"(Ex-Vöid) have continued to mix sugary sweet harmonies with furious blasts of noise."
– The FADER
"Ex-Vöid puts all their chaotic energy right up front, McArdle burning her way through... knotty guitars and frantic drumming"
Don Giovanni Records has announced the debut album from UK power-pop punks Ex-Vöid titled Bigger Than Before.
Ex-Vöiddraw on guitar pop through the ages - The Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub - and attack it with the ferocity and economy of a hardcore punk band. Bigger Than Before will be released on March 25, 2022.
Bigger Than Before is the debut album from Ex-Vöid, the "dangerously melodic" pop group formed by Joanna Gruesome singers Lan McArdle and Owen Williams. Expanding on the “exuberant, hook-stuffed” (Pitchfork) compositions of their previous band, McArdle and Williams have written an album of solid gold power-punk tunes.
Even on more mellow numbers, the band have a way of pummeling the listener with an unhealthy quantity of hooks, harmonies and Thin Lizzy-inspired dual guitar solos.
Yet there’s also a delicacy to the vocal which brings to mind the eye-of-the-storm melodies of Bilinda Butcher which imbues the album with a kind of grounding ethereality. On tracks like lead single "Churchyard," McArdle and Williams’ voices blend and trill with a folk-like quietness while, down in the grubby engine room, bandmates Laurie Foster (bass) and Jonny Coddington (drums) thrash their way through noise jams, hardcore breakdowns and open-chord power-pop riffs.
Bigger Than Before was laid down live, with a few minimal overdubs, in just over an hour in Hackney, London. The songs were recorded without breaks, and Foster was reported to have “kept on playing even though his belt came loose and his trousers fell down”.
"Churchyard", the first single from Ex-Vöid’s debut album Bigger Than Before, is a 1:57 power-pop epic stuffed with hooks. Guitarist Owen Williams describes the single: “I wrote it when I was like 24 and living in Brighton. My friend and I were unemployed and we used to spend a lot of time drinking cans of lager and taking legal highs in a pet graveyard. It was boring so at the end we sing: ’I get so bored’ over and over etc.”
"Buckskin may be one of the last great undiscovered lost records." - Joe Steinhardt of Don Giovanni Records
“I wrote ‘Black Irish Indian’ in 1980, and released it in 1993, but maybe the song’s time and place is actually here and now." - CherokeeRose in 2021
Don Giovanni Records is reissuing two obscure and long out of print albums from Minneapolis songwriter CHEROKEEROSE. The albums - the long lost Buckskin and To All The Wild Horses - will be released on March 11th 2022, available for the first time ever digitally. It is also the first time Buckskin will be released on vinyl or CD formats, as it was originally issued as a limited run of only a few hundred cassettes in 1993.
Cherokee Rose's debut releaseBuckskin came together thanks to a kismet personal connection to a session engineer at Prince’s storied Paisley Park Studio. He liked her songs, and thought they should be recorded. Rose never even considered recording the informal, deeply personal material she had been penning. "I was a mom with three kids at home," she reflects. "I would have never thought I would ever record or play a show."
Rose was booked for piecemeal studio time at Prince'sPaisley Park Studio at off-hours: middle of the night and early morning sessions to get her songs committed to tape. The recordings existed in a sort of suspended-animation: issued as a small run cassette-only demo tape and sold at shows direct to a smattering of fans in 1993. No record label, no distribution. Rose doesn’t own a cassette deck on which to play it today. In fact, Rose hadn’t heard her earliest recordings in over fifteen years when she was approached to reissue them. Joe Steinhardt of Don Giovanni states "Buckskin may be one of the last great undiscovered lost records."
"I wish I could remember where I found Buckskin but I am always buying interesting and obscure looking tapes as it's how I've discovered some of my favorite albums of all time," Steinhardt continues. "Whenever I had downtime I would search for anything I could find about her, hoping to someday get in touch and find out more about the tape."
CherokeeRose in 2021
Whereas Buckskin was Rose's first demo tape and was largely missed, To All The WildHorses had some support and plays from reservation radio stations, and she toured coffee shops, art spaces, as well as Native cultural events and niche music festivals in support of it. However mainstream success still eluded CherokeeRose. Culturally, there seemed to be an impenetrable barrier from the place Rose was operating, and what at the time in the 1990s was considered to be popular music. As formats for how music is released and consumed changed over the decades, much of Rose’s earliest recorded output was relegated to obscurity for the fact that it seemed to exist in a vacuum.
Hearing the music that made up Buckskin and To All The Wild Horses today, Rose herself was transported back to the time and place in which the songs were written and recorded. The catharsis of discovering her cultural and racial identity coincided directly with the desire to express those experiences through songs.
Rose describes the experience of being a child, and constantly being asked “What are you?” and not knowing how to answer, as “debilitating.” The songwriting was more an attempt to express the desire to be connected to her Native, African and European roots. “I wasn’t a pop writer, and I wasn’t writing for commercial success. I was trying to craft a song because I had something to say about the chaos and difficulties surrounding cultural and racial identity.”
“I wrote ‘Black Irish Indian’in 1980, and released it in 1993, but maybe the song’s time and place is actually here and now,” Rose intimates. Such staggering self-awareness and personal reflection should come as no surprise from an artist who has spent decades considering her personal identity, her place within her own various ancestral histories and how she is informed by these three seemingly disparate backgrounds which unite within her own expression.
Buckskin and To All The Wild Horsesby CherokeeRosewill be released on March 11, 2022 via Don Giovanni Records. It is the first time either title will be available on digital streaming platforms, and the first ever vinyl and CD release for Buckskin. ‘Black Irish Indian’ is streaming now, everywhere.
"Patrick Haggerty is the REAL OG gay country artist." – Trixie Mattel, star of RuPaul's Drag Race
"[Lavender Country] is a tremendous feat, a remarkable act of bravery and honesty as well as a statement on the universality of love and lust and belonging." – Pitchfork, Best New Reissue Review
"Though Lavender Country has been out for 45 years, Haggerty has only recently found the level of awareness and subsequent queer-conscious dialogue around the album that he was hoping for when he first wrote (it)." – Rolling Stone
Couldn't be more excited to announce the (50 years in the making!) sophomore album from foundational queer country band LAVENDER COUNTRY. The album is called Blackberry Rose and it will be released on February 18th.
Led by principal songwriter Patrick Haggerty, it is the band's first album in nearly fifty years. Their debut self-titled album released in 1973 is universally recognized as the first ever country album to be released by an openly gay artist.
While Lavender Country was little known outside the Pacific Northwest in their time and only released one self-distributed album in 1973, they created a genuine cultural milestone; the first openly gay country album. Sponsored by the original Stonewall activists of the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle, Lavender Country's self-titled release was the brainchild of Patrick Haggerty, whose experiences as a gay liberation activist during the Stonewall era shaped him into a tenacious political savant. Radically defying the conservative norms of country music, Haggerty turned to Seattle's gay community for song topics that addressed a wide range of political and social concerns, including institutionalized oppression and divisions of the working class, as well as more personal subjects such as the complications of intimacy and sexual identity. The album marked the genesis moment of creation for the entire queer country movement that today is booming with the likes of Lil Nas X, Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Paisley Fields and more.
Lavender Country was recognized in 1999 by the Country Music Hall of Fame for its contribution to the history of country music, and the self-titled album was re-issued in 2014 to much acclaim and fanfare, including a Best New Reissue review by Pitchfork, features in RuPaul's Drag Race, and a full modern ballet being choreographed and performed based on Lavender Country's songs.
Photo by Calvin Lum
The first single from Blackberry Rose is out today, and is a full-band Nashville Sound reimagined version of LC's classic "I Can't Shake The Stranger Out Of You" which was covered by RuPaul's Drag Race icon Trixie Mattel on her Grammy-nominated 2020 album, Barbara. The song is one of longing, a love song about missing intimacy in the most intimate moments.
Mattel described working on the song with Haggerty in a 2020 NPR interview as:
"Patrick was like 'well you have to understand, I was part of the first batch of gay men to actually come out. So we didn’t know how to be intimate and love one another, and look each other in the eye and be honest, we only knew how to hook up.' It’s an homage to those who paved the way."
In 1954, 12 year old Jerry Williams, then performing under the name Little Jerry Williams, made his first recording for Mechanic Records, a blues stomp with a shockingly mature vocal performance. Through the 60’s Williams’ career developed with a number of successful singles, including “I’m the Lover Man” and “Baby You’re My Everything”, as well as writing and producing hits for Dee Dee Warwick, Doris Duke, and Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles.
It was in 1970, however, that the full extent of Williams’ eccentric creative genius was unleashed on the world for the first time, with the birth of his musical alter-ego, Swamp Dogg. Created to “occupy the body while the search party was out looking for Jerry Williams, who was mentally missing in action due to certain pressures, mal-treatments and failure to get paid royalties on over fifty single records,” the SwampDogg alias, still in use today, allowed Williams to create music that was bolder, raunchier, and more honest to his creative instincts. The Dogg’s cult classic debut Total Destruction to Your Mind struck a powerful blend of Williams' classic soulful sensibilities and the blooming psychedelia of the time. Infused in the swirling brew is Swamp’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it humor, a number of acid odes, and a heavy dose of sharp political insight. Though the psychedelic strangeness alienated R&B fans of the time, and the authentic R&B infrastructure prevented it from clicking with hippie audiences, it has retroactively received legendary status in cult music circles.
Polaroids by Matthew Dilmore
Swamp Dogg is at his most earnest on lead single “Soul to Blessed Soul” - out now across all streaming platforms. The song is a wholesome yet triumphant tune about the divine power of love. Paying tribute to the kind of connection that overcomes the deepest hardships and brings out the best in a person, SwampDogg can only think to thank God for his good fortune. Anchored on a head-nodding lick from Guitar Shorty, “Soul to Blessed Soul” is a slow-burning serenade that’s sweet, soulful, and at times, a little sexual.
At 78, SwampDogg is as sharp of a singer and songwriter as ever. His raunchy yet charismatic sense of humor takes a more forward role on I Need a Job… So I Can Buy More Autotune, with earnestly delivered lyrics about all day sex and an entire song dedicated to the perils of “Cheating in the Daylight.” Many of the record’s most charming moments emerge from the juxtaposition of Swamp’s left field humor with genuine messages of love, such as “She Got That Fire”, which weaves descriptions of imagined sex acts, including but not limited to an encounter involving edible underwear, in between relatively wholesome proclamations like “she must be an angel on earth,” and “when she looks at you, it’s like sunshine from her eyes.” I Need a Job... does more than prove that Swamp's still got it, it proves he’s still getting better.
I Need a Job… So I Can Buy More Autotunewill be released on February 25, 2022. It is available for pre-order now, along with an exclusive t-shirt designed by Perry Shall.
Living next to each other throughout the pandemic, Goren and Sokel's neighborly interactions led the two to try writing music together, just to see what it would sound like. One song quickly became three, and soon they were recording what would come to be the self titled debut release from Dead Best. Dead Best takes the raw pandemic expressions of two punk veterans and refines them into a ripping 13 tracks. Exhuming deep anxieties through pummeling guitars and frantic, distorted vocals, the LP is a brief but clear profile of Goren and Sokel’s combined creative voice
Sharing their first single, "Life Love and Liberty", Dead Best announced their debut self titled LP, out December 10th on Don Giovanni Records. Simple punchy drums cue in the LP's opening track, inciting a barrage of aggressive guitar work and heavily distorted vocals. Capturing the duo’s explosive sound in under a minute and a half, Life, Love and Liberty is an introduction to the fast paced world of Dead Best.