Blonde Redhead — Barragán
Δ Eclectic New York City indie rockers whose dissonant guitars and alternate tunings earned comparisons to a latter-day Sonic Youth. New York group return with their ninth album, a sparse and savage sound compared to their recent synth pop offerings. Take a listen and let us know your thoughts.
Formed: 1993 in New York, NY
Location: New York
Album release: September 2nd, 2014
Record Label: Asawa Kuru
01 Barragán 2:14
02 Lady M 2:59
03 Dripping 3:41
04 Cat on Tin Roof 3:37
05 The One I Love 3:51
06 No More Honey 3:42
07 Mind to Be Had 8:47
08 Defeatist Anthem (Harry and I) 6:15
09 Penultimo 3:19
10 Seven Two 3:25
℗ 2014 Blonde Redhead, LLC
Δ Kazu Makino guitarist/vocalist
Δ Amedeo Pace guitarist/vocalist
Δ Simone Pace drummer
Δ Maki Takahashi
Δ Toko Yasuda
Δ Vern Rumsey
Δ It’s been four years since NYC-based trio Blonde Redhead released their last album, Penny Sparkle. If a first listen of Barragán is anything to go by, the band have spent that time sharpening their tools for a more brutal, experimental songwriting tact, trading in their ethereal synth pop for a sparse and savage atmosphere instead.
Δ Still retaining a strange, subtly engulfing sound, guitarist/vocalist Amedeo Pace, drummer Simone Pace and guitarist/vocalist Kazu Makino’s ninth studio album was produced, engineered, and mixed by Drew Brown (Beck, Radiohead, The Books, Lower Dens), and features the distorted disco of Dripping, the desolate, Sonic Youth inspired No More Honey and closes on the nightmarish Seven Two. (http://www.theguardian.com/) © Blonde Redhead @ Virgin Festival — September 9 2007This image is copyright © 2008 Carrie Musgrave. All rights reserved.
by STEPHEN THOMPSON, August 24, 201411:03 PM ET
Δ You can’t really apply just one catch-all adjective to the New York band Blonde Redhead, which just entered its third decade and will soon release its ninth album, Barragán. When it began, the group fit somewhere in the literal and figurative neighborhood of Sonic Youth, as its free-jazz-inflected noise-rock kept one foot neatly planted in art school. But the last decade or so has seen a marked softening in Blonde Redhead’s sound, to the point where the quietest moments on Barragán don’t sound like songs so much as vapors infused with tunes.
Δ Within the framework of its gentlest album yet, Blonde Redhead still finds room to sprawl and play, and for all three members — singer Kazu Makino, guitarist Amadeo Pace and his twin brother, drummer Simone — to assert their individuality. Makino remains the band’s strongest presence, but Blonde Redhead still lets the spotlight move around: “Mine to Be Had” putters and chugs amiably for more than three minutes before Simone Pace pops up with the song’s first verse. It’s as if Blonde Redhead wrote a more conventionally catchy pop-rock song and opted to stretch it as far as it would go — in this case, for nearly nine minutes.
Δ Plenty of bands are weirder than Blonde Redhead 21 years into its career, but you’ll have a tough time finding one that’s subtler about it. As a result, on both Barragán and its 2010 predecessor Penny Sparkle, the band makes music that’s both peaceful and endlessly adventurous — a rare combination worth emulating, both in music and in life.
Artist Biography by Tracy Frey
Δ Blonde Redhead's noisy, dissonant guitars, alternate tunings, and quiet, stilted lyrics have often been compared to early Sonic Youth. The band formed in 1993 after Japanese art students Kazu Makino and Maki Takahashi randomly met Italian twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace at an Italian restaurant in New York. (The name was taken from a song by the '80s no wave band DNA.) With Makino and Amedeo on guitars and vocals, Simone on drums, and Takahashi on bass, the band's chaotic, artistic rock caught the attention of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, who produced and released the band's debut album, Blonde Redhead, on his Smells Like Records label. Shortly after the album's release, Takahashi left the band. The remaining members continued as a trio, releasing a second album, La Mia Vita Violenta, on Shelley's label in 1995.
Δ For their 1997 release Fake Can Be Just as Good, recorded for Touch & Go, the trio was joined by guest bass player Vern Rumsey from Unwound. By 1998, the band eliminated bass and scaled back to guitars, drums, and vocals for In an Expression of the Inexpressible. Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons and the Melodie Citronique EP followed two years later. The band's first for 4AD, Misery Is a Butterfly, was released in spring 2004. For 2007's 23, the group opted for a mix of dream pop and delicate electronic textures. Three years later, Blonde Redhead delivered Penny Sparkle, a more stripped-down, even more electronic-leaning set of songs the band recorded in New York and Stockholm with Alan Moulder, Van Rivers, and the Subliminal Kid. In 2014, Blonde Redhead returned with Barragán, featuring production from Drew Brown (Beck, Stephen Malkmus, Radiohead).
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Year // Album // US // ITA // UK // Label
Δ 1995 Blonde Redhead — — — Smells Like Records
Δ 1995 La Mia Vita Violenta — — — Smells Like Records
Δ 1997 Fake Can Be Just as Good — — — Touch and Go Records
Δ 1998 In an Expression of the Inexpressible — — — Touch and Go
Δ 2000 Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons — — — Touch and Go
Δ 2004 Misery Is a Butterfly #180 #42 — 4AD
Δ 2007 23 #63 #20 #152 4AD
Δ 2010 Penny Sparkle #79 — — 4AD
Δ 2014 Barragán — — —
Picture: Blonde Redhead performing at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, United States L-R: Kazu Makino, Simone N. Pace, Amedeo F. Pace