Tag Archive | "Mark Eitzel"

Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

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Woodpigeon – TROUBLE

Posted on 09 March 2016 by Joe

Last time we saw Mark Andrew Hamilton, aka Woodpigeon, he was supporting Mark Eitzel at the Fleece in Bristol. It was just him, his beard, a heavy knit jumper, a guitar and his beautiful vocals. It was a solid set by a support act but no more than that.

Unknown to the audience at the time this was no ordinary tour of the UK for this Canadian singer songwriter. His relationship was ending and he was left fragile and distraught. What followed was an extended break from music as he took on the role of traveller, moving across the globe on a journey of both introspection and enthusiasm for the world, both good and bad.

Woodpigeon at The Fleece, Bristol (Mar 3, 2013)

Woodpigeon at The Fleece, Bristol (Mar 3, 2013) – pic by Joe Lepper

Travelling for two years across Europe, Canada and South America he experienced rioting in Istanbul and the longest break he’d had from music since he began writing in 2005. Given so many of his previous songs had been about the joy of love, to go through this messy break up effectively cut off his inspiration for much of this period.

This is the album that emerged from that time. It is not only the best he has made but arguably a contender for album of the year. Quite simply, it’s got the lot, in particular the crushingly sad backstory of a break up that became a new inspiration for Hamilton. Anyone who has heard Bjork’s epic Vulnicura will know how the loss of love can transform a songwriter.

It’s also got great production. It’s subtle with much made of the rhythm section of Colin Edward Cowan on bass and Daniel Gaucher on percussion. As with The Mountain Goats’ drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Peter Hughes the combination of Gaucher and Cowan also give a quality songwriter’s songs added emotion. The bullet like snare on Whole Body Shakes and funky but doom-laden bass bring to mind both the plastic bullets firing across the streets of Istanbul and the messy break up that sent him on this journey.

woodpigeon

The press release gives us a “less is more” cliché about the production, but in this case it is true. This focus on rhythm backed by sweet electric guitar picking with the occasional cello or piano accompaniment gives more power to these songs than any orchestra could rustle up.

The songs themselves are also beautiful, full of that introspective heartbreak that Sufjan Stevens does so well. It also leaves questions unanswered, such as on Faithful. Is it him or his former partner that was unfaithful? Perhaps both, perhaps neither? Meanwhile, on Canada there’s a genuine pop song here. This is uplifting and while positioned at track four could easily be the last track as the songwriter finally finds peace in his new home, which at the time of writing was in Vancouver.

Three years ago seems such a long time ago when looking at how far Hamilton has come both emotionally and as an artist in a journey that has transformed him from a solid support act for Mark Eitzel, to conjuring up an album to rival the quality of the former American Music Club man himself.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Woodpigeon – TROUBLE is released on April 1. More details here.

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Mark Eitzel and Woodpigeon (The Fleece, Bristol, Mar 3, 2013)

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Mark Eitzel and Woodpigeon (The Fleece, Bristol, Mar 3, 2013)

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Joe

Mark Eitzel, the former frontman with American Music Club, has just come to the end of a two month tour to promote last year’s album Don’t Be A Stranger.

But like Peter Ustinov or Kenneth Williams on a 70s chat show, Eitzel is part of a bygone era  of entertainers that don’t really need the excuse of a new release to pack out venues like Bristol’s The Fleece. His admirers come for the timeless, tall tales that pour out of this wonderful, dishevelled Californian, whose sets are full to the brim with stories of his drug, sex and booze fuelled past and the tragic everyman in his native San Francisco.

Mark Eitzel

Mark Eitzel

Dressed tonight, which is the very last night of the tour, in shabby cord jacket with holes under the arms, once smart black trousers, cloth cap and greying white converse, he was in fine mood as he  crooned and chatted away through a funny and life affirming set backed by double bass, piano and drums.

Among the humour was his revelation that last time he was at The Fleece he spent time in the dressing room covering his face in deli meat, “that was cut in the shape of bears.”  He also gave the audience a full run down of the inspiration for each song, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. From his rebuttal of a drug dealer’s “bowl of powder,” his ability to clear a room at a party and the sad tale of the acid frazzled woman who, bare chested, is thrown out of a bar full of people who refuse to help her, he takes the audience straight into the disgusting, chaotic world he has inhabited.

Mark Eitzel

Mark Eitzel

Self deprecation is another aspect of his set, stopping during The Dead Part Of You to tell us that the line “what’s the price of your soul” is a “fucking stupid line.” He does it endearingly though; with the appearance of a man who has looked his demons straight in the eye, poured them a drink and gradually brought them on side. Who else can get away with singing a song such as Why I’m Bullshit, from 2009’s album Klamath, with such dignity?

Tonight there was no Johnny Mathis Feet, the most famous track from his American Music Club days, but that didn’t matter when he was able to call on the quality of tracks such as Don’t Be A Stranger’s I Love You But You’re Dead’ and Apology For An Accident, from the 1993 American Music Club album Mercury.

Among the many highlights was his tongue in cheek angry denial that he always writes songs about clowns. “I’ve only written one,” he laughingly admitted. Another was the tragic tale of a male stripper in Patriot’s Heart, from Love Songs For Patriots, the 2003 comeback American Music Club album.

Aside from the banter his voice is immediately striking. Beautiful is quite simply the only word that does it justice as he shuffled nervously across the stage, hand on heart, eyes closed, belting these wonderful, often confessional songs out. If you’ve never seen Eitzel live you are missing out.

Woodpigeon

Woodpigeon

Support tonight was from Woodpigeon, aka Canadian Mark Andrew Hamilton. Dressed in chunky knit jumper, with soft vocals and beard he is gradually winning his battle of jumping out of the shadow of Bon Iver’s debut For Emma Forever Ago. His voice is far sweeter than Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and he put in a short but captivating set in which he also found time to pay tribute to a Bristol gig legend ‘Big’ Jeff, who complete in giant blond afro was at the front as he so often is at gigs in the city, losing himself in the music.

The Wires

Wires

Also supporting was Bristol duo Wires, who tread a thin line between being cool indie hispters  and a decidedly uncool Extreme unplugged tribute band. I’m undecided on the evidence of a couple of songs which way they will fall, but I hope it’s the former.

 by Joe Lepper

 

 

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Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be A Stranger

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Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be A Stranger

Posted on 30 September 2012 by Dorian

Mark Eitzel has never been famous for the cheery nature of his songs, and following the second break-up of American Music Club and a heart attack in 2011 there is nothing to suggest a lifting of his mood on his first solo album in three years. Indeed, given the lack of commercial success for his solo work, and his recent addition on a list in a second hand record shop of artists that shop staff shouldn’t buy, you’d be forgiven for expecting a statement of defeat here. So it is a surprise to find this to be one of the most positive sounding albums of his solo career to date.

Mark Eitzel - Don't Be A Stranger

This positivity may not be evident to listeners from the lyrics on the album, from the opening track ‘I Love You But You’re Dead’ the subjects are pretty dark and stark. This may seem like normal service from Eitzel but the arrangements are so breezy and light that the overarching mood is one where he is enjoying singing and recording these songs. Recent interviews have suggested some financial good fortune enabling the recording and an acceptance that he will never be a successful recording artist. This seems to have removed some weight from his shoulders and the result is one of his most enjoyable sets of songs in years.

American Music Club fans looking for any rough edged guitar are going to be disappointed, this is a loungey album throughout  but the playing and arrangements are consistently strong. The picked guitar and strings on ‘The Bill Is Due’ may be one of his prettiest compositions to date, complimented by his distinctive soulful vocals.

If the album has one weakness it is that there is not enough variety in the sound, the very clean arrangements walking a fine line between smoothness and blandness at times. There are just enough distinctive arrangements to break up the album however, and the piano and vocals only arrangement of ‘We All Have To Find Our Own Way Out’ may just be the albums masterpiece.

Eitzel is one of the great singers and songwriters of his generation, one who doesn’t get enough credit for excellent back catalogue. Don’t Be A Stranger is his most accessible recording for years and deserves a bigger audience than I expect it will get.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Mark Eitzel – We All Have To Find Our Own Way Out

Posted on 15 September 2012 by Dorian

Mark Eitzel plays ‘We All Have To Find Our Own Way Out’ at The Palmeira in Hove on Saturday 8th September 2012.

 

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Mark Eitzel live at The Palmeira, Hove, 8th September 2012

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Mark Eitzel live at The Palmeira, Hove, 8th September 2012

Posted on 15 September 2012 by Dorian

American Music Club were one of the great bands of the late 80’s/early 90s to come out of America, Mercury and Everclear are two of the best albums recorded during the 1990s. The band’s singer and songwriter, Mark Eitzel, has continued to release excellent underrated albums since their demise (excepting a five year reunion period) and has a new album out later this month. As such it seems wrong somehow that one of his only two UK dates is on a makeshift stage in the corner of a pub in Hove.

Small Town Jones

Small Town Jones

However, what this does mean is that those that have bought tickets for the sell-out show get treated to a wonderfully intimate show with one of the most unique performers in modern music.

Up first is Small Town Jones, a North Devon band who are signed to the record label of the evening’s promoters, Brighthelmstone Promotions. The band have a warm sound with a pleasant country feel and the vocals and guitar playing are accomplished. The duo set-up suits the songs, but does lead to a slightly samey feel after a while with the mid-tempo tunes crying out for a bit more variety. I’ll be looking them up to hear their recordings and would definitely check them out again to see them in full band format.

Up next, shuffling nervously on to the stage is the man himself, accompanied only by a keyboard player so he can perform in “the lounge style”. The familiar hat and beard frame the face of a man who seems happy and relaxed despite his typically nervy overall demeanour.

Mark Eitzel

Mark Eitzel

The set is predominantly based around his more recent solo material with typically upbeat titles like ‘Why I’m Bullshit’ (from 2009’s Klamath) and ‘I Love You But You’re Dead’ (from the forthcoming Don’t Be A Stranger) sounding wonderful in the intimate and low-key environment.

Eitzel live, especially when not with a full band, is as much a confessional stand-up show as it is a musical performance. The stories that come between songs are a part of the experience and are often as hilarious as they are sad. He is perhaps even more self-deprecating than he was the last time I saw him, at the Pavement ATP festival in 2010.

Later in the set we are treated to a few numbers from his American Music Club back catalogue including a typically passionate ‘Patriot’s Heart’ (from their come-back album Love Songs For Patriots) and ‘I’ve Been A Mess’ from the brilliant Mercury. These songs sounding just as good arranged for c]=vocals and keyboard as they did with the full band on record.

At the end of the show Eitzel reluctantly (after a couple of false starts and trying to leave the stage at least once) finishes with a Barbara Streisand cover, Streisand being the subject of an earlier anecdote. It is a slightly strange end to a an exceptional evening of music from one of the unsung heroes of American recording.

Eitzel has no more UK gigs planned, but US based readers can see him play one of 11 gigs scheduled from November through to January.

Watch Mark Eitzel get style advice from Billy B, style consultant and makeup artist for Lady Gaga here.

 By Dorian Rogers

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September Preview

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September Preview

Posted on 04 September 2012 by Dorian

This is the first of a new monthly feature where we preview the best music releases and events in the coming month. Items marked with an * are currently scheduled for review on the site.

Albums

Album of the month: Cat Power – Sun*

Chan Marshal returns with her first album of new material for six years. The sound has moved away from the soul-pop of The Greatest and has more in common with her 2003 release You Are Free. The album has a modern feel with a focus on studio production techniques and features guest appearances from  Iggy Pop and Judah Bauer. Out now.

Cat Power - Sun

Cat Power – Sun

3rd September

Animal Collective – Centipede Hz

Deerhoof – Breakup Song*

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

Various – Metronomy: Late Night Tales (Read our review)

10th September

The XX – Coexist

David Byrne & St.Vincent – Love This Giant

Calexico – Algiers*

Racehorses – Furniture*

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Throw It To The Universe

17th September

Grizzly Bear – Shields*

Jim Noir – Jimmy’s Show*

Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Meat & Bone*

Menomena – Moms

24th September

Efterklang – Piramidia*

Mark Eitzel – Don’t Be A Stranger*

Yoko One with Thurston moore and Kim Gordon – Yokokimthurston

Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You

Gigs and tours

Tour of the month: Allo Darlin’

Allo Darlin’ play a string of dates this month with a set drawing strongly from their excellent recent album Europe:

  • 4 Sep Fleece, Bristol*
  • 5 Sep Star & Shadow Cinema, Newcastle
  • 6 Sep Queens Social Club, Sheffield
  • 7 Sep Deaf Institute, Manchester
  • 8 Sep Kazimier, Liverpool
  • 9 Sep Blackburn Art College, Blackburn  1.45PM SHOW / ALL AGES
  • 10 Sep Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
  • 12 Sep The Haunt, Brighton
  • 13 Sep King’s College, London
Allo Darlin'

Allo Darlin’

Former American Music Club singer Mark Eitzel plays just two gigs in the UK:

Sat 8th Sep – The Palmeira, Hove*

Sun 9th Sep – SXSC Festival 2012, the Railway Inn/The Attic, Winchester.

El-P – The ATP promoted hip-hop act plays a short UK tour:

  • London Scala on Wednesday 12th September
  • Brighton The Haunt on Thursday 13th September
  • Birmingham The Rainbow Warehouse on Saturday 15th September
  • Bristol The Fleece on Sunday 16th September
  • Manchester Academy 3 on Monday 17th September

Grandaddy – Tuesday 4th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Deer Tick – Wednesday 5th September, Scala London

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard – Thursday 6th September, The Haunt Brighton

The XX – Monday 10th September, Sheperds Bush Empire London

Jens Lekman – Wednesday 19th September, The Ruby Lounge Manchester

Dexys – Saturday 22nd September, Colston Hall Bristol

Festivals

The festival season is almost over, and with cancellations, abandonment’s and wash-outs it has not been a vintage year. However, there are still a couple of interesting festivals left that could prove the perfect end to the Summer.

Playgroup Festival, 213ts to 23rd September, Eridge Park – This festival has already moved once this year due to flooding on the beautiful Eridge Park site, so some late September sun would be welcome for the rescheduled dates. Expect fancy dress, games and an eclectic range of music – the theme this year is ‘Lost Toys’. http://www.playgroupfestival.com/

Playgroup Festival

Playgroup Festival

Festival No.6, 14th to 16th September, Portmeirion – A new face on the festival scene, Festival No.6 promises a interesting mix of live music, DJs, comedy and arts at the unique Welsh venue. Acts include Gruff Rhys, Field Music, King Creosote and the Wave Pictures, with New order, Primal Scream and Spiritualized headlining. http://www.festivalnumber6.com

Other stuff

Last Shop Standing, 10th September – Last Shop Standing is a film, released on DVD, that looks at the rise and fall of the record shop in the UK since 1960. Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr and Nerina Pallot contribute to a fascinating film that explores the role of the record shop and considers whether they will survive in the modern music climate. http://lastshopstanding.com/

Last Shop Standing

Last Shop Standing

To get your album/gig/tour/film/book/festival/t-shirt included in our monthly preview please send details to dorian@neonfiller.com.

By Dorian Rogers

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