REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - RoomThirteen

by Jim Ody

New York blackout…

In anticipation of his forth coming September album release, ‘Temporary People’, Joseph Arthur has decided to release four EP’s showcasing his work, and giving us brief tasters as what we are likely to expect with this final full-length offering. Here we have the third EP, ‘Vagabond Skies’, from the arty and slightly folky guy from Brooklyn. “It’s almost like the ‘50’s again,” he stated recently. “I’ve always like the EP because it has a looseness to it. I think songs work best off of each other.”

‘Vagabond Skies’ has six songs on it, and I have to be honest I was expecting something between the likes of Rocky Votolato, Langhorne Slim with a touch of Ryan Adams, however what we in fact get is something a bit more like a cross between Lou Reed and Beck…First song, ‘Slow Me Down’ is laid back and chilled with an acoustic rock feel like a mix of Frank Carillo and Langhorn Slim, that is heavy on atmosphere and backing vocals, drifting over you like a sweet warm breeze. Then the heavy strumming of the guitar with another simply constructed tune in, ‘Even When Yer Blue’ plays out I think that perhaps this is exactly what I was expecting…

There is something slightly Gothic about, ‘Pretty Good Company’ whereby Joseph’s voice is now slightly darker and more haunting, and whilst again it is slightly acoustic, we now have a drum beat and bass, whilst the contrasting high background vocals gives us some depth and the slight squeal of the synthesizer keeps us clutching our comfort blanket. Then, ‘She Paints Me Gold’ has a slight ‘70’s soul feel to it like a Simon & Garfunkel. It’s light, airy and wishy-washy, never really go anywhere, I’m afraid, however strangely enough is Joseph’s Most Requested and Never-Before-Released songs- well, what do you know?

The full about-turn happens with a the Electro-Drum-beat of, ‘Second Sight’ and you get the full extent to this artist • a man let’s not forget is an acclaimed painter and Grammy-nominated visual artist • as the dark Electronica/Pop smashes up in a Bowie and Gabriel kind of way, before the aptly titled, ‘It’s Too Late’ finishes off the EP going back to the beginning to the stripped down and simply irresistible slow Soul echo. Yes, I am a lover of half of this EP and am pretty non-committal about the other half. I’ve not heard anymore of Joseph Arthur’s EP’s or other music, so I cannot comment of the styles on those, however I would think that you will always get his experimental flashes within his work, but if he can suppress the need to override his talent of the simple acoustic songs with these then he could well have a great album coming out later in the year…However if he fills it with Electro-Pop, then Mr Aurther, don’t give up your day job…

TAB : Slow Me Down

Tabbed by Loïc,

Slow me down:
Am: x02210 F: x33210 C:x32010

Don't know where I'm going
Don't know what I'm trying to find
Wish you could come with me
To the spaceship in my mind

G Am
Slow me down
And I can't wait
For you
G Am
Slow me down
And I can't wait
For you

REVIEW : Could We Survive - Blurt Magazine

If he wasn’t already, Joseph Arthur is about to move into the seriously prolific singer-songwriter category with this six-song EP is the first of four due in 2008, all leading up to full-length All You Need Is Nothing in August.

But the raw acoustic balladry of Survive certainly stands alone. Channeling another wavery-voiced political songwriter, Arthur dives immediately into the heart-wrenching protest song “Rages of Babylon” with a Dylan-like flair for nose-on-the-head lyricism. If you manage to get past that one without shedding a tear or listening five times on repeat, Survive proceeds to take a welcome stroll into more lighthearted fare, all beautifully tied together by Arthur’s signature swirling and layered choruses and ringing acoustic guitar. Arthur’s rough-hewn, somewhat deadpan vocals just make Survive feel all the more organic.

REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - Snob's Music

Joseph Arthur is a man possessed this year. He has a total of five official releases coming out (4 EPs and a full length), plus his online recordings which keep piling up.

Vagabond Skies is his latest EP release and if it's any indication, quantity doesn't mean you have to compromise quality.

The EP is a collection of six songs soulful songs mostly about relationships and love. As with any great song about relationships, it's the hurt and the loss which are most poigniant within Arthur's songs. I', not sure if a better line about betrayal exists than "The knife in your back isn't as sharp as your tongue" ("Pretty Good Company").

Arthur does step away from the folksy rockers for a while, "Second Sight" brings in destorted vocals and heavy drums sounds that pound in a rhythm reminiscent of Devo's best work.

The EP ends on what's probably it's best track "It's Too Late", in which Arthur laments a wasted opportunity for love. "Every time I try to tell you how I feel/it's too late" is a sentiment I'm sure most people can relate to at one time or another.

That ability to convey those feelings we all have is what make Joseph Arthur special.

REVIEW : Temporary People - Chart Attack

Joseph Arthur has been putting out records at a frantic pace over his 10-year career but no period has been quite like 2008 for the American musician. 

Temporary People is his fifth disc of the year, following a staggered series of EP releases. This is Arthur's second full-length with his Lonely Astronaut players, and it's clear from the start that this is the first time one of his albums has truly sounded like it's being played by a band and not by one man. 

Arthur is used to being the focal point (and one would assume he's still writing the lyrics), but on Temporary People, he very skillfully steps into the background and lets his bandmates flaunt their wares. Those looking for Joseph Arthur the solo artist should still seek out 2000's Come To Where I'm From. 

For anyone interested in Joseph Arthur the band leader, Temporary People is a first-rate place to start.

REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - Chart Attack

It's been a very prolific year for Joseph Arthur. Vagabond Skies is the third in a series of four EPs designed as lead-ups to the release of his full-length album due out this fall.

This six-song collection is like a musical breather: subtle, understated and considered a return to form of sorts with its mostly folk elements. But Arthur gets a little experimental by interjecting a heavy, howling electronic chorus into "Second Sight." 

"She Paints Me Gold," easily the best song on the EP, is an ethereal, delicately fluttering trip that morphs into an epic guitar solo underpinned by a crooning, wordless choir-like refrain. 

For the most part, Vagabond Skiespasses pleasantly, but not that remarkably. 

As part of a series, the record seems to make sense, but wouldn't be strong enough to succeed as a stand-alone effort.

REVIEW : Could We Survive - ComfortComes

Joseph continues to be one of the most prolific songwriters currently in America.

This EP is the first of 5 releases in this coming year alone. In a increasing scene where singer/songwriters are cropping up at what seems to be every second it is just always refreshing to hear new Arthur material as this man knows how it is done. 

“Rages of Babylon’ starts off with a sweet little harmonica but finishes with a powerful and painful lyric. 
“Morning Cup” features a really beautiful acoustic guitar riff combined with another strong lyric. “Could We Survive” is a tender piece that shows off Arthur really emotional and powerful voice with just the tripped down sound. 
“King of the Pavement” has this really cool echoed voice feature going on which makes it sound like it was recorded in a tin can first and then cleaned up a bit. 

This EP is a simply most own as Joesph has delivered another strong outing that always sets him apart from the rest of the pack.

By John Siwicki

REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - ComfortComes

It is a new month so that could only mean a new Joseph Arthur EP. “Vagabond Skies” is the third EP in a four part set that is being released in the run up to his latest studio album due this September.

So, the main question I had going into this release was could Arthur keep the quality going for a third EP? He is surely bound to slow down right?

“Vagabond Skies” is the “slow” EP out of the set. There is not a song that will hit you right away as a stroke of genius like “King of The Pavement” on “Could We Survive” or “Dream of the Eternal Life” on “Crazy Rain.” The songs here take some time to get it is really more late night music. The EP gets going with “Slow Me Down.” The track is the most accessible out of this bunch with an epic and uplifting hook in some ways. Arthur’s trademark vocals have now become a comforting feeling now that he has been in our lives so much lately. 
“She Paints Me Gold” starts off with a simple drum and a piano that sounds like it is being played three miles away. He does a little something extra to his vocal here with a slight effect and a little extra falsetto as well. It gives the song a nice chance of pace.

People who are new to the world of Joesph should start off with the first EP in the set “Could We Survive.” The EP is slightly more conventional and will be a good way to break into his writing style and his personalty. The record is a late night record and I think I need a nap.

By John Siwicki

REVIEW : Foreign Girls - ComfortComes

“Foreign Girls” is the fourth EP that Joseph has released this year in run up to his full length album due later in the year.

“Foreign Girls” finishes off what must have been an exhausting project for Arthur as the EPs are essentially a double albums worth of material and then a full length is do out later this month. 

The lyrics on the title track are a bit bland so have a look here “everybody wants foreign girls.” But, the show stopper on the record is the background vocals of Cerise Leang. She provides a nice contrast to Joseph which makes the song a lot more interesting to go on. She also appears on the next track “Candy and Cars.” 

“Lovely Cost” and “Stay” showcase the softer side of Arthur’s song book. As the first has a lovely hard acoustic sound with the nice occasional piano. 
While, “Stay” uses a little more effects to get the message out there. 
“The Killer” is built around a sound drum pattern and sounds like something from his “Crazy Rain EP.”

This EP shows off a lot of Arthur range and how he could just throw anything at you with a track. At times you can call the lyrics to be a little off but he does a good job of not making them the central piece and he manages to get away from that. 

“Foreign Girls” is a not even twenty minutes in length but certainly has a few tracks worth a look.

REVIEW : Crazy Rain - QRO Magazine

by Ted Chase

April 29, 2008

Note : 7.7

Joseph Arthur throws his fans a curveball with his latest EP, Crazy Rain. The acclaimed singer/songwriter is putting out four EP’s in the run-up to the August release of his latest LP, All You Need Is Nothing. Crazy Rain is the second of the four, after last month’s Could We Survive (QRO review), and it’s a much different take, as Arthur experiments with techno, distortion, and more.

Rain opens up with its strongest track, “Killer’s Knife”, a dark, distorted echo that introduces the listener to this new side of Joseph Arthur. He follows that up with the more subdued, disco-dark “Nothin 2 Hide”, but the come-on dark “I Wanna Get You Alone” actually plays comedic, with a strong bass line. Meanwhile, strong drumming comes into play with the ethereal and atmospheric “Dream of the Eternal Life”.

Between those last two is the relaxed and knowing “Radio Euphoria”, a real winner. Unfortunately, “I Come Down”, another disco-dark piece, is a little plodding. “Nobody Make It Home” is the EP’s most distorted piece, a cool, distant echo, with rather techno keys. After Crazy Rain’s most different track comes its most ‘regular Arthur’, finisher “Hunter”. But even that quieter, carrying song has a tech-background.

With every EP release, Arthur has thrown a party-cum-show at his new DUMBO art gallery, The Museum of Modern Arthur (QRO venue review). Look forward to the next EP, to the next party, to the next Joseph Arthur.

REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - QRO Magazine

by Ted Chase July 2, 2008

Note : 7.5

In the lead-up to the fall release of his latest full-length, Temporary People, singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur has been putting out a series of EPs, first Could We Survive (QRO review), then Crazy Rain (QRO review), and now Vagabond Skies (the fourth & final EP, Foreign Girls, comes out in July). While Crazy Rainsaw Arthur experimenting with techno and distortion, Vagabond Skies is kind of a ‘return’ for the artist, a pretty record even in its effects.

“Slow Me Down” starts the EP off on a high echo/reverb, and that aspect is something that holds true throughout. However, unlike the real alterations of Crazy, the effects on Vagabond merely reinforce Arthur’s soft touch. “Slow” plays haunting, while the following “Even When Yer Blue” goes more alt-country, and the subsequent “Pretty Good Company” moves into alt-folk. More of a mood record, there aren’t really highs & lows on Vagabond, per se, but “She Paints Me Gold” is probably the best track, thanks to its interesting background guitar solo. Unfortunately, the following “Second Sight” and “It’s Too Late” are probably the weakest numbers, with “Second” seeing too much reverb, while the stripped “Late” not doing enough with its echo.

Most musicians couldn’t produce the kind of output Joseph Arthur can, but this is a musician with something like two hundred unrecorded, unreleased songs in his back pocket. He’s also got a loyal fan base that will lap up them up. After getting something a little unfamiliar in Crazy Rain, they’re sure to enjoy the Arthur they know on Vagabond Skies.

REVIEW : Temporary People - AllMusic

AllMusic Review by John Bush

Temporary People is one of the most anticipated albums of Joseph Arthur's career (first place going to his debut, Big City Secrets). Capping over a year of release activity, with no less than four EPs leading up to his full-length for 2008, the LP seems fit to function as a cap on Arthur's continuing development as a songwriter (as well as the ongoing cohesion of his band, the Lonely Astronauts). Right from the opening title track, Arthur's songwriting shows refreshing vigor given all the activity.Arthur and his band are just as endearingly ramshackle as ever, quickly taking their place as one of the best alternative bands since the Replacements at sounding ragged and delightfully off the rails (especially so ever since Wilco became such willful perfectionists). Blistering rockers ("Sunrise Dolls") sit well next to heartbroken ballads ("Say Goodbye"), and the band's roller-coastering aesthetic is perfectly suited for Arthur's rambling, half-coherent delivery.

If nothing here is as immediate as the highlights of Let's Just Be, the songs grow into an effortless blend of contemporary singer/songwriter quality and retro bar band flair. (More than even the recent EPs, Temporary People displays the Lonely Astronauts becoming one of the best backing bands in the business, a worthy complement to the heart-on-his-sleeve emphasis of Arthur's songwriting.) Not all of Arthur's lines scan perfectly, though; one head-scratcher comes from "Say Goodbye" -- "The letter you left me was laced with your perfume/Like a butterfly tryin' to fly back into her cocoon." If fans are expecting Temporary People to be a giant leap following a four-EP run down the track, they might be disappointed. Temporary People is simply another ragged-but-right release from one of contemporary alternative's most natural-sounding bands.

REVIEW : Foreign Girls - QRO Magazine

by Ted Chase  July 25, 2008

Note : 7.6

Joseph Arthur sums it all up on his last EP before his LP, Foreign Girls. The Brooklyn singer & songwriter has been releasing one EP a month for a while now, first Could We Survive (QRO review), then Crazy Rain (QRO review), thenVagabond Skies (QRO review), and now finally Foreign Girls. All this is in lead-up to his next full-length, Temporary People, out later this year. And if the EP’s are any indication, it looks to be a wide-ranging Arthur, like on Foreign Girls.

The eponymous opener is low-key in a monotone wry, but has some interesting effects laid over the singer/songwriter vibe. Even stronger is the following “Candy and Cars”, whose alt-country-meets-eighties tech nature is boosted by just enough of a humorous outlook. Arthur goes more ‘traditional’ with the sad, piano-based “Lovely Cost”, but swings too far the other way with the following “Stay”, into too much tech. Most interesting on Foreign Girls is perhaps “The Killer”, whose tech-stop wry grind shouldn’t work, but does. “New Satisfaction” finishes out the EP on a smoother tech technique.

Already known for his prolific nature, including hundreds of unrecorded songs and selling CD burns of a show almost immediately after the set is over, the EP-a-month output shouldn’t come as a surprise from Joseph Arthur. Instead, the surprise is the music, but with Foreign Girls, he never loses his connection to home.


COVERART : Temporary People

REVIEW : Vagabond Skies - PopMatters


10 August 2008

Note : 4 of 10 stars

There’s no shortage of Joseph Arthur material out there these days. With a handful of full-lengths already floating around, Arthur has spent 2008 putting out a series of self-released EPs, and Vagabond Skies is the latest in that series. And while his ambition and work ethic should be applauded, prolificacy is not always a good thing.

In Arthur’s case, the more he puts out, the more listeners become aware of his limits. At his best, Arthur puts out lush and affectingly chilly ballads driven by his smoky vocals. But when he falls short, his music becomes indecipherable from any other singer songwriter being pumped through the overhead speakers at your local Borders. And unfortunately, much of Vagabond Skies falls into that nameless and forgettable category. There’s nothing here that is terribly bad—though the overproduced drummer and under-energized vocals on “Pretty Good Company” fails the most—but nothing stands out.

Everything clocks in just over three minutes, and keeps the same mid-tempo pace. “She Paints Me Gold” is the only track that tries something different, with a bigger, spacier sound, and towering guitar solo in the middle. But even when he’s experimenting on Vagabond Skies, Arthur plays it safe, and the song becomes dependent on the guitar solo instead of being built around it.Vagabond Skies, and much of Arthur’s other output this year, may have been better served by distilling them down to one release, honing the finer points—like the promising opener here “Slow Me Down”—into a more concise and energetic disc. Instead, Arthur shows us he doesn’t lack for output, but he may be short on ideas.

REVIEW : Could We Survive / Crazy Rain - PopMatters


29 June 2008

Note :  Could We Survive : 4 of 10 stars
            Crazy Rain : 2 of 10 stars

Crazy Reign

Believe it or not, “complete creative control” can be a very bad thing.

When Joseph Arthur started out his career in the late-‘90s, he was an alt-folk troubadour who wasn’t afraid to rock out on occasion. Of course, it certainly didn’t hurt that it was Peter Gabriel who stumbled upon his demo and helped in getting the young lad signed. But Arthur’s output since has been nothing but prolific: six full-length albums, 11 EPs, and that whole “Museum of Modern Arthur” thing. After playing the label game for awhile, Arthur ultimately found happiness in starting up his own label (Lonely Astronaut), working on his paintings as well as recording dozens upon dozens of songs, most of which remain unreleased to this day. Having cultivated a loyal following, Arthur is now able to make his own music at his own rapid-fire pace, all with—that’s right—complete creative control.

Unfortunately for him, such control does not equal focus.

Could We Survive and Crazy Rain are the first two EPs in a set of four that Arthur has released as a lead-up to his seventh full-length album, Temporary People, due later this year. He’s pulled off this multi-EP stunt before, with 2002’s Junkyard Hearts quadrilogy, but at the end of the day, 2008’s go-round is nothing to write home about. While Could We Survive is labeled as Arthur’s “traditional”-sounding EP and Crazy Rain serves as the wannabe dance disc, both remain remarkably hookless, thankless pop affairs.

Of the two, the shorter Could We Survive fares better. It remains firmly rooted in the glistening folk-pop of his past, and though it doesn’t reach the spectacular heights of, say, “Honey & the Moon”, it is by far the more effortless of the two. “Shadows of Lies”—despite its terrible title—is thoroughly enjoyable streamlined pop, with acoustic guitars fluttering around simple keyboard patterns and Arthur’s multi-tracked voice. The mellow, sweet ballad “Morning Cup” remains the highlight, as it proves to be delicate without being too precious, rounded out by percolating piano lines and an off-kilter sense of (much-needed) whimsy. The rest of the disc, however, can be faulted for being too accessible. “King of the Pavement,” a track that would’ve been a passable song (or at least B-side) in any artist’s discography, is polished of all edge. Arthur’s disaffected crooning is lost amidst his addiction to vocal reverb. Though Arthur’s a good producer, he’s almost too good, often forgetting that just a twinge of grittiness at least shows that there’s a passionate soul at work, instead of well-oiled song machine…

… which, as Crazy Rain evidences, is almost exactly what he’s become. Despite this eight-track affair’s obsessions with drum machines and electronics, Rain is an absolute buffet of indulgence, with Arthur blindly convincing himself that he’s the master of any and all genres. “I Wanna Get You Alone” is perhaps the most glaring fault, as over a gritty bassline and throbbing beat, Arthur repeats the title for a seemingly-endless minute before launching into barely-decipherable falsetto crooning, all making for a remarkably grating experience. The spacey “Dream of the Eternal Life” is filled with generic mid-tempo harmonies and surprisingly pedestrian lyrics. “Nothin 2 Hide”, meanwhile, rolls along in a druggy haze, unsure of its melody or even its purpose, which ultimately describes the entirety of Crazy Rain. For all its attempted neon bravura, Crazy Rain feels drained of all color.

Of course, it’s hard to fault Arthur for contracting Robert Pollard Syndrome, as there are some genuine gems within the fray. In the end, though, it just might be best for Arthur to get his genre-hopping out of his system. Once he’s burned himself out, all he’ll have to return to are the simple joys that got him here in the first place.

REVIEW : Foreign Girls - PopMatters


2 October 2008

Note : 3 of 10 stars

For Joseph Arthur, the blandness just keeps on coming. Foreign Girls is the fourth and final 2008 EP that Joseph Arthur has released on his own Lonely Astronaut label, and it merrily continues the tradition of the other three by being both bland and anemic at the same time. There was a time when Arthur was deliberate pop-rock stylist, a guy with a strong ear for melody who was happy to cover his modern folk aesthetic with a gauzy sheet of glam, but each progressive release has shown the founder of “The Museum of Modern Arthur” delving further and further into his navel, resulting in a series of songs that are virtually free of any notable qualities whatsoever.

“Lovely Cost”, consisting of nothing but piano, acoustic, and voice, manages to come off as a late-night dorm room jam that runs out of energy only one minute in, Arthur’s voice once again filtered in a way where it’s difficult to make out his hackneyed lyrics. Though an active drum machine helps buoy the semi-successful rocker “The Killer”, the chord progression feels tossed together and therefore lacks any solid six-string momentum (even as Arthur croons “There’s no Jesus to crucify / anywhere”). There is some hope, however, as the effortless “Stay” manages to hold to a solid melody and fun atmosphere, making for the single most enjoyable moment on this otherwise tedious outing for Arthur. As the video below shows, there is perhaps some hope to be found in his forthcoming full-length offering Temporary People, but at the end of the day, the less said about this multi-EP experiment, the better.

REVIEW : Could We Survive / Crazy Rain / Vagabond Skies / Foreign Girls - Pitchfork

By Stephen M. Deusner; July 2, 2008

 Note : 5.4      Note : 6.3

 Note : 3.8      Note : 4.7

We're barely halfway through the year and Joseph Arthur has already released four EPs, launched a clearing-house mp3 blog called Bag Is Hot, and scheduled a full-length,Temporary People, for September. That tally doesn't even take into account his work as a visual artist working in both photography and painting (collected at his new website Museum of Modern Arthur). Arthur's relentless output-- likely to outstrip the parameters of the word prolific by year's end-- often seems like an outgrowth of his cultivated eccentricity, but there are deep contradictions embedded in his method: Certainly he controls his output completely, as he owns his own label, but his prodigious production implies something more akin to an assembly-line approach to creativity rather than an artist's careful self-editing. Furthermore, flooding the marketplace only dilutes the impact of the work, and in this case listening threatens to become more of an obligation than a pleasure.

A deeply idiosyncratic artist, Arthur is nevertheless not an especially innovative singer or songwriter, certainly less so now than earlier in his career, when he was messing with loops and delays, a one-man band creating a strange and provocative racket. There's very little racket on Could We Survive, to its considerable disservice. Tasteful yet never intrusive-- in other words, a bit dull-- the first of these four EPs portrays Arthur as a troubadour-poet musing briefly on life during wartime. With its military snare rolls and Dylan harmonica, the soldier's-eye-view "Rages of Babylon" manages to be anti-war, pro-troops, and not a little obvious. His stilted imagery and slightly detached vocals often conflict with the everyman perspective he's attempting to capture, suggesting an artist too far removed from his subject. At least "Morning Cup", bolstered by a delicate mandolin phrase, sounds suitably conflicted, suggesting a hopefulness that's all the more poignant for being so precarious.

Crazy Rain is more animated, more of a mess, and all the better for it. This is Arthur rocking out with mostly compelling weirdness: "Killer's Knife" is all filtered vocals and distorted guitars, "Nothin' 2 Hide" all brooding beats and Shaft guitar, yet they're both compelling in their surface pleasures alone, especially after the gravity of Could We Survive. On "I Wanna Get You Alone", he shows off a Princely falsetto, nearly inhuman and barely recognizable against the Twilight Singers-style backdrop (a few of that band's members, including Greg Dulli, appear on Crazy Rain). Yet, as much as he seems more attuned to these warped beats, droning guitars, and scribbled synths, he sounds uncomfortable on the glammy "Radio Euphoria" and the faux-angry "I Come Down".

For Arthur, working in the EP format might have been a means to jumpstart his creativity, to think outside his album-a-year box, but there's actually very little experimentation on these songs-- nor much we haven't heard before. Instead, the tactic seems to have reinforced some of his bad habits, such as equating brashness with innovation and using phrases like "the spaceship in my mind." The third EP, Vagabond Skies, mixes elements of Could We Surviveand Crazy Rain, but not necessarily the good ones. These quiet, electrified songs sound pleasant enough, but indistinctive. Only "She Paints Me Gold" and "Second Sight" stand out-- and not in a good way-- the former because it features a long, pointless guitar solo (reminiscent of last year's fiasco Let's Just Be) and the latter because it volleys self-consciously between unremarkable verses and shrill, shouted choruses.

By the fourth EP, Foreign Girls, Arthur sounds as exhausted as, no doubt, the listener. These songs are almost impressive in their sparkling inconsequentiality. "Everybody loves foreign girls," we're told on "Foreign Girls". "Everybody wants foreign girls." "Stay" seems to exist only for the synth belches on its chorus, "New Satisfaction" for its slowed-down psych-rock organ riff. Good elements, but with little underpinning beneath them. Yet the spare arrangement of "Lovely Cost"-- just voice, guitar, and piano-- sounds genuinely off the cuff, as if Arthur went from idea to execution in the span of a short spring afternoon. Arthur can be compelling or boring, ignorable or annoying, and although the unevenness of these EPs bestows a strange sense of surprise and possibly even discovery, you still have to wade through a lot of crap to find the gold.

"Temporary People" Hand-Printed Limited Edition Covers

Great idea from Xavier, who aspires to collect the covers of this limited edition, made by Joseph himself.

There's a little work, because this edition consisted of 200 copies all different!

Thank you in advance for your contribution, by sending to me a nice picture of your copy without flash.

REVIEW : Temporary People - No Depression

by Edd Hurt

Temporary People takes loss as its subject, and anyone who's ever fallen passionately in love will recognize its mixture of ecstasy, terror, uncertainty and detachment in the face of big, unfashionable emotions. Joseph Arthur renders these dozen songs subtly, but the album's achievement rests in the Brooklyn songwriter's inspired use of the same old rock materials.

What's more, he has a sense of humor and a sly way with all the stuff he's lifted from a '70s canon that seems to favor Bowie and the Stones. "Winter Blades" lifts off with a basic rock 'n' roll structure, complete with a distorted vocal and a nicely executed fake ending. Like Chuck Prophet, Arthur likes to pile on the details: backing vocals, wah-wah guitar, harmonica, extraneous percussion. Unlike Prophet, however, Arthur often hides behind the density of his arrangements. This is appropriate for a record that lurks in the shadow of loss.

"Say Goodbye" feints in the direction of 3/4 time before settling into a simple acoustic-guitar pattern complemented by echoed guitar lines. "You left on a cold afternoon/Leaving winter in the month of June," Arthur sings. "Faith" features a vocal that seems to slouch, but Arthur stretches out his words and pitches his voice in the direction of hope, defiance – some useful emotion along those lines. For that matter, Arthur has a sense of humor: the way he inflects "go on" in "Heart's A Soldier" matches the droll soulfulness of lines such as, "You try to change the weather/Even though you know it's a mistake." And the exquisite, brief "Dream Is Longer Than The Night" turns on a perfect chord change. Here, Arthur's voice is a whisper trailing off into a rabbit hole, and the gospel-inflected 6/8 structure is perfectly judged.

The Lonely Astronauts follow Arthur every step of the way, with Greg Wieczorek's drumming particularly apposite. Garth Hudson adds piano and organ to several tracks. The closing song, "Good Friend", is invested with almost more emotion than it can contain. This is appropriate for a record which doesn't try to dodge the uncomfortable and oddly invigorating feelings that only love – and its discontents – can evoke. Temporary People feels strangely permanent, even as it sports a cover photograph of the band posing among various female mannequins. Joseph Arthur might be "naked and alone," as he sings in "Faith", but he makes that condition sound as temporary as any number of other afflictions that feel as though they'll last forever.

REVIEW : Temporary People - Popwreckoning

Honestly, I am kicking myself that it took me so long to sit down and listen to this fantastic album. Why did I wait so long, you ask? A little bit of life getting in the way, and a little bit of unfounded assumption, I had never heard of Joseph Arthur or the Lonely Astronauts for that matter. When I finally tackled this one on an Amtrak train on my way up to Montreal for the weekend, I hung my head in shame, as the latest effort from this prolific artist is worth more than the commissioned first listen it received.
Heading north, I let Joseph Arthur rip. And rip-roar he did. From the first chord, I felt as if I were listening to some kind of Dylan, Stones and Springsteenlovechild. Arthur’s seventh full-length studio album Temporary People is rich with the sound of 60s psychedelic pop, classic guitar rock, far reaching and tender choir choruses, and breezy sing along folk-type lyrics.

The opening/title track is a bit dark and clearly inspired by Arthur’s self-admitted long-fought battle with drugs and alcohol. Arthur sings about feeling empty and filling himself up with the lives of friends and lovers instead of facing himself. Arthur’s raspy voice carries a hint of a southern drawl and his words are both warm and wise. Midway though the song, a ghost-like chorus rears its head, as if the sounds of himself are waking. The soaring electric guitars at the end drive the tone desperation all the way home. In that sort of “it feels good to feel bad” way we all like to indulge in sometimes.

Arthur’s contemptuous riot on “Dead Savior” followed by the proselytizing chorus of “Look Into The Sky”, shows an artist with range and great skill, one who pulls together complex arrangements with well-rounded vocal compositions, but at the same time, one who appears to be following his gut, just like it’s the first time. The songs don’t feel meticulous or fussed over, rather, there is a rawness, an exposed feeling on this record that gives me a little bit of a lump in my throat. My favorite track is easily “Turn You On”. It’s a homegrown kind of love song that I think would make The Bossproud. Arthur concedes: “You say, I don’t turn you on, until it’s time for me to go” with a hoarse, scratchy, clawing agony, not for himself, but for her pain and the loneliness that’s so common in truly loving another.

Self-producing four EPs this year alone on his own label, Lonely Astronaut Records, owner of his own art gallery in Brooklyn for a period of time, writer, visual artist, filmmaker, and all around creative machine, it’s a bit overwhelming to get to know this artist given the number of directions he’s coming from. But the uncomplicated, good old, dark with a light at the end of the tunnel vibe ofTemporary People is a fine place to start. Go ahead and help yourself to a highball of Wild Turkey and a smoke, Joseph Arthur has been to a few places, and he’s ready to rock.

REVIEW : Temporary People - Spin

by Jon Young // November 14, 2008

Joseph Arthur’s obsessive pursuit of first-take ecstasy can produce moments of thrilling immediacy or create an unappealing mess (see 2007’s Let’s Just Be).
Having already churned out four EPs this year, the Brooklyn dynamo mostly gets it right here. 
Taking after Dylan, Neil Young, and others who prize grit over polish, Arthur puts his sandpaper rasp to good use on frayed, rootsy tales such as the sneering “Dead Savior” and the ramshackle “Heart’s a Soldier.” 
Most importantly, he seems to have great fun venting, which gives Temporary People an irresistible, 
what gives? spirit.


Click on a title to see the tab.

"Dead Savior"
"Look Into the Sky"
"Sunrise Dolls"
"A Dream Is Longer Than the Night"
"Heart's a Soldier"
"Winter Blades"
"Good Friend" 


REVIEW : Could We Survive & Crazy Rain - Treblezine

by Ernest Simpson

I’ve always been a champion of the EP. This shorter, more concise format lends itself more focused direction in songwriting, themes and style. From Oingo Boingo’s now rare debut EP to Iron & Wine’s Woman King and beyond, the EP, though often overlooked, has been easily the most digestible form of commercial music, more satisfying than a single, and less tedious and grandiose as an album. I guess Joseph Arthur feels the same way. The problem is, I think he somewhat missed the point as he hasn’t just released something as focused as an EP, he’s released four EPs within four months, all leading up to a full album in August. To quote Velma, “jinkies!” Spread among four releases are enough songs to be two tracks shy of the length of Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, and that should tell you something, unless you’re one of those die-hard Mellon Collie fans.

The most unfortunate aspect of this bout of pop excess is that this will be the focus of most reviews. Yes, I am fulfilling my own prophecy, but I sincerely doubt that most reviews will even attempt to escape the pull to write about prolificacy versus substance. And yet, these discs do have some substance, though hidden amongst the bracken of overgrowth. Sadly, for Arthur, the good songs will generally become lost in the midst of comparisons to Prince, Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst or Robert Pollard in relation to self-censorship and harried output. Another, and most likely more important, aspect to this string of EP releases is that your average music consumer is probably more likely to buy a double album like Mellon Collie on one trip rather than a few EPs on multiple trips, all of which would end up costing more than said double album. Though, with digital downloading, at least the effort of the journey is taken out of the equation.

Arthur has certainly become relatively well known in comparison to your average indie troubadour. In a nutshell: discovered by Peter Gabriel; signed to RealWorld; revered, if not by critics some of the time, then definitely by other artists; his song “In the Sun” covered by Michael Stipe and Chris Martin for a Hurricane Katrina benefit EP; prolific visual artist in addition to music. I first heard Arthur long after he started his career, in covering the Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” I have heard a lot of bad covers of Smiths songs, and this was definitely NOT one of them. I was nothing if not intrigued.

To Arthur’s credit, though the EPs are somewhat glutting the market, each release is an entity unto itself, with its own thematic identity. Could We Survive and Crazy Rain are the first two of the planned four EPs, with the first more rooted in singer / songwriter folkiness and the latter a bit more on the pop / funk / soul side. On the first, “Rages of Babylon” is a standout track, with Arthur sounding a bit like Richard Ashcroft singing a Dylanesque war protest tune. “Walk Away” and “King of the Pavement” are other tracks to heed, with all the requisite elements of captivating Britpop ballad. Could We Survive is a perfect little EP for those quiet Sunday mornings at home, curling up with a cup of coffee and reading the paper.

Crazy Rain is, in my opinion, the better of the two, though completely different in sound and scope. Vocals are fuzzed out and overdubbed while the instruments are plugged in and distorted with studio effects. Though Greg Dulli is a guest on second track “Nothin 2 Hide,” it is the first track, “Killer’s Knife” that sounds more like an Afghan Whigs / Twilight Singers / Gutter Twins gothic folk jam. “I Wanna Get You Alone” is a song that some might dismiss as repetitive, but I find it to be as engaging as songs from Depeche Mode’s similar sounding Music for the Masses and Violaor era. It shares qualities with their update of “Route 66″ or “Personal Jesus.” And yet, as the longest EP, Crazy Rain has as many missteps as standout tracks, including the torturous and uncomfortable “Radio Euphoria” as well as the seemingly interminable drone of “Dream of the Eternal Life.” “I Come Down” finds Arthur somewhat out of his element with an industrial edge that makes him seem more like a parody of Trent Reznor than Reznor himself. Plus, it’s one hubcap analogy shy of aping a T. Rex cut.

It strikes me, upon listening to Arthur’s tunes, that if each song were placed in some other context, either listened to in isolation, put into a mix as on the radio or a compilation CD, or played randomly for a friend, that most people might prick up their ears to ask who was playing. However, with this string of EPs, though each one thematically varied, listeners are most likely to suffer from Joseph Arthur overload rather than be able to pick out particular gems to savor. My advice to any non-Arthur fans, or just casual listeners is to sprinkle the tracks into playlists or just listen to them among other shuffled tunes for optimum enjoyment. After all, isn’t that what this generation is all about anyway?


2008-11-28 - Radio Popolare, Milan

On Stage :

Solo radio session for "The Patchanka Show"

Setlist :

turn you on
this is still my world
all the old heroes

Recording :

2008-11-28 Radio Popolare MP3


2008-11-22 - Folies Bergere, Paris

On Stage :

Solo concert
Opening for Tracy Chapman

Setlist :

in the sun
echo park
temporary people
birthday card
turn you on
slide away

Recording :

2008-11-22 Paris


2008-11-20 - Kulturpalast, Dresden, Germany

On Stage :

Joseph opened the show in support of Tracy. An article found on a Tracy forum mentions that the concert was difficult for Joe. He received polite applause and hisses from a hostile audience. This probably explains why Joe did not assure the last concerts of this tour.

Setlist :

01 Black Lexus
02 Could We Survive - Temporary People
03 Faith
04 Turn You On
05 Slide Away
06 I Donated Myself To The Mexican Army

Recording :

This show was recorded by Tom Moore, and was shared with the Tracy Chapman recording.

This gig is available on Dime (torrent site for bootlegs) and here on FLAC files.


INTERVIEW : 2008-11-07 Doing Things You're Not (by Liza Ghorbaninov)

MOMAR Joseph Arthur at the Museum of Modern Arthur, his gallery in Brooklyn, with two bandmates, Sibyl Buck, center, and Jen Turner. CreditRahav Segev for The New York Times

JOSEPH ARTHUR, the singer, songwriter and artist, has created his own little artistic paradise in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn. The Museum of Modern Arthur, open to the public every Tuesday through Sunday, serves as Mr. Arthur’s version of Andy Warhol’s Factory: a place he and his friends can get together to exercise their imaginations, which often involves creating art for the gallery, recording music in the studio in the back, silk-screening clothing or just talking.

On a recent blustery evening, Mr. Arthur, wearing the “lucky” hat that he had bought in Nottingham, England, was entertaining a couple of members of his five-piece band, the Lonely Astronauts, and some friends. He was about to embark on a solo European tour as the opening act for Tracy Chapman.

Despite the jittery sounds of the “Psycho” movie soundtrack in the background, the mood in the gallery was peaceful, with the aroma of sage incense filling the air. Sibyl Buck — a bass player and former model (and the stylish Edie to Mr. Arthur’s Warhol) — told everyone of a performance artist who had been smashing car windows in the name of art.

“The new definition of art is when you do something and other people talk about it,” she said.

Mr. Arthur, who at 6 feet 4 inches describes himself as circus tall, said that when it comes to his artistic pursuits, like the band’s new album, “Temporary People,” and his latest exhibition, “Wigs,” at Galerie Pangée in Montreal, he strives to be more contemplative. He added that he avoided spending too much time on “meaningless” diversions like Facebook.

“I just prefer real life, like this,” he said, gesturing to those around him. “This is so nice. Later we’ll see each other again in cyberspace, but it won’t be like this.”

There is a familial unity to Mr. Arthur’s band members, a closeness that can be felt by one outside their inner circle. Appropriately, they have matching tattoos of a perfect circle, a permanent bond they got just one week after they met one another two years ago.

Jen Turner, the lead guitarist, pointed out an identical circle on the sleeve of her Army jacket. “The band regalia,” she said. “We all wore these for a gig.”

Late that night, Mr. Arthur and Ms. Buck strolled the cobblestone streets of Dumbo, with its remnants of streetcar tracks, on their way to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Flanked by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the rocky beach is a favorite haunt of Mr. Arthur’s. He goes there a lot, he said.

“I call it Joe’s place,” he said, skipping a stone toward the cityscape across the water. He added, “I think a lot of people call it Joe’s place.”

It was a soothing, if somewhat unusual, way to wind up an evening, bringing to mind a comment that David Letterman made when the Lonely Astronauts made one of their appearances on his show: “I want to go with those people. I would like to be with those people. I think they’re probably doing things I’m not.”

It’s not actually that they’re always doing “fabulous stuff,” Ms. Buck said. “But he knew it was something different than what other people are doing at midnight.”


INTERVIEW : 2008-11-02 Joseph Arthur: Nonstop Rock (by NPR)

Joseph Arthur has released four EPs and a full-length record, Temporary People, in 2008.Danny Clinch

In the mid-'90s, Joseph Arthur was an obscure singer-songwriter from Ohio when Peter Gabriel discovered him and invited him to participate in the "Big Blue Ball" sessions at Gabriel's personal studios in England.

Since launching his career with three records on Gabriel's label, Real World Records, and gaining a devoted fan base, Arthur has been incredibly prolific. In 2008 alone, he has released four EPs and one full-length record, Temporary People, on his own label.

Despite producing such a large volume of material, Arthur says he still finds time to sleep.

"I love to work," he says. "What I call my work, I would do even if it wasn't my work, so I think that's the key to it. I do just hang out a lot. I have a lot of down time, as well."

Describing his new record, Arthur says, "The album to me is about a journey, reaching toward the light through your spirit, trying to overcome your demons through your spirit."

Arthur has battled substance abuse, noting, "It's definitely something I've been dealing with for quite a long time, and it's something that I feel I'm on the good end of right now."

Music, and this record in particular, has helped him deal with his addiction.

"It's kind of a result of how prolific this year has been, is just through sobriety," he says. "I'm not one of these sober people that thinks drugs are bad, but I do know for me, in this point of my life, clarity is much more interesting and exciting to me."

On his 2008 EP Could We Survive, there's a political song with acoustic guitar and harmonica, told from the point of view of a soldier, called "Rages of Babylon."

"Writing politically is not a natural fit for me," Arthur says. "It's something I kind of have to force myself to do, and I just felt there was such a call for it."

Arthur says he read about the high divorce and suicide rates among veterans.

"That hit me," he says. "Particularly the divorce rate, what it would do to your relationship to be gone and how brutal that is. It's kind of from that point of view that I wrote the song."

Arthur is not just a prolific musician, he's also a painter.

"Painting for me is a darker expression than music," he says. "I see it as more of the midnight energy. Music to me is more like celebratory and light. Painting is solitary expression. You're removed from your audience when you paint."

Arthur says that while he loves all kinds of types of music, his doesn't have a definitive genre or style.

"I think it's interesting how people comment on the style of music over the substance," he says. "I think there is sometimes a lack of substance in music that has led people to be more focused on the style."

He cites Picasso, another artist who "explored all the different styles," as a hero.

"The style of music is like the outfit I'm wearing," he says. "I could be wearing this or I could be wearing jeans and a T-shirt."

He says his new listeners should start with Temporary People, adding, "It's a true record, in that it works as a record, it works as a body of work [and] it tells a story."

What is that story?

"Reaching into your soul to overcome your weaknesses and survive with hope." He adds, "With a rock 'n' roll soundtrack."


INTERVIEW : 2008-10-29 Prolific singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur returns to hometown of Akron with Lonely Astronauts (by John Soeder)

"I had toured so long solo that I hadn't really played with human beings in a long time," says Joseph Arthur, now on the road with the Lonely Astronauts. From left are Greg Wieczorek, Jen Turner, Arthur, Kraig Jarret Johnson and Sibyl Buck.

Raised in Akron and now based in New York City, alt-troubadour Joseph Arthur is having a productive year. He just put out an album, "Temporary People," with his Lonely Astronauts band, preceded by four solo EPs. The multi-talented Arthur, 37, spoke to us by phone from a Montreal art gallery, where an exhibit of his paintings opened last week.

Q: Were you concerned about throwing too much music at people?

A: Yes, a little bit. But I feel like the way I planned it out, it would in the end be . . . um . . . what's the word?

Q: Manageable?

A: There you go. . . . Just because the EPs are so different from the record in a way -- the record being a band record and having a different sound and a more cohesive sort of sound, and the EPs being more experimental solo type stuff.

People don't have to listen to all of it. They can just pick and choose.

Q: Have you cleared the decks, or do you still have a lot of unreleased music?

A: There's a lot more.

Q: The curse of the prolific!

A: Yeah, definitely. There's a certain urge to get it out, just to sort of be free of it, to kind of move on and move past it.

At a point, you feel almost like you're holding back your evolution by holding on to things, you know?

Q: You've done a lot of solo gigs, with only your effects pedals for company. With the band, how challenging was it to fall back into playing with other human beings again?

A: It was a great relief to me to find a real chemistry.

I had toured so long solo that I hadn't really played with human beings in a long time. So it felt great.

Q: I like the album title. In a spiritual sense, we're all temporary people, right?

A: Yeah, exactly. I like that interpretation. . . . It has the depth to it, and then it has the other connotation to it, like hanging out with people that aren't going be around or don't really matter to you -- and people that do really matter to you.

The album is kind of about survival. And it's about struggle, vulnerability and overcoming pain through reaching toward spirit.

Q: What's your plan for 2009? Six EPs and a double album?

A: No, I will not be doing that.

We might put the EPs in a box set, do something special. Then I have a solo album near completion. And the band is working on another record, too. So I might put out a couple records next year.

I kind of feel like it's the late '60s or early '70s for me . . . and you're allowed to put out two records a year, or you're supposed to.


INTERVIEW : 2008-10-25 L'artiste transitoire et ses perruques (by Paul Journet)


Pour la deuxième fois depuis 2007, Joseph Arthur débarque à Montréal avec une nouvelle exposition, Wig. Entre les deux, l'artiste multidisciplinaire a eu le temps de lancer pas moins de six disques. Discussion sur les cheveux, l'identité et les freaks.

À notre arrivée à la galerie Pangée du Vieux-Montréal, on reconnaît instantanément Joseph Arthur. C'est l'efflanqué de 6'4 ou presque avec de simili bottes de cowboy, des cheveux négligés et un veston ocre sali par la peinture.

À trois heures de son vernissage, il s'acharne silencieusement au marteau. Un flash qu'il vient d'avoir. Il accroche de fausses perruques sur une bibliothèque pendant que gisent sur le plancher leur emballage de style Dollarama.

«Pourquoi mon exposition s'appelle Wig? Les gens disent souvent que mes toiles ressemblent à des cheveux. Ça m'emmerde un peu. C'est même devenu une crainte, et mes craintes, j'aime les confronter», justifie-t-il nonchalamment.

La voix est grave et le ton lent, léger comme un éléphant qui titube. Joseph Arthur est parfois qualifié de froid ou suffisant. Mais ce n'est qu'une façade. Quelques minutes de conversation suffisent pour révéler un rêveur d'une rare affabilité, et très capable d'autodérision.

Pour Arthur, le beau réside dans le mystère. Dans l'indicible. Il n'aime donc pas trop qu'on lui demande de rationaliser son art. «Pourquoi je peins? Pourquoi je chante? J'évite les questions sans réponses. Je ne me réveille pas le matin en me disant: je vais symboliser la mort dans ma toile», lance-t-il avant d'interrompre son envolée par un autre rire bien gras.

«Mon travail reste très intuitif, reprend-il. Je commence en pensant à la technique - un coup de fusain, une couleur d'acrylique. Le reste s'enchaîne tout seul. Le thème ou le sens, si tu veux, vient inconsciemment, d'un endroit que je ne contrôle pas.»

Les thèmes de ses tableaux restent plus sombres que ceux de sa musique, sorte de folk-rock qui plane dans une douce amertume. «Mes chansons ne sont pas forcément joyeuses, convient-il. Mais le simple fait de chanter ressemble quand même à une petite célébration pour moi. Peindre, au contraire, est très solitaire. Presque étrange. C'est bizarre, non, cette idée qu'un adulte mature s'enferme l'après-midi pour étaler des couleurs sur une toile.»

New York sur le crack

Avec Joseph Arthur, le terme prolifique n'est pas exagéré. Sans vraiment ralentir sa production en arts visuels, il a lancé pas moins de cinq albums cette année: Could We Survive, Crazy Rain, Vagabond Skies, Foreign Girls et Temporary People.

«Sometimes I feel like I'm 25 different people, chante-t-il dans la pièce-titre du plus récent disque. Un sentiment angoissant? «Un peu, répond-il. J'y pensais encore hier soir dans ma chambre d'hôtel. L'identité, c'est quelque chose de tellement transitoire. Elle change toujours un peu, ou finit parfois par se fixer sans avertissement, au hasard d'une rencontre ou d'un événement.»

Ses «moi» temporaires, Joseph Arthur les exprime dans ses innombrables chansons, poèmes et tableaux. Il crée constamment, rapidement, comme autant de polaroids de ses états d'âme. L'antithèse d'un Leonard Cohen qui retravaille un texte pendant des années pour exprimer une idée. Pratiquement tous les jours, l'Américain de 37 ans pitonne un nouveau poème sur son BlackBerry, qu'il met ensuite en ligne sur son site. «Oui, mes vers sont simples et courts, acquiesce-t-il. C'est parce que l'écran est petit! Ça, et aussi parce que je n'ai jamais fréquenté l'université.»

L'année dernière, il inaugurait dans le quartier Dumbo de Brooklyn son MOMAR - Museum of Modern Arthur. En plus du clin d'oeil évident au MOMA, il s'agit de sa tentative - sans prétention - de recréer un Factory à la Warhol. C'est là qu'il réalise la plupart de ses oeuvres. Du moins pour l'instant.

«On s'est fait évincer plus tôt cette année, raconte-t-il. Notre proprio vient de nous réadmettre, mais je ne sais pas trop pour combien de temps.»

Le natif d'Akron, Ohio, n'écarte pas un déménagement dans une autre ville. «New York devient trop tranquille, comme un deuxième Boston. Je cherche un genre de New York sur le crack, avec des gens qui brassent et dérangent. C'est une forme d'oxygène, ça. En fait, j'attends le prochain Marilyn Manson qui me fera freaker.»

Wig, à la galerie Pangée (40, rue Saint-Paul Ouest) jusqu'au 16 novembre.


INTERVIEW : 2008-10-23 Joseph Arthur's Wig: Hair manifesto (by Dave Jaffer)

Joseph Arthur's black and white and baby blue spiritual nerve
Photo: Danny Clinch

Artist-singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur gets it all down on paper in Wig

"My art is spiritual nerve," Joseph Arthur writes in a manifesto for Wig, his upcoming exhibition at Galerie Pangée. The manifesto satisfies two goals: It allows Arthur to poetically explain what the show’s about as well as what the show entails.

From a van en route to York, Pennsylvania, Arthur clarifies both, plainly saying that "the idea of [Wig] is 40 wigs and a kiddie pool.

"I guess it’s just about life and death really, and the specific technique of painting that I kind of have developed over the last few years, and in particular, the last year or so," he continues. "A lot of times people will say [my painting] looks like hair to them, and that always bugs me, like I said in the manifesto. So I started thinking about hair and ‘Why does it bug me?’ and I realized that what I think I’m painting is really alive, and hair is dead."

Singer/songwriter Arthur is no stranger to the visual arts. Completely self-taught, he started painting over 15 years ago, and often conflates music making and painting. Nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package for his work on the 1999 EPVacancy, Arthur will occasionally paint while playing solo acoustic shows, as he did at O Patro Vys during the release of 2007′s Let’s Just Be.

"We haven’t been on the road in a while so I’ve just basically been painting a lot," says Arthur, on the production of Wig’s works, "so most of everything I’m showing is pretty new, you know, and it’s all on paper. Everything works on paper apart from the wig sculpture I plan to make, but I haven’t made that yet."


2008-10-06 - Fargo All Stars, La Cigale, Paris

On Stage :

Concert for the third Fargo All Stars Festival with the Lonely Astronauts :

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

A great collection of pictures from this event can be seen at PhotosConcerts.

Setlist :

temporary people
say goodbye
dead savior
turn you on
too much to hide
slide away
winter blades
electrical storm
sunrise dolls
cocaine feet
black lexus

Recording :

A soundboard recording exists, with the 7 first songs of the concert.

Poster :

Review :

By Sandrine for Froggy Delight

Puis arrivent Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts. Malgré l’heure tardive, ils rappellent une lumière blanche ou bleu métal et offrent un set rock du meilleur acabit.

Joseph Arthur, à l’allure d’un Don Quichotte à la triste figure, accompagné par des filles aussi gracieuses que talentueuses, nous fait regretter d’être assis. Il faudrait bouger, danser.

Dès le premier morceau s’exprime toute la générosité créative de l’artiste. La guitare tatouée, les ondulations sexyes de la bassiste, des chansons longues, langoureuses et énergiques : le public est aux anges.

Ils donnent encore trois chansons en rappel, il faut que le personnel de la Cigale coupe court pour arrêter Joseph Arthur sur sa lancée rollingstonnienne.

Les deux premiers groupes ne sont plus que souvenirs lointains, déjà évaporés : quant à Joseph Arthur, cette première soirée des Fargo All Stars est, sans contestation, sa soirée.


2008-09-03 - Liberation, Paris

On Stage :

Acoustic session at Liberation (a french newspaper)

Setlist :

turn you on
look into the sky

Recording :


2008-07-17 - Roxy Theater, Los Angeles

On Stage :

Solo concert, opening for James Hall and David Garza.

Setlist : 

temporary people
slide away
nuclear daydream
dead savior
electrical storm 

Recording :

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

Poster :


LYRICS : Candy And Cars

All the time driving (in) candy and cars 
Looking at photographs (moving) the stars
Following spider webs spun around Mars 

I was (a leaf?)
You were (in charge)
An elegant (fear/feel)
Looking for bars

Living in lonely worlds where we could fight 
Arguing who is (the) dark and who is the light/right 
'til I jumped (on/in) your car deep in the night 

Until you would scream 
Get out of (/outta) my sight
I know you burn 
Impossibly bright 
When will you learn?

Maybe your love is like gas on a rose/road
Throwing down matchbook stalks/souls that (are) already froze
Unless you say differently I guess I'll pretend 

Nobody knows
What you are/were like 
Without any clothes
What you are/were like
When you're not (froze) 

LYRICS : Foreign Girls

Foreign girls 
In New York
Sit and smoke
Smoke and talk
Looking for
Dudes and lust
Looking for
A cherry bust
Foreign girls
With speedy tongue
Old enough
But still too young

Foreign girls
Foreign girls

Foreign girls
Plan to drink
Musica and
Lust won't think
Foreign girls
With ripped jeans
They've read about
New York scenes
Foreign girls
Sit and smoke
Perfume kiss
Could make you choke
Show their legs
And glance around
Looking for a thrill

Foreign girls
Foreign girls
Foreign girls
Foreign girls

Everybody loves
Foreign girls
Everybody wants
Foreign girls

Foreign girls
Young and old
Foreign girls
Bought and sold
Foreign girls
Hot and cold
Foreign girls
Made of gold

Everybody loves
Foreign girls
Everybody wants
Foreign girls
Everybody hates
Foreign girls

Foreign girls
Foreign girls
Foreign girls
Foreign girls 


Do not go / You will not go 
Want you to stay
Want you to stay
Want you to stay 

Do not go / You will not go
Want you to stay
Want you to stay
Want you to stay

And I love you (doll)
Like the dog/dark loves the night (a fight/bite)
Love you 'til the morning come 
In the endless night 

Do not go / You will not go 
Want you to stay
Want you to stay
Want you to stay 

Do not go / You will not go 
Want you to stay
Want you to stay
Want you to stay

And I love you (doll)
Like the dog/dark loves the night  
Love you 'til the morning come 
In the endless night 

LYRICS : The Killer

I've got nothin' to justify 
Wing and a prayer (Wingin' a prayer) 
If you saw me then testify
Say I was there 

I want you to feel alive
I want you to feel alive 
Inside your (brain/grave/jail?) 

Judge come down with my punishment
Guilty as sin 
Lethal injection of government 
Stickin' it in 

I want you to feel alive
I want you to feel alive 
Inside your (brain/grave/jail?) 

If you saw me then testify 
Say I was there 
There's no Jesus to crucify 

I want you to feel alive
I want you to feel alive 
I want you to feel alive
I want you to feel alive
Inside your (brain/grave/jail?) 

LYRICS : New Satisfaction

I don't want to get angry
In life 
Ain't it like on the TV 
Oh no 
If you think you could feed me 
Your dream 

Give me back your satisfaction 
Let me into your sympathy 
Give me back your satisfaction 
Let me into your sympathy

I don't want to get angry
In life 
Ain't it like on the TV 
Oh no 
If you think you could show me 
Your dream

Give me back your satisfaction 
Let me into your sympathy 
Give me back your satisfaction 
Let me into your sympathy 

COVERART : Foreign Girls


INTERVIEW : 2008-06-17 Joseph Arthur Is Damned, But Optimistic (by Chart Attack)

Musician and artist Joseph Arthur has become accustomed to seeing his work get dismissed as diluted and pretentious, simply because of the staggering efficiency with which he releases records.

He's also been labeled self-indulgent. And who could blame the press for doing so after he opened a gallery called The Museum of Modern Arthur to display his own paintings?

"I think you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't," Arthur surmises.

The New Yorker has released more than 10 discs of material since 2002, and he doesn't plan on slowing down. Arthur has already released three solo EPs this year (Could We Survive, Crazy Rain and Vagabond Skies), while Foreign Girls will follow on July 8.

As if that weren't enough for one year, September will see the release of Arthur's latest full-length, Temporary People, with his band The Lonely Astronauts (guitarist/keyboardist Kraig Jarret Johnson, guitarist Jennifer Turner, drummer Greg Wieczorek and bassist Sibyl Buck). Arthur agrees that he'll always be in danger of supersaturating the marketplace, but he insists that there's no other way to make music.

"I think people in the prime of their creative lives — the people I like the most — put out lots of music in short periods of time. And I think that's when some of the strongest work gets done. Let time sort it out. I think you have to strike while the iron's hot... It's better to get it out than to hold it back. Those are the chances you take.

"Look at The Beatles — their whole book was made in five years. Neil Young and Dylan used to put out two records a year… and that was just expected of you if you were an artist. Now if you do something similar, people tend to view it with raised eyebrows, like that means you're not editing yourself."

Arthur's musician's eye may be fixed on the past, but he certainly isn't the type to let the present pass him by. He sees the survival of the music industry in the internet, scattershot releases and digital distribution. That perspective prompted him to create Bag Is Hot, a blog of sorts that he's using to release music, poetry, photography and artwork for free at a sporadic and fluid pace.

"I usually break it down to what's the most interesting thing to do," says Arthur. "For instance, blogging poetry, or something like that. There's a certain vulnerability and risk in doing that. You have to ask yourself: 'Is it more interesting not to do that or to do that?' You break it down like that. And right now, I think it's more interesting to do it."