Julia Holter – Aviary

And they say the album format is dead…

It may well be on a monetary level but needless to say, it does not stop artists like Julia Holter from using the album format to make her statement.

And quite an artistic statement is Aviary.

Clocking at just under 90 minutes, the record is a experimental odyssey with so much depth and beauty, it is initially overwhelming. Similarly to the first time I heard Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’ or Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, the album reveals its’ magic and gradually blossoms with repeated listens.

The title is inspired by Lebanese American writers Etel Adnan quote ‘I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds’. Such a sound collage can be blissful, peaceful, quietly unsettling. Julia achieves this in fifteen tracks that don’t have a distinct structure as such but dive into experimental explorations, build in tension and widen up a panoramic canvas of sounds consisting of piano, strings, drums, trumpets and even bagpipes; as well as Julia’s typically layered and ambient vocals.

This is demonstrated in ‘I Shall Love 2’, the first track to be released. There is not too much more needed to be said about the music as it is far better for it to be experienced. That being said, the noticeable trait of Julia as shown in her previous works is her evocative ambiguity. Julia didn’t really know how to articulate herself when I saw her live, she appears introverted and coy on social media. Ultimately, her goal is to get lost in the Music. There is no conventional structure, no direct meaning to the songs she does, instead there is an internal dialogue, a collection of sounds and words that may at times be on a lyrical level non sensical, outright bizarre but ultimately so satisfying.

And when so much Music out there is so formulaic, so lacking in it’s risk taking and no more than chewing gum for the ears; this record is a breath of fresh air. I have listened to this record with headphones on by a beach, I have listened to this record whilst turning the lights off in my apartment with dimly lit candles. Whatever way I have enjoyed discovering this record, ‘Aviary’ is truly an exhilarating musical experience.

The best records for me have been released by three women this year, Janelle Monae’s ‘Dirty Computer’, Natalie Prass’ ‘The Future and The Past’ and now Julia Holter’s ‘Aviary’. All of which showcase in their own way a defiance to the current chaotic climate we find ourselves dealing with in 2018. They are a celebration of opening up to vulnerability, love and truth…and that is when Music becomes so powerful.

‘That is all’.

 

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Journey of The Effervescent by Kinky Wizzards

Over the last year, me and the brothers have been busy planning new things for the Kinky Wizzards.

Simultaneously, the boys decided to put a new live Music video together by themselves where they explored some of the older material.

It is safe to say after watching this video of the brothers do their thing, the song title says it all. Vivacious and enthusiastic.

I look forward to joining them for our string of shows this summer.

Ryan

Students take the lead in Gun Protests

Of all the people who are taking a stand, it appears the students, and more specifically the student survivors are the ones leading it.

Well done to Cameron Kasky for taking on Rubio and shaming him. How he can stand there and say he is for keeping schools safe whilst accepting funds by the NRA is a complete paradox. One which shows where his interests truly lie, and it ain’t with the victims of the shootings.

America is one helluva mess.

And L.A. shootings, these school shootings will keep coming because they are enabled by those in power.

But the 2nd amendment you say…take the amendment and shove it where the Sun don’t shine. Or better still, rewrite it. Isn’t that why it is called an Amendment!?

Self defence is such a non-argument. Australia’s legislative law changes after the 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur and the subsequent data that proves that gun control works seems to be overlooked by many American politicians.

https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1264/2012/10/bulletins_australia_spring_2011.pdf

But the problem is, too many of the old leaders in power are so easily swayed by their own legitimised sense of greed. Astonishingly, the scenes of a school shooting and dead children becomes forgettable to them.

And then Trump, with what I would call such a numbing sense of unsurprising audacity proposes the idea of equipping teachers with guns, and forcing the initiative to fund it despite little evidence to back it up.

Turning schools into anticipatory war zones.

It’s like banging your head against a brick wall.

A change has got to come. Students are sick and tired of it, and so they are taking a stand. Anyone who truly wants USA to be safer should join them.

A Farewell to Rush

‘Hold your fire 
Keep it burning bright
Hold the flame
‘Til the dream ignites
A spirit with a vision
Is a dream with a mission’ 

Mission, from Hold Your Fire (1987)

This band is part of my DNA.

Earlier this week, Alex Lifeson had revealed that Rush had spent two years no longer recording and touring and there were no plans to do so in the future. A totally quiet and un-rockstarlike way to bow out gracefully and to be honest, I would expect no less from such a band.

I discovered the music of Rush at the age of 9. The same time I had just started learning to play the guitar. My Mum had decided to buy me and my brother one of those Portable CD players each. The year was 2001 and the mp3 players and iPod had still not quite hit UK stores. My Mum decided to test the CD player with ‘Presto’. Now every Rush fan knows how that album starts; ‘Show Don’t Tell’, those quiet drums, at which point she is convinced that the CD player is a bit quiet, whacking up the volume at the point to which the full band is about to kick in with the riff and subsequently, having the shock of her life.

There you have the introduction of Rush into my life. I listened to ‘Presto’ religiously, and my teenage years saw me embark on a journey of discovering their entire catalogue. From the weird and wonderful 70’s era that saw the band dressing up in Kimonos delivering sci fi concept albums, 2112, ‘A Farewell to Kings’ and ‘Hemispheres’ to the thought provoking more concise and synth dominated records of the 80’s to the heavy guitar driven records of the 90’s.

The band ignited my love for physical records at a time where it was swiftly disappearing for my generation. I  couldn’t just listen to the music, I had to own it, unpack the concepts within the artwork and the deeply thought provoking lyrics. Listening to their music became a way of life.

For those who like myself, had Rush as a pivotal soundtrack in their lives, there is just so much to admire about them. For a start, their untempered ambition to do whatever they wanted to do, despite the initial pressure in what was a considerably shaky start to their career. Three albums to their name and a fair amount of negative criticism, particularly with ‘Caress of Steel’ and less than satisfactory sales. Their label pushed Rush to develop a more commercial friendly album and how did they respond? By making ‘2112’ a twenty minute Ayn Rand inspired epic about a futuristic totalitarian state! The result…unprecedented success.

The second is their musical prowess. All three musicians are simply insane at their instruments, Alex Lifeson is one of my favourite guitarists, Geddy Lee’s driving bass and his ability to simultaneously manage singing and playing bass and synths…with his feet! Of course, Neil Peart’s presence behind the kit needs no introduction.

The third is the philosophy and the lyrics. Not to say I don’t love Led Zeppelin and AC/DC but unlike most rock bands, Rush were willing to dig deeper into a wide range of themes. I can think of four love songs that they wrote off the top of my head! Beyond the initial records where they let their imaginations fly, they managed to explore so many dimensions that covered science, society, suicide, ambition, probability, fame and conflict. ‘Subdivisions’ is often mentioned with praise for the way in which it captured that feeling of alienation in an incredibly heartfelt way for those who felt like an outsider. It was an anthem for me in my high school days. That is one of many songs I could delve into. There is so much about Rush’s music that resonates.

The final point that has to be made is that Rush were a definitive rock band, but they carried such a sense of humility about them. All three members are intelligent individuals who have always been weary of the weight that fame could have had on them. They never took themselves too seriously, and are just seriously cool and interesting people and always remained captivating, grounded and funny in interviews and documentaries.

Rush is a band that not everyone knows, yet they are the third most successful band in terms of gold and platinum albums, behind The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Arguably, they are the biggest cult band ever. The ones who do know of them and are fans truly stand as one of a kind in terms of the abundance of passion they have for Rush. So much so that it became a central theme in the 2009 comedy ‘I love you, Man’ where the two main characters share a crazy love for the band. Admittedly there is much of that sensibility in myself and my fellow Rush fans. Take one of my Science teachers as example. When he found out I was a fan, he grabbed every opportunity to talk to me about 2112. My brother also told me small anecdotes of times he would play the record to the entirety of his form group, trying to convert unimpressionable teenagers into embracing the trio.

I saw Rush three times. 2007’s Snakes and Arrows tour, 2011 The Time Machine and 2013’s Clockwork Angels tour. The first time I saw them was one of the most exhilarating live shows I have ever been to. Their live show is utterly mesmerising, the power they can carry as a trio was just unbelievable as is the overall production of each tour they did. To have seen them live three times was a privilege.

And then there is the influence they have on my Music.

The first time I met the Kinky Wizzards, I distinctly remember myself and Miffy talking about our love for the band after commenting on the R30 T shirt he was wearing at the time. Incidentally, one of the first songs we learned to play together was YYZ and we still cover it live to this very day. The first song I played when trying to find musicians for Eden Shadow was ‘Tom Sawyer’. There is no surprise as to why so many listeners and critics of my own music often compare it with Rush.

Rush is part of my DNA.

And I am eternally thankful that this band exist. They have taught me so much and have inspired and continue to inspire me. After four decades of music, the band are done with their work, but their legacy will remain a long, long time.

To quote Alex Lifeson’s ‘Hall of Fame’ speech;

‘Blah Blah Blah, Blah Blah Blah Blah.’

Musical Plans for 2018

A Happy New Year to everyone.

2017 saw the release of ‘Quirky Musings’, the second album by Kinky Wizzards and my first album with the two brothers. This is a project that we had been working on since the summer of 2014 and it was amazing to get the record out there after years doing live shows and recordings. This record is an instrumental rock jazz album that was a heck of a lot of fun to write and record, it is also very fun to play live and the three of us are very eager to do more music with this band and continue to push ourselves.

Following on from it’s release, we did a some shows with Magenta and these are amongst some of the most enjoyable concerts I have ever played at. Here is some GoPro footage of a cover of Rush’s YYZ that we performed in Cardiff.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has bought a copy of Quirky Musings or listened to it through other means and came along to one of our performances.

As we enter the new year, here are the following updates that I can share with you:

Eden Shadow 

Throughout last year, I have been working on the new material for album 3 and plans are currently in place to record it in the Spring and Summer. I very much look forward to putting this new material together and I will keep you up to date.

Kinky Wizzards 

I have also started working on new material with the brothers and we will be working on this throughout the year with plans for a live performance shoot later on in the year.

Live Performances

I am currently working in the Middle East but plans for live shows are being put in place for the summer of 2018 when I am going to be spending a few months in the UK. Live shows will definitely happen for KW but I also hope it can happen for ES too and that remains for me a big personal goal.

I wish you all the best for the coming year.

Ryan

 

Kinky Wizzards – Quirky Musings

We are pleased to announce that our second album ‘Quirky Musings’ will be released through WhiteKnight Records on the 31st March 2017.

The Track list is as follows:

1.) Caffiene Overdose
2.) Done With This Place
3.) Chocalate Teapot
4.) Kinky Joe From Mexico’s Burritoes
5.) Door Dancing Penny Collector
6.) The Snake
7.) A Poltergeist in Glenmore
8.) Stomp Foot Syndrome
9.) Free Spirit

The album will be available as a CD digipak with 8 page booklet, as well as through download and streaming services. You can pre-order a copy at https://kinkywizzards.bandcamp.com

The band will also be promoting the album by joining Magenta to play a live show at these three dates:

The Globe, Cardiff – 31/03/2017

CRS, Montgomery Hall, Rotherham – 01/04/2017

The Robin 2, Bilston – 02/04/2017

You can listen to a featured track off the album below.

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