Friday, March 26th, 2010
Blow Yr Brains In The Morning Rain
Review of Serena-Maneesh’s S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor and giveaway
Alex John BeckI headed into SxSW last week with a list of artists I wanted to see at the festival and I actually did quite well at crossing names off of it – the only two really notable misses were Los Angeles’ Local Natives and Norwegian ragna-rockers Serena-Maneesh. I had experienced the Norwegians in Austin before – their gleefully insane set was one of the highlights of the 2006 festival – but this time out, their schedules and mine just didn’t gel.
Though our last encounter was four years ago at a short but destructive (see a trend?) show at Lee’s Palace in September 2006, I haven’t missed much with the band in the interim. It’s taken them that long to follow up their self-titled debut, which they finally did this week with the release of S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor, and if you think they’ve spent the time away learning new tricks… think again.
Quantitatively, Abyss is probably more sophisticated and melodic than its predecessor, but the underlying template remains very much the same, and it’s easily summed up as My Bloody Velvet Underground, all dreamy vocals overtop unrelenting rhythms and swirling aural chaos, divided into concise pop jewels and sprawling jams. And while the potency of the formula isn’t necessarily diminished on a visceral level – that’d be like saying that being punched in the face doesn’t hurt as much the second time – it doesn’t feel as fresh this time out, even if it may well be a better record.
It certainly contains their finest moment to date in “I Just Want To See Your Face”, a divine-sounding lost MBV track if ever there was one with vocalist Lina Wallinder channeling Belinda Butcher more than a little. And perhaps it’s telling that they’re at their best when sounding their most derivative? These, however, are considerations that are only likely to arise when you’re not actually listening to the album and have time to think objectively. When immersed in it, you’ll likely be too busy exalting in the sonic bedlam to worry if it’s really bringing anything new to the table – and that goes double for their live show, which though I haven’t seen it in some years I can’t imagine being any less chaotic.
To prove that point, Serena-Maneesh returns to Toronto on April 2 for a show at the Great Hall; tickets are $14 in advance but courtesy of Union Events, I’ve got five pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see Serena-Maneesh” in the subject line and your full name in the body. Obviously this giveaway is only good for folks in the Toronto area – to all residents of North America, including locals who enter the concert giveaway, and courtesy of 4AD, I’ve also got a limited-edition 12″ single of “Ayisha Abyss” up for grabs. If you’d like that, email me again at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want 12″ of Serena-Maneesh” in the subject line and your full name and mailing address in the body. Contest for both closes at midnight, March 31.
The Georgia Straight interviews Serena-Maneesh frontman Emil Nikolaisen.
MP3: Serena Maneesh – “I Just Want To See Your Face”
MP3: Serena-Maneesh – “Ayisha Abyss”
Video: Serena-Maneesh – “I Just Want To See Your Face”
Stream: Serena-Maneesh / S-M 2: Abyss In B Minor
Exclaim talks to Jonsi, who has released a new video from his solo record Go, originally supposed to be out this week but now pushed back until April 6. He still plays the Sound Academy on April 30 and May 1.
Video: Jonsi – “Kolnidur”
NPR’s World Cafe doubles up on the Swedes with one session featuring El Perro Del Mar and another with Taken By Trees. AndPop and Smile At Your Sister also have interviews with El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring.
MGMT, whose second album Congratulations arrives April 13, will be at the Mod Club on April 29 for an intimate-type show. Not as intimate as their surprise gig at Captain John’s Seafood Restaurant a couple weeks ago, but the Mod Club probably smells better. Tickets are $30 and go on sale Saturday at 10AM.
Whilst killing time during my accidental time off in Austin earlier this week, I happened up on the Yard Dog art gallery on South Congress where they were selling pieces by one Jon Langford, whom as it happens is in town tonight at the Horseshoe with The Sadies and in addition to the regular sort of merch, will have some of his artwork available for sale – this stuff is cool and better than a t-shirt. Check it – and the show – out tonight.
And oh yeah, the official trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is now out and it’s onomatopoeiariffic. The film is released August 13 while the sixth and final book of the series, recently revealed to have the titled of Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, will be out July 20.
Trailer: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World