Vince Clarke "Songs of Silence"
As the album title suggests, Songs of Silence is a lyricless, instrumental album, and is hugely evocative for that. Unlike anything you’ve previously heard from Vince Clarke as an artisan of dynamic electropop, Songs of Silence has about it a more sober ambient electronic beauty, its unique characteristics put it in a category of its own.
For the creation of the record Vince set himself two rules – first that the sounds he himself generated for the album would come solely from Eurorack (a modular synthesizer format introduced in the mid-90s) and secondly that each track would be based around one note, maintaining a single key throughout. The resultant pieces, with the Eurorack sound clay then manipulated on Logic Pro, amount to wordless narratives, in which a sense of synthgenerated, cosmic remoteness is often jolted by stark interventions, reminders of the human hand at work amid this machinery.
Charlie and the Tropicales "Presents for Everyone!"
Charlie & The Tropicales return with “Presents for Everyone!” – a collection of tropical holiday music by way of sunny New Orleans, the northern most port of the Caribbean! Go ahead and mix up a punch and throw a log on the fire, or open up the windows and dance around the tree – be it a douglass fir, coconut palm or Evergleam!
Juliana Hatfield "Sings ELO"
ELO songs were always coming on the radio when I was growing up. They were a reliable source of pleasure and fascination (except for “Fire On High” which scared the heck out of me). With this album of covers I wanted to get my hands deep into some of the massive ‘70’s hits but I am also shining a light on some of the later work (“Ordinary Dream” from 2001’s “Zoom” album, “Secret Messages” and “’From The End Of The World”, both from the ‘80’s).
Thematically, I identify with the loneliness and alienation and the outerspace-iness in the songs I chose. (I have always felt like I am part alien, not fully belonging to or in this Earth world.) Sonically, ELO recordings are like an amusement park packed with fun musical games with layers and layers of varied, meticulous parts for your ears to explore; production curiosities; huge, gorgeous stacks of awe-inspiring vocal harmony puzzles. My task was to try and break all the things down and reconstruct them subtly until they felt like mine.
Overall, I stuck pretty close to the originals’ structures while figuring out new ways to express or reference the unique and beloved ELO string arrangements. An orchestra would have been difficult or impossible for me to manage to record, nor did I think there was any point in trying to copy those parts as they originally were. Why not try to reimagine them within my zone of limitations? In some cases, I transposed string parts onto guitars, or keyboards, and I even sung some of them (as in “Showdown” and “Bluebird Is Dead”).
Recording the album was a kind of complicated and drawn-out process since I was doing all of my tracks at home in my bedroom (drums and bass were done by Chris Anzalone and Ed Valauskas, respectively [in their own recording spaces]), and I kept running into technology problems that would frustrate me and slow me up. But eventually I got it all done. A labor of love. -Juliana
Loose Wing "Miracle Baby"
From Drum & Wires Recordings:
Loose Wing hasn’t cleaned up completely since its critically praised debut album — “Loose Wing are serving as an example that the area’s still got it,” says UPROXX. Instead the band, led by songwriter Claire Tucker, has further focused its pounding and present sound via their sophomore release Miracle Baby.
Miracle Baby delivers an even more potent version of Loose Wing’s ability to capture themes of “isolation, intimacy, and teen angst that has yet to be outgrown” (The Big Takeover), recalling Neko Case or Low — Tucker recently organized a benefit concert to benefit Low’s surviving member Alan Sparhawk following the untimely passing of Mimi Parker — set loose through the lens of Throwing Muses.