Unknown Mortal Orchestra

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2015).jpg
Unknown Mortal Orchestra performing at Sala Apolo in Barcelona, Spain in 2015
Background information
Origin Auckland, New Zealand
Genres
Years active 2010–present
Labels
Associated acts Blouse, The Mint Chicks, Whitney
Website unknownmortalorchestra.com
Members Ruban Nielson
Jake Portrait
Kody Nielson
Thomas Hoganson
Past members Julien Ehrlich
Gregory Rogove
Riley Geare
Quincy McCrary
Amber Baker

Unknown Mortal Orchestra is a Portland, Oregon based New Zealand psychedelic rock band primarily comprising singer, guitarist, and songwriter Ruban Nielson, and bassist Jake Portrait. Nielson, formerly of The Mint Chicks, started the band in 2010. The band's first album was released in 2011 on Fat Possum Records; three subsequent studio albums have been released on Jagjaguwar, the most recent being Sex & Food (2018).[1]

History[edit]

Inception[edit]

Singer and guitarist Ruban Nielson released the track "Ffunny Ffrends" on his anonymous Bandcamp profile on 17 May 2010.[2] It was paired with no further information and notably no mention of who created it. Within a day, the song had received significant coverage from independent music blogs such as Pitchfork.[3][4] Through their reposting and attempts to hunt down the creator,[5] Nielson eventually claimed the track as Unknown Mortal Orchestra's.[6]

Unknown Mortal Orchestra[edit]

The band's debut self-titled album was released 21 June 2011 on Fat Possum Records. The album quickly received critical acclaim. Pitchfork gave the album an 8.1, describing that with "an expert use of space rare for such a lo-fi record, UMO manages a unique immersive and psychedelic quality without relying on the usual array of bong-ripping effects."[7]

In the spring of 2012, the band won the Taite Music Prize for the album.[8] Although the nominated Unknown Mortal Orchestra did not win Best Alternative Album, Nielson took home the title of Best Male Artist at the 47th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

II[edit]

In September 2012, Unknown Mortal Orchestra announced that they had signed to Jagjaguwar and were working on their second full-length album. Unknown Mortal Orchestra's second album, II, was released on 5 February 2013.[9] The first single from the album, entitled "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)", was first available as a 7" on their tour with Grizzly Bear.

II has received widespread critical acclaim. In November 2013 it won Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards. II was nominated for the Taite Music Prize 2014, an annual music prize awarded for the best album from New Zealand. Clash Music gave the album a 9 out of 10, saying "from opener 'From The Sun', which recalls George Harrison-psychedelia, to the tender Family Stone shuffle of the closing of 'Secret Xtians', 'II' displays both a glowing warmth in its production and a deft use of space that illuminate Nielson's superbly crafted compositions."[10] Paste magazine called the album "a modern, beat-heavy take on '60s psych, with plenty of hooks and fuzz to get you hooked and feeling fuzzy."[11] NME praised Ruban's ability to turn his songs into "works of warm, fuzzy beauty".[12]

During the winter of 2012, Unknown Mortal Orchestra capitalized on the success of II and embarked on a world tour.[13] The tour started off with shows in Australia, and hometown shows in New Zealand, followed by several stops in Europe. The band then toured extensively throughout North America with opener Foxygen. In March 2013, Unknown Mortal Orchestra was named one of Fuse TV's 30 must-see artists at SXSW.[14] Unknown Mortal Orchestra consistently sold out shows in both the UK/Europe and in North America, and as a result of their success on the road they announced in early April that they would extend their tour through the end of 2013. That summer the band performed at a number of major European festivals, including Roskilde Festival, Pukkelpop and Lowlands.

On 25 February 2013, Unknown Mortal Orchestra made their American television debut, performing "So Good at Being in Trouble" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.[11]

On 29 October 2013, the band released an EP titled Blue Record.[15] It included three acoustic versions of songs taken from their previous album.

Multi-Love[edit]

On 5 February 2015, the band announced their third studio album, Multi-Love. Soon after, they released the title track as the first single, which was designated "Best New Track" by Pitchfork.[16] Multi-Love was released on 26 May 2015. It was well received by critics. Rolling Stone commented that "Multi-Love sees Nielson coloring outside the lines for a vibrant vision of connection" [17] and Pitchfork praised Nielson's ear for how something should sound and referred to the album as his "most accomplished".[18] Singles "Multi-Love" and "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" were both A-listed at BBC's 6 Music.[19]

Following the release, UMO embarked on a tour through the UK, Europe, the US and Canada, with many sold out dates. On August 12, UMO performed Multi-Love on Late Night with Seth Meyers.[20] On August 25 they performed "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" on Conan. On 16 February 2016 the band performed on Last Call with Carson Daly. "Can't Keep Checking My Phone" also appears in the association football video game FIFA 16.[21]

Sex & Food[edit]

The band's fourth studio album, Sex & Food, was released on 6 April 2018, garnering a lot of praise from fans and critics.

In a review on Reflektor Magazine the following was said, "The consistent thread through the UMO catalog remains strong; frontman Ruban Nielson spins a soulful vocal over a backdrop of melodically rich music and slick rhythm. This album builds on many of the synthesizers and sampled drum textures introduced on the previous breakout LP Multi-Love in 2015, but offers a different ride. The entire album was covertly previewed in SB-05, the 2017 installment of a Christmas day instrumental/ambient track released digitally for free. Upon first listen, Sex & Food reveals each song in its full form, a pleasant surprise."[22] In July, the BBC Radio & 6Music named Sex & Food one of the best albums released in 2018.

Following the release, the band set out on a global tour with stops in the North America, Europe, UK, Asia, New Zealand and Australia, with many sold out dates.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2012 "Unknown Mortal Orchestra" Taite Prize, Independent Music New Zealand Won [23]
2013 "II" Album of the Year, New Zealand Music Awards Nominated <[24]
2013 "So Good at Being in Trouble" Single of the Year, New Zealand Music Awards Nominated [24]
2015 Ruban Nielson and Kody Nielson for "Multi-Love" APRA Silver Scroll Won [25]
2015 "Multi-Love" Best Alternative Album, New Zealand Music Awards Won [26]
2015 "Multi-Love" Best Single, New Zealand Music Awards Nominated [26]
2016 "Multi-Love" Taite Prize, Independent Music New Zealand Nominated [27]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Album details Peak chart positions
NZ
[28]
AUS
[29]
BEL (Fla.)
[30]
BEL (Wa.)
[31]
NLD
[32]
UK
[33]
US
[34]
US
Heat.

[34]
US
Indie

[34]
US
Rock

[34]
Unknown Mortal Orchestra 35 39
II
  • Released: 5 February 2013
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • Format: CD, LP, cassette, download
38 120 96 122 170 2 26 48
Multi-Love
  • Released: 26 May 2015
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • Format: CD, LP, cassette, download
14 45 70 158 37 44 98 7 12
Sex & Food
  • Released: 6 April 2018
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • Format: CD, LP, cassette, download
9 76 63 98 56 188 12 35
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Extended plays[edit]

Singles[edit]

List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released as single and album name
Title Year Peak chart
positions
Album
NZ
Arist
Heat.

[35]
BEL
(Fla.)
Tip

[30]
MEX
Air.

[36]
"Ffunny Ffrends" 2010 31 Unknown Mortal Orchestra
"Thought Ballune" 49
"How Can You Luv Me" 2011
"So Good at Being in Trouble" 2013 II
"Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)" 48
"From the Sun"
"Multi-Love" 2015 25 44 Multi-Love
"Can't Keep Checking My Phone" 84
"First World Problem" 2016 44 Non-album single
"Shakedown Street"
"American Guilt" 2018 1 34 Sex & Food
"Not in Love We're Just High"[37] 5
"Hunnybee" 36
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other charted songs[edit]

List of songs, with selected chart positions, showing year released as single and album name
Title Year Peak chart
positions
Album
NZ
Arist
Heat.

[35]
"Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays" 2018 4 Sex & Food
"A God Called Hubris" 1
"Ministry of Alienation" 2
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Announces 'Sex & Food' With A Fuzzy Rager". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-04-05. 
  2. ^ "Ffunny Ffrends by Unknown Mortal Orchestra". Bandcamp. 17 May 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  3. ^ Ryan, Catbird (18 May 2010). "Unknown Mortal Orchestra – "Ffunny Ffrends"". MBVMusic.Com. The Catbirdseat. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  4. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (18 May 2010). ""Ffunny Ffrends"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "Who Is Unknown Mortal Orchestra?". The Corner. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  6. ^ Hyman, Dan (4 December 2012). Listen Up: Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Elle. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  7. ^ Cohen, Ian, (22 June 2011). Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Pitchfork. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  8. ^ "UMO Wins Tate Music Prize". stuff.co.nz. 20 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Young, Alex (28 November 2012). Unknown Mortal Orchestra announces 2013 tour dates. Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II | Reviews | Clash Magazine". Clashmusic.com. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Watch Unknown Mortal Orchestra Play Fallon". Stereogum. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "NME Album Reviews – Unknown Mortal Orchestra – 'II'". NME. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Plot Tour". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "30 Must-See Acts at SXSW 2013 - Photos - South by Southwest - Festivals - Fuse". Fuse.tv. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 
  15. ^ "ALBUM ANNOUNCE // Unknown Mortal Orchestra Announces Acoustic 'Blue Record' EP, Out 10/29 Blog :: JAGJAUWAR". Jagjaguwar. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  16. ^ ""Multi-Love" by Unknown Mortal Orchestra Review - Pitchfork". 
  17. ^ Suzy Exposito (24 July 2015). "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Multi-Love Album Review". Rolling Stone. 
  18. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra: Multi-Love Album Review – Pitchfork". 
  19. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra". BBC. 
  20. ^ "Watch Unknown Mortal Orchestra Bring 'Multi-Love' to 'Late Night' - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 
  21. ^ "FIFA 16 Soundtrack". 
  22. ^ "Reflektor - Unknown Mortal Orchestra kick off the springtime..." Reflektor. Retrieved 2018-06-09. 
  23. ^ "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Wins Taite Music Prize - Amplifier NZ Music". 
  24. ^ a b "Unknown Mortal Orchestra Wins Taite Music Prize - Amplifier NZ Music". 
  25. ^ "'Nielson Brothers Awarded 2015 APRA Silver Scroll'". Under the Radar. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  26. ^ a b "Broods clean up at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards". The New Zealand Herald. 
  27. ^ "Best Kiwi albums of 2015 announced". The New Zealand Herald. 
  28. ^ "charts.org.nz – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  29. ^ Peaks in Australia:
  30. ^ a b "ultratop.be – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  31. ^ "ultratop.be – Unknown Mortal Orchestra albums". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 7 June 2015. 
  32. ^ "Discografie Unknown Mortal Orchestra". dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  33. ^ "Chart Log UK 2013 - Zobbel". zobbel.de. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  34. ^ a b c d "Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 13 April 2018. 
  35. ^ a b Peak positions for Unknown Mortal Orchestra's singles on the NZ Artist Heatseekers singles chart:
  36. ^ "Mexico Ingles Airplay". Billboard.biz. 
  37. ^ Fu, Eddie (28 February 2018). "UMO share new song "Not in Love We're Just High": Stream". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2 March 2018. 

External links[edit]