Category Archives: Space rock

Cathedral organist brings David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ to the sacred masses

Nicholas Freestone, an organ scholar at St. Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, England, decided to play David Bowie’s “Life On Mars.”

The video has since gone viral, receiving more than 1.7 million views on Facebook, and Freestone responded.

“I’m the organist playing this – it’s rather humbling to read your comments. Thanks everyone for sharing! x”

St. Albans is the oldest place of continuous worship in England, so it’s fitting that one of rock’s most revered artists has been honored on hallowed ground, with one of his most stellar songs.

See more links at the Telegraph.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art rock, artpunk, British rock, Glam Rock, Rock, Space rock, Uncategorized

What David Bowie means to me

I wrote these few notes on David Bowie at 2:30 a.m., after I found out the news that the longtime rock legend had died.
There’s nothing I can really say that isn’t going to be said or felt by every Bowie fan, but I just wanted to offer some thoughts about his impact on the world of music.

David Bowie color

Bowie was one of the first things I wrote about for this blog. His name or influence would pop up every now and then in stories, whenever art, music, culture and life collided or intersected. I wrote about his exhibit at London’s V & A in 2013 — where his unique fashions and music memorabilia paid a visit — and that time he invited everyone to check out his book list. When he tweeted to the astronaut Chris Hadfield after Hadfield performed “Space Oddity” in space, confirmed he knows how to stay relevant in every decade he’s lived through. David Bowie’s been everywhere, but always on his own terms.

The body of work he’s left us is immeasurable.
By not bowing to industry pressure and not compromising his sound or views, he’s created his own style of music, his own “coolness,” that no other artist has ever been able to duplicate.

I was lucky enough to see David Bowie at Lollapalooza in the early ’90s, performing with Nine Inch Nails. From what I recall, Bowie’s performance at Mansfield in Boston was a surprise — the crowd wasn’t expecting him. I admit I didn’t know a lot about Bowie at the time — I was too sheltered in my tiny worldview of music and didn’t understand his huge impact early on.

David Bowie

But that night, seeing him from a hundred rows back, solitary, standing still, the Thin White Duke in a long black coat, you knew with one look that he was in a class by himself, that you were in the presence of rock royalty. He commanded the crowd. It’s one of those concert memories that stays with you.

Whether it was the Jareth the Goblin King, Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, or whether you have strong feelings about the quality of “Modern Love,” Bowie owned whatever persona he embodied at that time. He stood by every decision he made, including his choice to have Blackstar be his farewell.

David-Bowie1

David Bowie arrives at the 11th annual Webby Awards at Chipriani Wall Street on June 5, 2007, in New York City.

So if you haven’t heard his music before or don’t know much about him, there’s a really good chance you’ll find a song in his catalog that you can relate to or reminisce about.

David-Bowie-vert Wartermark

That’s what made him great — his ability to reach across the aisle toward any genre he felt an attraction to. No one can really fill that void, but he’s left behind an amazing collection of music that we can turn to, to stay in touch with the weird in all of us.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Art rock, Artpop, Electro-pop, Experimental, Glam Rock, Photography, Pop, Rock, Space rock, Uncategorized

Cold Beat’s sophomore album “Into the Air” shows a band in sync

After a strong showing with their debut LP “Over Me” just last year, punk and electro-pop band Cold Beat is back with “Into the Air.”

Already, the band seems deeply in sync, a feat that could take more than a few albums for a new band to master before they can focus on pushing personal boundaries.

Bassist, vocalist and primary songwriter Hannah Lew, previously with the San Francisco surf-rock trio Grass Widow, easily carries the weight of Cold Beat’s vocals. Her strong yet angelic sound acts as a guiding light for the album’s dark points. Add the rest of the band’s playful pop/synth style, and Cold Beat can embody the punk-crossover rebellion of Blondie or the bleeding-heart shoegaze of Dum Dum Girls.

Lew’s lush voice soars throughout the album — it radiates romantic warmth, mirroring Debbie Harry’s opulent style.

Haunting, isolating melodies and moody soundscapes are what Cold Beat does best, evident in the synthwave wanderings of the instrumental “Clouds” and the drum-machine and space-rock album closer “Ashes.”

But the band can also change its attitude within a song. They build tension with a guitar clang and propulsive drumming on the protopunk “Sisters,” a song that later finds solace in a flowing melody, which was somehow there all along. Compare those textures with the brisk guitar strumming of the straightforward “Am I Dust,” or Lew’s heartbreaking indecision on “Broken Lines,” and Cold Beat’s broad versatility on “Into the Air” becomes even clearer.

The new album, “Into the Air” was on Lew’s label Crime On the Moon on Sept. 4.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dream pop, Electro-pop, Indie Rock, New Wave, Post-punk, Punk, Review, Space rock, Synth pop

Enjoy this stream of Cold Beat’s new album “Into the Air”

The punk electro-pop band Cold Beat is streaming their new album “Into the Air.” The new album, their second LP and out Sept. 4 on Crime On the Moon, shows off the group’s wide range of influences.

Strong vocals throughout, from bassist and vocalist Hanna Lew, embody the rich-sounding youth of early Blondie’s pop nuggets and that punk rock sound, as on “Broken Lines.” Lew’s voice may be the closest to Debby Harry’s as you can get, while still maintaining her own identity. Her vocals soar freely throughout the album, emitting a dreamwave warmth.

The vintage synth sound of “Am I Dust” and the ragged guitar intro and propulsive drumming of the punk-driven “Sisters” both show the band’s broad versatility on the album. They can be haunting, as on the instrumental “Clouds” and moody, on the space-rock closer “Ashes.” Through it all is Lew, who makes the whole thing sound easy. The San Francisco native‘s previous project was with the all-girl outfit Grass Widow.

Cold Beat only has a handful of tour dates, so you’ll have to head to Brooklyn to see them.

COLD BEAT NEW YORK DATES:

Fri. Sept. 18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool

Sat. Sept. 19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium

Sun. Sept. 20 – New York, NY @ Other Music (7PM)

Sun. Sept. 20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Silent Barn

Leave a comment

Filed under Dream pop, Electro-pop, Indie Rock, New Wave, Punk, Space rock, Synth pop

DJ Andrew Weatherall remixes Gwenno’s “Chwyldro”

DJ, producer and remixer Andrew Weatherall has remixed electro-pop artist Gwenno Saunder’s song “Chwyldro” off Gwenno’s recent release, “Y Dydd Olaf” (“The Last Day”).

Gwenno, who was a dancer in her youth and was formerly leader of the Pipettes, sings almost the entire album in Welsh, a language only about 500,000 people in the world speak.

gwenno Y Dydd Olaf album cover

Gwenno has also culled her new music from a 1976 sci-fi novel by Owain Owain, billing “Y Dydd Olaf” as a political-concept album. The record is, at its core, a modern, refreshing take on ‘80s electro-pop and vintage-Cure and Krautrock styles.

Weatherall, as a producer, has worked with Beth Orton and Primal Scream, as well as remixed songs by Bjork, Siousxie Sioux, New Order, My Bloody Valentine and James.

Weatherall keeps alive the astro-rock elements of the original “Chwyldro,” while transforming Gwenno’s voice to a sultry whisper in a song that’s already breathy and dreamy. Weatherall adds frantic synth notes and Indian beats that lead you into Gwenno’s peaceful vocals.

Gwenno’s “Y Dydd Olaf” is out now on Heavenly Recordings.

Listen to the Andrew Weatherall Remix:

Watch Gwenno’s psychedelic/kaleidoscopic video for “Chwyldro”:

You should also check out the vintage sound of Gwenno’s “Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki.” It moves between early Cure via their “Seventeen Seconds,” with a pulsing synthesizer wave; it’s a slower take on the likes of Berlin’s “The Metro”:

Leave a comment

Filed under Dance-Synth, Electro-pop, Kraut rock, Space rock, Synth, Synth pop