Oxford.Â The green room where I’m writing this is frigid.Â The whole of England is cloudyÂ and cold. Reminds me of home. Â Great gigs so far and even a moment to explore one of Norwich’s elegant churches. Â My butt hurt in the van today and Alex took an incriminating picture of me sleeping with my mouth open. Â Looking forward to our first day off tomorrow…
The news pretty much knocked us out of our chairs. We’re not exactly sure how they measure the New Artist Album Chart, but the we’ll take that #1!
July Flame also made the much-referencedÂ Billboard 200, debuting at #124.Â In other charting news, July Flame has been perched in the top 30s-60s range for bestselling albums at iTunes.Â Hot dog!
The title track to July Flame is enjoying a windfall of exposure on iTunes US this week as the Free Single Of The Week.Â The kneejerk iTunes listening public has weighed in and it’s a hit (with a majority of listeners give it 5 and 4 stars).Â Head on over and have your own say. As of this writing there are 374 opinions.
A hearty thanks goes out to all of the creative individuals that submitted a video for the “I Can See Your Tracks” contest.Â It turned out to be really hard to choose a winner and runners up (and a little tricky to transfer from DVD to YouTube) but we are pleased to crown Alden Healy from San Francisco, CA as the winner with this intriguing use of human interest newsreel footage to elucidate the haunting tenderness of the song:
Second place goes to Dan Fields of Baltimore, MD for creatively pairing the song to stills from the Apollo 11 mission.Â Who knew Jim James soaring vocals make for a terrific soundtrack to the iconic “Earthrise” photos?
Third goes to Karen Anderson of Hood River, OR, who turned in an simple, almost meditative treatment which uses footage of our locally beloved stratovolcano, Mt. Hood.
Thanks again to all the videographers that participated!
Cambridge. Â Cloudy and cold. At the Gateshead show the crowd was so quiet between songs you could have heard a crumb drop! Very sweet people, though. We all slept fitfully at the Royal Hotel; we’re sure it was haunted. Â The walls were so thin we could hear theÂ man in the next room BREATHING. Alex burst out of bed talking in her sleep and Tim had nightmares about driving the van with the back doors open and the gear falling out all over the road.Â
A bit of trivia:Â Laura Veirs was our very first recorded session when we began all of this roughly two and a half years ago. At the time, she had just moved to Portland and was working on making it feel like home, something she’s had a chance to do while taking a break from touring, for the most part, following her last album Saltbreakers.
Her new album, July Flame, is also a result of that time, though- despite its effortless beauty- it was anything but easy in coming for Veirs. She talks to us about the creative block that she eventually managed to open for these songs, as well as the decision to release the album on her own Raven Marching Band label after the previous two with Nonesuch. The effort also marks a move away from composing with a full band as she had done in recent years, though Saltbreakers conspirators Karl Blau, Steve Moore and Tucker Martine all figure prominently on the playing (not to mention appearances from My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James and The Decemberists‘ Chris Funk, among others).
Veirs was joined in studio by her current touring band, The Hall of Flames, featuring Alex Guy on viola and vocals, The Old Believers‘ Nelson Kempf on keys, guitars and vocals, and Eric Anderson on guitars and vocals. Now touring Europe, watch for Veirs’ return to Portland March 12th at Mississippi Studios.
Greetings from rainy London. Well, I kind of bombed my first live TV performance in Paris the other night. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that my press officer Matthieu told me before I went on that up to a MILLION PEOPLE were watching! I was playing “I Can See Your Tracks” but I got so nervous half way through that I cut out the bridge all together and just sort of awkwardly strummed the last verse instead of doing the fingerpicking that usually supports the song. It was like I was playing with clubs instead of fingers. Â Afterwards I felt embarrassed but Matthieu insisted that my singing sounded great and that I shouldn’t feel bad about it. Still, when I was outside waiting for a cab with my tail between my legs I wondered: how on God’s green earth will IÂ learn to get a hold of my nerves for the next live TV show?Â Just then an older French gentleman from the audience came up to me and told me how beautiful he thought the song was. He was very genuine and of course that made me feel better. But honestly there are times when I feel so frustrated that I can’t calmly and confidently perform a song I’ve played hundreds of times…
Pregnancy update: glucose levels fine, calf cramp bothering me, baby kicking consistently… :)
January 12th, 2010
Happy “July Flame” release day!
For those of you who don’t know, Tucker and I are expecting a baby in mid-April. I’m beginning my third trimester and will be posting blogs from time to time about how the tour is going. I’m doing it so I can have a record of my experience, and also to share my thoughts with other women who are touring pregnant or who are considering doing it.
I’ve already toured for two months of this pregnancy: once in the first trimester with The Decemberists (where we toured in a star-shape, criss-crossing the eastern and southern US, when I was dog-tired and slept for hours per day on a bench in our 15-passenger van), and once in the second trimester with Blind Pilot (when I was feeling more energetic but had fewer opportunities to eat well since we didn’t have the lavish backstage riders). So, fingers crossed for two more months of healthy touring up until the middle of week 35. First babies are usually born at week 41, so i’ll hopefully have some nesting time at home before all hell/heaven breaks loose!
On Friday I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This was a shock since I’ve always been healthy and didn’t know anything about it. It’s a fairly common yet unexplained condition that — if watched closely with diet and exercise — usually doesn’t affect the mother or the fetus after birth. So, I’ve been pricking myself 4 times daily and taking my blood sugar levels and everything seems stable, but what a pain! It’s a reminder that I need to take EXTRA special care to eat well and exercise on this tour, even if I am jostling around from one country to the next every day.
On Sunday I was a teary mess saying goodbye to Tucker. I’ve done long tours like this before, but there was certainly something hormonal telling me: stay home with your man and nest! But now that I’m in Paris on a promo trip before the tour dates start, I feel excited to be here sharing this new album with people.
Today I fought off jet lag by walking around this freezing city. Sacre Coeur looked like a fairyland in the distance. Even in winter the women are incredibly fashionable. People here are friendly but they don’t pick up their dog poop and they drive their motorcycles on the sidewalk. The architecture is humbling. I couldn’t find peanut butter in the grocery store and didn’t know how to ask for it. I left with peanuts, carrots, celery, cheese, greek yogurt, oranges, a banana and cashews (the stuff of my new diet). Tonight I’m going to have dinner at a Thai place with a dear old friend Jean Philippe. Tomorrow I do interviews on big French radio and TV stations. I feel lucky to be here.
Hurrah! July Flame is out now.Â Directly support Laura with an LP/CD/download purchase via her web boutique Raven Marching Band (instant download with CD or LP purchase), or find it at your local finer record shop, or visit iTunes where this week it’s been anointed “Indie Spotlight Featured Album”, and is on sale for the first two weeks for a cool $7.99!
Here’s what’s been coming in on the wire:
â€œItâ€™s full of textureâ€¦ You almost want to run your hands across it and feel the nicks in the wood grain, or order it off the appetizer menu in your townâ€™s new warehouse-district restaurant run by a ruddy-faced genius with a beard. Itâ€™s full of layered folk and indie-rock bucolia and plain-spoken but stretchy-thinking language, wherein everyday energies or objects transubstantiate into other, metaphorically richer ones. There are some great, seemingly unforced, sÃ©ancelike moments hereâ€¦â€
- The New York Times
â€œA lost 1960s girlie-folk gem is what it sounds like. A perfect Sunday afternoon record.â€
- The Oxford American
â€œWarm yourself in midwinter with Laura Veirsâ€™ â€œJuly Flame,â€ a summery song inspired by a succulent peach variety. Itâ€™s the title track of her idiosyncratic, captivating album by the same name.â€
- UTNE Reader
â€œWere you the first to tell your friends about Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone in 2009? Female-singer-songwriter fan, your work is not yet done! The extraordinary Laura Veirs â€” a punk rockerâ€“turned-underrated pop folkie â€” should inspire fits of similar evangelistic passion. Always in touch with the natural world, Veirs’ new album July Flame sends us on hikes through dreamy landscapes evoked by her uniquely tangy voice, casting minimal instrumentation in glistening arrangements to captivate the melancholy imagination. If sofa-size paintings of the Pacific Northwest could sing, they’d sound like this. A-â€
- Entertainment Weekly
â€œThe magnificent Portland songwriter delves into the mystic, crafting spare, entrancing pop songs as informed by folk music as they are indie rock. July Flame takes its title from a type of peach, and its content is just as sweet and irresistible.â€
– Rolling Stone
â€œHer best album yet. Though folk at their roots, Veirsâ€™ oddly beautiful songs songs have curious offshoots. Unlike some other nu-folkies, this feels organic and unforced; one reason why her albums, and this in particular, have such resonance. July Flame teems with animals and vegetablesâ€¦ Yet the overall sense is one of calm and reflection, her serene voice flowing over everything like a river.â€
â€“ Filter (FOUR STARS)
â€œItâ€™s hard to imagine a better soundtrack to the chilly months than this collection of heady, steady, pensive songs. Warmer and rootsier than her earlier workâ€¦ July Flame is carefully composed, ever-deepening, glinting and glowing in new ways each time itâ€™s played; itâ€™s Veirsâ€™ finest work.â€
– Paste (8.5)
â€œThis is a vivid song cycle thatâ€™s part-ecstasy, part-sadness, and unfailingly lovely.â€
- UNCUT (FOUR STARS)
â€œThere is no shortage of quality songs here. A wistful soundtrack to your winter.â€
- Under The Radar