Exclusive Review: Alanis Morissette's Bold New 'Flavors'
A few weeks ago I got a call from one of my producers Guy Sigsworth saying that he’d nearly finished the project he, and his colleague Andy Page, have been working on for the majority of 2007 - the brand new Alanis Morissette album ‘Flavors of Entanglement’. Guy asked if I would pop over to his studio to have an album playback and share my thoughts. I was really excited, partly because I didn’t really know what to expect.
When ‘Jagged Little Pill’ came out in 1995 I was 14, and it swiftly became one of the most important albums for me alongside Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Tori Amos’ ‘Little Earthquakes’. I loved their honesty, their melodies and their strength. Skip forward to Autumn 2006 and I was working with Guy on ‘Winter’s Coming’, the closing song for my debut Temposhark album. Alanis had just approached him to see if he’d be interested in collaborating.
One year on, I arrive at Guy’s studio in West London. He reminds me that by now they’ve produced and co-written well over twenty songs! In this one afternoon I hear 22 songs in total, and as each song went by, it was like falling in love with Alanis all over again.
Four highlights for me were ‘Citizen Of The Planet’ which starts off with intriguing lyrics that twist and turn around a captivating melody before hurtling into one of the best choruses of her career - it’s just MASSIVE and her voice cuts right through you... Another gem called ‘Madness’ is spell binding in its beauty, and actually a really long song at over six minutes if I remember correctly, but unusually it didn’t feel long at all! I could’ve listened to that one over and over again...
‘Straitjacket’ is another powerful track that has stuck in my head, with genius lyrics and great melodic hooks... whilst my favourite of all the songs is called ‘Torch’. It’s just the most touching, almost devastating, dedication to the end of a relationship and the things you miss most about your day-to-day life with a partner.
And it was on hearing ‘Torch’, that I remembered why Alanis is such an important voice. She is so good at channelling her subconscious, those true thoughts most people hide. She can take those deeply private emotions and translate them in a simple, easy-to-relate-to way; putting into words what so many of us feel. This new collection of songs takes you on a serious emotional journey, across many highs and lows, and is possibly her best song writing since ‘Jagged Little Pill’ and 'Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie'. It’s just so easy to connect with – the end of a relationship, the value of childhood friends, complicated family ties and all kinds of emotional ‘entanglements’.
Robert's review of Alanis continues after the jump!
Having heard these new songs, the first thing that struck me was Alanis’ voice. It seriously took my breath away. She sounds invigorated and consistently on top form. The diversity of her voice really comes across in what must be some of her best vocal performances recorded. In some songs it just sounds like she’s flying, the vocals are spot on! And the song writing really delivers – the lyrics are fresh and the melodies take a whole new direction.
As you'd expect from Mr Sigsworth, the production and arrangements are so unique, no-one else could make music sound this beautifully compelling. The wall-of-guitars in one track is like nothng I've ever heard. I bet that someone like Metallica or Marilyn Manson will be calling Guy up next to get that exact sound! There’s an epic quality to many of the tracks, making them perfect for film soundtracks - one even sounded a bit like a James Bond '007' theme tune! Any of the 20+ songs that don't end up on the final album tracklisting must find a good home on soundtracks, they're all worthy of maximum exposure.
‘Flavors of Entanglement’ is without a doubt a career highlight. It was almost like a new discovery for me, or a re-discovery, of a voice that had been such a big influence on the teenage me. In the same way that Madonna’s ‘Ray Of Light’ with William Orbit delivered us a new perspective of Madonna, Guy’s and Alanis’ meeting of minds has produced a fresh, classy, gutsy and uplifting masterpiece that will stand the test of time.
‘Flavors Of Entanglement’ will be released in Spring 2008 on Warner. Alanis Morissette will be performing new songs from the album on her USA live tour from January 25th until March 18th 2008 with Match Box 20, for full dates and ticket info, visit www.alanis.com or her MySpace (which is where the photo for this review came from).
Learn more about the music of Guy Sigsworth at his MySpace or entry at Wikipedia. Have a listen to Guy's previous band project Frou Frou. Plus, read a behind the scenes interview with Guy and Andy about 'Flavors' at Arbiter.co.uk
Erasure New Album Details
The guys of Erasure keep cranking out new albums. There's nothing that seems to stop them! Right on the heels of their acoustic "Union Street" CD and Andy Bell's solo album, the British duo is gearing up to release their brand-new studio album "Light At The End Of The World" on March 22 on Mute. First single taken from the album "I Could Fall In Love With You" will be released in conjuntion with the record.
A press release describes the new CD as "a potent return to classic, totally electronic Erasure form as last heard on 2005’s "Nightbird."
"Light At The End Of The World" was written and recorded at a private home in the U.S. in Maine which Clarke and Bell, alongside producer Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Nick Cave), converted into a recording studio. It was here over a month's time during the fall of 2006, they wrote and recorded ten new songs.
(Oh, and that's a vintage Erasure photo of course.)
Tracey Thorn to Release Album in March
It is offical. Tracey Thorn's new solo album will be released on March 20 in the U.S. on Astralwerk. The label sent a formal statement out today with an introduction to the singer and some background info about the new album. The disc will be titled "Out Of The Woods." As posted earlier, you can listen to the fantastic new track "It's All True" on her MySpace page.
Full statement after the jump.
"If there is a timeless cross-generational voice in modern English pop, folk and electronica, it is that of Tracey Thorn. From her cult 1982 raw mini-album classic 'A Distant Shore,' through best-selling eighties alt-pop with Everything But The Girl, to her re-emergence in the nineties with EBTG’s world-trouncing crossover-electronica ('Missing,' 'Walking Wounded') and seminal guest appearances with Massive Attack ('Protection') and Deep Dish ('The Future Of The Future'), she has articulated so many soundtracks to our modern lives with her simple, direct, tender-tough deliveries and lyrics.
In 2000, after twenty years of recording and touring, and shortly after the birth of the first of the three children she now has with professional and private life partner Ben Watt, she walked away to raise her family. She didn’t sing a note for five years. But by 2005 she found herself writing again, and a chance guest appearance on uber-hip German electro duo, Tiefschwarz’s album Eat Books whetted an appetite to write more and return to the studio. With Ben tied up with his own new record label and DJ career and their mutual agreement that EBTG was on long-term hiatus, she chose to go it alone.
Eschewing hi-tech equipment, she bought an old-fashioned 4-track cassette recorder, waited for the house to empty during the day and recorded a clutch of raw demos and ideas at home with her guitar and quirky instruments purchased off e-Bay. In contrast to the primitivism of the demos, she then deliberately handpicked some of the most future-facing and imaginative producers currently working in the world of electronica to help her fully realize the project, including Ewan Pearson, Charles Webster,Tom Gandey, Martin Wheeler, and Alex Santos. The result is 'Out Of Woods.' Musically it is a snapshot of so much music she has ever been into and about, capturing moments of late seventies disco, pastoral folk-psychedelica, dance floor pop bliss and stark balladry. It may have been twenty-four years, but a modern follow-up to 'A Distant Shore is finally here.'"
New Young Pony Club Release Digital EP
New Young Pony Club is finally making their formal debut in the United States on Modular Records early in 2007. On January 23, the label will be putting out an EP with original songs and remixes of the group's punky-funky first single "Ice Cream." However, a digital version of the EP is already available on iTunes for your immediate listening pleasure.
You might recognize the song from the Intel "Multiply" commercial that is currently airing in the United States and Europe.
New York Pony Club are the brainchild of founding members Andy and Tahita, who put out “Ice Cream” on U.K. indie label Tirk. When all 1000 copies sold out within 3 days, the duo decided to think bigger and form a proper band. London based, by way of Cambridge, the female-dominated rabble rousing band now consists of Tahita (vocals) Andy (guitar) Lou (keyboards), Sarah (drums) and the Ukrainian Igor (bass).
The video for "Ice Cream" has been out for a while but if you haven seen this candy-flavored delight make sure to watch it and get your sugar fix for the day.
The tracklisting of the New York Pony Club EP includes "Ice Cream," "Get Dancey," "Descend," "Ice Cream (Comets remix)," "Ice Cream (Van She remix)" and "Ice Cream (DJ Medhi remix)." My favorite is the electro-rock version of Van She. The group will also be in the U.S. next week to play L.A. (6/12), San Francisco (7/12), NYC/Manhattan (8/12), NYC/Brooklyn (9/12).
The Killers to Release Christmas Song
NME reports that The Killers went back into the studio earlier this month to record a Christmas song together with producer Alan Moulder. The Las Vegas foursome recorded the tune "A Great Big Sleigh" that will released on iTunes on December 5.
Brandon Flowers explained to NME that he was inspired by many Christmas songs in the past. "There are some great Christmas tunes that have been recorded over the years from the likes of George Michael and John Lennon," he explained. "Sometime you forget. You get so caught up in business and being an adult that you forget to have fun and enjoy things and be nice to people." (Flowers photo via Caroline.)