Tuesday, July 17th, 2007
We Put A Pearl Into The Ground
Anyone who saw St Vincent, aka Annie Clark, open up for fellow Texans Midlake back in February saw a young woman of immense musical talent as a guitarist, songwriter and performer, albeit put together in an unconventional and intriguing package. Performing solo with just a guitar, a couple of microphones and a wooden block at her feet for percussion (Stompin’ Tom-style) she was equally dazzling and fearsome with a tightly-wound tension running through her songs that would strike out when you’d least expect it and leave a mark or two.
With that in mind, her debut album Marry Me wasn’t what I was expecting. It starts out with the idiosyncrasies that the live show showcased, “Now Now” all layered, choral vocals and ringing, pitch-bent guitar harmonics devolving into frantic guitar skronk, but as the record progresses, it becomes straighter, simpler and positively pretty. With a few exceptions, Clark’s formidable guitar chops are downplayed with the focus instead falling on her vocals and its facility with jazz and cabaret stylings. I think that having already seen her eccentric side live, I was surprised not only that she’d written songs so classic in style but that she was so good at it – some of the songs sound like standards performed in countless smoky lounges rather than originals written by a 24-year old.
Just as she impressed five months ago, St Vincent has done so again with this record yet on a completely different level. But a warning to those who’ve only heard the record and are planning on seeing her at The Horseshoe this coming Friday night (July 20) or any of her forthcoming tour dates – she might sound all sweet on the album but live, this one’s more than ready and willing to make some noise, maybe do some damage. Keep an eye out.
Clark talks to The Dallas Observer and Paste about getting started in songwriting at the age of 5, Express about paying tribute to Iron Maiden in junior high and to The AV Club about playing whirlyball on tour with Arcade Fire. And she also blogs.
Reveille, a new webmag making its debut this week, talks to Wheat’s Scott Levesque about their new album Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square which, while it’s no Hope & Adams or even Medeiros, is far better than Metacritic would imply.
SubPop has made a couple of MP3s from forthcoming albums available – Iron & Wine release The Shepherd’s Dog on September 25 and The Brunettes’ debut for the label – Structure & Cosmetics – is out August 7.
NME talks to Rilo Kiley about bringing sexy back with their new record Under The Blacklight, out August 21. I don’t know if I’d want to see the set of the first video from the record for “The Moneymaker” under a black light…
Perhaps to make up for delaying the release of Neptune City from next week till who knows when, Nicole Atkins has updated her MySpace page with three new songs from the record showcasing her more pop/rock side. If the gesture is meant to make me less anxious to hear the whole album, IT’S NOT WORKING.
Pitchfork recommends some 2007 releases that may have undeservedly slipped under your radar. Yes on Lucky Soul, who are now selling The Great Unwanted off their website for a reasonable 8 quid (plus 3 for shipping to North America). For my part, I may need one of those “Ain’t Never Been Cool” t-shirts. To wear ironically, of course.
American Music Club have lost some members – bassist Danny Pearce and drummer Tim Mooney left the band last month due to geographic issues. The band, with new rhythm section, is working on a new album tentatively titled MacArthur Park with an eye towards a release in early 2008.
NME has the finalists for this year’s Mercury Music Prize. My money is on… actually, I don’t think I’ve heard any of these records.
The Baltimore Sun looks at both the blogosphere’s backlash against Voxtrot and Voxtrot’s backlash against the blogosphere. Chart, meanwhile, gets Ramesh Srivastava to hold their debut album up to the same benchmark that all the fans and critics have – their EPs. Such drama. The band are at the Mod Club on October 9.
More Autumn show news – Land Of Talk will share the bill with Cloud Cult at the El Mocambo on September 4, Liars have what’s almost certainly an undersized show at the Horseshoe on September 21 and Malajube return to town for a show at Lee’s Palace on November 3.