Thursday, September 11th, 2008
Out Of Our Hands
Photo via Second Motion
On the Dublin leg of my jaunt to the British Isles back in May, I had a short list of things to do. One, have a pint at the Guinness Storehouse – check. Two, pick up a copy of The Hollow Of Morning, the third album from Irish singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes, which was conveniently released the week before I arrived.
Hayes’ debut Night On My Side demonstrated her equal facility for gently acoustic folkish fare and densely electrified rockers, both perfectly framing her delicate and emotive vocals. It established her as a rising young talent and garnered a place on the Mercury Prize shortlist in 2002. The follow-up, 2005’s The Roads Don’t Love You, clearly showed her label’s intention to package her as a much more standard singer-songwriter and while it had its high points, was overly sanitized and subsequently didn’t yield the desired results and she was dropped shortly thereafter. After taking some time to regroup, she slowly began work on album number three and the finished product is a much simpler affair, sonically speaking. Drier in production and with a much more intimate atmosphere, it also feels more relaxed and natural than its predecessor – obviously benefitting from the absence of pressure to turn out a radio hit. And while it dwells mostly on the acoustic side of things, there is one moment of glorious sonic oblivion in “Out Of Our Hands”, with a guitar sound that could only come from one man – Kevin Shields.
Shields has long been cited as one of Hayes’ musical idols and the two have collaborated on recordings that have yet to see the light of day and it’s this relationship that got Gemma Hayes on the bill for the My Bloody Valentine-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in New York State in a couple weeks. And that single appearance has slowly been expanded to a tour, including a show here in Toronto at Supermarket on September 26. I’ve seen Hayes once live at SxSW in 2006 and though it was just a brief acoustic day set, it was still as good as I’d hoped. I don’t know if this will be a similarly unplugged show or if there’s a band along for the ride, but consider this – MBV are in town the night before at Ricoh Coliseum and Shields has joined her on stage before. With that night being an off day before their Chicago show, If he’s still in town… you know where I’m going with this, do you not? And even if he doesn’t show, the fact that she’s finally coming to town after some five years of waiting – it’s good news. Yes.
Also good news is that to get a copy of her new album, you don’t need to fly to Dublin. It’s getting a North American release on September 30 courtesy of Second Motion Records and to whet your appetite, the aforementioned Kevin Shields-enhanced track “Out Of Our Hands” is available as a free download over at RCRDLBL. Get it and I’ll see you at Supermarket. There’s also older live video and audio at fan site Making Waves and some AV from her first two albums below as well a video of her performing with Shields.
MP3: Gemma Hayes – “Happy Sad”
Video: Gemma Hayes – “Back Of My Hand”
Video: Gemma Hayes – “Hanging Around”
Video: Gemma Hayes – “Let A Good Thing Go”
Video: Gemma Hayes – “Happy Sad”
Video: Gemma Hayes with Kevin Shields – “Whiskey Girl” (live)
MySpace: Gemma Hayes
Congratulations go out to Elbow on winning the Nationwide Mercury Prize for The Seldom Seen Kid, a record that I’ve learned to almost love. Before Tuesday night’s awards ceremony, Guy Garvey told The Sunday Mail what he might do if they won, and after the ceremony, he wrote a piece for The Guardian about the experience of taking the big prize. They also tell NME that they forgot to thank collaborator Richard Hawley, himself a former Mercury nominee, for his work on the record.
Mercury losers Radiohead told Teletext Planet they’re absolutely thrilled for Elbow’s win and Gigwise they’d have been embarrassed to win. I’m sure the fact that they can probably make the £20,000 purse with just a couple tour dates helps ease the sting a bit. NPR is streaming the band’s tour-closing show in Santa Barbara from a couple weeks ago.
Pitchfork reports that Frightened Rabbit will be releasing an acoustic live album entitled Liver! Lung! FR! to coincide with their upcoming Fall tour. It’s out October 21 and presumably they’ll copies on hand that night when they’re in Toronto to play Lee’s Palace. NPR is currently offering an interview and session to stream. Update: Pitchfork now also has a track from the live record available to download.
Chart and The Calgary Herald talk to Bloc Party’s Kele Okerke about their sneak attack new album Intimacy, which is apparently still a work in progress. As NME reports, the next single from the band doesn’t actually appear on the digital version of the album that they started selling last month though I’m pleased to mention that I got an email last night that gave me, as someone who’d already purchased the album, a download of the new single for freesies. The new tune, “Talons”, is streaming on the band’s MySpace and they’ve also got a video together for it.
Video: Bloc Party – “Talons”
Goths rejoice – just in time for Hallowe’en, Sisters Of Mercy will be in town for a show at the Phoenix on October 28. Mascara not mandatory, but recommended.
The Duke Spirit will finally make up for those cancelled CMW gigs on October 29 with a show at the Phoenix. They’re touring alongside System Of A Down side-project Scars On Broadway, about whom I know nothing but I presume they’re big enough to justify a show at the Phoenix because the Duke Spirit certainly aren’t…
Kaiser Chiefs are coming back to town. Their new album Off With Their Heads is out October 13 and they’ll be at the Mod Club on November 18. Frontman Ricky Wilson tells Showbiz Spy that he’s a fan of the Mercury Awards, of which his band has lost one so far.
And to wrap up the running Mercury Prize meme in today’s post, This Is Fake DIY has compiled a list of their top five Mercury Prize snubs and The Manchester Evening News lists off their five Mercury high and low points over the years.