The John Steel Singers’ new album is out on now! Available on Double CD, LP & high quality digital download.
“…a dizzying mash-up of irresistible kinetic force: sunshine pop, surf pop, locked grooves, powerpop, ’70s pop smarts, highlife guitar.” MOJO****
“The More you listen, the more it pulls into focus as a fabulous soundtrack for a heatwave” The Guardian****
Look out for Autumn tour dates announced soon.
When unassuming young Orkney music-maker Erland Cooper picked up his guitar and travelled the length of the country to play a show in London’s Notting Hill, little did he know that a chance encounter with musical veteran Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good The Bad & The Queen, and Gorillaz) would be the start of a unique songwriting friendship. Together they formed Erland & The Carnival and now, nearly a decade later, arrives Closing Time – the band’s third, most accomplished album yet.
“Closing Time doesn’t mark the beginning of the end; rather it marks an end to permit a new beginning,” explains Erland. “When Summer dies it’s to let winter in, then spring opens it up again; it has to happen. It’s enjoyable when you accept that you have a limited time to make things happen to the best of your ability.”
Opening a new chapter, Closing Time is an understated, inward looking collection of songs that feature stunning string arrangements and Erland’s impassioned vocals at centre stage. But rather than the modern folk adaptations of traditional songs, children’s poems, and ancient literature on the band’s earlier albums or the pair’s recent conceptual folklore project The Magnetic North, this time the band tell tales of a more personal nature. “Previously we didn’t know what we wanted to say or how to say it and would use stories and direct references to help us get to a place we could feel secure,” admits Simon. Erland adds; “in making this record we discarded an album’s worth of material that sounded like the first two albums. We wanted to make something different – doing another Jackson C Frank cover wasn’t an option.”
Originally bonding over Jackson C Frank’s song ‘My Name is Carnival’ after his show all those years ago, Erland was first approached by Simon with a view to recording for his Butterfly folk label. The next day they were recording Frank’s song in the studio together and by the end of the session a band had formed. “It’s hard to find people who you instantly click with and Erland was one of those people” tells Simon. “He’s very driven and will get out of bed in the morning which is half the battle sometimes.”
Above all, Closing Time is the very first time the listener can truly hear the wholly collaborative process that is Erland & The Carnival. Lyrical and musical duties have always been shared, yet here the combined creativity of the pair’s working friendship is only solidified with Erland taking a more ‘hands on’ approach to production. The string arrangements, brought about by the album’s unashamed twisted and selfish love song ‘Quiet Love’, were scored by Simon before being recorded by a quartet in his living room later that week.
“We have an ‘open’ relationship. We’re both free to pursue other musical relationships and do – but then we always drift back to working with each other eventually,” explains Simon. “Over the years we’ve developed a very intuitive way of making music together which is really free, exciting and rewarding. To quote Woody Allen: ‘a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. The doc replies, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs.’ We need the eggs!”
Album track ‘I Am Joan’ sums up their rapport by referencing Simon’s nickname for Erland, Joan of Arc; “It’s a light-hearted play on how Erland carries troubles on his back and would rather burn at the stake than give in,” teases Simon. Elsewhere a wall of guitars with pounding John Cale-esque piano and Joy Division Arp keyboards, really drives ‘Birth Of A Nation’ whilst the beautifully simplistic ‘Daughter’ was written and recorded after Erland became a father for the first time – and half a bottle of whiskey. “I was trying to write and record the simplest song that can say a number of deeper things while saying something completely obvious,” says Erland. “It’s more about hopeful reassurance than departure. To be honest, that pretty much sums up the entire record to me,”
Recorded in Damon Albarn’s studio13 with previous Erland & The Carnival engineer Steve Sedgewick and mixed by London Grammar producer Tim Bran with Paul Weller guesting on two tracks. Despite creating more than 40 songs in the process of writing the album (“Some of the song melodies and ideas on this may have even been written when I was 21 to be honest. ‘Hopeless’ certainly was,” admits Erland), it was a brilliantly spontaneous and productive time taking just over 3 days to come to fruition. “We learnt to be incredibly disciplined” tells Simon. “It feels like pruning a tree – when you cut away the needless and weaker branches, what you get is something much fresher and stronger coming through.”
Check out the video for “Quiet Love” here:
Directed by James Moore and featuring Sienna Guillory.
“Curtains?!” is taken from Timber Timbre’s new album “Hot Dreams”, out now on CD / LP / MP3 / FLAC
Next up, take a listen to an alternative version of the track with Fiver on lead vocals:
Timber Timbre are playing live in Europe this summer, click here for full tour dates
The release of third album “Kid Face” in January brought Samantha’s music to a larger and broader set of audiences across Europe and gathered a huge amount of excellent press along the way. With that in mind, we thought it only right to give the back catalogue the attention it deserves. So on 2nd June 2014, you’ll be able to own:
If you pre-order any of the releases before 2nd June you’ll receive a track from each instantly.
Samantha Crain is back in the UK and Europe this summer. Full dates list here
Here’s what the critics have said so far:
“A new stronger sound” - The Independent
“Their best work to date” - Q
“Listen to their passionate plight and sparkling harmonies” – The Sun ****
“Gorgeous” - MOJO ****
“At their unsettling and atmospheric best “- NME 8/10
“Scuzzily atmospheric” – Uncut 8/10
“New and ravishing self-titled third album ” – The Mirror
The album is also available to stream on Spotify: Smoke Fairies – Smoke Fairies
The band will be heading out on a UK tour at the end of May, full tour dates over on the Smoke Fairies page on the left.
“Everything’s A Thread” will be availble on CDx2, 180g LP and high-quality digital download. The bonus tracks included on the second CD will be included in the digital download code supplied with the LP as well as available digitally via iTunes.
“Hot Dreams” is available to pre-order now in a number of formats.
You can pre-order the physical version of the record from the following places:
Full Time Hobby direct (feat. exclusive t-shirt bundle options): bit.ly/1aEOC5x
The Drift Record Shop: bit.ly/1hIHt2Q
Plus, if you pre-order the album from iTunes you’ll receive the track “Hot Dreams” for free instantly: http://georiot.co/271c
The band are also embarking on a UK & European tour this April:
April 3- Brussels, Botanique
April 4 – Paris, France, Fleche d’Or
April 5 – Amsterdam, People’s Palace
April 7 – Zurich, Switzerland,Rote Fabrik (Aktionshalle)
April 8 – Munich, Germany, Hansa 39
April 9 – Berlin, Germany, Lido
April 10 – Hamburg, Germany, Uebel & Gefährlich
April 12 – Stockholm, Sweden, Debaser Strand
April 13 – Copenhagen, Vega (small room)
April 15 – Nijmegen, NL, Doornroosje
April 16- London, UK, Scala
April 17 – Manchester, UK, Roadhouse
We’re very pleased to announce that Full Time Hobby will be releasing the new self-titled Smoke Fairies album on 14th April 2014 in the UK.
Stream “Eclipse Them All” on Soundcloud:
“Smoke Fairies” is available to pre-order from the Full Time Hobby store now. Available on mini LP-style CD, 180g heavy-weight vinyl (with download code) and high quality digital download.
Smoke Fairies’ outstanding new album, the eponymously titled Smoke Fairies, shows the band in top form, combining their classic approach whilst exploring new forms of musical expression – but it is an album that they nearly didn’t make.
There was a moment after the release of Smoke Fairies’ last album (Blood Speaks, 2012) when Jessica Davies turned to musical partner Katherine Blamire and told her she was no longer sure whether Smoke Fairies should continue.
For Smoke Fairies the suggestion of not playing music together would potentially impact more than just their band – theirs was a friendship forged by music, by a shared ambition that had carried them from their schooldays and on to songwriting and performing together.
“We started considering what would we do if we didn’t do music,” recalls Davies, “and it was just a massive void.” Deciding that giving up on the band was “not an option,” Davies wrote a musical apology to Blamire that would become the stunning opening track of their new eponymously titled album, Smoke Fairies. “I just wanted to say sorry to her – sorry I scared you like that.”
In the six years since Smoke Fairies first entered a recording studio, they have made two critically acclaimed albums, supported on tours with Bryan Ferry, Richard Hawley and Laura Marling, and had a single released on Jack White’s Third Man Records; but for all the perceived glamour of a musical career, they were still sharing a house in Peckham and waiting for something to happen while they worked temp jobs around London.
But with the question now raised, Smoke Fairies were able to really take stock and reassess what the band truly meant to them. “We realised that this is our life,” says Davies. “And we just have to see it as this wonderful thing, every gig we get to play and every record we get to make – we’re just incredibly grateful for that.”
More than this, it allowed them to think about the type of album they wanted to make. They had earned a reputation for impressive live performances, for harmonies and intricate guitar playing, but what they now craved was something simpler and more direct. Blamire talks of secretly listening to pop music on the bus, trying to figure out “why it was popular, why it was good.” Davies tells how her own personal yardstick had become “anything with a drumbeat that made me dance around the kitchen.”
Smoke Fairies yearned for movement and forward momentum. They wanted to make an album that wasn’t simply recorded live, but rather presented songs that were pored over, puzzled-out, polished and produced. “We wanted to feel that we had dissected everything back to its basic bones,” avers Davies, “and then for every song to kind of shimmer.”
In 2013 Blamire and Davies took themselves to a remote recording studio in Kent with producer Kristofer Harris. “It was on a very old industrial estate,” says Davies. “It was a really eccentric area – it used to be a council office, now there’s a bubble car garage, a tattoo parlour and a granite workshop. It just physically felt so distant from anything to do with the music industry.”
It was there that they set about crafting their latest album, Smoke Fairies, calling on their bandmates and old touring friends such as drummer Andy Newmark (Sly and the Family Stone, Roxy Music, John Lennon) to help out. “It felt very warm,” says Davies. “These people really came together to encourage us, as if we had retreated into a world of only ourselves and the people who mattered.”
The distance and sense of introspection also allowed for a shift in their songwriting techniques. “We used to do a lot of harmonies,” says Blamire. “But this album gave us the opportunity to actually be two voices, rather than two voices as one entity; two people talking to each other as distinct characters. They’re the messages that we send to each other.”
Their lyrical style, too, has changed: “We scrapped lyrics right from the start if they were too flowery,” asserts Davies. “Unless the lyric really got to the point and said something, it got cut.” Blamire agrees: “As songwriters, I feel we’re really starting to sum things up properly, to nail them down. For me, it was a testament to how long we’ve been together that we could just say to each other ‘that’s shit.’ There really was no ego on this record.”
The result is a remarkable set of songs, notable not only for their strength and robustness, but also a sense of experimentation. The sheer liberation Blamire and Davies felt at using synths for the first time is evident in tracks such as the irresistible “Your Own Silent Movie” and the beautifully compelling “Drinks and Dancing”. Davies and Blamire’s sublime voices still stand to the fore, and tracks like “Want It Forever” are lined with a deliciously bluesy skuzzy-ness. This may not be the sort of album you ever expected Smoke Fairies to make, but it is an extraordinary record – bracing, sensual and defiant – and one that promises an exciting musical future.
Blamire and Davies see the track “Hope Is Religion” as the song that best sums up their experiences of the past few years and their continued devotion to making music. “It’s one that we wrote together,” affirms Davies. “It’s about writing songs with someone, putting those ideas out into the open and sharing them with somebody; but it’s also about how with music you’re always hoping for more – that this will happen or that will happen. For us it felt as if music had become our religion, we believed in it without any evidence that we’d actually be able to make any money or be successful. I guess that sums up the situation we were in; but we realised we had no other option but to keep on believing.”
At FTH, we’ve always regarded artwork as an incredibly important part of the whole album experience, and so with that in mind, it’s phenomenally exciting for us to announce that three of our 2013 releases have been included in this year’s Best Art Vinyl nominees. For a small indie like us to make up 6% of this growing award is a very cool achievement and one we’re happy to shout about.
Please vote for either The Leisure Society, BRAIDS, or Tunng here.
We’re delighted to announce that two FTH videos from this year have been nominated in the UK Music Video Awards 2013.
Current touring buddies Pinkunoizu and Tunng will go head to head in the ‘Best Rock/Indie Video – Budget’ category for their respective ‘Moped’ and ‘The Village’ videos. Watch both videos below, and then head here to grab tickets for all the UK dates, which start next Tuesday (8th Oct) in London.