Monday, March 9th, 2009
Review of Micachu & The Shapes’ Jewellery
Olly HearseyThe announcement that London trio Micachu & The Shapes had been signed to Rough Trade came with a short video for the song “Lips”, and curious as to who this latest labelmate to faves like British Sea Power and Basia Bulat was, I gave it a spin. And after viewing the 90-second clip, the only response I could come up with was, “uh, what?”. It depicted a scruffy-looking trio with an androgynous-looking frontperson creating a racket that seemed willfully primitive, and yet you couldn’t deny how meticulously and precisely it was all assembled – a method to the madness indeed. My initial reaction was that I never wanted to hear this again. My second reaction was to hit the repeat button.
And Jewellery, the trio’s debut – out today in UK out April 7 in North America – follows much the same pattern, simultaneously repelling and addicting with a dozen tracks of no-fi, hip-hop, anti-pop seemingly built from found sounds, circuit-bent electronics, willfully abused junk shop instruments and the hollered vocals of Mica Levi. It sounds dementedly otherworldly at first, but with repeated listens it becomes clear that it’s very much of this world – just gleefully turned inside-out and upside-down but never straying too too far into abstractionism. It’s like it knows it can only be anti-pop if there’s still some pop in there, so for every obtuse sound collage like “Ship”, there’s an only slightly bizarro melodic gem like “Golden Phone”. And while it’s nice to be able to metaphorically come up for air with tunes like that, I’m as surprised as anyone that I’m actually eager to dive back down into the depths of musical confoundment. Don’t take this as a Damascene moment that finds me abandoning good, old-fashioned pop for a life in the musical outer fringes, but I think my horizons just got a little bit wider. Just a bit.
MBV Music is currently streaming the whole of the album for today only and it’s officially unofficial Micachu day there – keep checking in for thoughts and commentary on the record from the other contributors. Drowned In Sound has an interview with Levi conducted by Emmy The Great, I Like Music offers an annoyingly paginated feature and The Telegraph profiles the band and confirms that Levi really does know exactly what she’s doing, whether it sounds like it or not.
The Sun has a feature on Polly Scattergood, whose debut self-titled album is out in the UK today. The bad news is that the North American release date is still a couple months off – May 19 – but the good news is that it’s even getting a North American release, which hopefully implies some touring/promo on this side of the pond. I got a promo of the album last week and my initial enthusiasm has proven not to be misplaced in the least.
Scotland On Sunday sits down with Charlie Fink of Noah & The Whale about their new album The First Days Of Spring, set for release sometime around the last days of Spring, in June. They play the Mod Club on April 27 and support for that tour has been announced as Ferraby Lionheart and Anni Rossi.
St Vincent has released the first MP3 from her new album Actor, out May 5.
And St Vincent’s will be teaming up with The National on a cover of Crooked Fingers’ “Sleep All Summer” for SCORE! 20 Years of Merge Records: The Covers, a cryptically-named compilation celebrating Merge Records’ 20th anniversary by means of cover songs. Details at Pitchfork. And while there’s no shortage of mouth-watering contributions on the album, this particular one jumped out at me because Dignity & Shame is by far my favourite Crooked Fingers record (and I love them all quite a bit) and Annie Clark and Matt Berninger are about as perfectly cast to step into Lara Meyerratken and Eric Bachmann’s shoes on this song as anyone on the planet. You can hear the original on the Crooked Fingers MySpace. The National are at the Kool Haus May 21, Crooked Fingers at Trinity-St Paul’s April 17 and 18.
Yes, they were here just last week but Asobi Seksu will be back on April 19 at the Mod Club as support for French composer Yann Tiersen, perhaps best known for his work scoring Amelie. Is it a pairing that makes any sense? I have no idea. But there it is. Tickets are $20 in advance.
Also in the “back so soon?” category, The Von Bondies – here in February at the Horseshoe – are back on May 29 for a gig at Lee’s Palace. Tickets for that will be $13.50.
Brooklyn’s Kevin Devine has a date at the El Mocambo on June 3. Tickets $11.
And finally, U2 will be at the Rogers Centre on September 16.