Bill Callahan recently added to his huge catalogue of recordings – both using his own name and the moniker Smog – with a great new album, Apocalypse.
However, last week, when he dropped in at the Horseshack Studios in Rock Island, Illinois, to perform a Daytrotter session (now a perennial stop on the indie merry-go-round), he decided to dip into his back catalogue, playing three spare, country-tinged songs with his typically dry, downbeat vocal delivery. The tracks are can be found at ind.pn/ l0dMmQ. It would have been nice if he'd perhaps played "America", the best song on the new record, but you can't have it all, and he's in fine form – and it's free – so one shouldn't quibble.
XL Recordings are on a roll
With a string of acclaimed and high-profile releases the label XL Recordings has been on a roll over the last few years. Aiding said roll has been the setting up of the XL Studio in west London in 2008. The studio is run by the producer Rodaidh McDonald and has seen the likes of The xx record their award-winning debut album there. Now XL have set up a website to offer a glimpse into life at the fecund studio, with McDonald promising to use the site's blog to "to post details, photos and exclusives from selected sessions past and present" – xlrecordings.com/studio.
Niki & the Dove tales
There is an ever-expanding list of Scandinavians making interesting electro music. The latest to join the roster are Niki & the Dove, who last year picked up attention for some early singles including the brilliant "Mother Project". The Stockholm girl-boy duo are now signed to the Seattle label Sub Pop, and a debut album is expected later this year or early next year. On 12 June the pair release their first song on the label as a 12" single. The MP3 is also available now at nikiandthedove.com. The track is called "The Fox" and follows on from last year's template in mixing the dark gothic electro stylings of The Knife/Fever Ray, with perfect pop tones. Also available on Sub Pop's site is a remix of the single's B-side "Gentle Roar", from the Scottish producer Mylo. Visit ind.pn/kiLrhI.
All Shapes and sizes
In early April, the London-based experimental musician Mica Levi released a new album with her band Micachu and the Shapes. The LP Chopped and Screwed was a one-off collaboration between the band and the London Sinfonietta performing a composition Mica wrote, recorded live at the Kings Place venue in London last year. Accompanying the album was a mixtape reworking of it into a grime-like setting with the help of Brotha May. Last week, the mixtape was put online by Micachu's label Rough Trade at ind.pn/jw70GL.