Grant-Lee Phillips
::: LIVE ::: The VILLAGE, Dublin

“LADIES’ LOVE ORACLE” (Cooking Vinyl) RELEASED 11th October 2004

Grant-Lee Phillips New album "Virginia Creeper"


::: LIVE :::
The VILLAGE, Dublin (Change of venue from Whelans)

Wednesday 08 August 2007

Out Now on Cooking Vinyl

::: The Strange Matter Of Mr. Grant-Lee Phillips­ :::

Hurtling across our solar system at nearly a million miles per hour, a microscopic mite of rather mysterious matter smashes into Earth, rocketing straight through the solid ice sheet of Antarctica. Seismographs around the globe go haywire. Twenty-six seconds later, on the other side of the equator, the speeding speck explodes from the floor of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Sri Lanka, continuing its journey through the universe unabated. It happened on October 22, 1993. Or so some scientists speculate.

Strangelets. Subatomic quark-related clusters of old school Big-Bang-style strange matter, so dense and volotile that even the most diminutive dot could theoretically swallow the planet up whole. Experts have yet to definitively prove the existence of such a quirky quark, but a much more tangible namesake has just burst into our atmosphere in the sonic form of Strangelet, the fifth solo release from acclaimed singer songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips.

Described by the former Grant Lee Buffalo ringmaster as a "record for strange times," Strangelet packs a deft emotional wallop, delving deep into the inner conflagrations of the soul "Runaway" and the outer combativeness of human nature "Chain Lightnin", while at the same time reveling in the troubled essence of rock and roll "Johnny Guitar". All in all, it's a massive amount of beautifully strange energy crammed into the confines of a compact disc. “The thought of all this strange matter floating around out there. That there’s more under the stars than we can ever imagine – black holes, white dwarfs…” Phillips reflects with a laugh, "It's kind of nice, actually...."

If the end of everything as we know it doesn't sound all that "nice" to you, perhaps you're unaware of Grant-Lee Phillips' lyrical knack for divining light from the darkness, extracting motivation from misery, and embracing the general life-affirming optimism that when one door closes, another inevitably opens. His cathartic, negative-to-positive alchemy works in subtle measure throughout the unfolding of Strangelet's twelve tracks, smoothly blending tales of heartache, conflict, and loss with stories of love, hope, and redemption. It's a work that's essentially grounded in the concept of confronting reality, relinquishing fear of the unknown, and refusing to be destroyed by things you can't see, things you can't control, and things that may not even exist. “We're constantly bombarded with 'Be afraid of this, be afraid of that.' I love the fact that even in the world of physics there's a whole terminology to convey the notion that things often behave in irrational and odd ways. There’s chaos in them thar’ hills.”

Phillips took this notion of inevitable unpredictability to heart even in the actual construction of the new album. While drummer Bill Rieflin and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck lent their respective talents through scheduled studio sessions in Seattle, Phillips recorded the bulk of the material alone on his homegrown setup in Los Angeles, on the fly, whenever the urge happened to strike. “I've learned how to coax these things along, to leave it teetering on the edge, how to booby trap my own work so there's bound to be an accident." The end result of this semi-controlled spontaneity is Phillips' most personal and revealing work to date, a conscious exploration of the unconscious, one that sparkles with the honesty and the intimacy of a diary or a sketchbook. The singer agrees. “I've become more and more protective of that moment when an idea pops into your head, when the initial spark contains all the gesture you need, all the implications that are intended.”

A man of many proverbial hats indeed, Phillips incorporated any instrument within his reach during the course of recording - guitars, bass, piano, organ, baritone ukulele, the list goes on and on. It would be remiss not to relate a bit of his resume at this point, so let it be said that he's an accomplished visual artist, a seasoned composer forfilm and television, a magician, a poet, and a former roof-tarrer, as well as a crack actor - often seen serenading the streets of Stars Hollow in his recurring role as The Town Troubadour on The Gilmore Girls.

But, back to the subject at hand, it's simply Phillips' longtime status as a diehard, passionate fan of high-octane rock and roll that fuels the engagingly eclectic sounds of Strangelet. Arriving on the heels of nineteeneighties, Phillips' cover-versions-only ode to some of his favorite acts of said decade, the new record continues to deliver nods to many of the artists who have inspired him, though this time in a much more subtle and far-reaching manner. Take a dash of hypnotic Sonic Youth and a pinch of ragged X, then blend it with a dose of John Lennon's plaintive honesty and a touch of Neil Young's twisted Americana. Add a sprinkle of soaring U2 and jangling R.E.M., then mix it with the toe-tapping rhythms of T-Rex and the raw rumblings of Gene Vincent. By no means is Strangelet's recipe that simple, limited, or obvious, however, so you've gotta give the top chef some serious credit. "I suppose I'm wearing my influences loudly on this album," smiles Phillips.

Arguably the most musically diverse work of his career, Strangelet somehow manages to be beautifully sparse and lavishly lush all at the same time - the latter quality accentuated by contributions from Los Angeles string outfit The Section Quartet. And while Phillips continues to relish the acoustic leanings of his previous solo works, Strangelet also features a triumphant return to the plug, with the course of such songs as "Runaway," "Soft Asylum," and "So Much" being propelled along by driving electric guitars.

Again, all in all, Strangelet is a very large number of ideas and inspirations encapsulated in a very small space. "It's not intentionally cryptic or abstracted," says Phillips of the record, "it's sort of how the song comes to me, kind of backwards and in many pieces. It arrives in that fractured form. In that sense maybe the album is a response to a fractured world as well - politically speaking, environmentally speaking. I do think Strangelet is a record for strange times, where there's currently a lapse of meaning. It's also a chronicle of my own personal state over the past couple of years, just longing for some sort of piece of mind..."

So at the end of the day, just forget all you've read here and simply listen. And say the word out loud: Strangelet.
"It sounds much better than it reads," laughs Phillips. "Microsoft Word spell check always asks me, 'Do you mean strangulate?''s not what I mean..."


::: featuring interpretations of songs from '80s rock underground :::
Irish Release 26th June 2006 on Cooking Vinyl Records

Friday 26th June sees the release of nineteeneighties, a new album of real alternative favorites from Grant-Lee Phillips. The follow up to his highly acclaimed studio album, Virginia Creeper released in 2004, this CD, generally culled from the era that brought us Reganomics, frozen yogurt and dayglow, features eleven tracks which generally represent the most influential songs and artists of Phillips formative years. Featuring semi-acoustic renderings of cult classics by The Pixies, Joy Division, REM, The Cure, Robyn Hitchcock, The Church, Nick Cave, New Order, Echo And The Bunnymen and The Smiths, nineteeneighties exhumes an age whose underground music has long outlasted the more popular songs of it's airwaves.

"It's a nod to some of the songs and people that made a lasting impact on my own songwriting and musicianship," says Phillips. "It's my personal mix tape, just as it's reeled around in my head for decades."

While their influences are often sited today, you would be hard pressed to find most of these bands on the Billboard charts of the 1980s. There was an alternative, a parallel universe, existing just below the conservative, pastel surface of all the hits of the era. It was that same unstoppable energy that would come to erupt in the form of Nirvana in the early '90s.

Hushed and evocative, nineteeneighties was performed and recorded almost entirely by Phillips alone and it uncovers new dimensions in old favorites of real alternative music. Full track listing as follows :

1. Wave Of Mutliation
2. Age of Consent
3. The Eternal
4. I Often Dream Of Trains
5. The Killing Moon
6. Love My Way
7. Under The Milky Way Tonight
8. City Of Refuge
9. So.Central Rain
10. Boys Don’t Cry
11. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

One of the most accomplished songwriters of his generation, Grant-Lee Phillips matches poetic introspection with a visceral undercurrent of uncertainty and wonder. After leading the acclaimed group Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips released three solo albums which captured the range and depth of his abilities: Ladies Love Oracle, Mobilize and Virginia Creeper. Described as having "a rare gift of empathy" by Entertainment Weekly, and celebrated by Dallas Morning News as "one of the most dramatic balladeers in rock," Phillips is also known as the Stars Hollow Town Troubadour on the hit TV series, the Gilmore Girls.

Since forging an independent-solo career at the outset of 2000, the former Grant Lee Buffalo front man, has gone on to release three critically acclaimed albums, toured the globe several times over, composed musical scores for various independent films and has even become a reoccurring character on the WB’s Gilmore Girls. Appearing as The Town Troubadour, Grant-Lee Phillips, has stepped into a familiar roll. A lyrical chronicler, an astute observer whose songs are at once deeply personal, reflective while ever the barometer of the larger emotional times we share. Most striking is the manner in which Phillips continues to evolve, each album offering a new flower of growth and confidence. On the heels of Grant Lee Buffalo’s swan song Jubilee, his first outing would be marked by the stripped down Ladies Love Oracle. Recorded over a matter of days, Phillips moving from acoustic guitar, tack piano to pump organ, the album revealed an artist prepared to shed the veils and comforts of his previous incarnation. Opting for a more vulnerable approach, unencumbered by the weight of production, Ladies Love Oracle would highlight Phillips’ strength as a songwriter. In 2001 he released Mobilize, further exploring the bounds of his writing and musicianship. Teaming up with revered studio maverick, Carmen Rizzo, who aided in production and programming, Phillips was free to perform on all the instruments. Just as Grant Lee Buffalo had achieved in assimilating disparate styles and influences into a singular voice, Mobilize cast the solid songsmith in a new experimental light. Not to be pinned down or second guessed, his third album, Virginia Creeper would seek to capture the live energy of Phillips on the studio floor. Here he was supported by a first class ensemble of upright bass, fiddle, piano and drums. Hearkening back to the analogue years when “Records” were cut almost as quickly as they were played, the approach was true to Phillips’ subtlety and fire. That which concert goers have attested to all along. Currently, Grant-Lee Phillips finds himself on the eve of a new recording project. One that will undoubtedly captivate and honour his loyal following. This project is slated for release in 2007.

But first … Fans won’t have to wait for long as Phillips greets the summer of 2006 with a new collection of his favourite cover songs. Nineteeneighties is, as the title suggest, a reframing of some of the era’s most intriguing and influential music. The result is a thoroughly smooth listen and an insight into Phillips’ creative evolution, surely a fan’s delight. The familiarity of the song selection, which includes REM, The Smiths, The Pixies among them, is sure to charm and to gain new converts to the cult of Grant-Lee. Says Phillips of Nineteeeighties, “It’s my personal mix tape, just as it’s reeled around in my head for decades. The more I got inside of these songs, with not much more than a guitar or a piano, their personality came through on new levels and my appreciation for them deepened…” Indeed the album is a reminder of the debt owed to a generation of bands and artists who laboured well before such banners as “underground”, “indie, “alt” were commonplace. As Phillips himself puts it, “For every hokey hair band there was once an alternative - a parallel universe, existing just below the conservative, pastel surface.” Kicking off with the single “Love My Way”, originally recorded by post-punk trailblazers, The Psychedelic Furs, Phillips plans to take his song book on the road this summer.



“LADIES’ LOVE ORACLE” (Cooking Vinyl)


RELEASED 11th October 2004


“Recorded over the course of three days in October on ninety nine, Ladies’ Love Oracle is me in the raw, me in the dark, me in the basement. Sometimes a sketch says more than a mural.” - Grant-Lee

Monday 11th October sees the commercial release of Ladies’ Love Oracle – a collection of ten solo acoustic songs produced by Grant-Lee Phillips, which offers fans an intimate view of the uniquely gifted singer-songwriter. Recorded in October 1999, Ladies’ Love Oracle was originally released in a limited edition capacity in 2000, and was only available online and at Grant-Lee’s live shows.

“I had become a man with a mission and for three days in October the world beyond that basement just plain didn’t exist,” explains Phillips. “What did come to exist however is a spirit caught in a bottle. Ten whispering tales, representing a side of me and my music that give or take a few hits might have been killed off. This work which I’ve christened Ladies’ Love Oracle took its title from a 19th century parlor game of divination. Like the mystic answers of an oracle, songs seem to provide for me the same right answers at the right time.

“It was through the generosity of my good friend Jon Brion, who allowed me to work in his private studio with the aid of engineer Tom Biller that this work came into being. Tom and I moved at the speed of light, which was possible, as this material seemed to actually benefit from the sheer lack of fretting that typically goes into recording. I happen to find such barbs and thorns as fascinating as the petals myself and given Tom’s Zen-like nature, everything retained that early sense of awe that so often fades as songs grow to become polished works. I’m very delighted with the outcome of this innocent endeavor, which simply revealed its purpose one little step at a time.”

Featuring Grant-Lee Phillips on a variety of instruments including guitar, piano, and harmonica, each of the ten songs on Ladies’ Love Oracle was written solely by the former Grant Lee Buffalo front man, and exudes a warmth and spontaneity rarely found on record. A review by New Yorker magazine found, "...The songs, mournful and heartbreaking, may be among the best he's ever written...”

“Virginia Creeper” (COOKCD292) and “Mobilize” (COOK232) are out now.


Grant-Lee Phillips
New album "Virginia Creeper" (Cooking Vinyl)
Irish Release 13th February 2004

Monday 16th February 2004 sees the release of Virginia Creeper – a new studio album from ex-Grant Lee Buffalo frontman, Grant-Lee Phillips. The follow-up to his highly acclaimed solo album, Mobilize, released in 2001, Virginia Creeper is an intimate collection of original tunes featuring Phillips’ gorgeous vocals backed by a warm, acoustic mix of guitar, piano, bass, fiddle, banjo, and drums. Recorded and mixed by Grammy Award winning engineer S. Husky Höskulds, highlights include the rockin’ “Calamity Jane,” the dreamy “Far End of the Night,” and Philips’ soulful rendition of Gram Parson’s “Hickory Wind.”

As heard on his previous albums with Grant Lee Buffalo, many of the tracks on Virginia Creeper are story-songs full of rich characters and storylines that explore personal tragedy, social injustice and times of the past and present. The songs are, as Phillips’ suggests with the title of the album, “a slow but persistent vine, ever weaving, ever climbing – like a melody.” Joining Phillips is a talented ensemble of musicians, including acclaimed producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion, violinist Eric Gorfain, pianist Zac Rae, upright bassists Sheldon Gomberg and ex-Soul Coughing member Sebastian Steinberg, as well as drummer Kevin Jarvis (with whom Phillips toured to support Mobilize). Cindy Wasserman (sister of esteemed bassist Rob Wasserman), also contributes harmony vocals throughout the album.

Since his departure from Grant Lee Buffalo nearly five years ago, Grant-Lee Phillips has had a successful solo career, garnering significant praise from critics everywhere. Entertainment Weekly has called Phillips “undefeatable” while The Chicago Tribune says “…Phillips still wields a master’s touch with a pop tune.”

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