I’ve featured Twin Shadow quite a few times here on 17 Seconds over the years, and ‘Five Seconds’ reached no.13 in my Festive Fifty in 2012. George Lewis Jr. has his own take on the 80’s, and as I commented back in 2012 around the time of his second album Confess, whilst it seems unlikely that 4AD would have put out records that sounded like his in the early 80s, somehow it makes perfect sense now.
The power ballad, that 80s musical movement of lighters in the air aloft of soft rock has given us his new single ‘To The Top’ which after a couple of plays I had to buy (lead by example). Turn it up, play it loud and go and buy. No-one talks about Hypnagogic pop anymore (least of all those who invented the concept), but it seems that AOR has become acceptable now.
Twin Shadow, one of many artists featured on epitonic
Nearly ten years ago, when I first got a broadband connection, one of the main reasons was so that I could download music quickly, and (mostly) legally. There are those who will tell you that downloads spelt the death of the music industry – well, seeing as there have been more singles so far sold this year than last year (which was the record year for sales), that suggests that’s false. Yes, it may have had a devastating effect on record shops, but the savvy ones adapted (and some of the old dinosaurs had been ripping people off for years).
Two sites, insound and epitonichad masses of free downloads and they were – and are legal, too. epitonic has been rebooted, and I have to say with awesome music included. This should not stand as a way of giving up buying from record shops but a way of well, not sucking and see (yes, yes, ha ha) but certainly to hear something and go and try it out for yourselves. Also, I like the ‘like this? try this’ approach
Here’s some of what I’ve picked up this evening from epitonic (NB left click!)
A quantum leap on from his debut album, Forget, this album may have been out for a few weeks now, but that doesn’t mean I have been enjoying it. Whereas his debut was linked in with the chillwave movement (AKA the movement that made it OK for Hipsters to listen to 80s AOR without having to be, y’know, ironic about it), this time the template -crafted in his own image -is more in the style of early 80s new wave pop.
The biker look on the front suggests that George Lewis Jr -as he’s known to his mum- is taking no prisoners. ‘Can’t You see I’m not in love’ he sings on ‘Run My Heart’, and he does not mean it in the way 10CC did. Yet this is an easy album to get to grips with. If, as one album suggests that he’s ring-fencing his heart, this is not a hard album to love. Far from it. First single ‘Five Seconds’ remains one of the best tracks I have heard this year. It’s a darker album lyrically, yet poppier in its approach -without (as you will have gathered by now) being sugar-coated in any way.
If it seems unlikely that 4AD would have put out an album sounding like this in 1982, somehow it makes perfect sense in 2012. And thus, the underground and mainstream evolve…
OK folks, there will be another radio show from me this week at 7-8PM on Fresh Air this coming Thursday.
This was last week’s show -here’s the tracklisting again, and if you wish to listen to it, it’s there below:
1. Dead Can Dance ‘Children Of The Sun.’
2. Kate Bush ‘Running Up That Hill.’
3. Twin Shadow ‘Five Seconds.’
4. We Are The Physics ‘Applied Robotics.’
5. Aggi Doom ‘Bring Me The Head.’
6. Shamen ‘Jesus Loves Amerika.’ ‘Gone but not forgotten.’
7. Soap&Skin ‘Wonder.’
8. Cancel The Astronauts ‘Making Dynamite.’ Album of the month Animal Love Match
9. Matt Norris and the Moon ‘Roots Below.’
10. The Delgados ‘Mr. Blue Sky.’ ‘Cover version of the week.’
11. Grimes ‘Genesis.’
12. Antony & the Johnsons ‘Cut The World.’
The first track to do the rounds is ‘Five Seconds’ which is not only available as a free download, but is now also an excellent video.
Based on a novel co-written by George Lewis Jr, Night Of The Silver Sun, this video seems like a glorious Hollywood blockbuster (think X-Men and the like) to a brilliant track. Twin Shadow is a master at taking eighties pop and producing something flaming awesome and with it.
Crank it up, sit back and enjoy!
And if you still haven’t downloaded this, get on with it!
…so yes, I am looking forward to the latest album from George Lewis Jr! He will release his second album, Confess, on July 9th.
The tracklisting for Confess is as follows:
1. Golden Light
2. You Call Me On
3. Five Seconds
4. Run My Heart
5. The One
6. Beg For The Night
8. When The Movie’s Over
9. I Don’t Care
10. Be Mine Tonight (hidden track Mirror In The Dark)
He has made ‘Five Seconds’ the first track available to downlod from the album for free.
It’s an interesting example of how labels have evolved, people’s notions of what is cool and not, and what might be perceived as art rock have changed over many years. The debut album from Twin Shadow (the nom de plume of Dominican-born George Lewis Jr) is out on 4AD, the seminal British art label who have given us a whole host of great names over the years, including Bauhaus, The Cocteau Twins, Throwing Muses, Pixies and in more recent years Broken Records and Camera Obscura. Twin Atlantic’s sound is rooted in the 80s, particularly the production, and less than ten years ago would have been considered a throwback. I love what 4AD have produced over the years -and yet even I can’t help wondering if they would have released this album ten years ago.
Yet just as much stuff becomes re-evauated so the advent of artists like Neon Indian, Emeralds and Ariel Pink’s Huanted Graffiti (the latter labelmates of Twin Shadow have started a seachange in thinking about 80s AOR, particularly when filtered through a post-noise and shoegazing filter. David Keenan wrote an article in The Wire last year that examined the concept and lead to a whole lot of discussion of whether the term is fair or not, and whether totally different bands are being shoehorned into the type of movement-making more commonly associated with the NME.
Whatever. If asked to sum up the album in one word, that would be ‘dreamy.’ Or possibly ‘dreamlike.’ Sure, he knows his heritage -and on closer listening, classic 80s indie is just as important to the evolution of the sound as the aforementioned influences – but this should not be understood as simply an exercise in nostalgia. There’s a number of great songs on here Castles in the snow’ ‘When We’re Dancing’ ‘Slow’ and album opener ‘Tyrant Destroyed’ which make this album very definitely worthy of investigation.
Will hypnagogic pop turn out to be a label as important as ‘dubstep’ or a laugh in the footnotes of history like ‘new grave’ or ‘stool rock?’ (well, exactly). The fact is, it really doesn’t matter: this is a very strong album which deserves to be heard, savoured and appreciated.
Thirty years on, 4AD Records continues to find new and exciting artists to work with.
Their latest signing is Twin Shadow. Known to his Mum and Dad as George Lewis Jr, he will be releasing his debut album Forget on November 15 (which will be my 34th birthday, as it happens, although this may be a coincidence 😉 ).
This may sound a little poppier than some of the stuff that 4AD have produced but it connects well with their heritage of working with exciting acts, working with the artier crowd and producing awesome records. As a big fan of This Mortal Coil’s ‘Song To the Siren’ one of the most sublime recordings released EVER, he’s chuffed to be joioning the label.
This is the first track that has been made available; let me know what you think -and I’m looking forward to the album…