samedi, décembre 24, 2005

Rock news, more and more

Neil Halstead Talks New Mojave 3 Album

Matthew Solarski reports:

Now ten years old and wrapping up album number five, Britain's Mojave 3 have surpassed their parent band Slowdive in both longevity and output. In the process, they have quietly knitted a few threads of beauty into the grand musical tapestry with their consistently accomplished stratospheric folk-pop. Pitchfork spoke recently with Mojave 3 mastermind and erstwhile Slowdiver Neil Halstead about the new record, adventures in home studio recording, and the ethics of mice removal.

While you languish in front of this insufferable machine, Halstead is putting the finishing touches on Puzzles Like You, the follow-up to Mojave 3's 2003 album Spoon & Rafter, slated for March 7 release. Like Spoon, Puzzles will bear the esteemed insignia of veteran label 4AD in the UK and Beggars Banquet across the pond. It's the first Mojave 3 long-player recorded entirely in Halstead's own studio, located in Cornwall, England, and brace yourself: in the man's own words, it's "poppier".

"These songs are quite immediate," Halstead mused. "It was a fun process, doing things that are a bit faster. Hopefully it won't put off any Mojave fans."

Nonetheless, Halstead promised Puzzles won't be a huge departure from the sound Mojave 3 devotees have grown to love. While the complete tracklist has not yet been finalized, Halstead was happy to disclose the majority of Puzzles's pieces. They include "Truck-Driving Man", "Puzzles Like You", "Running With Your Eyes Closed", "Big Star Baby", "Breaking the Ice", "Most Days", "Ghostship Waiting", "You've Said It Before", "Star In Sky", and "The Mutineer".

Independent home recording proved a "learning experience" for Halstead and company. The band's recording efforts were thwarted at first, when a horde of mice infested the rural studio, scampering atop equipment and causing all sorts of mousy mischief. Locals suggested toxins, but Halstead and friends "struggled with the concept of poisoning a bunch of mice." Graciously, the critters moved on and the merciful Mojave were free to embrace the next challenge: mixing.

That "was a bit of a disaster," Halstead lamented, so at 4AD's suggestion, the band enlisted one Victor Van Vugt to mix Puzzles Like You. Triple V has produced records by Nick Cave, Beth Orton, and Luna, and mixed PJ Harvey's Mercury Prize-winning Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea. With Van Vugt on the reels, things progressed swimmingly, and mixing wrapped up in late November. Only mastering remains, according to Halstead, putting Puzzles on track for the March 7 release. Those curious to sample the sound of Puzzles may coast on over to, where Halstead has posted an unmixed version of "Big Star Baby". The breezy number features Halstead crooning choice lyrics like, "Everyone I've ever loved / Has been some kind of fuck-up." Totally heartfelt, we kid you not.

And since we had Neil Halstead on the phone, we had to ask: a Slowdive reunion? Unlikely, he said. While not against the idea, Halstead claimed he has a full platter of present interests and wonders if Slowdive are relevant enough to even warrant a reunion. Besides, "I think we sold our pedals, anyway." For shame!

* Mojave 3:
* 4AD:

Ex-Blur Guitarist Graham Coxon Preps New Solo Album

Matthew Solarski reports:

According to several online polls, Graham Coxon is, by unanimous vote, everyone's favorite bespectacled ex-Blur guitarist. Now for something decidedly non-fabricated: Coxon has a brand-gobsmacking-new solo album on the way, entitled Love Travels at Illegal Speeds and due out March 13 in G.C.'s native UK, courtesy of Parlophone Records.

Love Travels will follow up Coxon's well-received 2004 opus Happiness in Magazines, and will be heralded February 27 by the single "Standing On My Own Again"...

* Graham Coxon:

Sam Coomes Talks New Quasi Record

Amy Phillips and Kati Llewellyn report:

Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss lack blood relations, aren't married (anymore), don't only function in a red and white world, and perhaps most importantly, had nothing to do with "Who's a Big Baby?"

Nope, the male/female guitar/drums duo that makes up Quasi is only responsible for When the Going Gets Dark, a new album due out via Touch & Go on March 21. In order to get the full scoop and keep the White Stripes comparison filler to a minimum, Pitchfork spoke with Coomes last week regarding the new album, tour plans, and side projects.

"I suppose it's not going to be earth-shattering," Coomes said of When the Going Gets Dark. "Originally I was calling it `neoclassicism'-- not like Mozart classicism, but classic rock, or even jazz or reggae-- all the records that are sort of band-oriented, you know, drums and bass and guitar and piano... before all kinds of fancy production and electronics and shit like that started kind of dictating the sounds of records. We didn't stick entirely to that in the end, but it's more like that-- just sort of guitar, drums, bass, singin'-- simple instrumentation."

Hey, take out the word "bass", and that sure sounds like the words of a certain candy cane child.

COomes said that the duo recorded as if they were a quartet, with drums, guitar, piano, and bass making up the majority of the improvisation-based record. Coomes commented, "It still sounds like Quasi, but I feel like we're branching out a little bit."

When the Going Gets Dark was recorded with Steven Wray Lobdell (Davis Redford Triad, Faust) in his Portland studio and sent off for Dave Fridmann's mixing treatment. "It was getting out of hand," Coomes said, "so [Dave] helped us out-- sprinkled a little pixie dust on it and it sounds pretty good." Think happy thoughts!

At this point in time, the album is complete aside from the finalized artwork. The tracklist is as follows:

01 Alice the Goon
02 The Rhino
03 When the Going Gets Dark
04 I Don't Know You Anymore
05 Peace and Love
06 Beyond the Sky
07 Presto Change-o
08 Poverty Sucks
09 Merry X-Mas
10 Death Culture Blues
11 Invisible Star

Coomes' side project, Pink Mountain (no, we didn't forget the "tops"), has been bustling as well, with an album slated for release on Frenetic Records... sometime. He explained, "I think Frenetic's trying to get a new distribution thing happening, so it's a little bit up in the air, but it's kind of done and in the can, so when they get together, they'll just be able to roll on it." Coomes described the album as "a prog rock psychedelic improv record of some sort." Honestly, we can't say we're all that surprised.

* Quasi:
* Sleater-Kinney:
* Touch & Go Records:
* Frenetic Records:

Mogwai Reveal Mr. Beast Tracklist

Matthew Solarski reports:

March 6 marks the return of the mighty Mogwai, the Scottish post-rock combo of choice for dreamers young and old. On that hallowed date, Matador will unleash Mr. Beast, the revered fivesome's fifth album proper, featuring ten epic tracks and described by Mogwai manager and erstwhile Creation Records guru Alan McGee as "probably the greatest art rock record that I've been involved in since My Bloody Valentine's Loveless", and "possibly better than Loveless." So, like, post-phenomenal.

Those in the know are forecasting a return to form for the Mogwai, apparently in part a reaction to 2003's deliberately toned-down Happy Music For Happy People. Stuart Braithwaite declares in a Matador press release that he and his bandmates "really missed making a lot of noise!" He goes on to admit: "Although only about 25 percent of the new album is actually noise, that's the one thing we consciously had in mind when we set out."

Nevertheless, what Mr. Beast ain't is Young Team (Reprise), as Braithwaite and company also strove to expand their sonic horizons with this latest release. Since the band's inception, says Stuart, "we knew we were in this for the long haul and we knew we wanted to be making worthwhile, important music until the day our hands stop working, so it serves our purpose to challenge ourselves, on every level." And a noble pursuit that is.

Recorded in Mogwai's Castle of Doom studios and produced by Tony Doogan, Mr. Beast features contributions from composer Craig Armstrong, who lends keyboards to the track "I Chose Horses", and Tetsuya Fukagawa of Japanese post-hardcore epic-mongers Envy (signed to Mogwai's own Rock Action label), who shares his lovely vocals on the same track.

And now, the numbers of the Beast:

01 Auto Rock
02 Glasgow Mega-Snake
03 Acid Food
04 Travel Is Dangerous
05 Team Handed
06 Friend of the Night
07 Emergency Trap
08 Folk Death 95
09 I Chose Horses
10 We're No Here

* Mogwai:
* Matador:

J Mascis Goes Stoner Rock With New Band

Rob Kleckner reports:

If you've ever thought to yourself, "J Mascis' guitar solos piss me off", well, maybe his drum solos will touch you in the right spot. The long-haired dude from the recently-reunited Dinosaur Jr. is now behind the kit in a new stoner rock band: Witch. Standing in front of J in Witch are Kyle Thomas of Feathers on vox, Asa Irons (also of Feathers) on guitar, and Mascis' longtime pal Dave Sweetapple on bass.

For those lacking faith in Mascis' ability to pull a reverse Dave Grohl, have no fear. He was originally the drummer in Deep Wound, his pre-Dino Jr. hardcore band with Lou Barlow, and has pounded the skins with people like Mike Watt, Epic Soundtracks, the Velvet Monkeys, and Gobblehoof, as well as on various Dinosaur Jr. records.

As for Feathers... why does that name sound familiar? Well, the eight-piece Vermont band bearing crazy mountain instruments like the dulcimer and the lap harp have been opening for quite a few big shots lately, like Sufjan Stevens, Smog, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and, of course, Dinosaur Jr. They also guested on Devendra Banhart's Cripple Crow album (hey, who didn't?), and self-released an album last summer.

Witch's self-titled debut album, recorded with John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Son Volt, Screaming Trees) is due out on Tee Pee Records on March 7, 2006. The tracklist is short. This either means no bang for your buck or, more likely, lots and lots of solos. Check it out and don't let track three put you to sleep:

01 Changing
02 Seer
03 Rip Van Winkle
04 Hex
05 Hand of Glory
06 Black Saint

Additionally, a 7" will come out on January 10 as a split release between Tee Pee and the UK label Damaged Goods, featuring "Soul of Fire" and an early version of "Rip Van Winkle".

* J Mascis:
* Dinosaur Jr.:
* Tee Pee:

Tool Album in April:

Tool has reportedly begun the mixing process on their new album.

The disc will be the first since 2001's 'Lateralus' and could be in stores by April. On December 20th the band will release 'Schism' and 'Parabola', two DVD's witch feature the songs and music videos they are named after, commentary tracks and unreleased remixes. A live DVD is also said to be in the works.

Prince to record new album:

Paisley loving pop legend Prince has signed a new record deal with Universal and is set to release a new album entitled `3121'.

The record, Prince's first since 2004's `Musicology', will be preceded by the single `Te Amo Corazon', the video for which was directed by Hollywood actress Salma Hayek.

The video will be available for download from Prince's NPG Music Club site on December 13 reports Billboard and a press conference to reveal more details about the new material has been called in Los Angeles for the same day. The album will reportedly be supported by a tour sometime in 2006.

Mastodon release strategy:

Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor recently spoke to Revolver magazine about the group's upcoming Warner Bros. debut, tentatively due late summer 2006.

"We want the whole thing to flow together as one big piece of music, where the end of one song links up with the beginning of the next one," he said. "We want the whole experience to be like movements in a symphony."

Secret Machines tracklisting:

Secret Machines have revealed the tracklisting for their new album '10 Silver Drops'.

The eight-track album, the follow-up to 2004's 'Now Here Is Nowhere', is due out in April next year.

The full album tracklisting is as follows:

'Alone, Jealous and Stoned'
'All at Once (It's Not Important)'
'Lightning Blue Eyes'
'Daddy's in the Doldrums'
'I Hate Pretending'
'Faded Lines'
'I Want To Know'
'1,000 Seconds'

A limited 12" vinyl single, 'Alone, Jealous And Stoned', will be released ahead of the LP on January 16.

Mudhoney new album:

Mudhoney have announced details of their first album since 2002's `Since We've Become Transluscent'.

Entitled `Under A Billion Suns' the record is set for release on March 7 via Subpop and is said to see the band explore "a more snidely political-fueled side" according the labels official website.

Audioslave prepare new album:

Audioslave's latest album isn't even a year old yet and the band is already preparing to enter the studio in January to record their third studio album.

Brendan O'Brien, who has also produced albums for Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine, is expected to produce the new disc.

William Orbit album:

Grammy Award-winning writer/producer and contemporary music visionary, William Orbit, returns with an eagerly anticipated new album `Hello Waveforms' on Sanctuary Records out on February 7th.

His first solo release since 2000's critically acclaimed `Pieces in a Modern Style', the new album was performed and produced by William. `Hello Waveforms' is ethereal, ambient, subtle and distinctive in style, fusing strong melodies with electronic synths to produce his definitive signature sound.

Velvet Revolver concept album:

Velvet Revolver have revealed their plans to record a concept album.

Following in the footsteps of Green Day, who received worldwide acclaim for their rock opera 'American Idiot', the band have been working on the LP for months, but are remaining tight-lipped about its content.

"It's something I've been wanting to do since the last Stone Temple Pilots album, since (2001's) 'Shangri-La Dee Da' album, and it never was completely realised," singer (and former Stone Temple Pilot) Scott Weiland said. "You never know until you really completely get there, but it's going in that direction right now."

Bassist Duff McKagan told MTV News: "This album really has to make a statement. We've toured for 18 months. Now we have a brand name. Now we know each other as a band. The first album was just us together at home, a spontaneous product. Now it's time to make that record."

As well as working on the follow-up to velvet revolver's 2004 debut 'Contraband', Weiland has also started on his second solo album, following 1998's '12 Bar Blues'.

He revealed that he intended to release the solo effort a few years ago but joined former Guns n' Roses members Slash, McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum along with Dave Kushner to form Velvet Revolver.

"I think I was looking really for a way out of doing drugs," Weiland said. "Then I kept on thinking the music (they were sending me) was getting better and better and finally I was just like, 'I think that there really might be a real contribution waiting to happen for rock and roll here. And I think if I join this I can really add something to this and make a real contribution.'"

Neither album has a title or release date as yet, but McKagan hinted that the velvet revolver LP may hit stores in Spring...

Once again, thanks goes to Jen from Stratosphere Fanzine

Merry Christmas everyone..!