Fanatic was established by Josh Bloom in 1997 with a passion for building fan-to-fan connections between artists and the media, eventually becoming a taste making and sales driving agency where Josh continues to talk about the new artists of today that he believes you should be talking about tomorrow.
gave me something to shoot for.” – Britt Daniel of Spoon on Cotton Mather
It didn’t take 15 years for Cotton Mather’s Austin-based main man, Robert Harrison to write the 64 songs (64 songs!) that comprise his
latest musical vision: one song for each hexagram (or reading) of the I Ching. That’s actually the amount of time that has
passed since the last full-length album of new Cotton Mather songs was released.
With so much new material on deck, it seems like Harrison is making up the difference.
tracks from this treasure trove of new tunes have already been posted
one-by-one in “real time and real weather” as Harrison describes this creative process, and now the first of several
albums that will ultimately contain much of the entire song cycle, has been
Arriving on July
29th (with a limited white vinyl edition scheduled for Sept. 9th), the eleven-track
of The Cool contains another nine of Harrison’s pure pop meditations on Chinese philosophy.
Along with the album’s three currently available
tracks – “The
Book of Too Late Changes” (based on I Ching hexagram #24: The Return), “Child
Bride” (based on #4: Youthful Folly), and “Life
of The Liar” (based on #6: Contention), Death of The Cool brings
the total number of I Ching songs available to 21, representing approximately
one third of what will eventually be released.
21 songs deep into revealing such an ambitious
undertaking, Harrison reflects,
“These are my reactions in song to illuminations from the I Ching about life
unfolding. Some of the songs directly reference the text and others use the
readings as a starting point. Until I started this project, it had never before
occurred to me to seek counsel with respect to songwriting, but after I turned
to the I Ching for artistic guidance on several occasions with nice results, I
thought ‘Why not go for the whole cycle?’”
Harrison’s commentaries about each of the songs can be found
at the website for the project, ichingsongs.com.
“Each song’s commentary at ichingsongs.com reflects how a
translator traditionally shares thoughts on the reading,” Harrison says. “However, I will limit my commentary to the
readings themselves, and let the songs enjoy a free-range lifestyle.”
For anyone thinking that 64 songs written around a
single theme can’t possibly maintain a standard of quality, then welcome to the
unlikely world of Cotton Mather.
Founded by Robert
Harrison in Austin in the early 1990’s, the band initially had an
experimental sound, but soon evolved into a guitar-driven pop group defined by
accessible melodies, strong vocal harmonies and lyrical wit. Cotton
Mather released its debut album Cotton Is King in 1994, but it was
the follow-up album Kontiki, famously recorded on four-track cassette, that drew
praise from critics and rock-stars alike.
Magazine gave Kontiki five stars
calling the record “music to smile yourself to death to.” Mojo said the songs were “brought to life with daring vitality,”
and in its own five-star review, The
Guardian called Kontiki “a bewildering, dizzy thrill.” On our shores, the
bounce back of influence from across the pond was finally felt with Britt Daniel of Spoon being just one artist to say “Kontiki gave me something
to shoot for.”
Death of The Cool, the first of several anticipated albums comprising Robert Harrison and Cotton Mather’s endeavor to write and
record 64 songs for each of the I Ching’s 64 hexagrams is set for release on July 29th, 2016 (limited
edition white vinyl on Sept. 9th)
via The Star Apple Kingdom. Ten additional non-album tracks can be heard
now via ichingsongs.com
with additional non-album tracks forthcoming.
Harrison of Cotton Mather is available for interviews. Contact Josh Bloom at Fanatic for more information.
“Rollicking drums and bass collide with
salacious guitar licks.” – SF Weekly
“The video for ’Pretty’
was partially inspired and brought to life courtesy of Tinder,” says Tracy Shapiro
(vocals, guitar), one half of the Oakland-based band, Steel Cranes, which also includes Amanda Schukle (drums, bass, guitar, keys.) “We created a profile
saying I was in town shooting a music video,” Shapiro continues. “I put a few band photos on it, wrote that I was looking
for someone to play my boyfriend in a video, and within a few hours, we found
our future guest star. He came over to Amanda’s
house the next day and shot every scene in one take.”
Described by MTV
as possessing “the slo-mo heaviness of a 2,000-pound pendulum,” Oakland-based
band, Steel Cranes is offering up an
evolution of that sound on its upcoming new album Tango (August 5th, Mister White Tights Records.) Steel Cranes will launch a six-week
tour in support of Tango in Tucson, AZ on August
4th. See below for a full itinerary with additional dates to be
Tango is a more dynamic take on the “grit” and “raw,
relentless power” that MAGNET and Bitch respectively called out in their
2013 coverage of Ouroboros, the debut Steel
Cranes album. With a vision for the sound of Tango that was more
expansive, Shapiro and Schukle were initially stalled when
considering the logistics of accomplishing these time-consuming sonic
refinements in a studio environment. It soon became clear that the best option
was to record and mix the record themselves.
been recording her own music for years, and she began obsessively learning more
about recording and mixing,” Shapiro
remembers. “As soon as we decided to do
everything ourselves, the control freaks in us were unleashed!”
This education ultimately yielded the more passionate
and layered version of the Steel Cranes
sound that is heard on Tango. Once freed from the confines of creative
deadlines and traditional studio environments, Shapiro and Schukle took
full advantage of their new work paradigm.
“We wanted time and space to let ourselves stretch in
new ways,” Shapiro says. “In ways
that don’t come easy when you’re aware of how much it costs to spend three
hours experimenting with the fucked-up tones on your old Casio keyboard.” Most
of all, a year (versus five days spent recording Ouroboros) meant more of everything that made the first Steel Cranes album special.
Tango by Steel
Cranes arrives on August 5th,
2016. The latest single from Tango is “Today Is The Day,” recently premiered via Verbicide.
Tracy Shapiro and Amanda Schukle are available for
Josh Bloom at
Fanatic for more information.
Steel Cranes – On Tour
08/04 Tucson, AZ @
08/05 Phoenix, AZ @ Rips Bar
08/06 Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar & Grill
08/07 San Diego, CA @ Tower Bar
08/09 San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Donut Co.
08/10 Fresno, CA @ Dynamite Vinyl
08/12 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Crepe Place
08/13 Oakland, CA @ The Golden Bull
08/14 Pacifica, CA @ Winters Tavern
08/16 Ashland, OR @ Club 66
08/17 Eugene, OR @ The Boreal
08/18 Portland, OR @ World Famous Kenton Club
08/19 Seattle, WA @ Blue Moon Tavern
08/20 Olympia, WA @ McCoy’s Tavern
08/21 Tacoma, WA @ Real Art Tacoma
08/22 Boise, ID @ High Note Cafe
08/24 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
08/26 Denver, CO @ Lion’s Lair
08/27 Omaha, NE @ Barley Street Tavern
08/28 Lincoln, NE @ Vega
08/30 Iowa City, IA @ Gabe’s
08/31 Minneapolis, MN @ Amsterdam Bar
09/02 La Crosse, WI @ Root Note
09/03 Madison, WI @ BOS Meadery
09/06 Milwaukee, WI @ Linneman’s
09/07 Chicago, IL @ Township
09/08 Bloomington, IN @ The Back Door
09/09 Evansville, IN @ PG
09/10 St. Louis, MO @ Schlafly’s Tap Room
09/11 Columbia, MO @ Cafe Berlin
09/12 Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Saloon
09/14 Wichita, KS @ Kirby’s Beer Store
09/15 Norman, OK @ Red Brick Bar
09/16 Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
09/17 Santa Fe, NM @ Boxcar
“The kind of alluring character found in
old children’s books.” – UTNE
J Hacha De Zola has managed to actually “escape from Fat Kat City,”
(the title of his early 2016 debut album), leaving Rahway, New Jersey and the
shadow of the maximum security prison that literally loomed over him while
recording that record, and venturing across the country to a tiny studio built
in an old boiler room in Portland, Oregon.
It’s here that he was joined by the rest of the “Fat
Kat” band, as well as some legendary players in the form of Ralph Carney and David Coulter, to record Hacha
De Zola’s second full-length album of 2016, Picaro Obscuro, arriving
on August 12th. The
single “Bubble Gum” can be heard
now via Northern Transmissionshere.
Influences on the sound of Picaro Obscuro according
to Hacha De Zola include: Perez Prado, Captain Beefheart, Screaming
Jay Hawkins, Danil Kharms, Arthur Rimbaud, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Syd Barrett.
“He’s like a codeine cough syrup dream on the train to
Zurich,” is how legendary sax man Carney
describes Hacha De Zola. Carney, who made his bones with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, The B-52s,
They Might Be Giants, and Frank Black (and who is also the uncle
of The Black Keys co-founder, Patrick Carney), makes his tenor and
baritone horns an omnipresent force on Picaro Obscuro.
Multi-instrumentalist Coulter is everywhere, as well.
Coulter, who has recorded,
performed and toured with artists as diverse as Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker,
Laurie Anderson, Kronos Quartet, Yoko Ono, and Beck among
many other notables, shares a common compatriot with Carney in Waits.
Carney performed on the Waits
album The Black Rider, a collection of the songs from the theater
piece of the same name for which Coulter
served as Associate Musical Director.
single from Picaro Obscuro is “Bubble
Gum,” which Hacha De Zola
describes as “a song about distractions, escapism, confusion, and detaching
from reality in pursuit of confections. The world might be burning while we’re
caught up in our trivialities. Ultimately, it’s not a criticism; it’s just an
observation, as I’m right in it, too.”
Obscuro, the second album (and
second of 2016) by J Hacha De Zola
arrives on August 12th, 2016.
Hacha De Zola is available for
interviews. Contact Josh Bloom
at Fanatic for more information.