" while the progressive flourishes of "Petit Mal" showcase PINKISH BLACK's ability to manipulate dark ambience. Album closer "Next Solution" presents a somber, contemplative piano performance front-and-center, before exploding into a dramatic whirl of choirs and rhythmic pummeling. Concept Unification is a beast of its own, pontificating on themes of anxiety, futility, and emptiness, and finding PINKISH BLACK as vital to the independent scene as ever.

Concept Unification will be available on CD, LP, and digital formats. Physical packages are available for preorder via HERE. Digital downloads and streaming services are available HERE.

Concept Unification Track Listing:
1. Concept Unification
2. Until
3. Dial Tone
4. Petit Mal
5. Inanimatronic
6. Next Solution
7. Away Again (Bonus Track)
8. We Wait (Bonus Track)

Daron Beck - vocals, synths, keyboards
Jon Teague - drums, synths


Blossom: "Moi å Moi"
(via Michael Mehalick / Earmilk / Soundcloud)

Via Michael Mehalick/Good Eye Records:

Excited to share that Portland-based artist Blossom is getting ready to release her debut album, Maybe. Today, she's sharing its latest single, "Moi å Moi," which premiered via Earmilk.

On the track, Blossom reflects;
"Me to me, moi a moi - talking to myself about being careless in decisions and the reasons I make them. Self-reflection when my wants become toxic to myself."

Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, singer Blossom calls Portland, OR home where she has become one of the most hotly tipped on-the-rise artists in the city. She spent her childhood playing in a steel drum band with family members and that set the tone for her taste in instruments & energy that she uses in her music today.

For Blossom this new album is a coming of age story. “Take me as I am and either come along for the ride of me finding myself or stay out of my way!”


Siskiyou: "What Ifs"
(via Rarely Unable / Constellation / YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Constellation is excited to share a new track entitled "What Ifs"; from Siskiyou's forthcoming album Not Somewhere in anticipation of the LP's official release on 17 May. "What Ifs" emphasises Colin Huebert's deeply personal songwriting aesthetic by layering vulnerable, foreboding lyrics with deftly strummed acoustic guitar and twinkling piano before launching into an immediately resonant coda, "I could use a break from all this" Huebert sings, and it's impossible to not identify with his sentiment. Hear “What Ifs” on your platform of choice:


Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou’s magical and understated 2010 self-titled debut in this and other ways: the album’s production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication.

Following Siskiyou’s Polaris-nominated third full-length Nervous released in early 2015, Huebert was commissioned by New York-based artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister (of Sagmeister & Walsh) to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a feature-length movie accompaniment to “The Happy Show” installation project that had toured galleries in the mid-2010s – the art show and film themselves being ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert’s own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the direct, unadorned aesthetic of early Siskiyou for the film music, leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day, in diaristic sketchbook form, without a thought towards the more ornate structures and developments of material he had just finished up with Nervous. This commission yielded the album’s title and the opening track “Stop Trying” (the eventual theme song for the movie) which includes a short looped clip of film dialogue repeating the line “trying is the problem; you’re trying to get somewhere as if you’re not somewhere”.

Huebert ended up with a dozen songs written under this influence, but shelved the recordings while real life took over: driven from Vancouver by skyrocketing rents and zombie capital that was increasingly leaving the city a shell of its former self, he relocated to Toronto with his young family. Returning to the material once resettled, Huebert finished up the record with contributions from various guest musicians on strings and horns (including cellist and labelmate Rebecca Foon from Saltland/Esmerine, and Destroyer regulars Joseph Shabason and JP Carter on horns and woodwinds). The result is a beautifully restrained and unvarnished song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert’s distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery.

From the austere Velvets-chug of “What Ifs” to the Elephant 6-inspired looseness of “Her Aim Is Tall” and “Stop Trying (jubilant reprise)” and the sparkling hush of atmospheric twilight folk-inflected pieces like “Temporary Weakness” and “Silhouette”, Not Somewhere is delicate and discreet yet wonderfully assured – a profoundly humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Huebert’s Siskiyou project.


Boy Harsher: "Come Closer (Marcel Dettmann Remix)"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Nude Club / YouTube)

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Following the release of their second studio album Careful earlier this year via their own label Nude Club, BOY HARSHER have announced a series of remix releases as well as new live dates. They have also shared a Marcel Dettmann remix of "Come Closer".

'Come Closer’ MAXI 12” and ‘Tears’ MAXI 12” will be released on June 28th. Both MAXI 12”s will be pressed on black vinyl. Additionally, there will be a deluxe edition of both 12”s on crystal clear vinyl limited to 300 copies, which includes a bonus 7” (on crystal clear vinyl as well), exclusively available through the band mail-order or Bandcamp. The digital version will be released as a 12 track album entitled ‘Careful Remixes, etc.’ which is available for pre-order on Bandcamp and via all digital platforms.

Along with the announcement they have shared a remix of ‘Come Closer’ by infamous German Techno DJ and producer Marcel Dettmann.

"Growing up on ebm, synth pop and wave music, I've seen a lot of bands come and go throughout years. Hearing Boy Harsher's music, I felt an immediacy in their songs that I had not often experienced with other bands. I seldom see musical originality, and artistic authenticity. To me, the lyrics of ‘Come Closer’ can be read as a poetic reflection of the night club experience and those intimate encounters on the dance floor, a culture I grew up within. It was my pleasure to make this song fit to be played "in the dark." After all, that's where I'm at home most of the time." – Marcel Dettmann

“Feeling incredibly humbled that Marcel Dettmann, Berlin paragon of industrial techno and Berghain resident, not only knows about Boy Harsher but wanted to collaborate in the most sacred way possible: the club remix. Dettmann turns ‘Come Closer’ into an abject moment of lust and desperation, possibly only seen on the dance floor at four am. The song is already about spiraling, but the way Dettmann accents this inclination is totally exhilarating and erotically anxious” – Jae Matthews / Boy Harsher



Spirits Having Fun: "Electricity Explorer"
(via Clandestine Label Services / Ramp Local / YouTube)

Via Clandestine Label Services:

About the song/album:
With "Electricity Explorer," Spirits Having Fun takes you on a surreal and rowdy adventure through a dream you can't quite shake. Oscillating between dark, sinster riffs and soaring, sweet melodies, "Electricity" is a celebration of spontaneity and left turns. Each section of the song bleeds into the next seamlessly, so that by the time the triumphant final chorus comes around, vocalist Katie McShane's insistent
"Do we live in the dream?" feels like the only question to ask.

Electricity Explorer's music video shows vocalist Katie McShane fending off lemons on the beach, eating an impossible feast, and staring at TV static. SHF tapped the talent of Philadelphia video wizard Ari Ratner (Speedy Ortiz, Lina Tullgren), to edit together this playful statement that puts SHF's sense of humor and levity on full display.

Chicago-via-NYC outfit Spirits Having Fun make the kind of music that is perhaps never encountered the same twice. So, in announcing their debut album
Auto-Portrait, out in June via Ramp Local, they are sharing but an iteration of themselves, one that is to be manipulated and reinvented again and again upon future performances of its nine songs. Coming from such eclectic backgrounds as jazz and composition, ska and punk, folk and synthpop, the members of Spirits Having Fun (Katie McShane, Jesse Heasly, Andrew Clinkman, and Phil Sudderberg) are at home with improvisation, but only/especially because of their affinity for each other, musically. “Collaborative magic,” they call it. The result is a genre-bending blend of scattered yet undeniably infectious melodies coasting along ever-adaptable rhythmic patterns. Dissonant and chaotic at times, completely and lovingly alluring at others… Auto-Portrait is a record with which you can wrestle, or you can hug.

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