Friday, December 14, 2007

HEALTH nominated for 2008 Plug Awards and awarded Pitchfork Top 50 videos, takes XLR8R magazine on its own “Best of L.A.” tour.

Band announces west coast tour dates in January 2008 with Dan Deacon, White Williams. Remix of HEALTH’s “Triceratops” by Acid Girls available now!

HEALTH, the L.A. underground music quartet whose -- ahem -- infectious music is catching like, well, like that winter cold going around, has been nominated for the illustrious 2008 Plug Awards in the Avant Album of the Year (LINK) category. Also, Pitchfork picked the video clip for “Heaven” (VIDEO) off of the band’s self-titled debut for its Top 50 Videos of 2007 (LINK) feature. Top top it all off, Spin Magazine recently featured HEALTH as its Artist of the Day (LINK). These accolades follow the band’s immensely successful fall tour and labor-intensive seven shows during the CMJ marathon in October.

HEALTH took a brief respite from the road recently to take XLR8R Magazine on a very thorough, revealing and occasionally sickening tour of its choices for “Best of L.A.” for the publication’s January issue. Shortly after XLR8R hits shelves, HEALTH will launch a west coast tour with Dan Deacon and electro-pop sensation White Williams (see dates below.) Details on further dates stretching into springtime with Crystal Castles will be announced soon.

The band has also set up a separate MySpace page from its regular band site (LINK) for all of its myriad remix/collaboration projects. Check out the HEALTH remix site HERE. The impressive word-of-mouth excitement about HEALTH has quickly become an international phenomenon. In late summer, the band ripped a swath across the U.K. -- garnering praise from the NME, BBC radio and many more -- and healed cynical souls all across the U.S. in October. The band’s live shows are sweaty, packed fits of beautiful noise that could perhaps be best compared to Liars, Animal Collective and latter-period Black Dice.

HEALTH’s self-titled debut full length on the ultrahip Lovepump United label hit shelves on September 18th, while L.A. based Cold Sweat Records (Battles, Phantom Family Halo, This Moment in Black History) issued the vinyl version of the album in early December. As if that weren’t enough HEALTH activity, the band has announced a slew of commissioned remixes following hot on the heels of the album. The impressive list of remix collaborators includes Pink Skull (Minneapolis), David Gilmore Girls (Amsterdam), Crystal Castles (Toronto), Curses! (NYC), Toxic Avenger (Paris), CFCF (Montreal), Juiceboxxx (Milwaukee), Narctrax (Tokyo), Lovely Chords (Buenos Aires), et al.

The group’s surging notoriety is also due in part to the magic of the Interwebs. “Crimewave” was the #2 most blogged about song according to Likewise, HEALTH was recently the #5 most blogged about band according to that blog aggregator, and #9 on Hype Machine. Anthem Magazine shot a recent amazing live performance of the song “Glitter Pills” at The Smell in downtown L.A., which can be seen HERE. Additionally, director Nik Mercer shot a collaboration between HEALTH and Aa (Big A Little a) reworking the band’s “Crimewave” that can be viewed HERE. Plus, Paper Thin Walls recently posted a raving track review for “Glitter Pills” HERE.

Regarding the remix onslaught, the band issued the following statement: “HEALTH likes to make scary noises, we like to chant until our faces go red, we like to beat on drums until there’s blood on the floor. But we also like to boogie, and sometimes we need help from people we admire. There is a great big world full of music and there is no excuse for standing in the corner with your eyes closed. You can always make friends with the other kids in class, even If your favorite band is Slayer and theirs is Bell Biv Devoe, so let’s hold hands.”

An MP3 of the CFCF remix of “Triceratops” is available now as is the Acid Girls remix (MP3) of that same track.

Instead of finding a room where the only thing one can hear is their heartbeat, HEALTH recorded its debut full length in one of the band’s favorite places. The Smell is an all ages music venue in downtown Los Angeles. It is open and brick and dirty and dark, but when you sing a church hymnal or hit a drum as hard as you can the sound is beautiful. They did both of these things on the record. They also went out and found equipment built the same time as The Smell, mostly ribbon microphones designed by the BBC for radio broadcasts in the 1930’s, things George Martin liked to use, and other things they didn’t know about. The record is 11 songs in less than thirty minutes - on it there is new music with old sounds.

HEALTH was six months old the first time they played for real people. Before that, there was more talk than music, mostly about art, food, sex, animals, records, drugs, politics and sleeping. After two more shows in Los Angeles, the group self released a 7’’ and went on tour. While they were traveling, people told them their music was weird. When they got back they played on a bill with Ex-Models and Death Sentence Panda. They felt like grown men. After that, people let them play shows more often, mostly at all ages art spaces like The Smell and Il Corral. They became friends with other L.A bands like No Age, The Mae Shi, Mika Miko, BARR, Captain Ahab, Anavan, and Abe Vigoda. Then they went on three more tours and a trip to SXSW.

HEALTH has also had a hand in 8-bit glitch duo Crystal Castles’ recent success. In addition to a Crystal Castles/HEALTH split 7” (released concurrently on Lovepump United with HEALTH’s LP), Crystal Castles highly anticipated CRIMEWAVE EP is named for a HEALTH remix for which the two bands recently shot a video (LINK).

* w/ Dan Deacon
% w/ White WIlliams
01/15 Los Angeles, CA El Ray*
01/17 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall*
01/18 Oakland, CA 21 Grand
01/19 Davis, CA Delta of Venus
01/20 Sun Reno, NV The Studio on 4th
01/21 Chico, CA The Crux Arts Collective
01/22 Olympia, WA Voyeur
01/23 Vancouver, BC Media Club%
01/24 Seattle, WA Chop Suey%
01/25 Portland, OR Holocene%
01/26 Eureka, CA The Vista
01/27 Santa Cruz, CA Blue Lagoon
01/28 San Luis Obispo, CA Tridosha Healing Center
01/28 Los Altos Hills, CA KFJC Radio 89.7 FM
01/29 San Diego, CA Casbah%
01/30 Goleta, CA Biko Co-op Garage Performance Space
02/01 Los Angeles, CA El Ray
02/02 Bakersfield, CA Narduccis Cafe

HEALTH Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Released: Sept. 18, 2007

01. Heaven (VIDEO)
02. Girl Attorney
03. Triceratops (MP3) (CFCF Remix MP3) (Acid Girls Remix MP3)
04. Crimewave (MP3)
05. Courtship
06. Zoothorns
07. Tabloid Sores
08. //M\\
09. Glitter Pills
10. Perfect Skin (MP3)
11. Lost Time

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cut creator Yea Big and emcee Kid Static create a virtual Chicago travel guide with new video “The Life Here” from acclaimed debut album.

Duo to bring its most - fun - hip-hop - show - we’ve - ever - seen to local hip hop fests this winter.

“My head jiggled atop my neck and my torso twisted and my brain cheerfully gyrated as this quirky and creative hip hop-based experimental mix of blues, electronica and extraterrestrial laptop tinkering had its way with my members.” – Chris Catania, Popmatters

“Stuttering, glitchy, and just plain jaw-dropping, Yea Big’s beats are up there with the big guns of Prefuse 73 and Daedelus. With Kid Static’s humorous, yet angst-filled rhyming filling it out, this duo have put excitement and innovation back into hip-hop.” – XLR8R

“More happens in these two minutes than an hour-long episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, so just imagine what the rest of their loop-laden, wise-cracking debut brings.” – Reed Fischer, Paper Thin Walls on the track “The Basement/Enfant Terrible” (MP3).

Chicago-based hip hop duo Yea Big + Kid Static have been basking in the love that comes from making one of the most fun and furious beatmeister-rhymemaster records of the year in the form of their recently issued, self-titled debut (STREAM). The first video to come from the record is an homage to the town they call home. “The Life Here” (VIDEO) contains footage of more Chicago landmarks than Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and it’s just as memorable to boot.

Ever wonder what happened to the FUN in hip-hop? What happened to the Digital Undergrounds, the Biz Markies and the De La Souls? With all this serious rap, who fills in the gap for the people who just want to get their dance on? You know the answer!

Some of the locations that should be familiar to any Chicagoan include: Comiskey Park, Edgewater, Evanston, Garfield Park, Gold Coast, Homan and Jackson Avenues, Humboldt Park, Jefferson Park, Lincoln Park, McCormick Place, The “Magnificent Mile,” “The Bean,” South Shore Cultural Center, West Loop, Wicker Park, Senn High School (w/ Yea Big’s dog Miso) and The “El.” Not bad for a band on a budget! See it HERE!

YB + KS were also captured on video during CMJ commanding the audience to “Eat Yo Sandwich” (LINK) and while Kid Static (aka Moses Harris, Jr.) is willing to submit to the lo-fi approach here, he’s also quite familiar with the most hi-fi of film experiences -- the professional stuntman by day (LINK) can be seen in the upcoming Will Smith mega-movie I Am Legend.

Interested parties can inquire about Static’s experiences working with The Fresh Prince when Yea Big + Kid Static rock a couple of Chicago hip-hop festivals in January with members of Jurassic 5, The Cool Kids, Verbal Kent and others. See below for more information.

Yea Big + Kid Static Live:
01/12/08 Tinley Park, IL Krush Skatepark (w/ The Cool Kids, DJ Intel, Shock Stars, Cold Water Mystic, Tramp Stamp, members of Jurassic 5)
01/18/08 Chicago, IL Metro Rhymefest w/ Verbal Kent

Yea Big + Kid Static Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE

01. The Screaming Starts At Sundown
02. We’ve Built A Time Machine That Runs On Beats. We Shall Only Use It For Good.
03. Static Leads The Coup
04. Transmission Ended
05. Joining Forces
06. Speak The Facts
07. Low Budget Battle Scene
08. The Basement / Enfant Terrible (MP3)
09. On The Blink
10. Repairs Are Needed
11. Duck, Mother Fuckers! (MP3)
12. Revel In The Aftermath
13. The Life Here (VIDEO MP3)
14. Things Have To Change, Pete
15. Why The Fuck Does This Keep Happening
16. Back Into The Sleeve

More about Yea Big + Kid Static:
YEA BIG: Yea Big (Stefen Robinson) is a detail obsessed mad scientist of the mix reared on Ravi Shankar, bluegrass and Motown. He released his first full length CD, The Wind That Blows The Robot’s Arms, in 2006 on Chicago’s Jib Door label to much confusion and praise. One dude called The Wind “an ADD trip through instrumental spaz-hop”. Yea Big has done remixes for Minneapolis avant-hip hop outfit Kill The Vultures, the 12 Apostles label, Illegal Art (Girl Talk), and continues to produce tour only mash-up and remix EP’s, the first two of which feature The Mae-Shi and Rapider Than Horsepower. He is also a part-time member of the Illegal Art group, Oh Astro.

KID STATIC: Producing and emceeing since childhood, native South Side Chicagoan Kid Static started off at the green age of 12-years-old, making frenetic and glitchy chiptunes. Years later, he gained local recognition as the front man for the defunct instrumental hip-hop group, The Cankles, whose much lauded Goddamn!! dropped in 2005 along with Static’s privately issued solo debut Have You Seen This Man? Stunt double by trade, Static is also an avid enthusiast of that mad French urban import parkour. No doubt, these on and off screen antics contribute heavily to Static’s sci fi, action obsessed narrative wordplay.

THE UNION: In fall 2005, Yea Big took a beating on one of Chicago’s largest hip hop message boards for reasons no one really remembers too well these days. Static watched as the crossfire obliterated this unheard of deejay and, after checking out some of his music online, invited Yea Big to collaborate with him. Drawn to Big’s atom splitting beats, Static says, “he’s doing the music I always heard in my head”. For his part, Yea Big, was mesmerized with Static’s presence. “His voice has an energy and grit. His phrasing, texture and flow did it for me.”

THE PRESENT: Over the last two years of collaborating together, Static and Big have played for Michigan meth farmers, cape cod yacht rockers, snacked on cheesesteaks behind the backs of Philly vegans and played grabass and smacked hi-fives with each and every one of them. Because in the world of high misadventure of Yea Big and Kid Static, the odd man out is always in.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Old Time Relijun’s “daemon” meetings captured on video, singer/guitarist tours with Japanese artist hot on the heels of Catharsis In Crisis tour.

“Unless I read them wrong (and I may; the music itself is the opposite of describing it: it’s wet, and bloody, and it smells like fresh earth and red cinders, and it’s a good goddamn time, is what it is) Old Time Relijun’s theory is that ‘the underground’ (I know. I know. I know) isn’t an identity that reinvents itself once or twice per generation, but a permanent place within a culture - maybe within all cultures - where styles don’t go in and out of fashion but are always floating around in the air just above our heads.” -- John Darnielle, Last Plane to Jakarta

“The music kicks ass: brutal, fluid, funky, spasmodic, violent, sexual…I wish there were more visionaries like Dionyso around.” -- Everett True, Village Voice

Old Time Relijun has been caught on video in various stages of “daemon” meetings and other devious practices of catharsis tied to its most recent cross-country evangelical mission. This past Halloween, the Pacific Northwest’s esoteric uprooters of rock’s antecedents were nabbed by an amateur cameraperson in the throes of a particularly frenzied ritual in New York City. See it HERE.

Likewise, this meticulously animated “crayonimation” video by Chad Paulson captures the eerie essence of Old Time Relijun’s infectious “Daemon Meeting” (VIDEO) track from its recently released Catharsis In Crisis on K Records.

The tireless troubadours recently completed a grueling comprehensive U.S. tour. However, singer/guitarist Arrington de Dionyso almost immediately launched a series of dates with Japanese underground musician Katsura Yamauchi in the Pacific Northwest. Katsura plays every member of the saxophone family, and he is renown for his intimate explorations of music in nature, having made recordings of his saxophone playing while almost completely submerged underwater.

Now, resting temporarily at home, Old Time Relijun is already scheming to take its haunting rituals overseas and throughout the U.S. yet again early in 2008.

Old Time Relijun’s latest K Records meisterwerk Catharsis In Crisis received an impressive outpouring of critical praise since its release in late October. Legendary music scribe Everett True -- he who put Sub Pop and myriad others on the map with his writing in NME and Melody Maker, as well as current author and Plan B editor -- rated Catharsis In Crisis #1 in his “Top 5 Antifolk Songs” column in the Village Voice. A couple of weeks later, True followed that article with a column raving yet again about Old Time Relijun. Read the entire colorful passage HERE.

Likewise, esteemed critic and musician John Darnielle (singer/songwriter of The Mountain Goats and Last Plane to Jakarta editor, et al.) writes one of the most eloquent and flowing prose pieces about the latest Old Time Relijun disc in his latest zine. The review (clumsily quoted above) must be read in its entirety to be fully appreciated (LINK).

However, in addition to what the critics are saying, the band’s spokesmen, guitarist/vocalist Arrington de Dionyso and bassist Aaron Hartman have their own unique ideas to express regarding the concepts behind the album and its execution. So, the eminently quotable musical adventurers have made time available for interviews in order to share their vast ideas with members of the press (and blogs alike.)

Old Time Relijun continues to further shatter rock’s imperious formalism with its latest K Records release that landed in shops on October 9th, 2007. Song after song, the ferocity of vocalist/guitarist Arrington de Dionyso draws listeners deeper into a world where language, rhythm and unrepentant libido collide. The music is temperamental, unwieldy and unyielding; aimed to cut listeners to the bone.

Catharsis In Crisis was written and recorded at Calvin Johnson’s fabled Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, WA over four inspired days and nights. Legendary producer Steve Fisk was recruited to mix this raw material into OTR’s most fully realized album to date. OTR + Calvin Johnson + Steve Fisk = a magical alchemy of sound and light. But don’t worry folks, it’s still terrible background music.

Arrington de Dionyso’s electrifying vocal delivery retains the blood-soaked risk of a true underground visionary, while showcasing his mastery of over-the-top nuance. Aaron Hartman (contrabass) and Germaine Baca (drums) propel the album forward with relentless bump-and-grind. Catharsis In Crisis is the first album to reveal OTR’s new secret weapon, subversive “saxophonista” Benjamin Hartman, who uses and abuses his classical training to drive the band further into the spheres.

Often lazily compared to a No Wave version of Captain Beefheart, Old Time Relijun’s subversive -- dare we call it sadistic -- mashing of world folk music styles sounds brutally fresh. No Wave? Forget that. Catharsis In Crisis is Yes Wave for the young millennium. “Daemon Meeting” (MP3) blazes through a bizarre convocation of underworld creatures, to conclude with the query, “what does it mean to be human?” A tenor saxophone throttles the dub-infected “Liberation” (MP3) with propulsive urgency through a zone of “young life and decay,” while songs such as “In the Crown of Lost Light” and “Invisible New” confront infinity with their bright shimmering sound. Even Dante is given a run for his money with the Ennio Morricone influenced junk-disco centerpiece “Veleno Mortale,” actually an Italian “re-translation” of the brutal “Burial Mound” featured on OTR’s album 2012.

Taken as a whole, the three discs of the Lost Light Trilogy (in reverse chronological order Catharsis In Crisis, 2012 and Lost Light) are a tour-de-force of myth, dream and autobiography. “We wanted ‘The Lost Light Trilogy’ to be a kind of rock opera,” de Dionyso says. “But with a non-linear development of plots and characters. Every song on each album contains musical or lyrical fragments of other songs within the trilogy, like broken shards of mirrors reflecting each other infinitely, the way a cubist painting presents multiple perspectives of the same subject, or the labyrinthine twists in a Borges story.”

Catharsis In Crisis, while concluding the trilogy, also stands on its own. Like the confrontational, compulsively danceable live show for which OTR is known and loved, Catharsis is a record and a testament to the oscillations of opposites. Darkness and Light, Water and Fire, Spirit and Matter struggle within Old Time Relijun’s alchemical oeuvre. From this elemental battle, the music emerges, dripping and triumphant.

Catharsis In Crisis Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE

01. Indestructible Life! (MP3)
02. The Tightest Cage
03. Daemon Meeting (MP3 VIDEO)
04. Liberation (MP3)
05. Garden of Pomegranates
06. Akavishim
07. Dark Matter
08. The Circular Ruins
09. Veleno Mortale
10. Dig Down Deeper
11. A Wild Harvest
12. The Second Day of Creation
13. In The Crown of Lost Light
14. The Invisible New

Olympia, Washington. New Year’s Day, 1995. A dark and smelly basement. Three young musicians gather to tackle the vast songbook of Arrington de Dionyso. They had heard his self-recorded cassettes. The songs were wild and lovely. Arrington (the rebellious son of Methodist ministers) played every instrument with the soul of an outsider artist who didn’t know any better. He knew he needed to bring his songs to life.

The original trio was brought together for one show. Just to see what would happen. They called themselves Old Time Relijun. Arrington played a $20 guitar and a beat up bass clarinet. He sang with a mixture of piss and vinegar that exploded with naive charisma. Bryce Panic harassed the drums. Aaron Hartman beat on a two-string upright bass with a microphone taped to its bridge. They communicated with the clairvoyance of long-married ninjas.

That first show, everything went red: strings broke, the bass was a solid mass of feedback, the PA was blown. They used Arrington’s songs as a template to meld shock-ritual with a mad-tea-party-dance-vibe. They barely noticed the college kids in full Riot Grrrl gear screaming, they had no idea that punkers and hippies were dancing together. Something awful happened that night. A band was born.

Soon they were playing full sets to friends and taste-making Olympia hipsters alike. They played every show they could - whether or not they were on the bill. They developed the kind of intuitive free-jazz rapport of which most bands could only dream.

In 1996, OTR recorded its first album, Songbook Volume One. They released it themselves, financing the production by tricking a friend out of his meager inheritance. The CD was packaged in stolen popcorn bags.

In 1997, Calvin Johnson invited the band to record a song for the Selector Dub Narcotic compilation for his K Records label. At that point, a beautiful relationship was born.

After Bryce left to pursue a life of dance and yoga in India, one of the band’s younger fans, Phil Elvrum, asked if he could join. He moved to Olympia, and OTR’s second of many lives began. Phil’s caveman beats and undeniable production savvy helped launch the first three Relijun albums K would release. Uterus and Fire (1999), was a bombastic exercise in recording in the red. Serena de Pecera (2000) was a one-night multilingual wonder, acting as a coda to the unyielding momentum of Uterus and Fire. Then came the band’s first true masterwork, Witchcraft Rebellion (2001), an album as deep and bizarre as anything you’ll find on your record shelf. A retelling of the first chapters of Genesis from the serpent’s point of view.

After a couple U.S. and European tours, Phil decided to focus his energy on his recording projects and his own band, the Microphones. Old Time Relijun continued in a variety of mutated formations, with various lost souls sitting behind the drum set.

The group experienced a brief lull in activity as Arrington began a vagabond period that would take him hitch-hiking across the United States and back and forth between Italy, France and Argentina. A compilation of unreleased oddities, Varieties of Religious Experience, was released in 2003, and both Arrington and Hartman had time to reevaluate the direction their band would take.

During his travels, Arrington composed an outline for what would become “The Lost Light Trilogy”. The first two installments, Lost Light (2003) and 2012 (2005), recorded with the help of drummers Rives Elliot and Jamie Peterson, respectively, saw extensive touring, a wider audience for the band, as well as high praise from critics world wide.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Saint Bernadette issues “Pieces,” the second video from its acclaimed In The Ballroom album, shot and recorded in Bridgeport’s Bijou Theater ballroom.

Also slated for early ’08: Saint B. singer Meredith DiMenna teams with Brian Grosz as The Priestess and The Fool to cover obscure duets by Siouxsie Sioux & Morrissey, PJ Harvey & Tricky and others.

“The debut album from Connecticut’s Saint Bernadette hits the sort of notes and touches that make me weak in the knees, by expertly melding things I’m a sucker for: ballsy broads, smoke-filled jazz clubs, and, of course, the element of surprise.” -- Sentimentalist Magazine

“The music on In The Ballroom, is seductive, eclectic, sophisticated and a natural fit for [Meredith] DiMenna’s superlative voice.” -- Stamford Advocate

In The Ballroom (STREAM), Saint Bernadette’s debut album, has already received much praise from the press -- not only for the gorgeous pipes of singer Meredith DiMenna, but also for the unique sound of the record which was recorded live in the abandoned ballroom of Bridgeport, Connecticut’s Bijou Theatre (pictured on the album’s cover). The marathon three-day recording session was documented on video as well, and that footage makes up the new clip for one of the album’s stunning tracks “Pieces”. See it HERE.

Those who have seen Saint Bernadette’s live show often marvel at just how heavy its live sound can be, especially when DiMenna channels her inner Janis Joplin via a whiskey or four. This sound is documented on a new EP that will compliment In The Ballroom. The disc, I Wanna Tell You Something, is set for release in early 2008.

As if she weren’t making enough work for herself, DiMenna is also teaming up with singer Brian Grosz as The Priestess and The Fool. Upon hearing the title cut from the soundtrack of the 1982 Francis Ford Coppola film One From The Heart, an epic duet between Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle, DiMenna and Grosz began to envision retooling the song as a vanity project to keep their hands moving and their chops up. Within a short period of time, however, the two found themselves searching for more classic duets to re-invent -- and thereby their six-song EP, A Minor Work was born. View an album trailer HERE.

Slated for a January 2008 release, and available as a limited-time free download on their website (LINK), A Minor Work spans the rough riffage that we’ve come to expect from Grosz and the trademark, 60’s-inspired soul of DiMenna. We also hear the duo launch themselves into the realms of lazy country and western, a haunting beatnik dirge, “Wall Of Sound”-era pop and even a choral eulogy accompanied by a church organist.

The full track listing of The Priestess and The Fool’s A Minor Work is as follows:

“You’re The Boss” - (Elvis Presley & Ann Margaret)
“Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?” (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong)
“One From The Heart” - (Tom Waits & Crystal Gayle)
“Broken Homes” - (PJ Harvey & Tricky)
“Interlude” - (Siouxsie Sioux & Morrissey)
“Back and Forth” - (Earl Greyhound) (MYSPACE)

More about Saint Bernadette and In The Ballroom:

Saint Bernadette Live:
12/11 New York, NY Piano’s

In The Ballroom Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE

01. I Own The City (MP3)
02. Bound To Do
03. She’s a Natural
04. Money In The Air
05. Pieces (VIDEO)
06. Sidestep (MP3 VIDEO)
07. Such Ease (MP3)
08. Lay Me Down
09. Universe
10. No Dreams

Meredith DiMenna, a professional vocalist by day -- she is well-known as the voice of MTV’s “Chunky Pam” (VIDEO) -- gets to show off her personal side with Saint Bernadette, making beautiful, loungey music that harkens back to Motown or early Atlantic releases. To make In The Ballroom, DiMenna, and her husband, guitarist Keith “Touch” Saunders, put together the lineup that would appear on the record and went north to a small cabin in Vermont to learn and arrange the songs. Inspired and invigorated by the results, they began the search for the perfect recording location.

“We knew we wanted to record it live. Because of the instrumentation, the dynamics depend on a real-time push and pull between the different elements and we felt we couldn’t achieve that in an overdubbing situation,” says Saunders. “We really wanted the record to reflect the energy of a live show.”

Recent transplants to Bridgeport, DiMenna and Saunders found that a local redevelopment project, the historic Bijou Theatre, was hiding a large and beautiful ballroom circa 1908 on the second floor. The developers gave the band permission to use the space for five days – one each to load in, load out and three to record. The album was recorded completely live - with everyone in the same room at the same time. It was nearly non-stop recording, except on breaks to go to the bar next door and keep tabs on the World Cup. When recording was finished, the band took the record to Peter Katis (Interpol, The National, Mates of State, Tokyo Police Club) of Bridgeport-based Tarquin Studio.

“Not only is he in Bridgeport, which was important to us – we really wanted it to be a hometown effort – but he’s also really talented. Working with him in his studio was a great experience,” says DiMenna. Saunders adds, “We had to wait a few months for him because he was busy working on The National, which was so hard since we were so excited about the recording, but it was well worth the wait.”

Lastly, famed hip hop producers, Black Panther and Shaad Almighty have decided to put their own take on In The Ballroom and are working on remixes of the album tracks “Lay Me Down” and “Money In The Air”. More information on the remixes will be announced in the near future.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Die! Die! Die! brings its good cheer to the states: releasing Promises Promises, playing the Big Day Out Festival in Australia and announcing US tour

“If the name didn’t tip you off, Die! Die! Die! have little patience for pop concessions. Abrasive and bare-bones, the band makes a lot out of a little... ...the result is mind-numbingly satisfying.” – Spin

“Die! Die! Die!’s self-titled debut is a gem, jam-packed with nine tracks of urgent garage- and post-punk coupled with hip-shaking rhythms...” – Alternative Press

“DDD smash head-on the decidedly British post-punk of Wire into the snotty anger of American hardcore act Black Flag, bringing forth an exciting punk fusion from the other land down under.” – Skyscraper

Hailing from the remote area of Dunedin, New Zealand, Die! Die! Die! is the only band of its type to recently emerge from its native hometown. With that said, it’s been ages since the members of Die! Die! Die! have returned. Having spent the better part of the past three years on the road, Die! Die! Die! wants to make your head, heart, and soul its home. To that end, the group has announced the February 12th, 2008 release of its sophomore effort, Promises Promises on Los Angeles based SAF Records and a slew of live dates to support the album, including Australia’s legendary Big Day Out Festival and South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Download the album’s lead track “Sideways, Here We Come” now (MP3).

Die! Die! Die! has been compared to an intriguing mix of bands, including ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Wire, Sonic Youth and kiwi faves like Bailter Space and The Clean. A video for the song “Out of the Blue” from the band’s debut album can be seen HERE.

The boys in the band -- vocalist/guitarist Andrew Wilson, drummer Michael Prain and bassist Lachlan Anderson -- traveled to Chicago two years ago to cut its first self-titled release with Steve Albini in a brick basement (responsible for some of the greatest records of all time). Needless to say, this record sent the trio on a whirlwind series of countless tours (supporting Blood Brothers, Wire, Slint and Wolfmother) and gained it considerable world wide notoriety which no band from their native Dunedin, New Zealand had seen since the Dunedin sound heyday of the 80’s.

In August 2007, Die! Die! Die! recorded its new album Promises Promises with popular New Zealand songwriter Shayne Carter producing. The record was engineered by Kevin McMahon in upstate New York in The Walkmen’s Marcata studio.

Reminiscent of the spirit and sounds of Black Flag, The Pixies, The Wipers, Wire, and Bailter Space, Die! Die! Die! delivers an unfiltered and powerful stage show. The band’s relentless tour schedule and onstage antics has earned it a reputation as one of the most energetic and hardest working bands around. Shows for Die! Die! Die! go on with fearless and confident delivery. In a wild fit, Wilson occasionally removes his guitar (with microphone in hand) to enter the crowd. This is a most effective way of dissolving the invisible crowd/performer boundary as Prain and Anderson keep the pummeling rhythms flowing without missing a beat.

The trio embodies a vitality that has long since made its way into the recent rock and punk circuits. There isn’t a rehearsed set of messages or stage antics, no glitter, no make-up, no phony sass. Cutting to the quick, Die! Die! Die!’s songs and live delivery are nothing short of awe-inspiring. These three are on the forefront of a new revolution without the aid of gimmicks or pretense.

Cathartic, direct, indispensable… You will know the sound as Die! Die! Die!

More Quotes From The Press:
“This trio has called Dundedin and Auckland their home but are in actual fact more like confrontational musical nomads plying a situationist international inspired lifestyle and calling it a band. The fact that they can make a simply brilliant noise along the way has been duly noted by fans around the world.” – CMJ

“This hit the player and eye’s shot up! Totally in your face, like they’re playing vacuum cleaners, and their vicious, spare, distorto-pounding and vocals are hair raising like a splatter film.” – The Big Takeover

“Willful dissonance is often the terrain of effete art rockers, but Die! Die! Die! pull it off with cool aplomb, recalling the abrasive hypnotism of mid career Sonic Youth and the noisy vigor of Jesus Lizard.” – The Sentimentalist

“This first full-length from New Zealand’s Die! Die! Die! is a shattered, angular masterpiece of animal instincts and serrated edges.” – Exclaim!

“...full of an indescribable power and beauty.” – Chord Magazine

“Play this record to really f***ing appreciate your own dull ache, to wallow in the disaster of your own creating - and secretly enjoy every last wail.” – Plan B

Promises Promises Tracklisting:
Release Date: February 12, 2008

01. Blinding
02. Britomart Sunset
03. Sideways, Here We Come (MP3)
04. Death To The Last Romantic
05. Whitehorses
06. A.T.T.I.T.U.D.
07. Maybe: Definitely
08. People Talk
09. Promises, Promises
10. Hold Me
11. Echo Echo
12. Throw A Fit
13. Blue Skies

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Faith, friendship and Farsi: The OaKs to release sophomore album Songs For Waiting in March 2008.

Band lyricist Ryan Costello details the story behind “Masood” -- the hypnotic, hopeful tale of an Afghani teen and a mythic hero. Fans of Paul Simon’s Graceland, Steve Earle, Wilco, Sufjan Stevens abide.

One of the major surprises of CMJ 2007, Orlando band The OaKs is set to release its sophomore album Songs For Waiting on March 3rd, 2008. The profound and stirring album is the follow-up to the band’s Our Fathers and The Things They Left Behind which caught the ears and minds of many fans and scribes in 2007 with its unique blend of Graceland’s polyrhythms, Steve Earle’s politics, Wilco’s urgency, and Sufjan Stevens’ orchestrations.

The story behind The OaKs’ music is just as interesting as the sounds. In late 2003, just two years after 9/11, The OaKs’ Ryan Costello sold everything he owned, joined a humanitarian organization and moved to Afghanistan. Costello lived there for two years, working in the Central Afghan Mountains with returned refugees, teaching them creative agricultural techniques and becoming fluent in their native language, Farsi. Late at night, while the dust storms blocked out the stars and rattled the windows, he would sit and work out impressions of what he had seen and heard that day on his acoustic guitar. Costello also documented his time in Afghanistan with a series of moving portraits which can be viewed at (LINK).

After returning to the United States, Costello joined back up with his long-time creative and songwriting partner Matthew Antolick, who was drumming full-time in a Moroccan band. Antolick and Costello began working out Costello’s melodic ideas and lyrical concepts, home-recording in Antolick’s apartment what eventually became Our Fathers and The Things They Left Behind. Exploring themes of self-sacrifice and introspection over roots-folk and jazzy melodic layers, Our Fathers... was an original breath of fresh air in the independent music scene.

The release of Our Fathers... drew immediate attention to The OaKs in Orlando’s press and music scene, and the attention quickly went national as Paste Magazine featured Costello and The OaKs in its July 2007 cover story “Can Rock Save the World?” (LINK). The OaKs also partnered with Global Hope Network on the release of Our Fathers... and agreed to donate 50% of the profits from each CD or track download to aid widows and recently-returned refugees from Afghanistan.

As the attention grew, Costello and Antolick realized immediately the difficulty of translating their multi-tracked compositions into a live setting as just a duo, and began working to put together a band of diverse musicians who could make the compositions come to life on stage. They were soon joined by Jeremy Siegel, a classically trained bassist steeped in Led Zeppelin and Bootsy Collins riffs, and also fluent in classical and jazz trombone. Tim Cocking came next -- a piano major and audio engineer as dexterous on his keyboard and accordion as he is on his trumpet, and Greg Willson, a seminary student wielding a mandolin and electric guitar and playing the breathiest Stan Getz-style saxophone they had ever heard. Their lineup was completed shortly thereafter by Melissa Reyes, a singer-songwriter whose alto voice and folk harmonies perfectly complement Costello’s high vibrato. From the first guitar riff at The OaKs’ debut show at the 2006 Anti-Pop Music Festival, it was apparent that these people were meant to be making music together - the energy in the room was electric, and the reviews were raving.

Out of this natural chemistry was born many new songs over the winter of 2006/2007. Inspired by the unique talents of each new band member, Costello and Antolick began writing songs that would showcase the bands rhythmic tightness and diverse instrumentation. The result is Songs For Waiting. On the album, Costello delves into the life of one of his complicated mythic heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran minister who was executed for attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler (“The Two Calls [of Dietrich Bonhoeffer]”). In “Masood” (MP3 – see detailed song description below), Costello paints a composite portrait of a teenage friend he had in Afghanistan who took on the mantle of his family after his father passed away, and of Akhmad Shah Masood, an Afghan war hero who was killed in the war of 2002.

Costello also draws from one of his favorite southern authors Carson McCullers in “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter” (LIVE at CMJ, 2007), writing about searching for truth amidst brokenness. He writes of his more personal experiences with spirituality and failure in the prayerfully repentant “Here I Am Again,” and with friendship across the divide of global conflict in “War Changes Everything.”

Inspired by Costello’s lyrical and melodic depth, Antolick pulled drumming inspiration from everything from Moroccan polyrhythms and bebop jazz, to John Bonham’s spacious power. The OaKs honed these tracks in the living room of Costello’s wood-floored 1950’s style house, and at live shows across the state of Florida, until the melodic complexity and rhythmic tightness of the music exceeded anything the band had done before.

In late July of 2007, Costello put in for part-time employment at his social work job and The OaKs began recording Songs For Waiting. Using the warm, full sound of Costello’s old house, he and Antolick were determined to use no artificial reverb on the new album, instead using room micing techniques to mix the elements together in the style of their favorite 1960’s jazz and rock albums. Even synthesizers were played through amplifiers and speakers and run into the room to give them the woody ambience of Costello’s house. Over the next few months The OaKs employed trumpet, trombone, sax, Hammond organ, bells, synths from the 70’s and 80’s, acoustic and classical guitars, electric and acoustic bass, a plethora of shakers, tambourines, and hand-drums, and a Wurlitzer electric piano from 1959.

In mid October Antolick, Costello, and keyboardist Cocking began mixing the new album. Using as few modern mixing tricks as possible, including no artificial reverb or delay, they carefully arranged each song. Throughout the mixing process they were mentored and guided by Alan Douches of West West Side Music, whose hand has been on great recordings from Paul Simon’s Graceland to Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House and Sufjan StevensIllinois.

Finally, after over four long months, The OaKs’ Songs For Waiting was finished on November 8, 2007. The new album is scheduled for release on March 3, 2008.

Songs For Waiting Tracklisting:
Release Date: March 3rd, 2008

01. The Two Calls (of Dietrich Bonheoffer)
02. Masood (MP3)
03. Old Bones
04. Pike County
05. After the Fires
06. The Attraction of the Pilgrim
07. Here I Am Again
08. War Changes Everything
09. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
10. Song for Waiting

More about The OaKs’ song “Masood”:
It was early December, 2004. 26-year-old Ryan Costello had just moved into a new house on the west side of Kabul with a South African family, having lived there only one month. With only a scant knowledge of the local language, Farsi, Costello began walking the streets near his house during the day determined to make friends in the neighborhood. After several days of hanging out with and taking photographs of the local school age children, he was invited by a middle aged man into his mud-walled shop and offered tea. Not knowing the local custom of declining invitations at least three times, Costello said “yes”, which surprised the man who frantically looked around, realizing he had no tea to serve. At that moment another, younger man with a beard and leather jacket who had been standing in the corner of the shop spoke up, “You must come to my house and have tea with us.”

Just a few hundred feet away Costello approached an old rusty gate racked with bullet holes and walked into a courtyard where the shell of a blown-out building stood. Up the winding stairs and into a carpeted living room, with thin cellophane over the gaping hole blown in the wall, Costello sat and waited. After a few minutes, in walked a young boy, around sixteen-years-old, with clear eyes and a wide smile. “Hello – welcome. My name is Masood.”

Thus began a close friendship between Costello and Masood. Taking him deep into the heart of the city’s swarming bazaars, Masood helped Costello buy a Chinese bicycle for 20 American dollars. Masood and his brothers took Costello all over the ancient city, from the mined mountains on the outskirts of the city where the faithful gather holy water from a sacred spring to the bird bazaar where birds from all over Asia are traded and sold. Their unlikely friendship grew deeper, as did Masood’s English and Costello’s Farsi. Masood shared his life story, how his father had been a renowned judge before the war and how they lived in a large house, which they now huddled in the remains of.

One sub-freezing night in the middle of winter, Masood showed up on Costello’s doorstep with red, worried eyes. “Can I use your phone to call my brothers out on the west side of the country?” After some prompting, Masood shared with Costello that his father was near death with an undiagnosed illness. Masood took Costello in the cold night to his house, up the stairs and into a small back bedroom, where Costello saw Masood’s mother, brothers, and sister huddled around his father who lay on a cot on the floor, a loud rattle in his chest. Masood invited Costello to come and sit with him next to his father, and they sat together for some time. Masood asked if Costello would pray over his father, and, raising his hands in the Afghan custom, he did. That night, Masood’s father passed away.

The next day began 40 days of mourning. Masood came over to get Costello one early morning soon after, and Costello walked into their courtyard to find relatives from all over Afghanistan had come to pay their respects for Masood’s father. Many of them walked up to Costello and thanked him in broken English for coming to spend time with him in his last hours, and for praying for him.

Costello and Masood continued their close relationship for two more years after this, until Costello left for America. Masood changed after his father died, becoming more sober and pensive. He shared with Costello the weight he felt on his shoulders to rise up and provide for his family and to take on their name.

Three years later, as Costello sat around in his living room in Florida one summer strumming on his classical guitar, he began working on a song that would weave in the story of Masood with another Masood who was killed in late 2001, Ahmad Shaw Masood. An Afghan mythic hero who rose up mighty armies to fight first the Russians and then later the Taliban, Masood from an early age carried himself as a warrior and a walking message to his people never to let themselves be ruled from without. Called “The Lion of Panshir”, Masood gave hope to his people in a hopeless time. As a composite of one personal friendship and one mythic story, Masood came to be one of the centerpieces of The OaKs’ new album Songs For Waiting.

The OaKs Live:
01/05 Orlando, FL The Social

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Electro-spaz duo Yip-Yip wraps-up a round of rocking the states, prepares for the release of new album in early 2008.

Band discusses the origins of its name, being banned from Canada, Muppets, sounding “video gamey” and costume maintenance with Metromix.

“It’s hard to categorize what exactly Jason Temple and Brian Esser, the duo behind Yip-Yip, accomplish on stage. Dressed head-to-toe in identical checkered costumes, the two look more like manufactured clones, an impression that’s reinforced by their spasmodically electronic yet strangely organic music.” - Paul Heibing, Metromix

See LIVE Yip-Yip footage HERE.

Collectively known as Yip-Yip, Jason Temple and Brian Esser are currently wrapping up a US tour in anticipation of the release of their latest record, Two Kings of The Same Kingdom, out February 5th, 2008 on the California-based S.A.F. label (Die! Die! Die!, The Show Is The Rainbow, Junius).

Two Kings of The Same Kingdom is the follow-up to the duo's critically praised In The Reptile House album. Click HERE to stream Two Kings of The Same Kingdom. The new album comes complete with a DVD including a video for each song on the record. If you don’t have your promo handy, you can check out the clips via You Tube HERE.

Recently, Temple and Esser sat down with Metromix writer Paul Hiebing who asked all of the questions any Yip-Yip fan would want the answers to. Check out the whole nationally syndicated interview HERE and sneak a peek below at the remaining dates on the current Yip-Yip tour. If you can’t see them now, be sure to catch these crazy brothers from different mothers in a city near you in 2008!

Yip-Yip Live:
12/04 Visalia, CA The Cellar Door
12/05 San Diego, CA Epicentre w/The Locust
12/06 Phoenix, AZ Trunk Space w/Cable Car Crash
12/07 Mesilla, NM The Bean
12/08 Austin, TX Mohawk

Two Kings of The Same Kingdom Tracklisting:
Stream The Album HERE
Release Date: February 5th, 2008

01. Anarchist Clog
02. Sprinkle Council (MP3 VIDEO)
03. Genius Beast
04. Humanly Wanderers
05. Car Picnic
06. Jazz Rats
07. Gender Changers
08. Club Mummy
09. Audacity Beach
10. Outer Tomato
11. Heavies Go Odd
12. High Heel To Mammal

More about Yip-Yip:
Yip-Yip is Brian Esser and Jason Temple, two 25 year-old “writhing costumed beanpoles” from Orlando, Florida. They have been making music together since they formed in 2001. They have also been roommates for much of this time, annoying neighbors in apartments until moving into “The Reptile House” in 2004. The house provides Yip-Yip with the space they need to continue making all of their music, recordings, art, videos, and costumes at home.

Yip-Yip started as a recording project and has, in its six years, resulted in two self-released full-length albums and an EP, two handmade art zine/CD singles, the CD-R-turned-international-release Pro-Twelve Thinker, and two more “real” releases, In The Reptile House and the upcoming Two Kings of The Same Kingdom. Two Kings of The Same Kingdom is Yip-Yip's fourth full-length album and comes in at just under 25 minutes. Its twelve new tracks were recorded by Yip-Yip in their house in Orlando, Florida over the summer of 2007.

New additions to the Yip-Yip arsenal of musical instruments on Two Kings include an organ, cymbals, a gong, and a real saxophone, a noticeable departure from the digital horns heard on their previous album. Yip-Yip also experimented with video for the album (a DVD is included with the CD), making a music video for every song using newly acquired, cheap, used equipment. Esser and Temple try to push themselves to their musical limits with each new album, resulting in a sound that is increasingly complex, yet still fun to listen to. The same goes for their live show.

Esser and Temple started playing live shows in 2003 and since then have experimented with incorporating everything from videos and strobe lights to rollerskates and goodie bags. At the beginning, they played scattered shows around Florida with friends and soon after began opening shows for various touring acts. A year or so of this led to their first tour in 2004, after which they've done eight tours with two more planned before the end of 2007. During this time, Yip-Yip has played nearly 300 shows, played with many of their favorite bands, made a lot of great friends, and seen most of the United States and parts of Canada -- this after serving a one year ban from the country in 2005 after trying to enter without work permits.

This year, Yip-Yip has stayed busy making new music, trying to push their sound into new musical territories. Their live show is a constantly growing, portable multimedia event, including costumes, video projections, and matching backdrops with every hand and foot being used to play the music on various analog synthesizers, an organ, a saxophone, cymbals, and effects. Their new album Two Kings of The Same Kingdom is set for release on February 5th, 2008 on S.A.F. Records.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Grammy award winning Dirty Vegas leader Steve Smith reveals debut solo album, This Town, guest appearances by John Savage and X-ecutioner Rob Swift.

Steve Smith, the former front man for the Grammy-award winning group Dirty Vegas moved to Boston in 2005 in search of a new beginning. Feeding off the musical inspiration of Boston, he began creating his first solo album, This Town. The project really started coming together when he joined forces with Anthony Saffery of Cornershop, who agreed to produce his songs. Together they booked the legendary Camp Street Studios in Cambridge, Massachusetts (formerly called Fort Apache) and got to work.

On this album, Smith collaborates with an assortment of talents, including producer Anthony Saffery (Cornershop, The X-ecutioners), Claudia Gonson (The Magnetic Fields), Terry Barber (New York Symphony Orchestra), Jay Ungar (principal violinist for the James Horner OrchestraTitanic, Legends of The Fall), and Rob Swift (Ill Insanity, The X-ecutioners, Quincy Jones). The result is a delightful fusion of sounds that blends folk, rock, electronica, and Steve’s inherent songwriting ability. View the album trailer HERE and check out the album’s lead track “Hit Me Up” (MP3).

This Town draws the listener in from the start with an inspiring dialogue by acclaimed actor John Savage (The Deer Hunter, Hair), which sets the stage for the main theme of the record. The message: “Life is a rollercoaster, but through our setbacks, we’re fortunate enough to inevitably end up exactly where we want to be.”
Or “Sometimes, being a genius is just getting up in the morning.”

Two bonus tracks are also included – a previously unreleased, acoustic version of the Grammy Award winning Dirty Vegas track “Days Go By”, and a new song called “Late Nights and Street Fights”, which was chosen to be the main title theme for the FOX TV hit series, Standoff. This Town is set for release on Smith’s own label, G.A.S. Records (named for his late father, George Albert Smith) on February 18, 2008.

This Town Track Listing:
View Album Trailer HERE
Release Date: February 18, 2008

01. This Town
02. Hit Me Up (MP3)
03. Restless
04. Universe
05. Morning Jane
06. Smile
07. Comedown Queen
08. Sleep Like A Lover
09. Better Off That Way
10. That Town
11. Bonus Track: Late Nights & Street Fights (Theme from the Fox-TV show Stand Off)
12. Bonus Track: Days Go By (Steve Osbourne Acoustic Mix)

More about Steve Smith and Dirty Vegas:
14-year-old Steve Smith was waiting for his piano teacher to arrive when he spotted the school drums and jumped on the kit. He was lost in the moment when the door burst open and the horrified teacher asked, “wouldn’t you prefer to sign up for drum lessons instead?!” Cue a cheeky grin!

Born into a South London working class home in the early 70’s, Steve was the youngest of five. He grew up with his ear pressed to his elder siblings’ doors where he gleaned everything from Marvin Gaye to Pink Floyd. As his teenage devotion to percussion grew, so did his passion for Latin musicians, specifically Santana and Tito Puente.

In 1988, acid house exploded in the UK and Steve found himself swept up in a wild new era of electronic music. He began to experiment with sampling the classic tracks he loved his whole life. A well-known house DJ, Andy Nichols, started a band that aimed to blend house music with live musicians. Steve instantly had the perfect introduction to playing live shows in front of huge crowds.

In the late 80s, rabid dance fans flocked to the illegal South-East England rave scene despite frequent raids by police and scaremongering stories in the papers about the supposed “drug culture.” But that did not concern Steve, who devoted every weekend to playing with Andy Nichols’ band or as a live percussionist at house clubs. He began to receive invitations to recording sessions and playing on club tracks. He became increasingly fascinated with the world of samplers and 909 kick drums. Still, while completely immersed in electronic music, he always held tightly to his childhood love for the Bruce Springsteen songs that had come from his sisters’ bedroom, and the sweet tones of Stevie Nicks that had blared from his brothers’ old stereo.

Steve steadily built a reputation as an excellent Latin percussionist and held residencies at legendary clubs, including Ministry of Sound. He toured alongside DJ’s like Sasha and Paul Oakenfold, and was ultimately offered a residency at the world famous ‘Pacha’ on the clubbing mecca island of Ibiza.

It was the summer of 1999. Steve had just split with his long-term girlfriend. With nothing to lose he packed up and drove from London to Ibiza with everything he owned. Days were spent with an acoustic guitar on stunning beaches, and nights in the infamous ‘Manumission’ and ‘Space’ clubs. He played alongside the top DJ’s in the world - studying how certain tracks caused reactions in crowds unlike those at any rock concerts he’d ever attended.

Inspired by the island of Ibiza as creative artists David Bowie, Mike Oldfield, Mario Testino and Errol Flynn before him, Steve spent the summer composing songs. As 1999 drew to a close, Steve headed into the studio for a session with Paul Harris, a DJ friend, who had been playing around the London ‘Milk Bar’ scene since 1990. Paul had just started working with a young producer named Ben Harris (no relation). While they were recording, Steve picked up an acoustic guitar and played them a song he called, “Days go by.” Paul and Ben loved it, and started to play around with the tempo. They recorded the song, called themselves Dirty Vegas and pressed 1500 vinyl copies. The track spread like wildfire through clubland - suddenly Steve had an Ibiza dance anthem.

Steve, Paul and Ben found themselves swept up in a rock and roll dream world of major label signings and world tours. “Days Go By” climbed the charts, and was licensed to a television commercial for Mitsubishi, ultimately garnering the band three Grammy nominations, and the award for best electronic song, in 2003.

Throughout his years with Dirty Vegas, Steve continued to write songs on his acoustic guitar. He knew that one day he would record his own album. Personal, sweet and intimate, some of those songs finally make an appearance in the track-listing of his first solo effort, This Town.

Dirty Vegas disbanded and Steve reunited with his girlfriend. He felt it was time for a radical change. Boston always had a magnetic energy for him when he played there and he felt a need to encourage that feeling. A move to the USA in 2006 got his creativity flowing and just like Ibiza a few years before, Steve started to soak up the musical heritage of his surroundings.

Semi-biographical songs, such as “This Town,” are about his move from London, while “Smile” (dedicated to Steve’s late father) came to him in a dream. In an amazing coincidence, Steve saw violinist Jay Ungar play at a local church in the small town where he had recently taken residence. After the performance he asked Jay, who has appeared on many famous movie scores, if he would play on the song. He told Jay it would be an honor since his father’s favorite piece was James Horner’s score for the film Legends of The Fall, on which Jay had played violin.
Another coincidence brought him together with Anthony Saffery, the former sitar player from the UK band Cornershop, who had also relocated to the Boston area and had become a producer. Together they booked time in the legendary studio, Camp Street (formerly known as Fort Apache) and began long and intense recording sessions: the outcome of which are the tracks that are Steve’s first solo effort, meaningfully titled This Town.

On his album, Smith collaborates with an assortment of talents, including producer Anthony Saffery (Cornershop, The X-ecutioners), Claudia Gonson (The Magnetic Fields), Terry Barber (New York Symphony Orchestra), Jay Ungar (James Horner Orchestra), and Rob Swift (The X-ecutioners, Quincy Jones).

Steve can still be found spinning electro house sets at clubs around the country and around the world, but these days he might be just as likely to be strumming a guitar in a coffee shop, or playing percussion on a rock stage, in support of his new solo path. This Town is set for release on Smith’s own label, G.A.S. Records (named for his late father, George Albert Smith) on February 18, 2008.

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