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Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Heart Skipped A Beat

An introduction to The xx

Photo By Owen RichardsOwen RichardsI don’t always trust myself, particularly when it comes to things like first impressions to music. Some things I think I hate grow to become dear favourites, while other things that may impress at first blush turn out to have the shortest shelf lives. But sometimes the things that instantly sound amazing actually are, and while it may still be too soon to call it, I’m prepared to put The xx in that rarefied group.

I only got a copy of their debut album xx earlier this week, but it has already received more plays than some records I’ve had for months – it simply demands to be heard and re-heard. Trying to find a place from which to begin describing it is difficult – imagine smooth trip-hop crossed with goth-tinged dreampop, seamlessly fused at the genetic level. Imagine Massive Attack busking in an abandoned tube station, armed with just guitars, bass and drum machine and drenched in reverb. It’s cold and sensual. Joyous and sullen. Dark and luminous. Detached and seductive. Confident and trepidatious. It’s dead simple and richly complex, and it’s crafted by four nineteen-year olds from the south of London. I want to use all manner of superlatives and hyperbole, but that sort of enthusiasm is sort of at odds with xx‘s utterly laid back beauty. So I’ll just say that while there’s plenty of time for its spell to be broken, for the moment it certainly looks like this is one of the best new bands/debuts/albums I’m likely to hear this year. Oh dear, that was a bit hyperbolic, wasn’t it? Ah well.

xx is out now in the UK now but North Americans who still like the physical product must wait until October 20. Those who do the digital over here can get it now, however, as it became available on iTunes, eMusic and the like this week. They’re also touring North America later this year as support for Friendly Fires – the pairing of their austere understatedness and the headliners’ unabashed dance party should be an interesting mix. Very much looking forward to the December 2 date at the Mod Club Phoenix.

The Guardian and about.com have interviews with the band, who may end up being one of the rare bands who deliver far more than what the hype promises. Oops, more hyperbole.

MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”
MP3: The xx – “Crystalised”
Video: The xx – “Basic Space”
Video: The xx – “Crystalised”
MySpace: The xx

Elbow’s Guy Garvey tells BBC that the band are, uh, elbow-deep in new songs for their next album, which they’ll start working on in earnest after they finish touring in mid-September.

Pitchfork reports that pre-orders of the US release of Manic Street Preachers’ Journal For Plague Lovers on September 15 via the band’s website will get a copy of the previously announced remix album, featuring contributions from the likes of Patrick Wolf and The Horrors, for free. Those of us who already have the album will presumably be given some other way to get it. Probably involving a further outlay of cash. Manic Street Preachers are at the Phoenix on October 4.

MP3: Manic Street Preachers – “Doors Closing Slowly” (Horrors remix)

The Line Of Best Fit has details on the fan-funded new Idlewild album, Post-Electric Blues, which will be out on October 5.

Clash talks to Noah & The Whale, who are set to release their new album The First Days Of Spring in the UK on August 31 and October 6 in North America. They also recently recorded a Black Cab Session.

Rockfeedback welcomes Emmy The Great to their digs for a lovely video session and hilarious interview. Emmy crush unabated.

To anyone wondering, Lucky Soul’s new album – still untitled – has had its release date pushed back from this Fall to January of next year. Until then, we will have to subsist on the first single. I can do that.

MP3: Lucky Soul – “Whoa Billy”

Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura talks David Lynch and inspiration with The Tripwire.

PopMatters celebrates the early years of The Wedding Present.

I Taught Myself How To Grow Old talks to Bobby Wratten, formerly of The Field Mice, about the experience of having Saint Etienne cover their “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” to much greater success than the original ever achieved.

Video: Saint Etienne – “Let’s Kiss And Make Up”

Magnet plays over/under not with a single band’s oeuvre, as they normally do, but with the bands of the Britpop era.

By : Frank Yang at 8:40 am
Category: General

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post14 Responses.
  1. Greg says:

    FYI

    FF show is at the Phoenix not Mod Club

  2. Frank Yang says:

    ah, promoter’s site said Mod Club. correction noted.

  3. danieljosef says:

    I agree whole heartedly. The XX’s debut has already jumped to the top of my favourite albums of 2009, and I’ve only had it for a week. It’s breathtaking.

  4. Ron Mexico says:

    The Xx are freaking terrible. Should’ve gone with your gut on that one, chromeo. In fact, you should ALWAYS go with your gut when it comes to music. The second you stop doing that, is when you start liking everything posted on pitchfork, and become no different than any brainless idiot who buys whatever record they hear on the radio.

  5. Frank Yang says:

    sorry, ron, wholly disagree with you on that.

  6. Frank Yang says:

    on the xx, I mean. and I’m hardly a PF drone. I won’t go near Animal Collective with a ten-foot pole

  7. Ron Mexico says:

    Yeah well… it’s clear that you changed your tune about the Xx after seeing the response it was getting on hype, which is unwarranted because the music is terrible. There’s no pop to it, it’ll never be anything more than a internet fad. Don’t be a bandwagoner.

  8. Frank Yang says:

    again, you’re completely wrong on that but think what you will.

  9. Bruce says:

    Frank, don’t dignify that screed with a response. It’s called personal taste.

  10. Chuck says:

    ^^^ I second that suggestion. I mean, I’m not even that big a fan of The Xx, but this dude’s assessment of you/Chromewaves in general is waaaaay off.

  11. ron mexico's mom says:

    ron mexico is worthless. always has been. his argument here is void, as pitchfork has already stated they don’t really like the xx. the xx album is legitimately great, Frank. your instincts were spot on here, as usual.

  12. Margaret says:

    Thank you Frank. The xx fit my mood perfectly tonight.

  13. tess says:

    hi!! i’ve been reading your blog for ages and thought maybe you’d enjoy my music :)
    http://www.myspace.com/tessnormaparks

    thanks so much!
    xxx
    tess

  14. Quick Before it Melts » The xx says:

    […] finding it extremely difficult to find an original angle with which to write about The xx.  Frank at Chromewaves already covered the “next big thing that might actually be the next big thing” angle, […]