Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inbox Update: Sigur Rós, Silversun Pickups, The Wood Brothers

You have to love a post when it kicks off with a media release detailing news about a forthcoming studio album from Sigur Rós. Valtari (XL Recordings) is the Icelandic band's sixth studio album, and is set for release here in the U.S. on May 29. The first track, “Ekki Múkk,” is now streaming on the Icelandic band’s official website,

Valtari will be released on double LP, CD and digital download. It is the first studio album since 2008 and marks the end of their indefinite hiatus.

The songs on this 54-minute album feel like an alternative musical path the band didn’t take after 2002’s untitled ( ) album. Frequently bereft of formal structures, and for large stretches of time more atmospheres than songs, the work – which the band has described as sounding “like an avalanche in slow motion” – offers a counterpoint to Sigur Rós’s steady yet unconscious migration towards public acceptance.

In English, "Valtari" translates as “steamroller,” and there is something right about the title in terms of the process of its creation. More of a “studio based” album than any of its predecessors, the long hours of experimentation and unsentimental editing have yielded incredible results.

Some songs have roots in earlier times. “Dauðalogn” and “Varðeldur” emerged out of sessions on the back of "Takk," but the choral ideas behind them stem from as far back as 2002 and an orchestral collaboration with the 16 Choir; 2009 sessions in the wake of the last album, resulted in some individually beautiful moments - three of which - “Rembihnútur,” “Fjögur piano,” and “Valtari” live here. But it was hard to draw a line between them, and the band found focusing on such elusive music hard to do for any sustained period.

They essentially put the record on hold. In 2010, singer Jónsi went off to make and tour for his expansive, critically-acclaimed solo album "Go." Keyboardist Kjartan spent time on his classically-inclined, unreleased work, "Credo."

A film scoring opportunity led to the creation of the towering and majestic "Varúð," arguably the record’s centerpiece. Scouting around for a closing credit song for last year’s live film, Inni, the band unearthed "Lúppulagið," which, in its reworked choral form is here titled “Varðeldur,” one of the album’s most understated and elegant songs.

The process of making Valtari, and the end results, are described by bassist Georg Holm:

“I really can’t remember why we started this record, I no longer know what we were trying to do back then. I do know session after session went pear-shaped, we lost focus and almost gave up...did give up for a while. But then something happened and form started to emerge, and now I can honestly say that it’s the only Sigur Rós record I have listened to for pleasure in my own house after we’ve finished it.”

Sigur Rós are: Jón Þór Birgisson (vocals, guitar), Georg Holm (bass), Kjartan Sveinsson (keyboards/piano), Orri Páll Dýrason (drums). Valtari was recorded by the band in Iceland.

Valtari track listing:
1. Ég anda.
2. Ekki múkk.
3. Varúð.
4. Rembihnútur.
5. Dauðalogn.
6. Varðeldur.
7. Valtari.
8. Fjögur píanó.

Silversun Pickups Announce New Record

'Neck of the Woods' set for release on May 8, 2012

Dangerbird Records is excited to announce the release of the new record by the Grammy-nominated Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods, on May 8. The record was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Jacknife Lee (U2, Weezer, REM, Snow Patrol), and the song "Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)" will be the first single. It can be heard HERE. The album is now available for pre-order at . The band is confirmed to perform from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! outdoor stage on release day, May 8.

Lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert told Spin magazine that the songs sound "like a horror movie." He continued, "[2009's] Swoon was more about what I was feeling at that particular time, whereas with this one, I wanted to see what built me. It was learning why I am the way I am." When discussing the sound of Neck of the Woods, Aubert told Spin that drummer Christopher Guanlao steals the show. "We really wanted to play with drums as textures. We played around with drums coming in here and there and building atmosphere, which guitars usually do." But he went on to joke, "I'm not going to let the others have all the fun. It's still a rock record. We wanted to have moments of explosions like we've done in the past, but we didn't want them to carry the whole song. There's something a little bit psychotic sounding that we really like and we didn't want to fill it entirely with big guitars."

Silversun Pickups (Aubert, Guanlao, bassist/vocals Nikki Monninger and keyboardist Joe Lester) have sold over 1 million records worldwide. Their first EP, Pikul, was released in 2005. While it hinted at great things to come, no one was quite prepared for the explosion of the band's debut LP, Carnavas. Released in 2006, the record peaked at #81 on the Billboard Top 200 and was the #1 Alternative and Independent record for four consecutive weeks. The fantastic single, "Lazy Eye," peaked at #4 at Modern Rock. In 2009, SSPU followed up with the equally powerful Swoon. That record debuted at #7 on the Billboard Top 200 and was in that chart for over 22 weeks on the strength of the #1 Modern Rock smash, "Panic Switch." On November 25, 2011, they released the limited edition Seasick 10" to support independent retail.

The band will be touring throughout 2012 and 2013.

The Wood Brothers' First Live Album, Coast-to-Coast Sellouts, 100-Date Tour

The Wood Brothers, "masters of soulful folk" (Paste), answer the booming demand for their "gripping" (New York Times) live show with their first live album, The Wood Brothers Live, Vol. 1: Sky High, out May 8 on Southern Ground Artists. The seven-song release, accompanied by the duo's biggest-ever year of touring with nearly 100 dates, includes live versions of songs from the duo's first and third studio albums, including 2011's acclaimed Smoke Ring Halo on Southern Ground Artists.

Watch the brothers' impromptu version of "Luckiest Man" via Mason Jar Music:

Last week's packed NYC crowd at the Bowery Ballroom demanded two encores from the Georgia/New York duo of Chris and Oliver Wood. Known for their "taut musicianship" (LA Times) and "impactful songwriting" (Relix), the brothers have already sold out shows this year in Chicago, Nashville, San Francisco, and Portland, among others.

A second live album will be released later this summer. See full 2012 tour dates here:

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