Tuesday, February 10th, 2009
An introduction to Polly Scattergood
Tom Henry JonesBy nature, I’m an album guy and prefer to let my impressions of an artist unfold over forty minutes or so. But sometimes I get swept up in the joy of the single – the one individual song – and give the “repeat” button on my CD player a workout that more than makes up for its usual state of neglect. Such was the case of “Nitrogen Pink”, the first single from UK singer-songwriter Polly Scattergood (her real name).
Musically, it unfurls from a simple, unadorned intro to a thing of great sonic grandeur in the span of five minutes, sounding like the finale to a musical set in the distant future. Not a new trick, but when executed properly – as it is here – it’s always impressive. But the centerpiece is Scattergood’s voice, a wonderfully expressive and elastic thing capable of evoking tremendous strength and utter frailty within a single phrase. Like many of her female English singer-songwriters peers do these days, Scattergood owes an immense debt to the influence of Kate Bush but like the best of that group – Bat For Lashes and Florence & The Machine come immediately to mind – she takes that inspiration and interprets it in a way that’s very much her own.
Her self-titled debut album
Other Too Endless is set for a March 9 May 19 release and based on the additional samples available on her Myspace, the addictiveness of “Nitrogen Pink” isn’t a fluke – it sounds like the record will carry forward a fine balance between theatricality and vulnerability. It’s probably a tall order to expect the entire record will tickle my ears to the extent that the first taste has, but I’m hopeful.
Yesterday was – after long last – the release date for Emmy The Great’s debut First Love and as much I’d have liked to be able to mark the occasion with a review, my copy is still somewhere between the UK and here (hopefully). So my gushing praise will have to wait for another day – instead, I’ll link to the slew of press clippings that have accompanied the release, which are worth the read because Emmy is as entertaining an interview as she is a songwriter. There’s features on Ms Moss at For Folk’s Sake, MusicOhm, BBC, Dazed Digital and The Irish Times. And though she did a quick song-by-song annotation of the record forThe Reading Evening Post a few weeks ago, the one she does for Drowned In Sound is considerably more in-depth. And also as part of what Drowned In Sound have declared “Emmy The Great week”, Emmy turns from interviewee to interviewer turning the spotlight on artists she deems worthy of attention. So far she’s talked to a couple of her bandmates about their own projects – with Tom Rogerson about Three Trapped Tigers and with Euan Hinshelwood about Younghusband – as well as with with Shilpa Ray of Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers. And to wrap my own “Emmy The Great day”, her session at Bandstand Busking is now up, with three songs and an interview.
And it’s interesting/amusing that a running theme through the interviews is Emmy’s disavowal of the whole “UK anti-folk” scene, particularly between her band and Noah & The Whale, because that’s one of the threads running through this piece in The Independent about, well, the so-called UK anti-folk scene.
And speaking of Noah & The Whale, they’re finally making up that December show which was cancelled when they decided they’d rather work on album number two – entitled First Days of Spring and due out sometime in the Spring – rather than drive around North America in Winter. They’ll be at The Mod Club on April 27, tickets $12.50. The Times checked in with the band while they were in the studio.
Sky Larkin, whose debut The Golden Spike was released yesterday, have been keeping a tour diary for Clash and Tourdates.co.uk has an interview with singer Katie Harkin. Said album will be getting a proper North American release this year as their label Wichita Recordings is setting up shop Stateside. They’ve made available a sampler of the first batch of artists they’ll be looking to introduce to folks on this side of the Atlantic.
Some additional updates and clarifications on a few recently announced shows. Firstly, the Neil Halstead show at the Drake Underground on March 21 is open to everyone, tickets $20. The invite-only anniversary thing is something else entirely.
Would it have killed Ladytron to have released their new video alongside the announcement of their Spring tour so that I could have rolled it all into one post? Apparently so. Tickets for their April 6 show at the Phoenix go on sale this Friday and will cost your $28.50.
Video: Ladytron – “Tomorrow”
Good news – Elbow are coming to town. Bad news – it’s as opener for Coldplay. They’ll be at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 29. Is seeing them play a half-hour set worth buying Coldplay tickets for? That is a question only you can answer.