ALFA 9 (ENGLAND)
Written by Stéphane Mathé on 23 avril 2018
ABOUT THE ALBUM :
Interview with Leon from ALFA 9 :
Alfa 9 return with their third album My Sweet Movida. The Newcastle-under-Lyme based four piece are back with their Morricone-esque tinged cosmic country psych rock, that’s layered with vocal harmonies delivering what the band believe to be their strongest set of songs to date.
This their first release since ‘Gone to Ground’, which made Vive le Rock and Sound of Confusion best of the year lists in 2013 and saw the band featured in various magazines including Classic Rock and Shindig. They were interviewed by Steve Lamacq for his ‘New Favourite Band’ feature at BBC 6 Music around the album release and El Morocco (taken from Gone To Ground) later hit the BBC 6 Music playlist for a month as the band performed live at the Liverpool Psych Fest.
Of the band’s debut ‘Then We Begin’ Clash described this as “A fully realised and hugely ambitious debut which succeeds on every level” whilst Shindig said “one of the best albums of the last decade ». The title track ‘Then We Begin’ and ‘Flasher’ from the album more recently surfaced in key sequences of the auto-behemoth that is The Grand Tour.
A first taste from My Sweet Movida ‘Smile Dog’ is already receiving radio support from Gideon Coe and Guy Garvey at BBC 6 Music.
Credits for ‘My Sweet Movida’
Alfa 9 :
Phil Mason on Guitar / Vocals, Ali Heath – Guitar / Vocals, Leon Jones – Guitar, John Bradbury – Drums
Produced, written and arranged by Alfa 9
Recorded at Tremolo Studios, Newcastle-under-Lyme and The Room, Stoke-on-Trent.
Engineered by Leon Jones and Dan Rowley
Mixed by Kevin Feazey, London
Mastered by Noel Summerville at 33/45, London
All songs published by Blow Up Songs.
Blow Up Records 2018
LP / CD / Digital
Notes on ‘My Sweet Movida’
‘We’ve found a way of recording that really suits us…’ explains guitarist Leon ‘…putting a lot of stuff to tape at a studio I can literally walk to from my house (Tremelo), and doing the rest in our own place…the most important part of that being that we’re in control and the songs are allowed to develop in their own time.’
And on MY SWEET MOVIDA, those songs have developed…Broadening their musical horizons by getting deeper into Morricone territory with Movida, or on the gothic country of Darkest Sea, the band remain focused on the songwriting. As singer-guitarist Phil puts it, ‘No song, no nothing, no point.’
There’s a firm grasp of the sonics here as well…Cosmic-country, stonesy-swagger, dirty-Beatles, Byrds, Ryders, Roses and all manner of beautiful points in between. Leon puts it like this, ‘We like a lot of different music and that’s bound to bleed through. I think we’ve allowed all of our tastes in on this album.’
As Ali explains, ‘We disappeared for a while after Then We Begin and when we released Gone To Ground, we had a simple plan – tour and then record a new album…it was busier than we expected though…’ ‘El Morroco’ from Gone To Ground was playlisted at BBC 6 Music…appearances at Liverpool Psych Fest followed and a road trip began that circled the UK and beyond to Europe…
My Sweet Movida marks the first time John Bradbury’s drums have graced an Alfa 9 record. ‘It sounds pompous but there’s a gravity – a musical attraction between us when we play together…I think they used to call it ‘chemistry’,’ says Ali. John says nothing, the dark-matter holding the whole shebang together.
GONE TO GROUND – 2013
« The Stoke songsmiths are back, and it’s been well worth the wait »
« A pillow of jangly guitars and sweet harmonies. A beautiful record »
Second album Gone To Ground was a self-produced twelve song set that was recorded in their home town of Newcastle-under-Lyme at their own Dungeon Studios. Mixed in London by Myles Clarke (The Who / Pete Townsend).
Several years had gone by between the release of their debut Then We Begin as the band remerged with Gone To Ground as a four piece with the addition of Andrew Vernon on drums: Phil Mason on Guitar / Vocals; Ali Heath – Guitar / Vocals; Lean Jones – Guitar / keyboards; and Andrew Vernon – Drums
Through recording in their own Dungeon Studios – « in reality a garage behind a bookies with an old disused walk-in fridge as the live room! » says guitarist Leon Jones – the band took things back to basics, focusing on three-four minute songs, great harmonies and losing the dirt from the guitars and the keyboards.
Citing the ’60s and early ’70s folk and country-rock of The Byrds, in particular, Gene Clark, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, the Paisley Underground bands of early ’80s LA and signature influence The Stone Roses. Gone To Ground (which was recorded over six months) channels the same love of the past as such contemporaries as The See See, Tame Impala, The Quarter After, Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Beachwood Sparks. « I guess the sort of stuff we were becoming influenced by was far more subtly produced, so it was a pretty natural move, » says Leon of the album’s more spacious production, marked by rich mid-60s harmonies, ringing 12 strings and naturally overdriven and fuzztone guitars.
THEN WE BEGIN – 2006
« A confident, elaborate trip through forty years of psychedelic rock. A definitive debut and stunningly complete piece of music. A fully realised and hugely ambitious debut which succeeds on every level » CLASH MAGAZINE
« If the Stones Roses had lived in Haight-Asbury… Its psychedelic vision sweeps from late-60s San Francisco to mid-90s Manchester » CLASSIC ROCK
In 2005 Alfa 9 signed to Blow Up Records, and the same month recorded at The Charlatans’ (who they shared management with – Steve Harrison) Big Mushroom studio in Cheshire with Liverpool producer Mike Cave (The Coral, Ian McNabb). Mostly recorded under two weeks, with additional production in Liverpool at Mike’s studio. The completed album was mastered by Simon Heyworth (Tubular Bells) at Super Audio Mastering and the end result being the psych rock masterpiece Then We Begin.
A limited 7″ single For Your Bones B/W Little Girl was released towards the end of 2005 and ahead of the album in July 2006 the single Deadman (7″ & CD Single) just released prior to the album’s release in August 2006.
The band spent their time honing their skills on the live circuit around the release. Their relentless gigging and dedication paid off, wowing the local scene with their epic psychedelic live shows and on a national level with supports slots for The Coral, Sunshine Underground, The Charlatans, Edgar Jones and Ian McNabb.
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