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Vinyl Variety: Adam Masterson’s Love Letter to Rough Trade West (London)

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Adam Masterson

London-born, New York-based Adam Masterson is a charismatic rocker carving out his own musical niche with sharp songwriting skills, effortless melody, and straight-from-the-heart vocals. With his newest EP, Delayed Fuse, out March 26th, Adam is using the five-track release as a springboard to new audiences, new opportunities, and new heights. Standout single “Avenue Walk” is the perfect snapshot of Masterson’s velvet rock ‘n’ roll world, a shimmering blend of indie rock and balladesque pop, topped with soulful vocals delivered with masterful panache and poise.

As a purist for the historic and powerful roots of music, poetry, and creativity, Masterson has a soft spot for the ultimate totem of the music world: vinyl. As such, he happily leads the charge in this Vinyl Variety feature, with a love letter to his favourite record store in the world. Take it away, Adam.

“A LOVE LETTER TO ROUGH TRADE WEST”
(Talbot Road, London)

My favourite and most beloved record store is Rough Trade Records in Ladbroke Grove. I used to live a five-minute stroll from it, at my flat at the bottom end of Blenheim Crescent, and I have many happy memories browsing its shelves and discovering new music that would influence me as an artist and give me many happy hours.

It’s in a beautiful part of the world where Talbot Road meets Portobello Road. On Saturdays, the market is in full swing. All hustle, haggle, and colour. I remember a great Caribbean steel pan busker on that corner as I’d make my weekly visit to Rough Trade.

It was great whenever Nigel House was manning the desk. I first met Nigel while I was buying a record in the store. I’d just put out an album myself and Nigel recognized the name on my card and remembered my record. Of course, I was chuffed that someone out there knew my music, but it also gave Nigel an excellent idea of the stuff I might like. Over the years, Nigel pointed me in the direction of quite a treasure trove of gems. Mainly compilations and reissues, but it makes for quite a haul.

On that first encounter, he alerted me to an extremely good compilation of rare soul sides, Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures. I would go on to buy several of the volumes in the series. I remember a very early James Brown soul track in the series called “Lost Someone” that really showed me another beautiful soul side to James’ voice. I discovered a singer called Syl Johnson who I became a huge fan of, a kind of un-sung Al Green.

Another great compilation I remember getting from Rough Trade was SEX: Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die, it was a complication of tracks that featured on the juke box from Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Sex shop on the King Road in the ‘70s. I really loved this selection of ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelic and garage rock. The CD opened with Count Five’s opus “Psychotic Reactions” and a really cracking track I loved by The Creation called “Through My Eyes.” I remember becoming really influenced by this compilation at the time and saw it as a kind of missing link between the ‘60s and punk. I dug The Troggs song “I Can’t Control Myself” and shamelessly stole the title for a song I was working on. Lyrics also bled into that song from “Monster in Black Tights” by Screaming Lord Such & The Savages, so I was a bit of a sponge to this stuff and immersed myself in these influences.

Other recommendations from Nigel was a cracking Compilation of Serge Gainsborough songs, and also another favourite of mine and big influence, Scot Walker Sings Jacques Brel. I got heavily into both of these records.

So a big thank you to Rough Trade and Nigel. Record stores are so important to us music fanatics and the people who work there open up avenues to explore that we may have not gone down ourselves. That human commodity of someone enthusing about a new record you should check out is so rare now in this world of algorithms and something we should cherish. So, long live the record store! And in this constantly changing market of music, may they not only survive but thrive!

Lots of love to Rough Trade West!

Album News

Slightest Clue Release Their Rocking, Five-Track EP ‘Carousel’

Vancouver indie rockers Slightest Clue recently released their ‘Carousel’ EP, inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a relationship.

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Slightest Clue
Slightest Clue

Vancouver’s Slightest Clue is like the secret after-school project of four kids who would have passed each other without a glance in the hallway at school, but once they’re plugged in and ready to play their distinct blend of post-punk, alternative rock, and dark pop, all bets are off.

Produced by Matt Di Pomponio, their new EP, Carousel, is inspired by the beginning, middle, and end of a formative romantic relationship, spanning the trajectory from love to this loss of connection. The closing track, “Carousel,” marks the ultimate bittersweet reflection with unique harmonic layers to portray those contrasting emotions, shifting between grand and quiet tones.

Commenting on the album, the band states:

“The main theme is love, loss of relationship, and connection. The arc of the story is our foreshadowing of the end in our first song ‘These Days’ speaking on the day to day fights and how neither person can seem to get back to a happy place in the relationship. ‘Why Can’t I Call You?’ is the initial spark of infatuation and obsession with someone before you know them. ‘When You Wake Up’ talks of the blissed out honeymoon stage where everything is working and nothing could go wrong. ‘Suit Uptight!’ represents the mounting frustrations and resentments building tension from unmet needs. And finally our closing track ‘Carousel’ is the end and the bittersweet reflection of a cherished relationship that can no longer return.”

Each member, Malcolm McLaren, Hannah Kruse, Sean Ries, and Nick Sciarretta, brings distinct influences and experiences: a stage actor whose playlists go from Talking Heads to Sonic Youth to Björk, a hook-obsessed recovering choir girl, an electrical engineer whose personal idol is John Bonham, and a guitarist who played for (and left) 10 other bands before deciding this was the one for him.

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

Slightest Clue ‘Carousel’ [EP] album artwork

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Alternative/Rock

Track-by-Track: The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord Cuts Through ‘It Leads To This’

The Pineapple Thief frontman Bruce Soord breaks down each track on the progressive rock band’s new record ‘It Leads To This.’

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The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen
The Pineapple Thief in 2023, photo by Tina Korhonen

It’s been a bit of a renaissance period for The Pineapple Thief over the last few years. This revitalization has resulted in the brand-new album It Leads To This. Released on February 9th via Kscope Records, the eight new songs comprise more of frontman Bruce Soord’s observations and deductions about life and the world around him. The initial concept for the record came together rather quickly, but the actual lyrical and musical components took time. Finalizing these songs required much work and collaboration between Soord and his three bandmates. Each member had a conception of what was satisfactory regarding the songs. Coming to that common ground took time, but in the end, each member was extremely pleased with the final product.

The release of It Leads To This coincides with the 25th anniversary since The Pineapple Thief formed. In that time, they have released over 20 full-length albums and EPs. It Leads To This proved to be one of the most intense writing periods ever for the band. They worked on these new tracks for almost three years. Each band member pushed each other to go above and beyond what they felt capable of. It was extremely fruitful from an artistic perspective, but personally, it did pose challenges for the band members.

Joining us today for an exclusive track-by-track rundown of It Leads To This is Bruce Soord himself. He takes us through each song on the record, their inspirations, motivations, and how they came together.

1. “Put It Right”

Bruce Soord: “This was the first song we wrote for the album, right in the depths of the pandemic. I remember standing outside my studio, which is in the garden of my home, when we were in full lockdown. I looked at the blue sky, not a vapour trail to be seen. Even the hum of my small town was gone. As a songwriter, you’re obviously going to take that in and use it. I started to ponder the fragile state of the world. I mean, how can the world be brought to its knees overnight? Which then led to thoughts about the past, essentially a re-evaluation. Are we all to blame? Was I to blame?”

2. “Rubicon”

“As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I remember talking to (drummer) Gavin (Harrison), and he had the idea to write some songs in the same room. I know, radical, right? So I got in the car and drove to his house. Honestly, in the history of The Pineapple Thief, I had never written in this way. Songs were built up in our various studios over weeks and months.. But we were up for trying something new. It could have been a very long disaster – a 6 day jam in E. But to my surprise, we wrote four songs in this way. The first one being Rubicon.

“The verses are in a ‘5/4 shuffle’ which is quite unique (see Gavin’s drum playthrough on the Vic Firth YouTube channel). The song is actually about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, destroying the Roman republic for his own selfish ambitions. History repeating itself indeed…”

3. “It Leads To This”

“Following on from the theme of ‘Put It Right,’ this is essentially a positive song about focusing on the right things in life. What are going to be your biggest regrets on your deathbed? It’s obvious but also easy to miss. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, I wish I had spent more time with my family and friends. It’s a love song really. ‘For all this time, I didn’t notice you…’”

4. “The Frost”

“I came up with the riff on my 6-string baritone guitar, so it has a low, edgy feel which I really love. This was a song that came together really quickly between the four of us (plus some great contributions from our touring guitarist Beren Matthews on guitars and backing vocals who played throughout the record). It’s about spending your life with a soulmate, through thick and thin, no matter how bad things get.”

5. “All That’s Left”

“Thematically, this continues the theme from ‘It Leads to This’ and, for me, is dominated by the riff and the middle section, which I love playing live. Again, it’s low in register, written using my baritone, massive drums.”

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

The Pineapple Thief ‘It Leads To This’ album artwork

6. “Now It’s Yours”

“Written during the sessions with Gavin, this song goes on a bit of a journey. Soft, atmospheric, big riffs, a guitar solo… Lyrically, looking at the world as an older guy with a family about to be let loose into the world. What the hell are they going to inherit? Well, now it’s yours…”

7. “Every Trace Of Us”

“Again written during the Gavin sessions, I remember Gavin had the intro riff written on his Wurli keyboard he has in his studio. I took it, added some more chords in the progression and the song snowballed from there. Lyrically this is about the pressure of modern life, expectation, pressure, and the mental repercussions of it all. Modern life can tear every trace of us apart.”

8. “To Forget”

“I had this finger-picked acoustic guitar part, which the band liked, so I developed the first part of the song and came up with the words pretty quickly. Us humans, especially as we grow older, have to come to terms with loss and, in a lot of cases, tragedy. Touching on the debate as to whether life is a gift or a curse (I am firmly in the ‘gift’ camp). However, living with tragedy isn’t easy. Remembering isn’t easy, to forget is impossible.”

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Alternative/Rock

Lovin’ Life Music Fest Drops First Year Lineup

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in North Carolina.

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Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024
Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024

Lovin’ Life Music Fest dropped their official lineup this week, and it is exceptional. The festival’s first-ever installment will occur on May 3-5th, 2024, in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina. The star-studded lineup includes headline sets from Post Malone, Noah Kahan, and Stevie Nicks. From headliners alone, we can tell this festival has something for everyone.

The festival will showcase many popular acts spanning various genres and generations. Supporting acts include Maggie Rogers, Dominic Fike, The Fray, The Chainsmokers, Quinn XCII, Mt. Joy, Young the Giant, and NC’s DaBaby and The Avett Brothers. There will also be a local stage to highlight Charlotte’s own artists throughout the weekend. This is one of the most stacked lineups we’ve seen for the 2024 festival season.

Tickets to Lovin’ Life are on sale now! Grab them while you can; this is sure to be an epic weekend!

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

Lovin’ Life Music Fest 2024 poster

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