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Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

Hunting For Witches

Maybe it’s because I was only a casual fan of Silent Alarm that I have been so won over by A Weekend In The City whereas many Bloc Party fans seem to be disappointed by the band’s sophomore effort. And I can understand it – if you loved the first record and its tense, razor-wire attack then the new one could easily seem overwrought and overdone. But from my point of view, it’s denser, richer and less in-your-face – part of my problem with Silent Alarm was how exhausting a listen it was.

Kele Okereke’s vocals draw from a broader emotional palette than the strangled bark he favoured the first time around and similarly, the music has found a method of attack besides “stab” and as such is also far less obvious in its musical touchstones. True, the singles don’t necessarily stack up to those from the debut but as an album, I feel it’s a stronger collection. It reminds me in a way of Suede’s Dog Man Star – far grander in ambition than its predecessor and reviled by some for it, but as history would show, its grasp equaling its reach more often than not. And grandiosity and romanticism are what I want from British rock. That and ripping guitar solos.

I’ve already listened to A Weekend In The City in the past month and a bit far more often than I did to Silent Alarm in the past couple years and am enjoying it more and more with each listen (though I’ve also gained a deeper appreciation for that record in the last little while as well). And though devoted fans probably already have them all, there’ve been a rather absurd number of bonus tracks and b-sides accompanying the new record depending on where and in what format it’s been purchased. Some more diligent blogs have done a good job of rounding them all up and I have to say, a lot of the excised tracks are as good or better than those that made the album. Worth seeking out or better yet, petitioning the band to release a b-sides collection.

Paste talks to Okereke and bassist Gordon Moakes about the new record while Harp asks a few questions of the band’s frontman while The San Francisco Chronicle offers up a rather disastrous Q&A. Okereke also recently spoke out about his embarrassment with his US label’s print incarnation.

Bloc Party play a sold-out show at the Kool Haus in Toronto on March 25. I’m hoping to catch them at SxSW but their midnight slot on Thursday conflicts with a lot of other good stuff and I’m a bit concerned about whether or not I’ll get in (though apparently Stubb’s is ginormous and that won’t likely be an issue). I guess we’ll just wait and see if it happens or not.

Video: Bloc Party – “The Prayer” (YouTube)
Video: Bloc Party – “I Still Remember” (YouTube)
MySpace: Bloc Party

Billboard talks to Jarvis Cocker about the making of his solo record Jarvis which will get a proper North American release on April 3. AmpCamp is offering up an MP3 of one of the darker and more biting tracks on the record.

MP3: Jarvis Cocker – “Fat Children”

Drowned In Sound talks to Forget Cassettes, who’ve gone from a trio to a four-piece to a duo in the time since I wrote this. Whew.

Salon’s Audiofile has an exclusive new download from the new Ted Leo record Living With The Living, out March 20. This is in addition to the other two tracks currently circulating – and if you think from the three of them that the new one’s a scorcher, you’d be right. And there’s also a stream available of a song that’ll appear on the bonus CD that will accompany early pressings of the album, in case you needed more convincing. Ted’s at the Mod Club on May 2.

MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Bomb Repeat Bomb (1954)”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “The Sons Of Cain”
Stream: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – “Old Souls Know” (Flash)

Spinner’s Interface has a session with Peter Bjorn & John, who’ll be in town at the Phoenix on May 6. I saw that Brooklyn synth-poppers Au Revoir Simone will be supporting, just one month before they’re back again on June 8 with Voxtrot at Sneaky Dee’s. The aforementioned Vice recently asked the band some typically classy questions while The Guardian says they have David Lynch’s seal of approval.

Weren’t Bright Eyes just here? Well yes they were but they’re coming back – this time on May 22 for a show at Massey Hall. So stop – or start – your crying, as the case may be. Full tour dates at Pitchfork. Their new one Cassadaga is out April 10.

MP3: Bright Eyes – “Four Winds”
Video: Bright Eyes – “Four Winds” (YouTube)

Lavender Diamond will be at Lee’s Palace on May 30 in support of her Matador debut Imagine Our Love, out May 8. I Like Music talks to frontwoman Becky Stark.

Stream: Lavender Diamond – “Open Your Heart” (QT)
MP3: Lavender Diamond – “You Broke My Heart”

AOL Canada has an expansive feature on Arcade Fire while The National Post wonders if Meat Loaf isn’t getting shortchanged as one of the band’s influences.

By : Frank Yang at 8:11 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Alan says:

    a minor thing – your national post link goes to page two of the arcade fire / meat loaf article.

    haven’t commented for a while but still reading every day. thanks for the good writes, frank.

  2. Frank says:

    fixed, thanks for catching that.

  3. Dan says:

    so funny you mention Suede. Thought I was the only person to have their 1st album.

  4. Roland says:

    I’ve got a friend from the UK who says "Weekend" is a quintessentially British album, and I definitely see a point there. I guess I am still more of a "Silent Alarm" lover, but I could really see this record growing on me. In any case, I can’t *wait* to see them live in a few weeks; definitely try to catch them at SXSW!

    And, as always, thanks for all the multimedia and article goodness.

  5. Thierry says:

    I don’t have the new album just yet, but having seen them play to more than 10,000 people at last year’s Olympic Island show, I can say that Bloc Party are one of those bands that you must see live – the studio just doesn’t do justice to their power as live performers.

    On a different note, I can’t stop hearing Meatloaf in the Arcade Fire now. Thanks a lot!

  6. Jack says:

    I agree with Roland, Weekend In The City is a grower. I think the guitar players must have been huge Radiohead fans circa The Bends.

  7. Matt says:

    That SF Chronicle is a complete nightmare. The questions were stupid and uninformed. "What’s your favorite drug"? Nice.