Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
What We've Become
Review of The Concretes’ WYWH and giveaway
Olle KirchmeierFor a band whose name implies durability and solidity, Sweden’s Concretes have had a remarkably fluid existence. Their 2005 self-titled debut introduced them as adorably introverted Motown revivalists while the follow-up In Colour took its title to heart, broadening their palette to include bigger pop arrangements.
It all went off the rails shortly thereafter, however, as the band had their gear stolen somewhere in the American midwest and then had to cancel the remainder of their tour after lead singer Victoria Bergsman fell ill with exhaustion. Her convalescence would become a permanent departure and though she would eventually returning to music as the critically-acclaimed, folk-oriented Taken By Trees, her former bandmates were left to figure out what would become of The Concretes.
The decision was made to carry on with drummer Lisa Milberg, who had taken a couple of lead vocal turns on In Colour, stepping out from behind the kit to assume the frontwoman role full time. I didn’t hear all of their next record Hey Trouble as it wasn’t released in North America, but the couple samples I did hear were underwhelming and I got the impression that, once again, the title was quite fitting with the band documenting the growing pains of their search for a new identity to tape. But now having heard their latest effort WYWH, I’d like to give Trouble a listen if just to fill in some of the blanks of how they got to where they are now – and from the sounds of it, it’s a smoky after-hours dance club.
WYWH – as in “wish you were here” – cultivates a dark, groove-based sullen disco vibe that suits Milberg’s wounded and worn vocals perfectly. It’s not a persona I’d have expected from her given her ebullient turn on In Colour‘s “Song For The Songs”, but it’s the perfect protagonist for haunting these songs. While the singles “All Day” and “Good Evening” emphasize the pulsing, dancier side of the record, it’s in the gentler moments like “Sing For Me” that the record’s heart really beats. I’m sure that many wrote off The Concretes when Bergsman left and yes, it may have taken them a record to find their footing, but they’ve more than successfully reinvented themselves with melodicism intact and plenty of new tricks to offer.
The Concretes kick off their first North American tour since their ill-fated one almost five years ago in a couple of weeks, and will be stopping in at the Horseshoe in Toronto on January 17. Tickets for the show are $15 in advance but courtesy of Collective Concerts, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Concretes” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and have that in to me before midnight, January 12.
Remember when music videos for songs from soundtracks were montages of clips from the film? Sometimes with footage of the artist acting as though they were also in the film interspliced? Well it’s only the former and none of the latter in this clip for Jonsi’s contribution to the soundtrack for last year’s How To Train Your Dragon feature, which is too bad because the world could use a CGI-ed Jonsi.
Video: Jonsi – “Sticks & Stones”
This Is Ellie, aka blog of RTHK Radio 3 in Hong Kong DJ Ellie Davis, has an audio interview with Emmy The Great, wherein she reveals that her second album might not be ready in time for February as originally intended, that the record will almost certainly be called Virtue and also offers an in-studio performance of a new song. And that was one mighty run-on sentence.
2010 buzz band become 2011 buzz band Cults have made a date at The Horseshoe for April 4, where they will preview material from their debut album due out in May. Which hopefully means they’ll have more decent material to offer than when they were here last August. Full dates at Death & Taxes.