Friday, February 25, 2011

q/a : ross godfrey brings ‘old morcheeba’ back to portland

Longtime trip-hop purveyors Morcheeba have spent the last several years experimenting. Releasing two albums with a variety of vocalists, the Godfrey brothers decided to go back to the basics, reuniting with longtime female vocalist Skye Edwards for their seventh studio album, last year’s Blood Like Lemonade.

It’s a return to the “old Morcheeba,” who broke forth during the mid-’90s, English trip-hop scene, with the soulful and sultry Skye Edwards back on vocals in a fresh “state of three o’clock in the morning.” Or more cheeba.

Spread across the globe, multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey was the glue that helped Morcheeba reconnect as he moved between his brother DJ Paul Godfrey’s house in France and Skye Edwards’ place in London to assemble the pieces that would become Blood Like Lemonade, the most hands-on record to date from Morcheeba.

“It was a true collaboration,” says Skye Edwards in the band’s A Brief History, which you can see when Morcheeba comes to Portland’s Roseland Theater on Friday, March 4th with their “close-knit band,” which even features Skye’s husband, Steve, on bass.

“We play a mixture of old and new songs,” says Ross. “We play a bunch of songs from the first couple of albums and about four or five songs from the new record. Any Morcheeba fan from any different period of Morcheeba that comes to the show should be pleased. There should be enough to satisfy everybody.”

Ross Godfrey spoke to OMN from his studio in Hollywood, Los Angeles, where he has lived for four years, although he spends most of time on the road and in London.

All three of you were recording from different places in the world during the creation of this album…

Yes and no. I spent a lot of time traveling in between LA, where I live, and London, where Skye was recording, and France, where my brother lives. I spent a lot of time going in between to link it all together. So yes, we did spend quite a lot of time in different places, but we did meet up a lot as well.

So you played the messenger role.

[Laughs] Well, yeah. I like traveling, and they probably exploited that fact. I spent nine months on the road last year, and then as soon as I got home my wife and I went traveling around India for a month, and I don’t know why I did that. I should’ve just gone home and sat on the couch and relaxed for a while. I guess I have itchy feet.

How’s it feel to have Skye back?

It’s really, really good, wonderful. It’s been a real pleasure playing with her again; we’ve had some great times. She’s such an amazing singer and she’s really good at writing. We spent a lot of time developing together so when we start writing together, it automatically fits. It was necessary for us to have some time apart because we’d driven each other a bit crazy, but it was really nice to get back together again. I just bumped into her on the street in London at the beginning of last year and we went to dinner and got drunk and talked about making a new record. And it happened very naturally. As soon as we started recording it just felt great.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

q/a : loch lomond’s ritchie young ‘starts a storm’

To most Portlanders, there is only one Loch Lomond–a six-piece chamber pop band headed by the intricately shrill Ritchie Young. Thus, Portland prefers the delicacy of its own erroneous bliss, which comes in mispronouncing Loch Lah-mond, to some foreign lake in the northern reaches of the United Kingdom.

But with the release of Loch Lomond’s second official album, Little Me Will Start A Storm,via Tender Loving Empire on February 22nd, the group is picking up momentum at home after a dormant year and is finally garnering attention abroad, especially from the land of their namesake. After being personally asked by Scottish street trials pro-bike rider Danny MacAskill to use the track “Wax & Wire,” from their 2009 EP Night Bats, in an online video, the clip has now been viewed more than 7 million times worldwide.

“I think because of this Danny MacAskill thing,” says Ritchie Young, “we’ll have sold 100,000 singles [of 'Wax & Wire'] at the end of the day.”

This led to the band being invited back to Edinburgh, Scotland, to play at a Red Bull Showcase just days before they will celebrate their album release at the Alberta Rose Theatre on Saturday, February 26th, with Ramona Falls. They’ll also hit Bend on their way to SXSW playing the Tower Theatre with Damien Jurado and Viva Voce on Monday, March 7th.

Growing and shrinking over the years, Loch Lomond began as Young’s solo project, and “before we committed to a solid band that wasn’t gonna change around, the total number of people that have played with me is about 31… 32,” says Young.

“The first half of the history of the band, it was just me with friends as my solo project,” adds Young. “But about half way through the history of the band, we had the lineup that we have now, adjusted ever so slightly. But it’s pretty much the same group of people. Going from a solo project… now it’s a band, a democracy.”

For their second album, the band has worked with inimitable support from Adam Selzer (M Ward), who tracked Little Me Will Start A Storm, and with the Grammy-nominated Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, Laura Veirs, The Decemberists) and Kevin Robinson (of Viva Voce and Blue Giant) mixing the album. Loch Lomond’s Ritchie Young (vocals, guitar, percussion), Scott Magee (clarinets, percussion, bass, ukulele, vocals), Jade Eckler (vocals), Dave Depper (bass, guitar, keys, vocals), Jason Leonard (vibraphone, banjo, guitar, percussion, sounds), and Johanna Kunn (vocals, piano, flute, melodica) are now ready to share their wispy, intertwining harmonies accompanied by non-traditional instruments including the saw, mandolin, theremin, bass clarinet, bass harmonica and all manner of percussion, like “lots of bells.”

Listen to the first single from Little Me Will Start A Storm, “Elephants & Little Girls”:

And read the interview on OMN.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

q/a : matt bishop on seattle chamber-pop septet hey marseilles

"I’m the singer for Hey Marseilles," begins Matt Bishop.

"The band began pretty organically a few years ago. Nick, Philip and I all attended the University of Washington together. There’s nothing better than the open schedule and lack of responsibility of being a college student to inspire three guys to make music."

Three guys soon grew into seven and the Hey Marseilles that now surround Bishop on stage is a veritable orchestra of players. A chorus of vocals combines with strings and brass and bombastic things that go bump, all creating an intimate sound that can draw you in with a tight embrace before thrusting you back with an intricate sonic shockwave.

Selling himself short, Bishop has been quoted as saying, “I don’t have much in the way of musical ability. I can strum three chords along with some really talented musicians."

In fact, it's his emotive vocals and wandering lyrics that lead the band that includes Nick Ward on guitar, drumbourine, and mandolin; Philip Kobernik on accordion and piano; Patrick Brannon on trumpet and bass; Samuel Anderson on cello; Jacob Anderson on viola; and Colin Richey rounding it out on drums. From wispy balladeering to insuppressible marching orders, everyone is known to pick up something percussive towards the end of a Hey Marseilles set generating the propulsion behind merry-making favorites like "Rio":

A hit in their own right up north, the Seattleites are quickly become familiar with the Rose City (and vice versa) as well as the West Coast circuit, sharing the road last summer with Portland's Loch Lomond promoting their independently released debut, To Trunks and Travels. Released in 2008, it was reissued nationally this past summer. Still supporting that debut, the fellows, who range in age from 21 to post-30 "but our collective maturity is in the 25-ish arena," clarifies Bishop, have been making music together as Hey Marseilles for four years.

Read the rest on OMN.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

the blow’s celebrity fantasy

“Do I look like a pop star?” queried The Blow’s Khaela Maricich after her third song–the first new track, “Make It Up”–of the evening as she dug herself deeper into her tale of celebrity collaboration. “Do I look like a world-famous lesbian?”

The answer to both those questions is: Yes. In Portland at least.

The Blow didn’t reveal too much about her current live show–a combination between a solo, electro-pop act and a monologue–when we spoke to her in December so we just had to wait patiently for her first return to Portland more than two and half years, selling out the Doug Fir on Wednesday, February 2nd.

Immediately silencing a packed house with a simple tapping on the mic with her index finger, The Blow opened the show in a hushed, a cappella whisper before easing into her narrative: a fable of big city, Big Apple, can-do-anything romanticism where an eclectic Northwest pop artist gets mixed up with the most feminine of feminine New York/Hollywood celebrity and is asked to collaborate, to write the story of her lesbian love.

It’s already been well reported that The Blow is not working with Lindsay Lohan, and although her name was not mentioned a single time on Wednesday night, we all knew the celebutante in reference was Lohan, from fashionable to disastrous to the same-sex fling.

Completely alone on stage, save for a mic, stand and several conscientiously placed lights, and with narrative help from her “coach” and numerous voicemails along the way, The Blow told the story of the album she’s been writing for her celebrity partner. Sharing “demo” versions of the album that will never be released, The Blow alternated between new songs and old hits like “Hey Boy,” “Come On Petunia,” and “Fists Up” as she worked her away through some eleven “songs” in 60+ minutes.

Asking a lot from her audience to stay so attentive between three-minute electro-pop blasts, The Blow had no problem captivating the willing bodies even during the intentionally awkward moments–like the extended sequences where she fashioned a side pony into comb over or the attraction to the pulsating, life-invigorating light.

The music, new and old, lived in abstraction amongst a world of NYC cafés and soirées, supposed voicemails and secrets shared, sun bathing on an inflatable mattress...

Read the rest on OMN.