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Friday, April 13th, 2007

Spring And By Summer Fall

I’d never listened to Blonde Redhead before very recently – can’t say why, just didn’t – but their new record 23 has been a revelation. The title track and first single had me hooked from the first bars – with its MBV-esque glide guitar and Kazu Makino’s dreamy, plaintive vocals, it was a sublime piece of dream-pop that I wasn’t surprised in to least to learn was mixed by shoegaze producer extraordinaire Alan Moulder.

The rest of the record follows closely in the same vein, though it never quite reaches the same lofty heights as the opening song. The music has a faint but consistent mechanical clang to it but remains fundamentally organic and utterly melodic throughout and is complimented by the vocals, which whether it’s Kazu or Amedeo Pace singing, create a vibe that’s foreboding yet inviting at the same time. One of most aurally compelling and engrossing records I’ve heard in ages, its dense and swirling textures are full of secrets and surprises, like the Beatle-esque orchestral breakdown in “Spring And By Summer Fall” – I didn’t see that coming at all and yet it fits perfectly. One of those rare records that impresses immediately and yet is enigmatic enough to be able to reveal a little bit more of itself with each listen.

Everything I’ve been reading about this record references their last record, Misery Is A Butterfly as the watershed album in their career thus far (though the reviews for the new one are tough to beat). Is it safe to say that if I’m liking 23, which obviously I am, then Misery is the next logical acquisition? I’m wary of going too far back into their back catalog as I understand it gets noisier and more discordant the earlier you get and that sort of runs contrary to everything I like about them in the here and now. But recommendations are always welcome. Blonde Redhead are in town May 11 for a show at the Opera House. Normally I’d plan to hit that up, but I kind of think that I should probably be doing something else – anything else – for my 32nd birthday. And I already saw them play a disappointingly truncated set at SxSW last month. Check out the comments on that post – things get nasty in all sorts of directions. Pretty entertaining.

MP3: Blonde Redhead – “23”
Video: Blonde Redhead – “23” (YouTube)
Stream: Blonde Redhead / 23
MySpace: Blonde Redhead

Chart reports on the second album from Eisley, still untitled but due out on July 10.

The AV Club discusses Drums And Guns, mental health and cake with Low. The Chicago Sun-Times also talks to the band. They’re in town opening for Wilco at Massey Hall on June 30 – regular ticket sales begin today at noon via Ticketmaster.

Some show announcements – The Faint will be at the Opera House on May 23, tickets $18.50, and The Broken West will be opening up for Fountains Of Wayne at Lee’s Palace June 10. Hope they bring extra guitar strings this time.

Hey, new MP3 and video from The Shins. James Mercer talks to Sign On San Diego about the same old same old.

MP3: The Shins – “Australia”
Video: The Shins – “Australia” (YouTube)

Hey, new Feist video. More MGM-style dance numbers! I love it. No really, I do. The Times talks to Feist about her road from growing up in Nova Scotia and Calgary to The Reminder, out May 1, and her two shows at Massey Hall on May 25 and 26.

Video: Feist – “1234” (Flash)

Know what it took to get me officially excited about the Iron Man movie? Not the excellent casting of Robert Downey Jr and Terrance Howard, but this first look at how they’re rendering the original Iron Man armour in the film. That looks badass – can’t wait to see how the modern armour looks.

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. Jen Star says:

    Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons is the other great Blonde Redhead album. Everything before that is not nearly as good.

  2. Chryde says:

    Talking about the Shins, a Take Away show wuth them, a great one, will be on air on mondey !

  3. Christine says:

    I personally started with Misery is a Butterfly and worked backwards through their discography. However, I wouldn’t count the third (Fake Can Be Just As Good) and fourth (In An Expression of the Inexpressible) albums out because they both really pave the way for the sound of Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons.

  4. Calum says:

    You need to listen to Melody Of Certain Damaged Lemons. On vinyl.

  5. marc says:

    silly Spinner, won’t work for me… I liked the Blonde Redhead MP3 but I can’t get Media Player to play nice with IE7 or Firefox… stupid Microsoft

  6. oliver says:

    I agree with Christine (though I started with Fake…), Fake and Expression are well worth the time (i’d even take it back to the debut). but Fake and Expression have terrific moments. Sure, they’re noisy and rough but these are clever folks with terrific ears so there’s always great melodic elements incorporated. Best of all for me, I can still go back and listen to them after listening to the new album without any older album sounding stale and dated.

    but i agree, the title track is a high water mark that is only approached by the rest of 23.

  7. Karl says:

    Gwyneth didn’t det you excited about Iron Man? (Just kidding.) Downey got me interested, but that armor is looking good. I’ll be interested to see what they do with (or how they do away with) the Vietnam angle.

  8. darren says:

    You can’t go wrong with Misery or Melody … both great albums.

  9. Jorge says:

    Misery is one of the best albums this decade….seriously. Can’t wait to see them live next month!

  10. Roland says:

    I totally agree; "23" is such a great song, and one hell of an introduction. Thanks for the Eisley link, although I’ve heard that the UK/Japan edition is getting two bonus tracks, while the North American version only has ten. Anyhow, can’t wait for that one.

  11. pgwp says:

    Blonde Redhead have been on one of the most linear artistic trajectories I’ve seen in a long time. Each album gets successively artier/more abstract. I like all of their albums for different reasons (except the first album, not so great). My advice to you would be to literally go in reverse chronological order. When it starts to get too rockin’, too noisy, or too straightforward, stop.

  12. Saturna says:

    Can’t wait to check it out. Anything produced by Alan Moulder is great in my book.

  13. BR Fan says:

    I’m usually not the one to make comments, but I feel strangely compelled to write in response to today’s post, when you shed light on a band that I hold very close to my heart.

    “Misery” was the first album I listened to and it is by far their most romantic album, filled with lush string arrangements and painfully beautiful melodies on synthesizers and guitars. And you’re right about it being the bridge album to their previous records that contain increasingly more complex drumming rhythms, dissonant guitars, occasional yelling by Kazu – all of which may seem noisy to the untrained ear but is no less brilliant than their current dream-pop counterparts. 23 is by far their “poppiest” record, yet the tunes are rich and as you said full of “secrets and surprises”. But be careful if you decide to venture backwards (which is recommended btw). I almost hated the “Damaged Lemons” album when I first listened to it after “Misery” but I was forever changed after I saw them live and as the others say, it is definitely one of their better albums as well (All Music also has it as an album pick). Don’t let the SXSW performance being any indication of what they’re capable of. They are truly mesmerizing live, both to the ears and the eyes. I can’t think of a better way to spend a birthday. Check out some clips on Youtube for some footage…but this is a concert not to be missed.

    You said it best: “One of those rare records that impresses immediately and yet is enigmatic enough to be able to reveal a little bit more of itself with each listen.”
    That can be said for all of their albums…each one unique in their own right, yet held by some delicate thread ready to unravel at any moment.

    Thanks for sharing Blonde Redhead with the world, or in the very least, Toronto. Keep up the good work.

    Sincerely,
    A person who recommended Blonde Redhead to you some time ago

  14. the ess dog says:

    Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons is far and away their best album. Misery is a Butterfly and 23 both suffer from a certain kind of over-production; every track is so dressed up that the overall effect is flat and numbing. ymm, and obviously does, v. The songs on Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons have a sense of space that draws me in whereas the latter two verge on claustrophobia.

    their earlier albums sound like pop sonic youth, good, but not great. fake can be just as good is my favorite of those.

  15. Stephen says:

    <i>Blonde Redhead have been on one of the most linear artistic trajectories I’ve seen in a long time. Each album gets successively artier/more abstract. I like all of their albums for different reasons (except the first album, not so great). My advice to you would be to literally go in reverse chronological order. When it starts to get too rockin’, too noisy, or too straightforward, stop.</i>

    This is the best advice here. If you’re enjoying 23, then I’d say you’ll also enjoy Misery Is a Butterfly and Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, the latter of which was a huge leap in their sound. Prior to Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, which is definitely their best record, the albums (all four of them) get progressively more noisy/art-rocky as you’ll go chronologically back. Not that that’s a bad thing — it’s a Sonic Youth sort of noise. A great career they’ve had.

  16. Lisa V. says:

    I’m a big fan of La Mia Vita Violenta. It’s really raw, and it really sounds like a first effort, but damn it’s good. Mentionable tracks are probably I Still Get My Rocks Off and Down Under (tracks 1 and 6). I’ve seen them many times in London, Toronto, Detroit and have to say that it’s definitely an oddity that you had such an experience. They put on a fantastic live show. Give ’em another shot!

  17. solace says:

    even though it’s a broken record by now, i’ll agree with those who said Melody is easily their best record.

    this new one is pretty good, and at least better than the last one, but still doesn’t blow me away.