wears the trousers magazine

little dragon rename new album
August 11, 2009, 10:02 am
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110809_littledragonMachine Dreams out on August 31st

Fresh off the back of supporting TV On The Radio in the US, Swedish anomalies Little Dragon are finally gearing up to release their long-awaited second album, now titled Machine Dreams rather than the somewhat austere original name of Berlinmaster. Recorded back home in Gothenburg, the album pushes a much more electronic sound than 2007’s Little Dragon, though the foundation elements of organic pop and singer Yukimi’s sultry jazz inflections are still in effect. “These days, humans seem more and more like machines, and as technology evolves, machines feel more human and it becomes fuzzy and beautiful and science fiction-ish. We feel dependent on our machines to create and live, and their sounds reflect us,” explains Yukimi about the heavier presence of synths, which occur in many guises from spacey atmospherics to more widescreen pop stabs. The album’s gentler moments like ‘Fortune’ and ‘Feather’ provide a dreamy contrast to songs like ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘My Step’, both of which parade a 1980s influence that could make them ideal for an assault on the charts.

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marissa nadler: hells belle
July 31, 2009, 3:40 pm
Filed under: feature, words in edgeways | Tags: , , , , ,

This interview originally appeared in the print edition of Wears The Trousers #7. Order a copy here.


words in edgeways with marissa nadler

Not long ago, as part of a tribute to Radiohead’s OK Computer, Marissa Nadler chose to cover the bittersweet ‘No Surprises’. It was just one line into the song when she sang “A heart that’s full up like a landfill”, and there it was, the image of a wraith-like maiden in a red scarlet gown stumbling and wading through endless piles of discarded items from the last few hundred years. Finding and collecting but rarely stopping for long, combing her internal landscape of leather shoes, flowing silk ribbons, leftover lovers and bones; habitually a melancholic, loner figure like the poet Anne Sexton in ‘Her Kind’: “I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves: whining, rearranging the disaligned. A woman like that is misunderstood, I have been Her Kind.”

This maiden is not quite so misunderstood it seems. With each new album Marissa gains more and more subscribers to her dark and delicate songcraft. With her latest album Little Hells, she reaffirms her astonishing ability to slide back and forth in time, her songs like silken wormholes to the past. Wears The Trousers caught up with our old friend just before she headed out on a lengthy world tour. “Ask me something funny,” she said…

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diamanda galás launches monthly new music scheme
July 29, 2009, 10:08 am
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290709_diamandagalasFirst track available now

Renowned for her eviscerating live shows, one-of-a-kind performer Diamanda Galás has started up a new monthly venture in which she will release a new body of work called the Cleopatra Set one track at a time through her official website. Billed as “a collection of the most electrifying, previously unreleased performances and exceptional re-interpretations”, the songs will be made available as high quality WAV files priced at $2 each. The first track is available now. Taped at an April 2008 performance at the Cité de la Musique Concert Hall in La Villette, Paris, Diamanda’s version of Ronnie Earl’s ‘A Soul That’s Been Abused’ certainly fits the above description.

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lisa hannigan nominated for mercury music prize

210709_lisahanniganLittle Boots nowhere to be found

The biggest surprise for us in this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominations was lovely Lisa Hannigan, whose debut solo album Sea Sew was finally issued in the UK in May, 8 months after she self-released the album in Ireland to rave reviews. Not that we’re suggesting for a moment that she doesn’t deserve it – it’s just we forgot it was even in the running according to the eligibility rules. Less surprising inclusions on the dozen-strong list were Florence + The Machine, La Roux and Bat For Lashes, all of whom have turned in some of the year’s most memorable albums. Last but not least, for the women anyway, is young Speech Debelle, whose debut album Speech Therapy had us completely engrossed. The other seven places went to Kasabian, The Horrors, Friendly Fires, Glasvegas, The Invisible, Led Bib and Sweet Billy Pilgrim. Whither the ‘Sound of 2009’, Little Boots? She could have really used the sales boost.

According to bookies William Hill, Florence + The Machine and Kasabian are current favourites to win with odds of 5/1. Full list of nominees and odds below.

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nancy elizabeth purifies her craft with wrought iron
July 14, 2009, 8:44 am
Filed under: news, trouser press, where's the gigs | Tags: , , , ,

140709_nancyelizabethSongs inspired by the sounds of silence

For the follow-up to her impressively accomplished debut Battle & Victory, Nancy Elizabeth set aside her harp and left the bright lights of Wigan to seek solitude in various remote places, including her grandmother’s ancestral home of the Faroe Islands, a village in rural Spain and our own green and pleasant land in the Lake District. As it happens, solitude wasn’t too hard to find in these places and Nancy became well acquainted with his good friend silence, which in turn spurred her into writing songs that she describes as containing thoughts and feeling that would otherwise be inexpressible, certainly not to be uttered in company. “The experience I have when listening to music alone is something that is impossible to experience with another,” she explains. “It’s a quiet place when it feels like only you and the sounds you are hearing exist.”

During her stay in the Spanish region of Aragón, Nancy would sneak into a derelict school and write songs on an old abandoned piano – before the place was demolished while her back was turned – and these were later fleshed out with all manner of instruments, from the usual suspects like guitar and harmonica to a hefty vibraphone, trumpet, glocks and a 100-year old Dulcitone. Aside from hush, Nancy also cites minimalist composers Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich (“I love his use of voices, mallet instruments and pianos”), Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Judee Sill and Leonard Cohen as influences. The result, coming out of a rural Welsh studio, is Wrought Iron, a work of huge emotional depth and warmth that hits the shops on October 5th through The Leaf Label. “I like the analogy of personal adversity and experience being the process of forging, and the pure and strong wrought iron being the end result,” she explains.

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hope sandoval comes out of hibernation
July 8, 2009, 8:50 am
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080709_hopesandovalNew album in September

Revered Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval is gearing up to release her first album of new material in eight long years. Together with her other band The Warm Inventions, Hope will issue Through The Devil Softly, the long-awaited follow-up to their 2001 debut Bavarian Fruit Bread, on September 15th. Not only that, but the band will also release a single, ‘Blanchard’, on August 4th through their own label Song Bird, in conjunction with Nettwerk Records. The album was recorded in Northern California and in the Irish countryside. Of her time in Wicklow County, Hope’s bandmate (and drummer for My Bloody Valentine) Colm Ó Cíosóig told Rolling Stone that “It was really nice to go there,” says Ó Cíosóig. “It’s pretty remote. There was nothing but cows next door, a lake and a little pub down the road.” The obvious question – what took so long? – was also fielded. “I don’t really notice the time,” Hope told them. “We don’t keep track of the days and months. And the years.”

Aside from the single, which you can stream here, the album’s 11 tracks also include the songs ‘Wild Roses’, which Rolling Stone describes as “winsome…with a loose, pastoral vibe”, and ‘Bluebird’, a “spare piano-and-acoustic-guitar ballad…as if she’s whispering in your ear.” The article also reveals that, despite her well documented stage fright, Hope intends to put in some stage time for this release. “I enjoy singing with a band playing behind me,” she says, “it’s just that the audience is nerve wracking — even if it’s just 400 or 500 people.” The prospects for a UK appearance don’t sound especially promising from that, but we can dream.

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hole lot of confusion over courtney love’s new album
June 25, 2009, 8:29 am
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250609_melissaaufdermaurMelissa Auf der Maur says Hole “reunion” is news to her

Turns out we weren’t the only ones to reel with surprise at Courtney Love’s revelation to the NME last week that her long, long, long-delayed solo album Nobody’s Daughter might in fact be released under the banner of her former band Hole – bassist Melissa Auf der Maur was rather taken aback by it too. In an interview with ExploreMusic.com, Melissa suggested that Courtney’s claims of a “reunion” were a little gung-ho and that any such plans were news to her. While she did go into the studio with Courtney to record some backing vocals at the request of producer Michael Beinhorn, who worked with Hole on 1998’s Celebrity Skin, she admits that she is “a little confused as to what the plan is”.

“We have not been in touch too much,” she added. “We’ve been in touch this year after 10 years of no contact, I will say that…[Michael] called me and asked me if I would sing on [Courtney’s] new solo record – which is what I understood it was. And I said ‘Yes’ because I enjoy working with him and…well, she and I have a history of making music together. And I’m happy to visit her again in the future…She’s a nutbag, [but] I really do care about her.”

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