musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: Anna Bulbrook

The Joy Formidable – Leave No Trace, Live in L.A.

The Joy Formidable

photo by Roy A Braatz

I’ve often said that the true test of a band’s worth is when all the electronics are turned off, and they’re left only with their voices and unamplified instruments. An acoustic performance, even one in such an acoustically pristine setting as the Cathedral Sanctuary at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, is a stark showcase for a band’s talents. Or lack of talents. In the case of a special performance by the phenomenal Welsh band The Joy Formidable, the result was pure magic.

This stunning intimate performance back in February was part of their semi-acoustic Leave No Trace tour. The 10-song set was released as Leave No Trace (Live in L.A.). Listen to “Underneath the Petal,” featuring special guest Anna Bulbrook on violin. She performed on two songs.

It was recorded (quite beautifully) by Scott Cornish, and the evening also featured guest Dan Mancini on bass guitar.

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Introducing… The Bulls (as they Come Unwound)

Photo by Josh Giroux

Photo by Josh Giroux

Just one song so far, and it’s a shimmering beauty. The Bulls is multi-instrumentalist Anna Bulbrook (The Airborne Toxic Event) and guitarist Marc Sallis (The Duke Spirit). In early October, they unveiled their first song, “Come Unwound,” which begins as a reverent and breathy Nico-esque sad prayer to an unraveling relationship. The minimalist music slowly builds into a dramatic orchestral production with soaring strings and reverb-soaked guitars, dropping back down for each verse. Stunning.

After hearing Anna’s beautiful voice slowly taking on a more prominent role in her outings with Airborne, it’s a real treat to enjoy it full-strength, front and center stage. And likewise, as her “day job band” embraces synthesizers on their next release, it’s a pleasure to know that her stellar violin/viola skills will enjoy free rein here. With influences ranging from late ’80s/early ’90s dream-pop and shoegaze, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees, bits of new wave and guitar grunge, luscious strings and ethereal vocals, The Bulls promise to give us some pleasant daydreams to float off and away in.

To accompany these aural delights, The Bulls released equally compelling visuals in the form of a provacative video, directed by Evan Mathis, that features Kinbaku model Stacy Lewis. Anna and Marc talk about the video and the formation of The Bulls in an interview with L.A. Weekly.

I’m looking forward to their debut EP, hopefully out early next year. In the meantime, you can purchase “Come Unwound” on iTunes.

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