2007 Gigography

Here is the list of concerts by Joseph Arthur in 2007.

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

2007-01-03 Jimmy Kimmel Live, Los Angeles, CA USA
2007-02-22 Knitting Factory, New York, NY USA
2007-03-08 Healey's, Toronto Canada
2007-04-05 Carnegie Hall, New York, NY USA
2007-04-10 CBC Radio Canada, Montreal Canada
2007-04-10 O Patro Vys, Montreal Canada
2007-04-13 Global TV, Montreal Canada
2007-04-13 Conan O'Brien Show, New York, NY USA
2007-04-15 La Tulipe, Montreal Canada
2007-04-17 Theater of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA USA
2007-04-18 Middle East, Boston, MA USA
2007-04-19 Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY USA
2007-04-20 J&R, New York, NY USA
2007-04-20 Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ USA
2007-04-21 Sonar Club Stage, Baltimore, MD USA
2007-04-22 Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH USA
2007-04-23 Mr. Small's Theater, Millvale, PA USA
2007-04-24 WOXY Radio, Cincinnati, OH USA
2007-04-24 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati, OH USA
2007-04-25 Q101 Radio, Chicago, IL USA
2007-04-25 Double Door, Chicago, IL USA
2007-04-26 WORT Radio, Madison, WI USA
2007-04-26 High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI USA
2007-04-27 MPRadio, Minneapolis, MN USA
2007-04-27 Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, MN USA
2007-04-29 Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO USA
2007-04-30 Slowtrain Music, Salt Lake City, UT USA
2007-05-02 Neumo's, Seattle, WA USA
2007-05-03 Plaza Club, Vancouver Canada
2007-05-04 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR USA
2007-05-06 Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA USA
2007-05-07 Carson Daly TV Show, Los Angeles, CA USA
2007-05-08 The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, CA USA
2007-05-09 The Roxy Theatre, Los Angeles, CA USA
2007-05-11 Cambridge Room @ HOB, Dallas, TX USA
2007-05-12 The Parish, Austin, TX USA
2007-05-13 The Engine Room, Houston, TX USA
2007-05-14 One Eyed Jacks, New Orleans, LA USA
2007-05-16 Zydeco, Birmingham, AL USA
2007-05-17 Smith's Olde Bar, Atlanta, GA USA
2007-05-18 40 Watt Club, Athens, GA USA
2007-05-19 Exit/In, Nashville, TN USA
2007-05-20 Lime Spider, Akron, OH USA
2007-05-21 Nightclub 9:30, Washington, DC USA
2007-05-23 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY USA
2007-05-25 Canada AM Soundstage, Toronto Canada
2007-05-25 Sam The Record Man, Toronto Canada
2007-05-25 Mod Club, Toronto Canada
2007-07-08 Festival d'été de Québec, Quebec City Canada
2007-07-09 Le Telephone Rouge, Sherbrooke Canada
2007-07-10 Radio-Canada Television, Quebec City Canada
2007-07-21 Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY USA
2007-09-07 MusicHall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY USA
2007-09-14 KGSR Radio, Austin, TX USA
2007-09-14 Austin City Limits, Austin, TX USA
2007-09-14 Maggie Mae's, Austin, TX USA
2007-09-24 CHYZ Radiographie 2, Quebec City Canada
2007-09-28 KPFT Radio, Houston, TX USA
2007-09-28 MOMAR, Brooklyn, NY USA
2007-10-04 Radio-Canada Television, Montreal Canada
2007-10-06 Pop Montreal, Montreal Canada
2007-10-12 KUT Radio, Austin, TX USA
2007-10-25 Vieux Clocher, Sherbrooke Canada
2007-10-26 Le National, Montreal Canada
2007-10-27 Théâtre Petit Champlain, Quebec City Canada
2007-10-28 Le Vaisseau d'Or, Quebec City Canada
2007-10-28 Théâtre Petit Champlain, Quebec City Canada
2007-11-16 Carling Academy, Liverpool UK
2007-11-17 Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh UK
2007-11-18 Fibbers, York UK
2007-11-19 Carling Academy, Birmingham UK
2007-11-20 ULU, London UK
2007-11-21 The 12 Bar, Swindon UK
2007-11-22 Talking Heads, Southampton UK
2007-11-24 Crossing Border, The Hague Netherlands
2007-11-25 Le Botanique, Brussels Belgium
2007-11-27 Les Docks, Lausanne Switzerland
2007-11-29 Loco Club, Valencia Spain
2007-11-30 Cafe del Teatre, Lleida Spain
2007-12-01 12 y Medio, Murcia Spain
2007-12-04 El Sol, Madrid Spain
2007-12-05 Gazteszena, San Sebastian Spain
2007-12-06 Palacio de Festivales, Santander Spain
2007-12-07 Radio Euskadi, Bilbao Spain
2007-12-07 Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao Spain
2007-12-08 Primavera Club Festival, Barcelona Spain
2007-12-09 Palma Arena, Mallorca Spain
2007-12-10 La Maroquinerie, Paris France
2007-12-11 Radio Campus, Paris France

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Toronto Star

By Ben Rayner

Note : 2.5 of 4 stars

He's never scrawled "SLAVE" across his cheek or changed his name to a symbol, but Joseph Arthur already seems intent upon running with his emancipation from numerous major-label demands to a Prince-ly degree of self-indulgence. 

Arthur has hooked up with a quartet collectively dubbed the Lonely Astronauts for Let's Just Be, the first of two planned albums for 2007 unveiled scarcely six months after last year's self-released Nuclear Daydream. Interaction with others coaxes some surprisingly loosey-goosey fun from the insular singer/songwriter on "Diamond Ring" and the noisier, grunge-B-side sputterings of "Cocaine Feet" and "Good Life." 

The latter presages the self-immolative turn to come with "Lonely Astronaut," a 20-minute Velvet Underground-does-"Space Oddity" trial placed with bloody-minded purpose in the middle of the album. In keeping with that "jam band" ethos, the second half doesn't regain much of a focus until the "Diamond Ring" melody is stretched out to haunting effect on "Star Song." I'm a fan and I get the impression I'm being tested or prepared for something; newbies are still encouraged towards Come to Where I'm From. 

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Panpot.ca

By Ryan Clark

New album from the pop artist takes a dirty 180 degree turn. Panpot contributor Ryan Clark knows exactly what Joseph Arthur should do with his copy of ‘Exile on Main Street’.

Remember when you were eleven years old or so and you hijacked your stepfather’s copy of the White Album and listened to “Why don’t we do it in the road?” over and over again in your little sexless room and thought that Paul McCartney must be some sort of bad ass, sex crazed, maniac? Remember how you felt years later, sitting in your still sexless first year dorm room, staring at those big brown eyes on the 8 x 10 glossy, when you realized that Paul McCartney had probably never done it in road, wasn’t bad ass or dangerous at all, and had fooled you for years into thinking he was, by blanketing what was obviously a very thought out and heavily crafted song into the guise of a raw and pressing sound? No? Well that’s exactly how I feel about Joseph Arthur’s latest release,Let’s Just Be; like someone is trying to pass themselves off as being a down and out rocker willing to release an album, “warts and all if it has the right feeling,” when in reality we’re still dealing with the same dude who had a song on the Shrek 2 soundtrack, and has been aiming for the middle of the musical road for years.

I’m not sure what may have brought on the strange divergence, but he is consciously avoiding the sheen and polished pop of his previous efforts, choosing instead to go for a dirty, sloppy bar rock vibe, complete with way too much slide guitar and T-Rex style falsetto harmony vocals on nearly every track. There is nothing wrong with an artist trying to reinvent themselves in the light of a new sound; many of the best rock records of all time come from people attempting to radically mix up their comfortable scenes by bringing in styles of playing or genres of music that differ wildly from what they are famous for doing. It does however, take an artist with enough foresight and taste to be able to manoeuvre these changes convincingly, or without coming across as an impostor or a fraud. Unfortunately, Joseph Arthur hasn’t really succeeded on either of those two levels and it is a real mystery as to who he thinks will like this record: anyone who liked his previous releases probably won’t like the new, ragged sound and anyone who digs the Stones’ style rock and roll that he’s ripping off wouldn’t buy a Joseph Arthur record.

This record kind of sounds like the product of someone who wants to try to stick it to their record label, though I fear that this probably isn’t the case. Unfortunately there is either a serious lack of musical judgment or a complete lack of caring going on here. One listen through the 20 minute track, “Lonely Astronaut”, which I shit you not, contains a 10 minute plus section where Arthur repeats the word “I” a dozen or so times in a monotonous and banal mantra over top of a “psychedelic groove” until he transitions to the next word, “love,” repeating the same clever trick for a few more minutes, really solidifies this point that something just isn’t right. I can’t tell you if he ever reaches the much anticipated “you,” because I ripped the CD out of the machine and hurled it across the room before the song could reach its artist nadir.

I guess we can only hope that Arthur will lose his copy of Exile on Main Street and get back to making the kind of innocuous pseudo world music that we’ve come to expect from him.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Stylus Magazine

Note : C+

As laid back as its title, Let’s Just Be shambles, mutters, and drones its way through eighty minutes as though Joseph Arthur left the tape running while he finally worked out some of his Lennon jones aided by a proper band. Mumbling comments and directions punctuate the whole exercise; one song concludes with the band playing Who Can Snore Loudest? at the end of a long drunken jam. The band is having plenty of fun, but whether you’re invited depends on how much gratuitous pissing about you’ll put up with. Production-wise, Let’s Just Be feels like a bedroom recording even when the crescendos bathe the songs in the sonic equivalent of a laser light show. It makes for excellent travel, or at least departure, music.

It’s not quite the transformation of Nick Cave’s recent Grinderman album, but the comparison holds true—each has a renewed sense of abandon. Arthur’s first major record, Come To Where I’m From, was an intensely claustrophobic experience, melodies walled in by his meticulous one-man arrangements, deftly constructed to be reproducible on stage by Arthur on his own. Let’s Just Be is as poppy and willfully idiosyncratic as Arthur’s older work, but is both more conventionally arranged and more loose-limbed than ever before. His band’s radioactive takes on classic rock riffs are backed up by sitars and meandering, mock-mystic drones. In places the album is deliberately impregnable to casual listening, elsewhere as approachable as the neighborhood tipsy bar band.

Arthur gets dirtier than ever before—he’s either been getting laid more often or needs to—singing, with a frank pleading in his voice, “Taste you like a woman” on the sly, seedy “Precious One.” Arthur actually sounds pleased to be cohabiting, and even hands off vocals for a couple of tracks. Whether the single-takes feel counts as a good thing will mostly depend on how you feel about Arthur’s songwriting, which is as strong as ever, causally sliding between tongue-in-cheek pseudo-sexual frenzy à la “Cockteeze,” and lugubrious mourning songs à la “Chicago,” which amply recalls Arthur’s “In The Sun” (aka The One Covered by Michael Stipe and Chris Martin).

Let’s Just Be’s twenty-minute centerpiece, “Lonely Astronaut,” is a different kind of claustrophobia for Arthur—perhaps agoraphobia is better. Half-finished thoughts trip over lusty, ruptured reminiscences and solipsistic twitching—a good ten minute section consists of blasts of raunchy, discordant noise punctuated by Arthur and band groaning “I.” Having seen off all the acoustic guitar lovers, Arthur gets maudlin again in the midst of the collapse, singing “I love you, stay out of reach, some things you can’t teach.” Nothing else on the album is nearly as aggressive, ambitious or flat-out weird; lying at the exact mid-point of the album, it’s destined to be skipped in most listens but deserves better, and promises proper destruction in live versions.

Let’s Just Be’s particular confusion is a sort of acoustical bipolarism. By turns art- and bedroom-rock, eye-popping and inward. Arthur’s grinning, willful agnosticism will piss off just about everyone at some point, and the record appears designed to self-destruct after a few plays—“Gimme Some Company” teasingly rips both “Lithium” and “On A Plain,” a tickling that can only be cured by a proper Nirvana workout. But all the studio chatter helps frame the record as a document of a particular moment rather than an attempt at timelessness. By the time the album closes on the sitar-saturated “Star Song,” with Arthur addressing himself, or perhaps his many forebears—“You need to find a dream now / That can give / What you could not pay / Cause you / Have the ears of the world, now / But you ain’t got a thing to say / Need a little time away, dear”—you’re more than ready to listen to something with a little more pretension, and a little less too.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Vox Magazine


APRIL 19, 2007

Like a spontaneous friend who appears with a wild new hairstyle or the latest fashion statement, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has switched it up on Let’s Just Be. Unfortunately, like pink hair or white shoes in December, abandoning what works for the edgy and new doesn’t always impress.

Arthur and his band, the Lonely Astronauts, run into trouble on this latest effort when flirting with territory far afield from previous material. Let’s Just Be offers some of the soulful, straightforward acoustic music he’s better known for on albums such as 2002’s Junkyard Hearts series. Too often the album crosses into an amped-up version of bluesy rock ’n’ roll that weighs down the music.

It’s understandable for artists to tinker with their style, but trying to flex the creative muscle can make for tricky decisions. On the one hand, some musicians want to evolve their sound to ensure that the every-song-sounds-the-same moniker doesn’t stick. On the other, it’s important, particularly for an accomplished indie artist trying to broaden his appeal, to give audiences a clear idea of what to expect.

Arthur does score a few winners on Let’s Just Be even when confusingly switching sounds. In “Diamond Ring,” Arthur gives a strong Mick Jagger impersonation similar to “Honky Tonk Women.” Later in “Cockteeze,” Arthur’s moaning, howling falsetto would make AC/DC’s Bon Scott proud.

The fact that he wants to continue moving forward and not retrace old territory is worthy of acknowledgement; however, this time the results are much like the album itself: mixed.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - RoomThirteen

 by Daniel Black


"Let's Just Be" is an album to quench the thirsts of the widespread Bowie-adoration, Stereophonics-Brethren, Rolling Stone-maniacs and Rod Stewart-numskulls while at the same-time toggling with spell bounding, funky, conventional guitar sounds. It's great to see a modern act playing such very ordinary music but so well that it seems extraordinary; very few guys do it as well as Joseph Arthur.

Starting with "Diamond Ring" a proposition from Arthur to you; asking you, 'on-one-knee', to indulge yourself in his seductive, exhilarating brand of wonderful vocalism, lyrics, funky sweeping guitar riffs and lively drumbeats; trust me it's tempting. "Spacemen" is an obvious poke at a Bowie masterpiece, and not a bad attempt from J.A. Experimenting with some sky-scraping vocals and weird electro effects, come the chorus; a regular Bowie feature.

"Take Me Home" is a slow, gentle track. It's very relaxing but there's something about it that just makes it suddenly seem monotonous; the kind of album track you want to turn over after only 15 seconds. "Lonely Astronaut" isn't much better either; twenty minutes of tedious boredom.

Though with "Cocaine Feet" Joseph Arthur gets back on track, trying out a Rolling Stones/Strokes approach really breathtaking. "Shake It Off" is annoying screeching noises, it spoils your opinion of Joseph Arthur, but if you can rise above it you'll understand that there are many more good points about Arthur than bad.

All in all a pretty fresh musical experience, definitely recommended for anyone who wants to broaden their musical spectrum or horizons, and hear something diverse and pioneering.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - No Depression

Although Joseph Arthur embodies a romantic impression of artistic restlessness, he isn't without grounded moments. His second album, 2000's Come To Where I'm From, proved he could do country-rock. His latest, Let's Just Be, works within the "limitations" of recording with his touring band, the Lonely Astronauts.

Coming out little more than half a year after Nuclear Daydream and Arthur's inaugural road trip with the Astronauts, Let's Just Be perhaps inevitably and perhaps deliberately has a ramshackle sensibility. Fumbled beginnings, hastily truncated endings, and unsound electrical hums abound.

As do influences. "Precious One" takes the C&W slide-guitar languor of the Rolling Stones for another spin; "Take Me Home" continues the postmodern tumbleweed drift of Beck's Sea Change; "Cocaine Feet" cranks up the proud degradation of the Stooges; and "Cockteeze" tries a strangely feasible imitation of Brian Johnson-era AC/DC.

With the deft support of guitarist Kraig Jarret Johnson (Golden Smog) and drummer Greg Wieczorek (Twilight Singers), Arthur also tries Wilco-style pretension with "Lonely Astronaut". This 20-minute spaced oddity cycles from somnolent ballad to screeching rave-up to Teutonic experiment before returning again to somnolent ballad and one last acoustic-guitar arpeggio. It's fascinating almost in spite of itself.

But it's not the centerpiece of Let's Just Be, because the album doesn't have a center. Instead, it has fragments that Arthur and his band shuffle into a semblance of order. Even with his feet planted amid the roots of familiar music, he can't stop moving.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Spin

Call Him Sensitive And He'll Punch You In The Face

by Jon Young 

Note : 2,5 / 4

Mixing his usual dark introspection with newfound animal brutality, Arthur's latest is a sweaty, first-take orgy that sometimes suggests Tom Waits fronting the Stones, only clumsier. Sleazy puke-stained rockers like "Good Life" and "Cocaine Feet" are nasty fun; elsewhere, the grating falsetto of "Shake It Off" makes a poor advertisement for primal scream therapy. Arthur's aggressive, self-indulgence reveals its limitations on the 20-minute "Lonely Astronaut," an unbearable eruption of guitar noise and deranged chanting.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Badger Herald

Arthur CD dabbles in unusual, achieves uninspired sound

by Meghan Dunlap
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Joseph Arthur, who has become a well-known folk-rock and indie-pop performer since his debut more than 10 years ago, achieves lukewarm success through the evolving sounds heard on his newest album Let’s Just Be.

The process of producing an album is something Arthur has become an expert at over the past several years, this being his sixth full-length creation. Although he was already recording demos in his own home back in the early 1990s, his real break came while performing in a local Atlanta club. There he was fortunate enough to be discovered by an associate of Peter Gabriel’s. After hearing his lyrics, Gabriel thought Arthur would be a perfect fit for his label, Real World. From there came his first album Big City Secrets, which was released in 1997. His EP Vacancy earned a Grammy nomination in 1999 and helped get his career going. Since then, he has continued to build his reputation through the use of his music in a multitude of popular TV shows and motion pictures. His songs have been featured on “Dawson’s Creek,” “Scrubs,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Shrek 2” and many others. His fan base has also grown in response to a touring schedule with A-list musicians including Tracy Chapman and R.E.M.

Formerly a one-man band, Joseph Arthur is moving in a new direction with his newest album having been joined by Kraig Jarret Johnson on the guitar and keyboards, Jennifer Turner on guitar, bassist Sibyl Buck and drummer Greg Wieczorek to form The Lonely Astronauts. As a solo singer and guitar player, Arthur had previously relied on looping and distortion techniques for his live performances, something that some fans say made his stage performance better than his recordings. This is something a full band can help equalize, and it does help — some. Joseph Arthur has been in the music business long enough to build up a good reputation and credibility among his peers. The proof is in his songs that other artists, like Michael Stripe, Chris Martin and Peter Gabriel have chosen to cover. This being said, his latest album is not one that can be enjoyed by everyone. Although the instrumentals are pretty solid and sometimes moving, the lyrics of most of the songs seem pretty uninspired. There are also some unusual things happening with this album, including the song “Good Life,” which ends with a strange, disgusting sound, like a huge snort — a sound effect commonly absent from the list of characteristics people enjoy in their music. Also, how many people really want to sit and listen to a song that lasts for 20 minutes? That is the actual length of “Lonely Astronaut.” Perhaps it is to spotlight the many musical talents of the newly formed band, but that should be evident enough in the 15 other tracks on the album. Let’s Just Be does have some redeeming qualities: Its title track has an interesting rhythm, and there are some songs like “Chicago,” which have nice harmony, but listeners have to endure Arthur’s rather raspy voice, or in the case of “Cockteeze,” high and screechy vocals. Undeniably a talented musician, Joseph Arthur will continue to have success; however, his newest will not appeal to all audiences, and those who take a listen should be prepared to experience something new.

Grade: 2 out of 5

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Daily Pennsylvanian

by Rafael Garcia, 

Let's Just Be is the perfect example of pop gone wrong. Joseph Arthur had previously distinguished himself as a talented singer-songwriter and critic's darling on albums like the excellent Our Shadows Will Remain. Let's Just Be, however, is a disjointed, overlong mess that tries to do too much and fails miserably in the process.

Things start off strong. Opener "Diamond Ring" is an old-fashioned rock song reminiscent of the Stones. The second track, "Good Life," starts to throw up red flags, though, employing a minute-long intro of strange water sounds over incoherent mumbling, before finally starting off another decent retro rock offering. The rest of the album goes back and forth between soft acoustic numbers, decent pop rock attempts and vexing, failed deviations into Tom Waits-style experimentalism. The worst of this last category is a ten-minute-long song outro. It grates the ears and, awkwardly placed halfway through the record's massive 80-minute length, kills the album's momentum. Arthur should probably stick to what he's good at-brevity.

"Let's Just Be" is the last thing Arthur's producers and managers should have said. The album would have been vastly improved with some judicious cutting. This record is perhaps half an hour of worthwhile recordings spread far, far too thin.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Beacon Journal

By Malcolm X Abram,

For most of his five-album, 10-year career, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has been a purveyor of soft, very melodic, seemingly intimate and mournful songs that often sound like they were recorded alone in a candlelit studio.

But since guitarist Kraig Jarret Johnson, formerly of beloved roots-rockers the Jayhawks and Golden Smog, joined Arthur's touring band, Arthur has been indulging his inner Glimmer Twin. Anyone who has caught the Firestone High grad's last few gigs in his hometown have surely noticed the infusion of rock and the loose bar band/'70s Stones vibe that permeates his group, the Lonely Astronauts. (He has upcoming dates in Cleveland and Akron.)

Come Tuesday, that vibe will have a record to go with it in Let's Just Be. Arthur has stressed that Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts is an actual band effort. He and Johnson share songwriting credits on six of the lengthy disc's 16 cuts, with ex-Natalie Merchant guitarist Jennifer Turner contributing the acoustic Gimme Some Company. And unlike Arthur's carefully constructed efforts, the band-produced record has a straight-to-tape feel and many sonic loose ends, such as studio chatter and obvious mistakes that are left unclipped.

The album's intent is made clear from the first two tracks: Diamond Ring, a laid-back slice of bluesy bar rock with Arthur and the band indulging in sloppy harmonies; and Good Life, arguably the hardest rocking song Arthur has ever recorded, which finds him cutting loose with yelps and screams over a boogalooing tambourine and chromatic power chords. He mimics Mick Jagger's swaggering falsetto on the short and sweet rocker Cockteeze, and the plodding, fuzzed-out Cocaine Feet reaches for and nearly achieves the visceral thump of the Stooges' Fun House.

While the informal feel lends the album a sense of fun, it also gives the band license to indulge too much. The 20-minute Lonely Astronaut starts as a familiar, low-key acoustic song that builds to a rocking crescendo, before being interrupted by an awkward riff that turns into an 11-minute jam/endurance test. It may have been great fun for the band to perform, but the average listener is unlikely to make it through the song more than once.

Fans of the intimate, lone-troubadour side of Arthur won't be completely alienated; the sweetPrecious One features some supple slide work from Turner, and both the waltz-time Chicago andLack of Vision are midtempo roots tunes that should warm the ears of fans.

Arthur is already a prolific songwriter and now with his own label (Lonely Astronaut Records, detecting the theme yet?) and his band, he has another outlet for both his songs and his inner rock star.

Placed next to the rest of his catalog, Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts sounds like a fun side project, the kind of record his fans will happily buy and listen to a few times before going back to their favorite Arthur solo record.

Taken on its own, Arthur has obviously been energized by Johnson's presence, and the still-young songwriting partnership certainly shows promise. But occasionally, Let's Just Be gets bogged down by its own "anything goes'' vibe.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - L.A Times

by Steve Hochman

Arthur once again seeks his own orbit

*** (aka "good")

Another title that twists a classic pop reference (Arthur's 2002 album was "Redemption's Son") and another Arthurian application of pretzel logic to classic pop traditions. But might surrounding himself with a six-strong support crew rein in some of this often-lone astronaut's more indulgent, introspective tendencies? The album certainly starts on a relatively straight-ahead note with the shambling, Stones-y "Diamond Ring." But never fear: The next song, "Good Life," begins with sloshing-water sounds and ends with a snort and a scream.

Even that doesn't prepare one for the theme song, "Lonely Astronaut," the 20-minute centerpiece of this sprawling 78-minute epic. The track starts innocently enough, on the quieter end of the rough-hewn American scale covering most of the album. But then it churns into increasing intensity and ultimately chaos, out of which a little repeating pattern emerges. It's as if the song got hiccups and can't shake them. For about eight minutes.

Still, even that carries the album's casual feel, a down-to-earth tone that grounds even such otherworldly highlights as the Bowie-referencing "Spaceman" and the closing, melancholy raga-folk "Star Song." It's the natural setting for the coed Astronauts, whose members' past credits include the Jayhawks, Natalie Merchant and the Twilight Singers. Some more outré passages could have benefited from mad-scientist tinkering. But the mad-Mick Jagger that Arthur affects on the nasty "Cocaine Feet" and elsewhere is still nicely twisted. 

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Montreal Gazette

by Jordan Zivitz

Note : 3,5

Arthur's been his own best friend, thanks to his overdub expertise. So why hire a gang of interlopers? The galactic thrill of Spaceman provides the answer: There are places a man can't travel to alone. An often ragged, always vibrant sound pours out of Arthur's motley crew, and their leader has never sounded more liberated. 

The price of liberation is self-indulgence: There's a fine line between Arthur's intuitive skills and a frustratingly casual approach that devalues his career's new chapter (the 20-minute track Lonely Astronaut includes 12 superfluous minutes of mantras and noodling). With at least a half-dozen prime jewels unveiled a mere seven months after his last album (the harrowing Nuclear Daydream), Arthur's bouts of Dumpster-diving only tarnish his crown.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - AllMusic

AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown

Note : 3,5 of 5 stars

Now that he has his own studio and label, Joseph Arthur must feel a lot of freedom when it comes to recording material, and this newfound liberation is most certainly evidenced on Let's Just Be, his second release on Lonely Astronaut. The album has the feel of an improvisational session, as if Arthurcalled up his band late one night, asked them to bring their instruments, showed them the sketches of 16 songs he'd been working on, and then told them to play (the occasional spoken direction of "then we go into a verse" only helps this theory along). Arthur is a talented writer, but there's an air of sloppy experimentation, of demos and B-sides and other things that probably won't interest more than the heartiest fan. There are some worthwhile tracks here -- the sad and lovely "Take Me Home," the poetic "Chicago" -- but unfortunately, these are few and far between the Mick Jagger-esque falsetto screeching, the cocky '70s-rock guitars, the repetitive lines of songs like "Shake It Off," "Diamond Ring," or "Let's Just Be." Arthur spends more of his time meandering around different riffs and rhymes (like in "Lonely Astronaut," which clocks in at 20 minutes, at least a quarter of which is an acoustic guitar layered with emerging and disappearing instruments, the word "I" sung continuously on the fourth beat). Unlike another prolific writer, Ryan Adams, who limits the accessibility of his wanderings to his website, Arthur is packaging his as a legitimate album. This may be creatively beneficial for him, and it may be a necessary part of his composition process, but for those not involved, it's less enlightening and interesting.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Paste Magazine

By Rob O'Connor | April 18, 2007

Singer/songwriter on the verge of a nervous breakthrough

OK, the 2007 Ryan Adams Overprolific Songwriter Contest is on—and Joseph Arthur is off to a strong start. Less than seven months since Nuclear Daydream, Arthur plans two releases. Sixteen tunes take shape as Let's Just Be, a chaotic mix of gorgeous T. Rex acoustic reveries ("Gimme Some Company," "I Will Carry It"), cheeky Stones-inflected rockers ("Diamond Ring") and studio-jam goofiness (20 minutes—20 minutes!—of "Lonely Astronaut"). Placing "Lonely Astronaut" in the dead middle of the album won't do much for your patience, but it illustrates Arthur's current looseness. The man's a double album in action.

REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Pitchfork

By Joe Tangari; May 4, 2007

Note : 3.4

Joseph Arthur has about as much freedom as a musician can get. He has his own studio, owns his own record label, and has a backing band on call whenever he needs them. Let his sixth album then stand as a reminder that, sometimes, freedom isn't a good thing. Let's Just Be sounds like it came together on the fly, in jam sessions that didn't stem from any kind of solid idea. There are moments on the album that left me speechless the first time I heard them. I just don't think I was properly equipped to process the precipitous drop in quality between Joseph Arthur's past offerings and this one.

Arthur peaked in 2004 with Our Shadows Will Remain, a lucid, occasionally even ingenious meditation on living in a time of war. But here it's difficult to find any focus. Moreover, Arthur's tendency toward experimentation seems to have devolved to rote sonic noodling that goes nowhere. There are a few quality tracks among these 16-- enough for a pretty good EP-- but this is an 80-minute album with at least an hour of stuff on it that sounds at best like studio outtakes.

I can get behind the gentle acoustics and subtle electronic shading of "Take Me Home", for instance-- it has a fragile beauty that echoes some of his best quiet work for Real World and Vector. The album's nine-minute finale, "Star Song", has some of that as well, combining an American roots aesthetic with some vaguely South Asian overtones, harmonica rubbing up against guitars tuned and processed to sound like sitars. It's startling to hear something so interesting and affecting close out a record like this, and it at least leaves some hope that this is merely a short detour in Arthur's career and not a sign of things to come.

Beyond those songs, though, there's not much. "Lonely Astronaut", the album's 20-minute centerpiece, begins on reasonably solid ground, with acoustic guitars strumming away, but Arthur's gravelly voice sounds like it doesn't even know the lyrics and he falls way down in the mix. After a certain point it just wanders off into a hideously boring vamp with sounds randomly rising and falling as voices repeat single syllables over and over but not in any particular pattern or rhythm. Listening to the whole thing, which I've done several times now, is genuinely grueling. It's exhibit A in the argument that having 80 minutes available on a CD doesn't mean you have to fill it.

Other songs are terrible for more pedestrian reasons. He sounds more like he's puking than singing as he screeches his way through "Cockteeze" over lumbering, sloppy riff rock, but it's not nearly as horrendous as "Shake It Off", where he sounds like he's trying to imitate first an eagle and then a sheep as he vocalizes the title refrain. It might be a joke, but if you weren't in the studio when it was recorded, it's not very funny. The next song is unironically titled "Lack a Vision", and though it's merely boring and not outright bad, it's truly an unfortunate phrase to have on the album's back cover.

There's plenty of evidence outside of the general sloppiness of the playing and forced-sounding "out there" production that this was kicked together in great haste: witness Arthur instructing the band on the form of the song in the middle of the already rehearsal-ish "Yer the Reason". He could have at least overdubbed the planned solo he mumbles about. It's almost disappointing that there's any good music on this thing, because the bits he seems to really be engaged with, like the faux-country of "Precious One" or the folky "Gimmie Some Company", are bound to be lost along with the rest of it, much of which is simply unendurable. Here's hoping he got it out of his system.


REVIEW : Let's Just Be - Gigwize

'Lets Just Be' gives the galloping horse of Joseph Arthur the free-rein to explore a more sonic side of his artistry...

Mark Perlaki
15:02 6th September 2007

Enjoying a release on the same day as his stalwart 'Nuclear Daydream' album, 'Let’s Just Be' was recorded after a buzzing tour with Joseph Arthur's new band The Lonely Astronauts - comprising Kraig Jarret Johnson (Golden Smog, The Jayhawks), Jennifer Turner (Natalie Merchant), Greg Wieczorek (Twilight Singers) and Sibyl Buck (Champion Of Sound) and with all the hallmarks of the live sound, 'Let's Just Be' was conceived in just three weeks with the songs layed down in a back to basics approach using a 16-track tape with no reverb, just how the old boys used to do it, trailing rumours that over 80 songs were recorded during the sessions.

The band follow Joseph's meandering lead with alacrity - Stonesy affections shine through on the honky tonk rattle of 'Diamond Ring' with the Keif hooks, the bluesy rock 'n' roll chords of 'Precious Woman' and 'Chicago' shows the band at ease with the rhythms, but the doffing of the singer-songwriter cap on 'Take Me Home' and 'Lack A Vision' provides two of those spellbindingly mellow and tender Joseph Arthur moments that's amongst the best he's written.

Influences vary with the Bowie-esque 'Spacemen' like a Beatles 'White Album' track left in the hamster cage with Bowie's 'Ground Control To Major Tom', and the brass and swagger of 'Cocaine Feet' rips with power chords like Nirvana fronted by Bobby Gillespie, with title track 'Let's Just Be' taking a cue from The Beatles and The Stones - "...let it bleed/ and let it be..." set to a clap-happy groove.

Explorations of sound come with the Stoogey garage-punk of 'Good Life' replete with growls, snarls and piggy-snorts - rocking where previously Joseph would swoon, but the sqwalking unplugged proto-punk of 'Shake It Off' proves a pointless exercise, yet one of the titles of the year 'Cockteeze' packs the Iggy Pop credo and comes in at all of 1.46 minutes with Joseph screaming it out - "...I don't care what you want to believe...",

'Lonely Astronaut' is quite another matter - at all of 20.33 minutes and taking in the musical map of U.S.rock, 'Lonely Astronaut' starts as an atmospheric countrified-acoustic number "...here comes the rain/ falling down like ecstasy..." showing a Stonesy heart, picking up some Velvet's freneticism as it goes skidding across the sonic tarmac with what sounds like the sawing of a rubber tree (what would Led Zep make of all this) then heads for an experimentalist apocalyptic meltdown of tedious repetition that tests endurance, like Throbbing Gristle and The Velvets out of their boxes, before ending with a psyche-drenched acoustic melody. Like a prism, the experimentalism of 'Lonely Astronaut' could be viewed from so many angles - the recent Scott Walker release 'The Drift' a case in point, it depends on where you're coming from, but with the currents running through and the duration, the feeling is that it's like the very act of coitus itself - tender, chaotic, animalistic, and finally, loving.

Tailing off with vocal assistance from the band on 'Yer The Reason' and 'I Will Carry You', and concluding with Velvets/'The End' of The Doors-style denouement of 'Star Song' with mouth-organ drench and guitar tuned like a sitar, the feeling is already established that this is a flawed masterpiece - tripping in its' over-indulgence and sounding like there's too much sonic hash with the bacon and eggs, and that a more regal garment could have been cut by trimming the number of tracks. Joseph remains prolific in a way most artists would envy, and 'Let’s Just Be' gives the galloping horse of Joseph Arthur the free-rein to explore a more sonic side of his artistry.


INTERVIEW : 2007-07-08 Joseph Arthur : celui qui crée plus vite que son ombre (by Nicolas Houle)

« Je ne sais pas si les autres trouvent ça difficile de travailler à mes côtés, mais moi, je trouve ça dur de travailler avec moi-même », rigole Joseph Arthur.

C’est avec son groupe que le chanteur, guitariste et peintre atterrira à la place D’Youville, ce soir, à 18 h 30. Il a connu les six Lonely Astronauts durant la tournée de Nuclear Daydream, à l’automne 2006, et la chimie a été telle qu’ils ont rapidement décidé d’entrer en studio. Ils en sont ressortis avec le très rock Let’s Just Be. De facture volontairement brouillonne, avec des segments reposant sur l’inspiration du moment, le disque tranche avec les autres albums d’Arthur. Pour le principal intéressé, cette aventure est une bouffée d’air frais. Celui qui avait l’habitude de se produire seul sur scène, bâtissant ses chansons avec des boucles sonores tout en peignant des tableaux, s’est déchargé d’une certaine responsabilité.

« C’est important pour les autres musiciens de prendre leur place et pour le public d’entendre quelque chose de neuf, juge-t-il. Vous vous devez de rester inspiré, et je crois que les gens aiment entendre de nouvelles choses. »

Créateur prolifique

Let’s Just Be est paru six mois plus tard que son prédécesseur. À sa sortie, Arthur, qui avait enregistré quelque 80 pièces avec sa bande, s’attendait à lancer un autre album à l’automne 2007. Si on ajoute à cela que le chanteur signe des compositions logeant sur son site Web ou sur des maxis, d’autres qui sont écrites pour des projets parallèles ou pour des causes humanitaires, on peut dire qu’il est sacrément prolifique. Le plus fascinant, c’est qu’il ne fait pas de distinction entre œuvres majeures et œuvres mineures.

« Je discutais avec ma mère et elle me disait : “Pourquoi ne mets-tu pas cette chanson-là sur un véritable album ?” C’était une pièce qui était sur un maxi, alors je tentais de lui expliquer que c’était un album aussi valable qu’un autre... Pour moi, c’est comme lorsque je donne un spectacle : s’il n’y a que 10 personnes, je ne travaillerai pas moins fort. »

Joseph Arthur ne pourrait respirer sans l’oxygène qu’est la culture. Il n’ira pas jusqu’à dire qu’il suffoquait durant ces années passées à Akron, la ville industrielle qui l’a vu naître, en Ohio. Or il apparaît clair qu’il ne pouvait échapper à sa destinée. Un coup d’œil au blogue qu’il tient sur son site Web (www.josepharthur.com) en témoigne : les entrées prennent la forme de poèmes.

« L’écriture, la musique ou la peinture peuvent être profonds, superficiels ou simplement amusants, mais j’ai tendance à entrer aisément dans l’univers de la poésie, à activer les différents boutons de ce langage, admet-il. Ce doit être dans ma nature... »

La scène

Bien qu’il soit reconnu par les critiques et les fans comme un artiste majeur, au talent exceptionnel, le chanteur qui a été découvert par Peter Gabriel, il y a 10 ans, doit encore mettre les bouchées doubles pour se faire entendre.

Il reconnaît que cette lutte constante alimente sa création, or au même moment elle l’en distrait : avec la naissance de sa propre étiquette de disques, il porte les chapeaux de musicien, de réalisateur et d’homme d’affaires. Arthur dit apprendre les diverses facettes de son métier quotidiennement, quoique c’est sur les planches qu’il préfère œuvrer. Ça tombe bien : en cette période où l’industrie musicale semble engagée dans une voie sans issue, la meilleure solution pour rejoindre le public reste les spectacles — qu’Arthur n’hésite pas à enregistrer pour en tirer des albums vendus au terme des représentations.

« C’est parfois épuisant de faire autant de spectacles, car je suis incapable de prendre ça à la légère. Je suis entier. En même temps, je sens que la musique est une vibration positive, qu’elle a des propriétés bénéfiques, alors avoir la chance de chanter chaque soir et d’avoir un public qui reçoit cette énergie, c’est incroyable. Il y a tant de gens qui n’auront jamais l’occasion ou le courage de s’exprimer, je me sens franchement chanceux. »


INTERVIEW : 2007-07-05 Joseph Arthur: Face à lui-même (by Antoine Léveillée)

L'insondable Joseph Arthur est au centre d'un univers où la musique rencontre la peinture à travers une poésie singulière. Le solitaire a décidé de casser le moule et de se compromettre avec le groupe The Lonely Astronauts pour un retour aux sources.

Immigrant Song de Led Zeppelin hurle à tue-tête dans le récepteur du téléphone à deux reprises avant qu'on puisse entendre la voix ténébreuse du chanteur, réputé pour être taciturne et hors norme. Aucun message sur le répondeur, tout simplement cet hymne et la voix d'un Robert Plant qui s'époumone dans un rock aux teintes wagnériennes. C'est avec calme et sur un ton neutre que Joseph Arthur entame la conversation à partir de son appartement de Brooklyn. "J'ai toujours aimé le rock'n'roll, indique-t-il à la suite d'une remarque faite sur cette entrée en matière. Je me suis toujours identifié à ces groupes des années 60 et 70. C'est mon rêve de jeunesse. Avoir un groupe et faire du rock, c'est une obsession qui m'habite depuis l'âge de 12 ans."

Après huit albums et quelques projets discographiques parallèles, l'ensemble de sa carrière est sous le signe de la solitude. Après cette succession de projets solos, autant dire qu'il a exaucé son fantasme de jeunesse avec le disque Let's Just Be. En compagnie du groupe The Lonely Astronauts, on le retrouve au centre d'un concept qui donne pleine mesure à un rock incarné. "Nous étions sur la même longueur d'onde, se rappelle-t-il. Il n'était pas question de faire un album studio. C'était important de conserver une attitude live, sans aucun compromis. Seulement de s'asseoir, de jouer et d'enregistrer. C'était le groupe parfait pour ce type de projet." Une direction étonnante après un parcours musical qui a pris naissance dans le folk et l'introspection.

Toujours en contrôle de la direction artistique, Joseph Arthur nous expose sa seconde passion: la peinture. Son travail en arts visuels est au centre des activités de l'artiste, qui s'adonne quelquefois à des performances sur scène lors de ses spectacles. Les pochettes de chacun de ses albums ont toujours démontré avec soin ses compositions graphiques intimement liées aux thèmes développés dans ses textes. "Je n'ai pas trouvé le temps pour m'appliquer sur ce travail pour le disque précédent." L'album Nuclear Daydream est en effet le premier (depuis Big City Secrets, son premier disque) où nous pouvons voir le visage du chanteur sur la pochette. Une surprise pour les inconditionnels de son travail. "Je me laisse aller la plupart du temps. Si j'ai quelque chose en tête qui peut m'éclairer, alors je le fais. Pour Nuclear Daydream, rien ne m'est venu à l'esprit. Il n'y avait aucune intention de marquer une cassure avec quoi que ce soit. C'est juste arrivé comme ça. Je dois dire que je me promène beaucoup plus avec toutes ces tournées."

À peine Let's Just Be vient-il de paraître, tout juste sept mois après Nuclear Daydream, que l'artiste est sur le point de terminer un nouvel opus. Un retour au Joseph Arthur solo sur lequel il reste discret. "Je dois faire quelques ajustements encore, mais c'est vrai, il sortira bientôt." D'ici là, il compte bien accorder plus de temps à une nouvelle exposition qu'il veut monter sous peu. "Ce sera dans une galerie ici à Brooklyn. Je ne sais pas encore si je vais intégrer la musique dans tout ça. Ce sera multidisciplinaire."



2007-05-21 - Nightclub 9:30, Washington

On Stage :

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

Joseph played solo "honey and the moon" and "prison".

Stars of Track and Field opened the show.

Setlist : 

too much to hide
black lexus
enough to get away
slide away
take me home
cocaine feet
star song
honey and the moon
in the sun
lack a vision
you are free
good life
i donated myself to the mexican army
sunrise dolls
say goodbye

Recording :

This concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.

Poster :


2007-04-29 - Larimer Lounge, Denver

On Stage :

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

Setlist :

temporary people
cocaine feet
lack a vision
good life
precious one
sunrise dolls
diamond ring
enough to get away
too much to hide

exhausted *
good about me *
i donated myself to the mexican army
slide away
nuclear daydream
in the night (g.wiz singing and joseph on drums)
september baby
take it away
let's just be
take me home

* joseph solo

Recording :

This concert was officially recorded, and sold on CDr after the show.


INTERVIEW : 2007-04-26 Another Order of Joe (by Michael Roberts)

Here's a bonus for fans of Joseph Arthur, who's profiled in the April 26 edition of Westword. The published piece was based on an extensive Q&A reproduced below. Among the topics Arthur touches upon: his risky new solo album, Let's Just Be, and why at least one song on it is closer to punk rock than most of the current music labeled as such; the assembling of his current band, dubbed the Lonely Astronauts; his decision to start his own label, rather than submitting to the whims of corporate suits; the issue of how much material is too much to release in a given time period, complete with a defense of Ryan Adams; a few words about his intriguing online tour blog, which can be accessed by clicking here; his participation in a Bruce Springsteen tribute at Carnegie Hall; the almost dada-like sequencing of his new CD; and a hint about what treasures remain in his musical vault.

Go, Joe, go:

Westword (Michael Roberts): I just got a copy of Let’s Just Be, and I’m really enjoying it.

Joseph Arthur: Thanks, man. It’s at an interesting stage right now. Reviews are just coming in, and you never know how people are going to take it – especially when it’s a record of that nature, one that’s pretty experimental and brave in some ways. And it seems that people are really receiving it in the spirit it was made.

WW: I imagine some fans of yours are going to really love it, and some who may really hate it – particularly the song “Lonely Astronaut.” That’s going to put people on one side of the fence or the other…

JA: To me, sort of a punk-rock song nowadays isn’t necessarily about three minutes and distortion pedals. To me, punk rock is about stretching boundaries and provoking the status quo, challenging the way things are.

WW: And so much of what’s labeled punk these days represents the opposite of that.

JA: Right. And to me, “Lonely Astronaut” is a punk-rock type of song, because it challenges the status quo.

WW: In listening to the disc, I felt as if you tried to knock down as many of your personal boundaries as you could – to open up all your creative channels to see what poured out. Is that how you approached making the album?

JA: I suppose so. It was made in the spirit of freedom and fearlessness and openness, and there wasn’t a whole lot of consideration one way or the other.

WW: So when something came out, you didn’t second-guess yourself?

JA: No. We recorded for three weeks in a studio in Arcadia on two-inch analog tape, live mainly, with very few overdubs, and we recorded eighty songs to various degrees of completion. Not everything was finished. But it was just about opening, letting go. That’s kind of the meaning of the title, Let’s Just Be. It’s almost a Zen-like approach – the act of doing less as opposed to doing more.

WW: When you went into the studio, how many songs did you have?

JA: I don’t know. Most of them, I’d say. We didn’t really write in the studio, per say, because we wrote during the whole tour. Like, we wrote over the course of all the shows. So that’s why we recorded so many. It was just the process of being on tour, going in to radio stations and just setting up as a band and recording live. And we wanted to keep it minimal like that. We wanted to make sure there was no reverb on it. And before, when we’d do overdubs, normally we’d have to bounce, because we only had sixteen tracks. So we only bounced on a few tracks when we did more than that many overdubs.

WW: How did your current band come together?

JA: Jen Turner I had known since I was on Virgin Records. She was in this band called Furslide, and I sort of knew her way back when, which was 1999 or 2000. She came through New York and we just started hanging out and writing songs together. And from there, Kraig Jarret Johnson was on the road with Golden Smog, and we began hanging out with him when he was in New York. And I asked him if he’d like to come on the road, and he said he would. Jen Turner didn’t believe that he would, but I he did. And then there’s Sibyl Buck on bass and G-Wiz [Greg Wieczorek] on drums, who I’ve been playing with since Redemption’s Son.

WW: Does this disc sound like what you sounded like the first time you played together? Did you try to capture that sound as straight-forwardly as possible?

JA: Yeah, we developed live. It was our live sound. And we aimed to capture that energy and spirit, so we basically went into the studio after touring for like six weeks on Nuclear Daydream.

WW: That’s another correlation to your punk-rock analogy. Now, labels tend not to want to capture bands they way they sound. They want to process everything to make sure that it’s right for radio. Did this approach represent a rebellion against that idea?

JA: I suppose so. When we were making it, it was more just following instincts rather than thinking in terms of rebellion. But if you compare it to what most things sound like today, it sounds like rebellion. I think basically people live in an environment of fear, not just politically, with terrorism and the manipulation of the media, but also artistically. I’m sort of surprised that artists haven’t been more rebellious. And I feel like there’s an environment of fear, too, in corporate America, and how they run the music industry. I think that’s starting to change with the Internet, and people being able to do things themselves, and get things distributed through the Internet.

WW: That ties in to something else I wanted to ask you. You’ve been a lot of labels of a variety of shapes and sizes, but you’ve just started a new label. What was it about those earlier experiences that convinced you the best way to go was to do it yourself?

JA: Well, I have been on quite a few different labels, and the main thing was, I couldn’t really put out records nearly as fast as I could make them. I’ve been writing and recording way more records than they’d ever let me put out. Because basically, when you’re dealing with a label, you get all kinds of different support within the label to make anything happen. And you deal with opinions and people wanting to remix things. A song like “Lonely Astronaut,” being, like, twenty minutes: You can imagine the naysaying that would go on in a big corporate environment. Something like that would never see the light of day. That spirit of experimentation, ultimately, you’d maybe get talked out of it, or start doubting yourself. So I think that working with a label, it’s much harder to get an unadulterated version of yourself out there – and I think that’s what we’ve achieved.

WW: The counter-argument to that is, you may be trading creative freedom for access to fewer listeners, because you’re not going to have a huge distribution apparatus working for you. Is that a trade you’re willing to make?

JA: Yeah, for me there’s no question. First and foremost, my commitment is to my artistic side. Of course, I work hard to get it out there to people. It takes a lot of energy to have a career in this industry no matter who you are, so obviously I’m putting effort behind that. But first and foremost, I follow my muse.

WW: You mentioned that you haven’t been able to put out your music as quickly as you wanted to, and in preparing for this interview, I came across a blog where one of your new songs had been posted, along with a little bit about how soon Let’s Just Be had come out after your last record. And one of the comments on the blog said, “What? Did Ryan Adams call in sick?” Which I thought was pretty funny – but that kind of comment cuts both ways, since Ryan Adams has been criticized for putting out so much material so quickly, and some people have said his albums might be better if there was somebody there to tell him, “Hey, this song doesn’t really work that well.” What’s your response to that line of thinking? Do you feel like you have a support network of people who’ll tell you, “That’s not going to fly?” Or do you simply want to put out as much of your work as possible and let the chips fall where they may?

JA: First of all, I respect Ryan Adams for putting out his music the way he does, outside of the lines of what’s deemed rational. I think that’s respectable. But I think there’s kind of a line where maybe you overwhelm people, and they kind of shut you out because you’re overwhelming them no matter what the quality level is. I don’t want to cross that line. But at the same time, I think putting out two records every year, year and a half, isn’t really too much. Back in the ’60s and ‘70s, that was commonplace. And that’s when some of the best music was made. Look at the Beatles. They did their whole book in five years. Think of that. And because every move wasn’t considered to the nth degree, they were able to do that. So that’s my answer to that. I’m holding a whole lot back. I have a whole lot of music I’m holding back.

WW: There’s also something to be said for the idea of creative momentum. When you’re really in a flow, do you stop for two years for marketing considerations, or do you follow your muse, as you said you’re doing?

JA: And I think, also, there’s a myth about that – like, there’s only so much good stuff somebody can do in a certain period of time. I’m not so sure I agree with that. I have a blog and I write incessantly on it, and I write tons of them. To me, it’s almost like, the more I write, the better they are in some ways. Of course there’s crap ones in there, but I wouldn’t get to the ones that really hit if I didn’t let those other ones out, too. I think it’s better to be a little less cautious than a little too cautious. Look at Allen Ginsberg. What people remember about Allen Ginsberg is Howl. They don’t remember a poem that tanked. So what? I even feel like that with Charles Bukowski, his book. I like some of the ones that are more medium. I kind of like that those are out. It’s cool to me. Again, it comes back down to fear versus bravery, love and freedom. If you’re living in an environment of fear, I think less of the greatness comes out. Sure, you’re less cautious about making mistakes. But I think ultimately, that’s when you do make mistakes. That’s always been my experience with life. If I’m afraid of something, and I’m motivated in a direction based on that fear, I always create that fear.

WW: You purposefully create the fear in order to face the fear.

JA: Subconsciously. I don’t consciously create the fear. But it always happens that way.

WW: How long have you putting the “notes from the road” on your blog?

JA: I have to say, I’ve been doing that since before the big blog boom. I’m not saying I invented blogging. I know that it’s been around for a while. But I did it when I was touring, and I put out two books of it when I was touring Come to Where I’m From. They’re called Notes From the Road, volumes one and two, and I did it a lot on that tour, and then I quit for a few years. And now, I’ve started it up again.

WW: Does writing these blogs help you in your songwriting, too? Does it keep the creativity flowing all the time?

JA: Absolutely. I write songs off of some of those blogs, get lyrics. That’s my point. You can look at creativity as a well, with limitations, or you can look at it as some kind of psychic muscle, where the more you work it out, the stronger you get. Maybe there’s truth to both ways…

WW: One of the recent blogs I saw was the one you wrote after performing in the Bruce Springsteen tribute, which I found quite moving. Was the experience as emotional for you as reading that blog was for me?

JA: Yeah, because I wrote that an hour after it happened, when I was still at the center of that emotion. And it was emotional. I got really quiet and oddly sad after that whole thing. I don’t know why. I guess just the build up to just performing that song [“Born in the USA”] at Carnegie Hall, and then it’s done. And you’re left to your own devices, and you go home, and it’s weird. It seemed like a magical thing to be a part of, especially for him, because we were all there honoring this dude’s achievement, which is massive. It’s Bruce Springsteen. He’s one of the very best of all time. To be a part of that and to meet him and sing that song, it was humbling more than ego-bolstering. I was kind of like, “Whoa.”

WW: Something just occurred to me that ties into the record-company conversation we were having earlier. If Bruce Springsteen came out today with Greetings From Asbury Park [his first album], would he even get to make a second record and develop into what he became?

JA: That’s a good question. But I’m a big fan of telling people that if I was around in the ‘70s, I’d be a multi-billionaire. [He laughs.] Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I like telling people that.

WW: In reading about the new album, I stumbled upon something about the sequencing – about you using the sequencing of songs that came back from the recording plant. Is that right?

JA: No, it was the mastering engineer. There were four different work CDs, and that was work CD number one. And so that’s the order he put it in. They put it in random order, so that was work CD number one, randomly. And we left it in his order. I sat down and listened to it all the way through, and I thought it had some kind of eclectic, strange, magical flow to it. I liked what it was telling me.

WW: I just interviewed Andrew Whiteman from Apostle of Hustle, and he talked a lot about how important sequencing is to him. Do you think that’s an overrated virtue? Or was this more like a Marcel Duchamp idea of accidents that somehow wind up being art?

JA: Much, much more the Marcel Duchamp angle. I think sequencing is vitally important. But the record and the title, there was a whole Zen approach to it. Accidents were our guide the whole time, even down to the sequencing. But sequencing is totally important.

WW: Do you feel like you’re opening yourself up to those happy accidents more than you ever have before?

JA: Definitely with this record. I’ve always sort of done that live, but I think for sure, with this record, studio-wise.

WW: You mentioned that you have much more material. What are you thinking about in terms of the other three work discs, or future recordings? How soon do you think we’ll get more?

JA: I’m sort of plotting that right now. Judging by the reaction to this, I think we should tour this for a while. We’re getting ready to tour, a six-week tour, and then we’re going to probably go back in the studio and record again whatever we come up with on this tour, and then maybe assemble something from the best of what went unused from the last sessions, and then the new stuff. That’s kind of the game plan. And I have a solo record I’ve been working on for years that I’m still working on – that’s kind of a bigger production. But like we were talking about before, can you overwhelm people. I think we’ll let this one live for a little while.


INTERVIEW : 2007-04-26 DIY Guy, Joseph Arthur wants to write his own legend (by Michael Roberts)

From 1997 to 2006, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur released five albums on a like number of sizable labels, ranging from Virgin to Mega Force. But he decided to put out his latest disc, the enjoyably shaggy Let's Just Be, on his own imprint, Lonely Astronaut Records -- a moniker that references his new band, the Lonely Astronauts, and the disc's centerpiece song, also called "Lonely Astronaut," which would fill an entire side of an old-fashioned long-player.

Why go it alone? "I've been writing and recording way more records than they'd ever let me put out," Arthur says. "And you deal with opinions and people wanting to remix things. A song like 'Lonely Astronaut' being, like, twenty minutes -- you can imagine the naysaying that would go on in a big corporate environment. Something like that would never see the light of day."

Those who wish it hadn't are likely to brand Arthur as self-indulgent. Such criticism won't silence him, though. "I think there's kind of a line where maybe you overwhelm people, and...I don't want to cross that line. But at the same time, I think putting out two records every year, year and a half, isn't really too much," he argues. "Look at the Beatles -- they did their whole book in five years. You can look at creativity as a well, with limitations, or you can look at it as some kind of psychic muscle, where the more you work it out, the stronger you get."

Arthur's offerings, which range from soul-baring confessionals to crazed glam freakouts, are beloved by a cult whose members include numerous notables. His debut platter, Big City Streets, reached the public thanks to Peter Gabriel, who signed him to Real World Records, and earlier this month, he had the honor of playing "Born in the U.S.A." at a Carnegie Hall tribute to another of his boosters, Bruce Springsteen. Does Arthur think the Boss would have developed into an icon had his poor-selling first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, been released in the miserly music industry of today? "That's a good question," he allows. "But I'm a big fan of telling people that if I was around in the '70s, I'd be a multi-billionaire." After a laugh, he adds, "Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but I like telling people that."

Meanwhile, Arthur is happy to trade the access to a global audience that a major can offer for creative freedom. "First and foremost, my commitment is to my artistic side," he maintains -- and he's been giving it plenty of exercise. Despite putting out two recordings in quick succession, he says, "I have a whole lot of music I'm holding back."

The more the merrier.


INTERVIEW : 2007-04-25 Joseph Arthur makes no apologies for his wildly eclectic songcraft (by Adrian Mack)

Vancouver encountered Joseph Arthur when he held down a two-week residency at the Railway Club in 2000. At the time, the Beatle-bobbed, New York–based singer-songwriter was working strictly alone, pitting his darkly personal songs against a battery of effects pedals, loops, and fractured electronic beats. The album that followed, Come to Where I'm From , produced with refreshing abandon by T-Bone Burnett, came with the endorsement of Peter Gabriel and was strikingly decorated with Arthur's primitivist artwork. The impression was of a cracked, poetical boho. In hindsight, the disc was something of a precursor to 21st-century freak folk.

Since then, Arthur has proven to be a restless and prolific artist with a number of incarnations, all of them converging on his sprawling new album, Let's Just Be . Recorded in three weeks with his new band, the Lonely Astronauts, the disc offers the recklessly experimental version of Arthur in the 20-minute "Lonely Astronaut" (which sounds like the frustrated black scribble floating above Charlie Brown's head when he's pissed off). Arthur the folksinger is represented by the wintry, hushed "Take Me Home", and "Wedding Ring" gives us the singer bent on adult-contemporary rock, complete with falsetto and keening Telecaster.

Predictably, critics have tended to focus on the record's multiple personalities, much to Arthur's amusement.

"One reviewer called it 'wildly uneven'," he says, speaking to the Straight while shopping for organic food in New York's East Village. "They were trying to insult it, but I take that as a big compliment. 'Wildly uneven' is, like, the best thing you can say about a rock 'n' roll record. If someone had that quote on the front of their record, I'd be interested to hear what 'wildly uneven' sounded like."

Weirdly enough, Arthur's previous album, Nuclear Daydream , was a straight-ahead affair made with a number of the same musicians. The kind of thing that could comfortably be filed between R.E.M. and Dave Matthews, its tone was considerably more consistent than that of the latest full-length, as was the critical reaction–the best of his career, in fact. "I actually did try to consciously make a more even kind of record," Arthur admits, with a self-satisfied chuckle, further allowing that Nuclear Daydream "follows all the rules, and even looks like a real record".

But finding himself with a permanent band, for the first time since he started recording in 1997, seems to have inspired Arthur to expand in all directions at once. The Lonely Astronauts actually put an incredible 80 songs in the can once they hit the studio.

"It's not a wild turn of events," Arthur argues. "It's fuckin' pop songs and rock songs. Weren't the Beatles as eclectic as fuck? Don't you remember 'Helter Skelter' on the same record as fuckin' one of those goofy Ringo songs? It's not that insane."

Concluding that "our culture really punishes risk takers," Arthur offers a final retort to critics who would prefer that his music stand still.

"There's a lot of 'wildly uneven' journalism," he snickers.


2007-04-24 - WOXY Radio, Cincinnati

On Stage :

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

Setlist :

lack a vision
i will carry
cocaine feet
diamond ring

Recording :

 Great collection of pictures at Flickr




INTERVIEW : 2007-04-19 Arthur, Astronauts ready to land in Baltimore (By Jordan Bartel)

It was 2:30 p.m. Tuesday and Joseph Arthur was not in the best mood.

"Our bus has broken down twice so far," Arthur said. "We were trapped all night on the side of the road in Albany. Pretty much a nightmare."

Singer-songwriter Arthur is on the road on a 30-city North American tour promoting "Let's Just Be," his just-released sixth album and the first with his band The Lonely Astronauts.

The band will play at Sonar in Baltimore on Saturday, if, of course, they make it.

"I think we're good," said Arthur, a bit groggy from lack of sleep. "We're in an SUV now and pulling a U-Haul."

"Let's Just Be" comes less than seven months after the release of "Nuclear Daydream," Arthur's most critically acclaimed album of his 10-year recording career.

In recent years, Arthur has gotten a lot of exposure, mostly through his steady output of albums but also through his song "In the Sun," which was featured on numerous popular television shows and recorded by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and Chris Martin of Coldplay for a Hurricane Katrina relief program.

Arthur, trudging along the road on the way to a gig in Philadelphia, talked to the Times about the new experience of touring with his band, getting discovered by Peter Gabriel and recording with Ugandan orphans.

Q: At the risk of being very unprofessional, I have to start by telling you that one of my friend's favorite songs is "In the Sun."

A: Oh, that's really cool.

Q: Did you see that song as kind of a breakthrough for you?

A: Well, when I was writing it there was something about it that was really special. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to say that about my own work.

Q: You can say it, I think. Do you ever get tired of being called 'prolific'?

A: No, not really. That means something like I write a lot right?

Q: Right.

A: Then no. It's what I do.

Q: "Let's Just Be" is your sixth album and the first you recorded with your band. How does its recording compare to previous experiences?

A: Well, we recorded it on a 16-track tape, live in the studio. It's very much a live record, not as many overdubs. No reverb.

Q: Why did you decide to go that way?

A: We went on tour and we wanted something that reflected that relationship we developed on the road. It seemed like the best way to record.

Q: Do you see this album as a departure musically for you?

A: Well, I suppose so in that it's more of a band album. In that way it's a departure, but not a departure from my basic philosophy of music or anything. Nah, I wouldn't say it's a 180 or anything.

Q: You've said that working on the album with the band led to a very different way of writing and performing for you. How so?

A: It's more about being with people that are really creative. That opens a whole different way of writing for you, or sharing ideas. We got together sort of random and playing together just feels together organically.

Q: 2006's "Nuclear Daydream" was widely praised. Did that put any pressure on you for this album?

A: No. I think that way when it's too late [laughs]. I just do whatever my instincts have told me to do so far. I don't believe in second guessing too much. When I do, it's basically too late.

Q: You're also an artist. Could you just play music or just create art or do you need them both?

A: I'm not sure how to answer that. So far I need them both. I just utilize them at different times.

Q: And you're opening a gallery in Brooklyn, right?

A: Yeah, that's going pretty well. I think I'm just a bit overwhelmed at the moment. But it's coming along well and I'm making all the class on it. I think I was looking forward to kicking off the tour and getting into that groove.

Q: You grew up in Akron, Ohio. Is there a music scene there?

A: Well, I guess so. I haven't lived there in a while, but I was there from when I was 0 to 18. It's where I started playing music. I kind of got into a blues rock satiation, playing five nights a week in a club with a blues rock band that was a bit adult. But we were that freakishly young band compared to everyone else.

Q: And then you moved to New York?

A: Atlanta. Four days after high school I moved down there. I was doing odd jobs like busing tables, working in a guitar shop, cooking, making music but not really professionally. Then I started focusing more on original music.

Q: How does one get discovered by Peter Gabriel?

A: It was basically a fate and as random as it sounds. I gave a demo tape to a friend who gave it to a friend who gave it to a friend who had a friend who knew Peter Gabriel. I didn't even know he had a record label. Kind of crazy. I was working in the guitar shop and a co-worker told me, 'A famous English rock star is going to call you.' I was, like, who? Elton John? T-Rex?

Q: And what was that initial conversation with him like.

A: Answering machine message first and then I finally talked to him. I don't know. When life takes you into a direction you don't expect, you kind of become this detached witness to it and just do the next right thing.

Q: I noticed a bunch of pictures you took in Uganda on your MySpace page. What's the story behind them?

After Michael Stipe covered "In the Sun" for Katrina relief I met a whole new group of people who were passionate about doing something about extreme poverty among Africans. I wrote a song about it, "A River Blue." So I went over to Northern Uganda and sang it with the orphans of the LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] massacre.

Q: What was recording with them like?

A: It was amazing, actually. The best thing I've ever done with my life. I aim to do more stuff along that line, work with that group of people, using art as a means of them dealing with trauma.

Q: What did they think of your playing?

A: I think it was more me witnessing them and appreciating them.

(from Carroll County Times)


INTERVIEW : 2007-04-18 3 questions with...Joseph Arthur (by Kari Wethington)

Akron native singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, now based in Brooklyn, released his latest album (Let's Just Be) in March, this time with his band the Lonely Astronauts. After he spent years writing and performing on his own, the last year has marked a change for Arthur's now more collaborative sound. I chatted with Arthur about the new band and how he's embraced blogging culture.

How have things changed now that you you're not just solo, but have an entire band?

It's been a real collaborative. It was time for me to make that kind of change I think. I've been on my own for a long time. It happened organically - I didn't contrive it. I wanted to take a band out (on tour for the last album), and I figured I would make it a backing band. I didn't realize it was going to turn into such a collaboration, such a real band.

You update your Web site with "notes from the road" pretty frequently. What do you get out of that?

It's almost like public therapy, mixed with art, mixed with poetry. I think it's kind of cool - I like blog culture. I like unadulterated creativity and explorations in public - I think it dismantles fear. There's such an environment of fear, not only politically but artistically. So many people are afraid to take chances and extend themselves for fear of being judged. It's better when people are bold and brave and just do things that can challenge and provoke.

Do you check the comments fans leave?

I check into that here and there, but I don't make a habit of it. If I read them I become more self-conscious and less open. Language is a funny thing and especially in that form, it's hard to read tone and those things. A lot of people can absolutely get the wrong idea of what you're saying, so it's sorta like if you start reading the comments too much you start becoming afraid to (say what you want). It's better to not worry about other peoples' judgment. But, (my readers) usually say really nice, intelligent things. Mostly I'm impressed with how smart people are.

(from CiN Weekly)



Let's Just Be

Let's Just Be is the sixth studio album by Joseph Arthur, and his first with his backing band The Lonely Astronauts. 

The album was released on April 17, 2007 in the US, and on September 3, 2007 in the UK

Tracklist & Lyrics :

01.Diamond Ring
02.Good Life
03.Precious One
05.Take Me Home
08.Lonely Astronaut
09.Cocaine Feet
10.Let's Just Be
11.Shake It Off
12.Lack A Vision
13.Gimmie Some Company
14.I Will Carry
15.Yer The Reason
16.Star Song

The Lonely Astronauts are:

Joseph Arthur
Kraig Jarret Johnson
Jennifer Turner
Sibyl Buck
Greg Wieczorek
Rene Lopez
Angelbert Metoyer

Produced by Joseph Arthur with The Lonely Astronauts
Mixed by Joseph Arthur
Recorded and engineered by Mathias Schneeberger at Donner & Blitzen Studios, L.A.

All songs written by Joseph Arthur (Lonely Astronaut (ASCAP) except 1, 5, 7, 10, 14, 15 by Joseph Arthur and Kraig Jarrett Johnson (Kraig Jarret Music, Admin by Bug Music (ASCAP), 13 by Jennifer Turner (ASCAP)

All songs Mastered by Fred Kevorkian, Kevorkian Mastering, Inc, New York
Original Artwork (ink and charcoal on arches watercolor paper) by Joseph Arthur
Photos by Cerise Leang, Joseph Arthur and Lauren
Copy help Karen Karibian
Art Direction and Design by Judith Salavetz & Spencer Drate

Special Thanks to Carolina for bringing the spirits a key and to Lauren for catching the inspiration as it fell