Don’t bother asking Twin Peaks about the deeper meaning of their band name. They simply thought it sounded cool, which explains why their second album Wild Onion (out August 5th on The Grand Jury) isn’t as spooky or surreal as David Lynch’s short-lived TV show. It’s more like a modern day Nuggets, with Ty Segall, Black Lips and Thee Oh Sees curating instead of Lenny Kaye. Not literally, of course. But the spirit of those garage demigods is alive and well alongside subtle nods to everything from the Pixies and Tame Impala to the godfathers of guitar-guided pop music, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys.
If combining the influence of so many classic artists seems like a lofty goal for a group of 20 year olds, just remember that Twin Peaks’ core quartet—frontman Cadien Lake James, guitarist Clay Frankel, bassist Jack Dolan and drummer Connor Brodner—has roots that reach back to elementary school. And while their friendships were forged long ago, James also learned the ins and outs of the local Chicago scene with his last project: Teenage Dream, a minimal-yet-mean duo with his older brother Hal.
“We played our first show when I was a freshman,” says Cadien, “and of the three people who came out, one was Alex White of White Mystery. She loved it. Alex has taught me a lot about being business smart and taking things slow, about being grateful and expressing thanks where due, and about being a gracious musician. The generosity of all the bands in the scene out here is pretty amazing.”
The only problem? Hal was asked to join the Smith Westerns, and since Cadien didn’t want to go the solo route, he found the perfect outlet in Twin Peaks. Having quickly cut their debut LP, 2013’s Sunken, so they could sell it on tour, the band was excited to spend more time developing Wild Onion, a record that reveals a level of maturity beyond all the amp-singeing solos, ragtag rhythms and dizzying voices of three distinct singer-songwriters. Unlike acts who let their egos get in the way, Cadien, Clay and Jack share the spotlight and play to one another’s strengths as Connor keeps things moving with a steady beat.
So while it’s hard to tell who’s screaming what sometimes, the album’s overall vibe couldn’t be more cohesive, whether it’s expressed through sun-kissed psych (“Mirror of Time,” “Strange World”), crowd-riling choruses (“Making Breakfast,” “Good Lovin’”) or hooks that take just seconds to sink in (“Flavor,” “I Found a New Way,” “Strawberry Smoothie”). Step back for a minute and you’ll also notice that everyone’s facing the cold, hard realities of life head-on, whether it’s relationships, the death of a family member, or getting used to the fact that three-fourths of the band (Cadien, Jack and Connor) left a school they loved (Evergreen State College) to pursue the crushed barriers, rushed stages and tireless recording sessions of Twin Peaks fulltime.
“The album deals with a lot of insecurities that arise when you’re growing up,” explains Cadien, “It’s about adopting them and being vulnerable to let out the tunes. It ain’t ideal, but it’s sublime.”
Or as Jack adds when asked about a song he wrote (the rise above anthem “Fade Away”), “It’s about looking at life and smashing it in the face until you break your hand. I hope you play this during your most epic of battles on this world.”
"Without/Within," the sophomore EP from critically acclaimed British trio Bear's Den will be released March 4, 2014, via Communion Records.
Ian Grimble (Travis, Manic Street Preachers) produced "Without/Within." Of the new music Andrew Davie (vocals, guitar) notes, "The songs were in many ways our most personal yet and also our most ambitious sonically. Joey's playing is particularly beautiful to me and his guitar and banjo melodies carry the songs so perfectly at times. Kev was experimenting more with synth bass and piano on top of drums before anyone else even picked anything up. I was experimenting for the first time in my life really on electric guitar and with delayed and reversed guitar loops. We all had our own responsibilities within this record and we all had complete belief and trust in each other. We wanted to push ourselves so that we could grow into the songs on the road and hopefully push ourselves to become a better live band because of it."
"Without/Within" follows the band's 2013 U.S. debut "Agape" (ag-ah'-pay), which received widespread praise -- New York Times T Magazine premiered the title track and the band was featured on NPR's "World Café." Since the release of "Agape," Bear's Den embarked on a massive three-month tour of the U.S., Australia and Europe including support slots with Mumford & Sons, Daughter and Matt Corby.
Davie, Joey Haynes (vocals, banjo) and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums) make up Bear's Den. The London-based trio played music in various incarnations before officially forming the band in 2012. They developed a cult following in their short existence as a result of their writing, harmonies, D.I.Y. approach with custom hand-stamped CDs, and extensive touring. It was only after finding their identity on the road that the band focused their attention on studio recordings.
Plucked harps, guitar climaxes, and retro, European disco. Sonically rich and impressively realised: Harvest Of Gold is the highly anticipated debut album from Melbourne's Gossling, 10 tracks of gorgeous pop songcraft, the gifted musicianship of singer/songwriter Helen Croome.
With Gossling's boundless talent and that dreamy, startling voice, Harvest Of Gold marks the arrival of undoubtedly one of 2013's best Australian releases. "Hopefully with this album the people who've only heard my singles will realise the extent of my songwriting," says Helen, who signed to Dew Process in September 2012 following three acclaimed independent EPs: 2009 debut If You Can't Whistle, 2010's Until Then, and 2012's Intentional Living. "I want listeners to stick with me as an artist, and enjoy the progression I've made."
Local music lovers are no strangers to Gossling's mesmerising sound. There's her cover of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool's "Dance The Way I Feel" for triple j's Like A Version; a recent duet with Oh Mercy's Alexander Gow for the Melodie Francaise compilation. TV fans of "Offspring" and "Gossip Girl" caught singles "Wild Love" (triple j's #18 most played of 2012) and "Heart Killer" on their small screens. There's guest appearances on "RocKwiz", slots at festivals such as Falls, Southbound, Peats Ridge, and West Coast Blues 'n Roots. And, of course, her spotlight-stealing vocals on the 4x platinum hit single by ARIA-winning hip-hop artist 360, "Boys Like You".
Determined to "get lonely and depressed" (the perfect fodder for writing a record), in spring 2012 Helen exiled herself to Tasmania, ready to create. Instead, she found herself tuning in daily to the non-adventures of "Big Brother" contestants. "I felt like they were my friends," she laughs. Once back in the familiar surrounds of Melbourne, songs slowly began taking shape. Demos were recorded onto Logic, samplers switched on, and sonic inspiration found in records by artists such as Goldfrapp and Metronomy. "I didn't really let myself get to a relief moment of, 'Phew, I'm on the right path,'" Helen recalls of her process, "because I was worried that if I did that I'd stop trying. I really wanted to push myself until the very day I had to go into the studio – and even then I was still writing."
Harvest Of Gold was recorded in May 2013 at The Shed Studios in Canterbury, VIC, with producer John Castle (The Bamboos, Vance Joy, Washington). Helen – who switched her psychology/sociology studies at university to a Bachelor of Music (Composition) – wanted to capture her brand new songs in their full technicolour. "I love cinematic stuff," she says. "My heart is in that style. I didn't want to lose that." Castle had recorded two tracks on Intentional Living. "We just gelled. I didn't want to put any expectations or lock myself into something by saying, 'This is the kind of album I want to make,' and he got that. John was a big fan of using my demos too, plus he works really quickly."
A Juno synth set-up and Farfisa organ is all over songs like "Never Expire", with its delectable, thrashing stabs. "Because I've come from a folky, acoustic background, the electronic aspect and new touches are what got me really excited. This feels like a new direction for me." Glittery title track "Harvest Of Gold" – "It's temporary love for you and me" – is a co-write with UK artist T Jay, Helen directing the metaphor of a field of love. On her demo for anxiety ballad "Pulse", Helen fleshed out clarinet and Godfather-style string melodies; Castle helped realise her vision alongside composer/trumpet player Ross Irwin.
Front and centre across the LP is Gossling's magical voice – used to devastating effect on the heart-wrenching "Vanish". Written in response to the death of Jill Meagher, Helen's vocals were recorded at home, the intimate take capturing the effect the tragedy had on the singer. "I was angry for a long time," says Helen, of lines like, "Should we see what he wrote on her face?". "The security footage... I was affected by the fact that we saw some of her last moments. It was good it was put out there, but it also felt wrong, intrusive."
Much more upbeat is vivid opener "Big Love", with its joyous pop chorus, its lyrics spilling out in one hit from start to finish – "Probably my favourite song on the album," Helen admits. The lazy lounge romance of Lee and Nancy-style "Songs Of Summer" is a co-write with Steve Parkin, and features Sparkadia's Alex Burnett. Disco makes an appearance on "Challenge', the first song written for the LP, while the baseline swagger of "Accolade" was crafted with the help of Alexander Gow, who Helen teamed up with during a stint at a writers' retreat in Byron Bay.
"It's something that's really fun to me: composing all the instruments and fleshing out the parts," says Helen of this record's creation. "This record, I'm incredibly proud of it. I pinch myself regularly, realising it's done, and wondering how the hell did I pull it off?"
Heartfelt, diverse, and seriously enchanting, Gossling's debut album is the sound of an artist fully coming into her own. Easily one of 2013's finest releases, Harvest Of Gold leaves an impact all its own.
Harvest Of Gold is released on November 1, 2013 via Dew Process.
In a relatively brief span of time, Colony House has emerged as a vibrant creative force, as well as a beloved fan favorite with a passionate, fiercely loyal fan base. That audience is likely to expand substantially with the release of When I Was Younger, the Nashville, TN trio's first full-length album, whose 14 compelling original tunes fulfill the abundant promise of the band's three widely-acclaimed, self-released EPs.
It's not surprising that Colony House has struck a resonant chord with listeners. The threesome maintains a balance of craft and immediacy that reflects its affinity for the sound of such alt-rock outfits as Interpol and The Killers, while echoing the influence of such alternative icons as U2 and New Order. They've assimilated their multiple influences in a manner that's wholly distinctive, adding tight harmonies, strong instrumental chops and a keen melodic sensibility that's all their own.
Lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter Caleb Chapman writes effortlessly infectious tunes that resonate with personal experience and emotional authority. The songs' messages of faith, hope and perseverance are matched by the organic musical rapport of Caleb and his bandmates, brother Will Chapman on drums and Scott Mills on lead guitar and harmony vocals.
"The songs I write have always come from deep places, whether they're deep places of joy or deep places of hurt, and it can be hard inviting people into those places with you," Caleb states.
That openhearted attitude is reflected throughout When I Was Younger, both in Caleb's expressive vocals and in the band's vivid performances of such personally-charged tunes as "Silhouettes," "Second Guessing Games," "Keep On Keeping On," "Waiting for My Time to Come" and "Won't Give Up," which exemplify the combination of sharp lyrical insight and indelible melodic craft that makes Colony House special.
As When I Was Younger demonstrates, much of Colony House's appeal lies in the three bandmates' powerful rapport, which extends into every aspect of their lives—and which has defined their approach towards the music.
"Our musical and personal chemistry goes hand in hand," Caleb affirms. "The three of us are best friends, which means that at any given moment we are each other's worst enemies as well. Being in a band is like being in a marriage—it's a constant reminder of your own pride, and a reminder that you have to be willing to sacrifice in order for it to be successful. We've made a conscious effort to build the foundation of the band on our friendship, and then letting that spill over into our creative relationship."
As the sons of Contemporary Christian pop superstar Steven Curtis Chapman, Caleb and Will Chapman have been steeped in music for their entire lives. They began making music together in early childhood, playing with their dad as well as their own combos. In 2009 they joined forces with Scott Mills, who they'd met through a cousin. Although initially known collectively as Caleb, the trio rechristened themselves Colony House in 2013, borrowing the name of an apartment complex in their hometown of Franklin, where Will and Scott as well as Caleb's future wife had all lived prior to the band's formation.
The new combo quickly began to win attention, bringing its charismatic live shows to fans via diligent touring, while earning critical raves with a series of acclaimed EPs: Colony House, Trouble and To the Ends of the World. Along the way, the band members found time to pursue other musical adventures, with Caleb collaborating with Will's wife, singer Jillian Edwards, as the In-Laws, and Will moonlighting playing drums on tour with noted indie combo Ivan and Alyosha.
But Colony House remains the focus of their musical lives, as When I Was Younger makes clear. "We labored on the album for a long time," Caleb notes. "We began recording it in September 2012 and finished it in July 2013. We had our dear friends Joe Causey and Ben Shive co-produce it, which made it a very special experience. They knew that this was our first full-length project, and I think that they felt the responsibility to help us tell our story the right way.
"Creating this record had such a strong set of contrasting emotions: joy, hope, frustration, sorrow, uncertainty, confidence," he continues.
"These songs are questions that I have been wrestling with for months, sometimes years," Caleb asserts. "They're stories I had been trying to write in the dim light of my 100-square-foot room long before they were ever brought to life in a studio. We created the album conceptually, trying to keep in mind the rules of telling a story. There must be a dramatic arc, a beginning, a middle and an end. So in that way, every song is a piece of the equation. The front half of the album is a bit more lighthearted and fun, and then the back half gets a bit heavier. And the last third, starting with 'Won't Give Up,' is very important to us."
Perhaps the most startling aspect of When I Was Younger is the band's forthrightness in addressing some deeply personal, emotionally raw issues, most notably the accidental death of Caleb and Will's 5-year-old adoptive sister Maria Sue in 2008. That tragedy is addressed on several of the album's songs, including "Keep On Keeping On" and "Won't Give Up," underlining the songs' recurring themes of faith and family.
"It has been a difficult thing to do, sharing your family tragedy when telling your story or singing your songs," Caleb states. "But I think that it's important to tell. Everyone has a story of pain, of heartbreak, of a letdown or failure, and that is a thread that ties us all together—the ones on stage and the ones in the crowd. We were dealt a painful hand, but it's what has bound us together so tightly. We want to create honest art, and this is the most important thing that has happened in our lives, so it would be a hard thing to leave out of our story."
That heart-on-sleeve honesty is just one of the qualities that make Colony House a special band, and make When I Was Younger such a remarkable musical statement.
"We believe that we have a story to tell—a story of hope and perseverance—and that's what we want to leave people with," Caleb concludes. "We are not in the business of writing tragedies. We have experienced tragedy, but we've also seen hope triumph. Our faith is woven throughout everything we do musically, just as it's woven into the foundation of our lives."
Odessa Rose was born and raised by the ocean.
She takes you with her inside her song, into a world all her own, and paints a picture you have never seen before. These days she lives in the city of Los Angeles.
True to the ever-present dichotomies that serve as a source of inspiration for her, Lia Ices' emotionally driven and experimental pop music is both avant-garde and timeless. A natural yet refined grace permeates her work: she is a piano herself. Dancing on a finely crafted line between the percussive qualities of her instrument, and the melodic elements within the rhythm of her voice, Ices' music reveals itself as epiphany. With such overt elegance as if from a bygone era, listening to her songs inspires a psychic time slip, and its hard to know if you're wading in the warmest of memories or awed by the invention and glow of new surroundings.
The album starts with an inviting whisper on stand-out track "Love is Won", as Ices' vocals "O you know I need yer mystic mind" are accompanied by solo piano. Less than a minute in, we start to catch a glimpse at the depths of the record as we find ourselves, all of a sudden, in the midst of a swaying, swaggering down tempo soul, punctuated by bass and drum interplay.
The quiet moments are very quiet, and the space within them is palpable. On "Lilac," a single voice occupies the intimate yet expansive space generated by sparse acoustic guitar and bass. Such a delicate balance is struck that when slight brushwork enters, its impact is surprisingly startling. The warm directness is perhaps best exemplified in a moment of stand out vocals as Ices sings beseechingly, "For only you, I sing for only you, I sing." Ices' voice floats and flutters around you, like the leaves from trees on a fleeting fall day, and the instrumentation matches that subtle dynamism. Grown Unknown is a walk in the park on a day of carnival, the most beautiful day so far this year.
Appearing as a guest vocalist for "Daphne," the only duet on the album, is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The magic generated by Ices' and Vernon's voices together is quite simply a powerful thing. Enjoy.
Grown Unknown was recorded at The Clubhouse, Rhinebeck, NY, and mixed at Rare Book Room, NY, NY.