Beggars Group - what happened last week - ending 5/3

Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums) have spent the last 4 years on an incessant world tour, winning the devotion of an enthusiastic and rapidly expanding audience. Their first two back-to-back releases, Masterpiece (2016) and Capacity (2017), have been analyzed, wept to, danced to, critically applauded, imitated, hummed idly, and shouted out loud. They have sound-tracked crowded restaurants, difficult conversations, cowboy bars, yoga classes, night drives, and lonely bedrooms.

Their first record for 4AD, U.F.O.F. was recorded in rural western Washington at Bear Creek Studios. In a large cabin-like room, the band set up their gear to track live with engineer Dom Monks and producer Andrew Sarlo, who was also behind their previous albums. Having already lived these songs on tour, they were relaxed and ready to experiment. The raw material came quickly. Some songs were written only hours before recording and stretched out instantly, first take, vocals and all.

“Making friends with the unknown… All my songs are about this,” says Lenker; “If the nature of life is change and impermanence, I’d rather be uncomfortably awake in that truth than lost in denial.”

“The alien abduction that happens in the lyrics is nearly as strange and beautiful as the one that happens in the music” – Pitchfork (Best New Track for “Cattails” and “UFOF”)

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The National recently announced their eighth studio album I Am Easy To Find, due out May 17th on 4AD, and the companion short film of the same name written by Academy Award-nominated director Mike Mills (20th Century Women, Beginners), and starring Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander. This week, the band released album track “Hairpin Turns,” featuring Gail Ann Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan, alongside a Mills directed music video with vocal performances from Dorsey, Mina Tindle, Kate Stables and featuring dancer Sharon Eyal, co-founder, co-artistic director and choreographer of L-E-V Dance Group.

To celebrate the release of the new record and short film, The National have announced a number of worldwide screening and listening events in the week commencing May 6th. These will give fans across the world their first chance to hear the new album and watch Mike Mills’ short film in cinema quality.
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Holly Herndon brings the full force of her vocal ensemble to the fore with new single “Frontier” and accompanying visuals by Darío Alva. An interpretation of Appalachian Sacred Harp music, the song considers a “Frontier” of green or of dust – the consequences of the choices we make as a society. “Frontier” follows the euphoric “Eternal” and skittering beatbox of “Godmother” [featuring Jlin and Spawn], all taken from her third album, PROTO, out May 10th via 4AD.

“At a Sacred Harp meet up, the singers sit in a square or circle, facing each other and singing loudly a capella,” Holly explains. “When I stood in the middle of one, I started crying because it was so incredible.”

PROTO isn’t about A.I., but much of it was created in collaboration with her own A.I. ‘baby’, Spawn. PROTO makes reference to what Holly refers to as the protocol era, where rapidly surfacing ideological battles over the future of A.I. protocols, centralised and decentralised internet protocols, and personal and political protocols compel us to ask ourselves who are we, what are we, what do we stand for, and what are we heading towards?
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black midi, the enigmatic London-based four-piece that “are less interested in proving themselves the future of indie rock than in imagining indie rock from the future” (Pitchfork), this week presented new single, “Talking Heads”. Alongside the band’s recently shared single, “Crow’s Perch,” “Talking Heads” will be released as a double A-side 12” this month via Rough Trade.

“Talking Heads” is a calculated intensity, driven by frenzied percussion, bright, vivacious guitar, and fitful vocals. “We’ve always tried to make it heavy but danceable, melodic but good rhythms,” says vocalist and guitarist, Geordie Greep. “It is accessible music, there are experimental aspects that we’ve taken from when we went crazy at the beginning, we’ve just reigned it in to make something that is pop music.”