Wednesday, November 26th, 2008
Kiss With A Fist
An Introduction To Florence & The Machine
Tom BeardThe first time I heard of London’s Florence & The Machine was this past March at SxSW, when Rob from Donewaiting.com wandered over just before Emmy the Great’s showcase and said something to the effect of, “I just saw the greatest show ever. Florence & The Machine jumped into a fountain in the middle of her set, pulled someone in after her, climbed back out, got back onstage and kept playing”. I’m paraphrasing and thought he was exaggerating, but after seeing the video footage, I saw not.
And it’s fitting that I first heard of Florence (surname Welch) while seeing Emmy, because both are artists who’ve made an impression this year without benefit of a proper album. But while Emmy recordings, live and studio, have been relatively plentiful, the Florence & The Hype Machine pickings have been slimmer – basically just a handful of live tracks and covers to go along with her two officially-released singles thus far, “Kiss With A Fist” back in June and “Dog Days Are Over”, out next Tuesday.
But even based on just that limited sample, a couple things are obvious – one, she’s got some serious talent and two, she’s seriously batshit crazy. To the former point, her voice has both weight and power, equal parts aggressive and plaintive and capable of handling styles ranging from folk to theatre, blues to rock, whatever. To the latter point, most everything about her comes across as eccentric at least, and not just for her spontaneous fountain-jumping ways. Her songwriting showcases a girl who could generously (but affectionately) be described as “loopy”, a trait backed up by her videos. “Kiss” is a raw kitchen-sink stomp with gleefully violent lyrics that sound like they’ve come from the diary of a girl you should be afraid to meet (and yet still do) while “Dog Days” is a strummy, Summer-y bit of folk that builds into a technicolour soul-pop explosion. With those as reference points, there’s really no way to judge what her debut album will bring when its released in May 2009 of next year, but you can be damn sure it’ll be interesting.
The Guardian has an extensive profile on Florence.
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Postcards From Italy” (Beirut cover)
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Girl With 1 Eye” (Live at London Calling)
MP3: Florence & The Machine – “Hospital Beds” (Cold War Kids Cover, live)
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Kiss With A Fist”
Video: Florence & The Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”
NME reports that Blur – including Graham – will be getting together in the new year to rehearse and, as Damon Albarn puts it, “see if we’re into it”. Can you say “Coachella”? No? How about, “bagloads of money”? I knew you could.
Frightened Rabbit are keeping a tour diary for Drowned In Sound. They’ve also gone to the trouble of making a video for their contribution to the second Guilt By Association covers compilation due out on February 17, a cover of ’90s UK dance outfit N-Trance.
Yeah they were just here, and they were just here before that, but M83 are coming back again – this time on January 23 at the Air Canada Centre, opening for The Killers. Yeah. The sound you hear are hordes of M83 fans not rushing to get tickets. There’s also a new remix of M83’s “We Own The Sky” by Maps available to download.
Video: Portishead – “Magic Doors”