Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Baby, I Grew You A Beard
CONTEST – Neil Halstead @ The Drake Underground – November 8, 2008
MySpaceThe arc of Neil Halstead’s long and storied musical career taken him many places. He was both an architect of sonic cathedrals at the dawn of Slowdive’s career and a pioneer of electronic ambiance at its end, then with Mojave 3 he played the roles of country-rock and power-pop songsmith with equal facility. With his first solo album Sleeping On Roads in 2002, he took the soft-spoken folk balladeer that’s lain at the heart of his songwriting throughout it all and brought it to the fore, a place he revisits once again with the long-awaited and long-delayed follow-up, Oh! Mighty Engine.
And even though six years have elapsed between records, Halstead picks up largely where he left off. The spectre of a failed relationship that hung overhead during the making of Roads isn’t present here, which perhaps explains why the new record is brighter in tone than its predecessor. Even so, Engine is still spare and homespun, built in rich melody on a sturdy framework built of voice and acoustic guitar with gentle percussion, piano and electric or steel guitar accouterments where appropriate. It’s a format that suits Halstead well, as for all the soundscapes that he’s surrounded himself with over the years, he’s always been at his best when conveying a quiet, thoughtful intimacy. And for showcasing his strengths as a singer-songwriter, Engine is Halstead at his best.
As solid and enjoyable as Halstead’s solo output is, it’s not a substitute for the chemistry and magic that is Mojave 3. So it’s good to know that even with drummer Ian McCutcheon busy with his solo project The Loose Salute and Rachel Goswell continuing to recover from the ear-related illness that kept her from playing a larger role on Puzzles Like You, in this interview with AgitReader Halstead says that he hopes to begin work on a new Mojave 3 record before the year is out.
Halstead is currently on tour across North America – finally Jack Johnson-free – and will be at the Drake Underground on Saturday night, November 8, for an early show (9:30 start). Anyone who saw him play at the Rivoli back in 2002 in support of Roads surely remembers how utterly magical that performance was and if this show even comes close to measuring up to that one, it’s going to be a special one indeed. Courtesy of Against The Grain, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away to the show – to enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Neil Halstead” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Contest closes at midnight, November 6.
I wouldn’t normally bother noting anything that Norman Cook of Fatboy Slim gets up to, but when the second single from his new project The Brighton Port Authority features Emmy The Great front and centre, you have my attention. You can stream it at their MySpace or better yet, watch the video. Via Stereogum.
Scottish quartet Glasvegas, first considered in these pages last December, will begin their attempt to conquer North America the way they have the UK with the release of their self-titled debut on January 6. I picked up a copy on import a little while back, thoughts forthcoming. They’ll also be doing some touring over here in the new year, but no Toronto date as yet. They’ve also recorded a Christmas EP, which they talk to The Daily Record about.
Anyone see Wilco on The Colbert Report last week? I didn’t. Thankfully it’s viewable online in Canada on CTV and in the US at Comedy Central. Or you can just watch the clip of the new song they played.
Speaking of election day, Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers has made available for free a new song written just after Bush II was re-elected. Hood has never been one to shy away from political statements, wearing his opinions on his sleeve… or his guitar.
Couple shows announced for the new year… on the same day. First you’ve got Annuals at the El Mocambo on January 24, tickets $10.
And down Spadina at the Horseshoe, you’ve got buzzy band du jour, Passion Pit – tickets for that one are also $10.