(ojo006) A Sunny Day in Glasgow Nitetime Rainbows (12″ & digital)
1. Nitetime rainbows
2. Daytime rainbows
3. So bloody, so tight
4. Piano lessons
1. Nitetime rainbows (The Buddy System Remix)
2. Nitetime rainbows (Acid wash edit by Benoît Pioulard)
3. Nitetime rainbows (Ezekiel Honig Remix)
The recording sessions for Ashes Grammar stretched across 6 months and were fraught with all kinds of disaster. But they were also incredibly productive. After the album’s completion, a good number of extra songs were put on the shelf for a while as the core trio of Ben Daniels, Annie Fredrickson and Josh Meakim reclaimed their lives. Not long after, Ben was laid off from his job and his afternoons were spent recording new music in the West Philly mansion where he was house sitting. Josh and Annie would come over often to record and hang out. Friendships were cemented. The first results of this wonderful time in ASDIG history are heard on the Nitetime Rainbows EP; an album of some of their brightest sounding songs to date. These are the sounds of a band falling in love, a band having fun.
“Nitetime Rainbows” always struck the band as a song that could be its own album, let alone EP/single. It was one of the most fun songs to record on Ashes Grammar, and it has the most elaborate and strange instruments on it– from vibes to lap steel to bulbul tarang. Its partner song, “Daytime rainbows,” was originally intended to appear on the full length but the band needed a bit more time to develop it. “So bloody, so tight” is one of the band’s absolute favorite songs they’ve recorded to date and it’s easy to hear why. The song is full of hope in a way the band has only hinted at previously. While the vocals are still low in the mix, the lyrics for this song are the first the band has ever shared. “Piano lessons” was the result of Ben, who cannot play the piano, sitting at the baby grand for many, many hours one night. By the end of the night he was deliriously pounding the keys, mashing as many as he could with his palms flat. The experience made him wish he hadn’t given up piano lessons when he was 12 and it also revealed some beautiful noise in the banging. The EP also features three remixes by label friends Benoît Pioulard, Ezekiel Honig and The Buddy System – each offering wholly unique interpretations of the title song. Artwork for the EP was contributed by Finnish artist Jaakko Mattila, whose artwork previously appeared on the CD and LP versions of Ashes Grammar.
Fresh off the success of Ashes Grammar, which was listed at #42 on Pitchfork’s Top 50 of 2009 year end list and their fall tour, the band looks ahead to a promising 2010. Ben, Annie, and Josh were joined by band newcomers Jen Goma, Adam Herndon and Ryan Newmyer during their fall tour and will continue touring across North America and Europe throughout the spring. 2010 will also mark the band’s debut at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX in March.
(ojo005) A Sunny Day in Glasgow Shy (digital only)
2. Walking pnuemonia
3. Curse words (a place where we can hide for a little bit mix)
“Shy” is one of the standout tracks from A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s critically acclaimed sophomore album “Ashes Grammar.” And “Walking pneumonia” is the foundation for “Shy” – a Kompakt influenced minimal techno track whose looping vocals give way to a wall of washed out noise. WP (previously only available on a 7″) was recorded in a few hours in March of 2008. After working on another song for hours and hours Ben purposely wanted to make the track as quickly as possible. He made the music on Saturday, went to his sister’s apartment the next day and just set up the mic and played the song and had her record whatever came into her head in onetake, and then went home and cut it up and said it was finished. It’s one of his favorite songs of theirs. The new mix of “Curse words” was a rough mix they did at one point when the band thought it might be a more substantial song. The band revisited the rough mix for this single.
(ojo004) A Sunny Day in Glasgow Ashes Grammar (CD & 2xLP & digital)
1. Magna for Annie, Josh, & Robin
2. Secrets at the prom
3. Slaughter killing carnage (The meaning of words)
5. Curse words
6. Close chorus
9. Passionate introverts (Dinosaurs)
10. West Philly vocoder
11. Evil, with evil, against evil
12. The white witch
13. Nitetime rainbows
16. Blood white
17. Ashes grammar
18. Ashes maths
19. Miss my friends
20. Starting at a disadvantage
21. Life’s great
22. Headphone space
LP1 – cream colored vinyl
1. Magna for Annie, Josh, & Robin / Secrets at the prom / Slaughter killing carnage (The meaning of words)
3. Curse words / Close chorus
2. Lights / Passionate introverts (Dinosaurs)
3. Blood white
LP2 – navy colored vinyl
1. West Philly vocoder / Evil, with evil, against evil
2. The white witch
3. Nitetime rainbows
4. Canalfish / Loudly
1. Ashes grammar / Ashes maths
2. Miss my friends / Starting at a disadvantage
3. Life’s great / Headphone space
Opening with a ten second homage to Estonian composer Arvo Part, it’s immediately apparent that A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s new album, Ashes Grammar, is going to be a much more visceral outing than their 2007 album debut, Scribble Mural Comic Journal. It takes a few minutes for the record to even begin to reveal itself, as a swarm of 1950s acapella (“Secrets at the prom”) gives way to resonant drones, room noise, and sub bass (“Slaughter killing carnage”). It’s here that “Failure” unexpectedly kicks in with a tribal stomp and a fluttering guitar acting as a pair of wings, lifting the circular chants of the song’s melody off the ground. It’s all at once joyous, insecure, and blissed-out—and sounds nothing like we’ve heard from A Sunny Day in Glasgow before.
Bandleader/songwriter Ben Daniels wanted to approach the making of Ashes Grammar differently than Scribble Mural Comic Journal—a one-microphone, bedroom-recorded album that seemed to catch the independent music world by surprise, with music tastemakers such as Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and many blogs all giving high praise to the Philadelphia-based group’s re-imagination of dream pop. Riding high after a successful 2008 European tour, Ben wanted to leave the bedroom and try recording in a, well, bigger room. He found a dance studio in rural New Jersey that would let the band take over the huge space on the weekends. Not having to worry about neighbors and landlords, it was the perfect place for Ben and drummer/recording engineer Josh Meakim to experiment with sounds. Everything, including synths, samples and drum machines, went out into the room first through a borrowed PA system and any amps they could find. The two spent countless hours moving microphones around, playing instruments and noises out into the room and re-recording those sounds a la Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting in a Room.”
While the sessions got off to a good start, they would unexpectedly lead into a tumultuous couple of months for A Sunny Day in Glasgow – literally transformative. On the day he was to begin laying down his parts, bassist Brice Hickey fell while loading his equipment into his car, breaking several bones in his left leg. Though a blow to morale, Ben would be able to handle the bass lines on the album, but this would also affect the involvement of ASDIG vocalist Robin Daniels – Ben’s sister and Brice’s girlfriend – who would now have to tend to her bedridden boyfriend for the next several months, making it impossible for her to spend any significant time in the studio. And with Ben and Robin’s other sister, ASDIG vocalist Lauren, attending grad school in Colorado, the group would essentially be without the two singers so integral to A Sunny Day’s celestial melodies. Band newcomer Annie Fredrickson, a classically trained cellist and pianist, would find herself stepping into another role as singer, along with Josh who – off the record – has an incredible vocal range, just tones short of a castrati. Ben, Josh and Annie would spend many late nights in New Jersey together developing a new melodic strategy and generally opening things up to anyone’s ideas. Annie’s friend, Beverly Diser (nom de guerre, Beverly Science) would come by from time to time to add vocal parts here and there; and one time touring bassist/in-it-for-life-member Mich White also contributed ideas from his home in Austin, TX.
In hindsight, those obstacles, coupled with A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s creative determination, reshaped the band in ways they never could have imagined. The resulting Ashes Grammar is far more nuanced than Scribble, but there’s still a cellular logic at play throughout. The brief, shimmering loop that is “Lights” turns out to be the very pulse behind the sun-kissed, ambient pop of “Passionate introverts,” a feel-good song perfectly suited to accompany daydreams or dancing alone in your bedroom. In contrast, “Shy” is about as close to rocking-out as ASDIG have ever gotten, as layers of Annie’s voice float over a steady beat and sparkles of synths, samples and noise. Still, even at their most accessible, there’s an indescribable otherworldliness flowing through the band’s music, one that is fully revealed during “Blood White.” Like Lucier’s aforementioned experimental touchstone, you can practically hear the shape of the room resonating in the washes of voices and samples that had been amplified, recorded, replayed and recorded again and again, resulting in lots of undulating tones and deep sub-aquatic bass before the track slowly drifts into the kosmische, carried by a light, Ashra/Gottsching-esque bed of bubbling electronics and guitar.
From the addition of new vocalists and strings, to a completely different recording environment and method to the proceeding, there are certainly many differences between the band’s first album and Ashes Grammar, but with Ben continuing his role as the principal songwriter, there’s no doubt that this is any other group than A Sunny Day in Glasgow. And once again, dream pop has been re-imagined.
(ojo003) The Battle of Land and Sea s/t (CD & digital)
1. Saltwater Queen
3. The Beautiful Ones
4. Harden My Heart
5. Six Days
6. I Built The Sea
8. You Are A Sailor
To describe the sound of The Battle of Land and Sea, one might call up images of abandoned sea-worn ships floating through a thick coastal fog. And upon first listen you might call to mind Cat Power, or the soft glow of Songs of Green Pheasant. But eventually, you start to hear what makes the music of Portland based Sarah O’Shura so special. You get a glimpse of a world through the eyes of someone on a musical pilgrimage, whether the tales are laden with sorrow or joy, they are enchanting and hopeful.
Growing up in a remote northern Californian town as an only child definitely left its stamp on Sarah’s imagination. Taking piano and clarinet lessons was the extent of her musical experience until taking up guitar and singing in a band at the age of 19. Fast forward through years of day jobs, bands beginning and ending, shows, recording, and we are nearly there. The Battle of Land and Sea sprouted from a prolific weekend of songwriting and recording while holed up with said imagination and a four track at home. Sarah began recording as The Battle of Land and Sea in early 2006, with her delicate, sparse songwriting at the center and seeking like minded musical characters to help narrate the journey. Recording with long time musical partner Joshua Canny on electric guitar, a beautifully patient album that begs for repeated late night listens was created. Six of the eight tracks on this debut full-length stem from a hand sewn EP the band self-released in early 2007 and revisited for this release. Jacob Golden produced the album at his home studio in the summer of 2006 and spring of 2007, seasoning the home spun vibe and intimate songs perfectly. Mixing took place in both London and Silverlake, lending some cross Atlantic perspective, which makes sense considering the seafaring thread.
While Sarah remains a bit mysterious about her upbringing and what forged the musical veil, what we do get to know are the songs. The tracks unfurl like pages torn out of a memoir, at times autobiographical, at times phantasmagoric. Leaving the listener to discern what is fact and what is fiction, what it most clear is that all the songs come from common truths about love, loss and triumph.
The Battle of Land and Sea have spent the better half of 2007 planting roots. They’ve found a home with indie label Mis Ojos Discos, been a featured artist on MySpace and their new hometown of Portland has embraced them with open arms. With the worldwide release in January 2008, The Battle of Land and Sea will be touring North America and the UK in clubs and living rooms spreading the quiet word.
(ojo002) A Sunny Day in Glasgow Tout New Age (Tour CD & digital)
1. They Made My Baby Care About Things that Didn’t Matter
2. Laughter (Victims)
3. Summerlong Silences
4. The Ossifrage (Tout New Age)
5. Take Care of Yourself (Our Next Breath Will Be Our Last)
7. Shame, Who Wouldn’t Think It’s Evil? (Let’s Get Beat-Up)
8. Hugs & Kisses (Theme from A Sunny Day in Glasgow)
A Sunny Day in Glasgow recorded about 30 songs for their critically acclaimed debut LP Scribble Mural Comic Journal but only 13 made it onto that record. Ben moved from Philadelphia to Montreal days after completing the record and it wasn’t until his recent return to Philly that he had the opportunity to revisit those tracks left on the cutting room floor. Reunited with sisters Lauren and Robin, Ben was able to put the finishing touches on a number of promising songs and the result has been assembled in the form of TOUT NEW AGE, in time for ASDIG’s first full-on US tour this summer. The only track previously available is a 2 minute slice of heaven titled “Victims (Laughter)” culled from their now out of print EP The Sunniest Day Ever.
TNA is a homespun EP and will only be available for purchase in its physical form at shows and on July 10th it can be purchased digitally at iTunes, eMusic, Insound, Other Music and many others. At 8 tracks and just over 30 minutes, the EP is longer than some LPs and is admittedly somewhat of a hodgepodge collection. Opening with the meandering “They Made My Baby Care…” this collection continues in the tradition of SMCJ but quickly changes course. While swirling guitars and masked vocals remain prevalent, “Summerlong Silences” skips atop a fractured breakbeat. Canons fire off the urgent pleas of “The Ossifrage” while no conventional tuning or song structure give way to “Shame…” and “Take Care…” By the EP’s end, it is obvious that vocals are more on display than ever before. “Hugs & Kisses” (with the Daniels’ mom guesting on piano!) is a straight up pop gem with nods to Broadcast but with the twists and turns you’ve come to expect from ASDIG.
We are all very fond of these songs and glad we are able to get them out there. These songs mark the end of time and space for SMCJ era ASDIG and clear the way for what comes next. History is lewd, yet purposive. Tout new age.
(ojo001) A Sunny Day in Glasgow Scribble Mural Comic Journal (CD & 2xLP & digital)
1. Wake Up Pretty
2. No. 6 Von Karman Street
3.A Mundane Phonecall to Jack Parsons
4. Our Change into Rain is No Change at All (Talkin’ ’bout Us)
5. Ghost in the Graveyard
6. 5:15 Train
7. Lists, Plans
9.The Horn Song
10. Panic Attacks are what Make Me “Me”
11. Watery (Drowning is just Another Word for Being Burried Alive Under Water)
12.Things Only I Can See
13.The Best Summer Ever
It all began as the bedroom projects of Ben Daniels and Ever Nalens. Ben moved to London, England for a girl and wound up just walking around a lot. Moving to Glasgow, Scotland to go to art school, Ever didn’t realize there was a place on earth, outside of the poles, where the sun might not be visible for weeks at a time. He was completely unprepared for the effects of this upon his state of mind. Suffice it to say, sunny days in Glasgow had a profound impact on him. Returning to Philadelphia deeply affected by their respective experiences, the two began collaborating on little recordings made with radio shack microphones in Ben’s apartment.
After a while Ever gave up to focus on pictures, but Ben continued on, bringing in his sister, Robin, on vocals. After another short while, sister Lauren was brought in to fill out the sound and the group began to record in earnest on Ben’s new laptop with a nice new condenser mic. In March of 2006 they self-released an EP titled, “The Sunniest Day Ever”, which was met with a great deal more radio-play and press than any of them had ever expected. The ensuing attention motivated the three to record like crazy and the end result was edited and assembled to create the band’s debut LP, “Scribble Mural Comic Journal”.
Using mandolins, banjos, noise, samplers, lots of cuttin’ n pastin’, and all of the normal band instruments, Philadelphia’s A Sunny Day in Glasgow adds lush female vocals and dance-y rhythms to make dreamy pop music. Distorted guitars alongside Robin and Lauren’s vocals glisten for thirteen storied tracks on “Scribble Mural Comic Journal.” The album succeeds in marrying Cocteau Twins’ other-wordliness, JAMC white noise, the best aspects of early Aphex Twin, and the jangle of “Strawberry Wine” era MBV to create pop music that somehow makes sense despite making no sense.