Alex Rex is the moniker used by Alex Neilson of (now defunct) Trembling Bells. He has released one album under guise before, 2017’s Vermillion, but will be returning on March 29th with a follow up called Otterburn. It’s set to be a deep and heavy record, largely informed by the surprise and untimely passing of his brother in 2017.
Today we bring you the first single and video to be shared from Otterburn, the rainy-day contemplation of ‘Latest Regret’. It’s a song that finds Alex Rex weaving among dark thoughts, both comic and earnest, carried by loping and wistful rock. ‘Latest Regret’ finds Rex reunited with Trembling Bells members Lavinia Blackwall (who gives the song a soulful lift with divine backing vocals and crisp organ) and Mike Hastings (whose electric guitar shines like a silvery trail in the mist), and together they capture gently rousing a snapshot of repentance and forgiveness.
‘Latest Regret’ also comes with a video by Tom Chick, which Alex Rex introduces, saying: “”Latest Regret” was written in one sitting in Regents Park during an unhappy stay in London. It’s basically “La Bamba” reimagined by a deranged art squirrel. It was filmed by Tom Chick on the M8 motorway and in the Glad Café, Glasgow. It is our homage to the Cassavetes film “Killing Of A Chinese Bookie” It stars Becca Harrison, Sophie Sexon, Rory Haye, Mike Hastings & Lew Porteous.”
Alex Rex’s Otterburn comes out through Tin Angel on March 29th. He’s got these tour dates planned in April:
02/04- Glasgow- Blue Arrow
03/04- Edinburgh- Sneaky Pete’s
04/04- Bradford- Shipley Triangle
05/04- Leeds- The Abbey Pub
06/04- Bristol- The Cube
07/04- Bath- The Bell
08/04- Leicester- The Musician
09/04- Brighton- Rosie Hill
10/04- London- SET
11/04- Birmingham- Hare & Hounds
13/04- Todmorden- Golden Lion
14/04- Sheffield- Bishops House
Scottish underground folk artist Alex Neilson has confirmed plans for new solo album ‘Otterburn’
The Glasgow based songwriter is one of the driving forces behind Trembling Bells, but returns to his Alex Rex moniker for this second solo LP.
‘Otterburn’ will be released on March 29th (pre-order LINK), with Alex set to embark on a solo tour this Spring.
New song ‘Master’ is online, with Alex Neilson describing it as “a letter from an exiled submissive to his darling dom. The language is that of cruelty, emotional sleight-of-hand, fetishized regret and haunted accusation. I wanted it to sound like the aural equivalent of a Victorian medical device.”
The full video is online now, and it’s full of intrigue and mystery. He continues:
“The video is presented as a series of postcards from an unspecified love triangle. The relationships unknown and melancholy. It is set in the past and future simultaneously – a future that is already ruined. It was photographed by Tom Chick in Kirkstall Abbey, The Abbey pub, Leeds & Liverpool canal, Harrogate Valley Gardens and my grandad’s house.”
Catch Alex Rex at the following shows:
2 Glasgow Blue Arrow
3 Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s
6 Bristol The Cube
7 Bath The Bell
8 Leicester The Musician
9 Brighton The Rose Hill
10 London SET
11 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
13 Todmorden Golden Lion
14 Sheffield Bishop’s House
When Alex Neilson was a teenager in Leeds, his musical comfort zone was in the city’s DIY scene – specifically its more improv-based, experimental noise corners. To the young man sporting homemade t-shirts of the free jazz pioneer Albert Ayler, the idea of folk music, with its austerity and cosy certainties, was not on the agenda. Until Neilson had an epiphany.“
There was a bunch of progressive weirdos doing skull splitting drone music that really helped forge/warp my tastes” Neilson told me, “Around a similar time I came across traditional British folk music and that became an alternative way of experiencing British culture- one that was romantic and elemental and connected to the underlying mystery of places that were very precious to me.”
For the last decade now, Neilson’s group Trembling Bells have been quietly reinventing what it means to be influenced by folk music, and as they release their sixth record ‘Dungeness’, it’s clear that Trembling Bells have now found themselves amidst a small blossoming resurgence in the aesthetics and ideas of the acid folk moment of the late 60s and early 70s.The acid folk moment was the point at which traditional British folk music, which had been thriving in the hundreds of folk clubs across Britain in the late 50s and 60s, rubbed up against the mid-60s burgeoning psychedelia (and in some cases jazz). This spawned some of the most incredible British music of its generation, in unique acts like Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, Mellow Candle, Trees and early Fairport Convention. Continue reading →
Trembling Bells have never been concerned with keeping with the times. Instead of angsty modern themes, they deal with gigantic archetypal forms like love and death, their clattering folk rock writ large in primary colours of bold, crashing chord progressions and songs studded with references to mainstream poets like Dylan Thomas.
They’re anachronistic, but not in a shallow way. Far from the psychedelic folk revivalists they’re often portrayed as, they’re much more redolent of a classicist impulse informed by lead songwriter Alex Neilson’s love for Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, which has in the past made for some potently emotive, sky-punchingly romantic music. Their last album, 2015’s The Sovereign Self made gestures toward more conventionally progadelic moves and scaled back on the impassioned folk tonalities, and that approach still holds some sway over Dungeness. However, while they perhaps aren’t producing skyscraping bangers in the vein of ‘Goathland’ and ‘Willows of Carbeth’ at the rate they once were, this album claws back much of the wonkiness that initially made them so unique. Continue reading →