The National special vinyl editions & catch-up - January 30, 2015
- SNL > O2 Arena
As much as we love to surprise you, we know that whatever news we have concerning The National has probably already been seen and reacted to by at least a few thousand people. That's kind of how things work with these guys nowadays. Everyone's in the loop. Even your mom. But it’s okay, we still want you to feel special for keeping up because we know you have good taste, and also because your mom seems really cool.
Even though it’s been a year since we’ve posted anything about them here at Brassland, we still watch The National from afar like an anxious parent secretly monitoring their child’s Facebook account. It’s about time we caught up with our old friends, because they’ve got a lot exciting things going on right now. And though we may stare at their Instagram photos with a kind of vicarious jealousy, we just tell ourselves they can’t be having that much fun without us, right?
That’s what we thought.
Now, prepare to have your mind blown: hanging out with Clifford is not the most exciting thing to happen to The National recently. But that’s only because their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, has just been nominated for a Grammy!
[Insert rousing applause]
All we can say is the “Best Alternative Music Album” category better batten down the hatches, because a baritone storm is coming. We’ve got our fingers crossed.
But wait, you think. Why is there still this much article left? What could possibly top the exciting news of a Grammy nomination? Well, maybe you forgot The National just had a documentary made about them, in which case… surprise! They’ve had a documentary made about them! And it may just be coming to a theater near you.
The film, Mistaken for Strangers, was directed by Tom Berninger (brother of lead vocalist Matt Berninger) and chronicles his experience as he accompanies the band on tour. Maybe you saw it when it screened on the opening night of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival (yes, that happened). It’s part tour documentary, part personal journey, and all definitely worth seeing. It turns out a film about The National is just as emotionally poignant as their music. Don’t believe us? Check out the press it’s been getting, and watch the trailer below.
Mistaken for Strangers will have its theatrical premier during one big concert-slash-screening event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles this coming March. If you’re lucky enough to be in LA when this hits and you still haven’t gotten tickets… well, there's only so much we can say.
See? From Grammys to documentary films, we weren’t exaggerating when we said there was a lot of exciting news. Ah, the joy of catching up with old friends, especially when they’re this cool. You didn’t hear it from us, but we may be plotting some… commemorative objects to celebrate the loving LTR (long-term relationship) between Brassland and The National. What are your opinions on promise rings?
Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled for more news about our favorite indie rockers. Till then…
Godspeed you, The National.
Brassland takes Éire, The Gloaming snare year-end honors - December 09, 2014
Brassland has landed in Ireland! No awkward puns or repetitive use of verbs intended! For a thorough round up of what's going on, take a listen to this hourlong podcast prepared by Dublin's National Concert Hall. It also serves as a great capsule history of the label.
Alternatively, if you try to observe the "pod-" in podcasting, you may download part one and part two from Soundcloud (or, if you're a real traditionalist, via iTunes). They were produced by the most-excellent Ben Eshmade in honor of NCH's just-as-excellent Perspectives series which launched this year with our Brassland weekend as its flagship presentation.
Downloaded those podcasts yet? Well, steel yourselves for 60 megabyte's of MP3 chatter from Bryce Dessner (The National, Clogs), both Buke and Gase(s), Kate Stables (This Is The Kit), Thomas Bartlett (Doveman, The Gloaming), and Alec Hanley Bemis. For another perspective on what we're bringing to Perspectives read this feature from The Irish Times culture section ran about our main draw, a free-flowing songwriter's circle featuring Mr. Bartlett alongside Glen Hansard, Anna Calvi, Lisa O'Neill and Paul Noonan.
Word on the street is that most of these shows are going to sell out. *blush* A little drunk leprechaun whispered this to us in a clipped accent after showing us the way to a pile of gold at the end of a double rainbow. Yes, at this point, we're practically trying to turn people away, starting with offensive news bulletins.
However, as a peacemaking gesture, we've added an invite-only conversation on Saturday between Irish Times critic Tony Clayton-Lea and label co-founder Alec Hanley Bemis, who claims to be "at least 33% Irish" (we're quoting). As well, This Is The Kit and Buke and Gase are touring the countryside in the run-up to the Brassland @ NCH weekend.
THIS IS THE KIT
- Tues 9: Wexford - The Sky And The Ground
- Weds 10: Cork - Coughlans
- Fri 12: Kilkenny - Cleere's Bar & Theatre
- Sat 13: Dublin - National Concert Hall
BUKE AND GASE
- Thurs 11: Belfast - Aether & Echo
- Fri 12: Dingle - St. James Church (Other Voices)
- Sat 13: Dublin - National Concert Hall
Note that the dates include a Buke and Gase visit to Dingle for this year's Other Voices taping. We're overjoyed to announce they'll be included in next year's broadcast, a follow-up of sorts to This Is The Kit's memorable appearance on the 2013 edition.
If that wasn't enough of an Irish overload, The Gloaming continue to build on their previously announced album-of-the-year mentions by Mojo, The Irish Times, Nialler9 and Mashable with their inclusion on NPR Music's list of the year's 50 best records. Says NPR personality Bob Boilen: "There has never been an album quite like this, spare and textured, representing past and future as well as transcending all you may think you know about Irish music."
While we still have blood left for blushing & screenspace left to type upon, may we point you toward the announcement of Perspectives 2015. If we haven't just caused an international incident with our smarmy American humor, we think this is the beginning of a lovely friendship...
The Gloaming tour the west coast, the world & Ireland; meet Sting - November 10, 2014
Cool thing alert: immediately after we released The Gloaming's self-titled debut, it began popping up on "top 10 records of 2014...so far" lists: Mojo said it all the way back in March. The Irish Times newspaper placed it at #1 in June. (Hip Irish blog Nialler9 has it at #6 because, well, blogs.) And just this week Mashable placed it at #2 in their "visually stunning album covers of 2014" list.
And now that we've gotten the cool/cool stuff out of the way, let’s get to the weird/cool stuff: Why yes, that is The Gloaming’s Martin Hayes standing next between Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson and Sting. Isn't that weird? But also kinda cool? Here's the story: A month ago Hayes was honored with the Spirit of Ireland Award at a gala thrown by New York City’s Irish Arts Center. Not only were Mr. Byrne and Mr. Neeson nice enough to show up at the ceremony, Mr. Sting performed a special set of music alongside The Gloaming’s Dennis Cahill and Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett. The gala also raised a bunch of money for the Irish Arts Center. Yay art!
More important for you, the contemporary music fan who lives somewhere on planet earth probably not in New York City: The Gloaming continue to draw sell out crowds at iconic venues around the world. In recent week they made their Australian debut at the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne Festival, and touched down for shows in The Netherlands and Germany. No need to bother with rankings when it comes to the band's live show. The Sydney Morning Herald gave their gig ★★★★★ calling it "a concert to blaze in the memory." Seeing as they use a 5-star rating system, you can't get better than that. Further live dates have been announced for the Great Hall in Auckland, New Zealand and London’s Barbican Center.
And what about North America you might ask? Well, the band have three gigs scheduled this week, their first on the west coast. Here they are.
November 12: Freight & Salvage – Berkeley, CA
November 14: Mondavi Center – Davis, CA
November 15: Chan Centre - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Buy your tickets now! Most of these dates are almost sold out. The group are being coy on their plans for a return to our fine continent, but rest assured, more dates are being plotted for 2015. We swear! We were talking to a guy about a thing just last week.
Oh, last but not least. If you’re considering an Irish vacation, we have two great Brassland-centric musical experiences to give your trip an extra bit of artistic zazzle. For you advance planners out there, The Gloaming have announced a three-night stand at the National Concert Hall in Dublin, Ireland starting in February 2015. Fortunately for The Gloaming the shows sold out under 72 hours after they went on sale; unfortunately for you, I guess you actually can’t plan your vacation around it. (Though we here there are scalpers, even in Ireland.)
There are, however, still tickets available for the label's two-night stand at that very same venue, and those gigs are only a month away. The shows take place on Saturday December 13 and Sunday December 14. Get your tickets here & here, forthwith, are the details:
Saturday December 13th
3pm: Crash Ensemble performing the music of Bryce Dessner
4:30pm: This is the Kit
6:30pm: Buke and Gase
Sunday December 14th
8:00pm: Doveman’s Burgundy Stain Sessions featuring Anna Calvi, Glen Hansard (Swell Season, Once, The Frames), Paul Noonan (Bell X-1) and Lisa O’Neill
You'll notice that since our last announcement, the lovely & talented Anna Calvi has been added to the Burgundy Stain performance. (Sounds of the South regrettably had to cancel. And no, we're not sure what's up with that.)
To tie it all together, here is a sampling of the Doveman-produced EP that Ms. Calvi released this past summer. It's a cover of Keren Ann's "Strange Weather" and features duet partner David Byrne.
Maybe if you come to our thing in Dublin this December you can hear this thing live? (Sans David Byrne, natch.) Either way, the event should be pretty cool. Literally and metaphorically. We've recently been informed December gets pretty chilly in Ireland.
Jherek Bischoff launches Kickstarter, tours OZ with Missy Higgins - September 23, 2014
UPDATE NOVEMBER 4, 2014: The Kickstarter surpassed its goal by 50% reaching over $23,000, and triggering the release of an exclusive digital EP just for backers! Yay Jherek! Yay backers!
It's been over a year since we've brought you any Jherek Bischoff news. Which is not to say there hasn't been any. This versatile composer/producer/sideman/arranger is just so prolific he's hard to keep up with. We couldn't report on everything unless we turned www.brassland.org into a 24-7 Jherek Bischoff news service. (Come to think of it, for something like that experience you should check out his Twitter feed, or ours.)
Anyhoo, there are two pieces of particularly BIG NEWS to announce at the moment, so let us break the drought: (1) Jherek's just announced his forthcoming Brassland release, Cistern, and (2) he is in Australia for the next two months, supporting Missy Higgins on her OZ project, which he helped create. Before we get into the details, though, watch this video and contribute to help make Jherek's next record a reality.
Ah, the wonders of crowdfunding & multi-media: Putting record labels & writers out of business since 2009ish. Ha ha! Ahem....
On a more sincere note: We at Brassland are total geeks for ambient music. From Satie and Eno's placid zone-out soundtracks to Terry Riley and Aphex Twin's more wigged-out explorations of the form, ambient music is often the kind of tuneage that makes non-believers say "Hey, my kid could do that!" but, believe us, the subtle skill and sly restraint required to compose ambient music that you can listen to again and again and again is, in our opinion, one of the real signs of genius. And, on that front, Cistern is the music that sold us on working with Jherek in the first place: a series of ambient pieces written for chamber orchestra that may not break new ground, but certainly could become your "on repeat" digital go-to tracks or a re-spun turntable fave. (Yep, we will be releasing this on vinyl.) Inspired by the echoey confines of a 2-million gallon, empty water tank near Jherek's native Seattle, the appropriately named Cistern was recorded with hot-s**t contemporary classical ensemble Contemporaneous, and is planned for release in early spring 2015.
If you're new to Jherek's world, we've created this pay-what-you-wish Bandcamp sampler of his music in honor of the Kickstarter. Im fact, if you want a taste of what you're being asked to fund, the last track on the sampler is a demo for the title track of the new album. Stream or download it right here:
Speaking of Jherek and new worlds, have you heard that he's doing a 25-date tour of...Australia? Did you even know that such a thing was possible? (Australia's population: 23 million-ish. # of major cities: maybe 5. Do the math.) The occasion for this amazing happening is not the inexplicable trendiness of ambient orchestral music in Australia; nor is it that Jherek is touring tiny, DIY squats started by classical geeks. (Nope most of the concerts will be for audiences of around 1,000.) Here's the deal: in addition to creating his new record in 2014, Jherek has been quite busy this year working with Australian pop star Missy Higgins to co-produce her new album OZ. It is her attempt to define "the Australian songbook," and features intriguingly orchestrated (ahem, thanks Bischoff) cover versions of songs by artists such as the Go-Betweens, Slim Dusty, Something For Kate, the DiVinyls, Paul Kelly, and...wait for it...the Drones! We were surprised and delighted when we got our ears on the first release from Missy's new album, when we discovered it was from our old friends the Drones, who you may remember from the cross-country American tour they did with Devastations back in 2008. Missy's take on their song "Shark Fin Blues" sure took us back, and aback, in a good way:
This all goes to prove the old saying: "In the music business, some people are just good to work with—and Bischoff’s clearly one." Actually that's not an old saying at all but something that appeared in the Seattle Weekly's recent best of issue where they named Jherek as Seattle's best collaborator. Weirdly, we've never heard about these supposed good-people-to-work-with in the music business, but then again, we're not journalists, are quite sure they did their research, and think the "good to work with" bit certainly applies to Jherek.
Speaking of which, we're going to skip some of the other exciting stuff he's had going on—including his deepening relationship with Kronos Quartet (!?!); his lovely contribution to the Sony Masterworks compilation Red Hot + Bach; his well-reviewed and sold-out concerts at Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse; this theater music collaboration Johnny Breitwieser: A Criminal Ballad from Vienna which will premiere in Austria this November; and his full-orchestral arrangement of ex-Hüsker Dü member Grant Hart's new music for the ensemble Stargaze which premiered this summer at some European rock festivals.
Oh wait, we managed to cram it all into this post. Yay. Now give him (and us) some of your money to help assure there's plenty more to come.
Buke and Gase offer new song, USA, Irish & UK tour date(s) - August 29, 2014
Let's get the most fun part out of the way first: Buke and Gase have just posted their new song "Seam Esteem" to Bandcamp for free download. Grab it:
"Seam Esteem" premiered on All Songs Considered. You can also stream it on their Soundcloud.
I know what you're thinking: These announcements came out of the blue. What gives? Well, hopefully you're already one of the lucky internet browsers who caught wind of the their Soundcloud postings from March to June of this year, during which the duo shared aural snapshots & snippets of recent improvs, recording experiments & works-in-process. As the band put it: "These sketches became the basis of our Soundcloud #MondayMissions project. Inspired by an article by Brad Troemel " in The New Inquiry Magazine about "athletic aesthetics”, we began posting a short track every Monday as an exercise in communicating more with our audience and involving them in the process. This required us to take a stab at our standards of Quantity-Vs-Quality on a weekly basis, and the sense of urgency to reveal something vulnerable gave us an added creative boost."
It's finally been revealed what all this (atypical-for-them) internet activity was leading up to: namely, the finished song "Seam Esteem," some chatter about a new record in-the-works and, more concretely, a 9-date tour that will take them through the northeastern quadrant of North America: Montreal to the north, Chicago to the west, Philly to south and, naturally, a Brooklyn homecoming.
And here's another more concrete thing: the entire run of #MondayMissions in the form of a single-playlist. (At least as long as they leave it live on the interwebs.)
We'll wrap up this post with a little congrats to the Bukes on their latest experiment. We've been blown away since the day we met them with their ability to balance considerable creativity and freedom with the qualities needed to spread the products of that creativity far & wide: resourcefulness, a work ethic, self-sufficiency and a general capability to get shit done. DIY has always been part of Brassland's DNA, and continues to be part of it, be it This is the Kit's relentless European touring, or Jherek Bischoff's home-recorded orchestral innovations. But Buke and Gase have embodied the idea in ways that would challenge any band in the history of music, ever.
It's been a joy to work with them, and we hope to continue doing so — which reminds us, they're also planning to take part in this crazy event we're doing in Ireland this December. You can BUY TICKETS for their first ever Dublin gig right now. More plans in the UK and Ireland to come...