REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - RoomThirteen

by Daniel Jones

A Fine Release

So it turns out that Joseph Arthur is doing the Connor Oberst thing and on September the 4th he will be releasing two new albums, "Nuclear Daydream" and "Let's Just Be". So which one to get? Is it both? Or is it neither? Well I can't help you so much with that, seeing as in my possession I only have a copy of one of the albums. But I am quite content with just this one.

"Nuclear Daydream" creeps out of your stereo like a lazy Sunday afternoon as Arthur's seemingly scene setting voice paints pictures of calm oceans and rings with vocal simplicity that is all too underrated. "Enough To Get Away" is to be Arthur's next single and its conversational like vocals tread tentatively above the delicate guitar that imposes no obstruction to what is intended to be a stripped down album with no added reverb.

Joseph Arthur's relaxed modern folk finesse is graceful on any stereo and the subtlety of his song writing sees a medley between Australia's Patrick Park and legendary Ryan Adams, but with slightly less angst and maybe a little less alcohol fuelled drama.

We begin to see Arthur's better side when he picks up the pace a little in a few tracks. The sound gradually increases and the yearning in his voice is more predominant, and it is these little glimmers of feeling that seep through the stale cracks in the album, which to be honest, come few and far between.

REVIEW : The Invisible Parade - RoomThirteen

by Daniel Bristow

Joseph Arthur is an overwhelming figure; firstly when you meet him he towers over you as he's alarmingly tall and secondly anywhere you turn in this day and age you'll likely be met with something that he's conjured. After appearing on a few records recently, Greg Connor's 'Here, There And Anymore' and Twilight Singers' 'Powder Burns' and now nearing completion on a new album, he's amazingly found time to release a book of his wonderfully unique artwork. Accompanied by a CD of mainly instrumental songs, 'We Almost Made It' is what he's entitled the book and 'The Invisible Parade' is the name of the CD.

At his live performances he crafts a picture on a backdrop that stands at the rear end of his stage, all the while making the percussion, rhythm, lead and vocal to his songs and getting them to loop and play by themselves. He'll employ various painters' implements and turn out a haunting image that sits as the theme to the gig and is left standing there at the end to remind everyone of just what kind of a journey they've been taken on. It is a phenomenal experience and now you can live a similar one in the comfort of your own living room.

'We Almost made It' is full of marvellous pictures, etchings, photographs of sculpted artwork, incorporating everything from his trademark disfigured stickmen-like humans to music sheets that have been scrawled on and Barbie dolls plastered with glitter-paint. 'The Invisible Band' provides the most encapsulating soundtrack to it; it has songs which are subtle and superbly suited as backing to a manic and gripping visual experience. Others which grab your attention and, in the rare instance of a vocal insert, deliver a poignant view on the world: "Hello Mohammed, hello Jesus... they want us all to be together... We look different, but we are all one in spirit."

There are little phrases too in the book, scattered about that, in their sublime simplicity, stab a tenterhook into your heart and wrench tears from your eyes, for example; on a lonely canvas a black square contains two people, one made out of the basest of shapes and on the other's T-shirt is written the word 'Lonely', around them is 'I Love You' repeated thrice and 'Why is everything scary... I know what you mean.' It's an image that, even in its apparent ambiguity and abstractness, anyone and everyone can still relate to. The philosophy of all of us being the same is concurrent throughout his work on both the pages and in the music and yet a lot is conveyed from the angle of the observer, of the alien and a lot is presented as alien to the creator. Universally alien, universal alienation... It leads to these sorts of thoughts and musings on what it means.

And tantalising enjoyable thoughts they are too. This book is great to sit down with on an evening of self, a bottle of wine by your side, the CD coming through your headphones and the pages of mesmerising imagery to sit and pore over, linger on, question, figure out, laugh and cry and marvel at, it's something unique. The inner workings of a man's head on one level; some of the collages and scribbles resembling those of Kurt Cobain's from his journals, and a great question on another level, a question posed to the world at large, to the Gods, to the meaning, why? It challenges the flaws of religion, the flaws in the governments of the modern world, the flaws in the human condition; it challenges established notions and ruling decrees and it challenges conformity. Not violently, not vehemently, but with an air of nonchalance at times, and at other times with a sense of stupefaction...

It's a book that works on so many levels and will have people puzzled, amazed, scared, enamoured, lost and found, all at once. It's proven to work well in coffee-table situations and to work well amongst crowds of inebriated people eagerly trying to get a glimpse of a gifted artist's work (there may be a story behind that, but not for now...)

So, Joseph's quest continues and his future is a very exciting one to look forward to. What we have here is a portrait in time that reveals so much about the unparalleled artist and at the same time it's not so much about him as it is a reflection of the world he lives in. A book/album combination that works so well; for a unique first he makes it seem like a polished art he mastered long ago... 'We Almost Made It/The Invisible Parade' is well worth getting hold of... So, it seems appropriate to leave you with the man himself's words: "Who says you know where you are going going gone."

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - No Depression

Joseph Arthur is as cult as an artist can get, not only because he flirts with best-kept secret status and images of him are hard to come by, but also because the world he creates as a rock auteur is so private. Nuclear Daydream is actually less dreamy than Arthur predecessors such as Redemption's Son, an atmospheric masterpiece colored by loops, electronics and other one-man effects. But its languorous sound and enigmatic point of view still leave us in a suspended state, elevated by melodies far happier than the words.

Stripped of the melancholy this Ohio-born New Yorker has dispensed, as well as the orchestrated effects, the album is a rather calm dispatch from the front of drug addiction, replete with references to oblivion, crashing, hiding and turning blue. "In the mirror everything's reversed," sings Arthur, who might be describing his role here in injecting notes of hope where there are none, and promises of absolute spiritual truths where there is only life "in an empty room."

Arthur arrived as a protege of Peter Gabriel, has been compared to David Bowie and the Velvets, and seems inspired in spots by Australia's great Go-Betweens. But even with its folk-harmonica basics and occasional twang und drang, there's nothing old-guard about Nuclear Daydream. Alternating between a subdued tenor and nervy falsetto, Arthur mysteriously transforms pain into beauty and emptiness into belief. When he sings "Jesus loves you/More than you know," who's gonna disagree?


Click on the Title to see the tabs.


Let's Just Be (JA Official Site Free Download Version)

Expected as an EP called "The Last Supper", the collection turned to be a full album.

All the songs appeared as a free download on the official website on December 2nd 2006, and remained available for one month only.

Until now !!

Let's Just Be (Free Download Version MP3)

Tracklist :

Baby's Got A New Friend
Skull Kiss
Cocaine Feet
Bust Me
Precious One
Take Me Home
Let's Just Be
Diamond Ring
Good Life

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Reg's Coffee House

September 9, 2006

Joseph Arthur – Another artist that many of you are familiar with but the Average Joe music fan has no clue of, Joseph Arthur writes some of the most beautiful and touching songs I have ever heard. 

Prolific is a word that can be used a little too generously in today’s music world but I dare say that Joseph Arthur is as prolific an artist as there is walking the earth today. His new CD, “Nuclear Daydream” (Lonely Astronaut), is one of his most solid releases to date and the consistent quality of the songs on it is overwhelming. 

I listened to it straight through 5 times in a row before I even thought about removing it from the player. If “You Are Free” isn’t a smash song then I need to go back to the wonderful world of corporate advertising.

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - The Guardian

By Dave Simpson

Joseph Arthur doesn't seem in a hurry to get anywhere. Now on his fifth album, having won the patronage of Michael Stipe, Peter Gabriel and scores of music critics along the way, the native New Yorker still sounds as if he can barely be bothered to get out of bed.

Still, his languid, croaky whine is peculiarly well matched to songs that seem to document some sort of malaise, whether post-romantic collapse or, judging from the number of references to needles in the lyrics, something darker. It's difficult to decide whether Arthur is the sufferer or the narrator, but he gradually sculpts love, death and a bare minimum of chords into something affecting.

Don't Give Up on People could be a John Lennon recording from beyond the grave, while the strangely moving title track is like a dark negative of the Stones' Wild Horses, with romantic yearning swapped for relationship mourning.


REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - CMJ

CMJ - October 18, 2006 - Album of the Day

Joseph Arthur's 2004 release, Our Shadows Will Remain, marked a career high for the NYC-based singersongwriter— the album's soaring sonic grandeur fulfilled potential only hinted at on the artist's prior efforts. 

After such a triumph, it's easy to view Nuclear Daydream, Arthur's fifth full-length (and first for his own Lonely Astronaut label), as something of a regression. Where Shadows was jagged and intense, Daydream feels safe and soft. But that doesn't make the album any less worthwhile. Featuring some of Arthur's strongest songwriting to date,Daydream is easily Arthur's most consistent collection—there are none of the mid-album lulls that weighed down prior releases—and arguably his most beautiful. 

Arthur has not backed away from Big Issue lyrical themes, but he delivers his heavy messages in memorable melodies and captivating arrangements that can seem simple but reveal layers and depths on repeated listens. While it may be a slight step backward, Arthur makes every inch of his journey an important one.

Michael Patrick Nelson

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - ZBoneman

By The Boneman, Sat Dec 30th, 2006 

Note : 4.5 

Back in Business - Finally! 

Though Joseph Arthur had recorded two LPs before 2000's Come To Where I'm From, it was during the turn of the century that Arthur's fortunes would take a miraculous turn. He was spotted in a New York club by none other than Peter Gabriel and before you could say "Sledgehammer" Come To Where I'm From was tapped by Entertainment Weekly as Album of the Year. Since none of us had so much as heard of him, the record wasn't on any of our lists, but I went right out and bought it and listened to it nonstop over the Holidays that year. I'd just get in my car and drive through the cold grey landscape near Park City Utah and listen to Arthur's stark and melancholy tunes that couldn't have suited the grey winter snowscapes more beautifully. 

Since then Arthur has struggled some to find his footing. Redemption's Son, the follow-up to his breakout success, wasn't a bad record but it contained precious little of the haunting melodic sense that made Come To Where I'm From such a winner. Even more disappointing was 2004s Our Shadows Will Remain that found Arthur in a quandary as to what to do with himself. The Album was purposely aimed at commercial success, with it's handful of programmed, up-tempo ditties that only pulled him further away from his strengths. There were a few strong tracks but only enough to justify the shadowy title, very little of what made him a critical success remained. 

Happily it seems that Arthur has made a concerted effort to circle the wagons and retreat to Helm's Deep and has at long last made a record that can stand beside Come To Where I'm From. Nuclear Daydream is full of the kind of small, mordant gems, that not only resound with winning melodies but lyrics that are vivid sketches that capture both a sense of place as well as emotion. Arthur's gruff, scratchy voice is an acquired taste, but it's the perfect instrument to convey his dark melodies and grave lyrics. Arthur is back in his wheelhouse and it makes for a happy ending to one of the weakest musical years in recent memory.

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Sunday Paper

by Rob O'Connor

Note : 3,5 stars

Joseph Arthur belongs in an elite club of top-drawer singer-songwriters who release consistently good albums to an audience that may or may not exist. The Akron, Ohio native was discovered by Peter Gabriel and signed to his Real World imprint, where he was promptly critically lauded and commercially ignored—the common fate of singer-songwriters who aren't likely to inspire their own line of calendars. 

Yet Arthur's songs are lyrically intelligent and poignant, his singing emotive yet restrained. He orchestrates the proceedings with a tilt toward Love's "Forever Changes" and other 1960s productions, but with a firm head in the here and now, as the bass kicks forth with modern presence. The echoed shimmers of "Automatic Situation" are lush and seductive, as if the band had been dipped into a Parisian nightclub for effect. It's in these moments, when he relies on his mastery of the past without sounding too retro, that Arthur's at his strongest. 

Arthur can emote quietly with the ghosts of T. Rex and Elliot Smith humming in his ear ("Electrical Storm"), whether singing songs about junkies ("Too Much to Hide," "Slide Away," the title track) or finding inner peace down the road ("Enough to Get Away"). He can repeat a phrase ("I'm no longer who I was, no longer who I thought I was") until its beauty is fully unpeeled. And he does so in voices that vary from emphatic whispers to a petulant, Johnny Thunders-like rasp that twists Arthur into a bit of an unexpected rock 'n' roll animal.

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Toronto Star

By Ben Rayner 

Note : 3 out of 4

A seemingly endless run of major labels has squandered and rejected Arthur's talents since his Peter Gabriel-approved 1997 debut, Big City Secrets, so it's hardly a shock that he's started his own imprint to release his fifth album, Nuclear Daydream. What's puzzling is that this route is forced upon an artist of such obviously high calibre who, makes music that, with just the right marketing nudge, could at any time have penetrated the edges of the mainstream. 

Whatever. He's ours, then. Ironically, though, in paring his ambitions back down to fit indie-dom's modest budgetary confines after the intriguing expansions of Redemption's Son and Our Shadows Will Remain, Arthur now has in hand the near-populist sequel to 2000's brilliant Come To Where I'm From that he's resisted ever since. Sonically, the two records are definite siblings, treading a barren, druggy Rust Belt strip between Cohen and Cobain that never loses track of the tune, whether mired in the echoing murk of "Black Lexus" or surrendering the crisp-but-ambiguous melodicism of "You Are Free." 

And Arthur excels at both murk and melody: "Electrical Storm" is acoustic and shattering in the Mark Kozelek sense, as one might expect from a chap with Arthur's sad-boy reputation, but the uncharacteristically light-of-touch "Enough To Get Away" — whose title seems to be referring to pills — proves he's becoming nearly as skilled as Lou Reed in employing pure pop as subversion. Either way, he gets under your skin. Joseph Arthur, with a full band in tow for the first time, plays the Mod Club on Saturday night. 

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - WYCE Music Journal

By Lane Zoerhof, August 21, 2006 

The 5th album by Arthur, and possibly the best to date. Arthur is the kind of songwriter that others envy (Michael Stipe from R.E.M. and Chris Martin from Coldplay both have covered his songs). A stunning folk rock album that’s about as infectious as a pop-punk album Arthur has the genius to write beautiful songs and gorgeous instrumentation. 

An album where any of the tracks could be radio gems, the standout tracks include the opening track “Too Much To Hide”, track 2 “Black Lexus”, track 4 “Slide Away”, track 5 “Electrical Storm” (which is my personal favorite), track 6 “You Are Free” and track 9 “Don’t Tell Your Eyes”. 

Here is an album where each song gets better then the previous. Arthur’s latest album, Nuclear Daydream, is one of the better records I’ve heard in the past few years. 

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - The Washington Post

By Patrick Foster

Halfway through "Nuclear Daydream," Joseph Arthur cautions, "I'm no longer who I was / No longer who I thought I was." Those lines make "You Are Free" one of the disc's most striking songs, but they aren't the key to this hypnotic record. On his fifth album, Arthur has undergone not a radical transformation, but a reaffirmation: His haunted songscapes and unflinching interpersonal exams have never been presented so effectively.

"Nuclear Daydream" is both the perfect introduction to Arthur's music and a continuing escalation of his vision. But it's hardly a compromise: Arthur has made the disc the first release on his own Lonely Astronaut label, and perhaps freedom from record company purse strings has fostered this flowering in his songwriting.

But with Arthur, the blooms are always dark and enigmatic. The disc begins with "Too Much to Hide," a toe-tapping rock-popper, but as with his powerful, multilayered paintings (Arthur pursues a parallel art career), first glances don't tell the story. "Black Lexus" leads a series of post-apocalyptic folk sketches that build toward the smoldering title track, a weary personal resignation. In between, Arthur, who plays most of the disc's instruments, accents his ruminations with strung-out piano worthy of Big Star's Third ("Don't Give Up on People"), sweet soul rushes ("Automatic Situation," "Slide Away") and the addictive "Enough to Get Away," which channels Nick Lowe and XTC. Like much of Arthur's unjustly unrecognized catalogue, "Nuclear Daydream" doesn't scream and stomp for your attention. But give it a chance, and it will haunt you for weeks.


REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - TheTripWire

By Erin Chandler Sep 06, 2006

About two years ago one of my favorite records ever made came out, it was Joseph Arthur's Our Shadows Will Remain, and something about it just spoke to me. Yeah, I know it doesn't fall under the British norm for that I typically go for, but I have always been a fan of Joseph and his sheer musical (and artistic) talents. Sick of other people always calling the shots and his work mistakably being overlooked in the past, Joseph decided to put out his new record out on his own. Is there anything this guy can't do? In a short amount of time he launched Lonely Astronaut Records with several friends and their first release is his newest venture, Nuclear Daydream. 

On first listen of Nuclear Daydream, the thing that stands out the most is how different this album is from Our Shadows Will Remain. While Shadows was atmospheric and grandiose, Nuclear Daydreamtakes a simpler and more straightforward approach. No, Joseph hasn't gone soft on us; instead he has given us an album that radio must hold onto. Think of it as an almost return to Come To Where I'm From. However, there are some songs that sound like they could have come from the Shadowssessions, such as the first track, "Too Much To Hide," which is an instant crowd pleaser with a catchy hook. On the other end of the spectrum are songs filled with poetic lyrics, like "Black Lexus" and "Nuclear Daydream," that tug at your heartstrings and deal with lost love in typical Joseph Arthur fashion. Then there is the gorgeously crafted "Electrical Storm," with its gentle guitar and piano that sounds so personal, like your own private performance. Joseph then picks it up a notch with the toe-tapping "You Are Free," which includes backing vocals from Kenny Siegal. 

One of the best things about Joseph Arthur is his use of layering sounds and vocal harmonies on top of each other. Many singer/songwriter artists do this, but none do it with such perfection and ease as Joseph Arthur. It really translates best in person; as sometimes it is hard to know that it's happening on record until you see it live. You can hear hints of this in "Woman" as well as all over the album if you listen with headphones, which is highly suggested. The vocal range of Joseph Arthur is something else very admirable. He can pass off soaring falsettos in the vein of Jeff Buckley and mix it with deep crooning like Leonard Cohen as heard in "When I Was Running Out Of Time" and "Don't Tell Your Eyes." A different take of this is found on "Enough To Get Away." This upbeat tune features Joseph talking vs. singing, before melting into that beautiful falsetto voice that harmonizes perfectly with his normal vocals during the chorus. 

Joseph Arthur has done it again and made an album full of gems. He is going on tour very soon and if I were you I would hurry up and get my tickets. This is going to be one hell of a show from one hell of a performer.

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - AllMusic

AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson

Note : 4 of 5 stars

The flagship release on Joseph Arthur's own Lonely Astronaut label, Nuclear Daydream is a lushly produced and exquisitely delivered collection of 12 new songs, linked by his never-less-than florid eye for sometimes-'60s pop arrangements, and a lyricism that would put you in mind of a host of other performers, if you didn't know that the likes of Michael Stipe and Chris Martin are as influenced byArthur as he is by them.

The single "Too Much to Hide" opens the set on a blustering wall of symphonics; elsewhere, Nuclear Daydream aims for a more stripped-back approach, just Arthur's curiously vulnerable vocal against an acoustic guitar, or the sounds of a blues band, rehearsing in another room. Occasionally, it does get a little too calculated -- the half-falsetto that strains through "Slide Away" puts one in mind of the preposterous squawking that Mick Jagger layered through the Stones' "Emotional Rescue." 

But the stark "Electrical Storm" and the raw "When I Was Running out of Time" celebrate Arthur at his very finest, while the closing title track has a Dylan-ish edge that also turns the cycle full-circle. Without it ever deliberately going for the jugular, Nuclear Daydream is nevertheless an album that is difficult to shake out of your ears; moreover, it's one that only grows stronger with every repeated play. With that in mind, it's too early to proclaim it Arthur's best ever effort. But it's certainly one of the year's most compulsive.

COVERART : Nuclear Daydream

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Paste Magazine

By Bud Scoppa | November 3, 2006

The multitalented Joseph Arthur (view his striking artwork at JosephArthur.com) is a metaphysician who fashions his complex interior monologues into deceptively simple pop songs.

Nuclear Daydream, his fifth album, is post-apocalyptic religious music, endlessly ponderable and disturbingly beautiful. It opens with the piano chords, throbbing bass and tambourine of “Too Much to Hide,” introducing Arthur’s deadly earnest voice as he considers the secrets humans hide from each other within a lithe melody that lifts him to the edge of his aching falsetto. 

The following, “Black Lexus,” seems inspired by Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” sounding like something the former inhabitants of Earth might sing when their silver seed touches down on their new home atop the sun. 

The arrangement is distinguished by stacked chorus harmonies that hang glistening below the melody, like stalactites in a cavern. Then comes the New Order-ish “Enough to Get Away,” allowing the listener to take one last breath before Arthur begins his descent in earnest. 

The album becomes more intoxicatingly hermetic with each successive song, taking you as deep as you dare to go.

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Indie Rock Mag

Joseph Arthur - Nuclear Daydream

Après la demi-déception de Our Shadows Will Remain The Same, Joseph Arthur nous sort le grand jeu avec un album où le classicisme folk le dispute à l’excellence.

Le début de discographie de Joseph Arthur est comme un rêve, l’enchainement de trois albums, de Big City Secrets au gargantuesque Redemption’s Son , sans oublier la série de quatre eps Junkyard Hearts , qui révélaient un des grands talents du songwriting américain underground, entre électricité crue et acoustique rêche. Le temps de Our Shadows Will Remain , on l’avait un peu perdu dans une production de nouveau riche maladroitement associée à son univers si personnel et oppressant.

Alors, plus qu’un retour aux sources, Nuclear Daydream marque une nouvelle étape de la carrière et de la vie de Joseph Arthur, si l’on se fie à l’atmosphère musicale beaucoup plus sereine qui se dégage de ce nouvel opus. Abandon total des soubresauts électriques qui parsemaient les précédents albums, présence réduite des boites à rythme et du vocoder,Joseph Arthur épure son propos et se pose en digne représentant d’un certain classicisme folk. Pour preuve, le splendide Black Lexus, qui après Mercedes sur Big City secrets , démontre à quel point les berlines de luxe l’inspirent ! Blague à part, Joseph Arthur dévoile, particulièrement dans ce titre et de manière plus générale, un talent de conteur consacré à des récits d’échecs sentimentaux ou de laissés-pour-compte du rêve américain.

Le choix du tout-acoustique pouvait laisser craindre une certaine uniformité de ton mais le bonhomme évite brillamment cet écueil en alternant titres enlevés (Too much to hide, Slide away), colère froide (When I was running out of time), ou complaintes atmosphériques (le "Midlakien" Automatic situation et ses nappes de synthés flottants ou l’apaisé Electrical storm qui, contrairement à ce que son titre promet, déroule le plus tranquillement du monde ses délicats arpèges...). Et comment ignorer la voix de Joseph Arthur ? Déjà remarquable et habitée sur ses précédents albums mais trop souvent dissimulée derrière les effets, elle livre ici des trésors de sensibilité, qu’elle grimpe dans les aigus (le très amoureux Woman) ou qu’elle évolue paisiblement au fil du somptueux Nuclear Daydream, chanson-titre comparée, à raison me semble-t-il, au Wild Horses des Stones, ne serait-ce que pour la douce lumière qui s’en échappe et qui enveloppe l’auditeur, charmé du début à la fin de cet album magistral.

Chroniques - 24.09.2006 par masto

REVIEW : Nuclear Daydream - Pitchfork

By Stephen M. Deusner; October 18, 2006

Note : 6.6

In preparation for this review, I reread my piece on Joseph Arthur's previous album, Our Shadows Will Remain, from October 2004. I came across this sentence, tucked away in the third paragraph, and had to reread it twice to understand its full implications: "Always more naively sincere boho than detached hipster, Arthur left his apartment studio in his adopted hometown of New York and decamped to the relative safety of New Orleans to record Our Shadows Will Remain." Who could have predicted that less than a year after that album was released and that review ran, Arthur's adopted hometown would become a bigger disaster area-- and an equally hotly contested battleground-- than the terrorist-rattled New York he'd left?

If Our Shadows Will Remain was Arthur's post-9/11 album, full of despair pitched between public and private, it makes sense that Nuclear Daydream would be his post-Katrina album. He's too engaged with the world, too anchored in real life, for it not to be (in fact, his song "In the Sun" was rerecorded by Michael Stipe and became the name of a Katrina relief organization). However, Arthur never addresses the subject directly on this album and maintains a respectable lyrical ambiguity, implying both a personal and a communal transformation but preventing easy catharsis or real-life correlations. As a result, Nuclear Daydream could be about a specific person (there are numerous references to needles and pills, suggesting a battle-- his or a friend's-- with drugs or some other temptation) as easily as it could pertain to a specific city. Still, a vague malaise pervades Nuclear Daydream, informing each song whether downcast ("Electrical Storm") or upbeat ("Enough to Get Away").

It's not unlike the melancholy that informs his previous albums, lyrically if not musically. He's abandoned the chaotic New York self-portraits of his first two albums, which mirrored the primitive scrawl of his paintings, and now favors a cleaner, more practiced sound with more room for ambition. In fact, he seems to be entering a phase similar to post-Pop U2 or midcareer R.E.M., when experience and ambition has erased most regional quirks or personal eccentricities. Nuclear Daydream sounds placeless, as if striving for universality. At times the music sounds like it could actually achieve that lofty goal; at times it just sounds blanched, drifting into a kind of anonymity.

Arthur seems to be reckoning with and trying to ward off this new, nameless malaise, and as a result, the songs sound unsettled, slightly off. Nothing-- not even the Jesus-loves-you chorus of "Don't Tell Your Eyes"-- sounds wholly reassuring. Nothing sounds completely hopeless either. On "You Are Free" he sings, "I'm not the man I thought I was," but it's hard to discern whether he's changed for the better or worse-- or, for that matter, whether he's referring to himself or speaking for a larger populace that has lost faith in itself.

Moving between public and individual perspectives, Nuclear Daydream begins strongly: "Too Much to Hide" bounces along on one of Arthur's most memorable melodies, "Black Lexus" gives a tender portrayal of a self-destructive woman (who may also have inspired the drug references), and the transcendent chorus of "Enough to Get Away" promises sweet escape from "controversy" to an idyllic haven. Throughout the album, Arthur multitracks his vocals so he can harmonize with himself. As a result, his stoic, textured tenor contrasts with his grainy falsetto and a surprisingly deep bass, suggesting an inner turmoil that's mirrored in the lyrics but offset by the precision of the music and his roomy production.

However, as Nuclear Daydream progresses, Arthur's solemnity gets the better of him. He slows the tempos, understates the melodies, and closes the album with a set of dirgelike acoustic laments that might hold up individually, but they become tiresome in succession. "Automatic Situation" and "Don't Give Up on People" are ethereal gospel songs, complete with hints of choir and church piano, but they get lost in the cathedral reverb, their melodies not strong enough to hold together in all that space. Regardless of its shortcomings and its inspirations, Nuclear Daydream proves a potent pair with its predecessor, not just in the progression from atomic to nuclear or from New York to New Orleans. But by the time the lackluster title track comes around, it feels as though the malaise has finally overtaken Arthur, musically if not spiritually.

INTERVIEW : 2006 On his own, in a new spirit of community

Longtime do-it-yourself singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur ditches one solo gig as he launches another: an indie record label.

JOSEPH ARTHUR'S band is setting up at the Troubadour for the night's show, but their leader isn't in the room. Try out back, one of the musicians says.

In the alley behind the club, Arthur stands in the sunlight working intently on a bright red jacket spread out on the hood of a pickup truck, applying abstract shapes to the fabric with an artist's crayon.

"Purple makes it make sense, man," says Arthur, eyeing his work.

The man standing next to him looks over and nods. Angelbert Metoyer, an on-the-rise figure on the national art scene and a friend of Arthur's, is sharing the truck's hood and working on his own piece, a drawing packed with Miro-like organic shapes and fanciful figures.

Welcome to Joseph Arthur's traveling art and music circus, a sort of bohemian road show where this visual work is incorporated into the freshly minted music played by Arthur and his band.

There's a fertile, freewheeling feel about this enterprise. The Troubadour show will include songs that the band wrote the night before, and the following day they'll go into a studio in Arcadia and record them and others for an album that will come out in April, an unconventionally short six months after Arthur's latest release, "Nuclear Daydream."

A collection of plangent ballads and emotion-drenched rock songs that crossbreeds Neil Young with the Velvet Underground, "Daydream" is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year, and it figures to resurface prominently as the year-end best-of lists appear.

Such acclaim isn't new for the Akron, Ohio, native, who's been a consummate cult hero for most of this decade. But with "Nuclear Daydream" and in its aftermath, Arthur has shaken up his whole creative world, becoming a high-profile case study of an artist responding to the challenges and opportunities afforded by the decline of the old-line music industry.

After years with large independent labels and major-affiliated companies, Arthur started his own label, Lonely Astronaut Records, to release "Nuclear Daydream." That move could be the reason that he has suffered a drop in sales with his most accessible album, from his customary cult-hero range of 30,000 to 50,000 to a meager 12,000 since its release in September.

But Arthur feels more than compensated by the new freedom it affords him.

"We're playing our new songs as we write them, and then we bootleg ourselves and sell copies of the show that night," says the singer, sitting in the Troubadour's empty bar, now wearing his freshly decorated red jacket. "So most of our new songs have already been released now.

"I would just rather be open than afraid of what that means," he says. "I like a sense of openness to everything. I think people are finding out that counterintuitive thinking along those lines is actually more the way to go. Like people letting their records be streamed for free. It's counterintuitive to logic that that would help record sales, but I guess it does."

It remains to be seen whether it will boost Arthur's, but at the moment he's most excited about being liberated from the pressure to make a commercial breakthrough.

"That's why I'm not afraid anymore," says Arthur. "The source of frustration for that breakthrough was the fear that I wouldn't be able to do this anymore. That was sort of the mode of thinking back then: You get a record deal, and in order to maintain a record deal you have to do such and such; if you don't do that you're gonna get dropped and then what, you have to go find a minimum-wage job again?

"So that breeds all kind of crazy fear," he says. "Now, I just trust that I'll basically always get to sing for my supper on some level."

Help from friends

THE sounds of Arthur's band warming up in the showroom occasionally blast into the adjacent bar as he talks, a reminder of a musical change that's proving as revolutionary for him as his new business model. This is the first time in his career that he's toured and written with other musicians, and the experience has him all charged up.

"It's interesting that after doing this for so many years really on my own, kind of extremely alone, there's this collection of people around me that's like — I've got incredible people around me right now," he says, "and I just feel like I'm having the time of my life

"I don't know what's happened in my mind or what. I've broken through in my soul…. I trust whatever's happening as what's supposed to happen with this whole band that's formed around me. I feel like everything's just beginning."

When Arthur says "extremely alone," he's talking about the solo performance method that he used for years, in which he electronically layered, distorted and enhanced his voice and guitar to create rich, atmospheric arrangements onstage. That technique became identified with Arthur and contributed to his high standing among aficionados of art-rock-inclined singer-songwriters.

But it was his evocative, wide-ranging songwriting and richly textured music that originally gave him a career foothold and earned the admiration of such elders as Peter Gabriel (who signed him to his Real World label and released his first records in the late '90s) and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, who recorded Arthur's aching ballad "In the Sun," in several versions with different singers, for Stipe's Hurricane Katrina benefit EP.

"Joe is one of those rare writer-performers where you get the sense, whatever your belief, that something greater is being channeled through his music and voice," says Stipe. "Like Patti Smith, Grant Lee Phillips, Thom Yorke, Joe trances, and the voice, the meaning, becomes bigger than him, bigger than a few pop chords or words strung together. It touches something very deep and universal."

Or as David Letterman put it after the singer's transporting performance of the falsetto anthem "Slide Away" on his "Late Show" program recently: "I want to go with those people. I would like to be with those people. I think they're probably doing things that I'm not."

Arthur, 35, can have that intoxicating, Pied Piper effect, with his old-school rock-dandy charisma and, this day anyway, a loopy enthusiasm that borders on euphoria. His music might be shadowy and atmospheric, but he's all puppy-dog eagerness as he snacks on some trail mix and regards this new combustion in his life and career.

In a group made up of guitarist Jennifer Turner (who used to back Natalie Merchant and had her own band, Furslide), bassist Sibyl Buck, keyboardist Kraig Jarret Johnson (from the Jayhawks and Golden Smog) and drummer Greg Wieczorek, rock's definitive solitary man has found a community and a collaborative laboratory, as well as partners in an exhilarating if exhausting road adventure marked by impromptu turns. They pulled his friend Metoyer onto the tour bus when they passed through the artist's hometown of Houston, so abruptly that he didn't even have a chance to pack a change of clothes. They booked the Troubadour show at the last minute when they came back to Los Angeles to appear on Craig Ferguson's late-night CBS show.

Material from the Arcadia recording sessions will be released as "Abwoon Part One (Let's Just Be)," scheduled to come out April 17, with a second CD coming out later in the year.

"I like that, two records a year. I think that's creatively very active," the Brooklyn resident says. "You're not releasing every single thing you come up with. I think you can have a nice quality there, and I think it's a pace that people can keep up with, those that want to, and those that don't can check in every other record or every three records."

Wherever this new road leads, Arthur is ready for the ride. There's his side career as a visual artist (he self-published a book of his work and had a gallery show in London) and a new passion to help war-orphaned children in Uganda, where he traveled this year.

And although he jokes that he'll "write the hits that never become hits," his low commercial yield has actually struck the ideal balance.

"It's been an amount that's made me feel like it wasn't enough, which kept me hungry, which is really vital for an artist, to be hungry and to stay where everything's a necessity," he says. "And I've been in that place since I started releasing records professionally….

"I feel incredibly fortunate that I've had a career that's been so long and so submerged. It's been a perfect ground for me to evolve as an artist in a way I could never have conceived of when I made my first record."

Come With Love (Rarities 2006-2007)


Little Drummer Boy

Little Drummer Boy  (mp3 from official website)

Joseph and The Lonely Astronauts covered this Christmas song and made it available for free download on Joseph's Myspace 10 days before Christmas 2006.

Here is the bulletin by Joseph which introduced the song :
"Merry christmas everyone
Here's our version of little drummer boy
Here in time for the holidays
Peace on earth"


Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum
When we come little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum
On my drum Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

A River Blue

A River Blue (mp3)

Shelter me
We need you
Blood of Africa
A river blue

You're our sister and our brother
Protect your father and your mother
If we all just come together
Our love can conquer whatever

Shelter me
We need you
Blood of Africa
A river blue

You're our sister and our brother
Protect your father and your mother
If we all just come together
Our love can conquer whatever

Shelter me
We need you
Blood of Africa
A river blue


Joseph Arthur traveled with Chandler and Barefoot Workshops to Uganda for the "A River Blue" project. He wrote the song A River Blue and was accompanied by all 100 youth participants who sang on the track with him. 

"A River Blue" is a song I recorded with over one hundred orphans of the LRA nightmare in Northern Uganda. I wrote the song before I went to Uganda. 
And there I felt a little embarrassed about singing this with them as I could never understand the depth of their plight. 
During my visit there I was more interested in their own songs and paintings and I was more inspired to take photos of their incredible beauty. 
However upon coming home and mixing this whole event together. 
The song (A River Blue) and our collaboration has gained power for me and strikes me now as a landmark blow against poverty and ambivilence of their golden expression. 
Please help us give them the help they need. 
Go to ariverblue.org and find out what we are doing and how you can help. 
God Bless You. Magical sons and daughters. 
Walk with us into freedom and love." Joseph

Last Train To Ithaca

Last Train To Ithaca  (mp3 from official website)

What is it you're born to lose
When you're just like the rest of us
Just like the rest of us

There's really nothing you can lose
On the last train to Ithaca
Last train to Ithaca

This light
This light is the devil's smoke
On the year we choke
This light
This light is a needle mark
The forgotten spark

Everybody lost their home
In a wind named Katrina
Wind named Katrina

I wonder what it was he saw
Through the eye of a hurricane
Eye of a hurricane

This light
This light is the devil's smoke
On the year we choke
This light
This light is a needle mark
The forgotten spark


A song written to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The song was released via Joseph's website on 2006.05.18, available for free download

In an interview on BBC 6Music (Phill Jupitus show) on 2006.06.01, Joseph talked about the song before it was aired. This was the first (and only known) timed the song has been publically broadcast.

A short extract of the song from 2005 December with Pascal Wyse on trombone is available here.

"Here is a song written soon after Hurricane Katrina struck. There is a line in it "Everybody lost their home in a wind named Katrina." Not only the people of New Orleans but all Americans were abandoned in the wake of this catastrophe. There is still much to be done."

I offer this song as a reminder of the people who still need our help. Please make a donation large or small at www.mercycorps.org or visit inthesunfoundation.org.

Thank you.
Joseph Arthur

2006 Gigography

Here is the list of concerts by Joseph Arthur in 2014.

Concerts in green are concerts with an existing recording.

If you own an audio / video recording and an "unavailable" concert, thank you kindly send me an email to whenyoucryyoureyesarehollow@gmail.com

2006-02-09 * Art exhibition *, London UK
2006-02-14 Sound Knowledge Instore, Marlborough UK
2006-02-15 Spillers Instore, Cardiff UK
2006-02-16 Reveal Instore, Derby UK
2006-02-17 Avalanche Instore, Glasgow UK
2006-02-18 BBC Radio 4, London UK
2006-02-20 XFM Radio, London UK
2006-02-21 BBC Radio Oxford, Oxford UK
2006-02-21 Zodiac, Oxford UK
2006-02-22 Sugarmill, Stoke UK
2006-02-24 Shepherds Bush Empire, London UK
2006-02-25 BBC2 Radio, London UK
2006-03-20 Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, NY USA
2006-04-06 Galeries Lafayette, Paris France
2006-04-06 Hard Rock Cafe, Paris France
2006-04-08 The Living Room, New York, NY USA
2006-04-17 XFM Scotland, ? UK
2006-05-22 Beverly Hilton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA USA
2006-05-30 David's Music Store, Letchworth UK
2006-05-31 Concorde2, Brighton UK
2006-06-01 Phill Breakfast Show, BBC6, London UK
2006-06-01 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London UK
2006-06-02 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London UK
2006-07-23 Paleo Festival, Nyon Switzerland
2006-08-13 A&E Television, New York, NY USA
2006-09-02 Osheaga Festival, Montreal Canada
2006-09-18 WBJB Radio, Lincroft, NJ USA
2006-09-25 World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA USA
2006-09-26 Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ USA
2006-09-27 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY USA
2006-09-28 Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA USA
2006-09-30 The Mod Club Theater, Toronto Canada
2006-10-02 Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI USA
2006-10-03 WFUV Radio, New York, NY USA
2006-10-03 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH USA
2006-10-04 Double Door, Chicago, IL USA
2006-10-05 Birdy's, Indianapolis, IN USA
2006-10-06 MPRadio, Minneapolis, MN USA
2006-10-06 Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN USA
2006-10-07 KTBG Radio, Lawrence, KS USA
2006-10-07 The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS USA
2006-10-08 BlueBird Theater, Denver, CO USA
2006-10-10 David Letterman Show, New York, NY USA
2006-10-11 Red Room, Vancouver Canada
2006-10-12 Triple Door, Seattle, WA USA
2006-10-12 Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA USA
2006-10-13 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR USA
2006-10-14 John Henry's, Eugene, OR USA
2006-10-15 Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, CA USA
2006-10-16 KCRW Radio, Santa Monica, CA USA
2006-10-17 The El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA USA
2006-10-18 WXPN Radio, Philadelphia, PA USA
2006-10-18 Fingerprints, Long Beach, CA USA
2006-10-19 House of Blues, San Diego, CA USA
2006-10-20 The Clubhouse, Phoenix, AZ USA
2006-10-22 Opolis, Norman, OK USA
2006-10-23 Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas, TX USA
2006-10-24 The Meridian, Houston, TX USA
2006-10-25 Waterloo Records, Austin, TX USA
2006-10-25 The Parish, Austin, TX USA
2006-10-28 Music Factory, New Orleans, LA USA
2006-10-28 Voodoo Music Fest, New Orleans, LA USA
2006-10-29 3rd & Lindsley, Nashville, TN USA
2006-10-30 Paste Magazine, Atlanta, GA USA
2006-10-30 The Loft, Atlanta, GA USA
2006-11-01 WTMD Radio, Towson, MD USA
2006-11-01 Rams Head Tavern, Annapolis, MD USA
2006-11-02 Jammin' Java, Vienna, VA USA
2006-11-03 WNYC Radio, New York, NY USA
2006-11-03 Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY USA
2006-11-04 Sellersville Theater1894, Sellersville, PA USA
2006-11-06 WAPS Summit Radio, Akron, OH USA
2006-11-06 Lime Spider, Akron, OH USA
2006-11-09 Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA USA
2006-11-09 CD USA, Los Angeles, CA USA
2006-11-10 XM Radio channel 29, New York, NY USA
2006-11-16 The Independent, San Francisco, CA USA
2006-12-01 House Of Blues, Los Angeles, CA USA
2006-12-02 Craig Ferguson Show, Los Angeles, CA USA


INTERVIEW : 2006-10-30 Spiritualized : Arthur puts his faith in the healing power of art. Plus, the dude can sing. (by Hugo Lindgren)

At the Bowery Ballroom last month, Joseph Arthur had a costume change before his encore and came out wearing a white suit, no shirt, and a big cross dangling around his neck. With tangled hair and a three-day beard, he looked like some mental-ward Evangelist, and then he started singing like one, too. Joined onstage by Michael Stipe, Arthur belted out his signature anthem “In the Sun,” with its rousing hook, “May God’s love be with you, always, always.” The crowd, a typical downtown assortment of 30-year-olds in hoodies and jeans, knew every word and lustily sang along, as if trying to atone for all those Sunday-school classes they blew off.

“I hate religion,” Arthur had told me a few days earlier, when we met at his loft in Dumbo. "But I do believe there’s some intelligence guiding this whole thing. You can call it Jesus or whatever you want.”

In his years as a solo act, Arthur performed a strange twist on the one-man band. After looping a couple of layers of acoustic guitar through a “Jam Man,” he would sing with the mike in one hand while painting with the other. Earlier this year, he released a book of paintings, We Almost Made It,which features some of those works. A mostly instrumental CD accompanies the reproductions of Arthur’s spooky, primitive figures. The Vertigo Gallery in London exhibited Arthur’s works in February. Though his new bandmates have taken the place of the easel, there is still plenty of beauty onstage: Arthur’s bass player, Sybil Buck, has modeled for Nicole Miller, among others.

Onstage and on record, Arthur exudes a coolness that makes you think he could be world famous. And at one point in his career, he was marked for stardom. The mini-legend of Joseph Arthur goes like this: When he was a 25-year-old nobody working at a guitar shop in Atlanta (“They told me I was the worst employee in the history of the store,” he says), a demo tape of his made its way, via friends of friends, into the hands of Peter Gabriel, who invited him to record at his studio in England. This is, in certain music circles, the equivalent of being summoned to Rome to pray with the pope. Arthur went with proper humility. “There were all these major people there, like Joe Strummer. I thought they’d maybe let me play a little bass. But then Peter asked me to write some lyrics, and the next thing I know, I’m in there singing with him.”

It’s been almost ten years since, and Arthur’s career has proceeded fitfully. There’s been one constant, however: He has made consistently excellent rock music. His latest album, Nuclear Daydream, is his fifth, and it is a tutorial in finely textured songwriting. The tunes are generally slow to mid-tempo, built from simple chord progressions and driven by a powerful, versatile voice that blends bits of Jagger, Dylan, Bowie, and Stipe. Arthur’s lyrics tend to be blunt vignettes about the struggles of love and faith, and they do occasionally veer into solipsistic clichés. But because his delivery is so full bore, you find yourself helplessly singing along even to lyrics that might otherwise make you wince, such as “Woman, you make me feel / Woman, are you for real?” And though the sentiments are often bleak, Arthur takes such cathartic pleasure in expressing them that even the darkest moments contain a glimmer of hopefulness.

Arthur is a solo artist in the truest sense of the word. He plays nearly all the instruments on his albums, and after shuttling through a series of major and minor labels, he now operates his own record company, Lonely Astronaut. Fortunately, technology and the trajectory of the music business favor the solo practitioner. With a few thousand bucks of computer equipment, a lone dude like Arthur can construct homemade walls of sound that would blow what’s left of Phil Spector’s mind. You don’t need a band, except to tour, and not necessarily even then. Arthur used to go out on the road alone with an acoustic guitar and electronic sampling equipment. Such a lean operation gave him the best chance to make a living in a business where you can expect to be robbed by your own fans.

Even as he becomes an entrepreneur, Arthur remains singularly focused on making art. When I visited him at his loft, a barely postindustrial den that might as well be a stop on the F train for how loud it sounds going by, the floor was covered with kids’ drawings, several dozen of them. From across the room, they looked like a glorious Technicolor quilt, but up close, you could see that each little picture depicted a horrific scene—soldiers killing and raping, helicopters spewing gunfire. These had been produced by orphans at a refugee camp in northern Uganda, where Arthur had just visited to deliver art supplies and help the kids learn to draw. In the few days since he’d returned, he’d been on a creative binge himself, writing five new songs.

“It’s the first time in my life I’ve ever done anything like that,” he says of the trip to Uganda, “and it was totally amazing. These people have experienced so many horrible things, and yet we saw more joy there than you see on the streets of New York. Happy, you know, just to be alive. And the kids were ecstatic to make their own drawings and express what was inside of them. If that doesn’t inspire you as an artist, nothing will.”


2006-10-20 - The Clubhouse, Phoenix

On Stage :

with the Lonely Astronauts :
Kraig Jarret Johnson (guitar)
Jennifer Turner (guitar)
Sibyl Buck (bass)
Greg Wiz (drums)

Setlist : 

take it away
precious one
too much to hide
black lexus
enough to get away
slide away
electrical storm
i am the witness
don't tell your eyes
when i was running out of time
cocaine feet
devil's broom
september baby
miss you (rolling stones cover)
good about me
in the sun
take me home
honey and the moon

Recording :

The concert was officially recorded, and available for download on JA's website

Review :

October 27, 2006 by Shane Handler

Following Joseph Arthur’s recent appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, the talk show host announced “I want to go with those people. I would like to be with those people.” Whatever, Dave exactly meant by that isn’t quite clear, but one thing made sense – Joseph Arthur is intriguing. Touring with a full-fledged 70’s draped band, sparked with the occasional “Prince” harmonies, the melodic singer-songwriter is taking a groovy approach these days; a break from his moody one man band live performances that incorporated looping techniques.

Playing to a clearly undersold Friday night crowd at The Clubhouse, Arthur and his band clearly didn’t seem undeterred by the hundred or so peeps in attendance. It’s as obvious as Fergie’s leg appeal, Joseph Arthur is one talented dude, with a knock-dead voice that can rock out dark and brooding, get falsetto fresh or pull off the folkly acoustic singer-songwriter thing.

Incorporating a full band for his fall tour in support of his fifth album, Nuclear Daydream, Arthur had a four-piece section that included Kraig Jarret Johnson of Golden Smog/The Jayhawks, guitarist Jen Turner and a rhythm section. Displaying his fiery side early on, Arthur stopped the second song to grumble about the feedback in the sound-mix. Almost horrifying the crowd, he later warmed up and made like a boy scout, making “nice” with a ten-year old riding the rail, and bending down to ask for her name.

A true artist, as displayed by his eccentric painted figurines on the drum kit and his guitar, Arthur, using a leaf blower, blew rolls of toilet paper on a poll into the crowd, much to his curious fascination. On previous tours, Arthur would loop his guitar and paint for the audience on the stage, however, this toilet paper trick appeared less pretentious.

However, it was during a cover of The Stones’ “ Miss You” that Arthur got loose and let his Jagger out. Despite the show’s technical shortcomings, Joseph Arthur proved to be a true professional, giving his all to a small crowd on a Friday night. Lets hope he moves onto bigger crowds soon – his oversized talent certainly deserves it.


2006-10-16 - Morning Becomes Eclectic, KCRW Radio, Santa Monica

On Stage :

Radio session, with the Lonely Astronauts :

Kraig Jarret Johnson (guitar)
Jennifer Turner (guitar)
Sibyl Buck (bass)
Greg Wiz (drums)

Setlist : 

slide away
enough to get away
electrical storm
black lexus
nuclear daydream
when i was running out of time
don't tell your eyes

Recording :

This session is still available at KCRW website.

A FLAC copy of the broadcast could be downloaded on Dime or here.


INTERVIEW : 2006-09-27 Joseph Arthur strikes out on his own label with new album, Nuclear Daydream (by Gregory Gaston)

Though often a solo act, Joseph Arthur has assembled a full band for his current tour. Never one to waste time between gigs, Joseph Arthur, multi-tasker extraordinaire, speaks to me by cell phone as he walks through Time Square in New York City on a Friday afternoon.

"We just finished playing a studio gig for Sirius radio, which went well," he relays.

Amidst the din of Manhattan, from sirens to static, his voice bleeds through the speaker in tired but jubilant tones. The Akron-born/Brooklyn-based Arthur has just released his fifth full-length record, Nuclear Daydream, and he's busy showcasing it for radio and tour spots. By now he's familiar with the promotion process, but Daydream especially demands that he makes the rounds, since it's probably his most accessible project to date.

Discovered via a demo tape by Peter Gabriel in 1995 and subsequently signed to Gabriel's Real World label, Arthur has teetered on the edge of mainstream success for a few years now. Several of his songs have been featured on soundtracks and been used for benefit causes.

Known for his one-man band capabilities in the studio and live, Arthur often records and performs solo. But he's not only a prolific songwriter: He also paints (sometimes, improbably enough, on stage while performing), writes poetry and publishes his journals. He usually provides his own artwork for his CDs as well, and in 1999 he was nominated for a Grammy for these collages. Recently, he published a book collection of his primitivism art called We Almost Made It.

His music revels in its lo-fi sensibilities, from the Trip Hop loops that anchor many of his songs to the swirling acoustics that glimmer through the murky beats. His voice rides over the song textures with husky resonance, providing just enough grit to suck listeners into the atmospheric blend.

In regards to recording Daydream, he says, "I wanted this record to be a little looser and more accessible than some of my other stuff." No doubt he achieves that on the tuneful disc. These 12 songs still retain the dark pulse that beats through his earlier work, but they also glisten with more polished melodies.

"I expected to make even more of an acoustic record than this turned out to be," he confesses.

But even with its more pronounced ear-friendly tendencies, Daydream still challenges with somber tales of urban love and decay, a scorched love among the ruins. It's a New York record, with many of the city's disparate sources filtered in with impressionistic traces. Daydream ranges from the rollicking Pop single, "Enough to Get Away," to the whispered, tender desolation of the title track. "You Are Free" gives clues to Arthur's changing state, as he sings, "Those days are gone/I'm no longer who I was/No longer who I thought I was."

Arthur admits he's one of the lucky songwriters whose muse rarely deserts him.

"I don't sweat songs so much or overwork them," he says. "They do sort of come easy for me. Often I'll just improvise in the studio, inventing lines as I go. If you follow your train of thought with lyrics, eventually you'll come up with something good."

He taps into this free-flow artistic process through all his work; it's the same impulse that leads him to paint onstage or release many of his shows on self-recorded bootleg discs after the concerts. "People tend to be too uptight about art," Arthur says. "I like to put myself out there."

He rarely sticks to standard set lists either, so his recorded shows spark with spontaneity and take risks more often than not.

In today's world of lawsuits, copyright infringements and downloading, it's refreshing to hear an artist speak like this. He's generous with his music and his art, and takes inspiration from the very people for whom he performs.

"I get so much feedback from my fans," he says. "It helps me figure out what's working and what's not."

On this new tour he's playing with a full band for the first time in quite a while. As he discusses the band, I can hear the satisfaction in his voice.

"We've got Jen Turner and Sybil Buck on guitar and bass, Greg Wiz on drums, and Kraig Johnson from Golden Smog might join us soon too," he says.

After performing solo for so long, he must find it almost relaxing to rely on others a bit more and feel less pressure onstage.

"I don't have to play guitar now if I don't feel like it," he says. "And I probably won't paint onstage anymore either, at least for a few years. I've done that."

This looks like a high-profile, banner year for Joseph Arthur. Besides his new record, label and tour, he just contributed a song to Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, a Pirates of the Caribbean-inspired collection that also features Bono, Lucinda Williams and Richard Thompson, among others. Michael Stipe from R.E.M. recently recorded an EP with versions of Arthur's early, great single, "In the Sun," for Hurricane Katrina relief. And he'll be on David Letterman's show Oct. 10 to promote the new disc amidst a steady stream of tour dates.

Evidently, all of the promo work and producing all these different genres of art wasn't enough for Arthur; in his spare time, he recently started his own record label, Lonely Astronaut Records. Fittingly enough, Nuclear Daydream is the first release on the label.

"If we have some success, we might be able to sign other bands," he says of his imprint. "There's so much good stuff out there now."

Arthur admits he mainly just wants more control over the entire process.

"My idea for (the label) comes from wanting to put out music as fast as I can make it. I want it to stay current," he says. He doesn't have to wait for a bigger label's distribution deals anymore; all decisions root back to Arthur, and that's how he wants it. 


2006-05-22 - ASCAP 2006 Pop Music Awards, Beverly Hilton Hotel , Los Angeles

On Stage :

Solo performance for the ASCAP 2006 Pop Music Awards

"In recognition of the impact of new and developing musical genres which help shape the future of American music and which gain early popularity on college radio, ASCAP is proud to present the 2006 ASCAP College Vanguard Award to Joseph Arthur. This award is also presented to Joseph Arthur in appreciation of his compelling song, "In the Sun," and his generous contributions to the Hurricane Katrina Relief effort."

Setlist : 

in the sun

Recording :

Sadly, there's no audio recording of this event. 
If I am wrong, thank you to inform me by email.


PRESS KIT : The Invisible Parade


We Almost Made It - Limited Edition Run Of 5000 Copies 
Includes New Instrumental Album The Invisible Parade 

May 8, 2006 Critically acclaimed musician Joseph Arthur will release his first ever hardcover book of original art titled We Almost Made It on May 18th, 2006 through 14th Floor Publishing. 

Arthur's book will be a limited edition run with only 5000 copies being made available to the public. Fans can log onto beginning today for pre-sale information. A brand new 21-track mostly-instrumental album called The Invisible Parade will accompany every copy of the book. 

"This project started as a zine, with drawings and poems and turned into an art book with a soundtrack, Joseph commented. "Typically a package is built to support and protect the music; this was the other way around. The music was built to support and protect the package. In a digital age this could be considered a throwback to a time when the artwork was important. 

Arthurs original paintings have become a hot collectable for his fans. During each of his live performances he constructs a new piece of art live on stage. Arthur recently held his first ever major art show at the Vertigo Galleries in London this past February. We Almost Made It is the first time a collection of his artwork has been made available for publication. 

Joseph Arthur will be returning to London to perform two shows at Queen Elizabeth Hall on June 1st & 2nd. His latest studio album Our Shadows Will Remain is currently drawing rave reviews from the UK media. 

Arthur recently produced Greg Connors new album, Here, There And Anymore and lent his vocals to several tracks of the forthcoming Twilight Singers album Powder Burns. Currently, Arthur is putting the finishing touches on a brand new studio album expected to be released in the U.S. this fall.



INTERVIEW : 2006-04-26 Glasswerk Interview (by Cathryn Hopkins)

The evening I went to meet Joseph Arthur, I wandered aimlessly around the Old Street area for a while before finally finding myself in the intimate setting of the Vertigo Gallery a couple of days before the opening of his first UK art exhibition. Of course, I’d seen photos etc. of Jo before but those images hadn’t really prepared me for the massive presence that greeted me with a low American drawl, before showing me a painting that he’d just created (The outline of a head – many of his creations seem to involve a person/people of sorts). We then sit down on two chairs and, minus a move downstairs where we settled ourselves cross-legged on the floor surrounded by his art, this is the extent of my half hour with Joseph Arthur (the long version, for the true fans): 

Cat: You record all your gigs. Have you been doing that since the start – before Real World picked you up? 

JA: Peter Gabriel gave me the idea – he said you should definitely record every performance. Virgin Records wouldn’t let me do it at the time. A couple years later this guy Ran, who runs a great record shop on Long Beach, gave me the idea again and I started doing it. 

Cat: When you do the live stuff do you think beforehand, “This has to be different to my last live thing because it’s all going to be recorded and I don’t want similar CDs”? 

JA: No, I think I want to do that a bit anyway, I guess it comes into my mind not to be too samey about it but it’s impossible to do something completely unique every single night, although I guess it’s going to be relatively unique due to the nature of the show. But I try to change it up a bit but don’t freak myself out over it. I really just don’t think about it because if you do then your fear won’t allow you to do it. Most things in art are like that. The more unconscious you are about it, maybe the better. 

Cat: You’ve been doing your own artwork for ages, when did you start bringing your music and art together in your live shows? 

JA: Just recently - last year. 

Cat: Do you have an idea beforehand of what you’re going to paint? 

JA: Sometimes but not always. 

Cat: Is it based on the atmosphere of the place? 

JA: A painting is determined by the first thing you put on it and that then suggests another thing to put on it. 

Cat: And the first thing you put on it – how’s that determined? 

JA: Just randomly. 

Cat: You’ve done bigger gigs supporting Coldplay and REM, do you record those gigs as well? 

JA: Well, you only get 40 minutes but, yeah, we recorded those but didn’t sell them straight afterwards. 

Cat: But are they on sale on the internet? 

JA: Oh I don’t know, you just record for prosperity’s sake. But things fade away, you can’t do something with everything, but loads of the shows are on sale on the website. 

Cat: Your art work – none of that is on sale, is it? 

JA: Nah, I gotta start trying to do that, not sure why I haven’t – it’s weird. 

Cat: So you’re not trying to keep your artwork to yourself? 

JA: I’ve sold a couple of things but I’ve not really sold loads. I’d really like to try and get proper gallery representation and get someone to deal with the business side of things – it’s weird trying to sell your own stuff. 

Cat: Would you keep that separate from your music? 

JA: I’d make an instrumental CD to accompany the exhibition. I went to a Robert Rauschenberg show at the Whitney right before I came here and I thought there’s never really music in art galleries. And I really like Rauschenberg but thought music would be a great addition. 

Cat: Is this your first show? 

JA: Well, I did one other exhibition of live paintings in America but this is my first exhibition of art I’ve worked on at home. 

Cat: What are your artistic influences? 

JA: de Kooning, Cy Twombly, Picasso, Basquiat, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock. 

Cat: A lot of the pieces are people-based, is that a conscious decision? A recurring theme? Do you think about it or just do it? 

JA: I tend to draw a similar character a lot of the time. 

Cat: Is this character anyone in particular? 

JA: Nah, I don’t think so, I don’t know. 

Cat: Your latest album was the first one with a concept, a story, it’s a lot shorter and more precise. Is this for a reason? 

JA: The record I put out before that was 74 minutes long so I was conscious of the fact that I wanted to make something more concise so deliberately tried to make it shorter but it almost was really long as it’s always hard to cut things out. But the older I get, the better I get at cutting things out. 

Cat: Were you brutal on yourself? 

JA: Not really, just like records which are shorter. 

Cat: And how do you decide what to cut out? 

JA: I basically cut out things that weren’t holding my interest after ten days even if I like the song and it ended up as 11 tracks. 

Cat: I guess that’s why most albums are 11 tracks long – the human attention span. What’s your new album called? 

JA: “Invisible Parade”. 

Cat: And what’s going to happen with that? 

JA: I don’t know yet. It’s way more minimal…acoustic based. Much less production. No reverb on the vocals. 

Cat: Is that a one-off or do you see yourself going down that stylistic route? 

JA: I just wanted to do a record that was minimal as my last two albums weren’t. But I’m working on a bigger record at the moment too. 

Cat: The cutting down of the album and song durations – was that for commercial reasons? 

JA: I like the idea of someone listening to a record the whole way through, getting to the end and wanting to listen to it again, instead of getting 5 songs from the end and getting bored. It’s like putting artwork on every space of ceiling and wall – it’s too much. 

Cat: What’s the Nappy Dug Out? 

JA: Mike Nepolitana – Nappy – it’s what it’s called – his studio. 

Cat: Did you go to New Orleans with the intention of recording? 

JA: Yeah I’m always trying to do something otherwise I get bored my mind goes crazy. I was also trying to buy a house. 

Cat: What percentage of the songs were written before you went? 

JA: Most of them I already had. 

Cat: Some of your songs have been used in films and commercials – how did that all come about for someone who is quite underground? 

JA: The advert came at a time I wasn’t getting much exposure and it was when many people were breaking their songs through advertisements. I kinda regret saying yes to that. I don’t regret saying yes to any TV or movies ‘cause I think that’s a cool way to expose your art. I don’t like the idea of my music selling something but I don’t mind it being used in a TV show, even if it’s not high art. But it’s cool, I like to expose things that way. There was one time this gossip TV show wanted to use “In The Sun” but I said no. It was the Insider – a feature on a teacher who went to jail for getting married to her 14-yr old student. 

Cat: You’ve been in England quite a bit; France too... 

JA: It’s going well over here, I have good representation and people like it a lot. 

Cat: In light of what’s happened in New Orleans, how were people you know affected? 

JA: The homes of a couple of my friends went completely underwater but nobody died. 

Cat: How do you feel about the way it was handled by the government? 

JA: I think America got really disillusioned by the whole thing. 

Cat: Rightly so? 

JA: Rightly so. Even more than the war. It just realised that the administration was full of sh*t on an entirely new level. 

Cat: Would you call any of your songs political? 

JA: Yeah, I guess a couple – not really totally political. “All Of Your Hands” seems quite political to me. 

Cat: Do lyrics or melody drive a song for you? 

JA: Melody first, lyrics suggest themselves. 

Cat: When do the arrangement ideas come? 

JA: Kinda all just forms. Not a lot of thought behind it. 

Cat: Any musical training? 

JA: *yawns* 

Cat: Sorry, am I boring you? 

JA: No, no – jet lag. (OK, if you say so!) Not really, never went to college. I picked the guitar up but no proper music training. 

Cat: Who did you listen to to teach yourself ‘The Craft’? 

JA: I went through all kinds of phases. I listened to a lot of jazz fusion – Jaco Pastorius, Miles Davis. I wanted to be a jazz bass player. 

Cat: Have you seen “Shadows And Light” with Joni Mitchell and Jaco Pastorius where he does that amazing live looping? (I get excited and go on for a bit about the concert as JA nods along enthusiastically…I think) 

JA: He’s amazing… 

Cat: And after the jazz fusion? 

JA: Well, before that I was into Van Halen, then jazz fusion, then things my sister was into – Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan. Then Jimi Hendrix – really into him. Think that’s where I got my recording philosophy from – just complete experimentation. Everything’s ok so let’s just try anything. Then of course, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young – all great songwriters. 

Cat: You’ve been touring solo and your art is all solo. Can you see yourself staying solo or do you want to collaborate? 

JA: I want collaborate, I want to eventually have a band but I like performing the way I perform too.

Cat: Even with a band, would you keep the live-looping element? 

JA: Yeah, I think that’s my live instrument. My set up would stay the same; I’d just add musicians to it. 

Cat: Who would you want to be in your band? 

JA: Well, I like this guy Pat Sansone; he plays with Wilco now although I toured with him a while ago. Then for a drummer, G-Whiz, Greg Whiz – great drummer. 

Cat: What was it like doing the bigger stadium gigs? 

JA: It was pretty amazing but I got used to it. Michael would introduce me to the audience so I had a foot in the door, walking on stage. And they were real receptive and good. It worked out. 

Cat: You’ve got a book coming out of your art work – everything or a selection? 

JA: A selection of everything. 

Cat: Do you have commentaries? 

JA: Just pictures. It was going to include poems but now it’s just pictures. 

Cat: Why? 

JA: I needed space! 

Cat: Did you write a forward? 

JA: No – no explanation. 

Cat: Back to the live sampling – did you start doing that ‘cause of Hendrix? 

JA: It was this guy, Paul Ridout, who asked me if I’d ever played with delays and he helped me set up this system. I was off touring with “Big City Secrets” (his Real World debut) so started doing it for quite a long time. 

Cat: The album after – “Come To Wherever I’m From”, is quite different to your debut. Was that due to discovering live sampling in the interim period? 

JA: I think it was more that I had the confidence to produce it more myself. I was a lot more vocal about the direction – I had a vision, whereas with “Big City Secrets” I was more blown away that I was getting this chance to make a record. The producer was Marcus Dravs, great producer. He was really strong and so picked the direction more in the first album. My debut is an interesting record, but I’m not mad about it. It’s quite different, which is cool. They’re all quite different from each other. 

Cat: But there’s more of a progression between the other 3, whilst “Big City Secrets” stands alone with its more traditional song-writing. 

JA: Yeah, I agree. (Even if he didn’t, I guess that was the easy answer to get me off his back!) 

Cat: One last thing – most favourite and least favourite contemporary musician. 

JA: I like Cat Power a lot, she’s a solo artist and does her own thing. 

Cat: Least favourite? 

JA: Uh.. I dunno, can’t think of anybody that I wanna bust. 

And with that it was the end of my time with Joseph Arthur, a laid back and pretty open artist, who I saw perform a couple of weeks later at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. 
To be absolutely honest, I love his voice with it’s affecting extremes of rumbly bass and ethereal falsetto and some of his looping is ingenious, but I feel that it’s hard for anyone to hold an audience and a stage, especially one as expansive as SBE, for an hour. It did, at times, lack in variety, and some of the songs were lost to me. For me, not being a complete JA afficianado, the high points were the well known numbers like “Even Tho” and the Hurricane Katrina single, “In The Sun”. 

There were some fun lights going on behind JA but the painting wasn’t fantastic, although one can always be consistent with something spontaneous! All in all, a career I shall continue to follow and a man that was a pleasure to meet.