In 2018, the advertising geniuses at Snake Accident commissioned TV On The Radio to record their own version of the 1970s Carpenters hit “We’ve Only Just Begun” for a commercial for the asset management company Nuveen. Earlier in the campaign, the group apparently reached out to a variety of artists including Ariel Pink and Bonnie “Prince” Billy, who each recorded their own take on the Carpenters classic. Now, the advertising group has made the rejected covers publicly available on SoundCloud, as Stereogum points out.
For his rendition, Ariel Pink stayed fairly true to the original, using twinkling synths and retro drum machines to play up the sincerity of his rendition. Will Oldham took things even further, with thin acoustic guitars and multi-tracked vocals that become a dead match for the ’70s song. Eventually, Oldham’s rendition erupts into a noisy ruckus with strings and electric guitars to rival some of his strongest Palace Music recordings.
Ariel Pink’s latest studio album Dedicated to Bobby Jameson was released in 2017 featuring the singles “Time to Live,” “Another Weekend,” and “Feels Like Heaven.” Oldham’s Songs of Love and Horror dropped in October 2018. Revisit our 2017 interview with Ariel Pink and check out his rendition of “We’ve Only Just Begun” below, along with Oldham’s and TV On The Radio’s.
British artist and producer Vegyn has shared two new songs with surreal, dance-based videos. You can check out “Blue Verb” & “Cowboy ALLSTAR” below.
Both videos are directed by Joshua Gordon with “Blue Verg” capturing a troupe of street dancers moving to the song’s percussive sounds. “Cowboy ALLSTAR,” meanwhile, uses a Michael Jackson impersonator as its launch pad for something a little more unusual.
The videos follow Vegyn’s 71-track mixtape, Text While Driving If You Want To Meet God, released in June. In addition to dropping the new material, Vegyn has also released a limited amount of new merchandise. Check that out here.
Outside of his own music Vegyn runs the London-based label PLZ Make It Ruins and has collaborated with Frank Ocean on Endless, Blonde, and his BLONDED radio show on Beats 1 on Apple Music
When times are tough, we turn to reliable pleasures. It could be anything, really. The guilty joyride of a song you hadn’t thought of in years? Sure. The sound of an orchestra falling down a flight of stairs? Why not? It’s your pleasure, after all. If it’s woebegone pianofortes, lilting melodies, and languid ballads you fancy, we have what you need in the form of 19-year-old Icelandic pianist and composer Gabríel Ólafs.
Ólafs will release his debut album Absent Minded on One Little Indianon August 30, but today we are pleased to PREMIERE his latest single and video “Staircase Sonata.” Speaking about the charming track, Ólafs says,
“Staircase Sonata” is a piano song that I wrote when there was a horrible storm in Iceland and the lake flooded into my studio. All my instruments and microphones were in a big pool of water and the fire department came and carried my piano into the stairwell. Although it was an unpleasant event, I really enjoyed the reverb in the stairwell — so that’s where I composed the song. It’s bittersweet but it’s meant to capture positivity in a moment of unhappiness.
Primarily influenced by film composers like Jóhann Jóhannsson and Ludovico Einaudi, “Staircase Sonata” shows that within Ólafs’ young body lurks an old soul ready to take listeners into unexpected and fascinating directions for many, many years to come.
Penguin Cafe – At the Top of the Hill, They Stood…
Penguin Cafe have announced their new album Handfuls Of Night, out via Erased Tapes on 4 October.
The record was inspired by journeys taken by the band’s leader Arthur Jeffes (son of Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Simon Jeffes) in the Antartic.
The album began its life when Jeffes was commissioned by Greenpeace to write four pieces of music about four different breeds of penguin. They went on to become the core of the new album.
“There are four native Antarctic penguin species – each with their own individual characteristics and natures. I carried on from there to envisage a whole anthropomorphised world, where these penguins had narratives and adventures that we soundtracked,” he says.
Antarctic inspirations go back even further, however. In 2005, Jeffes took part in an expedition re-creating Robert Falcon Scott’s last Antarctic trip in 1911, complete with Edwardian equipment.
“I’m no explorer but I was keen, especially as there’s a family link – Scott was married to my great grandmother before she married my great grandfather,” he explains.
“I had lots of time to ponder my life back home. It was then that I decided to get my Master of Music degree and focus on composing music, and also then that I realised that even in the most remote silent places, music can still be a huge part of one’s internal world and imagination. Whilst on the expedition. I spent days playing things back in my head and also writing new things, which I would then try and write down at the end of the day.”