Pere Ubu's new album '20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo' opens the doors of the avant-garage to reveal the hardworking mechanics hammering away at the fundamentals of blue-collar rock. A three-guitar revision spans the state of the art for guitar-based rock in the year 2017. Keith Moliné is joined by Cleveland guitar legend Gary Siperko and Kristof Hahn in the now familiar orchestra of analog and digital synths, clarinet, drums and Thomas' unquestionably unique vocals.
It follows on from their release in 2015 of 'Carnival of Souls,' which was widely praised by the media, confounding the usual clash of critics' sensibilities, and chosen by cult series 'American Horror Story' to provide two soundtracks for characters Mordrake and Twisty, in Season 4. David Thomas says 'To my way of thinking, the new album is The James Gang teaming up with Tangerine Dream. Or something like that. The Chinese Whispers methodology we worked on the last two albums, now that everyone has gotten comfortable with it, has been replaced by the Dark Room. Put a bunch of musicians in a lightless room and by feeling one small section of an unknown object have them figure what it must be.'
It would be easy to suppose that the album is about being in a Missile Silo... in Montana... for 20 years or so, but this is Pere Ubu and they're not about to make things easy. Thomas confirms, 'I wanted to call it 'Bruce Springsteen is an Asshole,' then changed that to 'Robert DeNiro Is An Asshole,' then decided maybe that wasn't a good idea either. It's not my job to explain.' The album was recorded and mixed at Suma, Painesville Ohio. Engineer Paul Hamann, and his father before him, have been part of almost every Pere Ubu album since 1976. Thomas and Hamann have explored innumerable production methods over the years, establishing the unique Ubu sound that pre-dated punk and still stands proud of the forced genre defined clichés of the music world.
Over the years, Kristof Hahn had become a regular visitor to the Ubu dressing room during his time-off touring with The Swans. He was given access to the songs from the new album as works-in-progress. "I was just listening to 'The Healer' again today and it gave me goosebumps," he wrote to Thomas. "The whole album sounds amazing already, I would be really proud to be part of it, however small my part might be." He was brought on board immediately. The touring arm of Pere Ubu will be heading out on tour with the new album later this year; first-off in the USA, with a full European tour and further USA dates in 2018.
Known the world over as a vocalist, songwriter, and founding member of the one and only B-52s, Cindy Wilson has made a truly extraordinary solo debut with her new CHANGE (Kill Rock Stars). The album – which arrives just in time to celebrate the legendary singer’s fortieth anniversary in the musical spotlight – marks a milestone for Wilson, abounding with pop creativity, ingenious production, confident songcraft, and deeply felt emotion.
“This music is beautiful,” she says. “And I love beautiful.”
CHANGE began for Wilson nearly a decade ago upon her part-time return to her hometown of Athens, GA. She first encountered local musician Ryan Monahan when his Beatles tribute band was hired to play her son’s birthday party – “One of the best parties ever,” says Wilson. The veteran vocalist and talented young musician began teaming up for gigs, beginning with R.E.M.’s star-studded 30th anniversary event.
“Ryan and drummer Lemuel Hayes and I put together a few songs and it was fantastic,” Wilson says. “That started our own musical relationship.”
Wilson and her new bandmates continued performing together, first playing classic garage and psychedelic covers but ultimately deciding to create new music all their own. They hit the studio in 2014, with local producer-musician Suny Lyons manning the board. The songs and sonic concepts flowed like the Broad River, leading Wilson to invite Lyons to join her fast developing combo.
“We went to Suny’s studio to kick around ideas and see if we can do anything interesting,” Wilson says. “We wanted to see how our styles would blend. He comes from a totally different place than I do but I was great. It also became immediately clear we had to bring Suny in to be part of the band, he also had wonderful ideas. I had a really great team.”
Backed by her gifted collaborators, Wilson developed a distinctive sound that is both utterly contemporaneous and also rooted in her long history of kaleidoscopic pop reinvention. A pair of EPs – SUNRISE and SUPERNATURAL – introduced the world to Wilson’s modern vision, with both EPs acclaimed by PopMatters for possessing “an undeniable sense of adventure.”
Produced by Lyons at The Space Station in Athens, CHANGE is as bold as anything in Wilson’s groundbreaking four decade canon, melding future pop, disco drama, American standards, electronica, and more into her own distinctive creative vision. New songs like “Mystic” and the transformative title track are intricate and inventive, lush and luminous with strings, synthesizers, harmonies, and Wilson’s utterly distinct vocal magic.
“Our sound is both consistent and still evolving,” Wilson says. “All these ingredients come together from left field to create something really interesting.”
Further album highlights include a pair of unexpected covers: a widescreen orchestral rendition of New Colony Six’s soft rock classic, “Things I’d Like to Say,” and “Brother,” written and originally performed by Athens’ own beloved Oh-OK.