I have been a long time fan of the GOLDEN DREGS – the single ‘Nobody Ever Gets Rich (by Making People Sad)’ remains one of my top five favourite releases of the past ten years – and it is brilliant to hear of their signing to the legendary 4AD label and news of a new album ‘On Grace & Dignity’ on 10 February 2023. And to add lustre to the gold, a new single ‘American Airlines’ has just been released.
‘American Airlines’ is a tasty portent of what’s to come, and a glorious continuation of what has passed. Main songwriter and producer Benjamin Woods lends his smoky sensuous sonorous vocals to the track that steams and burns with a soft intensity through the enigmatic delivery, while the music is sparse but ethereal, lilting along and creating an atmospheric, cavernous vault. A haunting chorus of voices provide a call and response refrain as a bright antidote to Wood’s melancholy rumblings that always seem to shake the very foundations of existence.
The music infected with a soul-infused almost jazz sparkle.
The themes seem to reflect on fate and the ephemeral nature of existence as we pine for the next thrill.
Check the papers for familiar names
Spare a thought for mothers burying their sons
Make sure my horoscope still reads the same
I am the lucky one
Woods says of the track:
Life is often lived waiting for the holiday and not really enjoying the here and now. It seems a strange pattern that we have.
The track is accompanied with an enigmatic official video by Dino Moves: a series of vignettes that contrast everyday bland anonymous scenes with Woods searching for something mysterious across the urban landscape. There is a mysterious, intangible element in the depictions of normal life:
‘On Grace & Dignity’ came together when Woods lost his job in lockdown and moved back to his parents’ house. The only work he could get was as a labourer on a poorly run building site on the grimmest outskirts of Truro:
It was such a bleak winter – waist-deep in mud digging holes and rolling out turf on top of building waste, really grim stuff, which became the backdrop to the stories I was trying to write.
Woods cites Raymond Carver, Lydia Davis and Richard Hugo as influences.
For the On Grace & Dignity artwork, Woods commissioned Bristol-based model-maker Edie Lawrence to construct an HO-scale fictional Cornish town. Christened Polgras, the 8ft by 4ft model features a viaduct, an estuary, a supermarket, new-build houses and industrial buildings; every song from ‘On Grace & Dignity’ is represented by a scene in the town.
There’s different parts of the experience of growing up in Cornwall in there. Some of it was from me looking at it when I was down there that winter, and some of it was me harking back to the experience of growing up there. It’s defined by that sense of duality, of coexisting realities. You’re geographically so far away, and it has a strong identity of its own, as well as a different landscape. It’s so rugged and bleak, but beautiful – which is what I really like in music.
You can catch the band on the road – details below:
31 October –BRUGES, BELGIUM, Cactus Club *
1 November –PARIS, FRANCE, Le Trabendo *
2 November –UTRECHT, NETHERLANDS, TivoliVerendenberg (Pandora) *
3 November –HAMBURG, GERMANY, Uebel & Gefaehrlich *
5 November –COLOGNE, GERMANY, Kulturkirche *
6 November –BERLIN, GERMANY, Feststaal Kreuzberg *
7 November –PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC, Roxy *
8 November –VIENNA, AUSTRIA, Arena Wien (Grosse Halle) *
9 November –GRAZ, AUSTRIA, Dom im Berg *
12 November –FRIBOURG, SWITZERLAND, Fri-Son *
13 November –MUNICH, GERMANY, Freiheitshalle *
14 November –FRANKFURT, GERMANY, Zoom *
16 November –BRIGHTON, UK, St. Georges Church SOLD OUT *
17 November –LONDON, UK, The Roundhouse *
18 NOVEMBER –BEDFORD, UK, Esquires
19 November –BIRMINGHAM, UK, The Mill SOLD OUT *
20 November –GLASGOW, UK, QMU *
21 November –MANCHESTER, UK, O2 Ritz *
6 April –LONDON, UK, Village Underground
- w/ Ezra Furman