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Drive-By Truckers - Drive-By Truckers
DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS English Oceans (ATO Records) Release date: March 4, 2014 Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Brad Morgan, Jay Gonzalez, Matt Patton English Oceans, the 12th release by Athens, Georgia’s Drive-By Truckers, is an elegantly balanced and deeply engaged new effort that finds the group refreshed and firing on all cylinders. All but one of the collection’s 13 new songs, written by singer-guitarists and co-founding members Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley, were recorded during 13 days of sessions in August 2013 with longtime producer David Barbe. Six of the songs were the result of a burst of writing activity by Cooley. “I had time to write,” Cooley says. “After we came off the road last time, we decided we were going to let it rest for a while. So I had time to really focus. I kind of had to re-learn how to write, because I didn’t write as many songs as I’d wanted on the last couple of records. I was happy with these songs, and thrilled to go in and record so many that I felt real strongly about.” Hood notes, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a record where Cooley was as deeply involved in every aspect of the making of it as he was this time. With Cooley’s writing, there’s almost no precedent for it in our catalog. He came in with this stunning bunch of songs, full of this beautiful imagery.” Writing independently, Cooley and Hood penned songs that dovetailed brilliantly with each other. Hood says, “Every song on this record connects with another song. I noticed Cooley’s got a line in ‘Primer Coat’ about ‘apron strings,’ and I have the exact same image in one of my songs, ‘Hanging On.’ It goes on and on and on like that on this record, and that’s a pretty good sign for things, particularly given how different our temperaments are and our styles of writing are.” Cooley and Hood’s brace of character-based songs depict a neatly interlocking gallery of relationships, often in dissolution and discord. The last song written and recorded for the album, Hood’s rave-up “Pauline Hawkins,” was based on a new novel by Willy Vlautin and penned after another of his compositions was scrapped. Hood says, “There was such a balance between Cooley’s songs and my songs that taking a song off the record would upset the balance a little bit. I liked the back-and-forth flow, like our shows tend to do. I got an advance copy of Willy’s latest book, The Free. I’ve been a fan of his writing for a while. I read it in about three days. I finished it on Saturday, I wrote the song on Sunday, and then we cut it on Thursday and mastered the record on the following Monday. It sure makes it a better record.” DBT’s ever-keen political edge can be seen in two songs on the release. Cooley’s “Made Up English Oceans” derives from his interest in the career of Lee Atwater, the Republican operative who was active in the Reagan and Bush campaigns of the ‘80s. “He was the guy that Karl Rove and all of the modern dirty tricksters looked to – he was one of the granddaddies of it all. That song is from his point of view, fictionally of course. It’s him making his pitch, telling what he understands about young, Southern men.” Hood says “The Part of Him” was inspired by the procession of scandals that plague the political world year after year. “It’s about political assholery -- there’s someone new playing that role every few months,” he says. “As soon as we get rid of one of them, someone comes up and starts playing that part again.” Reflecting the renewed high level of collaboration between the band’s two principals, English Oceans marks an unprecedented event: the recording of a Hood song, “Til He’s Dead or Rises,” with Cooley assuming the lead vocal. Cooley says, “I remember Patterson was getting frustrated trying to sing it. He was doing fine, but it seemed like there was something he wanted to do that wasn’t coming. I was in the control room thinking, ‘I could probably sing this’ -- though it wasn’t like I was saying, ‘Oh, I can sing this a lot better than that.’ I was thinking, ‘This sounds like something I could sing.’ Right after that, he walks into the control room and says, ‘You want to trying singing this? It sounds more like you than me.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I was just thinking that.’” “Grand Canyon,” the final song on the album, is an emotionally overwhelming elegy for Craig Lieske, a longtime member of DBT’s touring family. The former manager of Athens’ 40 Watt Club and a key player in the city’s experimental music scene, Lieske died suddenly of a heart attack in January 2013 following the first night of the band’s three-night homecoming stand in Athens. English Oceans is dedicated to him. “I probably wrote it in 15 minutes,” Hood says. “It wasn’t any kind of a conscious thing. It’s the most important song of mine on the record. I wrote new songs to go with it. It recalibrated something. It became a totally different record for me than the record I thought we were going to make.” The album was recorded with a compact, retooled lineup. Jay Gonzalez, who joined the band in 2008 as keyboardist, stepped into an expanded role by adding guitar to his duties, while bassist Matt Patton was drafted from the Tuscaloosa group The Dexateens. The unit was road-tested during dates in 2013. Cooley says, “This lineup is so direct. It can go from this chainsaw rock ‘n’ roll to very delicate, pretty-sounding stuff.” We wrote a lot of those kinds of songs, and this lineup got all of that well. Hood agrees: “We recorded with a stripped-down lineup that gave things a more primal and immediate feel. It’s a more turn-on-a-dime kind of thing, which suits these songs, and us as a band. It’s a very tasteful group, and when it needs to be it can be a very big, powerful, over-the-top band, too, and it can go from one to the other seamlessly.” Looking at the accomplishments of English Oceans from the perspective of DBT’s nearly three-decade history, both Cooley and Hood decline to hedge their bets on the quality of their latest work. “You’re always hesitant to say, ‘Oh, this is the best record we’ve ever made,’” Cooley says, “because you always want to. And sometimes you say it, and sometimes you’re right, and sometimes you think, ‘Well, maybe I jumped the gun on that a little bit, I got excited.’ But I think this just might be the best record we’ve ever made.” Hood concurs enthusiastically: “It’s my favorite thing that we’ve ever done. I’m proud of our catalog – we always try to make as good a record as we can make. Sometimes things just work. This time, we made kind of a magical record. I’ve always felt that Decoration Day was our best record, and this is the first one that I think is a better record than that was. Every piece of the puzzle fit.” Publicity: Traci Thomas / Thirty Tigers / 615.664.1167 / traci@thirtytig
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How To Dress Well - How To Dress Well LIVE Concert
Tune in on Wednesday, September 17th to watch How to Dress Well perform LIVE from Irving Plaza, in New York, NY. Catch a new LIVE concert from Live Nation, on <a href="https://screen.yahoo.com/live"> Yahoo Live </a>daily, 365 days a year
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How To Dress Well - How To Dress Well
HOW TO DRESS WELL BIO Since the release of his debut album Love Remains in 2010, Tom Krell - AKA How to Dress Well - has crafted a reputation as one of America’s most original, focused and beguiling young songwriters. Merging ever surprising production choices and aesthetic detail with a sensual but sincere R&B influence and a deep, grounded emotionality, Krell has steadily established himself as one of the most influential figures in contemporary experimental pop music and a new How to Dress Well release has become something of an event. Arriving two years after the haunting, glacial neo-soul of 2012’s much-loved Total Loss, “What Is This Heart?” is the next step in this most unique and searching artistic trajectory. Its twelve songs were conceived and written during months of grueling international touring and realized with co-producer Rodaidh Mcdonald in a Berlin studio in the height of summer 2013. The result is an ambitious 21st century pop album that creates and inhabits its very own hinterland of spiritual fragility, fearless love and sexuality, deep pain, and overwhelming joy. It’s an album that celebrates the possible healing power of American pop music in its various guises while also exploding predictable pop conventions and once again asserts Krell as an artist of great courage, taste and craft. “What Is This Heart?” is a record that delves deeply into the core of the psyche and touches on themes of isolation, loss and existential anguish, but in the end finds something like redemption in the infinite possibilities of love. Its songs tackle feelings of anxiety, fear, lack of control, nightmare, death, pain, pleasure, pride and shame, trust and commitment with an honesty and intimacy that is rare in the contemporary age. “One of the major themes that's stuck in my thinking over the last year and a half is the question of whether or not the contemporary social order has room for love,” says Krell. “It strikes me that the contemporary order truly threatens a really important constellation of basic human emotions, i.e. sympathy for self and other, existentially rooted and rooting sadness, tenderness, and again love. But I've also seen and been in amazing love. Several pairs of my best friends got married this year and in the presence of these ceremonies, witnessing people declare their love for one another out loud, I felt so fundamentally moved.” Teasing a first glimpse of the ground covered on “What Is This Heart?” Krell shared “Words I Don’t Remember” in March. Thematically, the song is signature HTDW: as Krell puts it in his uniquely focused way, “it’s a song about love, trust, commitment. The possibility of 'authentic' love when sentimentality is so co-opted and reified and also the idea of the 'authentic' is totally dubious.” However, with its bracing, up-front vocal, unadorned but poetic language and assured and warm production, “Words I Don’t Remember” is a good representation of the new sonic ground covered by the record itself. It sounds massive yet intimate, merging sounds from Krell’s first two records with something decisively new. If Total Loss saw Krell embracing a new sense of crystalline clarity and bold minimalism in comparison to the intoxicating atmospheric fog which enveloped much of his debut, Love Remains, then “What Is This Heart?” is an even bigger step forward both sonically and thematically. More confident, daring and open than any How to Dress Well release thus far, “What Is This Heart?” is at once Krell’s most deeply personal work and also his most universal in resonance – unifying his prescient understanding of modern production techniques and aesthetics with an increasingly mature songwriting voice that evokes great American singer- songwriters like Bill Callahan and Mark Kozelek as much as it does his numerous, oft-quoted R&B reference points. This is most obvious on album opener “2 Years On (Shame Dream),” a beautiful acoustic guitar ballad that sees Krell at his most emotionally naked, weaving a dream-narrative of a childhood experience in almost uncomfortable close-up in a manner that echoes Elliott Smith’s fragile intensity, but with a more impressionistic poetic sensibility. For Krell, emotional confidence is the key to “What Is This Heart?” – there is no hiding in these songs. “I mean, it's just extremely brave”, says Krell. “I've always been obsessed by a record like ‘For You’ by Tracy Chapman, and although this isn't a whole record of bare acoustic guitar tunes, I tried to bring that openness and unabashed and unashamed quality to everything on this record. I sing clear, I sing loud. It feels important to me, like a really important step”. Krell describes his tastes as being “omnivorous,” and cites Spiritualized, Lou Reed, Prince, Everything but the Girl, and PM Dawn as recent listening that had a profound effect on what is certainly his most eclectic work to date. One can hear the shimmering pads and distant beats of Burial’s most recent work underneath elegiac declarations in “A Power,” one of the record’s darker, more foreboding songs whilst effervescent, almost gospel-like lead single “Repeat Pleasure” is without doubt his most perfect, pure-pop moment to date despite containing one of the album’s most melancholy lyrics, a juxtaposition which in itself neatly encapsulates the How to Dress Well project. Elsewhere, the colossal string swells of “Pour Cyril” revisit Krell’s Love Remains-era dedication to noisey, ambient melodic music though it is paired on “What Is This Heart?” with massive, classical composition and a prayerful, clearly sung centerpiece. Meanwhile, on “Face Again,” over an industrial-inflected beat Krell delivers one of the purest vocal performances he's put to record – sounding like a paranoid Michael Jackson – but also manipulates his own voice throughout the song to sound at one moment like something off Yeezus and at another moment to sound like a Gregorian chorus. Furthering the diversity of sounds on “What Is This Heart?” are “Childhood Faith In Love” and “House Inside” which both dare to venture into early 00’s emo. “Some of the main references for 'Childhood Faith in Love' were songs from that zone and era,” says Krell. “Stuff like Saves the Day, for instance, or 'The Middle' by Jimmy Eat World. Just, like, sad, but joyous and youthful and unashamed about failing and feeling like shit and being in love and letting love move us thoroughly and sweepingly.” It’s a testament to Krell’s enduring skill as a writer and performer and also to his fierce sense of self, that influences as disparate as those exhibited on “What Is This Heart?” can be consumed into such an absorbingly coherent and immediately identifiable whole: yet, this so should not come as a surprise, given that Krell has been confounding expectations, defying genre conventions and starting conversations since the release of his debut EP in 2009. “What Is This Heart?” is a rare album from a rare artist at the top of his game. “This is at once my most extremely personal and most universal record yet,” suggests Krell. “Pushing further in these seemingly opposite directions at the same time has always been my goal. I’ve always believed that in the deepest part of each of our hearts, there where each of us are most specifically ourselves and no one else, that weirdly at that moment we are actually as close as possible to what is universally human--- that in the extreme, the personal is the universal. I think that in asking this question we can go to that place: this is how and why I've asked myself, "What is this Heart?"”