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Sunday, May 9, 2010

John Cunningham reissues due in June

John Cunningham 1998-2002 is a compilation of two of his albums: Homeless House (2002) and Happy-go-unlucky (2002), plus an extra track from the sessions for the latter. It is slated for release on June 15th.

John Cunningham is British and lives and works in the North of England. Cunningham’s elegant brand of pop music owes a certain debt to smooth pre-rock classic pop of the Cole Porter school, mixed with a touch of Bacharach, Wilson, McCartney, and Costello. Unlike those artists, however, Cunningham infuses his music with an almost Nick Drake-like acoustic vibe that suits his delicate yet melodic compositions beautifully. (This John Cunningham is, of course, not to be confused with the Scottish fiddle player who was a member of Silly Wizard and other folk groups.)

Born in Liverpool, England, Cunningham attended University in the East Sussex town of Brighton, where he quickly fell in with the city’s thriving artistic and musical community. A demo cassette landed him at the tiny British indie La-Di-Da, which released Cunningham’s debut EP, Backwards Steps, produced by ex-Housemartins guitarist Stan Cullimore and released in 1989.

Cunningham’s first full album, 1993’s Shankly Gates, is much more stripped down and intimate than Backwards Steps, with jazzy piano and subtle trumpet and oboe accents. It was rapturously received by the French press, which compared Cunningham to artists like Robert Wyatt and late-period Talk Talk, but as would be the case throughout Cunningham’s career, sales did not match the critical reaction. Cunningham’s third release, 1994’s Bringing in the Blue, is even more refined and elegant, but it continued the trend of ecstatic reviews on the Continent, little notice in Great Britain, and total invisibility in the United States, with sales figures to match.

Cunningham dropped out of sight for nearly five years after Bringing in the Blue, finally reappearing in late 1998 with the sublime Homeless House. A sweetly melodic and gentle album with an even more stripped-down sound than his two previous albums, Homeless House sounds at times like a more upbeat version of Drake’s Bryter Layter.

After the release of Homeless House, Cunningham began collaborating with Mehdi Zannad of the French pop group Fugu. Cunningham mixed Fugu’s debut, 2000’s Fugu1, and Zannad wrote the orchestral arrangements for a track on Cunningham’s follow-up to Homeless House, Happy –go-unlucky released in 2002.

Cunningham is currently working on a new album, which will hopefully see the light of day in our lifetime.
wrapping it up shortly -
  • The Fall debuts a video of "Bury"
  • Maps & Atlases have booked up their summer tour
  • The New Loud video for "Secrets" from their new album, Measures Melt due June 8
  • Jagjaguwar is releasing a film - The Builder - they'll also be putting out some songs on their website calling it a "foundtrack"
  • Nude Boy releasing their debut 7", The Room May 11 on Single Screen
  • Fol Chen adds more tour dates
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