wears the trousers magazine


incoming: the living sisters

The Living Sisters
Love To Live

[Vanguard; March 29]

The second new album featuring Inara George is this long-awaited debut from Californian ‘supergroup’ The Living Sisters, where Inara is joined by Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and genre chameleon Eleni Mandell for an enchanting ten-song collection of gorgeous harmonies and vocal interplay. “There’s something about us three singing harmony that is almost like religion,” says Eleni. “It makes me think, ‘Oh yeah. This is why people talk about God,’ because when your voices are resonating together, it’s a very spiritual feeling.” We previewed Love To Live a while back as one of our must-hears for the Spring and we’re still excited about it. Standout tracks so far are ‘Double Knots’ and a cover of Bessie Smith’s ‘Good Ole Wagon’.

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incoming: the bird & the bee

The Bird & The Bee
Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall & John Oates

[Blue Note; March 22, not final artwork]

We knew Inara George was prolific but releasing two new albums within a week of each other is pretty good going even by her standards, especially considering that her first baby is due in April. Not that we are complaining. First up is this new collection from The Bird & The Bee, her popular duo with producer/songwriter Greg Kurstin. Interpreting The Masters Volume 1 is, as the remainder of the title more than hints, a tribute to ’80s pop behemoths Daryl Hall and John Oates, who’ve released some eighteen studio albums since 1972’s Whole Oats. Out of this vast back catalogue, Inara and Greg have picked eight of their best known songs and spun them into something really quite lovely. The icing on this cupcake is a brand new Bird & The Bee track called ‘Heard It On The Radio’, a neatly observed homage to FM radio nostalgia. Pats on the back all round.

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free music friday: inara george

fmf_inarageorgeInara George
‘Accidental’

You probably already know this LA-based artist as one half of The Bird & The Bee with producer Greg Kurstin, whose two albums and various EPs have made quite a splash in indie-pop circles. But Inara deserves to be equally famed for her solo ventures, which include her 2006 debut All Rise and last year’s An Invitation, a collaborative effort with Van Dyke Parks and a 24-piece orchestra. A consummate plate-spinner, Inara always has several projects on the go, formerly attached to bands including Lode and Merrick, and now with latest outfit The Living Sisters (a trio with Eleni Mandell and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark). But it’s her new solo album Accidental Experimental that’s currently taking centre stage with a digital release on October 20th through Everloving Records.

Preview track ‘Accidental’ is folk-pop gold dust, wrapping emotive, questioning lyrics inside delicately drowsy electro and lulling, opiate folk, giving the song a pleasant, sleepwalking lucidity. Inara’s soprano is equal parts honey and smoke and has a quality that evokes both Feist and Suzanne Vega. If ‘Accidental’ has a cinematic quality to it, look no further than returning producer Mike Andrews who helped to sculpt All Rise. Famed for his film scores (Donnie Darko, Grey Boy All-Stars), the talented composer worked with Inara on most of Accidental Experimental, reworking several of the songs from An Invitation (‘Bomb’, ‘Dirty White’, ‘Right As Wrong’, ‘Oh My Love’) alongside both new and older, previously unreleased tracks. MP3 after the jump.

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free music friday: the bird & the bee
January 16, 2009, 11:01 am
Filed under: free music friday, mp3, review | Tags: , , , , , ,

fmf_birdandthebeeThe Bird & The Bee
‘Don’t Stop The Music’ [Rihanna cover]

Our second Bird & The Bee post of the week, but we couldn’t resist featuring Inara and Greg’s surprisingly effective cover of Rihanna’s huge-selling 2007 single ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ from the ubiquitous Good Girl Gone Bad, an album that easily rivals Robyn’s self-titled and  Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black in the mercilessly plundering and repackaging stakes. A remix collection is due in 2 weeks. Oh joy.

But back to this cover. It’s great. Inara’s familiarly cutesy purr adopts a soft but insistent sensuality that really brings out the seductive intent of the lyrics as Greg transforms the pulsing dancefloor beat of the original into an atmospheric swirl of keyboards and magical sound effects, sometimes crisp, sometimes swaddled in fuzz. It’s quite the transformation and is easily the duo’s finest cover to date (‘How Deep Is Your Love’ was just a little…obvious). ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ doesn’t feature on The Bird & The Bee’s new album Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future [review], but you should still buy it. MP3 after the jump.

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the bird & the bee: ray guns are not just the future (2009)
January 12, 2009, 10:31 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , , ,

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The Bird & The Bee
Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future •••½
Blue Note

This second album from The Bird & The Bee, the side project of pop magician and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and sublime Californian singer-songwriter Inara George, could easily have been called ‘Ray Guns Are Real’, named as it is after the successful testing by the US military of a functional weapon once believed to belong purely to the realms of 196os sci-fi. But then a brief glance at the kitsch retro garb favoured by the duo and a cursory listen to their output will tell you that here is a pair who mentally and musically straddle a number of decades. While sounding very much of the now, they make sure to keep a meticulously shod heel firmly in the era of polyester space suits and laughable monsters.

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EPs of the year: readers poll results (part V of V)

EPs of the year: #5–1

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Angus & Julia Stone
Hollywood EP
PIAS

Released: November 2008

For every song that made the cut of their debut album A Book Like This, Australian siblings Angus & Julia Stone have at least as many treasures scattered about on various EPs. Hollywood is their fifth, and the UK version features three brand new reworkings where one sibling assumes the lead vocal on the other’s song, and each is renamed just to confuse us. So you get Angus singing ‘Wasted’ (‘All The Colours’) and ‘Hollywood’ (‘Johnny & June’), and Julia rejigging ‘Just A Boy’ (‘Lovely Hands’). An interesting and surprisingly effective trick, making this a must for any fans of the album.

iTunes £1.99

 

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Laura Marling
Cross Your Fingers EP
Virgin

Released: June 2008

One of the more upbeat tracks from her Mercury nominated debut Alas I Cannot Swim, the gently insistent gait of ‘Cross Your Fingers’ walked us through the summer. Transforming her fatalistic lyrics into a full-on bus stop singalong moment, it was the perfect second single. Exclusive B-sides ‘I’m A Fly’ and live favourite ‘Blackberry Stone’ are well worth tracking down, and the two live songs from the Union Chapel are no slouch either.

iTunes £1.99

 

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The Organ
Thieves EP
604

Released: October 2008

While Thieves finds itself to be a solid and poignant statement about the band and the state of its members, it also serves as a way for The Organ to let itself die, a final farewell from a band whose potential was tragically never fully realised. Behind the poppy songs and reverb-drenched guitars lies a cautionary tale for all young bands. As its sleeve no doubt knowingly implies, it’s an educational listen [full review].

iTunes £4.74


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The Bird & The Bee
One Too Many Hearts EP
Blue Note

Released: February 2008

This Valentines release from Los Angeles duo The Bird & The Bee was bound to be a romantic affair. Inara George and Greg Kurstin may not be a real-life couple but the chemistry in their music is potent. Lead track ‘Birthday’ reappears on upcoming album Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future (out January 26th), but the gorgeous descending melodies of ‘The Last Day Of Our Love’, the sensual and carefree ‘Come As You Were’ and a lovely cover of childlike 1920s ballad ‘Tonight You Belong To Me’ made this EP a sleek delight.

iTunes £3.16 

 

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Laura Veirs
Two Beers Veirs EP
Raven Marching Band 

Released: May 2008

With this limited edition covers EP of four roots music classics from the 1860s onwards, plus a cover of friend Mike Dumovich’s more recent ‘Wasps Of Rain’, Laura Veirs takes the songs that inspired her and coats them with her own appealingly whimsical softness, sticking closely to the original arrangements. Recorded in one night with a bit of pedal steel here, some whistling there, and plenty of soul, it’s now back in print but only available through Laura’s website or at her shows. Nice work if you can get it [full review].

Not available on iTunes





trouser press: amanda palmer, the bird & the bee and more

in today’s trouser press:

– Amanda Palmer gets run over in Belfast, plays on
– the future of The Bird & The Bee is not just about Ray Guns
– indie rock royalty auction off signage for charity
– big band singer Connie Haines dies
– Polaris Prize goes to none of the people we wanted to win
– new Serena Ryder album details
– Madonna fined £135k for being tardy
– Mindy McCready starts 60-day jail sentence
– three decades on, Labelle are back!
– Lederhosen Lucil is… Krista Muir
– Enya to release “a broader seasonal album”
– Céline gets the essential and ultimate essential treatment

* * *

Who killed Amanda Palmer? No one, but if you’ve ever doubted that she’s one tough cookie then cease your disbelief now. The punk cabaret artist went ahead and played a gig for young fans in Belfast on Sunday night despite having a rather nasty accident with a moving car earlier in the day that left her with a broken toe and three broken metatarsals in her right foot. After spending the afternoon in Belfast City Hospital she hobbled over to Auntie Annie’s on crutches so as not to disappoint her fans.

“I had an accident today,” she said while on stage at the venue. “I did what most stupid Americans do and walked on the wrong side of the road and ended up getting run over…I have to say I’m very grateful for the free healthcare that you have in Northern Ireland. This is the first show I’ve played where I’m completely on drugs.”

The accident wraps up a week full of dramas for the singer after her Dresden Dolls bandmate Brian Viglione confirmed the band’s ‘demise’ through a posting on their official forum. Apparently she wasn’t expecting that. Amanda’s post on the whole mess makes for insightful and thought-provoking reading. 

* * *

That Inara George just can’t sit still for a minute. In the 18 months since the first Bird & The Bee album, her ongoing collaboration with in-demand songwriter/producer Greg Kurstin has sprouted two EPs of all-new songs – 2007’s Please Clap Your Hands and this year’s One Too Many Hearts – and she’s only just released her second solo album, An Invitation, a richly orchestrated collaboration with family friend Van Dyke Parks. As someone who has been known to work on three different releases at once we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that there’s a new Bird & The Bee album coming out in the not too distant future (January, to be precise). It’s called Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, for reasons I am sure will become perfectly clear at some point. Is it me or are they slowly morphing into The Avengers? Anyway, the 14-song album only pinches two EP songs (‘Birthday’ and ‘Polite Dance Song’); the rest are brand new.

Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
01 Fanfare
02 My Love
03 Diamond Dave
04 What’s In The Middle
05 Ray Gun
06 Love Letter To Japan
07 Meteor
08 Baby
09 Phil
10 Polite Dance Song
11 You’re A Cad
12 Witch
13 Birthday
14 Lifespan Of A Fly

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