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Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I've Got Your Number

Reaching back to Elbow's Cast Of Thousands

Photo via elbow.co.ukelbow.co.ukMy relationship with Elbow has been circuitous to say the least. Their debut Asleep In The Back failed to engage and I didn’t give them another chance until 2005’s Leaders Of The Free World, a record liked well enough, but it wasn’t until last year’s The Seldom Seen Kid that they really finally clicked – partly thanks to them crafting a terrific album but also because of my finally being able to reconcile expectation with reality.

And so it’s kind of ironic that the one album of their four that I skipped in all this, 2004’s Cast Of Thousands, would turn out to maybe be my favourite of their catalog. I grabbed it off of eMusic a while back, probably just burning through some downloads, and it’s slowly but surely worked its way into my brain to the point where I got up one day, decided “I need to own this properly” and ordered up the CD. Then hearing it on a proper hi-fi system rather than just through headphones confirmed that this, indeed, was a stunning record. It has a leanness that isn’t there on the subsequent records – which isn’t to say they’re bloated, they’re just definitely “bigger”, sonically. And well as that approach serves them, Cast has a certain lithe grace and melodicism which I find irresistible, and wouldn’t have expected considering Guy Garvey’s considerable presence. And I might go so far as to say that “Switching Off” is the loveliest song in their repertoire.

All of which is apropos of nothing, save to say that if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering this record and at are all interested in Elbow or the grand tradition of melancholic British rock, then do yourself a favour and seek this out. A little more in the here and now, the band performed their Mercury Prize-winning album The Seldom Seen Kid alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra back in December in the legendary Abbey Road Studios and a recording of the show – both aurally on CD and visually on DVD – will be made available come March. Those interested in pre-ordering the package can sign up to be notified when orders will be taken. I’m a little wary about what the fanciness of the package will cause it to cost, but I’m definitely curious to hear the show.

Elbow will appear on the forthcoming War Child: Heroes compilation, out February 24, covering U2’s “Running To Stand Still”. They’re also setting out on a UK tour next month supported by none other than Ottawa’s The Acorn. I find that terribly exciting for The Acorn. I don’t much expect there to be any North American touring in the near future – a damn shame – but maybe this complete concert from last Summer in Amsterdam at FabChannel will help just a little.

And to wrap up, the videos from Cast Of Thousands.

Video: Elbow – “Ribcage”
Video: Elbow – “Fallen Angel”
Video: Elbow – “Fugitive Motel”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job”
Video: Elbow – “Not A Job” (other version)
Video: Elbow – “Grace Under Pressure”
Video: Elbow – “Switching Off”

Spinner’s Interface welcomes Glasvegas for a session. They play the Mod Club on April 3.

Magnet‘sWrens Watch” begins to yield some real dividends as they’ve got a new song, still untitled but recorded just last week, available to download. And I daresay that even in such a rough form, it sounds GREAT.

Crooked Fingers will be opening up for Neko Case on her upcoming Spring tour, including the two Toronto dates at Trinity-St Paul’s despite what ANTI-blog says (well their MySpace says so, anyways).

Blurt chats with Cut Off Your Hands about working with Bernard Butler on their debut album You And I.

Drowned In Sound interviews Of Montreal.

Denmark’s Efterklang are at the El Mocambo on April 1, tickets $10.

Asobi Seksu have released a video from their new album Hush and will play the El Mocambo on March 3.

Video: Asobi Seksu – “Me & Mary”

Paste catches up with Peter Bjorn & John, releasing Living Thing on March 31 and playing the Phoenix on April 25.

By : Frank Yang at 8:14 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post8 Responses.
  1. Greg says:

    Well said Frank

    Elbow are simply amazing and although I rate both their latest offering and the one previous highly I too adore Cast Of Thousands

  2. Brent says:

    Frank, I couldn’t agree more… Listening to Cast of Thousands makes me feel alive. Particularly the over-driven screams in “Snooks (Progress Report)”. Wow.
    I guess I might beg to differ with you about their loveliest song, though. I would humbly nominate “Great Expections” (from “Leaders of the Free World”), not only for its gorgeous melody but for its inventive and heartbreaking lyrics.
    Keep your powder dry!

  3. christian says:

    Cast Of Thousands is MAGIC. Easily their best.

  4. Evan says:

    I worked with these guys for 5 years and can’t say a bad thing about them, consummate pros and the nicest bunch of guys ever. They tried forever to break in the US but to no avail. They loved coming to Canada and I would expect to come here soon to support Seldom Seen Kid. The songs on Asleep In The Back take on new life live, made me appreciate the album even more.

  5. alan says:

    in related news, The Acorn will be opening for both Elbow and Fleet Foxes in the UK this winter…

    supporting FLEET FOXES

    02/23 London / Roundhouse
    02/25 Paris / La Cigale

    supporting ELBOW

    02/28 Brighton / Dome
    03/01 Southend / Cliffs Pavilion
    03/02 Bournemouth / Solent Hall
    03/03 Sheffield / Academy
    03/05 Newcastle / Academy
    03/06 Edinburgh / Corn Exchange
    03/07 Blackpool / Empress Ballroom
    03/09 Arena / Llandudno
    03/10 Bristol / Colston Hall
    03/11 Plymouth / Pavilions
    03/12 Newport / Centre
    03/13 London / The Windmill Brixton *
    03/14 London / Wembley Arena
    * not with elbow

  6. Dipp says:

    Glad you’re loving Cast of Thousands. That album became an obsession for me in the summer of 2004.

    If only they did that whole double-bill thing again with Doves…

  7. twobirdsonestonepr says:

    “Cast of Thousands” was the one that did it for me. I was writing for a small magazine in Indiana and that landed on my desk. I remember when the choir kicked in with “and let the SUN INSIDE” and I seriously lost my shit.

    That album will always stay with me.

    Aaron

  8. Nicktroptopolis says:

    Leaders of the Free World was the one that set me off. I had CoT and liked it (especially Fugitive Motel), so I bought LotFW the day it was released, but never really listened to it. Then a couple of years later I was listening to a random playlist, and The Everthere came up. I listened to it about a 20 times in a row, and have been absolutely in love with them ever since (also I’d like to put that forward as the Loveliest)

    They’ve been pretty much doing consecutive tours here in the uk for the past year or so, and saw them both times they played my city. As awesome as they are, both recorded and live, they didn’t really change the setlist that much. I think the first time they closed with Cast of Thousands, and the second with Station Approach, and shifted the order around a bit but they seemed otherwise similar. They did have some surprises though, including Great Expectations and Red, neither of which I’d have thought would be obvious, so I’m not complaining. Also how can you fault a band that makes a crowd sing Rod Stewart’s “Sailing” before the encore?