wears the trousers magazine

[updated] free music friday: marissa nadler
February 12, 2010, 8:33 pm
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review | Tags: , , ,

Marissa Nadler
‘I Love My Man’ [demo]

UPDATE: You can now download the finished version of ‘I Love My Man’ from Pitchfork as a preview of the forthcoming Amnesty International benefit album Peace, an epic compilation curated by Buffet Libre and featuring artists from 56 countries around the world. It’s available from March 1. Read all about it here.

When Wears The Trousers interviewed Marissa Nadler for our issue 7 feature, we asked her whether her music was becoming a bit less deathly considering that her newest release Little Hells had a noticeably lower body count than previous albums, which she thought was pretty funny. “Lately I have been writing tonnes of songs, and they are all about situations and about living people,” she reassured us. A few months later we started hearing of a new romantic element to Marissa’s latest compositions, and rumours that the general feel of the next record might in fact be more lovestruck than lovelorn.

Over the last week or so, followers of Marissa on Twitter have been treated to an exclusive listen to a demo of a new song with the working title ‘Love Song 2’, so we thought we’d pass it on to the rest of you. All the hallmarks of Marissa’s unique sound are there, even in this simple home recording, with beautifully finger-picked acoustic guitar and that spectral, timeless voice, but it’s easy to imagine how it might come alive with a full band studio treatment if it ever gets one. The lyrics tell of spiritually uplifting visits to old burial grounds and New England towns with a man the narrator loves “like I was your darling wife”. But it’s not all sweet nothings. It gets a bit existentialist towards the end as Marissa sings (I think), “Farewell then world, I’ve had enough of thee / and now I’m careless, wilt thou save me?” – all in all, a very promising glimpse at what might be to come. MP3 after the jump

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inara george: accidental experimental (2009)
October 28, 2009, 3:22 pm
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Inara George
Accidental Experimental ••••

Though she is perhaps best known as the Bird to songwriter/producer Greg Kurstin’s Bee, Inara George is a cottage industry unto herself. Having graduated from early outfits Lode and Merrick to go it alone, the Californian singer has chalked up an impressive catalogue in the four short years since her solo album All Rise, produced by ‘Donnie Darko’ soundtrack composer Mike Andrews. As well as The Bird & The Bee’s two albums and three EPs, she’s recorded an elegant second album with Van Dyke Parks (2008’s An Invitation, complete with 24-piece orchestra), toured with Eleni Mandell and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark as The Living Sisters, and made a (currently shelved) album with Idlewild’s Rod Jones. In some respects, her new release Accidental Experimental comes full circle as George realigns with Mike Andrews for a rummage through some of her forgotten songs, including four reworked numbers from An Invitation and others she regards as source material for that album’s luxurious symphonies.

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ooioo: armonico hewa (2009)
October 28, 2009, 2:31 pm
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Armonico Hewa ••½
Thrill Jockey

Formed by Boredoms drummer Yoshimi P-We as an amateurish side project in the late ’90s, all-girl four-piece OOIOO frequently get described as ‘experimental’, a category that seems to be music journalism’s all-encompassing dumping ground for everything that’s, well, uncategorisable. They’ve been steadily trickling out albums every two to three years since, always labouring under unwieldy comparisons with their frontwoman’s primary outlet (an ensemble also described as experimental) but doggedly teasing out their sound with each successive release, building on its improvisational origins to form a style that’s very much their own. Their 2006 release, Taiga, was the band’s most direct and expansive album to date, so Armonico Hewa arrives with some expectation weighing on its shoulders. And with a title that’s derived from Swahili and Spanish to mean ‘air in a harmonious state’ — an idea that’s beautifully expressed by the album cover’s serene depiction of wind turbines surrounding a sunset-headed girl — could Yoshimi, Kayan, Aya and Ali be going a little soft on us?

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tori amos: midwinter graces (2009)
October 27, 2009, 9:40 am
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Tori Amos
Midwinter Graces ••••

If your immediate thought upon seeing the cover of Midwinter Graces is that Tori Amos might finally have Ascended up her own creative rectum, relax, hold your fire. The photo may have been digitally manipulated to within an inch of all-encompassing soullessness but the heart has not been cut out of her chest, and this is nowhere near the animatronic disaster the sleeve would suggest. First things first: Midwinter Graces is not a Christmas album. It doesn’t mention Christmas once, at least not explicitly by name. Instead it’s a veneration of the winter solstice, which, in the Wiccan tradition, celebrates the rebirth of the Sun, not the birth of the Son, and signifies a return to light after the longest day of the year has elapsed. In a neat/unfortunate parallel, whereas Amos’s recent albums have seemed eternally lengthy, Midwinter Graces nips guilelessly in and out, never outstaying its welcome, and consequently leaves a rosy glow.

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mattel announce ‘ladies of the 80s’ barbie range

271009_mattelIcons turned into tiny-waisted toys

Mattel, the brand behind anorexia’s poster girl Barbie, have recently announced their latest disempowering line, Ladies Of The ’80s. Released just in time to hit those Christmas shopping baskets, the range includes Debbie Harry and Joan Jett, who go on sale in December, and Cyndi Lauper who goes out in January, presumably because she’s ‘Good Enough’ to compete with all January sales items. Barbra Streisand will also have a mini-me doll out in November, though she’s not officially part of the range. True to form, Mattel have managed to turn these beautiful, iconic women into unrealistically proportioned, inert lumps of vinyl, a process that reduces their careers and achievements to disposable playthings in one fell swoop, undoubtedly aimed at young girls who would benefit more from the gift of a real guitar rather than the miniature, plastic one that Jett’s emaciated figure is accessorised with.

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imogen heap tour presale starts 10am tomorrow
October 26, 2009, 11:18 pm
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261009_imogenheapFirst UK gigs since January 2007

Making her much anticipated live return after three years tucked away behind her laptop and piano, Imogen Heap has announced a 10-date UK tour for February 2010 with presale tickets going onsale at 10am tomorrow morning. We’re not sure if you need a password for the presale, but if you want to err on the side of caution then you should join Imogen’s mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out on the best tickets. Go here to make your booking, or call 0871 230 0333. The tour kicks off in Manchester on February 7th at the Academy 2 and culminates in a hometown show at the Shepherds Bush Empire on February 19th. Full dates below. General sale starts Friday. Continue reading

new skye edwards album out today
October 26, 2009, 4:58 pm
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261009_skyeWho knew?

It’s one thing to name your album Keeping Secrets but it’s quite another to actually keep it a secret. Ex-Morcheeba singer Skye Edwards released her second solo album today, but there’s barely a scrap of information about it anywhere on the internet. All we know is that it has 10 songs and was released through her own label Skyewards Recordings, and that the album cover was shot by French photographer Thierry Le Goues. Oh, and that you can buy it on iTunes. Visit Skye’s Myspace to hear two new songs – the gently chiding ‘Not Broken’ and the aggressively sultry epic ‘Monsters Demons’. Not bad at all.

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natalie merchant adds more UK shows
October 26, 2009, 4:23 pm
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210909_nataliemerchantFirst headline show in over 7 years announced for November

In addition to her upcoming appearance at the opening gala of this year’s London Jazz Festival on November 13th, Natalie Merchant will play her first headline performance in the UK in a very long time at Conway Hall in Holborn, London. The November 16th event, dubbed ‘An Evening With Natalie Merchant’, will showcase some of the songs from Natalie’s forthcoming album – her first for Nonesuch Records – as well as selections from her 28-year musical career. Tickets are priced at £25 plus booking fee and are on sale now through LiveNation.co.uk. If you can’t make that show, then clear your schedule in plenty of time for next year’s Celtic Connections festival as Natalie will appear at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with Irish band Lúnasa on January 28th as part of the impressive lineup, which also includes Laura Veirs, The Swell Season, Angelique Kidjo, Nell Bryden and more.

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martha wainwright brings piaf tribute to london
October 26, 2009, 3:59 pm
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030708_marthawainwrightLive album out November 9th

Martha Wainwright is bringing her well received Edith Piaf performance to the Barbican in London on November 11th following an intimate two-night run at New York’s Dixon Palace Theater back in June, and tickets are selling out fast. The occasion? To mark the release of the Hal Willner-produced live recordings of those shows on November 9th through V2 Records. Dubbed Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, A Paris: Martha Wainwright’s Piaf Record, Martha Wainwright’s Piaf record builds upon a lifetime of admiration for the tragic French chanteuse’s vast catalogue of passionately sung recordings, picking out several of her lesser known songs to breathe some new life into.

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rosie thomas documentary out tomorrow
October 26, 2009, 2:56 pm
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140708_rosiethomasSufjan Stevens, Denison Witmer and Damien Jurado guest

It’s been an interesting few years for US singer-songwriter Rosie Thomas. Since she graced the cover of Wears The Trousers #2 in early 2006, she’s left the Sub Pop stable, launched her own imprint through Nettwerk Records, released a collaborative record with her good friends Sufjan Stevens and Denison Witmer (These Friends Of Mine), got married, and put out one of the most adorable Christmas albums ever made. Now filmmaker Matt Boyd has put together ‘All The Way From Michigan Not Mars’, an 80-minute documentary about these busy times that’s described as “a meditative exploration of Rosie Thomas’s work as it connects to her as a human being” and “a lyrical examination of Thomas’s quest for an expression of truth and her unique brand of performance; combining songs of plaintive melancholy with sharp-witted banter and Sheila [Saputo], her bizarre stand-up comedian alter ego”.

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