Prohibited Records Archive

Wild, Free, Noble, Heavy… 2009’s Best Half… So Far

As many labels are preparing their Fall line-up, let’s celebrate the launch of GoodMorninCaptn.com with a little look at the top 20 records 2009 has offered us so far. While a few established bands have released so-so albums, many promising young women have surprised us (Blue Roses’ Laura, Hildur, Anni, Soap&Skin’s Anja…), prominent indie figures have confirmed they were not only shooting stars (Grizzly Bear, Patrick Watson, Andrew Bird), hyperactive craftsmen have perfected their skills (James Blackshaw, Peter Broderick), and a shy songwriter has unexpectedly climbed straight to the top of this past semester’s podium.

Tortoise Beacons Of AncestorshipBlue Roses Blue RosesSonic Youth The Eternal
20) TORTOISE “Beacons of Ancestorship” (Thrill Jockey)
While trying to move forward with their first proper album in 5 years,  Chicago undergound heroes succeed in synthetising their 3 previous LP’s, dressing them up with drunken samba and retro-futuristic pop.
Listen to Tortoise – Prepare Your Coffin (MP3).

19) BLUE ROSES “Blue Roses” (XL Recordings)
Sweet, romantic debut album of the sweet, romantic Laura Groves from Yorkshire, England.

18) SONIC YOUTH “The Eternal” (Matador)
Everybody’s favorite art rockers are back to an independent label and try hard to prove they are as hip and young as in 1990. It does work… except they should have nothing to prove.

PJ Harvey & John Parish A Woman A Man Walked ByNLF3 Ride On A Brand New TimePeter Broderick - Music For Falling From Trees

17) PJ HARVEY & JOHN PARISH “A Woman A Man Walked By” (Island Records)
PJ woof-woofs and John clang-clangs.

16) NLF3 “Ride On A Brand New Time” (Prohibited Records)
Paris trio goes on experimenting on their 4th album, looping sounds in an electropical psychedelia.

15) PETER BRODERICK “Music for Falling From Trees” (Western Vinyl / Erased Tapes)
In the continuity of Float, only more minimalistic, Peter scored a contemporary dance to those 7 nice pieces for violin and piano.
Listen to Peter Broderick – The Path To Recovery (MP3).

Balmorhea - All Is Wild All Is SilentJames Blackshaw - Glass Bead GameLoney Dear - Dear John
14) BALMORHEA “All Is Wild, All Is Silent” (Western Vinyl)
Part post-rock, part post-classical, Balmorhea’s 3rd LP is an ode to early American settlers with epic strings and wordless choirs.
Listen to extracts from Balmorhea – Harm and Boon and Balmorhea – Rememberance.

13) JAMES BLACKSHAW “The Glass Bead Game” (Young God)
12-string British guitar-virtuoso James opens his timeless pieces to a fuller sound.
Listen to James Blackshaw – Cross (MP3).

12) LONEY DEAR “Dear John” (Polyvinyl / Parlophone)
Some will deplore the cheap cosmetic arrangements with which Emil Svanängen has wrapped its otherwise enthralling melodies on his 5th LP.

Akron Family - Set em Wild Set em FreeFever Ray Cover ArtAnni Rossi - Rockwell
11) AKRON/FAMILY “Set Em Wild, Set Em Free” (Dead Ocean / Crammed Discs)
As an answer to Tortoise’s Standards, this new LP freely ventures from psychedelic rock to experimental folk, with Afro rythms and vocals to sing along to around the fireplace.

10) FEVER RAY “Fever Ray” (Rabid Records)
Karin Dreijer Andersson from Swedish electro duo The Knife wanders through dark swamps on her first solo album.

9) ANNI ROSSI “Rockwell” (4AD)
In her collection of songs for viola and voice, backed with drums and cello, 23-yr old Anna, also a violonist with Carla Bozulich, proves she does not lack the creativity of Joanna, Tori, or Regina. Too bad this Steve-Albini-recorded Rockwell is hiding in such a doubtful packaging.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post PavilionHildur Gudnadottir - Without SinkingAndrew Bird - Noble Beast
8) ANIMAL COLLECTIVE “Merriweather Post Pavilion” (Domino)
A jolly merry mess.

7) HILDUR GUDNADÓTTIR “Without Sinking” (Touch)
After many collaboration with Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Pan Sonic, or Múm, Icelandic cellist Hildur releases her 2nd solo album, a wonderfully melancholic evocation of a peaceful shore.

6) ANDREW BIRD “Noble Beast” (Fat Possum / Bella Union)
Not as innovative as previous LP, Noble Beast progressively grows as a nice addition to Mr. Bird’s discography, with evident melodies.

Soap and Skin - Lovetune For VacuumElegi Varde5) SOAP&SKIN “Lovetune For Vacuum” (PIAS)
The cloudy moods of a dark, gifted child from Austria.

4) ELEGI “Varde” (Miasmah Recordings)
Norwegian composer Tommy Jansen imagined a striking soundtrack to Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic 1912 Antarctic expedition.

Patrick Watson - Wooden ArmsGrizzly Bear - VeckatimestDM Stith - Heavy Ghost
3) PATRICK WATSON “Wooden Arms” (Secret City)
A logical follow-up to Close To Paradise, maybe even closer, that reveals its full qualities on stage, where Patrick and his Wooden Arms band excel.

2) GRIZZLY BEAR “Veckatimest” (Warp)
Seemingly more self-confident, the Brooklyn quartet has achieved a big step forward with a luminous 3rd album, which clearly deserves all the critical praise you have read all over.
Listen to Grizzly Bear – Cheerleader (MP3).

1) DM STITH “Heavy Ghost” (Asthmatic Kitty)
New to the singer/songwriter scene, David already distinguishes himself through a deeply personal, touching touch, and luxurious instrumentation. A hauntingly beautiful debut.
Listen to DM Stith – Pity Dance (MP3).

Where Thomas Mery Can Say Things At Night

AS HE IS PREPARING THE RELEASE OF HIS DEBUT SOLO ALBUM “A SHIP, LIKE A GHOST, LIKE A CELL”, PARIS-BASED SINGER-SONGWRITER FORAYS INTO FOLK MUSIC WITH A TENSION THAT WOULD MAKE NICK DRAKE SOUND LIKE A YOGI MASTER, AND A PROMISING ELECTRONIC TWIST. AT PAST MIDNIGHT, HE TELLS US MORE ABOUT IT.

Thomas Mery

Captn: Let’s start with the basics: name, age, occupation?

Thomas: Thomas Mery; already old; it depends.

Captn: Can you explain the genesis of your current project?

Thomas: After the end of Purr, I tried many things with my computer and my guitar. Very experimental, a bit hermetic. It wasn’t always relevant, and sometimes it was. I think I wanted to find out my own way of mixing electronics and guitar.
The best way to get a clearer view of the genesis is to read what’s on my site www.thomas-mery.net. I wrote a summary of what happened until the end of 2003. What comes next remains to be written.

Captn: Why a solo project, after your band experiences with Purr and Playdoh?

Thomas: Probably because I have an oversized ego, and I always think I can do everything by myself. Of course I come to realize that it’s not true, but then it’s too late, I’m already on my own, so I keep going…
Or else, because no one understands me anyway, and I absolutely wanted to express what I had deep inside, and explore every facet of my complex and tortured personality.
Or else because I was fed up with bands and compromises, and I’m grumpy, and it’s easier to rehearse on my own, and I get more money when I’m paid for a show.
Or for all those reasons at once, and for other ones I am not thinking of tonight.

Captn: From listening to your performance at the Batofar with Rivulets and Elephant Micah, then to your acoustic demo, we could notice that you are focusing more and more on songwriting, with a sparer, folkier sound. Is it a deliberate choice to restrict yourself to your voice and acoustic guitar? Is it a transition, or a new approach to your music? What about your experiences with electronics?

Thomas: People at Dora Dorovitch encouraged me to come back to songwriting, and I am thankful for that. I learned to play the guitar more decently, and I think it’s worth it. It’s not over yet, I still need to go ahead, and electronics are coming back little by little. It was a necessary step. Now I need to keep practicing the guitar, start experimenting again, play the piano, work on my breath in order to sing better, write songs that make you cry (or almost). Little by little, I think that I’m getting closer to where I wanna go to, but it takes time; more than I expected.

Captn: Can you tell us more about your songwriting process? Where? When? In which state of mind?

Thomas: Errr…
At my place in front of my computer, railing at the poor download speed of an American TV series episode (preferably HBO’s); at my grand-mother’s, in the small house at the back –the children’s one- thinking that what is past is past; on a bed in Rio, wondering how I got there; in my head around Saint-Germain-en-Laye at 5:30 am, completely enlightened by an idea that would turn out not to be that good; in my bed watching an episode of a US series (preferably HBO’s), thinking it might be time to sleep now.

Captn: 2 words on your lyrics: what do they relate to? Why don’t you try singing in French again like on Open Transport?

Thomas: Oh, I think French will come back.
As for what the songs are about… About how I see things through a plastic film; about how I’ll lose a lot of blood tonight; about how much we dream and hope and imagine; about how much I am scared; about the staircase that lights up from time to time as I look through the window; about how deep things are hidden; about places where I can say things at night when I don’t see what’s around, about steep slopes and running water, and emptiness, and nodes that allow me to go through vast expanses; about such things.

Captn: A few words on your label, Dora Dorovitch?

Thomas: I met Francis Esteves in Sevilla 4 years ago, and then Cédric and Guilhem, people with a passion for music (and more…), who have supported and encouraged me.

Captn: What are your short/mid/long-term projects?

Thomas: I am mixing my album next week, and I’m looking for gigs. I will keep writing songs and less structured tracks as well, some in French, some in English. I am also going to work on a video project that is important to me, and which involves video and computer. I will continue what we have initiated with Marie Daubert, and Benoît Toulemonde, i.e. a collective/video label project called “Shif-t”, to produce DVDs of each of us. Marie is releasing a video entitled “Flicker” to which I wrote the soundtrack, Benoît a video entitled “Thai Polaroid”, and I, a piece called “Smoke”, which I made long ago, but that we are now releasing as an object per se, with a sleeve, etc. This is still an embryonic stage, but we’ve got time.

Captn: To conclude on something other than yourself, can you please tell us what is moving you now, in music, onscreen, in art, in the world, in life?

Thomas: The last episode of Six Feet Under, but the very end… hum… well, I cried a lot…
Like many, I was really moved by Joanna Newsom’s debut album.
I’m not listening to Elis Regina so much now, but “Elis & Tom” was my last Spring’s soundtrack.
What is moving me right now is the end of the Summer, I saw yesterday the last sunset, and soon leaves will cover the ground (how romantic!).
And please, listen to Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” (Hello Earth).

photo by Thomas Mery

photo by Thomas Mery

Discography

Thomas Mery

Purr

Collaborations

Playdoh

  • « Playdoh », Ultraviolet 1999.
  • « Fragments », Peter I’m Flying 2003.

Loisirs

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