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RELAXERAlt-J have announced a new album called Relaxer, which is the follow-up to the band's 2014 album, This Is All Yours. Their third album follows a string of successes surrounding their previous releases. Their debut album An Awesome Wave won the Mercury Music Prize in 2012. During their 2015 tour, the band sold out Madison Square Garden.1. 3WW
2. In Cold Blood
3. House of the Rising Sun
4. Hit Me Like That Snare
7. Last Year
8. Pleader$21.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
An Awesome WaveAlt-j, the breakthrough band of 2012 with the wholly unique vision, follow up the recent release of their single, 'Matilda', with the release of their debut album, An Awesome Wave, featuring thirteen tracks laced with their already distinctive sound, was recorded with long-time producer Charlie Andrew (Micachu and The Shapes, Eugene Mcguinness).
Veering wildly from psychedelic avant-pop to skeletal folktronica, the finished album trades in understated beauty one minute and epic oddities the next, just as you'd expect from a debut album that tackles everything from love to bullfighting to the heroic life of 1930s war photographer, Gerda Taro, who was crushed by a tank on the frontline.
Other tracks are inspired by cinema, including lead single, 'Matilda' (about Natalie Portman's character in Luc Besson's Leon) and the good the bad and the ugly-referencing Tessellate.1. intro
2. ripe and ruin
6. something good
7. dissolve me
10. fitzpleasure$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
This Is All YoursColored Vinyl
This Is All Yours was recorded in Spring 2014 with the same producer / engineer (Charlie Andrew) and studio that yielded alt-J's million-selling Mercury Prize-winning debut record, An Awesome Wave. The first song to premiere online "Hunger of the Pine," trended globally on Twitter the day it was released and topped the Billboard Twitter 140 chart. The second song and first US single "Left Hand Free" also reached #1 on the Billboard Twitter 140 chart and was #1 most-added at Alternative radio.LP 1
2. Arrival In Nara
4. Every Other Freckle
5. Left Hand Free
6. Garden Of England - Interlude
7. Choice Kingdom
1. Hunger Of The Pine
2. Warm Foothills
3. The Gospel of John Hurt
5. Bloodflood pt. II
6. Leaving Nara
$25.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
The Moon Rang Like A BellHundred Waters have had a steady ascendancy or buzz since their inception January 2012. They've been subject to features on key online sites such as Pitchfork and Stereogum in addition to live accolades from New York Times, amongst others. Their reputation for creative and engaging recordings is equaled by their stature as a formidable live outlet, having held their own as headliners in clubs as well as openers for big theater-level acts such as The xx and Alt-J and Interpol as well as curating their own music and arts festival FORM Arcosanti the last two years.LP 1
1. Show Me Love
4. Out Alee
6. Broken Blue
1. Chambers (Passing Train)
2. Down from the Rafters
4. Seven White Horses
6. No Sound$19.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
REDD-SUN-5253xHoly Modal Rounders
Good Taste Is TimelessThe seminal Greenwich Village acid-folkies' twisted Americana collided with mainstream Nashville to produce this 1971 cult classic. Features cover art and songwriting by alt-folk hero Michael Hurley and contributions form original Elvis Presley sidemen Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, jazz icon Bob Dorough, beloved vocalist Tracy Nelson and steel guitar legend Pete Drake. Includes the Rounder's risque left field hit Boobs a Lot.
1. Once a Year
2. Black Bottom
3. Happy Scrapple Daddy Polka
4. Spring of '65
5. Livin' Off the Land
6. Love Is the Closest Thing
7. Boobs a Lot
10. Alligator Man
11. City Blues
12. The Whole Oughta Go on a Vacation$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
New Normal CatastropheThis 5-song 12 EP is blazing fast and intelligent hardcore, 80s style, a la AOF's classic What We Want Is Free EP (1982) & Give Thanks LP (1984). Recorded at Chicago's Million Yen Studios (Cheap Trick, Effigies, Local H, Smoking Popes) on July 4, 2010, these 5 songs show the band members' continuing political involvement and brutal musical chops. This lineup had not written or recorded together since 1985's In This Life LP.
New Normal Catastrophe was mixed by J. Robbins (of Jawbox & Report Suspicious Activity [a collaboration between J. Robbins and AOF's Vic Bondi]) in Baltimore, MD.
This 5-song 12 is released in time for the return of the original lineup to the stage at Chicago's annual RIOT FEST from October 6-October 10, 2010. This lineup has not played live together since July 1985!1. With A Vengeance
2. Coming Off The Rails
3. New Normal Catastrophe
4. Hammer Song
5. Brother John$9.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Hell Bent For LettersAlternative Tentacles tosses our well-worn thinking cap into the no-holds-barred, no-child-left-behind ring of Educore with Hell Bent for Letters, the latest outing by Seattle's BLOODHAG. Formed in 1995 to stimulate a communion between literacy and punk/metal, BLOODHAG boasts a lineup of noted science fiction authors Prof. J. B. Stratton, Dr. J. M. McNulty, Sir Zachary Orgel and the shadowy occultist Master Brent Carpenter. They created the genre of Edu-core and operate under the motto Th e faster you go deaf, the more time you have to read.
While BLOODHAG's minute-long songs have the common theme of esteemed authors such as George Orwell and Philip K. Dick--and their live shows include between-song mini-lectures as well as pelting of the audience with books--the music counters with the blunt force of bands like BRUJERIA, PANTERA, SEPULTURA, etc.
It's open to debate whether Edu-core can actually pummel literary history into the hungry minds of head-banging youth, but we certainly can't blame BLOODHAG for trying to bridge the gap between death metal tombs and Pulizerwilling tomes or the beer-soaked venues and pristine libraries (yes, they really tour public libraries).
With their neckties and pocket protectors cocked and loaded, BLOODHAG is ready to stave off the dumbing down of America. So, invest in the leaders of tomorrow! Buy Hell Bent for Letters today!
Glorifyingly hooked on demonics, they make some of the heaviest, snuggie underwear-soiling sounds this side of SPAZZ and BRUJERIA, while mixing in some Reading Rainbow, -Thrasher Magazine
Note to bands: Always play before BLOODHAG, never after them -Stroker Magazine
Learning has never hurt this good! -Portland Mercury1. Gene Wolfe
2. Robert Silverberg
3. Douglas Adams
4. James Blish
5. Anne McCaffrey
6. Orson Scott Card
7. Iain M. Banks
8. Edgar Allan Poe
9. Philip Jose Farmer
10. Michael Swanwick
11. Frederik Pohl
12. Thomas M. Disch
13. Greg Bear
14. Franz Kafka
15. Madeline L'Engle
16. Jack Womack$10.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Wildcat! Wildcat!The self-titled debut EP from acclaimed LA-based band Wildcat! Wildcat! is released by Downtown Records. The band garnered critical praise for their previously released sold-out limited addition 7 on the taste-making label Neon Gold Records, including early support from BBC Radio 1 in the U.K. TIME raves, I love the staccato electronic rock, I love the frantic opening measures, I love the fleeting falsetto in the background, while Metro furthers they're the best overall new band.
The new EP was written and produced by the band in their home studios over the course of the last year and a half. Of the songs Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums) notes, Some came quicker than others but all of them provided us the time to try out different processes of collaboration and understand how and why we make the kind of music that we make together.
Wildcat! Wildcat! is Jesse Taylor (vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keys) and Carmichael. The trio played together in various incarnations before officially forming Wildcat! Wildcat! in 2012. The band has toured extensively including SXSW, a sold out west coast headlining run and major U.S. support slots with Alt-J and Portugal. The Man.1. The Chief
2. Garden Grays
3. Mr. Quiche
4. Please & Thank You$5.99Vinyl EP - Sealed Buy Now
No Moon At AllWildcat! Wildcat!'s debut full-length, No Moon At All, ties the trio's indie-pop anthems into a cohesive widescreen vision. Packed with the Los Angeles-based band's uplifting musicality and angelic harmonies, the ten-track album, which features production from M83's Morgan Kibby, represents both a major artistic leap and the culmination of the group's rise since "Mr. Quiche" and their initial run of buzzy singles.
Featuring longtime friends Jesse Taylor (vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keys) and Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums), Wildcat! Wildcat! officially formed in 2012. Their early tracks, available as blog downloads and a single from the tastemaker label Neon Gold, led to the band's 2013 self-titled debut EP on Downtown Records, which received critical acclaim from NPR, Pitchfork, Time, Stereogum, Nylon, Paste, Huffington Post and more.
In early 2013, Wildcat! Wildcat! was the subject of the Sam Jones-directed documentary Hello Everywhere - a feature that depicted the band's journey from LA to SXSW for a massive concert with Passion Pit. The group has also toured with Alt-J, Portugal. The Man and MS MR.
On No Moon At All, Wildcat! Wildcat! achieves full headliner status. Its sweeping arc and range create an emotionally-rousing world for the band's infectious underdog anthems. "Tower" sets the tone with a dreamy build and explosive low-end, while lead single "Hero" mixes the group's innovative harmonies with dance production and an earworm chorus. "Holloway (Hey, Love)," with its skyrocketing emotions, is sure to play over many-a-movie's end credits, and "End Of The World Everyday" is a slinky, bold ballad.1. Tower // W.O.H.L.
2. Garden Grays
3. Up & Beyond
5. End of the World Everyday
6. Holloway (Hey, Love)
7. Circuit Breaker
8. Nothing Below
10. Marfa$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
I'm Not Your ManIt's amazing how the floodgates open when you shut out all the internal and external noise, stop pandering to stereotype, cease listening to your anxieties, and disregard the compartment society has built for you. I'm Not Your Man, the Charlie Andrew(Alt-J, Rae Morris)-produced second album from Marika Hackman, begins with an impromptu hearty laugh. It's not the sound of silliness; it's the sound of liberation, spontaneity, and joy. 24-year-old Hackman is feeling more herself than ever. Life isn't necessarily funnier or happier, but when there's cause for a joke or a big ballsy statement, she's not holding back anymore.
The album took almost 18 months to complete, during which time Hackman switched to a new manager and a new label, transitions that yielded new avenues for exploration, a lot of time, and a lot of distance - mainly, she insists, from self-imposed boundaries. "I used to be very self-conscious," explains Hackman. "If something sounded a bit too pop or like I'd heard it before I'd mold it into something different. This time around I thought, 'fuck it, I'll just let it flow.'"
The results of this semi-anarchic approach are evident in the grungier, catchier sonics of I'm Not Your Man, and the lyrics, which reveal an unhinged and shamelessly free Hackman. There's an open-ended nature to the lyrics, which delve into femininity, sex and sexual identity, millennial ennui, the pressures of living in a social media bubble, and the perils of being young in a fast-paced industry. "The record's all about female relationships, romance, and breakdowns, but there's also a dim worldview going on. 'I'm Not Your Man' can either mean 'I'm not your man, I'm your woman,' or it can mean 'I'm not a part of this.'"
Hackman cranked up the knobs in the studio, turning away from the quieter sounds of her past to realize her teenage fantasy of fronting a raucous band. "I wanted to let rip and lose control. When I was younger I wasn't looking at Joni Mitchell. I was looking at Nirvana thinking, 'I wanna be like that!'" To channel this feral female energy, Hackman recruited London quartet The Big Moon as her backing band. The results are a dynamic, multi-genre album tied together by razor-sharp wit. The sounds span from Cate Le Bon weirdness to Warpaint dirge jams to straight-up Britpop choruses. "People were saying it was a mash-up between Radiohead, Blondie, and The Cure," laughs Hackman, self-mockingly. "I can't wait to see the reaction," she says. "That's the thrill of reinventing yourself. I might piss off a lot of die-hard folky fans but this is still my brain, it's still my world, and I'm gonna create it how I want."1. Boyfriend
2. Good Intentions
3. Gina's World
4. My Lover Cindy
5. Round We Go
8. Time's Been Reckless
9. Apple Tree
10. So Long
11. Eastbound Train
13. I'd Rather Be With Them$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Not RealNot Real' is the second album by Stealing Sheep which has been written, recorded and produced by band members Becky Hawley, Emily Lansley and Lucy Mercer at their studio in Liverpool. The band met in 2010 and work together creating music and visual art.
The unifying theme of the new album 'Not Real' is an interplay of fact and fiction; the edge of dreams and limits of reality. These visions are grounded by bright melodies and insistent beats and unified by vocal harmonies; sometimes metronomic and chant-like, sometimes choral and pop.
It follows their debut, 'Into the Diamond Sun', released in 2012 by Heavenly Recordings. The first album morphed their individual styles to create a 'medieval-kraut-folk' inspired sound. They were described as an unanticipated 'pagan pop revival' and since its release have toured as guests of Postal Service and Alt-J, opened for St.Vincent in Paris, performed the songs of David Lynch at the Barbican and collaborated with the Radiophonic Workshop on an original soundtrack to the cult 70's science fiction film 'Le Planete Sauvage'.
For the second album they have concentrated on developing the sonic aesthetic of their new music. "We are more focussed about what we are trying to do. Everything has a reason for being there." They have been experimenting with tuned percussion, programmed beats, trigger samples and worked with effected synths, utilising the guitar and lap steel more sparingly and introducing more processed sounds. They've drawn inspiration from 50's exotica, electronic music and 80's pop and have been greatly influenced by the likes of Grace Jones, Can, Delia Derbyshire, Eden Ahbez, Moon Dog and John Carpenter. Grayson Perry's pop-folk art and the band's self-created mythologies were also a source of inspiration for song writing.
This is an alternative pop record that has been 'self-manufactured' by the band. Having learned new skills in the studio over the last years, the band (assisted by Sam Crombie and Joe Wills) have self-produced the album. They have used the studio not only as a writing tool but also as an instrument; experimenting with post production and varying instrumentation and layered textures. "We started off in pre-production doing all the demos ourselves" say's Becky "the demos captured an atmosphere that we wanted to carry forward to the album. The result was a hypbrid of casual takes and more considered recordings
Individual songs on the album have different environments and creatures that go with them, often inspired by the galactic rather than earth-bound imagery. Becky: "I imagine dehumanised worlds, planets with creatures that have evolved in a completely different way
The visual side is highly important to the band, all of whom have art backgrounds. "We like to be involved in all the aspects of the presentation because it's symbiotic to the music." They collaborate with artists and with 'the costumologists', coming up with ideas like "outfits that texturally reflect rhythms" and "frequency triggered, light-up costumes". The colourful and organic album cover, a collaboration between photographer Charlotte Rutherford and collage artist Louise Mason, shows their confident image for this record: as they tread the lines of surreal pop.
There is no stopping the imaginations of Stealing Sheep - but like lucid dreams, these are controlled fantasies and skilfully created worlds. Follow them on a hypnagogic journey as they sing: "listen to yourself and look within".1. Sequence
3. Not Real
4. This Time
10. She$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
IvywildNight Beds, the musical project of 26-year-old Colorado Springs native Winston Yellen, received much acclaim for his 2013 debut album, Country Sleep, scoring plaudits for its tortured take on alt country and Yellen's soaring vocals. But after finishing that album and before Country Sleep was even released, Yellen began experimenting with the kind of melancholic, neon-tinged R&B that makes up the mesmerising Ivywild. The thread that weaves through all of Yellen's music and holds it together is his unmistakable voice - plaintive, yearning, soulful, heartbreaking. Whether it's ascending over the luscious epic-electronics of Tide Teeth or aching alone on Country Sleep's opener Faithful Heights, Yellen's voice has a unique beauty matched by few of his contemporaries. The second Night Beds album draws on Yellen's original love of Bill Evans through to J Dilla and is made up of what Yellen calls sad sex jams and was inspired by a long-term love and a break-up which looms large throughout the albums veiled lyrics. Its genesis can be found in the stoned night in Nashville when Yellen first heard Yeezus. Lying on the floor, Yellen blared the album at top volume. Ivywild is a truly collaborative effort with a makeshift team of 25 musicians, notably Abe, Yellen's younger brother and closest friend - his credit on the album comes above Winston's own, so much value does he place upon the work Abe put in. Additional vocals come from Heather Hibbard, a singer from Maine who features on over half of the 16 track album, and was contacted by the gregarious Yellen through YouTube, after he found a video of her covering one of his songs. She came out to the studio the very next day. Finessing the poignant assortment of songs was a sometimes painful task, but dedicated to the core. I felt at some points we were losing our minds, he says. Initial versions of Me Liquor and God band On High: were 17 and 33 minutes respectively while Finished took four months to record. His editing process though was simple: If it makes you cry, keep it in. Field recordings also flood the record, offering it a deep textural grain. It is a luxury record, but it has a worn shirt feel, explains Yellen. It's lived in. It's like a quilt - but it took forever, cutting up all the vocals and letting it breathe.1. Finished
3. Me Liquor and God
5. Tide Teeth
7. [9_6] slack-jaw
8. Eve A
9. On High:
11. Lay Your Hands
12. All In Good Time (I Get You Wrong Interlude)
13. Moon Sugar
14. Love Streams
15. I Give It
16. Stand On My Throat$20.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
LabcabincaliforniaThe Pharcyde's landmark Labcabincalifornia just hit its 20th anniversary, having originally been released on November 14th, 1995. The Bicycle Music Company celebrates with an all new pressing of the double gatefold LP. The Pharcyde released Labcabincalifornia, their follow up to their legendary debut Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde (itself released on November 24th, 1992) with the album ultimately launching three singles, "Runnin'", "She Said" and "Drop" (which would go on to massive MTV music video fame due to it's first ever entirely backwards filmed video directed by Spike Jonze).
Over the next 20 years, the legacy of The Pharcyde and Labcabincalifornia has continued to rise. In the case of Labcabincalifornia, that's in no small part due to the production work on the project from the legendary Jay Dee, aka J Dilla. "If Labcabincalifornia came out today, boasting production by J Dilla on seven out of 17 tracks would be a big deal..." - Complex Magazine
"Labcabincalifornia is an artistic breakthrough, and because of the deep shift in hip-hop production in the last two decades, the timelessness of the album is more apparent than ever." - Treble Music's Induction of Labcabincalifornia into their Hall Of Fame "Years ahead of its time for a scene still hung over from The Chronic, Labcabincalifornia was an underappreciated album that would almost certainly have fared better amidst the alt-rap renaissance of 1999." - Rap Reviews1. Bullshit
3. Groupie Therapy
5. She Said
7. Somethin' That Means Somethin'
8. All Live
10. Hey You
12. It's All Good
13. Moment In Time
14. The Hustle
15. Little D
16. Devil Music
17. The E.N.D.$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
HealFrom the first bars of HEAL, the exhilarating melodic stomp of 'Goshen '97' puts you right into Tim Showalter's fervent
teenage mindset. We find him in his family's basement den in Goshen, IN, feeling alienated but even at 15 years old,
believing in the alchemy and power of music to heal your troubles. "The record is called HEAL, but it's not a soft, gentle
healing, it's like scream therapy, a command, because I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst
parts. And that's how I got better." HEAL embodies that feeling of catharsis and rebirth, desperation and euphoria,
confusion and clarity.It is deeply personal and unwittingly anthemic.
Showalter was on tour, walking home on a mild autumn night in Malmo, Sweden, when he first felt the weight of the
personal crisis that would ignite him to write HEAL. "It was a culmination of pressure," Showalter recalls. "My marriage
was suffering, I'd released a record I was disappointed in, I didn't like how I looked or acted so I'd gone on tour, I was
gone about two years!I didn't take time to think about failure, but I knew I was going deeper and deeper I was thinking,
I have this life, but it's not my life,I haven't done it right "
When Showalter returned, he wrote 30 songs in three weeks, a process that proved difficult, but cathartic and at times
invigorating.Previous Strand Of Oaks records were more skeletal, raw examples of folk-rooted Americana with occasional
rock and electronic currents,that have now come to the fore.HEAL is a bold new beginning,with a thrilling full-tilt sound
that draws on Showalter's love of '70s, '80s and '90s rock and pop, with the singer and guitarist playing the intense
Crucial to HEAL's sound was the man who Showalter chose to mix the record, the stellar alt-rock icon John Congleton.
Showalter also re-connected with Ben Vehorn, synth expert and studio engineer extraordinaire, and drummer Steve
Clements,who provides HEAL's thunderous ,sinewy drive. Songs such as 'Shut In','Plymouth' and'Woke Up To The Light'
have a classic construction and mood,recalling '70s power-pop/ballads and the yearning ache of Big Star'slate, great Chris
Bell. Many of the songs on HEAL reveal an electronic undercarriage and towering drums that push the album's wired
dynamic to its stretching point, especially on'For Me',which expertly bridges the album's twin decades of influences.And
if 'Goshen '97'recalls the molten energy of Dinosaur Jr, that actually is J Mascis on lead guitar. Despite the initials, the
album's smoldering 7-minute epic 'JM' is not a Mascis tribute, but to the late Jason Molina, about having his music as
comfort no matter how bad things get.
Which brings usto another crisis, this time much more serious and immediate. HEAL was scheduled for mixing on Dec.
26, 2013.Driving on the freeway Christmas Day, Showalter and his wife were involved in a car accident with a semi-truck,
and were fortunate to walk away with their lives. Showalter suffered a, "pretty severe," head trauma, "which affected me
much more than Irealized at the time."Fearing delays, Showalter didn't let Congelton know about it,so the mixing session
went ahead. "Being on the verge of death, and my thoughts being so closely tied to that, changed the album's direction,"
Showalter claims. "Together, we pushed it toward a much more cathartic sound that forces the listener to where I was at
that exact moment,somewhere between almost dying and being absolutely fearless."
HEAL is not just a saviour for its creator, but for anyone who needs reminding of music's ability to heal, or just thrill.
Showalter is taking out a full band to play, and finally, the kid who wanted to be a rock star at 15 might get his chance.
Finally, he and Strand Of Oaks have much to celebrate.1. Goshen '97
3. Same Emotions
4. Shut In
5. Woke Up To The Light
8. Mirage Year
9. For Me
10. Wait For Love$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
NanobotsOver the years, They Might Be Giants have switched between music for kids and music for grown-ups, and for their latest album, the band will be gearing their poppy alt-rock tunes towards adults. The collection is called Nanobots, and it was produced by frequent collaborator Patrick Dillett (David Byrne, Mary J. Blige) at his private studio. While this music isn't kid-oriented, it looks to be filled with no shortage of youthful exuberance. According to a press release, the album contains charming wit, electrifying pop melodies and just enough bass clarinet.
Certainly, the single Call You Mom could almost pass for a children's song with its garage pop riffs and slightly goofy lyrics. If you've got any kids who enjoy They Might Be Giants, they might well get a kick out of this one. This is the band's first album since 2011's Join Us.
-Alex Hudson1. Through Mind and Back
3. Attic Doctor
4. The Bath
5. Pelican Man
7. Sleep Paralysis
8. Third Dystopia
9. Raspberry Cane
10. Daisyphobia$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Broken PeopleAmerican music is a mile-wide river that beckons black and white, urban and rural, dreamer and doer alike to launch their vessels. All the streams of style and genre flow into it; its tributaries are blues and jazz, mountain and folk, rock, soul and R&B.
The release of the debut album by Muddy Magnolias, Broken People, marks the launch of a great new vessel onto that waterway. The album showcases a confluence of style and sound as colorful as it is unlikely, steeped in that river of influence, yet bracingly fresh.
With Broken People, Jessy Wilson and Kallie North take us on an 11-song journey with its origins in two widely divergent backgrounds that came together in a friendship and creative partnership with world-changing resonance.
North was raised in southeast Texas and began singing with her family and studying piano at an early age. She grew to love rich vocal harmonies singing in church choirs and listening to artists like the Carpenters, Alison Krauss, James Taylor and the Eagles. By her early teens, she was singing lead parts in church and in musical theater productions at her high school. Her palette grew when a friend turned her on to the Grateful Dead, and after high school she spent every spare moment in the clubs of Austin, absorbing everything from alt-country and jam bands to New Orleans funk. She met her husband at a concert and moved with him to his native Mississippi. There, on their isolated farm, she had her awakening, starting a career as a photographer, capturing the spirited, deep history of the Mississippi Delta.
"To me, the Delta is the most overlooked and mysterious place," she says. "It was the birthplace of America's music, and all the legends were influenced by everything that came out of it. I went on this personal exploration to learn about the Delta blues and the region's history. I picked up a camera and started taking pictures, blogging about what I was experiencing, and I tapped into all the creative energy lying dormant inside me." When her husband gave her a guitar, she began spending her days on the porch of their farm learning how to connect her first chords. From there, the songs began pouring out and she knew she had to find a way to get to Nashville and write songs professionally.
Wilson, raised in Brooklyn, was in love with music from her earliest days. She was singing before she could talk, and was 5 when her mother recognized her passion for music. "I would cry because I couldn't hit the high notes in Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey songs," she says. Influenced by greats from Aretha and Smokey Robinson to Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G., she began auditioning in the highly competitive New York entertainment scene and was working professionally in musical theater by the age of 10. Her mother took her to nightclubs where she experienced a variety of live performances. She attended New York's top performing arts schools, including La Guardia High School, the "Fame" school, where she discovered her love for gospel music and took part in the gospel chorus for four years. She worked at Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village, making $500 a weekend while still in high school.
She sang backup for Alicia Keys in her teens, then worked four years with John Legend, and through him with legends like will.i.am, Kanye West, Raphael Saadiq and Babyface. Legend mentored her in songwriting and recording before she began writing songs on her own for American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and others. Inspired by her evolving love of songwriting, she too moved to Nashville, looking for a wider creative palette. There, while meeting with then-BMI executive Clay Bradley, her eye settled on a photograph of "a rundown juke joint piano" in his office.
"I want to meet whoever took that photo," she said. The photographer was North-it had been taken during her creative awakening in Mississippi-and the subsequent meeting led quickly to collaboration and an epic friendship.
"The first day we wrote together," says North, "there wasn't much thought that we were blending genres and worlds. That never came up. It was just natural. She had never written a country song and I was writing them every day. We sat down to write one but when we listened back it was a country R&B song. And we decided to become songwriting partners." Before long, they had their first cut as collaborators, and they were off and running.
"The spirit of the Muddy Magnolias existed from the moment we met," says Wilson, "but we didn't know we were the Muddy Magnolias yet." North was toying with the idea of a solo career; Wilson had aspirations of making history as an African-American female songwriter in Nashville. Their new friendship was a game-changer.
"We spent a whole year writing, trying to understand what our message was when we combined our stories," says Wilson. Then one day over afternoon wine at Burger Up, their favorite hangout in the 12 South section of Nashville, both admitted to be being at a crossroads. "The next thing you know," says North, "Jessy said, 'What if we made a record together?' It was like all of our dreams in one."
"We went back to that same office on Music Row where I saw the photograph," says Wilson, "and sat down side by side in Clay's office and said, 'We've got something to tell you. We're going to make an album together.'" Bradley believed enough to sign on as their manager. They held three days of band auditions and found four best friends who had been playing together since college, primarily doing jazz. The fit was perfect, providing just the right sonic backdrop for their soulful approach and high-energy delivery.
As they continued to write and perform, opening for the likes of The Zac Brown Band and Gary Clark, Jr., they put together a project that crosses genres effortlessly, showcasing two voices that soar together in a blending of cultures as electrifying as if Janis Joplin and Tina Turner, or Whitney Houston and Lee Ann Womack had joined forces.
Broken People combines poetic imagery and vocal passion, with the musicianship and production of Motown or Muscle Shoals by way of the raw honesty of Sun Records. Of course it deals with love, longed for and unleashed, in songs like "I Need A Man," "Why Don't You Stay" and "Devil's Teeth," but the album soars as it reaches for bigger themes, dealing with the need for hope in "Take Me Home," for love on a societal scale in "Shine On" and "Brother What Happened," and hope for the future in "Got It Goin' On." With "Leave It To The Sky," the two, joined by John Legend on vocals and piano, make a powerful case for spiritual solutions, and few songs in the modern lexicon are as steeped in present-day reality as the gospel- and R&B-tinged title track.
"Ultimately," says North, "this album is a result of an unlikely friendship and is a testament to what can happen when you diversify your relationships."
"It's about getting out of your comfort zone and being rewarded with a great friendship," adds Wilson. "We've both felt the power of that."
"Our path is so much better and our lives are so much richer because of it," says North, "and we want to bring people along on this journey."
"We want to see what society would be like if we all reached out in ways we normally wouldn't," adds Wilson.
And that is the magic and the message. The music of Muddy Magnolias, live and on record, comes from a place where the Mississippi meets the A-Train by way of Nashville. Whether yours is the back porch or the front stoop, Spanish moss or window box garden, dusty country lane or crowded subway car, rural honky-tonk or uptown club, this is music that beckons. Muddy Magnolias are collaboration without boundaries, musical healing in a landscape of the heart, and all of us who treasure creative energy, honest art and the possibilities of love and unity, are better for their arrival.1. Broken People
2. Brother, What Happened?
3. Got It Goin' On
4. Why Don't You Stay
5. Take Me Home
6. Shine On!
7. It Ain't Easy
8. I Need A Man
9. Devil's Teeth
11. Leave It To The Sky (feat. John Legend)$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now