All posts tagged Domino Records

Indie Dispatches: CHL’s year-end accolades & a peak at what’s to come in 2012

From the melodic pop of Real Estate to the undeniably retro fuzz of Yuck, the distorted dreamy noise of I Break Horses and the lo- fi meandering of Youth Lagoon, 2011 has been an excellent year for music. Read more…

Indie Dispatches: Real Estate’s ‘Days’ evokes the best of bygone indie era

There seem to be two words coming out of a lot of people’s lips in the latter part of 2011, usually with some sort of glowing acclaim attached, with those words being, Real Estate. Read more…

Indie Dispatches: Saved by Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Kills

The Kills: Mosshart & Hince

Many artists will claim to play in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Few, if any, truly deliver. Much of what may be labeled Rock ‘n’ Roll is safe and bland. It is supposed to be edgy. Dangerous. Almost primal. And simple. This was the essence of Elvis Presley‘s formative days, shocking the older generations. And the Rolling Stones in their formative years, the bad boys wreaking havoc. And The Clash. While nowadays more than one band may claim to play rock ‘n’ roll, there is only one that truly does. The Kills.

Over their four albums, through Domino Records, the band plays simple, dirty rock’n'roll. Jamie Hince‘s filthy sounding guitar. A clattering drum machine. Alison Mosshart‘s howling vocals. And while their recorded material may be compelling, it is live where The Kills really take it to another level – the pinnacle. On stage Hince holds guitar like a machine gun, laying waste to the pretenders to their throne, as he wrings the dirty chords out. Music as weapon. And Mosshart, plain and simple, is a star. One of the best front women you will find, and the epitome of sexy. Pair the two of them on stage and the chemistry is electric. It is sweaty. And dangerous. American Idol it is definitely not. The Kills are as you’d imagine the prime-era Stooges would have been. Always on the brink of chaos. Gripping with tension, with the audience never knowing if it is suddenly going to explode, as it teeters on the edge of oblivion.

On the band’s most recent release, Blood Pressures, and on their just-completed US tour, they have expanded the formula a little, with a trio of back up singers and a few other extras thrown into the mix, but for the most part it is still Mosshart and Hince. Alison and Jamie. Still the same pair who floored people with their early shows in LA at The Smell and the Silverlake Lounge, and toured the country in a rental car with a guitar and a cheap drum machine. And while Mosshart may be better known now as the vocalist for Jack White‘s Dead Weather, and Hince is in the tabloids for his attachment to model Kate Moss, it is still The Kills where it all happens. Maybe they have never had that big break – though it seemed like they were on the brink with the previous album Midnight Boom when it became the soundtrack to Gossip Girl and their anthem “Sour Cherry” seemed to be everywhere, but alas they had their thunder stolen in the radio world by the infinitely more bland and whitebread Ting Tings. But when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, there is no argument. And the world would be a far far less exciting place without them. The Kills. Punk as fuck. No wow? Yes wow!

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Recent Signings, Free Agents and Year End Lists Begin

L.A.'s Active Child among Vagrant Records latest signings

Somewhere along the line in the last month or two, news of a few indie signings seemed to somehow slip through the cracks. Most particularly Vagrant Records, who has been busy adding much buzzed about LA combo Active Child to their ever expanding and diversifying roster, along with inking one bona fide legend, Polly Jean Harvey, for her new album – quite a coup. The LA label has done an excellent job of branching out beyond the emo niche it was once known for, and have developed an ‘A Class’ stable of indie rock acts that includes Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Hold Steady, STARS, School of Seven Bells, and of course Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. PJ Harvey’s new album Let England Shake hits stores February 15, while Active Child’s debut should look for a release in the spring.

Meanwhile, what seems like ages ago (and probably was!), blog favorites DOM from Massachusetts signed on with EMI-offshoot, Astralwerks, with a re-issue of the band’s Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP slated as their first release in early 2011. And now split from EMI and back in the ranks of indie, Mute Records announced that the first artists to sign to the new version of the label include Yeasayer, Londoners S.C.U.M., and Texan singer songwriter Josh T Pearson. Meanwhile in the past week, Sub Pop announced what seems be the 50th new signing for the year, indie-rock supergroup (with members of Man Man, Modest Mouse & Islands/Unicorns) Mister Heavenly…  And what of the free agents out there? Rumors are looming of an announcement about The Head and the Heart signing to a certain Northwest indie (which seems public knowledge but still hasn’t officially been announced)… Will Odd Future sign with XL Recordings, who appear to have been laying out the red carpet for the controversial LA hip hop collective (including reportedly flying their entire posse to the UK)…  What will become of Bright Eyes? This past week details of their forthcoming album The People’s Key (due February 15) were announced. Following the record, which is their last for Saddle Creek, will the project be done, or will Conor Oberst follow the path of his solo projects by bringing Bright Eyes to Merge? Or will it be another indie (such as was the case with Monsters of Folk)? And slowly emerging (and pricking up people’s ears) is the fact that critically acclaimed Seattle singer-songwriter Jesse Sykes (and the Sweet Hereafter) is in the market for a new label home, after a number of much beloved releases on Seattle’s Barsuk. Sykes supposedly has avid fans at both small and large labels, indie and major, and a with a new record in the can, chances are she won’t remain unsigned for long.

Of course, since we are now in the waning days of 2010, most of the news in the music media concerns the ubiquitous year-end lists – one of the first being NME‘s top 75 albums. There is no disputing the UK rag’s choice for their album of the year – These New Puritans Hidden – was baffling, and has had more than one pundit scratching their heads (possibly even the band’s label), but hats off to Domino Records for nabbing that top spot… Subsequent lists from Spin and Rolling Stone (and surely many others) have been released, and as to this column’s picks for the year’s favorites? Well, that will just have to wait until next time…

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Orange Juice & Musings on a Life in Music

Domino Records Releases Orange Juice Boxset

Every week when I sit down to write this column in my office, one of my prize possessions is hanging on the wall over my left shoulder – a framed NME magazine cover from 1981, autographed by Edwyn Collins, the lead singer of Scottish group Orange Juice. One of my other prize possessions is sitting in the ‘O’ section of a box of 7″ singles not far away. That would be “Blueboy,” the third single release by the very same Orange Juice, Postcard Records 80-2. Actually, I have two copies of the 7″ sitting in the box. To explain the impact that single had on my life to this point cannot be measured. To a large degree, it is the reason why I am sitting here and writing this column here today, and precipitated the journey in music that has led to this point.

We all have those epochal moments where music changed our lives. To many in recent generations it may have been “Smells like Teen Spirit”. To older folk it was more than likely The Beatles. For another group of people, it was late 70′s punk rock, something that indeed touched my life. But it was this Orange Juice single that really changed mine. It all started one early Sunday morning, listening to the local public radio station. And “Blueboy” came on. I’m not sure what it was, or why it happened, but that two minutes and 52 seconds grabbed my attention, and I never looked back. Sure I had bought records before, some of them even vaguely alternative, and I had been a fan of more than one group to that point. But that Orange Juice song, with its barreling rhythm guitar introduction and the slightly off key vocals, made me an instant devotee. And it was a trigger to a world of other music. Writers compared Edwyn & co. to the Velvet Underground, and so I set out to investigate Lou and John and Sterling and Mo. A snapshot of a lyric (“I wore my fringe like Roger McGuinn”) meant I was on the hunt for The Byrds. Subway Sect, Wire, The Modern Lovers, The Go-Betweens, The Triffids – the paths to new music were numerous. I collected more Postcard Records, and the Aztec Camera singles led me to Love and other gems from late 60′s LA. Al Green, Chic… the list goes on. And of course Orange Juice became the first band who’s records I obsessively collected – 7″, flexidiscs, 10″, 12″ with alternate versions, I had to have them all. A set of vinyl, incidentally, which has followed me around the world.

But it didn’t just stop there. The Postcard label was the inspiration for me to be involved in music – I started on public radio (yes the same station mentioned above), began helping out musicians, started my own label, and ended up moving across the world to release music and sign bands. When I started a record label, my guiding light was Postcard – that’s what I wanted to emulate. Later on I was privileged to release an EP of Postcard Records tracks, including an Orange Juice song – probably my most thrilling moment as a label owner. Though it wasnt just me. Talk to Creation founder Alan McGee, and he’ll wax lyrical in the same way about the influence of Postcard, and how it was the germination for his forays into music too – so without that Scottish label maybe we wouldn’t have had Oasis and My Bloody Valentine. The list of other labels influenced in the same way is endless- Heavenly, Sarah, Slumberland… And there is no doubting that Orange Juice opened up a world of Scottish music at the same time. If there was no Orange Juice, maybe there would be no Jesus & Mary Chain, no Primal Scream, no Teenage Fanclub. And more than one contemporary group, Franz Ferdinand and Belle and Sebastian being just a sampling, have gone on the record citing the lasting influence of the Glasgow four piece led by Edwyn Collins.

And so why I am writing this today? Well, for one thing to revel in the glory of music, and the profound lasting impact it can have on our lives. That is what some people in the biz sometimes forget. It IS about the music. And how much it can mean to people. You never know when that one song – albeit on radio or some crackly old LP or an MP3 – will suddenly grab someone’s life and launch them on a journey just like mine. It is magical.

I’m also writing this because on Monday Domino Records released Coals to Newcastle – a lovingly curated and expansive box set of all Orange Juice’s recordings. 6 CDs and 1 DVD of the finest in Glasgow post-punk. All the albums are there, from the sparkling debut You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever to the final force majeure, The Orange Juice, remastered and ready to be discovered, or rediscovered. Do you believe in magic? Because this collection is full to the brim with it. And “Blueboy”? Indeed, that’s in there too. What more can I say? Buy it. I will be.

-Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Nostalgic for the 90′s, 2010 Was a Year of Returns

Superchunk was among the many 90's acts to return in 2010

There is no disputing that 2010 can be seen as the year that the 90′s have returned with a vengeance. Is it because we have hit the “ten years on from the turn of the decade”, meaning it is now acceptable to reflect on the past in such a manner? Or is it a commentary on the new crop of underachievers, in a “well, this was how it used to be done” fashion, from the Gen-X and so-called slacker generation?

Early in the year came the return of Pavement, firstly with a mighty fine ‘best of’ album, Quarantine the Past, and then an endless global series of tour dates, including a great pre-Coachella set at the Fox Theatre in Pomona. Sonic Youth got into the act, releasing a (vinyl-only) compilation for Record Store Day, and their ‘back to being a four piece’ slots at the Hollywood Bowl & Matador 21 in Vegas were nothing short of blistering. Meanwhile Liz Phair unearthed her legendary Girly Sound tapes, and issued them a bonus disc with her latest album, Funstyle. Guided by Voices were back, complete with their classic band line-up, still toting the coolers of beer on stage and singer Robert Pollard‘s legendary high leg kicks, meanwhile the Matador Records redux continued with a long series of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reissues via Shout Factory.

Books have popped up waxing lyrical about the decade, such as Sara Marcus‘ treatise Girls to the Front on the Riotgrrrl movement. Later in 2010 Dean Wareham hit the road with his …plays Galaxie 500 live shows, a tour that he brings to the West Coast this week, with a Troubadour date tonight (11/11) in Los Angeles, complementing a set of Galaxie 500 deluxe reissues on Domino Records too. Orchestral pop pioneers Cardinal popped up in reports that they were making a new album. The 90′s invasion was trans-continental even, with a host of participants from across the Atlantic. Everyone’s favorite Glaswegians, Teenage Fanclub, came supporting a new album, Shadows, but peppered their live sets with a host of their past classics from The Concept to Sparky’s Dream (much to the crowds’ delight). And then there were fellow Scots The Vaselines, who released a new album and toured (and yes, we know really they were a product of the tail end of the 80′s). Meanwhile, British dance titans weren’t to be left out, as The Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Massive Attack all released new records (Further, Barking and Heligoland respectively). And most recently chatter has started about a reunion by Britpop favorites Pulp.

But let’s not forget Superchunk, whose latest album Majesty Shredding is on a par with the best moments of their 90′s output, showing that they are still one of the best rock bands around, putting on a stream of live shows that a lot of acts 20 years their junior could learn something from. The term Loser may have been emblazoned on t-shirts (Sub Pop) and on records (Beck), but twenty years on, amidst this year’s 90′s resurgence maybe the question is, “Just who is the loser now?”

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: Indie Releases Go Deluxe & Hollywood Forever’s Wow Factor

4AD to Release Deluxe Edition of The National's High Violet

One of the disturbing trends in recent years has been the major label’s tendency to reissue relatively new albums a few months after release (or sooner) as ‘expanded editions’ with a slew of bonus tracks, in an effort to wring out those last few sales. Unlike the heritage reissues of 15-20 year-old records, where there could be a set of unreleased tracks, a bang up remastering job of and some killer liner notes, these are albums where the ink is barely dry on the CD booklet printing. But who is harmed in this case? The consumer? Most probably the true fan who is rushing out to buy an album the week of release or soon after. So suddenly the core base are faced with the dilemma of having to buy an album all over again, just to get a hold of the bonus unreleased tracks (as they are a fan, and want everything the band has released), while the record labels try to garner the favor of the more passive consumer (more content = better value = the tipping point to a sale). And in the process they are exploiting those very people who comprise the dedicated community. Are these fans collateral damage, or the intended target? Hard to tell, but what is evident now is that these ‘expanded bonus editions’ are no longer just the domain of the majors, as a number of independents start rolling out their own re-releases of top selling albums. Just this past week 4AD announced the impending November 22 release of The National‘s most recent album High Violet as a double-disc version with a bonus CD of unreleased tracks. Meanwhile Domino also have just released a deluxe edition of the Dirty Projectors Orca, with bonus content. However, in the case of Dirty Projectors, the fan could score at least some of the additional tracks from Live at Other Music by buying the 12″ from the Domino site. One of a limited edition of 75 copies…

On a more upbeat note, serious props should go out to the crew in Los Angeles that have been putting on shows at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. While there are ample numbers of music festivals every year, and thousands of sets by bands at clubs around town, few can really be really described as “events”. In the end Coachella is just another festival, and nights at the Hollywood Bowl, which in themselves are fun and enjoyable, lack a certain wow factor. Step in Hollywood Forever. A series of shows in the mausoleum from the likes of Fools Gold and Perfume Genius have been great, but it is the concerts outside on the Fairbanks lawn that have been truly special. Just this past week, Scots Belle & Sebastian performed to a crowd of thousands of devoted fans, who thumbed their noses at the unseasonally cold weather and the impending threat of rain, reveling in what even the band thought was one of the finest shows on their current tour. With a screening of Trainspotting as a support act, the night was truly an event to talk about, and added the perfect buzz factor to the release of the Glaswegian’s new album Write About Love on Matador Records next Tuesday October 12. And as wonderful as the B&S performance was, it still pales in comparison to the legendary show by Bon Iver in 2009 at the same venue. With the Wisconsin combo playing at dawn, as the mist slowly cleared and the sun rose above the cemetery, providing a truly stunning backdrop, it truly was a once in a lifetime event, and rightfully lauded by many as “one of the best shows ever”.

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: The Emerald Isle’s Newest Troubadour & A Big Week of Releases

Conor J. O'Brien is Villagers

The last few years have seen a flood of talented singer-songwriters emerging from Ireland, from Damien Rice to Fionn Regan, but possibly eclipsing all of these could be newcomer Conor J. O’Brien. O’Brien, who records under the name Villagers, just released his debut album Becoming a Jackal this week on Domino Records. As they say in ole blighty, “it’s a corker”. The youngster, who has talents way beyond his tender years, has received comparisons to his namesake from Bright EyesConor Oberst, due to his knack for wistful lyrics and gorgeous melodies. It’s apparent O’Brien has already forged quite a name for himself and a dedicated fanbase, as his album hit the #1 spot in the charts in Ireland the week of release. Here in the states, the Villagers shows at SXSW were raved about, in particular the outdoor set on the Saturday where the singer-songwriter battled the biting cold on a windy hillside. His plaintive tunes provided a perfect soundtrack (and balm) to the unseasonal wintery weather in Austin.

Destined to join the Villagers album on the “best of 2010″ lists come December, is the latest release from Blitzen Trapper. Destroyer of the Void, which dropped this week, is the second record from the Portland, OR combo released on Sub Pop, and a follow-up to their 2008 breakout for the Seattle indie, Furr. There’s no denying that every Blitzen Trapper album to date has been a rag tag group of songs, with apparent influences from everything from Pavement to Wilco - a little bit alt-country, some spastic indie rock, but somehow it all works.

And those two are but a fraction of what has ended up being a veritable blockbuster week for indie albums. It’s hard to believe such a wealth of talent, and this is just a sampling, conspired to hit retail the same day, with new releases from Ratatat (XL), Hot Hot Heat (Dangerbird), Tokyo Police Club (Mom & Pop), Teenage Fanclub (Merge), Ariel Pink (4AD), The Belles (S-Curve), Nada Surf (Barsuk), Henry Clay People (TBD), Delta Spirit (Rounder) and more. For the indie fan, it seems like it Christmas comes in June this year!

-Cool Hand Luke