wears the trousers magazine

trouser press: kristin hersh, alela diane and more

in today’s trouser press:

– Kristin Hersh brings The Shady Circle to London
– Alela Diane is the voice of Headless Heroes
– remixers ruffle the feathers of Au Revoir Simone
– Melanie Garside returns as Maple Bee
– lost Gershwin tunes brought to life by Victoria Hart
– Loreena McKennitt gets festive, again
– Martha Wainwright and others cover Leonard Cohen, again
– Madonna lashes out at Sarah Palin
– Canadian artists raise environmental awareness pre-election 

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Having toured her autobiography-as-performance art show ‘Paradoxical Undressing’ (which, it appears, will eventually come out as a book), Kristin Hersh brings her latest project, The Shady Circle, to London in November. A follow-up of sorts to her Appalachian folk song collection Murder, Misery & Then Goodnight, The Shady Circle is basically just Kristin, an electric guitar, an amp and songs and stories galore.

Curious? Well, we’ve had a root around the internets and found a lovely live recording of a house concert in which several Shady Circle songs were performed – ‘Willie Moore’, ‘Waiting For The One Train’, ‘Children Oh Children’, ‘Dusty Road’ – as well as a few Kristin/Throwing Muses originals. And the best bit? It’s free and legal to download. Get part one here and part two here.

London’s The Borderline plays host to The Shady Circle on November 23rd.

* * *

If you haven’t yet become acquainted with the supremely talented Alela Diane, whose 2007 album The Pirate’s Gospel was deservedly hailed as a masterpiece, then another opportunity is waiting in the wings. Alela is the voice of Headless Heroes, a new covers project dreamt up by A&R man Eddie Bezalel (Alice Smith, Mark Ronson) and brought to life by a crack team of musicians.

Billed as a “simply beautiful collection of lost classics and unearthed gems sung with arresting clarity”, The Silence Of Love (out November 10th) is the ensemble’s debut album that tackles bittersweet songs of love and loss spanning 40 years. Classics from Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs and The Gentle Soul mingle seamlessly with more modern selections from Daniel Johnston, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Alela describes the project as “pure fun”, adding: “It was quite liberating to just sing! And not worry about it being my record, or it being different from the type of music that I’m used to making…I was able to use all different parts of my voice, from what I do in my own songs, to what I learned while singing in the school choir.”

The Silence Of Love
01 True Love Will Find You In The End
02 Just One Time
03 Here Before
04 Just Like Honey
05 To You
06 Blues Run The Game
07 Hey Now Who Really Cares
08 Nobody’s Baby Now
09 North Wind Blew South
10 See My Love

* * *

The ladies of Au Revoir Simone might be busy working on their third album with producer Thom Monahan (Devendra Banhart, Brightblack Morning Light) but the bundle in the stork’s beak coming our way next month is an entirely different beast altogether. Reverse Migration is a new and finely feathered collection of remixes of songs from the trio’s 2007 album The Bird Of Music, with contributions from the likes of Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, We Are Scientists’ Keith Murray and James Yuill.

Much like last year’s Stars remix album, Reverse Migration largely follows the sequence of its parent album and features some tracks that aren’t so much remixes as covers. Sheffield duo Slow Club take on opener ‘The Lucky One’, while Keith Murray and Alexis Taylor separately tackled ‘Don’t See The Sorrow’ and former single ‘Sad Song’, respectively.

The album is out on November 10th through Our Secret Recording Company.

Reverse Migration
01 Slow Club – The Lucky One
02 Au Revoir Simone – Sad Song [pacific! remix]
03 Au Revoir Simone – Fallen Snow [the teenagers remix]
04 Au Revoir Simone – I Couldn’t Sleep [darkel remix]
05 Au Revoir Simone – A Violent Yet Flammable World [montag remix]
06 Keith Murray – Don’t See The Sorrow
07 Au Revoir Simone – Dark Halls [best fwends remix]
08 Au Revoir Simone – Night Majestic [matt harding remix]
09 Au Revoir Simone – Stars [disco pusher remix]
10 Au Revoir Simone – Lark [ruff and jam remix]
11 Au Revoir Simone – The Way To There [mark-anthony tieku remix]
12 Alexis Taylor – Sad Song
13 Au Revoir Simone – The Lucky One [james yuill remix]

In the US, digital retailers iTunes and Amazon will each offer exclusive tracks. iTunes customers can get a ReRunner remix of ‘The Way To There’, while Amazon has an Air France remix of ‘Sad Song’.

* * *

Melanie Garside, Katiejane’s younger sister, has revived her alter ego Maple Bee for new album Home, out October 13th. The follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed double album Chasing Eva, Home sees Maple Bee take a more stripped back approach, merging organic sounds with electronica to create an intriguing album that isn’t afraid to whisper or roar when occasion calls for it. The lead track from the album will be ‘No Place’, for which a video has been shot with Grammy Award winning director Kate Schermerhorn.

01 While You Were Sleeping
02 Quiet, The Silent World
03 Me & Rose
04 Mirror
05 No Place
06 Queen 23
07 I Want It All
08 Sweetness In Your Light
09 Somebody Take Me Home
10 So Far From Lost
11 This Face, This Name

* * *

For her second album, 19 year old jazz vocalist Victoria Hart has the honour of bringing to life some of revered composer George Gershwin’s rarer works for a modern day audience. Victoria and Kerenza Peacock of the Pavao string quartet travelled to the Library of Congress in Washington DC to browse hundreds of rare and unfinished Gershwin works found in an attic four years ago and whittled them down to 11 gems worthy of a second chance at life.

As well as the Pavao quartet, Victoria has enlisted the vocal talents of MOBO nominee Tony Kofi, Revelation (from the BBC’s ‘The Last Choir Standing’) and the usually insufferable Russell Watson on various songs. It was sounding so promising too. The Lost Gershwin is out on October 27th.

The Lost Gershwin
01 Tonight’s The Night
02 Isn’t It A Pity [feat. Russell Watson]
03 Ask Me Again [feat. Tony Kofi]
04 Vodka
05 I Won’t Give Up [feat. Atila]
06 You Are You
07 My Sunday Fella
08 Innocent Lonesome Blues Baby [feat. Revelation]
09 Little Jazz Bird
10 I Can’t Be Bothered Now
11 When You Want ‘Em You Can’t Get ‘Em
12 I Won’t Give Up [single version]

* * *

It’s been 13 years since Loreena McKennitt’s last collection of festive holiday songs – not that you’d know it as it seemingly gets reissued every Christmas – so what better way to honour that than by reissuing it again, only this time with a bunch of new songs added in. That, essentially, is the premise of her new release, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, out on October 27th.

Recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real Worlds studios near Bath, McKennitt says that she wanted to “recapture some of the frankincense and myrrh in this music,” adding that “The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it’s clear that people have always used winter as a time of reflection.”

Factoring in her usual array of influences – classical, Celtic and Middle Eastern – the new songs include a mystical reading of ‘The Holly & The Ivy’, the Latin-sung ‘Emmanuel’ and ‘Noël Nouvelet!’, sung in Old French. A limited edition of A Midwinter Night’s Dream comes packaged with recent tour documentary ‘A Moveable Musical Feast’.

A Midwinter Night’s Dream
01 The Holly & The Ivy
02 Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabella
03 The Seven Rejoices of Mary
04 Noël Nouvelet!
05 Good King Wenceslas
06 Coventry Carol
07 God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (Abdelli version)
08 Snow
09 Breton Carol
10 Seeds Of Love
11 Gloucestershire Wassail
12 Emmanuel
13 In the Bleak Midwinter

* * *

This year’s love of all things Leonard Cohen continues next month with MOJO magazine’s covermount CD featuring the likes of Martha Wainwright, Judy Collins, Linda Thompson, Katie Melua, Susanna & The Magical Orchestra and Allison Crowe interpreting the 74 year old bard’s songs. Not all of them are new, alas, but Cohen is a more than worthy muse. Thankfully it’s not Melua doing ‘Hallelujah’: that honour goes to Susanna & The Magical Orchestra with the version that first appeared on their 2006 covers album Melody Mountain. Here’s the full tracklist for the compilation. The issue hits the stands on November 1st.

01 Ian McCulloch – Suzanne
02 Katie Melua – In My Secret Life
03 Claudine Longet – Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
04 Dion – Sisters Of Mercy
05 Linda Thompson – Story Of Isaac
06 Eyeless In Gaza – Priests
07 Allison Crowe – Joan Of Arc
08 Susanna & The Magical Orchestra – Hallelujah
09 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Avalanche
10 Josh Ritter – Chelsea Hotel #2
11 Phil Campbell – Take This Longing
12 Martha Wainwright – Tower Of Song
13 Judy Collins – Song For Bernadette
14 The Handsome Family – Famous Blue Raincoat
15 Mr David Viner – Tonight Will Be Fine

* * *

Having already been criticised by John McCain’s campaign spokesperson for her “outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive” tour video depicting the white-haired presidential hopeful interspersed with “villainous types” such as Hitler and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, Madonna has made her distaste for VP candidate Sarah Palin a matter of non-argument. While onstage during her Sticky & Sweet show in East Rutherford, New Jersey, at the weekend, the singer declared: “Sarah Palin can’t come to this party…She is not in my show. She will never be in my show.”

She later mocked Palin’s Alaskan roots by comparing screeching guitar feedback to “the sound of Sarah Palin’s husband’s snowmobile when it won’t start.”

* * *

With all media interest focused on the Obama/McCain tussle south of the border, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Canadians are due to go to the polls in six days for their own federal election. While the race for government is probably most influenced by the world economic downturn, a group of musicians have banded together for a democratic advocacy group to remind voters not to forget about the global climate change crisis. Sarah Harmer joins Hawksley Workman, members of Broken Social Scene and Barenaked Ladies, and others on ‘You Have A Choice’, a song they hope will see current prime minister Stephen Harper ousted from office because of his poor environmental record. Listen to the song here.

* * *

Alan Pedder

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