Bells Atlas - the mystic Vinyl+Shirt+Sticker (PRE-ORDER)
Listen to the song "Belly"Get a limited edition “the mystic” t-shirt when you pre-order a physical copy of the album! (releases 4/19)
*EXCLUDED FROM DISCOUNTS
- 1. Hazelwood
2. Rogue Dream
3. The Khamsa
4. We've Been Here Before
7. The Mystic
8. First Gen Pisces
9. Na Change / See Clear
10. Final Ceiling
- Bells Atlas’ latest offering the mystic digs further into their soulful buoyancy to explore both sound and storytelling. Sandra Lawson-Ndu, Douglas Stuart, Geneva Harrison, and Derek Barber stumbled upon a new, more production-oriented process for songwriting-- which included sampling grainy phone recordings-- that elevates Bells Atlas’ already unique approach to psychedelic R&B. The spontaneity of the mystic’s creative process results in a raw, cosmic sound that is mirrored in its lyrics. The record can be seen as sci-fi fantasy of two first-generation Nigerian American women coming to terms with a mental health diagnosis, and at the same time, a very universal exploration of how we make sense of reality. “It’s about a truth seer and a skeptic trying to make sense of what’s mystical and what’s clinical,” frontwoman Sandra Lawson-Ndu says. The listener is made to consider the possibility of magic. Is it possible, for instance, that someone who navigates the world differently may have a deeper understanding of the universe? The mystic is a spectrum of deep emotionality, impulse, and even humour; a tool to explore the full dimension of our reality.
Listen to the song "Cuatro Crazy"
Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet.
The record exists in the post-2016 landscape of a national identity crisis, and Mendoza explores what it means to be a Mexican American woman by leading us through places we are afraid to go. Mujeres ventures in to the discomfort of the stories we tell ourselves. Those of our past, our futures. We all have these stories somewhere inside of us, but with Y La Bamba, Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism.
“Music is an extension of everything I have inside. It’s how I emote,” Mendoza says. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral, spiritual journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. Mendoza’s experience of childhood summers in the San Joaquin Valley listening to mariachi, of being raised strict Catholic by immigrant parents, of being a woman having to prove herself to the boys, paints strokes of both melancholy and healing on the tracks. “From the way that my family struggles, to the way they shoot the shit… it’s so different from whiteness,” Mendoza says. “It’s a different dimension.”
Y La Bamba exists in the dimension of the Mexican American imagination: somewhere cynical and optimistic at the same time. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without tokenization? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story.
Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.
Bio written by Eliza Cossio
- 1. My Death
2. Real Talk
3. Cuatro Crazy
5. Lightning Storms
7. Boca Llena
10. Una Letra
11. Santa Sal
12. Bruja de Brujas
13. Follow Your Feet
14. De Lejos (Digital only bonus track)
Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet. Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without being tokenized? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story. Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.
Bio written by Eliza Cossio
Salt and Soap
Listen to the song "Downpour"Soulful noise pop, inspired, propellent psych pop… Trying to nail down the sound of Bells Atlas is a bit like narrating the inner workings of a kaleidoscope – where it's more about tripping out than nailing it down.
- 1. Overshare
3. I Do Remain
4. The Mystic
- A surreal blend of r&b, psychedelia, jazz, and pop, rooted in the cultural bellwether of Oakland, CA, Bells Atlas has supported a number of international artists and shared the stage with acts such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, Angélique Kidjo and more. They have also been making a name for themselves nationally as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgment since 2016, and recently wrapped up a sold-out tour supporting Bermuda Triangle, side-project of Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard. Channeling at once the ramshackle lo-fi beats of Tune-Yards and the sighing lullabies of Sade, Bells is like the passing bubbles of an unknown aquatic life-form, music percolates from depths untaken, playing in a deep blue pool of life, death and the fluid in-between.
The Right Time
Listen to the song "Vibrations"It’s one thing to make a 60’s throwback record. It’s another thing to have been there in real-time singing backup alongside legends Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and James Brown, to name a few. In the case of 78 year old Ural Thomas, it’s never too late to find The Right Time.
- 1. Slow Down
2. No Distance (Between You & Me)
4. You Care Very Little
5. Smoldering Fire
6. The Right Time
7. Gotta Say (I Love You
9. Show Ya
10. Eenie Meenie
- If life was at all fair Ural Thomas would be a household name, his music slotted into countless sweet, seductive mixtapes between James Brown, Otis Redding, and Stevie Wonder (all of whom Thomas has performed with.) Straddling the line between hot soul shouter and velvety-smooth crooner, Thomas released a few singles in the late 60’s and early 70’s; most notably “Can You Dig It”, which featured backing vocals from soul luminaries Merry Clayton, Mary Wells and Brenda Holloway. Thomas played over forty shows at the legendary Apollo Theater before turning his back on an unkind business and heading home to Portland, OR. It goes without saying that a man practically built out of rhythm would never stop playing music. Thomas began hosting a regular Sunday night jam session at his home that ran for nearly twenty years. A de facto mentor to many of the younger players, Thomas reminds us all that “If you care about what you’re doing, you need to build those muscles and do the work. Don’t get discouraged, do it for love. Even if you’re digging ditches, do it with passion.” In 2014, local soul DJ Scott Magee sat in on drums. The two became fast friends and at Magee’s urging Thomas decided to give his musical career another shot. Magee became the musical director, they put together a band, and in 2016 released a self-titled album on Mississippi Records. In 2017 Thomas signed with Tender Loving Empire and began work on what, in many respects, will be his debut full length. Diving deep into lifetime of melodic creativity, Thomas and his band got to work. Recorded in Magee’s studio Arthur’s Attic, The Right Time features the air-tight work of Magee on drums, percussion, and backing vocals, Bruce Withycombe (The Decemberists) on baritone sax, Portland jazz scene fixture Brent Martens on guitars and vibraphone, Arcellus Sykes on bass, Steve Aman (Lady Rizo) on piano and organ, Dave Monnie on trumpet, Willie Matheis (Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) on tenor sax, and Jasine Rimmel, Joy Pearson, Sarah King, Rebecca Marie Miller on backing vocals. The Arco Quartet performed the strings, and the record was engineered and mixed by Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Blitzen Trapper) and mastered by JJ Golden (Sharon Jones, Ty Segall). One might think after a sizeable taste of early success Thomas would be more than a touch bitter – yet the opposite is true. “We have to be positive if we want the world to get better” Thomas advises. “We’ve come a long way, but if you carry a grudge with the whole world you’ll stop your growth. We’re a family, all just brothers and sisters, descendants of Adam. You can’t get anywhere without an open heart.” A developing artist at nearly eighty years old, for Thomas music has always been about bringing people together. “If we play for twenty people we cook it like it’s twenty thousand” says Thomas. “If we make someone smile we’re satisfied. They’re ain’t no difference between us. It’s all love and brotherhood. If folks listen to my record and feel that I’ll feel very blessed.” Standing in bold defiance of the idea that aging is a reason to slow down and stop living, for Thomas the right time to get down is the next time someone plugs in a guitar or puts on a record. Ural is ready – are you?
Friends and Friends of Friends Vol 11
Only available on CD!Friends & Friends of Friends is an annual compilation of music curated by Tender Loving Empire. We collect submissions from our friends and (as the compilation title might suggest) from their friends. We request specific songs that we love and include our favorite jams from bands on our own record label. The result is a collection of songs that is by far the best grouping of music that we’ve ever been able to put in one place at one time.
1. Ural Thomas & The Pain - Vibrations
2. Chanti Darling - Pillow Talk
3. The Seshen - Right Here
4. Vibe Mosaic ft. Mari QM - Why
5. Bells Atlas - Be Brave
6. Dreckig - Leipzig
7. EPP - Come My Way
8. Orquestra Pacifico Tropical - Mujer Santísima
9. Y La Bamba - Se Escucha
10. Typhoon - Remember
11. Brette Irish - Static
12. DoublePlusGood - Honest Man
13. Sweeping Exits - Teachers
14. Husky Boys - Boys Like Ryan
15. Rad Max - Big Trouble in Little Caesars
16. Deathlist - High Beams
17. Tancred - Queen of New York
18. The Fourth Wall - When I Lose Everything
19. Tough Boy - The Surface
20. Water Wolfman Washington - Save Your Love for Me
1. Slow Corpse - Cruel
2. Water Slice - This Way
3. The Family Crest - Take Tonight
4.Kuinka - Curious Hands
5. SISTERS - Queer Life
6. Frankie Simone - Love/Warrior
7. Gabe Fleck - Colder Shoulders
8. Why These Coyotes - Dance Around the Fire
9. Dan Dan - Broken Mirror
10. Paper Gates - Dekum Blues
11. Night Heron - What Do You See
12. The Fur Coats - We Live
13. Ryan Oxford - Fa Fa Fa Fired
14. Branson Anderson - Vegas
15. MAITA - Japanese Waitress
16. Mega Pacific - You & Me
17. Shy Boys - Something Sweet
18. Cape Francis - 5 in the Morning
19. Andrea Gibson - About the Weather
20. Abbey Hendrix - You Sir
21. Shook Twins - Safe
- The players: Ural Thomas & The Pain, Chanti Darling, The Seshen,Vibe Mosaic ft. Mari QM, Bells Atlas, Dreckig, EPP, Orquestra Pacifico Tropical, Y La Bamba, Typhoon, Brette Irish, DoublePlusGood, Sweeping Exits, Husky Boys, Rad Max, Deathlist, Tancred, The Fourth Wall, Tough Boy, Water Wolfman Washington, Slow Corpse, Water Slice, The Family Crest, Kuinka, Frankie Simone, Gabe Fleck, Why These Coyotes, Dan Dan, Paper Gates, Night Heron, The Fur Coats, Ryan Oxford, Branson Anderson, MAITA, Mega Pacific, Shy Boys, Capoe Francis, Andrea Gibson, Abbey Hendrix, Shook Twins.
RNB Vol. 1
Listen to the song "St*rs"“THE RNB is a type of place that exists in another plane. It’s another dimension. A place beyond dreaming that is the totality of your highest vibration. All the rest though… is just mundane.”
- 1. Boogie.503
2. Casual (feat. The Last Artful, Dodgr)
4. Running (feat. Natasha Kmeto)
5. Grab Onto Me
7. On The Fly (Nu Jck)
8. Pillow Talk
9. Who's Cruising Who
10. Wake Up The Night
- Chanticleer Trü would like you to know that “RNB ain’t no joke.” As frontman of Portland, OR retrofuturist electro-soul adepts Chanti Darling, Trü drinks deeply from the sacred founts of Disco, Boogie Funk, and the dizzying universe of house music. Teasing out the essential filaments, Trü weaves a sound that nods to the past as it blasts into the future; urgent, irresistible, and absolutely of the moment. Raised on a steady diet of jazz, soul, and his mom’s Boogie Funk collection (he started leading vocal groups at age ten), multi-instrumentalist Trü studied opera, musical theater, and composition. Naturally drawn to the primal energy of the club scene, Trü first made a name for himself as a performer, promoter, and DJ. “I was always drawn to the power of music to make people dance” says Trü. “There’s some innate, ritualistic pre-human thing within us, engrained on our DNA. The metaphysical combination of melodies, rhythms, lyrics and ideas; it’s what our very consciousness is made of. It is creation itself.” To aid him on his pilgrimage, spreading the gospel of RNB, Trü turned to fellow sonic wizards Natasha Kmeto and Damon Boucher. “Natasha and I have lots of conversations about unsung heroes of popular music” explains Trü “RNB musicians that don’t get the shine that they deserve because they are women, or black, or queer. Then a blonde haired blue-eyed dude from someplace trendy literally “borrows” from this genre and all the sudden RNB is cool. No. It’s never not been cool.” Written over three years and recorded in Portland, Oregon at Zip Zap and Eyrst studios, the record features numerous collaborations with producer Boucher and Kmeto. While some of the songs were written in the studio, much of the music was refined during the bands already legendary live shows. No doubt dazzling choreographers and dancers The Step Touches – the only constant in the Chanti Darling lineup apart from Trü – have helped build the legend with their epic performances. Early in the project, Trü put together a band that included Hannah Blilie of The Gossip and Rebecca Cole of Wild Flag. “It’s amazing to be able to develop ideas in a live setting,” Trü tells us. “A lot of these songs started from live instrumentation and were then translated through digital production.” In fact, the bulk of the music – apart from the drum programming – was tracked live. Aesthetically, Chanti Darling melds 80’s retro-futurist iconography with a late-night summertime vibe; THE RNB is a place of neon lights and palm fronds, washed in the pastels of dusk and dawn. Together, Chanti Darling is undeniable and immersive. This has not gone unnoticed in the Pacific Northwest – and beyond. Voted Portland’s “Best New Band” in a poll held by Willamette Week, the band has already performed at the Pickathon, Treefort, and What The Festival events, played a host of shows with Hercules & Love Affair, been featured in Vice and Dope, and shared the stage with NAO as part of Red Bull Sound Select This record is built upon a sort of string theory of RNB sounds” says Trü. “THE RNB is a type of place that exists in another plane. It’s another dimension. A place beyond dreaming that is the totality of your highest vibration. All the rest though… is just mundane.” One of the timeless, primary allures of music has been the ability to lose oneself within it, and with RNB Vol.1 Chanti Darling has crafted a sonic totem, imbued with the power to transport the listener to a place of hip-shaking, sweaty freedom. “I wanted to create a record that people could be absorbed by. Something to hold them and envelop them. The world… the world itself has gotten so dark. That darkness bleeds over into everything that we create. Which can be amazing. But, I felt my call was different. I wanted to create a shift to positivity and light.” Blessed through a life steeped in rhythm with the mystic ability to tap into and channel the primal genomic funk, Chanticleer Trü has crafted a shimmering antidote to that darkness. RNB Vol.1 is a rapturous, profoundly engaging (and much needed) mega dose of humanities first antidepressant.
Listen to the song "Blooming"On Fables, the forthcoming release from Ashland, Oregon favorites Slow Corpse, languid soul and gauzy dream rock float effortlessly over a bed of nuanced post-rock melodic complexity. Taut, arrestingly propulsive R&B-tinged melodic hooks ebb and flow against an ever-present undercurrent of woozy psychedelica. Born out of the creative union of artists from very different musical ecosystems, Fables manages to blend seemingly disparate elements together in a record that is both intellectually compelling, absolutely of-the-moment, and just plain catchy as hell.
- 1. Run It
5. 7:25 AM
7. Hold You
- The brainchild of an EDM producer and a blues guitarist, Slow Corpse was born out of the misty forests and craggy mountains of Oregon in the fall of 2015. Singer/producer Mitchell Winters first rose to prominence as the golden boy of Soundcloud, where he releases electronic music as PALMCO. Guitarist Brenton Clarke cut his teeth as a hard blues and shoegaze informed, one-man-musical-tour-de-force. Winters and Clarke had known each other tangentially in high school and college, and eventually they got together for a casual jam session. “Brenton showed me a riff, I sang a little melody over it,” Winters tell us. “Then we stared into each other’s eyes and simultaneously said ‘let’s make song babies’. It’s been going ever since.” Following the release of their first two EP’s, Hound and Moons, Slow Corpse added multi-instrumentalist Cole Zollinger (Bass), hip-hop producer Dash Curtis (Keys), and Kelvin Underwood (drums) to their roster, creating a live band that has mesmerized crowds and seen the band opening for the likes of The Decemberists, Fitz & the Tantrums, Paul Wall, and more. In the fall of 2017 they signed to Portland, OR indie stalwart Tender Loving Empire, where they join the ranks of indie darlings Andy Shauf, Y La Bamba, and Typhoon. Fables is the result of a multi-year migration through the Pacific Northwest, written and recorded in whatever space the duo found themselves residing at a given moment. “Always small spaces, bathrooms, sometimes closets… but I always name my wifi Palmco Studios” says Winters. Produced and mixed by the band, it was mastered by Adam Gonsalves (Radiation City, Burials). Lyrically, the record runs the emotional gamut and is a broad-stroke snapshot of the reality of a post-millennial twenty-something. “People don’t need a message from the record” says Winter. “I just want people to come to our shows and dance with me.” Crack the cover on Fables, lose yourself in the spellbinding melodic narratives, and you’ll find that’s a near certainty.
Listen to "Your Life"
All preorders of HEY GALAXY include immediate free download of the tracks "Your Life" and "Orlando."HEY GALAXY was created in the midst of another project as a result of the current political upheaval in the United States. Gibson was working on an album entirely about love, accompanied by an orchestra, but after the 2016 presidential election they felt moved to put forth a more social justice-oriented project. "There’s a quote that says, ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ I wanted to do that. I wanted to make something political and human and gutsy in its revolt. Something beautiful in its sweetness and rage and vulnerability. Something loud and tender at the same time."
HEY GALAXY does just that. The sixteen poems on the album tell the story of our times. Whether it’s "Orlando," which brutally relives the massacre at at LGBTQ nightclub and Gibson’s own struggles with coming out, or "A Letter to White Queers, A Letter to Myself," which combats white privilege during the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Gibson’s poems awaken us with their urgency, honesty, and their lyrical meld of grit and beauty.
All LP and CD purchases include the full digital file for immediate download on release day.
TLE-072 (2017 )
- 1. Your Life
2. Radio (feat. Jesse Thomas)
4. Angels of the Get-Through
5. Boomerang Valentine
6. Letter to White Queers
9. Photoshopping My Sister's Mugshot
10. About the Weather
11. Give Her
12. Ode to the Public Panic Attack
13. The Day You Died Because You Wanted To
14. Good Light
15. To the Men Catcalling My Girlfriend While I'm Walking Beside Her
16. Fight for Love
- Andrea Gibson is not gentle with their truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led them to the forefront of the spoken word movement. The first winner of the Womens World Poetry Slam, Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality. They write books, record albums, perform, and tour.