Albums of Note... Breaking away from their successful sibling recording partnership, Angus and Julia Stone have both begun releasing equally impressive solo material and this week, we take a look at Angus Stone's latest solo album, Broken Brights. Angus' song writing nods to classic rock legends such as Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash. A highlight of the album is the track 'Apprentice of the Rocket Man,' the description of which makes it feel like it may be worth buying the album for this track alone: "The ability of this track to transport you to another world is quite incredible. If you want to experience weightlessness without passing the NASA exam or forking out the $200,000 for a Virgin Galactic flight then sit back, close your eyes and become immersed in Angus Stone's quite brilliant tune."
The second album released by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros is being reissued by the Hellcat record label. Global A Go-Go was an exciting foray into world music for the former Clash frontman and his band of merry men. It was the last album released by Strummer before his death in 2002 but the reissue is light on feeling like a cash-in, on Why?at would have been the year of his 60th birthday. Musically, the Mescaleros were many a world apart from The Clash, but the emotional anger of punk remains. It's an instrumental track, though, that proves to be the focal point of Global A Go-Go: "A 17+ minute reworking of a traditional Irish Folk song closes the album. 'Minstrel Boy' is a perfect way to bring the curtain down as it ebbs and flows like an improvised jam session around a campfire. Featuring a wealth of disparate instruments it brings together many of the musical ideas to be found on Global A Go-Go into one track."
In our quest to keep up with the best new music around, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to Why? The now 6-piece band, have evolved from their core of Doug, Josiah and frontman Yoni, to not only doubling their band size, but probably their fan base too. On a surprisingly dry night in London, the band stopped to talk to Contact Music ahead of their album launch.
The catalyst for many of Yoni’s expertly crafted lyrics stem from his own health struggles, and this had a hand in the production of their new album, Mumps, etc.; “This album was really, really hard to make, mostly because of health issues I would say,” explained Yoni, but he added the caveat “I'm doing great now. I feel great, which is great," which was good to hear, and he’s certainly displayed his current vein of good health with a string of lively performances across Europe, especially at The Electric Ballroom, London, where the band launched their latest album.
One topic scarcely elaborated on by the band is their influences, primarily because they’re so hard to pin, but Josiah offered up some explanation for their ascendance to the musical arts. “Our Dad played. He played music. He started teaching us how to play the drums, and, you know, when you're little, you do something that you're pretty good at, and we liked it." And Yoni likened his father’s influence to a “spark” which “slowly grows over time.”
Continue reading: Why? Open Up On Illnesses, Influences And The Future
Fresh faced with British manicures, acquired from the seaside wind and on-stage sweat at their Brighton show the night before, Why? hit London to launch their new album, Mumps, etc, with a gig at the Electric Ballroom, Camden. I caught up with Doug, Josiah and Yoni beforehand for a nice chat.
I suppose we should start with Mumps, etc. Could you tell me a little about how it came about?
Yoni: "Maybe one of these guys can answer that."
Josiah: "Well, I guess in the winter of 2010, Yoni had written a lot of the songs and we got together and he showed me all the stuff he had been working on. We organised it, made a list of things and put him on a one demo per week regiment. And he did that; he recorded one song a week for a few months."
Yoni: "19 weeks."
Josiah: "19 weeks, and then we went in the studio a few months later, and we all had the demos and learned the parts, and thought about how we could make anything different or change the sounds. Then we went in and recorded it, and then we put the record together! Mixed it of course, and then the left over songs: we made an E.P out of the songs that didn't really fit onto the record. The E.P was supposed to come out later, but because of the way things went, with the release dates and all the logistics stuff, we had to put the E.P out first."
Was it difficult to choose which songs went where? Were there any contentious decisions to be made?
Doug: "Not contentious"
Josiah: "Yeah, it was pretty clear. Maybe there were a couple things"
Doug: "There was some grey area, but we listened to them all and we chose the songs that didn't quite fit on the record. It's definitely something we do after the fact."
Yoni: "We listened in different orders, you know, originally we had 'Twenty Seven' on the record, and then we couldn't fit it in, and we had to end up putting it on the E.P."
Continue reading: Why? - Interview
Anticon's flagship rap group, Why? descended on a packed Electric Ballroom in Camden on Tuesday (October, 9 2012) and they didn't disappoint. But we'll take this in the order of the night's events, and start with the excellent support bands. First up were Young Fathers; the fledging Edinburgh based hip-hop trio signed up to the independent L.A based record label recently, and they brought their brand of energetic, frenetic rap to the stage in an excellent support slot. Second were the grumpy electrophiles, NZCA/Lines who provided an accomplished bow for the night's delectations.
We had to wait, and even when WHY? took to the stage, Yoni made a typically dramatic entrance after tender instrumental introduction. Their relatively small, but dedicated fan base hadn't had Mumps long enough to proudly mouth watermelon every song (WHY? fans will get that, I hope), and that was apparent when Yoni spat their more popular tunes: The Hollows and Simian's Dilemma were particular highlights. But it's not as if the new tracks - of which their were ample - disappointed. White English, a tight, meticulously constructed song manifested itself live successfully, and even without the mellifluous strings that sew Distance together; it was a pleasure to behold.
I sometimes get confused when people praise a gig saying "it sounded exactly like it does on the CD!" Do you really want that? WHY? didn't, and that's not to say the vocals were out or the arrangements were off (although the mix on the female vocals for Bitter Thoughts needed work). Conversely, musically: it was excellent, but it was the bespoke interludes and unusual dance moves of Yoni that made it a special occasion rather than a bland recital. That and the beaming smile on Josiah's face, as he rhythmically intertwined his drums opposite Ben Sloane. It's important to see a band loving the occasion as much as the audience, and that genuinely came across. The outstanding Sod In The Seed - a song that debuted on the titular EP - also went down with a rapturous response.
Continue reading: Why? - Electric Ballroom Camden, October, 9th Live Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.