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Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

We Are The Pipettes

In advance of Sunday night’s Pipettes show at Lee’s Palace, I was told that missing the opening set from Monster Bobby – the solo project of Robert Barry of Pipettes backing band The Cassettes – would be no great tragedy. In fact, I was advised to miss his set. Now I had every intention of catching his set regardless, but as it turns out my DSLR camera wasn’t allowed in the venue and I had to bring it home and swap it for my trusty old (operative word: old) point-and-shoot. I guess it simply wasn’t meant to be.

But catching Nicole Atkins & The Sea was – they were just starting their set when I got back to the club and I realize that I crossed the line between impartial faux-critic and gushing fanboy some shows ago but I speak truth when I say that every time I see her and her band, they’re better than the last time. Which is paradoxical since each time I see them, I can’t imagine them playing better than just did. But they do and they did and from the sounds of the audience, they not only won over a slew of new fans but brought some of their own out – maybe there’s something to be said for playing the same city three times in five months? This time, the highlight of the show was their absolutely incendiery closing cover of Patti Smith’s “Pissing In A River”. Check out the video of Nicole performing it at a tribute show in Copenhagen down below, then turn the intensity up tenfold (nb – I have no scientific method of measuring musical intensity, this is an estimate). Amazing. She’ll be back once again in February for a headlining tour (finally), and I know that’s a little ways off to make plans but don’t worry – I’ll remind you. Incessantly.

While I’d seen Atkins countless times this year (okay, five), I’d managed to miss The Pipettes something like a dozen times since March. Every one of their shows at SxSW, which I think was nine or ten, and both their previous Toronto dates. I’d have missed this one as well if it hadn’t been postponed from early October due to visa issues. I wouldn’t say I’m a Pipettes fan – I’ve heard the album once via the stream on their website – but I was curious. Was the buzz that surrounded them back in March still potent? Did their act work live? Would they be able to transcend the gimmickiness of their admittedly contrived origins? I’ll admit it, I was prepared to come out of the show and dismiss them on any of the above grounds but… I couldn’t.

Even though the downgrading of their venue from the Opera House to the cozier Lee’s might have spoken to a stall in the growth of their fanbase, those who did show up were highly enthusiastic and certainly hadn’t abandoned them once they were no longer the band du jour. And in performance, it was obvious that they didn’t take themselves or the Pipettes act too seriously and were just having a good time with it, turning out some really sharp pop songs and surprisingly strong singing. Why was I surprised? I don’t know, really. I guess that in a time when things that are meant to appear genuine are really meticulously manufactured, I don’t expect that something that appears meticulously manufactured would actually turn out to be quite genuine. Makes my head explode just a little. I still don’t feel the compulsion to pick up the album – after their 60 minute set I felt I had more than enough sugar in my musical diet to last a while – but I did indeed have a bit of a buzz on the way home.

Billboard profiles Nicole Atkins, Spinner talks to RiotBecki of The Pipettes about their costumes.

Photos: The Pipettes, Nicole Atkins & The Sea @ Lee’s Palace – November 18, 2007
MP3: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “Party’s Over”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Bleeding Diamonds”
MP3: Nicole Atkins – “Carouselle”
Video: The Pipettes – “Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me” (YouTube)
Video: The Pipettes – “Pull Shapes” (YouTube)
Video: The Pipettes – “ABC” (YouTube)
Video: The Pipettes – “Judy” (YouTube)
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Pissing In A River” (live in Copenhagen)
Video: Nicole Atkins & The Sea – “The Way It Is” (MySpace)
Video: Nicole Atkins – “Neptune City” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Pipettes
MySpace: Nicole Atkins

And moving to the UK’s other – and still, in my mind, superior – throwback Motown/girl-group pop act, Lucky Soul, the band is Last FM’s candidate to take a run at the much-coveted top spot of the UK’s pop charts for the week of Christmas. Scenta reports on what the campaign is and what it hopes to accomplish, but basically Last FM is trying to throw the full weight of their 20,000,000 members behind the band and get their single release of “Lips Are Unhappy” to #1 for the week of December 25. They’re asking fans the band and enemies of bad music to pre-order the single, which will be b-sided by a cover of “Lonely This Christmas” by Mud, for a mere 40p. That comes out to 85 cents US by today’s exchange rates. The single itself will be available to download on December 17. Check out the video for the song below, as well as their recent performance on the rooftop of Last FM’s offices. And if you don’t know who Lucky Soul are… read this and this.

Video: Lucky Soul – “Lips Are Unhappy” (YouTube)
Video: Lucky Soul – “Ain’t Never Been Cool” live from Last FM (YouTube)
Video: Lucky Soul – “Get Outta Town!” live from Last FM (YouTube)
Video: Lucky Soul – “Lips Are Unhappy” live from Last FM (YouTube)

Spinner is streaming Bloc Party’s new EP, Flux. Musicrooms.net reports that the band recently had to abandon a gig in the Netherlands after a couple began having sex in the balcony. Oh, those crazy Dutch.

Stream: Bloc Party / Flux

Filter talks Ouija with The Fiery Furnaces. They’re at the Phoenix Lee’s Palace on December 12.

St Vincent discusses the title and artwork for Marry Me with The Scotsman. And the music. They also talk about the music.

If P Then Dirt offers up some interviews with the likes of Dean & Britta and Mac McCaughan in their original handwritten, snail-mailed forms. I wouldn’t have expected Dean Wareham to have had tidier handwriting than Britta Phillips, but it doesn’t really surprise me that Mac’s is illegible.

Austinist talks to Tad Kubler of The Hold Steady.

MySpace Canada is giving away tickets to see Neil Young at Massey Hall next week and to win, you only need to dress up your profile in some sort of Neil-related theme. Might I suggest skipping the obvious Harvest tones and going for some Shocking Pinks or perhaps some re-ac-tor spartanism? You’ll have to take down the dancing hamster wallpaper you’ve currently got up but hey – sacrifices must be made.

Pitchfork delves into the dark recesses of Of Montreal-er Kevin Barnes’ mind. And via Stereogum, Barnes pre-emptively calls everyone else a sell-out. Even you.

Though it was as inevitable as the sun rising in the east, it’s now official that The Sadies will once again ring out 2007 and ring in 2008 and generally make your ears ring at the Horseshoe on New Year’s Eve, tickets $20.

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. graig says:

    Frank, not sure your interest level, but The Sadies jammed with Gord Downie on Fuse on CBC Radio this weekend. I have a digital recording if you’re interested…

  2. spencer says:

    Great blog, as usual. The Furnaces show was moved to Lee’s, actually… don’t know if you want to update that or not. Ciao!

  3. spencer also says:

    do you like them? are you going to this show??
    i want pictures afterwards is all… :)

  4. Frank says:

    spencer – no plans to go to this show, but thanks for the tip on the venue change.

  5. cp says:

    " in a time when things that are meant to appear genuine are really meticulously manufactured, I don’t expect that something that appears meticulously manufactured would actually turn out to be quite genuine"

    nice statement. I tend to do the same thing, because I really can’t stand artists with a gimmick.

    the nicole chick and the sea – pretty songs, I’d need to hear several in a row before to make a good judgement – either they could be awesome, or they found a formula and are sticking to it by gum

  6. carolyn says:

    (a bit late in coming but…) i didn’t think i’d ever say, "be nice" but give mr. barry a try some time. you might be pleasantly surprised. i sure as hell was.

    and a big thumbs down for nicole atkins’ set. i actually turned to bob and said, "she’s a little too talented" meaning simply that she relies far too much on her guitar rockin’ and not terribly much on song smithery (is that even an acceptable term?). typically that wouldn’t be a complaint, but i just couldn’t get into it. bland central station, my friend.

    but i digress. i was sorry to hear about your camera!