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Hollie Cook
Vessel of Love

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We’ve zeroed in on Hollie Cook’s third album, “Vessel of Love” as this week’s pick. Whether you want to categorize Cook’s work as roots, rock, reggae, or “tropical pop”, it really doesn’t matter. Her enticing vocals are very smooth and creamy making this release every bit worth adding to your collection. You can have a look and listen to “Survive” posted below, but there are other outstanding tracks. In particular, check out “Stay Alive” and “Lunar Addiction”. Producer Youth (Martin Glover) worked on the album bringing his exceptional competence with dub and electronic music. Go for it!

Rough Trade

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If you’re out for smack-you-in-the-face rock, Starcrawler’s self-titled release is just what you need. Arrow de Wilde is frontwoman, and while she’s been recognized for her raucous stage performances, the album gives her vocals a chance to break through on their own, which they do beyond doubt. Her power delivery brings to mind the better days of Courtney Love and she has plenty of power so as to not lose coherence surrounded by the muscle provided by band members; Henri Cash (guitar); Austin Smith (drums); and Tim Franco (bass). Yes, there’s plenty high-powered, raw energy rock with shades of soft metal and post-punk to make you jump up-and-down. The opening track, “Train” will bring you on board with tough and loud, but go on to “I Love LA” and “Full of Pride”, which are softer without loss of delivery and give the band what you might find to be a core identity. The album’s closing track “What I Want” is rock-rock featuring Arrow’s reverbed vocals accentuated by power chords and Smith’s drumming. Finally, multi-talented Ryan Adams deserves credit for having produced the album. If you’re thinking about the first download of the year, go for “Starcrawler”.

Tapete Records

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We’re back with our “Pick of the Week”. We haven’t been slacking off over the holidays, we just didn’t see (or hear) new releases that made for a good HorizonVU fit. Jaguwar, the Dresden trio of Lemmy Fischer (vocals/guitar), Oyèmi Noize (vocals/bass) and Christoph Krenkel (drums) have released their LP “Ringthing” (as in the Electro-Harmonix single sideband modulator) and the album’s content certainly stays in line with its title. The band offers up a cornucopia of special effects ranging from noise and sweeps through to inventive applications of dynamics, which are truly notable. There are also some great vocals from Fischer and Noize on “Night Out” and “Whales”, for example. It is the case that while the all the effects tracks swirl and twirl through the songs they don’t leave much room for the vocals to live often getting in the way. Nevertheless, the LP is solid and offers up some well written and well-executed tracks. It’s likely that you’ll enjoy the melodies, and frankly, the album might serve as a reference work for alternative/shoegaze.

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

3 Steps to Prevent Vocal Damage
by Sally

Singers who are not familiar with vocal training or have had bad experiences with a voice teacher who does not understand the natural nature of the voice, have good reason to shy away from singing lessons. I’ve heard horror stories from singers who after these bad experiences find their way to my studio.

So you would rather do permanent damage to your delicate vocal cords than to sound “trained”? Not the wisest choice and so not necessary! Video training.

3 Steps to Prevent Vocal Damage straight from the Sing Like You Speak™ workbook:

Inhale to open the body – your instrument. Use your inhale not go haul breath into the lungs, but to open the airways that breath and sound flow along as you sing. Open in this sequence…

1. Widen the nasal passages
2. Unhinge the jaw
3. Open the throat
4. Feel the opening all the way to your bottom

Note: Focus on opening one step at a time. Eventually the whole instrument will open with one thought.

2. Exhale to release breath and sound. Release mean to let go, not to push or strain or struggle. Release the breath and sound along the open path created by your opening inhale.

1. Resist the urge to push and allow the muscles to strengthen that will make your voice powerful.
2. Consonants connect your to the deep abdominal and back muscles that propel the voice through your body effortlessly. Use them!
3. It can feel like you are releasing so much air that you’re going to die. Not to worry. No one has ever died from singing however the feeling can be very strong. Just keep releasing and you will eventually crave the luxurious release of breath.

Note: Voice training takes time and laser focus on the task. You are changing habits developed over your lifetime. You are challenging the beliefs that you have held in mind about singing. Hint: those beliefs are all lies!

3. Communicate! It’s all about communicating through the music, lyrics and rhythm. Audiences respond to and bond with a performer’s clearly spoke words.

1. Begin by knowing what you want to say with the song.
2. Figure out who you are saying it to and picture that person right there in front of you.
3. Allow the song to speak through you.

Note: When you sing like you speak communication happens naturally. When your focus is on telling the story of the song, it takes your mind away from your “that’s not enough” thoughts and releases breath and sound.

Communication is compelling, captivating and charismatic. It does not require that you hurt yourself.

Incorporate the above tips to begin your journey to vocal health.

What would you like to learn about singing? Ask me a question in the comments section below and I will answer with another blog post – especially you DIY musicians. Get answers before you get vocal damage!

For many more tips and much more practical vocal training, join the Sing Like You Speak™ Academy!

Dirty Hit

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New York guitarists-singers Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz have released their 10-track album, which opens with one rockin’ track “Rodeo” (released last year as a single) and closes with the exceptionally well-crafted “Salvation”. Great male/female vocals combine with solid instrumental performances to deliver often brilliant compositions/lyrics. Though the recording was actually done in London with London with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, the duo (or foursome seen live) really is New Yorker and there are most certainly some “Lou Reed” flashbacks to be heard. “Dress/Undress” is our selected favorite track for all of the above reasons with emphasis on the finely executed vocals. Besides, it does bring to mind day-in/out life in The Big Apple”.

The Staves / yMusic
The Way Is Read

Visit The Staves at Facebook and iTunes

Visit yMusic at Facebook and iTunes

The Staves are an English folk rock trio of sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor from Watford, Hertfordshire, England. yMusic is a sextet chamber ensemble from New York City. Consisting of a trumpet, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, and cello, the group was formed in Brooklyn in 2008. The collaborative release “The Way Is Read” might take some extra effort to appreciate, but the album reveals both the musical differences between the two groups as well as the anticipation the music creates by bringing together consonance and dissonance. The perpendicularity of the groups is evident in the first two tracks “Hopeless” (an a cappella track from the sisters) and “Take Me Home” (art music progressivity from yMusic). The collaboration comes together and bares fruit over the remaining ten tracks. The final and title track “The Way Is Read” is unequivocally the highlight; a beautiful recording in which all talent shines through. If you’re really wanting to appreciate the collaboration, one approach is to listen to the two groups on their own. For example, have a listen to The Staves’ “If I Was” and yMusic’s “Beautiful Mechanical” then have a listen to “The Way I Read”. Realizing this might be more effort than you care to invest, go with the collaborative release, but again, be patient and have more than one good listen.

Despite the fact that November is the month where coldness worsens and Christmas fast approaches, we at ECU have been so focused on our quest of discovering and sharing with you the very best of indie film, that we haven’t even picked out a festive jumper to wear, let alone started our letters to Papa Noel. And we do it all (well, partially) for you, our dear followers!

We once again searched the souls of film’s finest with our regular Spotlight feature, this month including profiles on Richard Kelly, Jia Zhangke, Tom Hardy, and Paul Dano, as well as offering some in-depth analysis on the films The Killing of a Secret Deer, Sing Street, and Loving Vincent, all to be found on our cracking blog.

Outside of our Paris office, however, we found ourselves on many adventures, not least having the absolute pleasure of once again attending the Aesthetica Film Festival from the 8th-12th November. We saw a plethora of incredible films, all located in different buildings in the beautiful city of York, England. We had an amazing time there and hope we get the honour of being invited back next year!

From the quaint British North, we found ourselves leapfrogging to the other side of the metaphorical pond as ECU On-The-Road ventured to Celaya, Mexico, to screen some of the best films of last year’s films at the International Film Festival Celayas (FICC) from the 24th-26th of this month. It was truly awe-inspiring to be part of such a haven of filmmakers and enthusiasts and to witness the films we cherish so much being played to, and adored by, a whole new audience. Hasta pronto, Mexico!

One thing, however, that is definitely approaching quicker than our next trip to Mexico (sob sob) is the Early Bird Deadline for film submissions, coming up this month. Sunday 17th December is the final day you can submit for this deadline with 23:59 ETC being the exact minute it ends. Make sure you don’t miss it!

That’s all the updates we have for you for now. If you don’t think you can wait another whole month to hear about our crazy shenanigans, don’t forget to check out our social media pages (click to see our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) for constant (and I mean constant) updates of what we are up to.

Sally Morgan wrote the book on contemporary vocal technique – literally. Sing Like You Speak™: Simply and Naturally. SLYS™ is specifically designed to restore the effortless vocal production that is natural to the human instrument making your singing powerful, joyful and free. Sally has been successfully training singers for more than 30 years.

Voice Training without Sounding “Trained”
by Sally

SXSW® South by Southwest Conference® and Festivals has asked me to present a Sing Like You Speak™ workshop in March 2018! I will have 2 hours to share the brilliance of the Sing Like You Speak™ technique with 100’s (possibly 1000’s) of singers from all over the world.

This is an amazing honor and a dream come true for me. SXSW® is an iconic global music industry event that attracts more the 30,000 people. It embodies the DIY spirit, ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive.

When I first spoke with Bobby Nall of SXSW® last summer, I told him that I love working with DIY musicians. The challenge as a voice teacher is that this population of singers usually waits until they have some form of vocal damage before they seek my help. It is only then that they realize if they are going to have a career as a singer – any chance at all – then they have to have a healthy technique to heal and prevent further damage.

Bobby said with great enthusiasm that I should submit my proposal – that this workshop is perfect for SXSW® DIY musicians.

My mission, my intention for the 2 hours that I have to present to a very large audience of singers, is to give them a few of my most effective tools to keep their voices healthy and strong.

This is the first line of my proposal to SXSW®:

Sing your songs with the same originality and craft as you write without sounding trained.

There is a revolution happening with contemporary singers. It used to be that they thought voice training was 43618459_munnecessary. They would change their minds when they got vocal damage and came to me in a panic.

Now contemporary singers tell me that they do realize that voice training is not only good, it’s absolutely necessary to their vocal health and to their careers.

“But I don’t want to sound trained! I don’t want to sound like an opera singer. I want to sound natural – like me (only better).”

I completely understand, having studied with opera singers for many years, and not getting what I needed as a contemporary singer. That is why I developed Sing Like You Speak™. I needed the same type of training so I could sing freely and easily without sounding affected or “classical.”

Here’s a video from my YouTube channel with some great voice training that will not make you sound “trained.”

Still have questions? Check out my website and get 10 free voice lessons!

Click here for the best voice lessons on the web!

One Little Indian

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Björk along with co-producer Alejandro Ghersi have released the artist’s tenth album. In contrast to her previous album, “Vulnicura” there is considerable beauty and serenity mixed in with the anguish of life found in the complexity of the overall production; the orchestration of the vocals and instrumentation. There’s no holding back on the time based effects and layering, but the effects are handled masterfully. There is a storyline as the opening track, “Arisen My Senses” starts with the chirping of birds (electro-birds)and segues into a melodious “rising” and “The Gate” is an opening of the heart to love. The utopia projected in the first tracks gives way to reality evident in the ninth track “Sue Me” a musical expression of emotions associated with breaking with her ex. The final tracks “Paradisia” and “Saint” allow us to float toward the final song “Future Forever”; a description of Björk’s utopia. Interestingly, there are no chirping brids, flutes or harps at this point. The vocal and a synthesizer organ leaves us sensing Björk’resilience; she’s been knocked down, but she is now standing stronger than ever.

Deb Googe is best known for her work as bassist for the bands My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, and most recently, The Thurston Moore Group. She has played keyboards with the massed fuzz organ experimentalists band Pimmel and she has also played drums and she has done backing vocals for Rockhard. In
2014, she joined Thurston Moore for his solo project The Best Day, alongside Steve Shelley, and the UK musician James Sedwards.

HVUM: Thanks for taking time to interview with us. We know that you hail from Yeovil, Somerset, England and it seems that you launched your music career with the Bikini Mutants along with Christine Cole, Dave Goldsworthy and Martin Herring. You were very much part of the west country scene and appeared along with The Mob and The Review. You joined My Bloody Valentine in the mid-1980’s to mid-1990s and the from 2008. In between you played with Katharine Gifford in rock band Snowpony. You teamed up with Thurston Moore in 2014.

Assuming we have the story straight, rewind and tell us a bit about how you came to decide on a music career. What led you to want to play music professionally? Was it part of a very deliberate plan or did you evolve into music and rock?

DG: I’m not sure I’ve ever really evolved and I definitely never had a plan but yes you have got the story more or less straight. I would just add that I played with Primal Scream for the best part of 2012, cause I did and I wouldn’t want to upset them by making them think I’d forgotten them.

Like I said, there was never a plan, I was just into music. As a kid I used to listen to the radio endlessly, pop, glam, that sort of stuff. I never thought about playing music, no one really played music in my family. We did have a little Bontempi organ which was very cute but not particularly useful and my dad had a mandolin, which was beautiful but I don’t remember him playing it that much, mind you he didn’t really have the time, he was working pretty much every waking hour as there were six little Googes to feed.

My first musical involvement was around the age 14 when I was asked to form a little group as part of a project in my music class. There were four of us (Joanne, Karen, Alyce and me), none of us actually had an instrument but Karen had a brother who played guitar, so because of her proximity to an actual instrument she sort of became band leader, she then bestowed various roles on the rest of us. She named herself the guitarist, obviously, and I was told I was the bassist. I didn’t actually have a bass or much of an idea of what a bass player did but I knew that was Suzi Quatro was a bass player and a women and she looked cool, so I was very happy with my new position.

Unsurprisingly that band never did anything but it did evolve into a band that did actually play a couple ‘gigs’. We were bloody awful, we had no drummer, no musical skills, no idea what so ever. We played covers somehow managing to shoehorn the same three chords into anything from Leader of the Pack to Smoke on the Water. Looking back it must have been totally bizarre for anyone unfortunate enough to have actually seen us, we would definitely have given the Shagg’s a run for their money.

But then, fortunately for me punk happened and that just totally shifted the goalposts. Suddenly it wasn’t about musicianship so much as attitude and as a 15 year musical illiterate you can imagine that was very appealing. So I adopted anarchy, concentrated on one string instead of pretending to play four and that was it really. Things haven’t really evolved too much since then but for some reason I’m still getting away with it.

HVUM: Thanks for the correction on Primal Scream. Your career really took root during a period when there was a revolt against establishment or mainstream rock of the time leading to hard edged and stripped-down instrumentation, and in fact, that period gave rise to what we know today as a D.I.Y. Reflecting, where was your musical head in (say) 1980 and where are you today? We’re interested in knowing about your musical mindset.

DG: Yes you’re right, in the late 70’s/ early 80s I was very involved in the anarco punk scene. Starting when I was a teenager in Somerset, we would put on gigs and we had a fanzine and eventually a record label called All the Madmen. The hub of our little world was the garage/shed at my friend Gem’s parent’s house (she was the original guitarist with Bikini Mutants…you missed her!). It was totally DIY and actually a very creative and productive space and time. And like a lot of things that happen at that stage in your life, mid/late teens, it sort of informs and shapes you for the rest of your life. I’m still friends with a lot of people from that era and I still hold a lot of those beliefs.

Having been involved with major labels over the years I appreciate that not everybody associated that side of the business is evil, in the way that I thought they were when I was a kid, there’s some great people and of course there’s a lot of really amazing music released and developed on major labels but I still think there’s a lot to be said for the DIY/indepent scene, whatever you want to call it.

The internet has had such a phenomenal effect on the world and of course the music industry has been as effected as everything else by it, maybe more. These days we really are able to release music completely independently. The last MBV record was released not only without a major label but without any major distribution or major streaming services (iTunes/ Spotify ect) involved. I think it’s great that you can do that. I’m not saying it’s the only way or the best way but it a great option to have.

Really though, how the music is released or whether is does or doesn’t get released is just one part of the story. The main thing that came out of the punk era for me and the thing that is still very important is the attitude to the music itself. And I think that the bands I been involved with, regardless of their relationship to major labels have always been very uncompromising when it comes to the music and that to me is the most important thing.

HVUM: Two questions…. There is a very impressive line of female bassists and there are flashy bassists and solid traditional bassists like Carol Kaye (interviewed by HorizonVU in 2014). What draws you to the bass? What makes for a great bassist?

DG: As I said before I was kind of told to play bass by Karen but I am very happy that she did because I love the bass and I think it suits my personality. I’m not the most delicate person and I’m incredibly, almost comically clumsy, so I think the physicality of the bass suits me.

I don’t think there’s any one thing that makes one bass player better than the other, like all musicians it’s more important that you suit the band you are playing with. MBV would sound completely different if they had a really super busy bass player, and to be honest I don’t think they would be the MBV bass player very long.

Personally I prefer what I suppose would be considered unfussy, more riffy style bass playing or melodic stuff over really technically flashy playing. I love Carol Kaye who you just mentioned, I think she’s an absolute amazing she never overplays and what she does play always feels like a really integral part of the song. I guess I’m not particularly fond of really busy bass playing but I totally appreciate it is technically very good and I can see why it suits some kind of music but it’s just not really my thing, but that’s just my ignorance, it doesn’t mean that they’re not great players.

HVUM: Thinking about The Thurston Moore Group, you all have ties to what we (for better or worse) like to call “alternative” or “experimental”. Apart from individual lineages you, Steve, James and Thurston have taken parts in scrapping pigeonholed views of rock, experimenting with rhythm, dissonance, instrumentation, noise and electronics. What is first and foremost in the collaboration?

DG: First and foremost are the songs, and that is the same with all the bands I’ve played with.
Thurston is definitely more open to improvisation, especially live but the starting point is always the song and they are very much formed in Thurston’s head first, so not really a collaboration.

Thurston likes to work very fast so most of the recordings on the albums are only the third / fourth time we’ve played through the song as a band. Sometimes we have been introduced to the idea during a soundchecks on tour but often he introduces stuff in the studio just before we record it. And he’s fairly relaxed with his directions, he might just say something like hold back in that bit or push that a bit more, that kind of thing.

Live though is different, lots of the songs have room to expand when we play them live and those change every night but I never think before hand: ‘I’m going to play this or do that during that bit tonight,’ because there’s three other people up there and you have to listen to what they are doing too, so in that respect there’s never anything that’s more important, you just try and make it sound like you’re all on the same journey.

HVUM: Let’s have a look and listen to The Thurston Moore Group playing earlier this year in Helsinki.

HVUM: Looking over your musical track record, are there any very special moments that you consider to be a career highpoint, the kind of memory that can keep you going on in the toughest of times?

DG: No there’s no one particular highpoint. The whole thing kind of amazes me. I’m constantly surprised I’ve got away with it this long. I am very aware that there are a lot of musicians who are technically much better than I am who never make it past the bedroom. I have been very lucky, I’ve managed to survive doing something that I love and I’ve worked with some amazing and really lovely people so I think the whole thing’s been pretty special.

HVUM: It seems that we’ve come to a point in the recorded music business where heavy use of audio processing effects, multitracking, pitch correction and quantization have become commonplace. Where do you draw a line between experimentation or innovation and mechanically minded studio manipulation?

DG:I don’t think you should draw the line. There’s lots of very experimental music created by using those effects, there’s also a lot of very, to my mind, bland music but I think there’s room for everything, just cause I don’t personally like something I don’t think that make it any less valid. Besides l do love a lot of pop music, as much as I love experimental music, I always have.

I grew up listening to all that Chinn and Chapman stuff that came out in the early 70’s, they produced loads of great pop records: The Sweet, and Suzi Quotro of course. Mike Chapman went on to produced Parallel Lines by Blondie. I’m sure they used everything at their disposal to make great pop records and they were very successful at it. Technology has moved on a lot since then but I’m sure they would still use whatever they could if they thought it would make a better record today. I don’t see anything wrong in it at all.

I don’t think you should really judge pop against experimental music, they’re coming from different places and aiming for different end results. I actually don’t think one is more valid than the other. I guess the real difference is the machinery/business involved in selling to the public.

People can get very tied up on whether something is ‘genuine’ or ‘authentic’, the minute you record something it is processed and manipulated, I guess the thing is some artist have more say in how their music takes form but does that means the music is any more real? It’s still music, whether it’s just someone singing in the bedroom, or a totally manufactured multi million selling record. It still means something to someone, validating something by ‘nicheness’ is just as silly as validating something by the number of sales…. Ha ha, as you can see I’d never make a good business person.

HVUM: On a very personal level, what are the social issues that you care about the most? Are you a social advocate?

DG: I guess being a gay woman immediately brings up two issues that are very personal to me and I think gay rights and gender politics have arguably been the most important issues in the western world over the past decade.

But really I think they are part of a bigger issue, which is equality. I genuinely believe that most people are good and that if you treat people as equals, regardless of gender, sexual preference, the colour of their skin, their theological or spiritual beliefs or whatever. If you give people respect and kindness and understanding you will generally get that in return. And if you don’t and you are treated unfairly or contemptuously based on any of those things then you should shout out the perpetrator as the bigoted, half wit, shit-head, ignoramus, dotard (please feel free to add anything you like in here) that they are. That’s basically what I think.

HVUM: Great, we’re on the same page. Last, what’s ahead for Deb Googe? Any projects in the works or on the horizon?

DG: Yes, I’m currently in the middle of a European tour with Thurston, so my immediate plan is to finish that. Then I have a tour in the States with Thurston next February and there’s talk of a few other projects for next year. And there’s also very likely to be some MBV action next year, so all in all I think it should be a pretty interesting year.

Deb, thanks so much for your time and your very thoughtful answers to all of our questions. Your honesty and openness are appreciated. We hope to see you back in Paris with Thurston Moore, or maybe you’ll be with MBV! Either way, it will be awesome. In the meantime, enjoy the upcoming holiday season and take care. Sending you all our best wishes.

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