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The MataBlog is edited by Matador Records’ co-moaner Gerard Cosloy and individual entries are the work of whoever’s name is next to them. If you enjoyed something in the MataBlog, thank you very much! If there was something you found particularly troubling, please be advised that a) maybe you should read it again and b) the contents of this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions of Matador Records, Beggars Group, the combined staff of either company, nor the Matador artist roster. Opinions are like friends — hardly anyone has one worth listening to.

Coming March 15 : Stephen Malkmus - 'Groove Denied'



"Viktor Borgia", directed by Jan Lankisch.




(photo by Robbie Augspurger)

For once, the rumors are true (some of 'em, anyway). The “rejected” electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been alluding to over the past year  will see the light of day on March 15th. That said, 'Groove Denied' is not a plunge into EDM or glitch-city. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. 'Groove Denied' is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a recent video interview, “It’s kind of funny to mess with stuff you’re not supposed to mess with.”

The first taste of Stephen’s new groove can be sampled today, with the release of single “Viktor Borgia,” and its accompanying video. The title playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. . “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982,” says Stephen, adding “and also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”

Stephen will embark on a brief solo tour, sans Jicks, in May. The newly announced run of dates can be found below. A full bio, composed by Simon Reynolds can be found as well.

download / stream "Viktor Borgia"
stream / preorder 'Groove Denied'
When Stephen Malkmus first arrived on the scene in the early Nineties, as frontman and prime creative force in Pavement, the area of music with which he was associated couldn’t really have been further from the techno-rave sounds of the day. Electronic dance music, then as now, was about posthuman precision, inorganic textures, and hyper-digital clarity. Whereas the lo-fi movement in underground rock championed a messthetic of sloppiness, rough edges, and raw warmth - a hundred exquisitely subtle shades of distortion and abrasion. “Imperfect sound forever” was the rallying cry for a micro-generation of slacker-minded dreamers and misfits.

Fast forward to the present and here comes Malkmus with a surprising new project that embraces the very digital tools and procedures he’d have once gone out of his way to avoid. Groove Denied – Stephen’s first solo album without his cohorts the Jicks since 2001 – was made using Ableton’s Live, a software sequencer and “digital audio workstation” that is the preferred tool of discerning techno producers and deejays worldwide. Instead of a human-powered rhythm section of electric bass drums, Malkmus’s arsenal further includes drum machines, along with a host of plug-in FX and “soft synths” (digital simulations of vintage electronic hardware that inhabit your computer rather than take over your entire living room).

For the first time on record, what you hear here is just Stephen and the Machine(s).

But Groove Denied is not a full-blown plunge into EDM or hiptronica, into the soundworlds of Deadmaus, Villalobos and Skee Mask. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. But Groove Denied is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a video interview, “It’s fun to mess with things that you’re not supposed to.”

This departure from the tried-and-tested stems back to earlier in this decade, when Malkmus spent a couple of years living in Berlin and was exposed to the city’s vibrant club scene Back in the Nineties, Stephen had given rave culture a wide berth, in part because of bad personal associations with the drug MDMA (he’d had “a really really bad trip” on Ecstasy in 1987, bizarrely on a visit to New York to see Miles Davis perform). But in Berlin, thanks to a younger deejay friend, Malkmus made forays into the city’s world-famous all-night party scene and became fascinated by techno. “The music can be great… you can zone out, dance, and focus on music - or just get wasted!”

It would not be entirely off-base, or an overly cute rock-historical reference, to describe Groove Denied as Stephen Malkmus’s Low. Although largely recorded in Oregon, the bulk of the album was written while he was living in Berlin. Updating his home studio with Ableton and teaching himself rudimentary Pro Tools, Malkmus “started fucking with effects and loops”. He compares the process of track-construction to the way his kids “used to make these girls on my iPhone - choosing hair colour, dresses, etc. That intuitive swipe and grab thing. Chop and move the waves. Apple computer scroll style of thinking.” It’s a very different way of making music to the feel-oriented way of coming up with chord progression and rhythm grooves on a guitar alone or jamming with a band. And in fact, electric guitar – while it does feature on Groove Denied – is really “just color for the most part”.

Yet while the methodology behind Groove Denied is absolutely 21st Century, the reference points for the sound-palette hark back to the pre-digital era. “The electronic music side of the album, I wanted it to be sonically pre-Internet,” explains Stephen. “So the EQ-ing is a bit 1970’s, that sloppy DIY sequencing. And the influences are kinda 1981 post punk - actually quite British.” “A Bit Wilder”, one of the stand-out cuts, specifically recalls Cabaret Voltaire, its slack-stringed dank-with-reverb bass a dead ringer for the Stephen Mallinder sound. “Yes, I was thinking the Cabs - and Section 25, whose 1981 album Always Now I think is a serious underdog stoner album. That grey industrial Martin Hannett sound. But also all these cute DIY group that imitated The Cure back then – loners with 4-tracks tape recorders and dreams of “Killing An Arab”.” Malkmus says he was trying to conjure or reinhabit the “fan perspective” on things like Joy Division and the Cure - the sort of “getting it a bit wrong” that unintentionally brings something new into the world.

Groove Denied is frontloaded with this Cold Wave redux sound - a style we’ve never heard from Stephen Malkmus before. Opener “Belziger Faceplant”, for instance, features a most peculiar processed vocal that sounds withered and grotesque, like a deflated wrinkly balloon still lingering on in your house weeks after a party. “I envisioned ‘Belziger Faceplant’ as made by someone off their head after a night out in Friedrichshain,” says Malkmus, referring to a district of the former East Berlin now rife with techno clubs like the legendary Berghain. “Coming back at 5 AM, firing up the laptop in the morning light and trying to make a song, but the instruments are tripping over each other. You can’t even speak because of all the Ketamine or whatever!” Malkmus adds that he’s never tried K but “for some reason I imagine it like that”.

Then there’s “Viktor Borgia,” a title that playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. With its stately melody and the almost-English-accented vocal, the coordinates here are early Human League or even Men Without Hats. “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982. And also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”

“Forget Your Place” features another eerily wobbled vocal a la “Belziger Faceplant” plus dub-style detonations of submarine sonar and nagging bleeps. Frankly, it sounds pretty darn wasted. “Like ‘Belgizer’, this is a pretty solid Ableton-based track – moving waves around, finding a trippy loop and throwing an echo on it,” explains Stephen, adding that “at times it feels almost childish, working with Ableton - like finger painting. But ‘Forget Your Place’ also makes me think about death – don’t ask me why!”

Alongside the early Eighties “minimal synth” and industrial influences, the other main palette of tone-colors audible on Groove Denied is closer both to Stephen’s comfort zone and to what his fans would expect from him: “warped psych,” as he terms it, that avant-garage tradition of dirty guitars and ramshackle grooves, except that in this case, it’s “one person pretending to be a band.” That illusion is pulled off magnificently on loose ‘n’ swinging tunes like “Come Get Me” and “Love the Door,” although the electronic element manifests still with the crisp and prim pitter of drum machine beats and a spume of Moog frothing all over “Door”. Then there’s “Rushing the Acid Frat”, whose title came from Stephen’s memories of a student fraternity at the University of Virginia that, unlike the typical beery bro frathouse, had a “Grateful Dead druggy tie-dye” vibe. Malkmus imagined “Rushing” as a “Louie Louie”-style shindig rumpus to soundtrack a “Star Wars bar scene in such a frat… It’s kinda 12-bar, but gigged with psych lyrics”.

As the album enters the homestretch, it returns to more familiar Malkmusian terrain, with a warmer, grittier sound. “I did frontload Groove Denied with the stuff that signals “80’s/cold,” he says. “That stuff excited me the most - and it sounded braver. If I had another year, it could have been all in that style.” Still, with the second half offering gorgeous tunes like the hazy-lazy ramble “Bossviscerate” and the glittering “Ocean of Revenge” – both graced with his signature style of odd-angled melodic beauty – who’s complaining? Mellow closer “Grown Nothing” feels like Malkmus easing back towards the sound of his recent album with the Jicks, Sparkle Hard. In fact, although it has been released after Sparkle, 70% of Groove Denied was completed before work on the Jicks record. Indeed, Malkmus’s explorations with sound-processing influenced that album, most notably with the unexpected appearance of Auto-Tune on a couple of tracks.

Groove Denied will shake up settled notions of what Malkmus is about and what he’s capable of, repositioning him in the scheme of things. But looking at it from a different angle, his engagement with state-of-art digital tech actually makes perfect sense. After all, Nineties lo-fi – the sound in which he and Pavement were initially vaunted as leaders and pioneers - was nothing if not insistently sonic – it was all about the grain of guitar textures, about gratuitously over-done treatments and ear-grabbing effects. Noise for noise’s sake. It’s just that it was looking to older modes and antiquated technology. From the Big Muff and the Cry Baby Wah pedal through to today’s deliberately distorted deployment of pitch-correction, there’s really an unbroken continuity: the creative misuse of technology, the aestheticization of mistakes and flaws, wrongness-as-rightness.

As Stephen tweeted recently on the subject of Auto-Tune’s omnipresence in contemporary music-making: “We long 4 transformation....and we humans fucking luv tools.”

Simon Reynolds, Jan 2019







(Tour Dates, New Shows sans Jicks In Bold, On Sale Friday Jan 25, 10am Local Time)

Wednesday, January 23 Metro, Chicago IL
Friday, January 25 Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn NY
Wednesday, May 1 The Great Hall, Toronto ON *
Friday, May 3 Arts At The Armory, Somerville MA *
Saturday, May 4 Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore PA *
Sunday, May 5 Union Stage, Washington DC *
Tuesday, May 7 3TEN ACL Live, Austin TX *
Friday, May 10 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland OR *
Saturday, May 11 Columbia City Theater, Seattle WA *
Tuesday, May 14 Swedish American Hall, San Francisco CA *
Wednesday, May 15 Lodge Room, Los Angeles CA *
Thursday, May 30 Primavera Sound, Barcelona ES
Tuesday, June 4 De Casino St. Niklaas BE
Wednesday, June 5 Knust, Hamburg DE
Friday, June 7 Debaser, Stockholm SE
Tuesday, June 11 Parkteatret, Oslo NO
Wednesday, June 12 Bergenfest, Bergen NO
Friday, June 14 Lille Vega, Copenhagen DK
Saturday, June 15 Traumzeit Festival, Duisberg DE
Tuesday, June 18 De Kreun, Kortrijk BE
Wednesday, June 19 La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris FR

* Indicates Stephen Malkmus only

Stephen Malkmus Online :

Stephen Malkmus.com
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Twitter - Stephen Malkmus
Twitter - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

OUT TODAY: Steve Gunn - 'The Unseen In Between'


Photo by Annabel Mehran

Steve Gunn's new album The Unseen In Between is available worldwide today. Stream the album, order the LP/CD via the Matador Webstore or find it at your local independent record store via the link HERE.



Gunn begins his extensive full-band tour in the Northeast beginning on January 30th, continuing through North America and Europe into May 2019. Tickets for all dates are on sale now.

Steve Gunn On Tour
Wednesday, January 30 The State House, New Haven CT ^
Thursday, January 31 Great Scott, Boston MA ^
Friday, February 1 Bowery Ballroom, New York NY ^
Saturday, February 2 Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA ^
Thursday, February 7 The Hangout, Long Beach, CA  (Steve solo)
Friday, February 8 The Casbah, San Diego CA ^
Saturday, February 9 Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles CA ^
Sunday, February 10 Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz CA $
Tuesday, February 12 Aladdin Theater, Portland OR $
Wednesday, February 13 Tractor Tavern, Seattle WA $
Friday, February 15 Hopmonk Tavern, Novato CA #
Saturday, February 16 The Chapel, San Francisco CA #
Tuesday, March 12 Bitterzoet, Amsterdam NL
Wednesday, March 13 Paard, Den Haag NL
Thursday, March 14 Vera, Groningen NL
Friday, March 15 Nochtspeicher, Hamberg DE
Saturday, March 16 Radar, Aarhus DK
Monday, March 18 Folken, Stavanger NO
Wednesday, March 20 Revolver, Oslo NO
Thursday, March 21 Pustervik, Gothenburg SE
Friday, March 22 Loppen, Copenhagen DK
Saturday, March 23 Frannz Club, Berlin DE
Sunday, March 24 Archa Theatre, Prague CZ
Monday, March 25 UT Connewitz, Leipzig DE
Tuesday, March 26 Manufaktur, Schorndorf DE
Wednesday, March 27 Arena, Vienna AT
Saturday, March 30 Südpol, Luzern CH
Sunday, March 31 Rotefabrik, Zurich CH
Monday, April 1 Sonic, Lyon FR
Tuesday, April 2 Le Petit Bain, Paris FR
Wednesday, April 3 De Kreun, Kortrijk BE
Friday, April 5 Oslo, London UK
Saturday, April 6 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK
Sunday, April 7 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK
Monday, April 8 Deaf Institute, Manchester UK
Thursday, April 18  Cactus Club, Milwaukee WI*
Friday, April 19 Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL *
Saturday, April 20 Storehouse, Galien MI
Sunday, April 21 Off Broadway, St Louis MO*
Monday, April 22 89th Street, Oklahoma City OK*
Tuesday, April 23 Double Wide, Dallas TX *
Wednesday, April 24 Barracuda, Austin TX*
Friday, April 26 Saturn, Birmingham AL*
Saturday, April 27 40 Watt, Athens GA*
Sunday, April 28 The Earl, Atlanta GA*
Monday, April 29 The Basement, Nashville TN*
Tuesday, April 30 The Mothlight, Asheville NC*
Wednesday, May 1 Cat’s Cradle, Carborro, NC*
Thursday, May 2 Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte,NC*
Friday, May 3 Richmond Music Hall, Richmond,VA*
Saturday, May 4 Songbyrd, Washington DC*


^ w/ Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
$ w/ Meg Baird
# w/ Sachiko Kanenobu
* w/ Gun Outfit

Steve Gunn online :
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Steve Gunn.com

Matador Revisionist History : Considering Unsane's 'Total Destruction'





(photo by Michael Galinsky)

stream / order 'Total Destruction'

What would possess a respected independent label entering an (ill-fated) joint-venture with a major record company to make one of their inaugural releases a record as uncompromisingly unpleasant and visceral as Unsane's 1994, 'Total Destruction' --- once again, re-pressed by Matador and now on sale to mark the album's 25th anniversary? Well, for starters, we were a bunch of arrogant motherfuckers who thought we knew better (MAN, DID THE YEARS BEAT THAT OUT OF US). Also, maybe you had to be there (and I was there --- over and over and over again and I have the hearing/brain damage to prove it) but Chris Spencer, Pete Shore and Vincent Signorelli were a devastating force. That we did a somewhat crap job of convincing more than a few people of this is something we'd love to lay at the feet of Atlantic Records...so there you go. It's everyone's dream to do what they love and here we are still doing it.



("Body Bomb" video, directed by Richard Kern)

Fast forward a quarter century later and Unsane are still making sick records, touring the globe (now with Dave Curran in Pete's spot) and setting an impossibly high bar for a new generation of bands. And Matador's still working O.T. hoping you won't be overcome with noxious nostalgia fumes, but not before you jump on a totally destructive a 25% off sale.

Iceage North American Dates 2019



Iceage spring US/Canada dates
- tickets for non-Coachella dates onsale this Friday at noon local time

 

Sunday April 14 - Coachella Festival, Indio CA
Wednesday, April 17 - Rebel Lounge, Phoenix, AZ *

Thursday ,April 18 - Club Congress, Tucson, AZ *
Sunday April 21 - Coachella Festival, Indio CA

Tuesday, April 23 - The New Parish, Oakland, CA *

Thursday, April 25 - Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR

Friday, April 26 - The Vera Project, Seattle, WA

Saturday, April 27 - Distrikt, Victoria, BC

Sunday, April 28 - The Astoria, Vancouver, BC

Tuesday, April 30 - Dicken's Pub, Calgary, AB +

Wednesday, May 1 - Amigo's Cantina, Saskatoon, SK +

Thursday, May 2 - Temple, Edmonton, AB +

Saturday, May 4 - The Good Will Social Club, Winnipeg, MB +

Sunday, May 5 - The Aquarium, Fargo, ND +

Monday, May 6 - Turf Club, St. Paul, MN +

Tuesday, May 7 - Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL +

 

* - with Shame



+ with Nadah El Shazly

stream/purchase 'Beyondless'

Iceage online :
website
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VIDEO : Steve Gunn - "Vagabond"



Steve Gunn today shares a third song off of 'The Unseen In Between' (out January 18), the gorgeous “Vagabond” and its accompanying official video. Named after Gunn’s favorite Agnes Varda film, “Vagabond” could almost be the soundtrack to a Denis Johnson short story or Sam Shepard play, with its rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray -- like Mona who “camped out in a graveyard” and Jean-Pierre who “came from the road, his artwork remains unsold.” Accompanied by gorgeous harmonies from Meg Baird, the song is a meditation on our restless times, an ode to the runaways, drifters, and vagabonds trying to make ends meet.

Jason Evans directed the accompanying official video, which includes graphics by Stephen Powers. It’s a stylish black & white performance film with a timeless feel, taking its visual cues from Richard Avedon and David Bailey. The intimacy lends itself well to Gunn’s impeccable guitar work, with close-ups of his fingers casting spells on the frets

(stream / download "Vagabond"
stream / preorder 'The Unseen In Between')

Gunn has also announced a lengthy run of new headline full-band tour dates for the spring, which will commence upon his return from playing East Coast, West Coast, and European shows on April 18th in Milwaukee. The full list of tour dates can be found below.



(photo by Clay Benskin)



Steve Gunn on tour (new dates in bold)

Thursday, January 31 Great Scott, Boston MA ^
Friday, February 1 Bowery Ballroom, New York NY ^
Saturday, February 2 Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA ^
Thursday, February 7 - The Hangout, Long Beach, CA  (Steve solo)
Friday, February 8 The Casbah, San Diego CA ^
Saturday, February 9 Teragram Ballroom, Los Angeles CA ^
Sunday, February 10 Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz CA $
Tuesday, February 12 Aladdin Theater, Portland OR $
Wednesday, February 13 Tractor Tavern, Seattle WA $
Saturday, February 16 The Chapel, San Francisco CA #
Tuesday, March 12 Bitterzoet, Amsterdam NL
Wednesday, March 13 Paard, Den Haag NL
Thursday, March 14 Vera, Groningen NL
Friday, March 15 Nochtspeicher, Hamberg DE
Saturday, March 16 Radar, Aarhus DK
Monday, March 18 Folken, Stavanger NO
Wednesday, March 20 Revolver, Oslo NO
Thursday, March 21 Pustervik, Gothenburg SE
Friday, March 22 Loppen, Copenhagen DK
Saturday, March 23 Frannz Club, Berlin DE
Sunday, March 24 Archa Theatre, Prague CZ
Monday, March 25 UT Connewitz, Leipzig DE
Tuesday, March 26 Manufaktur, Schorndorf DE
Wednesday, March 27 Arena, Vienna AT
Saturday, March 30 Südpol, Luzern CH
Sunday, March 31 Rotefabrik, Zurich CH
Monday, April 1 Sonic, Lyon FR
Tuesday, April 2 Le Petit Bain, Paris FR
Wednesday, April 3 De Kreun, Kortrijk BE
Friday, April 5 Oslo, London UK
Saturday, April 6 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK
Sunday, April 7 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK
Monday, April 8 Deaf Institute, Manchester UK
Thursday, April 18 - Cactus Club, Milwaukee,WI*
Friday, April 19 - Lincoln Hall, Chicago,IL *
Saturday, April 20 - Storehouse, Galien, MI
Sunday, April 21 - Off Broadway, St Louis,MO*
Monday, April 22 - 89th Street, Oklahoma City,OK*
Tuesday, April 23 -  Double Wide, Dallas TX *
Wednesday, April 24 - Barracuda, Austin TX*
Friday, April 26 - Saturn, Birmingham,AL*
Saturday, April 27 - 40 Watt, Athens, GA*
Sunday, April 28 - The Earl, Atlanta,GA*
Monday, April 29 - The Basement, Nashville TN*
Tuesday, April 30 - The Mothlight, Asheville, NC*
Wednesday, May 1 - Cat's Cradle, Carborro, NC*
Thursday, May 2 - Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte,NC*
Friday, May 3 - Richmond Music Hall, Richmond,VA*
Saturday, May 4 - Songbyrd, Washington DC*


^ w/ Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
$ w/ Meg Baird
# w/ Sachiko Kanenobu
* w/ Gun Outfit

Steve Gunn online :
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Steve Gunn.com

 

Happy 25th Birthday To Yo La Tengo's "From A Motel 6"



("From A Motel 6", directed by Hal Hartley)

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Yo La Tengo's "From A Motel 6" being released as a single thru the confusing maelstrom of the major label distribution system. It's also Ira Kaplan's birthday, and to celebrate both of these historic events we're offering 25% off 'Extra Painful' and 'There's A Riot Going On'. Stream "From A Motel 6" and find your territory's Matador Webstore



Yo La Tengo On Tour :

Tuesday, January 22nd Hi How Are You Day 2019, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, Austin TX
Wednesday, February 6th Teatro Capitolio, Lisbon PT
Thursday, February 7th Hard Club, Porto PT
Friday, February 8th Sala Capitol, Santiago de Compostela ES
Saturday, February 9th Teatro Victoria Eugenia, San Sebastian ES
Monday, February 11th Sala La Riviera, Madrid ES
Tuesday, February 12th Oasis Club Teatro, Zaragoza
Wednesday, February 13th Sala Apolo, Barcelona ES
Saturday, February 16th L’Aeronef, Lille FR
Sunday, February 17th EartH, Hackney UK
Monday, February 18th EartH, Hackney UK
Tuesday, February 26th Thalia Hall, Chicago IL*


* (Live Score to “The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller: a “live documentary” from filmmaker Sam Green.)

August 8-12 2019, The Belle & Sebastian Boaty Weekender

Yo La Tengo online :
Yo La Tengo.com
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