Albums of 2015 #3 - Lanterns on the Lake - Beings

Lanterns on the Lake
Beings
Released November 13th, 2015
Bella Union

Lanterns on the Lake have long known how to produce a cohesive, flowing album that rewards the listener with a consistently interesting and engaging experience, powerful yet melodic, dramatic yet beautiful, haunting yet heart-warming, Beings, the Newcastle bands third full-length might just be the most wholesome yet.

“Of Dust & Matter” sets the decidedly sombre tone, a darkened, glistening look into a sound that is perhaps starker than their earlier material but intensely captivating and more direct too. The brilliant single “Faultlines” immediately bursts into life and sees twinkling piano keys combine with dense, gripping atmosphere and bristling guitars. Ever-bold and innovative, on “Faultlines” Lanterns manage to sound rawer and more aggressive yet still conjure up some of the most beautiful, emotional noise possible.

The focus throughout is coherent theme and atmosphere, the subtle yet sprawling "I'll Stall Them” with its eerie electric guitar whilst the devastating “Send Me Home” is Lanterns at their most minimalistic and charming, it leads into the brilliant “Through The Cellar Door” with a quick one-two straight in the gut. Full of evocative, deeply layered soundscapes that sees the band flit between their trademark crescendos and quiet intersections where a haunting beauty truly hits the fore.

It almost feels wrong not to mention all of the tracks, “Stepping Down” is a spectral electronic number that’s completely different to anything the band have done before it, intensely intoxicating with its dark, tense mood. “The Crawl” is a return to the bands signature slow-burn, emotional and melodic and then there is the incredible title-track, glacial twinkles and tense atmosphere collide in a a wide-ranging, dynamic journey that sums up Lanterns on the Lake, there’s simple few bands around who are this consistently brilliant.

Lanterns on the Lake #12 – Through The Cellar Door

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Lanterns on the Lake release their third LP Beings this Friday through Bella Union. To get me even more excited about that, an album that's pretty much guaranteed to feature amongst my yearly favourites, the Newcastle quartet have shared a new track “Through The Cellar Door”.

It continues where “Faultlines” left off, a quick one-two straight in the gut. Full of evocative, deeply layered soundscapes that sees Lanterns flit between their trademark crescendos and quiet intersections where the haunting beauty of the band truly hits the fore. As powerful, emotive and exquisite as ever.

Lanterns on the Lake #11 - Faultlines

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It was over half a decade ago now that I first heard Lanterns on the Lake and the band have stayed with me since, I often play back both of their records to date, so I am of course delighted to hear “Faultlines”, the first track taken from their forthcoming third LP Beings, released 13th November on Bella Union.

Immediately bursting into life with typically sweeping, cinematic soundscapes, the tracks sees twinkling piano keys combine with dense, gripping atmosphere and bristling guitars. Ever-bold and innovative, on “Faultlines” Lanterns manage to sound rawer and more aggressive yet still conjure up some of the most beautiful, emotional noise possible. I guess that’s why they are one of my most favourite of all bands.

A tour has similarly been announced to coincide with the album’s release, the date for my diary is December 1st at London’s Moth Club (I don’t think the place is even open yet, so fingers crossed!)… (full dates).

My Favourite 25 Albums of 2013: Part Five - 9-6

My Favourite 25 Albums of 2013: Part Five - 9-6

Direct Links to Albums (updated as they become live) : 25 - 22 // 21 - 18 // 17 - 14 // 13 - 10 // 9 - 6 // 5 - 2 // 1

9. Chelsea Wolfe - Pain Is Beauty

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Chelsea Wolfe has been one of the most prolific artists of the last few years; two studio albums, a live release and an acoustic album (as well as a split 7" and tribute EP) all in a relatively short period of time and with never a sign of dropping quality either (and worldwide tours on top). Not one to rest on her laurels Chelsea released her third album Pain Is Beauty in September this year and it might have come as a little shock at first for fans, sure you can instantly recognise Chelsea Wolfe, it's eerie, haunting and made it the dark but it sounds altogether different to anything heard previously. Instead of dirty, sludgy riffs swathed in distortion and the doom-laden drums there's predominantly a stark, minimalist electronic sound to the album and it works perfectly.

"The Warden" sees a thin, ethereal vocal whisper float over stark, industrial beats and glittering synths, its ominously beautiful yet powerfully hypnotic, similarly both "Reins" and "Sick" are full of eerie, droning soundscapes with a cinematic atmosphere that could soundtrack a nightmarish film while "House of Metal" is staggeringly brilliant built around looping electronics and twinkling glockenspiel-esque sounds, pulling you deeper and deeper into Chelsea's immersive world.

There are moments where the scope and ambition far surpasses anything that has come before it, both "Feral Love" and "Kings" are full of electronic energy with a brooding repetition and insurmountable amounts of tension building, the night is long and full of terror indeed while "The Waves Have Come" surpasses both in terms size and scope, an absolute behemoth of a track. Guitars do make an appearance of course, "We Hit A Wall" is full of echoey guitar patters and doom-laden drums whilst closing track "Lone" is a soft acoustic lament that recalls lasts years Unknown Rooms album, all in all Pain Is Beauty soon becomes the most fully realised Chelsea Wolfe album from a prolific artist at the top of her game.



8. Lanterns on the Lake - Until The Colours Run

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Lanterns on the Lake's 2011 debut Gracious Tide, Take Me Home was a stunning introduction to a beautiful, expansive group. The Newcastle quintet returned (with a slightly different line-up) in early September with Until The Colours Run, an album that takes their cinematic and emotive song-craft to an even higher level with sweeping, progressive atmosphere and pure, majestic beauty.

Opener "Eloide" sets the tone with a slow-burn build the ideal combination of beautiful quiet and aural storm, its bedazzling instrumentation shimmers and the heart-melting vocals of singer-songwriter Hazel Wilde remain in perfect unison as it aims straights for your guts. "The Buffalo Days" similarly beguiles with its vocals firmly at the fore around restrained acoustic guitar and a creeping mist of haunting instrumentation which only adds to the delicate, natural sounding melody.

The title track sounds as dynamic and fresh as anything the quintet have released so far, sweeping you off your feet with kaleidoscopic instrumentation bustling with life, bright and dramatic it's in direct contrast with the albums next track "Green and Gold", the most heart-stirring of moments where Hazel takes solitary control with here soft, twinkling piano keys, emotive vocals and the most intimate of lyrics ("well this was the part where you picked up and started again, you learn fear is just a fleeting thing"...). It's quite devastating.

The albums centre-piece though is "Another Tale From Another English Town", a track which manages to encompass together everything you think of when you think of Lanterns on the Lake, a  luscious, tinged-in-melancholy track where strings swoon over gentle but gripping landscapes. In summary Until The Colours Run is a complete delight and the perfect accompaniment to a nice long drink of whisky - I don't think there is a highest compliment to be paid than that!



7. Daughter - If You Leave

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I've written a lot about Daughter since my initial introducing post in November 2010, two and a half years later an expanded trio released their debut If You Leave and with it fulfilled all those superlatives and some more with the most potent combination of intimate song-writing, widescreen instrumentals and one of the most emotional and haunting voices in music.

"Youth" is the track which has most come to signal both the bands progression and that of their fan-base, the track has grown since its original place on The Wild Youth EP with textured drums, shimmering guitars and a pulsating heartbeat more prevalent than ever, characteristics of the progressive Daughter sound, yet still Elena's lyrics remains as bare-souled and enchanting as ever, striking hard with a pure-affecting vulnerability and heartbreaking power. When I heard the track met with a huge roar of excited squeals at recent live shows, the sort of squeals you'd normally associate with X Factor type acts, the trio's journey was made real, Elena's little giggle and smile summed up their feelings perfectly too.

The rest of the album is a masterclass in wounded, confessional lyrics which provide goosebumps moments at almost every turn, "Smother" tugs at your heart strings with its vulnerable guitar lines, the fragile "Shallows" is as tender and restrained as it gets and "Tomorrow's" slow-burn ambient electronic washes provide an emotional overload, slowly swelling around incremental progression as glacial guitars and rumbling percussion gradually become the focus of the track.

"Human" provides a fiery rest-bite to the intimacy but it is the stark, wounded lyrics and Elena's gorgeous voice, capable of healing any number of wounds that stays with you longest when this exceptional debut is over.



6. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

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Laura Marling, it is incredible to think that she is still only 23, already possesses a timeless collection of material and is armed with the ability to bring together people from all warps of life in awe of her talent and masterful song-writing skills. Her fourth album Once I Was An Eagle came out in the Spring and is, for me at least, the sign of an artist taking a mighty step up from already impressive highs and producing her most consistent piece of work to date.

Instrumentally stark the focus is on Laura's guitar and words with the odd bit of carefully-placed drums or orchestral swelling, it's darker and heavier than anything Laura's released before and there's also an excellent use of space and prose throughout. Once I Was An Eagle is an album in every sense of the word, it can be a demanding experience and it commands to be listened to as one, in fact the first five tracks play into one another like an epic story, the triple hit of "I Am An Eagle", "You Know" and "Breathe" mark the highlights for me, rising and falling with rich flourishes of depth, beauty and adventure. Laura's voice is distinctive and powerful enough to hold your attention and the lyrics combine to be a cohesive one. It's near pefection.

Elsewhere there are moments of true beauty like "Once", a simple and beguiling beauty. The solo acoustic tracks are arguably where Laura strikes hardest and here her plucks and devastating tone are pure, heartfelt and beautiful while "Master Hunter" shows the other side of Laura's arrangements, dazzling around bold, organic percussion.

There are more breath-taking moments too such as "Little Love Caster" and the closing track "Saved These Words". In total it's sixteen tracks and over an hour long with a deep, powerful narrative that keeps on giving and still leaves me breathless (even after hearing the tracks a good twenty times or so). In summation, what we have is an extraordinary piece of work from one of this generation's true stars - simply a magnificent achievement.

Lanterns on the Lake #10 - Until The Colours Run

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I'm still in the midst of catching up post-holiday so expect to see lots of 'old' news here this week, few more fantastic than this though, Lanterns on the Lake have shared a spellbinding animated video to the title track from their forthcoming LP Until The Colours Run (due via Bella Union on October 7th).

The track sounds as dynamic and fresh as anything the quintet have released so far, sweeping you off your feet with a kaleidoscopic melody bursting with life, where bright, dramatic strings bustling percussion and shimmering guitars collide into rousing crescendos amongst Hazel Wilde's defiant vocals.

The band head out on an extensive UK tour to support the albums release including a date at London's Bush Hall on October 22nd - full dates.

Lanterns on the Lake #9 - The Buffalo Days

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A very welcome surprise was found on my twitter feed earlier (so good I've written about it on my late lunch), an alternative live, semi-acoustic version of a new track by blog favourites Lanterns on the Lake. "The Buffalo Days" is taken from the quintet's forthcoming LP Until The Colours Run (due October 7th via Bella Union - pre-order link) and on this evidence is quite superb.

Hazel's beguiling vocals sit firmly at the front here as typically restrained acoustic guitar and a creeping mist of haunting instrumentation add an otherworldly feeling to a delicate, majestic beauty - I genuinely cannot wait to hear this record in full.

You can download "The Buffalo Days (Alt Version)" for the price of an email address here. LotL embark on a UK tour in October including a date at London's Islington Assembly Hall on the 22nd - full dates.

Lanterns On The Lake #8 - Another Tale From Another English Town

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It's almost three years since I first featured Lanterns On The Lake here, three years in which the cinematic band from the North East have become one of my most listened to artists with a genuinely gorgeous album Gracious Tide, Take Me Home and some stunning live performances which never failed to bring goosebumps to me time and time again.

Their long-awaited return happened late last week with the release of a video for new single "Another Tale From Another English Town" (from a new album due later this year via Bella Union), a come-back track which is instantly magical and distinctive with luscious, tinged-in-melancholy strings swooning over gentle but gripping landscapes and Hazel's beautifully soft lead vocals, as emotive as anything that's gone before it, "Another Tale..." is guaranteed to (once again) send shivers down your spine.

Such an important band this one - come and see them at Scala on June 19th (or in a town near you) - details.

End of the Road 2012 - Festival Preview Part One

I've been looking forward to the End of the Road festival for some time now, thankfully the time is almost here. One of my favourite labels Bella Union are curating an entire day at the festival, the Friday, and they have put together an exceptional line-up to start off the (hopefully rain free) weekend. I'll split my 'ones to watch' posts in two, one concentrating on the BU day and another on the rest of the weekend, both with six of the best acts to watch (there are plenty more acts to see) if you are heading to Dorset, or just a few recommendations if not.

Outside of the music the festival promises much too, laid-back atmospheres, lot's of variety in food and drink (one of my major criticisms of my last festival, Latitude), comedy, literature, family activities and incredible scenery and walks around Larmer Tree woods, a weekend is sure to fly by but with no further rambling (pun), I'll had straight into part one of my festival picks:

Mountain Man - Facebook
Garden Stage 12.30

Arguably the act I'm most excited to see is the opening act of the entire festival, Mountain Man had me spellbound back in 2010 with a breathtaking performance in the Crow's Nest at Glastonbury (check this video for proof), with a later show at St Giles Church in London living up to my initial introduction but since then, late 2010 we've had a period of silence, an EOTR performance last year was postponed with the girls later taking on a role in Feist's backing band.

Thankfully this year the girls make amends and return to these shores (though perhaps strangely there don't appear to be any other UK shows).  Largely acappella and always sparse, the trio's harmonies are from the heavens, their debut album Made The Harbor a timeless collection of understated, aching beauty. I cannot wait for this performance and the follow up album which hopefully must be nearing completion. (I live in hope).




Hannah Cohen - Facebook
Tipi Tent Stage 13.45

I've not seen Hannah Cohen since her performance at The Great Escape back in May, I'm expecting this show to be equally gorgeous. A sure fire entry into my top albums of 2012 with her exquisite debut Child Bride Hannah's to-die-for voice, haunting and intoxicating is bound to turn her audience into silent devotees and have them clinging to her every word, wrapped in melancholic acoustic plucks, her early afternoon set is sure to be an emotional, beautiful experience.



Still Corners - Facebook
Big Top Stage 15.30

As well as an exemplary field of Bella Union acts, the label have also invited some non-Bella friends to play, amongst them the divine Still Corners who I saw deliver possibly the best set I've seen (out of a good six or seven times) at Scala in May in support of EMA, their sound was fuller, darker and wrapped in sumptuous, mysterious beauty.

The band are working away on their next release currently and I'm very much looking forward to that, Creatures of an Hour introduced their exceptionally crafted film-noir aesthetics, otherworldly, kaleidoscope and damn-right wonderful. The live show is very much the same and should not be missed.



Lanterns on the Lake - Facebook
Big Top Stage 17.00

Another act who released one of my favourite albums of 2011 that I've not seen for too long are Lanterns on the Lake and I'm looking forward to breaking a duck which goes back to the start of the year and getting re-acquainted with the sextet's enthralling live show...

Hopefully combining tracks from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (my number three album of last year) with a couple of new tracks, their rich tapestry of intense, emotional melodies are spine-tingling in their beauty and sure to tug at your heartstrings, masters of multi-instrumental atmospheres, Lanterns on the Lake are not to be missed.



Veronica Falls - Facebook
Big Top Stage 20.30

As with many of these acts, Veronica Falls are a band I've seen and blogged on more than a handful of occasions over the past two or so years, the repeated superlatives used with these acts are to be forgiven though because without exception the acts are stunning.

Veronica Falls are no different, though switch the sweeping, celestial and cinematic soundscapes of my last couple of recommendations for a darker, faster macabre pop, bewitching in their intent, both bitter and sweet their delicious melodies and deadpan delivery will provide some of the weekends finest sing-along's.



Beach House - Facebook
The Woods Stage 21.30

A somewhat obvious choice of headliner but when it's Beach House, it's not important. A rare band who've managed to juggle commercial and critical success for two albums now with no sign of giving up. Bloom a perfection summation of the bands talents, perfectly constructed pop tracks combining both choruses with sparkling, impeccable melodies.

Its first single "Myth" brought the same magisterial, melodic dream-pop sensibilities that brought swooning reviews from all quarters but seems more dramatic, richer and larger in scale. Twinkling keys and shimmering guitars wrap around Victoria's trademark vocal, much like 'Take Care', "Zebra", "Walk in the Park" etc etc,

Beach House are simply not to be missed and their show will bring all sorts of goosebumps to lovers and dreamers all over the world, or in this case, festival.