Friday, 22 July 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Blue Aeroplanes go transatlantic - a Fun Lovin Criminal and St Vincent

So, The Blue Aeroplanes 'Anti-Gravity' is finally in the shops and has been getting more rave reviews, including from Stewart Lee, not only 'officially the 41st best stand-up comic ever' but also music reviewer of taste for the Sunday Times, where he gives it four stars. The Sunday Times is currently engaged in one of those (shortlived?) experiments with paid-for content that the broadsheets occasionally dabble in, and we certainly aren't about to help them by subscribing, so we can't link to it, but fortunately you can read it on Stewart's own site.

Drive-By Truckers come up in that review, not for the first time, and their compadres The Hold Steady are increasingly being mentioned in the same breath too. Apparently the Aeros were once described as 'Britain's best American guitar band', many years before either of those acts were around, so it makes sense, in a backwards kind of way. Any booking agents for either of the above acts might do worse than to contact G.Langley@etc if they're looking for forthcoming UK tour support.....

All of which brings us neatly on to another transatlantic link, and the identity of 'A.Clark' - the writer of 'My Old Haunts', which is the penultimate track on side one (we love saying that). A few people have asked and we thought we'd shed a bit of light.

Annie Clark is the real name of an enormously talented singer-songwriter who works under the name of St Vincent, taken from the Saint Vincent's Catholic Medical Center in New York where Dylan Thomas died. She's big in the States but still relatively little-known over here. 'My Old Haunts' is a reworking of a tune originally called 'Laughing With a Mouth of Blood' and is from Annie's second album, 'Actor', which was released in 2009. If you don't have the album, you can currently hear it here.

We're sure you're capable of looking her up just like we did, but essentially the facts are these. Annie grew up in Texas and early in her career was a member of both the Polyphonic Spree and of Sufjan Stevens's touring band. Her first solo album 'Marry me' came out in 2007 and got a good deal of critical acclaim - here's the Pitchfork review - but it was with 'Actor', two years later, that she started to garner more popular appeal - this one reached no 90 on the Billboard 200.

She has just announced that her third album is to be called 'Strange Mercy' and will be released in September, in the States at least. Not much more in the way of detail yet but it is guaranteed to be worth checking out when it arrives over here. Not sure why Gerard decided to cover that particular tune but we think they must have met on one of the occasions that the Aeros played at SXSW, possibly 2009, if only on the basis that she's a good Texan girl who surely would have been present at her state's major music shindig. Although on reflection, she's probably based in New York these days.

Which terrible, terrible contrivance brings us back to our final American connection of the day - that professional New Yorker and former Fun Lovin' Criminal Huey Morgan played '25 Kinds of Love' on 6music this morning, where he was sitting in for Lauren Laverne. He did not specifically say that he had been a Blue Aeroplanes fan all his adult life but we're sure that must have been the case.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Come nuclear apocalypse, there will be only two survivors... cochroaches, and The Blue Aeroplanes

So, it seems like we're settling down into two kinds of review of The Blue Aeroplanes' new album 'Anti-Gravity'.

It's a fairly even split between the kind of review written by a gnarly old rock boy who knew of them in the early 90s and whose take is generally along the lines of 'great band; talking/singing not always to everyone's taste but should have been bigger than they were; this is a great record but they're unlikely to be bothering the charts again anytime soon'. But we knew that, didn't we?

Exhibit one: AAA music

Then you have the kids. They're pretty flummoxed. Actually exhibit two, by James Swatton for Live Music Scene, is a glowing review: ".. Album highlight ’Oak-Apple Day’ ... combines gorgeous finger picked acoustics with sweeping slide guitar flourishes, and violin, which combines to create a sumptuous whole that shows off the bands masterful grasp of melody."

But even he's not sure about the old talking/singing: "For every listener who loves his singing style, another one will be put off, but that is a statement that can be made about any aspect of the group. The band positively embrace their art-rock moniker, often to the detriment of commercial success or accessibility". But we knew that too, didn't we? Didn't we?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

'It ranks among The Blue Aeroplanes' best work, and it's great to have them back'

A bunch of good reviews starting to come in for 'Anti-Gravity', which will be in the shops next week:



and Penny Black

EKR has been playlisting 'Nothing' on its A-list for the past couple of weeks

plus, a great interview by Richard Lewis from Penny Black with Gerard Langley.

More to follow

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

First review of 'Anti-Gravity'

this isn't a bad review - it's just that it contains no evidence whatsoever that the writer had listened to the record before writing said piece.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Gerard Langley talks 'Anti-Gravity', pt. 2

We pick up where we left off the other night....

A2: Time for a couple of slightly tongue-in-cheek questions about the Fall(!) You probably get a bit tired of being compared simply on the basis that you and Mark E Smith both sing in an unconventional way - but a lot of people are fans of both bands. Is it true that you were the inspiration behind the Jazz Butcher song ‘Southern Mark Smith’??

GL: I was a fan of the early Fall I suppose. Haven’t been aware of too many comparisons myself. As for ‘Southern Mark Smith’ I really don’t know about that. It never occurred to me but when it did it seemed quite likely. Pat (the Butcher) is quite cagey about that kind of thing so I wouldn’t expect him to give me the right answer if I did ask him. He did tell me once he had our first press release photo out of Sounds on his kitchen wall, so it would make sense. I’ll give you his number and you can ask him. I wouldn’t trust the answer though.

A2: A lot was made of the last Fall record being MES’s ‘mortality album’ as he had been in hospital, and the last song in particular ‘Weather Report’ got a lot of attention because it was such a departure from the rest of it, being very reflective & full of references to ‘whirlpools getting wider and wider’. You had ‘Adulthood’ on the last album and now ‘Cancer Song’ closes this one in a vein that reminds me a lot of ‘Weather Report’ – ‘I looked up and saw an unattainable land’ and more directly ‘I’m not afraid of dying, just afraid of living too long’. Without wishing you into an early grave(!) do you think it’s inevitable that you’ve become a more reflective writer?

GL : ‘Cancer Song’ is partly about the illness and partly about the star sign. The line you quote is actually “I looked up and saw an unattainable lass”, later “an attainable lass” and is a sort of quote from a traditional folk song from an early Nic Jones album. I’ve no idea what you mean by a reflective writer. Silvered?

A2: On the subject of that song, there's always an epic closing song on a Blue Aeroplanes album. Which one are you most fond of?

GL: There you go again, asking me to have favourites. “Built In A Day”? “Sixth Continent”? “X Celebrity”? “Autumn Journal XXIV”? Someone came up to last week while I was watching an all-girl band called The Barronesques compete with a morris-dancing troupe at a street party in Bristol and said “Soul”, the last track on Tolerance, was his all-time favourite Aeroplanes track. So maybe it’s that one.

A2: Flying above the earth and/or looking down on it, has been a favourite lyrical motif for you – ‘A map below’, ‘Up in a down world’ and probably some others that I can’t think of at the moment. But that seems to have crept into album titles recently too. We’ve had ‘Altitude’ and now ‘Anti Gravity’ – what’s next? The stratosphere? Or some space travel-themed album?

GL: If I knew what the next title was, I’d have used it for this album.

A2: Seriously, what’s next? Obviously last year’s single China Brilliance Automotive was left off the album - have you much other new material recorded?

GL: There are quite a few out-takes, some about 12 minutes long, none of them mixed, some without final overdubs. I imagine we’ll start writing new stuff soon, though. Don’t like to get stuck.

A2: You’ve also done a few volumes of the self-released ‘LIT’ series, the last of which was the William Blake / David Axelrod one – any more of those planned? And how are you getting on with your mythical Definitive History of Rock??

GL: Yeah, there’s a new LIT on the horizon. And my History Of Rock is neither mythical nor definitive. It’s extremely personal, opinionated and argumentative.

 A2: Why vinyl-only? And what are your plans for the album after that? Will there be a US release?

GL: Why not vinyl-only? No one asks “why download only?”

A2: Finally, you’re playing Bristol on May 20th to launch the album and to mark a year in charge of the Fleece. Any other live shows planned yet?

GL: Yup. The Garage in Islington. June 7th. Be there or be square.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Gerard Langley talks 'Anti-Gravity', pt 1.

The Blue Aeroplanes release what will be their tenth studio album, 'Anti-Gravity' in June, available on vinyl only. We've had a sneak preview and it's no exaggeration to say it is right up there with their very best work. Gerard Langley kindly took the time to answer a few questions from us about it.

AlbTwo: Firstly, congratulations on the album - you must be very proud of it? It sounds to these ears to be more consistent than ‘Altitude’ – do you think that’s a fair assessment, and if so, why do you think that is?”

Gerard Langley: It’s more consistent than ‘Altitude’ because it was recorded largely by one lineup at one time, the first time we’ve done that since ‘Life Model’.

A2: What’s your own personal favourite tune on there? Tell us a bit about that?

GL: Don’t have a favourite tune. Or if I do, it’d be different next week. That applies equally to Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Sandy Denny, The Flamin Groovies, Dr Feelgood, The Duke & The King or Camper Van Beethoven.

A2: Who’s ‘in’ the band at the moment, if such a concept even exists?

GL: Me, John, Max Noble, Gerard Starkie, Chris Sharp, Rita Lynch. With Dave Chapman as a pretty regular addition and recently Rodney Allen’s come back into the frame. It’s always nicer if there’s a regular bunch of people but it doesn’t matter if there isn’t.

A2: How did the link-up back with Dave Chapman come about? He was last in the band for Spitting out Miracles, which was released in 1987? Had you stayed in touch, and what had he been doing himself musically during that period?

GL: Yeah, we’d always been in touch with Dave to some degree but kind of forgot to invite him and he didn’t volunteer. That’s now been corrected. It’s amazing how difficult it is to play the earlier stuff properly without either Dave or Nick Jacobs around. Their style was so individual. Dave first re-appeared in 2007 and did Fiddlers with Angelo. When we rehearsed ‘Lover & Confidante’, a song we did for years with the Angelo/Rod/Alex Lee lineup, Dave played the riff (which he wrote) and Angelo said “bloody hell! That’s how you play it!” Dave has mostly been involved with arty film projects during the intervening years, either lecturing or doing weird commissions in Scottish castles to commemorate a century of venison or something.

A2: And how about St Vincent? Have you met? Were you mutual fans?

GL: I have met St Vincent. I’m a fan of hers, I’ve no idea if she likes us or not. She’d heard of us.

A2: Who or what else had an influence on the album?

GL: Absolutely nothing specific. We literally went into a room and started playing. Most of the early tracks were recorded without the band even knowing.

A2: How has running the Fleece rubbed off on the Aeroplanes? You must have (inevitably) seen a lot more up & coming bands over the last year or so as a result – have you seen anyone that reminds you of yourself, or that has given you a different perspective on your own band?

GL: No. That’s not how it works.

Part 2 follows shortly, in which we rather rashly draw comparisons with Mark E Smith.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Welcome to AlbTwo

AlbTwo is a record label. The stunted distant cousin / ugly duckling / black sheep of the Albino Recordings string of creative enterprises, it arose out of the need to release music by the brilliant Revere.

Since then we're very proud to have released music by eighties electro kittens Paw Paw; by storytelling folk songwright Kat Flint; by flame-haired jazzworldbluesrockgypsyfashionista chanteuse Gabby Young and her Other Animals; and most recently by cult Bristolian art-rock legends The Blue Aeroplanes.

This blog will be about these artists, the marvellous music they make and the stuff they get up to along the way. And occasionally about football.