Anna of the North Share New Video For “Someone” – Watch

From Anna of the North’s forthcoming record Lovers, out Sep 8

Norwegian-Kiwi duo Anna of the North have shared a new video for “Someone”, the second single taken from their forthcoming debut album Lovers (released September 8th via Different Recordings). Directed by Anna Lotterud & Russell Crank, the Miami-based video focuses on the heartache, the guilt and the psychosomatic struggle of the morning after.

Anna explains “It’s a video made in Miami but it’s certainly not a stereotypical Miami video. The ‘party’ side to cities like Miami can feel vacuous, making them the loneliest places in the world. It’s about the internal battle of the day after; trying to accept that you’re human and how hard it is to forgive yourself for your own mistakes. It gets more desperate throughout as the realization sets in”. Watch the video below:

Anna of the North have also announced a new European tour. After playing Pukkelpop Festival, Maroochy Music & Visual Arts Festival and a series of shows in Australia, the Scandi-synthpoppers will head to London at the end of September before travelling across the continent in October and November. Tickets for their show at London’s Omeara and Bestival are on sale now.

Check out Anna of the North’s upcoming tour dates below:





10 Stay Out West, SW

18 Pukkelpop Festival, BE

23 Hudson Ballroom – Sydney, AU

24 Northcote Social Club – Melbourne, AU

26 Maroochy Music & Vis Arts Festival, AU



09 Bestival, UK

26 Omeara – London, UK



12 Obaren, Stockholm, SW

13 Vega Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, DK

14 Häkken, Hamburg, DE

16 Auster Club, Berlin, DE

18 Sugarfactory ADE Live, Amsterdam, NL

19 Yuca, Cologne, DE

20 Pop Up du Label, Paris, FR



09 Parkteateret – Oslo, NO

10 Det Akademiske Kvarter – Bergen, NO


Written by James Macdonald.

Bleachers Announce New Album Gone Now, Share Video For New Song “Don’t Take The Money”

Jack Antonoff’s forthcoming sophomore album is out June 2

Bleachers have announced a new album, called Gone Now. The follow-up to 2014’s Strange Desire is released June 2nd via RCA Records.

Jack Antonoff unveiled the Gone Now cover art via Instagram, alongside a caption detailing the full track list. The album includes promotional singles “Don’t Take The Money”, which was written with Lorde, and “Hate That You Know Me”, featuring guest vocals from Carly-Rae Jepsen.

After revealing Gone Now’s cover and tracklisting, Antonoff wrote about the album in a series of tweets:

Gone Now is work I’ve been making for the past 2 years in a small studio I built in my apartment. It was very important to me to be alone in my home space where I could not escape the weight of my life and what I needed to write about. Everything at home can be terrifying in a way. Everything was there looking at you in your best and worst moments. All the walls. The album sounds exactly what it was – someone alone in a room trying to make sense of loss and how to move on. There is also an amazing cast of friends and idols who pop in for moments or send me things”.

The singer also shared a new Lena Dunham-directed video for “Don’t Take the Money”, which features a cameo from Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), who presides over Antonoff’s candy-coated wedding ceremony. Watch the video below:

Last month, Jack Antonoff and Bleachers performed an original score of John Hughes’ classic 1985 film The Breakfast Club in Los Angeles. He is currently taking his childhood bedroom on tour.

Check out Bleachers’ upcoming fall tour dates below:




06-02 New York, NY – Governor’s Ball

06-11 Philadelphia, PA – Radio 104.5 Birthday Celebration at BB&T Pavilion

06-13 Richmond, VA – The National *

06-14 Charlotte, NC – The Underground *

06-16 Columbus, OH – Express Live! *&

06-18 Dover, DE – Firefly Music Festival

06-20 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair *

06-21 Rochester, NY – Anthology *

06-23 Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live! *

06-25 Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall

06-27 Indianapolis, IN – Deluxe @ Old National Center *

06-28 St. Louis, MO – Delmar Hall *

06-30 Kansas City, MO – Kansas City Live! *

07-01 Milwuakee, WI – Summerfest

07-02 Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze Outdoor Plaza

07-05 London, Englad – Bush Hall

08-11-13 San Francisco, CA – Outside Lands

09-12 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel ~

09-13 Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works ~

09-15 Atlanta, GA – Center Stage ~

09-16 St. Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live ~

09-17 Orlando, FL – The Beacham Theater ~

09-19 Austin, TX – Emo’s ~

09-20 Dallas, TX – House of Blues ~

09-22 Phoenix, AZ – ALT AZ Dia De Los ALT

09-23 Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas Village

09-26 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre

09-27 San Diego, CA – The Observatory North Park


* with MUNA

& with MisterWives

~ with Tove Styrke


Written and published by James Macdonald.

Haim Announce New Album Something To Tell You, Share Video For New Song “Right Now”

Paul Thomas Anderson directs Haim’s first video from their sophomore album

Haim have announced their long-awaited second album. Something To Tell You, the follow-up to 2013’s Days Are Gone, is released July 7th via Polydor Records. The band have confirmed that the album was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid and former Vampire Weekend member, Rostam Batamanglij.

Haim also shared a live studio recorded video of their new song “Right Now” – directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights, Magnolia). Watch the video below:

In an exclusive Beats 1 Radio interview with Zane Lowe, the Haim sisters spoke about their family’s history with Anderson; revealing the unlikely story of how their Mother came to be his school teacher:

“My mom was studying to be a teacher and to get your credential as a teacher you have to shadow another teacher and get your hours in. My mom gets a gig teaching credential gig at a school in the Valley. First twist: My mom is shadowing the teacher at the school. First week, the teacher has a heart attack in the in the parking lot of the school and my mom becomes the sole art teacher at this school. In one week. My mom was younger than me, like 22/23, and she now has 5 or 6 classes of kids that she now is the teacher for. She would always talk about this one kid named Paul. That she loved this kid Paul, he was very energetic, artistic, vivacious. We’d turn the TV on and Boogie Nights would come on or Magnolia and our mom was like, ‘oh that’s Paul’s movie.’ That being Paul Thomas Anderson. We were like, Mom are you talking about Paul Thomas Anderson? And she was like, ‘Yes that is Paul, I taught Paul’”. 

Last month, Haim teased their new music by plastering mysterious billboards around London, Berlin, Sydney, and Los Angeles and sharing several short trailers in which Danielle Haim plays drums.

Meanwhile, the sibling trio are scheduled to perform on “SNL” next week (hosted by Melissa McCarthy) and play Reading and Leeds Festival in August.

Written and published by James Macdonald.

Gorillaz Share Saturnz Barz (Spirit House), Ascension, Andromeda & We Got The Power – Track-By-Track Review

Gorillaz have debuted four new singles, titled ‘Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)’, ‘Ascension’, ‘Andromeda’ & ‘We Got The Power’, taken from their forthcoming studio album, Humans (out April 28th via Parlophone Records). The four new tracks feature guest appearances from Vince Staples, Popcaan, D.R.A.M. and Savages’ Jehnny Beth, and signal a step toward a more mainstream sound. Read my track-by-track review below.

Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)

Unlike ‘Hallelujah Money’, the avant-garde, socio-political slowburner featuring Mercury Prize Winner Benjamin Clementine, ‘Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)’ is a hallucinogenic reggaeton groove, replete with swinging trip-hop skitters and auto-tuned patois from Jamaican dancehall prodigy Popcaan — Gorillaz most experimental song since ‘Dirty Harry’.


If ‘Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)’ depicted a juiced up joyride of spacy atmospherics, singing pizzas and a stark-naked Murdoc Niccals, ‘Ascension’ is its jaded counterpart. Vince Staples supersonic acid-raps bounce like a spring-loaded trampoline; somersaulting between spasmodic synth tones and screaming police klaxons. He quips “The sky’s falling baby, drop that ass before it crash, the land of the free, where you can get a glock and gram for the cheap” – delivering a rap masterclass which is both politically aware and socially mindful.

We Got The Power

‘We Got The Power’, featuring Savages frontwoman Jehnny Beth and former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, is a scattergun-pop tour de force turn call to arms which promotes togetherness and political change. Punctuated by gospel-punk chorales, Beth’s megaphone-muffled motifs of “We got the power to be loving each other no matter what happens” are personal, yet empowering – strutting, striding and skipping in the face of adversity.


‘Andromeda’ is an endorphin-fueled disco number which channels the electronic stylings of Plastic Beach’s ‘Stylo’ with the 70s dance of Earth, Wind and Fire: a certified boogie bonanza. D.R.A.M’s barrel-chested baritone and syrupy shrills add a soulful finesse to Albarn’s vocals, as he harmonises “When the passing looks to die for, Take it in your heart now lover” – donning a cartoonish sheen to match Hewlett’s artwork.


Written and published by James Macdonald.

Prides share slick, shuffling synthbop “Away With The Night”

After releasing a successful string of exemplary pop gems last year, including ‘Rome’ and ‘Are You Ready?’, the Scottish synthpoppers have returned with shimmering new single ‘Away With The Night’ – taken from their forthcoming second album (expected to be released later this year via Twin Music Inc).

‘Away With The Night’ serves a fruitful slice of 80s pop nostalgia, skyrocketing with spiralling synth tones and stuttering vocal melodies reminiscent of electropop newcomer Elohim. While sonically upbeat and positively cinematic, the Glaswegians’ latest single is a tortured torch song directed at another performer, as Stewart explains: “Lyrically it’s a track I wrote as a response to a certain someone, who put a lot of expectation onto what/where we were, and ended up writing a song about me. This is my version of events.”

Listen to ‘Away With The Night’ here:

Prides have also announced a series of UK tour dates taking place in March and May. The duo will perform at The Flapper in Birmingham on 20th March before travelling to London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Prides upcoming tour dates are listed below:


20 Birmingham, The Flapper

21 London, Scala

22 Manchester, The Ruby Lounge


12 Edinburgh, Liquid Room

13 Aberdeen, The Lemon Tree

Childish Gambino Releases Neo-Funk Ballad, “Redbone” – Listen

A pop culture polymath, a Rolling Stone cover star, a rap game Ferris Bueller; Donald Glover has undergone several mind-altering metamorphoses throughout his career. Not only has the Los Angeleno rewritten the rule book on acid rap under pseudonym Childish Gambino: the brainchild behind 2013’s Grammy-nominated album Because of the Internet – comprising viral superhits “Sweatpants” and “3005”; but 2016 has witnessed the Community starlet gain a notorious reputation as one of Hollywood’s leading actors and screenwriters.

With Glover’s critically-acclaimed TV series Atlanta – delivering fun and epigrammatic humour in equal measures – being commissioned for a second season; and Disney Lucasfilm casting the actor as a young Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars franchise’s upcoming Han Solo Anthology (set to be released in 2018), the multi-talented polyglot has catapulted himself to the highest zenith of stardom.

Childish Gambino alludes to his recent success on his latest single “Redbone”; a musical aphrodisiac taken from the upcoming third studio album Awaken, My Love – released Dec 2 via Glassnote Records: The second taste of new music from the artist since 2014’s dual mixtape Kauai/STN MTN.

“Redbone” is a sultry slow jam which parses infatuation, decades of empyrean soul, and socio-political consciousness. Delivering a myriad of slap-bass punctuations and feminine vocal charms reminiscent of Prince’s Camille, “Redbone” enacts as a perfect serenade, potent enough to sedate any listener. Gambino squeals “Daylight, I wake up feeling like you won’t play right, I used to know, but now that shit don’t feel right” as he yearns for the affections of an unrequited love – showcasing his most amorous vocal performance to date. Although the composition appears minimal throughout, its sombre production continually morphs and meanders, before spiralling uncontrollably into a funk firebomb, exploding with palpitating synth chords, nocturnal piano keys, and atmospheric tones.

Listen to ‘Redbone’ below:


Written and published by James Macdonald.

John Mayer Shares Funkalicious New Single, “Love on the Weekend” – Listen

‘Love on the Weekend’ is the first song to be premiered from John Mayer’s forthcoming album, The Search for Everything.

John Mayer has debuted a new single titled ‘Love on the Weekend’, taken from his upcoming album The Search for Everything – which is expected to be released next year via Columbia Records.

Mayer initially teased the release of ‘Love on the Weekend’ on social media last week, posting the single’s tropic cover art alongside a fluorescent pink image dated ‘11/17’ to his Instagram account.

The singer-songwriter also uploaded a short video of an electric guitar solo from the record; more hair-raising than a static ball -signalling the artist’s long-awaited return to pop music.


A post shared by johnmayer (@johnmayer) on

Took a pass of a solo just for you… now on to the one for the record. ⚡️

A post shared by johnmayer (@johnmayer) on


Whilst Mayer has been hinting at a new album for several months, ‘Love on the Weekend’ is the first taste of new music from the Grammy-winning singer since 2013’s Don Was-produced Paradise Valley. However, unlike the folk-americana stylings of Mayer’s last album, ‘Love on the Weekend’ is a p-funk supernova which effortlessly blends the contemporary pop nuances of Continuum with the musicianship of the Grateful Dead – a sound which can only be described as explosively ear-popping as Wonka candy.

Listen to ‘Love on the Weekend’ below:

Watch John Mayer’s Facebook live premiere of ‘Love on the Weekend’ here:


During an Entertainment Tonight interview with the John Mayer Trio, at the 15th Annual Jazz Foundation of America Gala benefiting senior jazz and blues musicians last month, the Trio’s drummer, Steve Jordan, accidentally revealed the name of the upcoming album:

“The last time when we first came together for tsunami relief we were starting the Continuum album, and so now we’re doing this relief and it’s in the middle of, or finishing John’s newest album, The Search for Everything,” Jordan explained. “Actually that’s the first time…. Steve has announced the record now twice, the name of the record twice, and I have not told anybody,” Mayer said.

Watch the full Entertainment Tonight exclusive here:


Written and published by James Macdonald.

OneRepublic “Oh My My” Album Review: Amorphic Playlist Pop

OneRepublic deliver contemporary pop euphoria fit for radioplay on their stereo-syncopating fifth album, Oh My My.

OneRepublic’s multitalented frontman Ryan Tedder has an impeccable songwriting resume. Collaborating with a cadre of elite superstars, including Commercially-clouting Adele, American Sweetheart Taylor Swift and Bigtime Britpopper Ellie Goulding, Tedder has certified his status as a household name in mainstream music; garnering a reputation as one of the most universally-recognised hitmakers of the past decade. Aside from an incessant list of star-studded songwriting credits, Tedder is also an exceedingly talented vocalist – boasting a flawless falsetto that oozes ambits of emotion, and a multifarious vocal range which showcases a heartening balance of the ethereal and earthly – as heard on the jouissance jaunts of platinum-selling singles, ‘Counting Stars’, ‘Love Runs Out’ and ‘Something I Need’. Therefore, it’s surprising that, despite penning a monopoly of Billboard 100 songs throughout the noughties – comprising Leona Lewis’ ‘Bleeding Love’, Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ and Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Already Gone’; that the brainchild behind OneRepublic and Native’s cornucopia of successful singles and album downloads has only managed to secure one platinum-charting album to date.

So how does Ryan Tedder’s encyclopedic knowledge of songwriting and studio experience transcend onto OneRepublic’s latest album, Oh My My?

Unlike the canorous country bop of 2013’s Natives, Oh My My explores a rich lexicon of music genres, ranging from metropopolis and neo-funk, to RnB and deep discofox. Besides adopting a new musical direction stylistically, OneRepublic welcome a refreshing change-of-pace on production, exchanging the failsafe formula of slow-burning countrified pop with polished party anthems containing more ammunition than a semi-automatic machine gun: If 2013’s Natives was an independent art house film without government funding, Oh My My is a critically acclaimed blockbuster with bigger budgets, higher production costs and an airbrushed cast.

This is showcased in the form of superlative lead single ‘Wherever I Go’; a pulsating K-pop leaning powerhouse as proverbially palpitating as hentai porn. Intertwined with anime-styled percussion and speech modifications – reminisinent of Miike Snow’s central tour-de-force ‘Genghis Khan’, Wherever I Go’s multi-layered instrumentation and protuberant production is as binge-worthy as a boxset of Netflix original series. However, the songwriting often feels forced and contrived, as Ryan Tedder consumes a veritable syllabus worth of candy pop samples and cultural references in a desperate attempt to sound trendy and current.

Although Tedder’s failed attempt at appealing to a younger audience is arguably a metaphorical car crash, Oh My My is brimming full of catchy choruses and awe-inspiring melodies. In a recent interview with NPR Magazine, Tedder explains “Melody is the single most important thing to any song, period. I don’t care what anybody says, it trumps everything. Not because that’s my opinion, but because I think it’s actually indisputable fact: The human brain retains melody easier than it retains words. It’s that simple.”  This instinctive sixth-sense of conceiving melody thoroughly transpires onto the album’s title track, Oh My My. If 2010’s Timberland-produced jam ‘Apologise’ was an earworm, Oh My My’s brass-studded, speaker-quaking potpourri of early Motown influences and Cassius’ Eurovision disco gleams are a figment of Bruno Mars’ wet dreams. The production is lively and vivacious: think Macklemore’s ‘Downtown’ on anabolic aids. From the French Duo’s appetizing keytar chirrups to Tedder’s icy falsetto runs; ‘Oh My My’ possesses the charismatic charm of Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ and the danceability of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ – a deadly combination.

Oh My My is also packed with dystopian tales as futuristic as Daft Punk’s robotic helmets. Have you ever seen Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning biopic Her; a film about a lonely writer who kindles an unlikely intimate relationship with an operating system? ‘A.I’ is essentially the musical adaption of this premise, replacing actors Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson with musicians Ryan Tedder and infamous 80s prodigy Peter Gabriel, as it questions our over obsession with multimedia technologies; specifically modern romance and it’s online-augmented, match-making, tinder-swiping dating culture – coalescing the feeling of intimacy in the internet age with fears of technological paranoia. With its Westworld-inspired robotic romps and Tron-esque vocal manipulations, A.I’s glitchy 8-bit production feels sonically cohesive, yet characteristically playful; as Tedder’s myriad of retro soundscapes effortlessly replicate the timeless euphoria of first-gen console soundtracks, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World. Additionally, ‘A.I’ showcases the Ohio born singer’s most poetic wordplay and thought-provoking lyricism in years. With the Syco singer chanting “Yeah I just want my love automatic, if artificial love makes sense, I just want your love, I’m an addict, Artificial intelligence” and Peter Gabriel’s haunting beautiful choral harmonies doubling up on the bridge: “Just automatic hurt, Bring me back tonight, Cause you’re intelligent” – Tedder delivers a collection of quotable lines and technical analogies as memorable as John Badham’s 1986 Sci-Fi classic, Short Circuit. However, similarly to the motion picture’s beloved protagonist Johnny-Five, ‘A.I’ short circuits from its inability to establish an distinctive sonic identity of its own, as Ryan Tedder’s voice sounds anodyne and anonymous, resulting in a vocal performance as unengaging despondent as Windows 98’s dial up connection.

Oh My My is not only filmic in terms of its lyricism, but the emotional aesthetic it evokes.  Remember the diaphanous cinematography of The Perks of Being a Wallflowers closing sequence, where the trio drive through Fort Pitt Tunnel, windows down, listening to Bowie’s ‘Heroes’;  as the camera pans to a windswept Sam standing with her arm’s aloft; feeling the breeze running through her fingertips, being overdubbed with Charlie narrating a heartfelt monologue about being infinite? ‘Kids’ perfectly encapsulates the halcyon days of being young and feeling liberated. With a plethora of pulsating Bronski beats – channelling Nick Jonas’ ‘Famous’ – overlapping Tedder’s rhapsodic vocal rhymes, ‘Kids’ is big enough to dominate the Top 40 Charts and bold enough to inspire a generation.

‘NbHd’ sees Tedder collaborate with South coast songstress Santigold to pen pulp-novel-esque lyrical vignettes of big city dreaming – as the frontman leaves the outskirts of Ohio, his hometown, for the wide-eyed crepuscular canvas of Hollywood Boulevard; providing the album with, if not a rectilinear narrative, then a recurring notion of emotional detachment. Although ‘NbHd’ is thematically strong, is imposes the question of what a more distinctive singer could have achieved with its dark and ominous instrumental – picture the cracking of John Newman baritone or the husk of Rag‘N’Bone Man on vocals.

In an article with Wonderland Magazine, Tedder talks about his musical childhood and religious background, stating that “his father was a gospel songwriter in the Seventies with an endless knowledge of the hits. ‘He could tell you the top records on the chart at any given point in time for basically all the Eighties and Nineties’”. These gospel roots can be heard on ‘Choke’; a sumptuous acoustic ballad about family and cherishing past memories. With his passionate outcries of “I’ll keep a picture of you one the wall, of you on the wall, And choke on the memories”, and summery guitar twangs – channelling the beach vibes of Frank Ocean’s ‘Self Control’, ‘Choke’ sounds as uplifting as it is eternally optimistic – a certified fan favourite.

Another album highlight is gospel-inspired ‘Human’; a fast-tempo floor-filler that recounts a spiritual conversation between Ryan Tedder and God. He preaches “Told him that I’m sorry I lost communication, But I just, I just needed some holiness, I said that the things that I’ve been trying end up in frustration, Life ain’t what it seems in any situation”, questioning his relationship with his own religious beliefs as he searches for self-enlightenment – Tedder’s most autobiographical song since ‘Stop and Stare’. From the track’s adrenalin-fuelled EDM embellishments to concretely-crumbling crescendos as powerful as an industrial drill, ‘Human’ is raw and authentic – a faultless track.

However, Oh My My isn’t completely without its flaws. ‘Lets Hurt Tonight’, ‘Fingertips’ and ‘The Future Looks Good’ all sound as painfully generic and malleable as an X Factor winning single. Whereas ‘Dreams’, ‘Born’ and ‘Heaven’ are so formulaic, One Republic could almost be mistaken as a Maroon 5 covers band.

In conclusion, although One Republic’s latest album is evanescent, fun and full of life; woven with honey-eared melodies and Tedder’s signature staccatos, the band are ultimately hindered by their inability to produce pop music which sounds characteristically recognisable, as Oh My My features a collection of songs which resemble a Spotify playlist on shuffle rather than a fully conceptualised body of work.




Written and published by James Macdonald.

Kings of Leon Return With New Comeback Single “Waste a Moment”

The Aha Shake Heartbreakers return with their euphonious new single, “Waste a Moment” – the first song taken from the band’s forthcoming seventh studio album, Walls (released on October 14th via Columbia Records).

Produced by regular Coldplay collaborator and recording veteran Markus Dravs, “Waste a Moment” is raw, vivacious, and on-the-trigger impulsive – as Kings Of Leon appear reinvigorated, perfectly encapsulating the wayward hysteria and hyperreality of Because of the Times.

Conflating the South western swoons of Caleb’s vocal cadences with bombinating basslines which buzz like agitated beehives – “Waste a Moment” transforms a cautionary tale of caustic love into something as wildly chaotic as Mick Jagger’s relationship history, and as danceable as a 1930s lindy-hop. The song opens with Caleb narrating the intemperate lifestyle plaguing a relationship between two Texan reprobates. He ripostes “All the way from Waco to WeHo with the rabbit on a chain, Drove a little slick car to ten bar with the static on her brain”, eulogising a compelling two-sided argument, and delivering his most notable songwriting since Only by the Night – a resounding return to form for the Nashville native.

Similarly to Caleb’s newfound oddball lyricism, the music video is equally as perplexing. Waste a Moment’s narrative follows a hostile relationship between a supernatural cheerleader and her inebriated stoner boyfriend, as a series of paranormal disturbances; including cardiac-arresting cops, switchblade showdowns with ponytailed strangers, blindfolded band members and forensic investigations, leave a recluse suburban American neighbourhood in complete desolation.

Watch Kings Of Leon’s surreal and symbolic new video for “Waste a Moment” below.

The band also appeared on Later… with Jools Holland last week, debuting title track “Walls” and “Around The World”.


In a recent interview with NME, lead singer Caleb Followill iterates the positive effect Drav’s had during the creative process of Walls and how changing producers forced the band to experiment and challenge them artistically – unlike ‘Mechanical Bull’, where the band admit to remaining in their comfort zone musically while rekindling their relationships with each other. He explains: “We were definitely going for it and trying really hard, but we got into a comfort zone. We’ve tried to peel that away on this album, by not using the same producer and doing it in our studio. We were really challenging ourselves, doing things where we were scratching our heads going ‘Holy shit, is this right? Is this wrong?’”. Bassist Jared Followill also elaborates on his experience of working with the LA based producer, stating “He’s kind of like a drill sergeant”. “You’d write something and you’d change it and I mean it’s not easy to wipe away a part that you’ve written and then just have to start from scratch, and then have to do that again”.

The band also discussed their personal issues, admitting that they became “business partners” instead of family members during the pinnacle of their career. Jared Followill explains “We’d only see each other for the hour-and-a-half before a show. We went too far in the other direction. If you’re going to be friends and family, you can’t really be a band, or we can’t be this band”. Caleb briefly added “After a while, it’s not ‘I’m going to do an interview with my brother’, it’s ‘I’m going to do an interview with the drummer’. When you get together, it’s never ‘We are the band’. We lost that”.

Watch Kings Of Leon’s world exclusive Apple Music interview with Zane Lowe here:




Written and published by James Macdonald.

Bon Iver: A Complete Linage of Bon Iver’s Hiatus

Can you believe that Bon Iver released their Grammy-winning, self-titled sophomore album five years ago? Me neither. What’s equally as mindboggling is that it’s been half a decade since Rebecca Black’s “Friday” became a viral YouTube hit – accumulating over 97 million views, Spitzer’s space telescope discovered super-Earth Exoplanet Kepler-22b, Nyan Cat became everybody’s favourite pop tart GIF and Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Neo Noir pulp thriller film Drive, became an instant cult-classic.

Since Bon Iver have returned from their long-awaited hiatus; Donald Trump has become a major Presidential Election candidate, Musician/Carpenter Frank Ocean has trolled fans with his mysterious Apple Music live stream (and yet another fake album release date has passed), NASA have discovered water on Mars and Niantic’s Pokémon Go has become a global phenomenon. Inevitably, the world has changed. Unfortunately, Bon Iver’s abiding obscurity hasn’t, as the Eau Claire composers are yet to announce the heart-rending sequel to their folk and soul infused magnum opus, Bon Iver. With growing scepticism surrounding the band’s future, and multi-instrumentalist and human mouthpiece Justin Vernon remaining clandestine about the release of upcoming material, many diehard fans have been left foaming at the mouth at the very thought of new music – treating enigmatic social media posts like cryptic crime scenes, dissecting speculative rumours like Key Stage 3 science experiments, and investigating details on unforeseen album collaborations like scrutinising games of Cluedo.

With the upcoming installation of Eaux Claire’s Music Festival – which Vernon co-curated alongside The National’s Aaron Dessner – being given the greenlight for August 12th and 13th 2016, and new material appearing imminent; here’s the complete chronology of Bon Iver’s activity since their second hiatus.

September 23, 2012: In an interview with The Local Show on Minnesota Public Radio, Justin Vernon was questioned about the future of Bon Iver – preluding rumours that the band was taking an indefinite hiatus: “Winding it down. I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There’s so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I’ll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that”. Bon Iver’s label, Jagjaguwar, later clarified Vernon’s bemusing comments on the uncertainty of the band’s future, stating that “he meant he’s winding down promotional efforts for the band’s self-titled 2011 album. They are just going off cycle after two very busy years on the road”.

November 12, 2012: The band finishes their European Tour in Dublin, Ireland.

August 28, 2013: During an exclusive interview with Pitchfork, Vernon promotes Volcano Choir’s latest album, Repave and offers an update on the current status of Bon Iver, claiming “There’s a large opportunity for Bon Iver to be a special thing, even from a business standpoint– just trying to do cooler things. Every band sells t-shirts and plays certain auditoriums, but I’m sick of being like everyone else, because I’m not. I think I need to take a long time. In the last month or so, I started to get some musical thoughts that agree with the future of what that project can be. I don’t want the big flashing lights and red carpet, like, ‘Here comes another Bon Iver album!’ I just want it to be my bedroom-y thing. But that’ll take a while to figure out.” Positive news from the forlorn frontman.

September 03, 2013: While continuing the on-air promotion of Volcano Choir’s Repave, Justin Vernon briefly readdresses the status of Bon Iver’s next project during a radio interview with Australia’s Triple J, to which he replies “I don’t really write songs anymore. The last Bon Iver record was a very ‘sitting down with a guitar and writing’ kind of record… I really have to be in a specific headspace to even begin to illuminate an idea that would create another Bon Iver record, and I’m just not there. I’m really honoured that Bon Iver gives me a platform to do whatever I want, but there’s only so much time you can spend digging through yourself before you become insular. I’m not in a hurry to go back to that temperature. All of the music I’ve been making shifting away from Bon Iver feels really good … so if I ever do go back to Bon Iver it will be all the better for it.” A disappointing setback.

June 30, 2014: Bon Iver premier their electronically contemplative song Heavenly Father, for Zaff Braff’s Wish I Was Here soundtrack. Featuring a harmonious blend of rich Wisconsin croons with melodically cyclic Electronic Choir vocal coos, Bon Iver’s meditative sound feels progressive and renewed, indicating a new direction for the band both sonically and stylistically.

July 8, 2015: Vernon quickly dismisses speculation regarding new music or a tour in an interview with Grantland. Describing his current songwriting process and future plans, Vernon admits “I’ve been taking it really slow. I don’t mean to get all cerebral about my art, but I’ve been trying to collect improvisations and collect moments. I’m thinking more, I guess, like a painter or a sculptor, like Andy Goldsworthy or something, in the way I’m putting songs together”. Adding “As far as putting a record together, I don’t really know what’s happening. Our show (Eaux Claires Music Festival) is our main focus. We don’t have anything booked after this. We don’t have any plans. We’re not being secretive — we just don’t have any plans”.

July 18, 2015: Headlining alongside The National, Bon Iver performs their first live show in almost three years at the Eaux Claires Music Festival in Wisconsin, treating the audience to a spellbinding setlist of fan favourites with the surprising addition of two brand new songs. Vernon praises the festival, stating “it’s the perfect platform for us to be like, this is how we’re starting this new cycle, new life of the band.”

November 18, 2015: The band announces a tour in Asia starting at the beginning of 2016.

February 11, 2016: In a recent interview with Billboard, Vernon confirms that he’s working on new music and talks about his Eaux Claires Fest’s return: “I’m no longer winding down. I’m not exactly sure where I am with it. I’ve been winding down for a number of years for numerous reasons. For exhaustion, exposure. It’s never died or anything to me. It’s one of those things that needs to be protected in my own spirit. I’ve been working on music, you know, man. It takes a long time, and I’m not sure exactly what it is or what it means to me, and until that happens I won’t really know exactly what sharing it will look like or feel like or when. There’s sort of this internal pressure, not from anybody but myself, to come out with new music for the festival. But I’m not gonna make myself do anything. I really have to take it step by step and have patience and know that the music — if it comes out, it’s gotta be really true, it’s gotta really live with the other records and extend from them and be reborn and all that. There’s a lot that goes into it. I’ve definitely been working on music”.

May 06, 2016: Bon Iver appear as a feature on James Blake’s second album, The Colour in Anything.

July 7, 2016: Bon Iver collaborate with Kanye West on Francis and the Lights’ latest track, “Friends”.

July 22, 2016: Bon Iver tease a cryptic video post on Facebook entitled “22 Days” – a date which coincides with Vernon’s Eaux Claires Music Festival. The mysterious footage features a computer screen frantically flashing through a sequence of abstract images and a bombinating, gospel-inflected cut – reminiscence of Bon Iver’s Heavenly Father soundtrack. The band has also revamped their website, social media profiles and cover photos with screengrabs extracted from the video. Could this video signify the rebirth of Bon Iver? Or is Justin Vernon planning a larger scaled project? All we know is that “It might be over soon”.

Written and published by James Macdonald.