Tag Archives: night school records

The Sum of Molly Nilsson’s “Imaginations” are a Revelation

Molly Nilsson, Imaginations (Night School/Dark Skies Association)


“On and on/some things are stopping us from proving them wrong/when they tell you the skies are grey/but looking through a glass of rosé/the skies are clearly pink”

Molly Nilsson is a musician/vocalist/producer originally hailing from Stockholm but now based in Berlin.  Imaginations is her seventh full-length release (to go with a few EPs and singles).

Throwback 80s signifiers abound on Imaginations, but it doesn’t feel derivative.  Rather, it’s an absolutely mesmerizing collection of pop music that’s only ‘indie’ in the sense that it’s likely far too interesting to be played on commercial radio.

Much of 80s popular culture – music, film, video – depicted the accumulation, loss and/or showing off of stuff – status as a means of seduction.  Having lived through it, I know there was depth there for those who sought it out, but such is the collective remembrance that much of what is retained is the Rolex, the Armani suit, the several car garage as the means to whatever end.  Much of what makes Imagination’s use of many of the musical signposts of this indulgence is their contrast when applied to a modern reality derived, in part, from their consequences.  Songs like “Inner Cities”, “Money Never Dreams” and “Think Pink” feel Springsteenian in their uplifting portraiture of the realities of everyday life, but without teetering into mawkish platitude (pay attention, Killers).  Elsewhere, tracks like opener, “Tender Surrender”, “Memory Foam” and “American Express” exude enough Avalon worthy swank and sultriness to make a pro blush.  But where the suavity of the saxy sax and the glassy chords can often ring hollow, marrying it to Nilsson’s at times raw, often wry, lyricism makes it genuine.  Here, the personal is political, either by encouraging a change of perspective on the grey “inner cities of our lives” by “looking through a glass of rosé” (“Think Pink”), or eschewing ‘champagne, caviar and bubble baths’ for “McDonald’s in bed” (“American Express”).

This is what makes Imaginations so enticing – it’s icy, cool-as-fuck pop veneer belying a warmth, a humanity (Book of Love, a personal fave from back when, was brought to mind).  It’s pop music that likely won’t be anywhere near as popular as it should be.  Borrowing from the title of a track from Nilsson’s 2010’s album, Follow the Light, these are songs they won’t be playing on the radio.  But they should, damn it, they should.

Imaginations is out now, courtesy of the fantastic Night School label and Nilsson’s own Dark Skies Association.  Tour dates are up on Nilsson’s fbook page.

Highlights include: “Memory Foam”; “Tender Surrender”; “Think Pink”; “Modern World”.

“Paradise”, from Glasgow’s AMOR, is a Joy.

AMOR, Paradise 12″ (Night School)

“Calling from paradise/can you get through?”

AMOR is a Glasgow-based quartet comprising Richard Youngs, Luke Fowler, Michael Francis Duch and Paul Thomson – musicians with CVs as long as yer arm.  Their 12″ single, Paradise features an a- and b-side of over 13 minutes:  each summoning late-period disco/early house with the kind of propulsive emotional stamina worthy of an extended Larry Levan workout; each a rapturous hymn performed in a glitter-covered cathedral.

The a-side, title track begins with hand drums accenting a generous, four-on-the-floor beat; a cantering, two-note bassline turning rubbery and new(ly) romantic as it’s joined by ever more insistent, ringing piano chords.  The lyrics set a meditative mood (‘all that this is/is interconnected…all that we know/is misunderstood’), Youngs’ delicate, quavering tenor to falsetto reminding these ears of the Blue Nile’s Paul Buchanan.  The flip, “In Love an Arc”, also takes time to reveal itself fully, beginning with abstract bowing and thumping before coalescing into another glorious soul-house revival show, a churning, relentless rhythm seeing the titular declaration through to the end.  Get me to the church, on time.

Paradise is set for release March 31, courtesy of Night School; pre-order here. You can stream both tracks over at The Vinyl Factory.

“The Pressure”, Roxanne Clifford’s New Single As Patience, Is a New Wave-Inflected Jewel Box

The "Jewel Box", a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross - see what we did there?

The “Jewel Box”, a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross – see what we did there?

Patience, “The Pressure” (Night School, 9/30/2016)

Patience is the musical alter ego of Roxanne Clifford, formerly the lead singer of – amongst others – the underrated Veronica Falls.  Following on the spring release of debut single “The Church”, her new single is “The Pressure”, and it’s a glorious, new wave-inflected tune recalling Yaz(oo) and early Depeche Mode (think Speak and Spell).  So, basically Vince Clarke, I guess.

Whatever the source material, the song itself is a gem.  Starting with the sound of a receiver tuning – back to the future? (Ed:  ok, stop now) – Clifford’s lightly maudlin voice encourages an ardent former love (and/or, perhaps, herself) to “move on” from the past, while crystalline multi-layered vocal and synthesizer melodies punch shafts of light through the clouds.  It’s enough to make you want to stretch out and twirl ‘round, and it’s fantastic.

“The Pressure”, together with its b-side “Wait for You” (a Roky Erickson cover), is due September 30 on the excellent Night School Records (UK home of CC Dust).  Find out more about Patience here, here and, inevitably, there.  There’s also a great interview with Clifford over at Brooklyn Vegan that’s worth a read.

New Music: CC Dust, Never Going to Die

CC Dust, “Never Going to Die” (Perennial/Night School)

CC Dust is a project involving MaryJane Dunphy, lead singer of frabjulicious Olympia, WA punk band Vexx, and David Jacques.  With “Never Going to Die”, she brings the energy and passion of that band from the pit to the dance floor.

Dunphy here sounds a bit like a combo of Alison Moyet and Lene Lovich, croon-whooping over a long lost 4AD track, with Jacques weaving a Hooky baseline.  The deep echo and reverb overlay on the bass and vintage-sounding programmed beats cloak the song’s glistening new wave bedrock in a bit of a goth and early industrial chill – whatever you want to call it, it’s a well-crafted track as good for dancing to as it is for just being with.

As it is with Vexx, Dunphy’s voice inhabits the song.  Moving from gutteral to delicate and back, it’s physicality caroms around, over and through the melody in a way similar to Dunphy’s live presence (check the video below), further animating the already dramatic arrangement.

Recorded last year, “Never Going to Die” is taken from a forthcoming, 5 track 12” ep, due soon(?) from Perennial (US – preorder here) and Night School (Europe).  Speaking of Europe, CC Dust is playing dates therein (venues included where I could find).

June

5 – Osramhuset, Copenhagen (DK)
7 – Hamburg (DE)
8 – De Gym, Groningen (NL)
9 – Butcher’s Tears, Amsterdam (NL)
10 – Au Picolo, Paris (FR)
11 – DIY Space, London (UK)
12 – Hope & Ruin, Brighton (UK)
13 – Undertone, Cardiff (UK)
14 – Tenterhooks, Dublin (IRE) 
15 – Barcelona, Sala Almo2Bar (SP)
18 – Valencia (SP)
19 – Logroño (SP)
21 – Leeds (UK)
22 – The Poetry Club, Glasgow (UK)
23 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London (UK)
24 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester (UK)
25 – Berlin (DE)
27 – Klub Famu, Prague (CZ)