Where It's At Is Where You Are
£9.99Darren Hayman is a thoughtful, concise and detailed songwriter. He eschews the big, the bright and the loud for the small, twisted and lost.Visit product page →
For 15 years, and over 14 albums, Hayman has taken a singular and erratic route through England’s tired and heartbroken underbelly. He returns with a powerful new collection of songs based based on William Morris's Chants for Socialists. The album was recorded at three of Morris’s homes; The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow (with a choir of left-leaning locals), Kelmscott House in Hammersmith (where they used the Albion press used by Morris to handprint the record sleeves) and Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire, (where Hayman played Morris's own piano).
The result is a beautifully crafted album, lovingly produced with a team of enthusiastic helpers who lent their expertise and time, which will be made available to anyone who wants to listen, allowing people to pay what they can afford or what they think it’s worth. Chants for Socialists is an album of 19th century chants made relevant to the 21st century while staying true to many of William Morris’s ideals. Darren explains the process below: In 2012, I found a photocopied leaflet in the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow, called ‘Chants for Socialists’. It struck me as a bold and divisive title. Not one you would be likely to find on a record or CD today. There are very few of my contemporaries that sing political songs and I understand why.
Today’s politics can be very nuanced and personal. The way we discuss today’s problems can be hard to reduce to a song or short poem. Political songs can be gauche and hectoring. I struggle myself, and can only really claim to have written a handful of overtly political songs over a 15-album career. William Morris wrote these lyrics in the late 19th century; they were to be sung to the popular tunes of the times. In only two cases did he specify a particular melody. I saw these as ‘emergency’ protest songs, something to draw on in times of strife. I think we are in troubled times. I regard these as useful lyrics. Morris grouped these songs under a banner of socialism and I class myself as a socialist, but these songs, to me, are more about simple kindness and hope.
I acknowledge the naivety and rhetoric in these words. They offer few practical solutions for today, but I love their simplicity. They make me feel young again. They remind of the hope I had in the Red Wedge movement, and how politicised I was around the 1984 miner’s strike. Adapting the lyrics was not easy. In places I have edited hard and tried to contemporise the syntax. Elsewhere, I have been more faithful to Morris’s elliptical and florid prose. Similarly with the music, I have tried to build a bridge between the 19th and 21st centuries. I have dressed the songs with a simple, urban folk sound. Warm, fuzzy guitar distortion sits alongside broken pianos and dented brass.
I offer these songs as political, historical curiosities and as something to comfort aging lefties like myself. They are uplifting, songs to be sung in communities. A communal approach was taken in the recording of this album. The group vocals were recorded at two of Morris’ss former homes: the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow and Kelmscott House in Hammersmith. Singers were invited indiscriminately from the local area.
Morris’s own ‘Kelmscott’ letterpress was used to hand print the limited vinyl edition of the record, and I also travelled to another of Morris’s homes, Kelmscott Manor, to record his piano.
1. Awake London Lads
2. May Day 1894
3. March Of The Workers
4. The Day Is Coming
5. Down Amongst The Dead Men
6. A Death Song
7. All For The Cause
8. The Voice Of Toil
9. The Message Of The March Wind
10. No Master High Or Low
Where It's At Is Where You Are
£14.99Heavyweight White Vinyl LP.Visit product page →
Daylight Versions is the debut full-length album from London quintet The Leaf Library. The record is full of wonderfully woozy, drone-pop tunes about meteorology, the seasons and the incoming sea; from songs about the ghostly Suffolk coastline to the slowly rising waters of London marshes, these ten tracks channel the warm fuzz of Yo La Tengo, the spacious repetition of Talk Talk and Movietone’s seaside melancholy to beautiful effect.
Musically, the album is a shift away from the Stereolab and Electrelane influenced buzz and drone of the band’s previous singles. Aside from the propulsivenss of opening track “Asleep Between Stations”, the album has a more contemplative, nocturnal feel, with songs that gradually unfurl, with more horns, strings and pianos brought into the mix. This coupled with waves of synths and drones give the album a drifting, tidal feel throughout. In order to capture an expansive feel, and to make the most of music connections, The Leaf Library brought in a whole load of friends and collaborators.
The record features a plethora of guest talent including Steven James Adams, Rob Smoughton from Hot Chip, Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas from The Left Outsides, Daniel Fordham and David Stewart from The Drink, as well as Alasdair Maclean from The Clientele and Amor de Dias.
Lyrically Daylight Versions moves away from cities and buildings of their early work and towards the outdoors, the coast, the weather and the sea, with recurring themes of water and flooding (“Acre”, “Sailing Day”, “Pushing/Swmming”), as well as the seasons (“Tilting”, “Slow Spring”, “Summer Moon”).
The Leaf Library started out in Reading after Matt’s previous band (John Peel favourites) Saloon split in 2004. He started writing and recording with vocalist Kate Gibson and after moving to London, they were joined by bassist Gareth Jones (from Wintergreen) and guitarist Ben Smith, Matt’s housemate at the time. After a couple of temporary drummers, Lewis Young settled in for good, bringing with him an eclectic collection of synths and gadgets.
The Leaf Library have produced an album full of uneasy beauty. Graceful yet grandiose, Daylight Versions captures the feeling of living amongst England’s eccentric weather, of being on a small island floating in the North Sea, as it slowly disappears beneath the waves.
1. Asleep Between Stations
3. Slow Spring
5. Sailing Day
6. Rings of Saturn
8. Summer Moon
10. Evening Gathers
Where It's At Is Where You Are
£14.99Canadian musician Woodpigeon, a.k.a. Mark Andrew Hamilton, has emerged from a brief hiatus to release his sixth full-length. Merging the best of John Grant with Avalon era Roxy Music, Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night, and a nod towards Kanye West’s Yeezus, the sounds are transposed to a largely acoustic setting feeding off influences from his travels across the globe.Visit product page →
This is a record about rhythm and sex and sadness. Previous Woodpigeon LPs have been epic affairs about falling in love with the interplay between choirs and symphonies, guitars and voices. This one narrows things down to the finest point, because so often less is so much more.
As Hamilton points out: “It’s the loudest thing I’ve ever made.” He released his first four albums Songbook, Treasury Library Canada, Die Stadt Muzikanten and Balladeer via End of the Road Records, with Thumbtacks and Glue following via Fierce Panda. T R O U B L E features Woodpigeon’s current line-up of Mark Andrew Hamilton alongside Daniel Gaucher on percussion, Colin Edward Cowan on bass, and Annalea Sordi-McClure on keys. Guest appearances on the album come from David Thomas Broughton and Mary Margaret O’Hara.
Before this release, Hamilton had all but quit music following a messy heartbreak. He wandered the earth for two years, particularly inspired by time in Istanbul; “during the riots, no less - when you're particularly bummed out, getting tear gassed every day is a good distraction”.
Finally returned to Canada, he re-located to a collective house in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side and continued working on new material. It was freeing to write without any real rules. Many of the songs don’t follow typical formats and chord structures but rather fold in upon themselves in a cyclical way, patterns indirectly inspired by music he heard in Turkey and Argentina. “It’s almost mortifying to be so honest and direct”) initially confused the other players with their unusual structures.
Inspired by reading-up on personal hero Roy Orbison, who spoke of throwing out the rulebook of what a pop song should be, Hamilton thought; “I've already quit music, so I might not even make these songs into anything other than things I play for myself… so let's just see where they go on their own.” The songs were so different from anything that he had done before that Hamilton even toyed with changing the name to create a new beginning, a fresh start.
Despite being under the same Woodpigeon moniker, T R O U B L E is a huge step forward and the finest album of a storied career.
2.The Falling Tide
5.No Word Of A Lie
9.Whole Body Shakes